Awards

January 15, 2018

Awards are a funny thing. I am (barely) a millennial so I grew up in a generation that received participation awards. I received several of these awards for soccer and baseball leagues. They all had flimsy plastic tops and heavy marble bases. These awards are much derided these days as having made millennials weak as the opinion is that they celebrate mediocrity. Awards should be for winners, not for also-rans or so they say. I can only speak for myself but I am completely aware what those trophies meant. They were meant “thank you for not quitting and going off to do something else” because for me that was not only a possibility but it was a desire of mine. I knew I was never going to win an actual trophy for those sports because I did not want to. I did not want to play but I appreciate my parents guiding me into it because I felt the achievement when a season was over.

I never had any delusions of grandeur caused by getting a little plastic trophy. I do not think that any of my friends did either. I knew when I had performed well at something back then and I still do. I knew when I whiffed another at-bat that I was not an athlete. When I actually caught a ball at third base, I knew that I had achieved a miracle. I have humility when it comes to life. I know my limitations and I know when I am not interested in something enough to even try to excel at it. Sports was never part of the plan like it was for some of the friends that I grew apart from over the years in school. I was a nerd and an artist and I lived the life of the mind not the body. Still, I admired the people who did well in sports because they were truly succeeding at something. Of course, that did not stop me from deriding people who were so interested in sportsball.

In Middle School and High School, I wrestled. It was the first sport (other than archery) that I remember really enjoying. It was a solo sport where it is just you against your opponent like a high impact game of chess. I also liked it because with a little bit of practice, I was actually winning quite a few of my matches. Winning at sports without being carried made me feel good but, as with most sports, I eventually lost interest. When I eventually started losing more and more, I lost interest. I was facing guys who probably got up in the morning and trained before school while I could barely be bothered to attend practice after school.

I vividly remember what I call my retirement match. I went to a tournament (the name of which I forget) where there were only three people in my weight class. Because of this, I was guaranteed a third-place medal. I could practically feel my interest fading away as I was guaranteed an award. When it came time for my first round match, I walked out to the middle of the ring and faced somebody obviously in better shape. The guy looked at me and actually growled, an obvious intimidation tactic. Instead of being intimidated, I literally laughed in his face with glee. The match began and he and I struggled against each other. I did not just throw the match but the guy was obviously better than me and, in the end, he handed me my ass. He earned it and he deserved it because he was taking it seriously. Maybe too seriously but it is not my place to judge that.

In High School, I spent most of my time working in theater. I joined the Stage Crew in my Freshman year and I had a lot of fun and I worked my butt off. I volunteered to run the lights and then I started to learn how to actually hang and design lights. I started working in community theater in the Fells Point area, an experience which taught me a lot about theater design and production. I brought that knowledge back with me when I eventually became the co-head and then the head of Stage Crew at school. I started to design lights and I eventually volunteered to set up the audio for events in the auditorium. I spent a lot of time building sets and making sure that everything came together for various productions. When I received an award at graduation, I knew that I deserved it for all of the sacrifices behind the scenes. I worked hard but I still tried to say that the award was no big deal even though I was privately thrilled.

The same thing happened early in 2017 when I graduated from CCBC with a paralegal certificate. I had dabbled in paralegal work and it was clear that it was both fun and it came easily to me. I had found something that I was good at and enjoyed so it was back to school to learn about my newly chosen field. I worked my butt off at school. I took classes seriously and I turned everything in on time or early. I attended every class and I absorbed everything thrown at me. So, when I graduated with a high GPA, I felt satisfied and excited to get out in the field I am currently enjoying. When I received an e-mail that the school wanted to give me a Lamda Epsilon Chi award, I initially dismissed it. I thought that it was something everybody got like a participation trophy. When I arrived at the ceremony, there were only five or six people there getting the award. I was honored because I know when an award is sincere.

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When It All Ended Pt. 4

January 13, 2018

Princess Cora stood in the throne room with several members of the Royal Guard beside her. She knew that everything outside must have been chaotic outside. She had been consulting with her parent’s advisors hours ago but it now seemed like ages ago. When the impact had shaken the castle, everybody had rushed off to gather information on what must have been a new threat. Anything that could shake the castle like that this far from the front lines of the war was nothing to take lightly, of course. So, Cora had been shuttled off to the throne room by the Royal Guard. The Throne room was the most secure place in the castle aside from the undercroft. She looked at her hands and they were shaking.

It was not even the first time that her parents had left her in charge but nothing had happened on those previous occasions. Both of her brothers were off at Battle Arts and Cora had felt alone that morning but now she felt helpless too. She had to be strong. She swallowed and took a deep breath and tried to think about her parents’ strength. They had both always been so strong, a shining example to Cora and her brothers. She kept taking deep breaths and looked at the members of the Guard, members who had been chosen to protect her royal family. They were trusted and some of the best in the land. The absolute best were fighting in the war but these men and women were dedicated to Cora’s safety.

“Have you heard what’s happened?” Cora asked the nearest guard. He was carrying a huge two-handed sword which he had out and ready.

“We have no idea, your royal highness,” The man said, his voice rough and a little raspy. “I won’t lie. It can’t be good.”

“Only too true,” Cora said. “I’ve never felt the castle shake like that. I’ve never felt it shake at all.”

