Starving Artists Card Game

I am a bit of a board game collector. I also play them, but I clearly sometimes just buy games because they are cool. And these days, lots of board games make their way into production via kickstarter. This Starving Artists card game looks pretty good.

Now, I already have a pretty damned great looking visual arts board game called The Gallerist. But this one is tempting. Besides playing fairly quickly (40-60 minutes) and including a solo play option (1 to 4 players) for those rainy, lonely nights (queue Barbara Manning’s Isn’t Lonely Lovely), it has a neat option for producing your own custom cards for the game:

Using the following two tools, you can create your own canvas cards to including in your copy of Starving Artists.  They let you upload your own pictures, set the title and artist, drag and drop paint locations, and give a canvas its own value in food, stars and paint.

This is really neat functionality if you have your own art, or even better, your kid’s art that you want to have in the game. The game itself is reasonably priced at $29 including shipping and there are 20 days left on the kickstarter campaign. I cannot speak to the quality of game play just yet. I still have to watch a gameplay video myself, though these folks liked it:

I like that review for it’s brevity. This one is longer, but I appreciated the entertaining intro in particular.

Division of Laura Lee – Guess My Name

Hailing from Vänersborg, Sweden and more than a little influenced by Fugazi. Hard to complain about any of that.

It’s time for a Brand New Congress

OK, maybe I lied. Maybe I will write about electoral politics. My heart is forever stuck with the cool creeks, the ferns, orchids, and rhododendron, the northern goshawk, coyote, and black bears, and the towering Eastern Hemlock, American Beech, and White Pine that make up the Allegheny National Forest. So i’ve spent my fair share of time in rural Pennsylvania, in the states 5th Congressional District. The 5th is the largest rural Congressional District east of the Mississippi River and outside of Maine. It is also the land where Democrats are virtually non-existant (ok hyperbole).

Or at least have been historically. In my 10+ years there, I had only one opportunity to vote for a Democrat for State House, State Senate, or US House. So some of us got together and ran Green Party candidates. It made the most sense at the time since those of us involved were also largely disillusioned with the Democratic Party nationally. And the Republican Party was just the antithesis to the issues we cared about.

That background is important. Lots of Democrats live in areas where Democrats frequently run competitive campaigns for local and state office. But that is not the case for everyone. In fact, the number of races for Congress that have been unopposed has been increasing year in year out. In 2012, there were 45 US House races that were essentially single party. In 2014, that number rose to 77. I’m not sure what the number is for 2016, but rest assured, it’s probably pretty high. Though it should help that some Berniecrats have stepped up to run for office. The 5th District mentioned above? Yes, there is a candidate. She also ran in 2014, so stepped up before Bernie’s campaign. But these types of campaigns are a sign of things to come!

And so, what does this all mean? What do we do about this? Well, partially, a lot of this is due to gerrymandering. Which is horse shit in and of itself and something people are attempting to address in various ways. But we can highlight that at a later date. Because another way to fix this – is to run candidates. And that’s exactly what some former Sanders’ staffers propose to do with Brand New Congress.

I’ll let them sum up their plans:

America needs an honest, accountable Congress to enact Bernie’s program. But trying to win each Congressional seat one-by-one is impossible. So let’s run one campaign to replace Congress all at once (except those already on board) that whips up the same enthusiasm, volunteerism and money as Bernie’s presidential campaign.

Now let’s be clear, while this effort is inspired by Bernie Sanders’ run for President, you don’t need to support Bernie to get behind this. I know lots of people who more closely support Bernie’s policies but are supporting Hillary for one reason or other. There is no need to re-litigate those differences here. I think we can all get behind improving Congress.

Running this as a national combined campaign is key to overcoming the differences in resources and recognition. They plan to challenge Democrats and Republicans in primaries wherever and whenever necessary. Given the extent to which our representatives have increasingly been unresponsive to constituents, I whole heartedly embrace this. I can see where this might make some folks nervous. If so, that’s fine. All I can tell you is that, not doing something out of fear of failure is the same as giving up.

