Sunday, March 23, 2008


Easter Morn'

The Easter Bunny came to my house. Well, it may not have been Peter Cottontail exactly; I suspect it was his cousin Penelope. Peter has had to expand the organization these past few years. In the twenty-first century this gentle enterprise has become far more than one bunny can handle. No longer a simple matter of hopping from house to house in the wee hours, no, now there’s a gauntlet to be run, and that eats up valuable time. What kind of gauntlet? Well, with the all those Right-wing Christians taking pot-shots at him with their unregistered rifles any time he tries to cross a meadow or field all the while crying for his hide as if he were the titular head of the vast pagan uprising, and the PETA folks lurking behind every bush along the Bunny Trail with their injunctions and subpoenas and buckets of red paint screaming bloody murder, calling for him to be dragged off to The Hague to face charges as the Uncle Tom and international kingpin of unfair animal labor practices. Not to mention all the spoiled rich kids hopped up on a week’s worth of one skipped dose a day of “normal-making” pills leaving him carrots they’ve cleverly hollowed out and filled with their parents’ favorite prescriptions hoping to stalk and capture the long-eared legend and display him proudly to their peers in some HGTV dream sweatshop their parents have commissioned just to shut them up since everybody has everything they have but NOBODY has the actual Easter Bunny. You see why poor Peter needs reinforcements. I’m just glad that one of his vast and loyal operation made it to my house this year, and that whichever one it was brought jelly beans.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


The Dungeon Master Has Departed, But The Game Goes On

Gary Gygax did not eradicate cancer. He did not bring peace to the Middle East nor did he stop global warming, but neither has anyone else last time I checked and there are legions of people around the globe whose lives would have been emptier without him. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created Dungeons and Dragons the role-playing game that began it all, a legacy that now encompasses any number of tabletop gaming systems, video/computer games, films, television shows and conventions spawned, inspired or influenced by the characters, rules and even players of that original game.

It may seem trivial to those who are not gamers to see this as a historic contribution, but for some of us life without Gary, D&D and its progeny would have been unimaginably different. Dungeons and Dragons was my second game. I cut my teeth on Traveller, part of the RPG diaspora and like its fellows owing an ancestral nod to Gygax and Arneson. Role-playing gave me back as an adult what had helped me survive my childhood; not only a needed escape but a socially interactive outlet for my fertile imagination. As I matured and my playing style evolved I discovered more facets to my favorite hobby. Gaming has allowed me to become a writer of sorts and an actor for very small audiences. It has taught me improvisation. It has helped me through inhabiting and interacting with characters possessing motivations and facing dilemmas vastly different from my own to have deeper empathy and better see things from someone else’s perspective. For the benefit of those of you who have played with me or simply know me I admit empathy does not always equal sympathy. Sometimes despite my lofty aspirations to deep method acting it was just good to blow off steam from a hateful day at work by gleefully slaughtering monsters in lieu of my coworkers. Thanks to Gary and many others in the gaming industry I have been lucky enough to imagine what it might be like to be a starfaring assassin, a duplicitous wizard, a wealthy dabbler in crime fighting, a single mother, a psychic shopkeeper from Salem, a psychiatrist, a Toltec god, a depressive horror illustrator enlisted by the FBI, an Irish super hero and a thirteen year-old mutant foster child. I have enjoyed the company of fantastical creatures and people both brilliant and bizarre, from opera divas, Estonian truck drivers, vampire diplomats, space traveling gold-diggers and greebly-poking clerics to a sheep loving Elf prince and the freak prince of folk. Yes, at 41 years of age I am still playing and hope to as long as I can gather a few of my fellow geeks around me for a night of beer, dice, melodrama and mayhem. These are my friends; this is what we do, and we found each other in whole or in part due to the legacy of a man named Gary Gygax.

E. Gary Gygax

July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008
Thank you, sir, for everything.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You have your responsibilities
And I have mine.
Friends and family
Definitions that blur with time.
Will you ever have that license?
Will I always have this patience?
No answers evidence
We are blinded by our present tense.

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