Thursday, September 30, 2010

DnD Chronicles: Coming Soon...

In a world where grown men pretend to be fantasy heroes that never existed there is a blog. Contained within this blog (every Friday weather permitting) will be the chronicles of some of these men and their imaginary heroes. Gather ye den around your monitor every Friday for the further adventures of these intrepid, non-existent heroes.

I'm going to try and chronicle the adventures of Brannan Brundle and his impending group of heroes and their heroic(?) adventures. Stay turned for the adventures of a thuggish, cheese loving rogue of a cleric and his buddies.

Gentlemen, start your funny dice!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PAX Quick Hit: Food Fail, now with 100% more Engrish!

I wanted to drop a quickie on ya, a PAX nooner if you will...and I hope you will....

I love the food scene in Seattle (Dick's crap burger aside) but there were a couple bad food moments I wanted to share, 1 funny one and one, not so much.

Whilst trolling for food the lovely Robin pointed out this sign:
Turtl- Toretl- Torrtl- Oh screw it!
How's this for a new culinary rule? If you can't spell the food you can't serve it.

It's a very simple rule that I think could have a profound effect. Say you want to serve a dish like tortellini but don't know how to spell it. Maybe, just maybe you look it up in a recipe book on on a how to cook database online that not only is tortellini spelled with two 'l's and two 'i's but you might also discover that tortellini is not lasagna! But Ray you might cry out, "Isn't that tortellini to the right of the lasagna placed under the misspelled tortellini sign?" No sir, that is what they are calling angel hair alfredo with parsley chicken, whatever the hell that is.

So, we are all agreed then, no selling me food you can't spell. In an unrelated note, the noodles I ended up getting two stalls over were delicious....and spelled accurately.

Monday, September 27, 2010

PAX Travelogue: Picture Perfect

Most of you know I rant constantly about the insanity of my weekly commute on twitter an FB (find me at geekgamerguy for both). I've decided to share my transit experience from Emeryville to Seattle and back in pictures with only captions and the pix telling the story. I apologize in advance for the weird formatting. eBlogger is shit for pic formatting.

Feel free to ask for more details in comments. So it begins....

I thought I packed light; I was wrong.
Every good trip begins with taking care
of the essentials.

The infamous EmeryGoRound.
Looks almost harmless from
a distance doesn't it...
And then its on you!

With my fistful of gold pieces I am ready
for whatever mass transit throws my way!
Muni madness. You can't tell but there's
actually 45,000 people/car. Or maybe it just
feels that way.

Hello Newman! My old nemesis the BART.
Boarding Pass acquired!
Now to storm the Virgin! (airlines)

Creepy twink billboard making me question
my sexuality. I wonder if people that shop at
Polo are called Polophiles? They should be. 
This lady snuck a whole pie on! And I watched
her and her hubby polish the whole thing off!

Every chair on Virgin Air has a personal
entertainment center. It's nearly

non-functional but at least its mine. 
Decisions, decisions...

Mmmmmm empty calories brought to me
without having to move my lazy ass.

The lovely Chelsea Handler in the corner of the menu.
Some day I'll marry that girl and our livers will live to a
ripe old age of 40 together.

Biplane at SeaTac. Recently retired by
Southwest Airlines.
Dunno what it is but I want one.

The Red Dragon! Robin's mighty steed!
The lovely Robin preparing to tame the dragon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DnD Interlude: My imaginary friend can beat up your imaginary friend!

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled PAX/Transit coverage for a Dungeons & Dragons Update!
Walks softly...
I know it's shocking to you that someone as hip and cool as myself would be a Dungeons&Dragons player but alas it's true. Right now I am in the most exciting phase of DnD for me and probably most players: Character Creation! Rather than tell you how awesome my character is turning out (just kidding, at the end I'll provides stats and details) I want to talk about why this part of the game is so fun and important.

Remember high school? Remember how it sucked and we were all losers that wanted to kick ass and take names but instead you struggle on whether you should ask out Andrea knowing damn well she's going to say no?

