Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From Chapter 1: Some Years Earlier

With all the sensibility borne of a alcohol and a short temper, Roy slammed his forehead with a great crunching sound against the mound of muscle.

And it was right at that moment when time stopped for Aloysious. He glanced around the room. The ceiling fans were stopped. Gina hung motionless above a bank of manufactured cloud that didn’t stir. The mound of muscle was frozen in a grimace of pain, his body in the midst of falling down; the phalanx of equally muscled friends with looks of shock and anger stretched on their faces. Aloysious stood up. Everything remained still then a heartbeat later the world started to vibrate and he exploded in a cacophonous wave that suddenly thawed the motion in the room.

It was a violent thaw -- people knocked against each other, every bottle of booze at the bar shattered, and the closest people, mainly the wall of flesh and his friends, had their clothes shredded.

Gina seemed to be the only one unaffected. Hands on her hips, she actually appeared annoyed that someone had exploded at what was to be the climax of her routine.

Aloysious snapped back into existence. Roy didn’t even have to shout a drunken question at Aloysious before they started stumbling toward the exit.

Aloysious didn’t know what it was, but he knew he had to get the hell outside, to the relative safety of the Murder Capital of the World.

“Hey, boy,” Roy rasped. “What’s happening to your skin?”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prologue: The Future

The bar was full of the haze of cigar smoke, the smell of cigar was heavy in the air and accented by stale, spilled beer. The seat on which Aloysius sat was uncomfortable, the padding long squashed flat by an army of drunks before him.

He shifted again, the tenth time in as many minutes. The wait was itself uncomfortable, never mind the seat.

Someone dropped money into an jukebox across the room. Instead of warming to life, lighting up with bent neon tubes, the speakers crackled and hissed, and suddenly Aerosmith’s “Crazy” was ricocheting off the walls. It was earsplitting and it wasn’t making the wait any easier.

Aloysious knew he was in the right spot, could feel it. He'd already downed two Red’s -- Brewed in the Heart of Saskatchewan! the label touted -- and the third sat in front of him. He’d insisted that the bartender just leave it in the can. The “I like it that way,” explanation seemed enough. But Aloysious could tell from the bartender’s expression and sudden silence that he had Aloysious pegged as someone who wanted to get drunk fast and for not much money.

The change from the $10 bill sat in front of Aloysious. Three beers for under $10. That was the magic of Red. It was cheap and loaded with alcohol.

Aloysious glanced over his shoulder. A couple of biker types playing pool, two grizzled ladies of the evening crowded into a booth by the door not saying anything to each other, and a smattering of single guys, empty shot glasses lined up like some kind of glassware firing squad. Aerosmith was still raging. Aloysious looked down at the can then let his eyes slide toward the change.

He didn’t want to to acknowledge that he saw it but he had to admit it. The coins were vibrating, just ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly.

He scratched his beard, extended the scratch to the back of his neck. The coins were very visibly vibrating on the bar.

Whatever was about to happen, the thing he knew was going to happen, the thing that brought him here to this time, this place, this corner of Alberta, was just about to smash through a wall. Or possibly tear off the roof and reach into the bar to snack on a pickled patron.

He lifted the third can of Red to his lips.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Explosion proof!
I have this vague recollection of how I got my first "grown up" flashlight.

I was 8 or 9 and it was a gift -- Christmas? Birthday? I don't remember. I still have it. It's a black 2D Maglite. Over the last ~25 years I've had the flashlight, it has picked-up numerous nicks, scratches, at least one set of batteries leaked inside the tube, and the rubberized cover for the on/off button recently came off and has been lost. Still, it works and that's the important thing.

Even before that I had this weird attachment to flashlights.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Definitely a Chill Developing

Heading out to work the other day I couldn't help but feel the chill of Autumn.

Most of the leaves haven't started turning yet but there's that definite damp cold, not quite crisp, hanging in the air. It's enough to sting your face if you're racing down a hill.

