Thursday, May 9, 2013
We are those who were born in the 70's,
raised in the 80's,
and came into our own in the 90's.
Our parents were baby-boomers, and many of us now have children of our own.
We remember Saturday Morning Cartoons like the Smurfs, Hulk Hoagan's Rock n' Wrestling, the Pac Man adventure hour, the Gummi Bears, and Dungeons & Dragons.
We remember weekday morning and afternoon cartoons like G.I. Joe, The Transformers, Thundercats, He-Man, She-Ra, Mask, Speed Racer, and Robotech. We remember these things before they were remade for a new era with new sensibilities.
We remember when Megatron was a Walther P38 instead of a jet or tank. We remember playing war with toy guns and none of us grew up to shoot up our schools (For the record, Harris and Klebold were Gen Y). We played Assassins in high school and nobody called it a "Dangerous game."
We were the first generation to have Dungeons & Dragons and were the consumers responsible for launching the modern role playing industry.
We remember when the woods were a safe place to play.
If we got bullied in school, a playground fist fight usually settled the case, and nobody went to prison or court for assault.
We didn't get expelled from school for having G.I. Joe toys or making gun shapes with our hands.
We remember a black-and-white, dark and gritty Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as a brightly-colored pizza-eating cartoon version.
We were defined by Star Trek and Star Wars. We watched Knight Rider, The Incredible Hulk, The Dukes of Hazzard, Grizzly Adams, V, The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Night Court.
We ate dinner in front of the TV. With our families, be they one- or two-parent homes.
We were latch-key kids whose parents both worked, and nobody got arrested because we were home alone for a few hours in the afternoon.
We think The Lost Boys and Near Dark were two of the greatest vampire films ever made.
We had E.T., Indiana Jones, The Last Starfighter, Conan the Barbarian, The Goonies, and Back to the Future.
Films like Dream a Little Dream, Clerks, Chasing Amy, Waiting..., High Fidelity, Pump Up the Volume, Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, or Reality Bites resonated with us on a deep and fundamental level and told us that other people knew what our lives felt like.
We hung out at the mall as teens and at dimly-lit coffeehouses as young adults.
We smoked cigarettes and weed, which was the inexpensive drug you could grow with a sun lamp in your basement, and nobody died from it.
We lamented how dead of a decade the Clinton 90's were, but look back now with nostalgia on those days, and only now realize what a decade of quiet progress it was.
We felt like we had no heroes and nobody to look up to. We were so desperate for a
We spawned the celebrity voyeur culture and reality TV. You're welcome.
We could've changed the world for the better. Instead, we've made it more divisive than it ever before has been. Good work, folks.
We embraced heavy metal, then killed it and replaced it with grunge.
Our social network was the mall instead of street corners and smart phones.
We didn't ram our politics down each others' throats.
We went to school to get good jobs doing things with our lives that we wanted to do. We looked for fulfillment. We appreciated music, art, and books, and didn't steal them (as a rule) off the shelves at stores, only to justify it as "sticking it to the man," or "information should be free." We recognized the rights of artists to make a living from their talents.
We were proud to be American and for the most part, the world respected us.
And yet, now we do all those things we never did before, in spades.
And yet, the world we have now...is all our fault.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
But anyway, I'm not sure what's going on. The life situation, nominally, has improved. My new job is worlds better than my old one, even if it is a ton of stress. I'm thinking that's part of the issue--this is a different kind of stress than I'm used to, and I need to find some way to manage it. I've never had a job before where I can't take a day off without feeling the need to check my e-mail to make sure there are no emergencies or disasters or fires to put out. It kind of weighs on me at times. It's hard to recharge the old batteries when you have to think about work even when you're not there. But I'm still relatively new to this job--only been here for 8 months and they say it can take up to 2 years or so just to get a handle on the position. So maybe after awhile I'll find a good place of balance. I hope so.
Yesterday I was really down and really emotional for no apparent reason. Not sure what was up with that. I just dealt with it by kind of withdrawing into myself and riding it out. There's still a bit of it lingering today. Hoping it diminishes instead of getting worse.
Tonight after work I need to clean the house--it's gotten almost to the state where I'm afraid I'm going to see us on the evening news as having "deplorable living conditions." Julie's working late as she usually does on Wednesdays, so it'll be a good time to get things done. I am vowing right now that the television will not go on, unless it's to tune to a music channel or put on a music/concert disc for background music while I clean. Then I need to settle down, look through my various writing projects, pick one, and finish it. My publisher is going to open up for new submissions this summer, he thinks, and I need to have at least two books ready to send to him. One is done and waiting. I can finish one more, I think.
I'm losing weight--it's actually starting to be visible. That's a great thing. Mostly I'm just being more aware of my portion sizes, and have been getting more exercise just by virtue of how my commute works, now. I'm getting in at least a good half hour of walking every day, and working in hills and stairs to that. It's helped a lot. I feel a bit lighter, though I haven't yet got to the point where I can run without feeling a bit of..."bounce." That's the goal. That and dropping at least 2 inches off my waist. I think I'm down about an inch, but don't quote me on that. I don't keep a scale in the house because I would obsess about it. I know I'm starting--just starting--to be able to see my jawline in the mirror again, which is great.
Anyway, yeah, I've got a problem with motivation and drive. I have ambition, but my drive has once more gone far south. I'm not sure how to get it back. But one thing is certain--I need to figure it out fast.
Okay, rambling over. Thanks for listening, whoever you may be.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
And I've been getting nosebleeds again.
It's largely stress-related. I'm much happier at the new job than I have been at any of my past ones (save perhaps my first-ever job here at Pitt, which alas paid shit), but unfortunately there's a ton of constant stress here, which gives me headaches, nosebleeds, makes my ears hot from the pressure, and sometimes interferes with sleep.
