Category Archives: blog

Halloween stuff and Tabletop stuff

Happy Thursday!

To begin: I did a Not The Flog that was released this morning. In it, I talk about the season three premiere date for Tabletop, offend nearly everyone for one reason or another, and bounce around on my couch while I wear a fancy Captain Kirk tunic.

Oh, I also talk about some dumb Halloween stuff that is occasionally amusing to me.

NEXT.

I co-hosted DC All Access today, with my friend Tiffany. I think it will be released in the SOOOOOOON.

ALSO.

I listened to a fucking amazing NPR show this morning, from Snap Judgment, called SPOOKED V. It’s a collection of fantastically creepy and scary stories, just in time for Halloween. I highly recommend it.

FINALLY.

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on archive.org recently, and have been doing my best not to completely fall down the rabbit hole of amazing films and weird bullshit they have there, but this time of year, I just love checking out some of their old and creepy silent films. I mentioned on Not The Flog that you can see The Golem there, but you can also watch a gorgeous transfer of Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, a silent Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde short, and the unforgettable 1960s B-Film classic, Carnival of Souls.

I’ve been having such a good time downloading and remixing things from the Internet Archive, I almost feel like I could just write about it and publish the stuff I make for the next several weeks, but I have other duties to which I must attend. So until next time, have a happy Halloween, and PLAY MORE GAMES!

 

Tabletop season 3 – the complete list of games and players

Last night, we wrapped production on the third season of Tabletop. It was bittersweet for me, as always, because I’m so wiped out and teetering on exhaustion, the idea of sleeping until I don’t need to sleep is very appealing … but I’m also sad, because I love the crew so much, and they are such a joy to work with. We truly have become a family over the last three seasons, and it’s going to take me a few days not only to decompress from the intense production schedule, but to get used to not seeing all these people who I genuinely like for 12 hours a day.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we did this season, and I am super excited to get to work on editing and the other post-production tasks, starting on Friday.

For those of you wondering, here is the complete list of games and players from this season, in the order they were played (not the order they will be released):

  • Tokaido – Jason Wishnov, J. August Richards, Chris Kluwe
  • Concept – Joseph Scrimshaw, Rett and Link
  • Roll For It and Sushi Go! – Jason Ritter, Jennifer Hale, John Ross Bowie
  • Forbidden Desert – Felicia Day, Alan Tudyk, Jon Heder
  • Love Letter and Coup – The Fine Brothers and Felicia Day
  • Hare & Tortoise and Council of Verona – Jessica Merizan, David Kwong, Alison Haislip
  • Sheriff of Nottingham – Meredith Salenger, Ashley Clements, Derek Mio
  • Stone Age – Nika Harper, Jesse Cox, Jordan Maron
  • Geek Out – Anne Wheaton, Bonnie Burton, Clare Kramer
  • Five Tribes: Jenna Busch, Richard Garriot, Satine Phoenix
  • Epic Spell Wars: Jonah Ray, Emily Gordon, Veronica Belmont
  • Mice & Mystics, Chapter One – Anne Wheaton, Ryan Wheaton, Nolan Kopp
  • Dread – Molly Lewis, Ivan Van Norman, Laura Bailey
  • Catan Junior – Emily Anderson, Brett, Baligrad, Adam Chernick
  • Libertalia – Karen Gillan, Seth Green, Clare Grant
  • Kingdom Builder – Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Platt, Paul Scheer
  • Dead of Winter – Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, Ashley Johnson
  • Legendary – Allie Brosh, Mark Fischbach, Brea Grant
  • Tabletop After Dark: Cards Against Humanity – Aisha Tyler, Ali Spagnola, Laina Morris

Our backers also get a special mini-episode that includes a whole bunch of behind the scenes stuff with our crew. I’m keeping that stuff secret unless backers want to talk about it and share it. Also, we have an episode order as well as a season premiere date, but we haven’t announce that stuff, yet.

 

Peak Zombie

This is my intro for Dead of Winter. I thought it may spark an interesting discussion about what I call Peak Zombie:

I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead. It hit me the way certain things can only hit a child’s fragile, eggshell mind: it was gory, and disturbing, and pretty scary. It also made me wonder what I would do if I found myself in the zombie apocalypse. Would it really be living if I spent the rest of my life trapped inside a mall? At what point does surviving cease to be living? Why am I asking myself incredibly complex and difficult philosophical questions, instead of playing The Legend of Zelda?

Dawn of the Dead piqued my interest in George A. Romero’s version of the zombie apocalypse, and I devoured — sorry — Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and even Return of the Living Dead. For many years, I was a zombie fiend. In fact, every Halloween from 16 to 30, I was some version of a zombie. I wrote stories about zombies, I read stories about zombies, and if there was something with a zombie in it, it was on my wish list.

But sometime in the last few years, we hit Peak Zombie, and the truth is: I’m kind of over it. The Living Dead are rarely a metaphor for consumerism, conformity, militarization, and complacency. In much of popular culture, zombies are little more than cannon fodder and background noise in corporate entertainment that’s rushed to cash in on the public’s insatiable — some may say zombie-like — hunger for stories that pit a scrappy band of human survivors against a relentless, endless, faceless mob of interchangeable, shambling bad guys.

But every now and then, something breaks through the fortified wall of hardened, Hipster cynicism I’ve built around my survival compound, and reminds me that we keep returning to stories where zombies are threatening our very existence because even if the undead aren’t explicitly standing in for some profound and specific commentary on our modern world, they can, in fact, stand in for time, age, hunger, despair, and every existential threat we worry about when the night is darkest, and we can’t find the light.

Today on Tabletop, Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, and Ashley Johnson are here to explore a game that puts us right in the middle of the depths of our fears, during the worst of  the zombie apocalypse. As if staying alive and pushing back the undead wasn’t hard enough, one of us may very well be working against the rest of us, to ensure that none of us make it through the DEAD OF WINTER.

Tabletop Season Three: Days Zero Through Two

Today is our third day of production on season three of Tabletop, so I thought I’d share some pictures from behind the scenes so far.

IMG_20141007_193827

Here’s our hardworking production intern, Melissa, writing some of the 7000+ names of the backers who chose the “make Melissa and Kevin write my name on the set” perk.

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Voice Actors! SAG’s national board needs to hear from us. This proposed contract is a disaster for us.

Proposed contract for voice actors is a disaster
Click to embiggen

This is really important: currently, 100% of voice work for streaming video on  demand (Netflix, Amazon, etc., — you know, the future of our business) is budgeted at “under 1.3 million dollars” and for the next three years of this proposed contract, voice actors will be doing work that will run forever, without those actors receiving residuals for their work. Even worse, there is no minimum scale, no limit on number of character voices, no limit on session duration, and no limit on episodes per session.

The proposed contract, if ratified, will create conditions for voice actors that are essentially identical to working without a union to protect and negotiate for us. This contract is a disaster, and we must not allow it to be ratified.

Voice Over actors, today is the last day we can contact our national board at SAG and tell them to not ratify this proposed voice over contract. It’s a terrible deal for us, and while (speaking as a former board member) I believe that the national board will do the right thing if they know and understand how this will affect voice actors. But I don’t know how many members of the national board are voice actors. I looked at the current board, and I don’t recognize a single name there from our part of the industry, and that worries me.

I don’t know if they understand how much this will hurt voice actors, and if they understand that if this contract is ratified, we may as well be working without a union at all. I’m sure that, when they do understand that, they will refuse to ratify this terrible contract.

But they have to know, and they have to understand.

If you are a union voice actor, please contact the SAG national board TODAY, and tell them to vote against this proposed contract. Today, Friday, October 10th, is the deadline to contact the board before its next meeting.

Further, you may wish to make it clear that voice actors deserve to vote directly on a contract that affects us, instead of our livelihoods and working conditions being put into the hands of people who may not work behind a mic as often as we do.

Big Shot Rob

From a reader, printed with permission:

Check this out…

Years ago I was watching some NBA game. T-Mobile (or some carrier) had this Five Friends, or some damn thing, promotion.

They were asking players to name their top five moments.

So, Horry listed five of his big game winning shots, and of course, you know his nickname is Big Shot Rob.

The interesting thing is he said that in one game he was 0-for-10 going into the final period and another game he was 0-for-11. So, two of his five career defining successes came when he was on the brink of total failure. Had the teams lost these crucial games, his complete 0-for meltdown would be brutally scrutinized. ESPECIALLY, if he had taken the final shot and missed. Coaches could be fired. Players traded. Obviously, this shit happens when teams lose a playoff or finals game.

So, some observations...

First, the coach was willing to put a player in who was DEAD FUCKING COLD that game. In the fourth quarter, at a key moment, in a huge game. That says everything about Horry’s reputation.

Second, Horry himself took the shot and did not let his previous failures affect him. As someone who has played basketball for decades, I know that when you start to miss, it gets in your head. But Horry (and most professionals) play their average. They know if they miss five, they can easily make five in a row and get their 50%.

Third, NOBODY remembers Horry going scoreless in those games, leading up to the final shot. I’m a lifelong Lakers fan and I didn’t know it. All they remember is he’s Big Shot Rob and that’s all that will ever stick to him.

I remember one game where they showed the Lakers locker room before some big showdown with the Kings or someone. Everyone was jacked up or anxious and Horry was stretched out on a bench, asleep.

Big Shot Rob.

There Came An Echo

I’m working on a video game this week, called There Came An Echo. It looks amazing, the story is fantastic, and cast is pretty great (if I do say so myself).

Here’s a little spoiler, with some of the dialog I recorded yesterday:

TCAE_Dialog

Rose City Comicon and Portland

This weekend, Anne and I went to Portland for Rose City Comicon. While we were there, we visited my sister and her family, saw a strange ball of fire in the sky that I don’t usually seen in Portland, and had an absolutely fantastic time at the convention.

I took a bunch of pictures, and I think they tell the story of the weekend very well, so this is mostly a picture post. I’m going to put the rest of this behind a jump, so my blog doesn’t take forever to load.

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From the Vault: In Which I Fail A Vital Saving Throw

In a few hours, I’m hosting a conversation with Randall Munroe, the creator of xkcd, author of the awesome book What If? (I hear the audio version is pretty great), and a really great guy who I am privileged to call my friend.

Of course, the first time I met Randy, it didn’t go very well for me, which is the subject of this post From The Vault, In Which I Fail A Vital Saving Throw – originally published in August, 2008.

It was the end of the day, and my blood sugar was dangerously low. Colors and sounds were louder than they should have been. My feet and legs had been replaced by two dull, throbbing stumps that barely supported the weight of my body.

Most of the day, I’d been signing autographs for and talking with countless excited fans. Some of them shook my hand too hard and too long with a sweaty grip that trembled a little too much. Some of them stared at me uncomfortably. Some of them rambled incoherently. All of them were genuinely friendly, though.

I took it all in stride, because I’ve done this convention thing for — my god — two decades, and even though I don’t think I’m anything worth getting excited about, I know that it happens sometimes, and I know how people occasionally react. I never laugh at them or make them feel lame. I never make jokes at their expense. I am understanding and grateful that they want to talk to me at all. I wouldn’t want to talk to me if I was trapped with me in an elevator, and I certainly wouldn’t be excited about the prospect if faced with the option. I am always grateful, and take nothing for granted.

A voice boomed over my head, blasting right through my eardrums and exploding inside my skull. The convention floor was closing, it announced, and it was time for all of us to get the fuck out.

Red-jacketed security guards emerged from shadows I hadn’t noticed during the day. A handful at first, then a dozen, like zombies pouring through a breach in a barricade. They shambled forward relentlessly, single-mindedly driving a mass of exhibitors and straggling fans toward the doors.

I picked up my backpack, inexplicably heavier than it was before I emptied pounds of books from it earlier in the day, and heaved it onto my shoulders. My back screamed.

“You have to vacate the hall,” a girl said to me. She couldn’t have been older than eighteen, but clearly wasn’t going to take any shit from anyone, especially someone in my weakened state.

“I’m on my way,” I said. I turned to say goodbye to my boothmates, and saw the unmistakable visage of Jeph Jacques walk past behind them.

I’ve done this convention thing for a long time, so I knew that it was unlikely that I’d have a chance to say more than three words to Jeph before the convention was over. If I didn’t seize the moment, I probably wouldn’t get another chance. I smiled at the girl, faked to my right, and spun to my left around her. I nearly fell over from the effort.

“Hey . . .” she began. I took two quick steps away from her with my last bits of strength.

“Jeph!” I called out. He kept walking. He’s done this convention thing before, and, like me, knows that when someone calls out your name at the end of the day it’s best to pretend you didn’t hear them so you can just get the hell out of the hall and to a place where you can recover your hit points. This place is usually called a bar.

“Jeph! It’s Wil Wheaton!” I called out. I don’t know Jeph well enough to call him a friend, but we’ve talked at shows before, and I’ve always enjoyed our limited interactions. Maybe if he knew it was me, and not some random person, he’d stop so I could say hello. Maybe he wouldn’t want to talk to me if we were trapped in an elevator, but I knew the security guards were closing in, and if I could get into his Circle of Protection: Exhibitor, maybe I could stay there for a couple of minutes.

He stopped and turned around. He smiled wearily, and said hello. We shook hands, and I noticed that he’d been walking with someone.

“Hey, have you ever met Randall?” He said.

His companion turned to me and extended his hand. My brain screamed at me, “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD THAT’S RANDALL MUNROE! BE COOL!”

Before I knew what was happening, my hand shot out from my body and grabbed his. I incoherently babbled something about how much I love his work. He tried to say something, but I just. kept. talking.

My brain screamed at me, “SHUT UP! YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF YOU ASSHOLE!”

My mouth, however, was out of my control. I continued to ramble, vomiting a turgid cascade of genuinely-excited praise and gratitude all over him.

A full minute later, I realized, to my abject horror, that my hand was still shaking his. I held it too hard in a sweaty, trembling hand. Darkness flashed at the edges of my vision, and I felt weak. I pulled my hand back, a little too quickly, mumbled an apology, and shut my mouth.

They said things to me, but I couldn’t hear them over my own brain screaming at me, “GET OUT OF THERE YOU COCKASS. YOU HAD ONE CHANCE TO MEET RANDALL MUNROE AND YOU BLEW IT! I HATE YOU! YOU GO TO HELL NOW! YOU GO TO HELL AND YOU DIE!”

A hand fell on my shoulder. I turned toward it, and saw the security girl.

“Sir, you need to leave the hall.” She said. “Now.” She had backup: a pair of similarly-aged teens, two boys working on their first mustaches. They fixed me with a steely-eyed gazes.

I have never been so relieved to be kicked out of anyplace in the world as I was then.

“I guess I better go,” I said. I took a short breath, and lamely added, “it’s really nice to meet you. I really do love your work.”

My brain did the slow clap.

His reply did not penetrate the wall of shame I’d constructed around myself, though I clearly recall that he didn’t make fun of me, or make me feel stupid, or let on that I was a sweaty, shaking, raving lunatic. He didn’t appear to be grateful that we weren’t trapped in an elevator, though I suspect he must have been. As I fled the hall, I was grateful for his kindness, patience, and understanding.

Once outside, I went to a place where I could forget my appalling embarrassment.

That place was called a bar.

 

tidepools

Anne and I were standing at the edge of some tidepools, watching tiny fish swim around in them.

“They look just like little versions of the fish we see on the reef,” I said.

“I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what they are,” Anne replied. A wave crashed against the rocks nearby, and the water near our feet gently rose a few inches. As the tide ran out, it created a small current between two tide pools, drawing some new fish into the one we were watching. They swam around together, like they’d always been there.

“You know how I like to think about nature being really simple?” I said, “like how it just repeats little things over and over again to make bigger, more complex things?”

“Like when you talk about fractals?” She said. Another wave hit the rocks, splashing brilliant white foam into the air.

“Yeah, sort of, ” I said. “So let’s look at these tide pools, and consider that the fish who live in them have no idea that, just a short distance away, is the entire ocean, and it’s filled with giant versions of themselves.”

“It’s not necessarily a short distance for them,” she added.

“Dammit. You’re right. That messes this up a little bit, but go with me for a second.” I put my hand into the water and the fish darted away. “These fish may not even know about the fish one tidepool over, separated by a few inches of rocks, unless the tide pushes or pulls them there.

“So. Imagine that we are in this tidepool, and we have no idea that there’s a huge ocean just a short distance away. Or imagine that something is looking at us in this tidepool, and we have no way at all to even perceive that they are there.”

“Woah.”

“Right? And the tidepool can’t exist without the ocean, and the tides can’t exist without the moon, and the moon can’t exist without the Earth, and the Earth can’t exist without the solar system…”

She looked at me, and I trailed off.

“I’m just saying, I think it would be neat if we humans could get out of our tidepool, someday. I’d like to see what’s on the other side of the rocks.”

She clasped my hand in hers. “Let’s go for a swim,” she said.