Archive for June 2012

The Best Goodbye I Ever Had   1 comment

Long, long ago, before Tunnels and Trolls was even a twinkling in my eye, I got my first library job at the Ocotillo Branch Library in South Phoenix. There I learned what it was like to entertain children, and help people do research, and weed a collection, and eventually even how to select books. I learned what it was like to be part of a community, and to promote the public library–far and away the best thing that city governments have ever done for their citizens. And, after a couple of years at Ocotillo I grew ambitious, I got married, and I went away to Tucson, Arizona and the University of Arizona to get my M.L.S. (Master of Library Science) degree. To do that, I had to quit my job, and though I loved that job, I gave it up so that I could advance to bigger and better things in life.

The people at Ocotillo gave me a farewell party, as is frequently done when people leave one job for another. And we had cake and music and good conversation. And for my present they gave me this little booklet made of construction paper and things cut from magazines–something to remember them by. I had nothing to give them, but simply accepted their friendship, and tried to make them laugh.

Going through my papers, I found this old booklet which I hadn’t seen for a long, long time, and thought, I’d share it with the world. This isn’t really about me. It’s about Friendship, and the wonderful friends of the past–all of whom are lost to me now, and some of them are dead. I got my library degree, and I worked for Phoenix Public Library once place or another for some 37 years; I made many more excellent friends, and I miss them now that I’m retired, but there was never a better bunch of good-hearted people than the ones I worked with at the beginning at Ocotillo Library on the poor side of Phoenix.

None of the pictures is an actual picture of the people I worked with, but perhaps it is how they saw themselves, or how they thought I saw them. Sarah was wise and funny and black; Annie was the earth mother; Chris was the romantic blonde, Rachel was the sturdy person ready for anything, Terry was a hot salsa chick, Dick was a crotchety but wise older man who taught me a good deal about being a librarian, Beverly actually was a Navajo Indian–what a marvelous intercultural group we had! Working with the staff at Ocotillo was the best thing that happened to me during the 70s.

Well, it’s not a booklet that I want to throw away, although I imagine it will be discarded when they sort out my stuff when I’m dead, but I’ve put it here as a tribute to those friends of the past. I miss them all.

If your friends ever made a book for you, or even if they didn’t, feel free to leave a comment.

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Columbus, Ohio   3 comments

Part of my plan for keeping myself healthy is walking a lot. Walking is very good for you, even if it does make your feet and back hurt. On the day before we set up for the Origins game convention, I took a walk around downtown Columbus and took the following pictures. Columbus is a beutiful city, and it’s the capitol of Ohio. I’m sure there is a lot of history associated with the things I saw.

Rick Looms and I started the morning by visiting the GAMA headquarters offices in a hotel across the street from the Hyatt and the convention center. Rick had shipped the Flying Buffalo product there, and had to arrange to have it moved over to the convention floor. We got a cart and did that the frollowing day. This pic shows some of the Origins Award-winning games that were on display in the office.

More stuff on display in the GAMA (Game Manufacturers of America) office.

Rick Loomis in his “position of power” in the GAMA office. He is President of the organization this year (and next year till mid-summer anyway). The cardboard boxes to his right contain Tunnels & Trolls merchandise and lots of other stuff that he and I would spend the weekend trying to sell to gamers.

Rick went back to the hotel room at the Drury. I went for a walk in downtown Columbus. My first destination was my favorite building in the city. I call it the Ghostbusters building, although it has another name. It’s almost the tallest building in the city.

Looking downhill toward the Ohio River from High Street, one can see the base of the Leveque Tower and the marquee for the Palace Theater.

Cast your eyes upward from the same viewpoint to see the top of the Leveque Tower.

I thought this was an impressive front door. I think it’s a bank.

This is the statehouse in Columbus. William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, stands out front to welcome visitors. 19th century architecture loved the rotunda look on public buildings. The Arizona Capitol had one too. Pillars are also real popular, and lots of statues.

Looking down (south) HIgh Street I saw this other bizarre old skyscraper with its polygonal geometric design.

