The New Year – 2016

 

Blog Segment - Peeking Through The Window copyYou know, typically, I’m not big on the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. It has always felt a little bit weird to me to have a specific time of the year to say “Things are going to be different, now!” when that’s generally the sort of thing that I would assume we should be ready to do, and be serious about, on any given day. If anything, having a national holiday (kinda) for it makes me realize all the more how bad I am at keeping “resolutions.” Despite this, I find myself here about to write down a little bit of a wrap up for last year, and a look ahead to this one, with a little of resolve for solutions thrown in the mix. So let’s get started.

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A Wedding and some Gaming, a Returning and a Parting

I’m making no bones about it. It has been AGES since I last posted. And I have excuses! Boy do I have excuses, let me list them: Wedding, Honeymoon, Moving in/out,Student Teaching, The Holidays, etc. It’s not like they took up all of my time, but they jammed it packed. And posting about the wedding was a little daunting to me because I wanted to give it justice, but time kept slipping away and…. *sigh*

The fact is, these excuses are not really good enough. It’s time to get my lazy butt back to work, so here is my first new post. I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, of course, but I won’t be going into depth about everything. No need to recount the holidays. No need to look back on the year that was. I’m going to keep it breif-ish, though who knows how long it’ll get once I get to the personal stuff, so let’s get started, eh?

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So when I say I haven’t blogged in a while, it was actually sort of a lie. I’ve actually kept up blogging through my reviews, which I know doesn’t really count for readersof these posts as much, but hey! I’ll take my bonus points where I can get them. All of my recent reviews have been on video games, which is something of a shame, seeing as how I saw some movies I would have liked to review as well (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes 2 being the most notable of these.) But for those of you who live life on the gaming sie, you migth be interested in my reviews of ICO (from the HD PS3 collection), To the Moon, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. It has definitely been a good year for games.

Of course, that’s not all I’ve been playing. League of Legends is something of a habit. Of course that’s largely because it’s one of the main ways I hang out with my friends. But lately there have been some lousy bits that has discouraged me in my time with the game. First off is the fact that two of my friends are more or less tired of it and want to play other things. Now this isn’t so bad, but finding those other things that we all enjoy on a regular basis is difficult. I’m not really an MMO guy, for instance, and the only one I want to try out (Star Wars: The Old Republic) is a monthly payment, which is blah for everyone. I’m kinda hoping the recently announced new additions to the Co-op versus AI mode in League of Legends will draw those friends back. Even if for a little while.

The other major drawback though is that Riot has more or less nerfed Jax a whole lot in the recent rework.

Poor little Jax

It’s not that his new kit an’t do a lot of damage. Goodness yes it can. Pop that steroid ulti and Surge, leap in and clean some clocks. … For six seconds. And if you didn’t already die in those six seconds, you’re pretty much screwed once the buff is gone. The main issue is Jax’s survivability. He has no health bonus, no magic resist and no armor without seriously adjusting his build to practically remove his damage output. I’ve been experimenting with some builds, and I’m getting better results than I’ve feared, but there’s no escaping that Jax just isn’t as viable as he used to be. He’s so item dependent now it isn’t even funny.


And that’s not even taking into account the terrible construction of his Counter Strike ability. The stun is almost worthless for the cooldown time, especially since using the ability telegraphs the oncoming stun 1.5 second before you can actually use it. Any self-respecting player can dodge the stun 75% of the time, and that 25% is because Jax used it before leap-strike, which negates the whole dodge mechanic’s use entirely. – Dyrus said it before, and it’s true. Jax’s kit is hypocritical. Is he an assassin? Is he a brawler? Both and neither. He simply isn’t good enough at either one, and two crappy halves don’t make a complete whole. He’s still playable at least, and I keep trying out new builds. Hopefully they fix some of these problems in the future.

Meanwhile I discovered a new mini passion for minecraft. Building on my single-player fortress was fun, and all, but it’s also lonely and boring at times. So when Scott invited me onto the PandemicCraft server as a villager in Westphalia, I thought it would be a neat way to give the game new life. And let me tell you, it’s working. Now that I have a community to live in, my scope has shrunk (no giant fortresses at the moment) but my artistry has grown. The house I’m building across two plots is going to be really cool when it’s completed. I feel like I own a part of a larger world, now. It’s sort of addicting. This tiny little outpost in the winter biome is steadily growing. There’s a town square. Houses, and an Inn. And somewhere out there is an Empire that is pressuring other settlements to join with them. Thankfully our Baron is tough in the face of such pressures. We Westphalians live free out in the wilderness. ^_^

Part of what makes it all worthwhile is the economy system, where people actually do own pieces of the town, and these towns can expand. And people have jobs and specialties. The Innkeeper and his assistant actually grow food, buy meat off of hunters, and sell it to the villagers and travelers at low cost. It’s fascinating and fun. I think the system needs some expansion, though. It’s far too easy to become rich, with little to show for it. I don’t know if the server’s mod can be modded further or not, but it seems like cool things could be done with it.

Well, I’ve been yammering on about what I’ve been enjoying lately, so let’s take a detour into some less pleasant waters…

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Of course, less pleasant waters doesn’t mean it can’t be funny at the same time. How about those Republican Primaries, eh?

I tell you, watching this circus has been at least as fun as it is depressing, which makes it ok in my book. I mean seriously, these are the nominees? THESE are the nominees? The idea of any of them as president is stomach churning. Even Ron Paul, who at least is the most honest and least-politically corrupt of them all, would be a terrible president. Romney would be predictable, boring, and dangerous in his own right, but could you imagine Newt Gingrich as president?

Oh my sweet lord. The question would be whether we bomb Iran right after the inauguration, or if we wait a day. Don’t get me started on Santorum.