Dungeons and Dragons is the anti-high school experience and that's why I love it. It's a great escape from the boring, mundaneness of the real world while still being social and sharing a fun experience. A bunch of friends hanging out and building something with the power of our imagination and desire to overcome is something special and unique. I get the same kind of thrill after a big battle that I did after a baseball victory in high school. In DnD you can build a character that will succeed more often than fail (unless your Matthew and all your characters are textbook examples of min/max fails) and embody elements of yourself you wish you had. I can't jump from chandelier to chandelier whilst expertly wielding a +2 Rapier of Speed but I can look on those experiences as inspiration for my own health concerns.

There's also the thrill of narrative empowerment. How many time have you read a book and thought: "Man, the main character is an idiot. If I was in this story I would throw my little chinese sidekick at the heart yanking shaman and run with the magic rocks." When you're playing you can be that main character making the smart (or often dumb) decision. I tried to explain that to my dad when he asked why I wasted my time with that gaming stuff but realized he doesn't really read that much. Little did he know I'd parlay that wasting time into a thriving career in game design :-) So I put it in the context of movies and he understood the attraction to running the show. How many times has James Bond gone through an elaborate scheme to get the bad guy when all he had to do was blow up the zeppelin with the bad guy's name on it. Once I put it in that context he understood but doesn't go bragging about it to his friends.

What does narrative empowerment have to do with character creation you meandering jerk you might ask? Character creation lets you stack the deck in your favor when it comes to your character's interactions and personality. Want to be a suave and debonair rogue with a silver tongue? Take ranks in Bluff. Want to take control of hostile encounters and be Billy Badass? Take ranks  in Intimidate. Keeping your character motivations and situations you want to shine in in mind whilst creating the new you is vitally important!
Also there's shopping. Shopping for magic items, shopping for steeds, shopping for magic weapons. That $hit is just fun. Stayed tuned for character details and a video clip of me giving myself a wedgie while screaming: NEEEEERRRRRDDDDDDD!!!!!!!*

A good dozen or so of you e-mailed me on FB and direct mail pointing out that I neglected to post the stats for my new character as promised in the introductory paragraph of this blog entry. While I appreciate the enthusiasm for my creative endeavors I have to ask: if you care so much why don't you follow me on my blog! How am I gonna sell advertising to Google, Disney and Adam & Eve unless I have 14 digit followers!**
But I digress. By as popular demand as my blog can muster, here you go:

Name: Brannan Brundle 
2nd Lvl Rogue/7th Lvl Cleric
  • HP:62hp
  • Str:14
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 15
  • Int:10
  • Wis:10
  • Cha: 9
Brannan Brundle was born the dull witted, ill tempered son of an equally dull witted blacksmith father and an even more ill tempered mother in a frontier town on the eastern shore on the Great Kingdom. Brannan's father began training him in the smithing arts much to his dismay. Being shorter, but also stronger, than most kids Brannan grew up with a chip on his shoulder and had larger dreams than hammering out nails and horseshoes. During the day Brannan picked up the minimum amount of blacksmithing skills to keep his dad happy and mom from yelling at him but by night he took to lurking the alleyways and robbing the odd drunken patron using his brute strength and intimidating demeanor.

After a few years of clandestine thuggery he set his sights a little higher and decided to take out a small stage on his own little knowing that the stage would be meeting a contingent of guardsmen on their way to the next town. After a sound thrashing Brannan was left to die in a bloody heap as is proper for a thug of his stature.

He was discovered by a traveling group of monks from an order loyal to St.Cuthbert. Seeing the error of his ways Brannan devoted his life to the rough, no nonsense justice promoted by St. Cuthbert. For the next few years he traveled the world spreading the good word of St.Cuthbert via proselytizing or through the end of his enchanted warhammer. Fortunately, what he lacks in converting charisma he makes up for in perseverance and a strong hammer arm.