So let’s give this a shot. Check out the Brand New Congress website. Follow Brand New Congress on twitter. There is a lot of work to do here. If their plans don’t work out as expected. That’s ok too. Our successes often come out of our perceived failures. We have a unique opportunity right now with the momentum gained from Sanders’ campaign. Now is the time to capitalize on it.

Tribes of the City – unknown version, forgotten dream, from recipe of the golden dream

So, like most audiophiles I imagine, I discover new music from all kinds of sources. One of those that I recently came across is this facebook shoegaze group. If you like shoegaze of any kind it’s worth checking out. I tend to forget where I discover things but I believe this track came via that group. And if not, you should still check out that group. Of course. In any case, Tribes of the City from Riga, Latvia.

If this track isn’t your thing, and it does get a bit spacey for bits of time, I do recommend digging deeper into their catalog. Here is an older track which is a sweet indie thing.

RIP Eddie Watkins (Polvo)

Sad news this week. Original Polvo drummer Eddie Watkins passed away. Details are scarce, but a friend of mine posted this news with this great Polvo video to facebook today so I figured i’d share both on the blog. It’s heart breaking to see another great musician pass at such a young age. He was 47.

Eddie, Rest in Peace. Thanks for the amazing music. Condolences and best wishes to your family and friends that you leave behind.

If you want to learn more about Eddie, check out his blog. Apparently he’s a chef these days. Here is another article on his passing which has quotes from bandmates and such.

Duchess Says – Negative Thoughts

Duchess Says has a new album coming out this Fall on Slovenly Recordings. Now, i’m a big fan of Slovenly’s brand of largely garage rock and the like. But damn, this song from Duchess Says is killer. Edgy, almost jittery, and driving this got me going right away. I didn’t really know Duchess Says before so it’s a pleasant find. Whenever there is a band like this, with a fair repertoire and I don’t know them I feel this brief ping of shame. Fuck the shame listen to the shit out of it on their bandcamp page.

The People’s Summit

When it comes to politics, most of my political posts around these parts will be less about electoral politics and more about working for social change. I’m a progressive, a social democrat (not a Democratic Party Democrat though i’m registered as one for voting purposes), and most of all a tree hugger. So when time permits I will share my thoughts on the plight of Eastern Hemlock-Northern Hardwood forests.

But, for today, the message is simple. I believe in principles. And it’s principles that guide my decisions on activism. It should not be particularly surprisingly to know that i’m disappointed in the primaries that were held yesterday, on April 26. I wanted Bernie Sanders to win. I wanted Fetterman or Sestak to win. I wanted more and better progressives working to help make America a better place for all Americans and the immigrants and refugees that need a respite. Just so it’s clear, i’m not a nationalist, and yet I am. We are part of a global community anymore, but I also believe in my country. So let that be as it must be.

Let me at least share this. If you are a Bernie Sanders supporter, by all means, continue the struggle to see how much influence we can win. And look forward to the many Berniecrats running in local and state elections all across the country.  And check out The People’s Summit planned for Chicago in June. The struggle for change is a novel of epic proportions and the newest chapter is just beginning.

Pinkshinyultrablast – Umi/Holy Forest

Bear with this one. Some poppy shoegaze from Saint Petersburg. And yes, I feel obligated to emit this pink shiny ultrablast to my lovely girlfriend Jen. Who may or may not be looking.

Lost Woods Board Game (Poppy Jasper Games)

Well, I like board games. It’s no secret. But if you know me, you know I don’t so much like reviewing things. But I will highlight worthwhile games here from time to time. And Lost Woods by Poppy Jasper Games has been one of my most popular acquisitions in the last year, so I think it’s worth the quick highlight.

There is virtually no learning curve to this game. The rules are simple and it plays fairly fast (30 to 60 minutes). Normally, the first time you play you can add an hour to any game as you learn the rules. For Lost Woods, you need no more than an extra 20 minutes. It’s a simple but fun game which makes it perfect for inexperienced players of all ages. And thematically it’s fun too. You are camping in the woods, wake up and discover you are in some forest full of monsters. I’m not really sure how that happened without you realizing it but you fight your way out using random weapons such as the tent peg of destiny or a cast iron pan.

The game has a 7.22 rating on BoardGameGeek which is quite good. Here is a summary of the rules: