Sneaky Cards – A Tom Kida Vlog Series Episode 2

This month I challenged myself by stepping further out of my comfort zone with Gamewrite’s Sneaky Cards. I headed to New York City with my brother, Nick Kida, to complete this month’s set of cards. While the weather wasn’t the greatest, the day sure was.

**Not a Sponsored video** I like this game, the challenges it brings, and the conversations it forces me to have with people I would have normally walked passed.

Want to feel like part of the action? Check out the merch:

Www.teespring.com/TomKida

Music: Epidemic Sound https://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreEpidemicSound

Follow the journey:

Twitter – @mrthomaskida

SnapChat – mrthomaskida

#SneakySneaky

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Kevin Smith Hospitalized After Life-Threatening Heart Attack?

No pictures this time. Just a story. Please share it, I’m hoping he reads this. A long shot, I know. But this comes from the heart, so I hope. In the absolute least, I’m going to rile up an argument about Central Jersey…that’s always fun.

In case you haven’t heard, this weekend after a successful return to stand-up, Kevin Smith was hospitalized with what has been described as a massive, life-threatening heart attack.

Weird thing is, I had been revisiting his films this entire past week and reminiscing about the impact he has had on not only my life, but the lives of so many of us in the nerd/geek community.

Here is a man who came from a small town in the often condemned as non-existent “Central Jersey”, more specifically, the Atlantic Highlands. As a Jersey fella myself, his success had an extra strong impact because here’s a fellow blue collar kid, only a little older than me, but no less the nerd, who took a chance and made a movie that not only he, but no one else thought would become anything huge. He originally killed off the main character! But still he went on and built one of the most beloved worlds in all of cinema at a time when universe-building in movies really was not a thing that was done without having a 2, 3, or 4 following your film’s title.

One of the regulars came in to my video store in 1994 and started telling me about this indie movie he’d just seen at a theater in Hoboken that he swore was “about me”. He continued that it was this black & white film about a convenience store clerk and his video store friend and it had the funniest dialog he had ever heard. It made him think of  me going on and on about movies to my customers at the store. Of course I had to see it. Immediately.

So I did. The very next day, I called my assistant manager, said I needed the day off. He wasn’t even supposed to be there that day… I grabbed the train at Plauderville Station (before the fancy upgrade). Four stops to Hoboken. Picked up the requisite slice at that place on Newark Street where it meets Court St which is really just a creepy freakin’ alleyway…. Then I hit the theater and bought my ticket for the next showing of little movie called Clerks.

My life changed for the better because of Kevin Smith.

Since then, because not only did he stay in Jerz for a little while longer, but also made his presence well known by opening up a comic book store right in the Highlands area, thus bringing him straight down to our level. He was real he was approachable. We now had one of ours making movies about us for us. The weirdos, stoners, geeks, fruitcakes and dweebs had a new leader. It started small, Shelley. Then Verne, Wells, Lovecraft, Heinlein, Asimov, Roddenberry, Gygax, Lucas, and now, the new king of the weirdos and their ilk….Smith. And since then, Kevin Smith has never led us astray. He’s been a good king, a benevolent demi-god of abject nerdery. After the movies, he started his website forums, another way to engage with a man we’d come to idolize, but who never balked at us in a way the many that famous would. Yes, at first, he was a bit sensitive. But this was the early internet days. We hadn’t yet gotten used to or even had used the word, “trolls”. But, he persevered. He then created one of the original and best podcast networks on the web….and half of the shows are his!

It was around 1998 or ’99, that I was working at Suncoast Video in the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ.

Still a clerk.

