stones throw

I’m back in the Great White Wet North for the weekend, a couple hours away from a shift at my old job.

Desperate times, desperate measures, yada, yada, yada.

It feels weird. Amazing, but weird.

I’ve been gone about 20 days which, in the world of social networks, is no time at all. The hugs have been polite, the excitement contained to a dull roar.

Mikel’s back. Shocker.

That’s kind of the way it is with the locals. People who live here, the ones in it for the long haul, treat people that move like a joke. A punchline. A 50s sitcom husband yelling at the wife’s taxi cab, “Oh, you’ll be back! Mark my words!” And, honestly, it wouldn’t be the first time, I boomeranged back to the welcoming arms of Grand Marais.

But it’s different this time. I can’t go back to my apartment and have a cup of coffee on the deck–the family that moved in the day we moved out might not take to kindly to that. And I had to circle around the downtown a few times to find a parking spot! Where I used to just shake my head at those minivans that drove by me 4 or 5 times, taking the tour, waiting for a spot to open up–today I was that schmuck.

A tourist. Non-residential.

Even though I know my way around the town, and despite bumping into someone I know at every place I’ve stopped, there’s still something…wrong. The town seems to know I’m not one of them anymore.

Yeah, it hurts. A beautiful sword with a sharp edge. But, to be fair, I chose to leave.

For today, for the moment anyway, I’m camouflaged: with my locally-roasted coffee and my fresh baked rhubarb crumble from the farmers market, holed up in my favorite writing spot, the town probably thinks all is as it should be. A familiar ache in its knee.

Just here while it rains.

Gone tomorrow.

it’s been one week

Posted: June 10, 2015 in life
Tags: , , , ,

…since I moved to the Burbs. It is not as cool as the Tom Hanks movie led me to believe. I have had zero wacky escapades with over-the-top neighbors and solved zero murders.

It’s also been about a week since I left the house. Is this a product of running out of money, or anxiety about traffic? Let me answer that with a question: why do those things have to be mutually exclusive?

Newsflash: I’m still unemployed. I haven’t lost hope entirely, but let’s just say my fingernails are getting mighty short. On the upside, I’m getting to fulfill my lifelong dream of doing nothing at all. Which gives me plenty of time to jack into Lynda training like it’s the Matrix and simultaneously work on my short story contest entry.

There have been a couple wins.

1) I found a natural foods co-op comfortably close to my new place. Not walking distance, like in Grand Marais, but close. I was actually cheering in the aisles. When you’re in a strange city after 5 years of smalltown North Shore living, you have no idea how good it is to see your favorite brand of low-sodium, organic chickpeas.

2) I got a few hard copies of Badass & the Beast delivered yesterday. So I got to do my favorite thing in the world, which is sitting down in a comfy chair and vainly read my own work.

10406658_881230021947443_1962305797177047433_n

So other than being a pretentious asshole, I’ve spent my days sending out resumes and playing with my roommate’s dog. I’ve been out exploring. Found the closest watering hole and forced it to be ‘comfortably within walking distance.’ Today, I walked to Caribou Coffee and spent the last of my checking account on a Campfire Mocha. Totally worth it. What was I going to do with $8.49 anyway? Just kidding, it was slightly less than that.

Okay, so my funds dried up a little quicker than I imagined. I miss my friends on the North Shore. Yes, I said friends. The endless traffic outside my window is tougher to sleep through than crashing waves and seagulls. The temperature is not conducive to my epic hoodie collection. And establishing a routine has been next to impossible.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Ruts are for the birds.

All is not lost, but…I am gonna need a bigger win than organic chickpeas.

last day in grand marais

Posted: June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

tumblr_ls5ia2yb601qb87bqo1_500 Here it is. My last day in Grand Marais. My belongings are waiting for me in the new townhouse. Or stuffed unceremoniously in my car. And I have one night to say goodbye to everyone and everything this town has given me. So here I sit, sipping an organic coconut water from the Co-op, trying to get my game face on, listening to the “Pop Chillout” station on Spotify, tearing up when Mumford and Sons plays, and recounting all the things I did and didn’t do.