The guard nodded. “I can definitely tell you that I have been here since your father was a young boy and the castle has not shaken in all of that time.”

“Have you been here that long?” Cora asked. She could see that the man was an elf which wasn’t very common for members of the Guard but it made sense that it might have landed him in the Royal Guard. Rarities made it into the Elite Guard. There was nothing ceremonial about any of the palace guards.

“Yes,” the man said. “Your grandfather helped save several members of my family so it was only natural for me to come here to pledge my sword. Don’t worry, your royal highness, I have faced many threats before in defense of your father.”

Cora smiled. “That does make me feel a little better. I’m sorry but I don’t know your name.”

“My name is Severn,” the guard said with a crooked smile.

“Just Severn?” Cora asked.

“Yes, your Royal Highness,” he answered with a slight shrug as if he had already explained everything.

Cora’s attention was suddenly drawn to one the other guards whose eyes suddenly widened as her body went rigid for just a moment. The guard turned and nervously brushed the hair from her face even though it was not in the way.

“Excuse me, princess,” the guard said with urgency. Cora knew that the Guard were drilled to use the correct address so she knew that something was up.

“Yes, Abigail,” Cora said. “Please speak.”

“I have just received word that a dragon has landed on the castle,” Abigail said. Cora gasped and she could feel the Guard tense around her.

“A dragon!?” Cora asked. “Are they sure?”

“A green dragon and there have been several sightings,” Abigail said. “The town is in a panic. The dragon gassed the central square. There are dozens dead.” Cora’s heart was both filled with fear and sorrow for her people. It was her family’s obligation to protect and lead the people

“Sightings?” Cora asked. “Are there eyes on it now?”

“It seems to have disappeared,” Abigail said.

“How does a whole dragon disappear?” Cora asked. “Do you think it has moved on?”

The doors of the throne room burst open, the strong hinges of one side actually warped a little bit with the force. “She did not move on,” a female voice called out. “She is just making herself at home.” A tall, lithe woman with green hair and green eyes and a flowing green dress practically glided into the room. She had a very mean-looking smile on her face.

“You!” Cora shouted. “You’re the dragon?” The guard around her had been tense but now they sprung forward as their training had drilled into them. They would not let the dragon take another step forward. “No, wait!” Cora called out. She knew something must be wrong if the dragon was so confident.

The dragon posing as a woman took a deep breath and then blew poison gas from her lungs and it enveloped all of the guards. They dropped like flies as Cora watched but Cora did not stay seated on the throne. She grabbed one of her mother’s swords off of the wall and wheeled around to face the dragon. Her family never gave up. However, when she turned, she could see that somehow Severn was getting up from the floor and he was lifting his great sword. The dragon’s hand transformed into a green clawed hand and she stabbed it through Severn’s neck and the man slumped to the ground. A pool of blood started to form in the middle of the throne room, soaking a carpet that had been there for decades.

“Now, now, your Royal Highness,” The dragon said. “Why don’t you put down that weapon? I promise that I want you alive.” The dragon was strikingly beautiful now that she was moving closer and Cora found the tip of the sword was slowly sinking toward the floor of its own accord. It was foolish to fight such a creature. Right?

“Alive?” Cora asked. “Why?”

“Well,” the dragon said. “I don’t want to break all of my toys just yet.”

Media Update 1/11/18

January 11, 2018


Ducktales (2017)

As an old-school Disney nerd, I loved the first series of Ducktales which featured Uncle Scrooge having to deal with nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The adventures were fun as the show had a curmudgeonly yet lovable hero with a great supporting cast. Of course, it also had one of the catchiest theme songs in the history of children’s television. Last year (still weird to refer to 2017 that way), Disney decided to resurrect this show. I was a little skeptical until they announced that David Tennant would be playing Scrooge McDuck and then I was sold. I was right. This show was able to capture the charm of the original show and they even improved on a few things. The new series has more dynamic animation and each character has more detail. The three nephews actually look different from one another and have different voices. Webby is both not annoying and is actually allowed to be a cool, interesting character. They added Donald Duck to the cast instead of just being MIA. The show is funny and exciting and it still has that awesome theme song. Best of all, it feels like they have added some central lore that will tie all of the episodes together as it is slowly revealed. I will be digging up all of the episodes so far of this as soon as possible and I recommend it.


The Magic School Bus Rides Again

As a kid, I had a couple of sources for science beyond school. I was a big fan of Beakman’s World and I also occasionally watched Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye The Science Guy. However, few things got me as excited about science as The Magic School Bus. I read all the books as they were released (and even met the author) and when the television show premiered I was very into it. The books and show were somewhat formulaic but the characters were excited about science and the writing was clever. This new show is basically a continuation of the original series, picking up as the kids start a new school year. The show adds two new characters in new teacher Fiona Frizzle, the original Friz’ sister and new student Jyoti Kaur. The new additions help the new viewer but also make the new show a little fresher for those who absorbed the original show. Basically, the show has the same formula as the old one. Ms. Frizzle goes on a field trip with her students to show them something new about science and often a lesson about dealing with life as well. The original Friz (voiced by Lily Tomlin) is still on the show and she finishes each episode by explaining a few further things about the episode. Finally, the show’s great theme song is actually sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I definitely recommend this especially if you have a child in your life who is excited about science.


