Archive for July 2015

Gen Con Survival Guide

Gen ConThis! Is! Gen Con!

The above line should be read in the voice of Leonidas from 300.

In case you were aware, Gen Con begins in approximately 2 days. It will be a whirlwind four days filled with gaming, camaraderie, and lots and lots of walking. It is is easy to get caught up in the excitements and run your body into the ground trying to fit in all the fun possible in those four days. I am here to provide some advice to help you have fun while not destroying yourself or others while at Gen con this year.

While at Gen Con, it is in your best interest to always keep the 3-2-1 rule in mind. This stands for 3 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower every day. This is the minimum you should have of each of these. If you can, you should try to get the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep as this will allow your body to recharge after a day filled with fun and walking. The important part of the 2 meals is the word meal. It is easy to think that you can just run and grab some chips and move on to the next game. This is incorrect. You will be moving around a lot unless you are only playing one type of game which is housed in one spot. You are going to need full meals to keep up with the energy expenditure. The shower is also to help keep you rejuvenated. After a a few hours of sleep, nothing is more rejuvenating that a nice hot shower. Indianapolis in July and August can get quite hot, sluicing off the sweat is a requirement. These three things will work together to help you enjoy your time at Gen Con. They will help you stay in a better frame of mind which will, in turn, make your interactions with other people at Gen Con better. This makes for a better convention for everyone!

Gen Con is a hub for gaming of all types. You will find board games, card games, miniatures games, LARPS, and table top role playing games here. While at Gen Con, it will be easy to get your fill of your favorite type of entertainment. But, while you are at the best four days of gaming, take a step outside your comfort zone. For role playing gamers, If your tastes run more to the traditional games, take a 4 hour block and visit Games on Demand. This will give you a quick glimpse into the types of games being made and played at the cutting edge of the hobby. It requires no planning, just show up with some generic tickets and you will get to play a game. If you are a miniatures gamer, you can take some time and wander over to the board game hall. There are games starting up almost every two hours and there is almost always guaranteed to be room at several tables. So, while you are at this glorious conglomeration of gaming, expand your horizons and try something new.

Finally, don’t be afraid to take a break. You have spent a lot of money, time, and effort to get hear. The pressure to get in as much as possible will be great. This can take something that is supposed to be fun and turn it into work. If you have schedule yourself into things back to back, don’t be afraid to cancel one or two of them. Before the day starts you can drop by customer service and turn in your tickets so that you get credit put back on your account. Then, you can take a breather and maybe just wander the vendor hall and find a hidden gem you might have missed while gaming hardcore. The down time can just as easily be used to explore Indianapolis. The city has tons of things to do with in walking distance of the convention. You can take in a bit of culture then get right back into gaming. Just don’t be afraid to say No. It is a powerful word that will give you space to enjoy your time at Gen Con.

Gen Con 2015: Orc Stomp 5K

One of the things that is happening at Gen Con that I wanted to call some special attention to is the Orc Stomp.

The Orc Stomp is a 5K fun run that is held annually at Gen Con and is raising money for the Indianapolis Ronald McDonald House. I am a sponsor for the run this year for three particular reasons.

I am a runner. It is a method of exercise that I am able to do on my own and I can do just about anywhere. I didn’t start running until I was about 100 lbs into my own weight loss and discovered that I actually enjoyed it. After working so hard to make healthy changes in my life, I want to help others make these changes as well. The Orc Stomp is a fun run which means that there is a clock but it doesn’t matter. The whole point of the run is to get gamers up and moving. The Orc Stomp provides a supportive environment for both runners and walkers to come out and get a little exercise amidst all the games we are playing over the four days of Gen Con.

This is something I wholly endorse.

The charity being supported by the Orc Stomp is the Ronald McDonald House. If you have not heard of this charity, it provides housing to family with children that have to spend extended time in the hospital due to health issues. As a child, I was born with a whole host of birth defects and I have heard the stories of my parents having to stay with relatives while I was in the hospital for weeks at a time from 6 months old to a few years. This charity does what it can to make life easier for families that have children in crisis, much like me when I was child. A charity that does this is a good idea and making it easier for them to help even one more family is well worth it.

Finally, the selfish reason.

As a sponsor of the event, I get my site’s logo on the shirt and banner. This is a pretty cool thing to me and well worth it since I get to do those two other things as well. I started this site to put myself out there and talk about the things I enjoy and maybe some commentary as well. I get to show my support for something I can get behind and I get to see my logo on a shirt and banner which pleases me to no end. It is the least important of the three but I own all my reason for supporting the Orc Stomp.

