Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kicking Stones, Court, & Pirates

It has been a while since I related any stories from work, but yesterday events and people in the court rendered so much material for the mill I feel I must write this...

Everyone and their brother shows up late for the five-thirty calendar, usually late and completely careless of the fact that they are on sufferance already. The sense of entitlement pools in the room, stagnating thought. Tonight is no exception.

At about six o'clock, the antechamber door swings open. I hear it because I'm meant to, the squealing hinges left that way so I the bailiffs know the door has been opened. Something punctuates the squeal though, a short quarking bark of noise.

'What the fuck was that!?' I think. I'm not terribly interested, really, the day has already been long and aggravating, and the calendar looks to stretch it longer and lend more aggravation to my tattered patience.

The noise is followed by someone in the antechamber trying to put themselves back together after having gone through security downstairs; belt jangling, muttered imprecautions, etc. Again, nothing unusual.

Court is in session, so I am monitoring everyone; from those before the commissioner making their excuses and those waiting for their turn to do so.

It's the late-comers that kill me tonight, as usual. Having missed my firm admonitions at the beginning, they enter with fanfare and eventually plop down to wait. I say eventually because most ask me if their name has been called.

I feel I must digress a bit here, because I have five problems with their approach:

#1) As bailiff, I am not in control of the court calendar, and it's not my place to influence the running of the court. In other words: I don't fucking know.

#2) They usually don't tell me their name. In other words: How the fuck should I know if I could actually do something about it?

#3) You're fucking late! The few who arrived on time don't need you slowing the already slow processes of the court further because you were unable to get your shit together to handle your business! In other words: Sit down, shut up, and we will all get along fine!

#4) When they do approach me, usually asking if they are in the right place or if the court has already called their name, I reply, "If you are here early for six-thirty, you can wait outside. If you are late for five-thirty or any other time, or just don't know when you were to be here, have a seat and wait."

Usually they are so caught up in their own little world of late-ass arrival and being called on their shitty driving that they do the absolute worst thing they can when dealing with me: They don't listen to me and then interrupt me, right about the time I'm saying, "If you are late for five-thi-" They usually interrupt me with their variations on "FIVE-THIRTY".

I was raised by in a southern woman's household. I have been trained to proper manners, and I use them until such time as you prove unworthy of polite company.

I make that further digression to illuminate for you why I detest being spoken over or interrupted when attempting to answer a question. If you asked me the fucking question, then you can damn well wait for the complete fucking answer, digest the fullness of it, and then reply.

#5) Once I the late-ass not to interrupt and to have a seat, they, almost without fail, try to lay their emotional bullshit at my feet. Most make muttered claims that I'm a racist, an asshole, or whatever else comes to mind before turning to resume their seat. Some even manage to combine their claims, giving rise such pithy verbage as 'asshole racist' as they turn from me. The turn is usually accomplished with the downcast face and posture of a child kicking a rock. Some even accompany such behavior with a grunting little sigh, much like a child kicking a stone in disappointment.

I'll end the digression with this: For God's sake, if you are fucking late for your court date that you set, you can't wait, you can't listen, and you can't even be polite, then how the fuck can you expect anything more of those you come into contact with?

Now, where were we? Oh yes, the waiting, sighing, farting, yawning, stupid-question asking crowd has been added to repeatedly in the last half-hour by latecomers. Apart from the strange sound that accompanied his entrance, the person making noise in the vestibule is, while unwelcome, no great suprise.

Then the door opens.

In stalks a man with a limp. On his shoulder is a big fucking parrot. Not a little bird that might be missed in the ruck-and-run of the slow-as-molasses court. Oh no. This is a monster, with two foot pintails. A lot like this one:

'Shit,' I think, 'I missed the memo that tonight was Pirate night! I might get my card revoked by Plunderers International.'

Then the man suprises me again by taking a seat, quietly, without the usual approach-the-bailiff-with-my-bullshit. Perhaps he had none, only parrot ca-ca?

I spend the rest of the night trying to resist the urge to squint, bark out, "Argh!", "Where's me Booty!?" and, "Shiver me timbers!" at every turn.

I thought to say, 'Now I've seen it all' in this post, but I couldn't. I do think I might have seen much of it. Not all, but much.

