Tag Archives: Rambling

Kleinstaaterei – NISA Joins the Mess

As is often the case German has the perfect word for any situation. Kleinstaaterei literally “small state -ery” is a great description of three things: Germany before Bismarck, the Balkans after 1992, and American soccer in 2017.

Today, as unveiled by Midfield ϕress, the giant goatsee-esque gaping hole in the American soccer “pyramid” might finally come to a close. For those not keeping up (and why would you?) the pyramid is currently very not pyramid-like as we currently have the MLS on top, both the NASL and the USL in tier two, noöne in tier three (because that fucking makes sense), and then PDL and NPSL in tier four.

(Detroit City is in that tier four clusterfuck.)

What is bringing this to a close? In an interview between Chris Kivlehan and Peter Wilt apparently it is NISA: the National Independent Soccer Association the USL to the NASL’s MLS.

Now, a large portion of the hype driving this, that pro/rel has finally reached America is cut down quick; Wilt is pretty straight-forward and honest that there is no agreement between NASL and NISA. He says (emphasis mine):

I presented the concept of the third division league to both the NASL and NPSL.  Both thought it was a great idea, and was needed.  The idea was a link league that would eventually lead to promotion and relegation.  Everyone agreed it was a great idea, but  the devil was in the details.

Over the next several months the focus became who would organize it and lead it, NASL or NPSL.  At the end of the day both said they needed to focus on their own leagues

This bit of honesty, when showmanship could’ve reigned, is one of the reasons I tend to let Mr. Wilt speak. It’d be easy to promise the sun and stars and deliver New Jersey, but expectations must be reasonable.

So what are those promises? Well, Peter continues by outlining four “pillars” of the league:

I. An affordable pro division national soccer league with regional based competition

II. An independent league with team owners controlling their markets and intellectual property

III. Our intention to incorporate promotion and relegation once the league is fully populated with 24 teams

IV. Have a strong league office with quality staff supplemented by expert consultants

I’m going to break this down from my perspective. One and two say “we’re going to mix the NASL with the NPSL” – regional with low travel costs and independent teams, no franchises here.

The first problem I see, though, is immediately followed by number three: twenty-four teams? But that’s a fourth what the NPSL boasts and about the same as the MLS. It’s also twice the current NASL roster of teams.

How is one supposed to be regional when there are so few teams? Or is the plan to have two divisions? “No” says Wilt. One. One division of eight to ten teams in 2018.

Ooookay.

However, Wilt continues, this will break into two conferences as the goal of twenty-four teams is reached.

I’m ignoring that other part for now.

Lastly, that fourth pillar is just saying to investors “we learned from the NASL blowup at the end of last season and we’re going to move forward smarter”.

Whether or not that is true has yet to be seen, but acknowledging that you have a problem is always the first step to fixing it.

Next few sections are business talk I’m not smart enough to understand.

Flip flip flip.

Wilt brings up an interesting point, which I will use to jump off to that discussion a bit earlier than planned (emphasis mine):

There is the potential that NISA could fully populate at 24 teams before NASL can populate to its goal of 20 teams.  So NISA can work as an incubator of sorts for the NASL, at first, before promotion and relegation.  A team could play for 2 or 3 years in NISA, then join NASL via expansion.  This would allow those teams to get their feet under them from a business standpoint.  They can build their fan base and revenue model while operating at a lower budget.

Well isn’t that a whole lot of common sense, but it still (wisely) skirts around the whole pro/rel issue – which I guess is the point.

I’d like to think that every team in NISA will have the ambition to either buy their way up or earn their way up through a promotion and relegation meritocracy.  Our ambition is to grow the sport.  We want to promote teams to the higher division, and eventually do that in a merit-based way in an open system, which is obviously another contrast to USL.

So the plan seems to be a sort of hybrid system, which makes sense in a round-about way. NISA will probably still be operating without paid players, hoping to maintain the ability to tap into the NCAA’s player base.

Or maybe they’re not.

A longer season might make this harder. Ten teams means eighteen home/away games. Currently DCFC plays fourteen with a pretty packed schedule that relies on favorable geography.

Will the longer season mean fewer NCAA players? Probably. In the past DCFC had issues keeping players from certain schools on board all season because they’d get called back early.

And college players travel notoriously poorly – primarily because they don’t travel so they can work a part-time job. Low-tier soccer in the US doesn’t pay. And without TV deals it probably never will improve too much. That’s what makes MLS squads so much stronger than even NASL or USL squads – there’s a huge cliff between them, a cliff bridged with money from sponsors who want national exposure on TV, not just some YouTuber’s stream.

In the end I think that will be the largest hurdle between NPSL and NISA, but not as big as a hurdle between NISA and NASL. You can’t really be semi-pro, because the NCAA basically dictates that you either pay everyone (and get no NCAA players) or pay no one (and get no professionals).

Now there is some grey room – but it is limited to those willing to essentially work two jobs to play soccer.

I’m going to move this entirely into the realm of my personal thoughts, because the interview, while well-written, starts to get into business stuff pretty quick and I want to just think aloud rather than regurgitate.

I am not convinced by this. I’m just not. If Detroit moves into this league, and given hints from Sarge on twitter, it seems likely, I am worried. I am worried about my club being dragged down by the weight of another ASL. Remember ASL? No? Well they were a thing and they were essentially dead on arrival.

On the flip side I trust Peter Wilt more than most people.

On the flip flip side, USL is also getting ready to launch its own tier three division. There are pros and cons – USL has the “B” squads and affiliate squads that can help bolster their second division in the rough early waters; however that can also stagnate interest in the league from outsiders. It also means that the USL will be running two leagues while the NASL and NISA operate independently, meaning each can focus on their own interests while only paying respect to the other.

Whether they are “relegated” is not my concern. Boot them before they drag the league under.

That sort of decentralization might be healthy and give NISA a good advantage.

I also think that NISA and Peter will attract some interesting teams that will help the league in those early water days with good, strong attendances.

