Month: October 2015

Speaking With Woodpenny’s Pat King

Untitled3Today we were lucky enough to speak with the very nice local game developer and founder of Woodpenny studios, Pat King! Pat has lived and worked in the Valley for years, first with Hitpoint Studios and now with his own Woodpenny studios!

Woodpenny makes digital and physical objects and all of them are really neat. Right now, they’re working on a great VR music-video thing. Like, basically VR is a real functional interesting thing now, and that’s neat. So what Woodpenny did is team up with excellent musician Ben Sollee and create this awesome VR sort of music video/theme park ride called “Vanishing Point”. We got to try an early version and it is both trippy as heck and a heck of a trip!

You should fund it on IndieGoGo so that it becomes a Virtual Reality and we can all see how neat it is!

James Olchowski: Hello, thanks for speaking with me.Untitled4

Pat King: Not a problem!

James Olchowski: So, what drew you to our Happy Valley?

Pat King: Short answer – the mother of my 2 little girls.  Longer answer – My wife grew up in Northampton. I’m a Kentucky boy. When I was 25, I took on a short term contract as tour manager for a chamber orchestra in Ireland. My (now) wife was getting her masters degree at the University of Limerick. We met in Ireland through mutual friends and ended up kind of liking each other. My plan after Ireland was to attend the Vancouver Film School. Her plan was to do something other than that, preferably closer to New England.

At this point, I really liked her…and you know, Vancouver is really far away and it’s more school debt and Northampton has this place called Herrell’s Ice Cream. After weighing those options, I decided to move to the area! Now I have a beautiful family and a fantastic community. [This is adorable, readers – Ed.]

JO: Is it difficult to work on game development in such a relatively small area? I’m used to hearing about development shops being set up in major cities.

PK: Tricky question, from a studio’s perspective, there are key advantages to running a studio in both the Pioneer Valley and larger cities such as Boston.

Larger cities (especially ones with an established game, tech or other creative media presence) usually generate more resources for studios. Typically there are multiple established game studios, more experienced game professionals, more money and investment opportunities, creative agencies, culture, community, etc.

That said, the Pioneer Valley does have some stunning talent, longtime industry professionals and general resources that you find in larger cities. Game Industry Studios such as HitPoint, Anzovin, and HappyGiant have been chugging along for a number of years. Additionally, we have a huge tabletop game design community as well as numerous software, hardware, graphic, web and other creative development teams. There are other tech and software communities that offer networking events and forums. There are more colleges than you can shake a stick at that offer a constant flow of new talent to the area.

So far, I’ve found living in the Pioneer Valley works well with my style of game development. I’ve been lucky to have made some great contacts along the way that allow me to work away from the larger cities. Part of that is also attending larger events in Boston and New York and building those connections.

The most difficult part of game development is just knowing where to start. You could be a killer programmer, artist or designer, but without the experience of an active studio, it’s most likely very difficult to connect all the pieces and make a full studio.

JO: Is that why you set up the Pioneer Valley Game Developers (PVGD) group? To bring together people who might be too dispersed to meet up without an excuse?

PK: Exactly. After leaving HitPoint Studios, I found that those interested in game development were pretty dispersed throughout the Pioneer Valley. While I was able to connect with tech industry leaders, there weren’t many people being proactive in the gaming community at large. John Tuttle and I had both worked at HitPoint and wanted to find other developers interested in digital game development. We formed the PVGD in order to find others with similar interests to help make games and hopefully create the community that our area had been lacking.

JO: How do you make certain PVGD is a welcoming place for new people?

PK: Our format so far has been to offer monthly networking events called MAKE TALK PLAY. We usually host them at a “barcade” called The Quarters. We have presentations by local industry leaders covering a broad range of development topics in order to appeal to the largest range of developers in the region. Then after the presentations we hang out, talk about game development and encourage people to demo their own projects.

We’re also working on a number of events other than our monthly meetup such as our game jam we hosted at TopatoCon last month. Anyone interested should join our meetup group at or visit our webpage at

JO: You left work at a local studio to found your own – Woodpenny. Why did you set out on your own?

PK: HitPoint Studios was a beautiful place to grow as a developer. I was there from the beginning and it was probably one of the best work experiences of my life. I completely respect Paul Hake and Aaron St. John for all they have accomplished and the process they’ve gone through to create a successful studio in the Pioneer Valley. About four months before I left, my wife had started a full time job and we had been struggling to figure out how to balance our work and family schedule. The ultimate decision to leave wasn’t to start a studio, but to take some time off to let me wife focus on her work and be a part-time stay at home dad.

However…I’m not one to stay still. I had a couple days throughout the week to myself and started testing my skills as a woodworker recreating a game my father built when I was a child called penny basketball. This is where I came up with the name Woodpenny. Soon, I started taking on some graphic and sound design projects and then I was approached by an old friend about creating a simple mobile game for his marketing agency. I wasn’t really looking to start a game studio at the beginning, but at that point the work was just kind of finding me, so I decided to roll with it.


JO: What has been your biggest challenge so far putting Woodpenny together?

PK: I think the hardest part so far has been trying to figure out exactly what to focus on. I really want to make wooden board games, but after about 9 months of experimenting, I realized that in order to make the boards efficiently, I would need a proper workshop. I’m currently working from my home basement, which is damp and dusty. This makes me constantly fear about inventory and my health. I have recently started looking into sharing space with established woodworking shops.

Since we also do the digital game development, I’ve been looking for opportunities that set Woodpenny apart from other studios. Lately I’ve been experimenting more with audio inspired digital media and games. I would love to build the studio with a focus on sound design and music which isn’t as prominent in the industry with the exception of a few great games, such as (but not limited to) Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I want to make games where music is what drives the game.

JO: What’s the most satisfying moment you’ve had working on building Woodpenny?

PK: Hard question because it’s all satisfying: Selling my first board, landing my first project, completing my first project, receiving my first paycheck and figuring out a team. All of this is worth a thousand years of education. Every project is satisfying in its own right.

