Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Greetings from Spain!

Hi everyone! I'm writing from our home base in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, where we're staying with friends here for our 10-day visit in Spain. And yes, I double-checked the name/spelling of the town, because, as Twitterites know, I've been suffering from an affliction over here that is rendering me unable to correctly name Spanish cities. Thus, yesterday's day trip to Segovia somehow became a trip to the mythical land of "Sevonia," which I've since decided is going to be the name of Xanthor's land. This is what you would call a repurposing of one's own lameness.

Speaking of lame, my back continues to be a source of utter misery, I'm sorry to say, pretty much putting a damper--or at least strain--on this entire vacation, both for me and for everyone else. I've been dealing with some form of sciatica for about a year now, but, two days before I left the U.S. I must have done something else to myself, because now, instead of just my lower-right back being occasionally sore, now it's my entire lower back, and it's pretty much constant. Sleeping has been tough, walking is a chore, and steps--forget it. So I've had to skip out on some of the events--like climbing to the top of the castle tower in Segovia--like a gimpy old man, and I've had to have my wife help me hobble along at times. We had a great, full, adventurous day in Segovia, but by the end of it I was utterly exhausted and hurting, and, as a result, couldn't move at all today. Not exactly the memories of Spain I was hoping to have--but whaddya gonna do?

Still, it's vacation, and being out of the U.S., with no work to deal with, with all new sights, and old friends, to see--I can hardly complain. And there's something in particular about being out of the country, in a place that doesn't speak your language, that helps provide a satisfying bit of distance and perspective from one's own life, which I was most decidedly due for after a rather busy 2009. And even with the backache I can appreciate the Old World architectural splendor, the feel of a country that's been around for forever, the absolutely heavenly food (the jamon!) and wine and coffee.

Today's trip to see Picasso's Guernica in Madrid had to be postponed cuz of ye olde back, but we'll probably get to it after New Years, along with a trip to the Museo del Prado. I'm laying low--and flat on my back--for most of today in hopes that I can actually enjoy New Year's Eve tomorrow. My downtime today has been an alternating routine of napping, reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (shaping up to be my fave Gibson book since Neuromancer),and playing Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes on my DSi, which is a surprisingly addictive, great little strategy game. I played it so much the other day I wore out the battery twice in a row--first time I've ever done that, I think. Great oddball combination of match-three game and turn-based combat. I can't even imagine how they thought this up, let alone made it so addictive and fun. So thank goodness for friends' recommendations, because I had no plans to ever buy a Might and Magic game again.

This would be the part of the post where I might normally post some photos, but, to do that, I'd have to email them to myself from my iPhone, and then upload them to PhotoBucket, and then link here, which is too much work--SORRY. And anyhoo, the best ones are up on Twitter already. So go there!

Okay, that's enough sitting up for one day. Back to the prone position for me, because tomorrow it's New Year's Eve, and I have a big date with the White Man's Overbite pretty dang soon!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Well lookee here! I'm alive!

On the downside, this is my last blog post of 2009. On the plus side, I'm blogging! On the downside, I haven't been around here much. On the plus side, I wrote a novel! On the downside, I'm now off to Spain for a 10-day vacation with family and friends, so I won't be here again for a bit, most likely, unless I muster up the energy to blog on the road and don't get yelled at by my family. On the plus side, I'm going to Spain! (And on the down side of that, again, my back is freaking killing me, so this flight couldn't be more ill-timed.)

So, to those of you who tend to spend more time here than I do, well: Hi! How've y'all been! I know that I proclaimed "novel writing is hard" way back in my last blog post, but, you know what, it's totally true. It utterly sapped me of creative/writing energy, which was a bit unfortunate not just for this blog but for my new job as well. So thank goodness for vacation, so I can recharge the ol' brain batteries a little.

This is going to be an extremely interesting 2010 for me. The rusty gears at are just starting to turn a little bit, and once we're all back in January I am hoping you all will start to see what I have in store over there, which is either going to be a great success or flop wildly. Or maybe just die of indifference. See? I need a vacation. Truly, I'm thrilled that, so far, EA is letting me post whatever kind of nonsense I want, though the sad truth is that might just be because they haven't noticed me yet. But what I really hope is this Brave New Venture into, err, "corporate editorial", or whatever you want to call it, will yield true "transparency" for EA, and help set an example for how a bigass company can communicate with folks in this new age of ours, without resorting to layers and layers of BS. Or maybe I'm just naive and stupid! Time will tell.

All I can say, right now, as the year closes out, that I couldn't be happier in the job change. My time with The Sims group was extremely educational to me, and I have no regrets. (Though they probably don't feel the same way about me!) I have a much greater understanding of How Games Are Made than I ever could have on the press side, and this is now informing everything I do at And, hey, some of my bestest pals at EA now are in the Sims group. So all is good.

There is an endless amount of topics I need to catch up on here on this page. More motorcycle diaries. My foray into heavy metal, which turned me on to the splendiforous Crack the Skye by Mastodon. My new love affairs with Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, and Glee. The usual random nonsense and ranting. And, oh yeah, some Cudgel of Xanthor excerpts!

And part of what I need to figure out in 2010 is how to do all of this. How to cover my bases on all the public places I find myself communicating: Here,, Twitter. I'll be writing more over at, including a column/blog, but those topics should be different than the ones I do here, which should be more personal. Yet I don't want the ease and immediacy of Twitter to suck away the always-more-satisfying blogging I do here.

In any event, I do thank all of you who ever take any of your time to come here and read this dribble. It's always humbling and flattering to think that anyone actually cares about what I have to say. Have a great holiday/New Years y'all. If I don't blog/twitter at you from Spain, I shall return January 5!

Adios for now,