Friday, December 31, 2010

iBlogger

So, I'm sitting here in front of a blank screen (I write with a very basic text program called Q10) trying to drum up something to write about.

I couldn't think of anything. I was given an iPhone for Christmas, though, and I wondered if I could update my blog with an "app." It never occurred to me to stop and question whether I wanted to do so, I just wondered if I could.

I can. But I still don't know what to say.

I could write about writing, but the truth is, I haven't done very much of that lately. I could write about New Year's Resolutions, but I don't have any, and it's a little too much like the oft repetitive (and dull) self-help shut I used to spew out on the page every month or so (without ever actually doing anything), so I don't want to do that. I could (and probably should) write about gaming, but I haven't sat at a gaming table in months.

Now I'm wondering if having such ready access to my blog in the same device that also features a camera and gps locator is such a good idea.

This is just a ramble, I guess. I hope you'll forgive me for wasting your time. I think the best course of action here would be not to write; but since I'm not going to give that up, I suppose the next best alternative is to "stay the course."

I've a dozen or so story ideas I want to share, as well as the NANOWRIMO stuff I never finished. I have more thoughts on the process, and now that I've started with this, I've a burning desire to get back to it.

I think that, what you can expect in the weeks to come her is new short fiction, the long overdue continuation (and hopefully conclusion) of Reptile, and possibly an essay or two.

Plus (and let's be honest here) I've got a new iPhone and it's like the shiny new toy you just can't put down, so there'll likely be a few photos and "on the go" updates that will have been (once hindsight becomes a factor) better suited to 140 characters or less.

That's it. First bit should be up Saturday, unless I find somewhere to be after work tonight and find myself the subject of embarrassment at someone's New Year celebration.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Green Dragon

This is a response to the video "Religious Right on Dangers of Environmentalism" posted by RightWingWatch.org. As Right Wing Watch is a watchdog channel, and not proponents of the message (and because this response was too long for my YouTube channel), I decided to post it here. It is mostly and embrace of what it is "they" think an environmentalist is. There are moments when I kind of lost my composure. Moments when I switched gears without warning (mostly following the track of the video). At some points I stopped calling for action and went on the offensive, as though the idiots in the video would deign to read my words. I left it all in here. It seemed the best way to provoke dialog was to go ahead and voice my opinions and feelings - even if they're wrong.


You can search far and wide.
You can drink the whole town dry.

But you'll never find a beer so brown,
as the one we drink in our home town.

You can drink your fancy ales.
You can drink 'em by the flagon.

But the only brew for the brave and true
comes from the Green Dragon. - J.R.R. Tolkien

I believe there is a dire need for radical environmentalism. Now I'm not talking about a turn to violence, at least not overtly. I believe that there is a call for some sort of guerrilla information campaign. A Shock & Awe distribution of truth and solution that could blanket the developed world and start opening some eyes. To this end, in the interest of sparking conversation and debate, I present the following points:

Targeting The Children.

It seems to me that the first priority of any "Green Dragon" MUST be to target the children. Those who are blinded by ignorance and religious indoctrination against worldly stewardship (that's right, I said it) are going to prove least likely to bend to the winds of truth.

Children however, are malleable, open, willing to learn. They can - and want to - be taught the truth. And it is not the world that environmentalists are trying to protect. The world will endure, regardless of whether or not it remains hospitable for human life. It is these very children, and the children to come that (now) we are fighting tooth and nail to save from these blind, greedy, ignorant fascists.

The Needs of the Many

The needs of the Earth, of Nature (more specifically, the needs of our ecosystem) must come before the needs of her inhabitants. It sounds contradictory, anti-human, or even sinister, but without a balance in Nature, Nature will turn on us. Nature will either lash out and destroy us all, or simply stop feeding us.

The poor, the hungry, the uneducated, even the self-deluding asshats who are fighting to yoke Nature like a dog and force it under heel, are all going to die.

We're going to die slow, miserable, agonizing deaths.

The environment must come first. This is not to say that we should ignore the needs of our fellow men. Far from it. I think any environmentalist in his right mind must understand that we have to form a part of that balance in Nature. All of us. But while the needs of every single human must be met, and met today; there are some desires that can and will be put on hold until we have come to terms with our planet.

Those who stand under the shadow of the Green Dragon, who take up arms in its name, must not fall prey to the deceptions of the undereducated, the deluded, and the outright deranged. We must look at the Universe with an open, reasoned mind, and we must ask questions of that Universe and seek answers within the methodologies of rationality. We, as a species, have found within Nature the means to destroy her. We can find - whether within Nature or within ourselves - the means to rescue her from that destruction.

And we must be radical in our actions, our speech, our steps toward confronting the lies and disinformation spread about the sustainability of our grotesquely overindulgent lifestyles. It is time to stop listening respectfully to the bullshit these people are trying to foist onto us - onto our own children and start calling them on it.

You cannot speak of "human prosperity" or "human freedom" without addressing humanity. And I'll be completely fucking honest here. I don't give a rat's ass if you get to keep your wealth and comfort in the face of this. So long as one person in the world doesn't have enough to eat; so long as one human being has to sleep on the ground or eat dirt, just to have something in her stomach, the Green Dragon doesn't give two shits about your comfort.

Until every human being can be said to be within reach of prosperity, until every human being can be said to be free, your "human prosperity," your "human freedom" is meaningless. It is a lie - a disease of the foulest sort that, yes, I am out to fucking eradicate.

So long as you or your organization or your corporation or your group or team or club or fucking religion stands against a future in which our children can walk in the same light and breath the same air and enjoy the same world that we take for granted, then yes, I am your enemy; and my goals include an end to your doctrines.

A Spritual Battle

This is more than a political battle. More than a matter of mere education. The enemies of the Green Dragon have personalized their enmity for the well-being and safety of their fellow man by calling it their spiritual right, the divinely inspired gifts of their god. We can have no choice but to stand against these lies, to dissect and dissolve them in the public forum - whenever and wherever we can.

Make no mistake. These enemies of humanity view this as a spiritual battle - a mandate from heaven that no one will save this planet from destruction, not so long as it involves making them change even a light bulb.

These mother fuckers hold in their deranged little hearts, the notion that their god will come one day and wipe away the world. For two-thousand years, they have believed it would happen tomorrow; and so long as they and their children are allowed to continue in this delusion, they cannot help but see the fight to protect our habitat as - not just frivolous - but evil. Evil that flies in the face of all that they have deemed good in the eyes of their imaginary god.

The Religion of Environmental Science

The heart of science is its ability to adapt to new information. So long as we can look at the Universe and learn from it, our knowledge will change, and Science - which is nothing more than the process by which we add to that knowledge - will always be the key to understanding the best methods of saving ourselves from extinction.

Science is the exploration of Truth. If we can be said to have any religion, than it must be the search for Truth. But our understanding of that Truth must be malleable, must be open to the possibility that there is more to understand than what is already known. This is Science. And we must embrace it.

No longer can we stand effectively against these nutjobs who want nothing less than for their way of life to go on undeterred - regardless of the cost to their fellow man or the detrimental impact that way of life is having on their own habitat. We must undertake to understand the science behind the grandstanding of politicians and celebrity. We must know the answers to challenges put before us by these, frankly, evil people.

But picketing and shouting slogans will not suffice. No longer can we rely on the regurgitated catch phrases of a few popular scientists. A deeper understanding of the science behind the pop culture must be understood. We must embrace the scientific study of our environment, in order to protect our niche within it.

The Poor

I am so fucking through with the poor. I'm through worrying about the poor. Fuck the poor. It's about 200, maybe 2,000 years past time we stopped letting these people live in squalor. It's past time we stuck out a hand and started picking these fuckers up and putting them on the path. There are buildings in the world that are nearly a half-mile tall. One, at least, that exceeds that height. It cost 1.5 Billion dollars to erect that one building alone. Starbucks made $700 Million dollars a year selling bad coffee to people who prefer their milkshakes warm. There are shoes that cost more money than some people make in a year.

