June 11th, 2017

Oh hey, I still have this thing.

I could’ve sworn I’d used it since January, but I’d have been wrong. I certainly thought about using it, to be sure, but I never updated it until now.

What’s changed since then? Well, nothing and everything, I suppose.

Work is still as stressful as ever (which I won’t go into here), writing remains just as difficult, and I still have far too many movies, books, games, etc. to enjoy.

In the everything column, I realize as I write this that my nephew wasn’t born when I last updated. That’s kind of a big deal; his middle name is mine (poor kid). I’ve also been meeting regularly with a cousin of mine to discuss how our writing is coming along, which is definitely helpful inspiring even if I haven’t accomplished all that much; I have ideas. No, wait, sorry: ideas. Ahem. And I’ve been reading more as of late, which sort of ties into the inspiring column too, but it also means I’m getting through some of the backlog, one page turn at a time.

So things aren’t all that bad. This is what I focus on and tell myself, at any rate.

Perhaps remembering I have this outlet and actually using it will help too. If nothing else it’ll help me remember how to use italics, yes? Yes.

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January 12th, 2017

2016 is done and behind us. Good riddance too, for a number of reasons; I was at my heaviest ever at one point last year, work (the four-lettered work I try not to mention on here, whoops) got far too chaotic, NaNo ended up being a complete disaster, and a bevy of other reasons that I’d rather not linger on any longer than necessary.

I’m trying to focus on the positive from last year, instead of just the negative, however. I ended up losing a lot of that weight and continue to do so, which is taking time but I’m heading in the right direction. I also managed to advance to the third round of a writing competition I’ve done the last few years, which was encouraging. I met my goal of reading 25 books in the year, even if I finished the last one on New Year’s Eve.

I’ve renewed those challenges, both official (reading 25 books again, trying to write 150k) and unofficial (keeping up with weight loss), and even if last year wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, there’s no reason to not try again this year.

So yeah, bring it on, 2017. I’m sure it’ll end up being a similar mix of personal hits and misses, but the main thing is to keep trying, right?

On that front, today while driving back home from the city after work I listened to a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast featuring Bruce Springsteen, which you can find here. In the beginning, before starting his interview, Marc muses about the difference between being hard on one’s self and beating the $#!& out of one’s self, which really rings true to me as I look back to last year and forward to this one. Some wise words there, and it’s a great inteview, though of course I’m a little bit biased.

A little late, I know, but Happy New Year to all. Hope 2017 is good to you and yours.

December 6th, 2016

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Frisson: a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill. Described better on Wikipedia here.

What songs or passages of music cause you to experience this?

For me, such passages create a ‘tingle’ in my brain, or something to that effect. It’s hard to describe, but very noticeable.

I was just listening to the song Wayne by Chantal Kreviazuk, which causes that very sensation for me around 2:35 into the video (2:55 into song on iTunes oddly enough) with the little piano riff and the strings kicking in (after the “under these rocks and stones” line). That’s what prompted me to ask this question.

Another instance is with the song M79 by Vampire Weekend, which happens at about 3:50 of the song when the strings kick into overdrive for the last few lines of the song. It’s strings again, which is maybe a theme for me, hmm.

There are other songs that don’t immediately leap to mind, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to both make a post and find out what causes this for other people. So please feel free to comment if you feel like sharing. 🙂

September 19th, 2016

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Last year was my first crack at the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction challenge. It went well enough, though I didn’t advance past the second round, which everyone gets to attempt. You score points based on each of the first two rounds, the total of which determines who goes on to round three. I believe last year I scored 2 points in the first round and 7 in the second.

This year I’m off to a better start, having scored 9 points in my first story. The second round just ended yesterday and I won’t know how I did until early November, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get to round three this time. At that stage, they reshuffle us into new groups (there were 60 of about 35 people each initially) and the best four in round three go to the final round.

I don’t harbour any illusions that I might make it to the last round (or even further) but I really do hope I get to the third. You’re given just 48 hours (11:59pm EST on Friday night until 11:59pm EST on Sunday night) to write a maximum of 1,000 words on a given genre, location, and prompt, and while last year I actually went into St. John’s both weekends, I made sure I stayed home and focused this year. It’s made a big difference, I think so anyway, and I’m very happy with what I’ve done this far.

