Mr. BBD Goes To Chicago

Brian wandered haphazardly to Chicago for a quilt-off, and got stuck making Top 32 at some Grand Prix instead. Read his tale of woe, joy, peril and food, and try his Naya Tokens deck out for #SCGPORT this weekend!

It was the event of a lifetime. To say I was excited would be an understatement. For years I had planned this trip, this journey, this pilgrimage to the cultural mecca that is Chicago. The Windy City. We would travel to this city one time, for one weekend, for one event. Once in a lifetime. It was the kind of event you tell your grandkids about fifty years later as they listen in rapt attention. This trip was years in the making.

Andrew Shrout, Todd Anderson, and Brad Nelson were my compatriots on this journey of epic proportions. Despite us knowing far in advance that we intended on making it out to Chicago this weekend, none of us exactly planned ahead. $600 last-minute plane tickets? I just barfed in my mouth, spit it out, then barfed again. Despite the cost, I was ready to pull the trigger anyway, as nothing would cause me to miss the glory of the weekend. Mediocrity, at above average cost.

But when the fateful hour struck, when the last minute came wandering around, when the time came to book up or shut up, a light bulb finally turned on. Someone finally came up with a brilliant idea. Chicago is only like twelve hours away? Is that so? I mean, it’s obviously not an optimal trip, but it’s not impossible either. Maybe, just maybe, there is another solution than a wallet-shattering flight. A solution that would save us all a lot of money. Maybe there is another way to get there.

Roaaaaaaaad Triiiiip!

Oh yeah!

Like the four bumbling idiots we were, we piled into Shrout’s car and hit the road like a sack of asphalt out the back of a huge construction truck. We hit the road like Amelia Bedelia when she was faced with an idiomatic expression she did not understand. That’s how road-hitting we were.

Just a bunch of bros doing bro things like sitting in the backseat of a car falling asleep with your neck tilted at an unhealthy angle. Tilt! Just a couple of bros bro-ing out. Bro-fest 2014. Population: 4, location: Shrout’s ****ing car!

The trip itself was crazy! Midway through the drive, we saw a sign for an Amish Cheese Shop. Like most good Amish Cheese Shops, they hooked us up with information for their Facebook page so we could get more of that sweet Amish cheese later if we so desired. I couldn’t wait to visit them on Facebook with my smart phone immediately to get the full Amish experience.

I don’t know about those other guys, but I personally opted for a block of some Garlic Cheddar. It was fantastic. Garlique Fantastique.

Here is a picture of me holding the Cheese in front of Shrout’s car. It was my turn to drive, after all!

Wheel of Cheese

My mom always told me that button-up shirts and gym shorts were a good look on me! Thanks for the fashion advice, momma. I couldn’t have made it this far without you.

Todd and Brad were involved in some horseplay, but we eventually convinced them to buggy on up and pile into the car. Just like that, we were back off to Chicago.

The Amish Cheese lady told us of a German Sausage Factory miles up the road, but despite keeping my eyes on the lookout, no sausage factory was to be found. Sausage would have gone so great with the awesome Amish Cheese too. Color me disappointed! It was the wurst.

In the second half of the trip there, we spent a lot of time discussing the event we were heading to. Todd kept trying to triple-pry information from me, but I was really threading the needle on what kind of intel I wanted to share. I am kind of a celebrity in this culture and I didn’t want to give up my trade secrets…not even to a good friend! Brad kept making blanket statements, but Shrout sewed Brad’s mouth shut with some quality designed comebacks. It was all just some good-natured conversation between fairly poor-natured friends! It was just the kind of banter that every road trip demands.

Eventually, we made it to Chicago with not a stitch of time to spare. The event we had been preparing for was about to start, and I couldn’t bear to miss the opening ceremonies. I peeled off my headphones as the last remnants of The Sound of Music filtered out of my ear. “…So, a needle pulling thread. La, a note to follow so…” It was time to get my IQF on. I was ready. I was born ready, needle in hand.

Sew what?

Ladies don’t know about my International Quilt Festival fame. I couldn’t believe after three devastatingly long years, the International Quilt Festival was finally at a venue I could make it to. Chicago, 2014. Never forget. As I said, this was the event of a lifetime and not even a $600 plane ticket would make me miss it.

I don’t mean to brag, but I am kind of a celebrity in the quilting industry. They don’t call me Quilt Chamberlain for nothing. It’s an homage to how much of a slam dunk my stitcheries are and also a reference to my extreme height compared to the numerous little old ladies that populate the community. I also took Basket Weaving in College. Easy B+. I even invented the now-standard “Weave and Heave” methodology. You may have heard of it.

And while I may be different in stature and demeanor than many of the other quilting aficionados found at the International Quilt Festival, there is one thing we all shared in common: A mutual love for the musical stylings of Robert Goulet. “Poppa…I love it when you call me big…Popppaaaa!” It just doesn’t get any better than that.

I know Brad Nelson, Todd Anderson and Andrew Shrout were looking to get a needle up on this year’s quilting festivities, but they would have to get through my Sha-Quilt O’Neal-like presence if they wanted to claim the annual Quilt-Off championship this time around! Their shot at the championship was going to get blocked, one fateful tug of the needle at a time.

However, just when we were about to sign in and register for the weekend’s festivities, we were struck by a bit of ill fate. And, sadly, that is where my story must take a turn for the sour. It turned out that the IQF was unable to process our paperwork.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “There must be a mistake,” I kept saying over and over again. The lady was saying things to me but I couldn’t hear it. My mind was drowned with despair. “There must be a mistake. This can’t be. There must be an error. Something is in error.”

It was a true horror story. The real stuff of nightmares. You know that common dream you have all the time? It’s the dream where you fly out to an International Quilt Festival but you forget your passport or something similarly important at home so they can’t verify you and you end up just wandering aimlessly around Chicago while the best three days in quilting history continues on without you? I’ve woken up covered in sweat from that nightmare so many times that I could scarcely believe it: my nightmare was becoming my reality.

Eventually I snapped out of my stupor long enough to hear some of what the lady was saying:

“…wasn’t able to process correctly. I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do to fix it.”

I just looked at her in dull shock. “I. Uh. There must be.”

“There’s nothing.” She said, not unkindly.

It was then that the full ramifications hit me and I began to get mad. I started to shout. “But, But just think. Just think for one minute about what this means. My grandkids. My grandkids. My poor grandkids. They will never hear the story of when grandpaps BBD and three other headstrong ruffians journeyed off into the West seeking fame, fortune, and fabulous stitch work. Just think of the grandkids.”

“Sir, how many kids do you have?”

“None. I’m impotent.”

The lady just looked at me without saying a word. Knowing it was a lost cause, we stumbled back out of the convention center. Tears welled up in my eyes.

We were about to call it quilts and just start the long drive back home, when suddenly I saw some guys with backpacks filtering into the other side of the convention center.

“Hey, backpack people, what is going on in that side of the convention center?” I called out to them.

“Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix.” They yelled back.

Magic: The Gathering? No way. How lucky. It turned out that all four of us played Magic: The Gathering and it just so happened that we brought our decks with us. Mine was an angry nature deck. I used Purphoros, God of the Forge along with a bunch of creatures to deal my opponent a bunch of damage all at once. It was cool.

“What the hell”, we all thought. “Let’s do this!” Let’s sign up for this Magic: Grand Prix. Let’s see how our cool decks can stack up to the competition!

And just like that, we were registered. Just like that, we filtered off to our hotel for a good night’s sleep so we could be rested for the weekend of however much fun and adventure a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix could hold.

Day One

I woke up feeling well-rested and fantastic, ready to begin the first day of the Grand Prix. I got to the event site, sleeved and shuffled up my deck, and sat down, ready to battle against all of my upcoming opponents.

After round six I found myself sitting at 5-1. So far, I had defeated all of my enemies except for one. He was a really nice guy who was also playing an Angry Nature deck like mine. The only difference is instead of Purphoros and Scion of Vitu Ghazi to make lots of flying birds, he had instead chosen to play Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice and Archangel of Thune to gain a lot of life and make all of his creatures huge. It was too much for the Purph to overcome, despite his best efforts.

I wasn’t too sad about losing, though. I was just happy to be there. The funniest thing is that I had basically forgotten all about the IQF at this point. I was having so much fun at the Grand Prix that I didn’t even care that much that I missed what Bob Costas later referred to as “The singularly defining quilting event of our generation.”

The weirdest thing happened to me in round seven. I couldn’t believe my ears, but they called me up for a feature match. It was insane. I sat in a sequestered-off area and a bunch of people stood around and watched my match. I was playing against a guy playing a Life/Death Nature deck. He had all kinds of cards like Scavenging Ooze and Obzedat, Ghost Council to gain life and deal me damage.

Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes in this match and I ended up losing. I was a bit discouraged from the match and as a result I ended up losing my next round as well to a Water deck that had the Master of Waves and God of the Sea to hold the tide against my big animals. Just like that, I had been eliminated from the Magic: Grand Prix.

It was a bit disheartening, but my friends and I all went and saw Edge of Tomorrow that night before going to sleep…

Grand Prix: Verdun

Day One

I woke up feeling well-rested and fantastic, ready to begin the first day of the Grand Prix. I got to the event site, sleeved and shuffled up my deck, and sat down, ready to battle against all of my upcoming opponents.

