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Brilliant game. (Photo by Eddie Shannon)
Thanks to a snowstorm Katie, Min, Lee, and I got to play some Left 4 Dead. I’d forgotten how sharp that game’s design was!
The Amazing Race – I was spot on with my predictions last week. Super fun episode and, surprisingly, Tim and Marie ended up my favorite racers by the end.
The Daily Show – Watched a few eps here and there, but the white/black Santa bit was…HILARIOUS. Definitely watch the opening 10 mins or so of the Evangeline Lilly episode. So hilarious.
Plays of the Month: April – We had to start somewhere. I was hoping for more Marlins/Orioles highlights, but it was still loads of fun. Under 60 days to pitchers and catchers!
Community – Saw a season 5 trailer and decided that I should actually watch the last two episodes of season 4. I didn’t really enjoy the retcon of the way the characters were all related, but at least it was funny enough. The finale was a little silly (it’s all a dream, seriously?), but I like where it sets up the show to go in S5. Plus darkest timeline Annie…wow…
Homeland – I’m baffled by how much critics seem to love the finale of S3. I thought it was kind of safe and convenient and every happy outcome that you’d expect happened. It felt too happy. Plus Carrie is a terrible employee of the CIA and shouldn’t be a station chief. I also would have liked to see the rest of the Brodys and how they reacted to Nick being on tv as a propaganda tool and his execution. Anyway, I found the season to be vastly inferior to the first and normally inferior to the second.
Project Runway: All-Stars – It feels weird that I recognize so many of these designers. As I’ve said before, still a decent show. Plus it teaches me a little more about fashion.
I like Straight No Chaser’s version of the “12 Days of Christmas”
Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value, and Meaning – I finished the Super Mario Bros. section, but I found it to be a little to simplistic. It was covering stuff that I already knew too well. The Advance Wars section is more interesting and I’m appreciating some of the game design stuff I’m learning, but I’m hoping things get more in depth, a la David Sirlin’s writing about game systems.
Super Mario 3D World – Just a few mins of this. Really excited to get down with it in Florida.
Rayman Legends – A few levels of this too. I liked the more complicated Murphy wheels.
Left 4 Dead – Kate got her first games in and she loved it. Makes me really happy because I’d talked up how good it was before. I hope she continues to love it and digs part 2 as well.
XCOM: Enemy Within – New game seems to be going better, but I’m losing some good men. I’m hoping for better luck on the council missions, because they’re really tough.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – I’m pretty sure I mentioned that I beat case 3, right? Well case 4 involves…ASTRONAUTS! So cool. I wish I hadn’t seen a spoiler about the culprit, but it’s still been an interesting case so far and I’m a long way from that spoiler.
Rock Band 3 – Busted out this bad boy once again to play with Katie and Min. She dug drumming and I started to recover my strumming abilities. Just gotta start singing too next time. Our new band is awesome
Spelunky – I got cocky about beating David’s score and then…I died. Goddammit…
There’s such a thing as being too into a player, I think…
Broke the seal on baseball season this week by attending my first game. Marlins at Nats. Of course Miami lost, but it’s the experience that makes it all feel right.
Looper – Best line: “I don’t want to talk about time travel shit. Because if we talk about it, then we’re gonna be here all day, drawing diagrams with straws.” What a brilliantly done movie. Just such a tightly constructed plot. Lots of fun. I really dug it.
Rust and Bone – A little less dramatic than I thought it would be. Probably a result of one plot element too many. We didn’t need Ali’s son along with Stéphanie’s struggles from losing her legs. The prosthetics also put a fairly tight bow on the whole “no legs” situation.
The Americans – I felt like the show was asking us to take too far a leap to mourn Amador so soon into the season. The dude was neat/funny, but he didn’t really have time to capture our hearts, not to mention he was kind of crude. I dunno. Still enjoying the show.
The Amazing Race – The second Botswana episode was great. Speeding tickets, car accidents, etc. Lots of excitement. Bummer to lose Pam and Winnie though. Also fun to see S3 progress alright. Having the Harvard lawyers lose because they didn’t properly read the fine print…well that’s brilliant, isn’t it?
