Indie Stop-Stop This Train, I Want to Get Off

by Angus McPeters

Crowdfunding. We’ve all heard about it. We’ve heard it’s changing the music industry, the publishing industry, and just about every other industry one can do from one’s garage. In fact, in the industry of games and gaming, there are quite a few who won’t shut up about it. Everyone loves crowdfunding. It is, as the kids say, the “killer app.”

But I, for one, would like us to call it what it is. And that, dear friends, is panhandling.

That’s right, people, it’s panhandling! That gentleman under the overpass is trying to crowdfund his next hamburger one crumpled dollar bill thrust from a car window at a time. That fellow on the street corner huffing and puffing into his harmonica is crowdfunding his bus ride home. Good heavens, people, when Ewan makes the rounds from his mother, to Laura, to my couch, and finally to me, he’s crowdfunding his purchase of another set of Legos!

Oh, does the gentleman under the overpass have a pithy sign? Well, how’s your Kickstarter video coming along? And the harmonica player will play a request if you drop five dollars in his hat? Well, that sounds like a stretch goal, doesn’t it? And is Ewan promising that I can help him put together whatever ten thousand piece set he’s trying to buy? Well, then we’re all working together to make his dreams come true.

Make me gag. The internet makes everything simpler, more convenient, more shameless, and certainly faster. Crowdfunding proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt as it has made panhandling not merely simpler, more convenient, more shameless and faster, but also socially acceptable.

All of you Patreoning Kickstarters need to get Indie-gone-gone from my virtual yard before I get out there and give you a strong kick. Freeloaders.

Get a job and a large, profitable company to back your insane ideas. That’s what Bob and I did, and it’s worked just fine for us, thank you!

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At the Movies with Bob & Angus

by Bob MacWordell

DSC_0282I’ve been told I have the voice of an angel and the wit of a devil. As for what Angus has been told, I prefer not to say due to decorum and what my contract restricts me from putting in print. You may not think of Angus and me as celebrities, but we are. We are recognized on the street, asked to speak at conventions, and our films have been showcased at notable festivals such as the Roswell New Mexico Film Fest, Phoenix Comicon, Gen Con, and FilmQuest.

Our fame leads to special opportunities, such as screening a new movie before it is released to the public. We’re asked to provide honest feedback on the movie, in the hope that we’ll have something noteworthy to say. Angus always has something to say, but I did specify ‘noteworthy’, which could be why you’ve never seen us quoted in Rotten Tomatoes or other movie review sites.

DSC_0307The best part of having a private screening is not having to deal with the crowds. There are no lines to stand in to buy tickets, or to get our popcorn and drinks. We get to choose any seat in the theatre, and we can move around any time without hearing people shout ‘sit down.’ No one stands up in the middle of the movie, blocking our view and no one bumps our seats from behind. You get the privacy of being at home with the enormous big screen and amazing sound quality of a theatre.  It’s a winning combination… or is it?

DSC_0302The worst part of having a private screening is, surprisingly, not having to deal with the crowds.  Like playing Builder’s Duel with Angus is a double-edged sword, so is having a private screening.  While you don’t have to worry about being stuck behind a bunch of tall people or next to some wise-guy making obnoxious comments throughout the entire movie, and you don’t have to endure someone throwing popcorn at you, the audience adds another dimension to the movie experience that cannot be scripted or planned in any way. I’m talking about that way the audience screams during a horror film or how someone yells outs something unexpected and poignantly funny. This spontaneity can make the movie experience fun, revealing and entertaining in a way that can surpass the story, special effects and acting in the movie. The experience is very similar to playing a game such as Barbarossa with friends who are comfortable enough with one another to let the comments fly as players craft their riddles with clay.

DSC_0270When it comes down to it, while I enjoy going to private screenings, and getting to see movies before all of my friends, I enjoy watching a movie while being surrounded by a crowd, including those movie-goers that are loud, obnoxious, rude and ironically a quintessential part of the movie experience. The ability to interact with the audience in person is one element we miss having on The Bob & Angus Show. What fun it would be to have someone laugh at my jokes or heckle Angus every now and then. For as glamorous as our lives may appear, talking to a camera show after show can make a sheep feel as if no one is listening.

That said, the next time you go to the movies, look for two sheep munching on popcorn as they debate some minor facet of the film. If you listen carefully, you will hear at least one of the sheep say something noteworthy (the other sheep will most likely be complaining about the lumpy seat). If these sheep get too loud, ask them to lower their voices. They may cooperate or they may throw popcorn at you. Truthfully, they will probably keep chatting away, but the mere fact that you took the time to complain will give them that ‘live audience’ experience they’ve been craving, finally making them feel like the stars they are.

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Guilty Pleasures

by Angus McPeters

Last week, we three sheep just happened to find ourselves lamenting about our lack of reading material. It seems each of us had finished a book the night before. Claire mentioned she had one to return to the library.

“Hey,” I said, “do you mind if we all come along, Claire?”

“Of course not, Angus,” Claire said sweetly. “That would be wonderful.”

“Excellent,” I said. “We’ll take Bob’s car.”

“Capital idea, old chap,” Bob agreed.

Actually, it involved a lot more squabbling about who would drive, who owed who for gas, where we’d stop for lunch on the way back to the studio, and who had or had not stunk up Bob’s car the last time he or she rode in it. But the short version makes us sound more like grown ups, so we’ll go with it.

On the way, we discussed what we would be looking for that day. Shocking no one, Claire wanted something DIY and crafty. Equally unsurprising, I’d be looking into my Celtic heritage by reading about noble warriors who once fought with kilt and claymore. Naturally, Bob snooted on about all the snooty snootfest things he planned to read.

Our first hurdle on our library visit was the “No Animals Allowed” sign. That is, until a leashed dog leading a sight impaired person came up. Then I noticed the “Trained Service Animals Welcome” sign. Since we are all highly trained journalists, I figured we fit the bill. No harm, no foul, bibliophiles.

On my way to the History section, I had my eye caught by the audio books. And that’s when I happened to accidentally catch sight of Bob…searching the online catalog for supernatural romance.

My friends, it was on.

I shadowed Bob until I knew he’d collected a copy of The Vampire Diaries. I hightailed it over to the craft section to let Claire in on the gag. When I noticed Bob also slipping into his usual snooty areas, I realized I might need a cover. So I ran over and collected a book of Celtic history.

We congregated at a table to peruse our paper and ink treasures. Although I’d grabbed it a bit at random, I found the book on Celtic history thoroughly engrossing. Claire accrued new projects from her various tomes on craftery at an alarming rate. But Bob. Well, all Bob received from his books was rope enough to hang himself with.

Bob arrived at the table ahead of us and we found him apparently engrossed in something snooty about art. Claire and I avoided eye contact at all costs, afraid the giggles would give us away. We sat and chatted about our books, allowing Bob to natter on about Impressionist this and Modernist the other.

All the while I snuck my phone around the side of his book so I could get a glimpse at what he actually read.

“Oh, look at this,” I said to Bob showing him my phone. “You’re not reading about art at all! You’re reading The Vampire Diaries!”

Bob turned nine shades of red as Claire and I giggled. The librarian shot us a dirty look and we knew it had reached the time for us to leave. As we piled back into Bob’s car, Claire came through with the last laugh.

“I knew we might not agree on what books to read,” she said to Bob, “but I never expected your taste would suck so hard.”

Well played, Claire. Well played indeed.

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This Roger Isn’t Jolly

by Angus McPeters

I realized something shocking this past weekend. Ewan came over for a visit and, as is our custom, we had a Catan Jr. tournament. We were having our usual great time building pirate lairs, sailing around the islands, and doing our best parrot impressions to describe whatever we received after the purchase of a Coco tile. And then Ewan said it.

“Uncle Angus,” he said, his little face screwed up in confusion, “why does grown-up Catan have sheep but Catan Junior has goats?”

Well, I can tell you this question took me aback. I spluttered a bit before coming up with a reasonable explanation.

“Well, my boy,” I began, then cleared my throat for a couple minutes to buy myself time. “I think it’s simply because the noble sheep is more at home in a game for sophisticated adults. The more pedestrian goat is obviously the animal that belongs in a child’s game.”

“But, Uncle Angus,” Ewan began, his lower lip quivering, “Catan Junior is about pirates.”

At this point, I was a bit confused. I mean, I love a good pirate tale as much as the next ram, but I could not understand what that had to do with the difference between sheep and goats.

“But Uncle, goats can’t be better pirates than sheep!” Ewan sobbed. “What about Pegleg McPeters?!”

Oh. That.

