Archive for September, 2011

Fantasy Football: finally a sport I can understand

Friday, September 9th, 2011

As some of you may be aware, fall is apparently football season. I know this because my grandpa used to watch football, pretty much religiously, and since I practically lived at his house as a kid there was always football in the background while I was doing something else. To this day I can’t watch my kids play with Legos without hearing a phantom voice screaming about lines of scrimmage.

The other reason that I know it’s football season is because I’m on Facebook, and all the relatives I bore to tears wi my posts about DragonCon and squirrels dressed as ghostbusters are now returning the favor with posts about their teams and their players and more specifically their Fantasy Football teams and players. For those who don’t know, Fantasy Football is where you put together an imaginary team of players, drawing from all across the league or conference or whatever to come up with your ideal team; it’s like a football “greatest hits” compilation. It sounds weird, I know, but let me put it into terms you can understand: remember when you used to argue with your friends about the ideal Star Trek crew–who’s the best captain, who’s the best doctor, etc? It’s like that, but with football players. I know, I know, it’s super geeky, just don’t tell the sports fans about the similarities. I honestly don’t think most of them could handle it.

(The obvious exception, of course, is my friend Eric James Stone, who’s love of football is rivaled only by his love of Star Trek. He’s very ecumenical in his geekery. The odds are actually pretty good that you know someone similar.)

So the idea of a Fantasy Football team sounded pretty cool to me, and I’ve had some success with the concept in the past (Sisko, Spock, Scotty, The Doctor, Data, Odo, and Quark), so I decided to come up with my own Fantasy Football team. I warn you: I’m not super familiar with the game, so I’m liable to miss a position or two, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to throw in some extra ones as well so it will all even out. We’ll start at the top:

I don’t think most Fantasy Football teams include a coach, but this is fantasy and the mentor character is too important to leave out. I’ve got a really strong list to choose from here: the aforementioned Star Trek captains are all good choices, to which I would add Admiral Adama, and of course there’s a whole panoply of Gandalf-style characters including, but not limited to, Gandalf. Professor X feels like a good choice, because he has a lot of experience literally coaching a team of specialists on the field, but when it comes to analyzing a situation, knowing your players, and choosing the best person for the job, one man stands above all others. My choice for coach is Ash the Pokemon Trainer.

The QB has two different skillsets to keep track of, and your ideal pick has to have both: he or she needs to be a good field leader, and he or she needs to be able to throw stuff really far and accurately. It’s a tall order, I know, but since we’re working with fantasy we have a vast array of promising young farm boys who grow up to be king, and they can pretty much learn to do anything, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that knows how to throw. I’m going to stick with the classics on this one: Luke Skywalker not only has the Force powers to guide any pass exactly where he wants it to go, he can also use the Force to coordinate the other players telepathically. Never bet against a Jedi, as I assume one of them said at some point. That said, Luke never demonstrates any really impressive leadership skills, so I’m going to go with the real best Jedi ever. My choice for Quarterback is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor edition. (Note: This will probably result in my second string QB eventually joining the other team, but I’m cool with that. My second string QB is a corned beef sandwich, and it has the worst midichlorian count I’ve ever seen.)

I don’t know how many linebackers you get on a normal football team, but I also don’t really care. Five? Six? I intend to have hire a few extra, just to make sure I’m covered. Unlike the QB, the linebackers have a pretty obvious analogue in fantasy, and I can think of no one I’d rather have than the Rohirrim: their defensive line held Helm’s Deep for hours, and then their offensive line not only shattered the Uruk Hai but broke the army of Mordor and sacked a Nazgul. My choice for linebackers are Theoden, Eomer, Eowyn, and the thousands of other riders of Rohan. Let’s see you deal with that, Cleveland Browns.

Running Back
The running back’s job, I assume, is to take the ball into the end zone manually in situations where passing doesn’t work, such as when the defending team can fly. Like I said, I’m extrapolating a lot of the details. My first thought for a good runner is, naturally, Frodo, since carrying a precious item into a specific location without getting caught is pretty much his specialty, but the more I think about it the more worried I get that he’s really more of a basketball player–Frodo’s race to Mount Doom was less of a 50-yard end run than an alley-oop to Gollum. I also worry that without Sam to haul him around, Frodo’s not going to make it all the way to the end zone without fainting. I do like the idea of invisibility, though, so my choice for Running Back is the Predator and his full suite of alien stealth technology. Remember, kids: it’s not a real touchdown unless the other team’s skin is hanging limply from the goal posts.