This is the type of job that even when you take vacation time you need to check e-mail to make sure there's no major explosions that need to be dealt with immediately.
At least the money is better, which will allow me--if I can get disciplined--to get my practical shit in order--pay off some debts, get my monthly bills in order--which in a perfect world would then result in me being able to take a less-stressful, lower-paying job in the future.
I need to lose weight. Really badly, I need to lose weight. I've been starting to feel unhealthy again lately. I need to cut out the sugar in my diet--I've been splurging and indulging FAR too often lately. I need to get back on a hardcore low carb regimen. The trick is actually taking care of lunch at home. When I get up in the mornings I am worse than an angry zombie. I can't even THINK about preparing food to take to work with me. And usually I fall asleep on the couch in the evenings, then wake up to stagger up to bed, so doing it before bed isn't a realistic goal either--at least not until I manage to successfully change my habits, which really needs to happen.
Maybe I should start getting it together first thing when I get home from work every day. That could work. Come home, make and bag tomorrow's lunch so I can just grab and go when I get ready for work tomorrow.
And I need to kick up my exercise.
I was lifting weights with a friend, but I really just didn't feel like I was getting out of it what I need. It's not the type of exercise I want. I understand the whole concept of building lean muscle mass and whatnot, but really, if you're not feeling better after exercising, it's pointless. The only way a person is going to keep up with an exercise routine is if they can find a form of exercise they enjoy and/or that makes them feel better after, and lifting does neither for me.
I need to start going to a gym with a good variety of cardio equipment and start an actual exercise routine. One that gets my heart rate up and lets me work up a sweat instead of one that just makes my arms, back, legs and shoulders ache for days. When I do cardio--jogging, walking, whatever--I feel better afterward. I feel healthier, and better about myself. For some reason when I lift weights I feel worse about myself after I'm done, and I don't mean just physically beat up (though that happens, too); I mean my self esteem takes a dive for some reason. During the work out I count the exercises, thinking, "how many more left to go?" whereas when I do cardio-related workouts I often find myself thinking, "Oh, that went fast," at the end of it.
Anyway, yeah...it's time to make a plan and follow through. I've been too haphazard for too long, and it needs to stop if I'm going to get healthy again, especially if I'm going to be working a higher stress job.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
You can go here to sign it.
This petition has been created with the intention of (in the best of all worlds) forcing Congress back to our level so they're no longer so divorced from what they do to us on a daily basis, and at the very least showing the level of discontent the people have in no uncertain terms.
I have no real hope that the White House or Congress cares about the welfare of nor will listen to the voices of the people they are supposed to serve, but at least they'll have to SEE this one, so I'd appreciate the support.
And no, I'm not looking for a political debate here. If you don't agree--don't sign. It's that simple. Don't tell me why you don't agree, don't tell me you won't or didn't sign, and don't tell me I'm wrong. I don't care and will delete such responses. This link is intended for support, not debate or detraction. So if you support the idea, feel free to comment.
Friday, March 1, 2013
Anyway, here's the text. Just thought I'd share.
We, the undersigned, feel that the United States Congress has far too long abused its authority and power over the people, and believe that Congress is the single largest cause of economic bloat and problem in the nation. We the People feel that serving in the United States Congress should be viewed as an honor and not as a day job. This was the intent of our great Founding Fathers. Instead, employment in the Senate and House of Representatives has become a vehicle for making outrageous sums of money at the expense of the public our representatives were elected to serve, and supporting the Few in the form of Special Interests, rather than the Many, in the form of the People of the United States. As such, due to their continual failure to do their duties in supporting the interests of the public, while continually seeing their salaries and benefits skyrocket, We the People of the United States (hereafter "We the People" or "we") hereby request the following changes be made in the United States Congress:
1. Salaries of all Senators and House Representatives be immediately reduced to $75,000 per year. This is roughly equivalent to (and slightly higher than) their original salary of $3,000 in 1855, adjusted for inflation. This should include the salaries of the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, who we do not feel deserve extra pay based upon a title that should be reward enough.
2. FURTHER, we request that any future alterations to Congressional salary or benefits packages require the approval of the People through a broad Voter Referendum. Most working individuals count on their employer to grant raises; the same should hold true of Congress, whose employers are considered to be We the People.
3. FURTHER, we request that all current Senators and House Representatives see any pension and retirement benefits immediately removed, and any future automatic or assumed retirement or pension benefit programs for the United States Congress ended. To whit, we request that Senators and House Representatives no longer be covered under the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986. From the adoption of this change forward, all Senators and House Representatives will be required to pay into a 401K program for retirement benefits, as most of the working public must do, if they desire such benefits, and will be required to pay into Social Security at the same rates as the working public.
4. FURTHER, we request that all Senators and House Representatives immediately lose their federal healthcare program benefits, and that these programs be immediately terminated. Henceforth they will be required to seek healthcare in the private sector or under the new Affordable Healthcare Act.
5. FURTHER, we request that the "soft retirement" model whereby members of Congress "retire" directly to Lobby Organizations and Think Tanks, based on their behavior/voting record in Congress, be immediately ended, and retired Senators and House Representatives be forbidden from joining Lobby Organizations and Think Tanks upon their retirement.
IN SUMMARY: We feel that Congress neither deserves nor is entitled to the high rate of pay and outstanding benefits they receive, which places them as a social elite above the people whom they serve. We request that the above steps (severe reduction in pay, healthcare and retirement benefits identical to the majority of the working public, loss of soft retirement, and the requirement to ask We the People for future pay and benefits adjustments) be taken immediately to rectify this situation and that Congress acknowledge that they in fact work for We the People by also acknowledging that these changes are what We the People desire, and that as such Congress beholden to and required on principle to implement such directives.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Well, I wasn't going to say anything because I didn't want to jinx it, but it seems it's jinxed anyway. The reason I didn't go live with the Charlie Morning kickstarter is that I had two agents and a publisher request a pitch and sample through people I know. A very exciting development indeed. Unfortunately, as seems to be the entire history of my writing, the publisher/agent combo dropped off the face of the earth (no contact in nearly two months) and the other agent e-mailed me back yesterday to essentially say that my writing didn't draw her in and the voice didn't match the content.
