Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 - A Pretty Good Year

Looking back over the last 12 months, I've had a pretty busy year. But it's been a good year. I've had some personal ups and down but I've also accomplished a good deal. I'm going to share them now not because I necessary think you care, but because it makes me feel good to know that I've accomplished some stuff.

1. First and most importantly, I made it through another twelve months without seriously injuring my two-year old son, either physically or emotionally (I hope). He really seems to like me so I think I'm doing okay.

2. Wrote/Created/Hacked Two Games - Splatter-Elf and Made to Suffer. In the case of Splatter-Elf (based on the writings of Philip Overby) I actually completely re-wrote the rules 3 times, so it's almost as if I've made four games. You can read all about it on Rule of the Dice - where I've been writing pretty regularly, too, another positive I suppose.

3. I've received a combined 75,000 hits+ on my blog posts and articles (most of those were at Rule of the Dice). That ain't half bad, right?

4. Dredged up, edited and re-worked my novel Ten Thousand Days. It's pretty much ready to publish, but I've only held off for very specific reasons that I will share with you when it comes out hopefully early in the New Year.

5. Reconnected with old friends and made some new ones, and played RPGs more regularly than I have in years thanks to Roll20, Google Hangouts and Skype.

6. Finally got "officially" promoted at work. I'm doing basically the same job and making the same money, but I now have the paperwork that proves it. :-/

7. Jogged over 500 total kilometers in 100 workouts, which may not sound like much to some of you and is almost exactly the same as last year, but considering how busy I was this year I'm glad my numbers didn't go down. And considering that was all done in sub-30 minute blocks on my lunch break, I think that's pretty good.

8. Completed a course in Database Management and am working on a course in Java Programming. Full disclosure: I'm WAY behind on the Java course - I should probably be done by now - but I had to get a couple of months extension.

9. "Wrote" and "Illustrated" my first children's book for my son. The story is silly and the art is crude, but hey, he likes it.

10. And oh yeah, we made another baby. She's due in March!

So that was me. What did YOU do this year?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

777 Challenge

So I happened to see a post about the "777 Challenge" on Loni Townsend's blog. The idea is to take a work-in-progress, go to the 7th page, scroll down 7 lines and then share the next 7 lines or so.
Here's my contribution:
* * *
“You’re a mercenary, for foul or fair, someone who fights and kills for coin.”

            Flood was mildly amused, though she did her best not to let her sick sense of humour show.  The old man’s words were partly true—though she had certainly fought and killed for money more than once, it was usually to take the money from the person she was fighting.  She had never taken money from a third party to kill someone.  That would have made her assassin, and she had never had the knack for poisons needed to succeed in that particular field. She had made it through less than a week at the Shadow Guild before accidentally exposing herself to an alchemically-modified wyvern poison that had cause all of her hair fall out and gave her bloody, uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting for a month.
* * *
The next step would be to tag other folks in my writer's circle, but I am painfully out-of-touch with anyone in that group. So yeah, if you read this and you have something to share, feel free.  :-/

Monday, December 8, 2014

Made to Suffer, Season 1 Episode 4

The following is a dramatization of the closing moments of our role-playing game session from this past Friday night. I didn't even really "dramatize" it very much - it pretty much happens exactly as you see here. I just had to record it for posterity because it was perhaps the most perfect few minutes of gaming I've experienced in a long time. 

If it reads like the closing moments of an episode of The Walking Dead, that's just about right. The whole session felt an episode of the show. Moving along slowly, in-group bickering punctuated by a few flurried moments of zombie encounters... all leading to a shocking climax out of left field.

Without living with these characters in their world for a few weeks I don't know if it will have the same impact, but those of us who were there certainly enjoyed it.

* * *

A chill icy wind blew in across the Liberty River. Winter was coming, and when the snow hit an already shitty life was going to get a whole lot worse.

Three men trudged across the elevated tracks of the blue line between Addison and Division stations. Below them a few zombies shambled aimlessly through the deserted streets. One looked up and a low, strangled moan escaped from its bloody rotting lips. A second and third followed the first's blind gaze, but the shuffling dead were too stupid to figure out how to get to their elevated prey and did nothing but point and groan uselessly.