I am looking forward to the run and will have some friends walking the race too. Come up and say hello and maybe join team Geek Bear for the Orc Stomp.

 

Gen Con 2015: My Schedule

Gen ConGen con 2015 is fast approaching!

I am excited! This will be my first time attending the convention representing my own website.

My plan is to post a journal of my experiences at the convention and meet up with friends and other bears that are at Gen Con.

To that end, I thought I would post my schedule of what I will be attending at Gen Con. If you are going to be at any of these events, please come up and say hello.

Thursday, July 30th

Orc Stomp 5K Packet Pick Up   Noon

World of Darkness Storytelling Tips & Tricks 4 PM

Gaymer Gathering 6 PM

Friday, July 31st

Orc Stomp 5k 6 AM

True Dungeon Between 9 and 10 AM (TBD)

Gaymers 11 AM

Diversity in Gaming 2 PM

Saturday, August 1st

What’s Up with Trinity, Scion, Scarred Lands? 10 AM

How to Make Gaming More Inclusive  2 PM

Star Realms Gen Con Championship 3 PM

Ars Magica: What’s Next  5 PM

Queer as a Three-Sided Die 6 PM

Sunday, August 2nd

Free

 

As you can see, there are points where I have scheduled myself a little tight at points. The things that I will prioritize will be the Orc Stomp, which I will talk about in a separate post, Queer as a three-sided die, and the Star Realms Championship.

I hope to meet plenty of cool people at Gen Con and play many fun and exciting games.

 

Ant-Man

AntmanThe masterworks from Marvel Studios continue to hit the big screen like a freight train.

Ant-Man is another of Marvel’s grand experiments. In the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel has taken another of their lesser known characters and attempted to create a story that makes this hero accessible to a broader audience.

Marvel has succeeded in this endeavor.

spoiler warning on!

Ant-Man is the story of two men struggling to repair their families after their own actions have tore them apart. The movie opens as the camera pans down on the the shield headquarters as it is being built. The audience gets to watch as Hank Pym, the first Ant-Man, confronts the leadership of Shield about their attempt to duplicate his formula. The results are quite dynamic. The viewer is then introduced to the soon to be Ant-Man, Scott Lang. Scott is in the midst of saying goodbye to his fellow inmates as he is leaving prison.

Unlike Hank Pym, Scott Lang is smart guy that is just trying to get by in the world. He had worked for a large corporation that was taking advantage of people. When he tried to blow the whistle he was fired. To repay them for this kindness, Scott broke into his old company and hacked their system returning all the money that the company had pilfered from innocent people to the victims. His reward, a prison sentence.

As the story unfolds, we get to learn that both of these men have families which have suffered for their choices. Hank Pym founded a company that he no longer runs and is estranged from his daughter due to his life as Ant-Man. Scott is now living on the couch of a former cellmate and struggling to find work so that he can once again see his daughter.

The thing that I love about Ant-Man is that all the heroics are leading to s singular goal. This goal is to repair the damage done to these families and put these men’s lives back on the right path. Yes, their is plenty of action. The fight between Ant-Man and Falcon is one of my favorite Marvel movie fights. It is only outdone by the fight between Thor and the Hulk. Each step along the way, it would be easy for the story to stray away from this main objective but there are always vignettes that touch on the family dynamics that run throughout these two men’s lives.

The training montage is a good example of this. Scott has taken up the Mantle of Ant-Man but must learn to utilize all the powers that come with this title. Hank’s daughter, Hope, is working with both men. She knows that the villain of the piece, Cross must be stopped and has turned to her father for help. While training Scott, it comes out that her mother died while she was young and it was Hank’s lies and inability to cope with the loss of his wife which lead to their estrangement. Scott provides that voice of an unattached observer that serves to bridge the large chasm that has opened between Hope and Hank and allows them to begin healing. Through doing this, we get to see Scott take a more active role in repairing his relationship with his daughter and her new family as well.

Ant-Man takes a relatively unknown character and makes you fall in love with him. The movie is filled with humor and action and has a story that is interesting without being all about a slug-fest between two powerhouses. The supporting cast are all strong and help keep the movie both grounded and the humor flowing. You will even come to become attached to an ant as you watch the movie.

