Archive for the ‘Other publications’ Category

Everything Happens For A Reason

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Well, the world is filled with terrible things lately, which certainly are more terrible than my own personal terrible things, which in turn have nonetheless been sufficient to keep me from posting for a while. I do have a newish boardgame review up for the highly streamlined Caverna Cave vs. Cave, and here’s a recent column you might enjoy in honor of the late Andy Rooney.

I’ve been doing a few freestyle rap performances at the monthly Downstreet Art festival in town, with my final one coming at the end of this month. Meanwhilst, here is a poem I performed at an open mic tonight, which seems relevant given the numerous hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters currently underway:

“Everything Happens For A Reason”

That’s what they say
when tragedy strikes
When faced with horrors the likes
of which you’ve never seen
They will try to stay serene
and utter this atrocious treason:
“Everything happens for a reason.”

Pray tell then,
What reason requires the suffering of old men?
What reason requires dead bodies piled in stacks
from natural disasters and terrorist attacks?
What reason requires that a five-year old girl get cancer?
I’m pretty sure your answer
Involves something like “God has a plan”,

But, man,
In that case one of two things must be true:

1) You’ve got an omnipotent deity who
Only helps his flock, while other people feel his wrath.
Which, although biblically supported, makes him sound like a sociopath.

or 2) God had some sort of higher plan we cannot intuit
And giving cancer to a five-year-old girl was the easiest way to do it,
But an omnipotent god really ought to be able to do better.

Either way, please unsubscribe me from your newsletter,
Or at least, next time a tragedy chances to occur,
Please keep in mind that some of us prefer
To accept that some things happen with no reason provided,
Rather than be told, “This girl died because a malevolent deity decided.”

I Will Survive

Friday, March 24th, 2017

So, that election happened. And I went into hibernation* for the winter, in which I think I’m hardly alone. But, in spite of the snow, Spring is here, and it is a time for renewal** — at the very least, renewal of me posting on this blog occasionally. And while I could provide you with a litany of links to every game I’ve played and every article I’ve written this year, I’m going to stick with favorites. So.

My favorite column I’ve written so far this year was about food, which is totally my favorite thing to eat. As I would tell a chef named after the thing he prepares, “Hey Food, Don’t Make It Bad“. My favorite new boardgame of the year is the mightily epic The Colonists, which is like a worker placement game taken to the next level. And the videogame I’ve been playing most recently is the not-terribly-new Victor Vran, which is a Diablo-esque aRPG, but with nicely smooth combat.

In other news,  you may recall that early last year, I had co-written a musical with my old friend Sam Hammersley (and my new friend Thom Mesrobian). The musical was a Hamilton parody about Trump becoming president, it was the smash hit of the Orlando Fringe Festival last May, and if you’re wondering what such a thing would sound like, I can direct you to this YouTube clip of my favorite song.

Well, Sam and I have now recently finished writing a brand new musical which will be playing this May in Orlando’s Fringe Festival. This one is wholly original, rather than being a parody. But it makes up for it by having more puns than you have ever heard in a musical before. It is called “Punslingers”, I am very proud of it, and I will probably post about it again next month, so if you know anyone who might be near Orlando come May, you should tell them to plan to see our musical.

Meanwhilst, next weekend is the High Mud Comedy Festival here in North Adams, and even if I’m only performing at the aftershow rather than the main stage this year, it still should be a good time.

*Hibernation: For when it’s too much to Bear.

**Because I had nearly a dozen books out from the library, and couldn’t finish them all in 3 weeks.

If Your Election Lasts Longer Than 4 Hours, Seek Medical Attention

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I think most of us have presidential campaign fatigue by this point. Only a few weeks until the election. A while back, just after the first debate, my friend Samuel Hammersley and I made this rap video exhaustively summarizing all the major points from the debate:

2016 First Presidential Debate Rap-Up

Meanwhile my old house is still for sale (beautiful Victorian, under $65k, because I want to sell it NOW), and I am still quite interested in people paying me money for creativity and/or writing acumen. Need some web content, or a freelance editor, or a house? Ask me. Reasonable rates, 15 years of experience.*

Being funny is more difficult of late because it’s A Tough Time For Clowns. But while my comedy open mics of late may not be as well attended as I’d like, I’m still spending plenty of time gaming. Been playing more Innovation, which remains one of my favorite games ever, and have some new reviews up for games like Agricola: Family Edition and Edo. Video-game-wise, I’ve gotten back into Warframe, a free to play robot ninja game I used to play 2 years ago before quitting due to rampant connection issues. But the connection seems to be better, and the game makes you feel like a badass, which is a pleasant quality**.

