Doldrums

“We Have Such Sights to Show You”

Adding new games into game night is difficult to say the least. The past week, I busied myself by reading tremulus by Sean Preston. Never having heard of tremulus before, its selling point wasn’t hard to pinpoint: it’s a storytelling RPG that incorporates Lovecraftian horror.

Our main game is Dungeons & Dragons in which Duckie holds the title of Dungeon Master. And I have no intention of usurping and dethroning him (not any time soon, anyway). Now that we have new people playing with us, I think incorporating tremulus into our game night might help with Duckie’s Book of Malor.

Unlike D&D, tremulus only requires two dice (per player). While the Keeper creates the premise and hazards, it’s up to the group as a whole to craft the story. This has been a sore spot with our D&D sessions. Most of the onus is placed on Duckie’s shoulders and that’s too much of a burden to keep to story going.

I’m not saying that this game will be our saving grace for our D&D nights; I think it’ll just help open and ease players into wanting to partake and add to the game.*

I haven’t finished reading the guide yet, but it’s great so far. I’ve been building ideas as I go along, hoping to create an omnibus of tales to send the characters into such a fright as we explore the deepest, darkest recesses of the mind.

*This actually happened during the last D&D session, when Crissy decided what the fortuneteller would say.
Books

Bloodline by Claudia Gray

When Carrie Fisher passed away at the tail end of 2016, there was a great loss in Hollywood and mental illness awareness. Like many Star Wars fanboys and fangirls, I struggled with the loss of a princess, a general. Of a freedom fighting rebel. With the second installment of the sequel trilogy on its way later this year, many fans worried what would become of General Organa. Will they call for reshoots? Gracefully retire the character as they did with Paul Walker’s in The Fast and The Furious franchise? Or will Leia and Han be reunited in the afterlife? These thoughts surfaced my mind one night, a few weeks ago, at Barnes and Noble. There’s no denying it—the only reason I even fathomed picking up th15781789_10100276356518147_1987712409066616206_ne Claudia Gray novel, Bloodlines, was because I stilled mourned the loss of a great actor.

And I don’t regret it for one second.

Before Bloodlines, the only Star Wars novels I read were Joe Schreiber‘s expanded universe novels (now known as Legends because why not?) Death Troopers and Red Harvest. And while those were fun to read, they didn’t exactly add to my fandom. (Though zombie Siths with lightsabers, I mean, what’s not to love?) But Claudia Gray (and the other writers of the new canon) have some serious shoes to fill. After reading this novel, it’s safe to say that the story can only get better.

Set decades after the destruction of the second Death Star, Senator Leia Organa sees the New Republic tearing at the seams as the two factions that make it up are at a civil unrest. Populists, like Leia, “believe individual planets should retain almost all authority,” while Centrists “favor a stronger galactic government and a more powerful military.” Leia knows exactly what happens when one person is given too much power. How could she forget when her biological father was the same man who took pleasure in aiding the destruction of her home planet of Alderaan? When suspicious activities are called into question on the subject of Nikto cartels, Leia volunteers to lead a senatorial investigation. Much to her displeasure, she is joined by Ransolm Casterfo, an up-and-coming Centrist with a collection of Empire paraphernalia (think Nazi memorabilia collector).

As the investigation takes them into new territories, both senators began to realize just how fragile the New Republic is. And as they get closer to uncovering a galactic terrorist group, Leia is faced with another problem as her greatest secret comes to light.

This novel answered some of the questions I had when watching The Force Awakens. Such as where did the First Order come from? Why is Leia general of the Resistance? Why is there even a Resistance in the first place? Wouldn’t the New Republic have an army? Where is the First Order getting its money to fund the behemoth Death Star 2.0 they have? What happened to Han and Leia? Why did I pay money for just seeing a brief moment of Luke Skywalker? (OK that question goes unanswered.)

Like the recent Star Wars films, Bloodlines gives women the pilot seat (if you listen closely, you can still hear the groans and moans from nerd-boys like Max Landis). While men like Casterfo, Han Solo, and Joph Seastriker play pivotal roles as rescuers, they’re basically just the Mad Max character in a movie about Imperator Furiosa. In short, Leia Organa has always been a bad ass and newcomers Greer Sonnel and Korr Sella can hold their own, even in the face of danger and uncertainty.

The book is political driven (and, nightmarishly, mirrors our own politics) so there are moments in the prose where pitfalls happen. But pay them no attention as Claudia Gray packs action and suspense around every corner. The book ends with some uncertainty about certain characters and plot devices, leaving you yearning for more. I only hope that Claudia Gray (or any writer of the new canon) plans on revisiting them in the future.

Bloodlines is the perfect supplemental material needed to fill in the Star Wars shaped—nay! The Carrie Fisher shaped—hole in your heart.

Nerd Night

The Adventure Thus Far

I don’t pretend to know what the hell I’m doing. I just roll with it. And if the dice comes up to my advantage, so be it. If it doesn’t—I’ll find myself running, leaping, and softly grazing a Dragonborn’s derrière. The swarm of wasps surround us, and my failed leap onto his back causes him to misfire his fire breath. I luck out because, despite of my shame of groping a fellow adventurer, my fall grants me some safety. The wasps ignore me. They go after him.

nope
source

Our DM loves for bugs. Maybe disturbingly so. Since our first adventure began, we’ve combated ants, bedbugs, and now these wasps. And those are just the ones I remember. Had my character not landed flat on his face, he might have swung his tiny sword instead in hopes of at least halving a few of those buggers. But in this game of chance, there wasn’t much to choose from. Fight and get stung, or jump on a Dragonborn’s back and hope for the best.

Neither, as it turned out, was in the cards for me.

