Tag: Spectacular Nerdery

A Pivotal Moment, a Wobbly Boat, and Adventure

I’m sitting in a cafe-slash-brewery-slash-eatery on the corner of Frederikinkatu and another long-named street. It’s just about 6pm, and the sun is beaming on a diverse, alive, beautiful city I’m visiting for the first time. Helsinki is breathtaking and relatable. It is ancient and new. Also, it has pulled moose sandwiches, which…like…I mean, moose. To eat.

They’ve also got some fantastic vegan options, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Writing Excuses Retreat ended on…was that Saturday? It’s hard to say, because time has blurred on this trip, but I’ve been in Helsinki a couple days now, and though I’m not even halfway through processing the wonder that was the writing retreat, I do have something I thought would be fun to share with you. As we were preparing to disembark from our ship—and summarily delayed in that, of course—I began writing a poem, inspired by Dr. Seuss, about my experience. While it might be a “you had to be there” situation, it might still make you smile.

Enjoy.

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“I do not like this boat,” I said.

“I do not like this boat,” I said,

“This shaking goes straight to my head.”

The golden-vested staffer nodded,

Then carried on, ‘till poked and prodded,

I gave to him my cruise ship card

And purchased water, how bizarre!

 

Photographers go to and fro,

Refusing every plea to “go!”

See, they insist on shutter-bugging

Despite our efforts at mean-mugging,

Making dinner time a chore,

But with our company, not a bore.

 

For Writers, we, have a strange power,

To take all moments, sweet and sour,

Transform them into story fodder,

All our darlings, which we slaughter.

Which we learned to do, with glee,

From Cleaver’s sociopathy.

 

The elevators, quelle horreur!

No semblance of any ordeur,

Though push the button, you did try,

The elevators pass you by.

And when they did decide to stay,

Inaccessible were they.

 

See, other patrons were quite different,

From the world over, wide and distant.

With several customs, strange and new:

An inability to queue,

And smoke in every nook and cranny,

Be they near a child or granny.

 

Excursions to fantastic cities,

Copenhagen’s castle, pretty!

Stockholm’s old town, with it’s bookstore,

Tallin’s KGB enclosure,

St. Petersburg was not so droll,

Because of the passport control.

 

Within the ship, we writers learned,

New concepts in our minds were burned,

And challenges came on the daily,

To write—or not, so cockamamie!

Some writers’ fingers were too restive

Those final word-counts were impressive!

 

But let’s go back, friends, to the shaking,

That oh-so-ever-present quaking!

Fantasia bucked and leaned and wobbled,

My brains inside my skull were boggled,

So if I left an odd impression,

Please forgive me. Did I mention?

 

This was my first, my only cruise,

And while the ship, that cursed un-muse,

Did its best to turn me dour,

I was impervious, ripe with power!

Because of you, my tribe, my crew,

My stable point in world askew.

 

You welcomed me, and took me in,

A stranger, one not free from sin,

Unkempt a tad, unbathéd, too,

You forged me into something new!

For I, like you, do not “aspire,”

I’m proud to call myself a “Writer.”

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What a magnificent experience. I still can’t believe some of it actually happened.

It’s All Fun and Games – Dave Barrett

allfungames_finalI watched Dave Barrett’s It’s All Fun and Games climb the charts of the Nerdist Collection contest on Inkshares with a mixture of admiration and curiosity. The premise—a Live-Action Role Play game come to life—seemed pretty basic. I decided it would be made or broken by the quality of the prose and characterization, since the plot could not possibly be that interesting. Right?

Not quite.

Turns out that It’s All Fun and Games was a fabulous read. The writing was effective—not arabesque or anything, but strong writing that was easy to read, but not overly simple—and the characters had enough depth. But what took me by surprise is the larger arc of the story (left unresolved in the book) and where it might lead.

For those of you unfamiliar with Live-Action Role Play (LARP), it’s one of the nerdier pastimes you can get into. Essentially, it is acting out your dungeons and dragons characters and battling each other using foam weapons, nerf arrows, and beanbags as your implements of war. Here’s a cringe-worthy example of LARP in action.

Now that you understand the context, we can talk about It’s All Fun and Games. Six friends begin what seems to be a weekend of normal LARPing adventure when, for reasons unknown, their make-believe becomes real. The begin to take on the mannerisms of their assumed characters, as well as their personalities, memories, and abilities. They take their mysterious and magical translocation in stride, assuming they must play out the “encounter” to discover how to get home.

For a short while, progress is smooth. They save some townsfolk from brutal bandits, find some treasure, and feel powerful with their in-world “enhancements.” But, things tending toward entropy, a member of the team is soon killed, and all but one are taken captive by a group of monsters.

The process of rescuing the team is fun to read, but the tacit acceptance of the changing circumstances by the group (attributed to their assimilation of fictional personalities) is irksome. They rebel at the notion of their captivity in a fictional world for only a short while (until things get real what with the death and all), and from that point forward, are adventurers. I’d have liked to see a bit more resistance on the part of the teenagers—though they’ve become magically skilled and fine warriors in their own right. Even if some parts of it would be awesome, I can’t say I’d be entirely stoked to suddenly find myself in a dungeons and dragons quest.

The end of the story is somewhat abrupt. The crew is rescued by the unlikeliest of members, and they set off to learn more about the Evil Guy who brought them to the fantasy land for reasons unknown. It kind of fizzles out—a single encounter that would have been terrific fun to play with friends in dungeons and dragons, but a less-than-perfect ending to a novel, perhaps.

If, as I surmised from the accompanying text, Dave Barrett intends to make this a serialized story, I’d be glad to read the next installments. It was a quick read, without too many surprises, but absolutely enjoyable and well worth your time, if DnD is your cup of tea.

It’s All Fun and Games is available on Amazon and Inkshares.