Monday, August 14, 2006

Damn The Doritos, Full Stevi-Ahead

I had orcs for you guys to fight
but I ate 'em
Another week. Seems like I was doing this just a couple of weeks ago. Waitaminute...

There's a part of my life I've not been talking about here, and that's my interest in role-playing games. The fact is, I've been playing D&D and other games of that stripe since the mid-80's, but this blog seems to be dedicated to (besides the joke that is my life) more, shall we say, cinematic pursuits.

Alright, I'll say it: I've been ignoring my RPG hobby in favor of my film/DVD collecting
.

There's a few reasons for this. For one, when I started this my head was more into my video pursuits because that's what I was doing. I felt my fellow film buddies would be the main audience, so that's what I was leaning towards. Another is that I wasn't gaming at the time I started TMJ. I was going through a looooong dry-spell due to my work schedule. Lastly, I just felt none of my homies over at the gaming boards would be interested in what I had to say if it wasn't RPG-oriented (something that may be partially true).

Well, that's gonna change.

While I'm not gonna drop film, DVDs or chit-chatting, I'm gonna talk more about my other pursuits, too. I hope this don't cheese-off some of my film-folk (all 1 1/2 of them), but rest assured it'll all be balanced out Fair and maybe balanced. :-)

I know, I know, you say "Smokestack - wha' hoppen? What's with the change?" Actually, it's not really a change, more like an addition.

Okay, in other news, I've established a Goal. Something I think is attainable. Something to give my damn life a bit of meaning - and have some fun along the way, by gum.

Okay, here's the deal: GenCon just finished up this last week and again I didn't go (what's GenCon you say - the first and grandaddy of all gamer conventions, that's all). While I've been to some rather big cons, I've never been to The Big One. I think it's time to change that.

This coincides with one of my funks, a rather serious one, where I don't feel like I have direction in my life. Oh yeah, I've survived lo these 49-50 years, but it's more like existing. I have a piddly-ass job and that's about it. Add to that I'm not in the best of health and my eating habits suck like a Hoover. Besides, I feel like crap.

After reading my RPG boards about what fun everyone had this year at GenCon, I really want to go. Then I find out next year is GenCon's 40th Anniversary. That was the straw that broke this gamer's back. I want to go. I want to have fun. Not just have fun, but I want to feel younger than my years. I want to really enjoy myself and there's no conceivable reason why I can't get off my tookus and make it happen.

It's time.

This is the day I commit. The resolution is as follows:I, Smokestack Jones (and my real-life alter-ego Glen Hallstrom) resolve to go to GenCon 40 in 1997 and when I arrive at said convention be at least fifty (50) pounds lighter than I am at this moment (I currently weigh in at about 320 lb.). I will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, be it regular exercise, good eating (including forgoing the regular ingestion of favorite foods) or any other means in the course of my normal life to achieve this goal. Furthermore, I resolve to maintain said lighter weight and healthier lifestyle until GenCon 2007 and as far beyond as I can manage it (preferably to the grave).

So there. It's up here so's all can see. It's another way to motivate me to do it. Besides, if I'm going to declare this to the whole of the Internet, it'll keep me from backsliding (in other words, you guys will keep me honest).

To achieve this goal, Becky and I will be sitting down this evening and outline some sort of battle-plan to make it happen (including drinking a lot more - shudder - WATER!) and make sure I don't go off half-cocked (there is the small issue of my high blood pressure and past CHF to consider). In addition, I'll be consulting my doctor. We're already going to be heading for the gym Wednesday, trying to get off to a good start.

I'm pumped for this. I've done it before in the short-term. Let's see how I do this time. I'll be posting my progress here. I'm hoping I can do more than 50 pounds.

Okay, sorry about the dramatics, but I feel that I have to shake myself up out of my complacency from time to time. In a way, it's kind of an oxy-moron. Who ever heard of a healthy gamer?

Oh well. More interesting stuff next time...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mainlining With A Laser Needle

He's a lot gutsier than I am
Well, after a deep funk followed by a head and chest cold that left me temporarily partially deaf, I'm back to pontificate. Haven't quite got over the illness (or my loss of hearing), but I got some industrial-strength prescription drugs on my side so let's see if I can work this lack of auditory stimuli to my advantage. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, blog on, you crazy diamond.

Among the recent purchases I've made is a book, The R. Crumb Handbook. Aside from a
mighty-lak-a-rose CD of Crumb music he's made with several bands over the years (which I am listening to while composing this) included with the tome, the book is a fascinating read on the life and times of (as he somewhat jokingly dubbed himself) America's Favorite Underground Cartoonist (Every Picture A Masterpiece!) and how he's adjusted living in this world he's stuck in.

One portion of this book that had intrigued me was how he has a compulsive need to collect old blues 78's (he has, arguably, one of the biggest private collections in the world). Between that, watching the Zigoff documentary Crumb and Harvey Pekar's American Splendor (another artist who feels compelled to collect, his drug of choice being jazz 78's), it got me thinking about my own collection of DVDs. While I don't begin to rival the core of DVD Verdict's members, it is a lot larger than the average layman's movies on disc assortment. Yet I always am on the lookout for more. I can now relate to the collecting bug. I insist it's a "hobby", as I do have a true love for film (I had about the same number of VHS tapes at one time, before that it was Super 8) and I do pride myself in my ability to find hard-to-find discs and/or getting something at a bargain, yet I wonder if there's ever gonna come the day where I'll say "enough is enough - I got all the film I'll ever want to watch, fer cripesakes!"

The thing that pushed it over the edge into Questioning Myself About This was when I started to think of my DVD collection as an "investment." Now before I started collecting DVDs I never had anything of real worth and when I started to collect I did so with one eye towards Handing Down The Collection To My Progeny (namely, my grandchildren). It's when I started tracking the collection on three different websites that it started to hit home that I had Something Of Value. I'd gleefully enter in my latest discs at DVD Spot, where you can (among other things) see what the MSRP Value of your collection vs. what you actually paid for those bits of plastic and shiny stuff. "lessee." I'd say to myself "hmmm...oh wow - my collection has jumped up $1500.00 in value! I'm hot taters now!"

And so it went, adding to the collection until last night, when I added my current haul and immediately checked the worth of the collection. That's when the Lil' Smokestack in my brain said "Oh Gawd! You're a speculator! You know, those guys that ruin any field of collecting they get their grubby paws into! Remember the Action Figure market? Good gravy, remember what they did to Magic: The Gathering? What are you thinking, man?"

Leave it to my lovely wife Becky to snap me back to reality. I asked her about it and she came back with "well, have you bought any movies you don't like?"
"Well," I stuttered, "I just sold a few I didn't care for anymore..."
"I mean ones that you didn't like when you bought them?"
"No, why would I do that?"
"Because," she went on in her infinite wisdom, "that's what speculators do. They don't care if they like what they buy, as long as it appreciates in value over time."
Boy, I love her. Once again, Becky performs the feat that makes her invaluable to me: telling me something I already know that I need to hear again. I gave her a big kiss and thanked her.

After we talked, I breathed a sigh of relief and went to look over my collection. I finally came to the conclusion that hobbies (the normal, legal kind) are just harmless, highly organized and motivated obsessions. If it floats yer boat and keeps you sane, that's good enough. I went to bed that night and before I drifted off, I realized that does my heart good to know that, in some corner of every person's life, they go a bit nuts over something.