a dream can mean anything

Nolan and I ended up brushing our teeth at the same time last night, and while we stood next to each other in the bathroom, he looked at me in the mirror and said, "I had a really good time this weekend, Wil."

I dumped toothpaste foam all over the place as I said, "I did, too."


I was supposed to head out to the Infamous Murderer’s Row homegame for some crazy poker action, but several events conspired to keep me home, where I played in the Donkeys Always Draw Heads-Up Championship. My results are over at CardSquad.


My brother has this hawesome remote controlled car that he got from woot last year. Nolan has this equally hawesome remote controlled car that he got from the remote controlled car place last month. I have this cool barbeque and a freezer filled with meat.

Nolan put those things together and planned on a Saturday barbeque and car race, but the weather babe on KCAL kept telling us it was going to rain, so Jeremy and Nolan rescheduled Saturday’s festivites for Monday, which was a school and work holiday.

Anne was out for the day with her friend, so the kids and I spent the day in true guys-home-aone fashion: even though it didn’t rain, it was freezing cold here (by Los Angeles standards) so we spent most of the day inside watching movies and playing Pirates! on Xbox. I think we reheated some food, but mostly ate chips and salsa. Hawesome.

Late in the afternoon, while I stood in front of the refrigerator and tried to talk myself into preparing dinner (rather than ordering pizza), the kids walked into the kitchen together.

"Hey, Wil," Ryan said, "can we play D&D?"

"Yeah," Nolan said, "you keep saying that we’ll play, but we never do."

"Guys," I said, "you know that I haven’t had time to put together an adventure."

Their shoulders slumped.

"But!" I said, "I have an idea that may be even more fun than D&D."

I closed the refrigerator door, and went to the phone to order pizza.

"Go to my Big Trunk of Games, and bring out Munchkin."

I ordered a large pepperoni, and met them at the dining room table. Nolan held the box in his hands.

"So this is just like D&D," I said, "without any of the annoying role playing."

I opened the box, and split the cards into treasure and door piles.

"The thing is," I said, "you can’t take this game seriously. At all. Even a little bit. The whole point here is to screw with each other and come up with really lame ways to beat each other up."

"I think I’m going to love this," Ryan said.

I walked them through the rules, and we started our first game. I desperately hoped that they’d grok the game, and wondered if they’d get into the spirit of Munchkin.

A few hands into the game, when I was at about level four or five, I used up a few cards to defeat a level 10 Floating Nose.

"Uh, that’s an Ancient Floating Nose Ryan said, tossing down a card an pumping it up to level 16. Okay,  Ryan gets it.

I played a most of my remaining cards, and said, "Okay, I defeat the Floating Nose!"

"Yeah, you sure did," Nolan said, "but guess what?" He drew a card from his hand and slammed it down on the table. "It has a mate! Ohhhhh, sorry about that." Okay, Nolan gets it, too.

"Aw, crap!" I said. I looked through my hand, and pulled out a +2 Buckler of Swashing, worth 400. "Okay, I bribe the Floating Nose’s mate and make a masterful escape."

"Oh man!" Nolan said. "I’ll get you next time!" He made a fist at me and shook it. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had so much fun with the two of them.

During our second game, I asked Ryan to help me defeat a Pukachu, which Nolan had made Humongous.

"What’s in it for me?" He said.

"Well, how about I let you take half the treasure, and I give you this +2 Singing and Dancing Sword?"

"Well, I’ll ask heem, but ah don’t think he’ll be very keen," he said, in a bad French accent, "he’s already got one, you see!"

I blinked at him. Did he just quote Holy Grail at me?

He snickered into his hand. "I told heem we already got one!"

"You realize there is only one +2 Singing and Dancing Sword in the game, right?"

"I don’t want to talk to you no more!" He said. "I blow my nose at you, and fart in your general direction!"

I glanced at Nolan. He looked back at me like we were speaking a foreign language. Which we were.

"What are you talking about?" He said to Ryan.

"Oh my god, Nolan, it’s from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s the funniest movie ever." He turned to me. "You’re on your own there, big guy."

I looked at Nolan. "Little help?"

Nolan just laughed, and  I had to discard my entire hand when I rolled a two.

We played several games, messing with each other, helping each other, double-crossing each other, and scarfing down an entire large pizza. Yes, it was just like D&D, but without all the annoying role playing.

We finished the night on the couch, watching the Super G from Torino in HDTV. We may have played some more Pirates! too, before we all went to our respective beds around midnight.


The kids organized a football game with their friends, and I stayed home with my dogs and watched the Olympics. I may have played Pirates! for three hours, too, but the record is unclear on that. I can confirm that I jogged a little bit, wrote a little bit, washed some clothes, and told Anne over and over again how much fun I had with the kids on Saturday night.

"It was more than just playing games and goofing off," I told her, "it was that they could have gone to  a friend’s house, or watched TV, or played games without me, but they both came to me to do stuff together. After all these years," I said, "I’m really feeling like they’re bonding to me."


