Firewater – The Golden Hour

May 7, 2008 at 8:39 pm (announcement, news, nonfiction)

firewater is back!
after far, far too long, there is a new album, and it’s really fucking awesome!
yeah, well, i’m biased. but seriously, even i’ll admit there are firewater songs i’m not too fond of. on most of their albums there are some songs i really really LOVE and some i could totally do without and tend to skip when they come up on the shuffle.
the golden hour is completely and utterly solid, though. it’s ALL good, in my opinion. some of the songs are better than others, of course, but there isn’t a single one that i don’t like.

as if this wasn’t good enough, they’re playing in chicago on the 30th of the month. i really want to go. i should. i could, as far as i know. but i really don’t like the idea of going to concerts all by my lonesome, and none of my best friends are big firewater fans.

so consider this a call for a favor and companionship. if you’re interested in checking out a really interesting, excellent, and unusual band live and don’t mind a trip to and from chicago to do so, let me know. and, of course, if you’d like to know what they sound like before considering such a thing, let me know. i’ll be glad to give you a taste of the awesome. chances are you’ll know pretty quick whether you like them or not.


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Protected: unspeakable – quercus

May 1, 2008 at 7:30 pm (fiction, short story)

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Quercus Reading ’08!

April 24, 2008 at 6:03 pm (announcement, news)

so let this be an invitation to anyone i know locally that actually reads this:
come to the Quercus Reading and Art Show on Tuesday the 29th of May at 7pm in the Ambrose Hall Board room at St. Ambrose University in Davenport! it’s gonna be awesome! especially the whopping two page short long short story i’ll be reading!

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Rest in Peace, Gary

March 6, 2008 at 1:20 am (gaming, news, nonfiction)

so on the morning of March 4th, 2008 E. Gary Gygax died.
for those that are unaware, Gygax was the co-creator of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
if you don’t know what D&D and RPGs are, i can only express confusion about why you’re reading my blog.

anyone who knows me well knows that i don’t have any particular fondness for D&D, especially not in its current incarnations. however, like most gamers, especially those of my generation or older, it was one of the first RPGs i had serious contact with (or, in my case, since i’m fairly young for the gaming crowd, it was AD&D 1 and 2, but still, you get the point) so there’s a lot of nostalgia associated with it.

but the relative quality of D&D and its descendants really isn’t the point.

it was pretty much THE FIRST roleplaying game! it’s the grandpappy! it led to so many other games, and not all of them are played around the tabletop. while most of them have probably never even heard the man’s name, the millions of people out there spending tons of time and money playing World of Warcraft certainly owe some thanks to Gary.

so in the end, i can’t really think of Gygax as just helping to bring the world D&D. he birthed an entire hobby. a hobby that that has given me and a lot of other people a great deal of enjoyment and inspiration as well as leading us to new friends and making our existing friendships deeper.

Thanks, Gary.

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Protected: traumstadt – experiment

November 28, 2007 at 8:37 pm (fiction, novel, scene)

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nonlinear storytelling

October 21, 2007 at 8:22 pm (fiction, gaming, meta, rant)

okay, so this is going to be a bit of a rambling rant of a post. feel free to skip it if you have no desire to hear my (rather unorganized) thoughts about nonlinear storytelling. well hell, i figure everyone can feel free to skip ANYTHING i post about. after all, the majority of it isn’t really earthshaking news.

but i’m getting off topic.

lately i’ve been thinking a lot about nonlinear storytelling.

i think this started because of a thread over on the story games community. it started as a discussion about whether or not advancement is necessary in a campaign-style role-playing game. it got me speculating about a game in which, instead of doing the tradition “zero-to-hero” or “farmboy-to-king” kind of storyline, you did the reverse. at first i was thinking about a game in which the character or characters started at the peak of their power and declined… but then i started thinking about a game that would be more in the style of the movie Memento.

for those who aren’t familiar with Memento (and if you aren’t, get out there and rent it! now!) the movie begins with the final scene. we witness the ending of the story, but we don’t know how the characters got into that situation. then, the movie goes backwards, scene by scene, until we’ve seen how things began.

i think this would be a really really cool thing to do in a role-playing game, if there was a good system to use for it.