Danger Mouse (2015)

Danger Mouse is a British cartoon which is basically a 007 parody starring a mouse with a hamster sidekick trying to save the world. I watched the original show when it was rebroadcast on Nickelodeon not long after it premiered in England. The creators made a great choice to give the show a license to get silly and therefore puns and absurdity ruled the original show. More than that, the show was also fairly meta and the narrator was constantly accidentally breaking the fourth wall. The new show is really just more of the same with leaner, more exciting animation. The new show also has an expanded budget which is lampshaded in the very first episode. The original was forced to cut whole sequences (literally plunging scenes into total darkness) in order to come in under budget. The new show does not have that problem although they do bring it back once or twice for fun. Something new for American audiences is that they took away a lot of the localization changes such as restoring an Italian villain. The show is fun and I can’t wait to see how they treat some of the old characters as they return. (Count Duckula!) The show feels fresh to me and more accessible now that I have indulged so much in English television since I first watched the show. I definitely recommend this one too.

Music of the Week:
The Regrettes – Hey Now

Saint Motel – My Type

DOOMTREE – Final Boss

Tiger Lillies – Crack of Doom

Animadness – Kizuna

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Childhood Cartoons Rebooted”
– I finished Season 5 of Longmire
– I watched more Season 2 of Little Witch Academia
– I continued watching Season of The Magicians
– I finished Season 1 of Blue Exorcist
– I started Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek
– As usual, I watched Game Grumps, GTLive, Critical Role, and DCA on Youtube

The Singing Sword

January 8, 2018

The sword was singing. It was not humming like it had been struck by metal. It was full out singing mezzo-soprano style. Actual words were coming out of it, pouring out of it while it sat on the blacksmith’s workbench. Of course, the sword was singing in Gnomish which nobody really spoke anymore. So, the blacksmith had to fetch somebody who could actually speak the language because he had not the heart to melt it down an try again. It took two days for the boy who ran errands to find somebody who would come over and check it out. It was a third-string assistant to an honorable wizard on the other side of the city.

The bespectacled young woman scurried her way all the way across town to see the sword. They informed her that they could have brought the sword to her. It would have been disruptive to the flow of the town’s traffic but they still would have done it. Instead, Aricia the Enchantress shoved everybody aside and started yelling phrases at the sword as soon as she arrived. Of course, the sword did not seem to respond and nobody watching understood her or the sword. The sword just kept singing. It was quite close to the strangest thing anybody had ever seen.

“It didn’t seem to respond to you, noble Aricia,” Arik said. At this point, he just wished the stupid sword would stop singing or be removed from his shop. He wished he knew who had dropped it off but nobody could remember who had dropped it off or when. Arik was starting to forget a time when the workshop was not filled with song.

“I think the sword may be stupid,” Aricia said. “It will not listen to reason.”

“I’ll take your word that you were offering wisdom,” Arik said.

“Insolence,” Aricia said but her heart was not in it. “The sword is a mystery. I have never seen such magic before.”

“Too complicated?” Arik asked. As a master blacksmith, he knew very little about magic. It was not in his wheelhouse. He knew that some of his finely crafted weapons were taken to enchanters like Aricia or her boss now and then.

“Too stupid,” Aricia said. “Who would want a singing sword?”

“It does not make much sense,” Arik conceded with a shrug.

“No,” Aricia said. “It is pure frivolity. An enchantment with no purpose.” There was a long beat of silence.

“So what is it singing?” Arik asked.

“What?” Aricia asked. She adjusted her spectacles as if that would help her hear the question better.

“I mean it’s Gnomish, right?” Arik asked. “What is the song actually about?”

“Oh just some ancient treasure,” Aricia said and waved her hand dismissively.

“Treasure!?” Arik shouted and then he looked around the shop wildly. Thankfully the curious crowds had dispersed due to the sword’s obnoxious song looping. “Um, what sort of treasure is it?”

“Whatever it is, it’s dangerous. Guarded by a dragon of all things,” Aricia said. “Something called The Treasure of Bast.”

“Bast, eh?” Arik asked, taking a moment to mop his sweaty and sooty face with a damp cloth. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“I suppose nobody has,” Aricia said with a shrug. “I’ve never heard of a single singing sword.”

“Nobody?” Arik asked with growing excitement. “Suppose we inform a group of adventurers and maybe we could get a share of the treasure.”

“Adventurers would never bring back a share,” Aricia said. “Adventurers rarely look behind them and they would not for us even if we were on fire.”

“What if we went with them?” Arik asked.

“Do you have a death wish?” Aricia asked, for the first time looking directly at the blacksmith and actually seeing him. She sized him up for a moment.

“I can swing a hammer,” Arik said, a little bit hurt by the assessment. “I’m very strong.”

“Well, suit yourself,” Aricia said with a sign. “I have a million things to do for my master. I can’t go on an adventure.”

“But we need you as lore mistress,” Arik said. “We’ll never find our way without an accurate translation.”

“That makes me valuable,” Aricia said with a crooked smile. “They have to protect the valuable ones whether they want to or not. You? Not so much.”

Arik grunted and shrugged. “So we just need to ask the next group that comes in,” He said.

Aricia pointed at a group coming in the door. “What about them?”

“Oh crap,” Arik said. “Not them again.”

