Friday, April 30, 2010

Asheron's Call


It wasn't just a game, it was an experience that I will never forget. It was the game that made me give up Magic. It consumed me whole in the same sense that Magic did when we first started. It was years and years of amazing fun.

But you can never go home again. Pete just posted on our boards -

"Got this in the mail the other day.

Come Back to Asheron's Call!
If you are having trouble viewing this email, view it online.


There is no better time than right now to come back to where it all began. Asheron's Call has continued to grow and change over the years. Here are just some of the new features we have added to the game for our Spring Update!

Shadows

Players can now choose to be a Shadow, living among the peoples of Dereth! Isin Dule has harnessed the power of the Lifestones to grant those who want it, a chance at life among those who follow the light! You can read more about the new playable race here!

Tailoring

To celebrate the upcoming wedding, the nobles of Dereth have sponsored artisans to help the citizens look their best. Tailors have appeared in many of the major cities, including Holtburg, Sanamar, Yaraq and Shoushi. These tailors create tailoring kits to enable citizens to customize the look of their armor if the character has an initial armor piece to work from.

Barbers and Hairstyles

In addition, barbers have also set up shop to prepare people for the wedding. These artisans can help you freshen up your look, using their expert techniques to restyle your hair and freshen your look. Their craft is not entirely mundane for they can even change your appearance as they freshen up your look. Located near the tailors, you simply talk to the barbers. If you can pay their price you will find a variety of options appear to allow you to change your style. The barbers are very particular about their time, however. You pay up front, and their fee stands regardless of what look you choose, even if you change your mind and get cold feet.

Multi-Slot Armor

Many blacksmiths have worked their craft in the lands of Dereth and ancient armor can be found all over. It is not uncommon for smiths to create large pieces of armor that offer coverage over multiple areas of the body. To the discerning adventurer trying to create the perfect suit of armor, however, these larger pieces can be inconvenient to fit into their suit even though the piece may have powerful magics and look very good when worn. Smiths have perfected powerful craft magic which will rework these pieces so they are much more efficient and cover less area. This allows adventurers to more easily fit pieces into existing suits.

Aetheria

By researching the ancient writings of Empyrean magic, the Archmages of the Arcanum have unlocked the secrets of a new kind of magical item know as Aetheria. Read more! "

To which I had to reply -

I'll come back when they say "We've reset everything, you can start in Yanshi and macroing is banned! Get here before the snow hits in the first update."

Until then, Magic online. :-)

Because all our adventures started in Yanshi and it was destroyed in some event. I can't imagine playing Asheron's Call without Yanshi.

In fact, I am wondering when they will come out with a MMORPG that advertises it will be reset every six months or every year with a new storyline or even the same one. What do you do in any MMORPG once you reach the level cap? You make up a new character and start over. Why not have that built into the game and have everyone start over again on the same day?

Also, Asheron's call had monthly events that had a compelling storyline and lore. Why not do the same thing and every month have a new chapter and each year you start a new storyline that completes in one year like an online novel?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Signs, Tequila and a Wedding.



This is a slightly older picture, but it looks sort of weddingish.

Well, I’m totally obsessed with Magic again. I used to get up, read some web comics, check out some politics, check out some MMA forums and possibly post on them. I would do this until coffee kicked in and then I would get to work.

Nowadays I get up, turn on the computer and immediately go to Magic Online to play some games while I sip coffee. I still check the news and check MMA websites during the day but for much less time than I used to. Wendy and I are playing Magic on the terrace at night after work gets done as well.

Yup. Totally hooked again.

In other news – Yesterday was an interesting day. I took a sign two feet wide and almost as tall as I am and walked around Madrid, standing in different spots where there is people traffic and advertised a free sample of my new book that is 18 pages long. Two hours later I had handed out two.

One guy was very polite and said it was a great idea, very innovative, wished me the best of luck and said he would write me if he and his girlfriend liked it. On the way home I was holding the sign sideways and a group of Americans were sitting at a little café and a girl cocked her head sideways to try and read it. I stopped and put it upright so she could. They liked the title and I asked if her if she would like a sample, she said yes. I asked if anyone else would like one and one girl said “Do we get a shot of Tequila with it?"

Sure, everyone who takes a free chapter gets a shot of Tequila! I’ll pay for the paper, the toner, the sign, two hours of my time and twenty Euro’s in shots so you guys can get something I hope you'll enjoy for free.

