gaming madness

>Crazy tax madness! To which I have sought sanity by obsessively leveling up my undead shadow priest, Beris, in WoW. I’m having a lovely time, made even better by all of John’s friends that play with us, too. Beris is level 72, and even though John keeps telling me to take my time and enjoy the process, I’m anxious to get to 85 so I can raid with them, and also so I can create a death knight, which will be my reward.

But my current obsession lies with a recent discovery of the cookbook Appetite for Reduction, thanks to my friend Molly. She’s been commenting on FB as she works her way through the cookbook, and while I’ve thought wow, that sounds amazing, I hadn’t been too sold on the idea of vegan eating. It seems so extreme, not to mention how much I adore cheese (although lately, I’ve been uncomfortable with where my cheese and milk comes from….I just don’t trust the way products are sold to us, now with what I’m learning). But we went to Borders the other night, and I picked up a copy and immediately fell in love as we waited in line. I adore the way Moskowitz writes the recipes like she’s talking out loud to you, (and you are, of course, her good friend), and it certainly wins big points with me that she has both PCOS and hypothyroidism, too, just like me. And, the recipes aren’t jammed full of gluten – also helpful, since I have approximately zero ability to say no thank you to it.

The taste is what ultimately rules. Last night I made the chickpea piccata sans capers, as I had none, although I can imagine they’d add SO much. The piccata is supposed to be served on a bed of arugula, but since I didn’t feel like going to the store, we had it on an herbed lettuce mix, although I’m sure arugula would have held up better under the heat. I also added a lot of flax seeds for fun.

And then the polenta stuffing, which was like crack, even without thyme (I keep forgetting I’m out of it.) I just added more sage and cracked pepper.

It was unreal – I want to write that I had no idea food could taste this amazing, but that just sounds silly. Yet…still. No butter, no cheese, no dairy at all, and so unreal. Best of all, very affordable, easy ingredients, thirty minutes or so to cook, at most. And unbelievably healthy (she also includes the nutritional stats, although I don’t usually pay attention to that…although I probably should…)

And then banana chocolate chip bread (not from that book, of course…) for dessert – 1.5 cups flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 mushed super ripe bananas, lots of chocolate chips, and 1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup splenda, I know, I know, and lots of agave nectar – no idea on measurements). Bake 60 minutes at 350, and that was that.

Tonight we’re going to try 2 more things from Appetite for Reduction: the gingered sweet potato/apple hash, and the hottie black-eyed greens. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to make a meal. Well, except for last night.

And then the rest of the night, we drank wine and played WoW and watched Deadwood. What an amazing show – I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. I’m so unbelievably fascinated by the stories introduced, the characters, especially Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (which we proceeded to look up and educate ourselves about, since I’ve forgotten everything I may have learned in grade school about them). And the other characters! Some of the best writing I’ve ever seen/heard (?), and far better than Battlestar Galactica – I feel like a traitor for saying that, but it’s true. And of course being set in the Black Hills just makes my heart sing. Also tacky-sounding, but I miss home. SD will always be home, until…it’s not anymore, I guess.

Anyway, I probably drove John a bit crazy because I sat there and informed him of every single geographical spot they mentioned and where it factored in with Rapid City and South Dakota as a whole. Yes, I did. And we’ve only seen 2.5 episodes (yes, we stopped in the middle, but that’s WoW’s fault…) So more of that tonight, which I’m VERY excited for.

Lots of taxes today, and I’m thinking about a short I started awhile back, one of those that stalled out, and wondering if there needs to be serious alien contact/interference/drama in it – maybe that would bring the story back up to the front burner.


>1300 words on the new short this morning. I’d like to write more, but something in it is making me restless, and I wonder if I should switch to some reading/critting. I worked most of the story out in my head earlier at the gym, listening to the same music that begat “Parasite” and “Lisse,” although this story is as different as those are from each other, and spawned from a brief round of quests in some WoW village that I can’t even remember, where this screenshot was taken.

How can one not write a story about that? But this story isn’t quite turning out the way I’d hoped – I’m not sure if that’ s good or bad. Either way, it’s nice to have something new after the recent string of rejections. As far as those, I’ve made some revisions, sent most of them out again, and am still mulling over possible “Harvester” edits, and am hitting a dead end. Hopefully something will reveal itself soon.

I played my first few battlegrounds matches in the last few days on WoW – and am dreadfully terrible. I strongly suspected I would be, but considering my decency on the Xbox, specifically with Halo, it’s humbling to see how truly bad I am at WoW, especially on my rogue Nanane, as rogues are a complex and subtle class. I want to get better, but I don’t have nearly as much fun with Nanane as my priest Beris, who I’m leveling up with one of John’s character’s, and a character of his friend’s DJ’s. Speaking of John & DJ, they have a WoW blog where they discuss their arena matches. It’s funny, and not surprising, how many people in the SFF world play this game. About time I caved in.

Of course now, I have to manage my time between the Xbox game Dante’s Inferno (which has also influenced the new short, full of characters like a writhing Cleopatra, penitent Pontius Pilate, helpful Virgil, and endless demons) and WoW. The decisions to make.

I also just finished the new Sirenia Digest, #61, I believe, of Caitlyn R. Kiernan’s. Any Kiernan fan should immediately subscribe – it’s worth every penny. I loved the story “-30-.” Loved it. It’s that fulfilling kind of read that I look for in every short: beautiful writing, meaningful, well-rounded, and leaves the reader with a little ache from its honesty.

Wednesday good news – I’m now an Assistant Editor at Lightspeed Magazine! It’s been a quick year since LS has opened; a quick, unbelievably rewarding year.

Next up, I need to read some good novels. So many shorts, not enough novels.

>It’s finally fall here, mostly. Right now, it’s 55 degrees outside, and I’ve thrown most of the windows open, and even the back screen door, although there’s a gaping hole about 2 inches wide between the door and the frame – Buddy got excited one night last year and didn’t see the screen, causing the door to bend nearly in half (and he didn’t even get outside). But we haven’t been able to bend the door completely back, nor does it seem to be easy to get a new door. I’m not complaining today, though. A few bugs are worth it.

Then it will get hot, by 11 am, maybe noon – 85 degrees in the sun. Still better than 105, but it doesn’t quite make for a nice stroll.

Either way, I’m suddenly in the fall mood. I made a curried pumpkin soup last night, and chocolate chip banana bread – the soup turned out quite well, and the bread burst over the tins, but oh, it’s so good. And I also bought some pumpkin beer – which tasted like ass. Terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible. So, a Leinenkugel fall sampler pack it is. I wished I lived somewhere with a lovely local brewery, but this will certainly do. And today, maybe some kind of bread, and another soup.

But this post isn’t about food, it’s about video games.

I love them. I always have, far more than seems possible given the fact that we didn’t have a television growing up. But I remember playing Mario Brothers at my friends’ houses, and sitting for hours in my older sister’s dorm room playing some quest of something or another on her roommate’s computer – an ancient game. That was in, what, 1993 or something? It had to be in MS-Dos.

And then my brother bought an Xbox after I went to college – by then, we had a computer /monitor/television screen (that had no channels) at home, so I was introduced to the James Bond games – which I loved, and Halo. I loved Halo, too (aliens! spaceships! strange planets!), but I was so terrible at it, and the popping heads-bobble-alien thingies would always explode and kill me when I least expected it.

See? Look at him! Terrifying. And then right when you get up close, BAM!pop-pop-pop-pop-pop! He explodes all over you. Tiny creepy crawling thingies.

Yet I still twisted Josh’s arm to play every time I went home, and then I’d just run along behind him as he killed all the aliens.

Then after college, I was introduced to Diablo 2, when I nannied for four amazing children of the most amazing woman. (Her husband was the Diablo player). And that was a fun game. Was it all the treasure chests? I don’t even know. Maybe it was the catacombs, the skeleton armies, the random beasts you’d meet underground.

But it was so much fun that I’m nearly as eager as John for Diablo 3.

And skip to present day, with the Xbox 360 downstairs, and the dozen games we have. There’s only a few I like, and I really, really, really like them. I’ve tried to figure out what it is that appeals to me about them – part of it is the story, the adventure of it. I like both the Left for Dead games (zombies! What’s not to like?), but there’s no real story in Borderlands, the 2k game that came out some time ago, and I adore it – the post-apocalyptic setting, the great music, the crazy mutants and rabid dogs, the bandit-like natives, the constant flux of stuff to find. It’s a huge treasure hunt. And then add in zombies, one of their expansion packs, giant War-of-the-Worlds-like spider-thingies, and ninjas. I could be a spokesman for the game. (There’s another expansion I might get today – sooooo excited).

But story – the real story award goes to Bioshock, both 1 & 2. I love the story, there. Dystopia galore – a new world set under the sea, with genetic enhancements and modifications? It’s like a dream. Besides the story, you get to find shit (Bioshock is made by 2k – I sense a theme…) Weapons, plasmids, ammo, fun things, oh, it’s wonderful. And, there’s a new one coming out – I’m so excited. (I’ve hooked my sister on playing, too – it’s that fun).

And there’s Halo. People talk about the story, but meh – both Halo ODST and even the new Reach have meh stories, especially Reach. I still think Halo 3 campaign trumped ODST and Reach put together, but I’ve finally accepted the lure of player versus player, pvp. Not so much the addictive quality, but the endless opportunities to play better. And it’s just so much damn fun when you succeed.

(Ghost Town, one of my favorite pvp maps)

The best part about it is that we can play with my brother Josh in North Dakota, his wife’s brother Jordan in Wyoming, John’s friend DJ in South Carolina, and his sister (across the street), and anyone else who’s got an Xbox360. It’s a community event.

Oh, that’s where I was going with this – with an Xbox360, we can drink fall beers together, in opposite states, and shoot aliens. That’s real friendship.

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