Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not Dead Yet

Not dead, but busy and missing updates. Still writing, and I should finish up this bloated tick of a first draft either Friday or Saturday morning. Hockey update coming soon too, as I attended a clinic and ate huge portions of humble pie. Might wait to combine it with another next week CONTAIN YOUR EXCITEMENT

Happy New Year, y'all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

At Least There's Not a Siren - Old Man Learns Hockey - Game 9

Some cold, hard facts:
- we're 0-9.
- we've been outscored 72-3. Seventy-two to three. That means on average we lose 8 to 0.3 each time.
- we've never had a lead.
- we've scored zero power play goals. In fact, last game when we had a power play it was a moral victory that we didn't give up any shorthanded goals.
- while some of us are definitely improving individually, it's harder to see how we're playing better as a team.

The last bit is the most troubling of all. We don't really have any sort of system in place knowing who's playing where - we still gather and figure it out 30 seconds before the game starts. When I decided to start playing I figured I'd be eons behind other players in both skill and knowledge. The former has proven true, but the latter doesn't appear to be the case. There are definitely people who don't really know their assignment in the defensive zone.  I like to use this as a reference point. The problem is, if one person out of the five on the ice doesn't pick up his or her responsibility, it all falls to shit. Which is what happens to us.

As if a 10:30 scheduled start time wasn't late enough, the game before us both was delayed by a clock problem and then ended in a tie that went into a shootout. We don't start until late, and our usual minimal four minutes of warm-up is cut to one. I don't even touch a puck before we're at our bench, belatedly figuring out who is going to play where. Jeff hasn't shown (home sick) and with others missing we have twelve skaters. There's a whole story about goalies and last minute cancellations and me scrambling like hell, but we end up with Old Bob in goal and despite the lopsided final, he wasn't the problem and actually had a pretty good game. We decide to start with six forwards (two lines) and 6 defense (three pairs). I'm on D, paired with Stephanie.  I see exactly how the night is going to go as I head out for my first shift. It's a live change, and the vastly better team we're playing has missed a long pass that's heading for the boards near me. I have plenty of time to scoop it up and possibly even head up ice - expect that it hits the skate of one of the players I've replaced, who isn't over the boards yet. Technically it's a 'too many men' penalty, but I don't have to worry if it gets called or not because the puck ricochets away from me, directly to one of their guys who comes in two on one and buries the goal. Five seconds out and I'm already a -1. Ugh.

At the end of the first Steph and Rudy both say they want to move up to forward. Since none of the forwards are interested in moving back to D, we run with just the four of us for the rest of the game. I'm not going to complain about the extra ice time, but against a team this good it's a rough outing. I'm embracing a concept a friend of mine has called 'failing faster.' It states that in a situation like this, where me making a mistake and giving up a goal in a blowout of a beer league game is really not the end of the world, I should take chances and learn from my mistakes instead of being conservative. I'm definitely getting the fail faster part down, as I spend a little more time skating backwards during actual play when I'm under pressure. The other team swarms the net, and I spend most of my time either shoving guys away, lifting their sticks, or being stickhandled around when I challenge the puckcarrier. This is a top team and they play like it, and I get juked out of my hockey pants numerous times. It's always frustrating, but especially so when the obvious solution would be to smear the guy against the boards. For example, one guy was behind our goal and when I went to cover him he passed the puck off the back of the net to himself as he went by. What I wanted to do was just drive right at his body and check him - dodge that, jerkweed - but I can't in this league. I more or less accidentally tore a guy's skates out and still didn't get a tripping call. I guess the refs don't want to pile on when it's already 7-0. In fact they asked if we wanted to play the 3rd period with a running clock so we 'wouldn't feel humiliated,' to which we politely told them to go screw themselves. We were having issues with guys taking shifts that were way too long. One guy had an absurdly long shift in the second that was at least 3+ minutes. They had multiple opportunities to either ice the puck or just dump it and come over for a change, but didn't. If you've been out there for two+ minutes and have dead legs but somehow manage to make it to their blue line, you should be dumping the puck into the far corner and getting to the bench, especially when that's what your bench is screaming at you to do. Sheq was frothing at the mouth. After splitting the first period with only one other line, he only managed five total shifts the rest of the way. To say he was pissed would be an understatement. Also, pregame he gave me a Hansons jersey AND a Rangers practice jersey. I'm not sure I'm allowed to wear it. It was a damn nice thing of him to do and it kind of stunned me at the time. Thanks again, brother.

Between the 2nd and 3rd period one of the forwards made a suggestion that the forwards stay up near the blue line and not really help out as much on D, so they could get some more opportunities for offense. We shared one of those, 'Is he kidding?' looks between us before realizing that no, he wasn't kidding, and then informed him that wasn't a very good idea. We still managed to generate some chances - in one of my few good passes of the game I sprung Tom on a breakaway and could see the assist on my scoresheet, but he didn't beat the bear of a goalie they had. My performance was about what I'd expect - a rookie learning a new position in a new game, making a slew of mistakes but playing every shift like it's game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

I guess the important question is, Am I still having fun? I am. It's nerve-wracking playing defense when my skating is not wonderful - like playing basketball with a foot cast on - but the fact we're so awful lessens the pressure. We're not tied at 2-2 with 30 seconds left, which means if I screw up it's not going to cost us the game. I pinch a little. I try to cut off passes, maybe jump in a rush. We're heading down the back of our schedule now - six or seven games left, most against good teams - but all I can do is improve, right? We're off for the next three weeks but I plan on joining Jeff and Sheq at the brutal clinic they've been doing, so there might be more folly to follow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's Not Evil, It's Challenging

I created a new monster (or monsters) for my Pathfinder group. That's unusual for me, as I tend to pick and choose among things already established and we're running Jade Regent (not my choice - it was requested by someone who left the group before we started without a word) anyway.  But i was reading something to my daughter and I was like, 'Hey, this would be cool!' I need to keep challenging them, as one guy is a power gamer who knows exactly the right spells for his wizard  to be a nightmare for me. At low levels it was Pyrotechnics to blind the bad guys. Soon after it was Haste on his summoned celestial snow leopards to tear my evil characters to shreds (and ye gods - 5 attacks with pounce and smite Evil. It's even worse when he sends the lantern archons with their touch attacks). Now it's Confusion to screw things up . . . but this will be lovely. LOVELY.

Writing: 681 words. I'm cranking now. If I didn't have to go to work I would have finished the book today, easy. IN THE ZONE

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I wouldn't! Well . . .

The Boy got another tab on his yellow-striped belt yesterday, and I'm thrilled to see he still enjoys karate so much. I signed him up for another 6 month contract. When I asked what happens if he suddenly loses interest or gets hurt or whatever, and I was told the money doesn't expire and can be used whenever.

Or by anyone.

Oh, my. Maybe some subtle discouragement . . . no. Kidding. I watched him pull off a nice frontkick-round kick combination last night and was super proud.

Writing: 602 words. Another day or two (or three) for this chapter and then on to the final one. Also, I had that wonderful moment when I figured out an awesome way to work in one of the ending bits instead of using a deux ex machina for it. It gave me a big grin and probably kept me from throttling the Gorram Cat, who kept insisting on walking on my keyboard.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Growing Pains Old man Learns Hockey - Game 8

We're getting tired of losing.

I can see it in the demeanor on the bench. People are paying closer attention and noticing that some guys are just wandering around the ice in the defensive zone instead of doing what they're supposed to, and yelling out instructions to them. Exasperation is starting to build. I usually laugh every time I fall to the ice but last night it elicited nothing from me but frustrated growls. Like I said, we're tired of losing.

Which is awesome.

The hope is that it spurs some change. We are a rudderless ship out there. We have no defensive plan, no set defense, nothing. We're not running a neutral zone trap or a 1-2-2 forecheck - we're just kind of out there, reacting to what the other team does, which ends up with us in our zone for too much time. Last night we played the other winless team in the league. They had one player who had no right to be in a developmental division (3 goals, 2 assists on the game) and a couple of other good skaters, but they weren't amazing. At the end of the 1st it was a 2-0, and just before the the period ended one of our guys missed a wide open net that would have made it a 2-1 game and possibly scared the crap out of them. As time went on they took advantages of our mistakes and skated away with an 8-1 laughter - yeah, we scored with like 17 seconds left - but we were better than we'd been the week before.

Missed assignments are haunting us. The blond from the clinic was playing right defense, and by the 3rd period she was skating by our bench asking why the left winger who kept forgetting to cover her wasn't out there so she could have some freedom. She wanted him there because instead of covering her he'd be somewhere else and she'd have time to tee up her slap shots.

Then there's me. In order to be an effective defenseman I need to be able to skate backwards well, so I crammed in as much practice as I could in the 5 minutes of warmup and swore I'd start using it, no matter what. And so I fell over backwards numerous times, often leaving our poor goalie (side story - Alex the Good Goalie is possibly done, and old goalie Bob was kind enough to let us know Sunday around noon that he was out too. This set off a panicked search for a goalie. I was online @6 and saw Dave, the guy who introduced me to this league and is who is on a team currently fighting for a top slot that i could have been on but I'm playing with my brothers so never mind, had just posted something about getting his stick ready for his game. I asked him, mostly joking, if his goalie wanted to play two games tonight. His goalie didn't, but knew someone who wanted to play. About this time one of our guys said the league had found a guy for us, but I figured two goalies were better than none. Charlie is a young kid who's been a goalie for a about a year and he had an odd game - he saved a lot of shots he shouldn't have but gave up a few he maybe should have had. Nice guy and when we were a pair of the last few stragglers in the locker room I found out nobody had grabbed him for next week's game. Yeesh! I locked that shit down. Anyway, I found a goalie. I'm useful! And thanks, Dave!) alone and exposed. It was infuriating but I have to get it down.

I'm not sure how I ended up for the game. I was paired with one of our better skaters and through 2 periods we were a -2, and neither goal was really on us. One was a bad angle shot that hit Charlie's pad, popped up, then dribbled in. Another was the guy who was too good coming on a partial breakway. I hauled ass to get back and forced him wide, but his wrister from the faceoff dot hit off in the inside of Charlie's elbow pad and rolled in. It was a nice shot, hard and accurate. In the 3rd we broke down at least once, and the big guy I'd been warring with all game - well, big is being kind, he was a very large dude who just set up in front of the goal like it was an all-you-can-eat-buffet in every sense of that simile possible - finally punched one in, so I was at least a -3. It was a war, too, with a lot of shoving and pushing. At one point I flat-out crosschecked him and he spun around with a pissed off look and showed me how an effective crosscheck is really done. Two-hundred-fifty pounds versus one-hundred-eighty-eight produced predictable results - my ass on the ice. The puck went through his feet while we was doing that, though, so I guess I won? I played a much more physical game in general, including .  . . well, shit, there's no way to gloss it over. I laid a dude out. Late in the game I pinched as the puck was being carried up the boards, and the guy wasn't looking up so he rammed right into me. Well, my lowered, braced shoulder, anyway. He went back over hard and I skated back down the ice with my head on a swivel, figuring someone was going to try to light me up. Nobody did, and the ref just shrugged and said, 'He ran into you.' The guy was okay and I loved it. GRRR SMASH! I'm still not great - or even good - deciding what to do with the puck. I came out from behind our net and they had a full pressing forecheck on. As we have no breakout play set up I skated until challenged and then tried to send it high off the boards. If I were a better skater I could have avoided him and kept it, but I'm not and we need guys moving around.