As of now, I'm re-evaluating. I don't know if I'll bother to publish it at all. I can't, it seems, score an agent even from a direct referral. Self-publishing or small press publishing will never see me on a shelf in a book store.
There comes a time when you have to realize that your family and friends are the only ones who tell you that you're any good, and the professionals who make a living at this stuff continually, time and time again, tell you that you're not. I've got my game design work and while I'll never make a living at it, people seem to enjoy what I do there. As a novelist maybe I should just face the fact that I've got mediocre talent at best and hang it up.
Also, if you're planning on commenting here to tell me how irrelevant book stores are, or how much I don't need to be on book store shelves, don't bother. You're not helping, you're only making it worse. Because the fact is, whatever YOUR opinions about book stores are, that's what *I* want: to see one of my novels on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I dream of it every time I browse the shelves there. And I'm having to face the hard fact that it will NEVER happen.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
The PCs, working with the Allied forces, and alongside fanatical Ormazd Society allies, find themselves in a race against time to stop the People of the Worm from unleashing a doomsday device from within a hidden tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. If only the Nazis and the People of the Worm were their only worries: there is another, equally mysterious force who want the Heart of Yhtill for their own alien agenda…
"It has Nazis, chase scenes, the supernatural, traps, a teriffic cover, and a plot so thick you can cut it with your Crocodile Dundee knife. What's not to like?
Troll Lord Games and Jason Vey have given a very good example of what can be done with their Siege Engine rules and the Amazing Adventures game in particular."
--Chet Cox, DTRPG Reviewer
In addition, Amazing Adventures itself has scored a 5-star review both at DriveThru and at RPG.net.
"My imagination is really grabbed by this system. I think there is a lot of potential here and a lot I want to do with this game"
--Timothy Brannan, featured DTRPG Reviewer
I'm incredibly proud of Amazing Adventures. It may be my favorite freelance project ever. I'm absolutely thrilled to see it getting rave reviews by those who have picked it up and given it a look and play.
Unfortunately, we're not going anywhere without some word of mouth and buzz, and there is the rub--nobody is talking about the game, despite pretty much universal rave reviews from those who have picked it up. Help us out! If you haven't picked up Amazing Adventures and Day of the Worm yet, by all means grab your copy today! If you've already bought it and you like it...TALK ABOUT IT! Get the word out there!!! Post on blogs, on message boards, on facebook and twitter. I'm not sure what the process is to submit something for a nomination for an Ennie or Origins Award, but even a nomination submission would be aces for drawing attention to the project. I am negotiating with Troll Lord as we speak for extensive support for the game, but until we see really strong, solid sales, we're likely looking at mostly internet/PDF e-book support and very little in the way of print. We need your help! If we can build a player base and get sales for this puppy going, you'll be amazed (no pun intended) at the ideas I've got for this puppy. Pulp is a limitless genre, and there's no end to the directions we can go...but first, we need to kick open the door, and that's where you come in.
If you haven't picked up a copy, take the risk--I'll give good odds you'll love the game. If you already have it and are digging it, I beg of you--hit the streets, both literal and virtual. Request your FLGS to carry it. Tell people about it. The RPG industry is cramped right now, and it's only by loyal fan-base word of mouth that we can get people out there to discover new games.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Since the mid-1990's the Oakland Borough of Pittsburgh and the college scene in Pittsburgh has morphed into something completely different than it once was. In that time, three colleges have become full-fledged Universities (meaning there are few "colleges" left in the city and a lot of Universities). Oakland itself was once a thriving campus community that catered to and encouraged subcultures--everything from hippies to Goths to punks to metalheads to hipsters and more, all of them had a sort of place in Oakland.
There was Tela Ropa, the hippie heaven which pretended with a smirk to not be a head shop.
There was Avalon, a sort of retro-hipster haven, a consignment store for "vintage" clothing styles.
There was the Opera-Tunity, a thrift store for whom most of their donations came from the local Civic Light Opera company. This place was amazing--you could get full tuxedos in fantastic shape for $20 or $30.
There were a number of other vintage clothing and specialty thrift stores around.
There was the Upstage and C.J.s, bars and clubs originally for your average hard-drinking college students.
There was Club Laga, which (at least in the last couple years of its existence) catered more to the Goth and 80's-nostalgia subcultures.
There was Zelda's a bar...well, anyone who remembers Zelda's knows exactly what that place was, right down to them being full of underage kids the night they got shut down.
Then there was the Beehive. The Beehive was the place where everyone, no matter your subculture, congregated. Preppies, hippies, metalheads, punks, Goths, all of them. It was like cheers, but without alcohol. We'd spend entire days in that place, just having long, endless and deep conversations about absolutely nothing, playing card games like Hearts, Lunch Money, Spades, and the ever-hated Malcave. Many people flunked out of school because of hanging out at that place, and it was pretty glorious.
Man, do I have great memories of that place.
But they're all gone, now. The Beehive is a T-Mobile Store. The Attic is, I believe, high-end apartments. The Upstage is an IGA grocery store. C.J.s? A Dunkin' Donuts. Zelda's is a Five Guys. Any cafes that exist are corporate entities like Starbucks and Caribou.