Meanwhile, there are people who throw away edible food. People who own clothes they never wear, computers they never use, televisions they never watch, fucking refrigerators that sit in unused rooms and never have food put in them. There are men and women who eat the equivalent of four or more meals at one sitting.

When the fuck are we going to stop being such assholes?

There are people in America who call themselves poor and yet have roofs over their heads and food in their mouths. People who have access to the internet, who watch cable TV and are really more wealthy than the Pharaohs of Egypt; than the Kings of Babylon.

You're goddamn right I hate the poor. I'm so fucking sick of poverty it makes my teeth hurt. That's not an exaggeration, I'm in dire need of dental work. But environmentalists like me don't want to eradicate the people. We want to do away with the poverty. There's just no fucking reason for one person in the world to go hungry today if anyone in the world can be said to have compassion.

That Not-Quite Overt Call to Arms I Mentioned Earlier

I think that what you have to open your eyes and ears and hearts to is this: You have no right to the wealth you possess. You have no right to live a life of excess and waste while others die of exposure and malnutrition. No matter how hard you think you worked for it, but especially if you're a preacher, an athlete or some other kind of entertainer. As of right now, you only possess that wealth because we allow you to.

Only because we have not come to take it.

But if you don't start showing some compassion, you are in for a rude awakening. Someone will come to my aid, and we will steal you away in the dead of night and drop your ass overseas in the goddamn center of life-sucks and we will liquidate your fortune and start ending poverty our way.

There is no god granting you leave to ignore the suffering of others. Nothing has been entrusted to you that wasn't taken by force from someone else. It's high time you fucking gave something back.

And it's high time you took your head out of your ass and stopped trying to destroy the only planet that can support our species.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Heroes

I've been writing this story (it's taking a while). It's a hero's journey tale, which ought to have been a simple affair to put on paper. Alas, had I only taken the Hero's Journey myself.

Well, maybe I did, a little. Maybe I'm still on the Hero's Journey. Maybe this is the part where the hero - filled with despair - succumbs to the temptations of the world and grows fat and lazy, spending all of his time looking at the amazing lives of other people on the internet and wishing he was doing more.

No, wait. That's not in the Hero's Journey, exactly, is it?

But it got me thinking. Actually, I was thinking about who inspired the protagonist of the story I'm not writing right now, because I'm writing this. And that got me thinking about who my heroes are, have been. It's a crazy, stupid, incredibly long list, but here are a few in no particular order:

Luke Skywalker

Other kids wanted to be Firemen or Astronauts or even Jedi. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I figured it out later, but that's always kind of lurked in the background, even today.

Stephen King

Say whatever the hell you want (you book snob) about the so-called "pedestrian" nature of Stephen King's work. The man can spin a tale. I can't think of one King story I've read that let me down. Silver Bullet, maybe (I read the script). Stephen King's On Writing was the book that made me think I could be a writer, after a smattering of praise from a 11th-grade English teacher. I wish now I'd abandoned everything else right then (maybe not drama) and only written until there were no words left in me. I wish I could do that now.

Richard Harris

Richard Harris was a drunk and a scalawag who quite possibly funded the IRA; but he was in a movie called "Triumph of a Man Called Horse," which was the first movie I saw that made me think I wanted to be an actor.

You may not know that I wanted to be an actor. I gave up on that dream. Fuck I don't like admitting that.

Richard Harris led an amazing life too. He told the best stories, he drank a lot, he went were he wanted to go, said what he wanted to say, and did whatever the hell he wanted to do. I always wanted to have balls like that. Sometimes I think Peter O'Toole is the man who was my hero here. Holy crap I'd loved to have gone drinking with those two. No. Richard Harris was Arthur, and John Mills, and so much more.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan made me want to go to space even more than Luke Skywalker did, almost as much as Neil deGrasse Tyson does. More than that, Sagan makes me want to keep learning. keep studying. Be smarter. Better. More.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson seems to have picked up where Sagan, regrettably, left off - he practically studied at the man's feet. He is so infectious when he talks about science, about his own field of astrophysics, specifically. I can't help but wanting to know more. I hope for two things for Mr. Tyson. First, that he doesn't have to face any of the negativity from other scientists that Sagan is rumored to have had to face. Second, that he has the time and inclination to take the reigns of some modern incarnation of Cosmos.

Kurt Vonnegut

I came to Vonnegut kind of late in the game. I already knew I wanted to write, I already knew I wanted to speak my mind (though I haven't quite learned that trick yet). But Vonnegut gave voice to the wretched little demon under my talent and tried to kick me in the butt and make me do something. I love reading Vonnegut. Even the stuff I already read. Even when I disagree with the man, I fucking loved him.

Mel Brooks

I've always kind of secretly wished I was just half as funny as Mel Brooks.

Paul Varjak

I wanted to BE Paul Varjak because he was a) a writer, almost living the life he wanted to live - writing; and b) he was a kept man. I've wanted to be a kept man since I was a teenage boy. It's a dream, leave me alone.

I almost wanted to be Paul Varjak as much as I wanted to be "Fred." I wanted to be Fred because he got the girl. And what a girl (Audrey Hepburn in this case), crazy, psychotic, drunken (man-hating) fool with great legs and a smile that'd melt you. Wait a minute. I might've actually done that part. I hope it ended better for Fred, I mean Paul.

Charlie Chaplain

I didn't really see any Charlie Chaplain films until I was in high school, during my senior year. My Drama teacher showed us a few of them and then we improved our way through a couple of ideas brought up by the films. Watching the old silent movies, though - for the first time - in 1990, was like seeing something completely new. Actors in movies we watch now, don't do the things Chaplain did. The don't do them the way Chaplain did. I don't know if one is necessarily better than the other (if you discount the differences of medium); but Chaplain got me fired up.

Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell said once that he just wanted to act. He didn't care what the movie was, didn't care how bad it seemed or anything like that. He just wanted to act, man. True or not (I never bothered to look into its veracity), I've been impressed by that sentiment ever since. Plus, the man was Ash AND he was Elvis in Bubba Hotep. He can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.

Daniel Day Lewis

If Richard Harris made me want to act, Daniel Day Lewis made me want to act well. He also instilled in me this incredible fear (which I never quite got over), that I would never be good enough.

It was Lewis's earlier stuff that effected me most, though lately, I've viewed his work with this sinking sensation in the back of my soul telling me I should be on stage, or at least in front of a camera (there's that fear again, though).

Christopher Hitchens

Hitch is a writer who doesn't back down when his subject is likely to offend. He's a different kind of writer than I am, but he's an inspiration no matter what. He's also the man who presented about half the arguments that allowed me to let go of my belief in god(s).

There's more. More Heroes. More reasons why. But I can't for the life of me think of why I'm writing this. Who are your heroes? I left some out (because there are no videos of them); but who are the people that make you who you are, or make you want to be better.

Who inspires you to be more than you were yesterday? This is kind of important to think about every once in a while. Like realizing when you're happy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Good Dream or Best Dream

I had one of those awesome dreams that makes you (me) reach for one of the dozen or more spiral notebooks strewn around my room and try to get it all down before nothing remains but a faint smile and ephemera.

I have this recurring dream about fighting vampires around this tiny old Gothic church in the middle of some city. When I say fighting vampires, I mean there are about 30 of us against what can only be described as the vampire apocalypse. Think: "every zombie movie you've ever seen" except that the zombies are smart, can turn into wolves (or bats), have psychic powers and are so much faster than you or I will ever be. It almost always sucks. Ha ha. No.

