Star Citizen Role Play Revisited

Every few years when I went to the San Diego Comicon, I made a point of attending a presentation with J Michael Straczynski. I became a fan of JMS way back during Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. I didn’t know a lot about him at the time, and I didn’t really have a passion for writing. I thought the show had some interesting concepts for a children’s show. The death of Pilot (Jessica Steen), for example, I thought was a ballsy move. You don’t kill people on a children’s show. A good friend of mine, Raymond Rappaport, who was working at Comic Gallery at the time, knowing of my love for Captain Power, asked me what would I think a season 2 would look like?

I had never written a script before, didn’t have an idea of how to make a story treatment, and I personally knew one other person who was a writer. I asked him a few questions about planning a story. He gave me a few tips and suggested checking online for story treatments. This was in the early days of internet. AOL was king, I had a CompuServe account and I had a screaming 9600 bit modem. I downloaded am few CompuServe article by JMS on writing and plot development and with that I wrote a proposed season 2 of Captain Power.

Raymond liked it and I got bit by the writing bug. A few years later I read where JMS had a guide for writing for all sorts of media. I bought his book, even got it signed at the San Diego Comicon about two decades ago, and read a lot about JMS and other authors, including the author I knew, about structure, motivations and everything imaginable about the craft of writing.

A couple of comics, a novel and a few film and television projects under my belt and I’m still a poor, starving (well, not so much starving) and struggling writer.

I continue to do write because I want to tell stories, I have a need to tell stories. I don’t do it for the fortune and fame (yes, I’m quoting Paula Abdul). I love writing.

This morning, a new Remitar article comes out. The reason I find this article significant is because when I started working on this crazy Star Citizen role playing idea, I wanted to have something out that was going to immerse me in the game, getting me tapped into role playing. I had things here and there, ideas I wanted to try but it took me three efforts before I could even get a handle on the character. As I wrote the first few articles, I thought I knew exactly where the plot would go, but writing was a struggle and I didn’t know why.

When I wrote this recent article, it was the moment when things started to click. I just started thinking about the presentations JMS would give at Comicon during the production of Babylon 5. I was stuck trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I was struggling with previous articles because I had what I was sure was the path I needed to go. In all those memories of the JMS talks, I remembered he said sometimes the characters will not let you go the way you plan. My friend the writer said the same thing.

It was my “you must unlearn what you have learned” moment, in a sense, and I had to reexamine and toss out where I wanted the story to go. This is where the seeds of the big drama are planted. This article was when I got a handle on things and it opened up a whole world of possibilities for this character. It allowed me to really explore events that affect the character.

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OK Computer, I Get It.

I guess you were tired of me using Paint Shop Pro. I guess you wanted to bump me up in the world, to get my skills levels up, so I’m not going to get too mad at you. I would say, the next time you want me to up my skills, just ask. Seriously, disabling my abilities to view files on Paint Shop Pro was not cool. Here’s the thing, I know during that time, with all the things going on with my parents, it was good to distract me into trying to figure how to fix the issue.

Could you have just suggested that I look at the Photoshop techniques and adapt them to Paint Shop Pro? Did you have to make it seem that I had to get Photoshop and then study numerous Photoshop tutorials. People saw me all week pouring over YouTube video instructions, all day yesterday I was watching instructional video. Yeah, I learned some good tricks, learned some new ways of doing things that are more efficient in workflow.

But really? I pull up Paint Shop Pro by accident this afternoon and the program works fine. All the files that were blocked are visible. Please don’t say once I loaded Photoshop it “healed” Paint Shop Pro. I had Photoshop installed Friday of last week tried loading a graphics file on Monday in Paint Shop Pro and it didn’t work. There have been no updates from Windows or Photoshop.

OK, I’ll keep studying Photoshop, I’ll keep refining my skills on it and Paint Shop Pro. Next time, don’t play me like that, OK.

