Within the span of a week, my life took some strange twists and turns. I had some fun, spent time with friends and family, and — by happenstance – lost my job. The last was the part of the week that I didn’t have planned. The Muse Concert in Chicago (on the 12th), had been on my schedule for months. I’d become a fan because Muse is my son’s favorite band. I like their blend of “space rock,” and I also like the lead singer’s connection to history (his father performed the song Telstar).
The concert was fabulous — probably the best performance I’ve ever seen. It was an amazing combination of music, light, and stagecraft all coming together in a thunderous event. It was so good, in fact, that I would have gone back the next day for seconds, if they had been playing anywhere near me. Sadly, they were not. But my son and I had a blast, and I’ll definitely plan to see Muse again — assuming we can get in. (I felt lucky to score tickets for that night.)
A week later, to the day, I was sitting at a table at GaryCon playing Hackmaster with David Kenzer, one of the game’s designers/publishers. HM is a fairly recent offshoot of Dungeons & Dragons, a game I helped popularize 30 years ago. (Has it been that long?) My wife and I were at the con both to play games and too see old friends. The con came through in spades on both fronts. Not only did we get to see the Gygax “kids” – Luke, Ernie, Elise, and Heidi (Sorry I missed you, somehow, Alex!) – and old pals like Frank Mentzer, Jeff Easley, Tom Wham, Jim Ward, and Matt Forbeck (among others), but we also saw some friends I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years — including the original sage from “Sage Advice,” my old friend and B3 cohort, Jean Wells (and her husband Corey). Yow! That would have been worth the price of admission alone.
But wait, there’s more! The gaming was also excellent. We spent so much time schmoozing, that my wife and I only managed one game per day, but each was a corker. Not only did we play Hackmaster, but we also played Dragon Larids with creators Tom Wham & Jim Ward plus Ernie & Luke Gygax and Buck Rogers maven, Flint Dille. By quick calculation, I figured there was 200+ years of gaming experience at that table (with Flint having the least experience). For the record, Ernie won, with me second and Kiff third. Luke was handicapped by having to leave constantly to help run the convention.
We spent Sunday playing D&D, from the magenta & blue sets I helped edit in 1980-81, in a game run by James Mishler. James did a really good article on the history of D&D in the comics (starting with the ads I did with Bill Willingham & Jeff Dee) for the Comic Buyer’s Guide. Wish I had a link for that article; if someone turns one up, let me know. He also ran a teriffic game. It was great fun not only playing but sharing some stories of the “old days” with newer players. Amazingly, I got through the weekend without having any characters killed. You can see pictures of me with Luke & Ernie on my Facebook page, and find a lot of other GaryCon pix on FB as well.
Oh yeah, and somewhere in the middle of all those things, I got fired from my day job. Which is bad for my cash flow, but not for my soul (or my writing & art).
So, what do Muse and D&D have in common? They just happened to be the bookends of a strange and momentous week in my life. They were good bookends, too — helping take the sting out of the less pleasant bit in the middle. May all the tricky weeks in your life turn out as well!