Work has been extremely quiet. It's Thursday morning and the boss isn't in yet. I think the
flight back from Hong Kong took more out of him than he might have anticipated. Whatever, it gives me time to do some web tinkering
that has to be done. Once he gets here, we've got to crank up a few projects and I know I won't have any time for goofiness
Meanwhile, it seems that all my friends are suffering New Year job anxiety. I guess a lot of companies just don't have the heart to lay anyone off between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which results in mass layoffs on January 2nd. Only one friend of mine has lost his job - he's a web designer, so I'm sure he'll have a new offer before the end of the week - but several other friends (including Alex!) are encountering bad omens at their workplaces. Sheesh. Bad karma all 'round.
Glory be! I found the diskette I was looking for. Okay, so it was in my bag the whole time... I
overlooked it... or something... Anyways, pictures from the photo-safari. It turned out
to be a very touristy day out, but I had a grand time. I started at the wharf, then bused back to downtown for lunch with Alex.
Then I wandered along bits of the Barbary Coast trail through the financial district and North Beach. A quick diversion to South
of Market (and the discount fabric warehouse, ahem) followed, and I ended back where I began on upper Market Street. I wanted
to go out to the Presidio, but, since I really wanted to have lunch with Alex, my schedule didn't allow it.
I really enjoyed visiting the USS Pampatino, a WWII submarine at the Maritime Museum. I've been meaning to visit it for ages. It was tres nifty, although I think the self-guided tour was far too short. Mind you, I'm the one who got scolded by the staff for trying to wriggle into places that were closed to visitors. The self-guided tour goes through one deck, but there are gratings and gangways elsewhere... I'm lucky I didn't break my neck. I dam' near did break my neck when I took a moment to stand in the officer's quarters with my eyes closed. Without visual input, that pitch and roll is far more apparent...
I did my usual visit to the Hyde Street Pier and the ships C.A. Thayer and Balclutha. I took lots of photos there because Alex is deep amidst a nautical/piratical story he's writing, and I thought some nifty pictures might be useful for him. Dave, too, can always use pictures for 7th Sea... I also dropped a chunk of cash at the museum bookstore and picked up some interesting volumes. Of particular interest is The Black Ship, which describes one of the bloodiest mutinies in British Naval history - on the HMS Hermione. Of course, Alex needed it just when I was getting to the good parts. Hmph. And he still hasn't finished Life Under The Black Flag - the Romance of Reality of Pirate Life.
You don't even want to know about the CD of pirate shanties I picked up. Trust me.
Anyways, the rest of my day was just me doing my best to get lost in the financial district and North Beach. I had a good map with me, but I tried to avoid going anywhere I had been before. By 3PM, though, I was starting to get cranky, so that's when I remembered that, gosh, I'm not too far from that fabric place I liked to visit when I worked at vivid... You know you've spent too much at a place when the manager recognizes you after a two-month absence... I picked up some lovely red velour - which was made into the too-long dress mentioned before...
And then I met up with Alex and went home. Whew!
Next time, I'm going to go to the Presidio and Cliff House area, I think...
Well, I did it. After signing up as a beta tester a few weeks ago, I logged on to Castle Marrach.
"I'll just check it out..." I thought. " See what it's like...". Yeah, right. Good thing I did this during a vacation day, as I logged about 12 hours play time in two days. And while the boss isn't in the office... *artless whistle*...
The interface is a bit clunky - after all, it's still in Beta test. But the bugs aren't too severe and most of the other players are reasonably intelligent, which is a relief. I was rather afraid that the majority of the playership would be the kind of fantasy gamer I can't stand. Y'know the type, forty-year-old women who haven't learned that calling themselves 'Galadriel Starfire Unicorn' does not make them mysterious and alluring. And let's not forget the eighteen-year-old girls with a penchant for chain-mail bikinis and bubble-brains... Fortunately, the worst I've encountered are some characters who are a little too into the angsty side of the game's premise. You want angst, go play one of them 'contemporary urban horror/cyberpunk/whatever' games, I say.
So, it's been fun. The trick, now, is to not get too addicted to it. Or, if I do, get it out of my system before Alex files for divorce and names the computer as an alienator of affections. The fact that I've picked a picture for my character, Chavelle, is not a good sign.
My first-attempt at running a tabletop game in two years - the pulp Cthulhu chronicle - seemed to go quite well. Well enough for the players to be willing to keep going. I'm set to run the second part of the first episode on Sunday. I've got the second episode nicely squared away, but I've got to figure out the hook and progression for the concluding episode. I would prefer to get it done before I run part two, so I can plant any foreshadowing bits I might need in the apt places. Despite my initial rustiiness, it feels pretty good to be GMing again. We'll see how long it lasts.
Rich just sent out a rant at the Casting the Runes players and I'm feeling a little torn about how to react.
Rich wants players to participate more in downtime. As a GM of another Vampire LARP, I can sympathize with that frustration. However, the game has been on such a long break (nearly four months) that I know I'm not the only player who was thinking that Rich had burned out again and that the game had died a quiet death. When one isn't hearing from the GM, it's hard to know what they want. And then to receive a rather accusatory, grumbling e-mail complaining about our lack of downtime involvement... Well, it rankles a bit...
When Aragon launched, with its hand-picked playership, I had some pretty high hopes - as Rich did, I think, for his game. I expected a huge amount of role-playing and downtime interaction. After all, I had a bunch of really smart, really creative people in the group. Reality soon settled in. In Aragon's case, there are four players who really dig downtime and do a lot with it, and maybe two or three others who'll do a little of this or that, depending on their free time. The other dozen, we hear not a peep from between games. Not only that, but those dozen complained about the GM expectations of downtime involvement.
After three months of trying to get the players involved - attempts ranging from downtime-only plots to plots that required the characters pay attention to the between-game in-character bulletins to avoid being ****ed by the plotline - I gave up. I was angry and feeling burned out but, the playership had spoken. They didn't want downtime. The honest truth was that most of the playership didn't have the inclination to wade into a game like they would have a couple of years ago. Most of them didn't have the time. Some of them had burned out. It's taken me a while to get used to that and I guess I still am getting used to it. I wonder if that's what has overcome the players of Casting the Runes? A dose of changing priorities, combined with doubt about the game's very existence could very well have caused the extended silence that has so upset the ST...