The entire day felt dreamlike. I almost felt as though I had done this all once before. When they called my name out for a feature match in round seven, it was flattering, but I wasn’t even that surprised. Was this supposed to happen? I didn’t know what to think. I shrugged it from my memory and walked off to the feature match.

I sat in a sequestered-off area and a bunch of people stood around and watched my match. I was playing against a guy playing a Life/Death Nature deck. He had all kinds of cards like Scavenging Ooze and Obzedat, Ghost Council to gain life and deal me damage.

I made a lot of mistakes over the course of the match. My nerves were getting to me, and I also had a headache that had been growing stronger all day. My left contact was hurting my eye, and I was cornered into a situation where I either leave it in and experience irritation or I take it out and suffer from only being able to see out of one eye, which would inevitably lead to a headache.

Towards the end of the second game, my opponent had an enormous Scavenging Ooze. He was at a healthy twelve life, which could advance to sixteen once he activated his Ooze a bunch of times again. I was at two life but I had a bunch of small creatures in play. I was able to ultimate my Domri Rade to give me an emblem. However, I still lacked a way to finish him off, since all my creatures were too small to attack through his Scavenging Ooze.

Suddenly, I could hear a small voice in the back of my head call out to me. “Fight them.” It said. I looked at my hand. It contained a second copy of Domri Rade. I played it. I scoured the board and finally it hit me.

I fought my two Voice of Resurgences against each other. When they died, they created two huge 7/7 Elementals with Trample, Haste, Double Strike, and Hexproof. I attacked my opponent with all of my creatures, and even his huge ooze couldn’t soak up enough of the thirty-six damage I was attacking for.

Just like that, I had won my feature match.

I lost to a Water deck the next round but I beat a Monster deck in the following round to finish at 7-2. That record was good enough to push me into the second day of competition.

That night, my friends all went to see Edge of Tomorrow, but I had too much of a headache and I opted to just get a good night’s sleep instead. I’ll have to get around to it another time.

Day Two

The website said we didn’t have to arrive for the second day until 10 AM. Thankfully, I learned a valuable lesson from that Amish Cheese Shop’s Facebook page. Never trust anything you read on the internet! I showed up at 9 AM, just to be safe. Sure enough, the tournament started at 9 AM. Whew! That could have been a catastrophe nearly as bad as missing the Quilted Kilt dance-off that was surely going to take place later that night.

Nearly. Nothing is as bad as missing the Quilted Kilt dance-off. I shed a single tear.

Thankfully, the second day of competition went really well for me.

I beat another Life/Death Nature deck and a Life/Death deck to start off the day. They kept playing cards like Lifebane Zombie and Pack Rat, but they couldn’t handle the amount of damage the Purph was cooking up. It was awesome.

After that, I played a gentleman playing a unique deck. He had cards like Ephara, God of the Polis, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and Precinct Captain in his deck. He kept playing creatures and drawing extra cards, but he couldn’t attack me because my creatures were so huge.

Every turn, I kept making Satyr tokens with Xenagos the Reveler. Eventually, I drew Purphoros. I could barely contain my excitement. With five lands in play, I cast Purphoros, used Xenagos’s plus one ability, and activated Purphoros’s ability six times in the same turn! Having given all of my creatures +6/+0, I was able to swing with everything and take out my opponent’s life total in one huge chunk. I couldn’t have fabricated it any better myself.

Unfortunately, I lost the following round to another Water deck. Master of Waves and Hall of Triumph did an oceanload of damage so quickly that I couldn’t find time to overload my Mizzium Mortars to take care of them. Apparently, losing this round knocked me out of contention for Top 8. Man, those Water decks were nasty!

It was unfortunate, but I battled on the last two rounds anyway and ended up making Top 32. A friend of mine, Nathan Holiday, even conceded the match to me in the last round because he didn’t need any of the pro points. What a nice gesture on his part! I ended up getting 30th place. It wasn’t quite the “Wilting Quilt Blue Ribbon First Place Prize” that I had my eye on, but it wasn’t too bad either for an impromptu tournament weekend in Chicago.

The whole tournament was an eye-opener for me, though. You would never guess it, but apparently a ton of Magic players are also huge quilting fans. I kept saying things like “I came up here to do the Quilt Convention, but I got stuck playing in this tournament instead.” They would always chuckle and say stuff like: “Yeah, me too. Sucks I ended up here instead.”

If so many fellow Magic players also missed out on the Quilt Festival, then it certainly seems like a lot of people must have messed up their International Quilt Festival paperwork this weekend. How else could they have ended up at an inferior event? I’m going to have a chat with the IQF and see if something can’t be done to minimize this problem in the future. You know something is wrong when a bunch of people are stuck having to play in a Magic tournament because their paperwork didn’t check out.

A lot of my fellow quilting fans had me sign a bunch of Magic playmats and cards. My mom would never believe it unless she saw it. She would say something like “I hope you dressed up for the event!” Obv, mom. Like, duh. I’m not dumb. I wore my StarCityGames.com t-shirt and a pair of worn khaki shorts. I was dressed to impress.

Usually, when I go to a quilting convention I don’t get this kind of positive reception. The Magic/Quilting cross-community is really the best niche community I’ve ever been a part of. The only disappointment is that nobody had me stitch my signature into an actual quilt itself! Maybe next time.

It was a shocker that so many people appreciated my quilts and wanted a piece of my John Hancock on some Magic cardboard. It was flattering, to say the least. I even signed Brad Nelson’s chest! It did cause my sharpie to wear out some, though, and I will never forgive him for that.

I also learned some fun new games that Magic: The Gathering players like to play at events. A nice young man named Justin Uppal introduced himself to me and asked me if I wanted to “Roll for Batterskulls.” They had given us this shiny Batterskull card when we signed up for the event.

I didn’t quite understand the game, but I decided to test my fate and rolled the dice anyway. When I won, Justin gave me his Batterskull! What a nice gentleman. Later in the day, a dirty old man named Shaheen Soorani also introduced himself and we likewise decided to play the “Roll for Batterskull” game that Justin had showed me.

I won again and much like Justin before him, Shaheen handed over his Batterskull. Dan Musser also played the game and I won, yet again. Yet another Batterskull in my possession. A nice young man had witnessed me defeat Dan Musser at the Batterskull game and wanted to test his fate. Not to be outdone, I also outrolled him in the dice game. He also gave me his Batterskull.

Everyone was just so nice! I ended up with five copies of Batterskull when it was all said and done. That game was really fun, but I still don’t quite understand the rules. What would have happened if I had lost? The world may never know!

I also learned a different game. Apparently, it’s a dinner party game. When you’re sitting around dinner, everyone pulls out their credit card. The cards get shuffled up and they get pulled out one by one. Whoever has the last card to get pulled out loses the game. Thankfully, I didn’t end up losing any of the games, which is quite fortunate, because I still don’t quite understand what happens when you lose.

All I know is that a lot of the friends I was with at the event were extremely generous with their wallets. Both Alexander Hayne and Brad Nelson were courteous enough to pay for not only my meal, but the meal of everyone at the table this weekend. I don’t know what possessed them to pick up the tab like that… usually we just split it… but I was sure to thank them profusely for their act of kindness.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Eventually, it became time for us to travel home. We were extremely hungry, though, so we decided to first stop at Giordano’s Pizza to fill us up first.

Only delicious food could fill me up.


I ordered a pizza and was so happy when it came.

Pizza Pizza!

But Brad Nelson wasn’t content just paying for my meal, he wanted some of it as well!

Food Fight!

We fought over it a bit, but I eventually won. Silly Brad Nelson. Man, that was some great food. If only my friends were there with me to share it. That would have been perfect!

Winner winner pizza dinner.

The drive home was mostly uneventful. The only crazy thing happened toward the end of the trip – a deer jumped out in front of the car when we were traveling 65 miles per hour on the highway. We couldn’t avoid hitting the deer. Thankfully, nobody in the car was hurt and Shrout’s Horse and Buggy only suffered some minor denting. If it was dented any worse, he would have probably had to go see a Dentist, and I’ve heard horrible stories about seeing those people. Why the hell do they need to see your teeth to fix your car? Makes no sense.

Unfortunately, the deer didn’t survive the encounter. We were all sad to see it, but the entire thing was unavoidable. It came out of nowhere and just jumped in front of us.

So, while I didn’t end up getting to take part in the event I wanted to, things didn’t end up going so badly for me after all. I got 30th place in a huge Magic Tournament, and I got a lot of awesome tales that I can tell my future grandkids. I’ll tell them all about the time that grandaddy BBD and three of his pals took a trip to Chicago to eat pizza, play games, hit deer, and learn valuable lessons about life and friendship.

Also, the International Quilt Festival is coming back to Chicago next March. I’ll be there. You can guarantee it. You’ll have to pry my correctly filled-out paperwork from my cold, dead, perfectly muscled, needle-working hands if you want to prevent me from quilting up a storm that weekend.

And if you know what’s best for you, you’ll be there too. Because If I don’t see you there, you’re dead to me, and I never want to see or hear from you again.

Quilt Chamberlain stitching out!