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What I’ve Been Doing 10 October 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 11th, 2011 by Dan

New Camera Tests

Totally unrelated to everything else, but I got a new camera!

Movies

Everything Must Go – Rebecca Hall is superb. I first saw her in The Prestige and I instantly fell in love with her acting. She’s a good understated and expressive actor. Will Ferrell in a drama is pretty neat too. He really shows a lot of range on this and I’d like to see his career move in this direction.

Bridesmaids – Saw it 1.75 times this weekend. I love this movie. Super funny. That screaming match at the bridal shower is so excellent that I stayed at my brother’s house just to watch it last night.

TV

Parks and Recreation – Tammy 1 is scary. Aubrey Plaza is hilarious. Didn’t really love the B- or C-plots of the second episode. Having her in the background reacting to stuff was absolutely hilarious. I hope they continue to use her more. The C-story in the Pawnee Book episode about Ann, Ron, and April was great, but I didn’t love the A-plot of that episode.

2 Broke Girls – Bad sign. The first time I laughed in the first five minutes was when my feed got messed up and the same line looped for a minute straight. It’s just not good. I dunno. This week is its last chance! Tune in next week to read that I stopped watching this show.

Homeland – Claire Danes does a great job here of being obsessive, kind of crazy, and great in a way that’s not the prescient, über-confident employee that the bosses can’t understand. Super cool so far.

Glee – All the frequent jump cuts make it damn near impossible to actually watch the dancing. I see what they were going for in the Mike Chang thing, but it was quasi-clumsy in execution because we have never cared about him as a character before. He’s a junior though, so that’s why we’re seeing him get more screentime. I wish they hadn’t abandoned Bieste’s malapropism tendency

New Girl – Seriously upped their funny game. This week’s episode was quite good. The show gets a stay of execution!

Up All Night – Weaker episode, but still got some hilarious moments like the one where they thought the Native American guy turned into a hawk. Will Arnett and Christina Applegate have tons of chemistry and Maya Rudolph is much better at her supporting role than I thought she’d be.

Community – Not my favorite episode, but pretty good. I liked the revelation that they’re the “mean clique”. Their vitriol toward Todd was hilarious too. “Offense taken!”

Music

Losing the Sheen – Who knew Justin McElroy’s wife, Sydnee, was so funny? They’ve got great chemistry and this podcast about two people who hadn’t seen an episode of Two and a Half Men until Charlie Sheen left the show is my favorite new podcast.

Books

REAMDE – I just know that the MMO stuff is gonna get a lot more important soon. I’m super intrigued. Can’t wait until some of the principals start interacting again.

(Comic Books Ahoy!)

Casanova: Avarita – This is why I read comic books. Creative and surreal and interesting. Makes super-effective use of the medium.

X-23 – Another well-drawn and well-written book. I love this story. Maybe I’ll pick up the old trades…

Mystic – Still a pretty generic story, but the well-drawn, Disney aesthetic is pretty cool.

Chew – Man, this book is good. Just brilliant and subversive and sneaky. Super funny.

SI: Heroes for Hire – Meh

Batwing – Don’t think I’m gonna keep reading this. Didn’t really capture my attention this week. I want to support minority characters, but my budget isn’t unlimited

Swamp Thing – Continues to get more intriguing. I love that it’s tying in with Animal Man. Fantastic panel design and great art.

Animal Man – The humanoids all look terrible and weird, but the horror aspects of this book are super cool. I’m down

Moon Knight – I’m still in love with Alex Maleev’s work. The book’s pacing is slow, but I don’t care as long as the art team remains.

Action Comics – A good comic book. That’s kind of a knock. It’s about as good as a conventional book can get (minus the art. Didn’t dig the art) where Casanova…that’s art.

Video Games

The Binding of IsaacI wrote about it a little bit already, but this game is pretty awesome. Good for short bursts of random gameplay. I’ve still not managed to beat it once.

Team Fortress 2 – Still solid. Not a bad way to spend any evening.

Gears of War 3 – Min threw a curveball here and suggested we play on Insane. I thought it would go very poorly, but it didn’t until we got to Act III, which is awesome. Lots of fun.

The Old Republic – NDA-ed!

