Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Astro-Zombies Vs. The Man Who Thought Life

9/30/14

I have two things to hit on this week, I don’t think either are that fun or life shattering, but maybe you’ll read them, maybe you’ll even enjoy them, you might even chuckle, and if nothing else it’ll be a distraction from your own stuff for a few minutes. So without further ado…

#1 - Sometimes in life we do and say things that are not what we had intended or that don’t come out the way we want or that can end up scorching the earth around us in their aftermath. We all do it. Hell, I could make a cottage industry out of all the bridges I haven’t just burned, but the ones I’ve nuked from space just to be sure. I think the real key is to understand that the people who care about us, truly care about us will forgive us our transgressions, real and imagined, and try make our relationships stronger after something like that has unfortunately occurred.

We can spend large quantities of our lives destroying ourselves in an orgy of self-imposed guilt and ‘woulda’s, coulda’s, & shoulda’s’. I do it all the time. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to that. I live through my own personal string theory of alternate dimensions where I didn’t say that thing, or didn’t do that thing, or didn’t react poorly, or just forgave and moved on, or took into account the other person’s feelings more before I acted every single day. The reality is I can’t go back, none of us can.

And we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t go back in our own personal TARDIS and try to ‘fix’ things. If we fix things we don’t learn anything, we don’t evolve, we don’t have the opportunity to learn, and therefore we miss the chance to be ‘better’. Not to mention if we changed that reaction we would change the outcome. The outcome, where we get to this point of understanding, to this point of learning, to this particular point known as 'now' and become this version of who we are is far more important in the end than the crappy thing that was done or said.

We are not perfect. Not a single one of us. We all mess up on a minute by minute basis. We will continue to mess up over and over and over again. We just have to make sure we learn from those mistakes, we just need to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistake over and over again; instead we need to go out and make all new, different mistakes, and then learn from those as well. Relish in your humanity, in your imperfection, and never cease learning and striving to be better.

Do those things and realize that no matter what you have said, no matter what you have done those that care about you always will. That Love, in all its myriad forms and incarnations should be, and is for me, unconditional.

#2 - I thought I had sort of shaken free from the grip of the ‘Black Dog’ that has haunted me for a bit over a month, but I haven’t. This morning it has loomed large. I have that old familiar feeling of a weight on my chest so heavy it has literally collapsed my insides. And yet I am not going to let this be the focus of my day. I’m not going to remain beholden to this horrendous feeling.

It doesn’t get to ‘own’ me, control me, or steal from me the spark that is me. The one thing that having come out of the dark clouds at the end of last week gave me was a reminder on perspective. I was able to emotionally get my feet under me by Friday and felt far more like myself, sure it was fleeting, but in that I was able to gain a reserve of resolve and energy. It is taking a lot of energy to be and stay positive, but it’s all worth it. It is testing my will not to see negativity in everything, to feel deserted, to feel the false sting in every little thing, but that just isn’t true. That is not reality. And as much of my life as I spend in thoughts of everything BUT reality, I refuse to have that twisted into some typhoon of self-loathing and imagined slights.

Instead I am choosing to try and pour that energy into something creative, I’m trying to muster some focus, and I’m gripping as hard as I can to any shred of positivity that comes across my path. I think that is all you can do. I think when I’m down this low, looking at how far I could still fall I have to take a deep breath and try to look up. I have to look up and concentrate on the climb in front of me not the fall behind me. It isn’t easy, it never is, and I know I’ll keep slipping, stumbling, losing some ground, but more than anything else I know I’ll keep scraping, clawing, and fighting to get to something better, a ‘better’ version of me.

Sorry. I know that neither of those little streams of consciousness are that overly enjoyable. I know that it isn’t fun to read about me bitching and moaning nor is it super awesome to listen to me get preachy. I just really wanted to get those things off my chest, to take that weight off of my shoulders. I’ve done that, so let’s finish up with some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- Happy belated Birthdays to THE Karl & Master Kedrin 4.0! Thanks for letting us share your big days.

- The switch over to 5E is now in full swing. With the renewal for my DDI subscription near I opted to just get out of 4E altogether. I know it was not the easiest decision for my Campaigns, players, supporters, and detractors. However, I decided it was time. The groups are coming together finally and we’ve lost some folks; Good luck and gawd’s speed El Bobert-O! And we’ve welcomed back some wayward souls, FINALLY The Koala has come BACK to the D&D TABLE! It sounds as if we might have some other folks leaving to form another group. The reality is if people are playing and having fun I don’t care if it’s with me or with someone else. I’m re-pouring through the PHB, I’m prepping for our Microscope sessions in October, and I’m letting my imagination try and formulate some interesting ideas. I’m getting my focus, my desire, but most importantly my enthusiasm back. We’ll see what happens in this brave, new Known World.

- Mighty Mike has started a blog; Michael James Harmon’s Basement Of Sleaze. It is a blog dedicated to genre cinema; you should all be reading it.

- So my DCM Kickstarter miniatures finally arrived. The packaging was completely smashed up, my Kraken has some paint that has come off it, one of my mermaids is missing its staff, my giant plant monster was broke, and all my Giant Skeletons has warped swords. I know DCM is attempting to ‘make it right’, and I admire that. I like them as a company, but I think this may have killed my desire to give them any more of my money for another Kickstarter. This one was SO long overdue that it felt like a Cool Mini Or Not Kickstarter, which by the way just because you keep sending me updates of miniatures doesn’t mean I’m still not irritated that what I paid for isn’t in hand you asshats. I think DCM is run by very nice people, with a vision, and a desire to make quality products at affordable prices. I also think that doesn’t always translate to success.

- We might Podcast on Thursday. I think I type that every week…

- James and his Magical Beard and I watched the 2014 CHIKARA King Of Trios, all three nights. I’m not sure how I can get across just how amazing it was. CHIKARA has a tendency to blow the doors off during King Of Trios weekend, and this was no exception. Whereas in the past I think the quality of matches really was the calling card of most of these events this year it was trumped by the storytelling. There was a HUGE call back to the B.D.K. story, we saw Deucalion terrifyingly unmasked, the Greenhorn Militia got what they thought they wanted, Delirious’ claim to destroy Ultra Mantis Black’s ‘world’ looks to finally have started to come to fruition, Jigsaw left the Gekido, the new Doctor Cube was revealed, the fate of the Snow Troll is sadly known, and Eddie Kingston’s tale has come full circle finally. The entire show was cathartic in a lot of ways, as it took a LOT of the heaviness of this Flood Vs. CHIKARA story and finally gave us a taste of the tide turning. It left me wondering just what we are going to see in the last few ‘episodes/events’ of the Season. I truly think we need to see Kingston destroy Jimmi Jacobs, Kid Cyclone either needs to go full blown Heel Turn or destroy someone in the Flood permanently, we need to see who has the Estonian Thunderfrog’s Hammer Of Peace, and Icarus must have a face to face showdown with Deucalion. To me these are the things that need to happen! As you can see I don’t need questions answered, I just need to keep seeing CHIKARA take me on this strange, wonderful, emotional, and brilliant ride. Thank you James & CHIKARA!

- Thank the Gawds that The Chris Gethard Show is back. WHEW!

- I painted last week! Yeah, you just read that right. I painted a bunch of rats, some swarms of flesh eating beetles, a magpie, some villagers, and some creepy giant ticks. I used a lot of dry brushing, soft brush strokes, and some ‘color up’ techniques to get decent results. Cassandra really liked what I finished; I’m not as pleased but realize that they are another step up from other things I’ve painted. I think I might paint tonight. Perhaps I’ll go on a Pugwampi RAMPAGE!

- For those that know, ‘Ditto Forever’….

- We finally watched the first episode of the 2nd season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Let me say that I was pretty ‘meh’ on the first part of the first season, but I stuck with it and the show grew on me. The 2nd Season is already killing it. We got a cinematic version of the Absorbing Man, and it was done in such a seamless and inventive way that I was left grinning ear to ear. The show has a fallen into a very ‘Torchwood’ vibe for me, as I don’t feel like ANYONE is safe from being maimed &/or killed so every episode has some potential gravity to it. So if you didn’t care for Season 1 or dropped it early in, I implore to give it another go.

