D&D General When We Were Wizards: Trailer for the Podcast

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I was just thinking this about a Rob Kuntz story about Gygax at the end of the latest episode. I can easily imagine that there are various particulars that he’s misremembering or conflating with some other interaction. And yet that doesn’t mean the story isn’t true. If nothing else, it provides insight to how Kuntz perceived Gygax at the time.

I’ll also admit, I half-expected uncritical hagiography, but the tone of the project is quite even-handed.
Actually, I think it may be one of the most brutally honest accounts of the history of TSR I have heard, just allowing the people involved to get their personal judgements in there. Probsvly the most direct account of substance abuse in the scene at thw time, for instance.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
I think that Peterson's approach is historically responsible, but the witness testimony adds a different dimension, even if memories might be unreliable after this amount of time.

Yeah. I hit this at length before.


I still stand by what I wrote at the end-

That said, the difference between a contemporaneous source and a recounting decades later is obvious; not only does the memory have all the issues of bias that have to be accounted for that a contemporaneous source might (if not more for some cases), memory has all the additional issues of ... memory, which, as detailed above, has numerous additional issues even when a person is doing their best to accurately recount an event.

That doesn't mean that you should never use oral recountings- first, they make great stories! Really. If you've ever read a book like Live from New York (an oral history of SNL) you know how much FUN they can be. They can also provide you information that you can then use to go and find contemporaneous sources and verify the stories. In addition, there will be occasions when, to paraphrase Hamilton, there's only a few people in the room where it happens, and you have to depend on what they tell you. Finally, as we go back in history, the existence of contemporaneous records (especially of marginalized or underserved communities) is more scarce, and sometimes there is little or no contemporaneous evidence.

All that said, the reason for this lengthy essay should be plain- the revolution in understanding the history of our hobby has come about because we have stopped depending on the stories people tell us, and started looking at the historical record. And it's important to credit that revolution to shift from "listening to people telling us stories," to "doing the work and bringing the receipts." To do any less is to shortchange a lot of hard work.


All that said, there is a reason we love stories. Because they are fun! After all, a document-based history of SNL might be more accurate, but it wouldn't include Bill Murray fighting Chevy Chase (when he came back to host) and then, as they were being dragged apart, yelling at him, "Medium talent!"
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
All that said, there is a reason we love stories. Because they are fun! After all, a document-based history of SNL might be more accurate, but it wouldn't include Bill Murray fighting Chevy Chase (when he came back to host) and then, as they were being dragged apart, yelling at him, "Medium talent!"
Just a couple of days ago I read Bill Murray's story of the last time he saw Gilda Radner.


Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.

So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”

We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.

And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.

It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.


Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests
 





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