Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kopfy's Oktoberfest

Back in April, when the MLS announced its 2010 schedule, my partner, EM, at work and I talked about going to see a soccer game together. Not just any soccer game, but an Major League Soccer game, where both of our respective favorite teams played: mine being the Columbus Crew and his being the Seattle Sounders. In May, we mentioned, while having beers at a Taco Tuesday at Hoopples, that September 18th was going to be that game.

Now this was not going to be an easy task. As a rule, in our ambulance company, EM and I do not take the same days off. I think we're, as in each of us, kind of like one of the foot bones of our shift schedule, especially on the weekends. Sure the outfit gets by, but not without a serious limp in performance. Really, my company does so many trips that the twelve or more full-time road crews are very important. because when it's not quantity, it's the heaviness of the transported where we need skilled and experienced guys, and gals, handling the load.

Still pretty far off, there was always the potential for the plan never coming to fruition. EM and I make plans to forget about them all the time, what with the crunch of bills and whatnot. Still in late July, we both put in our Time Off requests. And amazingly enough, we found people to cover for us. This little holiday took on a special meaning for me.

In case you didn't know it but August 18th until February 15th is Merry Thanxgivoween Mass. In the Peryton Clique. Starting out with Robinalea, Caed's and Peryton's B-days, going through Halloween until New Year's Eve, winding up around Elvis's Birthday (also David Bowie's) and Valentine's Day. So little special events are sought after during this phase of the year.

Now I know most North Americans think Oktoberfest is like the first week of September, if not on Halloween, but it's actually about the last two weeks of September to the first weekend of October. So I decided the four days I was going to be taking would constitute, TOM'S OKTOBERFEST. This festival would have its ups as well as downs.

Well on Facetube, Lincoln Park announced 30 cent chicken wings and $1 cheaper beer night on Thursday. And since they make chicken wings in various sauces, including curry, that became the first event. Peryton and I tried curry, "Kill-Me," and garlic-BBQ while talking about early Iron Age and the Levant, or Israel as C-Crab would call the region.

Friday was supposed a local soccer game, being way too drunk at 8AM, and hearing a friend's death last Tuesday,
in an email from Frank S., made me decide to stay at home. Mind you, I received also about ten video links from the guy, as some sort of maudlin music festival in Alex G.'s honor-- it's a group norm. I suppose it's called a "Jazz Funeral" in New Orleans. EM was calling about the game, and I was of course a bit reluctant to go, but by Friday evening I returned his calls and asked him to get the tickets.

Saturday, hung over and on a budget of about $130, I pulled Peryton out of the house by 10:30 AM to start the drive to Columbus. During the drive we composed this "Soccer Chant," sung to the tune of "Peaches,"

Going to Columbus,
Going to watch a lot of soccer.
Going to Columbus,
Going to watch a lot of soccer.

They play soccer in Japan.
It was brought there by a man,
from Great Britain,
Building an Empire.

Going to Columbus,
Going to watch a lot of soccer.
Going to Columbus,
Going to watch a lot of soccer.

If had my wish this day,
I wouldn't have to drive so far away,
To an MLS team play,

Going to Columbus,
Going to watch a lot of soccer.
Going to Columbus,
Going to watch a lot of soccer.

Easily enough, though there was an Ohio State game going on, we found a motel for a reasonable rate, within walking distance from the Columbus Crew's stadium. And awaited the evening's competition. EM and his girlfriend Trista, T-Girl from here on, showed up at dinner time. Afterward, we were on the way for Saturday's big event.

Even more on a budget, I could only afford a foam finger and a Columbus Crew bracelet for Peryton. We were up in the nose-bleeds, and the sun was bearing down on us in the empty rows. But soon enough, the sun was setting and the bleachers filled up rather quickly. And watching the game live was awesome, even if the Crew lost Nil to four to the Sounders. The Eastern Division of the MLS looks to be rather outclassed by our western USA cousins. No one wanted to join me in "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" over the rhythmic but rather staid drum beating of the season ticket holders.