The dream (I can't adequately explain why it's not a nightmare - well, tonight I can) usually consists of anticipation. Me and the other survivors trying to scrounge weapons, secure the children, board up windows and prep ourselves for the death we all know we can only postpone a few minutes. Maybe a few hours. I often wake just as the horde of vampires come into view, striding out of the night and filling the streets like only a horde of evil bent on your utter destruction and damnation can.

This time, I was helping the preacher, I think his name was Jon. We were filling water balloons with holy water (he was blessing them as we went) and some chick said, "can I help? I don't want to just stand around."

It was Summer Glau. If you don't know who that is, I'm sorry. Father Jon (that was it for sure) and a bunch of others and I got over being star-struck, trying to figure out why she was in Chicago. I never knew the church was in Chicago before.

I think it gave us all a kind of hope - her being there. Our families weren't there, our friends and neighbors, but here was someone we almost knew. Here was someone alive. "We can do this," I said.

Later, I was trying to show her how to fire a crossbow and she said, "dude, I was a fucking terminator."

I laughed. "Okay."

We went through all the motions we usually go through. I think I've dreamt one variation of this dream or another at least a dozen times. But I felt like a schoolboy. I was arming children with sharpened stakes and locking them in a church basement and smiling at this chick who (at least in my dream) was as smart and strong and - you get the idea. Stupid.

So someone shouts, "they're here!"

We all run up to the giant, Tolkienesque doors (I can't think of any other way to describe the church's doors - like something off a church in Arda). And we're standing there. And I look over at Summer and she gives me this smirk, like she does onscreen. Kind of a cocky, "don't be stupid, we got this all day" thing. And then the horde comes into sight and the fighting starts and I lose track of her and I wake up trying to fight my way through the horde to find where the fuck she went.

Part of me wanted to save the movie star - the idea of her gave us all so much hope, part of me just wanted to be the hero, part of me wanted to be in love (I realized for the briefest moment that I was dreaming when I told myself what a dumb idea that was - falling in love with a made-up construct of my own subconscious), and part of me wanted to get laid - I might've been fully back in the dream by then, but I did fleetingly hope it would happen before I woke up. I didn't get to her.

I woke up.

There's a school of thought among the Lucid Dreamer / Out of Body Experience people that teaches Dreams are real. When you dream, your consciousness slips the bonds of this world and sojourns (however briefly) in another actual physical reality. It seems ephemeral and disconnected only because it isn't your reality. You shouldn't be able to be there. Sometimes you interact with other dreamers, sometimes with total strangers - natives of those other worlds. Often you see these as people you know just because your subconscious (sic) knows to trust them (or not to) and assigns them these appearances in your mind so that you'll associate with them more readily. I don't buy it, but hearing the theory in its entirety lends a gravity to most dreams. There are some fucked-up other realities out there. Even worse if they are really just inner realities.

I felt a distinct sense of loss when I realized I was awake. Like I blew it. Usually when I wake up from this thing, I feel bad because I know they were going to die, but I feel good that I helped give them hope. I stretched their dream-lives a few moments longer than I might have.

But I couldn't save the girl this time; and she was new. Different. Whoever she was, I hope she made it. Anyway. I wrote it all down and decided to share. Now that it's done, I still have no idea why I don't think it was a nightmare.

It had all the elements: danger, fear, sacrifice, dark and scary imagery, that disjointed feeling you get when you know something bad is about to happen. Like I said, 30 some-odd people are about to die.

But even when I wake up with my heart pounding, sweating and - sometimes - wishing I could get back to sleep and back to the fight just to die with those good people still out there fighting, somewhere in the universe, it's not a nightmare. I don't know why.

I wish I knew better how to interpret dreams (other than, "man Dave, you're fucking crazy"). Or maybe I could actually practice Lucid Dreaming so that one night, when I dream it again, I can actually fight. Make a difference. Kill a shit-ton of vampires and save the girl. Save the Day. Save the whole damn world.

Even if it isn't mine.

Maybe it isn't a nightmare because it gives me hope. I can do better. Just let me back in there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Epic Game Night: Rain of Squids & Burning City

The guys have been harping on me for a while to run an Epic-Level Campaign. I guess I should've been a little more limiting in character creation options.

ISHATHAR is a Githyanki Warlock who was stripped of his power & position among his own kind and stranded on Oryld. A number of unsavory deals with a number of unsavory devils (and demons) later and he's a powerful Warlock bound for hell - regardless of how good his intentions. ISHATHAR's first encounter with civilization on Oryld was in the city of Fallcrest, where he built a home and participates (from behind the scenes) in local politics and the defense of the city.

SHAL-MOK is a Genesi Cleric of Bahamut native to the Elemental Chaos. He's spent most of his life traversing the planar boundaries, exploring the multi-verse. SHAL-MOK came to Fallcrest with ISHATHAR, whom he met and adventured with in the Outer Planes.

THEODOCIOUS is a Minotaur Fighter (we have a long and somewhat bizarre justification for the naming of Minotaurs, and THEODOCIOUS is a perfectly acceptable name for one) whose Clan turned from the worship of Baphomet in favor of Meuheuhah (Unaligned deity and something of a gaming mascot) and was wiped out by the Baphomet-worshiping Clans. THEODOCIOUS escaped the slaughter and spent the remainder of his leveling-up hunting down and destroying demons. THEODOCIOUS and ISHATHAR hooked up in the Abyss shortly before they met SHAL-MOK.

In Fallcrest, things are pretty much as described in the DMG. ISHATHAR participated in some of the Heroic Tier Nentir Vale adventures but most of the party's XP came from destroying demons in the Abyss. Major differences include the presence of the Yellow Sons (Scions of the King in Yellow) - a cult which has taken over the recently abandoned Wizard's Tower.

ISHATHAR suspects the Yellow Sons of being behind recent political changes - the legalization of Slavery (humans can own non-human slaves or human slaves with a permit, non-humans can own non-human slaves with another permit), the legalization of Necromancy, and (just days ago) an ordinance was passed allowing the use of slaves in Necromantic Ritual.

This is about where the first session picked up.

The heroes were discussing how to address the obviously evil political turn, when the earth shook and the sky opened up and it started raining horrible squid-like abominations. The heroes had to fight off the Bep'Nar Squidmites (home-brew monsters), protect the locals, and try not to let the city get destroyed.

One of the Squidmite's (and all of these creatures from the Deeper Darkness - I need a better name for that, but the heroes haven't done any research yet, so I've a little time) powers is Insanity. I've created my own rules for Insanity, based primarily on 4e diseases. I'll detail it later.

After a series of encounters in the city, the heroes made their way out of the Knight's Gate to investigate the sounds of further battle. They rescued a party of lower-level heroes before the Yuugulugnor (another home-brew creature - basically a Hydra with different descriptors. Also a horribly indescribable monstrosity.

When the Yuugulugnor appeared, all time stopped. A White Minotaur appeared on the horizon, flanked by a human male in brilliant plate armor and a woman in simple, brown robes. This was the only conversation I could reasonably script before play began, so it's the one I can include here:

"These are your champions?" the man asked. "I don't like it."

The woman replied, "it is as I have foreseen. All will hang on these three. These three and one other. But that one I cannot see clearly, I only know that they will know this trio and -"

"What?" the minotaur huffed.

"I can say no more," she replied, looking at (d3) SHAL-MOK. "We are not as secluded as first imagined."

The minotur sized up THEODOCIOUS, checking his gear and looking at his teeth and basically inspecting him like one might inspect a prize-winning horse. He clappped THEODOCIOUS hard on the shoulder, shouting, "I like it!"

The human male was looking at the beast in the distance. "Is this it, then? Is this the Sleeper in the Darkness?"

"No," she said, "that one lies still yet. They have not yet awoken its fell slumber. The Yellow Sign holds fast."

The Minotaur spit.

"How much time," the man asked.

"I know not," she said, "only that the Universe will be torn asunder, Madness will bleed across the world and the Sleeper in the Darkness will rise again and bring doom to Gods and Men."

