One of our designers, Jon Paul Duvall (AKA Junk Yard Dog), celebrated his 30th birthday a couple of weeks back. After checking out the festivities that took place in honor of him reaching the big 3-0, I feel pretty sorry for anyone that has to settle for a swashbuckling time at Medieval Times. Here’s JP with the play by play…
Summoned to the field of battle, and armed with PVC pipe, foam tubes, duct tape, candy-filled paper-mache shields, and a thirst for blood, they came. Their purpose? To rescue their friend, and coworker, from the depressing onslaught of his thirties.
Q: So where did you get the idea for this birthday battle?
Jon Paul Duvall, designer at Bethesda: Well, I was turning thirty and started to freak out a little. I mean… THIRTY!!! That’s old. The initial idea for something “nurf-themed” came up a few months ago when I was lamenting about getting old with one of my friends, who, like me, is permanently stuck in her teenage years — in complete denial that we are adults. Then a few weeks prior, over brunch with my girlfriend, Allison, one of the most talented and creative (read: geeky) women I’m privileged to know, everything came together: boffer swords and paper-mache shields filled with candy! I was day-dreaming for weeks about the battle, complete with slow motion shots of candy flying out of smashed shields for weeks.
It was a glorious day, as onlookers watched a series of epic battles rage across a field at Lake Needwood Park. People lost interest in their kites and volleyball games, speed-walkers paused to gaze awestruck at the spectacle, and concerned parents shielded the eyes of young children, lest they get the wrong idea about violence leading to candy.
Q: Was much preparation involved?
Jon Paul Duvall: The first attempt with the shields wasn’t very successful. Allison and I made frames out of balsawood, and then tried paper-macheing newspaper around it, but the shields weren’t sturdy enough, and it was taking too long; we were doing it the night before, of course! So we made a mad dash out to the craft store and found gift boxes we wrapped in cast material that you dunk in water to soften up. It was perfect. The shields were sturdy enough to last a few rounds of combat before bursting in a glorious display of flying candy! We decided everyone should build their own sword, and decorate their shields, so we did that once everyone arrived at the park.
After titanic clashes between armies, a series of one-on-one bouts pitted programmer vs. artist, QA vs. designer, friend vs. friend, as onlookers shouted and plunked nerf-arrows into the ring.
After removing the corpses and collecting the candy from the field of battle, the group topped the night off with geeky board games and Rock Band. We got a hold of a few of the participants, and here’s what they had to say:
Brendan Anthony, a programmer at Bethesda, summed things up this way, “After spending all weekend with my dum dums, the only thing I have to say is nothing tastes better than candy pulled from an opponent’s cold, lifeless hands.”
When asked by “dum dums” if he meant the lollipops or his coworkers, he just smiled and said: “No comment.”
Jabeen Obaray, friend, when asked if she thought the event was a success replied, “I suppose that depends on how you define success. No one got hurt… I guess that means we could’ve done better.”
Jay Woodard, programmer at Bethesda, quoting Marcus Aurelius declared, ““As for life, it is a battle and a sojourning in a strange land; but the fame that comes after is oblivion.”
Allison Lepelletier, friend remarked, “If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have believed it. A hearty HUZZAH to all that will forever wear that day as a badge of honor (and intense, yet thoroughly awesome geekiness). Thank god for cameras!”
Happy Birthday JP!