What I’ve Been Doing 18 Nov – 04 Dec 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Nov 19th, 2013 by Dan

Stay Hungry With Adam Jones

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”


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.

Video Games

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…

What I’ve Been Doing 30 Sept – 14 Oct 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 14th, 2013 by Dan


Just adding to my “pictures in front of ballparks with Katie” collection.

Man have I been busy! So much has conspired to keep me from getting this out until now between going to Boston and the government shutdown and all kinds of craziness, but no excuses now! We should be back to our regularly scheduled programming from here on out.


Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks deserves serious accolade for the way he played this role. It was just perfectly done and the movie itself was tense and nervewracking as things started to fall apart and the outcome (that we honestly already knew) started to become clearer. Worth seeing. It won’t be Best Picture, but maybe Hanks will get something.

Django Unchained – Watched this with Katie to add to our ridiculously tense/heavy movie tally. Still holds up almost a year later. That scene at the dinner table where everyone’s making their moves is so tense and easily the best in the movie.


House of Cards – I can’t even remember when we actually finished this, it was so long ago. The first season kind of stops right in the middle of some interesting storylines, but, on the other hand, this means that the second season will be able to give Peter’s murder room to breathe as the central conflict. I’ve never seen the British House of Cards, but I wonder if the US version is going to let Underwood win or have him be hoisted by his own petard. It was fascinating when he was being assaulted on all sides, but I’m also not sure if not letting him have some victory will feel satisfying for me as a viewer.

New Girl – They went and pulled the trigger on keeping the Nick and Jess thing and it’s turned out to be not that bad at all. So far it’s seemed that the show isn’t in danger of getting boring or losing quality because of it, which is great, but I still think that, despite the increased attention on his character, there’s very little for Winston to do that’s not pathetic or weird or just…odd.

The Mindy Project – Chris Messina is secretly the best thing about this show. He’s got incredible delivery and timing as Danny and his chemistry with Mindy is pretty great. It’s too bad I hear this show is dangerously on the bubble for next year.

Parks and Recreation – I’m several episodes behind, but I didn’t really feel the England episode. It was funny and all, but it felt like setting up the season more than anything else. That’s fine (and it’s still funny), but it just lacked that oomph. Not to mention I think Leslie’s behavior was a little out of character.

Masters of Sex – At first glance this show looks like Shotime T&A exploitation instead of a serious tv show, but man am I impressed with the way that they’ve handled the show. I don’t totally love the way that Lizzy Caplan chose to change her speaking style in the first episode, but the way that she and Michael Sheen relate on screen has this simmering heat to it. It’s just a fascinating show to watch. I read on Jacob Clifton’s TWoP recap that the show has a female showrunner and I think that’s pretty clear by the way the show deals with relationships and sex (ie: maturely and with real depth). Check this one out. It’s good.

Parenthood – After watching the first episode of this season I told Katie that it reminded me of Friday Night Lights. Turns out that it’s got the same showrunner. Parenthood has that same improvised dialog style that allows for much more natural and genuine interaction between the actors. I don’t like the show as much as I liked FNL, but I think it could easily grow on me by a lot. This style of show (ie: filled with verisimilitude) is my bread and butter, although I think the plot about the lady running for office is dumb.

Pushing Daisies – I was looking for something cute like this to watch with Katie and I think it’s just the thing (in small doses) for filling gaps in what we’re watching on a given week.

The League – I only had a chance to catch an episode and a half of this while Katie was busy doing other things, but it’s still just as solid as it’s ever been. At this point this show is what it will be until it’s done. If you like that kind of thing it’ll always work for you.

Homeland – All caught up on this one, actually. I enjoyed the Brody/Carrie-centric third episode, but I’m predisposed to like anything that takes place in Latin America with tons of Spanish in it. Drug addiction stories bore me, but let’s see where they take this Brody stuff. How cool would it be if this was how he quietly exited, stage left? I think this show would have been better if Brody died in S1. The lack of a clear-cut antagonist has made the start of this season feel kind of aimless, mostly because I’m not as taken with either Carrie or Brody. We’ll see where they go, I guess.

How I Met Your Mother – Great for aimless, distracted watching.

