Thursday, January 28, 2021

Reading, Writing, and Rhythms

So I'm still working on the new, new story -- the one from the dream. I have no real idea why this one in particular has decided to occupy my brain, but okay: it's here, and it's getting written, and that's a damned sight more progress than I've felt like I was making in a loooooong while. Why fight it?

Meanwhile, I finished re-reading Space Opera -- and it was everything I remembered and more -- and started in on This Is How You Lose The Time War. (Links and other recs can be found here.) 

The boys appear to be keeping up with their schoolwork, and Beautiful Wife is getting into the rhythm of her semester, and I have four or five major projects about to fall on my head but that happens sometimes. The timing's going to be interesting and it's going to be a lot of work, but nothing that can't be done. 

There are other things going on -- there always are -- but they're not really mine to talk about here, so I shan't. Take care of yourselves and be good to each other; it's still a big, scary world out there.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Functioning Adult

 So we're into the last week of January, and I'm doing my best to keep everything moving as Beautiful Wife gets her semester going. (They started a bit later than usual this year.) I'm working from home as much as I can: between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and -- oh yes! -- the previous Administration's absolute lack of a plan (and possibly even supplies) for the vaccine, I am trying to be as cautious as possible. And honestly, that's probably still not cautious enough. 

On Saturday, my two new laptops arrived. Which would have been awesome, except they weren't mine. The one I ordered arrived two weeks ago. These two... just showed up. With my address on the delivery label, but two very different addresses on their packing slip. One was meant to go to Delaware, the other to somewhere in New York; why they got sent to North Texas I cannot imagine. But I spoke to Dell and got some return labels on Monday, and yesterday I handed them off to a shipping company to make their way back. 

This week has -- so far, at least -- decided to be absurdly, hideously busy; despite working from home and the boys being busy with school, my interruptions have had interruptions. Which is not to say that things aren't getting done; they are, the things I intended to do and the unintended alike. But it's stressful as fuck, and by the end of the day I feel drained. 

Fortunately, I'm taking next Monday and Tuesday off. I love you, Out Of Office message on my email. Never leave me...

As I forecast last Wednesday, I'm re-reading Space Opera and it's everything I remembered and more; I am honestly somewhat in love with the book. And I know it's going to break me in half as I get closer to the end, and honestly I'm kind of looking forward to it. 

Meanwhile I'm getting people up on time and sometime tomorrow I need to pull the disposal off the kitchen sink and find out why it's jammed -- or, if I can't find the problem, just replace it -- and still be at my computer doing a full-time day's worth of work while making sure the boys are staying focused on their school. In other words, I need to be a functioning adult. And I am, I'm just starting to worry about how long I can keep this up. 2020 was a succession of intertangled nightmares; 2021 seems to be scaling back on some of the horrors (he says cautiously, and with some reservations) but so far it's been unrelenting in a way that I'd very much hoped we were done with. 

There are more horrors ahead, and more mundane stress and drama, so take care of yourselves and take care of each other. The best way through is together.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Unexpected Story

 So I woke up Sunday morning out of a perfectly ridiculous dream that went back and forth between a sort of modern-world road trip and this very Seventies high-fantasy/science fiction blend of a story. (Think John Carpenter or Gor or other things along those lines.) I was deeply disappointed to realize that I couldn't just go back and re-read that story or re-watch the move the version of it. 

So in the hour or so between a family crisis and prepping for the DnD game for Firstborn and his friends, I sat down and outlined as much of it as I remembered, and then wrote the first page to really anchor the setting in my head. (I'd have gone longer, but I ran out of time.) 

I have no idea whether this represents a new project that I'm now also working on, or whether I've managed to capture enough of it that I can set it aside and get back to my theoretically-current project, but it's been a long time since the Muse snuck up and smacked me on the back of the head with a rubber fish like that. I think I actually miss it.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Still not doing entirely well

Apparently, despite my efforts to get enough sleep and shove my schedule back onto regular hours, I'm still not quite on point. Again, I don't seem to be sick, exactly -- and I've been working from home since Thanksgiving, because I'm in Texas and the pandemic numbers here are the stuff of nightmares -- just run down to the point of almost sick.