One night, during an otherwise particularly dull and quiet evening, myself and one of the part-timers were just dusting, talking, and generally trying to kill time until shifts end. A fella walks and says that he had heard we were the dumping grounds of all the chain’s laser discs. Which was true. Laser discs had gone the way of the VHS. DVD was now king, but Kevin Smith didn’t want to hear any of that, so he came into my store to load up on his favorite format.
So, knowing I had a fellow film-buff in front of me, I went and did my best customer service and chatted with the man. But here’s the thing. I had NO IDEA who I was talking to at the time. None. Zero.
I was clueless.
The conversation was great and we went all over the place. We talked about Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Terminator, Godzilla, Terms of Endearment, Cocoon…this man loved movies as much as I did. I wanted to be his best friend so we could talk about movies like this forever. Aside from that, he has a few bags full of Harley Quinn 12″ figures. He’d come to buy up the stock of the KB Toys in the mall. I was bro crushing, big time. So, after about 20-30 minutes, his then pregnant wife was seeming a little perturbed with me distracting him, so we wrapped it up. As I was ringing him up, I checked the name on his card, as you do, and, as I considered this guy my new bff, busted his chops with , “Oooo…look at Mr. Moneybags” here buying over a hundred dollars worth of clearance priced laser discs, I saw the name, “Kevin Smith”. I asked him if he gets a lot of people ribbing him about that, if he liked those movies, etc, to which he replied with a sort of , “Heh, they’re okay I guess”. I bagged his stuff, shook his hand and thanked him for the awesome conversation, he laughed, waved goodbye, and walked out.

At that moment, a metric and imperial fuck ton of bricks stomped on my face at warp six. I’m an idiot and just spent time talking to one of my heroes, made small talk about his achievements and everything about him to his face and DIDN’T REALIZE IT WAS HIM!?!?!?

I didn’t care if I got fired. “Kailey, watch the store for 5 minutes!! I’ll be right back!”

I ran out, down the stairs, just past the food court, “Mr. Smith!” he stopped and turned around, “What’s up? Did I forget somethin’?” I took a deep breath, “I’m an idiot and didn’t realize that you were you and I was gushing about you to you and I’m embarrassed and I wanted to say “I’m Sorry”, but also thank you. Thank you for what you gave me. A fun, irreverent voice that makes me laugh when I need it. You helped me make a lot of friends and reignited my dream to work in film no matter how. To just do it. I want to thank you for that and sorry if this is all weird, but I’ll probably never have the chance again.”

I’ll never forget that. I’ll never forget right  after when he just smiled and said a bit awkwardly, “Thanks man. That’s really sweet. I don’t think my goofy movies are all THAT, but thank you.” He shook my hand again, and that was it. I was always taught, “Never meet your heroes.” but thanks to him, I learned that’s not true.

Kevin Smith is an amazing human being. He continues to entertain us and speak in our language. He’s respectful to us. He’s a loving husband, a doting father, and a fearless leader….and we almost lost him.

That being said, the other night I tried watching the David Bowie documentary, Five Years and it got me thinking again about how eulogies should be for the living. As a Gen-Xer, so many of my heroes are dropping like flies lately. With social media the beast it has become it’s en vogue to write long diatribes about the people we admired so much after they’d passed and couldn’t be an audience to it. It strikes me as really sad. I’m the kind of guy who likes to tell my friends I love them just because I do and they should always know it now. While it’s important.

Kevin Patrick Smith, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say, “I love you” and I’m glad you’re still here.

Thanks man,
Christopher Lee Mannix

It’s AUTOMA…..er, HEWLOGRAM!!

If you’ve been a fan of science fiction television and movies for a bit, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with actor David Hewlett. He’s best known as the snarky, take-in-small-doses Doctor Rodney McKay who was featured as a recurring character in SG-1 only to be promoted to a regular in my personal favorite entry in the franchise, Stargate: Atlantis, but you may also know him from Rise of the Planet of the ApesDark Matter, the amazing cult classics Cube and Pin (so creepy), and most recently in the Golden Globe winning, Academy Award nominated (SO MANY NOMINATIONS!! Congrats Guillermo!!), The Shape of Water.

