The Flame. A poem.

The flame
burns like phosphor,
ignited and soaring by degrees:

The passion,
the anger
(and the shame).

The flame,
super luminal intensity, burns
me up,
turns me
ashen.

(For how long will I shine before the all too brief spark burns low and fades? How long before the darkness encroaches again?)

The flame
wakes me from listlessness,
brings me to back to life,

again
and again.

Light me up, turn me on,
and never

fade away.

The Laidback DM #12 – Free Village Map!

Time for another of my irregular Laidback DM posts, and a new free map! Map drawing for D&D adventures is my thang. I now have far too many maps, so I’m giving them away free each week.

This week: Village at the Crossroads!

At first this may seem like a boring little map, but imagine your player characters defending it against an attack by Hill Giants, Trolls, Ogres and Ogrillons, led by an Arch Mage! Just got a lot more exciting, huh? And imagine there’s a mysterious tomb under the local temple that the Arch Mage is trying to access to recover a powerful magical staff, that will give him enough power to take over the region (gotta start small: today, this village and region, tomorrow, THE WORLD! Bwah-ha-hah!

Actually, I drew this map in the style of those found in the old Judges Guild’s City State of the Invincible Overlord supplement. Anyone remember that classic? Ah, memories. What good are they…

Village at the Crossroads - 13x20 - stevestillstanding

Above: Actual map is 13cm x 20cm. Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

Acquiesce. A poem.

Acquiesce to the night’s probing fingers,
an invitation 
          given without 
                      betrayal.

Shake and stutter in these jealous hills and vales.
Writhe in a cave 
           of dream-inspired 
                      torment,

until dawn awakes the feeble sleeper
and time restarts;
           a clock has no
                      end.

Bad Reader, Bad!

I’m a bad reader. Not a bad reader, as in slow or illiterate, but bad as in I read 10-12 books at a time and as a result often find myself returning to a book, months after I started it, wondering what happened previously. I think this has something to do with my short attention span…hey! Look, a pretty butterfly…

What was I saying? Oh, right, books. One of the books I recently returned to after a four month absence was Justin Cronin’s The Twelve, sequel to The Passage and the middle book of his super-cool post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy. If you haven’t read this yet I urge you to stop doing what you are doing RIGHT NOW, jump on a bus/train/plane/teleporter, get to your local bookshop, find they don’t stock it, argue with the shop assistant about why they don’t have the quality literary works you want in their store with them saying “look I just work here”, go back home in a bad mood, order it on the internet, wait two weeks for it to arrive waterlogged after the postal worker drops it off in a rainstorm and it’s  too big for the mailbox, dry it out in front of your old heater which sparks and nearly burns your house down, peel the pages apart, ring up the internet book seller and explain why you want another copy, they tell you they can’t as it was the postal service’s fault, you tell them huffily “that’s the last time I buy anything from you” (as you make another online purchase on their site), then read it. It’s freaking awesome and worth the hassle.

It’s a bit easier trying to remember what you read months ago with fiction then with non-fiction. With non-fiction I may as well start the book again as I can’t remember what it was about after being away from it for a week, let alone a month (aaah, A History of the Renaissance. That was something to do with…the three musketeers? Stealing art. Lasagne. Wormholes. Or something).

I know what you’re thinking. ”Steve, why don’t you just read one book at a time?” Oh come on! That’s like saying only eat one colour m&m (and as obsessive compulsive as I am, I like all the colours. Wait a minute–maybe if I only eat all of the same colour at a time, the packet will last longer…). I like variety in my reading. And despite my claims that I do nothing all the time*, I actually have a lot going on** with my uni courses, music, gaming, TV watching, workouts, eating…okay now that I read that back, it sounds like I’m a bit of a layabout with time on my hands.

New leaf! Even though I have a lot of books on the boil, I will endeavour to finish this one before going back to another! Wow. Who would have thought reading a book from start to finish would require so much work…

Cheers

Steve 🙂

*This claim is completely unsubstantiated. Or would be, if I had the time to substantiate it. Or unsubstantiate it. One of the two. 

**The term, ‘lot going on’ is completely unsubstantiated.

Avoidance? I think not, my friends, I think not.