I say this because I got to the end of the workday yesterday, toddled over to the couch, and then just lay down and passed out on it for a couple of hours. This wasn't my plan, and it wasn't anything I'd been expecting to do. And I've noticed a couple of other little things that tend to indicate that my immune system has kind of bottomed out. 

All the more reason to be cautious, I suppose. 

Again, no indication of being actually sick: no fever, no headache, no muscle aches, no sore throat, no brain fog. A bit of stuffiness, but that's absolutely typical for this time of year. And I do have energy, it just sort of suddenly ran out on me. 

Honestly, I think a lot of it is just stress. I mean counting back by Wednesdays, we have: an attempted insurrection on the first Wednesday of the year, a Round Two of Articles of Impeachment on the second Wednesday, and the Inauguration this past Wednesday. At this point, I'm frankly terrified of what next Wednesday will bring; if it's the rise of the Great Old Ones and the utter destruction of the Earth and everything on it, I won't be surprised. 

And there are some reasons to be hopeful. I mean yes, it looks as though the incoming administration is essentially going to have to rebuild the federal government from the ground up, and there's no plan (and possibly no supplies) for dealing with the pandemic. But on the other hand, the new Executive Branch has a lot of experience with how things are supposed to work, and they don't seem to be hamstringing themselves by holding out in hopes of achieving some sort bipartisan cooperation. I'm sure there'll be plenty of things to criticize, but this probably about the best we could reasonably hope for. 

So I'm going to take today about the same way I took yesterday: cautiously, getting things done but not pushing myself. Hopefully that'll give my body a chance to rebuild some reserves (both physically and mentally) without falling behind. 

And if I have any leftover energy after that, I'm writing.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Writing Process: Starting a New Project

I said, back at the beginning of the year, that I was thinking about starting a new writing project, then added it to my list of 2021 aspirations. I haven't made a lot of progress since then, mainly because things have been, um, fraught and I've been both busy and exhausted. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's given me some time to think about the character, the world, the lesser and greater antagonists, and the various struggles and sources of conflict available. 

So I figured I'd start making some notes here about the world, the concept, and the writing process. 

The concept: Well, more or less, "What if Hogwarts but with more monsters and monster-kissing?"

The basics: The structure of the story is going to be a very simple. I expect to be writing in the third person, and sticking to a single point-of-view as much as possible. Nothing complicated; experimental formats can wait for some other project. 

The protagonist: I have a name for him now; he's Darian Silver. He's a fourteen-year-old boy, and when the story opens he's living in a small village on the edge of the empire, beside the Shadowfall Forest. He's spent the last year getting into trouble because things keep happening around him, and he's hoping that going to study at a school of magic will put him in an environment where people are better-equipped to deal with that (and maybe even help him with it).

The setting: Done right, the school will be as much of a character as any of the characters. I'm still filling in a lot of the details -- including its proper name -- but my working title for it is the Shadow Academy. It will have something like Hogwarts houses, though they may be closer to the fraternities and sororities I remember from college; it may be possible to remain independent. Again, still working all that out. And there are things going on outside the school, larger conflicts that will shape the setting and the story but aren't immediately apparent to our protagonist. 

So yeah, that's where I am. And I'm damned glad to be here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Blogging Challenge: Childhood Collections/Books To Get Me Through

For the last two years, I've been taking part in the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. I've had a great deal of fun with it, so naturally I'm continuing it this year. If you'd like to participate, follow that first link for the list of prompts, and then check the main site for the weekly post with links to everyone's responses (and add your own link, if you're so inclined). 

Today's prompt is "something I collected as a child" but honestly, aside from "toys" I literally can't think of anything. Nothing that I just collected for the pure pleasure of owning and looking at. And also, the world's still on fire and it's stressing me out. (I hope and expect that we'll be seeing an inauguration shortly after this goes up, but at this point I would not be surprised to see an attempt at assassination or insurrection instead.) So instead, I'm going off the rails on this one, and I'm going to put together a list of books to help get me through until the world is less of a collection of crises built on top of crises atop a foundation of disasters. 

