We start off with an intro to Relentless Geekery. You’re at episode 138 I hear you say, why would you do an intro now? Well, because it’s our podcast and we can do an intro whenever we want to. We also are going to see about other geek podcast playing our intro and we’ll play there’s. So when you hear other geek podcast people talking, that’s why.

We had a couple good weekends. Stephen got to meet some great people. First up was – MACGYVER! Absolutely the most influential show and character on his life. It was amazing and wonderful.

Then, he traveled to another festival – Scares that Care – and met Armin Shimerman (who has been on Discovered Wordsmiths) and also Jeff Strand. Jeff has become one of Stephen’s favorite authors and recently wrote the novelization to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (which is hilarious). Jeff will also be on Horror Lasagna soon.

Alan went to Fan Expo in Cleveland and did a well received talk about the multiverse. Of course he spent more moolah than he should, but it was all in support of artists and authors.

And he’s preparing to go to mind games and play a ton of new games.









Stephen: Hey, Alan. How are you? Good

Alan: morning. Doing fine, thank you. Got a little went to what now that we’re back on, zoom back with the backdrop and stuff, and there’s all these beautiful nature scenes to

Stephen: share yes. All right, before we get started on our topics, let’s do a quick little clip that I can cut out and trade with other podcasts geek podcasts and try and exchange audiences a bit, grow the reach a bit.

Okay. So I was just gonna do a little Hi, welcome. This is Relentless Geek Re I’m Steven. You’re Alan. And here’s some stuff we talk about and see where we go. If we don’t like it, we’ll redo it. Okay. Alright, so this is relentless geeky, Alan. Welcome. How are you?

Alan: Doing fine. Steven, how are you?

Stephen: I am good. So Steven and Alan, we do our relentless degree weekly and we talk about a few things. We made a list when we started. Alan, tell us some of those things we’ve talked about. Much

Alan: like the ever-growing list of, so here, we’ll geek it up right away. Yeah. While bagger the, infinitely prolonged in the hitchhikers guy at Trilogy said that he would insult the universe.

And when it was, of course, explained to him that with birth rates and such outrunning his ability to reach people, he just cocked eyebrow and said, A man can dream, can’t he? So we made this initial list of a huge outline of all the things that we should talk about because the realm of geekery and nerdom is big and wide.

And I think that we’ve added as many things to it as we’ve talked about. And of course, there’s an ever a neverending fountain of new geek coolness coming out in the world. Yes. We’re let’s say. Half done, but have added half again as much. Yes. And I gained whatever. I always had confidence that you and I would never run out of things to talk about Woo.

But the fact that the world has turned into this wonderful geek, ascendant place, we’ve talked about it. That things that used to be maybe you to yourself because they were a little odd. Now they’re celebrated. They’re the biggest movies coming out. They’re the best selling books.

They’re the best games. They’re the best of everything. And those, they coexist in a world full of sports and there’s other things that people are geeky about. And one of the ways in which Geekiness comes out is even if you’re a sports fanatic, if you’re one of the people that follows like the baseball abstract, then you find a way to pull out your spreadsheets and your statistical analysis and geek it up about that too.

Yes. On obscure statistics. So anyway, it

Stephen: We talk music, we talk specific bands, we talk comic books. We talk the movies based on comic books. We talk about books. We talk about favorite books. We talk about board games, video games, card games. We talk exactly using Zoom backgrounds and we get technical cuz we built a, so yeah, it’s a little bit of everything for everybody.

That’s right.

Alan: I love the fact that I don’t know, this is done in really pretty much we have a loose outline of what we’re gonna talk about, and then of course we digress. Most of the time we seem to get to a couple topics we talked about, but we just, there’s interesting things that make connections and that’s part of what we do.

Also make all those cool connections. And we’re both tech geeks. And so part of this has been an exercise in can you really do this, with the appropriate video capture the appropriate we net web web connections. We are 50 miles apart or something like that. And yet in near real time, there’s no stutter.

There’s no, you and I now,

Stephen: now that we figured out problems, use a vpn and

Alan: if anything, part of the joy of figuring it out is in real time. We’re not the only ones running into this. There’s all kinds of people everywhere in the world that with their home computers, with their phones, with everything having become social media and online while we figure it out, they’re like that’s how you do it.

We’ve been able to troubleshoot any number of things or talk about how ridiculous that when we wax nostalgic, some troubleshooting used to be ridiculous. I remember figuring out so sevener or, on an ibm m mainframe, and nowadays it just there’s all, there’s problems. They’re just at different kinds of problems.


Stephen: So we welcome everybody to come weekly and join us on our geek gathering

Alan: and talk practice. We won’t waste your time. You’ll learn something, you’ll have a lot of laughs. You’ll get all kinds of connections and leads as to what you should next read or watch or do or play or go. And that’s, I love it.

I love sharing all this geek reed that I’ve accumulated over the course of my life and there’s always cool new things coming down the pike. It’s very cool to be able to. I hardly think we’re taste makers yet, but I love, one of my favorite conversations is, tell me about the books and unless you told me about it, I might not discovered on my own, but it’s a great one.

And so books and new TV shows and whatever else it might be. And I think we. Do a lot of that, these are our favorites, but they’re not necessarily the best sellers, and it’s such a treasure to give that to each other and to give that to the world to say you gotta read, not to Harry Potter, but there’s other great series

Stephen: out there, and you’ve even said that people have told you that they listen and they make notes.

Oh, they talked about this. I’m gonna check those things out. Because we’re omnis like you say, and we’re everywhere. Sometimes we do so many things and talk about so many things.

Alan: That’s right. That’s right. Hey, join us. You know what I mean? Yes. We’re on every podcast accumulator. We think we’re an hour, but we almost always go over.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth it. For the

Stephen: Geeks Yes, it is. So what’s on our topics for today? Because I you were struggling to come up with anything to talk about the and Yes. That was a Lotus sarcasm. We have a list that, that we’re probably gonna have to,

Alan: one big thing was just this last weekend, you were at a couple cool conferences and conventions and stuff like that, so please share, yes.

The VR. Celebrity heroes, but and that they’re not just like celebrities. There’s some depth to celebrities most of the time.

Stephen: So I, I won’t go into the long story of the trials and tribulations driving. That’s always, got its own issues. But I will say, Where the hell are people in Washington DC going at 11 o’clock on a Saturday night that it’s busy.

It’s like wall to wall traffic. What, what is going on? I must have missed some concert or something. I, it was that’s all I’ll say about

Alan: that there, there are some cities that never sleep. LA Traffic, Chicago, New York, Washington, Baltimore. I don’t know. I guess there’s always a third shift.

There’s always great nightlife. Whatever it is, it’s there. Sure. Are a lot of people in some places and they’re all on the road with you. Yes.

Stephen: And it, I got worried because essentially where I was at, it was heading away from DC and I look over and the other side heading into DC had nobody, and I’m like, are we in the middle of the Independence Day movie?

Like everyone’s trying to get away. Evacuation. Yes. I was like, so the first thing I went to was Steel City Con down in Pittsburgh on Friday. Drove down to there close, pretty big con let me just say it was a good thing. I didn’t have a whole lot of time or a whole lot of money on me because just looking at the vendors in the booths, I’m like, oh man I would’ve lost so much money.

But what I went down there for was a rare treat, especially for me my boyhood hero idol that I still. Discuss and talk about given a hit. I still carry my Swiss Army knife with me, but I gotta see Richard Dean Anderson, MacGyver, I got his signature. Thank you. Very warm. Very warm man. Talked with everybody took a few moments and didn’t just, oh yeah, great, thank you.

