Archive | November, 2011

…leave of absence

30 Nov

If you noticed, I’m a bit out of pocket.  There won’t be an update this week either, but expect an update next week!  Until then, enjoy Russian Mario by Negroud on Deviant Art!

Being Social: the Weekend of 11.18.11

18 Nov

Anime USA will be running this weekend, providing a great chance to watch Anime, meet voice actors, and buy  a lot of cool Japanese stuff!  They will also host dances and bands such as BLOOD, Eien Strife, and Matenrou Opera!

The Sugarloaf Craft Festival has also come to town, and you can stock up on holiday gifts while staring at shinies all day.  It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but I will be checking it out on Saturday. Tickets are $7, but you can get a $1 off coupon online.

On a less geeky note, the InkFest convention will be at Nats park this weekend.  You can watch people with tattoos, watch people get inked, and, if slots allow, you could get inked yourself!  Tickets are $15 and up.

Otherwise, we have:




Want to win a spelling bee to pay for your bar tab?  Then try out the Rock and Roll Spelling Buzz!  Plus, $6 gets you a 16oz PBR and a Shot of crap whiskey till it’s over! Sign up starts at 6pm.



If you wanted winter to come early, there will be a taste of it at the outdoor skating rink on the National Mall!  The Sculpture Garden ice rink is opening for the season.  Tickets are $8, with a $3 rental.  (via WTOP radio)

(Photo by Simon Garbutt)


The National Geographic Society is currently showing treasures from the Anglo-Saxon times, ad this Saturday at 1pm they will team up with Earth Conservation Corps to have a falconry demonstration and workshop! I think it might be meant for kids, but birds of prey are badass enough for adults to see too.  The Hoard can be seen at the museum for $8 per person, but the falcons are free! (via the District)


The Capital Bacon and Beer Bash will be held at the National Harbor.  Unfortunately, tickets are $70, and I can make my own Bacon & Beer party for cheaper 😦 (via DCist)


Barcraft will again be held at Public Bar in Dupont Circle, this time airing Starcraft games from MLG Providence!  I’ll be there – stop by and buy me a drink 🙂  If you need a tutorial to watching Starcraft, try this.


Japanese Taiko drummers will be performing at GWU’s Lisner Auditorium.  Those things are so badass.  Tickets are $25-45.

Being Social: the Weekend of 11.11.11

10 Nov

Nu! The final Binary Day is upon us!  It is a sad affair, but there’s still a lot to do even after the 0’s and 1’s stop showing up in our datebooks:



The DC festival runs this weekend, which will run games designed locally.  Our lovely Artisphere will again play host to this exciting event, which coincides with the conclusion of Digital Capital Week.  Games include:

  • Live Action Spy Party, designed by Pete Vigeant (ESI Design)
  • A Web of Hope, designed by Pete Vigeant (ESI Design), presented by Natron Baxter
  • 3 1/2 Ring Circus, designed by Charles Amis, Ala Diab and Nathan Maton (Gameful)
  • The Mini Gauntlet, designed by Matt Fleming
  • The Escort Quest, designed by Rob Meyer and Grant Reid (NYU Game Center)
  • Grow a Game, designed by Tiltfactor (and run by Nathan Maton)
  • Before/After, designed by Molly Abin and Todd Ogin

Also all day, varied times

There will be a ton of Veterans Day events for Friday, including a parade in Manassas, ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the Navy Memorial. The Mount Vernon Estate will have a wreath-laying ceremony followed by performances by the Harmony Heritage Singers (an all-veteran barbershop chorus) and the U.S. Air Force Strings.  (via WTOP)



The Accessibility Hackathon, another point in the Digital Capital Week, will be bringing developers together  at tche DC public library to ‘help create tools to meet the needs of the user community’.  I’m no coder, so check out their Hackathon website for more details. (via Eventbrite)

If the DC Games Festival wasn’t enough, Saturday is apparently National Gaming Day!  Participating public libraries will also be hosting tons of dice rolling, button punching, card slamming fun! (via WaPo)


We, the Pizza and DC Brau will be hosting a night of all things tasty.  DC Brau  will feature the Citizen and Public brews, and will be paired with Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s  special pizzas.  Sounds tasty, but tickets are $40.

Yeah, tweed.



