Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Stay On, Target

This morning, I went out to run errands and to run the car a little. I didn't really have any errands I needed to run, but I wanted to get out of the house, into another neighborhood, and do something that involved other people—other than my immediate family and coworkers. Such are my needs occasionally, at this stage in the pandemic. It seems that going out into the world is a source of comfort, because this hour sojourn was just that, a search for comfort.

First stop, Burger King, for two egg and cheese croissanwiches and a large coffee. This is total comfort food, and a standby. I've enjoyed them since the early '90s, when you could still get them on "bagels" at the Burger King on the edge of campus in Evanston. I'd do my early morning radio show, go to Burger King afterward before going home, and then start my day—all before 8 a.m. as a college student. Back then, I preferred the "bagels"—and I use the term advisedly—but today they don't offer "bagels" any more, and I quite like the croissanwich itself. Usually, it's an early-morning breakfast before mustering for a Scout outdoor activity with the troop, but since the pandemic, I've popped out maybe two or three times to indulge myself on my own. Secret, silly breakfast eating in the car.

Then I went to Target. This stop had a purpose of sorts. I wanted to send a birthday card to a relative for her sixteenth birthday. We do have birthday cards at home, but this need was my excuse to get out of the house. I trawled the trading card aisle by the checkouts (sparse pickings, but some Ikoria and Zendikar Rising Magic cards), then hit the greeting cards. I tend to like getting superhero license cards when I can to help support such licensing—and thereby, comic books—but there weren't many options for women. Luckily, there was one Wonder Woman birthday card that shared a pleasant sentiment: We are all born to change the world. Happy birthday, Becca! The card is in the mail.

When I go to Target to just walk around—something I sometimes do as an adult, a form of retail pedestrianism, having done something similar with my parents growing up; we'd all go to Shopko or the mall as a family, not really needing anything in particular, just to walk around and browse—I usually spend most of my time in the games section on the edge of toys, and in the CD, DVD, and book section. For the last few years, the games section has been improving immensely, with the inclusion of card games such as Cards Against Humanity, stocking Eurogames and adjacent options such as Catan, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride.

Meanwhile, the CDs are fewer and farther between. Now down to maybe 15-20 titles, and with LPs now, as well, for the people who like "vinyls," rather than records, I suppose. Today's options included the new live Eagles record, Roger Waters's latest, Bon Jovi 2020, and records by Deftones and Linkin Park. Middle aged man rock and nu metal, with the occasional K-Pop like BTS. But the book section was rocking—and that even with the magazine section no longer existing! 

There are maybe three aisles of books now, mostly focusing on children's books, but with an OK mix of recent notable genre and tie-in fiction, including the Game of Thrones prequel, a Star Wars novelization, and a couple of Stephen King recents. But the coolest thing to see in the book section was the wide range of antiracist writing, including Ibram X. Kendi's book. Given the heightened racial tensions leading up to and following the recent election—and our country's systematic inequality and still largely unaddressed widespread racism—I am pleased that a retail chain like Target is stocking such books. Right on.

I was also pleased to see Dungeons & Dragons in public. Not only did they have the D&D Starter Set and Essentials Kit in the game section, they had the Player's Handbook in the book section! They also had The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy. I've never watched Critical Role. I love playing roleplaying games, but the idea of watching other people play roleplaying games for four hours isn't interesting to me. (Although the involvement of voice actors makes it slightly more compelling—like RPG radio; alert, Big Finish!) I don't even really like playing on Roll20 (sorry, gang!)—I'd rather play on RPOL. But the idea of a book about people playing D&D, making their own world, preparing for their own game sessions... that's a book I can get behind. I look forward to reading it.

And it's inspired me to start a new game on RPOL: Darwell's Tower. (I'm also currently running a Conan game, but it'll be wrapping up soon.) This new game will be for four to six characters levels levels 3-4—let's say 5E just for simplicity's sake. If you'd like to join in, I'd love to play online—text only, folks!—with some Media Dieticians. Just request to join on RPOL, and I'll see you there!

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