Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Family circus roadie style

Last weekend marked the 10th straight year I attended Gencon Indy. I originally went to help the great Luke Ski at his merch table but now after discovering board games now go to play games on Thursday and Friday and then help Luke on Saturday when he performs while the judges in the masquerade determine the winners as he has done since 1997.

This year he has more than merchandise and his display. Earlier this year, he had a successful Kickstarter campaign to get a full audio and video system for his show. After the dealer room closed at 6PM on Thursday, we needed to move his audio system from the penthouse suite he was upgraded to in the Canterbury Hotel to the Crowne Plaza Hotel one and a half blocks away for the shows which began on Thursday evening.

Normally, this would take 10 minutes at the most to take the tiny elevator with the equipment down 11 floors to the lobby and a short walk to the hotel on the fancy bricked sidewalks which in the past has caused a small wheel to break and items to fall off a small hand cart and the following day caused musician Tom Smith while riding his mobility cart loaded with his merch while driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding his guitar to fall.

 However, for the fourth straight year on either my Gencon arrival or departure date there was heavy rain that evening and taking the electronic equipment outside was not advisable. However, the layout of the Indianapolis Convention Center and surrounding hotels allowed us to get from one hotel to the other without going outside even though the trip took almost three times as long.

Fortunately, the weather the rest of the weekend was fine and the orange path was used the rest of the time. P.S. Tom Smith was shaken but ok and on Friday and Saturday, I carried his guitar to the hotel so he could have both hands on the wheel of his cart.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Playing as myself

In 2008, Rio Grande Games released a non collectable card game called Dominion. It is a deck building game where a player uses treasures represented by cards to expand his Dominion by obtaining treasures, facilities, personnel, and lands which decide the winner mostly represented by cards that are added to the deck.

What I believe makes the game popular is the variety of the 10 kingdom cards that make up every game played with basic treasures and lands to acquire. The additional cards can be lands which give victory points, treasures which can allow you more purchasing ability and mostly actions which can allow you to draw more cards, give you treasure, improve the cards you have or attack opponents by forcing them to discard cards from their hand or by removing or giving them cards that make their deck worse. The 10 cards added to the game can be personally selected or randomized from the 25 choices in the original version. As 6 expansions have been created since the game debuted, there are now over 150 different kingdom cards to make up a game and there are ipod apps and a website that would allow you to randomize the cards based on what versions you have. There is also a website where someone with the nickname madmanOTL plays.

At Gencon Indy the new expansion Dark Ages premieres. The creator of the game has released previews of some of the cards that will be in it. When my daughter and I saw this, I did a spit take and my daughter burst out laughing.

There are some cards in the game which we call them something else. My daughter stated she will call this a "daddy".

Monday, August 6, 2012

The final contest

 One of the few things my father and I have an understanding is with horse racing. When I was a kid I would enjoy going with him and he did not usually mind having to pay an extra $2 for me to get in. To me handicapping horse racing is a study in applied math and I remember many times at the now torn down Sportsman's Park and the still operating Hawthorne Race Course next store.

Summer at Sportsman's was my favorite time as it was the big harness meet. We would go about 3 to 4 times a month and those nights in Cicero are now missed by me since the park closed.

In late 1986, my father's boss started to get involved with owning harness horses and he had moderate success. One day in May 1987 my dad come home from work excited. His boss with two others bought a potential 3 year old champ named Call Me Sir N (the N stood for New Zealand bred).

In late May of 1987, Call Me Sir in its first race went straight to the lead and won by 5 lengths and then the same way won three more coming within 1/5 sec of the 3 yr old track record of 1:55. Those races had purses (money given to the top 5 finishers of the race) starting at $8,000 and going to $10,000. The owners decided to enter the horse in the American National 3 year old pace (purse $250,000) against Jate Lobell, the best horse in the country. I looked on You Tube and there is a video of the race held on July 3, 1987.

Even if Call Me Sir did not have a difficult time gaining the lead in the race, it still would have not had a chance. Because the driver tried to win the race, the horse was exhausted by the top of the stretch and ended up 6th.

Here is a winner's circle picture taken exactly 24 years ago today in 1988 when the horse posted its best career winning time of 1:55. A significantly thinner contacts wearing 22 year old version of me is on the right next to my father.