Another issue, though, is that I can’t think of that many teams to make this worth-while. NISA needs to be willing to cut the chaff and not give fledgling teams enough time to sink the entire league. If a team is floundering they need to be kicked out, period. Whether they are “relegated” is not my concern. Boot them before they drag the league under.

This also means that this war between the independent leagues and the franchise leagues has no end. And the hill that seems to be the one NISA/NASL/Peter are willing to die on is this idea of pro/rel. I think, in the end, pro/rel is a marketing ploy – a tag line for the articles to employ to get more clicks. Whether in five years or ten, whether between two leagues or three, I don’t give a fuck about pro/rel as a hill to die on.

Would it be fantastic to have? Yes.

Is it worth losing DCFC for? No.

When is the league healthy enough for pro/rel? When all the sides are pro.

When will that happen? If the NPSL is involved? Never. Without the NPSL? By 2030.

In the end I don’t think pro/rel is here, I think there are ten teams taking a massive risk and I really, really hope it works out for their sake.

And where does this leave DCFC?

I still don’t think MLS will really come.

As always, we are linked to every expansion announcement since 2013 so let’s think this out.

Currently there is a push for “MLS to Detroit” from a couple billionaires. I doubt strongly they are going to actually move DCFC either because they want total branding control or because the owners will stick to their guns before selling out. Or really – both those things.

So that means a tier three DCFC potentially up against a tier one MLS team. Can Detroit support both?

I say “maybe leaning on yes?”

I still don’t think MLS will really come. I think that when Gilbert/Gores don’t get their stadium land, it’ll mostly fall through. And Gores’ recent(-ish) comment on not even wanting another team probably doesn’t sit well with Garber, who will want strong, united owners.

Moreover Garber probably wants to avoid adding a second Miami FC to the mix – with MLS Miami still looking for land on which to build a stadium, the last thing they need is two teams sitting around waiting for property. Or to finally get Miami into the queue only to refill the waiting spot.

I think Garber will aim for “easy” expansion (his comments about St. Louis reflect this) and no messy, political ones.

I think, in the end, Detroit City is moving to tier three and the city is going to remain a one-team-town.

So? Who are the other nine? Here are the ten teams I think will inaugurate Peter Wilt’s NISA (based on twitter rumor, speculation, and bullshit alone):

  1. Detroit City FC
  2. AFC Cleveland
  3. Chattanooga FC
  4. FC Buffalo
  5. A Chicago-based team
  6. An NYC-based team
  7. A Florida-based team
  8. A Mid-Atlantic-based team
  9. A Deep South-based team
  10. A Missouri-based team

Sorry that lacks any form of specificity. Cheers, everyone.

Kits and Writing.

So I got some updates for the site we’re going to skip the “it’s been a whi-” and just move on.

A lot has gone down since the last update, including getting a fancy new position at Ford which I am greatly enjoying. That has made things a bit hectic but the last few weeks have gone by lightning-quick. I am really loving it.

I’ve also made the decision to work more on professionalizing my portfolio of soccer kits. Will it lead to a profession switch? Unlikely. Could I potentially make a few bucks off it? Maybe. Honestly, I’d love to see some of my designs become real. That would be absolutely fantastic.

If you read my twitter feed, which I don’t necessarily recommend Mum, I often post stuff while working including some snapshots of a big on-going project I’ve started.

What is this project; you ask.

Well, I am doing a big world building project set in the same world as my novels. It’s a big world cup write up, and it’ll have news articles, team profiles, stadium profiles, potentially player profiles, and a whole boat load of kits. At least 96 of them: home and away for 48 teams.

I’ve already got 48 crests made, though I am not 100% happy with all of them. They were quickly thrown together with stock heraldry images from Wikimedia. Already I have about 18 kits finished, so I have quite a bit of work to do. And that’s okay, I’m planning on this taking most of the summer.

It’ll be fun and I’ll make sure to have a page to showcase it. Not sure how, but I got some ideas. I hope that everyone else will enjoy it half as much as I have so far.

There’s a lot to post and explore so I’ll only have a few slices here.

Done on a whim for Paradox Interactive (not popular with the studio manager, Johan):

A little idea for Bristol Rovers FC:

And of course Detroit City FC:

Another quick mock-up for a friend:

If you have any ideas or criticism, reach out on twitter. Currently I take requests on an impulse-based sort method. Not sure how long that’ll last, though. As the Detroit City season quickly approaches, my free time will soon dissolve to nothing.

On the flip side some news regarding my writing. I have finished the rewrites of book 2, finally! It has grown by about 10,000 words to 137,000. I think the pacing has been improved and I’m happy with it in general. It’ll definitely need a final smoothing that’ll come once I get the drafts for books 3 and 4 done, which I am going to start in about ten~fifteen minutes when I am done here!

I’m pretty much actually being productive, which is great. It feels great to be getting so much done.

Of course, as I write this, it is a quarter to eight and I’ve been trying to get this done since before four… then I got distracted with the Bristol kits.

So I am going to sign off and get back to writing. I got a long way to the expected 175,000 words of book 3.

Cheers, everyone.

Bbvvggvgvgv

So over the last two decades I’ve had to come to the slow realization that not everything might be right in my head. I am guessing those of you who exist outside of my brain have had an easier, less painful time coming to that conclusion.

There’s a particular tick in my brain that makes a lot of things hard on me, namely the inability or dogged unwillingness to divide the rhetorical from the literal.

When presented a question, conundrum, or thought experiment – even when I know it’s rhetorical, when no answer is needed or even desired – I am compelled to answer it. Compelled. As in it often mentally hurts to not answer it, so often times I just answer it because it is easier.

Easy for them to ignore.

Easier for me to then leave it in the past.

It’s not necessarily something I want to do, but I do enjoy it in that way that one enjoys indulging a crave or an addiction.  Sometimes it very much is something I want to do, want to dive into, want to think about, because it satisfies my need to think creatively and to solve problems, no matter how ridiculous.

Here’s an example.

How does one pronounce “Bbvvggvgvgv”?

Well, there’s lots of ways to deal with this. I’ve talked about conlanging quite a bit on this site so you know we have countless options on what we can do.

