A ranger, a rogue, and a druid walk into a bar …

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How did you spend your Saturday evening?

There are some distinct advantages to coming back to Dungeons and Dragons as an adult. For one, the refreshments are better. Not that I have anything against Nacho Cheese Doritos and Mountain Dew.

Another thing is that if you’ve hung around the game as long as I have — I got my first set of rules back in 1977 or ’78 — you’ve found that the rules have come nearly full circle after the disastrous detour into World of Warcraft territory that was the game’s 4th edition.

The beauty of that is I can dust off a lot of my old materials and with some quick updating get a game up and running again.

But I guess the biggest kick of all, is being able to recapture what were really good times, rediscovering the power of imagination, and sharing that with friends all over again.

I’m old enough now to have passed the game along to my kids, and talking with my son about the adventures he is designing and hearing him recount the misadventures of his friends’ characters is pretty damn cool too.

The writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is another longtime player of the game. He says it as well as anyone:

The sordid scandals of the holier-than-thou

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Michigan Republican state reps Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, in happier times. (Photo from The Guardian.)

 

It would be all too easy to devote this blog to nothing more than cataloging the seemingly endless hypocrisies of the religious right. So I just don’t think its worth much of my time, or yours, pointing out the obvious.

But low-hanging fruit can be pretty damn juicy, especially when it’s ripe for the picking in your own backyard. So meet Republican state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, Tea Party favorites, Christian conservatives, and probably the loudest advocates and defenders of traditional marriage in the Michigan legislature.

Especially if your definition of traditional marriage includes adultery.

Rumors of an affair between Courser and Gamrat — who regularly invoke Christian values to support their political positions — had been swirling around state political circles for months. But the whole thing exploded into public view earlier this week thanks to Courser’s comical attempt to enlist his staff in a scheme to divert attention from the affair by floating claims that he had been caught paying for gay sex behind a Lansing nightclub.

Apparently Courser believed the charges of illicit gay sex would distract his constituents from the more mundane adultery he was actually engaged in. More precisely, as the Detroit News revealed when it broke the story, Courser (married father of four) told his aides the exaggerated claims would “inoculate the herd” and make “anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison.”

While Gamrat has so far kept quiet about the whole thing, the same can’t be said for Courser. MLive has a terrific overview of the story and the reaction in Courser’s Lapeer district. Here’s a taste:

The story revealed Courser, R-Lapeer, tried to get an aide, Ben Graham, to send an email making the false claim Courser was a bisexual deviant who skipped out on legislative duties to pay for homosexual sex behind a “prominent Lansing nightclub.” The email was meant to “inoculate the herd,” Courser said, for when news of his actual affair with Gamrat leaked.

Courser’s attempts to douse the fire — a 27-minute recording of him accusing ex-staffers of conspiring against him, the release of texts from a person he’s referred to as “The Blackmailer” to prove the conspiracy, accusing a political consultant of being The Blackmailer and tweets accusing Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter of working against him — instead acted as accelerant.

Despite all the free advice from public relations professional urging resignation and silence, Courser continues to press his story of blackmail.

The whole thing is almost too absurd to believe. Almost.

Daddy issues

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I finally got around to watching the finale of season two of HBO’s True Detective last night. While the critics were not kind to its occasionally wooden dialogue and disjointed array of plots, subplots, and more red herrings than the grocery aisle of your local Ikea, I enjoyed it.

While season two never quite managed to live up to the stylish vibe of the creepy Southern Gothic first season, it did have more enough of the Raymond Chandler L.A. noir sensibility to reinforce my determination never to live in California. If any show has ever succeeded in making California look like one of the nine circles of Hell, this one was it.

What this season had going for it, beyond compelling style, was the persistent theme of fathers and the damage they can do to their children that accounted for the deep flaws of  each of True Detective’s major characters.  Here’s a quick rundown of how that all played out. Spoilers ensue, but I’m not going to worry about that since at this point I figure that anyone who cares has already seen the finale.

  • Ben Caspere — Corrupt and debauched Vinci city manager whose murder at the beginning of the show was the series’ first and longest-running red herring. Killed by the illegitimate children he fathered and then orphaned, surrendering them to a childhood of foster care, abuse, and prostitution.
  • Austin Chesanni — Corrupt and debauched mayor of Vinci who inherited both his office and his father’s particular appetites. Killed and replaced in office by his own psycho pimp of a son.
  • Ray Velcoro — Corrupt Vinci cop struggling to live up to his cop father’s example. Beat to death the man he thought raped his wife, then adopted a parenting style toward his own in which he confused bullying with love.
  • Ani Bezzerides — Cop with a violent streak, proclivity for knives, and taste for aggressive sex. As a child abducted and raped while under the watchful care of her hippie guru father.
  • Frank Semyon — Gangster dealing with repeatedly unsuccessful infertility treatments whose cartoonish, cliched tough-guy attitude and violence compensates for the insecurity borne of years of psychological abuse at the hands of his father.
  • Paul Woodrugh — Cop, closeted and in denial about his sexuality, abandoned by his father as a child, his physical scars telegraph his psychic wounds. Determined not to abandon his own unborn child. Gunned down by other corrupt cops, he gets a highway named for him. His child is there for the unveiling.

So there you have it. Eight episodes in which we get to watch the wreckage of disastrously dysfunctional father-child relations play out as noir crime drama.

And we’re finally done with the world’s most morose bar singer. She won’t be missed.