Ach, My Lungs

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in the morning. This will be the first time I’ve seen a doctor since I was laid off from Wizards in 2002 and lost my health care. I have joked with people that I am on the “don’t get sick” health plan. I’ve had my share of colds and whatnot over the past few years, but I’ve always just toughed them out and let my white blood cells take care of things. Well, after 11 days of post-GTS illness I’ve had to admit that I’m not getting better. Some symptons have gotten worse in fact, as I now have a vicious cough and a lovely rattling in my lungs. That makes for some excellent sleep let me tell you. I’ve been trying to continue to work, but my productivity has plummeted. So it’s off the doctor for me, where I can spend more money I don’t have. Ah, yes, the joys of working in the game industry.

Of Thor and the Circle of Infection

There’s a Norse myth I’m rather fond of in which Thor and Loki visit with a giant king and are challenged to a series of tests. Thor boasts that he can drink more than anyone, so he is given a big drinking horn and quaffs a staggering amount. When he lowers the horn, he is amazed to see that level of the liquid has barely dropped. Naturally, the giant king is playing with Thor and Loki and all the tests are bogus. The drinking horn is filled with the Atlantic Ocean, so no matter how much Thor drank there was always more. His mighty effort did cause the phenomena of tides, however.

Today I know just how Thor felt. I was up at eight and I’ve put in a 12-hour day. I got a ton of stuff done, some of which had been hanging out there for weeks. Despite that, I feel like my drinking horn is still brimming. It does not help that I still have that damn sickness I picked in Vegas. Nicole has it too and she’s cursing my name. I think we may have created a circle of infection. That’s like the opposite of the circle of life. I felt better two days ago than I do today and in that time Nik has gotten worse. I am beginning to wonder if she re-infected me as I was getting better, starting the whole cycle again. Where’s the Goddess of Mercy when you need her?

Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers

So they’ve discovered a bunker of sorts inside the Brooklyn Bridge that sat untouched for over 40 years. It was a cache of supplies to feed survivors in NYC in case of a nuclear attack. A major feature of this and other such hoards: Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers. This site had 352,000 of the “calorie-packed” snacks. I guess I never envisioned myself haunting the ruins of post-apocalyptic New York with survival crackers. Talking apes, maybe, but survival crackers, no. Iron rations for the Cold War generation I suppose. You can find the NY Times article on the hoard here:;=slogin&oref;=slogin

It’s an interesting read. I’d like to see more pictures though.

True Dat

I ran across a great quote from comic publisher Scott Rosenberg (Malibu Comics, Platinum Studios) that applies equally to game publishers:

“People starting a business who figure it’ll cost 10 percent more than they thought are so wrong. It will cost exponentially more, be exponentially more work, and take exponentially longer. You need to look at the worst cases and be willing to deal.”

Double true!

Con Crud and Punk Rock

I got back from GAMA Trade Show a couple of days ago and naturally I’ve been sick ever since. Usually it’s Nicole who gets the “con crud” but since she didn’t come to this show I guess it was my turn. Although I was not feeling too great, I went out to see Anti-Flag on Friday night with Nik and Rick. We already had the tickets so I sucked it up. Anti-Flag was good but most of the opening acts blew. I find it hard to believe the Casualties are still around and they continue to suck. I wish they’d stop opening for bands I want to see.

GTS was very good overall. I expected more doom and gloom but the atmesphere actually seemed positive. There were a lot less RPG companies than there used to be. I suppose that’s not too surprising, but it really was a marked departure from GTS 3-4 years ago. Hal, Rob, and I pimped the hell out of True20, M&M;, and Thieves’ World, and answered a bunch of questions about the 40K RPG after that was announced. Retailers seem happy with our games, which is always good to hear.

Sadly, I did not get much of a chance to walk the floor. When not working the booth, I was in meetings scheduled and impromptu. Or spending an hour in the micky fricky business center waiting for the incompetent staff to find a package for me (they eventually let me go in the back room to look for it myself and I found it in less than three minutes). It was also a light year for swag. My house is too full of stuff already and I find I want to bring home less and less from cons. I was content with the new edition of Warhammer Ancient Battles, Human Head’s Villainy card game, a bit of the City of Heroes CCG, and a cool looking new book by Brom called Plucker.

It wasn’t all business though. Monday night John Kovalic and I had our Flames of War game and that was good fun. John and I have been friends for going on a decade and we had never played a game together before. This is true of many of my industry friends, since we often only see each at busy consumer shows like GenCon and Origins. Wednesday night the GR crew and Kate and George from GW went out to Samba in the Mirage to celebrate the one year anniversary of WFRP2. Giant capirinhas and meat on swords were suitably festive and a good time was had by all. It was nice to squeeze a little bit of Vegas into the trip.

Viva Las Vegas

I’m leaving for GAMA Trade Show in glitzy Las Vegas early tomorrow morning and I’ll be gone all week. Don’t expect to hear anything from me, as I’ll be busy showing off GR’s wares and taking part in exciting announcements at the big show. The last several weeks have been all about the GTS prep and now hopefully it pays off. Just about everything did come together in the end, so we are ready. I wish the printer was able to get us a few advanced copies of True20 Adventure Roleplaying to show off, but that’s not a big deal. Getting our new superslick catalog done was far more important and that was done on time.