So in that vein, for those who may be curious here’s my first round entry and my second round entry, shared as read only docs on Google Drive. The first round’s genre was romance, with the location being a money wiring office and the object being a highlighter, and for round two it was comedy / a principal’s office / a metal whistle.

That’s what I’ve been up to lately, along with trying to eat better and be healthier overall. That’s been going well too, thankfully, and while at first blush the two – writing and weight loss – may not seem to have all that much in common, they do. For me, at least, I suppose. They’ve both required a lot of determination and will power for me, and will only work if I focus on the goals at hand and just get through it.

Of course one results in me winning (hopefully) and the other with me losing (again, hopefully), but hey, they’re both worth trying, right?

March 27th, 2016

My cousin Terry and I saw Batman v. Superman today. I’ll say right at the beginning that I’ve always been a bigger fan of Marvel than I am of DC. I’ll also say that I state it that way because in my eyes it’s not one or the other; you can be a fan of both and enjoy one without hating the other. I just happened to like more of the Marvel characters growing up, and when I got into writing / roleplaying there were way more Marvel options out there, so it stuck.

Anyway, all that being said, I really enjoyed the movie. I’ll be honest, my expectations were fairly low given previous DC movies (Green Lantern was just… yeah) and the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but it more than exceeded them. I’m honestly a little perplexed as to how it’s scoring just 29% with critics and 73% with audiences. I’m definitely in the latter group and that score sounds about right to me.

I won’t go into the plot or anything in depth for fear of spoiling people, but I’ll just say I’m glad I went before I got spoiled myself. There was definitely a lot more going on than I’d expected, in a good way, and while I wish there’d been more Wonder Woman the mere fact that she was there at all was awesome. I’m looking forward to her own solo movie, which is another one up for DC on Marvel.

I’m excited to see more from DC now, and while I was already interested in seeing Suicide Squad I want to see it now, darn it, not to mention some of the other projects hinted at in the movie. And then there’s the already scheduled Justice League movies, which I wasn’t sure would even get made let alone released at one point but now I’m really looking forward to them and the lead up films.

It made me pretty happy to walk out with a smile on my face, because I really wasn’t sure if that’d be the case or not. My cousin is a huge Superman fan so I was in for that fact alone, and our trips to town to see movies is always a great time regardless of the movie’s calibre, but it’s that much better when we both enjoy what we saw. That was definitely the case today.

Kudos, DC, and here’s to keeping it up, up, and away in the future. (Sorry.)

February 14th, 2016

This weekend I’ve been thinking a lot about gaming and how I set myself up to not meet expectations. This came up from watching some TGN Squadron videos, starting with the usual Heroes of the Storm videos but then branching out to beta play of the upcoming The Division MMO. It looks like a ton of fun, and certainly watching the four of them playing in the video together was a blast, but then I realized that I probably wouldn’t have anyone to play with if I were to pick it up.

It’s not out yet, so I can’t say that for certain I suppose, but still, this has happened to me a lot lately. Heroes is a huge case in point, where I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) on the game and mentioned it to lots of friends only to have none of them want to play it. That’s understandable, since nothing is for everyone, but I seem to keep repeating this experience in game after game.

Most recently the new Star Wars Battlefront MMO shooter has fit that description. I put a lot of hours into it initially, and did have a friend play with me for a bit – I won another digital copy through an online contest and gave it to them – but that was just for one night. It was an awesome night, but that was over a month ago now and I’ve not played it since then.

Time has been an issue, with the dreaded W word that I don’t talk about here being more onerous than usual lately, but a good chunk of it is the lack of people to play with in the games. And yet I keep buying and/or playing them.

This spills over to tabletop games as well; I own a large number of board games that are mostly for 3+ people, many of which I haven’t played since buying them, and yet I want to buy more. I keep meaning to inquire if people would like to have a games night amongst our circle of friends but they all live in the city and, well, it’s hard enough to ask if they’d want to play period, let alone having to ask someone to actually host it on top of that. See also real life getting in the way, etc.

