Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Bad Waitress - Farewell

Farewell to the The Bad Waitress.  Today is their last day.  I have fond memories of eating there with Aeryn as they were growing up, after acting classes at MIA, after the Tea Tastings over at Mrs. Kelly's, and just generally if we were in the hood.  It was probably our second go-to in that area after Christo's [and we have reasons for eating at Christo's beyond "we like Greek food" including the owner being an acquaintance, her niece being a school acquaintance of both my brother and myself, and my workplace of what seems like forever ago having been only a few steps closer to Lake].  Extra props for The Bad Waitress because I didn't catch covid there. Instead I caught it basically next door at the Copper Hen on Easter for a buffet brunch.  The very thing they tell you not to do.  We went to Bad Waitress only a month before that, back in March 2022, and they were incredibly careful about keeping a lot of ventilation going, masked up, and particularly clean.  I definitely felt safer there than in a number of venues. I'm really going to miss my occasional breakfast there, particularly when they got creative with the pancakes.  A sad departure.

"When we opened The Bad Waitress, we set out to serve our friends and neighbors better food with a fresh approach. We’ve believed since the start that brunch makes everything better — but this time, it couldn’t save the day.   With great sadness, we announce that The Bad Waitress will close indefinitely after brunch on Sunday, January 29, 2023. Being a part of Eat Street and serving the Whittier neighborhood and beyond these past 18 years has been an honor. The strength, spirit, resilience and support of this community will continue to inspire us for years to come, and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve you. We could not have done it without all of you.  We hope you’ll all join us for one last lunch date, boozy brunch, mid-morning coffee, or to use your Bad Waitress gift card before we close our doors on Sunday, January 29. "


Some of my friends have been going to an almost monthly dinner for four years now.  Less a big gap for covid that started basically a day after I shipped home from Provide, Rhode Island from a business planning trip and sat away from others as it was an unknown at the time.  The crowd changes a bit here and there as kids and girlfriends and ex-girlfriends show up and people run into commitments.

The food isn't always good, but that generally becomes part of the lore.

I think my favorites have been Chimborazo and Mama Sheila's House of Soul, but we've been to a lot of my favorite places to eat including Christo's, Winzer Stube [RIP], Moscow on the Hill, and Peninsula.

All of us at Kasada for dinner last week.

A list of places we've been the last four year:
  • January 2023 [Ming] - Kalsada’s Filipino food
  • December - New Year’s at Scott and Jen's
  • November 2022 [Kyle] - Yarusso Italian [Scott came back from Irvine CA for Alteryx]
  • October 2022 [Matthew]  - Christo’s
  • September 2022 - no munchies
  • August 2022 [Ming] - Hai Hai
  • July 2022 [Larry] - Chimborazo
  • June 2022 - no munchies
  • May 2022 [Scott] - The Mill Northeast
  • April 2022 [Kyle] - Hola Arepo
  • March 2022 [Ming] - Ngon Vietnamese.  Ming hopped the queue.
  • December 2021 -[Kyle] - New Year’s.  Ming is in Hawaii
  • October 2021 [Matthew] - Wiederholt’s Supper Club.  No Ming.  He got lost.
  • September 2021 [Larry] - Guava’s Cuban Cafe
  • August 2021 [Scott]....Cuban place by Brad lunch, El Cubano
  • July 2021 [Kyle] - Buffalo, Forget Me Not Cafe [Dan’s memorial with Larry as well]
  • June 2021 [Ming] - Donatelli’s [Italian, I think]
  • March 2020 (Matthew) - Moscow on the Hill [Scott came back from Providence, RI for VP]
  • February 2020 (Larry) - Beruit
  • January 2019 (Scott) - Brasa (only Ming and Julie and Scott and Jen and Aeryn, St. Paul >> very, very cold)
  • December 2019 (Ming) - Mama Sheila’s
  • November 2019 (Kyle) - Sakura (St. Paul)
  • October 2019 (Matthew) - Chimborazo (Columbian)
  • September 2019 (Larry) - Mesob (Ethiopian on Hiawatha)
  • August 2019 (Scott) - Apoy Phillipino Bistro
  • July 2019 (Ming)- Mama Sheila’s Soul Food Kitchen [Buffet]
  • June 2019 (Kyle) - Babani’s Turkish
  • May 2019 (Matthew) - Winzer Stube German Restaurant
  • April 2019 (Larry) - Adelita’s (Hispanic, Oz was there)
  • March 2019 (Scott) - George and the Dragon [Brunch]
  • February 2019 (Ming) -  City Afrique (Scott's family missed)
  • January 2019 (Kyle) - Peninsula (Malaysian)

The Book Club [Play]

Friday night we went to The Book Club [Play] by Karen Zacarias [directed by Shanan Custer] at Theatre in the Round.  It's their 71st season over there.  I'm glad they made it through the deepest depths of covid.

Here's the official summary, which should be free of spoilers: "Laughter and literature collide in this smart comedy. Ana lives in a letter-perfect world with an adoring husband, the perfect job and her greatest passion: Book Club. But when her cherished group becomes the focus of a documentary film, their intimate discussions about life and literature take a turn for the hilarious in front of the inescapable camera lens."

