Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

The Lovely Becky bought me a bag of Chocolate Skittles.

Pinko Punko alerted me to the dangers of the newest addition to the Skittle family in a Delicious or Disgusting entry that had the dire directness of “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in United States.” Several brave souls sacrificed their taste buds to convey the sheer awfulness of this cocoadaemon confection. I had tried to find them, fruitlessly, until TLB managed to smuggle them home this week. With trembling hands, I opened the bag and tasted them.

There was a coercive interrogation in my mouth and everyone was invited to waterboard me. I confessed to being an Al Qaeda terrorist, a member of the Know-Nothings, and D. B. Cooper. Did you ever sneak into the cupboard as a child and to pull out Hersey’s Cocoa, thinking it was chocolate, only to discover that it delivered a dry, bitter, taste of death? It's as if someone said let’s make that experience candy flavored. If Jack Bauer had these in his arsenal, 24 would be over in 24 minutes, as the bad guys would confess the location of the WMD, their twisted moral justification for unleashing the weapon on America, and the identity of the mole in CTU who helped them.

I will now attempt to wash the memory of that taste from my mind with some tunes.

1) “Twilight,” U2. Like the name of the album this song is from, TLB is convinced we’re having a boy. Of course, the name we’re having the most trouble agreeing on is a boy’s name. She’s not happy with my Viking-warrior-sounding suggestions, I’m not keen on names that sound like sensitive poets who never make enough to move out of the house. Maybe I’ll just suggest The Edge.

2) “Hypnotize,” Notorious B.I.G. I just want to let Rev. Jeremiah Wright know that I’m trying.

3) “Ophelia,” The Band. Funky in a completely different way than #2.

4) “Wherever You Go,” Built to Spill. Proof you can get more out of Idaho than good potatoes and white supremacy. Mesmerizing guitar work.

5) “High School,” MC5. What’s the over/under on rock songs about partying in high school? I also can’t tell if using “sis boom bah” as a couplet is a good thing or bad thing. I’m leaning toward good.

6) “Ten Years Gone,” Led Zeppelin. So in case you missed TLB talking on the radio yesterday, she made public her unrelenting hatred of Led Zeppelin. As TLB explained, she grew up in an area where it was Wayne’s World minus the jokes and ironic distance. When she was driving behind a Toyota mini-truck blasting “Whole Lotta Love,” you could bet your mullet the driver of said truck meant the “Yo” inscribed on the tail gate. And while I understand that nurtured musical hatred (I had the same experience, but with VW Jettas and Oingo Boingo), it’s a shame, because there are songs like this that capture the beauty and craftsmanship and show why Zeppelin was so much more than just a white blues band using lemons as metaphors for hand jobs.

7) “Takin’ My Love,” The Jam. The serrated guitar riff could cut an aluminum can and still slice your steak paper thin.

8) “Song 2,” Blur. Woo-hoo! Too good for stadium music directors to ruin it for me.

9) “Tie a Rope to the Back of the Bus,” Superchunk. This is the good flannel.

10) “While My Heart Is Still Beating,” Roxy Music. And this is the anti-flannel.

11) “Bright Future in Sales,” Fountains of Wayne. I don’t think there’s another song that satirizes white collar working life better than this. It’s basically about a sales guy who gets shitfaced and has to work through his hangover at the big sales meeting the next day. I can’t tell you how many of those meetings I have been through with the fog of beer clouding my mind. The worst was one job I had where my first day on the job involved going to the national sales meeting. Sales staff from all over the country were there, and after the opening night session and dinner, the bar was open. “Sales staff” and “expensed booze” go together like mom and apple pie, or like slurred speech and the spins. I tried to be a good boy, having a couple of drinks like a gentleman. I was the only one, however, and when people above you on the org chart are doing shots and dancing like Elaine Benes, it’s hard not to outsource your revelry to Bacchus.

So yadda yadda yadda, I stumbled out of bed at 6:30 a.m. feeling like Slim Pickens after he got hit in the head with a shovel. I cleaned up and sobered up, but became very worried. Did I say anything inappropriate? Given how much I drank, I immediately revised the question: how much did I say that was inappropriate? I hoped I wasn’t That Guy, because it’s bad to be The New Guy and That Guy on the same day. I pulled myself together, ignored my throbbing head, and headed downstairs to drink a keg’s worth of coffee. When I entered the dining area, I noticed a lot of people on the org chart missing or looking like I felt. I was no longer That Guy or The New Guy. I was just one of the guys.

