Eating a little crow on Thanksgiving

Not exactly the bird I wanted today

Earlier in the week I posted about my encounter with an Internet Troll via email and how I handled him. This post needs a little follow-up.

To be clear, while I somewhat enjoyed engaging in a semantic argument with the superior asshole and not indulging him, I probably should have indulged him. It just wasn’t great customer service, and it has come back to bite me in the ass. The Troll forwarded our email conversation to a property owner and I have since been chastised by my boss, and the owner is making efforts to try to recover his business.

While it felt great at the time to respond to him the way I did, it was a mistake. Not just because I poked the bear and got in trouble for it, but because as a manager in this business I have to represent the interests and reputation of the property owners and not my own all the time. If I was the owner of this property my response still would have been horrible customer service, but at least then it would have been my place to make that decision. To be honest, I might have responded the same way if this was my hotel. But it’s not, and I knew as soon as I hit the send button on that email that it was probably a huge mistake, and I should have known that it wouldn’t end there. Of course it didn’t.

In customer service it just doesn’t pay to respond to superior assholes in kind. No matter how good it might feel in the moment.

People always say, don’t respond to emails or texts angry. I think I’ll listen to those people next time.

You win this round Internet Trolls.

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A little on the nerdy side…

It’s time for a few nerdy updates from me.

What I’m Reading

When Skrulls invade, who can you trust?

Secret Invasion: I’m more than half way through Marvel’s Secret Invasion event and still enjoying it despite the length of the event. Most of the art throughout the event has been superb, and the storytelling suitably epic. The paranoia among our heroes caused by a race of super powerful shape shifting aliens infiltrating their ranks has kept the entire event tense, more so than Civil War did. There’s not really an ideological struggle going on, like in Civil War, a struggle which got old real fast no matter which side of the argument you come down on. Secret Invasion is just a good old super power slug fest against an enemy that obviously deserves it.

What I’m Watching

Immortals: I just got back from seeing Immortals today with a friend. I wasn’t super eager to see it, but it was a good way to spend sometime this afternoon. The movie was far better than I was expecting. The battles were gigantic, and the individual action scenes were masterfully choreographed, better than 300. I especially enjoyed the distinct difference we saw between the Gods & Titans fighting and the battles between mortals. Mortal combat was ultimately a brutal and no frills slug fest. However, watching the Immortals in combat was like watching some kind of dance, they were still gruesomely violent, but always graceful and smooth. The story was compelling enough, if incredibly predictable.

The X-Files: I didn’t watch The X-Files when it was first on TV, but the fiancée and I have been watching it on Netflix starting at episode 1 and moving forward. We’re only about 7 episodes into the first season, but it hasn’t failed to live up to expectations. It’s filled with rich gooey Sci-Fi goodness, and while at times it shows its age in technology and fashion, the storytelling still holds up.

Grimm: Grimm is holding in there as one of my must watch weekly shows. The overall mythology of the show continues to grow with each episode. I’m enjoying the tension between our hero being a monster hunting Grimm and a police officer sworn to uphold the law and the way that those two aspects of the character come into conflict. I haven’t gone out onto the internet to check the ratings, but I’m hopeful that it’s doing well enough, it has a horrible time slot for a new show, but a pretty good lead in with Chuck.

Preparing for a very fond goodbye

Chuck: Speaking of Chuck. It was announced last year when the show was renewed that this would be the final season of Chuck. I’m not horribly torn up by that fact, the show has always been on the bubble one pen stroke away from cancellation. I’ve been prepared for this show to end for a while, but I am enjoying the last season. It’s suitable that this season Chuck gets to prove his mettle by functioning as a world-class spy without the intersect in his head. Ultimately, I’m very glad that the network has given this show a chance to wrap up clean.

What I’m Drooling Over

Motorola Droid Razr: I’m not due for an upgrade until January, and even with 2 year pricing this phone will likely be out of my price range unless there is a significant price cut after the holidays. All that said, I WANT THIS PHONE. Which is a weird thing for me to say with such conviction. I remember the last Razr phone. I never owned one, but given what I heard from everyone I knew that owned one, that was a good thing. It was a super popular design that flopped on technological delivery in almost every way. I’m more hopeful about this version of the Razr though, and I’m looking forward to reading some actual reviews after it has launched and had sometime to get banged around by other people.

