Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Don’t Steal Music and that’s How I Rebel

By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

I think sometimes that when society shifts a certain way that it’s society’s duty to stop and shift back. Two decades ago, the internet became a household thing. The early days were a little rough. I used to half-assed joke that the internet was useless. It was entertainment, sure, but it was not the tool it is today. A little over a decade ago, file sharing became a trend. There was likely file sharing going on already between people who had web space or a server of their own, but peer to peer brought it to the public, the way that everything eventually gets to the public.

Unfortunately, around the same time, the music industry started experiencing a dip in sales. What happens often when something goes wrong at your workplace and the blame can’t be traced directly back to any one person or group of people? An outside influence is blamed. Peer to peer was the scapegoat. There could have been any number of reasons or influences, but the music industry started a multi-million dollar campaign to blame peer to peer for their multi-million dollar losses. The problem is that while parts of the music industry were losing money, there were parts that were still profiting.

In subsequent years, those who embraced the internet as the new marketplace thrived. Those who did not continued throwing money at the problem of losing money. People were sued for monetary amounts that didn’t equal the crime of stealing x number of CDs, but there were still ads that equated downloading music to petty theft. Nevermind that we hear most music for free, sometimes hundreds of times, before we buy it. I still own nothing by Boston in spite of the thousands of times I’ve listened to their music. They are a band that I enjoy hearing on the radio, not a band that I wish to listen to often. Heck, even in the days when I downloaded music, I never downloaded Boston. And yet, I think they’re a great band.

The point is that the music industry pushed the truest fans of music away by not letting us preview the bands we enjoyed. I never stopped buying CDs. I’ve bought 10 CDs this year alone. I listen to most music on You Tube, Pandora, Playlist though, even albums I own. Why? Because I’m on my computer or my phone more often than I’m driving in my car now. Also, because those websites are ad based, and I don’t acquire copies of what I listen to.

I decided when SOPA was a thing that I would play by the music industry’s rules, but I would give them less of my money. I’ve always bought used, but I’ve stepped it up now. The ten CDs cost me $1. Not a piece. $1 total. I download music still, but I download from artists who offer their music for free. There are bands out there that make little to no money, sometimes losing money, to present their music to the public. Let’s listen to them for a while. Sure, the music industry will continue to blame the internet as long as they lose money, but someday when the stop blaming and start adapting, they will make more money than they thought was possible.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Board Game Review: Sword and Skull

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Welcome to this latest game review (video included) that we are posting to promote our KickStarter project: Rise of the Rock Star, an According To Whim board game of Rock and Roll Fame! Please visit our project and back us!

OBJECTIVE

Sword and Skull is a Monopoly-style board game from Avalon Hill. Each player takes on the role of 2 different characters (the Pirate and the Officer). Players take turns moving either (and times both) of their characters around the board, collecting power or money. When the player feels either of their characters are tough (or rich) enough, they can move into the middle of the board and try to take on the Pirate King and win the game.

GAMEPLAY

Players move around the board and land on spaces that allow them to draw cards, buy equipment, recruit crew, or gain money. The fact that each player controls 2 different character pawn on the board is unique and can make for varied gameplay. While you move around the board you will find yourself gaining either more power or more money. You should choose one or the other and focus on gaining as much of it as you can. You can win the game by beating the Pirate King with power or by paying him off with massive amounts of money. Your strategy will depend on what spaces your characters land (money or power) and which you can more easily accumulate.


 
PRODUCTION

Avalon Hill produces another high quality game here. It comes with some nice sculpted pawns (2 of each color, one pirate, one officer). The gold pieces are high quality plastic pieces and the cards are standard as well as the board. The art work is nice and is in the style of sketches (something I personally like). The dice are slightly different than your typical D6 and that is kinda neat. The game box comes with a cardboard tray for separating the pieces, cards, etc.

TIPS

My suggestion for this game is to simply play it by ear and draw as many cards as you can. Since you have the option to move either character on your turn you need to weigh each move and see which character might benefit more and go with it. You might find yourself with more money as opposed to gaining power all the sudden. You can switch over to this tactic and go for the win or you might find yourself doing the opposite and switching to that tactic. You have to keep your options open.

Pay attention to your power level (or money amount) at all times. If you look at the middle of the board where the Pirate King is, you can gauge how much (of either) you will need. Go for the win as soon as you can afford to, don't give the other players the chance to beat you to the punch.

Thanks for looking at this blog! Please follow us and if you are interested, please help us produce our own game at: RiseOfTheRockStar.com by donating to our KickStarter Project!

Thank you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Interview with artist Ben Dunn

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today I am 'sitting down' with Ben Dunn. Ben was the publisher behind Antarctic Press as well as artist behind several titles including (thanks to Wikipedia):

Captain Harlock
Dynamo Joe (fill in art)
Swords of Texas
Robotech
Heaven Sent
The Agents
Mighty Tiny
Ninja High School
Warrior Nun Areala
Marvel Mangaverse
Voltron
How to Draw Manga
How to Draw Steampunk

Ben was also an artist on Marvel Comic's Mangaverse as well as the 2006 movie Through a Scanner Darkly.

Your typical interview would be all about the above stuff but I have a different line of questioning to take as I am more interested in his business side of affairs as well as his convention going. That is where I run into Ben 3 times a year at the Dallas Comicon.

Hi Ben, thanks for taking the time to respond to this interview. I see you at each of the Dallas Comicon shows (3 a year, Fan Days, Scifi Expo, and Comicon)... do you hit just this convention or do you travel around the country to different conventions?

Well, I try to support local cons whenever I can. Dallas ComicCon is a show that I know the people and they are really nice. I was there from the very beginnings when they were a one day show at the Richardson community center. I do travel to other cons. I used to go to San Diego every year since 1991 but recently stopped due to expense and the crowds. I go to ANIME NORTH every year. I travel to various shows when they invite me. A couple of new shows I attend are AMACON, LAREDO COMIC CON, and the TEXAS COMIC CON in San Antonio.

You started Antarctic Press in 1984. How did you start it, did you get investment capital, personal loans, bank loans? Once started how did you get your comics out there, did you have to do business with distributors or was it a more 'gurella' effort?

I got $1000 start up by selling my comic collection in 1983

I am not familiar with the content of all the titles you produced before you sold Antarctic Press in 2003, but was there some point where you progressed beyond drawing to a more business-related position in the company (or where you always drawing)?

I have always been drawing for either AP or some other company. The business aspect was always a hassle for me and that is why I let others run the business once it started to grow.

From the information I have dug up online you started a new company called Sentai Studios. For some reason I can't find any newer info on it, is it still active? What's the scoop?

This was a company I started once I moved to Dallas. Once I sold the company I thought that I could run another comic company by myself. Needless to say it was too much and I folded the company and started work back at Antarctic Press.

Are you currently working on any projects? If so give us a rundown!

I just finished a 6 issue stint of SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERIES for Magic Wagon. I am currently working with Steve Ross on a revival of NINJA HIGH SCHOOL and working on a new series called WILD WORKS. 

I am a big fan of Robotech and in 2006 your company did some comics based around it. Was it costly or difficult to get the rights to Robotech? Did Harmony Gold review the comics before publication or did you have cart blanche on their content (I can't imagine you had to answer to them when they let comics like Academy's Invid War: Aftermath get so far out there)?

They pretty much let us do what we wanted. There was some editorial control over how we presented it and what we could do in terms of how we presented the product but we pretty much did what we felt like.

Thanks so much for your time Ben!

Ben Dunn is a possible top pic for the art work for our next KickStart project (coming next year). This year Jason Chalker is our guy and we will be bringing you an interview with him next month so keep an eye out. Follow us on Twitter or our KickStarter Pre-launch page.

Thanks!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

ATW Updates: April 25, 2013


By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

The plan is to start updating our audience on what we’re doing as a group on Thursday of each week, because I think we’ll be busy for at least the next three months. Hopefully, the momentum carries on past the Kickstarter. The most recent things that we’ve done as a group:

1. We’re recording audio shows again. We’re trying a different format for both the shows and the audio show webpage. We have some work to do on that, but when the new shows are posted, we’ll let you know.