Let me introduce you to a little thing called profit margin…

No. No you don’t get a shot of Tequila for taking something for free.
Another guy said “We’re all together, we’ll share that one and that way you can distribute more.”

That guy gets a shot of Tequila.

Well, he should, but he didn’t.

I have to make this short today because I have to shower and get back out there in an hour and see if the tourists by the palace are more receptive. Let’s talk about the wedding for a second.
We don't want to lose the fact that this is essentially a celebration, of Wendy and I, of our life together now and into the future-and the best way for us to do that is to be surrounded by those whose love & friendship have made us who we are.

While there are events every day, not much of it is very formal or follows the traditional style of wedding. There is not going to be a chicken dance. There will be no money dance. Anyone starting a conga line will be shot and thrown in the trout pond. There will be no throwing of the garter. There is no best man, nor is there a wedding party. Wendy may not even be doing the bride walk in. We’re finalizing things like that now.

There will be a Pastor. There will be a short ceremony. There will be a cutting of the cake. There will be a very nice dinner and dancing at the reception afterwards. There will be an open bar for beer and wine. If you want shots, you’re on your own.

Since there is a riding stable as part of the resort, I very much wanted to ride to the ceremony bareback on a horse. Sadly, they won’t let me. They say I can do it if I use a saddle, but how impressive is that? Not very. Besides, the current plan we have makes it better if I don’t arrive first and stand and wait for the bride, so it’s for the best anyway.

http://www.wendyandjamie.com/

And now I must go out and pimp myself. Err… I mean, market myself.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Before



That is what I looked like when I met Wendy. (Click the picture to get a bigger view.)

In the post below are pictures of what I look like now.

Thank God Wendy remembered I was a nice guy in high school. Why else would such a beautiful, brilliant woman give the old me a chance?

Tip - Nice guys finish first.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Star City Games profile pic.



Wendy and I spent part of the day working on a new profile pic for my column at http://www.starcitygames.com/

Here's a small sampling of what we did. We took about a dozen pictures. I really like the one above, with the bull on the shirt looking up at me. Smile is off though.



This one is kinda cool but the blue behind me ruins it I think. And it just looks like I'm standing in tall grass inside. We dragged the plant elsewhere and came up with this -




Which we both agreed was the best of the dozen and have submitted to SCG's as my new profile pic. Just sent in my column. No idea when it will be up. Wendy is having a Grrrls night out so I'll be playing Magic Online all night. (For those readers who don't understand Magic, my decks are usually mono-green and green represent nature.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We have the technology; we can rebuild him.

I’d like to say the metrosexual project continues but for once, this has nothing to do with how I look. In the past five years I have made some amazing transformations.

I dropped forty pounds, got a real haircut, grew a goatee, bought more stylish clothes (thanks to Wendy) got and removed braces, had my teeth whitened and am now working out three times a week. I look better now than I did when I was twenty.

Monday’s appointment was in the same vein of improvement, but isn’t cosmetic. It annoys me to say that my eyesight is diminishing every year since I turned forty. My eyesight was a gift to me. I considered myself to have super vision and even excellent night vision, seeing movement and just plain better than almost everyone I know. I’ve always been proud of my eyesight. And then at forty it just started to dwindle until now I wear 1.5 and 2.0 reading glasses all the time. Even when not reading. The world just seems out of focus without reading glasses on.

Monday we went to an ophthalmologist to get my eyes tested and, hopefully, get laser surgery before we headed home for the wedding this summer. After two hours of testing and dilating my eyes and testing again we were led into a cute little doctor’s office. And I don’t mean the office was cute, but the doctor who was five foot nothing, a hundred pounds soaking wet, long blond hair, and just slightly older than us. She examined my eyes some more and looked into them with a penlight for any damage that the tests might have missed. Let me tell you, when your eyes are fully dilated and someone sticks a penlight into them, it hurts. I almost cried out, but of course I didn’t with two beautiful women in the room…

Then she explained the problems and the options to us with Wendy translating when the Spanish got too much for me. Which was most of the time. Anyway, it turns out that I have problems with pretty much everything. I am near-sighted and far-sighted and it’s only going to get worse because the lens in my eye is only going to continue to deteriorate with age, and if I understand it correctly, the two problems exacerbate each other. Sadly, laser surgery would do little to correct the problem that I have, but luckily there is an even better option.

See, when you get laser surgery, it corrects your eyesight, but your eyes continue to deteriorate with age, so eventually you are going to have to go back in and get laser surgery again. Now here’s the cool part.