Caught up on an old episode of Alt.Latino where they mentioned a fantastic album by the Giles Peterson’s Havana Cultura Band plus people like Danay Suarez and Silvito El Libre. Good times and good music. Seriously. Listen to it.
So busy with work and baseball that I did not manage any reading. Whoops.
Harmoknight – Completed the main campaign. Gotta say that I don’t really dig the boss battles, but that’s kind of minor. Otherwise the game is pretty fun. Worth $15? Maybe just barely.
Tomb Raider – The supernatural element that always mars these video game narratives (can you say zombies or blue guys in Uncharted games?!) have shown up, but I thankfully haven’t had to fight them yet. The shotgun feels pretty nice though.
Back in September I still had hope for 2013
Everyone’s thinking “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” right about now, but I still can’t help but feel so betrayed.
You don’t really get to pick the teams you love. I mean, you do, obviously, but at the same time what rational human being would continue to love a team like the Marlins? Two World Series titles are rather nice, but every other year in the team’s history has been fairly miserable thanks to fire sales and borderline duplicitous frugality.
When you’re a kid and you love baseball and a team finally starts operating in your town, that’s a huge event. The Marlins have held a special place in my heart since 1993, but the trade…oh, that huge trade with Toronto. We’re sending them Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck and getting Yunel Escobar plus prospects/cheap players in return. Thanks for ruining the 20th anniversary of the team, Jeffrey Loria. Thanks for lying and tricking us into thinking the team had changed last year. Thanks for nothing.
I can no more change my favorite team or favorite sport than I could choose to stop breathing oxygen, but you’ve gone and taken 2013 from me, Jeffrey Loria. The thing I look forward to the most every year, baseball season, just feels so empty right now.
No More Heroes is good for some easy cosplay. Travis Touchdown is pretty awesome (Photo by Elliot Trinidad)
Last week felt super long! Thank god it’s all over. At least I enjoyed myself plenty. Week two of the swimming experiment continued as well, reminding me of how woefully out of shape I am. Glad to have seen Kai again too. It’s a bummer that she no longer has work/business in Baltimore.
Prometheus – I went to see this with Ian last Monday. Despite what some critics might tell you, it’s not aggressively terrible. I think that my lack of prior Alien knowledge is what allows me to enjoy the movie so much. I came in with zero preconceptions and zero expectation and I left having seen the coolest surgical procedure ever and a pretty sweet squid vs. Engineer fight. This is not an A+, high-caliber piece of cinema, but it’s a fun summer film. Oh, before I forget, Michael Fassbender as David was INCREDIBLE.
Rampart – Woody Harrelson plays a dirty cop who is all kinds of damaged. The movie kind of starts in the middle and ends in the middle, but it was interesting, if not fragmented. I think most of you guys wouldn’t really dig it.
Futurama – I’ll admit that the fat robot in the Mars University episode was pretty funny. I’m enjoying pushing through this show a few episodes at a time. I hope to get some more in this week.
The Thick of It – Watched the entire first series (I mean, it’s only three episodes. British television, everybody!). The first episode wasn’t particularly funny at all. It was just a lot of meanness and snarkiness, although it’s situationally hilarious in retrospect. In fact, it’s making me smile quite broadly. This show, in case you didn’t know, was Armando Iannucci’s show about English politics that precedes Veep (although it seems that they’re making a new series for 2012). It’s biting and it’s downright mean most of the time (meaner than Veep), but it’s still quite funny, especially past the first episode.
You can get “Black Sheep” by Metric off of the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, but if you want the Brie Larson version I recommend searching for it on last.fm where they have a downloadable 128 kbps one you can get. Great song.
Here’s another good Metric song:
1Q84 – I’m in so hard for this book. It has gotten so good. I finally know how Tengo and Aomame relate to each other, but I’m not even 1/3 of the way done with this epic. So far the Little People are the scariest thing I’ve ever heard of. I think Aomame is gonna end up infiltrating Sakigake and maybe Tengo is gonna have to save her and Fuka-Eri. We’ll see.