We can, of course, read it off like a terrible acronym. Bee-bee-vee-vee-gee-gee-vee-gee-vee-gee-vee [bi.bi.vi.vi.gi.gi.vi.gi.vi.gi.vi].

We could invert that for some silliness [ib.ib.iv.iv.ig.ig.iv.ig.iv.ig.iv].

We could try to mix up the vowels a bit in either case, but the fun begins when you ask yourself “what does ‘b’ stand for?” What does b stand for? In English it’s almost always /b/ or some variant of it. Sometimes it is silent. But it’s not like it’ll ever be /t/.

Another question we can ask is “Are there diglyphs here?” Like ‘th’ or ‘sh’ not every letter is one letter, sometimes it is two. Is ‘bb’ a glyph? What about ‘vg’? Could that be a glyph? What sound could it be? What sounds are available? I mean, there are so many more sounds available to human language than just the ones English uses. From the Parisian “guttural R” to the lateral, dental, and alveolar clicks of isiZulu; there are significantly more sounds than one might expect.

So let’s go crazy.

My first assumption, is that without vowels, bbvvggvgvgv is written in such a way that the vowels are implied, potentially in such a way to create harmony or just that they are assigned in consonant+vowel pairs.

Regardless we aren’t given much to work with so in the end we can have a bit of fun with it, right?

I divided it out like this: bb-vv-gg-vg-vg-v. My initial thinking was that the repeated b’s, v’s, and g’s could either be repeated syllables or a diglyph. In all cases I went with diglyphs. In fact, I went so far as to also make ‘vg’ a diglyph because why the fuck not? This took a rather long word and make it much more manageable.

BB was pretty easy for me, I made it /ʙɑ/. /ʙ/ is a bilabial trill, which means you’re trilling the /b/-sound. It’s certainly a fun sound to produce (it’s like a kid making engine noises by forcing extra air through closed lips and making the /b/-sound). I chose /ɑ/ (like hot) because it was easier for me to make the transition from trill to back vowel and gave the word a darker, rumblier feel.

VV was a tad harder. There isn’t a trilled /v/-sound, but there is the flapped /ⱱ/. Flapping and tapping are when one articulator (in the case of /ⱱ/, the lower lip) is forced momentarily against the other (the upper teeth in this case). These articulators are the same for /v/, but they are held together until the vowel takes over. In /ⱱ/ this contact is momentary.

I then decided that vvgg was going to be a single syllable, so for gg I wanted a nice stop sound. Stops are sounds that require the complete stoppage of air and then the release of that air, like /k/, /g/, /t/, and /d/. For gg I went with /ɢ/ but as a rule for this non-existent language, at the end of a syllable it devoices to /q/. To bridge the two I went with /ɪ/, a tried-and-true vowel if there ever was one. This is the vowel sound in “bit”.

So we’ve gotten /ʙɑ.ⱱɪq/ so far.

VG. That’s an interesting sound for sure. Vuhguh. Vuhg, Vg. Weird. Doesn’t really sound like it’d work as a bi-articulated sound the way /k/ and /s/ go nicely into the /ks/ sound in “six”. But what if there was a sound that sort of encapsulated both? V- implies a non-silibant fricative (like /v/) and -G implies a uvular sound… Luckily there are two uvular fricative sounds, one voiced and one voiceless (/χ/ and /ʁ/ respectively).  if VG is at the beginning of a syllable it must be voiced, if it is at the end it must be voiceless (as per the rules above). So it’s either /Vχ/ or /ʁV/ or potentially /ʁVχ/.

But… just maybe… it’s actually articulated in such a way that it becomes its own vowel… sneaky sneak. There’s a symbol for this: /ᵊ/ which basically means “releases on an unstressed vowel”. This is basically how anyone says a consonant when trying to isolate it from anything else. You need a vowel in some form (or a demi-vowel but we’re getting distracted).

So we’re at /ʙɑ.ⱱɪq.ʁᵊ.ʁᵊ/. Looking nice and weird.

For the final v in bbvvggvgvgv I’m going to go old school.  It’s /v/, but in this mystery language, the last syllable is devoiced and must carry the secondary stress of the word. So that makes it /f/. And for a vowel? I went with /i/ (the vowel in see).

We need stress so, my pattern is second syllable is primary and the last syllable is secondary in words with four or more syllables. That gives us: /ʙɑˈⱱɪq.ʁᵊ.ʁᵊˌfi/ and smoothing it out a bit, let’s call it [ʙəˈⱱɪ:q.ʁə.ʁᵊˌfi:].

There you go. BBvvggvgvgv is pronounced [ʙəˈⱱɪ:q.ʁə.ʁᵊˌfi:].

Cheers, everyone.

Mid-Break Editing Updates!

Subtitle: Because I know you care so much!

Happy holidays everyone who’s on today. I hope that between the dour weather, the sour political climate, and the ever increasing pressure to consume beyond your means you’ve found those things that make the season and life itself worth fighting for. Whether its family, projects, charity, art, or a pint of ale with nachos in front of the TV watching the Lions.

It is in these fleeting breaks between the so-called real-world and the world that is real to us that we must try to find our strength of character.

I have, as promised, been extremely busy this holiday. Extremely. Between the car, the house, and general adultships I have spent a great deal of time working on my novels, as I said I would just last update. I even had time to work on some kit ideas, going so far as to even consider doing some kits for my second-world fantasy series. We’ll see if that comes to light, though without logos I doubt it.

So I had a laundry list going into this break:

Finish reread of Book Two and with the first readers’ ideas considered, take copious notes for rewriting the book. 

I got this done, actually, the day before the break “officially” started. I wrote over ten thousand words on the matter, making it about the length of two or three short stories. This was the first time I had tried something like this and I think it was invaluable. I will certainly consider doing it again, though I am not sure if I’ll be as uncertain about the next two manuscripts as I have been about this one.

Book Two suffers heavily from “middle book” syndrome, though I guess it technically suffers from also being the beginning of a story.