We had some good moments. There was a goal, and our top line - it's time to stop pretending one of our lines isn't better than the others - had several good chances and did a decent job forechecking. Jeff continues to get his rising wrister on goal and I wish he'd have more confidence and use it all the time. We're heading into a stretch against good teams and it may get ugly for us. That's life in the fast-paced world of men's beer league hockey.

Writing - I got to bed at 1am last night, you think I really got up at 5am and wrote? Gorram right I did. 602 words, plus 514 on Saturday.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Liked it, Okay?

 I played Monte Cook's new system Numenara this weekend, and it was . . . okay? The need to roll high to hit in combat requires a lot of spending of your stats, and while it was a decent session I wasn't overwhelmed enough to want to run out and buy the system. Cook is probably best known for the 3.5 version of D&D, but my love for his work goes to Rolemaster.

Yes, that Rolemaster, the one one with all the charts.

It did have a lot of charts - each weapon had its own, which actually made sense as an arrow should have a better chance of punching through chainmail than a sword does. Once you had the specific charts for your character it wasn't so bad. You could vary how intensely you wanted to attack or defend yourself, and as you took more damage you became less adept at doing things. So unlike D&D, a foe with a single hit left didn't have the same chance to hit you as he did when he was healthy.

And ye gods, combat. BRUTAL. With open-ended rolls you could do more damage and access better critical columns, which would often stop a fight right then and there. The results were often humorous, too. DAMMIT I LOVED ROLEMASTER

writing: 561 words, although it felt like more. Thinking this might be done by the end of next week. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On the Joy of Trying to Be Successful at Writing

It's getting close to the end of the year and Matthew Bennardo, editor of the Machine of Death books and seller of more than a few short stories, did a summary about how his year went. I figured maybe I should do the same. I'm not sure if it's uplifting or depressing.

If we go from January 1st to now - I'm still all tangled up win the home stretch of my novel and it's unlikely that I'll do any short story submissions right now - I sent out 22 submissions and had 3 acceptances (I'm fudging a little here - one went out Dec 20th but didn't get accepted until January. Screw it, it counts). In baseball that batting average would earn me my outright release, but given this industry I'll take what I can get. Almost all of these submission were out before August, as I spent a good while working on a novella I thought for sure would get picked up (I was wrong) and since then book book book book.

The money is laughable, of course. I wasn't really trying with the pro-paying markets. The Machine of Death story somehow managed to throw more money my way - I think I'm in the vicinity of 0.25 cents a word there at this point - but at this point any money from writing is pretty much gravy. Sales are what I'm after, and four pro sales look better than three. Once i finish the novel and switch to the first edit I'll get back to writing short stories as well. Maybe even go for some better paying markets. I do note with some small measure of glee that the most recent sale marks the second story bought that was passed on by Daily SF, which pays great rates but tends to publish some of the worst stuff I've seen. I gave up on even reading them 6 months ago because I got tired of grinding my teeth with frustration. Man, i can't wait to be a successful novelist and be able to look back on this and laugh. Or maybe weep a little. Or both.

Writing: 641 words. Action! Conflict! Another day when I was upset to see it was time to go to work. I could have written all day. If I didn't have a 'real' job . . . 2-3K a day would be reality.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

No Better Clinic Than a Free Clinic - Old Man Playing Hockey, Game 7

I'll pop the suspense bubble right away - we didn't win. We didn't even score. In fact, we took several steps backward as a team. Not great stuff out there, the most glaring being length of shifts. One guy on the team simply refuses to come off when he should, and the resentment of the others is starting to grow. Might get ugly. Makes for good writing, but not much fun on the bench. 

We had a slew of forwards, so I was more than happy to volunteer for defense. And when the guy who ran our training clinic showed up to help us out, I was quick to offer myself as his partner (no, not in that way. Not that there's anything wrong with that). My hope was that I could pick up a few pointers as players zipped by me and for once, I had the right idea. Shaking a weekend's worth of kobolds, inspectres, and clever players having fun with my characters out of my head, I put my mind on hockey and hit the ice. Eventually. After it was already 1-0. We followed our usual pattern of giving up an early goal, regrouping and keeping things under control for 8 or 9 minutes, then letting them get 3 or 4 goals in the end of the first period to make the game a joke. Seriously. I have no idea why that happens beyond people staying out too long on their shifts and not getting back on D.

The other team had a guy about Rudy-sized (not our defenseman Rudy, but Rudy from the movie with the dude from Lord of the Rings) who should have been playing at least two divisions higher. Bart (the coach, my D partner) knew him and told him before the game to take it easy on us. Evidently that involved scoring two highlight-reel goals within the first 10 minutes. Our goalie - not the really good one, who has a knee injury and oh boy are we fucked without him - used to play with the team we were playing (or 'versing' as Becky says) and hates them with enough fire to burn the ice. If he had spent a little less time yelling at them and hacking at their ankles and a little more trying to actively stop the puck the score might not have been 9-0. Just saying, Bob, just saying. By the end of the game Bob looked exhausted. As we currently have no other goalie option, things might be ugly the next two weeks.

I spent the game learning. I made mistakes but not only did I have a free clinic, I pretty much had a private coach. In the first period we worked on my positioning, which was okay because ye gods I've watched a lot of hockey in my life, but Bart gave me some subtle tips that proved useful. In the second period we worked on me timing stick lifts, which means that I attempt to poke my stick under the guy set up in the crease (PHRASING, for so many reasons) and pick it up when the pass comes his way. I had limited success with that, as those players were better with their sticks than I am (PHRASING) and often I found myself trying to cover two guys without the help of the center, who was supposed to be there. It's a bad feeling to see the other team celebrating as your goalie lies sprawled out on the ice like a mollusk while you wonder how that other guy got so open.

In the third period Bart suggested I get a little more physical, and at the expense of sounding like a haughty prick it was easily my best period. When guys set up in front of the net I pushed them out. When the puck went into the corner I gave little shoves and yanks with one hand while hacking at the puck with the other. I wasn't checking, but I was still playing with a physical presence. Success with that gave me confidence elsewhere, and when I got the puck off a faceoff instead of just flailing to get it out of the zone immediately I skated with it for a bit and threaded a pass to one of our forwards (by 'threaded' I mean 'other teams' player deflected the long pass precisely where it needed to go'). On a three on two break I forced the guy with the puck wide and took away his passing lanes by dropping to a knee and laying my stick on the ice. He hit the shaft and I was able to clear it, eliciting a curse from him that was sweeter than a round of applause.  I still made a boatload of mistakes, of course. I whiffed twice on a puck at the blue line, screwing up a clear, and my ass got beat a few times by better skaters (which is pretty much everyone). But at this stage pretty much everything is up, so I keep trying. Jeff continues to develop a pretty damn good wrist shot and over criticize himself while instead I saw a guy who hustled all over the ice, and Sheq seems to be growing into his game as well.  Next week is our only shot this season at the other winless team, and I'd feel a lot more confident if I had Alex backing me up in net for the slurry of mistakes I'm going to make. Either way, I'm going to lace them up and give it my best.

At 10:30pm. Ugh.

Writing: 561 words. Time for the Big Reveal. Oh! And I got an acceptance on a story I'd submitted in July and forgotten about (probably because I sent in a novella for an anthology at the same place and gotten rejected after that), so that's a happy thing. It'll be in Stupefying Stories sometime in the future I WILL BOTHER YOU WHEN IT DOES

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yeah, I know, I know

Sorry - between gaming prep and work I was run ragged last week, so I missed updates. Writing continued at almost a full clip. Better update (with Hockey!) either later today (not likely) or tomorrow. Maybe tonight. Plan accordingly.

Gaming notes - had 9 - that's NINE - people at my Inspectres game. Should have been impossible, but we did okay. They took down the T-Rex from the Jurrassic PArk ride at Universal Studios that was being powered by the spirits of angry C and D actors that had been forgotten. Good fun. the law of 'give 'em enough rope' worked beautifully.

1st KAMB! game was okay, has 3 12 year old boys so yeah. 2nd one was rollicking and creative.

DW mod didn't get finished but they loved roleplaying the characters and doing the puzzle rooms. My dice game was a HUGE hit. Maybe I'll try it at Rabbitcon.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Easy Decision

I'm not out shopping today. Mainly because I have to work, but still, I wouldn't be out in that lunacy anyway. It's dead quiet here but I'm getting some gaming prep done for Anonycon and there is still time for you to come join us! I'm running three different games because yeah I don't know why I'd do that to myself. I was just contacted by a father who played Kobolds Ate My Baby! last year with his son and friends, and now wanted to know if it was okay if he brought 'a gaggle' of 12 year olds to play this year.

Oy. I said yes, of course, but Saturday morning is going to be rough. By the end last time the kids were just trying to kill one another when they were still paying attention, but with an all-kids slot I can make it age-appropriate and really not worry too much about ending a little early if they aren't into it anymore. I am running 4 slots and playing in only 1, but the slot I signed up for has only me so far and it's the one time where most of the games I'd play otherwise aren't running. I'll find something, I'm sure.

Writing: 615 words today and I was actually eager to write. Just decided to rewrite a little bit of how the next chapter is going to go. I bet it would be awesome if I'd actually bothered to look at Scrivner since I bought it. Gah.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Happy T-giving to all those who celebrate it. As I see my family all the time the allure of getting together for another meal is somewhat dimmed, but there's football and grilling my nephew on how to be able to do a good slapshot and so on. Plus, it's The Boy's birthday, so he's fairly vibrating with excitement.

To all of you, arrive safely both where you're going and back home again. I will have a very grumbly post for you as I work on Friday. Gah.

writing: 541 words. More of teh sexing. End of chapter within sight with two to go after that. Then the auction for the rights, no? ha. I kill me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quit Pucking Around

Spent so much time blathering about hockey yesterday I forgot to update the words. FLOW FROM ME WORDS!!