I just love my work and the people I work with. I love learning new tools and playing with new technology and approaches. Probably the most satisfying aspect is that now I can still make cool projects and have a flexible schedule to spend time with my family. I’ve made that a priority from the start.

JO: Can you give our readers some hints about what Woodpenny is working on? I mean Digital AND Physical? Are you developing the Matrix?

PK: So after making the board for Ben Sollee, he ended up reaching out about game development and was interested in looking for ways to connect his music, merch or stage show with different approaches to gaming or interactive media.

Which brings me to my current project. I’m extremely excited about a Virtual Reality music app we’re making with Ben Sollee! Since August, we’ve been developing a Virtual Reality animated music video choreographed to new music by Ben called ‘The Vanishing Point’. We launched our IndieGoGo campaign about 2 weeks ago and deep in the crowdfunding campaign madness.

When we started, I thought developing the app would be the tough part, but it’s not! It’s the constant push of balancing social marketing, creating videos, tweaking the campaign, pestering friends and family and mainly educating people about what we’re actually making. Explaining VR is extremely difficult to people who haven’t tried it as it’s one of those things that you need to experience to “get”. It’s such a powerful medium for games, but also music and cinema. I’m really excited to see how VR (and Augmented Reality) will influence the various forms of digital media out there.

For those interested, please check out our IndieGoGo campaign! We need your help!

I am still working on the Woodpenny boards and hope to release them in a greater capacity at some point in the near future.

While we’re also just trying to get our act together, we just applied to the Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator program and are looking for recommendations and support. If you’re interested in helping us succeed please click this link and support what we’re doing!

JO: We got a chance to watch people play Woodpenny at a PVGD meetup. It was interesting, and the board was super pretty! We’re now getting the impression from your Facebook page (we are snooping but it is for journalism) that each board is unique. Is this a made-to-order board game?

PK: I make about 4 boards a year (again slow process). Each time I learn something new about the process. The game is called Woodpenny basketball. It’s based of a game my Dad made that my family had growing up. I still have and cherish the original board. The idea is simple, it’s a 2-player game where all you need is the board and a penny to play. Like basketball rules, players take turn flicking the penny toward their goal to score points (2 and 3 point shots like basketball). The first one to 21 wins.

About 6 years ago, I decided to make some as gifts for friends and family and realized just how much fun they are to make. Also, as a parent I realized how important it is to have non-digital or plastic toys and games. My goal is to make the boards attractive, durable and fun for families for years. I feel like I’m on the right path there, now just to figure out how to improve my process (and maybe take on less digital work for a few months).

JO: Wait wait you made Ben Sollee a custom game board? We just saw that. Ben Sollee is great, he’s so nice. Why did he want a custom Woodpenny board?

PK: Haha, yeah. I met Ben in March after seeing him perform at the Iron Horse. I brought one of my boards for our table to play while we waited for the show to start. After the show, Ben saw the board and we got to talking. He asked for my business card, I thought out of courtesy. Well about 3 weeks later, he reached out and asked about getting a board!

Here’s Ben’s board!


JO: Is Woodpenny your sole project at the moment?

PK: Financially yes? I have a lot of hobbies. I have a family. I own a house. I have the Pioneer Valley Game Developers. I have a lot going on, but that seems to be the way I function best. Mainly just trying to make Woodpenny the most flexible and satisfying experience I can for myself, team and family.

JO: Do you remember what got you interested in playing games?

PK: Honestly, patterns & sequences. My brain loves searching for patterns that connect at an emotional level. Maybe it’s the rewiring of my brain that occurred playing Atari and Nintendo at a young age, and if so I’m very grateful. I know a lot of game developers / enthusiasts that like analyze the games they play. They like to pick them apart in a more academic approach to understanding the mechanics. Which is totally cool, but not how my brain works.

For me, I let the experience drive the games I play and develop. When working at HitPoint, often times our clients would request game designs that were similar to other popular games. We want Angry Birds, we want Bejeweled, we want a Hidden Object game like this, etc. So “for research” I would completely dive into these game examples that weren’t my usual cup of tea. But over the course of a week or two, I would have either completed the game or conquered the mechanics, again looking to connect to the emotional patterns in the design. After fully understanding the experience as a consumer, I felt completely comfortable designing a similar game, in our own style with subtle differences.

JO: Is there any one game you can remember that got you interested in the idea of making your own?

PK: Sam & Max Hit The Road – I’ve wanted to make a unique point and click adventure for a long time. I was blown away when I first played that title. The concept was so weird, the story and art so humorous and the puzzles at many times very frustrating, but super satisfying. I’ve wanted to recreate most of that experience since I started developing games.

JO: If someone was just getting into games, physical or digital, what would you recommend they play?

PK: I’d start them at Atari for a few years. Let them play Colecovision at their friends houses and the arcade once in a while. I’d move them up to Nintendo and run them through the standard titles. After a few years of blowing on NES cartridges I’d move them up to Sega and make them play Toe Jam & Earl and Earthworm Jim. They’d have to save up their money if they wanted the SNES also.

Then I’d sit them down and tell them not to invest their money in the Dreamcast even though it’s going to be wicked awesome. I’d move them on to the Nintendo 64 where they would play Golden Eye, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When they were ready, I’d put them in a dark room at night and make them play Resident Evil by themselves on the Playstation while filming them poop themselves with a VHS camera when they encounter their first zombie or zombie dogs breaking through the windows in the effing hallway. After getting them into the Tony Hawk series, I feel like they’d be ready to fly on their own.

JO: Getting back to the PVGD, have there been any notable local games developed since you started meeting up?

PK: We’ve seen a lot of great projects under development and quite a few that have been released. The most prolific group putting out new games and being active in development has been from the members of the Owl & Raven. Hannah Shaffer, Evan Rowland and Joshua A.C. Newman have been cranking out so many great games among evangelizing their work.