Nolan got up early, and built his race course in the front yard. Jeremy has a street car, and Nolan has an off-road car, so Nolan had spent a lot of time during the week beta testing various designs which he felt would balance Jeremy’s speed with his own off-road advantage. The rain on Friday night had compacted down a lot of the soft dirt at the edge of the driveway, so Nolan worked on a quick redesign, which he was certain would be perfect for the two of them when Jeremy arrived.

Sadly, when my brother got here, they discovered that their cars have the same frequency, so they settled on time trials instead. Ryan and I threw a football around in the grass while the two of them raced, and though I love my brother, I have to say that he never stood a chance. Nolan is a master of the remote controlled car, and he pwned Jeremy.

A little past noon, I headed out to the barbeque to grill some cheeseburgers. I’ll spare you all the details, but I managed to turn the lovely little sirloin patties into carbonized drink coasters. We ended up driving to this place on Hill called Tops, which is an awesome hamburger joint, in the style of Tommy’s or In-N-Out.

We took it back home, and made a real mess of ourselves. And by "we" I mean "me," because the whole point of eating a chilicheeseburger is to wear as much of it as possible.

After Jeremy left around 3:30, Ryan made some really cool songs in Garageband (which I’ll probably include in a future episode of Radio Free Burrito) while Nolan watched me play Pirates! a little bit more. I was determined to get the Governor of Maricaibo’s Daughter to marry me, which I figured would be a slam-dunk since I was such a great dancer, and captured the damn city for the Dutch in the first place. It turned out that she wanted all these presents, and for me to waste her fiance and for me to rescue her when she was kidnapped. Sheesh! Women! Good thing she was beautiful (and I had to marry her as a Pirate Quest) or I think I may have married the Governor of Trinidad’s rather plain daughter, who wasn’t so high maintenence.

We goofed off until Anne came home from work, and we all had dinner together. They all sat together and watched House, which I’m not that into, while I went up to my office and caught up on all the e-mails and bloglines subscriptions I’d been ignoring while I had the best weekend ever with my kids.

When it was time for bed, Nolan and I ended up brushing our teeth at the same time. While we stood next to each other in the bathroom, he looked at me
in the mirror and said, "I had a really good time this weekend, Wil."

I dumped toothpaste foam all over the place as I said, "I did, too."

38 thoughts on “a dream can mean anything”

  1. I hope I can have days like with my kids when they are the ages your kids are. That would be a great weekend even without the kids, but doing it with your kids makes it twenty-bajillion times better.

  2. This was a really great post. I’m glad that you guys are getting along so well! And Pirates! Has got to be one of my favorite games right now. Heh. Take care!

  3. Good ole Pirates! I have the PC version and it’s like electronic crack. Sid Meir must have made a deal with Satan, cause it’s nigh impossible to stop playing his games. I’m fighting a Civ 4 addiction now, but you’ve made me wanna hop on my Ship of the Line and go terrorize some Englishmen…

  4. You wrote: “Nolan is a master of the remote controlled car, and he pwned Jeremy.”
    I think you invented a new word: pwned. It’s a combination of pawned and owned, and it means “to completely dominate during competition, to the utter humiliation of the pwned and the self-satisfaction of the pwner.”
    Because pwn is unpronounceable (and thereby uniquely well-suited to online communication), I predict it will become the exclusive domain of hackers, bloggers, and trolls (oh my!).

  5. God. Tops will kill you. Or at least make you 30 pounds heavier. People I know liked to go there back in college and split a pastrami burger and box full of chili cheese fries.

  6. Kudos to the coasters. I hear flipping them occasionally helps. I must agree with my fellow readers, I do look forward to your posts about the growing relationship between you and the boys. It is, in a word, HAWESOME.

  7. Thank you, Wil. I wanted that SO MUCH with my family when I was a kid.
    Appropriately (or cornily) enough, I had the chance to bond with my step-father watching the first episode of TNG. He was a TOS fan, and he knew I liked scifi, and he asked me if I wanted to watch this “new” Star Trek with him. And I did want to, and we did watch it, and I got completely hooked in the first five minutes. He didn’t; and he didn’t much make the effort to make up the difference.
    I’m glad your kids have you.

  8. You’re an amazing writer…I’ve loved Dancing Barefoot and Just a Geek and can’t wait for Do You Want Kids With That? Good stuff! Thank you for sharing your life – ups and downs – with us.
    House is, what’s the word you’ve been using? Hawesome? Yes, it’s hawesome. However, if you can find it, I highly recommend watching A Bit of Fry and Laurie. It’s like Monty Python except there are only two actors – House’s Hugh Laurie and his college friend Stephen Fry – and they both wrote everything they performed.

