Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 29 of 362/Winter War, Day 2

Day two of the convention sees the usual sleeping pattern emerge, as I basically took a three-hour nap last night/this morning.

As predicted, the reactions to my self-imposed makeover have ranged from amazement to complimentary. The compliments are very gratifying and I take them graciously. Those folks who are shocked and amazed typically respond with good-natured ribbing, which I've been taking with a smile and a laugh. These are my friends, after all.

Not much else to tell. Sales have been good, if not a touch better than expected. Today, my lovely wife and some friends start out at the booth while I head for the store and run the M:tG Mirrodin Besieged Pre-Release tournament.

If I can get through the next couple of days, I can take a much-longer-than-three-hour nap...

peace... GopherDave

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 28 of 362/Winter War Day 1

It's time... Time for one of the biggest weekend's in the store's year. Winter War 38.

We do a fair amount of business at this convention each year. It's our fourth year of attending and we (hopefully) have most of the bugs worked out.

As I have posted earlier, I have been attending this convention for a LONG time. My first was Winter War 10, and with the exception of the events held in 1992 and 1993, I have been to every one in some capacity during that time.

This year, however, marks the first where I did not attend in the traditional "gamer uniform" of a black t-shirt, jeans/sweats (holes optional), and sneakers. The image above will freak some people the hell out... ...and I'm looking forward to it.

I plan to get looks, stares, giggles, and what not, but my intent will have been achieved. People will be paying attention to our store. As a business, that attention is invaluable. It creates awareness that you, as a business, exist. Most businesses pay damn good money to have this happen. It's called advertising. Yes, mine is not as far reaching as other traditional avenues, but when people see my advertising, they'll see a clean, friendly, attentive person who looks ready to help them. Plus, since I'm not in gamer uniform any longer, new customers know who to ask when they need help. I don't blend in with the typical game store clientele.

Blending in... it's kind of the enemy of any business. If one taco stand is just like all the other taco stands, and the product is pretty much the same, then the only thing that differentiates said taco stands is location. If someone can get a taco at Bob's Tacos, right next to their house, then why would they ever come to yours?

Game stores are a bit like taco stands. Settlers of Catan is Settlers of Catan no matter which game store you're at. What we, as store owners, have to give customers is reason to come OUR game store. Decent prices and a wide selection of merchandise is only the beginning. Standing out with great service and a professional staff (even if you're the only staff there is) will give folks a reason and impel them to come shop at our "taco stand".

Onward, once more, into the breach...

-- GopherDave

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 27 of 362

I was in a hurry this morning, so I took the camera with me to the store thinking I would take pictures there and get this entry posted.

Once I started to try to take pictures, I discovered there was no memory card in the camera... Fail...

I'll grab pictures when I get home and post later tonight... *sigh*

Okay... Later is here. It's a quickie entry as the next three days will be BUSY!

peace... GopherDave

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 26 of 362

The store sweaters are finally here. I'm now in the joyous fun of dealing with the embroidery company since two of them were horribly missized. Also unfortunately, they were both the same utilitarian color (Navy Blue) that could go with much of my neck wear wardrobe. Nothing ever goes without mishap around here... =P

If you look to the right, you'll see the edge of the store logo in black stitching. While the store we own is pretty much an open secret, we'll keep that "under wraps" until we get back from the convention. It's my plan to get folks to take a ton of pictures and I'll post some of the best ones that highlight the convention and our booth, as well as some pictures of dearest friends.

Doing a lot of little things to get ready. Just dumped more money than I wanted to on stock for the convention, but I have a good feeling that we'll sell the bulk of it. Tax refunds are starting to roll in and I'm certain we (and other dealers) will see a chunk of that money. As it boils down, if we make back what I spent, we're doing okay for now.

...And back to pulling my hair out trying to make all of this work...

-- GopherDave

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25 of 362

The store sweaters arrived today, but there might be a problem. The first one I put on was too small. The one I am currently wearing (after this pic was taken this morning) sort of fits, but is not as large as I assumed it would be given that I ordered size 3XL.

I'm a big guy. Big enough to warrant me ordering 3XL-sized items. However, while I have some 2XL sweaters that just too short, I do have one that fits perfectly. Heck, I have a 1XL-Tall sweater that fits wonderfully as well. So, I sort of assumed that any sweater sized at 3XL would fit with no issue.

Apparently, I was wrong. Good thing I'm on a diet again...