What you may not know about this British-born, Canadian-raised actor is Continue reading

Sneaky Cards – A Tom Kida Vlog Series

For Christmas, I received a most interesting present from my brother-in-law: Sneaky Cards by Gamewright. The premise is to find and meet new people, go to new places, and spread fun and joy through the use of trackable cards. The Sneaky Cards have a tracking ID that, when a holder creates a profile, logs where the card has been (think of those ‘Where’s George’ stamped dollar bills you’ve seen, only this is actually fun).

While I am one who loves meeting new people, I saw this as an opportunity to create a YouTube vlog series documenting my escapades. This vlog will be done monthly where I complete no less than four cards. Should I not complete four cards, I must continue the next month with the four new cards AND the ones that were left incomplete.

In an age where pranking seems to still be all the rage on YouTube, I wanted to create a better atmosphere where we all come together and have fun instead of being shocked or scared. If you’d like to follow my exploits, Like, Share, and Subscribe to my channel. Also, feel free to pick up this month’s #SneakySneaky t-shirt HERE. Enjoy!

Unrivaled Tournament Series 2: Table Top Boogaloo

A tabletop game renaissance is upon us. With the success of the Unrivaled Tournament Series in Las Vegas this past November, many tabletop gamers have been left to their corner of the table eagerly anticipating the 2018 game lineup. Last year’s smash hit titles ranged from household favorites Ascension, Munchkin, and King of Tokyo to games of lesser-known popularity with Epic Spell Wars 2, Nevermore, and Villager & Villains. As the 2018 series looks to begin with finals taking place this August in Chicago, gamers from around the country are eagerly anticipating word on what games could help them win eternal glory (and a sweet payday). Now we can all just sit here and count our meeples, but I’ve compiled a list of the top five games I’d love to see in this year’s Unrivaled Tournament Series: Continue reading

N710

As I sit here at my desk pretending to do work that matters, I find my thoughts woozily drifting off to to the stars of 2183 and interstellar space travel. Sipping my green shake in my N7 hoodie, I fondly remember my expedition with Garrus, Wrex, and most importantly Commander Sheppard. Ten years have passed, and still the journey is as fresh as the day I started.

With Mass Effect: Andromeda released earlier this year, the Mass Effect series celebrates a Continue reading

The King Is Dead. Long Live The King of Monsters.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a love for a LOT of different things. Some wonder how I can keep track of it all, but I’d say if you ask the people who really know me what my favorite things are, they’ll tell you, tacos, coffee, road trips, Dinosaur Jr, cardigan sweaters, and Godzilla.

So it is with a very, very heavy heart that today, we say goodbye to Haruo Nakajima. Better known as Godzilla.

Not just ANY Godzilla either. Nakajima was THE original King of Monsters in the 1954 film. However, perhaps more importantly, he remained to play Godzilla in throughout the Showa era until his retirement from the role, ending with 1972’s Godzilla vs Gigan. These are the Godzilla movies that most of us who grew up with them know and love the best. From starting out as the frightening, then transforming to the goofy, the crazy, the occasionally trippy, the monster, the hero. The King.

Below this, I’ve listed all the kaiju movies he’s done. You’ll notice that he wasn’t JUST Godzilla. He was the original Mothra, Rodan and Mogera as well as a host of others.

Outside of the beloved Kaiju movies, he was also in a few of Akira Kurosawa’s famous samurai film, notably, Seven Samurai.

Nakjima is still considered the best suit actor ever. To the Japanese film industry, he was what Andy Serkis now is to mocap. You knew when he was in that suit because he had certain moves, the way he walked, fought, waved his hands around, reacted to things… So many people are dismissive of Godzilla movies as rubber-monster-camp. To an extent they’re right. Just watch some of the goofier entries. I won’t deny the campiness of those films. What you can’t be dismissive of, is the talent that really brought Godzilla to life for so many of us. I’ve often said that the greatest actors are the ones that make you forget who’s behind the portrayal. With the heavy suits on though, Nakajima instead reminded us who was inside the portrayal.