And move on, soup

Alan: Nazi style where it’s just keep moving,

Stephen: kinda. Exactly. I wore my hockey jersey cuz I know he likes hockey and it had my name and my book name on it. He’s that’s pretty cool. What’s that? So he asked me about it and then I asked him about legend, the same thing I did with John Delane last year.

And he says, wow, thank you for asking about that one. He, he very cool

Alan: but short run series. And so it really, it’s a big fan that knows of it and that really talks about it as one

Stephen: of their favorites. Yes. So good for you. Okay. Yeah, so it was a short interaction and there was like 7 million people in line so that I know he doesn’t remember me specifically out of everybody.

But he gave everybody that feeling of, I’ll give you a moment of my time that you’re here and I appreciate it. So Wonderful. That was

Alan: great. I’m really sorry by the way that I, we didn’t arrange for me to get, a legend that the DVD set back into your hands. Cause, just, that would’ve been a fun thing to get signed as well, especially when he acknowledged, wow, people don’t ask me about that.


Stephen: It might have been, but it wasn’t that big a deal. If he comes back around, I go do it again I’ll go see him and have that signed. I told him, I, I said, I had the dvd, I should have brought it. But he wouldn’t sign the knives that, that was like, before he even showed up.

They said that. It was fun, but it was a four and a half hour wait. To get to see him. Yeah. Because he got there a little late. Not his fault, the plane and stuff. Okay. So that was the first one. So then I drove down to Virginia to a really good conference called author Con for Scares of that care.

And it was okay, all horror authors, some mix of fantasy and sci-fi and other stuff in there. But it was to raise money and awareness for cancer. And a lot of the money not a lot, a all the money go goes to some recipients that are battling cancer and they choose recipients each year. And so the ironic part I laughed about was all these vendors and authors are there for cancer awareness.

And after they got all set up, the first thing they did was go out and have a smoke break. So that was little ironic.

Alan: Addiction is strong enough to I guess that’s part of horror though, is that, it’s gonna be horrible and you go into the house anyway.

Stephen: So let me tell you, Alan, Yeah, I was in so much trouble because I’m walking around.

Every book looked fantastic

Alan: and your wallet is open. Okay.

Stephen: It was not healthy. I had to limit myself. I felt bad. I didn’t wanna talk to all the authors if I wasn’t gonna buy their stuff, but I felt bad ignoring ’em cuz you know, you get some that people know and they got a gathering and then you got the new ones with just one, maybe two books.

And they’re like, please, somebody come talk to me. And I’m like I can’t just buy everybody’s books. That doesn’t mean It’s three, $4,000 with everything here. I just can’t do that.

Alan: Hear you just had that, at the Cleveland fan expo, the ComicCon plus and Right. I talked to any number of authors that I mentioned.

I have a couple names I can hand off to you for the Undiscovered Wordsmith podcast. And I really, I talked to people not always with Compunction to buy, but I let them convince me, tell me about your book, and tell me about why this is different than every other book I could buy here and stuff.

And I really, I like when they’re passionate about their work, that they really understand what might be the appeal of it. Not just, I had a book in me and I had to get it out, it as a labor of love and I, it’s a book I wanted to read. So those are the kinds of things that convince me. I tend to.

First books in a series from all kinds of different authors. But once in a while someone has I am such a completist, a sadist that if they say the first book’s 15, but you can get all four for 50 instead of 60. It’s oh. So by only spending 50 bucks, I saved 10. Save 10.

Luckily, we are right now in a place where money is okay and. What place do I want to be more than helping out independent authors, really giving them a like right. Authors

Stephen: an

Alan: artist. I did indeed spend more money than I should have, but Colleen is wonderfully understanding.

It’s that I’m not out hitting the crack pipe. I’m bringing more books into the house. And I’ve only had a couple bad experiences where the guy was really convincing at a pulk con, if I remember right. And I bought like his entire six issue series because it was a doc savage world exploring adventurer type knockoff.

But then you find out that not only are they independent, but they’re like unedited. Some people, they just set it into an independently published book, but they didn’t have anybody like clean it up for them. And I hadn’t realized, because I’m so used to reading professionally done stuff right, that when you read stuff that really.

Terrible grammar, spelling, run on E, everything that could be wrong. It’s wow, you really, it sticks out idea here, but yeah, this is, you need to take the next step if you’re gonna sell this to the public because they have expectations. That’s one memorable one where it was like, oh, I don’t know that I’m gonna continue this series because I keep on getting flinchy over.

The more that’s just badly written.

Stephen: Yeah. A couple errors here and there. If it’s a good story, you keep going. Things happen. I, I will say, it’s funny you mentioned that because I was noticing that authors need to take note or get some coaching help. Maybe I, I honestly thought this is a service that could be needed because, You see some that’s set up and they have a really good looking booth, even if they have one or two books, right?

Then you have other guys set up where they have a pile of books and they’re sitting at an empty table and it looks like a stark wasteland, and you’re almost afraid. It’s why are you looking that way? I’m afraid to go get your books. It’s not

Alan: inviting, it’s not merchandise. It doesn’t have to be super slick, but at least has to be that you’re aware of.

You’ve got a thousand other people that are gonna be setting up with you. How are you gonna distinguish yourself? You know what I mean? It, I like it when they put some effort in Yes. To,

Stephen: to represent themselves yes, exactly. Okay. The other thing I noticed too was with, especially at a con like this where you don’t know the author and stuff, less is more.

I, if you call me over like a barker, Hey, come and check out my book, and I actually do engage you with it. I do not wanna be stuck for 20 minutes listening to you ramble about, oh, and then in chapter four, these guys really do this. And then I’m like, I don’t care. But at that point, I’m not getting your book because now I’m bored.

I don’t wanna know the whole story. That’s not convincing me to buy it and telling me cool things like, oh yeah, I’ve got a cool space pirate in here that has a one eye and a wooden leg. Okay, great. That’s not big deal. They

Alan: have to have their elevator pitch ready, if you’ve got somebody for a minute in an elevator, you need to be able to have crystallized, condensed your thing down into what’s the thing that in a minute you would be able to say, I wanna buy the book.

Yes. You know what I mean? Or a TED talk. If you’ve got 18 minutes to represent a big thought, a big cause, whatever else it might be, you have to be able to get in, make the point, do it convincingly, do it memorably, et cetera, et cetera. And maybe that’s, if people ramble in their speaking style, you wonder if they ramble in their writing style and stuff like that,

Stephen: yeah. And I know people get excited, but telling the detail if it’s not going to fit on the back of the book you’re telling them too much. People wanna read the story cuz they’re interested. There’s a famous, and I wish I could remember the author’s name, independent author, but he got big because his advertising was, would you kill your wife to save your daughter?

That was essentially it.

Alan: Variation on Sophie’s choice.

Stephen: Terrible memory. Exactly. Oh, okay. So those types of things are, lessons that authors need. It’s so why, why should I buy your book? What’s your book about? Oh, like mine, it’s a middle grade coming of age story about a young boy who wants magic.

And when an evil wizard challenges their town magician, he goes along to either discover his own magic or at least prove that guy is a fake. Okay. And that’s about all I really need. And then I’ll say, and for parents, teachers homeschool, I’ve got a study guide to go with it, and I’ve got words in the back and discussion questions.

Yeah. All that. So right there, that’s 20 seconds. If you’re not interested with. Then you’re not gonna care about the rest of it. Exactly.

Alan: Did we talk about this last time? One of the odd I don’t know why I get pleasure from this, but as I am pretty omnivorous, I love all kinds of kiri, and yet there’s certain things when you’re in the middle of this ocean of cool things, but not everything is cool to you.

