The first 64 novel Empress M is a real book at long last.

You might want to stand back a bit. I need to yell:

The 64 novel is finally published!

The Secret History of Empress M is a kindle book you can buy on Amazon.

Here.

The first portion of the novel can be had for free or nearly free (depending on your relationship with Amazon) here.

You can peek ahead in graphic form where I attempted to make it a web-comic here.

  • I’m not saying the web-comic is dead, but it has been on hiatus long enough that I would not blame you for making that assumption.

Friends, I have been working on this book for 15 years.

I have had a complete and publishable manuscript for it for over eight years.

I had three requests for full manuscripts from agents – none of whom picked up the project. I’ve seen two small publishers evaporate with my book in their hands. I have turned down a couple of really insulting offers from vanity presses.  I have had the publisher of my Jack novels turn it down over language concerns.

At some point, you do the thing (and spend the money) and get it done.

After editing and artwork, this book represents a nearly $4000 bet on myself.

If it pays off, great. There’s more where that came from.

If not – at least I’ll know my own sales numbers in a useful timeframe, something I cannot say for any of my works, fiction or non-fiction, in the hands of other publishers.

Physical copies of the 500+ page trade paperback are still available, but only from my hands. The next step is to monkey with the fonts and spacing, get that number under 500, and get that on Amazon as well.

WORD COUNT:

Last week’s What Have We learned [below] =1000 words.

Go Action Fun Time full Sample Cast Roster on Curious Continuity: = 1000 words.

Converting my Word document of Empress M into a useful Kindle file = 1000 words.

  • Seems like it took a lot longer than that, but there was a learning curve.  Also have it in regular E-pub but haven’t settled on a destination for that.
A scene from the playtest

Writing the GAFT Episode Mighty Murder Mayhem Time = 4000 words (the length of the final document)

Submitting Empress M to Amazon = 500 words.

Writer’s Group = 500 words.

Playtesting Go Action Fun Time at Game-On Expo when no players showed up = 500 words [twice]

Playtesting at Game-On Expo with Players = 1000 words.

That’s 10k in a week.

No wonder the rest of my life is behind.

Whiskey.

Answers to your questions in no particular order

We’ve been busy around here, what with comprehensive life-event changes and all.  I could, I suppose craft some winding narrative that artfully leads us all down the winding road past all these changes and what we have learned from them, or I could just blurt out some answers.

Reflecting upon the remaining To Do list, I chose B.

Here are some answers to questions you asked (at least in my mind):

Married life is treating my very well, so far, thank you.

Yes, there have been some adjustments, but we’ve both been married before, and we have both shared a residence with each other for weeks at a time before, so most of the questions are “Where are we going to put this thing?”

We think we had a hundred people all told in and out of the house during the wedding.  The goal was 60. We provisioned for 80. There were no disasters. Keep flying.

Somewhere in this pile is everything we need.

I was not actually that drunk. I dance that badly sober.

We do not need anything, thank you. We got way more than we asked for at the wedding. Also, we are middle-aged adults who both ended up with most of their respective households following the divorce.

Why yes, I did get copies of The Secret history of Empress Em in time for Westercon.  Mainly because I had them shipped to the hotel in Tonopah. These are technically proof versions – you print one to see how it looks, but I printed ten because vending. I have [goes to count…] five left if you want one.

They might someday be collector items.

The first version is always the best? [Art by Rose Wolf]

Westercon (at least this year) was a social gathering for people to LARP SFF cons as they were 30 years ago, only without near as many people. It’s not feasible to go to Anaheim for this thing in 2023. We have been invited to Salt Lake City in 2024, where the organizers assure us it will not be this dull small.

Bongo soaking up the excitement of Westercon 74 in the Tonopah Convention Center.

Cheryl and I took a class in regency dancing, which was not the disaster you might have  predicted watching me dance at my wedding.

If you don’t count the hotel cost, the limited version of the UnObtanium Bazaar made money – but mostly because of one customer. (I was supposed to have paid for this with points, but the credit card I used to reserve the room expired before we got there, and in transferring, we magically lost the points. Thanks for nothing, Best Western.

Gracie Shotz making the money.

The best bar in Tonopah stocks 100 different kinds of whiskey. I don’t remember the name, but they are the only bar open after 9pm.

