Outrageous Axe¹

AXE

Being the retired guy, I have way too much time on my hands. After taking a five-mile, two-hour, with coffee breaks, leisurely stroll, I sat down in front of the computer, with lunch and promptly lost my soul to YouTube. Dave always warned me about doing this. The object of my online quest was Dungeons and Dragons or D&D fan fiction. The impetus for this search were Karen’s D&D cat videos that she regularly retweets. They’re a guilty pleasure and I love them, but what else is an internet for other than silly cat videos? The videos that I watched had no cats in them, except one and there it had a critical roll.

Universally, this live action roll-playing fan fiction plays the people who play D&D for laughs, using the travails of the game to expose the foibles of their human nature. Often the title of these series highlight the naivety or ineptness of their characters, with cute in-game references like, One Hit Die² or 1 For All³. One of the fathers of this genre is the movie, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising.

In the theatrically released movie, The Gamers, we get to see the actors play both their characters and their character’s players. Their personalities bleed across the player character-player divide. Released in 2008, its writing, acting, and production values are all second rate, but for lovers of the game, its humor is to die for. I especially enjoyed the opening encounter with the goblins that starts around minute 25, where the newbie woman fighter demonstrates her better understanding of the game’s mechanics than her male party members.

  1. A weapon with a bonus to hit and do damage, but at a charisma penalty. 
  2. Implying first-level or inexperienced players that can only take one hit die worth of damage before death. Higher level characters have more hit die.
  3. In D&D a twenty sided die is used for skill checks and saving throws. A roll of 20 is a critical success. A roll of 1 is a critical failure. Roll to save!

Eagle Scout

Ethan, our next door neighbor, was inducted as an Eagle Scout today. We’ve known Ethan all of his life and it seems almost like yesterday that he was just a little kid playing in his backyard. Now, he is a young man. Anne and I attended his induction ceremony this afternoon. Ethan is a bright young person and hard working too. He exemplifies all the virtues that an Eagle Scout should have. His parents, Arthur and Caroline were rightfully and visibly proud of their son.

Ethan had earned 49 merit badges, more than twice the number required for Eagle Scout. His Eagle Scout project was the design and construction of a garden swing and tiny free lending library. They were installed at ECC, where Anne is currently teaching. Just this week she observed three little girls, who would borrow books from the little library and then read them while swinging. 

Ethan’s induction ceremony was held at the Maplewood Methodist Church, where our neighbors attend Sunday services. This church also served as a location for several scenes in the 2009 George Clooney movie, Up in the Air. In this movie Clooney plays a man whose job is to fire other people. Companies would hire such a person to handle their layoffs and if you recall, 2009 was a booming year for this kind of business. The front of the church was used as the site where Clooney’s character attends a family wedding. The wedding was supposed to take place during the winter in Wisconsin, this being Saint Louis though there was none of the proscribed snow for an exterior shot. Instead a white plastic sheet was laid across the green lawn and dirt that had been spray painted white was added for texture. We spoke to the pastor who had been in attendance back then. The event had made a lasting impression on her.

Silver Sneakers

Apolo Ohno’s Silver Speed Skates, 2002

Yea I know, they are not exactly sneakers, but they are silver. Silver Sneakers is a fitness program that we get through our Medicare coverage. I exercised this benefit for the first time today. The Heights is our local community center and I worked out in its gym for an hour. The Heights is currently undergoing a major renovation. The pool, track, basketball court and locker rooms are all closed, but the weight room is still open and I used the machines there. I mainly used the tread mills, but also some of the weight machines. Being my first visit, I tried to take it easy, expecting to get muscle soreness no matter what. Construction is scheduled to be completed early next year. During my mid-morning visit most of the other patrons looked like they were also Silver Sneakers members. This program allows us access to many other fitness centers too. I think next time I’ll tryout the nearby YMCA. It has a pool, which is probably not closed. I hope that working out this winter will help with my health and fitness next year.

I’ve watched a movie, Brittany Runs a Marathon (Amazon Prime) that tells the story of a young woman who turns her life around as she prepares to run the NYC marathon. Based on a true story, Brittany is an overweight party animal who is starting to get health warnings from her doctor. She starts small, barely running a city block, but persevering through many setbacks and with the help of her friends eventually finds herself lining up on the day-of-days at the starting line of the NYC marathon. Throughout the movie Brittany struggles with her own self image, always being her worst critic, often self destructively. In the end the movie is inspirational, offering a path forward, by following in her footsteps.

A Proposition

Candidate Amethyst Rock Replacement

Dear beach bums—I have a proposition for you. I propose that we substitute the old Amethyst Rock down at the Doelle end of the beach, with the above bauble. You can’t really tell by the photo, but they are about the same size. Now I understand that in its current form, it would be a bit difficult to stand on, at least barefoot. Its sharp crystals would surely hurt, but hear me out. We can leave the original Amethyst Rock where it is and you, “traditionalists”, can continue to march down the beach and commune with it, as you always have. In the meantime, we’ll just set this new one up in front of the cabin. I figure that in a few years, wind, wave and water will smooth its exterior to the smoothest finish of purple beach glass that you have ever seen. And because it will be right in front of the cabin, when were all old and doddering, it will still be accessible, as they say. Are you on board with this plan? Good!

Now there is just one little teensy-weensy other thing. This Amethyst Rock is currently located in the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, in its Minerals and Gems gallery. Woah there, it’s not like it is in the same room as the Hope Diamond, so don’t get your panties all in a bunch. I’m sure that it’s not that well-guarded. With your help, I’m sure that we could pull this little caper off. I know what you are thinking. He goes off to DC, without any adult supervision and this is what he comes up with. While that may be true, it is not entirely my own idea. Before I went to Natural History, I was in the National Archive. Have you ever seen the movie, National Treasure?

In this movie, Nichols Cage steals the Declaration on Independence. It is all part of an elaborate scavenger hunt. He is trying to find the treasure of the Knights Templar, who the Founding Fathers hid, because they were all Free Masons. Clear? Anyway, he has to steal the Declaration on Independence, because the next set of clues are secretly written on its back. Once stolen, he then has to Q-tip lemon juice on to it to make the invisible ink reappear. I guess by now, I should have told you to suspend your disbelief at the door. Anyway, it all works out, he finds the treasure, get the girl and the document in question is not too worse for wear. Except when I viewed it today, it looked horrible. About all that you could still read is, “In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776”, “The unanimous Declaration […] States of America,” and “John Hancock”. I don’t think Nick Cage is all that responsible for this deterioration.

As I was waiting in line to get in, I got to eavesdrop on the spiel of a private tour guide that the family in line before me had hired. He was good and apparently our forefathers were not. Or at least they were none too kind to the Declaration on Independence. In 1823 President John Quincy Adams ordered 200 copies of the document to be printed. The printer used a wet-ink transfer process, where the surface of the document was moistened, and some of the original ink transferred to the surface of a copper plate, which was then etched so that copies could be run off the plate on a press. Then for 35 years the original document was displayed on a wall in the Patent Office, where it was exposed to sunlight and Washington’s horridly humid summers. If faded badly and now is unreadable, as are the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So, it’s no wonder that Trump behaves as if there is no Constitution—Now, where was I going again?