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It sure feels like it was summer and my beard was long the last time I wrote one of these… (PS: Baseball season is upon us!)
Well, guys, it’s been a long time.
(“Classic start,” Katie said while taking a sip of her morning coffee.)
I think it’s been over a month since I posted one of these and that’s just not right. Gotta get my blog situation right, y’all. I’m gonna try to keep on top of it from here on out.
Wanderlust – Watched this movie again with Katie and Kara. Same director as Wet Hot American Summer (set in Waterville, Maine (Colby College adjacent! (Kate’s alma mater))) and it shows. Not just with the repeated actors or the appearance of people from The Slate, but also in the wacky comedic style. I remember leaving this movie on while my mom was recovering from surgery, and she got…very agitated during the bloopers of Paul Rudd’s psych up speech in the mirror.
Community – Even with the Olympic break I’m an episode behind. The return of Dan Harmon has been a real boon for the show. I don’t think I would have watched another season of the “gas leak” show. The characters were all like third or fourth generation VHS recordings. You could tell their general shapes, but they were fuzzy and sounded wrong. Would I have noticed as much if I didn’t know about the behind-the-scenes changes? I would like to think I would. Glad to have it back, but it’s a bummer that Donald Glover left the show. Troy is a funny character.
How I Met Your Mother – I almost can’t remember which episodes this covers…If it covers the special How Your Mother Met Me episode, then it’s been a good string of episodes. I’m not as bothered by the way that the show keeps returning to the Robin well with Ted. His history with Robin was the catalyst that set off the whole show and it did need resolution before the end. Was the shot of Robin rising into the air like a balloon necessary? No, probably not. It looked cheesy as hell…
The Amazing Race – Watched the first episode of the first season with Kate to marvel at how far the show has come. I think that we’ll continue to watch it, but maybe after we finish with the Baseball documentary. The new season starts this weekend! Can’t wait!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Has it been so long that the Craig Robinson episode is covered by this entry? That was the most laugh out loud episode of the season. I really love what Dan Goor and Michael Schur have done in modifying the Parks formula for a cop show. It’s consistently funny without being mean. Just like Parks.
The Mindy Project – They’ve gone and pulled the trigger on the Danny Castellano thing…and then gone into winter hiatus. I don’t blame Mindy for leaving us on such an exciting cliffhanger, but I worry that it won’t be enough to save the show. I hear it’s on the bubble and without a damn good second half it could end up leaving us forever!
Game of Thrones – Watched the first episode with Katie and Min. I think it was to motivate Min to read the books or watch the show, but I have suspicions that Katie was trying to stealthily get me into it too. I will say that it’s got that HBO sheen to it. Just super high-quality looking and super well acted and executed. The story’s even got a great deal of intrigue wrapped up in its silly medieval trappings. I’m hoping Kate misses this entry and doesn’t see that I could perhaps (on a good day!) be persuaded to watch more episodes of this show…
New Girl – I really hope that they keep Coach in the show. He compliments Winston better, in my opinion, by being a guy they can pair him off with when they want to give Schmidt someone else to hang out with (or the three of them together. Also funny!). The post-Super Bowl Prince episode was pretty great and the show’s in a solid place right now. I can’t say that I look forward to it every week, but I will say that it consistently makes me laugh pretty hard.
Justified – I think I caught up on the last season in this gap, but who knows? I’m already like four episodes behind in the new season, but it promises some great Art suspicion of Raylan’s shady dispatch of Nicky Augustine last season.
Trophy Wife – Not gonna win any awards for innovative sitcom-ing, but fun.
Parks and Recreation – I’ve enjoyed the way that the show has developed so far, but, and here’s a crazy idea, wouldn’t it have been great if they ended the show when Ann left? They could have allowed Leslie to finish the park first, but that would have been a great starting point, methinks.
Archer – Archer Vice is so awesome. I’m absolutely loving the madcap antics of the ISIS drug cartel. So great.
The Daily Show – Jessica Williams is now the best correspondent.
The Colbert Report – I got tired of Colbert’s schtick back in 2009 or so. Now I’m ready for it again. It’s hilarious.
Masters of Sex – Well the length between posts means that I managed to finish the first season. Damn fine show. It’s probably gonna feel a little shiftless or aimless to the average viewer (moreso than Mad Men, even), but the character work is superb.
Sherlock – Also burned through all three of the third series. I agree with a lot of the criticism that the whole thing was a little too metacontextual. A little too wink wink, but it was also that brilliant character alchemy that really makes the show shine. Martin Freeman is a beast in it.
House of Cards – Valentine’s Day weekend was more or less spent binge-watching the entire second season. It’s schlocky and trashy, but it’s also so fun. Who knew trade embargoes and congressional procedure could be so interesting? I’m interested in seeing where the third series is going to go.
Olympics – I watched so many winter games. Just the best way to experience the disparate and weird winter sports. The only real heartbreak came during ice hockey. What a bummer…:grumble grumble:
Baseball – Got the first two innings of the Ken Burns documentary in. I was struck, yet again, with how fantastic this series really is. Can’t wait to keep watching this with Katie.
The Americans – The huge event at the end of the first episode of the second season was mindblowing and super creepy/scary. I think this show is one of the good ones. Check out the first season for free if you have Amazon Prime
Calle 13 released a new album, but I haven’t gotten around to listening to it yet. Instead I’ll put one of the tracks from one of Katie’s playlists that has completely taken over my brain, ZZ Ward’s “Put the Gun Down”
Also Ga-In’s new videos!
Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die – Finished this guy a long while ago. Super good. Super depressing sometimes. Also super uplifting when you realize that, even though it’s just fiction, the human spirit does not go quietly into the night. Just kind of chilling to think about if the Machine of Death were real…
Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection – A fun little diversion about health. It did help me get a hold on what I wanted to do with myself as I strove to be healthier in my life.
Earthbound – Who knew Ken Baumann was a good writer? Full of heartwarming little stories, this is actually a nice, short, gentle read.
All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono – I listened to the now famous Playboy interview many moons ago in podcast form, but getting a chance to read about the Lennon/Ono philosophy was just as fascinating the second time. Yeah, sometimes they were pretentious and obnoxious, but other times they were just way ahead of their time and really right. Worth reading if you like The Beatles, John Lennon, or Yoko Ono.
How to be Black – Yeah, it’s kind of a silly book, but it’s also a pretty good memoir of what it is to be black in America, but to also refuse to conform with what people say you’re supposed to be.
This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death – Only a few stories in on this one. They’re already more sophisticated than the previous version without sacrificing any of the pathos.
Civilization V – Hoo boy! I played so much of this in the past few months! Between games with David, his coworkers, Eric, and Lee I’m playing about 10 simultaneous games (plus a solo game here or there) and I’m totally digging it. I’m developing strong strategy and actually getting close to meeting David in my game that has progressed the furthest. I’ve also destroyed two civilizations in that game. Bwahaha…
Super Mario 3D Land – Platforming honed to perfection. I beat every level but the final, super secret one and I think that’s ok with me. That level is brutally hard/mean. Loved the game and I want to beat 3D World as thoroughly, for sure.
Bravely Default (Demo) – Talk about a brilliant marketing measure! This demo got Min and I interested in the game, prepped us for the start, and motivated us both to buy it day one. That’s how it’s done!
Cook, Serve, Delicious – Still loads of fun, but hard to squeeze in between all the other stuff I’m doing.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Finished the main game! Just gotta burn through one last DLC case where I’m defending an orca (yes, you read that right!). I loved it, but I’m ready to be done, I think.
The Walking Dead – I think this is from when I played with Katie and beat episode 2. Freaky episode. Min, you should get here.
Nidhogg – Fencing! It sounds boring, but it’s so addictive. It’s got that perfect rock, paper, scissors thing, but it’s all sped up in real time. Min and I killed each other like 100 times before finishing our second or third match.
Bravely Default – Ok, so the main game: still pretty good! I didn’t love the initial few jobs, but there are so many that I’m loving all the new, weird stuff I’m seeing.
Risk of Rain – I love me a roguelike. This was tons of fun to play with Lee and Min. We need to set up another time to play, for sure.
Inazuma Eleven – A soccer RPG! It’s awesome! You recruit players like capturing pokemon! There are special moves! I love this game.
Super Mario 3D World – Just a few levels here and there. I need to get all the star coins now to unlock the super secret worlds. So fun (and so pretty compared to the 3DS one!)
Heck of a movie! (Picture by Yunus Emre KARTAL)
January continues to go strong this year! Got in a fantastic movie this week along with plenty of good reading. Can’t complain about that at all.
American Hustle – I hadn’t heard a bad word about this movie and I will say that it did not disappoint. Just phenomenally done. It’s yet another super fun heist movie. I didn’t love the voiceovers that were peppered throughout, but otherwise I’d call it a mostly flawless and fun movie. Go see it before it’s out of theaters!
Babies – While we were watching the Amazing Race, Katie noticed a Botswanan baby and it made her immediately call for a rental of this short documentary. It was definitely cute and, interestingly enough, there’s not a single narrative line of dialogue. They let the universality of humankind and human babies speak for itself.
The Amazing Race – Our trek through season 22 continues. I’m loving watching my teams compete again. Trying to keep a lid on spoilers for Kate is tough, but I think I’m managing well enough.
Justified – I’ve only got about 10 mins left of the final episode of the season left, but I haven’t found the time to finish it. I like the way they resolved the Nicky Augustine moment, but I don’t know if I’m gonna enjoy the way they tie the season up at the end.
Bought me some Paul Simon tickets this morning. Enjoy “Obvious Child”
Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die – There have been some dark, tragic moments in this collection along with some neat, life-affirming fun moments of truth. The premise is so neat because everyone dies, right? Should knowing how change anything?
Bravely Default (Demo) – On the last boss now and it’s been loads of fun. Turns out that linking with Min gives that character full job abilities that he has.
Civilization V – I’ll probably end up smiting Rome from the map by the time this publishes. Good times and good luck catching up, Dave.
Long Live the Queen – Managed to get into the Old Forest, but I haven’t done too much more here. Gonna get into this more this week, I think.
Left 4 Dead – Kate and I finished all of the L4D campaigns this weekend. I’m glad that she’s really enjoyed it and we’re gonna push right into L4D2 really soon to have even more fun.
The Walking Dead – I somehow managed to end up losing the save file that Katie and I generated, so I pushed through and replicated episode 1 really quickly for the next time I play with Kate. You hear that, Min? Super quick. By the way, the second battery is on the floor of the pharmacy.
My New Year’s resolution is to eat more curry.
Happy New Year, folks! New year, new posts, new media. I’m super pumped for 2014! No real pictures to put up here
Not this week!
The Twilight Zone – Somehow I had never seen an episode of The Twilight Zone. Not a one. Lucky for me Katie’s dad and his friend love watching the annual marathon on Syfy. I saw a classic episode or two and I wasn’t totally impressed with the quality of the acting in most episodes, but I was also really taken with the anthology style that’s missing in tv today. Very neat. Makes me want to finish Fringe.