I'm wondering if perhaps I should drop out of the game, entirely. I like my character, Sarah Devereaux, but I'm not feeling particularly inspired by her. Nor have I felt horribly compelled by the plots. I know Rich has put together some lulus and some of the PCs are up to their very earlobes in machinations, but not me. In my own defense, I would like to say that I don't consider myself the kind of player who waits for plots to come to her - but I've got to reluctantly admit that, so far, the chronicle hasn't inspired me to the same level of involvement that I've had in other Vampire LARPs. Judging by the rather disgruntled tone of Rich's missive, it's apparent that he wants a high level of involvement from his players, and I'm wondering if I can provide that. If I can't, I should stop wasting his time, right?
For the moment, I'm undecided. I really like Rich, and I usually love his games - he's one of the smartest GMs I know. But this time around... I'm just being left cold by this chronicle, barring occasional moments of amusing RP with certain characters... If I had to point a finger at problem, I would say it lies within me, not within the game. That much is pretty obvious, now that I think about it. So... Maybe I should quit.
Damn, it feels
like I'm quitting games all over the place. Rob is getting ready to run a
D&D LARP based on some series of books, and - recent Marrach-ing aside -
I'm quite unenthused by fantasy gaming. So I sincerely doubt I'll be
involved in that. I've contemplated stepping out of Dave's 7th Sea
game to make more room for those who would remain. I didn't even bother
asking for an invite to his D&D game...
There are even times when I wonder if Aragon is really worth the time (and money!!) Alex and I put into it. The players have a good time while they're onsite but it's not like we're providing an experience of lasting value for anyone. The deeply-entrenched four aside, I doubt any of the players give the game a minute's thought more than 24 hours to either side of game-day. Okay, most of gaming falls under the category of 'ephemeral fun' but I'm starting to believe that I would get more lasting value from running two or three 'special events' every year - Cthulhu LARPs, or that Time Lord/Dr.Who LARP I keep kicking around. Something really special, in gaming terms... After all, practically everyone has run a Vampire game of one flavor or another, but who's handled a bunch of Time Academy students hunting down spare parts for their TARDIS?
Or maybe I'm just burning out. That would be the easiest explanation...
Hmph, Debi was supposed to call me last night and she didn't. Admittedly, there was an availability caveat but, of course, I got my hopes all pumped up. Ah well. She's been a little frazzled since her boyfriend proposed to her just before Christmas, so I can understand that phone-calls to long-lost acquaintances are pretty far down the list of things to do.
It seems I somewhat misinterpreted what Rich said in his recent missives. Yes, he's vexed at the playership. But he wants them to get more involved at the game itself. Downtime... well, he would like to see more involvement, but he's not foolish enough to hold his breath for that.
Of course, I feel some vague guilty rumblings in that regard. I've not been feeling inspired by Casting The Runes, as I've said before, and I know that there's only one person who can fix that: me. The question is, do I want to? Part of me really wants to stick around and see the chronicle through - which means I'll have to knuckle down and do some work on Sarah - so I can give Rich a better idea of what would engage her, as well as providing me with some clearer motives and justifications. Sigh, when did gaming become work?
The other part of me - the lazy part, no doubt - is muttering that if I haven't felt inspired, yet, I'm not about to... Maybe I'm lacking ideas because this is the first time I've played and honest-to-gosh elder in a larp and it's the first time I've had to wrap my head around the motives of such a character. Before, when I've played elders, it's been as one-shot NPCs for other games, so I didn't have to worry about long-term goals... I thought the ideas would come far easier than they have. Fat lot I know about playing elders, it seems...
I feel like I owe it to Rich to at least try. Whether or not something comes of it has yet to be seen.
On a much sillier
note, OFOGcon is rapidly spiralling out of control. OFOGcon is
an elaborate device for a room party at the upcoming DunDraCon, by
and for the self-proclaimed Old Farts Of Gaming. Hence the acronym.
It started off as a running joke: what would the perfect con for a bunch of OFOGs be? Well, there's no point in scheduling games, as OFOGs are notoriously picky about who they'll play with and won't sign up for a game with a bunch of strangers. Panels would be pointless, as the OFOGs have heard all interesting gaming topics done to death already - usually by themselves at some other gaming convention - and who wants to hear a panel on an uninteresting topic. LARPS? Forget it. Most OFOGs would rather pull out their eyes than play a LARP - mostly because your average larper is too young to drink or even hit on... (ask me about the time I invited a convention larper over to the bar, only to discover he was sixteen...wince)
Ultimately, we (Dave, Alex and I) realized that a convention for OFOGs would really just be a huge-assed drinking party in the bar at another convention. Given that the DunDraCon bar is always packed out during convention time, we realized that we would have to turn it into a room party to assure we had enough room...oops, we are planning to run this, aren't we?
Next thing you know, I'm making fliers and talking about tee-shirts for OFOGcon ½. Oy...
I've just about thrown off the last dregs of the Martian Death Flu that was trying to take over my life - yay! But that's left me out of excuses to chicken out of the photo-shoot, boo! I took a good long look in the mirror today, y'see.... Ugh. "That is not my ass," thought I. "My ass was never that...lumpy...". Oh well, no backing out, now. I'm locked in for the waxing, etc. And, given how ouchy said waxing might be, 'locked in' might have to be taken literally - or 'locked down' at least...
Toy freaks! You cannot live without a personalized action figure! Go there! Now! Where was this site when I was looking for Christmas presents for Alex? Hm, maybe for his birthday... Heh heh heh.
