October 3rd, 2007

Hockey Season - Yay!

October is also synonymous with the word "hockey".

That means that the National Hockey League is back for another year of hockey. Another year of a bunch of North American cities gearing up for a season of 80+ games that will finally culminate some time in June of 2008 with one team winning Lord Stanley's Cup.

I'm really looking forward to this season and the Ottawa Senators' performance in the NHL. Last season, the Senators made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, but lost to the big, strong, tough Anaheim Ducks. Can the Sens repeat this year, and go that extra mile to win Lord Stanley's trophy? I don't know. The Sens didn't make any really significant changes to their line-up, other than changing their coach and not going out and acquiring any free agents who can make a difference this year (they desperately need another second line man who can provide some offense). That said, this team still has 18 players from last year's run, so I remain optimistic about the Senators chances, and look forward to seeing what the new NHL season brings.

It should be an interesting hockey season.

Go, Sens, Go! :)

Seven Interests Meme

gaaneden picked 7 of my interests for me to write about. If you want to play along, send me a comment; I'll pick 7 of your interests for you to write about, and then you post them with these instructions in your LiveJournal to keep this going.

Charles Stross - Charles Stross is a science fiction and fantasy writer (some would argue more the latter than the former) born in Leeds, England, who now resides in Scotland. Stross writes cutting edge science fiction, that tends to deal with the human condition in all its myriad forms. I first discovered his writing with a collection of short stories called Toast, and was intrigued enough to pick up his first Bob Howard book, The Atrocity Archives (there's now a sequel called The Jennifer Morgue), that is a combination of Lovecraftian horror, science fiction, and British spy thriller. He's also written the wonderfully evocative Merchant Princes series, of which there are now four volumes, about an alternate world spanning family/clan, and has a whole batch of other books including Singularity Sky, its sequel Iron Sunrise, and some excellent stand-alone novels as well.

Diana: Warrior Princess - A wonderfully wacky, parody roleplaying game based on Xena: Warrior Princess from the twisted minds of Marcus Rowland and Aaron Williams. Think of the modern days world, as seen from the point of view as remote from us as we are from the Romans or the Greeks, and then imagine it converted into a tv series by a production company that shows such lavish detail to historical accuracy that we have come to expect from the folks who make the stuff on the television. In other words, throw realism out the window. The game is absolutely superb in its simplicity and weirdness, and is quite wonderful.

Dying Earth - Set in the far future when the Earth's sun is in its final days, this series of four novels (collected as Tales of the Dying Earth) by master fantasist Jack Vance have both humourous and somewhat pathetically sad moments. The dying earth is a world of decadence and social turpitude in which humanity tries to live out its last days. The world is one where magic has returned and science is an art that is long forgotten, and where people and strange creatures and half-men cohabit in an uneasy truce (except for the creatures that just want to eat you, although Magicians and Arch-Magicians sometimes have even stranger fates in store for those they encounter). Pelgrane Press have created a superb, very innovative roleplaying game based on Vance's work that captures the flavour and feel of this Dying Earth to perfection.

English Football - What North Americans call "soccer". While I left England and came to Canada when I was very young, I am a huge fan of English football, and specifically the Arsenal Gunners football club of the English Premier League.

Incas - My interests in ancient cultures has led me to be fascinated by the Incan culture of South America. The Incans were one of the most interesting of the various cultures that inhabited the region, and their politics, social structure, and religion (not to mention their languages) are some of the most interesting to read and learn about.

Lorraine Garland - Lorraine Garland is a wonderful folk musician from Minneapolis, who sang and played fiddle with coffeeem in the musical duo The Flash Girls, and has gone on to do other stuff. She is also known in literary circles as the personal assistant to writer Neil Gaiman, who has written some of the songs for the various groups that she has played with. Excellent musician, and really a nice person.

