Awake at 2 am on a Thursday morning, I decide to write this blog post instead of doing my much-procrastinated Ghiberti/Donatello course prep. Endora is to blame for my rare bout of insomnia. Sleeping with her is like having a 20-pound heat rock in bed at the best of times, but today she decided to mimic a bear skin rug by spread eagling on my chest and resting her head just beneath my chin. In an extreme state of comfort, she then began to snore. So here I am, filling the hours stretching before me by providing details about my furry, wisdom-filled week. Not that Endora is particularly wise. In fact, I think she is about as smart as a bag of hammers. Cute though.
This week I learned that wisdom and intelligence are not necessarily related, especially if you are a bull humanoid attempting to rescue the ailing wolf companion of an introverted woods-dwelling crone named Alhandra. ‘WTF?’ you might be wondering. During the in-class presentations for my course on early modern visuality, one of my adorable students went all Dungeons and Dragons on me. At first, I did not know what he was doing, but luckily I had seen the movie Role Models, providing me with a glimpse into the rather baffling world of male fantasy. ‘No that’s LARP (Live Action Role Playing), which is different from D and D,’ explained RenMan, as he finished his cardio on the ARC Trainer beside me. Impressing me once again with his arcane knowledge, in this case RenMan drew from his experience as a tweenage ‘Dungeon Master.’ According to my reliable online search, this position may involve wearing assless chaps and brandishing a whip while bossing around fat nerdy four-eyed boys, although my calisthenic companion failed to mention anything like that. This saddens me; RenMan should know by now that I never judge.
Important question: if McLovin’ had a tungsten double-sided sword and was in a fight with RenMan, equipped with a coveted warhammer, who would win? Discuss amongst yourselves. Second important question: Will all men soon cease to confide in or even like me? No need to discuss amongst yourselves.
So why on earth was my student partaking of role play in the classroom? Well, the goal of the assignment was to denaturalize vision by providing a lesson in ‘how to see,’ in keeping with the definition of visuality as the historically, culturally, and socially specific construction of visual perception. Many clever students in the course produced creative presentations: one explained how to walk past strangers in awkwardly narrow hallways by adopting an expression she called ‘bitch face.’ Another demonstrated how puffy outlines could assist visually impaired children to use colouring books. Oh how we laughed when a blindfolded volunteer identified the image of Cinderella as a banana. Others focused on ‘inner vision,’ having us adopt yoga poses or meditate, and this is where the Dungeons and Dragons scenario came in. Intrigued by this exotic and (to my mind’s eye) unappealing game, I did a little research afterwards, finding that wisdom describes a character’s willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition, whereas intelligence represents the ability to analyze information. Following up on my previous post called ‘Personality Test,’ I took a D and D quiz, answering about a hundred questions before discovering that I was a True Neutral Human Sorcerer (6th level). According to the geeky Web site: ‘True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.’ Hmmm, that seemed pretty accurate. My wisdom score was rather high, but I still needed to test it in that battlefield of all battlefields: the revs class. I am accustomed to teaching classes in a university setting, leading discussions in art galleries, and giving guided tours of revered monuments in Rome. But how would I perform as a group exercise instructor, a role that I assumed would require mad wisdom skills more than analytical ones? On Saturday I found out, taking over the first half of DYT’s class, no doubt disappointing everyone with my lesser scores in hotness, tattoos, sweetness, and cleavage. Still I did my best, working with what I had. My plan was to start with four ridiculously positive songs, including ‘Cause I’m Awesome’ by the Dollyrots, seguay with The Clash’s ‘White Riot,” and then bombard the exhausted participants with an unending stream of dismal negativity from the Smiths, P. J. Harvey, Hole, and the Decembrists. There’s nothing like infanticide to get the blood pumping, I always say! In the end, my performance was hit and miss. Things started out pretty badly with me misjuding the Jamiroquai warm up, forcing me to wing most of it and rush the stretch. The rest was all right, though, and I even managed a few ironic ‘woos!’ Helpful feedback indicated that I should: 1) talk less; 2) talk more loudly; 3) keep it simple, stupid. So it was a great learning experience all ’round. I asked the Hot Tamale to take my picture afterwards—thanks for the support sexy!—which she did. I was so hideous after leading the class, however, that I have done everyone a favour by removing my allergy-swollen-red-sweat face from the image. In the spirit of accuracy, I have replaced it with a portrait of me done by a student trained in the style of nineteenth-century French realism. Enjoy!
I’ve been a female gamer/LARPer for years. Since the crowd I game with has gotten older, it’s toned down quite a bit on the creepy mouthbreather feel. Also, gamers seem to fall into two camps: those who eschew being fit, for whatever reason, and those who try to embrace it, because it improves the chances they won’t get hit with a foam sword. My closest friends fall into the second camp, but the ones who fall into the first one seem to be “typical” gamers – miserable, single, alone, mouthbreathers with limited social skills.
My friends who have served also tell me that RPGs are a huge thing in the armed forces as well, which I find interesting. I suppose when your access to other entertainment is spotty, books and dice keep better.
In my case, D&D was great preparation for two things: temporary heterosexuality and competitive poker. Go figure.