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New Inspiration for Poor Boy Cooking Show

I got into a creative vibe today and I have a few new recipes for the Poor Boy Cooking Show. All of the recipes worked out as they should have. The next week and a half I will add the new items to the Poor Boy Cooking Show website. I will say this, yes, there is beer for a few of the added items but it is a marinade and you cannot taste the beer. The beer is an extra highlight so if you don’t want to add it, it will not take away from the meal.

The inspiration for the new set of recipes is a mix of comfort food and Sunday church meals. If you are a church goer, especially a Black church goer, this new set of recipes is definitely a “fix me a plate”, comfort food set of items. I added little highlights to the ingredients, but honestly, for you old school Church going, fix me a plate folks, all you gotta do is add some white bread to the meals and you’ll feel at home.

Total cost (no special price) for all the ingredients for the meal – under $20.

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Working My Weekend

It’s concentration weekend. Probably will not be doing formal posts this week. I have a couple of irons in the fire I have to finalize. My goal is that March will get 2 off the ground formally, so the next few weeks will be getting the content finished.

I didn’t announce it because it a soft opening, in a sense, but the Poor Boy Cooking Show is up and active. A few recipes are up but I plan on having a few more up by March. Lots of experimenting, which sounds fun but when I work long hours the last thing I want to do is come up with an inventive receipt that will take hours to prep, cook and taste test. I had a good list of proposed meals all set and ready to go, but I’m pretty sure those were lost when my backpack was taken.

The other site that will start is the Star Citizen RP website. This has given me lots of fun because I’m diving into creating interesting content for the page.

I’ve talked about Star Citizen on Reality Gambit for the past few months. It’s an in-development game that is part space sim, part first person shooter MMO. When I joined the game I really wanted to immerse myself in the RP and I’ve building my backstory. One of the professions is reporter and I decided to engage my creative side by making stories as a reporter based on my character’s reporting in the game.

The web page is the character journal for Whitworth Frazen Guttman Journal Network, the WFG and every month new articles will be published by the character on his page. Think of the journal as a futurist alternative news outlet like the San Diego Reader or New Times. I don’t want to give away a lot about what I have planned out, but it has been fun and challenging to play in the sandbox. I just finished the third article for the journal, including pictures and I have one more article I want to write before launch.

The first article to launch will be about Abdel SeVast, an aging musician talking about his new music.

So, I’m keeping busy and trying to make develop opportunities.

UPDATE: See how I roll? I take a few moments to review the new article and bam! I decide to go ahead and activate the Star Citizen page now, but will still wait until the first week in March to publish the first article. Why? Because when I was looking at WordPress (which I publish with) there’s a schedule option! Honestly didn’t know that but it makes sense. So, I can get everything prepped and set the date and time when I want the articles to go live. Perfect!

UPDATE 2: I don’t get how my brain works sometime. I think employers like me because that little switch goes off and bam, automation will not stop Reg kicks in. When I posted the previous update, it was at 6am and I was sure I would be finished and in bed by 7am. Yes, I got home last might from work and it was about 7pm when I got here. Now it’s 8am, I’m still up because I decided since I’m going to go live with the Star Citizen page I should add a bit more to the intro page, which lead to me redesigning the original graphics I had for the page. Once I’m done with the graphics I may go to sleep but since I can schedule the articles I’ll probably get the graphics done for the second article (I have the graphics for the first and third one done) then I’ll probably start on the fourth. I just want to sleep but my mind is going with ideas so I keep going.

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Progress on Websites

Good progress this week. The Poor Boy Cooking Show has the building blocks for the site. Just need to figure out how I want to lay the categories out then get content and it will be live. I’m thinking the end of February it will be ready to publish. I now have all of the sites under the GenX Noir banner under the same design format. I debated with myself about a uniform vs different style for each website approach. In the end, I felt uniformity was the better option since none of the sites content wise are any different than the others. Next week I have to focus on Pizzas for Peace. The goal for that site is about promoting events local and nationally that I’m interested in. For example, had it been up at the time I would have promoted the Women’s March last week. I’m not sure how activist the site might be. For instance, if I promote the Phoenix or San Diego Comic-Con on the page, would that be OK? There’s activist work at both, but the first thing that comes to mind about those events is comics. It’s going to take time to define what I want then see if about content. The goal for PfP is still fuzzy.

