Ilbog

D&D Recap: Explorer’s Club 5: The Third Adventure

Cast:

  • Khris Soden, Dungeon Master
  • Heather Thompson as Thistle Rabbitbone, a gnome rogue
  • Katy Asher as Cat “the Cunning” Powers, a human druid
  • Sam Ford as Keotsi, a human cleric of Obad-Hai
  • Angela Muldoon as Sylvia Flint, a tiefling sorcerer
  • Nik Goll as Sylvan Longstride, a half-elf rogue
  • Jess Jennings as Torq, a half-orc fighter

Pre-Game Notes

Khris formalized some house rules for future games:

  • House Rule: Inspiration: Inspiration cards are given by the players to other players as rewards for good roleplaying, clever ideas and general awesomeness. Once a player gains two Inspiration cards, they can use those to gain advantage on a role of their choice (must decide before knowing the results).
  • House Rule: Meta-gaming Penalties: Out-of-character actions or knowledge will be first met with a warning, but continued violations will be met with a loss of XP equal to 1/10 of the XP required to advance to the next level (i.e. 30 XP for 1st-level characters). Example: a player can say, “I hear owlbears are dangerous!” but they cannot say “Guys, owlbears have 59 hit points and AC 13.”
  • House Rule: Role-Play Rewards: in addition to Inspiration, at the end of the game players get a pool of XP to give to players who did a great job of playing their characters. The XP pool is equal to 1/5 of the XP required to advance to the average next level for the group (i.e. 60 XP for a group of 1st-level characters).

In addition to presenting the house rules, the group also reviewed the game rules of falling unconscious versus death, and the difference between a short rest and a long rest. Khris introduced the concept of “Downtime Activities” and noted that they will be covered at the beginning of future game sessions.

Between Adventures

Thistle and Torq had attempted to start a back alley rat fighting ring as a business endeavor. Torq was successful in capturing some larger-than-average rats, which Thistle named “Bitey” and “Li’l Peggy”. Thistle went around the neighborhood trying to generate interest in the rat fight by handing out some fliers that the two had made. She was only successful in rounding up one urchin for the audience, which didn’t matter that much because when Torq released the rats for the fight, they just ran off down the alleyway. The orphan demanded his money back, despite not having paid any money in the first place.

Rat Fight Flyer
A flier for the unsucessful rat fighting ring. (Image source: Heather Thompson)
Rat Fight Flier
A flier for the unsuccessful rat fighting ring. (Image source: Jess Jennings)

Sylvan Longstride had spent the past month gambling at card games. He showed a special knack for reading his opponents’ faces, but he himself had overly-expressive reactions to his hands that put him at a disadvantage. His attempts to intimidate his way through bluffs also regularly failed him. Ultimately, he lost 25 gold pieces out of the original 50 he’d been gambling with.

Cat had found work in a bakery, enduring long hours at the hot stove. While her hard work allowed her to live a comfortable lifestyle in a rented apartment, she instead decided to pocket her earnings and slept on the floor of the bakery.

It was unknown how Sylvia Flint had spent her past month, but at some point she became acquainted with the Walato cleric of Obad-Hai, Keotsi, whom she introduced to the Club.

Keotsi of the Walato people. His sloped head was frightening to many people in the city. (Image source: Paul Kane)

At the Free Basement Publican

The monthly Explorer’s Club meeting took place, as usual, in the Free Basement Publican around mid-afternoon. Business was slow, being populated only by the Club members, the goblin employees Arvil and Ilbog, and the fence, Beagle.

Ilbog
Ilbog, the back-of-the-house goblin that only rarely cooks with human meat. (Image source: Khris Soden)

As the club met, Jareth stopped by their table to check in on their activities. He’d heard that the club had previously helped out the two people known as Candle and Capper, and cautioned them not to meet with their employer, who had recently been lurking about the area of the Publican. After Jareth described him as a “mean, little man” to stay away from, he clarified that the person in question was human, just not of the majestic stature of Jareth. After some additional questions, the group learned that the man’s name is Newt the Lover and that the group that he travels with are known as the Modern Lovers. Before leaving the Club to their plans, Jareth bought them a round and thanked Sylvan for the coin he won off of him while playing cards.

Jareth, a David Bowie-looking character
Jareth, owner of the Free Basement Publican (Image source: Labyrinth, duh)

The group got down to the business of deciding which of their leads they wanted to explore, and the clear and early favorite was visiting the abandoned house that Thistle had been talking about for months. Cat continued to suggest taking a trip to Solar’s Hollow where the goblins that live in that area worship chickens, but nobody seemed particularly interested. Thistle insisted that visiting goblins would be a gross idea because they surrounded their houses with “poop and pee”, which insulted Arvil, the goblin that works front-of-the-house in the Publican.

Once the group had agreed upon going to the abandoned house, they first made a shopping trip to Billy Burnside’s Treasure Chest, where Sylvan purchase two bags of caltrops from the backroom. He and the clerk agreed that these would only be used for “industrial purposes”.

Investigating the Abandoned House

Once the team arrived in the neighborhood of the abandoned house, they realized that the “big house” was being described by the small gnome Thistle. The house was a regular-sized rowhouse on the corner of a semi-wealthy neighborhood. It faced another series of rowhouses where people were practicing their trades outside. Directly across from the abandoned house was a woman that ran an a laundry operation. Once a couple of the team approached her, it became apparent that Thistle had only observed the exterior of the house and that she had not interacted with the people in the neighborhood.

Sylvan ran across the street and knocked on the door, to no response. Sylvan rejoined the rest of the team, who were speaking with the washwoman. The washwoman was happy to share some of her opinions about the house and explained that it had been owned by the Dohrmann’s, and that they had moved out overnight. She was pretty happy about the development, since they were “not a good fit for the neighborhood”. Sylvan attempted to get more details about the family by claiming to be a deliveryman who had a package that he needed to deliver to the family. The washwoman wasn’t going to offer any additional details, but she did seem interested in what the package was, and wondered if it might be something that she was interested in buying. Sylvan, realizing that he didn’t actually have a package to offer for sale, tried to think on his feet and decided to try to sell the woman one of his recently purchased bag of caltrops.

Before the potential sale of caltrops could take place, Sylvia Flint and Keotsi arrived. As if on cue, Sylvia dropped her hood and Keotsi removed his headress. Whether it was Sylvia’s horns or Keotsi’s sculpted forehead, the laundry woman was frightened by their presence and came up with a quick excuse for a reason to go inside. As she was retreating up her stairs, she suggested that the group could ask more questions of the neighborhood busybody, who was eyeing them from a few doors down.

Thistle collared a nearby scamp, trying to obtain more information about the house. Sylvia offered a piece of candy as an incitement, which didn’t seem to improve the child’s attitude. After a flashing change of Sylvia’s golden eyes, the child took the candy and pretended it was a gold piece in an effort of self-preservation. Thistle offered an actual gold piece and the kid explained that the house was cursed. He said that the family got sick, and that now they have never left. He saw that Sylvan had knocked on the door, and insisted that he had now been cursed as well, since he had touched the house. At the same time, he bragged that he had touched the house.  After telling the group the makeup of the family – a mom and dad, a baby, an older son, and a “hot” girl around his age – he took off at the earliest opportunity.

A couple members of the group approached the old woman who was identified as the busybody, but she was certain that they were just as “bad” as the people who had lived in the house. She flatly stated that none of them looked like the sort of people that worshiped Pelor, and insisted that this was a neighborhood that believed in Pelor and not other “false gods” and went inside.

Torq wandered over to a butcher stand that was offering roast turkey legs for sale. Torg bought a leg and struck up a friendly conversation with the butcher. The butcher didn’t know the Dohrmann’s well, but thought that they were decent people. He noted that whatever their religion was, they seemed pretty devout and hosted regular prayer meetings at their house. He explained that before they went missing or moved away, some of these meetings had led to loud arguments that could be heard from the street. Torq bought several more turkey legs for later, and Thistle appeared to have pilfered another, although the turkey leg was comically large for her size.

Members of the group had noticed a neighbor that had been hanging out on the periphery, and they were eventually able to approach his patio without appearing too conspiratorial. He informed the team that the Dohrmann’s were followers of Wee Jas. He kept his voice in low tones after explaining this, and quickly went inside his house after talking to the group.

Cat explained to the team that she was familiar with the followers of Wee Jas. Wee Jas is a goddess of death, and some of her worshipers act as stewards to the afterlife for the dying, but other followers focus on killing people in order to provide sacrifices to their god.