I would give this movie three bear paws out of four. If you have a chance, make sure to see it in Imax 3D as it is definitely worth it.

Eldritch Horror

EHContinuing in the vein of dark board games, I gave Eldritch Horror by Fantasy Flight Games a try.

In Eldritch Horror, the players take on the roles of investigators in world where the dread Old Ones are attempting to destroy the world. These intrepid investigators travel across the globe as well as dimensions in an attempt to save the world. The threats which face the players in Eldritch Horror are drawn liberally from the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Eldritch Horror is a cooperative game for 1 to 8 players age 14 and up. The listed game time is two to four hours. Each player either chooses an investigator or has one assigned to them randomly. Each investigator has a name, a story, a special ability, and a list of stats that are used throughout the game. The objective of the game is to defeat the Great Old One that is plaguing the earth. This done by achieving the goals that are attached to the Old One that is chosen as the enemy for the game. These goals will involve the players travelling about the world to defeat monsters, close gates, and acquire items.

Each player can take two actions on their turn and do whatever their special ability allows. The investigator can prepare for travel, travel, Rest, Trade, Acquire Assets, and component actions . For Example, there is a sailor character. his special ability allows him to move one sea leg of travel for free. This makes it easier for him to get to objectives in the ocean as well as move to things on coasts. This character has a high strength which is good for fighting but a low score in lore so sorcery is not his go to weapon. On his turn, he could prepare for travel twice to get two boat tickets. This would allow him to move farther next turn if her were on a coast.

EH BoardAfter all Investigators take their two actions, there is the encounter phase. This is where the rubber meets the road. The Major cities on the map each have their own deck of encounters and there are special decks for clues and exploring off the map or an expedition. These cards present a vignette and a task that must be accomplished. The investigator must roll a stat and then read either the success or failure option and suffer the consequences. Success ends with the investigator acquiring a stat boost, an item, or closing a gate. Failure leads to damage or a curse of some type.

Eldritch Horror does an excellent job of capturing the feel of a game of Call of Cthulhu. The flavor text on the cards is evocative of a world on the brink. The mechanics of the game have a slow burn feel that captures the desperation that grows as the world slides ever closer to destruction at the hands of an uncaring monster. It overcomes my main issue I have with the role playing game in that the players can actually win.

The game has three issues which were annoying to me. The first being that the learning curve is a bit steep. The rules, though not complex, are involved. To ensure the game runs smoothly, someone needs to be familiar with them before the game actually begins. Having someone aware of the rules before play will make for a much smoother game. The game set up time is the second thing that was off-putting. It took about thirty minutes to get the game up and running. This adds to the already lengthy play time making a single game of Eldritch Horror a nights entertainment. Finally, like all cooperative games, losing is not difficult. When you have invested so much time into one game, losing easily becomes a buzzkill.

Despite these things, I still enjoyed playing Eldritch Horror. It scratches that itch for Cthulhu without the need for an extended campaign. It has the role playing feel with an more easily accessed mechanic. The productions values are high and the retail price of $59.99 is not bad for a game of this length. I would give this game three bear paws out of four. Well worth picking up.

 

Dead of Winter

DoWBoxThis week I delve into the dark end of board games.

No, I am not talking about the talking board.

I am talking about the game, Dead of Winter.

Dead of Winter is a cooperative game where players take on the roles of survivors of the zombie apocalypse during the coldest part of winter. The game is designed for two to five players of the age twelve and up. The games takes about 15 minutes to set up and plays in anywhere between an hour and two hours. For my first game, the game lasted about two hours. This was mostly due to mine and another player unfamiliarity with the rules.

Game play is simple. Each player rolls a number of action die based on the number of survivors they have in play. The player then spends the die to complete actions such as killing zombies, building blockades, and searching for supplies.

The victory condition of the game is two fold. First, the colony must achieve a main objective. This is a card randomly drawn from a deck which indicates a problem that faces the colony and what resources are needed to solve the problem. Second, each player receives a personal objective that they must achieve as well in order for them to win.

For symmetry, the twist is also two fold. First these objectives must be achieved while still ensuring the day to day survival of the colony. This means keeping the zombie population down, keeping everyone fed, and making sure that morale does not drop to zero. Second, the individual objectives have the possibility of adding a betrayer into the mix. This ratchets up the tension each turn as players wait to see if there is progress made on the main objective as well as the objectives to keep morale from dropping.