Bongo at La Posada

The Las Posada Hotel is the best part of Winslow AZ, full stop. It was also the Actual Honeymoon portion of our journey, so Full Stop there, as well. If you are curious, La Posada will tell you all about itself.

We did not take a picture standing on the corner. Didn’t get to it. Oh darn.

UnObtanium at Medieval Mayhem in Show Low AZ

Medieval Mayhem in Show Low is a fun little ren faire, and we will be going back. Learned some hard lessons about the bell tent vs rain, but this was nuisance, not crisis. For a fair that drew maybe a thousand people counting all the staff, we did pretty well.

And there are worse ways to spend a July Saturday if you live in Phoenix – just saying.

The Dodge Journey is less like a long SUV and more like a short mini-van. And the touch screen interface is way more complicated than it needs to be. But it holds a lot of stuff, and gave us no problems until it was time to tow the trailer.

The Journey on the journey.

The Dodge Journey will not recognize that is has a towing harness unless you get the dealership to flash the computer. This cannot be accomplished in either Show Low or Payson on a Monday morning. Happily, I have long experience with derelict vehicles and know how to mitigate/hide the fact that I had no effective brake lights – all the way down the mountain.

Now that the trailer we borrowed (Thanks James!) is returned, getting this done is a low priority, but I have a bad feeling that when it happens, there will be a story.

I have hiked exactly twice in South Mountain Park since I moved here. There has been a basically continuous excessive heat advisory for most of that span.

WORD COUNT:

I write virtually nothing in the two weeks of wedding/vending/honeymoon/vending. The week after was spent sorting boxes so we could get the boxes we had to sort so we could unload the show and sort that. That madness goes on (for months, perhaps), but I was able to get some words down since last Tuesday:

Editing a section of Events on Loki = 500 words

It was actually close to 2000 total words, but editing is not writing.

Events on Loki is the novella-length prequel to Empress M and other works in that universe.

Writer’s Group = 500 words

Adapting Tom Swift (Sr) into a sample cast member of Go Action Fun Time: 1000 words.

The senior Tom Swift, who premiered in 1910, is largely public domain.  I didn’t create any original art for him, but I can’t cite the images I’m stealing appropriating with any confidence. So, these are place-holders.

Ember – the last of the Aziza.

Creating Ember, the last Aziza, a cast member for Go Action Fun Time: 1000 words.

Image for Ember = 2000

Full color adds a thousand words. Reminder to myself to cancel my free trial of Adobe stock images (the background source.

Ember is #36. I now have my full Sample Cast for Go Action Fun Time. Huzzah!

You can read more about this at Curious Continuity!

I’m at 5000 without including the internal GAFT playtesting I did Sunday, or this blog.

Guess I’m starting to settle in.

Now we know.

Loading in the New Life (one box at a time)

A big arena show could have 18 semi-trailers full of gear, two dozen roadies and more than a hundred local stagehands to set it all up – usually in one day. For most of my working life, I have done 30 or more of these every year in some capacity. Every once in a while, even a grizzled veteran like me is taken aback by the scale of the thing, and that panicky voice in the back of my mind wonders “How are we gonna ever get this all done?”

The answer is always the same. One box at a time. Worry about the gear in your hands. Then worry about the next little thing. As long as you keep doing that, the rest will all happen. Somehow.

It always does.

The old truck hitched to the old trailer by the old house.

My life is changing, mostly for the better, definitely for the weirder and these changes are coming about right on top of each other – like a big arena load-in.

  • Cheryl (my fiancé – for those just joining us) sold her house in Las Vegas, bought a house in Phoenix, and we have moved her in.
    • This took 3 trucks, 4 portable storage pods and 5 separate trips to and from Las Vegas.
  • I have (mostly) moved out of the house I have been squatting in to move in with her.
  • We are getting married on June 28th.
  • At this new house.
    • Where most of our stuff is still in boxes.
    • And Cheryl is out to sea.
  • Our honeymoon includes vending at Westercon and then a ren faire.
  • I am trying to release a book at Westercon.

Casa Blanca

The new digs

The price of real-estate in Phoenix has shot up dramatically, but only from where it used to be – which was discount rates compared to any other city of comparable size.

Before Cheryl settled on Phoenix, she poked around. Phoenix is still cheaper than most of California, or coastal Florida. Coos Bay Oregon is more expensive per square foot than Phoenix.