You feel overwhelmed because of the possible damage to the wallet. Because if there’s only so much attention span you can get before you kinda go into overwhelm, it’s actually very interesting to walk up to a place and say they have a lot of tea based on fantasy novels. I don’t care about tea Voop and I walk past and I don’t wanna hurt their feelings.

I don’t wanna dismiss, oh, I almost always say, Hey, how you doing? Or something like that. But, Like reassuring to me that I’m not going to stop at every single place and give my valuable time and my valuable money to things that I don’t care about. An assure recreation. I don’t care. I really don’t like action figures that much.

So Funko pop and various other places that specialize in that, and a lot of anime and manga. I, what I’ve read, I liked, but it’s always. It isn’t my favorite. And so it’s kinda if I only have a certain amount of time, first sweep, I’m gonna hit the things that I really like. And if I don’t go back to it that’s just the way you have to winnow through life.

You know what I mean? The con, the little microcosm of life. You can’t pay attention to everything.

Stephen: And that goes back to experience a bit. This is a horror author convention, so all the books, pretty much all the authors wrote horror. If somebody’s walking in, they do like horror, so you don’t need.

Necessarily dwell and tell them about the horror in your book. They know it’s a horror book. You just, what’s the little selling point that they would wanna buy? Yours? Oh, it’s a pulp fiction style story with a detective. Just something little. How do you

Alan: differentiate yourself from all the other things that are

Stephen: here?

Okay. And I think part of that goes back to a lot of authors, especially new authors, haven’t defined who their buyer is. And they’ll say who’s interested? Who would be interested in your book? Oh everyone, no. If you say, if 1 0 1 says, yeah, if you say everyone, everybody knows you’re a new author and you’re eager and excited, but you haven’t studied enough there, you go to one your last.

So anyway, so then I went, I was down there for that. It was so good. And I went down to meet two people specifically and then have a workshop. One wa both of them were on my podcast before, and. One of them’s gonna be on the horror podcast with me and Reese coming up. I’ll tell you how that’s lasagna.

Ok. Sorry. Yes. Ok. So I went down there to meet Armon, Shimerman quirk among many other great acting in his career. Fantastic gentleman. He’s just the type that he would fit in at an RG and sit there chatting with people. He would go be perfect for that. So

Alan: I got due to the podcast.

And RG is a regional gathering. Yes. That thing that people do where people gather in a certain city, maybe a couple hundred of them, and they play games and talk and have free flowing food and drink, all that kind of stuff. Free flowing drink. You don’t want your food floating. Anyway,

Stephen: so I bought his trilogy.

Very good. Of course, I couldn’t just, oh, I’ll just buy the one book. It’s oh you have the trilogy in hardback in a slip cover,

Alan: in a slip case edition. I must have the box. I must,

Stephen: yes. So I got all three of them. He signed each book, wrote a little message, and each one, and signed the slip cover.

Yeah I’ll tell you about those. I will say this is extremely geeky for people, what the books are to summit all up it. Alternative historical fan fiction using Shakespeare characters.

Alan: Interesting. Yeah. So what happens like after out damn spot? What happens after Puck? Okay, very

Stephen: good.

The first word in the book is fu I say the Fu. So yeah. So there you go. That was tons and tons of fun. Then the other gentleman, I talked to him several times. I, when I walked by, if nobody was in line, I wasn’t interrupting anyone, I’d just walk up and say, so how you doing Armon?

Just chatting and he chatted, yeah. But even more important, I talked to the publisher. It was Jump master Press. They had a huge, like four booth display, all sorts of books. I got some free books because I bought a few more than just his. Okay, very good. But better yet, they remembered me and I went to a panel that Armen was on and I raised my hand for a question, and they called me by name afterwards.

I went, isn’t that satisfying

Alan: when, you know you’ve been doing this for how many decades? And that actually you’re memorable enough. And I love that. I love when people actually remember me.

Stephen: That’s how you do networking. It’s not run to everybody saying, Hey, buy my book. So I bought a few more things from them.

I got a steampunk, I got a crypted book, et cetera. But the gentleman I went down to see the most, and I got several of his books he recognized me, we chatted. Wonderful gentleman. Was Jeff Strand. Jeff Strand, okay. I was so excited because. We were born two days apart and he spent most of his high school career at Kent Roosevelt.

I was like, there’s a connection there. I love the books. Yeah. Yeah. So he was wonderful and be better yet we got a picture I sent him a copy yesterday. I said here’s the picture of us. I know you’ve been frantically hitting refresh on your email to get this, wondering where it’s at, and he responded with, oh, thank God you finally sent that.

My finger was starting to hurt. Exactly. But then he said, I expect to see you set up here next year, punk. That was Yeah.

Alan: And so forth. That’s why I thinking about if people wanna see that picture and they’re gonna go, who’s that guy with Steven?

Stephen: Yes. Tell em that. So then I ran into real quick, another guy in the I saw this and this is what got me.

Colack Fif the Night Stalker, 50th anniversary graphic novel. And I was like, okay, I love full tech. And then they the same, that’s very much go.

Alan: Very much the precursor to like X-files. Yes. And fringe and stuff like that. Yes. The monster of the week type thing. I don’t know that anybody had really done that before.

And that show first the movies, the Night Talker, the Night Strangler, and then the show. Were really good at creating that overarching set of characters, but a new menace each week, if you will. A new mystery, A better way to put it. Anyway. I love that show too. A lot.

Stephen: Very much the reason, there’s a bunch of books out from Moonstone so that, you know they can do, but that same guy also did this.

It’s the classic universal monsters with a whole bunch of authors that wrote short stories retelling fantastic. And I was like, I can’t set up. Wonderful. Wonderful. But better yet, real quick with that he wrote this book, James Aone, and I had already read this book before. I’m like, Hey, I know that book.

And then I was like, oh, crap, now I gotta get it. Okay.

Alan: I’ve not seen that one before. I’m, it’s funny. I really am by not haunting the comic book stores and getting my usual big boxes that I used to get from, m and m distributors. I’m I’m still aware of what’s going on at major publishers, but boy, there’s lots of cool stuff coming out and unless it’s like a Kickstarter project or I’m aware of, I, I really am not aware of everything in the field.

And there was a time when I really was, when I was encyclopedic and hardly anything was coming out that I didn’t know how it came to be, who’s the writer and artist

Stephen: and all that kind of stuff. This book, it’s interesting. A noirish mystery, but with a dead guy. And the funny thing is Kevin J.

Anderson, who you may recognize, he’s done Star Wars and a whole dune and stuff continuations. Exactly. Yeah. He wrote a similar book with a private eye. That’s a zombie. Okay. If you like that stuff, it’s there. So the last r real quick no, I forgot what I was gonna say. Oh. So I got karma points, and I’m gonna share this with you.

Cause I, it made me feel good and I’m like, yeah, this is the type of life to live, not. The mean and I talked to someone else about this. I’m like, yeah. So Cheryl Kenyon was there. She’s a fairly big name author. She was probably one of the bigger ones there, I would say.

Alan: Okay. I’ve seen her, books in the bookstore.

Exactly. Okay.

Stephen: Yeah she’s got a million and, very popular. Especially with like middle-aged women. She’s just that’s their thing. So they like romance


Stephen: What’s what? Supernatural romance. Yeah. Ok. Okay. So my ex Gina loves she Kenyon. Okay. And I wasn’t gonna buy a book to send her.

I don’t know what she has anymore, but I asked. I said, how much would you charge to do a phone call? And she said, nothing. I said, great. It’s for my ex-wife. I don’t know if she’ll answer. Hold on. And I texted her and later Gina did right back, she says okay, I’ll answer. So I called her and I said, hold on a second.

And handed it to Cheryl and I heard the conversation and she goes, hi honey, how you doing? And Gina’s I’m fine. Who is?