Writing: Saturday 611, Monday 545, today 518. After some sexytimes for our hero tomorrow I should roll into the penultimate chapter Friday. Yes, I'm taking Thanksgiving off. I don't wanna be, uhm, thankless for the bird's sacrifice. YOU DIDN'T DIE IN VAIN, TURKEY

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? - Old Man and the Ice: Game 6

It's said you should do something every day that scares you. Okay, by 'they' I mean the Baz Lurhman thing 'Everybody's Free' from 1999, but I've been trying to do it as often as possible, if not every day. I mean, learning how to play hockey counts, right? Or maybe in my demented viewpoint, that's not quite enough.

I'll spare you the anticipation and just let you know right up from we lost again. I know, shocking. The final was 7-1 but at the end of the first it was only 2-0 (not that your would know that from the boxscore, which is comically inaccurate). The other team was fairly average, with one outstanding set each of forwards and defensemen.  Our first line had a tough game, most of which was due to being against that group but also possibly because they took incomprehensibly long shifts. Look, I know I'm new to the game and all but if you can get above a lazy glide to get back on D then you need to get off the ice. At best guess they were -5.

We had a numbers issue with 15 skaters. Normally that's a great number to have - 9 forwards and 6 defensemen. Unfortunately we only had 5 defensemen. I finally cajoled Stephanie into shifting to D with the promise that if she wasn't enjoying herself, I'd take her place. I figured there was no way she'd want me to me playing D and so it would all work out.


Anyway, Goalie Alex gave up a goal during our first shift of the second period to drop us behind 3-0. I was with my same linemates - Chris and Jeff - and while we weren't generating a ton of offensive chances we were doing okay at keeping them off the board. Jeff was complaining that he was having a terrible game, but managed a fairly nice wrist shot that almost beat the goalie glove high.Chris was his usual solid self. I had a tough first two periods, as I just seemed a little bit off or a little bit late in everything - except faceoffs. For some reason my idiot savant ability continued to function as I won four out of five . Maybe the ref wasn't making me put my stick in the right place. Maybe I was just getting lucky. Maybe the hockey gods have decided this is to be my calling. Whatever. I'll take it. Actually, out of the Hanson Brothers Shequi probably had the best game of all of us. His line pestered the other team constantly in their own zone and had  a couple of decent scoring chances.

Then the second period ended, and Steph strongly hinted she wouldn't mind moving back to forward. And so I shifted to right defense. Me, who skates backwards about as quickly as a turtle chugging uphill and with as much confidence as Obama dealing with the House of Reps. See, if you screw up as a forward it's not the end of the world. The defensemen are behind you to cover. But if you screw up as a defenseman, there's nothing behind you but a goalie. Goalie Alex, learning of the move, said to me, "Look, one thing. When you clear the puck, don't just give it to one of their guys at the blue line. Get it out."  Spoiler - I had the majority of my clearing attempts picked off. it was beyond frustrating. I nodded and took my spot. This had the earmarks of a disaster.

I started the third period as a nervous wreck. Their top line was out and swarming, but I did what I could and somehow escaped the shift without giving anything up. I place the blame for that on my teammates. On my next shift, something really weird happened. We SCORED. With me ON THE ICE. Later my wife, who was watching with the kids, asked if I had an assist. I had no idea (I didn't). Still, I had been trailing the shooter and was the first there for high-fives, which I almost missed because I caught an edge. It felt really good to be on for a goal.

Not for the other team, though, as they started muttering and their 'What the hell are you doing in 8W?' player basically skated end to end and bore in on me. I'd seen it coming and was desperately trying to get back, but speed kills and he beat me to the outside. I don't remember if he shot it then or curled and centered it, but when I got to our goal for the rebound one of their THREE players in the crease stuffed it in. Yeah, I guess they didn't like getting scored on my the league doormat. Jerkweeds.

I managed to not be on the ice for any more goals, so that's a victory of sorts. Afterward both the goalie and two of the other defensemen told me that my positioning was dead on - I was where I was supposed to be most of the time. Now I just needed to be able to make the plays. I'll miss the faceoffs and having Jeff and Chris on my wings, but I'm willing to stick with D if the team will put up with my learning curve. Maybe I'll get a slapshot for Xmas.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

because the stress

Stress everywhere. Home, work, etc. Will write more when I can, but I am staying true to the stupid book. Two, maybe three chapters left.

Writing: 544 Tues, 493 Weds, 511 today.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Inevitable - The Old Man and the Ice - Game 5

The angels wept, fanfare was sounded, and the very pillars of the Earth trembled at such a momentous achievement.

The Ice House raiders scored a goal. Jesus may have wept as well, I'm not really sure. But there was definitely much rejoicing.

The mood in our locker room pre-game was upbeat and jovial. I think the practice helped bring us together a little and now instead of dressing in relative silence there was joking around, sharing some scouting (which isn't too in-depth. I went to the other teams stat page and reported back that #5 had 9 goals and we'd better watch out for him), and putting together a pool for the first goal scored by us. I kept one of the other Chris' as my left wing and had my friend Jeff, liberated from defense, as my right wing. Sheq and I also had our families there to root us on, so we had some added incentive to not suck.Things looked good as our first line managed to keep it a scoreless game against a well-disciplined team, but the second line couldn't do the same on their next two shifts. Then we got caught running around a little and they punched in one against my line. The second line got beat again and our older goalie soon after took one off his knee and came out. Our super goalie came in cold and not stretched  out, and got beat by a shot he felt he should have stopped while my line was out there. We stumbled into the break down 5-0. Blerg.

I'm not really sure what happened next. Either we started to play better or the other team took it a little easy on us, switching to dump-ins as opposed to skating into our zone lugging the puck. Maybe a little column A, a little column B. In any case, the ice no longer seemed tilted toward our goal. I would go so far to say that we carried the play in the 2nd period, even after Tom beat their goalie with a wrist shot and the other team stopped being so laid back. We went nuts when that happened, of course. It was so cathartic that the rink echoed with our yells. I apologized at the next faceoff by saying, "We'd act like we'd scored a goal before if we'd actually scored a goal before."  We had shots on goal, scrambles around the net, and Alex (the goalie) bailed us out numerous times. The 2nd period ended with the score 5-1. Not only did we score, we shut them out. A miracle.

We stayed just as chippy and feisty in the 3rd. While cruising the other team's crease I annoyed on of their defensemen enough that he tried to stuff me into his net. They managed to punch in two more, one on our first line when they stayed out way too long and another against line #2. We had one of the coaches playing casual defense for us and along with some advice he had a good deal of praise.

As for me, I just tried to play my usual low-on-talent-but-high-on-effort type of game. Loved having Jeff as a winger, and he got off a nice wrister on a 3 on 2 break. I made the dubious decision to hit the ice to block a shot from a player in the slot, and he lost the puck trying to get around me. I heard my teammates banging their sticks and yelling from the other end of the ice, but I don't know if it was for my stupidity effort or if Alex made a save. My skating is still weak, I didn't get the puck out one time that I should have, I had a swing and miss again, but . . .but I went, IIRC, six and three on faceoffs. If I can win 2/3s of those that would be a good thing indeed. There are so many aspects of my game that need improving but that's why we play, right? Our scoring drought is over - our win drought is next.

Writing: used Saturday and Sunday for editing, but got 518 done this morning. I'm one chapter away from the climatic scene. The end is in sight. Maybe.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yeah, Yeah. I Know.

I know, I know, no posts since Monday. Crazy busy everywhere, problems at work makingm e spend the day delivering parts. Foo. It seems time is especially hard to find these days, as I'm trying to juggle:
1) prepping 1   2  3 games for Anonycon. I tend to overdo things, so it takes me longer to get them ready.
2) editing a book for other people. I love doing it absolutely love it - but carving out time can be tough.
3) finishing what is amount to a first draft on my novel. I can't see it taking me longer than the end of the month, at which point I'll give it a first edit before inflicting it on my readers.
4) building a studio for my wife. Hanging sheetrock by myself in a currently unheated garage. FUN.

These are just the current projects above and beyond kids, work, housework, etc.  My candle is not just burning at both ends, there's a flamethrower pointed at the middle as well. Eh, that which doesn't kill you AND SO ON.

Writing: Basically wrote a 1900 word chapter. I'm like an X-wing in the trench at the Death Star, baby - staying on target.

Wait what's that behind m-------

Monday, November 11, 2013

Game Over, Man.

The Boy's football season is over. Probably his career as well, as I think his lack of footspeed bothered him after watching the two or three fast kids run all over the place. We finished up against the jerkweed team, and once again I had to get creative to counter their BS tactics. One of their kids was repeatedly ignoring the rules - 7 yards back on D, no rush until the handoff. I mentioned it a few times to the other coaches and they pretty much gave me lip service. When I told the kid, he sneered at me. SNEERED. Six year old thugs don't get to sneer at coaches.

So I set up a faily complex play that involved The Boy faking a handoff into the line and then giving the ball to one of our zippy runners on an end around. The thug came barreling in and after knocking our other player over charged into the backfield EVEN THOUGH THE BALL HADN'T BEEN HANDED OFF YET. Dick. Anyway, The Boy made the exchange and Thuglsey was about to grab his flag when Brandon, the kid I had put in a specific spot, absolutely drilled the kid into the ground with a crushing block. Blocking has become sort of legal by that part of the season, and it was GLORIOUS. The kid got up and immediately tried to punch my player, but I was ready for that and scooped him up before he could throw a fist. meanwhile, our ball carrier went for a 50 yard TD. I know, petty, but it was fun. We worked the play-action on them again as well. I'll be sad if my football coaching career is over, but maybe the Boy will opt for rugby next.

Writing: Saturday 641, today 801. Making it happen, for better or for worse.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Twitch Twitch - The Old Man Plays Hockey: Practice

So there probably a term for the moment when you're lying on the ice, having just smashed head-first into the boards, and deciding if it's time to try to see if you can move. I don't know it, but I'm sure it's out there. In any case, I'm a little ahead of myself here.

Through methods I won't mention here we managed to secure ice time for our first team practice, which comes after four games and may not have been the best way to do things. My awesome plan to get my family's skates sharpened turned out to be not awesome at all as Saturday night appears to be date night for blades and the sharpener. Even more alarming was watching a bunch of kids skate around like an offshoot of the NHL. Turns out they were Tier 1 16 year olds and were elite, which made me feel a little better.

There was no heat in our locker room, which made changing fun. We managed to scrounge up 11 skaters and 1 goalie, which isn't too bad, and we started off like a actual practice by SKATING THE CIRCLES, which is my bane drill. To make it even more difficult we did so while stickhandling, and more than once I had to divert from my non-crossover stepping to chase my wayward puck.

Then we just scrimmaged. Maybe the wiser thing would have been to set up passing drills, or practice 3 on 2s, or plot out a power play, but I think we just all wanted to skate and play hockey. The first fifteen minutes were rough for me, as it seems to take me a while to get back into the rhythm of what passes for my skating. I missed passes, flubbed shot, fell down a lot. I tried to keep in mind that I'd probably been on skates ten times in my life as opposed to the zillions of times the others had, but it gets frustrating. Still, I pressed on, and things got better. I started to get to some of those loose pucks, started making passes go in the general direction of where I wanted them to. And even better, I had an epiphany.

It happened while scrambling after a loose puck in my zone. Normally I'd just poke at it ineffectually with my stick, but instead I swung my hips around and knocked the other guy away. Indeed, I got physical.

(no, not that kind of physical)

Was it checking? Meh. I seemed okay, and suddenly I had control. The more I did that, the better the results. Not out and out checking, not smashing a guy into the boards, but just using my body as a mobile barrier. My pedigree would kind of indicate that thuggery would be my skill set - years and years of martial arts, football, rugby. When I set up in front of the net and a defenseman tried to move me I shoved back.  I actually managed a couple of shots on goal - actual ones the goalie had to save. DO NOT DENY MY PRESENCE ON THE ICE.

As I become more comfortable with this the rest of my game improved as well (understand when I say 'improved' that has to be taken in the context of the absolute lack of talent I possess. Moving from 'absolute detriment on the ice' to 'moderate detriment on the ice' is improvement, dammit). I made some passes, was more confident with the puck, and actually heard my center yell at me that someone was on my back and I needed to move the puck. One of the better skaters on the team asked me if I'd been practicing. That could have been him noting my improvement or perhaps a not that I should do more of it. I'm going to go with that former. It also possible my game seemed to improve as my teammates got more tired - an hour of skating can do that to you. I know my strength - little talent, big heart, and a motor that won't stop.  Right up until they flashed the lights to tell us to get the hell out I was still racing as quickly as my inefficient skating style would allow.

Our goal for the practice was to work on getting the damn thing out of zone, the bane of our performances so far. I think we did a pretty good job of that. Our goalie, who appears to be either my age or older, more or less coached us. Afterwards he mentioned to me he was considering hanging up the skates and taking a position behind our bench, if he thought we'd listen. If he could get the the one guy to get off the ice when he's supposed to, I'd make him GM too.

So, right. The head injury. I was chasing a puck in the corner when I bumped hips with a guy on the 'other' team and found myself horizontal and airborne - and then having an upfront meeting with the boards. I saw stars and don't really remember hitting the ice before having the moment I mention way back at the beginning of this thing.  I scrambled to my feet - or blades, whatever and almost fell again. Really, that could have nothing to do with the crash. I tried not to worry about it as I headed home to a completely empty house for the night. To give you an idea of how hard a hit it was, here is what's on my forehead as of a few minutes ago:
Had to see now, but it should bruise up nicely. My neck's a little stiff but otherwise I seem fine. Well, except that I'm playing hockey at age 45. Whatever. Also, the Greengrass boys missed practice because they're in CLUB MED. Just wait until it's contract time, fellas.

Friday, November 8, 2013

DId You Not Sense the Great Disturbance in the Force?

I missed an update yesterday. Somehow the world kept spinning. Shocking!

The Wife is away on business for five days, and last night after the kids went to bed I CUT LOOSE! Taping for painting! Slaying the laundry monster! Editing! I'M LUCKY THE POLICE DIDN'T SHOW!

Tonight offers the same debauchery. Maybe, just maybe, I'll actually fire up a video game of some sort MADNESS!! I actually need to do more editing and start prepping my Anonycon games. And insulate the garage. And submit some stories. PARTY TIME WOO.

I actually have a hockey practice tomorrow night. I'm encouraged these youngins want to improve. Maybe we'll actually score a goal before the season ends. We're starting a pool! A buck a player a game. I'm going to live in the goal crease.

writing: 471 Thursday, 741 today. Trying to keep from moving too quickly while moving things along. Also, difficult to write when Terror Kitty sits on my keyboard.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Maybe It's Me. It Must Be Me. Is It Me?

I have had a difficult time lately finding a book that I've really enjoyed reading. I'm not sure if the authors are coming up short or if I'm getting too picky. The new Gaiman? Okay, but a little predictable and it really felt like a short story padded out to make novella length. The new Scott Lynch? Man, I love his writing and there was some great stuff in the beginning but it bogged down as the went along. I know I'm supposed to like Sam Sykes, but I barely made it through his first book, which felt like someone recounting their 4E D&D sessions. Then there was an omnibus about a character named Eli Monpress that was pretty much just awful - when the lead character is nowhere near as witty and charming as the author believes him to be, it's a tough read.

Have my tastes changed? Am I looking for something else, bored with the genre? Too focused on my own writing the the overwhelming urge to get the damn book done. Stressed by having to ready three games for Anonycon? Maybe one of those. Maybe all of those.

Or maybe I'm dead on. Who knows? Anyone else feeling like this lately with the stuff they're reading?

Writing: 841 words. Hit one of those grooves. If I didn't have to come to stupid-head work I'd probably still be there and hitting 5K words like I used to. Things are going to move quickly now (hopefully not too quickly). I may have this draft done by the end of the month. Not bad for a guy getting up at 5am each morning. Now I have to hope it doesn't suck.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vote! Yes, you.

hey! If you live in the US, go VOTE! You DO make a difference.

Writing: 741 words. The plot thickens, no doubt due to all the corn starch I added.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Still Stings

I haven't been writing or submitting much short fiction over the past few months as I've been focused on the novel, but I had a novella out there for an anthology I felt pretty good about. The rejection was waiting for me when I got home this weekend, saying it was 'interesting' but they were going to pass.

It stings. Every time, every rejection, it stings. It's frustrating and maddening and even after time passes and I go back and say yeah, maybe they were right - it still stings.

But then I got notice of yet another payment for my Machine of Death story and I felt better again. Heh.

writing: 721 words. If I ever had an afternoont o myself I could probably finish the damn thing in one swell foop. Fell soup. Bell Swoop.

Friday, November 1, 2013


It's a personal thing, but I'm not a fan of NanoWritMo or whatever it's called. I understand the motivation behind it and what it's trying to produce but if you force people who can't stick to a regular schedule on their own and force them to produce every day the likelihood of the result being poor product almost has to increase exponentially. I'm sure there are examples of very fine things being written under those constraints but I have to believe the majority is just ugly.

Am I being snooty because I stick to a 'write every day' schedule every day anyway? Maybe. Could it be from under my editorial hat? Also possible. Am I going to begrunge and dismiss something someone write this month? Absolutely not. Am I going to be surprised if said book-length manuscript is of underwhelming quality. No.


writing: somewhat ironically, I worked on my editing job this morning as I'm falling behind. Zero words. That will be amended either tonight or tomorrow. Maybe both.

Thursday, October 31, 2013




Writing: 541 words. End game ENGAGED

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Well, That Explains A Lot

First - whatcha doing Dec 6th-8th? Why not come play games at Anonycon with me? I running three different games - Kobolds Ate My Baby!, Inspectres, and a Dungeon World mashup with mini and other (hopefully cool) stuff. Plus GMs much better than myself as well. Check it out! Come! It's a very nice, very friendly little con.

Back to hockey. One of my major frustrations with learning how to play is that I have too many whiffs on the puck, mostly on what should be easy attempts to corral the puck. I couldn't figure out why. I happened to mention it to Shequi today and he said the ref had mentioned that I tend to skate with the heel of my stick on the ice instead of the main part of the blade. That's awesome to know because now I can be cognizant of it and try to fix it. Can many goals be far behind?

Yes, probably.

writing: 741+ words. Finally finished chapter 36, which waddled in at a bloated 13000 words. Ooops. Chapter 37 will truly set the end game in motion, and I should be able to wrap it up in under 15k words, which would probably put me somewhere between 120-130k - not optimal, but after an edit it might be okay.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Center of Trouble - An Old Man Plays Hockey, Week 4

Something weird is happening with the Ice House Raiders. No, we're not winning. We lost 8-0 this week. Victory is something almost mythical to us right now. Getting dressed before the game there was some joking around and talks of a practice during our back to back bye weeks  (yeah, what?), and after a disorganized first period we settled into three set lines of forwards and five defensemen rotating among themselves.

In other words, we started to act like a team instead of sixteen or so random dudes tossed out on the ice. Wait, make that fifteen or so dudes and one dudette. Can't forget Stephanie, our captain. There's something reassuring about having the same two guys hitting the ice with you each shift. Given time, we'll get used to how each of us lays and knowing where we're going to be. It reminds me of playing a season with the same scrum in rugby - you get used to the guy locking in next to you, the flanker on the other side, the two guys in front of you whose hips your ramming your head between, and so on.  It's cool.

It's also not a perfect scenario, for two reasons. One of the guys who takes FOREVER shifts is on my wing, although to be fair that was markedly better when we were a set line and the others - me and a guy of course named Chris, because the Council of Chris thing is going to follow me forever - went off, so he'd follow. He doesn't appear to know what he's supposed to be doing in the defensive zone. I may have yelled a little. It's pretty simple. Right wing covers right point. Don't go below the dot unless the left defenseman does. At least the bench was yelling along with me.

The other issue is that I've been made the center. Not that I have years of experience as a winger, but centering is a little bit different than what I'm used to. There's the faceoffs, of which I managed to win one of six or seven. I like being the guy camped out in front of the net looking for tip in, deflections, and rebounds, and almost had one on a twice-deflected pass. But center? Like my learning curve needed a deeper bend.

The game wasn't as bad a blowout as the score might indicate. Our first goalie gave up a few he'd probably like to get back, and two were powerplay goals as well. In the second period we came thisclose to our first goal as it was through the goalie but ticked off the heel of his skate and went wide.  We also had two posts. There's going to be a goal one of these games, and we're all chipping into a pool - a buck a guy a game, with the pot going to the first one to put it in the net. Like a team does.

We still have other issues - too long shifts, especially by one guy,  and we're waiting for Jeff to get back from dislocating his shoulder, which he evidently didn't tell his wife about for a week and a half. Such is the life of a hockey player.

Writing: 741 words. I need to wrap this chapter up.

Monday, October 28, 2013

At Least He Didn't Sack Him

So The Boy had a football game 'under the lights' Saturday, and it was really cute. First the all got their names called out and ran through a tunnel made up of high school football players, and then played a 'night game.' It was the usual kitten herding with our side being slightly hampered by the fact that the head coach overinflated out footballs and with the cold, nobody could grip it. The other team ran a double reverse, which is impressive when you consider these are 5 and 6 year olds. It was SO impressive that a kid on their team got either confused or excited or angry but whatever it was, he saved us from giving up a sure touchdown when he yanked his teammate's belt. We all laughed in our armpits so the kids wouldn't see. Really, we should be both allowed and encouraged to drink at these things.

Hockey write-up tomorrow. They made me a center. Have they not watched me play?

Writing: 661 Saturday, 641 this morning. Bro-bonding, dude. Bronding. Also, Go Sox,.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It . . . what?

I just had a guy call me from Iowa about a radio for an 05 Celica I'm showing. He then asked me how many miles the car it came out of had.


Writing: 511 words. I was tired and cold and distracted. So there.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I'm Not Lazy, I've Just Never Been There. Okay, I'm a Little Lazy Too. But Help Me Anyway.

Let's say, for the moment, that I was going to run a one-shot set in Los Angeles. For those of you more well-traveled than I am (so that'd be all of you), what are some great places to visit and things to see (that will become supernatural problems)?

Writing: 663 words. I am making up luxuries that don't exist, as far as I know. But I want them!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Sound That Gets Around

So one of the odd things about playing hockey where we do is that aside from the actual game noises, it's pretty silent within the rink. I'm used to rugby where you're outside and near traffic, planes, etc. Hell, I've played games under the RFK Bridge on Randall's Island with all sorts of distractions. At the Ice House, however, it's just the smack of puck against stick and the slash of blade against ice.

Until this week. This week the scoreboard operator brought a laptop and peppered the breaks in action with snippets of music. He announced the goal scorers and the assists, and had a foghorn for when goals were scored. It was goofy but also kinda cool. As I hopped over the boards to the strains of 'Shipping up to Boston' I felt, just for a second, like a real hockey player.

Then I almost wiped out, and the illusion was shattered. Nice while it lasted.

Writing: 945 words. I said I'd try to get to a thousand. Descriptive writing is much easier than conversation.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sliding and Getting Hit by the Puck. These are my Skills. Old Man/Hockey - Game 3

So, our games run 45 minutes. Hockey is different from football in that the clock doesn't just run - the only way time ticks off is while the puck is in play. The pros play 60 minute games, with 4 lines of forwards (12 players) and 3 pairs of defensemen (6 players), and if a guy logs 20-25 minutes of ice time during a game that's considered a lot. They also have 15 minutes between periods to rest up. Last night our shorthanded squad of scrappy heroes numbered 7 forwards and 4 defense, along with a goalie who is very good but considers himself out of shape. Plus, no Greengrassi (the plural of Greengrass). Sheq is in Mexico, the bastard, and Jeff's recovering from a dislocated shoulder. I think Sheq went just to avoid having to listen to me talk about the Sox, Welcome to Ironman Hockey. 

I loved it, of course. Much like every other sport I've played I have a minimum of talent but a motor that won't stop running, so I ate up the extra playing time. I am the cliche of 'plays with all his heart' brought to life.By my best guess I logged between 20-23 minutes, and today my shoulders are achy but my legs feel great. Disclaimer - I took naproxin pre-game. Let's see how I feel at 9pm tonight.

We dropped the puck at 10:45pm and by 10:46 we were . . . not losing. In fact they didn't punch in a lucky goal - an errant pass ticked off the goalie's slick and slithered over the line - until there was only 50 seconds left in the period. The score wasn't a misnomer, either - we spent a good chunk of time in their zone as well. I was a puck magnet in the 1st, and by that I mean I kept getting drilled. I blocked 4 shots - some intentionally, some not - including an actual slapshot off my hip. Allow me to take this moment to mention how awesome hockey pants are. I didn't even feel it.

In the 2nd they chipped in two more, both on rebounds that we didn't clear. Poor, poor Alex the goalie. We spent a good time yelling at one player who likes to sort of wander around the ice kinda doing whatever he wants during shifts that go on wayyyyy too long. Look, if you're going to take a 3+ minute shift and chip in two goals during that period, we'll all good. But if you're going to kind of doodle-oo around like some toddler chasing butterflies and keep ignoring the bench pleading with you to change as you skate at about half-speed to get back on defense, you're hurting the team.

As the 3rd period wore on we were clearly tiring, and the 4 additional skaters they had made a difference as  they punched in four more. Our goalie was so wiped out he could barely stand. And me, I was still a little insane. We were down 6-0 and one of their guys took a pass for a breakaway. I had been backchecking and was a stride behind him when he hit our blueline. Chances of me catching him were nil and while I have no aversion to taking a penalty one in this situation would have been a penalty shot, so I did the logical, perfectly sane thing and dove face first, sweeping my stick around him to knock the puck away before my momentum carried me into our net. That counts as a score, right?

I finished the night at -2. In hockey if you're on the ice for a goal scored against, you get a -1. If your team scores, you get a +1. Power plays don't count either way. In a 7-0 loss I'm a tiny bit proud of being only -2. The guy who won't come off the ice? -6, by my best count. Hope he gets the message soon. Hope we get some more guys to show up soon.

Writing: nothing. Seriously, by the time I was in bed last night it was 1:30am. 3.5 hours sleep would have been non-productive in many ways. I'll just write 1000 words tomorrow IT COULD HAPPEN.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Next I Teach them Audibles

This weekend my son's flag football game was against the jerky team from a  few weeks, ago, described here. They seemed to have toned down a little at first, but as the game wore on the poor sportsmanship of the kids began to resurface, at times seemingly encouraged by the coaches. Again, this is Kindergarten football. It's not life or death. Nobody should be keeping score.  It's just herding cats for an hour.

It came to a head when the lone girl on our team (and the league) Abby took off on a long run. She's started out great this season but had been getting a little less aggressive each game, but she took the handoff and bounced outside. her flag got pulled on the one yard line, so we all signaled touchdown and she was excited.

One of the other coaches insisted it wasn't a score and put the ball on the one yard line. He was adamant and we were incredulous.  With a sigh we lined the kids up and as I pointed to a kid we have who is a bit of a chore to deal with, I saw the coaches jamming five kids in a five yard area, right where we were running. The play was stopped, and I saw them lining up to stuff it again, saying how important is was to stop them and win the game. Remember, these are KINDERGARTENERS. Ridiculous. And irritating. I looked at the kids I had lined up for the play and had an idea.

My quarterback for the play, Brandon, handed off to Matthew on a dive right intot he teeth of their defense. All six kids on that side descended on him like jackals on a lame antelope, and two held aloft his belt in triumph. But . . . Matthew didn't have the ball, as as the kids and their jerkweed coaches watched in stunned amazement Brandon, who had faked the handoff and kept the ball hidden on his hip, tossed the ball to a wide-open Michael in the end zone. Touchdown.

Yes, I taught a pack of five-year-olds the concept of the play-action pass. Later in the game I had another kid roll out and pass for another touchdown to a wide open receiver as six defenders chased him fruitlessly, and made sure someone who hadn't scored yet caught the pass (I wasn't going all Buttermaker there*). The rottenest little brat of their bunch turned and whined at his dad the coach, "Why don't you teach us any cool stuff like that?"

*If you don't get the Buttermaker reference you need to go watch the original Bad News Bears movie (Walter Mattheau, not Billy Bob Thornton) and pay attention to the championship game.

Writing: Saturday 613 words. Protagonist Pity Party!  Woooo!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Living Vicariously

The Boy, age 5, passed his first karate belt test Monday. I looked a long time before settling on a school I liked because having trained for a goodly number of years, I'm fussy about what I want him to be studying. I wasn't interested in the 'fast-food' style chains, nor was I sending him to the Tae Kwon Do guy in town. No disrespect to TKD, but I don't see it as a viable self-defense form, or at least it wasn't when I was studying. We'd have TKD guys come to our dojo and as soon as you got inside the range of their kicks or, ye gods, if you got them on the ground, they were helpless. I wanted a mix of styles for the Boy, and I'm very happy with the school I found. The cop who runs it is an excellent teacher, as are the other three black belts who teach classes as well. I can see the Boy's self-confidence growing in leaps and bounds. I know the board test is mostly hooey, but he was fearless breaking it on his first try with an elbow strike.

I'm not crazy about the scheduled belt advancements - every 8 classes gets a tip, and after 4 tips they test (at this level they just get a colored stripe on a new belt, as opposed to a solid new color), but I understand the necessity of it to keep them interested and enthused (and also to keep track). Aside from not really knowing how to do a sit-up the Boy did really well, considering he's five (I have to keep myself from getting crazy because his stance is wrong or his hips aren't coming forward - he's FIVE). It's KILLING me not to be out there myself in the adult classes, but for now I'm committed to hockey and I don't really want to spend three nights a week away from my wife and kids. When hockey's over I'll reassess, though, because they were doing reversals off throws with locks thrown in and my blood was SINGING through my veins, commanding me to get out there. Sigh.

Writing: 565 yesterday, 545 today. Too much finesse with a conversation that might just get cut anyway, but I'm having fun. Might take tomorrow morning for editing. It's my party, dammit.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Not Okay

Today is acting a whole lot like a Monday, which isn't okay because Monday did a pretty effective job of being a Monday all by itself. My industry is still trying to recover from the million+ cars taken off the road by Cash for Clunkers - it saved the dealerships, but it's almost destroyed the mechanical and auto salvage industries. One of my two dismantlers quit yesterday after five or years of us putting up with him, to 'go follow his destiny.' Destiny must mean 'work at a Maaco,' because that's where he went. He was a nice enough guy who worked reasonably well but at a snail's pace. Also, he was under the delusion he knew everything, which was a source of never-ending strife. I know my other dismantler is probably thrilled that he's gone, and I think I'm okay with the reduced rate of work getting done in exchange for the decrease in payroll, at least over the winter. Business needs to pick up, or we'll all need to go work for Maaco.

Maybe I should have taken that editing job with Random House out of college . . .

Writing: 745 words. Not even trying to restrain myself anymore. Write write write, and then edit it later.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Let 'em Know You're There!

We lost 6-0 in hockey last night, which somehow can be considered an astounding improvement over last week. They scored the last goal with 2 seconds left as a guy who should be a few divisions higher went end to end - it would be like Tom Brady showing up to quarterback in a men's touch league game. Still, for most of the game they had to acknowledge we were actually out there with them at the same time, and I think we put close to ten shots on goal. I discovered that I really like checking people and playing with a  physical edge, which ought to be interesting in a non-checking league. Next week our gametime is Sunday night at 10:45 PM. Come read my joyous blog entry on Monday.

Writing: 688 Friday, nothing on Saturday as I worked on an editing job instead, and 777 today. My verbosity is being unruly again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Go Back and Smack a Hippie

Excited to be running a playtest version of Kevin Kulp's Timewatch game tonight for 3/4s of my regular gaming group. The system is fun and creative, and without a doubt my way-too-smart players are going to abuse the 'preparedness' skill to no end. That okay, they're in big trouble back in our Pathfinder game as a Witchfire has most of them lit up and is about to start dumping 12d6 on them. They'd better come up with a  good plan quickly! Tonight, however, they have a bigger problem. But is it a really a problem?  Who doesn't love a police state?