"Unless," the minotaur said.

"Unless these three save the day?" the man asked?

"I only know that they will try. I cannot see beyond that. I fear the future this foretells."

"You think they'll fail?"

"I cannot see beyond it..." she said, trailing off.

"Fuck off," the minotaur said, "you see that big bitch over there?" They all looked at the Yuugulugnor. "I bet the whole of Long Hall and the Feasting Horns that my boys here will lay that fucker down."

"I'm no fan of gambling," the man said, sizing the heroes up, "and I'll not wager on the fate of creation."

"Coward."

"As goes the battle, so goes the war then," the woman said sadly.

The minotaur laid his hand on THEODOCIOUS's shoulder and said, "fight well boy. No pressure." He turned to the man and said, "do it."

Pelor raised his hand and motioned. The sun began to continue it's track across the sky. The trio was gone and the monster was charging. The heroes all received MEUHEUHAH'S STORM BLESSING (if an enemy forces movement on the character, at the end of that movement the character can shift 1 as a free action. As an encounter power, the character can fly 9 squares).

The heroes defeated the Yuugulugnor and that was the end of that session.

* * *

Tonight's session started with SHAL-MOK preserving the body of the Yuugulugnor and transporting it to his Temple for later study. They then started focusing on saving the city. I have no explanation for these priorities; it just played out that way.

This was an extended series of Skill Challenges - putting out fires, killing any leftover Squidmites, rescuing the wounded and stopping looters. They ended up saving the day (though 30-40% of the city was in ruins and the Lord Warden was killed).

SHAL-MOK raised the Lord Warden (almost completely derailing my campaign, btw) and that helped set the ball rolling on the restructuring of the government (over half the Town Council was killed) and rebuilding the town and looking after displaced residents. That left the gaping hole in the sky (actually the Far Realm "colliding" with the Material Plane), and the Yellow Sons for the heroes to deal with (ISHATHAR really hates those guys).

Luckily enough, the closest library just happened to be in the Yellow Scion's tower (which used to be the Mage Guild before the war). SHAL-MOK and THEODOCIOUS both possessed Hats of Disguise, and so dressed as Sons in Yellow and bluffed their way into the Tower. ISHATHAR decided to try the Diplomatic route afterward.

SHAL-MOK and THEODOCIOUS easily made their way into the Tower, which was much bigger on the inside than outside. They discovered a central room on the ground floor with a bizarre crystalline structure surrounded by four iron and stone thrones. SHAL-MOK thought the thrones reminded him of Spelljamming Helms. They also discovered a ton of maps, for different worlds and different planes. I can post the tower maps once they've finished exploring them.

With further exploration they found a hallway that seemed to go on forever, A stairwell that goes up and down just as far, and what appeared to be Denomolus's desk (Denomolus is the leader of the Yellow Sons).

Meanwhile (jumping back and forth between the two parts of the split-up party), ISHATHAR "diplomacied" his way inside and the players pretty quickly realized he wasn't in the same tower. The Githyanki was shown the Library where he decided to get on with his research (the other two were in disguise, he figured they'd approach him); but after a couple hours, he came to the conclusion that all the relevant information had been removed from this library.

The heroes left their respective towers (because it was time to call it a night).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Writing Fairy

(This is old as dirt, and is here as much for me than anyone else. I don't know who to credit for the writing. Love it.)

Here’s a fun question to ponder. What do The Stand, The Hobbit and A Christmas Carol all have in common? The answer is simple. Too simple. Irritatingly simple.

A few years ago I decided to write a novel. I had characters all outlined and plot points galore. I had my settings down pat and a nice storyline that would illuminate the main character’s journey into a self-activated person, hopefully sending a touch of inspiration my reader’s way when they turned the last page of my novel. I had a large amount of notes in an even larger amount of notebooks. I was a writer. Right? Wrong. I wasn’t a writer yet because I was still enchanted by the Writing Fairy.

You know what the Writing Fairy looks like. She is that magical creature that will take the dialogue running through your head and place it onto the page. She is the person that will fill in those little blanks that don’t seem worth worrying about while you’re in the brainstorming stage. She is the mythical beast that will take all of your imagination and creativity and turn them into a book for you. The Writing Fairy sits on your shoulder every time you pace up and down your room thinking up great new ideas for where your characters are heading and convinces you that you are on your way to being an established author. The Writing Fairy’s touch is the only thing you are waiting for before you begin to actually sit down and pound out the pages of your manuscript. Yes, as soon as the Writing Fairy says that it is time, you will begin to write in earnest. I have news for you. The Writing Fairy is none other than you because you are the only person who can do these things for you. And the moment you are waiting for? I have some news concerning that, too. That moment either comes right here right now, or it never comes at all.

Am I saying that brainstorming about characters and muddling over speeches is a waste of time? I most certainly am not. What I’m saying is that you reach a certain point where your outline doesn’t need to be refined any more, where it’s time to put it onto the page and nail it down in a more concrete sense. The Writing Fairy will make you hesitate to do this, promising you that thinking really hard is writing. She’ll tell you that you aren’t ready to put anything down on the page yet, or you’re not ready to go on with the next scene because everything just doesn’t seem right. Don’t believe her, she’s deceiving you. I’d like to say that she is flat out lying, but she’s not.

Things aren’t going to seem right when they first start to appear on the page. This is what seems so contradictory about the writing process. Your dreams and aspirations seem to shrink down once you actually put them into writing. Being creative seems harder and harder as more and more words get put down. Don’t worry though; your dreams are big enough. Acknowledging that your finished piece is not going to live up to the sparkling gem you have inside your head is something that every artist goes through…it could be the reason why so many of us seem a little bit crazy. Pick any piece of art. Now, as great as that finished product seems to you, there is not a single book, painting, opera, movie, whatever, that came out exactly the way its creator intended it. That is a very large part of the creative process: surrendering to its limitations. And accepting this fact goes a long way towards chaining down that Writing Fairy and actually producing some work. Don’t listen to her siren song. Don’t think that it should feel one hundred percent right the first time. It won’t. That’s what the rewriting process is all about. Believe me writing is truly in the rewriting. Even Kerouac rewrote his stuff. However, in order to start the rewriting process you need a hard first draft to pick over and toy with. You need something concrete to look at and see which scenes fit and which don’t. You’ll find that a lot of your brainstorming gets thrown out the window. This isn’t a stifling of your creativity, is channeling your creativity into your selection process. And it doesn’t matter how horrible and off the mark your first draft seems to be turning out, you’ll polish all of that out later. But you need that first draft to really start things off, and it will never get finished if you continue to believe the Writing Fairy’s misleading comments.

Take another look at the opening question of this article again. Any closer to an answer?
I have more bad news about the Writing Fairy. Simply sitting down in front of your keyboard and starting your novel cannot vanquish her forever. She’ll be back. She always comes back. Here and there she offers a much-needed break and a much-needed step back from your work to rethink things. More often than not, though, she’ll pop up as you write more and more detailed character sketches, or get sucked into researching something for hours and hours and days and days. She is very good at convincing you that more outside work is needed and that you don’t need to sit down at your keyboard quite yet. She must be stopped. When you really hit a roadblock, you’ll know. If you just need to sort some things out that does not qualify a three-week break from your manuscript. That’s the Writing Fairy singing her sweet song. You need to do more then just sit down and start in order to silence the Writing Fairy. You need a schedule. “But how can you turn your writing on and off like that? How can you force yourself to write if you aren’t feeling it?” I imagine that some of this is flowing through your head right now. The answer is that you can. It’s that easy. I’m not saying that you’re going to sit down and write Nobel Prize winning page after Nobel Prize winning page. But you must keep writing. Keep fleshing out your story and your scenes. Keep plowing through with your writing when you say your going to even though it doesn’t seem to be very good. You’re not going to submit it as it is anyway. The ending of my novel changed about three hundred times in the course of writing it. What’s more, I never would have reached the ending if I had continued to go over and over my first twenty pages wanting them to be perfect. It’s really silly when you think about it. You don’t have an entire book yet, how can you make sure the opening is perfect if you don’t know where it’s supposed to lead the reader? You don’t really know your characters yet, how can you expect them to be just right? Believe me, it is better to write it horribly wrong and then fix it than to never write it in the first place. Keep plugging away, keep going, keep heading towards that ending that doesn’t seem to fit and that you don’t really even like. Carve a few hours out of each day and just type away at the keyboard. You can always make a scene longer. You can always take out some dialogue. You can always change a character or a point of view. You can really do anything you want to, which is why it’s easy to get bogged down in the beginning. Keep in mind that while you can always change it, you have to write it first.

