Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#242 In which our hero looks at high school photos, part 2

Right back to the fun:


Well sweety, this is it. We are going to be forced in to the real world. God help us... and the real world. Thank you for all you've given me. You've been one of the main influences on my life and I know I will always remember your quick wit and honest humor.

Thank for being there and don't forget those wonderful moments of high-school. Thanx for being you.

Love ya,
Michele are I spent a lot of time together in HS. That said, I don’t know if I was one of the main influences in her life… maybe I was and just didn’t realize it at the time. I wonder if she looks back and still thinks that? Everything in high school is so d r a m a t i c, but years later it all seems so minor. To me, at least. But Michele was a good friend. If I could travel back in time I would tell her never to date my friend Eric, because I knew at the time it was a bad, bad idea. But I kept my mouth shut and it ended badly, as I knew it would. Sorry about that.


This isn't easy trying to think of what to write. Your friendship has meant more to me than I think you realize. I can always count on you for an honest opinion, even if it's not what I want to hear. I respect you for being so honest. We've had some great times in the plays, EPIC is questionable, but what do you expect... I really don't need to wish you luck with your presonality and "CHARM" you'll be successful in whatever you do. I only thank you for the memories and hope there will be more to come before this year is over.

Love Ya,

Boy, I thought posting these photos would be a lark, a little ha-ha weren’t we all so shallow in high school? sort of thing. But when I re-read these, and some of the clearly heart-felt messages written on them, I’m starting to feel like a bit of an asshole.

Susan and I were pretty good friends in our senior year. We were co-editors of the school newspaper (“The Epic”). For a time, Susan really wanted to date me, but I knew it wouldn’t work. And for perhaps the only time in my life I put aside any potential for, ahem, “physical gratification” and stuck with just being friends. Because being boyfriend/girlfriend would never have worked, and probably would have ended in tears. I don’t know what she’s getting at with my “CHARM,” but I choose to take it as a compliment. And I don’t remember what the “TOOTS” thing was either. Did I actually call her “Toots”? Good Lord, I was queer.

Susan was the main contact for the first 15 years of high school reunions, so I got to catch up with her every five years. She’s married, has kids, never left town. She seems happy, and I’m happy for her.


To a real sweet guy that has a great personality. You have been a real special friend to me ~ Don't forget all the great times we've shared ~ Good-luck in all you do!


Thank God, back to the meaningless platitudes! Nothing to question or feel guilty about here. I don’t remember sharing any good times with Missie, really; unless she’s talking about field trips or whatever. And I would remember, because I wanted to share “good times” with Missie (if you know what I mean) in the worst way. Me and every other boy in the class. But, if I remember correctly, ended up dating an older guy from our arch-rival high school. Maybe even marrying him? Can’t remember.


To the sweetest boy in our class. Remember all the good times our class has had. You're a very talented person and I know you will always succeed. Good luck in the future and in everything you do.

Love, Carol
Carol was a really nice person. We sat next to each other in several classes. That’s really all I can think to say about Carol.


To a really special guy that I've had alot of great times with. Remember our affair in 6th grade + Camp Fitch. And of course the one acts. Good luck in all you do. You deserve the best + I know you'll go far. Please stay in touch.



Dionne was my first girlfriend. And I use “girlfriend” in the loosest sense… this was only 6th grade after all. We talked on the phone, went to a couple of dances together (driven by my father) and finally kissed. My first kiss, I believe. It’s hard to remember such an innocent time, when kissing was a big deal, and tongue kissing (!!) was going “all the way.” The Camp Fitch she mentions was a camp on Lake Erie that my class went to for something like four days. It was in the dead of winter, we stayed in cabins (boys in one, girls in the other, naturally) and high school seniors were our chaperones. Here’s the two things that stand out most in my memory about Camp Fitch:

One night someone crapped his pants. And instead of chucking the evidence out into the woods or just stuffing it in the trash can, he left his nasty underwear in the shower. This was reported to our senior counselors, and they made us all strip down to our underwear and stand in a line while they checked the brand we were wearing to the “tainted” underwear. One kid was horribly upset and burst out into tears because he was wearing the same brand, even though the evidence was nowhere close to his size. I think they finally found the culprit, or at least a convenient scapegoat, and made him hike into the woods and bury his stinky shorts.