The three men were the last remaining survivors of a much larger group - almost 20 at one point - who had struck out two days ago in a desperate attempt to escape the city. They had been holed up in a subway station for nearly two weeks, until the food ran out and they had no choice but to come up to the surface. The world above had changed drastically. The city was overrun by the mindless, flesh-eating risen dead, and though there were supplies and food to be had they were often too dangerous to retrieve. Just crossing the street was taking your life into your hands. They picked up a few more stragglers along the way, but many more died, and soon only three brave, tired souls were left to try and cross the bridge across the Liberty River into the figurative world of Freedom.

The oldest, a man they knew only as Church, took up the rear. A surprisingly fit and tough vet who was old enough to have fought in Vietnam, he had gotten banged up bad during the escape and was limping heavily. His weathered face was dark with the shadows of what he had witnessed, and his eyes were heavy with loss. Somehow he had survived the last two weeks on the streets alone, but his knowledge of the area had proven invaluable at finding a route to safety. The other two survivors owed Church their lives.

The youngest, walking just ahead of Church, would not have been described as a "man" just a month ago but had grown up fast in the last few weeks. Noah was not quite 16 years old, but he had seen and experienced things getting out of the city far beyond his years. He was quick and wiry and good at getting into and out of tight spots, but he was not handling the trauma well. He had shakes and sweats and was constantly looking over his shoulder - he stayed close to Church both for protection and because he was concerned for the old man.

Leading the pack and barely waiting for the others to catch up was Hank, who called himself "The Tank." A giant of man - over three hundred pounds - he was not quick or smart but he was tough and absolutely ruthless. Many survivors had died due to Hank's actions - and inaction - but somehow he had survived it all when better men and women had fallen. And Noah had survived by sticking close to him. The blood-caked Heckler & Koch submachine gun slung over his shoulder was a perfect symbol of his brutal determination. He had charged the original owner and wrestled it away from him, killing two bystanders in the process when the weapon went off. After running out of ammo, Hank continued to use the gun as club, beating zombies to death when he had to and running when he could, often leaving his fellow survivors behind to fend for themselves.

The broken table leg in his hand, studded with rusty nails, was also a pretty good symbol for how he got the job done.

"Wait," Church called out from the rear, his voice gruff and pained.

"We're almost to the river, old man." Hank didn't slow his pace. "We're not stopping now."

"I just wanted to thank you," Church said, which finally caused Hank pause. "When I met you I didn't know if I could trust you. And I was right, you are a bastard, but I couldn't have gotten out of here without you. So I just wanted you to know I appreciate it."

Church extended his hand to the big man.

Hank hesitated a moment, then walked straight back toward Church. A hint of a smile appeared on the old man's face - the first they had seen since they met him.

Hank raised his makeshift spiked club and smashed Church square in the face.

Noah gasped as the old man crumpled in a heap on the tracks. Hank merely turned and started walking away. "What the hell did you do that for?" the kid screamed at The Tank.

"He was bit," Hank said, without emotion. "I saw him trying to clean it in the restroom when I went to fill my water bottle. He was going to turn and come after us."

"But he... but he... he helped you!" Noah fell to the old man's side. His face was a bloody mess, the skin peeled back across his forehead. One of his eyes was destroyed, punctured by one of the club's nails.

"He was bit," Hank said again, and kept walking.

Noah watched Church's chest rise and fall slowly. A soft moan escaped his lips. "He's still alive!"

"Leave him."

"We can't leave him here! He helped us!"

Hank stopped. He half-turned back. "So finish him off."

Noah was quiet. He sat frozen with fear by old man's side, unsure of what to do. Church continued to groan.

"Goddamn it," Hank grumbled, and stormed back toward them.

Church surprised The Tank when he came at him with a knife. Whether it was from adrenaline, desperation or years of training, Church still had fight left in him despite his wounds. Rising to his knees he stabbed at Hank's ample guts, but his blade struck the bloody gun slung over The Tank's shoulder and snapped. Hank tried to swing his club but Church caught his wrist. The two men struggled for advantage a moment but Church was fighting a losing battle. Between his injuries, fighting for his knees and Hank's massive weight, the old man had little hope. He had only one chance and he had blown it. Hank put his boot on Church's chest and kicked him off, sending the old man back onto the rails.