Now, do you want to know the Writing Fairy’s major-super-bonus-end-all-be-all secret? Here it is. Keep it quiet. Put it in the bag somewhere next to the cat or under your hat if you prefer. Here is my secret. You are a writer. Right now. With only what you have in your head as it is. You don’t need anything else. You are a writer. You just need to keep writing. Don’t let the Writing Fairy tell you that you aren’t. That you need something more, that you’re pretending to be something you’re not. Hemmingway wasn’t Hemmingway when he started. He was just a guy names Ernest who sat down at his typewriter. Believe me. You are a writer. You are a writer. You are a writer. And no, you don’t have to repeat that while clicking your heels three times. You don’t have to do anything but write. And that’s the Writing Fairy’s horrible little secret. I stumbled upon the moment I stopped waiting for her to show me a sign that the time was right to actually start typing and just went ahead and did it. Now is the right time; now or never.

So let’s go back to the question at the beginning of this article. Any ideas on what those three books have in common? They’re all in English? Okay, I’ll add Les Miserables to the list. They’re all from the last few centuries? Okay, let’s throw The Iliad on there. Give up? What those books have in common, what every book you read has in common, is that it was written. Simple isn’t it? I told you it was. That is the only difference between what is in your head and any book you have ever picked up. All the books you see every day were actually written. Someone sat down and wrote them out. That it. That’s the secret. That’s what the Writing Fairy is hiding from you. You’re ready to write your book. You just have to sit down and do it. I said that the secret was simple…I also called it horrifyingly so at the beginning of this article. Why is it horrifying? Because, as I’ve mentioned, the Writing Fairy is you. She makes it seem like she’s someone else. Someone or something you’re waiting for before you begin. But that someone or something doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is the fears she creates inside of your head. And that means that the person telling you to wait is you. The person holding you back is you. The person hesitating to write is you. And the only person who can make you ignore all of this and just start writing…you guessed it…is you. So come on, stop reading this, open up a new document, start clicking away at those keys, don’t be afraid, just trust me on this one…you’re a writer.
EAVB_FFDRGIEWJY

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Art Thursday: Everybody Draw Muhammad.


I wanted to talk about this.

First of all, I think he turned out looking more like a 2nd Edition Gnome than the Prophet of Islam. Secondly - I have no idea if the translations of "just a man" are accurate - I used Google Translate and checked 'em against any other I could find. I left some languages out just because I don't have font support on my laptop. The top bit in yellow says, "there is no god and Muhammad was just a man." I don't think I'm happy with that part.

Now I want to say something about why I drew this image, and about my problems with the whole "Everybody Draw Muhammad" thing.

I joined up because I stumbled upon the "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" poster and searched around a bit for the story. Then the news outlets picked it up and I went ahead and joined the Facebook group (well, one of them, anyway).

I thought long and hard about what I was going to draw (which is ironic, since I just drew him sitting there). At first I was going to draw Muhammad in some parody of an iconic American image like American Gothic (with Aisha) or one of Warhol's or Rockwell's works. Then I changed my mind and I was going to draw something about the hero of a major world religion having had sexual relations with a six year old.

I opted out of that one, because it turned me off drawing. I was going to make some kind of political statement, but let's be honest, I'm about as political as a rubber fish. I was going to copy the "Hope" or "Change" Obama Image - but decided that could be construed the wrong way, and probably was going to get done to death anyway.

I ended up just drawing him, since that seems to be what gets people in a fuss anyway; shit, Parker & Stone only drew a bear costume and said it was him.

"Fuck it," I said and looked around the Facebook pages and I was kind of disgusted.

I know that all I'm looking at is Anonymous (even though it's not), but there were so many lines crossed today. I'm not sure I'm happy about more than one of them. But I'm especially disturbed by the presence of Anonymous in the same social network as my family and friends.

Yeah, yeah, sure. I bet quite a few of my family and friends are Anonymous (and if you don't know what I mean by that - I'm referring to the message and image boards, and any forum really, that allows contribution without identification. Usually these places are filled with the most disgusting and vile filth that you have to wade through to get to the gold you're looking for, be it comedy or porn or what-have-you).

But I didn't understand the necessity of drawing Muhammad fucking a pig (or a goat or a sheep or a horse or a missile[wtf?]). I didn't think it was necessary to harp on the whole pedophile thing. They know he was a pedophile, they like him that way. It's fucked up, but all you really had to do was draw the prophet. If you're going to get your fatwa just by drawing the man eating an ice cream cone.

Holy Shit! I should have drawn Muhammad eating a damn ice cream cone!!!

Damnit!

aRGHHH

Okay, I'm done. I just thought too many people took a look at "oh here, we're sticking it to the Muslims," and shouted for joy because they thought it was open season to say (draw) anything they wanted to draw of Islam's icon (I'm loving that word today for some reason). It just rubs me the wrong way.

I guess, if you look at it right, I'm being hypocritical. They see any depiction of their prophet as blasphemous and evil, which is what I did. Drawing the man in compromising positions is meant to draw out "even more anger than angry enough to kill you." Which I don't get.

Do you suppose this was a contest to see who could actually get killed over it?

I just wanted to protest the response to South Park (and other cartoonists), and maybe strike a blow for free speech. I knew it was going to piss some people off, but I didn't want to do any more than that.

I think all religions end up being an overall force for evil and wickedness in the world, but that doesn't mean we have to treat those who believe in them now like trash. Nobody really deserves any respect, but maybe we ought to give everyone a little anyway.

I'm not sorry for my participation in the event. It was challenging and kind of fun (and yeah, a little bit "fuckyou" to the man (I'm looking at you Comedy Central, you fucking cowards); but I doubt I would do it again. It was too hard wading through all the filth to find the good ones.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Art Thursday: Harry Potter & the Methods of Rationality Chapter One

This isn't a drawing. Which is kind of the point of New Art Thursday, but I really wanted to do this, so here it is.


HARRY POTTER & THE METHODS OF RATIONALITY
Chapter One: A Day of Very Low Probability

Written by Less Wrong. Harry Potter et al, belongs to J.K. Rowling. The Methods of Rationality belong to no one.

Let me know what you think. Not just about the story, but about my voice, tips for recording, any of it. I'm curious.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Free Fiction Friday: The General's Assassin

“I don't care about your thrice-damned vow!” I believe the crying elf's name was Malin. “Pick up the sword,” he said. The tip of his rapier quivered against the old man's throat, threatening to draw blood.

Daskegandé didn't move toward the thin elven long-blade on the ground beside him. “I'll not fight you,” he said, “not over this or anything else.”

Malin scowled and flicked his wrist. His blade nicked the priest's jaw, drawing blood and adding a fresh scar to his already battle-worn face. The human didn't flinch. “Fight me,” Malin screamed.

“I will not do it.” The old man's voice was as calm and centered as when I'd known him all those years ago in Kairlown. Word had spread - no more than a stupid rumor, really - that the General had returned from the grave a broken and weakened man. I hadn't believed it. Superstition. The end of a legend being made out of the deeds of my late commander, but here he stood. Even with that poor elf's blade at his throat, there was strength in his voice. Power.