Much more than I like, sometimes...Other times it's just too much to keep a straight face through.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Crazed and Murderous Cat, Work, World Cup, and Motorcycle Maintenance

Gato Loco:
The cat has gone a bit feral, at least toward me. I am not sure why. He howls for attention, but hisses at me when I approach. Before the rest of the family left for Tahoe, I thought we had reached détente, but alas, no such luck. He plays with Isabelle, Karen, even the fuckin' dog! But I, who feed him and clean his shitbox, I get hisses and howls!?

He must be aware how little I like him after his murder of the other, much kinder cat. Still, I am a bit lonely in the house with just the murderous ungrateful little bastard for company.

Ah well, I got quite a bit written yesterday. I have a more than a little bit remaining, but my confidence grows with each page. The murderous little cat is helpful in this, as I am writing the denoument of the murderous bastards behind the plot to take over government of the colony. It's always good to have examples in life.

Day Job:
The day job was entertaining yesterday, as we had two Pro Temp Commissioners, both of whom are good people with fine senses of humor that related entertaining tales to me.

Today I get the 600 mile maintenance on the bike dealt with. I read the book, but fail to find the Zen in such activity, so I pay professionals.

World Cup:
I've given up my slavish devotion to the World Cup. I will watch the next round, and perhaps the finals, but I am upset that both the Swiss and US teams are out. My remaining hope, the Spanish, are still in the hunt.

Reading List:
I am still reading Machiavelli again, and still pulling new thought from its every brief chapter. It is a tiny book, but I can't help but research the events mentioned as examples by the man at every turn. What a well-read man he was in an era when books cost insane amounts of money and few knew how to read.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing Consistently is Hard

Been having a hard time since my accident sitting down and cranking pages like I need to. The wrist is still stiff, but that's not all of it.

I am at the crux of The Last Captain, and tying everything and everyone together is eluding me somewhat more than I thought it would. I am not worried as yet, as the characters of 'A Friend to The Watch' did the same thing to me. Running around, doing their own things, making it hard to draw them and all the threads generated by their activities together for the finale.

So it is easier to watch movies, play with my kid, eat, do whatever, than sit at the computer and batter my brain against the keyboard.

Today I take the hard road, and write... Once I'm done with this post.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Strikeforce/M-1 Results

Pat Healy v. Josh Thomson:

Good match, and I am not just saying that because my choice won. It was an awesome display of ground fighting and strategy. Watching Thomson fight is a blast.

Cristiane Santos v. Jan Finney:

I'm not sure this fight was good for women's MMA. The beating Finney took was very one-sided. Finney is tough as nails, and if she had five more inches of reach, might have made a better fight of it. She did go to the second round, which I don't believe any other fighter has done in the last five years.

The female ref made a great call penalizing 'Cyborg' for punches to the back of Finney's head. The ref repeatedly warned her, Cyborg was winning handily without them, and they were, as all Cyborg's punches, extremely powerful.

As I called it.

Cung Le v. Scott Smith:

Good fight, hard fought. Le beat Scott, as I thought he would. Scott is game, but fairly one-dimensional.

As I called it.

Fedor Emelianenko v. Fabricio Werdum:

Holy Shit! Werdum's one chance to win, and he executed flawlessly! Got tagged and put on his butt, Fedor followed up very aggressively and Werdum sucked him in for an arm bar after one minute four seconds.

"The one that doesn't stand up, doesn't fall," Fedor said after the fight. Fascinating guy. M-1 is not going to do well as a promotion from here on out. Insanely interested in the Overeem vs Werdum fight.

While not as I called it, Werdum did win the way I gave him a chance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Strikeforce/M1 Card Picks

Pat Healy v. Josh Thomson:

I really enjoy watching Josh 'The Punk' Thomson, and this appears to me as the most evenly matched on the card. Healy is rough and ready. The Punk will win, I think, but it should be a really good bout.

Cung Le v. Scott Smith:

I loved the last fight, which was a prime example of why MMA is so exciting. Smith appeared beaten throughout the first fight. Cung, who had just come back after making Pandorum (A suprisingly good SF movie, in some regards) gassed and the lack of conditioning led him to be careless of his safety, at which point Smith lent his 'Hands of Steel' moniker further weight with a knockout. I hope Smith does it again, but think Cung will own Smith.