Las Vegas, however, is within 5% of Phoenix, so this was a lateral move in real-estate terms.

When I started house hunting here (I was basically their scout), I was bombarded with horror stories of couples losing bid after bid, offering way above asking and still not getting the house. I soon put together that what most of these stories had in common was financing and either the east Valley or Scottsdale.

When you have cash, and you are not compelled to surround yourself with your own kind, the valley opens up for you.

The house we bought, at the base of South Mountain, in Thunderbird Estates, a former golf-course community. The golf course is twenty years gone, but the 1960’s house, and their big lots, remain. We live in one of them.

How do you afford a 3800’ former golf estate at the foot of the mountain? You sell a 4500’ 6 bedroom house with a detached casita, in a gated community, in the Centennial Hills district of Las Vegas – basically, Sin City’s analogue of Scottsdale.

That house sold in four days.

Truth be told, we bought this new house 48 hours after first stepping foot in the place, mostly because there was another bid. That bid was below asking – a speculator fishing. We bid asking, and got it.

It has white walls and a white foam roof, and we call the place Casa Blanca.  The interior is an open expanse of white tile lit by numerous ceiling cans. Void of furniture it looked like a Pontiac dealership.

The ballroom – just add Pontiacs…

There is plenty of furniture now. I will spare you more current pictures as theplace still looks like Warehouse 13 after an earthquake.

Both Cheryl and I inherited the household inventory following our respective divorces. Despite our best efforts at purging, much of that is also at the house. It is faster to just pack rather than sort and pack, and our time became contracted. Plus the UnObtanium inventory, which, besides the show inventory includes enough random antiques to stock a small retail outlet.

An outlet for the antiques is a future us problem. Right now, we just need to find a place to put it all.

One box at a time.

The Wedding

While the marriage was my idea (I proposed to her) the wedding is all her. I’d be happy with an appointment with the JOP, but Cheryl wants a ceremony. As in she had ideas about this the day after I asked her (likely well before that). The way she lights up when she talks about it meant I had to help make it happen.  We’re both event professionals – so here we go.

June 28th is a Tuesday, but that means tacos. Which we will have catered. We hope (that deal is not finalized.).  It is also Tau Day [6.28], which is π x 2. We thought about getting married on actual π Day, which is March 14th. [3.14] but that was just not possible for a long list of reasons.

We will not have a wedding cake. We will have pies.

We have planned it as a big dinner party interrupted by a ceremony, followed by pie.

This one is fixed…

Ever mail out 40 invitations and then realize you forgot to put the event date on them? We have.

The invite list was slapped together in some haste. If you did not get an invitation, and feel you should have, contact us.

That said, it’s still just a house. We can only accommodate so many.

Tomorrow, guys are coming to fix one of Casa-Blanca’s two ancient AC units, at some expense. So we will not have a (paid) DJ or bartender. But we will have air-conditioning in the ballroom. I am at peace with that.

The Adventure Tour

We get married on Tuesday the 28th. We clean up and settle-up on the 29th. Thursday is a travel day, for we end the day in Tonopah Nevada for Westercon 74.

Yes. One of the largest straight SF-F conventions of the year will be held in Tonopah Nevada. Tonopah has a mining museum, and a small convention center, but is mostly known for the Clown Motel.

We are staying at the Best Western.

We are vending books, costumes and curiosities. I will have both Jack books of course, Go Action Fun Time, and with any fortune, physical copies of the first 64 universe book, the Secret History of Empress M. About damn time.

Westercon runs through July 4. On  July 5th we travel to Winslow, where we have reservations at the La Posada hotel one of my happy discoveries on my Dilkon adventures (last post).

We thought about a cabin, but we don’t want to cook.

Good, clean mayhem.

On Thursday, we drive to Overgaard, where I will have stashed the trailer, and tow it to nearby Show Low for the Medieval Mayhem Renaissance Fair, where we set up the whole Unobtanium experience.

We return to Phoenix Monday July 11. July 12, I go back to work, and keep doing so until the end of the year, for I will have exhausted all my time off.

There are a lot of boxes between here and there. But I can’t let myself worry about how many.

One box at a time.

