Moments in Magic: How I Finally Learned How to Play Momir Basic

Since this past August, I’ve been playing Magic: the Gathering Arena in their closed beta both on my own and streaming on my Twitch channel at geekingoutabout. I’m not that great of a player, so when I finally won my first game of Momir Basic, I thought it was good enough to create a video about it.

Learning how to play Momir Basic on MTG Arena lead to many nice moments.

If you’re interested in learning more about this newest iteration of Magic, you can read this article I wrote for Twin Cities Geek and download the game for yourself at the Arena website.

Trisha’s Take: Unavowed


The four main characters of Unavowed: a male medium, a female swordswoman, a male mage, and a female police detective.
Are you strong enough, smart enough, or powerful enough to join the Unavowed? © Wadjet Eye Games


Created, Designed, and Published by Wadjet Eye Games
Written by Dave Gilbert
Starring (from left to right): Logan Cunningham, Sandra Espinoza, Frank Todaro, Arielle Siegel, SungWon Cho (not pictured), and more
Art by Ben Chandler and Ivan Ulyanov
Music by Thomas Regin
Rating: Mature adolescents and above (adult language, gun violence, supernatural elements)

Official Blurb: For one year, crime-torn New York City has been at the mercy of someone hell-bent on destruction and chaos. Waking up on a stormy rooftop, you learn that this someone was you. At least, the heinous acts were carried out by your body, possessed by an angry demon that’s now loose in the city that never sleeps. The only force that can stop it is the Unavowed, a centuries old supernatural crime-fighting troupe that takes down evil in the shadows—and you are their newest member.

Pros: Voice acting is top-notch and all of the diverse characters have depth and are more than just stereotypes.

Cons: Some of the puzzles require a pixel hunt, and that can really take you out of the story.

It’s been a while since I’ve played a video game which did not involve mana, either land-generated or crystal-generated). As such, it took me a while to get into Unavowed, the latest adventure published by Wadjet Eye Games. However, after playing my review copy for approximately 32 hours with two player characters and experiencing four different endings, I can say that I’m definitely not going to wait that long before playing another one.

Unavowed takes place within the universe conceived within the partially-finished Bestowers of Eternity (2003) and then introduced by Blackwell Legacy (2007), also created by Dave Gilbert and published by Wadjet Eye Games. However, you don’t need to have played either of those games or the four other games within the Blackwell series to understand the world that’s been built. Because there is an already-established universe for its characters, the story that’s been built for Unavowed is very strong.

As a mystery, Unavowed does very well at dribbling out hints as to what has befallen the player-character (whose name and gender but not facial features can be chosen during the first scene) during the previous year. It is revealed that not only have you murdered your friends and colleagues, but you’ve also wreaked havoc over New York City by influencing or causing other strange deaths and disappearances. Joining the Unavowed is the only way you’re able to find out what happened to you which is done through investigating sources of demonic energy you (or the demon within you) has left all over the city. I found myself taking a lot of time to read through all of the dialogue, even some of the brilliant “idle stance” dialogue that Gilbert wrote for this non-player characters (NPCs), just so I could figure out more of the mystery and also so that I could unlock the next bit of story which could be uncovered when you speak to certain characters are certain times.

One of the big complaints that I’ve often read about point-and-click adventure games is that sometimes a puzzle isn’t intuitive enough for a player to figure it out without a hint. Some hidden object games have chosen to get around that by instituting a rechargeable “hint” bar where if you wait for long enough (or make an in-app purchase) you can get a clue on how to solve a puzzle. Unavowed does no such thing, but instead allows you to ask the other two members of your party what they think you should do next. Their dialogue responses often helped me figure out the next room or person I had to visit. I will state, however, that there were at least five times where I had to resort to performing a “pixel hunt” or consulting the provided walkthrough to figure things out. Whenever I did that, it pulled me out of the story and reminded me that not only was I playing a game, I wasn’t being very smart about it either.

And speaking of the dialogue, not only is it written well, it’s also performed very well. In an interview with me, Gilbert said that many of the voice actors he works with have an improv theater background and that professionality shines through. My favorite characters were Mandana and Vicki, not just because they were fully-fleshed out characters and not stereotypes but also because of the personality which Sandra Espinoza (Mandana) and Arielle Siegel (Vicki) brought to their lines. In fact, I love all of the characters in this game because their diversity and diverse personalities are so true to the New York City I called my home for over eight years.

It’s also due to the portrait art by Ivan Ulyanov that I was able to empathize with the NPCs so well. Almost every line of dialogue was accompanied by a change in the character portrait that emphasized the emotion being conveyed through the tone in their voices. Best of all, even if you’re a person who has a problem hearing spoken dialogue, the characters’ expressions accurately conveyed the mood contained within the writing.

It’s because of this that you can tell that Gilbert spent a lot of time thinking about every line of dialogue. Much of this is due to one trick which he says in the interview was borrowed liberally from Bioware (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) where what you choose as your character’s dialogue has an effect on the NPC’s response back to you. As I was playing the game, I found inventing a personality for both of my player characters based solely on how I thought either of them would respond to a statement or ask a question. This, in addition to the mechanic of being able to pick two NPCs to make up a party help make Unavowed more than just another adventure game.

If this kind of adventure game is going to be part of the way forward for Wadjet Eye Games, then not only do I look forward to seeing more games like Unavowed from this publisher, I’m going to expect other adventure game designers to follow suit in their own way. And that, I think, is not a bad thing at all.

Geekly Speaking About… Dave Gilbert and Unavowed

Dave Gilbert talks about just one of the many supernatural characters you’ll meet in Unavowed from Wadjet Eye Games © Geeking Out About

About four years ago, I worked as an administrative assistant for an indie video game publisher named Games Omniverse. Part of my job was to not only update all of the game design documents on the company’s internal wiki, but to write some articles for the company blog about games, specifically adventure games.

Writing those articles rekindled my love for adventure gaming, so when I was offered a review copy of Unavowed, the latest from Wadjet Eye Games, I jumped at the chance to not only review it, but to get an interview with its creator Dave Gilbert. All the show notes are under the jump.

0:01 – VidCast begins
1:13 – Introduction to Wadjet Eye Games and Dave Gilbert

  • REVIEW: Resonance discussion and review – Ah, I was mistaken. It was former GOA contributors Jonathan Cherlin and Jill Pullara who reviewed this game. You should still check it out, though, as it was programmed entirely by Wadjet Eye’s CTO, Janet Gilbert.

9:15 – Gameplay begins

39:15 – Credits

Music Credits:
“roma pt. 2” by greyguy © copyright 2010 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
“Introduction” by Thomas Regin © copyright 2018 Licensed for fair use by Wadjet Eye Games.

Geekly Speaking About… is a video-cast (and former podcast) about pop culture and geek culture both old and new. Trisha Lynn is not a Bestower, but does believe in the cosmic power of the universe from time to time.

Too Early for Streaming – “Dominated by Dominaria”

Better later than never, I say, and so shall you when you watch the this episode in our vidcast wherein I recap my Magic: the Gathering Dominaria prerelease experience and ask the question: When is a troll actually a troll?


And here are the show notes!


0:01 – VidCast Begins
6:42 – This Week in WoW Raiding
10:30 – How I Started MMORPG Raiding
29:30 – “Commercial” Break
30:11 – The Magic: the Gathering Dominaria PreRelease

47:12 – The Troll at the PreRelease
1:05:48 – Credits
1:06:45 – Coda

Music Credits:
“Roma pt. 2” by greyguy © copyright 2010 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
“Dub the Uke” by Kara Square (Ft: DJ Vadim) © copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
“Sometimes” by Stefan Kartenberg © copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

Too Early for Streaming is a video-cast (aka vidcast) where no topics are too sacred to be discussed in depth. Trisha Lynn is a presenter and prefers Tiny Leaders where no one has a real advantage at all. I swear, there should be more Tiny Leaders events at GPs….