It’s quite impressive to see. I’ve seen a number of great titles from other members mid-development, but am really hoping more people will start showcasing projects where we can start helping each other out whether it’s feedback, testing or collaboration. We have some great talent in the Pioneer Valley.


JO: Are there any local creators you think more people should be paying attention to (besides yourself, obviously)?

PK: Same answer with the above group members from the Owl & Raven, I would love to see more support for what they’re doing. There’s also a few new experimental studios starting up in the area. One to keep an eye on is led by Isaiah Mann. He’s organizing a student run game studio to start in the Fall of 2016 that will be located at Hampshire College. They’ll be presenting at the next MAKE TALK PLAY on November 1st. People should definitely come out and see what that’s all about.

JO: Have you seen any collaborations develop between people who met at a PVGD event?

PK: I’ve seen some collaboration and heard discussions about people wanting to do more. For Woodpenny, we met Jess Winter who runs misclabs at one of our meet-ups early in the year. He’s the lead programmer for the VR project we’re working on. He’s been absolutely fantastic to work with and a complete surprise for finding a local game dev in the area who has been a vital part of this project. We’re working towards fostering more connections and opportunities to encourage collaboration throughout this next year.

JO: Do you have any advice for someone interested in creating games?

PK: Just do it. Use the tools available to you whether it’s Scratch, Unity, Unreal engine or just an analog prototype. Just start with a game mechanic that you would enjoy playing, give yourself some rules and just start exploring. Start talking to people. Ask as many questions as possible. Start thinking about why you like the games you play. Just start. If you want to do this, you have to be able to learn through experience and make great connections along the way. It’s Woodpenny’s philosophy and the Pioneer Valley Game Developers are here to help!

JO: Thank you for your time!

PK: Thank you James!

Remember, support Woodpenny’s IndieGoGo campaign and their entry into the Valley Venture Mentors program! They’re a nice local studio and we can never have too many of those. And be sure to make it out to a MAKE TALK PLAY event! They’re always good times, and there are a ton of intelligent people to talk to at each. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, you’ll make fast friends. It will be distressingly delightful.


October 26th – November 1st

XMen39Int1The Valley Nerd Watch!

So last week we had the pleasure of playing a “hack” of the locally developed and quite roundly well-regarded horror-RPG Dread! In fact, we had the singular experience of playing it with the prolific promulgator of preternaturally purple prose himself, Epidiah Ravochol! It is because of this we were able to learn his darkest secret: when he says you need to make a “pull” from the Tower of Dread, about 40% of the time he says “pool” instead.

So first off: what’s a “hack”? Well, within the tabletop community it’s basically when you look at something that already exists and figure out how to tweak some of the rules and maybe the setting in order to turn it into something similar yet significantly different in feel or mechanics. So in this case, where Dread is kind of a “you are in a standard horror flick with like zombies or a wolfman and an old man who says you ain’t gonna find nothin’ at the old McAlister Place… leastwise nothin’ living” the hack we played is something entirely other.

“The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku” is Dread with a bit more direction and structure, and it provides an interesting contrast. It’s set in a world quite unlike our own, more Strange Fantasy or Fantasy Horror or Basically Like Lovecraft But Better Written Because Things Are Actually Described Using Words.

Because in each situation a player has a known quantity of moves, the many confusing and strange situations are a bit more approachable. Say you happen upon a friendly mill town in which all of the people have sewn-shut eyes. It’s a simple matter of one pull to find out what is dangerous about this, one pull to notice something important, one pull to silently remove yourself from the location, etc. And then, because it’s Dread, you inevitably die from a falling tower. It’s a really fun time and we can’t wait for it to be officially released! Also, buy Dread!

Also! The final ten days of the Woodpenny IndieGoGo campaign for the extremely cool Ben Sollee VR Music Video “Vanishing Point” are here! You should support them, and then get that cool Google Cardboard setup and stare into the awesomeness of the future!

As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!



Tuesday, October 27th
Edwards Public Library [30 East St, Southampton, MA 01073] at 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Scary Fairy Houses!
Celebrate Halloween by creating a tiny house for tiny horrors to nest within! Which actually we guess if you left them out and they got all grody with rot and bacteria, that’d actually just fufill the purpose of the exercise. Neat! Bring your own box or base as a foundation. Call 413-527-9480 or sign up at the Library!
Wednesday, October 28th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 4:00pm – 6:00pm
NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party
National Novel Writing Month is this November! Forbes Library will be supporting people in the Valley who want to take on the challenge. The Forbes Writer in Residence, Naila Moreira, will host regular “write-ins” during November! At the kickoff party, best-selling novelist Jacqueline Sheehan will inspire writers and answer questions about the writing process!
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Write Here! Write Now!
Writing a novel in a month? That’s a tall order of fries if we’ve ever heard one! Well, maybe you can get motivated and meet that lofty goal with this writing workshop series! Ages 12+, including middle and high school.

Board Games:

Wednesday, October 28th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Family Board Game Night
Board Games and snacks hosted by the kindly librarian Tim Hayes! There’s going to be Carcassonne at the this one! Carcassone is super fun. Not interested in the featured game? Check out the collection!
Sunday, November 1st
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday Heroclix
Heroclix! You get these little plastic miniature things that are so adorable you can’t even believe it and then you use some rules to fight other groups of little plastic figures and it’s great. It started with just Marvel stuff we’re pretty sure, but now probably has 14 variations of every character you like!


Tuesday, October 27th
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 6:30pm
Cammie McGovern, “A Step Towards Falling”
Cammie McGovern will read from her latest Young Adult title. Told in alternating points of view, this powerful novel is about learning from your mistakes and trying to forgive! Oh, and it’s about the bystander effect to some degree. Sounds like an interesting novel! Books will be available to purchase at the event.
Thursday, October 29th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
Rita Zoey Chin, “Let the Tornado Come” & Mira Bartok, “The Memory Palace: A Memoir”
A pair of exciting memoir authors at the Odyssey! Rita Zoey Chin will discuss her book about the sudden onset of severe panic attacks. Over the course of treating them, she has to deal with her own past as a runaway. Mira Bartok confronts schizophrenia in a poignant literary memoir about family and mental illness.