She can replace the lens in my eye with man-made lens called multifocal intraocular lenses. These handle both of the problems that I have with two added bonuses: I’ll now be immune to cataracts, and I’ll never have my vision go worse from age. How cool is that?

The downside is I could go blind.

Shocked yet?

I did it for effect. Sort of. In reality, there is a risk of rejection of the fake lens, and risk of infection. All surgeries have risks which is why they only do one eye at a time. That way, if you have complications and go blind in one eye, you still have one good eye that you can 1) Hope doesn’t go bad with the other lens, or 2) wear stronger and stronger glasses for your one “good” eye for the rest of your life. If you try twice and your body rejects both lenses, then yes, you could go blind.

I’m looking forward to it. No, not the blind part, the part about having amazing vision that never needs to be corrected and doesn’t age! Woo hoo! Won’t that be awesome?

Sadly, we don’t have enough time to do it before we head home. We could get it done if we didn’t already have a bunch of appointments, work, there were no complications and we didn’t care that complications might arise that would keep us here longer causing us to miss the flight home.

Oh yeah, and after the surgery I’m not allowed to lift anything over ten pounds for a month so that would be fun dragging suitcases up and down flights of steps and through airports and into car trunks all at the risk of tearing a stitch in my eye and going blind in that eye. And working out would be finished for a while and I want to be buff for the wedding. I doing bench press reps with eighty kilos now which I think is like, four-hundred pounds or something, so I’m really getting there. :-)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Magic




Wendy and I have just had a long talk.


I am getting back into Magic and making a run for the title.


My goal this time isn't going to be to get back on the Pro Tour, but to win a Pro Tour.


Secret Force: Quest for the Pro Tour II will be available in early June. The reason for this is I need to proof the physical copy of the book that is sent to my house in Vermont and we will be there June 2nd.


I will be playing Magic Online until we go home then playing physically anywhere I can find a game while there. When we return to Spain in September I will be playing at a local shop a half kilometer away and writing about playing Spanish Magic with a limited vocabulary.




Three of my Favorite Things




Wendy, Castles, Segovia.
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Just because I know some of you like to look at Wendy almost as much as I do.
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(Sigh. The extra periods you're seeing force a line break. Blogger won't give them to me today. I'll work on my HTML next week so I can fix this myself.)
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Wendy and I have put almost no thought into the ceremony. What matters to us is the gathering of friends, the dance party afterwards, the introduction of friends that have never met. Last night we had Lena, Stefan, Ruth and Sergio over for fajitas and a game of Carcasonne, and I realized that Lena has never met Lorelei. This shocked me. I don't think Leigh has met Lorelei. Dave has never met Leigh. How is it that these great souls, these wonderful people, do not know each other? (I could list a dozen people I consider great souls that have not met each other but that would go on for a long time. Seriously, every single person I have invited to the wedding I would gladly take a bullet for.)
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I asked Wendy if we should write our own vows and we don't know. The thing is, we tell each other each day, how much it means to have the other in our lives. Do we need to say it in front of a bunch of people when every day we curl up on the couch and tell each other how lucky we are? How much we love each other and why? Do we need to say that in front of other people for some reason?
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I realized the next day what I would say, and how I would write it, and I thought I was going to write it here, in this post... then I realized that would spoil the words at the ceremony. So, enjoy the picture.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Advice for Parents and Students

I am sorry for the formatting, Blogger is ignoring carriage returns on some paragraphs again.

I wanted to tell you what high school was like for me, because I feel it might help students doing poorly, or parents struggling with a child in this instance.
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I received horrible grades. I failed classes and the classes I did pass I did less than average in.

Like all parents in this situation, they weren't happy. My father was a teacher at the school and was embarrassed in front of the other teachers who I had classes with. My parents tried everything. Rewards. Punishment. Private tutors. Nothing helped. Eventually they tested my I.Q and found I was slightly above average.

I was on a schedule and every day I was sent to my room to study and do homework. Usually in that time I would close my door and read comics, or work on my dungeons and dragons game or other things I found fun.
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The next day at school, I would look like a fool when the teacher called on me and I didn’t know the answer. Or I would get a test back and see a 42% on it. Another fail.

But, I was happy, I was popular, I had girlfriends, and I was on the wrestling team until my grades took me too low to compete and I was off it for weeks until my grades came up.

