Monthly Review, June 2023

Marc Majcher
10 min readJul 9, 2023

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Game books on display on a convention table with dice and character sheets— The Empire Never Ended and Grackle Teeth

Feels like a lot of stuff happened this month, so let’s get into it!

Homestead

Well, might as well start off with the sad news—one of our chickens, Lucky, died from the summer heat. She was the fluffiest and had the biggest pants, but couldn’t stand three weeks straight of temperatures over a hundred degrees, unfortunately. The other two seem fine, but we’re keeping a close eye on them this year.

I set up the misting system around the coop again, which seems to be keeping the chicks okay for now—they do complain loudly about getting wet, though. I’ve also set up a black soldier fly larva bin for them, started off with a whole bunch of coffee grounds from a local shop, and keep them fed on what little food waste we generate—fortunately, we had a bunch of potatoes go bad, and they’re going absolutely nuts for those. Just a huge wriggling mass of tasty little critters.

We were away for a little bit this month (thankfully after Lucky went), and the garden got a bit wilty, but not too bad. We’ve got a diy olla buried in one, and the rest just had to kind of tough it out. I hired a pet sitter for the chickens and the bunny while we were out (because Pai is out of town at an art summer camp), so they were all good. I did manage to do a little night gardening (it’s down to 85ºF at 2am) which has its own challenges, repotted the avocado into a bigger pot, and tried to transplant some ditch sunflowers, which gave up immediately.

Indoors, the kratky cartons I put together with a whole bunch of basil in them are doing great, but we were starting to get some little mosquito wigglers in them, so I bought a handful of cheap little fishies and put a couple of them in each one. The larvae disappeared pretty quickly…. and so did the fish, somehow. I don’t imagine they lived terribly long, but they’re just… gone. I guess basil is more bloodthirsty than I’d imagined. The sweet potato slips are going completely bonkers, too, and now I have way more than I think I have room for. Gonna have to wait for a slightly cooler day to get them into the front beds, though, because it’s ridiculous out there.

I also harvested some tiny baby potatoes. That’s… not enough.

We did have a big ol’ storm again, which knocked down the shade sail cloth I had up, and brought a big tree branch down in the driveway—nothing was hurt that I could see, but I did have to drag it out of there by hand before we could do anything else.

Health

Honestly, I’ve been feeling kind of down lately—it being a million degrees outside has made it really difficult to go for walks or do basically anything that I’d like to do in the yard or wood shop, so I don’t imagine that helps things. Allergies are terrible, too—and maybe a bit of smoke from our friends up north—and the mosquitos are our in force, making the Texas summer even less hospitable than usual.

I’ve been getting these weird hive-y welts/rashes when I wake up—I’ve washed and sanitized as much as I can, have a bunch of air filters running, and they don’t look like bites, so I’m not sure where they’re coming from. Best I can figure is that they’re actually reactions from the mosquito bites—I feel kind of bleah all around, so maybe I’m allergic or something to those?

In the same vein, I’ve definitely not been sleeping enough—the combination of ADHD stuff and intense bedtime revenge is really bad when you have to get up for work in the morning. I’m doing what I can, but it’s still rough.

I went in for a checkup at the doctor’s, though, and… I think I have a new doctor? Nobody said anything at the office, and I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork as if I was a new patient, so… I just kind of went with it. She seems pretty good, they did a bunch of the usual stuff on me, and things seem to be mostly all right with the blood and the numbers and the whatnot. I’ve been having some uncomfortableness in my middle parts (which I’ve had off and on for a while, and again, attributed to allergies) that she thought might be a little hernia, so I’m being sent off to get an ultrasound down there for that, and I’m overdue for my butt camera, so I need to get that set up, too. (I’m not worried about the prep or the butt stuff at all, but anaesthesia does my head in, so I’m not looking forward to it.)

Games

So, lots of good stuff on the game front this month! Even managed to run some things in person, WHAAAAAA?

  • I was invited to the Staple! Indie Game Day as Majcher Arcana at the beginning of the month—I had no idea what to expect, but it was really cool, tons of local game developers selling their games and zines and goodies, running their games for folks, and just hanging out and being cool. I ran some The Empire Never Ended for some folks (including a twelve year old who wound up becoming GM and killing it) and wound up selling a bunch of copies of that and Grackle Teeth! (Also available in the new Majcher Arcana gumroad store…)
  • I also went to Origins this month, for the first time since 1986! I was running games with Games on Demand (which I haven’t done since last time I went to GenCon, a few years before Everything Happened) and it was a total blast. Met some cool new folks and got to see some cool old folks, ran Icebox: Timeline, CBR+PNK, and Trophy Dark (first time in the Flocculent Cathedral!) for people, and in general just had a great time. (And it looks like I’ve signed myself to help run it next year, so that’ll be fun, too…)
Marc Majcher at Origins Game Fair
  • Back online, our Thursday night Faded Havens group started on a new campaign using Hectic Electron’s game in playtest, Defy the Gods. It’s half Miyazaki, half swords and sworcery, one hundred percent awesome. I played with Chris (the designer) in a bunch of sessions earlier this year, and we’re absolutely loving it on stream. I think we’re starting to bump up against some of the advancement stuff that’s not quite ready yet, but so far, it all totally rules.
  • On Mondays, the Test Pattern group is still sizzling along with Public Access. I’m a huge fan of all of the Carved from Brindlewood games, and I’m sure that I say this every time a new one is released, but this is definitely my favorite so far. Hits me right in the vibes, and the players are fantastic—I know it’s going to end in a few months, because that’s how this game works, but I’m looking forward to enjoying it as long as I can. Poor Gary.
  • I played in a couple sessions of Bloodbeam Badlands with Max from the RTFM podcast. Post-apocalyptic cowboy vampires trying not to die in the Eternal Daylight of a dying sun, fighting a cyborg tyrannosaurus rex with a giant gun for a head, mutants and wizards, it’s pretty rad.
  • Brought our Sunday afternoon Galaxies in Peril campaign to a satisfying close—in our slice of the multiverse, our heroes wound up defending a fledgeling Oscorp biotech startup from a bunch of cyborg mercenaries sent by Sebastian Shaw, which wound up with Harry O shooting himself up with some Super Skrull ooze… the Kingpin was involved in there, too, and the whole thing was a blast. I’ll miss it—and the group is taking off until August—but we had quite a time.
So Many Supers
  • Continued our Calazcon campaign of Beam Saber (that’s going to be compiled into a megagame podcast series), getting our first downtime and second mission in. It’s a mecha Forged in the Dark game, so that’s that. 😄
  • Started playing Hearts of Camelot, a Hearts of Wulin hack in an Arthurian setting with some great folks. Super good!
  • Played some Knave with the Plus One Exp folks, which is always a good time.
  • Made a character and played a session of a little indie game called Dungeons and Dragons 5e (starting an OZ campaign with Evlyn Moreau). It was pretty much what you’d expect. 😆 I think I’m not going to be able to make another session for a while due to another conflicting game, but I’m curious to see where it goes!
  • Played some Dream Askew with a bunch of new folks (and one old acquaintance who is was neat to “meet” in person, finally), and … that game is so good. Just lovely.
  • As usual, had to cancel a couple of games here and there, but I think I did just fine, overall.