The day so far has been a mellow one. For a guy notorious for moving solely for the going away party, it’s been a pretty somber affair. Started the day with my favorite snack: a smores bar and locally-roasted Fika Coffee.

smores bar

Had a gyro and a beer up on the roof of Sydney’s.

Swung by the local book store and signed a copy of Coming of Mage–even got it a spot on the summer promotional display.

mage solstice

Sat in the harbor, taking panorama shots of the sailboats between the lighthouses.

wpid-wp-1433197909204.jpeg

Poked my head into all the little shoppes, knowing full well that even if I could afford another souvenir, it would split my little blue car at the seams.

I tasted the air. Chewed on my lip. Rubbed my eyes. Blamed it on allergies.

It’s not that I’ve never moved before. There’s been plenty of that. It’s that I’ve never left someplace I loved so much.

I think back to what brought me up there in the first place. It was about 5 years ago to the day actually. My Hollywood Video job was about 2 weeks expired. I had just finished up the mandatory class required to get unemployment. My lease was ending. All my stuff was packed. And even though I’d been telling people for weeks that “Yeah, my cousin’s working at a restaurant up north, so I’m going to go see if I can wait tables,” I still didn’t feel like I was moving. I’d been to Grand Marais briefly when I helped Wally and his family move. I remembered there was a gas station, and that it was cold. But I knew that I was going there. That there was no turning back. This was the path I’d chosen.

At first, it was a prison sentence. I lived in a frigid, cement basement. Most nights I would get just drunk enough that it wouldn’t bother me to scrape the spiders off the underside of my pillow. I served food in a busy, understaffed restaurant, pushing myself to the brink of a coronary day after day. I babysat. I stayed around the house for the most part. Waited for winter. I started this blog, and took this lonely picture out of the window in the living room:

100_1842

After a year, I figured out I was ready to bolt. I missed my friends. I missed Target. I thought I was ready to return to civilization. But I was wrong. And we all know how that turned out.*

*If you don’t remember the Fucklebees Saga, refer to my Facebook circa 2011.

So I came back to the North Shore and jumped in headfirst. I hiked, climbed, and did. And did. And did. And did. I stayed busy. I wrote a book. I wrote a lot. I embraced kale. I lost weight. I canceled my Netflix. I fell in love.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Why I’m leaving.

Truthfully, I don’t know. There were reasons–are reasons. It’s just that today I can’t remember any of them, other than that I no longer have keys to my old apartment.

It’s not like when I left St. Cloud. I’ve tried to channel 2010 Mikel in the last few days, but he’s not there. This place changed him.

But I try to remember how scared I was. Broke, unemployed, banking everything on the idea that the unknown was better than the present.

It’ll be different this time. There will be more traffic, for starters.

However, as of this moment–this tiny pinpoint where everything and nothing can change–I still have tonight. One night to find solace in my favorite haunts. To see everything I’ve grown accustomed to through a wet, salty haze. To laugh. To remember. To say goodbye.

To never forget.

#onlyinMN

Posted: May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

In a few minutes I’ll be heading to the Grand Marais Farmers Market. Just the thought lights me up like a Christmas tree. The fresh coffee, the baked goods–there’s this one lady who makes these, I don’t know…bars, I guess. They’re phenomenal–the birdhouses, the polished rocks, the crafts. I think if I’d have been scheduled to work today, I’d have quit my job.

A week early.

Yeah, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. I’m leaving the North Shore. Again. Why? Because it’s now or never. It’s truly now or never. I’m falling in love with this place, and it’s not the good love. It’s the “I feel so safe I never ever want to leave” type of love.

I mean, why do people leave anywhere, right? Greener pastures. The chance for your hopes and dreams to come true. The chance for adventure.

But for the last 5 years, I’ve had adventure. I’ve had more adventure than I could handle. I walked out my front door everyday into adventure.

Where am I going? Closer to the Cities. Not in the Cities, because that’s insanity, but closer. The job market’s looking good. The jobs I wanted to do didn’t even exist last time I was looking, so things are on the upswing. Economy. Family. Friends.