2. We’ve started two Twitter accounts. The first one is for According To Whim. The second one is for the Kickstarter we’ll be starting in May for our board game, Rise of the Rock Star.

3. The Kickstarter is actually the focus of most of the things we’re doing lately, aside from audience building, which I believe is one of the main reasons for having a Kickstarter. I’ll write a blog post about why I believe that soon. We have a webpage that contains information on the board game and the Kickstarter.

4. We’re working on new videos. The You Tube Channel has been neglected for a while with the play-testing of the game. We’ll be posting new Game Reviews soon. We’re going to start doing “ChrisMcGinty’s Vlog” as a regular thing. We’re working on our Kickstarter video. And much more.

5. We put an Amazon link onto our website in hopes that we can monetize the website a little bit. If you buy from Amazon, and don’t currently use any other click through, consider using our website as a click through.

I’m sure I’m forgetting other work we’re doing, but this will make for a reasonable update for today. It represents a lot of foundational work for our daily routines in the months to come. As we produce new material, we’ll keep you informed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Uncle Sam stops you at the border...

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

"Ring ring." Well it was actually: "Just a castaway, island lost at sea o. Another lonely day, no one here but me o."

Who is this? I don't know anyone from Buffalo NY. Eh, I'll just let it go to voice mail.

Afterwards (a while because I forgot about the call) I got on my phone and listened to the voice mail. It was some lady from Fedex telling me some packages I was having shipped from Japan was being stopped at customs and they needed to know the contents of some of the items in it.

My hobby-business is selling Anime models at comic conventions. I make these big orders and have them shipped from Japan. I have been doing this for many years and I have never had anything caught up at customs (until now).

The only things I can think that flagged this particular shipment is because I ordered model parts that look (and are called) rivets as well as some model markers. I have never ordered these before so that may be the reason I got busted. The rivets are not metal (which is what I am guessing they think) and the markers are water-based but I guess they could be full of illegal chemicals or something so they need to check.

The person sent me a customs form and I had to 'attest' to the non-danger of the items and send it back to them. They also asked me about a book that is in the box. Specifically the number of pages in the book. Why? IDK. Perhaps they were wanting to see if it was something one of them wanted to keep! lol.

You want to help support us at According To Whim? Go buy some of the model kits at RenegadeAnime.com or visit our go shopping at Amazon by going through our main site: AccordingToWhim.com (there is a link to Amazon there).



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mimicking a Radio Station

(By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

One day in the future, I will have to write a whole piece on how radio destroyed itself by being bought up by big corporations (although, they would have been destroyed by the internet soon enough), but today I’d like to talk about something that radio stations do that is effective; playing things over and over until people like it. This doesn’t mean that everyone will like it, but everyone has genres of choice. This is music that a high percentage of their listening time is spent on.

What radio stations do right is that they focus on a genre or two that are similar enough to get the listeners invested, and then they play the fuck out of anything that is new, sometimes playing a song every two hours. People don’t listen to radio for hours at a time for the most part, and often switch stations when they do, so if they want you to hear a song, your likelihood of hearing it goes up the more they play it.

I believe that your mood at the time of first hearing a song is different than when you hear it later. That can go different ways for a song where you like it more, like it less, or notice no real change. The more you become familiar with a song the more you typically like it. This isn’t always the case, but it does happen. The repetition just allows your mood to catch up.

When I’m having trouble getting into an album that I recognize as good, I’ll create a mix tape… sorry, modern day. I’ll create a CD or mp3 playlist and include tracks from the album. This way I hear the separate tracks a little at a time. Later when I listen to the album, the tracks I’m familiar with offset the tracks I don’t know. Soon, I’ll be familiar with the whole album, and if it was something I would normally like, I’ll like it a lot more than when I was first lukewarm to it.

The website Pandora uses this basic thought process. You seed the station with songs or artists you like, and it picks similar songs and artists, and when you like something, it repeats it more often. But I don’t have Pandora everywhere, so I came up with something more complicated and tedious, because it’s what I do. Create a playlist or an mp3 directory on your mp3 player and include about 24 hours worth of music. That’s about 360 songs if the songs average four minutes.

