(TL/DR: I wrote my own tabletop RPG. It’s terrible, but I love it. The files are at the bottom.)
I’ve been mulling over an idea for a new blog post. It’s about the idea of “the perfect is the enemy of the good” and how it’s negatively affecting discourse, opinion, and results. It’s a heavy one, and I know it’ll probably piss off a few liberal and conservative friends, or possibly everyone. However, it’s so heavy that I haven’t mustered the energy to produce it. So this post has nothing to do with it. I don’t even really know why this is the introduction to this post, which is about role-playing games. I guess it’s because I treat my blog like a conversation between the two of us, and if you’ve ever talked to me in person you’ll know that I ramble a bit and go on tangents, especially when I’ve had a couple drinks and I’m my Authentic Self. So here we go on the blog post that is about as opposite as a heavy politically-motivated discourse as can be without being just a post of pictures of otters being the representation of everything that is good in the universe.
I love role-playing games of all sorts. LARPs. Video games. Hell, Choose Your Own Adventure books. But my ultimate love of the form is one of the first ones I discovered: the tabletop RPG. I read my first DnD rulebook when I was 10 and fell in love. My imagination soared with the never-ending story potential, and the side of me that later became an accountant loved the idea of rules providing a framework on which I could hang my imaginings. It was like playing Guns (that venerable game wherein two or more people take sticks and pretend to shoot each other, followed by the volleys of “Nuh-Uh” and “Ya-huh” to determine if someone was hit) but with a way to prove who had shot whom and what would happen. I loved it.
A while back I came across some old stories I’d written and mostly forgotten about. I remembered them immediately, like old friends you’d thought long lost. In the world of nostalgia and memory, they were beautiful. Then you look at them and you realize how ugly they are, and misshapen, and your very soul cringes and hopes no one ever sees them.
Then you do like I do, say fuck it, and throw them up on your blog.
I didn’t want to go.
I just wasn’t in the mood, really. I’d been working all day, and would have to do the same tomorrow. The prospect of driving for an hour to go home, then to ride in a car for two hours in order to be surrounded by strangers, followed by disappointing news, then on top of that having to ride all the way back home feeling down – it wasn’t an appetizing thought.
Hell, I was already depressed and anxious enough. Those two feelings tend to follow me almost all of the time, and it always takes at least a little effort to keep them at bay. Some days are worse than others, and on that Thursday they were feeling pretty damn strong. I struggle now and again with, well, a lot of things, and some days are harder than others. The really fun thing about my own particular cocktail of misery is that my depression makes me want to be alone, my anxiety makes me unable to cope with social situations (to the point where I often find myself unable to face the prospect of asking another person to give me food when they are literally being paid to do that very thing and so I’ll skip lunch instead), and – here’s the fun part – being alone makes me more anxious and depressed. It’s a good time.
(I am absurdly pleased to host this post (with the most) on my blog. These are not my words, but I am 100% behind them. I am also proud to have something worth reading on my blog for a change.)
Hi, I’m Jules. I’m Alan’s wife and I’m writing a guest blog here instead of on my own blog because I just got a job that requires me to interact with folks in DC and now I’m paranoid about the people I work with finding it. It’s not that I think they’d take issue personally with the content, it’s just that the things I have to say about this aren’t the most professional things I’ve ever said. So with that disclaimer, here we go!
So the year is 2017 and apparently, Charlize Theron only makes badass lady movies now. Let me be (probably not) the first to say that I am 100% here for that. Mad Max: Fury Road was hailed as a feminist masterpiece, which it unequivocally was. It was also just a really fabulous action movie and, considering it was a reprisal of an 80’s franchise, that’s pretty impressive. But I’m here to talk about Theron’s most recent empowering bombshell, Atomic Blonde, which is in a whole different class. It’s not set in a post-apocalyptic desert world, it’s set in late eighties Berlin. It’s fiction, sure, but it’s not exactly fantasy. That very fact is groundbreaking in terms of the portrayal of strong women.
That’s right! It’s podcast time. Since almost 5 years have passed since the last one, it seemed like a new one was due. This time, a former Shovelcast guest is back to review Mass Effect: Andromeda with me, the inimitable Allie Gebhart. Join two of the biggest Mass Effect fans in the Milky Way as we spend almost TWO AND A HALF HOURS half-drunkenly talking all things Mass Effect, occasionally breaking away from our lovefest over the original trilogy to discuss the new game. Honestly, we could have probably kept on going for 6 or 7 hours. Our takeaway: it’s a flawed game, but definitely worth playing, and we’re more than happy to tell you why.
I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming this weekend. This post will contain the mildest of mild spoilers for that film. Like, there are less spoilers for the movie in this post than there are in any given trailer for any movie. If you’re the kind of person who would be freaked out to learn that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a movie about the Marvel superhero Spider-Man, and pitch a fit about not being warned about it, this is the point where you turn away, as I am about to spoil the fact that both Peter Parker and Spider-Man are in the new Spider-Man movie. As I have now fulfilled my societal duty to tell people that a post about Spider-Man will reference a movie about Spider-Man wherein I mention that Spider-Man is in the film in question and a detail or two that have already been present since Captain America: Civil War, I can now move on to the part where I briefly discuss the movie, which isn’t even what this post is about.
Ooops, I forgot to warn people that Captain America: Civil War has Spider-Man in it before I just dropped it into regular conversation. It’s only been out a year, and I believe the current level of spoiler-warning necessity on social media is 75 years after the movie/TV show/book’s death. I apologize for my brazen lack of awareness and total lack of empathy.
Fair warning: If the title wasn’t enough to clue you in, this is a post about jackin’ it while getting your insurance company to pay for it. If you have zero desire to find out what it’s really like to provide a sperm sample, it’s completely understandable. If, however, you’ve always wondered if it’s like how they portray it in the movies, or you’re curious to discover what materials are provided for the purpose, read on. I promise to try to make it more funny than gross. Also, the pics may feature adult themes. Not like my junk or anything, but, ya know, fair warning and all that. You might see part of a heavily photoshopped woman’s butt.
Also, a hearty welcome to the new followers I picked up this week! You deserve better, but hey, you didn’t know what you were getting into.
This is the eleventh chapter of this story, which is at least five more than I expected there to be. If you want to read the others first, or if you’d like to read them in random order, here are the other chapter links. If, like everyone else, you have no desire to read this, by all means do whatever else it is you do on the internet.
I tried to be as casual as possible leaving the bar through the back door. I’m sure I failed miserably. Something about being out in the open when I knew a group of heavily-armed ex-military types were looking specifically for me and had already marked the place I was leaving had my usual equanimity buried under a thick layer of well-earned paranoia. The noodle place Severa was sending me wasn’t far but it wasn’t close either. I would have felt less naked in a skinsuit on stage working for tips. I didn’t want to risk the transit service but walking all the way to the meet-up in the open had my nerves on fire. I didn’t make it a tenth of the way before I headed towards the skycar traffic. I decided I’d rather get shot at the depot and get it over with instead of spending an entire three-kilometer walk waiting for the bullet.