That’s the surface answer, right? The one you tell a stranger at cocktail parties. The truth is, I’m lonely. It’s extreme solitude up here. I used to want that more than anything. But now it feels like I’m hiding. Like I’m on the lamb, as the flatfoots might say. I’m not. I’m just a victim of the Grand Marais Bug. The endless lake that feels so much like an ocean, that when I finally visited the real ocean for the first time a month ago, I was like, “Yeah? And?” The bluffs and mountains that I drive through daily. The seemingly infinite rivers running off walls of red rock, trickling down and catching the sunlight. The foxes I see almost weekly. The look on out-of-towners’ faces–that jealousy–that I get to live here. Permavacation.

And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m not appreciating it as much as I should anymore.

But…I’m going to make it up to you, Grand Marais. I have one week. I’m going to explore every corner. Breathe deep at every stop. Drink in these last few moments as a resident. I’m going to put my phone down and just remember you the old fashioned way.

The town that saved me. The place that held my hand while I wrote my book. The spot on the map that I didn’t even know existed that made me remember what it was to be alive. I owe you one.

But first, coffee and some of those bar thingies.

“What’s your name, little girl?”

“Alice,” I lied.

“Well, Alice,” she said, steepling an eyebrow, “if you’re very quiet, I’ll show you a magic trick.”

BadassTourBannerMay2015< last stop: monica la porta                           next stop: shelly m. burrows >

flowchart

Awhile back I was approached to be part of a project that I didn’t even hesitate to say yes to. The Mission?

  • 1) Assemble a team of authors to create an anthology of stories with one thing in common: a badass female protagonist with an loyal animal companion.
  • 2) Donate all the proceeds to a charity whose cause was animal well-being.

I loved everything about this idea. Pure genius. Today, I’m very happy/proud/elated/stoked to say Mission Accomplished.

The aptly-named Badass and Beast launched last week, with all proceeds being donated to the Animal Welfare Institute. How awesome is that?

Also awesome? Because of my last name, I got top billing! Whoo! First story in the pack, y’all! I know most of you probably assume that I struck a side deal because of my massive ego, but really it just comes down to good ol’ alphabetical luck. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Oh, the story? I guess I can talk about that too. 

My story is called Follow the Fox. On the surface, it’s the story of one young girl’s quest to find the thief that wronged her, but as the mystery unravels, it’s clear there’s much more going on.

Additionally, if you’re a fan of Prohibition-era Chicago, steampunk hijinks, or just a good caper, this tale is for you. And, if you couldn’t tell from the title, this story contains the greatest creature ever: the fox.

silver-fox

My Spirit Animal

Long story short: if you’ve been craving a classic Mikel Andrews story, this is it. Or if you just want to make a purchase that you can feel good about, it fulfills that too.

Or you can try to win a copy here, along with some other sweet swag (like beer glasses, books, and $50 Amazon gift card! Whaaaaaat?!)

Buy an awesome book. Feel all the feels. Help some animals. Invest in some karma. Be a badass.

What are you waiting for?

options

*I also want to thank Kory Shrum and Angela Roquet for giving me the opportunity to tag along on this ride and for putting in some serious pro-bono editing hours. They are awesome–and conveniently featured in the anthology along with some major talent that I’m honored to share these pages with.

The Badass and the Beast Tour Continues!

May 5th            Kory M. Shrum
May 6th            Angela Roquet
May 7th            Kathrine Pendleton
May 8th            Monica LaPorta
May 11th          Mikel Andrews
May 12th          Shelly M. Burrows
May 13th          Liz Schulte
May 14th          Jason T. Graves 
May 15th          Jasie Gale

short story contest

Posted: May 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Just a quick post to remind any of you aspiring authors out there that Makeout Creek is holding their first ever Short Fiction Contest.

Makeout Creek is an indie magazine/publisher near and dear to my heart. Cool style, great vibe, and great people. And they want YOU! Possibly. If you have the chops. You have to have the chops, right?

