The Last Word
How cool people play D&D
Dungeons & Dragons isn’t just for nerds. Cool people like me play it too, and we have our own special
Last month’s Last Word clued you in on some of the nuts and bolts of D&D. If cool people play D&D,
just call me the Fonz! After largely forgetting about this game for 20 years, I’ve recently started remembering
how much Dragons & Dungeons I played in my youth. Tender memories came rushing back!
They have D&D on the Internet now too—sort of. After the 4 th edition of D&D sent Gary Gygax and
Dave Arneson birling in their graves, Pathfinder largely picked up where D&D left off. Best all, many of
Pathfinder’s goodies are offered online for free! So I’ve dredged up my old blue plastic Dungeon Dice (that came
with a crayon) and spent the past couple weeks slaying goblins and collecting treasure!
How exactly does a cool person play D&D? By...bipping! Just joking. Here’s some suggestions for how to
go Dungeoning & Dragoning if you’re cool like me...
• Whenever your party of characters is caught in a seemingly inescapable situation, put on your best
Shaggy from Scooby-Doo voice
and groan, “We’re doomed,
• When the Dungeon
Master asks you what weapons
you want for your character, say
you want the bubble gun and the
Blistex missile—both of which are
• Grumble about how a
dungeon that has only one exit is
violating the fire code.
mentions the “Keep On The
around and sing, “The keep, the
keep...The biscuit keep, the coffee
keep, the Billy Joel keep!”
• Every time someone
mentions the “stinking cloud”
spell, make a fart noise.
• Every time someone
mentions the “stinking cloud” spell and makes a fart noise, laugh uncontrollably.
• Whenever somebody shoots a poison arrow, start singing the song by ABC—just to show you’re hip to
• Talk nonstop about henchmen.
• Make an audio recording of all the babyish arguments that always erupt whenever an undead monster
drains a character of a level or when someone demands that they get to roll again when they roll a 1 for their hit
• Tell the Dungeon Master that Obamacare should cover the 50 gold pieces it costs for a vial of antitoxin.
Now I’m gonna use a phrase that I bet you’d forgotten about. It’ll send you back to the earliest D&D
days. Ready for it? Here it comes...
I don’t think I’ve ever heard the world electrum anywhere except D&D. But because I’m cool, I used to
call them “Electric Company pieces”—like the children’s show. Just for cool time’s sake, I include electrum
pieces in my current D&D campaign even though D&D officially abolished them decades ago. It’s like D&D’s
answer to the $2 bill. Sort of like the 12-sided dice.
In my new D&D campaign, one of the fighter characters carries a 50-foot hemp rope, which has already
been used to rescue characters from pits. Our party was also sickened by toxic gas that filled the hallway of our
dungeon—as if someone had ripped a silent-but-deadly bunker blast.
In my youth, we misused the Deities & Demigods book to slay gods—even though the book specifically
warned against this. The warning was issued despite the fact that the book listed statistics for each god as if they
were monsters from Monster Manual. Wink wink, nod nod. Also, the D&D people were threatened with a lawsuit
for making this book, because some other publisher somewhere claimed they owned a copyright on gods.
As D&D grew, it added more labyrinthine rules that seemed to govern every conceivable situation. I’m a
slow reader, and I can’t possibly digest every single rule, but the Pathfinder website says the rules should be
changed to fit the needs of your gaming group. Surely, however, somebody will bellyache that not following each
rule to the letter makes the game unrealistic. This is a game that involves casting spells against mythical creatures,
and somebody is worried about it being unrealistic?
Take for instance the random dungeon generation tables that were buried in the back of one of the old
D&D books. I adored using these tables to create dungeons, but it was never clear how to implement some of the
items in them. Recently I found a copy of these tables on the Internet and began rewriting them for my own
campaign. Here’s part of the map of the dungeon I started making...