The play was very good.  All about a group of friends at a book club and the interactions that are certainly not confined to the reading.  I don't think I'm giving anything away there - it's what you'd expect out of such a play.  Definitely funnier and lighter than some of what we see over there.  A lot of laughter from the audience. And I'd say pretty older kid accessible unless you're deeply conservative.  But if you are, I'm fairly certain you're not frequenting Theatre in the Round anyway.

Props to Baily J Hess who played the "pundit" and interjected some additional humor as a variety of characters during scene changes.

Because we use the flex passes and can't make it to all the plays - life gets in the way - I throw my extras at Ming.  Here he is photo bombing Aeryn.  He was supposed to sit next to us, but Julie wanted to see this one as well so he picked up an extra ticket.  But not in time to make sure all our seats were together.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Arbeiter Game Night

Wednesday, Aeryn and I went to Arbeiter Brewing in south Minneapolis to explore their game night.  I had high hopes based on their photos from the week before, but there was surprisingly little gaming going on.  I think the two games closest to us were a game of Magic the Gathering and cribbage.  Quite a few people and a good revolving group of people buying Nepalese food, but not a lot of stranger gaming as you'd hope to find.

It's also Lunar New Year's at Arbeiter, so they  had a few specials on tap.  I tried their Foundation - Blanton's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout [12.6], their Wee Heavier - Buffalo Trace Barrel-Aged Scottish Wee Heavy [9.9], and Pfeffernusse [6.3].  I'm really glad Aeryn was driving or I'd have been calling a cab or walking to Allison's house.  Those were all delicious, but definitely had kick.  On the way out, the bartender fetched me a four pack of their Best Buds THC Seltzer because "we had talked about it."  I wasn't drunk enough to believe that, but I was tipsy enough to not be offended I looked like every other middle aged, six foot ish, bleary eyed white guy.  5.0 mg/16 oz can.  Jen noted it made her feel baked.

Without anyone to play with, we kicked up a game of Flamme Rouge with the Mateo [weather] expansion.  I balanced my cards well, although the one cyclist had a deck that was a pile of exhaustion cards by the end.

I think they're pedaling so fast here that they're blurry.  Or it's the rain. Don't crash little dudes.

My photo finish win.  And I still have both balls and a sunny disposition.

The general list of beers.  Quite the selection at the moment.

After a game of Flamme Rouge and Project L, Aeryn and I noticed that two of the people at the table next to us were playing with their phones while waiting for their friends to finish a very long game of Magic the Gathering.  We invited them over to play Project L and they had a great time.  Real fun playing with strangers.  Project L may be a perfect bar game.  That guy catty corner to me was really putting some serious thinking into the whole business once he got his brain wrapped around the strategy.  The Klund Kreations 3-d inserts are a nice add.  Makes it feel much classier than picking pieces out of a pile in a plastic bag.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Embarrassing Photo Bank

I really don't want to lose this, so I'm going to put it here where I can always find it.  One of the moms was taking pictures at a sporting event and caught my friend Ben  [rode the RAM with me last summer] in a pose that can only be described as looking like some sort of "ass appreciation".  The little finger cocked forward on the guy in front of him makes it look like Ben is about to get a lapdance from some cowboyesque stripper in a populated gym  You go, Ben.


Skinamarink.  I fell asleep.  Jen had to wake me up.  I'm pretty sure it is a horror movie aimed at ASMR folks and Five Nights at Freddies [FNAF] fans, of which I'm neither.  There's even a whole scene with the flashlight on / flashlight off moving from door to door, and Aeryn assures me the Fisher Price telephone makes an appearance in FNAF as well.  Although perhaps that's the clock.  Close enough and I'd trust Aeryn on FNAF over my internet research any day of the week.

Good on the guy for producing a legitimately different movie for only 15k, but it simply didn't do it for me.  Felt a bit disjointed.  The scariest part - how long Kevin had been in the house - had to be spelled out rather than revealed.  And the entity just didn't strike me as having a rationale, although I suspect that was part of the whole point.  I'd trust the audience score on this one, not the critics.

Hash House Harriers

This is for Kyle.  A long time ago, he, Adam, and myself had an adventure in Wisconsin that included hiding out in the Viking Brewery warehouse while a tornado was trying to spin up outside.  We were holed up with a family with a couple daughters and an extremely drunk running club with the foulest mouths I'd ever heard, and even fouler nicknames.  They'd been chasing a "rabbit" between kegs and breweries for a long time, and by the time they got to our stop, they were probably still trending toward fall down drunk before they even touched a Viking brew.  And the owner of Viking was not stingy with the free beer while we were all trapped inside waiting out the weather.

I was telling my boss - prior boss post reorg a week ago - this story as he's working on a half marathon and is into orienteering as well.  So today I'm talking to him and he tells me that he's driving around Cambridge, UK, this last weekend and he sees a guy in fox ears and a fox tail running across the road.  He immediately thinks, "This is what Scott was talking about! Where someone is the runner/rabbit and leaves chalk symbols for everyone else to chase between drinks."

