Monday, February 25, 2008

The Undiscovered County

I am off to Bakersfield, a city which is, to put it nicely, in the middle of nowhere. After interviews at both the District Attorney's and Public Defender's officies, I'll be back.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Temporarily Libertarian

Recently I joined the Libertarian party long enough to sign a petition attempting to add the Libertarian candidate to the upcoming Congressional elections. In a few weeks, assuming I remember to fill out the paper work, I will resume my lonely status as an independent.

To be perfectly honest, I have always regarded Libertarians as a little crazy. This inspite of the fact that I actually agree, in a general sense, with their laisse faire approach to government and personal responsibility. Even so, I think their policies ultimately require a faith in the capacity of humankind to restrain itself, a religion whose orthodoxy I consider suspect.

One may fairly ask, then, why I would sponsor this particular candidate. The answer is really quite simple, but yet not entirely what would be expected. It is true that I believe in the importance of choices. I think people should be allowed the widest range of options, and with the documented advantage incumbents already have in the political process, it falls to us as ordinary citizens to keep things honest. Thus, I would likely have done the same thing for any prospective candidate who had asked, so long as I was not actually opposed to their positions.

However, more than a dedication towards some vague notion of the value of choices, the fact is I am at heart a contrarian. Nothing bothers me more than that something, anything, should pass without opposition. Whether this is a virtue or a vice has yet to be completely figured out, yet I cannot deny this deep and abiding opposition to certainty.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Even so quickly may one catch the plague?

I think it perhaps ill-advised to draft the following post, but it is my hope that finished words may, in their certainty, provide definition and dimension to my dilemma, and therefore make of it a lesser matter.

This weekend at Dundracon I met a woman. Although encountering a person of the female persuasion at a gaming convention is no longer exactly the banner headline it may have been ten or so years ago, still it must be said that the hobby is, if not dominated, at least held quite securely in the hands of men. Nonetheless, it was not for gender, but rather character (by which I mean, in perhaps the single instance wherein the clarification would be necessary, her nature) that calls her still to mind.

She was, or rather I suppose must be "is", as I doubt her favorable qualities are of such brief duration, a remarkably interesting individual. Over the six hours she played in my event, I found her to be intelligent, engaging, and though perhaps a shallow observation it may be, attractive to distraction. One may entertain the odds of encountering a beautiful, clever, and lively woman with a love of Shakespeare, experience with the epee, and interest in gaming, but I think it safe to say it would be an exercise in the unlikely.

Given my luck, perhaps it would be even impossible that such a specifically favorable combination should have occured, were it not for one other descriptor that served to balance the karmic scales.


To say that is simply the nature of life seems a little unsatisfying, as I'm stting here writing this in the middle of the night rather than catching up on sleep no doubt shows. Right now infatuation rules the mind, and other concerns must orbit the periphery. Fortunately, in my experience this sickness will run its course in a week or so, and provided the source remains distant, re-infection is unlikely. Given long enough, a month maybe, time will even produce a more or less permanent vaccine against this particular strain.

Which brings me, conveniently, to my other problem. As would be appropriate for such a commendable person, her husband was also a man of admirable integrities. Gaming is a social event, and the quality of the experience hinges upon the interaction of the players. Although any six people can sit at a table and crawl through a dungeon, when you get the right line-up the experience can be almost transcendent. It may seem odd to speak of something many people no doubt picture as little more than a collection of nerdy stereotypes (and certainly many of those would be accurate), but a great game is really just a collection of great conversations. Every thing else is window dressing.

Unfortunately, truly memorable gaming sessions are as rare as they are enjoyable, and in that much depends on the players. Rarely do I meet people I think I'd have a really great time with, and as fate would have it, my little mental distraction and her good husband fit the bill. They even have a gaming group that meets with some regularity and, through some fit of insanity, invited me to join.

Although I am undeniably interested in playing, and at the convention I even already accepted, I think it might be better to just decline. It's not so much that I fear anything untoward would ever happen (if you had ever seen me, you wouldn't be worried about that either for, though like all men I have my favorable natures, there is little in me to endanger a happy home), or that I think passion will make the experience of gaming with them unbearable. In actuality, I expect this little infatuation to run its course in a few weeks. Even still, for the time being at least, I think it best to avoid her.

Which sucks, because I could really go for a good game.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dundracon Report

Apologies for what will be a short and inartful post, but I just woke up, and even with eight or nine hours of sleep already accumulated, am still behind in the aggregate, considering the whole weekend. Thus, after I spit out these few words, it is back to bed.

Friday is the first day of the show, and it doesn't really pick up until people can get there from work. I signed up for a game of Vampire, and even got in, but gave my seat to another player so that she could play with her boyfiend. Instead, I went and joined my brother's The Napoleonic Wars event. We got out two games, both of which ended in the first turn. I played Britain and then Turkey, and lost both times. Par, I assure you, for the course.

Saturday was a lot of fun. The two games I ran, In Nomine and Serenity, both went really well. In Nomine started off rockey, as I arrived almost twenty minutes late. To my surprise, there were still around ten people waiting to play. After apologizing to four of them (my game only held six), the remaining players selected characters and we were off. The adventure, having been structured with inherent group divisions, was certainly stacked against the players. But all performed well, and in the end we all agreed it was six hours well spent.

Later in the day I ran my Serenity event. I was somewhat hesitant about using the actual TV characters, and as I hadn't seen many other GM's offer it, I figured maybe I was making a big mistake. However, we ended up with an excellent group of players who quickly dispelled all doubts. Although I feel that they ultimately spent more time on the rather simplistic and admittedly inane plot than the character based divisions which I had hoped would serve as the focus of the game, that is really a minor issue and shouldn't indicate that it was anything other than a fantastic experience.

On Sunday I pretty much just drifted from one group of associates to another, abstaining from all invitations so that I didn't take one and thereby cause offense to another. Not that my attentions are so demanded; in fact, they could probably care less. Even so, I would feel badly having played in one friend's game and not another. So I just sat in and watched several games at once, and even participated in smaller events from time to time. Even though it wasn't quite as good as Saturday, Sunday was still a lot of fun.

Early Monday morning I went back home, slept, and now having woken up I wrote the above post. Being now quite tired, I return to sleep.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dundracon Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the start of Dundracon, a four day gaming convention held over President's Day weekend in San Ramon. I think, though I may be off by a year or two, that this will be my thirteenth attendance.

Every local convention has its own sense of identity. Conquest in September is more of a wargaming convention. Kublacon in May is a rising star with industry attendees and slick (or rather, slicker) production values. Dundracon, by contrast, is like an old shoe. Worn down by use, but still comfortable and functional.

Primarily a role-playing occasion, it can be hard to find a good wargame or CCG tournament at Dundracon. Although I think this, combined with its somewhat hostile and adversarial staff, inhibits its growth, to me it is a convenient liability. Because I do so little role-playing at the other conventions, I really look forward to Dundracon as an opportunity to indulge.

I am set to run two games this weekend. My first, The Innocent Must Suffer, is an In Nomine game centered around a group of angels hunting down one of their own. The second game is called Malcontents. It is a Serenity game that will use the characters from the Firefly TV show.

I hope to have a good time this weekend, which I usually do. Notes to follow upon my return.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pointless Factoid XXIII

Companies like Xerox and Kleenex make a point of distinguishing their brand name (Xerox) from their product (photocopiers) for fear of losing their trademark. In fact, many common words like elevator and escalator were once proprietary brand names.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy New Year

I think Chinese New Year is some time in the next week. I don't know what number the year is, but I think it's like five-thousand and something. In any case, happy new year.