Friday, September 19, 2014

Can't Quite Taste It Yet

 Three more chapters to go before my re-re-re-write is done. Granted, there's 25K words in them there chapters (right now - I'm going all Jack the Ripper on their bloviated asses), but ye gods it's almost done. Again. I hope it's readable/publishable/good/fun. If nothing else, I'd like to be able to sleep past 5am one morning a week without feeling guilty that I should be up editing. Or writing. Wriditing. Yeah, that works.

Friend of mine from college died. I', sad but somewhat disconnected about the whole thing - we had great times together, but I'd seen/spoken to him one time in 24 years and not in 14 years. My fault, I suppose. The funeral isn't feasible - up near Boston, an 8 hour round trip - but I'm still wondering if I'm some sort of sociopath for not going. 46 is too young to die, though. RIP, Wheat. Thanks for all those nights of drinking beers while playing Strat-o-Matic hockey. I was a nerd even then. GOALIE RATING!

I like the kids' teachers for this year. Becky's has already singled her out as a brainasaurus and will recommend her for G&T. I think she's a little miffed that Zack's already in it and she isn't. Zack has a new kid in his class and, having been that before, we told him to go out of his way to be friendly. Turns out the kid has ADHD and may be a bully, but the mother flat out begged me to encourage Zack to keep trying while they tinker with the kid's med. Zack is a lot more passive than I was, to be sure. I was not too tolerant of being bullied as a kid and my parents had o come down to the school more than once because I'd been in a  fight. Grr. Snarl.

Did a fullbore LARP with my friend Eric (not the dead one) and had a good time. It was deathly hot but I still made some good memories and new friends. I'm more excited to try his game, which ran the next weekend and was impossible for me to make, so I'll do that in the spring. I embrace my inner nerd. Actually, I'm pretty much humping it by this point.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

End of Summer Round-up - Yee-ha!

Yeah, I've been slacking a little lately on the blogging. It's a combination of vacation and being busy, but here I am so let the pigeons loose.

::flap flap::

Anyway, Summer hockey has ended with our brave little toaster of a team going 3-5. That's a huge improvement over 0-10 and we could have gone 4-4 with a few different bounces. I've been able to watch tape of our games - our goalie has this thing called a GoPro which is kinda awesome - and realized I looked like I was skating while on a very short horse - my legs were way too wide. Should maybe someone have mentioned this at the clinic I used to go to? Perhaps. In any case, I've tried to be more conscious about ti and when I remember to keep my feet together I look almost non-spastic on the ice. I finished the season somewhere around even, helped by being +3 for our final game. I'm still terrible, but a lesser degree of terrible than before. Soon I may just be awful, with dreams of crappy danicing in my eyes.

Vacation at Hershey was fun, and afterward I finally trekked down the Shore and saw the vacant lot that was the beach house. Sad. Things are good on most fronts - business is still too slow and I'm still waiting on authors so I can do some more editing, but that's life. I'm within striking distance of finishing my retooling/rewrite/re-edit of Dancing with the Boneyard Gods, although I already thinking some of the early chapters can be excised as well. Soon it will go into the hands of the victims readers and I'll get lots of constructive feedback. Bring out the cat-o-nine tails! Looking forward to spending Labor Day weekend with wonderful friends up near Boston. Jumping down the rabbit hole and doing a LARP the following weekend. Don't care what people may think, it sounds like fun.

Still enjoying XCom. Shut up, I'm old and have little free time. And why can't I have a squad of 6 snipers?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Don't Get It, Redux - Summer Season, 2014

So last week we were playing one of the undefeated teams in our division, the unfortunately Bro-named Mooseknuckles. I'd seen them play a little the week before and knew we'd have our hands full, as not only did they have a number of good players but they also had a 'shouldn't-be-in-this-division' Superstar who also was sporting a vintage mid-1990's Jaromir Jagr full blown mullet. So I was prepared for a possible replay of our game against the Wolfpack and their two douchenozzles.

However, I underestimated the level of loser we were dealing with. They scored on each of the first two shifts and it looked like it was going to be a long night. We calmed down, got a few big saves from Chaz and then a few more before poking one home. Then another. And another. They scored to tie it up before the first period ended, but we got one early in the second to take a 4-3 lead. Hell, I even got an assist on it, even though they gave it to someone else. To be fair we were in our 'road' sweaters, which are a miismosh of non-black colors with numbers taped on the back. They answered back quickly, but then I started to notice something. They had a full bench like us, 15 or 16 skaters.

They weren't using about half of them.

As I watched I realized the same 8 or 9 guys were the only ones on the ice for the second period and a good chunk of the third, during which Superstar potted 6 goals and turned the game into a farce. They BENCHED half their team to win a mid-season game against a 2-2 team.


I would say it was a testament to our class that Superstar didn't get clobbered, but the truth is that I couldn't catch him. I'd watched tape of the previous game and noticed that part of what makes me look so goofy skating is that my feet are always super-wide apart, so I tried to work on that. Watching this week's tape (and realizing that if not for Chaz's heroics it could have been 22-5 instead of 11-5 for the final) I looked much better - for about half the game. Also, if someone with speed started skating at me it all went out the window and I started moving like a guy getting tasered. Baby steps, baby steps. I was either a -1 or -2 for the game - not great, but not awful for a blowout like that. Got caught flatfooted too much. Well, flat-bladed. Whatever.

Tomorrow night is pretty much the game that'll decide which team grabs the 4th and final playoff spot. the Mutiny play smart team hockey and have a couple of higher-end 8W players. Can we beat them? Well, we haven't yet, but hopefully with the scouting report I ferreted out of my friend Dave while drinking Friday night (he plays for them) we can try to reverse that trend. Our two best-skating defensemen are unavailable so we'll shift a few people around and let the pucks fall where they may. Next week we suffer the wrath of the scheduling gods as we have 10:45pm games on back-to-back nights. That's next week, though. One game at a time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ten Out of Ten - Hockey, Summer, Game 4

There's something to be said for having a 3-0 lead after 9 minutes of play.

There's also something to be said for the other team not having a goalie.

Actually, it kinda sucks. We scored 3 in those 9 minutes and could have scored more, but it felt, I don't know, cheap. I was happy when their goalie (or 'hey can anyone show up and play goalie for us' arrived b/c theis guy has freelanced for other teams we've played) showed up and the game could continue on a more normal keel. Goalie or no goalie, we were the better team. And the score reflected it.

We had a grand total of 10 skaters, not counting Chaz the goalie, who was back after missing two games - both losses. 10 is not a whole lot - two sets of forwards and two pairs of defense. I'm not going to say the low number upset me - playing half a game is better than playing a third, to be sure -  and the old bones held together pretty well. I was a +3 for the game, on ice for 5 of ours and 2 of theirs - both weird, irritating goals. I will take a +3 any game of the season, believe you me. We just played well as a team, racking up what had to be 40 or so shots. Our better players played down to our level, always looking to pass when they gained the zone, and Chaz made several big saves when it was 3-2 and we were doing a little nail-biting. A couple of timely goals gave us breathing room, and the final of 6-3 was indicative of how the game went. Aside from a few minutes of sustained pressure by them, we carried the play. It was nice, winning again.

Several of our players had great games. I had a game; mistakes, decent plays, etc. I grabbed two shots out of the air for something new and took at least five shots, which was very new. Most were iceburners that were turned aside, although I did get one waist-height that took a nosedive at the end and almost found five-hole. I'll take a win over a Kit goal any day. I'm also okay with both occurring at the same time.