Oy vey, I finally pulled my socks up and got back to the webrings I had been ignoring since, oh, October. I'm moving my two largest rings to new hosts - I recommend RingSurf - and letting the ring members know that they've got to re-apply and paste new code onto their pages. It's a chore, but anything is better than the current Yahoo/webring interface. It's not too bad because the new host automatically generated customized HTML for the member site, thus saving a lot of hunting and pecking on the part of the sitemaster... It's the small things that matter...
been counting my pennies and, barring a nice fat tax refund (not this year,
kids) I'm not sure how we're going to manage Geek Week this year. The
annoying thing is, if I just had to worry about covering convention tix,
hotel room and food, we would be okay. But we're going to have to kennel the
dog for a total of six days, possibly rent a car to get to DunDraCon (our
current beast wouldn't make it even that far) and, heck, what's a con
without a little spending money? And now we're in trouble. All told, Geek
Week could put us out the best part of a grand. We can afford that, maybe,
but I don't know how much of a good time I would have if I was worrying
about money all the damn time.
If I had to choose, I would choose going to Gallifrey One. I've been to DunDraCon half a dozen times and, if worst comes to worst, I could probably hitch a ride down there with some friends and at least visit during the day. But I've been meaning to go to go to Gallifrey One for years and this is my best chance to do so... And a change of local scene would be nice...
I'm going to stick with Casting The Runes for at least one more game, probably two. If I can't get my act together after that, then I had better stop wasting Rich's time and get out.
and I had a very interesting chat earlier today about the future of Aragon...
I've been having a hard think about it and I've come to the conclusion that, despite my best efforts otherwise, I've got too much of my ego tied up in the game. If players don't respond to e-mails or calls for opinions, I get weird and resentful. This is not a good thing. A GM with their sense of self-esteem tied into a game is never going to be a happy GM, as there is no such thing as a perfect game.
I also suffer from laziness. When an idea is fresh and new, I love it, I'm enthusiastic, I'm all over it. But I'm not so hot at the follow-through. I love creating plots, but I hate all the fiddly bits that have to be done to keep plots going. For a while now, I've been feeling like I'm not pulling my weight in Aragon at all and, more to the point, I've been feeling less and less guilty about that - and that's a plain mean thing to do to a perfectly nice bunch of players...
So, earlier today, Dave and I were talking about how to handle running the game once he moves out of Miskatonic Acres. With a broken car and a tendency to prefer staying at home, I already knew it was going to be tough for Dave, Alex and I to keep in touch. Given the recent spatting in the House That Cthulhu Built, it's also crossed my mind that Alex isn't going to be too forthcoming in keeping in touch with Dave once he's gone. So, I had been debating a variety of scenarios, such as Alex and I alone running the game, or shutting Aragon down, or...something.
Three months ago, I wouldn't have had any doubts that Alex and I could run the game between us, but that's all changed now - see 'realizations', above. Then Dave says to me today that some people have approached him and asked him if he would be running his own larp when the 'inevitable splitup' occurred. Hm...
I'm not going to lie to myself. I'm not the best GM. I'm a great 'front-person' and cheerleader, and I can occasionally come up with some good plot twists but, overall, I'm not so hot. I hate handling logistics, I'm very impatient with munchkin-players - and my definition of 'munchkin' is "Pretty much anyone who doesn't agree with me" and there's the whole outstanding commitment problem. So, even though it hurt my stupid little ego to entertain the possibility that people might rather be in a game run by Dave, I can admit that it would probably be a better game without me.
And, if rumor be right, it sounds like the playership would rather be in a game run just by Dave... I would rather see a game with happy players, y'know?
Ideally, if Alex and Dave could run a game together, that would be great. Dave said as much, himself, even while admitting that he's given thought to running Aragon by himself. Alex kicks ass on logistics and Dave is one of the most twisted plotters I know. But I think a collaboration between them is unfeasible. There's a lingering sludge of unpleasantness that will make true collaboration impossible for a long time, yet. Now, Dave believes otherwise, and maybe he's right...
But that still leaves the whole mess of trying to bring the idea of radically changing the order of things to Alex. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think he'll take it well. I think he'll take it as some sort of thinly-veiled attack on his ability to craft a larp, followed by some nasty introspective paranoid brooding about what the players really think of him. Maybe I'm selling him short, but that's how I would react if this situation got sprung on me, and my hunnybun and I are pretty similar in a lot of ways.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking that the talk 'twixt me and Dave was a cosmic kick in the ass regarding a growing belief I've had for a few weeks now: that I would be much happier running one-shots and special events. They don't require the ongoing commitment that has been turning me off from regular LARPs, and they offer more variety than sticking to one single genre does. And, if I may toot my own horn for a second, I'm great at creating characters for one-shot events. The combination of no-long-term-repercussion and the need to hook a player, quickly, into an event always brings out the best in me. More to the point, I like doing it.
One-shot events can cost more money than an ongoing game - as I tend to get prop-crazy - but Alex and I have a good store of reusable props, these days, and if we're only running events two or three times a year, it would all even out, really.
The more I think about it, the more I feel that I should definitely get out of Aragon, and that Alex should consider it. It's a shame, really, as I had such an idealized vision of how things would be, when the chronicle launched. No doubt, such visions are at least partially to blame for the resultant disenchantment...
More news as events warrant...
The older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young... - Baz Luhrmann
Photos with BJ went very well - we both had a good time. Much mucking about with various lacey scraps was done. We'll both be far happier when we see how the pictures came out, I'm sure. Sucking my stomach in for two hours was quite an exercise... Now I just need to clean up the rest of the house that I managed to trash while cleaning out the Room of Doom... The boxes are out of the living room, but now they're all over the living room, the kitchen, the hallways...
missed Deborah's call to me on Thursday! Incidentally, I noticed she's not
going by 'Debi' any more, so I'm trying to change my habits, accordingly.
But, on the upside, Stephen called and I had a lovely long chat with him.
He's doing very well, to the point of considering buying a bigger house (he
wants a workroom and Asha wants a real dining room) and our friends are in
varying degrees of trouble, as usual.
Worryingly enough, one of my friends has been arrested on charges of 'attempted sexual assault on a minor'. I know this friend well enough to know that he would never violate another person's trust, so I've got to assume that the silly fool didn't look at her ID before bringing her home. Sigh. What's worse is that he's pretty much doomed - it's hard to deny guilt when photographs are involved - and that could mean registration as a sexual offender, at best - and prison time at worst. Aiyee! My friends are too sensitive to go to prison, dammit!
