=== 2022-8-15 | Dungeons and Dragons TNG ===

Last Sunday I had the chance to sit back down in the Dungeon Master chair in real life. It had been awhile.

It was a lovely day and we setup on the enclosed deck at my friend's house. The cool thing was this was going to be the first game for three people, including a fourth grader, a sixth grader and an eleventh grader. All of the kids were meeting for the first time which was adding to the awkwardness of the situation. On top of that one of the old men had not played in decades.

We switched from a Dungeons and Dragons edition that I am very familiar with (3.5) to one that is supposed to be more updated and user friendly (5E). I have played 3.5 since it came out and played a little bit of 5E but was not super familiar with the rules.

We got our characters created, jumped into the adventure I had written called Lost Puppy. It was a slow start getting the kids into the game and figuring out the new edition of the rules but as we kept going everyone seemed to be into it, the adults were deferring a lot to the young ones, which I appreciated as the game was 100% for the youngsters. At one point, the fourth grader's character was getting perilously close to expiring. She is the tiniest player but playing the mightiest character so her character was getting picked on in combat a lot. Her cheeks got red, tears were forming in her eyes, but in the end her character pulled through and frankly it was a testament to how invested she was in the character and this initial game.

We played for six hours, stopping only for the obligatory pizza break. I thought we might stop there, at about the four hour mark, but the kids were all in. So we played the rest of the adventure to rescue the lost puppy (which they successfully did but it was close!). Even after six hours they were still ready to continue on and want to keep playing, but all the old people needed a nap. So we are looking for the next Sunday we can all get together to get started on a real campaign. I am reliably informed that the kids had a great time. Play Dungeons and Dragons with your kids!

#gaming #dnd #pizza

=== 2022-7-6 | Good News | Bad News ===

The company that has kept me off the streets for the past 5 years has "engaged in a strategic investment" with another company. As far as I can tell, so far, that is good news.

From the bad news side of the spectrum, my all time favorite pizza place appears to have permanently closed. A very sad day. Vincenzas was often highlighted on my Instagram story and it was a once a week stop when I worked downtown and even when I switched to WFH I still tried to get in as often as possible, but the last few times in it looked pretty clear that they were in trouble.

#cleveland #pizza

=== 2022-6-23 | ZC Victory Thursday ===

We failed this Zombicide scenario TWICE last week, last night we came up with a plan, and followed the plan and had a nice quick victory even with several Abominations showing up.


=== 2022-6-7 | TV Watch Party Update ===

I don't know why I still write "This is what I am currently watching on TV" since the only thing I really watch on TV is sports and Alone. Everything else is on a computer screen, but hey, that is practically a TV yeah? Anyway, this is what I have been into lately.

=== FINISHED ===

A friend recommended Inside Job, which is a good thing because it really was not on my radar. I watched it pretty quickly, not paying attention to how few episodes there were and it abruptly ended on me last week. Thoroughly enjoyable look at how conspiracy theories really work. It was also nice to hear the voice of the always wonderful Lizzy Caplan again. She also stared in season 2 of Castle Rock which I also recently finished off. I did not realize that the two seasons were (almost) completely separate story lines. But Castle Rock hit me in my happy, horror, mystic, Stephen King happy place. Please make more!

Speaking of happy mystic shows, I watched Outer Range a few weeks ago. Josh Brolin is great and this was another enjoyable take on small town, family politics wrapped in a magic mystery.

=== WATCHING ===

A coworker recommended Hacks to me. I went into it warily and was greatly surprised. I usually wait until a season (or series) is completely done before I watch but the third season of Hacks started and I just couldn't wait, it is so much fun. Less fun but in the same "I can't wait" category is Barry. I don't have a lot to write about Barry, I can't say it is my favorite show, it is a weird juxtaposition of "nice guy actor is also an assassin", which should be a win, and it generally is which is what keeps me watching.

I really don't want to be that guy, but I'm going to go ahead and be that guy. I watched the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi and I do not like it. I was not a huge fan of The Book of Boba Fett either, but I did like The Mandalorian. So, the theme for me for Star Wars shows is probably: new characters, new stories, stop messing with the old characters (see Rogue One the best of all the current Star Wars movies). Anyway, I don't like what they did with the character of Obi-Wan; the antagonists are, to a person bad actors with terrible dialogue; and some of the cinematography is suspect as well. I will watch it all at some point but have been disappointed with the last two Star Wars live action shows.