Scandal – Saw the pilot episode with Katie and Kyla. It’s definitely got pilot awkardness syndrome and I wasn’t totally sold on the premise of the show, but it’s definitely got promise. I could see myself getting lost in this show.
Almost Human – The clone twist wasn’t super mind blowing, but I liked they way they integrated the hologram tech later in the episode and the further bonding of Kennex and Dorian. The Maldonado stuff fell a little more flat to me. Felt a little patronizing.
Justified – Season 5 of Justified started and I’m still not done with S4! I had about two episodes left and I watched about 1.25 of them. Love, love, love this show. I love it when people have long leisurely conversations, I love it when the shooting happens, and I love the setting.
Inside joke time! “Marry Me” by Jason Derulo
Well Played 1.0: Video Games Value and Meaning – I read almost all of the entries in the book, but one was meant to be in the perspective of a character in one of the games(?) and I skipped it because it was boring. The highlight for me was the section about The Secret of Monkey Island from the perspective of someone who grew up in Spain and played it in Spanish. I’m gonna read 2.0, but not for a while.
Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die – Speaking of anthologies, Machine of Death is dark and funny and it really makes a person think. Would you want to know the exact way you were gonna die? Would you become hopelessly fatalistic about your life or ignore it? Would you just avoid the machine completely?
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Case 5 has turned into a completely different case. We’re gonna resolve the issues with Blackquill. I’m more excited for the killer whale one, but that’s because I accidentally spoiled the Phantom’s identity for myself like two months ago.
Bravely Default (Demo) – Another Squeenix RPG, but this one has JOBS! I love job systems. I’m already way down for this release in Feb. I think it’s super neat that the Demo has its own unique story to it.
Nintendo Land – Got a lot of Mario Chase and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion in with Katie and Kyla. Super fun. I know people think Nintendo’s lost it, but just watching people pick up and play their games almost without instruction tells me that their concepts and ideas are still top notch. I love asynchronous multiplayer.
Long Live the Queen – Premise: The Queen dies and you’ve got to survive to coronation. It’s pretty easy to get killed in this game. I’ve managed to beat it a few times without it, but it’s not easy. Mostly a visual novel with skill checking.
Cook, Serve, Delicious – Surprisingly addictive for a simple game. They nailed the sound effects and that’s what really makes the difference. Adding the different ingredients to the dishes just has a lot of pop. Feels great to play. I love it.
SteamWorld Dig – Kind of a Metroidvania mixed with something like Terraria or Minecraft (minus the crafting). It’s fun to figure out how to get to the various treasures and gems. I’m really enjoying it, but the gameplay loop is too addictive. It’s “one more turn”, of a sort, as you try to achieve your objectives and get lower and lower.
Portal 2 – Played the new multiplayer levels with David. By new I mean really old and that one DLC pack they released years ago. It’s got a little new story and it’s funny and neat, but the main draw, obviously, comes from the sweet puzzles. Really creative and I think it made Dave and I feel pretty smart.
Civilization 5 – The D-Bros game continues to go way in my favor as I stomp the Romans down. Persia might have to go next if I continue to maintain the advantage…
Don’t Starve – Played it for a while to get my steam cards. Pretty neat game, but I wish it had steam achievements. My second attempt is going well, but I can’t find any gold for a science machine, and that stinks. Those freaky frogs almost killed me too…
This is where a lot of the magic happened this year.
Writing this list each year is one of my favorite things to do at the end of the year. It forces some perspective on what I played and coheres my thoughts on the experiences this year. I spent less time with video games this year, to the tune of 19 fewer games played. 2013 heralded a shift toward portable games for me thanks to a rapidly maturing 3DS library and a nice, new phone.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – If you thought 999 had the coolest story in video games, you’ve clearly never gotten around to spending enough time with VLR. The advantage of being a one-system game gives 999 a slight advantage in its huge twist moment, but VLR‘s meditations on quantum theory and its further exploration of the morphic resonance forces tons of interesting thought experiments. It’s a narrative gut punch that unravels with a brilliant pace.
The Cave – Ron Gilbert made himself a neat, interesting meditation on obsession and enlightenment, except he also mad ea game with ridiculous padding that required too much repetition of the same puzzles. It’s funny, but, sadly, I wasn’t ever able to motivate myself to go for all the endings.
Professional Baseball Spirits 2013 – I absolutely love these games, but I don’t know if I should keep getting them for a few years. I just don’t have the time to finish whole seasons any more. Maybe I should just get the last PS3 one and wait a while for the PS4 ones to get good?
Fire Emblem: Awakening – Allowing players to grind for levels was a weird decision. I think I got too distracted with grinding and lost momentum and motivation to finish the game. Still got a ways to go…It’s a strong SRPG, but I’m so distracted with other portable games that I haven’t gone back to it yet.
Tomb Raider – Remember when I beat this game on my channel? It was pretty good. I didn’t have high expectations for Tomb Raider remade to be Uncharted, but it actually held its own pretty well. If it had a better handle on its narrative it might have ended up one of the best games of this year, but you just can’t hide significant story details in found audio or text logs…
Sim City – What a shitshow. Seriously. EA really dropped the ball on this one with the overloaded servers and poor handling of their PR. To top it off, city simulation managed to feel simpler and less deep than Sim City 3000 which, I’ll remind you, was released about 14 years ago…
Bioshock Infinite – Remember how I said that audio logs are stupid? That’s the bread and butter of this series and it’s overdone. The shooting lacked a little impact, but the skyhook was pretty fun. Supposedly this game has a cool ending and a neat story, but I’ve had trouble motivating myself to come back to this to finish my series on it.
Dead Space 3 – Played this all the way through with David. Co-op = fun and awesome. Game itself…not so much. Just a laughably bad story, but we had a good time playing it together.
Harmoknight – Tiny little rhythm game by Game Freak. I ended up not loving the timing of the button presses, but I did like the relaxed plot and creative arrangements.
Digital: A Love Story – I don’t really remember why I ended up deciding to explore Christine Love’s oeuvre, but the fact that her first two larger releases were free probably contributed. Digital covers a time period that is slightly before my internet days (one where BBS was king) and the love story is, ultimately, not quite convincing enough, but it was interesting and it tangentially ties into Analogue
don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story – I rant to all kinds of people about how privacy in the modern era is an illusion. don’t take it personally goes and makes the argument for me. It also highlights how those of us in charge and legislating now still don’t really get it (and probably never will). Never have I seen a game do a better job at illustrating the generational gap and give both fairly substantial and even weight. The only thing I didn’t like was the kind of gross romance subplot…
Poker Night 2 – Remember the first Poker Night? It’s a little more advanced than that, but I like Ash and CL4P-TP less…
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – There was a fantastic couple of days where Min, David, and I just rocked most of the Monaco campaign and its prestige mode. Man, what a ridiculously fun co-op game. Especially with the way that David plays with his burrowing through every wall…
Rayman Legends – Better than Origins in some ways. Murfy is interesting too, but I have yet to play a level as cool as the treasure chase levels…
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Slow and leisurely. The feel-good, laid back game of the year. Animal Crossing might be low on action, but it’s so overwhelmingly nice and welcoming that it feels like the kind of world I’d want to live in. It’s just too bad that the guilt factor of being away for too long keeps me away.
The Last of Us – Yet another game I played to completion on my challenge. The chief problem with The Last of Us is that it’s just not fun to play. There’s nothing fun about the ugly violence committed by and against Joel and Ellie. It’s a brutal, depressing game that beats you down and ends with an unreasonably selfish decision that makes for a uniquely interesting ending and experience.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future – Didn’t quite finish this one. It’s more Layton. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not gonna set anything on fire with its innovative ways.
Analogue: A Hate Story – The summer sale allowed me to finally pick up a game I’d heard such intriguing things about. Like Christine Love’s other games, Analogue is about a spaceship society that went kind of…weird. It was heavily modeled on an Joseon society that actually existed and it was a little horrifying. The way it all plays out is a little voyeuristic, but also super interesting and fun. I can’t wait to play Hate Plus to learn how the ship developed in this way.
Shin Megami Tensei IV – This is not Persona. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s odd that the two don’t borrow from each other a whole lot more. SMT IV still does things that feel so old-fashioned while Persona feels so progressive and fun. Definitely the best old-school JRPG that I’ve played in a while.
Evoland – It’s all kind of a joke, really, and not a very fun one, unfortunately.
Thomas Was Alone – You play as these little shapes! They’re so cute! There’s a really fun story! British accents!
Pikmin 3 – I was surprised by how much I loved this game. Allowing the player to split attention between three avatars was a brilliant move for efficient play. I’m more surprised that I haven’t yet gone back to finish it because it’s ridiculously fun.
Rogue Legacy – Sharp, tight controls. Super fun conceit with the progression of heirs. Go play it. It’s the Metroidvania/Roguelike-like of the year.
Papers, Please – Have you ever wanted to run a depressing, Soviet-style border checkpoint? Yeah…that’s this. It sounds dreary and boring and it kind of is, but that’s the secret genius of the game. The mundane tasks infect your morality and you actually start trying to game the system in a lot of insidious and awful ways. It’s kind of gross, but also very powerful.
Didn’t start any new games in Sept!
Plants vs. Zombies 2 – I don’t like playing this on my phone. It’s a silly complaint, but the game just isn’t good on that small a space. I’ll come back to it on PC.
Pokemon Y – The revolution we were all waiting for. 3D pokemon is awesome. Less awesome: the still asinine/mediocre story. I just wish Nintendo would step up the level of interest in the story if they are going to continue to try to force more and more complicated stories on the games. Other than that, the perfect pokemon evolution. Seriously awesome.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – So it’s not the best Ace Attorney game out there. It’s lacking the influence of Shu Takami and that has a bigger impact than I would have expected. The game is more anime-y, if that makes sense, and a little less cohesive, but it’s still the best ridiculous, non-real world law simulator out there. Good times.
Hometown Story – Not good times. It’s by the Harvest Moon guy, but it feels half done and not too put together. I only gave it an hour, but I didn’t like what I played so far.
Ridiculous Fishing – Avoid the fish on the way down, hit them on the way up. Slick Disasterpeace music, neat art design, a weird story. Pretty fun way to kill time on your phone.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – The music in this game is so…good. It’s a must to play this with headphones. The way the game handles the 3D graphics is also super fresh and vital. I wish I’d played more, but I’m saving it for after Pokemon and Phoenix Wright.
Super Mario 3D World – The most brilliant execution of game mechanics released this year. That final boss…holy cow! It’s even fun for four players, unlike some of the NSMB games. Perfection. Get a Wii U and play it.
XCOM: Enemy Within – You’d think that the new additions would be incremental and not all that game-changing, but the MEC stuff and the difficulty curve tweaks for Classic have made this game way different and way tougher, but also…more fun. Those robot suits are badass.
Super Mario 3D Land – 3D World made me insanely curious about Land, another game people rave about. Holy eff. The way the system makes use of its 3D engine is super cool. This game is so full of brilliant platforming that feels more rewarding than anything else. It’s less ambitious than 3D World by necessity, but this game (so far) is just a wee bit better realized on its platform.
NES Remix – Less fun than I was hoping it would be. Making it more Wario-esque would have been better, I think. Still kind of neat and only $15.
Project X Zone – I think I’d need a little more time to have a definitive verdict on this, but it’s reasonably fun. I just want to play as Rockman. Right now.
The Walking Dead 400 Days – Five (very) short stories. Five (very) smartly told stories. I really do love how the vignettes say something about each person in the camp and about each person who plays the game. I only wish they hadn’t tied an achievement to the Paper, Rock, Scissors part.
The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just as polished and well put together as S1, in my opinion. I have no idea why some people haven’t liked the first episode as much. It’s tragic and brutal and just as insane.
Risk of Rain – Played a few rounds with Min and Lee. Brilliant co-op, but it feels just a touch half-done in its menus and interface. Worth continuing to investigate in 2014.
Yeah, this has nothing to do with a week summary. In fact, this happened in like…May, but I saw it and I love arepas and it looked so good. Mmmm…arepas…
Welcome to the last WIBD of the year! I’ve been a little bad about keeping up with this list throughout the year, but I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to and I hope to continue to talk about what I’m doing next year too.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Not the first time I’ve seen it, but the first time Katie’s ever seen it all the way through. Is the movie a little cheesy/corny when viewed in the 2010s? Yeah, a little, but it’s also kind of supposed to be that way. Solid fun.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – My dad randomly got way into The Hunger Games when he saw it with my brother and he wanted to watch Catching Fire, so we went to the movies early on Christmas and had us a jolly time. Definitely an exciting movie, but it’s not gonna win any awards or anything.
Key & Peele – Katie and Kara were randomly watching a few episodes. Hell of a show. Super hilarious.
How I Met Your Mother – The mother episodes continue being real stand-out affairs. Loved seeing Andrew Rannells again. He’s a funny dude.
Parenthood – Yeah, the mayor campaign subplot was a little silly. I also wasn’t expecting them to cancel the wedding.
Trophy Wife – I’d heard good things about the show and I do love Malin Åkerman, so this show seemed like it would be pretty good. On the whole, it’s a little predictable, but it’s got a solid cast and makes for some good laughs. Not gonna blow anyone away with groundbreaking comedy, but I will say that I laughed pretty hard a few times.
The Amazing Race – Moving on through season 21. I’m loving watching it again. I don’t know why people disliked this season, it was super fun.
I’m sure I’ve put The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” up here before, but it’s so tight. Damn…
Well Played 1.0: Video Games, value, and Meaning – Right now I’m on a good section about Shadow of the Colossus and something the author is calling “futile interactivity”, which really is an interesting mechanic that is not used often enough in games.
Civilization V – The long break has slowed Eric and David’s ability (mostly David’s) to play turns. It’s been an agonizing wait…
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Still on that final case. Just found out that there’s a nefarious third party influencing things, but I have no idea where we’re supposed to proceed in this case. Getting interesting.
Super Mario 3D Land – The good times I experienced in Super Mario 3D World made me want to go back and view the source material. It makes a lot of the things I saw in 3D world make a little more sense as an extension of things introduced in 3D Land, but 3D Land uses depth in ways that are way neater, but also impossible on a non-3D system.
XCOM: Enemy Within – Another game bites the dust. Moved on to a new game and turned off the Second Wave stuff. It makes the game more interesting and tougher, but I’m having too hard a time actually winning for me to leave them on. I’ll start to remix on further playthroughs.
NES Remix – Nintendo stealth released this during their most recent Nintendo Direct. It’s a little like WarioWare, but without the zaniness. The idea is that you’re supposed to complete mini challenges with old NES classics within a time limit. Works pretty well, but some of those old games are tough. Also it’s weird that they don’t allow custom button mappings. I don’t want to use A and B, I want to use Y and B.
Pokemon Y – Barely beat that ice gym thanks to Sturdy. I mean, I almost lost, for sure. All my original team is gone/dead, so I’m down to a new set that I’m grinding up to level 50 before I try to tackle Victory Road. The Elite Four is gonna be a struggle, I know it.
Super Mario 3D World – I played this a whole bunch with my siblings over the break and…holy cow, still so good. That final world?! That FINAL BOSS?! Just an incredible moment that I totally dug. I need to talk about it more, but I’ll probably talk about it in my year end video game thing.
Project X Zone – Ok, picture this: What if Namco, Capcom, and Sega made a crossover tactical RPG game with all their famous characters? That’s what this is. I played the demo before picking it up and Ryu and Ken were battling monsters with Valkyria Chronicles dudes. Namco guys were there too (no idea who they were). It’s neat, but I don’t think I have the hang of the battle system yet. Looking forward to putting more time in next year.
Risk of Rain – Played this with Lee and Min. It starts off feeling a little thin because you’ve only got one guy unlocked, but with two we seemed to be getting the hang of it a lot more. Really fun as a multiplayer game. Can’t wait to get more time in with the guys.
The Walking Dead 400 Days – It’s short, but it’s more of that Walking Dead flavor that everyone needs. It’s full of short vignettes about companionship and survival and I really loved all the connections between the characters.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Unlocked the first item to rent (bow), but I haven’t entered the Eastern Temple yet. Loving the game so far.
The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just…brutal. There’s this thing that happens where Clementine’s trust is betrayed…SO GOOD.
Brilliant game. (Photo by Eddie Shannon)
Thanks to a snowstorm Katie, Min, Lee, and I got to play some Left 4 Dead. I’d forgotten how sharp that game’s design was!
The Amazing Race – I was spot on with my predictions last week. Super fun episode and, surprisingly, Tim and Marie ended up my favorite racers by the end.
The Daily Show – Watched a few eps here and there, but the white/black Santa bit was…HILARIOUS. Definitely watch the opening 10 mins or so of the Evangeline Lilly episode. So hilarious.
Plays of the Month: April – We had to start somewhere. I was hoping for more Marlins/Orioles highlights, but it was still loads of fun. Under 60 days to pitchers and catchers!
Community – Saw a season 5 trailer and decided that I should actually watch the last two episodes of season 4. I didn’t really enjoy the retcon of the way the characters were all related, but at least it was funny enough. The finale was a little silly (it’s all a dream, seriously?), but I like where it sets up the show to go in S5. Plus darkest timeline Annie…wow…
Homeland – I’m baffled by how much critics seem to love the finale of S3. I thought it was kind of safe and convenient and every happy outcome that you’d expect happened. It felt too happy. Plus Carrie is a terrible employee of the CIA and shouldn’t be a station chief. I also would have liked to see the rest of the Brodys and how they reacted to Nick being on tv as a propaganda tool and his execution. Anyway, I found the season to be vastly inferior to the first and normally inferior to the second.
Project Runway: All-Stars – It feels weird that I recognize so many of these designers. As I’ve said before, still a decent show. Plus it teaches me a little more about fashion.
I like Straight No Chaser’s version of the “12 Days of Christmas”
Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value, and Meaning – I finished the Super Mario Bros. section, but I found it to be a little to simplistic. It was covering stuff that I already knew too well. The Advance Wars section is more interesting and I’m appreciating some of the game design stuff I’m learning, but I’m hoping things get more in depth, a la David Sirlin’s writing about game systems.
Super Mario 3D World – Just a few mins of this. Really excited to get down with it in Florida.
Rayman Legends – A few levels of this too. I liked the more complicated Murphy wheels.
Left 4 Dead – Kate got her first games in and she loved it. Makes me really happy because I’d talked up how good it was before. I hope she continues to love it and digs part 2 as well.
XCOM: Enemy Within – New game seems to be going better, but I’m losing some good men. I’m hoping for better luck on the council missions, because they’re really tough.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – I’m pretty sure I mentioned that I beat case 3, right? Well case 4 involves…ASTRONAUTS! So cool. I wish I hadn’t seen a spoiler about the culprit, but it’s still been an interesting case so far and I’m a long way from that spoiler.
Rock Band 3 – Busted out this bad boy once again to play with Katie and Min. She dug drumming and I started to recover my strumming abilities. Just gotta start singing too next time. Our new band is awesome
Spelunky – I got cocky about beating David’s score and then…I died. Goddammit…
Weird to see Benedict Cumberbatch with a Southern accent (Photo courtesy touchedmuch)
It’s been a surprisingly movie-filled week! I don’t usually talk about the sporting events I watched here, but that was a hell of a Ravens game yesterday, wasn’t it!
12 Years a Slave – What an intense movie. Extremely well-acted and a brilliant counterpoint to Django Unchained. Where Django took revenge for slavery, 12 Years a Slave makes it a hell of a lot more personal and is that much better for it. The flick is tough to watch sometimes, but it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year (so far).
Little Big League – My favorite of the baseball movies that came out when I was a kid. Holds up remarkably well as an adult. I don’t know if Min liked it as much as Kate and I did, but it’s pretty solid.
Love Actually – I expected it to be good and romantic, but I really didn’t expect the nudity or the swearing. I thought it was tame and PG-13 type stuff, but I think it’s way more interesting this way in that it’s not sanitized or too safe. Good movie!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Terry’s back in the field! Andre Braugher does deadpan so hilariously, but the popping and locking was even better.
The Mindy Project – Heck of a dance number in the middle of that episode.
The Amazing Race – So the finale for season 23 is on my DVR and I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS! I’m thinking that the Afghanimals might get eliminated and Jason and Amy might win. We’ll see!
Almost Human – I love sci-fi shows. Love ‘em. I dig shows about robots too. This is the perfect match for me. It’s pretty much a police procedural in the future at this point, but that’s cool with me. Robots! With senses of humor!
Homeland – …I dunno. Everyone’s just so unprofessional and irrational in this show. I liked that the episode was an abbreviated retelling of the first two seasons, but I hate so much about this show this season and I really hope Brody either doesn’t make it out of Tehran…or he turns on the US and becomes the big bad for season 4.
I really just love “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend. I’m sure I’ve posted it here before, but we’re doing it anyway!
Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value, and Meaning – Read the essay on Ico and I’m partway through the Super Mario Bros. one. Nothing groundbreaking yet, but I love reading this kind of stuff about games anyway, so I’m not too bothered by it.
Super Mario 3D Land – Played the first level to activate SpotPass, but I’ve been focusing on beating Phoenix Wright first so that I can get to Zelda and finish Pokemon too. So many 3DS games!
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Case 3 is DONE! The culprit was who I thought it was (it was really kind of obvious, actually) and I wish that I hadn’t accidentally ended up spoiling the final culprit for myself, but Case 4 is certainly intriguing so far (astronaut defendant!)
Pokemon Y – Beat Lysandre (almost lost my Min pokemon to a Mega Gyarados. He held on with 3 HP) and I’m in some cave now. Gotta get the gyms and the elite 4 done, but I’m on the home stretch. Did lose my Pidgeotto, Sawyer. Replaced him with a Marowak.
XCOM: Enemy Within – I’m on my eighth save file trying to get it going right. Game 7 was going really well…until I failed the first part of Progeny and Daniel and David died. Then I completely wiped on Slingshot’s first mission, losing Katie, Molly, Lee, and Kunal. Another wipe meant I had to restart. MEC suits kick ass. Can’t wait to get it going again.
Hashtag Stay Hungry
Remember that charity thing a million years ago? Here’s the picture we took with Adam Jones. Pretty cool.
30 for 30: The Band That Wouldn’t Die – I don’t remember if I classified the last 30 for 30 I watched as a movie or not, but for the sake of filling out this section, why not, right? As for the documentary itself, what a neat portrait of football in MD. I would never have realized the depths to which the city loved that old team and how heartbroken they were. Made me really excited to see the band at that Ravens/Jets game I went to.
The Amazing Race – Between current episodes, lunch break episodes, and episodes with Katie, I’ve seen about 20 to 25 episodes of the race between posts. Not regretting a single episode. It really is an addictive bit of television and the only reality competition I can (more than) comfortably stomach.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Best new show of the year, by far. “Terry needs nutrients!” “Where’s the buckle, Santiago?”. Brilliant stuff. Very funny. Why aren’t you watching this? The fireman/police rivalry reminds me of the parks/libraries rivalry in Parks & Recreation
New Girl – “Hey Jason Street” made me laugh so much. If you don’t get it then you haven’t watched enough Friday Night Lights. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I don’t find the inclusion of Coach to be as well handled as Adam Pally’s integration into The Mindy Project. Having both Coach and Winston just makes me feel like the writers don’t know what to do with either of them.
The Mindy Project – It’s quietly one of the funnier shows on television, but it seems that it’s going on hiatus in January. It’s a bummer because of how funny everyone on it is, but the show is kind of all over the place right now and some time off could help. Just don’t get rid of Adam Pally!
How I Met Your Mother – The oddness of separating the cast and squeezing the whole season into a single weekend has produced some ridiculously funny moments, but also some clunky, uninspired episodes. I think it’s ultimately successful, but it’s still been a weird decision.
Parks and Recreation – I like that Leslie got recalled and success isn’t guaranteed for everyone, but it’s been an oddly paced season because NBC keeps releasing episodes in bursts (and then Parks is also headed for hiatus, I think).
Homeland – This season…It’s been a clusterfuck. Just poorly paced and unnecessarily confusing. The twists are sometimes satisfying, but I find it less and less believable that Carrie could possibly work for the CIA. I also find the show’s dedication to the Carrie/Brody romance to be…ill-advised.
How about some silliness? Here’s Dan Deacon’s 50% reduction of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”
We Can't Stop by Dan Deacon
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Katie gifted me a Kindle and I immediately picked this up for my first read. I first heard of Junot Diaz when he guest DJ-ed on Alt.Latino and I found him so intriguing that I wanted to read Oscar Wao. Turns out it was a fantastic idea. I may not be Dominican, but the book so beautifully captures life in the diaspora. It felt a lot like parts of my life felt and it was perfectly written. I would recommend it to anyone.
Assassination Vacation – This one was read on the bus rides to and from New York Thanksgiving weekend. I wish that the sections on not-Lincoln were better developed, but the book was a fascinating look at aspects of American politics, presidents, and assassinations that I’d never come across before. Very interesting.
ell Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning – Read the intro and a few pages of the chapter on Ico, but this appears to be a collection of scholarly essays about video games. It was free and it looks like it’ll be interesting enough to read.
Pac-Man CE DX + – I blew through the achievements while waiting for Katie. Still the best Pac-Man game ever made.
Spelunky – I got in a daily challenge like, weeks ago. I. Am. Rusty.
Organ Trail – This is pretty much exactly Oregon Trail, but a zombie mod. Decent, but also…slow
Samurai Showdown – I play this a few minutes here and there to kill time while on my phone. It’s a decent RTS, but the lack of control and bad AI makes it unnecessarily difficult sometimes.
Rayman Legends – Brilliant 2D platforming, as you might expect, with fantastic music to boot. I was pleasantly surprised how much fun Katie, Min, and I had playing this for a bit.
XCOM: Enemy Within – Haven’t really passed the opening few months, but I’m loving the MEC troopers. Loads of fun to use. The game is also paced very differently (much harder!). I should turn off some of the Second Wave options I’ve turned on…
Plants vs. Zombies 2 – Do not like playing this on my phone at all. Would rather play on my desktop.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Unbelievably perfect music combines with impressive graphics and framerate. I need to put more than an hour in before I can render a judgement, but it will be favorable.
Super Mario 3D World – Perfection. This game is the Mario game you’ve been craving. Tons of fun with multiple people. I can’t wait to try it with Katie. We’ve just got to find the time…
New Super Luigi Bros. – Played this on the gamepad while people were sleeping (Wii U is so cool!). These levels are devious, but actually really good.
Pokemon Y – I saved the world from Yvestal, but now I’ve still got to beat the 8th gym and the Elite Four. Interest is on the rise, but I also realize that I’m not as close to done as I think I am.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – I’m on day 2 of case 3, but there have been enough fun twists and turns that I’ve been really captivated by the case. Can’t wait to see how it ends. I bet Professor Means was the murderer…
Clever ad copy for one of the best shows this season. (Photo by Katya Yakubov)
It’s been another awesome week! I got to meet Adam Jones at a tailgate and watch the Ravens win along with…all the stuff below!
None this week!
The Amazing Race – Katie and I shotgunned the entire tenth season because it had a leg that passed through Madagascar. I think she’s really starting to get into the show, which is great because it’s loads of fun to watch. I’m also working on the fifth season on my own and watching the current season. I’m really liking Nicole and Travis to win the race…
Masters of Sex – The show is pretty slow-moving, but I’m really enjoying the way that it’s setting up its relationships and plotlines so far. Lots of great character work.
How I Met Your Mother – Ask and ye shall receive, I guess. The mother made an appearance, but now I’m gonna complain that she’s not interacting with the present day cast. Soon enough, I’d think!
New Girl – Coach is back! I forgot how he was supposed to be characterized, but it was a little disappointing. Just felt trite and overdone with the whole “guy acting like girlfriends are controlling their friends” thing. His role in Happy Endings was way more interesting. Also who remembered that Winston used to play basketball in Europe?!
The Mindy Project – It’s a bummer that this show probably isn’t gonna survive, because it’s just got so many hilarious lines. They’re usually throaways, but they make me and Katie laugh so hard anyway…
Homeland – Remember how Homeland never lets you get comfortable because it’s always “GO GO GO!”? It’s that again for sure. Did you think we’d have another quiet interrogation episode like last year? Nope. Carrie’s already laying out the long con. It was pretty cool, but they seem to be randomly mismanaging stuff, so people ended up…dead.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys today because I heard it this morning and I love it.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Second case is progressing and I’m getting really close to finishing off the proper verdict. Still fun, if not a little quirky and weird. This case has been pretty convoluted and I’m still not sure where all the details are going to end up.
Pokemon Y – One gym leader left!
Tiny Death Star – F2P gaming at its worst, but it’s fine to set timers and have going on in the background for all the silly Star Wars jokes.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 – I’d rather play this on my PC. It’s not the worst, but it’s still not anywhere near as good…
Who doesn’t love novelty tweezers?
I’ve gotten really bad at doing these in a timely fashion. Gotta get back up on that horse…
Under African Skies – Katie’s favorite album is Graceland and we happened upon a track on the 25th anniversary album where Paul Simon explained how the song was constructed. It really got us in the mood to look for some kind of documentary about the album and, lo and behold, this movie exists and it was on Hulu+. The documentary is fascinating, both politically and musically, and definitely well worth seeing.
New Girl – The whole Keaton concept was actually a really funny premise. It’s also a pretty clever way to get Schmidt out of the loft for a few episodes so Damon Wayans, Jr. can return as Coach for a bit. I’m so excited for that storyline, mostly because I miss the superior hangout show, Happy Endings. It’s gonna go one of two ways: Winston will be hilarious and we’ll all love him more for being on this show OR it’s gonna further highlight how little they had for Winston to do all this time and how loose a grasp they have on his character.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Pretty good Halloween episode. After a few “Lone Wolf” Peralta episodes, the show has really been focusing on its (excellent) ensemble. I’ve been really enjoying the way that everyone gels and how the adversarial relationhip they set up in the pilot between Holt and Peralta has mostly turned into a jovial, accepting one.
The Mindy Project – The nude photo exhibit episode was just…hilarious. Having all those photos in the background of the final scenes was hilarious. The MMA episode…less fun. I’m still enjoying Adam Pally on the show, but, man does this show feel stuffed!
How I Met Your Mother – Where’s the mother?! I was kind of hoping she’d appear in more episodes than she has.
Homeland – Did Homeland cheat a little with its plotting this season for the twist? No. I don’t think so. It’s actually reasonablby tight in retrospect. The real question is whether or not that crazy twist is worth leaving us all kind of spinning in the wind for a few episodes or not. Why not let us know that this is the plan from the getgo and let the tension arise from worrying about the plan messing up or the strain that Carrie is actually suffering under?
The Amazing Race – Real bummer to see the beards go. They were an interesting team. I also wish the earlier teams used the U-Turns. Also: don’t switch Detours!
Parenthood – The mayor plotline still feels a little bit like a reach, but I don’t think we’re supposed to think that closely about Parenthood episodes, right?
Archer – Space episodes. Both super funny.
I’m in a Paul Simon mood. Here’s “I Know What I Know”
Hmm…I really gotta get back on this train.
Pokemon Y – The Nuzlocke is going well. I’m in the Frost Caverns, but I lost a bunch of dudes, including Katie and Chen.
Civilization V – I might finally get to capture a pirate in the Mesa Bros. game and in the game with David I’m battling for territory with Persia and Rome. I might try and pit Persia against Rome to take a bite out of Roman power…
Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies – I’ve played through the first case and I’m partway through the second. The new mood matrix is a little more interesting to me than the way that they approached Apollo’s power of spotting tics in AA4. Athena’s a pretty cool character and it’s good to have Phoenix back. So far it’s been a lot of fun, but I haven’t met the new prosecutor yet nor have I done extensive investigations. It feels like they hold your hand a little more in the investigation phase, but maybe that’s not a bad thing…
Candy Box 2 – Everything interesting about Candy Box has been turned up to 11 in this game. I’ve been having a blast with how weird and fun it is. Great to just spend a few minutes to maximize my lollipop production.
Hometown Story – This game just feels cheaply and poorly done. It lacks some polish, but I’ve also only really given it a half hour. Maybe it’ll get better with more time, but in a single day’s worth of gameplay Recettear seemed a lot more cohesive and with it.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 – Like the first one, only more advanced and with microtransactions. Would I prefer to play this on my pc? Absolutely. Is it acceptable on the phone? Sure.