Category Archives: Uncategorized

New: Podcast Contest

We’re excited to announce the first ever Toxic Bag Podcast Contest! For the next three
months we’ll be giving away free soundpacks as well as a chance to win the Grand Prize.

Here’s how it works:

We’ll ask a trivia question in each podcast for the next three months. All you have to do is send us an email with the correct answer. All the correct entries will be put into a drawing and 10 random winners receive a free soundpack from our audio library.

The winners will also be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing to be held in December.

Send all entries to: podcast@toxicbag.com

Monthly Prizes: 10 Winners – A soundpack of your choice

Grand Prize: 1 Winner – A Specimen Print and Play, Zombie bundle and a Complete Collection – A $45 Value!

Click here to get the podcasts!

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Only one monthly prize per contestant. Winners determined by random drawing from correct response emails sent to podcast@toxicbag.com. No cash substitutions. Employees of Toxic Bag Productions and DeLeo-Kaga Corporation, their families and business associates are not eligible.  Contest ends December 31, 2014.

 

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Specimen Print on Demand Cards!

Steve with cards

The captain and his card.

We’re tremendously excited to announce that we’ve set up all 122 cards for the game as a Print-on-Demand product, available from DriveThruRPG.com. Now instead of printing out, cutting out and pasting together all those cards, you can have a professionally printed deck delivered straight to your mailbox (You will still need to print out and assemble the map, counters and screen, but this does save you an awful lot of work).

The Print-on-Demand decks cost $9.99 + shipping. The Specimen print and play download costs $9.99 from Drivethru and $9.00 from Toxicbag.com.

 

Attribute deck

25 attribute cards

Character cards

7 Character cards

Crew deck

45 Crew strategy cards

Monster deck

45 Monster strategy cards

Print-on-Demand card set from DriveThruRPG

Print-on-Demand card set from DriveThruRPG

Happy Halloween!

Specimen_Zombies1

New Soundpack: sci-fi blasters and deflector shields

December’s new soundpack is Sci-Fi: Blasters and Deflector Shields: a collection of 16 energy weapon and shield sound effects for your Galactic Sci-Fi Operas. Sounds include:

• Blast Pistol – Single Shot
• Blast Pistol – Series
• Disintegrator Pistol – Single Shot
• Blast Rifle – Single Shot
• Blast Rifle – Series
• Plasma Rifle – Single Shot
• Energy Needle Gun – Single Shot
• Energy Needle Gun – Series
• Ion Gun – Single Shot
• Ion Gun – Semi Automatic
• Ion Gun – Full Automatic
• High Intensity Streaming Laser – Long Duration
• High Intensity Streaming Laser – Medium Duration
• High Intensity Streaming Laser – Short Duration
• Body Armor Field – MK I
• Body Army Field – MK II

Sci-Fi: Blasters and Deflector Shields is available for 99¢ from DriveThruRPG.com or toxicbag.com.

And as always, our Free Sound of the Month ties in with the Soundpack –it’s what we’re calling a “Streaming Neutrino Gun.” Not only can you destroy alien robot sentries by firing it, you can also make your physicist friends apoplectic just by describing it!

New Soundpack: Horror!

Our new Soundpack, “Horror #1,” is now available at toxicbag.com and drivethrurpg.com.

Continuing the tradition of the award-winning Game Masters Collection,
Horror #1 is a collection of sounds inspired by classic horror films of the 1930s and 40s.

Sounds include:

• Vampire destroyed by sunlight (scream and disintegrate)
• Vampire destroyed by sunlight (burns up)
• Vampire destroyed by sunlight (explodes)
• Drive stake through vampire’s heart
• Animating the Man-Made Monster
• Mob of Angry Villagers
• Reading the Ancient Egyptian Curse (British and American accents)
• The Sarcophagus opens
• Canopic Jar opens
• Reading the Ancient Curse and Awakening the Mummy (British and American accents)

Do I have to explain the audience principle again?

May I explain the audience principle to you? If you insult and accost them, we have no audience!” –Banky Edwards, “Chasing Amy”

I’m confused.

I thought the point of “narrowcasting” was to reach a specific, targeted audience; to have a definite set of demographic attributes your advertisers could look at and know they were definitely spending their money wisely; or at the least cynical, to provide a dedicated place for people with a certain interest to go to see programming related to that interest.

