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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Release the Weasel

(Part One)

Release was an actual weasel, played by my daughter.  The character was rolled as a familiar for her brother's character, a slaadi (Bud) with a three-word vocabulary.  As neither character had an Int score over 6, it was a tossup as to who was actually a familiar to whom.  I was playing a rogue who owned six pokemon (did I mention this was a homebrew?).  I don't remember anyone else's characters.

The party is exploring a tower that seems to run on half-magic and half-tech, and we've discovered a complex pattern at the basement level.  We believe that it is intended for teleportation and most of us are discussing it amongst ourselves and completely ignoring Release and Bud.  Meanwhile...

Release:  I use my Detect Magic ability.

DM:  Oh yes, it's VERY magical.

Release:  Oooh, Bud, it's shiny!

Bud:  (nodding) Wise.

Release:  I want to take it with me.  I get out my portable hole.

DM:  It's larger than the hole, and firmly attached to the floor.  That probably won't work.

Release:  I don't care.  I'm getting the hole out and unfolding it.

Bud:  Er...

Release:  Unfolding it very slowly...

DM:  It's definitely not big enough to cover the whole pattern.

Release:  I move to the very edge to try to cover as much of it as I can...

Bud:  Er...

DM:  Are you sure you want to do this?

Release:  Yes!  I put the portable hole over the pattern!

DM:  Okay, roll.

Release:  20!  Natural 20!

Several other players, far too late:  Wait, you're doing what?

DM:  You capture a significant part of the magical pattern with the portable hole.  Everybody roll saves.

Everybody failed.  The pattern gave up its magic in an explosion of nuclear levels.  The entire party died.  Everyone in the city died.  This was one of our DM's few TPKs.

(Part Two)

Our campaign included an area called Wight Island, populated mainly by (you guessed it) wights.  Every permadeath character ended up as a resident of Wight Island.  A different party (I don't remember who played what) is on a mission to retrieve a seed from a tree which only grows on this particular island, when whom do they encounter?

DM:  You all see the ghostly figure of... a weasel.

Me:  No!  It couldn't be... Release!

Cleric:  Who the hell is Release?

Me:  Release the Weasel!  She's a legend!  They say she destroyed the sixth city of Armenolos!

Cleric:  Single-handedly?  How the heck did you die, weasel?

Release:  I put a portable hole over a pattern.

Upon hearing this the entire party (and a few nearby wights) bust out laughing at the weasel wight.

Release:  Hey!  Punks!  Don't laugh at me!  I got it, see?

Release pulls the piece of pattern out of a ghostly portable hole.

DM:  Everybody make a saving throw.

Wight Island was destroyed in a ghostly yet still extremely powerful magical explosion.  The entire party died.  Every wight was killed.

Thus my 8-year-old daughter wiped out two entire parties and two main features of her mom's game, with one low-intelligence character and a portable hole.

If any players from those two games reads this and wants to correct my memory, please feel free.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Review: The Hate U Give

I felt, listening to this story, guided through a world that I could never experience on my own. Angie Thomas's skilled storytelling believably led me through both the gated community and the gangster-ridden part of what could be any city in the USA. Starr's life spans both these worlds, but rather than bridging them, she feels split between the two.

My guide on this journey, Bahni Turpin, gave such wonderfully realistic voice to each character. I'll be watching for her work, too.

The story itself is a reflection of daily headlines all across the country. Thomas takes us into the reality of living it, seen through one young girl's eyes. Starr must deal with tragedy and trauma, as she attempts to reconcile her two worlds - her two selves - and to become whole.

Is this a sad story? You bet it is. But it's also filled with humanity, speckled with funny bits, lit with just enough hope to bleed through to our world, too.

It's also incredibly important.  I'd go so far to say, it's so important that everyone should read this.  I'm an old white man, and  I believe every old white man should read this book.  Everyone, of every demographic.  We all need to understand what is going on, and Angie Thomas, through Starr, can help us do it.  

Without hate.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stage Presence

Directors and other actors have told me that I have good "stage presence." I think they mean that I have good posture.

In the book, "The Warlock In Spite Of Himself," Christopher Stasheff wrote, "Put tights and a cape on a man, and he begins to strut." Having already spent a couple of years in the SCA, I had to agree.

