You Can’t Go To the Party Without a Party Hat

•October 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Sunday was a typical Sunday. I woke up, had some coffee, made some bacon. I tried to toss out some fantasy football trade ideas, all of which were either rejected or never seen. I watched a little football.

I also kept going on a search for reasonable (“reasonable”) World Series tickets. Hoping for an actual seat, just about every hour I would jot down how many tickets were available on StubHub and what prices Standing Room Only tickets were going for, as well as the lowest-priced seat. I was determined to guess when things would settle into a $300 range.

As it turns out, though, having a seat in the stadium or not was going to become a moot point.

I had spent most of the weekend getting into the Halloween spirit, tracking down scary movies on Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play to rent and watch. “Night of the Living Dead” and “28 Days Later” on Saturday. “The Lego Movie” later that night (to break it up) after those. Some Clone High on Youtube. On Sunday, I also lined up “Last House on the Left” and “Shaun of the Dead” to watch. After watching the brutal and tense and never-gonna-watch-that-again LHotL, I turned on the Walking Dead on my DVR. This was about 8 p.m.

About that time, I got that feeling of being unwell. That flu-like feeling. Just felt off. There wasn’t really nausea, but I felt weakish. Within an hour, my stomach started to hurt. I had the feeling of acid reflux, but also adding a growing pain on my right side that went back towards my kidneys. To combat this, I tried eating some crackers to settle things down. After three, it wasn’t working and the pain became more focused on my right side.

I tried to lie on the floor because the pain was also making my back tense. I thought maybe that would help matters. But nothing was helping. I tried to use the restroom but to no avail.

By now, it was about 10 p.m. and nothing was feeling better. I determined to wait it out and see what happened.

By 11 I was driving myself to the hospital.

Continue reading ‘You Can’t Go To the Party Without a Party Hat’

Board Game Recap: Castle Panic

•January 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

IMG_0930Bear with me, as for a while, many of the board games I discuss on here will be as a result of seeing them on TableTop on Youtube.

Castle Panic is one such game.

After viewing the TableTop video (which you can see here), I put the game on my Christmas list. Alas, I’m habitually late to submit my list to my family, so they did the best they could, and by the time I had passed on word, all my gifts were safely under the tree. No matter, as I used some Christmas money to buy the game online.

The same day I received it, I played a simulated two person game – with me controlling two hands – and winning, though I’m pretty sure in the process of confirming rules and performing the mechanics of the game, I probably rigged it (unintentionally, I swear) in my favor.

Tonight, I was able to test it out with others. And I had a blast.

Continue reading ‘Board Game Recap: Castle Panic’

Letters from a Relationship Gone By: My Review of a Mix-CD From an Ex Circa 2009

•January 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I was cleaning out my car and digging through the glove box when I discovered a CD.

This was a CD compiled and given to me by my then-girlfriend back in 2009. She gave it to me one night while I was at work. It was a busy night and I was supervising a bookstore the Tuesday (I think) before Thanksgiving. She stopped by and gave me a box of homemade cookies and this CD to listen to on the way there.

I’m generally pretty good at staying on at least good terms with the women I’ve dated, post-breakup. Some I consider very good friends even.

This one though, nah. Continue reading ‘Letters from a Relationship Gone By: My Review of a Mix-CD From an Ex Circa 2009′

Board Game Recap: Kemet

•January 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

First, a disclaimer: I’m very much a newbie in the board game world. I’ve played a few here and there, but they’ve usually been of the Cranium variety. Apples to Apples. Yahtzee. All fun, but not very complex.

But I’ve shifted and sought out other games. A large part of this change stems from simple exposure. See, one of my best friends met, started dating, and eventually married a guy (who we’ll refer to as B) who has a large group of friends, most of whom play board games on the regular. Card games, dice games, intricate games, you name it. I ended up observing and playing a few here and there, and voila — exposure.

Still, I haven’t done a lot of gaming beyond a few games here or there. I have Scrabble and a copy of Cranium with the sculpting putty completely dried out and until recently, that was it. I’ve since acquired Munchkin Zombies and a card game called Grass. I’m still pretty green with most games, but I’ve played some Robo Rally, some Betrayal at House on the Hill, Timeline, Citadels, Ticket to Ride, and others (and Settlers of Catan via their online tutorial). I’ve also seen a number of other games played by those in the group mentioned above, and seen even more via TableTop on the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel (starring internet superstar Wil Wheaton). 

So that’s the background. I’m not claiming to be an expert, and at this stage, my ability to compare games is going to be flimsy, so I wouldn’t call this a review by any means, as I don’t have the depth of knowledge or experience to really compare and contrast many different games.

What I can do, however, is tell you if I enjoy a game, if I’d play it again, and if there’s enough accessibility to play quickly and simply. Continue reading ‘Board Game Recap: Kemet’

Mr. Wizard, or Did I Imagine That?

