Wingman

There was an event tonight I went to called Bring Your Own Wingman that was actually a pretty clever design for getting single folk together. I ended up going with Paul, Sophie and Ginger, although we made a dinner stop at Umi Sake House first (nom nom sushi so delicious).

The rules were simple:

  • You must be single.
  • You must bring a friend – a woman if you are a man, a man if you are a woman – and this friend must also be single.
  • During the event, you talk up your friend to other folk who are interested in them!

Really a brilliant idea, even if this one’s execution was lacking. You get a bunch of interested singles, plus the benefit of reference/perspective information from a friend of theirs RIGHT THERE in the room, plus the ratio of men/women is excellent. In thinking about it, I thought maybe pairs would stick together so there’d be a fair bit of 4-person chatting, which can be unfortunate (maybe two halves like each other but then the other two halves are left twiddling thumbs). A good addition to the system might be a way to get people moving around to talk with more folk?

This brings me to the execution part: when we got there, it was packed like sardines and very uncomfortable! (General rule: if I can’t walk to your bar without pushing people around, I probably don’t want to be in your bar.) So, testament to the event’s success! But I think a bigger venue, or just a better distributed venue – smaller rooms connected around – would have been waaay better. Plus it would have encouraged more movement! I’m interested in trying to do something like this again, but hopefully not as overpacked as it was last night.

(We ended up going to karaoke instead, obv.)

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Live from Carnival Glory

As you are probably aware, I do my fair share of karaoke. Ok, maybe even more than my fair share! So when I heard there was live band karaoke on our boat during the Magic Cruise, I was all for it. The first night it happened, I was tied up with configuring Faceboat, but I resolved to join the others for singing times later in the week.

On Thursday, we went over and grabbed two large booths. A bunch of us signed up, including the Seattle karaoke regulars. Live band karaoke has a somewhat shorter song list than regular karaoke, obv, because it’s songs the band has the sheet music for. (Also potentially the license, not sure.) Luckily, they had a song listed I was happy to do!

Ke$ha – Tik Tok
I love this song because it was basically our dance anthem on Magic Cruise 2, and I love this one the most of all of Kesha’s insane sing-a-long pop songs (see also: Die Young, Your Love Is My Drug, Blow, etc.) As I do when I’m about to sing a song *I* can’t help but sing along to, I stated “This one is kind of a singalong” at the start of my live karaoke act. Afterward, the MC/band singer remarked on how she thought I meant some classic rock or something.

“That must be how you guys do it in Seattle, huh?”

YUP

…more on this lovely singer later!

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Unexpected Party

I was on the Carnival Glory, and we had set sail (after an arduous safety briefing). Our group of Magic players and significant others were set to meet in the conference room (Green Room) on the 4th Deck. To get to it, I decided to walk through the bar on 4, the Ivory Lounge. When I came through the doors, my keen sense of observation immediately detected something amiss:

The place was packed with 200-300 men and women, all sitting, standing, talking, all of roughly college age.

I have never seen that many people packed together in one place on a boat, except maybe the first day on the top deck, and the safety drills. Baffled, I walked through until I caught a young lady’s eye. I asked, “So, are you all part of one group, or…?”

“Oh yeah,” she replied. “It’s this group of 300 singles, and this is our first meet-up.”

My jaw dropped a bit, but I recovered and made a cool exit. “Cool! Well, I’ll hopefully see you guys later!” I went through into the Green Room, met all of the Magic folk, and then went wandering.

After some hours at the martini bar (man, best bar ever), I went up to the top deck with friends for some 24hr pizza. Up next to the pool, about 100 of these singles had arrayed a circle of chairs and were playing some sort of crazy game. “Get in there, Dave!” said Amanda B and Lee. Yeah yeah, ok. I pulled up a chair, and immediately found out what was going on from my neighbors: Never Have I Ever Musical Chairs.

(Aside: What a wonderful merging of two well-known games! In Never Have I Ever Musical Chairs, there is 1 fewer chair than participants, so 1 person is always standing in the center. That person states a thing they have never done – “Never have I ever smoked pot” – and then each participant who HAS done the thing gets out of their chair and finds a new one to sit in. Whoever is left standing at the end states the next thing!)

It was during this game where I chatted a bit more with some of the friendly singles and found out that they were all Mormon. So, our ship had been invaded by a group of singles, which seems awesome, but they were all Mormon, which seems slightly less awesome in the drinking-and-debauchery sense. They were having a good time, though, and it was infectious!

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Port Authority

Now that I have been on a few cruises (this was my fifth Carnival cruise, so I leveled up from red to gold ship card :o ) I feel I can speak with some reasonable knowledge of some of the cool and not-so-cool things I have done while off-boat in port.

  • Cool: Going on active excursions. I really enjoyed zip lining and rock climbing, and snorkeling as always (although I had the same drowning reflex I always have when I put my face underwater)
  • Cool: Doing literal anything with friends is 1000x better than doing any activity alone. Had a delicious lunch in Grand Cayman with folk and it was a ton of fun
  • Not So Cool: The extremely touristy town next to the piers. I mean, I get this, but after the true-city feel of Juneau and Victoria on our northerly cruise, I am sick of them.