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Geekly Speaking About… Gilbert and Sullivan Productions in the Twin Cities

In the effort to both be able to play video games while churning out columns, I’ve combined my Sunday Twitch streams and some of my old columns into something entirely new. I can’t call this a pilot because I have at least 15 audio-only Geekly Speaking About… episodes which I hope I’ll have the time to convert to a new embedding format, but I hope you enjoy this new column which was supposed to go up last Thursday but I ran out of time. (Thank goodness for the ability to change publishing and posting dates.)


And now for the show notes!

0:01 – Vidcast Begins
2:43 – My Introduction to the Works of Gilbert & Sullivan
17:31 – An Aside on Draenor/Outland Geography
20:02 – Talkin’ ’bout Princess Ida

52:10 – “Commercial” Break
1:02:13 – Talkin’ ’bout The Pirates of Penzance

1:28:02 – The Tale of the Tape
1:28:48 – Credits

Additional Reading:
Is ‘The Mikado’ Too Politically Incorrect to Be Fixed? Maybe Not.

Music Credits:
“Adaptation Jam” by Aussens@iter (feat. Bill Ray) © copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
“Dub the Uke” by Kara Square (feat. DJ Vadim) © copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
“Now wouldn’t you like to rule the roost?” by The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company © copyright 1965.

Sound Effects:
“Large crowd…” by eguobyte © copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license.
“Crowd Cheer” by FoolBoyMedia © copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license.

Geekly Speaking About… is a video-cast (and former podcast) about pop culture and geek culture both old and new. Trisha Lynn is a presenter and is also the very model of a modern female broadcaster.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Too Early For Streaming: Pilot – “So That a Woman can Stand Up”

We’re pleased and proud to announce the debut of our new podcast/vidcast/streaming show/video magazine. Depending on how many spoons I have during the weekend, you should expect either this show or a vidcast version of “Geekly Speaking About” to show up here on the blog every Thursday morning, following a live stream on our Twitch channel called geekingoutabout. You can watch it here and then click the link to read the show notes.

0:01 – VidCast Begins
2:38 – Introducing the New Format
12:18 – This Week on MoonGuard
20:50 – Restarting the Boss Fight
23:43 – A Musical Interlude
27:56 – WoW Women
35:24 – A Great Blizzard of 2018

43:00 – Introducing Briana Lawrence

55:21 – Review of Anime Detour 2018

1:00:20 – Final Topic
1:08:20 – Excerpt of the Day

1:20:54 – Time to Consult WowHead Again
1:23:25 – “Commercial” Break
1:38:45 – The Moral of This VidCast

Music Credits:
“Roma pt. 2” by greyguy © copyright 2010 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
“Dub the Uke” by Kara Square (Ft: DJ Vadim) © copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
“Flower” by Doxent Zsigmond (Ft: Rocavaco, Javolenus, Jeris, State Shirt) © copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

I hope you enjoyed watching this as much as I enjoyed making it and I hope to see you live this coming Sunday morning on April 22.

Too Early for Streaming is a video-cast (aka vidcast) where no topics are too sacred to be discussed in depth. Trisha Lynn is a presenter and a woman who is strong and good-looking and an average gamer.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

It Came from the Bargain Bin: Tadpole

Before I dig into this retro (!) review, let me first explain something. See, back when I was in my early 20s in New York City, I had a day job where I entered DVD and VHS release information into a database that then got sold to companies who needed databases of information like this, like Tower Records. You remember record stores… right?

Anyway, naturally, this meant that the company I was working for had a pretty close relationship with both the major and the minor video distributors and studios. This also means that from time to time, they would send us screener copies of movies that are about to come out on DVD and/or VHS. These copies got passed around the office and housed somewhere until the day someone got sick of seeing them in their cubicle and put them in the breakroom for anyone to take. That’s how I got a hold of a review copy of Tadpole and that’s when I decided to write a DVD review. I’ve cleaned it up since then, but for the most part, I have not looked at this since I first wrote it in 2004.

© Miramax Films

Directed by Gary Winick
Starring: Aaron Stanford, Bebe Neuwirth, Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, mature thematic elements and language

For my review, I first went through the previews on the Tadpole DVD. As this movie was released by Miramax, I was expecting to see trailers for movies I’d never seen before and will not likely ever see again, and I was right. First up was a trailer for Ordinary Decent Criminal, which I can best describe as “Keyser Soze Meets Lester Burnham in Ireland”. Except, I couldn’t tell that it was set in Ireland until I went to the IMDB to get the link for it.

Next up was Tangled, which sounds like something I might actually see on a Dumb Movie Night because it features a slashtastic, creepy threesome of alluring late-twenty-somethings playing younger and “how their friendship went wrong”. The best part is that one of the actors looks very much like Shawn Ashmore of X-Men fame, which makes imagining him in a torrid threesome that much more possible.

The last trailer was for a multiple film festival award winner and nominee, by a director I’d never heard of named Time Out. That is, I think that this link goes to the right movie, because there are no lines from the movie at all in the trailer, just music. I kinda miss the days when trailers were made like this.

The credits roll, and it’s an honest to goodness actual “credit roll” instead of the brief opening titles and rush into action that we get from so many movies and TV series these days. Damn you, Jerry Seinfeld! We open on a scene of young “teens” on a train from upstate New York heading into the City for Thanksgiving break. The star of our picture is Aaron Stanford, who I just learned is also Pyro from the second X-Men movie. But his character’s name is Oscar—an obvious nod to that faboo wit Oscar Wilde. Which makes Oscar’s constant quoting and adoration of Jean Voltaire all the more weird. One thing that’s weird about this movie is that scenes are opened and closed with relevant quotes from Voltaire. I got all of them written down, but I’ll only include them in the review if I think they’re funny—which many of them were not.

Oscar and his sidekick Charlie are talking about a girl in their class named Miranda, more specifically her hands. Oscar believes that Miranda’s are too young, that they haven’t seen enough life. Charlie thinks he’s insane, as one is when you’re a 15-year old boy and obsessing about old women’s hands. The aforementioned teen hottie passes the duo going down the aisle and talks to Oscar, which makes Charlie comment behind her back that she’s hot for Oscar’s bod. Oscar replies that he’s in love with someone else, and hopes to tell her so over Thanksgiving break.

We montage from Grand Central Terminal to outside Oscar’s apartment building, which is patrolled by the surliest white doorman ever, Jimmy. He says something surly and Oscar asks if Eve is home. Jimmy replies that she’s not, and that she said she’ll be back later. Wow, that was extremely helpful and kinda creepy. I now know that all I need to get pertinent information about the comings and goings of rich Manhattanites is to find the surliest doorman standing outside their buildings. I won’t even need to bribe them!

We go upstairs to Oscar’s apartment, where there’s a party going on, hosted by his dad, John Ritter. Let me just say right now that I really miss John Ritter and he was totally underused here. I mean, he’s the king of physical comedy and big reactions, and what does he do here? Play an absent-minded, fuzzy, sweater-wearing, fully-bearded Columbia University (I think) historian. He only gets to do one spit take in this movie! That is such a crime.

There’s lots of witty, urbane banter between fellow professors and one in particular who has a teenage daughter who also seems to be hot for Oscar’s bod. But since her hands are fresh and dewy rather than toughened, wrinkled, and well-worn, he gives her a pass. There’s more banter, there’s more shots of Oscar roaming the party aimlessly, looking for the woman he loves, when lo! the romantic strains of a love theme fill the room and we spy Sigourney Weaver taking off her coat in the foyer. Hearts, puppies, flowers—it’s all there and that’s when we also find out that Sigourney Weaver is Eve and that she’s Oscar’s stepmother! Dammit! Just when I was getting ready to indulge in some glorious Oedipal action. I guess even director Gary “13 Going on 30” Winick wasn’t willing to go that far.

