Archive for the ‘Seth Brown’ Category

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 3030Poetry.com, 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.

It’s a great time to be alive

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

To be fair, given that the only readily-accessible* option is usually death, it’s always a great time to be alive. But I have to say, I really enjoy living in the era of the free and open Internet. Obviously, previous generations didn’t have Internet at all, and between Verizon and SOPA and various other things threatening Net Neutrality and free access for all, it’s unclear whether the next few generations will share what we have now.

But just a minute ago I was thinking, the old green-eyed monster has reared its ugly head, and I wonder what would best fight it, and after discarding the Yankees**, I settled on a yellow power ring, and a quick search for “yellow power ring green lantern” brought me to the Wikipedia page for Sinestro, and then I link-hopped for a while until I reflected that it’s a glorious time to be alive.

Granted, I also enjoy the Internet because it lets me tell you that my comedy show on Friday went well, and point you to my latest boardgame review (Downfall of Pompeii), and my latest column which is about bus-riding veterans, and hey we’re approaching the holidays so it’s never too early to buy gift copies of From God To Verse.

But basically, I enjoy having the Internet, and so I think it’s a great time*** to be alive.


*Dude, Where’s My DeLorean?

**Who fight the Green Monster.

***2:04am

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.

Bean Beam Head

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Smashed my head on a support beam today. And it hurt quite a bit. I knew I should put something cold on it, but our icepack had gone missing, so I was left choosing between bags of frozen berries, frozen corn, and frozen edamame. I went with the edamame, although it does make me wonder if there’s a job as injury sommelier where you could pair frozen foods with injured body parts needing icing.

I was hoping this injury might get me writing my book, because my friend Tom had mentioned a neurological condition where people with head injuries start writing a lot. Alas, no such luck. But I suppose in a way I’m lucky it didn’t work out, otherwise there would be the temptation to give myself a concussion whenever I needed motivation. So I’m glad that my (still painful) head injury didn’t make me write anything.*

Previous to smashing my head, I wrote this column about marriage.

*Aside from this blogpost.**

**A discussion with Tom last week confirmed the opinion that my blogging last decade was more entertaining. I am going to try returning more to the form of random blather, and less self-promotion***, since the people who read my blog seem to prefer it.

***Buy my books!

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.

Legend of the Cipher: Released!

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Yes, it’s official: Legend of the Cipher - The Game of Hip-Hop is finally released to the public. This is the tabletop hip-hop deckbuilding game I’ve been working on for the past year. We had our grand release just a week ago, at PAX East, where many dozens of people sat down to try their hand at the game, and it was gratifying to note that almost all of them really enjoyed themselves. Many were delighted at the unique idea, as I had been a year ago when I first saw the game and decided to join up. So, the game is now available to purchase through the Game Crafter, a POD outfit.*

We’ve gotten just a touch of press after our first week of released game. A fellow who demoed the game wrote up a review about Legend of the Cipher at PAX East. Then AllHipHop.com wrote up an article about how Card game Legend of the Cipher teaches players how to win the real Rap Game. The video at the end of that article may or may not include a few brief clips of my terrible freestyles along with various players demoing the game. But the real joy was watching gamers who had never rapped in their life, go from being too afraid to rap, to rapping, in just minutes. I have no doubt that anyone playing this game regularly would become a much better freestyle rapper.**

Anyway, I’ll hope to have yet more updates about that later, but feel free to go buy the game now. Speaking of games, I recently reviewed Zen Garden on BGG. And speaking of things I write, this past month I’ve written two columns I’m quite pleased with, one about a Chrono Detective, and one that’s a simple Pope Quiz. And speaking of creative output***, I attended more poetry events, have upcoming comedy events, and hopefully will get back to writing my next book now that PAX is over.

*Technically, although fully playable, this is still a beta version, as we are hoping to gather enough demand to one day do a mass printing. But who knows when that will happen, and meanwhile this is the real deal, full color quality cards and all, and it’s pretty dang fun.

**Improv troupe members, take note.

***And speaking of weak segues…

The Games Afoot

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

February was a pretty full month for me, performance-wise. Pittsfield held their 10×10 Festival, which I participated in as much as I could, performing poems and stories for WordXWord at the Y Bar, performing some stand-up comedy as part of a comedy showcase put together by friend and fellow comedian Tom Lewis, and just earlier this afternoon, performing a full show of improvised mini-musicals with the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe. All in all, a pretty full and satisfying month*.

I also finally sat down to do some more game reviews, which I’d been too swamped** to do for a while. You may not remember my review of Rivals for Catan at About.com***, but their new expansion was just released, and I’ve got the first review up on BoardGameGeek for Rivals For Catan: Age of Enlightenment. I also had to put up a review of Path of Exile, not least of which because I can’t stop playing it. And this weekend I’ve been looking over the proofs for Legend of the Cipher, which I will be demoing at PAX East next month.

Meanwhile, with a marriage equality bill having passed the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and now in the Rhode Island Senate, my most recent column is titled “To Rhody, With Love”.

*Well, satisfying to live, anyway. Admittedly, reading about hilarious shows is a lot less fun than attending them. This is why people usually write about disasters; they’re much more fun to read about than attend.

**”Do you want to review this new black deck for Magic:The Gathering?” “No thanks, I’m too swamped as is.”

***But I suppose it’s commonplace not to remember things when you’ve never read them.

Frustration

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Well, that was a long post that my computer just ate. So, here’s the slightly shorter version.

WordXWord was an awesome week-long literary festival every August. It still is that, but it has now expanded to include exciting literary times in Pittsfield every Tuesday night. A poet friend of mine made it her new year’s resolution to attend these, and I have tagged along, and so far it has been awesome. We read poetry at some open mics, performed in a storytelling competition, and tonight she’s MCing an Invitational Slam for three of NYC’s top slam poets, and three Berkshire poets, of which I am one.

Work on Legend of the Cipher continues apace. I think after the latest round of playtests and revisions, the game is now something I’m very pleased with; it’s fun to play, offers some interesting choices, and moves along at a good clip. While I’d love to still squeeze in one more round of playtests and numbers tweaks before we go to print, I realize at some point you have to call a game done, and can’t be rebalancing forever. I’ll be running a demo booth at PAX East in March; more about that in a future post.

Aside from Legend of the Cipher, it’s been less board games and more video games for me of late. Path of Exile just released an open beta, a Diablo clone with FFVII-materia-inspired active skills, and an FFX-inspired passive skill grid of literally over 1,000 nodes (of which you can only have 100 or so), making all sorts of expansive choices.

You have choices too. You can read my column about How to Argue, or my column explaining why so many are Living in Denial.

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.