Can I give myself a Pobody award?

Who’s ready for a “dating” entry?

Contrary to how it may sound, I don’t date a lot. I love dating. I love consuming dating or relationship adjacent content. I love inserting myself vicariously into romantic situations and imagining how I’d deal with them. I think dating is this wondrous intersection of a ton of things I’m interested in. I’m fascinated by interpersonal connections and compatibility. I’m enthralled by banter, whether I’m in it or not. I like seeing people being playful, and dates are this combination of playfulness with having skin in the game. There are stakes, albeit quite low, and maybe it’s because those stakes are so low that I get sucked in. I don’t like competition, either as a participant or audience. I don’t believe in the concept of winning or losing in romance. There’s this hetero concept that shits me to the core of “taking” something from someone else in a date. Often it’s the idea of a guy “winning/earning” sex. That’s fucking dumb. Either you both want to have sex, or you don’t have it. If you’re not both into it, go get your rocks off with other people who want it. Sex doesn’t exist within a scarcity model. It’s not a limited resource, and stop treating it like it is.

It’s also easy for me to sit back and say that now. Ten years ago I had a completely different outlook. I think I was a virgin until I was about 20. I had limited experiences with sex, but basically after maybe one or two times in my first relationship, I didn’t have sex again for about three years. I wanted it, other people weren’t interested. Back then, I definitely thought the scarcity model existed. These days I’m older. I’ve had a ton more relationship experience. I’ve had exponentially more sex. It doesn’t feel like something that’s lacking, but more value added. Most importantly, I’ve been imbued with a renewed confidence that’s made dating so much easier. I’m on anti-depressants, and that’s been a massive change. I love my job, so I don’t have that mentally damaging psyche going on at all times. I like myself, I feel like a complete, self-possessed person, and it’s nice to see how I fit with others. I’m not trying to take anything from anyone, I just want to share experiences.

Tonight, for instance, I have a date. I’m excited. I have no idea how it’s gonna go. We met at an event, we flirted, made out and exchanged numbers. It might be a date that goes nowhere. It may lead to more dates. It may lead to sex but not more dates. It may lead to more dates and more sex. I’m not worried which it is. I know that I liked hanging out with her last time, that she’s cute and interesting. If we have a fun conversation, that’s great. If we have sex, that’s great too. If we don’t, and it turns out we were just hot for each other because we were drunk? Also 100% fine. We can have a nice meal, a margarita or two, and go our separate ways. I’m not invested in the outcome, other than being present and seeing what happens. It’s taken me many years, lots of anxiety, emotional breakdowns, and bad experiences in general to understand what the stakes are. Honestly, worst possible outcome at the moment is she gives me COVID-19. Bad end.

Also as an addendum to something I wrote yesterday. I was talking about having conversations with gay guys, and eventually dating them. I highlighted dating a Magic player as a possibility. Firstly, it’s not like only dudes play Magic. My first girlfriend did too. It’s how we met, and that part of the relationship was great. I also realised that while I’d love to date a Magic player, I have a legit fear of dating a Magic player who’s significantly worse than I am. That would be a fucking horrorshow. Imagine having to constantly explain shit about the game without being condescending? Imagine having to take the game slow, or teach someone about limited? Playing this game is a big part of my life, and making something I love into a chore would actually be a total nightmare. I would exponentially rather date a non-player than having to deal with experience inequality on that scale. I’m not defending this, but it’s 1000% true.

Nobody’s Nerfect, y’know?

Orange you glad I didn’t say ananas?

Watch your back, and don’t front on me now.

Did you know that it’s possible to make a mood ring style toilet seat? A friend commented that people probably wouldn’t stay on the seat long enough to get the full effect. I, a pooping connoisseur, was about to correct them, then realised that I don’t stay on the seat long enough. For a while I’ve known that when I go #2, the peeing part of the equation often takes longer than the alternative. I read a study recently whereby they found that most mammals, regardless of size, take about 20 seconds to empty their bladders. It’s probably safe to assume then, that I take less than 20 seconds to drop a dump. Just one or two pushes, and it all comes out. I know this is unusual, and I’m happy to consider it remarkable. It’s a skill. But it’s also buoyed by a high fibre diet and a few cups of coffee. While sitting on the toilet considering all this, I started to wonder if that would be a useful skill in an apocalyptic environment. It would definitely lessen the amount of time spent in a vulnerable position. Then I realised that since it’s partially attributable to coffee, I might not have the same capacity for quickness in that sort of scenario. Then I pondered if coffee would be a useful substance for a medieval army. Would it liven up battle weary warriors? Was coffee around in those days? If not coffee, were there other stimulants? Was snuff a thing? Is snuff even a stimulant? What is snuff, now that I think about it? Then I finished my poop.

The above ramblings brought to you by two big mugs o’ joe. And thanks to this reddit thread for answering my questions.

I must confess, I’m writing right now, but I want to be doing anything but writing. Nothing against y’all or this, but there are SO MANY great options for me right now:

  • It’s not warm outside, but the sun is bright and it’s a gorgeous day. I could be out there in my onesie or something.
  • There’s a big Magic tournament being broadcast, and there’s a ton of interesting stuff going on in the game at the moment.
  • I could even be playing Magic. The most recent limited format is amazing. I just had a match with someone that took over an hour, and it was down to the wire in almost every game. Tight matches, we were pretty evenly matched (in that we both made mistakes and strong plays). The games involved tiny incremental advantages and long game strategies. It was such a gripping match. I kept yelling out to my girlfriend (still wrapped up warm in bed) about how tight the twist and turns were. It was such a good game that honestly, I didn’t care who won. I just felt stoked to be enjoying the flow so much. I ended up taking the third and final game, and almost felt like I needed a cigarette at its summation. It’s times like these that I wish I could’ve actually chatted with my opponent to tell them how greatly I was enjoying our competition, and wished them a nice day. C’mon Wizards, give us a “Have a nice day” emote already, you cowards.
  • I haven’t eaten a ton today, and the kitchen is stocked with great food. We even have four types of cheese (five, including Cottage).
  • Twitter is filled with memes mocking Trump for his circular fake tan disaster photo. While usually I’m against teasing people about their appearance, I’m very fine with this instance for several reasons: Trump continuously punches down and shits on people for things out of their control. He demeans people because of the way they look, their weight or anything he can pick at. He’s a bitter, narcissistic and vain man who has no capacity for criticism. Better yet, he does his own makeup and does a terrible fucking job. Best of all, he’s obviously stewing as the world sits back and relentlessly mocks him. I know just how mad it will make him, and there’s little that makes me happier than the idea of Trump parading around throwing an infantile temper tantrum because he didn’t get his way.
  • I still haven’t watched Uncut Gems and I know just how anxious that film will make me. What better day to stay inside and let my organs tremble?

Well now I have the time to do all of that. Catch y’all on the flipside.

Don’t blame it on the sunlight, don’t blame it on the moonshine

Yesterday was an endlessly great day. So great that I’m gonna bullet point it all.

  • I got over eight hours of sleep. This was a biggie. Lately I’ve been struggling with having the requisite 40 winks. I’ve had maybe 30-35 at most. Yesterday I may have accumulated somewhere in the realms of 47 winks, and it was amazing. I practically bounded out of bed.
  • Coffee. We’ve been grinding our own coffee for a while now. My girlfriend had the bright idea to get it pre-ground and save us time on the other end. I was torn. There’s something vaguely romantic about grinding your own coffee. It keeps the beans fresher for longer, and it makes you feel like you’re contributing to the process. Thing is though, our grinder is shit. It takes 5-10 minutes in the morning, which is time that could be spent not grinding coffee. Turns out it’s actually incredibly handy, and we get through the beans quickly enough that they’re not gonna get stale anyway. A simple change that cumulatively will save a lot of time and effort. Good call.
  • I got to play Magic. I’ve been loving the new set. I’ve been doing particularly poorly in limited, but it’s very interactive and complex. I’m hoping to get better, and the only way is by learning the format more. I jammed a bunch of games yesterday, and it allowed me to try new archetypes. I’m seeing how different cards play, and starting to get a more nuanced understanding of different corner case scenarios. I made more than my fair share of mistakes, but hopefully they were burgeoning lessons.
  • A friend was trying out a gym and wanted a buddy. I biked there and back, which I figured was a decent workout in itself. We didn’t work out much, but we got to hang out and stretch. I did one or two sets after she left, then headed home. I even picked up my favourite oats on the way back.
  • I played even more Magic.
  • A friend was hosting a Fear Pong night, so I headed over. Fear Pong is some kickstarter combination of beer pong and truth or dare. There are dares underneath each cup. If your opponent gets your cup out, you can either do the dare, or drink. Each dare has a colour code that indicates how compromising it’ll be. It’s known for being messy, outrageous and fun. I think I’m gonna change tense, and that deserves a new bullet point.
  • Our group was pretty familiar, so some of the dares felt less extreme than others. They ranged dramatically in severity. Like, dares to drink your own urine and strip to your underwear had equal weighting. Most of us see each other naked on a regular basis, so those types of dares felt less risqué and more passé. I was fine with most dares, as long as they didn’t involve compromising somebody else. I wasn’t gonna call someone at nearly midnight just so I could ostensibly do better at a game. I’d much rather drink instead. The more extreme dares were removed. Nobody was gonna factory reset their phone or cut up their credit cards for the sake of a game. I intentionally brought my least favourite clothes in case they got ruined. New bullet point.
  • Highlights included: Someone got pied in the face, and the whipped cream went everywhere. I had to text an ex “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately”, and now we’re gonna hang out this week. My opponent had to swap around her top and bottom clothes, after she’d already shed her top layer. This resulted in her wearing a bikini as underwear (worked really well, actually) and her strappy knickers made for pseudo halter top. Honestly, it was a great look. There was a bathroom selfie turned new profile picture, a friend’s mum called and serenaded the room with “Drops of Jupiter”, I was ridden like a horse. Horseplay all around, in fact. Fun night, would play again.

