Thursday, July 28, 2011

To Reno I Go...

In two weeks I head to the armpit of the nation, Reno NV! I lived there for about a year, made a few good friends, and happily left it for Northern California.

What draws me back to that which I name the festering crotch of the nation's arm and torso?

The World SF Convention, AKA Renovation.

Mike Resnick convinced me I must attend. Alistair Kimble will also be in attendance. As will Mark Van Name, John Scalzi, and a number of other names and luminaries of the industry (some of whom I have even been known to call friend).

It will be my first World SF and I do so look forward to a weekend of indulging my geek and basking in awe of the talent I know will be there.

If you are going, please add a comment below, and I will hunt you down.

If you ain't, well, that green-eyed monster I see behind you will just have to keep you company!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An End

So, last weekend I was running my Greedy Little Bastards campaign with a number of friends. As a life-long GM, I am pretty good at running a fair and fun night, else I would have no one willing to play in my particular sandbox.

That being said, I lost patience with one of the players and barked out a warning that I was tired, worked very hard to run a game all the players could enjoy, and that effort required respect, so please just comply with my ruling. After the below events, I checked in with the other players and the consensus appears that my ruling did not seem to warrant argument from the player.

I do not wish to detract from the fact that I shouldn't have shouted. That was improper and I regret it.

The player quit, then sent text after text to me for the next four hours, telling me my motives for treating him inappropriately. At the end, he told me that he was removing me from all his social media. I told him I felt that was a shame, that making such decisions at 0330 in the AM might lead to regret.

I regret his action. I regret losing my temper and shouting. Twenty-eight years seems a long time to simply toss in the dustbin over a disagreement regarding a game.

I have a number of buts I might place in here, but such would detract from what I am apologizing for.

I hope that there will come a day when we might say something like this to one another and to others:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Atmosphere

Most everyone I work with in the courts have received notice they are being laid off. The senior clerk and I look to be the only ones in the courtroom who will remain. Me, because I am under a different agency, her because she has twenty-five years experience.

Needless to say, the mood grows dark.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Some of My Recent Re-Write Work on The Last Captain

Venkman covered Baptiste as the younger man approached the loading area of the warehouse, shotgun ready. No movement, either from the street or the yawning opening of the loading bay.

Something electronic was arcing under the downed sign, creating flickering, intermittent light. Shadows danced despite the optics of his helmet, giving new life to the dead and distracting Venkman as he searched for threats. Forcing his gaze from the illusion of movement, Venkman focused on the areas his partner could not see in his approach.

Baptiste smoothly advanced about five more steps and knelt in the cover of the metal upright of the large roll-up door. Venkman saw his point of aim scanning across his front.

Clear! Baptiste signaled after a moment.

Before moving, Venkman gave a moment’s attention to his helmet systems as they updated. The perimeter was almost complete, with just the southern approaches uncovered.

Good enough.

Venkman advanced as quietly as his kit would allow. Four bodies lay on the road surface, none breathing. Lots of thick head-blood.

“Perimeter is almost set,” he murmured, drawing abreast of Baptiste.

Baptiste nodded.

Venkman pressed on, rounding the corner and entering the building at a fast, even clip.
The loading bay was darker than the street. Venkman’s helmet optics quickly adapted, supplying him with crisp images.

Two more dead men lay on either side of the opening, about a large vehicle’s width apart, their heads popped open by small arms fire. A third body lay a little beyond the first on the right.

No one standing or armed.

Venkman continued his circuit, hearing Baptiste adjust position to cover the inside of the building from the door. The move left Baptiste unable to observe what was happening on to his left rear.

Not safe, having your ass in the wind like that. Got to make this quick.

The big officer kept moving, quickly approaching the thin walls separating the loading area from the warehouse proper and glancing inside.

He looked back at Baptiste, signaling: Clear. Hold.

Baptiste’s response was a shift of his point of aim back to the street.