After absorbing all of this information, the gang decided to leave the site for a while and regroup later in the night.

Inside the Dohrmann House

After re-grouping, the Club made their way into the alleyway behind the house. The alleyway was blocked by an eight-foot fence made of iron bars, but Thistle easily picked the lock on the gate, realizing that this was a fairly common gate used by various workers to gain access to the alleyway for pickups and deliveries. While the rest of the group worked to decide the best method of entry, Sylvan climbed to the roof quite quickly after a couple of false starts, and peeked into the windows. Keotsi cast Detect Poison and Disease, determining that nothing in the house was poisonous, but there was a low-level of disease emanating from around the back entrance, which most likely opened into a kitchen. Thistle used her ability to communicate with small burrowing animals to try to get some information from a nearby rat; the rat mostly expressed its enthusiasm for whatever garbage was on the other side of the door. Keotsi and Thistle agreed that the danger beyond the backdoor was most likely rotting garbage and the group decided to enter the house through the backdoor.

While Sylvan tried to pick the lock on the bathroom window, Sylvia created low flames in her hand and slowly burned the handle and lock mechanism out of the back door. Sylvan’s lock pick snapped around the same time that Sylvia pulled the glowing hot doorknob out of the back door and strode into the interior of the house.

After tearing a bit of their clothing off to use as impromptu masks, Torq and Thistle followed Sylvia into the house. The trio was hit with a wave of smell that was so pungent that it felt physical. Sylvia, in the weird, otherworldly part of herself, felt at home in the stench, while Torq had no problem enduring it. Thistle, even though she was masking her face, was overcome by the smell and promptly added to the mess by throwing up on the floor.

The terrible smell was apparently coming from the rotting vegetables and meats stored in the root cellar cabinets and the pantry. Liquids had leached out of both areas and were pooled on the floor. Alley rats from outside swarmed in and immediately started lapping at the liquids. Keotsi entered the room and noted that aside from the rotting organic matter, everything in the kitchen was immaculate and untouched. Thistle thought to open one of the cabinets that may have once contained meats but imagined the maggots that she’d encounter and threw up again. Torq examined the thin layer of dust across the floor and noted that the film was unbroken by any footsteps.

The team turned their attention to a door connected directly to the kitchen, and immediately noted the weird aspect of the door. The wood of the door and the wood of the door jamb had seemed to flow together and form as one solid structure. Cat entered the kitchen and ascertained that some sort of magic must have been used to conjoin the two separate features into a single wooden mass. Torq took a moment to throw his weight against the door, but it didn’t give against his force.

After noting the matter seeping from the pantry, the group decided to explore the depths of the house. An open corridor led from the kitchen to a dining room. The dining room was immaculately set, but all silverware was missing. The only item of value left in the dining room was a holy symbol of Wee Jas, hung on a wall over the dining table, but it had been damaged by a forceful blow. Sylvia noted that the holy symbol was silver, and although it was a thin bas relief, it would have taken a forceful blow in order to damage it so badly. Cat took it down off the wall for later use.

The crew proceeded from the dining room through a curtained partition and found themselves in the living room of the house. As with the other rooms they had passed through, the room was well-preserved but was absent of anything of value.

Torq noticed that there was an oil painting depicting the Woman King Elspeth above the mantle, and had the thought to look behind it. Going on his hunch, he found a leather satchel hidden in the frame behind the stretched canvas. It contained a parchment of a mystical nature. Unsure of what he had found, he handed the scroll off to Keotsi for further inspection.

Keotsi reviewed the scroll and realized that it was a magical invocation that would protect people from attacks by others. After this realization, he passed the scroll around to the rest of the group, who began to understand the magical invocations as they read it. Recognizing the ramifications of the magic in this object, an argument broke out between members of the group over who should possess it.

Keotsi, concerned about the discord created by the identification of the scroll, snatched it back and retreated to the staircase leading to the second floor. Using chance as his guide, he threw it out to the other members of the party.