Apparently not. Apparently narrowcasting is a gateway to broadcasting; once you’ve got your foot in, it’s time to expand your viewership beyond the niche that made you successful, even if it means insulting that original constituency.

Coming off the best year in its history, SciFi Channel has announced a puzzling “re-branding;” a name change that they hope will allow them to expand their empire. They will now be known as “Syfy.”

Syfy logo

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.”

Wow. Geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys? Why don’t you push me against a locker and demand my lunch money while you’re at it, Mr. Brooks? While I’ll admit we’ve got a long way to go yet, this view of Science Fiction fans seems more than a little outdated. At the very least, it’s not representative of what we are seeing at SF conventions across America. There are more women attending cons than even 10 years ago. Add to that the incredible popularity of video games with the general public, and you wonder where Mr. Brooks is getting his market research.

“We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi,” Mr. Brooks said. “It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”

But SciFi was started as a Science Fiction network. They’re the guys who would show 16 straight hours of Twilight Zone back when they had no other programming. And SciFi fans stuck with them, through countless missteps (“Mansquito?”) before they finally found solid footing with their amazing reboot of Battlestar Galactica. The core of their programming and audience is and has always been Science Fiction. And their proposed slate of new shows is…a bunch more Science Fiction.

Mr. Howe said going to Syfy will make a difference.

“It gives us a unique word and it gives us the opportunities to imbue it with the values and the perception that we want it to have,” he said.

Oh lawdy miss clawdy. I hear some strange marketing adspeak from time to time, but that’s over the top. Then we have this:

The network worked with the branding consultancy Landor Associates and went through about 300 possibilities before selecting Syfy.

“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it,” Mr. Howe said. “It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.”

So…in order to appeal to an audience beyond geeks they tested their new name on…geeks. Brilliant.

Mr. Brooks said that when people who say they don’t like science fiction enjoy a film like “Star Wars,” they don’t think it’s science fiction; they think it’s a good movie.

Exactly. But that should be seen as an opportunity to educate the general public about Science Fiction, to foster understanding between SciFi fans and the rest of the world. It shouldn’t be used as an excuse to hide Science Fiction’s identity and rebrand it as something else.

All Along the Watchmentower

This is not a review of Watchmen. I had a fine time with the movie, and the subject of whether justice was done to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “unfilmable” graphic novel is being discussed at length just about everywhere else.

The thing that drove me crazy, though, was the use of music in the movie.

It’s not that “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder (or his music supervisor) picked bad songs to underscore certain scenes in the movie. It’s more that those choices hit the screen with the obviousness of a jackboot to the face. Not wrong choices, but easy choices. Lazy choices.

Warning: Possible Spoilers!

Witness:
–Costumed Hero History montage: “The Times They Are A Changin’.” Yes, they are, we see that. Check.

–The Comedian’s Funeral? “Sounds of Silence.” hello darkness my old friend…yeah, a sad song from the sixties that’s associated with death. Check. (Side note: I betcha the Comedian wasn’t a Simon and Garfunkel fan)

–Ozymandias? “Everybody Wants to Rule The World.” Um, check.

–Long shot of Rorschach and Nite-Owl trudging through the snow to confront the bad guy in his lair? two riders were approaching and the wind began to howl… Hendrix’ “All Along the Watchtower,” hey wow, the lyric tells us what’s happening on screen…check.

To a certain extent it’s what we call “See and Say,” where the music so directly reflects what’s on screen it’s painful. Sort of like the “Literal versions” of 80’s music videos that are floating around.

One wonders why Snyder didn’t go all the way and stick “Bad To The Bone” under Rorschach’s entrance.

Now of course, as the astute reader will point out, “All Along the Watchtower” is used in the graphic novel, over the same sequence. Is it possible that in its lyric-only form in the book, stripped of the familiar Hendrix lead guitar and vocal, the reference is considerably less cringe-inducing (more of a hint than a bombardment, as a friend of mine put it)? Or is this just a lazy choice we can pin on Moore and Gibbons rather than Snyder?

(Though I will admit that, despite my dislike of the song placement, I thought that matching the guitar gliss in the middle of the solo with Archimedes cresting the cliff was a pretty genius move.)