WORD COUNT:

Yes – this last week I got some words in:

Shamus McGuffin – Magic Hobo
Cam Cruz – designated driver

Writer’s Group: 500

Revising a section of Events on Loki – a prequel of sorts to the 64 – : 500 words (revisions count as half).

GAFT Sample cast treatment for Cam Cruz: 1000 (the art was already done)

GAFT Sample cast treatment for Shamus McGuffin (magic hobo): 1000 words

                Illustration for same: 1000 word equiv.

                Coloring that artwork: 1000 words equiv.

This blog: 1500.

TOTAL: 6500.

Whiskey.

Now we know.

What was lost in Dilkon

Ruby, with dead battery, is somewhere under that shade…

Over the past few months, I was sent to program lighting at the Dilkon Regional Medical Center in Dilkon, AZ, within the Navajo reservation.  I do not have many day-job adventures that are both interesting, and in-bounds for open disclosure.

Through a combination of poor fortune and self-created folly, Dilkon proved to be expensive, with each of the expeditions being more expensive than the last.

Let’s pause here to clarify: I do not mean travel expenses. My company picks that up. And while the work was more troublesome than it needed to be, that was a product of the locale and personnel involved, and not generally instructive. Also, there were more than the three trips I am about to describe, but these were the major expeditions.

We have already described one adventure related to this job. This would turn out to be foreshadowing.

1st Visit- January 2022

Navajo burger

There are two places I found to eat lunch in Dilkon, and by that I mean pick up the food and eat it in your car. The Navajo Nation was (and still is at this writing) 100% masks indoors, and indoor dining is out-of-the-question.  There is a food stand in a dirt lot that will sell you a Navajo burger, a double green-chile burger in a pita of some sort. Or you could go to the pizza place, and get a slice or pie of arguably the best pizza for 50 miles in any direction. (It is honestly decent if not outstanding pizza.

Having learned the day before that a Navajo burger will sit in my stomach like a boulder for three hours, I had gotten some pizza, driven back to the jobsite and ate my slices while listening the NPR station I could kinda-get out there on the car radio. When I finished, I tossed my crusts to the stray, or at least unleashed dogs waiting for that, and went back in to work.

I came back out at the end of the day to discover my battery dead. I then discovered that I had not gotten back (or replaced) the jumper cables I had loaned to my child.

Happily, one of the electricians hadn’t left yet. After failing to jump the car with his cables, we ruled the battery dead. Dilkon has a grocery store, and two convenience stores, none of which carry jumper cables, much less car batteries.

Good fortune balanced poor fortune when it turned out the electrician passed through Winslow, where my hotel was, on his way back to north of Flagstaff somewhere.

His daily commute was close to 90 minutes. I added twenty more at the auto parts store (just down the road from my hotel) where I purchased the second most expensive battery on the shelf (cheap parts die with simple radio play in deeply rural parking lots) and a set of jumper cables.

He added five more minutes picking me up in the pre-dawn gloom the next morning.

It’s forty minutes from Winslow to Dilkon, during which I learned a a lot about this man’s family problems and his relationship to Jesus, none of which is fodder for this space. I also learned that people in and around Dilkon have been driving as far New Mexico for simple medical services.

So, it’s nice to be part of a project that is clearly necessary. We have surprisingly few of those.

 2nd Visit – Late February – early March 2022

On my way back from Two Rivers (next to last post – I’ve been busy) the power steering died in the truck.

Verity – new to me.

While I bought Verity as a back-up vehicle, Oliver, my child, has been using it as a primary vehicle to and forth from Phoenix College and related young adult adventures. Oliver lacks the size and skill to manage a pick-up truck without power steering.

Warned that it could be a while before I had the time or money to fixt the truck, Oliver convinced one of their young adult friends to fix it – at my expense, but not at a lot of expense.

The repair happened while I was in Dilkon.

Then as Oliver drove the newly nimble Verity about the oil light came on. Knowing the oil had been recently changed, Oliver chose to ignore it and keep driving – until Verity threw a rod.

Throwing a rod is generally fatal to twenty-year-old pick-ups.

Verity + Rattletrap

Yet times are strange. I bought that thing for about $5k – pre-pandemic. The replacement cost for a similar vehicle now would be something like $7-8k as I understand the market now. The part-time mechanic (who likely destroyed the thing in the first place) has offered to replace the engine at cost. He thinks that could be below $3k. I am not so certain. I have tasked Oliver with that research, and that is ongoing.

