Potterville: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Still the best Harry Potter poster

“You’re a wizard, Harry.”

With those four words, Hagrid states the most resonant theme of the first Harry Potter film. Harry lives under the stairs, for crying out loud. Dust rains down on him whenever Dudley thunders up and down the steps. He’s made to do all of the household chores. He’s basically a slave. And then he hears those wonderful words from Hagrid, and suddenly he learns who he really is. All his life he’s been made to feel like he’s a burden, someone to be tolerated and kept down. But that single line from Hagrid opens up everything. All of the terrible things he’s heard simply aren’t true. He has value, and he is indeed special. Continue reading

How to Force Your Kids to Become Gamers

Is that Mastermind? I hate mastermind.

Fun for the whole family!

It’s a common misconception that when you have kids, you don’t have much time to play games. This is untrue: you don’t actually have time to do anything. Oh you may pretend that you still get to play games. You’ll buy them and promise to play them. You’ll participate in forum discussions. But you’re now the guy who goes to game night for an hour and a half, and then leaves early. But all is not lost! You’ve figured out a way to literally create gamers, and if your anything like me (i.e. a man) it was totally painless. So what better time to get started on those budding gamers than in their youth? Continue reading

The Rook – Book Review

book cover

The very first page of Daniel O’Malley’s debut novel, The Rook, grabbed me like few other books ever have. The main character, Myfanwy Thomas, finds herself in the rain surrounded by bodies. She doesn’t know how she got there, or even who she is. The only clue she has is a letter in her pocket from herself, before she lost her memories. The letter gives her specific instructions on where she needs to do next, and says that she can open the next letter when she is safe. All this in about a page and a half. It’s the sort of opening that dares you to not sit down and burn through the whole novel in one sitting. The Rook manages to deliver on its premise, creating a world that sucks you in and makes you want to read more books in the same setting.  Continue reading

Break It In

Yesterday the SD card in my phone went bad for whatever reason. I had to format it, which took care of the problem but means that I lost all of the pictures and music that were on my phone, not to mention the few apps that were on there. It’s not like these things can’t be replaced. (Except the pictures, but let’s just say my phone is perfect for a guy who takes terrible pictures anyway.) But I found myself putting it off for a while, because I didn’t want to have to “break in” my phone again. You know how a new pair of jeans or a ballcap needs to be worn a while to get good and comfy? Formatting my SD card was like washing that old canvas hat that was soaked in sweat stains. It’s all clean now, but I now have to spend the effort to get it just the way I like it. Continue reading

Potterville – Prologue: Letters in the Fireplace

Dumbledore's Army

Serious business, ya’ll.

The Harry Potter books are my “comfort” novels. When I feel like curling up with a book but I don’t want one that will require much of me, I read Harry Potter. I’ve read the entire series through at least four times, because I love returning to that world. If that makes me a preteen at heart, I’m comfortable with that. But I have a more complicated relationship with the movies. Continue reading

Defensive Posture

I’ve blogged on and off for about 10 years, first on a Xanga site in college, and now on WordPress. For many years I have considered writing a lengthy piece on why I enjoy the Star Wars prequels, since I seem to be the only one who hasn’t written them off entirely. I was actually mentally rehearsing everything I would write for this very evening, and then I felt myself deciding not to bother. Not that it won’t ever be written, (no topic is off the table, really) but I didn’t feel up to it tonight. Continue reading

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I spent this last week in Ohio on vacation. I had the best intentions to write while I was gone, I really did. I even brought my laptop and everything. But instead I used it entirely for watching The West Wing on Netflix and playing FTL, thereby shirking my duty to write rambling thoughts for all of you people to read for free. Continue reading

Tag, You’re on Fire – Wiz-War Re-Review

Red needs to get his treasures back.

Image by user kilroy_locke on Boardgamegeek.com

Sometimes reviewers have to write up what they know, and call it a day. There’s a kind of nebulous pressure to get a review out quickly, and usually that’s fine. If you play a game 3-4 times, you almost certainly know how you feel. There are times when it doesn’t even take that long. But now and then a game begins to grow legs after you pass judgement, and becomes this odd game that you gave an alright review to, but that you now love. Continue reading

When Did He First Say “Ugh, who drew that?”

Washington RedskinsSports fans might have been following some recent flap about the Washington Redskins, whose nickname is considered offensive by a lot of people. The front office of the team has actually issued a survey to fans as to whether the team should change the nickname, which they’ve had since the 1930’s. Owner Dan Snyder has gone on record saying that they will never change the nickname. There’s even been some threats of congressional action against the team. Continue reading

To-Do List

shopping list

Sowndz gud

Anyone who claims to have any authority on a subject needs to do  their homework. Would you trust a film critic who had never seen The Wizard of Oz or Casablanca? How about a rock columnist totally unfamiliar with The Who? Well, I’ve fashioned myself as something of an authority on board games (cue laugh track), but I must confess some gaps in my own knowledge of the hobby. So I thought about what games are among those that I feel I should have played by now and haven’t? Continue reading