Malin was a dead man and didn't even know it. “I will kill you,” he said, but his voice cracked. He'd come to the temple looking for the Butcher of Kairlown, a monster - a mass murderer or a tyrant. Daskegandé had done naught but good in the years since he came here.

He carries the weight of the past on those broad shoulders - it bears him down. But in the time I've been here, watching him, I have seen him smile easier than he ever did in Laerian's company. He does the temple's work with the same passion and conviction he once used to command armies. The other priests look to him for direction - they follow him the same way the Luxlucitus did.

If not for his loyalty to Laerian, he might've made himself King at Three Cities, and I suspect he could rule here if not for his loyalty to Pelor.

Malin's movement snaps me back into the moment. The elf is fast. Luckily enough, I'm ready. My dagger pierces his hand and sends that fancy rapier of his to the ground before he can run it through the General's neck. The tainted black metal, I know, is already loosing its poison into his blood.

The elf screams out and everyone but the General jumps when I stretch myself out through the edges of the Feywild and teleport behind him. My blades are thirsty for blood.

“Leave him be, Callien,” the General says, still calm - even after this bastard made a play for his life. “You master did not send you to kill this refugee.”

Malin weeps at our feet, clutching his arm. Rather than heal him, himself, Daskegandé (ever the skillful diplomat) calls his brothers to tend the wounds. The look on the elf's face says that this is not over between them, but just beneath that, I can read the relief at not having to refuse the General's aid. Daskegandé is right though; this is none of my affair.

“How long have you known I was here,” I ask.

“I first noticed something was amiss a tenday ago,” my old commander ushers me toward the Morning Grotto. “I didn't know it was you until three days ago, when I smelled that perfumed jasmine you insist on oiling your hair with.”

“When you took tea with that portly dragon-man from the Village?”

“Yes.”

“I moved too close. I thought the teas would mask my scent.” I smiled, but his expression was grave.

“Callien,” he said once we were out of earshot from the Brothers tending his would-be assassin, “why are you here?” It wasn't really a question.

“There is a whispered rumor that the Old Woman did not die below the Western Wall at Narvellan, but was seen leaving the battlefield wearing the colors of the Three Cities.” I leaned against a Morningberry Tree, trying to appear casual and not at all like I was keeping my hands near the two daggers I wore under my arms. I once watched General Daskegandé kill a man in a barfight with no more than his fists. I do not shake, though, and that is a credit to my training. “No one believes it,” I said, “more of a jest than a threat. But you don't know how paranoid Laerian has become.

“Since he took the Boy-King's Throne, he jumps at every peep from the Blacknives. At first, he laughed too. The thought of the Weeping Cyclops crying so hard he'd lost his armor and lost his way. But then the whispering started. He murmured about your missing body. It grew worse and then worse still until he sent me to find and kill you.

“He's convinced you're building an army to take his crown.”

“That's ridiculous,” Mohan said. Talking to him like this, not stalking him, he was the General again. My friend. He said, “even when I carried the sword in Laerian's service, I never had designs on Thrones or Crowns. Those were his ambitions.”

“I remember,” I said. “Laerian however, frets on his throne, figiting at every threat he imagines and he remembers that you were a leader of men. A damn fine one, at that.”

Mohan shook his head, but I said, “The Shadow Cloaks followed you, not him. The regular army looked to you, not him. The Solis keeps Laerian's Order now, but back then, you went were he led you and so Luxlucitus did too. They appeared to be his men because you were.”

I didn't finish. He didn't want to know that the Blacknives were already looking for a replacement for the Blood King. And he might have followed me if I led him back to Narvellan. He'd be miserable, but damn his eye, he'd feel responsible.

“And what now,” he said, his shoulders stiffening. “Are you Laerian's man?” He wanted to know if I was going to kill him.

“No,” I said. “I told the king you were dead and this was a fool's errand. I'll return to Three Cities in a month or so and tell him again.

“I don't know what led you from Luxlucitus to... to this; but even if you're a viable threat to Laerian, you're no danger to him.”

The cleric finally smiled. “You're welcome to remain at the temple if you like, spend your month doing good in the name of the Sun Father.”

“I think I'm looking for something more along the lines of free-flowing wine and a bevy of loose women.”

Now he laughed. It made me feel good. I don't know if I ever heard him do that before. “Stay,” he said, “you can bed down in one of the mission suites. There's a good-sized village called Yllian, just over the southern hill. It's a trade route, and there's a nice tavern, and more than a few farmer's daughters looking for a charismatic Eladrin to sweep them off their feet.”

I've never been one to turn down the needs of a lonely farmer's daughter, so I took him up on his offer. I spent my days doing Pelor's work - tending crops and helping to build a shelter for the poor - all alongside the man I once knew as the most ruthless military mind alive. At nights I made myself known to the people of Yllian. It was a good ten-day. It took me that long to convince the cleric to join me for a drink.

We rode for town just after Prayers at Dusk.

“Something's wrong,” he said, just before we crested the big hill. At the base of the hill, where Merigan's Farm should have been, there was only a blasted smudge and the last embers of the fire that had left it.

Mohan's steed broke into a full gallop. I spurred my own horse to follow, but there was no need to rush. The buildings were gone, the family all dead.

The big priest was off his mount before it stopped. He strode toward the first of the charred corpses. By the size of it, I'd guess it was the heavyset woman - Merigan's wife. I never learned her name. She made a very good Morningberry tea.

He knelt beside her remains, but he was looking around us - at the ground. “What do you make of it,” he asked. It was my General speaking now, not the priest I'd come here to drink with; made my hackles stand up and take notice. I pushed it down and looked around.

“Kobolds,” I guessed. “There's none dead but the humans, but if I had to bet on it, I'd say these were kobold tracks. That or huge biting lizards, and biting lizards don't set fires.”

“They live in low caves to the south of here,” Mohan said, standing and dusting the soot off his hands. Somehow, his white robe was still clean. “They're left alone, because they do no harm. I guess they forgot that.”

He produced a small pouch from beneath his robes and set about a bit of priestly magic. A rabbit appeared from the low brush at the edge of the farm and made its way slowly toward us. Mohan spoke to it, and clapped his hands. The rabbit darted off in the direction of the Temple.

“I've sent for priests to look after the bodies,” he said. “I must go to the caves and have words with the Kobold Chief. It's none of your concern, so I'll understand if you wish to continue on to the Prideful Notion.”

“My General,” I said with a mock flourish, “it would be my honor to ride with you once again into battle.”

His countenance darkened. “I do not go to fight,” he said. “Kurrtikshek and I have spoken before. I'll speak to him now and get to the bottom of this.”

I said, “because Kobolds are so well known for their even tempers and not at all excitable natures.”

“Go or stay,” he said. “I've work to do.” And he did. He mounted his horse and set off for the South without so much as a bye-your-leave.



“Mohan,” I said, following after him. Following after him again. “It seems the height of folly to approach a kobold warren without thought as to how you're going to kill them, or at least get out alive.”

“It's very simple,” he said, “we approach from the north-east. Kobolds, for all their growling and teeth gnashing, fear men. I'll announce us to the guards and have them lead us into the warren to speak to Kurrtikshek. As we go along, we watch for traps and ambushes. If things go sour, we leave. I'm here to ask questions and be answered, not slaughter kobolds.”

Maybe the old rumors did have a ring of truth to them. “You're either very sure of yourself,” I said, “or you've become addle-brained.”

“I am sure of Pelor,” he said. It did not reassure me, though as it turned out, I had nothing to fear from kobolds.



After an hour's hard ride, we came to the base of the southern hills, and a clearing in the wood. Hidden behind loose rock and a large, fallen tree, was the entrance to the kobolds' caves. I might not have seen it if not for the dead beast lying in the shadow of the tree.

“Someone's come before us,” I said.