Every single one of these is a re-read, something I'll be going back to when I just don't have it in me to take in something new.

She-Wolf and Cub, Lilith Saintcrow. This one, I'm reading right now. Highly cyberpunk take on the old Lone Wolf and Cub movies and manga; extremely violent and rather dark, but also a lot of fun. I was talking about it recently and decided that it deserved a re-read, and I don't regret a thing.

Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente. Eurovision in Space, with the fate of humanity dependent on the performance of the remaining members of Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes, a band of broken and struggling people well past their moment of fame. Alternately hilarious, heartbreaking, and uplifting, this book broke me in the best possible way. 

This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I don't even know how to describe this one. It's an epistolary romance; it's a time-traveling adventure; it's a war story. This book also broke me in the best possible ways, and I love it.

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. A young prince living on an isolated manor suddenly finds himself ascending to the throne, and sets out to rule with fairness and kindness. The book is basically competence porn, and it's amazing. 

Normally I'd throw Murderbot and Jennifer Crusie titles on here too, but I literally just finished re-reading Murderbot and I've re-read my favorite Crusie books within the last couple of years; I'm not ready to head back to either of those options quite so soon. Oh, and somewhere in there I need to read the second Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse book, Terminal Uprising. (These are also fun and funny, and I highly recommend them -- especially if the second book turns out to be even half as much fun as the first. Space battles, alien mysteries, and unlikely heroes.)

So, if you did the blogging challenge right, what did you collect as a child? And if you feel like it, tell us what books you'd recommend to help us all get through this ugly first bit of 2021.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Weird Dreams part whichever

 I used to do these a lot more, but then I think I used to get enough solid hours of sleep a lot more often too. It's been a while, but I finally managed to grab a four-hour nap this weekend. And man, the dreams were weird. 

Many of my dreams are what I think of stress-dreams, where I'm trying to get somewhere on time and I'm running late. Usually a lot of things go wrong, which may also include some parenting elements: e.g. the kids have wandered off, I don't have my luggage ready, etc. This one went welllllll beyond all that. 

I mean, yes, in fact we were driving to the airport and in fact we were running late, and in fact we'd just discovered that there were only five minutes between now -- us on the road -- and the time when boarding would start. No real other background details, like where I was flying to or where we were; somewhere vaguely desert or scrubland. 

And then, as we were crossing over a river on a bridge, a big hole opened up in the ground and all sorts of giant kaiju and other monsters came out and started smashing buildings, eating people, overturning cars... very apocalyptic, and there was a bit of running and hiding and trying to avoid notice. After a bit we turned up at some sort of big shelter -- I had my wife with me, or at least a wife -- which turned out to be some sort of Apocalypse Coordination Center. Except, y'know, for all the things that were destroying the world. 

And by showing up there, I'd somehow designated myself as the one responsible for trying to kill the monster who would be destroying my little corner of the world. This was best done here, while they were in human form taking a break. Mine was dressed as a pilot, very snappy, with little decorations on his coat and everything. He turned into some sort of evil airplane -- which I suppose brought the dream full circle -- but I only got a glimpse of it; I'm not sure how it was supposed to destroy its section of the world. I killed him by finding his weakness: the fancy silver pin that he'd gotten for getting his pilot's license. So... yay me? If one little section of the world survives, it's because I saved it.

(Presumably other people were responsible for other sections, but that didn't stop me from trying to murder at least one other monster before I woke up.)

So yeah, that's what my dreams are like, when I have them.

Friday, January 15, 2021


 Urgh. I really hoped to take today off, but I keep looking at my list and I have too many Things To Do. 

...Though if I can get the two big ones done, I might blow some comp time and take the afternoon  off. I'm just... not sick, exactly, just full of that weird feeling you get when you're run down and it would be very easy to become sick. I was reading The Myth of the Lost Cause because it seemed like a good thing to brush up right now, and then had to put it back down because it was just too on point. So I've switched back to comfort stuff: re-reading The Murderbot Diaries, re-playing the old inFamous games, and desperately hoping that I'll get it together enough to make some real progress on this new writing project. 