The dungeon isn’t complete, of course. This campaign had only started exploring it. A couple passages
have short streams—approximately 10 feet wide—running down the middle that end at the wall at the end of the
passage. It’s presumed that they form from moisture leaking from the surface, and they end as they pool against
the wall. Then again, I’ve started my entire campaign over from (screech!) scratch, because the important combat
rules are explained so poorly on the website that I’d applied them inconsistently. I’ve also downloaded a free
honeycomb graph paper pattern to build a better dungeon, but instead I started a new dungeon without it.
In this revamped campaign, we encountered a monster called a mimic. Here’s another thing cool people
do during D&D: When we coolsters run into a mimic, we start chanting, in a high-pitched voice,
But the text of the D&D books of the ‘80s used the Sesame Street font.
Changing your outlook on Outlook...for the worse!
For as much as The Media shouts about the supposed failure of the Obamacare website—even though I
didn’t have a shred of trouble using it—it would only be fair if they were just as harsh on Microsoft’s
Outlook.com e-mail service. But nope. The right-wing press does of course ignore all of Outlook’s problems and
outright lies. They have a narrative to fulfill, don’t ya know.
A few months ago, I switched my e-mail over to Outlook.com because my new ISP doesn’t have e-mail
as part of its basic package. It didn’t take long before it became clear that Outlook was losing important e-mails I
expected to receive.
I demanded a prompt explanation on Outlook’s forum about this unacceptable state of affairs. Outlook
tried blaming me, saying it must have been because of filter settings I chose. They told me to check my junk mail
folder. But it was completely empty.
I had been receiving some spam, and it wasn’t shunted to the junk mail folder. So why would legit e-mail
be blocked altogether?
Outlook also told me to go through my blocked senders list and add addresses from it to my safe senders
list if I wanted to get e-mail from them. But if I wanted to get e-mail from them, I wouldn’t have put them on the
blocked list in the first place. The missing e-mails weren’t from anyone on the list.
It gets ridiculouser.
Outlook then told me to open my safe senders list and add addresses of everyone I’d like to receive e-mail
from. In other words, I was supposed to add every conceivable address that I might ever receive a legitimate email from—even ones I didn’t know existed yet. The number of such addresses is infinity. It would be literally
impossible to add them all.
I replied to Outlook and told them there was nothing in the junk folder. Outlook then “investigated” and
told me they weren’t blocking any of my e-mail. One of Outlook’s self-styled support geniuses said, “I’ve
rechecked your account and confirmed that there’s no issues on it.”
But there were. When the problem failed to go away, I scoured the Internets (sic) for a possible solution to
Now I’ve discovered something very interesting. Remember, I use Windows Live Mail. Windows Live
Mail and Outlook.com are designed to go together. I discovered that Windows Live Mail has a default setting that
says blocked e-mail doesn’t go to the junk folder. Instead it gets deleted completely—without a trace. Since that
was a default setting, it wasn’t something I actually chose. So I changed the setting so it put blocked e-mail in the
junk folder instead of deleting it.
Then e-mails that I expected—which I otherwise wouldn’t have received at all—started filling the junk
folder. The junk folder was now half spam and half good stuff. From now on, I was going to have to wade through
it to sort out the useful stuff—which defeats the whole purpose of having a spam filter or a junk folder. Worse,
months of important e-mails were gone—
gone into thin air. That’s because this
didn’t bring back the e-mails I missed.
Outlook’s website has a feature that
supposedly resurrects deleted e-mails—but
I tried it, and it didn’t do a damn thing.
I hate people who lie to me.
Outlook had told me they weren’t blocking
any e-mail. They lied. This proves it. And
they never told me I could change the
settings so mail intended for the junk
folder wouldn’t be completely erased.
Now here’s the best part: While
some of the blocked e-mail now goes to the
junk folder where I can retrieve it, I’m
continuing to miss some important e-mail
altogether. It never even makes it to the
junk folder—which means Outlook is
losing or deleting it before it gets there.