then, i got to thinking about this supposed novel i’m working on. it wasn’t too long ago that i was meeting with my advisor and we were talking about it, and i said that i wanted to write the end to the story so that i knew where i was aiming. i said that i was concerned if i didn’t have a destination that the novel would just ramble without direction. he said that he’d heard some authors say that if they didn’t write the ending first (or early) they could never finish a book. he said he’d also heard authors say that if they wrote the ending early they would never bother to finish the book.

as always, writing is a pretty personal thing. everyone has their own way. but i did a little writing last night and started writing what is either the end of the book or at least a climax towards the end. and i started thinking more about this idea that if you know the ending, there is no reason to write the beginning. i think it seems pretty strange. i mean, i was making up all kinds of crazy stuff when i was working on the ending. i decided that a character i was writing about a week or so ago was dead (or at least that another character BELIEVED her to be dead) and that all kinds of horrible things were happening to the world.

BUT i hadn’t yet determined how things had come to that point! i mean, it would be as if i was going to read the last Harry Potter book (which i probably will do at some point… i’ve read the first 6 after all) and someone told me that Harry dies (i actually have no idea if he does or not, please note) at the end. i’d still read the damn book because i’d want to know HOW that comes to pass.

in other words, the journey is AT least as important as the destination. why do i care how things end if i have no idea where they started or what happened in between? without being able to see the entire thing, the ending would lack depth and meaning.

so. hmm. i’m not sure where to go with this now. :) except that nonlinear storytelling is nifty. structure is important, of course, and the way most people are used to understanding a story is linearly, but there’s no real reason this is truly required. knowing “the ending” early doesn’t have to ruin anything, not when true comprehension of the story requires experiencing every point along the way. does it really matter in what direction you travel the path as long as you see all the sights along the way?

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help me out!

October 20, 2007 at 1:15 pm (announcement, nonfiction, personal)

progress on my novel has, frankly, been pitiful. i just have NOT been working on it nearly as much as i should have. but now that my t’ai chi class is done, i will have much more free time on tuesdays and thursdays so i have even less reason not to work on it.

i am going to make an promise to myself to work on it for one hour every day.

but i suck at keeping myself honest about these kinds of things, so i’d like your help.

if you talk to me, whether face-to-face or on the internet, ask me if i’ve done any writing on my novel yet. if i say no, tell me to get on it.

seriously, this would help me a lot! please harass me for my own good!

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all i wanted was dinner and philosophy notes

October 19, 2007 at 7:41 pm (news, nonfiction, personal)

the time: october the 8th, 2007, about 3:30 in the afternoon.
the place: the campus of st. ambrose university, davenport iowa.
the question: do i hang around campus for 3 hours, being hungry and trying to study until my night class and continue being hungry until i get home at about 9:30, or do i go home and get food?

sometimes i’ll just suck it up and be hungry. sometimes i’ll buy food on campus. that day, however, i realized that the main thing i needed to study (my notes for history of ancient philosophy) was at home.
this made the decision.
i would go home. i would eat, i would study for my upcoming test, i would go back to school for class.

the time: 3:45 pm, the same day.
the place: the intersection of jersey ridge road and 53rd street.
the question: what the hell just happened?

i’m going home. no problem. i’m want to go by my bank and through the atm to check my balance. so i head north up jersey ridge road, intending to cross 53rd street and take 65th street over to utica ridge. as i’m heading up to the intersection i see that the light is solid green. awesome. i don’t have to wait. but then someone starts turning left from the north side of the intersection, from jersey ridge onto 53rd. i have to break a bit. i’m cursing at the stupid, selfish jerk a little, but it’s no big deal.
what IS a big deal is the car right BEHIND that person that is ALSO turning. i slam my foot down onto the brakes but it’s too late. bam.

the driver of the other car was a 16 year old girl. i’m still not sure what the hell happened. if she just wasn’t paying attention or if she was distracted by her cell phone ringing (i think she said something about that afterwards) or if she was following too close on the tail of the big, black SUV that was right in front of her and didn’t see me, or a combination of all of those things.

all i know is this sucks.

detailing anymore of that day is probably unnecessary. i was fine, physically, and so was the other driver. my car was ruined, however. i don’t know or care what happened to hers.
i think that, possibly, the following two weeks were worse than the accident itself. dealing with the insurance companies, looking for a new car. all very frustrating, stressful, and depressing.

fortunately, it’s mostly all over now. i have another car (though it wasn’t my first choice… that one got bought out from under us) paid for (mostly) with the settlement, which seemed pretty fair and reasonable, all things considered.

i never really did get much of a dinner, or any studying done.
but i did fine on the philosophy test anyway.