There’s another scene in the kitchen that introduces Bebe Neuwirth as Diane, Eve’s best friend who also happens to be a chiropractor. I’ve always loved Bebe Neuwirth ever since her days with Cheers, and when I learned that she also did musical comedy theater, I fell more deeply in love. Hence, when I tell you that Bebe Neuwirth speaking French (in a scene that’s obviously designed to show the audience that both she and Oscar know how to speak it) is the sexiest thing ever filmed, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Oh, and I’m not sure where and when we find out that Oscar’s part-French, but I’m going to put this info in this paragraph because it kinda fits.

We skip right over the dinner itself and right to John Ritter trying to fix his son up with the other professor’s daughter by asking Oscar to walk her home to her apartment, a little over six blocks away. This scene was a bit of a gem because Oscar begins a little rant about how he’s tired, he’s been traveling all day, hasn’t unpacked and “I’m not going to stand around and argue about this.” Which of course leads to the next scene being him and the daughter outside at night.

(As a former New York City-resident let me just say that even if they were going across the island rather than up and down, six blocks really isn’t all that far to walk. Plus, I think that they’re definitely the shorter blocks rather than the longer ones.)

He sidesteps her attempts at conversation and pulls a classic manuever that I didn’t think a 15-year old kid knew about by calling a cab, shoving some money through the partition and giving the cabbie directions to her place. His next stop is a bar, where he and another barfly share some bitter words about women over whiskey. This is where my suspension of disbelief flew right out the window. If I’m supposed to believe that Aaron Stanhope is a 15-year old boy and react accordingly throughout the entire movie, then you’re not supposed to sidetrack me by also making me believe that he looks old enough not to get carded in a bar. If there’s supposed to be some big taboo about him being so young in the movie, don’t ruin it by making him do stuff like drink whiskey in a bar! You’ve got some directorial balls, right Mr. Winick? Use them!

Oscar’s hand fetish kicks into overdrive when he spies The Incredible Hot Tattooed Lady at the bar and attempts to pick her up by saying, “You have the most loveliest hands.” There’s even a close-up of them. This is starting to make me feel creepy because I am suddenly reminded of a guy I knew in high school who professed to have an elbow fetish. He was on the trivia team and in my French class, too. Of course, my nerdy young self was hot for him. I do not need to start feeling hot for Pyro (no pun intended).

Alas, we don’t see what happened next because the next shot is Oscar wandering down the street drunk, looking in shop windows. He encounters Diane, and the following conversation takes place:

Oscar: My wallet was stolen.
Diane: You were mugged?
Oscar: Well, sort of.
Diane: What do you mean, ‘sort of’?
Oscar: She was very pleasant about it.

Diane takes pity on Oscar and takes him back to her place where she of course has a massage table set up because she’s a chiropractor, you know. I want to know exactly where in Manhattan she lives where she’s able to fit a massage table in her living room. He notices that Diane’s wearing Eve’s scarf, then flops down on the table—as one does when they’re drunk. She takes that to mean that he wants a back massage—as one does—and starts working on him. Diane also manages to get him to take his shirt off because it’s allegedly easier for her to work on his back if he’s topless. Whatever. I’ve used that line—and have been given that line—several times before.

She must be a pretty good chiropractor, because instead of hearing the sound of cracking and creaking bones, we hear Oscar’s moans. Winick even helpfully includes a few reaction shots from beneath the table looking up at Oscar’s face through the hole in the head pillow. My notes are calling this Stanhope’s “toilet bowl orgasm face”. Of course he sees the long end of her scarf hanging down and I’m screaming inside because didn’t Isadora Duncan die because of a long scarf hanging down? But this isn’t a horror flick, it’s a slice-of-life-while-coming-of-age-and-having-teen-angst flick, so Oscar sits up abruptly buries his face in her neck. They embrace and kiss and then… fade to black.

The next morning finds Oscar in Diane’s bed, a position I would heartily give my eyeteeth to be in, if I still had them. Or I’d steal someone else’s eyeteeth and use those. I’m flexible. He tries to sneak out and gets caught by Diane’s Hick Boyfriend (played by Hey! It’s That Guy Adam LeFevre–a “Mr. Cellophane”-kind of actor if there ever was one). He surprises him with this line of dialogue, “She’s fantastic, isn’t she?” And they say guys never talk shop about sex. But no, this is a standard movie cliche where one character’s dialogue makes another character think that he has discovered an awful secret when really the first character is really talking about something innocuous, like his chiropractor girlfriend having scheduled a guy for back massage therapy on the day after Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever recall any of my doctors having any kind of office hours the day after Thanksgiving, not even the pediatric urologist. And besides, what the hell is a glamorous gal like Diane doing with a guy like him? He must be rich or something. We know it’s not the size of his penis, because when Diane finally wakes up and walks Oscar to the door, and he’s frantically telling her not to say anything about what happened to the HB because, “[Hick Boyfriend]’s bigger”, Diane gets a delicious look on his face and says, “Actually he’s not.” Oh, Diane. I think I fell in love with you a little bit more.Oscar goes home and tries to bluff his way out of talking to John Ritter, who’s been waiting for him. Oscar wants nothing more than to go to his room and jerk off to the smell of his stepmom’s scarf jerk off to the smell of his stepmom’s scarf, but John Ritter displays a bit of fatherly non-absentmindedness and drags his son off to the supermarket for some manly conversation.I squealed with delight when I saw the next shot because they showed them walking out of a Fairway, one of Manhattan’s many gourmet supermarkets. I totally love that store because it lets me indulge in my inner food snob and the inner wine geek who cries every time I mix vodka with other various liquids and call it a lovely drink. I’d like to think it’s their Broadway location because it’s in the 70s and the other professor’s daughter was going to a place in the 60s. Besides, I’ve been there and I can now say that not only have I gotten to interview John Ritter (as part of a press junket-y thing when “8 Simple Rules” was in its first season), but I sat one row over from him at a live show and walked in a location he made a movie in. You only wish you had as much John Ritter-karma.John Ritter manages to get Oscar to confess that he spent the night at a female friend’s house and when pressed for a name, blurts out, “Miranda Whatsherface.” John’s pleased, but Oscar just says that she’s not really the kind of a gal he goes for. I gotta hand it to John in this scene, because he’s at his fuzzy-headed best. There’s this great part where Oscar is maintaining that the girls he knows at school aren’t up to his intellect, and John replies like he’s offended, “Girls have things to say.”They go home, and Oscar gets the bright idea to go bring a picnic lunch to Eve at her office at work. Before that, though, he spies on her and stalks her at Central Park before following her to her office. What follows is the most cliched romantic montage ever. They’re flying a kite in the park, and then they’re riding one of those hansom cabs that patrol the Park perimiter, and then they’re riding the carousel. It’s enough to make your stomach spin.So he goes to her lab, and Eve’s pleasantly surprised. He brings out the little brown bag with a sandwich in it and a soda and she’s all like, “Oh, how nice of you to bring me lunch, OH STEPSON OF MINE IN WHOM I HAVE NO SEXUAL INTEREST AT ALL.” That’s okay, because I’m busy yelling at the screen, “Don’t eat in the lab! It’s so unsanitary!” What kind of medical scientist is she, anyway? They talk for a bit, and then Oscar reveals that he wants to go pre-med to become a doctor like her, and she’s all, “Why would you do that when you’re such a creative person? It’s not like YOU’RE ONLY DOING THIS TO GET CLOSER TO ME AND HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH ME.” They banter for a bit and she talks about the poetry of the heart (literally), but it becomes one of those scenes where the words take on a different meaning. Medical talk as foreplay, so to speak. That was kinda hot.

When he gets home, John Ritter mentions that they’re having dinner that evening (at a French restaurant, natch) and that Diane’s coming along. Panicked at the thought of his current love and his one-night stand in the same room together, Oscar first tries to get John to uninvite her, then tracks Diane down to the spot where she usually has lunch with her female friends and is greeted by a gaggle of fiendish female grins. He’s a bit put off at first, but they encourage him to sit down and talk for a while. One Voltaire title card later, he’s talking to them like they’ve been friends for years, and totally charming all the women. Their meal finished, the rest of the women get up to leave, and one of them gives him her phone number. Suspicious, Oscar asks Diane if she told her friends and she says yes. I don’t blame her one bit. He told her not to tell Eve or her Hick Boyfriend, but didn’t say anything about not telling anyone else. Tsk, should’ve closed that loophole, boy. He asks her not to say anything at dinner, and definitely not to get tipsy or anything like that and she agrees.

They banter about Eve for a bit and Diane reveals that Eve told her once that she’s not happy. She also reveals that when Eve was younger, she totally went for guys who had sideburns. This distresses and distracts Oscar so much that when he later goes over to Charlie’s place to make a set of fake sideburns, he cops to not just the fact that he’s in love with his stepmother, but that he had sex with an older woman. Charlie proves that he’s the goofy sidekick, not the jerk, by not asking how good Diane is in bed but instead freaking out about Charlie’s lust for Eve. The expression on his face is just perfect. He does get off one crack about Oscar being French and how the French have a different idea about family relations. I have no idea where that came from. I know I never learned that in all my four years of high school French class. It might have made class more interesting, though.

Oscar puts on the fake sideburns in the bathroom and there’s this awkward moment where Eve opens the door to the bathroom and sees him with his shirt off and a towel around his waist. But then she goes away, and then Oscar finishes jerking off to a fantasy of him and his stepmother getting it on in the bathroom getting ready. With his sideburns in place, they all walk to the restaurant for dinner with the guys walking behind the women and Oscar straining to hear their conversation, to see if Diane will keep up her end of the bargain. At the restaurant, more complications come up as Miranda Whatsherface and her family bump into John Ritter and Oscar at the coat check. Fuzzy John tries to talk to her father, but Oscar practically manhandles him away. He takes charge the instant they get to the table, ordering food for everyone in French, and trying to dissuade his father and Eve from getting wine with their meal.

His take-charge attitude totally gets on Diane’s nerves, because she instantly starts provoking Oscar by drinking wine. Ooh! Diane versus Oscar, round one… fight! Oscar’s toast. I’m proven right later on because If I’d been watching this on DVD with French subtitles turned on, I could have also learned a useful phrase when Oscar tells Diane in French, “Get your foot out of my crotch, please.” John tries to tell Eve and Diane about Miranda, and Oscar gets more weird. Diane drinks more and most likely starts doing more stuff with Oscar’s crotch.

It’s a wonderful tableau of comic uneasiness, and then Diane gets up to go to the bathroom. Oscar follows her to confront her on her behavior and Diane’s all, “Whatever,” and plants a long, deep kiss on his mouth. Which is seen by John because there’s this weird mirror near the hallway to the bathroom and he sees them in the reflection. Oscar gets back to the table first and then Diane gets back, and there on her cheek is one of Oscar’s fake sideburns. He leans over and rips it off of her face, prompting Eve to ask what’s going on, or what’s wrong, or something like that. John Ritter lets it drop that he saw them kissing and asks what’s going on. Oscar tries to lie about it, but Diane says it outright that they’re lovers. There’s an outraged silence from Eve, embarrassment from Oscar, some sort of satisfaction from Diane, and another John Ritter moment where he mentions that in Rome, there were some 50-year old women who had affairs with younger men. Eve says, “This isn’t Rome!” Diane says, “I am nowhere near 50!”

Eve and Diane walk in the park the next day to talk about it, and Diane says stuff about how sometimes you just gotta take happiness in the hands, or by the cock, or something like that. It must not have been that important, because I didn’t take any notes on that part other than the fact that when she takes the subway to the club where she’s supposed to meet up with Oscar for a tennis match, she’s waiting at the 79th St. station on the 1/9 line. I am totally obsessed with figuring out where in Manhattan they live.

What follows next is one of the best sequences ever. Oscar’s monologuing to the camera, like he’s practicing a speech, trying to explain what’s going on and tell her he loves her. This is intercut with scenes of Eve and Oscar playing tennis, and she’s being pretty vicious in her attacks. Finally, she smacks him a good one with the tennis ball, and he pitches over backwards. Cut back to Oscar, who now revealed to have a bump on his head, and Eve comes in with ice for it. I totally loved how that played out. It’s the best scene/sequence in the movie. They don’t talk much at all, just revel in the delicious strained silence.

Then, it’s back to Charlie’s place, where Oscar angsts some more about what to do. This scene really isn’t that important, but it does end on a great note when towards the end, Charlie’s mom comes in with a plate of cookies and milk. Charlie thanks his mom, and then notices a look on Oscar’s face, and says, “Stick to your own mom, will ya?”

Oscar goes home and finds Eve alone. The tension rises, and some other things possibly rise, too. She fixes him a plate for dinner and they talk. It’s when Oscar reveals that the only reason he turned to Diane was because she was wearing Eve’s scarf and it smelled like her that she finally gets it. Sigourney Weaver really sells this reveal. How else are you supposed to react when you find out your stepson only slept with your middle-aged best friend because then he could imagine he was sleeping with you? Eve says she loves Oscar’s dad, Oscar counters that Diane said she wasn’t happy. What kind of argument for incest is that? He finishes his food, and she goes into the kitchen to wash the plate, and he kisses her. On the mouth. I’m not sure if there was tongue, but I’m going to go ahead and imagine that there was. Her reaction? Put the plate down and walk away. I guess this means that even if you’re more endowed than a Manhattan hick, you still might not get the girl.

Cut to the next day, and John Ritter and Eve are seeing Oscar off at the train station. They talk about the next vacation plans, and John Ritter reveals that they’re shipping Oscar off to France to be with his biological mother while he and Eve go to the Carribbean for a vacation. I sense an inappropriate sequel idea and try to scrub it from my mind. I think the Carribbean thing might have to do with some innocuous conversation they had near the beginning of the movie, but I really couldn’t be arsed with going back to find out. He gets on the train and sees Miranda Whatsherface trying to put her bag on the overhead rack. He helps her with it and goes back to sit down next to Charlie, who has just arrived. They talk a bit about what happened, and then Oscar says that Miranda smells nice. A new fetish has been born!

So what have we learned about life from watching Tadpole? I think it’s obvious:

1. Sideburns stick on better with spirit gum.
2. If you ever marry a person with kids, make sure they’re of the same gender and aren’t likely to be homosexual.
3. The French are into incest.

It Came from the Bargain Bin is a review series which takes lovely and loving potshots at movies which may not have been good enough to warrant worldwide acclaim, but hold a soft spot in the reviewer’s heart.

Trisha Lynn was also a precocious teenager in her day, but at least she never had sex with any of her parents’ friends…… ew!

Trisha’s Take: The Loading Ready Run Pre-Pre-Releases

Loading Ready Run co-founder Graham Stark sets sail for the shores of Ixalan. ©  Bionic Trousers Media/Wizards of the Coast

I’ve been watching the Rivals of Ixalan Pre-Pre-Release replay first on Twitch and later on YouTube over and over and I think that this is the best kind of marketing event for Magic: the Gathering that Wizards of the Coast ever fell backwards into. Why?

1. The people at Loading Ready Run who are hosting and producing these events have at least a decade of experience in being funny and entertaining while being professional. (Special kudos to James Turner, whose idea this all was, I think.)

2. Their online chat mods do not tolerate trolls. At all.

3. Their online chat community also does not tolerate trolls. At all.

4. The focus on the event is having fun and learning what the cards do, as all non-moneyed competitive events should do. (Note: Winning packs as prizes doesn’t count as money. No matter how much you try, you cannot buy groceries with packs of Magic cards.)