People Who Catch the Ball
These guys probably have a real name, but it probably isn’t “catchers,” because that’s a baseball thing and I doubt either sport is self-confident enough to share. Maybe they’re called Catchbacks? Except that sounds like a car? I don’t know, sports are weird: the point is, when the QB throws the ball, there’s probably somebody to catch it, right? So I need a couple of guys on my team who are really good at catching stuff, and while I’d love to make a joke about disease vectors I really don’t think Typhoid Mary and the monkey-bite guy from 28 Days Later are my best choices for a sports team. I do know two people who are really good at catching stuff, though, which is why my choice for Catching Backs are the tree from Charlie Brown (nothing gets past that guy) and Hope Solo (because this is my fantasy and I can pick her if I want). (Also because I don’t know what a Tight End does, but I want to make sure I have one on my team. Hey-o!)

What else do they have on a football team? I choose the alien tendril thingy from The Abyss as my waterboy, and Killer Croc from Batman as my Gatorade sponsor, and Cthulhu as my mascot. have I missed anything important? I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments.

An update, a eulogy, and some announcements

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Announcements First!
I have two announcements today, though many more are coming up:
1) I am appearing tonight at THE KING’S ENGLISH, a wonderful bookstore in Salt Lake City, for the launch of my friend Eric Patten’s new Middle Grade horror series THE HUNTER CHRONICLES. The first book, which I have read and loved, is called RETURN TO EXILE, and tonight you can be one of the very first to get a copy of your own–and signed, no less! I’ll be emceeing and signing my books as well, if anyone’s looking for them; the bookstore has all three John Cleaver books, including I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU, which I know a lot of you have had trouble finding. Not only can you find it tonight, but I will personally scribble in it with a marker.

BONUS ANNOUNCEMENT: I am currently, as I type this, doing a final copyedit of my post-apocalypse YA novel PARTIALS. This is resulting in a lot of leftover manuscript pages that I don’t need. Everyone who comes to the signing tonight and buys a copy of RETURN TO EXILE will receive a free, random page of PARTIALS, nearly six months early. Want a bigger piece of the story? Bring your friends and buy more books!

2) I will be appearing again, this weekend, at EPIC PUZZLES AND GAMES in West Valley. The store is running a really cool game day where you can just show up and play games and hang out, all in the name of charity–everyone who brings a can of food to the game store will receive a raffle ticket (one per can), for a drawing that includes a ton of games and prizes and one of my very reassuring T-shirts. I’ll be there all day playing board games, so come by, say hi, and sit down for a game with me! There’s a poll on the left side of this very webiste where you can tell me exactly which games you want to play. As always, I’ll have books for sale as well.

An Update
I have returned from DragonCon! It was, as it always is, awesome. I really want to take my kids next year, the two oldest, though I would keep them far, far away from the Marriot lobby anytime after 7pm. The later it gets, the more costumes appear that rely less on “material” and more on “a personal trainer and a healthy self-image.” Some of the highlights:
1) Meeting a bookseller who went nuts upon recognizing my name. Let me tell you, there is pretty much nothing better than that.
2) I hung out a bit with Lou Anders (or should I say “Hugo Award-Winning Lou Anders, since that’s how he’s taken to introducing himself). He recorded two episodes of Writing Excuses with us, which you guys are going to love, and then he mentioned that he’d watched my youtube presentation on Story Structure and loved it. This is one of the editors I most respect in the industry and he loved something I did; I was incredibly flattered. Then he asked if he could borrow some of it to use in a presentation of his own, and I just about lost it. Huzzah!
3) I finally got a chance to meet Mur Lafferty, who turned out to be one of the legitimately nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. I can’t wait to hang out with her again at World Fantasy.
4) While walking through the giant signing room full of movie stars, my eyes fell on Michael Hogan, famous for his role as Colonel Saul Tigh in the new Battlestar Galactica. Tigh was hands-down my favorite character on that show, and my first thought on seeing him was “wow, he’s gotten even older and more grizzled. My second thought, half a microsecond later, was “HOLY CRAP HE’D BE SUCH A PERFECT MR. CROWLEY.” I have essentially no say in the casting of my movie, but wow that would be awesome.

A Eulogy
As I mentioned/whined about several times on Twitter and Facebook, my hat was stolen. If you’ve ever seen me in person, you know the one: a brown, wide-brim fedora, Indiana Jones-style, that I bought on my honeymoon and wore almost every day for 12 years. I’d even personalized it, with a little chain mail bauble a fan made for me at a signing in Seattle. That was actually my second fedora–the first I obtained four years earlier, and lost on a train through the copper canyons of Mexico. If you’re going to lose a fedora, a train in Mexico is an awesome way to do it; having it yoinked by some jackhole at JalapeƱo Charlie’s is a pretty much the opposite end of the scale. I wandered listlessly for a couple of days, broken-hearted, and finally bought a new one (almost exactly the same style) in the dealer’s room. Some day, though, when I’m rich and famous (please note that despite what you may think, I am currently neither), I’m going to spring for the full $650 and have one handmade from beaver fur by AdventureBilt, the same company that did the hats from KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Say what you will about the movie, it had some pretty rocking’ hats.