“Don’t you want to go to a good college?” my parents would ask me? God, yes! I wanted to go to college more than anything. You’re a loser if you don’t go to college was my friends and my thinking. But, I knew I would get into a college. I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew it. I wasn’t worried.

Well, my parents never got through to me. My grades were below average and I failed two classes my senior year and just barely graduated.

My parents asked me to take a year off from school before going to college and the only reason I got into a college was because my wrestling coach was best friends with someone at the college.
In that year off, something changed within me. I started to thirst for knowledge. I wanted to learn. I didn’t want to work at the job I was working at for the rest of my life.

When I went to college I found out a few things-
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1. I learned NOT to take notes in class, but to just listen.
2. It is a lot more fun to be in classes participating in the discussion going on, learning, and taking in knowledge.
3. It is a lot more fun to know the answers on tests and get back good grades.
4. It is a lot more fun to be in classes when you can raise your hand and know the answer.
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When I was in high school, the teacher would stand up and lecture and we took notes. And I would get frustrated because while he was talking, I was writing. By the time I got done writing, he was three sentences ahead of me, or had even changed topics and I was lost. Literally, even when I tried, I couldn’t keep up because I was taking notes.
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Once I learned to just listen, and follow along, and take very little notes, I was able to keep up in class better. I could follow the conversation where before it was fact, write it down, lose the point, get lost, try and take another note, not understanding the relevance. So, I was always lost. At that point I would then start doodling on my paper or looking out the window and trying my best not to get called on.

In college I learned to just listen. I started to understand what was going on in class and being able to have an opinion on a book or subject was so refreshing! It was so great! I was part of the class! I wasn’t an idiot! I started doing the homework so I could participate more and my grades improved every year until I graduated with a 3.4 average for my four years. (Scale of 1-4)

Today, there are great gaps in my basic knowledge because I didn’t know how to “not take notes” or how to learn or how much fun it would be to actually contribute in class and have an opinion or how much fun it would be to actually get a good grade. Today, I miss these great gaps in my knowledge but there was nothing I could do to fix it at the time. I would say regret but regret involves a conscious choice to not do well and that wasn’t it. I just could not do well in school.

There was NOTHING anyone could have said to me in high school to motivate me. Not bribes. Not trips. Not threats or groundings or anything. I wanted to do well, I just didn’t know how.

No one could do it but me. My most important discovery was learning that I couldn’t take notes or I would lose the point of the conversation. As soon as I learned that, I started to do better and like a rock rolling down a hill, I gained more and more momentum and got better and better.

I don’t know what it is your mind needs to start the rock rolling down the hill. It might be the same thing as I did, by just listening in class and not taking notes. It might be something else. Only you can discover it, and once you do, you cannot stop the rock rolling. You will do better and better in school and it will be more fun and satisfying.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Magic Wedding Registry

In researching how to promote my book (this entire week's project) I am pointed towards "tags" and "listmania" on Amazon.com. In trying to make a list, I say to Wendy, who is making a salad ten feet away, "Hey, we can do our wedding registry right on Amazon."

"I'm waiting for you to ask if you can register for Magic cards."

"Hahahaha... Wait. Yes." Or better yet, Magic Online gift cards...

Oh the wheels they are a turnin'...

Looked over the Eldrazi spoiler today and it's like Wizards is "drunk-dialing" me. You know, when you've had too much to drink and you call up an old girlfriend and beg her to take you back and swear things will be different? How she was the best thing in your life? Remind her how great things were.

Yeah WOTC, I see what you're doing. I see those behemoths and those green mana producers and that 8/8 trample worm that only mono green could ever play. Oh, I see all of that, you devious temptress.

Wait, did you just post a listing of Secret Force as your deck of the day?

I'm going to have some drinks and call Mark Rosewater.

Ah, it's nice to be remembered.

http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/deck/428

Thanks to Marc Di Tomassi and David Gerlach for pointing me to this link.

I think I'll go check out what Eldrazi is all about now...

And then get back to work on the final edit of "Secret Force: Quest for the Pro Tour II"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Perhaps you've noticed...

I have a new book out.



Some people can't see the above picture link to Amazon because of ad-blocking software so here's a text link.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1450513190/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1RYC8TDT4M1PDPTGXSGG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846


Wendy wisely suggested a couple of things.

1. A better description might help. I get complacent thinking that I don't need to advertise myself, forgetting that some people who visit this site might not have any idea who I am or what my writing style is. In fact, my very sophisticated little counter tells me almost 40% of page views are new to the site. So, that said, here's a better description of the book.