Saturday, October 31st
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at All Day
Halloween ComicFest
Comics! Comics are the best way to transmit information into your brain! Particularly information like “check out this totally sweet alien vista” or “wow, what an awesome fight!” Kids who show up to Modern Myths in costume will get a FREE comic! Delightful! Demand candy as well, kids.


Thursday, October 29th
A MYSTERY? at 5:30pm
A regular meetup to discuss issues related to programming in PHP. We know little about PHP except that it’s famously horrible? Maybe other folks will help minimize that pain. This first meetup will be a place to discuss interests and plan topics for the next few months! Click the event link to join the meetup and see the meeting location!


Thursday, October 29th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Anime Club
Anime! It’s animation, and it generally is a thing that you can watch, should you choose. Many enjoy anime, do you? If so, come hang out at Palmer and talk with fellow fans. Open to teens and young adults 14 and up.
Friday, October 30th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Forbes Library Halloween Party
The Forbes Library Children’s/YA Room will play host to a spooooky gathering of ghoooooulish dancing and distreeeeeessing crafts also there will be a bunch of candy and a surprise of some sort!


Monday, October 26th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Movie Showing: Broken Brotherhood
The Northampton Committee to Stop War shows “Broken Brotherhood”, the story of a creation of a memorial to Vietnam Veterans at Colgate University. It’s primarily composed of interviews with people who attended in the 60’s, as well as their children. It provides an inter-generational view of a complex war and significant part of history.
Thursday, October 29th
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Halloween Fright Night: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds
Birds are terrifying enough without them actively attacking us. Those little hidden dinosaurs, biding their time. Their capacity for flight allowing them to conduct nefarious business in the skies, where we can’t follow… This screening is free and open to the public!
Amherst Cinema [28 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 7:00pm – 11:00pm
Science Fiction Double Feature Picture Show: Videodrome & The Thing!
Videodrome: a movie that while not always outwardly horrific is absolutely packed with distressing images and implications. The Thing: possibly the best “monster movie”? Tight, psychological thrills with a totally awesome set of practical effects for a totally awesome monster.
Friday, October 30th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School Street, Sunderland, MA 01375] at 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Gremlins Movie Night
Don’t feed them after midnight! Which, really, what does that even mean? Like alright magic shopkeeper, which midnight? Does it respect daylight savings? What if we travel? You’re ridiculous, magic shopkeeper.
Amherst Cinema [28 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 10:00pm – 12:00am
Special $5 admission! Ghostbusters, wow! A delightful romp about a team of unregulated capitalist monsters who re-kill our beloved gram-grams and shove them into a hell dimension. A heroic EPA agent stands in their way… but can he defeat these nefarious jerks?
Saturday, October 31st
Amherst Cinema [28 Amity St., Amherst, MA 01002] at 10:00pm – 12:00am
A second showing of Ghostbusters!


Sunday, November 1st
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Saga of the Icelanders
Iceland! It’s… almost the worst place in the world humans have tried to live? We definitely feel like they’ve managed to do a good job with the place but for real it’s one step off from living just in an ice cube. Tell your own story of the discovery and founding of this harsh land!
Thursday, October 29th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 4:00pm – 6:00pm
RPG Club
Create a character! Explore their adventures! Write a book, sort of, but it’s a really confusing to read book with a bunch of points where the protagonist behaves very oddly. Lots of fun, all ages welcome, no experience necessary!


Monday, October 26th
High Horse [24 North Pleasant St., Amherst, MA] at 6:00pm
SciTech Cafe: How to Navigate Environments with Toxins
How do we know what’s safe? When is a disease in a lab animal relevant to humans? What are we learning about the health impacts of flame-retardant materials? Why do we care about toxicity in snails? Sasha Suvorov, associate professor of Environmental Health Services at UMass Amherst, will tell you!
Thursday, October 29th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 2:00pm
Cookies with a Curator
Archivist Julie Bartlett Nelson will present “Genealogy Treasures” for Family History Month! And you’ll get cookies, how neat is that? Also “archivist” sounds like a fantasy-world occupation.

Video Games:

Sunday, November 1st
The Quarters [8 Railroad St, Hadley, MA 01035] at 7:00pm – 10:00pm
MAKE TALK PLAY: GlowLime Games
Did you know Hampshire College has a student run startup game-development studio? How awesome is that? Hampshire is awesome. Isaiah Mann will be discussing what makes this little studio such a neat idea! Students making real things outside of a classroom. Excellent, and interesting!

October 12th – October 18th

XMen49CoverThe Valley Nerd Watch!

First of all, some sad local news. In case you were not aware, the Platinum Pony experienced a very intense fire last Monday night. No one was injured, as it took place after the close of business. Because of the damage, the Platinum Pony will be closed until former notice. If they need community support to rebuild, they’ll ask and we’ll let you know! For now, they’ll update about performer relocations and the like. Here’s hoping they get back on their feet quickly and put on more fun events!

So hey on a totally different note: it’s Halloweentober! The creepy month of scary things. You know what you should do during the month of Creeptober? Read a bunch of comics that are about monsters and all that jazz!

Local artist Lex Cornell is a good place to start! She draws a bunch of comics, one of which is the charming “Welcome to Enigma“, which we bought at TopatoCon. It’s a comic about a town full of monsters who are all really nice and a young man who believes monsters are fairy tales finding out that oh wait no they’re totally real and totally rad! Well… it ends before he comes out and says “whoa all these people are rad” but it’s obvious to the READER that monsters are rad. It’s light, it’s a quick read, and we were charmed.

Not a local, but we have definitely got to recommend reading Emily Carroll’s amazing work as well! She does just… really intense, really impressive stuff. Her monsters are not rad! They’re scary and distressing. Probably our favorite stories of hers are “Out of Skin“, on of the most distressingly illustrated works we’ve read, and “His Face All Red“, an understated but very creepy tale. You can pick up some of her work from local retailer TopatoCo!

Finally, kind of splitting the difference between terrifying and funny, there’s Abby Howard! “The Last Halloween” is a rollicking horror-adventure-comedy. Abby’s art style works incredibly well for this cross-genre storytelling. It’s as light and fluffy and cartoonish as it needs to be to sell a dumb joke, and then it turns around and presents real freaky horror monsters just when you get comfortable! Super nifty across the board.

So yes, read all those comics. Also probably re-watch The Thing? That’s a heck of a horror flick.

As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!


Board Games:

Saturday, October 17th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Board Game Playtest
Are you a fan of board games? Want to help local designers refine their work? Come to Modern Myths! Local board and card game designers will have beta test games available for playtesting! Try something new, and help people out with feedback! If you’re a local designer and want to demo, send a message to Modern Myths!
Sunday, October 18th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Sunday Heroclix
Heroclix! Fun little collectible super-person fight miniatures. It’s a little bit streamlined and you don’t have to paint them! Or get to paint them, if you’re the sort of person who likes painting minis. Although you COULD paint them, we suppose…
Saturday, October 17th
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at Mystery Time
Star Trek Attack Wing
We’ve never played the attack wing games, but they seem really well-made and entertaining. Though really shouldn’t the Star Trek variant be composed primarily of rolling “make passionate speech” die and maneuvering into position to reach out a hand of friendship across all worlds.
Sunday, October 17th – 18th
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at Mystery Time at All Day
Kings of War Demo
Kings of War! A miniatures game. We really don’t super understand how to differentiate between these sorts of rule systems, but it seems fun? Wow could there be fewer orc/elf/dwarf fantasy wars though. You can bring your own models, but there will be miniatures in the store to learn with for free!
Saturday, October 17th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 10:00am – 2:00pm
Palmer Scholastic Chess Tournament
For any student attending the Palmer Public Schools! The games begin at 10:00am, and it’s a 4-round Swiss system. Entry is free, and you get a trophy for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each age bracket! Fun times. Bring a lunch!


Saturday, October 17th
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 10:00am – 12:00pm
Traditional or Independent Publishing?
Join Steve Strimer of Levellers Press, Zane Kotker, a nationally acclaimed fiction writer, and Dusty J. Miller, a non-fiction and mystery writer for a panel about publishing! How to get your work out there and what challenges await, from experienced people!
Tuesday, October 13th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
May Alcott spends her days sewing blue shirts for Union soldiers, but she dreams of painting a masterpiece. she moves far from Massachusetts to make a life for herself with room for both watercolors and a wedding dress, can she succeed? And if she does, what price will she pay?
Wednesday, October 14th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
A stunning collection whose remarkable characters intersect in life-affirming and heartbreaking manners. A 1930’s Soviet censor painstakingly correct offending photos, a chorus of women recite their stories, two brothers share a fierce and protective love. A captivating work from a great new talent!
Thursday, October 15th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
You might say risk… is his middle name. Probably gets that literally every single moment of every day. A shooting in Central Park is the impetus for an investigation into a cast of complex characters. When a blackout hits, all of their lives will be change forever!
Friday, October 16th
South Hadley Public Library [2 Canal St., South Hadley] at 7:00pm
A master creator of heavy-hitting novels for young readers presents his newest book. This novel presents the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter.
Sunday, October 18th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
Moderated by the Jones Library’s own Young Adult Services Coordinator, Garrett Pinder, these three authors will discuss their most recent novels. They’ll also give some insight into the strategies and techniques they use to craft compelling characters that resonate with readers long after the end of their books!

Card Games:

Saturday, October 18th
Worlds Apart Games [48 North Pleasant Street B2, Amherst, MA 01002] at 12:00pm – 7:00pm
Standard PPTQ & Modern GPT Pittsburgh
Ah, our old friend Pittsburgh the elf. Back again, Pittsburgh wants you to try your skills at Standard Proud Princess Training in Quarterstaffs, and Modern Grand Pleasant Times! There are a ton of prize packs, and buy-in is $30.


Thursday, October 15th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Queers in Comics & Games
A monthly discussion group meeting the third Thursday of every month, discussion topics such as LGBTQIA+ representation in comics and games. It’s a nice group where you can talk and listen and get great recommendations! Admission is a $5 Day Pass which you an immediately redeem as store credit.


Thursday, October 15th
Last Call Media [136 West St., Suite 01, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm
Western MA Drupal Meetup
Are you a Drupal developer? A website person who makes those websites with Drupal, the website making development kit? Well, why not talk to other people with similar skills and interests? Trade tips, make connections, generally have a good time! Drinks generally to follow.
Friday, October 16th
Packard’s Bar – Library Room [14 Masonic St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 8:00pm
Northampton Webdive – After Dark
Do you code? Why not talk to other people who code? It’ll be a good time, you’ll meet some new pals with similar skills and interests. Also, this one is After Dark so it’s all sultry and dangerous. Maybe you’ll solve a murder AND get mixed up in some sort of star-crossed love affair?
Saturday, October 17th
Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center [Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA] at 10:00am
Workshop/Bootcamp: Design Thinking: The Fundamentals of Human-Centered Design
A half-day workshop about designing using rapid prototyping and innovative thinking, including a bootcamp where you can try out the process! You’ll learn how to inspire and steward a culture of creativity in your team and how to create sustainable and effective design solutions.


Saturday, October 17th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Quidditch Club
Quidditch is extra-appropriate during the most magical month of the year! They play the muggle version, because most of the kids around here can’t fly yet. You can also take classes with Professor McGonagall! For kids ages 6-13, rain or shine!
Thursday, October 15th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Anime Club
Anime! It’s cartoons, mostly from Japan and with a much higher awesome cyborg average than most Western cartoons. Come talk about anime, manga, and whatnot with some other folks. Open to teens and young adults, 14 and up.


