Friday, May 4, 2012

Geek Weekend Showdown

So, earlier this week, I meant to write a quick post about the weekend of gaming I experienced last weekend.  It started off with a long lunch with two friends, Jeff and Sean, at Barney's Beanery. Jeff, like me, works from home and is his own boss, and even luckier for me, he lives really close by, so every once in a while he and I will take an extended lunch and hopefully work in a game. I've been known to imbibe the occasional beer or cocktail during this process.

Last Friday Sean joined us, also taking a bit of a longer lunch, and we ended up playing Space Hulk. We lost. But it was a lot of fun just to be able to take some time away from work and hang out with two friends and play a game. Those times are just not as frequent as they used to be, so I always do count myself lucky when they happen.  I also think it's funny to take over a huge booth table in the middle of the afternoon and play card or board games while other people look at us like we're crazy. 

Then on Saturday, my wife and I were lucky enough to be able to call on the assistance of my mom and dad to watch our daughter, Joy, so we could head over to our friend Cal & Raellen's house for some tasty snacks followed by an awesome dinner of homemade mole sauce with chicken, Raellen's Spanish rice, and a really great salad made with faro.  We also enjoyed a bunch of cool interesting craft beers like some coffee porter,  vanilla porter, and "Smoke Baltic Porter" (I guess it was the day of Porters) and then some awesome wine including a Clio Jumilla from Spain and a Carlisle Zinfandel from Rossi Ranch in Sonoma.  There was one more beer and one more bottle of wine that we shared, but I can't quite remember what they were.

Last Will and one of my many losing hands.
We also played two really fun card/board games. The first was Tichu, which I'd played a couple of times before. I lost, badly, and let my partner down. I'm really not good at trick-taking games, but I think I'm better than I was about five years ago.  Next up was a brand new game for me - Last Will.  The object is to spend/lose the most money in order to win.  It's much harder than it sounds.  I lost... again. But I really like the game and think that I have a better handle on it after having played it once - it's really a game of figuring out a way to adapt to the cards you end up with in order to make them work together better than they would work independently. So I think it helps a bit to have some knowledge of the cards and what might be coming up in the deck.

The next day was another session of my nearly 11-year World of Samoth D&D/Pathfinder campaign, featuring a show-down between Jeremi Udall, heretic against the church of Ætonism (played by my friend Brian), versus his superior in the church, the Pontifex Rex, Cristobal Arino (an NPC). That was the intent, anyway, but even though we actually did "game" quite a bit, there was a lot of in-game discussion between the various players.  Part of the issue was that the three players who showed up were running characters who had all been separately, so I was, in essence, running three games at the same time. We had to end on another cliff-hanger, as Jeremi was attempting to prove that his god had not forsaken him by casting divine spells that would impress the crowd of people who had gathered to watch, while Arino took the direct frontal assault approach and began sending his minions after Jeremi. I'm curious how things will turn out at the next session.  

(As a side note, I did say "I'm curious how things will turn out" because I have no idea. Even though I'm the DM, this isn't pre-destined, so I'm not sure who is going to prevail or what other things might happen that could affect the battle. Years ago, I would have decided ahead of time that "Jeremi can't die" and made sure to sway the combat toward that outcome. Nowadays I find that level of control much less satisfying and I'm glad I made the switch to a new style.)

So, I thought that weekend was full of fun, geek-related activities until I looked at my schedule for this weekend.  

Today if, of course, a Major National Holiday - "Star Wars Day" aka "May the Fourth Be With You Day." I began the day by listening to the Episode IV Soundtrack with my daughter, Joy, at breakfast and explaining to her the concept of leitmotif - how every major character has his or her own theme which can be played at different tempos and sometimes even in different keys and with different instruments to provide a sense of the story and the emotions behind the scenes. Then I explained to Joy that just by listening to the music, I could relate the story to her. So, I began by explaining the Imperial Star Destroyer attacking the Rebel Blockade Runner and about the two "robots" (a word she understands, versus "droids") and later we got into Princess Leia, Luke, Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi, and the Jawas, all the while with me explaining the musical themes so she could listen for them.  My favorite moments of breakfast included Joy, ignoring her breakfast of "banana toast with maple syrup" paying full attention to me and asking, "What's happening now, Daddy?" 

But I think my single favorite part of breakfast was Joy, who will be three in July, explaining to me in a long, run-on sentence, "Daddy, maybe I can be a princess and Skywalker can come and live in my castle.  And maybe he can dance with me? But he has to put down his flashlight. You can't dance with a flashlight! It's made of glass. But we can dance, and then maybe Skywalker can go save Leia. Is he a good-guy or a bad-guy?" 

And then later, "I want to help the good-guys. Can I help them? I would hide from the Jawas because I'm a little bit scared, but the robots aren't scared." 

And then later still, "Maybe I can wear a princess skirt with buttons, and maybe Leia can wear the same one so we'll be matching. And then I can help her, and you can, too, Daddy, and you, too, Grandma [my mom was here at this point to watch Joy while I work today]. And I can take out my sword, and I can... I can... I can poke the bad-guys away with it, and then we can save Leia and all go live in my castle."  

She also mentioned that maybe she could help the bad-guys by making them change their minds and not be bad, but instead they might decide to "be a rescue" and help Leia.  

This is all coming purely off of me just relating the story to the first half of the movie while listening to the music, and also from time-to-time explaining the characters and designs on the various Star Wars T-shirts I wear.  And, as I've mentioned before, she also has some Star Wars "Heroes" and "Villains" books that my sister gave her.  

I'm celebrating Star Wars Day by continuing to listen to the soundtrack and by wearing one of my favorite Star Wars T-shirts, which is red and actually features artwork from issue #5 (I think) of the old Marvel Comics Star Wars adaptation from 1977 right when the movie came out. I figured that I'd wear this shirt as an homage not only to Star Wars but also to Marvel Comics since tonight...

... my wife and I are going to see The Avengers with our friends Joe and Tam.  Jody, my wife, has already seen it because she works on the advertising for Acura, the official car of S.H.I.E.L.D., so she got to go to the red carpet premiere in Hollywood a few weeks ago.  I'm totally not jealous or bitter or anything.  

The weekend of geek fun continues tomorrow on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! Joy and I are heading over to our local comic store first thing in the morning while my wife is getting her hair cut.  I'm excited to try to get Joy a copy of the free Yo Gabba Gabba comic and also a Peanuts/Adventure Time comic flip-book. For me, some of the cool ones look like the Archaia Entertainment hard-cover, Atomic Robo and Friends, and the DC New 52 comic. A great review of some of the cool books being offered can be found here, but you can also just Google around for them because each reviewer obviously has his or her own tastes. 

Joy is excited to go with me because she loves visiting the comic book store, which is craftily situated practically next door to the mailbox I rent for my at-home business, so every once in a while when I take Joy to pick up my mail, I might have to stop by the comic store. Joy loves looking at the figurines in the glass cases, and also the logo t-shirts because at this point she can pretty much identify most of the major superheroes just by their logo alone. 

I'm not certain yet what Sunday may hold, but I'm hoping I can watch the new episode of Game of Thrones with my wife before we fall asleep just to complete yet another fun weekend full of fun, geeky goodness. 

I hope you all get a chance to fit in some gaming, watch the original Star Wars trilogy, read some comics, and/or watch "The Avengers."  Cheers!

Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water
Listening: "Binary Sunset (Alternate)" by John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra
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