Cristiane Santos v. Jan Finney:

Santos is going to mow Finney over. Then again, Finney is so overmatched she might just win if Cyborg gets careless. I feel women's MMA is not best served with this fight. They should have put Cyborg in with Toughill for a good match. The Strikeforce CEO claimed that fight would happen this year at tonight's weigh-in.

Fedor Emelianenko v. Fabricio Werdum:

Fedor to win. Werdum's only chance is a submission, but Fedor is no stranger to the ground game either... Might be a great fight. Much more likely to be short and brutal. That having been said, someone has to de-throne The Last Emperor.


Strikeforce's CEO clearly claimed that the winner of Fedor/Werdum fight would be taking on Overeem for the Strikeforce Heavyweight belt. Fedor, after this fight, will have only two more fights on contract with Strikeforce.

Further, he said of Shields, "From a pure business perspective, it looks like we will have to plan a tournament for the middleweight championship." Looks like Shields will be gracing the Octagon soon. His departure will be a serious blow to the Strikeforce Middleweight division, which I think is their deepest weight class. Worse yet, it might cause other dominant fighters of his camp, like Gil Melendez, to leave as well.

An interesting statement was made by M-1's boss, who's name escapes me: He said that the only empediment to Fedor fighting a UFC champ was the fact that Dana White refuses to open the cage he's locked the UFC fighters into.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Opener for The Last Captain

“Defense of self is one of the primary goals of all organisms. Defense of the State is defense of territory, family unit, livelihood, and the freedoms of the individual guaranteed by that State. Defense of the State even unto death is therefore defense of self, and a good death.”-Perfected Crèche Teachings, as reported by Imperial News Networks.

The demonstration was a non-event for the officers assigned to it until the mob decided to move on Government Square. Chanting, flag-waving, red-faced demonstrators flowed down the street toward the line of officers thrown up to stop such a move.

As they drew closer to the thin blue line thrown up to prevent them gaining the square and disrupting the processes of government with their disorder, the chanting resolved into repeated calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Imperial armed forces from the planet and claims of a popular mandate for immediate handover of government to The New Geneva People’s Party.

Officer Venkman hadn’t heard of such a party, and certainly hadn’t given them or anyone else a mandate to misbehave on his behalf. And it was clear that misbehavior was on their minds, as some wore scarves wound around the lower halves of their faces, a sure sign of intent to do mischief.

The officer, by dint of being taller than the rest of the squad his district station had sent for the demo, was the first officer to the left of the sergeant, who was standing on the building line on their right. The crowd control shield was an unfamiliar drag to his left arm, and triggered uncomfortable memories for the big off-worlder.

Sergeant Trudeau, looking past Venkman, called a command over the net, “Squad, visors down!”

Venkman already had his down, but he checked on his partner, two officers left of him in the line. Baptiste was ready, but three of the more junior members of the squad hurried to snap theirs into place at the command.

Sergeant Trudeau continued as the mob advanced within twenty meters of their position, “Keep the shields unpowered until Event Command authorizes use or we are in danger of being overrun.”

‘The latter being far more likely,’ Venkman reflected, rolling his shoulders to loosen tense muscles. There were only ten officers to cover the two lanes of traffic and sidewalks of the boulevard.

“We just have to hold for a bit, the rest of the platoon will be here shortly,” Trudeau finished.

Trudeau turned off her mic, but Venkman heard her mutter under her breath, “Should have been covering the avenue in platoon strength in the first place, damn it. Shouldn’t have ordered my fucking squad into the mix without proper support.”

The crowd kept shouting, now just ten meters away.

The sergeant flicked on the public address net, activiating the small but very powerful speakers built into the riot gear of every member of the squad. A blast of sound assaulted the ears of the crowd, quickly followed by the pre-recorded announcement, “This is an unlawful assembly, and you are required to disperse per section 101 of the Nouvelle Genève Penal Code and Title Eight of the Civilian Rights and Regulations of Imperial Law. You have five minutes to comply.”