Sooooo…today, I had to do paperwork for my long-suffering and very overdue property settlement (like a promised rain storm after years of drought, it shimmers like a mirage in the heat haze…sorry, got distracted. That happens). Seeing as how I’m very focused (Yes, I won the ‘Far Too Focused’ award at work three years running from 2003-5) on getting things done, an over-achiever (I won the ‘Far Too Much of an Over-Achiever’ award at work three years running from 2006-8) and certified obsessive compulsive (no, missed out on that award. Was beaten by Jenny Falucci. Damn you, far too overly obsessive compulsive award winner Jenny Falucci!! There’s a place in obsessive compulsive Hell for people like you!*), I saw that considerable pile of paper and…did other stuff.

After a workout (no biggie there, I usually exercise every morning, part of my overly excessive compulsiveness), a three kilometre walk (no biggie there, I often walk in the morning, but not compulsively. I do it because I want to…along with the lunges and calf raises. That’s right, biatches, feel the burn! Oh, that’s right, I burned. I guess I just burned myself. I get distracted easily…), shaving my head (it was time to get a haircut, and as a universally known cheapskate and all-around poor person I preferred doing it myself. Did I say prefer? I meant no one else is good enough to do my hair. What little there is of it) so that I now look like a criminal (not my wisest choice, especially after buying a year’s worth of illegal hair wax, but at least when I’m arrested trying to sell large volumes of illegally voluminous hair wax to balding crackheads I’ll look just right for the mug shots), compulsively re-arranging my room (yes, I live in a tiny room, I’m over it now. But it’s so small…), marathoning Brooklyn Nine Nine compulsively (season 2 to be precise. Maybe I should watch season 1 first? Hey, it’s not Game of Thrones, I can live with that), I decided to write this blog post. That was possibly one of the longest sentences in history. Or was it…

Now, really, I should have focussed on getting that paperwork in order. Time is ticking and I would like to get the property settlement finalised this year (think of it as a time bomb, just waiting to go off—in my ex-wife’s face!! Yeah! How do you like them apples! Oh, sorry, got carried away…). I’ll have time after this. Although my guitar is looking very lonely on its stand and I haven’t picked it up since about one minute after I got up this morning…

Okay, it’s now ten minutes after I almost finished this post. I played guitar (okay, I noodled around. That’s jamming with yourself, which is sad in itself, but also not achieving any real outcome. Like playing a song, for instance). There’s this thing called ‘avoidance’. If I was a pop-psychologist (which I’m not) as opposed to a gynaecologist (which I’m not), I’d think the painful memories of my ex-marriage (which they’re not) were making me avoid doing my paperwork (which I’m not. I’m just lazy). Which I’m not, I’m just lazy. Oooh, déjà vu, anyone?

I think I might do some D&D stuff instead (what’s D&D you say? Click here). Where was I? Short attention span. Hey, my guitar looks a bit lonely over there…

Okay, just finished playing a guitar concerto in B minor (okay, no I didn’t, I just noodled. But I sounded really self-important for a minute there…). Now that’s over, perhaps I’ll give this avoidance thing a little more thought. Do paperwork?

Hey, my guitar looks lonely over there…

Cheers

Steve 😊

PS  Why the cat? Because I could. HAH!!

* Let me set the record straight: Hell is not for overly obsessive compulsives. Just those who steal awards from me. That’s right, Falucci, I said STEAL. That award was mine!!

Corridor. A poem.

I wander down life’s corridor.
Testing doors: I open, close.
But through this hall I walk alone,
the only path I’ve ever known.

“Save my soul,” I cry tonight.
Take my hand, hold me tight,
help me find the door that’s right.
Kill this pain and bring me 

back to life.

Train Wreck. A poem.

(I lay
awake.)

I’ve been hit by a train,
and my mental innards lay
strewn
over miles of track.

Don’t think of her,

because that way lies
endless
insomniac hours,
of wondering
how
and
why
she’s run me down
again;
ploughing
into my station,

the end of the line.

I am a train wreck,
crushed and bent,
overwrought and steaming.
A less than urban
tragedy,
built on years
of trauma and recovery,
and a long time need:

to be loved and freed
from
these
rails.