Bongo at Homolovi

Meanwhile , Lyft charges appear randomly on one of my credit cards.

There was a mid-February visit during which I visited the Homolovi State Park.

It went without further disaster.

3rd Visit 23-24 March 2022

UnObtanium at Pirate Fest

This visit took place two days before Unobtanium was to appear at the Las Vegas Pirate Fest. My tow vehicle is dead in my backyard, and while Ruby has a towing hitch (that I had installed) the Subaru Forester is not a good towing vehicle. Las Vegas is 350 miles and four good climbs from Phoenix.

My first thought was to rent a van. Inventory inside the van, tent and gear in Rattle-trap. But no one, I mean no one, rents a van with a tow hitch.

U-Haul, however, will rent a pick-up with a tow hitch – even for an out-of-state run. So I thought I had done that.

I burn back home from Dilkon, slide into U-Haul minutes before closing, and discover they have not the pick-up I had confirmed and paid for.

I towed Rattletrap to Las Vegas in a 12’ box truck, which had plenty of capacity but over-all cost me $800 I’ll never get back. Impoverished and emboldened by that experience I then towed that same rig with Ruby, my Subaru Forester, on the shorter and flatter run to Lake Havasu City for the London Bridge Ren Faire.

Ruby+Rattletrap at LBRF

The listed towing capacity of a 2015 Subaru Forester is 1500#. I don’t know how much Rattletrap plus the Unobtanium tent and inventory actually weigh, but Ruby can tow it as long as we stay under 75 mph.

Traversing I-10 westbound at or near the posted limit does not improve the scenic value of the journey.

FTR – London Bridge RF actually takes place on the shadeless, packed dirt expanse of the county rodeo grounds.

The big bell tent held up just fine.

UnObtanium at London Bridge RF complete with tent.

When the smoke cleared:

  • The Dilkon Medical Center is still not open (medical facilities dawdle forever before opening) by my lighting is complete.
  • Ruby survived her Reservation country and towing adventures.
  • If you don’t count the U-Haul fee, UnObtanium made money at both events.
    • We plan to return to both next year.
  • And Verity still sits in my backyard, with her new roof rack still in place. If you want or need a 2001 Dodge Dakota with a blown engine, make me an offer.

Now we know.

Careful What You Wish For

I have been spending two-three hours a day just prepping and packing for what should be considered a minor faire in Yuma. (Las post. We’ll wait). But my usual partner in prep is busy readying a house to sell, and all her resources are either in storage or at my place, so it has fallen on me.

It’s OK. I have found the time. But the cost is any original copy for this post other than basic news above and wordcount at the end. In between, is a poem I wrote at a Faire (LV Medieval? They are already running together.) in November of 2020.

Careful What You Wish For

This is how is starts

Just a spark

An idea

Where the metal of a thought strikes the stone,

Falls into the dry, gentle tinder of the possible

And with careful breath

Expands into flame.

Careful what you wish for

Good, brave pilgrim

Lest your dreams set your life on fire.

This is how it goes

The fire finding fuel

Turning hope and passion into work

Takes the air from all things unrelated

Fills all the empty rooms with smoke.

Careful what you wish for

Good, brave pilgrim

Lest your dreams set your life on fire.

Tis a riddle that confounds us

Since stories have been told

Turning passion into artwork

Then artwork into gold.

For the joy of the discovery

Cannot be bought or sold

And so the poets starve to death.

This is how it ends

With yourself behind

Your table full of dreams

And strangers walking by without a glance.

And you die, bit by bit,

Until one good soul turns around

Lays down a coin

And gives your dream a chance.

And this is how it goes

Bit by bit

Coin by coin

As the hours turn to days turn to years.

And you pause

When you are asked about your job.

You don’t have a job anymore.

Abd you smile

As you think

“Well maybe if I …

No.

But if I … maybe…”

That is how it starts.

Careful what you wish for.

WORD COUNT:

I finished the half chapter of Two of 64 – 1300 words.

In time for writer’s group = 500 words.

I took a hike and took notes. = 500 words.

You can read about that at Are We Lost Yet = 1000 words.

That’s 4300. Short again.

Not those two rivers…

But I am close to ready for Two Rivers.