CR001_Game_Set-up_005There are three mechanics in the game that help maintain the tension that you would find in a zombie movie. The exposure die is the first thing that is used to this end. Any time a player takes an action, the rules state that they roll the exposure die. This is a twelve sided die that has several sides where nothing happens, sides that indicate a wound, sides which indicate frostbite, and a side indicating a zombie bite. The worst result is the zombie bite. It kills the survivor that rolls it and threatens all other survivors nearby with a roll on the exposure die as the survivor becomes a zombie. A series of bad rolls can quickly end the game this way as one bite kills the colony. There are also the Crossroads cards. These are cards that are drown by another player on the current players turn. If the requirements of the card are met, the player reads the predicament and the player has to make a choice. These cards are all atmospheric and force the player to make hard choices for themselves and the colony. Finally, the colony has the power to exile survivors. If someone is thought to be betraying the colony, a vote may be called. If the vote is successful, the character is exiled from the colony and the player must select new characters and a new objective. The scary part is that this mechanic can be used to ensure that the main objective is achieved. In my game, part of the main objective was that half of the survivors were equipped with a weapon. As the end of the game approached with none of my survivors having a weapon, it became an hard discussion among the players whether or not to exile me. A lucky draw at the gas station on the second to last turn spared me this fate.

Coming into the game, I had reservations. After repeatedly losing at Pandemic, I was worried that a longer playing cooperative game would have a much more negative effect from losing. We didn’t lose the overall game and I was the only individual that achieved my own objective which made me the winner of the game. Despite this, I think I would have loved the game even if we had lost. The tension and the immersive nature of the cards creates a feeling much different from what I found playing pandemic. The Crossroads cards continually reinforced the desperate nature of the situation that the survivors were in. I would want to read the card in a dramatic voice and then wait for the horrible decision to be made because there were no good options. With a retail price of $59.99 and high production values of the pieces, Dead of Winter is an excellent addition to any board game library.

I would give Dead of Winter 4 Bear Paws out of 4. A definite must have for a board game lover.

Thoughts From A Run: Magic Mike XXL

Magic-Mike-XXL-Character-PostersThe movie madness of last week all began on Wednesday when a friend and I went to see Magic Mike XXL. I was not surprised to be one of the few men in the theater. Luckily I was there for the same reason as most of the women, which was to see handsome men dancing around mostly naked. I walked out of the movie having had a good time and thinking that it was a good movie.

It was during my run the next morning that I began thinking about the movie I had seen that the prior evening. For once, it isn’t what you think.

First, let me tell you a little about the movie itself. Magic Mike XXL takes place a few years after the end of the first movie. The movie opens with us following Mike as he is working at his own business. The audience is treated to watching him and his employee work hard at delivering and creating furniture. at the end of a rough day, Mike receives a call from Tarzan implying that Dallas has passed away. When Mike shows up at the “Wake”, it turns out that Dallas just left and the guys from the show just wanted to talk to Mike. Dallas has abandoned the group just as they were heading to the male stripper convention and want Mike to come back and help them out. What follows is a road trip of discovery and dancing.

It was while running that certain things about the movie became clear. One of the first realizations was that the story was a lot more solid than the first movie. Yes, I know it sounds a bit silly but it is true. The first movie was a bit of a mess and depended on the audience being distracted by hot men dancing around. This time there are still hot men dancing but there is a story to surround them that is interesting to watch and allows the characters to shine. I will freely admit that the road trip of self-discovery is pretty standard story but it works really well for these characters. In addition, the laughs that come from the situations felt honest and unforced which was unexpected.

rs_820x1210-150417162625-634-twitch-magic-mike-xxl.jw.41715The biggest thing that hit me as I was running was that the movie was a bit subversive. On the face it is a movie about aging male strippers. But hidden through the movie are subtle statements about diversity, gender, and identity. One of the scenes in the movie has the group of guys struggling with the depression of having to head to this event ill-prepared. To improve their self-esteem, the group heads to an open stage evening at a gay bar. The idea is that the stage is open for anyone that wants to vogue to get up and strut their stuff. The men are their to show off and take in the adoration of the crowd. They don’t treat the patrons, or the drag queen M.C. any differently. To the contrary, they value the adoration of the crowd and need their approbation. At the after-party, there are the requisite hot girls hanging about but the Drag Queen is part of the circle around the fire.