The Laidback DM #11 – Free Dungeon Map!

Yes, it’s that time of the week, and in the tradition of my irregular Laidback DM posts, here’s a new free map. I really enjoy drawing maps (nerd alert!) for D&D adventures, so much so that I have more maps then I know what to do with. So, I’m giving one away free on my blog each week.

This week: Plentar’s Mine!

I created this map because I really wanted to learn how to draw raised shelves (not cupboard shelves, cave shelves) and ledges properly. I was happy with the results. So happy, in fact, that I’m not even going to give you any hints for a scenario. You’re smart enough to stock this baby yourselves.

Plentar's Mine (Map)

Above: Actual map is 19cm x 13cm. Just right click and save.

This map is free to use for non-commercial purposes, as long as you acknowledge me and my website stevestillstanding.com. If you want to use it commercially, please send me an email and we can talk terms.

Happy Gaming!

Steve 😊

The Optimist’s Trial. A poem.

There once was an optimist
Who tripped, fell
Lost his wife
Respectability
His whole life
For some reason lost his optimism as well

He picked himself up
Dusted himself off
Set about finding a new life
But it wasn’t easy
So much was tied up
In his head and heart
It wasn’t easy to forget the strife

Three years later
And the optimist returned
In drabs and dribs
A piece at a time
A patchwork quilt
Of emotion and anxiety

There once was an optimist
Who got up, looked around
For a wife
Respectability
And a life
Dim as a broken bulb
But no longer in strife
He searched far and wide
But no luck so far

I guess that’s just me

And maybe always will be

It. A movie review.

Nein spoilers!

A mini-series of Stephen King’s horror novel, It, was made in the late ’80’s. At the time it was considered pretty scary, but by today’s standards it’s very tame. My favourite horror movie is The Grudge and I tend to compare it to every other horror movie I see, in terms of scare-value. It is not in The Grudge‘s league, but it’s a solid viewing experience.

The new version of It focusses on the first half of King’s book: titular fear clown Pennywise terrorises and murders children in the Maine town of Derry in the late ’80s, is confronted by a motley collection of nerdy kids who dub themselves ‘the Losers’, and general creepiness and gore ensues. There’s also encounters with bullies and overbearing and abusive parents. 

The direction and production values are excellent, but some of the scenes are telegraphed and less scary as a result. A cliched score doesn’t help. Despite this, It remains compelling viewing.

One of the things I took away from this movie was the stark portrait of emotional and physical abuse perpetrated by the parents of several of the child characters. In some cases this was more shocking than Pennywise the clown’s antics. More than anything else, It is an empowering coming of age tale, as the Losers overcome not only the clown, but the monsters in their own homes. 

It is a good Stephen King movie adaption, and it’s not often you can say that. The already in production sequel, It Chapter 2, will cover the ‘kids grown to adulthood’ side of the novel. Based on It‘s box office performance alone, I predict a spate of King books-to-movies appearing in the next few years, riding the horror rebirth gravy train.

It is not as scary as one would have hoped, but it is a good movie, one that most horror fans will enjoy.

Rating: B

Safer Path? A poem.

Stick to the path
Safer there?

Than thickets and brush
Hidden
from prying eyes
That seek to
Rend and blind

Seek the safer path
that winds on

Lingering like
dawn’s afterglow

The safer path?

Nothing Further. A poem.

I don’t hate you
Nothing could be further from the truth

Just because I don’t smile when I look at you
Or avert my eyes as I catch yours
Just because I get tongue-tied when you’re near
And I avoid you whenever and wherever I can
Or talk to others about you rather than directly to you

I don’t hate you
Nothing could be further from the truth

The prospect of losing you
Is my greatest fear
And I am the greatest fool

Because eventually

I will

(No) Compass. A poem.

I thought I was
                    free of anger
But it rages

there!
inside!

Everyday

Over every 
           little   
                 betrayal

Surrounded by tears
That lurk just
behind the veil


Release me from hurt

And leave me 
                    be
For I have lost 
                    myself

And have no 
                    compass 

to find my way home again

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