Winter seems to be arriving with a vengeance. We’ve already had snow, and it’s not even November. I should probably stock up on instant miso soup.

*At the writing/editing, not at the house. Although I guess technically I moved into the house in 2003 and out in 2016, so I have 13 years of experience with that house.

**Unless you’re attempting to be a good mule or something.

April’s Foole

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Today is April 1. APRIL FOOL! It’s technically April 2. Unless you’re west of my time zone, in which case DOUBLE APRIL FOOL! It’s still April 1. I’m not sure how the holiday progressed to saying false things as a form of entertainment*, but I think eventually I get to the point where I’m saying things like, “I didn’t eat a lot of delicious soups last month or receive a lovely gift book about psycho-linguistics** - APRIL FOOL!”, and I think the form has overridden the function — just like dropping your taxes on the top row of your keyboard.

April is National Poetry Month, which means that I (as well as a few friends and a vast plethora of strangers) will be participating in the 30/30 poetry challenge to write a poem every day during April. Lots of people’s poems (including mine) will be posted at, brought to you by the fine folks who run WordXWord. If I write one I’m particularly pleased with, maybe I’ll post it here on this blog. I’m participating in a food-themed poetry slam in Great Barrington on April 19th, and last month I was honored to be named “Haikuster of the Year 2014″ after emerging victorious from the Rambling Poets Haiku Head to Head. Many of them were impromptu, and consequently I cannot recall them precisely, but one of them was something along the lines of:

marijuana fans
took over Colorado
with their own “high coup”

All this lovely poetry, but what about gaming? Well, I do mean to get back to working on my boardgame book, and thankfully we’ve finally started playing boardgames more regularly again. The newest review I have up is for Mad City, a quick little city-building game that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Still, my preferences tend more towards the epics***, which is why getting back to playing behemoths like Through the Ages and Caverna has been so much fun.

Oh, and although April is here now, it’s still not too late to read my column about The Ides of March.

*Although to be fair, that describes half of my career. Even if I’m usually more proud of the half that involves saying true things as a form of entertainment.

**Appropriate, since many people have mistaken me for a linguist or a psycho.

***This also holds true for opening packs in Hearthstone.

WordXWord Is Coming!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because my life already has enough mistakes.

Most recent mistake entertaining enough to blog?* Probably the other weekend where I was invited to a party where I was supposed to perform. We drove out to the correct town where we found that the GPS had no reception. We knew the name of our target street, and spent an hour driving in circles trying every road and even asking a few people for directions, all to no avail. We eventually left the town just to get GPS reception, then looked for the road, but when we returned to the road it was a dirt path so steep the car couldn’t get up it. So it was that we returned home defeated, and I emailed the hosts an apology, but got no reply… hopefully they don’t hate me for failing to show up.**

Anyway, while technically local little WordXWord events have been happening every Tuesday night for a while now, next week is the annual WordXWord Festival where talented poets and spoken word artists from around the country are brought in to perform, and the whole thing is free! If you are within striking distance of the Berkshires, this is a festival not to be missed. I am honored that this year not only will I be participating in the poetry and story slams, but have been asked to be part of the Encyclopedia Show, for which I have prepared a brand new piece about which I am pretty excited.

I am also excited about my hip underground rap song Moral Turpitude, to which you could listen. I entered a limerick contest based in Limerick Ireland, and became a finalist but was told to progress further I’d have to attend the contest in person. Still, huzzah for limericks in Limerick.*** My latest column is about the CBS/Time Warner dispute. And my rapping deckbuilding card game Legend of the Cipher continues to receive rave reviews. Perhaps you should give it a play.

*Keep in mind that’s a low bar. I have also blogged about my toenails. Well, if I hadn’t before, let’s make that retroactively true. It sure is annoying when you clip them over a trash can and then they fly all over the room only to be stepped on later and cut your feet. Okay, I’m done blogging about toenails now.

**After all, there are so many better reasons to hate me.

***I hope that lime rickeys are served,
As a drink that is clearly deserved.
As the anapest verse
May go from bad to worse,
But at least it will be well-preserved.

Nord by NordWest

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

So, I finally started playing Skyrim, and it is as awesome as everyone said it was. The spells are beautiful to watch, so I naturally chose to play a mage. Upon entering the first town, I saw a chicken running down the street and decided to flame-broil it. This apparently angered the surrounding townsfolk, who immediately set upon me with swords and axes, and killed me dead.*

Speaking of angry townsfolk, a lot of political things have been happening in the past few weeks. My only comment upon these at the moment is to suggest you read my latest column about nuanced political argument.

Finally, I was recently interviewed by famed poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, so if you would like to hear me read her an original poem, followed by a revelation, embarrassment, and stand-up comedy, all in the span of 10 minutes, you should listen to this episode of the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Podcast.

*Friend-suggested reasons for this reaction:
a) Medieval townsfolk live in exceedingly flammable dwellings, and naturally fear fire.
b) That chicken was the mayor, and the townsfolk don’t take kindly to people that try to cook Mayor McCluck.

Evidence of Absence

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I know, I know, one post a month really shouldn’t be asking too much. But there’s so much else going on, most of which provides either financial remuneration or personal satisfaction in the form of audience feedback.* And of late, I feel like this blog is more a list of interesting things I’m doing, and less an item on that list. Perhaps that accounts for my delay in updating it; it’s more fun to do interesting things than simply list them. Hmm…. maybe if I tried to list them in rhyme.

This is a thing I could have mentioned sooner,
You can now listen streaming to The Big Kahuna,
The Torrentz album of Foodcore Hip-Hop
So put The Big Cheese on repeat, and don’t stop.

Drop what you’re doing, speaking of good rappin’,
That gets your toes tappin’ and your fingers snappin’,
Legend of the Cipher game - don’t be nappin’
New interview, and news of what happened.

That’s been going on, now been related,
And my column, while not quite syndicated
May now appear on occasion in the Bennington Banner,
About penguins, facebook, and your weather planner.

Board-game-wise, I remain a giant dork.
New Review — Five Points: Gangs of New York
Been performing — stand-up comedy is fun,
And slams doing poems much better than this one.

…well, that was more enjoyable for me, but probably less so for you. Freestyles are never very exciting when written down. On the other hand, now you have lots of links to click on, so that’s fun, right? Hopefully another post within the next two weeks.

*Or personal dissatisfaction in the form of microphone feedback.

The End of National Poetry Month

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Yes, April was National Poetry Month. So, in addition to participating in a few local poetry slams and open mics, I once again signed up for WordXWord’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge, a site where I (and many other poets) produced a poem a day every day during April. It has been pointed out that if I were a capital-P Poet*, I would produce a poem a day every day all year round, or at least if I were a capital-W Writer, I would do some creative writing every day all year round. But as I oft lack this motivation, April was good for me to get me writing more often**.

Admittedly, maybe only half of those daily poems were of any substantial length, and I probably wrote about a dozen of them as haiku. But this isn’t always bad. Actually, one of my favorite poems came from a prompt where I spent a long time writing a poem, became frustrated with it, and threw the poem away, deciding to write a haiku about that instead, which I will share here:

sadly, a bow drawn
on a second fiddle string
sounds just like a whine

Other poems of mine (and many other poets as well) are available on the site linked above. Naturally, I have continued writing my column this month as well, and so if you would like to read about Laundry Day (and a terrible pun) or The Invention of Meals, I encourage you to do so.

On the gaming front, I’ve got a review up about Road Rally USA, which is a reasonable light racing game but not my cuppa. I’ve been playing more Innovation, which is totally my cuppa, and I continue to think it’s a brilliant game. And I tried a 4-player co-op video game called Monaco, which is basically like an 8-bit Oceans Eleven — or the way my group plays, a Keystone Cops meets the Four Stooges heist movie. Either way, pretty entertaining. And lest I forget, Legend of the Cipher continues to not get very much press, but people who try it tend to like it, and people who take a look tend to be intrigued, most recently the gamer geeks over at Shut Up & Sit Down, who mention it in their latest round-up.

Tonight, I am off to another story slam at WordXWord, where I will tell the audience about a weird food I ate this weekend***. And then tomorrow it will be May, a month where I haven’t signed up for any particular enumerated challenge, but should really try to write more regularly nonetheless.

*e.e.cummings, of course, never had to worry about such things.

**Not to mention bringing together an International community of poets. There’s something cool about having a random highschool student from Malaysia say that she liked your poetry.

***Which, oddly enough, was from Malaysia. What can I say, I like living in an international world where ideas, art, and food can be freely shared and exchanged.

Happy Holidays! Buy My Books!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Yes, I know, I should be assembling a more proper Holiday Gift Guide like I did in 2010 so you can buy stuff from my friends. But between empty Etsy storefronts and my own laziness, all I’ll do is point you to that link, rather than try to compile a new list for this year. By next year, there will be enough new products made by friends that I will make a new list. I promise.

Meanwhile, there are worse places to start for holiday gifts than my own books. You can click on the big heading above that says “Books” in fancy font (or HERE), and see summaries of all five. The newest, It Happened In Rhode Island, was officially released at the beginning of this month. It is a series of true stories about historical events that happened in Rhode Island.* These range temporally from the first settlers before the state was officially founded, to last year. They also range in seriousness from a Titanic-like tragedy, to Bob Dylan swapping his acoustic guitar for an electric one.

Naturally, my four other books remain available for purchase. From God To Verse is a line-by-line rhyming translation of the first five books of the Torah/Bible, making it a perfect holiday gift for your religious friends. Rhode Island Curiosities is not only filled with weird people, places, and things to see around Rhode Island, but also sprinkled with limericks and bad pun photo captions. Think You’re The Only One is a collection of sixty-odd profiles of odd groups, a perfect book to adorn your bathroom reading rack. And Shards is my first novel**, about a programmer turned artist, his comedian friend, and begins on an up note.

Anyway, enough hawking of my writing and asking you to pay for it. My columns I give you for free, so here’s last week’s impassioned plea to help defend America from The War On Thanksgiving. And this week I discuss the Hostess with the Leastess.

On the boardgame front, playing lots of new boardgames has taken a backseat to playing the classics overflowing my shelves, while I’m trying to improve the design of the game I’m working on, “Legend of the Cipher”***. It’s been a lifelong goal to design a game, and this one is pretty fun to play, so I hope sometime next year it will be ready to share with the world.

*(”My word,” you exclaim, “I would never have expected that from the title!”)

**And technically, only novel. But don’t let that cheapen it for you.

***I met the LotC team when they were showing off an early version of the game at PAX East. A bit of my cipher may have been caught on film at that point, but I’m not proud enough of it to link to that. Anyway, the important part is, now I’m on the team, and there’s no I in team, although there is an I in blathering.

2012 Presidential Debate…in Rhyme

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Yes, once again I decided to stay up all night after the debates and translate the entire thing into rhyme. I guess to some people that might seem like a ridiculous task, but honestly after spending a decade writing From God To Verse, an all-nighter spent translating a presidential debate is pretty much a lark for me. Granted, unlike GTV, this one is a summary and not a line-by-line translation, but I feel like I still hit all the important points.

Editor Bob Whitcomb, of the Providence Journal, was kind enough to post it on their New England blog, so I present:

2012 First Presidential Debate in Rhyme

Meanwhile, if you’re sick of politics even in rhyme, unlike the past few weeks, this week my column doesn’t mention anything political even once. It does, however, contain many bad jokes. So come receive your Punnish Mint.

Also, you may notice a new addition to my Books page. I’ll post a little more about that in a few weeks, since it’s not technically available for purchase yet, although there is currently a pre-order discount through that link for those of you who enjoy that sort of thing.

On the board game front, I’ve been chatting with some folks putting together a hip-hop-themed card game. As I’m joining their team somewhat belatedly, it’s unclear whether I will have a strong hand in redesigning the game, or simply wheedle my way into getting my own card, but either way I’m clearly the target demographic.