My other memory (and oddly, also poop-related) was the bus ride home. It was something like three hours. I had to go to the bathroom before we left, but for whatever reason I didn’t get the opportunity before we had to load up on the bus. I had to poop SO. BAD. I was sweating bullets the whole way home. I remember that Dionne was really made at me that I didn’t sit next to her on the bus. But I was afraid to, just in case the worst case scenario played out. But the story has a happy ending: I made it back without incident, bolted into the middle school and took care of business before my folks came to pick me up.

I suspect Dionne’s memories of the trip differ from mine. She probably was thinking of us holding hands around the fire while people told ghost stories or sledding down some serious hills. Sadly, our innocent romance didn’t last much longer after Camp Fitch.

One more batch of photos to go!



#241 In which our hero looks at high school photos, pt. 1

Last summer when I was home for Mom's birthday party, I went through some of my old high school stuff that Mom still had in a drawer. Typical junk... HS letter in football, National Honor Society pin, yearbooks, etc. I also found a stack of senior pictures. And, being the lover of schadenfreude that I am, I figured I'd let you, my faithful readers, share in what is sure to be a very uncomfortable group of comments.

Here's the first six off the top of the stack, in no particular order.


to a real crazy guy who has a funny sense of humor. (Thanks for all the rides you gave me.) You have a great personality and you will go places with a personality like that. Remember all the fun times during this last year & good luck in the future.

Well, that's nice. Seems pretty typical of HS picture comments. A little too typical, as we will see. Also, unlike some of the photos, I remember what she means with "thanks for all the rides." I drove to school and Teresa walked, and as I drove right past her house on the way home, I'd often give her a ride.


You are one sexy guy! No seriously, you're a super person & a great friend. I value these past 2 yrs of our friendship. We've grown so much closer. During this time, you've helped me to realize a lot about myself.

I love you!
Case in point of not remembering what a comment means. Judy and I were friends, but honestly, I don't remember us being that close. The thing is, I grew up in a little town (there were 100 people in my graduating class) so everybody knew everybody, and had for at least seven years. So while Judy and I were friends, I don't know that I ever helped her discover herself, or what-not. I guess maybe I had a greater impact on her than I realized but... jeez, I don't think so. And if we had really grown that close, she would have known that I wouldn't appreciate being called "Craigy."


To a sweet guy who's alot of fun. Enjoy band to the fulliest (haha). Good luck in all you do-you deserve the best! Keep in touch.

Oh boy. This is an embarrassing one. Shirley S. was a year older than me and I had the biggest crush on her (guess I had a thing for redheads ever back then). We were in band together, and I'm sure that's the only time I ever spoke to her. I'm frankly amazed that I worked up the nerve to ask her for a senior picture. Also, the first "keep in touch" of the lot; but certainly not the last.

And notice how the photo looks wrinkled? That's because I carried it around with me in my fabric Velcro wallet for years. Good Lord.


to a great guy that I love to be around! You always know how to make me laugh! These years in H.S. have gone by so fast. Best of luck in all you do, I know you will do great!

These high school girls certainly were liberal with the "love," huh? If a fraction of the girls who said they loved me in their HS photo really loved me in HS, it would have been a very different experience.


There are no words to describe you. You're a nice guy with a great personality and sense of humor. I hope your future brings everything you want.

Have you figured out the common thread yet? Seems like everyone in HS saw me as a great friend with a great sense of humor and a great personality. Not dating material, Good God no, but I love having you as a friend!

But I have to say that Jenn's "I hope your future brings you everything you want" feels like the most sincere thing anyone wrote on their photo, and maybe the nicest.


You are a real sweet guy, who you can always have alot of fun with. Remember all the fun times. Good luck your senior year. And gooBest wishes for the future.

Ah, my sweet Kandy.

I didn't crush on anyone in high school like I did on Kandy. I had it bad. And somehow, to this day I have no idea how, I managed to get her to agree to be my date to both the 8th grade prom and our Junior prom. Because of this, I feel like I was this close to actually living the dream and having her become my girlfriend.

