Articles Gaming Scene TWBG ACT VIII: MERRY CHRISTMAS (I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT TONIGHT)
 

TWBG ACT VIII: MERRY CHRISTMAS (I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT TONIGHT) TWBG ACT VIII: MERRY CHRISTMAS (I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT TONIGHT) Hot

What do you think of when you think of Christmas?  Me, I think of how pissed off I'll be in late Janurary when I see Christmas stuff still laying around in a store or on somebody's lawn.  Christmas should be never thought of, seen, nor heard about until December.  So here we are, about halfway to Christmas and Gameshark.com is offering a round-trip ticket to Christmas at AGF circa 2005.

And since we're violating my "Christmas only in December" rule, you may as well go check this out over at Youtube- the coolest Christmas special ever.  It's like the writers of HE-MAN got a hold of the Santa Claus story...but actually it's based on an L. Frank Baum book.

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Comments (30)
  • avatarKriz

    Man, I just can't understand some people's views on life. Its unfortunate you had such a horrible partner in all of this.

    I also run a business and I have to say that creating a sense of community, real community beyond elite playhouses and high end wine bars, is something the wealthy and people in city councils and people in business associations just don't understand. I'd say they dont have souls, but I dont believe in souls anyway. So I don't know what it is.

  • avatarMattDP

    Had to chime in here and congratulate you on a fine piece of writing, really good. Showcases why you're the one with the paid column :)

    I know what you mean about rich people being divorced from the mundane concerns of those on ordinary - or less than ordinary - salaries. I work for an executive recruitment agency and although I'm in IT, I sometimes have to hobnob with people on six-figure salaries (equivalent to US$200,000 ) and they're just on a different planet. I remember reading a newspaper column once where the author asked a merchant banker what he thought the average salary was and - in spite of the fact he must've know it was a leading question and should aim low - he picked a figure more than twice the real one.

    Anyone seen the film "Society"? Revolting enough that I'd only want to watch it once. But the gulf between the rich and the rest is big enough - and apparently unassailable enough - that they might as well be a different species.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Well, thanks Matt. I appreciate the compliment!

    SOCIETY is an interesting movie...I haven't seen it in years, but in my formative years that may very well have influenced my view of the elite. Yuck!

    I mean, it's fine to be wealthy. It's good to be taken care of and be able to do things that you want to do and not worry about the next paycheck. That must be wonderful. And if you can have money and still be a human being, then that's great. But the people who make money like that and become the Elite...they lose something along the way, almost always. And part of that is a connection to the real world that most people have to deal with every day.

    One of the things that really bugged me about Dollar Bill is that we were friends back when he was making $6 an hour, waiting tables and driving a beat-up old car. Once he started making money, he turned into Dirk Diggler from BOOGIE NIGHTS (sans apparatus)- that party scene where he's showing off his stuff like those Italian shoes is something I saw him do time and time again. It got to the point where we were totally on different wavelengths- I was worried about my job, having enough money to pay bills, and trying to save for retirement and he was concerned with paying cash for his new Jaguar, buying a third home, and taking a $20,000 honeymoon. And he'd tell me about all these things I ought to do or places I ought to go and I'm thinking the whole time "Yeah, that would be great if I had your kind of money".

    Looking back at the AGF situation, that was something that really kind of screwed things up- since he had nothing to lose and I had everything to lose, it created an unwinnable situation for me.

  • avatarMrZir

    Thanks for the story Michael. It's a great picture of unbridled greed. There was no logic in closing the store vs. taking the buyout. Did he ever game like that, or was it just real life?

    Also, did Dollar Bill ever consider opening a new store, say next door to AGF? I bet that would really have burned the Barrister.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Ha! We did consider doing EXACTLY that, with everything one dollar cheaper than AGF. I doubt the property owner would have gone for it though.

    The thing you've got to remember in all of this is that The Barrister was very much both a coattail rider and an opportunist. The coattails were Dollar Bill's and I was the opportunity. Plus he was really trying to milk us for money...which is the only reason he did all this to begin with.

  • avatarjabbott

    So where was the DragonCon money?

