Posts tagged “creative writing

The Secret Lives of Cats – Criminal Minds

Been watching a lot of Criminal Minds as of late. I know. Huge shock there. Ian watching a show about serial killers is SO out of the ordinary. AJ Cook is hot. I don’t even like blondes that much but man I’d eat my own arm for a chance to sniff her belly button. She can get it, keep it and do whatever she wants with it. Ok… TMI. My apologies. Anyway for those who have never seen the show it’s about a FBI task force named the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit). Their job is to capture serial killers, serial rapists, pedophiles, mass murderers, arsonists, etc in an attempt to profile their behavior for use against other sickos. It’s nowhere near as hokey as the CSI family of cop dramas though. It often tells tales of some pretty grizzly acts of human depravity not much different than what you find in the news any given day.

How does this tie into our cats?

Last week I had a case that needed solving. I had come in from running some errands to find multiple crime scenes. There was a poop in the bedroom, a pee in the bathroom and a gross heinous explosive puke in the bedroom closet. Immediately I cordoned off the areas to prevent the crime scene from being contaminated. I’ve logged plenty of years as a CD (Cat Detective) so I knew my keen detection skills would be needed on this one. An initial survey of the scene provided immediate results. I ascertained that it was not a tandem act but in fact a single criminal I was hunting. The two Cats of Interest have long and extensive criminal histories dating back to their earlier childhood. The fact that they’re brother and sister lead many to believe that they orchestrate crimes together but in fact they are competitive. Very rarely do they ever work together yet they both admire one another’s work. To my shock and dismay I ended up seeing an episode of Criminal Minds that called “The Last Word” where two serial killers were essentially competing against one another. This led me to believe I was dealing with a creature far more complex than I anticipated.

The Diva

Both siblings withstood grueling minutes of interrogation without cracking. I didn’t have enough evidence to pin it on either one specifically and feared I would not be able to solve the case before Suzanne’s return from Ottawa. After the clean up crews came in and cleaned up all the evidence I sat in my office trying to figure out who did it. Precious hours were ticking away. Everyone knows a case becomes incredibly harder to solve after the first 48 hours so I was hard pressed to find something to pin on one of them.

24 hours gave way to 48. Suzanne had returned home and I still couldn’t figure which one of the culprits committed the triple caticide. The last thing I needed was a serial shitter with a puking fetish in the office. Desperate, I tried to free my thoughts up by watching Criminal Minds yet again. I can’t recall the specific episode but as I sat there with the crime scene photos scattered across my desk, sipping my coffee, Agent Hotchner outlined a profile to the group of detectives and beat cops he was addressing. He said the perpetrator was narcissistic, had medium to low level education and obsessed with the act he had committed. The thing that stood out the most is when he said that the killer wants control over the situation and will often insert himself into the investigation. He’ll be at the crime scene, posing as a bystander, observing what the cops are doing. Sometimes he may even call in crimestopper tips to the cops leading them to the crime scene.

It was at that moment it all came back to me. I recalled when I first happened upon the first crime scene in the bedroom. As I surveyed the carnage I remember looking back towards the doorway. There he stood. Partially obscured by the doorframe but staring at me with his piercing orange eyes. My coffee slipped from my hands and shattered on the ground like US Customs Agent Dave Kujan’s did as I realized who had done it.

I raced into the bedroom once again and opened the door to the closet. There he stood; going over the crime scene I had cleaned up only a couple days earlier. He looked up at me with those cold orange eyes and smiled.

The Blob

If you have been never read The Oatmeal’s “How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You”  you’ll get a kick out of it. It gives some amazing and amusing insight into the mindset of cats. Cat owners deal with a variety of quirks with regards to their furry little companions. It’s never a dull day.

Freshly Sketched: Pike the Mad Elf

Game Name: Legacy
Game System: Palladium RPG
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Character Name: Pike
Game History: The Palladium Roleplaying Game System was my first foray into serious gaming. At the time I was knee-deep in Marvel Super Heroes and was gearing up for my first venture into Vampire: The Masquerade. I was surrounded by other closet gaming geeks therefore I was privy to knowledge not known to the likes of mortal men and women. One tasty bit of information came in the form of the super secret (but no so secret) location of a magical building called The Forbidden Planet.