So he went home to look up if there was a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers in Cambridge.  There is a local chapter.  But the fox wasn't part of the local HHH.  Wrong day.  He was just some rando in fox ears and a fox tail out for a jog.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Booty Bouncing Burlesque

Last weekend, Jen and I went to Tassels Off Burlesque at Hell's Kitchen. It's been a long time since we caught a burlesque show.  Go back far enough, and you'll see my blog littered with them, including a burlesque-specific trip to Chicago with Jen and Kyle.  Amusingly, we saw some familiar acts, including Tila Von Twirl who we've seen both in Minneapolis and Chicago, Foxy Tan who is always amazing as both announcer and dancer, and...Gollum! Several others as well. I would posit that it's nice everyone is getting older along with us, but that seems unnecessarily mean. I hope they stay young forever. There were a few new ... faces ... in the show as well. It was fun, even if we're on the older end of the crowd now, and I've missed it after so long, including the covid gap.

I think one of my favorite acts was a dancer vaguely dressed in 70's era men's clothes who did a number to Everything I Own with a guitar case and other props.  Jen wanted to know why they were tassel twirling bags of bread and aggressively chewing on a loaf.  Check the link if you're unsure why.

That tall dancer closest in frame performed to a dance mix of the song Period Sex.  Darn funny.  

Others included: "Glitter Cakes, Texas Teacakes, juggler Derrick Jermaine Harper, Phoenix De La Rosa, Plum Ridiculous, Raja James, Trisha Spectacle, Pedi Bourgeois, and special guest hosts Tre Da Marc, and Sparkle Du Jour! Your bra flinging producers Musette the Mistress of Mischief, Kitson Sass and Pistol Prudence pinky swear a night to remember for one and all."  Derrick Jermaine Harper didn't disappoint all glittered up on his unicycle.

My understanding is they were raising funds for a glamping adventure in the Wisconsin wilderness.  Sort of the camping / learning thing I've seen folks like Actualol do, except he did it for board gaming, not burlesque [as far as I know].  That must be a bit of a surprise for anyone randomly traipsing about in the wilderness.

I see Black Hearts is coming to Hell's Kitchen on February 10.  Kyle, Ming, and I once caught their act near the U  of MN with Fat Leonard [he's not really fat].  The dancer doing the Portal-related game dance threw cake and booze at the audience members in the front, ala The Cake is a Lie.  They're a fun act.


Street Fight: the Street Always Wins

So back in 2013 I took a spill on my bicycle on the ice while I was commuting to Thomson Reuters.  Rude Bicyclist Day as I called it then. This year, fortunately, no spill... yet.  But last Saturday I was letting the neighbor's Corgi relax on my lap while we were dogsitting. The fur and dander started to give me a serious headache. Nothing new there.  Pet leavings have always been a problem.  It's why I have animal free zones in the house where I work and sleep.  What was new was that I decided I would take two Aleve for my headache.  I knew I had an ibuprofen allergy per that prior post, but I had taken Aleve a few times since then [e.g. maybe six pills over almost a decade] without problem.

Apparently that's changed.  I look like I'm in mugshots below after some street fight and this is 48 hours after I realized I was having a problem.  It took almost 96 hours for everything to settle back down for the most part. I had to go camera-off for Zoom meetings for two days. Not because I didn't want to scare people more than usual, but because I didn't want to extend meetings with discussions about whether I'd been in a fight. 

Swelling, nearly scratching my remaining hairs off my head, and a few hitches in my breathing.  I could tell I was getting swelling in my throat.  I'm probably crazy for thinking it was more interesting than dangerous each time it sort of glitched for a moment.  Jen got up to hang out with me while I watched some late night television to ensure I wasn't going to die in my sleep. I'm conscientious that way.  I'd rather people found my body propped up on the couch right away in the morning then got their day started only to find me lying cold in bed at some point when they already had plans in motion.

It's interesting how much more impacted my left "eye" is, although maybe that's a trick of the camera and the angle.  But that's the brow/part of my face that:

  • has swelling from this allergy event
  • has scaring from when I was hurt in the Mustang [minimal, you'd have to know to look for it, but it's there]
  • has the scar from having the birthmark removed when I was younger [contrary to what I told my father in the law the first time I met him about how it was from a knife fight]
  • was all droopy from Lyme's related Bell's Palsy, not once, but twice [1987 and probably 2019]
Even when I'm not all puffy, that side has a noticeable wrinkle to it compared to the other.  I applaud it for simply not giving up and sliding off my face.

Anyway.  In the future,  no Aleve.  No Advil.  Tylenol and Benadryl are still alternatives, although I haven't taken the former in a decade, so who's to say what the situation is there.