- I need a haircut.

I think that is all I got...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dancer In The Dark Vs. When The Wind Blows

9-22-14


Off and on in my life I fight these bouts with just unfathomable sadness. I find myself with this bottomless pit in my insides; it is like a gaping maw that swallows all the joy and energy around me leaving me with a profound feeling of emptiness. I don’t know when they’ll come, I don’t know how long they’ll stay, and I don’t ever know how I’ll deal with them. They just sort of erupt like a silent volcano, and they scorch the Earth around me.

I’m going through this right now, and have been for about a month or so. The thing is when this occurs I get to a place mentally where I see everything through a skewed prism. I seem to want things, but the reality is I don’t. I surround myself with people to armor myself against what I feel, but honestly it is a temporary band aid, and in the end I’m left alone with that black hole in my guts. I can do a good job during this time focusing on the needs of others, throwing myself at problems that only affect me peripherally, and just trying to wrap myself up in other people.

When left to my own devices I just want to retreat to the bed room or to the basement and hide in mundane tasks. It always feels like if I don’t I will literally curl up into myself and disappear entirely. There are all these small inconsequential things that usually just nip at the edges of my confidence, my emotional state, and my mind but when I’m struggling with this I feel like they are literally chomping chunks away of who I am.

These things tend to pass after a while. I stumble through them and eventually grasp tightly onto some coping strategy and get back to who I am. I think the thing that makes each one of these stretches of depression so terrifying for me is I start to wonder if this is it. Will this be the one I don’t come out of? Is this where it started for my Father? Is this what every day of the rest of my life is going to be like?

I wake up every day during these periods with a horrible fear and dreadful anxiety that I will never find my way out of this maze of melancholy. I feel rundown, my brain runs slow, I have less than zero motivation for anything, I am hard to be around, and I can’t seem to find joy in much of anything. Seriously, when you lose your appetite for food, for sex, for most meaningful interactions it is frustrating. It is frustrating for me, and then in turn becomes frustrating for everyone in my immediate sphere.

The thing is it is just as if not MORE so frustrating for me. I know this irrational. I know that I don’t have any issues that should be bringing me low. I am well aware how I can become this absolute wellspring of negativity literally sucking the joy out of a ten mile radius. The fact that I’m fighting this internal struggle with myself essentially doesn’t make any sense. People who have never dealt with that self-doubt, self-loathing, and the loss of self into an abyss of bleakness have no point of reference. Their ‘help’, their misperception, and their notions of what I should do and how I should feel only add to the feelings of worthlessness.

It is just a never ending cycle of anxiety, stress, and depression. I can’t figure it out and that makes me feel like crap. The ‘help’ of others can’t help and that makes us all feel worse. And that ends up feeding into more frustration, more anxiety, then more stress over that anxiety, and eventually just more feelings of hopelessness as I wallow in the confusion, sadness, and low grad anger about feeling any and all of this. I end up just swallowing it all down and trying to put on a good ‘face’. That way I don’t have to share that part of me or bring anybody along with me on that journey.

The reality is I do a pretty good job of faking my way through these times with most people. I just try to feed off of their moods and do what they do. Last night was a L.E.W.G.I. event and I laughed long and hard about a great deal of very funny comments, and yet the moment that they all left the veneer comes off. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy that time, hell it isn’t like I don’t on some level enjoy any of the time I get to enjoy with any of my Friends it is just so F’Ning fleeting.

Everything feels so fleeting. I don’t know why I can’t talk about it, why when I’m asked about it I either lie through my teeth that everything is ‘fine’, or that I’m just ‘tired’. I just find it so hard to express myself verbally about this. Even these words feel paltry and pathetic as opposed to the actual feeling of it all, or in some cases the lack of feeling about everything. All I can do is put my head down, push forward, and keep trying to find some coping mechanism that will help me shake off this current stretch of this ‘thing’. And hope. I can hope that this isn’t the time that it never goes away.

I don’t even have any RANDOM CRAP(!) for you, honestly I just don’t care enough to write anything more…



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Man Who Wasn't There Vs. Wings Of Desire

9/16/14

As I try to wash the taste out of my mouth from all the horrible news associated with sports figures, lament the fact that I couldn’t sleep and when I fleetingly did it was full of weird dreams, and try to work through my DM burnout I decided to try and throw together some ideas for things I’m looking forward to doing in 5th Edition.  So without further ado;

BRAINSTORMING FROM THE EDGE OF OVERTIREDNESS!

- Using Microscope To Fill The 1,000 Year Gap Between 4E & 5E – I am fascinated by the game Microscope.  I have to actually play it, but the rules, the vibe of the game, and what it can do in the realm of campaign building makes me giddy from the potential.  My idea is all current campaigns will be done in April of next year.  In May I’ll run a few sessions of Microscope to prep the world for 5E.  I think it gives the PC’s a vast amount of say in how the world will function, it allows them to carry forth any threads that they feel don’t get resolved in the next 8 months, and lets them invest in a way that only serves to help all of us craft something fun.

- Something Wicked This Way… - I have a desire to run a Salem’s Lot style adventure at low levels where an incredibly nasty ‘baddie’, maybe a Vampire or a Cambion or some other sort of very dangerous to 1st through 5th levels, shows  up in the town the PC’s live in and through some proxies begins converting the town.   I thought about even using The Apostles Of She Who Walks In Beige Transcendence, but I think I’ll keep that for something else.  I want this to be something where these proxies go to the upper echelons of the town early and turn them to their side making it hard for the PC’s to attack the ‘Bads’ directly without bringing down the local constabulary on them.  By the time the town realizes what is and has really occurred it is too late.  At that point I want the PC’s to have to make that decision of whether or not they stay and try and wipe out this evil, possibly dying in the process, and being forced to kill former friends and family OR take the survivors and flee. 

- The Apostles Of She Who Walks In Beige Transcendence – The Cult Of The Yellow Sign in hiding in almost plain sight.  There was an old adventure in either Dungeon or Dragon magazine revolving around a traveling theatre group that is really a Cult Of The Yellow Sign in disguise.  I like it so much I want to use it, but not as directly.  I do want to eventually use that as the climax, but until then I’m thinking of using the Apostles as some sort of Masons-esque ‘secret’ society that is made up of local rich merchants who don’t really understand what they are worshipping or doing.  There would be an outside force in disguise pulling the strings, perhaps a Doppleganger.

- Many Tribes, Many Variations, All Danger – I have a LOT of Orc and Goblin miniatures.  Most of these have a lot of variation in them.  I like that, however when I want a group that feels like a military force it doesn’t always work out very well.  It feels disjointed.  I’ve decided that in 5E I’ll have a story reason why Orcs & Goblins have so many variations, that I currently can’t really reveal.  I also think that having things set up that way makes things far more interesting for the PC’s.  Here is my example.  The Hanging Tree Wood might be home to three tribes of Goblins.  Each of these tribes has their own levels of aggression, leadership, and motivation.  The Stone Foot Tribe might raid the outskirts of the local village, stealing chickens and defiling grain reserves in acts of abject mischief all to appease a Cockatrice they have set up as their Gawd.  This Gawd may or may not be what it seems.  The Bloody Strings Tribe worships the same Gawd as a small Cult cell in town.  They are used by this Cult to do ‘smash & grab’ jobs to gather items that their Master desires, or raid rival merchant’s caravans on the Copper Coin Road that cuts through The Hanging Tree Wood, and even occasionally commit kidnappings for ransom.  They have taken on the pragmatic and patient demeanor of their Master making them very dangerous.  Finally, the Jubilant Caps are obsessed with the consumption of local mushrooms that inspire them to dream laden lethargy interspersed with homicidal brutality.  They are like the fungus they consume; numerous, hard to find, and almost impossible to be rid of.  They attack with no rhyme or reason and do so to the bitter end.  Unfortunately for all, a local unsavory element has now started harvesting the mushrooms in order to refine and sell the final product as a drug, bringing the Jubilant Caps closer and closer to civilization as their natural supply is rapidly disappearing.  What was once a series of infrequent attacks has now become a weekly occurrence.  These are just rough off the top of my head ideas, but I feel like there are some good plot hooks dangling right there for the taking.