And that’s why I love this song. Although I think Snag could sue Fountains of Wayne for plagiarizing his life.

Have a great weekend. Go North Carolina and Memphis—daddy needs a new pair of shoes for the son he can’t name.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hear The Lovely Becky play her greatest hits

TLB will be on the radio today, cranking two hours of her favorite rock and/or roll music. The local college station hosts a "Professors Corner" where our local academics get to take over the airways and play whatever music the FCC will allow. The DJ will also interview TLB, allowing her to share intimate details about how all of these songs relate to our sex life.*

When: Thursday, 3/27, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. Eastern
Where: Radio X (click Listen Live on the left to stream

If you check in and take a listen, let TLB know what you think.

*Actual details likely to be omitted.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lazarus: The Day After

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said.

"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
--John 11: 38-45

LAZARUS appears at his GIRLFRIEND’s house.

Lazarus! Is that really you?

LAZARUS (hugging her)
Oh, baby, you have no idea how much I missed you. Those four days away from you felt like an eternity.

GIRLFRIEND (nervous laughter)
Yeah, they felt like an eternity to me, too.

I have a whole new perspective on life. I'm going to treat every minute like it's my last. That's why I want to get married.


Right away. (Gets down on a knee and presents a spectacular diamond ring.) Will you marry me?

Wow, look at that ring! Where did you get the money for that?

I had Jesus make it for me out of clay. So what do you say?

I can't. I’m sort of...married.

Married? When did that happen?

Two days ago.

You got married two days after I died?

Hey, I’m already 20. I had to move on with my life. Josephus the Goat Herder asked and I said yes. We didn’t want to wait so we went to that little chapel in Bethlehem.

I can't believe it.

Well, sweetie, I can't believe you're not dead.

Lazarus appears at the local shipping dock to see his BOSS.

Hey, boss.

Jesus Christ!


What are you doing here?

I came back for my old job. I’m ready to fish like there’s no tomorrow and feel the life-affirming satisfaction of a job well done.

That’s great, except I already gave your job to someone else.


A Samaritan. Honestly, he works harder than you did when you were alive.

But I was only dead for four freaking days!

I know, but fish don’t mourn, Lazarus.

You know what, screw working. Life's too short to waste on a boat with a bunch of smelly fish. I'm going to get my stuff and see the world. The primitive beauty of Gaul. The imperial splendor of Rome. The exotic...exoticness of India.

Before you bid us goodbye, you owe me four pieces of silver for the four days you didn't report to work.

Lazarus is at local Roman government office, talking to an OFFICIAL.

What do you mean I can’t travel abroad?

OFFICIAL (looking over scrolls)
You can’t travel abroad because I don’t have a box to check.

A box to check?

Yes. I have boxes for born, married, divorced, widowed, remarried, multiply married, fed to the lions, fed to the gladiators, stoned, crucified, and 67 other death categories. But no box for "resurrected." And we can’t just let the dead wander the earth, can we? I’m afraid you’ll have to stay in Galilee.

Until when?

Until the Second Coming. (Laughs at his own joke.) Or until I get a box to check.

Lazarus talks to the apostle PETER.

Peter, I have seen the light. Love, work, travel...I reject all of these pursuits. I want to devote my life to Jesus.

Terriffic. We are always looking for more disciples.

Yes, well, I was hoping I could be an apostle.

I'm afraid we don’t have any openings right now.

Just add me. The more the merrier!

Thirteen apostles? We're fishers of men, not the baker's dozen of Christ.

Come on. I was raised from the dead by your boss! That's gotta make me better candidate than Bartholomew or Simon the Zealot.

I'm so sorry. But we'll keep your beseeching on file in case something opens up.

Lazarus appears at the farm of his sister, MARTHA.

I tell you, Martha, I'm so glad to be back home. If you don't mind, I've had a very stressful week, and I'm going to retire early to my room.