Hotness Links

Ouch! That Burns!

COED Magazine has a slide show of The 45 Sexiest Pics of Scarlett Johansson for Her 27th Birthday on their site.This is one of my favorites from the set though. When I was at Immortals earlier today I saw the latest Avengers trailer. I’d be lying if I said Black Widow has become one of my favorite heroes just because Scarlett Johnasson plays her on the silver screen.

Ugo.com posted this awhile ago See Wonder Woman Get A Lap Dance From The Chick From Entourage, but it’s just two awesome to not mention if I’m listing off hotness that makes me need a drool bib. I’ll be seeing this movie eventually.

Also an older post from Ugo.com is their list of Hottest Sci-Fi Girls. I was thinking of putting together a similar list myself, if for no other reason than the research would be incredibly fun.

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Crazy Hotel Guest Story – Slaying The Email Troll

The Internet Troll: A vile creature that lurks in dark dank rooms, using the internet to say nasty things that he just can't say in real life.

This one barely qualifies as “Crazy Guest Story” because the guy never actually ended up being a guest, just some jack hole that booked and room, cancelled it and then emailed me to be an Internet Troll. I sat on these emails for over a week now, mostly because this guy pissed me off so much at the time I didn’t even want to consider dealing with this shit. Below you’ll find his original email to me, my response, and then this response to my response. I admit, I probably shouldn’t have responded to his original email at all, at least not in the mindset that it originally left me in. It’s bad to email ticked off. However, I also don’t think there was anything all that out of line in my email. Compared to his initial message I think I was pretty gracious, at least not the condescending ass that his original message made him out to be. In the end my message also had the desired effect I think, it cemented the guy’s desire to never stay with us in the future which if his email is any indication of his actual personality, I don’t want his business anyways.

Here we go. This is his original email to me.

I’ve just canceled a reservation at <my hotel> for April 20th. On your website you notify people you’ll charge a deposit at time of booking. I was surprised to discover I was charged for the full amount 6 months in advance. On calling your front desk, I was told this behavior was part of a new policy and therefore totally normal. It isn’t. Pre-payment happens in the hotel industry, and it’s called just that. The term deposit in the english language means part payment held as security. If you don’t believe me, look it up here http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/deposit. I was also told when canceling my reservation that my deposit would be turned. Apparently no-one you employ understands what that terms means. Unimpressed. Very unimpressed.

This was a straight copy and paste with just one little redaction. The part that irked me the most was his link to the dictionary, especially because he’s reading the definition wrong. And I think it fairly perfectly fits the definition of Internet Troll provided by the Urban Dictionary. Also, when you’re starting an argument like this, maybe you should do some proof reading before you hit send. Even little typos undercut your argument when you’re arguing pure semantics.

Here’s my response.

Hello <Jack Hole>,

I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding over the term “deposit” and if the amount caught you by surprise. The announcement on our website and in the email confirmation both clarify the amount will be for the “room and tax for the entire stay”. We didn’t construct our verbiage to be deliberately misleading or deceptive. Deposit is a commonly used term throughout the industry and we chose to use it over pre-payment. Your own definition from dictionary.com says “to give as security or in part payment.” As I read it, that doesn’t rule out the deposit being the entire amount because it says “as security or in part payment”. Throughout my career and years of travel I’ve seen the two terms used interchangeably at many different hotels. And I believe the agent on the phone was saying that your deposit would be “returned” not “turned”. I’m sorry you won’t be enjoying a stay with us in April.

Best wishes,

<hotelnerd>

I’ll admit I could have handled his initial email a number of different ways. I could have even ignored it all together. If he had been a return guest with a positive track record of staying with us (and not being a pain in the ass) I might have even waved the deposit policy for him. If he’d just been a little more gracious and less of an Internet Troll I might have still bent the policy for him. In the end, I just didn’t see the point in trying to recover his business. I know that isn’t necessarily “superior customer service” but he’s hardly a “superior customer” he’s just a “superior ass hole.” I enjoy giving my guests great customer service and making them happy. I really do. But when I’m dealing with people who are just miserable S.O.B.s sometimes it’s nice to handle things in a way that hopefully keeps them from ever being a headache for me or my staff in the future.