5. The guests they invite can be a diverse bunch of folks who are also entertaining, engaging, and friendly. Two of my favorites have been former Magic pro and current Wizards employee Melissa DeTora and Jimmy Wong from the Command Zone podcast. (Special hat-tip to Reuben Bresler of the Magic Mics podcast, whose Facebook post recap inspired this post.)

It’s these last two parts that are perhaps the most important key to drawing new players into the game or convincing lapsed players that they should head back into their Local Gaming Store to attend the set’s actual pre-release and perhaps start playing Magic again. I know that’s how I felt back when LRR debuted this show starting with the Shadows of Innistrad Pre-Pre-Release. I went to my LGS the following Saturday and went 0-4 in back-to-back events. By watching the show, I could not only see some of the cards that were released in the visual spoiler, but I could get a sense of how to actually play with them in a live situation.

You have no idea how hard it was for me not to quip about “throwing away my shot” during my matches. © Geeking Out About

Perhaps the biggest barrier for someone who’s on the fence on whether or not they’ll want to spend their money on a new game they haven’t seen is wanting to actually see what it’s like; the PPRs are perfect for that kind of demonstration, more so than Wizards‘ own Magic tournament streams. Because it’s partially produced by the company, there’s some sort of quality control. However, because LRR was first and foremost a sketch comedy troupe, it’s going to be entertaining. Best of all, because they actually play the game themselves, the way they speak and interact with the game is completely natural and not something that you’d get from any mainstream video content producer or marketing company.

It’s a bit too late for me now to attend the Rivals prerelease because it’s happening this weekend. However, with the return to the game’s initial starting plane Dominaria this April, I may decide to dust off my card sleeves and see if I can actually win a round this time.

After all, practice does make perfect.

Trisha’s Take: Marvel’s Luke Cage

(c) Marvel Television/Netflix
(c) Marvel Television/Netflix

Created by Cheo Hodari Coker
Directed by Paul McGuigan (Eps. 1 & 2), Guillermo Navarro (Ep. 3)
Written by Cheo Hodari Coker (Eps. 1 & 2), Matt Owens (Ep. 3)
Starring Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard
Also Starring and/or Featuring Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley, Jade Wu, Frankie Faison

If there’s something I know about myself it’s that if I am really hooked into a show, I am not going to let anything silly like self-imposed deadlines and restraints keep me from watching as much or as little of it as I like. This explains why I watched all of the excellent and riveting first season of Jessica Jones series almost straight through and then took forever to finish the second season of Daredevil, finally throwing in the towel 26 minutes into the last episode because the story and all the characters annoyed me so much.

My friend Kara Dennison likes to give everything she watches three episodes to capture her eye. I decided to do the same with the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s Luke Cage; judging from my reaction to the last bit of “Who’s Going to Take the Weight?”, I think I’m going to have to plow right through the rest of the episodes today and tomorrow. Note: Oh yes, there will be spoilers for these first three episodes.

Introduced as private investigator Jessica Jones’ stalkee-fixation, then revealed to be a nigh-invulnerable powerhouse of his own as well as a tragic figure, creator Cheo Hodari Coker has moved Luke Cage from midtown Manhattan to black (and gentrifying) Harlem, and populated it with a host of characters who rarely get screen time in such a mainstream production. I lived in Harlem for about six months back when I was an assistant to a luxury real estate broker and seeing its streets and its people engendered both a feeling of nostalgia as well as a feeling that I had never really been part of Harlem.

But Hodari Coker (who also co-wrote the 2009 biopic Notorious about the life and death of rapper Notorious B.I.G.) is familiar with these streets, these people, its struggles, and its dichotomies. This is most evident in the writing of cousins Councilwoman Mariah Dillard and nightclub owner/gangster Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, played by Alfre Woodard and Mahershala Ali respectively. The former is a person who believes that Harlem can begin a new Renaissance and return to its glory, the latter is one who believes that Harlem should retain its status quo where people like him run the show. And yet, both of them are tied to each other, connected by both family and a money laundering scheme because they know and recognize that both of their goals are nigh-impossible to achieve without a little cheating of the system.

In these first three episodes, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) stands outside of that system. After his destructive rampage in the latter episodes of Jones, he’s become a fugitive, working under the table as a dishwasher at Cottonmouth’s club and in a barbershop run by a former hoodlum named Pop who claims that his barbershop is “Switzerland” for the feuding gang and street elements of Harlem. Of course, one can’t make a claim like that in a hero’s journey story and so Pop gets gunned down by accident in Episode 2, prompting Cage to re-enter the world and to embody perhaps a third point of view when it comes to Harlem’s destiny.

I find that I like all of these characters and I want to find out more about how they will fit into the new landscape which Luke Cage is creating for the MCU Harlem. I like how Detective Misty Knight (Simone Messick) has a Sherlock-ian kind of “mind palace” where she can visualize how a crime scene actually happened just by having been there and viewing the photographs. I like how Cage’s Chinese landlord Connie (Jade Wu) speaks almost perfect English because her husband’s family (and she) have been Harlem residents for years and are also part of its community. This wouldn’t be the case if the wrong actors had been cast, and everyone in this series (so far) seems to be perfect for their parts.

This is a story that I’m really excited to continue watching despite some rather stupid blunders in the second episode (secrets shouldn’t be shouted about in the middle of your shop in the daytime, Pop!). I hope that I don’t get disappointed.

You Had to be There: CONvergence 2016 – Day 1

As a geek, fewer things make my heart sing more than going to a convention. Ever since my very first San Diego Comic Con back in 1996 where we got up at the crack of dawn to drive down from Orange County to San Diego just to be there for one day, I’ve always loved the feeling I get from being around my fellow geeks and nerds, talking about and enjoying a thing we all love together. I’ve covered them for amateur publications, been paid staff for some of the Wizard World conventions, worked my way towards being a senior staff member at a convention, and just plain been an attendee at a convention. I’ve seen them from all sides, and the charged up feeling of preparing for my very first day at this year’s science fiction/fantasy convention known as CONvergence here in Bloomington, Minn. is no different.

6:42 am: The first year I attended, I worked as a volunteer on the Bridge, which is the center of Operations. It didn’t take very long for me to learn the knack of their incident logging report system and my years of customer service experience helped me become pretty adept. This year, I’ve decided to work on the Bridge again, taking a four-hour shift starting at 8 am for the first three days. I’m not staying at any of the area hotels this year, but since my husband now knows how to drive a car, this means that we can attend the con independently of each other and meet up whenever we know we have panel interests that collide. I’m also getting over a cold, so I’ll be packing a lot of cough drops and refusing to shake peoples’ hands all weekend long.

I’m also going to be a panelist for two panels and moderating three more. But more on those when I come to them in my liveblog. It’s now time for me to finish up this part of my post so that I can continue getting read to drive on over and hopefully find parking.

3:45 pm: Wow, this is the first chance I’ve been able to sit down and do some proper blogging since I got here. My Bridge shift was mostly uneventful, except for the part where I took down a report related to an Emergency. I will forever bless the fact that I am a fairly quick typist, even if I’m not used to full-sized keyboards anymore. I only briefly annoyed Dispatch, which is also a good thing and I will now endeavor to remember to close my Events when they’ve been handled appropriately.

The Geeky Destinations panel at 12:30 pm was fairly cool. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I did come away with was a huge list of places that are cool to visit and are connected to geeky franchises and properties. There was a lot of time spent on North America and the UK, which meant that almost everywhere else got some very short shrift. One thing that I found odd about the panel is that it felt like it was heavily weighted towards the more extroverted speakers and the panelist in the middle didn’t say a lot. One of the panelists mentioned that he was very interested in going to Japan, so after the panel was over, I told him about the Japan travel blogs that Graham Stark and Kathleen De Vere are posting on the Loading Ready Run channel; not only was he already familiar with LRR through their Magic content, but he was surprised that they were doing the travelogues.