I’m delaying having go live until next week but the Star Citizen role playing web page is ready for launch. I’ve mentioned my strong like for Star Citizen on Reality Gambit. My character, I guess I should say proposed character since the game isn’t finished, is a journalist. Well, saying journalist is a bit limiting because since I’m getting immersed in the roleplay, my thinking is in the game universe people are going to have multiple jobs. So, my guy is a journalist, explorer and possible hauler. I figure that combination allows me to explore all sorts of areas and report from those sites.

The website for the character has a page for the small news organization he works for. Think of him working for a small local free paper like The New Times or San Diego Reader. Every few months he’s going to write stories for publication and they will be linked to the site as well as on the Star Citizen fan fiction/roleplaying forums.

The Star Citizen site has some incredible resources for writers if they want to write fiction for the universe. I’ll write something later about how I broke things down and how I’m developing articles to write. The process has been fun so far and I’m only going to post an article every month or two for the site. It’s a separate, fun and surprisingly relaxing activity for me and it lets me exercise my creative skills.

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The Start of Something Interesting

Whenever my friend Suzanne wants to use me for a sounding board on one of her projects, I get inspired to revisit projects I have put aside and mull over the viability of restarting or revamping the projects. The past few years have been a roller coaster for me, but I know life is going to have ups and downs. I’ve realized how I’ve dealt with some of the low points has caused unforeseen side effects. I haven’t been me. I find myself in a midlife crisis and as much as I hate feeling like this it has been comforting and safe. The problem is I’ve been too shell-shocked to move forward. I’ve become the person I desperately didn’t want to be when I was younger and imagined my nightmare older self. As I examined myself during the holidays I saw myself as get along, don’t stir up trouble older guy.

Man, that isn’t me, at least that wasn’t me before the downward spiral happened.

Now that I know what has happened and why it happened I’m working hard at going back and finding me. The way back has been easier than it could have been because with the trials I’ve gone through, especially things in the last three months, I hear that stupid statement in my head that trump made during the election when he was trying to appeal to Black voters.

What have I got to lose.

By April I hope to have projects in place that will give a larger presence to GenX Noir Productions. The Poor Boy Cooking show will be back. I’m going to posts recipes on the pages of the site, which is a lot faster than doing videos. I hope to have videos posted again, but I’ve had a lot of people ask about how I come up with meals, especially when I add something unexpected, I wanted to have a forum to present that information easily.

After a discussion I had with Ken of Drawn to Comics, Reality Gambit will do expanded reviews. I’ve done reviews of TV shows at the end of season, but now I’ll do episode reviews of some shows. For comics, I’m going to review more but instead of individual issues I’ll start reviewing continuing story lines. I just got a new batch of comics last night (thanks Drawn to Comics again for my holds) and there were a couple of comics I want to sit down and savor.

I got the domain name a few years ago after hearing about it at the beginning of the Occupy movement, now Pizzas for Peace will finally become a reality. With the new administration, there will be many challenges for people to organize, protest and gather for change. I plan on Pizzas for Peace to be . . . well there’s a lot of things I want it to be and I haven’t hammered down all the details, but I’ve read a lot of Facebook posts from a lot of my friends from high school and I know there are people who want to do something but aren’t sure how. I’ll have more details as April approaches.

Well, I’ve got lots of things planned for the next few years it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

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Less than a Week to Go before the RNC / SDCC Trips

I have a little under a week before the travel plans begin and I’m not nearly as finished planning as I’d like to be. I’m probably going to have a day to wrap up a few loose ends before I have to pack. I have to get the packing done earlier than I want because I go to work one day and the next day I go to work again then leave straight from there to the airport for the red eye to Cleveland. It didn’t hit me how little time I have left, even though I have time technically the free time to prepare isn’t.