As Sylvan grabbed the thrown scroll, the party heard an unmistakable noise of someone moving upstairs. Keotsi communicated what he saw: the undead corpse of a dead man trying to navigate out of a bedroom.

house floor plan
The floor plan of the Dohrmann house. (Image source: Sears Modern Homes, 1913)

The Second Floor

Torq and Sylvan charged up the stairs past Keotsi and dashed into the bedroom where Keotsi had seen the figure aimlessly bumping into the door. Once in the bedroom, they realized that there weren’t just one, but two, undead figures in the room.

Once Keotsi made it to the second floor landing, he took a moment to assess the situation and realized that there were two other zombies coming out of other bedrooms. The group was surrounded! All of the dead were wearing bed clothes, and with the exception of the mother, all of them had their throats cut.

Sylvan, suddenly realizing that he was dealing with more than one member of the undead, turned his attention to what was probably the mother. After noting that there was a jeweled dagger sticking from the side of her head, he used his swords to pierce the other side of her head before kicking her body away and stabbing it in the stomach and pushing it away from him. Once it was down, he kept stabbing it until it stopped moving. 

Thistle attacked the creature that was once the older brother, stabbing it so many times around the knee that it began to sever the tendons in the leg. It wasn’t enough to stop it from slamming into Keotsi, injuring him significantly. While Keotsi struggled to free himself from the older brother, he was also attacked by the remains of the young daughter. While he was able to beat her back, he fell unconscious from his injuries.

While Thistle continued to fight the zombie siblings, Sylvia stepped behind her and cast a bolt of fire at the daughter zombie. The spell was so well focused that it shot directly into the corpse’s mouth and exploded the zombie’s head into a spray of gore.

Just after Cat had healed Keotsi back to consciousness, she heard the noise of something slamming against the mysterious door downstairs. Once she heard the cracking of wood, she made the decision to make her way off in the night, taking the silver symbol of Wee Jas along with her as she fled.

With two of the zombies defeated, the battle quickly turned in favor of the explorers. What was the brother was taken down. Torq had been injured by the remains of the father, but was able to beat it hard enough to collapse its chest and send it to the floor. With the battle quieting down, the rest of the team was now hearing the cracking of wood from downstairs. The zombie father begin to rise from the floor, but Torq smashed its head end and ended the battle.

Once the dead had been rendered fully immobile, most of the remaining members of the group took a few quick moments to ransack the top floor of the house. The exception was Sylvan, who opened a back window and escaped off into the night. Thistle, after navigating the ichor and brains exploded throughout the daughter’s bedroom, recovered a necklace that the corpse had been wearing. The necklace was made of a fine gold and featured a large red gemstone – likely a ruby – as a pendant. Thistle also grabbed the plainest dress she could find from the girl’s closet.

Sylvia entered the parents’ room and went directly to the bassinet in the corner. Thankfully, there was no zombie baby in the bed.

Torq did a sweep of the parent’s room, finding a book with a letter in it under the mattress, and a grayish potion with silver swirls beneath one of the pillows of the blood-stained bed. 

Just after the group had fled the house, they heard the sound of the mystery door being smashed through. They didn’t slow down to look behind them.

After the House

Now late into the night, the group reconvened at the Free Basement Publican in order to assess their take. After taking some time to study the items taken from the Dohrmann house, Keotsi and Sylvia determine that the necklace is a Periapt of Health, a protection against disease, and that the gray-silver potion recovered from behind a pillow is a Potion of Stone Giant Strength. Sylvia determined that the ornate dagger retrieved from the wife’s corpse was not magic, but was probably worth some money. Torq looked at the inset pattern of jewels on the dagger’s hilt and noted that each of the stones corresponded to one of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire.

Before adjourning for the night, Torq read the letter he’d found to the group:

Dearest sister,

Please write as soon as you can, for I wish for you to tell me that my darling Alfie is adjusting to life with you. Frederick tells me that everything will be arranged for our move next month, but I worry that something will happen to us before then. Our oldest and most devout friends have turned away from the goddess and have embraced a debased darkness. They tell us that they have unleashed their “best selves” and implore us to join them, but I can plainly see the madness in their eyes. Oh, if it were up to me, we would leave this cursed city tomorrow! It pains me so much to be away from my Alfie. Please write soon to tell me that he is well.

Until the embrace of the goddess,
Isabelle​

Torq carried around the vial of the gaseous/liquid material for a few days in order to show it off to friends and acquaintances. After talking to a few people, he felt confident that this was a Potion of Gaseous Form.