This is a colossal fabrication my mind plays on me, of course. Kandy was always out of my league... I think she started dating a guy in college shortly after we went to prom together. Probably minutes after prom. And, as you can tell by her generic comments on her photo, she didn't harbor any deep seated feelings for me. She maybe appreciated it that I didn't try to grab her ass during the slow dances, but that's probably as far as her feelings for me went.

But I could be wrong. Note how she started to write "good wishes" and decided, mid-stroke, to send me "best wishes" instead. Bad composition skills or hidden desire for my bod? I choose to believe in the latter.

So anyway, that's the first six. The stories will most likely get better, and the embarrassment greater, as we go on.





Lily likes to draw. And while she's only four, she sometimes busts out these drawings which I think are really good. Really good meaning that I can tell, more or less, what they're supposed to me.

Yesterday she was drawing and informed me that she was going to make some dinosaurs for me. This is the first one she drew:

Clearly, it's awesome. Our conversation when something like this:
ME: Wow, honey, that's great! Look at all the spikes on his back!
LILY: I know! He's very spikey.
ME: What's his name?
LILY: I don't know. You name him!
ME: How about "Spikeasurus"?
LILY: Yeah! I'm going to draw another!
ME: Great!

Then, about five minutes later, she brought me this:

ME: Wow, honey, that's... wow. That's something else.
LILY: He's very tall!
ME: Yeah, he sure is.
LILY: What's his name?
ME: Boy, I dunno. How about "Dongasurus"?
LILY: Yes! That's the perfect name, daddy!
ME: Sure it is. Go show that to your mama.
So yeah, remember me when you're filling out your ballot for father of the year.


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#240 In which our hero reminisces about his misspent youth and the man who attributed so much to it.

As geeks across the globe already know, Gary Gygax died last week.

His legacy, of course, is Dungeons & Dragons. Every article I’ve read in the past two weeks credits him as the “co-creator” of Dungeons & Dragons (along with Dave Arneson) but Gygax was, and always will be, D&D to me. Maybe it’s the exotic ring to his last name, or the unusual Y and X; I mean, doesn’t that sound like the name of an evil wizard? Tremble before the might of Gygax the Grievous!

I got into D&D when I was around 12 or 13. I don’t remember there being a big event, like I was first introduced at a friend’s house and became hooked for life or something like that… D&D has just always seemed to be there. I remember going into Walden Books at the mall with my dad; while he looked at the latest historical paperbacks, I’d always check out the D&D section. Walden had a shelf dedicated to D&D: all the hard cover books, plus countless flimsy modules with enticing names like The Keep on the Borderlands, Ghost of Lion Castle or The Lost Island of Castanamir. I’d be sucked in with their amazingly cool cover art and promises of adventure.

At some point dad finally bought me the Basic Set (in the red box). I devoured it. While I had played all the kid games you’d expect (Monopoly, Life, Risk, Uno, etc.) I had never seen anything like this. I guess I was predisposed in my thinking to want to be a romantic hero, sword flashing, slaying dragons and saving the damsel in distress. Even though at 13 it was more about killing the monster and taking its treasure than saving the fair-haired Lady.

I spent more time studying that rulebook than any of my textbooks. I went though it with a yellow highlight to mark what I considered the most important passages. My friends would later make fun of me because nearly the entire book was highlighted.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) came out about this time (in the blue box) and I devoured that, too. At this point I actually had a group of friends (well, two others) to play with. I was almost always the Dungeon Master, a role I relished. I spent hours upon hours drawing maps on grid paper, seeding dungeons with monsters and treasure, and trying to write an engaging story about the adventure. Granted, these stories almost always began with the heroes meeting in an Inn over flagons of mead; being contacted by a mysterious benefactor to go fetch some magic artifact (which was always hidden deep in a monster-infested underground dungeon), and being rewarded handsomely at the end, IF they survived. Which they always did, because I was a softy with my players. I wanted them to be heroes, not corpses.

