Game Specter 4 – All These Stories

I am going to be running a Fate game as soon as I have the time. If you’ve read any of my other columns, like Fitness Specter (particularly the 13th one), you’ll know that I am in the process of moving from one place to another. No, I do not know when that is going to happen. No, I am not able to get a time for that as of writing this. Yes, the move WILL happen. That just means I need to hang on a while before I can gather together my players.

GameSpecter300I’ve read through the Fate guide online. I have listened to the Knights of the Night actual play podcast, especially the episodes where they’re playing Fate. I want to really dig in and start playing this system because the only system I’ve played for the past decade is World of Darkness. Well, there’s one other thing I realized while wanting all of this: I have a lot of stories bumping around in my noggin.

I want to be a writer. An author, actually, and there is a difference. This means that I’ve got a bunch of stories rolling around in my head, anyway, but I have come to realize that some of those stories will never be novels or movies or plays because those are gaming stories. I don’t mean “Joe and I were sitting around when he rolled a 5.” I mean the stuff “Joe and I” would be playing. The battle against Cthulhu or the epic leap over the moving car… not the mechanics or the meta-gaming. THE game.

There are, of course, vampire ideas that involve things like running around and politically trying to win a city. Werewolves fighting to save this or that… even Geists doing things. But I also have super hero ideas (more like Heroes and less like DC). What about an investigative idea that leads into a series of murder mysteries that can be solved by the group (a la Numbers or Scorpion or etc)? How about episodic adventures on a spaceship or something in a computer system? I’ve got these things in my head, I’d like to novelize them, but I know now that these are gaming stories.

I used to have an actual play podcast. Dark Green: The Blackwood Chronicles, for anyone wondering, and no you can’t find it in iTunes anymore because I moved everything and closed the feeds down. When I get back to gaming, though, I’d like to have another one and I’d love for that to be what my friend Bob and I have come up with: a rotating group of GMs running different genres in a rotation of sorts. Everyone included, telling stories, and telling them so that you can all hear them. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Well, what I’ve described is what the Knights of the Night are already doing. I’d like to go into different areas than they have (genre/game-wise) but I’d also like to tell the quality stories they are. We all aspire to something.

Game it.

Fitness Specter 13 – No More Excuses

Sure, the weather outside is frightful. No, there’s no fire to be delightful. Since there’s no place to go, why aren’t you lifting? Boom. Twist those lyrics into something about fitness? Done.

Before I slide into the “opening image” that I use to break up the main column and the preamble, I’d like to say that as the time gets closer to my departure from where I live to where I’m going gets nearer, I am finding there is less time to do what I need to in order to stop looking like I do and start looking more like what I want. Trying to get rid of my house is turning out to be more work than I have time for and that is also because I have to work in and around doing all that, too.

Enough complaining…

FitSpecter570I woke up this morning (Veteran’s Day as I write this) and wanted to work out first thing. I can’t, though, as there are plenty of free meal deals I have to jump on at various parts of the day in order to maximize my status. I will be working out later, though, and that is because I’m done giving myself excuses. The only one I really am competing with, here, is myself, and right now I’m losing.

The excuses are varied. I’m stiff. There’s only an hour before bedtime. That show in our Hulu Plus queue is about to expire. I’m too cold. I worked too late. Enough!

My “once weekly” routine of exercising everything is nice to hit all the muscles but isn’t doing me much good in the department of working out regularly. Sure, I get to do this once a week but that day seems to drift throughout the week. Sunday the first week, maybe Monday or Tuesday the next week, then that drifts into Friday… you see how this is working? I need to solidify my routine, or I really can’t call the whole experience a routine, can I?

Let’s think about the word routine for a moment. That indicates that there is a pattern, a solid pattern, that isn’t really deviated from. I’ve been making excuses that make my workout drift later and later in the week and technically that means I’ve skipped a couple weeks here and there because I’m not into a routine yet. That isn’t going to get me healthy.

The other problem, outside of not really utilizing the “routine” as I should, is my nutrition has suffered severely. No, eating out today is not going to really help my situation, but I am not storing things in my house anymore and that makes decent meal preparations tough. I will be making the best choices I can at these free meal deals but I inevitably slip something in there that I shouldn’t be eating… like dessert.

I need to get back on the horse but I also need there to be a stable situation in order to complete a “routine.” Once I settle in to my new home, which is hopefully soon, I can really hit the iron.

Lift it.

Fitness Specter 12 – A Way of Life

Well, I’m back in the saddle… sort of. I am back to writing about fitness, at least, and I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing everything healthy. There are some obstacles, though, and those are some of the things I’m going to talk about right now. So, let’s get this party rolling once again!

FitSpecter300I’ve talked in the past about how to be fit, build muscle, and generally turn yourself into a pseudo-bodybuilder. Am I an expert? By no means, but I find that those who want to excel at something will learn the crap out of it… and that is what I’m doing with the whole fitness thing in general.

If you’ve been living under a rock, or generally don’t follow what I’m up to, then you might not realize that I have been attempting to move out of North Dakota to Oregon, which means that there is a slew of things that have been causing me problems in trying to be fit and healthy.

A week ago, I cancelled my membership to Gold’s Gym. Where I’m going there is no Gold’s Gym. Sad face. My wife and I have been throwing out everything from our house that we do not need and we’ve ended up with a very empty house. There isn’t much that we’re taking with us to Oregon because we have less room where we’re moving and we honestly don’t need most of what we had. This also means that our stores of food we’ve been keeping are also down to a “buy as we need stuff” level because we’re trying to eat fresher than we have in the past. While we wait to move, though, that means we’ve been eating out a lot more than we’d like to because the time for my wife to leave (she’s going first) is getting really close. As such, my nutrition has suffered. My workout schedule has also decreased from a massive six days per week to a day per week because I’m just too busy to squeeze in more… and I’m normally so tired at the end of most days that I can’t do much lifting. Oh, woe is me. I’m such a case of say one thing and do another.

It’s time to stop talking and start doing. Boom.

The basis for any healthy move, and in my specific bodybuilding case, is nutrition. I need to start eating better, eating healthier, and making better choices wherever I go to eat. When my wife leaves, that will mean picking up heads of lettuce, lots of rice, and butt tons of chicken breasts and just pre-making most of my meals and eating them and ONLY them. I am going to cut out bad fats, unnecessary sugars, all high fructose corn syrup, sweets, greasy stuff, and generally unhealthy things. That means going to McDonald’s will result in salads, Premium Chicken Wraps, and a complete lack of desserts/fries. That means a lot less frozen yogurt, ice cream, and generally less deep fried items. That means eating non-snack foods at home, eating less processed everything, and making sure that at least half of what I eat at home is a vegetable (preferably green). Nutrition will be the foundation and that is what I need to start with.

Another thing I need to establish is daily activity. DAILY ACTIVITY. That means walking 10,000 to 20,000 steps a day on top of running for a mile, two miles, walking up 50 flights of stairs, or bicycling for several miles. Cardio is the next important step I need to take and since I’ve recently read about how Flex Lewis (IFBB 212 Showdown Champion) does his cardio, I think I’d like to build up to that approach. I stress build up because he’s a monster and I’m a beginner. I’d like to be a monster but I also want to have a life, so if I just work up to that level of cardio, I may not have to lift quite as much because I know right now I’ll never be THAT ripped. Cardio is step two, though I could be working on that right now.

I have maintained my level of working out (once a week) for the last four weeks and I am going to start working my way back up to more than a single day per week. Right now I’m doing a little bit of everything but the first thing I’m going to do when I work up to two days a week is split my workout into two almost as intense workouts but more focused. I was initially thinking “upper body” and “lower body,” but I can’t do as much leg work at home as I can at a gym, so I’m probably going to incorporate legs with each of the two and split into back/biceps and chest/triceps. Abs all the time, too. When I get a month or two of two day splits done and get into that habit, I’ll work towards a three day split. While I have no more membership at Gold’s, I can still use the gym from now until the middle of December because of how far my dues have been paid. A three day split would need more of a gym membership as I’d due a legs/abs day separate of back/biceps and chest/triceps. You see where I’m going here, right? Four day splits, five days splits, and eventually a six day split… because even though I won’t look like a Flex Lewis or Kai Greene, I still want to look less like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Yeah… white and pasty.

