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What I’ve Been Doing 23 Jan 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jan 23rd, 2013 by Dan

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Fun fact: The blonde in this picture is Julia Stiles! (Photo courtesy emrahozcan)

Wow guys, this is pretty late, huh? Sorry bout that!

Movies

Silver Linings Playbook – It may be the most accessible Oscar nominee to watch, but that doesn’t preclude it from being just astonishingly well acted. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper turned in fantastic performances. I have a hard time imagining a person who would dislike this movie.

TV

New Girl – Who thought I’d ever utter the words, “I’m gonna miss Olivia Munn…” Loved the pogo stuff from this week’s ep.

Archer – I didn’t really love the first episode, but it cracked me the hell up. Great stuff.

Happy Endings – I really dug the “other friends”. It’s a stock conceit, but Happy Endings usually puts a unique enough spin on that type of thing where I don’t mind it.

One Piece – I’ve got something like 260 episodes to go to catch up to the present.

Girls – The premiere was really strong. The second episode less so, but this show is still top notch. Some shows have unlikeable casts that aren’t believable. I know a lot of these people…

Music

I really dig “Apocalypse Dreams” by Tame Impala

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – This book is really starting to come together. The cast is converging and it’s all gonna culminate on this political rally. I can’t wait.

Video Games

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – That free Second Wave DLC is super awesome, but man are its modifiers tough. That Red Mist one makes it near impossible, but I love it anyway.

Sleeping Dogs – Not really grabbing me. I should just burn through to the end…

Hotline Miami – Beat the main story. Pretty fun game. The bonus missions are tough, but I think I’ll manage. Gotta get the secret password too.

Borderlands 2 – Still having fun, but it’s tough to get everyone together sometimes. I really should take the time to level up Gaige since she’d be more fun to play, I think. On the flip side, the healer role I kind of have with Maya is fun too.

FTL – I came so close to getting the Stealth Ship. I don’t want to talk about it…

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

The main guy in Virtue’s Last Reward (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

This past weekend was a haze of parties and Virtue’s Last Reward. The good news is that I beat the game and had fun at all the parties, but the bad news is zzzzzzzz…

Movies

Nope!

TV

Justified – So happy to have this show back. Raylan is such a badass. Loved the shot to the airbag. I’m really interested in seeing where this season goes. It looks like IA is gonna really get on Raylan’s ass.

Happy Endings – Pretty elaborate episode chiefly centered around making jokes about inappropriate-sounding use of the word “come” and a jerky making circle :cough: circle jerk :cough:. Still fairly hilarious and I’ve got like two episodes still on the DVR!

Music

Two tracks for you today.

First off, who the heck is Bonnie Bear?

Yeah, that’s Bon Iver’s “Perth”. I love that guitar.

Then we’ve got the credits song for The Walking Dead game. It’s just got a sweet sound to it. Not sure if my association with the game makes it stronger…

Alela Diane’s “Take Us Back”

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – More hot dog shenanigans. I’m coming around on the book, but I’m also taking it a little too slow.

Video Games

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – It’s so hard to talk about this game without spoiling everything that makes it so incredible. Trust me, guys, this game’s story is just awesome. I’m officially a fan of Kotaro Uchikoshi now. It’s the kind of story that makes you think and that makes smart use of its mechanics.

FTL – Died in a fiery Engi Cruiser wreck. Not enough offense.

Borderlands 2 – Our posse is starting to get pretty strong, but the game is also getting a lot harder. Really digging the slag/other elemental combo. I think it helps tremendously with damage.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – The Second Wave DLC came out allowing you to customize additional really tough XCOM rules and…I got my ass kicked on my first attempt. This next game is going a little better, but I think the soldier I named my guy after just bit the dust.

Saints Row: The Third – I think we played this during this week, right, Dave? Co-op campaign is loads of fun, but I wish I heard David’s character in cutscenes or that we were both present. Loads of fun.

What I’ve Been Doing 7 Jan 2013 [FB/IB/BT/F/GO]
Jan 7th, 2013 by Dan

Zero Escape

The cast of Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (Picture courtesy: SegmentNext)

I finished 999 last week and I thought, “Should I wait a bit before picking up Zero Escape?” Then I ordered it and got it on Friday. Man, I’ve spent something like 10 hours on it already. I’m loving all the new thought experiments, the prisoner’s dilemma, and the quantum aspects of the story

Movies

Not this week.

TV

The Amazing Race – About 3/4 of the way through S1. I think there’s 2 or 3 episodes left. I’m curious as to who’s gonna stay ahead.

SNL – “It’s origami. That’s Spanish for swan”. Great line. Medium episode.

Portlandia – Caught the first episode of the new season and the one with Ronald D. Moore. Decent show, but it’s not going to bust your gut.

Happy Endings – A few mins of this until I got to the tipping car salesman part.

Homeland – Finally went and watched the last three episodes of the season. Holy cow! I want next season already! It wasn’t the strongest sophomore effort, but it sure was exciting. Can’t wait to see what they do next year.

Music

Heard about this song on All Songs by Josh Ritter. It’s pretty good. I’m really starting to enjoy all these breakup songs.

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – Hot dog cart Ignatius!

Video Games

Borderlands 2 – My mechromancer is starting to be way more interesting than my siren, but the siren has great group healing abilities, so I might stick with her anyway.

FTL – Why can’t I ever trigger the stealth ship event?

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – This game has completely grabbed me, just like 999 did. The storytelling is so interesting that I’ve been up until like 2 or 3 each night playing it. This is a 3DS visual novel that I’m playing at home on a Sunday at the expense of Borderlands 2, mind you, but it’s so cool. The genre’s not for everyone, I know, but trust me, this game is neat.

Video Games of 2012 [GO]
Jan 4th, 2013 by Dan

Miami Marlins at Pittsburgh Pirates - PNC Park 21 Jul 2012

Even the Pittsburgh Pirates played video games this year.

Knock on wood, you guys, but I managed to get through 2012 without having all my video games stolen from my house while I was sleeping [EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s 2013 now, you dummy. You don’t need to knock on wood]. Should that even be an achievement?

2012 seems to be a shift in the status quo. Perhaps it’s because the new console generation hasn’t yet kicked off, but I feel like fewer and fewer AAA, big budget titles have been grabbing my attention lately. Of the 56 games on this list I feel like very few (about 12) were big, huge landmark games. Maybe that’s not all that different, but it feels different…

Also, like last year I do count games on this list that did not launch in 2012, but that I played, started, or beat in 2012.

JANUARY

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective – The weirdest thing about my time with this game was that I chose to play it in Spanish. It was fine practice and, off the top of my head, it taught me two Spanish words I had no use for before playing it (sotano and cachorro, meaning basement and puppy/cub/kitten, respectively), but it also featured very funny writing by Phoenix Wright’s creator and a bizarrely complicated story for such a slight-looking game. In fact, 2012 was kind of a year of interactive fiction, as you’ll see, so it’s appropriate to see GT get top billing. It’s also worth mentioning that the animation in this game is spectacular.

Rayman: Origins – Also known as the game where Min and I attained Super Saiyan level for the first time. No lie, guys, the treasure chest levels and the final Level of the Dead or whatever it was called was a zen-like achievement for the pair of us. If New Super Mario Bros. isn’t your bag, but you think you might still love platformers then you absolutely need to try this game out.

Chrono Trigger DS – Yeah, I played this in the 90s. Yep, it was my first RPG. The DS port added some marginal sections, including an epilogue that sets up for Chrono Cross in the most depressing way possible, but it also came with a new translation that I thought was interesting and brought some freshness to an otherwise “solved” game for me.

Earthbound – I wish I’d spent more time trying to replay Earthbound, but I just didn’t. Heck, I don’t think I got too far past meeting Buzz Buzz…Still love this game.

Cave Story + – How I long for dynamic difficulty level changing! Cave Story + is a fantastic Metroidvania-style pixel shooter, but my hubris determined I would play on the hardest difficulty, which means I’m stuck on Monster X until I can get my skills down pat.

FEBRUARY

Final Fantasy XIII-2 – Remember how everyone’s favorite character in FF XIII was Lightning’s sister and some guy no one ever saw in FF XIII? Wait…those weren’t your favorite characters? You don’t want to play another 40 hours as those chuckleheads and watch Snow, Hope, and Sazh from afar while playing a nearly incomprehensible story? Too bad!

Saints Row: The Third – I feel bad for you if you’ve never played Saints Row: The Third. I felt bad for myself for not having played it sooner than I did. For maximum awesomeness be sure to give your boss the Latina voice. It’s priceless. Seriously though, this game is the best open world game I have ever played. Period. It’s absurd, ridiculous, and nonsensical, but it’s winking every step of the way and I’m right there with it.

Rhythm Heaven Fever – When I first started writing this list I forgot that this little gem came out in 2012. Can you believe it?! Min, I know you don’t understand the appeal here, but this is honestly among my favorite game of this year. Did I spend $80 importing the soundtrack from Japan? You betcha. Goddammit this game is so good. It’s a must play for anyone with a Wii (or a Wii U). Seriously, go buy it. It’s incredible.

Devil Survivor 2 – Man, the Megrez fight is so stupid and I’m not properly equipped, demon-wise, to tackle it, which is why I never beat this game. It’s better than DS1, mechanically, but I just need to sit down and grind my way out of this and I really don’t want to have to do that…Bonus points for also pretty much being Evangelion

MARCH

Mass Effect 3 – Hoo boy…What a shitshow this game’s release was…I wish I’d beaten it faster than I had because by the time I reached the ending, well, the internet had practically exploded with criticism. I spent more time wading in comments sections and forums defending the artistic integrity of a game that I honestly didn’t find that impressive compared to the rest of the year’s releases, but it just rubbed me the wrong way to see the fanboys demand changes from Bioware. I mean, whine all you want, but so long as Bioware doesn’t cave– What’s that? You say they did cave? They did change the ending as a response to fan whining? My respect for Bioware and this game flew out the window the second that happened. As far as I’m concerned, I played the real Mass Effect 3, but I never got the chance to enjoy it. Now that the doctors are gone from Bioware and the company is soliciting advice on what direction to take Dragon Age III, I find myself thinking, “Man, what happened to Bioware?” It’s a real shame because Mass Effect 3 was actually quite good.

APRIL

Shadow Complex – Way late to the party on this one, but I was feeling that Metroidvania itch and, well, this game kind of scratches it. I hate the third dimension they added to the gun because it makes aiming a pain. Other than that it’s fine. Serviceable, really, but it also gets credit for being the first “autolog” type game that I can think of.

Jamestown – I don’t play a lot of vertical/horizontal shooters. Jamestown just happened to be out in a lull and I owned it from a Humble Bundle. It’s enjoyable enough and I dig playing it with multiple people, but it’s not going to set the world on fire. Playing the story in “funny” mode is fun too because the alternative is almost obnoxiously self-serious.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – Cool music and a cool aesthetic, but it controls weird on the PC. I wish I had an iPad for stuff like this and that I put more time into this game.

The Walking Dead – I thought about separating this out into episodes across the series, but it seems cleaner to talk about this game in one fell swoop even though I started it in April and finished it in November. I know I said that Rhythm Heaven Fever was the best game of this year, but The Walking Dead is actually the best thing to have come out this year. I’ll grant you that it’s more interactive fiction than game, but even that’s not that important, really. I mean, would putting more puzzles in this adventure game make it any better? Of course not! The Walking Dead is the success it is because it’s a character-driven story of the likes we haven’t seen before. Lee Everett may not be making the galaxy-defining choices that Commander Shepard makes on a daily basis, but the stakes always seem higher as he does his best to shepherd young Clementine through a world that only gets worse and worse for everyone. That last scene in the jewelry store as Lee coaches Clem to safety…It touched me (and I’m sure most anyone who played it) in a way that nothing else this year could. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that everyone should play this game. It’s brilliant.

Fez – Speaking of brilliant, Fez has that in spades. We’re talking about a game where every detail feels deliberate and mysterious. That’s not an exaggeration either. With maybe one exception, there’s not a single puzzle in Fez that you couldn’t necessarily figure out in some way from clues in the world. They might be obscure, difficult to interpret clues, but they’re there. Add in a soundtrack that is hauntingly beautiful and a rotating mechanic that is as fun as anything else you’ve ever done and you’ve got the most interesting experience of 2012. I can still pull up intense memories of the empty solitude of some of the screens and the fitting music that made me feel isolated, alone, a little scared, and a little excited to discover a cube or an anticube. Fez was awesome, guys.

MAY

Diablo 3 – I’ve had this talk with Min so many times, but maybe I didn’t understand what Diablo was before I played D3. I’d only ever played D2 with my brother or a few friends. It was a small-scale endeavor and Torchlight, its closest analogue for me, was a single-player affair. There was no Auction House there to circumvent loot drops or other players to set up trades with on forums. There was the purity of the RNG and the thrill of the hunt. Diablo 3 awakened that feeling inside me that activates when I feel like I’ve been cheated. It was like I took the red pill and I saw the Matrix of the game for the first time when I realized what I’d have to do to beat the game on Inferno. I’ve never felt like a game’s systems were so transparently evil before (I don’t play Facebook games) and Diablo 3 soured me on Blizzard as a developer. Maybe next year you’ll see an entry about Heart of the Swarm, but as of right now, thanks to Diablo 3, I plan on never spending another cent on a Blizzard game (unless a new Warcraft RTS comes out. I actually like those).

Tropico 4 – Min likes to tease me about being an evil dictator when I play this game, but it’s much more complicated for me. When I play Tropico I don’t exercise my ability to rig elections or execute citizens at will. I do my best to be a benevolent leader and resist the control/interference of the US or USSR. I do my best to make the tropical paradise that I feel my people have been denied. It’s a deeply (and weirdly) personal experience for me. Plus the music is pretty sweet.

JUNE

The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb – Yeah, yeah, expansion pack for a game that I played relentlessly last year. I don’t care, guys, it was almost a new game with how much it added. If you read my blog and you tried/enjoyed FTL, you really should check this out.

No More Heroes: Paradise – I think I’m at assassin #7 or #6? It’s got its purposefully tedious parts in it and it’s so stylized that it’s hilarious, but it lost some steam with me and I never finished it. Whoops.

JULY

Spelunky – Forget what that other guy said about the best game of this year because Spelunky is awesome. It’s so sharp in the way that it plays. Die and it’s almost 100% your fault. Brutally difficult, endearingly fun and funny, and tightly controlled. I only wish I had more friends to play local multiplayer with.

Penny Arcade 2 – Not as funny as PA1 and not as fun as PA3

Penny Arcade 3 – PA goes 16-bit RPG. The combat is frighteningly difficult, but the game is tons of fun because of it. These new classes are super neat. It’s like they figured out all the boundaries to RPG combat and sharpened them to a knife’s edge. Really interesting, but easy to bone yourself with bad class selection.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion – Each game takes forever, but playing a few matches with Min was tons of fun.

Greed Corp – Did not like. Sorry, Eric.

Puzzle Agent – Tried this before I went down the Professor Layton rabbit’s hole. Surprisingly funny and surprisingly well-written. I’m fairly certain that these didn’t sell well enough to keep making them, but I really enjoyed the setting and the story. Very cute.

Max Payne 3 – I’m the guy who’s never played a Max Payne game before so when I play this grimy, glitzy, greasy shooter I’m unburdened by Payne’s history. There’s no comparison to the way it used to be or the way I wanted a sequel to be. It’s just an awesome shooter with a dumb, but neat story. Brazil is here to stay as a setting and even though Rockstar characters are all deplorable assholes who I hate, I had a soft spot for Max and Giovanna. Pretty solid shooter.

Sonic Generations – Modern Sonic games suck. All of them. Everyone who thinks Generations is “not that bad” or “good” is wrong. You’re wrong.

BIT.TRIP.RUNNER – A rhythm game! I didn’t realize it before I tried it. The first boss fight sucks and I stopped playing after it. I hear that was a mistake.

AUGUST

Persona 4 Arena – I got a little bogged down by being forced to play other perspectives before finishing the main narrative, but the continuation of the Persona story was solid enough to make me interested in the game, even if I didn’t really care for the fighting mechanic. Guys, who knew a fighting game could have a sweet story?

Driver: San Francisco – Didn’t get enough in to say anything definitive, but I don’t really like the car mechanics.

Trine 2 – I don’t think either of these Trine games are for me, but I’ve only ever played 5 hours of a Trine game ever. It’s the physics model. I don’t like the imprecision in a platformer. I had the same issue with Little Big Planet.

Iron Brigade – The most frustrating networking experience of 2012. It’s a shame too because Min, Lee, and I should have loved playing this.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Goddammit I love me some Counter-Strike. I didn’t put that many hours into this, but playing it with Simon and some of the old War Cry guys was awesome. If you have any interest in shooters, but you don’t play this…well I don’t understand you.

Orcs Must Die 2 – Not the best tower defense game, but I think I’m under 10 hrs with it so maybe it picks up?

The Last Story – Got so bogged down writing about this with David (remember that feature?) that I never continued it. Lots of promise there with characters that seem deeper than your usual anime bullshit, but I need to give it another 20 hours to be sure.

SEPTEMBER

Mark of the Ninja – The tightest stealth game (mechanics-wise) you will ever play. Seriously, man. It’s pretty boss. The story is fairly dumb, but playing it is so much fun that you can’t help but smile. A solid win in my book.

FTL: Faster Than Light – I’ve recorded 31.5 hours of me playing this game as of when I write this sentence. A game that has such tight mechanics that you can’t help but love it. This was the year of roguelikes for me. FTL plays like the space sim you always wish you had. I don’t see myself getting bored of this game until I unlock all the ships. That won’t be for a while because I’m somewhat terrible with some of the ships, but I do love me this game.

New Super Mario Bros. 2
– More Mario platforming. Not the most inspired Mario game, but it has its moments. Not gonna set the world on fire and, like the first one, not my favorite Mario game.

Torchlight 2 – I can’t really claim to have played this game since the first day was a clusterfuck and I didn’t get past the menu screen. Had tons of fun chatting with Min and his cousin though.

Borderlands 2 – Until the very end of December I was the only one of my close video gaming friends who had this game. As a solo affair (and even as a group affair), the early parts of this game are pretty terrible/boring/tedious. In a group I’ve enjoyed playing this tons more. It’s just fun to have three friends rolling around Pandora with you. I hope we keep playing.

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy – I love rhythm games. I love Final Fantasy music. This game is beautiful and perfect and could only be made better with more FF VI music.

Kirby’s Dream Collection – Picked it up to own Kirby Super Star. Played a bit of that with Min. Lots of fun, but not gonna set the world on fire.

OCTOBER

Professor Layton and the Last Specter – Played it for a few minutes because it was the only sequel I could find in the store. Based on those few minutes I bought the rest of the franchise.

Pokemon White Version 2 – I wish I hadn’t pushed Min and David to get Black and White because the Version 2s are so much better. There has never been a better put together Pokemon game. I’ve sunk over a hundred hours into this game playing it Nuzlocke style and I still have yet to defeat the Elite Four or Team Plasma. I’m not kidding, guys, this is the closest you can come to a perfect Pokemon game.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Ok, for realsies now, guys. This is the best game of the year. Just so much fun to play in Classic Ironman mode where every mistake is locked in place and humanity hangs in the balance. Tactical, turn-based combat has never been better implemented and every system works well. My only gripe is that you “can’t fail” the final mission in the sense that losing it sends you to the start. Losing an Ironman run in the final mission would be brilliant (and sadistic), wouldn’t it?

Professor Layton and the Curious Village – It has a fairly ridiculous plot twist that almost makes zero sense and doesn’t hit with any oomph, but you’re supposed to be here for the puzzles anyway. They’re fun and the characters are charming enough that I’m more than happy to spend hours upon hours just completing brain teasers.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted – I wish this was more Burnout Paradise instead. I don’t like the way the “campaign” is laid out with the unlocks for all the cars. I hate how I have to earn nitro every time I swap cars. It’s just not as good as the Burnout stuff. I’m sorry. That said, it’s so much fun to race at top speed in real-world automobiles. Super fun.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – The 365 puzzles (one a day) and the fact that I bought it digitally are what keeps me coming back to this game over and over again since I haven’t yet beaten the previous iterations. Solid puzzle work and a great 3DS package, but I can’t wait to actually see the narrative.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – More Layton, but on a train!

To the Moon – The Walking Dead kind of ruined this game for me. Everyone was lauding it as this grand, mature narrative, but then The Walking Dead goes and does something truly spectacular while To the Moon failed to really hit with me. The twist was neat and I dug the story, but I didn’t find it to be as amazing as I’d heard. It’s solid storytelling in a mediocre engine package, but it’s worth checking out for sure.

NOVEMBER

Hotline Miami – Certainly the game that’s inspired the most cackling laughter in me. Just brutal, ugly, sleazy, and weird. Hotline Miami has a kickass soundtrack and relentless gameplay. The bosses are kind of obnoxious, but it plays fairly sharply and I’d recommend it to almost anyone.

Nintendo Land – Fantastic in group settings, but somewhat lacking as a solo endeavor. I’m happy to own it and I think asynchronous information/capabilities makes for way more interesting games than the same old stuff we’re used to, but without a group to play this it can get a little boring.

New Super Mario Bros. U – Haven’t put a lot of time in it, but the course design is definitely superior to the DS version. Can’t wait to beat this with Min, but I’m not breaking down any doors to play it.

Donkey Kong Country Returns – I’m only two worlds in, but it feels slighter/weaker than the old DKCs. We’ll see how it pans out, I guess.

DECEMBER

Sleeping Dogs – I’m getting open world fatigue pretty early in this one. Unlike Saints Row: The Third, this is more serious and I feel like not being ridiculous is to its detriment. Sleeping Dogs’ dating system is ridiculous and the cop story is fairly predictable, but I’m in love with the Hong Kong setting and the fact that this is a game not taking place in LA, NY, or Miami. Also really nice to see non-white protagonists. The Batman fighting style is neat, but, like I said, already hitting open world fatigue.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors – I’m glad I played and finished this before the end of the year because it’s absolutely brilliant. Any game that uses the mechanics of the system its on is an instant plus for me and the final puzzle/revelation is brilliant. How many games make you think about morphic resonance and information transfer like this one? Just the fact that I found myself thinking about philosophical questions like Locke’s Socks/The Ship of Theseus and that it ALL MADE SENSE was really brilliant. Look, visual novels are divisive, but you shouldn’t let that get in your way. 999 has one of the neatest stories of the year (2010) and it’s easily one of my favorite games this year.

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

Django Unchained - Affiche France

A French (I think) poster for Django Unchained (Photo courtesy Lyricis)

I had a really fun weekend hanging out with Eric’s family as they went to catch movies in shifts. Maybe when she gets a little older I’ll just babysit while you guys go catch the movies together.

Movies

This is 40 – During the movie I realized that Judd Apatow is making slice-of-life style movies. Sure, not a whole lot “happens”, but there’s tons of character work. Sure, some of it is just there to be funny, but the movie was the funny version of all those indie dramas about lost love and/or the maturation of relationships. Going into this think more Funny People than Knocked Up. Also Apatow’s kids do an alright job acting.

Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino did something tremendous with this film. It’s just brutal and intense and everyone is doing a fantastic job. Foxx and Waltz are stupendous in their roles. Samuel L. Jackson was particularly brilliant too. A lot of critics have been saying this movie drags, but I think it moves along quite well. Everyone should see this movie.

TV

Portlandia – I guess this was an early start to the season. No real hilarious sketches, but funny enough.

The League – Finally caught up with the final four episodes of the season. The League is getting a little more ambitious with its serialization efforts, but it was an interesting season. I thought that Shiva would be revealed as Ted, but I guess we’ll find out about him next year?

Music

I really dig Angel Haze’s flow

Jessie Ware is ill too

Books

Not this week.

Video Games

Borderlands 2 – Finally got to play this with three others. Lee, Min, and Yin rounded out our single-syllable club (I’m only an honorary member because I go by Dan) and we made decent progress on the first section. I think it’s really slow to start (god I hate climbing that freighter…), but I’m hoping it gets to be more fun. It’s just fun to roam around with friends because the game itself appears to be fairly middling.

FTL: Faster Than Light – A little Engi B action that ended poorly. Nothing to get too excited about.

Sleeping Dogs – Getting open world fatigue already. I miss Saints Row’s silliness. Gonna burn through this.

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors – Got the True Ending this past weekend. Absolutely brilliantly done. Just fantastic the way it all ties together. If you like slightly interactive fiction I highly recommend this game. I mean, how often does a game actually integrate its mechanics into its story like this one does? Just brilliant.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Tried and failed the Slingshot DLC once. Time to try it again!

What I’ve Been Doing 10 Dec 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 10th, 2012 by Dan

Weeping Angel

Don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead. (Picture courtesy Rich Ford)

I got to share my favorite episode of Doctor Who with Min today. I’d forgotten how eerie and excellent that episode was. I mean, I literally shouted out loud in fear when one of the angels popped into view. Freaky stuff. Love that ep.

Movies

Not this week.

TV

Breaking Bad – I don’t know why I had such a long gap before where I wasn’t watching this, but these past few episodes have been brilliant. Walter White is absolutely fascinating in his almost impotent villainy. I love how addicted he is to power and how much pride he has. Just brilliant stuff.

The Amazing Race – Up to the finale on the current season and that’s been pretty exciting. I’m glad the twins didn’t get eliminated as they’re the funniest. On the S1 DVDs things are getting interesting. Team Guido is hilariously evil. It’s awesome.

Parks and Recreation – Episodes revolving around Jerry are usually pretty awesome and this one did not disappoint. Tammy 2’s ridiculous brand of evil sluttiness was gross AND hilarious. Not an easy bar to hit.

The Mindy Project – It seems like every week I’m saying, “The net critics don’t like this, but I find it funny.” Copy-paste that here.

New Girl – Another one that all the internet hated, but I thought was hilarious. The bathtub crashing through the ceiling and the Remy three-way callbacks? Brilliant.

Doctor Who – Started Min off with “Blink”, but then I took him back to “Rose” to show a more typical episode. It’s still mostly introducing stuff, but I think his interest in piqued.

Happy Endings – Man did Rob Corddry get away with saying some filthy things on network tv. Also the Penny thing was fairly predictable from her. Alex continues to be hilarious as always.

Glee – A week where I didn’t want to just turn off the show for being aggressively stupid? Wow! That first Rachel number was stunningly good.

The League – Odd pacing and dropping of plot points make me think that there are big things afoot for the finale. Totally dug the lucha libre bit.

Childrens Hospital – Madonna episode: meh. Chief episode: better.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: – I don’t think they did enough with the found footage conceit, but Alphonse’s creepy Christmas song was amazing.

Saturday Night Live – I didn’t get past weekend update, but Jamie Foxx was doing his thing ok. He seemed less comfortable that I thought he’d be considering how good he is in other stuff. Maybe live isn’t his thing?

Music

Just go listen to more Frank Ocean. Channel Orange is Awesome.

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – At around the 100 page mark. I feel like I’ve met all the principals and now it’s time to see where this farce is headed.

The Revolution was Televised – Finished the chapters on The Sopranos and The Wire and I’m working on Deadwood. This tv backstory stuff is fascinating and I’m really digging all the analysis.

Video Games

Sleeping Dogs – I like Wei Shen and I like the undercover cop conceit. It remains to be seen how deep the story gets and if it’ll allow for character depth or go the GTA IV route where, regardless of how serious the main guy claims to be, every one else is a cartoon.

The Old Republic – Just got Vette, but we sadly haven’t had much interaction at all. Seems like a dropped ball so far, but, then again, my character has only just gotten license to head to Dromund Kaas.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – A power issue (perhaps related to SLI-ing my cards) caused save file corruption on my main game. I might have to restart and that’s heartbreaking. We’ll see if the forums come through for me or not.

FTL – I’m getting much better at this game, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of Mantis B. Racking up wins with other ships though.

What I’ve Been Doing 3 Dec 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Dec 3rd, 2012 by Dan

Lincoln Memorial

Which is the greater monument: the movie or the…monument? (Photo by MarkusR)

Four score and seven seconds ago I started trying to come up with a clever line to write here. As you can see, I failed.

Movies

Lincoln – I’ve talked to lots of people about this movie and it’s one I feel better about recommending the more I think about it. Sure, Lincoln himself may or may not have been as epic a figure as the movie makes him out to be (dude is like a god in this picture), but the political intrigue and heist-like nature of the vote makes for good cinema. Now if only it didn’t feel quite so awkward to have all these great white men saving black men…

TV

The Amazing Race – Watched Abby and Ryan get eliminated from their race in Amsterdam. That was brutal to see them so badly screwed over by flight issues, but they were pretty unpleasant, so…Having enemies makes for good reality tv, right? Now what do we have…I also watched the first three episodes of the first season. Holy cow are there plenty of highly unlikeable folks in that…

New Girl – Sure seems like a lot of shows are addressing the late pregnancy thing. I wonder why that’s all in the zeitgeist right now…or maybe I’m just of an age where I notice it more?

Parks and Recreation – The sight gag with the balloon Leslie and Ben was brilliant. I really love Eagleton episodes.

The League – Not the most exciting or adventurous episode, but I definitely dug the way the guy in the wheelchair was obsessed with his legs.

Homeland – Didn’t see last night’s, but the one where they took down the terrorist cell at the cafe had me thinking that the show was playing its hand too early. I can’t even imagine what the next three episodes will bring for the show, especially now that they’ve revealed that the CIA’s end goal is to murder Brody once his usefulness is up.

The Mindy Project – I really do think this show is on the upswing. Mindy Kaling is probably the funniest person on screen most of the time and the Morgan and Danny characters are also very funny. The rest of the cast is still growing on me.

Glee – I found myself saying (multiple times, mind you), “This is the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen” during the past two week’s episodes. Guys, “Gangnam Style” is played out and, worse, Marley’s got to be some kind of idiot to think that her body is getting bigger in the span of days. It’s dumb and it feels like a setup for all those “very special” episodes Ryan Murphy loves to do on Glee.

NTSF:SD:SUV::
– Alan Tudyk, Alison Brie, and Jake Johnson? Fantastic two episodes. I loved ‘em.

Childrens Hospital – Wow, I really didn’t remember the 28 Days Later amnesia spoof. My memory of this show is apparently very vague.

How I Met Your Mother – I dug the dance sequence in the S7 opener. Glad Netflix finally has it.

Music

Been listening to a lot of Channel Orange. “Bad Religion” is one of my favorite tracks

Frank Ocean’s pretty good. Check him out.

Books

The Revolution Was Televised – Alan Sepinwall’s book on the way that tv’s been changing and evolving has been pretty interesting so far. I’m still in the proto-stages where he talks about the precursor shows and the first real new drama, Oz. Seems very cool.

A Confederacy of Dunces – Ignatius is growing on me. I dig the way that he’s sabotaging Levy Pants.

Video Games

Nintendo Land – Played for hours at Ian/Morghan’s place. Hadn’t realized that the coop games require Wii Motion Plus, but I forgot my adapters. The other games were super fun though. Definitely a great multi game. Hopefully I get to play some with Eric and Danielle too, but there’s always Christmas.

Donkey Kong Country Returns – I don’t think it’s as good as the old SNES games, but it’s got some nostalgic music and I’ll keep checking it out.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Got back into the recording game. Lots of fun even though my rust caused some terrible performance.

FTL: Faster Than Light – I nearly killed David with laughter over my terrible Mantis B gameplay. Lots of fun.

New Super Mario Bros. U – Acorn Plains was too easy and they sure seem to distribute a ton of item blocks, but I’ve been having lots of fun playing with Min. We’ve quickly gotten back into our wii habits. Lots of fun.

Sleeping Dogs – I didn’t realize that my files had been corrupted, but that provided about an hour of frustration until I tried that and realized I had to redownload files. So far it seems pretty cool. Can’t wait to see how the story develops.

Team Fortress 2 – Got rolled in a few rounds with Lee. Lots of fun, but I was doing pretty poorly.

The Old Republic – Started working on my Sith Warrior because I was thinking the Vette relationship would be neat. Locking quick bars for F2P for non-subscribers is weak, by the way. Bad move, guys.