You were warned.

Update at 55

I’ve survived 55 rotations around the sun on this planet, and not much has changed from the last anniversary of this rotation. But things have been set up and are in motion. A year from now the only thing about my life likely to be the same will be my job. I like my job. I’ve had nearly 40 different jobs – I know what to look for now.

On or around my birthday I share my wisdom, and perhaps we’ll talk about jobs. But first we have news.

UnObtanium Bazaar will appear at the Two Rivers Renaissance Faire in Yuma, February 4-6.

It will be our fist full set-up since Pirate Fest last April. We are kinda curious what we have in store ourselves.

Yes - I will have both books, and a discount if you buy them together.

It will also be my first chance to put the new book on the shelf since its release last November. You can be one of the first to buy a signed copy.

“Life is too short to do a job you hate.”

This was my grandfather’s advice, and I have tried to follow it. Happily, I genuinely enjoy working, so there are few of my 35+ jobs I have actually hated, and I did not stay in them very long.

My current employer, R C Lurie, is employee-owned with profit sharing and an ESOPEmployee Stock Option Plan – in addition to treating me well. It was, when I started, a lateral move financially from Rhino Staging, but that has since improved.

It still feels weird getting a raise without having to threaten to quit.

Most of this is, in truth profit sharing. Because the inmates run the asylum we are employee owned, raises and bonuses tend to reflect how the company is doing as a whole, and have very little to do with individual merit.

I get paid to climb around in other people’s buildings, help them solve problems and write reports about it. These are all things I enjoy, or at least do not mind.

It is my goal to make this the last job I hold. Never say never, but my plan is to keep this until my side hustles (see above) become too lucrative to keep on the side any longer.

Anyway, that’s partly why Cheryl is looking for houses in Phoenix and I am not passing around resumes in Las Vegas.

WORD COUNT:

I try to do 5000 words (or that equivalent) every seven days.

So from last Tuesday:

A half chapter of the sequel to Empress Em (One of 64). = 1500 words

Writer’s Group = 500 word equivalent

[Meeting and interviews count as 500 words].

Revision of Felicity Moore, teenage witch for the sample cast of Go Action Fun Time. = 1000 words.

Felicity Moore – still in progress.

Line-art for same= 500 word equivalent.

Coloring for same = 1000 word equivalent. (Colors take a lot longer than line-art, even inked.)

4500 words.

So close. I took the weekend off to celebrate my birthday.

And help Cheryl pack.

Now we know.

SOURCES

https://www.esopinfo.org/how-esops-work/

https://www.nceo.org/articles/esop-employee-stock-ownership-plan

The long dry version

https://esopassociation.org/what-is-an-esop

Vague cheerleading from an advocacy group

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/esop.asp#:~:text=An%20employee%20stock%20ownership%20plan%20(ESOP)%20is%20an%20employee%20benefit,benefits%2C%20making%20them%20qualified%20plans.

Clear article – long link

If anything is possible then nothing is certain.

Somewhere in my strange and voluminous files, I have a folder with notes for a science fantasy setting, a post-apocalyptic Earth where magic now worked because reasons, and that was the tag-line. I think I called it Warp World, but that name has long been trademarked by others.

As early as 1991 there was a published game of that name with a similar premise. So it goes.

But I want to move on to real life. Much like my divorce, I am projecting that the only thing that will remain the same about the basic facts of my life in the near to mid-term is my day job.

In short, Cheryl is moving to Phoenix, and I am moving in with her. To be clear: she is buying the house with proceeds from selling her house in Las Vegas, which has a comparably hot real-estate market. So financially, it will be a lateral move for her. Her mother, who co-owns that house, is also part of that financing. I am not. I will just reside there. The legalities of this are both private and, trust me, boring.

I burned some vacation over the holidays, and we spent a lot of it packing and storing the accumulated crap possessions that have gathered over the past decade plus in her 3000’ + residence. Some of that is UnObtanium inventory, which will finally be unified with my portion of that inventory on the same property somewhere close and sometime soon.

Verity (the truck), Rattletrap (the trailer) waiting in front of Cheryl’s soon to be former residence for me to get my shit together.