  9. Wil, you’ve just succeeded in making me miss my brother so much that I’m tempted to call in sick tomorrow and drive the the nearly 5 hours to his house just to hang out. Our Mom was in and out of a couple of marriages when we were kids which translated to moving around. We were each other’s best friend up until he started high school and became a pod person. I guess it didn’t help that I went away to college. Geez I miss that monkey boy. And I think we need to invest in “Munchkin”. 😀

  10. WOW! Sound like you had an awsome weekend with the kids. They were so lucky in getting monday off from school. Too bad my college doesn’t do that. I would have liked a three day weekend.

  11. Wil – your ‘slice of domestic life’ portraits are riveting. Maybe it’s the way you use details to paint a picture, but I find myself drawn in to the scene instantly. thanks.

  12. The way you write about your kids almost makes me want to have some.
    But only if they can guarantee that they’ll turn out as cool as yours. Until such time as they find a way to genetically engineer “cool” kids, I will parent vicariously through your blog.

  13. Why not just use a module? There are plenty for 3.5 out, and if you’re into the old stuff, there’s a metric buttload of stuff out. I know it’s not quite the same as doing your own thing, but it might kickstart your own thing.

  14. Wil, you know how much I love your entries about the time you spend with Nolan and Ryan, right? This one was by far, my favorite. So far…
    Genetics aside, Ryan seems like he’s a chip off the old block, and Nolan definitely idolizes you, which is more than most Fathers have the benefit of having or even seem to realize. Relish that. You are the most Hawesome Dad, ever!!

  15. Love the post Wil! I think you’re missing out on an oppourtuniy though. I think it would be wise to invest some time into planning a D&D campaign for Nolan & Ryan. Realizing that you have little time to spare, I think they would really appriciate the effort & sacrifice. Some of my fondest memories from my teenage years are from playing D&D with my friends. I can only imagine what it would have been like to play it with my father.
    Just a suggestion. And I agree, you are the most Hawesome Dad ever!!

  16. Munchkin rocks. I’ve owned it for awhile but finally someone got it out last weekend and we played for the first time. It was a blast.
    You should also look at Scallywags, a pretty slick pirate card game.

  17. Pirates!?!?
    Wow, I guess I can finally retire my SE/30.
    And Munchkin is fun too, though it sounds like it’s time to buy a packaged adventure so you can indoctrinate the boys into AD&D.

  18. awesome. i haven’t played a game like munchkin in years, i may go buy one this weekend and play with my family. Its nice to have the time to not have other stuff to do, for a change.

  19. I freaking LOVE Munchkin – Steve Jackson games are great. I hope you have some of the expansion sets. My friends and I play this quite a bit.
    As for your Big Trunk of Games, if it doesn’t contain any Cheapass Games, it should. Also, I recommend Settlers of Catan.
    And Ryan is the coolest. Best. Movie. Ever.

  20. I also recommend nearly anything Cheapass. James Earnest is freaking brilliant. I personally love Falling but you have to be at a con watching drunk gamers play it (or dealing to them) to see it at it’s best.

  21. Erin, Wil took “pwned” from the hacker/leet-speak-ers rather than bestowing it upon them. 😉
    As for Cheapass Games, they can be hit or miss, but they hit far more often than they miss. Falling is fun but someone has to deal (and not play). I bet Wil and the boys would love three-way BRAWL [1]. It’s the card deck version of a reflex two-player combat game.
    My other fave Cheapass games:
    * Kill Dr. Lucky and its spinoffs — play the game that ends where Clue starts!
    * Give Me The Brain (use your best droning zombie voice–try the Czech edition, Dej sem Mozek, for a higher difficulty level–only the player with the brain can read the translation cheat sheet!)
    * Spree! for Hong Kong gun violence, board game style
    [1] Especially since I’m credited as a beta-tester on the Foglio decks. Heh!

  22. The boy used to be fun like that. But the day he turned 13 he turned on me.
    He used to tell me every day how much he loves me, now he won’t be seen in public with me.
    Cherish these times. They do not last.

  23. Wil, I’ve been a fan of yours for I don’t know how long. I’ve been reading this blog for as long as I’ve known about it… … but, you really — seroiusly — disapointed me when you said that you’re not that into House. That makes me cry a little. Mostly, however, I freaking love your writing. And, I figured I could take this time to tell you how much I apreciate your willingness to share you life with all of us internets folk, whiles asking for so little in return… … and all I ask is that you apreciate House in all it’s glory. 😉
    Mostly, however, I just wanted to thank you for… you know. being you.

  24. Darn – I thought I was being so cleaver. Serves me right.
    Great post, regardless, and nice intro to a new vocab word (for me, anyway). =)

  25. Hello Wil. I read about your blog once and just now found it. I must say that you have a way with words and I really enjoyed reading this blog. While I do not have children, I do have a nephew and can identify with something like what you wrote. I will continue to come back and read.

  26. Man, thanks for pointing me at Pirates! I have been sucked into that thing all weekend. Maybe I should say “no thanks” since you’ve stolen all of my free time! Damn you, Sid Meier!!

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