I even ate pizza and drank moonshine. Is there such a thing as a better day?

Mostly for the bones these days

Y’know what? This entry is for me.

Pork bone stew tonight! I’m getting pork bone stew tonight! I’m sure none of y’all are as excited about this as I am, and that’s on you. I, myself, am utterly stoked. It’s been too long since I had that meaty, beautifully spiced mainstay of Korean cuisine from my favourite locale, but it’s cold as fuck and I want it. I’m an adult, and that’s my decision to make. If I’m gonna buy into capitalism, I may as well take advantage of it and follow my desires as they arise. Or at least the pork bone stew based ones. What’s the harm? It’s cheap and incredibly filling. I might even get two meals out of it. They tend to put it together with a ton of side dishes. What’s more, I can use the bones afterwards to buff up the next bone broth we make. Pork bone stew, the gift that keeps giving.

I’m getting the stew to go, because I’ve got a date with Twitch tonight. It’s the greatest time of the year in the online Magic the Gathering community: Cubemas. Let’s back step a little. In Magic there are a bunch of formats. Limited Magic means you’re opening a bunch of packs, choosing an individual card from each pack and making a deck from what you’ve chosen. The format is extremely high variance and skill testing. Not only do you need to know a bunch of deck archetypes, but you need to understand colour signals to read the draft and suss out which colours are open. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up with a stack of cards that barely fit together. Your deck will be sub par, and you’ll get run over. On the contrary, if you’re great at limited, you’ll end up with some amazing decks and run over others. I’m not great at limited, but I love watching skilled played. Which is where Twitch comes in. I’ve got a handful of players I regularly watch. Some of the best players in the world stream often, and you can watch live as they draft a deck, interacting with chat. It’s really cool to be able to ask questions in real time and learn the ‘why’ of what they’re choosing.

Cubemas is another step up entirely. A “cube” is a subset of cards deliberately chosen to be put together in rotation. They’re randomly assorted. You won’t see the same card twice. Often cubes tend to be higher powered than normal sets. Around Christmas, Wizards (the parent company) puts together a curated collection of some of the most powerful cards in the game. Accordingly, the decks people make are absurd. The potential for both success and failure are off the charts. Watching amazing players do insane things never ceases to be a good time, especially when they have the skill level to mess around and still do pretty well. I’ve got my pork bone stew, I’m almost home, and I can hardly wait.

Like I said, I’m almost home. I hardly have to.

A giant, troll and elf crab warrior walked into a gingerbread house…

I know things have been very JFL42 focused lately. It makes sense. That’s where my priorities have been at. That said, while I was making sure I could get out to my shows, there was a whole new Magic set released. So here’s one for anyone who’s into that.