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Stay out of the Pemberton woods! – The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach

September 30, 2007 at 10:15 pm (gaming, nonfiction) (, )

this is the first time i’ve attempted any kind of actual play report, so i’ll apologize in advance. i probably won’t do a very good job. but if anyone has any questions, feel free post to inquire and i’ll do my best to answer. Also, I invite any of the other players, if they read this to refresh my memory on things I’ve forgotten or gotten wrong.

finally, over a year after purchasing the game, i got to play The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach, and it was a pretty good time. we did a four player game. participating were Ryan and Seth,my two standard gaming buddies, and Chris, someone I hadn’t ever gamed with before but I hope I will be able to do so again sometime. i think four was a pretty good number, though i’d be interested in possibly trying it with one or two more sometime.

anyway, we started out by making characters, of course. mine was Professor Church, an assistant professor of foreign and ancient languages, specializing in Sanskrit. while i never really brought it into play directly, i decided that he was concerned his education was completely impractical and pointless and that he was wasting his life. as a result he had turned to drugs to hide from his worries and fears and he had become a lying drug-addict. Ryan played Professor Ulster, who was apparently nobility from England as well as a full professor of physics. Seth was Professor Watkins, a full professor of mathematics. Chris was Professor Woolidge, an assistant professor of botany.

we then moved on to establishing starting relationships. i, unfortunately, only really remember those my character started with. i didn’t make much use of my positive relationship, unfortunately, but i decided that Church was an anglophile and like Ulster because of that, whereas Ulster hated Church because Church was always bothering him with questions about England. on the other hand, Church didn’t like Woolidge because he had attempted to get Woolidge to grow him opium and marijuana in the university greenhouse, and he’d refused. Woolidge, for his part, had decided that Church was really a good man underneath and he was trying to reform him.

then actual play began. we played through five of the six events, deciding to cut out the christmas ball for the sake of time. before the first event, Prof. Ulster became the first host of the Roach. during the convocation there was some maneuvering for power as Prof. Woolidge attempted to gain the honor of being the only new professor to be allowed to make a speech. however, due to Prof. Church’s lies about Woolidge to the chaplain (he claimed that Woolidge WAS growing drugs in the greenhouse) he was not allowed to make a speech. During his speech, Prof. Stoudenmeyer, the Faculty Senate Chair, had a sudden heart attack and died, falling over into the orchestra pit, and Prof. Watkins attempted to use this situation to make himself look good by trying to fill the leadership void and keeping the convocation underway. However, before much more could happen, the lights went out, and when they came back on, the young radical Professor Collins was hanging by his neck from the rafters, with strange words carved into his face. Before the crowd could see too much, Prof. Church lead the orchestra upstairs to remove the body and the chaplain helped to keep order in the crowd. After everyone left, Church went with the chaplain and broke into Woolidge’s greenhouse, where he planted some of his own drugs in an attempt to make the chaplain believe that Woolidge really was growing them. Woolidge caught them in the greenhouse, but the chaplain was still convinced.

but Woolidge was later vindicated! there was apparently not enough evidence to prove that he had grown the drugs, and Woolidge was granted tenure. before the founder’s day wine and cheese social, Prof. Ulster, sick of the manipulations of the Roach managed to remove it via some impromptu, self-administered surgery with a fondue fork. during the social, Prof. Church found new joy in gossip and began intentionally spreading lies about other members of the faculty, especially Prof. Woolidge. In addition to the lies about growing drugs in the greenhouse, Church began to claim that Woolidge was having an affair with Regina Sutton, the most popular co-ed (this was actually decided retroactively during event three when Chris drew the Public Scandal card). At some point during the social, Prof. Watkins got up to make a speech, then began to dance like a mad man (he had been infected by the Roach without himself or anyone realizing it – possibly the very same Roach Ulster had just managed to extract from himself). The Roach’s psychic command to dance was powerful enough to affect the wine-addled crowd as well, and the social turned into a wild party that lasted until dawn. after the party, wired on cocaine, Prof. Church rounded up a few of his grad students and attempted to convince them to help him dig up the body of Prof. Collins so that he could translate the strange writing carved into his face. however, Prof. Woolidge and some of the Pemberton Hunting Club stopped them. frankly, i think the students weren’t all that enthusiastic about the idea of digging up dead bodies at the insistence of their drug addicted professor anyway.

i’m having a bit of difficult remember exactly how the third event, the pemberton follies of 1919 got started. However, it was during this scene that some of the older male members of the faculty, including the chaplain, did a barbershop quartet number, after which, as they were leaving, Prof. Watkins caught the chaplain backstage and killed him by roasting him alive against a leaking steam pipe and then proceeded to become a hero in the eyes of everyone making up a story about having found the man dead and fixing a dangerous steam leak. it was also during this event that Prof. Woolidge got revenge on Prof. Church. He sent some students, members of the hunting club again, I believe, to search Church’s office and found the man’s stash of drugs, which he held over him as blackmail in retaliation for starting rumors about Woolidge and Regina Sutton. this made Church (who was already upset at having received a letter of reprimand about soliciting students for the exhumation of Prof. Collins) even more angry. As he stormed off he encountered a huge cockroach and before he could crush it, it spoke to him, promising him power and revenge if he would swallow it and serve it. He did so. He then proceeded to send a note to Sutton, asking her to meet him in his office after the show. When she did so, he gave her poisoned wine and dragged her body to Woolidge’s office. However, while he wasn’t caught, despite the added power of the Roach, his machinations failed and it turned out that Sutton wasn’t dead, though the poison did cause her brain damage leaving her mute. I can’t recall what happened to Prof. Ulster in this event, except that he became possessed by the Roach once again.

the next even was the homecoming football game. Prof. Watkins attempted to take over as chaplain, but his ploy for power failed, despite the assistance of the Roach. Prof. Ulster had apparently become something of a gambler, possibly due the manipulations of the Roach, and he attempted to convince Bantam Whaley the star quarterback to the throw the game. when another member of the team decided he would help in exchange for a cut of the winnings, Whaley went along with it as well. during the game, Prof. Church went off to the graveyard and dug up Prof. Collins by himself, and he saw things that terrified him, driving him mad. then, driven by the Roach, the headed back toward the school and wandered onto the football field in the middle of the second half, covered in grave dirt and dragging a shovel. one of the members of the opposing team attempted to tackle him, but the knocked him down and proceeded to smash the young man’s head in with a shovel. however, before he could do much of anything else, he was stopped by other members of the faculty and sent off to an insane asylum.

our final event, the faculty senate meeting involved a lot of insanity. with Prof. Church still away on “personal leave” he wasn’t involved at the beginning as Prof. Watkins attempted to take over as Chair. honestly, at the moment i can’t recall whether he was successful at this latest bid for power or not. while the meeting was going on, Prof. Church was undergoing electro-shock therapy in the asylum. the Roach aided him, however, with a couple of his children crawling out of Church’s orifices and infesting a couple orderlies who helped him escape. he broke into the the faculty senate meeting and attacked Prof. Watkins as he was making a speech. with the help of the Roach controlled orderlies, he managed to give Watkins a severe beating before he was chased off, into the woods outside of pemberton. Prof. Woolidge (still the only non-Roached PC) rounded up the hunting club and the hounds and led everyone out into the woods to hunt down the mad Prof. Church. Prof. Ulster joined in the hunt as well, and even Watkins came along, though he was too battered to really take part. The dogs caught one of the orderlies and tore him apart, however, Church still managed to escape, along with the other orderly.

this concluded the final event of the game. in the Epilogue it was told that several days later the body of the second orderly was found, with chunks of flesh missing and human teeth marks surrounding his wounds. Church never turned up, though, and occasionally students would disappear from pemberton and it would be blamed on the Mad Professor of the Woods.

Prof. Woolidge (with the 2nd highest reputation overall, and the only one who wasn’t Roached at the end) was the only one who managed to maintain control of his own will throughout the course of the horrible events, but he became obsessed with Prof. Church and continued to make excursions into the woods to look for him, long after everyone else believed that it was just a story. in the end, Woolidge was thought to be a madman, chasing after a legend. congratulations, Chris! you won!

Prof. Ulster, apparently driven beyond his ability to cope after having been infected with the Roach against his will, then managing to extract it only to become infected once again, used his last remaining ouch of willpower to kill himself. with his final act as a free man, he broke the Roach’s hold the only way he knew. he tied a rope around his neck and the other end to his bedpost and strangled himself..