My latest gaming obsession is accurately called Obsession. I read about it a post about good games to play solo.  I don't play solo as much as that implies, but I do have a selection of games I can go to if no one will play with me [Street MastersThe 7th Continent: Classic EditionPaperback Adventures which is taking a backseat to Obsession, and several others]. However, I've played almost exclusively with others since my wife picked it up for my birthday.  This was one of the few birthdays where I said, "I want that.  You can get it here.  They confirmed they'll be getting a shipment so you can lock one down in advance as well as pick up the expansions I want at the same time."  Not ironically, probably one of my most used birthday presents so far, and not one I had to give away because it didn't fit.  I even signed up to host a session at a local board gaming convention, although I'm not approved yet.  I may have been too late to host and get a table.  That's ok...I'll just haul it along and play a pick up game or by myself if I can't find another event.

I taught Aeryn to play.  I taught Kyle to play last weekend.  And Aeryn and I taught our neighbor to play.  For as complex as it looks, you can get someone going in about 15 minutes and they'll even be able to formulate a bit of strategy at that point.

The basics: you're improving your manor in order to attract the local heirs by playing to their druthers.  You can do this by building various rooms and spaces for events, and then using those rooms to host events for gentry and distinguished guests.  Initially, you're limited by your reputation to which of your rooms/events you can use and which guests will attend, but as the game progresses you can increase your reputation to host more prestigious events and more prestigious guests. So there's a balance between the rooms/events you acquire, the guests you accumulate, the money you accumulate to buy new rooms/events, when you do these things [you get to influence the heirs quarterly by focusing on a room/event theme], and how you deploy your little fleet of servants to accommodate the needs of guests [do you need valets and footmen or maids to host the event and particular guests, do you have enough, and are the ones you used in the previous turn still too tired...even in the Austen era overclocking your workers wasn't cool...hear that Elon?].

There are some objective cards as well that you gain and lose, but those can be really tricky to target.  Once during the game there's a National Holiday where you can ignore reputation [so if you're really lagging at your manor you can try to score that one big fancy dinner party for the hoi polloi as long as you manage your staff in advance] and you can swap your reputation to try and tweak your position.  Each family has a slightly different ability such as an extra room, extra staff, or extra money to give them some character.

Aeryn and I have played the standard game a few times.  Then played the Jane Austen variation where you hide the theme for the quarter [which should make for a more balanced room set, but as you can see in the photo above, Aeryn doubled down on a theme].  And played the extended version where you play for 20 rounds instead of 16 and the National Holiday really seems to sneak up on you and isn't as critical because everyone is targeting larger rooms with the longer runway.

I also have the Upstairs/Downstairs expansion although we haven't played it yet.  It adds a family and a few new servant types.  The nice thing about it is that the servants allow you to modify or trigger existing effects.  So they don't completely rewrite the game, they just allow you more levers to target your strategy [e.g. a bit more money on an event, a bit less money on a buy, a way to wipe the board of the rooms for sale, etc].

Truly one of my favorites, particularly given how easy it is to bring someone new into the game.  There's a lot of local color to really give it some character and you can really feel the frustration when you invite a rich but uncultured American heiress to your event at the cost of your local standing [and victory points], despite how much you need her to motivate your manor economy.

I should add.  I have played the solo version exactly once [yesterday] and the automata crushed me. The general gist of solo play is the solo character has particular points for each room type each quarter.  You can't beat them all, so you have to focus on the themes it is weak at.  That might be at odds with how you're trying to build money, servants, etc.  The automata player steals a tile or wipes the board every turn, making long term planning pretty difficult, particularly as it has a penchant/preference for stealing the high value monuments before you can put together the cash/pounds. If it beats you in a quarter, it adds the victory points to its base total.  If you feel like a challenge, you add the monument points it scavenges to its total.  When I totaled up the challenging value, the "easy' automata beat me 167 to 104.  But I learned some strategy so we shall meet again.

Smells Like Working Code

Erik and Jestine sent me a holidays present. It was a little startling because it came in this Styrofoam package with huge orange fragile stickers on it and heavily wrapped in tape to hold the two pieces together in what seemed like almost an airtight fashion.  If I wanted to picture what receiving an organ in the mail would look like, it pretty much fit the bill.

What was inside was almost as terrifying as a human organ..  They sent me a Smells Like Working Code candle to go with my Will Code for Coffee mug with Erik's...mug...on the front.  I've got to give it to this candle.  I use my office/game room as a bicycling room as well and I'll do an hour on the trainer with the door closed.  The temperature will skyrocket almost 15 degrees sometimes I put so much heat/energy into the air.  You probably can't imagine the sweat.  It's like I'm walking out of a sauna.  However....two minutes of the Smells Like Working Code candle and the room no longer smells like sweat.  It smells like an incredibly powerful and floral candle...mixed with sweat.


Lit up to provide that bit of ambience every blog post needs. That photo is scratch and sniff.  Try it.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Reading December 2022

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Reading November 2022

Over 2000 pages....and then some.  That's an aggressive month of reading given I had new hire and other things going on as well.

Sunday, November 06, 2022


The Tuesday before last, October 25, we lost Luna.  I realized after a while that she wasn't coming out of her crate.  By the time my wife came down and we were trying to coax her out, she couldn't stand, fell over when she tried, and was having constant mini seizures.  She's been seizing for a long time and having incidents of falling over, falling into things, and sort of narcolepsy-ing.  She was calm, but not herself, and had clearly had a major event like a stroke during the night.  She wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink, and appreciated all the attention, but was clearly befuddled.