A snarl Venkman didn’t like but wasn’t surprised to hear erupted from the mass of humanity, louder than the artificial noise generated by the public address system. Mention of Title Eight often provoked such a response. A harsh law enacted by the Imperial legislature to ‘prevent insurrection and preserve the public peace for the duration of the war’, it had been used as legal justification for suppressing any dissent over the last seventeen years.

When the Lord Governor announced the imminent withdrawal of Imperial government from the system, the people of Nouvelle Genève rejoiced for a day or two and immediately started pressing for more, faster. Nouvelle Genevoise felt they had a lot of catching up to do.

The police department was, as usual, stuck in the thick of it, trying to maintain order in the midst of glaring uncertainty about the future of governance, economy, and even culture of the planet.

The front of the crowd growled, bunched, stalled a few steps from the line of officers. Most respected the authority of the officers under other circumstances, the mob mentality not yet robbing them of sense. Venkman saw several people in scarves exhorting the crowd to take further action, while remaining well inside the mob and out of reach.

A bottle sailed over the heads of those in the front of the crowd, landing short of the line and shattering.

“Hold!” Trudeau barked on the net when the officers closest to being struck looked like they might charge forward.

Several of the masked rabble-rousers broke from the edges of the crowd and ran at either end of the line. A thin reed of a man made a run for the gap between Trudeau and Venkman. Holding the stick at high ready, Venkman dropped his right foot back and raised the shield.

The man tried to barge through, swinging a flimsy datapaper sign in the officer’s direction. The sign itself isn’t a threat, the memory chips tiny and the display surface tissue-thin, but the wooden staff the datapaper was attached to would certainly leave a mark.

Watching the blow descend toward him with the calm bred into him for such moments, Venkman determined the threat sufficient to go active with his baton. He triggered the electronics buried in the polymer stick even as he slapped the other man’s attack aside in a fast parry.

His counterattack landed on the man’s right shoulder with the distinctive sizzle-crack of discharging electrons. The would-be rioter went rigid and had already begun to topple backward when Sergeant Trudeau clipped him in the left hip with her shield.

The contact of the sergeant’s shield triggered another sizzle-crack, surprising Venkman. ‘Sounds like Sarge thinks we’re going to get overrun,’ Venkman thought, watching the man shudder and twitch.

Trudeau flashed Venkman a tight grin from beneath her visor as she backed into line with her subordinates.

He flicked his gaze to the left. The agitators on the far end of the line hadn’t done any better than the one on his, a pair of unconscious bodies marking their attempt.

A snarling growl from the crowd raised the hairs on Venkman’s neck, ‘Someone doesn’t like how easily we dealt with their shit-disturbers.’

Another barrage of thrown trash and more deadly missiles impacted around and on the shields of the squad.

The mob milled and chanted, amping themselves up. Venkman watched as, over the next few moments, the dangerous mob-mentality of the crowd compounded and intensified to a gestalt of anger and heedless aggression.

The intensity coming off the crowd triggered responses in Venkman’s own biochemistry he would prefer not to air. Things might get broken. He resorted to mantra for control.

Calmed after a few moments of mental exercise, Venkman analyzed the crowd’s behavior more clearly. While it hadn’t been his specialty, he’d participated in enough insurrection and agitation actions to feel the moment approaching.

‘But being on the other side is a bit novel,’ he thought, raising his shield and bouncing on the balls of his feet, stick at the high ready.

The crowd snarled again, starting toward the squad, all angry faces, raised fists, and waving sticks. They gathered momentum in only the few steps it took them rush the line. The front of the mob met the line in a flurry of blows, most going down in a heap even as those behind them pressed forward.

Holding to mantra in the thick of things, Venkman and the officers sent from Starfall Station set to with a will, laying about them with stick and shield.

The mob would not pass this way, not today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Odd Inspirations and The Odd Things I Am Into Right Now...


I am reading Macchiavelli's The Prince for the umpteenth time, and finding new and interesting things yet again. He looks like a footballer, doesn't he?

The renewal of my interest was triggered by Robert Jackson Bennett's recent post about a favorite French philosopher of his, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne.

Inspired by the first few chapters of The Prince and my recent testimony in civil court, I began a new opening to The Last Captain. I think it works, though it isn't done by any means. The old opening was good, but this will set the tone and backdrop better. The old opening remains, just isn't the first bit.