In other games, I’m still poking away at Snap, and giving Slipways a shot, but … how do people ever find time for video games? How did I?

Media

  • Went to see Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which was much better than I expected!
  • Saw Into the Spiderverse with Nic, which was amazing.
  • Watched all of Contrapoints and tons of Philosophy Tube on youtube, and that’s why I’m up until 4:30am arguing with terfs on twitter.
  • Caught the new season of Black Mirror, which was good, but … I’m not sure why some of those episodes are on Black Mirror. (I do hope they run with the horror Red Mirror thing, because, more of that, please.)
  • (Re-?)read the entirety of Transmetropolitan, which is still great, and awful and horrible in ways that it really wasn’t the first time around.
  • Started the new season of Strange New Worlds, which still totally gets it.
  • Watched the first bit of Secret Invasion, which… well, it’s there.
  • On the recommendation of some discord sickos, read Let’s Go Play At The Adams’, which is lurid and nasty in the way that only a cheapo ’70s horror novel can be. Do Not Recommend.
  • Saw Asteroid City with Nic, and it was the most Wes Anderson thing I’ve ever seen.

Work

New cohort blazed through their first code challenge—it’s a smallish class full of dudes, and they’re doing fine. We lost a couple, but one of them was literally doing bong rips on camera in our stand up meetings, so, not a huge surprise. Still doing tons of emotional labor across the board, but I got a weekend off, which was nice.

We’re pivoting to a bunch of new AI stuff, which I have opinions about, but whatever, not my job. We’ve got a new curriculum developer on, who seems promising, but again, we’ll see. They’ve kind of got instructors doing two and a half jobs right now (for the same compensation, of course—”quiet hiring” is what the kids have been calling it), but it’s still better than the alternative, I guess.

Other Stuff

Struggling to get back into the wood shop, between the clutter and the heat and the general malaise. I built a new table saw stand, and knocked together a janky outfeed table thing, and that’s about all I could muster. Still trying to get some actual work done in there, but it’s challenging.

IT’S SO FUCKING HOT.

Nic was away for a conference and classes for a couple of weeks, but they came home! It’s super cool that they get to do stuff like that, but we do miss each other terribly when one of us is away. More traveling together!

Pai is away at a fancy art summer program in Michigan for a big chunk of the summer! They don’t have access to cell phones while they’re there, I guess, and I think there’s a whole weird private school vibe there, but they seem psyched about it, and I’m super eager to hear how it went when they get back!

Oh! Nic also wrote a comic book about their dissertation, and I helped lay it out and sent it to the printer, so they’ll have a whole bunch of them to give out or whatever. Super sweet.

We went to get dinner at Kura (revolving sushi place) for the first time since the pandemic, and … it was disappointing. I don’t think we’ll be going back.

The bunny is very cute, and doing well. I got some little plastic arms for the chickens, but they did not care for them at all.

While I was in Columbus for Origins, I got to grab dinner with Casey, an old friend of mine from high school/college! I haven’t seen him in like literally twenty five years, and it was really good to catch up—I’m gonna try to arrange a game or something for some of the old crew to get together online, so we’ll see how that goes! I also stumbled upon ComFest, which was happening in a park right next to my hotel, so that was cool.

Oh yeah, travel. I know there was a big storm or something, but it was terrible. American Airlines managed to last-minute cancel one of the flights on each leg of my trip from Austin to Columbus and back, and I wound up spending the entire night in the New Orleans airport. I think the trip back was around fourteen hours altogether, with three layovers? Anyway, that sucked, but at least they lost my luggage when I got home. But it’s okay, they sent me some useless points or something to make up for it. Ugh.

I’m still the only person masking here, I think

Overall, though, feeling really good about a bunch of stuff and a bunch of folks—there was some gross RSD stuff kicking off with one of the Other Cons, but getting some great positive feedback from a bunch of great folks (Jason C, Halyn, Andrew, Evan, etc) was a huge help, and kept me from totally spiraling out on my own. FRENZ!

Plans

Rest? Try to get stuff done? Both? Neither? I dunno, July kind of looks like a (literal) hot mess, but we’ll see what happens…

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Marc Majcher

Teacher, Game Designer, Performer, Developer, all the things.