Lastly, I am about halfway through the first season of The Exorcist television series and it is hitting all the happy horror spots for me.

=== WAITING ===

And finally, on my list of things to watch but I am waiting for season/series finales, or just time to watch them: True Detective, Better call Saul, Stranger Things, Picard, and Orville: New Horizons. We started Ozark before but stopped at some point. Now that it is over, I'll go back and start over and watch the whole thing, vacation is coming next month!


=== 2022-6-02 | Z2 Victory ===

We basically had to take the month of May of for various other obligations but were finally able to get back together last night to play a board game. We switched back to the basic Zombicide 2 game, the first scenario. The setup took a little longer because we all had to pick new toons, I ended up with one that was a blue level medic (helpful!) and one that could shove at blue level (also helpful). We had some Abominations show up but found Molotov cocktails early and were able to eliminate or work around them. One character turned into a Zombie but was still on our team and it seemed like she was more powerful after that.... not sure how those rules work or if we did something wrong there. We grabbed our objectives and all made it to the exit for a victory. Looking forward to next week.


=== 2022-4-26 | Uncle Bill Franson RIP ===

My Uncle Bill passed away. Growing up I spent many summers with my cousin in Clearfied, PA living at his house. We would often go away on vacations, the four of us, to places like Nags Head, NC; Hersey Park, PA; and Atlantic City NJ. He loved to play craps at the casino, would go out all night to play. When we checked out of the hotel in AC I remember him paying for the entire weeks stay, easily, with one hundred dollar bills.

I knew he had been sick but did not have close contact with my cousin for years because of stupidness and my mother's side of the family is excellent at silent treatment grudges over nonsense. I blame myself entirely for that. Thankfully the lines of communication have reopened, and we have had a lot of virtual contact.

This Obituary is about the most epic Obit I have ever read, and very fitting.

#family #nostalgia

=== 2022-4-22 | Castle Rock ===

I don't know how, but I haven't watched Castle Rock. But as I am watching the first few episodes, it feels really familiar to me. Maybe I read it in the past? I'm not even sure if it is a book or a short story, but the setting is comfortable and it is adequately eerie and enjoyable.

castle rock


=== 2022-4-21 | Black Plague Defeat Report ===

Last night was our attempt at Scenario 2 of Zombicide Black Plague. In the manual it is listed as Easy and that it should only take 60 minutes. We were bamboozled on both attempts, mainly by bad planning on our point and not seeing clearly what to do by the game setup. But we also had swaths of bad luck with double spawn cards on necromancer spawn points. Ouch. Oh well, it was still fun, we will try again next week.


=== 2022-4-14 | Zombicide | Black Plague Victory Report ===

Last week we finished up our Z2 Washington ZC campaign. This week we started Zombicide | Black Plague. Going back the the first edition rules was a bit problematic, but we stumbled our way through to a scenario 1 victory.

One great feature of playing Black Plague is that the host has most of the miniatures painted so it looks a lot cooler. I took a liking to this toon, Father Tucker. Credit to the host for the paint job, I am terrible at it and do not try anymore.



=== 2022-4-13 | Vincenzas ===

Had to make a trip downtown and got the best pizza in town for lunch.

pizza pizza pizza


=== 2022-04-07 | Zombicide Washington ZC VICTORY ===

We ran through the final scenario of Zombicide | Washington ZC for a second time last night. We still had an early abomination but we were on a much better track toward victory. Playing a second time will have that effect.

I had one of the most satisfying rounds I have ever played. Since I had to run two toons I was able to plan moves a little better. Also really enjoy picking up the shove action when I got into orange scoring. Anyway we left some players on the ground (but don't all great Zombie epics?) but in the end three of us were able to escape before the hordes overwhelmed us.

The big question now is, what to play next?? I think we are leaning toward Green Horde or Black Plague. Virtual DnD is back this Friday, I will update on that campaign this weekend.


=== 2022-04-04 | Gwendy and Druids ===

I finished the third book in the Gwendy trilogy by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar last weekend. They were very enjoyable, I especially liked the nods and subtle references (some not so subtle) to the whole Stephen King Maine universe.