- The Church Of Divine Waiting – They sing hymns constantly and wait for a service that will never begin because they are ‘Unworthy’.  This would be a strange background group that would most likely never be a threat to the PC’s, but instead I imagine the guys in the air ports from the 70’s, actually I’m thinking the movie Airplane.  They make annoying attempts to convert people in a cloyingly sweet manner.  They would work as a great misguided organization or even as a red herring.

- Only In Dreams – I am enamored with the PC’s being attacked in their Dreams, with the Dreamlands being a place where certain PC’s might be able to travel to, and therefor to tangential dimensional spaces like Lovecraft’s Leng.  I think that the Paizo crew does an INCREDIBLE job of utilizing things like this and since the Known World has been rife with incursions from horrible entities from beyond Space & Time I want to pull back from the overt dangers of what lurks between the stars and more the subtle, localized, and immediate threats.  Also, I love The Dream Warriors sequel to Nightmare On Elm Street and having the PC’s be able to do something like that sounds sort of ‘Boss’.

- Brotherhood Of Sark – Sark ‘The Strangler’, is a cleric of the God of Murder who teaches others the ‘Soft Art’, he then raises his ‘offerings’ as Cougher Corpses.  There have been a number of Sark’s, it is less of a name and more of a title now.  One thing that I think 5E is going to let me do is tell stories on smaller scales early on with a much higher threat level.  Having what amounts to an Assassin’s Guild that finds ‘beef’ with the PC’s and attempts to end them repetitively has some legs.  In 4E my PC’s would have tracked these guys down to their home and wiped them off the face of the Known World in a heartbeat.  In 5E they’ll have to work for it.  I also need to make sure I make this insidious in nature sort of a Stranglers Of Bombay vibe might work.

- Absolute Power Leads To Absolute Order – A Modron or some other servitor of Absolute Law finds itself stuck in the Known World and decides to bring the Word Of Law to the masses.  In its teachings a loosely affiliated group of Knights form an Order.  While seemingly ‘Good’ their adherence to this strict Word Of Law starts to show that Good and Evil no longer matter only Law.  This of course brings them into direct conflict with the PC’s.  It would be interesting if the PC’s had a character in the Party who had a very strong Lawful bent.  Would they feel a kinship or repulsion of Absolute Law without compassion or even truth?

- The Succors Of Mother’s Milk – A Cult dedicated to Antaia, The Witch Queen (Book Of Fiends, Legions Of Hell Vol. 1 in 3E).  This is a secret society of Witches, which find themselves forever at odds with other Witch Cults.  Early in 4E I had what I’ll call the ‘Clovertail Group’ that unfortunately didn’t last due to people’s ‘Real Life’ schedules and responsibilities.  One of the things I wanted to use was Witch Cults, warlock pacts, the whole idea of Witch Hunters using trials to hold communities in abject terror and therefor keep them under their thumb.  I can’t help but think of The Witchfinder’s General, possibly Sleepy Hollow, and numerous Mario Bava films for the vibe I’m looking for.  I think I also want that idea of things that are going on out in the woods that are bad and vile, but so unknown that the township itself is afraid to act or intervene.  I’m also thinking that this isn’t where the PC’s are originally from, but perhaps a relative or a former friend calls for their aid after the disappearance of son or daughter.  I do feel that while this one is loaded with clich├ęs and obvious homages it has a LOT of legs.

- ALL YOUR PUGWAMPIs BELONG TO US – I am VERY intrigued to see just how easy it will be to effectively port Monsters over from other editions, Pathfinder included, to 5E.  My first and foremost attempt will be Pathfinder’s resident dog faced Gremlin variation, the Pugwampi.  In fact I’m going to use them much like they appear in Pathfinder, tiny dog-men who worship the Gnolls as Gawds, and produce a bad luck aura.  I really want to bring Gnolls back to the forefront as big time antagonists in 5E since I steered away from them in the campaign world of late.  The idea of hyenas, Pugwampis, and Gnolls all being around one another brings me to the idea of reasonable Monster Ecology.  This is something I think I’ve been pretty bad at by and large in most of the D&D games I’ve ever run.  I feel like I could be better at it.  Monster groupings should make more sense, and I’m already starting to work on this pre-emptively.  Hopefully this will make it far easier to run a hex crawl or throw together impromptu adventures/dungeons.

- The Guild Of Mute Assassins – The Clutch song by the same name is such fertile ground for you to pull and pluck ideas from.  I have thought about having the Guild come after a PC as a birthright.  Maybe an uncle or other distant relative is a member and wishes to ‘induct’ the PC so they send wave after wave of these mute assassins to ‘test’ them.  At the same time the Guild begins eliminating threats to the PC’s.  At some point I want the PC’s to be forced to weigh the pro’s and con’s of being associated or even members of a secret society of killers for hire.  Oh that and the final sign of devotion which would be the cutting out of one’s tongue.

- A Harsh Winter – A small cabal of Wizards in a nearby abandoned keep have for 21 years demanded the tribute of the town in the form of three young people every three years on the last day of autumn.  This is generally done through lottery and in private.  The town’s parents are brought together in a closed door meeting and draw lots.  The teenagers are then abducted and taken to a fate unknown.  Two years ago Jacob Hiedline lost his eldest son to the lottery, and subsequently lost his wife to her distraught suicide through the mass consumption of potent gnomish spirits.  In his desolation and grief he formed a plot; he would become mayor and end this Lottery.  In a public spectacle he outs the leaders of the community, exposes the Lottery, and ends the foul tribute practice.  A week later a winter like no other sets in, the food stores of the town find themselves victims of vermin and rot, and something unnatural has begun stalking the young people of the town through the whipping winds and driving snow.  Mayor Hiedline is desperate to protect his town, but realizes it is beyond his control.  Enter the PC’s.  Again I’m finding some inspiration in things like Stephen Kings’ ‘Storm Of The Century’, every 60’s Fantasy movie where a wizard abducts a princess, and of course John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’.  I like the idea of a location adventure first where the PC’s have to deal with horrible weather that limits so much of what they can do at a range, and where the elements are an enemy themselves.  Then we get the classic ‘Crawl’ where they have to deal with traps, servitors, mini-bosses, and eventually the ‘Big Bads’ themselves.  The nice thing is you could make this as nasty as you want depending on the players.  It could be ‘PG’ed down for an audience that couldn’t deal with it, or made very disturbing.  

- The Infinite Circle – A Yuan-Ti cult or potential society that is seen as a fashionable religious choice for those that consider themselves ‘Learned’.  It is built around prophecies, which on the surface seem benign, but beneath are a long term plan to return ‘The First Race’ to its place of power in the world.  In the past I’ve used the Yuan-Ti as ‘The First Race’ hidden just below the surface of now waiting to come up and claim what was once theirs, I think it is time to potentially revisit this.  I think the Yuan-Ti is a VERY difficult race to use effectively, so I’m contemplating going one of two ways with it.  First would be they have arrived.  They are ‘Out’, possibly have their own lands, culture, and are a mystery to everyone else.  The other races that live in their dominion seem very content by and large, even in absolute servitude.  I’m thinking that they could possibly be in the mold of a more diplomatic version of Melinbone from the Elric stories.  They actively send diplomats, recruit, and show how ‘evolved’ their society is.  Just beneath that veneer is the truth that they are as ‘alien’ to most of the other races in the Known World as something that actually fell from the sky.  I’m almost thinking of using ‘V’, the old alien TV show, as a bit of inspiration.  The Yuan-Ti would show a land built on prosperity, advancement, arcane scholarly pursuits, and servitude.  While beneath the surface slavery, dark practices, sacrifices to profane Lost Gawds, and open Orc slave rebellions are taking place.  I like the idea of the PC’s either being forced to team up with the Orcish equivalent of Spartacus or giving them up to a society that will gleefully consume them.  My second idea is more along the lines of Robert E. Howards take in both the King Kull and ‘Worms Of The Earth’.  The Yuan-Ti and their agents are among us, they work behind the scenes to undermine and replace those in power, they grant horrible boons that serve their purposes of upsetting civilizations and propagating their species, and don’t feel any desire to openly rule when they can do so behind the scenes.  I feel like the 2nd option is the easier one, the more obvious one, while the 1st ones forces the PC’s to deal with something that on the surface seems ok, while is obviously corrupt.   

