🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Slowest Speeder Ever 🐢
Another School Shooting 🏫🔫
I found myself tonight in a dark jail cell surrounded by four zombies, some kind of wizard, and my son. This is not what I expected for my Tuesday evening.
After a months-long absence, I returned tonight to the Dungeons & Dragons game I had played earlier this year with a few guys I knew waaaaay back in my schoolin’ days. I had stopped attending the Tuesday night sessions played over something called roll20.net (and those who know the significance of rolling a 20 just know) because one of the nasty side effects of Longhaul Covid was to turn my brain into mush when I spent too much time looking at a computer screen. It’s impossible to accurate describe this feeling. The best I can do is to say that trying to decipher things on a screen became loud.
But it wasn’t just that. I have a nasty habit of isolating myself. I’m working to get to the core of all this shit, and I’ve made some significant strides of late. But still … that’s my historical MO. So even when my brain showed signs of recovery thanks to time and some hard work on what can best be described as at-home neurotherapy, I didn’t go back to the game.
Thankfully, Paul never stopped reaching out.
I have had a problem in the course of my life of people who I thought were my friends using me as a person able to give them quality no-cost counseling. I am neither trained as a psychologist, nor do I want to be one, but I recognized from the time I was in elementary school that I have a knack for seeing what someone could be and how they could go about becoming that person. Back then I thought that was a skill everyone had. It’s not.
I’ve written more about this whole subject, so I’m not going to go through the details here. What I do want to say is that Paul is not that.
I remember well the late night and early morning hours following my senior prom. I was with my classmates on a yacht/ferry/boat slowly circling New York City. I and my girlfriend of roughly a year had stepped out of the madness inside for some fresh air and quiet. Even then, I could only do “loud”…Keep reading
Paul’s not needing anything from me. He just wants to be a friend.
He and I weren’t what I think either of us would call “friends” in high school. None of the folks in the Tuesday night D&D adventure were people I hung out with. Chris, our dungeon master, was an eccentric kid who played the flute and whose dad I once cursed at as a 10-year-old Little Leaguer during the middle of a game. (Seriously, John… WTF.) He and I were on the same rec basketball team that lost a first-round tournament game to a team of NBA All-Stars (compared to us, anyway), by the final scored of 135-3, a game in which he and I accounted for all our scoring.
And Paul was a really smart kid who was in the advanced classes. His little sister traveled on the fringes of the main group of folks I hung out with in high school. He was easy to talk to, but we weren’t anything approaching “close.”
These guys and the others in our party from my high school did share one thing in common: We all survived what I would put forward as the most cliquish high school in America, and it was easy for none of us. Imagine what playing the flute does to your social status. Folks weren’t exactly tolerant that perhaps that’s the kind of music making that moved you. Imagine what having the audacity to be smart leads to. Imagine what being extremely sensitive and perceptive can do to you. When I say I barely survived Fox Lane Middle School and Fox Lane High School, I mean it.
During my time away from D&D, Paul would occasionally reach out via text. “Hey man. How’s it goin’? How’s the family?” To my shame, I would sometimes respond with nothing more than a, “Things are good. How about you?” Sometimes I wouldn’t respond at all.
Paul never gave up. And so when he texted me Saturday afternoon while I was at Big Sister-In-Law’s house for our family Thanksgiving, it just felt right to respond back to him — genuinely and with commitment this time. We caught up on where we are in life. And I asked him if they’d consider having me back in the game. His response? “We’d love to have you back!”
So there I was tonight, in a prison cell surrounded by four zombies and a wizard. Boy The Younger — no relation to me in the game — was in the same cell during this, his debut in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Outside in an adjoining room was Paul — err, Garath, a shape-shifter who later would take on the form of a fire elemental. Yes, I understand how geeky this is, but I also understand how awesome and beneficial escapism is in “these unprecedented times.”
Chris led us through two hours of adventure. He’s really, really good at it. Being a dungeon master isn’t easy, and it’s often a thankless task. Paul’s son, who’s roughly the same age as BTY, conked out and went to sleep early, so we banished him to another dimension for the sake of the game. BTY, playing as Nico, killed a zombie and the wizard. I played The Dipper, the deranged alter ego of my character Stitch, to perfection, shooting flames in whatever direction felt right, stabbing a dead body and charging straight into fire.
By the time we called it a night, all the zombies were dead, we’d busted out of the prison cell, and we’re pretty much getting our asses handed to us by the baddies in the next room. BTY has 3 hit points left. If he doesn’t do something fast, Nico might be dead.