  • avatarjhuntin1

    Excellent writing, Michael. Throughout this whole series you have been able to draw me exactly into the situation as if I was standing next to you. This sounds like the climax of the story.

    For all of his faults, The Barrister had a huge set of cahones to be to be able to walk away from something when a whole lot of nothing is staring him in the face.

  • avatarNeonPeon

    Sad that the store was doing well enough in a difficult biz, but it wasn't the difficult biz that was the problem. Before I read your story, I assumed internet deep discounters were the store's downfall, especially since that topic seems to be a sore spot for you.

  • avatarmikelawson

    So THAT'S what the Down in Flames series is about.

    --Mike L.

  • avatarjeb

    >:(

  • avatarmikelawson

    I don't suppose any karma ever got The Barrister?

    --Mike L.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    So where was the DragonCon money?

    I left that part out on purpose. Because I don't really know! All I know is that it eventually wound up in the bank account after the firing. It's left open to interpretation.

    I assumed internet deep discounters were the store's downfall, especially since that topic seems to be a sore spot for you.

    They're a sore spot because I know the damage that they can possibly do- not just to stores, but the whole industry. When a reasonable percentage of the game buying public is trained to not accept anything less than a 30% markdown, there's a serious problem.

    We managed to meet 'em head on though...I did 30% off and _still_ had people telling me that stuff was too expensive. But nonetheless, it worked OK. If I did it again, I would instead do it as a buyer's club or some sort of incentive thing. A blanket 30% off is tough to deal with. You've got to do so much volume to make up for the margin loss.

    For all of his faults, The Barrister had a huge set of cahones to be to be able to walk away from something when a whole lot of nothing is staring him in the face.

    Well, in Act 9 I think you'll see that he had a fallback stance ready...that just didn't pan out for him. It'll make his refusal more...complex.

  • avatarbill abner

    As his editor, I'd like to congratulate Mike as well. I think this series has been one of the very best gaming columns on the net -- computer, board, nude wrestling, whatever. I look forward to every installment of this crazy saga.

    The thing to know about Mike's work: He's *never* missed a deadline and has never questioned an edit or griped about...anything. I cannot stress how extraordinarily rare that is. I'm also glad that the column has proven popular (something I was told, by several members at BGG, would never work on a videogame website) and I need to thank you guys in part for that, too.

  • avatarmikelawson

    Bill--

    Just how popular is it? Is it mainly us who read it, or do you see some significant hits on it?

    --Mike L.

  • avatarbill abner

    Well, that depends on what you run it against. Compared to our other columns it's by far the most popular. Columns are a TRICKY thing. Some take off, others don't. Even good ones. Tom Chick, one of THE best writers in our biz, had his latest columm die at GameSpy because no one read it. So they're tough. Mike has a built in advantage because of:

    A) This place
    B) His rep on BGG. Don't underestimate that. The people who say they HATE Michael Barnes still read his stuff linked from BGG.

    Roughly 15-25% of the LCD readers come from the article link that Mike posts every week on this site. Another chunk comes from my personal blog, and a lot of it is just regular GShark traffic.

    So basically it's like this: it's not as widely read as a BIG name review or preview, but it holds its own with everything else and for a boardgame column on a videogame site...that's damn good.

  • avatarKen B.

    I think the arrangement between Mike, us, and Gameshark is pretty cool...both sites see increased traffic, Mike gets his stuff out to multiple audiences, and we all benefit. Pretty sweet.

  • avatarGary Sax

    Tom Chick *is* one of the best.

  • avatarJur

    This ending reminds me of a chapter in the Oxford History of the American West that I keep returning to. To the author (Maxwell Brown) the violence of the American West is based on the doctrine of no duty to retreat. It means that although old common law required that a person should try to escape a situation that threatened to turn violent, in the American West he was free to strike even if his back was not to the wall.

    The whole genre of western movies is based on this doctrine. Men who decide to fight back even when there are other options, even when it is not even the smartest option. Fighting back because that is what it means to be 'a man' (a dying race).

    The Barrister, Dollar Bill... they are true western men.