Make most of the songs play one time, usually songs that you’re familiar with already, and then include a number of songs, say 12, that play once every four hours. Then include, say 9, that play once every six hours. Then include, say 3, that play once every twelve hours. If you’re making an mp3 folder to shuffle, just make sure to have multiple copies of other songs. These can either be songs that you wish to become more familiar with, or songs you wish to hear a lot at the moment.

Anyway, without bitching about how the You Tube playlist feature went from being workable to crappy since I first started this playlist, here is a playlist I’m working on that mimics a radio station. If you’re not into alternative music (at least what I consider to be alternative) you might not be into this playlist, but give it a try. The point of it is not to listen from the start every time, but to pick a different starting point each time. You’ll hear some of the “emphasis tracks” of the playlist almost every time you listen for a couple of hours. I tried to avoid videos with ads, but a few got through by not showing the ad when I first chose it. Sorry about that.

Virtual Station April 2013

Also, in case you didn’t know, we’re starting our Kickstarter for our board game “Rise of the Rockstar” in less than a month (May 17, 2013). If you’re a fan of Kickstarter projects, and especially board games with a rock ‘n’ roll theme, keep checking back with us.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Board Game Review: Clue Suspects

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Welcome to this latest game review (video included) that we are posting to promote our KickStarter project: Rise of the Rock Star, an According To Whim board game of Rock and Roll Fame! Please visit our project and back us!

Today I am checking out Clue Suspects. This is an off-shoot of the Clue series of games by Parker Brothers. It is not manufactured by Parker Brothers but licensed out to Winning Moves. I think they did a great job bringing a twist on a familiar game series.

OBJECTIVE

Read the game card and place the dead body somewhere in the mansion. Read through the clues on the card and place characters around the mansion to eventually discover who killed did the murder (the character that winds up in the room with the dead body).


GAMEPLAY

Clue Suspects comes with a molded plastic mansion with 6 rooms. The murder will take place in one of the rooms. The card you use for the game you are playing (there are 60 different games to be played) to place the body and remove all characters NOT involved in this particular case of murder. You then read the clues, one at a time and deduct where to put each character. The cards will say something like 'Lady Lavender was alone in the East wing of the house'. This tells you that that character will be by themselves in one of the room on the left side of the mansion game board. Now, it is up to you working out the other clues to discover if she was on the 1st or 2nd floor. You move move down the list and work out where everyone else was and hopefully you will discover that one character is in the room with the body.

The game play is engaging and really gets you working on each clue and how it affects where you put your characters inside the mansion. If it gets too easy for you there is a more complex set of puzzles you can work on as well. You flip the cardboard room card over (in the plastic mansion) and use the Red cards instead of the blue ones. There are 30 of each type of card for up to 60 games.

This is a one player game and that is something that gets high marks from me. I don't have a lot of friends and even less time to organize game nights so a game I can play alone is a bonus!




PRODUCTION

The plastic mansion doubles as a carrying case for all the characters and cards (there are even slots for the character pieces to neatly fit into). It is well made and was a pretty good deal (if my memory serves me correctly). I bougth this at Toys R Us several years ago and it has held up fine through moves and friends borrowing it.

TIPS

My only real tip here is to take it slow and don't be afraid to move your characters around if you feel you are not getting the results you want.

Thanks for looking at this blog! Please follow us and if you are interested, please help us produce our own game at: RiseOfTheRockStar.com by donating to our KickStarter Project!

Thank you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Defining Promotion

Chris McGinty (According To Whim.com)

There is a discussion that happens in our group somewhat frequently that involves pointing to a blog, video, website, etc., and saying, “That’s what we should be doing. Look at how many hits they have.” I always return with, “I bet that before they had millions of hits, they did a lot of promotion.” I think maybe that I haven’t defined what I mean by promotion very well. I think a blog post might be just the place to do it.

From the Merriam Webster website: 2: the act of furthering the growth or development of something; especially: the furtherance of the acceptance and sale of merchandise through advertising, publicity, or discounting.

Let’s focus on advertising and publicity for this blog post, because the ATW already provide hours of entertainment for free. We can’t really discount that unless we start paying folks to be entertained by us.