We're 2-2 at the midway point of the season, and given the league breakdown it's reasonable to assume that 4-4 is going to be good enough to make the playoffs (top 4 out of 8). We play a 4-0 team loaded with 'you're in the wrong division, dude' players next week, so expectations are tempered. We play the house team again, and one would hope that we can beat them for a second time. That leaves us with games against the Mutiny and the Rhinos, games that could go either way (but, to be fair, have gone the wrong way in the past). One game at a time, one shift at a time, and try not to wince too much watching me skate after Chaz posts the video. These are my mantras.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Don't Get It - Hockey and stuff

I don't get it.

Allow me to elaborate. Let's say I was a boxer, and a really good one. Not a champion or anything, but quite skilled. Which would be better for me to fight guys at or near my skill level, or to go beat on schlubs who are just starting out and don't have a chance against me? I can only answer for myself, but it seems option one is the better way to go. What am I gaining by picking on overmatched and outclassed opponents? They could possibly learn from me if I was cool about it and made it more of a sparring session with pointers instead of just embarrassing them, but let's say I don't go that way. I just knock them around, humiliate them, and gloat while I do it.

That would make me an asshole, right?

So we had a game last night, against the team made up of our former teammates (less the goalie, who is having knee issues and took the summer season off). I think it's safe to say we've moved beyond bruised feelings over the details of the original split - we've made a new team we like, one that doesn't seem to have a 'That Guy' on it (unless I'm That Guy and nobody will tell me. Our House team had a couple of That Guy guys on it, neither of whom seem to be in the league anymore). Sure, we're not going to threaten the league's consecutive win record, but we always have fun.

Well . . . not so much last night. The team we played had two players that dominated like my boxing example above. They skated end to end, they skated in circles around us, they basically did whatever they wanted on the ice because we couldn't stop them. And I don't get it. If I were that much better than my opponents I think I'd rather rise until I met my level of competition so that I felt challenged, as opposed to just kicking around inferior players. Then again, the jerkweed wearing #13 pumped his fist and yelled 'YEAH!!!' after scoring his fourth goal of the game, one that made the score 7-1. Yes, he crowed in our faces for extending a five goal lead to a six goal lead with 3 minutes left. His partner in douchebaggery was #23, a defenseman of preternaturally smooth skating who hung by our blue line repeatedly during the last two minutes so his teammates could hit him with a breakaway pass and he could score. Our fill-in goalie stuffed his first breakaway, but not his second. He also whooped it up.

Maybe I can't understand being that much of an asshole because I've never been dominant in a sport like these guys were, but I want to believe I would not be such a tool. I'm also curious about what being their teammates is like. We have guys who are great skaters, but when they hit the offensive zone they look to pass because they understand what kind of league it is. These guys pretty much just passed to each other and would circle around in our zone multiple times until they were open enough to shoot, with the thought of their teammates secondary. They have another guy, #34, who is probably one of the better players in the league, but he's not a dillhole about it. Last season he and I had an epic (well, to me anyway) battle in front of our net as we kept trying to muscle one another out of position. It stayed clean, and after the game he came over me and praised me for a battle well-fought. That's a guy who understands playing against those who aren't at his skill level. The others, not so much.

Obviously I didn't have one of my better games, which is why I sound like an old man complaining that there aren't enough clams in my clam chowder and why are they so stingy with the damn oyster crackers! I'm trying to defend against a guy I can't catch up to, turn anywhere near as quickly as, and aren't allowed to hit. The results were predictable, as I was either a -3 or a -4. Some good passes, but mostly getting juked by jerks. I swear, if they were on our schedule again I'd bring up my nephew, who split his freshman year of high school between JV and varsity, and suit him up. At this point all I can do I shrug and look toward assembling a lineup (damn vacations!) to take on a beatable Hoboken squad next Thursday.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moment's Over

(bonus points if you name the movie the title is from)

I guess the best cliche to haul out would be that hockey is a game of inches. It's not a box of chocolates, that's for sure. With about 10 minutes left and our plucky and courageous heroes down 4-2 to the reigning 8W champions Gary picked up a loose puck and headed up on a partial breakaway. The defenseman was on his left, so when Gary crossed the blue line he drew a little to his right, which got the goalie moving to cover the near post. Gary promptly rifled a rising wrist shot back across to the opposite side of the net, beating the goalie cleanly and ringing off the post with a loud and heartbreaking clang. A one goal deficit would have been nice and we carried the play against a tiring home team, but in the end the pucks either didn't bounce our way or were gobbled up by their goalie. And thus our winning streak came to an end at one.

They were the better team, but we weren't dominated. I have to give them credit for playing as a team - everyone took care of their assignments, and in was is odd for an 8W game there were maybe 4 breakaways total. Unfortunately they scored on two of them, including one where I made an ill-advised pinch. Their other goals included one off our defenseman's skate (let it go, Jeff) and one at the end of a way too long shift. Final was 5-2, and it wasn't like they got up 5-0 and then took it easy on us. While they didn't have any superstars, they also didn't have any bad skaters (such as your esteemed author). Still, we had our chances and it was a fun, clean game. Our sub goalie did a pretty good job, and in a 'what' note the first goal was scored by a player he coaches - she's very good and skates like she's turbocharged.

As for me, I had my usual game: some mistakes, some good plays, some pretty awkward moments. I continued my role as puck magnet, including one sequence where I blocked/was inadvertently in the way if four shots on the same shift. Jeff, Ken and I, the rookie defensemen, continue to try to push ourselves by not just freaking out and shooting the puck away as soon as we get near it. Of course that sometimes leads to me trying to stickhandle between two players (poor decision) or clear up the middle by lifting the puck (became a poor decision when the second guy plucked it out of the air with his stick like it was a beach ball instead of a puck), but there were also a few decent passes and puck lugging. I can;t be too upset with a -1 rating for the game, which leaves me at even for the season. Even more encouraging is the improvements I can see in my teammates - for instance, one of our forwards is finding his scoring touch and I think by season's end he's going to be deadly.

It's not entirely unreasonable to think that we could finish in the top half and make the playoffs. It's not a given, either. We'll have to earn it on the ice, inch by inch.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Sweet (and Unusual) Smell of Success

With just under two minutes left in last night's game, the unthinkable happened. The best skater on the other team, armed with steely-eyed determination, managed to circumvent our defense and poke home a rebound goal against us. From our bench rose a collective sigh, even as the foghorn blared (not a real foghorn - we had one of the scorekeepers who was Into It and cranked the horn for goals. He also played music between action. I fully admit to air-guitaring on my hockey stick to Bowling for Soup during a shift change). We had failed, utterly. Alas, our goalie Chaz would not be recording a shutout.

But we won the shit out of the game.

The first minute was misleading - they swarmed all over us and it looked like countless other games from seasons past. Except this time we bent but didn't break, and when they had stayed out too long on their shift one of our guys skated the length of the ice and juked their goalie out of her compression shorts. We tacked on two more before the end of the period and, aside from a few sloppy minutes in the second period, never looked back in a - dare I say? - easy 5 - 1 win.

Now, all the dominoes lined up for us on this one, to be sure. We were playing the new house team and for at least one of the guys it was his first game. We had a talented line-up out there and Chaz was absolutely on his game. And since we were playing with a comfortable lead, it allowed myself and my other two still-sorta-rookie defensemen to take a few more chances - to skate with the puck instead of firing it away immediately, to look for a better pass, to pinch on offense (note: this is not actual squeezing of flesh. Pinching means to attack the puck deeper in the zone than is normally recommended). We had the added bonus of two other good defensemen  out here with us: Ken W, who did a fantastic job coaching us during our practice and is as steady as a rock; and new teammate Lauren, who is such a fluid and graceful skater it's amazing to watch. And so we spent a game trying new things, laughing on the bench, and protecting a lead. Crazy, right?