Diablo III – Inferno…yay? As you might expect I’m more interested in playing new or unfinished games so I haven’t logged into D3 in a while. I’ll get more time in this week during Marlins games (unless I end up reading between innings instead).
Civilization V – The Gods and Kings expansion pack came out and I’m really enjoying it. The new Faith system is neat and I enjoyed founding Buddhism, but I have yet to see how it will impact the whole game so far. Haven’t put too much time into it (sometimes I try and rest my arms when I get home since being on the computer all day makes my shoulders hurt), but I expect to win as the Siam empire!
No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise – There’s so much going on in this game that it’s hard to pick out just one thing. It seems that Suda51 is intentionally satirizing the video game fan and his pathetic existence in Travis. He has a lust for blood, is an otaku (he is mocked for this), and he endlessly and pathetically lusts over women. Most of the other assassins are similarly psychopaths and the game pretty heavily breaks the fourth wall. For what you’d think would be a mindless game, this has some hidden depth that I’m thoroughly enjoying.
Alpha looks seriously creepy there. Wow. (Photo courtesy ComicVine)
In a weekend full of grief over some terrible Marlins losses thanks to anemic offenses I finally got around to finishing Dollhouse…
Indie Game: The Movie – Steam’s first movie! I didn’t kickstart it, but I was more than happy to support it post-release. It’s not super informative if you don’t already know a bunch about indie video games, but it’s entertaining to see three artists at three stages of their careers and the minds and personalities that go with each. It makes me really crave postmortem analysis of Fez as well.
Dollhouse – I think it’s safe to say that this is Joss Whedon’s weakest show (although I haven’t seen Angel yet…). Most of the complaints were with Eliza Dushku not being up to the part, but I think she eventually grew into the part. The second season was full of a lot of melodrama and, as Min noted, felt very rushed, but I think that Joss had enough time to put a perfect little bow on the series and wrap up all the loose plot threads rather nicely. I’d much rather recommend that people watch The Wire, but if you’re looking for something second tier to enjoy and you’ve already seen Firefly, you could do worse.
Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain – Comedy pairs perfectly with Diablo or another similarly mindless game. This isn’t Oswalt’s funniest work, but I enjoyed it alright.
Louis C.K.: Hilarious – Man, Louis C.K. is funny! I don’t know why I’ve never seen his standup before, but you should catch this before it leaves Instant on 1 July. I loved the bits about how unappreciative Americans are. Good stuff.
Futurama – I’ve only seen like six episodes of this show. Everyone seems to love it. I’m checking out the first season. Saw the garbage ball one and the one where Bender gets hooked on electricity. Had some funny moments, but not hilarious ones. I liked the musical bits in hell and seeing the Beastie Boys was bittersweet.
Guys…the video to Girls’ Generation’s new single, “Paparazzi” came out. The stealth conversion of the site to a K-Pop repository continues.
1Q84 – How long has it been since I last read this book? Holy cow! Got a bunch of chapters in. One of the characters has realized that something might be up, but I don’t know how Aomame is gonna tie in with Tengo’s story. I’m intrigued, but I’m frustrated by my usual pet peeve of men writing women like they feel like women think. I mean, I can’t confirm that Murakami is being inaccurate with his portrayal of Aomame’s thoughts, but it doesn’t quite feel right to me. Then again, what the heck do I know about how women think/act?
Diablo III – I’m in Inferno! Now I’ve just gotta beat Diablo again. Lost another Hardcore Min. Rest in peace Min the Demon Hunter. Your deeds will be forever remembered.
The Binding of Isaac – Great time killer. Gotta make more progress, but these challenges are tougher than I realized they’d be.
Poker Night at the Inventory – Trying desperately to get the four-of-a-kind or straight flush achievements, the odds of which are 72,192.33 : 1 and 4,164 : 1, respectively. Got a lot of poker ahead of me…at least Texas Hold ‘em has softer odds.
No More Heroes: Paradise – The recent release of Lollipop Chainsaw reminded me that I’ve got a Suda51 backlog that needs clearing. Lotta character and personality to this game. I like Travis Touchdown and I like the fighting for now, but I don’t love the busywork nature of it all. I’ll survive the part time jobs and assassination missions mostly by thinking about the statements that Suda is trying to make, but I have a much harder time dealing with the temperamental motorcycle and overlarge overworld.
Unrelated shot of the beautiful Red Rock Canyon
It was a nice, lazy, fun weekend full of baseball, movies, and video games. Who could complain?
The Cabin in the Woods – If you think for a second you want to see this movie, you probably shouldn’t read anything about it. Those of you who don’t, well I thought it was an interesting deconstruction of the horror genre that was expertly written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, but perhaps a little too elbow nudge-y, wink wink to be taken completely seriously. Still worth seeing. Lots of fun.
The Voice – You have to make sacrifices sometimes when you have a girlfriend. This is one of the watchable ones. Some of the eliminations continue to baffle me, but at least RaeLynn is gone. Yay!
Glee – The Quinn in the wheelchair episode was absolutely terrible. The disco one, on the other hand, is a return to form. Diana Agron mysteriously disappeared for long stretches of the episode (perhaps her wheelchair dancing is not to par). I wish they’d use Mercedes more…she’s tragically underused and has the best voice on the show.
New Girl – “I might as well call you ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ because you make kids cry” New Girl…what do I think of you? Most improved show of the year? Perhaps. It’s gotten to be quite good, but it’s still not perfect and I still think Happy Endings does the young 20-30 somethings hanging out thing better. Glad the show is improving, but I could do without all the sappy moments.
Justified – Great great GREAT finale. Gonna miss watching Raylan Givens solve crimes every week. See you next year, Justified!
Mad Men – I remain a week behind on this, per usual, but the boxing match between Lane and Pete was hilariously awesome. Fantastic episode.
Community – It was one of those weeks where they really go all out in the emotional, barely funny route. It worked before and it works again, mostly because Alison Brie is a joy to watch.
Dollhouse – The guy who plays Topher (Fran Kranz) was in The Cabin in the Woods, so I felt like trying to watch some of S2. The show definitely has problems (lots of them), but it’s improving and I am interested in seeing how it all ended.
Bob’s Burgers – Food truck episode…way to be timely? They’re still a thing, but it’s just not that funny in 2012. At least the cast makes it work…mostly.
Baseball – Two Marlins games, two Marlins losses. To the Nationals! WTF!
Parks and Recreation – Bradley Whitford’s part was too small, but that’s ok. Aubrey Plaza continues to show range and grow. I find Aziz Ansari to be increasingly irrelevant in Parks…
All of the Coachella news has put one song permanently in my head last week:
If you know someone who doesn’t like “Changes”, you know a monster. A MONSTER!
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – Only got like 15 mins in so I didn’t get a chance to get a serious impression. I like the style and the sneaky interactive elements. Music seems cool so far too.
The Old Republic – Started up a Trooper so that Min and I could have the full compliment of buffs as we leveled. Love hearing Jennifer Hale’s voice again. Great game and the Trooper and Smuggler have neat stories.
Devil Survivor 2 – Made it to Wednesday, I think. Fighting the first boss that appears at like 0830. Love this style of game, but I’ve got a long ways to go still.
Baseball is BACK! The (Miami) Marlins are headed to Philadelphia for their second/third series of the year.
Baseball. It signals the end of winter. Guess what, guys? Winter is GONE! The Marlins are off to a rocky start (1-3), but they’re still looking pretty good and, in the past two games, playing pretty well too. I really hope this season is better than the last, but, either way, at least baseball has returned.
The Muppets – It weirdly acknowledges that it’s a movie heightened reality world. What a real nostalgia-fest. Man, this movie moved me to tears once or twice. The Rolf story was awesome, but the actual “show” part of the movie was less fun.