We were very happy her last full day involved running at the neighbor's house.  Ted was always good to her and running next door was her happy place, across three different neighbors in that house.  And she was excited when the neighbor from the other side came over to check on Bailey the cat who we thought was actually the animal in the worst health, although she's rallied for a few weeks.  But Luna passing didn't do her any favors. Luna was always super excited about visits from people she recognized. 

We took her to the vet so she could pass peacefully and the fact that she wasn't slobbering like she had rabies was a telltale sign that it was really bad, particularly after I'd carried her in wrapped in a blanket.  She always foamed like crazy when excited and stressed.  It was pretty obvious she'd had a very long life and had decided she was all done.  A was still at school and we didn't want Luna to deal with any pain or being scared while waiting and I think they understood.  They're still a little mad about when Sandy passed back in 2008 and we didn't tell them it was happening.  But they were so young at the time and didn't like death.

Luna was a good dog. Barked too much.  A little too tightly wound.  Thought she was more clever than she really was and often tried to sneak in a poop when she thought she was being sneaky behind me instead of where I could see her. But we loved her and she loved us and she was happy.  We have lots of fond memories, even those that involve her being a little crazy like when she went bark crazy when my phone made a bee-boo noise [it's a sad noise now], or when she pooped half a dozen times if she went for a walk.  She was a gift from an old VP of Tech at TR after Sandy died.  We were drinking at the bar for a manager event and I mentioned my dog had died when I became a manager, and she mentioned her husband had a pile of oops hunting puppies.  We took A to her farm and she played in a pile of puppies and took Luna home.

There are piles of photos on my blog and Flickr.  But as I posted over on FB, what I see now is all the places Luna is not.

Her favorite place to nap next to my office.  The gate was to stop her from hiding in the basement behind the furnace when she got older.  She claimed it as her own and liked to sleep with her head resting across the bars.  When the treadmill was in the basement, she'd often sleep with her head on the base bars there instead.

Her auto water bowl.  Toward the end she drank a lot of water and sometimes couldn't seem to quit unless someone asked her to take a break.

Her kennel where she slept.  Sans comfortable blankets and towels.  Those are all her favorite 'ducks'.  Whenever someone new would show up, she'd haul one out to show them and hope for some play time.  There are some fun photos of her trying to get a burnt pancake off the top of the cage which was a game for a while. I think Luna was sad when I quit burning pancakes.

The neighbor's house, right outside my office window.  When we took her over to play in the yard she'd sit by the entrance and just quiver until she got the go-ahead.  Then she'd take off for the far side of the yard at full tilt, only deviating if she could find a squirrel or bird to chase.

The crooked back door where she liked to sit, enjoy the sunshine, and watch the birds, the squirrels, and the neighbors working in their yard.  That's her nose goo all over the window.  It's still there - we haven't washed it yet.  That'll feel like really letting go.  More so than putting away her bed.

One of her favorite spots to sun in the neighbor's yard and stare down squirrels.

The tree she was obsessed with toward the end after she realized it was squirrel central where the squirrels moved between Ted's house and Ty and Alexa's house.  She'd sit under there in the leaves and stare them down.  There was a day not so long ago I posted to FB about whether anyone had seen her because I couldn't find her and I thought she'd gotten lose and taken off.  Instead, she was in the leaves under the tree ignoring me.  This is where we buried a bunch of Luna's ashes.

A photo I don't think I posted for my family anywhere else from when Luna was just a puppy.

One of my favorite days with Luna, out for a walk in the snow.  She loved the snow and would bury her face and almost whole body in the snow banks.  She never felt it was a good excuse not to spend time next door.  I think she'd have pulled a Jack Nicholson in the hedge maze and been grinning as she froze.

Thank you for being a good dog, Luna.  You made A happy and that would have been enough.  But you made us all happy and gave us many great memories.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Gameholecon 2022 - Day 3 and 4

Aeryn and I have a tradition of going to Mickie's Dairy for breakfast every Gameholecon.  This year there was a big game scheduled for Sunday.  Can you tell?  There are a LOT of people in red in this photo you can't see.  It's like an iceberg.  They got rid of the banana monkey.  That was the first thing we noticed.  You can see it in an old set of GHC photos.


Aeryn and I played One Night Ultimate Werewolf on Sunday morning.  Definitely a younger crowd, although the guy to my left was roughly my age.  But the three people to the right you can't see are closer in age to those you can.  We played....thirteen games.  I think they played even more after we left to find a bathroom and some food.  With all those roles, it was a little tough at times.  Once there was some confusion about who was outing who as the werewolf and I commented to Aeryn, "I think they're just not certain about the rules in this case."  I was right.  In their defense, I got the doppelganger wrong when I played that role.  I acted like I truly believed I was who I'd taken a peek at when it was my turn to snoop around.
We hung out at the game library for a while and played Santorini.  Aeryn mopped the floor with my twice.  I am definitely out of practice.  I could see the loss coming and still couldn't rally.

