Of course, along with the car eating the brakes - and the discovery that a spark-plug cylinder had to be replaced - a couple of creditors chose right now to get nasty. Oh, it's my fault - I have a tendency to lose bills - but the timing leaves something to be desired. Unfortunately, Astound has me by the short hairs, because if they cut me off, I lose phone, cable and internet service. Oops. Alex and I will make it through, barely. Thank god I didn't go get my birthday-tattoo, otherwise we would be in trouble, it's that close.
Meanwhile, the waste-disposal has packed up and the vacuum cleaner is coughing up furballs not un-reminiscent of the cat - as in the hairballs are the size of the cat... Fortunately, both situations can likely be fixed with a well-applied coat hanger. Still, trouble does seem to enjoy saving itself up around here, and its timing is just lovely.
I had taken today off, initially in anticipation of getting ready for SteinCorp Station, but that event has been rescheduled to September 15th, so I decided to dedicate the day to cleaning - vacuum and waste disposal notwithstanding. I am happy to report that we no longer have a bucket full of cutlery on the floor - where it had been placed because there was no room in the sink. All that's left is one rather frosting-encrusted cake-holder and a couple of wine glasses where before there was one of the premier fungi-farms on the west coast...
So, remember a few months ago, two of my
married friends split up, and I was ready to go burn The Woman at the stake
- mostly because of how she had treated The Husband, The Other Man and, to a
lesser degree, myself and Alex? Well, she wrote to me the other day, asking
why - if the rumor that she had heard was true - I was mad at her. I hemmed
and hawed for a bit, and let her have it. I didn't call her names, I just
gave her my opinion, and my perceptions of her actions, in rather blunt
language. Her response was about what I expected - justifications, some
clarifications and otherwise a lot of point-dodging.
But I realized that, while I'm still vexed at her for trampling all over the feelings over several people during her 'search for herself', I'm not particularly angry any more. I'm a bit weary, a lot unsurprised, and generally just tired of the situation. God only knows how the people who are really involved in all this feel...
She wants us to be buddies, it seems. Do I want to be her friend again? I don't think so. I've had a strong feeling that I was never really a friend of hers. I was part of her social clique, certainly, but there's something about her - a lack of empathy, I think - that made true closeness impossible. Understand, I've felt this way about her since before her marriage melted down and she went crazy.
Can I at least be civil to her in a social situation? I think so. One can be righteously outraged on behalf of one's friends for only so long. If The Other Man and The Husband (they still aren't divorced) want to continued carrying a grudge, then they're free to. They don't need my help.
It makes me a little sad. I've always tried to be a friendly person - if not always 'nice'. My guilty conscience likes to make mutterings that if I can't be someone's friend, then it must be my fault. But I don't think that's possible. Not yet. It doesn't help that Alex is still definitely closer to 'flamingly-pissed' than I am. Sure, sure, we're different people and entitled to differing opinions, but there's also the need to accommodate one's nearest-and-dearest's feelings in a situation. If I had been very close to The Other Woman before this meltdown happened...well, I probably wouldn't have even been vexed at her in the first place, but as it is...Alex is feeling wounded, so why so I go consorting with an enemy whom I'm not terribly fond of?
Still, it does rather shoot my policy of letting negative energy go in the foot. I'll let go of this eventually - I've already shed a lot of it. But the time just isn't right, yet.
After housecleaning, I thought Oooh, now I can do a little sewing. Why don't I pick up that half-finished skirt and take care of that? I couldn't find the instructions, which were rather important, as it's got some tricky things that have to be done to the placket. Alright then, why don't I get cracking on that corset I've been promising myself? I remembered I still needed to preshrink the fabric - and a corset is a garment that you don't skimp the preshrinking with. Alright, I guess I'll cut those skirts for the Vodacce dress pattern, although that's not quite the light-and-easy task I had in mind. Whilst I was looking for my fabric shears (as opposed to the three other pairs of scissors I have lying around) Tigger burrowed under the fabric and he looked so cute, I didn't want to disturb him. Alright, so I was looking for an excuse not to do that task, what of it.
I've figured out buttonholes! Yippee! Whole new vistas are open to me!
SteinCorp Station has been rescheduled, which pushes our playership up from nine to sixteen! A couple of players realized, at the last minute, that they would rather go to GenCon, so off they went. I'm just glad they told me. Now I've got a problem that certain players who have had their roles re-cast are now going to be at the game, but they're a flexible bunch. I'm sure something can be worked out. And I've got more time to work on costuming, yay!
Meanwhile, Alex got bitten by the Inspiration Pixie and he's been gleefully re-writing Fear Stalks Whitechapel. We're still looking at a two-day event, but with some major changes to plot and temporal setting. Day One is now set at shortly after the inquest of the fifth ripper victim, and Day Two is set one hundred years later, at a 'reunion' of descendants of Ripper alumni and various "Ripperologists". We're even thinking about having the PCs write an in-character 'diary' at the end of Day One, which will be given to their 'descendants' on Day Two. Mind you, they won't be playing their own descendant, so they'll have to be careful what they write...
For good or ill, I just barely finished my Nations of Thea: Vodacce review for Don at Blackgate. My self-esteem got all rattled and I had myself convinced I couldn't do it justice. But then my conscience pointed out how much grief Jennifer would give me if I let Don down and the very faint possibility that she would look bad as a result. That got my ass down in front of the computer in a hurry! I can deal with letting myself down, but not my friends, I guess. So the review was done, but it was long. Way long. I hacked at it as best I could, but the fucker won't budge from 800 words. Given that the deadline was, um, today, I just e-mailed it to Don with a mea culpa and a strong sense of faith in the notion that he's an editor and can probably do a right handy hatchet job on the thing. But at least I did it! I'm looking forward to reading the feature bit on Marrach that Jenn's writing for the 'zine, as I know she's worked like a slave on it. Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble near you!
And to prove that ideas come in clumps, I've been thinking about my much-kicked-about espionage larp idea. The idea has re-awoken lately because of that thing coming out from EA. It's a game that utilizes a lot of real-world websites (conspiracy theory stuff, mainly) and will send you instant messages, or voice-mails on your celphone, as a part of game play. It's a monthly subscriber thing that sounds so neat I had better avoid it like the plague, lest I start playing it and like it...
Anyways... that got me thinking about my best-case espionage larp: real-time, ongoing, over a large geographic area and utilizing as many of the silly tradecraft tricks as can be incorporated - dead-letter drops, cutouts, cryptography, etc. Of course, it's totally impractical - the players would have be compulsive nutballs to really get into the game, and I would need a plot that could accommodate PCs strewn across the bay area, over a long period of time. Forget it, logistically impossible.
Then I thought about my crowd-pleasing Killer game. I've run this game twice and it's been quite a hit - admittedly, there was a lot of booze at both of these parties, but I believe the game would go over well with a sober crowd. It's very simple: Everyone has something (a roll of microfilm, a map, a secret) and everyone wants something (that roll of microfilm, that map, that secret). It's a closed circle. Instead of toy-guns and chasing each other up and down corridors, every PC has a short history - they're a spy, a cop, a dilettante, an author - and equipment logical for that character to carry, mostly represented by cards. The CIA guy had a bunch of poisons and truth drugs, whereas the cop had body armor and a gun, and the author had a couple of antidotes and small knife for peeling fruit. When a character 'dies', a person has sixty seconds to roll the body before the 'hotel staff' (or whatever) arrive and remove the body. Game on is called, and merry hell breaks loose.
The fun part was definitely the poisons and antidotes. Contact poisons were small stickers that a player would try to discreetly place on something their target would touch. Ingestion poisons were skittle-candies that could be dropped in a drink. Antidotes were Pez and had to be eaten within so-many-seconds of exposure to save a character. Smart characters would trade items they had for antidotes - smarter yet, some hid their 'wanted item', so that it couldn't be taken off their dead body.
It was a blast. Well, I thought it was. So, I got to thinking... Run it with 'cells', so not every player knows every other player. Make the wanted things a little less tangible. Be more sparing with the goodies (poisons, truth drugs, etc). Stir in a cold-war setting and voila a fun little event to run at a convention. Mind you, most conventions take a very dim view to Killer games, even ones with character development and no toy guns. I think a little more work could turn it into a standalone one-day event, if kept within a certain geographic locale. It would require a lot of celphone time, and some juggling, to stick with the 'cell' idea...but it might work.
Now, if only I had more than two friends who were really into John LeCarre and the Cold War...
