New Videos

Two new videos are online.

Achievement Unlocked

Achievement Unlocked: How to Get Promoted

Achievement Unlocked: How to Get Promoted is a presentation I gave on career advice for SQL Saturday Minnesota (12/12/20). SQL Saturday is a worldwide recurring training (free unless you want to pay for their onsite lunch) primarily about databases, but also security, reporting, technology in general, and personal development. Look for one in a city near you at

Cereal Box

John Pyka Back of the Cereal Box

Back of the Cereal Box with John Pyka (12/26/20). John Pyka is an author, a magician, a singer, a comedian, a game reviewer, a blogger and podcaster, an an IMPOSSIBILIST. Follow his channel at Back of the Cereal Box.

Finishing the Race

My beautiful bride…

My lovely wife Linda passed away this weekend from an apparent stroke.


We met in Florida in 87 at a theater where she was acting.
I introduced myself and kissed her hand, so of course she melodramatically swooned.
We dated a week later, engaged a month later, and married a year later onstage in that very theater.


Her big heart and ready smile inspired all she met, and even taught a shy nerd like me how to open up, laugh, and live.


…until the make-up came off.
(No, wait, this is her as the ghost in Fiddler on the Roof…)

She’d been in a wheelchair and near-constant pain for the past twenty years or so…
…But now she’s finally free, and once again dancing and cartwheeling.

She had to give up her sign language interpreting for the church years ago because of her tremors…
…But now she’s enthusiastically praising the Lord with her hands (and putting her whole body into it) once again.


Helping others was incredibly important to her.
Most of you know that she was highly involved in a volunteer homeless outreach every Wednesday night, faithfully providing meals, blankets, socks, and more.
She’d want to ensure her mission continues, so if you’d like to help, please consider donating to The Forgotten Louisville, either via PayPal to or via mail to The Forgotten Louisville, 911 Southview Rd, Louisville KY 40214, or even by volunteering yourself, or otherwise caring for those around you.
I know she’d appreciate it.

Last year we revisited that theater, which had the perfect show going. I’m rotten, and she’s really something.

Thanks, everyone, for all the support you’ve already shown us.
I love you all, and so did she.


I’m speaking about agile improv at Code PaLOUsa.

You can download the slides here.


Road Show

From time to time, I go from place to place.

You can keep up with me on my tour page.

Usually, this is in person, but lately a lot of it has been online.


Today (Saturday), I’ll be speaking at the Layer 8 Conference about Impostor Syndrome. (Update: This has been recorded, the slides are here, and the video should be available in a couple of weeks.)

Monday 6/8/20, I’ll be speaking at the Open Security Conference about improv comedy and security. (Update: The slides and video are available.)

In two weeks, I’ll be preaching at the Origins Online game convention. (Update: The entire conference was canceled)


Improv for Security

UPDATE: This has been canceled, and will be rescheduled. 

I’ll post a followup once the new date is confirmed.

I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to use improv comedy techniques for security.

It’ll be Monday, March 16th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. The workshop cost is $30 (payable online or at the door). I also accept haunted pirate doubloons and nonsequential unmarked bills in a paper bag.
Improv for Security
March 16 at 7:00pm
OPEN Community Arts Center
2801 S Floyd St #100
Across the street from Cardinal Stadium
Park in the numbered lot (free) on the corner of Boxley and Floyd!


Register Here!


Improv Comedy as a Social Engineering / Phishing / People-Hacking Tool

Have you ever gotten an “urgent call about you car warranty” or a demand that “you need to pay the IRS by credit card right now”? Social Engineering is the practice of talking your way into or out of situations, and is often employed by the underhanded, but can also be used to defend against those very attacks.

The rules of improv comedy can apply to many social interactions, including bluffing your way to compromise a target. The constantly changing situations of improv are great practice for accepting unexpected circumstances, and happily going with the flow.
Dave Mattingly was a NASA rocket scientist while also a comedy and punk radio DJ. He led a sci-fi and RPG publishing company, while writing anti-terrorism software for DHS. He’s an itinerant preacher, entrepreneur, award-winning speaker, and occasional improv comic. In short, he doesn’t know what he wants to do when he grows up.

48HFP Double Vision

I once again participated in the 48-Hour Film Project. (My first time was A Fool’s Errand three years ago.)

Forty-Eight Hour Film Project

On Friday night, each team draws a genre out of a hat (actually, each drawing has two genres, and the team picks the one they’d like to do). The final film must be 4 to 7 minutes long (credits at the end of the movie don’t count against the maximum time, unless the film would have been too short without them).

On top of randomly drawing a genre, each team has three required ingredients: a line, a prop, and a character. Even though each team gets its own genre, all teams share those same three ingredients. Our (and every team’s) ingredients were:

  • Character: Tilden Kefauver, a best-selling authorCompany OutCast
  • Prop: a ticket
  • Line: “I’m not sure. Can I call a friend?”

