Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: March, 2013

A Day in the Life

There we were, a band of medieval warriors, magic users and thieves (that was me), looking for adventure. Our dungeon master (this isn’t as kinky as it sounds – just geeky) decided we’d be visiting Metropolis that night. What’s the first thing any young adventurer considers when starting out? Gold, of course.

So there we are in Metropolis. We see a sign that says “bank”, so we take our swords and proceed to hold up the bank. The manager is fearless and resists us. Some idiot in skintight blue tights and a red cape flies into the building (flies? Neat! What kind of magic spell or amulet does he have that we don’t?) He lands directly in front of our leader and tells us to cease and desist. Needless to say, we young adventurers have little (if any) respect for authoritarian figures, so we tell him where he can stick his cape.

Our leader, Jim, a warrior, pulls out his enchanted sword. (Game note for non-players: a vorpal sword (ref is Lewis Carroll) is a magic blade. Two 20-sided dice are rolled to determine the percentage chance that it does damage – the higher the roll, the more the damage. If you roll 0-0 (called double zero in the game) you get another roll to determine which body part is severed. 9-5 or above on the second roll (you call which die is the 10-die before rolling) means that you’ve lopped off the opponent’s head.) Anyway, to make a long story short, the dude taps the side of his neck and dares us to swing. His bad. Jim swings at the dude in the tights and, you guessed it, rolls a 0-0. On his second roll, he rolls 9-7.

We pick up the head for a souvenir and demand the bank’s contents. They hand us paper. We medieval types are extremely disgruntled and demand good metal. They empty the tills (wondering what kind of idiots we are). We are really put out now, and demand GOLD! A stuttering cashier points to a pawn shop across the street and says that gold is there. We leave.

We proceed to accost the pawnshop manager. He puts on a brave front. He says, “I’m not afraid. Superman will stop your weapons before they can harm me!” Thoroughly puzzled, we ask “who’s Superman?” Remember, we’re strangers here. He explains that Superman stands for truth, justice and the American way, wears blue tights and a red cape and will be here any second. Reaching into our sack, we pull out the head we just collected and ask “oh! You mean him?” After the clerk passes out, the reign of terror in Metropolis lasts for days. Takes all the world’s superheroes to get rid of us.

And you thought I was a nice, normal lawyer.

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Resistance is Futile!

With the Passover/Easter season on us, I will take this opportunity to become an equal-opportunity heretic. This way, I don’t offend one particular group – I offend everyone!

There are a lot of biblical references that make it clear that certain villains were set up, framed, to guarantee a certain outcome. Prime example: “Pharoah’s heart was hardened and he refused to let the Israelites leave”. Frame-up if ever I heard one. Did Pharoah have a choice? No. He was an example, to be used to demonstrate that resistance was futile. And to provide an opportunity for a spectacular display of the consequences of resistance.

What about the poor charioteers caught in the deluge? Did they have a choice? Another example of resistance is futile.

My two prime candidates come later in the story. Pontius Pilate was, by Roman accounts, an able and consciencious administrator. The records of his promotions and commendations still exist. He was, however, placed in a no-win situation on one Thursday in early spring. Picture what you would have done with Rome on your back insisting that you keep the peace in this outlying province, and with a bloodthirsty rabble out for your outnumbered garrison on the other hand. Not a pretty picture, and he played the hand he was dealt. Granted, history would have taken a significantly different route if he hadn’t acted as he did, but his hand was essentially forced.

Lastly, misunderstood and disrespected Judas. A more maligned pawn history has never seen. He had his part to play, and resistance would have been futile. Another frame-up to ensure that history ran in a certain direction.

Safety Alert

Call this a Public Service Announcement.

With spring and summer hopefully on the way, something that most people don’t think about: aerosol cans.
Do NOT, under any circumstances, ever, ever, ever, toss an aerosol can into an open flame. Do not use an aerosol near an open flame.  The picture below is not appetizing, but my friend is a visual reminder of what can happen. (And that’s after a  trip to the emergency room and stitches.)  Do not burn trash without being sure that there are no aerosol cans in the pile.

aerosol

An inch or two either way and this person could have lost teeth or an eye. A really close call, and the person wasn’t even aware that there was an aerosol can in the trash.

Time Rushes Past

Writing a previous post, As Time Goes By, just kicked in a reality-check freak-out. I was doing some random associations while working out, and thought about the hit tv series The Big Bang Theory. I mused on how into Dungeons & Dragons these guys were, and bemoaned the fact that they were using computer-generated adventures instead of using their wits.

When we played Dungeons & Dragons, our equipment consisted of three little mimeographed (not copied, mimeographed) pamphlets and a handful of multi-sided dice. The Dungeon Master drew on graph paper and made up adventures out of his or her head. No computers (this was in the age of the dinosaur before computers), no ready-made games, no animatronics. We had weekly meetings at one another’s houses (my mother called it the floating crap (not craps) game) and the game would frequently run into Sunday morning. The group had started sponsored by my high school physics teacher, had morphed into post-graduate membership, and then started acquiring high-school students (munchkins), junior high students (mini-munchkins), and their younger siblings (micromunchkins).