Sometimes being an asshole just doesn't get you what you want.

The final email in our exchange.

Really? You’re in customer service and that’s your response.

I didn’t respond to him after that. His response told me that my original response had accomplished its mission, and I had better things to do with my day. But what I really wanted to say was,

Yeah. Really. That’s my response. Goodbye.

I know this is a fairly tame story, but I haven’t gotten to share this exchange with much of anyone and I thought this was a descent format to do that in since I could just post pretty much the exact text of our exchange.

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A Day in the Life of a Hotel Front Desk Manager

I wish I could say this was an exageration of what can actually happen. It's not....

I was listening to the Nerdist Podcast Episode 139 with Neil deGrasse Tyson and one of the questions that Chris Hardwick tossed at Neil deGrasse Tyson was “Tell me about a day in the life of a scientist” or something to that effect. Neil kind of chuckled, much how I do when considering that question, because he doesn’t have such a thing as a “typical day”. By and large I can say the same thing, every day I show up to work, and outside of some basic responsibilities that go along with whatever shift I’m working that day I don’t ever really know what the day is going to throw at me.

Typically I get here, and if nothing else is immediately more pressing I check my voice mail and do my initial scan of my email inbox. In a day I receive 15 to 40 emails in a day that require varying degrees of my attention. For the record I hate voice mail, I hate voice mail at work and I hate it at home. Email and text is such a better way to get a hold of me. As I’m scanning email or immediately afterwards I try to touch base with any other managers that are around, especially my fellow operational managers. Often times they have some critical piece of information that is going to shape the rest of my day from staff being out sick, issues from the night audit shift, upset guests I might encounter, maintenance issues, or one of the owners running amok around the property.

Next up is my first walk around the property for the day (assuming that nothing more pressing jumps in my path). I’ve talked about this before, but I think I would go crazy if I was stuck at my desk or in meetings all day. I love going out to walk around the property and see it with my own eyes, it certainly doesn’t hurt that I work on a particularly beautiful property. On this walk I try to hit as much of the property as I can, not just my department, but the pool, guest areas, the spa, laundry, everything I have the time for. There are times that I can’t help but think of myself as Admiral Kirk touring the Enterprise at the beginning of The Wrath of Kahn. I shared this particular image with on of my staff one time and now she calls me “Captain” whenever she feeling like humoring me, or is buttering me up for something. On this first walk I try to survey as much of the property as I can and in particular I’m looking for anything that might be amiss, maintenance issues, staff (specifically uniforms), and littering (I pick up garbage all day long). More than looking for things that might be wrong, I’m also mentally settling into my day.

It’s after this point that I usually can’t tell what the day will hold for me next. Here’s just a sampling of what I had to deal with today.

  • People not staying in the hotel or visiting the spa that thought it would be nice to picnic on our front lawn with their massive dog (we don’t allow pets).
  • Relocating some guests that tried to sneak their 7-year-old into a room in a part of our lodging that is 18 and older.
  • Former guest upset about our $10 charge to ship some lost & found home to her. Apparently places she’s stayed always do it for free. Right. Sure they do.
  • Broken heater in a guest room after maintenance has left.
  • Guest that wanted to complain about the couple that brought their 7-year-old and we relocated. Wanted a discount even though we made them leave.
  • Guests with both glass and alcohol at the pool. Our pool is hot.
  • Two staff members missing their name tags.
  • It’s a holiday weekend and we’re running low on change.
  • Multiple people who want to talk to me about why their case is special and they should get an exception to one policy or another. Some got their exception and some didn’t.
  • Motorized housekeeping cart with a dead battery that we have to push back to base. Those things are solid metal and loaded with shit.

And some of those bullet points become a little routine, but even the routine ones are somewhat unpredictable. Every guest interaction is different and a bit unpredictable even if you’ve dealt with the same issue a thousand times. You just can’t tell how it’s going to go until you’re in it. That’s about it for today, but I still have about an hour and a half left. Along with that I’m answering questions from my staff and the staff of other departments, pitching in on phones, pitching in at the desk, slogging through my emails, doing more property walk around, staying in touch with the other managers. I can also be composing memos, designing procedures, writing employee evaluations or written warnings. And the property owners weren’t even here today to heap random projects on me. I only take short breaks to blog at work so that I can vent some steam quietly and not explode on people.