For those of you who need a refresher, ol’ Pegleg is an ancestor of Ewan and myself. He is the most famous pirate that plied the frigid waters around the Scottish Isles. And although an idiot, he managed to have the mightiest crew that ever sailed the, well, single sea I suppose. Any pirate can rob from the French, but only Pegleg trolled them. (The best use for Scottish cuisine ever, I feel.)

So what do you have to say for yourselves, Mayfair Games? How can you portray all sheep as docile grazers of fertile pastures on your fictional island while the goats ply the high seas like buccaneer kings? Care you nothing for historical veracity? Have you no concern for my own family’s honor?

You brought forth the tears of a fine young ram this weekend, Mayfair Games. This slight will not be forgotten. Give me ramming speed! Avast and prepared to be boarded! Cry havoc and let slip the rams of war! Give satisfaction for the descendants of Pegleg McPeters or Davy Jones’s locker for the lot of ye!

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Office Olympics

By Bob MacWordell

Once a month, we have a little competition here at the office: our Office Olympics. I read an article somewhere describing how offices organize Office Olympics to foster a sense of teamwork among their employees. We, on the other hand, have a more practical reason for holding our Office Olympics: to blow off steam, and — more importantly — to decide which board games will be played at the next few game nights. There are only a few basic rules of our Office Olympics:  the loser cleans up and no one tells management!

Did we feel guilty for doing this behind Duncan’s back? Not really, but I must admit it was getting harder and harder to pull the wool over his eyes (if Duncan were an ovine and not a canine, that expression would be perfect). There’s the time when Duncan came in Monday morning and noticed the proliferation of holes in the break room’s ceiling. To this day, Duncan still believes the holes were made by wood–boring beetles, even though the ceiling tiles are made of plaster. The Pencil Launch was a favorite competition for a long time.  It takes a rare skill to get those pencils to stay up there without falling down.  What else does one do with the pencils at the end of Catan Dice Game? Unfortunately, the number of eye injuries among the employees was getting too difficult to explain away to Duncan. Now that he’s gone, maybe we can put it back in rotation.

One of our safer competitions is the Script Toss, a not-so-straightforward tossing of the day’s script into the wastebasket. This competition involves teams of two, with the lighter person (this is a generic term for humans, sheep, lemmings, anyone) carrying the heavier person and racing against another team to dunk a script into the wastebasket we’ve perched on a top shelf in the game library. Did I mention the floor is littered with our cache of stray dice?  I didn’t say this competition was safe, just that it was one of the safer competitions in our Office Olympics.

As you might guess, researching, writing, and taping The Bob & Angus Show takes a lot of hard work. If you’ve ever heard the expression, “Work Hard, Play Hard,” then you’ll understand that our competitiveness sometimes gets the best of us. Probably the all-time favorite competition in our office is the chair race. Yes, we use chairs with wheels, but if you recall, I said the only rules are that the loser cleans up and no one tells management. That said, you can understand that although using a fire extinguisher to create a rocket-like boost once gave Angus an unfair advantage, it was a ‘legal’ move (and you have to admire his creativity). Claire on the other hand tends to be a bit more devious that you would expect. I swear she’s been sabotaging the other chairs during the day when no one’s looking. I can’t prove anything, but during our last Office Olympics my chair left a trail of glitter and gems behind. That could explain the bumpy ride as I struggled to cross the finish line. I came in dead last while Claire sailed into first place.

As you can see, we are a competitive bunch. Not even the lack of a swimming pool could prevent us from having a ‘diving’ competition. Fridge Diving: diving through the mess in the fridge for a hidden can of soda, is harder than it sounds. This is a timed event. The person who retrieves the soda can the fastest without knocking anything out of the fridge wins. The person who survives the mold growing out of control in there without going to the hospital is also a winner.

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Raging Rapids or Raving Mad?

by Claire O’Brien

Are gamers adventurous? Do they dive into new adventures on land (or water) as easily as they dive into new board games? I decided to test my own limits a few weeks ago when my friend Shirley asked me to go windsurfing with her. I don’t have much experience with large bodies of water, except for washing down a feast of baby Kentucky bluegrass at a nearby river or lake, but I jumped right into this adventure.