 

When it All Ended Pt. 3

January 6, 2018

“A dragon?!” William Havelock nearly shouted when the group had reconvened. “We’re seriously considering fighting a dragon?”

“Such concern from the man who charged headlong into a cave with three hags in it the day before yesterday,” Morgan said.

“Hags are different and you know it,” William said.

“I think my contract specifically excludes messing with dragons,” Garth said. “Sorry guys, my hands are tied.”

“We never actually got around to drawing up a contract, Garth,” Morgan said.

“Well, that was an oversight on my part,” Garth said. “I won’t make that mistake the next time somebody needs my help.”

Morgan found herself smiling somewhat fiercely. She did not particularly want to go after a dragon either. However, the oath she had uttered when she became an adventurer was similar enough to the one she had made as a ranger. In Morgan Moonglow’s mind, that oath was unbreakable and if she could make a difference then she would. “Well, if you gentlemen are too afraid then there is no shame in camping right here. We should be back to collect you later.”

“Afraid?” William asked. “I wouldn’t use that word exactly. With you all at my back, I could charge into any battle. Garth, you can camp here alone.”

“A talent on my level should not be idle,” Garth said. “You know how my fingers start to itch when I’m bored.” In fact, that had led to complications with various members of the Guard early in their association as a team.

“Your skills are so legendary, Garth,” Morgan said with just a little sarcasm. “We need your sneaking skills and those deadly daggers of yours.”

“Well, the Shadow Teeth are not just any daggers,” Garth said. “That much is true. I guess I’ll have to come along but you definitely owe me for this.”

“Put it on my tab,” Morgan said. “How about the rest of you? This group has always been strictly voluntary. None of you have ever backed down from a fight yet but you can now.”

Cassandra spoke up, almost a squeak of a voice at first. “Well, I backed down that one time early on.” The moment when she had turned her back on them when the fate of the world was in the hands of the Scar Brotherhood would always be a painful memory for Cassandra. The fact that the magic she cherished so much had been her undoing had made the situation all the worse. She had seriously considered going back to the academy after that adventure.

“That’s hardly fair,” Galath said. “You were under an enchantment and at the end of that adventure you redeemed yourself twice over.” In fact, she had. Cassandra had broken the enchantment on her mind at the last possible moment and had provided just the distraction the team needed to save the world that first time.

“And you have been a constant companion ever since,” William said.

“Well, I’m not backing down this time,” Cassandra said. “A spellcaster is needed when taking on a dragon and besides I have studied them excessively. I’m in.”

“I have also read a lot about Dragons,” Percy said. “And none of you are as adept at counterspelling as I am. You would be dead in an instant without me. Besides, I would walk through fire for you, Morgan.”

Morgan found herself blushing, a slight crack in her usual tough demeanor. “And you have. I’m sure you remember the bit with the elementals.” Percival Stardane had seemed like an arrogant know-it-all when they had all met but that moment when he had literally walked through fire to offer a healing word to Morgan had convinced her that there was something more to the librarian.

“I remember everything,” Percy said. He and Morgan kissed. It was still new for them to show affection in front of the others but with a dragon looming on the horizon, neither of them really cared. They could be embarrassed afterward. Morgan found herself blinking and smiling as she finally pulled back and the world came rushing back in.

She cleared her throat. “What about you, Galath? You’re the last of us.” She managed to ask, turning toward the dwarf. He had been the last one to join the group but it had still been a long road together.

“Ms. Moonglow,” Galath began. He was always so formal. “If it were not for all of you then I would have been lost to time. I would have existed only as my own stone memorial, abandoned by the world in the forest. You restored me to life and gifted me with a whole new world and a whole new purpose. Namely, keeping you all alive. I know that all of you save Mr. Whispernight will say that there is no debt. There is a duty, though, because you are the closest thing I have to family now and I will always be there when things get rough.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Percy said. “Well, I probably could have but you get the idea. We’re all in then.”

“Then we’ll be off to save the King’s house and all the people of the city,” Morgan said. “We’ll be facing a green dragon. We do not know how old this thing is. It could be an adolescent, it could be ancient, or it could be anywhere in between.”

“If it’s ancient, there are many things that it is capable of,” Cassandra said. “Percival and I can write up a list together.”

“Between the two of us, we can probably tell you everything there is to know about it,” Percival said.

“What I’m wondering,” William said. “is why the dragon would attack the capital now. Is it just opportunity or is it part of a bigger plan?”

Morgan had not thought of that yet. “What are you saying, William?” She felt free to use his real name while they were all alone. Addressing him by his real name was a show of respect. “Do you think that this is somehow connected to the war?”

“That was my thought,” William said with a grave nod.

“That’s a scary thought,” Percy said. “There aren’t a lot of ways for the army of Shera to both summon and control a dragon. I have never heard of a dragon working with demons. They are usually selfish, arrogant creatures that have to be in charge and I would bet you that Vistra is much the same.”

“Well, whatever the answer to that mystery is,” Morgan said. “We might discover the answer.”

“If we survive,” Garth said.

“I have faith in us,” Morgan said.

