Summer 1985

In 1985, when I was 14, I traveled with a small company of Evita for about five weeks. Of the 25 men in the company, three were straight:: Juan Peron, Che, and myself. Juan and Che bunked together. I will admit to being freaked out when my roommate asked if I wanted to be on top — because, you know, he’d be drinking with the cast post-show and it would be easier and quieter if he didn’t have to climb the little ladder of the bunk bed we shared. I was 14, I grew up in the suburbs, and I was uncomfortable.

The cast members didn’t have to hide who they were, and they were awesome to me the whole time. We played board games, we talked about movies and current events (“Finally, they’re bringing back Coca-Cola Classic!”), and one guy cut my sister’s hair (“Go take a look and see what you think — we can always take more off, but it’s a bitch putting it back on”). I quickly came to understand there was no significant difference beyond age, which was the same difference I had with every adult I met. There was nothing to fear.

That summer set the standard for me, and I’m still grateful. I still think of Fred and Patrick and DC fondly, but I don’t know if the troupe ever considered the good they wound up doing by just being themselves. I also wonder where some of them are now. I remember reading the TIME cover story about AIDS in the green room. It was fresh and new and terrifying, and nobody really knew what to do about it.

But I cringe when I see homophobic people now, because they’re afraid of (and sometimes violently angry about) nothing, and they just haven’t gotten to know anybody different from themselves to demystify the whole thing.

2015

Facebook is the reason I haven’t been blogging much here. I think I should change that, because even though I look back at some of my angrier screeds and cringe, this is still the one and only space where I control everything. I don’t have to hope that my friends see it in their feed, you know? It’s here if you want it.

Anyway, 2015 is coming to a close and as always, I’m taking stock.

April was my one-year anniversary at Ubisoft, and it’s been an amazingly good fit. I still really like working there; I just need to do it a bit less, because as the year went on, I worked 10- and 11-hour days (not in a crunch time) with alarming frequency.

We finally got a house. Originally, Kat and I were hoping to go to Disney World for our 20th anniversary, but we thought more practically about that expenditure and realized we should get serious about owning our own place at last. Staying in my own four walls has been the best vacation ever (and we’re still surrounded by Disney stuff). We apparently had a lot of good house karma built up, because we found a place relatively quickly, had our offer accepted quickly, and got some key renovations done quickly too. It’s always a hassle and there were a lot of steps, but I feel very grateful that it went as smoothly as it did.

I didn’t get the next Palette-Swap Ninja project out this year, which I had hoped to do. Still working on that. It’s hard.

Mostly I want to take naps over the holiday. Hope your naps are happy too, if you celebrate naps.

On Being Willing To Learn…For Fun

I run Jeopardy games at PAX whenever I can. These are custom-built game shows in every sense of the word — handmade buzzers, bespoke software, and custom-created questions by and for the PAX attendees. It’s trivia, so it’s not all going to be stuff that you know immediately — but my question team and I take great pains trying to create content that geeks in attendance might be able to recall with a little hint or some mental effort.

This year at PAX Prime, after one of the questions went unanswered, a contestant (who passed an entrance exam before they were selected) complained, “But I wasn’t alive then!”  Continue reading On Being Willing To Learn…For Fun

How to Prepare for PAX

This originally appeared on the old 1oS blog, but I’m updating and reposting it here, as I think it might still be useful. 

Someone asked me if I had any advice on what they should expect when attending PAX, or how they should prepare for their first gamer convention. I do! And some of this advice is also good for any gaming or nerd gathering (SDCC, E3, etc) and some is specifically for the PAX culture. But I hope you find it all helpful.
Continue reading How to Prepare for PAX

The Tangerine Dream: Refinishing the Retronix R-800

I got a great deal on one of the first Retronix R-800s — the Korean-made models of J. Backlund‘s designs — thanks to Kickstarter. Fantastic look, very comfortable neck and body contours, trem bridge with coil-tapped humbuckers — extremely well built and designed for flexibility. The company even threw in a hardshell case as a surprise to backers, custom-fitted to the unusual shape.

The only thing that bugged me about it was the color. The Cobalt Blue turned out to be a lot darker than the prototype photo suggested — “blurple” at best, and to my eye, almost black unless sunlight was shining directly on it. I was really bummed, to the point where I considered selling it, but then realized maybe I should just have it refinished. And so…

Continue reading The Tangerine Dream: Refinishing the Retronix R-800

Operation House it Going: Welcome to Sunkist Manor

Kat and I have been slowly saving for a house for years. We have moved eight times — as our jobs and offices relocated, so did we — and each time, that sapped more of our savings. We aren’t wasteful; we have expensive interests like photography and guitars, and we generally believe in buying quality. So when we finally got serious about looking for a home this year — in honor of our impending 20th anniversary — I think we were in line for a little house karma.

And so, when we found a nice house in the Laurel Park neighborhood of Richmond, on the border of El Cerrito in the East Bay, we put in an offer and it was accepted in early May. A few weeks later, we had keys!

You may have noticed the house is bright orange. It came that way, a recent repaint. I am not going to change it. I love it. We call it Sunkist Manor. And it has an unusual history.  Continue reading Operation House it Going: Welcome to Sunkist Manor

Three Answers to Impossible Gaming Questions

I wrote this editorial back in 2011 for One of Swords and just found it again. Now that the sun has set on 1oS, I’d like to post it here in hopes it might do more good.


I get a lot of questions from gamers every day. I try to answer as many as I can with sourced facts or, failing that, honesty. Sometimes it’s simple stuff that the Customer Support team can handle without breaking a sweat. But if I don’t know the answer and I don’t have much hope of finding one, I’ll tell you so you don’t feel jerked around.  But I have noticed that there are three lines of questioning that I often cannot answer to anyone’s satisfaction. It’s not that I don’t have an answer, or even that an answer does not exist — it’s that the answer is either incomplete or simply not accepted by the person asking. So they ask again, hoping for a different answer that matches what they wanted to hear in the first place. And that doesn’t work out so well.

Here are the answers I have the most trouble explaining:
Continue reading Three Answers to Impossible Gaming Questions

Operation House It Going

For our impending 20th anniversary, Kat and I want to finally own our own home, so Operation House It Going is underway. We have a mortgage broker, a real estate agent, and excellent credit, but not enough money for a down payment. The SF Bay Area housing market is rough, but we are hoping to find a fixer-upper in the East Bay.

As a game reviewer for 15 of the last 20 years, I’ve been happy and grateful but never rich. Life also throws you financial curveballs, so our nest egg simply isn’t what we had hoped it would be. I’m probably going to sell my Les Paul to reach our goal, but there’s something else that might help, too.  Continue reading Operation House It Going

Dan’s tips for social media success

People have asked me if I plan to write a book about being a community manager and using social media to follow up Critical Path. Nope. Critical Path came from leveraging 15 years of experience, after which I thought I’d learned something valuable worth sharing. I’m still a newbie at community stuff.

But I can tell you the one thing that I know works wonders, but many people and brands get wrong. And I can sum it up in three words. Continue reading Dan’s tips for social media success

Every one of your stupid complaints about the Ghostbusters reboot, shot down in flames

So, new Ghostbusters project is finally getting off the ground. It’s a reboot with a female cast, from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.

Naturally, the internet lost its shit.

I saw a lot of moaning, criticisms, and prejudgments, and conveniently, most are summed up pretty neatly in this GeekTyrant article by Joey Paur. I generally like GeekTyrant’s coverage, but this particular post is as selfish and misguided as it gets. Let me break it down:  Continue reading Every one of your stupid complaints about the Ghostbusters reboot, shot down in flames