Saturday, April 30, 2016

Victory with the Hoops

Thursday night the Salt City Hoops hosted a fundraiser tournament at the local Laserforce Center and it was a really enjoyable event that raised money in support of their youth basketball program. Six teams participated in multiple rounds of Team Supercharge competition and our team was on our game all night. I was proud to be the top scorer in the majority of rounds as our team was 6-0 going into the finals.

All six teams played a semi-final round to determine the top three teams moving forward. However, from there the final round had each of those three teams going against each other in one last game. I remember thinking as I walked out of the arena that I knew I had done well, but I was not 100 percent sure of the result. Sometimes I know for certain how a game has gone before I even see the scores, but everyone played well and this time I was really interested to see how things had turned out. I looked up at the board and smiled... Team Four (that was us) had won. :)

That meant we got to play one more game to determine the grand champion. All the players on my team went in for a free for all against each other. Top player was the grand champion of the event. And let me say, kudos to some tough competition in this round! Mickey and Grace especially were definitely gunning for me in particular this round. It was awesome to play with them all night and against them in this final challenge. In the end...

I pulled the top score and they awarded me as grand champion and I was given two trophies. One for being on the winning team and the other for winning the free for all. This is actually my first tag hardware. :)

I must say, considering the way the last couple of weeks have gone, it felt good to be affirmed for my laser tag skills. I feel like in a way I skipped over an important step in my tag journey. I think most people probably play some public tag and if they like it they start to get into small local events like this one and then move on to more serious competitions and mini-geddons before being ready to play against the best at something like Armageddon. I totally skipped that local level step. I went straight from playing casually at my home centers to "let's play an Armageddon" with nothing in between. I'm backing up now and enjoying the results of smaller social tag competitions like this one and my last tournament in Canada. Even in the league my team is going up against players who are preparing for Nats. I've been at an advanced intermediate level banging my head against the walls of the serious competition and just being happy to keep up. But tonight, I got to celebrate playing well and just enjoying everything about it. And it was cool to know that by being there I was also supporting a great cause because there were lots of young athletes there who are excelling in their chosen sport and I was glad to be part of something that will benefit their program. And when all was said and done I got to take a fun photo with the Salt City Hoops players.

And to me that one just takes the cake!

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Showing Up Is Half The Battle

I've told this to my pageant girls for years, but I've never seen it proven so clearly (and irritatingly so) as last night when my three man team showed up for a little local tournament only to find ourselves the only ones there. Unbelievable. Technically another group of three showed up fifteen minutes after the tourney was supposed to start, but at that point with a whopping two teams...cancelled. Sheesh. But to my point, we showed up. So thanks to the guys who were on board, reliable and ready to do this laser tag event with me...and then be good sports about the distance we had to drive just to find we wouldn't have a competition after all.

Yeah, I took a selfie of our would-be team. Don't know what we would have called ourselves. In an attempt to organically develop a team name using all our initials we independently threw out some words mad libs style and this group would have likely been either Team Tantalizing Lemonade by the Sea or Team Speaking of Legendary Tables. :)

Well, regardless of my frustration with this in general (and timing...this probably has to do in part with it being spring break week) I do want to thank Beanz for trying to get something going here. Effort is being made to get activity going and I really hope the people who play at this center can see and appreciate that. And once we were there other things kicked in which allowed us to play, albeit quite differently than expected.