 

Media Update 1/4/18

January 4, 2018


I, Tonya

I was ten years old when Tonya Harding shocked the world by hitting not one but two triple axels in competition. I was twelve when the world was shocked again by an attack on Tonya’s rival Nancy Kerrigan. After that, Tonya Harding became a national punchline that I remember hearing for quite some time in the mid to late nineties. This movie does not attempt to excuse Tonya Harding for her part in the incident, but it does try to explain it better. It makes a good point that most people do not picture the actual incident correctly. Tonya’s Ex-Husband, Jeff Gilooly, hired a pair of guys through his best friend who smacked Nancy in the leg with a police baton. This movie paints Tonya Harding in a more sympathetic light and it was interesting to learn more about somebody who was the target of so many comedy bits. Margot Robbie was brilliant as Tonya Harding and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite current actors. Allison Janney played Tonya’s famously caustic mother and she did so well that I was surprised to see her name in the credits. Sebastian Stan was great as the super pathetic Gilooly who can’t seem to do anything right. These are not heroes but I understand them a little better and I sympathize with Tonya more. I wholeheartedly recommend this.


Schitt’s Creek

I have a somewhat complicated history with Eugene Levy. He was in some great mockumentaries, stuff like Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. Then he did the American Pie movies, the first of which was awful and the rest looked even worse. So when I saw this show advertised, I  thought of American Pie instead of Christopher Guest. I should have known because the fabulous Catherine O’Hara plays his wife on the show hearkening back to their pairing in previous Christopher Guest films. The show is about a family of super wealthy people who get screwed by their money manager and get everything repossessed by the IRS. They have to live in a small town they own because the IRS deemed it had no value and did not take it as well. The show has that magic that Always Sunny in Philadelphia has and Seinfeld does not. It is a show about terrible people who are somehow also likable. Their main flaws stem from the alien quality of being super rich most of their lives so it is both easy and difficult to fully hate them. Levy and O’Hara feel like they have been married forever and both have dynamite comic timing. The show’s real shining star is Dan Levy (Eugene’s real-life son) who has never been in anything big prior but he is incredibly funny. My hat is also off to Annie Murphy who plays a great spoiled rich princess who is in the process of getting knocked down several pegs. The cast of characters in the town are great and there are too many of them to name. I fell in love with this show thanks to my brother and I cannot recommend it enough.


Yellowbeard

I was a big fan of Monty Python when I was a kid. My first exposure was when my friend Arthur brought a book of episode scripts from the show on a camping trip and he let me read it a bit. Then we watched the show together and then I watched as much as I could on my own and then I bought their albums. They were a superstar sketch comedy troupe who worked to bring absurdity and weirdness to the comedy world. Their movies were also fun, weird, and memorable. This movie was not really any of those things. This movie reunited half of Monty Python as it gave Graham Chapman the title role, Eric Idle a role as the secondary villain, and John Cleese a minor comic role. It is a pirate comedy that startled me by not being very funny. It was obvious that everybody was trying but the script and the energy were just not where they needed to be. There were also far too many rape jokes in it. There were an absolutely absurd amount of rape jokes. I was sad that this was the last movie for comedy greats Graham Chapman, Spike Milligan, and Marty Feldman. The movie was strangely boring to me but both John Cleese and Eric Idle are on record saying that it was bad so I should not be surprised. At least there was a great David Bowie cameo. I do not recommend this one.  Go watch The Life of Brian and Young Frankenstein back to back instead.

Music of the Week:
Half Japanese – Put Some Sugar On It

Tokyo Bon – Makudonarudo

Ariana Grande – The Way

Gucci Mane – First Day Out Tha Feds

Rock Goddess – Heavy Metal Rock’n’Roll

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “How the Mighty Have Fallen”
– I started Season 4 of Longmire
– I watched more Little Witch Academia Season 2
– I watched more Blue Exorcist
– I continued watching The Magicians Season 2
– I caught up on NXT
– I watched more GTLive, Game Grumps, Critical Role, DCA, and other YouTube shows
– Welcome to 2018

New Year’s Day 2018

January 1, 2018

First, I would like to apologize for this post being later than it usually is. I know that might not matter much to whoever is reading this but it matters to me. Usually, I have things together and I have a post or two scheduled so I don’t have to scramble to get something up when I might be busy. Do I have a good excuse on why I did not do this for today? Not really. Basically, I got through one of the most positive Christmas holidays I have had in a while. I felt like I really had a good time and things went smoother. I was also super pleased with the Christmas gift that I picked out for people now that I can afford real gifts again. I got great gifts as well, mostly reference books to help with the D&D campaign I am working on. I could honestly go without gifts but my mom and stepfather love giving them and I understand because I love giving gifts too. Once again, I stressed over Secret Santa for no reason because I love to put pressure on myself but I felt like I relaxed a lot more this time around.

I had five days off from work that I mostly spent out in West Virginia and there is a lot of joy for me just in walking down the super friendly main street of Shepherdstown. I was proud to live there for nearly two years and visiting is nostalgic for me. It reminds me of the good parts of living in Sussex, New Jersey, and the family vacations to Woodstock, Vermont. When I got back, I got to have a drink and a great conversation with my brothers. Longtime readers (or archive delvers) of this blog will know how much I love and respect my brothers. I had a day off to myself in Baltimore which I used to watch The Last Jedi which I loved. Then it was back to work for three days, one of those limbo-like weeks where part of the staff are out and the other half are a little bit checked out.