The Ohio Capitol Building is surrounded by a large open park-like area with extensive lawns and trees. My guess is this is the Ohio State flag.

I entered the Capitol and found this bust of Lincoln dominating the center of the building.

There was also this gigantic painting.

From the center of the Capitol one can look up about 6 stories to see this stained glass window in the top of the rotunda. Very petty and it makes colored patterns on the floor.

The Ohio State Senate Chambers. The Senate had the day off.

Leaving the Capitol behind, I walked through the rest of the downtown area and then down to the Ohio River. I’ve been to Origins in Columbus about a dozen times now–I forget, but it seems like a lot–and I had never gone as far as the river before.

Walking back north along the river, I saw this really impressive old building on the other side. I asked and someone told me it was a science museum. I would have liked to explore it, but there was a huge river in the way.

Bridge across the Ohio River. I did not walk across it. My feet were starting to get sore.

A small park bordered the river. It contained fishy fountains made of metal and spewing water as well as some big old swings where people could just kick back and watch the river go by.

“If there’s something weird in the neighborhood, who ya gonna call?” When I reached my favorite building I left the river and started climbing back up into the city.

I passed another government building. This turned out to be City Hall, pleasantly located close to the river. Chris Columbus himself stands out front, larger and blacker than life to tell you where you are.

I finally learned the name of my favorite Columbus building. You can look this up on wikipedia and learn that the building was designed to be exactly one foot taller than the Washington Monument–what kind of one-upsmanship was going on here?–but due to a construction error, it’s only 6 inches higher.

There is some very cool old Art Deco art inside the tower as well. I was only permitted to see a little bit of the lobby.

It’s not the Sistine Chapel, but somebody did paint on the ceiling. I wonder how many of these great illos are hidden inside this amazing old building.

As I headed back to the Convention Center I caught this distant glimpse of the city’s central police station. It looks like the kind of place where Commisioner Gordon (of Batman fame) might hang out.

I didn’t really want to get up close and personal with the Ohio Police, but what a bizarre building they have!

Next I moved into the Arena District and found the home ice of the Columbus Blue Jackets–a National Hockey League team. Hockey season was almost over–only the NHL finals were still going when I was there last week. Our Phoenix Coyotes were knocked out of the playoffs for the Western Conference Finals by Los Angeles. I used to be a hockey fan. I’m not any more.

Getting to the end of my walk, I entered the North Market from the west and found the Best of the Wurst.

I try to get into this multi-ethnic marketplace at least once during every visit to Columbus. It is an amazing place full of all kinds of food I would never find in Phoenix.

Later on, during the Origins convention, someone brought me a shwarma sandwich from this market. It was delicious.

Looking at the Market facade from the east side. I love the rooster head inside the letter O.

After a couple of hours of walking, I have returned to the Convention Center. You can see one of the entrances to it on the other side of High Steet.. This concluded my self-guided tour of Columbus, Ohio. For the rest of the week I was busy with the Origins 2012 national gaming convention, and I reported on that in the previous blog.

If you have ever walked around and found anything interesting in Columbus, Ohio, why not leave a comment? What did I miss?

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Origins 2012   4 comments

I spent almost a full week in beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio between May 29 and June 4. The actual game convention was Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Although I took my camera along, I didn’t really take many pictures until the end. Still, let me put some images onscreeen here, and comment, and hope it gives you, dear reader, a feeling for this year’s great Origins convention.

Jherrrii, a member of Trollhalla, was in my first T & T game on Thursday morning. He’s the good-looking guy, but I’m the tall one with a hat.

All four of my T & T sessions were in the Fairfield room in the Hyatt Hotel. Each morning I arrived at 9 a.m. to run a game–noting like a real campaign adventure, since most of the time I was teaching people how to play the game. Still, we covered the basics of how to play in less than an hour most days, and the players were all so good, that they never lost a character.

Feasting in Trollhalla after the adventure. Water, vitamins, and an apple for the trollgod.

