As I’ve mentioned more than a few times I’m a big fan of the Nerdy Show podcast and the various spin off shows they do, particularly Dungeons and Doritos which chronicles the misadventures of a group of not-so-heroic heroes in they journey across Doritodonia. In both cases my favourite host and character is a guy called Michael Pandel, AKA Triforce Mike. Mike’s definitely not the most sensible member of the Nerdy Show crew, quite the opposite in fact, but his endless supply of enthusiasm for just about everything under the sun and his carefree attitude towards everything and everyone was pretty addictive. He was fine with liking pretty much anything and being completely open about it, consequences be damned. This would carry over into the D&D game where his character, a dwarf named Chair, would happily throw himself into the worst situation imaginable just because it seemed like the most fun thing to do at the time.
Speaking of which Chair is special enough that he really deserves his own paragraph. Chair’s origin was simple. He used to be a plain old wooden chair, then a wizard happened. Now he’s a Dwarf, albeit one with the social awareness and personality of a chair. So he spent pretty much every game running around naked (he eventually got a helmet) and hitting things with a large wooden club. He was ridiculous, inappropriate and more than a bit rude, yet the sense of complete innocence and naivety about him just made such a likeable character. When the rest of the party were trying to get information out of the lord of manor, he’d instead step to one side and attempt to seduce the nice Ottoman chest sitting at the side of the room. When everyone was planning their strategy for the monsters in the next room he’d try to strike up a conversation with the furniture (it even worked a couple of times). In short, he managed to be everything that you want a player and character to be in a D&D game released on the internet. He was absolutely fucking entertaining.
So yeah, I thought he was pretty awesome guy, and the way he seemed to just enjoy life made me try to come out of shell that much more. It really seemed like he felt absolutely no shame and had no sense of embarrassment. He was a pretty damn big inspiration to me in that regard, making me try that much harder to not feel like I’m making a fool of myself all the time.
Triforce Mike passed away in January of this year. I first heard about this in the wee hours of the morning when a forum post was made letting people know he was unconscious in hospital after being hit by a car. He was an avid biker so I thought it probably wasn’t too uncommon for him to get into accidents from time to time, especially for someone like him, so he’s sure to bounce back from this one too. Then later in the evening they posted an update. The scan results came back and showed that his brain stem had suffered serious damage and there wasn’t anything more that could be done for him. I’d be putting it mildly to say I was a little stunned. Despite having dealt with deaths of people close to me several times already and not knowing Mike as well as people I knew more locally I was still pretty hard by it. I really looked up him and just couldn’t believe this had really happened. This was a guy that just never seemed to stop or slow down, was so energetic during gigs that his favourite bands (The Protomen and I Fight Dragons) used to mark off a special part of the show floor for him so he could just go nuts. And now he’s gone.
Not long after he passed on his friends and family in Orlando held a wake for him and got together to discuss his life and their friendship, and there were a lot of surprising things to hear. There were a number of great stories about his life and the misadventures he got into, which I really couldn’t do enough justice to warrant reposting here, and there a few personal stories which showed just how nice a guy he was to so many people. And then there were other topics. One thing which those who knew him personally were already well acquainted with, that I didn’t have the faintest clue about. Triforce Mike was an alcoholic. Sure I knew he liked to drink, and yeah it was a running joke on the podcast about how he was able to drink like a fish, but I’d never really connected the dots before. It turns out that despite seeming like the most confident and self-assured men alive, he suffered from serious bouts of depression, something made worse by feeling that everyone was expecting him to live up to the reputation he’d built up. The only way he found to deal with this was to get so blind drunk that he just didn’t care about it, despite everyone’s assurances that he still was just as awesome when sober. And so he kept drinking, and it led to his fatal accident. As an aside I don’t want anyone to think this is just some tirade how evil alcohol is. I may not drink myself, but that’s for my own reasons and I don’t begrudge anyone for making their own choice. Most things can be fine in moderation, but taken to an extreme they can still cause serious problems.
It’s a little jarring to find out that a guy who you so admired for seeming to have an unending supply of confidence actually had serious self-confidence issues of his own. I guess it’s easier to look at someone else from afar and think “Hey, that guy has it easy. I bet he never has any problems.” and elevate them to some sort of mythical status in your head where they can do no wrong, forgetting that they’re just as human as everyone else and likely carrying their own fair share of emotional baggage. When you think about it, it seems more than a little unfair to think of people that way and put them under that sort of pressure.
After his passing his friends and family decided to set up a charity called the MAP Foundation in Mike’s honour to help other people like him who lost direction and had trouble finding their path in life. Considering I’ve had trouble in that regard myself I can definitely see the good that can be done in setting up a group specifically to help out people in that situation. As with any charity, it’s a real arse to get things started up at first so they’re not up and running just yet, but you can be sure I’ll be talking about here when it is. Until then I’m going to keep trying to take the good lessons Mike left behind to heart, focus on enjoying things in life rather than wasting time hating them and try not to worry so much about others opinions that clash so much with my own.