And I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I love working in hotel operations, and even when I’m a GM someday or if I become an owner even, I hope to at least have a couple of toes in the daily operations. At least I feel that way now, if it ever stops being fun then it’ll be time to run as fast as I can away from operations.

 

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Saturday Nov. 12 — (inter)National Gaming Day

Saturday Nov. 12 — (inter)National Gaming Day.

Wish I didn’t have to work on Saturday 😦 I’m still suffering from Gaming Withdrawal over here!

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My Desk

I’ve been meaning to post this picture for a while. This is just a quick shot I took tonight. It’s how you can tell just by looking at my desk that I’m a total nerd. All of these items have been gifts from my staff over the last year and a half, and they make me pretty happy. I just need a TARDIS to round out the scene…hmmmm

Clash of the franchises

Clash of the Franchises

I’m also going to try to put up a picture of me at work in my Halloween costume this year, because it was just so deliciously nerdy. I just have to slightly disguise some details. Anyone who actually knows me and reads this blog could figure out it’s mine, but I don’t want to make it too easy for strangers to be able to recognizes faces and places that’s why I don’t post many pictures that I take myself.

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Where I see myself going…

This isn’t exactly a new revelation for me, but I don’t want to be a Front Desk Manager the rest of my life. Only recently though, I’ve started to actively contemplate the myriad of possibilities arrayed before me. Given the climate of today’s job market, I figure I need to have a pretty good idea of what my goals are now and be looking for the next move. I’m still quite happy at my job, I’m not in a position where I’m dying to leave or hate coming to work every day. I still regularly learn new things in my position. However, if I wait to be restless and miserable in my current position, the act of trying to find the next move will be even more torturous, it would also make it much more tempting to leap at the first opportunity and not the best one.

The next logical step for me is a position as Assistant General Manager or a Director position at a property of at least equal, but preferably larger size to the one I’m at currently. I’d be fine with a Director of Rooms or Director of Operations type position, I think those would be a good next step. Also I’d love to get some experience in Revenue Management as that’s becoming an increasingly important position in the hotel world. The ultimate goal there is to end up as a General Manager somewhere. At the moment I prefer working at an independent (non-brand) property, but that could certainly change as advancement opportunities tend to be a bit more obvious if you get in good on the corporate ladder. The goal for me is to stay in high-end resort type properties as I just prefer the atmosphere at destination/vacation properties over city, business or convention hotels.

I’ve already started looking, somewhat passively, for this next move. It started because I took a guest complaint at my current job one day, resolved the issue for the guest, gave him my business card, and the next Monday I had a voice mail from the guest wanting to discuss a GM position with me. He was on the board for another local property that was looking for their next GM and was so impressed by his brief interaction with me that he wanted to see my resume. I got as far as the phone interview. Several weeks later I heard that the property had a new GM which was a bit crushing at the time. The entire scenario had gotten me excited to think I could skip straight off to a GM position from my current position. I knew at the time that it would be a giant leap forward, but the possibility provokes all sorts of dreams for me. I’ve since kept an eye out for other positions. My fiancée and I have discussed relocating to get out of the area that we both grew up in, so I’ve cast my net as far off as Seattle and San Diego at this point. I was briefly being considered for an Assistant GM job in San Diego, but such a massive relocation is somewhat of a deterrent to employers in this job market if they have enough local qualified candidates that can potentially start much sooner with less hassle. It’s still good practice at interviewing (just on the phone) and I feel like my resume is pretty well tuned too.

Beyond looking for my next job, it starts getting a little murkier when looking at the big picture of my career path. There are several options none of them necessarily being mutually exclusive to one another. I could theoretically go after one, two, or all three in some capacity.

I haven’t discussed this a lot here, but my family has a small Inn in the local area that my dad currently runs. My grandpa built and opened the place, and it’s always been a distinct possibility that I could succeed my dad when he’s ready to retire and be the 3rd generation Innkeeper. It’s not a sure thing because my family isn’t the sole owner of the property, but I think by the time that opportunity presents itself my resume and my family will make me a near shoe in. This possibility is fairly distant on the horizon (10 to 15 years) so I have to actively pursue other opportunities in the mean time.