A pox on monthly
crankies. I've been stalking around the house feeling alternately euphoric,
mad as hell or weepy at the slightest sign of sentiment. I hate it. Hate it,
hate it, hate it. Alex, wise creature that he is, has taken to hiding in
whatever room I'm not occupying... Alright, so maybe it's not that
bad, but I think paranoia is rearing it's ugly head, too.
Three more days...three more days... I'll be sane again in three more days.
I'm still no closer to a resolution about what to tell The Woman, or how to tell it to her. Maybe I'll just send her the URL of the previous entry, but that's probably a sleazy thing to do. What the hell do I know? I'm not thinking straight right now, as it is.
Part of today's crankiness is attributable to my subconscious playing silly buggers this morning. I woke up ten minutes before the alarm and thought "Oh, I'll just have a nice little snuggle up to Alex until the alarm goes off," and promptly fell back asleep and dreamed that I had gotten up in a blisteringly foul mood and was picking a ferocious fight with Alex. Then the alarm went off. All bloody disorienting, I'll say...
I've been reading too many English books lately. Little-heard phrases are wending their way back into my vocabulary. I don't mind that so much, it's having to explain what those phrases mean to American listeners that's getting a little dull. My chain totally slipped the other day and I casually used the word porkypies in a conversation about a friend who is suspected of being a bit flexible with the truth. (Note for Americans: I think it's a remnant of Cockney slang: pork pies - lies). Bloody hell. I never used the phrase when I was in England. Why now?
Amusement du jour. Go over to Mapquest, type in a US address - I recommend 1000 5th Ave, NYC - and select 'aerial photo' after the street map comes up. Zoom all the way in. Spooky, huh? I found my house on the local map and decided that I'm never watering the back yard in my underwear, again... Still, there's something kinda nifty about counting buses out front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a picture snapped at 100,000 feet...
Y'know, for a pattern I cut nearly two years ago, the corset toile didn't fit nearly as poorly as anticipated... True enough, I no longer need to cut the hip one size smaller than the bust, but other than that, it all went rather well - although I need another pair of corset laces - I had forgotten that I had sacrificed my one pair for an Elizabethan bodice... The pattern is tops - the much-applauded Laughing Moon Victorian Corset pattern - and I'm all ready to forge ahead and make the final garment. For a change, it's going to be a strictly underwear piece - I've been eyeballing some lucious Edwardian dress patterns, lately - and, heck, it'll work as a strapless bra when needed...
Meanwhile, it's late summer, and we all know what that means, hereabouts! Renn Faire season! This weekend is the Scots Faire in Pittsburg, and I'm trying to round up a gang to go over there for a visit. Meanwhile, of course, the fabric stores are plume out of gauze-cotton - when they had bolts of it six weeks ago. Of course, I was broke then, too. However, I've got enough garb as an occasional-attendee. The one who really needs the help is Alex. Although I've found his b-day present in the Museum Replicas catalogue and it's something Faire-ish... The trick is going to be ordering it without his twigging on to what he's getting. He likes surprises, you see...
It's official. I'm nuts. I mean really nuts ("...they had to take her away in an ambulance and everything. She's okay now, but I think she had to transfer to an easier school..." - place that quote!). I'll just tinker together some notes for that Network 23 game idea, I thought. No harm in that. It'll be a neat mental exercise, if naught else. So I wrote a few notes. And jotted down a game idea. And doodled out an approximate copy of the Zik Zak logo. And put up a web site for the notes-so far. And doodled down an idea for a second game. And realized that I really should write up some more notes, particularly about private sponsorship of public enterprise, and the socio-economic situation of the Fringers and maybe the health-care system and what about source-footage verification...
You know how it is. One. Little. Idea.
I swear, these bright ideas are going to kill me.
Meanwhile, Don sent me his feedback of the Vodacce review with some very cogent points as to where I can hack out a third of the little blighter. Yay! He's a smart cookie (duh) and I read his comments with the usual reaction of "Ohmigod, why didn't I think of that?". I've got until the end of the week to take care of it, but I'm probably going to try to get started tonight. I don't to rush, again.
|Ts'ui / Gathering Together [Massing]||Yu / Enthusiasm|
Gathering Together. Success.
Enthusiasm. It furthers one to
Clearly, it's time to get off one's butt and do something - anything. Get back on track with a stalled project, or start something new that you have been considering for a while. If those that had previously pledged assistance prove reluctant, motivate them - in a positive way, of course.
Along with sliding
back into long-forgotten Limey Language Patterns, I seem to be regressing on
the musical-taste front, as well - never mind the fact that my taste in
music pretty much rusted shut in 1994 as it is... I recently laid hands on a
'few' Duran Duran MP3s. About five hundred of them, actually. I'm in retro
heaven! Who knew there were so many mixes of Girls on Film?
Meanwhile, I'm slowly revising my unprintable opinion of the album Liberty
- it seems that a track or two on the thing are actually passable...
And it seems I'm not the only one suffering from 80's flashbacks...
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA will make a second attempt to land the space shuttle Atlantis on Tuesday night after losing a see-saw battle with the Florida weather 24 hours earlier, the U.S. space agency said. The five shuttle astronauts are wrapping up a 13-day mission that saw them deliver a $164 million air lock to the International Space Station, bringing to a close the first construction phase of the orbiting science project. If all goes according to plan, Atlantis will touch down at the Kennedy Space Center at 11:39 p.m. The crew was awakened by Mission Control playing the song "Hold Back The Rain" by Duran Duran...
On other musical
fronts, I'm wondering whether to drop $40+ on tix for the next Sade show. It
would be expensive - $40 just gets one onto the lawn at the Concord
Pavilion, it's close to $60 for good seats. But her concert last month got
great reviews and I've always liked Sade. Or maybe I'll just drop $25 on the
next They Might Be Giants date... But I haven't listened to anything from
them since 1990...
Aw, I should just save my dosh for the inevitable Duran Duran reunion tour next year. Pop Trash bombed so badly, the band got dumped by their newly-acquired label and it seems Capitol/EMI immediately swooped in with an offer of a vast bag of cash for a 'reunion' album with the original five members of the band - and that means there'll be a tour. The betting as to when Roger Taylor is going to have a breakdown will now commence...
To my surprise, I rather liked Pop Trash, but it's a continuation of the departure that began in Medezzaland - further proving that John Taylor was the last grounding influence in that group - and I think the new direction didn't go down real well with either the old or the new fans. Given that something like 30,000 copies of the album sold in the U.S., it seems it didn't go down well with anyone.
Honestly, it's all a bit of a giggle listening to these MP3s (currently in the middle of some fifty-four minute mix of, it seems, every single released between 1985 and 1992) and realizing that the distance between my current incarnation and the squealing idiot I was at 17 is not that great... Otherwise I wouldn't be so keen on the idea of seeing 'em in concert again!
For some well-expressed musings of a Duran Duran fan, go visit musicwhore.org - run by the same hardworking chap who used to handle DuranDuran.net (now, alas, folded for lack of resources and time). The webmeister is seriously into music, and a good writer, too.
shouldn't be allowed to raise sea-monkeys, let alone kids... Shannon, upon
asking her father if he could babysit her daughter (you know, his grandchild)
for a weekend to give her a much-needed break hears from her father:
"You're a mommy. Mommies don't get to rest". What the fuck?
I was ready to get a baseball bat and have a word with the gent about this,
but Shannon has asked that I wait until after she's moved out of town (looks
like she and Mikey will be getting stationed in Louisiana) and disown the
little bastard. How can someone grow up with that attitude - and repeat it
to their kids with apparently not a twinge of conscience? I'm sure his own
childhood has a lot to do with it but, hell, I'm too pissed off to care...
Other tetchiness...My boss used the word 'queer' in casual conversation the other day - casting aspersions on Russell Crowe's masculinity, I believe, and I was rather bothered by it - the language that is, not the criticism of Russell Crowe. I'm ambivalent about that word. Many of my gay friends have appropriated the word queer to take the stigma out of it. But doesn't it still occupy the same gray zone as the N-word and people of African-American descent who are appropriating that word? As in, it's only okay for certain people to use, in a certain context? Anyways, I'm reasonably sure that my boss was not using it in 'let's remove the negative context of a word' form and thus the twitchiness. I really, really don't like homophobes - I know, I know, tolerance in all things, even pig-headed bastards, but homophobia is one of my 'buttons'.