*Look for the guy that played Ogre in Revenge of the Nerds as a viking in those credit card commercials.
** I know 14 digit followers would be double digit billions and not possible with the current population of the Earth. I give China and India about 2 generations before we're there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pax Coverage: Carb Loading Edition

Makin' Bacon!
That's right people, it's carb loading time! Sure you can get coverage of PAX gaming goodness from the acerbic wit of Adam Sessler or the hotness that is Morgan Webb BUT will they give you a run down of great food in the Seattle area and what to avoid while at PAX 2011?! Nope, didn't think so.

The best place to start? At the beginning of course. Fresh off the plane I was famished so my local guide/geek goddess Robin suggested we go to Dick's for burgers. Some of you may know Dick's from the Sir Mix-a-Lot song Posse on Broadway.  If you are not familiar with the song or Mix than immediately punch yourself in the face for your impudence. Yes, these are one and the same and being a huge Mix fan I had to go and experience Dick's first hand. With much anticipation I tore open the bag and this confronted me:

JANE! Get me off this crazy thing!
A tiny little burger festooned with an unholy union of relish/lettuce, tasteless fries and a pre-made omni shake! Oh Sir Mix-a-Lot how I have been betrayed! Led Astray! Bamboozled! I can only assume Five Guys Burgers was not around back in the day. I get the feeling Dick's has gathered a mystique about itself due to it being the only burger available after midnight and a favorite place for burned out bands to show up. Sigh, it can only go up from here.

Saturday morning came too early and I needed coffee. While in line for a Large (not Grande or whatever, size: LARGE) Mocha I noticed 2 things. Sitting at the register and on little stands everywhere were these:
Oh yes, you will be regular at PAX!

I'm not sure who the coffee shop thought was coming but pushing these so hard was surely a miscalculation of the marketing department.

I checked out the back of these bad boys and it was nothing but nutrionless filler. Crap that's supposed to make you feel full but not actually give you anything but a little Vitamin C and a crap ton of fiber. Have you seen the restrooms at these cons! The last thing gamers need is more reasons to visit the crappers!

That's when I saw this off to the side and knew we'd be find and that this coffee shop did indeed understand the gamer clientele:

Carb Train Ahoy!
Don't get me wrong, it's important to eat healthy so you don't explode all over the exhibition floor in a shower of Krispy Kreme and Red Bull but damnit! For some of us this is vacation and we want to indulge in giant croissants and pastry.

These appear top be straight from the local CostCo which is fine by me. I'm glad they realized this an provided us appropriate rations. I was just thinking the only thing that could make a butter soaked croissant better was powder sugar!

The Tully's Coffee in the convention makes a good mocha and has a great selection of all natural juice too so it gets a thumbs up despite the silly Blisscuits staring at you. I'll continue to drop more food knowledge intermittently throughout the PAX coverage including where to find magic chicken and waffles. That's right, magical chicken and waffles.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pax Coverage: Console Commitment is Hard; PAX has the answer!

Waffling. That's what I've been doing and there's no denying it; hemming and hawing like an indecisive diner at a restaurant trying the poor waiter's last bit of shredded patience. Since moving away from my console rich shared housing into my own place I've agonized over which next gen console to buy.

Tthe X-Box 360 has some dope games and the online community is amazing but the PS3 has Blu Ray and Little Big Planet and the Wii...screw the Wii; I'll stick with my old school Nintendo system. I might get my daughter a Wii but the damn peripherals are ridiculously expensive.

I hoped touring the floor at PAX and demoing some games would help with my decision and lo there was much help in the offing.

The 360 didn't offer me much at PAX to knock my socks off. I was kind of underwhelmed at most of the 360 presence so I tried to see if there was anything that addressed what I thought the PS3's greatest weakness was for my gaming needs; some fun multi-player stuff and that's when I came across it; the silly game that tipped it over the edge. Sure, Slam Bolt Scrappers is great
Not chopped liver

and don't get me started on Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers, also not liver that has been chopped

but there was a game who's time had finally come and offered an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and would welcome into my humble condo with both arms.
A little game called Hoard from Big Sandwich Games!

