Tag Archives: fun

Leon Meets a Mudge

A dragon and a mudge! Made by Tally Heilke.

Leon the dragon was sitting on the riverbank, dipping his toes in the water and sighing to himself, when he saw a little roly poly black mudge hop up beside him and lean over to take a drink.

“Hello, little mudge,” said Leon.

“Yikes!” said the mudge. “A dragon!” It turned around and starting hopping away as fast as it could.

“Wait!” said Leon. “I’m not going to hurt you! I’m a nice dragon.”

The mudge stopped hopping. “Are you sure?” it said.

“Very sure,” said Leon.

“But I hear dragons like to eat mudges like me for snacks!” said the mudge. It was so scared it was shivering.

“I have never eaten a mudge in my whole life,” said Leon, “and I don’t want to eat you. I promise.”

The mudge didn’t come any closer, but it didn’t keep hopping away, either.

Leon said, “I’m too sad to eat anything right now, anyways.”

“What are you sad about?” asked the mudge.

“It’s my first birthday tomorrow,” said Leon.

The mudge smiled. “That’s something to be happy about!”

“Not for me,” said Leon. “When dragons reach their first birthday, their family throws a big special party for them.”

“I love parties!” said the mudge. It hopped a tiny bit closer.

“I do, too,” said Leon, “but at a dragon’s first birthday party, they are supposed to show everyone what colour their fire breath is.”

“Fire breath!?” shouted the mudge. “Yikes!” It hopped a little bit further away.

“The problem is that I can’t breathe any fire yet!” said Leon. “I haven’t breathed fire even once.”

“I thought all dragons could breathe fire,” said the mudge.

“Well, not all dragons,” said Leon. “Some dragons breathe other things, like ice or fog or wind or mud, but all of the dragons in my town breathe different colours of fire.”

“So why can’t you?” asked the mudge. It hopped a little bit closer again.

“I don’t know,” said Leon. “That’s why I’m so sad. If I go to my party and everyone finds out that I can’t breathe fire, they will all laugh at me!”

“Have you practiced?” asked the mudge.

“Yes,” said Leon. “I’ve been practicing every day for months.”

“Why don’t you try for me?” said the mudge, and hopped all the way back to where Leon was so it could watch.

“Okay,” said Leon. “Here I go.”

Leon stood up straight and tall, put his shoulders back, stretched out his wings, squeezed his fists tight, took a deeeeeep breath, closed his eyes, and blew all of his breath out as hard as he could.

“See?” he said. “No fire.”

“Are you sure you’re doing it right?” asked the mudge.

“That’s exactly how my dad does it when he breathes fire,” said Leon.

“Are you swallowing a tickle in the back of your throat?”

“What do you mean?” asked Leon.

“Well, I am just a mudge,” said the mudge, “and we mudges can’t breathe fire, but we can breathe bubbles.” The mudge closed its eyes, wriggled its body, and blew three shiny little bubbles, which floated off on the wind. “When I breathe bubbles,” said the mudge, “I take a deep breath, and then I feel a little tickle at the back of my throat. If I swallow the tickle, then bubbles come out, but if I don’t swallow the tickle, all I get is air.”

Leon thought about this for a moment. He wasn’t sure if he had ever felt a tickle in his throat like that. “It’s worth a try,” he said, “but I sure hope I don’t start breathing bubbles! I’m a dragon, not a mudge.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being a mudge,” said the mudge. “I like being a mudge!”

Leon said, “I guess I like mudges, too.” The mudge smiled at Leon, and Leon smiled back.

Then Leon stood up straight and tall, put his shoulders back, stretched out his wings, squeezed his fists tight, and took a deeeeeep breath. He felt a little tickle at the back of his throat that he had never noticed before, so he swallowed with a big gulp, closed his eyes, and blew all of his breath out as hard as he could.

“Yikes!” shouted the mudge.

“What happened?” said Leon, because his eyes were still closed.

“You did it!” said the mudge. “You breathed lots of fire!”