Alan: She’s wondering if this is like your new main

Stephen: squeeze wasn’t exactly. And she goes it’s she Kenon and Gina squealed. So she, they had it was like a five minute conversation.

I was like, holy crap. She just talked to her and stuff and then she gave me a whole bunch of stuff to send to Gina and all that. So I was like, you know what, Gina and I might not be talking and we might have had a rough go at the end. There were some good times, but what does it do me to say? Ha, she I’m, I get to see Cheryl Kenon and she didn’t.

Haha, right?

Alan: I met your favorite author, Nina. Nina, you know that

Stephen: Good for you. What does it do? So I felt good about that and got karma points, I think because of that. So it was a great con. I would love to be going back sometime and, some other ones like that. So that’s my whole, ooh, whole long ramble of the weekend there.

Alan: It almost sounds like it was packed with people, that’s I love when I get a chance to share those little stories of, hey, I met Mark Shepherd, who from Supernatural and various other things. And it’s very cool. I think I really, there’s something about meeting not only the stars, but the supporting cast people who have been like in 10 different things cuz they got the stories, they were there for every episode and they were there. They but they didn’t get it’s not only the same stories you’ll hear each time they were there observing the cool stuff, the fan interactions, the plot twist, whatever else it might be. And oftentimes they, they’re great rec on tours, it’s not only, I don’t know, maybe by being a supporting actor, you’re not as full of yourself. You’re very appreciative of the fact that it wasn’t your name on the marquee, but you enabled 50 good movies to be better than they would’ve been without you. That’s very, a very cool.

Stephen: There

Alan: was also documentaries that are about, that, about the BBB B Stars and they’ve had a 60 year career, so

Stephen: there was also a gentleman there that did a panel with Armon. His name was John Anderson, and he is done some smaller characters, but he’s been in guardians of the Galaxy too. He was in Stranger Things. He was in a couple other movies and he talked about it, and I asked him, I said, so what were the kids really like?

They’re millennial babies. They never were close to the eighties. How were they? He said, oh, they loved the eighties. They were totally into it as a retro thing. And they, they got coached very heavily to know what it was like, what the talk was like and all that. And he said, I don’t pick up a

Alan: phone.

How to, you know what I

Stephen: mean? He said, all those kids were very hardworking and very pleasant. And I’m like, yeah, that’s pretty cool. It’s just hope that as I get older it doesn’t go to their head and, yeah.

Alan: Wonderful. I also, that, that thing about cons I tend to not only like the biggest things, it’s very cool Ohio has really cool things like concoction and corn on the con and stuff like that, where they’re often fan run, they’re smaller, but that way you get a chance to like, not only do the booth shuffle, but like you have dinner afterwards, you’re all sitting around a table and everybody is just like goofing off.

And you find out just not who’s warm, who’s witty, who’s not just their public persona, but that they’re fans themselves. He is known for that, that he actually, like when he goes to San Comic-Con, he makes a point of often dressing in a costume concealing enough that it’s not the spectacle of, oh, I met Nathan Fillion.

He wants to have a chance to geek it up. Yeah. So does sorry, MythBusters why can’t I think of his name? Anyway, the guy the we just had him as a Mensa Gala dinner speaker. Isn’t this weird? I get the, yeah. I It’ll

Stephen: pop out. A Adam, no. Yes. Adam Savage.

Alan: Thank you. Yeah. Adam Savage.

I just, I like hearing about that and in fact, there’s something cool. Not only are are they often like supporting characters, but there really are people that seem to specialize in the geeky genres. So they’re in the fantasy things, the science fiction things, the horror things, they are comfortable with the plot types and the tropes and the characters and stuff like that. And so it’s you can have an entire career without having had to be in like the blockbusters, right? Or. Whatever, and like you said, with geeks being ascendant, especially if you’re like in Guardians of the Galaxy, that must be a great thing to have on your resume.

You know what I mean? Yeah. Yep. Even if you were just like thug number three or something like that, that John

Stephen: Anderson literally was like second guy in a coat or something like that was one of the characters. They not even the name. Yeah. So my next goal this year is, so a couple years ago I was going to go to a writer’s conference.

My buddy Jay was doing out in Colorado, and Mark LaFave, who is big in the indie world, you’ve probably never heard of him, but he has some books out. But he’s also one of the big guys in charge of drafted digital, one of the conglomerate publishing companies. He’s been on my podcast. I met him a little bit, so I’m able to send him an email.

He knows who I am and he replies well I mentioned that Hey, I get to see you out in Colorado. That’ll be awesome. He’s yeah, that will. And he knows I like Rush. He goes, have you had any of the Rush beer? I’m like, no. I didn’t know Rush made beer. He says, I’ll bring some and we’ll have some. I, hell yeah.

I’m gonna sit down and have some beer. He is I’ll invite my buddy, Kevin. Sure, no problem. Kevin J. Anderson is his buddy, and I’m like, oh my God, I’m going to sit down and have some rush beer with Mark LaFave and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m like I cannot speak. Then the conference got canceled, so that whole thing fell through.

Okay. But. Guess who’s going to be at Origins in June, down in Columbus, Kevin J. Anderson. And very cool. So I’m like, okay I’ve gotta go to that now. I’ve wanted to go to the game convention down there. It’s huge. And start seeing what companies are out there, what people are out there, what, cause I do have a couple games I’ve worked on, but they’re just kinda spinning their wheels. But I’m going to get so if you don’t know Kevin J. Anderson wrote co-wrote Clockwork Angels with Neil pt

Alan: is Neil Pier. If I wouldn’t be able to pick his name out. That’s cool. That’s a very yes.


Stephen: So I’ve got the comic.

Alan: I’ve never been to Origins, even though I’ve now been in 20 years.

Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. So I’m, and I’m going to get. A Clockwork Angels Hawaiian T-shirt or Hawaiian shirt to take down there and give to him. It’s that stupid little, oh, you’re the guy that gave me the Clockwork Angels shirt.

I’m sure lots of people give him stuff, but, so that’s my goal this year is to go meet Kevin J. Anderson and drop Mark’s name, even if Mark’s not

Alan: there. There we go. It, Colleen is about to retire. She’s retiring at the end of June, and it has, as compared to the world of, we get two, three weeks vacation and we’re, we, most of the time it’s let’s go to a hiking place and let’s go to a city and explore.

Let’s go visit my parents. So many of those things have shifted that now we’ll have all the time in the world. My, my parents consist now of my mom just 20 minutes away, so I can visit her often, but it’s not the need to make the family trip and catch up, if you will. And that’s nice

Stephen: for you. Yeah.

Alan: And once again we’re, because our tastes are relatively frugal, when you on a hiking vacation, You can do that for a couple thousand bucks. Not $15,000 to go to Australia, really do it right, or something like that. So we have, I’ve been re-exploring and with, especially with Covid, having finally gotten to a endemic instead of a pandemic level.

We we have comedy conventions we want to go to. Maybe, I had a pinball one a replay effects that doesn’t look like it’s going to recur. So I’m looking at where else can I go to get my pinball Jones, there’s a pinball museum so I can fly to Vegas and instead of going gambling, I’m gonna go over to the pinball place and have a buffet every night or something like that.

It, it, as we look into those kinds of things I love that with a free schedule. I how have I not made it to Origins? And all the time that I’ve been in Ohio, it’s pretty much a regular at man, is this a weird thing? Chan Con, that’s the biggest one. Maybe that’s the longest standing.

I think Origins might even be older. Yeah. Maybe it’s also Gen Con. Embrace. Maybe the d and d world and it expanded clear, whereas Origins was war gaming, Avalon Hill and so forth. And then it expanded from there. So there’s a different tenor to each of them. But some part of, like when I talk about Colleen and I going to the Ban for Mountain Film Festival, I just like being with those people.