Throne of Eldraine is a pretty neat set. I’m not entirely sure how powerful it is, but it’s fun, and the flavour quotient is through the roof. Despite my best intentions on getting the best possible EV out of my Magic Arena gems, I played two sealed pools. It’s a reasonably fast format. Both pools had more than adequate removal, but I was pulled into red each time. The obvious MVP from my first pool was Bonecrusher Giant. Of course it’s great. It’s a removal spell plus above rate body that fits into tempo plans. The less obvious MVP was Robber of the Rich, which I pulled in both pools. There’s a lot of keyword soup going on, which proves to be useful rather than cluttered. The reach didn’t make much sense to me outside of flavour reasons, but Robin Hood being an archer makes it feel worth it. It might be good enough for constructed. Notable is the fact that you can suicide him if you just want an extra card, or want to unlock something he’s previously pilfered. Very cool card.

But that’s not really what I’m super psyched to talk about today. Here’s the current standard deck I’ve got going:

Creatures (28)
4x Pelt Collector
4x Wildwood Tracker
4x Growth Chamber Guardian
2x Kraul Harpooner
3x Barkhide Troll
4x Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
1x Voracious Hydra
3x Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig
2x Nightpack Ambusher
1x Shifting Ceratops

Noncreature (9)
4x Giant Growth
3x Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
2x The Great Henge

Land (23)
1x Castle Garenbrig
1x Gingerbread Cabin
21x Forest

These are not the final numbers, this is what I could assemble with my limited rare wildcards. It wants more Voracious Hydra, it wants Questing Beast and Once Upon a Time. It wants the full alotment of Castle Garenbrig. That said, this deck is still putting up decent results. The Great Henge is The Real Deal. It’s like they took every value thing green likes to do and slapped them on one card. Most of the time in this deck it comes down for 5 mana, then lets you drop an instant Growth Chamber Guardian to gain 2 life, draw a card and chain up as many Guardians as you can get your hands on. If we still had our dearly departed Steel Leaf Champion, it would’ve been obscene. We don’t though, and there’s no use crying over it.

As the deck currently runs, it’s very quick and low to the ground. Yorvo was a card I assumed wouldn’t go as far as I wanted. Just something to eat removal. Thing is, it’s significantly above curve, and if it’s not handled it gets out of control. It’s especially good here because the 1 and 2 drops are so strong. Pelt Collector and Wildwood Tracker may as well be 2/2s for a single green mana. Syr Faren, the Hengehammer, really is the MVP though. The sheer quantity of damage this dude creates is unreal. I had a turn 3 kill with this deck. Turn 1 Pelt Collector, turn 2 Syr Faren, turn 3 double giant growth and turn my cards sideways. 20 damage exactly. If you’re on the draw, that’s one hell of a quick game.

Vivien Arkbow Ranger makes a ton of sense here. She gives some reach/removal, but the trample she grants is awesome. Either she’s pumping up Syr Faren so he can really deliver to ya, or giving your big friendly giant Yorvo the power to beat face with impunity. Or, y’know, keeping Growth Chamber Guardian stocks at the ready. Boy do I love that card. Mostly it’s just really fun to “sleeve” up giant growths again. They play a ton of roles, either representing 6 damage for a single mana with Syr Faren, saving creatures or clinching those games that’d otherwise be just out of reach. Once Upon a Time would really help the deck’s consistency, and allow you to increase your creature quality rather than density. My numbers of Castle Garenbrig are low because I simply don’t have the card, but in the meantime I’d consider swapping another forest for a Gingerbread Cabin. The food isn’t a lot, but it’s also not nothing.

Sometimes it is easy being green.

If I’m not getting my life back, y’all are coming down with me

Oh dear, I’ve been sucked back into Shandalar.

Let me explain. Shandalar is a Magic the Gathering video game from 1997. MtG has had many other video game properties since 1997. Battlegrounds was weird, real time stuff. Didn’t work. Duels of the Planeswalkers (later known as Magic: Duels) was okay, just straight games with a story mode and deck builder. Sometimes neat little bonuses. Then that got discontinued. Magic Arena has been amazing. It’s like a streamlined version of Magic Online. It’s colourful with cool effects. The UI is mostly pretty well done. It’s free to play with in game currency. They’re hunting for their white whales, and the rest of us plebs provide a player base for them to battle. It’s a working eco-system and a pretty huge deal for the future of Magic. I’ve spent innumerable hours in the past year on this game. I love it to bits. It’s not Shandalar.