The day we spent on the lake went pretty much how I had expected. I spent half the day trying to climb up on the windsurf board, and the other half trying to stand up on the board without getting knocked off by the smallest ripple on the lake. I never sailed across the lake. I didn’t even manage to pull up the sail, and I had nothing but a soaked wool coat and sore muscles to show for my efforts. When I walked away at the end of the day, I had decided the only way I’d get on the water again would be on a cruise ship.

The following week, Shirley tried to drag me onto a raft, saying whitewater rafting is an easy way to get on the water and have some fun in the sun. Instead of reading a book or playing a nice game of Settlers of Catan or Candamir The First Settlers on the deck of a cruise ship, I’d be getting hurled over jagged rocks with only a thin plastic raft for protection. I put my hoof down and said ‘no’ to Shirley, but she was stuck on the idea of whitewater rafting. I thought a compromise might work.  I suggested playing the raging rapids river race game Whitewater. I had a convincing argument in my favor. As I told Shirley, we could stay at home and vicariously race down a deadly river from the safety of my living room. We wouldn’t get wet and there’d be no need to pack a suitcase. Perhaps best of all, WE WOULDN’T BE RISKING OUR LIVES!

One must be raving mad to willingly climb into an easily punctured piece of plastic only to be catapulted over and against rocks in water that would drown a fish! But don’t let my opinion ruin any plans you may have for whitewater rafting. If you insist on taking a whitewater rafting trip, pack a life vest and helmet, and DON’T take packing advice from Mr. McPeters. When I told him about possibly going whitewater rafting, he recommended I take a pickaxe. I have no idea why he thought I’d need a pickaxe. Perhaps he misheard me and thought I’d be traversing an underground ocean on a wooden raft in a Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hardly, Mr. McPeters!  We’re talking about using a rubber raft down a fast moving river. Pickaxe + Rubber Raft = DISASTER (this is a prime example of why you need to be careful when asking Mr. McPeters for advice).  Take MY advice instead. Stay home, or go to a coffee shop, call some friends and enjoy the action, energy and SAFETY of playing a friendly game of Whitewater.

Good luck to anyone going whitewater rafting. I’ll be thinking of you as I play a nice relaxing game of Whitewater on dry, non-moving, non-deadly land.

Happy rafting (on land)!

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Gone But Not Forgotten (Though I’m Really Trying Hard)

by Angus McPeters

Now that Duncan is gone, I can at last share with you, dear people, what it was about him that so raised my ire. Oh, certainly you are aware of the handed tactics he employed, both heavy and high. He never failed to take a moment to demonstrate how he ruled our particular roost and to make me, the talent, feel small.

But that only began the animosity. From there, he took the usual co-worker shenanigans to new, horrific, and blood curdling heights. Below, I shall give you the top five ways that Duncan made the studio into a fright show for yours truly.

  1. Certainly every office in the world understands the horror of burnt popcorn. Some poor benighted soul wanders away from the microwave for a bit too long, and suddenly all that radiation is focused into a stink bomb. Burnt popcorn is truly a stench, but have you ever had a similar experience with wet dog food? Oh, you haven’t? Well, let me assure you, that particular reek could compete with a tire fire on top of a garbage dump that only accepted rotten chitlins.
  2. You know the one person in the office who doesn’t understand the concept of volume control or earbuds? Well, just take that person and add in the fact that they’re the corporate-backed dictator of the office and see what you get. And don’t start suggesting that I hide behind earbuds or white noise machines. Nothing is more powerful than a continuous loop of Who Let The Dogs Out.
  3. There has never been a memo, an edict, or dare I say a thought gone through Duncan’s head that didn’t deserve at least ten emails. And if you think I’m exaggerating, then ask the sysadmin who had to convince the email server he wasn’t a spambot. Stop hitting Reply All! I swear!
  4. An always empty coffee pot. And before you ask, I know for a fact it was always Duncan that emptied it because I could hear the lapping all the way from the break room.
  5. Everyone likes to spruce up a bit after lunch, right? Check the teeth for spinach. Fluff the wool. Spritz some Binaca. Whatever it is you do. But we all know how dogs groom themselves. And Duncan didn’t even have the common courtesy to close his office door. Ewwwwwwww.

So now you see my case laid bare before you. I leave it to you fine people to judge whether Duncan was merely a brief stop off on the corporate highway to hell or if, indeed, he was the entire destination. I know where I stand. And that is as far away from the break room as you can possibly be if someone’s warming up their Alpo. Peeeeeee Youuuuuuuuu.

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