Monthly Archives: February 2012

WarBirds: The Story so far…

Warbirds: The Story so far... Since I’ve heralded the news that I will be ceasing the repetitive drudgery that has denoted so much of my  occupational life, I thought I’d let those of you out-of-the-loop know that once upon a time I did in fact  write a book.

WarBirds: The Story so far… was published in 1999 by Burbank Books. It focused on a popular flight-  simulator that represented the Internet’s first Massively Multi-player Online Game (mmog).

It was a remarkable achievement insomuch that my editor was located in South Africa. My co-writer and  publisher were based in Australia, and I was living in Canada. The book is well over 500 pages and  represented a couple of years labor during which I interviewed members of the “WarBirds” community, the game’s developers, real WWII pilots and gathered information on the many squadrons that made up the game. I also wrote about the game’s development history and the gaming conventions that constituted a major source of fun and barely fit-to-print shenanigans.

The book and its inspiration were hardcore testimonials to the male sex and represents one of the most testosterone laden chapters of my life. There exist pictures of a very grizzled and vastly over-weight me surrounded by pints of beer, “stogie” in hand and ubiquitous “WarBirds”  ball-cap yelling up a storm amidst my aviation loving peers in various locations of the good ol’ US of A. I refer to this period as “The longest cocktail party” because it sure seemed it.

At any rate, I was pleased to see that a copy of the book is located with the National Library of Australia and that numerous citations regarding the book exist including one at wired.com. The British gaming magazine “Edge” also reviewed the book quite favorably stating that it represented: “crucial reading for anyone attempting to understand the dynamics of building an online gaming community.”

Not bad for a first effort if I do say so myself.

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“Sorry Wrong Number”

stanwyck

Sometimes you don’t have to look far for something to “Blog” about. In fact, sometimes an interesting topic pretty much drops itself right in your lap. Such was the case last night when through a series of unfortunate events I managed to stumble upon a woman who seemed to have channeled Barbara Stanwyck at her frenzied, panic-stricken, melodramatic best (or worst, as the case may be).

Sue and I had settled down to bed around 9 o’clock last night where Sue quickly went to sleep and I lay contentedly reading Libba Bray’s “Beauty Queens” (about half-way through now) whilst enjoying the soothing therapeutic touch of my Dr Ho’s® Pain Therapy System.

Well poor Sue is in the throes of a Peri-menopausal struggle; one where loud-ish noises, bright lights, late nights, and pretty much anything else generally considered innocuous can take on the characteristics of an emotional landslide. So with dear Sue’s mid-life proclivities firmly in mind I decided to take advantage of my brand new iPhone 4s’ amazing versatility.

A great “app” simply called “Flashlight” allows my iPhone to act just like a flashlight by means of its powerful built-in camera flash. My reading had concluded and the nightstand table lamp had been turned off, but my Dr. Ho continued with its gentle ministrations easing the tension out of sore aching muscles. Now with the room completely dark except for the faint glow emitted by the LEDs of my Dr. Ho I decided to turn the unit off and join Sue in a blissful night’s sleep.

Well, the Dr. Ho can be a bit tricky to turn off insomuch as it incorporates a “wheel” that if turned the wrong way can increase the unit’s massage power to a rather disquieting degree. So on went my phone and with the slightest touch of the “Flashlight” icon I was able to illuminate the area immediately surrounding the on-off wheel. I gently removed the adhesive pads stuck to my shoulders and managed to find the transparent plastic veneers that prevent the massage pads from attracting unwanted hair, dust and grit particles. All was quiet; Sue was fast asleep undisturbed by all the activity going on next to her as my Dr. Ho, book, and iPhone/flashlight prepared to be put away until morning.

And then it happened…

Somehow, in the darkness I had inadvertently turned my ersatz “flashlight” back into a phone and it started dialing!

It rang once but I quickly found the “end call” button and stopped it from ringing any further; hopefully circumventing any harm that might have occurred by disturbing some innocent party on the receiving end.

All was perfectly quiet when after a minute or so my phone began ringing. Without really thinking, I answered it and was rudely introduced to my Barbara Stanwyck doppleganger.

“Who are you? Why do you keep calling here?”

“Oh I am so sorry I…”

“This has been going on for 2 months! You call, let it ring once and hang up!”

“Oh I am so sorry, I just bought this phone and have never called you before. It must have…”

“I warn you this better stop or I am going to the Police with this.”

She was yelling into the phone by this time. Of course all the effort made to avoid disturbing Sue came to naught as she was awakened by my efforts to calm “Barbara” on the other end of what had become a rather unsettling phone call.

There was no reasoning with her. I tried explaining again that my phone was brand new and that there is no way I could have been phoning her nightly for the past 2 months. But my pleadings and sincere efforts to quell her anger fell on deaf ears. She abruptly hung up leaving Sue and myself absolutely nonplussed at the vehement torrent of heated emotion that had broken the serene environment so carefully cultivated over the previous couple of hours.

Needless to say sleep did not come easy to either of us after that and I got up to research ways in which to prevent my cell phone from calling that particular number ever again. Although some options are available opinions vary as to their ultimate effectiveness. I ended up calling Rogers Communications (my phone provider) and asked if there was anything that could be done from their end.

A case-file was opened and I was instructed to follow-up on it after a few business days have passed. I also “googled” the number I had inadvertently called. Apparently it belongs to West Coast Home Theatres. Their phone number is (250) 338-SHOW(7469). If you decide to call them I recommend you let it ring more than once. “Ms. Stanwyck” gets upset if you call just once and hang up.

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No longer “Watching the Wheels”

It seems John Lennon found some measure of peace during the mid-late 70’s when he entered a self-imposed exile of  what he termed, “house-husbandry”.  A period he  was to reflect back on during the making of Double Fantasy and which included the telling lyrics to “Watching the Wheels”:

People say I’m lazy, dreaming my life away. Well, they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me. When I tell them that I’m doing fine Watching shadows on the wall, Don’t you miss the big time, boy, You’re no longer on the ball.
I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round, I really love to watch them roll. No longer riding on the merry go round, I just had to let it go.

And yet for every imaginative individual the dreaded “writer’s or creative block” is anything but a comforting presence or a peaceful retreat from the demands of public performance in whatever form one’s talents choose to take.  In my case it invariably leads to a state of inertia. The creative waters cease to flow and I end up doing what I call the “dead-man’s float in the middle-of the pool”.

Sadly, all too often it takes the practical form of menial labor and rather than taking charge of my life and proactively seeking  a means of expressing my creative impetus, I languish amidst the drudgery and uninspired monotony of the proverbial 9-5.  Ugghhh!!!!

So remembering a basic law of physics that it is easier to redirect a body in motion as opposed to one standing still I’ve decided to stir up the creative process and my nascent writing ability by entering the blogging arena. Hopefully, this medium can provide the impetus for more creative endeavors including but not limited to  a screenplay I have in mind, a YA (young adult) novel and an autobiography.

Inertia always makes me feel as if I’m stuck behind some figurative 8-ball with limited possibilities and a hopeless, unrewarding insipid future. So the time has come to break-free of my self imposed lethargy and to stoke the creative fires once more. So I see this Blog as a great training aid one that will allow me to hone my writing skills and prepare the way for bigger and better things to come.

Here’s hoping 🙂

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