I like being with people that. To like, like to game. There’s a passion and a shared vocabulary and it’s just fun to hang with them. You know what I mean? Yeah. Where’s places besides our Mensa gatherings that you can start quoting from Monty Python or Douglas Adams or whatever, and people keep up with you every step of the way, it’s fun to be with your tribe, even if the tribe has to gather and share Conrad and then disperse back to the world. So my people, so Colleen and I are talking about, I’m much more the gamer than her, and so that’s gonna be a getaway weekend. She doesn’t wanna come play pinball with me, but depending on where the cities are, she can go and explore the literary and the historical and just kinda like wander if you will, while I go geek it up

Stephen: at the I’ll tell you, man, that the fact.

Colleen will let you go do that stuff without causing a problem between you. Or she comes along and says, you go do your stuff. I’ll go do my stuff. And she’s good with that. You don’t know how good that really is. Cuz I could tell you if it’s not that way, it makes life very difficult And it’s hard to find someone that truly gets it as their own life.

That man, I’ve come to realize that’s the difference between good relationships and not good relationships is where somebody is in your life and adds to it instead of subtracting from it. And that sounds very simplified, but everybody has their own thing. But you can still be together and you don’t have.

Pull them away from their thing and you can support it and do your own thing. And still, it’s complicated in that simple little thought.

Alan: I hear you. That’s, and I really do get it because, Colleen and I have not been married forever. We’re 20 years now, but I actually was married one time before to Shum must not be named.

And she had aspects of that where she really like I had a monthly poker game and with the boys and there was hardly ever a time when she didn’t grouse about it. And it’s I know it’s date night, it’s a Friday night, and yet we have seven other dates in the course of the month.

And I, I do. I was often, if you will, the source of fun for us. I was more creative and more expansive in what kinds of things I looked into, arranged the shows, whatever else it might be, the vacations. And so it’s kinda please learn how to have fun also. Cause I’d love you could contribute to that for the two of us.

And also that, I don’t wanna picture you just sitting here. What in the dark, sad, I don’t know, go get together with your friends, have a lady’s night out and one of those things where it just, the fact that it was always contentious made me sad. Yes. I didn’t think I had mentioned married someone that was she wasn’t dependent on me.

It wasn’t that. That clingy, if you will, but about, especially not only about her, but about, she can see this gives me so much pleasure. I loved my monthly poker game. It’s just a neighborhood poker game is such a cool guy bonding experience that, that I wouldn’t want to do without it. And yet she’d begrudged it instead of being, go have fun with your boys.

I’ll have fun with the girls. I get it. I really do get, and Pauline and I really are healthy in that regard. All the relationship books say you really should be what we’re talking about. That you have your own lives and you come together to add to each other, not not cl not

Stephen: subtract, et etcetera, et cetera.

And you even mentioned before, you know that, oh, tonight we’re watching Castle together, we made popcorn, we’re on the couch, cuddling and all that. But she doesn’t like to watch Doom Patrol. So you go watch that on your own and that’s exactly right. She has work or she’s reading or she’s watching something else elsewhere.

And it’s, and the big point is that, That is not a problem. That’s the big point. It’s when it’s a problem that then it keeps adding up and making everything else worse in my thoughts and experience. So yeah,

Alan: that’s kinda funny. I’m in all kinds of Facebook groups that talk about these various different topics and not a month goes by.

A week without something being how’s the guy gonna sneak the comic books into the house? Cause he’s buying too many of them. And it was just like, we had no problems with that. We both were dedicated to the budget that we had made. And that’s how we’ve gotten to where we’re relatively safe and stable now.

And as long as. She didn’t buy more pretty parasols and I didn’t buy more, special platinum additions of comic books. Then we were okay. You don’t keep looking at what each other is doing and find reasons to snark about it. Like she and I, like some things, share some things and we also have very much our own interests.

Isn’t that healthy? That’s just the

Stephen: way it should be. Yep. So I, it’s funny though, I didn’t know that your first wife was the same as my first wife, cuz she shall not be named either. But I don’t think Gina listens to this. If she does, I hope it made her day to talk to she Kenyon.

Seriously, no, ill will. I’m glad to do it. I told Shely I. Yeah, no offense, but I don’t read your stuff. You’re just not my author. And she kinda laughed. I said, but I’ve heard about some of the problems you’ve had with your ex. And I feel for you. I said, I had a first ex that, not nearly some of the stuff as bad as you.

She told me a few stories. I said a few stories. We laughed, so that was interest. There. There’s, you

Alan: know, pain shared is pain haled and Joy shared is joy doubled, I’m pretty sure that’s from spider Robinson, right from the Callahan cross time. Sal, we have not made a shout out that the Callahans cross time saloon books before everyone, they’re fantastic.

If you wanna read let’s see, maybe the first four or five are continuously inventive. They’re loaded with puns. They’re loaded with memorable characters. He did an interesting exercise where he, maybe it’s the sixth book that they like saved the universe again in a way that they saved it before.

And the characters are all talking about, haven’t we already been through this? They made fun of the fact that is the author just repeating himself? Because anyway, it was, and I thought, I don’t know. A good joke, but it wasn’t a book. It wasn’t the whole book’s worth of joke. So that was my my, the last of this series is not as good as the early ones, but the early ones are a breath of fresh air.

There’s nothing else like them out there. Very So Callahan’s, cross time saloon, everyone. There we

Stephen: go. So we talked a bit about Origins there. You mentioned a whole bunch of game stuff coming up. So what game topic? Today’s our game episode. What’s, half an episode.

Alan: Exactly. As we, Mensa has mind games.

A fantastic thing that like I have not gotten from anywhere else besides Mensa. It’s an event where they have all kinds of publishers and manufacturers submit games that are, no, not yet in the market, and Mansons evaluate them. They judge them on a whole bunch of five main criteria like replayability, originality, clarity, all that kind of stuff.

I give feedback cards to say, Hey, what you really or didn’t like about these things? And because it is remanufacturer, there’s been times when there seemed to be that the feedback mattered and they changed some aspects of the game, the winning conditions, the quality of the pieces, whatever else it might be.

If you’re a gamer, it’s a fantastic immersion into. There’s probably 70 games there to play in the course of a weekend, and you have to play at least 30. They’re randomized and you get set so that every game will be played the equal number. And you can’t specialize. It’s not like I only play strategy, I only play word or party, whatever.

You have to play everything. Your taste and your vast knowledge of how many games you played, entered into the quality of the feedback they’re getting. And then the whole point for Mensa doing it is they have a little call the Mensa Select seal that by Christmas those go on the top six games of the year.

And like you, if you look at. I think it’s been running maybe 20 years now, maybe even longer. That’s really like the games Hall of Fame. Yeah, it’s early words, categories. It was settlers of Katan. It was, like we really al pretty perceptive the al exactly that I love it where as you’re walking through the room and light al so brightly colored, so interesting and memorable.

It’s like I can’t wait to play that in my turn. And in fact, if it’s not on your list of 30, I try to always get to almost all 70. At least I hit 50 and I might not be a completeness. There are some people that have a sleepless weekend and they really try to play everything, but I just, I love getting the feedback of.

What everybody thought was good for the weekend, which ones I particularly liked. I keep track of like how much fun I had with it and the cost of it. At the end of the thing, they give away many copies of the game to all the attendees. There’s probably 350 attendees nowadays, so it’s not a small thing.

It’s a whole hotel ballroom size. And I will often like I really that game, but I can go pick that up at the store for 10, $15 when it comes out, whereas the mega $70 game, I think I’ll get that even if it’s my third place because hey I’ll get more and for my money if you will.

