Category: Misc

In which a marriage ends.

Some of you know this, some of you do not.

Rochelle and I have decided that we’re better apart than together. This is an amicable split. No one person did anything wrong. Instead, over time, we became different people. Neither one of us want anyone to choose sides, and neither one of us want people to feel like they have to. We continue a shared love of our dogs, and we wish each other the best for the future. We’re both going to need pillars of support, Rochelle in Seattle and me in Vancouver. Over 17 (almost 18!) years, amazing adventures were had, pets loved and lost, many friends gained.

Now, new amazing things hopefully await us both.

I’m up in Vancouver, and will have Basil Hayden and Medallion with me while Rochelle takes care of Aspen Blue, Adia, and flyball girl Eowyn Marie.

Explaining all this is always awkward. Yes we did “all the things!” people say to do re: counseling etc. It just didn’t pan out.

It was a great run. Better than most actually, because we decided to end it before it went down too many darker paths. Relationships are complex, and it’s always best to optimize towards happiness. That’s what we’re doing. We both think it’s a good thing.

I’m looking out over the Vancouver skyline and missing Basil, he has to be fixed before he comes up. We’ll walk in the park across the street. And everything will be ok, eventually.

50 Word Ghost Story

I did something I’ve not done in too long given life events and work and conventions and sickness: do a writing challenge. I have other obligations I am working on so this one cropped up and was the perfect 15 minute exercise for the creative side of my brain.

The fine folk over at Scottish Book Trust are running a 50 word fiction competition. This month’s theme is a write a ghost story in 50 words. I love ghost stories so I thought, why not? I don’t expect to win, but thinking about this story made me want to write more of it, and I’m actually happy they capped it at 50. Here’s my entry:

The table stands next to an overturned chair. The eyes of the woman in the portrait on the wall seem to gaze directly at it. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn. No one. Looking back, the chair is upright and the woman’s eyes now gaze behind me.

I Suppose I am Ready to Write About Robin Williams

I was catching a brief nap in our guest room, I’d been up way early doing work stuff in the forums and emails and such. Rochelle woke me by saying “there’s sad news from the Internet.” 

I was blinking back sleepiness, my brain has had way too many times of being awakened for need of action that it has become a tendency to activate 30% of my brain to process quickly. It’s almost an autonomic skill where I start doing things I want or need to do about one minute before I actually become conscious of it. The only bad part of that is snapping to consciousness and then processing what that 30% was doing vs. what’s the right direction to go in.

At first I thought it was a work thing, but realized that was the 30% mode. Brainfuzzy, I almost immediately then understood someone had been lost. Some contribution we all benefited from had ceased. That’s what sad news on the Internet usually means.

She sat down next to the bed and said “Robin Williams has passed away.”

I was flummoxed.

*That* can’t be.

There’s not an Earth I have occupied without the power of Robin Williams. I don’t want to live on an Earth without him. Then, almost immediately I thought, “Oh my god, his heart.” because I remembered he had had an aortic valve replacement. Then, one millisecond later I remembered he had checked back into rehab recently. All of this, all of it, processed in the space of probably one, maybe two seconds.

Not once did suicide occur to me.

I grabbed my phone and CNN had already broken the news of “death by asphyxiation” and I fell into despair. They only use that term for hanging or overdose.

I’m a humorist, not a comedian. I make the distinction because I love to make people laugh, and my method of standup and writing is more the storytelling aspect, if you happen to laugh then yay. But a comedian throws such effort, such passion, such talent into making people laugh with the concept of a one liner or jokes or storytelling that I feel that’s not the right way to describe me. I’m not in the class.

Robin Williams was a supernova of comedy.

The craft of being on stage is impossible to describe to an audience. I’m fortunate, I tend to be in front of audiences that are safe, for lack of a better word. I don’t do club standup I tend to perform in front of people who know they have come to see me. But comedians earning their living have to deal with hecklers or hostile crowds in addition to their human and psychological need to entertain and to make people laugh.

Not every comedian has demons they exorcise through comedy, I’m not trying to say that at all. But Bruce, Farley, Belushi, Kaufman, Hedberg, and now Williams. That’s just a short list. Those people rose above the ranks, and became the powerful entertainers of multiple generations.

I laid there blinking back tears. I tweeted “Oh no. oh no no no” because I could not think of any other way to articulate. I did not even think to hashtag it or give it context.

I remember Mork on Happy Days. Happy Days was sort of a fixture in our house when I was a child. The episodes with Mork were like nothing I had ever seen. Robin Williams had this smirk, this…way of shrugging his shoulders while smiling then immediately going 100% stone faced serious that was unlike anything I would ever see again. It made Mork human and alien at the same time. It was masterful.

Later as a kid I became addicted to “Evening at the Improv” on cable. And I saw my beloved Mork say the line “Behold! The moon, like a testicle, hangs low in the night sky!” making fun of Shakespeare. I laughed so hard my stomach was sore the next day. I thought of being on a stage and making people laugh that way.

We all probably have our Williams films or shows. Mork, Garp, Dead Poet’s Society, Fisher King, Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come, Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Hook, 24 Hour Photo, Insomnia, Birdcage…gifts. They are all of them gifts. Gifts of drama, or comedy, or hope, or even despair.

I don’t know depression, although panic and I have recently nodded heads at each other. I can’t fathom it, not from the standpoint of ignorance, but from the standpoint of hearing and understanding those who suffer from it. I cannot understand what it is like to feel it because I am fortunate enough to not suffer from it, and the knowledge of that is important when talking to those who suffer from it. I finally saw the far shore people who suffer from it stand on when someone put it this way “I’d kill myself if I just had the energy to get up and do it.”

I started reading the news reports through tears and I knew what had happened. Robin Williams had decided to end his pain. We are all the less for that, but someone tweeted “You’re not suffering anymore” and that made me just lose it.

Steven Spielberg once told a story that during the filming of Schindler’s List the subject matter was so overwhelming he called Robin Williams to ask him to make him laugh.

What an incredible pressure that must have been. They were friends of course, so I don’t mean to speak ill of Spielberg. But what a pressure that must have been, to be someone who is always “on” when needed. Someone who can be called upon to cheer us all up.

I remembered laying there that Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve were roommates and best friends at Julliard. Christopher Reeve is a hero of mine. Robin Williams is too.

I don’t believe in an afterlife.

I watched the twitter reactions roll in, posted many of my own. But just for a moment I wanted to believe there’s something beyond our experiences that we think of as our lives.

I wanted to believe it because Robin Williams gave us such a great gift in his body of work, such a powerful engine that we can run whenever we want to and it will take us to the places that we need to travel to emotionally.

In that moment before I had to get up and go through the “life moves on” phase, I wanted so much to think of a bright paint covered world, where a hero who died because he couldn’t physically feel pain any more said to the one whose pain was more than he could bear, “Good to see you friend, that bad part is done with.”

In Which I Wrote in the Alloy of Law Mistborn Universe.

This is going to be the month of shipping long overdue stuff. Let’s start with one that I am enormously honored to have been a part of.

Mistborn Adventure Game: Alloy of Law Cover

Product Information: 320 pages

Print and PDF release
Author(s): Alex Flagg, John Snead, Stephen Toulouse, Rob Vaux, Filamena Young
Artist(s): Ben McSweeney, Isaac Stewart
Crafty Games Product Number: CFG-7004
ISBN: 978-1-940094-91-5
Release Date: 2014-08-07


MY NAME IS ON THIS! I am a huge Brandon Sanderson/Mistborn fan. So when I got approached by my good friend Logan Bonner and Crafty Games a couple years ago about writing sections of this I flipped out. Then I calmed down. Then I flipped out. Then I flipped out again. I loved Alloy of Law. I loved finding out how the events of the Mistborn Trilogy changed the world of Scadrial.

Then, they told me the sections I would be writing for. I got to describe the Northern and Southern roughs, and develop the stories for Wax and Wayne and Marasi and holy shit! I got to work with some other amazing writers all in a world I was a fan of. And I got to create a little bit in that world.

It was a great experience writing for an RPG, and my first experience writing in someone else’s universe and trying to be bold and creative yet respectful to the fact this wasn’t my playground.

I thank Logan for his patience in helping me navigate some of the elements of writing for an RPG that make it different from pure fiction. The process was fun. I hope players enjoy it!

Transmuting Cruft into filthy Lucre

Every three or four years or so stuff just tends to pile up around me. In the coding world, bits of stuff that glom onto a project over time is called cruft. So I had a lot of techno cruft laying around the house. Old hard drives, laptops, a bunch of software and console games, a couple of iMacs that served us well for a long time. So I began to systematically assess the current “state of the state” as it were and do something about it. I began trading stuff in and selling stuff on eBay.

Trading stuff in tends to be more immediately lucrative, as most places will offer you “more” for in store credit. Sure you could sell the items potentially for cash in the same or higher amount, but the convenience of the in store credit can be super useful if it is for things you want that they sell at a good price. You can also, I should mention, donate stuff, as I did with one or two laptops that run Windows 7 just fine but weren’t really worth selling.

As such my old but faithful iMac got turned into, with some trading, a brand new 27 inch model along with an external 512gb SSD and 16gb of high speed RAM. I was able to score a Titanfall edition Xbox One essentially for free. Rochelle went from an old 24 inch 2008 iMac to an Alienware laptop hooked to a 27 inch monitor. Meanwhile my desk and the associated areas are becoming cleaner.

I’m even upgrading my Internet line. Isomedia, the ISP I have done business with for 11 years, simply cannot offer my house any better connection than 7mb down/768k up. That’s been ok for 11 years but in todays world of streaming netflix while downloading the latest Xbox One game that ain’t gonna cut it. So I bit the bullet and for a cheaper price per month I’m having a 110mb down/10 mb up connection installed today. Yay for progress.

Point being there’s certainly been times in my life when I’ve consumpted conspicuously. So it feels good to take a lot of stuff laying about, trade it in or donate it, and get one or two new things without having to spend some money. Maybe you have something laying about you can do the same with. I can only say trust me, it’s worth the time.