But, otherwise, things are all quiet on the Eastern front.
As a follow-up, I called Sarah Kindred (formerly of the East Coast crowd, now of Las Vegas) on Friday and had a long talk with her, too. She, too, is doing quite well - up and down, but more ups than downs. Her 'skinny' Great Dane (starved down to 80lbs while owned by some abusive git) is recovering nicely from emergency surgery for a gastric torsion, and Chris (Sarah's husband) is dealing well with the recent death of his grandmother, so all idiot-lights are green in her house. Bless 'em, Sarah said they are more than willing to help us out with running a Cthulhu LARP in the desert. You gotta love gaming friends...
So, through dint
of nepotism and sheer persistence, I have a writing-for-gaming gig coming
up. Blackgate is a gaming 'zine that is apparently so short of
submissions that they are willing to consider hacks such as myself to do
short reviews for their publication. Heh. I'm not complaining. I'll be
reviewing the Vodacce sourcebook and the Nosferatu Clan Novel for the next
ish. If I get real tense during the week leading up to March 1st, that will
be because my deadline is approaching... The editor/solicitor chap that
I have been corresponding with knows how to bolster an ego, though. He told
me he loved "Cthluhu In My Refrigerator"...
And I think the gig even pays, too! Three cents per word or some such, but, honestly I don't give a rat's ass about the payment. Really.
Alex and I had a
talk about the fate of Aragon and, to my surprise, we were in close
agreement. We have decided to hand the game off to Dave as soon as it's
possible. It turns out that Alex has been thinking he would be much happier
running two or three special events every year, rather than an ongoing game,
too. Wow. I'm glad things have been settled so easily, as the potential for
ugliness was just vast.
So, now we're rethreading our minds to think about such Cthulhu LARPs as Fear Stalks Whitechapel, Valley of the Kings and Thirteen Days in October and non-Cthulhu events such as Babylon 5: Steincorp Station and Burning Cross, California. That last one probably won't fly as a larp, because while a setting that is evocative of Twin Peaks sounds great in theory, I can't see it working as a one-shot event - and I don't want to start another ongoing larp...
In the meantime, I'm going to keep tooling my Dr. Who larp idea - good silly fun - and looking forward to a proposed Changeling live-action event that James, Laurel and Dave are thinking about running this summer.
I've been dreaming a lot lately - some good, a few bad and mostly all strange. In particular, I've been dreaming about boats and the ocean, a lot. I'm sure there's some wonderful Jungian interpretation to all that, but maybe I just need to go to the beach. I haven't been by the sea in a few months...
I wallowed in old
friendships over the weekend. I called Sarah Kindred over in Las Vegas and
chatted with her a little bit. She's going through some family crazies - the
least of which involves having to take her Great Dane in for emergency
surgery - but she's holding up very well. Given that she's the closest of
the old East-Coast crew, I really should make an effort to see her more
often. Weirdly enough, Duran Duran are playing in Las Vegas at the end of
March, and I'm giving some thought to hopping a Southwest flight to go see 'em
- as that's the closest they're getting to San Francisco, this time around.
Maybe I'll just grab Alex and make a weekend out of it...
I also managed to catch up with Deborah, finally. It was a little odd to be reaching for conversation topics after not talking for something like six years. Deborah, however, showed her documentarian leanings by firing a whole barrage of questions at me about what I've been up to. I might be wrong, but I think it's the first time she's managed to dominate a conversation between us. If you think I'm a chatterbox now, you should have known me in high school...
Deborah seems very happy with her situation and apparently Providence is a far nicer place to live than I had heard. It was great to hear her voice again, after so long. We've promised each other we'll visit if we find ourselves in the other's neighborhood, of course. Providence is less than two hours from Hartford, so I might be able to make good on that promise when I next visit. I'm already giving some thought to dashing out over Memorial Day weekend, again - if Alex and I aren't doing anything for Chuckling Cthulhu, that is.
The cleaned-out Room of Doom didn't last as long as I had hoped. Alex has decided to lay claim to the place for sorting his comic collection. He's got a lot of comics - about thirteen long boxes, that I know of - so the place is now knee deep in paper. Oy vey. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. I'm not going to begrudge the man his hobbies. After all, he knows what I've got in mind for Dave's room once he's moved out - sewing central!
As catty as it sounds, I'm very ready for Dave to move out of Miskatonic Acres. I know I'm a spendthrift, but I don't believe that I'm racking up $120 phone bills and $100 PG&E bills all by myself. It was bad enough last month, with the nigh-bankrupt utility providers cranking things up by an order of magnitude. At this rate, Alex and won't be able to do anything next month aside from eat Saltines in the dark. Of course, I'm looking forward to having my house back for other reasons, too, but the joys of running around in one's underwear are rather secondary to having enough room to sprawl...
I've pulled myself back from the edge of the abyss with Castle Marrach. I like it, I really do but I just can't dedicate the serious day-and-night time that seems to be required to have a full experience with it. If I didn't have a husband and hobbies like sewing and reading that take up time away from the computer, then some serious mucking-about might be feasible. But it ain't. Ah well. I'll keep helping Addreama out with her web-page, though, as I promised I would - until she learns HTML, at least...
I had an interesting chat with Chris Brecheen yesterday, about why I was chucking Aragon. He told me that he had gotten the impression that I didn't really want to, but I felt obligated to give the game up. Reading back through the journal, I can see how he might think that but, during the course of our conversation, I was able to better clarify my reasons for wanting to leave. It went something along the lines of: When I began the game, I had some very lofty visions and ideals as to what it would be about. Of course, the reality didn't quite match and even after lowering my standards, I still couldn't reconcile my vision and the game's reality. In order to bring them closer together, I would have to impose some very serious changes on the game, and I think the players wouldn't like a lot of what I've got in mind. And I'm lazy - too lazy to be the draconian bitch required to bring everything together - a case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh is too tired. So, my spirit is kinda disgusted right now - not surprised, just disgusted. But I'm not going to drive another game into the ground and myself mad with frustration while wishing for a prettier reality. Does that make any more sense? It did to me.