Friday, October 16th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School Street, Sunderland, MA 01375] at 6:00pm
Hocus Pocus Movie Night
Hocus Pocus is SUCH a strange film. It’s a Halloween classic, but wow. So many little slightly distressing and surprisingly child-inappropriate bits. Still, we always make sure to give it a watch during October!
Sunday, October 18th
Mystery Location Shown Only to Members
Hello, McFly! Back to the Future Movie Night!
Join the friendly folks at the Western Mass Sci-Fi club as they welcome Marty McFly to the future with a viewing of Back to the Future Part II. Why the 18th, instead of the 21st? The 21st is a Wednesday. It costs $5 to attend, and you need to sign up for the Meetup group!


Sunday, October 18th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060] at 1:00pm – 5:00pm
13th Age RPG
Try a fun D20 RPG! It’s been praised by a lot of folks for having a really interesting and well-crafted set of non-combat systems. And really, as fun as it is to bash goblins, the most entertaining part of playing RPGs is figuring out those interpersonal moments.
Thursday, October 15th
Palmer Public Library [1455 North Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069] at 4:00pm
RPG Club
Come hang out and roll up a character! Go on adventures, take daring risks for incredible rewards, and have a fun time with some other people telling an exciting story.
Friday, October 16th
Chesterfield Scout Reservation [22 Sugar Hill Road, Chesterfield, MA]
Magestry LARP Autumn Game 3
Magestry! Adventure, mysticism, and bewonderment in our lovely Valley! This is the penultimate game of the season and they’re putting out a general call for the maximum number of NPCs! Be a villain or a monster and stand in the path of the brave heroes as they bop you repeatedly! Sounds kind of awesome honestly. NPCing is free, and they feed you! Even doing it a few hours would help out. Contact if you’re interested.


Thursday, October 15th
Greenfield Public Library [402 Main St, Greenfield, MA 01301] at 3:00pm – 5:00pm
STEAM Events for Kids
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math! Learn and have fun at the library every Thursday with a guest presenter. Who’s presenting this week? It is a mystery. But they will be delightful, that’s guaranteed.

Speaking With Editor Josh Yearsley

Josh is a professional editor living in Northampton who works on games and science literature. He’s edited over two million words, which is pretty cool. Some of those words have reached top journals such as Nature, and you’ll find plenty among shelves of your local game or hobby store—he’s checked, he’s that vain. You can find him at!

James Olchowski: Hello!

Josh Yearsley: Hello also!

JO: What made you decide to move to the Happy Valley?

JY: Well, I was moving away from another Happy Valley—State College, Pennsylvania—and I basically just wanted to move without feeling like I was actually moving, so this fit the bill. But really, a good friend of mine moved out here to work at UMass and told me how great the area was. I was not disappointed. There’s a true community here with a real, bustling, varied downtown and lots of interesting people. People are invested in where they live. Not everywhere’s like that.

JO: Is there anything about the area that you think is uniquely conducive to your work?

JY: This area has an astounding number of people interested in and actively developing tabletop games, so that’s amazing to be around. Make Talk Play is just one example of how many accessible game-makers there are out here. Mass also has tons of universities, so there are plenty of opportunities to partner with university presses. Given, I could do that from anywhere, but being close by is a plus.

JO: Currently, you work primarily as a professional copy-editor. What drew you to the profession? Have you always been… a stickler?

I’ve always been intensely interested in how systems of various sorts work, and that includes language. I like craft, and I like supporting others in refining their craft. Editing is the perfect mix of all those interests. Also, in grad school everyone thought I was weird for enjoying the thesis writing and revising process, so that was a hint.

I remember my mom telling me as a kid to never start a sentence with “me and,” and I stuck to that advice like gum to a sidewalk, so I was certainly a candidate for becoming a stickler. But when I became a professional editor, I changed my views. There’s a pretty pervasive idea that editors are sticklers, but I’m anything but. There is incredible variety in the way that people write and speak, and most of the time it serves English-users poorly to be a stickler.

More important than following the “rules” of English is context and readership: Is this a government report that will be read by people who might not speak English as a first language? Best to hold very tightly to conventions. Is it a work of fiction, and I’m looking at the dialogue? The conventions of written English barely apply there. The best definition of a “great editor” I’ve ever heard comes from the blog The American Editor: “A great editor is someone who ensures that a reader understands the editor’s author.” My allegiance is to the reader, not the pitchfork-waving rules stickler.

JO: Is there a particular reason you chose to leave academics behind?

JY: Fear is the mind-killer, and boy did academia make me feel fearful. Multi-year projects that might not even give useful results? Check. Little to no chance of a tenured position once I graduated? Check. The American professorship is dying, and I didn’t want to be a casualty. I love furthering humanity’s knowledge, but I also need a reliable career. [It’s never too late, grad students – Ed.]

JO: What sorts of work do you edit?

JY: The vast majority of my work is in games and the sciences. In most of the science work I do, the authors don’t speak English as a native language, so editing their work is mentally exhausting, so I try to change up what I work on from day to day. I could be working on a 300-page book or a five-page paper. I could be working on a game about cats saving their owners’ lives with magic or a paper about constructing sensors from DNA. The variety keeps me fresh.

JO: What’s your process when it comes to working on an editing project? Do you set up shop in a coffee shop with a typewriter?

JY: Takka-takka-takka! Wow that would frustrate people in a hurry. Almost all the editing I do is on the computer, usually just a Word document, then maybe looking through a paper copy at the end. So yes, quite often you’ll find me in Sip Cafe in Northampton. I like getting out and being surrounded by people. I’m also part of Owl and Raven, a Noho co-working space, to vary things up. I need to change where I work throughout the day to keep my mind focused.