So now I'm glancing sidelong at the boss and wondering if I should even bring it up. Probably not. This is a small office and I don't need to come across as some hypersensitive PC priss... I'll just keep my ears open and try to determine if it was a momentary lapse, or a reflection of an entrenched attitude. If it's the latter, then I might have a problem...
Geeze, it was bad enough when I asked some of my gamer friends to stop using the classic 'spaz' gesture - y'know, the hitting-self-on-chest-with-bent wrist thing - when referring to a stupid deed or idea. That's another one of those things that has bugged me for years, so I rather mildly asked the gang in question to quit doing it when then were in mid-durr one afternoon. A bevy of somewhat surprised glances and raised eyebrows were my reply, finally followed by assent - but I was clearly the odd duck as far as they were concerned. And these are gamers - usually a very tolerant bunch.
It looks like there's going to be a major ration of shit falling onto the CAST game on Sunday - it should be interesting. For my part, I'm going to be focusing on trying to keep playing Patricia true to form, rather than getting all empathic and caring about what happens to my fellow courtiers. Slowly but surely, she's getting there. The game's EZ board has been very useful, as I can take my time with responses, and craft them reasonably well, so I've been able to build a more-solid character voice to refer to in my head when at game. It's so easy to be distracted when playing her, and slide towards Malkavian silliness. Ugh. I've just about got the court scared shitless of her, now I need to work on maintaining that reputation...
I've heard an ugly rumor that a player wants to bring in a really stupid Malkavian concept: A half-Japanese swordmaker who is convinced that he is a cybernetic warrior from the 27th Century sent back in time to save the kindred from Gehenna. What a fuckin' waste of effort and time... I really hope Mike vetoes that one, because if I get told to deal with him, Patricia will talk with him for, oh, five minutes and then tell the Prince that she refuses to acknowledge him as a Malkavian - neither Trish nor Johanna have time for bunny-foo-foo Malkavians -and that the Prince should follow her lead and refuse to allow the PC within the city. However, I hope that Gaiser will shoot the concept down in pre-production...
Meanwhile, the work on the Network 23 idea has slowed down somewhat. I'm at a point where I can either leave things as they are, or reorganize a bit and get down to some serious writing - like map out the city, write more complete details on the state of technology and society, etc. Essentially, a sourcebook for a game that may or may not happen... A fun mental exercise, but definitely in the realm of going way-the-hell-overboard. I think if I just take a little lie down for a couple of days, the seizure will pass and I'll be happy with the ideas I've got...
It's a shame Cyberpunk 2020 lost the license to refer to Network 23 in their materials - and then the publishers sank almost without a trace. I would have a hell of a sourcebook for 'em. Rumor hath it that Shadowrun is going to covert to d20, whereas there is going to be a reprint of Cyberpunk 2020 - original ruleset intact - to appeal to old school fans who don't want to deal with the latest cash-cow in gaming. I liked CPunk, but I think that's the wrong move for them to be making. The old-school gamers still have their original books and new-schoolers are going to prefer a d20 game... Still, with no money and the licensing situation all fucked up, a reprint is all that can be done..
|Pi / Holding Together [Union]||P'i / Standstill [Stagnation]|
Holding Together brings good
Standstill. Evil people do not
All the best ideas in the world don't mean anything without a focal point. You've got the big picture, it's time to start working on the details. Accept help when offered - and make sure your helpers know you appreciate it!
Some credit card that Alex believed he was paying off, turned out to be some other debt from the same bank, and now the issuers of the credit card are suing Alex for $6500, because they haven't had a cent off him since 1999. Not good.
After my initial bout of fury - thank God Alex was out of the house when Mr. Collector called - Alex and I had a talk and we're doing something I swore we would never do... I called a pal and asked them if I could borrow $5,000. Mr. Collector has dropped a broad hint that they'll settle for that amount out of court, and I believe him. The credit-card issuers don't really want to bugger around with a lawsuit any more than we do. And for a card with a $1500 limit, five grand is a pretty good take.
I felt like utter scum asking my friend for a loan. Then I find out that he's up shit creek, too - in a much more serious way - but he's happy to loan me the money if I need it. Hasty back-pedaling then ensues - it's one thing when one knows one's friend can afford the loan, but now...fuck. So Alex is talking to the creditor today to find out how much they really will settle for out of court. If we're very lucky, maybe we can haggle them down below five thousand. Then I'm going to talk to my friend about borrowing half of that - to leave him some wriggle room of his own - and then go to my bank for the rest. If my bank won't loan me $2500 - and, oh my god, at the 19% interest they charge for an unsecured loan of 12 months, why shouldn't they? - then I will have to go to my friend for the full $5K and pray to god that I'm not putting him in the poorhouse, too.
What really pisses me off - I'm past being mad at Alex. I've been mad at at Alex about money, off and on, for four years now and nothing has changed, so that effort has been written off. What really pisses me off is that court judges consider things like books to be luxury items - so guess what the bailiffs would reach for before taking our TV? ACK! Alex's sister had to deal with this when facing a shitty child-support decision from a judge. Books are flat-out considered a luxury item, whereas a television isn't. What the fuck? It's just another sign of the thrice-damned anti-intellectualism in this country. Grr.
But it got me thinking. We have got some things we could sell. A spare television. An old (but it still works, VCR) ditto for the old 486 machine and 486 laptop that I picked up somewhere for $200. Some small bits of my jewelry that I don't wear any more. So it might not hurt to see what we can get for 'em. Probably no more than $250, all told, but that's better than nothing. So much for getting a new dryer when Mr. Bush's tax refund comes in. If I have to get a loan - for whatever amount, from whichever agency - I intend to pay it all off in eighteen months or less, dammit...
The bright, side, I suppose, is that once it's paid off, the only debt I've got to deal with is my Sears card, which I'll probably have taken care of by the end of October... Where's that winning lottery ticket when I need it?
Enough of that.
So, there's this guy who rides the 22 Fillmore. Tallish, short dark hair, always gelled, wears an eighteen gauge ring in each ear, bit of face fuzz, fond of wearing rectangular shades and a kickass black trenchcoat - nah, I haven't seen him around much at all. Anyway, he's rather cute, in a sharp-faced sort of way - although his exquisite grooming also radiates 'egotist', but I'm not interested in the guy's personality. Anyways, so I see him on the commute at least once a week, and I usually amuse myself by thinking a few dirty thoughts about him whenever I catch sight of him.
I'm married, not dead, fer Crissakes.
So, yesterday, I've got my nose deep in Mussolini, His Part In My Downfall by Spike Milligan, and I notice that someone has sat down next to me on the bus. It is he! My hormones immediately start carbonating - it had been a boring day until that point. I sit there, and gleefully imagine all sorts of naughty things - while snatching the occasional glance at his trenchcoat, it really is a well-made item. And then...sniff...sniff...Ack! The guy smokes! Aiyee!
All my torrid fantasies withered with nary a whimper. Blast.
Oh my, oh my. The gathering shit-storm for CAST is looming darker and darker upon the horizon. This will be interesting... I think I've convinced the Primogen (backed up by a rather timely - but entirely coincidental - letter from the Prince) to not kill a noisy little neonate who has been giving us grief. The player is just trying to get himself killed out, anyways, because he doesn't want to have to deal with being Enthralled in-game. Why give him that escape, said I? Let's make the guy suffer, Camarilla style... So we are. Hee, hee, hee.
|Lin / Approach||M^eng / Youthful Folly|
Approach has supreme success.
Youthful Folly has success.
When the eighth month comes, there will be misfortune - oh, bloody brilliant, that is... Can I order a dozen units of perseverance from the from the grocery?
So, of course, after mostly-convincing me the bailiffs were on their way over, the collecting-agent in charge of Alex's file is on vacation through today. Sigh... Well, I'm sure Alex's multiple v-mails have convinced 'em that we have been sufficiently intimidated. Never borrow money, kids. It's not worth it.
Worry aside, it
was a very nice weekend. A gang of us got together to visit the Scottish
Faire in Pittsburg on Saturday. As usual, Alex and I jumped at the chance to
dress up, no
matter what the dorkiness factor. The picture has convinced Alex to start
looking for a hat for his privateer persona, rather than that do-rag that
makes him look far too much like Brook. Meanwhile, I've decided to leave the
glasses off in future. It was a sunny day on Saturday and I didn't
want to tempt the migraine fairy too much by being dazzled and half
blind. But the look just doesn't work for me... However, rumor hath it that
at the upcoming Northern Faire, there will be a dude who will make
prescription period spectacles! Nifty! Undeniably expensive, too, I'm
sure, but nifty nonetheless.