Of course Obama hasn’t been a particularly good president either, but at least he’s a little more inclined to do what’s right than these jokers. And that’s really all I have to say for now. Until the end of this, I think I’ll just buckle up for the roller coaster ride and hope there’s a smooth stop at the end, and not an abyss.

Abysses aren’t fun.

Which is why, thankfully, the internet was able to keep us from jumping into another kind of Abyss entirely. The SOPA and PIPA legislation are currently falling apart (woo-hoo!) Of course that doesn’t mean they won’t come back in some sort of new and deadlier form. (Why is it that legislation acts so suspiciously like Final Fantasy boss fights?) It was pretty cool to see so many internet powerhouses throw their weight against the bill, though. I guess sometimes the people can win. Fancy that.

But that’s enough of the entertainment an the political, let’s move on to the personal…

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I’m married guys! 😀

Of course I have been for 3 or so months now, and should have said something on here sooner, but let’s not dwell on that…
While this topic deserves a full on recounting with details, descriptions, emotions, chronology, etc. I think I’d rather keep it simple and say it was a beautiful wedding. And I had a top-hat!
I plan on putting up a picture gallery eventually, but that will take more time, unfortunately. Until then I will leave you with two things. The first is our vows to each other. Me and Katie wrote them out (though I must admit I wrote most of it with her input >.> ) and we alternated speaking the different lines to each other. It worked out wonderfully. The second thing is a picture of the little wedding-decoration place we mad in our Duplex. It’s not finished yet (we’ve got to get a picture to put in the frame) but I think it’s already very nice.

Our Vows –

From all the times together, thick and thin,
We found a bond in our joys and rest.
The grand adventures shared through paper, pen
And dice, or pages turned, or buttons pressed
Were just the start. Beneath the fun and play
was deeper love. A love that waits beside
Your sick bed; Love for which we pine and pray.
A love that age and death cannot divide.
This love’s worth more than worldly wealth, or woe
Its lack may bring. May God look on this love
And smile, as when he sparked all life to grow,
Or when he woke the galaxies above.
My hand’s outstretched to you and my heart’s doors
Are wide. All I have, all I hold, are yours.

I, Edward Lee Cheever II, and I, Katie Michelle Guth, in front of family and friends, before God and man, do pledge myself to you.

This is how we read them:

Me: From all the times together, thick and thin, we found a bond in our joys and rest.
Katie: The grand adventures shared through paper, pen and dice, or pages turned, or buttons pressed were just the start.
Me: Beneath the fun and play was deeper love.
Katie: A love that waits beside your sick bed;
Me: Love for which we pine and pray.
Katie: A love that age and death cannot divide.
Me: This love’s worth more than worldly wealth, or woe its lack may bring.
Katie: May God look on this love and smile,
Me: as when he sparked all life to grow,
Katie: Or when he woke the galaxies above.
Me: My hand’s outstretched to you and my heart’s doors are wide.
Katie: All I have, all I hold, are yours.
Me: I, Edward Lee Cheever II,
Katie: and I, Katie Michelle Guth,
Me: in front of family and friends,
Katie: before God and man,
Both: do pledge myself to you.

Married life has pretty much been great, as well. Of course there are the little things, like chores and such that things can get tense over, but otherwise, living with the person I love the most, whom I can both have fun with and be serious with, has been wonderful.

Settling into the duplex has been a process of course. As has mashing two lives together. Finances are particularly… fun… But we’ve got some of it sorted out now. Still lots to do, of course, but when isn’t there? Job-wise I haven’t been doing the serious job-hunt that I probably need to do. Part of my hang-ups are all around the certification test I’m supposed to take at some nebulous time in the future. At least I FINALLY got some information abut it out of the education department and I can start preparing for it (by the way, could this material be any more dull and lifeless? Or useless for that matter? I think the people behind this live in a fantasy world somewhere between Mathland and MotivationalSpeakervania.

In any case, I still have my job as a writing tutor, which I am very thankful for, and I’ve been doing a rather lot of substitute teaching over at CTA. So finances are better than they otherwise would be if I didn’t have a job. I think the bills would really start eating away at us if not for that promise of my soon-coming paychecks and Katie’s recent raises and long hours.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to segue into this final topic, but I really can’t think of one. It’s much like asking the question, “When is the best time to hear the news of a death?” There isn’t one. No time is ripe, and no segue can ease the issue.

My friend, Jarret Wade, is dead. He died of cancer some time ago, now. I’m honestly not entirely sure because time seems to flow so swiftly. Has it really been a week and a half?

To say I knew a lot about him would actually be a lie. I didn’t know his family, I didn’t delve into his personal life much, and we only really interacted at school. And yet I have little hesitation to say he was a great friend. Part of that, I believe, is because there was nothing about him that wasn’t genuine, and completely open and honest. He was completely himself at all times. A few conversations would be all it would take before you felt like you knew him for life. Like he was a friend from your earliest days.

So unlike other acquaintances I’ve known who have died, I felt a real shock at the news. I learned about it early in the day during a time I was substitute teaching at CTA, and it was difficult not to break down when I would mention him during prayer requests at the start of every class period. My voice would falter, and I can only imagine how red my eyes grew over time, holding back tears that blurred my vision.

I knew it was coming of course. We’ve all known for some time of the cancer that was eating away at him. I last spoke with him over the phone while on my honeymoon. We were in Seattle, and though he said he would call, and show off his beloved home city to us, we never heard from him. I called him up to see how he was doing, and he had just gone through another serious treatment. He didn’t sound good, then. He apologized for not being able to show us around. Of course I said it was nothing, and that his health was more important. He said he’d make a trip down to visit Keene soon. That he looked forward to seeing us all again, and to meeting my wife.

