Donald J. Bingle
Donald J. Bingle is the author of eight books and more than sixty shorter works in the thriller, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, steampunk, comedy, and memoir genres. More on Don can be found at www.donaldjbingle.com.
Did I Play in the First Roleplaying Game EVER?
Despite the fact that I have attended GenCon for more years than you have probably been alive and that I was the world’s top-ranked player of Classic RPGA tournaments for fifteen years (1985-2000), I’ve never really thought of myself as an early player of Dungeons & Dragons and, by extension, modern roleplaying games. After all, my first Dungeons & Dragons experience was in a camper in the parking lot of University of Wisconsin Parkside the night before GenCon XII in 1979, after I had already graduated from law school. And I had passed by a few groups playing the game during my college and law school years. So, while I was not at the leading edge of first players, I just tried to do my best playing classic tournaments, playing around 600 different characters in 460 tournaments in a wide variety of different game systems and settings, and winning 235 of those tournaments.
Crispy Crumbly Makes Me Mumbly
People talk about the flavor of bacon in reverential tones, singing its praises, whispering its name, and seeking it out for daily comfort, particularly in time of stress. They salivate over the smoky, salty flavor. They wax eloquent about the nuanced notes differentiating applewood-smoked versus hickory-cured. They moan about the spices and sugars of candied strips of hog-fat heaven. They drool at the thought of honey or maple syrup dripping off the marbled meld of legendary lean and fat. They drone on about the smell of frying bacon wafting into their bedrooms from the kitchen, providing the most pleasurable and effective alarm clock for happy wakefulness in the morning. Bacon drives men mad, sends women into orgasmic delight, and in at least one documented instance, caused a tumult in the mellow district of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, when the aroma emanating from a bacon-only establishment saturated the neighborhood in a gentle, smoky haze not known since the Summer of Love.
Did I Help Make Ooga-Chuka a Top 40 Hit?
Now, I’m not Forrest Gump, but I have had a few minor brushes with history in my life and, oddly enough, one of them involves Blue Swede’s cover of BJ Thomas’ classic song, Hooked on a Feeling, known for its Ooga-Chuka, Ooga-Ooga-Ooga-Chuka chant. You see, in 1974, I was a sophomore at The University of Chicago, living in one of the dorms: Thompson House in the now-demolished Pierce Tower. Believe it or not, Thompson House claims credit for making Blue Swede’s version of Hooked on a Feeling a hit in the United States. Yep, we claim credit for making a song a #1 hit.
This entire story already exists, but you are only experiencing it one word at a time as you move forward through it. You could, if you choose, go to the end and attempt to read it backwards, but the narrative would be difficult and largely incomprehensible. You might, if you choose, skip ahead, skittering from spot to spot, perceiving bits and portions of the text in a sufficiently logical sequence to parse together some causal connections and get the gist of the tale without experiencing it fully. You might even go back and reread certain portions of the text, whether previously read or previously skipped, to try and discern greater understanding. But whether you skip forward or page back, nothing you do will change the substance of the tale or its internal structure, logic, and flaws.
“It’s a myth,” clucked Doris as she picked at her salad. “I don’t believe it, not for one instant.” “You’re just a spring chicken, dear,” responded Doris’ Aunt Clementine as she absent-mindedly primped and groomed herself while they sat gossiping. “You don’t understand how dangerous the world can be, how vicious.” Clementine readjusted her sitting position, shifting forward and cocking her head to one side, bringing it closer to Doris. “Why do you think your mother treasured you oh so desperately before she was taken from us? You were the only child she raised, but not the only child she might have raised. It’s so sad, really.”
Energy surged through his sinews as he ran effortlessly through the shadow-splashed night, metal-banded legs stretching and springing as they churned the decaying detritus of the forest floor. Yet he twisted and twined around the standing foliage at speed with such grace, such instinct, that he disturbed nary a dewy drop on the greenest leaf of nightshade. He raised his snout into the air, nostrils flaring to follow the scent borne on the night breeze as he sucked in oxygen more hungrily than the hottest steam boiler. His tooth-filled maw gaped open to aid the flow, saliva dripping from the corners and whipping into the air as he dodged and turned to follow his nose following his prey.
“I’m at my wit’s end, Doctor. I don’t know what to do.” The young woman pulled a handkerchief from beneath the cuff of her left sleeve and pressed it to her face. “There’s no doubt that poor Cyril is suffering and he’s getting worse and worse every day.” She sniffed, then shifted the white cloth to dab at the tears welling in her eyes. “I barely sleep and Cyril, why I don’t think he sleeps at all.” She looked over at her husband, slumped in the chair next to her, a weary, dazed expression on his face as he leaned against her, his face frantically contorted in a never-ending series of tics and twitches.
Buzz on the Street
“G’night, boss,” called out Gretchen as she used one liver-spotted hand to snatch up the cane hanging off the edge of her desk. She slung a huge, flower-print, canvas purse over her shoulder and headed toward the door to Thomas Brock’s law office. Thomas noticed his receptionist barely used the cane as she practically glided toward the exit, humming what he guessed was a Perry Como hit from a half-century or more ago.