I wasn’t too eager to take photos this year. It was Saturday morning before the camera came out again to capture two great roleplayers.

Three members of Trollhalla came to game with me. This handsome gent is Bitt Burrnn–he survived a trip through Dwarf World.

I didn’t actually take any showroom pics until the last day. It occurred to me that I should document the presence of the major exhibitors at the show.

Catalyst Games–I don’t have any of their stuff, but they took up a lot of space and did thousands of demos.

Is this the new Hollywood and Vine?

The Mayflower emblem rose above everything else in the dealer’s hall.

Steve Jackson Games shared a booth with Atlas Games. They were halfway across the hall from the Flying Buffalo booth and I didn’t have to listen to the “Exact Change: chant whenever somebody bought something.

Thunderstone is a deck-building game. Seems to be a popular concept for new games these days–deck building, not thunderstones.

Geek Chic is a furniture shop for the gamer who needs the best equipment money can buy.

Jolly Blackburn, author/artist/creator of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book. He never seems to be out of his comfort zone.

This is Stephanie, the most beautiful vendor at Origins. She taught me how to roll golf dice. I taught her the very basics of roleplaying.

Looney Labs had a minimal presence at Origins. I wonder why.

Leather and lace. Call it Steampunk if you want to–I know fetish behavior when I see it.

Author Michael Stackpole lurked in the back of the Exhibit Hall in the “Library”–a kind of special ghetto for authors of science fiction and fantasy.

Goblins for sale. They don’t look much like Tunnels & Trolls goblins, but they sure were cute . . . and well dressed.

I sure wish Flying Buffalo had the kind of money to put on this kind of a display at Origins.

Ral Partha was once, imho, the greatest name in miniatures. I don’t know how they’re doing these days, but they are still around.

The D20 Girls were new to me this year. But having booth babes to sell your product is always a good gimmick for sales.

These fun folks taught me how to play Fauna–a brilliant board game that teaches about the animals of the world. The game would be a blast for biology class in school, but wasn’t really targetted to the average Origins attendee.

Every year I stop and talk to the exhibitors whose tables are not crowded with would-be buyers and fans. These people are usually in the wrong place. These people are often brilliant and very innovative. I enjoy talking to them, and learning from them, but I pity them, too. Most such games vanish with barely a trace in a year or two.

The first time I went by this booth, there really was a guy with an axe in his head. I brought back a bookmark witht hat phrase in six different languages.

Z-Man used to be one of my favorite companies. Now that they don’t do Shadowfist any more, they have dropped in my estimation, but they still have a lot of great games.

Troll in the Corner is a game store and occasional publisher. I don’t really know them, but I like them.

James helped us out at the Flying Buffalo booth.

This man won the Nuclear War tournament and got a supergerm flashlight for his efforts. This was the front table display at the Flying Buffalo booth–mostly Lost Worlds and Queen’s Blade game books. The T & T stuff was on the side table. as was Nuclear War.

Convention over. Time to break things down, pack up, and hit the trail. Goodbye, Columbus!

At the airport Monday afternoon after the con was over. This is the jet that brought me home.

And now, dear reader, our revels are ended. The tale has been told. Origins 2012 wasn’t very exciting, but it was a good convention for me, and for Flying Buffalo. I got to play T & T four times; I met some wonderful people, and maybe they will become my friends; I saw some old friends like Jolly, and I ate extremely well. I gained 6 pounds in a week. I came back with a couple of games, including a $40 hardback of Arcanis, an rpg that won the Origins award for best rpg of the year. I’ve started reading the rules. I got it autographed by the creators. Good stuff. It’s about 6 weeks till GenCon. Giant game cons are almost more fun than a man should be allowed to have.

Oh, and both Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton were at the con. Wil came by and talked to Rick at the FBI booth. I wasn’t there. I never saw either one of them. Somehow it just feels like they ought to be friends of mine . . . but they aren’t–at least not yet.

If you were at Origins, please add your comments to this blog. As usual, I’ve missed 95% of the con.

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