It was a trip he would never make. And while I know that there was no real way I would have been able to, I constantly think that I should have made time to go see him again while I was there…

I’m not the poet I once was. I have a tendency to write them far less than before, and I usually make them boring and emotionless for trying to make them structured or fancy. But occasionally, something happens that gets that emotion stirring again. It’s not the greatest poem I’ve ever written, but I feel like It has my heart in it. Here’s to you, my brother, Jarret Wade.

Jarret

I see the rain on the western shoreline
Pouring into a hole that never fills.
I know the shadows of those blackened clouds.
I know the brim of that endless cold cup.

Like the echo of a distant tempest,
The strong vibrations of thunder long since
The blinding light of the lightning strike,
Your going shook me, and my earth stilled.

Till the trumpets ring from the mountain tops,
Till the silvered bells toll at sea.
Till the bright cloud comes from the east.
Till then, rest ‘neath the trees.

You found the deepest roots of all our hearts.
You could see their dark gnarls, their twists, their cramps.
You always knew how to water them,
With smiles, and hugs, and conversation.

The world was not a stranger to you.
It was a lonely friend in desperate need.
Not an unknown mist of vague statistics,
But a painting of minds, faces and eyes.

Till the trumpets ring from the mountain tops,
Till the silvered bells toll at sea.
Till the bright cloud comes from the east.
Till then, God holds Grave’s Key.

His hand hovers over the sepulcher
Holding out that golden metal Work,
Trembling with desperate impatience to swing
Wide those black and silent gates that stand closed.

And past that unknown date, what triumph waits?
A son of heaven comes home! You will ride
His chariot, And wear a crown of gold,
bejeweled for lives you’ve touched. A friend of God.

Then the trumpets ring from the mountain tops,
The silvered bells toll at sea.
The bright cloud comes from the east.
And then, at last, be free.

For now, there are dark clouds out to the west.
No rain, no tears, no grief, can fill torn hearts.
You lit so many candles on your way,
You left your light in all of us.

Edward L. Cheever II

Sorry to leave it on such a low note, everyone. But sometimes, the world gets serious. And laughter is a little far away. Good-bye, friends. I hope to have you here again soon.

The Doctor Teaches League of Legends on the Frontier


*Whew!* Pardon me while I rest a minute *pant*pant*… I feel like I’ve been just running and running these past few weeks. I’ve not gotten near enough sleep, and the responsibilities are starting to stack up. I’ve been pretty busy lately, no joke. We’ll get to the reasons why, but first I want to revel in the fact that I’ve finally found a quiet moment by talking up some entertainments. Let’s get started, shall we?

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Despite all how busy I’ve been lately, I’ve managed to fill in the small times and breaks with a good amount of interesting media, etc. If you’ve been paying attention to my reviews blog, you’ve known that I’ve been going through a pretty serious reading kick lately, and let me tell you, it’s good to have my nose back between a couple sheets of slaughtered and processed forestry.

You know… in a less environmentally morbid sort of way…

But I say all that to introduce my latest book review, in which I cover “Coyote Frontier,” the third book in the Coyote trilogy by Allen Steele. I won’t spoil my own review here, so go read it. 🙂 I will say, however, that I would recommend the series so far to fans of science fiction literature with relatively few reservations.

THERE ARE WORMHOLES IN THIS BOOK


Now on to less review-y stuff. If you follow comic-book movie news at all, you’re probably aware of a Superman reboot film coming soon-ish. Now, when I say “reboot” I’m not even sure what that means myself, except that this film does not take place in the Donner film universe like “Superman Returns” did. As much as I love the Donner original and its sequel, I think this is an absolutely necessary move. We need an updated Supes, with the same values but a new, relevant sheen.

My caveat here is that the film is directed by Zack Snyder. This could be either a good or a terrible thing. “300” was fun, if utterly brainless, and “Watchmen” was a triumph of comic adaptation, though not entirely a triumph of cinematic storytelling, so he can do good work when he’s given source material.

But Snyder also directed (and wrote I think – if you call it writing) “Sucker-Punch.” I despise “Sucker-Punch.” Aside from the neat visuals, that film is a travesty. It called into question a lot of the good will I had given Snyder for his work on “300” and “Watchmen” (especially “Watchmen”). We shall see.

On the positive side, I’m down with the new costume, which feels more like a suit, and less like a Halloween costume, which is easy to do with superhero outfits. The only issue I have is also only an issue to ½ or so of the audience. That is, the obvious bulge. I bring this up because, well… it’s just so obvious. I mean, it was the first thing Katie commented about when she saw the costume, and I suspect she holds back on calling out things she likes on a lot of hot actors and so forth to protect my wee little mind about such things (lol). It’s impossible not to see it.

Whatevs. On to new topics.

Ever since I started watching, my love for Doctor Who has known no bounds. I want the merchandises nowplease. When I build my future house one day, the door is going to look like the doors of the TARDIS and I am NOT even kidding. I can’t wait for people to hear the doorbell.

So you can imagine my sadness at the changing of the guard. That is, the departure of David Tennet as the Doctor in favor of Matt Smith. This is as bad as my depression over the first change, when Christopher Eccleston switched out for Tennet. Of course, I think that that first switch was so powerful because that it was the first time it had happened to MY Doctor (you never forget your first), and Tennet’s was more powerfully set-up, if perhaps bordering on melodramatic (but when you’re in the moment, melodrama is wonderful). That one last time seeing Rose, especially inferring the Doctor’s feelings for her, was really sad, and they really couldn’t have had him see anyone else last.

It will no-doubt take some time for me to warm up to Matt Smith. It took me some time to get used to Tennet, too. But I’m hopeful that I’ll grow to like him as much. (Some hard-core Doctor Who fans have said that they have actually ended up liking Smith’s Doctor the best, which has me intrigued.)

There is reason yet to hope.


Anywho… (ha! Get it?)

So when I’m not watching Doctor Who with Katie, we’re playing League of Legends again. As long as I keep my cool, and treat it as the game it is, I tend to have a ton of fun. I mean the same kind of fun that got me addicted in the first place. A lot of the new champions are interesting too, even if I don’t really “get” some of them (a.k.a. I’m bad at them – I’m looking at you, Skarner), others are terrific. Being a Jax player, it seems inevitable that I would gravitate towards the Monkey King and Lee Sin, both of whom have abilities similar to Jax’s jump. I’m not as good with either (I don’t even own them yet. Too much IP cost) but I enjoy playing them.

Jax fixing his lamp-post after bashing it into people's faces.


Veigar, meanwhile, seems to be the champ I’m still best at, and that’s fine with me. He’s loads of fun. But man, he needs a legendary skin. Also, with all these new Champs coming out, it’s a little sad to me that there aren’t really any new mages. At least one new one would be nice to experiment with. They manage to come up with all sorts of clever ideas for physical damage champs, and you’d think that magic would lend itself to all sorts of crazy ideas, but they don’ go for it much.

THERE ARE WORMHOLES IN THIS BOOK


In other news, I’ve not been able to find enough free time to work on D&D for a couple weeks now. When I’m not doing something with Katie, I’m at work, or I don’t have enough time to sit down and work on it when I do find myself alone (thus my reading).I’m hoping to start working on it right after this blog post, but… well, you know how it goes.

It sounds like I just consume tons of media (and I kinda do) but the majority of my time is being absorbed in quite different ways…

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…to be specific, I mean student teaching. Waking up at 6 a.m. Every morning is a real killer. I mean sure, lots of people do that every day, but I am not a morning person. Not by a long shot. Night-time is my time. That, combined with an inability to get to sleep any earlier than 1 a.m. most nights means that I am also dead on my feet starting at about the second I get home from school.

I plan on working on that, however. I want to get my bed-time to at least midnight, and 11 o’clock would be ideal. With some extra time asleep, I could use my afternoons more wisely, or at least more fully.

Until then... I'll just... take a little... ZZZZzzzzzZZZZzzzzz....


But the sleep thing is peripheral to the work itself. Come to find out, I really enjoy teaching. Well, I love certain aspects of it anyway. When I have a full docket of material, plenty of things to say, etc. It’s so much easier to stand in front of a class and get to it. Even better is when the class really gets into it too.

I tend to like my classrooms a little noisy. Not a din, where I don’t feel like I’m being heard, but where the entire class is participating, throwing out ideas, and talking about the material. Now don’t get me wrong, I like more sedate classes too. I’ve had a day, maybe two, where I felt like I couldn’t really get a firm hold of the situation, when the students were too hard to corral. But that has been rare so far, and I’m getting better at bringing them back down from a conversation explosion to get across my next point.

Interestingly enough, my nerves haven’t been the constant bother I had worried that they’d be. Every day gets a little easier to get in front of everyone and talk. Not to say I’m not swatting butterflies before each class period, but its a little more field-of-flowers than Monarch-migration.

Truth be told, I so far find it more engaging, satisfying, and less stressful than working as a reporter. Or perhaps I should say it’s more fun. (It also doesn’t suck the creativity out of me the way writing for the paper did.)

Of course, I’m only teaching one class so far, English II. I’ve still got to pick up World History (which I’m starting the week following next week, or the 12th) and English IV, which I don’t know when I’m picking up, but I’m hoping later rather than sooner. For whatever reason, I really like the Sophomore class, and the seniors are closer to my age, college age, which has some inexplicable bearing on the matter.

Oh, and the other English Teacher here is retiring at the end of the school year. I don’t know what my chances are of obtaining that job, but I think it’d be rather fantastic to work alongside Mr. Jones teaching English. I know I want to teach in a public school first to increase my chances of being hired anywhere later, but first and foremost I will go where the job is, and if it’s CTA, well, I won’t complain.

For those of you who are curious, the Wedding plans are coming along, if much more slowly than any of us would like. I’ve got some responsibilities and tasks to own up to, among them folding the invitations (yes we have them now, and yes they’re gorgeous.) with any luck, some of you will be seeing them before the end of next week.

I’ve also got to settle some elements of our Honeymoon, and I need to get in contact with Jarret Wade (you out there, man? I’ll be sending you an e-mail before long!) to figure out what sights we should do in Seattle and the Washington area. That should be fun. ^_^

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today! Have a great one, everybody,

– Edward L. Cheever II

The Demise of the Summer Writing Challenge and the Return of D&D


So. I’ve pretty much completely dropped the ball on the summer writing challenge for the Rough Writers. I mean, sure, I’ve done some writing. I’ve done a lot of writing, when you count everything I do for the paper especially, but not only is it almost certainly not enough to really have pushed be toward the 45,000 word count goal (all the stories are short), but I haven’t been writing on what I’ve really wanted to work on, namely “Jaine” and this blog.

I take some solace in the fact that I now know the ending and plot progression for Jaine, but mostly I’m just mad at myself for not scrounging a little more time to dedicate to writing. There are lots of things I’ve meant to do. I’ve meant to write a blog about the educational bill here in texas. I’ve meant to write reviews for Kung Fu Panda 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 4, etc. I still plan to, though I’m a bit behind the curve on all counts. But making myself sit down and do it has been an issue lately.

I was told by a friend that working at a paper can suck your life away. What’s interesting is that it has, but not in the way I was expecting. It takes a lot of energy out of my creative and mental processes. The stress and responsibilities involved, while not anything like overwhelming, are enough that when I don’t have work or sleep, I have very little motivation or energy to do anything more strenuous than play video games.

That’s a bit disingenuous, I know. It’s an excuse. It’s something I could learn to cope with. But at the moment, it’s what’s been happening. I work, eat, sleep and play video games with friends.

That’s not to say I’m not shaking things up a bit, or that I don’t have any idea about how to turn this around. The biggest part is learning to budget my game playing time and my sleep time. I’ve made the commitment in the past to a hard bed time hour and it really helped. But, like most things of a scheduled nature, I fell off the bandwagon. But, if I could get back to forcing myself to be in bed by 1 a.m., not getting ready or taking a shower, but actually in bed, then I think my stress levels would ease off, and I would be able to get things done during the day. As it is, I’m barely functioning till about 5 p.m. every day. Being able to wake up and function would help with work, but it’d also help with my writing. when I’m not covering a story I could be jotting down my most recent review, or drafting some dialogue in Jaine.

Of course getting to sleep on time every night is a good start, but actually making myself write stuff is going to be something of a challenge too. As I’ve said, I already do a lot of writing for the paper, and even though I may be very much interested in the stories I would like to tell, the idea of sitting down and typing something out feels like a chore. It always has, but now that it’s associated with work it is doubly so. Why would I spend all day at work typing only to come home and do some more typing? At least that’s how the internal lazy-logic goes.

So Laaaaaaaaazzzzzyyyyy


What’ll be ironic is if I still somehow manage to complete the writing challenge despite this posts’ title.

Eh, but I’ve harped on this for too long, so on to the good news. That being that I’m already cutting back on video game time by getting myself involved in other stuff, namely the return of my D&D game.

Followers of my blog know that I had been running a D&D game with Katie and a couple of friends for a while, and when I mean a couple of friends I mean a “couple” of friends. and so when that “couple” became uncoupled, well it threw a wrench into the semi-weekly game sessions. This was something that we all regretted, as we loved our game, but what could we do, really? And certainly me and Katie weren’t going to try and force them to be around each other while things were bad. So the game went on hiatus for a while. And when I say a while I mean quite a few months. It feels like forever since we’ve last played.

But things are changing. I won’t pretend to know what’s going on between those two friends of mine, but regardless, they’ve managed to hang out together again amicably, and without it getting too weird. Are they getting back together? I have no clue. Are they simply accepting a “just friends” approach? *Shrug* Either way, they both requested that we begin the game up again, so that’s just what I’m doing. I’ve gone over my notes. I’ve gathered up my materials. I’ve built some encounters and drawn some maps, and this monday evening we jump back into the fray.

It has been too long. I can’t wait. ^_^

Time to break out the good ol' dice!


I think I’ve yammered on too long. I’ll leave all the possible blogs and reviews I’ve mentioned above till another time. I hope to start updating more regularly, even if the blog posts start getting really short (as if.) Until next time!

– Edward L. Cheever II

Thor is Hiring Writers in the League of Legends


It has been what feels like ages since I last wrote on my poor lonely blog. Not that I don’t have reasons mind, and I know what you’re thinking, “excuses, excuses…” and you’re right, I should have still found the time to post a tib-bit here or there. Well, here’s to a renewal, eh?

So what exactly have I been up to these past few weeks or so? Mostly, a new job. Yup, folks. I now have a real-world job. I’m still more or less on call for SWAU media, and I hope I’ll have time to help tutor in the Write Spot next semester, but for now I’m working as a staff writer at the Burleson Star, one of the star group newspapers who cover a bunch of cities in north Texas.

I cover the hardest hitting stories, my peeps.


I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the idea of getting out there and getting a real job. I suppose I always had visions of the world being a solidly ugly place where, once you left your comfort zone, you’d be lucky to land a job where everybody just ignored you, and if you were unlucky you were surrounded by incompetent jerks.

Thankfully that is not the case. My boss is great to work with, and doesn’t make me feel like I’m being scrutinized for a deficiency in some vital area, as I have at a job or two on campus. I have some funny coworkers, and while they aren’t the type I really care to hang out with all the time, they’re cool to work with. One guy even helped me find my way around on my first assignment. The only person I feel uncomfortable around in the entire building I don’t see often, and my interaction with him would be minimal anyway (he is way above me in hierarchy, for instance.)

In wind and foul weather!


The work itself is mostly in my wheelhouse. The writing part is more or less easy. Time consuming, sure, but not a challenge. The real challenge comes in attending events. Anybody who knows me off the internet knows I am an introvert around anyone who isn’t a friend of mine (and sometimes I’m introverted around them as well.) So, getting into the reporter mind-set, where you’ve got to sort of be a loud and obnoxious, push-to-the-front type of person, who isn’t afraid to jump into conversations and introduce yourself… well, I find that a tad difficult. I’m managing, of course, but it’s a learning experience.

It seems to require the same mental muscles I exercised when acting as Tartuffe in Tartuffe last year. I’m not sure what that says about the reporting business, or what it says about me. Maybe I don’t want to know? O.o

Aside from that, I’ve been utterly absorbed into League of Legends. and it is times like this when my mental faculties fail me, as I can’t remember if I’ve ever discussed my latest obsession here. Simply put, it’s a free-to-play mostly top-down strategy-like game that is centered around team competition. Each team has a base located in a corner of the map called a Nexus, and that Nexus is connected to a series of three lanes that lead around the map to the enemy’s base. Each team also has three massive towers that guard these lanes, and AI controlled waves of minions that spawn from the nexus and proceed up the lanes. The players control special hero units with special powers and abilities, and the heroes’ jobs are to turn the tide of the battle and push all the way to the opponent’s base and destroy the nexus.

It’s a simple game on the surface, but there are all sorts of nuances that are introduced by the differences between heroes, and the ways that items, purchased within each game, can affect the strengths of a hero. Trust me when I say that a newbie would be eaten alive by anybody of high level. Trying out heroes, and getting your item build just right, not to mention the adrenaline of competitive play, are extremely addicting. This, combined with long game times, means that much of my days are swallowed whole by this game.

I’m hoping to turn this around, however, and bring some balance back to the force by cutting back on my league of legends play so I can get back to reading some books I’ve borrowed, and hopefully even finish Red Dead Redemption (I’ve been stuck in Mexico forever, and yes, there are some striking issues with the storytelling and consistency of John Marston’s character in those sections.)

On top of that, I’ve really got to get my life in order so I can be ready for the Rough Writer’s summer challenge coming up in a few days.

*scribble*scribble*

Starting the 15th of May through the 15th of June all participants are going to try and write 45,000 words, or 1,500 words a day. I haven’t even put any thought into the outline of the rest of Jaine yet. *SIGH* The work is never done.

All in all, life has been pretty pleasant. I’ve even been able to go and see some pretty great movies as of late. In fact, I think I’ll finish today’s post with a link to my latest movie review.

Son of Odin, lightning it up.

This one is for Thor. Go read it, and have a great day, everybody. I’ll try to be back around more often.

– Edward L. Cheever II~

Rango and John Marston Save the West while SWAU takes Illegal Pictures of Floridian Farms

It’s been a while since I’ve done a simple catch-all blog post. My more recent posts have been narrowed down to a topic or two. That’s great and all, but it also means I haven’t been able to talk about other things I enjoy, so today is going to be a classic run through the gauntlet. Tally-ho!

Onward!


First things first… SWAU… there is something of a situation on campus, as the student body is splitting over (and mostly against) the Administration. Now, I’m not as plugged into Facebook or campus life as a lot of other people, so my exposure to the issues has been mostly tangential. But, since it’s come to my attention, I’ve been trying to grab reliable information, and this is the scenario I’ve pieced together thus far: Over the past few months or more, really going as far back as the crass and disgusting treatment of Dr. Anavitarte, the Administration has been taking certain actions that have been poorly received by the student body at large (including myself).

This is primarily based around the firing of a number of personnel. A secretary was fired allegedly because the Administration blames her for lowering enrollment (how that’s supposed to work, have no idea), and a proffesor was fired because he attended a non-denominational church on a Saturday (also a base and foolish reason to get rid of a likeable and skilled professional). There have been other firings that I am less familiar with as well. All of this comes to a head as Dean Knight was not hired on after the end of this semester. From what I gather, he fomented some hard feelings among others over this decision, which lead the Administration to fire him.

The student body has now come to a boil over what they see as an elimination of one of the last staff members they see as truly fighting for them, and being “on their side” as it were. However false or true this sentiment may be, the point is that a large number of students have been protesting these actions and demanding answers from the administration. An assembly took place earlier which I was unable to attend, that was supposedly going to answer some of these questions. I do not know how this has turned out just yet. I find it unlikely that Dr. Anderson will find anything to say that will satiate the student body.

I don’t know where this is all headed, but I do know that, if the reasons for the firings are as I have heard, something is rotten in SWAU. I don’t know if it is Dr. Anderson, or the Board, or some other force behind the scenes, but ever since Dr. Anavitarte, SWAU has been dealing shadily and backhandedly with important, honest and sincere members of its body. It hasn’t been living up to the values it supposedly upholds as an institution of Christ, and has instead fallen into the trap of so many religious institutions. Yes, this has long been a problem. Yes, I have had serious issues with the way things are done at SWAU for some time. But this seems to be a drastic step further in the wrong direction.

I’m waiting to see what new information comes to light in these matters. I have only really heard one side of the story, and so this entire scenario might have dimensions I am not aware of. Perhaps the reasons given for the firings were ways of letting these people off the hook gently for some greater and unseen reason. Perhaps Dean Knight was undercutting Dr. Anderson’s authority in some way (I don’t like the way Dean Knight acted in Dr. Anavitarte’s case). Perhaps. But unlikely.

One thing is unquestionably clear: Even if the Administration has good reasons for what they’ve done, they’ve done a piss-poor job of selling it to the community. Enrollment doesn’t suffer over a single secretary. It suffers over the perception that SWAU is a place where spirituality is corrupted, where politics is more important than friendliness and where people aren’t treated with the dignity and respect Christ’s message calls us to.

In other silly news, apparently a Florida Senator, Jim Norman, wants to introduce a bill to make it a felony to take pictures of Floridian farms.

'Don't sue me! Pleeeeeeeaaaase!'

I won’t spend long on the topic, because I think it’s ridiculous, but what exactly does this guy think he’s going to accomplish? Have all those people who’ve been taking photos of farms been just robbing those poor farmers of what’s rightfully theirs? If the very sight of a farm is just that important to protect, why don’t we just build walls around each farm and charge a couple bucks per minutes of viewing time through little peep windows, eh? Foolishness. This would give legal grounds for enterprising farmers to start suing people over almost anything (not to disparage the intent of most honest Floridian farmers, mind you). We’re talking about adding a substantial burden in litigation upon the people involved and the taxpayers who pay for the bureaucracy of it all. It’s un-needed, unwarranted, and adds to the so-called “big government” that senators like this are supposedly so against.

Moving on to greener pastures, and less ranting and so forth, here is a fascinating article by Men’s Journal about a blind man who taught himself to see via echolocation. Yeah, he’s essentially a real-world Matt Murdock.

That, my friends, is a blind man riding a bike.

I sincerely hope that his techniques can be used to revolutionize the treatment of the Blind. Most interesting to me is the project he’s been trying to put into motion to build artificial echolocation devices to make it even easier and more accurate for Blind people. It sounds really promising (though I wonder if two Blind people can operate in the same space with their devices?) but the project is looking to cost at least 15 million dollars. That’s a lot of money to just throw together for the research and development. Maybe somebody should tell him about the Kickstarter program.

In the entertainment side of life, I recently wrote a review of Rango (spoilers: I loved it), which I highly recommend you all go and read. Rango was a surprise and a real treat. That is something that is becoming all too rare in the film industry, where brand names are the new hottness instead of innovation and creativity. To that end, here’s a wonderfully thought out article on the state of the film industry, and while it isn’t a heartwarming piece, it’s very clear and rings of truth. The road out of this mess is unclear.

Of course this has left a gaping hole for a new medium to fill. That medium is Video Games. While it is true that Video Games have their own brands and cash-in sequel and prequel showers, there is also a ton of innovation and new concepts. It’s where the money is. It is where societal entertainment in headed, and hopefully that won’t be a bad thing. If the film industry can pick itself back up, the mediums can complement each other by their differences, much as books and television also fill certain niches. But for now, Video Games seem on a solitary rise to stardom.

Video Games are also where old genres find new life. Now, westerns are doing some new business again in Hollywood with True Grit and Rango, but for recent portrayals of the Old West, I’d put my money on Red Dead Redemption as being more important to the survival of the genre. I don’t have a load of time to spend playing video games, what between work, school and other media and responsibilities, but I do occasionally get a chance to sit down with Red Dead as I work my way slowly through the campaign and side missions. It truly is a marvel, and I feel like I’m really out in the old west riding around, gun-slinging and so forth. For an open-world game, it can be pretty darn gorgeous at times, which is a testament to the artistry of Rockstar Games. I look forward to my next trek in John Marston’s boots.

Oh, and briefly while I’m still thinking about video games… Katie kicks the snot out of me at Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It I both a pain and a joy to have so enthusiastic a gamer fiance. At least I could still pwn her in a strategy game… you know… if she played them much… and stuff…

…. onward!

Speaking of Katie, she and I recently made a deal to where she would read the first three books of The Chronicles of Narnia if I would read A Clockwork Orange. She beat me to the punch. I was only 2 pages in, being busy with other stuff and somewhat put off by the need, at first, to use a vocabulary list to understand what everybody was saying, while she had already finished all three books and was into the fourth. Well, I finally got around to it again and polished it up in essentially two more sit-downs with the book. It helped to more or less ignore the vocabulary list, and just try to absorb the slang terms over time. It was a real horrorshow story, though Alex and his droogs really rubbed me the wrong way (as they should pretty much anyone, what with the ultra-violence and rapes and all). The brainwashing was pretty disturbing, though I didn’t have much sympathy for the victim. All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. The ending has me for a loop, however, as I’m not sure if the author meant to say that sociopathy and an ultra-violent life-style is something that people just grow out of, or if he was making another statement about how people are programmed. In any case, it’s something to think on. I’m looking forward to watching the Kubrick film with Katie when it arrives in the mail.

Now that I’m done with A Clockwork Orange, I’m moving on to The Wise Man’s Fear, which is the eagerly anticipated follow up to Patrick Rothfuss’s first novel, The Name of the Wind. I loved the first book, and so I’m glad to be starting the second. Assuming I have enough time to just sit down and read, I don’t expect it to take me too long to finish, though it is a good deal longer than A Clockwork Orange. After that I’ll be moving over to The Light of Other Days, a sci-fi novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter that I’m borrowing from Dr. Robinson.

Well, I think I’m just about ready to wrap this blog post up and put a bow on it. But before I bid adieu to you and you and you, here’s a hilarious website called DamnYouAutoCorrect.com It’s a terrific little site that has a massive collection of images of conversations where the iPhone auto correct has changed harmless words into inappropriate ones. I think all us iPhone users know how that is, yes?

Well, until later, Adios!

– Edward L. Cheever II

Rotting Westboro Church and Hate Speech is Shot Down Over Tucson by The Aflockalypse

What, again!?


Today’s blog post is going to be a fairly even split between personal yim-yam and political and social ranting and raving. Well, I’m not good at all our ranting, but there will be CAPITAL LETTERS at some points, I assure you.

So first, the personal:

Thanks to everybody who has talked to me in the pas while offering their congrats to me and Katie over our Engagement (link). I thought I’d give you guys a small update, partially so I can stop answering myriad questions (who am I kidding? I’m still going to have questions coming out of my ears.)

This is what we know:
We want it to be in the fall sometime. October would be ideal.
We’ll most likely have the wedding in Illinois and a reception in Texas, to accommodate the fact that our families are grouped in entirely different portions of the country.
That’s pretty much all we know. Pretty vague huh? Well, it’s even worse when you consider I don’t even have a clue if we’ll be able to have it in October because of my student teaching that fall.

Everything else is unknown.

On to school, eh? Well, it’s been a pain getting registered again, but that’s finally over. Now it’s on to the actual Doing stage. I’ll probably approach it the way I did last year, reading a chapter a day and doing its quiz while pushing all other projects and papers to the back end of the semester. I also want to start sitting in on classes of teachers I like to try and observe the way they teach. This is primarily so I don’t feel like a complete fool when I try to do student teaching this next fall. I need to get a feel for the classroom again.

Work, of course has also already started up. Back to the same old media and tutoring grind. On the plus side, only Wednesday and Thursday have any tutoring hours, so Sunday through Tuesday are essentially work free. On the negative side, I’m still going to be making a pittance. Ah well.

Rough Writers have also already started up with our Staff Meeting today just to get back in the swing of things and do some planning for the semester. VP Scott is turning into a regular minister of propaganda, as he’s taking on the effort of advertising for the group, so hopefully we’ll get some more new members. We’ve also got the writing competition that we run coming up soon, so there’s that.

I think I’m going to begin to switch gears writing-wise for a bit, reducing my focus on Jaine so that I can try to come up with a short story for the contest. We’ll see if I have to abandon all progress on Jaine to address it adequately. Oh! And I met my Christmas goal of 10,000 new words on Jaine. I’m pretty happy with what I have to, though I’m sure it will need serious re-tooling later.

For those of you who remember the collaborative blog post I mentioned that myself and Scott were working on, it’s still coming, but the holiday rush has kept it bogged down a bit. No worries though, it shouldn’t take too long from now.

In the entertainment sector, I’ve been wanting to start up Red Dead Redemption, but I’m beginning to doubt that I’ll have that kind of time. Besides, I’ve jumped back into reading. Specifically, I’m back into the Change series by S. M. Stirling, which some of my long-term readers may remember I was seriously into for a while there. After putting enough time between me and the in-book event that made me put down the series around mid-way through The Scourge of God, I’ve jumped back in and found I can enjoy it again. Furthermore, I polished off SoG in a just a few days and I’ve moved on to The Sword of the Lady, the last book in the series. So I’ll finally be able to get these books back to Dr. Robinson, who has been justly worried about his books for some time. [Update: Just finished Sword of the Lady. Might have thoughts in a bit.]

Speaking of worries, it’s about time we got to…

The Political and Social Crap:

In some respects, the year seems promising. In others… well, we’re off to a bad start. Let’s start with the Apocalypse.

"The Aflockalypse!" Oops, sorry for perpetuating an unfunny SNL skit. My bad.


Well, okay, not the Apocalypse, but something fascinating nonetheless. All those dead birds falling all over the place, and those tons of dead fish elsewhere. If you haven’t heard about it yet, well then read a newspaper, watch some TV news or check the internet (go ahead, Google it. I’ll wait.) The event itself is fascinating in a morbid sense, but that’s about all there is to it, really. Though if you’re one or omens, it doesn’t get more omen-y than thousands of dead birds falling out of the sky and dead fish washing up on shore.

"What dost yon dying birds mean!" "I hath nary an idea! I have not yet partaken of the Lost finale to know. They dost explain this tragedy do they not?"


Like this crazy lady. A supposed “respected prophetess” who says that repealing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell thing somehow caused it. This, of course, can all be read in her new book about how America is under siege from things like Pokemon, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and the ever popular Marilyn Manson. Needless to say, I lol’d pretty hard. Literally. Not the “I grinned a little” lol, but the “I laughed out loud” lol.

The Very Face of Satan and His Foul Henchman!


While we’re talking about wackos, let’s move on to the shootings in Tucson Arizona of a Congresswoman, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. The act was unquestionably horrid; the lashing out of an unstable crazy person. I mean look at the guy’s mugshot:

*SHUDDER* For you fans of Stirling's "The Change" series, is this not the face of the High Seeker?


Is that not the scariest thing you’ve ever seen on this blog? I just gave somebody nightmares by posting this. Non of these elements are readily disputed. What is disputed is where the meta-blame lies. I say “meta-blame” because the real blame lays squarely on the wacko’s head who pulled the trigger. Meta-blame is what happens when people draw parallels between their enemies and the crazy person. This isn’t unlike the word Nazi being shouted across from both sides of the isle at the other. Neither the democrats, nor the republicans are Nazis, even at their worst. Even the Tea baggers, whom you know I despise, are not Nazis (well… not in public anyway.) But see what I did there? That’s the problem, and even I fall for it.

This looks like something I'd post doesn't it? Hilarious, maybe. Acurate, probably. Constructive? No.


The truth of the matter is, we don’t know what exactly set this guy off. His political beliefs appear to be all over the spectrum. Claiming that he’s right wing because he shot a democrat, or that he’s left because he likes the Communist Manifesto and hates God, neither one is a full picture. It amounts to name throwing and taking advantage of the event.

Also known as a weapon of Self-Destruction


But one way or the other, no matter what sparked the killing and attempted assassination, it has sparked a debate over the political rhetoric in this country. Rhetoric so base, violent and foul that it barely qualifies as “Rhetoric” at all. That is a discussion worth having. Sarah Palin’s cross hairs (don’t give me that Surveyor’s mark bullshit) that are being taken down, Glenn Beck’s calls to fight and “take back the country,” Rush Limbaugh of the same, all of it needs to be examined for what it is. Responsible or not, these people have created an atmosphere of violence and hate. That is the last thing we need (lefties, ‘m looking at you too. Hate speech doesn’t just come from the Elephant and the Tea cup.) So I’m glad it is a topic for debate, even if most politicians and pundits are just posturing and bluffing to remain unscathed.

Seriously, though. Don't even pretend, okay?


The backlash against this already is wearing at the Republicans, largely due to the ever growing split in their own ranks. The Tea Party is biting the hand that feeds, as predicted. And so, Republicans are resigning to protect their families from Tea Party death threats. Oh yeah. The crazies have broken the chain. It’s only a matter of time before something gives, now. Here’s hoping nobody follows through and actually succeeds in killing a senator or congresswoman. My deepest well-wishes and prayers for Giffords and her family; thankfully she is doing well.

Of course not all of us are decent human beings who hope and/or pray for the violence and hate to cease. There’s also the Westboro Baptist Church, who had stated they were going to picket the funerals of the victims of the shooting, including the 9-year-old girl’s. (And the story around that poor girl is heartbreaking) I know I’ve said it before but, I DESPISE THESE PEOPLE! (There’s your caps-lock for the day). I could go on and on about how much I really, really loathe these people, but John Scalzi already said it better and more even-headed than I, so I direct you to him for that.

So we’re off to a rollicking start, ain’t we? At least the videogames look good this year.

– Edward L. Cheever II

P.S. Sometimes I pontificate, sometimes I aggregate. Today was more me providing links than commentary, but that’s because I’m tired and not in a ranty-rant mood. Give it time.