So, tonight, when I get home, I get to try on ten other sweaters and see what "fits" and what doesn't, and go from there to begin haggling with the place I ordered them from. Yippee.

peace... GopherDave

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 24 of 362

Not much is happening right now. The wife and I looked at six potential new spaces this morning for moving the business. Out of the six, two really stood out. One would need some work and is just out of our price range, but the space itself is nice and positioned well for shopping. The other space would be what they call "vanilla box". The outer shell is done, all that needs done is the interior. Basically walls, ceiling, lights, and floor. The landlord would do the first three, the floor and how we would want to do it would be our responsibility. After two years of tile, we're thinking a nice lo-pile, slate gray carpet.

The "vanilla box" landlord also offered us a sweet deal. MUCH better than we were anticipating given what this property has advertised for in the past. It's a touch difficult to access, but it's not terrible. We've looked at worse.

We're slated to look at another property later this afternoon. This one is still very much under construction, and very near the site of the vanilla box. Access from the main roads is better, but what they've been quoting us for rent needs to be worked on. It's a little high for what they are offering. We'll see...

Beyond that, work still proceeds apace on getting ready for the convention. I going to try to get some "sleep cameling" done so I'm not a total wreck for the convention, especially since I dumped soda from my diet once again just yesterday.

Until later...

UPDATE: We looked at the other spot. It is very much in the concrete-covered sandbox stage, and won't be ready to move into for a long bit (2-3 months, at least).The rent rate isn't horrible at first, but it goes up $1 a square foot per year for five years (the minimum commitment they're willing to take). Basically the rent will increase each year by $265 a month, each year for the five years we are there. I like what the space will become, but I am not certain I want to commit to that kind of rent increase when I don't even know how good the landlord is.

Toodles... GopherDave

[Monday Music] -- MUDVAYNE/The End Of All Things To Come

I realized after posting the review for Voivod's Angel Rat that the first two albums I reviewed from our home CD collection were both released in 1991. I then realized that made them twenty years old. I figured I should review something from this century for the next one. So, here you go...

The End of All Things To Come (henceforth referred to as TEoATtC) is the second major-label offering (and third album overall if you count the demo Kill, I Oughta) from Peoria, Illinois quartet Mudvayne. It was released in 2002 (so... early in this century). The first disc these boys proffered up, LD50, was nothing short of brutal. I have it... I like it... but I'm not fond of self-induced headaches, so I don't play it that often.

TEoATtC takes the brutality of LD50, shaves off a few of the rough edges, and makes the songs at least hummable. 'Vayne still come across as angry, angry guys, but at least its tempered with some direction that at least allows one to discern that they're angry, and not bug-nuts insane.

There are a number of songs here that hit like sledgehammers. The big thing that distinguishes Mudvayne from a host of other metal bands (at least on this album) is the rampant use of odd, sometimes conflicting time signatures that make those hammers come at you with differing angles of attack. It's still a rhythmic, relentless assault, but the rhythms are hard to predict and pin down. Sometimes vocals are off and running in 6/8 time, while the guitar is chugging at a 4/4, the drums are rumbling at 11/16, and the bass thinks that 7/8 time is a good pace. It all sounds chaotic, but for brief moments everything comes together. That's when you get it and it all sounds good.

Individual song highlights...

Not Falling - One of the most radio ready songs on the record is also one of the best. A theme of defiance against oppression is articulated fairly well. It's pretty standard "rebellious" stuff, but it's catchy and singable.

Mercy, Severity - Probably one of my favorite songs on the album, "Mercy, Severity" shows that Mudvayne can be literate without being pretentious which is so hard to do in a rock idiom. The chorus...

Mother Of Creation, Wait
Embrace the Souls of a Lost World
Carry Them Away

Darkness, Negative, Receptive
Pour Firmament Between Our Waters
Separate the Space

Mother of Destruction, Wait
With a Belt of Skulls Strap Me Down
And Send the Ship Away

Progress With the Process
Mine The Souls From Their Casts
Pour Form and Reshape

Not bad, eh?

World So Cold - The bulk of this song is comprised of a quiet elegance, shifting to a restrained seething during the bridge and chorus. While there are a few raspy-throated screams here and there, they never really escape their prison. The whole things seems to work, though, even though it seemingly has no right to.

Shadow of a Man - A series of disjointed verses continuously collapse into a chugging chorus that provides all too short breaks from the all-over-the-place noodling going on here. Still, the drive of that chorus is hard to ignore. All while positing the question if our reflections in the mirror are actually the real thing while we are just shallow images drifting through existence.   