Noah stared in petrified horror as Hank the Tank raised his club again and brought it down on Church's head. There was a sickening crack and Church moved no more.

The kid watched silently as a heavily-breathing Hank wrenched his club away, flicking spatters of blood, skull and brain matter across the tracks. He shook the weapon briskly to dislodge a particularly clingy hunk of scalp. Blood poured from the gaping hole in Church's head, dripping down through the rails and through the viaduct onto to the streets somewhere below. Hank quickly checked the dead man's pockets, finding nothing of use. He left the broken knife.

"He was bit," Hank said a final time, wiping sweat from his brow. He turned to walk away once more.

Noah continued to sit in stunned silence. He felt terribly cold.

"You coming?" Hank called a moment later, already a hundred feet away.

With nothing else to do, the kid stood up and slowly followed the big man across the river.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Not-So-Accidental Blog Tourist Hop: C.D. Gallant-King

I blame everything on Philip Overby. Except for my addiction to WWE Supercard. That's not his fault.

1. What am I currently working on?

WWE SuperCard for iPhone. It's an addictive time-sink game app that sucks away so much productivity I'm just embarrassed. Amazingly, despite the dozens of hours it's stolen from me in the past week alone, I haven't spent a cent on it yet nor do I feel inclined to. I have no idea what the point of this game is. Aren't these things supposed to try and trick you into spending money?

Seriously though, if you want to know what I SHOULD be working on, the list looks like this:

- Splatter-Elf the Role-Playing Game
- Finishing the editing on Ten Thousand Days

I was about to list 20 more projects I've started, thought about and/or fiddled with, but if I focus on those two things I think I'll get farther ahead. I have the game nearly to the point I can stop tinkering with it for a while and just play it and test it, while Ten Thousand Days has been sitting in The Closet for ages and really needs to come out. Then I can work on something else.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

If I can help it, I want my work to be as genre-anachronistic as possible. The Splatter-Elf table-top game is setup to be a pretty simple joke game, but there's a depth underneath (I hope) that you can turn it into a long-term campaign if you wanted to. Ten Thousand Days is a somewhat conventional modern/urban fantasy with a touch of humour, but everything else I've worked on is all over the place. My ideal series would be one where every book is a different style (the first is a hardboiled detective mystery, the second is a western, the third is a Vonnegutesque satire and so on) and the main character dies in Chapter 3 of Book 1.

To be fair I honestly have no idea if there is a market for this kind of contet.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because I have to. I have the stories in my head and I need to do something with them. If I was a better artist maybe I would paint. But words are all I have.

4. How does my writing process work?

Do I have a few minutes?

Is the baby asleep?

Does the lawn need to be mowed, the dishes washed, laundry folded?

Then, as long as it's not 2:00am, I can write.

I used to be able to write for hours and hours without break. I've never had writer's block. I could write 10,000 words a week easily. I once wrote a 40,000 word novella over a long weekend. I don't have that luxury of time anymore. I'm definitely on a low-swing of my writing productivity. I tinker with games and blog as a way to keep writing something every day (or almost every day, depending on if I'm in a tournament in SuperCard).

When I do write, I usually just sit and write. I don't really create outlines or plot much in advance. Like I said, the story is usually in my head, I just need to put pen to paper (well, fingers to keys) to get it out.

5. Have you participated in this type of blog hop yet? If not, consider yourself tagged!
If you decide to the blog hop, please tag me and let me know as I'd like to check it out. (Standard terms and conditions)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Geeky Game Stuff - #RPGaDay

In case you've missed it, I've been doing short daily updates over on Google+ following the #RPGaDay gimmick. So if you've always wanted to know what my first, favourite and weirdest role-playing games, etc are, follow me or circle me on Google+. All the cool kids are doing it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Drew A Map

I didn't say it was a very good map.

I've been on a major role-playing game kick the past few months, the most I've been into it in years. You can follow my adventures over at Rule of the Dice. It's been a lot of fun and I've used it to connect with some old friends as well as make new ones. I've been so into it that for the first time in I have no idea how long (fifteen years, maybe?) I actually put pencil to paper and sketched out a little map of the area in which my game is currently taking place.

