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    Entries in New York Times (5)


    36 Hours in Cambridge in the NY Times

    Here are my picks for what to do in a hypothetical (and somewhat absurd) 36 hour itinerary in Cambridge for The New York Times. Let the naysaying begin.


    NY Times doc features my 1981 D&D gang

    This The New York Times documentary about D&D and the "Satanic Panic" features two tiny clips from a Super 8 movie I filmed of my old D&D group back in 1981. You'll see us at minute 00:20 and at minute 08:25. Yes, we were (as their expert says over a clip of my old gang rolling dice and goofing off) “the kind of kids and young people who didn’t go to dances or date on the weekends." But we rocked it. Also featuring npted writers Junot Díaz and Cory Doctorow, talking about how D&D was instrumental to their careers, former D&D editor Tim Kask, and private investigator William Dear, who investigated the famous disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, supposedly caused by D&D.



    Star Wars -- Shakespeare Mashup: A Review of Ian Doescher’s ‘William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge’

    In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Yoda admonishes his apprentice, Luke Skywalker, saying, “Wars not make one great.” Later, in “Return of the Jedi,” he quips, “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.”

    In case you didn’t catch on, Yoda inverts his syntax. In other words, Yoda practically speaks Shakespearean.

    And in Ian Doescher’s best-selling “Star Wars” / Shakespeare mash-ups, so does every character in George Lucas’s science-fictional universe of Wookiees, droids and the Force.

    Read the rest of my review of Ian Doescher’s ‘William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge’ for the New York Times.


    Follow my insane itinerary?

    Hey Boston travel fans: I dare you to do all this in Boston in a mere 36 Hours. Here's my insane itinerary for the New York Times Travel section "36 Hours in ..." series.


    Roll for damage (extra bases)!

    In an interesting piece in the NY Times about APBA, a board and dice baseball game is, if not going strong, at least holding its own against video and fantasy league versions of sports games. Like all great subcultures, it's got a devoted following; a recent tournament attracted 76 players. According to the article, "Video games have become increasingly sophisticated, and fantasy sports leagues have surged in popularity, but APBA, like its rival Strat-O-Matic, has stuck to the basic format that made it successful."

    APBA, which once stood for "American Professional Baseball Association," is about as old-school as it gets: dice, cards, and dice shakers. And what's most interesting is this geeky twist on who plays--- yes, folks who self-identify as "nerds" and "geeks," lovers of statistics "in statistics-related careers like accounting, teaching math, tax law and financial advising." Nerdy sports nuts --- and as we know, sports is celebrated in our culture. Conjuring magic spells, not so much.Of course, with APBA, no dungeons or dragons are required --- just the fantasy of imagining a winning team (or playing center field for one). An acceptable fantasy for most boys, men (and girls and women, too).

    The article points to an interesting turn, too. Brian Wells, the 16 year old kid who has won the tournament a couple times, has been "begrudgingly" accepted by the men. A kid's game is co-opted by adults who then let the kid back in as a member of their tribe.

    But also this point -- can an old-school board game (or for that matter, a miniature soldier wargame) capture the imagination of kids when most are used to the spoon-fed action and eye-candy of XBox and Playstation? It's an issue I discuss in Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, specifically whether a wargame like Chainmail can entrance a 12 year old boy, or whether he's start craving Warcraft after the first hour of snail's pace action.

    In the Times article, the kid says that his friends stay home with video games. “They don’t make fun of me,” Wells said. “But they don’t want to get into it. Because some of my friends just don’t have the attention span for all of this.”