The Amazing Race – I’m not sure how these racers compare to all the past seasons, but I do know that this race has felt way harder than the past two seasons already. Flight drama, language stuff, bus difficulty, and tasks that have, in general, seemed more interesting. I bet I sound like an apologist to the diehards who have seen the classic seasons, but I’m really digging it so far. Too bad the NFL guys got eliminated. They were the best and they didn’t deserve to go so soon due to just terrible, snakebit flight luck.


I heard this track on All Songs and I dug it. “Make It Up” by The Blow


Nope. Maybe next week?

Video Games

Civilization V – I’ve been lagging behind on turns, but I’m in the score lead in both games, I think. Dave fell pretty far behind in the 3 Mesa game.

SMT IV – Didn’t manage to finish this before Pokemon came out so we’ll see if I actually finish it any time soon. I think I’m right on the cusp of making my big moral choice, but it’ll be a while.

Candy Box – Silly and weird and oddly addictive, but the impending release of Candy Box 2 on the 24th made me want to hold off on getting too into it.

Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies Demo – It’s nice to have this game series back. I’ve missed it so much while it was gone. The new 3D engine and the new sound samples aren’t the same and that’s a little distracting for now, but I was also encouraged by how weird and interesting the witnesses still seemed to be even though they were 3D models instead of pixel art. We’ll see if they’re able to capture the right aesthetic anyway.

Cookie Clicker – How do I even start talking about Cookie Clicker? Katie randomly came home addicted to this game and I’ve been roped into clicking cookies and buying upgrades and it’s so fun and I can’t stop clicking…:click::click::click::click::click::click::click::click::click:

Pokemon Y – The game I’ve been waiting all year for is finally out. New region, new 3D engine, new system. Holy crap is this everything you’d want a new Pokemon game to be and then some. So much fun. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say as the week progresses, but I’m also doing a Nuzlocke again (and I lost on the first gym).

The Walking Dead – Started playing the first episode with Katie and I had a really good time watching her make decisions. A lot of them were pretty similar to the ones I would make when it came to being compassionate or caring toward other people (and children), but I was also way more secretive about being a convict and I didn’t like to keep silent whenever I had the opportunity to talk. Fascinating stuff and lots of fun. I hope she continues to want to play with me.

What I’ve Been Doing 1 May 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
May 1st, 2013 by Dan

Zephyrhills in Publix

Nothing says “I’m in Florida” like Zephyrhills water. It’s not the best stuff, but I miss it some days.

Not a lot of stuff going on this week because I went home to see my family.


Oz the Great and Powerful – Not my favorite movie, but it was passable. It was fun to see Zach Braff again, but the movie was decidedly low stakes and, I think, hamstrung by having to set up The Wizard of Oz


Oddly enough…nope. Mostly watched baseball.


I’ve already posted Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young”, haven’t I? I don’t care. I love this song. Can’t wait for the new album.


One Hundred Years of Solitude – One of my favorite lines from the last bit of the book: “…they were all identical, sons of the same bitch”. Marquez’ epic novel was incredibly entertaining, beautiful, and amazing. Quite possibly the best book, pound for pound, that I’ve ever read. Just gorgeous, detailed, irrelevant, and damn near perfect. I don’t love what happened to all the Buendias, but it was amazing to read about.

A Friday Night Lights Companion: Love, Loss, and Football in Dillon, Texas – If you’ve never seen Friday Night Lights then you might not understand why someone would read a book of essays talking about how awesome the show it. It’s a good show.

Video Games

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – Just a puzzle or two as I met up with Flora. I need to sit down and crank through this game.

Poker Night 2 – Far better than Poker Night in structure, dialogue, and design, but it’s a bummer that you can’t change the poker AI difficultly or the frequency of comments. On the plus side, no more luck-based achievements. Take that straight flush or four of a kind achievements!

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.


Not this week.


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.


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


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.

Mad Men S5E03: “Mystery Date” [IB]
Apr 10th, 2012 by Dan

You know what’s my favorite thing about Mad Men? Even when it’s dead serious or surreal it’s not above brilliant jokes. I want to hit on the lighter moments first, because this episode was very dark and violent.

Moment numero uno has to be the scene with Peggy and Sterling. It’s just perfect to see how far Sterling has fallen that he can threaten to fire all he wants, but he can’t intimidate Peggy (or Harry, for that matter). She has his number and she gets her reward while being super cheeky and super funny. I could watch her count cash for hours.

What else? Well, Ginsberg was particularly hilarious in the post-meeting bar. I think it’s telling that I agree with him when he asserted that he wasn’t as close to being fired as Ken thinks he was. Yes, Don means what he says, but I still think Ginsberg’s confidence is well-placed.

Speaking of Ginsberg (and segueing into more serious topics), I think it’s telling that his reluctance to be a crime voyeur and his shaming of his peers was very interestingly juxtaposed with his pitch. I mean, the Speck murders were lurid, violent, sick, twisted, and meaningless, but his pitch…that was stalking and sexual violence, but presented in the sanitized way that horror movies are. I know it’s ridiculous to call a horror movie sanitized, but they are clearly about sexual violence a lot of the time. There’s that erotic tension in there that is personified by your virginal main character trope, for example, or the fact that most protagonists are female while the monsters are male. It’s what makes Alien so subversive.

While we’re on the subject of sexual violence, how about that (kind of annoying) fever dream that Don had? Look, we all knew it was a dream and that it was a little cheesy, but for it to incorporate elements of the Speck murder (women under the bed) and the almost horror-movie ability that Andrea had to appear back in Don’s bedroom…I mean it’s clearly intentional. Like I said, I knew it was a dream, but there was a part of me that was worried that Mad Men might go the way of Friday Night Lights Season 2 until it was officially confirmed a dream. While the symbolism was a little clumsy and obvious, it was an interesting moment to see Don symbolically murdering his adulterous nature. Will it stay dead? It was gone in the morning, but was it because it had survived? Whatever the case, Matt Weiner is doing a stand-up job proving to us that Don and Megan truly care for each other and that Don is at least mostly invested in the relationship. If his adultery count stays at 0 + i (as in one imaginary fling) I wouldn’t be surprised, based on the way he’s being characterized this season.

Peggy and Dawn got to interact after Peggy discovered that Dawn was stuck in the office because she’s black (subways are too dangerous, cops around everywhere, cabbies refuse to take her past 96th…). I thought it was a very telling line that what Peggy was most worried about was the “white person problem” (not really a WPP, but it was also not the racially charged problem) of the Speck murder while Dawn is clearly referencing the race riots erupting in various parts of the country. Despite how much Peggy wants to connect the dots between the feminist and race movements, she ultimately commits a faux pas with the purse gaff at the end of the night and she feels terrible for it. It was a very awkward moment that I thought was beautifully shot and captured. It’s funny how a whole night of, well, one-sided drunken sharing can be erased by a lingering glance.

Sally and Pauline’s scenes together were all captivating as well. I mean, how much sense does it make that Pauline’s father just kicked her to put the fear of him into her. That kind of random violence is precisely in line with the violence of the Speck murders and the terror that women on the whole must feel. There’s a strong undercurrent of fear that men don’t really understand. We tend to be physically larger and we are most commonly the aggressors in society so we don’t understand what it’s like to watch your back or feel threatened when alone among men, but Pauline doesn’t know which direction to take it with Sally. She repeatedly chastises her and treats her like a child while simultaneously asking why she doesn’t act more like a grown-up. Pauline wants Sally to understand what it is to be a woman and she overshares details about the murders and the psychological fear of men with her, but then she grants her the power of temporary ignorance with sleeping pills. Of all the characters on the show, Sally is the one who I fear for the most. What is her life going to be like?

Best thing about the night might have to be Joan finally acknowledging that evil that Pauline alludes to in Greg and his rape of Joan in S2. When she finally says out loud what she already knows, that Greg is a nobody who needs to assert his power to feel strong. That he is a bad man…that is the big moment we’ve all been waiting for since that ugly moment in Season 2. Joan’s scenes play out predictably and I’m glad that the show never let Greg off the hook by killing him off in Vietnam. It was a powerful scene and a powerful moment for Joan who, one would hope, will not rekindle her relationship with Roger, but move on to something healthier. I mean, who doesn’t love Joan? She’s among the most tragic of a cast of many tragic cases and we all want to see better things come to her.

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