It’s, you play with all different kinds of people. You make it like, I dunno, I have a quarter of people that I really enjoy playing games with because our pacing is the same and our sense of humor is similar and all that kind of stuff. But oftentimes someone just says, Hey, I need to play flying ACEs and I need four people and revoke four people.

And I have met so many nice gamers just, through this event that you kind of bond from all around the country from, Hey, I played weeble wobble with you, or something like that. And of course, as you might imagine, there’s also some rules, Nazis and some people that aren’t paying enough attention.

And so you kinda learn who to. Hang with, goof with, and you’ll learn who to avoid because it can spoil the experience of something if why, it’s an 80 page booklet. You really, we can make moves and keep going and figure out how all the mechanics work instead of having to like, not make a move until you run all 80 pages.

You know what I mean? Part of it is you just throw yourself in

Stephen: And I know there’s a thing with following the rules and not just willy-nilly changing ’em, cuz then it makes you more powerful quickly. That’s why the rule exists type thing. But in that situation, Chill out people.

The goal is not to win the game. The goal is to evaluate the game. Absolutely. And yeah. The one, you can’t clu the 80 page rule book ones because it takes too much time. So you need to get the overall feel of the game and the basics of the game, whether it’s win or lose, whether you get to a point where it’s okay, we screwed up and we didn’t play this right, but now we understand.

We see, I’ve done that with games before. You wanna get in and enjoy it cuz you learn so much better playing it rather than sitting there, going through all the rules, which you forgot by the time you opened up the pieces. Yeah.

Alan: Often what happens is people have played all the games they need to, but by Saturday noon, let’s see, it used to be Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Now they’ve added Thursday. So that a little bit of the time pressure will be off. But what used to be a joy is, you know what you just said, that you really, everybody needs to evaluate the game as if it is just open the box. So everybody figures that out for themselves. As of Saturday noon, you have the people who have already completed and then you start to go back to games You wanted to play again or experiment with.

No, and one of the joys is there are some people in Mensa that are really good explainers. They tell you, like the Oreo maxims of the world, the Steve Yates, they’re really good at, here’s the crux of the game. Here’s what this is all about. Here’s the winning conditions, here’s what you’re thinking while you’re doing it.

Here’s, and. That can really make it a game that I thought was kinda like dull, maybe impenetrable. When someone explains it to you, it’s a different game. It’s, it really is that they’ve got great perception. I try to be one of those perceptive people, but I’m not as good as some people that I go with.

And so it’s really cool to then again, for maybe not only do I wanna buy for the family for Christmas, but what, and what I want to get from the free thing. I kinda like being knowledgeable and aware of as many things as possible. And if they weren’t on my list, but I can go get the wonderful capitalized edition to Roger Ebert movie version.

I don’t wanna, just a hack opinion. Roger Ebert knows this stuff. And so you go to that guy in Ben said, they’re in demand. You know what I mean? So you try to be good enough for them to want to play with you, that you add, so

Stephen: The C. No. Have started to realize this and picked up on it.

And they quite often include like the starter rules, which will get you going quickly. Or they have a YouTube video where you can watch it in 10 minutes and get the basics of how to play the game watching somebody

Alan: that’s a, there’s a single page summary or there’s a video or something like that.


Stephen: right. Yeah. Yep.

Alan: So look forward to that. Exactly. That. And actually lemme throw in. Yep. I just read Toyer Klaus, I think Klaus Toyer, the guy who invented settlers of Katan now called Katan. He just, he died April Fools on April 1st. Oh, wow. And I’ll tell you, there was a time, many things go through Ebb and Flow.

There was a time when board games were not that popular, well known, and they really had gotten deep geekery and settlers is one of those games. And the overall world of German spi, Deutsche spi, they have an enormous gaming convention that is 10 times the size. I may, I, maybe I exaggerate.

Even big things like GenCon and Origins here. VPI is from the manufacturers instead of from the fans. Everybody in the world displays their games in hopes of, it’ll become the Christmas hit because like we talked about, everybody talks about movie box office, but there’s video games that come out now that are three and five times as big in terms of dollars and reach in the world.

And there are games that are like that too. So having said that, this is one of the guys with Settlers and Barbara Osa, the first ones where it’s it’s a little bit of resource management. It’s multiple winning conditions. You interact with lots of other people. Every game is unique because you start with different playing conditions, even though the board is relatively simple.

Some people find that perfect balance of replayability and complexity, but it’s like a two hour game, not a 10 hour game. And Settlers of Katan is a great one in that regard. Yeah. You know what

Stephen: It’s mean. Ok. Wasn’t it Originally Katan had like t a n. It was from some German river or something.

Alan: It might be that too, that they simplified it for, worldwide distribution, yeah. American distribution and stuff like that. You might be right, exactly right. Two

Stephen: or two a’s, yeah. Yeah. Something. Originally, that’s one of those games. My I’m gonna speak ill of my son.

So if he does listen, which I don’t think he does, I apologize. I love playing games with him. I’ve introduced him to games and he’s got a game bug. But he has hit that point now where he can sit down with a game and just say, okay, I know what makes this game win. And bam. And just d demolish everybody playing the game, which he’s not doing it maliciously.

He’s not like taunting anybody or making anyone feel bad. He can just click, get it, and fo so laser focused and just like quirk goal, oh, I got 68 points. Colin got 174, so it’s But so we haven’t played as many games. I think partly because I’m like I don’t feel like losing to my son again.

But he also gets that little bit of an attitudes like I’m not getting enough challenge from dad anymore, which I don’t know. Oh, damn true. But settlers is one that he doesn’t like to play anymore. He says, eh, it is just it’s too, eh, there’s nothing interesting. And I’m like, but I like to play with people who just enjoy games and enjoy the sociality of it.

Okay. And settlers is a good one because you don’t have to focus on every move and Right. And plan out 10 moves ahead that you can just sit and chat and eat something, drink something and Hey, how’s your week been? And oh, it’s my turn.

Alan: Yeah, the, that is required. There’s deal making, there’s negotiation going on.

You know what I mean? Yeah. And there are certain games, like I don’t play much ere anymore because after you played like a thousand hands of ere, there’s no surprises. It’s very mechanical and some people really love it. And maybe that’s why, because they can immediately assess what is the odds of this hand being good and stuff mentioned as a very cool thing called duplicate euchre, where they have people play exactly the same hands at, 30 different tables and you really have, you’re in You’re, maybe there’s more risk taking because you have to distinguish yourself from everybody else who’s just gonna get the right number of points, if you will.

So we have a regular gaming session with a couple of Colleen sisters, and we play some pinacle and some all kinds of little, box games where it’s like, Hey, you have to say the same words simultaneously, it’s name a Flightless bird. And of course one person says Penguin and one person says iu.

And it’s you’re both right. But one person is really sure that they’re right. And we’ve had a very nice time with that, but this is a odd thing to say that taste in games is different. I, yes, especially with people, that it’s not about knowledge. I wanna play a game that has a good combination of look randomness and knowledge of the game so that it’s not just steamroll or al comes in and kicks ass in a vocabulary game, and not against Colleen. She’s got a great vocabulary, but against most of the rest of the world, I, there’s a game called Mad Gab, I think. Yeah. Where like a starting an ending letter and you’re trying to get the longest word and for whatever reason, when you look at IE. I don’t think of idle, I think of indomitable.

And it just, those kinds of things pop out pretty easily. When you place categories and you’re trying to get it where, for that letter, it’s not a single thing, but you can say, oh, that’s an army of alsation. You know what I mean? That it doesn’t matter. It matters that I really don’t want to have things where maybe a little bit of what col colon is sometimes feeling that he’s automatic in it.