This same scene introduces one of the major female characters of the movie. Zoe is woman that is hanging out with the drag queens from the bar taking pictures. She begins taking pictures of Mike that night and they begin a flirtation. During their conversation, she shares with Mike her drag name and mike shares his drag name with her. Zoe ends the conversation by stating that she is currently in a girl phase when it comes to relationships. When Zoe shows up again, she appears to be depressed. Mike takes the time to find out what is wrong and attempts to fix the problem if he can. This is the point where one would expect the dude to pressure her, but it never happens.

Another small thing that is easily overlooked is the women that the men dance for. In the first movie, the women that were graced by the male dancers were stereotypical Hollywood beauties. In this movie, the women who are danced for are more representative of all women. In addition, the women are all treated with a level of adoration that is never belittled later in the movie. This is highlighted by a scene where the group is trying to convince Richie that he can create his own routine. They pull off of the road at a convenience store. They point out the woman working the counter and tell him that he has to get her to smile. The woman in question is your normal, every-day distracted convenience store clerk. She has her face buried in her phone. Richie begins to slink around the store and works very hard to get her attention and earn her smile. When she does smile, the group celebrates his success at making her happy. At no point is the woman ever treated as something less than deserving of his attention.

Finally, the movie takes a jab at gender stereotyping. There is a scene in the movie involving Andie MacDowell. The men have arrived at her home as her daughter has told them that they could stay but did not inform mother or her friends. When these older women meet the men, there is this awkwardness and discomfort that fills the screen. The groups dance about the subject of what the men do until the young women come in and broach the topic. With the cat out of the bag, the tension eases somewhat. The awkwardness hangs around until MacDowell’s character confesses that she has only ever had one man and that her daughter shouldn’t have to live that way. It comes out as a lament for how women are told to be virginal and keep themselves for one man. With the male strippers in the room, the hypocrisy of this expectation is apparent. It is after this revelation that Tarzan, the quiet one, finally speaks. He opines that he wishes that he could find what she had, the one person to be with hold and cherish when the opposite is what is expected of him.

Magic Mike XXL is a movie filled with handsome men, wonderful dancing, subtle social commentary, and an embracing of diversity that is unexpected in this type of movie. Definitely a three bear paws out of four movie.

Terminator: Genisys

TGThe movie madness of last week continued with a viewing of Terminator: Genisys.

When I first heard that there was going to another addition to the terminator Franchise, I was not very excited. It was very difficulty to see how this idea could be revisited without feeling tired and overstated. It was not until the first trailer that I began to entertain the thought that Terminator: Genisys would be anything but a snooze fest.

The trailer did it’s job admirably. It showed a movie that embraced an aging Schwarzenegger and made this part of the story. It also showed plenty of action which one expects from this franchise.

So, I and my friends went and saw it in the VIP section of our local theater. This is section with bigger seats, food and drinks, and a server to take care of you throughout the movie. It has become my favorite way to see movies.

Terminator: Genisys returns to the founding moment of the franchise. The audience is treated to another take on John Connor sending Kyle Reese to the past to ensure that Sarah Connor remains safe. In this incarnation, as Kyle is being sent back in time, John Connor is attacked by an unknown assailant. The struggle causes some damage to the time transport but does more damage to the time stream. As Kyle is being transported back in time(cue the Huey Lewis music), his mind is deluged with memories of a past he never truly saw. In the flash back, the audience is shown a young Kyle speaking to a mirror. He is stating Genisys is Skynet and a date in 2017.

Kyle land in the past and must quickly find clothes and move to find Sarah Connor. It does not take long for Kyle to discover things are not quite as they seem. As he is busy putting on his pants, a police officer shows up and reveals itself to be a T-1000. It proceeds to attempt to eliminate Kyle Reese. In the ensuing fight Kyle is captured by actual cops and is placed in Handcuffs. After one of the arresting officers is killed by the T-1000, Sarah Connor shows up an rescues our hero.

What follows is an abundance of car chases, gun fights, explosions, and explanations of time travel that will make you go cross-eyed As revealed in later trailers, John Connor has been compromised by Skynet and transformed into a new type of terminator. He has also been sent back in time to prevent the death of his new parent. Instead of being worried about hurting his mother and father, John believes that he and his parents are somehow adrift in time and that killing them now would ensure the safety of Skynet. Thus, he begins to hunt them down. We even get more time travel as Sarah and Kyle are sent to 2017 to stop Skynet from being activated.