My husband brought me a burger and tater tots from Sonic, but I didn’t even have a chance to eat them because I got to my panel room early. The first panel I’m moderating for this convention was “Kids These Days,” and I think it went very, very well. Of all the panels I’m on this year, this was the one where we had the most to say in our private email thread before the panel, and I was able to use all that information in crafting our topics of discussion and figuring out what questions to ask and how to steer the conversation. We even were able to touch on a huge topic that got contentious regarding how some folks have felt that “fandom has gone too far” and I was able to give that topic the amount of space that I knew the other panelists wanted to have for it. We went a little bit over time, but I don’t think it was too bad.

10:12 pm: So much has happened since I last sat down to blog! The first thing I did was to stop back off at the Bridge to get my Volunteer card signed so that I could get credited for all the time I spent in the morning, then to the Programming room to get my one panel hour credit as well. If all goes well and I continue to be at all of my shifts and all of my panels, I will have accrued at least 17 volunteer hours by the end of the convention. It’s not the most amount of time I’ve volunteered at a convention, but it’s definitely more than I’ve done in recent memory. It feels good to help out a geek-themed event again.

After that, I dipped into a panel on crowdfunding which I found very helpful and useful. My only experiences thus far on the production end of a Kickstarter was when I helped produce backer rewards for the first “new” Smut Peddler graphic novel (in which I also contributed a story). The panelists (whose names I didn’t immediately get because I was late to the panel) had a lot of great words of wisdom and between them had successfully (and unsuccessfully) used platforms like Kickstarter, Patreon, IndieGogo and more to fund their creative endeavors. The most important piece of advice I think I learned is that specific platforms are designed for very specific types of things, but the most important question you’ve got to ask yourself is: Do I have an audience for this at all? After the panel, I went up to speak to panelist and author Chrysoula Tzavelas about my plans to create a book of my own work first and then use the funds I get from that to help launch my publishing imprint, and she sounded very encouraging. I’m going to talk at her so much after this convention is over.

After that panel was over, I found my husband standing near a gentleman who looked familiar and it turned out that it was one of my co-panelists from last year, at the “Surviving Minnesota Nice” panel. The reason why my husband recognized him was that he was one of his mother’s students when she taught instrument at Carleton College. We caught up briefly, and then we started to have a wide-ranging conversation about mashup and pastiche culture and how (to him at least) there didn’t seem to be anything new to be super-excited about. We got a lot of nuggets of conversation out of that, and in the end I think we all agreed that whether or not someone could find something new and interesting depended on a lot of things, the least of them including whether or not the person had the time to go out and seek new things. Also, not having the inclination and not being open to new things is actually two very different things. While my husband went off to attend a panel, I waited in line for the Opening Ceremonies seating and started up a conversation with my co-panelist’s friends about how hard it is as a non-Minnesotan to deal with “Minnesota Nice” in your everyday life. Before we knew it, it was time to find our seats for the show.

The Opening Ceremony at CONvergence is definitely a hit-and-miss type of show. The “miss” part comes from me being a newer attendee to this convention and even after three years, I still haven’t cottoned on to all the convention’s memes and in-jokes. There were also the regular bits of technical difficulties that can screw up a show, like accidentally showing the same pre-recorded bit twice with “friend of the show” Robert Cargill as a “Wacky Races”-style announcer. The parts which were a hit with me and the audience was the Cabin in the Woods parody for the opening skit, the pre-show announcements, and most of Paul Cornell’s emcee bit, which included a lot of Brexit jokes. I really have no idea how a British sci-fi and comics author became so beloved at a Minneapolis convention, but I’m sure there’s a pretty good story in that. As an additional bit of excellence, there was closed captioning showing on the video screens, which I think is a new thing for them this year.

Shortly after was the Fancy Bastard Pie Competition, which was Fan Guest of Honor Greg Weisman’s idea and basically an excuse for him to sample all sorts of wonderful, homemade pies and share the rest with the audience. The winner of the competition was a woman who had baked a berry-something pie and her prize was for her to get to ask him about a spoiler for any series in which he’s had a hand in creating, but if she ever told anyone else what the spoiler was, he’d not do the competition anymore. After he finished telling her the spoiler far away from where the pie was being dished out, I got a chance to speak to him about the panel I’ll be moderating tomorrow (“Why Diversity Needs to be Deeper Than Marketing,” 8:30 pm in Doubletree Edina, be there!). But what I really wanted to talk to him about was how he agreed to be the “test pilot” for the new program this year where the funds to pay for his attendance at the convention were crowdfunded by the convention attendees. Weisman stated several times that if almost any other convention had asked him to be a part of this test program, he probably would have turned them down. For him, a lot of it had to do with the fact that he has attended CONvergence before and he knows what to expect of both the fans and the con staff and how they will treat him. To further emphasize this point, he stated that because he knows he will be well-cared for at CONvergence, it is also one of the few conventions where he will not ask for a per diem. He also doesn’t know if a program like this would work at any other convention, largely due to the this very specific convention space and the crowd it tends to attract. Based on the enthusiastic crowd response during his bit at Opening Ceremony, I think I’m definitely more excited to see whom they’ll attempt this with next.

Anyhow, unless something truly amazing happens at the live music circle that’s going to start in about a half an hour, I think I’m going to close this live-blog for today. See y’all on Day 2!

You Had to Be There: Gran Prix Minneapolis 2016 Day Two

It’s been said that being at a Magic the Gathering Grand Prix is very much like attending an anime or comic book convention, and I find that Day Two of this event is not different. After having sold some of my extra cards for $15 and signing up for another “small” draft, walking around the play area, I saw many of the same faces I’d seen yesterday. There’s a comforting familiarity in seeing people you recognize at such a big event like this, even if it’s only someone you saw in passing or someone you saw while sitting on the #GPMinn Twitter hashtag.

The players are gathering at their tables. The Super Sunday registration has closed. The pager which will call me to a draft table is waiting for a signal.

Welcome to Day Two of GP Minneapolis.

11:15 am: I drafted a red-black Zombie Vampires deck, but only the Vampires really wanted to come out to play. I ran only 14 creatures because I really wanted to keep things tight (and that’s all I could find in the draft), but instead of filling the rest with spells, I probably should have just put more land in because I don’t think I ever got beyond 5 mana once. I even had to mulligan down to 4 in G1 and though the second game felt a little better and a more even match, I ended up losing that one, too. At least I was able to hate-draft a Westphale Abbey.

12:06 pm: Round 12 resulted in a loss for Meghan Wolff (8-3-1) from Magic the Amateuring, and I was able to get a little bit of time before her next round for a brief interview; hopefully, I’ll be able to edit it soon and get it up on the website. Our conversation focused a lot on her role as a recently elevated ambassador to the game after their invitation to the 2015 Community Cup where she gave a fantastic speech defending their Avarice Amulet Ironroot Chef brew which charmed not only the live Twitch audience, but the flavor judges as well. Her main takeaways for anyone who also wants to contribute to the community is to find an angle or niche which you feel is underrepresented and to find a co-host (or more) with whom you have a lot of chemistry but also who will help creating content be less of a chore for you. Another thing she mentioned is that being a competitor on Day 2 is manifesting a little bit of Impostor Syndrome; however, judging from the reaction of a mother and her two girls who had also come up to say hello before the next round, Wolff is definitely the real deal.

