Chicago and Perfect Weather

Didn’t think they went together did you? They sure as climate change did this weekend. Cara and I biked and walked all over the balmified windy city, doing yoga betwixt the skyscrapers on 100o F astroturf, getting my feet analyzed at Fleet Sports (and Cara’s new favorite footwear!), to Sweetgreens, through the Chicago Cubs fans exiting on a high (chanting “USA USA” suck it Trump), on to pure-lefty palsy-frisbee… Also: devouring Nepalese food and playing Roblox with Christian, and getting 100% down with Johnny Lang at the House of Blues. Whoo!

I <3 Psychonauts, Kickstarter and Double Fine!

The kids were pondering if there would ever be another Psychonauts, googled a bit, and found out plans had just been released for another game! We were all overjoyed. Then I ran into the full story when exploring Kickstarter – viva Kickstarter! viva the Internets! viva the people!

The next game by the Psychonauts creators will use a prepaid patronage model! I’m in! Finally someone is pulling this off on a big budget item! I’ve been ranting about this approach for years. Wish I had more time to work on it, my ideas are awesome… ha!

AND.. for my finale… I played Monkey Island on my Amiga before you were born!! :P

Psychnauts ][ maybe

9.5 Fallout New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas
Gaming has been such a rich experience for me, and my life has been better for it. There are so many wonderful worlds in my head created by game developers and shared with my family and friends.

But just like my moral objection to vengeance-fueled thrillers that play on people’s worst desire for vigilante justice, I don’t like useless gratuitous violence in video games. It’s polluted the space that should be filled with wit and creativity. I realize this places me outside the typical gamer demographic, and reduces my street cred. Whatever. It also makes it nearly impossible to indulge in gaming without some compromise. Read More

Wrenny and I get bohemian

Wrenny and I spent Sunday afternoon at the local coffeehouse. We had a great time drinking a “frappĂ©” (latte blended with ice) spiked with chocolate syrup, yum… Kept us fuelled up for a nice long game of Elfenland. In the end it was a dead even tie, broken by Wrenny smashing my remaining pieces before I could get hers. :P
We also played Bluetooth games across the iPhone and iPod touch. Whee!

A-PAXing we will go…

PAX 2009 flew by like a sonic jet. Dan and I met out in Seattle again this year (we did it once before in 2007) for the Penny Arcade Gaming Expo. In my quest to find work, I picked up a pretty nice Macbook Pro so I can do iPhone development. It turns out that it has a nice dedicated GPU, can boot into Windows, and with the latest Bootcamp set of Windows drivers that came with the latest OS X (10.6 aka Snow Leopard), it fully supports Windows 7 RC, to the point where I was ripping it up with all the latest games. What a deal! Dan kept the party rolling with a new laptop purchase in the 11th hour, so that by the time the games began on Friday morning, we had covered half of Seattle on foot but managed to be fully geared up.

On Friday we spent a lot of time in BYOC setting up the shiny new rigs. Saturday was a full day of joyous fun, from 10am ’til 2am (that’s 5am EST, for those keeping score). We played Legions on a local instantaction.com server (I was happy to place in the middle of the pack in the deathmatch tourney), a 100+-player Trackmania Nations Forever contest, Call of Juarez, Fallout 3, Eve Online, Marble Madness, board games including Puerto Rico, and most of the PAX 10, including Tag, Osmos, Puzzlebloom, etc. And we caught a minute here and there of the excellent panels, incliding watching Gabe and Tycho put together the strip for that day. Sunday we kept plugging away while managing to collect over a dozen t-shirts – LOTS of Tribes loot! On Monday we gamed the most, with our homebrew LAN-out-of-a-suitcase setup in the hotel, shooting each other endlessly in Juarez, and still managed to get to the mall to buy the wives something. And there was so much good food… Red Fin tempura, Cheesecake Factory, cyber-dogs… the Teriyaki rage of 2007 has been replaced by Pho on every corner (HOT hot salty yummy soup). When you get it to go, you get a vat of hot water and all the ingredients to build it yourself. And of course, literally, Starbucks on every corner. In central Seattle I had a triple-shot latte that made my day. Too much fun. Thanks Danno!!

Andrea heads to the beach

Andrea packed her bags and headed to the beach with her book club buddies this weekend. The girls and I (and Grammy on occasion) had fun playing Age of Mythology, Tribes, soccer, wrestling, cooking cinnamon rolls, walking the dogs, getting takeout at the Gillespies (including Guitar Hero and Carcassonne games), going for pizza with the Prevosts… wow, we did a lot! :>

The Bedridden Critic

So during my recovery time I’ve managed to pile up a bit of good old entertainment consumption. Feeling like crap while I consumed, however, may have lead to harsher-than-usual reviews. Suck it up!

Books

  • City of Thieves by David Benioff: Holy smokes this was good. This guy wrote the screenplay for the Wolverine movie and his Hollywood sensibility comes through like a razor blade. You’ll encounter the most horrific scenes imaginable, and you’ll laugh as you cheer on some amazingly charismatic characters, too. A full-spectrum adventure.
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: I can’t imagine a more in-depth look at the intimate details of a person’s life. The rich tapestry covers three generations of colorful characters, but the main story revolves around the special situation of the protagonist. Definitely engaging and interesting.
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Didn’t make it through this one. On any other day I may have enjoyed the snarky smart-assed jabbing at India’s privileged class from the trenches, but there was just too much negativity to wade through. I may revisit this, it may be the ultimate study in sarcasm.

Movies

  • The Whale Rider: I was in the perfect mindset for this elegant study of the challenges to a small girl as she finds her place of leadership in her New Zealand tribe, even as the tribe adapts to the modern world. If you can slow down and feel the flowing currents of spirituality and beauty, this will move you.
  • The Wrestler: Looking at Mickey Rourke is painful, let’s not pull punches. In the same way, this movie is painful and sorrowful. He can’t break from his hard lifestyle even as it grinds him up. Well worth it. I felt like we were suffering together. :>
  • A Quantum of Solace: Why the hell can’t James Bond talk any more? How can you be suave if you never speak? He’s even often a vengeful jerk. Fine if you want meatheaded action; I say meh.
  • The Day The Earth Stood Still: Finally got around to watching this sci-fi classic that Mark Welch gave me. I love the polish and style of Cary Grant’s movies, and this reminded me of them. With a pretty resilient sci-fi theme, I found this very old movie to still have a lot of value.
  • Doubt: A nice study of different approaches to finding true divinity. The three central characters all contribute very different views and yet you can relate to each one at different times.
  • Star Trek: Good times all around, my favorite action movie of 2009 by a landslide. Thank you J. J. Abrams, Karl Urban, and the rest of you geniuses. Make sure you see it at an IMAX theater!
  • Taken: Steaming pile of hateful vengeance thriller refuse. Watching Liam Neeson go from Shindler’s List to this was harder than watching Harrison Ford’s fall from grace. *sigh*
  • Australia: I loved this movie because the beautiful cinematography was displayed for me in 1080p. I enjoyed the epic story as well. But there was definitely some souring when my wife pointed out how wrecked Nicole Kidman’s lips are. Sorry Nicole – it was a good effort.
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There: Coen brothers, so it’s a win. One of Scarlett Johansson’s earlier movies. It’s a slow character study, and the man who wasn’t there is also a man of few words. Be in a Jim Jarmusch mood and you’ll love it.
  • Yes Man: Good to know Jim Carey is still willing to do some slapstick gags. Zooey Deschanel is in this so a thumbs up is automatic. Gosh golly she’s great…

Games

  • Force Unleashed: Played through it on the Wii, stick with the controls and soon you’ll be slashing and punching through the air like a Sith Lord. Sweet fun.
  • Age of Mythology: The girls and I dig this one out on occasion because it’s jammed full of so many fun bells and whistles. With Bailey visiting, I scrapped together a fourth PC, but it couldn’t keep up with the other nicer rigs. So I watched as the girls destroyed moderate opponents, then played a suicide game against computer opponents on the hardest AI setting with a 100% handicap. They are crazy. And they actually lasted a while, running to every nook and cranny of the map. Ha!
  • The World Ends With You: This little DS game packs a lot into the mix. The fighting is fun, as you have to scratch and slash and tap while punching out combo moves on the pad, crazy. Not sure if I’m a fan of RPG shopping, though… :> Interesting, anyway.
  • Carcassonne with the Catapult Expansion: Wren, Reiley, Andrea, Bailey and I played a massive game with at least half a dozen expansions, including a new catapult expansion. We filled the kitchen table with tiles. It turned out that the catapult thingee was pure goofiness – you fire onto the board and make a mess of things – and the catapult was so slipshod that you couldn’t even hit the board. Still, we had lots of fun. Bailey swept the game!

Wow, that’s a lot of slacking… I feel really tired now… :P

Pirates everywhere!

The girls and I gave Andrea the Pirates’ Cove board game for Christmas, and it’s turned out to be great fun. In the first game, we teamed up to go up against the Flying Dutchman, with cannons that “heal” every firing volley, and we managed to sink her! Wren loves the Pirates of the Carribean movies, and she continued the theme on her birthday – everyone came dressed up as a pirate! We burned the edges of the invitations, the sign on the door (“Beware There Be Pirates!”), and everything else we could think of. We served rum (ok, it was really lemonade). I made a treasure map that had the girls running around the house, and included a Piratey Perplexor Puzzle (say that three times fast). And a couple days later, on the actual day of her birthday, she got another pirate board game, Dead Man’s Treasure, which is “easy to learn but difficult to master”, and the Pirates of the Carribean game for the Wii, so we could swashbuckle all day long – it uses a fun linear cinematic style of play. ARRRR!