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Life Medical News Relationships

Take Me Home

A year and half since I posted…

Let’s just say it was a needed break and while things are still being worked on, it’s time for me to come back out of my hole and say hi to all of you. Granted, I’m sure the number of people that will see this post is in the single digits now–is 0 still a single digit as it’s the null of numbers? Math nerds feel free to leave a comment teaching me the mystic arts of 0–but you gotta start somewhere.

It’s funny that the last lost I had was plans for last year that were almost dashed immediately. For a quick tl:dr:

  • broke up with my long term girlfriend which resulted in a major episode of depression and anxiety
  • now currently diagnosed with Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia
  • North Carolina is denying my disability status and we have discovered just how laughable and rigged it is here
  • Found out I had a completely detached rotator cuff for about a year and a half and had the surgery to fix it.

But the biggest news is that it’s official that I am head back to New Hampshire. For those that have been around a long time, you know how ecstatic this makes me. Even just the few times I visited since I moved away from New Hampshire on 2000, it always felt like home. I understood the people, I was comfortable with the people, and it has seasons and people that understand how to deal with snow and not be idiots.

The next couple of months will be going through belongs, packing, and trying to pare down as much as possible to make the move a light one. So I thought I would journal that story here and share the story of going home again.

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Art Life Medical Music News Projects Streaming Writing

2018: The Plan

I’ve meant to get this out for a couple of weeks now, but 2018 already started with the wrench throwing. But here is a quick rundown of what I want to do, in priority, this year (my hope is to start one each month to ease it in, but I want to make sure things that will be daily/weekly things become good habits before adding the next thing on top).

Reading & Writing

Last year, I tried to do both and didn’t get close to where I wanted. While I’m not going for the great series marathon of 2017 I’m still aiming for 52 books this year. I’m in two book clubs: the Literary Darkness group on Goodreads and one set up by the Twitch streamer Pumpkinberry. I’m hoping these two will help me stay motivated to keep reading. I had a strong start last year, and I’m hoping to better pace this year.

Writing is hard lately. There is a lot of anxiety in me when I try, and it’s hard to know how much of it’s a mental thing, how much is an after effect from the chemo, and the wobbly area where the two intersect. While after the transplant it took a while to get the old tale-spinner whirling again, I got there. Post-chemo is much different and much harder. I feel like I get my mind focused and ready, but as I sit to write, everything I learned and trained since, at the very least, college is lost. This is probably the most consuming factor of my life this year. I’ve spent most of my adult life to become a writer. If for some reason I can’t, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.

Social Media

There was a time I was doing it all: tweets, facebooking, heck, I even tried to game Klout (is that still a thing, or did people finally wise up to the sham that it was?). Since the transplant, my presence online has been spotty at best. I think the most active I’ve been was last year when I was doing art on Instagram. I would like to get back to at least more consistent on the various platforms. I’ve tried to organize and clear up where I can to make them feel more useful and engaging for me and hoping I can reset and restart this year.

Art

Piggybacking on the social media, I want to get back to my art. I stopped abruptly last year, and I do miss it. Having that extra creative outlet is helpful. While a piece a day might be more than I can handle with all the other things I want to do, I’ll probably aim for 2-3 pieces a week.

Music

I have a lot of unfinished projects I started last year. I want to finish a few of them up and possible come out with an EP by the end of the year. If I get going, I may even try to make a Christmas album. Two things that stopped me were 1.) Learning a lot of new programs at once and never sitting down one at a time and 2.) I couldn’t find my Sibelius program. During a moving of rooms at the end of last year, I found my copy, and now it will just be waiting and saving so I can get the much more inexpensive upgrade than buying it a new.

Game Design

People that have paid close attention know I’ve danced with various forms of game design. This year I want to make more concerted efforts. One way is to design adventures and campaigns, probably for D&D 5th, but I wouldn’t mind making them for FFG’s Star Wars games. If I can get a hold of the core book, I may even try my hand at the new Genesys game since it’s based on the Star Wars system.

Another way is to design my own game, Angst & Ennui. I’ve already started a series of short campaigns of Powered by the Apocalypse games since that is the engine I’m planning to use. I want to play them and look at how some of the mechanics both just as a mechanic, but also how it fits in the theme of the game. Angst & Ennui will be interesting in that it’ll be based on teen television shows. I’ll go more into that in the future.

Future Possibilities

Those are the main things I want to do, but not the only things. If everything works out, I have more ideas and plans, including:

  • Streaming and Videos: I would love to find time to stream games again, but there is a lot to that in both time and energy investment. But one goal is to not just stream, but to have a show for writers and looking at ways games, and possibly other media or art, are tools to help write a story. Of course, I come up with this idea just as YouTube screws up how it monetizes videos and Twitch is less viable for new content everyday. So it will take a lot of time and research before I get that started.
  • Arkham Horror LCG content: This is both content for the game itself and an idea I had for the blog here. Since it’s has a lot of role-playing involved and that there are multiple outcomes depending on what happens in play, I thought it would be fun to run through the game and fictionalize the gameplay as a post. I may wait till the current campaign wraps up so that there is a lot of leeway to limit spoilers for people.

Things That Could Get In The Way

Since last February, I have dealt with a shoulder injury. The diagnosis was an injury and physical therapy would do the trick. While it got better, it never stopped hurting. Also, after doing moving in the house for most of December, my shoulder felt worse. The possibilities of either shots or surgery are high. If it ends in surgery, I know I could be out for a while, and it being my dominant arm, it could get in the way of a few of my plans.

So that’s my game plan for the year. I’m not holding myself to get it all done, defining the goals and expectations is helpful. And hopefully this will mean I have more to talk about this year on here and it won’t seem so quiet.

