Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Joys of Getting Outside

It's been a beautiful few days here in the Cities; the sort of weather that you imagine is reserved for folks in California or Florida, and the sort of weather you pine for when old snow cakes the ground and the wind is bitter and pitiless. So I took off work a bit early to get out in it and roam about the city.

My first stop was Phoenix Games. There was a sign up advertising the store's 19th anniversary, which is a long time for a game/hobby store to be open anywhere. There's always something cool at Phoenix every time I go, and it was with a particularly strong sense of self-control (and awareness of my budget) that I limited myself to a few minis purchases and the current issue of Knights of the Dinner Table. I ended up reading through KoDT twice while riding the bus to my other stops for the day.

(As an aside, let me say that one of my favorite concatenation of subcultures that the urban lifestyle makes possible exists right here between Bryant and Aldritch Avenues along Lake Street in South Minneapolis, because right next to Phoenix Games, the gamer-geek and modeler's mecca, is a clothing store called Venus that caters mostly to strippers. In addition, Venus occupies the space that, until a few years ago, Phoenix itself used to occupy. I don't know that the two subcultures really mix all that much, though my heart of hearts imagines an open-minded stripper wandering into Phoenix Games out of curiosity one day, getting turned on to D&D, Battletech, and such, and becoming the Geek Goddess of the Twin Cities.)

My second stop was the Monster Den, where I picked up a few more minis in anticipation of this coming Sunday's tournament. The Monster Den isn't all that far from my apartment, and it's the host for most of the D&D minis tournaments I've been able to make in the past year. Unlike Phoenix, which caters mostly to the modeling and table-top gaming market, the Monster Den is primarily involved in Magic: the Gathering and collectible games (the D&D minis game is thus a happy cross-over). The Den also has a series of networked X-box consoles for rent; while I was paying for my minis purchases, a young fellow successfully traded a Magic card (I assume it was a rare of some sort) for two hours of time on the consoles. I then left, figuring to take one last set of busses to get home.

Instead, the bus I ended up riding was a route that ended well before my stop, so I spent some time wandering around in a corner shop called Mike's, the sort of place that still offers video rentals because the neighborhood is too gentrified for a company like Blockbuster to easily acquire property and move in. They had a DVD 'sale bin', and while browsing it largely out of curiosity, I discovered a DVD that, despite my normal reticence in DVD-buying, I ended up purchasing immediately.

I should explain that. I have friends who purchase DVDs as if they were frozen dinners; when a movie comes out that they like, that they might conceivably want to see again, they buy the DVD as soon as it comes out in either a cool format (for titles like 'Lord of the Rings') or an affordable one (for the majority of others). As such, they've got bookshelves filled with DVD cases, many of which are movies that they like, but aren't all that excited to watch at any given moment. (One friend and his wife have a habit that, when a movie they like is broadcast on TV, they pop in their DVD version and watch it instead, in order to avoid the commercials. It's a amusing if fairly harmless quirk.)

I, on the other hand, being the sort of guy who moves around a lot, try to avoid collecting huge numbers of items simply for the alleged joy of owning them - when you have to move a gigantic DVD collection, it's not nearly as enjoyable, believe me. An additional advantage of owning so few DVDs is that, if someone happens to be looking at my collection and asks to watch one of the movies there, I'll almost always say, 'Sure." Because I've been so persnickety when choosing DVDs to 'own', I can count the DVDs I actually own on the fingers of both hands: the Lord of the Rings trilogy; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; the A&E miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice; About A Boy; Spanglish; The Princess Bride; and a little-known indie film called The Gamers.

Oh, and the newest addition to the collection: Sky High.

It's a movie that came out with very little fanfare, but that in my opinion sincerely belongs in the pantheon of great turn-of-the-century superhero movies like Spider-Man and the first X-Men movie. If you haven't seen it, I heartily recommend it. If you can't quite trust my recommendation, here's one from Pete Vonder Haar for, one of my own favorite critics. (If you still don't trust my recommendation, then check out the reviews available on Rotten Tomatoes and find a name you do trust.)

Now if you'll excuse me, the sun's going down, and I've got a movie to watch.

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