Thursday, May 28, 2015

Time Between the Pipes - The Old Man Learns Goalie, Part 1

     Back when I was 17 I spent a summer working for Manpower, a temp agency. The jobs were mostly office based but the physical ones tended to fall my way, as I was young and presumably strapping. One day myself and another guy were hired out to a small nursery for a one-day job. The gig was unloading a truck and sounded like a nice break from the indoor filing borefests I'd been having. The morning of the job was hot and humid, the temperature above 85 degrees before 10am. We helped the owner unload a small load of bushes while we waited for our main job, and even with the heat it wasn't so bad.
     Then our truck showed up. It was a full-sized tractor-trailer, and inside were bags of peat moss. At first that didn't seem like it would be a problem - the bags were only forty pounds, although they were each the size of a footlocker. And so what if the entire trailer was stuffed to capacity with the things? Forty pounds. Big deal.
    Well, it turned out that this load had come down from somewhere in Canada that didn't believe in summer because the bags were all frozen. Solid. I can't give you an accurate recalibration on the weight but ye gods they were awful. The owner of the nursery had figured that hiring two dopes at 14 bucks an hour was cheaper than renting a forklift and man, he worked us until we dropped. I have never sweated as much as I did on that day., and that includes playing in a rugby match in South Carolina where the temperature on the field was estimated to be at 104 degrees at kickoff.
     Last night, my first time ever as a hockey goalie, came pretty close.
     I have always wanted to be a hockey goalie, and having started with all this ice-related nonsense a year and a half ago this moment seemed inevitable. I'm not trying to replace the goalie for the Scurvy Dogs - we lucked out in that category and got a guy who is both very good and infinitely patient with us floundering around in front of him, and I wouldn't dream of trying to push him out. But when he got new pads and offered me a more-than-fair deal on his old stuff, I couldn't resist, and once I'd gotten the rest of my gear (I splurged a little on the helmet because I'd like to keep my head in one piece, thanks) I jumped on last night's opportunity. It was a pickup game, which meant that I played 90 minutes straight. The venue switched from one 15 minutes away to one 40 minutes away, but I got aided by thunderstorms canceling the kids' games and letting me get out a little early. On Route 287 I didn't just see a spectacular rainbow, I saw a DOUBLE rainbow - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
     The play level of the guys in this group is a little above what I'm used to, so I figured on a long night. I managed to get my leg pads on with only one restart, and thank the powers that be for online tutorials. There are more straps on those things than at a bondage convention. I even remembered to put my jock and hockey pants on first. With a nervous sigh, I headed out on the ice. One of my Scurvy Dog teammates was there, and he was nice enough to pelt me with shots during the time I should have been stretching. Then about 90 minutes of non-stop action started, and . . . well, a play-by-play would be pointless. The first real shot I faced beat me waist-high blocker side. Then, through a combination of my defense bailing me out and some lucky flailing, I managed to go ten, maybe fifteen minutes without anything going past me. Well, past me into the net. Plenty went past but were wide. My attempts at butterfly - which a style that focuses at dropping to your knees with your legs splayed out to either side - was more of a caterpillar, but I've been told that gets easier and more comfortable with time. I missed some saves I should have had, stopped a few shots I shouldn't have, and fell in love with my posts, which made a sweet pinging sound each time they kept pucks out. I made a complete and total tactical error by leaving my elbow brace at home - when I'm playing D I have an elbow pad that mimics the support, but my goalie chest/arm armor - there's no better way to describe it - doesn't do that, and by the end of 90 minutes my tennis elbow was screaming from hefting the heavy stick. A puck managed to find unprotected space on the one time I managed to correctly drop into a butterfly, drilling me in the lower abdomen about three inches above my Stanley Cup. At least the ice was cool when I dropped my head to it. I gave up more goals as the night wore on, a combination of getting a little tired paired with players on the other side starting to make cross-ice passes on odd-man rushes - if you don't know what that means, just understand I wasn't good enough to react and make the saves.
     I get to do this again next Thursday, as our real goalie is away and I will stand between the pipes as my 2-4 Scurvy Dogs play the 6-0 Rubber Puckies. Am I going to get shellacked? Almost certainly. Will I miss saves that Chaz would have gobbled up? Without a doubt. Will the scoreboard operator take pity on me and stop posting goals once they hit 9? Hopefully. Is it going to be awesome? Absolutely.
     Back to the sweating. Before I left I stepped on our scale - 193.1. It was a snacky weekend, I make no apologies. After I got out of the shower at midnight last night? 186.4. Who needs peat moss?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hate Keeps a Man Alive

It's not hate, actually, and I'm told it's perfectly natural at this point. I'm in the process of rereading my manuscript in order to write the synopsis, and of course because I'm a editor/freakin' loon it's turned into yet another edit. And I hate the book because it sucks and was made with the offal of diseased water buffalo and should only be given as a punishment to our worst prisoners and . . .