Shandalar is my forever mistress. It’s hard to escape, because it’s so fucking fun. For people who haven’t played before, I figure I might give some tips. First of all, if you want to play on Windows 10, here’s a really good tutorial from streamer Gaby Spartz. It’s an old game, there’s some finagling required. Okay, the gist of Shandalar is that it’s a MtG based RPG. You wander around a world map battling cronies of evil wizards, building your deck up over time. Eventually you battle the wizards and save the land. Sometimes you’ll find dungeons, which have old cards very few of us get to play in real life. Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, etc. The game also features an ante system, which means you can lose your precious cards, or steal cards from opponents. The ante system, while heartbreaking in real life (and thus has been expunged from paper magic) actually makes the game really fucking exciting. You’ve got skin in the game, and you’ll feel super shitty losing a Mox Sapphire to some dork on a horse.

With that out of the way, here are some tips for the game:

  • Money. Money is a thing in this game. It helps you buy cards in towns, or from vendors. You can use it to buy food, which helps you keep a good speed walking around the map. Money is important.
  • Towns have different economies based on their size. It’s a good principle to buy cards you want from smaller towns. Or if something’s a good card in a small town, you might be able to flip it for more money at a larger town. Buy your food from small towns if you can.
  • Liquidate everything you’re not gonna use, and try to sell your more expensive cards at big cities. You’ll get a lot more for them.
  • Once you can consistently beat enemies, they’re a great source of revenue. Sometimes you’ll randomly get really powerful cards from them too.
  • Travel by roads. It’s faster and you can evade enemies.
  • The honest to god best thing about having money in this game is being able to pay off enemies instead of battling them when you’re trying to get around the world map. When you start out, your deck will be shite. A multi-coloured monstrosity. You can streamline it eventually. Before you do, however, your win loss rate will be pretty rough. If the choice comes between risking losing a good card to ante or paying 40 gold, the gold is well worth it. I mean, you’re in the game to play Magic and have fun, so do that too. Just don’t lose your key cards to errant druids.
  • The upside of paying people off is that it frees you up to do quests for towns. This will help you power up faster.
  • Quests: Take quests that give you mana links. Your life starts at eight or ten. Each mana link you get raises your life total permanently by one. Once you have 15-20 life, the game gets more reasonable and you’ll find yourself actually winning games.
  • Quests: At the start, do the dorky quests that just require you to take messages around in exchange for single amulets or mana links. When your deck gets good enough, you can start doing battle quests where you’ll get two or three amulets for defeating powerful enemies. It’s great. You can use these to buy new cards.
  • Amulet rates: Vendors sometimes sell cards by type and amulet colour. Rares cost three (very occasionally, four) amulets, uncommons cost two and commons are one. It’s a good idea to have multiples of three amulets whenever you open dialogue with a vendor. Once you choose to engage with a vendor, you won’t be able to engage with that same vendor again.
  • Contract from Below is in this game. It is fucking insane. Take a chance to play with it, because you’ll never, ever get a chance to play it in real life. The extra ante is irrelevant. If you’re drawing 7 cards for B, you’ll usually be winning that game.
  • There are different random locations that appear on the world map. Little mountain crags, sunken ships, graveyards, alabaster columns or little forest hovels. They’re random events, and usually have a more positive outcome than negative. Sometimes you’ll wander into a thieves den and they’ll steal half your amulets or gold. Mostly though, you’ll find cards, merchants who’ll sell cards for gold or amulets, or dungeon clues. Sometimes you’ll find a powerful monster with good spells up for grabs.
  • When you have a random encounter with a powerful monster, you usually don’t put cards up for ante. It’s risk free. You might as well take the battle and sell the cards, because otherwise the monster will just disappear for good.
  • Dungeons. Get dungeon clues so you know what you’re encountering. Life losses/gains are carried over between matches. There are dice that will give you a bonus of either extra life or a card to start with. You can accumulate life bonuses, but once you have something to start with, getting a new dice replaces that entirely, even if it’s another life bonus.
  • Dungeons, cont: The best practice in a dungeon is to entirely avoid battles if you can. Scope out every available hallway without taking dice if you’re able to. Leave dice scattered around, and once you have no choice but to battle someone (to get a treasure (which in this instance is always an amazing rare card)), collect dice until you have something good to start with. It’ll make the battle a lot easier.
  • You can run as few as 40 cards. Once you’re below 40, the game will start randomly adding in lands to your deck. Try to keep at 40-43 (in case you lose a battle out in the world and want to stay above 40 cards). You can run up to three of each card until later.
  • Worldmagics: There are a bunch of worldmagics. They’re not all created equal. The ones to get are:
  • The one that lets you walk through swamps faster.
  • The one that lets you walk through mountains faster.
  • The one that stops you consuming food when you’re walking through a forest.
  • The one that makes cities offer more cards for sale.
  • The one that lets you run up to four copies of each card in your deck.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: The one that makes the evil wizards require five conquered cities instead of three. It’ll give you so much more time

Speaking of time, that’s all I have right now. If you’re into Magic I implore you to check this game out. It’s sincerely amazing, and despite (or even because of) the graphics, it’s a riot. It’s very exciting, gripping, and I don’t think Wizards of the Coast will ever make another game like it. It’s not a lucrative enough system.

