Thursday, November 01, 2012

Frazier Five-Oh

Long strange day.

Not a bad day. In many ways, a good one. But I decided for my 50th birthday, I would go out and do some things. I cashed in some quarters I'd been saving for a while and treated myself to lunch at a place I'd never been, Buffalo Wild Wings. Then I bought myself some presents: the second season of Archer was on sale, and the fourth season of Heroes, which isn't exactly good, but my daughter wants to see it, and I got some Halloween candy that was on clearance.

Then I came home and got dressed up in a suit and tie and went out to eat at P.F. Chang's, another place I'd never been. The food was really good, but I felt awfully self-conscious, sitting there all dressed up and all alone. After, I went to a club and smoked a really expensive cigar that I got as a free giveaway several years ago and have been saving for a special occasion.

So all in all, it was nice. But lonely. It's not as if I have no friends. I got lots of well-wishes on Facebook, and I have family and friends that I'll see on Saturday, including my daughter. But on THE day, everyone was pretty much busy, and I don't really have any go-to-a-club-and-smoke-a-cigar friends anymore, so that's necessarily something I have to do alone. Which is not necessarily the way I want it, but I don't see any real way of changing it for a while.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Many Moods of Metatronic

City of Heroes will be shutting down soon. And even though I haven't touched any of my characters for 1,574 days, I decided I needed to take a last look before they're gone forever.

After playing Champions for over a year, though, getting back into the City of Heroes keymap was like learning to walk again. I had forgotten the keystrokes. I had forgotten the geography of the city. And it didn't help that multiple updates and the transition from a subscriber model to a free-to-play model had wiped out or made obsolete major portions of my character.

I will be writing up something more substantial in a few days, once I've finally wrapped up Run, Digger, Run! But for now, here's a look at the many moods of my number-one main man, Metatronic (click the image to embiggen).

The third image is his original costume (no cape, because the game did not allow you to have a cape until you earned it at level 20). When he earned the right to wear a cape and have a second uniform slot, I gave him the Masked Rider style armor you see in the second image. Later, I gave him the Super-Saiyan-style power-up in image four, updated his armor to look tougher a'la image five, and filled a slot with a civilian secret identity costume. And for the fifth and final slot, I took my inspiration from his name (inspired by the Metatron, the angelic being who serves as the voice of God) and gave him his winged form. I think, though, that I used metal wings that somehow got deleted in the interim.

Now I need to find out if I can afford to upgrade my membership to V.I.P. long enough to get screenshots of Metalord, the first character to own the name.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I'm slowly developing a concept for my next project. I'm kind of Digger'd out, so I'm going to do something very different. I had three possible projects: a 1920's Horror/Action story that's been rolling around in my head for over a year; a hard-boiled crime story set in the 50's, probably; and a steampunkish thing set in the late 1800's in Europe.

Problems: The 1920's story doesn't have a third act. Not even the vaguest clue of one. And the characters are kind of boring.

The 1950's story is nothing but a vague idea of tone and one pithy line of dialogue. Oh, and a really strange (and probably unworkable) idea for how to structure the story, if I manage to come up with one.

The Steampunk story falls in between. There is even less plot (so far) than the horror story, but I think the characters are more interesting, and it's possible that I could develop it into something spectacular. Given my track record so far, the chances are slim, but I'm thinking that's what I'm going to turn my efforts toward as I wind up Run, Digger, Run!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Barack Obama's Jobs Plan

1. Increase regulations on businesses, making everything they do more expensive and more burdensome, including hiring.

2. Use the EPA's regulating power to discourage domestic fossil fuel production and to shut down coal-fired power plants, eliminating or forcing overseas thousands of jobs. This also makes energy scarcer and more expensive, driving up costs for businesses (and consumers) across the spectrum and leaving less money available for things like hiring.

3. Fail to pass a federal budget three years running and run the government on last-minute continuing resolutions. Likewise, propose huge increases in corporate and personal taxes, but leave temporary cuts in place for a couple of years at a time, so that businesses can never predict what their expenses will be by this time next year, including hiring.

4. Pass a sweeping change to the health care system, thousands of pages long, establishing over a hundred new bureaucracies with thousands of regulations "to be determined" in coming years, driving up compliance costs while exacerbating uncertainty over the true costs of hiring new personnel.

5. ...

6. Sit back and watch the jobs pour in.

How can any thinking person seriously plan to vote for this tool?

Monday, June 04, 2012

What I Bought

So I bought a heavy punching bag. Back before I moved out of Casa Estrogen, I went the Road House route by stuffing one of my old Army duffel bags with old clothes, hanging it from a hook in the garage ceiling, and punching it. It was a really good and intense workout which got me results comparable to what I'd had when I was lifting religiously, only with much shorter workouts. When I moved to my current house, I had no place to hang the bag (I could hang it in the garage, but it's a detached garage and not well-built, more like a tool shack with a really big door).

Plus, the duffel bag had its quirks and limitations. I stuffed it pretty much to capacity, but it was never heavy enough. After a few punches, it would just be swinging and spinning wildly. And since I left the carrying straps on that enable you to wear it like a backpack, sometimes I would end up punching or kicking a metal buckle, which was painful.And although it wasn't as heavy as I really wanted it, after a couple of months, I noticed the seams starting to pull apart.

So now I have a punching bag installed in my house. I did my first tentative workout on it today, relearning how to wrap my hands and getting a feel for the biomechanics of punching again, getting my arms used to taking the shock of a hard punch. I'm in even worse shape than I thought, but I'm hoping as I take this piece by piece: working the bag, starting to do bodyweight exercises and some kettlebell work, improving my diet--that will turn around.