Laz, honey, we kind of turned your room into a shrine.

A shrine?

To Jesus. For resurrecting you. But we fixed you up a nice spot in the barn.

Lazarus lays in the hay in the barn, surrounded by animals. Rain pours in from the leaky roof onto his head.

I wish I was dead.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What's landing us in hot water?

10) Sending 3 a.m. booty call text to the district attorney.

9) Putting the automatic in automatic pilot.

8) Saying that our political opponents are bigger than Judas.

7) Betting the kids’ college fund on Duke.

6) Learning that our proven track record of monogamy disqualifies us from being governor.

5) Bringing out our dead when they’re not dead yet.

4) Having our national assets in a sling fund.

3) Addding a little too much George Jefferson to our Thomas Jefferson.

2) Admitting recollections manufactured in Bosnia have suffered a factory recall.

1) Being too eager to serve man.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Despite being quite behind in my membership dues, Good Friday always brings out the Catholic in me. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, and we always went to Stations of the Cross during Lent. For those of you who may not be familiar with this, every Catholic church has paintings or engravings depicting the Passion of Christ. The priest starts at the first one, reads a summary of that scene, and moves on to the next one. When he reaches the crucifixion, he pauses and everyone prays in silence for a few minutes. That was always my most Catholic moment of the year, when I really felt what it was all about and could appreciate the solemnity of the story.

Then I would leave church and return to my usual self, acting as if there was a Beatitude that said, Blessed are the smart asses, for they shall inherit the open-mic nights of God. Oh well.

In keeping with that contradiction, I’m honoring Good Friday by picking the first eleven random songs that remind me of Jesus, done in the style that all but ensures I’ll be hearing these again when I descend to Hell for blasphemy.

1) “Gloria,” U2. What better way to start out than with a singer who thinks he is Jesus? I kid because I love, and despite Bono’s pretentions, I love the guy and the band. I appreciate a group that can make Christian rock that doesn’t sound like Color Me Badd set to the Psalms. Or American Idol: Salvation. Or Creed.

2) “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan. In the case of Christ, the time literally changed with that whole BC/AD switchover. Think Daylight Savings Time would screw you up? What, we have to start at zero and start counting again? Jesus Christ! Oh, it is because of you, My Lord? Of course, no problem, we’ll reconfigure all the calendars. And sorry for the swearing.

3) “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” Morrissey. I imagine every day would feel like Sunday when you followed Jesus around. You couldn’t make dick jokes or lust in your heart, and if you got caught self-violating the temple of your body, He really could make you go blind. On the plus side, the parties never ran out of wine.

4) “Just Like Honey,” Jesus and Mary Chain. Used so brilliantly at the end of Lost in Translation. The relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is kind of like Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson: two people who want each other in the worst way but can’t because the time just isn’t right. He has to focus on redeeming humanity, she can't become an Apostle because she's a she, and by the time they get some time together, Jesus is risen and has to hurry back to heaven. That's Oscar gold right there.

5) “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” Brinsley Schwartz. If someone ever decides to make another musical about the Gospel, this would be a great number for Jesus to sing when Pontius Pilate asks the crowd whether to crucify Jesus of Barabbas.

6) “Creeping Death,” Metallica. The rockingest song ever written about Passover. It really illustrates the difference between the Old and New Testament. New Testament is I’m going to let my son die for the sins of you wicked fuckers. Old Testament is You wicked fuckers are going to die for your sins. It’s like after a few thousand years of plagues and curses, God said, You know, it’s not you, it’s Me.

7) “Stronger,” Kanye West. I know one would expect resurrection music tends to be all Handel-ish, but if I’m triumphing over death and destroying sin and celebrating the resurrection of the body, I want something I can strut out of the tomb to.

8) “Why Me, Lord,” Johnny Cash. Not a Cash original, but he sure makes it sound like it. It makes me think of Jesus praying in the garden, which always struck me as the most human moment in the New Testament.

9) “Help!” The Beatles. Or you could go with something more upbeat for the Garden of Gethsemane scene in the musical. P.S: Dear Lord, I really am kidding. Please take it easy on me. At least I didn’t say I was bigger than Jesus!

10) “How a Resurrection Really Feels,” The Hold Steady. The ultimate Catholic bar band. The excessive references to sex and drinking are not really idea for guitar mass, but pretty accurate for Catholic school.

11) “The Ballad of El Goodo,” Big Star. A great song, one so positive and spiritual, even the Angel of Death would put down the sickle and hold his lighter up.

So there you have it. If you’re celebrating Easter, have a happy one. If you’re not, I hope you at least get to enjoy some chocolate.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday

It is the holiest day of the year...the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I have been distracted from posting because, as usual, I am poring over basketball stats in the hope of making a bracket that doesn't suck. I will also be using my combined powers of wireless Internet and working at home to attach my office to the couch today and tomorrow. For the record, I have North Carolina, Wisconsin, Memphis, and UConn in the Final Four. Upset special is Davidson over Georgetown in round two, and Marquette getting to the Elite Eight. My bracket should be ruined by 4:15 Eastern today.

The comedy elves are at work on new jerking, but until then, there are a couple Obama-related items that cracked me up:

The Onion: Black Guy Asks Nation for Change

Chappelle's Show: Black Bush (which seems funny after the Obama/Wright kerfluffle this week) Note: uncensored and not work safe.

One last note: I saw the curb out in front of my house for the first time since late November. Spring is in the air!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What could we do with a $50 million dollar divorce settlement?

10) Buy rights to "Hey Jude" and change chorus the chorus to cha...cha...cha...cha-cha-cha-ching.

9) Bribe the Sun to come a million miles closer and make winter finally go away.

8) Have The Rolling Stones killed.

7) Quit day job to focus on lifelong dream: beating Rock Band on the Expert level.*

6) Pay for new Florida Democratic primary on the condition that we get to hunt the loser at Disney World’s Discovery Island.

5) Poll 25 points higher than Mitt Romney did.

4) Throw birthday party for Allan Greenspan and only to have a naked Paul Krugman jump out of the cake.

3) Turn Kansas into a giant plasma TV that we can watch from our orbiting space mansion.

2) Lose $25 million of it in our next divorce from Pete Best.

1) Buy Ringo.

*Embarrassing Brando nugget here, courtesy of TLB.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I saw the illustrious Dr. Laura spraying her wisdom on the airwaves this week. On the Today show, she said that Eliot Spitzer’s wife was partly responsible for his trust busting, saying that when a wife doesn’t make her husband “feel like a man, make him feel like a success, make him feel like her hero,” he’s going to do things like form a presidential exploratory committee and probe the youth vote.

It’s pretty difficult to top the stupidity of paying for sex when you’re the governor of the second-largest state in America, but God bless Dr. Laura for again making the improbably stupid look like routine idiocy. That’s the sign of the great ones. To put her comments in a musical context for today, I suspect Dr. Laura would blame:
  • Yoko Ono’s voice for not being shrill enough to disintegrate Mark David Chapman’s bullets with one atonal shriek
  • Jimi Hendrix’s esophagus for not being wide enough to expel the vomit he choked to death on.
  • The shirts of Right Said Fred for not being strong enough to resist the high levels of sexiness and stay on their men.
Since there is so much comic gold to mine from this, I’m going to be a little choosy today and pick the first eleven songs could relate to the biggest political fall since Gary Hart. Given the monogamy track record of musicians that shouldn’t be too difficult.

1) “Take It Back,” Cream. I’m guessing Spitzer wishes he could take it back, take that thing right out of here now.

2) “Moondance,” Van Morrison. Would a Moondance with Van Morrison cost $5500? And would it have a happy ending?

3) “Soft Revolution,” Stars. This one doesn’t relate so much, but one could say there was nothing soft about Eliot Spitzer’s revolution. He may be the best example of the harder they come, the harder they fall. Commercial note: Stars Set Yourself on Fire is an incredible album.

4) “All Apologies,” Nirvana. How exactly does one apologize to one’s wife for this? Confessing an affair is bad enough, but saying you blew 80 grand on hookers? Is there a Hallmark card for that? The bad news is I’ve been paying for sex / the good news is the STD test came back negative. And am I the only one who wished that, after the governor finished his apology with his wife at his side, she had kneed him in the spitzers?