Happy casting, friends.

Well it ain’t sham-dalar

I’m swimming in spare time, but I did also drink a ton of coffee, so I’m very distractible (for a change). I want to get this done, so it’s a regular ol’ stream of consciousness deal.

Yesterday was great, today’s been great. I guess it’s hard to have a shitty time when you have regular four day weekends, but I haven’t gotten bored yet. Turns out there are other people with non-standard schedules. A bunch of them are my friends, too. It’s neat. I met a writer friend for brunch. We hadn’t caught up in ages, and tend to do a lot of JFL42 stuff together. She’s always a blast to hang with, and it was worthwhile comparing JFL42 must sees, etc. More importantly (because let’s be real), the food was awesome. As soon as I mentioned brunch she was like LEON WE’RE GOING TO DONNA’S FOR ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES. I didn’t argue. It worked out. The sandwich was incredible. The meat was succulent, and a lovely jalapeño spice pervaded each bite. There were crispy onions and soft, thinly sliced wedges of parsnip. It looked like cheese, but the texture was awesome. We had a pea salad on the side, which also featured solid quotients of both crunch and spice.

Then it turned out I was around the corner from another friend who I was gonna have a late lunch with. I biked a literal two minutes, and hung out at hers. We put on sunscreen, then headed out to walk the streets. Our goal was to hang in a park, and we did errands while we walked. She’s trying to learn Latin, so she picked up a copy of Winnie Ille Pu she’d booked from the library. I stopped by CAFE (a local pot shop) who’s been forced into weird sidewalk sales stuff by archaic provincial laws. I put an order in for a gram of indica (it’s been great for powering down and getting rest after late night work shifts) that I’d be able to pick up half an hour later, then we kept walking. I got some cash out, my friend bought a spinach pastry, she got a “Fat Mac” slice from Apiecalypse Now, and we lazed in Christie Pitts park. It was fucking great.

I have the rest of the day off, with zero commitments. I’m realistically gonna get pulled back into the world of Shandalar, a 1997 Magic the Gathering game that to this day is still the best MtG video game ever created. One of my favourite streamers Gaby Spartz plays it periodically, and it whets my appetite. The system is so old and clunky, and it features rules that’ve been long since updated in the card game. I’ve played the game so much that it’s a total nostalgia blast. It’s a fun RPG where you wandering the land trying to take down evil wizards and their cronies by battling them in a card game. There are elusive mythical cards you can find out of nowhere, and old ante rules means you can lose your top cards suddenly. It’s exciting, and a weirdly compelling game to view on Twitch.

Oh shit, she’s playing right now. I think I know what I’m doing this evening. See ya.

If you have an interim job in a bowling alley, would you call it tem-pin’ bowling?

I don’t normally think of Bowling as a drop in activity.

We tried, yesterday. We were walking out East with no particular designs on the day, when we stumbled upon a bowling alley. A simple sign advertising a bowl-o-rama or bowleria or whatever. We walked down the stairs into a small establishment, perhaps eight lanes. The music was loud, the lighting was cosmic. There was probably a kid’s birthday party going on. A mustachio’d gent who looked like he’d been churned through an algorithm to be the perfect bowl-o-runner (one who runs a bowl-o-rama, obviously. It’s in the name). Did you know that it costs about $20 for half an hour to rent a lane, and that shoe rental is $3? Did you realise that you could probably get a game finished in 30 minutes? Especially with two people. You could 100% throw down $13 and have a game of bowling out of nowhere. I haven’t gone bowling in years (the last time was part of a planned “low class date”), but it’s apparently more accessible than I thought. If I’m prepared to drop $5 on a coffee, $13 isn’t as much of a stretch for some good ol’ fashioned novelty entertainment.

