Indian Well Tennis

Last Friday night Stephanie and fought traffic up to Palm Springs to spend the weekend with my parents and watch the tennis tournament at Indian Wells. We had a lot of fun but got a little burnt out from being in the sun for a long time. We stayed at a cute little resort that had about 20 rooms and a 1960s flare about it.

While in Palm Spring we had some nice dinners but didn’t do much else as most of our time was spent at the tennis tournament. I did get to play some tennis with my dad and play Pandemic (boardgame) with my parents.

On Saturday we watched the mens’ semifinals where Ivan Ljubcic defeated Raphael Nadal in three sets and Andy Roddick defeated Robin Soderling in three sets. We then watched a little bit of the women’s doubles final before leaving. The matches were great and close and the area was interesting with lots of places to visit. The one problem was inbetween matches we went down for food at the same time as everyone else which resulted having to wait 45min in line. For some reason this did not occur the next day though we were ready for it.

On Sunday were the women’s and men’s finals. First Jelena Jankovic defeated Caroline Wozniacki in a quick two sets. After that Ivan Ljubcic defeated Andy Roddick in two sets but neither of them broke serve so it was 7-6, 7-6. By the end of that match we were all tired, sun burnt  and ready to leave.

Condor 2010 – epic fail

Last weekend was Condor, a small local scifi and fantasy convention that I went to last year with the specific purpose of pushing roleplaying and other games at the convention. For the past four months I’ve been hyping the gaming at this convention at meetups, on forums and other events. I got game masters together and had 17 games over three days prepared. Unfortunately, only two of those games got played and most of the players were bored GMs.

I showed at noon on Friday. The gaming room was packed with 6 to 8 tables each with five players playing RPGA (Dungeons and Dragons organized play) D&D games which continued throughout the weekend. I had one table for play and one for putting out events. My partner, Kevin, showed up about 30 minutes later and helped out. His first event was at 2pm and my Doctor Who game was at 6pm. No one showed up to either but I was expecting Friday to be slow and I had fun playing pick-up games of Three Dragon Ante, Pandemic, and Settlers of Catan.

Saturday I got there right at 9am when the first games were supposed to go off but still no sign-ups. Kevin and I did some demos for D&D to pass the time. 2pm was the core time and I had five games planned including a Battletech demo by a group who drove down from Orange County and Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games playtesting his new D&D spinoff game. I got the Battletech guys settled and got one sign up for Goodman’s D&D game. We managed to get all the GMs and one player into that game. In the evening we did the same with a Star Trek rpg while another GM and I played in pick-up games of Pandemic and Munchkin.

Sunday was much the same with us grabbing people for Goodman’s follow up game from Saturday. After that I was so frustrated and tired I left. I’m not sure what I did wrong if anything and am currently trying to decide if I should try again or give up because this certainly wasn’t fun for me nor do I think it helped gaming in San Diego in anyway. There is also some other people planning a full gaming con for April so I might help them.

Birthday and Orccon 2010

Last weekend I went up to LA for Orccon with some friends. This was my third Orccon and is now a tradition. Saturday featured some great games starting off with Leftover, a game written by Mike Olsen, a friend of mine. Leftover is a Post Apocalyptic setting caused by the rise of Cthulhu like creatures who rise up and destroy the world killing 90% of the planet. You play one of people who survived, a left over and one of the few ways to survive to combine with the smaller, minion like alien creatures who are still around. It is an awesome game with some great ideas and we had a ton of fun playing it.

Next game was Dirty Secrets, a noir game that is describe as having on player and everyone else is a GM. Essentially, one person plays the investigator (which I got to play) while everyone else takes turn setting up scenes for the investigator. It was a lot of fun and amazing how a great story resolved from the strange mechanics and ideas of everyone involved.

In the evening I ran Conspiracy X 2.0, and alien government conspiracy game similar to X-files. This went over really well and I did something a little different. Instead of having everyone play investigators (the traditional way to play ConX) I made two of the characters play the people be investigated. This went over really well causing a lot of non-lethal conflict between the players.
I didn’t get much sleep (I have terrible insomnia during these cons) and had to run the new Doctor Who rpg that morning. I ended up with seven players and it was difficult to keep everyone involved. Everyone seemed to have fun but I think it could have gone better.

Finally, I played in an 80’s style Vampire the Requiem game with a bunch of teenagers. The GM wanted a serious and dark game while the kids just wanted to have fun a goof around being a cool vampire. Not a great mix. I ended up being a mediator trying to encourage the kids’ creativity while maintaining the GMs feel.
On Monday was my birthday. I didn’t do anything except catch a cold which I am just now getting over. I did beat Final Fantasy VII, the first time I actually beat one of these games even though I’ve played them all.

A few weekends ago Stephanie took me out on a date night. We went whale watching. This was my third time whale watching and probably the best as we saw lots of whales. At one point they even came up about 20ft from the boat on the side we were standing. It was a lot of fun as I enjoy being out on the water.