BTW, this clip from The Daily Show just killed me this week. The “as a friend” line had me in tears.

5) “Breaking Us in Two,” Joe Jackson. This is the music when you go to the bar to drown your sorrows, where Joe Jackson would be sitting next to you and singing like Jonathan Richman in There’s Something About Mary.

6) “A World of Hurt,” Drive-By Truckers. This is the music you listen to when you’re sitting in your empty governor’s mansion, finishing that bitter fifth of Jack, getting ready to move into your bachelor pad with Dick Morris and praying he can get you a guest commenting spot on Fox News.

7) “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” Sting. I will never lose my faith that the comeuppance of santimonious bleaters is great for comedy. Colbert and The Daily Show have been on fire with this all week. It's like post-writer's strike manna from heaven.

8) “There. There. (The Boney King of Nowhere.),” Radiohead. I think “The Boner King of Nowhere” should be Spitzer’s new title. I like that as much as Jon Stewart calling him the Mayor of Schmucktown.

9) “The Last Time,” The Rolling Stones. I imagine this is the last time for the Spitzers. That’s going to be an ugly, lopsided divorce proceeding. It will be the legal equivalent of the United States invading Grenada.

10) “Fat Bottomed Girls,” Queen. Which is the greater irony: a political crusader getting hung on the anti-prostitution laws he helped write, or the most flamboyantly gay man in classic rock history singing about having sex with ample women? This really cries out for a Spitzer montage. It’s also one of those songs that makes me happy to work at home -- I can go to 11 without fear of HR reprisals. Warning: shirtless Freddie Mercury alert in the video.

11) “Love Song,” Tesla. I’ll go out on a hopeful note. Love will probably find a way. It usually does. Of course, given that campaign funds may have been used to purchase sex, that love may be found inside prison walls. But if you like it dirty, prison’s the place to be. See, these things always work out. Warning: excessive bang alert in the video.

Have a good weekend, and as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, avoid the clap. That’s good advice.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

I have to begin with a hearty thank you to author Neil Gaiman for linking to me in one of his journal posts. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make my week. And I extend a laurel and hearty handshake to all the new visitors who came by this week. Hope you enjoy the blog, and I apologize for the beer cans everywhere. My housekeeper left for reasons I can't legally disclose.

Let’s get rocked.

1) “Let It Dive,” ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. I feel ridiculous every time I type their name in the Random 11. Possibly the worst band name of all time. However, a good, soaring track from their uneven World’s End album, and a pretty hypnotic YouTube video.

2) “Just Another Whistle Stop,” The Band. A great song for Bossy’s Road Trip. If you haven’t read about her planned 10,000 mile journey, go read about it. It will be the coolest thing any blogger does this year, and she will undoubtedly deliver sidesplitting posts about her journey.

3) “Staring Down the Gift Horse,” New Bomb Turks. I was at Culver’s last night, getting a salad. Yes, you read that correctly. I decided to go back on the South Beach Diet and jumpstart my weight loss, and Culver’s make a mean Chicken Cashew Salad. Anyway, as I waited in the drive through, I saw this kid wearing a jean jacket that had all kinds of studs in it, with a small Rancid patch on the side. That didn’t surprise me much, but when he turned his back to me, he had a huge Bad Brains patch on the back. It made me smile to see someone who looks like he wasn’t ready to shave yet getting his old-school punk on. This song reminded me of that, because New Bomb Turks Scared Straight is the best punk album I’ve heard since Green Day made punk chic again. I hope Bad Brains, Jr. has it in his collection.

4) “Photograph,” Def Leppard. True story: I blew out a pair of new speakers in a car while driving away from the installation place by cranking this song. Also true and much sadder story: they are going to play on Dancing With the Stars on April 29. Uh, rise up, boogie down, determine your final scores, write ‘em down? Not quite the same, is it? They are also touring with Styx and REO Speedwagon. I hate myself for wanting to go to that show.

5) “Moonlapse Vertigo,” Opeth. Scandinavian death metal is perfect for today, because the temperature is only going to go to 11. The Cookie Monster vocals also capture how my aching throat has felt all week. I would have really dug this when I was chasing demons across the Outer Planes with my magic-user and his crystal ball that said “Bad Motherfucker.”