- Home Is Where The Wallet & Heart Are – With 5E and the shrinking of the PC’s world I need to go back to my ‘Clovertail’ style of building and make the home town a compelling place to be.  The NPC should be far more than information dumps, far more than places to sell loot, and far more than potential enemies.  I think I’m going to borrow heavily from the Apocalypse World/Monsterhearts style of play here and have the PC’s tell me just who their neighbors are.  I’m also thinking of using the city building on note cards to have each PC make up their neighborhood/area of the village.  If I can get them to sort of help me build things and therefor have immediate attachments to characters who they are associated with it will give me a plethora of hooks to draw from to form a supporting cast that makes logical sense, has resonance, and is fodder for future tales.

Hopefully that inspires some of you and gives others ideas on how I just sort of use stream of consciousness, film, popular culture, other games, and other strange stimuli to throw together what amounts to the foundations of campaigns.  Either that or some seeds you can steal from liberally.  Either way let’s knock out some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- Team TROLLSTRONG trolled so hard last night, SO hard in fact that the phrase ‘Meaty Hawgs’ was born, thank you The Geneious.  This coupled with tales of the Yo Randy (!) and Sweet D. nuptials #BaronCorbin, James & his Majestic Beard’s bridesmaid romance evaluations, RAW being halfway decent, ALL the Popcorn, and us absolutely kicking ass and taking names in record time in our adventure led to a wonderful night.  I had fun beyond words.  In addition my copy of Skull & Shackles arrived.  I know we might take a short break after Rise Of The Runelords, but I for one am excited to be a Pirate!  I might see if I can form another Pathfinder group with Casual Doug, Master Kedrin 4.0, THE Karl, Cassandra, and maybe a bamboozled La Randita Rojo.  Who knows…

- That Chili in the downstairs fridge is calling my name.  I don’t know how long I’ll be able to resist its siren song.

- I backed the World Wide Wrestling RPG’s Kickstarter.  For a while now the members of L.E.W.G.I. have been looking for a RPG to get together and play.  We seriously contemplated Know Your Role, but the rules are just too damn crunch heavy.  WWW has the Apocalypse World engine going for it, which I LOVE.  It plays fast, and the Beta rules are out for mass consumption for free.  Some of the finer nuances in the rules are still a bit vague to me, but I’ve only read the rules once.  I plan on re-devouring them again and again until I feel I can run and teach it with ease.  I have sent out the clarion call to those who I think might be interested and I hope I get some takers.  I’m very excited to run a trial game as ‘Creative’ and just see what my fellow Gentlemen think.  

- I have decided to make all my Night Of Champions picks based upon the logic of booked strong on the ‘Go Home’ RAW you will LOSE at the PPV. 

- No Antagonist Relations Podcast this week as Zack Attack is low on Hit Points from the constant at will attacks of the place that pays him.  Instead Magic Mike and I shall sit down and discuss our first impressions, expectations, and worries about 5E.  We might also talk other RPG’s and board games that currently hold our interest.  It’ll be Nerdery heavy, but I truly think it’ll be damn swanky.

- To those that know, “Ditto Forever!”

- I promise I’m going to try to be done with this whole subject for a while after this.  I want to give a kudos to the Vikings brass for proving the old adage that it can indeed get worse.  You go from taking a proactive approach to re-instating the ‘alleged’ abuser.  You don’t follow your own internal logic where you’ve dismissed folks in the past who have had domestic abuse issues.  Oh wait, that is unless they are a starter, like Chris Cook, OR a star like Adrian ‘Switch’ Peterson.  In that case you ‘let the legal process play out’.  Right.  You are building a publically funded stadium and the poster person for your ‘brand’ is a guy who beats his kids.  That’s right kids, because we are getting even more tales of more of his children from other mothers getting injured during ‘whuppins’.  I had a passionate discussion about this last night with a Friend who raised some good points, and honestly we don’t agree on everything and I’m ok with that.  We are allowed and in many cases SHOULD have different opinions.  I’m fine with folks who want to blame it on ethnicity, cultural, regionalism, upbringing, etc.  Seriously, you can give me any number of factors that as to why this occurs and why Peterson is going through this.  My question would be two fold; 1) When can I come by and ‘discipline’ your 4 year old with a stick 2) Why shouldn’t we hold people who make millions of dollars portraying themselves as role models for a company that takes public funds accountable?  I am a massive human being, but I guarantee I’m not anywhere near as strong as Peterson.  I would never hit a child in any way because first off it could hurt them, and secondly it doesn’t teach anything except that when you are mad hitting is the answer.  That isn’t parenting, hell it isn’t even disciplining it is punishment and in reality it is abuse.  Secondly if you are going to take my tax money to build another alter to millionaires and billionaires then I want them to be a real representative for the community as a whole.  I don’t like being represented by a man who repeatedly beats a child with a stick until he causes injury.  Have you ever been beaten by a parent?  I was.  I had a mentally ill father, and he would tell you that he never spanked his boys, but he did beat them unmercifully sometimes.  I turned out ok, I guess, but the big thing my dad told me when I got older was how much he regretted doing that, how much it embarrassed him, and how he felt he failed as a father.  I learned.  You don’t do that.  There is a better way.  Hell, I’ve seen my brother who went through the same treatment learn to be better than that.  In fact he is an amazing Father and he doesn’t need to ‘whup’ anyone to do that.  Oh and by the by, I’m originally from Kansas, so I am unmoved by the ‘it’s a Southern thing’, that is an asinine excuse.  What will it take for people to understand that this is no joke?  Does it take a video of him beating the kid like it did with Ray Rice and his now wife?  Aren’t the pictures taken a WEEK later bad enough?  Like all things I feel strongly about, I can go on and on and on about this.  I truly hope that over time we all remember it has less to do with a guy who may or may not play football again and more about a child, or children if new things popping up are to be believed, being beaten in a way that is ABUSE.  What does it say about us as a society that we are having such a hard time seeing that?

Well that was longer and less satisfying than I had hoped.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Wildcats Vs. Any Given Sunday

9/15/14

UGH!  I was asked a few weeks ago if I liked Football anymore.  If the game that gave and took a whole lot to and from me still holds any meaning.  The answer is complicated.  I wish I was better at explaining this.  Football was very important to me growing up.  It was a place where I got to be with my Friends and be a part of something bigger than myself.  It was a place where I learned a lot of lessons on what to do and what not to do later in life.  I think more than anything it taught me that if I wanted something bad enough and put enough work into it I could achieve it, or at least some of it.

Football also showed me that weird thing where adults live vicariously through their children, it showed me that some people think that destroying a kid or young adult verbally serves as ‘motivation’, and that sometimes hard work doesn’t mean anything.  Football also took from me.  It most likely will have taken years off my life in the end, and it definitely has taken ever getting out of bed without significant pain away.

I know that all sounds really negative in a lot of ways, but it is truly more balanced than that.  Some of my fondest flickers of memory are of playing football with my Friends growing up.  Of spending hour catching routes, of running until I thought I had nothing left and being spurred on by my teammates to give just a little bit more, and of forming bonds that in a lot of ways last to this very day.  I don’t really count my time playing in college, because while I learned a lot about how to and how not to coach I really didn’t form any relationships, and I certainly had no fun.

Where football came to mean the most to me was being given the opportunity to coach.  First as a ‘consultant’ or whatever you want to call it for an Iron Range high school under the wing of a former Friend of mine who was the Defensive Coordinator.  I took every lesson I had learned on what to do and every experience I had as a player about what I hated and really feel that I helped make a difference in two years.  I also learned there that the ‘Old School’ ideal dies hard, and once I had helped put in the ‘X’s & O’s’ I was no longer needed.  I think it says something about what you are doing when you don’t want someone around because they are too ‘fun’.  In highs school it is still a game.  A GAME.  It should still be fun, those young people will have plenty of things in life come along that will not be ‘fun’, let them relish in it now.