Here’s another thought about the music. From a certain point of view, many of those songs should not have existed. Snyder seems to want to evoke an era by using music from that era, but that’s not what he ends up doing. Instead, he evokes an era in one universe by using music from the same calendar years in another universe. It’s shorthand for the audience but it’s slightly dishonest.

The world of Watchmen diverges substantially from our world when the costumed heroes appear, and then becomes almost completely unrecognizable when Dr. Manhattan shows up, and everything in the art direction and dialog reflects that. And the pop music of the 60s, 70s, 80s would too. With a different situation in Viet Nam and a totally different government response to domestic protests, rock would not have been what it was. Look at the scene where the hippy girl puts the flower in the National Guardsman’s rifle…and then he blows her away. Fantastic scene, very powerfully evocative, but do you think in a world where that happens CSNY would have written “Ohio?” Probably not, because if that was the response to protests in 1967 (the Washington Star photo that inspired this sequence was taken on October 21, 1967 at a protest march on the Pentagon), protests would be all done with by 1970, when the Kent State shootings happened. Also, dissident musicians may well have been rounded up and imprisoned in that world. So extrapolate from that, CSNY goes away, Creedence never writes “Fortunate Son,” they lock up or disappear Lennon, the Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Country Joe and the Fish, and on and on, eradicating a healthy chunk of late 60s/early 70s music. And all the people those bands inspired…by the mid-80s you can bet “99 Luftbalons” or Tears For Fears wouldn’t be anywhere to be found; popular music in the world of Watchmen would be substantially different. So, many of the music choices violate the logic of the world that’s been created.

We talk about this in film and theatre: creating a believable world. Once you’ve created an alternate world or timeline, you shouldn’t break the rules of that world or timeline by introducing things that didn’t happen there. It breaks the contract you’ve made with your audience.

Or does it? Where’s the line between being bound to the logic of a created universe and giving the audience a signifier by which they can readily identify a setting, regardless of whether that signifier makes sense in context?

Where we’ve been…

Seems to me that there are folks who know Toxic Bag from our various stumblings-around in the Chicago storefront theatre and indie film communities over the last few years. There are also folks who remember Toxic Bag from GenCons in Milwaukee a few years back, with our sound effects CDs, “Bag Witch” cult film and 2 pm dance party in the convention floor aisle each day.

Y’all in the latter category may wonder where we’ve been hiding ourselves.

We didn’t go away, honest. About the time GenCon relocated to Indianapolis (and yeah, it’s been a few years now) we determined that the cycle of putting out a new Game Masters CD every year was pretty darn time-intensive, and if we wanted to do some of the other things we wanted to do, it may be a good idea to step back from that production cycle for awhile and do all that other stuff. So, when the next year came and the farther-from-home, considerably more pricey first Indy GenCon rolled around, we decided to sit it out.

Admittedly, time got away from us a bit. But it ain’t like we haven’t been doing anything.

We have spent the time since our last go-round at GenCon working on sound for independent feature films, shooting our own short horror and comedy films, doing sound design for lots of Chicago theatre companies, working on a series of educational cartoons, and generally doing sound, music, video editing and DVD authoring for a slew of people. We learned a ton. We’ve worn a bunch of hats and played in a bunch of pools. But late at night, during breaks in tech or taking an ear break in the studio, we always talked amongst ourselves about going back to GenCon…

…hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, now. There’s no big Toxic Bag GenCon ’09 announcement here. But we do have a bunch of new RPG-related projects in the works, for the first time in a while. And we’ve been in touch with some old friends who are working with us on some pretty cool stuff. We’ll be talking about it all here and at the Toxic Bag website very soon. We hope you’ll be as excited about it all as we are.

Having never really left, it’s good to be “back.”

One more thing to keep track of…

Someone I’ve recently become friends with suggested to me that I ought to start a blog. I have been thinking about it for awhile, and since establishing the Donny Who Loved Bowling Facebook page last month and the Toxic Bag Twitter feed yesterday, I figure I may as well drop back to mid-decade and finally start the blog as well. My concern, as I told my friend, was that I wouldn’t have much to say. We’ll just have to see how that turns out.

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