Maps in role-playing games, much like fantasy fiction, are very important and exceedingly helpful. It shows where everything important is in relation to everything else, and gives you an idea of how long it takes to get from point A to point B. It can spur interesting story ideas based on how certain places react to their neighbours and environment.

A well-made map is a work of art, and can be enjoyed just for it's own sake. How many of us poured over the maps in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit? My maps have never been pretty, better described perhaps as functional at best. I'm not sure if my newest creation is even that, but at the very least it lets me orient myself in the space of my game world. If I have the time, I will go back and make it neater and prettier, but time is a luxury as elusive as those winning lottery numbers.

My original point for this rambling was that because of all the time I've been "wasting" with silly games, I haven't had the chance to get my book(s) where I wanted them to be at this point. I'm not going to get into where my priorities should be, that would be a much longer discussion that I will probably write about some other day in lieu of actually working on the book, but the short version is that it seems the damned story has slipped back into The Closet for the time being. It's at the top of the pile, and closer to the door, but still tucked away for now...

One of these days I have to pick it up on the way back from the bathroom and put it back on my desk.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review of My "Favourite" Wrestling Podcasts

I like professional wrestling. I like podcasts. Of course I'm going to put the two together for a listening entertainment smorgasbord. They're a great way to pass some time on my long bus ride to work or while going for a jog. I love to listen to interesting stories about weird and wonderful people (and trust me, there are few weirder than professional wrestlers).

There's no shortage of wrestling-related podcasts out there right now, these are just the handful that I listen to regularly. I usually don't touch anything produced by fans - everybody and their dog has opinions, and I'm not generally interested in wasting time listening to random Joe Schmo ramble about his for an hour. Not to mention the quality of the-fan produced shows usually remind me of the stuff I recorded with a tape recorder in my parent's basement when I was 10 years old.

I stick to professionally-produced podcasts by actual people who were or are in the pro wrestling business. They have the best insights, more knowledge of the industry and usually the best guests. If you're interested in checking out a show or two, here are my completely subjective reviews of five of the most popular, from best to worst. Enjoy!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Where do we go from here?

So I'm almost finished the second draft of my book. I really should have been done long ago (especially since I wrote the first draft oh, about 7 years ago) but life happens. The question of course is...

...now what?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hey Look I Found Something Else to be Afraid Of

This cute little bastard is called a belostomatidae, colloquially known as a giant water bug. I found this little guy on my front porch a few nights ago and though it's hard to tell from the picture, this "little guy" is actually over three inches long.

Those of you living in warmer climates may not be particularly surprised by seeing large bugs, but living in Canada (and growing up on the sub-arctic island of Newfoundland), I can say without hyperbole that bugs are NOT SUPPOSED TO GET THAT BIG.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Z...?

What begins with Z?
I do.
I am a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz
As you can plainly see.
-Dr. Seuss's A-B-C

I couldn't think of a good word for "z." So let's just throw darts and see what we hit...

Zabernism - Misuse of military authority; bullying. Okay, yeah, those things suck. I could be afraid of that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Young People

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
-The Who, "My Generation"

I know I'm getting old. At least I feel like I am. I mean, I'm still in relatively good health and I haven't even hit middle age yet, but it just feels like I'm falling behind the times.

Young People terrify me. I know every generation says the one coming after them is useless, but come on - it's never been this bad, has it? Kids are growing up SO differently then they were even twenty years ago. They have access to so much technology and information than we could never dream of, and they take it for granted. I'm pretty comfortable with it because I've grown up with and adapted to it, but kids born in the last ten years or so won't even REMEMBER a time before smart phones and wireless internet, before GPS and social networking and access to Wikipedia and Google.  They will have a COMPLETELY different view of the world and how it works, and it frightens me to imagine what that view will be.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of X-Rays

Diagnostic X-rays (primarily from CT scans due to the large dose used) increase the risk of developmental problems and cancer in those exposed. X rays are classified as a carcinogen by both the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. government. It is estimated that 0.4% of current cancers in the United States are due to computed tomography (CT scans) performed in the past and that this may increase to as high as 1.5-2% with 2007 rates of CT usage.