A few days after visiting the house, the members of the club heard that there was a major disturbance in that neighborhood. A terrible smelling corpse had been attacking a devouring

people in the streets. Ultimately, it was taken down by eight city guards, although two were killed and four were badly injured during the fight. Once it was destroyed, the city guard determined that it was the body of a house maid.

 

Some D&D Drawings

My sister-in-law bought me a small sketchbook for Christmas last year. At first, I didn’t really know what to do with it and spent a week or so jotting down thoughts before I went to bed. Because I can be pretty dumb about obvious things, it took me a while to figure out that one of the things I could do with the book was to sketch things in it.

I hadn’t been drawing regularly for a few years, so it took me a while to figure out the things that I could sketch. It started out with weird self-portraits and drawing Donald Trump as a swastika. After a couple of months, I realized that I could start drawing scenes from the Dungeons & Dragons games that I run. I could even draw scenes in advance, and show them to the players as they were happening!

Anyway, here’s some of those drawings:

Some jerks

I can’t remember what game this came from, but white guys being assholes is a pretty consistent theme in my games.

More jerks.

Here’s some more white guys being real jerks. One of them ended up getting killed and then being made into a stew.

Frostbite dude
Frostbite hand

The above two are from a game we never got around to playing. An evil creature had trapped a small village in a never-ending winter, and a small band of people teamed together to escape the village and seek help from a neighboring town. This guy was the only one who made it to the town, but not before the evil creature (a monster called a Bheurr Hag) knocked him out and stole one of his gloves, resulting in the hand that I drew. Pro-tip: don’t Google “frostbite”!

A dumb dragon

On the way out to confront the hag and rescue the village, the D&D players would encounter this dragon, which some of them have encountered before. It’s not particularly bright – it’s pretty much a talking house cat, just much, much bigger than a house cat. A house cat that can breathe a cone of frost that can freeze people to death in seconds. The players will eventually run into this guy again.

Bheurr Hag

Here’s the Bheurr Hag that the characters would eventually have to confront. In the game lore, it’s a creature that delights in causing the suffering of others, so her goal was to try to threaten the characters enough to send them back to the town for reinforcements, thus bringing her more people to torture.

Cheaters Holler

Here’s the village that the characters would try to save. Of the 110 inhabitants, only 24 were to be alive at the beginning of the game. The Bheurr Hag wanted to drive them to cannibalism, but the village people were too smart for that – they knew about wendigos!

You might notice that there’s a ballista in the picture of the village. I’d first started planning this game back in February, and at that time, the big bad guy was supposed to be the dragon. But then this past season of Game of Thrones happened, and suddenly my plans looked like they would have been derivative! It still would have been a useful weapon to use against the hag.

The sketchbook is nearly full now, and I’ll get another one for the next year. I’ve been really enjoying doing these type of drawings, so I am sure that I will post more in the future. And if you’re ever interested in joining in on one of my D&D games, get in touch with me via Facebook.

Day 3: Donald Trump Has Been Elected President

tl;dr: It was a protest, not a riot. Don’t break windows. Not everybody can walk around, but do it if you are able to and feel safe doing it.

Yesterday after work I walked for a little over eight miles before I came home. For a very short bit of that walk, I joined last night’s protest. So I’m going to write a little bit about the protest, and a little bit about walking.

I was part of the protest for less than fifteen minutes, just during a short time as it crept along SE Grand. It was the biggest protest that I’d seen in town since the start of the Iraq war 13 years ago. I wanted to stay longer, but I was there without anyone else I knew and my nervousness around crowds of people sent me on my way. At home, I followed along Twitter and various livestreams.

There were the usual knucklehead “anarchists” that are just young white men that enjoy spray painting and smashing stuff. I put “anarchist” in quotes, because anarchy is a legitimate political philosophy that I think these guys are probably anathema to? Anyway, they’re the fringes of every protest that ever happens in Portland and while I seriously doubt they’re false flag-type plants, they’re extremely counterproductive to the overall goals of protests. They make for great photos and videos for the TV news where people at home who are angry that people are protesting, or that protestors exist, or that protesters create traffic can point their fingers at the TV and scold,”Shame!” There is not a lot of nuance in the image of someone smashing a windshield and that becomes a convenient avatar for someone’s idea of a thing they don’t like.

