My dramatic return to STAPLE! is nigh. (Yes, I said "nigh.") I'll have a table in the exhibit hall. It's a great show in a great city. If you live anywhere within 200 miles of greater Austin area, I'd recommend making the trip. I'm planning to have copies of ONE NIGHT STAND (a nicer 6x9 printing through Lulu). We're still fine tuning the complete ASTRONAUT DAD graphic novel. Hopefully, we should have it ready by March. Beyond that, of course, I'll have copies of ANTIGONE, KARMA INCORPORATED, and EMILY EDISON. I'd like to bring some of my other writing, but I'm not quite sure how I'd present it. I received this update from Uncle Staple, the founding father and organizer of the annual event.

Greetings from STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo!

We've been working hard to make this, our 8th annual show, the best one ever, and have lots of big announcements to make.

Once again STAPLE! will be two full days, March 3 & 4, 2012, of awesome exhibitors, programming and fantastic special guests!

Guests like:

Cullen Bunn and Bryan Hurtt, are creators of the critically acclaimed horror-western comic The Sixth Gun, from Oni Press, and their previous collaboration, The Damned, a story of prohibition-era gangsters and demons, is being developed into a television series by Showtime. Cullen's writing has been published in novels, Marvel Comics, and dozens of magazines and anthologies. Bryan got his start in comics working on Greg Rucka's Queen & Country. We're very excited to have these awesome up and coming talents joining us at STAPLE! Visit them online at and

Kagan McLeod is is a Toronto-based illustrator whose work has been published in magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Time, People, Glamour and GQ. His debut graphic novel Infinite Kung Fu, an epic homage to chop socky films of the '70s, was published by Top Shelf Productions last year. It has been named one of the best graphic novels of 2011 by Publishers Weekly, Heeb Magazine, io9, CNN, Comic Book Resources, Complex, USA Today, Forbidden Planet International, IFC, ComicsAlliance, 11o'clock Comics and the Graphic Novel Reporter. See Kagan's amazing work at and

This year we'll also be hosting a panel discussion entitled Women Who Do Webcomics featuring these terrific artists:

Monica Gallagher, designer, illustrator, and comicker from Baltimore, and creator of Gods & Undergrads, Boobage, Lipstick & Malice, and Bonnie N. Collide. She currently finished illustrating a full-length graphic novel for Oni Press!

Liz Prince is creator of the Ignatz Award-winning comic Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? and Delayed Replays (Top Shelf Productions). She also draws comics about music for the website If You Make It and the magazine Razorcake, and more at

MariNaomi is the author and illustrator of the graphic memoir Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22, and self-published seven issues of Estrus Comics (1998-2009). Her work has appeared in I Saw You: Comics Inspired by Real Life Missed Connections and Action Girl Comics. She has regular columns on (Smoke In Your Eyes) and (Frisco al Fresco).

Full guest bios and more at

We've got lots more exciting stuff in the works, so stay tuned for more news coming soon and be sure to like us on Facebook


My friend Erica Stephens is working with my other friends at ArtLoveMagic to host an exciting event called the Creative Kids Art Show Gala 2011. Here's the press release:

On December 19, experience an unforgettable night as the Hilton Anatole, along with the freestyle art squad from the Just-Us League, presents the Creative Kids Artshow Gala 2011! Two worlds collide when members of Dallas’ edgy underground art community join Dallas socialites for an evening you won’t want to miss. Beneath the Nebula in the atrium, a diverse assortment of artists from the Just-Us League will be working in various mediums creating several holiday-themed pieces in only 111 minutes! Then, to top off the night, all eleven artists will come together to create a larger-than-life portrayal of a snow-frosted landscape of downtown Dallas. Completing their first collaborate mural on January 11, 2011, these artists pride themselves on coming together “for the power of one,” - this diverse crew of professional and amateur artists deeply roots itself in the number one. The Just-Us League’s founder Jerod Alexander was the artist behind an eye-catching wall mural in the current Gaultier Exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), and has since been commissioned to create the official Gaultier show poster that will be sold in DMA gift shops until February 2012.

All pieces created that evening will be available during the live auction, with proceeds benefitting ArtLoveMagic (ALM), a non-profit organization that produces free art workshops for children in Dallas through their Creative Kids Art Supply Fund. At 10PM there will be a special presentation on the Jade Pavilion by the celebrity host and the Anatole’s general manager Harold Rapoza to JUL and ALM.There will be surprise performance acts by dancers and musicians alike in addition to all of the live art creations, and all of this spectacular entertainment will be amidst the opulent Christmas decorations that the Hilton Anatole will have up throughout the month of December. The month-long Christmas at the Anatole celebration has an assortment of events, food and drinks, and special packages that have been custom tailored for this time of year.

We know you’re curious, so come watch this motley crew of underground artists come together for charity at the Hilton Anatole on December 19, 2011 from 8PM – 12AM. A live DJ and cash bar will be available for entertainment and cocktails. The event is free, and complimentary valet is also available at the Tower Entrance.

There's an event link through Facebook, but I can't find it right now. You're smart and capable. You can find it.


I'm back at the Koltanowski Conference. Since I’m cheap, I found a loophole to parking at the expensive Anatole Hilton. I parked across the highway near the Renaissance hotel in a vacant lot, and made the trek to our conference. Take that, expensive parking lot. At the beginning of today’s first session, Alexey Root told everyone she would distribute a pdf of the presenters' lecture notes. It should be available on the conference website. However, I still want to take my own notes as well.

9:10 AM Chess Training -- Chouchanik Airapetian is from Armenia. She wanted to show us the approach of the Russian chess school, and how it may apply to working with a diverse population in the classroom.

Five things that students need to be successful in chess: 1. Some kind of motivation to play outside of the chess club. Don’t call it “homework.” Call it “extra practice.” 2. The student needs some talent. 3. Parents who are helpful and act as promoters. It’s good for them to be in the classroom. 4. I missed #4. (Maybe I do need that pdf after all?) It was something to do with financial resources. I think. 5. Have a coach with tournament experience

9:15 AM You need a variety of ways to teach chess, because the students will lose interest if you only have one approach. Set aside time at the end for fun. Yes, allow them to play bughouse.

9:20 AM Instead of grouping by letters (group A, group B), group them by players names (Polgar group, Fischer group). Cute idea.

Also, give them a chance to work with their friends.

“Maybe they could do shorter trophies and more?” There has been a lot of talk these two days about concerns with rewards/motivation for scholastic chess. During the morning break, I talked with one presenter about using and adapting the karate belt system. The ELO point system stinks, because the kids can lose points and that can be hard on young players. With a belt system, they work to achieve a particular criterion or standard, and the belt can’t be taken from them once they earn it. It is a marker of progress, not just a reward with diminishing return. The “belts,” for lack of a better term, should take time to earn. Random tangent, but it’s an interesting topic to consider.

9:25 AM Chess teachers should be good all around teachers, as well as coaches. It seems that the number of girls in chess is declining, but we don’t know why specifically that’s happening. It’s helpful for girls to have peers in the club. One thought is that girls aren’t responding well to the aggressive competitive nature of boys. Our presenter has even noticed boys manipulating the rules to their benefit. Coaches need to be aware.

9:30 AM The study Airapetian references indicates that it might be helpful to have a “girl’s only” club. In those instances, the girl’s club was just as loud as the boy’s club. Airapetian isn’t too comfortable with the segregation, but there may be benefits too.