See, like the Hobbit was a stand-alone story, its sequel (Fellowship of the Ring) was itself the first book in a longer arc, it can be awkward to shift from a complete story to one that is just the first bit in a long, long arc. While it is not my first time balancing short arcs within a longer arc, I cannot say I have had a ton of practice at it either.

Sun-King Reread and Touch Ups.

I also got through all of Sun-King its reread and touch up and while it did not take a ton of work, there were some rougher spots and a couple larger rewrites. I wouldn’t be surprised if one more is necessary, but that’ll come later. It took five days to do the reread and only meant adding 133 words, which is good because I wanted the length impact to be negligible. Now, a single number doesn’t do it justice. On my busiest day I went from -300 that day to +300 after some cuts to exposition in one place and inserting a new scene elsewhere. Most of the changes happened around the middle.

Not much to say other than I still enjoy reading Sun-King after three years and

Book Two Rewrites.

So there are a lot of notes, as I previously mentioned, and a lot of work to do. The way I do rewrites is to open a new document for the manuscript, put that on one screen, and then open up my notes and the original manuscript on the other.

Then I begin rereading, comparing the notes to what I am reading. If it’s okay, it gets copy pasted into the new doc. If it needs fixing, it gets fixed. If it needs cutting or if it just doesn’t work, I don’t copy it over.

Slowly and steadily the manuscript is rebuilt. Since I don’t retype what works the word count can shoot up extremely quickly. When I have stuff to write, either for the first time or as a rewrite, it can slow down. This way I can get ten thousand words “written” in a day based purely off word-count. Obviously I don’t write that fast. Though yesterday I did get 1,800 words actually written while watching LotR which may or may not have been a good idea.

I needed to add a whole chapter to the very front end of Book Two as part of the rewrites. This serves to get one of the inciting incidents of the three arcs in book three closer to the front then where it sits in the current draft.

All in all, I expect this process to take far longer than the break, probably a month or two at least. After that’s done I can head into writing the first draft of Books Three and Four, which I plan to do in one fell swoop, though I might stop to write a more detailed set of plotting notes for Book Four during that period.

I might also begin work on covers sooner than later.

Anyway, this is retreading older material and I am starting to get rather hungry.

Cheers, everyone.

The Unnamed Series – Updates, Ideas, Schedules, And So On…

Okay, so a few people recently have asked to be added to a small but growing list of people interested in reading my books as soon as possible.

First, let me just say that that is just fucking awesome, and I am greatly, greatly appreciative. It’s really cool that without having published a single word, people are interested. So thank you guys. Your interest and kind words a definitely a part of what keeps me trucking.

So let’s talk about where my four books are currently:

 

Sun-King

Sun-King is currently the only book that has been finished and is completely “set to go” from a writer’s standpoint. However from a publisher’s perspective it has a long way to go. It has no cover. There are some tweaks it needs to align it more closely with my current vision of the series, which has shifted slightly after certain events in American politics.

What’s that you say? Politics in a fantasy? Crazy, right? Actually not really. Art and politics are connected like conjoined twins.

Anyway, the tweaks shouldn’t be major and only take a few weeks to complete and get smoothed over. Once that is done? Well, that starts to get complicated so we’ll come back to that.

 

Unnamed Book Two

Book Two has gone to first readers and was first read. They were extremely helpful and I really appreciate the work they put into it. Were you hoping to get into that action? I’m sorry I didn’t extend that out to more people. I’ve gotten much better first reader responses from randos than from friends and family. My first drafts are usually somewhere between “written in feces on a bathroom stall” and “fanfic.net” in quality. They rarely make it out the door. My “rough draft” of Book Two was actually a second draft of a third attempt at writing it.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration…

But they are really, really rough. That’s because I usually write with only the barest outline and so I drop a lot of lines to see what sort of fish bite. I introduce a lot of plot hooks and a lot of characters to see how they all interact and how they make me feel. Then in later passes I will cut these down, expand others, and adjust as needed. Between drafts three and four of Sun-King I literally cut an entire main character, which was not easy.

Book Two is probably going to be the focus of my break, it’ll undergo some very big revisions. Right now I am looking at a net addition of two chapters though I’ve only got notes for about half of the book. I expect/want to finish that up before my break starts. Lots of minor characters cut, plot hooks cut, and hopefully draft three will be good enough for a second set of first readers, so stay prepared.

 

Night-Queen

Night-Queen is just a very, very long plot draft right now. It’s about 16,000 words long and is just a paragraph or two per chapter (I literally have a document called “fixing it all”). As it stands I predict it’ll be about 74 chapters and roughly 160,000 words long. For comparison, Sun-King is about 118,000 and Book Two is roughly 127,000 which I expect to swell to roughly 132,000 (from 127,000) by the end.

When I actually get around to writing book three, which will be sooner than later, I expect the process to be a bit faster than usual because it’ll be much more plotted out than my previous works when I’ve started them. But I don’t want to throw out any dates right now.

 

Unnamed Book Four

So Book Four is currently just a 2,500 word plot synopsis that needs to grow into a full 15,000 worder like Night-Queen. I expect, as of now, for this to be closer in length to Book Two. This’ll wrap things up for this story and these characters, but I do have more planned in this world, which I plan to explore at different time-frames and with different characters. But that’s not really for now. As of now, Book Four has had the least amount of thought put into it and that is a tad scary because I need a goal to aim for as I continue to put words down into word docs.

After revisions are finished with the first two books, I will consider finishing the plotting for Book Four before even touching Night-Queen. Not sure.

 

Publishing Side

The other issue, which I touched on briefly above, is the whole publishing side of things. Covers. Formatting for print, kindle, nook, kobo… there’s a lot to be done and I’ve got a lot to learn. I also need to set up an actual publisher webpage that doesn’t just redirect here, set up some preview copies to get some reviews in early to help release-day traffic. I need to get a twitter set up and tweeting my book and writing related news in such a way that it doesn’t pester the uninterested but is easy to find for the interested. I’ll still talk about writing here and on my personal twitter, but expect most business stuff to come from my business twitter once that gets set up.

So if you’re one of those people excited to read my book(s) this is where you’ll be the most helpful – reviews = standing, standing = sales, sales = my ego.