“I did?” said Leon. He slowly opened one eye, then slowly opened the other one. A wisp of smoke was hanging in the air, and the wind blew it away as he watched. “I did it!” he said to the mudge. “I breathed real fire, didn’t I?”

The mudge cheered and hopped up and down.

“What colour was my fire?” asked Leon.

“Why don’t you try again with your eyes open, and see for yourself?” said the mudge.

So Leon stood straight, stretched out his wings, took another deeeeeep breath, swallowed a tickle, and breathed out without closing his eyes. He saw lots of green fire go shooting out over the water. When he closed his mouth, the fire turned into smoke and blew away.

“Hooray!” said Leon. “Now I can go to my party tomorrow and everyone will see my green fire. Thank you for helping me, little mudge.”

“You’re welcome,” said the mudge. “You’re a very nice dragon. Maybe dragons aren’t so scary, after all.”

“My name is Leon,” said Leon. “What’s your name?”

“Silly dragon. Mudges don’t have names!” said the mudge. “We are all just called ‘mudge.'”

Then the mudge took Leon to meet some of the other mudges, and they all became good friends and had many adventures together.


Plush figures by Tally Heilke, available through her Etsy store.

Farewell, Sweet Nerf Guns

Last week I sold my Nerf gun collection. It was truly a sad moment when I handed that massive, blue-plastic Ikea bag to the guy, dumped in the basketful of darts, and watched him walk out the door. He told me he’s planning to modify some of them for use as laser tag guns, so I guess we can call this my Nerf obituary.

You may be wondering why Nerf guns are worth blogging about, or why I had a collection of them in the first place. Well, Nerf and I have had some wonderful moments together, let me tell you…

It all started for me a few years ago. My friends Peter and Tyler had a few Nerf guns, and we used to hang out at Peter’s place shooting each other or his roommates, basically just to be annoying. On Sunday nights Peter and his roommates held an event they called “family dinner,” which was basically just an open potluck. Inevitably, the Nerf guns found their way into a few family dinners, creating plenty of chaos.

On one of these nights, I had the idea of introducing just a little bit of structure into our Nerfing. I suggested that we create rules around the effects of being hit in different places on our bodies: a shot to a limb means that limb can’t be moved anymore until the end of the round. A shot to the back “destroys” both legs. A shot to the head or chest is a kill. We tried it out, and it was awesome. Gradually, our rules evolved slightly: if you shoot someone’s gun, that gun is “dead” for the rest of the round. If you hold a dart in your hand, it acts as a knife, and being stabbed has the same effects as being shot. Some of the craziest times we’ve had during our Nerf sessions came from two people having three limbs out each, and flailing at each other with their “knives” trying to score the kill. It’s especially hilarious when someone has a dart in their mouth, lunging around trying to stab their opponent.

Things really escalated when Peter received a Vulcan for his birthday. (I think it was his birthday.) That led us to create “storming the fort” scenarios, three-on-ones, and all kinds of crazy setups.

In 2009, Peter and I became roommates in a small basement suite, and we managed to get our third roommate, Jasper, hooked on Nerf, as well. Jasper was an engineering student, and loved to tinker, so he started taking some of the guns apart and replacing the springs or removing the air restrictors. Tyler and Peter had fiddled with modding guns before, but Jasper took it to a whole new level. His Nerf Elite was just plain deadly. We spent many hours holding one-on-one or two-on-two shootouts in our hallway, setting up tables and mattresses to hide behind and shoot around.

On the morning of Tyler’s wedding, Peter and I took him to Wal-Mart and bought him the newest Nerf gun, the Raider. We had stayed the night in an empty church sanctuary, and we spent a couple of hours playing with barricades built out of tables and couches, one person holing up with the Raider and the rest of us trying to flank.

Gradually, we all began to amass more weaponry. We wanted to have enough for our friends to join in! Our combined arsenal was especially large when we factored in the collection belonging to Peter’s brother, Andrew, whose history with Nerf goes back even longer than the rest of ours.