Anyways, the Faire. It was a small event although, compared to Northern, any Faire is small. Every Scots/Irish Faire-y in the Bay Area made an appearance, so there was a pleasantly high ratio of garbed to non-garbed attendees. I swear, Faires should have a garb-only day. Charge $5 more per ticket to make up for the reduced attendance - every Faire-wonk I know would gladly pony up a little extra for a garb-only day - and only allow those in reasonably-attempted costuming in to the event. It would be a hoot! But I digress... As usual, I was sighing over the courtly garb worn by some of the guild members - although the idea of having to wear farthingale, bodice, etc and and unholy amount of velvet makes me wince. At least the chaps in kilts had some ventilation going for them!
There were about two dozen merchants there, none of whom was selling anything I was too crazy for - thank goodness. The one big purchase was a pair of moccasin boots for Alex. I can hide my sneakers under long skirts, whereas Alex can't do that with his combat boots... The shoes were a quarter of what I was going to put down for his birthday present fencing-boots (a good thing too, given the latest money crunch) and they suit him very well. A closer examination of the shoes - knee-high, tightly laced so they're reasonably dust-proof - so impressed me that we almost went back on Sunday to get a pair for me... but I can wait until the next paycheck - and I'll probably cave and pick up some period eating implements, then, too. I do so love dressing - and accessorizing - like a goober!
The excursion wiped me out totally and I crawled into bed at a disgustingly decent hour on Saturday night. Sunday was taken up almost entirely by the CAST game and another early night. Staggering in to work on Monday after eleven hours of kip was most surreal...
Oh. My. God. What have I done? Alex and I have volunteered to take over downtime for the CAST game. Honestly, it's a case of sheer martyrdom. If we don't do it, it will go back to Miranda. Miranda is a lovely girl, but she couldn't handle downtime - mostly because she wouldn't berate MG for the information she needed to make decisions. Alex and I aren't nearly so constrained by such niceness... I'm really hoping that we can just fix the few things that are broke with DT, and then hand it off to the next enthusiast who comes down the pike...
The CAST game itself was a bit of a downer. Several much-anticipated events failed to manifest - either the players chickened out, or just chose to downplay their intended melodrama. To his credit, Josiah has agreed not to suicide his character, although I think he might regret that lofty ideal once the Primogen get down to making his character's life hell. But Joe agreed that he was in a really good space - potentially - for RP and character development and he's willing to give it a try. This has somewhat improved my rather marginal opinion of the lad...
I was quite bored for most of the game, but that's my fault for not having new goals for Patricia. Admittedly, watching the other PCs blanche and back off when Patricia announced she was bored was quite amusing, but, really, it's not like she's going to do anything on Elysium... Silly geese. Fortunately, I've created a few goals for Patricia - proactive rather than reactive - although they rather heavily depend upon other PCs remaining in the game over several weeks. We'll see how it goes, I guess.
Network 23 continues its insidious growth. There's not going to be any changes to the site for a while but, behind the scenes, I'm happily tapping out more ideas - now following a rough outline, to try to keep things organized. If I actually finish the planned sections, then I'll post them online. To my surprise, I find myself getting possessive enough about the whole notion to be a) rebuffing offers of help (thanks, Dave, but no thanks) and b) if anything further is posted, I'm contemplating doing it in .PDF format, with embedded author/source credits, to minimize plagarism. I'll agree that it's ironic, given the whole derivative circumstances behind the idea - but .PDFs also have the advantage of being more printer-friendly and sucking up a lot less space on the mini web-account I have set up for the codeblack.org domain... Yeah, that's it...
|Ta Chuang / The Power of the Great||T'ai / Peace|
The Power of the Great.
Peace. The small departs, the
This is not a good time for departing from established order. Make sure that the foundations are firm beneath your feet before you start any new project. With strong support and a realistic mindset, you will succeed.
My office signed up for a new conference-calling/web collaboration service this week - Raindance, if you're curious - and was given a rather nice little hard-backed notebook as a thank-you. Not really needing it for anything else and - lacking anything to read on my commute home on Friday - I started jotting down random things, including some journal material, some random character bits and a truly bad doodle of a city map. It's been a long time since I've handwritten anything longer than a grocery list. It was a change. The words seem to flow differently than when I'm typing at a computer - it was less self-conscious, for some reason. Very interesting... So there are bits of that entry jotted throughout and perhaps I'll make it a regular habit, at least until I run out of notebook space!
Did our parents feel about Big Bird the way we do about Barney? I mean, they are quite similar - friendly and child-like. They talk in that kid-friendly non-threatening voice and they're utterly unlike any creature that actually occurs in nature. Kinda like Lambchop, now that I think of it. At least Kermit had that zany manic-satire thing going for him...
daydream about finally cracking up and going after myself with a razor blade
or throwing myself under a train. The train is a fave, but - like my
formerly-suicidal friend - I'm reluctant to traumatize some bloody BART
driver and a station full of commuters. I'm not serious - most of the time.
I think I'm just fantasizing about something extreme, a change from my usual
soft routine. I'm usually quite happy with -and grateful for - my soft
routine, so these masochist/extremist urges rather baffle me. Why can't I
take up sky diving instead? Oh yeah, I'm terrified of heights... Alas,
wildly inappropriate sexual escapades (my former venue for dumb-ass
activities) are no longer a viable hobby - and rather difficult to discuss
in polite company, anyways.
...Is it unwifely to be unhappy about the shape of one's hubby? It's a twofold thing, really. I'm finding it impossible to stick to any sort of dieting regimen without his support and, honestly, I rather miss the thinner guy I met five years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if he's missing the thinner gal he met at that time. too. I'm going through the whole diminishing self-image thing - not as keen to fool around as I used to be - and it's a pain in the ass. Get mad because I have to wear size 12 pants. Get guilty because it's my own failure for not losing weight. Get angry for feeling guilty. And that's just about when my husband strolls by and asks me if I would like a chocolate shake... Catty comments and short sulks tend to result.
Meanwhile, overactive imagination is fulfilled by thinking about fictional people - or ones so unattainable as to be fictional. I've really got to quit getting the hots for my own characters, though. In the security of pure fiction, one can fall for the wrong men, for the wrong reasons and do the wrong things. Poor Yvette is gnashing her teeth at Paul's sudden priggishness - priggishness which surprised me, in fact. I guess it really always was about power for that bastard. Then why does he have to be so good at it? Oh yeah, because I get off on guys who play mind games - otherwise I never would have fucked those two psychos...
For pure mindfucking, there's always Michael, but his star has been on the descendant for some time. Should CB decide to play with him at CAST - highly doubtful - then that might be fun.
Mercy and Erich had the ultimate hate/want dynamic, but it was cheapened by their derivative origins - Aeon and Trevor.
My entire life has been derivative, so I suppose it's not that big a deal to have derivative characters - and to have the hots for them.
It should be narcissism, shouldn't it? To fall for one's own creations, like falling in love with an aspect of oneself? But so many of those darlings... I'm so used to treating them as something outside of myself - and they reinforce it by regularly surprising me. They were only a part of me at the beginning... Is this how Pygmalion felt?
Given the choice between Paul Viersan on a good day and, say, Pierce Brosnan... I'll be hard pressed. Mind you, I've known Paul for a very long time... He's been lurking around in my mind, in one form or another, for - hell! - almost half of my life. No wonder my vision's skewed...
Went to visit Alex's dad
yesterday, for Alex's birthday. Incidentally, his birthday is Monday, so why
don't you drop him a line with a
happy-bday message? Back to Saturday...we hung out at Dan's, ate junk food
at watched Phantom Menace. There's a good movie in there, trying to
get out. A better director (sorry, George) would have avoided a lot of those
pitfalls. Executing the entire marketing staff at Lucasfilms would have
dealt with the rest. "Yeah, let's focus on that podrace, that'll make a
great level in a video game!". Alex and I had a long talk about whether
or not Lucas' sudden plunge into the deep end has anything to do with the
opening up of the Star Wars universe (via the novels) and a need for Lucas
to still prove he's the top dog, or what, but no conclusion was reached...
