PLAYERS GONNA PLAY: Viking Bravery and ‘The Champions of Midgard’


When it comes to knowledge of Scandinavia, I sadly glean most facts from my Ikea cookbook, the Thor franchise, and occasional episodes of The Amazing Race. Oh, and my friend Diana. She’s from Sweden.

Nevertheless, one thing I definitely do know about Northern Europe is that Vikings used to sail its shores, paving the way for a cultural legacy that includes the Bjursta extendable table, the Nobel prize, and now The Champions of Midgard, a brand new board game from Grey Fox Games.

What glories lie in this game’s cardboard box? Answers after the jump…

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New Episode of Banter Blender is Up!

Sorry folks, I really do want to get these episodes up more regularly again, but I’m happy to report we’ve made up for lost time with this latest installment of The Banter Blender. We touch on all the important stuff: reality stars downstairs, Lamar Odom, oversized sandwiches, Adele, my new board game, and candy. Lots of talk about candy. We get into it, people. Come listen, and if you like it, share it with your friends!

Special guests Angie Thomas and David Clark, co-hosts of the Deep Thots podcast!

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If there’s any cuisine I’m totally obsessed with, it’s probably Korean. On any given night I’m pestering my friends to grab some grub in Koreatown — or K-Town (not to be confused with my hometown of Katonah, NY, also known as K-Town amongst the local ruffians). Whether it’s BBQ or tofu or grilled clams or hot pot or raw crabs or fatty bossam or refreshing hwe dup bap, I want it all, and I generally want it every meal.

This does not happen.

I do have some enablers — my friend Sly is almost always good for a trip to our favorite K-Town eateries (Soowon Galbi, A-Won, or even Hodori) — but mostly, I spend a lot of time pining. Luckily, has direct access to my brain and happily suggested I “treat myself to a little something,” and in this case, it was a cookbook by Korean cook cum Youtube star Maangchi. The collection of recipes certainly looked interesting… and the reviews were stellar… and I hadn’t purchased a Korean cookbook in years… and… well, you know where this is headed.

After some hemming and hawing, I bought the book, visited the Korean grocer, and soon found myself knee-deep in Korean madness. Pics of what I made and some thoughts on the final product after the jump…

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Making Life Easier in ‘La Granja’


Last week I casually ranked all the board games in my collection, with one of my favorites being La Granja. It’s about farming in Majorca (finally, something to fill that gaming void), and one of the central mechanics has players sliding cards under a cardboard “farm” to spectacular effect. Well, unfortunately, all this pushing and sliding often causes the farmstead to shift around, causing chaos amongst the carefully placed cards. To that I say NO MORE! I’ve come up with a $2 fix, which should help all us OCD types press on in the quest of pastoral dominance.

The Earth-shattering solution after the jump…

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A Bunch of Board Games You Should Play


A year ago, my friend and former blog partner Joe (a.k.a. J-Unit) had a bachelor party up in Lake Tahoe. It was a pretty fun bro weekend full of beer pong, barbecuing, and a forest fire (unrelated to the barbecuing). With the area full of smoke, we spent a lot of time indoors, and thankfully our friend Isaac had brought a game. Specifically, Settlers of Catan. It was the first time I had even heard of this cultural phenomenon, and I can assure you that after my first play, my life was changed — CHANGED, I TELL YOU. Catan blew my mind, and being that I’m a curious type, I spent the next several weeks devouring any sort of media about it that I could find (videos, articles, performance art, anything). I soon discovered that Settlers of Catan was only the tip of the gaming iceberg. There were many, many, many more modern board games out in the world, and they were a far cry from the roll-and-move games of our youth.

A year later, I’ve slid down the rabbit hole and found myself fully obsessed with modern board games. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise: I’ve been a video game fanatic for years; so board games are a logical next step in my playtime activities. Nevertheless, one of my great weaknesses is forcing my obsessions onto innocent bystanders, and subsequently, I now talk everyone’s ear off about tabletop gaming, often hijacking my podcasts to extol the virtues of Catan or Dead of Winter.

The response has actually been pretty cool. I receive several Tweets and messages asking for recommendations, and who am I to deny ANYONE my thoughtful opinion? I’m not a monster, after all. I AM AN INFLUENCER, DAMMIT. (Somewhere there is a Klout score to verify this, as well as several free shaving kits, some Hulu vouchers, and an Audi).

That being said, after the jump, check out an unsolicited tour of my gaming collection. Hopefully you’ll find something in there that will inspire you to either dive into the hobby or expand your collection. At the very least, it’s a fun way to pass five minutes on the Internet.

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Advanced Studies in Creamistry


Fans of this blog may remember my ice cream phase from 2011. This was a gloriously unhealthy period kicked off by the purchase of an ice cream maker and the cookbook The Perfect Scoop. Readers at the time told me that an ice cream maker would just sit on my shelf and collect dust, but they were wrong. It was put to major use for six months and THEN relegated to the shelf to collect dust. i stopped because I was being way too unhealthy, but oh, the memories from that time are vivid and wondrous. I learned so much over those months. For instance, did you know that ice cream is quite possibly the worst thing you could ever put into your body? Of course you did. Watching the cups of cream, then sugar, then egg yolks go into the batter is nothing short of a shameful experience, but you know, it’s what needs to be done. But I digress.

Back to the learning part. As a one-time ice cream expert, I learned about the freezing process. Sugar content, for instance, is a key component. Too much sugar, and the ice cream will melt almost instantaneously. Too little, and it will be hard and crystalline. (Don’t quote me on that: I could possibly have the sugar situation reversed). Oh, and freezing that ice cream? It’s a whole process. First you have to freeze a special cylinder for at least 24 hours; then you have to chill the ice cream batter overnight, and then, only then can the ice cream churning begin. The point is that making ice cream is a long, unhealthy process (but oh so delicious).

This is where Creamistry, a new Beverly Hills ice cream shop, comes into play. Gone are the vats of batter, quietly chilling in the fridge. Instead, Creamistry offers customizable ice creams from scratch, made in seconds via liquid nitrogen. But is it actually any good? Keep reading to find out…

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BANTER BLENDER #111: Bagels, Hollywood, and The Game of Fiasco

Last week, my friend Jessica Ogilvie ( joined me on The Banter Blender for some good old fashioned banter. As usual, the topics spanned a large variety of topics, starting with another lengthy dissertation on bagels: how we like our cream cheese, how we feel about the word “shmear,” and other important observations from our Northeastern Jewish perspectives.

Eventually, we move on to Hollywood where Jessica tells us about a cover story she wrote for “LA Weekly” a few weeks ago about women in Hollywood. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the gender inequality that plagues the film industry.

Finally, we discuss a recent playthrough of the role-playing game “Fiasco” by Jason Morningstar. Yes, role-playing. But this isn’t some retread of “Dungeons & Dragons.” It was our first time ever tackling an RPG, and not only was it one of the funniest nights we’ve had in recent memory, we can’t wait to do it all again. Definitely tune in to hear about this experience.

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Casper Mattress: Unfurling The Dream!


Back in 2002, I stepped into the hallowed halls of a certain mattress retailer named Sit ‘n’ Sleep. It was time for me to graduate from the janky futon I had been sleeping on for the past year and learn what it meant to be an adult. Or at least, a young adult. I was a year out of college, and I was growing up.

That was the first time I had ever purchased a mattress, and I didn’t even know what I was looking for. Did I want something firm? Soft? What did my back need? As far as I could tell, I’d never met a bed I didn’t like. I could sleep on cots, futons, air mattresses, whatever. Just give me something springy with some blankets. Well, I walked out of that Sit ‘n’ Sleep with a $400 queen that seemed to promise a lifetime of beautiful slumber and unwavering happiness.

That never happened.

To my dismay, I discovered that I had purchased a miserable mattress that was entirely too firm for my delicate body. I hated the thing almost immediately, but for some reason I held out hope that I just needed to “break it in.” All I needed was some determination and grit!

Fast forward to summer 2015, and here I was, a 36-year-old man still sleeping on his Fisher-Price My First Mattress™. It had been thirteen years since I had welcomed this dreadful beast into my life, and never did it EVER break in. It would not be broken! The only thing broken was my spirit. Something needed to be done.

And then I learned about Casper Mattresses.

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Destroyed by ‘LA Times THE TASTE’ – In The Best Possible Way


Welp, it’s Friday, and I’ve finally emerged from a six day food coma that would make Rip Van Winkle look like an insomniac. Sure, I’ve been technically “awake” and “interacting” with people, but I think we can all agree that food coma is sometimes a state of mind — one often brought on by a never ending stream of culinary indulgences. It took days for me to no longer carry the guilt and lethargy that came from my recent pig-out at this year’s Los Angeles Times THE TASTE (one of the most awkwardly titled food festivals on the books). I dropped by this food extravaganza over Labor Day weekend and put my media comped pass to good use.

After the jump, see some pics of the bites, nibbles, and general decadence that I partook in.

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The Taste Is Coming! The Taste Is Coming!


Every year The Los Angeles Times hosts the glorious food festival known as Los Angeles Times The Taste, and for the past three summers in a row, I’ve been ever so fortunate to snag an invitation to the newspaper’s test kitchen where massively influential food bloggers — nay, WRITERS — get to preview some of the bites at the upcoming event. For the organizers, it’s a great way to get word out. For the writers, it’s a perfect chance to stuff our faces like a bunch of malnourished baboons. We all win!

In an effort to fend off my innate pear-shaped physique, I tried to show some sort of restraint during this week’s preview, but unfortunately, I tend to get Requiem For A Dream eyeballs around food; so it was basically a lost cause. Check out some pics of me pigging out after the jump…

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