Mad Men – Last week’s episode was not as bombastic as the premiere, what with fat-suit Betty and all that, but this season is still looking promising. Dawn/Don jokes might get old someday, but I’m digging them now.
Happy Endings – Happy Endings has turned into a rapid-fire joke delivery system. I mean, JOKESJOKESJOKESJOKES! It’s pretty awesome. Sleeper hit of the 2011-2012 season for sure!
Community – Holy cow, what an awesome format for an episode! The PBS/Ken Burns style documentary seems like it couldn’t work for a comedy, but it was just perfectly executed. Loved it.
Cupcake Wars – What could be more rock and roll than cupcakes? EVERYTHING. Seriously. “Lightning bolts and flames are so rock and roll.” No…no they’re not.
Chopped – Seems like a short-form Iron Chef. I can see why people dig it over the juggernaut that is Iron Chef, but it’s not as good to me. At least you get more variety from round/course to round/course.
Iron Chef – Canned tuna is a weird ingredient for the competition. Didn’t see how it all turned out, but if there wasn’t tuna ice cream I’m disappointed.
BASEBALL! – So much baseball. Love it.
Jasper Byrne’s Lone Survivor has a chilling and awesome soundtrack. Below is the embed for the album.
Lone Survivor – Original Soundtrack by Jasper Byrne
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – FINALLY DONE! YES! It’s self-indulgent, wish-fulfilling fiction taken to its most boring extremes.
Rayman: Origins – More speed trophies. Min and I have great teamwork even though we sometimes die very stupidly.
Pro Yakyu Spirits 2012 – Only got one match in, but it’s the same great game I love every year and I blanked the Dragons 2-0. Good times.
When your favorite baseball team is in its final year of its current incarnation and ready to change its name, stadium, logo, and identity, you want to pay attention. When they’re the dark horse contender for the wild card in the pre-season, it thrills you to your core. Then June happens.
For a little more background, the Florida Marlins were holding a strong second place in the NL East going into June. That’s about two months into the season, or about a third of the way done, and things were looking good. Then disaster struck.
The first of June was the beginning of an eight game losing streak to start the month. Seven of those losses were by one run. Over the entire month of June, a month containing 28 games, the Marlins only managed to win five.
They dropped from a competitive second place to fifth, last in the division. Their manager retired and they dug up an ancient fossil to lead the team. Nothing. The season was essentially over. They were able to pull up to fourth place for a short spell, but they quickly lapsed back into last place for the last ⅔ of the season.
It killed the season for me. I entered the 2011 baseball season with high hopes, savagely devouring all kinds of baseball information through the off-season to prep for the 162-game marathon and I was maintaining that interest all the way to June. It’s not like I stopped paying attention to baseball, but I wasn’t able to muster the same enthusiasm. I still enjoyed watching the games, but I no longer looked forward to catching them each night.
Maybe that means I’m not a real fan, but it wasn’t easy to swallow the bitter pill of the 2011 season. I didn’t want the Florida Marlins to enter their off-season cocoon on such a down note. This is a team that I love and, although the spirit of the team remains and I’m firmly in the Miami Marlins camp, I know that it’ll never be the same. They have new colors, new uniforms, and new swag, but that came at the cost of being the scrappy underdogs. No one likes the Miami Heat. Will everyone hate the new-look Marlins? I mean, it’s not like we had much of an identity before. It was more of a, “Oh yeah, the Marlins are in the NL East too, huh,” kind of vibe for a long time (aside from the aberrant 1997 and 2003 seasons where we kicked ass). Now things aren’t the same and I didn’t get to love them on their way out.
I think that’s for the best. Despite my nostalgia and love, I’m ready to see that old team reborn into something new. I’m tired of being a fan of the laughing stock of baseball. Considering the population in the area, Miami should have an interesting, successful baseball team. Let’s hope the new year brings legitimacy and success for the Fish.