In Hoard you and your friends play dragons of various colors that cooperate to raid the surrounding villages and towns in an effort to build a giant hoard of treasure. There's knight slaying, wizard tower attacking, princess kidnapping action in a fun, easy to play wrapper. This was one of the funnest co-op games I've played that wasn't a first person shooter or star a guy named Mario and his crew.

Villagers, delicious and nutritious with a side of gold carts and princesses.
All player dragons contribute to a shared pool of treasure and XP so as you all play you level equally and on the fly. There's no game stopping to level and haggle over who should specialize in what. You have to decide to put your points into armor or speed or carrying capacity while dodging knights and fireballs and discussing strategy with your friends.

There are nice curveballs in game play as the level progresses including the spontaneous generation of Wizards Towers that throw lightning at you, Giants that are crazy for gold and pesky knights intent on rescuing your princess as they have no respect for midnight snacks.

Between Scrappers, Crashers and Hoard my mind was made up; PS3 it is. Of course it doesn't hurt that I was able to get one of these bad boys for the PS3 for 1/2 off:

This is your god now...

What can I say, I'm a sucker for a sexy peripheral at a great price. Now, to get that PS3...

Friday, September 10, 2010

PAX Coverage: In Praise of Swag Zombies!

Go to any comic or game store and look to the left of you and then to the right of you; chances are the fellow geeks next to you are swag zombies. I know I am but I have taken max ranks in appraise and have developed a more discriminating taste in my swag. What is a swag zombie you ask?

Don't move, they detect motion.
Swag Zombies are the (usually) unwashed throngs of attendees at pop culture or industry events that will beg, borrow or steal to get whatever free knick knack companies are flinging out of their booths; hopefully by scantily clad booth babes.

Middle guy thinks he's too cool to beg.
He's wrong

I heard more than one fellow attendee deriding the swag zombies yelling for a free Zelda whistle or Pokemon oven mitt or whatever whilst showing off their Duke Nuke Shirt they got by being one of the first to see the new trailer. You see, they earned it by sitting through viewing the hard labor or talented people rather then yelling their heads off like an enthusiastic fan of their hobby.

While I fully support the geek inclination to acquire little bits and pieces of the things that are important to us I also want to remind you all to be safe and courteous.

Remember, the little kid you trample to get the Voltron foil cover card today could have been the kid that would have made Final Fantasy 32 super awesome.

In closing I call out to all swag zombies to unite and not take abuse from the snobs that we all know secretly want the Samus Salt Shaker. If they don't adjust their attitude we will have but one choice:


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Transit Pain: A Tale of Two Canes

Buy one for your hot stepmom
I know I'm supposed to be doing PAX coverage (it's coming, I swear) but BART strikes again! I'm waiting for the EmeryGoRound and a rather cranky looking older lady wobbles up in a cane taking a station directly in front of the 3 of us already in line. No big deal I thought, I usually let the older people go in front of me anyway so I'm in position in case one of them falls. Having caught an old lady in the past falling out of an airport shuttle van I'm speaking from experience. She hobbled her way on with me behind her like an MLB catcher yet she competently made her way to the first seat and what should I see?

Another cantankerous old lady with a cane! 

The alarm bells went off in my head immediately and for good reason. She had been riding that bus for the last 5 stops whining to the driver that she thought it went to Amtrak despite the shuttle clearly stating WATERGATE EXPRESS on the side. Not Amtrak Express, not Amtrak Line and the the fact that the maps clearly show this route being literally the only one that does not go anywhere near the Amtrak. The fed up driver finally relented and said he would drop her off at the Amtrak but next time to "Take any EmeryGoRound shuttle except for this one and maybe ask for confirmation next time."

Normally I would be supportive of this decision on the driver's part. I love it when people go above and beyond and provide great service when it's not required however both earned my enmity when I quickly realized that he intended to take her to the Amtrak immediately!

There was a bunch of us on the shuttle that did our research and know what's going on but now our schedules are thrown to hell because she couldn't be bothered to look at the schedule and map at every station. The next scheduled stop was at MacArthur BART which is a hub for every bus and shuttle. She could have just waited for the next stop, got off and got onto the Powell which goes directly to the Amtrak's door! I'm all for the great service from the bus driver but do the 10 of us that were on the ball have to wait for it? Our schedule is tight and sure enough we missed the BART and had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.

In the grand scheme of things it's only 25 minutes of my life wasted but that's not the point. Why does the loudest, most incompetent amongst us have to be catered to at the expense of the rest of us with our stuff together? We need to start enforcing consequences for actions or inactions.

In a previous post a brave commenter that goes by the name of 'anonymous' tried to call me out on not asking the jerk that was taking up 4 seats to move his ass. I chose inaction for various reasons (He was bigger, stronger and younger with a bad attitude among the reasons. Not the kind of guy a father of one should mess with) and the consequence of my inaction is: I didn't get a seat. Inaction = Consequence just like Action=Consequence.

The inaction of this passenger not looking at the map provided at the stop, not asking the driver before boarding if she was on the right shuttle and not waiting to go to the transfer hub should be her having to wait until the regular round is done and then take advantage of the bus driver's generosity and get her ride to Amtrak. If he made that offer to me I'd insist he finish the route first and then go out of his way instead of making 10 people lose a collective 250 minutes of their lives.

This speaks to a bigger problem of our inability to care about others. The me-centric society is crossing generational gaps and getting out of control. I'm just asking for a little courtesy. Is that so much to ask.

Will be on her lawn. Depressing image source.
When I finally arrived at MacArthur with my now late crew of fellow passengers the first wobbly old lady tried to cut me off so she could be first off the shuttle and hold the rest of us up so I did the only sensible thing in that situation. I checked her into the boards so the rest of us could hustle out and try to catch the train in time. We failed to catch the train but maybe next time the first cane lady will remember before trying to make the rest of us even later.

Pax 2010! Pt.1: Starting off with a Bizang!

OK, so I went to Pax and had this big plan of documenting it from soup to nuts with a nice Seattle travelogue/industry professional angle. I still plan to do more in depth PAX coverage this week and maybe into the next but I have to get this first thing out before I start.

This is the single most inspiring/bad-ass/encouraging thing I saw at PAX. Is it the largest indy game presence at PAX ever with fresh new ideas being brought to the fore? Nope but that's good. Was it the charity work done by Childs Play? No but close.

This is my new hero:
Sir, there's a Dr.Kimball looking for you..

That's right. That is a:

If that doesn't sum up the gamer spirit and will in 1 image I don't know what does. Not only was he playing but it looked like he had the highest heist total of his 4 teammates!

If you see this man at another con don't look him directly in the eye or he may blind you with his 2 scoops of awesome.

That is amazing and badass and exactly how I want to start off the PAX coverage.

I will post more this week from beginning to end but for now just think about this guy kicking ass and taking cash when you're life gets a little rough.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let it be known....

...I have figured out how to blog from my phone. That cracking noise you hear in the distance is the seventh seal being sundered. You have been warned...

Why I Hate Young People. Reason#31,892

Scumbag taking up 4 freakin' seats on BART
Picture by my iPhone and rage
Kinda says it all doesn't it. I walk into a crowded BART* train during rush hour and there's this jackass taking up not 1, not 2 but 4 seats! There are old ladies forced to stand, their brittle hips creaking and knee replacements wobbling so you, an able bodied and Air Jordan adorned piece of crap, can take a nap?!

Notice the spent Dorito bag on the floor, the fuzzy Sean John hat and Air Jordans. Obviously not a homeless person cuz there's no attendant smell of Berkeley food shelter hummus (seriously, a shelter in Berkeley served hummus one night; signs don't lie).