JO: So you’ve done a lot of science editing. What do you find are the most common problems you encounter in science writing?

JY: Science writing tries its best to be objective-sounding, but most of the time it backfires horribly. Authors try to pull themselves out of the work, writing things like “It is believed that…” when what they mean to say is “We believe that…” Generally they avoid the active voice like the plague, often leaving the verb way at the end of a long, convoluted sentence. Hedge words are also super common— stuff like “perhaps,” “possibly,” and “somewhat,” which are perfectly appropriate but often piled atop each other in ways that obscure the core message of the writing.

JO: Why is it important to have independent editing of a scientific work? Why not just rely on peer reviewers and an ever-present cloud of fear and shame?

JY: Editors and peer reviewers serve different purposes. Peer reviewers ensure that the science is sound; editors ensure you can read the science without wanting to stab your eyes out. If the peer reviewer has a hard time understanding the science, they’ll ask the author to get an editor. Given that, though, as an editor I often find errors in the science because I’m editing papers in fields of my academic background. So when I find those mistakes, I point them out, but it’s not my main job.

As I mentioned before, most of the science work I edit is written by non-native English users—mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Indian authors—and English is the de facto international scientific language, so ensuring that researchers can actually read and understand the science published is, to understate it, important.

JO: You also edit a lot of tabletop games and rulebooks, are there challenges that come with editing game content?

JY: Absolutely. Rules can be some of the hardest text to edit correctly because the language has to be close to perfectly specific. There’s a particular breed of game-player known as the “rules lawyer,” who try their hardest to find and exploit loopholes in the rules, and there are pages upon pages of people on the Internet arguing over the meaning of particular rules. I’ve seen well-respected publishers put out errata (corrections) for games that are a dozen or more pages long because rules are so easy to write unclearly.

Rules are technical documents, so in them you create this new, technical language. You start compacting complicated concepts into single words or phrases—for example, “exhaust a card” (meaning “flip it sideways, and you can’t un-flip it until this time”) or “spend a token” (meaning “you remove the token from your play area, but it is not removed from the game”)—and you have to be extremely vigilant to use that new language clearly and consistently.

JO: How much input do you have in terms of actual game content? Do you ever clarify a rule out of existence, or point out an issue in the text that changes the way the game is designed?

JY: That depends on what I’ve been hired for. If I’m working as an editor, then ideally no: the game design should be done when it gets to me. That said, as an editor I have found plenty of rules or clarifications that are superfluous or repetitive, so they get cut or folded into other parts of the text. Sometimes, though, I work as a rules consultant, where my job is to assess whether the rules are designed well and support the game’s goals.

The consultant role usually comes in if I’m working with a larger company with lots of resources. For example, I’m the head editor of Evil Hat Productions Fate Worlds & Adventures line; each World gets a rules consultant, but sometimes issues slip through their capable hands, so at that point I take off my editor hat and put on my consultant hat, fixing those problems to keep the train rolling.

JO: You play an enormous amount of tabletop games. Do you have a favorite?

JY: My favorite, at least recent, game is Space Cadets: Dice Duel. You play as crewmembers of a spacecraft that is trying to blow the other spacecraft up—that’s the premise. To do this, you’re all rolling these sets of dice in front of you to try to get certain patterns: the helmsperson is rolling directions to move in, the shields officer is shifting the shields around, and so on. And the twist is that everything is some in real time: you’re all rolling and placing these dice at once! So it’s madness, and you’re all trying to control that madness. The ships are jetting around and people are yelling and screaming “We need to turn around now!” and “Load torpedoes into the rear bay!”

JO: If the friendly, variegated readers of the Nerd Watch could play only a single tabletop game for the rest of their long and happy lives, which would you have them play?

JY: What a tough question! Publishers, I’ll be accepting bribes. Anyone?

But seriously: Eclipse. It’s an incredibly deep, compelling, dramatic game about building space empires. There’s diplomacy, backstabbing, grand plans, wild turnarounds, amazing strategy. It’s got it all. Given, it’s a long game—a few hours, at least—but if you have the time, check it out.

JO: What was your introduction to tabletop gaming? Do you still love that game?

JY: Hmm, I probably had two introductions. Back in middle school and early high school I played a lot of Magic: the Gathering, that giant of a card game, and Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. But my first true “modern” tabletop game was Carcassonne, a tile-laying game about the French countryside. I honestly haven’t played Carcassonne in a long time because I played it so much back then, but if someone asked to play, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes!

JO: Are there any errors in my preceding questions, and can you fix them before this goes to print?

JY: Errors, errors everywhere. So many errors. That’ll be three thousand dollars.

[Dangit, James! This is the costliest interview yet. We told you to stop making deals! – Ed.]

October 5th – October 11th

XMen47Int1The Valley Nerd Watch!

We’ve had an excellent week, everyone! Thank you for being happy for us. So first of all, hey Star Wars and/or miniatures fans: have you tried Star Wars Armada? It’s a miniatures game and it’s a heck of a fun time.

Basically the fun part of it is the fact that you’re controlling big old terrible battle-cruisers that move at a snails pace and turn on like several hundred thousand dimes laid out end-to-end. So you wind up in situations where you have no choice but to ram your danged Star Destroyer into an asteroid field, or another Star Destroyer! And we say Star Destroyer because we assume our gentle readers, like the Nerd Watch itself, understand the strong force-choking based leadership of the Empire is necessary to keep the outer systems in line.

It’s also got lovely dice. We don’t tend to notice dice in games, but the three different classes of eight-sided die in Armada are wonderfully designed. They’re just random enough that you can have the occasional thrilling flub or amazing success, but on average they’ll do a bit of damage. It means you can easily predict what will happen and maneuver for reasonable probabilities while leaving the door open for some fun surprises. Plus there’s just something really fun about picking up a big handful of different colored dice and knowing oh dang this is going to be awesome.

Also you can kill Luke Skywalker and end that pesky rebellion before it starts.