Mass Effect 2 – Watched Eric play a little and David also started playing too, so I thought I would start my game up again to get my Paragon playthrough fixed. I wish the cover stuff was as well-developed as Gears 3, but Gears is also two years newer.

What I’ve Been Doing 29 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Aug 29th, 2011 by Dan

Hurricane Isabel

Thankfully the damage was minimal in MD.

Movies

Paprika – When the week started I didn’t realize I’d be getting back into Satoshi Kon so hardcore. I actually put off watching it two weeks ago because I thought it would be scarier, but it turned out to not be so bad (and it was awesome). Made me put Perfect Blue at the top of the queue. More here.

Perfect Blue – Definitely the freakier of the two movies. Excellent to see the roots of Satoshi Kon’s work. More here.

TV

Weeds – I was thinking that Nancy getting out of her problems would take a lot longer than one episode, wow. Still good, but wow. Silas and Nancy have always had an antagonistic relationship, but it’s weird to see them so at odds and it blowing up in Silas’ face when he trusts Harriet the Spy.

The Hour – Finished the episode. The spy elements are stupid and I don’t really understand why everyone thinks this is so great. Maybe another episode is required?

Retro Game Master – This week the Kacho tried to beat 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō. They added a nice touch where each time he entered a new area/prefecture they would give him a local delicacy. The episodes they’ve been choosing to localize have gotten funnier each week and I’m kind of bummed their “season” is about to end.

Music

Alt Latino – Mala Rodriguez was the guest on this week’s show and her brand of hip hop was pretty neat. It’s weird to hear vulgarity in Spanish music since I grew up only listening to the tamer stuff.

Cartoon Medley – This was on my tumblr, but it’s awesome, so repost:

Only criticism is during the TMNT part. They’re not “turtles in a half-shell”, they’re “heroes in a half-shell”. The other lyric makes no sense.

Books

No real reading this week, just comics.

The Ultimates – Great start to the book. They really set it up as “everything goes wrong at once!” and I’m digging it. It also helps that Hickman is a fantastic writer.

Chew – The Flambé arc comes to a close. It didn’t have as many “wow” moments as some of the earlier ones, but it’s definitely intriguing as the Avian Flu mystery deepens.

X-Men – The FF were in this book so I picked it up at Eric’s behest. Funny. Not great, but fun.

X-23 – Spidey was in this one so I grabbed it since Eric liked it. Pretty good book and I like supporting female comic talent too.

Captain America and Bucky – Chris Samnee’s art makes this book worth the cover price. The story’s just ok, but the art I love.

Incorruptible – Not the most exciting start to a new arc, but whatever just showed up seems to be really scary to everyone?

Secret Warriors – Can’t wait for the last volume. I want to see where this goes. The first parts of this series were better than the middle parts so hopefully the last book goes out with a bang.

FF – The action is back and this issue is really great. Doom pimp slapping one of the Reeds was awesome.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – I was worried about losing power this weekend so I tried to take advantage of as much power as possible. That resulted in too much TF2. I think I played over 20 hrs. Maybe even over 30. So much fun. I got a few new stranges that make things even better (stranges count kills).

Dragon Age 2 – Beat the game a first time this weekend. Really good stuff. I like how they narrowed down the narrative to keep things more focused. Really made me care about what happened in Kirkwall. On my second playthrough now.

What I’ve Been Doing [F/FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jul 11th, 2011 by Dan

2010 Pine Leaf Boys scene from Treme, Breaux Bridge April 30 (23 of 34)

A performance from Tremé

Tomorrow night’s the All-Star Game, but my coverage might be a little different than usual. I plan on watching it with friends, so there may not be a liveblog, but I will cover it in the morning. In the meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Music:

Rx Bandits – Saw the Bandits down at the 9:30 Club on Saturday for their farewell tour. I don’t think anything will match the unparalleled emotion I felt at Five Iron Frenzy’s “Winners Never Quit” tour back in 2003, but it was a special show. They’re not writing off being a studio band, but that may have been the last time I’ll ever see the Bandits and they did not disappoint. Great show. The tour t-shirt puts me up to 5 RxB t-shirts. I think I’ve reached excessive there.