On Friday, I spent my birthday at work which is fine by me. People who know me know that I do not like people to make a huge deal of my birthday. I have not had an official party in a long time. If anything, I have a calm dinner with my folks and see a movie but sometime that happens weeks or months after the day itself. Many people left great messages on my Facebook which reminds me that I have to do better with wishing other people a happy birthday. I spent Saturday as I wished, and I went and saw I, Tonya to treat myself. I had a great time decompressing, watching stuff, and playing video games. I also have had some great winter walks lately.

Last night I moseyed over to Joe and Jill’s house, a place that I often go for gaming. I also go there for craft night on Tuesday which is where I get some of the writing for this blog done. I also hang out with that group of friends on Trivia Night on Wednesday. By the way, if you are in the neighborhood in Columbia, Maryland on a Wednesday night, stop by the Second Chance Saloon for Atomic Trivia. A great time is had by all. This group of friends is something that I am really grateful for as we enter into 2018. I may not make it to every gathering but I have fun every time I am with them and I look forward to the times when I can make the drive out there.

There is a lot more that I want to do with this blog. I had a lot of fun doing DnDcember this year and I might make that a thing next year because I really love creating in that world. I will be continuing the new story When It All Ended which takes place about five years ago in my Elorian campaign setting. I will be writing more about and in that campaign but I cannot post what would be spoilers for my players. I have other ongoing stories that I want to continue/finish. I especially have great plans currently for Redcross and The Symbol (which may get a new title now that I am thinking about it). I want to write more weird stuff too, like the short bit based on a deck of playing cards and a deck of tarot cards and the court reporter script. I want to continue to stretch and grow in my writing and continue to have fun writing.

I continue to have faith in humanity this year even though that faith is constantly shaken and tested. I believe in the goodness of my family and my friends. I believe that when push comes to shove, the people I surround myself will do the right thing. I believe that I will do the right thing when the opportunity presents itself. The United States feels like it is on the edge of something bad like one good shove could ruin everything. Maybe that shove already happened with an unpaid-for tax cut that will probably put us trillions of dollars into debt. Still, I have to keep having hope or I will spiral into depression and I will never get out. I have to believe that good things can and will happen. I sincerely hope that things get better for you, dear reader, even if last year was a good year. Things can always be better.

When It All Ended Pt. 2

December 30, 2017

Morgan Moonglow put a hand on Hamm’s shoulder as he fell to his knees and breathed hard, he seemed to be coming down from some sort of panic. She shouted. “Galath!” When the dwarf ran over she spoke again. “Check him out, please.”

“I’d be happy to,” Galath said. “He looks physically alright but mentally… well, we’ll see won’t we?” He pressed his hand to Hamm’s other shoulder and it glowed for a moment and the color returned a bit to Hamm’s cheeks.

“Can you tell us what’s wrong?” Morgan asked. Hamm looked at her helplessly for a moment and then at the five others clustered around. Morgan gave them a look that clearly said to back off.

“I am happy to scout ahead a bit,” William said. He was a big knight in thick, steel armor and Hamm tilted away when he spoke. He ruffled Garth Whispernight’s hair, obviously part of a good-natured rivalry between the halfling and the human. “I’ll take Garth with me. Won’t I, Garth?”

“I guess I could stretch my legs,” Garth said. The way he talked, it sounded like he did not really care much.

Henry whistled for Hengroen and climbed aboard the horse. He rode slowly to allow Garth to keep up. The halfling eyed the horse with some nervousness. That left Galath, Percival Stardane, and Cassandra Oakspring nearby. Galath went back to tend the fire and the cooking he had been doing. Cassandra sat daintily on a log and opened a book. Morgan could see Percy’s eyes give that book an envious look but he stuck by Morgan’s side with a half-smile. She smiled back and turned to the dwarf in front of her who seemed to be coming back to reality.

“Now then,” Morgan said. “Can you tell us what you’re running from? I promise that we can protect you.”

“And we will also believe you,” Percy said. “We have already seen some crazy shit.” He smiled warmly at the man and Hamm couldn’t help but smile back.

“Well, I only saw it for a moment but I swore it saw me and it killed Moira and who knows how many others,” Hamm said. He realized he was still holding the satchel of firewood over his shoulder and he put it down.

“Yes, but what was it?” Morgan asked. The question was kind but firm. She had softened some working alongside her team but that ranger training was ingrained and kept her on task.

“A dragon!” Hamm blurted out. “A green dragon.”

“A dragon!?” Percival said loudly. There was something between fear and excitement in his eyes. Cassandra’s eyes went wide over on the log and her back went absolutely straight. “There hasn’t been a dragon sighting in Eloria for the past two years or so. A green dragon is even rarer. Hmm.” Cassandra was staring into space, seemingly doing the related calculations already.

“It had to be a dragon,” Hamm said. “It couldn’t be anything else.”

“As I said, we believe you, friend,” Percival said. “Besides that, there is no mistaking a dragon for anything else. The green ones are especially vibrant and easily recognized at a distance even by the yokelest of yokels.” Morgan reached over and physically covered his mouth before he could say any more.

“Where is the dragon?” Morgan asked with urgency. She had just let two of her people scout ahead and she was now doubting that decision just a little bit. She knew that William and Garth could take care of themselves but a dragon was a dragon.

“It’s in the capital,” Hamm managed. He was very tired even with Galath’s healing and it almost physically hurt to think back to what he saw.

