This could have been me…

Had I made a few choices differently, but only a very few.
Don’t walk, but RUN to see this. It is hilarious and fascinating.

Childhood, Kung Fu and Epiphany

On a whim, I began netflixing the old TV series “Kung Fu” with David Carradine. As I’ve been ticking off the seasons and the episodes, they all had this feeling of familiarity. Then it dawned on me that I used to watch it all the time when I was like 7 or 8. As Kwai Chang Kane’s master started quoting passages from the Tao Te Ching it hit me. The roots of my philosophical and spiritual inklings were sooo influenced by this show. It’s scary.

Then I wondered why they couldn’t have an actual Chinese actor to play Kane. Ah, the 70’s.

Old Poetry

The Forge
And in it’s dreams
It heard a roar
A bellows beckoning
The roar of a forge
And when at dawn
It did awake
It saw the sea
The sea forging stone.

Its full of stars
Looking upward
Seeing sky awash
With stars
Awe and possibility
Dancing in the blackness
Between scattered sparkles
Then eyes drop
Back to earth
A gaze across
Still waters
There again
A depth of stars
The reflection deepens
Something hints
What is without
Also within

Something should be said
For the sensual qualities
Of a whisper.
A delicate breath of air
Like a shiver,
The passage of petals
On a breeze
Between lips.
The loam of body
Dedicating itself to the scene.
A movement behind
The eyes,
Leading to a softer place.
Where the realms
Of flesh
And Dream

A Tribute to Gary Gygax: Father of Dungeons and Dragons

It was 1982 when I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons at Camp Longhorn when I was in Boy Scouts. My friend Brian was my first Dungeonmaster (this was a year before I learned what BDSM was from Oui magazine). The game was a revelation for a pubescent boy. It was a world where you could become a powerful, able individual whose choices and actions were on the scale of the heroic. It was a game that you could play with all of your friends, and they could develop differently abled but equally powerful characters of their own.

Sometimes you would face insurmountable odds, and it would take the effort of all of the characters in your adventuring band to win the battle/solve the riddle/complete the quest.  In those early days, we created characters that were impossibly powerful. I remember my first character, Phantom, culled gods from various pantheons to amass the powerful magical items they possessed. After a few months, this became boring, and this period later became known as “The Impossible Days”.

In middle school (1984), Brian and I expanded our game to include Mike and Tim. When we went to high school, the Daves were added. It was this core group that would not only become the gaming group but also would turn out to be my closest confidants for the rest of my life.  Mike, Tim, and I gamed together the most.  One year we even won a first place award for our diarama at GenCon (the world’s original gaming convention) in 1988.

Brian and Dave 1 left for college out of town.  Mike, Tim, Dave 2 and myself went to college in town (UW-Milwaukee). Tim moved into a dingy cottage set at the end of a walkway between two buildings, which we later named “Midian” after the graveyard in the film Nightbreed. For the next three years, I ran a campaign that met every sunday. We adventured across “The Forgotten Realms” and added Brent (a punk rock bassist who had an obnoxious edge but the sweetest guy you could meet).  It was this game that truly honed my skills of story-telling and role-playing. I even went as far as planning out the use of particular musical accompaniment for certain narrative parts. We also smoked a whole lot of pot and drank lots of wine.  There was one game that ended when Dave 2 began heaving his guts out in Tim’s bathroom.  We all were quiet for a second, then the sound of Dave vomiting erupted, and I said “I guess we’ll call it here” without missing a beat.

A little less than a year ago, I wed Tim to his wife. I talked to Dave in Chicago where he’s convalescing because of some chronic health issues. Dave  is a father of two back in Wisconsin, and Mike is a father of one.  Brian just called me tonight to say “Gary Gygax died this week. Give me a call if you need some support.” Tim and Brian live in Portland, and I spend time at their house pretty regularly. Tim and I have developed a wild hair recently to get a game together, and Brian has mocked us for wanting to.  It’s strange that the guy that got me into D&D would turn into the ‘cool kid’ who is too good for the game.  That’s the irony of life, I guess.

Thank you Gary Gygax for producing and endlessly entertaining game that led to deep, meaningful, and long-term friendships. Thank you for making a game that is built on collaboration, imagination, and story-telling.  Thank you for the 40 minute conversation we had at Napoleon’s in 1992 when you had your wife sport the huge diamond you bought her.  It was magical being able to find out that one of my icons was just another human being.  If I had a resurrection spell, I’d bring you back, but I know you wouldn’t want to live with a lower constitution.

When online quizzes get it right.

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Druid (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid’s Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

On being a Jet-setter.

So Monday I drove up to Toronto to see the Catch 23 show (competitive improv with three teams that get 23 minutes over 4 rounds).  I stopped at Niagara Falls for a quick lunch.  I arrived at Kurt Smeaton’s place where Taz VanRassell was hanging out and Kevin Gillese soon arrived.  Kurt runs Catch23.  I expected to watch, but Kurt asked me to play with Taz and this woman Alana (who is a sweetheart).  The show wasn’t the best for our team considering the fact that none of us had played together (well, I had played with Taz years ago in Seattle).  Our rounds went 1) overcautious with everyone making a first move and waiting for everyone to make a second move 2) One person coming out frantic and the other two trying to figure out how to work with it 3) A decent and reasonable scene after dealing with a heckler 4) One person playing insane and illogical with the other two trying to do the most with it.

I drove back the 3+ hours to Rochester at midnight after the show, slept for 6 hours, woke up, packed, flew to chicago where I am now.  I’m squeezing in visits with the friends I’ve got out here.  I had lunch with Amanda Rountree, dinner with Erin Cunningham, and I’m meeting many Portland and Improvacadia friends out tonight for drinks and dancing.

Tomorrow and Saturday, I am the Rev. Brad, and I’m hanging out with my friend Emily, her fiance, and several other old friends from Portland.  I’m officiating her wedding on the ship the Spirit First Lady of Chicago out on Lake Michigan.  It’s a sweet gig.

This traveling stuff is getting tiresome, though.  I’m tired of sleeping on couches and inflatable mattresses.  However, i love the catching up with old comrades and making new friends.  I made some new friends in Toronto, and I think I’ll go up there a few more times before i leave Rochester.

Cowboy Limbo

So I was stuck in Pendleton, OR (Home of the “Round Up”, the world’s fourth largest rodeo) over the 4th of July.  It’s about 200 miles east of Portland up in the high desert.  There’s a short in the wiring of my truck somewhere that won’t let me get more than 30 miles from anywhere.  Of course, this short happens about an hour and a half out from Pendleton.  I was helping my friend Karin move there.  She and I moved to Portland together way back in 95.  I stayed, but she’s lived all over since then.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking to tow truck drivers in the last week.  Nice people who tend to be over 50 in that part of Oregon.  Thankfully, I was stuck there for one of the hottest days of the season so far (108F).  I stayed with my friend Karin whom I was helping move out there when my truck woes began.

One of the cool things about staying there was getting to tour the facility where she works.  Karin rehabilitates wildlife.  We walked around the acre compound and I was in close proximity to: 1 Golden Eagle, 2 Bald Eagles, about 20 hawks of various species, a couple Kestrels and Ospreys, 8 owls of varying sizes and colors, 3 vultures, and 2 Bobcats.  It made getting stuck there totally worth it.  There is something mystical about being in the presence of wild things, standing there staring at things up close that I’d never get to see from a half mile away if I was lucky.  Things that spend their lives hanging in the wind somewhere over the Columbia River basin waiting for some tasty flesh to rend with their claws and beak.

It made me yearn for wings and a warm wind.