If you’d like to join me, I’m a member of Bodybuilding.com’s BodySpace. I will begin putting up more updates when I get the nutrition back under control. I want to help you get better, too, so don’t just look at me and cheer me on. Join me. Let’s be fit together and look at the others like they don’t know what they’re doing.

Let’s go lift.

North Dakota Measure 1

An unfortunate thing for me, I live in North Dakota. Tomorrow, I will vote on several measures that will not affect me in the slightest, but I feel the need to break with tradition (on my sites) and comment on one thing in particular: North Dakota Measure 1.

For those who might not know what I’m talking about, Measure 1 is the “right to life” measure that would alter the state’s constitution to read “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” As you might guess, the political advertising here is unbearable and I want to weigh in with what I, someone who won’t be affected by this measure, thinks.

The part that most bothers me is the “recognized and protected” part. My father died last year and he had a living will, which means that my brother and I weren’t going to keep him artificially living because we didn’t want that and he didn’t want that. The wishes of the dying should be maintained and if the wording AS IS goes through, that can be denied. Why? Because that right to die is deniable because the “right to life” must be protected. Pro-lifers are claiming that this isn’t the case but if you read the measure the way I just did, we only need one disgruntled pair of siblings and the measure can be used to artificially extend the life of anyone against their will. My father would have been denied the right to die without artificially being kept alive. That isn’t right and that isn’t the government’s business. I will not stand for allowing something this vague to pass in case someone else has to be in the same position I was last year.

There are connotations that there will be denials of IVF, or in vitro fertilization. I don’t read that in the wording but since the pro-lifers are trying to deny everyone’s rights to govern their own bodies… let me stop there for a second and address that.

I have absolutely no business telling a woman what to do with their body. I don’t care of they are carrying a child, doing drugs while pregnant, getting an abortion, or anything else. Absolutely nothing. I also believe that no one else has any business talking about anyone else’s body or what they do with that body. If you think that the pregnant lady in the corner of the alley smoking meth is killing the unborn, that’s not your concern. Stop trying to govern what people do with their bodies. Period.

Pro-life advocates, must of whom I refer to as anti-choice advocates, seem to think that their religion gives them the right to dictate what other people do in their lives. This is not the case and if I ever have an anti-choice religious nut tell me what I’m doing is against their religion, then I’m probably going to slap the shit out of that person. If I want to walk up and down the street screaming profanities and cursing your sky wizard, I’ll do that all I want and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. We live in a country that not only has freedom OF religion but freedom FROM religion. It’s YOUR religion, not MINE. Keep it to yourself.

Since the anti-choice bunch want to govern what everyone does according to their religion, I can see them taking this measure further and further until there is absolutely no freedom to do anything even remotely sexual without forcing the creation of offspring in the process. As a friend of mine ranted on Facebook recently about, why not “state that life begins at ejaculation because your measure isn’t strongly worded enough. Why not say that anyone who masturbates is killing babies and lock them up?” The anti-choice groups want to use the slippery slope argument, why can’t I?

Something most good parents do is tell a child that wants something that if they really want that thing, maybe they should take care of the similar things they already have. Why protect the unborn so vehemently when there are literally billions of starving, dying, and homeless children all over the world that you aren’t helping? Praying isn’t helping, praying is what you call doing something without actually doing something. Pray in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first.

In closing, if your motivations are truly altruistic: reword the measure. Make the measure wording VERY SPECIFIC. I’m voting no on Measure 1 because the wording is too vague. In fact, I’m voting against a lot of the measures because the wording is too vague and can open doors North Dakotans won’t really want opened. Think before you vote something in that will have those unintended side effects, like the one I listed above.

Like it or not, abortion in the USA is legal. This measure doesn’t make abortion illegal and the Supreme Court will strike it down if, sanity forbid, the thing passes. If you can explain things to me without using religion as the basis for the decision, then you shouldn’t be making laws to govern anyone else’s behavior.

Thus ends my political ramblings for as long as I can remain silent. This isn’t a political forum but I feel very, very strongly about this.