First off, the three of us went in just for a free for all against each other. I've got to say, that was just plain fun for the sake of fun. I need that in my laser tag. :) Just running around and shooting with friends is cathartic and worthwhile. Then the tone changed a bit as a children's birthday party showed up (with REALLY little kids). And a few other kids on break arrived just for public play, which apparently they would have alternated against the tournament games. First off, no, we did not come to play against kids or be big meanies, but once they were there we all turned into mentors of sort. We went in with them, showed them how to get bases, took a few of them around in groups and helped them when they got scared or confused. In one game where the groups blended Tyler played the round out and then told a mom with a more tentative child to tell the little girl the name on his pack was hers. That little girl beamed with joy and was so excited as she believed her name was near the top. And there were a couple other nice teaching moments and fun with the unexpected infusion of kids and a couple of the parents who joined in. OK, this was NOT the night I expected, but I will say it felt good to be youthful and just have fun and see the kids enjoying laser tag. And the frustration over the lack of having a tournament is tempered because I knew there was another one (a fundraiser being put together by an outside group) happening the next day, so we will return ready to rock. :)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Perhaps what is most astonishing to me is that this post is NOT titled "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" a league. I swear that on Friday I was convinced that the league would be over and I would be figuring out how to explain "tag credit" as a good thing. Knowing in advance that two players were away on vacation I had made arrangements for Tyler and Spencer to fill in. However, I couldn't account for three more people on our team not showing up for one reason or another. And there were other teams in that same boat also. I definitely believe that if this team wasn't bringing new people into the center to be part of this that they would have scrapped it after week three. And yet...astonishingly...we continue. :)

With two first time subs and three random rotators, no two games had the team look the same twice. Actually, that would be accurate to say about every session so far. I am pretty much chalking up the night to an opportunity for experience. I view it as practice for the two "tiny tournaments" coming up this week. We played Masters this week. It felt…ironic.

Something else I find astonishing is that considering how good I feel about my playing in a lot of circumstances (and certainly more so in other arenas) that I keep subjecting myself to situations that tend to slap that right out of me. I must always bear in mind that, like with many things, there are growing pains and a learning curve for almost all of this. While it is humbling, that is probably a good thing in the long run towards making me a more prepared player...but, damn, that is a tough pill to swallow some days! But we persevere, we play and we have a good time or else there is no point. After all, it is only laser tag. :)

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Low Key Night

There was a really low key atmosphere last night... REALLY low key. I brought my coworker Spencer to tag to learn the ropes in preparation to sub on our league team. He did well. Although the competition was limited to the handful of people who showed up on this incredibly quiet night, that might have been for the best for learning the system.

A younger player who is clearly on fire for tag was playing as well. At one point when we crossed paths he shouted "Get her! Get her! Not me!" I teased him that this was a warrior battle call I was unfamiliar with. :) However, I was heartened by his enthusiasm. He is gaining skill and proud of his level five accomplishment and was a good reminder of what tag here could be like when it isn't all about...other stuff. I remember the feeling of ascendance (yes, pun intended) that I had not too long ago and somewhere along the lines that has started to slip. But playing, not to be competitive, but just to enjoy the game with some new blood was really nice and made it worth sticking around.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016


So, someone I know recently unlocked this achievement at our local Laserforce center...

I have no idea what was required to get this. Congrats on whatever the accomplishment, any other Photon warriors take issue with anything here?

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

I am Legend

This is not about the movie. It's about how last night I got to tag using my old standby pack "Legend" all evening long. It's just a psychological thing, but every time I use that pack it still takes me back in time and I feel primed and ready to bring my best game. Call it superstition or maybe just a self fulfilling event, but while wearing Legend I had a perfect undefeated streak with the top score in every game of the night. That felt good because I was playing against my favorite kind of competition...high school athletes. They bring a good game, yet they never see me coming.

Last night the competition was from a local high school track team. They came out to burn some energy before heading off to a competition in Pennsylvania the next day. When all was said and done a couple commented that they thought they'd be too tired to run following this night of tag. However, they certainly didn't start out like that.

The first game of the night the players had their own plans for the game and who they wanted on their team. They all split up evenly between the blue and green teams. That left me playing solo on the red as a team of one. And that was fine with me...plenty of targets, plenty of chance to surprise them. 

