Parenting Anticlimaxes


Those pants used to be Kansas State pants. Go Wildcats?

The second half of 2010 was the beginning of a tough stretch in life. I was having some challenges professionally, which would get worse before they got better, and while I was enjoying my new role as father the adjustment period felt like it was taking a long time. Suffice to say I was looking forward to the week off I had coming that Christmas. The holidays are always something of an oasis for me, but that year I had high hopes. The Big One was going to celebrate his first Christmas, and we were going to do it at my parent’s house in Saginaw. It felt almost Rockwellian to me, and I needed the rest besides that. Continue reading

It’s Okay to Get Excited

Just a reflektor

Just a reflector (just a reflector)

My day today has been dominated by one thing; the release of Arcade Fire’s new album, Reflektor. I became an Arcade Fire fan a year or two after the release of Neon Bible, and I went through a good six months of obsession with The Suburbs. Since the breakup of the White Stripes, they’ve probably been my favorite band. So I’ve been waiting for Reflektor for a good long time, even going so far as to preorder it so I could get a crack at tour tickets when the band hits the road next year. Continue reading

Temple Hopping – Relic Runners Review

Relic Runners cover

If only there was a whole kingdom of the crystal skulls!

Relic Runners is a game that dwells in the shadowy realm of the okay. It has absorbed too many lessons from modern game design to be anything close to bad. It’s a surprisingly thoughtful design, one that has gotten a little bit better with every play. Still, I’ve yet to play it with anyone who was wowed by it. The response when we finish a game is almost always “not bad,” or “alright.” It’s too competent to be ignored, but too bland to make much of an impression. Continue reading

First World Gamer

first world problems

Woe is me

Tomorrow night I’m going out to my local game store to meet up with some friends to play Archipelago. This is a game where each player is exploring and colonizing a chain of islands, which sounds like standard Eurogame fare until you realize that it’s going for theme instead of strategy. This will mark the second time I’ve played, after a learning game not quite a month ago where everyone lost (yes, that can happen). I also have review copies of Relic Runner and Duel of Ages II sitting around. Not only that, but I’ve participated in two math trades in 2013, and I still have a couple of unplayed games from the one in March, to say nothing of the one we held in August. And then there are all those games that I’ve only played once or twice, but that I want to play more because they interest me. And this isn’t an unusual thing for board gamers. We all have unplayed or underplayed games in our collections. Continue reading

My Magical Mystery Tour – Part Two

ganon magic card

As I’ve written previously, this summer some friends and I started a “Magic: The Gathering” league, where we each buy the same number of boosters on a monthly basis and add them to our pool of cards. We then meet on a regular basis to run the decks against each other, and we play a lot on the side as well. The league is now in its third month, and has actually started to grow and become a bigger deal than I anticipated. So far official league play has consisted of two meetups where everyone plays everyone else, a booster draft, and various meetups where we just play casually. What started as a four-player league has grown to six or seven depending on the night, and that’s with one guy needing to drop out because he moved away. Continue reading

World War Z Review

world war z poster

While I’m not opposed to digging zombie stuff in a kind of goofy cultural way, I don’t care for zombie movies very much. One reason for this is that I just don’t like my scary movies to be particularly gory, and that’s common with zombie movies. The viscera is often such a part of the genre that toning it down feels like a betrayal for some fans. But more than that, they just make me edgy and uncomfortable. I don’t think of myself as a squeamish person, but zombie movies bring out some very unpleasant feelings in me. It’s a kind of terror that I don’t like very much. Continue reading

Bring on the Creep

christmas creep

Get them out before the snow, I guess.

Ah, autumn. It makes me think of changing leaves, chili, football, and in Kansas City, eye-watering allergies. But now that we’re in the second half of October, it also means that were starting to see rumblings of the holiday season approaching. I say “holiday season” not as some kind of liberal War on Christmas©, but to actually reflect how the last three months of the year tend to run together. Continue reading

Keep Fishin’

Dope Nose video

Cheese smells so good on a burnt piece of lamb.

At some point in high school, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of Weezer’s first album, and I listened to it a lot. And by a lot, I mean constantly. It was in my headphones every bus ride, and I knew all the words by heart. Even today, if you held a gun to my head and made me pick my favorite album of all time, I would be hard-pressed to find one that I enjoy more than that simple blue CD. It’s such an intoxicating blend of poppy melodies and squealing guitars, and it sounds darn good when you crank up the volume. I didn’t come around to their second album Pinkerton until several years later, but it’s also a masterpiece for many of the same reasons, and for some totally different ones. Dark and transgressive, it plays a lot like the stereotypical misogynistic poster on Reddit who is obsessed with wondering why women don’t like him. Of course, since Rivers Cuomo is a rock star he could get women, and the interesting thing about Pinkerton is that it’s about that brooding nerd who keeps wondering why that doesn’t make him happy. It’s bizarrely specific to Cuomo, and though I’ll never like it as much as their debut, (how could I?) I’ve listened to it plenty of times. Continue reading

Games I’ll Never Design

Original Pandemic prototype

Designer Matt Leacock’s original map design for Pandemic

I hate playtesting games. A big part of this is because 90% of all designed games aren’t worth publishing in the first place, and I frankly don’t need to play someone else’s take on deck-building or worker placement. My gaming time is too precious to waste on polishing someone else’s game, especially if it’s not a very good one. Besides that, I just don’t have a lot of patience for the process of design and playtesting. I don’t know how other people can stay engaged with a design long enough to see it through to completion, so I have a lot of respect for people who do it well. Continue reading

Something In The Water

baby spitting up

Yeah, that’s about right.

About 70% of the conversations my wife starts begin with the phrase “Guess who’s having a baby?” The answer to this question is, apparently, everybody we’ve ever known who’s within ten years of our age. It’s a little strange because my wife and I are already two kids in, and the view on this side is very different than it was when we were expecting the first one. I would be surprised at this spate of pregnancies, but then I remember that everyone admires my wife and I and aspires to be like us. Continue reading