Categories
Books Nerd Stuff Tabletop Games Thoughts

Arkham Horror: Hour of the Huntress

Well, my year of reading series got away from me. I’m not sure if I will pick it back up next year. Most of the year consisted of evaluating my life, discovering new facets, rediscovering old ones, and trying to find out who I am now that I’m 35.

Huh…is this what a mid-life crisis is like? At least I spent money on games and not a high-maintenance, gas-guzzling metaphor for a fragile self-image of youth that my mind can’t learn to separate and mature into real adult.

Anyway, I decided to bring back something I haven’t done in a long time: book reviews. I stopped years back because I’m the kind of person that is very matter of fact about writing. I devoted years of my life to it, it’s important to me. But one of the things that got in the way was becoming friends with more writers, but I wasn’t down with the idea, that it’s better to say, “Good effort! I finished reading it, five stars,” than to actually review or critique a book. Now, I won’t go into my VERY long diatribe about book reviewing in all it’s permutations. Possibly, one day, I’ll dig up my old post about it and revise it some. But lets just say that most books that get five stars these days really shouldn’t, in fact most entertainment that gets high ratings shouldn’t get it—that may be a diatribe for a post in the near future after watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I understand why it happens from both a selling standpoint and making the algorithms on Amazon work better. Unfortunately, I find it all a lie and have better things to do with my life than live by those lies.

I tend to be happier than many people, too.

At some point, I know I will get to the part I have worried over for too long—reviewing friends’ work—but for this post, I’m gonna go easy on myself as I wade back into these waters.

Title: Hour of the Huntress
Author: David Gross
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Pages: 109
Genre: Mystery/Horror

This year, I dived pretty deep into the new Arkham Horror card game from Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a new game based on the company’s take on the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. The games are quite fun, whether you are a Lovecraft fan or not, but the intriguing aspect is the amount of lore FFG created through the life span of these games, including the multitude of characters you play. Hour of the Huntress is the first in a series of novel(la)s—more on this is a minute—that give us an origin story, of sorts, of these characters an explains how they become the characters you play in the various games,  investigating eldritch horrors beset upon the world by unknowable cosmic forces.

First off, this is probably not a book you will want to read if you aren’t at least invested in the games, even if it’s small amount. As a media tie-in book, it’s designed for a specific audience and I can think of very few that can speak to anyone who picks it up and reads it. Now that is not to say you can’t, because Jenny Barnes, the main character, is a pretty awesome lady. As I read, I thought she would be an amazing partner for Peggy Carter of Avengers fame. She is an interesting character to read. But the book’s resolution doesn’t transition into another linear story, which hampers the enjoyment for a non-Arkham Horror fan. With other tie-in books, those stories wedge into another linear story and the book is an experience that informs the pre-existing story. Even RPG tie-ins are usually based on a meta-narrative and the characters of those stories the players will interact with, but the players won’t be in the game. Here, though, the story that comes after the book is one of five six different games that aren’t set stories and the reader could take control of Jenny Barnes in missions that are replayed over and over, each a different experience than the last. Trying to setup an open-ended transition isn’t inherently bad. In fact, Gross’s execution is well-crafted, but it’s a challenge that demands a compromise in storytelling because a more satisfying ending could’ve been possibly if it didn’t have to transition into a board game or five.

Second, the length of the story felt off. I’m unsure of the exact word, but I’d be surprised  if it was over 50,000 words, riding the line between novella and novel. And I really wish it was longer by another 10,000 words. Story structure-wise, everything is there you want in a story, but there was something noticeable missing that’s inherent in anything verging on Lovecraftian: atmosphere. From Lovecraft, to Clark Ashton Smith, to Brian Lumley, authors that have written in the Mythos always make atmosphere a central facet of the story, since it’s the atmosphere that best conveys the foreboding nature of cosmic horror that the basis of the Mythos. There are some great moments in Hour of the Huntress, but they few and far between that by the time you get to the climax of the story, payoff of the cosmic horror isn’t as strong as you’d hope if you are coming right off from At the Mountains of Madness.

But, as a first offering of an ongoing series, it’s not a bad book. The writing is clear and well paced. I was an entertaining read and easily read in one sitting. I don’t know if the author played much of the new card game before writing this, but it was fun for me to be reading and think to myself, “Oh, that card was just played,” as the events unfolded. For what it’s supposed to do, which is give a short narrative of a fan favorite character of a board game, it did the job well. Could this be a way to get new people into the Arkham Horror games? I don’t know. I feel like that is always a test for media tie-ins. As much as you are giving back to the fans, you want to entice new people as well. I would love to hear if this book helped convince someone try one of the games, Because Jenny is a great character to read, and she is equally fun to play and book nails what it’s like to play her in those games.

Categories
Nerd Stuff Pro Wrestling

Fantasy Booking: Asuka’s Road To Wrestlemania

One of the things that grabbed me when I came back to wrestling in March was Asuka. I have no doubts that she will go down as one of the greatest women wrestlers, if not just one of the greatest wrestlers period. The story she had while in NXT (WWE’s developmental brand) was that she’s so dominant that she was undefeated. She never lost a match. She only gave up the NXT Woman’s Championship because she was injured and wouldn’t be able to defend, so she relinquished it. This Sunday she is going to premiere as a WWE main roster talent for Raw at the TLC PPV. What I want to do is something called fantasy booking. Think of it like predicting the storyline of a character rather than just the outcome of a single match. I will admit that I got into it from two great YouTubers, Oli Davis and Luke Owen of the Wrestletalk channel.

A few ground rules:

  • Nothing is changed storyline-wise on Raw. We are going with the current state as of last night’s episode.
  • I’ll be going by months instead of weeks since this is all the way to Wrestlemania in April.
  • The rumor of the Jinder Mahal v. Brock Lesner match at Survivor Series is true.
  • Assumes the last Raw PPV is Roadblock on December 3rd (though I could see then doing a New Years PPV).
  • Assumes the Raw PPV after Royal Rumble is Elimination Chamber.