"Jamie Wakefield had achieved everything he always wanted. He was happy. He was bored. Then he met Wendy, a woman from his past, now living in Spain. Though he had never even wanted to leave Vermont, Jamie followed his new love to a new country. And found exactly what he needed and never knew he wanted.

This is Jamie's humorous and moving description of his soul's rebirth and his breathless wonder at this new world. He takes us along as he discovers that Europeans, in fact, aren't just like Americans. That fish eyes, goose barnacles, and octopus are actually delicious. He shares the complete agony of learning Spanish at forty-one, his awe at the grand and ancient scale of European architecture, and his amazement at falling in love with the drama of a tiny man staring down a twelve-hundred pound bull.

From the back cover: "Do you know they eat babies in Europe? Yeah, every chance they get. Suckling goat, suckling pig, suckling lamb, you name it, if it's on its mother's teat they can't wait to pull it off and roast it over a roaring fire.

Do you know what it's like to have a two-hundred pound cow, with horns, slam into your knees and throw you over its back completely ignoring the cape you're waving in front of it? Because I do, and let me tell you, that is not the fun part of a capea.

Do you know the patron saint of Segovia looks just like Gandalf and turned back advancing Moors intent on attacking the city by drawing a line in the sand with his staff and shouting "You shall not pass!"?

You may also be amazed to know that if you accidentally create a six foot high flame in your barbeque and Madrid firemen in full gear climb four flights to your apartment and find no fire (called in by two neighbors) they will not fine you but actually compliment you on how well the steak is cooked?"

Author Description: Jamie became a legend in the Magic: The Gathering community for his self-deprecating wit and laugh out loud commentary about an ordinary guy taking on and living the extraordinary. His first book, Quest for the Pro Tour, describing his attempts to make it to the first Magic Pro Tour has a five star rating on Amazon, is a classic of the genre and has been described as "the best Magic book, EVER." Now Jamie takes us into his new life living out a dream he never knew he had.

Jamie has a BFA in Writing from Johnson State College. He has been a popular columnist and contributing editor for Scrye & The Duelist magazines, the Dojo and StarCityGames.com. His blog www.jamiewakefield.com receives twenty thousand hits a year. Jamie splits his time between Vermont and Madrid with his fiancée Wendy.

Amazon and CreateSpace seem to be slow to update or out-of-sync somehow. Amazon is saying from my book page that there isn't a Kindle version available, but there is. Also available from Amazon.

I'm looking into it but for now you can click the link below to order the Kindle version.

http://www.amazon.com/not-Alcoholic-just-European-ebook/dp/B003DQO51I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1271155415&sr=8-2

Monday, April 12, 2010

UFC and quick rambles

I scream from my keyboard - "YES!"

Wendy who is in the kitchen and probably thinks I have just received a book contract wonders "What? What?"

"BJ Penn lost!!!"

Other than that, it was a very disappointing UFC.

Could Damian Maia have been any more of a warrior?
Has there ever been a more disrespectful, embarassing champion in the UFC than Anderson Silva?
Could Matt Hughes have had an easier fight?
Could Renzo Gracie have looked more out of shape?
Could the fight between BJ and Edgar been more of a boring kick-boxing match?

The answer to all of these questions is no.

Maia earned my respect. It must suck to be a Gracie these days. They originated MMA and they haven't had a win for years now. Matt Hughes looked okay but it's clear he will never dominate like he used to. It's clear his reign was based on being a huge, good wrestler. The division is stacked with them now. Anderson Silva makes me sick. That performance was just so embarassing to him, to the UFC, and to the fans. The crowd actually started chanting "GSP" in the middle of the fight. GSP wasn't even fighting! BJ lost so that's good, but, I like MMA. The entire BJ fight was a kick-boxing match with neither willing to really "go for it." It was very technical and safe. I don't like technical and safe. I like balls to the wall win big or go home. All credit in the world to Frankie Edgar, but it just wasn't the type of fight I like to see.

There were bright spots of the night. One was Kendall Grove's performance. And he lost. But he did such a brilliant job showcasing submissions and transitioning it was a thing of beauty. I cannot imagine how he did not eventually get a tap. I mean, the first round should have been scored 10-7 he was so dominant and impressive with both his Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu. Just a clinic before he got caught with some ground and pound.
Terry Etim vs Rafeal Dos Anjos was also a great, great fight with some great stand-up and ground work by both guys. That's MMA to me.