I ended up +1 for the game with no goals against while I was on the ice, which makes me happy. I still made mistakes - late in the game I misjudged a guy's speed and he beat me around the outside for a bad-angle stuff attempt on Chaz the Brick Wall, and also I positioned myself nicely for a pass before whiffing and falling over at the same time. Also, I FORGOT TO BRING THE BEER. That right there is a hanging offense. But overall I was happy with how I played - at least until Chaz posts the video and I see myself doing my 'Statue on Ice' routine again.

Next week we get the team that won Spring session a couple of weeks ago. They're older, smart, and play well together. Still, right now I can look at the standings and see us on top, with something other than a zero int he win column. People, we went 0-17 as the house team and 0-10 on the inaugural Scurvy Dogs season. That's 0-27. 0-27, and yet every week i can't wait to get to the rink and play. What am I going to be like with a winning record?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Death or Hockey is the name of my Canadian Clash cover band

Okay, a little less sturm and drang around here as I think I've said all I felt like I had to say on the whole OW fiasco and should just move on. Last night, for the first time in the Pathfinder campaign I run I managed to kill a PC. While I don't have to fudge too many rolls with this group, I have in the past once or twice to nerf a death. Why? I like my PCs to be bloody, battered, and knowing they just made it through the battle by the skin of their teeth. It's getting harder to challenge them, which led to this happening.

The wizard in my group is run by a very experienced and savvy player. Is he a bit min/maxxed? Well, yeah. The yin to his yang is his girlfriend's character. She was brand new to gaming so he helped her design it and it addresses every weakness his wizard has - basically her ranger is an engine of destruction that has favored enemies that are the things he can't affect with his conjuration/mind effect spells. At 9th level her damage rolls are routinely in the 30-50 range per strike, and more often than not she's hasted AND equipped with the minor artifact sword that that path provided. So I have to beef up the monsters against them, and last night I rolled two crits from giants who were adding +15 to their damage rolls. I knew she was bloodied, but not in that bad of shape. Usually she comes away nicked up after crushing whatever she's up against in a round or two.

To her credit she took it in stride, which made the couple of fortunate rolls in her favor that got her resurrected seem less of a pandering move. Of course, using something of that power magnitude is going to bring down some unwanted attention . . .

Spring hockey is over and we completed another perfect season - 0-10. We had a great time and really, with  4 rookie defensemen we didn't have lofty expectations. Our last game was against the guys we played with last season, and we lost by a goal. They had a guy way too good for our league, and at one point in the second period he tried to set up in front of my net and we spent a good minute fighting and jockeying for position - it stayed clean, but it was hard-fought. After the game he sought me out and lauded me for that bit. This is why I love hockey.

I also discovered that my shin guards are supposed to be 16" high but the ones I have are only 14", which is my the slapshot I went to my knees to block found unprotected flesh on my thigh and raised a welt that, at its worst, looked like half a softball had been grafted on my leg. It's 5 days later and the bruise is still hard and warm at the center. Yay hockey?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why and What

Hey there, gang. I miss you all already and probably will miss you more as time goes on, but such is life and the odd twists and turns it takes. I'm not writing this to namecall, accuse, or add any more fuel to a fire that's already giving off an acrid, oily, black smoke. But after reading Brian's eerily polished response that made me feel like it had been culled from the template of the official Yale Response to Sexual Harassment Allegations Letter (because at this point the place is pretty well-versed on the topic, it seems), a pair of questions kept popping up in my mind, enough to make last night's sleep not a sleep at all - Why and What?

Let's go with Why first. Those of you who know Laura are aware that large groups are almost always incredibly difficult for her to process. I say 'almost' because of Otherworld, and the particular type of magic you all helped create. It was one of the few well-populated places on the planet where she not only felt comfortable, but warm, safe, and loved as well. What you all were able to do was amazing. Which brings me back to the question: Why?

Why, as Brian has alleged, would Laura throw away one of her most favorite places and groups of people on something that wasn't true? It was a difficult decision whether to be outraged or just to laugh at the suggestion of 'past trauma' being the motivator (we chose the latter). Slut-shaming is so 2013, so I guess that's something new? Nut-Shaming?  Laura has gotten all of the benefits of being a whistleblower - of which there are none - and lost a place, a group of friends, and an organization that she loved with all her heart. That harkens back to our question of Why, since she had no other motivation - because she felt she had to, because of how much love she has for Otherworld and the people who are part of it. She didn't feel it was currently a safe place and took steps to see that it would move in that direction.

Let's shift to What and try to move things along instead of me writing like I'm being paid per word. What was Laura hoping to get out of posting her story, sans the name of the accused? Exactly what has happened - awareness. In April 2013, after six months of soul-searching, Laura steeled herself and met with Kristi to tell her what had happened. Imagine having to have that conversation with a friend you loved - 'Hey, I love OW but your husband has made me so uncomfortable that I'd rather quit than ever see him again.' Would you have that conversation if you weren't sure of what had happened? Would anyone? And how would you feel, twelve months later, when it appeared nothing was being done about it? We began to hear rumors, that a request for an investigation and the suggestion of a recusal was refused. That it 'just needed to go away.' That an email had originally gone out to a chosen few but that for the most part, the staff wasn't aware of what had happened. I feel I need to type that again - most of the staff, which might be you right now reading this, was not deemed 'need to know' about an allegation of sexual harassment within the organization. That's not okay.

So, Laura wrote her blog entry.

This - discussion, awareness, and hopefully a policy put in place where others, should something this awful ever happen again, will feel both safe reporting the transgression and confident it won't get swept under the rug no matter the position of the alleged offender - this is all that could be hoped for at this point. I didn't see what happened, but I know what shape Laura was in a few minutes afterward. For the first forty-five minutes of our ride home our usual chattering about the event had been replaced by her silence and obviously distressed state. Whens he finally told me what had happened it was probably a good thing we were so far away, or else I might have done Stupid Things. I'm glad it didn't go that way. At this point, though, that's not the issue. There's no legal moves planned or calls to the media - hell, Laura didn't even name him in her post - yet it seems most people knew whom she was talking about anyway. We've come to discover that Laura is not the only person Brian has said inappropriate things to in the past. Those who have confided asked for anonymity for varying reasons, all of which I will respect and honor. I suppose it's possible Brian isn't even aware that he says and does things he shouldn't -perhaps a sexual harassment awareness class Might help with that. I understand that it's something most people don't want to believe, and if the charge had been leveled by someone else I might be looking at it with a different perspective myself. Or maybe if someone else had been accused it wouldn't have been shunted into the corner. I'm not interested in forcing people to make choices. All I want is for them to be aware and for the possibility of Otherworld taking steps to ensure something like this never happens again.

It flat out kills me to no longer be part of Otherworld, although I noted with wry humor that I was still on the list of invitees. This resolution doesn't seem safe, fair, or cool to me, but Otherworld is bigger than the Yonas and will continue on without us. I will always treasure the memories I had in my time there, and the wonderful people I've met. Maybe we'll still be friends. Maybe you'll find it too awkward to want to hang with me, or bear resentment that my wife (yes, Laura and I have long reconciled. We tried to be quiet about our situation while apart so as not to make others uncomfortable) would accuse someone like Brian. I hope not. We're ready to move on, hopeful that Laura's willingness to share a difficult experience will make OW a safer place. Hopefully OW will be able to do the right thing and thrive as well. In any case, I will miss you all.