I know. It just sounds nerdy, right?

It’s hard to describe what this was. It was like a gaming strip club for nerds. You had to ascend a flight of steps lined with Manga posters and collectors item toys before you actually reached the main floor. Flanking the stairway to your right was the Fortress of the Cashier post manned by the Sentry Geek. There he or she (depending on who was stationed at the time) would stand amidst a halo of gaming paraphernalia. From dice to cards to pewter figurines, you name it, the Sentry Geek had it. He was a bastion of worldly wisdom and would wait patiently overlooking the book and toy landscape. The Sentry Geek was a prophet and quite often could answer your questions with only a few words. The shop itself was narrow yet stretched for as far as the eye can see. Books upon books lines the walls. Statues, posters, painting supplies, board games, tv and movie memorabilia and even a life-size Wookie could be found throughout the tight spaced isles. It was a hobbyist’s wet dream and a playground for the gaming elite. It was here that the Palladium Fantasy RPG first caught my eye. I had long wanted to run a Lord of the Rings style game and this system sang to me like a siren on the horizon.

I ended up purchasing a total of 6 books for this particular game over the course of the two years (and still have them to this day).

The Character: Pike was by far my most favorite character to date and that’s saying a lot considering some of the outlandish roles I’ve had over the years. He was my first deviation from the “me look” and persona. He was brash, egotistical, arrogant and could start a fight in an empty room. Some could say I act like that now but back then it was a stretch for a low-key cool cat like myself.

The story took place in a world called Vale. It was a place of magic, mystery, mystical creatures, and kingdoms of men. Pike grew up in a time many thousands of years after the fall of the great Elven kingdoms. It was the Age of Man and not many of his people remained. Those that did went into hiding or had assimilated into human society, adopting their ways and their Gods. He grew up in a small farming community on the outskirts of the Western Empire called Thenyn. The first of three children by way of Varius and Ecstacia, Pike spent the early years of his life following his father’s footsteps. Varius,  the town blacksmith, taught his son the trade and had him working in the forge before he could even hold a weapon.

At the age of 12 Pike’s life took an unfortunate turn. Thenyn was attacked by a marauding horde of Midland trolls. They were merciless in their assault and slaughtered everything in sight. His mother and sisters managed to escape the onslaught but his father perished trying to save his fellow villagers. Those that didn’t find death at the end of a blade were taken captive and marched south towards the Old Kingdom Mountains. The trolls were doing the bidding of a ruthless band of mercenaries called the Red Blade. They had established a labor camp at the base of Mount Icera and were importing slaves from neighboring lands to work the quarry. For years he toiled without hope in sight bearing the loss of his family. Salvation came years later in the form of a liberation force from the Western Empire. Those slaves that managed to survive the years of torment were freed and the Red Blade was vanquished. With nothing left for him to go back to, Pike wandered aimlessly with his friend Rodius in the hopes of finding a new life.

Their travels brought them as far south as the Timaro Kingdom. There they found fame and fortune on the wrong side of the law. Life on the road had transformed them into thieves and hustlers, skills perfectly suited for the criminal underworld. By the age of 18 Pike and Rodius’ guild ruled Timaro from the shadows having put down all other major criminal organizations in the city in less than two years. Many bloody guild wars were fought but the Shadow Dancers walked away with an iron fist grasp on all illegal activity that transpired in the region. Life finally had purpose and they were on top of the world. That is until fate intervened in his life once again.