Sign of costume-wonkery #46: Whilst watching Phantom Menace, I spent far more time eyeballing the costumes than the actual scene around 'em. I've seen some very painstaking web-pages dedicated to the Jedi and Sith garb and I was curious to compare remembered-notes to observations. Conclusions: there are some very patient costumers out there who must have big-screen TVs and a good hand with the pause/frame-advance button on their VCR...
Glory be! I finally watched some episodes of Ultraviolet on the SF Network. Darn good stuff! Tell me why this hasn't been optioned as an RPG, yet? Hmm, maybe I should talk to Dave about that...
Oh, for you curious ghouls: Alex and I have had a minor windfall (thanks, Dan! And, erm, thanks Mr. President...) so we're hoping to placate the creditors with about three grand at mid-September. That will improve our bargaining position immeasurably and there's a chance they might accept a payment plan for the rest. If we're wildly lucky, they might take the three grand and realize it's not worth the effort and expense to get the rest... It still means no dryer, no trips, etc, but it would also mean no taking of any loans.
One week 'til Faire! Cue: happy bouncings! 100% cotton was $4/yd over at the cheap fabric joint, so I picked up enough to make three skirts - green, blue and dark red - and have been having a ball with it. As soon as I find the link again, I shall share with y'all the easiest way to make a gored skirt. Three yards of fabric and no waste! In the time it usually takes me to cut one pattern, I had finished the entire garment - well, not quite, I'm hand-hemming the bottom, to keep things looking reasonably period-ish. I'm very happy about all this, as I'm sick of just having one skirt - and it's brown. Four skirts give me some mix-and-match options with the two-skirt look. If I have time, I might churn out a basic guy-chemise for Alex from some of the muslin I've got, as his current shirt is a bit too white. Maybe I'll just have him do a bit of yardwork in the shirt he's got... Wear is a factor when one's persona isn't a noble... My skirts are about to get hung on the washing line for the week so as to fade a bit...
I also bought myself some acceptable moccasins - which involved my first (and hopefully only) venture into a Western-wear store. Don't blame me! It was the only place in the east-bay that carried the dratted things! I've never seen so many dam' silly hats...
I was tempted to pick up the ankle-boot version of an ever-popular style of Minnetonka moccasin that has been deemed faire-acceptable, but I got to thinking about all that dust and straw at Faire and how it will work your way into your shoes... So I grabbed the knee-high boot instead. They're good-looking shoes, but there's one problem. They're a bit tall for me, so the top of the boot bangs into the back of my knee when I walk. I'm going to be putting some serious insoles into these things (taking a page from Alex's book) and I think that might deal with the worst of it... If it doesn't, I'm going to work at really breaking the boots in, so the tops aren't quite so stiff as they are now. Then they'll 'give' more and, with luck, be bearable. But anything, anything, is preferable to wearing sneakers at Faire.
Along with notebook journaling, I doodled out a few bits. Patricia had a few words to say - she's getting very desperate to hurt someone, anyone. Meanwhile, Rachel and Paul seem doomed to have the same conversation for the rest of eternity - which rather suggests that I've done the right thing by pursuing Yvette. Yvette has the capacity to surprise Paul. Rachel doesn't. I wrote a few pages for the next Paul/Yvette tale, that has been drafted out in my head for months, and then realized that six pages of doesn't-really-advance-the-action could have been handled in one paragraph while the pair were on the plane to Berlin. Grr/sigh. I swear, writing is fun, really!
Alex ran his D&D
game on Friday. I really wasn't in the mood to go - cranky and tired - but I
convinced myself that I would have a better time outside of the house,
rather than on my own. Sure enough, I was right and I had a reasonably good,
if low-key, time. The game was a bit slow - there were three new characters
to introduce - but I think the pace is going to pick up from now on. I think
there's even a good chance that Dave's character might fit in with
the crew. I'm very fond of Dave, but I've been a little worried about some
of his ideas, at times - sooner or later, they get dark and broody, and that
has no place in a pack of chaotic/lawful good type PCs...
So, of course, I get an idea for a Star Wars character... Ah well. I'm determined not to join any new games, but maybe if Jennifer decides to run her counterpoint-to-Alex's-Waterdeep-thing Star Wars game, maybe I'll talk to her about that. Mind you, Alex was just grumbling about how he seems to get SW ideas when running Waterdeep, and Waterdeep ideas when he's running SW, so it might not be too long before we switch back...
I had a lovely
weekend. Serious lazing and loafing, visiting with family, etc. Monday, I
played hookey and took the day off with Alex for his birthday. Well, I did
have a nasty headache in the morning, I just promoted it a bit... We just
doddled around the neighborhood together and ran errands, nothing terribly
birthday-like, although I kept encouraging Alex to have ice cream for
We hit the toy store to look for a certain action figure for Alex, and ended up walking away with Matilda - a 12 inch figure that I had fallen in love with after the Toy Fare previews. It's an action figure for Rachel/Yvette, I swear! I gave Alex an Action Man figure as a gag gift, but I don't think he bought my line about him being my own action hero...
Otherwise, we spent most of the day talking about what we would do if we won the lottery. We're inclined to just make one big purchase - New Zealand - and then encourage all our friends to come live with us. We'll be the only guys in town with sheep on the LAN...
I've been office-hunting with my boss again. If you ever get a chance to peek inside the newly renovated Hobart building on Market Street, do so! Whilst all the other historical buildings in the city have given way to dropped ceilings and florescent light (ugh) the Hobart building just underwent a vast renovation and the entire thing - inside and out - looks like a scene from a Dashielle Hammet novel. Bliss! Now, if I could just get over my nagging worry about being on the tenth floor of an old building in an earthquake zone...
I finished Alex's shirt for Faire - I scrambled to finish it yesterday as another b-day present for him. It's the standard poofy cotton thing, in black, which makes me wonder about heatstroke... I also think he's going to look a bit Dread-Pirate-Roberts-ish with a black shirt, black pants, black boots and black-and-blue doublet. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, rowr....
Meanwhile, my three faire skirts are all done except for the bottom hems. I've packed one into my commute bag, and I'm resolved to hem instead of sleeping on the train. The skirts have a bottom circumference of eleven feet, so they're going to take a while to finish - and I want at least one of them done by Saturday, for opening weekend. I've realized that I'm not going to be able to do the bottom-hem blanket-stitching before Saturday, but that's just a gravy detail that I can work on next week.
I still need to get the hang of it, but I can do buttonholes! I had to put three onto Alex's shirt, and all three are a bit snug, but it's still an improvement over being buttonhole-less. Almost as good is the fact that my machine can even sew buttons onto garments. Neat!
Okay, the story behind the survey (note: removed during archiving of this journal). I've been thinking about a passing remark made earlier, about Ultraviolet making a neat RPG and I think I might be on to something. The trick is, of course, have enough gamers seen that show to make a d20 supplement based upon it a viable option? Just because the Bay Area geeks have seen a cult drama about vampires is not an indication that everyone else has seen same... There's no point in my going to the trouble of researching and writing a pitch letter to the license holders if there's no market for the thing. The producers might be willing to sell the license, but I'm not going to invest a chunk of money and time into a book I might not be able to find a distributor for... Since I don't seem to have a marketing-research company in my pocket, I'm going to have to conduct a straw poll of my own. If you could take the time to answer it - four questions - I would appreciate it, dear reader.
Otherwise, all is
quiet. Alex and I started dealing with DT for CAST yesterday. Only five
people had bothered sending in actions, so it wasn't too difficult to deal
|I / Increase||Chin / Progress|
Increase. It furthers one to
Progress. The powerful prince Is honored with horses in large numbers. In a single day he is granted audience three times.
Get out there and do something vast and satisfying -
but avoid extremism. If cooperation is needed, pursue it now with
well-mannered vigor. Surrounding yourself with talented, like-minded
people can only help you.
Visited my parents on Tuesday for Alex's b-day.
We ate pizza and watched a movie - Snatch - which was alright. The
editor was clearly having fun, and I guess Guy Ritchie wants to present
himself as the British Quentin Tarantino, although I would guess that the
thrill might wear off the shtick if he does yet-another black comedy/caper
film. I hear he's working with his wife for the next one, which will no
doubt make or break him (or the marriage). Bah, what do I care for
Thinking of 15 minutes of fame, it seems Josh Oreck managed to bully Warner Brothers into accepting some form of the documentary he shot late last year and it's about to be released on a DVD of goodies designed to whip up anticipation for the second Matrix film. I don't know what will embarass me more - If I'm in it, or if I'm not...