She is a big promoter of boys and girls playing together in tournaments. She’s doing graduate study on why girls leave chess clubs.

Referencing Lazlo Polgar, “geniuses aren’t born, but made through hard work.”

9:35 AM During the question and answer time, we discussed the disparity between boys and girls in chess. One participant mentioned testosterone as the prime factor. However, I referenced my dear friend and ex-wife who competes in roller derby. Girls can certainly be aggressive. I think it comes down to economics. More boys can make a career out of sports, while girls can’t do it as often. The money isn’t there. Girls enjoy sports, but they can’t carry it much further beyond college.

9:40 AM Chess Training and Motivation Our next presenter Lior Lapid grew up in Israel and now lives in New Mexico. He enjoys coaching chess more than playing it. “I believe in the benefits of chess.”

9:45 AM Chess dropouts. It’s a beautiful game. Why do we lose the kids as they get older? Fact is chess can benefit all ages. Anecdotal, but “I’ve never met a chess player with Alzheimer’s.”

9:50 AM This presenter has a lot of personality and enthusiasm. He’s nice to listen to.

Chess is not “cool” enough, but we could emphasize teenage status symbols such as letterman jackets, or bring more girls into the game, or play more speed chess/bughouse.

Meno’s Paradox: How will you inquire into a thing when you are wholly ignorant of what it is? Socrates’ answer: We learn through recollection. Theory: This information is stored within us. (Or as I often say to my Creative Writing students: “The entirety of the human experience is contained within you.”) Lapid says we should really stress the Socratic method in teaching chess. Children are capable of more than we give them credit for.

9:55 AM Lapid references the Chase and Simon study, regarding pattern recognition. Grandmasters are much better at remembering piece positions in “normal chess games.” However, in a non-standard chess position, their memory of the position is no better than anyone else's.

Lapid likes bughouse, but with place-mate and no capturing kings. He also mentions Swedish Chess, which I’ve never heard of before.

Put positions on a card, and place them in a hat, they must draw the cards and solve.

10:00 AM Verbal thinking: thinking in words versus calculations of variations. Do we think in words? I think so. We need to enforce constant articulation of thoughts and encourage debate. Students who do this are better at internalizing the knowledge.

Have the students name their own openings. The openings may be crappy, but who cares? You can also have the club collectively play a game against the teacher. It allows them to discuss. “Some of my moves will be good, some will be bad, you must put on your thinking cap.”

Start with the most basic and essential knowledge. Do not teach aspects of chess in isolation.

Regarding openings, teach a wide variety of openings. If they stick to one opening, they won’t learn the diverse patterns found in a chess game. (Probably good advice for me too.)

10:05 AM With middle games, you should focus on disaggregate learning. Focus on one thing at a time until mastered. Activity: Assign lawyers to defend a side in an unbalanced chess game. Mock trial. I really love this activity.

Good chess will require some solitary deliberate practice, not always fun. However, studying with others is more enjoyable. It’s good to have a facility. (Yes, it is.) To make chess fun, have a chess party.

Regarding tournaments: Unrated tournaments are fine. Some kids are better at dealing with loss, but others are completely demoralized. They leave the game. The challenge is to keep them engaged until a certain age where chess will become a lifelong pursuit.

10:10 AM Having chess heroes is a great idea, just like in sports. We need to lionize our top players.

Chess is an art, and it needs to be taught as an art. Be creative.

There is a lot of humor in chess, a rich history. You should immerse yourself in chess humor. Koltanowski: Mate in one, castling vertically.

11:00 AM Chess as an Integral Part of School Culture -- Took a short snack break and now we’re back. Eric Henderson and Fernando Moreno are the presenters. Their school has a high poverty rate and mobility rate (students move in and out).

11:05 AM We watched a slide show with photos of their program. There’s quiet music playing on the slide show, which I can barely hear, but it sounds relaxing.

An interesting component of their chess program is that they use in chess with the counseling program.

In New York City, their grants have focused on interscholastic chess competition. In the Maryland model, they used their chess as a component of No Child Left Behind, more internal. “I’m not sure you could actually do both. It would take more resources.”

11:10 AM Fernando asks for a volunteer rated above 2000. He asked her to play a game with him, but gives her a list of the moves she has to make. “Not fair,” she says. “Ah. Life is not fair.” Our presenter wins. His point: Everything in life can be used for your own advantage.

“I’m a school counselor. I talk about feelings? Wrong.” He uses chess puzzles and examples in his counseling. The chess pieces are employed as a metaphor for life situations or the skills we have. The chess discussion produces meaningful interactions.

11:15 AM “A simple chess position can teach anything to a kid.” It allows kids to take responsibility for their own decisions.

11:20 AM He gave several other chess/conflict resolution examples. All very interesting. Each lesson matched counseling and guidance objectives. Pawn in your face? Walk past and advance.

Many counselors use puppets and other tangible examples. First Fernando has to teach the students chess so that the pawn life lesson works.

11:25 AM He offered a personal example of a kid who stole a chess clock. Fernando went to his house to ask for the clock. Next day, they talked about it. He used Legal's Mate as an example. It’s a great opportunity (taking the queen) that blows up in your face with mate.

11:30 AM To further study these counseling techniques, the school would need more research money, which he doesn’t have. He has a book and is willing to share his personal findings with anyone.

11:35 AM Boy Scout Merit Badge, Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis -- Alexey Root cracked the whip to stay on time. Alex Vergilesov shares about his experience of immigrating to the United States and learning the language.

11:40 AM He works for the CCSCSL as scholastics coordinator, and talked about the merit badge opening event (which I attended). He encouraged everyone to become a merit badge counselor so we can help more Boy Scouts learn chess. One of my Martin Chess Club students is a Boy Scout and wants to get this badge. I’m going to help him.

11:45 AM There are 4.5 million Boy Scouts. That’s a lot of potential kids who could play chess.

It’s easy to register as a counselor online, two forms to complete that includes a criminal background check. Click here for more information.

11:50 AM CCSCSL is a membership-based chess club and a 501c3 that offers weekly lessons and tournaments. They work closely with area schools to promote chess. They distribute information to parents, administrators, and teachers to generate interest, host an “adopt-a-school” program. He doesn’t necessarily look for teachers with a chess background but needs people with education experience. The instructional program is activity-based, hands on.

11:55 AM The program has grown with over 900 students involved. 80% retention rate. “It takes at least six hours to be tournament ready.”

12:00 PM Claire Grothe stepped forward to talk about World Chess Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame opened in Saint Louis on September 9, 2011. (Once again, I was there.) She shared the mission statement, which has evolved since its move. The Hall of Fame wants to reach a broader audience of people who would attend museums. It has a rotation of exhibits on the first and second floors.

12:05 PM She shared a photo of the Yoko Ono chess set, which was my favorite piece on the first floor, along with other art pieces.

12:10 PM Working in collaboration with CCSCSL allows field trips and other visits to be more holistic. They also worked with HBO, Saint Louis Art Museum, the symphony, and Saint Louis University among other organizations.

Claire apparently timed her presentation perfectly. Well done, brave presenter. Like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, etc.

12:15 PM Lunch break. I need to walk back to my parking spot on the other side of the highway. I’m getting exercise.

2:05 PM I’m back from lunch. I ate at Chipotle. I was running a tad late, because I also stopped by the World Beer Company to purchase a 64 oz growler, and I had to make the walk from my secret free parking spot.

Our Move: Using Chess to Improve Math Achievement for Students Who Receive Special Education Services -- There’s a packet. I always like when they have a packet.