Experimental and epidemiological data currently do not support the proposition that there is a threshold dose of radiation below which there is no increased risk of cancer. However, this is under increasing doubt. It is estimated that the additional radiation will increase a person's cumulative risk of getting cancer by age 75 by 0.6–1.8%.
-From Wikipedia

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Water

Aquaphobia is a persistent and abnormal fear of water. [...] People suffer aquaphobia in many ways and may experience it even though they realize the water in an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses no imminent threat. They may avoid such activities as boating and swimming, or they may avoid swimming in the deep ocean despite having mastered basic swimming skills. This anxiety commonly extends to getting wet or splashed with water when it is unexpected, or being pushed or thrown into a body of water.
-From Wikipedia

Okay, I know I've bemoaned water and nautical-based phobias a few times this month.  Promise this will be the last one.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Vessels

"Fifteen-hundred people went into the sea, when Titanic sank from under us. There were twenty boats floating nearby... and only one came back. One. Six were saved from the water, myself included. Six... out of fifteen-hundred. Afterward, the seven-hundred people in the boats had nothing to do but wait... wait to die... wait to live... wait for an absolution... that would never come."
-From Titanic

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I am not a fan of tidal waves.  I imagine that few people are.  (Except maybe people who own property just above the high water line, maybe?  I dunno). But my fear of nautical-related phenomenon is not tied directly to abnormal swells in water levels. I fucking hate boats, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Unsolved Mysteries

"This program is about unsolved mysteries. Whenever possible, the actual family members and police officials have participated in recreating the events. What you are about to see is not a news broadcast."

I have a love-hate relationship with the old television program Unsolved Mysteries, hosted by the incomparable Robert Stack. On the one hand, I LOVED this show as a kid. Like most kids, I was totally into UFOs, ghosts, weird mysteries and unsolved crimes. I loved stuff like Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not and ghost stories.  On the either hand, the show scared the shit out of me and gave me nightmares.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Tidal Waves

Cymophobia is an abnormal fear of waves, sea swells and other wave-like motions. [...] Tsunamis, big waves, traumatic childhood experiences in the beach, waves hitting cliffs or rocky regions, tidal waves, floods, wave pools and river waves can easily trigger cymophobia. The fear of waves can be treated. It may require hypnosis, psychotherapy or even acupuncture. Cymophobia forces patients to live far away from the oceans, rivers and lakes. The symptoms of cymophobia are vertigo, dizziness, headaches, feelings of nausea.

I can recognize my worst phobias by how they affect my subconscious mind.  If I dream about something in a negative way, I know it must truly be a real fear.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Star Wars 7

...because it may suck.

This one is pretty simple. No matter, when something is hyped enough for long enough, it's inevitably going to be a letdown.  Just like the new Star Wars films that came out in the early 2000s, just like the Undertaker at Wrestlemania this year.  When you build up something so big in your head, hold it aloft on such a high pedestal, OF COURSE it's going to come crashing down at some point.  We remember celebrities like Kurt Cobain, Bruce Lee and James Dean fondly because they never grew old enough to become bloated caricatures of themselves (looking at you, Mel Gibson).  Sometimes its better if our heroes are left in the past where they shine in the favourable light of memory, instead of dragging it out and rebooting it every few years.  Unfortunately, that seems utterly impossible in this day and age.

On many levels, Star Wars 7 cannot be as impressive and great as the original(s).  Star Wars ushered in a new era of moviemaking - it changed the way movies were presented and ushered fantasy and sci-fi into mainstream popular culture.  A new film can't have the same impact unless is redefines cinema again, which would require the studio to make a very different film than most people are expecting (which I would kinda be okay with - I would love to see Star Wars re-imagined as a film noir sci-fi thriller).

I think JJ Abrams will do a good job with it.  And despite their bad rep, Disney knows how to handle huge beloved franchises with care, so I can't think of anyone better to be backing him.  I'm certainly looking forward to seeing Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in bad 70s haircuts again, even if they get killed in the first act (and in fact, that may be the best case scenario).  But despite all of this, and all of my efforts to keep my expectations low, there may still be some huge disappointment come Christmas 2015 when Episode 7 hits movie screens.

"Great shot kid, that was one in a million."