1146750_10152955942593978_5672909084744901769_o

  • Judged by Tom De Haven, author of It’s Superman! and Freaks’ Amour
  • $100 prize + publication in Issue 8 + 5 copies of Issue 8 + Makeout Creek back catalog
  • Submission period: April 2 – June 2, 2015
  • Send submissions to submit@makeoutcreek.com w/ subject line “contest/title/author”
  • 4000 word max, any genre or subject or style
  • $6 entry fee, payable via PayPal to orders@makeoutcreek.com

**Please note: submission email is different from payment email**

Remember this little bombshell?

brinkley

So about 8 months ago, I was “interviewing” author Kory M. Shrum about her book series starring a certain undeadish young woman named Jesse Sullivan. You know, that seemingly-immortal snark factory of a girl that has made a decent living for herself dying in place of others for a job that’s half-FBI, half-insurance agent?

Uh, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, drop everything and go get the the book here. It’s FREE, by the way (because Kory rocks!!)

Anyway, at the time of that post, I had just finished book 2, Dying by the Hour, in which half the story is told by Jesse’s assistant/partner/best friend/sometimes more, Ally. It was pretty clear that Kory was into playing with perspectives, one of my favorite writer tricks. And, as I neared the end of my 20 Questions list, I threw out a wild card. It was just supposed to be innocent. For funsies.

Brinkley. Hint hint. ;) 

I nearly spit out my coffee. Like some sort of paranormal-fiction version of Woodward and Bernstein, I had stumbled upon a literary revelation. I’d inadvertently cracked a mystery wide open. I guess it’s true: sometimes you just gotta keep pulling the sweater.

But enough about me moonlighting as a book detective, let’s get to the meat and potatoes here.

dying for her

Hint hint indeed, Ms. Shrum. Almost 8 months to the date of that post, we get Dying for Her, a book told entirely from the perspective of James Brinkley, Jesse’s FBRD handler turned rogue agent. Well-played.

When I first read that infamous Post-It note, my first instinct was Wow. That’s gutsy. Taking a peripheral character, a character that I wasn’t all that invested in to be honest, and just about the only character without a cool power, and give us an entire book from his perspective.

Gutsy, to say the least.

But, having just finished Dying for Her, I have to say it was probably my favorite book of the entire series thus far.

Is it a true sequel? No, because a majority of it takes place in the past. So is it a true prequel then? No, because a lot of it catches up with the present, even going as far as fleshing out the events of Book 2.

So what is it exactly?

Well, I’d have to say it’s nearly the entire history of the world Jesse Sullivan lives in…except that it’s masterfully told as a hard-boiled detective novel.

Yeah, that’s right. All those ‘blanks’ you’ve been wondering about get filled in and you’ll be treated to great cop-noir to boot.

In all seriousness, Shrum really shows her writing chops with this one. Brinkley is a very layered character with a pretty heavy past. To think that his voice was written by the same person that gives Jesse her snark and Ally her sexy professionalism is almost unbelievable. And yet I was completely invested from page one.

Brinkley’s perspective shows calculated maturity and restraint, which really creates a perfect backdrop for Jesse’s recklessness and wisecracking.

And I think the most amazing thing about this book is that it’s told in flashbacks, interspersed with a countdown to an event that you already kind of know how it ends, and yet this was by far the most painful of the 3 books to put down. I was late for work at least twice because I couldn’t stop reading. That’s the hallmark of a great book.

More than the intrigue of character origins (which are in abundance), I think the riveting nature of this story is due in part to Shrum’s amazing worldbuilding skills. I’ve talked about this before, how real her version of the world feels, fully-realized. But taking that thoroughness and being able to expand it into a police procedural? That’s next level.

In Hollywoodese: it’s X-Files meets Law and Order: SVU with a twist of Die Hard. And it delivers on all counts.

Don’t wait. Brinkley’s story is available today, so pick your poison:

Amazon
Nook
Smashwords
Kobo
iBooks

Check out Kory’s blog, follow her on Twitter @koryshrum, and stay tuned to my blog for more from this amazingly talented author.

My love for Star Wars is like an exposed nerve in a way. On one hand, I’m very proud to show it off. If there was some sort of badge I could put in my wallet to show people how much I love Star Wars, I’d be flashing it at every pub, diner, and hardware store I wandered into. (The latter clearly being an accident.)

On the other hand, I’m so close to Star Wars that it’s hard to look at it objectively. When people ask which Star Wars movie is my favorite, I clam up. How can that be answered? That’s like asking which star in the night sky is your favorite?