EDIT: It has just come to my attention that the email Brian sent out didn't go to everyone on staff. Once again, people are being cut out of the loop on a sexual harassment issue. I'm stunned and dismayed.

comments welcome. I do not delete, so feel free to speak your mind and know it'll stay up. Or just write TL;DR

Friday, June 6, 2014

Been Away So Long I Hardly Knew the Place

Yep. been super-busy prepping games for a house con and with life, work, kids, hockey, wife, etc. I'll get back to this soon. Hockey is still fun - we're terrible but it;s a blast. Editing is cruising along - 1/3 done, I think. I had to take this week off to prep games but I'll dive back in next week. Updates that are more interesting (or at least try to be) soon.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Walking Wounded

Right now my right knee is bruised and swollen, there's a spot just below my ribcage that I can't even touch, and the lacebite on my left foot makes me wince with every step I take.

Dammit, I LOVE playing hockey.

Seriously. I had an absolutely blast in our game last night. It was the big 'grudge match,' so to speak, except that I still like most of the guys on the team. We had two new subs show up, a pair of brothers that have been friends with Jeff forever, and they were fantastic. As a team we shook off 14-1 and 8-0 losses and made a tam that was 2-0 work for a 6-3 win. They had a 5-1 lead but we chipped away, getting it to 5-3 before ringing one off the post and having another instance where a rebound just sat in the crease for a good three seconds. So, so close.

In the second period, when we were defending the goal closest to the other team's bench, I heard Tom yelling for his players to dump the puck deep on me. Clearly this was a strategy, as I was perceived as a weakness. How did that work out for them? Well, let's see. For the game I could be cheap and say I was even, but it's technically accurate to give myself a -1. I was on for the first goal of the game, when I managed to keep one of their really good skaters to the outside like I'm supposed to, but he kept going around the net and beat Charlie with a wraparound. The second goal occurred as I had just stepped out on the ice after serving a roughing minor - deserved - and technically I gotta take the rap for that. I was credited with an assist - my first point - on our second goal, which maybe involved me making a 10 foot pass to one of the Lifriere brothers before he skated through the other entire team for a goal. So, -1. I had a slew of blocks, as my injuries indicate, and I just had a great time. Jeff and Ken did well as well, although Jeff is no doubt beating himself up for getting his pocket picked for a goal - it happens to all of us. Especially me. After the game our former goalie Alex - who had a great game and was probably the difference, not that Charlie played badly - said he thought we outplayed his team. I wouldn't go that far, but I'd say it was an evenly matched game with a few of the bounces going their way. Our forwards are starting to get comfortable with one another and we had sustained pressure in their zones numerous times.  All in all it was very encouraging and I hope we can keep improving, although we have another good team waiting for us next week. We need our practice to get some forechecking schemes set, working on faceoffs, etc. And I need to not catch slapshots with my ribs.

Ah, who am I kidding? I love blocking pucks and diving to break up plays. No talent, all heart. Although that might be bruised as well.

Writing: edit edit edit. 10 chapters down, 1 eliminated, about 32 to go.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Slash! Hack! Gut! Gore!

Almost 25% through an edit of the book. I just mooshed two chapters into one and cut close to 3K words, which I know is a good thing but it killed me to nuke some of the dialogue. I'm sure later I'd realize it was as self-indulgent as the stuff I cut from the guys playing poker, but I remember how long it took me to settle on six pickup lines to be used (there was a contest. The protagonist and his GF had Met Cute in a bar and taken part in a pick-up line contest that had sprung up. The world will not suffer for it being edited). Such is life. I'm being quite the brutal editor on myself as I wait for authors to work on the comments I gave them on their book so we can move that project along. They haven't looked at it in over a month and I'm wondering if it's professional to give them a nudge or not. Ah, we're working at their schedule.

Hockey game against our former teammates this Sunday. Sheq's MS is flaring up - can we postpone the game until he feels well enough to play? Probably not. Rats.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Embracing the Suck

I'm not sure what to make of our new hockey team. We got smoked again last night, although it was a much better team effort and except for a lamentable 5 minute span in the second period in which Things Fell Apart, it wasn't totally horrible. The question is, are we a bunch of players who just need to shake off rust and get used to one another or are we at our maximum talent level already?

I'm leaning toward the former. i mean, it makes sense. We have guys who were on skates for the second time in 20+ years, and it's unreasonable to expect their timing to be back already. On defense I am the most experienced player we have, which speaks volumes about the growing pains we're experiencing. I did sorta okay in a defensive outlook last night - in an 8-0 loss I was only a -2, with one goal being a weird deflection off a blocked pass and the other being me able to dive and hit the puck on a  breakaway but not hard enough to get it away from him - but my offensive attempts aren't so great. I stink at keeping the puck in. Practice will help, but meanwhile we'll keep absorbing bad losses. It's still fun and I still enjoy every shift. There's a rumor my wife took pictures and so there will be evidence of my fashion transgressions. I throw myself on the mercy of the court. Or rink. Whatever.

writing: 6 chapters edited, lots and lots to go. Plod plod plod.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Uhm, yeah. So, chugging along on the novel edit. Should finish Chapter 6 tomorrow, and I figure that somewhere in the 20s I'll hit more recent writing and be able to move more quickly. Started a short story as well for a market I found - I like the premise and the scene, but I have to give it an ending because that seems to be the thing these days, stories with endings. Foo.  Still waiting on my authors to go through my edits so I can re-edit, but that'll happen at some point. I need to set up a fancy-pants official 'Kit Yona is a Goddamn Editor' website to see if I can draw in some more work. I just need some more of that, uhm, spare time stuff.

New hockey season, new team, same ugly results. This time the house team was given a bunch of really good players, and a few of them skated roughshod all over us as we tried to find our way having not practiced together yet. Defense is an issue - we need a solid four, and the best skater we had with us belongs at forward, but we'll figure it out. I managed to sew up the arms on the gorilla-length sleeves of my sweater - we not have played well, but we looked good (except for me with my black sweater, bright blue pants and iridescent purple socks I AM A HOCKEY FASHION MAVEN

writing: I'm writing, I'm writing. Female protagonist and all!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What is a Writer Who Does Not Write?

Howdy, gang. Been a little busy lately and ignoring this blog. I've been doing a lot of editing lately: I've finished a first pass through a book I was hired to edit and am waiting on the authors to resolve comments/suggestions/clucking before I make another pass through; I took a few hours to go over a friend's story that's anthology-bound. He agreed with about 75% of my recommendations - and there were a lot - which I think is a pretty good ratio; and I'm digging into a first edit on my revised novel. That's going slow as I'm working with stuff I wrote three or four years ago, as opposed to the more recent chapters which seem much, much better written. Heh.

But what I'm not doing much is writing, and for me that like exercising - the more I do, the easier it is. So I need to start carving out some time for that. I have a novella or novelette or whatever the hell 10,500 words is that I love but damn it's difficult to find a home for something that big. So I need to balance finishing my novel while being ready to do more editing on a hired job while also working a demanding full time job and keeping a wife happy while raising two kids while co-running a hockey team while GMing a weekly Pathfinder game while whining and complaining on this blog. Yeesh.

Scurvy Dogs hit the ice Sunday. Number of practices: zero, although that's the league's fault. Number of regular goalies there: zero, but he's gotten us a sub. Number of people besides myself happy with playing defense: zero, but some people are willing to give it a try. I have no idea what we'll be like. Between the five of us coming from the Raiders we have 1 goal and 1 assist. The majority of our new pickups are guys who haven't played since high school, although we also have one guy who has a backyard rink and another who coaches. In this division you really only need two or three good players and have the rest of the team play cohesively to win, or so I've observed. In any case, once more into the breech, my friends.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Perfect Season - Old Man Learns Hockey: Game #17

Yeah, yeah, I'm late. Like you care. We headed into our first round playoff game with a slice of optimism. We got carved up in the final week of the season by a  team sporting two guys that should have been at least Division 6 or higher, who took advantage of someone giving D a try and getting lit up to the tune of -6. We'd played a great game against the team we were scheduled against a few weeks earlier, losing 3-1. Even missing one of our best all-around players we figured we had a shot.

We hadn't counted on the ringers.

I know, it sounds like sour grapes. But I knew we were doomed in warm-ups as I watched these two skate around and unload bombs from the blue line. This was confirmed after the game - although the way they stated circles around us was proof enough of their ringer-dom - when I happened to be walking out behind them and heard this conversation:

Ringer 1: Hey, did you hear about the email the league sent about the top teams being kicked up a division or two?
Ringer 2: Well, some of those teams have guys that shouldn't be playing in this division.
Ringer 1: (long pause) Like us. ::sees me, laughs sheepishly::

So, yeah. I had a lousy game - made mistakes, got my pocket picked for a goal, and so on - but still managed to be a -3 in a game we lost by 8. We finished out perfect season - 0-17 - and now we move on to the Scurvy Dogs. No idea how we're going to be. We have a solid goalie in Charlie and five of us making the trip over from the Raiders: Jeff, Sheq, Chris D, Steph, and myself.  All of us have improved over the course of the season. Our new guys are an unknown quantity - some who played in high school but not since; a couple of pond hockey players; and so on. We'll have our growing pains, like any expansion team does, but hopefully we'll be competitive. At the very least we'll have snazzy jerseys.

writing: 4 chapters rewritten/edited on my stupid book. It's been 4 years since I've seen these chapters and ye gods I've gotten better at writing. Or at least and deceiving myself to believe so. But these are rough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get Over Myself

Just reworked a chapter which was nothing more than a barely veiled rant about my Practice Wife. Had no reason to be in a faction novel other than to be self-serving and to take shots at her. I must have been in a deep, dark place when i first wrote that. Sliced it from 1589 words to 617 and made it much more equitable and readable. Also less mortifying. Couldn't have been more 'poor me,look at what I went through.' 


Monday, March 10, 2014

About Time

Started the first edit of my bloated novel's first draft. Well, second draft. And since I'm going over it again it's like a third draft. Whatever. I've taken the first step.

Hockey News: We can haz team. After being tossed aside like moldy old socks Sheq, Jeff, and I decided it was better to put together a team of our own than to go back in the free agent pool again. Also, it was better than whining. At this point we've got at least 12 skaters and a goalie, so we're a team. We're using the jerseys of some team called the Ice Pirates but after numerous jokes we decided to go with Scurvy Dogs instead, which is quite the unintentional homage to my wife. We have a playoff game Wednesday night and while a win is unlikely, it's not impossible - 2 weeks ago this team beat us 3-1. Sunday morning  clinics have been helping me skate better and showing me how far I have to go to be a good player (hint: it's a loooooooooooong way). Took the Boy skating Saturday and he's getting more confident. He was done after a half-hour but I think he might do a little soloing soon.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dead Man Skating - Old man Learns Hockey Games #15 and #16

You may have noticed I didn't post an entry last week (and if you did, what the hell is wrong with you?). We did have a game, and it was probably the best we've played all season, but the day after it a few of us found out that the plan we'd had to move about 2/3rds of the team forward for next season was now the plan to move about half of the team forward for next season. It was explained as a numbers thing - the couple of friends they were going to join with became a couple of more, and they wanted the roster kept at 14, etc . That's not the vexing part - well, okay, it always stings a little to be the kid on the way nobody wants for kickball, but I've been playing for a handful of months and I can dig that. The irritating part is that we weren't told that this change had occurred and the only reason we found out, with under a month until rosters are due for next season, is because Sheq asked to see if we wanted to get jerseys ordered. It's one thing to get tossed on the trash heap, but it's another to have to call the garbage truck in a rush to haul you away as well.

So I was grouchy going into last week's game, determined to just sit quietly on the bench and play my role. Of course I couldn't do that, because I get too into the game and I can't stop myself from being a team player. I may grouse about blown assignments or too-long shifts but this is a likeable crew and I want to see us do well. It also helped that I was paired with a good defensive partner. Against Behind Bahrs, the team we'll face in the play-in game for the playoffs next week, we gave up an early goal when a clearing pass behind the net got picked off and stuffed in. That was the last goal Duffy and I would be on the ice for that wasn't one of ours. They got one off a screened point shot off a faceoff before we answered to draw back within 1. It was a faceoff in their zone, left circle, and the draw went to Sheq at left wing. I was all alone behind him at the point and would have loved the opportunity to flub the shot (which I had done in a particularly hysterical sequence that had Alex congratulating me for almost sticking the triple axel as I floundered about), so I started to yell in protest as he flicked it toward the net. It wasn't a shot, though - it was a pass. A goddamn perfect pass, a tape-to-tape pass - no, it was a hockey pass, and was easily dunked in for a goal. It was glorious and gorgeous. And we were in a game.

It stayed that way until the 3rd, where one of our D got caught too deep on a pinch and they slammed home the breakaway for the final score of 3-1. Still, we hung with these guys. I made my usual mistakes - not going to talk about the flubbed slapshot again - and I somehow became a puck magnet. I mean, I lost track of how many shots I blocked - 10? 15? I have no idea. My new pants came through, though. No new bruises and a sense of progress. Hell, I finished at Even for the game. That's some crazy shit right there.

This week's game was against a team with two 'way-too-good-to-be-in-this-division' players and we did our best to hold them down. I was paired with Duffy again and at one point we were +2. PLUS TWO. Imagine the madness. We'd gotten two quick-strike goals in about 20 second - the second was a laser-beam top-corner wrister from a guy who just came back from climbing a mountain in South America. You could see the little dude who leads the league in scoring chomping at the bit, and soon after he skated through everyone and made it 5-2. I ended up at a -1, which isn't horrible for a 9-2 final. We had another weird deflection goal to start the third, then I dove to stop a breakaway but as I lay tangled with the dude one of his teammates swooped in and put it home. The last goal was just a superior player blowing past both Tom and I with a full head of steam and finishing it off with a nice move. Sometimes you can't stop talent. I made my mistakes - at one point I read a hard-around and darted (okay, skated by at a pace faster than a crawl) by the defenseman who was waiting for it. There was nobody near me and I could have driven right for the net - but I missed the puck. Gah. Later I managed to get a wrister on net and thought I was getting an assist as one of our guys had a wide-open shot on the rebound, but he took too long and the goalie got over in time to stuff him. I was a little slow keeping up with their cutting, and Alex had to yell at me once for screening him, but it's all baby steps forward. After holding the Rebels to 4 and BB to 3 it didn't feel great to give up 9 to these guys, but that's what happened. No Sheq either, as he was home with the kids. Jeff showed up and continues to improve, even if he doesn't know it. So we're working on cobbling together another team, and we're close - wanna play? Let me know.

Writing: still editing other people's stuff, which gobbles up any and all free time. Getting close to finishing the first edit, which was son simple task - they're in the 90-100K range here. Good stuff, though. Very interesting. It'll be interesting to see what they think of the heavy, heavy editing I did.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Hockey Equivalent of '70s Disco Hot Pants - Old Man Learns Hockey - Game #14

So there was a hockey game last night, and I'll get to that in good time. Jeff, Sheq and I hit the clinic in the morning because once you're over age 40 you really should make sure to schedule two strenuous activities in the same day. We were waiting for the Zamboni to finish up when one of the other guys, who had called my Not-Flight-to-Denver story the worst story ever (it kinda is, from a 'why the hell didn't I do that' standpoint), asked me why I was wearing goalie pants.