Venkman was collapsing on the door when a bubbling-wet cough drew him up short. He flicked his gaze to his left and saw a gout of blood spatter upward from the mouth of the man furthest from the entrance.


Venkman keyed his mic. “Got one breathing, sort of. Moving to render aid. Man is down inside the warehouse at my twenty.”

“Dispatch copies.”

“3D6D copies. Holding.” Baptiste, acknowledging.

Venkman hustled over, slinging the long gun and reaching for the medpad clipped to his harness. The stricken man lay still, eyes rolled up and part of his skull open to air. Thick, heavily-oxygenated blood seeped through the gangster’s long hair from the right side of his forehead back to above the ear.

Venkman went to one knee and looked for someplace to apply the medpad. The things weren’t generally intended for head injuries, as the technology was meant to prevent free bleeding, something that could be preferable to the clotting and swelling that was likely to result if a head wound was sealed prematurely.

Fuck it. Not like he’s breathing all that regular anyway. Any swelling should be less of a problem with half his brain dished out. He gingerly placed the medpad over the wound and activated it.

A steady amber LED appeared. Venkman tripped his mic again. “Victim is not breathing regularly. Single wound, looks like bullet entry and exit. Three centimeters along the right side of the forehead to just above the ear. Applied the medpad.”

“Dispatch copies. Starting countdown.” If the medpad didn’t show a green LED in the next minute, indicating the miniature cortex believed itself capable of saving the gangster’s life, Venkman could move on.

Never see the gangsters hanging with their supposed blood brothers for this, do I? No, it’s the cops and medics get to hold their breath and see if the dying will pull through. The thugs scatter like cockroaches with the light on, despite all the shit they talk about loyalty to the grave.

The light never came green. The kid didn’t breath again.

Damn it.

“No further life signs, medpad is amber. Moving.”


Venkman took up a position on the far side of the entrance, covering the rest of the street.



Friday, July 15, 2011

If I Had Powers Of The Mind, Things Would Be A Bit Different 'Round Here.

"I'm late, do something 'bout it. I need to know what you've already told everyone else. Repeat it just for me, I was sexting my mistress while you were talking."

Done, I glare.

Veins pop out in the asshat's neck as the air is cut off first. Hands begin to wave as the fool realizes the depth of his stupid. His mouth begins to gape even as his face turns purple. Impressive, the way the strings of snot braid themselves on the way from nose to ground.

A moment more and the limbs grow weak, the target staggers, cow-stupid eyes pleading.

Still I glare, forcing the issue to its inevitable, conclusion.

With a strangled sigh, the fight is won. A last few moments of legs drumming against the floor, then a puff of sulphur-yellow smoke dribbles from the ears.

I take a sip of water, "Anyone else want to ask stupid questions that have already been answered?"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oddments of Soul, Part Two of Two

Alright, so The Coolness, Kid and I leave the wondrous pizza place for the Hotel. We walked a different route than the one we'd taken to Old Town Pizza, and came across some ironic food-stall placement.

I had to get a photo, and left The Coolness and kid to get the following shot:

Yes, the further stall is "Smokin' Pig" while the nearer serves 'Arabic Food'. I could taste the irony.

As I walked to the crosswalk, a dark-haired woman stuck her head out the window of her silver SUV and called to me, "Do you work for the San Francisco Police Department Traffic Court?"

"Perhaps," I said, caught completely flat-footed.

"You are, aren't you. We both," she gestured at her male passenger, "got completely bogus tickets there."

"That's odd," I answered, trying for nonchalant. I was five hundred miles from where I work, in civilian dress, unarmed and wondering where the fuck this was going to go.

"Completely bogus," she repeated as the light changed and she turned onto the road in front of me. I heard her and her passengers braying laughter as they drove off. I waited a full minute before returning to my family.

Now I know many of you will think that I am missing the point; that this was one of those serendipitous moments, an odd happening that should cause wonder, not seem ominous.

I do feel that sense of wonder.

Tainted with dread.

The thing is, I didn't even issue either of the asshats tickets. I just told them, as a part of a large group, to keep their mouths shut and turn off cell phones.

They didn't stand out for me, though I vaguely remember a pair of people being found guilty, one after the other, for some infraction I don't recall (I do think they made the same argument and expected different results, if my very vague recollection serves.).

Now, some of you will know that I have arrested and enjoyed arresting more than a few murderers and other violent criminals. Many will, as a result of their sentences, see the light of day again.

This evening's events send a chill down my back, given that if this woman and her partner-in-infractions was motivated enough to recognize me in completely different circumstances, at least a month in the past and many hundreds of miles from the events that led her into contact with me, what does that say of a murderer or hardened criminal? Surely such people will be more motivated and have an actual reason to look for me, not to mention have more opportunity to study my face and mannerisms as I testify in their cases.

Such people are accustomed to doing harm to others, to attacking those that denied them something. Such people have a long time to think about what wrongs they feel have been done them, and by whom.

And if I am with my family when one has an opportunity, what then?

The woman had about fifteen seconds. That's a long, long time for someone with the ability and desire to wreak a little mayhem.

Fuck me what an oddly horrible thought to entertain on what was an otherwise great day.

Oddments Of Soul Part One of Two

Today we began our return from Seattle. We stopped in Portland and checked in at a nice hotel for the night.

Hungry, we set out for a Thai place suggested by the concierge as close to the hotel, good, and relatively inexpensive. I say set out because the Coolness picked up a brochure on the way out of the hotel. Within it's slick folds she found the description of "Old Town Pizza" wherein, it was said, was the most haunted of pizza places. The Coolness, she was sold immediately (little known uncool thing about The Coolness: she's a total ghost geek).

I had been hankering for some Thai, so I was a bit disappointed, but Isabelle lit up at the mention of pizza as she hadn't when asked if she wanted Thai.

Case closed.

We covered the ten short blocks of historic Portland in good time, Isabelle enjoying the freedom to walk after nearly three hours spent in the car, her parents the atmosphere of a town we have not visited before. Still, I was a bit nervous of the many street bums, but they proved much more polite than those of San Francisco.

We entered the restaurant and Isabelle immediately said, "Smells good."

Damn good.

We stood at the pizza-ordering counter and watched the chefs work while we decided what we wanted on our pizzas. I looked at the menu and discovered all the toppings of The Griffin, as my friends call the following:

Pesto base (not tomato sauce)
Italian sausage

Now, this is a specialty pizza that I concocted for myself at Rocco's Pizzeria in Walnut Creek, an excellent pizzeria. I have thoroughly enjoyed it there, so much so that I have ordered it for friends that don't mind a bit of spice in their food. It was them, not me, that named the pizza after me (they have ordered it many times since).

The Coolness and kid had a plain cheese.

A brief wait, then began THE GLORY!

I have had many pizzas in many different styles, in many different cities. I love the shit.

This was truly very close to a religious experience, and I don't go to church. Every bite was a pleasure: the sausage is made on site and has an excellent balance of heat and fennel, the pesto was glorious, the crust awesome and the overall experience was of pure enjoyment.

God, that was awesome.

Isabelle and The Coolness also enjoyed their pizza. Alas, none of the staff working that evening had experienced any run-ins with the supernatural entities that supposedly haunt the place from the 19th century, angry with being shanghaied by creative shipping magnates and their bosuns.

We told the bearded gent that had taken our order that we had a complaint. I could see him tense, and quickly told him, "I don't know that I will ever be able to equal that pizza. It was a wonder."

He smiled and laughed.

I told him I was serious.

He laughed some more.

We walked out. I, for one, miserable that I am unlikely to ever experience such bliss again.

Outside, and off duty, was one of the chefs we had seen working.

I thanked him as well, hiding my bitterness. He was gracious and asked that we spread the word. We promised we would.

So I wrote this.