My life has been a little chaotic lately. It has been troubled and disturbed, like a pool of water with a dragonfly skimming over it as it darts back and forth. It is the same life, but it has a new surface. We have been told to get back to normal, and to deal with problems as they arise. We can’t live in crisis mode forever. But on the other hand, sometimes you just need to circle the wagons and wait out the storm for slightly longer than necessary, just to be sure.
This past weekend was the third annual Nerdstock, three days of gaming in the mountains of Windsor with a dozen or so nerds. It is something I greatly look forward to every year, but this time it seemed absurd for me to leave my family for a weekend of fun. It seemed selfish and inappropriate. It seemed wrong. And yet, as my wife pointed out to me, I was going crazy to the point of annoyance. I needed a break. I was not going to make it through the next bit of life without a recharge. So I went for part of it, and felt guilty the whole time.
This year the relaxed, loosely scheduled Commander-in-Chief Cave Dane ceded much of his authority to the Emperor Palpatine of rule and order, Lascallex Trebek. Lascallex provided each of the attendees with a printed program that included headshots and bios for each nerd there, as well as a detailed, by-the-minute schedule of what games were to be played when. Large sheets of paper with tournament brackets covered the walls of the rented cabin, and to avoid any of last year’s lax attitudes on “playing fair,” Lascallex kept the only sharpie in his pocket. There would be no chicanery if he had anything to say about it. Poor Cousin Ike Mayberry was almost contained completely.
By the time I arrived, 4 out of the 6 slots in the board game bracket had been filled, so I only had two chances to break in to the championship game of Power Grid. I did not succeed at those chances, but I had fun playing some Dominion and Medici anyway. There was a 96-hour cornhole tournament (that’s an exaggeration, it was probably much longer than that), and a pool tournament played on a table that looked like it had seen some action (and not of the billiards variety). We also had a few custom made games, especially for the event.
The centerpiece game was our own version of Jeopardy, with an actual board projected onto the wall and buzzers in our eager hands. Lascallex Trebek gave us the answers, and we answered the questions, with such categories as “Shakesperian Country Songs” and “Time Travel Movies.” Our team gave it a good shot, but it is hard to beat Sleeve McZed at any sort of trivia and his team pulled it out in the end. Ah well, at least it was awesome.
We also ran an expanded game of “Say Anything,” put together by Jeeves Soakem. “Say Anything” is a game in which you ask one person a question, and then everybody else has to answer it for them, hoping to provide the answer that will be picked as the best or funniest. Jeeves custom wrote questions for each of us, and it was from this game that we created Coke’s new slogan (Healthier than a Hotdog!) and the best Star Wars sexual position (The Tauntaun Sleeping Bag).
I didn’t win any of the belts (yes, this year there were actual giant WWE-style belts), but I did have a lot of fun, and even managed to stop obsessing over the weight of life’s problems a couple of times. After I left there was more fun to be had, including some sort of huge all-sports draft, but I would be terrible at that, so it’s okay. I came home, still exhausted, but happy to have taken a break. But did all nerds have as much fun as the other years? Well, you’d have to ask each participant about that individually, but I can tell you with some certainty that, if nothing else, the games ran on time.