    The Kid however... well, I guess we'll have to wait for the last installment to see what kind of man the Kid really is

    (and I'll save my praise for the quality of writing until then as well)

  • avatarbillyz

    Hehe. You've come a long way Mike: a year and some change ago you were wasting your talents on a unapreciative bunch of whiners, and now Bill Abner comes out and says how much he enjoys working with you--and that yours has been one of the best gaming columns on the net!

    I don't know you from Adam, but I'm sure you deserve it. Good for you you opinionated bastard you! LOL

    As for the Barrister, he is a much bigger moron than I ever imagined. I don't care what his "fallback position" was, that was as stupid as stupid business decisions get: You NEVER risk bankruptcy on some outside shot of a plan working. Not to mention building a mountain of debt to get into a business you know nothing about, and that you depend on other people to make it work for you.

    Simply stupid.

  • avatarDruen Kree

    Sounds like this Barrister was trying to drink your milkshake.

  • avatarmikoyan

    Wow. The guys sounds like a moron. You'd think he would understand the notion of being able to get out free and clear. Or at least would understand the notion that he's messing things up.

    Ah well....

  • Schweig!

    You chose The Ramones' "Merry Christmas" as this columns header, when really it should be "The End" by The Doors.

  • avatarKriz

    I watched the you tube video...I especially like how that awesome silver ax pulled out the end fires lasers.

  • avatarvandemonium

    Man Michael, I don't recall if this has come up before but have you ever worked on a screenplay? The way this whole series has been written is so picturesque. I can just envision the "characters" and the events. Fantastic witting. It makes me want to run to my FLGS and say "IS EVERYTHING OK???"

    Looking forward to the next act, sir.

  • avatarPseudoIntellectual

    It doesn't surprise me that he was stupid enough to gamble bankruptcy versus double his investment, because of the fact he was stupid enough to saddle himself with so much debt in the first place, to get in on a game and hobby store! Anyone starting a game and hobby store, in my opinion, should have the money to view the store as a hobby, expect it to pay the rent, tops, and be financially secure enough to have such a hobby. I can't imagine huge profits, or shocking fortunes ever ocurring from the hobby game store field.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    That's exactly the problem- hobby retail (and likely working in the industry at all) is, come to find out, a hobby in itself. But it's just not a viable living. There's just not enough money in the industry to support huge profits, million-dollar lifestyles, or in many cases sustainable businesses. Even in the biggest board game companies the top-tier employees are making half or less what professionals working in similar positions are making elsewhere- but they're doing it because they love it.

    Man Michael, I don't recall if this has come up before but have you ever worked on a screenplay?

    Not for this story...I did write one recently for a major cable television show but I'm not sure if it's going to be produced or not. It has absolutely nothing to do with board games whatsoever. I'd like to make a little money off it, you know.

    I watched the you tube video...I especially like how that awesome silver ax pulled out the end fires lasers.

    It's awesome...you should see the whole thing...it's all about Kris Kringle earning the Mantle of Immortality from this council of elders or something...he has to fight orcs in it, if that tells you anything. Some really great puppetry in it too. And that dude that does the voice of Panthro is in it since it's a Rankin-Bass thing.

  • avatarvandemonium

    Man Michael, I don't recall if this has come up before but have you ever worked on a screenplay?

    Not for this story...I did write one recently for a major cable television show but I'm not sure if it's going to be produced or not. It has absolutely nothing to do with board games whatsoever. I'd like to make a little money off it, you know.

    Change it from a game store to a brothel and you have box office dynamite my friend!!

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    I was thinking "DIE HARD- in a game store!"

  • avatarSebastianBludd

    I was thinking "DIE HARD- in a game store!"

    The first thing I pictured when I read this was Bruce Willis in the bathroom picking meeples and cubes out of his bloody feet...

  • avatarMerciful Zeus

    Seriously? The Barrister was surprised and angered to learn that you told your mutual friend and business partner, Dollar Bill, about the missing 10K Dragon Con money? Dollar Bill should have said "Hey Barrister, I'm glad I was told about the missing money. Now, you're fired for being a lousy employee and an even worse person."

    I hope the final act has some serious comeuppance for the Barrister. Great series of articles by the way.

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