So, so sad. But I suppose that's the way things go. I just miss the days of independent businesses and the spirit of rebellion that was expressed in lifestyle and fashion sense that just doesn't seem to be present anymore. I wonder if, some day, when things in this country get on solid ground again, that sort of thing will make a comeback. I sincerely hope it does, because I'd like to think others can have similar experiences to those I did with my group back in the day. For all the drama, there were also some absolutely great times and great memories.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Last week, before I went to my folks to go hunting, she and I had a long talk of the sort couples need to have every so often about where we are, where we're going, life in general...and no, we're not "having problems," so please don't worry about that. Jul and I are just fine--it was just time for a state of the union conversation, get a few things hashed out that we haven't had time to sit down and discuss.
One of the things that occurred to me upon reflection was that Julie and I have somewhat lost touch simply because we don't spend enough time together. We spend too much time with obligations with friends, family, jobs, and other things, and just don't spend time with each other, alone. That, as any healthy couple knows, is a bad thing. And by "spending time alone," I don't mean "sitting at home every night after work watching TV." I mean doing things together, spending the day together. Some time ago, she and I would on occasion just take a day off work together to go out for coffee, see a movie, whatever, but our current jobs (hers especially) don't provide for that sort of thing anymore, which makes it tougher.
So I decided last week that she and I should spend the day together this Saturday without anyone else around. I was supposed to go hunting again, but this was more important, so I called up Dad and told him I wasn't making it out, as Julie and I had plans.
Saturday, then, we went out to an early lunch at a local buffet we like, and then we did a double-feature at the local $1.00 theater, to see Brave and Snow White and the Huntsman. Both were films that Julie had really wanted to see in the theater, but we missed on first run, so this seemed a great opportunity. I don't want to turn this into a movie review, so I'll just say Brave was outstanding (and I generally abhor Pixar), while Snow White was worth the 2 bucks we spent on it, but was incredibly disappointing and forgettable overall.
Between the movies we went to a few Halloween stores, and dropped in at a local comics/gaming store and book store. We had a really, really nice day together, and it was something I think we both sorely needed.
Yesterday we went to drop off some paperwork at her second, part-time job, then stopped at the store so I could get stuff to cook for the gaming group as it was my turn. Then we met up with Ken, Rya, and Brennan to go out to Simmonds Farm, a local farm and produce vendor, where we picked apples and bought pumpkins. Then Jul and I stopped for lunch on the way home. When we got home, I prepped a bit for gaming, watched some movies on DVD to try and get into the mood, and then cooked for everyone (tacos and Mexican rice). We ended up not playing Conan, as two important players in that game are out for the next few weeks; instead, to everyone's delight, we got characters converted over for my Doctor Who RPG and I ran a brief vignette session of that game to get everyone back into the story for when I pick it up again full time. Still kind of getting a feel for the official Who RPG rules, but it should work out okay.
Overall, it was a really nice weekend for she and I (at least, I think it was, and I hope she does as well) and something we need to do more often. Life moves too fast for us all in 2012, and I think it's important every so often to take a weekend to ignore everything that you "just have to get done!!!" to take some time to enjoy life with your significant other. When things turn into a blur, when you start to feel tired all the time, it's okay to back off for a while and take a minute to enjoy the sun. It's also possible to be too social--if you're going out to hang with friends so often that it's starting to feel like an obligation, it might be time to tell your friends you need to take a little time to "hermit up," as I call it. Not forever, but for a couple weeks or so. Real friends and family will understand.
Anyway, I guess that's about all for now. If there's anything to take away from this, it's to remember that grown-ups need to play, too...especially with the person closest to you.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
That is to say, I spent two years in library school having it drilled into my head that what libraries need to move forward, evolve, and survive is a crop of new librarians just out of school that have new ideas, who embrace the digital world, and who have a fresh outlook and take on the field.
I graduated, and not a single damn library wanted to even interview me. Why? Because I don't have fifteen to twenty years of experience. Never mind the flat-out laundry list of transferable skills I've got, from information-related to administrative and management. Never mind that I carried a 3.87 GPA while working full time at an administration job. Because the word "librarian" followed by "20 years" wasn't written on my resume, I was screwed. And I'm not talking about 15 or 20 resumes, either. I sent out over 200 resumes in the intervening year between graduation and when I gave up. In all that time, I had three interviews. Two were for part time library assistant jobs who told me I was overqualified so they couldn't justify hiring me, and a third that turned out the woman just wanted to meet me because my resume was so impressive, but who was threatened by my skills set so she didn't want to offer me a job (she pretty much told me as much--"if I hire you, you'll be replacing me within a year.").
Eventually I decided, "Fine, if libraries don't want me, I don't want them either. They can all go to Hell." I wrote my Master's degree off as a waste of time and money (save for a couple good friends I made) and turned back to my current career trajectory, moving up to a full-on business administrator position, which is not a dream job but which doesn't suck, either, and which pays a lot more than a starting librarian position does.
But I digress.
I was, actually, pretty heartbroken at the closing of the LYNCS branch. I helped to open and establish that service point. I co-wrote a published article for the ALA's Public Libraries journal about the process, about what LYNCS represents for the future of libraries, and I've gotten amazing direct feedback about it from librarians all over the country.
And yet, none of the libraries here will hire me.
Sorry, there I go again.
So Julie and I went down that last weekend. The PPM is starting to close down for the winter--not close down, per se, but the number of vendors in the fall and winter months decrease drastically. Still, I love the PPM. It's a great place. It just feels good in there--there's a good vibe about it. So we went down, and walked around the small LYNCS area (which was only maybe 10 x 10 or 11 x 11, maybe). We browsed the shelves, looked at some neat books they had there, I looked at their DVD collection, and just remembered the Marketing class in which our entire semester was devoted to putting this library together. Honestly, I welled up a bit. It made me sad to see it go. I'm not sure if that was the plan all along, for it to be temporary, if they refocused their plans for LYNCS, or if the service point was seen as a failure, but for whatever reason, I really wish the experiment had lasted longer than a year and a half.