My next two coaching experiences were far more enjoyable.  Again I was asked to ‘consult’ this time for an Iron Range semi-pro football team.  I think the real idea was to get me to play again, and believe me the idea crossed my mind, but one lesson I have learned is sometimes the mind is willing, but the body is simply no longer able.  My body was just no longer really able.  I could fake it for a while, but I knew that I was basically playing with fire, and would eventually be burned.  However, I again got a chance to learn, to refine, and to get a better understanding of the game.

Coaching junior league football in Duluth was one of the single most wonderful experiences of my life.  Sure some of it was coaching with my Friends and sometimes against my Friends, but what really stuck with me, what resonates the most, is I was given the opportunity to help my community, to give back.  Teaching the game is something that I enjoy, it is something I find extremely rewarding, but it pales in comparison with teaching respect, accountability, and fostering the growth of kids. 

And I think that is where the rub is.  I was given the opportunity to take the lessons that a game can teach and ensure that they were taught in a fashion that promoted hard work, rewarded unselfishness, built confidence instead of destroying it, and hopefully set an example that you can be and do whatever you work for.  “Nothing worth having is ever easy, if it was everyone would always get what they wanted.”  Telling that to middle school age kids, or hell adults or high school kids and have them get it.  Really get it.  THAT is what it is all about.  It is about the joy of an autumn day with your Friends trying as hard as you can, and hopefully seeing the fruits of your labor.  It is about knowing that the guy next to you is working as hard as or harder than you are because you have a common goal.  It is about sacrificing for the better of the group your personal needs or wants.  In the end it is about Friendship and camaraderie forged in the fires of blood, sweat, and yes even tears.

I think that is what hurts me the most as a person.  It is watching spoiled millionaires paid by soulless billionaires corrupt something that I both love and loathe it in equal quantities at times, but one that defined a huge portion of my life.  It stings to watch and know that beyond the confines of high school it is just a business and therefor: Money > People.  It bothers me to no end that ‘Heroes’ have been made of men who lie, they cheat, they abuse, they steal, and they kill.  These men make their living off of being ‘Heroes’ and whether they want to believe it or not Role Models.  I think that is why it hurts so much to see them justify actions like taking steroids, bullying, and beating women and children.

At no point did I learn any of that through Football.  I saw things happen, and I know it is part of the ‘culture’, and I KNOW that I’ve always tried to make sure that I taught the game in a way where it wasn’t.  However, I’m beginning to feel like that doesn’t matter.  That when individuals are treated like demi-gods because they can run fast, or throw a ball, or tackle, or whatever and are never held accountable it sends a horrible message.  And yes I know that there are plenty of people who do AMAZING charity work and are pillars in their community; however that is what I expect.  In the game as I was taught and the way I taught it is you are a leader in the community, BE that leader.  Represent yourself, your community, and your team in a way that shows the price you paid is worth the pride you get to take in that and who and what you represent.  You set the example, and those that went down a similar road I did and still refuse to do that deserve, at best, only our scorn.

So think what I’m trying to say is I still love football.  I still love the smell of a crisp autumn morning, the sound of the group chanting as one, the tinges of sadness that happen when you fail, and the adulation of utter joy in the moments of success.  There is something magic about that.  However, I can’t support the NFL and what and who it now represents.  I went a year without the NFL and didn’t miss it; I think I might just go back to leaving my TV off on Sundays.

All those words and I don’t think they adequately said anything of what I truly feel about what has occurred and how it has tainted the game for me.  Oh well, enough of this, let’s just wrap up with some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- We made chili AND a turkey dinner this weekend!  The chili has not been touched; it is being left to meld into a true symphony of flavor.  The turkey dinner was fantastic, truly.  Saturday morning I got up early and hammered out the chili, I even used a jar of the Geneious & Sassie Cassie’s homemade salsa in the place of diced tomatoes.  I felt like overall it had decent heat, a great overall flavor, and with addition of a pile of grilled Angus dawgs it should be something truly fantastic when we finally eat it.  As for the turkey, I brined it Saturday into Sunday.  We then gave it a bit of time to let it dry a smidge; put it into a bag, and Cassandra rubbed it down with a seasoning blend and butter.  It was absolutely fantastic, and really scratched a hunger itch I didn’t know I had.

- Carnevale, World Wide Wrestling, Going Native: Warpath, & Minion Miniatures ALL have AMAZING Kickstarters going on that deserve a look if not your money!  Go forth and check them out.

- It is funny that Richard Sherman can talk non-stop, in fact he can make a cottage industry out of his inability to shut his mouth, but once his team loses and someone shows the chinks in his armor he doesn’t want to talk to the media.  Oh that’s right you are just another reason why I don’t really want to watch the NFL anymore.  What a douche canoe.

- I am finally starting to really devour the 5E Players Handbook.  It is spectacular.  In fact it is so damn good that I think I’m having a hard time getting to the finish of my 4E campaigns because I have a tad bit of Edition Envy right now.  Seeing all the stories I can’t wait to tell in 8 months is making it VERY hard to want to finish the stories we’ve been telling up until now.  I know that I’ll finish them as I am me, and I really need to see how they’ll all end, BUT man is that new edition all shiny and full of awesome.  The Monster Manual comes out at the end of the month and from everything I’ve read it will break my brain with its infinite RADness.  I’ve got a decent idea of where all the campaigns are headed as we wrap things up.  I am struggling a bit on how to get there in an accelerated fashion effectively.  I want to do the games, the players, and the characters they’ve crafted justice in a creative way, but at the same time I cannot wait to jump into 5E with both feet.  It is a juxtaposition that I’m going to have resolve. 

- Speaking of D&D we are most likely doing an Antagonist Relations Podcast this Wed. regarding DM burnout.  I am currently suffering from a bit of that.

- Every time my heart beats I get a throb of pain in my shoulder.  My chest, trap, and triceps all feel like they are on fire.  Every time I feel like my shoulder is starting to feel better it gives me an alarming reminder that this is far from over.  I just want my arm to feel better, and yet I know this will take time and perseverance.  I just feel like the latter has been in short supply lately.

- To those that know, ‘ALL the Ditto!’

- This is a Bones 2 video from YOUTube showing all the stuff from the Kickstarter, the vast majority of which I’ll be getting, and it makes me SQUEE.  I mean c’mon how could you not look at that SQUEE, there is just a REDONKULOUS amount of amazing packed into that video.  Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to paint all of it.  Hrm, Diamond Dave?  LoL!         https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=etP6_Ukj6AM

- This Friday L.E.W.G.I. is doing its first ever ‘Flashback Friday’.  I’m not sure what we are watching as of yet, but I look forward to sitting down and devouring something old school.  Who knows maybe we’ll have the ambient microphone hooked up by and we may just record our musings as we watch.  Then on Sunday we’ll be gathering for WWE’s ‘Night Of Champions’.  I am luke warm on ‘the Product’ right now, with the exception of NXT.  I just don’t see anything that interesting in the main event of seeing Lesnar Vs. Cena part 2.  I do think the Divas division has some story momentum going, and with Cesaro Vs. Shamus, the Usos Vs. Gold/Stardust, as well as the really fun Miz/Miz-Sandow Vs. R-Ziggler feud could all give us something entertaining, VERY entertaining.  I think that is the thing that is really bugging me here, the mid-card has gotten very interesting again while the main event has become ‘meh’.    Which brings me to NXT, my LORD did Takeover II deliver!  Every match on the card gave me something to enjoy, moved characters and stories forward, and left me excited about the ‘what comes next’.  Also, I’m a KENTA guy, he was the understudy of the man who in my opinion is the greatest ever to lace up boots in Kenta Kobashi, so when I heard there would be a name change I was unhappy.  However after seeing the way they handled his debut I’m IN!  The name doesn’t matter as much after seeing him manhandle The Ascension, grab a chair, take a seat, and tell them to bring it on.  THAT was as good a debut as we’ve seen since The Shield or The Wyatt Family.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the main event, wow.  That is about all I can say.  It was what I want out of a Fatal Fourway, and what I expect out of those four guys.  The work rate was off the chart, the storytelling crisp, the spots insane, and the ending left all four looking like a million bucks and gave us a potential Heel Turn.  Going in I really thought that a Neville turn would be the only way they could justify NOT putting the belt on Zayn, and I feel like instead they gave me something more ambiguous, and potentially far more interesting.  If I was on the main roster I’d be watching the tape of this match non-stop to see how it can be done.  On a quick side note did anyone else read or listen to the HHH interview where he said he wants NXT to be the next WCW?  He eventually wants it to be its own viable alternative.  Is this not potentially mind blowing news?  I’ve been beating the drum for a long time that the ‘E’ needs a Cruiserweight Show, and the whole time it was right there under my nose.  If you have an entire group of guys who you, and by you I mean Vince, are never going to give the spotlight to why not give them their own show to ply their trade and to entertain the money spending I.W.C. (Internet Wrestling Community, aka Smart Marks)?  NXT has become that.  It is a show that scratches that WCW/Indy/ECW itch and gives me what the main rosters ‘Creative Team’ can’t seem to, constant and consistent entertainment.