My fiancée and I have already started discussing investment plans for the future, so that hopefully we can reach a point where we have sources of income other than our own labor. Right now the feeling is that we would like to own actual businesses instead of just investing in the stock market. One of the possibilities we’ve discussed is buying a small lodging property of our own, one that I could theoretically go and run if need be, but our first preference would be to hire management staff to handle day-to-day operations while we focus on other investments, our own jobs, or whatever. This is a little pie in the sky at the moment, as we need to develop some capital and likely other investments first, but I think could be a great plan for our long-term future. This could prove to be a really great asset if down the line I end up running my family’s lodging establishment as well, especially since it might allow us to invest in the family property and not just wait on what inheritance I might receive even further down the line.

Another possibility that I’ve been actively considering is developing my own business as a hired consultant for hotel development and management. We’re in the midst of rather hectic expansion plans at my current property, and after sitting in on a number of expansion planning meetings, I’ve realized that this could be a viable path for me. It’s a scary path though. It would at some point leave me being my own boss, which is nice. It would also mean less security and having to really develop my social networking skills and self marketing which I haven’t always been the best at. It could be really fun an exciting though. And to be realistic this could also become a pretty descent side business if I end up running my own property and/or take over at my family property. I know my dad has done some consulting for people and companies, and I could probably turn that into a nice little side business for myself. I like the idea of being able to go to a place and just focus in on particular issues or a particular problem, solve it or finish the project, and then move on to the next challenge.

It feels good to put all these thoughts out into the universe. My fiancée and I have discussed them all quite a bit. I don’t expect the universe to fulfill my hopes and dreams just by putting them out there, I know there’s a lot of hard work ahead. No one is going to make any of these things happen except me. I feel like the more I talk about it, and think about it, and work on it all though, the more likely I am to be prepared when an opportunity presents itself to move forward.

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New TV Show Review – Grimm

When I saw the trailers for “Grimm” earlier this fall I knew it pretty much looked like exactly my kind of show. They practically had me at “From the producers of Buffy and Angel” granted this isn’t a Joss show, but David Greenwalt was heavily involved in both shows along with a number of other series that I’m quite fond of. I’ve only recently started paying attention to the names of writers and producers of my favorite shows, but his was a name I recognized almost immediately. Add to all that, in its framework “Grimm” is a “police procedural” too, and who does police procedural better than NBC? Law & Order anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? And I swear if you say CSI or NCIS I will stab you in the face! I’m not very fond of those shows…

Anyways, I was a little bit surprised when the fiancée and I were skimming through our DVR and she asked me to stop on “Grimm”. She read the description of the pilot and said “That sounds interesting. Let’s watch that.” I was a bit incredulous to be honest. I’ve grown a pretty good sense for the shows of “mine” that she’ll enjoy and those she won’t. Knowing a bit more about this series then her, I was pretty sure she wouldn’t, but at the same time I really wanted to watch it. So I hit play and we were off to the races! End result, she didn’t like it, and I enjoy it quite a bit.

A Brief Synopsis: Set in present-day Portland Oregon, the series puts a new twist on the stories of the Brothers Grimm in which a homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt, learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters known as “Grimms”, who fight to keep humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world. Nick’s destiny is to protect every living soul from the sinister storybook characters that live side by side with the rest of us in the normal world. They live concealed by magic and practice, and only the Grimms can see through their camouflage. Not all of the creatures are bad though, some have left behind their monstrous heritage and have integrated with humanity. While others cling to their heritage and continue to pray on humanity. These creatures tell bedtime stories to their spawn of the Grimms where the Grimms are the monsters not them. Nick quickly learns that he has to weed out the good ones from the bad ones.