All of this culminated with what may have been the greatest Nerf night of all time. We got access to a school gym for an entire evening, and invited everyone we could think of. We had somewhere around 12 guys in total, I think, most of whom are in the picture on the right. (I’m holding the camera.) We set up a whole bunch of tables and benches, and laid out several bags of Nerf guns, and then we went at it. At that point we had two Titans, and we created some Titan-specific rules. In addition to a Titan rocket being a one-hit-kill no matter where it hit you, if you were hiding behind a table and a rocket hit that table, you had to immediately clear out and find new cover, because that cover would be considered “destroyed.”

That evening was a total blast, if you’ll pardon the pun. The wide variety of weapons, play styles, and strategies made things really intense. Was your opponent holding a single-shot pistol, or a Longshot with a six-dart clip? How much time did you have between reloads? Was there someone on your flank with a RapidFire waiting to unload 20 darts in the space of three seconds the moment you stepped out of cover? What would you do if your Maverick jammed? (Pro Tip: Never use a Maverick. They jam.)

Shortly after that Nerf night, some of my friends from Loading Ready Run began to catch on to the Nerf craze. I introduced my rules system, and we had some awesome nights of Nerf battles at Graham and Kathleen’s house. Matt picked up his own Vulcan, and James invested in a Longstrike. As so often happens with LRR, real life made its way into videos, most noticeably the commodoreHUSTLE episode Arms Race.

Ah, so many wonderful Nerf memories. Over the past year and a half, though, my arsenal has been sitting in my closet, taking up a lot of space. Larissa and I don’t have a lot of space to begin with, either. Tyler and Peter have both moved away to pursue their teaching careers, Andrew lives on the mainland, and LRR has moved on to Magic: the Gathering. I simply haven’t had many opportunities to break the Nerf guns out.

The last time I played was at my bachelor party back in April. I wanted to recapture some of the old glory, so I requested that we turn Peter’s apartment into a battlezone. It was fun, but cramped, and we didn’t play for that long.

I finally realized it was time to move on. We needed the space, and I actually got a decent amount of cash, which is always helpful, especially with a baby on the way. If the opportunity ever comes up again to have a Nerf night, I’ll definitely be there; maybe I’ll even reinvest some of the money I got for my guns back into a new weapon. In the meantime, though, thank you, Nerf, for all the memories!

League of Married Gentlemen: A Camping Trip — Am I Unworthy?

Larissa and I spent the weekend camping with some friends. Thanks for coming up with the idea, Dan, and I’m glad Nick and Jenny came along and brought their baby Isaac. We were at the Stoltz Pool campground along Cowichan River. It was a lot of fun. We had great food, including such camping staples as pancakes, hot dogs, and smores. We even invented smOreos, which is where you put a marshmallow and chocolate between two Oreo cookies (either before or after removing the icing; your call).

During the camping trip, I kept an eye out for any developing ring powers, of course. It’s hard for me to keep my mind off of what powers my wedding ring has to have given me. I really feel like they should have manifested by now. It’s been three-and-a-half months since we got married, after all.

Our tents all lined up in a row.

The first day we arrived, I thought I might be on to something. I only saw two or three mosquitoes, even though other people said they were getting lots of bites. But for the next two days, I was inflicted with my fair share of itchy bumps–thankfully not all that many, overall–so I don’t think my ring has granted me any insect immunity.

Cold water still feels cold to me, too. We went swimming (well, more like wading constantly against the current) on Sunday afternoon, and the water felt pretty chilly. It was a really hot day out, though, so it was nice to get cooled down. Then I sat on the rocky beach for a while and did some reading (I’m still working on A Tale of Two Cities), and my back got sunburned just like normal, so there’s nothing there, either.

At this point I’m really starting to feel like all of my leads turn out to be nothing, and I haven’t hit on anything solid. A few times over the weekend my ring actually felt loose, too, almost as though it was trying to slip off my finger. Maybe I’m not worthy of a ring power, and my ring is trying to abandon me!

I’m going to have to do something to make sure it never gets away from me. I think I know a guy I can talk to. I’m not ready to give up yet.