- Congrats to Yo Randy(!) & Sweet D. for tying the knot.  I am sorry we couldn’t make it to Michigan, but I am truly touched that you thought enough of us to invite us.

- I did some ‘need to paint’ miniature organization this weekend, and GAWDS do I have a lot of minis.  Nothing wrong with that, but when you start really looking at it here are a ton.  I’ve decided to use my Reaper Bones Kobolds as Pugwampis because they are fantastic monsters and have no representation in miniatures form.  These dog-like Kobolds should fit that need perfectly.  With all the other Bones getting here before the end of the year now I really need to crack down and start hammering through some of my miniatures.  I really want to get my Oriental style Hobgoblins done, my Reaper Orcs, my Pig Faced Orcs, and my Fire Giants.  Those are the miniatures that have me inspired right now.  I wanted to paint Sunday, but just hurt too much.  Perhaps this Tues or Thurs I’ll retreat to the basement and spend a few hours just knocking out the Pugwampis and Fire Giants.

- It is Beer Cheese Soup whether!  Or in my case Potato Cheese Soup!

- Paul Allen is killing me today, as are his sycophant callers.  I think Sludge said it best this morning “…would it be ok for me to kick my daughter in the face?  If the answer is no, then it is not ok to beat a kid with a switch.”  Fucking stupid sports obsessed people, they’d rather worship at the alters of their ‘Heroes’ than protect women or children.  It makes me disgusted to not just share a ‘love’ of something with them but a gender as well.

- I did watch Iowa Vs. Iowa State this weekend with an Iowa State alum, and honestly had a BLAST.  Who would of thunk it, a KU guy rooting for the ‘Clones?

- Team TROLLSTRONG is getting together again tonight.  Cassandra and I are going to be putting together the location decks when we arrive home tonight.  This is the first time I’ll have done this activity and I’ll be honest I’m a little intimidated.  I know it’s silly, but I haven’t done it before and couple that with the fact that if somehow we lose tonight it could end up being my fault.  SO MUCH STRESS!  All I can do is hope the cards, and eventually the dice are kind to us tonight and we do what we do best, dominate MURDER TOWN!

- Congrats to Master Kedrin 4.0 for her first day of her new gig!

- On a Pathfinder Card Game side note, my Skull & Shackles box set has shipped.  I’m hoping that for my b-day and for Christmas I’ll get some of the new character decks as well as some of the modules I’m missing not just for Rise Of The Runelords, but now for Skull & Shackles as well.


I think that’s all I got.

Monday, September 8, 2014

It Happened One Night Vs. Three To Tango

9/8/14

I don’t even remember if I blogged last week.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t.  Things are a haze.  In fact I can’t even concentrate enough today to have an overall idea so you’ll have to settle for some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- I watched some Football this weekend for the first time in over a year.  I might watch some more.
My Grandma is in the hospital.  I have come to the sad realization that at some point in the future, the near one if we are being honest, she will pass away.  I am not ok with this.  While my relationship with my Mother and Sister is non-existent, and my relationship with my Brother is distant but good my Grandma Jean is sort of the last tether to Iola, to my ‘Family’, and to my Dad.  Everyone gets old.  Everyone dies.  I am just not ready for this to happen.  I don’t know how to react.  My Grandma has always been harder than a coffin nail.  She’s smart, sassy, funny, and strong, stronger than any one person has any right to be.  She’s dispenses laughs, knowledge, wisdom, and tough love all when needed.  I would not be who I am without her.  I am embarrassed to admit that I have distanced myself from talking to her as much as I used to because she has a tendency to want to talk about my Dad a lot and that is so raw for me in many ways that I can’t handle it.  I miss her.  I worry about her.  And in my heart of hearts I know that I can’t do anything about the passage of time, her health, or the fact that we live so far away.  All I can do is send her good thoughts, and try and be a better grandson.

- On a side note of TOTAL frustration it sucks that I had to find all this out like a week after it happened.  Luckily my Brother gave me a call and let me know.  I don’t expect my Sister to because let’s face it, that bridge isn’t burned it has been thoroughly nuked and the Earth salted.  I was more than a bit hurt though that my Mother didn’t at least e-mail or ‘teh Fazebookz’ me and let me know.  I know we only talk like twice a year and that usually consists of my calling her and leaving a few messages, but damn.  So thank you to Sean, who isn’t heavy, he’s just my Brother.

- Congrats to Magic Mike!

- We had the ‘Ked Mess’ for dinner last night and it was spectacular.  It consists of assorted veggies, quinoa, cheese, beans, sausage, and scrambled eggs.  It is a HUGE protein boost and was not just tasty, but filling.

- Congrats Master Kedrin 4.0!

- My shoulder had been bothering me for a while, but the last two weeks or so I really felt it was on the mend.  Last Thursday I’m not sure what I did, but it quit on me in spectacular fashion.  I feel like I now have the same gap that I have in my right shoulder joint, but rather than the numbness and acclimation to pain that I have there I have something else entirely.  Instead I feel like someone has their hand in my joint and is wiggling their fingers nonstop.  The ‘best’ part is now I’ve got discomfort from my fingertips in that arm all the way to my neck and shoulder blade.  When it doesn’t outright just hurt I am instead ‘enjoying’ a dull ache or burning sensation when I do almost any task.  It was bad enough that my sleep on Thursday night was non-existent even after ingesting Percocet.  Instead I stayed home Friday and when I crashed out I slept till almost 2pm in the afternoon.  The last few nights haven’t been much better.  Whenever I roll over I am met with feeling like my arm is literally being slowly torn off my torso.  I think what the real kick in the shorts happens to be is I was feeling so much better, and now we aren’t just back to square one.  Oh no, that would be a significant step up.  We have gone backwards.  It is the worst it has ever been.  So I’m back to heat and ice, limited use, and the hope that it starts to mend again.  In fact today it hurts so much I feel like I have to vomit, honestly it is the drizzlin’ shits.

- For those that know, “All The Ditto!”

- I like Ticket To Ride, there I said it, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  In fact of late I’ve enjoyed a fair amount of new games brought into the basement lair by a never ending stream of amazing folks.  Back in the long, long ago I participated in a weekly Board Game Group.  These were the halcyon days.  It was a great time; we played a lot of really fun games, and always tried to expose each other to new gaming experiences.  Oh and ‘Casual’ Doug you might be the self-proclaimed King Of Canada, but I am the DUKE of Santa Fe!  There was loose talk Saturday night of rekindling this; a once a month evening of Board Gaming.  I’m trying to figure out the logistics of it, but I do think this must happen.

- The next L.E.W.G.I. PPV gathering is for Night Of Champions towards the end of the month, what would you guys say to a Flashback Friday before that where we vote on what old school PPV we should watch?

- It sounds like the Patron Saint of all my Podcasts, Magic Mike, has an ambient room microphone for us to try out!  I’m excited to see how well it works.  Having a room microphone would help immensely with Heel Turn Radio and recording actual game play of D&D if we choose to record a session.  If it goes well and we need it I’ll have to grab a second one.  Hopefully one will be enough.  OH and this also means we could MST3K bad wrestling from the basement living room, which is something that MUST happen.  SO, thank you again sir, for without your off air and on air contributions the Podcasts would not exist.