I like that the writers behind this new iteration of the Terminator franchise decided to use a change in timelines to refresh the story. Ignoring paradox and whatnot, when dealing with time travel, there are always opportunities to change the story by allowing something to alter the timeline. In Terminator: Genisys, the audience is shown a simple parlor trick to start off. The scene of John Connor being attacked is given as explanation of how the time line changed. As the story unfolds, the actual hiccup in the time line appears much earlier when both Skynet and someone else send terminators back to eliminate Sarah at an earlier time in her life. spinning off from there, a new time line is born providing the possibility of fresh new stories in the Terminator universe.

For this bear’s money, Terminator: Genisys was okay. It provides the action and adventure that one expects from a Terminator film. It also has some light humor which is a call back to an earlier film in the franchise. It could have been better if the two leads had a bit more chemistry. Sarah saves Kyle’s life and he comes across as ungrateful and overprotective. Genisys would have benefited from flipping the script from the original Terminator and allowing Kyle to be the one is need of rescuing. He is the fish out of water in this story and at no point is this allowed to provide impetus for a connection with Sarah.

Still, all in all, a good entry into the franchise and worth seeing at a matinee showing. I would give Terminator: Genisys two out of four bear paws.

 

Inside Out

inside-out-posterThis past week has been movie madness.  This will be reflected in the posts for this week as I talk about everything that I’ve watched.

The best way to start the week would be to talk about the new Pixar movie, Inside Out.

One of the things to note about Inside Out, is that it has the signature Pixar short at the beginning. This one is entitled, Lava.

Lava is story of a volcano in the ocean that happily watches everything find a partner to help fill their lives and the song he sings bout hoping to find someone for himself. It is catchy little tune with a strong Hawaiian vibe. We watch as the volcano sings his song for eons and slowly descends into the sea. In all this time, he never gives up singing and hoping, even when it might be his last song. Being a Pixar short, the volcano is lucky to have another volcano rise up near him who had heard his song. She had been enraptured by the song and started singing it when she arose from the sea. Her song is able to revive our Volcano so that they can be together.

It was so cute!

Inside Out is the story of Riley and the emotions in her head that help run things. The story opens with the birth of Riley and of the emotion, Joy. The audience then gets to watch as the other emotions are born and the system of personality is built for Riley. The audience is shown how memories are made and introduced to the idea that there are core memories upon which a person’s personality is built.

The thrust of this story of is how Riley and her emotions deal with the major life change of moving cross country to start a new life in a very different place. Riley and her family are from Minnesota. Riley is a hockey playing goofball that is honest and family oriented. There are core memories which are centered around each of these things. Each of these memories are also colored by a single emotion, namely Joy. When the family finally gets to California is when things start to fall apart. The transition causes the creation of a core memory that isn’t colored with joy, but with sadness. The effort to to keep the sad core memory from creating something she does not want, Joy and Sadness end up struggling and all the core memories get dumped out of the command center and lost in long term memory. Joy and Sadness are also lost in long term memory leaving Anger, Disgust, and Fear in charge of the command center. The movie shows us a child overwhelmed by the enormity of the changes taking place both externally and internally and the trouble that ensues.

Once again, Pixar has created something special with Inside Out. It is a movie that easily appeals to kids and adults alike. The story about Rylie and her emotions is easily accessible to kids. The concepts are presented in a fashion that is entertaining, with the executive function of the brain being presented as a control center ran by the emotions. The little power struggles that occur between the emotions is cute and kept the kids laughing at the showing that I went to. These same struggles between the emotions are what kept me engaged as well. There is this underlying theme that Joy works very hard to keep the other emotions from ever taking control of the command center for very long. There is a scene where the day ends and Joy looks over the wall of memories and lets out a sigh of relief when the wall is predominantly yellow, representing joy. This struggle to be happy all the time leaves the other emotions ill-equipped to handle situations as they have no frame of reference how to actually run the command center since they were never allowed to while joy was around. Watching this struggle provides a depth to the story that I and other adults would find interesting.