6) “This River Is Wild,” The Killers. John Hughes would have included these guys in every one of his movies.

7) “English Civil War,” The Clash. A great song that would have been even better if they replaced “Hoo-rah” with “Huz-zah!” Huzzah needs to make a comeback.

8) “Physical (You’re So),” Nine Inch Nails. I have made fun of teh Reznor, but this is a hell of a cover of an Adam and the Ants song. Dare I say he squashes the ant version? The video here is like Tiger Goth Beat.

9) “Dear John,” Aimee Mann. Truly the queen of the three-minute pop song. She has so many incredible songs like this, and yet no real hits outside of “Voices Carry.” That’s why the music industry sucks. Funny audience video here where Aimee forgets her lyrics.

10) “Lose Control,” Ash. Starts with a sample of a Tie Fighter noise and then unleashes a fully-operational guitar assault. This would be a fantastic Guitar Hero or Rock Band song.

11) “Rough Boys,” Pete Townshend. You know how the conservative knobs over at the National Review tried to coopt some great rock songs and give them conservative meanings? I think this would be perfect for a montage of Republican senators caught in sex scandals. Gonna get inside you indeed. My favorite Townshend solo song and one of his best compositions. If only Keith had lived long enough to play the drums and star in the video.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Day the d20 Died

Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, died this week. Chuckles and many others have posted about Gygax and the impact of his game on their lives. Reading all those tributes got me thinking about my D&D days, the time between the ages 11 and 15 where I immersed myself in the universe Gygax created. So I decided to dig out the Dork Box.

The Dork Box has my dork stuff in it. My undergraduate history thesis, academic plaques and honor society certificates, and weird books like The Book of the Subgenius and Drew Friedman comic collections. Mostly it's a shine to D&D. The Dork Box houses all my old D&D books, kept safe like the pieces of the Ten Commandments. There’s also a container with my lead figures. And then there’s The Binder.

Nearly falling apart, The Binder has my characters, my adventures, monsters, deities, maps, and more stuff I spent hour after obsessive hour creating, holed up in my room listening to prog rock while drawing on graph paper and thinking of names that sounded like bad Tolkien rip offs. Like a lot of D&D players, I created a lot of characters, but one stood out among them (click to see it in larger 1982 glory):

That’s Talcomest the Silver Sorcerer. He fought enemies by spraying them with a dry powder that sucked all the moisture out of them and got all over their armor. Okay, maybe not. I played him throughout most of my D&D career. He had a crystal ball that doubled as a telekinetic whoop ass machine, a sphere he could launch at enemies like a wrecking ball. Talcomest fought, at various stages of his career, a scarecrow in an Oz-based adventure who could fire pieces of straw that could pierce plate mail; fanatic minions of the evil Egyptian god Set; and, in a series of adventures that lasted two years, a chaotic demon named Tadwaeld who Talcomest chased to Limbo and back.

When I wasn’t playing, I made my own adventures. Most of the time I didn’t ever get to use them, because my friend Tom almost always was the Dungeon Master. But I loved getting out the graph paper and writing the back stories, the villains, the traps, and the monsters that would await adventurers. This is “Quest for the Dragonstar.” I was probably twelve or thirteen when I wrote this:

Centuries ago, a powerful Dragonlord named Correllia created a magical amulet with power bestowed to her by Tiamat [the big seven-headed dragon god, for those of you who haven’t memorized the Monster Manual and/or Babylonian mythology]. The amulet was called the Dragonstar. With it, Correllia rose to power. She raised an army of goblins and bugbears [goblins on Goblin Growth Hormone] and xvarts [don’t ask]....She captured Sterken, the capital of Mordain, and marched toward Esberniam [you can’t having epic adventures without geography]. However, Elvish, Human, and Dwarvish armies called from Moria [Tolkien lawsuit] pounced on and slaughtered her army in Eskar. However, Correllia and the Dragonstar escaped.
A fantasy novelist prodigy I was not, although that passage makes more sense than the Conan movies. It also illustrates why Tom was the DM.