Now my hockey pants are hand-me-downs from my brother-in-law and they has always seems normal to me. Looking around, I noticed for the first time that everyone else's pants were streamlined and didn't look like a giant black diaper. We quickly determined that A) they weren't goalie pants at all but just really old, bulky pants, and B) they were short. Like, really short. Hockey equipment works like a big puzzle, with parts of one piece covering gaps left by another. I had a noticeable gap between the lowest pad on the pants and the top of my shinguards, but even with all the pucks I've blocked it hadn't been an issue. I laughed ruefully at my mawashi (look it up) and made a comment about how unlikely it would be for me to be hit in that small a space.

So, are you aware of my superpower? I feel that if I ever go Evil Villain it'll make me quite terrible, but for now I seem content using it to submarine myself. We call it 'Kitastrophying' and basically if I comment on something that's going well, it'll cease to do so. Hey, we haven't hit any traffic today. Boom. Bumper to bumper within minutes. Wow, doing this plumbing job has been easy so far! Boom. 2 inches of water on the bathroom floor. I do my best to use it for good, and woo boy you should see the glare I get when I accidentally Kitastrophe Laura.

So, superpower. I have worn the same hockey gear, including my short-shorts, through 14 full games and at least as many hour long clinics. I have blocked more shots than I can count and not once did I take a puck in the exposed area on my thigh.

Until last night. With great power comes great responsibility. Also, evidently, the ability to guide a hockey puck into unprotected flesh. There's a lump right now, with expectations of a truly spectacular bruise. I have ordered pants so that I can retire my relics and only be mocked for my lousy play. Speaking of which . . .

It was a scary match up on paper. The Rebels are tied for first and averaging a little over 6 goals a game, and the first time we played they beat us 7-1 and that was after they let up after punching in 5 goals in the first. We had a good number of players - 13 - and I was happy to volunteer to be one of the four defensemen. I'm not going to lie - I enjoy playing half the game as opposed to a third, and right now my body seems content to give me the energy to try to mask my lack of ability with extreme effort. And so I flung myself all over the ice, using diving as a way to try to counteract the other team skating circles around me. It was belly flop central but it worked to some degree, i think. It was a 1-0 after one, with the goal coming off a blown assignment and a deflection on an overlong shift. We just couldn't get off the ice. They got another goal in the second when their guy came out of the corner and roofed a shot - damn nice. In the third they added one off a scramble in front of the net and the last goal on a blistering wrist shot from the dot that got through Alex's five hole. And that was it. We took a team tied for first and only lost 4-0. Believe me, they didn't let up. Also believe me, while our team defense continues to improve much of the closeness of the game is because Alex is quite an excellent goalie. I can only imagine the offers he's getting from other teams trying to poach him. Let me put it this way - at one point, after a crazy ass clusterfuck in front of the net that saw Alex out of position and my defensive partner sprawled on the goalline with the puck under him, the other team was awarded a penalty shot. I dd not doubt, for a second, that Alex was going to stop him cold. Which he did. Not only is he good at his position, he's got great advice. I just try to keep learning. I handled some of the odd man rushes well, some not so well, and made some mistakes as usual. At least one bad clearing attempt, a missed pass, running into my teammate, that sort of stuff. No penalties, although I did some hooking and waged a constant war to shove their cadre of 225+ pound forwards out of the crease. As a whole we made strides - much better overall defensive play, although still some missed assignments. More confidence with the puck. Shifts are still too long in some cases, and at least one guy still doesn't seem to grasp how offsides works. We need to find the open players with passes more often, get the puck back to the point, develop an organized forecheck . . . the same problems every other team has. We're getting there, although the clock is ticking on the season. Two more games left before our playoff game, with a preview of whom we're playing coming this week. The goals will come in time as we sharpen up the other aspects of our game. I only wish we were playing a 60 game season instead of a 16 game one.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Following in the Footsteps of Nick Fotiu - Old Man Learns Hockey - Game #13

I hit the clinic Sunday morning - the HOCKEY clinic - and spent every chance I could either playing defense or honing my backward skating skills. The drills we did lent to that, and even before our game I had extra ice time to practice my forward to back spin, clearing the puck, and all sorts of important defenseman things.

Then I was told I was playing forward.

Which was fine, really. I don't care where I play and as we had a short bench - seven forwards, four defensemen - there was still plenty of ice time. We were playing a not-great team, carried by two excellent skaters and a couple of decent ones. I stepped on the ice for the first time just as they converted a two-on-one for a goal. Wonderful. Later in the period their big gun sped in and scored on a breakway, but that was it. In the second we had a few defensive breakdowns, and their 3rd and 4th goals came off rebound scrambles in front of our net. It felt weird to be sticking up by the blue line instead of shoving people away, but the defenseman was the aforementioned big gun and I wasn't leaving him alone. They punched another one in before the horn, but there was a lot more give and take - we were getting some chances and offensive pressure. In the third period, for whatever reason, we started to have more success. I was out there for a minute-long shift that was entirely in their zone - we stopped clearing attempts a few times, which was a nice reversal. I had not one but two shots on goal - a one-timer that he stonedwalled me on, and then the rebound that I lifted with a backhand hit the bottom of his glove, the top of his pad . . . and fell out. Rats.

I also tore the feet out from under someone and had the good graces not to even try to protest when the ref blew the play dead and sent me off. My first trip to the sin bin! Well, first to a hockey sin bin. I'm acquainted with the rugby version as well. Anyway, I now have an official stat.We killed off the penalty and a few minutes later, after more pressure, punched in a goal. Of course that annoyed the other team so their superstar skated through everyone and, although Charlie stopped the first shot, one of his teammates put back the rebound. 6-1 final. Not too bad.

As for me, I was my usual menagerie of hustle, mistakes, and so on. I wiped out and took out the net, I dug the puck off the boards and made a perfect, perfect cross-ice pass that should have been a one-timer but was muffed, and I yelled at one of my teammates for lining up for a faceoff after taking a two minute shift. Don't tell me you're 'okay.' The pros only take 45 second shifts, plus you're being a selfish tool to your teammates. If I have to be That Guy, I'll be That Guy.  Otherwise, playing forward is fun and even if I was making a goal-causing mistake, it's not as obvious as when I bone it as a defenseman. The season is winding down - only four games left, unless we win our first playoff game. Stranger things could happen.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nobody Saw That, Right? Old Man Learns Hockey - Game #12

For the first 30 seconds, it was amazing. It was Lake Placid 1980 all over again. We took the opening faceoff, drove down the ice, and forced their goalie to make a good save before smothering the puck. Offensive pressure! Putting another team back on their heels! Old Time Hockey! Eddie Shore!

30 seconds later we were down 1-0.

Before I get into the details of our latest outing I should report that this game featured the stupidest play of my short hockey career. Not the most comically hysterical to watch, nor the most embarrassed by the skill of another player - those are separate categories. This was just pure boneheadedness. Playing right D, I outowrked one of their guys for a puck along the board near the circle in our zone. He was still between me and the blue line, so instead of doing almost anything else that would have been better, including curling into a ball on the ice and hugging the puck until it hatched into a bunch of little baby pucks, I did the dumbest - I made a blind backhand pass to the center of our zone, trusting that my defensive partner was there.

He was not. A guy from the other team was, though, and he blew a slapshot through poor Charlie from about 20 feet away. Ugh.