How can you even quantify a piece of such a vast universe?

I’ve kept it kind of close to the vest but I suppose the cat is out of the bag: I’m going to Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim next month. It’s been a dream of mine since I knew what a convention was, one that seemed impossible, but now–knock on wood–it looks like I’ll be peeling back the curtain for a peek into the galaxy far, far away.

Truly, it’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan. We have a new movie on the horizon, spinoff movies, new shows and merch, and a new canonical storyline in place.

But that new canon also makes me weary. Star Wars books have been my go-to–my staple–since my middle school days. The Expanded Universe (now called Legends) was the closest thing I had to a soap opera. I followed Luke Skywalker and his friends for some 30 years after Return of the Jedi via those books, and all the while I was told it was the official history of those characters. Canon. Even Star Trek books didn’t have that cred behind them.

I bought and read every one of the New Jedi Order books…and loved them! Say what you will about the Yuuzhan Vong or Chewbacca being killed off in the first novel, those books are some of my most memorable reads and to me they’ll always feel real. Maybe even more real than The Force Awakens.

The New Jedi Order is where I first discovered Matthew Stover, one of my favorite authors. (If you’re not reading him, you should be.) And if it weren’t for Republic Commando: Hard Contact, a Star Wars book based on a video game that I had only watched from over a shoulder, I never would have discovered Karen Traviss and all the wonderful books she’s written. When I’m in a slump and haven’t read anything inspiring for awhile, I go to Amazon and search her name.

But it was with the Karen Traviss novels that my love affair with Star Wars lit became a little disenchanted. Not for the content of her books, but because of what they did to her.

Karen Traviss was the first author to be knocked completely out of the Star Wars canon, long before the EU became Legends.

Traviss’ Star Wars novels spanned decades–generations–within the Star Wars universe, all linked together by a cast of memorable characters, either invented or finally fleshed out by Traviss herself. It was a gutsy move, linking all her books together in one way or another, but it proved to be a work of true genius.

And, ultimately, fatal.

I’m still not entirely sure why exactly they needed to undo her work. It had something to do with The Clone Wars animated series and the history of the Mandalorians, but with one fell swoop all her books were no longer considered canon.

As a Star Wars fan I was devastated, but as a writer I was hurt.

I contacted Ms. Traviss after reading through all her Star Wars books via email, just to tell her how much I loved them, how some of them actually brought me to tears, and how I would follow her writing career wherever it went. She sent me a lovely email back, telling me thanks, but that, at the end of the day, it was just a job. A very Boba Fett-esque approach.

A job she wasn’t fully compensated for either. But that’s another story, and a punch-in-the-gut to any author. Surely Fett wouldn’t have taken that sitting down.

In the end, I think Traviss took the high road. She updated her site with notes on where her stories and characters were headed (oh yeah…did I forget to mention they clipped her wings mid-series?) and politely asked her followers not to ask much more about it. A lot of Star Wars fans pretended she never existed. Her name in relation to Star Wars is often paired with an eye roll or a groan, but her diehards will never forget her awesome contributions to the Star Wars universe.

This row with the canon nearly killed my fandom. It was just too close to the heart, writing-related and all. I boycotted The Clone Wars show for a long time, and didn’t read much of the Star Wars literature that was released post-Traviss. It just didn’t seem very interesting. Maybe it wasn’t, or maybe my palate was soured.

While this was a regrettable moment in Star Wars lit, Traviss has gone on to do some amazing work for franchises I never would have glanced at otherwise: Gears of War, Halo, even G.I. Joe just to name a few.

And fortunately Star Wars literature seems to be on the upswing. I’ve finally accepted that all those countless hours and dollars I spent following the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han post-cinema are only Legends now. Mara Jade is a thing of the past. A ghost, and I don’t just mean of the Force variety.

But there is a new hope, so to speak. As Celebration (and the The Force Awakens) draws closer, the list of upcoming Star Wars books grows larger. And these promise to be official, canonical, and in the vein of Our Beloved Wars.

For now, at least.