Three Saturdays ago, I visited my father and could tell something was not right. He has deteriorated over the past 10 years but this was not good. We wanted to take him to the emergency room but he would not go until the last race from Arlington was shown on tv since he has bets made. When we got to the hospital and opened the door, he vomited his dinner and would not stop vomiting or hiccuping the next 4 hours. The next day my mom told my sisters and I what was happening: We knew he had a tumor removed from his back but we did not know he has cancer on his vocal chords and GI tract and he is too ill for any treatment. He was released 5 days later and has hospice care during the week at the house.

Knowing that him being involved with horse racing is what he looks forward to do, I offered to go to the race track on the following Saturday, July 28th, to make the bets for him. I also decided to make bets at Arlington and compare the results as one final father/son horse racing handicapping challenge.

The night before, I stopped at an off track betting place, got the next day's program and studied it grateful that I have bifocals and decided what to bet. I placed my bets Saturday morning at a place near my house and drove to my parents house to collect his money, make his bets at Hawthorne and then watch the races with him on the horse racing channel. Here is a chart of the results: (click on the pic for a closer view)

To summarize, I lost 8% fewer on my wagers than he did and would have done a little better had both of us just played $2 to win on every horse had in the bets.

I went again last Saturday and made bets for my father for Arlington, I played the harness card at the Meadowlands in New Jersey since it was the biggest day in harness racing. I won a couple of races while I was there and played others to watch on tv with him later. The last race I bet was the US Pacing Championship, a race that was held at Sportsman's Park and moved to New Jersey after Sportsman's closed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

dealing with idols

Tom Rockwell is a software engineer who lives in New Jersey with his wife and three kids. To fans of the Dr. Demento Show and those of nerdcore, he is known as Devo Spice formerly of the group called Sudden Death. He describes his act as if Weird Al Yankovic was red headed with a beard and does rap.

I first met him at the first sci-fi convention I attended in February, 2002. He was there with Dr Demento and the great Luke Ski. I found his act ok but was most impressed by his duet with Luke Ski of the song Peter Parker which ended up being the #1 song on the Dr. Demento show for 2002.

I saw him later that year performing at a Weird Al convention to the backs of most of the heads in the audience as they were in line to get an autograph and picture with Weird Al and his wife whom he married the previous year and in Indiana in September 2003 and was not impressed.

I became of fan of his music after an amazing performance at a con in April 2004 and have enjoyed his work since. He also had the number one song of the year on the Dr. Demento show in 2005 and in 2007 where he had the number 1,2 and 4 songs of the year while participating in #5 while Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" finished #6.

Three years ago, he saw a Tweet by @UncleLouie who is the representative of @TheFatboys, a hip hop group famous in the 80s and 90s whom Devo Spice (and the great Luke Ski) credit with helping inspire them to create music. Uncle Louie offered the musical services of the 2 remaining members of the group for money. Devo Spice inquired about the cost and found the $500 fee within reason and reserved 16 lines for use in a future song and paid in advance for it. He ended up releasing a video explaining what happened. In it, he made these 5 points:

1. In 2010 I paid Uncle Louie $500 to get Prince Markie Dee of The Fat Boys on a song.
2. Despite repeated promises Mark never sent me the verse.
3. Louie refused to refund me the money.
4. In July of 2012 I sued and won.
5. Instead of paying me Louie threatened me and called me a racist.

 What I saw in the video was how painful this situation has been to Devo Spice. This was done by a group that inspired him and in spite of his Dr Demento success, he was ignored and shunned by them.

I could see someone adding to the suit demanding extra money for the time spent, loss of sales by not having the song on the CD, libel, or even interest. Devo Spice decided to not seek that. When Googling "Devo Spice Fat Boys", the first 8 entries are 6 articles about this situation most including screenshots of the agreement, emails and the racist tweet, the video linked above, and the Fat Boys song Devo Spice and Luke Ski parodied as a tribute to their music.

When this info became public a few days ago, people were asked to tweet to @UncleLouie and @Thefatboys asking them to refund the money.. If you have the time, please do so.

Note: A week after posting this, Uncle Louis sent him an apology along with the $522 from the judgement.