EscapeMSP

The party prepares to enter…

My old friend Dave married his sweetheart Rachel on Saturday, hosting their wildly successful  wedding (including a beer drinking ceremony) at the Science Museum of Minnesota. What great environs for a wedding party! The tastefully nerdy event, complete with a dinosaur theme and Star Wars music made the museum an awesome venue for the happy day.

As the best man, it was up to me to prepare something fun for the bachelor party in February. After hearing hushed tales of the challenge and excitement by other local delvers into secrets, the groomsmen and I planned the perfect outing for the guy who tormented us through many hilariously entertaining sessions of the Tomb of Horrors back in the day. We donned our Hawaiian shirts, a nod to Dave’s trademark convention uniform, and secretly charted a go at our local room escape adventure, EscapeMSP. A “real life room escape game,” EscapeMSP is among the first places offering this fun new puzzle in the Twin Cities. Within an hour, you and your team must escape the diabolical plot set up for you by solving tough puzzles and searching for clues. This makes it a great place for groups of people with a flair for the dramatic and a desire to experience some hands on adventure.

After a celebratory round of beers at St. Paul’s wonderful Flat Earth Brewery, which Dave favored even before moving to St. Paul four years ago, we drove out into the uncharted suburbs just west of Minneapolis. After a final swig of Tomatin whisky to aid our courage and wit, we found our way to a nondescript office park, where the challenge awaited us. Behind the unassuming door of an everyday office suite, we discovered a large room furnished with a massive boardroom table, from which we signed our waivers and received our mission. EscapeMSP offers several different mission themes (including one they added within the last month) – we chose the James Bomb room. Dropped into the roles of M15 agents tasked with deactivating a bomb, we joined a few other adventure seekers and entered an adjacent room to see if we had what it took to beat the puzzle. As soon as the handcuffs came out, I think we knew things had gotten serious…

It was quite the struggle! In the end, we came so close to defusing the bomb, failing to discover only one vital clue! Next time, next time! Finishing off the evening with several more stops for food, drink, and merriment, in the end, the stag night was quite a success and I think we’ll be accompanying Dave on another go at escaping the room in the not too distant future!

 

 

 

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Snow and Comedy!

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Lake Minnetonka

Well, it is the first week of January, 2016, and I’ve already had some pretty awesome adventures so far! With a new and luxurious layer of snow, and some chilly temperatures, this Sunday I was able to go on a little morning cross country skiing tour on Lake Minnetonka with my sister, a relaxing and scenic way to begin the day. The lake has frozen and the snow is deep, the ice silent except for the wind. It is hard to believe that we went kayaking on these exact same waters only six weeks ago or so! It didn’t seem like winter was ever going to come, but come it has, and I am happy for it!

Under the guidance of my girlfriend, Lindsay, I’ve been checking out some more of the vibrant stand up comedy scene here in the Twin Cities. While I’ve written about my favorites in Improv at the Huge Theater, I have had less experience with the comedy scene here. On Sunday, on Lindsay’s invitation, we checked out the hilarious Boy Kisses Comedy Showcase at Universe Games on Lake Street, which has been going on for a little more than a year now, every Sunday at 7:30, all for free! What I great way to wind down a weekend!

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Boy Kisses!

Hosted by comedians Turner Barrowman and Collin Klug, this was a really fun show, one that shows a lot of signs of being a great incubator for funny people in the Twin Cities, especially with its low cost of entry (free!). So go see it while there is still room to sit! Universe Games is a cozy little game store and coffee shop that really seems to be a nice fixture in the LynLake neighborhood, dispensing games of the board, collectible card, and roleplaying type as well as coffee and tea, and crammed full of people waiting to watch some of the Twin Cities funniest people riff on a shared topic, it is great.This Sunday, the theme was the always hilarious Astrology, which led to some pretty funny (and dark) places. While Universe Games has plenty of stuff to buy for the kids (and kidults) in your life, and candy was passed out during the course of the show, it might be better idea to leave ‘em at home Sunday nights! Well, the kids, anyway, if not the kidults. It makes a great (and cheap) night out and I’m looking forward to stopping in with Lindsay on another Sunday soon!

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Crowd waiting for Jackie Kashian, January 6th, 2016

Yesterday, we saw some more great comedy at the Acme Comedy Club, among the foremost venues for stand up comedy in the country, a well deserved distinction. Tucked away in an old warehouse in the North Loop, it is a pretty atmospheric place for comedy. The North Loop, by the way, has recently been listed as one of the top 25 vacation destinations in the world by Fodors, so I am definitely hoping to spend more time here this year and the Acme is definitely one of the venues that strengthens this somewhat amusing distinction. I had been there once before, so I relished the opportunity to return with Lindsay and see some super funny stand up.

This week, the super funny Wisconsinite Jackie Kashian is in town, with her deliciously nerdy stand up, complete with great video game references and some awesome awkward childhood stories. After a few local stalwarts, the Los Angeles based comedian captivated the audience, discussing everything from depressing casinos to her penchant for treacly romance novels. I will definitely check out her podcast, Dork Forest.

You should definitely see her this week, she’s in town at the Acme until Saturday!

Universe Games, 711 W Lake St

Acme Comedy Club,  708 1st St N

Local RPG Flavor Promotion: Fantasy Renaissance Adventure Modules from Cut to the Chase Games

The last couple days have been wet, moody previews of what is to come in the next couple months as we transition into the long winter season here in Minnesota. Perfect times to grab some hot tea or coffee, a good book, and get comfortable indoors.

Perhaps that’s why the Twin Cities are such a hot bed of nerdy pursuits, as well. I keep meaning to write about some of the history of board games, RPGs, and other weird geek stuff in the area, which go back decades. I can definitely cop to enjoying quite a bit of time in the dead of winter or the dog days of summer, passing the time with a game of D&D in a cozy library or cool basement. When things weren’t happening outside, you could always go on adventures inside. Of course, my memories of the pen and paper role playing games don’t go as far as many people. Is there something about the weather in the Upper Midwest that lends itself to this? I’ll definitely devote more time to this on a later post.

So, in the meantime, feel free to check out what my friend, Weird Dave, who appeared in the last entry, is working on with his company Cut to the Chase Games. He just launched his Fantasy Renaissance Adventure module series for 5th edition on Kickstarter, the latest iteration of D&D, and a variety of other fantasy rpg systems. These adventure scenarios for “low-level” characters (great for beginners) are geared to recapture that nostalgic, cozy feeling, though with a nice, modern kick in my opinion; much fun was had during the playtesting, fun that really did recapture those feelings of exploration and adventure back in the day. I think at least three gnomes died in the course of the first scenario, and one or two humans, but in the end victory was ours!

Yep, promotion, promotion. Judging by the number of “likes” I get, this is a-okay on WordPress! Maybe even toss a few gold pieces his way too. Get it before it appears in the local game shops! Of course, I had been hesitant to join Kickstarter, as it could prove just too much a temptation to dig into- I’m now considering signing on to back three other projects!