TEoATtC kind of falters in the last part of the album, with "12:97:24:99", the title track, and "A Key to Nothing" all seeming like filler. Maybe not like filler, but definitely with a sense of deja vu in that we've heard all this already within the record. You should end now.

GopherDave Grade: 7.2/10

Track Listing

01. Silenced
02. Trapped in the Wake of a Dream

03. Not Falling
04. (Per)version of a Truth
05. Mercy, Severity
06. World So Cold
07. The Patient Mental
08. Skrying
09. Solve Et Coagula
10. Shadow of a Man
11. 12:97:24:99
12. The End of All Things to Come
13. A Key to Nothing
Lyrics used without permission, but they are Copyright 2002 by Zomba Enterprises Inc. and Mudvayne Music Inc. (ASCAP). If there's a problem, drop me al ine and let me know.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 23 of 362

Still going... Still haven't repeated a necktie, and I won't until this Friday. Speaking of which, with all the running around of the convention and the pre-release, posting daily this weekend may be hindered. I'm still trying to figure out how that's going to go.

More than likely, I (and others) will take several pictures during the convention, and with that, y'all will catch a glimpse of my ugly face on more than one occasion. However, you will also catch pictures of me doing what I do best. Selling games, reconnecting with old friends, and reveling in an event that has been a large part of my life for many years.

For over two decades I have been attending Winter War. In that time, I have been an attendee, an event coordinator, judge for MANY events, and a vendor. All very different roles, all roles that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

It was through Winter War and its backing organization that I met my father-in-law. It was through said father-in-law that I met my wife. I've met many friends there, and enjoyed their company immensely. All-in-all, this event has been good to me and it has become a core part of my life. Winter War has also helped cement my son's love of gaming. He's met his own friends there and he looks forward to seeing them each year.

So as crazy as this weekend is looking to be, I'm looking forward to it. It's the sort of friendly chaos that brings out the best in me... ...and when I'm at my best, I'm a fun guy to be around... =)

-- GopherDave

Creativity and... OH! LOOK! A kitty!

Just over a decade ago, I fancied myself as a game designer. Specifically, a role-playing game designer. I figured "why not"? I had been playing table-top RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, Chill, Top Secret, and Champions for over twenty years by that time. I was a smart guy, and had enough gaming savvy and experience to know what works and what doesn't in a game system.

So, I began working on a random game design project I wanted to do. I plowed ahead getting mechanics just right and tweaking the setting just so... and then I'd get an idea for a completely different game. Invariably the need and desire to work on the new idea became overwhelming, and I dropped the the first game in mid-project to work on what was to be my REAL masterpiece. Then that game got dropped in favor of another... which got dropped in favor of yet another.

I have no fewer than SIX RPG game systems in various stages of completion on our computer's hard drive. It was when I realized that fact that I thought something my be wrong with me.

I had just started therapy for what I thought were some other mental issues, when this came up in session. The therapist then asked me some odd questions which brought even odder answers from me. After a session or two of back-and-forth discussion, my therapist stated that s/he thought I was mildly Bi-Polar. That sort of hit me like a brick out of nowhere. Doing some research on the subject led me to believe the "diagnosis" to be correct. Doing more research on the subject discovered that I couldn't take any of the medications they typically prescribe for bi-polar disorder due the universal side effect of screwing with my heart.

I don't think I've mentioned in the blog that I have heart issues, and have had heart issues since birth. Born with a congenital heart defect, I had open heart surgery to correct it at two and a half years of age. By the time I was thirty-two, I had become the proud owner of a pacemaker. I have flat-lined more than once in my life, and been defibrillated once (NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU CAN AVOID IT). So yeah, I have a few heart issues... and the heart issues interfered, and are still interfering, with the treatment of the head issues.

Thus, I'm left to muddle through as best as I can. I've got fantastic support in the form of my lovely wife, our children, and our friends and customers at the store. I still tweak on the occasional game design, but I recognize it for what it truly is. It's a way to keep my brain occupied, especially when slogging through a manic phase. I have far less time to work on that kind of creative endeavor anymore, but it's okay. Running the store facilitates my need to keep my brain going.

Instead of games, I work on signage... or policies... or inventory... or financials... or sorting Magic cards... or tracking down items for customer special orders... or any one of a hundred things that need to be done at any given time. Our store has become where I burn off excess energy during my manic phases, and doing what needs to be done leaves a LOT less time to actually focus of being bummed out during the cycles of depression. In its own way, the store has become a form of medication to keep me sane... ...and I'm good with that.

-- GopherDave