I wasn’t hooked from the very first instant, but by the end of the pilot I was pretty excited. There is the beginnings of what could be a mythology and back story just as rich and wonderful as Buffy tied together with really neat little re-imaginings of old fairy tales. The first two episodes relied heavily on fairy tales that we’re all familiar with, Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I know that Goldilocks isn’t a Grimm tale, but whatever, that’s not really important. The entire premise of the show is that all fairy tales are somehow grounded in the reality of this world. They’ve just been jumbled over the years, and humanity has forgotten the truth within them. My one point of concern as I write this post, is that Grimm will start to run out of fairy tales if all their going to do is re-imagine them in their setting. Those stories are going to have to become the little one-off stories that get folded into each season along with episodes that deal mostly with an over all arc and the show’s greater mythology. A lot like Buffy and Angel did quite successfully. I think if the corporate higher-ups and Network Execs don’t get in the way of their creative team that they’ll be able to do just that. We’ll see. I was fairly disappointed with several of NBC’s new shows last season, fortunately they were also rather ruthless in cutting the under performers. Grimm is kind of high concept for a major network though, and I hope they give it a chance, because after only 2 episodes I have more confidence in this show then I did after 2 episodes of The Cape last season.

Although thinking of The Cape does make me wish they had a Summer Glau or similar hotness on the cast of Grimm. They’re somewhat lacking in that department.And now I feel obliged to post an obligatory picture of Summer Glau looking amazing. Add someone like this to the cast and you just might seal the deal Grimm.

A little more of this please....

But maybe not Summer, her shows keep getting killed far too soon. No matter how good they are. I hear Yvonne Strahovski is going to be unemployed soon (I’m going to miss Chuck) maybe she can sign on? She’s already working for NBC too. Brilliant!

Just right....

Let’s face it sexy sells, and Grimm needs just a little more sexy on the screen. Joss always knew that one.

I’m not going to try to boil this show down into a numerical score or letter grade. I think it’s too soon to really do that. I would recommend this show to most people who are fans of shows with good writing, solid acting, and are willing to suspend their disbelief. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, especially the “urban fantasy” genre then I would highly recommend this show. If you’re a fan on The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, then give it a try. If those last 3 sentences didn’t really apply to you, then go ahead and skip it. I’ll keep tuning in, and my fingers are crossed that by the end of this season this show will be at the top of my must watch list.

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Gaming Withdrawals

I’ve talked about my weekly game night on this blog before. A short time ago it moved from Tuesday nights, where it had been quite comfortably for several years to Friday nights. Long story short with the combination of my work life, specifically closing shifts on Thursday and Saturday nights, and my home life, specifically actually enjoying spending time with my fiancée, Friday game nights just weren’t working for me. So it was with a heavy heart and a much reluctance that I called the regular DM and host, the nucleus of our table, and resigned my seat from the Friday night game. In the process I also let him know that I would come back in a heart beat if it moved back to Tuesday nights, I’ve quite specifically built my life around having Tuesday nights for gaming and have maintained a much more casual miscellaneous game night on Tuesdays since D&D moved to Fridays. Not only would I come back for a Tuesday game, but I would be willing to DM, because I know this man and bribery is often a successful tactic (there’s a reason why Munchkin has so many “Bribe the DM” cards). So they’re still playing Fridays at the moment, but I’m told there is active consideration for a Tuesday night game instead. There were real and valid reasons why the table moved from our successful Tuesday night slot to Fridays, so I get why it’s not an easy decision.

It’s left me thinking a lot about DMing though. The biggest problem being, that while I would be down for running a game, I don’t really want to run a classic D&D (4e) campaign. My preferences basically break down into these options (without much order to preference).

1. Gamma World – I’ve already talked extensively about my desire to run a Gamma World game on this blog so this shouldn’t come as any surprise. And really considering that it uses the existing 4th edition rules set, if I’m not going to run a classic D&D campaign this will be the option that I’m most likely to be able to sell the table on.

2. Dresden Files RPG – Now I’ve been wanting to run this game for a long time, and the people who are consistently present for my current Tuesday night miscellaneous game night might actually be willing to give it a try. Two of them are Dresden Files fans already and have expressed a little interest, and one of them has always been willing to experiment with new systems in the past. The downside is that it’s an entirely new system not at all based on D&D rules, that we would all be learning from scratch. As the GM I’ll be the one expected to know the rules system best (not just the setting). That’s never really been my strong suit at a DM, I’ve always had other people at the table to rely on to help with black-and-white rules decisions. So while I would love to tackle to story side of things, I find the prospect of mastering and helming an entirely foreign game system a bit daunting. Also my regular D&D players would be resistant to an entirely new system not based on D&D.

