JC Ciesielski

JC Ciesielski (55)


GinkgopolisWhen's the last time you read the instructions of a board game and felt like you were at a feminist rally of gamers? As they picket the headquarters of a gaming company demanding equality and burning pink game pieces in effigy? When? When? When?! If your answer is more than zero, then you are probably in the 1% section of gamers and most likely have a restraining order against you. But, why does it have to be "Parker Bros," when it was the Parker sister's idea, probably? When will we get our day in the sun, ladies? As we sit in a basement or coffee shop rolling 12-sided dice, daydreaming of being wooed by Klaus Teuber or Leslie Scott, and having them create a RPG where the goal is to garner our attention and approval. It's time for a bit of recognition and kudos for being the minority in a culture saturated by mouth-breathing breeders.


TMNT SOTF 2The Secret History of the Foot Clan. Although some uninitiated to the world of TMNT may think this would be a chronicling of a fetishist hate group, there's a much easier explanation behind this tale. It's simply an origin story for the most notorious clan of ninja to ever exist, interspersed with the events that surround two vitally different groups, both intent on gaining the information this origin story has to offer.


Dungeon Command Curse of the UndeathWizards of the Coast. If you've ever rolled a 20-sided die, you know that name. Hell, the recent movie Unicorn City gave the company a nod by naming a game designing firm in the movie "Warlocks of the Beach." If you're reading this, you've already taken a step into a much larger world . . . but enough about my ego, let's talk Dungeon Command.


TMNT Secret History 1"I play right field; it's important, ya know? Ya gotta know how ta catch, ya gotta know how ta throw. That's why I play in right field, way out where the dandelions grow."

If you were a childhood Turtles fan, before you wore the tape out, you knew every word of that song from the Pizza Hut commercial before the beginning of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. You knew where to get the scrolls in the sewer of the NES game, where the Neutrinos are from, and that the Foot Clan was a bunch of hunchbacked robots wearing purple masks . . . maybe not that last part. This might be a good place for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 to lend a hand . . . or toe . . . or . . . whatever.


Doctor Who ST TNG Assimilation 8Crossover. Not just what Tangina from Poltergeist asked spirits to do when she instructed them, "Cross over, children. All are welcome. All are welcome, go into the light . . . There is peace and serenity in the light." Clear that creepiness from your minds, and let's keep it simple and go with the other definition. A crossover, for those who don't know, is when one character or group from one series somehow "crosses over" into another series. Some favorites include Steve Urkel visiting Full House, characters from both Buffy and Angel crossing over into each other's series, and my personal favorite, the many crossovers on Scooby Doo. Because anytime Mystery Inc. can get a hand from Batman and Robin, you know it's going be curtains for the baddies who would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.


Neil GaimanYou see it on television clips from the past, not so much anymore. Hordes of fans writhing to a frenzy, just to catch a glimpse of the band or performer that sets their soul ablaze. Teenage girls swooning at the sight of Elvis, screaming 'till hoarse as The Beatles exit a plane. Today's fans don't give that same impression. Many seem to be there just to get their faces on television, to extol to the masses that they were there, rather than being there. Many are desensitized to the experience, because they can access their personal lives at the click of a button. Knowing where they are, who they're with, and what they have to say on the topic of everything they care to share. Instances of overkill have become more and more frequent with the advent of technology. I myself have become immune to most events due to the nature of viewing them. Celebrity means less than the fiber content of a cereal being shilled. I haven't felt the excitement of actually being in the same room and getting to meet someone in 15 years. Having done interviews with celebrities, working with them, even eating with them has less (if any) effect on me than the time I got to meet, talk with, and shake hands with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. I still remember exactly how it happened and how that memory has stayed with me over all these years. Again, I haven't felt that twinge in the back of my neck or chill of awe and inspiration in over 15 years. Until November 14, 2012. Like the great Peter Sellers movie taught us, the most important part of life? Being There.

Baltimore the PlayImaginary babies can be fun. Not the invisible type that strange people roll around in empty strollers, but the type that are the byproduct of the game, "What if So-N-So and Wassername had a baby?" Some of my favorites include, "What if Reed Richards and Mystique had a baby?" or "What if Black Panther and Cheetarah had a baby?" or best "What if JC and Tina Fey had a baby?" They all have interesting answers. The one we're working on today is "What if Anne Rice and Edgar Allen Poe had a baby, and Matt Groening held the camcorder during delivery?" That's kind of what we're dealing with when we look at Baltimore: The Play.

Shaolin Cowboy"When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave." If Cain had a mule carrying an arsenal on its back, he'd have left that monastery a hell of a lot sooner. Such is a similar tale to that of our protagonist, except he was asked to leave. The Shaolin Cowboy is a man of few words. He leaves most of the "verbal" communication to the thoughts of his companion and mad player pimp, the mule. Shaolin Cowboy sticks to the action and intrigue.


PrainborkGather round, children, and let me tell you the tale of a bygone era. A time before orange men with names like "Pauly D" and women who get their buttocks implanted to attract a mate at "da club." This was a much simpler time, when men wore their hair long and flannels ratty. A time when women wore their hair long and their flannels ratty. It was all very androgynous, but in a sexy "we are SO different because we dress the same" kind of way.  This was a time know as the '90s.

Why, you ask, do I bring up this desolate time before smartphones and the terror of a Penn State ravaged by the beast known as Sandusky? I recall that age of enlightenment, because the two bands reviewed today may have been sucked through a wormhole and planted in our time, a time of horrible music such as (Editor, please enter the name of a current crappy top '40s band; I stopped listening to commercial radio a long time ago). Listening to these bands made me yearn for the days of old. I automatically thought of the scene in Empire Records when a young Ethan Embry is cut short on his metal thrashing by a pre-Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger. What I refer to as "the good 'ol days."

The-Perks-of-Being-a-Wallflower-movie-posterHometown boy makes good. A phrase often uttered in tales of old, emblazoned on headlines of bygone reliquaries known as the printed page. Hometown boy makes. "Good" what? Good mix tapes? Good novels and films? Good at making allusions to the bitter sweetness and ennui of high school life? Milling around this question, I come to the eventual conclusion that this is my go-to answer . . . can't it be both?

On a Thursday evening in the hamlet of Homestead, right on the corner of Pittsburgh and Inspiration, my life was changed forever. I saw a movie. Big deal you say, but what this book and subsequent film reminded me is that every moment changes every one after. Aforementioned good-making hometown boy Stephen Chbosky was on hand to welcome and thank the many in attendance for this premiere. Particularly thanking the cast and crew from Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, Chbosky had a particular shine of pride in his eyes and nostalgia in the timber of his voice. Reminiscing about growing up in Pittsburgh and the best mushroom soup ever made being only up the hill from the theater by his aunt. He went on to thank again those whose efforts made this endeavor possible. The thanks were soon returned . . .

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