2:10 PM Starts with a video about his school’s math program. “Using an old game in a new way.” The presenter David Barrett joked about how one student in the video didn’t use the touch rule. Barrett also had some flashcards and other learning items available for us to check out.

2:15 PM Barrett discovered his resource students had done just as well as the gifted/talented students. “The kids who learn differently are the ones who are marginalized.” It gets worse as they get older. The achievement gap increases with each year. These struggling students have trouble in a traditional classroom. They don’t have the skills and strategies to learn effectively. So much of the gaps are in areas that “scream chess.”

2:20 PM Barrett’s study built off another study that dealt with transfer. High road = specialized cognitive skills that don’t transfer, versus low road = skills transfer, i.e. driving a car, you can drive other cards and not just yours.

Barrett looked at students in resource math classes, middle school. He’s talking more about his sample group, but I missed some of the details. I’m sure I’ll get more about the study when they send out the conference pdf.

2:25 PM He evaluated course grades and TAKS scores. The participants ended up being 31 students -- sixteen on the comparison campus and fifteen on the treatment campus. More numbers are flying by on the power point.

2:30 PM These kind of studies can always be tricky, because it’s difficult to control other facts such as social issues, economic background, and what’s happening in the classroom beyond the chess intervention. The test he issued also didn’t have many items per tested objective. And it was a small sample of participants.

Things to consider: the loss of regular mathematics lessons could, at the very least, be compensated by the chess lessons. This isn’t a causal study. It would be difficult to presume the cause of results where students improved in certain areas.

“Educators need to make research-based decisions.” We can’t say emphatically that this proves the benefits of chess. However, it opens the door to further study especially in the area of students with learning disabilities.

2:35 PM Barrett ended with another video. “There’s a lot of distractions on the chess board itself.” Helps students to learn to focus.

From Q&A: With economically disadvantaged students, chess is a level playing field.

2:40 PM Now Tim Redman is cracking the whip to bring on the next presenter.

Magnificent Seven: The Power of Narrative in Chess -- The presenter is Selby Anderson, editor of Texas Knights. Narratives are powerful tools. The Magnificent Seven is a good analogy for developing the seven pieces (minus the king). The pawns are the villagers. The term “pawn” literally comes from the word “farmer.”

2:45 PM Rather than throwing your famers into the battle, you want your “magnificent seven” to fight.

We use narratives all the time in chess. For en passant, it’s especially helpful because it’s such an odd concept. He gives an example of where the new rule was needed to keep things fair. In that historical context, en passant makes sense.

Narratives about the origin of chess are exciting. “It’s your foot in the door to humanize chess.”

2:50 PM Redman and Anderson discussed the origin of the empower queen in chess. Fascinating exchange. One leading theory is that the queen was empowered to speed up the game and compete with the popularity of card games.

2:55 PM All this talk about the Magnificent Seven makes me want to go home, open my growler, and watch the Seven Samurai. That has nothing to do with chess. It just sounds nice.

3:00 PM From Q&A time: We need to move away from the “genius myth,” i.e., that chess is exclusively for geniuses, because it pushes away teachers who are intimidated by the game and students who worried they will be made to look dumb. We should emphasize the social aspects as well. Redman: “This genius myth really hurts us.” Anderson, talking about his students: “Chess is not really about deep thought. You just need to pay attention.”

3:05 PM Anderson mentions about a five-year-old autistic girl who was finding amazing chess tactics at a camp.

Coming up next will be a plenary session. However, I’m calling it a day.


I’m attending the 2nd Koltanowski Conference on Chess and Education. I was going to live blog the event. However, since I can't find an open Wi-Fi connection, I’m doing a pseudo-live blog. I’m typing it now and will upload it once I get home (UPDATE: I'm home). It's a two day event. Maybe tomorrow you'll get a more authentic "live blog" experience, if I can find a Wi-Fi signal. I'm sure Hilton Anatole has available Internet. But like everything else, they will probably charge $1 for every minute you use it. I'm still a little bitter because I paid $16 to park there for three hours. Next conference, can we meet at the Howard Johnson? Here we go:

9:30 AM Brooklyn Castle -- This session is about the Brooklyn Castle documentary, which has been three years in the making. The documentary was inspired by KINGS OF NEW YORK, written by Michael Weinreb, which I recently read. Instead of focusing on the Murrow school, they decided to film the P.S. 318 School with all their triumphs and struggles. (P.S. 318 acts as a feeder school for Murrow.) We just watched the trailer, and yes, I got a little teary eyed. P.S. 318 partnered with the Chess-In-The-Schools organization. It’s exciting to hear how the whole community rallied around their chess program.

9:45 AM Elizabeth Vicary is a full-time chess teacher at their school. She gets to work with the students every day. Since there’s no set mandated curriculum, she has more flexibility. The kids stay motivated because students see the direct results of their learning in the weekend tournaments. They also get very competitive with each other, and that challenges them to work harder. Banners, trophies, announcements in the school, all support and encourage the students since they see how the school values them.

9:50 AM The opportunity for travel also acts as incentive. P.S. 318 is a title one school, so many of them have never been outside of Brooklyn before. However, because of their financial situation, the kids don’t tend to be involved in 50 others things. When they get an opportunity, such as this chess program, they stick with it.

9:55 AM In contrast to all the negative press about schools, this documentary is about what’s right in public schools. One DISD employee asked the presenter about Elizabeth’s full time paid status. However, it wasn’t really a question. I think she was just envious of a paid position.

10 A.M. Advances in Cognitive and Neurosciences: Impact on Educational Chess -- The topic title of this session is a little intimidating when contrasted with the more heart-warming Brooklyn Castle presentation. Lipschultz argues that chess is not more pervasive in schools because we haven’t done enough research into the cognitive benefits of chess. Need more science to support claims. Right now, much of the support is anecdotal.

"Executive Functions" in cognitive thinking consist of control and the ability to regulate behaviors, specifically goal-directed behavior and to adapt to situations. Such abilities include flexibility, inhibition, working memory, problem solving, reasoning, planning.

How important are these executive functions? More important for school readiness than is IQ. (Boom, take that IQ!) Also, it’s a major determiner for success in life.

10:10 AM New Zealand study showed that kids with low self control were vastly more likely to have poor health and more likely to have a criminal record later in life. Self control: impulsivity, conscientiousness, self-regulation, delay of gratifications, and other things... but the power point moved too quickly, and I couldn’t type it all. I need to work on my note taking skills.

Cognitive problems in low-SES (socio-economic standing): deficient factual knowledge and cognitive development, decreased ability to learn. The brain is a very plastic organ. It shapes according to its environment. Possibly related to genetics, parenting, stress, nutrition, etc.

10:15 AM Now Lipschultz is talking about Marx, Webber, Lewis, and animal lab studies. Basically, it stinks to be poor. Language skills are always the most significantly effected. All effects become more pronounced as the kids get older.

Someone next to me keeps mumbling “mmm,” “uh-huh” as if she completely gets these charts and neuroscience graphs. I’m getting the general gist, but nothing more than “lines go up” is good, “lines go down” is bad.

10:20 AM Interesting study about how middle-class students are better at filtering out unnecessary and inaccurate stimuli. All interesting, but how does this relate to chess?

There is support that we can reverse cognitive damage done by poverty. We can train the brain, skills transfer. Chess skills transfer to other skills. It might, but it hasn’t been proven yet. Aerobic exercise robustly improve executive functions, especially martial arts and mindfulness training more than other P.E. activities. A traditional martial arts group that focused on mindfulness had better results. Modern martial arts that focused on competition actually had worse results.

10:25 AM What about chess? Interventions can improve executive functions, but there is no perspective data available. Grandmasters are no smarter than other people, average cognitive skills, and normal memory for other matters. Grandmasters do not consider more moves. Instead, they see the best moves faster. In other words, becoming a master in one field makes you a master in one field. We have to be careful when we boast the effects of chess. Training in one skill does take away from time spent in other fields.

10:30 AM Low SES kids will take to chess just as easily as middle class, more than in other cognitive fields. There is no disparity. It should aid low SES students in their executive functions. Although, it hasn’t been proven... yet. “Yet” is the official word of this presentation.

10:35 AM You have to increase the level of difficulty and need more time to enforce the skills regularly -- a chess club meeting once a week will not do it. If we can target their self-control impulses, it will directly benefit them in life, more than just teaching them math.

A key component is the student’s willingness to devote time to the activity. Programs need to include stress reduction techniques.

Implementing “chess education” from a niche activity to a standard activity; many programs fall short. And it's about the process, not the outcome. They need ample practice time, mentoring (works very, very well). Tournaments should not be the best model to center everything around. They may need to be a better model for competition.

10:40 AM Break! I had a chance to sneak over to chess store and drool over the sets, boards, and books.

11:05 AM Chess Clubs -- I'm in another Lipschultz session. Smart guy. He shares a little bit of his life. In the post-Searching for Bobby Fischer era, the PTA enlisted him to start the chess club. He was overwhelmed by the turnout, and looked for software tools to help him. There was a paucity of programs, so he decided to write his own. Several years later, he’s still working on the Think Like a King software system. Uh-oh. I’m worried I may have stepped into an infomercial. Fear not. There’s stuff to learn. He’s developed a program called Major League Chess, which he referred to as a game changer. The phrase “game changer” is so last year.

11:10 AM His program works to manage chess clubs and transitions students from chess as an activity to chess as a sport and a productive educational tool. How much chess should they learn to get the benefits? Enough chess to be a master is not necessary. They should possess basic knowledge and be able to apply that knowledge to a real chess game in a thoughtful fashion, consistently.

Chess books in the middle school require a great deal of commitment. Computer-learning on the other hand is a much better technique. Think Like A King was the first program of its kind, according to Lipschultz. It has various “drill and kill” activities to teach basic concepts of chess.

11:15 AM He wants to move students from random players to focused thinkers. The amount of text is limited, but the reading level is high to challenge them. “Teaching chess will not teach them to read. Teaching them how to read while teaching chess will teach them how to read.” The chess program offers immediate rewards (points) and feedback.

11:20 AM “Teaching chess is a precise activity.” Thus, you must not just teach chess. It’s the process, not the subject. Actually, this session isn’t too bad because it feels like a follow up and nature progression from the previous session. Yes, clearly, he wants to sell the program, but it’s also the natural praxis and the theory presented before.

The students learn how to integrate knowledge with the activity.

11:25 AM My mind is wandering now. I’m thinking about the chess store. Do I really need another chess book? I should probably finish one at home first and then reward myself with a new book. Stay away, David. Save money. Where should I go for lunch? I’m near Oak Lawn and Lemon. I should visit Zeus Comics and then grab lunch. The conference organizers gave us a really long lunch break. As a teacher, I normally make a mad dash to 7-11 before getting back in time. Maybe Eatzi’s?

11:30 AM Illinois Chess Association reviewed all the major testing tools and said very nice things about Think Like a King.

The club manager aspect of the program can be assigned to a responsible kid. You build a roster. It will track wins and loses within club games, creates a club rating system. Students take it much more seriously when there’s a score attached. However, you shouldn’t overdo the competition. Instead, think in terms of reward and motivation. Through the program, you can print certificates and other performance rewards. Beyond certificates, students can also earn “thinking belts,” similar to belts in karate, based on their progress in the computer program. Since other kids can see their peers’ improvement, it offers group motivation.

11:35 AM And we’re back to the infomercial. It seems great, but I was hoping for more about how to build a chess club, and not simply how to use their software. Oh well.

11:40 AM Regarding Major League Chess, it's an alternative to OTB tournaments, redirecting the competition to online tournaments.

11:45 PM Update on the presentation: They lost a presenter, but Jerry Nash will step in to discuss more about scholastic club chess. Wow. It’s like the read my pseudo-live blog from 11:35. Spyware?

Lipschutlz continues to stress the de-stressing of OTB tournaments, which may not be for everyone. I can’t decide how I feel about this. Kids need to experience successes and setbacks. I think it’s healthy, and yet tournaments can be the biggest logistical problem for organizers.

Major League Chess can also be used for home schools and adult clubs. On his power point, he forgot a period at the end of the sentence “You are in control.” Sorry. I notice these things.

11:50 AM Think Like a King has a free light version. It’s also in a free beta-mode until January. There will be an annual subscription starting next year, assigned a school ID number.

11:55 AM When an older adult says “web browser” and clearly emphasizes each syllable, it makes the adult seems even older. “You will open your... web browser...” It’s as if the concept needs to be given a second to fully embrace. Oh. A web browser. Fascinating. OK, now, I’m just getting snarky. Eatzi’s sounds good.

12:00 PM Jerry Nash takes the stage. He began his chess club as part of a grant that was awarded to a district. “Many scholastic chess programs may be just one person away from extinction.” That’s a pleasant start (note sarcasm), but true. If I weren’t at Martin High School, I wonder if the club would still survive. I’m also helping at Swift Elementary and through Chess Club of Arlington’s kids program. We clearly have a leadership shortage.

12:05 PM Clubs need the support of all the different groups within a community. It starts as a grassroots effort, but becomes more difficult as you attempt to move it forward and try new things. If it wasn’t mentioned at a national middle school or high school conference, then it doesn’t exist. Chess needs credibility at the top levels.

12:10 PM Teachers and chess club sponsors need to be able to explain what they do in a way that meets the criteria school decision-makers are familiar with. We have to make the case.

12:15 PM Jerry Nash: “One of the ways you can help me to find a way to help you...” I just had a Jerry Maguire flashback. “Help me help you!” Jerry Nash is a USCF spokesperson, and his presence is heard even if he’s saying the exact same thing that the teacher is already saying.

One participant asked about funding. It was cool to see other people immediately sound off on options for her club. US Chess Trust offers five free sets to any school that asks.

12:20 PM Lunch!

1:52 PM Returned from Eatzi’s. I had salmon and mixed vegetables. I also stopped by Zeus Comics to see Barry and Kelly. Both awesome folks.

2:00 PM Differentiated Curriculum -- Leah Martin-Dagher came to chess as a “chess parent.” She saw the value of it in her own children. They were working in a charter school. She was excited about having one hour, once a week, and they didn’t nearly have enough equipment. However, the program caught on. Students wanted the pieces and to interact over the board.

2:05 PM One hour a week of chess enabled her principal to show off the program to parents visiting the school. The obstacle has always been traditional curriculum established by politicians. How do we integrate chess into the classroom “legally”?

2:10 PM Teachers can use chess as a bridge to students with gaps, dyslexic students and students with dysgraphia, e.g., solving problems through a reverse situation. They break the problem down into understandable segments.