There were some practical lessons learned:

  • A hand-truck totally pays for itself when you are moving big piles of boxes from point A to point B. Yes, $120 or so at the hardware store for the good one. Worth It.
  • You can buy a roof rack at Harbor Freight ($320) that will sort-of clamp on to any pick-up truck, and therefore sort-of clamped onto mine.
  • Installing a roof-rack that sort-of fits your truck is where you realize how real the disparity is between Cheryl’s collection of household tools and my bags and boxes of accumulated rigging tools. But we now own a set of large size metric sockets, which I am not certain I had anyway. (US theatrical rigging is almost all SAE).
  • I do not miss beating the crap out of my hands on a daily basis.

I used the roof rack to transport the UnObtanium tent, thereby keeping it out of Rattletrap, because I otherwise filled that trailer with UB inventory.

The bell tent turns out to be 6 meters, not 5, so the pole I had imported from China is too small. That’s a $260 mistake that will require a $320 fix, because…

This is not the way…

We also spent about $200 on garment bags which should both protect the clothes and speed up install and strike.

Having all the inventory at the same address will mean not only can we load and unload easier for shows, but we realistically sell things on-line as well. Between us, Cheryl and I have enough antiques to stock a small shop – at least for a few months.

So we might have a consignment booth as well. But that, like many of our life’s details, depends upon where we end up.

If anything is possible, then nothing is certain.

Our Halloween weekend hustle

Cheryl is in town for the first time since we announced our engagement (and the only time until near Christmas). Because we play hard, we have a schedule too busy for a simple Facebook post. So here’s what we’re doing:

First – a bit of business:

Well – it does.

You can pre-order a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Taliesins-Last-Apprentice-Tony-Padegimas/

Or you can wait until I have copies, and get one from me – signed. More on that when I have copies in hand.

Meanwhile, this weekend.

Tonight I am having dinner with Cheryl’s family. Tomorrow (Friday) we are having dinner with my family.

Saturday, Unobtanium Bazaar will appear at the Epic Toy Con

May be a cartoon of text that says 'POLAR BEARS PB PRESENTS POp UATURE POPECIATURESNOP SHOP EPTC SHOW ΤΟΥ Halloween Bash Saturday October 30th, 2021 Regular 10am 4pm EL ZARIBAH SHRINE AUDITORIUM 552 40th ST: PHOENIX, AZ 85008 FIRST'

We will havse stuff like this:

and

And other strange toys from the past and future. Like we do.

Saturday afternoon we have dinner plans (I think) with friends.

Saturday evening we will be at Alwun House for this:

It starts at 7 pm.

If we have gas afterwards, we might go to the Dark Ones Party, but we make no guarantees.

Sunday is full of either family events, or things I can’t announce on the internet.

Cheryl flies home Monday.

Now we know.

Not quite our mid-season flashback blog post

Some of you may be old enough to remember flashback episodes, where a TV sitcom would take a week off, and just have maybe ten minutes of the cast recalling anecdotes that led to flashback scenes from previous episodes. They used to mark the half-way point through a season, back when seasons had duration and structural norms.

This is not one of those[1]. I actually have new material. But if you like that sort of episode, this entry refers back to previous entries a lot.

And Pipa is free of her cone.

Oliver has let the cats out of the box. Specifically, the two cats they have been cat-sitting indefinitely have finally been spade, and have been released from the bedroom, where they have been held captive for the better part of three months. They now roam the house yowling and hissing.

Oliver –  to whom these cats now effectively belong – has gone off to class.

My cats are not pleased.

Before you jump on your neighbor for their perceived selfishness, reflect that no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Thus far, it has not come to blows. We have been worse. Recall Fireball[2], or even more tragic, Vet Bill[3].

The wheel rim for a 2001 Dodge Dakota has six bolt holes, specifically 6x114mm, which makes it a magic, special unicorn of a rim. Happily, Phoenix Junkyards have an app for this. I am not joking. I found one on my second try and got it for $45.

What should have been a two-hour chore, revising one of the Sample Cast for Go Action Fun Time for the final rules and an “improved” format, turned into a three evening ordeal.

The elf who ate my weekend

Greycloak is an elf. And because we are now writing a published product instead of a out-of-hand hobby,  I realized I had to set some canon for GAFT Elves.

I posted a draft of that work on Fantastical History.

Greycloak , aside from being an old D&D character of mine, also appears in a variant form in the new Jack Book Taliesin’s Last Apprentice. It comes out in November. Thanks for asking.