I buried the competition in that first game scoring more than double the next closest competitor. Obviously I had more targets for points, but there were a lot of them and only one of me. A tiny bit of offense and they could have certainly kept me in check...but instead Legend got to run the game. :)

After that they started to take note. One guy asked me if I was a professional. I never know what to say to that. First, because there's no such thing as "professional" laser tag. Second, because I know what kind of tournament scene really exists out there. To call myself a pro knowing my place in the bigger picture seems really incorrect. So I told him "maybe more like an advanced-intermediate" to not be "that girl". Well, for the rest of the night that guy kept calling me "semi-pro". for me! :)

One of the most heartening things that took place happened after most of the athletes left. There were still a couple of games to go and the group divided into several teen guys against several teen girls...and me. Those girls were intimidated by the boys and I tried to help them stand strong and not run away. Stay and shoot and don't back down. Girl power! And by the end those girls had achieved a victory and I was really proud to be playing with them and helping to bolster their confidence in the arena. So it was a good night...and Legend played as Legend does. :)

It's a couple days belated, but I want to take this time to welcome our new Ascendance team players. 

Irina, Pavel and Eugeniy will be joining us at Baltigeddon next month. Welcome! Can't wait to play with you all on our team. It will be "Legend...wait for it...dary!"

Monday, April 11, 2016

Team Deathmatch

"Big Tiv" has decided to accentuate the positives this morning...and, by the way, that nickname is NOT one of them! :) I will start by feeling good about the fact our team won a third of the games we played despite having only half of our expected team there. Here's how the night started…

I walked in and Beanz asked me what was up with my team. Until that moment I had no reason to think that anything was up with my team...surprise! For various reasons three out of the six of us were MIA as of the start time. Sigh. This was me at about quarter after five last night...

We were all brainstorming for replacements who might be able to drop everything at a moment's notice (not so easy) and about an hour later the games got started with Lenny and J-Dawg thankfully subbing in. Huge shout out to those two! If you are counting, you are correct that that only adds up to five players. We were not the only ones in this boat, so we just played with teams of five last night. I maintain my quiet opinion that we should have remained a five man league from the get-go, but que sera.

So we played rounds of Team Deathmatch. In short, Capture The Flag with no flags. Instead you could tag a base for a power-up or special mode (stealth, invulnerability, rapid fire, etc.), but you had to cycle the bases before going back for more. And you have to tag someone five times before they deactivate. As a game format it was a little...well, all over the place. But enjoyable. And we had some success while learning the game (which was a brand new format to several of us).

There were a few other games that were close. There were also a couple where our team didn't win, but I enjoyed some "personal victories". Nuff said.

We were supposed to play some Photon at the end of the night to compensate for lost games because the league will not be playing next week. However, after a late start and the time it would have taken to explain the game we ended up pushing those games off for now. It's cool, I was ready to call it a night by then anyhow.

Bringing this full circle, I will end on another nails were on point. Ok, you say why do I keep posting photos of my manicure? 

Well, this week they are looking a bit like laser tag accessories, so I'm going to consider that a victory too. :)

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Accountability and Replaceability

So here's a hypothetical story. Let's say you have a player who wants to join a league and gets placed on a team. If the team is required to have a particular number of players in the arena during the games you might figure on relying on such a player to be accountable to their decision to be part of the league and show up to play for the team. What might get irritating is if that person makes comments such as "Now that I'm on a team I'll play hard" leading you to think he has acknowledged having a place on the team and then when you ask him what weeks he is available, getting a non-committal reply such as "I'm the kind of person who will be there when I can and won't when I can't". Still though, even in the wishy-washiness of a comment like that you might still think there's an understanding of such a player being on your team...when he decides to be there at all. Well, if such a player hears that a member of an opposing team has to back out you might expect him to say something like "that's a shame"...not "I'll sub for him" leaving others to ask "are you ditching your current team?" If the reply from such a player is "I never wanted to be on a team anyway, I just want to sub for different teams" then it sure might sound like there's a lack of accountability and communication and it may all be for the best because you might not be able to grit your teeth and play nice after being "ditched" essence so that player can join a different team. That might even be enough to really light a fire under you to play harder than you would have anyway. Especially if you have five other people who are dedicated, practiced and passionate players who might perceive this other person's actions as a juvenile way to straddle the fence in a competition. Have you enjoyed my hypothetical story?