Why DC’s Cinematic Universe Will Fail

The Emerald Specter is back in the driver’s seat for you all and I’ve decided to kick things off with a look at the impending DC Cinematic Universe, the one that will supposedly rival Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Without burying what I think in some obscure paragraph down below, I’d like to say that the DC Cinematic Universe will fail… now read why I think that.

EmeraldSpecter300Marvel had no plan, apparently, about starting a Cinematic Universe. They launched Iron Man as (what they would be planning as) a stand alone trilogy. There was just a plan to set another one of their characters towards the big screen and hopefully make themselves a little bit of money in the process. Well, guess what, someone got wise and threw in a stinger (coda?) at the end of the credits to tease out the Avengers. The buzz was so intense that they included a stinger (coda?) at the end of the Incredible Hulk and almost completely designed Iron Man 2 around the idea that Avengers was happening. Thus began the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Marvel’s cadre of super heroes has always been a little, for lack of a better description available to me right now, more realistic. No one NEEDS a cape. Underwear is solidly underneath the clothing. Very few heroes need a logo for marketing purposes. That’s not really fair to DC but if we’re just comparing surface details, that’s basically the way things boil down. Marvel’s heroes are more realistic.

My favorite super hero is Captain Marvel/Shazam. I’ll call him Shazam from this point on. He’s originally a Fawcett Comics creation but that company was purchased by DC, so even though I “grew up” reading mostly Marvel comics, I am solidly a huge fan of Shazam from DC. I love what the New 52 has done with Shazam and I’m really hoping to see more of that because if they’re going to leave Billy Batson perpetually 11, he might as well get a cool revamp like he has.

But what does this have to do with DC failing?

Man of Steel was the grand relaunch of Superman’s origin… again. Just like their other “big name,” Batman, we’ve seen Superman done to death. We didn’t need another origin of DC’s most famous super hero but since we got one, at least the origin was a fairly awesome one. Man of Steel received mixed reviews but I give the movie a solid 4 out of 5. This was DC’s first salvo in an attempt to build a DC Cinematic Universe (DCU), which they have begrudgingly gone ahead with.

I say begrudgingly because Warner Brothers, who owns DC, seems to have a hard time with the concept of doing anything with any character on the big screen that isn’t Superman or Batman. They have openly admitted that Wonder Woman would be too difficult (in the past) and after Green Lantern failed (they went in the wrong direction, cast the wrong lead, and went too CGI for this movie) they seemed to really want to crawl back in their holes and go with another Batman or Superman reboot. Really? That’s when Man of Steel hit.

This is being written after a great success with Guardians of the Galaxy, a second season of Agents of SHIELD (a show that had it’s own problems until Captain America: The Winter Soldier) started off strong, and DC having made a slew of movie release announcements. What have they announced? Well, that is why I am going to tell you… and it’s why I think they’ll fail.

In 2016 we’ll get Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (to be read as “Batman Five Superman Colon Dawn of Justice”), which is quite possibly the most ridiculous title for a movie I have yet to hear. Leave off the first three bits and just call the damn thing Dawn of Justice, for the love of all that’s holy. What’s this about? Well, I’m guessing that Batman is going to battle Superman, and we already know about a slew of cameos by other DC heroes to be named later in this list.

Also in 2016 we’ll get Suicide Squad. This will have little to no real success as there is no build up of these “villains,” they’ll be doing heroic things and most people won’t know what the issue about their villainy is, and as far as I understand it from the “buzz,” there isn’t anyone interested in seeing this movie. I’m not.

We move to 2017 for Wonder Woman and Justice League Part One. Only after Marvel released a fun movie including a talking raccoon and talking tree does DC say to themselves “well, maybe a film about a woman would work.” Wonder Woman should have been on the big screen a long time ago and the fact that she hasn’t only shows that old, white men not only run the country, but they also run Warner Brothers. And you split your Justice League into a Part One and Two? Playing this hand like this was a huge mistake and I can say that unless you have a solid single movie premise that gets resolved IN THAT MOVIE, you’ll fail with this one. How do I know it’ll fail? The Matrix, one of my favorite trilogies ever, has been given terrible reviews for leaving a second movie open and having a supposedly flimsy end to the third. If Justice League couldn’t survive as a single movie, you should have played those cards closer to your chest, DC.

We move to 2018 with the Flash and Aquaman. First, let me say that casting Jason Momoa as Aquaman was the single best piece of casting I’ve seen. Better than RDJ as Tony Stark. Better than Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. What I don’t like is that you’re all over the map with your “plan.” Either do the build up like Marvel and debut everybody before Justice League or do Justice League first and all the movies can be “prequels.” I’ll actually get to the Flash a little later, so I’m quiet right now.

How about 2019 with Shazam and Justice League Part Two? While I have been super excited for a Shazam movie, I’m really disappointed that I have to wait until 2019 to see it. And that is assuming that the production doesn’t get pushed back. Moving on.

We have 2020 giving us Cyborg and the Green Lantern reboot movies, ending the announcements of DCU. Unless GL is a new Hal Jordan (done much less Ryan Reynolds) or is John Stewart, I’m not interested in this movie. I have never been interested in Cyborg.

The DCU seems poised to fail.

As I made comments above, if you are using Man of Steel as the launching point, simply call the second movie Dawn of Justice to introduce a few of the other Justice Leaguers and conquer a foe just complicated enough to need multiple heroes. After that, jump right into Justice League (a stand alone film), followed by Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam, Aquaman, and Cyborg movies telling their origins. THEN go for a second Justice League movie. DC/Warner Brothers seem to have no surface plan, even though to do what Marvel did, they need to have a detailed roadmap.

Now let me get to my Flash comments. Arrow on the CW is one of the most awesome shows on TV right now. They recently spun off the Flash as another show and if they would have used Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin as Green Arrow and the Flash in the movies, I’d have been more interested in what the DCU was doing. As it is, though, they are casting a separate Flash for the movies and are leaving Arrow and the Flash TV shows as separate universes. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb…

You have built up a history with Arrow over three seasons. The Flash is starting with a bang. Man of Steel gives you enough punch for a Superman to carry the Justice League movie WITHOUT needing Batman five Superman colon Dawn of Justice. Add in Green Arrow and Gustin’s Flash and you’re ready to obscurely explain where Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and Cyborg came from while fighting someone like Darkseid.

If the DCU doesn’t fail, I’ll be shocked. They aren’t surprising us with anything, they’ve got an erratic looking roadmap and have teased very little to get anyone excited. The Nolan trilogy had two good movies and a “meh” one, yet they toss that one in the trash to reboot for what? Yeah.

Time will tell, but my money is that Marvel will do much better than DC because DC makes some very odd decisions.

The Emerald Specter’s Day Off

EmeraldSpecter300
I’ve talked about weeding the garden, I’ve talked about what I’ve got planned for the future, and now I haven’t really posted a bunch in the last week… and I can tell you that you might be waiting a little longer for a post after this one, too. But, at least I can do a little bit of talking about things because sometimes life intrudes on plans.

For me, the last 18 months have been really, really hard. Deaths and losing family members (which includes pets) has really taken a toll on me. The problems have mounted and I need to step away from things for a couple of weeks. I don’t want to dwell on what has happened or work through what I’m feeling at the moment. What I want to write about is what I’ll be working on and how often to expect things for the near future.

What? Again? This mo-fo doesn’t nothing BUT talk about what he’s going to do. Not true.

Mondays will see Storytelling Specter being released on a regular basis. Though I told you I’d be releasing one per day during NaNoWriMo, that isn’t going to happen. I want to participate in NaNoWriMo and if I’m posting daily I can’t participate correctly. Storytelling Specter is going to continue to be about writing in different forms, where to get ideas from, and what I’m writing about. If you want to see the columns get longer, start promoting the column when I release it because that ramps up the clicks and that’s how to see more of Storytelling Specter. Right now I write 500-ish words, if the hits rise by 50% I’ll do 1000-ish words per column.

Tuesdays will be left blank for the time being, mainly because Life Imitates Wrestling, Ingress Intel, Footie Specter, and Specter Fantasy Football aren’t in the mix anymore, this day will be left open for the time being.