The students naturally gravitate to the chessboard. (I can attest to this. I have trouble keeping my students away from it.) However, teachers must work with the kids at the board and not simply allow the kids to go “free range” with it. Schools have chess sets, but the teachers don’t always want to mess with it.

2:15 PM Every presenter, so far, has confessed to not being a great chess player. In other words: “I’m just like you. I stink at this game. I’m not part of that chess elite.”

It’s a quiet group after lunch.

Other countries, such as those in Europe, have routinely included chess in the schools.

“Chess has adapted to technology as well as any activity or sport. However, the early stages need to be facilitated by a teacher or mentor.” You can’t simply sit the kids in front of the computer, but the technology does allow greater interaction.

2:20 PM The presenter specifically tutors children on TAKS skills. She believes all of these kids would benefit from chess instruction. She has said that chess can offer differentiated instruction, but I’m missing the specific examples and application.

Question and answer time: Apparently, she has a website with helpful lessons and applications. (See? Once again, I’m wondering if the powers-that-be are following my pseudo-live blogging.)

2:25 PM An attendee congratulates the presenter on de-emphasizing tournament chess. And another attendee adds his two cents. (People aren’t really asking questions. It’s more an open share-fest.) Struggle: “It’s not about the grade. It’s about the learning.” That’s a challenge. We need to think about intrinsic motivation for work and learning.

2:35 PM Our second presenter of this session handed out a booklet titled “This chess atmosphere supports the you touch it... you move it... rule!” Are the ellipses really necessary, especially the second one? Sorry for noticing.

2:40 PM Her focus will be on how does chess connect to life-long learning and social skills. She’s throwing a lot of the benefits onto the power point, but it’s a lot of stuff we’ve gone over already: planning ahead, time management, flexibility, critical thinking. We’re familiar with the benefits. After flipping through her booklet though, I saw some interesting material I might use next week at Swift Elementary with Kennedy’s chess club. Score.

“Learning how to win with dignity and lose with grace.” It’s a good life lesson. Chess also allows for follow up. Students will start discussing their games and what they could’ve done differently. As teachers, we don’t always do enough follow up. Chess is well-suited for follow up.

2:45 PM “If you have follow up with that kid, you have self improvement with that kid.” Very true. How does chess foster creativity? (Study by Robert Ferguson, 1979-1982) There’s a substantial increase in creativity.

Emotional development. There are certain kids who no one wants to play with because they are obnoxious, but they ultimately get included. “Seeing outcomes based on input. What I put in is what I get out.” When you are accountable, you are open to change. Presenter gave an example of a student who lost a game, but was elated because he was able to use algebraic notation throughout.

2:50 PM There is a “chess language” among the students, which is a combination of encouragement and teaching.

Chess enhances social skills. In particular, we emphasize the value of a good handshake. The skittles (casual chess) room offers a social environment after the tournament game. Chess players learn very quickly that throwing the board is not cool.

2:55 PM Chess provides a place for teenagers to belong. At the tournament level, it also integrates different cultures. It doesn’t matter what age, race, or religion you play against. The presenter references a report on

3:00 PM She references the “Scholastic Chess Pyramid of Success” in her packet. Students in golf and gymnastics have personal trainers. It’s not hard to believe that chess kids need personal training too.

I like the “Is your child tournament ready?” quiz on page seven. One of the questions: Can your child lose three chess games in a row without crying? Honestly, I don’t think I’m able to lose three chess games in a row without crying.

Tricia Dobson’s packet might be the most useful part of the conference today.

Playing against a 1600? “Hold onto your queen and a draw looks really good right now.”

3:05 PM The room is really cold. And I’m wearing a jacket.

3:10 PM We’re all talking about the problem of “trash talking” among young chess players. Everybody has something to add. I had my hand up, and I got blocked by someone next to me. Dude, I want to talk too. Not cool. He’s been talking for 5 minutes now. Get your own session.

3:15 PM I got a chance to talk. Feel better now. It’s interesting that this particular subject occupied so much time. It seems to be a real issue among younger players.

3:20 PM Done with my first day. I’m returning tomorrow.


I decided to simplify the Chess Club of Arlington website and remove the blog, shifting some of the chess-related posts over here: I would hate to lose my commentary on the Saint Louis trip. All in favor of a complete That David Hopkins, now with more chess. I started Chess Club of Arlington with ridiculous amounts of ambition, or "commendable amounts" depending on your perspective. However, I soon realized that a slow steady start was better than attempting a big splash. The club simply doesn't have the resources and support necessary to sustain it at the Salvation Army community center. So, we're moving from a church to a bar. Starting in December, we're going to meet in back room at J.R. Bentley's (406 W Abram St, Arlington, TX 76010), every Thursday at 7 PM. We met there in April and had a good time.

We'll keep it simple. A good beer and a game of chess.


Thanks to the generosity of Smart Pop Books, we are giving away three copies of TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD from my website today (11.04.2011). Here's how you enter: Post in the comment sections your favorite scary movie (or television show, or book, or painting, or whatever other media...favorite scary ballet?). Sorry, U.S. and Canadian entries only. After midnight Central Time, three winners will be randomly selected. I'll email you if you won, get your address, and Smart Pop will ship a copy of this great book to you. That simple. Post your favorite scary ________.

I'll start. I posted about this a few years ago, but when I was a kid, I was scared of the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. That darn tree man still freaks me out a bit.

Your turn.

UPDATE: Using the random number generator, I came up with 2, 6, and 8. Our winners are Joe Lambert, Alfred Day, and Yolanda Aguayo. Congratulations. I'll send you an email asking for your mailing address.


Tonight, we hosted our first Chess Club for Kids. About 17 young ones were there, ranging in age from 5 to 14, from nine different schools in Arlington. Some were learning chess for the first time (I think I said "it moves like an 'L' " at least twenty times), and a few were experienced tournament players. All the kids received a sparkly chess pencil and a chess piece keychain. From the abundance of remaining bishops and pawns, you can guess which pieces are the most popular! All the parents received... a boring newsletter from me, pleading for their time and resources.

Thank you to the Arlington Public Library for allowing us to use the community room. The room was a good size -- with space for us to grow in the coming months. Since we're only allowed to make three reservations at a time, I will soon reserve the facility for December and January, then I will post it on our events calendar.

A special thanks to the parents who helped out. Because of you, we were able to offer more individual attention to the first timers. As this program develops, I will get a better sense for how to best manage the numbers. Possibly we could divide the room into rotating sections? I want to vary the activities from month to month. I may try to enlist my wife for some chess-related crafting that we could somehow tie into learning about the pieces.

Random trivia: Since the inception of our organization in April 2011, we have hosted chess events in four different locales (J.R. Bentley's, Health and Harmony House, Salvation Army Community Center, and George W. Hawkes Central Library) all within a mile of each other. Next up, Levitt Pavilion? Arlington Museum? UTA campus? I feel like we need to continue our downtown Arlington takeover.


We had a good group for our first Thursday night meeting. About 12 people were there, mostly folks I haven't met before. Some arrived at 7 PM. Some showed up later in the evening. No one sat around for too long to wait for a game. There was a lot of 5 minute blitz (big surprise) and slower untimed games. I think everyone had a good time. In particular, I'm very happy with our locale. After an entire month of searching Arlington for an ideal location, I feel vindicated. During that month, I talked with a lot of people. I made several phone calls. And I put probably 100 miles on my car driving around Arlington. The dining hall at the Salvation Army Community Center is a nice size. It can comfortably accommodate 5 people or 50 people. No one seemed to have trouble finding it. Unless, I discover tomorrow there were countless hordes of chess players roaming the building trying to find an unlocked door. Doubtful. Captain Andy Miller, corps officer for the center, is happy to host our group. I've talked with him, and he absolutely understands my long-term goals for the chess club. They do good work here, so it's nice to partner with them. For next time, I need to figure out how the coffee maker works. Maybe grab some snacks too.

