"There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind."
"Love is at the root of everything, love or the lack of it."
The movie "Won't you be my neighbor?" was a stunning documentary released last year. This year saw the dramatized version of Mr. Rodgers's life with Tom Hanks, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," which was another exceptional movie. Last year the biography “The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers" came out, which I am just starting to read. Many people are enthralled with Mr. Rodgers right now it appears. And perhaps it is easy to see why. In America right now, the reality of our schisms are constantly being thrust in our faces. We are learning the hard way that people just aren't very talented, on the whole, at dealing with the religious and philosophical differences between them. And so, many people are pining for a Mr. Rodgers in their lives right now. Someone who holds at bay their own inner turmoil, in order to kindly and compassionately deal with theirs, is what so many crave. A physical, non-mystical, loving parent or caretaker for those who never had one, or a strong friend (neighbor) with an unerringly kind heart for the rest... Too often when we research the lives of past people who have been held up as heroes we find that they had more than just feet made out of clay. This is one of the most fun aspects of history for many middle and high school students. They love to learn that Washington, Edison, or Newton had serious issues and weren't all that nice. This attitude is pervasive within society as a whole right now. We are so quick to pounce and tear at the first signs of a crack in the image of anyone believed to be good. But that's why Mr. Rodgers has become such a topic of conversation now. For once there appears to be someone who just can't be dragged down. The rumors about him turn out to be false. He really did simply put others, not just children, before himself, day after day after day. And by sacrificing himself in that way he gave so many something they are desparate for right now: an actual hero. A soft-spoken, truly kind hero.
"That's where the crows will sit. But we'll have to put an elevator to put them up there because they can't fly, but they don't know that, so they still try."
This amusing quote reminds me of the educational practice known as scaffolding. It's the act of building an intellectual structure around a student to allow them to succeed at a task which would otherwise be beyond their base abilities.
I spent part of yesterday cleaning and ran across a photo album containing a couple pictures from high school and then many from college. I decided I should probably scan them all and upload them to my Amazon Prime account to make sure nothing happens to them. It ended up being an emotional task for me. I ran across photos I had forgotten were taken. Joy, sadness, love, and heartache… These are the things that remain frozen in our neuronal patterns decades after events transpire. The specifics of the events become cloudy, ill-defined. And yet the emotion often lives on crystal clear, albeit diminished.
Within that liminal period of my life spent in college, I became friends with a group of young men and women who grabbed on to me tighter than any friends ever had before. We had in common that we were enthralled with poetry and music. The Dead Poets Society and Swing Kids were our movie anthems. In other words, we were typical, intellectual college students in the early 90s. Or maybe not. It was a foregone conclusion that we would soon start our own version of a dead poets society. Usually we would hold our meetings late at night, past curfew (our college had one), out in the woods in a little clearing we found. We dragged over some logs, found a tiny plastic table to put candles on (which caught on fire eventually), and added an incense burning tray. And then we would read our poetry. Sometimes it was poetry written by “real poets” that we found personally meaningful. Other times we read our own. We wrote poems about our lives and thoughts to share, and then sometimes poems to and in honor of each other to show that we cared. Luckily, one of our members happened to have possession of a duplicate of the master key to the college. That key came in handy after curfew, particularly when it rained. We found an attic entrance in a classroom building that we could get up into. Inside were all sorts of detritus left from decades gone by. It was a wonderfully musty, dark, and mysterious area that certainly didn’t warrant the name of “room”. And so, the poetry could continue through the storms.
In Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, written in 1938, Huizinga produced the first truly scholarly analysis of play from a sociological viewpoint. He analyzes play by comparing it as it appears in its various forms throughout all world cultures and over the course of human history.
First, he sets out to define just what play is. He determines that true play has three characteristics that set it apart from other activities. First, and foremost, play must be voluntary. There is no such thing as forced play. Play is in fact freedom itself. The second characteristic of play is that it is not part of ordinary or “real” life. It is a stepping out of the normal sphere of life into a temporal domain of its own. The third quality of play is that it is secluded and limited. It has a fixed duration, scope, and place. An essential part of this limiting characteristic of play is that it makes use of repetition and alternation. The other essential part to this limitation is the idea that play is limited in its location. It is confined to a play-ground area which has been set apart and agreed upon in advance. It is held within a "magic circle."
Another benefit of play that Huizinga brings out is that it creates order within a confused world. It is a “limited perfection”. It is a way to temporarily beat back the chaos and randomness that are such a part of life.
A social benefit of play is that it tends to create communities around itself. People who participate in play together tend to become bonded to each other. They set themselves apart through their shared play experience and draw a line between themselves and the rest of society who do not participate in the same play. Attendant upon this function of play is an air of secrecy.
This is for us, not for the “others”. What the “others” do “outside” is no concern of ours at the moment. Inside the circle of the game the laws and customs of ordinary life no longer count. We are different and do things differently.
Apparently, the board game market is growing at an annual rate of over 10% at this point. This is due to the fact that people are getting tired of digital entertainment to a larger and larger extent. Board games just feel more real and they are certainly more social than video games. According to the article, tabletop games will be growing at a faster pace than video games for the next five years at least.
This is the strangest RPG ever created I believe. Wendy's has created an entire RPG called Feast of Legends that people can download for free. It's a 97 page long pdf which has the rules and an adventure to go along with it. Wow. The entire game is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but it's actually a fully playable RPG of beginner weight.
There are classes of characters to choose between. There are various weapons and, armor, and items to gain and use. There is a map of the world as well. The items, gear, and world are all based upon humorous adaptions of things in Wendy's restaurants. All in all, it's a nicely done job for a restaurant, and seems like it would be fun to play with kids who like going to fast food restaurants. They will get the humor in the game and probably enjoy it a great deal.
Link: Feast of Legends
Paizo has released the background story of a brand-new iconic character for the Starfinder RPG. The new character is a biohacker. Biohackers will be released soon in an upcoming game supplement. So Paizo is generating a pre-sale buzz with this. Personally, I love this new iconic. She is basically Bill Nye the Science Guy when you read her story. She has a kids holovid show where she teaches them about the wonders of science. Her job title is "scientific ambassador." Science teacher by day, adventurer by night. And with that she is now my new favorite RPG pre-gen character of all time. Her new class, the biohacker, has also now become my favorite class. Nicely done, Paizo!
Link: Barsala's Background
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