Tag Archives: old times

Yesterday

Had an attack of the Yesterdays earlier this week. I was trying to figure out how to get back into the old Photobucket account. I haven’t been there in forever. In fact, once I was in, I went to change the email contact info. It was still my old-old-old email from Aurora. Like before it was my name and was just my student number. Basically, ages ago.

There are a bunch of pictures of kittens and dictators, as well as a good one of William Shatner. But there are also a few handfuls of shots from the old apartment, mostly from January and February of 2005, when I had just moved in. There are a few from when my hair was too short to be…short…but too long to be a ponytail. One shows me with a Cubs glass of green liquid. I remember that liquid: Bacardi Gold and dnL (7UP-sidedown). It was disgusting.

It got me thinking again about the strange series of events that has brought me to where I am. I can point specifically to a few spots that, if they had happened differently, would have significantly altered things. In some cases, I can even pick out dates, or at least approximations, for when these “turns” happened.

I am certain that this is a common occurrence. Yet, in a life full of options, sometimes wondering about the “what ifs?” is terribly interesting. I try not to dwell. What is past is past, and I am terribly happy now.

You enter a tunnel of blinding white light…

Gary Gygax died today.

I thought of the time during that ridiculous battle that we were losing badly; I levitated Karl up to that floating purple dragon, Mortus, and he rolled a supercritical and killed it. We were in the gym back in high school. I think I actually shouted out loud when he rolled that 20. Destroying Mortus removed quite a few obstacles, including, in a strange way, the good dragon guy whose name escapes me. In any case, we came away from that battle with more money that we knew what to do with. Of course, it also set in motion a chain of events that would push Karl’s character further and further away from mine, and eventually lead to me being installed as DM.

Then there was the Ice Cave expedition with my cousins and the twins.

Filling coffee mugs full of dice at Gen Con 1999.

Downloading maps from wizards.com with every intention of using them.

Playing Baldur’s Gate all the way through in three weeks during detasseling season.

Attempting to write a full history and theology for the world that I inherited from Ian.

Tying cloth around my monk’s fists, dipping them in grain alcohol, and lighting them on fire in the hopes of causing extra damage to a squad of assassins, only to burn myself half to death.

Drawing the World map with Karl in his basement. I wonder if it is still there.

Sifting through vintage guidebooks at Paper Escape.

Finding my uncle’s First Edition rulebooks in the basement at the old farm.

Years later, bringing those same rulebooks to Gen Con 2001, where I had them signed by the man who hosted what would become the first Gen Con in his basement in 1966. Telling that man what an honor it was to meet him, just like thousands of kids that day had already done, and still being treated as warmly as I could have hoped.

Despite all its pop-culture baggage, Dungeons and Dragons has been, and will be, a significant part of the development of a great many people. For some, it was a way to escape the doldrums of daily life. For others, becoming someone (or something) else was a dangerous, exciting proposition. Say what you will, but D&D is an ingrained part of the lives of many successful people.

And we joke about the passing of Mr. Gygax, as I’m sure he would expect, with classic lines: “I guess he failed his save vs. death!” or “Must’ve run out of HP…”

He’s gone to the great inn in the sky, to relax in front of a roaring fire with elven rangers and Halfling thieves, evil human wizards and paladins of pure heart, mysterious sorcerers and half-orc berzerkers. They will quaff tankards of mead, and recount the glory days of d20s and diamonds, goblins and gold pieces, and the overwhelming happiness that can come from sitting with friends and imagining yourself to far away lands.

Rest in peace, Mr. Gygax.


(July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008)

Solar Energy and My Photosynthetic Shirt

When I was a wee lad, definitely older than 8 but definitely younger than 13, I was at the local state park with my brothers and my dad. It was a bright, sunny day. My dad was doing something with my brothers, and I was just ambling about aimlessly. The sun must have felt very inviting, so I got down on the cement and let it shine on me. I was wearing a black shirt, or at least it was once black. At this point in its life it was more of a dark grey. It had been tie-dyed at some point in its long life, and there was one long streak of white shooting across the front of it like a lightning bolt. In fact, before my mom explained what tie-dye was, I just naturally assumed that it was a depiction of one of Zeus’ messages.

Not the real shirt.

