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Posts from June 2007

Monday, July 2nd, is Rush Day. Let it be known.

posted on 06.29.2007

There is nothing more selfish than to let problems you bring on yourself cause hell for those around you...cause those people who care about you to struggle, stress, and try to compensate for your failings...failings which, again, you brought upon yourself despite everyone's advice and sincere desire to help you...and all of which you could be alleviated if pride weren't your foremost flaw. I've seen it before, and I'm seeing it now with a relative.

Even more infuriating to watch (helpless to prevent it) someone you love spend every waking minute stress about you. You, who don't deserve it. Everyone should get a break...or two, or twenty. But everyone's given you that break time and again for years.

It's a basic concept seriously lacking on this planet: other people. It's so simple. Other people exist. Get used to that fact. Too many people believe existence revolves around them alone. It's like an infection that cannot be diagnosed.

Enough ranting. But, the core of this is pride. And I firmly believe this is the most dangerous personality trait of all. We all have it in varying degrees; no getting around that. But for many it's a defining trait.

From a book:ٰ

"...the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of pride.

"Take it with money. Greed will certainly make a man want money, for the sake of a better house, better holidays, better things to eat and drink. But only up to a point. What is it that makes a man with 40,000 a year anxious to get 80,000 a year? It is not the greed for more pleasure. 80,000 will give all the luxuries that any man can really enjoy. It is pride - the wish to be richer than some other rich man, and (still more) the wish for power. For, of course, power is what pride really enjoys: there is nothing makes a man feel so superior to others as being able to move them about like toy soldiers. What makes a pretty girl spread misery wherever she goes by collecting admirers? Certainly not her sexual instinct: that kind of girl is quite often sexually frigid. It is pride. What is it that makes a political leader or a whole nation go on and on, demanding more and more? Pride again. Pride is competitive by its very nature: that is why it goes on and on. If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy."

posted on 06.26.2007

My days have recently included:

  • Navigating life. Dealing with job-related stress, wondering what else I should be doing in the world, pondering existence. You know, the usual.
  • Biking through the nearby neighborhoods of the Bronx when I get the chance, always searching for that elusive perfect trail.
  • Working on the final chapters of my book. They are absolutely the hardest to write, since they have to provide both excitement, a climax, and tie up all the loose strings. Often books have a rushed ending. I can relate now. It ain't easy.

And in exactly one week I'll be heading down to Jones Beach, Long Island, with my wife and our respective brothers for a day of anticipating the evening's Rush concert.

Speaking of which, I've given their latest album, Snakes & Arrows, quite a number of listenings now. It's grown on me now, which I knew it would, but I had to give it a lot of runs to do so. Even if the album is far from their best, it's still a solid album from a band whose sound I adore. Lyrically, Neil Peart touches on basic subjects of hope and belief.

I am a bit disappointed in the sweeping generalizations he tends to make about religion and faith. From older songs such as "Free Will," "Ghost of a Chance," and "The Weapon," it's always been clear that he's taken a position of belief in nothing but Man's own abilities (the "goodness of humanity"), acknowledging no higher power. And I can respect that, even if I quietly resist that notion. But, he's always been so much more respectful about his belief in nonbelief. Now it just seems...lazy.

Now it's come to this / It's like we're back in the Dark Ages / From the Middle East to the Middle West / It's a world of superstition

Now it's come to this / Wide-eyed armies of the faithful / From the Middle East to the Middle West / Pray, and pass the ammunition

Equating faith and prayer with terrorist acts, or of our own country's aggression overseas in the name of oil or God (take your pick, right?), is just a few steps too far. In my book, anyway. Still, Rush always maintains a positive outlook and that's what I love about them (among other things), and I concur with the chorus of the same song.

We can only grow the way the wind blows / On a bare and weathered shore / We can only bow to the here and now / In our elemental war

posted on 06.25.2007

You know you've found a good book when you find yourself reading it while walking. You know you've really found a really good book when you find an excuse to get up and walk around during the workday just to read it. Such are the Repairman Jack books by F. Paul Wilson.