October

At TLC, the match with Emma is short, despite the #GiveEmmaAChance hopefuls. It won’t be a squash match with Emma getting a few good spots in, but that dominating presence of Asuka will be on display and the idea that she is an indomitable force is the story of the match. The other women were excited to fight Asuka until they watch that night, except Bayley and Alexa. Bayley is shot a little away from the others giving the slightest shake of her head as they watch the match, while Alexa gets visibly worried. Despite her worry though, Alexa retains her title against Mickie James

The following Raw is another destruction match with either Alicia Fox or Dana Brooks to boost the idea from the PPV for everyone that didn’t watch it the night before. We see also get two backstage segments with Bayley and Sasha Banks in one and Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax in the other. Bayley and Sasha are discussing the upset Asuka brought to division. Sasha is pumped and ready to fight her, where Bayley is a bit more cautious and realistic about Asuka being there, since she fought her in NXT and lost the title to her. Alexa convinces Nia that she needs to deal with Asuka next week because she’s “afraid Asuka will take the title opportunity we’ve been working towards” for Nia. This results in a match the next week between Asuka and Nia. This is a good match with a few spots that seems like Nia might get an upper-hand, but ultimately Asuka gets the win in less that 8 mins. That victory is sort of a wake up call to the rest of the women since Nia had been the imposing force up until now.

November

Leading up to Survivor Series, we get an announcement that there will be a women’s Raw v. Smackdown Survivor Series match and the winner of the match will get a title shot and the next brand PPV for the brand’s championship. If there is more than one survivor, there will be a match on the next Raw or Smackdown to determine the #1 contender.

To determine the participants there will be one-on-one matches where the winners advance, and then a Fatal 4 Way to determine the fifth member. Alexa has been petitioning a get a match with the current Smackdown Women’s Champion like the Jinder v. Brock match. Meanwhile, Asuka is making it known she is coming for the Raw Women’s title. The one-on-one Asuka match would’ve been with Bayley–lots of hype as a rematch from NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II–but it never happens as her music plays, but she doesn’t come out. Cut to backstage and we see Asuka laying on the ground, looking like she was attacked from behind. Kurt Angle is trying to figure out what happened when he catches Alexa wearing Asuka’s mask. He denies her the match she wanted and tells her she is defending her title against Asuka at Survivor Series. Bayley gets a by, which doesn’t sit well with Sasha.

As for the Survivor Series match, the Raw side wins with Bayley, Sasha, and Nia surviving. The Alexa v. Asuka is solid 10+ minutes match, including interference from Nia at times to help Alexa from getting pinned and trying to wear down Asuka, but ultimately Asuka wins the title. The following Monday is both the rematch for the Women’s Title and the Triple Threat match for the match at Roadblock. The Triple Threat is brutal as Bayley and Sasha do everything to knock out Nia, but through all this build up the tension between the two is getting hot, especially since Bayley wants Asuka since she didn’t get her rematch before Survivor Series and Sasha doesn’t feel like Bayley should even be there since she didn’t have to fight in the first place. So they team up to put Nia out including a spot where Sasha gets Nia in the Bank Statement, but muscles out of it into a slam which lets Bayley, incredibly, do the Bayley-to-Belly on Nia and goes for the pin before Sash breaks it. Then we have a good fight between Sasha and Bayley where Sasha wins with a variant Bank Statement trapping the injured arm of Bayley.

December

Roadblock kicks off the month and the week before was a lot of bluster from Sasha about being the roadblock to Asuka’s continuing undefeated streak. Bayley is trying to help Sasha get ready, but Sasha doesn’t value the advice, which is seen in a tag match between Sasha/Bayley v. Asuka/Emma–Emma is trying to be a friend to Asuka much like the Alexa/Nia relationship. At Roadblock, the match between Sasha and Asuka is a good fight. Bayley is at ringside and as Asuka is hitting her spots, she makes sure to get Bayley’s attention, possibly recalling spots from their Brooklyn II match. Bayley is a mixture of concern for Sasha and anger at Asuka. But the match ends with Asuka winning the match.

For the rest of the month, Asuka promos about being undefeated while the rest of the women’s division has to up their game to match Asuka. Asuka has short feuds with Mickie James and Dana Brooks while Bayley and Sasha have their feud where Sasha can’t believe Bayley didn’t help her get the title at Roadblock and Bayley defending herself about how she tried to help before but Sasha blew her off. At some point, Alexa comes back after being out with injury. She has things to deal with, like a Nia Jax that never got her shot at the title like Alexa promised. But the surprising part is when she comes to Bayley and asks for that help Sasha turned down. It’s a hard choice, but Bayley agrees. It is not a cohesive partnership as they are exact opposites. Eventually there is a tag match of Bayley/Alexa v. Sasha/Asuka where Bayley and Alexa exhibit that personality conflict as a team, but despite that work well, but the match ends with Asuka pinning Alexa.

January

The big announcement is that there will be a 20 women Royal Rumble match, and the winner will have a Wrestlemania match for their brand title. Participants will be from Raw, Smackdown, and NXT. Most of January is all about matches to qualify for the Rumble match. At the Rumble, the ending of the match is Bayley, Sasha, and Becky Lynch and Bayley wins with a surprise toss out of both Sasha and Becky. The story going on from here is finally the rematch of Asuka and Bayley at Wrestlemania.

February

With Raw getting the Elimination Chamber this year, more history is made with the first Women’s Elimination Chamber match for the Raw title. The build will be Asuka against Sasha, Alexa, Nia, Emma, and Mickie James with Asuka retaining with a pin on Emma after Emma steals an elimination on Alexa from Asuka.