After whale watching we went to a restaurant called Solare that was nice. The best thing about it was they had little tomatoes in the bread.

This last weekend I did another Dungeons and Dragons round table meetup that was just as successful as the first one. This time we charged $5 so it didn’t cost us anything and we were able to have a raffle for some nice dice. Everyone had a blast and it was good advertising for Condor con in late February in which I’m in charge of games.

Sonic Youth

Last Thursday I want to see Sonic Youth at the San Diego House of Blues. I had seen them once before when they opened for Pearl Jam a few years ago but I wasn’t able to get very close. When I saw them previously we had assigned seating and security would not allow me to pass a certain area even though maybe 10% of the crowd had shown up.

This time around the venue was much more intimate and we got right up to the stage. We stood through the opening band and then Sonic Youth came out. I must have been about ten feet from Thurston Moore (SY front man) and it was amazing. It is always cool to be close at any concert but for Sonic Youth it is a big deal as they do all kinds of crazy things to guitars including using a screwdriver, file, and violin bow.

They are also a fairly old band with most of the members pushing 50. However, I was surprised to find that most of the audience was around 20 making feel a little better about the following generation.

On another note I had a nice Christmas vacation. Stephanie and I didn’t do anything special. We stayed home or went to the movies during Christmas and New Years.

This Thanksgiving I went back to Las Cruces. I had a lot of fun spending the day with my parents and the evening with my estranged friend Adam. By estranged I mean that we were friends from the second grade (as well as being his best man at his first wedding) but when I moved to San Diego (in 2003) I didn’t tell him. The reasons are complicated but involve feeling guilty and the longer I waited the more guilty I became until finally I moved away. I later heard he was angry which made things worse.

We did not communicate for almost five years until I reached out to him through myspace. Things were smoothed over and we were friends on myspace/facebook and this Thanksgiving weekend we finally got to see each other again after six years. At first things were a little uncomfortable as we felt each other out but soon we were reminiscing about the past a lot I had forgotten. I had a lot of fun as we also played some video games and later Vampire the Eternal Struggle with Adam’s brother-in-law.

I also spent the day with my parents and ate a lot of great food from both old and new (to me) restaurants as well as catching a movie, playing some tennis and visiting a new national park on the Rio Grande.

Stephanie came down for two days and on Thanksgiving we hiked Aguirre Springs and then had a nice dinner with my parents and some of their friends. She then flew back on Friday (I stayed until Sunday).

Overall, a great Thanksgiving and I look forward to more great times with Adam. Hopefully I won’t have to wait another six years.

San Francisco

Over the past few days Stephanie and I went up to San Francisco to explore the city and hang out. We flew in Thursday afternoon and after and Bart trip and quick walk we were at the Hotel Mark Twain. The Hotel was really nice but was on the edge of the Tenderloin. We quickly discovered that if we walked down we went into the bad part of town but if we walked up we were in the shopping distract.

After getting checked in and relaxing for a bit we took a long walk to Haight/Ashbury area for dinner and to listen to a reading by Sarah Vowel who is a regular on the radio program “This American Life.”

On Friday we head out early to meet our friends Jonathan and Michelle for Alcatraz. The four of us headed over on the boat, hooked up to the portable listening device and got to explore and by explore I mean go where the man told us to.

Later Stephanie and I hopped on the Bart to Berkeley where we had lunch at Chez Panisse, a famous restaurant for foodies.

After the restaurant we met up with my parents and their old friends, Anne and Bill who I had known since I was six and can remember playing with their kids. We had a great time catching up, drinking beer and having all six of us squeeze into a medium sized sedan/taxi with Stephanie sitting on my lap and Anne on my dad’s. Anne couldn’t stop laughing and most of us were cracking up by the absurdity of the situation. Somehow we made it back to my parent hotel which was a short walk back to ours.

On Saturday we had breakfast with my parents. We then went to the farmers market at the Ferry Building. After we met up with Jonathan and Michelle to tour China Town and grab some Dim Sum for lunch. To completely wear us out we went to the SFMOMA, the modern art museum. After that we were exhausted and decided to stay in and watch baseball.

Sunday was geek day. Stephanie and I grabbed some breakfast and then we went our separate ways. I went down to Oakland where I met Jonathan and my other friend Erik (San Diegan who was working in San Francisco at the same, this trip was full of weird coincidences). We went to the big game store “End Game” and much gaming goodness was bought.

But that wasn’t enough for us so we headed down to Games of Berkeley and a third game store that I can’t remember the name. We then proceeded to beer and sandwiches and finished the geekiness off with a riveting game of Talisman.

After we had to bring the women back in so the three of us met up with Michelle and Stephanie at a pizzeria.

Overall a great trip. I recommend San Francisco to anyone, just walk up, not down.