Also! We’re pretty excited to say that soon, very soon, the Nerd Watch will extend beyond the petty borders that constrain it! All the way to the far-off land of Maine! We’ll update as things actually happen, but it should be cool!

As always, be sure to check out the Weekly Events page! There are a lot of fun things happening this and every week! And don’t forget to check out the updated Book Clubs List!



Thursday, October 8th
Jones Library [43 Amity St, Amherst, MA 01002] at 4:00pm – 5:00pm
ARPS – Jones Makerspace
Alright so we know what a makerspace is, right? It’s what we call arts and crafts areas now that we’re in the cyber-future. So without any description on the actual event, we can only assume it’s the Amherst Rocking Psychedelic Syber makerspace.
Saturday, October 10th
Comics n’ More [31 Union Street, Easthampton MA 01027] at 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Easthampton Art Walk
Join the fine folks at Comics N’ More for a good time walking some art. Take some of the lovely photos from Glowworm photography on a stroll about town, we assume. Let them mark their art territory? This metaphor got away from us.

Board Games:

Saturday, October 10th
Burger King Community Room [344 King St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 12:30pm
Tabletop Gaming Day
Tabletop games are great because they allow you to stare your opponents right in their lying eyes and just dare them to try to make a move. Oh yeah, you think you’re clever don’t you? We’ll see who’s clever. Mostly they play Euro strategy games, but they’re open to whatever you’d like to bring! Beginners are welcome!
Off the Wall Games [41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035] at All Day
Highlander 40k Tournament
Alright it took a bit of digging to figure out what the heck this is but basially Highlander is a format of Warhammer 40k where you take only one of a troop type, possibly to prevent strategies people think are boring? Either way, hook up with the fine folks of the 131 and play the day away! Details here.
Sunday, October 11th
Wild Willy’s Games Galore and Table Top Emporium [424 East St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 3:00pm – 10:00pm
Sunday 40K Brackets
Warhammer 40K Bracket Tournament! One on one annihilation! You can submit your lists by 2:30pm Sunday if you plan on participating, and make sure you’re ready to fight for 3:00pm! There’s a $10 buy in with some excellent prizes! You have 1000 +/- 5 points, 0-1 unit choices, 2.5 hour rounds with 20 minute breaks. No formations, no lords of war, no super heavies!


Monday, October 5th
Odyssey Bookshop [Mount Holyoke College, 9 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075] at 7:00pm
Alejandro Velasco, “Barrio Rising: Urban Popular Politics and the Making of Modern Venezuela
Venezuela is… a complicated place at the moment. It used to be known in the region as a stable inclusive democracy, but seems to have fallen into turmoil. Alejandro Velasco will teach you why the conflicts today have their roots in the very beginnings of Venezuelan democracy, and how their basis is in a fight over what democracy should be in an unequal society.
Wednesday, October 7th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Earth and Cosmos: Nature Writing
A part of the literary series going on at Forbes, this one will feature Dava Sobel, author of The Planets, Jonathan Mingle, author of Fire and Ice, Michael Dover, editor, and Elizabeth Farnsworth and Katie Koerten, contributors to Earth Matters. It will be moderated by Forbes Writer in Residence Naila Moereira. Didn’t know they had apartments in Forbes…
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm – 8:00pm
First Wednesday Speaker Series: Leslea Newman
Local poet Leslea Newman will be reading from her new collection, “I Carry My Mother”. She’s the author of seventy books including picture books, middle-grade novels, poetry collections, and short stories. “I Carry My Mother” is a book-length series of poems that explores a daughter’s journey through her mother’s illness and death, and her own grief.


Sunday, October 11th
Modern Myths [34 Bridge Street #4, Northampton, MA 01060]
Comic Creator’s Jam
Come to Modern Myths to sit down and have a nice chat with a bunch of other people who like to draw, write, or otherwise work on producing comics! You can talk about how cool TopatoCon was, and how you can exhibit there next year!


Tuesday, October 6th
The Foundry [24 Main St., Northampton, MA 01060] at 6:00pm
Northampton Webdive – After Work
Are you a coder? A webber? Are you a spider that designs webs and places them in spaces? Are you one of the spiders that weaves the web by which we knit the world together? Meet up with your peers and talk about designing, coding, whatever is up! They’re nice folks.
Friday, October 9th
Bay Path University [Blake Student Commons, Longmeadow Campus, Longmeadow, MA] at 7:30am
An Inside Look at the FBI’s Cyber Division
Slap on your shades and get ready to code with a ‘tude, because we’re about to get C*Y*B*E*R with the coolest cats on the block: a large governmental agency! Join the FBI for the 3rd annual cybersecurity summit to hear about the new focus on cyber intelligence and cyber threats. No photos, video, or audio taping. Also, pre-register!


Friday, October 9th
Sunderland Public Library [20 School Street, Sunderland, MA 01375] at 6:00pm
Ghost Hunters
Presented by The Atlantic Paranormal Society, learn how to ghost hunt! Which is to say, how best to frighten yourself in a dark space by projecting outward the fears that gnaw at you. Well, that or you actually find some ghosts and they turn you inside-out for a lark, it could go either way.


Wednesday, October 7th
Forbes Library [20 West St, Northampton, MA 01060] at 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on the Lawn
When you think of it, doesn’t it make a lot more sense that the movie takes place entirely in the mind of Ferris’s sister? After all, the shenanigans of Ferris and the gang are so wildly unlikely, it would make sense if they were dreamed up by a frustrated student who wanted to escape.


Thursday, October 8th
The Nacul Center [592 Main St., Amherst, MA] at 6:00pm – 7:00pm
OEB Science Cafe: Gut Feeling
Gut Feeling: fostering a diverse and healthy microbiome! With Dr. Jeff Blanchard. Have you considered the waking nightmare that is your physical form? You’re basically a bag of horrific tiny monsters that are constantly killing each other. Learn more about the horror that is existence re: your gut microbes at this Science Cafe!