I'm in less of a funk than I have been for the past few days - no doubt sewing has kept me from brooding on matters. Whatever the reason, I'm glad. I hate being grumpy and it always makes Alex flinchy and jumpy...
Thanks to delays on BART every day this week, I'm almost done hemming my three skirts, and I think I'll have a go at embroidering the bottom edge of the skirt I don't intend to wear this weekend - so if I don't finish it, it's not the end of the world.
Shannon is tentatively beginning her first Renn costume project, and she's been totally intimidated by the notion of placing darts in her bodice. I feel for her, I really do - it wasn't that long ago when I would have to run to my mom during every step of a pattern and ask for help. And I felt as guilty as hell for thinking 'darts aren't period'. I know, it doesn't really matter, particularly if you're a 'playtron' at the local Faire...but would it kill Simplicity to try a little harder for authenticity? It would also be a damn sight easier to sew! Period tailoring was all straight seams. Admittedly, no-one will say that cartridge-pleating is easy, but I'll take a cartridge pleat over a princess seam any day!
Meanwhile, I have been thinking about a project for next year's Faire-wear. Alex was looking longingly at the distressed-leather doublets worn by the title characters in Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead. Once again my overactive Mental Exercise gland has kicked in, and I've been chatting with folks on alt.fair.renaissance about pattern choices, leather sources, how to distress the hide, etc. The current choice is between: a) hunt down a couple of used leather jackets from the thrift store and beat them up a bit or b) buy a couple of hides from a tannery and go at them with a cheese grater. Apparently a grater is the distressing-tool of choice amongst those who do costuming for a living... Neat!
Hm. The CAST game doesn't start until 1PM. So why do I have to be there by 10:30? Sigh... Honestly, I'm not that keen on doing Downtime for this troupe, but if Alex and I hadn't volunteered, it would have been handed back to Miranda, and that would have been just chaos... There are worse reasons for martyrdom, I suppose...
|Chien / Development (Gradual Progress)||Ch'ien / The Creative|
Development. The maiden is given
The Creative works sublime
Don't rush into anything. Careful thought and premeditation will bring you success in the long run. Spend time with friends and family, share ideas.
Oh. My. God. I had
the ultimate sausage sandwich for dinner last night. It was another
'craving night' and, despite Alex's pessimism, I managed to find a package
of "English Style Bangers" at the grocery store. Neat! They were English
in that breadcrumbs were the third ingredient, right after meat and water,
but only styled so because they were thankfully lacking the nitrates
that real English sossies are famous for... So I grilled me up a mess of
onions until they were brown and gooey, heated up the banger and stuffed
both of 'em into a chunk of sourdough baguette that had been liberally
slathered with spicy deli-mustard. Bliss! Damn, I should have made one for
breakfast, because I'm all hungry now...
And, in further Brit-food news, I found a place in the UK that carries Alex's much-beloved bacon-flavored crisps, as well as a whole bunch of my favorite comfort foods - and will ship anywhere in the world for a reasonable price. The downside is that they'll only take orders in bulk. Even Alex is intimidated by the notion of 28 packets of crisps, and I don't know what I would do with 40 bags of Malteasers... Hm, I must ask my dad if he would like to split that with me. I know he likes Malteasers. But Alex is on his own with the crisps. Meanwhile, the 7lb jar of aniseed balls should keep my addicted friend Kevin stocked up for, oh, a month... At least I have an idea of what to get for him for Christmas!
Stay away from cocoa-krispie treats. They are evil. The must be laced with heroin or something, elsewise how did I manage to scarf down almost an entire package in a week? Now I'm totally jonesing for one at work, and I don't have any! Aiye!
Money woes aside,
Alex and I are both ludicrously excited about the Renaissance Faire
tomorrow. We had bought our season passes just before the money-crunch hit,
so we may as well use the dratted things. Opening day will be utter
chaos, but Alex and I are going to be very busy for the next three weekends,
so it's really our best chance to go for the first month. After
mid-September, though, I think we'll be going at least one day out of every
weekend. There are a lot of new performers that we haven't seen before, and
enough of our friends have hectic enough schedules to justify multiple
I'm trying to find a bank that carries rolls of the Sacagawea dollars, as it's the jolly thing to use dollar coins for small purchases and tips at Faire. After all, bank notes aren't period - heh. The US Mint, in a desperate attempt to get people used to the things, has churned out hundreds of millions of the things - in fact, I think the number might be over a billion, but the US Mint site is being coy and won't provide a clear answer. So, I go to the bank to ask for a $25 roll and what do I hear? "We don't carry them because they're, uh, kind of rare and not real popular." The 'not real popular' bit I will believe. But rare? They're rare because the bloody banks aren't carrying them! Just wait 'til they start phasing out the dollar bill!
As you can see, I'm trying to do my best 'just don't worry!' act. For the most part, it's working. I'm sure Alex can sense otherwise but I feel bound to try. This whole 'serenity' thing is hard to keep up when the shit hits the fan. But anyone can be serene when things are going their way, right? Being able to maintain a polite demeanor whilst up to one's ass in alligators is indeed the test of it...
I was ready to start embroidering one of my skirts yesterday - I've decided to go with a 'herringbone' stitch that I read about on some handy SCA page - but I realized that the shade of blue I had purchased was all wrong and whilst I could have started on my red skirt, I was too damn lazy to go fetch it from outside. It's been hanging on the line for a couple of days to weather a bit...
I have received lots of helpful advice from the folks on alt.fairs.renaissance so, when I'm finally ready to begin, I think I can make Alex's leather doublet without too many problems. Still, if anyone out there has an industrial machine they're willing to loan me the use of...?
I'm starting to think that gamer-writing is like a virus. It gets passed around, infecting all it comes into contact with. Lately, James has been consumed by a proposal for Skotos, and lately, Jennifer has been very much into her tales for Castle Marrach. Both she and I are currently dealing with 'ticking time bomb' projects, although I think I've just managed to yank the spring out of mine.
The idea, simply put, was a d20 volume, based upon Ultraviolet.
I thought it would be a good idea as the show seemed to be quite a hit amongst the gamer-crowd and such a volume would present an alternative to the gother-than-thou World of Darkness. In fact, the theme and setting of Ultraviolet could work rather well as a standalone, or as a resource for another contemporary RPG - such as Cthulhu Now/Delta Green. With every dam' game on the planet converting to d20, it certainly wouldn't be difficult for GMs to play mix-and-match with resources. (Does anyone else hear Steve Jackson gnashing his teeth?)
Enter bucket of cold water. I've done some digging - with that survey that has been bugging you for a few days, and online - and the numbers aren't coming up how I would like them to manifest. Ultraviolet is a cult show - which means not a lot of people have seen it. Now, often, gamers tend to make up a chunk of any cult-TV audience, but that doesn't seem to be the case outside of the Bay Area. I suppose it must be attributed to the fact that the Bay Area tends to severely buck trends when it comes to TV watching. So, not enough gamers have seen Ultraviolet to ensure that it would have enough name-recognition to sell itself. Sure, gamers try unheard-of titles all the time, but World Productions (the same crew who brought you Ballykissangel) isn't going to consider a license unless they're sure the thing has a far-better-than-average chance of selling. World is not a small production house - which is a shame, because I believe a smaller studio would be more amenable to the idea of taking a couple of chances...
Second dash of reality - there's not much chance of my being able to buy the license and then sell a nearly-complete book and distribution rights to, say, Wizards of the Coast. It seems that the RPG industry just doesn't work that way. Furthermore, there's no point in my going to a large game company and saying "Hi, I've got this great idea, and I want to write it for you." because we all know what will happen. ConGlomCo might agree that it's a great idea, but why should they use an unknown to produce their material? They'll just nip over to the UK, club World unconscious with money to obtain the license and use their own talent to do the writing. Net gain to Johanna: zilch.
I have been told that the only route I could go is to pick up the license personally - somehow - and self-publish, which would cost a huge whack of money, with no assurance that the product will be picked up by distributors. The potential for losing a lot of money is, of course, quite substantial. I've watched friends lose twenty grand trying to self-publish an RPG... So much for that idea.