Last weekend Stephanie and I went up to Temecula for the weekend for some wine-tasting. We stayed at the Temecula Creek Inn which was around $230 a night. The most either of us had spent on a hotel room and neither of us was impressed. The room was nice but nothing special. We could have easily got the equivalent at another hotel and probably for $100 less.

While up there we went to Old Town farmers market and had breakfast from a restaurant in San Diego that set up a tent there. Later we drove out to South Coast Wineries and used up a bunch of wine-tasting tickets that my parents left us from a previous trip. We had a nice lunch and bought a few bottles of wine. Apparently, Kenny G was playing there that night.

The evening was spent back in Old Town where we did some more wine/cheese tasting and then had dinner at a Mexican place. Overall, a great little weekend getaway.

During Labor Day weekend I went to Gateway gaming convention up in LA. I had a lot more fun than I did at the previous one. I started off with a game of Zombie Cinema and then ran my Song of Ice and Fire rpg which went really well. That evening was Heroquest which was ok but the GM ran a dungeon crawl with an open, not tactical system which I didn’t care for.

Sunday was all Spirit of the Century starting with me running a game with a time hopping pulp game. I than played in a planetary romance mars game which was a lot of fun as the GM played up the romance.

Gencon Indy 09

Last weekend I flew out to Indianapolis for Gencon, the biggest gaming convention in the world. I had gone to Gencon Socal for all four years it existed but had never been to Indy. My friend Andy and I flew out Wednesday and got to Indianapolis at 11:30 at night.

We got to our hotel and met up with our other friends Jonathan, Sam and Erik. The five of us got a few drinks and then headed to bed. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep well at all.

The next morning we got up and got a decent breakfast. My first game was Centuries Edge, a Victorian era independent game that had some interesting mechanics. The adventure was similar to Alice in Wonderland and was fun until the last hour where we got frustrated with trying to figure out what to do.

After that Andy and I got some lunch and then attended a Q&A on Geist, the new World of Darkness game that looks like a lot of fun. I then headed to my next game.

My last game was World of Darkness: Innocents and possibly the best game of the con. We played kids who were being babysat by an old Russian woman. The Russian woman tells us a story with the Russian dolls that fit into each other but the dolls’ eyes appear to be moving. The lights go out and the old lady goes to get some candles. A few minutes later we hear the sound of someone falling and the dolls have disappeared. It just got better from there. This game was especially fun because two of the players were actually kids (9 and 11 I think).

After dinner we went to True Dungeon. The props, mood, and puzzles were all top notch but I didn’t have a lot of fun. We managed to beat most of the challenges in under half the time it normally takes. This was mostly a result of having a guy who had bought hundreds of tokens and our friend Eric who was really good at the game and use to be a GM.

Friday morning I missed my first game but got to work my way through the dealers room. I only got through 3/4 as I had to run a game. The game was World of Darkness: Guess Who is Coming to Dinner. I have run this game three times and it went well and this time was no exception. I only had three players and had to call in a fourth but it still went well.

That night I met up with my friend Morgan from LA for food and he then ran a game of Spirit of the Century for us.

The next morning I had to run to my first game because I slept late. It was a two hour game of Starblazer Adventures. The GM took a long time setting up the game so not much happened and we didn’t really get a feel for the system. I also had to leave early because my next game took place right after.

The next game used something called the Conflict System and was a fairly standard rpg system. The players were all normal people who were all on the same bus. After the bus crashed we all headed to a strange town and discovered we had a destiny. To fulfill our destiny we must collect 7 different keys in the town and bring them to the head priest.

I had a one hour break and then headed to my last game of the evening, Changeling the Lost. I have been skeptical of this game since it came out and this adventure did nothing to change my opinion. However, we did have 7 players (too many) and the adventure was fairly dull.

On Sunday I finished my round of the dealers room. At the end we headed to Games on Demand, an area that has GMs ready to run independent rpgs. We got into a game of Houses of the Blooded which started out to be a lot of fun but Andy, Jonathan, and I had to leave to catch our flight.

Overall, a great time. I would definitely do it again.

Comic-Con 09

I almost didn’t go this year. Not from not wanting but when I went to buy tickets in April the 4-day, Friday, and Saturday tickets were sold out. Luckily I had a friend who hooked me up.

This year is probably one of the slowest comic-cons I have been to. I did my usual thing taking two half days on Thursday and Friday and then doing all of Saturday. Nothing really exciting happened and the panels I went to were mediocre and had long lines (had to wait 1:30 to get into the main Ballroom). I did get some great deals and had fun walking around the dealers room. I think my favorite parts were hanging out with friends after the con and gaming Saturday night with friends I don’t normally get to play with.

By Sunday I was completely exhausted so I didn’t go. Overall, a fun event as usual and to make sure I get my 4-day pass I bought my membership a year early at the con.