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There and Back Again

Just got back to Seattle from a week-long trip on the Magic Cruise. It’s unsurprising that a combination of floating hotel, drinks with friends, dancing, Magic, other games and tropical vacation has been the best trip I have taken each year for the last 5 or so. Woooo! This post will be pretty stream-of-consciousness because maaaan I’m tired.

  • I found myself getting a little tired of Magic at points on this Cruise, but since tablets and phones are now ubiquitous, I could always get a game of Solforge or Stone Age in between drafts.
  • Martini bars are the best bars!
  • I should bring two suits next year, so that I can suit up at least twice as much. (So basically every day.)
  • Faceboat was a success! A moderate one, since the signal range was awful, but luckily the next project in the works (codename: Facebuoy) will be able to address these shortcomings.
  • I should probably take an extra day off after the cruise next year ;)

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#1: Kyoto, Japan

Japan – the perfect combination of distant, exotic and modern. It wasn’t until I started working at Wizards that I got an opportunity to visit, as part of doing event coverage for one of our big events (a Pro Tour) there. We stayed in Kyoto, which is kind of like “old” Japan in terms of history and general feel.

I had an amazing introduction to sake – our staff dinner was at a sake bottling plant where they gave us unlimited drink chilled in real bamboo shoots. I had an adventure through the suburbs – we tried to walk back from the venue and got lost in suburbs while Japanese schoolchildren pointed at us tall white foreigners and giggled. I had my first real karaoke experience, including the best Welcome to the Jungle performance I’ve ever heard, by a slender japanese woman. I saw an honest-to-goodness temple and castle, and toured through a good chunk of Japanese historical museum. And most importantly, I got to meet a huge number of extremely nice and very intelligent residents, Magic players and not.

I aim to return to Japan at least a few more times in my lifetime, and especially spend some time in the megacity of Tokyo!

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#2: Cozumel, Mexico

On the first Magic Cruise, we traveled to eastern Mexico and the beautiful port of Cozumel. I went on a bike ride with Bill and Jess from the port to a secluded beach area, where we snorkeled and then sat in the sun drinking and relaxing. It was amazing, and one of the big reasons I look forward now to this cruise each year (the other big reason is the people).

The water in Cozumel is the unbelievable shade of blue that I describe and the listener just doesn’t believe. Sure, it’s kind of an expensive tourist trap of an island, but the combination of tropical weather, super fun water adventures, relaxed and friendly people, and “small tourist town” feel is a home run for me.

If you have a chance to visit, especially as part of a leisurely trip like a cruise, do so!

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#3: Maui, Hawaii

For a long time, I gazed longingly at Hawaii on the map and envied my friends who traveled there – despite living in California, literally a hop / skip / jump away, I never had been there! Then I resolved to find a way to travel there, even if it was on my own, but luckily my family agreed to a week vacation there together a few Thanksgivings ago.

We stayed in a condo right on the beach in Maui, and ate delicious fish, sat in the sun, traveled up to the volcano to see the gorgeous heights, and generally enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. One thing that really stuck with me – as we drove our rental car from the airport to the hotel, it was extremely bright and clear, and looking out, I saw the ocean out to the horizon. Since it was so bright, there was a sharp cut at the horizon that made it look like the edge of the world. Just Hawaii and nothing else.

I would love to return and do some hiking adventures, especially on the big island. But Maui will always have a special place in my heart.

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#4: London, England

It’s funny – of the top places I’ve visited, London is the one I have the least specific memories about, but one of the strongest general “I really liked this place” feelings. I’ve been there a few times now, and I always look forward to returning. The city is enormous – it feels like a fusion of Manhattan and Seattle, scaled up a bit.

I love the Underground, the straightforward simplicity of getting from place to place. (Hilariously, this was my first real experience with public transit, so whenever I move somewhere new, I mentally compare it to the Tube and become disappointed.) The people are relatively kind to tourists, and I’m a sucker for an English accent. The city feels very old (and is!) but it also represents the height of technology and progress. Plus, just outside the central hustle and bustle is wonderful countryside/suburbs.

I’d consider living in London if an opportunity presented itself – one of the few places I’d want to live other than the good ol’ USA.

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#5: Las Vegas

This one isn’t too exotic, but it holds a lot of great memories for me and whenever I consider trips to take, Vegas is high on the list (independent of other stuff going on). My first trip to Vegas was in college (where actually, I was kidnapped with my roomie Jeremy and taken there to… have a fun weekend) and I have enjoyed taking trips there and bringing friends ever since.

I don’t actually gamble that much, nor did I drink much when I was traveling to Vegas, so what was it that was so appealing? I love the “oasis in the desert” feel, possibly because I spent my early years growing up in Phoenix. I love the staged elegance/opulence, and especially how many different kinds of “theme parky” places are next to each other. And I do enjoy staying away from home in nice hotels, which Vegas has a surplus of.

There’s also a bunch of fun touristy stuff to do, shows to see, nightlife to take part in. I recommend it, especially if you have friends to spirit away on a fun weekend vacation.

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