So… I really put my nose to the metal pedal grindstone and got a lot accomplished this week.

For my disclosure on this or any of my posts or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.

First, I’d actually hit 500 followers on Twitter this week, which isn’t nothing… it’s a great start, in truth…

Anyway, because of that I’d done my best all last and this week to be Social with Media and engage more on Twitter and Facebook. Each day I tried to come at promoting the many angles of Blackspire Episode 13 a different way. One was showing how things had now oddly come full circle with Joe from the How We Roll Podcast.

Joe had originally reached out to me back in October of last year (see Preparing for Battlemats) asking permission to use my (ever lucky) Dunwich Horror painting as the artwork to promote their Call of Cthulu game arc Blackwater Creek. Little did he know that even back then I was working on my own actual-play podcast, but thanks to his interest, I took an interest in his show in return and usually manage still to periodically get caught up on the HWR feed now and again (though I don’t listen to nearly as many shows as I used to… or I’d like to for that matter…).

Still it was Joe’s humorous Mongrelman character in their Curse of Strahd arc coupled with a certain Ghoul of Leng (a recurring character in their various Call of Cthulhu games) that together inspired the Blackspire character of Stjepan Waite… who technically made his first appearance in Episode 6: Saying Hello on Window Hook Row arc, but who became much more intriguing (I think anyway) in Episode 13.

A Homecoming Paved in Ashes: Pt 2 (S01E13)

Anyway, Joe (who now kindly follows me back on Twitter) was kind enough to compliment the original Dunwich piece again so I let him know he’s welcome to use any of my other Lovecraftian art to promote his other shows…

I swear I don’t understand it, but again, there is some strange allure in this painting… it continues to outsell any other piece in my Redbubble portfolio… and Jenny’s suggested I make some more Cthulhu art since people seem to like this piece so much. I even had a customer ask me this week if I’d be making it available in wall tapestry size!

H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror”

Well, the old file I had of the piece wasn’t of a large enough resolution to support that, so I actually went ahead and rescanned the original painting (piecemeal mind you) and assembled it into a much cleaner (and way higher res) image.

So yes, this piece is now available as a wall tapestry, as well as a number of other formats. I probably need to sweep back through and see if there are any other formats on other pieces I should activate… probably work better left for when Mercury goes retrograde (starting tomorrow and lasting through early December).

But speaking of Redbubble formats… I couldn’t decide recently on a design to get printed on a new cast to protect my new iPhone… until Jenny suggested I get one with Ma’Alok printed on it. Of course! who better than the Reliquum god of War and Strategy to keep my information protected (on all levels). So I went ahead and ordered one for myself, arriving in just a few days and it’s worked out great!

Jenny says it’s “pretty metal”. That’s a compliment for sure.

She also suggested I try to get approved for the new Merch by Amazon service they’ve started up, which looks like their attempt to take a stab at what Redbubble, TeeSpring, and others are already doing. Still, not wanted to be negative (or resist a good idea) I went ahead and submitted myself for review.

Maybe it’s because I already have my Serial Artist book up on Kindle Direct Publishing, but inside of a week I was approved. Jenny seemed to think that was pretty fast (many take longer for approval) but we’ll see what ultimately comes of it.

Like most things associated with Amazon, their user interfaces are tricky (one might say problematically so). To start with, I’m limited to only ten items total (in the beginning anyway) and additionally I can only create t-shirts, hoodies, and the like… their specs are quite specific (and temperamental), and those parameters end up making certain artwork formatted exactly the way they want impossible (8×11, 300 dpi, and UNDER 25 megs… seriously?). I went ahead and created three shirt profiles… I’d wanted to do a Dunwich Horror one… but try as I might I just can’t get that image below 25mg…

So instead I did two pieces for Serial Artist (though honestly it’s probably a stretch), and the third I figured since Lovecraft is a bust I’d try my Hamlet: Special Edition piece I did for The Billionth Monkey.

Another fun discovery, not only are you limited to 10 items to start with, you can only post one for final review by the Amazon team at a time… so yeah, we’re waiting to hear on the Hope piece… so assuming it even gets accepted, it’ll likely be another week or more before I can even cap that ten item quota…

But I’m trying to keep a foot in both realms, and I slipped pretty hard into the spiritual as well, and got a large download of some really really cool ideas I’ll eventually implement on the Adventure Hook show (literally when the dice fall where they must) but I won’t say anything more than it’s yet another piece of predictive programming I can do to aid with the Disclosure movement.

I even felt led to do another I-Ching reading from Serial Artist, and landed on:

Hexagram 19: Lin (Approach) – Earth over Lake: When you place yourself in a position to help another, you will discover your greater capabilities.

Hmmm… not sure what this might mean to me, but I’m seeing a new layer of the I-Ching coming through in these panels, don’t you? I mean… I totally planned it all from the beginning… yeah?

I also decided to do a quick tweak to the Patreon site for Blackspire, and lowered the $50 tier to being $25. That’s still not a likely slot to fill just yet, and while I was hesitant that put a fan “on deck” to play in an new Blackspire game, that game still won’t “activate” until there’s a $100 supporter… and even as I wrote that sentence the idea occurred to me the game I could potentially run (as both education and service) as that Blackspire game could actually be that Disclosure idea I thought up for Adventure Hook…

Oooh boy… I’m seeing so many new ways all my work ties together… to say nothing of some crossover potential my day job might offer soon as well…

And oh yeah… I ran and recorded another Blackspire gaming session with the B.R.U.W. Crew over the weekend! And yeah, I think it went great. Jim thanked me for it later in the week, saying it was always fun to play in my game (even when not actually playing). Seeing how he’s actually (at least temporarily) left the Laughfinder podcast as of their October 29th episode, but wants to continue with our (albeit far less frequently meeting) show, I take it as high praise indeed.

Season 3 Episode 59 That’ll Do Pig, That’ll Do.

Since Jim’s departure the Laughfinder guys have asked me (on air anyway) to do a new Blackspire Studios miniature for Jim’s replacement PC. I will say I’m flattered NPR rock-god (and now Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist) Aaron Henkin (who I’d loooove to get ’round my table) remembered my name at the drop of a hat…

but

I will say I’m a little bit miffed they certainly remember to use the miniatures I did for them each session, but it’s actually been many, many months since they remembered to plug who actually did them… I mean, it was rare for Jim to remember to plug the Blackspire podcast, let alone the minis… and they’ve had other guests return to the show… and even had shows with no guest… the Blackspire tie-in for Jim (especially before leaving the show) seemed an obvious one to me… so yeah, maybe I kinda thought I’d get an invite back too… and now it seems too late…

…but not too late to ask me for more free work…

So, yeah… maybe I’m holding out for something… maybe I should just get over it, not hold it against the new guy (everyone deserves a miniature is what I told them originally) and paint the Mage Knight figure I’ve actually had gathering dust on my painting table for almost a year now, because the day I first saw it, I knew I’d need it for something someday…

Could this be the perfect miniature that Laughfinder needs?

But I’ve had other things needing my focus… namely like I said prepping for the Blackspire session we recorded. Not only did I come up with a huge list of scenes we’d need to do to bridge all the lost scenes from Episodes 18 and 19 (the recording of which I think went awesomely to this end, actually), but anticipating they’d want to go there this session, I actually drew out (and ink washed) and then covered with post-it notes the entire second floor of the “Dojo Honjo” of Golemoro’s Magnificent Mansion… I also ended up doing the second floors of the Residential and Service buildings as well, just to be safe…

I was in such a rush though, I forgot to take any works in progress pictures… (I’m still kinda bad at this whole blogging thing)… so best I can do I show some shots of the game in progress…

See where the cardboard is bowing slightly but is otherwise covered? That’s the 2nd floor of the Honjo (Castle) where BISHAMONTEN has finally found his quarters…

Not great, I know…

Still, not only did we end up with what should amount to enough material to edit together the gaps in Episodes 18 and 19, we also got enough to make it to Episode 22, plus the team gave me some great material to make some Intros, Outros, and other stuff I can use to open and end the upcoming shows I have to edit…

The major bit I needed, the Journal entry from Maelik Kileam to open Episode 15 we got in the can, and that gave me the final piece I needed to finish that episode up and get it prepped for release, which will be 11/26 for Patreon, 12/3 for iTunes, et al. I used only two Cryo Chamber albums in S1E15, but they work beautifully, as have all the others before as well…

But on that front, now that S1E15 is in the bag, I’ve bought myself a wider window through the end of the month to get onto other projects. I’ve felt the itch to get a move on the real-deal “meta-cut” edits for the To Baator and Back adventure Aaron and I did with the Red Moon guys. As luck would have it, I was already diving way back into the work when Mattiaz at RMR reached out just to touch base.