As I lay there upon the cement, I could feel the warmth of the sun entering me, mostly through my shirt. I started to think that I would be able to absorb the energy coming from the sun in the same manner as a solar panel. Granted, my understanding of photovoltaic power back then (as now) was fairly limited. But it was different than that. I knew that my black(ish) shirt would tend to absorb more visible light and, concordantly, heat. The cement was very light, so I would essentially become a tiny island of energy. It made me feel better, and as I played that day in the park, I could swear that I was running on solar.

There’s a lot of sun in Colorado; perhaps some of my polos are photosynthetic, too. Maybe then I would have a basis for feeling so damn good.

Now if only I could manage energy output. I really need to recharge my iPod.

Par for the Course

These discs are just begging to get thrown in a lake

If there is most assuredly one thing that is missing in this Colorado life, it would be disc golf. Yes, it’s golf, but with Frisbees. Now granted, these Frisbees (or discs, as we call them) weigh upwards of 170 grams and can seriously bust you up if you get hit by them, but the basic premise is the same. Naturally, you can understand more by following this link to a ridiculously underdeveloped Wikipedia page about the sport. DISC GOLF

There was a time where multiple hours every day were spent out on the disc golf course in Aurora, IL. It was usually Jason and I heading out there after work. It presented a perfect opportunity to blow off steam about the day or week, and to plan things like our newspaper. Or, for that matter, all the millions of other outrageous plans that we discussed.

When Captain Ahab was around, he’d come out, too, and we’d laugh and laugh and have REALLY HIGH-LEVEL CONVERSATIONS. I remember the last time that I disced with Ahab, as well as the last time that Jason and I went out to the Lake to throw. It was a week or two before he took off for Central Asia. On both occasions, my game sucked. My discs must have known that they would soon be “put up” for a while. With Jason and Ahab gone, I didn’t have many folks to disc with. I was working for the university, and I knew a bunch of undergrads who played, but of course, they were undergrads.

There was no discing at all during the fall semester; I was actually very busy, so it’s understandable. Drew convinced me to come out a handful of times in the spring, though, and they were mucho rewarding. Again, the golf course served its purpose as a fertile ground for discussion. In those days, it was trying to figure out what would happen in August. (In case you haven’t caught on, I moved to Denver.) And of course there was the blowing off of steam. The course that Drew took me to was in the suburbs a few minutes north along Randall. It was basically cut out of a forest. It did look like they had designed it to do the least amount of damage to the local FOLIAGE, but it must suck to be a tree on a disc golf course. You tend to get smacked…a lot!

Those were great times out there. Sadly, the nearest courses out here are quite far away, even by bike. Once the weather heats up a bit and the ground dries, I’ll make an expedition out to a nearby course. It will be good to get back out there. Maybe I’ll be alone, maybe I’ll have someone to share my thoughts with; it doesn’t matter. I’ll pull out my Champion Firebird chartreuse disc, wind up, and let fly.

I’m expecting to double-bogey every damn hole. And that’s just fine by me.

Equations

I had a chat with Mike today. It’s always good to talk to him for a long time. It gives me a chance to type lots of crazy things and such. He mentioned that his cousin and sister were both twenty-one now. That blew me away. It seems that every week I see or hear something that reminds me how old I really am.

And I know I’m still very young, but I’ve come quite a long way. We’ll see in another year or two how many are left from my class who haven’t “settled” at least a bit. Weird.

The Old Days were, of course, good, but I’m convinced that these days are 1000s of times better. It’s Tim’s theory of XAll days previous + XToday = XAll days previous + 1. It basically states that in terms of happiness and experience, each day equals all other days plus one extra unit of something (not sure what). In this fashion, each day we live is just a little more than the aggregate of what we’ve already lived. Sweet, I guess.

But for now, it’s a question of figuring out how to chart the progress of the 1978 Communist Revolution in Afghanistan. This is not at all easy.

Additionally, things are just peachy.

Since They Wanna Know

In case it hasn’t been gazed upon: http://www.breakaleg.tv/video/2007/7/25/the-pilot-part-1.html – Yes, it’s that good, and it just gets better.

