Tag Archives: Rock Valley

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Dragonfly

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Categories: Poetry, Tags: , , , , , ,

The dragonfly is flitting to and fro! My poem, “Dragonfly,” has now been published in Writer’s News Weekly (first publication), the Fall 2010 edition of Rock Valley College’s Voices art and literature magazine, and at Fictionaut. I’m proud of the little guy!

This is one of my best poems, if I do say so myself. If you have a moment, please give the piece a gander and share your thoughts with me. My fragile artist’s ego could use a boost after the lousy week I’ve had. Thanks in advance.

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New Essay: “For Those About To Roll…”

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Categories: Essays, Gaming, Geek Stuff, RPG, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This essay is an edited version of my first required essay this semester in my Composition 1 class at Rock Valley College. It is the first essay I’m making available online. I hope to add more as coursework and time allows.

Some of my real-world friends may recognize themselves in the essay. Be advised, I’ve fictionalized you where needed. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (or guilty). Enjoy!
 

For Those About To Roll, We Salute You

Eli walked down the stairs into the basement. His hands were full: a case of Coca-Cola in his left hand, a grocery bag full of snacks in his right. On his back, a burgeoning, grey knapsack threatened to burst its seams. As he made his way down the stairs, the small, gold crucifix around his neck bounced out from under his T-shirt. The shirt itself was black, a gaming-inspired riff on a classic rock band design: an isosahedron (the twenty-sided die ubiquitous in fantasy role-playing games) appeared with the phrase “AC/HP” in a heavy-metal font.

Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, Eli set down the soda and tossed the bag of chips on the octagonal, faux-wood table dominating the room. Eli took his seat at the table after unloading his backpack. Though the sack was heavy with books, pencils, and dice, Eli seemed happy to haul it. An easy smile came to his boyish face as he considered his cohorts in turn: Rob, Josh, Jenny, TJ, Carlton, John, and Tom.

Rob leaned back in his chair. His shaved head glistened under the track lighting in the basement. Tan skin belied Rob’s mixed Haitian and Mexican heritage. Rob flipped through some pages in a legal pad, the handwritten notes printed in meticulous, all-capital letters.

Josh was a tall, broad man with a booming laugh. His hands were as large as oven mitts, dwarfing the mechanical pencil he held. On his finger, a size 15 ring emblazoned with a pentacle proclaimed his pagan spirituality. Josh reached over to turn the volume down on his laptop. A Megadeth song had been playing.

Jenny was the picture of soccer-mom suburbia. Her brunette hair hung to her shoulders, and she dressed in casually conservative style with jeans and a sweater. A tasteful diamond ring shimmered on her left hand. Her pale, blue eyes flitted to and fro, following whomever was speaking like a hawk tracking prey in the underbrush.

TJ was pure gothic-punk. Two rings intersected her lip, and countless hoops and studs lined her ears. The lacy, black tank top she wore revealed no fewer than a dozen tattoos decorating her arms and shoulders. A purple, velvet skirt covered TJ’s snow white legs.

Carlton (like Josh) was tall, but his frame was loose and lanky. His ebony skin stretched over ripcord muscles. Unlike his fellow males, Carlton did not wear jeans. Instead, he had on neatly pressed khakis. A proper broadcloth shirt completed his simple – yet classy – ensemble.

John, a slight man of Korean descent, was quiet and unassuming. His soft voice and gentle laugh made his small body seem even smaller. A faint odor patchouli (or something else?) clung closely to John’s skin. The Fu Manchu mustache he kept was, perhaps, the only thing about him designed to draw attention.

Conversely, Tom went out of his way to get attention, at least from the fairer sex. His hands worked the keys on his cell phone as though possessed. When not absorbed in texting, tweeting, and Facebooking, Tom’s gaze bounced between Jenny and TJ (and not exactly their faces, either). He barely acknowledged Eli’s entrance.

After greetings and pleasantries were exchanged; snacks and sodas situated; books and dice readied; Rob brought the game to order: “You find yourselves in a dark and dank dungeon…”

In the 1970s, when the first fantasy role-playing games appeared, gamers were almost without exception white, teenage males. This homogenous group was perceived as isolated, insular, and immature. Poor hygiene and poor social skills went hand-in-hand with those early gamers. As the hobby has grown, however, the base of players has likewise expanded and old trends no longer apply. Just as the games have changed, so too have the players.

Contemporary gamers are a diverse bunch. Blacks and whites, Asians and Hispanics, males and females all engage in the benign escapism that is role-playing. Catholics join forces with pagans in vanquishing dragons. Democrats and Republicans plot together to overthrow the evil sorcerer-king. High school dropouts ponder ancient glyphs with graduate students.

Most gamers now are adults: parents and workers. They have active lives outside of the hubby. They own cars and homes, with the bills that accompany them. They have real-world responsibilities. Gaming provides these adult players with a safe, inexpensive way to escape the stresses of daily life. Many other role-players are young: middle- and high school students. These younger gamers have new ideas to challenge older players. The only factor common to modern gamers is that they are gamers. Shared love of the hobby binds these disparate people into a common clan.

Diversity is crucial to the continued health and vibrancy of the hobby. Without new and flesh perspectives, the stories told in role-playing games will become as stagnant and cloying as the musty basements many gamers still congregate in.

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New Poem: “Genocide City Zone”

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Poetry, Writing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It occurs to me that I’ve not posted a new poem in quite some time. As I’ve started running Google ads to promote my poetry writing, it seems prudent to put some fresh poems online. This post does just that.

This poem, “Genocide City Zone,” was originally published in the Voices literary magazine of Rock Valley College. In fact, it was written specifically for inclusion in that journal. I reprinted “Genocide City Zone” in my chapbook, Angst & Wrath.

The name “Genocide City Zone” was rejected as a level name in one of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games on the Sega Genesis. When I read about the name being cut from the game, it stuck with me. Several months later, this poem was produced. The title and theme is very reminiscent of a Rush song (Red Sector A, anyone?).

So, without further ado, I present you “Genocide City Zone.”
 

Genocide City Zone

Welcome to the genocide city zone

I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay

We’ve been killing folks here

All the live-long day

If you want to join us

You’ll have to pay the price

Your soul’s the cost, so ante up

C’mon and shoot the dice

 
Welcome to the genocide city zone

Everyone’s dying to get in

Ignore your guilty conscience

Though Jesus says it’s sin

If you do not join us

You’ll have to pay the price

Sacrifice your life tonight

To our deadly new device

 
Welcome to the genocide city zone

Check out time is soon

We only stop once a day

To eat our lunch at noon

If you want to join them

We’re happy to grant your request

Just remember this one thing:

We kill ’em with the best