March/April

The long road to Wrestlemania starts and the idea is to alternate the opponents of Bayley and Asuka each week to boost up the hype of the dominance of Asuka, who is getting close to 200 days undefeated since premiering at TLC, and showing a new, more intense side of Bayley determined to not have a repeat of the last time she fought Asuka. At the actual match, they go a full 20 minutes with Bayley showing off a few new moves including a bear hug move called the Bayley Hug, which she goes to a couple of times and wins off a Bayley-to-Belly as counter-reversal to Asuka escaping the hug.

That’s how I would work Asuka for the long-run and refreshing a great rivalry while using smaller rivalries to set it all up. And I think the undefeated part is the strongest this with Asuka and since Baylee was the one that lost for NXT Women’s championship, having the reversal happen at Wrestlemania isn’t just a great story for both characters, but it also evens the score that can be the start for an epic third match between the two at a later date, possibly Summer Slam.

Categories
Nerd Stuff Pro Wrestling

SummerSlam 2017 Predictions

As I mentioned before, I’ve delved back into pro wrestling. I have a few ideas of other wrestling posts in the near future, but as this Sunday is SummerSlam, I thought I would write down my predictions for the massively long PPV. It’s going to be a crazy six hours on Sunday, if you are watching, find me on Twitter where I’ll most likely be adding my comments to the events.

Note: Two things will set my prediction apart from others you’ll see online. 1.) I have only been watching since Wrestlemania, so I know there is a lot that has happened in the last year that may also be affecting outcomes that I just have no idea about. 2.) I’m a story guy, I hope that WWE is also story people too since they’re all about entertainment, so I’m coming at this as a writer and how I see the character developing and what would make the most sense. I know there is a lot of business and politics that can change things from what seem narratively more satisfying, but I don’t keep up on all of it. I’m not expecting to be 100% right, but I think, right or wrong, these would be the best stories for the characters.

Non-Title Matches

Big Show v. Big Cass

This match is what I’m calling the “You must be ‘this’ tall to compete” match. It’s funny because when they announced that Enzo Amore was getting locked in a cage above the ring, all I though about the was the old Raw episode I saw a few months ago with Bret Hart and Issac Yankum with Jerry “The King” Lawler in the same situation. What will be interesting is how much of history will repeat itself. Last Monday, Cass, with the help of Gallows & Anderson, broke Big Show’s hand so he can’t pull off his Knockout Punch. The setup being that Big Show is now weaker and if you went with pure statistics, Cass should win. But this is wrestling. What we have to look at are the changes going on with the characters. While I could see them actually repeating that Hart/Yankum match, where Enzo drops a foreign object into the ring as an equalizer for Show, I kind of hope they don’t. I don’t think Cass is as over as a heel as many think. If it’s not a clean finish for Show, it’s going to prolong this feud and I think people are turning off to it all. If it’s not a clean finish for Cass, due to Enzo’s interference, I think it would still continue the feud. There is part of me that thinks that is what will happen. In a six-hour show, dirty finishes keep the show from becoming too monotonous. As a gimmick match, it’s set up for a dirty finish. But I think if they want to make Cass more accepted as a singles heel, he’s going to win the match clean, letting Big Show take the pin to pass the torch to Cass as the giant gimmick for the company.

Jason Jordan & The Hardy Boys v. The Miztourage (kickoff)

As much as I love the Hardys, I am not looking forward to this match. It’s really more about Jason Jordan and continuing to get him over as Kurt Angle’s illegitimate son with this feud with The Miz. Plus, there was no build up to the Hardys involvement to this except for them randomly helping Jordan this past Monday. On a card that was already bursting, one more match wasn’t really needed. Especially since this is one of the four major PPVs and the Intercontinental Championship isn’t being defended. Now, that’s possibly because they are trying to set up Jordan for a run at the title later, but I think that it would have been better to have shorten the “Kurt Angle’s Secret” angle and brought Jordan over sooner to have this be the championship match. I don’t think they could prolong it till Survivor Series and it feels like a lot of the meaning and prestige of the title is lost if it’s relegated to the B-show PPV. That being said, I think the match favors The Miztourage. Monday’s version of this match was a fast-paced win for Jordan/Hardys, which would tend to give the heels more momentum to win that the babyfaces.

Finn Bálor v. Bray Wyatt

Meanwhile, this is a match I can’t wait to see. I dipped my toe back in 2014 and one of the wrestlers I liked back then was Bray Wyatt. I loved him and the The Wyatt Family since it was a great modern gimmick that called back to The Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness back in the 90’s. Unfortunately, not a lot kept me watching back than–one wrestler is not enough. Coming back in now, I discover Finn Bálor. He is probably one of my current favorite wrestlers currently. But I didn’t know anything about him, it was simply based on his in-ring talent. After a few months I discover he has this whole Demon King persona that comes out from time to time. And I knew at some point a match would be made between these two. Now I know there are some that don’t care for the supernatural gimmick of Wyatt and don’t want that the reason for The Demon King to come back, but I think that is actually a perfect setup. This is like Undertaker/Kane throughout the Attitude Era. That being said, I think this progress match will decide a lot. I could even see this being a match that may have finish change during the match. I say that because I think this is a longer feud on paper. Bray’s had a hard time recently and Finn is getting back into the title picture for when WWE finish the Lesner, Strowman, Reigns, and Joe gangbang. So, I think this feud is a development storyline. With that, it means it has to have a reason to keep going after Summer Slam and I don’t see a way of that happening with Bálor winning. But, if the match goes like Wyatt’s matched that have gone for the last few months, I could see them making it a Finn win and the feud ends Sunday.