•December 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I have zero clue why I just thought of this now but it came into my head and I wanted to do a search to see if I’m just confusing something or not.

Back in the 80s, Mr. Wizard was pretty much awesome, doing experiments and teaching kids, and sometimes being a smartass. But I recall something like a short-lived series that featured short films directed by kids. I don’t remember the title of the show. I don’t remember what day, or even what year, but I have it in my mind that Mr. Wizard hosted this show as well. Or maybe I’m just imagining everything…

There’s one particular film I remember.

There’s a kid sitting at a kitchen table. He’s probably about eight years old or so. He’s eating cereal and his dad (I’m assuming it’s his dad) leaves out the front door of an apartment. The boy eats for a while, then gets up to rinse out his bowl.

When he gets to the sink, he looks in and pauses, calmly looking down at a hand reaching up through the drain and flopping around. It’s not reaching for him or anything really. Just moving around trying to grab anything.

There’s a second surreal moment that I don’t remember, but it leads the kid into something like a basement or storage unit or something, with steel shelving and random boxes and items. At one point, he turns and sees a walking shark. He pushes the shark (I think) and it all resolves the weird story.

A very quick google search didn’t come up with anything but it’s such a strong memory it had to have been a real thing. Had to. But I do have dreams I’ve had in the past that have stuck with me, even 25 years after having them, so maybe this is just another? Anyone else heard of this show or the short?

Or anyone wanna help me produce a movie about a hand in a drain and a walking shark?

In the meantime, here’s Mr. Wizard being an asshole:

Who is @JohnAllenKCNBC? [now with update!1!]

•November 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment

[Update is the expected as Allen has deleted everything, including the embedded tweets which I should have gotten screenshots of, but I thought he'd put up more of a fight about his legitimacy, too. Sometimes that's the most fun part.]

[Update 2: It gets kind of weirder as supposedly (no way to verify really) “John Allen” was a project for a final about media perception? Or something? I dunno, but you can read “his” response.]

This time of year, baseball news is flying all over the place as teams try to sign and trade players. There are many well-established national and regional voices who are connected and dispense good information. But this being the internet, there are many who (for whatever reason) want to play insider and spurt out all sorts of misinformation.

There was Scott Swaim, the most notable of these, and then Insider Chris, neither of whom have really been heard from for a long time, but I think I’ve found another of their ilk. (UPDATE: The jig is up. “John Allen” deleted everything.

A guy with the handle “@JohnAllenKCNBC” sent a tweet on November 15 at 11:14 am. Nothing big, just a retweet with a comment. A few hours later, he cooked up this idea:

Now that’s a rumor.

He’s posted a few other things, as well. Some really make it seem like he’s plugged in.

allenvariousBut I couldn’t shake some feeling of something being…off.

The red flags to me:

  • I’ve never heard of this guy. Not in passing, not cited in other reports.
  • He’s got rumors that nobody else is coming up with, so either he’s just going off of partial information, he’s drawing quick conclusions, or he’s just making things up. Maybe that’s unfair, and maybe he does have these connections, but it seems odd that someone would just come up with these things out of nowhere that nobody else is hearing.
  • He’s come almost literally out of nowhere.
  • I have no idea what KCNBC is.

On the KCNBC note, @JohnAllenKCNBC lists “MO” as his location on his Twitter bio, so am I to interpret him as a KC area anchor? Kansas City’s NBC affiliate uses KSBH. It’s Channel 41. I can turn to it right now because I’m in the KC market. There’s no local KC radio station and anyway, radio station call letters are only four digits long.

But maybe, if I give him the benefit of the doubt, that might be a reference to something else entirely, even if his bio references “Sports KCNBC”. Still, it’s enough to keep looking.

So I took a page out of the Catfish playbook and wanted to check on the images.

Here’s the image of “John Allen” as of 8:45 p.m. CST 11/19/13:

allenprofileI dragged that image into Google Image Search, which yielded these results:

johnallenimagesHuh. Well, for one, that’s not going to be John Allen’s photo, even if John Allen is a real person. Let’s try that Facebook link…

bairdfacebookcameron.baird-imageIt takes you to some search results which lead to the above page at this link. You can compare that image to the image on Terranomics agent profile page for Cameron Baird. He may be a few years older, but it’s the same guy. The person in @JohnAllenKCNBC’s Twitter avatar is Cameron Baird. Not John Allen.

And hey, if you’re looking for retail space in San Franciscos, Baird seems to be the guy.

It reminds me of old Insider Chris, who was trying to talk to national writers as if they were longtime friends. This was back in January 2012 when I was having some fun with the fake accounts and sold him on a rumor I’d simply made up to test how much he would press me on the info. He reported it without grilling me at all. Get rumor, tweet rumor.

Insider Chris was then using a photo of a mayor of a small town in Arkansas if I recall correctly.