The final was 9-0, but I find it difficult to hang too much of this on us. The Titans are in 2nd place but to me seemed better than the team we played last week and thus vastly superior than us. They had several guys who were superlative skaters and would weave their way through our zone while we closed ranks and did what we could. I'm not happy with my outing at D, but then again I faced more 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 breaks than I can remember against guys who were literally skating circles around me. It helped that Goalie Alex (who will be just Alex today as Winger Alex was a no show. Jeff was out as well, exhausted from being in California to be presented with an award stating he's the best salesman since Ron Popeil. Trevor was out too, and we missed his steady presence as well) insisted we get a goalie to split games with and was there for advice the latter 20 minutes or so. It's good to know whether or not I did the right thing, regardless of the outcome. To wit:
- racing back on a 2 on zero break, I cut off the pass instead of making a late dive that might or might not have gotten me there in time. Ruling - RIGHT THING even though the guy roofed the puck for a goal
- going for the big rebound on another 2 on 1 after denying the pass - RIGHT THING but be a better player because I just missed it and the guy fromt he other team rammed it home (it was a BIG rebound)
- make a blind pass behind your back in your own zone WRONG THING STUPID
- try to lift one of their sticks and accidentally bury mine in the guy's groin, sending him to the ice in a heap RULES WRONG, BUT KINDA OKAY BECAUSE FUCK YOU FOR BEING IN THIS DIVISION, GUYS

And so it went. They were way too good to be in this division. We'd catch them deep and be on a 2 or 3 on 1 and by the time we got to their blue line they had 2 or 3 guys back, usually all over the puckcarrier.  Our goalies (we brought back Charlie) did a fantastic job, and I don't think we took much of a step back, if any. As we had only 4 defense I played about half the game, and combined with a  morning clinic I expected to be much more worn than I was. Whether it was a comment on my play or not one of the guys shifted to D for the last 5 minutes and I took a shift at left wing, which was fun and found me in the curious position of having dug the puck out of the corner in the offensive zone and . . . having everyone just kind of look at me. I think I checked for options for a good 5 seconds before trying to hit a cutting Tom (one of their D just deflected the pass) and maybe I should have tried to skate out and shoot, of toss it back to the point - it's kind of lost in the fog of memory. My teammates are amazingly patient with me as a defenseman, because it's got to be frustrating to see me make so many mistakes.

When the game was over a few of their guys were skating by and one of them said, 'Those guys never gave up, man. They kept going to the end.'

Fucking right we did, chief.

Final note: It might be nothing. It may have been a fluke.  But, armed with confidence from a  backwards crossover step last week and a fancy new edge on my blades, I hit the circle after the morning clinic but before the ice was flooded with 5 year olds who all skate better than me and dammit, I did a front crossover step. More than once. they weren't pretty but they were there. Before the other teams hit the ice for the game after us I did it again. Baby steps. Baby crossover steps, anyway.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kit Go Boom - Old Man learns Hockey - Game #11

It was one of those moments that serves as a pivotal point in a rookie's career, one he'll remember forever. About 2/3s of the way through the first period against the #1 team in the league, we found ourselves locked at 0-0 and actually doing more than just playing prevent defense. I'd managed to grab some extra ice time before the game and worked almost exclusively on my backwards skating. To the amazement of both myself and Jeff, who was in the area, I managed to pull off a backwards crossover step without wiping out, and I felt good about the way things were going. It's sad, then, that I somehow lose that confidence once the game plays and freak out when the puckcarrier comes at me with speed. I'll get there, but damn it's frustrating right now.

Anyway, we were pressuring (!) and my defensive partner got caught in a pinch. Their defenseman made a nice cross ice pass to spring one of their wingers. I saw it starting to break and tore out of the zone in my lotta-motion-little-speed style and managed to get back just ahead of the puckcarrier. He'd been joined by a teammate to make it a clear 2 on 1. As I skated back and hit the blue line I started turning from front to back, a couple of strides ahead of the puckhandler. He was on my right side and between me and the boards, and as I spun I noted he was a lefty. That meant he was basically in shooting position and that i had to try to keep him wide. My main job was to cut off the passing lane and force him into shooting from as bad an angle as possible - the rest was up to Alex. I knew what I had to do and I was in good position to actually pull it off.

Unfortunately, I fell on my ass right after I finished turning around.

I could be a douche and say it was because my blades needed sharpening or some other excuse, but I have no idea why I fell. Did I catch an edge? Lean too far back? Hit a furrow? Who knows? Who cares? All that matters is that I went down in a heap and the guy scored. 1-0, them. My fault. I wanted to dig a hole in the ice and crawl in, but since that wasn't possible I just figured I'd get a chance to make good later. That would happen, right?

Well . . .

In the second a shot from near the point deflected off my skate, off another skate, and binged in off the post. I probably shouldn't blame myself for that but I was between the goalie and the shooter and if I'm going to be screening Alex I damn well better block the puck. The last goal I was on ice for - all three scored by the same guy, by the way - was shorthanded as he absolutely blew by me along the boards before scoring off a scramble a little while later(Bart the clinic coach was there and said I never had a chance, and neither would most people in that situation, but I'm assuming he was just being nice). It's so frustrating to not be able to do what would have stopped him cold and slam him into the boards with a hip check, but at this level speed kills. The final was 6-1 but we played these guys tough before they chipped in two late goals. Aside from the three mistakes I listed, the rest of my game was meh as well. I wasn't particularly physical, I made some good passes but also failed to clear more than once, and I just felt a stride off the entire game. As a team, though, we were vastly improved. The other team mentioned that their best player wasn't there (the guy with 13 goals and 15 points isn't the best player?) but in any case they knew we were out there. It wasn't an evenly matched war but we had numerous scoring attempts and looked more like a team as opposed to a bunch of puppies who wandered out on the ice. Jeff flat-out saved a goal when he lifted the stick of a guy who was going to have a gimmie goal off a gorgeous pass. Alex was pretty much incredible - after one save the ref hummed the theme from 'Sportscenter.' We started winning a few faceoffs as well - not the majority, but it's a start. Shifts were kept shorter for the most part (it's always a little tougher in the second period, when it's a longer distance to the bench for a change from the defensive zone), although one too-long time resulted in a goal against. We need to score more goals, but that will come with playing time. If we had played against a lower echelon team it might have had a very different outcome.

Assuming I could keep from falling on my ass again, of course. I do not salute the patience of my teammates enough. This week we have another top 2 team to contend with and it'll be interesting to see how things shake out. I'll have a new set of edges on my crappy skates and a morning clinic session under my belt. Hope either one helps.

Also, no word from Goalie Bob. That's an odd way to go out.

Writing: Nope. Editing mode all week on someone else's book. thinking about starting my edit next week, perhaps.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It Might Have Been Something I Said

So I was digging through my hockey team's Teamsnap site yesterday when I realized someone had chosen a passive-aggressive way to quit. In the section for availability he'd changed his name to 'BYE" and red-exed the rest of the. It took a minute of eliminating names to realize it was Bob, the older goalie. When I mentioned it to Sheq his response was, "Did he read your blog?"

That seems unlikely, although it is possible. Was a harsh? A little, but I was harsher on myself later on in the same post as well. He'd mentioned quitting before - after the first few games he was lamenting his performance and asked me if he thought the others would accept him as a coach instead (I said yes) - but once Alex got hurt he had no choice. If it was because of my post I sorry that it made him choose that path, but I'm not going to kill myself over a little bit of criticism, especially when I didn't spare myself. He freaked a few people out when we played his old team by wishing ovarian cancer on one woman and yelling at me and the other defensemen to try to hurt their best player. To be fair, the latter had no right to be in a developmental league, but I don't want to injure anyone, especially not a kid who was about 5'5" and 1 hundred and nothing pounds.

 I don't know Bob's reasons for leaving, but he's an adult and it was his choice. I only wish he'd let us know why.