A man with and outstanding gambling debt requested audience with the guild leaders. Such a privilege was rarely ever granted but was approved regardless. To Pike’s surprise his was a face from his past; an old merchant that frequently traded with this village. He shared with him unbelievable news. He told of how his mother and sisters survived the massacre and that he had seen them as recently as the past year. Overwhelmed with emotion he absolved the man of his debt and relinquished control of the cartel to his long time friend. He set forth back to the Western Empire on a journey that would change the face of Vale forever.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • The character Pike spanned through a complete campaign that lasted about a year and respawned later in a game I ran several years ago.
  • He was totally a randomly generated character to begin with. I had modified a character generator derived from a Japanese RPG called Mekton that my friend had. That generator has been the basis for whipping up characters in almost every game I’ve run since then. It’s easy enough to customize to suit whichever system. Currently I modified it to work for the Dragon Age RPG. If you’re feeling really geeky (or just plain curious) give it a try. I even left some virtual dice on the Net for you. 😉
  • I tend to use the name Pike (or variations of it)  in video games and MMORGs as well. For example I’ve played under the name Lord Pike the Undying in World 9 of  Tribal Wars for years now. Course some of my tribe mates will dispute that since I’ve pretty much gone AWOL since coming up north. ;p
  • I’ve recently started adapting the first campaign Pike was involved into written work. Nothing serious though. Just a recounting of what went down told from the perspective of someone who knew him in the game. You have to understand that this game was run back in the olden days of ’90 – ’92 when computers where barely starting to break into households. All my documentation was handwritten in a notebook and about couple dozen pieces of paper.  Much of what I’m writing comes from memory and those few notes that I kept at the time. I’m trying to retell the story before feeble mind loses it forever. If you’re ever bored and want to kill some time reading pseudo-fan fiction just ask for a copy.

How long does it take you to make a simple post?

So it’s June 6th and no new posts until now. Way to stay on the ball there, Ian.  I’m a victim though. An unfortunate casualty of being a multi-tasker with a short attention span. I rarely post anything on weekends because blogging  (for me) is a time-consuming task for me. I daresay it comes eerily close to being work sometimes. I spend more time editing, tweaking and dolling up a post than I do actually writing it. But then again getting the many bits and chunks of my thought chowder into the bowl can be an effort in itself.

So what better way to post than to post about how long it takes me to make a post…

  • 9:15am – My task starts today with my Monday visits to my blogroll. I need to read so that I can get my brain jump-started to do my coding. I’m starting to feel the oppressive thumb of the blank calendar pressing down on my forehead so I’m going to make a post today… but what about? I’ve had tons of though vomit over the past couple of weeks but would any of it be worthy of a post? Why not write about how long it takes to make a post? I started the post a couple of weeks back but it only got as far as a title. Takes too long to write a post so I had left it. I figured I’d come back to it eventually…
  • 9:43am – Read more blogs than I originally set out to and noticed that I was missing a couple of key elements on my own. I usually make my Facebook rounds while I’m catching up on WordPress and realized I never put up a badge for my work page. Being the true slacker I am I haven’t checked the status of that page in a couple of months. To my surprise I have enough fans to actually get a legit Facebook page name. I can’t very well go and post without updating that first…
  • 9:56am – With the page badge added and other nick knacks tweaked it’s time to image hunt. Can’t very well have a post without at least one picture. Shouldn’t be too hard to track one down related to the subject matter….
  • 10:27am – That took far longer than I wanted but I found something worthwhile. Now I can upload it to the bucket and get to writing. Damn. Morning business emails are starting to trickle in. Have to tend to those first. Plus Suzanne and I are currently trying to hash out some personal business via email. I wonder if this post will get out before noon…
  • 10:59am – Just sent out a flurry of replies to business associates, still conversing with Suzanne while trying to write this post and get work done at the same time. I’m getting the uneasy suspicion that I’ve done a post exactly like this before. I have to check. My memory is for shit…
  • 11:07am – Okay. It wasn’t exactly the same but pretty close. That one talked more about how easily distracted I get during the course of a work day. Course that’s kinda what’s happening here too. Sheesh. Tracking that down was hard. For a person that balks about not writing enough I’ve written a lot. I really need to go back to my older posts and reformat them slighty. Not right now of course. I have to finish this bloody post off. Damn the perfectionist in me. Uh oh… another reply from Suzanne. Gotta read and respond….
  • 11:20am – Had to break out the calculator for that email. I hate math. Oh well there seems to be substantial enough content to justify a post. Time to spell check. Lord knows I’ve been a typo tornado in comments as of late. Don’t want to muck it up here as well….
  • 11:23am – 12 errors? Really? Trust me people, I’m not a complete idiot. I just can’t type. Seriously. 12+ years in front of a computer and I still rock the 6 fingers typing style. It’s getting close to lunch. I have to do my last minute formatting and preview it…
  • 11:28am – Damn. Lots of caveman speak and Twitter grammar. Need to clean that up and make it somewhat coherent…
  • 11:36am – Okay. That makes a bit more sense now. You suck balls spellcheck. I found a couple of errors you missed. You were going to just go and let me post that and look like a total fool. I’m onto you. Dammit! I forgot tags. I suppose I should add them now…
  • 11:43am – Tags entered. One more check before I publish… and I still don’t know what the HELL is a Wang Chung and why I would want to do it tonight?? Damn you iTunes…
  • 11:48am – Looks solid but chances are I’ll find something after publishing. Oh well. Total time consumed making this post:  2 hours 33 minutes. Awesome.