I must admit that I read the second half of the last book very quickly, not because it was due at the library, but because halfway though the week I saw another recommendation for another series of books I have not read. I picked up the first book of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne and started down that path.

I cannot remember the last time I devoured a book so quickly. I had to tell myself to stop and do something else lest I run out of words to read. Hounded was a throughly enjoyable romp following the centuries old Iron Druid and his antics in the American desert. There are ten books in the series so I was excited about the possibility of having something new and fun to read on vacation this year. I am no longer under the illusion that there will be any titles in the chronicles left to read by the time July comes around. The only chance will be a willpower test to see if I can resist reading the last two (assuming the series keeps up the quality of the first book) until Myrtle Beach time rolls around. Starting Hexed tonight. Chef recommends.

#reading #review

=== 2022-03-24 | Blog Content Restored and weird dating schema ===

I believe I have suscessfully restored the bulk of my lost blog content back to last year when I started. I'm sure both of my readers are very happy it is all back. I still need to do some work breaking up the blog into smaller pieces so it isn't just one massive html page.

Also, the reason I do the dates the way that I do them is because long ago in my work past I learned how to structure file folders so that they are in date order when you name them.

Here is a picture of two cats.


=== 2022-03-23 | Washington ZC ===

We had a go at the final scenario in Zombicide 2 Washington ZC. We turned up an abomination in the first turn so it was an uphill battle all night. I thought it would end sooner than it did but we struggled on until we were finally overwhelmed. There were only a couple of turns when we did not have an abomination on the table. We will likely reset for another try next week.



=== 2022-03-14 | Sean Lock tribute ===

I'm not crying, you are crying.

UPDATE 2022-03-19 | Was a video tribute to Sean Lock but apparently us Yanks aren't allowed to watch it anymore.


=== 2022-03-10 | Gwendy Trilogy ===

I've found something new to read, the Gwendy trilogy by Richard Chizmar and (kinda) Stephen King. I started with the third book, realized it was a trilogy and got the first two from the library. I read the first one in an hour, very quick, fun read. Looking forward to getting into the second one and then finally back to third book.


=== 2022-03-03 | Bigfoot Update ===

Slowly putting back the content that was lost in the hack. Trying to do one older post a day until I get everything restored. It is generating a large single page, and I will likely keep it like that until I'm done restoring and then chunk it into smaller pieces. It will probably still load because there is no PHP overhead or database to talk to anymore.

Last night were were able to get together and play another scenario of Zombicide Washington ZC. We won so only one more to go and then we have to figure out another game to play. We also ran into Bigfoot, but managed to avoid him.

#gaming #paranormal

=== 2022-02-22 | Hacked! ===

I don't know if I should blame wordpress or php or one of my plug-ins or my host but the blog got hacked. I'm working on restoring content and just going with old school unhackable(?) html this time. Not as pretty but hopefully more secure.

Looks like I can only restore back to the end of December of last year, I will try to find the rest of the content back to October 2021.

=== 2022-02-01 | Dry January. Alcohol free Feb? Dry til July? ===

That was a long month.

Alcohol free February? Stay Dry til July?

=== 2022-01-29 | DM-ing virtual Dungeons and Dragon 3.5 ===

After a hiatus while our schedules would not sync up we finally got our virtual Thursday night group back together. We have been playing for much of the last two years, a number of different role playing games, but we always seem to settle back into our old reliable Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.

I ran a campaign before when we weren't all locked in our houses using the new at the time 5.0 DnD system, and while it had its advantages we decided to go back to 3.5 for future games. There have been myriad online discussions as to which is better (almost all agree 4.0 was a miss) but for us old guys, we are very familiar and comfortable with the 3.5 system.

The pre-pandemic 5.0 in person campaign I ran had 5 players and it ended only because we stopped getting together, although we had play tested the system enough to know that we like 3.5 better. It was a home brew game (meaning I made up all the content) and I thought it was pretty enjoyable.

Along came covid and we stopped playing for awhile and then those of us comfortable with technology started playing online. This had advantages: no commuting, tech resources, ability for non-local players to get involved (we had a player from Portland, Oregon and another from Wales). But it had disadvantages as well: voice communications limited to one person at a time, limited ďsideĒ conversations and interpersonal talks, the virtual playing surface was never like the IRL playing surface (we use roll20 and discord).

I had decided I would not run another game until we could all get together again, but my creativity was being wasted as I was generating binders of ideas, full first through twentieth level campaigns that might never be played. So enough was enough and I decided to jump in and run a virtual game. We started last Thursday. Although I have a full home brew campaign ready to go, this is a combinations of pre-generated scenarios and some unique content. Only three players are in the game so far which made the online voice communication better, but the party in the game that much weaker (anyone free on Thursday nights? Email me!).

All things being equal Iíd rather be running a game in a real room, with folks gathered around a nice big table, books and dice as far as the eye can see. Maybe that will happen again this summer, but for now we will stick the the virtual environment. I will keep you posted as to how it is going.

=== 2022-01-28 | Zombicide 2: Washington ZC VICTORY! ===

We finally got the Wednesday night group back together to play Zombicide 2: Washington ZC. We wanted one more crack at the White House scenario we had been trying before our long break. This time we had luck with the cards this time, finally, and that with a little for site since we had played this scenario before meant we had a quick resolution. It was great to be back in the basement playing again. Also, Stash the dog, and it was very cold.

=== 2022-01-25 | BBC panel shows update ===

Thankfully I have found a couple of reliable sources for my 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown obsession. A lot of the last series I could not find but I am able to watch the new episodes. So far in this series they have had a number of replacement team captains, Iím not sure if they are going to pick a permanent one, how could anyone replace Sean Lock? Anyway, since Cats is just once I week I went down the rabbit hole looking for other across the pond entertainment.

I spent a few weeks going backwards in time with David and Lee and Rob in Would I Lie to You. It was an enjoyable journey but with so many episodes in a row the Lee Mack shtick, while funny, grows a bit tiresome and predictable. So last week I found Taskmaster, and I am a big Greg Davis (the taskmaster) fan. So with football (American style) on the telly last weekend I watched the last few series of that show. I didnít know all of the guests as well as I have come to know the Cats guests but the couple of series I watched were fun. I didnít want to go to far back historically with Taskmaster so I went in search of another show and this time found QI. I think I tried this one once before and it didnít click but I am into it now, just have to get into the right mindset of learning and laughing at the same time. Also love that episodes are short and has new guests every time (as far as I can tell after only a few episodes). Now I need to figure out the scoring system.

So, that is where I am now, waiting for new episodes of my new favorites and going through old episodes of QI. Incidentally I donít know who those two guys are in the bottom right quadrant of the pic, but they are probably candidates for upcoming viewing. Always open to suggestions.

=== 2022-01-15 | Christ the King Church Ė East Cleveland, Ohio 1928-2009 ===

I was doing some routine backups at home today when I came across this montage that I had seen in the past but not for a long time. It is a video collection of pictures of Christ the King Church in East Cleveland, Ohio which existed from 1928 to 2009. The most relevant years in my life in this community were the 70s and 80s. This was the church where I and many of my brothers were baptized and confirmed. This is the church where all three of my children were baptized in the very same baptismal font. A church where I spent a good deal of time at mass, in the choir loft, and as altar boy for many years. It was in this church that I gave the eighth grade valedictorian speech for the Christ the King School class of 1985. I know there is a lot of backlash against the catholic church and priests, much of it warranted, but in my time here it was never an issue for me. A number of priests were pastors here and while I was an altar boy, parishioner, landscaper, janitor, and after hours secretary in the rectory. One of these priests was highly inspirational to me and while he never actively recruited me for the priesthood, he certainly did passively (it didnít take). I know this place from top to bottom, I have been in every nook and cranny from the roof to the hidden rooms in Shannon Hall. The physical buildings are still there; the church, the rectory, the convent and school but they are no longer Christ the King. Sometimes I still drive by. Someday I will stop back in.

=== 2022-01-13 | 2016 Ford Escape Battery Part 2 ===

As I mentioned in a previous post, my car needs (needed) a new battery. So I dropped it off at the local service station in the evening to get it replaced. I got this the next morning:

First of all, it shows just how buried the battery is. Also I thought it was pretty cool of the service station to send me a video of the service they were quoting me on. Bravo Conradís! Anyway, I have a new battery and it was very reasonably priced and quickly taken care of (especially knowing how much crap they had to move to get it replaced).

=== 2022-01-11 | Betta Bilbo Baggins ===

My daughter got me a betta fish before she went back to school. Please meet Betta Bilbo Baggins and his supervisor Rick Sanchez, both of whom live on the shelf above my home office. Bilbo, specifically, lives in a pineapple under the sea, on the shelf, above my desk.

=== 2022-01-09 | 2016 Ford Escape Battery Madness ===

Since it has gotten cold it has been more and more of a struggle for my car to get started. It is a 2016 and I have had it since I bought it new and it is still on the original battery. OK, time to change the battery. Although my skill set in fixing automotive things is limited, this is one task I can undertake. I recently changed the battery in our other older car. So I go out this morning and open the hood to pull the battery so I can trade it in. This is what I find:

The battery is buried underneath the top sill, back by the firewall. WTF? There must be some logic for putting it there but for the life of me I canít figure it out. You have to rip everything out that is in front of it, or pull off the windshield wipers and the whole double layer of plastic sills about it. Brutal. This is probably something I could do, Iím pretty sure I could get it out but then getting it back in and everything put back togetherÖ lots of doubt. So local Total Car Care, you can thank Ford for the upcoming $$$ you will be getting from me to swap out my battery this week. Ooof.

=== 2022-01-02 | Vacation Watch list Part 2 ===

Vacation is winding down, just a couple of more days and I found another BBC show that I enjoy and is available here in the states. But First:


Marvel: Although I may not have stated it here yet, while I thoroughly enjoyed the early Marvel movies the whole explosion of the MCU has let me indifferent to them at best. I definitely prefer all things DC at heart. I about swore off of MCU completely after I had to sit through the utter garbage that was Thor: Ragnarok. But they re-re-rebooted Spiderman again and released of the third one (which I hear is doing well). I hadnít watched the first two so I gave them a watch. I did not love either of them, not surprisingly. I like the new Spiderman actor but really enjoyed Ned and the way they characterize MJ in these movies. Apparently half of the population died, or didnít die, or some died, but now they are back, but not back, between the first and the second movie and there were some other minor (major?) plot lines I did not follow. Again, I donít follow MCU that closely so Iím probably a couple of movies behind. All that being said, not a waste of my time, a fun couple of movies. As I have said before, all things are better with JB Smoove in it. Will likely never watch them again.

Matrix: I am about 1/3 to 1/2 way through the new Matrix movie. This was one of the first movies I started when vacation began so the fact that it has been back in the queue for that long doesnít bode well. Maybe it will come around in the second half.


BBC: Since my desperate search for the last two seasons of Eight out of Ten Cats Does Countdown has come up short, I blindly flailed around the internet searching for ďBBC Panel showsĒ and was delighted to come across Would I Lie to You? It has all the brit whit one could hope for in short 30 (closer to 23) minute segments. The guests are generally lovely as is the host, but all the heavy comedy lifting goes to the team captains. I have a new found respect for the impromptu hilarity that Lee Mack brings, having only seen him a few times on Cats in the past. On the other side is the very well known David Mitchell (aka the luckiest man alive see: Victoria Coren Mitchell) who just excels at everything I love about British comedy and why I think it is far ahead of anything produced in the states.


BOWLS: My team did not fare well early in the day. Many, many of the regular players were not playing in The Outback Bowl. Although I understood the reasoning behind this, I was a little miffed that we were watching third stringers and first time players and losing. I watched most of the rest of the Bowl games in the background, and then completely changed my mind when I saw what happened to the Ole Miss QB in the last game. Unfortunately, these are just scrimmages and these guys donít want to risk it all when they already have a professional spot lined up.


ITS ALWAYS SUNNY: I did not realize I was watching the latest season so I got caught up soon after my last post and then went back to the season before, which is even better. The episode at the zoo when they are texting each other is as funny a sitcom as I have seen in quite some time. Bravo.

That is probably all the vacation watching updates, back to work in a couple of days. Of course, Iíll be sitting exactly where I am right now, just staring at a different set of monitors! Hopefully my Wednesday and Thursday night gaming groups are starting up again this week as well.

=== 2021 Blog Entries ===