I’m only partially kidding there.

So there is a lot to do. A lot. And I only know how to do some of it. I’m excited to learn, though. I’m excited to get these out to you guys.

So let’s end on a mixed note. They say that telling people your goals is counter-productive. You assume that they’ll hold you to it, but that isn’t true. Instead you get the same mental release as completing it, but you haven’t completed it. And it isn’t anyone’s job but my own to get all this finished. That’s the downer.

The upper is that I think I have a schedule, in my head, and it is doable. The part I am willing to share is that once the first book is out, I’ll be releasing them in an orderly fashion every six months. The hard part is releasing Sun-King, which is contingent on the other books being nearly wrapped up. My gut says to publish it I need Book Four to be in a second draft phase.

We’ll see.

Anyway, this is a lot of time spent writing here and not in my books.

Cheers, everyone.

Mid-Autumn Review

Got a bit of time before an afternoon appointment ends up sinking a good chunk of our afternoon so I thought I’d get a rambly life review post out of the way. This is going to shift topics pretty quick so try to keep up.

Wine

After a half-year hiatus due to the move, our wine bucket is full again this time with a straight pomegranate wine. Right now the smell is amazing and fermentation is roaring ahead. I’m looking forward to the finished product.

In a week or two, we’ll get a second batch going: this time of raspberry wine. That too should be amazing.

And once winter sinks in, we’ll look at upgrading our wine cellar with some stone work and some decent racks and perhaps even a wine cooler.  We’re probably looking at doing it ourselves so expect a full how I managed it post at some point.

The House

We’re settling into the house quickly. We’ve already done a lot of work and we’re looking at getting the roof fixed first thing is spring. We also looked into either doing siding or remodeling the bathroom, but those ended up falling out of our price range. Too bad, both of those things can seriously go with an overhaul.

We’ve almost entirely unpacked as well, notable exceptions are bags of stuffed animals in the bedroom as well as organizing our clothes. Plus there is a giant tupperware  container in our office plus a box that needs to find a home. The office is now fully equipped for coffee production, freeing up much needed space in the kitchen (an issue that came very much to light when depipping ten pounds of pomegranates.

Otherwise we’re settled and extremely comfortable. The benefits of living so much closer to work and friends has already paid off, plus the reduced cost from the mortgage every month is helping as well. Walking is way, way up thanks to the myriad of stores and restaurants near-by, and we’ve signed up for fencing classes, our first since uni, so hopefully I can burn this damn beer gut away.

Writing

Been getting a lot done on the writing front, even if I haven’t been talking about it.

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo, so don’t expect word counts. I do plan to get some editing done, but there may or may not be some huge overhauls in my plans for the coming year/year and a half.

Brigid and I have been talking timing and publish for my four novels, which will either fall under her pre-existing company or more likely my own that I will set up when the time comes. The current plan is a release schedule something like this:

Sun-King: Q2 2018
Book 2: Q4 2018
Night Queen: Q2 2019
Book 4: Q4 2019

None of that is cemented, in fact I think it is safe to say the release schedule will likely get pushed back even further.

Why?

Well I’m a slow writer, mostly. I wanted book 3 (Night Queen) to at least be written (first draft) before I pull the trigger on publishing Sun-King. But Brigid very honestly pointed out that at the rate I write, I might want book 4 (is it strange I have the most trouble coming up with titles for the even numbers?) in the first draft stage and book 3 essentially wrapped up from the writing perspective.

I might plot out and write books 3 and 4 here in the next year – one giant binge of writing. Then I’ll have a first reader or two go through all four books and realign the consistency of the tone and action. That way I don’t have to keep going back to Sun-King when I make adjustments in Night Queen’s plotting.

It’s a lot of work, and the encouragement I get from you guys is, and always has been, great.

So thank you very much.

Kit Nerd

I’ve still been kit-nerding it up lately, messing around with sponsors and even going as far as to look beyond my normal front sponsors, manufacturer, and experimenting with a bit of color.

puma_strohs

A clean-ish rouge kit sticking on the piping theme from the official kit nerd post. In this series I went with Stroh’s as the official sponsor, following the tradition of teams like Liverpool and Newcastle who proudly wore their favorite session beers on the front of the logo. With this particular kit the dark red above the black collar isn’t the back of the shirt – it’s actually an inset of the front, so the collar is a rather traditional cut while also giving the effect of wearing an undershirt even when you’re not.

puma_strohs_plain_w_gold puma_strohs_plain_w_gold_bired

A bit of a cleaner design, in my opinion. A minimal amount of gold breaks up an otherwise plain rouge kit (top) or divides the rouge from a darker shade (bottom). I like that the Puma and DCFC logos follow the swoop, gives it a more balanced effect then when used above. I like them both quite a lot, with perhaps a slight preference to the plain one on top. The Stroh’s logo ads a lot of colors but if done right (and DCFC has been doing their sponsors right – with transparencies instead of giant bounding boxes) it still looks good. In fact the red and gold in the logo are really great with the rest of the get up.

puma_strohs_plain_w_blue puma_strohs_plain_w_blue_bired

Now on twitter I mentioned these would probably be a bit controversial (though that has so-far proven untrue). Instead of gold accents, I went with the blue from the Stroh’s logo, something unheard of for DCFC. I want to go on record saying I prefer the gold more and that I don’t actually want to see blue added to our kits, but it was a fun little experiment which I think looks good. In this case, though, I think the Rouge – Blue – Dark Rouge works better (instead of the plain one as was the case above). Maybe the blue stands out better with the defined line between the reds and isn’t lost as much.

Anyway, that is a life update. Cheers everyone.

Thoughts on Moderating

Banned someone the other day.

I do it quite often, actually, and though it seems almost petty to think about, I often remove someone’s ability to see a whole website more often than most people. I talk about moderating on and off, mostly because I am behind an NDA and get too much into details like the system we use or who gets what.

The identity of the guilty is generally a private thing, known only to those involved.

That’s okay, I prefer it that way. I prefer that no one has to know. At least once I’ve infracted someone I knew IRL without knowing it at the time.

