Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Videos and News to Share

There are two videos on YouTube right now I'd like to recommend.

First, if you read my review on Cobb & Co's Robin Hood musical and wish you could have seen it while they were performing, you're in luck! A video of their performance is available through the Spanish Fork 17 YouTube channel, and I've embedded the video below:

Also, I made a video based on my Lore Survival blog entry to try and drum up more interest. I got to use a lot more card art for the video, so please give it a look:

And in even better news, the first draft of the new Darksome Thorn novel is complete and ready for editing and revision.

Thank you again for all your support. :-)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review: Cobb and Co.'s Robin Hood: The Musical

Remember a year ago, when I drove eight hours to see a play produced by Cobb & Co.?

1558458116 20190420 130059Well I did it again. And it was just as glorious as I remember.

It wasn't the same play. They rotate their offerings a truly impressive amount for a theater company that centers on original productions. Also, I made it to the first week of showings, which means you might well be reading this in time to go see the same show I did, with the same delightful cast.

If so, I truly hope you do. This company's work is too special not to share with everyone you know.

If you do go, here are some things you can expect.

This Robin Hood, played by John Cobb, is a bit more nuanced than your average fare. He's easily the most compelling Robin I've seen. I dare say we've seen Robin Hood as a reluctant hero, but I've never felt that struggle quite this poignantly. John plays Robin more like a Prince Hamlet, with fascinating vacillations that aren't just played up for drama. They make sense, and they follow naturally from Robin's first scene and his first song, "How Can a Fella Get Ahead in Life." And yet for all that, the vacillations and uncertainty wouldn't have worked nearly as well without the rock steady influence of Little John.

This Little John stands out as one my favorite parts of the experience. If I could sum up Jade Higley's performance of Little John in one word, it would be "presence." Wherever he's standing is the center of the stage, and the rest of the cast, dressing, and props all lean toward him as if drawn by gravity. Even at his most quiet and self-assured, you can sense power behind every move he makes. And when he finally does let loose and roar, you might well experience the same goosebumps I did. Or maybe you'll run and hide. I won't be surprised either way.

I won't spend too much more time calling out individual performances, except to add that Michelle Adams's Maid Marian was warm and clever, had the best singing voice on the stage, and her chemistry with Roslyn, played by Hannah Cobb, was nothing short of delightful. Michelle could have carried the play on her own merit, and though she had as much stage time as most other characters, I wanted more. I still want more.

Also, Christian Hansen's Constable stole the show. Because of course he did.

The choreography was fun and fluid, easy to follow, yet still inventive and full of surprises. Little John's quick foot jab at the beginning of the play shows up again at the climax without fanfare, but to great effect. Bows, swords, and quarterstaves find their way seamlessly into both dramatic action sequences and comedic slapstick. And what about the archery, you might ask? Well there's no arrows in those stage bows of course, but they still pull off a few classic Robin Hood trick shots. This is a Robin Hood story after all.

The performances will keep you glued to your seats, but it's Cobb & Co's music that keeps people coming back, and Robin Hood was no exception. The audience clapped along through a number of merry ditties, and the standout pieces had to be songs like the previously mentioned "How Can a Fella Get Ahead in Life," the hilarious "Naughty Sheriff of Nottingham" (that pun has three layers; can you find them all?), and the one that turned Sherwood Forest into its own character, simply named "Sherwood." The lyrics tend to either be fun and whimsical or sweet and thoughtful, but they excel in both categories. In fact, I still have a couple tunes stuck in my head a week later.

Tickets are just ten dollars, but you can do better. They accept donations on Patreon now too, or if you just want a few snacks to keep you company in the theater seats, concessions are always a great way to support a theatrical company. Either way, please go check them out and then let me know what you thought!

Look for times and dates of performances, as well as info about future productions, here:


Thursday, May 2, 2019

MTG Multiverse Survival Guide: Quick Tips

Inspired by this Quora question: https://www.quora.com/If-you-woke-up-in-the-multiverse-of-Magic-the-Gathering-what-would-be-your-strategy-to-survive

Suppose you woke up and find yourself somewhere in the Magic the Gathering multiverse, on one of the many planes. What would you do? Where would you go?

There’s lots of options here that depend a great deal on which plane you ended up on.

If you land on Ravnica for example, you might go watch a Rakdos show, or visit one of the Selesnya sanctuaries. If you land on Gobakhan you’ll want to pick up some diamonds from the sand, because they’re literally everywhere. If you’re on Kaladesh you’ll probably want to find a steampunk pet of some kind to follow you around, and if you happen to be on Ixalan it would be cool to meet some of the domesticated dinosaurs and maybe make a friend.