But like I said, these types are the very fringe of a protest – a couple dozen out of an estimated four or five thousand. So it was a little weird when the Portland Police Bureau tweeted this out a little before 9pm:

So now the whole protest was deemed a riot. “Riot” implies, at least to me, total chaos and that was not happening to the bulk of the protest. For the rest of the night, the protest in all its forms was called a riot. I don’t mean to downplay the ugly scenes that happened on NE Broadway and in the Pearl, but I felt that using the word riot was an intentional political choice, a conscious decision. Our current police chief is a former police spokesperson thus knows the importance of language. By calling the whole group a riot, this allowed the police to use different tactics, but also put the whole protest in a different frame of reference.

My concern was that the word riot would be latched on to by the media, particularly the national media, and that’s what happened. So now instead of a peaceful protest (a phrase that became a popular chant for the rest of the night), there was now rioting in the streets. In the morning, the national news on the radio was reporting that there had been a riot in Portland, and that’s now how the night will be remembered. It gives our new President-Elect a nice talking point should he want to use it. Kidding, right? Of course, Donald Trump is not going to exploit a more complicated narrative to work it towards his favor. I mean, he’ll be more nuanced, right?

Anyway, there was a bunch of damage that happened, and Portland’s Resistance, the organizers of the protest, put up a GoFundMe page to help out the affected businesses. I kicked in $10 to help out.

So: walking. As I mentioned, I walked around a lot last night. I walk around a lot in general. It helps relieve my stress, it is my own little protest against car culture and environmental destruction, and it is something that is a privilege to me as an abled white male. I want to talk a bit about these last two things, starting with walking as a privilege.

The act of walking is a basic function of everyone that has full mobility. It is a simple practice, and the primary method of locomotion throughout the bulk of human history. But it is not safe for everyone. Women are exposed to harassment walking down the street in broad daylight and who knows what imaginable horrors at night. When I think about it (and here’s a thing about privilege: I don’t have to think about it), for my entire life women have been discouraged from walking at night. “If you have to walk at night, walk with a friend.” A fundamental act has been identified as a dangerous practice – something to avoid if at all possible and certainly not something that you could possibly enjoy. And being a person of color on the street opens you up to harassment, but also subjects you to inherit bias. At least one study has shown that drivers are less likely to stop for African-Americans pedestrians than white pedestrians. Long before that study had come out, I’d seen it countless times in my real day-to-day experience: a driver might slow down to let me cross the street, but speed up and cut off the black person trying to cross right behind me. Spend enough time walking around downtown Portland, and you can witness it yourself. This has been the case in Obama’s America, and I have a feeling that it’s not going to change during Trump’s America.

This could be my own projections, but the day after the election, I saw a lot of women walking who looked more guarded than usual. I’ve read those anecdotes of street harassment including “grab her by the pussy” type exclamations or “jokes”. I haven’t seen any of it personally, but it doesn’t seem unrealistic.

Here’s my suggestion to men walking: when approaching a woman, give her sidewalk space! A good sidewalk can fit three people abreast, so walk towards the edge of the sidewalk. It is really not a hard thing to not invade someone’s space. And if you’re a fast walker, like me, be careful about over-taking women on the sidewalk. Make some noise that let’s a person know that you’re coming up behind them: it sucks for anyone to be surprised by anyone walking behind them, especially when they don’t know what that person’s intentions are.

So, my final thing: walking as protest. By not using a car when possible, I’m not burning gas, I’m not creating significant traffic, and I am not treating operating heavy machinery as a day-to-day tool. A lot of you who might read this drive as your main mode of transportation, and that’s fine. It’s your choice or need. Like I said, I have the privilege of walking, and not everybody does. Our system is built around the idea that person needs to drive, and that’s what I’m protesting – not that you have to use your car to get around. By walking as my main mode of travel, I also hope to help normalize it – to make people see that it’s aware as a possibility. But here’s a very realistic thing: my personal protest might have no effect on a single other human building.

Acknowledging the futility of walking as protest is something that is important for me to recognize, but I feel like its something important to think about. Any individual protest action might not have an affect on anybody. Our individual actions might not have a significant effect on influencing anything or anyone else. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it, because it does have some effect, if nothing else but to give you a little hope. I’ve got a lot more thoughts on this idea, but I think maybe it needs to wait for a different post.