I've been tinkering with the proposed website for Chuckling Cthulhu. It's been a lot of fun. As usual, I'm going a little overboard with the costuming section, but what else is new? Now I've just got to get the games together! Alex and I are already arguing about logistics, but it's nothing we can't deal with. I think I've just got to put my foot down and insist that if I'm going to handle casting, I'll be doing it my way. If my way turns out to be horrendously sucky, then I'll change it.
Thinking of trepidatious ventures, Rob is getting ready to run a D&D LARP based upon a series of books he likes. I like Rob, and I'll happily plug his game to all and sundry, but I'm going to stay away from it, myself. I don't think Rob's going to burn himself out again - well, not at first - but I don't want to wade into another LARP when I want to be concentrating on Chuckling Cthulhu. And, it pains me to say it, but I can really do without about 70% of fantasy larpers, having encountered them back in the days of Adventurers' Inn and The Inn at Stoneshold... Oh that other 30% were lovely people, but the majority kinda made me wince. I wasn't entirely sure that they weren't a little too into the genre - grown women who have legally changed their name to Unicorn Starfire and suchlike...
and I have counted pennies and have decided that, in order to have a good
time at Gallifrey One, we're going to seriously cut down our presence at
DunDraCon. We're going to cancel our hotel reservations which, in turn,
saves us from having to kennel Sandy and, of course, it saves me god only
knows how much in bar bills. Alex and I are going to rent the cheapest car
on planet Earth to go visit the convention on Saturday afternoon/evening,
but that's all. The OFOG event has been postponed until next year - unless
Dave decides to run it himself...
Things are still going to be a little tight - but I'm breathing a lot easier, now. DunDraCon was looking to cost us...well... a lot. I want Alex and I to be able to have fun at Gallifrey One without my pissing and moaning about every dime we spend. Next year, the conventions are back to clashing again - and will for the three years following - so I'm glad we've got this chance. Thank heavens for nice friends with airplanes! I'm rather looking forward to flying with Kevin and Colette again, it's been a while. Oh dear, I think the hobby is growing on me...
I've been dreaming about Panda again, lately. Panda was a stuffed panda-bear
- go figure - that I carried pretty much constantly from my birth until I
lost him in LAX airport about half an hour after arriving in the United
States back in '84. And some people wonder why I was cranky when I first got
here... Aw, I jest. Sorta.
Like any little kid, I really dug my fabric friend and I wasn't too happy about losing him. But, y'know, time passes and it's been, gosh, nearly seventeen years at this point. It shouldn't bother me any more, right? Right? Don't be silly, of course it still bothers me - but only when I'm having some damfool dream about finding him again. I hate those dreams. I can usually realize that I'm dreaming during the course of events and stop it before I get too giddy and excited, but then I have to deal with crashing disappointment and not a little anger at my subconscious for dragging it all up, again.
Of course, it's symptomatic of something - although I'm not sure what. When I'm stressed out, I dream of certain things, but I've not been feeling particularly upset about anything, lately. There are a whole bunch of little things - bills, roommate, Alex's job - that I suppose could be piling up on me. But gooey sentimental dreams do not help. I would give away every book I own to have that dratted stuffed bear back again...
Hell, I've got to change the subject. I'm getting all sniffly and I can't do that at the office.
I finished reading Dark Genesis the other day. It's the first book in the Psi-Corp trilogy and it was rather fun. The characterizations were rather predictable, albeit pleasant, but the pacing was quite speedy and the plot was pretty tight. The book earns a space on my 'fun reading' list. We'll see how the next two volumes pan out.
Damn and blast it! Alex and I just put $250 into the car - getting the new radiator put in and whole bunch of hoses replaced - and now the bloody thing is spewing oil and still overheating. This is a Bad Thing, as it strongly suggests that the head has finally given up the ghost and that means Levi has to go to the junkyard in the sky - and Alex and I will have to put more money down - either to fix Chief (who might also have a cracked head) or into buying a new car... Damn, damn, damn.
I'm totally unready for Aragon tomorrow, but I don't care. I guess it's a good thing I'm quitting, huh?
and I have been wrangling over some issues about Chuckling Cthulhu,
namely character-casting. Alex prefers the 'random drawing' method to match
players to characters, but I think that if we're charging people $25-$50 per
event, they should get some say in what they play. I wouldn't go as far as
letting an attendee entirely create their own character - as that would not
insure them any involvement with the event - but I'm all for asking players
for a general idea of what they would want to be and trying to match my
pre-generated characters to the player's general desires. A few refinements
can be added to a rather generic character to better ensure that they'll
suit the prospective player, and everyone's happy.
Rather I think everyone would be happy. The player gets to participate, somewhat, in the creation process, so they know they'll be getting something they want to play. But the GMs are sufficiently in-charge of the process so that there will be some surprises for the player when game-time rolls around. Alex, meanwhile, thinks that if we've done the right thing and attracted good role-players, they will be able to play anything they get handed. Sure, they could, but would they want to? One friend of mine is very hot for playing a Centauri in a Babylon 5 LARP. He could play anything we handed him - he's a good gamer - but he wouldn't be happy if it wasn't a Centauri. And unhappy-gamer-vibes have a way of polluting an entire event. This is the Voice Of Experience speaking, kids.
If we were running these games for the usual five-dollars-apiece price, I would be all for random pickings. A five-dollar event suggests that I haven't put 200 man-hours into creating characters, buying props, setting up the location, etc... If I'm going to be lavish with my production values, I should be lavish spending time on character/player matchups. Anything less would smack of hypocrisy.
It might be said (although I don't think Alex said it during our talk) that if a player didn't like a randomly-drawn character, they could always swap with another player. Uh-uh. I don't approve of players swapping around because they'll have knowledge of at least one character other than their own and I like to build secrets into a character right from the get-go. Why take chances on a player's ability to keep out-of-character information strictly OOC? I'm sure most of them could, but why risk it in the first place?