The Garden of Barber:

The raised beds my wife and I built and planted are producing amazing crops of strawberries, squash and onions. The tomatoes are coming along, needing a little more heat to truly bear fruit, as are the green beans.

The Bike:

I still miss my old one, but the new one is growing on me as I break her in. I'll have to take the Street Triple in for the 600 mile maintenance soon. My wrist still aches a bit, but is much better.


June is still looking very good, with next weekend's Fedor vs Werdum fight on Showtime holding great excitement for me. I'll have to post my calls for the fights.

Greedy Little Bastards:

The very urban campaign I am running for my face to face game of Warhammer is going very smoothly, despite the inability of our group to get together on a regular basis.

World Cup:

Go figure that the one day the referees of the World Cup would fail to live up to their exceptionally good performances thus far would be in the US match yesterday.  I am, of course, referring to the devastating recall of the final goal. There is still no clear indicator what the ref observed that made him call it back.

I am very impressed with the US coach, who has had a very steadying influence on the team. Coming back from a two-nil deficit was an impressive feat, though the odds-makers had them favorites to start with...

Overall it was an aggravating game, but certain to make the games to come that much more interesting.

Then the English failed to beat the Algerians, which the Slovakians already have. I becomes increasingly clear to me that the English are not a team in the sense that the US and many of the lower-ranked teams are. They, like the Spanish, French, and Germans, all have a number of great stars, but fail to pull together in adversity.

Again, it should make for an interesting finale to this year's cup.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June is a very busy month for me, MMA, and World Cup Soccer!

Been very busy, but nowhere near busy enough to warrant the lack of production in writing I have had the last few weeks. It seems that summer is a slow time for the creative juices.

The new bike is growing on me as I break it in. Got the fly screen yesterday, making this morning's ride in much more comfortable.

Watching the Swiss hold the Spanish off and win was a heart-rending experience. Having lived (and loved living) in both countries, I was on the fence for the most part. My love of the underdog kept me rooting for the Swiss more than Spain, but God, what a match!

I watched the Strikeforce fights last night, and while the card was short, it contained some very good fights:

KJ Noons has been overbilled, I think. He is a great boxer, but Heun, who took the fight on less than two week's notice, took his shots and kept coming, showing a better mix of MMA skills than Noons. Heun kept coming, pressing Noons the entire fight, controlling the cage, he had one effective takedown, the only one of the fight. He took a beating, his face looking like hamburger by the end. The judges decision went for Noons, which I felt had more to do with the promotion's hopes for Noons than how well he did in the cage.

Cyborg destroyed Zaromskis. Full stop. A few great exchanges and it was over quick.

Tim Kennedy handily won his match, submitting Prangley a lengthy set of scrambles on the ground. He's now training full time, and may become a serious force to be reckoned with.

In the main event, Bobalu Sobral fought very well last night, edging out Lawler, who seemed to have no plan. Sobral also took a beating, while Lawler looked like he could have fought another opponent.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Graduation, Grandparents, World Cup, and UFC 115

It has been a whirlwind around here, but a very fun one... And yes, I did get some writing done in between eating a ton of good food and drinking too much.

Isabelle's graduation was very neat, and the children beautiful. Everyone enjoyed it. My mother is getting around extremely well after her total knee replacement last October.

The England-USA game was a glorious grind. Fun to listen to the UK pundits make excuses left and right. Shots on goal score goals. A goalie failure to stop the goal is not a gift. It is a possible outcome of any shot on goal. No shot, no goal.

I had two friends over to watch UFC 115, and we had a good time, drinking more than a few beers.

The fights were quite good, especially for a card without a title challenge. The Liddell vs Franklin match was an awesome display of power that I hadn't been sure Franklin had.

Barry, I'm sure, is regretting not following up on his first round knockdowns of Cro Cop. He'd have won with a ground and pound had he done so. Cro Cop was the best I've seen him in a long time, but still not the man he was before. Barry did impress with his fight-loving good humor, but didn't show the killer instinct he'll need to develop if he wants to have a lengthy career fighting professionally.