On a completely unrelated note...we are happy now to welcome our newest addition David to the league team to fill a recently vacated spot. No connection to the hypothetical story at all. ;)


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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bhodi Li Speaks - An Interview with Christopher Lockwood

I would like to thank Chris Lockwood for making some time to talk with me this past week and allowing me to conduct the first and only interview he has ever done about his time playing the role of Bhodi Li on the Photon television series. The series was filmed in Japan in 1986, making this year the 30th anniversary of the show. Check out for this exclusive interview.

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Monday, April 4, 2016

The League Begins (aka Return of the Jim Jim Squad)

Last night the local Laserforce league got underway and the Jim Jim Squad was represented...because we never changed our team name. :) This was intended to be a five man team competition, but as it seems to always go, things changed along the way. Starting with our five. Four of us have been pretty solid from the start. At the beginning of the night I introduced Joe and Tommy to Mitch and established the nucleus of our team. We also established that Mitch and I both appreciate the awesomeness of Photon based on our matching Photon hats.
Now, a preface...

Let me say thank you to Beanz for organizing this. Bear in mind this all happens in the context of this being a fun opportunity for competitive play that I am glad to have, accompanied by appreciation for the fact that someone put effort into putting it all together.

Back to the story...

I knew we'd be joined by a fifth person replacing Facundo and later in the night Himes introduced himself. So there you go, five people...but it's never so simple. Although a goal of this league was to introduce new players and limit the number of tournament players to a team...well, it seems that not everyone (A) got on board with the goal by finding any new recruits and (B) counted how many people make five. Long story short, we mostly played with teams of six last night. But because of those same couple of factors (see points A and B) players were being borrowed from some teams to temporarily fill spots on others so that six people would be on a team at any given time even if they didn't originally plan to have six. To appreciate the rest of the night it's important to have a handle on this fact because it plays a role in understanding what followed.

I'm going to skip over my anecdotal examples of the trouble I see with borrowing players if it isn't essential. Don't get me wrong, I admire people who pinch hit when needed (injury, subbing for a no-show), but in this case this was a result of changing the numbers at the last minute to accommodate the preferences of those who didn't get a team together in advance (as opposed to a lack of teams who planned ahead for five players). But that's my own internal sand grain. :)

Would it have mattered to the end results of the night if that had started with original rosters? Probably not. As it was, we were the underdog team with the least Force experience and were going up against people who play regularly and quite competitively, some in serious tournaments. So, while we spent most of the night coming in second to stronger teams, we found our satisfaction in knowing that our scores were generally quite close. At some point Zac ended up on our team also, so we had six for most of the games. I am proud of how well we kept up all night. Everyone acknowledged that, in spite of the losses, we were keeping pace and appeared to be reasonably evenly matched. So we took satisfaction in that.

However, before the night was done we managed to pull a victory that helped give us the psychological push we probably needed at that point. Our David and Goliath moment occurred in this game where we played against the team I perceive to have some of the strongest players. We won by a sliver, but we did it.
Which is awesome because up until that point I thought the only victory we'd see was Joe commandeering the jukebox and forcing the other players to listen to this...

And, don't get me wrong, that would have almost been enough to make my night right there. :) But when all was said and done, even though there were things that happened that were not ideal, I felt like we had a good time and got some close games out of it. And as a secondary gain I acquired a new skill...I played Guitar Hero for the first time!

Thanks to everyone on our team...those who planned to be there and those who joined at the last minute. It was a pleasure getting to play with you all last night and I look forward to playing with you more over the next few weeks.

So, that was the first night of our league experience. Lots more still to come!
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Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Great Divide... (or if you prefer) The Rift

This is not going to be a debate over which is inherently better, Rift or Nexus…anyone who plays Zone already understands the advantages one has over the other. Instead it’s going to be a talk about not ticking people off when you no longer have an alternative option.