Right now, we're borrowing the chess sets from Martin High School. It'd be nice to purchase some supplies specifically for the club. I was browsing online chess stores last night, putting together my wish list. For only $3500, we could have the most ridiculously amazing club sets. My dream set up. (A more modest set would be $1500.) So, anyone have $3500 laying around? In exchange for your generousity, and indulging my need for fine wooden pieces, I can offer you an ad on our site for the next... four years? Anyone?

I heard a lot of people say they'd be back next week. Score one for Chess Club of Arlington.

Photos have been posted to our Facebook page.


My last day in Saint Louis was a good one. I spent the morning packing my suitcase , trying to cram all my new swag into it. At 10 AM, I walked to the Lenox Room in the hotel for the Chess Fair, hosted by Chess Collectors International. Vendor had specialty chess sets and historical chess items. One vendor had the chess board used during the first World Chess Championship between Steinitz and Zukertort in 1886. Also, one vendor had the heaviest tournament-size wooden chess pieces I've ever held. After the chess fair, I drove to visit my friend Jeff Elden. I had lunch with him and his daughters.

I caught the 960 portion of Kings vs. Queens Day 2, before I had to head back to the airport. (All the details can be found here: I went upstairs to watch the last minutes of the Irina Krush and Kevin Cao match, then the Martha Fierro and Jacek Stopa match. I congratulated Martha on her win, and she had the biggest smile. It was cool.

I squeezed into my Fiat rental and drove to back to the airport. Time to go home.

The last photos from my trip have been posted to our Facebook page.

Later today, I'll post some commentary on what I've learned from this trip and how it applies to Chess Club of Arlington.


The third day of any long weekend trip is a dangerous one. By now, I feel like I live here at this hotel. This is my place, and I'm beginning to wonder where my wife and daughter are. Crepes Etc is my local hangout... even though I've only been there twice. I say hello to people I met yesterday and think we're old friends. In my head, I start making up friendly nicknames for the people I see. My entire world has been reduced to Central West End. And I've gotten a little too comfortable. Today, after a late breakfast at my local hangout, I went CCSCSL for the activities today. They've blocked off the street. They had booths and various chess activities set up. In particular, the Boy Scouts were getting ready for their live human chess match. They conducted the merit badge presentation. Astronaut Greg Chamitoff spoke to audience about the value of chess and the Boy Scouts. He talked about his time as an astronaut on the space station. We then watched a video on his experiences. Unfortunately, the video began with the song "The Final Countdown," and the moment was ruined. (Blame Arrested Development.) The event was well attended and well organized. I had a chance to talk with Bill Hall, executive director of USCF, for quite a bit. I met Lynn Hamrick who directed the Chess Kids movie.

302315_173205399423707_1548348072_n (Me with Yasser Seirawan and Susan Polgar)

After the merit badge presentation, gears shifted to the first round of the Kings vs. Queens event. While waiting, I played chess with Jim Stallings. He destroyed me, but let's not dwell. It was good to play some chess.

Kings vs. Queens is an interesting event. Men vs. Women. First game is 960 (or Fischer Random) chess. For the second game, colors are reversed, and a rapid (G30) chess game is played. I stayed down in the chess club basement mostly to watch the commentary. Occasionally, I ventured to the top floor to watch the games live. I don't want to give a play by play. You can watch everything unfold here on the CCSCSL site.

After the games, I smoked a cigar, watched some men play chess outside, and then I went to Culpepper's Bar and Grill for a hamburger. Now, I'm back home (aka the hotel), typing this report and watching some boxing on HBO.

(Live Human Chess Match in St. Louis from Chess Club of Arlington on Vimeo.)


Today started like any other day. I woke up in a cozy king-sized bed in a luxury hotel. You know, because that's how I roll. (Update: That's not how I roll.) While ironing my shirt, my pant belt loop got caught on a door knob and I tore my pants, my brand new purchased-for-this-weekend-because-I-want-to-impress-people-I-don't-know pants. Then, I dropped a drinking glass in the sink and it broke. (Update: This is how I roll.) Fortunately, my tweed sports coat covered the tear in my pants. After my morning adventures in chaos theory, I had an omelette at a wonderful place next to the hotel called "Crepes Etc." I know, I should have had crepes. Tomorrow. This morning, it was also raining lightly outside, which was actually very pleasant. I'm sure it has everything to do with the fact that I haven't seen rain in months.

When the World Chess Hall of Fame opened this morning, their first official day open, it was without much fanfare. The fanfare was last night. A few people wandered in. I spent more time today, than last night, looking at the exhibits. Here's a few of my thoughts:

OVERALL: * The way they were able to coordinate the interior design between the Hall of Fame and CCSCSL across the street is so sensible. And yet, I cringe to think of what might have happened in less competent hands. * They use the three floors effectively. It's a solid layout, and makes for a pleasing experience. * The gift shop. Of course, there must be a gift shop. This one is nice. It's a nice counter balance to the CCSCSL store. Whereas the CCSCSL caters more to students of the game, the Hall of Fame offers items more appealing to the casual visitor who wanders in off the street. I bought a t-shirt.

FIRST FLOOR * The first floor featured an exhibit of modern artists and their interaction with chess "as strategy and mental process." * The collection is damn good. Diverse in form and yet completely cohesive. This floor will appeal to anyone (chess player or otherwise) who appreciates good modern art. * The large installation called "Anatomy is Destiny" is a bit terrifying, but in a job-well-done sorta way. There is a video to accompany it, an abstract theater/dance performance, pawns in burlap bondage, strange noises and movements. It gave me chills. * My favorite piece was Yoko Ono's white chess set. It was a powerful way to transform chess as a war metaphor into a metaphor for peace and collaboration. * I liked the large photograph of the symphony orchestra in the chess hall. * I also enjoyed the photo series exploring chess as a meditation on space and topography. Trust me. You'd understand it if you saw it.

SECOND FLOOR * The second floor featured highlights from the Dr. George and Vivian Dean Collection. This floor evaluates the design and development of chess sets. A truly well-designed set is a melding of form and function. This is why the Staunton design is such a triumph. * The second floor could keep you busy all afternoon. Seriously. I wasn't able to get to everything. Many of the chess sets were incredibly ornate. You discover something new that you missed with each viewing. The materials used, the ridiculously high level craftsmanship -- I greatly enjoyed the collection. * Each set on display was arranged to feature a famous chess position. The display cases showed a diagram of the position, and explained the moves. This idea deserves a gold star. It's a clever way to avoid the boring alternative: every set in the starting position.

THIRD FLOOR * The third floor is the hall of fame portion of the World Chess Hall of Fame. One wall features the world hall of fame inductees, and the other wall is for the U.S. hall of fame. I enjoyed reading each of the bios included with each framed portrait. * The third floor also included items of historical significance from the world of professional chess. It gave me a greater appreciation for this game's elite. * I really like the Paul Morphy silver cup set. These cups were given to him in lieu of a cash prize for winning a tournament. * I also liked the case that featured handwritten letters and notes from famous chess players.

Afterward, I went across the street to see if anything was going on at the chess club. I had a chance to meet Jennifer Shahade (twitter). It's always a little odd introducing yourself to someone who is famous only in certain circles. I know her from a cover story I read in Chess Life. I know her books, her chess-related performance art, and her commentary during the U.S. Championships. I read King's Gambit. "Hi. I'm a big fan of your... persona?" or "Hi. You work hard to promote chess for girls in U.S. and I donated $20 to 9Queens a few weeks ago." Jennifer is a very nice person, a point which would surprise no one.

I befriended Jeff from California. We went to lunch at an Indian restaurant. Great food and good conversation.

The Kings vs. Queens opening ceremony was at 6 PM at the hall of fame. The guest seating was filled. Overflow was allowed to watch the ceremony live on the flatscreens at CCSCSL. I went upstairs where they had catering and an open bar. Maybe I was better off at CCSCSL? I made a decent dinner out of the appetizers that kept coming to me on silver trays. After the ceremony, everyone came over to where we were -- and thankfully I didn't eat everything before the crowd arrived. I met Jean Hoffman, executive director with 9Queens and I greatly enjoyed talking with her. I also met Joel Berez, who I didn't know this while talking to him (thank you Google) but apparently he's the President and CEO of ICC. Wow. I gave Joel money this year, and didn't even know it. Bless the ICC. Susan Polgar, Yasser Seirawan, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and other well-known chess folk were there. They all left almost as soon as they arrived. I'm now in my hotel room, and I just know there is some craaazy chess party going on somewhere, and I'm missing it. I heard people in the hallway speaking Russian. So maybe I'm close?

Anyways. After the after party for the opening party (think about that one for awhile), I saw Columbiana at the movie theater in the hotel. Yes, the hotel has a movie theater.

Tomorrow is round one of Kings vs. Queens. Come back for the day 3 report.

Also, I loaded more photos onto our Facebook page.


I've been excited about this trip for a while now. I get to travel to Saint Louis for the World Chess Hall of Fame opening and witness a successful chess organization in action. I packed my best clothes, and I spent way too long deciding on which chess set I would bring. Winner: my Marshall Series plastic set from House of Staunton. It's the set I take with me to tournaments. Yes, I'm a big nerd (prefer the word "aficionado") when it comes to chess pieces. After school, I drove to DFW airport, parked my car, and took the shuttle to terminal C. I landed in Saint Louis around 7 PM, and took another shuttle to Enterprise Rental. I reserved an economy car. They upgraded me to this really cool Fiat. Maybe because it's a small car and there's just one of me? Either way. I took it. Then, I kid you not, as I was driving into downtown, there were fireworks going off near me. It was as if Saint Louis was welcoming this earnest visitor. Or at least, I'm going to think the fireworks were for me. I checked into the hotel. I chose the Chase Park Plaza because it was closest to the museum and chess club. It was a little more expensive, but I knew this was where everyone was staying. Holy crap. This hotel is nice. I have a living room with an office area (where I'm currently typing these words) and a separate bedroom. Two TVs. This is supposedly a single, but it feels like a lot of space for just me.

I dropped off my luggage and walked to the museum for the private opening event. Kelly Logue, membership and communications manager, was kind enough to invite me. As I walked to the museum, Anna Zatonskih walked by in the other direction. To you, that may not mean much. As someone who followed the US Championships closely on livestream, it was cool to spot a familiar all-star chess player. I was running a little late, and I got to the museum just as they were wrapping up. I was able to take a few photos, and I'll take more when I return tomorrow morning.

(I promise I was smiling a split second before the photo was taken.)

I also walked over to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. It's such a beautiful facility. The photos just don't do it justice. Talked with executive director Tony Rich briefly, and he invited me to Bar Italia for dinner. Another upgrade. I sat next to Jim Stallings, a fellow Texan and director of the UTD chess program. At another table, I saw a few of the other tournament competitors: Irina Krush, Hikaru Nakamura, and Ben Finegold. Great restaurant and a great neighborhood. After dinner, I wandered back to my sweet, sweet hotel room -- and I've been relaxing here since.

I've posted photos to our Facebook page. I'll have another report tomorrow.


Yesterday, I attended the Texas Chess Association meeting in Dallas. It was a good opportunity to introduce myself to the other club and tournament organizers, tell them a little bit about what we're going to do in Arlington and learn how TCA operates. The votes were counted for TCA officers: Binny Nanavati is Secretary, Barbara Swafford is Treasurer, Lakshmana Viswanath is Vice President and Clemente Rendon is President. Clemente was not able to attend, so Lakshmana ran the meeting. We discussed the budget, and talked about vests for TDs at major tournaments to make them easier to identify. However, it was decided there are more cost effective options such as matching shirts or name tags. Tim Redman announced the upcoming Koltanowski Conference on Chess and Education, and thanked TCA for its support. Tanya Baker discussed the Tyler Chess Center. TCA went over the bids for upcoming major tournaments. Texas Knights magazine is moving from semi-monthly to quarterly, which is due to budgetary/content matters and also in keeping with the other state chess publications. Forrest Marler of Temple Chess Club announced plans for a trust fund to promote scholastic chess. And lastly, TCA needed some vector art of their logo in order to make banners and such for tournaments. I volunteered my wife to redesign their logo (thanks April!), which she's working on right now. I'll share the new TCA logo with everyone once it's available. So far, it looks incredible. And that's everything from the meeting. If anyone who was at the meeting noticed I forgot to mention something, please post in the comments.

After the meeting, I talked with editor Selby Anderson. Chess Club of Arlington has purchased a year's worth of one page ads in Texas Knights to promote our inaugural year as an organization.

Have a great Labor Day everyone. The weather in Arlington is perfect for chess outdoors at a park somewhere.


Yes, I'm re-posting the press release. I'm that excited about the show this Sunday.


DALLAS -- Zeus Comics and the hit Web series The Variants brings nerdcore rap artist Adam WarRock for his Dallas debut Sunday, February 27th at Alexandre’s Bar. Come see Adam’s deft lyricism and hip hop beats for this one-night-only performance.

Adam WarRock is widely known as the Internet’s foremost comic book nerdcore rapper. He has gained a following through his tireless song production, biting sense of humor, and sharp eye for geek and pop cultural topics to skewer in hip hop form. First gaining widespread attention after filmmaker Edgar Wright discovered his “Scott Pilgrim” recap rap, WarRock went on to gain further notoriety with the single “Ira Glass,” which turned the name of This American Life’s host into a verb for living life boldly. Mr. Glass personally gave the song his blessing.

WarRock went on to release his debut album, The War For Infinity, in the Fall of 2010. The Dallas concert marks one more stop on his nationwide tour of theaters and comic book shops.

Zeus Comics is a multiple national and local award-winning comic book store known for innovating in the field of comic book retail. The WarRock concert is partly sponsored by the Web series the Variants, which will be on hand for the performance to film footage for a future episode.

Zeus Comics has copies of Adam WarRock’s album The War For Infinity for sale in advance of the concert and at the show.

Admission is free. The show is 21 and up. Alexandre’s Bar is located at 4026 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas.

According to the Robot 6 post, MC Router will also be there. She's awesome.


I hate the weather right now (even with AC blasting in my car, it's still intolerably hot). And I'm not completely ready to return to school. But one good thing can be said about August: another Dallas Comic Con! Dallas Comic Con always brings in some great media guests. However, I'm especially excited about... wait for it... Edward James Olmos. Frackin' Admiral Adama! The guy saved human civilization (belated BSG spoiler alert), and now he's coming to Dallas. He wins major geek cred for going to the United Nations and leading everyone in a chant of "So say we all" (video). This is a man you want to meet.

Among the comic guests, Adam Warren is making a rare appearance. He helped popularize the "manga art style" in mainstream American comics. I'm truly excited to see him. Other guests include: Keith Pollard, Angel Medina, Mark Brooks, Pat Broderick, June Brigman (co-creator and artist of Power Pack -- I love Power Pack), Roy Richardson, Kerry Gammill, Kez Wilson, Ben Dunn, James O'Barr, Josh Howard, Joe Eisma, Steve Erwin, John Lucas, Brian Denham, Andrew Mangum, Brent Peeples, Evan Bryce, Cal Slayton, Richard Dominguez, Lawrence Reynolds, Bill Williams, and more.

So you missed San Diego Comic-Con. Boo hoo. Think of this as your last chance to geek-out this summer.


On June 24th, I will be presenting at Pecha Kucha Dallas -- 6pm at the Dallas Center for Architecture. The event is free, although a $5 contribution is suggested (which means the event costs $5... I don't know why people call events free and then have suggested contributions). Either way, it'll be worth every penny. So, no worries. The Dallas Center for Architecture is located at 1909 Woodall Rodgers Frwy, Suite 100 in Dallas. RSVP here:

Confirmed presenters include artist Nancy Rebal, writer David Hopkins (that's me), architect Jonathan Brown, artist Scott Horn, artist Brad Goldberg, furniture maker Sean Springer, paper conservator Tish Brewer, toymaker Edward Ruiz, artist Joyce Martin, artist Brad Ford Smith and muralist Chris Arnold.

About Pecha Kucha Dallas (I'm taking this directly from the press release):

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit chat", it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.

Expect something fun and crazy from me. Hopefully. I'm working on my presentation right now.


This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. I'll be at Zeus Comics. From their site:

Join us Saturday May 1st as we bid farewell to PVPonline cartoonist Scott Kurtz. This is Scott’s final signing before moving to Seattle. We’ll be joined by James O’Barr, Joe Eisma and David Hopkins too. Plus thousands of free comics and the return of the mighty quarter comic sale! Saturday May 1st from 10am-6pm

Last year, I was in Houston for Comicpalooza. While it was a fun trip (we went to NASA!), I'm happy to be home for this event. It will also be nice to offer a fond farewell to Scott Kurtz.

While supplies last, I plan to distribute some free comics -- KARMA INCORPORATED #2 and #3, THE TICK SPECIAL, WESTERN TALES OF TERROR #2, and anything else in my personal overstock box. I'll have copies of last week's Quick with WE'VE NEVER MET and more WE'VE NEVER MET/SOUVENIR OF DALLAS postcards.

I hope to see everyone there.


It's a little late, but I wanted to post a few thoughts about Dallas Comic Con from two weeks ago (photos on Flickr). Mark Walters and Ben Stevens do a consistently great job running this show. I can't tell if Dallas Comic Con is a small convention that feels big or a big convention that feels small. Either way, it certainly straddles that gulf between the well known "must attend" conventions and the obscure local shows. Mark and Ben bring interesting media guests and a nice variety of comic book creators. They've been very hospitable to the regular locals, and make it feel like this is "our show" too. Brock Rizy, Paul Milligan, and I shared a table. Brock was going to be located near the bathroom entrance, but no one wants that fate -- so we adopted him. It's always nice to have an artist on either side, because I get to watch them work on commissions, which is far more interesting than just trying to sell more comics.

It was cool to see copies of ONE NIGHT STAND everywhere. Several contributing artists were guests at Dallas Comic Con, and they all had their copies. One attendee was going from table to table getting autographs.

My main goal was to distribute the D Magazine/Quick postcards. I went through about 500, and I have 500 left for various locales around town.

After the show on Saturday, a bunch of us went to Freebirds, which was a lot of fun. Foil art!

Later that night, Brock, Paul, and I went to the ArtLoveMagic event at Southside Lamar. I think it was their best event so far. We didn't stay long, but I had a chance to hang out with Jim Mahfood and Kristian Donaldson (who has been super busy lately on Vertigo project 99 DAYS). The event was incredibly crowded. Paul, Brock, and I were asked to move out of the way to make space for a break dance battle. Yes, he used the word "battle." Not that I would ever disparage the fine art of break dancing, but seriously, how many times in one's life are you asked to move so someone can "fight dance"? Call me crazy, but I think they're nerdier than I am.

Sunday was slow, but there was a steady flow of people. Brock, Paul, and I entertained ourselves with the possibility of me changing my name to "Jumbo Pop" and assuming a new rock star comic book persona. Brock and Paul had names, but I can't remember them. Sorry guys. "Jumbo Pop" stole the spotlight. Okay, maybe I am nerdier than the break dancers.

Other Dallas Com reports: Cal | Mahfood | | Anyone else? Photos from Dallas Observer Photos from Pegasus News 1 - 2


Kudos to Mark Walters. I stand up from my chair and begin the slow clap. Others join in. Mark, you brought in some great guests. This Dallas Comic Con might be the best one ever.

There's Tim Sale, Adam Hughes, Michael Golden, Mark Brooks, Todd Nauck, Terry Moore, Jim Mahfood, Mike Huddleston, Tom Feister, Matt Sturges, Renee Witterstaetter, Harold Ledoux, plus lots of local talent like James O'Barr, Brian Denham, Kerry Gamill, Josh Howard, Cal Slayton, Joe Eisma, and Brent Peeples.

From film and television, we have Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia from Buffy!), Adam West (TV Batman!), Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints!), and some tall dude from Twilight.

The cast of The Variants will be in attendance and G4TV's Next Woman of the Web Action Flick Chick, Katrina Hill.

click here for the full guest list

I'll be there, but I'm a regular. Beyond all the usual stuff, I will have copies of ONE NIGHT STAND for anyone who needs it. I'll have the KARMA INCORPORATED SCRIPT BOOK, which is only available at conventions. I'm handing out postcards to promote WE'VE NEVER MET and SOUVENIR OF DALLAS. I'm fairly sure that my artistic cohorts Paul Milligan and Brock Rizy will be seated on either side of me -- available for commissioned sketches. Chad Thomas said he'd visit on Saturday. Maybe we can convince him to sit for a while and do a sketch or two?

Bring money. Meet a celebrity or two. Ask Cordelia to sign your Buffy Season 3 DVD. Get some sketches from Paul, Brock, and Chad. That's a good weekend.


First, thank you to everyone at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles for hosting us. There was some confusion at first, because our contact person was out all week with H1N1. So, I showed up with a box of comics (early as always) and they didn't know they were having a signing -- but it didn't phase them at all. "Cool. Let's set you up over here." Introductions were made, and we were good to go. Plus, with California locals Christopher Higginson, Cat Staggs, and Sina Grace, we were able to bring a lot of people to Golden Apple. The people at that comic book store were all very nice. It was good to hang out with Christopher, Cat, and Sina -- and thank you Christian Beranek and Christina Weir for stopping by and supporting us.

A picture of us at the signing (click here)

A nice review of ONE NIGHT STAND (click here)

My interview with CBR about ONE NIGHT STAND (click here)

The latest WE'VE NEVER MET is now available, featuring the new logo by Jenni Leder. Look for Quick in racks around town. (click here)

This week's Quick also features some love for the web series The Variants.