Rory Macdonald was robbed of a decision by TKO with only nine seconds remaining. Amazing, tightly focused fighting by both fighters. Rory is young and I hope last night's ref-robbery does not sour him. He was mounting an active defense, and had won the first two rounds quite handily, making an excellent fight of it. The robbery was quite evident when compared to other fights of the night, where the ref let the fights go on and on.

Tonight, the True Blood Premiere.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Next Couple

Well, my parents are in town for Isabelle's kindergarten graduation. I am very excited to see them, and hope they enjoy their time here. The graduation ceremony is tomorrow, and I have taken the next two days off from work to be there and with my folks.

My iPhone barfed this morning after my commute, and I think I'll have to replace it. The new bike is running well, but I am still a bit twitchy from the accident and my wrist still aches as I write.

Saturday is UFC 115, and I'm going to have at least one buddy over to watch it.

I'll find time to crank pages too...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Further Praise for Good Safety Equipment

I haven't been getting much writing done, but the wrist is getting steadily better, so I should have less excuses.

This morning I was getting ready to go to work on the new bike and picked up the gloves that I wore in the accident. I hadn't put them on since the accident, test-riding with my hot-weather gloves. I discovered a two-inch tear in the left glove beside the composite knuckleguards. The stitching and leather ripped when they struck something, but protected me from injury to that hand. Protected me so well I didn't even notice the damage until putting them on.

I swallowed when I thought about what might have happened had I not listened to my moto-guru, Nate, when he told me, "You can buy a cheap, shitty bike, but you have to spend top dollar on good safety gear. Don't ever skimp on it." My jacket and pants survived the incident. My helmet didn't, and neither did my gloves. I did, and did it in style. Lucky me.

I would have been unable to write at all if I hadn't been wearing all the good protection that generally keeps me uncomfortably warm and makes me look like the minion of some bad guy in B movie thrillers and action flicks... Money well spent. Sweat is good for you, after all.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hard Things, Good Things

Yesterday morning I got a call from Jim at Ace. He apologized to me, telling me he was very sorry, that the bike had yet to arrive and that he didn't know what had happened. He was clearly frustrated because he had waited until late the night before and the warehouse was closed, so he couldn't learn whether an emergency had arisen or they were planning on delivering that morning. Jim went on to say there was a chance the bike would arrive, but he didn't know if it would be early enough to get it prepped for me and didn't want to give me bad information.

Having worked in sales, I how hard a thing it is to make this kind of call. Jim did it, and while disappointed, I was certainly not disappointed in him. I told him I would wait for word.

Two hours later he called and told me the bike would be ready around two. I told him I would be in after that. He thanked me for my patience and apologized for the scare, to which I said, "I much prefer being told bad news up front, so thanks for that."

I showed up with my wife and daughter, who were made to feel very comfortable. Both were eyeing a Vespa, which kills me.

The bike was ready, the final paperwork took a half hour, I bought my new helmet and jaw-jacked a little with both Jims at Ace. McLaughlin gave me a thorough once-over about new bikes and the specifics of working them in.

Then I took my new bike for a ride.

Wow, is it sweet! Rider position is perfect for me, knees less bent than they were on the Four and I am actually standing when stopped, a comfortable posture all around.

I didn't crack the throttle until I got out on Marsh Creek Road, and even then I kept it under the 5000 RPM mark I was told to monitor to break her in. She sounds a bit reedy until you do get a little higher in the RPMs, at which point a deep Bwwaa sets in. She handles better, has more power and is more comfortable than the old bike. All around, a good thing.

Nice, very nice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Irritations and Good Things

The wrist is still uncomfortable and this morning's commute sucked the energy right out of me. People need to stay in their lanes.

I will be taking delivery of my new bike on Saturday afternoon, Jim McLaughlin at Ace Motorsports hung out past closing to do the deal with me last night. I only went around the price once, too tired and done to do a lot of dickering, and he went straight to the price he was willing to make for me. I felt it a good deal, and went for it. Can't wait to fork it, but I may have to wait a while, given the state of my wrist.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Have Some Amazing Friends

Mark Van Name, whom I met and befriended at last year's World Fantasy Convention, is doing something amazing for child soldiers, the announcement can be found here.