1:39 pm: South Dakota player Brooke Schieffer had just turned around to see that time for Round 13 was drawing to a close, so she did the only thing that she could do at that point: she played her Great Aurora. This move effectively reset the game and put herself onto a huge mana advantage with 21 cards to draw to her opponent’s 17. In the interview I had with her (which will hopefully go up later), Schieffer said that she had always wanted to build a deck around the card, and after Tireless Tracker and some other cards came out in later sets, she realized she could find a way to make a RG Ramping Humans deck work. She runs Chandra, Nissa, and the new Arlinn Kord in her deck and during the round, I saw all three come out to play. A casual player since Shadowmoor, Schieffer only started getting serious with Standard decks, but stressed that she is not a fan of net-decking–and with her now 9-3-1 record, that strategy seems to be working pretty well for her today.

2:34 pm: Ben Wood, whom I met yesterday, is 4-1 for today, 11-3 overall and playing a 4-color Rites deck. Though he doesn’t play the card a lot, he managed to bring out Ulamog to exile a bunch of his opponents’ cards.

After picking up a “Good Luck, High Five!” bracelet from Wolff and Maria Bartholdi (who was sadly defeated by her co-host during Round 14), I realized that my Day Two was slowly coming to an end because I have to leave in a bit to drive a friend back to the airport. As I sit in the middle of a hall where the number of attendees playing in the Main Event is decreasing, I can’t help but think of the amazing people I’ve met today and yesterday. No doubt, there are also a few non-great people here whose saltiness I’ve either overheard or read on Twitter. But for the most part, everyone at this Gran Prix has been nice, friendly, sporting, and welcoming.

I know I’m a casual player, and until something in my financial situation changes, I’m likely to stay a casual player. But I’m glad to know that should I ever decide to get more serious as a player, there’s a great community waiting for me.

You Had to Be There: Grand Prix Minneapolis 2016 Day One

Shortly after sitting down outside the convention center to set up this blog entry, I turned around to see a friend whom I had first met at my very first Friday Night Magic event way back during the end of the Return to Ravnica block. He gave me a huge hug, and then proceeded to tell me about the bad beatdown he’d been given last night by Reid Duke.

To the left of me, a former Austrailian was sleeving up a Commander deck which he’d just bought. Like me, this was also his first Gran Prix (GP). After a wide-ranging conversation which included talking about dangerous creatures from Australia and the voting procedures of the Democratic Farm Labor party, the three of us aren’t in the event decided to sign up for a draft, and my friend headed off to play his Round 3 (he’s 2-0 right now).

Welcome to Magic the Gathering.

12:07 pm: We were told that we were the last people to fill in the next “small” draft to fire, so we immediately headed over to the Gathering Point. But even then, there was still a lot of waiting going on. I have a lot of empathy right now for the two organizers who are trying to call out people who have signed up for their draft and who are competing with the person on the PA. Hugo, a person in my draft pod, has been waiting for 1.5 hours for this draft to fire.

2:02 pm: Well, that certainly was a thing. The first pack of the draft didn’t show me anything fun so I defaulted to white flyers because I like flying creatures and I started with green humans. Turns out that my opponent who was seated four seats away with me also was playing green/white and it feels like he picked up all the better cards. I’m going to see if I can have my friend Michael Simon (who recently made the Top 8 at GP Albuquerque) take a look at what I drafted here and tell me whether or not I was insane or just addled in the head when I drafted this deck.

G1 had my opponent stuck on land while I played out my creatures and just whittled him down. Lost the second two games in a row, but I’m choosing not to count the second game loss as entirely my fault because I had to mulligan to 5 and poorly chose to keep a hand that had only 1 creature in it just so I wouldn’t have to mulligan to 4. The middle game was pretty good, with both of us developing our boards well, but in the end he was just able to do more with his creatures.

Gonna lick my wounds, perhaps get a bite to eat, see how folks are doing, and maybe jump into one of the more expensive drafts.

3:09 pm: Just off to the side of the hall is the feature match area. Round 5 saw well-known professional players Yuuya Watanabe (18th) and Owen Turtenwald (2nd) facing off against Andrew Wagener and Greg Orange, respectively. It felt a little strange to stand around next to the tables at watch the games play without any context and/or explanation of what was going on. Orange and Turtenwald finished first, with Orange taking the round, 2-1. I managed to get a little interview with him which I may upload later on tonight. While writing this entry at the tables outside, I also met a gentleman named Kelly Hoesing, who is 5-0 heading into Round 6 and just beat two-time World Champion player Shahar Shenhar with his Bant Humans deck. Quoth Hoesing: “[I] ran him over with little dudes because he couldn’t get a Languish.” The amazing thing about Hoesing is after his last day of school as a high school teacher, he hopped into his car and drove all the way from Nebraska to be here by 8 am to play.

4:38 pm: Early in Round 6, I happened upon a producer and her videographer who are doing a story on Top 8 pro player and renown deck builder Sam Black (8th). Her name is Michaela Vatcheva and as her videographer was getting B-roll of his match against Ava Adams (whom I think is the female player who currently has the best record), Michaela told me that after meeting Black through a mutual friend, she realized that his would be a great story to tell and pitched it to the folks at Wisconsin Public Television, where she works. That was six months ago, and she said that she started to learn how to play just so that she could not only tell the story well, but tell it accurately. I pointed out Melissa DeTora (who is here doing the text coverage for Wizards) as being someone she should speak to if she needed to speak to another pro about Black’s prowess as a player and I also told her about Tifa Robles and the Lady Planeswalkers Society. Michaela said that she would probably have her piece edited in a few weeks, and you bet I’m going to try and find it online when it’s done.

6:19 pm: Two of the players I began the event following have both dropped. Ian Dixon is someone I first met in the original Desert Bus For Hope chat room, back when the chat was in IRC and not on Twitch. He’s one of the people who is instrumental in ensuring that the chat room was free of trolls and other terrible people and when the Loading Ready Run crew began streaming more often, he became a moderator in their chat room, along with many others. Ian’s also a good player in his own right, but today the cards were not with him and his loss in Round 5 put him on a huge tilt.

My friend Michael Simon‘s GP ended one round later, and he was kind enough to go over the GW Flying Humans/Druids deck I played at the top of my day while we were waiting for round results. I was gratified when he reassured me that my instincts were okay and I had drafted the deck very “reasonably.” He said that I didn’t pick any blanks and that along with my main deck cards, I even was able to pick up some good sideboard cards. Of course, I didn’t even remember about my sideboard while playing my deck. Something to remember for tomorrow!

8:20 pm: With time called, Round 9 and Day 1 of GP Minneapolis is in the history books. My last walkabout for the day included run-ins with Erin Campbell and Kriz from The Girlfriend Bracket where we talked about the importance of creating podcasts for both Spikes and Johnnies, congratulating both Meghan and Maria from Magic the Amateuring for making their first Day 2s and grabbing a picture with them, and running into Suzy, a player from my old stomping grounds of New York City who was just killing it on text coverage play-by-plays of top players and other folks. (In other words, she was out-Tweeting me, and I am just fine with that.) As we were walking over to her group of folks, a tall familiar-looking gentleman greeted her, and she introduced me to him. I tried to play it cool, but as they walked away, I immediately had to berate myself for babbling like an idiot in front of Jon Finkel, “the Nicest Man in Magic.”

Thus endeth my Day 1 here at GP Minneapolis. What will be in store for me tomorrow?

You Had to Be There: “Welcome to Night Vale – Ghost Stories” (spoiler-free!)

Night Vale Presents: “Welcome to Night Vale – Ghost Stories”
WTNV Ghost Stories
Review DotReview DotReview DotReview DotReview Dot

Performance Date: April 16, 2016
Location: State Theater in Minneapolis, MN
Created By: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Starring: Cecil Baldwin and Meg Bashwinner
Music: Disparition
Guest Starring: Symphony Sanders and Molly Quinn
Musical Guest Starring: Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin

Coming as late as I did to the “Welcome to Night Vale” party train, a solid year or so of binge-listening has made me a fervent fan. Described by many as “The Prairie Home Companion” crossed with “The Twilight Zone,” the twice-monthly podcast added a live show element a year after its debut. I had never had the chance to see one of the live shows before, but even without that extra preparation I was super-excited to see the show last night at the State Theater in Minneapolis, Minn.