 Aeryn played The Quacks of Quedlinberg and had a good time.

I played Munchkin Panic while Aeryn was at lunch.  I don't think this is a great game.  I prefer the standard Castle Panic, whereas this one is much more competitive.  Although you still have an everyone loses condition.  There's a card where you can kill a castle section yourself for victory points.  Three people availed themselves of it.  So mean.  Not that it mattered - I'm pretty sure we would have lost anyway, although it might have bought us a few turns.  Once those two hits to kill monsters get inside the castle, you don't have the advantage of the castle killing them off organically.  I enjoyed playing with the couple on the right.  Competitive, but really fun.  The guy to the left of me kept getting louder and louder and yelling more directions as it became obvious we were going to lose.  Him...not so much.  I do like the mix of castle cards and treasure cards in Munchkin Panic.  That's a nice change.
There's always a scratch and dent area at the sales tables.  It wasn't as good this year.  Although this copy of Kitsune of Foxes and Fools was still there from last year.  If everyone pays attention to boardgamegeek reviews, it will still be there when the apocalypse assures there are no more Gameholecons.  The Power Grid maps guy who has been there every year we've gone wasn't there this year.  Last year I attempted to buy a Power Grid map for Korea, but it's the only one that's sold out everywhere.  Now I'll never get a copy.  I did find Aeryn a copy of Doctor Who: The Card Game with the Twelfth Doctor expansion at half price.  I knew it wasn't supposed to be a good game, but I trust Aeryn will modify it to make it something more interesting.

Troyes was my favorite game of the con. I picked up a spot at the table last minute because I had a gap where I'd found Aeryn a game, but not myself.  I think those last minute adds have always been some of my favorites.  After a rocky start figuring it out, I got in the groove.  I like the mechanism where you can steal dice from other players [effectively their workers, soldiers, scholars] to use for your own sets.  There's a good mix of communal events costing everyone resources that make you have to weigh your choices about what you can live with.  Reminds me a little of Champions of Midgard in that respect, but the player interactions are taken up a notch, which I really appreciated.  I'd give it an 8/10, although part of that might have been playing a full set of four with a good group of gamers. I ordered myself a copy of this one.

We did get some gaming in at the house, so it wasn't only for sleeping.  Not as much fun without Ming there, but we made due.  Wingspan with Klund and Koleman and Aeryn.  I did not fare as well as the night before.  Lots of cards, but a brutal time trying to get food even with all the options.  Aeryn's better at this game then I am: lots of time playing it on Board Game Arena and Steam.
Me and Aeryn playing Calico.  I like Azul: Queen's Garden better, and they're somewhat similar, but it's definitely fun. I bought it for my wife from a game store over on Minnehaha Ave and we've played it once.  Aeryn and I played three times over two nights.  The last time we played with the full set of objectives rather than on learner mode.  You're trying to place tiles on your quilt with patterns and colors and then match those patterns and colors to the objective tiles. You can overlap patterns and colors and each objective can get extra points for both conditions.  Enough of a pattern in a row, attract a cat.  Enough colors near each other, attach a button. Get all the buttons, get a rainbow button.  That's pretty much the whole game.  Makes my head hurt.  Aeryn is very good at it.
More Calico.  Aeryn's Flumph isn't playing.  We went to two design events on Saturday and Sunday, per the last post.  "Monster Creation" and "Worldbuilding".  I was disappointed there were no women on the panel, but they were interesting.  My takeaway from Monster Creation...if you're doing it professionally, there's a lot more math involved to standardize the monster against the system then I would have imagined.  My take away from worldbuilding...sometimes the weird unanswered questions are really useful.  One panelist mentioned a story where knights threw something away they didn't want to be found dead with before going into battle.  A knight throwing something aside is mentioned.  But never what.  It creates a thread someone else can fill.  Even the author said he didn't know what had been thrown away.


Klund, Koleman, and me playing Roam.  My last game of the event [the next morning was one of the seminars, although we've played games before we leave before].  I love Roam...a fast game with a placement mechanism a little like Tetris with the players having different vantages on the board.  I was probably a bit too sleepy to be playing at that point.

The next day, we left for home and stopped at Osseo, Wisconsin for pie.  There's a brand new board game shop on main street, Boards and Bricks.  An amazing array of games.  Aeryn found a copy of Ticket to Ride Japan [and Italy] and got a discount.  Really excited because the roommate loves Japan and loves Ticket to Ride.  The bullet trains make it extra classy.

Overall: not my best Gameholecon.  I think I needed more new games, tbh.  But I learned a few I really liked, had a lot of fun with Aeryn, and didn't have a bad experience at any point, and I'm not sure I can say that about past Cons.  After all, play enough games, and you'll get a bad table.  It's like work teams in some ways, but concentrated.  A lot of different cultures in miniature in a short period of time.  I did like the relaxed pace.  I definitely didn't feel rushed.  And, props for bringing an apple and orange so I could eat some fruit.  A good lesson for future gaming events.