There’s no setting that lets me remedy this.
(Among the items being labeled as spam by Outlook were important Google Alerts notices that I’d signed
Where’s The Media? If they “expose” the Obamacare website’s supposed troubles, they should expose
Outlook’s woes too. Then again, in the 2 years before the Affordable Care Act started kicking in, I had dealings
with 2 different private HMO’s that Republicans in Kentucky had crammed down my throat, and the website for
each HMO was completely unusable. Each HMO changed my doctor without my permission, and I went to their
website to change it back. In both cases, the section of the website that’s supposed to let you change your doctor
didn’t work. So I had to make a toll call to change it by phone. With the second HMO, I had to make a second toll
call because they couldn’t fix it the first time—after they had put me on hold for a half-hour. Why won’t the popup media expose the incompetence of the HMO’s that the Republican statists have required us to use?
My previous ISP—Cincinnati Bell’s Zoomtown—also had a regal clusterfuck of a website and was an
inferior ISP to boot. I finally ditched them because they illegally blocked websites because of content. Health care
companies can’t be expected to specialize in websites, but you’d think telcoms like Cincinnati Bell and software
giants like Microsoft would. So that makes the bad websites sported by Zoomtown and Outlook much more
inexcusable than that of Obamacare.
At least the President isn’t digging holes in people’s front yards without asking. Cincinnati Bell is digging
huge holes in yards in Fort Thomas without telling residents or getting their permission. They started on this just
before Halloween, no less—exposing trick-or-treaters to falling in the holes. The deep holes are covered only by
deceptively thin plywood.
Outlook.com is unreliable. For a service as popular as Outlook, it’s hard to believe that its
undependability can fly under the radar for any length of time. It’s not like we can trust Google’s Gmail either: I
tried getting a Gmail account, but Google wrongly claimed I had already set one up using an indecipherable string
of letters as my address—and they wouldn’t let me change my address. Why? Just because. They said they can’t
change addresses. No particular reason. Yahoo! is not an option, for Yahoo! is in cahoots with the government of
Red China, as it rats out journalists to the Bush-like regime there. What other choices are there, and how do we
know we can trust them?
For Outlook to lose e-mail like this is criminal. Think what the response to Outlook’s criminal instability
would be in the Old West. Envision the Gum Fighter from the Hubba Bubba commercials confronting whoever is
behind the loss of my e-mails. Granted, the gallows would be reserved for much more serious offenses than this,
but I have no doubt that some punishment would nonetheless be in store. Most likely, the Gum Fighter would
have no words except to say to his white-haired sidekick, “Do the honors.” Upon this order, the Fighter’s
henchman would escort the offender to the town square as the townsfolk looked on. Then he would extend each of
his pinky fingers, thrust each digit into a corner of the offender’s mouth, and lift each corner upward with all his
might—in full view of the local citizenry. This humiliation and dishonor to the offender would be a sufficient
But this isn’t the Old West. So Microsoft owes me not less than a gabillion zillion dollars for losing
countless important e-mails. We need to have stronger laws to hold them accountable—because I’m angrier than
Nightmare on Sesame Street (a blast from the past)
Now it’s time to dig deep into the recesses of your memory to recall one of the most uproarious things
ever to be reported in these pages.
The Last Word of June 23, 2001, regaled you with the “Nightmare On Sesame Street.” That was the
name of a JPEG image that had been uploaded to alt.config, of all places...
If you don’t roll on the floor in a helpless convulsion of heehawing after seeing that, then your laughing
ears must be broken.
Oh, and there was no copyright notice anywhere on that picture. So if anyone tries to sue me for
reprinting it, tough toilets.
‘01 bike theft almost solved?
In the past couple weeks, a funny thing has happened. Not tee-hee funny but weird funny.