Rusev v. Randy Orton

What’s interesting about this match is Randy Orton. Towards the end of the last time I watched wrestling, Orton was on his “Legend Killer” kick and such, so basically he always won. It’s why I had a hard time enjoying him because it was so predictable. So it was surprising to see Orton lost the last four PPVs in a row. Which makes the outcome of this one a bit suspect. On one hand, I can’t see them letting Randy lose five PPVs in a row. If they did, I’m not sure that it actually helps Rusev for any future title shots since Orton’s perceived standing seems low. Then again, Rusev only just came back, so he needs to solidify where on the card WWE wants him. Unless there is something big that either happens Sunday night or on the following Smackdown that will push Rusev into a new feud, Randy wins this one.

John Cena v. Baron Corban

Baron Corbin is in a weird place. His feud and matches with Shinsuke were awful. He just blew his Money in the Bank cash-in. And two weeks ago, the Smackdown crowd chanted “Dumpster Fire” to him. I don’t know how much lower you get in pro wrestling. There is nothing helping him now, and a lose here I think could end whatever main event possibilities in his future. But his opponent is John Cena. To have Cena lose to him seems very off, plus, I don’t think it would get Corban over anyways. What is in Corban’s favor is that Cena is a free-agent–meaning he can switch between Raw and Smackdown rosters–so that moving target presence makes Cena a better high-profile guy to get him over than the ones solidly on Smackdown. There are a lot of people saying that Cena is moving over to Raw after Sunday, so that would make it likely that Corban wins. I can see that, but i think it hurts Corban more winning than losing at this point. If he wins, what does that gain him. The only guy he beat possibly gone from the show anymore for months, he lost his ace card in the MitB contract, and the audience think he is a dumpster fire. He has no setup for a feud after Sunday, so I think he’ll lose and then be off TV for a bit while all the new storylines get started and gain traction and then something will develop out of the roster that is free.

Raw Title Matches

Tag Team Championship – Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose v. Sheamus/Cesaro (c)

I never knew The Shield. My last look at WWE that I spoke of was after they broke up, so they were still dealing with the fallout from that. When Dean and Seth reunited after weeks of build up, I knew it was important, but it didn’t mean much to me. But I think that also helps because there is so much fan love behind them and other’s predictions that it may cloud over what I see happening now. Sheamus and Cesaro, while a good tag team, are running out of steam. With WWE breaking up tag teams, it’s getting a little tired to see the same matches end the same way, week after week. With The Revival out of the picture, I think more than ever they needed the Shield back together to have a team that would create new matches to watch. Since the Hardy’s seem stuck with Jason Jordan for an undetermined amount of time, Cass and Enzo broken up, Golden Truth broken up, The Miztourage also caught up with Jordan, all that’s left is Gallows & Anderson. So I think there is more stock in having The Shield win the titles and feud for another month or more with Sheamaro while hopefully the rest of the tag division frees up.

Cruiserweight Championship – Neville v. Akira Tozawa (c) (Kickoff)

Up until Monday, I was ready to say that it would Akira Tozawa winning the championship. Then they decided to have that match on Raw, where Akria won. Then they decide to have the rematch at SummerSlam. First, can WWE stop having the matches to build up to the same match at the PPVs. While one could say the same thing about the Bálor v. Wyatt match, I can see a longer storyline developing there and it paved the way for the return of The Demon King, so there were going to be intrinsic differences to the Raw match and the SummerSlam one. But this one is basically going to be the same, the only difference will be how the match ends, which will be gone over in detail on Raw the next night. So very little left to make me go see the match. that being said, where do I think the title will land. Neville has had a long reign as champion and is an impressive fighter. I like where they are going with the loss of the title almost breaking him and I think that should play out. There is more there than just a week’s worth. Also, Tozawa has everything a good champion needs, and there has been so much “takesy-backsy” title swaps that I think it’s best for the title to hold on Tozawa for a while. I think that could deepen what’s going on with Neville and if anything may let him find a way to transition as a full Raw roster member and taking on bigger guys like The Miz or Jason Jordan. I think Neville has everything that guys like Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero had to be more than just cruiserweight fighters.

Women’s Championship – Sasha Banks v. Alexa Bliss (c)

While this match was Bayley v. Alexa until injury took the hugger out, Sasha has been there for the set up as well since she is Bayley’s best friend. Sometimes I think took much because it exposed how badly WWE were doing with the Bayley character in promos and certain spots *cough*kendo stick*cough* I haven’t seen a lot of Bayley during her NXT time–something else I’m catching up on as I never saw any of it after the Nexus angle–I’ve seen enough to see how Raw totally missed on why Bayley worked. Honestly, I kind hope she gets traded over to Smackdown where I think her character would fit in better with that environment. That said, I would say that even thought the match was only setup this past Monday, there’s been enough backstory to see this match happening. Sasha has as much beef with Alexa as Bayley does and now she gets the PPV chance to deal with it. But will she win? I have a feeling Alexa is going to retain here. And the reason I say that is because of Nia Jax. It’s been a while since Alexa promised Nia a shot at the title if she helped Alexa, so it’s possible that it’s been dropped, but there is still a team mentality between them that you can’t count Nia out during a match. Granted, Alexa has proven that she can keep the belt on her own most of the time, but since Nia was so close on Monday, I think that is going give more fuel to the fire than keep her backstage through the match. But even if she does stay out of it, I think Alexa is going keep because I think she’s proving to be a good heel champion. They may also want to wait and give Bayley that match once she’s healed or have storylines to get other women like Emma, Dana Brooke, or Mickie James a spotlight with Alexa, I think there is more there if Alexa keeps than if there is a title switch.