In my area, up until a few months ago, there were two locations (same ownership) where you could play using Zone equipment. One had a much weaker map (the Mickey design) and used Nexus while the other with a far superior arena uses (and still continues to use) Rift. The location using Nexus closed and bye-bye went the Nexus equipment. I have wondered many times why they didn’t just switch out the Nexus for the Rift at the better arena, but they didn’t and the reason really isn’t any of my business. The bottom line is that now we have only one arena where Zone is an option, the place I play most weekends, and we play with Rift. Now, here comes the point of my story…

Last night some of our normal group was there playing, but there were a lot of new faces too. It was actually an incredibly competitive night and these other players gave us a really good run. Frankly, I LOVE to have good competition! And one new face looked somewhat familiar to me. I asked if he had played at the other location and when he said yes and told me his name I remembered him well. He was one of the top players over there and a weekend regular in the same way that Joe and Tommy and I are like that in our arena. And he played pretty well. But all night I kept overhearing him making snide comments about how much better Nexus is than Rift. And I get it, I’ve heard it before…but I was getting really kind of sick of hearing about it here. It’s like walking into someone else’s home to have dinner and telling them how much better the food was where you ate last week. Just irritated the hell out of me because this is our home arena and, yes, it’s different, but we love it. We respect the other options out there and have our own opinions about what makes for good laser tag. But you know what…this is your current dinner. Nexus is no longer an option around here right now. Maybe that will change in the future, maybe not. But at this moment, in this area you have three options…play a different system (there’s a Force arena just down the road and they would love to have some new players walk in any time), play Rift without complaint because it’s what we’ve got and we are lucky to be playing in a nice arena (because let’s face it, the mall that houses this center may not be around forever either, so we have to appreciate what we’ve got now) or don’t play because your first choice is no longer an option. Or the unspoken fourth option…there’s always Runner in the other mall! ;) OK, I won’t dig on Runner while I’m making this particular point. But I’m just saying, if you’re going to play have some respect because we choose to be here and are very fortunate to have what we do in this arena. Although I live close enough to Albany to make a couple more Zone options feasible, most of my crew do not have that option. So if you love laser tag please come out and play and continue to bring some good competition. Just don’t rip on the Rift. Thank you, that is all.

Comments or questions?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Armageddon Girl Stays Home

We received word (and refunds) this morning that this year's Armageddon multi-system laser tag tournament would not be going forward. Sigh. I had been optimistic about the chance to play on a draft team (which, BTW, is not generally my feeling about drafts) as it seemed like a chance to beat the odds while getting in on some serious competition. But lack of commitments (i.e. players getting their deposits in on time) killed this year's event.

Now, I recognize that sometimes life gets in the way and you can't feasibly do every event that comes along. However, for those who were vocal (in one of two ways...if you've been there you get it) about this...Bueller? Bueller? Where did you go?

This is like eating at my favorite restaurant…follow me here. I love sushi (a transparent analogy for laser tag, but a totally true statement also). It isn't the most popular food in the area where I live, so sometimes I walk into my favorite restaurant and it is empty. But I know that if I don't purchase my meal and support this restaurant that I may not be able to enjoy sushi there in the future.

I have my own ideas about why Armageddon went down like this, but it is mostly boils down to  a matter of personal accountability to follow through. That's all I have to say about that. But to those who were signed up, paid and prepped to do this I say thank you for stepping up and I'll share this as an appreciative Armageddon girl...

(and the link is gone, but if anyone remembers Alta Dustin, her song "Armageddon Girl" rocks!)

My final thoughts...

I'd like to thank Ricky and all who had a hand in trying to pull this together. I was among the 22 paid and ready to go. As a first time player last year I had looked forward to continuing with it, learning more from the veterans and bringing a stronger game. As an organizer for events myself I can appreciate how difficult it is to get people to commit (and I also respect that if it's just not feasible for some that's fine). But perhaps the draft idea should not be discarded all together. Maybe next time around (and I am optimistic there will be a "next time") there's a way to include teams plus a separate side draft event? I played in the Philly Invites last year and thought that offered the best of both experiences. Call this a time to regroup, but to Ricky, thank you for all your effort to provide an awesome competitive experience for veterans and newer players.

So...Baltigeddon next?

Comments or questions?