Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hanging the hat in new places.

It has been a rough couple of months. At work, there has not only been the Day-to-Day grind of having to be someplace to get money for so many hours (plus), but pissing against other healthcare sorts, including other paramedics, as well as nurses and a doctor here and there, who seem to think that I am inclined to listening to what would make their jobs easier as opposed to doing my job correctly. On top of that, there has been an inordinate amount of heart attacks cropping up here and there of guys in their 40's and 50's, both at work as well as in the media. Besides my good imp whispering in my ear, "Thou art mortal, oh Caesar." it's been a bit wearing on the soul. Breaks have been needed.

So to break my morass, I "escaped." Flavia and I found a new Hike-and-Bike trail where we could walk from our neighborhood to the suburban cinema mega-plex to have dinner and watch the Hulk. Found quite a few hidden gardens along the polluted Cuyahoga River worthy of repeat visits. I started playtesting my RuinCrawl and WHAP! game systems once again in chatrooms whenever possible. A large amount of fantasy literature has been being deposited in our mail box as well. Finally, this last weekend was the first of the Summer conventions that we'd take, Origins in Columbus.

The last time I attended Origins, it was in the 80's just north of Detroit. For some reason, mostly because of emails between me and the organizers, I have been reluctant to attend since my departure from the Army and the granting of enough freetime to start my adventure gaming exploits in earnest. Even when Ken St. Andre asked me to come, I'd only mumble something about clipboards and over-zealous event directors. But this year we took a chance. Luckily, it was just what the doctor, the figurative one, ordered.

The two robins, Flavia and Caed, and I, showed up to the convention center around 4:30pm, Friday. We meet Mandy-B and her husband Steppenwulf while I was buying a new shirt-- I've noticed I am wearing two shirts in the blogs here over the past year. From there we found a delightful pub called Barleys. Ken St. Andre and his son, Corencio, met us there for dinner. Ken charmed us all with tales of his exploits at the convention so far, and I prompted a somewhat shy Corencio into telling the rest of us about himself. Mandy-B and I mockingly argued the benefits of a History degree. Caed and Flavia made sub-audible comments which had everyone at the table except me laughing. For some reason, I suspect I was the butt of these jokes. Oddly enough I was very comfortable and relaxed.

After coffee we went over to see Mandy-B and Steppenwulf play Cthulhu Smurf. I had barely located the two when Ken got me drawn into Cthulhu over Sesame Street. The designer of Stormbringer the RPG fame, played Grover, AKA SUPER-Grover; his son played Count Von Count; while I played Herry, one of the original Sesame Street 'Blues Brothers.' A guy wanting to be called "Joe" played Ernie, and a woman named Angie, played Prairie Dawn. Another fellow played Cookie Monster of course, what Sesame Street scenario would be complete without this old sock. Oh yeah the Blues Brothers of Sesame Street consisted of Grover, Cookie Monster, and Herry. Angie did the best work, as she brought Prairie Dawn alive, despite the character's rather limited role. The GM, Earl, did a great Lovecraftian-yarn as well as "re-envisioned" Sesame Street. I had a good time and co-won "role-player" of the game, along with Joe's Ernie. Really we both had it easy. Corencio came up with the best one-liner of the game, "Mister Elmo, you haff some ecksschplaining to do..." It was a hoot. The Cthulhu-variants were offered up by Amorphous Blob Games. Pretty decent outfit, they run a good gathering. The crowds were not as massive as at GenCon , but the convention is right up there in standards and quality.

After midnight, the two robins and I ran into Rook, who we met at Con on the Cob last November, and have since played at his house on various occasions. After a couple of drinks, Caed made me take us all back to our parked cars, where she slipped off, as she always does, to attend to the demands of her family. Flavia and I read a bit and went to bed fairly happy.

On Staurday, Flavia and I had a fairly early start. We played Lost Worlds with Ken and his hat. I even got a chance to run his Lost Worlds show table for a family for all of 10 minutes. We then lost Ken to a Shadow Fists tournament, so we strolled the Dealers' Room. After buying too many great items we had dinner with Rook. Ken, it seems found Col. Zocchi to have dinner with and would spurn us, his faithful fans, for the rest of the night. Sawright though, we played Rook's introductory adventure for 4th ed. D&D. Steppanwulf helped us finish up the scenario, while Mandy-B was off hooting with the Amorphous Blob guys again. Ended the night with a rendition of Duran Duran's "Rio" at the Hyatt's (I think) bar, with Rook and two new friends, which he introduced us to. For lack of better names, let's call them B-Singer and Mister M-. .

Maybe because I was participating more so than running events, but while I noticed that there isn't as many bells and whistles as GenCon, the various gamer organizations are very welcoming. I've had about 200 conversations just by standing next to this or that clump of people. That said we're going to run adventures next year at Origins. It's a great event and less than a quarter tank of gas away.

The height of Summer is finding me more than fulfilled. The UEFA Cup dazzled me. The walking is helping me get a bit healthier (read skinnier). And the various conventions lighten up my soul to face the future with calm as well as bravery. Life is good, perhaps I can get out some decent fiction here and there on top of everything. And I still need to find me one of them hats.

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