Gameholecon 2022 - Day 1 and 2

Last year Aeryn and I got a great start on GHC2021 and left early on Thursday.  This year, Aeryn had a midterm that was inescapable and didn't finish until almost 6:30 p.m.  So by the time we were all packed up and finished with dinner at Blue Door, we weren't on our way until 7:30 p.m.  Madison is roughly a four hour trip, so we rolled in just before midnight.  I know there are sometimes games that are running that late, but we were knackered after the drive in the dark.  So it was straight to bed at the Air BnB.  Klund did the house procurement again, which generally means we're going to have something with a bit of character.  He did not disappoint.  It almost looked handmade.  I swear I wouldn't want to be particularly heavy if I was on that upper floor.  The wood was slot planks.  What you usually think of as finishing for a ceiling, not the full floor surface.  There's a sauna tucked up there behind the fireplace and projector televisions in the bedrooms.  But we didn't really use any of that because GHC chews up most of your time playing, not enjoying the accommodation extras.  Even in the hotels near the convention, most folks seem to be holed up in an RPG room rather than spending time in their rooms and you can almost always find a game already underway when you walk through in the morning.  Or that never ended.  Gamehole is generally too much gaming for just lounging about, even if this year was shortened for us in that department.

On to some gaming on Friday.  Aeryn had an 8:00 a.m. Kokopelli, a game they said they really liked and would definitely play again now that they've got one under their belt and know the strategy.  Me....I went for a walk. It didn't come into play as much this year as last year, but I've discovered if I manage to sneak in a few long walks, so I hit the 10000+ step range, I can game a lot longer and a lot better.  My mind just strategizes a bit better under those conditions.  I roused myself at about 5:30 a.m. each day to ensure I walked the neighborhood and got a good base going. There was a nice arboretum nearby, but it wasn't much fun in the dark.


My first game was Khora: Rise of an Empire.  I enjoyed it. I think I'd drop it firmly in the 7/10 rating.  Some good mechanics: you're basically trying to increase your culture, military, and religion [I'm definitely wrong in the nomenclature] capabilities which you use to increase the amount/reserve of each of those you have in separate pools.  You can then spend those 'collections' on grabbing achievements and collecting three similar tokens that allow you to increase your base or buy cards for effects/objectives.  The objectives give benefits of their own as well as potentially allowing you to earn a victory point multiplier end of game.  

Each turn you're rolling two dice [three if you get the right level] and then playing two of six action cards that are equal to or lower then your die rolls, although you can spend citizens to bridge the number gap.  There's one of the random aspects that I wasn't particularly keen on.  Bad rolls make it a bit of an uphill battle. And bad cards with lots of stipulations/costs can make your cards worth considerably less use than another player's cards.  It took me a few turns to realize as a player with more military than anyone else at the table I could leverage that to create a battle/attrition/restock loop to really start driving points.  But late in the game, when I could have paid for a level for my troops, and then increased a level for free by increasing my overall empire footprint, I reversed my action order and cost myself a level because I couldn't afford it as a second action, only a first.  It was definitely a matter of playing the actions in the wrong order and if I had played the game before, I think I'd have been experienced enough not to do that mistake.  I actually made two major action mistakes. I don't think I'd have beat our coach without them, she didn't make any missteps that I could see and had a much more well-balanced board, but I think I'd have been within a few points.


While I was at Khora, Aeryn was at Qwirkle. I was excited looking over because a table of no dudes is rare.  But apparently it was way too loud for Aeryn.  There was a lot of screaming of QWIRKLE that was headache inducing.  I think that's the best part about a slightly more 'complicated' game - everyone is spending all their time thinking and not making noise.  That blue thing in the foreground with seven legs, one of them placed a bit sus, is a Flumph from Dungeons and Dragons.  Cool fact, on Saturday we met the guy who created the Flumph, and the guy who created Forgotten Realms.  Dungeons and Dragons and roleplaying aren't a big part of our Gameholecon experience - almost no part of it at all since our disasterous experience at our first GHC, although we've had a session most Wednesdays since Covid lockdown - but we've been to some talks to learn from RPG and board game creators and hear how the industry works.


Fleet was a good game, although I wish the table covering had been blue like the ocean instead of red.  We played with an expansion that let us play six players at the table, and I suspect that's the absolute optimal number.  It made it much more interesting.  Not slow with that count though, as we could really do some things at the same time [like launch boats and play captains].  In general, you're bidding on fishing charters [worth victory points] and using those charters to launch matching boats, put captains on those boats, and using abilities on the charters to process your fish for money, keep them for points, or process them for additional cards in hand, which is a BIG driver [as captains can be face down cards, but that costs you a card].  Additionally, cards double as cash, so every action that takes a card out of your hand costs you.  There are some specialty charters for retiring captains for points, getting extra fish points, leaving boats at the marina for points, and more.  This is my hand.  I won by a point.  My tactic was cheap fishing - cod - and lots of it including even turning my wildcard boats into cod boats.  There were a couple of processing charters to make sure I could generate lots of cash and cards.  Toward the end, I knew the guy to my left was going to overtake me, so it became an issue of fishing out the ocean [cubes in box] to end the game early.  There are some other bits and pieces: there are boats with captains built in, but limitations, you can only have four fish on a boat, you get achievement points for first boat full of fish of a certain type, you can 'pass' and get some free money or victory points, etc.  I enjoyed this more than Khora.  Easily my second favorite game of the weekend at the Con tables.