I am counting the days until I can play hockey again. After the next three games I have two weeks off UNACCEPTABLE

The new Gentleman Bastards novel, by Scott lynch, is so good it's almost depressing. What a fantastic writer he is. Absolutely brilliant.

writing: 845 words. More relationship stuff. I think ti works, but who knows.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I'm a dog person, so of course instead of a mutt I have two cats in my house. One I found crawling around my rugby pitch during a practice, clearly abandoned and so tiny she fit in the palm of my hand. She was named Blaster because the first night she kept making a 'pew pew pew' sound, and since then as also gained thename 'Kitty Fantastica Cha-Cha-Cha, Fuzzy Freakshow, and Terror Kitty. As it has been explained to me, she's a batshit crazy cat. I have done my best to make her dog-like and had some success - she'll come when you call her, she likes to roughhouse, and if she's in the mood she'll play fetch with you. She's also very licky. The other cat is one my wife brought home and he's a old male named Sheeba. He used to be pretty fat but has slimmed down some. When he first came in neither cat was thrilled and he used to bully her all the time, to the point where she was living on the furniture in our bedroom with him stalking her below. To be fair, she's fairly territorial and kind of a bitch. At night they'd make whale noises at each other. It got to be a little irritating, so something had to be done.

Finally, I reinstalled a baby gate at the top of the stairs. Sheeba's either too old or fat to get over the gate or the railing, so the domains are separated. Blaster sometimes ventures downstairs and looks around, but not too often. Then again, who knows what happens all day? Anyway, lately Sheeba has been sitting at the top of the stairs and Blaster gets right up close to the railing, the two of them just out of reach from one another. Sometimes there's hissing, but mostly they just stare at each other. Negotiations? House versus Senate? A peace accord in the making? I hope so. Time will tell, I suppose.

Writing: 845 words. This urban fantasy is becoming less about the magic and more about a love story. That's good, right?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Knee is Supposed to Still Hurt, Right?

Little achy from hockey still. This is what happens when you get OLD. I never really felt the effects of playing sports until I was playing rugby on Saturdays and reffing on Sundays. By the last game I was wiped. And ye gods you have never heard a whinier bunch of marys than guys in the mid-twenties and early thirties trying to convince themselves that they're still awesome at football. You may not like my calls, by I wasn't the one who got you toasted on a post-corner, buddy.

Writing: 745 words. I cannot restrain the words, they just keep tumbling out. OUT, DAMNED WORDS.

Monday, October 7, 2013

So Close I Could Taste It - Old Man Learns Hockey - Game #1

Last night I laced 'em up and played my first real hockey game. Through the blessing of random determination I started the game at right wing, with my friend Sheq on left and newly minted captain Stephanie at center. We were poised, excited, and raring to go.

We were behind 1-0 after 24 seconds.

To be fair, it was a soft goal from a bad angle, but the end of the 1st period found us down 3-0. Still, all three goals came fairly early and it looked like we were gaining some momentum.

We were not gaining momentum. The 2nd period got ugly as they punched in another 6 or so, and although things got a little more balanced in the 3rd they tacked on a couple there as well. Official final score was 11-0, but it might have been 13-0 or 14-0. Given we're a bunch of players ranging from maybe good to downright awful and had never played a second together before, it's to be expected. Too many people were greedy on their shifts and stayed out wayyyyyyyyyyy too long, more often than not resulting in goals for the other team. Our goalie apologized for his poor play but he was under siege the entire time.

And me? I was . . . fair to poor, I think. Out of position a little too much, a bad pass or two, not covering guys I should have. I had energy and hustle to forecheck but lack of ability, but that'll get better. I did manage to chip a puck past a guy and then race - yes, race, as fast as my little legs would take me - to the attacking zone and make an accurate pass over the defenseman's stick from my backhand to my center, but it hopped over his stick as he tried to corral it. I was hoping for my first assist. Instead I had to haul ass back to get on D. The game moves so quickly, and those who can skate well have an absolutely huge advantage over those who can't (me). I loved it, though, and being able to play with my best friend and his brother (who, to be fair, is also my friend in his own right) is something very cool. My right knee is cranky, my left thumb knuckle is swollen, and my right forearm has me feeling like Matt Harvey. In other words, I feel awesome and can't wait for next week.

So who cares if we lost to the team that was in last place last season? Next week we've got . . . the team that played before us and won 12-1. Uhm . . . did I mention our jerseys are a pretty baby blue?

Writing: 612 words. I ignored my barking knee and dove in. I'll finish this SOB if it doesn't kill me first.

Friday, October 4, 2013

But Will I Still Have Teeth?

Next time I update this blog I will an actual Player of Hockey, with my first game scheduled for Sunday night. I'm glad I tried this. I miss hockey and am somewhat regretting not going back to martial arts, but this looks like it's going to be fun. Old Time Hockey! Eddie Shore!

Having a garage sale this weekend. People seeing the ad on Craigslist keep emailing to see if we are selling kids clothes. We aren't, as we donated them all to the 'Nam vets, but I don't have one iota of regret for that. SO MANY TOYS. I hope we sell everything.

Writing: 299 words. Finished a chapter, which requires some fussing. Thinking I'm going to go the Guest Author route I mentioned yesterday. If nothing else, it'll get one of my stories edited by an outside source.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hit 'em in the Mind! Also, a question for fellow writers/editors

As expected, I've been put on the house team for hockey. I was given #16, one of the Hanson Brothers numbers. My friend Jeff was given #18, which was also a Hanson Brother number, in this case for the one named . . . Jeff.

This can't be a coincidence.

So, I just finished being a judge for a writing contest. It was fun and I was happy that my choice for best story was actually very good. The editor thanked me for my work (judges provided some criticism as well for the non-winners) and then surprised me by asking what I'd like as compensation. I'd taken on the 'job' mainly for the experience and to hone my editing skills. Out of the ten finalists, I would have plucked maybe a total of three from a slush pile to make the initial cut. It was good to see some of the not-so-great stuff. The editor suggested a plug n the magazine's newsletter, but I'm loathe to promote my editing availability because I'm not really available right now and also, they do some too on the stories they get and I don't want to step on toes. He also offered a guest writer spot, which would be another publishing notch but a) it feels a little backdoorish to me and b) I don't imagine I'd get paid for it, which is less an economic issue than it is a personal preference one. I like knowing that others found my stuff good enough to publish, not that I was 'owed one.' Still, exposure is exposure. So I ask you all - any suggestions?

Writing: 802 words. Yes, word count is spiraling, but this chapter is almost over and then I can move to end game. Afterward is the edit, which is going to be bloody. BLOODY I SAY. Some of the earlier chapters were written three years ago. There will be hacking!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dut dutta dut dutta dut dutta dutta dutta dutta . . . Hockey clinic, night #4

I've been a NY Rangers fan since as far back as I can remember. My father and I used to watch them play (and mostly lose) on a little12 inch TV. I've been to the Garden more times than I can count, and I was part of the celebratory throng outside in 1994 when they finally won the damn Cup again. One the subway home a guy looked at his stub with quiet calm and then held it out to me, telling me to take it. "I want the moment to be shared." I still have it. It was a from a non-drinking section, which was ironic given how drunk I was at the time.

As much as I love the Blueshirts, their lack of musical taste bothers me. Unless this has changed recently, the music that plays when they score a goal at home is Rock and Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter, which is tired and overused and oh yeah, by a pedophile. Or a child porn watcher, if that's any less evil. They need something better. Boston has the Dropkick Murphys, and Chicago uses the Fratellis . . . we need something good. I want to hear a good song play in my head if I score a goal.

Big if.

Our last night of clinic found us Shequi-less again, unfortunately. There was a little bit of chatter in the cramped locker room this time, which meant we were being accepted I guess. On the ice we started with drills, of course, which I  had my usual difficulties with. There was one where we skated all five circles, and damn I wanted to try my crossover but there were always two guys right behind me and I didn't want to fall and take everyone out. I just chugged around as quickly as I could. Someday, crossover, someday. Jeff, meanwhile, continues to look more and more natural. Jerk.

We did do a stopping drill again, and I have definitely found my idiot savant skill for hockey. I can stop. I  can stop on either side with full confidence. I have no idea why.  After my earlier struggles with, well, everything, the coaches were laughing about it. I have no idea why it was easy for me. Skiing? Who knows? I'll take it. We also did a drill that involved giving and receiving two passes before shooting at . . . a net. I hadn't shot at a net yet, not one standing up the right way, and the satisfying THUNK the puck made as it clanged against the back of the net was so very, very satisfying. One my second pass I got cheeky enough to try to lift the puck and damned if I didn't put the biscuit in the basket two feet up. Having no goalie helped.

We headed into a full half-hour of scrimmaging with twelve players on a side, so the coaches told us to play four on four. That means more open ice, which is not quite to my wobbly-ankled advantage. To make it worse the guys we were paired with (of course the Hanson Brothers were together) wanted to play forward, so Jeff and I played defense. I really, really want to be a defensemen, but I really, really don't skate well enough for it. My backwards skating is much better, but not fast enough yet. Unfortunately, I'm out of clinic time to improve it.

We did okay for a while. Of course Erika the Valkyrie was opposite me, and after a while she undressed me with an outside move and scored on the empty net. I ventured up ice a little, blocked some shots, made a pass or two.  Jeff actually skated with the puck and PUT A MOVE on a defender. It was so much fun. Our linemate turned out to be from my town, which evidently fields a team. He made vague promises to get back to me on joining up, but overall he seemed a pretty cool guy.

My bugaboo of seeing the ice but not having the ability to capitalize on it continued to vex me. I saw Erika line up a long pass, made my move to intercept it, and missed. Now if it had zipped past the tip of my stick I could rationalize that I had just been too slow, or read it late. But it went between my stick and my feet, which means I just overskated it. Yeah, no waving that away.

We finished with breakaways against the lone goalie. I slid my feet back and forth waiting for my turn, excited and nervous. I hadn't taken a shot in our scrimmages due to both lack of and missed opportunities, but now it was reckoning time. Jeff went before me and drew a compliment from the coach. He was really starting to look at home on the ice. I took the coach's pass and flew in at what seemed like high speed to me but was probably a crawl, cradling the puck on my blade. As I neared I shifted to my backhand, and as the goalie started to move I pulled back to forehand, cut to my right, and rifled a shot toward the top corner, over his waffle.

At least, that's what I meant to do. He had me read perfectly and was moving back, in good position to make the save. However, my transition from forehand to backhand wasn't as smooth as it could have been, and instead the puck slid off my blade mid-exchange . . . toward the net, at about five miles and hour. It went right through his five-hole and, as I skated by, over the line for a goal.  The netminder's shouted 'FUCK!' echoed throughout the rink.. I didn't make a big deal about it - no stick raising, no fist pump. Act like you've been there before.