Writing: none. Been all editing, all the time. Not my stuff. A few more chapters of the book I;m editing for others came free, and I'm elbow deep. LITERARY CARNAGE!!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Burn, Baby, Burn - Old Man Learns Hockey - Game 10

"Man's got to know his limitations." - 'Dirty' Harry Callahan

I have a weird relationship with competition. When I do things against other people I'm always trying to win, but I rarely get upset with the process if I lose. No matter what, it's only a game. However, if I lose because of a failing of my own I tend to get annoyed and irked with myself, which starts the self-flagellation and blows to my self-esteem. I am indeed my own worst critic and I'm damn hard on myself, even when I shouldn't be. Take hockey as an example. I've been playing for around 4 months. In that time I've attended 7 1 hour clinic classes, had one half-assed practice, and played in 10 games. That's a total of 17 hours of ice time. Yet I'm furious with myself for my play in the third period of our game last night, even though most of my failings came at the hands (or skates) of people who have been playing for years - no, decades - at a game in which the only way to get better is to play. And yet, here I am. forgetting the good things and focusing on the negative ones. It's an illness, I tell ya.

The day started with the perhaps foolhardy decision to attend a clinic Sunday morning at 8am. I wouldn't go so far as to call it grueling, but it was a good workout and focused on the things I need to become a better player - I was going to list a few things here but shit, I need to get better at everything. By the time 7pm rolled around I still felt okay and was anxious to play. The team we were playing was the Mutiny, the one I was supposed to sign on with when my friend Dave clued me in to the whole hockey thing. I'd passed because they couldn't absorb Sheq and Jeff as well, but I was (and am) appreciative to Dave for getting me involved. I was looking forward to playing him (and his teammate Berk, who I played rugby with for years. Small world and all that shit) but not in a 'gotta beat him' sense. It just sounded like fun to go against an opponent who wasn't faceless. And as a team, we seemed psyched after a three week layoff. Good Goalie Alex (just Alex from now on) was back with a serviceable knee, and we charged into the game with the energy of a team hungry for a win.

2:40 in, we were down 3-0.

Okay, it's not cool to point fingers at anyone but Old Goalie Bob (henceforth known as OGB) took about 3 shots before the game and declared his warm-ups complete. When play started the first shot he let in was questionable; the second was alarming; and the third, which I was out there for, was the softest of the b unch. A unscreened, floating  wrister from the top of the circles. That's gotta be stopped. A three-zip hole was not the way we needed to start. And to our credit, we buckled down. OGB didn't give up anything else for the rest of the period and we started to shake off the rust. In the second period we gave up only one goal (an absolutely beautiful 2 on 1 that Alex didn't have a chance on) and played better, although we were aided by at least two that they rang off the posts. My game was up and down. The Mutiny like to flood the crease, so I was kept busy pushing people back out whenever I could. That led to an unfortunate bit with poor Dave - he had backed into the crease and so I headed over to push him away, but at the wrong time I stumbled as he moved back a little more, so instead of a push I ended up sending him sprawling with a healthy shove. I play physically with an edge but I'm not trying to be dirty, so I felt bad about it. Of course he got revenge when he potted a nice pass in the third for his first goal, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I continued to have my usual problems getting the puck out of the defensive zone - it always seemed like I'd get control and be looking at a wall of gray sweaters. I've been reading up on our clearing problems and learned that we should have the wingers breaking out as soon as we gain control, which would make the defensemen for the other team have to go with them and thus not be there to block clearing attempts up the boards. Not ALL of my clearing attempts got picked off - some were okay, and once I even skated up before passing and hit one of our wingers at the opposite blue line - but enough so that I was annoyed. I keep forgetting to elevate the puck. Frustrating.

The horror show started in the third. I had a inkling of what might be in store when #19 (I think) undressed me with a move in the 2nd period but Alex stopped him. In the 3rd he got the puck with a full head of steam at the red line. I was just inside my own blue line and I knew, without a doubt, that I was dead.  Forwards or backwards, I wasn't going to be able to keep up with him, and the only option I had of checking him into the boards would have gotten me a penalty. Not that that would have stopped me, but he was by me too quickly for me to even try. That was after I failed to clear a puck and they knocked it around for a while before scoring, so that was a lovely -2 on that shift for me. Awesome. Also something let go in the back of my leg - not completely, but enough of a hello to make me nervous. That had nothing to do with me getting torched. That was just not being good enough.

After the game Alex and I were the only two left in the locker room and I was trying to draw out his thoughts on what he'd seen. The dude played Division 1 in college and he sees a lot, but he's reluctant to speak out for fear of ruffling feathers. He confirmed what I had been thinking about the forwards, saying I had no passing lanes the way things were. We also agreed that for some strange reason, our defensive partners don't pass cross ice to one another enough, Or at all, really.  Shifts are still too long, of course, although the forwards seemed a little better. Defense have been pretty good about getting off when we should, although one guy lingers. I want to say he's getting better about it. perhaps he is.

I understand that I'm learning a difficult position by fire and should not beat myself up quite so much, but it's more of the same - I know where to be but can't get it done. Jeff echoed the same sentiment but that doesn't make it any less like talking the gorgeous blond into coming home with you and then having a personal power failure. Meanwhile I try to keep things in perspective. My mind may be grumbling, but my body, after a double session of hockey, is, uhm, well, that's grumbling as well. Still a little tug on the bottom of the back of my right quad. I'm sure I'll be better by next week and the next opportunity to not suck. Or so I hope.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

That Was Probably the Easy Part

44 chapters, 171152 words. First draft of Dancing With the Boneyard Gods is done. Well, version 1.5, to be honest, as I wrote a much different and much more bloated version (229K!) about 15 years ago. I'm interested to see how much I carve away during the first edit, as I seem to be a fixer more than a remover in those matters, but 171k is a tough sell for a first book. I'm going to spend tomorrow and Saturday working on short stories during my 5am writing time (or maybe just screwing off and playing games, who knows) and dive into the first edit on Monday. It's been so long since I've seen those early chapters that I don't feel much of a break is needed. Then it's off to the suckers who volunteer to read, those poor damned souls. Step up to that line at your own risk.

Writing: 17 words. Those were all I needed, today.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Two lines. Two.

I am two lines away from finishing the damn draft. I ran out of time this morning and didn't want to rush the ending, so tomorrow should be it and give me enough time to total up the bloated word count as well. Then maybe I'll see if i can toss the whole thing into Scrivner, and then learn how to use Scrivner. I am a disaster.

Writing: 45 minutes worth of scribbling away. It's touching stuff. It'll punch you in the feelz. Or maybe the jink. Or maybe both at once.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Her Name is Not GLADoS - Yet

I did not finish the draft this morning. I might have, if the Gorram Cat hadn't been feeling particularly puckish and refrained from knocking my Portal gun turret off the top shelf of my desk over and over and over. Effing cat. Plus she peed on the clean laundry in the basket. If cat tasted good, buddy, your fuzzy butt would be a porkchop.

So tomorrow, maybe. I'm trying to get the ending just right. Then comes the editing, where WORDS DIE.

writing: 719 words.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

So Little to Do, So Much Time - Strike That, Reverse It

Lots to talk about - 2 hockey clinics and the very real chance I'll finish the first draft of my book (okay, draft 1.5) either tomorrow or Tuesday morning -= but for now a quick note about another publication, this one as a judge's perk in On The Premise's mini contest #23. For the second time in a row the three stories I selected were all in the top three, which means I guess I know something good when I see it. The one I liked the best came in 3rd, but to be it's still the cleverest of the bunch. And why again aren't you entering OTP contests? I'll be judging the next one as well and you should, dammit, you should.

Here's the link to the contest you so desperately want to click on . .