Physically and emotionally, I'd like to just... hibernate for a little while.

Either that, or have a really good cry.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rags and Bones

 Bob's a skeleton now. I mean, he's still working in the server room, making sure the routers are connecting smoothly, and he was a big help with that firewall issue two days ago, but still...

He's a skeleton now. 

Janet says she doesn't mind having the tentacles coming out of her back, really. She just wishes they'd quit refiling things when she isn't looking. It's not just annoying, it's starting to cause real problems with the invoices. 

And Don... Don's just a pool of shadow sliding across the floor now, but somehow he can still talk and work a telephone, so he's basically good. Better than Dave, anyway. Dave's just a bundle of rags. How he's supposed to configure systems when he's just draped over a keyboard like that, I don't know. 

Lisa says she went the classic route: she's a giant cockroach now. Just woke up that way a couple of days ago. No idea why. 

2021 is off to one hell of a start, y'all. I'm afraid to look in the mirror.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Blogging Challenge: Top Five Places

For the last two years, I've been taking part in the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. I've had a great deal of fun with it, so naturally I'm continuing it this year. If you'd like to participate, follow that first link for the list of prompts, and then check the main site for the weekly post with links to everyone's responses (and add your own link, if you're so inclined). 

Today's prompt is "five best places I've visited". I wish I'd given myself more time to prep this one, because I might have been able to come up with some photos. Oh, well. 

5. Matamoros, Mexico. I was about twelve, and I don't remember too much of it; this was back in the eighties. What I do remember is that the area we were in had the feel of a bazaar, with all sorts of strange little shops selling all sort of different things. (I bought myself one of those switchblade combs, probably for a lot more than it was worth.) Mind you, I'm not sure I'd recommend this one on its overall merits -- a lot may have changed in the years since I was there, and a lot of the appeal probably comes from the simple fact that at that age visiting Mexico was a grand adventure -- but I still remember it fondly. 

4. Florence, Italy. This was during one of two study abroad trips that I did in college, and we had a large dinner at a very nice restaurant -- after which I realized that I'd eaten so much that there was no way I could go to sleep. So, I wound spending most of the evening practicing my Spanish with a bunch of Italians on the Ponte Vecchio

3. Chartres Cathedral, France. (Same trip.) The architecture is gorgeous and the crypt is very cool; but it was the labyrinth that really stuck with me. I really want to work that into a story someday.

2. Sewanee, Tennessee. It's a college town, so it's nearly impossible to talk about it without also talking about The University of the South -- but in addition to the University it's set in the middle of some of the last real Wilderness left in the United States. Step off one of the hiking trails, and you're gone. It's within easy walking distance of any number of caves, cliffs, waterfalls, and various combinations of such things. The University has some lovely gothic architecture, including a carillon

1. York, England. (That same study abroad trip.) Lovely city, liked the people, and I still have some postcards from the Jorvik Viking Centre.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Duendewood: Through the portal-tent, to GLORY!

 We open by reviewing our plan and what we expect to find inside the extradimensional space inside the tent.

The dark army is now divided into the Hierophant's army in Wellfort, and Maodeus' army elsewhere; we suspect the other end is anchored in Wellfort.

Memories, Thoughts, and Secrets are the main ranks; Kaz Drachma is a Vision, something like a Cardinal; he serves Malefar. Drachma can stop time.

We buff ourselves as best we can: False Life, Mage Armor, Shield, Death Ward, etc. We also leave bits of ourselves behind in labelled bags, so we can be brought back to life if needed.

Geddy opens the tent flap and we find ourselves in a banquet hall. There's one wizard who seems to be in charge, and two apprentices who are rushing around setting out food. Geddy strolls into the tent and hops onto one of the tables: "All right motherfuckers! If any of you fuckers move, I'm gonna execute every fucking one of you!"

They are surprised... and intimidated, at least the two apprentices. "Oh, shit! It must be one of Kaz Drachma's tests." The wizard spits his drink all over the table.