It doesn’t have any challenge for him. Yes. And frustrating for you. One of the joys of playing games with my nieces and nephews was when it wasn’t just candy land and roll the dice and that kind of stuff, that there was a little bit of strategy. And the first time that you see somebody make an interesting move in abalone where it’s like he’s really looking multiple plays deep, this is a trap.


Stephen: really

Alan: thinking ahead and there was no evidence when they were really young that they weren’t just little stimulus response machines. Now they’re thinkers. And I was like, I wanted to like, yes. Oh yeah. It’s, it was very cool to see the evidence of vocabularies growing and strategic thinking. Attach.

I, it, I love that. I, my, my pet phrase is, I think you can learn a lot about a person in an hour of gameplay more than in five hour conversation. Absolutely. You find out who are the risk takers, who are the safety people. You find out who are the rules. Followers are the ones that are like looking for wolves, could be better.

You know what I mean? Who are the incremental approvers and just, and whether they’re paying attention or not, whether there’s enough going on that they get that they. The game is something you do with your hands while you’re visiting with your friends instead of being so enveloped by the game that they have to come back out of it after your, there’s all kinds of personality aspects that go into what makes for a good game and help

Stephen: people play. And I’ll tell you. Coming up. I’m anxiously awaiting. I’m waiting for the email I told you about that DC deck builder, Kickstarter. I won where it is, like 1600 cards or something.

I was gonna say it’s a case of cards. Exactly. Yeah. It is coming and I, it’s, I was hoping it’d be here this week because they started sending them out the beginning of last week. So I’ve, I’m not seeing the email, I’m like, oh, hopefully they’ll come before Easter. Cuz Easter when I was younger was always game day.

And I made that a bit when my kids, I’m like, oh I asked co I said, Hey, what are you eat you and Ethan doing for Easter? He is oh, I don’t know. We’re probably not going anywhere. I said, oh, good. Not over. Yeah. I said, the DC deck builder is probably gonna be here week could play. He says, oh yeah.

Great. I. But first we have to sleeve them all. He’s like, all right. Sling party.

Alan: Exactly. Yeah. It’s in, in gaming terms, I’ve often heard the term fluffing. When you first take a box, a game out of the box, and you have to like, take pieces out of the little plastic frame that they’re in.

Yeah. Just, un wrap all the cards and stuff like that. Some people love that beyond reason. There’s videos about the unboxing ceremony and stuff like that. Yeah. Mensa, it, it used to be if you got there the night before, you could be part of the fluffing of all these various different games so that they’re in the box ready to play instead of the first unwrapping.

And just is it like some people like virgins, whatever else it is that you want to be the first to touch it, to, take the shrink wrap off and smell the cards, whatever it is, it’s a very sensual and. Enveloping thing for some people. Yeah. I don’t think I have that, but I appreciate when I see that it’s all like neat.

One of the, one of the things that happens in the course of 350 people playing over the course of four days, you get an orphans box. You get all those things that, oh, I found this on the floor and I, it don’t know what game it goes to. Sometimes Saturday night before the games give away on Sunday. They have people that get all of those bits and try to put ’em back where they belong, so that every single game has everything.

It should, and you would think, how can, how bad can things get in three days? There’s like hundreds of orphans often. Oh. Because they’re just, there’s time pressure and there’s, you’re sipping your drinking. You don’t realize, you bonk a little, you know what I mean? It’s amazing if you scan the room.

Wow, there’s already things on the floor and we’re an hour in. Yeah.

Stephen: What’s going on? Cause there are some people that aren’t as fastidious about caring about the game. People get upset with me when I’m like could we take all the drinks off the table because this cost me like $80 for the first set and another 60 for the expansion.

And if you spill your drink on it, it ruins it all. So please. That’s right. I’m gonna cry and then I’m gonna pound you up. Exactly. And I love the fact that’s so geeky. We’re talking about introducing people to realize geeky we’re geeks playing games that most general public don’t play.

So we’re going to use porn industry terms to describe. That’s true.

Alan: The fluffy gotta keep nothing ready. Yeah, exactly.

Stephen: So speaking of,

Alan: boy, there are certain things that whoever said it the first time, everybody said I needed a word for that. Yes. And then he’s got adopted like wildfire. Yes.

Stephen: Know what I mean?

Yes. So speaking of this reminded me of another Kickstarter. Maybe I’ll put a link in for everybody that is oh, I’ve been limiting my Kickstarters, but this one seems really important. It’s a clear. Plastic system that stacks and stuff, they fit together modular, but it’s designed for generically for any game.

So what it is, it’s a whole line of these pieces where you put all the little do dads so you can just scoop ’em out with your hand and it’s got card holders so the cards don’t get knocked everywhere. And you easily slide it out like a dealer in blackjack and then it’s got for your hand, it has this little tiered system so you can just lay your cards out and you don’t have to hold ’em in your hand and you could see ’em all.

And it’s pretty interesting. She,

Alan: so they took all the common, not complaints, at least little inefficiencies and said we can solve some of those.

Stephen: Yeah. Make it. That’s very interesting. And I’m looking at going. Okay, where’s my credit card now?

Alan: Exactly. I don’t need this, but boy, I would appreciate this.

Every time I use it, I’d be like, this is one of my best. Okay. Yeah.

Stephen: So I’m looking at it, I’m going, I’m like, yeah no. Okay. There’s the big package. That’s where we get enough stuff for some of these games and it will make a difference, enough for four people with lots of pieces.

Alan: Yeah. We’ve had some games and not only at my games, but played them later where setup takes an hour. Yeah. There really are so many different decks to put out resources to arrange in their little corrals, all that kind of stuff. And after a while people get really smart about, they have them in little Tupperwares, they have ’em in glassine bags, whatever else it might be, so that it’s not, oh my God, there’s this bag of pickup sticks worth of little figures.

And the first thing you have to do is separate the various different meatballs and re, the house colors and all that kind of stuff. It’s very nice to do it once and then preserve that organization so you don’t have to do it again. The overhead can take the wind out of a game just in getting set up sometimes.

Stephen: Yeah. You know what I mean? One of the biggest I’ve played, and I used to have the game, but I got rid of it, was Arcom Asylum. Based on Kalu Mythos Lovecraft it was really cool, great concept, but I played it twice and like you said, it took an hour to set up and it had a 64 page rule book.

And we had to, it had so many steps for every turn. We couldn’t remember ’em. We had to walk through everybody’s turn. So we played for four and a half hours and got through two or three turns, weren’t even close to the end of the game. And everybody’s okay. So after the second time, I’m like, I really wanna love this game and I really wanna play it.

But there’s 10 expansions. So I’ve seen pictures of people that have all the expansions with all the cards. It’s 4,000 cards and pieces and you have all these expansions with all these additional rules and I’m just like, I am never going to convince anybody to say, Hey, come over for a weekend and we have one game we’re gonna play.

I exactly that. So I ended up getting rid of it, but that would’ve been perfect for this little system with Keith, putting stuff in and all that.

Alan: Yeah. I’ll tell you, there’s any number of games that be. My, my pet phrase is, so when does the fun kick in? You

Stephen: know what I’m trying to get a t-shirt of that.

You said that one time Marty at an RG was doing a duct tape wallet. We were sitting there making duct tape wallets, and you were over there trying to put together, and I was with Jason and Gina and we’re putting ours together and have fun. And you’re like, okay, when’s the fun kick in? And I laugh so hard and I’m trying to get a good graphic to go with that for a t-shirt for us.

So I

Alan: would, yo, if we’re looking for one of the first relentless geeky wear, that’s a, I. I’m pretty sure that’s an original, I don’t wanna steal anybody his

Stephen: phrase. I think it’s,

Alan: so that would be cool. And I don’t think I have anything out there that says, what is it, Volti?