Another part of my past gone away, but still, it was an achievement that nobody can ever take away. Even if the libraries around here don't see me as a worthwhile contributor to their staff, at least I got to do that. At least I got to make a contribution, once.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Like Pulp adventure? Want to celebrate the re-release of the Indiana Jones movies in theaters, and do it in style? Can't get enough Lovecraftian horror? Or is Robert E. Howard's El Borak and Sailor Steve Costagan more your style? What about the Shadow, or Doc Savage? Well, then, don't forget to stop by the Troll Lord Games brand new preorder page and put in your order for my pulp role playing game Amazing Adventures, which will be shipping in a couple of weeks! Support the Crusade--Troll Lord puts out great stuff and I'm proud to be publishing with them!
I have also done a chat at IRC #RPGNet recently about AA and my new World War II book for Eden Studios' All Flesh Must Be Eaten line, Band of Zombies. The chat log for that Q&A is available for those wanting more information than is here.That’s when all Hell broke loose. The back window shattered, there was a distinct “ZING!” sound, and the front window followed suit. Kate let out a yelp and jerked the wheel, sending us into a fishtail. I grabbed the door frame and held on for dear life while drawing my Colt 1911. I looked over my shoulder, and sure enough there was that pink Model T. I couldn’t see if Frenchie was behind the wheel; too much sun glare off the windows. But two goons leaned out. At first I assumed they just had pistols. I leaned out the window to draw a bead, and that’s when the one goon opened up with a bloody fire-spewing hand-cannon.
I ducked back into the car. “Great,” I muttered. “Just my luck. The SOB’s got a Tommy Gun.”
Kate snorted. “Look at the bright side. He can’t aim very well on full auto.”
“That’s a bright side?”
Another long burst of fire went wild into the air. Tires squealed as cars bootlegged around us, and the screams of bystanders rang out.
Kate jerked the wheel left, down a narrow alley, just as I pulled up to lean out again. I nearly toppled head-first out the window into a wall. My fedora flew off my head.
This was definitely turning into a bad day.
“Geez, Doll, watch it!” I said, and squeezed off a couple shots as the goon with the Thompson tried to reload. He ducked back into the car while his buddy returned fire.
Welcome to two-fisted adventure with the SIEGE engine!
Amazing Adventures, the newest core game powered by Troll Lord Games’ celebrated SIEGE engine, allows you to create any type of pulp adventure hero you want, and customize them as you like! Be it arcane scholars, mentalists, tomb-raiding archaeologists, Asian martial arts masters, or gangsters and G-Men, this game has you covered. And best of all, if you’re a fan of Castles & Crusades, you can pick this game up and get playing in a matter of minutes! Inside this book you’ll find:
- Eight brand new character classes: Arcanist, Gadgeteer, Gumshoe, Hooligan, Mentalist, Pugilist, Raider, and Socialite
- Character customization options: Generic Class Abilities, Traits, Backgrounds, Fate Points, Pulp Costumes, Sanity rules, and more!
- A streamlined presentation of the SIEGE engine, which uses a single Challenge Base
- Rules for vehicular combat
- Guidelines on how to run a pulp game
- A complete Monster section with all kinds of pulp beasties from giant apes to Lovecraftian horrors
- A complete starting adventure for 4-6 new pulp heroes
- And tons more!
Thursday, September 13, 2012
That's all changing. I am at a new job now, and so far it's going great. It was a major step up, a lot of really nice people, but a lot to learn and a ton of new responsibility. As such, I'm much happier, but I'm also tired a lot from all the learning. Still, the positive outlook gives me more energy to spare, and just in time, as I've got some new projects coming to fruition to which I need to devote time and energy.
What this means is, I'm really hoping to kick my blogging back up soon. So I appreciate everyone that's stuck around through the darkness, and keep your eyes peeled; hopefully I'll have some good new stuff coming soon on all of my blogs.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Keep it simple.
We overcomplicate everything in our world. We think the answer to everything is extensive discourse, ad nauseum. This doesn't lead to anything except gross overreaction in most cases. Take the issue of bigotry in society, for example. Has anyone noticed that the more we talk about it, the more it's not getting better, and indeed is leading to rather disgusting examples of white people (who are so far removed from the plight of minorities that they can't possibly begin to relate) "defending" the poor, beleaguered minorities as if they can't defend themselves? This, my friends, is bigotry--an assumption that a person of another race, gender, or sexual proclivity requires your defense. Indeed, to many minorities such assumptions are as insulting and hurtful as more overtly negative forms of hate speech.
Morgan Freeman had the following to say regarding the issue on 60 minutes (check snopes - this is true):
MIKE WALLACE, CBS`s "60 MINUTES": Black History Month, you find...
MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Ridiculous.
FREEMAN: You`re going to relegate my history to a month?
WALLACE: Come on.
FREEMAN: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on, tell me.
WALLACE: I`m Jewish.
FREEMAN: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?
WALLACE: There isn`t one.
FREEMAN: Why not? Do you want one?
WALLACE: No, no.
FREEMAN: I don`t either. I don`t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until...?
FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I`m going to stop calling you a white man. And I`m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You`re not going to say, "I know this white guy named Mike Wallace." Hear what I`m saying?
A southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, has a song that contains incredible advice from start to finish. It's advice we as a culture and society have completely lost, and desperately need to get back. Let me put it forth here:
Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this, it'll help you
Some sunny day
Just take your time, don't live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You'll find a woman, and you'll find love
And don't forget, son, there is someone up above
And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you'll love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me, son, if you can?
Forget your lust for the rich man's gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied
And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you'll love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me, son, if you can?
Boy, don't you worry, you'll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied
And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you'll love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me, son, if you can?
Now I don't doubt that someone is going to come along and be offended because they're an atheist and the song mentions "someone up above," or because they're gay and the song mentions "finding a woman," but those people are part of the problem. We as a society look for reasons to be pissed off and offended these days, and all we do, then, is scream about it on message boards and facebook.
That's kind of like getting on top of a building in the suburbs in the middle of the night and screaming incoherently at the top of your lungs for an hour. You're not accomplishing anything but irritating a lot of people.
You're also, in the case of the lyrics above, missing the point entirely because you're so busy looking for something to be pissed off about.
The point of those lyrics is that we don't need all this complicated shit society keeps heaping upon us every day. All we need is the basics. Keep it simple and you'll find yourself far happier than you are in pursuing mounds of "stuff" and "prestige." Even if you become rich and successful by some quirk of fate (or hard work) never forget where you come from, never forget that all you need is the basics, and never forget that life is a gift that we should all enjoy, regardless of whether this gift comes from a deity, the cosmos, or a quirk of genetics. The song was written by a straight man with a straight man's outlook, so of course it mentions finding a woman in conjunction with finding love, but it never makes any assumption that one can only find love in a heterosexual sense. The point is the "you'll find love" part.
And the fact that I had to take time out of this blog to defend that is sickening.
Faith is not bad. Nor is atheism. Where they both become problematic is when we get dogmatic about them and start trying to lord them over other people. Hell, even Christ admonished his followers to keep their religion behind closed doors and not to kneel and pray in public. The same goes for atheists. Who do you think you're convincing by announcing that your belief structure - be it supernatural or science-based - makes you better than someone else? What do you think you're accomplishing?
People need to get over themselves. Personally, I'm tired of politics and politicians. I'm tired of the religious and the atheists. I'm tired of reality TV celebrity culture. I'm tired of people criticizing movies and books because they're not complex and deep enough. I'm tired of people looking for things to get outraged about, but then not doing anything practical to try and effect change, as though bitching on facebook is enough.
And yes, I realize that on some level this blog is doing something similar. But in this case I'm not really trying to convince anyone of anything because everyone is so self-important about their mute self-righteous rage, trying to convince them is an exercise in futility.
Nope, I guess what I'm doing here is akin to the guy walking down the street with the "THE END IS NIGH" sandwich board. I think we're too far gone to go back. We're witnessing the burning of Rome, and our government is playing the fiddle and dancing in the streets while the rest of us are blissfully unaware and unwilling to be woken up.
Come to think of it, maybe that crazy "THE END IS NIGH" dude isn't so far off base. I guess all I can do is try to take my own advice, keep things simple, enjoy what I've got and enjoy the gift of life I've got, and continue to do so until I no longer can.
If you've got a couple bucks to throw our way, it'd be very appreciated.
"We few, we rotting few, we band of zombies;
For he today that eats his flesh with me
Shall be a zombie; be he e'er so vile..."
...a grayish blur launched from the shadows. Alexei went down quickly, his throat torn out in one swipe of a black claw. He clawed at the gaping wound in his throat, gurgled, and lay still.Yuri fired a shot, point-blank range, into the thing’s head. It hit the ground and twitched, then lay still. A low growl came from the shadows and three more of the monsters lumbered forth. Movement to Yuri’s left drew his gaze; the creature he’d shot was sitting up, black blood pouring down between its eyes. The four creatures closed in just as the booming roar of a renewed German shelling attack sounded in the distance. Yuri began to scream.
Band of Zombies is the new World War II sourcebook for the All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG, and it is positively packed with new surprises. Inside you will find:
• New Qualities, Drawbacks, Inspired Miracles, and Zombie Aspects
• Detailed Rules for Dogfighting and Naval Combat
• Rules for Shell Shock, Combat Stress, and Madness
• New gear, from guns to aircraft to naval vessels to tanks
• Mass Combat rules
• The first (optional) tactical miniatures skirmish rules for the Unisystem!
• The first complete and detailed campaign setting for All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Different types of Zombies the world over, all tied to the exact same Rise Event, create a worldwide plague of undead during the Greatest War.
• Advice on running campaigns in World War II, from fire teams to commando squads, to SOE operatives behind enemy lines.
• And more!
So strap on your rucksack, hoist your SMG, keep your socks dry, and for cripes' sake, Private, don't forget the call sign! When they come shambling out of the dark, will you stand tall or join the armies of the dead?
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
You see, there’s an interesting process in effect here which I’m going to propose and call Vey’s Razor. The common wisdom is that higher education opens doors, and yet people with higher end degrees are having extremely difficult times finding jobs and especially changing careers. There are a lot of societal factors in play that make this a seemingly complicated issue; if higher education opens doors, why is it so hard for those with higher education to find employment? Certainly the economy is a factor, but I also posit this is only true to a point; in fact, the higher you go in education, the more doors close to you. This is because once you achieve Master’s or Doctoral level, you are then seen as overqualified to do many jobs outside of the one that you studied, while at the same time are considered underqualified in your field if you have not done an internship or had prior experience. In this sense, education is actually a practical hindrance to employment. This, in any case, has been my experience thus far. I completed my Master’s degree over a year ago and only recently have had any sort of nibbles for employment, and these have not been in the field that I studied, but rather in a field where a “generic” amount of education is always seen as valuable: business administration.
Another paradox comes into play—people who don’t have an MBA are sometimes seen as more valuable as administrators than those who do. Why? Because employers are looking for well-rounded administrators. Thus, those who have degrees in, say, humanities with graduate studies in information science and a number of years of experience working in low-level management or even as an executive assistant, are sometimes seen as more valuable than those who have pursued an MBA, which is firstly a wildly common degree, now, and secondly tends to create a rather dogmatic outlook in those who possess it. This of course is not true in all cases, but seems to be a trend that I’ve observed.