It makes me think of street hockey, light fading sooner and much more quickly, but also sleep and Halloween.

We've moved to a place where getting "trick or treaters" at the house might not happen. I'd wager that it won't happen unless we specifically invite them. There are community events planned but it looks like my kids are going to miss out on what I remember so well about Halloween: Sprinting from house to house with only sugar on my mind.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


My weekly commute is one long ferry ride. On this particular ride, the route was covered in intense fog. Besides an unreasonable terror with the thought that The Mist had finally become a reality, it created the feeling that we weren't moving.

The sway of the boat, the thrum of the engines were a couple of signs that at least the feeling of motion was present. Inching toward some destination. But a look out the window provided only a sliver of water visible close to the hull. It certainly looked like the boat was moving. But really, we could have been stuck in a giant fish tank with a jet of water pushing against the boat and the only thing preventing us from banging against the back of the tank was the throb of the engine. It was a really odd feeling of equilibrium.

No backward. No forward. Almost like Time had vanished. It was unnerving.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Septic Sure is Something Else

Up until a few weeks ago, I didn't give much thought to what happens to the contents of a toilet bowl when the handle is pushed down because, hey, who thinks about that stuff? Get it out of my sight so I don't have to look at it!

For the last couple of weeks, I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it, pondering over it. That flushing action takes the contents somewhere and it's the process of getting to that somewhere and the somewhere itself that have stolen my attention.

Crash course on our septic system is this:
  1. Flush the toilet (drain the sink, run the washing machine, etc.)
  2. Water flows down the drain into a big concrete septic tank
  3. The solids settle out toward the bottom
  4. The liquid stays on top reaching a specific level before spilling into the pump chamber
  5. Once the liquid in the pump chamber reaches a specific height, the septic pump activates and pushes the liquid in the pump chamber up to the distribution box
  6. The distribution box is essentially a junction box with branching lines of perforated PVC pipe to distribute the liquid across an area that's known as the septic field.

It seems that at any point along the way the system could utterly fail.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Welcoming Committee of One

After days and days of packing up our possessions and lives, and some days to move all of them out of the city and into a quiet -- more accurately, a small island -- setting, I had finally put my feet up on the recently assembled coffee table and let out a bone-weary sigh.

It was quiet outside.

No sirens. No cars. No commercial jets.

Birds, a slight rustle of some leaves in the late afternoon breeze... just the hint of ocean air but filtered through cedar, fir, and arbutus trees.

I let out another bone-weary sigh.

"Dad, Dad!" my oldest daughter yelled from the front yard. "You've gotta see this!"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wax On! Wax Off! WAX WAX!

I really did think I would be blogging up a storm about games lately, especially with E3 in the rear-view mirror and the very recent flip-flop from Microsoft regarding their DRM/always on plan and the battle against used game sales, but I'm struggling with actually caring very much about games at the moment.

I'm not sure I want to turn this into a "Dear Diary..." exposition of my personal life but I feel comfortable enough to say that there are a lot of changes happening in my life and a particularly big change in a few weeks: moving.

I'll be honest, I hate moving.

It has a lot to do with the last time we packed up the house and moved everything.

We'd just returned from three weeks away in Florida and after a long drive back home from Seattle -- riding the bleeding edge of a snow/ice storm that turned the highways into bobsled runs -- and thought we were relatively prepared to move prior to leaving on vacation. How wrong we were! During the night, while we tried to shake jet lag, it snowed. Not a ton, but just enough to make manoeuvring a large moving truck extremely tricky. And, well, the list of things that went wrong extended from there -- more snow, taking way too long to pack our truck, etc. -- and at 1:00AM I was single-handedly trying to extricate the moving truck from the alley behind our new home with a shovel, handfuls of salt, and tubs of hot water. It was nasty! That was the first time I've ever been able to honestly say I was "bone tired" because I was barely functioning at the end of it and every step felt like an effort.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Killing Data

The other day I cancelled the data plan for my phone.