“The capital?” Morgan asked, her eyes going wide a bit. “That’s about five miles from here.”

“Is it?” Hamm asked, blinking at that realization. He felt a bit safer with that knowledge but also completely out of place.

“And you were there earlier today?” Morgan asked. “That’s quite some run, um, sorry what was your name?”

“Hamm Stoutfire, at your service,” He said. “I owned a shop in the merchant’s district. Well, I guess I still own it if it was not destroyed.”

“I hope it’s still intact,” Morgan said. “Cassandra, please summon the boys back here. We need to gear up and ride on. We might be the only adventurers in the area capable of taking care of this.” Cassandra pressed a finger to her ear. It was an unnecessary gesture that usually signified that she was using a sending spell.

“You’re going to fight it!?” Hamm shouted, his eyes tinged with panic again.

“We’re going to try,” Morgan said.

“Really, it’s lucky we were in the area,” Percy said, pushing Morgan’s hand from his mouth. “We were dealing with a bit of business with some hags and a prophecy and funny enough we ended up fighting a newly minted vampire lord that some other country had dumped here. So we were just riding away from all of that when we met you. See? Lucky.”

“I could do with less of that kind of luck,” Galath said. “You’re never lucky to meet a dragon.”

Morgan covered Percy’s mouth again and gave him a pointed look. “Mr. Stoutfire does not need to know all of our business,” she said. She turned her gaze back toward Hamm. “You have been very kind to give us this information. We will be riding on to the capital. Do you have somewhere safe to go in the meantime?”

“I think I still have a cousin in Stoneswallow near here,” Hamm said. “Besides, it might be better to be underground right now.”

“Probably a good call,” Galath said. “And yet.”

Morgan shot him a look and he smiled and shrugged. He was already carrying over a bit of sausage and bread which he handed to Hamm along with what seemed to be a full waterskin. Hamm bit into the food without a second glance but did manage to mumble something thankful with his mouthful. With an uneasy glance back the way he came, he hurried down the road on wobbly legs. He had no more desire to be with people who were comfortable fighting dragons than he was to be actually near the dragon.

“Farewell, new friend!” Percy shouted after him, once again extricating himself from Morgan’s grip. “Safe travels!”

Media Update 12/28/17

December 28, 2017


Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Another controversial blockbuster genre movie but this time I fall on the positive side of things. I remember watching what is now called Episode IV as a little kid (on VHS, of course) and I was instantly enamored. I had a truckload of toys which I could have sold to buy a car if my family had kept them. For a while, Empire Strikes Back was my favorite of the franchise until it was replaced by The Force Awakens last year. Episode VII was a mix of nostalgia and really fun new stuff. This movie felt like it expanded on the new stuff while giving us a fun yet darker movie. This new movie leaned more on the Disney-created characters rather than the old guard which is good. We have spent so much time with those characters that it is time for them to pass the torch. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac continue to provide interesting characters. We got new characters from Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran. Both of them are awesome and I am looking forward to more from Tran. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher provide the nostalgia but also show us how their characters have grown over the years. Adam Driver and Andy Serkis are the main villains but we also got brief appearances from Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie again. I feel like this was a great step forward for the franchise to help differentiate it from the original trilogy while still being a great movie. I definitely recommend it.


Bright

It was late on December 22 and I decided to watch this movie because the trailer intrigued me. Also, calls of it being “The Worst Movie of the Year” intrigued me because this year also produced Boss Baby and The Emoji Movie. The movie is directed by David Ayers and it was written by Max Landis, both have a weird track record. For the record, I did not know that Landis was accused of sexual assault before I watched the movie. This is a movie that is basically set in a world where Dungeons and Dragons was real and then time progressed to 2017. So, it is the story of a human cop saddled with an affirmative hire Orc cop. I’m sure there’s some message about race here but it is kind of lost in the story and probably should not be delivered by Max Landis. I actually liked the movie. It felt like one part D&D, one part Training Day, and one part Warriors. Will Smith was great as he was less his usual cocky self and more curmudgeonly and more of a reluctant hero. Joel Edgerton was great as the dumb but loyal orc cop. The movie was a little long and dragged here and there but there was some excellent world-building and I am a sucker for fantasy settings. I recommend it but it may not be up everyone’s alley.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I am a huge fan of Luc Besson. He is a great director and goes into great detail creating his worlds whether they are more mundane or fantastic. My two favorites of his are Fifth Element and Leon: The Professional. He has a way of bringing interesting characters to life in fun and/or interesting situations. When I saw trailers for this movie, I figured it looked more like The Fifth Element and, in some ways, I was right. Dane DeHaan plays the titular Major Valerian, a secret military agent. His partner, Laureline, is played by Cara Delevigne. The two of them use high tech gadgetry and combat expertise to save the day. At first, they seemed a little bland to me but when I got into the rhythm of their straight-faced performance I saw their personalities come out. The story, apparently based on a comic book, is a little frantic and hard to follow at first. Once it settles in, the movie is way better and is driven by the characters trying to find their way through craziness. The world-building is off the charts with hundreds of aliens created and dozens of cultures shown. The other characters we meet are interesting and whole. The only real problem I had with the movie was that it was a bit too long and Besson could have probably cut out around 10 – 20 minutes. Still, I recommend this one if for no other reason than the awesome special effects and action sequences.

