Prospero's Books (Kansas City, MO) Review

My wife and I recently visited Prospero's Books in Kansas City, MO, and really enjoyed the store and West 39th St neighborhood! The prices were nothing special by any means, but the guy working the counter was very pleasant, the whole store was both comfy and filled to the brim, and just generally offered an interesting experience. If you can forgive my poor narration and editing skills, I even have a little video.

LG Aristo 2 Plus - 2018's Best New Phone For Broke Nerds

The LG Aristo 2 Plus isn't the best new phone in 2018; it would've been up there in 2008, maybe. (Just look at these badboys.) However, if you want a solid GSM/HSPA/LTE phone (sorry, Sprint) without buying used or spending a lot of money (maybe it's just me), this is the phone for you.

There are better, more qualified places to go for specs and reviews; I'll point you to some I found helpful. The bottom line is that I love my LG Aristo 2 Plus, 2018's best brand new phone for broke nerds.

Ode to John (Riggs)

John Riggs might be my favorite internet personality related to gaming, if not all together. He doesn't upkeep a fancy website, create highly cinematic videos, or spend gobs of time streaming or on social media. Instead, what I appreciate most about Riggs is that he feels very real. Of course he's a very real person; he's tall, he has a big personality, and he's just generally hard to miss. I mean that the content he creates always feels like it's made by a real person - a dad with three kids and a regular day job, who is responsive and inclusive on social media, and for whom gaming is more hobby than lifestyle - rather than a performer a personality. (It's purely coincidence that for his day job he is, in fact, a radio personality.)

Heartland Pawnbrokers (Olathe, KS) Customer Review

I love stuff; toys, games, electronics, collectibles, home goods, you name it. Naturally, I have an appreciation for the best places to find that stuff, like thrift shops, swap meets and flea markets. My time in the corporate retail workforce has particularly fostered my interest in pawn shops. They don’t have the best reputation overall, but I think that’s a shame given the combination of products and services they can provide. Balancing unique merchandising challenges with loan brokering creates a very interesting business model about which I’d love to learn more.

Olathe, Kan., has a handful of reputable pawn shops. One of its best-reviewed is Heartland Pawnbrokers, for which reviews’ common theme is great customer service. Often times when I go thrifting I'm not looking for anything in particular, so I place a premium on a memorable in-store experience. This includes characteristics like store aesthetic, product assortment and organization, and (of course) customer service, so the reviews caught my attention.

Top 100 NES Games For Collectors (and a TON of Honorable Mentions)

Let's say you've got a little money and nothing better to do, so you decide to start an NES collection. You do a quick Google search for "best NES games" only to be disappointed by handfuls of top-### lists built on nostalgia goggles and high price tags. This list has that hypothetical person in mind.

This is not a one-by-one list based solely on quality. It's a collection of pseudo-logical groups of licensed North American releases prioritized by how I'd recommend a new collector pursue them. I did attempt to order games by importance within their respective tiers, based (unscientifically) on quality, popularity, value and iconic importance to the system. Here goes...

Nintendo Gold: Mandatory
They're the best, most iconic and most common games on the system. They're not literally the five best games, but if you own an NES you literally need to own these. You could be very happy with little else.

1. Super Mario Bros 3
2. The Legend of Zelda
3. Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt
4. Super Mario Bros 2
5. Tetris

UPDATE - 2nd Annual CMN Slowpitch Softball Fundraiser

UPDATE: I dug up every photo I could find from the past two years of Slowpitch Softball Fundraisers for the Children's Miracle Network, and stuffed them in an album for your viewing pleasure. Between these two events we raised more than $1000 dollars, and we're very excited to do it again next year!

10 Best Games In My Backlog (Owned But Unplayed)

Image result for shameWhat gamer actually plays as much as he/she would like? I buy games with the best intentions, but it doesn't always pan out. Here are the 10 games I'm most embarrassed to say I've purchased, but never played.

Why I'm A Video Game Collector But Not A Library Completionist

I recently listened to (and really enjoyed) Video Game Dads podcast episode 26. They revisited a facet of video games and collecting in general that I often ponder (when my mind wanders while at work); complete video game libraries. I love collecting video games, but completing a console library is something I don't think I can do.

Dragon Quest XI Review (Part 1: First Impressions)

Read my review!
I've played enough of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PC) to offer a few initial thoughts. I'll try to strike a balance between my own preferences and a more worldly critique. A quick summary is just below, followed by a little more detail on the following:
  • • Audiovisuals (sights and sounds)
  • • Interaction (function and mechanics)
  • • Narrative (story and setting)
  • • Everything else (summary, memorable qualities, miscellaneous)
  • • Additional stuff


Dragon Quest XI is a stellar entry into and evolution of the main series, and a pretty good game overall. It does everything series fans want, and attempts to add mass appeal. The result is a very full, refined JRPG in a casual, accessible package. It's probably not enough to grow the franchise's western audience, but loyal fans will love it and hopefully newcomers with appropriate expectations will be pleasantly surprised.

My take is that it's already my favorite entry in my favorite franchise. I have some minor grievances; casual difficulty and whimsical style (common series complaints) aren't among them. Games don't have to be realistic or hard to be immersive and fun. It almost feels like a rich, light-hearted simulator of an massive modern RPG.

Memories of Mega Man

Image result for mega manMega Man 11 is out on every major platform and is generally receiving praise. New games aren't in the budget for me right now, but that won't stop me from enjoying the experience vicariously through others. I've listened to podcasts from Retro Warriors (some vulgar language) and The Last Podcast Network (more vulgar language) on the broader series, got text reviews of 11 from Hardcore Gaming 101 and Destructoid, another in video from The Completionist, and have generally been reminiscing nonstop about the franchise. I highly recommend it as a way to pass the time.

Heather's First Bargello Quilt

My wife Heather spent countless hours on a new quilt for our bed. It's called a bargello quilt, and I don't know what that means other than that it looks really cool. She'd shown me several designs, and they all have the feel of an optical illusion. We settled on this one - in red, white and blue for America and KU and whatnot - and I could not be more proud of the finished product.

Also, it's really big... like, almost 9.5' x 11' big.

Ford Product Design

No automatic alt text available.My friend Tracy is doing some fun work with his CNC and 3D printer. His side venture is called Ford Product Design, and he can do everything from prototyping and designing to production. If you can think it up (within certain dimension parameters), he can probably bring it to life.

Magic: The Gathering – My First (Pre-Release) Experience

I’ve been learning Magic: The Gathering casually with friends and via the Arena closed and open betas for a few months. Last weekend I attended my first pre-release event (the Guilds of Ravnica); it wasn’t ideal for how I play Magic, but I was rewarded with a few pleasant surprises and a fun experience.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 & 2

I'm not a comic guy; most of my literature intake comes from audiobooks. I've picked up a few over the years, but what few I've kept - Atari Force, Karate Fighters, Bionicle, etc. - isn't for their artistic value. Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 was the first to truly win me over, and Vol. 2 is the first I'll actively purchase.