For some, this might be the equivalent of suddenly deciding to live under a rock.

But it was a move that I needed to take after I realized how much time I frittered away scanning Twitter, Facebook, news sites, etc. looking for something to fill the time while I commuted, waited for the lights to change, went to the bathroom... It allowed me to avoid thinking for any length of time because I could always jump to something else in a bid to be entertained or somehow educated and kept up-to-date on what was happening in the world.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Christy Clark and Me

The audio in the YouTube clip above came from an appearance on the Christy Clarke Show (on CKNW AM980 in Vancouver, BC) when I was guest just before Christmas 2007. I was there as a video game expert to talk about games, what was hot/not, what kids should and shouldn’t be playing, etc. Unfortunately for me – and I’ve done nothing to rectify this particular issue – I have zero media training so it’s kind of difficult to listen to five years after the fact.

Christy’s first question, “So, what are the hot games this Christmas?”

What do I do? I completely sidestep the question and start monologuing about ESRB ratings.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Couple Hours of BioShock Infinite

Hidden message in the title?

Besides getting a feeling of déjà vu a number of times during the opening hour or so of BioShock Infinite, I was struck by the repetition of character models.

Really, Irrational? This is the best you could come up with? Most games will hide the repetition of character models or mask it somehow, but BioShock Infinite does zero to hide the fact they’re all the same. The kid selling papers is the exact same kid sitting on the garbage can a couple dozen feet away! After having “rescued” Elizabeth from the tower and splash landed on a beach, the same issue appeared. Of the couple dozen NPCs going through the motions on the sand, there were maybe three different characters to see.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Take It to the Grave

One thing about this blog that I constantly struggle with is how much of myself I should reveal, especially because there’s some anxiety – fear? – that my kids or parents will find the blog and suddenly know things they shouldn't. (And just typing that sentence might be enough to get both groups to wondering.)

I’ve always viewed personal blogs as online diaries. But I think a lot of people don’t know how the Internet works.

People pour out their souls and innermost thoughts with little thought on how it might impact their job prospects, dating chances, and so on. Do you really want a potential employer or that cutie responding to your OKCupid profile to have the option of running your name through Google and finding that blog post you wrote about how you like to lick parrots? Or that travelogue of semi-legal houses of prostitution in Nevada? That half-remembered trip to Amsterdam? What about that post where you described in vivid detail the horrible rash developing on your inner thigh? Your marital problems? Your confessional post where you list all the people you ever stole money from?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Waffle/Spaghetti Divide

Too often I let me brain dip into quasi-philosophy where it has no business dipping. No reason other than the fact I'm so easily sidetracked by other things. Or I start meandering down some critical pathway only to get confused about where I was actually going with my Point.

In trying to order my thoughts and figure out what I actually, you know, think about things it often feels I'm swimming upriver, fighting a current or smacking up against a dam.

Some kind of wall.
I chalk it up to the Waffle/Spaghetti Divide. While I'm not one to hold up stereotypes, I will right here.

Think of a man’s mind like a waffle. Neat compartments. Now imagine each of those compartments to contain some problem or issue or thought or syrup. Man comes to a problem in one of those neat pockets, fixes it or addresses it somehow, then moves on. Here’s a problem; come up with a solution.

Think of a woman’s mind like a plate of spaghetti. A woman comes upon a problem – a spaghetti strand – and starts to address it only to find that the strand touches just about everything on the plate. You can’t start solving the first problem without solving or mentioning every other question, issue, or problem that original spaghetti strand touches.

Conflict is the follow-up to this horrible waffle/spaghetti meal.

While a man can pronounce an issue dealt with (therefore, forgotten almost immediately), a woman needs to swiggle all over the place touching on everything from the numbers of pets she had as child, the background of a woman she met last week, and how much she paid for a knickknack two years ago as she discusses with the man why she thinks so-and-so political party will be getting her vote during the upcoming election. But she can get to the point, no matter how circuitous. (Even if the principle thought banging around in the guy's head is, "When is she going to get to the point?")