Still, at the end of the game, the team came to the north east corner of the stadium to thank their hardcore fans, the Nordecke ("North Corner" in German, maybe it's also a tool manufacturer's name, since we were in Home Depot Stadium). The corner was still beating drums and singing something like the 1950's song that goes like "I Love Him, I Love Him, and where he goes I'll Follow, I'll Follow." I happened to be in the general direction, and suddenly my foamy hand came in handy, I started waving and hollering to them. I swear Scheletto and Hedjuk saw me and saluted. 4 to Nil against my team, but still the whole trip was worth it there.

Sunday though, was spent fighting off a horde of housekeeping ladies that decided every room in the motel had to be out by 9AM under penalty of death until 10:30am. And then it was time to go Mandy-Bean and Steppenwulf and their 9 month old kid. The couple we hadn't seen for over a year, and the kid, we'd never met. Having a bit time before they household would be ready we drove around their new town and walked around some rather surreal "nature trails." Mowed flood plains and traffic signal street lamps that were fashioned like the traffic signal wasn't designed some fifteen years after the last gas-lamp was used in a city in the USA. Of course that's what you get in Ohio, every town with less than one hundred thousand people making itself look like a small town, with five year-old fixtures made in China and heavily painted canons from the Spanish/American War.

We had lunch at an Indian buffet, where everyone stuffed themselves too well. Oh I have some weeks of exercise, looking at how "portly" getting I am getting, ahead of me.

Tonight my thoughts turn to Alex, moving off to the distance. Like he was always prone to do, but he always knew how to throw a party.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Potatoes from a box.

It's the drama of James Shipman that brings me to the blog today. Since the Great Outlaw Press Art Theft Scandal of November-December 2009, the T&T community has been altered a bit but moving forward. The various internet entities dedicated to the game have for the most part rebuked "Shippy" and disassociated themselves from the man. I found it funny because it reminded me of someone trying to find a member of the Nazi political party in Hamburg, Germany in August 1945. Everyone had worked with the man, and he had a serious bloc of supporters to take his side in cases of discontent among the authors that OP was publishing in early November. But when the misappropriation of easily seen intellectual property of artists was noticed, all open support crumbled.

Ken St Andre himself tried his best to give the man the benefit of the doubt throughout the entire time, but demanded explanations and appropriate responses in a timely manner. Shippy instead seemed to be enjoying the ruckus posting pithy comments at his website about "tater being his only friend" while being forced to remove all content of items for sale from his website. He also bragged in emails to those who didn't throw him under the bus about continuing to reprint FBI's works through Singapore. At an on-line Christmas party, the guy was showing his charm by talking about his new association with the TEA Party and how the government was stealing his money. The only defense ever made was something about a guy named David Levi, or some such, had sold him the rights to all the artwork at unbelievably low rates. Contact information on this "guy" was never provided. Things quieted down towards the New Year celebrations, though the man was kicked out of the Trollhalla, Ken's personal T&T on-line domain.

Then on the rest of us Delvers, T&Theads call themselves that, got busy doing things to fill the rather large space left by Outlaw Press like create fanzines, like TrollsZine, and self-publish T&T products, like W. Scott Grant's the Final Exam. I focused on rewriting and producing New Khazan. Reports would pop up that Shippy was selling items still with Ken St. Andre's name on it and writing spiteful author biographies. We all knew the man had other identities at Trollhalla, and Peryton and I made a game at finding out who it was for a couple weeks before finding the game too easy. We didn't report them, because I was against "exiling" him in the first place because I figured he deserved to see what would happen when everyone else would be doing their own T&T projects and through legitimate means. More than likely he'd have lost interest, not having the chance to become a gatekeeper to the small but passionate T&T marketplace. Heck I even got a free copy of Shipman's True West RPG and his play-by-post novel Wasteland by speaking to his hand puppets.