Team OutCast

This year, I was part of Company Outcast, a local theater/comedy company.

Our team included people that I’ve been friends with, like Rachel Allen (who I introduced to the 48HFP), Marcy Ziegler (leader of Company OutCast), Christie Troxell (who I’d met at my first 48HFP), Martin French (who I knew from the Alley Theater), and Victoria Wagner (who I’d met during OutCast‘s “Best Bits” show). Plus a bunch of new really cool people.

We drew Horror or Mockumentary. A mockumentary probably would have been a lot of fun, but we chose horror.

I’ve Got You Covered

Kefauver Book Stack

Tilden Kefauver might know a thing or two.

Since our character Tilden was an author, and I had run a publishing company for several years, my job for the film was to put together some prop books for him to have at his signing.

All I had to go on was that it was a mystery book, with the title “Double Vision.” And I only had about four hours to design and print the cover, and assemble onto actual books.

By that point, I’d already designed at least a hundred book covers, but I’d never mocked up made a fake cover before – they’ve all been real book covers that were printed at a press to encase actual books. The finished product turned out fairly well.

Bouncing Around

I also ended up helping to block the daylight during a bar scene, by standing in front of the curtain. Since taking up space is one of my many talents, I spent an hour or so denying the sun while the crew filmed several scenes with multiple takes. During one of the shots I ended up in frame, just standing by the door crossing my arms, the company decided to credit me as a “Bouncer.” (Possibly since I already look somewhat horrifying.)

So now I have actual real-world experience as a pretend real bouncer. You’d better watch your step, buddy.

No One Knows

Here’s the film we completed.

(The description says Do Not Share, but now that the screenings, voting, and awards have happened, it’s all good.)



Gen Con 2019

GenCon Program Blurb 2019

Gen Con lists us as a Featured Event.

I was away at another conference during most of Gen Con, and only drove up for the Sunday church service.

Gen Con Worship Service

This year, Tom Vasel (of The Dice Tower) once again preached for us. Bubba Stallcup (of Love Thy Nerd) led our music.

I first started holding Christian Gamers Guild church services at Gen Con back in 2002 (or maybe 2001). Several years ago, we got too big for the Convention Center (the biggest room they could give us there had a capacity of 200), so they moved us to a nearby hotel. Our current space is great, but it’s mildly inconvenient for Exhibit Hall vendors who need to get there by 10:00, since it’s a good 10-minute walk.

Gen Con 2019

Click for a video clip of our worship service.

These days our services generally get around 250 people, which is our largest church service of the year. At smaller conventions, we might get 50 to 100.

You can see four video clips of the service here:



Here’s our program for the event.


Song: A Grazing Mace

I co-wrote the comedy skit stage show Company OutCast‘s Best Bits, a Monty Pythonesque revue and tribute.

They wanted to have a hymn parody, along the lines of the Python’s “All Things Dull and Ugly.” I put together this tour de farce based on “Amazing Grace,” but we ended up not using it in the show.

So here, for your amusement, is a Special Feature — a deleted scene from the show.

A Grazing Mace

A grazing mace twas but a scratch
that struck a knight like me
No man may pass upon this path
for I will smiteth he

A logging place where I could leap
from tree to mighty tree
I like to dress in women’s clothes
and go to the lavat’ry

A squawking face could speak and sing
if he had life like me
Norwegian blue could fly so free
but he has ceased to be

A fighting space lets me behave
as contradictory
I argue with our customers
if they have paid the fee

A walking pace takes me to work
for public ministry
of silly walks and strolls and struts
that are cockamamie

(c) Dave Mattingly, 2019


Urban Fantasy All-Stars

At a convention a few years back, I was the Gaming Guest of Honor and Jim Butcher was the Author Guest of Honor. Since I love his Dresden Files novel series, and the game based on it, I ran a game based on all the famous monster hunters in movies in television (at the time).

The Characters

I did my best to supply a balance of characters who specialize in muscle and fighting, investigating and science, and magic and supernatural. I hoped that every player would know at least one of the characters well enough to jump right in.

  • Ash Williams (Evil Dead) has a missing hand that can wear a strong metal gauntlet or a chainsaw
  • Johnny Blaze (Ghost Rider) is a demon-possessed stunt rider who punishes the wicked
  • Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters) is a dodgy scientist with an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back
  • Nick Burkhardt (Grimm) is a cop that unexpectedly inherited the ability to see monsters
  • John Constantine (Constantine) is part exorcist, part spellcaster, and all asshole
  • Selene (Underworld) is a vampiric assassin who lives semi-exiled on the outskirts of her kind
  • Hellboy (Hellboy) is a demon who was raised by a good human man, and fights monsters in secret
  • Melinda Gordon (Ghost Whisperer) can see and talk to ghosts, and helps them find their final peace
  • Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) is a brilliant magic student with a smug know-it-all attitude
  • Mouse (The Dresden Files) is Harry Dresden’s dog, with a holy lineage and celestial powers
  • Flynn Carsen (The Librarian) knows something about everything but almost nothing about living

The Plot

The are many ways to bring everyone together, varying a lot based on which characters are playing.

