MEOW at BLTX IX

So, Better Living Through Xeroxography IX happened two weeks ago…

Ahj and I are still dazed. It felt great to see people of varying creative styles and perspectives come together in one place. It was all too surreal to finally see in person the people behind the books in our collection of indie titles or online literary journals. All the stuff they get to share, all the concepts they get to pass around. Gah! The creative energy was contagious! The people at BLTX were so nice (salamat Adam and Chingbee!), and it felt like a reunion of sorts as I got to see familiar faces (Charles! Joseph! Nante!).

What makes BLTX critically important is that it amplifies the voice of indie/new writers.  The event itself inspired us to create more, to ‘make good art’ further.

The event was also an invitation for courage: it was MEOW’s first time to join. We had no idea if our participation would be successful or not, but we still decided to come because 1) we wanted to become a part of this really, really fun event; 2) we were just a bunch unknowns and we had nothing to lose anyway; and 3) we wanted to get our stuff out there and see what would happen (we had a lot unpublished workshopped materials and it was, I think, the only sane direction to take).

People, from friends to strangers, took a chance buying our prose and poetry. I’ve no idea if they liked our works or not, but the experience left us all thankful. Thank you for buying our zines, and we hope that you enjoy them.

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There were also a lot of things we’ve learned in terms of sale and production:

  • Experiment further with the physical form. There was someone who crafted the book upon purchase (it was hypnotic to watch actually). Vinz had this long accordion-type publication (which was sold out in a blink, huhuhu). High Chair also sold limited copies of signed ‘frame-able’ poems.
  • Improve presentation. My goodness — I saw some high-caliber covers! They’re so beautiful! On MEOW’s table, Leir’s work was a hit because the people responded to the fun title.
  • Provide a guide and/or simple spiel. One thing Ahj and I forgot: making a chart of prices to make it easier for passing people to see. A simple spiel from consignees could also have been helpful, especially when others asked what the zines were about.
  • Invest on tools for production. I’ve just realized that the long stapler and cutters we used were all borrowed. I guess it’s time to invest on these materials for future productions. Will also look for good cutters, as mine are already rusty and unreliable. A good long steel ruler would also be nice. I also prefer using the small cutter instead of the board cutter.
  • Prepare ready/spare change. Break big bills into smaller bills & coins for convenience.

 

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One last thing:

BLTX naga
Poster by Adam David

 

Yeah. It’s happening. The build-up may be a little daunting, but hey: let’s all spread the creative love.

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Sickness: Soothed (and a game of Pandemic)

Well, well, well — I can’t say it’s gone now, but I’m feeling better this week. I don’t sneeze and cough that much anymore thanks to some massive rest (#bed #sleep #doze) this weekend. I also mixed and matched tea and honey, soaked my throat with lotsa water, add some meds and there: I’m good. Almost 90% operational.

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By some weird coincidence, last Saturday — while sick — I was able to play my first game of Pandemic. I played the game with Ahj and my nephew, and it wasn’t really that too difficult to learn (and teach) the game. Once you get to know the basics you’re all good.

But that’s just for how you run the game and not how you play it. You see, the rules are simple, but the strategy is quite, quite tricky. You gotta prioritize, you gotta count your movements (and sometimes the discarded cards), you gotta work together. Gah, just so much depth!

We won only one out of three games, and we won on easy mode.

(My next game purchase: King of New York)

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I really, really, really wish for a solid tabletop community here in Naga City. Unfortunately we only have one supplier, and he only sells Magic: the Gathering (and I heard that he wasn’t even that consistent in terms of store schedule).

And I’m not really sure if people (especially students) will accept tabletop games wholeheartedly. I mean, they’re quite happy with their DOTA2 and LOL (as net cafe rentals are cheaper here; cheap thrills and all). The boardgame cafe model is very much solid in the Metro, but the economic dynamic[s] here in Bikol is very much erratic.

I remember back in high school we had a small M:tG group, but due to the usual budget constraints (our region is one of the poorest) sustainability was quite iffy. I mean, geez, we had to prioritize food and textbooks before anything else, and both were quite, quite expensive.

Honestly I want to open a small hobby shop, but daaaaamn it’s just way too risky.

Sans Lyrics

So right now I have two browsers open, one is G.Chrome and the other is M.Firefox. I’m writing this blog via Firefox because Chrome has this weird problem with WordPress in terms of showing stats and I’m kinda irked by it. Plus I deeply miss the ol’ Fox so I guess, hey, let’s succumb to  sentimentality, yeah?

I wonder: when was the last time I used Firefox?

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It was just this year when I found my love for post-rock a.k.a. shoegazer (it’s like alternative music sans the lyrics). As someone who loves to write I would try to zero-in on my work by shutting myself out — trying to steer clear from any auditory distractions such as the noise from the telly or the Selecta peddler’s creepy chip music or the booming engines from speeding trucks and scooters plaguing the street. I tune in to music to get into the mood (and I occasionally choose the track to pick the apt mood). If you see me with my headphones on it means that I do not want any shit from you at the moment.

Just this year, I was desperate to listen to new music as the songs from my current playlist just didn’t cut it when I was aiming for the right mood for this random story I was working on. The AntlersHospice was good, but it depressed the hell out of me, and Anamanaguchi and the other chiptunes in my sound stash were a little bit too distracting. I looked at my old-reliable rock playlist which consisted of The Deftones, At the Drive-in, Mae, The Killers, and some random alternative singles (like Pearl Jam‘s Jeremy and Flickerstick‘s Beautiful) but their tunes just couldn’t match the mood I was trying to feel.