How long does it take any of you to make a simple post? 😉

Freshly Sketched: Steadfast


SteadfastGame Name: Marvel Super Heroes
Game System: Marvel Super Heroes RPG
Genre: Comic Book
Character Name: Steadfast / Ian E.
Game History: Around the same time I was knee-deep in zDayz I had invested some money into my first RPG purchase. That came in the form of the easy-to-run Marvel Super Heroes game system. I was in the height of my comic-love at the time so it seemed like the most logical choice to get my feet wet with in the legitimate gaming world.

MSH is all about being over the top – much like any comic book in the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. It was geared towards having fun and doing the impossible every campaign. While there were some aspects that were grounded in logic much of it was left in the realm of creative imagination. This proved to be a stark contrast to the grim realistic gameplay of  zDayz. MSH welcomed you to a parallel world where mutants, altered humans and technologically advanced characters with extraordinary powers and abilities were the norm. For a person with a warped imagination like me it proved to be fertile stomping grounds.

I was still an infant in the world of actual roleplaying so once again I didn’t stray too far from myself for this character. I know, the whole purpose of roleplaying is to act out a persona other than your own. However learning how to and being comfortable with acting is probably one of the greatest fears one has to overcome as a gamer. It’s exceptionally difficult to become a character that contrasts your own personality. Often you end up interjecting your own feelings, opinions and decisions based on how you would react to them as opposed to how the written character would. To that extent I give true actors all due respect for their ability to turn it on and off like they do.  I’ve come to learn as both a player and a gamemaster that it’s always best to craft characters for RPG rookies that are close to their own personas when they’re first starting out then gradually give them more complex ones when they have some games under their belt.

The Character: This game took place back in the days of Kid n’ Play, grunge music, Power Rangers and the first Gulf War. My character was a 16 year old brash and arrogant version of myself (though some may say just a younger version of myself now sans the flat top). The origin of the unlikely super heroes started out at Montauk Point way at the end of Long Island, New York. There I and three close friends, Alex, Danielle and Roselyn were enjoying a long holiday weekend at Alex’s father’s cottage. Although under the supervision of Mr. Diaz he was there sparingly due to work related commitments he had to tend to locally. That translated to a weekend of almost nonstop partying. After all, what else do teenagers do?

After a particularly debaucherous night of underage drinking and teenage mayhem the four of us found ourselves at the beach next day soaking up the sun and trying to shake off lingering hangovers. Unbeknownst to us that Saturday night, something happened nearby that would change our lives forever.  We were too busy in our wily ways to notice that a small object sliced through the midnight sky and crashed into the water off the coast of where we were now relaxing. Roselyn and I were goofing around in the water when she caught sight of something floating just outside the break. It looked like it could be a body and that quickly sobered everyone up to the seriousness of the situation. There were no life guards on duty and there were only a handful of people scattered about in this secluded section of the beach. I quickly motioned to Alex and he tore into the surf like Johnny Weissmuller. He was by far the best swimmer amongst us and quickly navigated his way to where the object was. He towed it back to shallower waters but obviously needed help. Whatever it was massive. The four of us managed to drag it ashore. It was a body indeed. A large hulking body that looked to be well over 7ft tall and over 350lbs.

As we stood in awe of the sheer size of the person we began to notice that it wasn’t truly human at all. Its translucent pinkish jelly-fish like skin, pointed ears and webbed fingers made us realize that were encountering something unprecedented. Before anyone could react, the creature started to move. It was obviously badly injured as it struggled to lift its upper body from the sandy beach. We gazed into its cyclopean eye in both paralyzing fear and horror as he peered back and forth.  By this time the few stragglers that were on the beach nearby started to make their way over. The creature then looked directly at the four of us and muttered something we could not understand in a watery yet metallic tone. Without warning the very veins in his body started illuminate and pulsate. His whole body began to shine with the brightness of a thousand suns as we were bathed in the light. Seconds later I started to regain my sight. I was on my back looking up towards the cloudless sky. As I struggled to hoist myself up I looked around and noticed that my friends were just coming to as well.