It occurred to me that I should really be listening to more rap. This is, of course, difficult given the recent loss of the ENTIRE COLLECTION of my music. I just happened to hear a few tracks from Obie Trice’s last CD, and it reminded me of just how good he might be. Of course, Eminem tends to attract people like that to him.

I have a thing for underground hip-hop stuff like Bus Driver and many of the Chicago groups, but even mainstream acts tend to surprise. Take Clipse, for instance. “Hell Hath No Fury” was a tour-de-force, and the fact that I heard NPR reviewing it favorably only lends credence to the abilities of Pusha-T and Malice. I present “Ain’t Cha,” which besides making me want to rock back and forth in my seat, also contains this wondrous first verse:

Rugers spare I drapes, baking pies, baking cake
Hustling them E’s and that C’s and that H
While you probably talking frantic on the tape
N***az in the hood ain’t tryna to hear “Man it was a mistake”
To call you a bitch, not a bandit at ya wake
Epitaph reading how much damage you could take
While I’m on the boat with ya bitch, salmon on the plate
I know why you liked her, the head it was great
Loving these bezels sets, change with no space
86 karats, you know how much digging in the planet this could take?
Patent leather BAPEs…Uh, uh! Closet like planet of the BAPE!
Monkey see, monkey do, monkeys following in place
Like I’m living in an episode of Planet of the Apes
You’re watching the evolution of one of rap’s greats
You n***az tryna take my place? Neva happen…

Naturally, some of this might not be exactly as it was meant to be seen, but these lyrics-sets are often heard rather than straight from the group. If you look closely, you can see what I’m talking about. Pusha-T actually raps from the end of the line. And it’s all about the long a sound, of course, but I point special attention to the line about digging. Wow.

Anywho, I’m sure that this track (just like every Clipse song) has something to do with hustling coke. But seriously, this is some good stuff. I end this with a little bit of one of my faves, who managed to absolutely slay one of my other faves on his own track:

Since I’m in a position to talk to these kids and they listen
I ain’t no politician but I’ll kick it with ‘em a minute
Cause see they call me a menace; and if the shoe fits I’ll wear it
But if it don’t, then y’all’ll swallow the truth grin and bear it
Now who’s these king of these rude ludicrous lucrative lyrics
Who could inherit the title, put the youth in hysterics
Usin his music to steer it, sharin his views and his merits
But there’s a huge interference – they’re sayin you shouldn’t hear it
Maybe it’s hatred I spew, maybe it’s food for the spirit
Maybe it’s beautiful music I made for you to just cherish
But I’m debated disputed hated and viewed in America
as a motherfuckin drug addict – like you didn’t experiment?
Now now, that’s when you start to stare at who’s in the mirror
and see yourself as a kid again, and you get embarrased
And I got nothin to do but make you look stupid as parents
You fuckin do-gooders – too bad you couldn’t do good at marriage!
(Ha ha!) And do you have any clue what I had to do to get here I don’t
think you do so stay tuned and keep your ears glued to the stereo
Cause here we go – he’s {*Jigga joint Jigga-chk-Jigga*}
And I’m the sinister, Mr. Kiss-My-Ass it’s just a RENEGADE!

Etruscans

I remember one night when we still had the dining room table set up. This was, of course, before the dining room became the study and the study became the bedroom. We were playing a game of Gin. I like this game; it’s got just enough capacity for aggravation to make it really interesting.

We were drinking pre-mixed Cosmopolitans with SKYY vodka. They were OK, I guess. Jets to Brazil was probably playing in the background, and I know there was some form of incense at work in the air.

Fast forward two years: I’m waking up at 4:40 a.m. and hopping in the shower. After having some toast, a banana, my vitamins, and a glass of tomato juice, I sit down where that dining room table used to be. I spend about half an hour browsing the morning’s news, then slip on a shirt and tie and head out the door to go to the office. It’s cold outside, and my footfalls are a steady clip-clap on the cement leading up to my building.

As I reach the third floor, I pause outside of Room 320. That’s where it all started; where we trace it back.

And nowadays, I think of my times in that building, and the good (and bad) work that I did there. I think of warm nights back on the balcony at the apartment, and of the various move-ins and move-outs that accompanied my time there.

And I smile.

Nunc ubi Regulus aut ubi Romulus aut ubi Remus? Stat Roma pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.