They're right up my alley: Jack, a modern day vigilante "who dwells in the interstices of modern society" (has no SS number, no credit cards, doesn't exist on paper) and does "fix-it" jobs for people (i.e. seeing justice done when legal channels won't) mostly by referral. He can fight damned good, carries around a very small, easily-concealed gun, and can't tell his dad what he really does for a living (his dad thinks he has some sort of appliance repair job). Best of all, the books take place in and around New York City. Almost every location is a place I've been to. The stories are realistic, but with just enough supernatural elements to please me, who usually sticks to fantasy.

Wilson really knows how to write. It's fast-paced and easy to read, every scene written in the perspective of one person (my favorite point of view; I don't care for third person omniscient) using that person's own language style and colloquialisms. Also, each book is a stand-alone story, but strung together they form a growing threat that Jack has gotten caught up in.

I strongly recommend these books to anyone, starting with the first book, The Tomb. It's definitely best to read them in chronological order, too:

  • The Tomb
  • The Legacy
  • Conspiracies
  • All the Rage
  • Hosts
  • The Haunted Air
  • Gateways
  • Crisscross
  • Infernal
  • Harbingers
posted on 06.20.2007

Itís kind of fun to see something that you worked on a long time ago finally crop up in the public eye. Well, maybe not that long ago.

Two upcoming Goodman Games books coming out:

Palace in the Wastes, last yearís GenCon tournament module. I designed a single, fey-themed room in that law-vs.-chaos-themed adventure. I hope they illustrated the room; that would be cool.

The Adventure Continues, a collection of mid-level adventures of all types. I was particularly pleased with my contributing adventure, a nightmare-laced delve into a quasi-real dream dungeon. Canít wait to see any illustrations for that one.

posted on 06.13.2007

I bought myself a bike recently, after...oh, ten years or more of not owning one. It was seriously about time. And it reminded me: there is nothing more thought-provoking for me than movement of some kind.

I spent a fair amount of time as a kid riding through the neighborhoods of my ever-shifting places of residence. As an Army brat, there was inherently a constant motion to my life.

Now I've lived in New York City for nearly 10 years, the longest time in any one location. Such inertia could lead to stagnancy. So one small step out of it is to move more often. I need the landscape to blur a little bit. I've only got busy streets and urban hoods in my Bronx neighborhood (not the best place for riding) so that means I need to ride farther away to really feel free.

But yes, ambulatory thought is the best kind there is. Looking back, some of my most inspired moments for my writing have come when I'm somewhere between starting point and destination. I've often ridden a train, unable to prevent myself from "writing" in my head, frustrated at my inability to get it down on paper...knowing the moment will be gone when I do reach my destination.

Now, I have taken to carrying a notepad around with me most of the time; I'd venture to say that some of the better moments in my Eberron book will have been written somewhere between Manhattan and the Bronx and were first jotted down in a notebook.

The only thing that beats thought-in-motion: thought-in-motion with music. The iPod will do nicely, though I just have to be careful not to be cranking the music with speeding cars around.

posted on 06.06.2007

So...the third book in the Inquisitives series is Legacy of Wolves, written by the unstoppable Marcy Rockwell, a Arazonian poet/writer and Navy wife (whose husband is currently deployed to Iraq٭) who is also, incidentally, Eberron's first female author.

It's a serial killer murder mystery, set in a kingdom where the Church of the Silver Flame rules, and the monarchy is but a faded figurehead. I had the fortune of reading this book a while back in manuscript form, and it's got a whole slew of engaging elements: unique characters, cool political twists, and a good deal of fur and fangs!

So go get it! It'll be out, like, any day now.

٭ Whatever your opinion about our troops (or troops from other countries who've offered them up) being where they are right now, for the risks they have to take, you have to accept that they deserver our appreciation, our best regards...and possibly our prayers. If you go for that kind of thing. I do.

WotC just put up a cool wallpaper for Legacy of Wolves, too.

posted on 06.01.2007
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