Universal Championship – Samoa Joe v. Braun Strowman v. Roman Reigns v. Brock Lesner (c)

The big match. I think this is the one most people are tuning in to see. While I mentioned above that I don’t really keep up too much on the business end of wrestling, it’s hard not to read or hear about this match without knowing the leak of Brock Lesner possibly going back to UFC at some point. Even if you just stuck to what was on Monday night’s, Paul Heyman has peppered that leak into his promos for Brock for the 2-3 weeks. Which makes me thing that any booking of Brock losing the title are wrong. This is something that has been a trait of WWE since the I’ve watched it back as a kid: The more a guy promos a certain outcome will happen do to a match result, the exact opposite result happens. A recent example I saw was the Caribbean Strap Match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Salvio Vega where Ted DiBias but his career on the line. WWE doth protest too much. His promos had no room for doubt that Austin would win, but Vega won and DiBiase went to WCW. Now you have Heyman promoing hard that if Brock loses, because this is all a setup to strip Brock of the title, both Brock and Heyman will leave the WWE, I don’t see how this means Lesner is going to drop the title. A number of close calls, for sure, and I think we are going to see more of a feud start between Strowman and Lesner out of this, but Brock will still be Universal Champion at the end.

Smackdown Title Matches

Tag Team Championship – The Usos v. The New Day (c) (kickoff)

This is about as straight a match as you can get. The New Day (Rocks!) won the titles at Battleground and this is the rematch. Both of the teams have a lot of character and personality and are possibly some of the best tag teams in WWE history. They have had a good feud going from before Battleground and I think this is going to be the wrap up match. That being said, I don’t see them taking the titles away. The Usos reign had them battle with everyone that’s still a tag team, currently, between Wrestlemania and Battleground. The New Day are new on Smackdown and haven’t gone through the roster yet. So I think thee is more mileage out of The New Day retaining. But you know what, it almost doesn’t matter because this will be a great match to watch.

United States Championship – Kevin Owens v. AJ Styles (c)

This is tricky since there have been so many moments that have either seemed like mistakes or unplanned finishes that it’s hard to see where they want to take this. Add to that we have Shane McMahon as the special referee who has a past with Styles, but in the last two weeks both contestants have clocked him, by accident of course, to play up the idea that while he’s not impartial, but he at least has a reason to screw over both of them. So I guess that means it’s a fair fight. But what is keeping me from saying that Owen will win is the spot on Smackdown a few weeks ago where Shinsuke Nakamura came into AJ Styles locker room and told him he would be coming for the US title at some point. If Nakamura doesn’t win his match with Jinder Mahal–detailed below–I think that sets up a feud with Styles and Nakamura, maybe going all the way to Survivor Series. But the other thing to think about is the set up of Owens. His multiple reigns in the last few months has set up a feud with at least management, if not Shane directly. Also, we just saw a Shane/AJ feud, I think it too soon to dip back into that bucket. All that seems to be pushing something happening to Owens, which means not winning the title.

Women’s Championship – Natalya v. Naomi (c)

Unlike the WWE Championship, we still have a Money in the Bank cash-in waiting in the wings for this title. Carmella has been quiet during the time James Ellsworth’s ban from Smackdown, and the moment he came back, they both have targeted Naomi. A lot of people don’t think that WWE will waste another cash-in after the Corban botch, but I don’t see how they can prolong it any further. If they had put Carmella in more matches and made her seem like a competitor while Ellsworth was gone, I could see that. It would be her doing the job until she finds the right moment to cash in. But now, she only exists for the cash-in. That’s the push they’re giving her. And what’s a shame is that I think it’s going interfere with a good match. Natalya is a hell of a competitor and this PPV will make her the most consistent woman performer at PPVs in WWE history, beating Trish Stratus’ record. She also hasn’t held a title in years. I think Nattie has earned another shot as champion and she could do some great stuff as one. But Natalya is also a Hart, so it’s hard for me not to see this being the outcome: Towards the end of the match Naomi starts to pick up steam and looks to close out the match with a win, when Ellsworth does something to interfere and knock out Naomi. Natalya doesn’t see it and gets Naomi in the Sharpshooter and Naomi taps. Nattie either holds the Shooter or is basking in the glory of winning and doesn’t see Carmella and Ellsworth come in clock her out cold. Carmella cashes in, gets the 1-2-3 and ladies and gentlemen, we have our very own Brooklyn Screwjob.

WWE Championship – Shinsuke Nakamura v. Jinder Mahal (c)

Since Corban botched the Money in the Back cash-in, we know the champion will be either of these two. I think there are a lot of people hoping Nakamura wins, I don’t think this is the time. But there is one thing I’ll be interested in seeing first before I know my prediction is rock solid: where on the card the match happens. Since Mahal became champion, he hasn’t the same main event run you would expect for the champion of the company. Most of the time he’s been in a main event on Smackdown it’s because who ever he’s up against is a main eventer. Shinsuke also has had a weird push, too, with badly booked feuds with Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corban. And while there was some setup for this match, it’s a little less than 2 weeks. That says to me this is another development match and status quo will stay the same. I will say, if we see this match before hour three, it’s gonna be short match and Jinder definitely going to keep the title. If WWE does honor to the belt at stake, this will be one of the last matches on the card and could be a good brawl, but I still think the Modern Day Maharaja will be victorious.

Those are my thoughts, how do you think it will all play out?

While I’m not doing NXT Takeover Brooklyn III predictions, I will be watching it tonight, so make sure to follow me on Twitter if you want some fun commentary.