Indeed it was, Han.  Indeed it was.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Rogue Asteroids

And this is the best that you - that the-the government, the *U.S. government* can come up with? I mean, you-you're NASA for cryin' out loud, you put a man on the moon, you're geniuses! You-you're the guys that think this shit up! I'm sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up! You're telling me you don't have a backup plan, that these eight boy scouts right here, that is the world's hope, that's what you're telling me?
- Armageddon

There are many ways the world could end.  Nuclear winter, alien invasion, super-volcanoes, the sun going supernova, everyone plugging in hair dryers at the same time.  And it will happen some day - maybe not for billions of years, long after the human race has died out, or maybe it will happen tomorrow out of the blue.

None of the outcomes scares me as much as a rock the size of Texas slamming into the planet at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Questions

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement."
-Ronald Reagan

Q: Do you want chicken or fish for dinner?

A: I like chicken, but we had chicken last night.  We should each more fish, but all we have is the frozen battered kind.

Q: Do you want to go to a movie?

A: I like going to movies.  But we three videos at home we've been meaning to watch that are free.  We haven't gone to a movie in ages.

Q: Which shirt do you like better?

A: The red one is fun, kinda fun and funky.  The blue one brings out your eyes.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Phone Calls

Telephobia is reluctance or fear of making or taking phone calls, literally, "fear of telephone". Telephone phobia is also considered to be a type of social phobia or social anxiety problem. It is often compared to glossophobia, in that both require engaging with an audience to a certain extent, followed by the fear of being criticized, judged or made a fool of.
-From Wikipedia

I loathe when the telephone rings and I don't recognize the number.  My breath catches, the hair on the back of neck stands up, my fists clench and I break out in a cold sweat.  An overwhelming sense of dread settles over my entire being.  It's not that I'm afraid there's bad news coming, that someone's dead or in the hospital. I can trace my fear of phone calls precisely to a very specific period of my life.

I worked at Kinko's for 7 years.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why I (used to be) Afraid of Obscurity

"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
- John Wooden

"I would absolutely characterize myself as ambitious."
-Kim Kardashian

When I was younger I was obsessed that my life was supposed to mean something.  I wanted to do something important, and to be remembered. For a long time I thought that I would achieve infamy through writing a book.  When I was a kid I dreamed of being a famous baseball player, even though I sucked at sports. I flirted with being an actor or a rock star (not a musician, mind you, a rock star - thank God they didn't have American Idol back then). I was terrified of living and dying in obscurity.

Thankfully I grew up and I got my head out of my ass.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Nudity, Public

Never Nude is the syndrome from which Tobias Fünke suffers which renders him unable to be naked instead wearing tight jean cutoffs under his clothes. It is not recognized by the DSM-IV. Annual conferences are held for those affected.
-Arrested Development Wiki

I briefly mentioned this in an earlier post, at the time thinking it was a joke, but I have since thought about it and I realized I went through a phase where this was absolutely the case.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Millipedes

Millipedes (class Diplopoda) are myriapodous arthropods that have two pairs of legs on most body segments. Each double-legged segment is a result of two single segments fused together as one (the name "Diplopoda" comes from the Greek words διπλοῦς (diplous), "double" and ποδός (podos), "foot"). [...] The name "millipede" is a compound word formed from the Latin roots mille ("thousand") and pes ("foot"). Despite their name, no known millipede has 1,000 legs, although the rare species Illacme plenipes has up to 750.
-from Wikipedia.

Seriously? You need an explanation why I'm afraid?  Just LOOK AT THEM.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Lycanthropy

A werewolf is a human being who, upon the complete rising of the full moon, becomes a fearsome and deadly near-wolf. Werewolves can be easily distinguished from regular wolves by their shorter snout, more human-like eyes, the tufted tail, and their mindless hunting of humans whilst in wolf form.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not afraid of The Wolfman or clinical lycanthropy where people actually believe they are animals or hyptertirichosis (abnormal and severe hair growth all over the body) or even Taylor Lautner (though he could probably kick my ass), I have a very particular and specific fear of the French Canadian version of the werewolf, the Loup-Garou.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Kevin Siembieda

"I wanted to create the ultimate gaming environment and a very specific, fun world. I wanted Rifts® to be my Star Wars®. A truly unique and original world setting that would wow the readers and take gamers places they had never imagined before."
-Kevin Siembieda, discussing where he got the idea for Rifts.  He is physically incapable of writing an IP name without putting a copyright symbol on it.  I imagine he actually speaks like that.

Kevin Siembieda is an American role-playing game designer, illustrator and writer who has been a fixture of the gaming scene for many, many years. He has headed up Palladium Books for over 30 years, publishing hundreds of RPG games, some of them wildly successful (like the aforementioned Rifts). He's always done things is own way, running his own business and keeping things very grassroots and DIY. He should be a hero to aspiring game designers everywhere. Except from all signs and evidence, he's a complete and utter hack.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of the Justice System

"In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same."
-Albert Einstein

I liked Matlock. No, I'm not sixty years old, not even close. But what's not to like?  Senile old dude defending the innocent, catching wrong doers and everything always turned out alright in the end. Sadly the real-life modern world doesn't work like that. I'm utterly terrified of ever having to go to court because the justice system seems so completely broken.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why I'm Afraid the Ice and Fire Author is Going to Die Before Finishing the Series

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-Robert Frost

Much like his protagonists, George R.R. Martin does not have a long life expectancy ahead of him.  Not that I have any special or particular knowledge of his health, he just doesn't really look like the healthiest dude if you know what I mean.  I've been waiting nearly twenty years to find out how the damn story ends (A Game of Thrones originally came out in 1996), so you can imagine I'm starting to get a little impatient.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of the Hulk (The Incredible one, not Hogan)

Dr. David Banner, Physician/Scientist, searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation interacts with his unique body chemistry. And now, when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter. [...] An accidental explosion took the life of a fellow scientist and supposedly David Banner as well. The reporter thinks the creature was responsible. [...] A murder which David Banner can never prove he or the creature didn't commit. So he must let the world go on thinking that he too is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.

I have a very vivid memory of a dream I experienced when I was about 8 years old. In it, a mentally-handicapped boy came into my bedroom and started screaming at me, then tearing all of the toys out of my toy box and throwing them around the room. It all seemed so real that when I woke with a start to complete and full alertness, I was completely and 100% certain that someone had been in my room. I could not go back to sleep for hours. If you know me you'll understand that was incredibly unusual. I can sleep anywhere and at any time. I've fallen asleep in dentist chairs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Game Masters

“You are not entering this world in the usual manner, for you are setting forth to be a Dungeon Master. Certainly there are stout fighters, mighty magic-users, wily thieves, and courageous clerics who will make their mark in the magical lands of D&D adventure. You however, are above even the greatest of these, for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to the all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow.” 
― Gary Gygax, Creator of Dungeons & Dragons

I wrote a pretty detailed account of my GM-phobia awhile back over at RuleoftheDice.com, but at the risk of repeating myself I'll give you the short version:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Fatherhood

Raising children is an incredibly hard and risky business in which no cumulative wisdom is gained: each generation repeats the mistakes the previous one made.
- Bill Cosby

I love being a dad. My son is 2 years old and wonderful. He's in that incredible stage when he's still baby-ish but learning and developing at an alarming rate that amazes me to no end. Every day he learns new words, discovers and notices new things, performs tasks he never did before. Watching him grow is more rewarding and enjoyable than I ever would have thought possible.

So of course I'm scared I'm going to fuck it up.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Eels

Click here for the nutritional facts on cooked eel.  They're a pretty good source of protein, but very, very high in fat and cholesterol. And of course they're horrifying.

Eels are mythical, un-killable creatures from the black abyss. I know this as true and absolute fact, and for that I fear them. If ever they should develop intelligence and rise up against us, we are doomed to be their landlocked slaves. Or dinner.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of the Dark

"Rod cells, or rods, are photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that can function in less intense light than the other type of visual photoreceptor, cone cells. Rods are concentrated at the outer edges of the retina and are used in peripheral vision. On average, there are approximately 125 million rod cells in the human retina. More sensitive than cone cells, rod cells are almost entirely responsible for night vision."
-From Wikipedia

Things go bump in the night.  Shadows play tricks on your imagination. Some of the most fearsome hunters in the animal kingdom are nocturnal. All of those things are valid reasons to be afraid of the dark, but mine goes a little bit farther.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Cars