Aeryn and I have always done a True Dungeon run.  We are so all about the single run that we don't even bother to parse our existing tokens for the game.  We just use what we have in that run and rely on the charity of strangers.  We are perpetual noobs.  Our team this year was wonderful.  Truly a joy.  We had an older experienced guy, a dad and his daughter on their second run in two days and two runs ever, and....the Fung Brothers.  The Fung bros are the sash-wearing, play a lot, probably drive their hobby on token sales and swaps, and there to have fun with others types.  You can picture them.  They looked exactly like the long haired hero or villain twin pair from a Shaw Brothers production. I don't particularly know if fighting long-haired twins exist in a particular Shaw Brothers movie, but once you think about it, you're pretty sure they must exist [LOL....yep, The Proud exists:].

I played a Dwarf Fighter this year and the Fungs leveled me up, gave me extra treasure draws, and made sure I had a better then average weapon and ranged weapon.  The hand weapon was a +3 turkey leg.  I liked the imagery.  Although I failed to get any crits outside of the practice zone.  Palpable hits, just not crits, would would have been optimal with my character.

The dwarf fighter has a taunt skill to haul attention away from weaker characters and I played it up a bit this year, accusing one enemy of having a smaller than average sword, another of not singing as well as a rubber duck [Aeryn told me 'that's mean'], and even mocking the animatronic/robotic monster by mimicking it. I told everyone to imagine I was a real dwarf because the effect was funnier than I could achieve at six foot two.  Aeryn played a druid, which involves memorizing lots of leaves.  I'm so glad no one makes me play spell casters.  We had an excellent run and in one of the puzzle areas the two teenagers [Aeryn and the other guy's daughter] powered through the math involved in a heart beat.  I think the more experienced guy with us actually felt a bit vestigial when they solved it so fast without the rest of us and took an action before we reasoned it out that hurt us so he could participate. But it didn't hurt much, and he was super nice when I bumped into him the rest of the con.  If I had to guess, he felt more I'm-old left out than I'm-masculine or I'm-experienced-at-this left out.  I know I did and I think I contributed the "those must be equivalent so you know where to start" observation first.

I will share one image that does not matter and creates no spoilers, a scroll from Nine Toes Tom.  I sent a photo to my dad to ask if he knows him because Dad only has nine fingers.  It certainly seems like Nine Toes Tom and Nine Fingers John would run in the same Nineteen [or less] Digits Guild.


Lunch was at Liberty nearby and this is actually a photo I took last year.  But it looked exactly the same.  I approve of their brisket chili and a beer for roughly what I'd spend at a food truck without the beer.  Aeryn leveraged my experience this year and ran over there to have fish and chips which seemed to be a big step up as far as they were concerned.  If you sit at the counter and sort of have your order and credit card ready, I think the turnaround time is all of half an hour so you can fit the walk and food between gaming events.

This cow statue, Miss Madison, is near the convention center. I passed it on one of those walks I mentioned.  I'm not sure why the marital status of the cow is a necessary detail.  Maybe Wisconsinites just gotta know.


Aeryn hung out with some of the LARPers and was excited about the win-a-match/win-ice-cream challenge, as they've attended and worked at Cardboard Camp since they were little.  They made sure the rules were obvious for people like me who are just flailers [sorry, I didn't take the challenge, so there's no video of me getting whacked over and over by an expert].


 Aeryn got to pick the competitor and he was gooooood.  Really good.  I think he was literally trying to wear Aeryn out dragging that match on and staying out of range.  The match lasted for what seemed like more than fifteen minutes.  And as someone who fenced for a few classes in community ed when he was first at the U of MN, that is exhausting.  It still stands out as one of the most tiring things I've ever done.  Aeryn lost, but it was really fun to watch.  Lot of banter.


 If you click into this one, it's a video of a very small portion of the match.

 GHC 2022 Aeryn Fights 

We had a shared Tumblin' Dice game end of day, but bailed.  The kid running it was related to the Quirkle lady and we've played with their family before.  It can be loud and confusing. Not a good end to a day if you're a bit worn out from a long drive the night before. Instead, we bugged out and headed over to the capitol square area [or whatever shape the capitol area is in Madison] for sushi and ramen.  Usually we go to Morris Ramen over there, but decided to try something different.  Probably a good move.  Morris was visible from Umami and had a crowd outside.  Not surprising.  Even when we went sort of out of band in previous years, it was pretty full.  I had the Shoyu chicken ramen with a spice bomb, that got hotter and hotter the deeper in the bowl I went, and Aeryn had a sushi bowl where the sashimi sat on the rice.  Good way to finish the day.  We headed back to the AirBnB to play some Wingspan and Calico while Klund and offspring hung with Kane at the Con.  But I'll post pictures of that tomorrow.