From that day forward, whenever I wanted a boost of confidence, and to straighten my posture, I imagine wearing a cape and tights.

Psychologists have noticed that people gain a confidence boost, and a slight immunity to pain, by striking a "superhero pose:"  legs slightly more than shoulder-width apart, hands balled into fists, which are placed firmly on hips.  Chest our, shoulders back, chin up.

Terry Pratchett's character, Tiffany Aching, is given a virtual witch's hat by Granny Weatherwax.  She can't see the hat, but she knows when she's wearing it.

The point of all this is, you can psych yourself up, and it works.  

Put on that invisible cape.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I Want A Glaive

My D&D group, stationed in Korea, has just watched the newly-released movie "Krull," and the guy playing the fighter is going gaga over the magical weapon featured in the film.  On the way out of the theater, he's badgering the DM.  This entire conversation is OOC.

[FIGHTER]  I want a Glaive!

[DM]  You're not proficient in polearm.

[FIGHTER] No, you know what I mean.  I want the large, flaring shirukin thing from the movie.  (He mimes throwing said weapon). ScreeeOWW!

[DM]  So let me get this straight.  You want me to give you a throwing star with five dagger blades, each of them about eight inches long, that will boomerang back to you whenever you miss?  And you don't see any downside to this?

[FIGHTER]  Hell yeah!  RAWR!

[DM]  You know you're going to lose half your fingers.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Princess Leia's Theme

Back in 1977, lo these many years ago, I bought a read an article in a Star Wars fanzine that lamented the plethora of off-shoot poorly-created fan work.  I don't recall much about the article - heck, maybe it was just a letter from a reader.  But I do recall that the writer bemoaned that "it won't be long before someone writes the words to Princess Leia's Theme."

And I thought, why the hell not?  And proceeded to do just that.

I'm going to share that with you, but don't get your hopes up - I mean, this is a 40-year old poem written by a 15-year-old boy pretending to understand a Princess' pov.  But first, a brief rant.

Why would anyone feel the need to put down fan endeavors?  It seems that this attitude has been around forever.  I applaud those I see speaking up against it lately - back then, it was all too easy to give up.  I shared this bit of doggerel with my best friend and then hid it.  I shared it with my wife and then hid it.  I don't even recall if I've shared it with my children yet.  Even now, I've no idea if I have the the right to presume.

But I'm sharing it anyway.  Because, if for no other reason, it's the only tribute I have for Carrie Fisher.  It's the only thank-you I have for other brave creators out there.  Nobody has to like it.  But I'm not sorry I wrote it.  I'm only sorry I didn't share it sooner.


When life is lost
By someone who's near
It hurts so much;
The price is too dear.
I must forget,
So painful to do.
I don't want to love,
Yet I want to love you.

We must go on,
Keep fighting or die.
Lives will be lost.
It won't help to cry.
There won't be time
For love 'till we're through
But if I could love
Then I would love you.

I'll raise my head.
I won't let them know
What a Princess feels.
Those feelings can't show.
I've built my walls.
I can't let you through.
I wish I could love
So I could  love you.

(you know, to the best of my knowledge, no one else ever wrote lyrics.  if they did, those are probably better.  if anyone wants to record these, though, i'd love to hear it)

(Oh, yeah... copyright John L. Payton)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top 30 Pedlarisms

While grating cheese for tonight's pizza meal, my hand slipped and I nearly included some knuckle-skin with the mozzarella.  This got me to thinking about the Pedlarisms, which have not crossed my mind in years.

Our 2001 production of Apology for a Pedlar was, as far as I know, the last stage production of Rodney Whitaker's thesis work.  Whitaker went on to publish several best-sellers under the pen name Trevanian, but Pedlar he published as Nicholas Seare.  I loved this book in college, and when we got the chance to put it on stage I jumped for it.  Robin directed, even though I was originally slated for that job, because we needed more men on stage than we had, and I hate the idea of directing and acting at the same time.

Our Pedlar had some trouble with the lines, which was rather unfortunate considering that the character is primarily described as a wordsmith.  His words are supposed to roll trippingly from the tongue, but often he'd trip over them instead.

In spite of the obstacles, and a few sour memories, I'd love to do this show again.  I think that my agreement with Whitaker would allow it.