The thing is, I know that won’t happen. Paul is a great healer. He’ll do something to restore BTY to health.
He’s just like that.
📚 Let’s Learn Something Together 📓🖊️
Did you know the first person convicted of speeding was going 8 mph? It’s true.
Walter Arnold, of the English village of Paddock Wood, Kent, was nailed on Jan. 28, 1896 for going four times over the speed limit of 2 mph while driving a 19th-century Benz (pretty sure it was a different style than the one NWA rapped about). The constable chased him down … on a bicycle! … and gave him a ticket for roughly 4 pounds, or about a dollar if he were slapped with that fine today.
The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day
Cue the “We need to do something about this!” talk that ends in exactly zero changes and another school shooting.
In Other Writing …
It’s easy to say Facebook — sorry, Meta — is evil. They do such a good job of proving the point for us. They routinely violate their own privacy policies, they know what they do is bad for people and bad for society, and they lie when subpoenaed to testify before Congress because they know…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- I gotta see if we get out of the dungeon alive next Tuesday.
- Pour-over coffee makes me happy.
- Free restorative yoga class on Thursday!
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Trombones are Loud 🎺Birds Aren’t Real 🐦Death to Gymnastic Judges 🤸 Top 5 things that happened at In-Law Family Christmas, held at our humble country home, today. The realization that the mass of youngins has gotten so large now that our little babies have grown up to various new stages that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hey There, Dorothy 🌪️Christmas Hurts 🎄Bye-Bye, Checks and Balances ✔️⚖️ If you’re ever in need of some entertainment, might I suggest being in a church with a bunch of homeschool parents when tornado sirens go off? That’s where I found myself tonight, accompanied by Boy The Younger at a spring track…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Crash 🚗Video Day 🎞️Five No. 2s!? 💩 The Core 4 is headed out on a winter vacation to Memphis and New Orleans soon. The plan was to rent a vehicle through Turo.com, which is kinda like an Airbnb for cars. I had a quality vehicle picked out and reserved, one…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shirt Stain 👔Score One for the Unabomber💣Oh Canada 🌈🍁 I arrived at work this morning, put my stuff down on my desk and hit the men’s room because evidently a 42-minute drive is too long for a man of 47 years to comfortably hold his bladder. I did what I do,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball God(ess) ⚾Alice in Chains 🎸What About the Golfers!? 🏌🏽♂️ To say that baseball was my life when I was a kid is an understatement. I watched it as much as the scant channels we had at home would allow — the Yankees were on Channel 11 WPIX and the (ugh)…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45…Keep reading
Circles are interesting things. They have no beginning and no end. They just keep going around and around and around. And yet we set Jan. 1 as the day to mark the start of our journey around the sun, a journey we measure so incredibly poorly that we have to add an entire extra day…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ice Violence ⛸️Movie Night! 📽️Most Popular Dog Names 🐶 Today was date day for Wifey Poo and I. We’ve been trying to do a date a week since, oh, back in 2018. That was interrupted for awhile by a certain African host child this year, but we’re back at it. Today…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top Songs of 2021 🎶Where’s the Snow? ❄️Thunder Struck ⛈️🏀 Because I didn’t already feel incredibly old and out of touch, I looked at the list of top 100 songs from 2021. It wasn’t until song No. 65 that I even thought I knew one of the songs, “Go Your Own…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Redemption 😊Spice-Lovin’ Tree Shrew 🌶️Mark The Freaking Elf 🧝 I spent the morning in a hotel conference room down in STL learning from a man named Jeff Glover about 21 ways to get 21 listing of homes to sell. Glover is a big fish in the real estate industry. He runs…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Maria and The Chickens 🐔Strange Cyber Monday Offers 🧪Bloody Gift 🩸🎁 I hate wasting time. I hate it hate it hate it. Everything about my life centers on efficiency — the routes I take when I drive, how I go about getting ready for the day, how I organize my work…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Canadian Oil 🍁Freaking Covid 😷Namaste, Yo 🧘🏿 Monday started out with the news that the Bosslady has Covid. This whole “living through The Great Plague” thing somehow has been incorporated into our lives to the point where we don’t really even realize that thousands of people are dying from it daily.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Disconnected 🔌Worst Mom Ever 🦘Death to Autoplay 💀 Internet outage, Day 2. I’m sending this message via carrier pigeon. Or maybe it’s just some bird I caught with my greasy-fast speed. Things are looking bleak. We’ve been without internet service for more than 24 hours now. The weather outside is cold,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Rituals 👨👩👦👦The Grinch Rocks ❤️Churros and Poke Bowls 🤤 It’s interesting to think about how family rituals actually become family rituals. There are some that are very intentional. You had something done for you as a child, so you do the same thing for your kid. Others just sort of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stable Family 👪Armed America 🔫🦅Good or Nickelback? 