At that point I’d done the long legwork and broken up our three quite long sessions into seven really good hour and some change episodes that start and end on really great beats…

So great in fact, I’ve realized how to make the first and second parts of each of the four Player Character’s background write-ups serve as the way to open each of those seven episodes (including overlapping the Dante and Finott parts where that occurs in their origins). Right now it’s looking like if I open each episode with a different second part, then switch the first parts once those are all told, it’ll match up creatively/thematically with the beats of the story in (very) poignant way for what gets revealed that episodes.

Almost like I’d planned it all along… if only… I’m only truly planning it as of now…

However, this is necessitating a total re-write of all four parts (over 25 pages) to be read in the first person (so it’ll actually make sense for the listener). And since I’m rewriting stuff, I’m also taking this opportunity to tweak the backgrounds slightly… not changing in any way that would be “cheating”… but hopefully in ways that make the story make more sense given what actually played out… I’m making good progress, but I’m less tyhan halfway through it all, and I’ll have more to write once I start the actual edits…

I also want the guys to be able to add their own parts/spins on things, drop in a monologue to three, do so other intro/outro stuff for each of the seven episodes, and of course, credits/plugs for both Cryo Chamber and of course Beamdog who of course have graciously allowed us to use the remaster soundtrack to the (life-altering) Planescape: Torment video game.

And, perhaps against my usual preference, since iTunes is scheduled to be down from the 16th through the 26th, I decided to go ahead and release S1E14 a few days early, so it’ll be in the iTunes database prior to the shutdown…

So yeah, new episode! Yay!

A Homecoming Paved in Ashes: Pt 3 (S01E14)

And of course, on a sad note, we lost comic legend Stan Lee this week. I didn’t know the man myself, but I know many of my friends int eh comic industry did, and I;ve seen many touching tributes to the man, this week, but the one that struck the strongest chord with me was definitely this one by cartoonist Marshall Gamsey:

No automatic alt text available.

Some gamers/podcasters are saying we should all create a character in out games to honor Mr. Lee, and as I did do that for Gary Gygax in Blackspire the week he died, I think I’ll try to do something similar this time too… perhaps a Thing-like NPC in Jade Town called Stone Li…

Actually damn… as I write this I realize I already have that figure prepped for painting (also gathering dust these many months) too… he’d be a member of the Kusagari Yakuza… one I’d yet to name…

I imagined this guy more made of metal though… maybe someone like him… anyway…

Aaron and I also had another great recording session and managed to get Adventure Hook Episode 16 recorded. At the suggestion of our old gaming buddy Matt, we looked into using the template of the 5-Room Dungeon which RPG guru JohnnFour of roleplayingtips.com first made popular on 1d4chan.

I actually reached out to Johnn before we recorded, and he pointed out to me something I’d already noticed upon reading… that his template follows (a sliver anyway) the Hero’s Journey… which is of course a topic I’m not entirely unfamiliar with…

The Monomyth Game (Prototype)

So of course I did talk a bit about this on the show, as well as referring listeners to my Magick 101 lecture where I talk about the relationship I’d noticed between the Hero’s Journey and the progression of the Zodiac (which is of course the seed of the Tarot-based Monomyth mandala/game as well).

JohnnFour’s template proved to work quite well for our approach, and we crafted something that might be even a bit more solid (if not somewhat more basic) than our average episode.

I even felt the push to get the promo image for that episode mocked up, and used the awesome painting Triumph of the Genius of Destruction as the backbone of the image (I added the dracolich of course)…

Jenny hated the original font I’d chosen, and on retrospect I like this one much better… it’s easier to read in any case and hopefully should get folks interested when it releases (12/3 on Patreon, 12/10 in iTunes, et al.)

Hopefully the plugs for Johnn Four and his site raise the tide a bit for both of us… I’ve been on his mailing list for a few weeks now (since Matt’s suggestion) and he’s of like mind for sure…

But more big news this week, Aaron has arranged for the special guest who will join us for our Holiday episode of Adventure Hook which will be “Christmas With Cthulhu” and as I’d hinted last post we’ve decided to base on an H.P. Lovecraft Christmas poem Yule Horror:

There is snow on the ground,
  And the valleys are cold,
 And a midnight profound
  Blackly squats o’er the wold;
But a light on the hilltops half-seen hints of feastings unhallow’d and old.

 There is death in the clouds,
  There is fear in the night,
 For the dead in their shrouds
  Hail the sun’s turning flight,
And chant wild in the woods as they dance round a Yule-altar fungous and white.

 To no gale of earth’s kind
  Sways the forest of oak,
 Where the sick boughs entwin’d
  By mad mistletoes choke,
For these pow’rs are the pow’rs of the dark, from the graves of the lost Druid-folk.

 And mayst thou to such deeds
  Be an abbot and priest,
 Singing cannibal greeds
  At each devil-wrought feast,
And to all the incredulous world shewing dimly the sign of the beast.

And so excitedly Episode 17’s special guest will be Chris Lackey, who not only is the co-host of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, but he is also a comic author and gamer extraordinaire! And together we’re going to use that Lovecraft poem to craft a Call of Cthulhu like no other.

I’ve even pitched Aaron some cool ways we might promote it after we record, but more on that later as we decide what to do…

He an Aaron already know each other, so that’s a leg up as well. It should be another great show, especially if Chris helps us promote it any afterwards. For now, here’s a very tongue-in-cheek take on a classic Lovecraft story which Chris co-stared in.

That we plan to have all wrapped up by X-mas… pun intended…

And of course, on the spiritual front I feel entirely re-energized, and I’m certain it had to do with my participation in the various group meditations that occurred on 11/11. I’ll say no more at this point other than it ties to all the Disclosure stuff I’d hinted at, and much more.

I’ve come away with a stronger commitment, trying to be at least 51% light, but still thoroughly grey enough. My 3rd eye has been humming, my private ritual work is getting back to its “normal” state of “evolving” again, and I’ve even found myself led to practice my Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) twice daily now (at the 11:11’s of course) and even if I’m not in a place where I can easily do the full out performance, I’ll still recite my “nursery rhyme” version coupled with visualizing:

Yellow, red, blue, and green...

E'er the stars about me seen.

Uriel, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael,

Guard against all that would thwart my True Will.

I’d written this rhyme so that even a little prayer a child could say it at bedtime (not unlike the Black Paternoster) or whenever they get scared, need guidance, other otherwise “put their shields up” and it’d serve as a shorthand for the LBRP.

I’d shared this with Brother Enlil after his own daughter had come under magickal attack by some old acquaintances of ours that are best to remain unidentified… I’d also felt led this week to create this emblem (which I shared with him, and now with you) which of course illustrates the same LBRP configuration.

It’s rare to show a page from my magickal journal, and I know this is really just the seed of something more… probably something Temple of the Western Gate related, which I know I’ll probably get my ass kicked hard again if I keep putting that off… including the talk with Brother Enlil that concerns it…

Soon… soon… I promise…

But finally, I also wanted to do something nice for my wife that was creative, but also mundane… and cooking is always a good thing to try. We’d lucked out, and got a really great price on a pair of t-bones, as well as a huge haul of produce from Gather Baltimore (which is a great program that thankfully is back up and running). For $9 we walked with probably over 30 pounds of produce… all stuff that would have eventually been thrown away otherwise. Among the haul were almost a dozen huge russet potatoes that were just begging to be turned into Jenny’s favorite potato dish… fondant potatoes!

I use Chef John from Food Wishes‘s recipe, but tried to put my own spin on it…

I decided to brown all the sides, but then flip them once when they were halfway through cooking in the oven… you can see my step by steps below.

  

 

I think the flipping may have been a mistake, as that ended up undermining the crispy element I’d achieved in the browning all the sides initially, so next time I do them I’ll skip that part… but the flavor was bang on, and the steaks (while not my finest by far) were still serviceable…

So yeah… I know this is a longer than usual blog post… but even I have to admit this was a busy week…

I think I’ll let myself feel like I kicked its ass a bit!

And then get back to work.

 

Thursday 11/15/18-

Sun: Scorpio–

Moon: Aquarius (50% Waxing)

If you’d like to start from the “beginning” of all this… you can read from my first blog post.

For my disclosure on this or any of my posts or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.

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