In my head, though, 'Chelsea Dagger' was blaring. Season starts this Sunday. I may not be good, but I'm ready. To quote the Dropkicks, 'Drop the puck, it's time to go!'

Writing: 1060 words. Oh yeah. Getting wayyyyyyy too long again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tune in Tomorrow

My hockey update hopefully be tomorrow, full of THRILLS (like me falling) CHILLS (because of the ice) and WONDER (like it's wonder they let me out there at all).

Writing: 660 words. It's easy to write about someone's downfall.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Are You Listening, Lost? BSG? Especially You, BSG!

The best word to describe Breaking Bad's finale last night (no spoilers, don't worry) is 'elegant.' If did everything it needed to do and did it well, as one would expect from such an amazing series. I'm sad that it's over but don't feel a Firefly/Serenity-type ache for another chapter. Wonderful. Well, as wonderful as a story about a meth-kingpin can be.

I'm under tremendous time constraints lately, and the contest I volunteered to judge for just told me to expect my entries soon. Yeesh. You entered, right? Right?

Writing: zero words Saturday, zero words this morning. Yeah, I know. Saturday I needed to get some editing done, and this morning followed the pattern of the entire weekend and was centered around helping someone move. Totally, totally worth it. The words will flow tomorrow.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bloody hell, I keep forgetting about this

Busy and lacking interesting things to write about, so I'll just get tot he motivational part.

Writin': 688 words Thursday, 888 today. I feel a good chunk of today's is going to get slaughtered during editing, but again, this is the 'vomit words on the page' portion of the writing process. Have a good weekend, gang.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just an update, then

Busy today. No time to blather. LUCKY YOU.

writing: 743 words. starting to get concerned about length again. Time for someone to die.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'So, Which One are You?' - Hockey Clinic Night #3

For those who know who the guys in the picture above are, no explanation necessary. For those who don't and aren't easily offended - or even moderately offended - go watch the movie Slapshot, which is deliriously raunchy and hysterical, in that order. Anyway, night #3 found us missing Sheq again. Missing a bunch of people, actually, as we went from the 30 skaters of last session to about 18 of us.  Jeff proved he has a heart of gold by giving me a thing that sticks to the inside of your helmet and keeps the sweat from running into your eyes. I almost kissed him. I had no issues there and the sweat was content to emerge from every other pore on my body in great quantity.

I had taken the family skating Sunday but that didn't work out so well. The place was packed, so much so that my kids weren't interested in trying to wobble around on skates that needs sharpening for too long. That gave me some time to practice, and I spent a good 20 minutes skating the center ice circle trying to get a crossover down. There was a lot of falling. There were two sorta-crossovers but really, not so much. That skill remained elusive.

That, along with the other boatload of things I'm terrible at, had be a little nervous before the session. But tonight proved to be full of Drills That Kit Didn't Totally Suck at For Some Reason, probably because they were a little weird. For instance, we had to skate to the red line as fast as we could and then drop into a squat and see if we could glide to the end boards. People fell all over the place or ran out of speed. For some reason this was really easy for me, and the first person who says it's because of a large butt gets a hockey glove in the face. Another one was skating, then dropping to your knees and hopping back up as you slid. Not only did I do okay at this, but it was fun. Give me more freaky drills to be moderately non-sucky at!

We broke into two squads, with some people reluctant to admit they'd been down with the remedial skaters like me last week. Dudes, own it. It's a clinic. It's all about getting better, not having everyone think you're a better skater than they are. The coach set up a death wiggle of cones and then told us we were going to make turns through the tight confines. While skating. MADNESS! I envisioned myself scattering cones to the winds as my inability to commit to inside edges doomed me.

Then the coach said something that may have changed my erstwhile career as a beer league hockey player and upgraded me from hopeless to terrible: when you start your turn, bring the stick around ahead of you in the direction your turning and turn your head to look at where you're going.

That's it. It sounded too simple and I prepared to sprawl mid-turn, but instead I moved the stick around the cone and looked to the next one and cut a pretty damn tight corner. It happened the next time too, and after that, and after that . . . so simple, but so effective. We did it several times and my confidence continued to grow. I could do this! 45 isn't too old to play for the Rangers!

Then he gave me a puck, and hilarity ensued. Suffice to say I was a little less polished. Plus we also had to shoot at a tipped over net at the end of the course, and I was fine as long as I kept it simple and didn't do anything but shove the puck at the damn thing. As soon as I applied any wrist action it went wherever it wanted. It would appear I have not yet acquired a goal-scoring touch.

Splitting into teams of 9, we started scrimmaging. Our first shift ran about 2 minutes. To give you an idea of what it's supposed to be like, the average NHL shift is about 30-45 seconds. It didn't matter. I would have stayed out there for twenty minutes straight if I could have. Too much fun, despite being fairly incompetent in a most frustrating way. Here's the killer: I've been watching hockey for almost 40 years now, and despite not playing until recently I have a pretty good handle on the game. When Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest players of all time and certainly the best I've ever seen, was a kid, he used to watch games with a cardboard cutout of a hockey rink in his lap. He'd use a marker to follow the puck and at the end of the game he'd notice where the heaviest amount of ink was. In games, he'd go to those places because that's where the puck seemed to end up. I'm not on that level, but I can see plays developing and know exactly where I need to be to either jump in on offense or break something up on defense - but I lack the actual skill to accomplish it. SO FRUSTRATING. For instance last light I was on left wing and the puck was at the right sideboards. A player on the other team got the puck and I knew she was going to shoot the puck around the boards to my side to clear the zone, and I headed for the boards as she did just that. But when I got there the blade my stick hit the boards, bounced off for the second that the puck shot by, and then when my reflexive act was to poke at the board against it unbalanced me and I fell on my butt. SUPERSTAR!

The best skater on the ice is a woman who looks like at the end of the night she's going to trade in her stick for a spear as she heads off to gather fallen warriors to take to Valhalla. Of course she was opposite the line I played on and covering her was like trying to cover smoke. At one point there was a loose puck that i actually swept away from her and started to head up ice. I heard her curse behind me and the chop of her skates and everything I'd learned over the past three weeks vanished in a rush of panic as I tried to RUN UP THE ICE to stay ahead of her. I managed to pass it away just before she stickchecked me and I fell to the ice laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

As for the picture above, as I remember it there was a loose puck and one of the guys chased after it with his head down, and well, Jeff checked his ass into next week. I was close enough that I couldn't stop and sort of fell on his as well, which caused one of the other players to laugh and say, "Hell, you guys are the Hanson Brothers. So which one are you?"

I'm figuring Jeff should be Jeff, as long as I don't get any of that stinking root beer.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What is This, Texas?

I'm not going to get into details but I ran into Those Guys this weekend at The Boy's flag football game. The Guys who teach 5 year olds that they have to WIN and one who has his obese kid throwing a CRACKBACK BLOCK on a kid who weighs about 30 pounds soaking wet. It was insane. Suffice to say I stood up for my ducklings. But seriously, in a Kindergarten-age game of flag football where nobody is keeping score, you shouldn't be watching to see which side I'm telling my ADHD kids to run to and then STACKING ALL YOUR KIDS UP THERE. It was nuts. Jerkweeds.

Spent over twenty minutes circling the center ice circle yesterday and managed to fall down a lot around two brief, weak crossovers. Not ready for the NHL yet.

Writing: 711 Saturday, 347 today. Not too bummed about this morning's lousy output because it was a new chapter and I had to do some cleaning up of my outline. Also, I managed to get my novella/novelette/not-short story sent off to an anthology actually considering long pieces, so fingers shall be crossed there.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It Might Be Time

Alarm clock didn't go off again yesterday and I slept through my writing session. Maybe I should break down and replace this 20 year old one. Just a thought.

writing: yesterday bupkis, today 693. Not sure if I'm going to have the protagonist screw up a little or a lot AHAHAHAHAHHA he's totally going to bone everything in a major way and that's not a euphemism for sex.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I'm downwind from the local Chinese food place and the smell is killing me today. I could go for some boneless ribs, but living gluten-free means ninety-nine percent of Chinese food is off limits and I'm not in the mood for mei fun noodles. Maybe the wind will shift and I'll smell the pizza place instead.  Wait . . . dammit.

At least my fried food intake has essentially vanished. I think the only times I've had any in the 4 months or so of this were fries at 5 Guys. My taste buds are ever so pissed at me.

writing: 497 words. Disjointed session as I wasn't feeling so hot. Happy with the word output, given the situation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cut Me Another Slice of Humble Pie - Hockey Training, Part 2

Last night found me back at the Icehouse ready to learn again (incidentally, they claim that this is the largest 'beer' league in the country. Really? I gues NJ is becoming a hockey hotbed. Too bad it's going to get fouled by my ice capades). This time my friend Sheq made it in his gear acquired via Ebay, which included a jersey with a number. I did not have such boldness (although I thought about my vintage Mark Pavelich jersey for a long time) and stuck with my grey CCM jersey that I and about five other people picked up for 10 bucks. We were an anonymous legion!

I felt good during warm-ups. First I worked on the proper style to build better skating, and then even worked on backwards a bit. We started with the push-leg skating drill from last time and I still felt good. From there we went to the stopping on the lines thing and yeah, I wiped out spectacularly a few times but I was making actual stops (when I didn't wipe out) instead of snowplowing. Improvement! Ice ice baby!

Then we started skating backwards.

All of the limited success I had before went out the window. I was awkward, unbalanced, and sloooooooow. After a bit the coach pulled me, Sheq, and one kid who made us look like Apolo Ohno off tot he side to work on that for a while. Did I get better? Maybe. The problem with skating backwards is that everyone else skates so much faster forwards that I'm reluctant to use it. It will come with time. I was a little down on myself this morning because it was a rough night - more coming on that - and then I remembered that THIS WAS BASICALLY MY 4TH TIME ON SKATES and I should maybe relax a little with the self-hatin'.

Time for a new feature: Things I didn't know about playing hockey!
1. Sweat pours in your face constantly and since you have a cage on it's a pain in the ass to get rid off. The fingers of your gloves will NOT fit through the holes.
2. If you step on the puck while skating there will be comical results.
3. Stopping is a good thing to know how to do.
4. Any idiot who still thinks women can't compete with men in sports should come watch the two we had out there. The blond was possibly the best player on the ice.
5. That weird smell? It's you.
6. Getting over the boards from the bench to the ice is like a mini-game. I feel ridiculously proud for having not wiped out yet. Yet.
7. Jeff is getting his legs and game sense back and will soon be far, far better than me. If he isn't already.

We moved to the crossover step again. I still couldn't do it, but I at least failed while trying instead of just skating in a circle like last time. Of course this screwed up everyone behind me but they all seemed to treat it as an accepted thing.