Of course, for a ton of people bowling is a pretty regular activity. At least, movies have taught me that bowling leagues are commonplace, especially for dysfunctional men with a ball-and-chain mentality. I’m not one of them, so bowling rings in my mind as a mainstay of children’s parties. It’s funny to think of how subjective “regular” is. Our hobbies and interest help us find delight in the world, to meet other like-minded folks. I’m sure most would find the amount of time and brain space I devote to Magic the Gathering to be pretty weird. I’m one of them. But it gives me an area to focus on, and helps keep me engaged. To me, Magic is like an endless puzzle, with nigh infinite pieces (but realistically, over 18,000 unique ones. It’s actually relatively quantifiable). New sets are released on a regular schedule, which means constant recalibration and adjustment. Novel options arise to change decks that’ve held in their form for years. Archetypes shift, and the metagame is in a continual state of flux. I’m sure this is exciting for exactly me, and the hordes of players worldwide. I’ve found a niche I like, for others, that’s bowling.

I truly know nothing about the life of an avid bowler. Are there variations in strategy? Or is it all getting that technique honed to a fine point, then lather, rinse, repeat? Do people at high level ever make mistakes? Or do they dole out constant 300 point games? When you’re of such a calibre, where does the excitement come from? Are there hair trigger differences that can throw a match? Is ball technology important? Are there specific resins or chemical compounds that make for better balls? What role does superstition play? Or do players know that technique makes the difference, and superstition takes a backseat to physics? Are high level bowlers held with the same esteem we reserve for NBA players? Does the sport have legends, competitors who rose above and beyond? What of controversy? Is there a Tonya Harding of bowling? What of gender bias? Does the difference in ball sizes eliminate score differential between genders? Since everything’s turn based, does that mean women and men compete in the same leagues? Or is there still a massive disparity, like so many sports? Hell, what does an ideal bowling body look like? Would the Sports Illustrated Body Issue of a bowler have one massive arm? Are there specific body parts that get toned? Do they have super rigid wrists from keeping the ball aligned? Or are there surprisingly jacked back muscles that help send the ball straight and true? I have so many questions.

But I’m just a filthy casual who now thinks about drop ins. Will I ever learn who the Michael Jordan of bowling is? Have I ever had the impulse to know these things before?

Guess I should strike while the iron’s hot.

Tha Twitch does not kill. Makes you stronger

Had to do a little write up of something media related for a team meeting tomorrow. I decided to write about Twitch, because it took the least amount of effort and/or research. If you ever wanted to know a little more about the medium, here you go:

What is Twitch?

Twitch is an online streaming platform, primarily dominated by video games. At its most basic, Twitch allows viewers to log in and watch their favourite professional gamers just play games. There’s a chat function hardwired into the format, whereby viewers can actually start a dialogue with these notable personalities. Owned by Amazon (bought for $970M in 2014), it’s mostly ignored by the mainstream, but concurrently happens to have a steadily growing audience:

Who is Twitch?

Let’s look at some stats quickly.

Top 5 streamers with the most followers:
Ninja – 13.6M
shroud – 5.96M
Tfue – 5.22M
TSM_Myth – 4.92M
summit1g – 3.67M

Streamers with the most viewers (average concurrent past 30 days):
OverwatchLeague – 121K
Riot Games – 58.1K
shroud – 53.7K
CSRuHub – 47.2K
Tfue – 46.6K

Twitch streamers with the most channel views (all time):
Riot Games – 1,105M
ShadbaseMurderTV – 659M
Ninja – 426M
Sarladder1 – 397M
BeyondTheSummit – 386M

When is Twitch?

Always. Twitch doesn’t turn off. Individual streamer schedules vary, but the framework of Twitch is set up to reward networking. Like YouTube personalities, Twitch streamers typically build up interconnected rings/clans/groups for the purposes of mutual cross promotion. A streamer may be online for 5-8 hours, then handshake with another streamer at the conclusion of their broadcast. In short, they’re passing their audience onto a friend, a movie that seeks to keep the viewer on the platform, and can potentially bolster subscribers for each channel.

Not only is Twitch live, but it has a comprehensive VOD section to catch up on past broadcasts. Viewers can even submit clips from the stream, cataloguing highlights and virtually giving free promotion to streamers.

Where is Twitch?

The beauty of Twitch, is that the system is set up with a low barrier to entry. Most of the successful streamers are simply broadcasting from their bedrooms. The production values aren’t high. If you have a USB mic, a camera and maybe some basic lighting, you’re set to go. Having a “professional” operation is accessible, and there’s not much of a ceiling. Green screens and larger production elements aren’t verboten by any means, but as a young medium they have yet to become standard.