As time wore on I got involved with some new friends, our mutual love of the game bringing us together. This group was more interested in story that just grinding out EP and, most importantly, one of them liked being DM more than I did. So I finally got to play. I finally got to be the hero I had been dreaming of. So I created a character who was a… Thief.

It seems odd to me now that I chose a Thief. I mean, why not a Fighter in shining armor? Why not a Magic User? (Well, I can answer that last one--Magic Users suck at the lower levels; it’s not until you get to level 5 or so that you have any spells worth a damn, and you still can’t wear real armor.) But something about being a Thief appealed. I could sneak around, pick locks, notice things other players couldn’t. I was part of the mysterious Thieves’ Guild, and even had a secret language, the Thieves’ Cant. And I could wear decent armor and use good weapons. I was known as “Strike.”

Strike and I saw a lot of action. Failed a lot of saving throws (I sucked at rolling the dice). Took a lot of damage, but somehow always managed to live to fight (and pick-pocket and backstab and climb sheer surfaces) another day.

I even took the thief thing a little too far, shoplifting several of the hardcover D&D books from my beloved Walden Books. This was during my shoplifting phase, which ended in disaster. Thank God my parents were supportive, and not the kind of people who bought into the media-fueled stories of kids going off the deep end due to playing “satanic” games like D&D. Because it would have been a short jump between identifying my D&D character as a thief, and realizing that their son was stealing things in real life. I certainly never made it to the Mazes & Monsters level of involvement (“I am Pardue, and I am a holy man”).

Funny aside, one of the guys I played with in high school recently emailed me to apologize for killing my character at the penultimate moment in what was probably the last campaign we played before leaving for college. I, of course, remembered the moment clearly: we had just vanquished the last bad guy, and it was just he and I in the treasure room. He was playing a Thief, which means I probably wasn’t playing Strike at that time. I don’t remember what character it was, but I do remember that I had a lot invested in him. It had been a long and grueling summer, and this was it, our final reward. I started to eye the treasure, planning on how the gold (and associated experience points) would give my character a must needed final boost when he used the full might of his backstab ability to drive a dagger deep into my back. It actually burst out of my chest, if memory serves. Wow, was I pissed. It was in character, being that his Thief was evil (or maybe just neutral-evil), but that did nothing to calm my outrange. I remember that the DM and I talked about me coming back as a Revenant, but for one reason or another our group never got back together.

I went on to play some D&D in college (it helped that my DM and I went to the same school) but I eventually grew tired of D&D’s rather obscure rules. Frankly, I never cared much about the game play, it was all about the role play. It never made sense to me that as armor became better at protecting you, the armor class number went down; until the best protected fighters had negative numbers. I would have been really happy if everything could have been converted to a simple percentage roll. I guess that would have done away with some of the cool dice, and I wouldn’t have wanted that.

I discovered some other games in collage that made more sense to me, most notably Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Great game. I think I was drawn to the storytelling aspect in Warhammer, which always seemed stronger than in D&D. Naturally, I put in my time playing tabletop miniatures (Warhammer and Space Hulk), horror roleplay (Call of Cthulhu, ‘natch), science fiction (Traveller) and more. I eventually got out of role playing altogether… not by any conscious decision, I just got busy with other stuff. But I’ll tell ya, I’d jump into a WFRP game in a heartbeat, if I could find a group of people who had the time to commit. Actually, some like-minded friends and I talk about it from time to time, but I think we all really know that it’s not going to happen. Not, at least, while I have two kids under the age of five.

But in my youth I played--and played a lot. It was Gary Gygax’s name that I saw on the stuff I loved, over and over again. He was (in my mind, if not in reality) the single driving force behind not just the game I loved, but the wonderful worlds I got to walk around in on Friday and Saturday nights.

And I’m not one to say that Dungeons & Dragons changed my life or molded me into the man I am today …but it did help. Gary Gygax and the game he created gave me an outlet, a way to funnel my creativity into something (arguably) productive. I made up people and places and creatures and entire worlds… and I really never stopped. I make up stuff today as part of my job. Of course, now I’m making up headlines to help sell car tires or making up promotions to get you to sample the latest flavor of sports drink or whatever… but I’m still exercising my creative muscles. And thanks in no small part to Gary Gygax, my creative muscles are strong and up to the task.