Azrael steps in behind Geddy and immolates the wizard with a scorching ray. Martini steps in next, bow at the ready, and drops the two apprentices. Martini: "Are we done here?"

There's a side door, and a hallway; the door sounds like there's a kitchen on the other side. Geddy opens the door, and Azrael blasts the kitchen.

We approach the hall, and Geddy hears some commotion down at the far end - somebody talking about conjuring, possibly lessons. Eva (the young gold dragon and Geddy's best friend) heads down the corridor to keep us covered.

The rest of us follow, checking side-rooms as we go. It seems to be empty bedrooms, until a door opens just in front of Eva and she pounces on an acolyte and rips her apart. Ruin does a quick check of the room and comes up with a bag full of 1,000 gp. Geddy hold off to stand guard with Eva. Eva takes the corpse and tosses it in a bedroom. Azrael does a quick smash-and-grab on another bedroom, and pulls a bag of coins off the top of the dresser. 120 PP in his bag. Martini searches through the bedroom she opened, and yanks a wand out of a roll of cloth on the bed. It's a Wand of Suggestion (47 of 50 charges) (10575 gp). Ruin tries the next bedroom, and comes up with a couple of scrolls:
Arcane Scroll (Animal Trance (200 gp)) (total 200 gp)
Arcane Scroll (Hold Portal (25 gp), Cat's Grace (150 gp), Mirror Image (150 gp)) (total 325 gp).

Geddy moves a little way down a side-corridor, whence he hears some sort of gutteral/bestial sounds; the corridor to the south definitely sounds like magic class. He reaches cross-corridor without encountering anyone else. There are a couple of staircases (descending) off to the side up ahead; the classroom sounds are hard to pinpoint and seem to be coming from everywhere. Ruin pads silently down the hall, while Azrael is just clumping along and smacks his staff into the wall. Azrael: "I forgot I had a staff!"

On the side-passage, Geddy opens the door, finding a laboratory on the other side; there's a door on the far side, and the bestial sounds are coming from beyond that. Geddy sets up to clear the room. "I can't believe Sophia gets kitchen duty," says a voice. "She's the worst student in our class!"
"I know!" replies another voice. "And we're stuck here mucking the stables!"

Azrael, meanwhile, has stepped a bit closer and it looks like we're on a passage around a sunken classroom; the sounds are coming up through a series of regularly-spaced stairwells. He identifies the incantations for blindness, and a lecture for how it will allow you to better see the Universe once your sight is gone. Gods, they're pairing up to practice on each other.

Azrael creeps a bit closer. Ruin slips up behind him.

Martini goes over the laboratory, mainly finding an assortment of fine gemstones and other components; the value is 5,000 GP. Eva slides up behind Geddy, and the two of them use a book-case to block the door. The apprentices on the far side are still complaining: "Why do I have to clean the centipede's cave?"
"You're knew. I get the beetles, you get the centipede."

Azrael hears about a dozen people cast Blind, but he decides to wait until the rest of the party gets here. Lecturer: "Do you feel your other senses grow stronger in the absence of sight? The Lord of Secrets will always fill your minds with truth. Approach the goat!"

There's a certain amount of shouting back and forth as blind people bump into each other, and a couple of "Mine didn't work! Hey!"

Azrael steps to the top of the stairs. There are wizardly statues, ominous braziers, and a bunch of hapless acolytes in front of their teacher. Azrael: "I'm going to turn you into toast! Or in your case, a loaf of toast!"

All but one of the acolytes die instantly; Martini kills him. Ruin just shrugs. Geddy raises the corpses as skeletons, and calls the skeletons from last session to join us.

Azrael slips down into the unhallowed training room. Ruin follows him across, as does Martini; the find another passage on the far side, and some voices that sound like a pair of orcs playing poker.

Azrael moves a bit farther forwards, and finds another passage with a door on one end; we can hear a couple of half-orcs playing poker on the far side. Ruin opens the door, intending to say, "Deal me in!" but freezes at the prospect of talking to strangers.