From there were moved to passing, and evidently I am capable of standing sideways and pushing a puck to a stationary teammate approximately ten feet away. I do feel a sense of accomplishment about this. Don't judge. It was a rough night. Meanwhile the good skaters - and there were a slew of them - were whizzing around through cones and aiming for top corner with wrist shots. I had to once again note that while this was a clinic designated for beginners, at least half the people here were far beyond that labeling.

This became even more apparent when we shifted to a game. I was on a line with one of the superstars, so to speak, and he determined it was his job to skate around with the puck and not pass to anyone. At one point he was steaming down the right side with three guys covering him, and I drifted into the slot all alone and started banging my stick on the ice. Actually, two other guys from my team had found spots as well and we were all banging our sticks on the ice, calling for a pass. He ignored us and tried to swoop around himself, losing the puck. Jerkweed.

In the defensive zone I got schooled a couple of times by guys blowing right past my attempts to skate backwards and cover them. Sure, I cleared a few pucks, but for the most part I looked like what i was - an old guy trying to learn how to play hockey against vastly superior players.

Know what?  That's okay. I'll get there. See you next week.

Writing: Yes, I got up at 5 and wrote, although believe me my body wanted to go back to sleep. I'm surprisingly un-achey today. 620 words. I started to slow down to muse over ideas and then remembered this is the 'vomit words on the page and clean them up later' phase.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A 2 for 1 Special Would Be Nice

If anyone has figured out a way to cram more hours into the day, let me in on it? yeesh.

Short and not really sweet today, as I'm busy at work.

Writing: 711 Saturday,  724 today. I reserve the right to take a morning for self-editing or gaming prep. These things happen.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Edit for Credit

As i start to cobble my copyediting career into being I'm faced with the decision of how to charge. Rear a book and it says to do it per page. Read a different book and it says to do it hourly. Consult an online editor and see that he does it by project. Or by word. Or in other ways as fits the situation.

I don't like the time model because while I have a pretty damn good work ethic, it's still designed to make me be more inefficient. The longer I take, the more I get. The per-project model is appealing, but I fear my lack of experience will have me hitting either way too high or way too low.  The per-page is persnickety as well, because different projects will have vastly different variety in the number of words per page.

So it seems that per word might be the way to go for me. I'm a fair and honest person, and I take pride in a  job well done. The project I have going on right now has had me going over the same chapter more than once as the authors revise after my initial pass, and you know what? I'm okay with that. We've even triple-dipped a few times and it doesn't seem to bother me at all. They seem pleased with the results and really, that's the point, right? Now if it were going to be my sole source of income the back and forth might be more of an issue, but then I'd have more time to give to it as opposed to the hours I steal here and there to stay slightly ahead of them. So it seems I'm getting my footing, and, as it turns out, I pretty much freaking love editing. Now this could be colored by the fact that the writing I'm working with is really interesting, but I feel it might be the case no matter what. hopefully I'll find more work in the future to find out.  In the meantime, I need to assemble a rate page. I'll do that in my spare time ::cue laughter::

Writing: oh right, that. 672 words as there was a little grooving and shaking going on. No, not for the characters, who are well and truly fucked. I meant with my writing mojo and just my life in general. Good things are heavily outweighing the bad lately and that makes Kit a happy writer.

not necessarily a good writer, but a happy one.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It Totally Counts

Uhm, my super-long hockey post from Tuesday covers all week, right? Right?

Writing: You may have noticed there was no update yesterday. Well, I plumb forgot, but there was no update anyway because my alarm didn't go off and I slept through until 5:51. No words ! ::cue sad trombone:: Today there was 543 and lucky to have that because curse you Card Hunter announcing you're out of beta and linking me to my account! CURSE YOU!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drop the Puck, It's Time to Go!

He zipped across the blue line, alone, puck cradled against the curve of the blade of his stick. The only thing between him and the goalie was me, my gray shirt dark with sweat, and he drove to the outside on his forehand trying to swoop around me. I drifted back with him, waiting for the moment when he realized that path was closed and tried to cut back toward the middle. He was bigger, stronger, more experienced and ten times the skater I was, but I had the angle on him. At least, I hoped I did. After all, I'd only been a hockey player for all of 80 minutes or so. What the hell did I know?

His skates slashed into the ice and his momentum shifted direction. My blades dug in as well and I struck . . .


I'd been looking for something new to challenge me, as time constraints had caused me to give up on rugby and I was feeling the need for a new sporting outlet. At a party consisting of people I didn't really know the host mentioned that he'd started playing hockey recently, despite the fact that he'd never played before and couldn't really skate. Hey, I had those same qualifications! If he was a hopeless spaz as well we might be brothers. Turns out one of the local hockey rinks had a league just for us, filled with players of  'zero to limited experience.' His enthusiasm was contagious, and I started to look into actually doing this thing, because man, I love hockey. One or two nights a week after the kids were in bed? No problem! Equipment? My brother-in-law thoughtfully donated his old stuff, and I filled in the gaps with a trip to HockeyMonkey. $45 hockey skates? How couldn't I? (My fear at buying such cheap blades, even if they were Bauers, was allayed when I noticed at least ten others wearing them at the clinic). And when I mentioned it to my friend Sheq, he seemed pretty interested too. His brother wanted in as well, so the three of us took the plunge and signed up for the winter league.

First we figured we should, you know, learn how to play, and signed up for a four-session clinic. Out of the three of us Jeff, Sheq's brother, had the best chance of not being horrible, as he had several years of rollerblade hockey in his distant past. I took the family skating two weekends in a row, which turned out to be a big hit and allowed me to shake of thirty-plus years of rust from someone who was never an avid skater to begin with. Thanks to Sheq's daughter Zoe by the end of the second session I could sort of stop, sort of skate backwards, and glide for about  five feet on one blade. I was ready to take this clinic by storm.

Ice House in Hackensack is huge - four rinks and fifteen locker rooms under one roof. Jeff showed up at our agreed-on time - we wanted to get there early to figure out how to put on our medieval knight's worth of gear - and informed me that Sheq had left work with a migraine and was unlikely to appear. As he had a couple of pieces of Jeff's gear that made an interesting show of confidence on his brother's part, as he had to go without a faceguard or hockey pants. Let me just say that hockey pants are awesome. Remember skating and landing on your tailbone? Hockey pants make that go away. They're like the friend who shows up with coffee and bacon after a night of hard drinking.

We found our rink and, with help, our locker room, which looked less like the carpeted opulence of Madison Square Garden and more like a prison cell. I was able to figure out what went where mostly by observing others getting suited up, and before long we were out on the ice, two goalies and twenty-six skaters. As the coaches had us warm up skating laps it became obvious that the rumor I'd heard that much more skilled players often took the clinic for fine-tuning on their skills and cheap ice time was true.  There were four or five guys in white Ice House jerseys who zipped around with the ease that spoke of years of practice. Still, I wasn't bothered. I'd left my ego in my hockey bag. For fuck's sake, I'm 45 years old. I'm not expecting to be Gretzky out there.

The first thing we worked on was skating. I was doing it wrong. It seems my two sessions of rec skating had done more harm than good but to be fair, pretty much everyone was told this as well. We worked on keeping our feet beneath us and pushing off with the inner edge, while keeping our heads up and sticks on the ice.  One of our drills involved skating from the goal line to the blue line and stopping, then to the red line, and so on. Over the course of several trips up and down the ice I fell numerous times, but I didn't care. It was fun and I could feel myself getting a little bit more confidant each time. Moving to the faceoff circles, they introduced the concept of the crossover step. I simply didn't have the confidence in my skating yet to pull it off. Maybe next session. Jeff had it down after a little while. Bastard.

The coached talked about how to use your stick (PHRASING!). I was doing it wrong. My hands weren't in the right position (PHRASING), I had it too far away from me (PHR - aw, forget it), I had it too far out to the side.The coach corrected me. I listened.

Then we were given pucks and worked on stickhanding. I was doing it wrong (are you seeing a pattern here?). The coach showed me how to do it correctly, and I practiced it as we skated in circles and around cones. It's SO MUCH more difficult than it looks like on TV. The puck has a mind of its own and skitters everywhere. I pretty much just laughed at myself and my antics, but kept trying.

Then, with about ten minutes left, they divided us into teams and said, "Let's play hockey!" By virtue of where I went on the bench I was dubbed a defensemen, one of two players who think more about protecting their own goal than attacking their opponent's. A kid of like twenty was my first defensive partner, and he offered me good-natured ribbing as we headed out for our shift. The game moved so quickly that at times I was lost as to what was happening. My first few shifts I was extremely timid about going anywhere past the red line, afraid to get caught too far up. I knew everyone else could easily out-skate me forwards, and backwards would be even more of a disaster, so I played it safe. On my second shift the puck was in our zone and went back to one of their defensemen, who was not scared to be there and wound up for a shot as I placed myself in harm's way.. His shot glanced off my foot and either bounced away or deflected to the goalie behind me, who made the save. In any case, they didn't score. I had a rudimentary idea of where a defenseman is supposed to be in certain situations so I wobbled to and fro, just trying to get in the way. Also, having a load of fun. This was GREAT.

Jeff and I ended up as a defensive pairing as someone's idea of a joke. Jeff could actually skate very well but couldn't stop. One of the good players in the white shirts had the puck and skated from Jeff's side of the ice over to mine above the blueline. Jeff stayed with him, which left me in a quandry - what to do? Stay at home, which left the other side of the ice open, or back off and cover that but leave open the chance that this guy would have a breakaway? I stayed home, and he fed it to his wide open teammate in the slot. Our goalie bailed us out with a nice save, snapping shut his pads and denying the gap between his legs known as the 'five hole.' Jeff and I skated off, talking about what had happened. A coach skated up and pointed to me. "You did the right thing." To Jeff he said, "You didn't. Stay on your side of the ice." Jeff countered that he thought he had the angle on the guy, but the coach shook his head and disagreed, saying "Staying at home is more important. next time you know.  You're doing great!"

Which brings us back to the play I started with. When the guy made his move, two things occurred to me at once: one, I was in the right position, and two, I had been skating backwards to get there and not even thinking about it. Scary! My frantic pokecheck was lucky enough to get the puck and send it out of the zone, and later on as we clambered out for the last shift I felt daring enough to venture all the way to the other team's blue line as we attacked. One of their defensemen tried to clear the puck from the zone but sort of whiffed, and I was able to get to it before his teammate and shove it toward one of our forwards, who made a shot that was saved. I had contributed in the offensive zone! Then the coach blew his whistle and I fell flat on my ass.  The zamboni was already coming out onto the ice, and I skated off with reluctance, knowing I'd been lucky out there but looking forward to having the opportunity to be burned again next week.

Now how do I clean all these pads?

writing: 486 tired words and you better believe my body is PISSED I made it get up at 5am to write. You don't even want to know the creaks and groans that came later during pushups and situps.