But I can’t help but drool over the upcoming Aftermath, a direct continuation of Return of the Jedi, written by one of my Twitter favorites, Chuck Wendig. Or Lords of the Sith, what I lovingly call a “Star Wars Buddy Cop Flick” featuring Vader and the Emperor busting skulls side-by-side, written by perfect guy for the job, Paul S. Kemp.

In my mind, the existing Star Wars novels won’t be uncanonized until the new movie premieres. So until then, I’m going to spend the rest of 2015 reading those Star Wars novels that I never quite got around to. If you want to catch up as well, I still stick by my original list of great Star Wars literature, and would add these as well:

Allegiance Revelationcover Shadows_of_Mindor_cover

 

Until next time: Don’t stop believin’ and may the Force be with you.

 

When you think about what makes Mikel Andrews the man he is, Star Wars inevitably comes to mind. But there is a small window of time that not a lot of people know about. Just an awkward phase in middle school where I experimented.

With Star Trek.

Obviously there’s a huge rift between the fans of the Trek and the Wars, but personally, I’ve never really understood it. One’s science fiction, and one’s fantasy. Two totally different things. Take out the similar setting, and the two couldn’t be more different.

But, truthfully, I have gone out of my way in life to associate myself with Star Wars. It’s cooler. It’s more fun. Star Wars is the lovable family dog of space movies, and Star Trek is the bristly cat.

Today, however, I set aside my preferences, to remember Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock. The man who invented Spock. The man we say goodbye to today.

Let me take you back a few years.

In my heart of hearts, I knew Star Wars was cooler, but that didn’t stop me from latching onto Star Trek in 7th grade. In 6th grade, I was this lovable scamp with a stylish bowlcut, a backpack full of Star Wars books, and a Girbaud shirt that I leaned on a little too heavily.

7th grade, however, remains a very different story. I was chubby. That’s putting it nicely. Let’s just say I was really into Hawaiian shirts that year. I had just turned 13, so puberty was about 8 or 9 years away. I was a depressive loner so desperate to be in the “in crowd” that I barely have any memories that don’t involve me scheming a way into their lunch table. Or parties. Or their section of the wall at school dances. Sobbing over not receiving an invite. Befriending teachers. Typical teenage girl stuff, right?

But there was one thing that was mine: my weird fascination with Star Trek. And not even The Next Generation, which I think was still airing or at least being talked about amongst the normals. I was straight up into the original cast. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The original bromance. I watched the Star Trek motion pictures over and over and over, and when I wasn’t watching them, I was reading the books based on them.

I remind you, this was almost exclusively confined to my 7th grade year. I always found that weird.

Today, however, when I heard the news of Mr. Nimoy’s passing, I felt a little tug in my chest that I hadn’t felt in a long time. An immortal had fallen. And it hurt.

I remembered an aspect of that time of my life I had sealed away. I was obsessed with Spock. Any episode, movie, or book having to do with Spock was at the forefront of my fandom. I remember rubber-banding my fingers to train my hands to do the “Live Long and Prosper” gesture.

Hey, man. Desperate times called for desperate measures, after all.

I stopped short of shaving my eyebrows at an angle.

I don’t know what it was about Spock. As aliens go, he was pretty lackluster, and as characters go, he was pretty plain on the surface. But his icy logic struck a chord with me.

In hindsight, I think it was his ability to control his emotions to a scientific degree. The struggle always brimming beneath his surface to appear cold and calculating. At a time when my hormones and emotions were exploding like fireworks, here was  a guy that could bury those things, achieve greatness, and live nearly forever.

Nearly.

Plus, Spock’s comebacks were always the best. Sometimes just a flick of an eyebrow could convey more than dialogue ever could. He was the Jim Halpert of the Enterprise.

(I know what you’re thinking: He’s the Dwight. I disagree. My essay on comparing the crew of the Enterprise to the cast of The Office is forthcoming. Right now, we’re paying tribute to greatness. Bear with me.)

Maybe that was it. Maybe in 7th grade, my emotions were my own worst enemy, thus making Spock my hero. Sure, Han Solo was cool–that was the problem. He and I would never relate on a certain level. Spock, trying not to burst into tears over a personal tragedy, was basically my theme song. And still is, some days.

Well, the woman with the notepad is telling my time’s almost up, so as I get up off this couch, I will bring it back around.

Mr. Nimoy, you gave me strength during a time when nobody else could. Your contributions to the realm of science fiction have been numerous, and your contribution to a kid trying to get through math class were even greater. Thank you so much for sharing your character with us.

You have been, and always shall be, my friend.

famous-last-words--20110808023332582-000

 

I strive to paint with broad strokes when it comes to Trivia Weekend. Make the ethereal attainable, without spoiling the mystery. I do, however, wish I had the ability to capture like a photograph, some of the details of Trivia Weekend. The exacts. The minutiae. The history. But I’m the artist, not the scientist.

But I also got the scientist.

So for even more coverage of KVSC’s Trivia Weekend, we go to local meteorologist Anthony “The Prestige” Dunkel, founding member of Enjoy the Man Explosion, already on the scene!

Mikel

dunkel_prestige

12 Years A Trivia Weekend
A Write-up by Anthony Dunkel

Wow. A dozen years of Trivia Weekend. How can I even sum up 600 hours of this madness in words?! Well, I’ll try, but with nowhere near the eloquence that Mikel paints with his wordbrush. Comparing us is like comparing our trivia team to Stefan’s Dream (the 3-time defending champion and now all-time TW victory leader with 6). But I’ll do my best!

Since our team’s inception in 2004 in Hill-Case Hall, I look forward to Trivia Weekend each year almost as soon as the previous one ends. This year however, I was PUMPED for this sleep-deprived, caffeine-riddled, snack-fueled marathon of mindless questions more than probably any other. That’s because last year I was painfully absent, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my best friend. Now, to 99.9% of the population, a frigid weekend indoors vs a tropical vacation, that’s a slam-dunk no-brainer of a decision. I am the 0.1%. It pained me to miss last year’s festivities. Agonizingly, I wrestled with abandoning my team for a good 3-4 days before I gave the go-ahead to my friend. That’s how much this weekend means to me. I wasn’t a complete no-show last year however, I was there for the first 14 hours before I had to leave. And as if almost right on cue, the final question asked before I headed out the door to the airport was a meteorology question regarded storm chasing. The looks on my teammates faces as I blurted out the answer and walked out the door was one of heartbreaking amazement. Mic drop.

Anyways, I anticipated this year’s festivities with such gusto I haven’t felt in years. I stockpiled snacks. I secured our annual cache of Utz cheeseballs. I stared at the Visual Trivia images until they were burned into my retinas. I brought my giant white-board that we use for question tracking, which thanks to technology is becoming obsolete, but is still used as a writeable monolith for pertinent info. Also this year, we had a new teammate, Kell’s girlfriend Kate. I wondered how she would handle her inaugural entry into our timeless sleep-deprived tradition, and a couple of times I could tell, as she gazed at us from her comfy chair perched near the front door, that she thought we were all completely bonkers for doing this. However, she was awesome all weekend, from making us food to finding us answers…but not at waking people up. More on that later.
As far as Trivia Weekends go, this year’s went extremely smooth. There was no “OMG THE INTERWEBZ IS BROKEN!” or “OMG MY COMPUTER ISN’T CONNECTING” or “OMG WE CAN’T GET THE RADIO SIGNAL!!!” moment that nearly derailed trivia contests in years past. There was a “OMG THE BASEMENT IS KIND OF FLOODING” moment Friday morning, but luckily didn’t affect the weekend. A couple teammates couldn’t be with us this year, due to having a baby, or as we call it, Trivia Weekend 2027 MVP. There was the annual “let’s all go to the store and stock up on supplies” run just before it started. The annual “We gotta eat this obscenely large tub of cheeseballs before Hour 50″. The annual “are we sure we have enough soda to get through the weekend” even though we had enough Mountain Dew and Surge to fill up a bathtub. The annual “Mikel’s already making photoshopped memes before the contest even starts”.
Then, it begins.
Even with all of our traditions, we always find new ones. This year we all decided to do shots every 5 hours, one of which earned myself a spot on the Top 5 Best Tweets of #TriviaWeekend list.
dunkeltweet

Team Ireland joined via Flowdock which was a HUGE help to our squadron of Google monkeys, especially during the early morning hours. Every available surface was covered with empty soda cans that would make an outsider think they walked into a geek version of “Signs.”