Prof. Watkins (with the highest reputation, thus earning the right to narrate the epilogue for the university and the Roach as well as his own character) rose in power, with the Roach’s help. he eventually came to rule over the school like some kind of horrific emperor. slowly, the majority of the faculty where infected with the Roach’s offspring, and then the students as well. with the strength brought by the Roach, the football team became better and better, drawing more students to pemberton. the Roach infected students would go on, after their graduations out into business and politics where they could extend the foul influence of the evil insect even further.

and that’s it! once again, i apologize for the things i definitely left out. i realized in writing this that i should have tried to write it up more quickly after the game. as it is, the parts i remember most clearly are definitely those things that happened to my own character, so i know it might seem like other characters didn’t do as much as they really did. so i’m sorry about that. still, feel free to ask me any questions, if you like. and i recommend this game. it’s cool.

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fall updates

September 30, 2007 at 1:07 pm (nonfiction, personal) (, , , )

well it seems like maybe its time to do another one of these things.
the first semester of my last year at st. ambrose is pretty well underway at this point. it’s still a bit too early to know just how intense this semester will be, but things are going fairly smoothly so far. the semester should be less brutally english focused than some of my previous semesters. i’m knocking out a lot of gen ed requirements this time. my only two english classes are american lit 1 (last required lit course! w00t.) and senior seminar. am lit has a lot of short papers in it, and senior sem has one really long paper, the topic of which is pretty much up to us. i’ve decided to write about the haruki murakami novel kafka on the shore. so by no means is this going to be a light semester as far as the english is concerned, but i don’t have huge amounts of reading to do like i did in the spring.
other classes include: history of ancient philosophy (a very lecture heavy course – there isn’t even a text book), bio-medical ethics (with the same teacher i had for vanilla-flavored ethics last semester, and as such, a very enjoyable course so far), politics and film (i’m not really sure how i feel about this one so far, honestly. doesn’t seem like it will be difficult, however), and finally t’ai chi.

away from classes, but still related to school, i started worked in the tech services department at the st. ambrose library this year instead of in the computer lab. since i’m strongly considering going to grad school for an mls, i thought i should have at least a little experience working in a library. so far i like it. i don’t have nearly as much free time to work on homework while getting paid for it (in fact, i don’t have any of that) but i’m also rarely bored. and all of the librarians are really nice people. i will tell you this much though, if i am ever in any position of authority in library, i’m going to make sure that if the library is named after a person, that person’s name won’t actually be put onto any materials. you never know what can happen to disgrace a person, potentially resulting in a name change for the library. and being required to remove part of a name from every single book in a library is no small task. if you don’t understand to what i’m referring, just read this quad-city times article.

on other topics… as usual i’m not doing nearly as much work on my novel as i really ought to be. so once again, i extend the request to anyone who reads this to feel free to harass me about it any time you talk to me. i need pressure! i’m not good at putting pressure on myself.

since gen con, i’ve also been trying to do more gaming. i’ve acquired a fairly large number of roleplaying games that i’ve never actually played, and i’ve made it a goal to play more of them. i’ve been intending to do more short term games so that i can experience a variety of things.
towards this end, i had a bit of a geeky gaming party on labor day weekend that went quite well. we didn’t play any roleplaying games, but we did play a few other games including the deluxe version of kill dr. lucky, a few rounds of ca$h n’ gun$, and a round of the big idea. fun was had by all.
the plan to play more rpgs hasn’t been going that well unfortunately, but i did get the chance to finally play the shab-al-hiri roach this weekend. i’ll be doing a play report in a separate post.
finally, on the gaming front, i’m undertaking a small quest to try to get a few of my non-gamer friends from school to try something. we haven’t done anything yet, but given the large variety of different games i have, and the fact that a LOT of the new ones i have put almost their entire focus on telling stories rather than mechanics and rules, i think they could be a lot of fun. currently i’m really interested in trying to get a couple friends from school to join me in a game of dirty secrets, a game made for telling noir crime stories. i think it would be really cool to set the story on and around the ambrose campus. another friend of mine has expressed some interest in playing a game i have called grey ranks which is about teenage soldiers during the doomed warsaw uprising of 1944. i think this game also sounds really cool (if rather grim and dark) but not that many other people seem keen on it. apparently they don’t find the idea of playing child soldiers who are quite likely to die or go crazy and whose overall mission is doomed to failure to be a fun way to spend their time. go figure.

well i think thats enough of an update for the moment. i’m going to wrap this up so i can do the AP report for the game of the roach we played on saturday.

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