You don’t have to attribute it to me. The phrase itself is still memorable and it pithy, it fits on a t-shirt instead of wrapping around cuz there’s, cuz I can be verbose and that kind of stuff. All right. That, so Yes. Let’s do that.

Stephen: Yeah. I’ve been trying to come up with a few ideas and trying some things and to change just a slight second.

I have been using Mid Journey, which is one of the new ai things to get some ideas and some things. For graphics it’s 75, 80% there. And you can iterate and change and adjust to try and get something very quickly. So you got an idea if lay it out, right? So the AI understands you, you look at your picture you wanna take this one, but some variations or you wanna redo the whole thing and it’s very quick.

So if you have an idea, and I love working with artists and all that, and I’m not trying to take anyone’s job away. I’ve got several t-shirt design ideas that have paid people for the design, but it’s always. A longer process. It costs a bit more, obviously, but it’s also, yeah, that wasn’t quite what I’m looking for.

Can we change it to this? Now I’ve gotta pay them more to get a change in the idea using this AI stuff, it’s click it while watching something. Yeah. Yeah.

Alan: It never gets tired. It doesn’t get pissed because you should have told me more, and then I would’ve made it more like what you were looking for.

You know what I mean? I, it’s I have, boy, I’m behind. I have not experimented with it enough, as much as I did AI work for the last, honestly, 30 years this latest iteration because it’s seemingly so wonderful and magical. I just haven’t decided. Today’s the day I go and put in, Hey, gimme a, a mad magazine cover that looks like it was drawn by Salvador Dolly.

Boom. And, I just saw.

Stephen: Alan’s face on it.

Alan: There you go. Exactly. And the more that you give it parameters, it doesn’t say, that’s asking too much. It’s like it does its level best. And I love that sometimes when you try it, I start with a little bit that it really is better than you expected.

And that’s this is miraculously cool. Yeah. You know what I mean? It has the training set of all the graphics that have ever been done, and if I give it enough information, it really would be and my art skills are like stick figure rudimentary. It’s especially cool when I, whatever I try to do playing keyboards.

One of the reasons that I admire the Keith Emersons and the Rick Wakens and the Eddie Chaps of the world is because there’s just another level, three other levels beyond what I could do, even when I’ve applied myself so much. To try to get better. And so I appreciate that, that. I like miracles.

I like miracles that you can like summon and not just be we’ll see what comes down the pike. It’s cool to have that interactive idiot savant that’s gonna do things for you, you know what

Stephen: So I know there’s been a lot of talk, the author rings about these people going on using chat G P T and writing a whole book in an afternoon and putting it up on Amazon and the pro I, and I’ve just played with it a little bit to see what comes up.

And believe me, you don’t wanna read what, it’s boring. It’s not put together well. It really, but if you’re using it for an idea generator and to kickstart some things, cuz the one game I’m working on, it’s a card game and it uses keywords and I was trying to come up. Variations on the keywords that would be sci-fi and from, that.

And I said, wait a second, I have a tireless idea generator. So I went to chat, g p t put in my parameters of, I’m looking for keywords related to this, but as if they were in a sci-fi story from another world and using words that aren’t from English. And, I, I kept defining it and it came up with a list of 30, bam.

There you go. Okay. These are all original. I can modify ’em a little bit, but it was, I was struggling with it myself and it, boom, there they are. So now if I define ’em now I’ve got my keywords and they’re new, they’re sci-fi. And it came up really quick. So as the idea generator or the brainstorming, I’ve been using it a lot for stuff like that.

F. Yeah,

Alan: It’s kind I don’t have the fears of, oh no, I’m gonna be replaced. But one of the things I would think it will not be able to replace easily is I really am playful. I am continually nelo. I make up like new words and new phrases and just cuz it’s fun and that as much as they are parameterized it might be that they do things in error that are still witty because they’re slightly off kilter, slightly inappropriate, whatever else it might be.

And that’s what I try to do is take a word outta context or, verb a noun or whatever else it might be. When it can start to do do this, like I would, do it where you’re playful and you’re trying not to use the same word in the whole article that you’re writing because you’re a human saru and all that kind of stuff.

It, I would look forward to there being a virtual owl that I could. Has it captured? Like my

Stephen: playfulness, my

Alan: creativity, my I’ll have to see if I can trade one to be more like me, give it feedback as to, this would’ve been something that I would have said and I would’ve written in this style and so forth, but not this.

And then have it iteratively. Yeah. Become more me. That’d be cool to have a little doppelganger that I can set to write my next, men’s article or something

Stephen: like that. Yeah. And, it does come up with some good ideas, good thoughts, a good start, but it’s not, a final anything for that.

I’ve been having fun just thinking heck last week’s episode that I posted online, I went to chat g p t and I typed in. Give me all the geek related keywords based on this transcript, and I pointed it to our website and it shot down a whole list. Now I asked for 50 and maybe only 15 to 20 of those were useful or correct or good, but Okay.

It was done in 30 seconds. I didn’t have to go read through the transcript and pick ’em out piece by piece. I like pick ’em out. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So it saved some time. It gave me the same type of results and it was done quicker. So I was like, great. Perfect.

Alan: That’s so at, I I’ll have to mention this yet since we’re coming towards the end, that one of the better geeky April Fool’s jokes that I saw was that Patrick Rothfus has finally released the third trilogy.

I think it was called like the Domes of Stone or something like that. It seemed to be chat G p t ish with how it, the title and the way it described it and stuff like that. And the reason for those geeks, who like he has. Two books in a trilogy, and there was already a big gap between the first and second, and now there’s like a 10 going on, 15 year gap before the third, right?

Shades Martin with the, the song of Ice and fire and stuff like that. It, they’re really good. And so you really want to get to that third in this series, and yet he’s crafting it, he’s taking his time. He’s not gonna issue it before it’s ready to go. And people are so hungry that it’ll be a big event.

Finally, it’s out. And they’re still people are saying, oh, fucking finally, thank you for doing this. Finally, please don’t die. Yes. Before you get this done because we need this from you. You know what I mean? I’m usually not the vampire fan where it’s you owe me that book and. 10 years is a lot.

Yeah. You know what I mean? Oh we’ll see if whatever really comes

Stephen: out. One, one of my favorites last weekend was the local public library said we’ve got a new machine to help with getting any book you want. We, and they showed a picture of a 3D printer with a hardback book sitting on and says, all you gotta do is tell us what the book is, and if we have a copy of it we rip the pages out and we get ’em scanned in the, into our CAD program.

And they were going through this whole elaborate processes and we have this special paper that and it does occasionally mess up, but, and I’m looking at going. What, and I’m like, oh, wait a second. It’s April Fools. I like, it was, that was fun. I applauded them on it, great.

All right, man. I think we hit most of everything briefly at least. So some things

Alan: we touched Exactly. As usual, we’ll add to the list. Things drop off just out of, Hey, the time is passed to talk about it. It’ll come around again. It will, one, one of these days I really will have to go to the outline and put little check boxes next to things we’ve at least touched on, and then say, we never really talked about bicycles yet, or, whenever we can geeking up about anyway. We’ll,

Stephen: so have a great Easter get some good family time in for

Alan: you. Exactly that. I get to see my mom for Easter. I think that’s beautiful dinner over there. I’m gonna find out today what, I’m visiting her like, every other day, multiple times a week.

I’ll find out what Easter celebration they have planned and maybe bring her a little Easter basket with some jelly beans and

Stephen: stuff like that. Nice. Nice. Beautiful. Take care, Steven. All right, man. Take care.