The fear of driving can be severe enough to be considered a phobia. It is often great enough that people will avoid driving at all costs, and instead find someone to drive them or use public transportation, regardless of how inconvenient or expensive. There is no Latin term for this fear, though it is comparable to hodophobia, the fear of traveling. (from Wikipedia, and you have no idea how much I wish that read "hobo"-phobia, which should be a real thing.  I'll see you again on "H" day)

It's not that I'm afraid of cars themselves or driving or even of getting hit by a car... I actually was hit by one once while crossing a sidewalk. I rolled with it and bounced off the hood before hitting the pavement. I walked away with just a few scratches and some mud on my coat. Freaked the goddamn hell out of the driver though, and I do kinda hope it gave her nightmares.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Barbers

Come into my Parlor said the spider to the fly
Come into my barber's shop said Todd unto Toby
For a roughness I do detect about the throat I fear
Me thinks it would look better when cut from ear to ear
-From "Sweeney Todd"

So... You walk into a place of business where a minimum wage employee and total stranger yanks your head back and wields sharp implements around your neck and throat while paying more intention to pointless jabber about the weather and the scores to last night's game than he's paying to the deadly weapons in his hands. You have no idea if this guy is an undercover spy, a homicidal lunatic or if he's even sober. Why do people willingly do this on a regular basis, and then pay twenty bucks for it? Have you seen Sweeney Todd?

This is probably why I only get my hair cut every two or three months, and thus look like a slightly meatier version of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Ants

Myrmecophobia (from Greek: μύρμηξ, myrmex, "ant" and φόβος, phóbos, "fear") is the inexplicable fear of ants. It is a rather specific phobia. [...] This fear can manifest itself in several ways, such as a fear of ants contaminating a person's food supply, or fear of a home invasion by large numbers of ants. (From Wikipedia)

When I was about 10 years old I was playing in the yard of the house across the street from my grandmother's place. I was crawling under a fence when I noticed my hand was itching something fierce. Glancing down, I discovered I was leaning in an ant hill, and big-ass red ants were crawling up my arm and biting my tender childhood flesh.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A-to-Z Blog Challenge April 2014

So I did it.  I signed up for the 2014 A-to-Z Blog challenge, which means I have to come up with 26 posts in the month of April.  I've already got the first week pretty much ready to go.  Does that mean I'm cheating?

This also made me realize that I should probably update that God-awful ugly-looking banner at the top of the page.  Someone might actually visit this site now, so I need to make it more presentable.

This also reminded me that I should be putting the finishing touches on my book instead of writing silly blog posts that no one will read.  Still. At least I'm writing something.

See you next week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chasing Hobbits

I don't remember where I read it, but someone once said that fantasy writers keep writing and telling the same stories over and over again trying to recapture the magic they felt when they first experienced The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  I believe this wholeheartedly, and I don't believe it just applies to fantasy writers, nor specifically to the works of Tolkien.

We all have that story from our youth that captured our imagination and drew us into a mythical world.  For myself and those in the generation before me, it probably was The Hobbit (I remember the first time I read it, a brightly-coloured, illustrated version I borrowed from my friend). For newer generations it will probably be Harry Potter.  When it ended and Frodo and Bilbo moved onto the next world (or when Harry grew up), the magic ended and we moved onto the next book, and the next and the next, trying to find more magic and mystery and wonder.  We may have found better books and stories that even touched us more, but like that fumbling awkwardness in the backseat of your parents' car, you never forget your first.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Where does the time go?

Answer: In the closet.

It's a running joke my wife and I shared for years.  It's a major plot point in my first novel I hope to publish very soon. It is both a literal and figurative description of what I've done with my life.

There is - literally - a closet in the basement of my house that contains dozens of notebooks, computer disks and several bankers boxes full of manuscripts, half-finished stories and hundreds of pages of notes and ideas for other tales.  I have no idea how many hours, days and years of my life are piled on those shelves under the stairs, but it is a substantial portion.  From my high school years right up until the birth of my son I wrote frequently and prolifically.  I went through phases where I tried to get novels and stories published, but it never really went anywhere.

Coincidentally, we also keep the cat's litter box in this closet, which I hope isn't symbolic of something.

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