My friends in Cleveland have been very helpful. They know how I roll. As long as I have a corner to sleep in, a place to clean up and access to a power supply I’m good. This stage of the ‘vacation’ is more working than anything else because of the Republican convention and the changes that will be in Cleveland as far as schedules and routes.

I have a feeling a lot of what I’ll be doing on this leg of the adventure is standing on the outside of the fun stuff. I don’t have a pass onto the convention floor, so I’ll be outside with the protestors and supporters. Considering the events of last week, I have a feeling tensions will be high. I’ve joked to people that I might get hit by a Trump supporter. Now that might not be so much of a joke, although now the police have to be factored into the mix. I doubt anything will happen, but I have to be prepared.

The San Diego Comic-Con planning has been a lot easier only because I’ve been through it so many times. I think I’ll be able to see Rep John Lewis give his talk on the final book of his graphic novel MARCH. I’ve gone to his talk ever since he put out the first book and I’ve taken pictures and videos of each appearance. Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, the co-writer and artist, have become my comic-con buddies who have been very gracious and open every time I’ve attended the event and after I’ve sent them video of the presentation. They are upright guys and I appreciate that they have been appreciative of the photos and videos I’ve done.

I will catch up with a lot of convention friends, both inside and outside the convention floor. Friday, when I’m not on the convention floor, I have to get the street preachers. So much weirdness with them.

Anyway, time is getting close and a lot has to be done, but this anxious time pays off in the end with a hopefully fulfilling experience.

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Photo Series 3 – The Commuters

The third in the series of photos of the commuting experience I see in Phoenix was published this morning on Flickr. It was fun getting this new set of pictures. There were about two months between series two and three, but I took almost 1500 photos, which I narrowed down to 65 which finally got down to the 41 posted. So yes, there a lot of photos I reject and not just because of technical issues. Sometimes I take a photo and in the end it’s just not interesting. I experimented with lighting on this round of photos. Any sunburst or unusual shadows you see in the photos are completely natural, no photoshopping in those effects.

I’m now halfway through the year and this project. You can see the full set of photos for this series here and don’t forget to check out the other photos in the series as well as other set I have on my Flickr page.

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Happening with GenX Noir

There are interesting things happening with GenX Noir. I have been bugged for the past year about what direction GenX Noir was going. It can be hard to focus on a path I want to follow. Sometimes, the path I think is right isn’t the right one. The biggest thing we can do to ourselves, and I have to remind myself of this constantly, is pigeon hole ourselves into categories society puts us in. We can also define ourselves in a way that makes others comfortable but makes us miserable. I had to be reminded of this by an 18-year-old I met at Comic-Con. Reading the post from them and looking at the decisions they have made; I see where the decisions they have made are best for them. Since they are in their skin, someone coming along and saying they made the wrong choice for their situation is stupid and honestly they aren’t deciding what is best for the person. I know it’s been said that we define ourselves but when you have ‘the world’ defining you by superficial means, there are times you just want to be ‘normal’ and go with the crowd. When that happens, and it has happened to me a lot this year, I have to remember I’m the one living my life and have to make the best decision for myself, not for what others think.

If I had gone with the crowd, I wouldn’t have started Chaotic Fringe over 20 years ago. If I went with the crowd, I wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith and worked with ‘he who will never be mentioned again except in quiet whispers,’ who showed me I did have the skills and the drive to learn about filmmaking. The fact that he exploited me, well, I could say we exploited each other since I learned a lot from him, that may have been a bargain I shouldn’t have made, but that’s because I’m looking at things in the aftermath. As much pain as he caused in my life, I did learn skills I use to this day. If I had walked away when some people (re: my parents) thought I should have, what would have been my life now? Would it be better or worse? One reason why I take the philosophy of not dwelling on second guessing myself of choices is we’re never really sure what would happen if we took a left instead of a right. We can play the what if card on every decision we make, but we made a choice for the time and moment, we have moved forward, and what might have been isn’t guaranteed to have been a better choice than the choice we did make.

