Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Para Sol: Complete!

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The parasol is complete! I had to buy a new umbrella frame, because the one I originally bought was too small. Then I had to paint the new frame’s handle and tip… because they were blue.

I added some lovely ribbons and bows, because why not?

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And a classy tag, because the new umbrella frame had a luggage tag thing in the handle (it’s originally a gold umbrella, $5 at Goodwill):

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And another ribbon as the tie:

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Pretty umbrella:

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I finished it last night, which just goes to show you: I can only finish something when I have a deadline!

Anyway, look for it at the Clark County Fair and Rodeo, April 7-10!

D&D Basic


Over the weekend, I ran a short, nostalgia-laden D&D Basic edition adventure for some friends of mine. This was the second time I ran the adventure, and both times, the outcome was similar.

We started by handing out Players Handbooks and character sheets so everyone could make their characters. Although I had planned to just give everyone a stat array so they could shift numbers around, everyone wanted to roll dice instead. In fact, my house rule of “roll 4d6, drop the lowest die, and arrange to suit” was not wanted by about half the players, who wanted to roll 3d6 and put them in order. I gave everyone max hit points at 1st level instead of requiring them to roll. I think if they’d known that before picking their character classes, we might have had a mage in the party. As it was, we had two elves, one halfling, one dwarf, and one fighter.

To save time, I had created equipment lists which included some gold for everyone except the elves (who had equipment, but only 1 gp each– elves are apparently unthrifty beings). So they went shopping in the PHB.

After the shopping, I opened with “you meet in an inn!” And they sit around awkwardly saying things like “Oh, my– you look like adventurers! Mind if I sit with you!” And so forth.

After they do the introductions and decide they really need to go find some Adventure, I introduce the plot– the halfling has heard of a dungeon not to far away, along the Western Road, with vast amounts of treasure and only a single guardian. Surely this is no problem for hardy adventurers like themselves!

They’re ready to set out, but I tell them it’s about midnight. They go to sleep at the inn.

SPOILER WARNING! THE REST OF THIS POST HAS SPOILERS FROM THE ONE PAGE DUNGEON CODEX!
Continue reading D&D Basic

American Idol Fail

I want to get something off my chest about American Idol.

First, my disclaimer: I don’t like the show. I watch it, because John watches it. But I don’t find it very entertaining. I enjoyed Seasons 3 and 4, but after that, I’ve just had a really hard time connecting to any kind of story in the show. I mostly now watch it as a kind of side-show with votefortheworst.

Now, my rant.

I think in almost every one of the past few seasons of Idol, there’s been some guy who comes to the audition and says something like “my wife just gave birth to our first child– an hour ago!!!” And then the judges all listen and hope he has a voice worth putting through, because otherwise, they’re going to pay plane fare to Hollywood for yet another tearjerker story that doesn’t have a chance of making it.

To my mind, these guys who do this are scum. Total scum. Not for manipulating the judges/audience, because that may have more to do with the producers than with the guys themselves. No. They are scum because they chose to attend a singing audition instead of their child’s birth.

Now, think about this purely from the point of view of the guy, ok? There are several possible outcomes of an American Idol audition. 1) You don”t make it through to Hollywood. You missed your kid’s birth for a rejection. 2) You make it to Hollywood, but are cut or voted out before the final 10 or 12 or however many they let into the tour. You missed your kid’s birth for a little bit of TV exposure, but no job or singing contract. 3) You make it to the finalists, so you get on the tour, but you don’t win the show. You missed your kid’s birth to become a c-list celebrity. 4) You win. You missed your kid’s birth for a some money and fame, and entry into an extremely unstable job in the toughest, least sympathetic industry on the planet.

There are other outcomes, like “you are so bad, you become the next William Hung.” In which case, you missed your kid’s birth to become a punchline.

My rant is thus: If you miss your kid’s birth in order to go on American Idol, the very best outcome is that you have traded an irreplaceable life’s moment for money, fame, and an unstable job. You are the worst dad ever. Your kid is never going to be born again (even if they become Christian!) but opportunities to break into singing will recur. Your priorities are totally wrong. Even if you aren’t with your kid’s mother, you have just put your job, your career, and your money ahead of your child.

Your kid is going to notice that, because I assure you, if you think auditioning for American Idol is more important that being there for the birth of your child, then you’re going to put that kid last after a lot of other things in life.

The kicker of this is that American Idol auditions happen in cities all over the country, so you could conceivably travel to and catch an audition in another city, if your wife/girlfriend went into labor the morning of the Idol auditions. This audition: it is not your last chance to stand in front of the judges and sing.

This day is, however, your only chance to see your child take his or her first breath. This is your only chance to capture those first seconds of life and really understand what the words “love at first sight” mean. This is your only moment to actually, deeply, completely understand what the lyrics of “Isn’t She Lovely” mean. You want to be a singer? Then man up and get your ass to the hospital, live life the way other people live, so you can connect with your audience’s experiences. I do not ever want to hear you sing about how much you love your kid if you ditched out on that kid’s birth to go to a singing audition. Disingenuous doesn’t even begin to describe it, buddy.

American Idol will also be there next year– it’s highly unlikely that Fox is going to pull the plug on this little money-maker for the next 3-5 years. If you had waited in line for three days and then walked away from the audition so you could be at the birth of your child, when you audition next year, you better believe they’re going to put your story on camera. Ryan Seacrest: “Oh, this is your daughter? How old is she?” You: “She’s a year old– I left the audition last year at this time because my wife was in labor. I’d choose her over anything, any time, but I’m doing this to give her everything I can.” *sniff sniff* And the crowd goes wild.

Please note that my rant hasn’t even addressed the problem of leaving your baby’s mother to go through childbirth without your support. That is such a jerk move, I can’t even form the words.

Para sol near completion

I finished crocheting the parasol last night. I am now on washing, blocking, and installing it on the umbrella frame.

It’s absolutely larger than the frame, even before blocking (which I expect will add about 30% to the overall size). But I may be able to make it work…. or get a larger golf umbrella insted.

February Media

#13: Red Seas Under Red Skies

#14: The Passage

by Justin Cronin

#15: Fried Green Zombies

#16: Heat Wave

#17: Dead Until Dark

#18: Living Dead in Dallas

#19: Club Dead

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