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D&D & me

Plus an appreciation of public relations


Did you walk into your local game and hobby store last weekend and notice that the shelf that's usually stocked with 20-sided dice was empty? Me neither.

On the off-chance that you did notice such a dice shortage and are now turning to me for an explanation, however, you're in luck. Last Saturday was Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day. About 25,000 people in some 1,200 spots gathered to play the now 30-year-old role-playing and fantasy game, possibly breaking some sort of record. As I was unable to make it to the Dragon Shop in Subotica, Serbia, I settled for Batty's Best Comics & Games on Chamblee-Tucker Road, where three separate games were going on when I walked in that afternoon.

Before I watched the games, though, I received a brief D&D history lesson and tutorial from D&D parent company employee Charles Ryan. Ryan explained that D&D grew out of its founders' desire to take tabletop medieval battle re-enactments that they loved from the macro "generals moving armies around" level to the micro "soldiers carrying out individual missions" level, with a little bit of fantasy and sci-fi thrown in for fun.

The appeal of the game, which I've never really gotten into because I'm too uptight for role-playing, was evident on the smiling faces of everyone in the store. D&D is a board game, but it's also a club whose members bond over fond memories of imaginary swordfights between elf sorcerers and dwarf clerics. When I decided to cover D&D Game Day, I figured that it'd be easy to write about -- a group of geek-ish guys snorting about Dexterity Points. Ha ha ha, right? Not really. It was actually very moving to see people spending an afternoon flexing their imaginations to produce harmless joy that nobody outside the circle can understand, much less appreciate. My urge to poke fun makes me feel about 2 feet tall.

Fun-raiser: On Saturday night, the Neighborhood Charter School in Grant Park held a fantastic fundraiser at the Fulton County Voiture 217 building (home of an old train car given by the French people in appreciation for our alliance in WWI). In a dimly lit, windowless, wood-paneled hall that made you feel like you were stepping into the Midwest circa 1962, parents and friends (but no kids) sat at long banquet tables, ate, drank, silent auctioned and were generally merry. The party was one giant, goofy non-sequitur after another, the highlight undoubtedly being when some of the school's teachers walked out of a dressing room dressed as classic TV icons (Laverne, Cher, the Flying Nun, and Flo) to sell raffle paddles. Second place was when a woman hopped onstage and sang the theme to "The Jeffersons."

PSA time: In three years, I've never done this: I've never covered my personal activities for this column, but I'm breaking my rule this week for a good cause. On Sunday, I had some friends over to help me make presidential campaign phone calls. I'm not gonna specify my candidate of choice, but I'll give you a hint: He's a Yale graduate and son of a powerful Northeastern political family.

My phone party's aim was to try to get Floridians and Ohioans to canvass their neighborhoods next weekend. Of the party-goers, Scene & Herd recurring character Matt Gove was by far the most successful, getting 10 Floridians and Ohioans to commit to canvassing, all while he was watching the Falcons game with the TV on mute. If our Yalie of choice wins in a squeaker, he owes Gove an ambassadorship.

I mention the party because it's a useful and easy way we in Georgia can get involved with the presidential campaign locally. Go to your candidate's website for details and you, your friends and your friends' cell phones can probably turn your home into a virtual campaign phone bank that'll help out your Yalie of choice.

Live aid: On Sunday night, 10 High hosted a short-notice benefit gig to help out the residents of 493 N. Highland Ave. whose homes were destroyed by the loser trying to compensate for his miserable childhood and tiny penis by trying to burn down several apartments in Midtown.

I cannot tell a lie, the hard rock on display wasn't always my cup of tea, but bands like PUSH, Universal Overdose, Gargantua (who I didn't actually stay long enough to see), JJ from Eliot James and the Snakes all deserve a tip of the hat for helping out the community on a day usually reserved for nursing hangovers.

Flacktastic: Last Thursday night, a star-studded audience that included Mayor Shirley Franklin and me stopped by the grand lobby of the Proscenium office tower in Midtown to honor Manning Selvage & Lee/Atlanta, the first major national public relations firm to have an office in Atlanta. The party was a celebration of MSL/Atlanta's 40th birthday and an occasion to honor Pulitzer-prize winning reporter and Yoda of Atlanta PR, the great George Goodwin. His warm and cheerful "Whaddya say?" greetings used to stress me out when I temped at MSL/Atlanta for three weeks in 1997 because I honestly didn't know what I was supposed to say in response to "Whaddya say?"

We in the newspaper biz often mock the PR industry for obsessively spinning and hyping everything (weird and inexplicable example from the party: the video presentation at the shindig kept touting the firm's "40 years" in Atlanta even though the MSL/Atlanta office only goes back 39 years, to 1965). But the fact is, without PR people telling me about and getting me into events, the quality of this column would suffer, my job would be a lot harder, I would not have consumed nearly as much free alcohol as I have over the years, and my CD collection would be considerably smaller. Thank you.

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