At least once someone used my website to reach out to me to protest a ban.

If you are reading this and contemplating the same, I’ll save you some time – don’t. Just… just don’t.

Moderating is an interesting profession, all things considered. It certainly gives you an insight to human psychology that I think would even make most retail people blush. Sometimes someone gets back to you with such pure, unadulterated hate that even after more than a decade of life on the internet I pause and read it a second time to see if I got it the first.

I am digging through 117 pages of 25 PM threads each right now for a gem I hold closely.

“No one cares you stupid faggot. Kill yourself.”

What did I do or say to get this? I reminded him that the rules require users to bring up issues with the staff privately.

Over the years I’ve been told to suck a lot of dicks. Been called the n-word more times than I am comfortable with. “Faggot” is a popular one. Often users will offer to rape my significant other or allude that they’ll rape me. Few guess that I am married so they usually refer to a “girl friend”.

Racism and homophobia play key roles in the insults thrown at me, though a large portion of our user base (and certainly the more… colorful segments) are from eastern Europe where it seems those two are go-tos for insulting the powers that be.

A lot of people, a lot, reach for the “freeze peach” card. To them free speech is some universally guaranteed commandment over all other rights. It supersedes property. It supersedes national boundaries. It supersedes human dignity. This is the internet and god dammit they can call whoever they want an n-word and tell them to kill themselves and there is nothing we can legally do.

Other than ban them.

Apparently I am a wanted man in Latvia, or so some freeze peach homophobe would lead me to believe.

Anyway. I’m getting side-tracked with belly-aching. I banned a man the other day. I’m sure that’s the story you all want to hear. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes you feel bad. Sometimes you need to tell yourself that their sob stories are lies. That they stole it because they’re cheap. Because they don’t value the work of others. Because the truly hate the idea of both supporting your company as much as going without a game.

A certain level of cynicism is necessary when dealing with people on the internet because there is no way to validate any claim they make. I had one user go as far as to offer to send me [nude] pictures proving they were trans after they were infracted for insulting trans people.

A) That doesn’t undo your insults.

B) I can google trans before and after pics too.

You eventually just stop believing people. Everything becomes a cover. Everyone is lying. Everyone has some terrible seed of vile hatred inside them waiting for anonymity.

Everyone is ready to make a false equivalent.

“How is ‘Kebab’ racist? I can call a Frenchman a ‘baguette’.”

I don’t know, maybe because one comes from a video demanding genocide? I mean, if we’re going to get technical it’s because the rules say so? Perhaps that you rely so heavily on racist monikers should be something you should do some soul searching on instead of bitching to me for calling you out on it.

No one ever trolls, either, I find. I know because nearly every, single, poster I’ve infracted for trolling replies back within a day to tell me that they weren’t actually trolling and in fact it was the other guy who was doing all the trolling. They didn’t mean to suggest that they were mentally deficient and that their opinions were akin to the holocaust.

Honest.

Protip, wrestle with pigs for too long and bystanders will have trouble telling the difference.

Anyway, banning. I banned a man the other day for pirating. Sometimes it is well earned. Some go out in a blaze of glory, admitting that the stole everything and saying that they’d do it again too because we’re evil/libtards/gay/white guilters/whatever fascist bullshit catchphrase is on everyone’s tongue that week.

Those ones are easy.

Cathartic even.

This was a kid from Lithuania. Said he couldn’t afford the game and that it was hard to come by. The error he was having made it extremely obvious he had pirated it and then he admitted as much to the other users. So I banned him and swept it all under the rug.

Gone.

Poof.

Isn’t much left to talk about. But it made me think. Made me think of what we do and why. With nearly 3000 PM threads in my inbox I can only remember one “thank you”. One. That’s it. Lots of people telling to kill myself, or hoping that I or someone I love is raped. One thank you.

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. Wonder what I get out of it all. I must get something out of it because I keep going back, keeping fighting our fight.

Maybe I just want to see a second “thank you”. Maybe I get a sick pleasure from the power and pain. Maybe it feeds a martyr complex. Maybe it fulfills my desire to feel like I’m doing a small part to combat the vile trolls that grow in the internet’s dark corners. It’s probably a combination of all that and some other little ticks that I can’t think of right now.

I have no desire to stop, really. In the end, in the end I enjoy the comradery with my fellow moderators. I enjoy thinking I am doing good. And yes, to a small extent, I enjoy the shrieking death throes of trolls, pirates, and fascists as they flail powerlessly at the keyboard. Calling me all number of horrible things. Threats and slurs are all they have in their arsenal.

 

It’s only weakness. An utter lack of agency to stop the inevitable. A refusal to lay in the bed one made.

In a sad, or perhaps glorious, way it makes me stronger. Makes me a better person.

Maybe that’s why I stick to it.

 

The 2016 Summer Wrap Up

No this isn’t a thing, nor do I plan to make it one, but there’s a lot going on and a lot on my mind and I’m planning on writing some of it down for the curious and so that it’s here and not floating around taking up space that could be used to memorize useless CAE method codes for work.

NGS Kilts

I sent the order in. We got a few orders, but that’s all. I’m hoping to hear back from our supplier in the next week or so. Technically this is the real deadline, but I’m guessing no one is actually going to take advantage of it.

That’s fine.

I’m amazed I sold as many as I did, to be perfectly honest. It is humbling and awesome that people chose to buy something I designed, so thank you to the handful of you who ordered or even expressed interest in ordering. It means a lot to me.

The question of whether or not we’ll try again is up in the air. My gut reaction is “no” but you never know. So maybe?

The Move

The biggest thing going on in my life right now is the move. That’s right, Brigid and I are moving clear across the city from Howell to Grosse Pointe Woods. The move should be wrapped up 23 September. We and everyone involved (three families total) are cleared for our individual closings so it is all about scheduling at this point.

Brigid and I are supremely excited for this, and I’ve talked about it elsewhere so I will spare the details here. The short of it, though, is Brigid can begin writing full time! That’s super exciting for both of us and it means that she will hopefully eclipse my income shortly and then make us a billion dollars so we can retire at 35.

Surgery

I’ll keep this brief – I am going under the knife Friday (2 September) morning for a regular, minor, elective surgery. No big deal (hopefully). If things go right it’ll be a speedy recovery.

Book Two

Let’s end on a high note! The first draft of the still untitled book two of my series is complete! Huzzahs! I have a lot of editing to do, so expect those updates as I quickly try to rebuild the whole thing from the ground up a fifth or sixth time. I really like where it ended, I like what the characters got done, but I also recognize that it needs a lot of work. Hopefully that can get done sooner than later.

I’m taking a bit of a break from writing directly and switching to replotting out books three and four with much more detail than I have in the past. Hopefully this will make writing the last two installments a much quicker affair with fewer total restarts.

On the publishing side of things I might poke a few more agents, but at this point I want books one and two totally done and book three mostly done before moving into indie publishing, this way I can maintain a semblance of a release schedule. The idea would be to publish one book roughly each year starting around summer of 2018. I think that is an extremely doable goal, so no putting on the breaks!

Thanks everyone for keeping up on this site and hopefully we’ll see you at Soktoberfest and the so-far unannounced (probable) house-warming party.

Sláinte!

The Rumbles of a Michigan Flag Discussion

For many reasons, Rick DeVos is probably not the kind of person you expect to be retweeted on this blog. I’m not going to go there tonight, or perhaps ever as a political mouth and not necessarily a political ear.

Say what you will about Rick (as a person) or the DeVos family (as a force in politics and business), Mr. DeVos has brought up an interesting point: Michigan’s flag is kinda… well… let’s just say it fits in well with most US states.

That is to say… bad.

It’s bad, okay?

There, I said it. Michigan’s flag sucks. It is yet another seal on a bedsheet with some Latin logos and deer thrown all over it. There might be an eagle too. All things you can hunt in Michigan.

Rick has asked for some flag designs, my guess is that it has to do with his “Art Prize” thingie. Get a bunch of art and flags related to Michigan, how Michigan stands out in people’s minds. For me it is a chance to stretch my inner designer again.

Before we go too far, I want to bring up the long-sacred  rules of flag design:

  1. Keep it simple – A child should be able to draw the flag from memory
  2. Use meaningful symbolism – Symbols on a flag should promote the ideals and beliefs of the people the flag represents
  3. Use 2 to 3 colors – This is an extension of rule #1 and also makes the flag easy to convert to greyscale if done correctly
  4. No lettering or seals – Letters and seals are for seals, not for flags which should be instantly recognizable at a distance
  5. Be distinctive or be related – Flags should show common heritage while also standing out in the crowd

Where does Michigan sit?

  1. Fail – Michigan’s flag is very complicated, with a seal and three animals plus a bunch of Latin.
  2. Sorta Pass – Michigan’s flag throws enough against the wall that some of it sticks. Elk and deer for our forests, Eagle for America, mottoes and stuff represent the people in the state. However, it is way too much and is starting to get out dated. Deer might’ve been majestic in 1840 but now? They’re mostly just roadkill. Michigan isn’t roadkill. Plus it can be exchanged for any forested state in the US.
  3. Fail – Clearly Michigan fails. It has a ton of colors, some for only small details.
  4. Fail – Michigan’s flag is a seal on a bedsheet.
  5. Sorta Pass – Michigan’s flag gets a sorta pass here. It is definitely related – it’s related to all the other seals on (almost always blue) bedsheets that dominate the flags of the United States. But on the flip side it doesn’t stand out in any way.

While I doubt that Rick has any major plans for pushing for a change of the Michigan flag, without a doubt we need a new flag; it just isn’t the most pressing thing facing the state right now. On the flip side a new flag might be the perfect way to get people united behind improving our beautiful, wonderful, and amazing state.

I’ve already posted an idea here and with Rick, but I’ll post it and some others for your viewing pleasure.

Two Lakes/One Michigan Flag:

Michigan

This 1:2 flag represents Lake Michihuron and Lake Superior with Michigan nestled in the middle. The two stars represent the Upper and Lower Peninsula united within a green forest. It is important to never forget that the Upper Peninsula is a part of Michigan, it isn’t just a vacation spot or where you can get a cheap piece of land for hunting. That’s why I want to show it as one with the Lower Peninsula instead of  always separate.

Also, I recognize that my opinion on Lake Michihuron being one lake, but trust me when I say geography agrees with me – they are one lake with one surface that rises and falls together. Say it with me: Michihuron (/ˈmɪʃəhjɚˌɹɒn/).

And like last time, it retains its distinctive look in greyscale.

Michigan_BW

Lake Above/Forest Below:

This one maintains the same two peninsulas, one Michigan theme as the one above. The Light blue is replaced with a more traditional navy. The navy maintains the start contrast difference between the blue and white so that in greyscale it still remains distinct. It also ties it back in with the rest of the US by including the stars and that traditional navy blue. This uses a more standard 3:5 ratio.

The Michigan Square:

I think we all know that a certain neighbor to the south uses a weirdly shaped flag, so why can’t we? I’ve switched to a 1:1 ratio while maintaining the colors from above. I’ve moved the green to the fly (the side not attached to the pole) so that when draped it will stand out from the other navy blue flags.

The Michigan Tri-color (Horizontal):

A simple white-green-blue tricolor in a normal 3:5 ratio. I’ve removed the stars and made a flag that is very easy to draw from memory but is completely distinct from other American flags as well as just about any flag in the entire world (it the flag of the Komi Republic in Russia flipped). White for snow. Green for forests. Blue for the lakes. It is meant to invoke a common scene in Michigan – snow-covered pines by a placid lake. Simple, but distinctly Michigan.

The Michigan Tri-color (Vertical):

The same three colors as before, the same order – only twisted and given the 1:2 ratio I’m so fond of. Draped in still air it creates the scene from above. Aloft it is a flag like no other. Unique among all the world’s flags as a vertical tricolor that doesn’t use white or yellow in the middle (shared presumably with only Cameroon).

 

So there are five designs, hope you’ve guys enjoyed and you found something you like. Hopefully this all goes over well and Michigan can try to unite behind a new, beautiful flag!

Slán!

For the Love of Low-Tier Soccer

Sláinte motherfuckers!

I wanted to take some time to talk more about low-tier soccer in America and also in þe olde Ængland.

For those outside of the loop, the soccer tiers in England go very deep. Beyond the 4 “top” flights (Premier League, Championship, League 1, and League 2) there are many, many regional leagues full of plucky amateurs, bar buddies, and small towns that scrape together to put a team on a pitch.

It’s honestly amazing how deep it goes and how passionate people can be about the sport. Soccer is, in a nutshell, fractal. No matter how deep you look or how far away you get the image and passion are always crystal clear. It doesn’t matter if it is Newcastle United playing in front of 55,000 people, Detroit City in front of 7,400, or Kendal Town in front of 200.

And until recently that sort of passion was unheard of in the United States except in baseball.

And that’s a good point of comparison. Americans love baseball. They’ll gladly root for a local, low-tier baseball team over the more distant professional teams. There is local, civic pride on the line and it is a place for locals to root for other locals. There is a strong sense of community that isn’t found elsewhere especially in the shallow attempts of the big teams to check off the “look, we care” checklist of Breast Cancer, Troops, and potentially one or two local-ish charities.

There is no doubt that this sense of community has lead to the explosive success of Detroit City. Detroit is a city that thrives on community and the “Detroit vs Everyone” mentality. It’s an intoxicating favor that is quick to take over the minds of Rust Belters everywhere.

More now than ever I think low-tier soccer in America will win. They will win  against the NCAA and they will win against the domination of bigger leagues like the MLS. As I see the rise of teams like MPLS City SC, Detroit, Chattanooga, and nebulous non-team in Mobile, is seem communities that will weather greater storms.

And in their wake more and more teams flourish. Is the age of the one and done NPSL team over? I think so. That isn’t to say they won’t crop up from time to time, but that the time frame when a sizeable chunk of teams would pop up and die the next off season is probably over for good.

People, not owners, see the success of teams like Detroit and Chattanooga and they will replicate those successes with their own local flavors.

And in time the lower-leagues will be saturated more and more until a system like Promotion and Relegation becomes not only possible, but desirable to all involved. I don’t think the issue with pro/rel is one of the chicken and the egg. It is one of needing to build a strong, stable set of low-tier teams worthy of the system. We don’t have that yet, but it is seeming more and more likely every day.

The idea that Americans won’t root for low-tier soccer teams is become more and more of a bad dream with each broken attendance record.

It doesn’t take the reward of promotion to build a community – it takes a nucleus that a community can thrive on and that is a team. If you want pro/rel you need to support the little guys. You need to grow communities that can support a team going up as well as coming back down.

On the flip side the NASL continues to look like it is in dire straits. Strikers attendance has fallen to the point that their worst can no longer be rounded to 1,100 and is now just 1,000 – not bad for an NPSL team. Only three teams have posted any sort of growth on their average attendance numbers with the over-all average per game down 13%. I am very interested in what Puerto Rico can do when they join in the fall. In the end though I think there are some teams in the NASL that are untenable from an economic standpoint. You cannot pay for a tier two team on a seventh of the attendance of a tier four team.

Anyway, I wanted to give some love to a low-tier team over in England that I am particularly fond of: Kendal Town FC. If you follow my twitter or facebook you might’ve caught a tweet or share of some of the action over at Kendal Town, a tier eight team based in Cumbria, one of two counties at the very north of England.

With a bit of time on my hands I decided to design a pair of kits for them in the way I usually do (on Adidas’ website because I’m generally artistically bunk).

Home Kit

Kendal Home Full

Kendal Home Shirt

With the new range of Adidas kits I wanted to extend the range of the red on the Kendal home kits. Usually it is reserved for just the socks but here it extends up into the stripes, sleeves, shorts, and the Adidas logo. The pin striping on the white is a nice touch as well, methinks.

Kendal Town sometimes alternates their shorts between white and black, here I stuck with the black. I have a preference for black over white in kits, I’ve spoken about this regarding Newcastle. With magpie kits I prefer black to dominate, I think the color is more imposing and makes the kit look more finished as compared to more empty.

Away Kit

Kendal Away Full

Kendal Away Shirt

As for seconds, I went for a combination of Kendal Town’s usual blue kits while maintaining the distinctive magpie colors. The all-blue kits are broken up with some white highlights and the centerpiece of the shirt – the black and white sash. This beat out some other designs, some that were a tad white-heavy

I have to admit that even if I could, I probably wouldn’t do completely custom kits. Probably because I can’t and I’m suffering from delusions, but also because I like the idea of “designing” something that can actually be made tomorrow. I also like that constrains the possible to a smaller set and means you have to focus on other elements like color and style branding.

Too many teams these days, looking at you USMNT, completely ignore color and style branding. Every kit is as removed from the previous as I am from Ganymede. New colors! Weird colors! Hoops! Stripes! Blank! Sash!

What’s so fucking wrong with building a brand? We’re going to buy your kit anyway and it is nice to be able to see a Celtic kit from a mile away. It is nice to recognize that’s Newcastle, that’s Man City, that’s Sunderland.

Modern kits, man, it’s what’s wrong with modern soccer.

If you’ve never been, check out Historical Football Kits, I can guarantee you’ll lose a few days there. But it is also, for designers, a great way to soak in those ideas of brands. English kits rarely change dramatically, especially not the first/home kits. The biggest change in the Newcastle kits in the last 100 years was a switch from blue to black shorts and the occasional white (instead of black) socks.

MLS teams often have trouble focusing on this. Hell, even Detroit City had some trouble with this (and I’m not helping of course) going from solid rouge, to rouge on rouge, to rouge and white, back to solid rouge.  Hopefully a pattern can catch on soon.

Anyway, I have some ideas for bigger overhauls of brands and stuff that I might do in the future. Who knows, maybe one day a team will trot out in something I’ve designed.