From Commute Series 01

From Commute Series 01

I wish I was doing more film work but I’m not. While I had been feeling down about that I have more ways of being creative. Chaotic Fringe and Reality Gambit have kept me busy writing. A new project I have started is something I call the commuter series. I just released the first batch of photos, which can be seen on my Flickr page at and every month or two I will be releasing a new set of photos for the series. With the photo series I want to show people who are commuting on public transportation; those getting up early in the morning to head to work or around town. The decision to use black and white for the work is I want to evoke a Frank Capra Americana style to the work. After watching a lot of those classic Capra movies (I love the montages he does in almost all of his films where ‘average Americans’ get ready for the big event.) I wanted that same kind of classic look in the camera work. Because I want to capture people in the moment, I’ve had to forgo the Canon camera and employ smaller and discreet cameras. This has definitely pushed my skills in getting shots..

The biggest thing happening for GenX Noir will happen this summer. Because of the generosity of some friends, I will be heading to Cleveland for the Republican convention and the week after that I will be heading to San Diego for Comic-Con. It will be an interesting comparison on two big conventions this summer with vastly different demographics. I haven’t decided yet if I will attend the Phoenix Comic-Con, definitely not sure if I’m going to give a talk this year, but there are projects on the board and I’m excited.

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A Life Hack, If You Will

I just don’t like the term life hack. Sounds like something a bearded plaid wearing hipster would come up with his ‘bros on a Saturday night. I’m more of an 80s cyberpunk hack the system kind of guy. To be real, that puts me in the same mindset and the fake lumberjack life hacker, just a little behind the times.

So here’s something I want to pass along which is kind of a life hack, but more of a practical hack. Always remember to back up important stuff. OK, I can hear the duh, that’s so obvious groans out there, but the reality is a lot of people depend on corporate life savers to help them instead of being pro-active and doing the basic legwork themselves.

Maybe a week ago my main computer experienced some issues and by this week my main computer can go for maybe an hour or more before getting very slow then giving me what is equivalent to the blue screen of death. I was positive my issue was a bad video card. Despite the fact it was less than a year old and cost me over $400, I was positive all of my problems would be cured by getting a new video card and the unrecoverable error message would be gone.

This morning I saw the video card wasn’t the issue and I would probably have to do a dreaded re-install of Windows. That would mean the hard drive would have to be re-formatted. That is a painful process but because of years of rebuilding systems I already had my new computer set to have the least number of programs on the C: drive and made that drive almost exclusively for Windows. That meant if I came across a situation as I have now, a simple backup and them a reformatting of the drive would mean the less loss of information.

Thankfully I had taken my advice and I had a backup of my main HD done about two CFGXN - 20160225amonths ago. So while the reformat and reinstall of Windows 10 will be time consuming, it will be less pain than it could have been. One thing I did pick up from the store today, as extra insurance, was a backup drive. I want to make sure, in the case I have to restart from scratch, I have a fairly recent backup of material from the C drive so a reformat and restart is as painless as possible.

What I’m learning is people are not likely to remember from the past and prevent going through the same bad issues in the future. Because of the experience with my computer, I decided to separate the program files from my active files. The C drive, where most people dump all material, is mostly occupied by Windows 10. Most of my everyday programs, downloads and other important information I have going to a spate drive. That way, if the C Drive goes down my important information are on drives probably not effected by a crash and will be recoverable.

My C drive isn’t completely down but there are a few bits of information I want to retain before the big mindwipe. I was able to go to the store and get the items available to back up the files of the C Drive. While I’m sure I have most everything backed up, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup to the backup.

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