Hanley Ramirez, our former short stop and soon-to-be 3rd baseman
I'm not actually as happy as I look in this photograph at all. Actually, I'm kind of bummed about the end of the Rays season (Photo courtesy DJOtaku)
It’s not completely over, since I will still watch games in the playoffs and the World Series, but for the teams that I truly care about the season is over.
The Rays lost to Texas 4-3 this afternoon, but I’m not gonna mope. Instead I’m gonna talk about what this season meant to me.
As the last season for the Florida Marlins, my hopes were high in April. The Fish were the edgy pick to sneak into the playoffs and dominate. Then things got kind of bad quick. Chris Coghlan was supposedly better, but then he wasn’t performing, got hurt again, and was sent down to the minors. Our third base prospect, Matt Dominguez, had his elbow shattered by a pitch and hit the DL as well. Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez both had extended DL stints and, worst of all, Florida went 5-23 for the month of June. Five wins in the entire month.
I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but I didn’t want Florida to limp into the gate in dead last, four games behind the Mets. Before June, Florida flirted with first place! Now that’s over. The Florida Marlins, as I knew them, are no more. Two World Series wins (1997 and 2003), countless frustrating, but fun seasons and, despite how great the stadium looks, I’m supposed to be getting excited to see this godawful logo representing the team next year?
Florida has always been a controversial team. Their attendance is low, their budget is low, they pocket revenue sharing, and they sell off their talent when it gets old and expensive. Owner Jeffrey Loria plans to change a lot of that now that the new stadium is secured. The Marlins were never Florida’s team. Despite their success and a population that adores baseball everywhere but in Florida, they just didn’t capture the state’s imagination. I hope that narrowing the focus to Miami can fix that. I hope that the Miami Marlins are not the black sheep of the National League because they are my team, I love them, and they have shaped me as a person and a sports fan.
As for my AL team, the Rays had themselves quite the season. Started out 1-8 and finished the season with 91 wins. 91 wins! Their fairy tale win against the Yankees propelled them into a killer first game against Texas, but they just couldn’t get those bats going hard enough from Game 2 onward. These guys have money issues, but they are so intelligently run that it’s truly impressive. If Tampa Bay can keep this up they will have a World Series title one day. I just hope they know that if they end up challenging Miami for it I will hope that they get swept.
Not the same at bat as last night, but you get the idea (Picture courtesy DJOtaku)
What an amazing night! Wow, that was fantastic! I was just on the edge of my seat all last night…
My evening began with the final Marlins game of the year against the Nats. It was the end of an era, really. The Florida Marlins are technically no more (they’re officially no more on 11 November) and I wish they closed out Joe Robbie Stadium with a bang, but instead they went out with a whimper. That happens when you face Stephen Strasburg, I guess. Still, listening to Mike Lowell reminisce about the old team and ballpark and just seeing it all finally come to an end is kind of heartbreaking. I hope that the new name reinvigorates Miami like it did for Tampa. I also really hope the “leaked logos” are not the official logos. We’ll see come November.
In bigger news, the Tampa Bay Rays locked a playoff spot in dramatic fashion. They scarily fell behind the Yankees 7-0 thanks to a grand slam by Teixeira and countless other home runs and they didn’t really make a dent until the 8th. Then things started to happen.
The bases loaded. Walk. 7-1. Hit by pitch. 7-2. Sacrifice fly. 7-3. THREE RUN HOME RUN BY LONGORIA! 7-6!
Finally it was bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Two strikes. Dan Johnson steps up and recreates the 2008 magic. Home run barely over the right field fence! Tie game!
Nothing much happens until the 12th. Minutes before his at-bat, the Red Sox manage to lose their rain delayed game to the Orioles in walk-off fashion. Longoria comes up to the plate. Works the count to 2-2. Fouls off a pitch…HOME RUN BARELY CLEARS THE LEFT FIELD WALL! The Rays are going to the playoffs!
It was a wild night with an added bonus: the Braves managed to blow their game too and were eliminated from the playoffs. What. A. Night.