When I did door to door fliers, I started by doing fliers for my job at the time, which involved delivering pizza. While I was out advertising the pizza place, I grabbed a flier from a door here or there that the recipient didn’t seem to want to receive, and I called to try to get more work. The flier business was never successful enough for me to quit delivering pizza, but it did provide extra income.

In 2000, I had an e-zine (website that contained writing, basically). I had guest writers on the e-zine, mostly people that I knew personally, but I also had three outside submissions. These didn’t come from people randomly finding the website and submitting. They came because every time I updated the website, I went to e-zine community websites and let people know the website existed.

With both the flier business and the e-zine, promotion was contacting one person at a time, or posting to one website at a time, and letting them know a service existed. This is commonly known as word of mouth or grass roots. By letting a few people know at a time, you let a lot of people know long term. I think the problem with this definition is that some promotion involves reaching out to large groups of people, and I think that most people consider that to be the default definition of promotion, because bigger is better.

I think that when I talk about promotion, this is what my cohorts hear, “How do we get hundreds, nay, thousands of people to come to our website by next Thursday?” When really what I’m asking is, “How can we get one more person than yesterday to start frequenting our blog or website?” I think there is a place for both types of promotion, but more importantly, I don’t think you can effectively promote if you ignore either type.

You have to get 1 view before you can get 1,000 views. You have to get 1,000 views before you can get 1,000,000 views. Worry about them in the proper order.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The moon landing did happen mannnnn!!!!!

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This week NASA announced that they have no plans to ever go back to the moon. Go back?! They haven't gone in the first place!

I have been looking at a lot of Documentaries on YouTube about the supposed faking of the moon landing. I love a good conspiracy (I think most people do too). If you are not aware of it, there is a segment of the population who believes that the moon landings were faked (as an act of cold war US superiority). There are a lot of strangeness that people have latched onto (some of which I can't deny).

Some theories say that there were moon landings but that the astronauts that were credited with it did not go (in case something happened the US would not loose face). Some say that it was all faked (the most popular of the conspiracies) on some sort of sound stage. Some even say that Stanley Kubrick 'directed' these phony landings and hid tons of clues in his movie 'The Shining'.

After watching some of the less wacky videos about a faked moon landing, I have to say I can see where these guys are coming from. Some of the stuff just doesn't add up.

Do you remember that movie Capricon 1? It was a 70's movie that addressed that possible conspiracy (not directly) but placed the astronauts on Mars. It was a great movie and you can see these guys had the moon conspiracy in mind when they wrote it.

As well as the moon mission being phony it is also believed that the first manned space flight by the Russians was also faked (or a surrogate was used). It's hard to believe what is true when you had the super powers of the world wanting to flex their muscle and knowing they would do anything to say that 'they were the best'.

So after you read this go search 'moon landing hoax' on YouTube... you might get hooked!

 
Have you enjoyed our Blogs? Please visit AccordingToWhim.com and use the Amazon link each time you shop Amazon to support us! Thanks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Jurassic Park Builder app

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

** Updated 5/5/13 ** Check at bottom.

My coworker Jonathan showed me a new iPhone app called Jurassic Park Builder by Ludia. It is a park management game where you find amber, decode the DNA, hatch the eggs and make money off of dinosaurs on a 'new' version of Jurassic Park that John Hammond is making (psst, we won't mention that John Hammond died in the first book).

It's a fun game with some name behind it. It is free and as with all free apps you can find ways to spend money on it. You collect money by tapping on your dinosaurs but you if you need more money you can spend real money to buy some game money. There are also 'dollars' that you collect (very slowly). You can buy these with real world money too.

Here is a screen from it:

 
Here we see the 'ghosts' of Henry Wu and John Hammond ready to give you missions.
 
So everything seems to be hunky-dory with the new Jurassic Park and with you managing it, things can only get better... yadda yadda yadda.
 
You start out a little clear land and one dinosaur. You tap your dino to collect money off it (presumably the money from showing it to park patrons). Each dino has a rating on how much money you can get from it per hour. The higher level you are, the more expensive your dinos are, the more money you get from them.

You can clear land (for a cost of course) and then clear miscellaneous bushes, rocks, and boulders from the cleared forest. You gain XP for doing this and you might find a piece of amber. You can then try to decode (for a cost of course) the DNA to have the new dino available for purchase (for a cost of course). Rinse, repeat.
 