I think Alex fears that it will take too much of my time to cast characters in the way I'm envisioning, but I guess I haven't made him realize that I think it's worth it and I like doing it. I enjoy the challenge of matching a player's desires and the needs of the game. It's like a psychological jigsaw puzzle - albeit a rather simplified one. I also believe that putting the time into assuring a player has a character they feel enthusiastic about increases the chance of their actually attending the event up by an order of magnitude. I love gamers but, speaking as one, we're a flaky lot. It's one thing to miss a game when you feel ho-hum about the character. It's another thing entirely to miss a game when you really like your character. Heck, during Bedlam's Rest, I was in agony when I missed a chance to play Rachel.
Furthermore, the kinds of plots we're putting together for Chuckling Cthulhu could be really fucked up if even a single character pulls a last-minute flakeout. I see any attempt to prevent that as a worthwhile investment of my time. Or am I taking things too far? I suspect that's what Alex believes... Well, time will tell who's right, I guess.
Hm. Someone has
taken to copying chunks of journal and forwarding them other people. More to
the point, when I'm ascribing opinions - usually about other people -
someone has taken it on their behalf to share those opinions with those
other people. Now, I know it's a hazard of publishing one's journal online -
that someone will decide to share what I write with other people, without
asking for my opinion or consent, first. But the apparent motives of this
particular little news-spreader are, I suspect, less than charming. Bluntly
put, I think someone is having a grand time trying to stir up shit for no
good reason. The fact that they're showing a penchant for just copying
chunks of text - out of context - and e-mailing them around backs up that
After watching (and being involved with) some spats about sharing-too-much via an online journal - usually of the "How come you could share that with the entire world-wide-web but not me, privately?" variety, I had long ago decided to keep rampantly negative opinions out of this venue. It pulls what few teeth this journal has, but I think the tradeoff is worth it. At this point, any dark mutterings I make in the Ramblings I have either already shared with the object of my ire or - most often - I honestly don't think that the matter is worth sharing with the person in question. Most of my dissatisfaction with anything can fade pretty quickly if I just vent and then leave it alone. I solve my own problems.
But it seems that someone has decided that, gosh, if I'm putting these things online then they simply must be shared with all concerned parties. The appeal of this course of action escapes me. Of course, the obvious answer is that said Sharer Of Johanna's Writings is a bored gossip with too much time on their hands. That would make sense.
I have a candidate in mind for who's been doing this. Despite my grumblings about a small readership, there aren't too many people who stop by this venue who would have the contact information for everyone who has so far been receiving missives from the Ramblings. The suspected culprit is likely responsible for pulling similar shenanigans with Abstract Thoughts but that's another kettle of fish entirely - and it just narrowed down my list of suspects to precisely one person...
Honestly, the situation wouldn't vex me so much if the culprit had bothered to drop me a line and suggest "Hey Johanna, have you shared blah with so-and-so? Maybe you should?". That's the approach a problem-solving friend would take - or so I like to think. As it is, I'm having to cope with "Uh, Johanna, someone sent me this bit from your journal. I had to promise that I wouldn't say who did it...". Anonymity is the refuge of the coward, non? It's certainly not the approach of someone who is trying to solve an issue - quite the opposite, in fact.
No, I'm not going to name my suspect. Firstly, I might be wrong, and I don't fancy dealing with the fallout if I am. Secondly, I think I am right, but I know the culprit will deny it vehemently, turn himself into a martyr and badmouth me to all and sundry from that point onwards. Thirdly, I know the suspect just loves seeing his name in print, so why satisfy his ego?
Hell, even if I am right, what does it matter? I can't tell the individual to quit reading this journal or at least quit playing messenger-pigeon, because he won't. Nor do I see any point in trying to move the URL (again!) because he'll only find it again, sooner or later - and if I'm reading his malicious intent correctly, he will look for the Ramblings so he can keep doing what he has done before. But I'm not going to totally sanitize the journal, either. I've started up a policy of warning people that I'm going to be writing about them in the journal - in keeping with the "I'm not going to say anything here that I wouldn't say to your face, if I think it's important enough" - and hope that that'll be proactive enough.
Bah. There are days when this hobby just isn't worth it.
Given that the plot was pulled out of our collective ear on Friday night, Saturday's Aragon game went quite well. Alex and I are now officially out of the loop, although Alex will keep helping Dave with plotlines, and I'm going to remain as hotel-liason, since I know them already, and all. Dave and the players gave Alex and I a nice little thank you card for the past few months' effort and I thought that was rather sweet...
To my immense relief, the Unholy Trinity plotline was wrapped up. I was surprised by how little fun I got out of playing Anja this time around but, once committed, there wasn't much I could do. But now it's over, and now I've got to figure out if I can make my lunatic Malkavian, Hecate, work for me. We'll see, I guess...
buzzing with ideas for B5: Steincorp Station for Chuckling
Cthulhu when the schedule tells me I should be thinking about Valley
of The Kings. Ah well, I'll write everything down and try to get back to
it when the time is more apt. Right now, I'm just happy that any
ideas are coming to me. I'll worry about timing, later.
Alex and I shared a few of our doubts about I Left My Hearts in San Francisco and we've decided to reduce the scope and scale of that event. We're just going to run it as small event for our buddies, rather than a formal CC event. The unfortunate truth is the DW universe is a very limited one, despite the fact that the show ran for 25 years. Given that I Left My Hearts in San Francisco is at Dr. Who mythos game, but without the title character, we think that it's going to take a fair bit of propping up, and it will not support a huge passel o'players. If you think about the original show, it was typically The Doctor, two companions and then a whole bunch of supporting characters whose primary job was to get captured or ask stupid questions so The Doctor could explain the plot. Hm, the supporting characters weren't much different from the Companions, now that I think of it...But I digress...
