Chris and Mike briefly catch-up during the early minutes of the episode this week, and (2:00) Mike talks about his efforts to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention around the one-year anniversary of his brother's suicide. The hosts turn to (6:00) the demise of Toys R' Us, and talk about their memories of the store over the years. They explore (14:00) why the store failed, and lament (18:00) that they will not be able to take their kids through the store. A long discussion (28:00) starts about how Chris and Mike played with various lines of action figures over the years including G.I. Joe, Transformers, M.A.S.K., and He-Man. We celebrate the decades spent in Toys R' Us, and wonder what might come along that could replace that feeling of walking into a HUGE store of so many toys.
We return after another hiatus to talk about Father's Day and discuss the challenges of handling open-world games like Fallout 4 (6:00). Mike talks about his roadblocks in Horizon Zero Dawn while Chris laments his long history of leaving games like Grand Theft Auto unfinished (9:00). The hosts share tales of getting owned in Fortnite (17:00), and briefly provide some background on the State of the Pod (27:00). Mike details how he had to use Dungeons & Dragons to sweet talk an internet technician (30:00), and Chris looks for a reaction about the Chris Hardwick news (34:00). A long conversation about privilege and fandom ensues (49:00) including the limitations of online communication (52:00). We discuss how the current political climate overlaps with recent developments in fandom, and explore how responsibile we are as consumers of the same nerd/geek ecosystem.
The hosts catch up after taking a two-week break from recording the show. Michael talks openly about his brother's suicide last year, and describes how he is contacting family and friends to gather stories about his brother's life. At the 15-minute mark, the conversation turns to the new album by Jack White. The hosts express their confusion about the album, and ponder the motivations of Jack White for making it. A long discussion about fandom's relationship with art and artists ensues, and touches on numerous other performers.
The hosts talk about recent games they have returned to playing - Magic: The Gathering for Chris, and XCOM for Michael. The hosts explore how stress produced by a game relates to their level of engagement and enjoyment. At the 14-minute mark, the conversation turns to Ready Player One, and stays there for most of the episode. The hosts express their original reactions to reading the book years ago, and detail the growing backlash about the author and elements of the book. The hosts talk openly about being two privileged, White, straight, cis-gendered men, and how that creates blind spots. Other questions are posed during the episode. Can you enjoy a piece of art while disliking the artist? Can you listen to a song by Ted Nugent or John Lennon, and block out the problematic believes those men held? The show closes with another installment of What's On Chris' Turntable - and this week it's St. Vincent.
Michael talks about his excitement (and sleep deprivation) that resulted from the Olympic gold won by the Men's Curling Team. The hosts discuss how Michael's tabletop roleplaying game charactes seems to draw Chris' ire, including his most recent creation - a human Bard named "The Stone." A major topic for the show is the delightful combination of breweries and tabletop games, and the hosts explore how fans of games and beer can get the most out of this combination. Another installment of What's on Chris' Turntable? concludes the show with a review of The Grateful Dead.
Michael talks about completing Battle Chef Brigade, and the perils of getting stuck on a final boss and trying to watch endgame credits in a timely manner. Chris talks about recent success in the Eternal card game, and transitions into a conversation about the unbannings in Magic: The Gathering. Michael explains how he is focused on building a character for a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and decide that combining elements of D&D and MtG would result in a wonderful gaming experience. Chris speaks about growing up in the South in a culture of gun ownership, and Michael talks about the death of his father to a firearm, which is the foundation for strong beliefs about gun control. The discussion about guns in our culture starts around the 25-minute mark and lasts for some time. It is an important topic, and the hosts believe everyone should be open to communication about the subject - and take action like the survivors in Florida. The show concludes with another installment of Be Kind, Rewind!
Chris and Mike talk about Super Bowl week in Minneapolis, and delve into the haftime show of one Justin Timberlake. Mike grew up in South Jersey, so he offers some commentary on the mentality and behavior of Philadelphia fans - how it can be horrific, completely inappropriate, yet celebrated. The hosts talk about their passion for sports, and how that has mellowed with age, and then transition into how nerd fandom also shares some characteristics with irrational sports' fan behavior. They ponder the new trailer for Solo, and explore the vastly different reactions to the casting choices for Han and Lando. This week's show is closed with some suggestions for television shows - Atlanta and Alterd Carbon.
The hosts talk about recent explots with video games; Chris talks about reaching an achievement in the digital card game, Eternal, and Michael relays his excitment about a new game, Battle Chef Brigade, which he describes as a strange alchemy of Dr. Mario, Shinobi, and American Idol with roleplaying game elements. Chris presents his tradition with friends of setting aside a night once in awhile to watch bad movies; he highlights specific bad movies and talks about the allure of dissecting the films. The show concludes with a new edition of What's On Chris' Turntable?
We talk briefly about the euphoric high that surrounded Minnesota after the Vikings miracle win in the playoffs, then quickly transition to talking about the Hearthstone Tour Championship in Amsterdam. Michael questions Chris about his experience with Magic: The Gathering tournaments, and seeks out advice to process emotions after watching the championship match. We talk about balancing hobbies with family commitments, as Michael admits that he was streaming the championship match while feeding his son, talking to his wife, and walking his dog. Chris talks about the perils of trying to get his son into some classic videogames, and we agree that games designed to be difficult for difficulty's sake is not our preference any longer. Yes, Michael spoke poorly of Dark Souls II; you've been warned! We also sneak in our selections for Track of the Week.
Chris and Michael offer vague commentary on their long hiatus from Childhood Ruined, and then shift into reviewing the holidays. Chris talks about a gift he puchased for his son - a collection of 999 classic arcade games that can be played through his television at home. We talk about how some vintage games are best left as memories! We then turn our attention to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Please avoid our conversation unless you have already seen the film, as we talk about multiple spoilers. I review some of my thoughts on how The Last Jedi challenged my expectations for the Star Wars Universe, and Chris discusses how he enjoyed the film as a piece of entertainment - and is fine not trying to dissect it any further.