It’s a confusing time, overall, for one who is pursuing advanced degrees and/or trying to change careers. In many ways a lot of us are simply locked into the career path we’re already in—as much as we’d like to believe otherwise there is precious little cultural mobility in our society. If you work hard and play the right cards you can potentially move upward in your current trajectory, but making a right or left turn is a much trickier prospect.
Why am I pontificating on all of this? It’s because a year in with almost no interest in my resume and a single interview that was…bizarre, at best, I’ve pretty much given up hope of finding a job in a library, working as a librarian. I’m still applying for the jobs as they come along, but I’m just not waiting for those interview calls anymore. I’ve tried thinking outside the box, looking for other ways to apply my information management skills, but even that has yielded no fruit as most people want computer programming skills to go in hand with the information part, and those I do not have. So I began looking back to the career path I’m already in, trying to find a way I could be happy, and I determined that the real problem is I’m not challenged at all in my current job, merely frustrated by it. I have, thus, begun putting in for jobs that are well above my current pay grade. “What have I got to lose?” I figured. I have administrative skills, and I believe they are skills that could develop to make me a very effective upper level administrator.
Things may be coming to fruition. There’s still a chance that a certain person who has proved a bane to me in the past (and who wants to keep me trapped exactly where I am, as I am “too valuable” to let go) could queer this entire venture…but if I can get past that particular hurdle, I could be looking at kicking open a door that I’ve been trying to get through for a long time. I may have come to the end of my plateau and reached a rather high level which would solve a lot of problems and get me into a position where not only would I be challenged and hopefully more fulfilled, but can feel as though I’m actually doing an important job, which I don’t feel right now.
I don’t want to jinx things by posting too many details. Those close to me know what I’m talking about. Everyone else, please, just wish me as much luck as possible. Thanks!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I was really beyond upset --I felt like I was never going to get past the "swing and a miss" thing that keeps happening to me over and over and over and over again. On Saturday we went to a party with a group of friends and family at a rather expensive restaurant downtown. I had an appetizer and a bowl of soup. Now, I didn't only eat small because I was broke--I had very little appetite because I was still upset, though it did serve to remind me that I feel like I'm the only one in our entire group still living hand-to-mouth. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing to me.
People keep telling me I have to stop measuring my value based on my day job, and it’s a sentiment I understand and appreciate. That being said, I also keep noticing that the people telling me that are measurably more successful in their careers than I am, and they're doing worthwhile jobs. So none of them really get what this is like. Also, I’m not generally a guy who says, “I just want to be left alone,” so seriously, when I do say it, I mean it. People who do that all the time aren’t doing themselves any good. Those of us who recognize that often spending time with others is good for the soul, but still say “I want to be alone?” Those are the people you can take at their word. Sometimes you need to just let your head space clear up. I appreciate the concern of those around me, but I’m here to tell you that if you’re worried about me doing something stupid when you leave me alone…don’t. That is never going to happen. Ever. There is nothing in the world that could actually drive me to those kinds of thoughts or actions. I mean that. Absolutely nothing.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Speaking of which, some minor developments on the job front. I had a meeting with a lovely woman who runs one of our local public libraries this week. It was a sort of half interview/half networking meeting (I'm not sure she knows what she's looking for out of a position she's got open currently). I think and hope I made a good impression: she did say that even if this position didn't work out she'd keep me in mind for the future, hopes I keep in touch, and would like to help me out if she can. So that was something--certainly it was more than I've gotten up till this point.
I have had a few interviews with other departments at Pitt; nothing strictly library-related, but stuff that would make use of the information management part of the degree, so that would at least be a step in the right direction. There are a few things that could go wrong, still, but they're kind of on a personal level so I won't be posting them here. I can say they're directly related to the fact that my current boss wants to keep me exactly where I am...which unfortunately for him is exactly where I don't want to be. I am, for example, up for another position in our department for which everyone (including the position's direct supervisor) feels I'm the perfect fit, but my current boss has been doing everything he can to roadblock the hiring.
In any case, working here isn't going to get me into the LIS field anyway, so it's high time to look to move on. I have begun reaching out to some local librarians and library directors online in hopes that someone will take a look at my resume and give me some advice, thoughts, what-have-you. If I have to network, then I need to start networking. Hopefully my efforts bear some fruit.
Julie and I have talked here and there about starting a family (I love that phrase, by the by, as if Julie and I aren't already a family until we have children). Regardless, we've talked about having kids. I think we're both at the place where we'd kind of like to. Unfortunately it's not in the cards for economic reasons and that's making things rough on both of us. And yes, I know that everyone says you're never ready, you can never afford it, blah, blah, blah, but the simple truth of the matter is that right now she and I are drowning in debt to the point where we could not afford to buy diapers and food for the child. We are both possessed of maxed-out credit cards that we can't seem to get leeway on, we're (barely) living paycheck to paycheck, and we make too much money to get public assistance. Unfortunately, I can't even do a debt consolidation loan because I don't have enough equity in my house to pull it off, and my debt-to-income ratio is too high to get an unsecured loan. This kind of sucks because I'm going on 38. At some point you just get too old to be an effective parent by the time your kid becomes a teenager.
Blah. Why did I wait so long to finally try to get my shit together?
I guess we'll figure something out. We always do. I just need to somehow come up with a quick twelve grand and will be good to go. That's not too hard, is it? I mean, there has to be a bag of $100 bills just laying around with my name on it, right?
And pigs might fly.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
As some of you may or may not know, awhile back I wrote a core roleplaying game for Troll Lord Games. It's a pulp-era RPG that is powered by the same rules system that runs their popular Castles & Crusades RPG, and is entitled Amazing Adventures.