Mohan dismounted and strode toward the corpse. “So it would seem.” He situated his holy symbols - I hadn't known he wore so many beneath his voluminous robes - and turned toward me. “The kobolds will not be so open to talk, I fear. And we may find worse than these in the caves.”

I drew my knives. “I am ready.” It felt quite uncomfortable to walk into those caves. Striding, really, not sneaking. Mohan led the way, his Faith shining forth and lighting the way for us as we ventured into the dark.

I have never been in the twisting warrens of the kobolds before, and I was quite amazed at the intricacy of their winding tunnels. They went on forever, and down into the earth. Traps lay about aplenty, as well, though most of these were sprung or disabled. Everywhere we went, we found dead kobolds and their pets.

“We're following some sort of adventuring party,” I said.

“Yes.”

“I suppose that means the kobold threat is over and we can return to the Prideful Notion and have a drink.” There was something going on here that made me nervous. I said as much to my companion in a low whisper.

“I am no less unnerved than you are,” Mohan said, his own voice dropping low to match my own. “But something compels me to go on. I have to believe it is my Faith.”

I nodded. I may not have the faith of my old compatriot, but I learned a long time ago to trust his instincts. When he started further down into the tunnels, I followed.

“Stop.” The voice was like thunder and ice. I cannot explain it any better. It came up at us from out of the cavernous darkness ahead, followed by the shimmering form of - words fail me. A giant of a man, made of thunder... and ice. With wings of the same, and armed in gold and fire.

It did not land as it descended toward us, for it had no legs - it's body trailing off into the aether. “My Lord commands,” it said, “heed this warning, Mohan Daskegandé.”

Mohan knelt before the creature, and so I did also. “I listen and obey, mighty one,” he said. He was trembling.

The magnificence of the being before us was enough to blind me, and when it spoke, it did so with words I should not have been able to comprehend. The Supernal words of creation itself. They twisted in my mind and made meaning out of chaos.

“You stand at another crossroads,” it said, “and you must make a choice.”

“What am I to do?” Mohan asked the question and I could hear his voice quavering. He was as afraid of this wonder as I, and that multiplied my own fear.

The angel - for what else could it be - moved closer, the light of it filling me with the warmth of the First Light. “You may return,” he said, “leave these caverns and go back to the gardens and duties at the Temple of Weeping Dusk. Live your life as you have these past years.

“Or you may continue down these tunnels. Within the next chamber, you will find the perpetrators of this slaughter. They are wounded and regrouping, considering retreat. Without a healer, they will die. One of their number, Nerik, is the child of those slaughtered corpses that directed you here. He seeks justice, while his companions are here for his sake, and for any valuables collected by the kobolds over the years."

"There is no choice," Mohan said, and started to walk past the angel.

It looked like the holy creature was about to smile. "This is good, Mohan Daskegandé. And I charge you thus. Travel the world of men and beasts. Look after those who would look into the lost places and shed the light of knowledge and understanding in the darkness."

The angel sheathed its fiery sword and dissipated. Even the magical light of Mohan's holy symbol could not fight the darkness left in its passing.

After our eyes adjusted, we went forward. Nerik and his men were surprised and distrustful of us at first, but warmed quickly when they realized Mohan brought the healing light of Pelor with him.

The General watched over the adventurers as we marched into the Chief's cave. I did my best to help, and we were really outmatched by the demonic forces Kurrtikshek had summoned against us. Without Mohan's aid, we would have perished to a man.

When it was done, we sat outside under the red and gold rays of morning. We were exhausted and battered. Beaten but alive. The kobolds had over-extended their reach by calling on the forces of the Abyss, and lost their leadership to the chaotic demons they sought to employ in their bid for more power. Now both threats were exterminated.

Mohan performed the funeral rites for the kobolds, and the banishing rituals to ensure the demons did not return from whatever hell we sent them to. And that was where we parted ways.

I still had duties in Three Cities. The king needed to be told that General Daskegandé was really dead, and then the Blacknives needed to find a way to oust the king.

I bid my old general, and friend, farewell, and watched as he and Nerik's band rode out toward Haesenflay. I may see him again, I do not know. But I've no interest in adventuring or noble causes. My work is for the shadows, not the Light.

I'd travel with the General again - after the Blacknives changed our mandate to seeking out a suitable replacement for the Blood King, and killing all other usurpers - but that is another tale.

New Art Thursday: Clones


These are the three player characters (and their Jedi companion) from my d6 Star Wars game. I'll need to add color to bring all the separate pieces together, I think - I made the image so that it could be broken apart for use on my Obsidian Portal campaign wiki. In a few days, you'll probably be able to see the finished product(s) there.

Ninety Days 04-07: Ketchup


I got my ass handed to me by a tiny little pissant kidney stone. It stopped my posting for a few days. I'm better now. Here's the catch-up video. There's really no transcript necessary. I wasn't quite feeling up to recording myself. You love it.

This post makes reference to New Art Thursday (and Clones), as well as Free Fiction Friday (and The General's Assassin). So I've linked to them from here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ninety Days Intermission: Who kicked me in the nuts!?!

I got sidelined by a slight case of being unable to do anything other than whine about my kidney stones.

I had New Art Thursday just about ready to go, and only need a rewrite on Today's free fiction. Will knock out both of them (and the accompanying video) tonight after work - provided I'm feeling up to it. This is not an easy thing to deal with.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mittwoch 01 - Was ich nicht weiß

Es tut mir leid, mein Deutsche ist shlecht.

Video Transcript:
Guten Morgen, YouTube.

Mein Name ist David, und dieses ist deutscher Mittwoch.

Ich verstehe ein bisschen Deutsch, aber Ich kann nicht es sehr güd sprechen.

Ich möchte lernen besser, und Ich werde meine Fortschritte hier zu teilen.

Mittwochs.

Ich bin Lernen mit Michel Thomas Basic German und Rosetta Stone; aber Ich auch komme aus Frankfurt am Main. Ich sprach Deutsch als Junge.

Das ist alles.

Ich weiß es nicht mehr.

Wenn du kannst mich mit meinem deutschen Hilfe, bitte tun.

Auf Wiedersehen. Bis nächste Woche.

Gerne fünften Mai! Trinken Sie viel "Cervesa"!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ninety Days 02 (eDave - Internet Marketing for Flakes)



I sure hope this video is better. I feel like I did a better job. No Valium or whatever the hell I seemed to be on yesterday. Unfortunately, this video only serves as a kind of placeholder. I haven't got much to say about this topic yet, because I haven't done anything about it, yet. I hope I managed to make it at least somewhat enjoyable, anyway. Later.

Video Transcript:
Dave here, hi.

First of all: Sorry, to anybody who forced themselves to sit through that first video. If I had any idea that I was gonna be that boring, I would've strangled myself with the umbilical chord.

But since I didn't, I want to talk to you about "how to start internet marketing if you're a flake."

Originally, I was going to title this video "how to start internet marketing if you're partner's a flake," because I was supposed to pick up some appraisals on Tuesday, so that I could post the video about dealing with those today. Only today is Tuesday. All day yesterday, I thought my partner flaked on me, and I'm a moron.

Oh well. So now what?

I-I originally thought I was going to make these videos all elaborate, with picture-in-picture and all kinds of funny little things, up here, down here; and I decided that I can't do that, because that's time consuming.

And, I have a whole lot of stuff to do every day right now, so I don't have time to spend three hours - four hours making a video for YouTube.

What I'm doing today, eDave, is about me going into the jewelry business. Uh...

I'm picking up some appraisals today, so I can't tell you anything about what I'm doing with those, but - basically - what we're doing is, in order to come up with the capital to finance this operation, we are using eBay.

We're selling our products first, through the auction, on eBay to try to generate the revenue (reduntant much?). Now, I don't know jack-squat about eBay, but I have friends with some experience, and they're going to coach me through it, I hope (or at least give me some advice).

