Chicago Geek Guy

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Greenfire Games Lights Up the South Suburbs

The taco truck parked out front told me this place was a little different. Food vans and gamers. Such a simple, genius, idea.

Greenfire Games, my new local game shop, opened its doors on October 1st. My interest piqued by a post on Facebook, I hustled my way over to check it out. A few long-established stores exist nearby. Friendly enough staff and players gathered around dimly lit folding tables; dusty product stacked on shelves. Greenfire Games appears to offer something more.

Greenfire game rents time on two 3D printers for customers to make custom tokens and figures.

Greenfire Games rents time on two 3D printers for customers to make custom tokens and figures.

Upon walking in, I noticed bright lights illuminating custom built gaming table toppers. Knowledgeable and personable staff guided customers through new games. Shelf talkers offered free promos with purchases. A mixed crowd of children, adults, and old timers like myself mingled and shared their favorite stories. Two 3D printers churned out custom coins, figures, tokens, and scenery. Intrigued, I wanted to learn more from the brains behind this effort.

Fate brought Michael Bradshaw and Brian Stuchell together a little over a year ago. Brian worked in sales without any history of gaming. Unhappy with his job, Brian wanted a big change and landed a position at a game shop, of all places. Mike, a lifetime collector of games, managed the shop. Working together, Brian developed a solid base of retail management skills, and Mike’s personal collection and desire to own his own store intensified.

“…with tabletop games you have an inherent sense of community,” Mike explained. “That is what interests me the most. I see Greenfire Games as a place where people can sit down with their peers on a weekly basis and have a good time. In the short time we have been around I am very proud of the range of people we have brought together and I can’t wait to see how it grows.”

“We made sure if there was anyone who made people uncomfortable or was inappropriate in any way we would take them to the side and talk to them”


Greenfire Games offers free promos with some games.

Building that community and entrusting it to support a store took time and effort. Mike told me, “We have been running weekly game events for the past year at different venues. We made sure if there was anyone who made people uncomfortable or was inappropriate in any way we would take them to the side and talk to them, if it continued they would not be invited back. We took the time to make a safe environment and built friendships with the members of our group.”

The two would run events for any occasion. When one of their regulars decided to get hitched, Mike and Brian organized games for the reception. The bride and groom had a chance to do what they loved with friends and the two future shop owners entertained the rest of the guests with extra-large versions of crowd pleasers.

Greenfire Games offers something every day of the week.

Greenfire Games offers something every day of the week.

“The store came together in a series of conversations over the last year” Mike continued. “As game collectors, our regulars knew, they could order everything online, but they said they would rather pay slightly more if it meant they were supporting us and what we were trying to do.”

Eventually, Brian wondered how much money they would need to actually open their own shop. “I have a buddy in commercial real estate and I gave him a call.”

Working with their partner Marcus Felgenhauer, the three started in earnest last May. They opened a web site for game reviews, unboxing videos, rule explanations, and general industry news. They started expanding their reputation online before going looking for investors.

Their lack of experience with video didn’t lead to success with the crowdsourcing marketplace.

The three considered raising funds through Patreon and GoFundMe. Unfortunately, their lack of experience with video didn’t lead to success with the crowdsourcing marketplace. However, a few individuals, notably Phillip Flores, believed they could create something exceptional and helped. Philip became their fourth partner.

The team logically scouted for locations in the southwest suburbs where they had already established a client base. They needed to stay local.

Greenfire Games uses custom tabletops in their game space.

Greenfire Games uses custom tabletops in their game space.

“Big play area was our number one factor,” Brian told me. “That is such a big part of what we are trying to do. For example, tonight we have 12 people playing X-wing, 6 playing Magic, another 2 playing a tabletop game. With so many seats we can support this nightly.”

The two never doubted their efforts. When I asked about difficulties, Brian replied, “Truthfully we always knew it was going to happen. We did hit a point while searching for funding that we had to take a hard look at the timeframe.” They hoped the store would open in time to take advantage of Christmas shoppers, but not get lost in the retail chaos of November and December.

Greenfire Games found the sweet spot. “We have had a great first week, not only did we have a huge turnout for the grand opening itself,” said Mike, “but we have had a huge number of new customers over the last week. We’ve seen a steady increase in new returning customers, almost doubling the people we considered regulars. Some people have been in four-five days in over the last week.”

“I won’t feel satisfied until we have a packed house every night and even then there’s always room to grow.”

A successful first week doesn’t mean the two aren’t looking towards the future. Brian told me, “Next is continuing to build up our presence in the community. We started doing the Blue Island Park District game nights on Friday, twice a month. We have to keep bringing new people in and introducing them to these games. I won’t feel satisfied until we have a packed house every night and even then there’s always room to grow. We really do strive to be a cornerstone of this area bringing families away from the TV and computer and back to the table. All puns intended.”

“We are a welcoming environment for gamers of all ages and love teaching and getting new people in the hobby.”

Greenfire Games partners, left to right: Brian Stuchell, Philip Flores, Mike Bradshaw and Marcus Felgenhauer

Greenfire Games partners, left to right: Brian Stuchell, Philip Flores, Mike Bradshaw and Marcus Felgenhauer

Greenfire Games: 4811 95th St, Oak Lawn, IL 60453; (708) 576-8442

Geek Weekend Guide for October 21, 22, & 23

zombie-225x300Lot’s of scary and fun stuff to do in this Geek Weekend Guide. Halloween approaches and one of my favorite films is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Personally, Trinity and I will be searching the stalls for bargains at the Wheaton Haunted Flea Market Saturday afternoon.  One of our favorite CCG interviewees, Chef Val, will be there selling her wares. Trin and I have even put together comfortable costumes.

Highlander Featuring an Introduction by Nick Offerman

The Music Box Theater is offering a special showing of the Queen music fueled, sword fighting extravaganza that is Highlander.  Actor, comedian, writer, musician, and carpenter, Nick Offerman will be on hand to introduce the film.

Music Box Theater, Saturday, October 22nd, 11pm; for tickets 3733 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613

The Skywalker Cycle

EDGE Youth Theater is presenting The Skywalker Cycle, a light Shakespearean adaptation of the holy trilogy. Three casts, three directors, three movies and all the sword fights, shootouts, and laser battles you could hope for, all  in 90 minutes.


The Skywalker Cycle;  shows on October 21st 7pm, October 22nd 2pm, October 23rd 7pm; $12; Devonshire Theater 4400 Greenwood St, Skokie, IL 60076

Nightmare on Chicago Street

From the web site:

On Saturday, the city of Elgin is calling for help to battle the zombie horde. The event promises that every human will have a good time with 4 stages of entertainment, bands, food and merchandise vendors, drinks, live graffiti artists, and guests like SVENGOOLIE.

As with all viral infections that occur, some people will undoubtedly FREAK OUT and destroy some of the businesses and buildings in the safe zone.  Expect some of the businesses to be boarded up, trash everywhere, burning tires, some of the left over cars may be damaged and overturned, as well as ZOMBIES being caged up. Do not fear! Your safety is guaranteed by military presence, concerned citizens and our Zombie Defense Initiative. Some of the businesses will be open for you to get food, shelter (YWCA Warming Station), medical treatment (an ambulance will be there with doctors on hand), and many more food and drink stations throughout the safe zone.

As with all groups of people (or things), some have a kind heart to them and will feel bad for the undead. Expect protesters there fighting for ZOMBIE RIGHTS and several ZOMBIE MARCHES may occur.

This may be your last shot at survival, so

In order to maintain some sort of economic health after the apocalypse we are asking for a nominal safe zone entrance fee. This will get you into the safe zone to partake in all of the entertainment, but more importantly it will guarantee your survival! Online tickets can be purchased on our website or at the entrance gates.

Nightmare on Chicago Street; Elgin, Illinois – Chicago Street, between Douglas and Villa; October 22, 7pm til 11pm


Midwinter is Coming – Part 2: The 10th Anniversary

It only just turned to fall, but Midwinter is coming; Milwaukee’s Midwinter Gaming Convention, that is. CGG’s last article on the convention talked about its origins. I had always known Midwinter as a World of Darkness LARP gathering. I hadn’t known it started as a Toreador Masquerade, but I did notice its popularity among local Vampire and Werewolf players. Growing out of that niche took, and continues to take, some serious effort. Once again, I turned to Anne Holmes, owner of Daydream Productions and the creator or Midwinter Gaming Convention to find out how it happened.

“We’re all gamers here!”

“It was a challenge to be sure,” Anne described, “as so many people were skeptical that we would never be more than a ‘LARP convention.’ Even still, as we are so LARP heavy, there are people who question if the other tracks get as much love. I want Midwinter to be a place where any gamer can come and experience the events they know and love, as well as explore new options. I want it to be the place where people don’t say “those are the LARPers, or, those are the Tabletoppers, ect… I want it to be the place where people say hey, we’re all gamers here!”

Anne seems to have met, and exceeded, her hopes of expanding Midwinter into an inclusive gaming convention. As of this writing, the

Midwinter, it's not just for LARP anymore.

Midwinter, it’s not just for LARP anymore.

2017 convention offers 38 LARPs, but more than 134 tabletop RPGs, and 30 board game sessions. It also offers a large board game library for participants to drop by and use at any point during the convention. There’s even a smattering of card game events available and more events get added daily. Anne also recognized that it takes more than a wider selection of games to attract the crowds.

“There was no way of telling what types of companies would do well at Midwinter.”

“In addition to welcoming other types of games, my convention needed to have an exhibit hall. Because there was no way of telling what types of companies would do well at Midwinter, I cast out the net and offered first year exhibitors free space. It was a gesture of good will that has definitely paid off. From that first year with exhibitors we have retained three ‘Legacy Exhibitors,’ or companies that have been with us every year since. At that first event I joked that in ten years Legacy would mean something really cool and now that’s only three years away!”

Anne readily admits to making mistakes as Midwinter grew. For example, it turned out I wasn’t the only one thinking the convention was limited to One World by Night LARPs.

“We had been around for ten years… nobody had heard of us.”

“… the show was just learning how to reach out with marketing, explaining to people that yes, we had been around for ten years at that point but we had been limited in scope which was why nobody had heard of us. We spent several hundred dollars on terrain and prizes for an event that nobody showed for. We had presenters that were awesome, but not really in our wheelhouse, because we hadn’t gotten completely comfortable with what our wheelhouse was.”

When asked to reflect on the 2010 Midwinter Convention, Anne replied:

“Was the 10th anniversary the moment? Yes and no. I don’t think there will ever be a moment where I say ‘we have made it’, because that feels like saying we’ve reached the summit. We will never reach the top, because then there will be nowhere else to go.

The10th anniversary did show me that we were ready as a show to make the leap into a full convention, and it was an amazing revelation to me that I had been doing this now for a decade. I had ‘made it’ to the point where I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do as a career.

A bigger ‘made it’ moment for me was when the Best Western could no longer host us, we were bursting at the seams with space issues and needed to make the move to a larger venue in Downtown Milwaukee.”

Midwinter Gaming Convention 2017 will be held January 12-15, 2017 at the historic Hilton Milwaukee City Center and will include more events than ever before. 

Photos by  C.Wenzel Photography

Geek Weekend Guide for October 7, 8, & 9

Be Geeky! Be Healthy! This Geek Weekend Guide offers a little bit of both.

 Berwyn Fandemonium!

From their Facebook site (because I couldn’t say it any better):

Berwyn Fandemonium is Berwyn’s FIRST geektastic pop culture event, presented by fans, for fans! A Maker/Crafter/Creator show and market, inspired by comic books, sci fi, fantasy, anime, steampunk, gaming, and more – embracing all that is good and nerdy!

Berwyn Fandemonium will have vendors selling indie comics and prints, jewelry, wearable art, bags, stickers, pins, buttons, and new and vintage toys – all inspired by their makers’ love of pop culture and fandom.

When you’re ready to take a break from shopping, head over to our gamers’ corner and play on a classic 8 bit NES, stocked with all your favorites!

Do you like to #cosplay? Maybe you’ve always wanted to give it a try? Show off your favorite character in our all-ages COSTUME CONTEST! Kids and adults are welcome to sign up for their chance to win a prize from one of our generous sponsors.

We’re also going to have face painting and caricatures available to enjoy!

Berwyn Fandemonium: Saturday, October 9, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; The Outtaspace, 6840 32nd St., Berwyn, Illinois 60402.

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K 2016Crypt 5K

Trinity and I will spend Saturday night running through a cemetery. No. It’s not to escape the undead. It’s to benefit the American Diabetes Association. The course takes its runners through a fully candlelight Rosehill Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Chicago and the second largest in Illinois.

Registration for the race is closed, but I trust the runners won’t mind if you come down to cheer them on and check out the site.

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K: Saturday. October 8; 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

somethingwickedFirst Friday “Something Wicked” Opening Reception

The first Friday in October brings an art opening to Elgin. Featuring live music from  Phantoms & Pestilence and Think Easy, the exhibit offers a “variety of arts media whose subject matter is meant to instill a combined sense of wonder, awe and perhaps a little dread.”

First Friday “Something Wicked” Opening Reception: October 7: 6:00 pm til 10:00 pm; Side Street Studio Arts 15 Ziegler Ct, Elgin, Illinois 60120; $5 suggested donation

Geek Weekend Guide for Sept. 30, and Oct. 1 & 2

I will desperately try to squeeze in some Geek for this weekend, but I’m focusing mostly on getting my new place set up.  Hopefully, I will be able to pop out and check out a new FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store). Greenfire Games is celebrating their grand opening on Saturday. If you’re near Oak Lawn, pop by the shop. Could it be a successor to Pat’s Hobbies?

And now, here are a couple of the cool things I won’t be able to attend this weekend.


Now in its second year, ValorCon will take place at Macy’s Event Center, Friday to Sunday.  It features scores of computer and video, live-action, tabletop games, and a host of interesting panels. A few we noticed include: Geek Femspective (to discuss  What’s Missing in the Geek Community), Friendship, Romance & Sexuality in valorcon-2-pngVideo Games, and Building a Successful Kickstarter.

In addition, participants are given an opportunity to join one of four larger teams, and points can be earned at all offered activities toward earning fame, fortune, and prizes! We website describes the event reads:

Being the biggest city in the US within reach of both coasts and everything in-between makes us the perfect gaming nexus. You’ll get to try new games, compete in tournaments, take group lessons, see veteran players go head-to-head, engage with publishers as they demo upcoming titles, and attend panels with industry leaders and gameplay experts.

Macy’s Event Center, 111 N. State Street, Chicago, IL; September 30 – October 2; For tickets visit:

Otherworld Theatre Company Presents Paragon

On Saturday and Sunday, Otherworld Theatre Company presents paragonParagon, 40 short science-fiction and fantasy plays performed by 110 actors over the course of  two days. This is the second year of this short-play festival, dedicated to Otherworld’s missing of growing the genre of Science and Fantasy.  Plays are divided into roughly one-hour blocks over the course of two days. Performances will take place at the Public House Theatre.

The Public House Theatre, 3914 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613
11 a.m.-6:45 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday
For tickets visit:

The Geek Weekend Guide for September 16, 17, 18

The Geek Weekend Guide has some interesting activities! Unfortunately, you won’t see me at any of these events. I will be moving.

Board Game Bonanza #3

A BYOB board gaming event in Westmont. This sounds like a lot of fun. Take your regular board game night and multiply it by a factor of 20. They may even order out for food! Come and go as you please.  Bring your own games. Plenty of free parking.

Westmont Commons, 117 N. Cass Ave. Westmont Il (Metra accessible); Saturday, September 17th, 8am till 10pm

Acrobatica Infiniti Circus: After Dark – Villains & Vigilantes

Dress up in your best villain cosplay to go and see a truly unique entertainment experience. The show promises international circus starts performing themed acts of juggling, acrobatics, contortions, comedy, and much more.

Uptown Underground, 4707 N Broadway, Chicago; Friday, September 16th,  8pm; tickets available.

Rubik’s Cube September Challenge9-15-2016-12-22-35-pm

Here’s a chance to prove your geek cred at one of Chicago’s best game shops. Work for your best time on:

  • 2×2
  • 3×3
  • 4×4
  • Pyraminx

To win prizes and the coveted title of Cat & Mouse Supercuber of the Month!

Cat & Mouse Games, 1112 W. Madison St., Chicago, Illinois 60607; Saturday, September 17th, 1pm till 3 pm, $5 entrance fee.

The Geek Weekend Guide for September 9, 10, 11

The stars are aligned and the forces of Chicago Geek Guy are together this weekend! It’ a Geek Weekend Guide we can all enjoy!

American Science and Surplus Annual Warehouse Sale

Once a year, one of Chicago’s geekiest retail chains opens the door to its warehouse to reveal the secret workings of its innards. The event promises, ” tables of incredible stuff at unbelievable prices. Bring the whole family, we’ll have something for everyone!”

Saturday, September 10, 9:00 am til 4:00 pm.  7410 N Lehigh Ave, Niles, IL 60714-4024

Geek Weekend GuideA Princess of Mars

From the website:

When Confederate deserter John Carter is mysteriously transported on the surface of Mars, he is forced into an epic conflict between the planet’s alien races. As Mars is poised on the brink of collapse, war-weary Carter realizes he must choose sides when the planet’s fate rests on his shoulders.

Chicago’s premier science fiction theater company brings the city another night of fantastic adventure.

A Princess of Mars, by Otherworld Theater Company, runs September 9 through to 24,  Berger Park,  6205 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60660. Seats available from Brown Paper Tickets.

The Geek Weekend Guide for August 26, 27, 28

I am not doing anything geeky this weekend. I’m going to do my best for a new personal record in the Rock the Night 5K then spend Saturday and Sunday recovering from my efforts. Still the Geek Weekend Guide offers up two fun events for those not laid waste by physical activity.

Arcade, Video, and Game Room ExpoThe 1st Annual Arcade, Video, and Game Room Expo

The Crown Plaza in Rosemont is hosting this first of its kind event. The expo promises hundreds of arcade games set to free play, vintage game tournaments, and a number of guest appearances.

Pokémon Go Cosplay Meetup: Valor vs. Instinct vs. Mystic

Stephanie Plus Verb and The Fantasy Realm of Chicago are hosting a Pokemon Go meet up at  Konak Pizza & Grill, Friday night at 8:00 pm. Cosplay is not required, but there will be a costume contest for those who dress up. If you’ve reached level 5, wear your team colors!

Steampunk Chicago Stroll through Graceland – Gallery #5

The final gallery of shots from the Steampunk Chicago Stroll through Graceland includes pictures of:

  • Carrie Elizabeth Getty’s Tomb, a small, square monument designed by Louis Sullivan. The tomb marks the first example of Sullivan’s involvement in the architectural style known as the Chicago School.
  • The tomb of Fridolin Madlener memorializes the man that gave the world Fig-Rye.
  • The Tomb of William O. Goodman, viewed from across the pond.
  • The tombstones of Daniel Burnham and his family rest on a small private inland in the cemetary.
  • The grave of Marshall Fields marks the resting place of one of the 19th Century’s most wealthy men.
  • A young flutist sits atop the gravestone of Dr. Christopher D. Manuel.

Carrie Elizabeth Getty's Tomb

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Steampunk Chicago Stroll through Graceland – Gallery #4

This fourth gallery of images from the Steampunk Chicago Stroll through Graceland captures a number of notable monuments.

  • The tombstone of architect Louis Sullivan.  A relatively modest monument marks “Father of Modern Skyscrapers” and the man behind “Form ever follows function” grave.
  • The Tomb of William O. Goodman. Goodman hired Howard Van Doren Shaw to design this tomb and the Goodman Theater, both in honor of his son, Kenneth Sawyer Goodman.
  • The Tomb of Potter and Bertha Palmer rises like a Greek Temple on the edge of the cemetery’s pond. Potter Palmer pioneered the idea of customer satisfaction in retail before turning his attention to real estate and hotels.

Tomb of William O. Goodman

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