There are also buildings that can generate money and decorations that can add percent bonuses to money making ability of your dinosaurs. This is where you can have some mico-managing fun after you get kinda get bored with the dino feeding or mission-taking. Buying and placing decorations and buildings to maximize money bonuses is fun (for me, at least).

The dinosaurs can also be upgraded. You tap on your 2 food harbors and pay to have either meat (for your meat eating dinos) or grass (for your herbivores) brought in. You then can feed your dinosaurs and they will eventually level up. This makes them look a little different and they can gain more money. Every 10 levels you have to 'evolve' them to level up. This takes them off the park and you must basically try to decode the DNA (like you do when you find amber). It is very expensive (and I am not totally sure it's worth the cost).
 
The other feature you can use to make money is Code Red mode. A storm appears off the island (when your Code Red button is glowing) and you can play a mini game where you watch your dinos freak out at the storm and attempt to escape. A little meter shows up over the meat eaters and it increases until it turns red. You have to tap it to make it go away before it fills completely or they will escape (for a while) and are unavailable for money making. The closer to the red your meters get before you tap them, the more they are worth. After the 90 second time is up you collect that money.
 
Various characters from Jurassic Park show up to give you missions. They basically get you familiar with the game at first and they continue to give you missions while creating little stories to go along with them. It's neat that you get to have these guys helping you out. For completing missions you gain XP, money, and sometimes more.
 
That is pretty much it! Oh wait, I forgot the great new feature John Hammond built into the park... He built an underwater version of Jurassic Park! You can go to the harbor and go visit the underwater version which is basically the same as the upper version but you have ancient fish (and it is more expensive).
 
Any tips? Well I can tell you that it costs a lot of buy the food and upgrade your dinos and I'm not totally convinced that you can make THAT much more by doing it. I think the more buildings and other money bonus buildings and decorations might be more worth the effort. I have been playing for a couple of week and will check my park every few hours (to collect my monies).
I am hanging on to all the 'dollars' I can. You spend dollars to speed up eggs hatching, retrying failed DNA encoding, buying exclusive dinos, buildings, and decorations. I haven't decided on what to do with them but I will figure it out eventually.
 
Update:
 
After playing this game for a few more weeks I have a few more words of advice.
 
  1. The way to make the money to get what you want is to build up your bonus percentages (via decorations). They can double (and more) the amount of money any dino gives you.
  2. Always buy food. Keep those docks working 24/7. If you want to maximize what your dinos can earn you will need to feed them to upgrade them. It takes ALOT of food.
  3. Save up 100 'Dollars' to buy the meteor crater. It gives 30% bonus. This is basically the only thing I have ever spent my dollars on.
  4. Buy the 'Bridge Over Pond' it give you 6% for 97,000. This is the best deal per percentage point you can buy (and it covers a large area).
  5. Buy the 'White Fern Tree' too. It's only 30-something thousand and gives you 3% points. This is what you can surround your most profitable dinos with to push that money making over the top.

If you are going for the money route don't bother with roads or laying out the park like a park. Just jumble all your dinos together (around all the decorations) so you can get the most out of each of them.

Thanks for looking at this blog! Please follow us and if you are interested, please help us produce our own game at: RiseOfTheRockStar.com by donating to our Kickstarter Project when it starts on May 17th!

Thank you.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Lesson Learned

Chris McGinty (According ToWhim.com)

You will likely hear a lot about the board game Nathan and I are creating when we start our Kickstarter in May, but my post today, while related to the play-test session we had tonight, is actually about a life lesson that presented itself.

When we’re doing our Kickstarter coverage, starting in May, I will tell you about the biggest fight Nathan and I have had during the game design, a card called (ironically enough) Constructive Criticism. The short version, so I can get onto the life lesson, is that Nathan feels that the card doesn’t cost the player enough (in game turns) to play it. I feel that while it is a powerful card, it costs right about where it needs to be. More about this in a future blog.

