Opened up today’s newspaper to see that Russian tanks are attacking the Republic of Georgia. Lasha, the guy who sculpted the figures for my game, lives in Georgia, I think in the capital of T’bilisi. I e-mailed Jim at Firewheel Casting (who created the Ltd. Ed idols) to see if he’s heard from Lasha, if he’s okay. No word yet. I also realized, with a bit of panic, that I forgot to find and order envelopes or packaging for the Expansion Set. Shit shit shit. I took more boxes of Ltd. Edition idols to mail to Atlanta; all was going well until I tried to jam the 2 foot cubed box in my Toyota. Well, look at that. Won’t quite fit. Exasperated, I left it next to the front door and took the one that would fit, mailed it off. I’ll fill up a second huge box and borrow my dad’s truck to get it there. Thought of a new item for my Balls-Out.net site: “Balls Out knows the exact date that Axl is going to release Chinese Democracy.” Thought it was kinda clever, Blake agreed, so we put it up.
My friend Patty and my next door neighbor came over and helped me pack figurines into boxes for 3 hours. It would have taken me five hours, that’s what friends are for. I’m feeling relieved to finally have the pieces in boxes and ready to go. 17 days until D-Day, gotta get this stuff in transit. Finished reading / skimming Blasphemy (I skipped over 1600 to about 1880), a few interesting nuggets: In 1942, the Supreme Court ruled that profanity is not protected speech (Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire); it seems a Jehovah’s Witness named Chaplinsky called all religion a “racket. ” A cop confronted him, and he called the cop a “God damned racketeer” and a “damned Fascist.” Chaplinsky was convicted because of his profanity, and the Supreme Court upheld it. In 1941, the Supreme Court ruled that an Oklahoma City law that made it unlawful to “reproach or ridicule God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the Christian or any other religion” was indeed constitutional. So much for freedom of speech, goddamn it. Interesting. The book concludes by saying that though blasphemy laws are rarely enforced these days, they are still on the books in many places, and are legally speaking enforceable.
Began reading a book called Blasphemy: Verbal Offenses Against the Sacred, From Moses to Salman Rushdie, by Leonard Levy. It’s been on my shelf for years, but I figured it was time to bone up on it, as it’s possible I’ll be called a blasphemer at some point soon, so I might as well know what I’m being accused of. I won’t bother to summarize it, but I learned a few interesting facts about the history of insulting gods: 1) “For most of history, blasphemers have been devout Christians” — it’s usually different sects of a religion that consider each others blasphemers; only rarely and recently are non-believers considered blasphemers. 2) Many sacred texts including the Hebrew Bible, declares that blasphemy, like idolatry, cannot be endured; 3) In fact, in strict Jewish tradition, merely saying God’s name is considered blasphemy (hence they use the letters “YHVH” instead).
I’m sleeping better at night… Found out that my shipment was X-rayed by Customs, they didn’t see anything interesting, so they sent it back to the warehouse, and theoretically it will be on the way to Atlanta. I’m now figuring my chances of having the games at the big premiere are better than 50/50, maybe closer to 70/30. Yes, I have 3 weeks until D-Day, but a lot of things can go wrong. I’m expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Also, found out my schedule for Dragon*Con: I’m on two panels, one “Skeptics Vs. Believers” debate, and giving three talks: lake monsters, psychic detectives, and an overview of my decade in paranormal investigation. All this is fine, but leaves me very busy, don’t know when I’m going to be promoting the PG game and doing demos— much less enjoying myself. At least my friend Chris will be there to help out.
Good news, good news. Word is that my shipment of 250 games have arrived on US soil in L.A from the literal “slow boat from China.” Still a risk, Customs may decide to do a random inspection and hold up my games for 2 weeks. If so, I’m in deep shit. If not, it may be heading to a train soon, then to Atlanta.
Saw sneak preview of the new Mummy movie; it was okay for a third-generation Indiana Jones clone. I’m still preparing to send 1,200 deluxe (Ltd.Ed.) figurines to Atlanta, and trying to get all the stuff I’ll need. I got 250 4X4X6 boxes in bulk from a company called ULine. I decided I should make the packing peanuts go further by also using shredded paper as a cheap but good packing material (the technical word for it is “dunnage,” which just sounds silly to me). Anyway, I went to CostCo and bought a shredder for about $70, I’m probably one of the few people who is more interested in the product of the shredding than the actual shredding (I don’t really have many high-security papers). After a few test runs, I’m a shredding fool, like kid on Christmas morning with a Stomper 4X4 (you guys in your thirties know what I’m talking about). Soon I’m shredding more paper than the Bush White House.
An old friend of mine, a shrunken head collector from Toronto, said he’d buy three games. Excellent! Not sure what the shipping to Toronto will be, but I appreciate the support. I’ll send him an autographed Buddha figurine.
I printed up a bunch of Playing Gods stickers. One says, “My god is badder than your god,” and the other says, “Be your own god.” I was going to enclose one in each game, but then I found out that shipping them to China would cost about $400. When you add in the cost of the stickers themselves, it got too expensive, so I had to abandon that idea. Still, I’ll give them out at conferences and enclose them free with orders I fulfill. I’m hoping they will be interactive, and I’ll encourage people to take photos of where they put (or find) the Playing Gods stickers: bumpers, halls, on the Eiffel Tower, on boobs, etc. I’ll have a place on the PlayingGods Web site (called Olympus) where people can share tips, meet up, and post the photos.
Actually, the idea came from a Web site I stumbled upon for a punk band called Kill Allen Wrench. I have no idea if they’re any good or not, but I dig their marketing style. On their Web site they have a few galleries of photos of their stickers sent in by their fans. Most of them are on, um, skin. Like naked groupie skin. I don’t expect a board game (even an ass-kicking, counterculture one like Playing Gods) to result in lots of softcore photos sent in by hot players hoping to win a prize, but I’m hopeful. And I mean that in a mostly non-sexist, pro-loving-your-body kind of way.
GOT MY FIRST PRE-ORDER! An old co-worker friend of mine, The Weasel, who occasionally did test-playing (and with whom I saw Billy Idol in a small club in Toronto in 2005), came through. Thanks Weasel!
Marketing plan meeting with my Principal Investors. Mom and Dad liked the spaghetti with green chile sauce I prepared, and I had answers to all the questions, including my plan to distribute the game. I also decided I’d need to take pre-orders to help raise money for the game before its release. I’ve got about $2,500 in expenses coming due soon, and if I can get even a few hundred dollars coming in, every bit will help. I called my Web guy, Blake, and asked him to help set it up.