Geddy moves up next to Ruin, and Azrael lets loose with a scorching ray. One of the half-orcs now has a massive burn across his entire back, and looks badly injured; Martini slips past and finishes him.

Ruin moves in and attacks the second half-orc, injuring him; Eva continues guarding our back, and the half-orc rages and tries to attack Ruin, but to no effect. Geddy moves around and fires off a crossbow bolt. Azrael adds a magic missile, and Martini tumbles past to flank him, and stabs him to death. Rogues with partners to help them flank are the best rogues. Treasure from the half-orcs totals 2,000 GP.

We move up to join Eva, having cleared everything between here and the way we came in. Ruin opens the next door, and we find outselves in an antechamber looking at another door.

We ready our final set of buffs, then Geddy steps out onto the ledge and starts singing. Two hulking corpses lumber up the stairs, and the two half-or guards disappear through the far door in a storm of alarums and excursions.

Geddy drops Grease on the steps. Azrael fires off a scorching ray at one of the hulking corpses. The corpses reach the landing, and utterly fail to notice Martini who is invisible. She slips past them and over the railing, ninja-style, and goes to look at the door. There's a bunch of grunting coming beyond the door.

Ruin slices one of the corpses, but it looks more irritated than damaged. Azrael tags it with an empowered scorching ray.

Ruin rages, and Geddy drops some additional rage in the form of a spell; the two corpses attack Ruin, but only hit him once.

Martini opens the door, and sees a hallway leading to a bunch of doors; the orcs are running and shouting. Martini screams down the hallway after them, then props the door open and retreats.

Ruin also screams, and chops at the living corpse for a ridiculous amount of berserk damage and cuts it in half. Geddy fires off a couple of crossbow shots at the ont that's still up.

The remaining corpse moves in to attack Ruin, but disdains to attack and instead grabs Ruin and tries to rip him in half. Ruin, still raging, tears himself loose.

Martini stabs the corpse as she comes up beside it.

Eva: "Uncle Geddy, is everything okay?"

Geddy: "We may need your help!"

Eva moves up and cures Ruin; Geddy follows suit with his cure light wounds wand. Azrael throws a Scorching Ray and finishes the thing. Meanwhile, Martini can hear something that sounds like gorillas bounding down the hall. She and Ruin both withdraw up the hallway; Eva follows suit and heals Ruin again.

A wizard races into the room, flanked by a couple of bodyguards. Geddy drops a Rainbow Pattern into the room to slow them down, leaving two Girallons fascinated by the pretty lights. Geddy: "Come and get me, ya fuckers!"

Azrael withdraws, muttering about how he'd like to kill something instead, and also how death is the next great adventure.

The Secret of Vecna casts an area Dispel Magic, and utterly fails to dismiss either the grease or the rainbow pattern.

The Girallons bound over the railings, skipping past the Grease spell on the steps. Geddy is expecting this; he disengages to move back, then casts Mirror Image from a scroll. Azrael drops Grease behind us, and keeps running.

Various undead move in to support the Vision of Vecna. Martini retreats, following her brother; Ruin follows, hanging back as a rear guard.

The first girallon hits the grease, slips, and falls; the second one bounds over him as the third comes up behind them. More bad guys are pouring into the room behind them.

Eva looks at the girallons and breathes fire all over them, though not to as much effect as she'd hoped. Eva retreats, moving up ahead of the rest of us.

The Secret of Vecna casts Haste on all the nearby undead, then has one of the ogres toss him over the railing. Geddy flees.

Various undead are starting to try to catch up with us, and more monsters are coming up behind.

Martini runs for the far door. Ruin follows. Grease takes down another girallon. Some mercs, another Secret, and some bodyguards run in.

Geddy attempts to use the Animal Fascination on the Girallons, holding them in place. Two people bamf into the middle of the unhallowed temple; one of them is Sasha. Geddy: "Time to bounce, motherfuckers!"

Azrael casts Mislead, and both he and his illusionary mirror image retreat. It is definitely time for us to go.