And meanwhile, the act of getting the bag set up forced me to do some straightening up. Not nearly enough, but it's a start, and I've been avoiding that start for too long. If I ever want to get laid again, these are things I have to do. And seriously, I want to get laid again. Enough years have gone by.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Life We Want, the Life We Choose

I've been having new computer fever for a while now. Part of it was just that I got a little extra money together, and like this article says (scroll down to #4), I couldn't bear to just let it sit for a time when I needed it. Because it would get pissed away in dribs and drabs and in the end, I'd have nothing and wouldn't really be any better off.

But a new computer, that would give me a leg up on some stuff. I would be able to do much better work on the website, for instance. But it wouldn't make me any more talented, and sadly, though I've put a shit-ton of work into the website, I'm not keeping up with the demands, and the income I've made from donations and books sold is negligible.

I didn't have nearly enough to make the jump to the computer I want anyway, so I finally splurged on something else. Something that costs less than half what a new computer would cost, but could end up helping me make a much more positive change.

It's been a hard few years. The separation caused me a lot of stress, which was exacerbated by my post-election meltdown. Then came the Biggest Mistake of My Life, which left me jobless and saddled with a ton of debt. The three years since have seen extended periods of unemployment or underemployment, debilitating depression from feelings of worthlessness (when your wife doesn't want you and no one wants to hire you, it's hard not to start to agree with them), and just the grind of constantly having no money--eating shitty food, not running the air conditioner in the summer, running minimal heat in the winter, and subsequently having no energy to do anything but huddle over the computer.

Trash piles up, weeds grow rampant in the yard, everything in your house except the stuff you use every day is covered with a thick layer of dust and cobwebs. And then one day, you look around at a room that looks like a bomb went off one dropped comic book and empty soda bottle at a time, and you say, "Why the hell do I let myself live like this?"

Two years ago, I told myself I was making a change, but it didn't take. A year ago, I spent a month trying to improve, but then the summer heat clamped down and work stopped. This year, I used my little bit of extra money to buy something tangible in the hopes that it will jumpstart the changes that have so far eluded me.

Because although the mess is daunting and I've let my body atrophy horribly, the fact is, I've chosen to live this way, and I can choose to live another way if I want. And I really do want.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Odd Update

So I'm currently working way too few hours at my job, which means I'm trying to find other ways to make money. Got a bunch of watch & clock movements from Dad, so I'm playing with the idea of making steampunk jewelry. Working on a necklace now, which looks okay on my desk, but look like crap on, so more work to do there.

But here's a weird bit. I decided to look on Etsy to see who else is doing the kinds of things I want to do. And most people are not. They are either gluing random gears to stuff to make it "steampunk," or they are taking to heart the idea that gears have to serve a function, in which case they are soldering entire watch movements to random pieces of jewelry.

Which is really no more steampunk than gluing random gears, since the watch movements are all backwards and not serving any purpose other than to give a mechanical flavor. Meanwhile, I'm working on stuff that uses scavenged parts and gears as design elements, not functional machinery. But the entire thing is supposed to be a harmonious whole. Gluing random metal gears to a cloth books cover is silly; using a metal gear as a design element in a piece of metal jewelry is not (to my mind).

But here's the crazy part: I do find one (1) person on Etsy who is doing almost exactly what I envision myself doing as I develop my skills. And she's in Tulsa.

Meanwhile, I tried to learn how to do a pulp-style painting to make a new cover for a paperback edition of Death Wave, but after three failed attempts, I'm about to give up and try a new approach. And I also have to edit the manuscript and format it for print, which will be a bit of work.

Last night, we gamed and it was a hell of a lot of fun as my character tried to talk another character into bed and finally gave a speech I've been holding in reserve for over a month. It went okay, but then last night, I had a dream (which is weird, because I very rarely remember my dreams anymore).

It was like watching a cop show or movie or something, only I'm simultaneously in it and watching it. And as I'm locked in a cop car (maybe arrested for something I didn't do), the serial killer (played by a really creepy John Lithgow) appears and start head-butting the car window, cracking it. At which point efamar, trapped outside the car with the killer, says something like, "the killer's skin is really soft!," which provokes this terrified "ew!" from the audience, because he's like Hannibal Lecter: refined and probably moisturized and manicured and smelling really civilized, and yet absolutely fucking bestial, his lips bleeding where's he's chewing on them in his frenzy to kill anyone who gets in his way. And that's all I remember.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Daily Grind

Wow, hard to believe that it's been almost a month and a half since I posted here. Just goes to show how much mental effort goes into the daily postings over at Hero Go Home.

The daily Run, Digger, Run! serial experiment is not going as well as hoped. I have a couple of daily readers, but there has been no build. What's more, it's a lot more work than I anticipated.

Because it's a lot more than just writing 500 words a day. I have to write the daily episode (and because I set myself the challenge of making each episode 500 words, no more and no less, I have to massage the episode until the length is right). Then I post it, write intros and outros and add the social icons and Twitter feed. Then I add the image header, which changes every day (and manually change the size in HTML); I make up the set once a week, using Inkscape and GIMP. And now I'm having to remember to pull out a small quote for emphasis, as well.

Then I have to open up the previous entry to pull the first episode link to paste in the current episode. After I publish the episode, I copy the link address and put in a "continue to next episode" link in the previous entry. And after all that, I have to change the slideshow on the main page. It's a long process for what ends up being a couple minutes' worth of reading for two people.

But I press on. And I'm trying to come up with more ways to make money. I'm putting together a new, better (I hope) cover for Death Wave to put on the paperback edition (with perhaps a special bonus story for added value). And I have some other projects in the works as well, but with all the work I've committed to on Run, Digger, Run!, everything else is moving very slowly.