Just like you need geography to have epic adventures, you need graph paper to make a dungeon (click to see every pencil stroke):

Note the pentagram in the one room. Why a pentagram? Because pentagrams are tits when you’re twelve.

So why did my love for D&D come to a grinding halt? A very simple explanation: I saw adult role-playing gamers for the first time.

The summer after freshman year of high school, Tom and I went to a gaming convention. We were excited about having a chance to show off our cunning and ingenuity against other D&D players. I’m not sure what I expected to encounter, but I suppose I figured the other players would be like us: dorky but not overtly nerdy kids.

Instead, we walked straight into a convention of Comic Book Guys. Grown men in convention T-shirts and navy slacks and generic sneakers, arguing about rules, showing off lead figures, and clearly putting more obsessive effort into this hobby than we ever had. It was like walking in on your parents dropping Ecstasy and going to a rave.

Taking our place our tournament table, we watched as our Dungeon Master lumbered toward our table. He had the round physique of an ogre, and he carried a bucket of dice. Hundreds of dice. Hordes of the colorful gem D&D dice, legions of the cheap plastic kind that came with the Box Set, and a multitude of traditional dice from board games.

“That,” Tom whispered, “is a lot of dice.”

The dice epitomized what we were thinking about the convention in general. There was no reason for someone to own that many dice, except to show off how many dice they owned. The obsessive need to purchase that many dice, and find a sealed container big enough to carry them, and own a stack of DM paraphernalia, and argue over obscure rules at the back of the Dungeon Master's Guide, all of it made me think of one thing: if I continue on this path, I will die a virgin.

I now realize how stupid that is. But at the time, my desire to explore hidden realms was being surpassed by...a desire to explore a different kind of hidden realms, ones that gave you a much more valuable set of experience points. Watching unfiltered, uncensored D&D fandom made me realize how unattractive it could be. After all, there was nary a woman in sight.

After that convention, Tom and I quit D&D.

I missed it almost immediately. But by this time, I had moved to the other side of the country, and my new high school friends didn’t play D&D. I remained D&D free until I got to college. My dorm mates and I got on the subject one drunken night, and it turned out all of us had played and given up the game for mostly the same reason: it seemed too dorky to get us laid. By this time, I had guaranteed I would not die a virgin. In fact, all of us were no longer virgins. Why not start playing again? The other guys agreed, and during winter break, we grabbed all our shit out of our Dork Boxes and brought it back to campus.

I got to DM this time, and while on break, I wrote a new adventure, The Grey Tower. It involved the party traveling to an abandoned keep to search for an elixir of youth. I devised riddles and created traps and pored over the books for monsters to use. When we returned, we gathered in our dorm rooms and played the adventure over several nights. It was a blast, and before the adventure ended, we already talked about our next one, and how we would rotate being the Dungeon Master.

The last night, nearing the explosive, undead-strewn end of The Grey Tower, a couple of our female friends stopped by our room. They knew we were playing D&D, but hadn’t actually seen it happening. They proceeded to unleash a Prismatic Sphere of Mocking, and we all failed our saving throws. I felt the embarassment of the convention returning. Somehow, they got hold of The Binder before they left. When I got to the last page my carefully scripted adventure, I saw this scribbled across the top:

Jesus Christ, Brando! Where’s your cape? In the wash?

And with that, my D&D career officially ran out of hit points.

Rest in peace, Gary Gygax. You made an awesome game, even if the girls made fun of us for playing it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: How did we make ourselves sick?*

10) Licked the wrong kind of frog.

9) Kept checking WebMD every five minutes for symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

8) Started looking at a copy of Glamour magazine when no one was around and yadda yadda yadda blindness.

7) Saw our home appraisal go down faster than a Republican Congressmen at a rest stop.

6) Sucked out all the cheese in the stuffed crust pizza without using protection.

5) Found out that George W. Bush had the ability to do good all along.

4) Gave corpse of Bill Buckley prolonged tongue baths.

3) Destabilized liver with malt-based Al-Cohol insurgency.

2) Played bobbing for petri dishes.

1) Contracted Hypocritus P from handling raw political sewage.

*Written from CJSD deathbed because The Lovely Becky is not here to keep me from thinking a sore throat and cold is really Ebola/acting like a big sick baby.