Martini, who is invisible, races for the door and tells Rita that we're on our way. Ruin follows a bit more slowly, since Geddy, Azrael, and Eva are still in danger. Geddy uses his charmed Girallons to grab the nearest Blaspheme. The mercs come forward, some getting stuck in the grease and some making it through.

Eva is now very worried about her uncle Geddy, so she yells: "Uncle Geddy, are you okay?"

Geddy: "All good, baby!"

Sasha: "GEDDY???"

Wizard in Purple: "You know this insect?"

Sasha: "No. My former self knew him."

Geddy casts Haste, buffing himself, Azrael, and Eva. He then retreats.

Sasha: "I'll get the gnome!"

Kas Drachma: "I'll get them all!"

Sasha charges and attacks Geddy, doing... not nearly as much damage as he could. Kas Drachma, the Wizard in Purple, does something... and things just kind of freeze for a moment.

...And then Geddy is Dominated. Eva, fortunately, is not. Kaz Drachma tries to kill Azrael, but only tags his image; he now knows he was tricked. He also attempts to Power Word Stun Eva, but fails. He takes off in pursuit of the rest of us.

Azrael follows him, and tags Kaz Drachma with Disintegrate for 95 points of damage... and kills him.

More creatures and mercs are coming in; we really need to go. Ruin holds, waiting for the other to catch up before he runs. Eva squeezes past the Blaspheme and grabs Geddy, who flails at her with his hands. The Blaspheme hits her, doing some regular damage and some strength damage; unfortunately, she's also dazed.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Ugh. What a week.

The boys are back in school, I'm back at work, people have flown to Washington DC for a lovely morning of insurrection and treason with drinks in the lounge afterwards, and frankly I'm every bit as discombobulated as I expected to be -- but hoped not to be -- at this point. 

So... music? Music.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

I have absolutely nothing useful to say this morning.

Really. Just, nothing. 

Except that there need to be consequences for what happened yesterday. Every congressperson who encouraged it? Ejected. Everyone who broke into the building? Arrested. 

I'm already seeing some bullshit that it was secret Antifa infiltrators who did the damage. This is abjectly, glaringly false, but from a deterrence perspective it doesn't really matter. The fascist rioters who broke into the capital building were taking selfies on their cell phones. The evidence is right there. Arrest them, without fear or favor. Several gave their names on the air. Arrest them. If they were Antifa, arrest them. (They weren't - several of these figures are well-known and well-document in right wing circles, easily identified in the photos.) If they weren't antifa, arrest. 

Find out why the cops let this happen. Everyone who enabled it? Arrest them. Prosecute them. I'm seeing it spun as a "failure of security" but it wasn't; it was deliberate, malicious negligence. BLM protests, and there are riot police marching over people, shoving them down hard enough to cause brain damage. Right-wing MAGA mob? They just stepped back. Why? Because the knife doesn't cut its handle. 

There have to be consequences, or this will happen again and the next time it'll be worse.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Why This Report May Be Late

I'm trying to write up a description of part of our business process, but what with everything going on right now it's starting to look like: 

  1. Invoice arrives in the AP mailbox. Also, armed protestors have shown up in downtown DC. 
  2.  AP Clerks import invoice into workflow, and the invoice is assigned to them. Also, the rioters are breaking into the capitol building. 
  3. Holy shit, the police are just walking away and letting them do it. Also, AP Clerks send invoices to departments for approval. 
  4. I'm afraid to look. 
So yeah, the write-up is taking a little longer than I expected. I blame extensive domestic terrorism.

Blogging Challenge: Goals

For the last two years, I've been taking part in the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. I've had a great deal of fun with it, so naturally I'm continuing it this year. If you'd like to participate, follow that first link for the list of prompts, and then check the main site for the weekly post with links to everyone's responses (and add your own link, if you're so inclined). 

Today's prompt is simply "Goals for 2021".

I don't do New Year's Resolutions as such, but I do have some goals for this year. 