This doesn’t mean that someone who has never heard any episode of “Welcome to Night Vale” before won’t enjoy the live show. Writers Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor’s script for the “Ghost Stories” tour is light on the in-jokes while still being true to the characters who appear. But first, let’s talk about “the weather.”

Opening the show and playing a musical interlude right at the climax of the show, Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriters Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin played three or four songs which showcased their talents very well. Of the duo, I was more impressed with Elkin’s voice than with Schmidt’s; however, the two complemented each other greatly as they took turns leading their songs. Schmidt’s “Standard Deviation” earned the most enthusiastic crowd response, but because I had difficulty hearing the lyrics, the cleverness of the song was lost on me. They were selling a small EP of the songs they played for the tour which cost $5 with the purchase of one of their CDs, free if you bought more than one. I chose Elkin’s Call it My Garden CD and was surprised and pleased to learn that it was produced by Red House Records from St. Paul, Minn. Schmidt’s work has been featured on “Night Vale” before (in the eighth episode called “The Lights in Radon Canyon”), and I thought the duo’s acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals really helped prime the audience for the mood of the show.

The premise of the episode for this tour is that the Night Vale City Council is holding a regular contest where every citizen tells a ghost story and the winner gets to be turned into a ghost. We got to hear ghost stories from teen anarchist and bibliophile Tamika Flynn (Symphony Sanders), a sentient patch of haze named Deb (Meg Bashwinner, whose Minnesota-tinged accent was just perfect in this audience, donchaknow?) and a computer programmer named Melony Pennington (Molly Quinn). Of the guest appearances, I loved Quinn’s performance the most because she filled her character with the right combination of cynicism and pragmatism which I’ve come to find is a hallmark of every person who works extensively with computers. Each of the little stories pulled you in and then pulled you back out again with the characteristic “Night Vale”-ish twist that even a casual listener of the show can understand.

It was radio host Cecil Palmer’s ghost story offering which drove most of the show, though. Told brilliantly by actor Cecil Baldwin, it was frequently interrupted by the other segments of the show right at climactic moments in the way that all the best radio shows used to do. There’s a quality to Baldwin’s voice which makes it hard not to listen to him and be drawn into everything that he’s saying. And as for the Night Vale-ish twist…? Well, suffice to say that it not only deepened the Cecil character more but it also transcended the story to become a universal truth for everyone who has ever encountered a ghost in their past or present.

The other regular parts of the show such as the “Community Calendar” section or the horoscopes were fine and garnered the right amounts of laughter and whooping (especially when audience members responded to Palmer calling out their horoscope sign), but in contrast to the main story and especially after the ending they seem unimportant. Half a day after show, I distinctly remember what Palmer’s voice sounded like when he got to the denouement of his ghost story more than when he announced what was in store for all the Virgos like me.

All in all, I’m very glad that I got to see this production and I hope that as the tour makes its way along the East Coast, to the West Coast and through Europe you get a chance to see it too.

13 Days of Daredevil: “New York’s Finest” (spoilers!)

Please tell me I'm not the only one who was glad to see her again. © Marvel Studios/Netflix
Please tell me I’m not the only one who was glad to see her again. © Marvel Studios/Netflix

After a bit of a real life invasion and the fourth episode of “Jessica Jones” as an appetizer, I’m ready to settle in for my next episode of “Daredevil,” and judging from the preview image of Punisher chatting with a bound Daredevil alone, I hope I’m in for a real treat.

  • As a further bit of an appetizer, the thought that Marvel Studios is co-opting the “superhero team-up” name which is normally reserved for times when Batman meets Superman (and some of these are also available on Netflix) fills me with a bit of glee. I can only hope that this is as well scripted as the DCU animated adventures were.
  • Interesting insight as to what Daredevil dreams about and his super-hearing is on the fritz, where someone pouring water out of a thermos is likened to nuns wringing out a towel.
  • Also, yay for Claire! Dare I hope for a Claire/Foggy team-up?
  • Also, yay for Matt using his brain and not his fists!
  • What’s this new thing that Claire helped with? I’m assuming it’s something in a Jessica Jones episode, but I’m afraid to spoil myself and check. <checks anyway> Okay, nine episodes until I get to see her in JJ. I can wait.
  • You’d think I’d have more to say about Daredevil and Frank’s conversation, but I’m feeling very underwhelmed by it.
  • Daaaaang. That nameless poor D.A. is good. But nameless. Blake Tower (and your actor, Stephen Rider) you deserve better than that. (And I think I inadvertently spoiled myself on your story arc, too.)
  • I kinda want a Foggy spin-off now where he gets to be all awesome and lay the verbal smackdowns. But I think that this spin-off would only be for people like me who enjoy it when lawyers kick verbal ass.
  • Also, Karen? One moment of horror, and then she gets to work? Yeah, all the non-powered folks are really hitting my competency porn buttons.
  • Okay, so this hallway/stairwell fight is hitting my competency porn buttons, too.

Big talking heads scenes aside, I really don’t think that a lot changed for Matt in this episode. It doesn’t feel like he’s any closer to clarifying his stances as a hero and/or how that’s going to define his life and his friendships. Also, whatever inheritance he got from his father isn’t going to last forever, so he does need to get back to being an attorney and rustle up some real paying clients.

Sometimes I feel like there are two shows in this one, the superhero beat-em up that one half of my brain likes and the really intelligent law procedural that I enjoy as well. Let’s hope that my entire brain will be happy once I’m done watching this series.

13 Days of Daredevil: “Dogs to a Gunfight” (spoilers!)

If anything had happened to this dog, the Internet would have fallen on their heads. © Marvel Studios/Netflix
If anything bad had happened to this dog, the Internet would have fallen on their heads. © Marvel Studios/Netflix

I know I skipped a day yesterday, but after the long day at the office, the last thing I wanted to do was to turn on a computer so that I could blog about a Netflix show. Perhaps this could be the only downside to not binge-watching a series, but hey! some of us nerds and geeks have day jobs now…

  • Of course, they’re not going to kill off the main character in first episode of a new season. But damn if this pre-credits scene where Foggy finds Matt trembling and injured on a rooftop makes you feel as if he’s really not going to make it.
  • “…and trust me to do mine, okay!” Yes, Foggy. I trust you implicitly. Too bad your buddy doesn’t.
  • For her first appearance as a no-nonsense D.A., Michelle Hurd is doing a very good job. Really, Foggy is the unsung hero of this show, and I’m glad we’re getting to see more of that this season. Oh, and I get to see this character again in “Jessica Jones”? Awesome. And of course, she’s got a Law & Order credit. What actor in New York City doesn’t, these days?
  • Yeah, that pawn shop dude really doesn’t know how to read a customer, does he?
  • Aw, dangit, I guess I can understand that being shot at would make Karen revert into her behavior after she killed Wesley. And in a similar way, it also makes sense that she’s a bit hyperfocused on the fact that he could be coming for her, because that’s pretty true to her character.
  • I also wonder what Karen thinks Matt’s problem is, like if maybe she thinks he’s an alcoholic or something like that. That would be another nice bit of irony.
  • More nitpicking: If it’s been a whole day since the Irish were gunned down, wouldn’t the blood on the teeth embedded in the bar have dried by now?
  • Even more nitpicking: Why wouldn’t the SWAT team have also scouted out the really high sniper perches? Best way to take out a guy whom you know is a) tactically aware and b) mostly known to be ground-based.

This is perhaps the first time I’m kicking myself in the shins for not watching these all at once because that preview image of Punisher and Daredevil getting a chance to talk to each other is great. Can’t wait to see how they pull it off.