Categories
Books Life Medical Nerd Stuff News Projects Relationships Streaming Tabletop Games Video Games Writing

It’s Been A While

Hey! Well, so much for a easy, but constant posting schedule. Since my last post in March, it has been a crazy ride. So I thought I would do a quick post of drive-by updates which I plan to write more in-depth posts later:

  1. Mass Effect Andromeda was meh – I did finish the game within a week, though I didn’t stream the last 1/4 – 1/3 of it. The reason being was that there was a lot of boringness that made for a boring stream and I kinda wanted to finish the game and move on.
  2. Another reason for me to not like summer –  Listen, I’m not a summer guy, never really was. I’m a human space heater, so the addition of more heat is the last thing I want–even worse down here in the south. But one of the things I’ve noticed since the chemo is that I have a very hard time getting to sleep the deeper into summer I get. The last few months have been a wreck of sleepless nights only to fall asleep and sleep a day away. And that makes planning to get things done tough when you don’t know when you’ll get rest, need to work through being exhausted but restless, and are dealing with normal, day-to-day events that don’t care if/when you slept.
  3. Bum shoulder – Since February, I’ve been dealing with a pain in my shoulder. Turns out it was a rotator cuff muscle injury. Luckily, nothing needing surgery, but it’s been a long haul–couldn’t even raise my arm 90 degrees at the start. But it’s getting better, but it’s taking a lot things of the table since I couldn’t use my arm.
  4. Writing again – My best friend, Chris, has tasked me to write him a story and writing only 3 sentences a day. I’ll be honest, between the the sleep, arm, and various life things, I haven’t been as diligent. But, I think I’ve finally fixed some of that and I’m hoping to get back on track. It’s currently a sci-horror story about memory. It’s more horror than sci-fi, so not sure where I’m gonna be able to send it once it’s finished. But I gotten get it written first, and I gotta keep reminding myself about that.
  5. Reading again – I didn’t mean to, but around mid-February I just stopped reading. There were lots of things going on to distract me, but the main part was that I just hit a focusing wall and it was hard to stay engaged with anything written. But I gave it a go a few days ago and it’s been easier. Doubt I’ll get through 53 books this year, but if I can cut a few more books from my shelves this year, it’ll be worth it.
  6. Discovering new loves – No, me and Sammy are doing great–coming up on 9 months now–this is about hobbies and interests. I love games, but I’ll admit I was getting a little bored and/or burned out on video games, tabletop RPGs, and board games. A while ago, I got into Star Wars: The Card Game, but finding people interested in playing it was hard. So it didn’t stay on my radar for long. But I needed something different and decided to give it another shot. Luckily, the game shops around me are really supporting it now and I’ve found there is a decent player base in the area. I’ve yet to make it to one of the weekly get-togethers, but at least I know it’s there when I can. From that, too, I discover Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Now I love Arkham Horror: The Board Game, but let’s be honest, the setup and procedure of playing is a lot. You gotta dedicate time to playing that game. What’s awesome about the new Living Card Game is that it still has that feel of the board game, but it’s crossed with traditional RPG elements (campaigns, action/choice changing the events, creating a character) and the customization of a card game. And the best part is that is can be played solo, which I have done many times already.
  7. Rediscovering old loves – If you’ve paid attention to my Twitter recently, I’ve gotten back into wrestling. It started with Sammy visiting and since we were both fans of WWE back in the Attitude Era, I decided to get a month of WWE network so we could watch the Wrestlemania that happened the weekend before. Before then I think it something like 5 years since the last time I watched wrestling, and before that I think there was another gap of about 7 years. So it was fun getting back to it and discovering a load of new people and seeing who was still around. And I got that old itch to watch Raw and Smackdown. And now I’m live tweeting about it. And what’s nice it that it’s helping me get back to tweeting which has been fairly stagnant for 7 years now.

That’s kinda been it for the last 5ish months. Now, I’m not going to make promises, but I’m hoping this to be a restart and get to regular posting again. Just these topics alone I could write a lot more about. So, I hope to see you around soon and hope your 2017 is not a total trash fire!

Categories
Nerd Stuff Projects Streaming Video Games

Mass Effect Andromeda Launch!

Hey Everyone!

Just letting you all know that I will be streaming on Twitch when Mass Effect Andromeda launches at 12 am EDT.

I’ve embedded the video here if you just want to watch, but feel free to come by and join the chat to talk with me about the game as I’m playing it. I’ll be streaming a lot over the next week, so if you can’t stay up that late or are busy, just keep checking to see when I’m on. I’ll be updating Twitter and Instagram every time I plan to go live!.

Categories
Thoughts

Difficulties of Enjoyment

It’s been a while since I got to post anything, oh the wonderful tribulations of life. Nothing too notable, at least not right now. But in the moments between responsibilities, I’ve got to enjoy a number of great movies, music, and other media. Yesterday I spent time working on a post about Logan, because it was a fantastic movie and I think it is the best Marvel based movie yet. And the way that Disney is going to go with the MCU, I don’t know if we are going to see a Marvel movie like it for a while and I think it did what DC has been trying to do for a while by leap and bounds–just another reason to get rid of Zack Snyder, but that’s a rant for another day.

So why am I writing this post instead of finishing that one and posting it?

Well, a couple of reasons, but they stem from something I’ve noticed for a while and is one of the reasons I have continually found it hard to blog over the years. It’s really difficult to just enjoy a thing and share that with people. I’m not going to try and suss out the causation or correlation argument about this, but I think most of us can agree that people today, at least in the US, have an easy time raining on a parade simply because it’s not their parade or the parade they want.

Let me break it down a bit more.

One of the reasons I restarted the blog was that I found that I was part of that whole mechanism. I have friend who has similar problem that I do: If I enjoy something, I usually don’t have more to say than, “It was good/great/awesome,” but it I don’t like something, I can go on for hours picking a thing apart. And over the last few years I have worked on that to try and appreciate those things I like more. I have found I have to usually play devil’s advocate with myself because I need to build the argument to get to the details of what I like. The reason I’ve been doing that is because there is a lot of truth to the idea of “you get back what you put out.” When you trend toward negative criticism, it gets harder to enjoy those things you criticize.

