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What I’ve Been Doing 29 Oct. 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 31st, 2012 by Dan

Hurricane Sandy (2012): 60 km Wind Area Forecast

I hope everyone else who was affected by the hurricane is also fine. (Photo courtesy Canadian Pacific)

The hurricane barely did any damage to my place up in Baltimore, but I hope that any of you who were in worse areas of who have family in worse areas are fine.

Movies

Not this week.

TV

How I Met Your Mother – The competition for godfather was not that funny. This season in general: not that funny.

Key & Peele – Not their strongest episode, but I liked the Celebrity sketch and the electoral college sketch.

Happy Endings – S2 and the S3 premiere. Fantastic stuff. This show is hilarious. So glad it’s back

Saturday Night Live – Applegate’s monologue with the fake Muppets and Jason Sudekis as Dane Cook was great. Man, that Siren sketch was hilarious too. Smart of them to have Bruno Mars sing more than he acts.

The Amazing Race – This show is way cooler than I ever knew. I wish I’d been watching more. The taxi screw-ups really made the loss by the prosthetic leg hurt to watch. Lotta transportation issues, actually.

Scrubs – Started watching this to have on in the background while I played Pokemon. Season 1 of this show was really great, wasn’t it? They got a little too far away from the serious side as the show progressed.

Homeland – Holy shit, you guys! How did I wait three weeks to catch up on the latest eps? This show is so good! I love the Brody as a double agent thing they got going now. The car accident thing reeks of Landry and Tyra in S2 of Friday Night Lights.

New Girl – They were going for an I Love Lucy-esque level of physical comedy, but I don’t know if they quite achieved it here. The Nick stuff is hilarious, per usual.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: – Caught up. The 21 Jump Street parody was pretty great. Loved that one. The lack of technology one…not as much.

Childrens Hospital – Not their best, but it was funny to see Michael Cera in an old man getup.

Nashville – Despite only having a slight appreciation for country music, this show is actually pretty good. I mean, any show that features music from The Civil Wars is fine by me, but even beyond that I’m enjoying it a ton.

The Daily Show – That bit with Muppet versions of the correspondents was hilarious.

Fashion Police – Girlfriend time! The Halloween costume thing wasn’t as funny as they all thought it was, but Kelly Osbourne had a decent Katy Perry costume.

Arrested Development – Brilliant show. Too bad that Tiffany saved Good Grief and Amigos! for home. Those eps are hilarious!

Dexter – Everyone said this season was better. Everyone’s right so far. Two eps in, but I’m digging it. Love that they finally let someone important know Dexter was a killer.

Music

Hotline Miami’s got a hazy, dreamlike, excellent soundtrack. Enjoy.

Books

Not this week.

Video Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – It’s been a while since I’ve actually played this game, but I’ve gotta get filming some more eps soon.

FTL: Faster Than Light – Man, those Cowboy Bebop episodes were fantastic, weren’t they!

Professor Layton and the Curious Village – Beat it! The story was a little predictable, but it was still fun to do all the puzzles. Great series.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – Randomly got some Dark Notes. Cool beans.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – The transition to 3D hasn’t seemed to harm it yet. I love the more advanced graphics and I’m digging it.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit – I suppose I agree with the GB folks about the single player mode being nowhere near as good as the multiplayer. Love the multi and I’m glad that the GB community exists so that I could have a decent Autolog list to race against.

The Book Club Vol. 5 and 6 [ER]
Oct 25th, 2012 by Dan

SWEEP THE LEG!

What I’ve Been Doing 22 Oct. 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 22nd, 2012 by Dan

What a bizarre TV show theme to remake. Just obscure and weird and I loved every second of it. Hilarious.

Movies

The Avengers – Viewing numero tres. Still really enjoy this movie. Was hoping to make it four viewings, but bedtime for Eric and Danielle came too soon.

TV

New Girl – They really have no clue what to do with Winston. This most recent episode has Schmidt at his most unbearable too. If they were firing on all four cylinders at the start of this season, they certainly aren’t now. On a far less damning note, Zoeey Deschanel’s character is a billion times better written and realized than when she was just “adorkable”.

The Mindy Project – Mindy Kaling’s distinct comedy voice is still working pretty well for me. I loved how the nurse ended up being a bathroom attendant in the club. Nice comedic turn.

The Greatest Event in Television History – An elaborate setup for an ultimately ridiculous premise. I mean, remaking the opening to Simon & Simon? So bizarre, but definitely hilarious.

Childrens Hospital – Really ambitious episode about a year in the hospital. Very well done, but no Malin Akerman makes me sad.

The League – Everyone’s favorite inappropriate fantasy football comedy is back with a vengeance. Every Shiva blast makes me cackle with laughter. Glad to have it back.

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives – The Cuban restaurant in Chicago didn’t look that great, but I would have dug the lobster corn dogs or the Annapolis, MD BBQ.

Extreme Couponing and Extreme Cheapskates – Both of these shows are filled with people that drive me crazy. I can’t talk about this without ranting…

Misc. SNL Sketches – Eric showed me some stuff from the Applegate and Mars episodes. I’ll get to them on my time too.

Music

This guy, Nils Frahm, plays piano quietly with a mic turned up super high to capture everything. That includes creaking chairs, the sounds of the hammer striking the strings, and, naturally, the haunting beauty of his piano playing. Enjoy!

Books

Off-week

Video Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Oh god, soooo much XCOM. Totally worth it to make it through Classic Ironman. Too bad that wasn’t my recorded game!

FTL: Faster Than Light – Had some good, eventful runs to film. Had a lot of fun filming them too.

Pokemon White Version 2 – Oh man, down to only two pokemon, my Herdier and my Pignite. Stupid crit-ing Rattatas…

Professor Layton and the Curious Village – Making good progress! I’m up to Ch. 4 or 5 and I’m beginning to get to the bottom of these mysteries. I think that the townspeople might be clockwork people and I’m fairly certain Inspector Chulmey is a bad guy. Enjoying the puzzles too much, actually. I was up until like 0030 solving them.

You Never Forget Your First Time #2: Wisdom Tree’s Bible Adventures
Oct 22nd, 2012 by Eric

Here’s my second entry in YNFYFT

Save the Date Trailer [FB/ER]
Oct 19th, 2012 by Dan

I know what you’re thinking, “Today surely couldn’t feature two videos that have Alison Brie in them.”

Welp, you’re wrong! Here’s a trailer for a movie starring Alison Brie, Lizzy Caplan (another favorite of mine), Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, and Mark Webber. Looks dramatic, but good!

Community Makes Up For Not Being Here With a Video [IB/GO]
Oct 19th, 2012 by Dan

Even though I probably already sent this to the parties that would be interested, this video might help dull the pain that NBC caused by pushing back Community‘s start date. We miss you, Community. Come back to us soon!

Memories of Blue and Silver [GO]
Oct 19th, 2012 by Dan

I never pick Squirtle, but he’s still pretty awesome. (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

Way back in 1998 (holy crap, that was 14 years ago!) Nintendo Power started the long game of hyping up this weird little Pocket Monsters game that was exploding with popularity in Japan. This quirky little RPG was coming stateside and they wanted us all to know about it.

I’m sure you can guess that I was once a proud subscriber to Nintendo Power and a bigger RPG fan then than I’d say I am now. In those days David and I still sometimes shared a room. We spent many a night chatting about video games and pretending we were superheroes.

Pokemon was an instant hit in our imaginations. A sweet Gameboy game that was reliant on trading and would allow us to battle each other? It’s perfect. When you have a brother you’re close with, co-op or otherwise 2P games are always a sweet proposition, not to mention that we’d have something to do together on road trips because it was portable.

That Butterfree doesn’t stand a chance (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

 

What torture, though, that the game was announced in January, but wouldn’t launch until September. Until then we were forced to look at pictures of the creatures and plan out our approach. David would get Red since Charizard looked the coolest. My starter would be Bulbasaur because it was cuter than Squirtle.

I might be mistaken here, but I doubt we even received it until Christmas. On that fine day it was finally ours and it was incredible. Our devotion to the trading game started early as we restarted our games to trade each other the three starters. There’s a memory kicking around in my head of doing this in the family van, probably on a road trip. It’s crazy to think of now, but this was all pre-Pokemon breeding. That meant we had to redo the intro and unlock trading five times to give each other a full set. Pretty involved stuff, but well worth having access to all three starters.

I used to think it was cheap that your Rival (named Dave back then, but always Min now) always picks the one you’re weak to. (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

 

I name my Totodiles Albert after the Gators nowadays (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

1998 wasn’t as tough as 1997 was for me, but I was still a 7th grader and the scars of the last year’s mocking and difficulty fitting in made me wary about sharing my inner Pokemaniac. There were friends of mine who openly played their Gameboys before class, but the consensus among most of the people I knew was that Nintendo’s Pokemon marketing was geared toward elementary school students. The hours I poured into Pokemon, the afternoons I spent watching the Pokemon episodes I’d taped that morning, those weren’t socially acceptable for me. I had friends who played video games, but I didn’t have friends who were video game nerds.

I sometimes regret not just being open about the things I liked, but that’s also part of growing up. It’s why Pokemon Silver, while still an incredible and epic journey (I mean, you collect the Kanto badges too!), captured my attention a little less. It’s also why I never bothered with Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald until much later.

David just found his Red/Gold carts and I’m sure I could find mine if I started a concerted search, but I can’t even imagine how many hours must have been logged on my copy of Blue. I mean, each version I’ve bought in my adult years easily have > 100 hours on their system clocks so Blue must be even higher!

The biggest shame about the series, really, is that the Gen I and II games aren’t compatible with Gen III and beyond. Sure, the mechanics of the Special stat and the lack of Pokemon Abilities would make it tough to move those guys forward, but I really wish I could have my first Mewtwo or my first Gengar still with me all the way from 1998. As it stands now, those poor guys are doomed to an inevitable death as their battery backup slowly fades.

Thankfully Phantasma (as I’ve named every Gengar I’ve ever caught from day 1) will always live on in my heart and memories.

Remember how the anime told us to use Gengar against Psychics, but his Poison typing and poor programming meant that this was a terrible mistake? (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

Professor Layton and the Curious Village [GO]
Oct 19th, 2012 by Dan

OBJECT–wait…wrong game. (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

The most damning thing I could say about Professor Layton and the Curious Village is that it adheres to its premise perhaps beyond the realm of believability. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but when a supposed murder occurs and everyone should, ostensibly, be freaking out, it’s not abnormal to have someone say, “Well, hey, that actually reminds me of a puzzle…”

It’s like Super Mario RPG. No one believes you’re Layton until you solve a puzzle (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

It’s that thing where you’re thinking, “Guys, I’m trying to solve a murder here. Will someone…ANYONE stop being an obtrusive pain in the ass and help me figure out who murdered your nephew?” Such is life in the town of St. Mystere. As many of the locals tell me, it’s a puzzle town. They’re bananas about puzzles.

Honestly it’s only an issue when I feel like the narrative is straining to introduce a reason why one of the 100+ puzzles is being presented to me. Even then, what’s the harm?

The point of Layton, naturally, is not to see a story, although some fans might argue otherwise. It is to solve as many puzzles as they can find and fit into the game. Puzzle design ranges from classic river crossing puzzles to block sliding, logic, mathematical, you name it. If there’s a type of puzzle out there it’s in the game.

Which is kind of awesome, really, because you rarely run into puzzles that are too similar to each other. In one you might be trying to figure out geometric identities, but the next might just be a logic puzzle whose answer is derived from careful reading rather than straining the old grey matter.

River crossing puzzles are great (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

 

I didn’t expect to love Layton given the fact that it’s widely regarded as a :scoff: casual game, but playing Puzzle Agent this summer proved that a quirky story was a fantastic framing device for a straight brainteaser type of game. I’m still pretty far from beating Layton, but, for what it’s worth, I’d say that Puzzle Agent had the more charming cast and story.

Oh, and on a final note (but not FINAL final, I mean, I’m only in Ch 3 of Layton), I wanted to mention that I am super lucky that the Nintendo DS was a region free system. I definitely wasn’t paying enough attention when I ordered my used copy because I found myself with the EU version of the game which, for reasons I don’t quite understand, differ beyond simply having extra ‘u’s in color or an ‘s’ in realise. There was at least one puzzle, that I know of, that involves digital clocks in the US version, but analog clocks in the EU. The puzzles that are changed from JP for Western audiences naturally make more sense, since you can’t have kanji puzzles in English, but this clock thing is baffling to me.

Exploring Sound in Super Mario Bros for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Oct 18th, 2012 by Eric

Hey, Eric again. (Don’t worry, I’m not taking over Dan’s blog….yet) Dan’s comment in yesterday’s video (You Never Forget your First Time #1) made me want to explore the unique way that the NES produced sound for its iconic game, Super Mario Bros. Thanks to emulation we’re able to listen to the sound from different chips and see just how it works together to make a song.

You Never Forget Your First Time #1: Super Mario Brothers
Oct 16th, 2012 by Eric

 

Join me, Eric, in my new video game series where I try and remember what it was like to play games from my youth for the first time. Our exciting first entry, Super Mario Brothers.

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