Chris McMahon just sent me a link that I find very amusing and you'll all see why I can relate to it so well. Well, except for the fact that he's an international best seller.

http://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/2009/02/

Just so you know, I am very happy these days. Very, very happy.
Although some days, the banging from the construction going on all around us threatens to drive me insane. They are working on three buildings at once, all around us, and somedays all we hear is the steady beat of hammers determined to drive us mad. Like, right now.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Which Charity Would You Support?

Before you read this, remember who I am and what I stand for. I am 100% for gay and lesbian equal rights in everything. I am 100% for helping the homeless and feeding children. I am 100% for America continuing to be the melting pot of the world. What I talk about in the following, is a rant about priorities.

Wendy and I LOVE Top Chef. We have seen every season thrice. I can quote contestants, seconds before they speak. Sadly, the show does not run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My mind cannot grasp why not. Like heroin addicts, we are both looking for video methadone to hold us over until the next season starts. Sometimes it’s Anthony Bourdain, sometimes it’s Kitchen Nightmares, and if we could get our hands on it, Chopped, which is not available for download, not from the website, not Fnac, nor from Amazon.

Luckily, there is Top Chef Masters which has just started up again. For those who don’t know, this show is about chef’s who have already established themselves as stars in the culinary world and they compete for charity.

It boggles my mind the charities these people pick. Help for immigrants? Help for soup kitchens? Help for people with ADD? Help for people who are gay or lesbian?

Look, I don’t mean to be cold, but there are serious issues that need to be solved. Like, I don’t know, CANCER which kills 1.3 million people a year! Or maybe repairing spinal injuries or blindness!

One guy just said he hopes to win the $100,000 prize for his charity “Feeding America.” Look, maybe I’m just bitter this morning, but if you can’t get food in America, you are retarded. Another guy is supporting education about gays and lesbians … Look, if you’re gay or lesbian, no amount of money is going to help your situation. If someone discriminates against you in America, there are laws in place. If you’re in a middle-eastern country that will stone you for being gay, no amount of money is going to change that. The country needs to evolve on its own. It should evolve, but no amount of money is going to speed up the process, I’m sorry. Your charity might as well be “Peace in the Middle East” or “Free energy for all from a perpetual motion machine” or “Everyone gets a unicorn.” Then there’s a guy supporting a camp for kids who have had kidney transplants. HAVE HAD! He’s not supporting kidney transplants, but the CAMP they go to AFTER.

Seriously?

Don’t you think the hundred grand could be better spent on people NEEDING a kidney transplant? Or fixing kidneys? Or spent making sure people fill out their donor card when they die?

The guy’s charity that drills wells in Africa so whole communities can have water, that one I like. I like water. Everyone should have it. See, that’s a real cause.

If I was competing for $100,000 for charity, I’d think pretty hard about where that money would go.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm not an Alcoholic, I'm just European!

Yes, it is finally here.



I hope you enjoy it. I have spent years on this book, and it is finally available. It details meeting Wendy, discovering Madrid, the growing romance, having to be with her, then the wonder of Spain and other parts of Europe.

Also available in the Kindle store.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things You Should Read First

Ow. Please stop. No, seriously.

That’s my arms' reaction as I try to type this. Despite my snoring all night and keeping her awake (which rarely, but does occasionally happen) the very determined Wendy still wanted to go to the gym. I rode the bike for ten minutes and then went to do free weights. Turned out I timed my caffeine intact perfectly and had a lot of energy. So, I just kept going. I did five sets of bench press, four sets of curls, four sets of shoulder presses, four tricep rope pushdowns, and three sets of lat pulldowns. Just as I was starting to wonder if she left without me, Wendy comes out and smiles at me. “Almost done?”

“One more set of these.”

“I got done my run and thought I would just walk until you came in to get me. Ten minutes later I had to come out and see what was going on.”

Good workout today. I just kept going. And now I can barely lift my arms to type. Go me. So, as I sat here recovering I looked over some web comics and The Ferret’s blog which he updates far more than me, which is a good thing because it’s inspiring. Notice the more frequent updates? Credit to him.

We saw Invictus the other day and found it very well done. The first half of an hour focusing on Mandela’s vision and wisdom was worth the price of admission alone. A great, great man. One of the flaws, in my humble opinion, was not enough of an explanation of rugby. You’re playing to a mostly American audience and they explained one (ONE!) rule of how the game is played. I would recommend seeing the movie, but I think you will enjoy it a lot more if you familiarize yourself with the game first. Just do a quick Wikipedia read or something.

