Organizing some links

An interesting modular board manufacturer: Game Night Life.

Le Joueur’s No Myth game style and examples, saved from the Forge.

A custom 5e screen with interesting info: post, direct link (pdf). Great for GMs new to 5e.

(5e) Special resources for Elemental Evil —
The State of Mulmaster
Mulmaster Backgrounds & Bonds
Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (new character race and spell options)
Elemental Evil themed trinkets
Elemental Evil Player’s Guide (Organized play rules)
Elemental Evil Quickstart Guide

Stretch/Touch

I recently wrote an article on Medium called Stretch/Touch. It was a burst of creativity captured and set down in one go.

(Archived below the fold in case I outlast Medium.)

Stretch/Touch

If you see me walking in the morning, you might think you’ve encountered a madman. As I walk, my gaze almost never rests straight ahead; my neck bends forward until my chin touches my chest, or my head rolls in a grand circle around my shoulders as if held by a few tendons. It’s the lingering effect of one the most influential classes I had in college — a one night class offered in a neighboring dorm’s living room.

I grew up knowing the value of massage; I was trained to exacting standards by Dad. He taught the skill with a wink as to its value in seeking a mate, but proved eager to offer himself up for our practice. Many nights, while watching TV or talking in the living room, he’d slip off the couch onto the floor before my brother or me and ask for a few minutes of work on his neck, or for someone to work out a knot just below his shoulder, or maybe work the spine?

The class was offered for our cluster of dorms on a Tuesday night. Turnout was light; maybe 14 or 16 students showed. We swiftly divided into partners, which was when I discovered that I was one of two guys who’d showed up alone — everyone else was dating their partner.

The initial lecture and demonstration I’ve carried with me ever since. It was about self-care and stretching, simple exercises you could do alone. Stretching to prevent stress and tension from locking you up or fixing you in position — or being dependent on a faraway father for working out knots accumulating from study and worry. She taught us to slowly rotate our head, chin down to the chest, then held over the left shoulder, then chin up and straining back, rolling right and hovering over the right shoulder, then chin back to nestling on the chest. Balancing tension, sometimes edging into soreness, muscles warning of accumulated rust, inflexible muscles deeply reluctant to stretch far enough to dip your chin onto the waiting shoulder.

At the time I was more interested in the partners’ portion, “real massage”. I sheepishly paired with the only other stag guy. He sat before me and I followed along as instructed, my hand muscles experienced and firm, working tension from his neck. When we switched, the instructor encouraged us to relax as much as possible; I quietly blew out breath and sagged into his hands over the sounds of laughter at my boneless posture. His hands weren’t practiced, but I appreciated his efforts to follow instruction and work some tension from my neck and shoulders. It almost counteracted the weight of eyes on me, reminding me that I wasn’t one of the couples, one of those who really belonged.

After that hour I avoided further massage classes. Massage was clearly marked out as a couple’s space; something I’d known intellectually, but I was left disappointed once I’d internalized the message. I had hoped that massage would be a community of people giving relief and easing tense muscles, but found again the same exclusionary pairing that limited access to so many spaces.

Had I only thought twice, I’d have realized that uncoupled women wouldn’t show up for a massage class. Massage is too often tied to seduction. Letting some strange guy run his hands over you wouldn’t dissolve tension for many — they’d develop knots that’d resist an amateur’s fumbling efforts to relieve.

Over the last few years, I’ve smiled at the ergonomics and workplace stretches handouts that HR sends along. Some instruction is new (like “concentrate on an object at least thirty feet away for ten seconds every hour”), but the seated exercises almost always incorporate elements of that long ago class in a dorm living room.

These days, I get up early and go for a walk before returning home to shower and work at desk and computer. The light exercise wakes me to a degree that I can’t match any other way. When I skip my morning walk, the first hours are a struggle; concentrating proves so very hard.

If you happen to see me in the morning as I walk, you might see shoulders rolling, lifting, falling in their sockets. Hands swing forward to bump each other, rebound, arc out to the sides, disappear behind my back, slowing then crashing and rebounding, swinging forward again. I’ll wave sheepishly, but return to my odd stretches as I turn right down the next street.

How useful that class, one evening, so many years ago.

Turn Coat (Dresden 11)

This was the next Dresden book. It starts off with a bang, turns up the volume, and backs off of the beatings (which was necessary, I think). It’s a nice return to a mystery that must be solved.

Honestly, it’s a great continuation, but no one should start the series at book 11. Storm Front is a great place to start– and the journey all along is great.