Stone Tears

But as to such this predicament

be mine is a mystery to me

and of import only in mine eye it be.

 

Yet its urgency is real, I cannot peel

the veil from my choice to make.

 

Instead I weep as a stone angel

passing time in my hands

until the moment a weakness

revealed

moves me from my stale sands.

For a friend in need

These poems are for a friend who I really can’t help. I feel horrible for him, and I want to try to do something meaningful for him. These poems are the best I feel I can do right now.

Sam, stay strong.

We lead short lives
Like leaves underneath a foot
Our colour is crushed

Nature is ugly,
And awesome, but perfection
Must have an ending

A perfect life is
A creature; it has a head,
A tail, a body

Our lives are short, though
A life well lived is simply
A beautiful thing.

Take heart, my good friend
You will feel sadness and pain
Which gives way to joy

They lived a great life
Though ended, beautiful in
A love filled ending

Take from this, and know
Of beauty in a complete
Story of a life

Beginning, and then
Body, they loved and were loved
Ending, conclusion

They loved you, and you
Love them still, and that is all
That really matters

The Camel of Comedy

HURR HURR HURR

I once heard Jason Biggs, “Jim” from the American Pie movies, say something to the tune of “If you can’t get embarrassed, then you’re missing out on a lot of funny”. Not an exact quote, but it has kinda stuck with me.

Unfortunately, my little 8 year old self didn’t know or understand this. This is probably fortunate from a parenting standpoint, because this means I didn’t watch American Pie when I was 8. Could you imagine? “MOMMY, WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?!” “That is called fucking a pie, honey.” Yeah, nope.

Sexual scarring possibilities aside, I didn’t see that movie or hear that quote from the extras in time to avoid feeling horrible about the most embarrassing moment of my life. It took place in a grade 1 Christmas play, and I was about 8.

My class was a joint grade 1 and 2 operation. Our poor teacher was the head of this sorry state of affairs, but was adamant that we were going to put on a classroom Christmas play. We were going to go full out, with props, and lights, and the gymnasium stage…

To me, this was my time to shine. I was going to be the best, I was going to stun everyone and show them that yes, I was totally cool. If I could act super well, if I could nail my lines, if I could just be the most awesome person ever, people would be nice to me. This hope stemmed from a healthy amount of bullying and schoolyard douchbaggery directed towards me from an early age; seriously, I thought this school play was going to change everything.

It was going to be this easy.

The Christmas play was about the birth of Christ if I remember correctly. We were to all play the part of animals making our way there, and eventually be super happy about all of this baby stuff. 8 year old me didn’t give a shit, I just wanted to show them bullies who was da man, and who wasn’t. I was totally going to be the man, in case you didn’t know. They totally weren’t. That was just the way I knew it had to be. So I waited for the eventual assignment of roles: who was going to be who.

Someone was given the cat. Another person was a horse. Here I sat, waiting for all these animals passing me by; the frog, the lobster, the dog… none of that mattered. All that mattered was when the teacher called my name.

“Philip Budd?”

I frantically stretched my hand and practically shouted “PRESENT”. Giving me an awkward look, she then assigned me my animal.

“You’re going to be the camel.”

You can be ME.

Oh my fuck yes please. I was going to be the coolest camel on the planet. Dogs? Not a chance. The cat wasn’t even remotely swank compared to me. The bird had to go elsewhere for shiny stuff, ’cause my camel ass was going to blind them. As soon as I got my lines, I started rehearsing and learned my lines in 4 hours.

Seeing as this was two weeks before the play, my parents got very tired of hearing my epic camel soliloquies throughout all of that time. Too bad, I thought, I had to be perfect. Which I totally was going to be. Duh.

My mom worked on my Camel costume personally, tirelessly, and the day before the play it was finished (or she bought it, which is entirely possible). The onesie piece was brown with a beige belly, complete with a tail and a hump on its back. One hump, mind you, which my 8 year old self was keen to notice was actually a dromadaire, but meh, who cared. It was awesome, and I wore it for a couple of hours while practicing my lines yet again. Imagine a big, furry monstrosity with a hump that was perfect for knocking over glasses and chairs like so many pieces of fine china, all while reciting Shakespeare.

To be or not to be, moo.

That was how it was.

The night of the play, I was ready. The lines? perfect. The outfit? Immaculate. The Phil was ready. I wolfed down my dinner, and made a beeline for the costume. I waited for my mom to help me into my outfit, and I felt great… but then the trouble started.

I looked into a mirror. It was then that I realized that Camels are actually really stupid looking. Why did they have a hump? Or a tail? They were weird horses, really, and I was instantly aware of how stupid I looked. How could I look cool as a Camel? HOW? There was no way.

Mom and I made our way to the school, and the prevailing feeling of doom was upon me. I knew my lines, I thought, I’ll be fine; but I was a camel! They’re going to make fun of me for being a camel, no way they weren’t. I was screwed.

I was shuttled into the waiting area backstage with the rest of the animals in their costumes. The dogs? Totally wicked. The cats were cooler than cats. Even the zebra looked great; and here’s this camel. I could practically hear the snickering.

And so, the play starts. A few animals do their thing. I prayed it wouldn’t come to me, that they’d skip the camel part. A few more. The time passed so slowly that I could practically see everything in slow motion. Then a couple more, and finally, it was time. The camel walked out onto the stage.

I walked in from the left side to glaring lights and what looked like a million rows of shadowy people I couldn’t see. The nerves forced my heart so skip a beat; I gulped, I put on my best acting face, and I started my lines.

As an aside, it’s important to note that, when I’m nervous, I have a couple of ticks: biting my nails into oblivion, fiddling non-stop, and sweaty palms.

As I got going through my lines, my nerves got the best of me. I grabbed the first thing I could and started fiddling with it while concentrating really hard on my lines. This was when I started hearing giggles from the crowd.

Laughing? Why? Nothing I said was funny. Everything I had done was oscar worthy, not giggle generating. I wanted to create a stirring solo of solemn sereneness, but instead it was becoming chuckle palooza.

I stopped, and the laughing got worse. Everyone in the room, and I could only think one thing; they were laughing at me, because I was stupid, a camel, and a loser. Even with the best performance anyone had seen since Muppet Treasure Island (8 year old me had a skewed sense of good movies), everyone was laughing at me. I couldn’t take the ridicule.

I crumbled, fell to my knees, and started crying. “WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE???” I wailed, and the audience laughed even harder. I cried, and was dragged off stage. I don’t remember the rest of the night very well, but I’d like to think I went on a grape juice binge while snorting lines of powder sugar to forget the feelings I was feeling.

So the question was, why were they laughing at me? Imagine the following.

A small boy walks onto stage in an adorable camel outfit. He starts adorably reciting his lines, just like he was told. It’s at this point he grabs his tail, pulls it through his legs, and starts waving it around like a hose at a sexy carwash.

Yeap. This. But with a tail. In a children’s play.

That is why I love comedy: because if you can’t laugh at yourself, you slump down on stage and turn into a sopping wet heap.

What about you folks?

Mechanics that Make Games GO

I recently started developing a board game. It is currently still lacking the basic mechanisms needed to even play, but the overall ideas and guidelines for the relationships between my 3 largest mechanics in the game are in place.

Here’s the thing: I actively started work on this side project for about 4-5 days. That’s it, and I’ve gone through not one, not two, but three iterations of the main mechanic E, 2 iterations of mechanic A(t) and birthed a third mechanic (e) to help add depth to the game. Still, it feels… loose.

What I mean here is that the game doesn’t look like it has an engine. It is about prediction and card counting for the most part, coupled with resource management of about 2-3 main resources, and eventually coming out on top by avoiding stronger opponents or overpowering them while augmenting your resources and diminishing theirs in, ideally, an elegant symbiosis of mechanics; but it feels like there’s no drive. There’s no singular thing that the game could not roll without.

One excellent example of a game with an engine mechanic is King of Tokyo. For those who don’t know about this game, I find it’s a lot of fun in big, casual groups. It handles 2-6 players at any given time, and features a really quick and exciting atmosphere. Imagine Yahtzee meets Godzilla, which then makes random lizard babies with King of the Hill. That is how King of Tokyo do.

WHY DO YOU LOOK LIKE CUBES WTF

Integral to the game, to a point where the rest of the game is impossible to play without it, is dice rolling. By rolling the dice, the game comes alive: when the dice stop, the game is dead. It’s that simple, and that uniquely powerful engine is not only easy to understand, but easy to use. Furthermore, it is the driving force behind a money mechanic, health, damage, and points. 4 interesting things with very cool relationships with one another.

Other games lack a central mechanic completely, and still manage this interesting phenomenon. Sentinels of the Multiverse, for instance; despite its huge amount of variety inherent in the many, many, many decks it has, the game has only that: variety. The mechanics of the game are almost non-existant, leaving only one, card management. As a result, interesting relationships emerge only once in a little while from the rules, but the game is still fun to play so long as you make use of the variety and enjoy a fairly simple game which relies on the relationships between the cards in play rather than underlying mechanics at work.

Mechanics? WHAT MECHANICS? HA HA HA!

Even here though, with no underlying, overarching mechanics, the game still has a driving force: the self-played villain and environment decks, which consistently throw problems to solve at the players, which are solved usually by bashing it repeatedly in the face, but the solutions can be a lot more elegant on occasion. This constant barrage of problems to solve moves the game at a reasonable pace, and keeps players playing.