The game hit many, many, many production-related stumbling blocks, and has been in what the motion picture industry refers to as "Development Hell" for quite some time. But this week things moved forward full-steam; I approved the final edits, and now, at long last, pre-orders have been opened for it! The pre-order system TLG is using is very similar to Kickstarter, but they're doing it on their own website. There are multiple levels of order, from 99 cents (which doesn't get you the game, but they promise to toast you at one of their in-house sessions) to $100, which gets you not only the game in physical softcover and ebook format, but five "players guide" versions of the game, t-shirts, six limited edition art prints, GM screens, and an advance copy of an adventure I'm working on for it right now. There are varying levels between that gain you elements of the above (ebook, book, t-shirts, screens, art prints, adventure, etc.)
I'm actually almost jealous and tempted to drop $100 on my own game just to get that bunch of swag.
Here's the sales blurb:
Amazing Adventures, the newest core game powered by Troll Lord Games' celebrated SIEGE engine, allows you to create any type of pulp adventure hero you want, and customize them as you like! Be it arcane scholars, mentalists, tomb-raiding archaeologists, Asian martial arts masters, or gangsters and G-Men, this game has you covered. And best of all, if you're a fan of Castles & Crusades, you can pick this game up and get playing in a matter of minutes! Inside this book you'll find:
* Eight brand new character classes: Arcanist, Gadgeteer, Gumshoe, Hooligan, Mentalist, Pugilist, Raider, and Socialite
* Character customization options: Generic Class Abilities, Traits, Backgrounds, Fate Points, Pulp Costumes, Sanity rules, and more!
* A streamlined presentation of the SIEGE engine, which uses a single Challenge Base
* Rules for vehicular combat Guidelines on how to run a pulp game
* A complete Monster section with all kinds of pulp beasties from giant apes to Lovecraftian horrors
* A complete starting adventure for 4-6 new pulp heroes
* And tons more!
In any case, I'm putting the word out there in hopes that some of you may be interested enough to throw in a pre-order. It'll help me immensely and will fund the book so we can get it out for Gen Con.
Monday, April 30, 2012
The past few days, life has been pretty good. I don’t get to say that very often these days, so it was nice to have that.
As many of my readers are probably aware, I got a new car on Thursday. The high-maintenance bitch I’ve been driving for four years is gone. Mike and I changed out the radiator on it about two weeks ago, and this past week, the water pump went bad. When the garage told me it was going to cost $435 or so to replace it, it occurred to me that since I was putting $500 every two months into that car, I may as well be making a car payment on a new one. Toyota had a really nice lease deal going on for brand new Rav4’s, so I walked into the office on Thursday and told the first salesperson I saw that I had a trade-in for which I’d like to get $3,000, and if he could cut me a good deal I might be driving away with a new car.
I knew I wasn’t getting 3 grand, but when negotiating you start high. I ended up getting $2,000 for the Saturn, plus $1,000 for being a recent college grad, and a $500 lease incentive, which put me a good bit ahead of the game for a downpayment, and about 3 hours later I drove off the lot in a brand spanking new Rav4 with really reasonable monthly payments. I was a little concerned that there might be hiccups with my credit check (not my rating, which I know is good, but potentially with my income-debt ratio), but everything went through quick, smooth, and easy. It was a really nice feeling to have that happen for a change. They gave me the financing amount for if I choose to buy it out at the end of the lease, and it’s a pretty low number—low enough that I’m thinking in 3 years, if they’re willing to give me an extended warranty and an affordable loan term, I may well keep the girl.
Funny part is, I drove to our friends’ place for gaming right after that, as I do every Thursday, and realized when I got there that my car is identical to theirs in every way—even color. Theirs is a 2010, but there’s really no difference in the look of the car between 2010 and 2012. It was a funny coincidence because I essentially told him the first one he showed me looked great (which it did). They call the color Pyrite, which is a sort of cross between slate and a dark gold. Not a ton of bells and whistles, but it’s got more than I need. AWD AND 4WD, which is helpful, plus I had fun playing with the USB port and built-in Bluetooth hands free setup. I get free maintenance for the term of the lease, plus a really nice factory warranty, which means essentially I’ll be paying for tires and brakes, and that’s about it.
Of course, I drove everywhere between Thursday and yesterday because everyone wanted to see it (and I wanted to show off my new girl).
In short: I think I’m in love, and it’s a love affair I hope will last a long time.
Friday night we picked up Mike and took her for a drive, out to Half-Price books to trade some things in, and then to dinner. Saturday I drove out to my folks’ house to show it off to them, and they took Julie and me out to lunch; later on we met up with Sara, Ian, Taej, Jackie, Mike, and my dad for a few beers at Hough’s (a local bar with an excellent beer selection)—I had only one beer since I was driving, but it’s always nice to spend time with friends and family. Ian also got a new SUV recently, so he and I showed off our cars to each other.
Yesterday there was no gaming, as Robert is scheduled to run next and he was out of town; this worked out nicely because it was also our friend George’s birthday, so Julie and I went over to George’s place and hung out with the Thursday gaming group, George’s wife Kim, and their kids. By then I was a bit tired of driving everywhere so Julie drove.
There was a lot of back-and-forth and out-and-about this weekend, but it was all of the relaxing sort. It was nice to have a couple of days to recharge the ol’ batteries, and have nothing weighing on my mind at all. I’d like to hope this marks a changing in Julie’s and my fortunes for awhile, but I try never to get my hopes up about things like that.
I could still really use a library job, however, or at least a job that doesn’t see me acting as someone’s administrative assistant. That’d be aces.
Anyway, it was a good weekend. I got a new car, I got to spend time with friends and family, and I got to relax and just enjoy life for a couple days. Here’s to hoping it stays that way for awhile.