In order to test my point, I suggested that Nathan and I play a game in which he has the card in his hand and uses it every time it would apply in the game. If the card was truly broken, I would have trouble winning the game. I feel it is a testament to the depth of strategy that our game offers that I was able to find a way to combat the advantage that having consistent use of the card gave Nathan during the game.

This is where the life lesson occurred to me. We have advantages in life, and sometimes those advantages can do us more harm than good. This happens when we don’t excel at something because we don’t have to. It’s the point where we lose the advantage that we have to rethink our strategy. We usually do better in life when we’re struggling because if we don’t do better, we will lose.

The best example of this I can think of is a person who is living paycheck to paycheck. If they get behind on a bill one month because they overspent elsewhere in their budget, they end up having to tighten their belt the following month to catch up. Because of that struggle, they run their finances better than they normally do, because if they don’t they’ll lose.

So why not arbitrarily give yourself the disadvantage before it’s for real? After you pay your rent next month, pretend that you didn’t pay it. For the next month, you have to pretend that not only do you have to get together the full amount of rent, but they’re also charging you fees. You have until the end of the month to get that amount of money together, plus pay your next month’s rent as well, without borrowing money.

What would you do? How would you do it? You would work extra if you could. You would cut back on spending, because if it was for real, you wouldn’t want to be homeless. You might not win this little challenge, but it’s ok, because it was a simulation. You would come out ahead, and you would have learned new skills for getting by. Sometimes playing the game at a disadvantage can make you a better player, and that includes this game we call life.

I can hear Nathan rolling his eyes right now and muttering something that sounds like, “Hippie.”

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You Bring the Backup Audio, I’ll Bring the Shirt and Tie


Chris McGinty (According ToWhim.com)

Miguel and I went to a get together of wedding professionals tonight called Thursday Therapy. It’s not quite as catchy of a title as Thursby Meading, but it’ll do.

Our reason for attending this get together is because we are trying to make a move into professional video production, probably on a part time basis. The people who meet range from caterers (some specializing in specific foods) to photographers, planners, and videographers. We spoke with a videographer who gave us some helpful advice, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The therapy session, as I’m going to call it because I’m cute, was held in the bar of the Hotel Zaza in downtown Dallas. There were a few things about this. The first one is that we more or less had to valet park. There was just nowhere to park nearby except for the big parking lot across the street that belonged to the hotel.

When we got inside, we discovered that the group was literally a mix and mingle, as opposed to a formal meeting with topics and speeches. The multitude of discussions actually made it hard to tell what percentage of the discussions revolved around industry talk. For all we know, it was all discussion about what movies they’ve seen lately and whose kids are playing little league.

The other thing is that we were not just underdressed, but we were really underdressed. These people looked like they just came from “not casual day” at the office. To make matters worse, so did the normal clientele of the bar. The website gave three names of the women who started the meeting, so we asked a woman who we thought was pictured if she was one of those three. She was not, but she directed us to one of them. It was somewhere in all of this that Miguel realized that we did not bring business cards, so we played it off like we are really just getting started since 1993, which is basically the truth.

She passed us off to a guy named Marc Roberts who has been doing wedding videography for a long while. He gave us some amazing advice that I can’t believe I didn’t think of myself: just start video taping weddings as much as you can and make sure you have tons of backup for your audio. Amazing.

But seriously, he said something that Miguel and I found interesting. He said that there isn’t really all that much competition out there for wedding videography. Admittedly, we were also told by a wedding planner that some people shy away from having their wedding videotaped. It’s hard to say.

All in all, I think Miguel and I had a good time hanging out, even if the results were a little anticlimactic. I made him listen to Rush on the way out. I’m sure he was miserable.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reconstruction Blues

By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

The bad news is that I’ve taken down the links to the archive of the audio show. The good news is that I am starting a long term project to make the audio show section of AccordingToWhim.com more content driven.

The other good news is that we are recording new shows. We’re working with a new format for the shows (when I get the History of the Audio Show webpage posted up, I will discuss the three formats we’ve used) and using the power of video chat, we should have five new hour-long episodes every two weeks.

But as with every “under construction” website, it will take a few days to get current and truly start delving into the archives. In the off chance you are reading this post on the day it’s posted, please be patient with us. In the meantime, go check out the new (and hopefully improved) audio show section of our website, and check back with us frequently for new content.