Movies:

Carancho - Ricardo Darín’s strong showing in El secreto de sus ojos attracted me to this movie. In it, Darín plays a carancho (translates to vulture), or an ambulance chaser, who scams victims out of their settlements. The story is a little uneven, but it’s clear to me that Darín is ridiculously talented and I love seeing him in anything. Gotta track down more of his films.

TV:

Tremé – Finally got around to watching the season 2 finale. Good stuff. It’s neat to see the differences between Tremé and The Wire. David Simon is clearly not compelled to make this show more watchable by limiting the live music or giving it a more structured plot, but that’s ok sometimes. It’s nice to see the different storylines just play out because, hey, that’s life. Good to also see the Vietnamese shrimp boats as a preparation for an eventual Gulf Oil Spill storyline.

Dead Like Me – As a fan of Pushing Daisies, I was not surprised to learn that this was a Bryan Fuller show. The same little quirks were apparent in the early episodes and although he left the show rather early in its run, his DNA runs through it. I gotta wonder about Fuller’s preoccupation with death and women with masculine nicknames…Anyway, it’s a pretty solid show that my girlfriend is watching and I hop in for an episode or two wherever she is. The premise, that the main characters are grim reapers who collect souls that are about to die, is pretty neat and I dig the characters. I also like that it was a Showtime show, so the writers are free to let the characters talk like real people.

Mad Men – Last weekend I just blew through S3 and S4. This is a fantastic show. I do love it when a show finds itself continually evolving so it’s neat to see how far the characters have come since S1. It was a little troubling in the 4th season to see Don struggling, but I’m excited to see what S5 brings in 2012. This is seriously one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages. Very good.

Books:

Chew – New issue (#19) came out last week. Toni appears in this one and she’s rapidly grown on me as one of my favorite characters. The latest issue sets up a lot of neat plot points that I’m excited to see born out and also reveals some interesting secrets about the Chu family. Definitely the best so far in the new arc.

S.H.I.E.L.D. – My love affair with Jonathan Hickman’s work has not abated yet. His examination of the secret history of an organization that a lot of Marvel fans kind of take for granted is very interesting. Could have interesting implications for the greater Marvel universe, but it also ties in very nicely with Hickman’s work in FF. Gotta wonder if Hickman has some serious father issues, because it’s yet another book of his thematically dealing with fathers and sons, but this time with a fate vs. free will wrinkle.

Fantastic Four/FF – More Hickman, more awesomeness. I finally got around to reading Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four and I was seriously impressed. I mean, we’re talking a breadth of narrative that’s still bearing fruit in his current issues of FF. FF is one of my most anticipated books every month. I can’t wait to see what The War of the Four Cities will bring and whether or not the issues with the Council of Reeds (first introduced at the start of Hickman’s run back in 2009) will be resolved in this arc.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – Still cool, but man does it pale in comparison to the work being done on FF. Almost done with it, so I’ll continue for now.

Video Games:

Torchlight – Picked this guy up for $2 or so in the Steam summer sale. and it was well worth the purchasing price. Definitely scratching my Diablo itch with some seriously addictive game mechanics. Playing as the pet class and loving all the summons, but on Very Hard the final dungeons are proving challenging. I’m afraid to try it hardcore next, but the challenge is calling me (for those who don’t know, hardcore mode means that death is permanent for a character. THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE!)

Left 4 Dead – David finally built himself a new computer allowing him to play all the sweet games of the past that we couldn’t play before. We played No Mercy last night and it was a real blast from the past. I can’t wait for him to see the ways the game has evolved in L4D2! I’m sure he’ll find it just as awesome as I do.

inFamous – Beat it on very hard on the good track. Considering an evil run for trophies, but, truth be told, this game is middling, at best, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to motivate myself to play it again with more interesting options on hand.

StarCraft 2 – Played a couple of quick rounds with Dave and one of his friends. Still solid, but I’m not always in the mood.

What I’ve Been Doing [IB/BT/GO/FB]
Jun 21st, 2011 by Dan

Mad Men's Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway

My favorite part of Mad Men, the lovely Christina Hendricks

Video Games:

inFAMOUS – Handles a little looser than I’d like. Scratches that open world itch that LA Noire hinted at. The powers are fun, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll try and play with evil powers too. Shadows of the Damned comes out this week and that may start sapping playtime away if I decide to pick it up.