Why is Twitch?

You better believe that money is a big part of the equation when it comes to Twitch. First off, subscribers. Subscribers typically pay $5 a month, which translates into a base income for streamers. Not to be confused with Followers, Subscribers usually get some kind of token VIP advantages like custom emotes and whatnot. It’s more of a way for fans to support their favourite streamers as opposed to concrete perks. Donations are also a common part of the economy, whereby viewers will just donate to the streamer in question in any quantity (the largest donation I’ve seen on stream was $2000.00).

There are sponsorships galore, integrated advertising and uncapped marketing potential.
I’m not gonna argue that Twitch is the future of broadcast, but I think it’s worth considering the medium as a path that some broadcast could take. It’s community based, and lowers the barriers between talent and audience. Unlike standard broadcast models, it offers certain amounts of two-way communication with effective immediacy. It has a primarily younger audience, with opportunities for growth. It’s wildly customizable, and innovation is encouraged. At the same time, it’s rife for marketing opportunity. Drake famously did a drop in session with popular streamer Ninja, which opens up all kinds of promotional potential.Twitch, like any good social network medium worth its salt, collects personal information that it can 100% use for marketing purposes.

From a broadcasting perspective, a Twitch style broadcast allows for access to new and different markets. It’s a personality driven medium with incredibly low overheads and high potential. The Just Chatting category also hints at possible simultaneous directions for the format. It’s merely streamers holding court and chatting with their audience. Twitch itself is not revolutionary, but it is an emerging entertainment medium with a lot of untapped potential.

And yes, as a primarily Magic the Gathering viewer, that pun was intentional.

It’s on my skin, it’s not getting under it

I have a problem.

Which, of course, is unnecessary roughness. I don’t have a problem, issue, or even really concern. I’m just hungry. I want to leave the house and grab a meal with a friend, but I’ve had no bites over the past hour so I’ve taken matters into my own hands and done nothing about it. I’m not as hungry as I should be by now, which is weird. It’s past 2pm and so far I’ve eaten a banana and small amounts of kimchi. I also had a coffee. So eating would be smart, going out to eat would be easy and doing it with a friend would be fun. It’s some kind of holy trifecta. But that hasn’t happened.

It’s not a problem, as such, because I have a lot of food here. I could make a sandwich, warm up some frozen soup, make a dish with eggs, or even set up some elaborate but simple instant pot meal if I so desired. It’d be easy enough to make turkey burgers, or a kimchi omelette, or a rack of ribs. None of it is out of the question, but it’s not precisely what I want right now, so I’ve done none of it. Instead I’ve bemoaned my lack of plans, when I didn’t make any effort to plan things out ahead of time. I think that’s just causality.

To be clear, my lack of plans don’t equate to a catastrophe. I had no plans last night and somehow managed to cobble together an enjoyable enough, quiet night. It’s gotten to the point where the local Chinese takeaway guy knows my name over the phone, so I gave him a call and sussed out some cheap and cheerful post gym dinner. I tucked in while playing a bunch of Magic. I watched the new dumb Netflix dating show, which basically seems to take Master of None‘s “First Date” episode and expanded it into a series. In the early hours of the morning, it kid of morphed into more or less navel gazing. What would I say in this situation? How would I react to these suitors? Would any be people I’d want to date? How are they using non-diegetic sound and editing to shape my views on who I like? What’s their angle? It was fun and stupid, pretty much ideal for a lazy Friday night. Any of the above could work just as well for a Saturday.

But I do want an excuse to leave these four walls. I’ve been sorta housebound because of this annoying rash. I don’t need to stay at my abode, but I feel less inclined towards being outwardly social. It’s not a massive imposition, but I feel gross and iffy. My skin is itchy. I’m not certain yet if there’s a direct correlation, but it seems like if parts of my body get too hot/sweaty, the rash grows more prominent there. I’m sure it’s really not that bad, but on a personal level it’s making me less inclined to go out and do stuff in case it gets really bad. I don’t actually know how it’d go, but I get the sense that if I went out dancing or something else active, I’d look all polka dot by the end of it. I want to be able to hide away if need be, and resignedly lather my body in lotion like I’m working in a harem or shaping myself up to be someone’s skin suit. You know what? They can have it, rash and all.

Fuck it. I’m making a sandwich.