Don't have the link on-hand, but the story someone on my flist linked to re Joshua Bell busking as an experiment (in DC) was fascinating. (later; edit) Ah! It was from weirdsister: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html
Went and saw Beowulf in Digital 3D (again, well, ok, the last time was IMAX 3D) and the Golden Compass yesterday, booking tickets 3 hours apart, with Erik H and drcpunk. Was more concious of some of the flaws in Beowulf others have pointed out, but still very much enjoyed it. Also muchly enjoyed
What prompted me to write this was encountering an unusual 3-piece band busking when I changed trains, on the way to crash_mccormick's d&d (3.5) game. They were playing Christmas music, but weren't half bad; the drummer was both competent and using brushes, thus keeping his volume within the audible range. The double-bassist (playing an accoustic bass) was quite nice to listen to, and doubled as the band's singer. By far the weakest performer was the guitarist -- who mostly, doubled the melody, and as I watched, missed several chords at various points (ie, fingered them but didn't play; I think he missed the entrance and switched to the next one), but was go enough not to play anything off, so...alll to the good. I gave them cash, of course.
Finally, the D&D session, which consisted of four members of the overlarge level 13 party (very varying membership, night to night) teaming up with 6 NPCs (of somewhat higher level; I'd guess them to be around L17 or so, given the flaky elven wizardess talking about throwing Dominate Monster as a real possibility) to take out a Red Dragon great wyrm (challenge rating? 26, with 40 hit dice, size: colassal) and his 17th level (or so) hobgoblin wizard cohort, not to mention his midlevel followers, all lairing in the middle of a volcano. Tricky, especially since Crash has gotten better and nastier with each successive dragon we've faced in the current "plague of dragons" plotline, particularly given that between the two parties, we had 3 people capable of casting greater dispel magic, and a bard who just gained the use of Otto's irrisistable dance and strong abilities letting him increase his caster level (and a 17th level marshal, two sneaky types, and 3 fighter types). The plan was that 4 people would surprise the wizard and
The result was surprisingly effective. The wizard strike team two-shotted the hobgoblin wizard in one round -- the cleric dispelled his defenses, the two rogue types (Coravin, my arcane trickster, using thunderlance, sneak attack, haste, and wraithstrike to lay down 24d6+45 damage a round (though I was underreporting this by 3d6+15), and the other party's assassin) laid him out, the fighter did a coup de gras to make sure, and the cleric picked him up so we could loot his body easily after finishing up the fight. In the other room, the wizard and cleric dispelled the dragon's defenses (probably including a mind blank), the marshal used a catapult to get the (miniaturized, invisible and hidden from dragons) bard into position, who nailed his spell penetraition roll and sent the dragon into a frenzied, and very silly dance (for a minimum of 2 rounds, up to 5), and prince mord (one of the npc fighter types, probably higher level than the rest) hit it for massive damage with his big sword, while the rest of the party nearly dealt with the kobold minions in the corner. At this point, the marshal's "extra spell" aura kicked into effect, letting all the spellcasters in the combined group cast an extra spell that round -- meaning the wizard could finish off the kobolds, and Coravin could dimension door the strike team to the main battle. In round two, everyone charged/attacked the dragon -- and it took quite a bit of damage, (yes, there was another wraithstrike here; I loaded 3 for some reason), and this time the marshal's aura gave everyone an extra melee attack, bringing the dragon's total damage to almost 600 even before one of the NPC surprise effects went off, zapping it for another 350. Result? One dead caster in one round, a dead dragon, in two--not even enough time for a minimal-strength otto's dance to wear off. (Coravin got to do 5 attacks for about 38 damage each that round, too, so I'm happy enough with my contribition). (well, that's plus the surprise round, but I don't think we did much during that aside from dispells)
Very much an example of the silliness/offensive-centricism of high level D&D, but oddly fun anyway -- particularly since it was primarily my plan (ie, the "dispells on both sides + otto's dance" bit).