The Gin Game…and Beefeaters, Anyway

Went and saw Paragon Theatre’s production of The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn tonight. I caught the #7 north to 24th and Downing, then just walked over a few blocks. Stopped in to the coffee/ice cream shop to get a cappuccino.

As I sat in the Crossroads Theatre before the show admiring the set (it was really cool), I was struck by a very, very strong wave of something. I’m not sure what it was, but it made me want to rush out to DIA and get on the first flight to Heathrow. I haven’t heard the London Calling for a time, and I guess I just forgot what it felt like. I could feel the sunlight in Kensington Park and the light rain that fell on me in Maida Vale. There was an urge for Strongbow Cider and shawarmas. And for that smiling Romanian girl who worked the Italian Restaurant on Queensway.

As much as I want to go traipsing about the ruins of Persepolis or climbing through the underground cities of Central Anatolia, there’s still that magnetic something calling to me (screaming to me) to come back to the Square Mile, to Portobello Road, to Marble Arch, to Blackfriars, to the Tower, and back to late nights with Adam, Melissa, Matt and all the others.

Quando hominem taedet Londinii, eum taedet vitae.

Old Smells p.2

The Campus Bank today smelled like the home of my Aunt and Uncle in the suburbs back in Illinois. I like that smell; it comes to me far more often than the other old ones. It’s not that it’s particularly comforting or anything, no more so than the others. I just like the thought of the location that the smell evokes, and the knowledge that someday I will return to that house to eat dinner with my Aunt and Uncle and two cousins. They will ask about what I’ve been up to, I will tell them, and then ask them the same. It will be a pleasing time for all involved, I feel.

Homesickness, or for some people, homes-sickness, is a terrible disease. It is best combated by fulfilling the desires that it evokes. Someday I’ll stop a scientist from inventing a drug to cure homesickness. He’ll be like, “This is for the good of humanity!”

And I’ll grab the collar of his lab-coat (while his research minions look on in terror, or confusion) and say, “Mister, maybe you and I might have different ideas of what is ‘good’, but I’m damn sure that humanity would be better off holding on to those feelings.”

Then I’ll roundhouse kick all his test tubes. It’s gonna be awesome. And expensive, because someone’s going to have to replace all the lab equipment, and it is not cheap at all.

Maybe I’ll just stay home that day. It’s not like he’s forcing me to take the pills, right?

Identity (Iteration 1)


What are we to make of intersecting identities? I relate this to a very old Values Council discussion (it happened to be our first in the virtual world, actually). The question was posited, “Why is religious identity such a big damn deal now?” I suppose this ignores questions like, “Has it always been?” or “OH IS IT? I HADN’T NOTICED!”

Anywho, we decided that perhaps the autumn of 1989 provided the fertile ground for its “resurgence,” since when “the Wall fell,” the world ceased to be discussable in terms of Soviet and Free World. Of course, people had been religious during the Cold War, and for thousands of years before that. Probably since forever.

Of course, identity is far more than just one’s vision of ultimate reality. There is tribal allegiance, gender, nationality, some construction of ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, location, socioeconomic background, height, weight, preferred brand of cigarette, language, history (both personal and otherwise), cat-lover or dog-lover or dog-lover-cat-hater, pasta fanatic or gluten-allergic, handicapped or able-bodied or somewhere-in-between, vegan or not, and a whole slew of hyphenated, tongue-in-cheek bits of what constitutes a person.

So what does identity mean nowadays? Can we be sure? Why does it seem important to the level of life-and-death at some times and completely inconsequential at others? Why doesn’t one act as a militant whatever until that point at which being a whatever comes under attack by someone who is explicitly or implicitly not whatever? What does identity mean for us? What does identity mean for me?

As a young undergraduate, I wrote a paper on linguistic diversity wherein I claimed that discourse communities could be both as broad and as narrow as we could possibly conceive, since one’s linguistic identity was a combination of many factors, a handful of which are listed above. Perhaps I was looking too specifically at the subject. Perhaps identity as identity is a worthy topic of discussion. The meta-identifiable bits of what makes humans interesting are what I concern myself with.

That, and what how I’m going to get all my schoolwork done this term without suffering a nervous breakdown.