The Bible’s good reading too. I still have not finished “Lamb” by Christopher Moore which is a humorous look at the possible life of Jesus from the age of six to thirty. It’s humorous historical fiction which I don’t find blasphemous at all, but those more easily offended could, might, possibly, I don’t know. But like Rugby, I bet I would be enjoying it even more if I knew more about the Bible, especially the disciples and apostles of Jesus.

I can’t praise this book highly enough. It attempts to explain a bunch of things, gives you a look inside why Jesus did not become King of the Jews, how his philosophy was different and radical and upset the Pharisees, etc. And it is so clever and funny, I have laughed my ass off the whole time reading it. I wish I had done a wiki on the apostles before reading it though. There’s a bunch of stuff that I don’t know about the Bible and it always irks me that I don’t have this knowledge so I have been searching for a concise, modern version I can read. Online of course.

So far I found this-

http://condensedbible.com/default.htm

which is what I was looking for, but is also a bit long winded. But, on the other hand, skips things I know about that aren’t there. Like Lilith. Didn’t God create a woman before Eve that rejected being Adam’s subservient wife and left for the land of Nod?

I’m learning though. Like, there were people other than Adam and Eve when God created the world. What? Wait, I thought Adam and Eve were the progenitors of us all? Their first kids were Cain and Abel and we know how that worked out. So, now there’s three people on the Earth and God is cursing Cain for killing his brother.

“God said to Cain, ‘I will not let anyone kill you. If anyone kills Cain, I will hurt that person 7 fold.’ Then the Lord God put a mark on Cain to let other people know that they must not kill him. Cain left God. He went to live in the land of Nod, which is East of Eden.”

So, I’m learning a lot. (When I’m not working out and editing or updating this blog.)

Anyway, learn something about the apostles and then rush out and buy (or download to your Kindle) “Lamb” by Christopher Moore.

And finally, on a lighter note in the religious theme, this is pure win :

http://xkcd.com/724/

Monday, April 5, 2010

Our new friends, Quicksilver, Eric and the Pope.

I have screwed up another book proof so there was no release last week like I had planned. I also sent it to the wrong address so it was lost for a little while. I swear to God this book is never going to be finished. I’ll be working on it again as soon as I finish this blog post.

Sorry for the delays in posting. I blame Eric and Secret Force. (I spent last week editing Secret Force: Quest for the Pro Tour II and could not pull myself away.)

Eric is our very clever and extremely intelligent friend from Paris who came down to Madrid for a few days. He’s almost as smart as Wendy. Yes, that smart. There was no subject I could bring up that he was not informed about and had an opinion on. We met at the Mercado de San Miguel and, miracle of miracles, found a table. While I held onto the table they went in search of food. Wendy asks Eric “Are you hungry?”

Eric responds “Does the Pope protect pedophiles?”

And thus began our weekend.

We took him on a tapas crawl and showed him our favorite places. We stopped into the place that we think has the best Spanish tortilla (eggs, potatoes onions, and if you’re lucky, maybe some red peppers or chorizo) in Madrid. It’s a little seafood bar off the Plaza Mayor and the first time we went in there we had an amazing bartender who actually took his break, and shared his dinner with us!

We went in with Eric and he was behind the bar. We haven’t seen him for a while despite stopping in every now and then. We get a couple drinks and a half an hour in he tells us “You don’t remember me but I served you on my first night working here.”

“No hombre, I totally remember you! You shared your dinner with us. We ate your fries!”

I am amazed. They serve hundreds of people a day, he hasn’t seen us in eight months and he remembers us. An hour goes by and I ask for the bill and pay it. We have more to see. He comes over with the change and refills our wine glasses on the house. Sure, we can sit a little while longer. For the next two hours we are rooted to our stools because the conversation is varied and exciting but also because Jinn keeps refilling our glasses anytime we take a sip. And he keeps bringing us other tapas to try. All on the house.

The next day Wendy and I took the Ave (high speed train) to Segovia. It was packed for holy week, the streets filled to bursting. We went to our favorite restaurant “Narizota’s” (Big Nose in Spanish) and for some reason, I remember our last trip far better than Wendy. Mostly because it’s in the book that I have been revising and editing for the past year, but I also remember things I didn’t even write about. One of the things I remember is our waiter at Narizotas. No matter how busy it got, he was always attentive, always kind and just kept moving faster and faster to keep up with the people. There was no limit to his speed. We approached the restaurant and as I’m reminding Wendy of this, I see him. “There he is. Awesome, we’ll have good service today.”