  • rumors of an evil coming
  • an ancient prophecy
  • a murdered ghost (Jake, a school janitor) contacts Melinda
  • a museum exhibit of ancient spiritual books, including the Necronomicon
  • or whatever else will tease the character’s interests

The rest of the plot is vague and fluid, and should be played by ear. Introduce villains one by one, perhaps disguised by a glamour spell or in an alternate identity, until a battle explodes on the scene.

The all-star villains that I generally use are:

The Character Sheets

I’ve supplied the character sheets in standard Dresden Files RPG format, and in a “dossier” format that I designed.

Ash Sheet 2 Ash Sheet 1 Ash Nameplate


You can download the character sheets here, and character nameplates here.


Cereal Killers

Years ago, my friend Joe Linehan ran a roleplaying game based on cereal mascots as the player characters. To ramp up the strangeness, he kept it grim and gritty by running them through the plot of Watchmen.

I loved the idea so much that I spun off a scenario based on Independence Day and Aliens. In my game Plan Q from Outer Space, Quisp invaded Earth with giant cereal bowl spaceships poised to shoot giant beams of milk to destroy major cities. On board the ships were alien Soggies, with lactic acid for blood.

Joe and I have run several games in the cereal-verse since then. My favorite title was Joe’s wartime epic A Box o’ Trix Now (“I love the smell of cereal in the morning.”).

Night of the Living Crunch

In the zombie horror game “Cereal Killers: Night of the Living Crunch,” the dead rise and want to eat your grains.

The Breakfast Club is…

  • Cap’n Crunch is a mighty sailin’ man; an expert in tactics and combat.
  • Tony the Tiger is the fitness nut (or flake) of the group, bringing out the tiger in everyone.
  • Toucan Sam is a cynical detective noir and suspected ecoterrorist – the nose knows.
  • Sugar Bear brings peace, jazz, and cereal to children of the world. Can’t we all just get along?
  • Trix Rabbit is the manic experimental field engineer / gadgeteer who dabbles in spycraft.
  • Lucky the Leprechaun is the mystic master of the occult arts – the Cereal Supreme.
  • Sonny the Cuckoo is the chocoholic street smart hustler who can go nutso with extreme prejudice.
  • Count Chocula feeds upon chocolate by night and sleeps in a large cereal box by day.
  • Quisp (recently cured by Frankenberry) is studying the Earth for his native Quisp Continuum.

The Plot

We start with the groups in pairs on separate adventures. Cap’n Crunch and Toucan Sam start out on the Crunchberry Islands, being chased by Cocoa Krispie pygmies. Tony is coaching Sugar Bear out of his hibernation. Lucky has been asked to deliver the eulogy for Dig’em Frog. Chocula is sponsoring Sonny at his first chocoholics anonymous meeting. Quisp is trying to teach Trix the “basics” of nuclear physics.

Everyone gets back to headquarters, the Honeycomb Hideout, to compare notes, when the phone rings. It’s Fruit Brute, howling for help. “Cap’n, they’re all over me!” The crew heads to Bransylvania to investigate.

After exploring the moors, they find their werewolf friend dismembered, with stinky white goo at the “edges.” They find themselves surrounded by zombie soggies (around two per PC) that can turn others into zoggies by touch. Trix or Lucky can try to reverse the effect, or Tony could suppress the effect with effort in a pinch. Frankenberry probably has medical equipment that could help, as well.

A spell from Lucky or some super-smell from Sam could find a trail of weird residual energy leading up to Frankenberry’s castle.


To find out what’s really happening in the plot, select the text in the following box. (Triple-clicking inside the box will work for that.)

Frankenberry isn’t himself; Quisp’s brain is inside his head. When he had “cured” Quisp by cleaning his brain, he put the wrong brain in. FrankenQuisp has Booberry magically chained up in the basement to siphon off his ghostly energy to build a death ray. Booberry was leaking an “afterlife fog” that drained down to the moors and raised the zoggies. The team can rescue Booberry, freeing him to move on to the next world, and fight FrankenQuisp. Swapping Frank’s, Quisp’s, and the spare brain back into the right bodies is a relatively simple procedure for anyone with first aid training. The spare brain goes into a jar marked “Mattingly” who wasn’t using it, since he’s just a game designer and a preacher.

The Character Sheets

I was inspired by another friend’s game props. Karl Keesler ran a League of Extraordinary 1970’s Gentlemen game, with the character sheets designed as 8-track tapes. That inspired me to step up my character sheet presentation, and I found a way to print cereal box wrap-around designs. So I turned Joe’s original character sheets into boxes, and taped them onto actual mini-cereal boxes. These are written using the HERO System rules.

Cereal Boxes


You can download the character boxes here and the printer-friendly black-and-white version here.