And unlike that kid of 13 pulling an all-nighter to finish an adventure, now I get paid to be creative.

Thanks, Mr. Gygax.





I've been thinking about my job a lot lately; my career, actually. Nothing I'm dumb enough to post publicly, but it's been on my mind. Ugh. Big thoughts. Make my brain hurt.

Here's a video that you may or may not find amusing. I find it hilarious, because it's true. A hack. An egomaniac. That's me.


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Last week I had encounters with the two kinds of people I most hate in the world. And, lucky me, they both happened at the time.

I was at the grocery store picking up a prescription. There were two people in front of me, and the transaction seemed to be going slowly. Not horribly slowly; I was absorbed enough in my own woolgathering that it didn’t really register as slow. But, apparently, all time stopped for the lady behind me.

Now, I hadn’t been there that long, but apparently I had stepped into line as precisely the correct moment to avoid a line. Because three or four people quickly queued up behind me. The pharmacy in my grocery store is next to the employee time clock, and just as the first woman in front of me was finishing up, a manager came on duty and clocked in. Now, I’m not sure how anyone would know he was a manager; he seemed to be dressed in the same khakis and blue shirt as everyone else, but the woman behind me instantly knew what he was. “Excuse me,” she said to him. “Can you get someone else to ring at the pharmacy? The girl there seems a little… slow.

Now, this girl did look a little slow to me, as in dim-witted. And when, I have to ask, did they start letting just anyone work at the pharmacy? At one point my prescriptions were only handed to me by actual pharmacists. But now, it seems like they just let any register-jockey man the desk.

Anyway, the manager, a fresh-faced young man in a freshly pressed shirt, was eager to help out this lady, so he went over to the pharmacy window and addressed this only employee who was typing things into a computer. By her equally dull-witted expression it was clear that she, too, was just a lackey, and not a pharmacist.

Now, I didn’t catch what he said to her, but I’m assuming it was something to the effect of, “Hey, can you stop whatever you’re doing and start ringing out some of the people in this line?” And I didn’t hear what she said to him, but I heard the rest of the exchange loud and clear.
FRESH-FACED MANAGER: Okay, put it this way, I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.
APATHETIC EMPLOYEE: You can’t tell me.
FFM: Yes, yes I can.
AE: No you can’t. You can ASK me, but you can’t tell me!

But, she got up from the computer and moseyed over to the register. This is kind of person I hate #1. The person who openly hates their job and, by extension, everyone they have to deal with as part of their job. One assumes that she was told that speaking directly to the public would be part of her job when she was hired; maybe she could try not to be so contrary about it. I mean, everyone hates their job at some point, but Jesus, it’s your JOB. You get paid to do it. Just fucking do it.

But, as much as I dislike the woman now “serving” me, I hate the woman behind me even more (she is kind of person I hate #2).

As soon as the manager and this dumbass employee get into it, she starts huffing and puffing behind me. “Unbelievable!” she says, just loud enough for the people directly around her to hear. “Unbelievable! If I talked to my boss that way, I’d be fired in a minute! Unbelievable!”

This is the kind of passive-aggressive harpy who never confronts the object of her scorn directly; she only mumbles about the situation, hoping that the people directly in front and behind her will take the bait and initiate a bitch-fest. She’s hoping that I’ll chime in with “I know! You just don’t get good service these days!” or some such shit.

The really crappy thing is that this kind of person usually pipes up when the person behind the counter is doing the best they can. Like they have some crazy return and refund they have to coax out of their computer; something that only comes up once in a lifetime. In these situations I like to say something really cynical to the huffer and puffer; like “I know! How dare she not know those beans were 36 cents a can, and not 38! The nerve!” Sometimes they get that I’m making fun of them, sometimes not.

But, back to this pharmacy situation, the lady behind the counter wasn’t doing the best she could; she was barely doing anything at all. So I just kept my mount shut.

And once again wished I could shoot laser beams out of my eyes.


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