We sit down, he looks at Wendy, looks at me and says “I remember you. You were here about 18 months ago, right?”

What the hell? They serve a thousand people a week and he remembers us?

“Yes, we were. And I remember you. Do you know who ‘The Flash’ is?

“Yes, but I am from Marvel so I am Mercury.” (It only occurs to me later that the substance ‘mercury’ is sometimes referred to as ‘Quicksilver’, the most famous Marvel speedster, so either I translated badly or the character’s name in Spanish comic books is Mercury.)

I can’t believe that Jinn and now Jesus remember us. I’m also quite surprised that Jesus knows the difference between Marvel and DC.

He comes back over with our wine and asks us “Now, who is Captain America?” Which he explains means “Who is going to be brave and try the first sip of wine?”

A group of six Canadian male students sit down and they are struggling with the menu. And by struggling I mean they don’t understand a word of it. They ask the woman next to them for help and she is some weird English lady that doesn’t provide any help. Usually I let Wendy handle these things but her back is to them and eventually I think “You know what? I can handle this.”

And I do. I go over and explain 90% of the menu to them, item by item. I should have just skipped to the steak. None of them care about the appetizers, salad, or fish. When I finally get to the meat section of the menu they all perk up. “Steak with fries? Which one was that again?” Then Mercury comes over to take their order and I explain to him how they want things cooked, except for the one guy who wanted his steak “Well done.” I holler over to Wendy “How do you say ‘well done’ in Spanish,” because, well, steak just isn’t usually cooked that way in Spain. We eventually decide on muy hecho. They’re able to point to “Heineken” without my help and despite the fact we’re pretty sure they’re sixteen, get a couple rounds. Drinking age here is eighteen, but hey, being Canadian they’ve probably been drinking for years. (To clarify, I didn’t order this for them, just observed it from our table.)

We take a look inside the cathedral and I am surprised. I thought I was getting jaded but it just must be the cathedrals we’ve been looking at. I am just as awed now as I was the first time I came in. We have arrived on the right day. Inside are all the statues and floats for holy week with dozens of Jesus’ and Marys in different poses and outfits.


It is a beautiful day and processions are going by us in the square so we decide to get a table in the sun and enjoy some people watching. After a few minutes Wendy points excitedly over my shoulder “Mercedes! Right there! Grab her!”


The train station is a good fifteen minutes out of town, and oddly enough, there are no taxis waiting at the taxi stand. There is a tiny woman ahead of us, she gets a cab, we wait ten minutes and another one still doesn’t show up. Behind us is a very nice older couple that we start to chat with. Her name is Mercedes and eventually Wendy calls the cab company to make sure the driver of the last cab actually did radio headquarters to send more cabs. He confirms that one is on the way for a party of Wendy and also one for a party of Mercedes. Despite the fact that we are in front, a cab pulls up and the driver says “Mercedes?”

“You two should take it,” she tells us. “You were here first.”

We protest then eventually decide to just share it and have a nice conversation with them while riding into Segovia proper. We find them really captivating. Our hotel is before theirs and we part company.

“They were lovely.”

“I know, I really liked them. Now why didn’t I give them your card so they could call us when the four of us are back in Madrid?”

“I don’t know. I really feel like we missed out somehow.”

“I feel like we’re supposed to be friends with them.”

“I feel that way too.”

Despite the fact that they are going to a friend’s house for lunch, as the day progresses, I know we will run into them. While Wendy looks for a table in the sun amidst the mass of humanity, I walk around the Plaza Mayor looking for them. No luck. “Don’t worry Wendy, I am certain that we will see them again. I just know it.”


It is five hours later and she and her husband walk behind me.

So I grab her. She has no idea who I am at first but brightens immediately once Wendy stands up. We are introduced to her friend and her acquaintance who speaks flawless English and I give Mercedes Wendy’s card which has our apartment phone number on it.

We have a great weekend but the next day it is raining so we spend most of the day inside. We take the Ave back in the evening. Eric comes over that night to play Carcasonne, watch Glee and gossip. He and Wendy stay up until five a.m. talking. I bailed at three. There’s more to tell but I have to wrap this up.

Link of the day -

This should be required reading for kids who need to learn the alphabet, and also to any comic book fan. Thanks to David Gerlach.

http://www.curiousread.com/2010/03/most-badass-alphabet-ever-pics.html