To the Moon – A quick four hour game/interactive fiction. I was led to believe that it was more incredible than it was, but perhaps that’s just in the pre-Walking Dead world of games. The story is good, mind you, and quite funny in places, but it’s not going to win any awards or terribly surprise you. Not a terrible way to spend four hours, but I wouldn’t expect anything mind-blowing.

What I’ve Been Doing 13 Nov 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Nov 13th, 2012 by Dan

Wreck it Ralph 2

I’m gonna wreck it! (Picture courtesy: Italia Film Middle East)

Had me a long weekend and I managed to get back into the movie mood. Too bad none of them were quite as good as I was hoping.

Movies

Wreck-It Ralph – Not as good as I thought it would be. I mean, it’s still a decent caliber movie, but it doesn’t soar to the heights of, say, WALL-E. I felt like the video game worlds they invented ultimately weren’t that interesting, but it was otherwise pretty good.

Flight – More about alcoholism and addiction than I thought it would be. I also found the decision to come clean at the end to not make sense. I didn’t think he would have felt guilty enough or ready to admit his problem based on the entire movie before it.

Taken – For how much the internet just adores this movie I thought it would be much better than it is. Just kind of goes and then it’s done. Not a terrible way to spend 90 minutes, but it’s not gonna warrant a second viewing from me.

Casino Royale – Preparing for Skyfall by watching my favorite Bond movie…in Spanish! I don’t like the dub voices, but I like some of the translations.

TV

New Girl – I found the punch to the face and the facepalming hilarious. Nick continues to knock it out of the park this season and, like I say every week, this show has no idea what to do with Winston.

The Mindy Project – I like this show more than a lot of the critics do. Sure, it’s not blowing the socks off of network comedies, but it’s sharp and witty and I love Mindy Kaling’s delivery.

Key & Peele – Some great sketches in the pair of episodes I watched, but the most recent one was a little weak with its material. That Michael Jackson one was fantastic.

The League – I really liked the episode where Ruxin did poorly on the Wonderlic and started acting dumb for the rest of the episode.

Childrens Hospital – It’s really hard to compare episodes to A Year in the Life, but I do love me some Nick Offerman as Chance Briggs.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: – The infomercial was pretty funny, if not a little predictable.

Saturday Night Live – The Anne Hathaway sketches started out pretty weak, but then they really picked up near the end. That Homeland sketch was brilliant.

The Amazing Race – Can’t believe that a team stole money from another team (essentially) and that the same team managed to lose their passports. To be continueds are unsatisfying, but I’m so hooked for next week!

Happy Endings – Finished my catchup of S2. Wore me out a little, but ABC knew that it might so they didn’t air one this past week. Thanks, guys!

Community – Watched “Remedial Chaos Theory” again with Min. Brilliant and classic episode. ROXANNE!

Parks and Recreation – I’m getting a little tired of the endless repeat of Chris Traeger stories. Come up with something new, writers!

The Daily Show – Long string of episodes to try and get current. I’m still prior to the third debate and the election. Just gotta keep plugging away.

Cowboy Bebop – Just a few dinnertime episodes with Min. Managed to not sing along with “Tank!” once. I’m super proud of myself.

The Thick of It – Not having subtitles available makes this…tough to watch on top of the sometimes impenetrable British political system, but it’s usually very acerbic and very funny and very profane.

EDIT: Glee – Forgot about this one. Wow, this show is…mostly not good. They really tried to rewrite history by claiming that Finn was some kind of super motivator. I don’t buy it. He’s doofy and kind of dumb…kind of like Mr. Shue! I find that I only care for Marley when she’s singing (she looks so happy and smiley when she does), but the rest of the new kids are just noise.

Music

Still loving this Geko Jones track that I rediscovered:

And also listening to lots of Stevie Wonder:

Books

A Confederacy of Dunces – Got a few pages in here and there. Ignatius’ character has become a real archetype for the nerdy, put upon character of the modern sitcom. The dude who thinks that the rest of the world is going to hell, but not him.

Video Games

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – Very little game time in lieu of tv and pokemon.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – Daily Puzzles! Love just popping in to solve them here and there.

Pokemon White Version 2 – Lost my Nuzlocke challenge against Colriss on the Plasma Cruiser. Built up a new team of six and I’m at Victory Road now.

Hotline Miami – This game is just violent, fast, and fun. If you watch my youtube page, there should be some new episodes of Dan Plays starting tonight.

FTL: Faster Than Light – Got some really fun episodes recorded while unlocking a bunch of new ships. Can’t wait to start trying them out!

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – After a three week hiatus to let my backlog catch up (not quite caught up still), I finally jumped back in because David and Min were playing Ironman Classic games of their own. So epic and so fun and I filmed an exciting episode out of it. Very cool and very fun.

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.

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.

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