Suddenly (and thank god for random rememberings) the band Tortoise came popping at the back of my head. Back in college, during a mini-writers’ workshop with my peers at Sir Vinz’s office at the English faculty room, our mentor popped in this unlabeled CD (copied-and-burned?) in his portable stereo. What I heard was a strange mash-up of consistent beats and semi-random insertions of plucks and picks and other sounds which I couldn’t figure out. It kinda reminded me of tribal vibes but it was something else, something more contemporary and experimental. “It’s Tortoise,” Sir Vinz said, and it had successfully set the mood of our literary discussion.

I thought that maybe the band’s unique approach to music could do the trick in setting the writing mood. So I searched the net for samples of their material and bam! Thank you, YouTube.

Until now I can’t figure out how to describe their stuff, but recently I would always set my playlist to “Tortoise/Shoegazer” mode every time I write.

So Tortoise got my ears’ undivided attention. After digging further I found other similar bands. They are Message to Bears, Explosions in the Sky, and El Ten Eleven. Here, let me briefly describe their music to you.

If you want something atmospheric, Message to Bears is amazing at that department. Their music, melancholic and bittersweet, puts you in the mood when you want to write something dramatic or poignant. Check this out:


Explosions in the Sky is just epic. I first encountered this band in someone’s digital mixtape (sadly I can’t remember from who), but I do remember that feeling when I first heard the last part of Your Hand in Mine and how it gave me goosebumps. You wanna feel like you’re doing something epic while working? Check this out:


And now we have El Ten Eleven. I first heard some sample tracks of the band from this awesome typography documentary Helvetica. The band of two (one dude plays bass and guitar) delivers quirky, catchy tunes good for soundtracks. Try listening to their music while doing something creative. Check this out:

 

 

Well, there ya have it. If by any chance you could also recommend good bands to listen to while writing I would love to know more about them. Feel free to post them on the comments section.

That Familiar Sound of Rolling D20

Lately I miss making campaigns for Dungeons and Dragons. Our group started playing back in 2010 but somehow due to the lack of time and the arrival of a hundred and one tasks we have, unfortunately, lost the will to commit and continue our missions.

Sometimes the urge to pick up the DM and PC guides would come, but upon looking at my busy schedule I find it hard to squeeze in a time for D&D. Such a sad gaming catastrophe.

What is Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)?

D&D (or DnD for some) is the grandaddy of all role-playing games. In fact, there wouldn’t be any Final Fantasy or Skyrim or even World of Warcraft without Dungeons and Dragons. To play  you need a set of dice (from D4 to D20), player’s guide, index cards (or power cards), pencils, tokens, and a character sheet. Of course, there’s this very essential requirement: IMAGINATION. Without it, the purpose of playing D&D is as good as nothing. Tabletop gaming for the win, huzzah.

The initial challenge of playing D&D is learning the rules. You have to go over the pages of the Player’s Guide to at least learn the essentials of the game. However, you do not need to memorize every rule in one sitting. The DM is there to check. But hey, just keep your PC guide near you during games so you can go browse through and verify the rules when needed.

Why Should We Play D&D?

‘Coz it’s fun. You can do anything. ANYTHING (much to every DM’s chagrin, but hey, it’s his or her problem). I remember those Saturday and Sunday games when the players messed around with their characters, wreaking havoc in small towns and slaying dungeon monsters with improvised — and amusingly hasty — tactics. I remember the dice rolls during interrogations and instances of skulduggery. I remember unleashing a white dragon at the end of the cave and killing most of the PCs.

Fuck yeah. Fun.

And so here I am, once again inspired to once again compose a campaign. Maybe we can start in a tavern, or the city hall, or in some inter-dimensional plane. I don’t know, there’s a lot of amazing worlds to consider. I think I’ll look at my D&D stash later tonight and see what I can do.

For now, this Dungeon Master is hungry for a good story.

Geekery: A Game of VtES

While I was cleaning my room a few days ago I stumbled upon this curious little index card:

my sucky decklist for my Followers of Set vote deck

It only took a fraction of a second for me to be flooded with memories of Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (V:tES).

I first encountered the game way back in my early Freshman year. It was during my second visit to Comics Central Headquarters (CCHQ) where I got the chance to observe this crowd of gamers playing what seemed to resemble Magic: the Gathering. When I looked closely, I noticed that the borders were quite different, plus there were tons of colorful beads on the table. The whole set-up got me intrigued. Soon I was asking Tin (one of the owners of CCHQ) about the game. Around a month later, I bought my very first [pre-constructed] deck, Clan Tremere.

V:tES is actually based on White Wolf’s flagship tabletop role-playing Game, Vampire: the Masquerade. Contrary to the usual CCG tradition of dueling players (one on one), V:tES is very much a social game (a good table consists of four to six players). Instead of just silently flipping your cards (with the occasional table tapping to signify that you’ve just ended your turn), you have to speak with the other players in order to survive. You have to make deals, negotiate, plead. So if you’re the silent type, if you hate talking, you’re as good as dead.

beads, beads, and some cards

These days I don’t play the game anymore (I’m in Bicol and there are no CCGamers here). Around two years ago I received word that White Wolf had finally cancelled the release of new expansion sets for V:tES. The news was a sign that card gaming is, perhaps, almost at its endgame. [Yes, M:tG, I’m looking at you and your fucking expensive cards.]

I love this game so much. I’ve met a lot of interesting and smart people because of V:tES. Perhaps one day a publisher, a new one most probably… or Fantasy Flight Games [hopefully], might get the rights to this game. In fact, V:tES was already sent to torpor a few years back when Wizards of the Coast had decided to stop producing new sets. It was the dedication and constant presence of fans which rescued the game, pulling it out of its shallow grave.

One day V:tES will rise again. One day.

my last tourney