As some of my friends know, I’ve always been a game geek and the love of all kinds of games pulled me into a couple of game ventures. The first was The Games Network, a cable television venture involving interactive computer gaming in the early 1980s, perhaps a bit before its time. Later, in the early 2000s I took on the task of developing an online multi-player strategy/role-playing game that had been burning a hole in my brain since the earlier experience. The company was Intelligent Life Games, and Imperial Wars was the game.
During the years of trying to pull together enough resources to develop this project I met some absolutely wonderful people. None stand higher in my esteem than Gordon Walton, who was the Executive Producer of Ultima Online (my first MMO and one I playtested), The Sims Online (when I first met him), Star Wars Galaxies, and Star Wars: the Old Republic. Now he’s got his own game company, ArtCraft Entertainment, and they’re readying their first game for release, Crowfall. As usual, it looks like Gordon is working on another winner, and there’s lots to like about it.
I love the game structure which uses some of the unique principles we were trying to implement in Imperial Wars – zero-sum games (worlds) so that there are actual winners, and so actions will have consequences; game worlds (universes in our case) that can have different game conditions; persistent, modifiable avatars that exist outside of the play worlds; and other great looking game balancing designs. On his team are Raph Koster, one of the big brains behind Everquest, and an excellent developer/engineer, Mike McShaffrey, two guys I have admired for years.
So, if you’re a game geek, like me, and you’re looking for a great looking new MMO, give Crowfall a try. Though their kickstarter funding has been completed, there’s always benefits for ‘stretch’ funding so you may want to check that out, too. I wish all the folks at ArcCraft the best of luck!
I didn’t get to meet Debbie Reynolds the night she and her husband came to see us. My mistake, though our lead singer, Dave, had the honor. It happened on one of the most remarkable nights in our career as entertainers and musicians. We’d been hired by Caesars Palace in late December of 1966 to help open the re-imagined Nero’s Nook Lounge nestled next to the new hotel’s casino. It was a gorgeous showroom and the hottest ticket in town. I hadn’t realized when I’d signed the contract that we’d be limited to singing ballads and mellow pop songs, like the Letterman. Another restriction in our contract forced us to appear as The Big Spenders instead of Stark Naked and the Car Thieves, another difficult pill to accept.
We decided we couldn’t live with the constraints being placed on our performances any longer. The Saturday night we decided to break out and play our best material whether pop, rock, or rhythm and blues regardless of the consequences just happened to coincide with a night full of stars from movies and television, international personalities, and hotel headliners from all up and down the Strip. Behind the curtain, we stood nervous but excited. We couldn’t be sure the audience wouldn’t hate us, or the entertainment manager wouldn’t close the curtain in the middle of the show. We risked losing our new 3-year contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (and in the end it did), but together, we’d made the final decision to be true to our nature in the dressing room before coming to the stage, so here we were.
We opened with an Otis Redding tune, “Can’ Turn You Loose,” if I remember correctly and moved through our version of Bobby Hatfield’s “Unchained Melody.” It was probably Sam and Dave after that, and we mixed in “The Way You Look Tonight,” Letterman style, and on through the set list until we came to our closer. The audience response had been more than we could’ve hoped for so far. We’d worked long hours to perfect the Four Seasons “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and I don’t think the Seasons could’ve done it any more justice that we did that night. But the topper of the entire show came as we started into the song’s dramatic ending. I’ve excerpted the following from Night People since I can’t tell it any better …
“I tried to make out the figure moving below us through the blinding lights, until . . . wait—holy crap! That’s Debbie Reynolds down there pulling on Dave’s leg!
“Sing it, baby, sing it!” she yelled. A broad, encouraging grin spread across her face as he stood braced, high above her, to hit the high full voice note near the end of I’ve Got You Under My Skin. When we peeked through the curtain earlier, we’d seen Debbie Reynolds seated at an aisle table a few rows from the stage with her husband.
As Dave’s ringing tenor swept high, and then higher, into a dramatic falsetto run, she’d stretched on tiptoe to grasp the only part of him she could reach, his left pants leg just above a white patent leather boot. Laughing with joyful spontaneity, she shook it back and forth, like a dog with a sock puppet.
Dave had to be as astounded as the rest of us, but he closed his eyes, pushed his mic farther up and out, and leaned back to let those golden pipes of his rip.
“I’ve got you . . .” Dave crooned a cappella, working into the final phrasing of the song with the movie star still hanging onto his pants leg, staring at him with a wide smile. I stole a glance at Mac, his eyes wide as beacons. I knew mine were just as big as we joined our voices with Les and Craig in building the ending harmony.
“Never win, never win . . .” The lounge erupted, peppering another standing ovation with yells and excited shouts that crackled over thundering applause. More people rushed to the front of the stage as we hit the big finish and took our bows while the frenzied uproar mounted to a pounding pressure.
I looked left toward the rest of the band, trying to take us in. Jackets from our dark suits lay rumpled around us. Purple-and-white polka-dotted ties hung loose or strewn across the stage or amps. Burgundy cuff links on our custom tailored white-on-white dress shirts sparkled in the brilliant light. Leonard was sopping wet behind the drums, his dress shirt translucent.”
Debbie Reynolds put the icing on the cake for us that night. Her spontaneous encouragement and appreciation, more than anything else, endorsed our decision to let loose and show ourselves for who we really were. After the show, there was a note inviting Dave and the rest of us to her table. Dave beamed as he went out to meet her. Me? I’d chosen to go to Sammy Davis, Jr. who had also sent us a note. I’d recently read his autobiography, “Yes I Can” and wanted desperately to meet him, and that was a great privilege. But I sacrificed meeting one of the most amazing superstars ever to grace show business. Someone so full of life and so willing to share it, she’d rushed to the stage in front of everyone to express her excitement. To me, it’s not just another Las Vegas anecdote, it’s a moment of generosity I’ll never forget. I’m sure I’m giving voice to all of us on the stage that night when I send a wish from us that she rest in peace knowing that ours were among the thousands and thousands of lives she touched.
August 25, 2016
Contact Person: Rose Ash 909-626-4166
CLAREMONT AUTHORS BOOK FAIRE
The Friends of the Claremont Library, in partnership with the Claremont Public Library, is pleased to announce their inaugural Claremont Authors Book Faire, to be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Claremont Public Library.
Contributing authors to the Book Faire include such notable Claremont authors as Jill Benton (biography), Chris Rubel (fiction), Allen Callaci (memoir), Diana Linden (art history), Joel Harper (children’s literature), Joe Woodward (biography/local history), David Allen (local history), Monique Saigal-Escudero (memoir), Paul Steinberg (environmental policy), Larry Dunlap (memoir), Yi Shun Lai (fiction), and Wendy Lower. An exhibit, featuring authors from the Collection and the Book Faire will be on display in the lobby of the Claremont Public Library through the month of September.
All of the Authors participating in the Book Faire are included in the Claremont Authors Collection, a special project of the Friends of the Claremont Library. Originally conceived by former Claremont mayor and local historian Judy Wright, the Collection brings together the works of notable writers who have resided in Claremont or have a significant association with the city. The Collection is permanently housed in the Claremont Public Library. Claremont authors are strongly encouraged to consider donating their work to the Collection. Donation guidelines can be viewed by going to www.claremontlibrary.org
The recent deaths of two important people in my life as covered in, Things We Lost in The Night, have caused me to continue examining how I conceive the Universe. The Introduction of Night People is a single paragraph about the uncertainty of the thin veil between life, and not-life titled Change. I included it because a specific theme of Night People is change. The Introduction in book 2, Enchanted, is a bit more of how I see the nature of our existence as I write about it. It’s here to remind me of the hypocrisy of being human in general, specifically as an author, in how I refer to miraculous or supernatural events in my writings. This is a second draft version of it — I can’t guarantee it won’t get altered a little before publishing.
Are FREE WILL and PREDESTINATION
“If you can accept that we exist in a universe, or more accurately, a multiverse gigantic beyond comprehension, exclusively containing sparsely scattered objects made of matter or energy, that are subject to unyielding laws and rules embedded in its fabric, then it should be easy to allow that Predestination is the natural way of reality.
Our bodies, constructed of matter and energy also include our brains, likewise subject to these rules. The wonder of this incredible organ, this brain of ours, is that it is somehow able to host a mind, an entity that it is NOT composed of matter or energy. This remarkable awareness is able to receive physical signals relayed through our brain from our five senses to fabricate a model of the multiverse we can comprehend. For the most part, all of this is already accepted physics and the science of the brain though no one can explain the method of how the brain’s mind-hosting takes place.
The mind is the control mechanism of our surroundings, through it, we can direct our bodies to Change, within certain limits, the natural Predestination of the multiverse. Though these actions cannot contradict natural regulation, the results can be profound. The fundamental order of the multiverse may decree that a rock will fall from a cliff by force of gravity over time, but a human mind can move it’s host body to avoid being crushed if it happens to be beneath it. This is evidence that sentience can exercise Free Will (and proof of its existence), subject to the unalterable physical rules of the multiverse.
This demonstrates to me why there really aren’t any miracles, only events we cannot understand. However, I’m willing to use this label in a literary sense for incidents I can’t explain, so when I refer to miraculous or supernatural events in my writing, you’ll understand why.”