In an interview, he was asked, “What is Godzilla to you?” and his response nails it;

He’s my partner! He’s my partner. He can’t be a character without me, but I get inside and he’s the boss.
He’s the boss, but I’m his partner. We can’t stand alone. We’re partners because we share the same feelings.

The wonderful thing is, he never stopped being a hero to legions and generations of kaiju fans. Up to this past year, he was still making the rounds. Hitting the convention circuit, always smiling, always happy to meet new and younger fans. He was kind and humble for his station. In this new age of CGI, as wild as it is, you can never replace the fun and heart of those older films.

Just as you can never replace Haruo Nakajima.

Here’s a short video of the last time Nakjima donned the Godzilla mantel. In 1983. The suit he’s wearing here was made for Godzilla’s 25th Anniversary in 1979. However, the wonderful thing is, once he’s going, he IS Godzilla. Those classic, signature moves, the stance… That’s love.

  • 1954 – Godzilla (Godzilla, Newspaper Writer)
  • 1955 – Godzilla Raids Again (Godzilla)
  • 1956 – Rodan (Rodan, Meganulon, JSDF Officer)
  • 1957 – The Mysterians (Mogera, JDSF Officer)
  • 1958 – Varan the Unbelievable (Varan)
  • 1961 – Mothra (Mothra)
  • 1962 – King Kong vs. Godzilla (Godzilla)
  • 1963 – Matango (Matango)
  • 1963 – Atragon
  • 1964 – Mothra vs. Godzilla (Godzilla)
  • 1964 – Dogora, the Space Monster
  • 1964 – Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Godzilla)
  • 1965 – Frankenstein vs. Baragon (Baragon)
  • 1965 – Invasion of the Astro-Monster (Godzilla)
  • 1966 – The War of the Gargantuas (Gaira)
  • 1966 – Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (Godzilla)
  • 1967 – Son of Godzilla (Godzilla; water scenes only)
  • 1967 – King Kong Escapes (King Kong)
  • 1968 – Destroy All Monsters (Godzilla, Military Adviser)
  • 1969 – Latitude Zero (Gryphon, Manbat, Giant Rat, Lion)
  • 1969 – All Monsters Attack (Godzilla)
  • 1970 – Space Amoeba (Gezora, Ganime)
  • 1971 – Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Godzilla)
  • 1972 – Godzilla vs. Gigan (Godzilla, Comic Book Publisher, Defense Forces Officer)

Credit to who ever made this collage. It’s awesome.

The 13th Doctor Has Been Revealed!

And for some reason, people have a problem with it… Not that this surprises anyone.

This is a long and difficult post. However, I really need to get this off my chest.

A friend of mine and I had a good conversation a while back. It was about gender/race swapping comic book characters. He, as a black man, had some pretty good insights on the subject. Honestly, he’s one of the smartest geeks I know. He will beat you in quite a lot of comic book trivia. But ultimately his opinion boiled down to a simple truth;

If it doesn’t define the character, it doesn’t matter.

I’d never thought of it that way, but Continue reading

It’s here….JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE – Official Trailer

It’s a movie that you didn’t realize you wanted to see as bad as you want to see it. People don’t generally say, “Man, I loved Jumanji/Zathura”, but they do. For some reason none of us can explain, we love this series.
It’s like “Hackers”. Man, that was a cheesy movie, but not only will I watch it every time it’s on, I will sometimes just be in the mood to watch it. Why? I can’t explain it. It’s just fun.

So….Who’s coming to see the new Jumanji with me?

A Worried Man Searches For The Human Highway

This started out as a Facebook post. Then it got long. Then it turned into a story that I thought was better shared here. If you enjoy it, awesome. If you don’t, I get it. It’s long, but not as long as my wait for a song.

Here’s one of many tales of being a nerd in the days before the internet. I’ll peg this around 1989 – 1990-ish. Continue reading