Day 1: Donald Trump Has Been Elected President

I went to bed after several drinks last night, not surprised but not fully prepared for where the election was headed. Heather, my wife, came into bed later, crying and holding me and confirming what I feared. I felt numb, and comforted her as best as I could.

I woke up this morning with the same dumb numbness, but NPR came on to the alarm clock. The announcers were too upbeat for the reality, and Heather started crying again. I shut it off and lay in bed. I didn’t look at Facebook and I didn’t look at Twitter. I didn’t know what to do. When I thought about what to do, I thought about deleting both my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I had an idea, an idea that stills seems reasonable, that interacting on social media instead of in person was destroying us. I’d also attended a demonstration the previous day of software that efficiently scrapes all of your social media for immediate review and consumption. I was thinking about how President Donald Trump might use this technology. President Donald Trump. I checked a few permission settings on Facebook and walked in to work.

Nobody harassed me on my walk into work – it was no worse of a walk than usual. The day progressed as normal, with the exception that I greeted people with “Hello!” instead of “Good morning!”

There was a protest happening after work, just a block away from me over at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and I considered joining. I was starting to feel again, realizing that this is our new reality and that to be numb and turn away from it is the equivalent of apathy and death. I also wanted to go to the Library, where I do my research on Wednesdays. I decided to check out the protest, which filled Pioneer Courthouse Square. A thousand people, easy. There was also a contingent of sad men that supported Trump doing a counter-protest. I decided that the crowd was big enough that it didn’t need me, so I went to the Library.

The Library was closed. I’d later learn that the Library was closed due to the protest, but it felt really fitting that a library would be closed the day after Trump won the presidency. I decided to join the protest.

I couldn’t find the protest at first, which seemed silly considering the amount of news helicopters hovering above the city. I walked around for a while and finally found the protest as they were taking the Morrison Bridge. As a pedestrian and a guy who hates cars, I love a protest that shuts down traffic, but I have a lot of empathy for car drivers that are frustrated by sitting in that traffic. I want to help shut down traffic, but then I think about the person sitting in their car (idling, needlessly) who gets mad about the protest without thinking about what the protest is trying to accomplish. I decided not to join in, and kept walking around.

I walked through Waterfront Park, which was close enough for me to enjoy the protest, but not to be part of it. As I was walking, I heard the horrible crunch of metal hitting a smaller metal target. The sound came before my sight, but it happened in such a way that I turned my head towards the noise and saw a bicycle and a bicycle rider flying through the air. It took me a second to process, and while I was understanding what I saw, the driver who hit the bicyclist pulled off to the side of the road. The bicyclist pulled himself from the ground and immediately started staggering into the park. He saw me calling 911 and waved my concern off – it seemed pretty obvious that it was a stolen bike that he had left demolished behind him. I paused for a moment before pressing “dial” on the call before deciding not to dial. I feel a lot of concern about the health of the guy, but he didn’t want that call to be placed. I stopped the call. Whatever that guy’s scenario was, I hope he got the help he needed.

The driver stayed behind, and was clearly concerned about the cyclist. I didn’t see what led to the crash, but the abandoned bike was demolished. The driver behind the driver also stopped to get out. They were both concerned about the crash, albeit in different ways. The driver that hit the man on the bicyclist told me “he ran a red light!” I’d normally take issue with that – you should always travel at an appropriate speed to anticipate unknowns – but this injured dude just booked it. I advised both drivers that the guy did not want help, and left. I don’t feel very good about it. That driver was driving fast enough to send a person through the air. Confronted with a crash that sent a bike rider into the air, I left that driver to deal with his own conscience.

After the traffic crash, I never caught back up with the protest even when I followed the news helicopters. I was within blocks of it, but never got close to join. On the Esplanade, I enjoyed the calm of one direction of traffic being shutdown.

I got off of the Esplanade and climbed the stairs at the Burnside bridge. A pickup truck drove by me and a passenger yelled “WOOOO TRUMP PENCE!”. At the Burnside/MLK intersection, someone gunned their engine as they sped around the turn. I don’t think that’s related to the election, because it happens all the time, but I assume the perpetrator was a Trump supporter. That might be unfair! Who knows.