Ah well, it was a nice idea while it lasted... Back to my freeware Network 23 project! I've not published any new material to the site, but my larger outline is done, and I'm halfway through the first chapter. I've decided to go 'whole hawg or none' on this one, rather than publishing any further material, piecemeal. If I manage to churn out about 30,000 more words on the setting (I'm at nearly 10,000 now) then I'll publish it all online in one fell swoop. Otherwise, it can just languish on the hard-disk, much like my half-finished skirts languish in my sewing room.
|Sh^eng / Pushing Upward||Ch'ien / Modesty|
Pushing Upward has supreme success. One must see the great man. Fear not. Departure toward the south brings good fortune.
Modesty creates success.
Big things are made of little things. Rather than taking on more than you can handle, work on some of those little things now, so that the greater whole may come together in the future. Careful and patient effort will guarantee success.
weekend. The up comes from having a reasonably good day at Northern Faire on
Saturday, the down came from the car vomiting up its recently-replaced
spark-plug coil just as we were coming down the off-ramp in Vacaville. If
only I had renewed my Triple-A membership! I would have saved myself a pile
of money! However, the tow guy - Don - was a nice chap and was the fella who
diagnosed at least the most-obvious problem with the car. We were worried
about a busted head gasket, but Don popped the hood and immediately pointed
out a dangling cable that clearly should not have been dangling. It looks
like the water pump finally gave up the ghost, too, but it also did
so about half-a-mile away from the Faire parking lot, so we don't think any
lasting damage was done.
The work on the car is still under warranty - it had damn well better be - so Levi has been towed back to Ramesh's garage and is awaiting diagnosis. The water pump is still our problem - about $250 to fix - but Ramesh is going to have to talk fast to get me to pay a dime towards replacing the spark-plug coil again. The only thing that worries me is the possibility that the housing is permanently buggered - ie, a coil just can't stay, no matter how well its sunk in. In that case, it'll be time for Plan B, which is towing Chief over to the garage and seeing if he can be put back on the road for less than the cost (and aggravation) of getting a newer-used car. Sigh.
Shortly after writing this entry, Alex gave me a call. Go take a look at the supplemental entry.
When did grass get so uncomfortable to sit on? Is this an American thing? I remember when I was a young'un, my school had some playing fields that they were constantly hustling us kids out onto during our lunch hour - anything to keep us beyond earshot of the faculty lounge, I think - and that grass was just fine for sitting/rolling/fighting upon. Now, years later and country further off, whenever I see a lush bit of lawnage and I think "Oh, I've just got to take my shoes off and wiggle my toes in that," my much-surprised toes feel like they're encountering some godawful astro-turf - all spiky and hard and not at all comfortable for lazing and loafing. What is the point of having a lawn if you can't have a decent picnic on it?
I know we all turn into our parents, sooner or later, but does it have to be quite so obvious? There are certain phrases that I have always associated with my family, and now I'm saying them too. It's entirely natural, of course, but it's still a bit disconcerting, to hear something and think "My mom would say that/sound that way. Why am I saying it?". It's bad enough I feel like I'm a kid masquerading as an adult... I know, we all feel that way, it's amazing society hasn't totally collapsed. I'm sure I have any number of unique mannerisms but, for some reason or another, I don't really notice those. But the moment one of those familiar phrases pass my lips, I start thinking "Oh gods, I'm channeling again". Eek! It's almost disconcerting. The habit itself is far too ingrained to quit, so maybe if I try very hard, I'll stop noticing it.
I finished the herringbone embroidery on my red skirt, although having a hoop/rack would have made it much better. The stitches are about 3/4 of an inch high and nice and even - thank god for my idea of laying down two rows of basting stitch as a guide, or I'll never have made it - but the fabric is a bit ruched, here and there, beneath the stitches. If the fabric had been under a bit of tension when I put the stitches in, I don't think that would have happened. If I decide to go ahead with doing something similar on my green skirt, I think I'll reduce the stitches in size a bit - bring them down to 3/8 inch - and see how that looks.
But, for the moment, I've got a much more important project: bloomers. Polyester biker shorts underneath two cotton skirts just don't cut it in 90plus degrees. On Saturday, it was quickly made apparent to me that it's got to be natural fibers, all the way to the skin. A shame I don't have any outrageous cotton-print so that I might follow the tradition of creating very non-period looking undergarments for Faire.
I had a nice chinwag with one of the proprietors of Pendragon about obtaining distressed leather. He had one doublet for sale in some very nicely distressed cow skin, and if it wasn't for the bizarre tartan piping he had put all over the thing (aiye!) I would have gladly contemplated saving up a few pennies for it and getting it for Alex during the off-season (Christmas present!). Anyways, I asked him if he obtained the hide already distressed, or if he distressed it himself and he told me something I had already suspected. Distressing leather is a tricky business, and it's preferable to buy the stuff already beaten-up by the tannery. However, the stuff is also damnably rare - and often only available a hide at a time. The proprietor pointed out the rather oddly piped doublet and mentioned that he found the hide for that more than a year ago and hadn't found any since. Hmm... Food for thought, that...
Incidentally, if you want a suede bodice, go to Pendragon. They fit well and last forever. Just remember to spray 'em with some Scotchguard before standing beneath the sprinklers at a hot Faire... I was looking for cloth bodices at Northern and I couldn't find a single bloody one I liked. The fabrics were either grotesquely non-period (clearly made for punters who don't care as much as I do - I'm not obsessive, damnit!) or else so vastly expensive that I realized I would much rather just go buy another suede item for the same price... Incidentally, the most reasonably-priced place in Faire - the Dye Spot - (buy your cotton clothing there, children, you will never regret it) is suffering some severe stock-shortages. Otherwise I wouldn't be needing to make bloomers! Ah well, I've got a lot of muslin lying around the house, so it's not an terrible hardship to sew my own...
Alex has been kicking ass revamping the downtime system for the CAST game. I can't take credit for a single bit of it, but his work has marginally lifted my general gloom at the whole prospect of handling downtime for that group. Also, the resurrection of 'downtime sheets' - á la the old FLAGS chronicles - has really helped give downtime a shot on the arm. Participation has more than doubled, which means more progress on the plots can be achieved. And having everyone's intended actions in the same place at the same time really helped Alex and I make the necessary connections between influences, rumors and other PCs. The rumor crop this next game should be much more interesting for the players than it usually is... Neat!
Alex has also taken over logistics (updating character sheets) because, to my utter non-surprise, Chris has totally quit the game. What did surprise me - and rather irk me - was that he did not take care of character sheets for the last game, nor did he give notice that he was leaving until, um, Sunday morning - about three hours before game-time. He got a last-minute job-offer that he couldn't refuse and I can understand how that would happen. But as of Saturday night (or whenever he got the offer) he still hadn't done the character sheets or updated the character-database. I wonder what he was planning to tell the gang if that job offer hadn't come through and Sunday morning rolled around with the character sheets undone? Hmph. Fortunately, Gaiser had a set of slightly-out-of-date character sheets for those who wanted them, otherwise we just very carefully avoided any challenges for the afternoon. Fortunately, it's not a challenge-happy crowd right now.
Further irkiness derived from the fact that Chris cleared out all the old e-mails from the Yahoo account that we use as a clearinghouse for XP expenditures and such, so characters weren't updated, nor did Alex have any record he could go back to and perhaps update people's character sheets from there. So we're going to have to ask everyone to be terribly patient and re-declare what they want to spend XP on. Some of them we've managed to figure out through extrapolation - "Mike says he wants to use his one-point Health contact, but he doesn't have Health in the database, so he must have bought that during the previous downtime..." etc. Alas, that's not going to work for everyone.
Oh, uh, the game itself? It was alright. I'm discovering that Elysium really cramps Patricia's style. But she's too squishy to be able to ignore it as she would like to. I'm considering having Patricia offer to host a future game in Malkavian territory and then not declaring Elysium. That would be interesting... It would also be hugely selfish, so I'm not going to rush off to Gaiser with the offer right away... However, I am going to continue with my ongoing plan to deeply mess with a couple of PCs and insinuate my Influences into ever-more important positions of power. Bwu-ha-ha!
And, oh yeah, SteinCorp Station is in three weeks. Let the panicking commence - again.
|T'ai / Peace||Ming I / Darkening of the Light|
Peace. The small departs, The
Darkening of the Light. In
Now it is time to look at the bigger things. Avoid
the temptation to be crass, but do not let yourself
Oh, this is just lovely... I just got a phone call from Alex.
As I had feared,
the mechanic at Ramesh's garage has just told Alex that the only way the
spark plug cylinder can be kept in place is if the head is replaced. Turns
out that, if the engine gets too hot, the epoxy (or whatever) holding the
spark plug in place loses its key qualities and everything it is supposed
to be holding together will quickly succumb to that.