Then it hit me. Assuming that the young men on The Big Bang Theory are in their early 30s, these guys were not even alive when we were playing. They weren’t even old enough to be micromunchkins. I am old enough to be the mother of the characters on that show!!! Eeeeeeek. But I still love the game – and the show.

Birthday Wishes

 

Happy birthday wishes to my sister (in the middle)

Khartoum

and to my best friend Moses.

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As Time Goes By

How many opportunities have escaped us because we were too busy, too naive, too oblivious to notice them knocking? Couple of items come to mind:

I’ve been watching the CNN series about the Cold War (all 20+ episodes) in sequence, primarily because my Mother appears as one of the commentators, but also to bone up on Cold War history. I lived through most of the Cold War with parents who were hip-deep in the political goings-on, and took it for granted that because my parents were involved, there would eventually be a happy ending. The realities didn’t sink in until I started really paying attention to all the events that had once been discussed at our dinner table and went right over my teenage head …. I also hadn’t realized how important were the folks who used to show up at our dinner table … one of these “if I had known then what I know now ….” moments. Days. Years. Oh the questions I would have like to have asked. Probably wouldn’t have received answers, but still ….

Another anecdote: I spent a lot of time in late evenings in college sitting on the floor of the commons room listening to a friend of mine and a friend of hers playing piano and improvising music. The piano was a spectacular Steinway grand, and I found a corner where I could watch their pedal work. It was the finest piano on campus. The man always had a cigar in his mouth, and they played folk and hillbilly tunes that I’d never heard and really enjoyed. They’d play a few bars, then have a conference and play them a bit differently. As long as I was quiet and stayed in my corner, nobody noticed I was there and I could savor this treat. I was incredibly young and naive, and the name Jim Croce did not register for me – for another 15 years. Again, rats ….

I spent the holidays on a cruise where I’d hear people complain about the lack of familiar food or groomed sidewalks in places that have stood for thousands of years. Enjoy and absorb and learn from the present – don’t let it get away from you because you have other things on your mind or worse, don’t care.

Happy Appy

ShadowJust found this in an old album.

Tribute to a beloved friend. It’s been a while, but Shadow remains in our hearts.  And no, Bill never had to wear a shirt with “Dancing Queen” on the chest pocket!

Casanova Prep

What’s the first lesson any Casanova-in-training learns about the fine art of picking up girls? Simple: you have to go where the girls are. No girls, no success.

I learned this early on in my show management career; in order to get jump crew volunteers, appeal to the local Boy Scout troop and offer them teenage girls in skintight pants. No brag, just fact. Lots of teenage girls in skintight pants at hunter shows. Anyone care to debate that? Turn-out by Boy Scouts was significant, and they volunteered to come back the next year. Score!

This weekend, whole new set of ideas. Roadster ponies. Not only do you get to drive one of these little speed-demons real – real – real – fast (that’s the whole point of roadster ponies), you get to dress up like a jockey to do it. If you can actually ride, you can even ride these four-legged hotrods really, really fast. Combine driving an incredible hotrod before you can even get a license with swarms of – again – teenage girls in tight pants and beauty queen make-up (my first Saddleseat show), it should be the happy hunting grounds for adolescent boys! Oddly (or maybe not oddly) enough, all the juvenile roadster pony drivers were boys.

roadster

Photo credit: Heather Moreton-Abounader Photography / Foter.com / CC BY

Global Oddities

You know the world is getting smaller when this appears on a back alley in Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Tenerife 2012 006

And you know the locals know how to make the most of their surroundings when they build their trade stalls out of volcanic rock – with the cactus still attached. Also Tenerife.

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This was Christmas morning and 85 degrees.

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A Brave New World!

I spent last weekend doing something I haven’t done in years: I attended a saddle-seat show! For non-horse folk, Saddle Horses are not just horses that wear a saddle – they are a specifically American breed of horse designed as plantation transportation and hotrodding in the Deep South in the days before motorized hotrods.

let em rack

Speaking of which – the juvenile (that is, child) riders and drivers of roadster ponies had to be seen to be believed. They are got up in jockey silks and those little ponies can cover ground. You’re not old enough to drive a hotrod with a motor? Talk mom and dad into a roadster pony and let ‘er rip! Wow those little demons are fast!

Anyway, I attended this particular show to support a friend who was making her debut in a different world. For us dance folk, it’s like spending a life-time in tap, and switching suddenly to ballroom. Same feet, but totally different world. She didn’t realize, when she bought into this, that saddleseat is very much into appearances. I think she last wore make-up on the day she was married.

Paid off though! This is the stance of a blue-ribbon winner! Well done.

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