Meanwhile, Babylon 5 had a much larger cast, and more of an ensemble presentation. The tradition of a larger cast also allows for a larger playing-group, too, I think. Alex and I believe that a B5 LARP could accommodate thirty - maybe even forty - players, as opposed to the six or seven we're now envisioning for the Dr. Who event. The perceived universe of B5 is much larger, too, thus giving the players more variety to choose from. I've got to admit, I think I would find the possibility of playing a member of the Minbari Grey Council way more interesting than an ambitious Rassilon Time Academy student. And, let's admit it, sci-fi fans, Dr. Who has only just started to deal with vaguely mature plot-points (via the New Adventures) whereas JMS waded into right from the start. Complicated story-arcs, ho!
Of course, this means I've got until, oh, October, to create costuming elements for a crew of 30. For those of you who know how I sew, you know that this is cutting it a little close for me. Alex is being a life-saver, though - reminding me that we can go a long way with military surplus and some modified rank-pins. And I don't think we'll have more than three PCs from Earth Force - which will no doubt be the bitchiest bunch to sew for. Thank heavens the Minbari like flowing robes - even if they do require a lot of fabric. Maybe we'll have lots of Minbari PCs...
As you can probably guess, I'm utterly enthralled by this project....Whee!
The car is back in the garage, sigh. At least the mechanics were willing to admit that they probably did something - or failed to do something - to cause the poor little beast to belch smoke and burn oil. I hope it's just a matter of tightening some clamp... Short of suddenly getting a massive bonus at work, we do not have the wherewithal to be pouring a lot of money into a car which is - let's be honest here - a piece of poorly-engineered crap. Moral: never buy a car in the first model-year.
will be out of the house by the 1st, which is a relief. Once again, the
adage about familiarity breeding contempt has been proven out. With luck,
some problems can be patched up once there's a little physical distance
between Dave and me and Alex. I won't pretend that my own attitude hasn't
contributed to some Recent Unpleasantness, but it has been a two-way
And, to be bluntly greedy, it'll be nice to have a bit more room. Alex has promised to finish cleaning up the last of the boxes lurking in the Room of Doom, and I've promised to sort and better store my fabric. Then we're going to go to the local Goodwill for an old dining table that I can use for sewing - and to Target for some bookshelves. We've got about ten boxes of books that we still can't uncrate because of space. We should get rid of more of them, but some of 'em are like old friends. We managed to winnow about ninety of them out of the collection (numbering who-knows-how-many-hundreds) but that was all. Ah well, that's what deep bookshelves and double-stacking is for...
As I was saying, tiny omens. Last night, Alex found a joint selling Minbari headpieces and Narn masks. Admittedly, they are cheap-cheap-cheap - like $20 apiece, cheap - but a little bit of spirit gum, some extra latex and some good intentions ("You're willing to shave your hairline for this, right?") could go a long way. Or it could make the players look like total wankers. We'll see... This almost makes up for Splitting Image - a bunch of brilliant B5 recreationists - vanishing off the face of the internet...
Meanwhile, some of the gals in the Gothic Sewing Circle are planning a road-trip to LA's financial district in March, and I'm going to join them to look for some cheap (well, cheaper) and/or nifty fabric for sewing purposes. I'm going to have to start sewing a lot, and soon, if I want to get anything done by August. I like to take my time when sewing, y'see. Fortunately, I found a bunch of patterns that will be useful and - with luck - won't require much work. Well, that's for the Minbari. The Centauri and Narn are going to be a challenge. I'm starting to think the original plan of creating a doublet with some funky fabrics won't quite cut it for the Narn... But, then again, perhaps I should be chanting one of my regular bits of costuming advice: don't knock yourself out trying to literally reproduce something, settle for evoking the period or setting...
We've roughed out about ten characters for Steincorp Station and still the ideas are coming. I feel a little bad that Chuckling Cthulhu's first event is going to be non-Cthulhu but to heck with that. The point of this is to have fun, and Alex and I are having a lot of fun, so far.
Holding Together / Union
Activity grounded in truth brings progress and good fortune
Seek union with others and with the Sage
With the exception of almost committing infanticide in a Mission District McDonald's the other day, it's been rather quiet... The near-statistic was the result of having to sit next to a surprisingly obnoxious eleven-year old boy - who was apparently the leader of his unaccompanied pack of ragamuffins - who's idea of entertainment encompassed loudly-recited fat jokes and not much else. I'll admit I was a bit tired (fabric shock, see below) but I was ready to strangle the mouthy little bastard. But I managed to resist that urge, as well as the urge to leap on a table and yell "That's it! I'm officially giving up on humankind!". I'm sure I caused my own share of despair when I was that age... Maybe.
I've been resorting and better-storing my fabric and patterns. So far, all of my fabric has been kept in an assortment of plastic bags, jammed hither and yon into a variety of closets. At least once a month, I tear apart the house looking for some fabric that I know I bought a few months ago. As you might imagine, Alex is getting a little weary of that routine. Since he's been making an effort to organize his sprawling comic collection, I stopped by Target and picked up a whole bunch of see-through storage containers. If I can see what's in the box, I'm less likely to make a mess by rooting through it for something that isn't there, right? Anyways, I've managed to fill six 32-quart boxes so far (plus my usual pair of huge-ish tubs that I've had for a while) and I've got a bad feeling there's another pile of fabric-filled bags I haven't found yet. Wow. I own a lot of fabric. And you know something? It's not enough. Who needs drugs? I've got cotton and silk and polyester!
Watched Chasing Amy last night. I wish Kevin Smith would quit reading my mind and writing it down as dialogue... Seriously though, I had an amusing conversation with Alex and the Brecheens (who were visiting at the time) about yer typical guy and his typical feelings about his girlfriend having had sex with (gasp!) other men before they got together. Honestly, I had no idea boys got so het-up about such things. I guess I must have been lucky but my fellas never seemed to feel anything beyond the occasional attack of prurient curiousity when it came to my misspent youth. I find the notion of a guy/gal getting totally bent at the idea of their current S.O. having had some 'different' experiences utterly baffling. I mean, why get bent about it? Of course, the movie answered that right handily - the fear of inadequacy always prevails. And, once again, I'm baffled... If you feel inadequate, go out and learn, right? There are books on everything these days - but stay away from the websites...
