Post-Nuclear Family Gift Suggestions 2013 – 9

You’re now in the final stretch. Either all of the family obligations are done, or you’re still taking care of the final bits and drabs. You’re stocking up on sugarplums, or you’re stocking up on Jack Daniel’s. Congratulations: now all you have to do is get past the rest of the winter.

Through the dreary expanses of January, it’s not enough to idly consume. Yes, a good Internet connection and a Netflix account gives you a strategic advantage over those of previous generations. Anyone old enough to remember when Christmas Eve alone meant maybe three television stations, all loaded with inspirational programming, and maybe five all-Christmas music radio stations, was the extent of entertainment options can appreciate this more than most. Now take away those, and just look out onto the cold, and it’s no surprise as to the high levels of alcohol abuse and mental illness in far northern climes. When going outside is a physical threat, staying next to the fire and singing to oneself makes a bit of sense.

Not that we get this in Texas, where the danger is being outdoors in the summer. It’s correspondingly easier to initiate some kind of social interaction, but we’re still all hit with the same basic human response of finding social interaction worth the effort. Contrary to popular opinion, Dallas is a bit more than shopping malls, and if you’re not in the mood for orchid and organic garden societies, there’s plenty to do this time of the year, depending upon your interests.

With such a range, any decent list might go on for pages, so the resultant list is a shoutout for fellow vendors and survivors of many of the preceding year’s Triffid Ranch shows and events. After all, the highest compliment I can pay them all is that they didn’t kill me when they had the chance.

Tiffany at ConDFW

To begin, one of the first fellow vendors I ever met when starting Triffid Ranch shows was Tiffany Franzoni of Roll2Play, back when the company alternated between online sales and booths at science fiction and gaming conventions. Roll2Play now has a full-time permanent locale, featuring both game sales and rentals. Even better, since there’s no point in buying a boardgame if you don’t have someone else with whom to play it, Roll2Play offers free gaming space for live demos, regular tournaments, and playtesting for new games. It also has a well-stocked snack and drink cabinet and a determination to become a local community hub: during Icepocalypse 2013, Tiffany opened the store to neighbors without power so they had power to charge cell phones and heat to thaw out during the extended blackout. Games, activities, carnivorous plant displays, good conversation…it’s worth the trip, even across the whole of Dallas proper from where we are.

Another option is to keep an eye on the Keith’s Comics Web site for new events. I’m proud to have known owner Keith Colvin for twenty years now, and there’s a lot to be said about his chain of comic shops running through the Metroplex. However, Keith also understands the meaning of community, so he regularly sponsors movie screenings and other events throughout the year. Among others, Keith also arranges mass screenings of television show season premieres at the Angelika Film Center Dallas, so if you’re not in the mood to watch something by yourself, it’s worth the time to come out to a free showing with about 300 or so other fans.

Manager at Rockwall Half Price Books

Finally, I’ve been lucky enough to be a vendor at several shows alongside crews from Half Price Books, and it’s been interesting watching as Half Price evolves along with the publishing industry. Dallas is now bereft of independent bookstores selling new books, Borders has been gone for two years, and Barnes & Noble isn’t long for this world, so Half Price is moving into new book signings and events. While the Triffid Ranch is taking a hiatus from sales, I’ve been given a standing invitation for a presentation and lecture at the Half Price flagship store, and that’s on top of HPB’s regular events in that space. Details will follow as i get them.

More to follow…

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