I think these struggles with quasi-philosophy and trying to run down a point is just a little too close to spaghetti. My brain’s not used to working like that and when I try it not only frustrates me, it frustrates and erodes the patience of the person I'm speaking with.

There is some co-existence required of Waffles/Spaghetti Divide – having a demilitarized zone between each doesn't help anyone – so the next time your significant other tries to sum things up in a single sentence or rambles for 15 minutes before reaching a conclusion, just remember that your problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Love your waffles, love your spaghetti.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Brutal Menu

Playing Brutal Legend again on PC reminded me just how awesome the main menu navigation is. I'll be posting a clip of this somewhere for sure. Feels like a lot of creative energy was poured out to get this just right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


With every beginning, there's obviously some kind of end.

You see new sprouts popping up in some places as we get closer to the calendar start of Spring. A lot of trees around here get that hazy green look to them. Then, almost overnight, there are leaves and flowers. But before that -- the way things are right now -- everything looks pretty much dead.

It's the clockwork aspect of this cycle that has always intrigued me. If humanity vanished tomorrow -- every man, woman, child, and points in-between -- just up an went, the seasons would stretch inextricably from one to the next without fail. Trying to figure out how all of that works -- spinning of the Earth, tilt of the Earth, the orbit of the Earth around the sun, weather, ocean currents, and so on -- hurts my brain. The amount of balance required to keep things just so is difficult for me to comprehend, especially given the scale of, well, the universe.

I don't like letting my brain stray into that territory if only because it makes me feel like a speck. Barely a mote. Insignificant compared to the vast OUT THERE-NESS of the rest of existence, of which we've barely scratched the surface of and may never actually accomplish to any extent. Forget the rocket-to-face of discovering other life out there, if it's there at all. This isn't Mass Effect or Star Trek or Star Wars or Alien or ALF. This is reality and the reality of making a connection with some other race out there... well, it's billions of trillions to one. A long shot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1UP Show Finale (Fan Fic)

On December 17, 2008 -- the date's important -- I posted my 1UP Show Finale treatment on my 1UP blog. Basically it amounted to fan fic, but it could be seen as PROPHECY! I've copied/pasted it here from my 1UP blog simply to preserve it. Enjoy!

I submitted this screenplay to Demian Linn prior to his departure from 1UP and I held hope that the screenplay might be turned into an episode of the 1UP Yours Show. Matt Chandronait tells me that it won't be used leaving me free to post it on my blog. (It has a surprise ending and I wouldn't want to ruin it if it was going to be used on the 1UP Show.) It was setup as a finale episode, so keep that in mind, and written purely as a creative exercise to keep my brain active. (And please forgive the formatting!)
So, here we go!

DONAHOE crouches at SHANE BETTENHAUSEN’s desk, rummaging through the detritus and tchotckes underneath the desk.

He said it was here.  How the hell does Shane find anything in this mess?

SHANE walks into the office housing his desk.

You’re going to clean that stuff up, right?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dust to Dust and Vice Versa

If there’s one constant aspect of universe, a thing that will never change in this or any other dimension, it's that things will always break. Eventually, everything breaks down into component parts scattered to the Seven Winds of Chaos.

This pencil I'm holding, the desk I'm sitting at, my very bones and this planet will eventually split apart into infinitesimal pieces that could easily be sucked up by a vacuum cleaner.

Thinking about it too hard is enough to make me sigh and casually wonder about drinking Vodka at work.

What’s got me thinking about the dust-to-dust feature of the universe? What profound event has occurred to make my brain dip into the vast incomprehensibility of the MEANING of it all?

The van's in the shop having some work done on the brakes. Mostly, it's brake pad replacements.

If my pencil turned to dust in my hand, no big deal. A pencil isn't required to stop a ton of metal, plastic, and rubber buzzing along the highway at 90 km/h. Even with a full eraser on the “safe” end of the pencil wouldn't do anything to slow a van down. And a new pencil doesn't cost $600+ to replace.