All this is fairly standard pre-show prep, but this year did have one new wrinkle. I’ve been painting up 15mm tanks in my free time and Nicole tackled a unit of pioneers, bless her. John Kovalic and I are going to play a game of Flames of War tomorrow and I’ve been trying to at least get the basics done on my panzer company. I think only one unit will appear in just a black undercoat (or as I call it, “night camoflage”). I rarely get to play games at GTS, so this ought to be fun.

So Viva Las Vegas! See ya’ll next week.

Adventures on the Clash-Pogues Continuum

There I was in the middle of the crowd at the Flogging Molly show Tuesday night. Everyone was having a great time, including the band, and you could feel the floor vibrate as people jumped to the pounding beat and wailing pipes of Celto-Punk mayhem. And yes, I was in the moment–packed in amongst the excited young alterna-girls, sweaty skinheads, shirtless tattooed guys, and old punks–but I was thinking too. I had a notion, something I had been thinking about over the past year or so. That night, it crystalized. I finally knew what had been knocking around in my head for these many months.

The Clash-Pogues Continuum.

You’ve got two of the most influential bands of modern music, you see. On the one hand there’s the Clash, “the only band that matters”, one of the defining bands of the punk explosion. Then you’ve got the Pogues, who took that punk energy and slammed it together with Irish music to make something that was both and yet neither. Since then we’ve seen countless bands influenced by the Clash. It took the Pogues longer to have an impact but within the last 10 years Celto-Punk has turned into a genre in its own right and bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly have become hugely popular (in punk terms anyway).

I began thinking then that you could place bands on a Clash-Pogues Continuum. The closer a band was to the Clash, the more dominant the punk sound (Rancid are the most extreme example, being as close as you can get to the Clash without actually being the Clash). The closer the band was to the Pogues, the more dominant the Irish elements. I’m not sure if there’s a band that sits squarely in the middle. At the moment I’d map the continuum this way.

The Clash
Street Dogs
Dropkick Murphys
The Skels
Flogging Molly
The Pogues

You can also, of course, create other continuums. You might make a Clash-Specials Continuum, for example, for ska punk, with Operation Ivy featuring promimently. And the Ramones, with their lengthy career, probably get one of their own. You get the idea.

The Flogging Molly show was great, btw. Really good fun.

For Those About to Level Up…We Salute You!

Oddly enough, I found myself back at the Sci-Fi Museum tonight. Twice in one week; wacky. This evening there was a PR event for the Guild Wars MMO. I know several folks who work for ArenaNet, so I got an invite. It was in the same room as the Battlestar Galactica TCG event this past Saturday. This time the giant video screen was showing people play the game, which is pretty much what you’d expect at such a thing. What you wouldn’t expect was the all girl AC/DC tribute band rocking out on the stage underneath the screen. Yes, the incomparable Hell’s Belles were the entertainment for the evening and there was a hilarious incongruity between gamer nerds and rocker girls. It was hard not to laugh.

Hell’s Belles may be a novelty band but make no mistake, they can play. The dreadlocked girl “Angus” was in a schoolgirl uniform and she did all his moves: the headbanging, spinning on the ground, running through the crowd while playing, etc. It was a riot. The singer, while clearly having little idea what this event was even for, was also spot on. I was never a fan of AC/DC, but watching Hell’s Belles turn cock rock on its head was a damn good time. And hey, the booze was free too.

Rousing Myself to Write

I haven’t been in a blogging frame of mind lately. Not sure why. I’ll think that I should write about something, and then put it off until the next day. Ten days later I got nothing. Part of it likely has to do with GTS prep. I’ll be leaving in 8 days for Vegas to do that whole dog and pony show and there was a lot of stuff to sort out beforehand (including our new catalog; yay!). It should be a good show for us and it certainly couldn’t be worse than last year. And hey, it’s Vegas, so there’s that. This is Dr. Evil’s first GTS so we’re trying to make him feel welcome.

Yesterday I had a fun day off. I got up early and went down to the Sci-Fi Museum, where Wizkids was having a preview event for their Battlestar Galactica trading card game. I got a demo of the game and caught up with some ex-WotC staffers I hadn’t seen in awhile. After that I went to Bellevue to the Wizkids’ offices, where Jon Leitheusser had organized a six-player game of History of the World, a boardgame from the early 90s. We played the latter day Avalon Hill edition, which is beautifully put together and has hundreds of plastic playing pieces. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the time or opportunity to sit down for a big boardgame afternoon and History of the World did not disappoint. It’s a very good game, only slightly more complicated than Risk but so much more interesting to play. We played to conclusion in about four and a half hours and everyone had a good time. Definitely worth the trip.

Afterwards Rick and Sasha were nice enough to take me back to Seattle and drop me at Ray and Christine’s place. Nicole and Kate were already there and dinner was in progress when I arrived. Mitch and Robin had brought their brood so Kate had other kids to play with, which was nice. There was eating, drinking, and general merriment. When we got home, Nik and Kate fell asleep immediately. I stayed up, watching late night TV and sorting some of the Pirates ships I had traded for earlier that day. SNL was generally meh, but Natalie Portman’s gangsta rap was awesome. Mmmm, smart girls.

Today it’s back to work, and perhaps a bit of cleaning. Tonight I’ve got an interview scheduled for a gaming podcast. Getting me to blab for an hour about games should not be too challenging.