Well, I'm told it's normal to feel this way right about now, when the damn thing is written and edited over and over and WHY ISN'T IT ON THE TOP OF THE DAMN NYT CHARTS ALREADY? After the synopsis comes the process of trying to find an agent, and during that I need to get busy writing again, although whether on stories or starting a rewrite of my second manuscript I'm not sure yet. I have one story sold that's waiting to be published (since July, but that's okay because I love the mag and it's people and they had some tough stuff going on) and another two stories out that haven't been rejected yet (jinxing myself there). A friend had a successful writer offer me some advice about getting published, and while it turned out I was on the right track anyway she had some good tips as well. I was very non-demanding with advice requests. I'm not good at asking people for help.

Running my PF game is a challenge between finding the time to prep and trying to keep the PCs challenged, as they're too damn smart and min/maxxed for their own good. At 11th level they're damn near overflowing with crazy-ass feats and abilities, and when the terrible adventure path one of the players who's no longer with us begged for years ago gives me monsters with bow attacks of +13/+10 for a whopping 1d8 +3 damage, it's tough to keep them scared. I'm improvising more and more while following the bare bones of the script. They are not gonna like Grunezellda. And if I ever bring dweomercats back the wizrd might throw a bottle at me. Still, everyone seems to be having fun and that's the point, right? Right.

Almost killed myself with back to back hockey nights. My right knee was an angry customer Tuesday morning. And no, I shan't act my age.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

That Moment

That moment when you're learning a new gaming system and it clicks? Yeah, that. I'd been a little worried about Hillfolk but it all sort of snapped into place last night as I read on. Very PvP discussion-oriented, like Fiasco. I think it'll work well. Trenchcoats and Katanas is going to be about a silly as I expect it to be. In both cases plots are beginning to burble and thicken in my head. I'll still be a wreck about running, though. I always am.

I'm supposed to be going through chapters on my book to put together a synopsis but of course it's becoming another edit as well. Right now I hate the vile load of horsecrap which is certainly the worst thing ever vomited onto a page, which I understand to be the normal reaction about right now. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for my beta readers, who've led me to believe it might not be awful. Well, actually, I can. Thank you, Docstar and Dorian. You're amazing. I have taken down the old version and will be uploading a freshest version for some others who have requested reading it once I can figure out how I managed to get it to work the first time. Seriously, I should just be chiseling stuff into a wall.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

So Now What Do I Do at 5am Each Morning?

Book's done. Well, version 7.0 or so, anyway. I think it's finally ready enough for some agent hunting, as a couple of dedicated beta readers made it all the way through and were kind enough to offer criticism/advice/support. I'm grinding out the synopsis now, or actually rereading the chapters and summarizing them so they can be further drained of life and personality and crammed into a few short pages. The other morning I cranked a new piece of fiction and it felt weird. I have to get back in the groove of writing again.

I just picked up my goalie mask and stick, thus completing the set and ensuring that this stupidity shall come to pass. I have wanted to be a hockey goalie since the first time I watched a game with my father way back when, and I'll probably try it for free at one of the weekly hockey clinics - they always need goalies. Might be a few weeks, as Lola is traveling, but it'll happen. Oh yes, it will happen. I opted for a fiberglass helmet over the cheap plastic ones. I think my head is probably worth the extra protection. Otherwise hockey remains fun - we went 3-13 for fall, which is much better than 0-17, and so far this spring, with no ringers, we're 1-3. I fear that I'm plateauing at my current level of suck. Maybe being a goalie will help, because being pelted with solid rubber discs at 75mph seems like a good idea.

Coaching both the kids in is proving a wee bit exhausting, but here I am. No fool like an eager fool, I always say.

The Xmas smoker is assembled and ye gods, I love it. It's a Char-Grille Acorn kamado and why was i ever smoking with the old bullet type? The thing is like an outdoor oven - I can light hardwood charcoal and be at 500 degrees in a matter of minutes, and it holds temperature beautifully. Incredibly stingy on charcoal, too. Love it. LOVE IT.

Learning two new systems to run in an upcoming house con, both of which may prove to be challenging. One is a sort of variant on Fiasco, better suited for a long campaign but should still be okay for a one shot. I'm picking pieces from a mod that casts the PCs as ants, although it'll be more fun if I make them less 'good of the colony' and more independent thinkers. The other is a goof game based on the movie Highlander and I've got a decent plot in my mind. It was so much easier when I was lazy and ran stuff like Inspectres but I'm trying to grow as a GM. Plus, anything that doesn't have 87 bajillion rules like Pathfinder is a nice break. There's some complications with the con this year but we're determined to work through them, although it means we'll sleep off-site. No Tesla licks at 5am? I FEEL CHEATED.

So that's what is up for now. I'll be more timely with updates. Maybe.