🎶 Thanksgiving was a quiet affair for the Core Four — my nickname for the entity that is Wifey Poo, Boys The Elder and Younger, and me. We had no family visit, and none of us left the house until BTE traveled to his…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Coffee With Wifey ☕👱♀️Armadillo Lepers 😳Choice Cigar 🚬 To say Wifey Poo and I have been through some shit is an understatement. When we said “I do” back in March of 1997 as freaking twenty-two-year-olds (!!!!), neither of us had a clue how challenging the “or for worse” part of a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knew…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beard Trim 🧔🏽Grunge Shopping 🛒Funny Animals 🐒 When you find yourself with a straight razor poised a millimeter from your neck, you realize this is probably what was going on when the Almighty said “Be still and know that I am God.” I found myself in this situation this morning, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wifey Poo’s Laughter 🤣Expensive Turkey 🦃🍗My Boys 👨👦 Walking back to my car last night from The Funny Bone comedy club in St. Charles, I got to thinking. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows me (not many people, as I’ve recently discussed) and no one who reads…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drinking on the Job 🍷The Land of the Giants 🏀Joseph McCarthy Returns 🏴 It the past week, my job has taken me from a chocolate factory to a wine bar — all in the name of business, of course. Last week, Big Bosslady and I visited Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Itchy Foot 🦶Pay Cuts ❌💰The Best Pen Ever 🖊️ Wifey Poo woke up around 4 a.m. itching, itching, itching her recently repaired foot. Underneath the Ace bandage and the gauze and the padding to keep it safe, she’s got a rash of some sort, and the foot is swollen. Doc says…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Warm November 🌡️The Jaguar People 🐆Squid Game 🦑 I’ll take a 70 degree day in the middle of November, thank you very much. I spent part of my workday on my back deck doing the things I do for my real estate team — social media ads, flyers to promote open…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Year of Hell 😷Where’s Ben? 💔Profiting From Pollution 🏭 Happy Covidaversary to me. On this day one year ago, I had a Q-tip shoved up my nose to confirm what I already knew. Wifey Poo’s sister had been diagnosed with it. Wifey Poo’s mother had been diagnosed with it. Wifey…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with their…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Picnic in November 🥶Happy Wife 👩Pour-Over Coffee ☕ Scheduling a picnic outside in Missouri in November seemed to me to be a very gutsy call. That’s until I stopped to realize who was scheduling it — Boy The Younger’s cross country team. These folks run everywhere, and, thus, I assume are…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hoops at Twain’s House 🏀Lunch With The Big Bosslady 🥪Breaking Up Is Efficient 💔 After a long week of work, I traveled north this evening with Boy The Younger for his second hoops game of the season. I missed the first because of an early start time, but this one was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gross Photos 📷Sand? Sand!? ⏳Sleeping With Cheese 🛏️🧀 I had major ankle surgery back in 2008 to essentially reconstruct my left foot, which had a nasty propensity to roll over without the rest of my leg accompanying it on the journey. After a four-hour operation and two weeks, I went back…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pizza Visit 🍕French Fry Vodka 🍟🥃Let’s All Move to Portugal ✈️ We were surprised at dinner time last night with the sight of a kid who’s really no longer much of a kid. Matthew, who’s been Boy The Elder’s friend since the two weren’t even toddling, stopped by, pizzas in hand.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Death List ☠️Doctor Day 🩺Stay Calm, Be Confident 🧘 Sometimes the internet does something useful. For example, in the early days, there was the site that was nothing but The Hamster Dance. I’m not making that up, kiddos. The only thing this website had was The Hamster Dance. Don’t believe me?…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they live…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Morning, Bank of America, How Are Ya? 🎮Woods Walk 🌲🌲🌲Big Bird’s a Commie ☭ I awoke this morning to a text from Bank of America about potentially fraudulent charges on my debit card. “Pshaw,” thought I. “Probably just a scam.” So I stumbled into the kitchen, made my coffee and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cute Pic, Dumb Response 📷A Musical Connection 🎵A Time-Change Analogy ⌚ My first solo venture into Costco today did not end up in familial bankruptcy, surprisingly. Oh, it could have. It just didn’t. I walked right past the $40 slabs of ribs and steered clear of the $2,000 monster TV that…Keep reading