And so I look at my game, and I have to ask myself: what is driving my game? How do I create a relationship between two mechanics that really gets players to WANT to do things in my game? How do I get the person playing my game to really want to go? It’s not an easy answer…

I Clicked Inspiration. All I Got was a Picture

So there’s a button when you’re about to make a post that says “INSPIRE ME!” and I thought to myself, what is this? An inspiration store? Hello! I would like to have 2 inspired thoughts please.

Instead, it gave me this:

A picture is worth 1000 words. This safe has been through a lot. Tell its story. Image credit: “safe” – © 2007 Paul Keller – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

And I thought to myself “Damn, this isn’t at ALL what I asked for. To boot, I’m no Sherlock Holmes: it’s not like I can detail the history of this safe that has very obviously been maltreated for several decades. Actually, I’d bet about 30 years judging by the grime and style of the safe: thin walls, only one lock, obviously meant for a civilian home to keep valuables.

In fact, I’d judge that it would be this very same residential area where said civilian home was: the safe is large and heavy, hard to move. Because it is covered in graffiti, old stickers, paint, and rust encrusted, I would bet that this was abandoned and the valuables retracted long before it was re-opened at the time of this picture. The graffiti and markings on the safe would suggest that the house was the appropriated by local gangs or other streetdwellers, and as they tried to open the empty safe they failed repeatedly for years, though they thought it was full alright. Once the kids got actual tools they busted it open… only to find it empty.

Now here’s the creepy part: why are there scratch marks inside? No, don’t answer that question. The answer is because it became a prison, where the unruly were tossed in to punish them. An iron maiden without teeth, this box stored many victims who eventually tried to scratch their way out. None did, and when it came time to remove the prisoners they were weak and helpless to their abductors.

One day the gangs abandoned the place though: hence the rust on the hinges of the door. When the area was deserted, this safe had no purpose, and sat there until the photographer took this picture and wordpress “inspired” me.

But seriously, that’s it. Nothing I wanted. Oh well.

Well that was a surprise

OHSHIT

I will not lie when I tell you the following:

I had COMPLETELY forgotten two things. First, that this blog pressed to Twitter; second, that this blog subsequently pressed to Facebook and my Tumblr. As a result, I totally typed a post that was about as emo as a sad clown convention and it was posted to the world.

Smooth moves, Ahab.

Initially this discovery was followed by fear. “OH NO MY VIEWERS CAN SEE MY EMO SIDE” I thought. “THEY SEE MY WEAKNESS.” My thought process came to the conclusion that this was about as awful as it could get, and so I tried to delete any and all traces of my emo-tastic shame, the same way that most people try to mop up a murder. Needless to say, it had about the same results, which means to say, none at all save for a lot of guilty looks coming from my general direction.

But hilariously enough, the post got more views than some of my videos. In the space of about 4 minutes. That is both sad and amazing, since I feel I put a lot of effort into entertaining in my videos, and that post was meant to be a whiny bitch, and despite that got more exposure.

I figure I might as well keep writing then, occasionally, whenever I’m feeling offbeat or sad about something in real life. If you haven’t noticed, I’m about as natural in front of a camera as most people are trying to conduct an interview, which means to say that I feel like there is an actual level of perfection that needs to be achieved. When I write, I tend to flow out onto the page, and so a very different image results from it.

If you are curious to see that image, who am I to stop you? SlowWolf? Bah, not enough e-fame to do any ordering around anyway.

Welcome to my personal blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however brief, even it’s less than a second or so. Seriously. It’s okay for you to just… wander away and surf elsewhere. Might I suggest my YouTube channel?

-Phil

A Wandering Wolf

A wolf wanders and
tries to play and fight but he
is lost to a pack

The snow blows around
He points his muzzle higher
The cold has no smell

Ashamed, he howls for
help to find his path again
He senses a friend

Ashamed, he holds on
To another’s tail, leading
to the pack again.

Submission follows
The alpha accepts. Disgust
contorts his features.

Another day passed
A wolf wandered alone. He
Wished the shame away.

——–

I seriously cannot wait until I am fully independent of everyone and everything. I am sick of feeling so helpless. Does anyone else feel this way? The easy answer is yes. I’m not exactly a unique snowflake, this feeling is the burgeoning attempt of my own self trying to break away from depending on people, but this “growing pain” is a horrible, sick sensation. 

This year I have tried my hardest to be independent so that others would have an easier time: parents, friends, etc. Unfortunately, everything backfired horribly, just showing how dependent I am, a vicious backfire leaving me covered in emotional shame the same way that one woman caught a watermelon with her visage. 

So when I get like this, it’s best to write! Recording videos is one thing, but true emotional outpouring and honest engagement and expression with people is something best left to writing, not YouTube.