What you can't see is him cradling a Gatorade bottle cuz he obviously needs to rehydrate after a power nap that cost 3 senior citizens their lives due to catastrophic joint failure. The topper was him waking up at West Oakland, sitting up for a second, looking at the crowded train and then rolling over to resume his 4 seat nap! He seemed pissed that so many people were talking  and interrupting his nap time.

You may ask:
1) Why do you care?
2) Did you want one of those seats?
3) Does this man owe you money?

1) I care because no one else does. I'm getting old and turning into my parents. When they complained about us being sloppy and disrespectful I blew it off but here it is right in front of me and I get it now. It's not too late though. Parents!Whip your kids into shape and don't let them be BART scum! My daughter would never do this stupidity and neither should yours. We need to raise our kids better than this guy's parents. Let's take back America from the disrespectful and selfish!

2) No, I usually stand on the BART cuz seats are for children, the elderly or long trips in that order of priority. The End and I won't debate the point with you.

3) No he doesn't but he owes the rest of us an explanation. When drunk or high people pass out on the BART they have the courtesy to do it on the floor or take up 1 seat and lean against the window. Seeing this jerk awake and cognizant and the fact that he was clean and without a bindle leads me to believe he's not homeless or mentally ill. He's just a jerk and he has no excuse and neither do you if you replicate this jackassery.

In closing:
1) 1 seat per butt
2) Kids and the elderly need seats more than you
3) Take up multiple seats and you will appear on my blog looking like the selfish scum you are.

*Bay Area Rapid Transit

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm Going to Pax and You're Not.

Or maybe you are. I really don't know you that well.

What is PAX you ask? I have one very simple answer to that question: Google It. Seriously, if you can read this than you know how to use the innernets already and don't need me to hold your hand no matter how supple and soft it may be.

If you don't have googling time I'll tell you that is a video game convention chock full of geeky goodness from old school games to the latest industry announcements and nerdcore hip-hop goodness. And Wil Wheaton.

Why am I going you ask? Cuz I'm an industry professional that has work to do dammnit! <---intentionally spelled with an extra 'm' cuz that's how serious I am about this con. There are panels on game design, writing compelling adventures and appealing to mass audiences of various ages. And Wil Wheaton.

I'm also an old school gaming fan that likes nothing more than reminding a Donkey Kong Jr. cabinet that I am now and will always be it's daddy. And Wil Wheaton.

In the interest of full disclosure I must also mention that a beautiful redhead I know lives in the area and I will surely be visiting with her and we will be playing Bubble Bobble for bragging rights and Ground Kontrol tokens. And Wil Wheaton.

<Writers note: I'm not obsessed with Wil Wheaton, just his goatee and have made it my life's mission to steal a D20 from him and raise it as my own.>

Photo Provided without their knowledge or consent by

See you in Seattle.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ballad of Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

There they were this morning; the giant, open boxes of oatmeal packet dust waiting, watching, yearning to be reconstituted into a wholesome if not entirely healthy breakfast treat.

Why more than 1 box you ask? Me too so I looked, curiosity's claw sunk into my medulla like the ghost of Schrodinger's cat. 1 box full to the brim with various flavors of oatmeal goodness while the other box...the other box...that sad 'other box' stuffed full of apple cinnamon packets, limp with despair like an orphan child on Christmas morn. In a fit of empathy I hesitantly reached for the apple cinnamon thinking "I kind of remember them being ok. Sure the apple tastes like moldy Jolly Rancher and the pieces themselves are akin to gummy candies left out too long on your grandma's counter but how bad could they be?". After one tentative spoonful the memories came rushing back like a  fruit flavored freight train from hell. The bitter disappointment of apple promises unfulfilled over and over again since my youth to present and the more the fool am I for falling for the siren song of apple cinnamon.

One washed cup later I switched to brown sugar oatmeal and my breakfast world was righted, no longer spinning out of control and instead comforted in the familiar arms of sugary goodness.

I don't care what Patty says, apple cinnamon is the most awful flavor.

Share your breakfast horror stories....if you dare....

Courtesy of some website.