Matches and Surveys

“So, you really want to get back into World of Warcraft?” I asked, somewhat taken aback by my friend’s regression into geekdom.

“Absolutely,” Dasad said in between sips of a chestnut praline latte – I swear Starbucks is taking advice from Yankee Candle in their choice of holiday blends. “Look you need something to occupy your free time outside of grading . . . mole tests or whatever the hell you teach in chemistry. MMOs are the perfect outlet.”

I nodded. The last week before my school closed for the Christmas break had proven . . . stressful, so much so that I considered stealing away around noon for a several pints of spiked nog. The mounting terror of children, emails, ungraded labs, January’s midterms, cloying principals, overbearing parents and those last-minute quizzes that you thought would provide an easy grade but . . . ah, the to-do list sought to smother my sanity. Only with three o’clock bell did the anxiety begin to drain away like poison from a wound leaving me exhausted and with a slight migraine.

I had met with Dasad hours later for drinks and coffee, confessing my near panic attack and utter thankfulness for the Christmas season.

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Magical

Hydra“Dude, I’m thinking about . . . kinda getting into Magic again.”

Dasad paused the game, his beefy in-game character frozen while carving the body of a subterranean orc-mercenary. High-res blood and brain-matter splattered the screen, proof of the game’s ‘M-rating’ and hundred-billion weekend sales. He stared at me, his eyes screaming silent chords of betrayal and disbelief as if I had confessed to operating a meth-lab in my spare time . . . and refusing to split the profits.

“Why . . ?” he stammered. “Why would you play again willingly? I thought you were going to register on eHarmony with me . . . well, not WITH with me, but . . . you know, figuratively cruise for potential female life-mates on a digital frontier?”

“Well, Magic doesn’t prevent any of that.”

“Unless you plan on lying on your questionnaire, it does. Face it, you’re mutant-bait.”

“Maybe, but role-playing strategy games cannot hurt my love-life any worse than ’33-years-old and still living with parents,'” I remind him. “Or my dream of owning my own house to solely to store my extensive comic book collection . . .”

“. . . and Japanese porn . . .”
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Small Steps

To infinity and beyond!

The final frontier.  As a kid, I’ve never acquired the obsession with space travel that so fascinated the prototypical ‘geeks’ of my generation.  Before high school, my friends and I began to specialize: the road to anime, the way of the superhero, the path of fantasy, the . . .  starport to sci-fi.  Most of us would explore other genres as well, adopting one another’s obsessions in time.  I introduced Dasad to Tolkien; he led me to comic shops, where I began collecting Batman; our friend, Lloyd, reveled in mecha anime, magical girls, Dragonball and Pokemon.  We all loved video games so finding common ground proved easy.

Still amid all the late movie marathons and gaming sessions, their interest in space and future tech never really stuck.  The nature of space and its prerequisite vacuum always seemed overwhelming and claustrophobic at the same time, like the paradox of a man trapped within infinity — or Marty always running out of time in Back to the Future.

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space. — Douglas Adams Continue reading

The Bacon

Dragon in the trees

The dragon really has nothing to do with this post. But doesn’t it look awesome?

Last week presented me with a rather gratifying job opportunity at one of the nearby schools, teaching science and history to fifth and sixth graders.

This week finds me en route to a meeting with the school principal to discuss salary and my curriculum for the upcoming year, a prospect which — having drifted jobless in academia for the last four years —  fills me with some apprehension.  In the world of research, most scientists are lucky to get paid at all; even highly trained post-docs struggle with making rent and resort to scrounging the offices for free doughnuts.

As a middle school educator, how much should I ask for?  Do I even have a say?  What’s fair?  Luckily my family has offered a few helpful stratagems to ease me through the process: Continue reading

A Night at the Opera . . .

Phantom mask with booksDasad arrived ten minutes before the curtain rose.  Luckily I had anticipated my friend’s dragonboat practice and emailed his ticket earlier.  Nearly all seats had filled by then, stuffed with men and women in varied degrees of pain.  I remained seated as we shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

“Sorry dude, but this is the least uncomfortable contortion I managed in the last half-hour.  If I lose it, I might begin to cry,” I said pointed to my knees tightly wedged under my chin.  Behind my ear, my left toe twitched miserably.

“Seriously, I’m this close,” I said pressing my thumb and index finger together, “to sawing off my feet until this thing is over.  If you think I’m kidding hand me a pen-knife.” Continue reading

Like Ants Cursing the Rain

Hillside of a golf course

“So what exactly are you saying?” Dasad asked, stirring the wasabi.  “That Star Wars should be added to the New Testament?  Some sort of sequel to Revelation?”

Murph gurgled some imperceptible response from his miso soup, inciting a sudden fit of coughing and drooling.  Dasad sighed and returned his attention to the green lump dissolving in his soy sauce.  Murphey had invited Dasad over the house for pizza and games earlier that week.  Dasad had accepted the invitation but neglected the hour-old pizza already ripped to shreds by the fraternal horde, Murphey’s younger brothers and sisters.  Sensing some internal struggle between hunger and disgust within his friend, Murph had suggested carry-out at the local sushi place.  Lenten Fridays restricted most fast food without scales and fins — excluding Taco Bell whose mushy meat remains to this day a zoological enigma.  Carting their repast home, Murph had suggested some minor alterations to 2010’s Holy Week. Continue reading

A Question of Blasphemy

The automatic doors did not open immediately, but seemed to pause and consider the visitors waiting at the threshold first.  After several minutes, the glass panel shuddered and cracked, sliding slowly open.  Having been deemed worthy by the electric bouncer, Dasad and I rapidly passed into the Best Buy and past the greeter before the machine changed its mind.  Walking out of habit to the New Release stack, I pointed out a few titles but met with no reaction.  My reticent companion had kept to himself for much of the afternoon, which suggested some work-related problem, failed romance or indigestion.  Either way time would work out the truth.

“You know, Murph,” he said to me as I checked the price tag of a Ben Hur Blu-Ray, “so much of your religion seems situated around full heads of hair and long-flowing locks.  Did you ever think about that?” Continue reading