Remember back in 2001 when somebody stole a brand new bicycle from me? I’d given up hope of ever
seeing it again. But recently, on a Campbell County-centered Facebook group, I posted a message asking if
anyone knew about the hulking velocipede’s disappearment—just on a whim.
I was stunned by one of the replies. A bloke replied with a detailed description of the missing bikey, along
with something like, “Nope. Never seen it.” I hadn’t described the bike in significant detail on this group, so it’s
mighty fascinating that he can almost immediately come up with a perfect description of it—12 years after it was
stolen—while seemingly taunting the group about its misappearance.
That’s a guy who’s about 65 years old, so I’m thinking he might be a retired Bellevue cop who
remembers the old police report I made and just likes to play games with the group. But what I think is more
likely is that somebody else stole the bike from my building and ditched it along a street somewhere in town
because they were about to get caught—and the guy on Facebook found it and is psychotic enough to assume that
he has the right to claim it. Finders keepers, losers weepers—because libertea, don’t ya know.
What other explanations are there?
Even if my second hypothesis is correct, I’m not saying he did anything illegal—except mayhaps
receiving stolen property, which is itself a criminal offense. If he kept a bike that a thief had abandoned on the
street, he should have known it was stolen, because I sure as shit didn’t ditch it myself.
I can’t pursue charges for that, because I’ve already forgotten what the man’s name is. The group has
otherwise become full of right-wing hate speech against non-Christians and HUD residents—which was so
vitriolic that I left the group and haven’t been back. Now I can’t read what’s posted there, because I’m not in the
group. Not being able to read it is a mixed blessing, if you will: Now I won’t have to read compilations of halfcentury-old Phyllis Schlafly propaganda, but this comes at a price of not getting my bike back. So it’s a bargain
My greatest fear is that the guy who replied to my post about the missing bike actually is the person who
stole it, and he knows authorities won’t go after him for it, because local government is so corrupt that they’re
running a stolen goods ring, and the theft of my bike is part of it. The county is crooked enough to do such a
thing. I’ve already seen plenty of arrogance on Facebook from local patronage appointees who brag about their
illegal activity because they know nobody’s going to bust them.
When I left the Facebook group, I told them in some rather firm language what I thought. Hopefully they
took it hard. I promptly started a separate group with the exact same name—in case anyone wants a group free of
Remember a toy called a Magna Doodle?
The life of a Magna Doodle is often beastly and short, and the Magna Doodle likes it fine that way. The
Magna Doodle is the secret love child of the Etch-a-Sketch and the Skedoodle and—as a result—has been forced
to grow up too fast. Early experimentation with alcohol and other adult themes is a norm in the life of a Magna
Doodle. Maladaptive behavior seems to come naturally to this strange being.
But seriously. I had this toy when I was about 7. Wikipedia says over 40 million Magna Doodles have
been sold around this big, mean world of ours, and the product still exists. This classic plaything is a magnetic
drawing board with a set of small magnetic shapes. The Magna Doodle is also used by divers who find that it’s
impossible to use a pen and paper underwater. However, the Magna Doodle’s parts can rust.
Anybip, I had my Magna Doodle for approximately a month. I was playing with it in the living room one
day when we hosted relatives. I set it on the floor as I skittered into the bedroom for some reason. Because of the
bright orange color of the Magna Doodle’s plastic parts, it should have been easily visible against the celery green
carpet, so there’s no way anyone shouldn’t have been able to see it approaching.
I guess I misoverestimated the cautiousness of our guests. While I was in the bedroom, crouching in a
northeasterly direction, I heard an earsplitting crunch coming from the living room. It sounded thoroughly
horrendous. Then I heard my mom call to me from the living room, “You don’t have a Magna Doodle anymore.”
That was because one of my visiting relatives had unthinkingly stepped on it—reducing it to a useless
Was that my fault? I think not. If I had accidentally trampled somebody else’s Magna Doodle, you can bet
your birdseed I wouldn’t get an allowance for weeks. But since my Magna Doodle was on the receiving end of
somebody else’s tomfoolery, it was somehow my fault for placing it on the floor.