Lots of things to do. :-)

First things first though. If we assume you’ve landed on a random point in a random plane in the multiverse, it follows naturally you probably didn’t land in a city. Unless you landed in Ravnica, where the city covers the entire planet, you will probably find yourself in one of the many vast expanses of untouched wilderness, filled with enormous baloths, ravenous wurms, and vicious drakes. And worse things. Much worse things.

Ah, nature. :-)

So what should you do if you want to survive the night? In most planes, the first thing you’ll want to do is find civilization right away. How to do that is going to depend on the plane though, and of course you have to survive the local wildlife long enough to make the trek all the way to the nearest village.

Discussing each plane in turn will take time though. I’m hoping to cover that in later entries, but for now, here’s some quick and dirty tips for surviving as an unarmed, unmagical human who just woke up in the Magic the Gathering multiverse.

1. The first priorities in any survival situation are water, food, and shelter. The easiest way to find all three is to find civilization, as just about every plane we know about has some kind of civilization (though not all). There are of course some spiritual or mental planes where you don’t technically need any of these things. Let’s not worry about those yet.

2. Keep an eye on the weather. Some planes are plagued with dangerous weather patterns such as manastorms, voidstorms, diamond storms, lavalanches, stone rain, fire rain, and of course, elemental activity. On these sorts of planes shelter becomes an even greater priority than normal.

3. Avoid the larger wildlife, most of which will eat you if it finds you. There are a stunning number of apex predators in the multiverse, so many it makes you wonder how sentient life ever evolved here. Avoid open spaces, watch your back at every turn, and basically don’t relax until you can find friendly sentient life.

4. Also, don’t trust your previous understanding of how nature works. Even familiar looking creatures might work completely differently, depending on where you landed. Watch animals closely before approaching, looking for unexpected fangs, wings, and other oddities. Avoid corpses, which might not be completely dead. Try to figure out which plantlife is sentient and which isn’t before gathering firewood or building a shelter. In fact, you should probably ask every branch and stone for permission before picking it up, just in case.

5. If you have to live in the wilderness for a bit, trust plains or islands over forests or mountains, and forests or mountains over swamps. Avoid swamps at all costs. Plains and island creatures (white and blue creatures) tend to be a bit friendlier to innocents.

6. Find a village right away and ask for directions to the nearest city. If there are no cities, ask for a sanctuary. Use signs and pictures to convey your meaning if you can’t find the right words. You want to make it clear you are not a warrior or adventurer, you need a safe place, and you don’t know anything.

7. Make sure you know the language before you head to a large city. You might find you know the language right away, and you might not know why. There’s no lore explanation for this, but every plane seems to speak the same language despite thousands of years of history and very little cultural sharing. The answer, of course, is because of magical influence between the planes, so my best estimate is if you don’t know the language right away you will probably be able to pick it up really quick.

8. Don’t travel alone if you can avoid it. Travel with a companion or even a caravan, as there is bound to be someone headed to the city eventually who can help keep you safe, if only from your own ignorance.

9. Once you’re in a city, avoid the obvious danger zones: cults, gangs, and warclans. Remember: you are an unarmed, unmagical human and a foreigner. You are a target. Try not to stick out too much. You don’t want to end this trip as a necromancer’s undead minion, and that is very likely if you can’t watch your step.

10. If you can learn some magic, do it, but not at the risk of joining a sketchy organization. There are a lot of different forms and sources of magic in the multiverse, so the quicker you can learn, the quicker you can find a place in this plane’s society. Find your niche.

11. Be tolerant. Racism is a huge problem on many planes, but you can’t afford to get caught up in it. Some planes don’t have humans, and on others the best connections you can make might not be human. Try to understand, and at the very least try not to offend. You can’t afford to be too picky about allies in a world where the isolated get eaten, beaten, turned into the undead, or all three.

12. Speaking of which, join a team. Maybe not right away, but once you’ve learned a bit about the city you’re in and how the plane is divided into its respective parts, find the part that appeals to you most and seek it out. You’ll learn faster that way, and have someone to watch your back.


For images: 

To learn more about each plane: 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

80,000 words and climbing!

Today Dead Forsworn reached my goal of 80,000 words! There's still a couple chapters left of story and a great deal of editing to do, and with the planned combining of the two novels into one I suppose we could have declared an 80,000 words milestone 50,000 words ago, but still!

Things are coming together in an exciting way. :-)

It seems appropriate actually that the 80,000 word mark fell at the same moment as an important character death. No spoilers, though! You'll find out soon enough.

Thank you for all your support in this joint adventure!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Young Artists and Phagim

Thank you to my family's homeschool group for reading Darksome Thorn! Rebekah and Haley both decided to recreate the phagim from the book, and I love how they turned out. :-)