As I got closer to my house, I walked through the houseless encampments in my neighborhood. As a white male, I have the agency to do this – a lot of women, regardless of color, feel unsafe doing this. It’s understandable! A lot of houseless people in our neighborhood have taken to carrying improvised weapons with them – it’s a threatening scene.But like they need to arm themselves. They’ve been attacked a lot, politically and physically. I saw a lot of houseless people emerge after the Great Recession of 2008, and I’m seeing more of them appearing now.

I walked by a couple of houseless youths, one armed with a crowbar and the other armed with an axe. The guy with the crowbar got in my face and yelled “Fuck Trump!” I responded by saying “I agree!” He was a little startled.

I don’t feel numb anymore. Here’s our first day. We can’t run, we must be present. We have to acknowledge our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, our biases, and we have to fight. We have to fight.

Here’s Ted Cruz as One of Santa’s Elves

It’s easy to think that the Internet is home to every crazy image that you can possibly imagine, but sometimes it fails you. And when that happens, you just have to come up with the image yourself. With that in mind: Dear Internet, please accept this image of Senator Ted Cruz as one of Santa’s elves.
ted_cruz_holiday_elf

Know Your City Louie Louie Sing-A-Long Poster

Last month, I designed and illustrated a poster for Know Your City‘s World’s Largest Sing-A-Long event. Here’s the poster:

kyc_louie_louie_posterAnd here’s a larger version of the main image (members of the crowd include a Where’s Waldo type guy, an elf, Marge Simpson’s hair, a cat, and someone throwing devil horns):

kyc_louie_louieI didn’t get a chance to make it to the actual event, but it was fun project to be a part of. I hadn’t designed a poster in probably about 8 years, but it reminded me how much I enjoy doing it. If you need a poster made, hit me up at khris.soden@gmail.com.

City of Roses: The Adventures of Mayor Harry Lane

 

Mayor Harry Lane, in office from 1905 to 1909, is one of my favorite mayors that Portland ever had. If you’ve never heard of him, you should read the Wikipedia entry on him. Some of his highlights: “Father of the Rose Festival”, pro-suffrage and anti-white supremacy (unlike his grandfather). Oh, and he ended up being a US Senator, too. He hated corruption, and was very hands-on with some of his practices. According to E. Kimbark MacColl in The Shaping of a City (pages 340 – 341), the two incidents drawn in the comic were described by Harry Lane himself and widely reported by others.City of Roses: Mayor Harry Lane Part 1City of Roses: Mayor Harry Lane

The MoHDI Illustrations

Two years ago, my friend Drew Anderson started his website Millions of Hundred Dollar Ideas, or “MoHDI” for short. I ran into him one night, and he asked me to draw a burglar mask for him in his sketchbook. I did as he asked, and saw my burglar mask drawing up on his website a few days later along with, to my surprise, something to the effect of an announcement that I was the newest staff member. Drew’s one of these guys who does not stop thinking, no matter what, and he’s coming up with this constant stream of crazy ideas. One of those ideas was that I should quit my job and work for him on MoHDI. That never happened, but I did do a few illustrations for him over time. I’ve never really collected them in one spot, but I figured I should do something with them, so I’ve posted them below. The “khrissoden.org” on each of the images is a new addition that arose from the “Famous Sock Puppets in History” image; I get about 2000 image hits on that a month, and after a couple of years of that I finally decided that maybe I should advertise myself a bit.

Otterpop Bandolier
The Otterpop Bandolier
The Self Drunk Test
The Self Drunk Test
Famous Sock Puppets from History
Famous Sock Puppets from History

The next two aren’t ones that I came up with, but were ones that I was requested to draw. I think that Drew submitted the “Securi-pee” (definitely not my idea) to a couple of invention contests or something:

Popsicle Protector
Popsicle Protector
the Securi-Pee
the Securi-Pee

Get it while it’s still around

The Virginia Cafe

The Virginia Cafe and Zell's

The Dental Arts Building

 

The next few months will be your last chance to visit the Virginia Cafe, Rice Junkies, or the fabulously out-dated Zell’s department store. The entire block is slated for demolition within a few months, and will soon give rise to a 30+ story high rise. So much for seventy years of history, and a Park Block that never manifested itself.

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