Can’t people watch where they walk? Magna Doodles are not invisible. And it wasn’t even out in the
middle of the floor where people were likely to step. It was off to the side near the couch. People were constantly
piling items such as week-old newspapers and dog toys right in the middle of the floor. Imagine if you can the
outcry that would have resulted if I had stampeded into the living room and moonwalked all over my parents’
precious Cincinnati Enquirer Sunday magazine supplement that was obstructing the right-of-way.
The destruction of my Magna Doodle reminds me of the Goop Tales story where one of the grownup
characters walks all over a child’s dollhouse furniture and breaks it. The so-called adults blame the child for
leaving the toys on the floor—even though it’s clearly the fault of the man who didn’t look where he was walking
and stepped on the toys. (I remember this narrative being accompanied by a hilarious drawing of the man
carelessly traipsing through the room with a scowl.) Nothing’s ever an adult’s fault, is it?
So that was the end of my Magna Doodle. It left our lives as quickly as it came.
About 15 years later—in 1995—Magna Doodle was in the midst of a TV advertising campaign. The
commersh concluded with a child intoning, “Magna...Doodle!”...
I saw the ad precisely twice. The first time, I was at my grandparents’ house, and the ad crept up on us
and brang back the bittersweet memories of the broken Magna Doodle. The second time was right before Cops
one Saturday evening.
But the commercial was actually a little bit frightening in light of the ruinment of my Magna Doodle. The
jingle had sort of a sad tone, as if the child was lamenting my Magna Doodle’s senseless loss.
Sort of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?
Some kids out there will never have a Magna Doodle in their lives. We can ill afford to let another Magna
Doodle go to waste due to adult carelessness.
People cheated in college
As the Rand Paul plagiarism scandal progresses, it’s time for a shocking revelation about college life.
The embattled Tea Party senator has been caught plagiarizing passages for several of his speeches, books,
and editorials. He even stole some material from the Associated Press. What does this scandal say about Paul’s
Some of my college classmates sported a similar lack of honesty. Personally, however, I’ve never cheated
on an important school exam—the key word being important. I remember a couple times in grade school or
middle school when I “cheated” by having the book open in my lap or by using a calculator for math problems—
but those tests weren’t actually important. Plus, I made no effort to avoid getting caught. Remembering the Little
House On The Prairie episode where several schoolchildren cheated on a test, I feel somewhat guilty having
“cheated” on any schoolwork—even though I was no older than 13—but you really had to be there to appreciate
the situation. Walk a mile in my shoes, and you’ll understand.
College though was a less frivolous matter. In college, I studied like my life depended on it.
I saw somebody cheat on a psychology test in college. I couldn’t do shit about it, of course, because I
didn’t have proof. Besides, if the cheaters were athletes, NKU probably wouldn’t have punished them anyway,
since jocks were usually above punishment there.
Sometime later, in a health class we were required to take, the professor relayed a story of a past student
who had cheated on a major exam. She warned the class that she photocopied each of our completed test papers
and kept them in her office. Apparently she never used to warn folks—for she said that one time, she gave graded
tests back to students, and one student then
erased one of his incorrect answers and replaced
it with the right answer, then complained to the
professor that she had mistakenly marked it
wrong. This student was busted because the
professor had the photocopies. Thus endeth that
student’s academic career.
Cheating in school shouldn’t be a
criminal matter. The thuggish harassment
emanating from Brossart was never treated as a
criminal matter regardless of how far the
violence extended outside of school, so would it
really be fair to break out the flogging post for cheaters? Serial cheaters—at least those who don’t have money or
clout—inevitably crash and burn anyway. As they go through life, they gradually discover they’re not as smart as
they thought they were. Of course, those who do have money and clout become Tea Party members, but that’s
another matter entirely.