I also enjoyed how the movie portrays the running of the mind as it develops. Each memory is shown as globe that is colored by a single emotion. As the story progresses, we get to watch as Joy comes to understand that this is a both overly simplistic way of viewing events as well as self-serving. There is a poignant scene in the chasm of forgetting where Joy is enshrouded in shadows and the only light is from the core memory that is tinged with Sadness. As Joy kneels among the drab gray memories that have been forgotten, she reflects back on a statement made by Sadness about one of the core memories. The core memory is about the day when Rylie’s parents and team mates had rallied around her to make her feel better. Sadness remember this even because right before this core memory was made, Rylie missed the goal that would have won the game. Instead, her team lost and it was her fault and she was devastated. This joyous core memory would not have exited without that sadness. simplistic yet elegant.

Also, fair warning, there is a scene in the movie that is desgined to yank hard at your heart strings. When I saw the movie, the theater was full of kids the appropriate age for the movie. When the scene around Rylie’s imaginary friend plays out, all the kids were crying and it made it hard for this bear not totear up as well. Pixar certainly knows how to rip tear out your heart.

All in all, Inside Out is a solid Pixar movie, It is somethings kids will love and adults will enjoy.

Three out of Four Bear Paws for Inside Out. A movie definitley worth seing on the big screen with the family.

Thoughts From A Run: Ravenloft

ravenloft-strahdI thought I would start a new category here at Geek Bear’s Den. I’ve entitled it thoughts from a run. I enjoy running and it gives me time to think and sometime the oddest things jump into my head. So, I thought I would share them with the internet.

Isn’t that what the cubs do nowadays?

I normally run early in the morning. I get up around 4:30 am on the weekdays and head to the gym and run after a workout. Today, I hit the pavement around 5:45 am. It was a nice cool morning, in the mid-60’s with moderate humidity. A nice day for a run. As I was heading into my second mile, I ran into a thick fog. It flowed out of the small valleys that are scattered around the region where my gym is situated. With the predawn light and the eerie quiet of an empty road, It felt like the mists of Ravenloft had come to take me.

For those who may not be familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, Ravenloft is a setting for the game. It is subtitled the Domain of Dread and was a world filled with both fantasy tropes and Gothic horror. It was a demi-plane that served as prison for beings of immense evil. These beings would commit some heinous crime, normally in the name of their twisted version of love, honor, or some other virtue. Gothic, remember. The mists would come from nowhere at the height of the drama and sweep them away to Ravenloft. In Ravenloft, they would be given a domain wherein they were normally almost all powerful. The catch? They could never leave the boundaries of their domain and they would be forever tortured by the one thing for which they truly ached. If they killed their true love in a rage, they would be constantly reborn, only to continually slip through their fingers.

Yes, I know I slipped into Basil Exposition mode there. It’s important.

This struck me this way during my run due to the the Supreme court’s recent finding that I have the right to marry.

You see, waiting for the decision in regards to this was rather fraught. States, like Indiana, were working hard to make it legal okay to discriminate against us members of the LGBT community. Kansas had made it legal for the state to discriminate in the hiring and firing of state employees if they were members of the LGBT community. There was a bill floated in California to make it legal to shoot members of the LGBT community. I could go on. This much negativity is rough and combine it with the constant statement by conservative religious people that we are immoral and will destroy the fabric of society certainly makes the case for evil.

Couple this with the vociferous outcry of those self-same religious conservatives after the ruling and my own home county declining to issue any marriage licenses due to religious convictions, the idea that the mists of Ravenloft had come for me kinda makes sense.

As I ran and contemplated the idea, I began to chuckle an smile. Ravenloft is a land of dark colors, drab individuals, cloudy skys pregnant with rain. If I was to have my own domain, I would certainly wreck the Gothic aesthetic. Instead of bleak country filled with angst, I pictured mine as bright and colorful. I would be the proud Pappa Bear taking care of my subjects to ensure that they were able to live the lives they truly wanted. There would be singing, dancing, education, and equality that could not be found in any other domain. The curse that comes with a domain would be devastating and two fold. The first would be that my domain would be a bright shining beacon in a world full of darkness, horror and hatred. The people of my domain would certainly want to travel and I would not be able to stop them despite knowing that they would literally being going to a horrific doom. the second does fit well with the Gothic milieu though. I would be the big bear that is surrounded by love and light and forever be alone. Every time someone would grow close to me, the mists would either come and take them or a jealous Dark Lord from another domain would ensure that my curse is fulfilled.

It was just an odd thought about the ven diagram that my life can be at times. It made the run easier and entertained me with thoughts about how I would be able to close my borders with rainbows and welcome adventurers fleeing from the wrath of another Lord.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we keep making the progress on equality both for LGBT and all the minorities here in America.