Once again, the Dandies & Quaintrelles  will host their third annual Tweed Ride.  This will combine a fashion show and a hipster reunion on wheels. It is free, but you have to register to learn the starting location.  There will also be an after party at Smith Commons($15 ticket required). (via Metromix)


Yeah, back in the day 3 Doors Down were kind of popular. I guess they’re still playing, and will be performing at DAR constitution hall

Being Social: the Weekend of 11.04.11

4 Nov
This weekend at the DC Convention Center, the DC Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show will be going on! There are tons of guests, battles, tastings, and things to buy.  Admission is $25. (via The District.)  Also, if you happen to have 1337 nerd skillz, this weekend DC is having America’s Got Talent auditions.
’80s noise-punk band Scratch Acid will perform at the 9:30 Club. Tickets are $25. (via DCist)

If you want to be ninja Fawks, they do be on sale...

GUY FAWKES DAY! Dont do anything too tricksy, now
…except underwear racing! (via Metromix)
Wikipedia Loves Libraries! Help the DC Public Library to Edit and Wikify DC articles and historic documents from the librarys clutches.  Its a way to improve your skills and learn some crazy historical trivia about the region! (via Eventbrite)
…This is part of Digital Capital Week, which is meant to get bright minds together. It might be worth checking out all their offerings… there’s a ton!

...sure, it could be fun?!

Super Art Fight, a mashup of pro-wrestling and Pictionary, will be at the Red Palace. It may be the “Greatest Live Art Competition” you’ve ever seen. Tickets are $15.(via DCist)
Fall Back! You get to sleep in an extra hour today ❤
Also, this Thursday, Sting will be performing at DAR Constitution Hall at 8pm. Get your tickets now!

IPL3: Origins – Part 2

3 Nov

The view of Atlantic City that we rarely saw, being holed up in a dark room watching video games for days on end...

(…continued from Part 1)

A late night quickly turned into an early morning, and thankfully there was a lobby shop that made greasy breakfast subs to power us through the morning.  Unfortunately, everything shut down just when it was about to start.  At first, it looked like the casino had lost internet (everyone was glad to blame Comcast), but in reality a truck hit a communications pole and took out internet to the entire southern half of New Jersey. We only found this out after making the trek to the main stage, where we saw that the tournament was dead at Caesar’s.  Everyone ran back to the Qualifier Room to see if internet was still on at Bally’s.  It wasn’t, but some players were playing training scenarios or solitaire.  Twitter was our connection for updates, but informational tweets were few and far between.

Solitaire... best training for StarCraft EVAR

In early the afternoon, out of sheer boredom, HuK challenged Boxer to a show game of Brood War LAN.  Boxer laughed it off at first, because Brood War (the first expansion to the original StarCraft) was a game that was massively popular in South Korea.  Not to mention that this game made Boxer internationally famous, as he was possibly the best player in the world.  Although some SC2 players such Sheth also began their careers in Brood War, HuK had limited experience.  This game is still dominant in South Korea, and Boxer, though he also transitioned to SC2, was still very good at it.  When he agreed to play, the crowd drew to him immediately.  It was a welcome diversion.

Teh Boxer, sharing his wisd0m.

Finally, the internet came back on and we all rushed to the Main Stage.  However, because games were so far behind, great match-ups were not only being held there, but at the Bally’s Stage and Qualifier Room as well!  As new games were announced, the throngs ran back and forth, hoping to be able to make the best battles.  It became a long afternoon and evening of gaming.  The IGN Girls Happy Hour was hosted again, but drinks were limited (apparently we drank them under on Thursday… and that was with many fans still yet to arrive).  With the one ticket limit and a massive line, the next round of drinks were easier sought in the Qualifier Room.  We bumped into Sheth and he, being the mannered gentleman that he is, gave us a voucher to use.  (The players were given these as an ‘apology’ for the internet being down, and he assured us he had a few more to spare!)  We thanked him kindly and made sure to cheer Sheth to Victory over DeMuslim later that night.

DeMuslim/Sheth montage looks epic

After that match, I got a rush when Sheth waved to us – somehow even though I learned that pro gamers are just normal people, they still seem like they are superstars when they are on stage.  Suddenly it was after 10 at night, and it made sense to eat again.  As I mentioned in my Otakon post, conventions typically lead one to eat less, and less often.  After time was made for food, there were only a few more matches, and the rooms began to close for the night.  We opted for an early night, being exhausted from running about all day, and also expecting much more action on Saturday and Sunday.

The first mothership of the tournament, courtesy of White-Ra. The crowd screamed when it appeared. ^^

That sleep was absolutely precious, as the weekend wore down everyone.  Allegedly, casters’ schedules were switched, as some stayed out later than may be proper. But that didn’t stop anyone (well, except Idra, who was too tired to finish his qualifying set on Friday, as he was ‘Still on China time’).  Breakfast was another greasy breakfast sub.  Saturday morning’s sub crowd had groups of players in their team shirts, and it was fun to watch them prepare for the momentous marathon of games. It was the Round of 32, where the brackets began to be narrowed through double elimination matches, almost all of which were held at Circus Maximus.  There were giveaways of sponsor items – most notably Visine (for tired gamer eyes) and Panasonic 3D monitors (which you had to have retweeted infinitely to win).  Whereas Panasonic was a bit annoying to see in all the tweets, its sponsorship was massive, and was appreciated.  Visine, however, was so out of place for a ‘typical sponsorship’, (although it made sense), that it became a meme.  Casters would give it shout-outs and the crowd would shout ‘Visine!’ back.  Though the normal crowd signs were shown (memetic phrases cheering on players), there was now one that said ‘Visine Fighting’.  IPN also had dedicated streams showing behind-the-scene action.  Their video teams nearly ran me down a couple times, as cable and camera guys doggedly trailed a long-haired Asian girl who chatted endlessly about the tournament. It was annoying, but I heard that those who had to watch at home loved it.

Geeks... an auditorium full of geeks...

The games ticked on and on, hours passing by without note. Food and drink were had by all in our seats, in order not to miss a moment.  Then, the game of all epic-ness was had.  Stefano (Team Millennium) versus Kiwikaki (Team Reign).  As the second game of the set of three dragged on, positions for both players began to fill the map.  The entire crowd began to anticipate a good ending to such a long ‘macro’ game.  Massive armies battled, some retreating, some poking in for a little damage at a time.  A mothership appeared and recalled its units from battle, sparing them damage. Resources dwindled, and it began to look like, if nothing big happened soon, it could be a rare tie.  Everyone was on their feet, cheering at the top of their voices at every unit death.  Instead, Kiwikaki rallied the last of his forces, and created an ‘Archon Toilet‘, where he ‘flushed’ all nearby units into a temporary black-hole. When they reappeared, Stepahno’s forces were stunned and Kiwi dealt the killing blow. The crowd’s cheer was deafening – screaming, whistling, applauding!  It morphed into a chant for Kiwi.  We were amazed at such an epic battle, and there was still one game to go!

Ok, my best pic of Stephano / Kiwikaki makes Stephano look like a demon zombie. /FAIL

After that amazing battle, Stephano won the set.  The night wound down quickly after such a high.  Many a player that were fan favourites were eliminated.  White-Ra fought hard, but was defeated. So were Idra, Sheth, Boxer…  Some new kid named Lucky was knocking out the big names left and right.  He was Korean and spoke via an interpreter (they were all awesome, by the way… not many would know how to translate stuff like Zerg, banelings, Blue-flame Hellian, etc.).  He said he chose his name to give him luck, and it was working!  I fell in love.  He was in to the Sunday round of 8, along with Ret, Puma, the STC, Idra, Stephano, Inori and MMA.  We all left Caesar’s excited, but wondering if Sunday’s games would hold up to that epic Stephano/Kiwikaki game. That night was another riot at the WWW.  Wild frivolity, lots of lanyards, lots of IGN girls in fancy cocktail dresses.

Yeah, that was a really nice placement...

On Sunday we toughed out an early wake-up to watch yet another full 12+ hours of StarCraft from our cushy seats at Circus Maximus.  Drinks were had, and the morning games were all very quick series, leaving a lot of time to fill.  For many of the breaks, IPL interviews were screened, but at one point, the camera interview chick, Lani, had a show match against David Ting, General Manager of eSports at IGN, who went by the gamer tag Deathlord.  It was amusing, but this comparison really drove home just how much higher a caliber of players were in the tournament.

HuK looking hardcore. Unlike Lani. Via IGN Facebook.

The games were good, but not as epic as Stephano/Kiwikaki.  Lucky plowed his way through the field, as did Stephano, and then they remained, the final two.  There was a break for the League of Legends (LoL) Final, which almost everyone used to get some dinner.  The final itself was a beat down – even though it was a best of 7, Stephano handily won.  The crowd went wild, chanting his name and screaming support.  It was joyous, with so many geeks cheering on their digital hero, and seeing Stephano overwhelmed with a sense of victory as well as a $30k check.  He was speechless, and we were as well (but rather hoarse from cheering).  This was a marked victory because he was a ‘foreigner’ (non-Korean) winning in a tournament with Koreans entered in… many of whom are the best in the world.  Also, HuK, a foreigner had won MLG Orlando, making this two in a row.  The home crowd was elated – foreigners winning was another ringing endorsement for e-Sports in the US.

Yay Stephano! Just don't mind the crazily clapping chick.

Twitch.TV hosted a private after party, where there were StarCraft themed drinks and karaoke.  A player named Select sang and was epic.  Conversations flowed freely and a last few connections were made between all who shared this experience.

Behold, the horrible tasting, but pretty looking, cocktails!

Then open bar ended and the party sadly departed.  Like any convention’s end, there was a sense of loss, but the weekend was also exhausting and it felt right for it to be wearing down.  Some migrated to the WWW, and others went to their separate room parties.  Stephano was in one such party, not being old enough to drink in the US yet (but he could in his homeland of France).  It was a disappointment not to carry him on our shoulders in victory, but I’m sure he still had a good time with the other under-21s.  The experience was incredible, and I am glad I went, but it was so intense that I don’t think I could attend many of these tournaments unless I started playing the game.

OBTW the Mothership REALLY sucked. It's the polar opposite to the in-game unit. SRSLY ><

With great tournament results like this, I hope that the US can take yet another step toward geeks taking over the world, by following Korea’s footsteps and showing video game matches on television!  Until then, I’ll keep watching tournaments online and supporting my local Barcraft, FTW!

IPL3: Origins – Part 1

2 Nov

Before I begin my recollection of my time at the StarCraft II (SC2) Tournament IGN Pro League 3 (IPL 3), if you’re not familiar with StarCraft at least on a beginner’s level, it may behoove you to read/watch some demos, such as these : [0] [1] [2] [3] [4]

I went to Atlantic City to watch IPL 3, thinking it would be similar to the anime conventions I frequent.  Although the preparation was similar: packing snacks, drinks, and caffeine, I did not bring any costumes to wear.  The IPL website had rules for costumes and props, but it turns out that no one there was dressed up.  This convention, though large, had not yet attracted cosplayers like Comic Con or PAX has.  Though this was a personal disappointment, in retrospect there would be little use for costumes anyways, as the majority of the tournament was spent watching professional gamers play iterations of SC2.  It sounds easy, but multiple 12-hour days of watching said games does wear on viewer and player alike.
The tournament itself was for a pool of $100k, with $30k going to the winner.  Although some players were invited and others played qualifying games before the tournament to win a spot, there was also an open bracket at the venue, where anyone could enter and try to get a place in the Tournament Round of 32.  These were not just Americans, either.  Participants included the ‘best of the best’ from South Korea, as well as crowd favourites from the Ukraine, France and Canada.  This mixture of cultures blended seamlessly through the wordless bond of video games.

Imagine rows of fancy table drapes getting in your way....

The venue was the casinos at Atlantic City, with home base being at Bally’s, but the main stage for showcasing select qualifiers and finals was at Caesar’s next door.  Because of this ‘mature’ venue, the registration age restriction was 18, though unfortunately those under 21 missed all the socialization that occurred at IGN-sponsored ‘Playhem Happy Hours’ (they even provided ‘IGN Girls’ who wore skimpy uniforms and socialized with us all).

Yep, and those were only a few of the girls!

If you are a fan coming to watch the tournament, I highly recommend attending the first two days (before the Round of 32), as viewers and players mingled more in the ‘Qualifier Room’ at Bally’s.  This ballroom was reconfigured with a couple platform stages and a hundred or so computers that were set up for one-on-one matchups.  I was under the assumption that it was a massive LAN party, but then I was informed that they were on BattleNet, as SC2 does not have LAN.  Apparently, this is a continuing grudge between professional gamers and Blizzard.

Kick-ass bag, via IGN's Facebook

I had a ‘Diamond’ pass which allowed me to peek into the players’ lounge and see players in their element.  I only ever went in once, though… it was more of a haven than a place to ogle the players.  Much of our  mingling was done at the Qualifier Room.  Through watching SC2 (via Team or Twitch.TV, mainly), I knew some of the player’s faces, and those who I recognized by name were quickly added to my repertoire.  By the end of the tournament, my knowledge of the population had more than tripled, as I had face-to-face conversations with many of said players.  A whirlwind of matches took me through my first few hours.  Pro gamers were pointed out left and right: HuK, Slush, DeMuslim, Machine, Sleep, Puma, Lucky, MC.  Those who were on professional gaming teams were easier to identify, as they had their team logo on shirts, jackets, and bags.  Whether they had the team logo or not, you could also pick out the professional gamers because they carried around their own mouse, keyboard, mouse pad and headphones.  Their setup is crucial to the typing of commands, and some players even remove keys from their gaming keyboard that they don’t use, to prevent a miss-click: a second delay in one order could spell the difference between victory and defeat.

Hell yes. Geek cage battle.

 There was a mass exodus at the dinner break, but everyone re-emerged for the ‘IGN Girls’ happy hour. The girls gave out free drink tickets, and were chatty, but looked freezing in their sports bras and miniskirts.  Some girls were in this for the novelty of the situation, but there were a couple gems that I spoke to who knew the game and appreciated both the players and the fans that came out to the event.  Tickets were exchanged, Euro techno blared, and there were ‘cage battle’ 3-D StarCraft games (sponsored by Samsung – a massive sponsor!).  It reminded me of what a nerd frat party might be like.  I was able to meet Sheth and White-Ra, both of whom were exceedingly friendly and genuinely kind.  As much as some players might be rude or short-tempered, these two demonstrated to me why they have such huge fan bases. They are just honest-to-goodness nice guys.

Behold, the ultimate gaming setup!

Once we enjoyed IGN’s generosity, the games continued, with some matches being shown on the ‘Main Stage’ at Circus Maximus, a 5 minute walk from Bally’s.  The auditorium itself was massive: a typical movie theatre setup with center aisle and two wings, and higher banked seating in the back half.  A few half-moon cocktail tables between the nosebleed seats and the front sections reminded us that we were in a casino. The stage contained three massive screens hanging above and four sealed glass booths, which would, 2 at a time, contain the gamers that played the projected game.  Inside these ‘soundproof’ booths, the payers wore helicopter earphones with white noise piped in, to prevent them from hearing the play-by-play commentary, as well as the crowd outside.  In between these booths was a raised table where the two ‘casters’ (announcers) called out the game play-by play. While the screens directly above each player’s booths displayed their game view (areas they had not explored yet were blacked out), the casters had full reign over the view hanging above them.  They were able to watch both players’ progress, which adds to the drama of this strategy game.  There are many articles that describe why it is so exciting for others to watch a game played by ‘strangers’, and if you are interested, I highly recommend –StarCraft From the Stands- by Jeff Huang (PDF link).
The games ran until 11, and another happy hour followed at the Wild Wild West bar (aka WWW aka cheap-as-anything).  It was a great venue to meet the fans, as well as players and casters.  Our distinctive black IPL lanyards were a great way to identify and start a conversation with a complete stranger, as well as giving the group solidarity.  We all had at least one thing in common, and it was a great starting ground.
Still to come: Part 2!

Trying something new

1 Nov

For those of you that don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month.  Participants are challenged to write a 50k novel in one month.  I’ve done that for six years.   This year I’m mixing it up and writing a biography instead.  But not just any biography.  This will be a biography of the new fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a.k.a. the Bronies.  The fanbase is growing at an exponential rate, and I’m sure I’ll soon be unable to keep up.  I thought it might be wise to record what I do know of it, to try and explain firstly why I and others like the show, and secondly why it is such a big deal.

I also want to do this to try out e-publishing.  My first draft will go up for crowd-editing, and then I’ll see just how dificult it is to get a book out on the digital side.  I do want to publish my fiction some day, and I’m hoping this gets me back in the groove.

We’ll see how this experiment goes.  If you’re interested, it is at

I’m also in the final stages of editing my IPL3 (that Starcraft Tournament/Barcraft) report.  It WILL be out this week, and I’ll continue to do weekendly events, have you no fear!