3. Super Hero RPG – This is probably mostly due to recently diving back into the comic book world. In high school we had a lot of fun with the Heroes Unlimited game system. I doubt I would try to use it again since it would be a foreign system to most of my table and they’re resistant to change. Since then I’ve even discovered a OGL (3.0 D&D) based system that would be much simpler then the Heroes Unlimited engine and more palatable to my regular D&D players since all of them played 3.0/3.5 back in the day. Once again, I think this would only really work with my smaller (and more open-minded) Miscellaneous Game Night group and not the larger D&D table. This and Dresden Files might be my first two choices though if the D&D group stays on Friday nights. The comic book and Dresden Files concepts work much better with a smaller table where attendance might be less reliable than our D&D group. D&D has a hard time working with less than 4 players in my opinion, but Dresden Files RPG and the Super Hero one would work just fine with 2 or 3 players, and throwing the occasional 4th in there when it comes up.

4. Dark Sun – This is basically 4e D&D but in a campaign setting I’ve found really interesting and have wanted to delve into since PAX Prime 2010. I probably have a greater chance of selling this to my D&D table then I do Gamma World. I also find it the least interesting of my options, but I would prefer to do that over a traditional D&D campaign.

Anyways, maybe this is all just gaming withdrawals. I just wasn’t enjoying D&D classic all that much before I left the table, but that also might have been because I was frustrated with the use of my time and wasn’t really willing to be at the table to begin with. Anyways, it all bears some more thought. I think it’s at least bringing up at my next Miscellaneous Tuesday game to see if they want to do something a bit more than just Munchkins, Bang!, and Zombies!!!

hotelnerd signing out

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I am the Key Master

It’s been quite awhile since I last blogged. Sorry about that. Just always seems like there’s something more pressing on my plate recently.

Things have been a little ho-hum at work. Well I guess that isn’t quite accurate. It’s been busy what with staffing issues making my department short-staffed, solid rushes of business and what not, and the expansion plans constantly being re-planned every 30 minutes. Most of it just hasn’t been all that worth mentioning, because for all the busyness, it has been fairly routine busyness. I will have to talk about Very Unsympathetic Cancer Lady at some point, but not now.

Plans for the wedding in January are taking shape. We’re so far behind on some things though! That’s going to start getting more and more stressful. I just want to be on the honeymoon already. Because the fiancée and I have such wildly different work schedules, I’ve used up most of my vacation time on little one and two-day things just so we can have a day off together. While those individual days have always been worth it, it bleeds away the vacation time without realizing that you’ve even used it. Now I have to save every vacation hour I accrue to be able to have the time to go on the honeymoon. That’ll be something like 11 days off work, which will just be a little mind-boggling. It’s hard to picture being away from that place for that much time.

Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES"!

One thing that I am excited about is that the original Ghostbusters movie is being screened in limited locations right now. One of the theaters near me is screening it tomorrow night and I was able to switch my shifts around to be able to go. This has always been one of my favorite movies since I was a little kid. By the way, my Dad and I watched that movie with my youngest sister a few years back (she was 5 at the time) and that movie is WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE for a 5-year-old! But that was how old I was when I started watching those movies! How weird is that to realize? Anyways, I’ll be going to see it tomorrow night. Likely by myself as the fiancée is totally uninterested and all my other friends are busy. Very lame. But considering the movie came out the year I was born, I never got to see it in theaters, so this is something I’m trying to make a priority.

Maybe it’ll recharge my batteries a little? Just feeling a little drained I guess.

Oh…is everyone watching The Walking Dead? If you’re not, you really should be! Because damn that show is amazing! Every minute of that show is just so damn intense. Waiting from week to week is almost as bad as waiting for Game of Thrones when it was on. And it just has this level of depth and realism that bleeds into the rest of my reality. I found myself driving down the road today, it was a beautiful clear blue sky California day, and I couldn’t help but picture rotting corpses shambling down the road. How weird is that? Should I be seeking help or something? Or should I just be taking gun and crossbow lessons? That seems like a far more valuable skill if I’m seeing undead walking down the street.