Another aspect is the how we given opinion the same weight as fact in discourse. I recently discussed “what is horror?” at a lunch meet up with friends and friends of friends. And one person made the argument that a story must have a supernatural element to be horror and that psychological horror really isn’t. Instead of going into a diatribe, like I usually do per my love and educational exposure to the genre, I instead try to ask questions to probe the foundations of his argument. And it came out that he doesn’t find psychological horror scary and therefore it must not be horror. That’s an opinion and he has every right to feel that way, but it’s not a strong foundation to argue almost two hundred years of literary analysis and facts. We’ve lost, or at least loosing, the ability to prioritize which or our opinions are unyielding and what ones are open to change. We’ve had a long period were a number of forces in a number of facets of our lives trying to push us to make their opinions seem better, more intelligent, or morally just. And many times, those opinions are used to reinforce facts, so they blur. This how we get situations where groups become aggressively passionate and do insane and dangerous acts in the name of something they love. With that constant threat, it makes it hard to find the worth of sharing openly. I can even look to Twitter for this. I remember hoping on in ’08 and lots of interesting stuff was happening, people experimented with the platform, but these days it’s very sterile in comparison. We’ve created a subconscious censorship because we don’t want to make people feel bad, and not because they will get upset or sad, but because they could launch a maelstrom of crazy on us if what we say could upset them enough–which is an unknowable limit.

Finally, there is the whole spoiler culture of the internet. And it’s not just the people that come in a find ways to spoil stories for people and be rolls, but also, tying into the previous topic, the push back from that is everyone has to be spoiler free or have spoiler warnings. Which is really ridiculous when you think about it. Reviews for any story should be talking more about the elements of a book or a movie than just the plot. In fact, any review that talks more plot that characters, themes, setting, writing, and in the case of visual media, acting, directing, and cinematography, it’s a badly written review. It’s the quality of those elements that will determine how well the plot is realized in the end. Those are what a reviewer should focus on to help a consumer know what to spend money on. Anything deeper than that is really a critique, which requires the reader of the critique to know the plot because it will be taking about how those elements, plus the plot, all interact and interrelated and the artistry behind work. Now, if only we kept to that, we wouldn’t need spoiler warnings. But it’s assumed that anything written on the internet is a review, therefore must not talk about the good bits of the movie. That should not be the responsibility of those writing a blog as that, too, is a type of censorship. Going back to Logan, as I wrote, I debated if I need to say, “spoiler warning” at any point because what people consider a spoiler is also very individualistic. And talking out the people that die, to me, is not a spoiler. Everything that has come out about that movie screams, “People gonna DIE!”

It’s really incredible how hard we’ve made it to share enjoyment for things for people. I know I’m not the only one that feel this way, and that fact there are people are out there and sharing their enjoyment doesn’t negate what I’ve said. If we weren’t so worried about opinions being challenged, I believe there would be a lot more people talking and sharing new ideas and perspectives. But we have found so many ways to fortify ourselves from anything we don’t like that can we really be surprised by anything that happens these days. Because if we make this hard for a person to share what they enjoy in life, how the hell do we expect to work with each other to get through it?

Categories
Life Projects

Some Revisions

Okay, first, Saturdays…apparently a bad day for me to blog. Basically a month has gone by since my last post and that’s how it starts. Something knocks you off your path, then another thing, and so on till it feels like you can’t get back to where you were or where you want to be. And it’s very tempting to just let it all go and say, “Oh, I’ll try again later.”

No, you won’t. That’s just another way of saying, “I quit.” And I’m a stubborn New Englander, so I can’t let that slide.

And it’s been hard, especially for the last few years, because it isn’t lack of drive or ambition that got in the way. It’s the precious resource of time. It’s crazy to think about how much time there used to be as a kid, but the as the years go by, the hours seem to have less and less substance. And it also doesn’t help to have a sleep schedule that doesn’t like to be consistent. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl, but since the chemo the changes in my sleep can be drastic and sudden. Then add to the mix the vast complexities of life. Family, friends, love life, and personal upkeep can take a lot of time. And it’s hard for me, because I’m one to help those around me–well, most people, but that’s another blog post…which may be a revision of an old? *shrug*–and I’ve had a lot of more time to do that and it’s reflexive, so I’m trying to work on more stable boundaries on what I can do and trying to remember I need to help myself as well.

One of the hard realizations is that I need to cut down on the number of games I’m in. At the start of 2016, I was in a seven different games. Over the course of last year I was able to ween off a number of them. I was in four by the start of this year, but realized soon that even that is too many. By next week, I should have only two, my weekend games, but I’m starting to see a scheduling problem that may mean the end on yet another game, but I want to give that one more time before I make the final choice.

Next week I’ll be with my love, Sammy, both for Valentine’s and to help recover from wisdom teeth extractions. And I can’t wait to be with her. It’s amazing to have not only someone that is so supportive, but also has such an honest, “outside of myself” perspective so that I can better examine my life. I like to think I was pretty good at it before, but it’s comforting to have a person in my life that knows me so well to understand where I’m coming, but is just as devoted to me succeeding as I am–including giving me the harder truths, not just the soft, comfy, cheerleader support. I’ll be using the rest of February to re-prioritize and adjust what I’m going to work on this year and better organize my life and time around those projects.

Categories
Books Life Nerd Stuff

Book Clearance: What I’m Reading This Year

I have a lot of books. Most people know this, but seeing my new Durham/Raleigh friends’ reactions to the multitude of tomes I own has been amusing, and then even more fun when I say that this is half what I owned in NJ. But despite the culling before the move, there are still too many books. And I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t purchase any new books until I’ve read through what I have and decided what to keep or sell.

So this year I’m going to go through a number of series with the caveat that if I ever get to a point I’ve lost interest in the story, all the books in the series get the boot of my shelves.