Newcastle teamed up with Caledonian Brewery in Scotland to make a Scotch Ale, and they hired me to tell you about it. We made a pair of really funny videos together, and this is one of them. I’m super proud of this, because I helped write it, and got to improvise a lot of the silly bits. I hope you enjoy it.
Anonymity, in some cases a key civil liberty, also enables society’s worst actors. The loudest, most obnoxious, most toxic voices are able to drown out the rest of us—a spectacle that has nearly pushed me to quit the video-game world entirely in recent months. I don’t need to hear about the sexual conquest of my mother from a random 12-year-old on Xbox Live ever again.
But here’s the thing: that random 12-year-old I seem to encounter so often? He probably isn’t 12. According to the ERSB, the average age of a video gamer is 34. That 34-year-old is certainly old enough to know better, but he probably came of age in an era when trolling was not just acceptable but encouraged by a generation of players who rarely, if ever, had to see the actual people they were playing with. No wonder he feels enabled by digital anonymity. It means he never has to face the consequences of his actions, or acknowledge that there is a human being on the other side of the screen.
It’s time to break this cycle—and to teach gamers that they can compete without being competitive, that they can win and lose without spewing racist, misogynist, homophobic bile at their fellow gamers. But doing so requires casting off the cloak of anonymity.
Early feedback via Twitter is split between a majority, who are tired of being harassed while gaming, and a minority who seem to believe I am advocating for an end to online privacy (which I clearly am not). I’m interested to know your thoughts on this column, so please read it, and comment here, if you don’t mind. If you’d like to read more about it, I highly recommend this article, which quotes my friend, Stepto, at length.
I’m hosting DC ALL ACCESS this week. Here’s the trailer, which makes me laugh:
Tabletop Season Three premieres in just two days!! We put together a special trailer for this season that asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind…
I signed agreements to do two more audiobooks. I can’t reveal their titles, yet, but I will as soon as I get permission.
Next Monday, I’m performing in a live show here in Los Angeles, with Hal Lublin, and John Ross Bowie. It’s Hot Comedy Dreamtime, written by my friend Joseph Scrimshaw.
In a couple hours, I’ll sit on a seat which will magically hoist itself into in the sky, and I’ll end my day in New York City. I don’t think I can talk about why I’m going, yet, but I’ll be there for just under 24 hours, for something really awesome that I can’t wait to share with the world.
PLAY MORE GAMES!
I have additional thoughts, based on your comments, which I wrote while in a seat in the sky. They are behind the jump.
I’ve wanted tattoos for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally felt like I could make good decisions about what I’d permanently put on my body.
At first, I thought maybe I was too old, but when I asked my friends who have lots of tattoos what they thought, they all said that waiting until I was in my 40s was a great idea, because it means I won’t ever have to reckon with an unfortunate decision made during Spring Break in my 20s. That reassurance, coupled with me dedication to not-fuck-giving about what random people think, was all it took for me to go ahead and get some artwork to live on my body.
First, I got Anne’s heartbeat tattooed on my left forearm. She wrote a lovely story about it on her blog, which I encourage you to read (in fact, even though I’m a little biased, I think everything she writes on her blog is pretty great, and worth your time.)
I wanted her heartbeat because I wanted to carry part of her with me wherever I went. I wanted her heartbeat on my left arm because I’m left handed, and I felt that it symbolized her guiding me. I wanted it on the inside of my arm, because I wanted to be able to look at it whenever I thought about her, and I wanted to be able to lay her heartbeat against mine whenever I missed her.
It was quick and easy and before my artist was even finished with it, I was making plans for another. They say you’ll either have a single tattoo, or a whole bunch of them, and I see myself landing squarely in the latter category.
A few months later, I went back to see Kim, my artist, and started work on a fairly large octopus piece on my right forearm. There are a lot of reasons that I wanted an octopus, but they’re personal and I’m keeping them to myself. I will allow this: the octopus is amazing, and the more I learn about it, the more I love it.
It took three sessions, for a total of about six hours, to finish her (I don’t know why, but I know that the octopus I have on my arm is female) and when she was finally finished, I felt like she needed a name.
“What are you going to name her?” Kim asked me as she put a bandage on my arm.
Maybe it was the endorphins talking, because I’m a pretty sciencey, skeptical, get-your-woo-bs-out-my-face-because-SCIENCE! guy, but I said, “I’m not sure, but she’ll tell me when she’s ready.”
A few weeks went by, and I tried out different names for her, but nothing felt right. Maybe naming her was a silly thing to do, like when I named my neato robot vacuum “Dobby”, and then felt terrible when I kicked it in the dark, and it shook side to side like I’d hurt it (it was making sure that he — it. It. Not he, it — was still connected to its charging station).
But one day, I think during Comicon, I was walking with my friend, Joseph Scrimshaw, and he asked me if she had a name.
“Not yet,” I told him, “but I decided that she’ll tell me what it is, when she’s ready to name herself.”
I had no endorphin excuse, this time, but after several weeks, giving her a name had become A Thing.
The words came out of my mouth, and a name popped into my head. It was not a name I ever would have chosen, but it was there, all the same.
“She kind of looks like she should be called ‘Gloria’,” he said.
Gloria was the name that had popped into my head, two seconds earlier.
“Okay, this is weird, but not only is that a name I’d never choose on my own, but it’s the name that popped into my head just before you said it. So I guess her name is Gloria.”
I don’t know what it means, I don’t know why I chose it, I realize that we could have heard or seen or otherwise subconsciously had something happen around us that made that name land on us at the same time, but whatever the rational explanation, the idea that this ink on my arm, which is in the shape of an octopus, assigned a name to itself — to herself — is cool to me, so I accept it.
Today, I went in to see Kim, to get Gloria some touch ups. When I was done, she looked like this:
Eventually, I’m going to get my right arm sleeved. I talked with Kim about some of my ideas today, and we’ll probably get to work on them next month.
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.
I co-hosted DC All Access today, with my friend Tiffany. I think it will be released in the SOOOOOOON.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.