I wish I had expressed myself better. At the release of 9KW I received an email from Shippy asking if I had thought to thank him as well as another person that used to work with him. This person had rewritten about a dozen pages of my original work when Outlaw Press decided to release its version without me being credited for any but an idea. I replied that I had taken to using the person's phrase "Spell Ships" and felt that merited a thanks. I asked what he felt that he deserved credit for in the work. His reply was short and entitled "Yes? No? Maybe?" From the letter's exasperated tone, I garnered that Ken's exile from Trollhalla was wearing on the Outlando D' Tunnelore.

Two evenings ago, between working other T&T projects and well as Mike Larsen's Rock'n'Role-Playing I received an email from Ken St. Andre. Shippy had sent him a box containing six copies of a
Gristlegrim Dungeon: A unique Tunnels & Trolls GM dungeon written by Ken St. Andre & James Shipman with a one hundred dollar bill on top of it. Ken was honestly confused about what to do with the shipment and was asking for advice from us at Trollhalla. Not sure what everyone else advice was but mine was to keep the bill for the insults over the past months and a further insult of a bribery attempt, and send the books back. This has lead to Ken issuing an open letter which he has asked to spread around.

What were Shippy's motives? I can only guess that it has gotten cold. Spite has lost its appeal.

So here is the letter:

Ken St. Andre
3421 E. Yale
Phoenix, Arizona, 85008.
September 8, 2010

I received your package yesterday with some surprise. Received six copies of the revised Gristlegrim Dungeon. This dismays me, as I told you to quit publishing it back in January of this year when I broke with you. If this parcel was an attempt at a reconciliation between us, then I appreciate the effort you took, but I reject it. Our friendship and partnership is broken and done forever. I do not wish to collaborate on Gristlegrim or any other project with you. Not now! Not ever again! You had no right to add your material to my work. You have no right to continue publishing and selling it. Please stop!

James, you no longer have any right to publish or sell my works. We have no written contracts. We have no formal accounting of royalties. Your habit of sending money and or copies of the items is no longer good enough. Any informal agreements we may have made in 2009 and earlier are terminated on my side of the deal. I no longer wish to associate with you, either professionally or informally.

Find some other outlet for your creativity. Leave me, and leave Tunnels and Trolls, alone. I am rejecting any further association with you.

I hope this is clearly understood. Do not publish anything with my name on it as author. Do not presume to collaborate with me on my projects. Do not keep attempting to infiltrate under false names--you are banned and unwelcome on that site. Do not attempt to rewrite the history of Tunnels and Trolls on Wikipedia or any other online sources. Do not send me money. Do not send me product. I do not want it from you. However, I am under no legal obligation to send back things that arrive unsolicited in the mail. I won't waste the money or the effort to send them back. I am not interested in theatrical gestures. I simply wish to terminate our association and to move on with other things in life.

I hereby reclaim my rights to anything I ever gave you to publish. In particular, I assert my right to the novel Griffin Feathers which consists entirely of my own work with some input in the short sections of the book from the members of Trollhalla.

I am forwarding the "royalties" that you sent me to Jeff Freels, the artist whose work you have re-used to illustrate this version of Gristlegrim. He deserves compensation for his work.

James, I am not angry at you, and I do not hate you. I simply will not associate with you ever again. For several years we were, I thought, very good friends. Outlaw Press did a lot for Tunnels and Trolls. You know why that time has ended. Let it go. Move on.

James, I will be publishing this letter in open forums on the internet, so that all the world can see how I feel, and how I react to what I can only believe are attempt s to manipulate me and to gain control of Tunnels and Trolls. If you have no ulterior intentions, then forgive me for being suspicious, but I no longer feel that I can trust you.

James, you have your own unique style of creativity. Please go and do your own thing, and stop messing with me and with Tunnels and Trolls.

Ken St. Andre

It's hard not to feel bad for Shippy. In my memory he has had his moments, but I am constantly being reminded of what a seedy person he is and what a shifty mind he has. Seeing this today, helps in not feeling bad for the guy after all. There's always mashed taters to make more friends, Shippy.