Dave is packing up his things and getting ready to move. I'm not sure where he's going - as James and he haven't found a place yet, following a run-in with a truly intimidating Chinese landowner. But, at the risk of sounding callous, that's no longer my problem. Alex and I looked after Dave for eight months before he managed to land a job and we're done. For now, at least. We're such a pair of softies that I'm sure it won't be long before someone else manages to take advantage of us. Not that I think Dave took advantage of us. Well, not much...
Whoo, I gotta learn to pace myself. The costuming issues for Steincorp Station have me all a-twitter, of course, and I've spent the past three days thinking about little else. I've trolled a couple of fabric stores, grabbed a half-dozen patterns and, after going into severe fabric-shock on Friday night, I've got a lot more respect for professional costumers - and it's not like I was dissin' 'em before...
When I'm shopping for me it's like "Oh, that's a nice shade of black, I'll take three yards." and that's it, I'm done. Not so for this latest project. Gotta stay away from sheers, they're too reflective. Can't use reptile-print vinyl for the Narns, that's like cannabalism. That's a nice brocade for Centauri...shit, only the Emperor can wear white and gold...That pattern won't work, it's too Terran. Gotta stay away from black, too dull. Gotta stay away from white, too bright... Whew! It's fun and a new challenge, but I never thought I would get worn out in a fabric store. And I mean tired, leaning against a display wondering when I ran a mile without noticing kinda tired...
Re-sorting my fabric collection turned up a few gems I had forgotten about, including some honest-to-gosh leather for the Narn characters, and a few patterns that will be useful. Yay! Now I've just got to hold still until I go to LA with the Gothic Sewing Circle, pick up some fabric for the Earth Force dudes and the Centaurii and then I can go nuts. In the meantime, I've got to get back to thinking about the plots. Alex and I wrote up a few humdingers last week, but it's not nearly enough!
And did I mention we found the coolest prop in the gardening section at Target? Heh.
The Family (The Clan)
Good fortune unfolds for those who are on guard against inferior influences
A healthy family, a healthy country, a healthy world - all grow outward from a single superior person
|Is this a hint to lay off the Mystic Mint cookies and whole-fat milk?|
A good couple of
days. Alex and I are continuing to discover that there are a lot of things
that we still haven't shared with each other - even after nearly five years
together. Don't worry, they're not bad things - well, most of 'em,
aren't. I just keep getting surprised by the fact that we're not quite
reading each other's minds, I guess. The past month or so has been very
enlightening - and refreshing. A lot of stress I don't think we realized we
had is getting blown off.
And no, that stress had nothing to do with Dave. For the righteously offended Friends of Dave club, let me clarify something. When I mentioned in the previous entry Not that I think Dave took advantage of us. Well, not much... - I was employing a leetle bit of sarcasm with that last phrase. Yes, there are times when I've resented having to carry Dave for what should have been his share of bills. But I've always known that Dave has given us as much as he could afford - so there was never any point in trying to squeeze more money out of the lad. My ranting and railing in this journal should usually be treating like a Gilbert and Sullivan libretto - full of sound and fury and signifying nothing (with apologies to both Tom Lehrer and The Bard).
Fans of musical oddness: fire up your browser and look for anything by the Tufts Beelzebubs. They're an a capella cover band - from Tufts University, one guesses - and they're a hoot! I've got covers of "Rio", "Welcome to The Jungle", "Pinball Wizard" and other bizareness. They're a hoot! Of course, I also think hearing Kermit The Frog sing "Happy Feet" is a hoot, so you might want to tread cautiously.
Gods help me, I
think the I Ching has been sinking in - about bloody time, I guess. The
other day, Alex and I got together with the Brecheens with the express
intent of having a big ol' gripe session about some things that had been
getting us down - and a little bit of air-clearing between the four of us,
too. The air-clearing went very well, but as for the griping... I usually
find bitchery very cathartic, dig? I jump up and down a bit, work myself
into a lather, then come down, cool off and get on with my life. Some people
run marathons, I have my loud mouth and a soapbox.
Not so, Monday
night. I got up Tuesday morning, thought about what had been said and just
felt tired. Not the usual sense of relief, just "What was the point of
that?". Of course, what was the point? Venting is well and good,
up to a point, but ultimately useless if one doesn't take some kind of
positive action, afterwards...
So I sat down with my tightly-packed Valise Of Grudges - we've all got one, so don't bother pretending otherwise - and I pulled 'em all out and had a good hard look at most of them. Practical upshot? They're on the trash heap. Oh, I've got a couple of favorites that I will rub to a nubbin on my cold bosom (please, don't bother making a lecherous joke) but, for the most part, I realized that I could let a lot that baggage go. Most of 'em were just beyond repair, and they were all wastes of my time. So, off with their heads! It's a bit of a relief.
Of course, knowing my occasionally vindictive nature, this merely clears up the space for new, fresh, grudges. Gods, I hope not...
Today, Chuckling Cthulhu got it's first e-mail from a potential player who is not in my immediate social circle. Yay! Tomorrow, the world!
Alex and I chatted about the plans for CC this year, and I think that maybe we could get Thirteen Days In October together by the end of the year. I would like to see us run one mythos event before the year ends... Time will tell, I guess.
Hey look, I didn't mention Steincorp Station. Oh wait...drat!
I've been doing some work on Diana/Monat/Freys - usually called Diana - who is my character for Aragon. She had started out as yet another looney tunes Malkavian, but now I've written down a few pages of character details, I think I've nailed her feet to the floor and made her reasonably sensible. As sensible as a nutball can get, that is. After playing social lionesses for so long, playing a character with very poor social skills - and a compulsion for honesty - should be interesting. Now that I'm not running that game any more, I also anticipate remaining sober through the bloody thing. With this character, I'll have to - but I haven't I said that before?
To achieve true power and true greatness one must be in harmony with what is right
|Surprisingly upbeat for a hexagram which
translates as 'thunder over heaven'.
So I guess boasting little triumphs is a bad idea, today...