Music of the Week:
Getter – Rip N Dip

Selena Gomez, Marshmello – Wolves

Sia – Cheap Thrills

AWOLNATION – Sail

Cold Crush Brothers – The Weekend

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Teamwork in Genre Films”
– I started watching Little Witch Academia Season 2
– I continued watching Longmire Season 3
– I watched more of Fate/Apocrypha
– I watched more of Blue Exorcist Season 1
– I finished The Crown Season 2

The King’s Arsenal

December 25, 2017

Garth Whispernight – Halfling Rogue

Born to nobility in a far-off country, he grew bored and disappeared and reappeared when he tried to pick the pocket of Morgan Moonglow. Instead of turning him in, Morgan recruited Garth on a quest to save the world. After the quest was over, he stuck with the party of adventurers who would eventually become the Arsenal. Learning that he could indeed be an honorable man, he slowly shed his criminal tendencies but never let the skills fade. He delivered the finishing blow to the Green Dragon, plunging a dagger into the back of its skull. When he joined the Arsenal, the King pardoned him for any crimes he may have committed in Eloria. He spends most of his time in a tavern in Whitecrest instead of his office. His home has many sentimental trophies of his past including a fake officer’s badge, forged identities, and various previously stolen items.

Cassandra Oakspring – Half-Elf Sorcerer

She was a very bright, resourceful young girl who showed some untapped magical ability. A local patron paid to send her to one of the magical academies in Coppin. Once there, she flourished and excelled in her studies. The once meek girl started to grow a spine. Morgan Moonglow showed up at the Academy, looking for somebody to release a curse. Cassandra was the one who unlocked the puzzle. She was given an expedited graduation from the Academy so that she could accompany Morgan and her team to help protect the world. An eternal student, she seeks knowledge from all corners of the world. She was delighted to retire near the old academy and is a constant visitor and consultant at most of the academies. When she is not fighting crime or studying, she socializes with whoever will have tea. She loves a good story and is eager to meet new people.

Morgan Moonglow – Elf Ranger/Druid

She was found as a baby on the edge of the Fangleth Forest and grew up never knowing her parents. As soon as she could walk, she started to carry a bow and arrow around and she showed promise. When she was old enough, she was recruited into a ranger school for the military. She served for some time before she was warned of a premonition of the return of an ancient evil. She moved to assemble a team to battle the cult who wished to remake the world in their image. Once the threat was defeated, she kept the team together to combat other threats to Eloria and even surrounding kingdoms. She asked the others to help her take on the dragon at the palace and every single one agreed to risk themselves for Eloria. She was assigned to her home district of Channon where she is reconnecting with her long-lost mother who is a druid. She also often plays host to Percival Stardane since the two of them have a growing romance together.

Sir William Havelock – Human Fighter

Chased out of his homeland by a feud with a rival family, Havelock sought a new start in Eloria. He met Morgan Moonglow under the assumed name of Calo Northwind and joined them as fighter and defender of their cause. As time went on, the group of adventurers was able to go back to Havelock’s homeland and help him sort things out so that he once again felt comfortable using his real name. With his plate armor and faithful steed Hengroen, he is always ready to charge into battle for a good cause. Both of his names were spread far and wide because he never shied away from announcing his presence in and out of battle. While Moonflow was arguably the leader and founder of their team, Havelock was often the noble face of the operation while Stardane was its voice. Havelock never sought his fame, he simply threw out his name as a calling card in case their group was needed again down the road. He is content to teach at the Battle Arts Academy but he also enjoys knocking a few criminals senseless when he can.

Galath Wyndham – Dwarf Cleric

While traveling through the woods, Morgan Moonflow and her crew found what they thought was a statue at first. To their horror, they figured out that the statue was actually a petrified man. A quick Greater Restoration spell from a local priestess woke him up. It was then revealed that he had been petrified a long time ago, during the first Great War of Eloria. He chose to travel along with the Moonflow crew so that they could help him adjust to his new place in time and he could rejoin the world. Along the way, his cleric powers were very useful in keeping the party alive. A quiet man, Galath often imparts wisdom at just the right time and he came to feel somewhat like the party’s older uncle. Having had two adventuring careers in two different centuries, he was glad to finally become semi-retired with the rest of the party. He spends a lot of time enjoying the fresh air of his district and reading books on loan from the Grand Libary in Etting.

Percival Stardane – Human Bard

If there was ever a know-it-all, Percival Stardane would definitely be a candidate. Stardane studied whole libraries full of lore in an effort to figure out what was important and unimportant in the world. If you do not know something, Stardane will be happy to teach you all about it at length. If he does not know something… Well, he will tell you that’s not very likely. Percival was left to his own devices in the libraries of Etting because his parents often had nothing to do with him. He was an only child and he barely had any interest in socializing with others when there were volumes of knowledge to absorb. All of that alone time with the great writers of the continent (and beyond) left Percival with some social peculiarities. While his father was a talented musician, Percival was an excellent storyteller but came off as too excited to tell his story. His brusk manner tended to irk and confuse people and he cannot sing a single note like his father. He seemed doomed to waste away as a librarian when Morgan Moonglow found him and he joined up to add his expertise to the team. He has since become much more well-adjusted and often chooses to live with Morgan rather than stay at his appointment in Etting.


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