We survived this outing. Someone us managed without a scratch—or rather, a sting. At some point we might have fought a dragon. Chances are, though, it was a legion of giant armadillidiidae.

While our adventure didn’t end, Duckie decided to reboot the fragment of the multiverse he created. Marvel and DC were doing it, so why couldn’t he? My dragonborn-ass-groper hobbit halfing faded into the æther.

These days, I’ve taken on the roll of a wood gnome by the name of Frug. He’s a bard storyteller who’s adopted brother, a half-elf, searches the world for him. Of course, it’s not for a friendly family reunion. He blames Frug for the death of their sister. There might be some resentment due to sibling favoritism, as well.

Frug finds himself mixed with a band of randoms who are charged with conspiracy to assassinate royalty. They began their adventure together Saturday. Sadly, I wasn’t able to partake in person but the internet grants us so much. I noticed that playing online, while it has its perks of being involved, feels empty. It’s not the same as sitting in the midst of it all, laughing with friends, and being able to act out the parts along with the best of them.

But who knows when our adventure continues. Maybe next time, I’ll stop being so damn lazy and actually clean up.

Film 365

Singles (1992)

  • Title: Singles
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Year: 1992
  • Starring: Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, and Matt Dillon
  • Studio/Production: Warner Bros; Atkinson/Knickerbocker Films
  • Synopsis: A group of twenty-something friends, most of whom live in the same apartment complex, search for love and success in grunge-era Seattle. (source)
  • Rating: 6.7/10 (IMDb)

I woke up one Sunday morning, back in the late 90s when I did things like go to church, and caught part of a movie whose title I never knew. As a freshmen in high school, my music world exploded with the assistance of friends. Most of the bands that entered my life stuck around all these years. Grunge music filled up my mixtapes—received and given. And any one of them could have made up the soundtrack to this movie.

Throughout the film, cameos by Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), and others grace the audience. Hell, even Tim Burton makes an appearance in the movie. It screams 1990s at the top of its lungs, and I guess that’s part of the reason I love it so much. Yet it fails to hold a cult classic status.

Like all movies that I enjoy from the 90s, Singles focuses heavily on twentysomethings having a difficult time being adults, managing relationships, chasing dreams, and falling in love. Specifically falling in love with the right person. Or becoming the right person for the right person.

It took me a few Sundays to watch the movie and to learn its name. You can watch it once or twice and forget about it. But the beauty of this movie is that one day, maybe ten years after you’ve seen it, you’re busy and work and you remember a line or a gag or an entire scene. It doesn’t have to be your favorite movie; it just wants you to get to know it again.

Also see: Reality Bites & High Fidelity

Personal

[Redacted] Strikes Again

[Redacted] will host an event that leaves me feeling uneasy. An event that borders on desperation. An event that plays on the desperation of others, actually. And while I want to go into depth about it here, I remain uncertain how safe this public journal is. With that aside, I should like to forget that I mentioned it here.

A couple of years ago, I went to the assistant director with an idea. A shot in the dark, I knew, but something worth exploring. A Book Riot podcast had introduced me to the concept of the Human Library™. I did the research. Several venues across the nation—nay—the world—were hosting their own Human Library events. All with positive feedback, I might add. It wasn’t enough, sadly.

The idea was scrapped and I never brought it up again. I told my friend, who would have been my partner in the venture, to try another venue. The passion for it still burns within me, but the anti-progressive [redacted] wasn’t ready for it.

And yet…

How am I supposed to feel about this? While it’s not on the same level as the Human Library™, this upcoming event carries the same premise. Two people who would never think of talking to each other are placed in front of the other. Instead of stamping out prejudice—something this country so desperately needs this year as Trump will be inaugurated in a matter of weeks—we’ll be playing some twisted literate cupid.

Am I pissed? You bet your sweet ass I am.

Doldrums

Final Thoughts on Star Wars

Part of the reason I’m having trouble enjoying the new Star Wars movies is the information they hold back. The Force Awakens tugs at the audiences’ curiosity by presenting the mystery of Rey’s past. I understand J.J. Abrams’s love for the mystery box, but the original films didn’t hold that much mystery.

Each question placed before the audience was answered within the same scene. These droids? Well, they obvious work for this woman. This woman? Well, we now know this is Princess Leia who, despite her protests, is part of the rebel alliance. Luke’s history, while mysterious for a moment, is revealed not too far into the movie. His father was a Jedi who fought alongside Obi-Wan in the Clone Wars. And if you argue that Darth Vader’s big reveal in Empire is proof of the mystery box, then you don’t know jack.*

Both in The Force Awakens and Rogue One we’re given minimal backstory about key elements in the movie. For instance, where the heck did the First Order get financing for the Starkiller? Also, what the heck is the First Order? And in Rogue One, we’re introduced to Galen Erso and Orson Krennic. These men are at odds, but we’re only given a glimpse to their past.

15781789_10100276356518147_1987712409066616206_nAnd it’s about this time where it hits me. Rogue One: Catalyst, a prequel novel to the film goes further into detail. Where as Bloodline, which I’m currently reading, focuses on what I’m assuming is Leia’s last days as a senator. It might even answer the question on why she and Han couldn’t make things work out. I haven’t read them yet, but I’m sure that the Aftermath trilogy written by Chuck Wendig will give me some inkling how the Empire slowly turned into the First Order.

While the original expanded universe was supplemental fodder for Star Wars geeks like me to jerk off to (I’ve only read the two books that dealt with zombies), these new novels are actually important to the films. You can go without reading them, sure, but don’t you want to know how Leia got to be general? Maybe, just maybe, learn why C-3PO’s arm is now red?† We need answers, man!

*read the original Empire script.
†ok we already know that answer, but still.