Xenozoic Tales - A wonderful comic created by Mark Schultz, set in a post-apocalyptic future. The stories deal with humanity's attempt to achieve some sort of balance with the new world around them where Nature has taken back what was once Hers. Inhabited by all manner of creatures, including the ancient dinosaurs that roamed the earth, the story concerns two specific characters - Jack "Cadillac" Tenrec (a mechanic with a mystical connection to the world) and Hannah Dundee (a scientist and explorer with a penchant for the technological potential) - who are somewhat polar opposites. Crisp artwork, good characterization, interesting plots , and a well-detailed world make the series superb. This stuff is known by its other sobriquet, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs.

Seven Interests Meme II

For round two, spross picked 7 of my interests for me to write about. If you want to play along, send me a comment; I'll pick 7 of your interests for you to write about, and then you post them with these instructions in your LiveJournal to keep this going.

a/state - A roleplaying game created by Malcolm Craig and published by Contested Ground Studios, a/state is a post-apocalytpic Dickensian dystopian science fiction rpg set in an environment called The City. My love for a/state stems from my love of all things Dickensian, with a touch of sf and horror thrown in. There are several mysteries surrounding the game world, the biggest one being what was the event called The Shift (that transported The City to wherever it is now). The game world is a combination of the mundane with some horror and fantastical elements, and with a social and cultural milieu that is truly fascinating, if not wondrous (in a steampunkish sort of way).

Archaeology - What can I say? Ever since my trips to museums and the like when I was little, I've always had a fascination with ancient cultures, both living and dead. Archaeology deals with the dead culture part of this (among other things), so it has become a life-long interest and hobby of mine.

Coupling - While I like sex like the next guy (who doesn't? :)), this is about the British tv series of the same name (not the American remake, Goddess forbid!)). Created by Steven Moffat (known these days for his work on Doctor Who and Jekyll, Coupling is the story of six friends - Steve (Jack Davenport), Susan (Sarah Alexander), Jane (Gina Bellman), Patrick (Ben Miles), Sally (Kate Isitt), and Jeff (Richard Coyle). What makes Coupling so funny and so delightful is that these characters are obsessed with love and sex, in a series of funny and embarrassing moments that we can all associate with. Add to that the zaniness of Jeff (the terms "unflushable", "the sock gap", and "the giggle loop" all come to mind from the first season alone), and well...one of the best comedy series on tv ever. 'Nuff said.

Flash Girls - More correctly, coffeeem (aka Emma Bull) and Lorraine Garland, the Flash Girls are now a sadly defunct folk musician duo that play contemporary, traditional, and gothic folk music with a Celtic influence and some truly superb songs (some of which have been written by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Jane Yolen). I first heard of them when I went to MiniCon in Minneapolis, and saw them there live, although I already knew of Emma Bull as a sf and fantasy author in her own right. Emma's guitars, and Lorraine's bright and sprightly, but sometimes woe-filled, fiddle playing are sorely missed by me.

Gypsies - The Roma or the Romany for those disposed to their name being spelled that way. The wandering folk of Gypsy myth and legend inspired my interest in these people, and the more and more I learned about the real Roma, the more I came to understand about them and like. Roma history and lore is truly fascinating, and they are a spirited, indomitable people.

Mediaeval Baebes - The Mediaeval Baebes are an English ensemble of female musicians founded by Miranda Sex Garden member Katharine Blake in the 1990s, that features between seven and twelve members, all of whom share a love for mediaeval music. The various albums (and there have been a few from the first Salva Nos to Mirabilis) feature traditional mediaeval songs and poetry set to music. alongside varying numbers of original compositions. The songs are in a variety of languages (including Latin, Middle English, French, Italian, Russian, Welsh, Irish Gaelic, and modern English). The thing that I really like about the music of Mediaeval Baebes is that the songs vary and the tonality of all their music is so rich and vibrant. Their music is very much worth listening to.

Wicca - Wicca is a nature-based religion found in various countries throughout the world. To all intents, I was born Jewish, but I tend to think of myself these days as Wiccan. I'm not going to discuss the religion of Wicca here, since that can take up volumes, except to say this: Find a balance between yourself and nature, and An it harm none, do as ye will.