Get back in shape. 2020 was not kind to my physique, but at my age it really isn't about losing weight; while I'd like to do that too, the main things I want to make sure I'm repairing/maintaining are flexibility and cardio. That means a stretching routine, and that means getting extended-but-gentle exercise on a regular basis. Both of those things will be greatly aided by drinking less and getting more sleep. 

Work Goals. I'm not going to discuss these in detail, but I work in IT (computer stuff). Mostly I'm responsible for a few particular systems, but I keep getting handed these odd little issues that inevitably turn out to be major research projects. And I'm essentially self-taught; most of what I know, I learned by doing the job. (My actual degree is in English.) So this year, I'd like to get some actual training -- formal or informal -- and expand my skillset in some ways that might make everything easier over the long haul. 

Finish a novel. This has been an ongoing goal since The Great Unpublished Pulp Fantasy Novel from years ago, but it's been complicated by being a parent to two boys, both with ADHD, and by holding down a full-time job. I do a good job of keeping everybody else on schedule, but trying to squeeze in some quiet, uninterrupted writing time at a point in the day when I still have some energy to do it? Ha. Ha ha ha. But, as I mentioned yesterday, I've recently gotten it in mind to drop the project that I've been trying to do for the last couple of years, and instead work on something different; and the boys are finally old enough that I can maybe build some writing time into my schedule without everything else going off the rails. 

So those are my main goals for the upcoming year, and I am cautiously optimistic about them. How about you? What are yours, and how are you feeling about moving towards them?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

First Day Back

So yesterday was the first workday of 2021, and I'd be lying if I said I was ready for it. I'm not. I mean, I am valiantly attempting to be a responsible adult here, but that's a lot of hard work. 

Still, I've got the boys more or less on schedule (I hope) and if we can just get a few other things to fall into place, we can probably heave a great sigh of relief and settle back to... Oh, who am I kidding? By then something else will have come up. 

Runoff elections are happening in Georgia today, with one party on the side of "everybody get out and vote" and the other party on the side of "democracy is bad if we don't win" and I just... I am so fucking sick of the whole thing. Like, every time I think we've got shit settled, 2020 rises back up like the serial killer in an 80s horror movie: I mean sure, you shot him fourteen times and pushed him out a fourth floor window, but the body isn't down there on the lawn any more. I need the Republican party to take the advice that people were so gleefully giving me after the 2016 election: You lost! Get over it! 

...And I can't believe that I feel like that rebuke needs to be given to the fucking President of the goddam United States of America, but here we are. 

We were supposed to play D&D last night, but we wound up postponing for a week; apparently I'm not the only one who's having trouble getting back into a work schedule and getting his shit together in general. Which is probably a good thing for my sleep schedule, but gods it would have been therapeutic to go around smacking bad guys with an imaginary sword. 

Meanwhile, I've switched story projects again -- or I think I have. I wrote about three pages on the new idea, and while that was a couple of days ago and I'm not going to end up using any of what I wrote, it helped me see what didn't work and what didn't really hold my attention, which gives me a better feel for what direction I want to go. 

The old project, at its heart, featured a maze-like city (based very loosely on Rome) of high walls and narrow streets, in a world where magic is a language and the air carries an ecosystem as complex as the land and sea do. The protagonist was a twenty-something whose powers were directly connected to the curse that had overtaken the city. 

The new project is sort of "Harry Potter but for monsters" concept. The protagonist is a young man --  about fourteen, I think -- who's developing dark powers that he doesn't entirely control, and as a result gets sent off to magic school under the theory that they should be better equipped to deal with him. 

Honestly, when I write it out that simply, they don't sound all that different (and there are definitely some similarities) but the key difference -- for me as a writer -- isn't so much in the concept as it is that right now I have at least a half-dozen conflicting ideas about what I want to do with the first project, whereas for new project I have a much cleaner idea of what drives the overall conflicts and how it all works. So in theory, all I need now is time and energy to write it. (Ha!)

So that's my start on 2021: I've successfully gotten everyone else up and ready to go -- as much as anyone can be, anyway -- our political situation still sucks, and I have a new writing project that I'm feeling darkly optimistic about. How are the rest of you holding up?