“The Origins game Fair used to bounce around the country. Sadly it eventually stopped bouncing and is now stuck in Columbus OH. But in 1986 it was in Los Angeles, and I was part of the Chaosium staff attending.”

“That year, the hotel had two conventions – the Origins game Fair, and a Shriners convention. So the halls and restaurants and open areas were filled with both groups. It was pretty weird to look out of my room at the pool and see every single nerdy gamer girl there surrounded by a clutch of 50-something drunks trying to hit on her.”

“My favorite part of the convention was on Saturday, when the Shriners had built a huge ice sculpture of Lady Liberty in the main hall. I was in the hotel restaurant next to it with a bunch of British gamers (hey Jon Q!), with a primo view through the plate-glass window. The Shriners came marching down the stairs in various regalia, swarmed around the ice sculpture and genuflected, sang, and prayed. The Brits’ jaws dropped, and their eyes bugged out. This was a slice of Americana they had never dreamed of. It was hilarious. They weren’t used to seeing that kind of over-the-top patriotism, plus me and Greg were happy to try to convince them it was a Lovecraftian cult.”

“Later the Shriners had a parade, like they do, and a bunch of Shriners were riding those little tiny motorized carts. Whoever designed their bumper stickers did a pretty bad job that year, because they read SHRINERS HELP CRIPPLE CHILDREN. I mean, I see what they meant to say but … “ to be continued.