Haiku Friday: Inbetween. A haiku.

Inbetween
Caught in the middle,
the dutiful advocate.
Which way do you turn?

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable and line structure.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Shade. A poem.

There’s no rain, but the wind
blows and buffets and billows,
like an intransigent wolf at my door.
Cocooned in my chair and cold
sweeps and seeps through joints,
a lubricant of low viscosity oil.
The fire inside is only embers,
charcoal broiling in an emotive stew,
churning amongst gristle and bone.
What I’d give to fade away,
a listless shadow as the furnace
dies and dulls these pitted memories.

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Stump. A poem.

I’m just a stump

By the road

You took your axe

And cut me

Down to size

Left me here

Just a stump

With not much

To reflect on

But passing traffic

Erstwhile glances

Just a stump

Worn and threadbare

Just a stump

Cut down in my prime

Admire your handiwork

As you pass

Stump

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Happytime Murders. A movie review.

No spoilers, but does it really matter for this one?

Where do I begin? The Happytime Murders is a muddled attempt at a comedic crime drama. The big problem: it lacks humour and a by-the-numbers conventional plot leaves you wondering why someone put up the money to make it in the first place.

Puppets and humans coexist in the world of the The Happytime Murders. Puppets are inferior and downtrodden by humans. Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is a puppet PI who was the only puppet to serve on the human police force, forced out over an incident involving his then-partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and the death of an innocent bystander. Now Phil lives the life of a Raymond Chandler-esque gumshoe, who is approached by Sandra, a nymphomaniac puppet who thinks someone is out to blackmail her. Phil’s investigation leads him to a number of puppet murders, linked to the syndicated Happytime show. He teams up with Edwards to solve the case.

happytime-murderse

From there it’s all downhill: puppets having sex, puppets drinking and doing drugs, puppets using the F-word a lot. It’s a one-trick pony that’s novel and amusing at first, but rapidly grows tired. Melissa McCarthy doesn’t seem to find her rhythm until the second act and even then, it’s patchy.

The Happytime Murders doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. At times it’s way too serious, at others attempting to pass off repetitious, miss-the-mark, frat-boy humour as comedy (the silent audience was telling). There are a few funny lines, but you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to them. It’s not really worth the effort.

This is the first time this year I’ve actually felt like I was cheated by a film company. If I could get my money back I would.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend The Happytime Murders to anyone.

Rating: E

The Chair. A poem.

Perpetual, an endless sojourn,
a continuum of unknowing.
This electric chair does not ease
the time as much as I would like.
The thoughts that spiral in my brain
are currents playing havoc
with the depths of perpetuity,
every outcome played out
against a backdrop of chaos.
And time ticks on, as slow as
shifting dunes or tidal sculpting.
Flick the switch, erase this unease,
ride the lightning and burn it out.
With every swollen, bleached
and battered breath, I’ll play
this game until my time is done.

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Operation. A poem.

I wish sometimes
I could open my head,
take a scalpel in hand
and then operate.
Remove all the things
that I just love to hate:
things that make me
odd, or a little irate,
all the shadows I jump at,
everything that frustrates,
the notorious black dog,
fears that keep me awake.
But then all these parts
are the whole sum of me,
the sum of my choices,
consequences and fate.
And without them
I wouldn’t be who I am today.
So, let me close up my head
and put the scalpel away.

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

The Laid Back DM: Flying by the Seat of Your Pants

I’ve been a Dungeon Master (DM) for many years now, ‘refereeing’ role playing games in many genres—fantasy, science fiction, horror, modern age. I’ve had experience running all sorts of adventures (an interactive story the players undertake to complete a quest or mission, sometimes as part of a larger campaign), and I’m currently writing a Dungeons and Dragons 5e supplement to publish.

Back when I was just a beginner, I would ‘railroad’ (a linear series of events that can’t be avoided) my players through the story. Over the years I’ve grown in experience and now my adventures are looser and offer more opportunities for improvising.

Here are some hints for DMs who want to fly by the seat of their pants:

Plan Less

Don’t write or plan as much for your adventure as you may have in the past. Have a basic plot, your major NPCs, a few encounters and a map or two, but don’t go big on filling out the details. Decide things as the players decide—let them help drive the story. It will save you lots of time and take the adventure places you may never have dreamed of.

My adventures are rarely longer than a page, nowadays. And that includes the map!

Know Your Players

Some players like to role play more, some like battles, some like puzzles and some hate them. Know your team and have a balanced mix of encounters for each adventure, so that no one is left out. Players will be more engaged if you know their character’s traits and what they like, making stories and introducing subplots accordingly.

Use Random Tables

Sandboxing is a gaming artform whereby the players decide what, when, where and how they want to do things. You generally need to be able to improvise well to run these sorts of campaigns, but if you need some help, keep a bunch of random tables on hand to generate NPCs, encounters, names, etc. on the fly.

Kevin Crawford (the man who wrote Stars Without Number and other great OSR RPGs) includes random generators in all his books, and there are numerous random table/plot supplements available from various companies.

Say ‘Yes’ More

A method used in improv comedy is to say “Yes, and…”. In other words, agree with a player’s course of action and then see where it takes them next. Saying “yes” more often to players can be liberating and take the story in unexpected directions. Don’t worry, you can still say “no” to the really outlandish stuff. You’re still running the game, after all.

In a recent D&D adventure, the party was asked to help out with a murder investigation. One of the players decided they needed a writ from the vice mayor to show they were deputised, which they used several times to question townsfolk and gain access to buildings. After a run in with a local trader they decided to break into his shop at night to investigate some potentially illegal goods. The party decided to confront one of the murder suspects at the local lighthouse where he worked and during the meeting they sabotaged the light so that one of the ships in the port suspected of piracy would maroon on the rocks when it returned that night. I decided the lamp was mechanical, rather than magical, and rotated by way of two harnessed dogs, which the party co-opted to track down an Orc lair on the outside of town. The players decided to use one of the cleared suspects to stage a ruse and draw out the murderer.

None of that was planned. All of it came about because I made up stuff in response to what the players wanted to do, and said ‘yes’ more often. It opened up several options that kept them enthralled and made the adventure more fun for me as well.

So, learn to fly by the seat of your pants. Before you know it, you’ll be running the adventures you’ve always wanted to.

Cheers

DM Steve 😊

What did Steve just rabbit on about? Don’t know what D&D or RPGs are? Click here.

Haiku Friday: Angel. A haiku.

Angel

You descended from
on high, an angel whose wings
could fly no longer.

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable and line structure.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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