TV:

Mad Men – Oh man do I love this show. So great. All of the acting in it is fantastic. Just watched the opening five episodes of Season 2 and wow. Two scenes in particular just blew my mind, the first in Flight 1 where Paul and Joan have that fight after Paul’s party over Paul’s new girlfriend and the other when Betty and Don get into that argument about disciplining their child and get to shoving each other. This show has a way with words and expression that’s just unreal. I love that they respect us enough to see the undertones and show, not tell. Almost forgot about the scene with Rachel, Bobbie, and Don. Just fantastic. I miss her as a character, she was awesome.

Movies:

Blue Valentine – Not a date movie at all, but I watched it with the girlfriend. Watching their relationship in its infancy and in its death throes was a fantastic examination of the ways we can hurt the ones we love. It was also deeply affecting in the way that it mirrored some of the bad breakups I’ve had. A fantastic, raw movie.

Books

Chew – Almost completely up to speed on the book. It even got me to set up a box and pull list at the local comic store. An absolute breath of fresh air. Dark humor, quirky storytelling, and it pays attention to its history. Arcs seem to be set up many issues in advance and I can kind of see where we’re headed 1/4 of the way through the run. That’s another thing: glad to hear the book has a set ending. Keeps the narrative in line and eliminates some of the filler. The timeskip was a pretty funny callback to issue #1 too.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – I love the Fantastic Four. The books are more hero-y than drama-y (like, say, Spider-Man), but I’m still digging it. I enjoy the relationship between Ben and Johnny and it makes me want to start pulling the Freedom Foundation books.

Powers – I didn’t really care for the first two arcs of this, but people seem to like it. It’s not quite the same thing, but I much preferred Alan Moore’s Top Ten brand of superhero crime drama. Maybe the book gets much better in its later arcs, but I’m not seeing it yet. Doesn’t help that I don’t like the art much either.

Whiteout – Another book that was critically acclaimed. I love the challenge of using white versus black, but the book isn’t overly impressive. Solid, but not amazing. Worth a read.

Chew: Two Issues In [BT]
Jun 15th, 2011 by Dan

guillory

With indie comics you almost never know what you’re gonna get. The premise to Chew seemed interesting, but would it be a gritty crime comic or would it be lighthearted and fun?

The bizarre, quasi-cannibalistic premise allowed for it to go either way, but I think this plot point cements the tone.

You see, the FDA has outlawed poultry because of bird flu (some think it’s a conspiracy). That is why Tony Chu is staking out a chicken speakeasy working for the vice squad and why the FDA has become some kind of FBI-analog in this world.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of dark humor in this book. Tony has eaten flesh from at least two people in the first two issues, but it stays just shy of truly gross with its goofy art style.

I’m very intrigued. Can’t wait to get more reading in. This book has a lot of promise.

Comics [BT]
Jun 14th, 2011 by Dan

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions (Beenox / Activision)_Deadpool

Eric’s gone and done it. His renewed enthusiasm for comics has gone and made me want to read them again.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Issues #141-148) – The Chameleons arc was actually really neat. Super odd to have several issues go by where Peter Parker was not Peter Parker (they even changed the colors of the inner monologue boxes), but an effective way to eliminate the status quo and get NYC hating Spidey again.

Powers (Issue #1) – Another Bendis book. About cops without powers in a superhero world. Read an issue. Has promise, but I’m not in love with the art style. I wonder if it will end up a less interesting Top Ten.

Y: The Last Man (Issues #1-2) – Rereading one of my favorite books. Y is about an apocalypse scenario where the world’s men all spontaneously die, save one Yorick Brown. Definitely an awesome series.

Want to get to/check out:

Chew – Tony Chu is an FDA agent who apparently has the power to get psychic impressions from the things he eats. Naturally he uses this power to solve crimes. Could be neat. Very critically acclaimed.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – I think I’ve got a volume of this, but I’ve always wanted to catch up on the Fantastic Four, but I get distracted by the X-Men

Whatever’s going on in the current books of The Walking Dead – The next hardcover isn’t on sale for quite some time, but I’ve been thinking of catching up with :gasp: real issues. Not sure if I want to go down that rabbit hole yet.

I suppose I’ll also check out the DC revamp stuff when it happens in September, but Eric’s got that covered so I’ll probably just borrow his.

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