Tag Archives: Mike Diamond


Osama Would Play A Paladin

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Categories: DDO, Gaming, LARP, President Obama, Randomness, RPG, Shadowrun, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I believe in the power of gaming.

By gaming, I mean console and computer gaming as well as pencil and paper role-playing games. To a lesser extent, I would also include board games.

When I look at the impact this hobby has had on my life, it’s a bit overwhelming.

If it weren’t for gaming, I would not have met most of my friends. Specifically, my friend Mike Diamond and I would not have met if it weren’t for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition. (We had an ongoing AD&D2E game that we played in junior high by writing on a desk [in pencil!]. It was play-by-post before there was play-by-post.) Mike and I graduated from from junior high, and graduated from D&D, together. We spent hours playing all kinds of other games: Star Wars, Starfleet Battles, Marvel Super Heroes, Rise of the Dragon (Oh my God, Shandi!), and my favorite RPG of all time, Shadowrun. We still play Shadowrun together, every Saturday night.

Without Vampire: the Masquerade, I would have never met Travis Legge. My friend came from a very different world than I did, but we shared a love of gaming. Travis was the best man at my wedding and we even ran our own game publishing company for a time. We met at a Vampire LARP, but we played plenty of other White Wolf games together: Hunter, Trinity (taint in the Tesser!), Aberrant, Wraith, and one of the most influential games I’ve ever played, Mage.

I met my wife at the same Vampire LARP that I met Travis at. We had seen each other in passing before then, but never really met. Through some boneheaded moves by other people, she ended up playing a character with a direct connection to mine. The time we spent together in-character led to meetings out-of-character, which led to her ending a dysfunctional relationship with her longtime boyfriend and starting a new dysfunctional relationship with me. We’ve been dysfunctional together ever since. Tiffanie and I have played a ton of games together, from D&D3.5 to Zombies. We still play Dungeons & Dragons Online together, when time allows.

The breadth and depth of people you meet through gaming is sometimes astounding. By playing games, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting for hours with a couple of guys from Chile (¿Cómo están, amigos?), been guild-mates with a carny (Luv ya, Bernie!), called people by some strange nicknames (Shaggy and Little Shit top the list, I think), watched someone laugh so hard they puked (indirectly due to gaming: a gaming buddy was over for Bad Movie Night. Blackula + well-placed one-liner = puke!), had the cops question me about “having an orgy in the street” (actually a mob combat in the aforementioned Vampire LARP), and so much more. Gamers have been some of the kindest, friendliest, and most genuine people I’ve ever known.

I don’t want to overstate the point, but games can be powerful tools to bring people together that never would have met or seen eye-to-eye before. Where else can you bring together an atheist with a devout Catholic, a radical feminist with a staunch Republican, a high-school dropout with a graduate student, a teenager with a pensioner, or a cop with a drug dealer? Not only have I seen these disparate people gaming together, I’ve seen them working toward common goals and having fun doing it.

So, here’s my proposal: I’ll run a game. Kim Jong-Il, Osama Bin Laden, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, Hamid Karzai, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, and Omar al-Bashir (along with many others) are invited to play D&D with me some time (3.5: I don’t care for 4E). Perhaps, when they’re faced with the World’s Largest Dungeon, they’ll realize their countries and causes are pretty small. Maybe, when confronted with the alien nature of a great wyrm red dragon, they’ll realize people have more commonalities than differences. Maybe, when they’ve reached level 20 together, they could usher in a new age of peace and prosperity for humanity.
And I bet Osama would play a paladin.


Thanks For The Music

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Categories: Bands & Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It occurs to me that music is a very important part of my life. It also occurs to me that most of the music I listen to and like was introduced to me by someone I know. In the interests of disclosure and acknowledgement, I’d like to share some of my musical tastes and who introduced me to the artist(s) in question. So, without further ado, here’s the riff:

I was introduced to my favorite band of all time, Rush, by my mother. I have some very clear memories as a child listening to “Tom Sawyer” in the car and at home on the stereo. My mom had Moving Pictures on cassette. That tape was listened to so many times that the last time I heard it, there were noticeable pops and crackles on almost every song. I “borrowed” the Moving Pictures cassette for quite a long time. It didn’t occur to me until I was about 16 that the record I loved was released the year I was born. Pretty amazing longevity, don’t you think? Thanks, mom: I owe you big time for holding on to that tape even after Rush stopped being popular.

I’ve never been into what’s popular. I’m sure that’s part of why I hated Nine Inch Nails when I first heard “Closer.” To me it sounded like some strange white-boy rap. At the time, I was into grunge rock still, listening to a lot of Nirvana and Soundgarden. Then my friend, Toy Cesar, made me a tape of some Nirvana B-sides. To fill up the blank space on the cassette, he included some tracks from NIN’s Broken EP. I heard “Last” and I was hooked. Thanks for not being wasteful with cassette tape, Toy: The Downward Spiral was my salvation when I broke up with my first true love a year later.

Speaking of my first true love, Mary Richards (née Watson) introduced me to Tori Amos (quite literally, I was completely star-struck and speechless when we met Tori backstage outside the Coronado). Little Earthquakes remains one of my favorite albums of all time and every time I hear the song with the same name, I’m reminded of one of my first messy and awkward teenage romances. Thanks, Mary, for introducing me to one of the most beautiful artists ever.

My wife, Tiffanie, is also a beautiful artist, albeit of a different sort than Tori Amos. Tiff has gotten me listening to quite a few musicians I probably wouldn’t have found without her intervention. Marilyn Manson, Deftones, and Orgy are just a few of the groups that she’s introduced me to over the years. The most recent band to join my clique of acts I enjoy is Stabbing Westward. Their record, Wither Blister Burn and Peel, is emotionally disturbing industrial at its finest. Thanks, babe, for challenging me to push my boundaries, both in music and in life.

Some music challenges you. It’s like a sonic version of Citizen Kane. Other music is more like There’s Something About Mary: entertaining, but not very heavy on substance. Huey Lewis and the News is my favorite “light” band. I have my aunt, Lisa Hermanson, to thank for my love of Huey. I remember many fun times with her, driving around the back roads near Belvidere, Illinois, listening to “The Heart of Rock N’ Roll.” Thanks, Aunt Lisa, for giving me some lighthearted times to make my childhood a bit more bearable.

There are many more bands I like and people I could thank, but this post is getting pretty long as it is. I’ll finish up by thanking my friend Mike Diamond (and, indirectly, his brother Brian) for my bonding with Vic Rattlehead, Megadeth’s mascot extraordinaire. I had heard Megadeth before I met Mike, but it never really caught my interest. Then Mike let me borrow his (or his brother’s: I’m not really sure) copy of Youthanasia. With ferocious guitars and thoughtful lyrics, Youthanasia made me a die-hard Megadeth fan instantly. While Cryptic Writings is my favorite Megadeth record of all, I’d still like to thank Mike Diamond for getting me to “taste the high-speed dirt.”

So long, and thanks for all the music!