For a politician to plagiarize a book may not be a criminal matter, but it’s surely a civil matter. We have
this little thing called copyright. So what Rand Paul did was worse than what I witnessed in college. And for a 50year-old senator to lift copyrighted material for his books and speeches is certainly worse than a 10-year-old
trying to make a point by “cheating” on his test on Spanky The Cowhorse by having the book open in his lap.
Here’s a safe bet: If I was running for Senate, and it came out that I had “cheated” in 5 th grade, The Media
would never shut up about it—even though they haven’t been making much of Rand Paul’s recent plagiarism.
The Tea Party blooper reel, 2006 style (a blast from the past)
On Usenet, the Tea Party was the Tea Party even before it was the Tea Party—and the now-defunct
Conservative Fool of the Day blog was on the case!
Here’s an uproarious story of “values voter” stupidity that you may have forgotten about—but I didn’t. I
store things like this in the deep recesses of my kaleidoscopic long-term memory. It has to do with the
Conservative Fool of the Day entry for June 29, 2006. The topic of that entry was someone who appeared to be a
man in the Atlanta area using an alias on Usenet. (I assume he was male because he used a man’s name.)
That was the same week customs agents found Rush Limbaugh with Viagra, so there was lots of
humiliation going around in Far Right circles. You could tell that day’s ConservaFool entry was frustrated—for he
ranted and raved about anal sex instead of trying to argue intelligently.
He posted a tirade attacking the New York Times for daring to report on one of Bush’s many spying
programs. This harangue was spammed to multiple newsgroups. You’re gonna gyrate with uncontrollable laughter
when you read it. This right-wing tirade (which has so many misspellings that I’m not even going to bother to
correct them) declares...
“I cant beleive that a pogrom than our President Bush devised to protect us from another
9-11 attack was exposed by the New York Times!
“This tresonous rag has exposed a perfectley legal, perfectley sensible goverment
operation that has undoubetedly helped round up hundreds of members of muslims that want
to destroy the American way of life and saved the lives of count less Americans. Exposing such
a secret pogrom is not whistel blowing it is high treson.
“When I say ‘treson’ I dont mean it in a hyperboleic way. I mean in a literal way. we need
to find these Time’s reporters, these 21 st century Julius Rosenburgs, these reincernations of
Algor Hiss and Marta Hairy and hang them by the neck until they are dead, dead, dead.
“No sympathy. No mercy.
“Just in the same seething way I was angry on 9-11. These reporters have endangered
American lives and American security. They need to be outed, and executed.”
Whoever posted that far-right screed sounds like the same person responsible for the misnamed Liberals
United for American Progress page on Facebook—which is anything but liberal, for they’ve demanded hanging
whistleblower Edward Snowden on Times Square. Don’t worry though. The Facebook page is being called out as
we speak—since it’s probably run by a right-wing troll who was hired to make the liberal brand look bad.
Now, back to that Usenet haranguer from 2006. He also posted this...
“The New York Time’s is controlled by Homosexual Socialists who hate America. It
appears it skews their vision of reality.
“Cocaine and Butt fucking will
do that you know”
Here’s the funniest rant that he
“What’s funny is DemoRATS
support and encourage Men fucking
each other in the asshole.
conservative fuck his wife with a hard
“DemoRATS are just little penis
The conclusion was clear. For years,
the Republican National Committee had been
hiring people to go on Usenet and flood it
with right-wing talking points—much as they
do with comment sections of newspaper
websites now. That time, one of their
operatives posted the above garbage and
replied to himself under a different name to
try to whip up support for his ideas. When he
did so, the RNC tumbled down with such a thud that all you could hear was us laughing.
I’d actually forgotten that I’d dredged up the last of the above rants at least twice on The Online
Lunchpail. Once, it was in an entry regarding a Republican commenter using anti-Jewish invective to denounce
As long as the right-wing brain trust keeps it up, count on some rather lopsided election results in the
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