Monday, January 28, 2013

No Risk, No Reward

Over the last few days I've done a lot of thinking. Maybe too much thinking, if there ever could be such a thing.

Maybe I'm starting into a mid-life crisis already and I just don’t realize it. That in itself is kind of a sad thought but that’s not what it is. It’s a stark realization – somewhat prodded to the surface – that I'm 36 and don’t really feel like I have any meaningful direction in my life. There’s nothing I'm working toward. Just working.

A radical departure might just be what’s needed to shake things up. I’ll have to talk to the bank or someone “in the know” about how I could go back to school full-time for 6 months and still be able to feed and clothe my family, pay for school, and still be able to fund my mortgage. Skills training doesn’t get enough play and if I was able to be awarded a Mulligan I’d probably have given much more thought – hell, any thought – to learning a trade of some kind. Like a lot of trades in Canada, there’s a standard that’s transferable to any province so it doesn't really matter where you end up, you could always find work. Building codes, etc. might be different but you’d be using the same skills everywhere.

And there’s something innately satisfying to stepping back from a day’s work and having something to show for it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michael Palin in Spa-a-a-a-ace!

If there’s one thing I don’t seem to have any shortage of its ideas.

Sometimes the ideas slow to a trickle when I’m feeling tired…

Come to think of it, a lot of my ideas come when my brain is fatigued and my body is a step above inert. Then there are other times, when I’m feeling good – rested! – and filled with that something-something that the French pegged so long ago, je ne sais quoi. Then ideas practically peel off my brain like some kind of metaphoric banana. There’s always more and more.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Working E3

The gamer part of my brain truly loves E3.

There’s spectacle, controversy, games, and free food and booze. The order doesn’t really matter, but that’s what my gamer brain starts thinking about when it comes to E3. I conveniently forget about dehydration – my worst headaches are found at E3 – tired feet and almost bitter Los Angeles water. And besides that year in Santa Monica and the year after that at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, my ability to hear things properly quickly degrades.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wheel of Time

When I got home yesterday a box with the 14th (and final) book in the Wheel of Time series was waiting for me. When book 13 was released, I plowed through it (for review) even though I had no previous experience with the series. This past summer, I read the first four books with the goal of "catching up" so all the blanks would be filled in.

I stopped at the 4th book - The Shadow Rising - because I was getting burned out on the characters, especially because the number of them was incrementally inflated to such an extent I really had to concentrate on the names and remember why certain characters might be important.

But when I saw the book, I was actually excited to read it. Coincidentally,  I'd just taken out out Tom Wolfe's latest "Back to Blood" from the library because I was looking for something to read during my commute.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sleeping Dogs - 68% Done

My eyes aren't what they used to be. I know this for a fact. I don't wear glasses but it's possible my aged 36-year old eyeballs may need assistance. At least, that's what I'm taking away from Sleeping Dogs.

I'm playing the game on Xbox 360 (and a hi-def display) -- having a good time with it for the most part -- and when I have the subtitles on, which is always, I have a hard time reading them.

The dialogue often dips into Chinese (or Mandarin or Cantonese, I'm guessing), sometimes just for a word or two then swings back to English, but occassionally there are entire exchanges in Chinese which are subtitled in English but the font size is so incredibly small it's like I'm constantly taking an eye exam.

The trouble extends to other parts of the game as well: any part with text, like the menus and mission summations.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A "Planetside 2" Smack to the Face

Geez, Planetside 2 really drops the player into the thick of things without explaining a lick of what is going on.

I played for an hour or so last night and it's obvious that I should have spent some time watching some of the suggested "How To" videos because I was completely mystified for all but the last five minutes.

As an engineer class, some of the "skills" I honed from Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I was at least able to help out by repairing tanks, but since the battle rages far and wide I felt a little inadequate, particularly because I'd sprint out into the open and be blown to smithereens and have no idea why.