I have to get a credit card, because I don't have one (go figure). Anyone out there want to send me one, I could use one. I need to max one out for my movie anyway.

Anyway.

My goal this week is to get a credit card, if that's what I need to get a PayPal account. Get a PayPal account, get my appraisals, get some pictures. Post some stuff and sell it - make some money for the website.

That's about it. This is just an introduction to what I'm trying to do, and uh...

In order to go along with the title of the video though -

[damnit.]

Internet Marketing for the Complete Flake
Step 1: Make a goal. Write it down. What are you going to do?

Now that you know your big, over-all arching goal (No. I don't know what "over-all arching goal" means) - for instance, me? I'm going to create an eBusiness; but I'm a flake. I forget to do things. I drop the ball. I stop doing things. I get destract-

Hey, what the hell is that? It's a comic book.

No. Do the business, do the job, get it done. If you get distracted, be hard on yourself. Kick your own ass, make yourself do the work. That's pretty much it.

I think that's it (Thanks for watching).

Now I've got a lot of writing, reading, eating, studying, drawing, practicing, and exercising to do. So, that's it. See ya' later. Bye.

One more thing. Any of you actual internet marketing guys who got sucked into watching this video; if you want to give me some advice, I'd appreciate it. Leave your comments below. Thanks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ninety Days 01 (Intro)

This video is horrible. Horrible quality, horrible pacing, horrible plot, and just bad direction overall. I'm so sorry. I will try to do better (I promise). Transcript at the end of this post.

Schedule of Video/Blog Posts:
  • Monday: Thoughts & Things / My Guitar Can't Weep
  • Tuesday: eDave (internet commerce)
  • Wednesday: Mittwoch (meine deutsche Sprache Fortschritt)
  • Thursday: New Art Thursday / How to get a job in comics.
  • Friday: Free Fiction Friday / Novel Writing for Lazy Bums
  • Saturday: X Paper Cranes / Motorcycle Madness!
  • Sunday: Movie Updates



Video Transcript:

Hi everybody. Dave [here].
As I get closer and closer to 40 - I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there - I'm realizing that I'm on the wrong path.
Everything in my life points to a total disatisfaction with where I am, and for the last ten years or so, all I've done is whine about it, and wallow in it.
Yesterday, I was cleaning my bathroom, and it was overdue. I mean, it was disgusting, and something in me broke, and I went to clean the bathroom.
I-I was in there for awhile, scrubbing away. All of the sudden, I wasn't thinking about what I was scrubbing, I wasn't thinking about what I had to do next, I wasn't thinking about my life, I wasn't thinking about the girl, I wasn't thinking about anything. I wasn't thinking about the quivering mess. I just was. Am.
I came out of it with this... I don't know what the word is (epiphany?). I came out of it with this certainty that I'm not doing right by myself. I'm wasting my life. So I decided that in the course of the next 90 days, I'm going to take a handful of goals, and I'm going to accomplish them.
And I'm going to videotape that, because, 1) I need to be accountable to somebody, and I have friends (and I trust them), but having the screen and the camera there, in between us, makes it easier for me to step up to this. 2) I'm going to do a lot - a lot - in three months, and maybe when I'm done, someone will want to know how I did it. This is a record.
So, so what I'm going to do.
In the ten years or more that I've been goalsetting, I've been sitting on my ass, in my filth, pretending that I was going to do something more - and not doing it. I made elaborate plans, and I never did - I didn't follow through with hardly anything.
So I took all took all of those goals, all of these plans, all of these pages and pages and pages of notes and I condensed it down to just 10 things.
Ten things that I'm going to accomplish in the next 90 days.

  1. The first is, I'm going to lose 30 pounds.
  2. I'm going to learn to play the guitar... better (I'm not that good).
  3. I'm going to start a web business.
  4. Ich werde deutscher Spreche lernen.
  5. I'm going to build a portfolio, and I'm going to get a job penciling comics.
  6. And I'm going to write a novel.
  7. I'm going to fold 1,000 paper cranes. Because.
  8. I'm going to buy a motorcycle.
  9. I'm going to create a good movie with my friends.
  10. And I'm going to go raw vegan. I was much healthier, and I felt better when I was raw, when I was vegan.

I'm going to post again tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that - for 90 days. And after that, I don't know what I'm going to do.
There's a link to my blog, below. And on that blog, you'll find a transcript of this video, and a schedule of when I'm going to post about which of these goals.
That way, if you're interested at all, you can follow me.
I think that's it.
Thanks for watching.
Music: Julandrew "Crazy As" via Jamendo.com (viva Creative Commons)
the Game.

Friday, April 30, 2010

New Art Thursday: Tesseract

(A geometric figure I don't completely understand).

This is only my 5th or 6th serious attempt (that blonde chick, myself, that scene girl at that Starbucks that one time, me again, that dancer girl, that actress... yeah 6th) to draw a "real" person; and it's the first time I tried to draw someone who exists in my world without resorting to recreating an existing image of her.

I should have stuck to what I know. As an image I'm happy with a lot of things about this drawing. I still don't know squat about detailed highlighting, but my use of color feels stronger (is it?). I am fucking in love with that pant's leg. I completed this image (start to finish, including rough's, pencils, inks & color) in under 6 hours - so I'm getting quicker.

It fails to do the thing it was meant to though. If it wasn't already Friday, I'd have scrapped the whole thing and started over from scratch.

Looks like I've got some learning to do.

It feels to me like when a bad (no - not "bad" - a not quite as good as you're used to) artist takes over a comic title you love to read. If you were reading this comic book and saw her here, you would probably know who she was - there are enough "cheats" thrown in to give that away; new readers are never going to know how much better she looked when [insert favorite artist here] was drawing her, though. I just wish I was better.

Maybe she was right. Maybe it just wasn't my day, and I'm being too hard on myself. Hope so.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

60 Paper Cranes

This week is a bust.

So is this post. I have no inspiration.

I set out to write this long, boring diatribe about how disappointed I was in my handling of the time given me these past few days (decades). Then I remembered that I've done that already, so I'm not going to subject you to that bullshit again.

Monday was my 37th birthday. Aside from a nice dinner with the family and a few drinks with friends, however, it just seemed like Monday.

I got the pull-up bar I wanted for my legs & back routine. Pokémon: SoulSilver for my DS. A bag of Gummy Bears, I'm ashamed to say I ate (Gummy Bears contain Gelatin, which is pretty much just powdered bone slime). I got twenty bucks.

It's more than I deserved, and I'm really happy to have the people in my life that I do.

I found out that there really is a way for me to attain the previously unattainable goal of owning a motorcycle by year's end. I am completely blown away that - after writing the goal down (with no knowledge of how it might happen), a pathway opened up. I don't want to get all new-agey and weird, but that's fucking amazing. Even if it doesn't work out.

I didn't write anything this week.

That's not true. I wrote the notes of a story I thought I wanted to write about young Jesus. But it's been done, and - pretty much - after Last Temptation, you don't need another Jesus story. I also wrote about 10,000 words of what amounts to choose-your-own-adventure fanfic, set in the Firefly universe. Now that I'm not caught up in the whirlwind of "the technology makes it possible so it must be amazing," it feels pretty stupid.

I doubt I made anyone's life better this week. I was superfluous.

Like Donald Kaufman, I'm learning that "you are what you love, not what loves you." That's pretty great. I wish I'd learned it thirty years ago. I have love in me again. I'm so amazed by the possibility of that, I just don't know how to react to it.

It's got me rudderless, though - blowing about every which way. I find myself sitting in the dark flickering light of the screen, late at night, wondering what direction my life will take now. Where am I supposed to go? Do? Sometimes wondering what direction my life should have taken. But the past is just the ripples of now.

I want more. I guess that about sums it up.
98%

Free Online Dating from JustSayHi

88% Geek