Nowhere is this problem more glaringly obvious, however, than with penned paper roleplaying games. From where I’m sitting in our basement as I type this I can see the mountain of D&D 4th edition books I purchased with lofty aspirations of creating campaigns and playing with friends (both online and in person). I purchased the player’s guide, DM guide, monster’s manual, books on loot and rewards, campaign books, a ton of stuff.

Total number of times I’ve played D&D? Zero.

And now the 4th edition, which it turned out a lot of people hated after all, has been supplanted by the 5th edition. Of which I’ve also played zero games, and so far own the player’s guide and DM guide. I know, I know. Glutton for punishment here.

There’s also a few Pathfinders books and some Shadowrun stuff thrown in for good measure, along with D&D figures and dice sets, many of which still sit in their original packaging. Sigh.

D&D really sticks out to me because of an incident from our trip to Emerald City Comic Con a few years back. Wizards of the Coast had a fairly large booth there where they allowed people to play test some of their stuff, by grouping up and rolling large d20 on a life sized map where you and your friends made up a little party and fought a monster or two. You had to line up for it, and while Sara was checking something else out I did just that.

There was a group ahead of me of 3-4 people, and when we got near the front of the line I got waved in with them to a little prep area, where they handed out cards for people to use temporarily, on lanyards to hang around your neck (you passed back in after). They explained the rules there and once the group ahead of you was done you had at it.

I was lumped in with them and it was all good, until the combat was about to start and one of the demo people asked the 3-4 people if I was with them and they said no, then proceed to play amongst themselves. So I turned around to go back in line, I figured, only to see that by that point the group that was behind me was in the prep stage and seemed to be another group of friends.

I just turned and left, pretty bummed out to be honest. All I could think was that here I was at a convention, in line with people to play D&D, a game historically associated with so-called “outcasts” or geeks/nerds who were excluded from other things, playing together, and I was being excluded from that. I don’t know, maybe it’s silly, and I was, what, 35-36 at the time?, but I remember having a lump in my throat and feeling pretty shitty about the whole thing.

One of the people working there must have noticed because while I didn’t get to actually do the play test they let me keep the lanyard I had – an elf ranger I think, it’s around here somewhere – and they gave me a D&D tote bag or something too. Which I was a little embarrassed about, because damn, I felt pretty pathetic as it was, but looking back they were really nice about it.

Despite all of that, I still set myself up for failure with this kind of thing, though more so in the digital realm these days. The only upside has been I can still play with strangers in most of those MMOs, which is less fun and sometimes leads to people being assholes on the internet, but at least I can play at all, right? All of that came bubbling back up to the surface of my mind from The Division, and knowing me I’ll likely give it a shot anyway because, well, look at all of the above and how often I’ve fallen for this kind of thing.

One of these days, D&D. One of these days.

February 9th, 2016

Clearly I’ve accepted and embraced the fact that I won’t be posting here every day. Which, honestly, is more than welcome – it felt nice this past weekend especially when I was on the road not to worry about having to post something. A full month of that really did what I’d hoped and kickstarted my writing, more than that is just a pain in the ass it would seem.

Anyway. Things have been busy but going well for the most part. I’ve moved on to reading another book, Slade House, which I think I mentioned before but just in case I haven’t I’m loving it so far. I’m about half way through it and hope to be done by next week, as I’m trying to read two books a month and so far so good.

We had a snow day today which was nice, as a little break is good every now and then. Speaking of which, we have time booked off for March to go to Mexico, which is going to have to be postponed but I’ll still be taking the time off or else I’ll lose it, so I’ll still get a break regardless. That’s going to be nice as well, as I have so many books, games, movies, tv shows, etc. with which to occupy myself and that will be a prime opportunity to do so. Oh, and then there’s this writing I’m always talking about, maybe I can do some of that too.

That’s about it for now, I started writing this a few hours ago and am only cluing it up now before heading to bed. I’m trying to get to sleep earlier during the weeknights but so far it hasn’t been going quite as well as it should. Tonight will be good though, provided I finish this up now and head to bed, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.