This was not mentioned as a risk to us, not once. We were told that if the spark plug cylinder was replaced, we wouldn't have any more problems, period. The mechanics didn't warn Alex "Now, you want to make sure the engine doesn't get too warm, otherwise it'll crap out on you." Not even "You might want to hold off on long drives," either. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Wanna bet that the garage is going to totally backpedal and try to make excuses. If I was facing an irate customer demanding $700-some-odd dollars back, I would backpedal madly. I've got a bad feeling that we're not going to be able to get that money back short of going to court - and that's crossing my mind right now... I'm just so blinking mad about the situation. If there had been a hint of a warning that the repair was anything but permanent, Alex and I would not have taken the car any further out of town than, oh, Martinez...
I hate being angry. It makes me shrewish and nasty and the accompanying head/stomach ache ain't so hot either. I also hate the feeling that maybe Alex and I were taken in by this garage. Beyer highly recommended 'em, and the walls of the garage's office were covered with glowing testimonials, but there's always that nagging worry. What if we're the unlucky ones? Doubt and anger, wonderful.
If we're extraordinarily lucky, Ramesh will admit some culpability, and we can bully him into replacing the head at a vast discount. The mechanic quoted us $1600 to do that work and it's that 'cheap' because they've got a set of heads that got ordered and not used, or something. Get that number down to, oh, $800 and maybe we can swing it (although I don't know if we're going to be able to make the $3K target for the credit card company in that case).
Failing that, I want the $700 refunded or credited towards looking at Chief and getting him back on the road. It's doubtful if Chief can get back on the road, as he's been sitting in the back yard for a year and a half, and his engine hasn't been turned over in all that time. The last time Alex tried, he was so alarmed by the sound and smell of it that he hasn't dared try it since. Again, if we're lucky, that car might just need a good system flush, a lube job and new tires. However, there's chance that that car has a cracked head, too (long story).
If we're unlucky, Ramesh will refuse to concede anything - and it's simply our word versus his about whether or not he warned us about the possibly-temporary nature of the repair. At that point, the choice is to wash our hands of the situation (and him) or try to go to court for the money. Small claims court isn't that big of a hassle, I'm told, but I don't know if it would be worth it. As I say, it would be our word versus his, and there's no assurance that I can convince a judge otherwise... Bah.
Well, if the car is phucked, my parents can donate it for the nice little tax-break they'll get and whomever it ends up with...well, at least it'll have nice new brakes... All they would need is a mechanic who is willing to donate time and parts to get it back on the road and it'll end up helping someone who needs it.
Gack, how am I supposed to get any work done, now? Simmering fury is not conducive to updating databases...
I want to write a
lovely, thoughtful entry, I really do. But my head hurts, I'm being nibbled
to death by guppies at work and I'm in a foul mood, anyways. So to hell with
being thoughtful and tactful.
I appreciate the well-meant advice of everyone who said 'toss the car!', but it just wasn't an option right now. Whilst Alex and I can pay off a loan, we just can't get approved for one, so going to Honest Abe's Used Car Lot was not an option. Believe me, when we got told that the engine head had melted into slag, it was very tempting. As it is, Ramesh has cut us a break - knocked 25% off the estimate - and we're getting a new head put into the Sable. It still won't be very smart to take it out for too long - strictly bay area jaunts - but it should last until the transmission falls out... Knowing my luck, that will happen next week, although the mechanics have given the car a thorough going over and have said that, providing we don't let it ever overheat again ever, it should run for a goodly long time.
So now I'm trying to plan how we can jaunt up to Faire without overheating the car. The likelihood of stopping in Novato for long, leisurely meals on the way there and back has been contemplated...
And this leaves us a bit short of what we were hoping to hand over to our creditors on the 15th. If we go back to Top Ramen and such economies, we will probably have $2K for them, which will calm them down, but I don't think they'll write off the rest of the debt. The collector perked up at the higher amount, go figure. But they've been wanting this money for two years, so either they can be paid off almost immediately, or they're going to want every single penny of $6500... ugh.
OK, I wrote that
last night. I'm a bit more cheerful now. Alex and I counted pennies,
realized that things aren't as good as we could hope, but they could be a
lot worse. I think it took Alex a while longer to realize that than I had
anticipated. Sure, we get into scrapes, but we can get out of them.
Of course, today's little bit of bad news was a tip I received from someone on Craig's List. I've got to verify it, but it seems a lot of charity-places won't take early-model Hyundais because, apparently, they've got a tendency to throw rods. Oh great. So much for even getting a tax write-off for Chief. Still, it might not be true...
My transformation into Martha Stewart's weird sister continues. I was reading about home-made liqueurs the other day and thinking that such a project might be a nummy thing to undertake. Then I started think that such home-brew would be good Christmas presents for some of my friends - and now is the time to start, forsooth. Then I started thinking about pretty bottles and gift baskets. Aiye! If I start planting things next spring, shoot me.
Not that Alex is noticing any of this, mind you. Alex is too busy playing with his belated-birthday present from Jennifer. Right now, the world could blow up around him and, unless an alert went to his Handspring, he would have no idea. Fortunately, I'm too fond of Jenn to get aggravated by the fact that she bought my hunny something I couldn't afford for him... :)
I've got to stop
dreaming of England. It's been seventeen years and it's getting a bit
monotonous now. Last night was particularly wearing. I thought I was in my
grandmother's house and realized that I couldn't be there. I looked
at myself in the mirror and said "This is a dream. It's got to stop.
Wake up.". The scene erased itself like something being swiped off a
chalkboard and I woke up. I can catch myself dreaming about three quarters
of the time, usually within the first few 'minutes'. I would rather cut the
dream short and be disappointed, then let it go on for a while, and still
wake up disappointed and disoriented.
What I really need to do is get my ass over to England and heave that particular load of mental baggage off the end of the Brighton Pier, but whenever I start thinking I can save up for a holiday and get my passport renewed, the rest of my life gets in the way. I just need four months without some major financial screwup, and I could do it. Getting the vacation time is a bridge I'll cross when I get to it. I need the cash and the paperwork, first...
Tried to sew a quick-and-dirty pair of bloomers last night and managed to cut the 'rise' a good two inches too short. Oops. The things were so fast to cut and put together that it's going to be quicker to cut a new pattern and sew that, rather than unpicking the stitching on the current pair and re-cutting the crotch seams. I even had an evil little thought about stopping by the sewing store for a yard of silk - silk bloomers! - but I can't quite justify it. Maybe if it's on sale... Silk bloomers would be comfy...
I'm suffering a palette crisis in my Faire garb. I've got four skirts - a beat-up brown one that is really best as an underskirt, and three new ones in navy blue, cranberry and green. Two bodices - one green, one black - and an off-white chemise. I've realized that I can't wear too much green at once, nor can I really mix the red and green - ie, have the green as an underskirt with the red on top - without risking inevitable Christmas comments. Also, one's red-green colorblind husband has to be kept in mind. I don't want to wear an ensemble that would give him a migraine. Fortunately, the green bodice is a dark enough green that it doesn't bug him... Anyways. So, I'm thinking about getting some more color into my faire wardrobe - for both skirts and chemises - and I'm a bit stumped. Black is out. It's too hot and Muddy Meg the Peasant wouldn't own much of anything black, the bodice is enough. One has to stay away from pastels and godawful designers colors - no rose, no goldenrod, no sky blue. I look heinous in yellow. I'm told teal is actually period, but I look even worse in that than I do in yellow. I'm a winter, not a summer... ;) Sigh. I'm going to look for other shades of dark red and brown, I think, and see how that goes... If only the selection of 100% cotton at the discount fabric joint was a little broader...
Um. Er. Errrrrm.... Oh yeah! Tuesday, Alex and I had a really productive meeting with Gaiser about the CAST game. He filled in a lot of blanks that Alex and I had concerning some of the plots and - to put it bluntly - Alex and I bullied Gaiser into considering some new directions for plots that are in game. Like any GM, Mike will re-run plots that he considered a hit. Unfortunately, he's got a lot of the same players for some of this, so they're getting a bit vexed about it. Over heart-stopping burgers at Nations, we had some brainwaves and I think the players will like the direction things are going to go in over the next two games. If they bother to keep up with the plot, that is.
Oh gods. SteinCorp. Oh god. Plots are done, costuming isn't, re-casting isn't. Panic mode, on!