Meanwhile other shows about the sexier undead (stupid vampires) have been disappointing. I’m going to admit that I’ve been giving the Vampire Diaries a try, mostly because of Nina Dobrev.

I mean, I know the show is meant for chicks, but doesn’t Nina deserve at least a little consideration? The show has actually been a little interesting, but I usually find myself reading comics on my Xoom through about half of each episode. I guess it’s decent for something to have playing in the background because oddly I find the overall story line interesting enough, but on a scene by scene basis, it doesn’t always hold my attention.

It’s still been holding my attention better than True Blood though. I just have not been able to sink my teeth into the latest season. Pun intended. I don’t think it’s just because of the wild divergence from the source material I really don’t care much about that. But let’s face it, half of initial the selling point of that show was Anna Paquin getting naked.

Anna Paquin teasing us all

And since that’s stopped happening and her lovely nakedness hasn’t been significantly or satisfactorily replaced on a regular basis you start to realize that the show is just a little boring. The lesson of this story is that boobs make everything better.

Boobs make everything better. The more you know....

How weird is it that the rotting and disgusting and terrible undead are kicking the asses of the hot and sexy undead? I never would have seen it coming. You suck Vampires! I guess I don’t entirely pick my shows by the hot and sexy women that star in them. Even if it is a large contributing factor. It all still beats reality TV in my opinion. I’ll watch 20 Vampire diaries before I watch a single Real Housewives of Wherever.

As I’ve discussed before, I’m way behind on my comic book reading. I got through The House of M a while back. Started reading the New Avengers which took my straight into The Civil War which I’m in the midst of now. Hot damn that’s a comic event! Mostly worth it. There’s way to much talking and not enough super heroes fighting each other, at least when you’re reading the entire event in chronological order. I’ve had to start skipping some of the issues I really don’t care about. The Official Marvel Comics app finally came to the Android and specifically the Xoom, I’ve used it a little. I still think the entire structure of the digital comics market is fucked up. I can’t really get behind buying digital issues, even older ones at the $1.99 price point. And $3.99 for new releases what they hell are they smoking and where can I get some? I’ll admit that I’ve resorted to illegal downloads to feed my addiction for the most part. I know it’s not right, however, if I was going to be getting back into the hobby it would be by buying back issues from my local shop, not through digital copies. The publisher makes zero dollars on me buying back issues through a shop. I’ve thought of a much better model for them to work from because even a $0.99 price point would be too high for digital comics in my opinion. The collector in me just screams “You’re not getting anything when you buy digital! There’s no hard copy to stick in a box a bury in the closet!” The model that they should use for comics should be much more like Netflix. I should be able to pay a monthly subscription fee to have access to a library of older back issues, let’s say most of what they already have at the $1.99 price point. That way this online service won’t really cut into their monthly new releases terribly much. I would pay as much as $15/month (maybe even $25 depending on the exact specifics of the service), to have that sort of subscription access on my Xoom. I think a lot of collectors would, and I think that’s where the industry really should be heading. They’d get way more money from people like me then they are right now. The thing is I recognize that illegal downloads are wrong and that they hurt the industry that I draw entertainment from. I want creators and artists and the owners of IP to get paid. I really do. I just want the industry to adapt to the real world. My downloading of illegally torrented movies and TV shows has gone down to almost 0 as a direct result of Netflix’s streaming service. A similar comic book service would do the exact same thing for me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. And there might be entirely legitimate reasons why the industry hasn’t already gone this way, but mostly I bet it’s for the same reason that the movie industry is fighting Netflix. They don’t want to let go of this “golden system” that they don’t consider broken. Well from the consumer side it is. And the comic industry has it even better than the movie industry really. Their back catalog of issues don’t make them a lot of money right now, even with the current digital structure and the trade paperback market, at least I can’t imagine they do, not with comic shops, online retailers, and Ebay out there (and illegal sources). This seems like a much more secure way for them to turn their huge back catalog of comics into a profit generating resource. Because once one of them does it, the other publishers will too, and then it’ll be a race for each one to show who has the biggest offering of comics on their service.

Wow…I hadn’t meant to talk about this idea when I sat down. That happens a lot when I blog. Can you tell that I don’t really plan this shit out? Yeah, probably.

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