- Thank you Cassandra for all that you do that goes said and even more so for everything you do that isn’t.  I don’t know how you do it, but you never cease to amaze.

- The month of September is going to be an ‘Off’ month for D&D.  It seemed as if everyone’s schedule was so convoluted, I feel like 10 lbs. of dog crap in a 5 lbs. bag, and with a bit of burnout creeping in that we could use a month off.  This will give everyone a breather, build some anticipation, maybe give us some time to sneak other RPG’s and Board Games, and let me wrap my head around some stuff.  I hate doing these ‘breaks’, but I really do need them to recharge, refresh, renew, and remember why I love doing this stuff for these particular people.

- It might be cold enough for chili this weekend!

- Team TROLLSTRONG had an ‘Emergency’ session on Saturday night as everyone felt a burning need to go to ‘Murder Town’, aka the Pathfinder Card Game.  We had to play sans James & his Magnificent Beard as he was off taking care of business up North.  In his stead was Master Kedrin 4.0 who joined Sassie Cassie, THE Karl, the Geneious, the lovely & multi-talented Cassandra, and myself.  As we go further and further into the Adventure Path I am delighted by how insidious the game is.  It seems to have a knack for attacking us where we are weak and not allowing us to play to our strengths.  I think part of it is the randomness of the decks that are built for all the locations, the treasure accumulated, and the potential for a scenario to get away from a group VERY quickly if the dice turn on you.  The dice were NOT in our favor on Saturday night and neither were the decks as Cassandra and I both were drastically affected by the Haunts in this particular segment of The Skinsaw Murders.  We just sort of slept walked through the majority of the night and couldn’t get going as a group.  It wasn’t until about half the group needed Sassie Cassie to heal them and we began counting turns that we realized just HOW much trouble we were in.  That is the thing about this game, if you aren’t diligent and always milling cards, closing locations, and working together you will lose.  So we had to tighten things down with about two turns left.  We knew where the Skinsaw Man was, we just needed to ensure that all other locations would be closed so I could go straight up ‘MURDER TOWN’ on him.  Luckily, we had just enough Blessings and moxy to get that done and wrap up the game on my last turn.  We really need to secure some better loot soon, find some ways get better at dealing with cards that don’t do anything but heap negative effects on us, and of getting the right folks to the right locations to close them.  I know we will because when we Troll, we TROLLSTRONG!  After surviving that we talked about busting out some Elder Sign, but instead went the far easier and more hilarious route of SUPERFight!  The Geneious busted out the most up to date rules off the interwebs and we got down to it.  I believe in the end Master Kedrin 4.0 was the crusher of ALL hopes and dreams and emerged victorious, but at that point I was laughing too hard to remember.  Suffice to say it was a challenging and fun evening and one where James & his Magnificent Beard were missed.

- Hopefully with the D&D hiatus on this month I’ll be able to sneak in a game or three Lords Of Waterdeep, Elder Sign, & MONSTERHEARTS!

- I have found that sometimes you come to a logger head with certain people, places, and things and that just is how it is.  There is either an issue, or a tension, or a history, or a pattern of things, etc. that just can’t be overcome.  I have always hoped that time, or distance or any number of things might give all parties perspective and a desire to get it right.  The older I get the more I have begun to think that my thought pattern here is skewed.  People don’t change near as much as you hope.  Hell, I don’t change near as much as I hope.  Sometimes you just have to face facts and be satisfied that you had a good run with whomever or whatever it was and move forward.  I’m in the process of doing that.  Moving forward isn’t easy, it isn’t always pretty, and it isn’t always something that makes for a clean ‘break’ of things.  However, if I stayed in a situation that just made myself and other people or a place that dissatisfied what would be the point?  All it does is allow all parties to do is to ruminate on what was, what has been ‘lost’, and what could have been.  No one grows from that, no one is made better for that, and no one gets anything worthwhile from that.  I can’t and I won’t do that anymore.  I’ve learned that lesson in a harsh fashion already.  So forward I move despite the cost, because if I don’t move forward I’m afraid I’ll eventually just be moving backwards.


Ugh…I think that is all I got.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Insecurity Blanket Podcast - Episode 16 - Pop The Cork Of Class

In the midst of a Game Day, the day after an EPIC Movie-A-Thon, Startlin' Scott Fremont of the Delicate Sauce Podcast empire joins Master Kedrin 4.0, Joltin' Jen, the lovely & multi-talented Cassandra, and yours truly for another segment of Drunk Comic Book History!  Join us as Startlin' Scott talks Sam Keith's 'The Maxx' in intricate and intoxicated detail.
The Insecurity Blanket Podcast - Episode 16 - Pop The Cork Of Class

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Death Hunt Vs. Eye Of Fire

8/27/14

I’m calling it ‘The Failure World Tour’.  The vast majority of my time working in my chosen field I have had very little difficulty finding employment.  In fact most of the time I’ve had options and been forced to choose where I want to work.  How will did that work out for me 8 years ago in hindsight?  But I digress; I generally have had my pick.  There is a reason for that; I’m exceptional at what I do.

It isn’t bragging it is simply a fact.  I know I’m good at what I do, and I have no difficulties getting that across to people.  That is why this ‘Failure World Tour’ has been so damn vexing.  I go to interview after interview and am told that I’m good, but for whatever reason they are going in a different direction, or I’m not ‘exactly’ what they are looking for right now, or in the case of last Friday they hired someone before they interviewed me.

Yeah, you read that right.  A reputable organization had me take off time, drive to St. Paul, take a test, and sit in a lobby for 35 minutes only to tell me they filled the position.  Then they tried to sell me on doing a job I did about 17 years ago.  I was gracious in the face of this humiliation and held my composure till I got in the car and left.  This has been the story of me trying to find something and somewhere better to ply my trade.

This whole ‘Tour’ has really given my confidence a hit.  It has also made me think very long and hard about whether I want to stay in an industry that seems to thrive on an environment so pseudo-professionalism as a veneer to hide the failings of people in positions of leadership that either don’t know what they are doing or just don’t care all that much.  I wasn’t sure I could be treated with less respect than I am Mon. through Fri., hence the desire to leave, but during this process I have found that it isn’t just ‘here’, it is everywhere.

This makes me think that it is an industry standard, and that just maybe everywhere I’d been previously was the exception.  That thought terrifies me.  What frightens me even more is that maybe it isn’t just the industry I am in.  What if I stretch my wings and move out of Human Services into another area and find that it is the same Junior High popularity contest, back biting, gossiping, and incompetence?  Is this what ‘work’ is?  A place where the least common denominator has failed upwards to perch upon its throne of ineptitude and arbitrarily casts its judgments down upon the sycophant masses?  Do we have to suffer this shit with a smile, chomp it down, force that grin out, and ask for another?

Gawds, I hope not.  I’m struggling to find the motivation to go out and continue to pound the pavement, put myself out there, and go through this.  Is the Devil I know better than continuing to explore all these new fresh Hells?  I’m just not sure.  I wish I was, but the constant disrespect and rejection has been hard for me to swallow down.  I am having a problem deciding whether or not I’ve had my ‘fill’, and does it even matter if I have?  Something has got to give at some point.

Perhaps the head down, move forward, and keep swinging will be the approach that eventually gets me what I want, but currently…Currently I’m taking it on the chin, and I have found I don’t particularly like it…
How about we fire up some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- All those things I said above are true.  Not only that but they give me terrible anxiety, nightmares, stress poops, affect my confidence, and are hard for me to deal with.  For 40 hours a week.  You see my personal life has never, EVER, been better.  I am blessed with amazing people in my world, an amazing wife who supports me no matter what, and Friends, Friends that have re-affirmed my faith in humanity in a lot of ways.  SO while I vent and am frustrated by that part of my life, it is only a small part and one that I’m gladly willing to suffer through as long as the payoff is that I have the people in my life outside of that 40 hour bubble that I currently do.  Just thought I should clarify.

- If you are in the market for an amazing custom Action Figure contact Dave Wheeler of Mindwave Studios.  He will hook you up!

- I had to mow last night.  It was miserable.  What was worse was the drainage hose from the furnace somehow got clogged sometime over the weekend and then overflowed all over the basement.  So our carpet was soaked in some spots, smelled awful, and we’ve been running fans on that area now for about 24 hours to dry it out.  I didn’t even know that hose could get clogged as I understood it only took on condensation.  Turns out that calcium builds up in there and it can indeed get clogged and you need to flush it.  There are so many things that a guy like me just doesn’t either know or understand about what you need to do with your house.  Times like last night make me feel like I am SO far out of my depth as an adult.  We had to move everything, clean the tube thoroughly, which was pretty friggin’ gnarly, and then dry the carpet as much as possible with towels.  It was the drizzlin’ poos.  As for the mowing the problem becomes that the lawn is so flippin’ full of holes that my right ankle gives up and turns in, so I end up doing the last third walking on the side of my foot or turning it all the way out.  My left ankle has the surgery supports in it, the right one has broken a few times, but no screws or plates are in there so it just gets wobbly.  Then my calves start to feel like they are going to tear off the bone.  I remember being in high school and Dr. Matt had horrible shin splints and we’d give him a LOT of grief about it, well that and his ‘Barrel Chest’.  If it felt like this Dr. Matt, then I am sorry for being an unrepentant dick back then.  Suffice to say I’m worn out.

- I really need to grill this weekend.

- Holy crap, THANK YOU to THE Karl, La Randita Rojo, ‘Casual’ Doug, & Master Kedrin 4.0 for the computer upgrade, the Doug Craft invite, the Mead and potential Gluten Free beer, and this strange mystery project that I’m being taunted with.  I look forward to Friday night’s Movie-A-Thon where we can all kick back, have a beverage or ten, watch bad flicks, and laugh.  Steel thyselves because Friday night will be a SOMBRERO NIGHT!

- I can’t wait for fall so we can fire pit it up every damn weekend.

- Last Thursday was 3rd Group D&D and it was shit.  I have had some time to mentally digest it and overall it boils down to 4 points; 1) I was fried, 2) The room wasn’t that in to it that night, 3) We were missing the sessions Co-DM & one of the players, & 4) The expectations were skewed.  The players wanted to kill Uwain.  They were completely focused on this idea of getting to this character they have grown to despise and slitting his throat in the most humiliating way possible.  While Zack and I were building a death trap out of 4 Encounters made to challenge with a story telling finale.  When reality and expectation crash into each other at full speed without passion you have a shit session.  The Monks and the radiating columns were diabolical in nature and the PC’s just were not feeling it.  I didn’t have the energy level to wring the fun out of it, and in the end I think it just left all of us frustrated.  I hate, H-A-T-E-, sessions like that.  It makes me question why I run.  At the same time, there was a strange desire by the group at large to come back and finish the ‘Quest’, and even some bizarre admiration of the nastiness of that room so that gives me a desire to see this through.  So in a few weeks we are going to pick up where we left off and play through to the bitter end.  I am putting the pressure squarely on my shoulders to make it something special.

- We missed the first episode of Doctor Who, I am sad.

- Last weekend we had the Niece and Nephew for their Summer Slumber Party ’14.  We built D&D Kre-O’s, Hasbro’s answer to LEGO’s, on Friday night.  Couple that with a slew of the Chinese LEGO super hero knock-offs I’d been hoarding just for this and you had a building extravaganza.  I have to say that if you like LEGO’s and D&D then go to your local Toys R’ Us and get some of these Kre-O’s as they are currently like 50% off.  In fact if you buy one of their ‘blind’ figure packs, where you get one mini-figure for like $1.50, there is a coupon for $3 off any other Kre-O D&D product over $15!  And with the clearance on these items the most expensive set is like $16.  We spent like $30 and got the three box builds and one ‘blind’ mini-figure.  It was a steal.  I plan on going back and getting more next month which is how impressed I was.  As for the Chinese mini-figures, if you are on Ebay they are a great deal as well, but then again I am a miser and like my LEGO’s on the cheap.  They aren’t perfect, but they’ll do.  Saturday we had a delicious brunch of crepes, watched the LEGO Movie (***** out of 5), and then adjourned to the basement for a four hour EPIC NAVAL War!  I made up some rules loosely based on the dice comparison rules from the upcoming Dungeon Saga game, ON KICKSTARTER NOW!  We picked our ships, made up our crews, and then rolled for stats.  Madeline was Captain Lady Orange of the Skull Girl flotilla, Sean was Captain Sea Dragon of the Empire-X fleet, and I was Captain Curly Jones of the Scurvy Dawgs.  We had islands to explore, some random monsters to fight, and fact that we all three wanted to sink each other’s boats.  In the end Madeline sunk Sean, and she and I engaged in a really nasty battle that came down to just who could roll better, and I came out JUST ahead.  It was a great time.  We laughed, we yelled, we danced, and we had a blast.  Then after a great dinner, Maddy & Cassandra made a delicious Gluten Free cake while Sean and I busted out LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on Xbox 360.  What a phenomenal game, wow!  In fact we played till like 11:30pm at night because we just HAD to beat Venom.  Sunday we got up and had a light breakfast, fixed our Kre-O castle set-up which had gotten dropped and fell apart, while Maddy and Cassandra made necklaces.  Eventually, Ant came and retrieved his brood and Cassandra and I could finally relax.  I was a great time, and I hope we made some memories.  I might post the pictures at some point if anyone who I don’t interact with on ‘Teh Fazebookz’ wants to see them.

- Nothing makes my day like hearing my lovely wife giggling from the next office over about something I said in an e-mail.  THAT is something I will miss when I leave the place that currently pays me.

- Saturday is a Board Game Day.  That means that I will finally be playing Lords Of Waterdeep.  Now I know The Geneious and Sassie Cassie aren’t going to be able to make it, but ‘Casual’ Doug IS going to be there, as is Electric Elyssa, Magic Mike, THE Karl, Master Kedrin 4.0, and numerous others.  SO I will be able to bust that bad boy out and FINALLY play it and the expansion.  I’m excited to try Elder Sign and possibly the expansion to City Of Thieves.  That doesn’t even take into account getting to play Kings Of Tokyo, Super Fight, Settlers, and maybe if we have enough people Werewolves Of Millers Hollow!

- I want to Podcast next week, anyone in?

- Dungeon Saga on Kickstarter is down to under 5 days to go and well over $530,000.00 in ‘the bank’.  A second expansion is being filled out with each stretch goal met.  In all honestly if you go look and see the amount of stuff you get for $100 it is ridiculous.  So again I’m imploring all of you love Dungeon Crawl Board Games to go throw your cash in and get aboard for the final stretch run.

- THE Karl hooked me up with this swanky exercise bike.  Next week I start to use it.

- I have a hard time letting people go.  It is a strange thing.  I have people who move to the peripheral of my existence and yet I struggle to close that chapter with them.  Whether it is because I can’t ask for stuff back or just have this strange fear of cutting the cord with them because I’m afraid of how it will end I struggle with that.  It isn’t like in some cases where things come to a head, confrontation occurs, and then it becomes adversarial.  This is that lingering relationship that has ceased to mean what it did, but still clings.  I feel like I have to get better at that.

- For those who know…”Ditto”.

- We watched the latest episode of The Chris Gethard Show the other day and it was the panel taking calls on whether or not they should keep doing the show.  Gethard seems to feel trapped and burned out by this beast he’s created.  It felt like he’d already made up his mind to end the show, with the exception of now wanting to do two more episodes based upon two of the calls/callers.  I can understand that.  I sometimes find that some of my endeavors can feel like I am obligated to them more than enjoying them, and I’m NO where near as successful or as talented as Chris Gethard.  So I can understand his desire or even need to move away from his show and do something he finds himself more inspired by.  That being said, I have NO desire for this show to EVER end.  When you find something that just speaks to you in a strange way, you never want it to go away.  It is a strange show; you get to feel like you know the people on it and in a way since you enjoy it you feel like they ‘get’ you.  To have that go away so quickly after finding it would suck.  If it does I plan on writing a letter to Chris Gethard just to thank him.  It is rare to find something that inspires thought; laughs, empathy, and self-reflection while watching someone get pummeled by a double ended dildo or have people make burritos on their belly.

I think that is all I have today.