My good friend Gus, who played Rapin (the seneschal of the castle) compiled the following list of verbal blunders, which I now share with you.


Here is, I think, the final list of Pedlarism from the 2001 production of
"Apology for a Pedlar." While some of these were deliberate screw-ups
committed during the brush-up rehearsal (a hallmark tradition of Act II),
most were entirely unintentional.

Very few of these made it to production, just enough to add a special taste
of fear to each night's performance.

Let me know if you think I should cc Trevanian - or even Act II - on this.
I'm sorely tempted on both counts.

And now, the top 30 Pedlarisms of 2001:

30. (Pedlar) "You're, like, some old bone croasting about a chastity belt"

29. (Thane) "I'll even throw in the peasant girl...for free"

28. (Thane) "...I'll sign the place right over to you..." (Then Rapin) "Piss off!"

27. (Pedlar) "Pray all abjure of pishing"

26. (Rapin) "To beat this rascal from the castle" "...with the pestle from the vessel...or the flagon with the dragon..."  "who has the next line?"

25. (Pedlar) "Thanks for the memories"

24. (Rapin) "Book 'im Festrel"

23. (Rapin) "I am sorry I heartily offended thee and I..."

22. (Pedlar) "Do you really want this cr-crep-crapusc-carpulent...What the hell does that mean, anyway?"

21. (Pedlar) "There's a girl upstairs, if you're of that inclination."

20. (Pedlar) "Don't get me wrong. I kinda admire you stickin' to your principles like that."

19. (Thane) "That doesn't prevent his name from being Eon."

18. (Thane) "I think you're cracked as a hooer's hymen."

17. (Thane) "It's praying and breastfeeding for me."

16. (Thane) "the sauce of our sadness...the cause of our lamentatious ah-nit-alls..."

15. (Pedlar) "Not diseased, madam, but...sick....to be sure..."

14. (several cast) "Uh...yeah...OK...whatever...."

13. (Pedlar) "And he, having waddled through life with careless steps..."

12. (Pedar) "It's no good leaving more nipple-skin on that greedy door."

11. (Pedlar) "I shall sing to lighten the spirits that have been amused within these walls."

10. (Pedlar) "Unclattered fools!"

9. (Kipance) "'Tis a difficult leader for a peasant step to take..."

8. (Mistress) "Now see here, Pedlar...er...you're a minstrel, aren't you?"

7. (Kipance) "Make sure the sword with which I am blunted is well-knighted."

6. (Pedlar) "Even now the clap is reaching the rim of the midnight bell."

5. (Pedlar) "We won't tribble over quifles." "No, wait...We won't...tribble over quifles."

4. (Pedlar) "The burden of the frau is upon us."

3. (Pedlar) "Wipe the furrowed ashes from your brows!"

2. (Pedlar) "I piddle and spin....diddle and spit...oh, damn..."

And the number one Pedlarism of 2001 is still:

1. (Pedlar) "Rapists will demand precedence over his diddler."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ginger Chicken

Haven't made this since my last trip to Rockaway Beach.  That was an accidental recipe -- I'd intended to use garlic and put in ginger by mistake.  I kept adding more and more, wondering why I was getting no garlic flavor.  By the time I figured it out, the tube was nearly empty.

My daughter asked for the same meal this week.  Here's what I put together from memory.

  • One tube of "fresh ginger."  They are in the refrigerated part of the produce section.  
  • About 3 lbs of chicken.  I used thigh meat, next time I'm using breast meat.
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 24 oz sugar snap pea pods
  • 16 oz portabella mushrooms
  • 36 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz parmesan cheese 

I used my large stew pot for this, it's about a 6 qt pot, because I'm lazy and like one-pot meals.

Melt half the butter with the onion and garlic.  Start the mushrooms soaking in water and white vinegar.  Cut the chicken into strips.

Add the chicken and stir-fry.  Add the turmeric, bouillon, and ginger.

Rinse the mushrooms and cut into large pieces.  Add these and the snap peas.  Cut the remaining butter into pats on top.  Cover and steam until the butter melts.

Add the cream cheese, lower the heat to simmer for about 10-15 minutes to soften.

Stir until smooth.  Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 8 or maybe more.  Yes, I cook with the intent of leftovers.  Cut it back if you don't like this.