Wednesdays used to be home to a couple of columns but now this is where we’re going to start releasing Game Specter. I’ve powered through a good chunk of Fate and I’m interested in finishing the learning process with this to actually get playing. Game Specter will also be spawning another little spinoff, an actual play podcast. My co-host Bob (from the Greatest Show and hopefully Kain’s Korner) and I are rounding up a group to start running something. Interested in learning more about the details, why not try watching the Greatest Show 43? We discuss things openly and with any luck, something more will come out of the details we discussed. Game Specter will talk about what you can do in role playing games and ideas for running them, too. Let’s get things moving!

Thursdays are also going to be open for the time being. If I can keep a couple of days open now and then, I can throw in some test columns now and then. Like what? Well, I’m glad I asked myself. When the World Chess Championship happens in November, you’ll be seeing Chess Specter leap onto the website. Chess Specter may also have a spinoff but I shouldn’t go letting all the secrets out right now, should I?

Fridays will continue to see the release of the single most popular column on Emerald Specter: Fitness Specter. This column continues to be a solid hit getter… this column continues to be a popular one, regardless of the exact topic. This column will also be changing a bit, too. Fitness Specter will continue to roll out about things to help you get motivated and in shape. What I’m going to start including, though, are personal updates about my own journey. Now that I’m back from vacation, writing this in my basement, I feel horrible about the fact that I haven’t done any fitness related things on my vacation. That has set me back quite a bit and I feel that if I am posting updates, including pictures and personal tips about my own progress, that I can be held accountable at a level that I haven’t been up to this point. Are you interested in this, too? Well, just like the suggestion for seeing more of Storytelling Specter, you have to share and promote for more clicks. I’ll even give the same promise for a 50% increase in hits, 1000-ish words per column! Let’s see this thing move forward and grow!

Saturdays will be left unused, as they have been. I plan on doing things on Saturdays in the future but let’s not get ahead of myself.

Then come Sundays… every Sunday (well, ok, nearly every Sunday) at 1pm Eastern/12pm Central/11am Mountain/10am Pacific time is the Greatest Show, which can normally be found in post on YouTube’s Emerald Specter Channel. I’ve been posting the “events page” link each week we do the show and that will soon be followed by a return to releasing the show in an audio and video format on a podcast feed.

Now comes the “he’s going to talk about what he’s going to do in the future” segment.

Mixlr provides a means for broadcast audio (vis a vis a radio show) and I plan on doing such a show. I’d like to put one on every day of the week but I’m a one man operation and that means I don’t bite off more than I can chew. I plan on doing a single show per week and building from there.

I meet with a writing group every Monday night and that’s where the bulk of my writing gets done. I am writing towards a novel which will also be turned into a serial audio production. I won’t have a full cast or anything, I don’t have the money to do anything like that right now, but I will be narrating and including sound effects (and the like). That means I need to write and write hard. With several plans on the horizon, I want to start putting this out so that I can mainstream this website to release my work.

Finally, I wanted to talk a little bit about what I’m doing for the rest of the year. As of writing this, I’ve put an offer in on a home in Portland, OR and I plan on moving there as soon as possible. I can start applying for transfers at my work on October 18 and I will be applying to literally everything to get me out there as soon as possible. If everything works out, ideally, I’ll be in Portland before 2015 starts. I don’t intend on spending another birthday in North Dakota. There’s a better life for me there, less memories and more changes to forget the pain this place has left me with… there’s a better life going there.

Until then, though, I’ll keep doing what I’ve told you that I’ll keep doing. I am going to take a week or two off before resuming the regular rotation, but I think I’ve released enough so far to keep you entertained while you wait.

Think on it.

Look at the Address

Hey there Specter fans… are you still using LimeFlavored.com as the URL for this site? Are you aware this is now EmeraldSpecter.com? No?

I write this knowing that some people are still using the old address. Maybe that’s out of habit. Maybe that’s an old link you’re following from someone else’s site. Hell, maybe you just like the tastiest website on the planet and you can’t let that URL go. I just need to tell you that the URL may not be mine in the near future and if you want to continue coming here for the Emerald Specter goodness, you may want to start using the new URL.

Just a quick thought.