Incredibly, after a strong Hour 1 and a super-rare, for our team anyways, Perfect Hour 2, we were in a 3-way tie for 2nd. A mere 20 points behind the Trivia Weekend jauggernaut that is Stefan’s Dream. WE WERE UNSTOPPABLE! This would be the year that Enjoy the Man Explosion! would not only have 50 hours of fun, but we’d also make the trivia elite’s sweat our very presence! Yeah that lasted about 40 more minutes as the trivia gods doled out question after brutal question and we slowly slid down the rankings into the 20s. The dream… was dead.

We’ve gotten better at sleeping in shifts over the last couple of years, so that there’s always at least a few people up and burning the overnight oil (including myself, since I’m a machine, according to Mikel anyways). Sunday morning brought some mild entertainment to myself as Kate went to wake Kell up… and never came back. Then Mikel went downstairs to wake Drew up… and never came back. Team Ireland had gone to bed hours before… and hadn’t woken up yet. For 3 hours, I held down the fort, writing down the questions, Googling what I could and calling in the answers. Even got a rare 90pt question right while everybody else was sleeping. THANKS FOR NOTHING TEAMMATES! I earned that lonesome Hour 35 shot all by myself! It’s all in good fun though, There was something zen-like about being a one-man trivia band for those 3 hours. I figured it was penance for my absence last year. Okay guys, I learned my lesson. Now please don’t do that again next year. Please? Pretty please?!

Our final ranking has never been of any concern to our team, we never really care where we finish up (A very respectable 29th out of 64 this year!). Trivia Weekend isn’t about that for our team. I look forward to  spending a weekend non-stop with some of my best friends. An entire weekend of laughing at Kell’s NSFW answer guesses when our real one was  cruelly shot down. An entire weekend of laughing at Mikel’s meme creations. An entire weekend of sustaining myself on cheeseballs and Mountain Dew and Pizza. An entire weekend of cheering and high-fiving each other when we pull a uber-points answer out of our ass. An entire weekend of laughing at the phone bank volunteer’s silly code names (Steaming Pile, Not Wearing Pants, etc.). An entire weekend of just leaving the real world behind and entering this protective bubble where  time stands still, and this group of trivia-loving buddies just gets to enjoy our time together. That’s REALLY what Trivia Weekend is all about. It’s never really been about the questions persay, it’s the fact that they give us the opportunity for old friends to bond, new friends to join us…and single-handedly make the Magnolia Manor Nursing Home in Columbus, Georgia stop answering their phones for an hour. Seriously. This is what Trivia Weekend does to the country.\

There was “Mogubgub, Mo Problems.”

There was the 2hr wait for pizza Saturday night, because apparently pizza is a hot commodity on Valentine’s Day.

There was myself becoming “The Prestige”, due to Mikel never figuring out how I just appeared at my desk at one point.

There was all of us laughing hysterically at a monkey flailing on a typewriter GIF, due to Lorilei having a concerning amount of increasingly hilarious typos throughout Sunday. (Honestly, I can’t remember laughing at anything so hard during a Trivia Weekend before. You had to be there).

When-Someone-Gets-so-tilted-playing-against-me-that-they-just-start-typing-random-letters-into-the-chat-box-to-get-out-their-frustration

There was Mikel and I battling one another for the love of Maddie, somebody we only knew through Twitter who played for an elite team. Sadly, Maddie chose her boyfriend. How rude.

There was the sheer elation as Kell completely, randomly guessed an answer for a 250-point question, and nailed it.

There was my teammates eagerly anticipating my apparently iconic “thumbs up” when I’m on the phone with the answer bank, signaling a right answer and those delicious trivia points.

dunkel

There was the audio speed round hour… that was nothing but people screaming in terror and getting eaten.

Most of all, there was the knowledge that in 52 weeks, we’ll all be right back here, doing it all over again. And I can’t freakin’ wait for it.

For more witticisms from this raving lunatic:
And for more coverage of Trivia Weekends past, check out: