Day 212: GenCant

GenCant 2015 badge

GenCant 2015 badge

I stumbled on #GenCant earlier today — what a cool idea! This virtual get-together that runs during the same time as Gen Con, the tabletop gaming industry’s biggest convention, is for all us who Can’t make it to Gen Con.

What makes this online “convention” so fun is that there are actual prizes given away and you can even print your own badge (I’m using the one above). I can’t tell you how happy my inner geek is, especially since I’m doing game night tomorrow. Perfect timing for GenCant!

Here’s the history of GenCant from the official site:

“#GenCant started in 2014 on Twitter as Jason Paterson (@nakedmeeple,) Suzanne Sheldon (@425suzanne) and others were chatting enviously about all the Gen Con news in the social media sphere. One fateful Twitter exchange created the hashtag – and GenCant was born. Twitter gamers jumped in head first with enthusiasm by participating in the conversation, tweeting #GenCantContest photos, and donating prizes of all sorts. Soon the event had enough buzz that publishers and designers were asking how to get involved too.

  • GenCant is a community created and fueled event.
  • Call it an UnConvention, a Virtual Con, or Digital Gathering – just call it fun!
  • GenCant is intended to be something a bit fun for everyone who can’t attend the world’s biggest board gaming event, Gen Con.
  • GenCant is not intended as criticism or insult to Gen Con.”

I wonder if there’s a San Diego UnComic Con out there?

Day 211: Sushi Go!

Sushi Go (image from thegameaisle.com)

Sushi Go (image from thegameaisle.com)

Seeing all of the tweets from Gen Con has got me ready for game night here at the house. I may run a solo game of Pandemic before bed, but I wish there was a Sushi Go! single-player variant. My wife and I gave it a quick run-through to learn the basics and I loved it.

The graphics on the cards are uber-cute, from the salmon nigiri to the dessert puddings. I love the card-drafting mechanism; it’s easy to learn and the interaction with other players is always a good thing in my book.

I’ve read this elsewhere, but I’ll say it again here: I believe this physical interaction is what has been fueling the board game renaissance. Even though we have more ways now to communicate with each other, from Facebook to Snapchat to text messaging to the next technological breakthrough, we’ve lost the daily interactions that were a bigger part of our lives just 10 (5?) years ago.

I’m guilty of it as anyone. I always seem to be quicker to respond to a text or an e-mail. In a world of multi-tasking, it’s just easier to do it this way.

But board games require you to be in the moment. It’s not as much fun if you’re playing a game while someone’s on their smartphone or laptop. So the electronics stay off the table while we deal cards, roll dice, and move meeples around.

We’ll be running a bigger game of Sushi Go! soon, but just based on our little preview, I know it’ll be one of our go-to games on game night. It’ll be fun to disconnect from the electronics while connecting with our friends and families.

Day 210: Twice the Fun

Tusken Raiders

Tusken Raiders

My fantasy sports geekdom was born in the early ’90s when I started a rotisserie fantasy basketball league. Each week I bought the Wednesday edition of USA Today for its comprehensive NBA statistics. I calculated stats and typed up reports on my PC clone, then printed the results out on my dot-matrix printer. The amount of work was staggering.

Not surprisingly, that league lasted exactly one season (won by my youngest brother who made the no-brainer decision to draft Michael Jordan).

Even though I could’ve been permanently scarred by the fantasy-stats-by-hand experience, I wasn’t. If anything, it fueled my passion for the game during a time when information and advice was hard to come by.

I started small fantasy football leagues before joining a friend’s more established league. That led to my other brother starting our current fantasy football league in 1999. It amazes me that the same core group of friends and family will be starting our 16th season together.

Throughout the years, I’ve managed to play almost every fantasy sport out there: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, NASCAR, soccer … and, for one hilarious season, the XFL.

I joined multiple leagues in multiple sports for years before the inevitable burnout. About five years ago I began scaling back my fantasy sports play: one league per sport only. This year I didn’t get around to playing fantasy baseball and surprisingly I didn’t miss it at all.

But when a buddy of mine had an open spot in his auction draft keeper league, I didn’t hesitate. I’m looking forward to being in two leagues again, especially since I got to try out my new Star Wars themed team name, as shown above.

Day 209: Pop-Tart Milkshake

Slater's 50/50 Pop-Tart Milkshake

Slater’s 50/50 Pop-Tart Milkshake

We didn’t feel like cooking tonight, so my wife and I went to our local Slater’s 50/50 for dinner. Slater’s is a growing chain of restaurants that serve a “better” burger, with their famous 50/50 burger made up of half ground beef and half ground bacon. Yes, bacon! It’s something you should try at least once in your life.

I’ve had the 50/50 burger several times in the past, so I changed things up tonight. There was a special Test Kitchen Menu of not-yet-on-the-regular-menu items that I ordered from: Shmanimal Fries (basically, a fancier, bacony, and not-quite-as-good version of In-N-Out’s animal fries), Cheesesteak (meh; even the tri-tip used didn’t make up for a lackluster sandwich), and something I’ve never had before: the Strawberry Pop-Tart Milkshake pictured above.

The milkshake was good and worth trying, but it wasn’t mind-blowing like the Slater’s Maple Bacon Milkshake. Next time I go to Slater’s, I’ll stick with the ol’ reliable 50/50 and that Maple Bacon Milkshake.

Day 208: Christmas in July

7 Wonders and Sushi Go

7 Wonders and Sushi Go

Another family game night is coming up, so I decided to buy two new games: Sushi Go! and 7 Wonders. Both are card-drafting games and received excellent reviews from the board game blogs. I can’t wait to put them through the paces with family and friends.

Today the UPS guy delivered the Amazon package with the games one day ahead of schedule. It was exciting adding them to our modest-yet-growing games library. It was like Christmas in July.

Day 207: Good for the Soul Sunday

Running and Biking

Running and Biking

Here are two links that made my Sunday; both are focused on health and community:

  1. Mirna Valerio is changing the way we think about runners.
  2. The East Side Riders Bike Club helps those in need and does a lot of great work in the community. They’re halfway to their goal of purchasing new tools and equipment for the club at their gofundme page. Even if you don’t donate, be sure to watch the inspiring video about the club.

Day 206: Shakespeare in the Park

image

Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Here’s something that makes for an awesome date night: Shakespeare in the park.

Tonight’s play at Griffith Park was Romeo and Juliet. I liked how they incorporated a rock vibe to the play (with a live band, to boot). The actors were solid and it was an entertaining show.

What I love the most about Shakespeare in the park is that it’s not your typical theater-going crowd. People from all walks of life come to see The Bard’s work come to life. It’s great to see so many non-theater types enjoying a play written centuries ago.

Day 205: Tops Burgers

Tops' Chili Cheese Fries

Tops’ Chili Cheese Fries

Besides doughnuts, my one edible guilty pleasure is a big ol’ order of chili cheese fries. The best are always served at greasy spoons or old fast-food joints.

Tops Burger in Pasadena has been around for over 50 years. The restaurant is showing its age, but that’s part of its charm. I occasionally ate here in my youth when my waistline could afford the occasional indulgence.

Nowadays, it’s rare that I’ll grab an order, especially at Tops. The small is more than enough for two people and the large can probably feed an entire family. The other day I went with the junior (child) size and it was more than enough food for me.

I felt pretty good for restraining myself from ordering a larger size. That hasn’t always been the case at Tops.

 

Day 204: CONCACAF Gold Cup

Team USA's Gyasi Zardes

LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes representing the U.S.

Well, that was interesting. Not only did Jamaica upset the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals, but the Panama-Mexico match nearly ended in a riot. As much as I love The Beautiful Game, the ugliness of any sporting event marred by questionable refereeing and unruly fan behavior is something I’ll never appreciate.

Some of that ugliness was on display at the Galaxy-Barcelona game I attended two nights ago. On a beautiful Tuesday night in Pasadena, a sold-out crowd of over 93,000 filled the Rose Bowl to cheer for their teams. It was a remarkably pro-Barcelona audience, since Barca has the longer and more illustrious history.

Now, I’m all about supporting your club and being passionate and vocal. Unfortunately, some “fans” think of the games as an excuse to over-imbibe and act like an idiot. F-bombs filled the air, as did slurred speech and the occasional near-fight. I was embarrassed for them and felt bad for all of the parents who had to explain to their children why it’s not acceptable to act like a drunken buffoon in public.

As I commented to my stepdaughter, it was like being at a Raiders game.

(For the record, I’m a card-carrying member of the Raider Nation. Most of us diehard fans act responsibly, but it’s the unruly types who make the news. And truth be told, I’ve seen some bad behavior at the Raider games, especially when they were in Los Angeles.)

Day 203: Ube Flan Cupcake

Ube Flan Cupcake

Ube Flan Cupcake

This is my new favorite cupcake: ube with a leche flan topping. The last time I had an ube cupcake this tasty was from the now-defunct The Manila Machine. I’ve tried a few others since then, but Baked Dessert Bar’s was phenomenal. It wasn’t overwhemingly sweet, yet packed with flavor in every bite.

At today’s soft opening, my wife and I also ordered three macarons (Milo chocolate, salted caramel, and ube) that were all outstanding. We spent a total of $10 for the cupcake and macarons, which more than satisfied our sweet tooth. Normally I wouldn’t be too happy about paying so much for such a small amount of food, but I know how labor-intensive it is to make the macarons. For now, we’ll reserve our trips to Baked Dessert Bar for special occasions only.

Of course, I’ll be making up excuses for special occasions much more frequently.