On that subject:  An excellent if dry resource of fairy lore: https://ericwedwards.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/the-origin-and-lore-of-fairies-and-fairy-land/

Then I wondered how much my notion of making You Tube videos about creating the Sample Cast would entail. Just drafting a script, and talking screenshots as I went, easily tripled the time.

Friends, I think I spent 18 hours on this project.

I have a character sheet. And a blog post. And a draft script. At least another evening or two to actually shoot the video. But we must move on.

What have we done?
Oh no…

We are making a Barbie centaur. Because we can. This will eventually be on sale at UnObtanium Bazaar. It might be ready by the Toy Fair on October 30th that we will be at.

Because you were about to ask about our next event.

There are tutorials on this. I know for a fact they spent a lot of time on them. Here’s one we started with:

Over the last few months, Cheryl and I got our drink on, in tiny doses, at three different distilleries. You can read about that at Are We Lost Yet?

WORD COUNT:

Are We Lost Yet -1000 words.

GAFT Fae Primer – 2000 words

Greycloak Character sheet – 1000 words

Greycloak Video script – 3500 words

Fantastical History – 1000 words.

Blog posts and GAFT character treatments have 1k word minimums because of the requirement to produce related content (that means pictures in the case of blog posts, and actual math with the GAFT sheets.)

Next week I need to produce another chapter of the 64 sequel, and maybe update Curious Continuity. Plus this blog will count.


[1] It turns out these guys stole my lawnmower.

[2] Fireball was adopted by one of Oliver’s friends.

[3] Vet Bill was struck by a car. We found him dead on my curb.

Varied uses of vinegar and other news

I’ve been going through the vinegar lately, courtesy of several circumstances whose only common thread in the involvement of vinegar and myself. I could blather, in good blog style, another two paragraphs before getting to actual content. The research on vinegar is right there on the other screen. But let us assume you have a useful familiarity with the common household acid and get right to the things.

Vinegar deters ants. I have a small invasion going on in my kitchen, and the front-line treatment is vinegar. It’s not pesticide, but that’s ok. I don’t desire to exterminate the ants. I just want them to stay out of the kitchen.

Vinegar will kill the buggers on contact. The true value is that it will wipe away the chemical trail they follow across my countertop. This works until they blaze another trail. So, this insurgency may persist until I find whatever hole they are getting in through. Then I can solve the problem for good – not with vinegar, but with grout.

Vinegar relieves ear-itches.

Or so we all hope.

The rest can be explained better by photo:

Still not actually my dog.

Vinegar kills mold. Unobtanium (specifically Cheryl) has acquired several Easy-up shades and a 5 meter bell tent. The bell tent did not come with poles, which is a $60 proposition, but that still saves us like $700, if we can mitigate the mold inside the tent and one of the Easy-ups.

A generous treatment of vinegar and the bright Vegas sunshine seems to have mitigated at least the mold smell off the Easy-up.

When the poles get here, we’ll set up the big tent and empty a gallon of vinegar via spray bottle underneath the relentless Vegas sun.

Tangential to Unobtanium becoming more of a lifestyle than a hobby, I have asked Cheryl to marry me, and she said yes.

Kinda buried the lead there, didn’t I?

The plan is to merge our lives in Arizona, due to the fact that I have a good day job, and she is basically a pirate seamstress who just needs to get to an airport.

So I fear we are 6-9 months from blogging about real-state in this space.

Meanwhile, she is in Vegas digging out from spending all summer at sea. She has been out with Royal Caribbean Cruises, for those not in on the joke. What should have been 5 weeks of costume alteration and repair turned into 3 full months due to the various quarantines.

I went to Vegas, picked her up at the airport, like a good boyfriend, and then the next morning asked her to marry me over breakfast. This approximates our third anniversary as a couple, thought that is, I swear, coincidental.  So, we are no longer boyfriend/girlfriend. It is worse than that now.

No longer my girlfriend…

I do not expect her in Phoenix until the end of October for Goth Christmas Halloween.

Meanwhile, she has outfits to sew, and I have lies to fabricate.

If you want to go down the hole with vinegar versatility, the links below will start you on that journey.

https://www.almanac.com/many-household-uses-vinegar

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/white-vinegar#bottom-line

Now we know.