It’s about presenting the image of a professional and selling that image.

To further sell that, I don’t know what this was about, but it felt fishy as well:

Seems John left his desk and a pesky coworker decided to jump on and tweet for him. They make a specific case to mention that he’s talking to “baseball peoplez”. It’s cagey because it presents this image of a guy whose phone is ringing off the hook to get these rumors unearthed. Of course, why not take the call there at his desk? There’s clearly a phone there. Perhaps it’s this supposed news office, so fine, let’s say he took his cell phone into the hallway to not interrupt someone else. (Allen warns that he’s “never leaving his desk again” in response)

But then who’s taking the picture of the silly coworker? Did she take a photo with a standard camera on a timer, upload it to his computer to then upload through Twitter? Or did she have someone else take it and upload that way? There’s some mechanism by which she would have had to take the photo with no hands, put the photo on his computer, and then put it on Twitter. Maybe she had the time to do that.

Of course, it’s odd because she took this photo at least back in February of 2012. I did the same Google Image Search on the photo of this silly coworker, and it pointed me to that article from Business Insider Australia. The same photo pops up in a slide on a July 26, 2012 article from Business Insider Australia as well.

So his profile photo is Cameron Baird, and the Tweetjacking was done by someone stuck in 2012.

But the guy has already collected over 2600 followers on Twitter, perhaps a testament to his information? That is one way to help determine the validity of a report. Fake accounts often replace one letter – like Danny Knobler (formerly) of CBS, who would have a fake account of “DannyKnobier” with the “i” capitalized to look like a lower-case “L” – to look legit, but they can’t match the thousands of followers a national reporter has. So if it looks like Danny Knobler, but he only has 43 followers, you probably have a phony.

I went to TwitterCounter, which tracks stats about Twitter followers, tweets, mentions, etc. Remember how John Allen’s first tweet was November 15? He started with tweet number one going out to 2650 followers, according to TwitterCounter:

allentwitterfollows

It looks like his follows have been steadily growing (I can only check the last three months of data before I have to upgrade to premium on the site), but that seems to be very difficult to do when you’re not interacting with anyone.

twitterfollows3months

My theory: Guy bought a lot of followers, decided to push the account as a real one, and is now trying to play insider. I don’t know why he would do this. I don’t know why any of these guys do it. Maybe it’s the allure of recognition, or the fawning that casual fans might do in the presence of these guys, but really, it’s throwing out unnecessary information that gets in the way of the real reporting.

So be careful out there during Hot Stove season. National writers are good to follow, as are beat writers. Those guys are embedded with the teams and always in the know. Most of the time, though, anyone who comes out of nowhere to have all this insider information is either playing a hunch or just making it up.

Here’s a Christian Okoye Story

•November 8, 2013 • 1 Comment

Last night, I noticed that former Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian Okoye was following me on Twitter. It reminded me of a moment a few years ago when I actually met the man known as the “Nigerian Nightmare”.

 

It’s about 2004 or 2005. I don’t remember which, but it was in the middle of the big poker boom.

 

My friend and I are headed to Harrah’s to play some poker, and as we enter the lobby and head down the hall, this guy in a suit jumps out of a room and asks “Hey, you guys want to meet an NFL legend?”

 

And we stop and ask “well who is it?”

 

“Former Chief Christian Okoye. He’s signing autographs just over here.”

 

If it had been like, Barry Word, or Vance Johnson or someone else, we probably would have dismissed him right there and kept walking, but Okoye was at least significant back in the day. Still, we both pretty much just wanted to get to the card room.

 

“We don’t really have anything for him to sign, though.”

 

That didn’t faze the guy. “We have some things he can sign for you. It’ll just take a second.”

 

“Is it free?”

 

Since it was free, we figured a detour was going to be fine. So we follow the guy about 30 feet to a conference room.

 

And then we just felt embarrassed for the guy.

 

At the end of the room was Christian Okoye seated at a table. On one end was a cocktail waitress; on another, someone who may have been his agent. And that was it. Nobody else was there.

 

Maybe it was the tail end and everyone had shown up already, but regardless, they had obviously expected a bigger turnout, as there was a wide ropeline snaking from the door to the edge of the table. Because of that, we couldn’t just walk directly to him (which would have taken a few seconds to cover 50 feet), but we had to follow the whole path, so it took about about a minute or two to walk up there.

 

When you’re in an empty, quiet room, waiting, two minutes can be an eternity.

 

The whole time he’s just watching these two dopey guys maneuver through these ropes, possibly reminded that he was a long way from 1990.

 

We finally reach the table. He shakes my friend’s hand and signs a deck of cards. Then I shake his hand and he signs a deck for me.

 

“Thanks for coming out guys,” he said.

 

“You were awesome on Tecmo,” I said.

 

I’m sorry Christian Okoye.

 
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