But something was wrong. Seriously wrong.

The three of them appeared to have aged at least 10 years. Their hair dangled down to their hips and they looked as if they had been hitting the gym 24/7 for the past 6 months. Before a word could be uttered the sky itself split like someone cut it with a knife as a mammoth alien craft materialized right above us. We looked at one another still in shock about the ordeal that just took place mere moments ago. Several figures suddenly appeared out nowhere next to us. They too are gargantuan in size and resembled the being we just encountered but these blokes were carrying incredibly large and complex looking weaponry. They quickly surveyed the beach and noticed the stragglers who were now just starting to come to. The apparent leader pulled out a device and pointed it at the beachcombers. In a thunderous voice he barks out an order in an indecipherable language. Two of his companions open fire with their weapons disintegrating the unsuspecting people in the blink of an eye. Not even their clothes remained. Two of the other creatures rounded the four of us and bound us with strange metallic manacles. Reality started to get watery around us as the last thing we see is the cottage in the distance going up in a tremendous ball of flames.  An instant later we found ourselves in the belly of the alien craft being led by our captors.

As we traversed the long and winding dimly lit corridors Alex manages to whisper something to me. He asks me what happened to the girls and why they aged. I reluctantly inform him that the same has happened to him as well. Puzzled by the revelation he casts a bewildered look at me and questions why nothing happened to me. It hadn’t dawned on me till that moment. Everyone but me seemed to have been affected by that burst of light. All of a sudden one of the captors became enraged with our secret conversation, turns and backhands me sending me reeling about 15ft into the wall. Rage filled my body as a rush of adrenaline erupted inside me. Like the Hulk I started to grow and grow ultimately morphing into an incredibly muscular, near 7ft tall behemoth with glowing yellow eyes and a flat top. The transformation was totally unexpected and the guards tried to rally to subdue me but were met with raw and unbridled strength. The chaos of the moment must have triggered everyone else’s powers as well. As more guards descended upon us one by one our powers began to spill out. Alex charged towards one aggressor and suddenly found himself engulfed in smoke and flame like the exhaust of a space shuttle booster. He seemed unphased by the combustion around him as he rocketed around crashing into bodies and walls alike. One alien raised his weapon high to bash Roselyn but as she cowered in defense a blast of white-hot energy exploded from her body totally vaporizing the assailant and burning a hole straight through the hull of the ship.

We could see the ocean below shimmering through a watery veil. Realizing this was our only chance to escape I quickly set my companions free from their shackles. I told Alex and Roselyn to try to reproduce what they did and cause as much destruction as possible. They proceeded to wreak uncontrolled havoc while I used my brute strength to rip open the hull at the spot of the breach. The ship trembled violently as Danielle looked on in disbelief. Bad things were about to go down so I snatched both her and Roselyn up and yelled back to Alex to come on. The three of us plunged out of the gaping opening and plummeted about 200 feet into the water below. Alex splashed down seconds afterwards as the alien craft above collapsed in upon itself and imploded out of existence. Remarkably none of us were hurt too badly from the fall. We managed to make our way back to shore, lost and confused. As the adrenaline began to wear off I transformed back into my normal self. There were too many questions and not enough answers. The only thing we knew for sure was that we could not go back to our normal lives. The four of us went into hiding to protect ourselves but those around us. We had been bestowed with unimaginable power and needed to learn how to harness and control it.

It’s Worth Noting:

  • I played Steadfast for quite a long time. In later campaigns the four of us were picked up by a group of fellow altered humans who helped teach us to use our powers. Although my power was similar to Hulk in that high emotions triggered the transformation at one point my power mutated to the point where I could not revert back to the teenager body. Imagine a 16 year old with the power strength of Superman.
  • Our origins and powers were strongly based on existing marvel characters. Mine was closed to the Hulk (as mentioned). Alex was based on a character from the New Mutants called Cannonball. Roselyn was based on X-Factor character Havoc and Danielle had the powers of Sue Richards from the Fantastic Four.