Also, check back to this blog frequently. We’ll be starting a Kickstarter in May 2013 for a board game that Nathan and I are creating.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chrismas Vacation 2012 - California (Part 6/6)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Yep, we are still going on our look at my trip to Disneyland in California (as well as Universal Studios). This will cover the rest of the rides we rode at Disneyland.

Captain EO (Tribute):
After Michael Jackson died Disney decided to cash in and re-release the Captain EO show at their parks. Oops, did I say that? Anyway it is still playing and we saw it the very last night (last showing of the night) at Disney. There were like 6 people in that whole theater (including 4 of my party).

The show actually holds up pretty well 3D-wise. When I saw it back in 1991 I don't remember the floor moving to the music but it did here. The whole theater jumped with the beat of the music. For some reason I could have sworn I heard and saw on Youtube that the re-release would have updated special effects (to replace the stop motion stuff) but at the beginning of the show they tell you it is exacly as it showed way back when. I think this show is more popular with foreigners because they seem to love Michael Jackson more than we do for some reason. Here is the video of the show (notice the Borg-like dudes? A year or 2 before ST:TNG came up with them!)

It's a Small World:
When I think of torture in paradise, I think of It's a Small World! Oh the humanity! This dusty old thing might be tolerable if it were 1/3 it's length. This thig seems to go on for EVER AND EVER. I mean it. Most rides last 2 or 3 minutes. It's a Small World lasts a whopping 10 minutes (and it feels like 20). That too would be cool if it were interesting like Pirates or the Haunted Mansion but it is basically the same thing for the whole 10 minutes... little cutsie figures moving slightly to the song. THE SONG! AHHHHHHH!!! It is probably the song that makes you mentally break down. It just repeats and repeats and repeats! Ahhhhhh!

Sorry about that. Anyway you have to ride it just to say you did and experience the mind-numbing theme and 40 year old animatroics. BTW Disney realized they were giving their guests lobotomies so a couple of years back they added some of their newer characters into the mix of cute kids... fail, I still need treatment. Here is the video... if you dare!

Matterhorn Bobsleds:
Do you crave adventure? Do you want bruised tailbones and hemorrhoids? Then the Matterhorn Bobsleds are for you! The ride is really fun but the pain! Oh the pain! There is no cushioning in this coaster and you are basically sitting on the floor of the car. This can make us older folk wince for 80% of this ride. Fun but painful.

That beings me to a point about coasters at Disney. All the roller coasters are fast, fun, exciting, but none of them are what I would call extreme. It seems Disney steers away from that sort of thing. They let Six Flags and Knott's Berry Farm have the bat shit crazy stuff. This is more for the family.

Disneyland Train:
We come to what (for me) turned out to be the most enjoyable ride of the whole Disneyland trip. Why, you ask? I'll tell you. We started our trip in Fantasyland and rode it up to the front of the park. Typical train ride. My brother asked the conductor if he could say 'all aboard' (which of course they did, this is Disney where dreams come true) and that is where he got the fast passes that we used for Space Mountain. Anyway we were on the last leg of the train ride when we passed the 1964 World's Fair dioramas. I didn't know about these and I was totally caught off guard (I think this was a big part of my pleasant surprise). Anyway we passed the canyon one which I thought was cool. I really like dioramas. Then we passed the dinosaur dioramas. I was blown away! How cool was this?! It wasn't just some little building we passed but a massive (and I mean big) building dedicated to these prehistoric scenes. The train passes into a tunnel and you pass the buildings where the dioramas are held behind huge glass windows. It was fantastic! These were old (40+ years old) but still impressive. I was astounded by the massiveness of the whole thing. All tucked away, hidden for only those who rode the train through this part of the park. I loved it! Here is some one's video of it but it just can't do justice to the actual thing!

Well, that about wraps it up. There are many things we didn't experience at Disney (or Universal Studios for that matter). I really wanted to ride the Storybook boats, the Silly Symphony Swings, and anything in Toon Town but there wasn't enough time.

Me, my wife, my brother and his wife are going to Disney World in October so perhaps I will write another series of posts covering what we rode there. Later!