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

Arepas in Boston

Yeah, this has nothing to do with a week summary. In fact, this happened in like…May, but I saw it and I love arepas and it looked so good. Mmmm…arepas…

Welcome to the last WIBD of the year! I’ve been a little bad about keeping up with this list throughout the year, but I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to and I hope to continue to talk about what I’m doing next year too.

Movies

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Not the first time I’ve seen it, but the first time Katie’s ever seen it all the way through. Is the movie a little cheesy/corny when viewed in the 2010s? Yeah, a little, but it’s also kind of supposed to be that way. Solid fun.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – My dad randomly got way into The Hunger Games when he saw it with my brother and he wanted to watch Catching Fire, so we went to the movies early on Christmas and had us a jolly time. Definitely an exciting movie, but it’s not gonna win any awards or anything.

TV

Key & Peele – Katie and Kara were randomly watching a few episodes. Hell of a show. Super hilarious.

How I Met Your Mother – The mother episodes continue being real stand-out affairs. Loved seeing Andrew Rannells again. He’s a funny dude.

Parenthood – Yeah, the mayor campaign subplot was a little silly. I also wasn’t expecting them to cancel the wedding.

Trophy Wife – I’d heard good things about the show and I do love Malin Ã…kerman, so this show seemed like it would be pretty good. On the whole, it’s a little predictable, but it’s got a solid cast and makes for some good laughs. Not gonna blow anyone away with groundbreaking comedy, but I will say that I laughed pretty hard a few times.

The Amazing Race – Moving on through season 21. I’m loving watching it again. I don’t know why people disliked this season, it was super fun.

Music

I’m sure I’ve put The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” up here before, but it’s so tight. Damn…

Books

Well Played 1.0: Video Games, value, and Meaning – Right now I’m on a good section about Shadow of the Colossus and something the author is calling “futile interactivity”, which really is an interesting mechanic that is not used often enough in games.

Video Games

Civilization V – The long break has slowed Eric and David’s ability (mostly David’s) to play turns. It’s been an agonizing wait…

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies – Still on that final case. Just found out that there’s a nefarious third party influencing things, but I have no idea where we’re supposed to proceed in this case. Getting interesting.

Super Mario 3D Land – The good times I experienced in Super Mario 3D World made me want to go back and view the source material. It makes a lot of the things I saw in 3D world make a little more sense as an extension of things introduced in 3D Land, but 3D Land uses depth in ways that are way neater, but also impossible on a non-3D system.

XCOM: Enemy Within – Another game bites the dust. Moved on to a new game and turned off the Second Wave stuff. It makes the game more interesting and tougher, but I’m having too hard a time actually winning for me to leave them on. I’ll start to remix on further playthroughs.

NES Remix – Nintendo stealth released this during their most recent Nintendo Direct. It’s a little like WarioWare, but without the zaniness. The idea is that you’re supposed to complete mini challenges with old NES classics within a time limit. Works pretty well, but some of those old games are tough. Also it’s weird that they don’t allow custom button mappings. I don’t want to use A and B, I want to use Y and B.

Pokemon Y – Barely beat that ice gym thanks to Sturdy. I mean, I almost lost, for sure. All my original team is gone/dead, so I’m down to a new set that I’m grinding up to level 50 before I try to tackle Victory Road. The Elite Four is gonna be a struggle, I know it.

Super Mario 3D World – I played this a whole bunch with my siblings over the break and…holy cow, still so good. That final world?! That FINAL BOSS?! Just an incredible moment that I totally dug. I need to talk about it more, but I’ll probably talk about it in my year end video game thing.

Project X Zone – Ok, picture this: What if Namco, Capcom, and Sega made a crossover tactical RPG game with all their famous characters? That’s what this is. I played the demo before picking it up and Ryu and Ken were battling monsters with Valkyria Chronicles dudes. Namco guys were there too (no idea who they were). It’s neat, but I don’t think I have the hang of the battle system yet. Looking forward to putting more time in next year.

Risk of Rain – Played this with Lee and Min. It starts off feeling a little thin because you’ve only got one guy unlocked, but with two we seemed to be getting the hang of it a lot more. Really fun as a multiplayer game. Can’t wait to get more time in with the guys.

The Walking Dead 400 Days – It’s short, but it’s more of that Walking Dead flavor that everyone needs. It’s full of short vignettes about companionship and survival and I really loved all the connections between the characters.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Unlocked the first item to rent (bow), but I haven’t entered the Eastern Temple yet. Loving the game so far.

The Walking Dead Season 2 – Just…brutal. There’s this thing that happens where Clementine’s trust is betrayed…SO GOOD.

What I’ve Been Doing 4 Nov 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Nov 4th, 2013 by Dan

Great For Tweezing

Who doesn’t love novelty tweezers?

I’ve gotten really bad at doing these in a timely fashion. Gotta get back up on that horse…

Movies

Under African Skies – Katie’s favorite album is Graceland and we happened upon a track on the 25th anniversary album where Paul Simon explained how the song was constructed. It really got us in the mood to look for some kind of documentary about the album and, lo and behold, this movie exists and it was on Hulu+. The documentary is fascinating, both politically and musically, and definitely well worth seeing.

TV

New Girl – The whole Keaton concept was actually a really funny premise. It’s also a pretty clever way to get Schmidt out of the loft for a few episodes so Damon Wayans, Jr. can return as Coach for a bit. I’m so excited for that storyline, mostly because I miss the superior hangout show, Happy Endings. It’s gonna go one of two ways: Winston will be hilarious and we’ll all love him more for being on this show OR it’s gonna further highlight how little they had for Winston to do all this time and how loose a grasp they have on his character.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Pretty good Halloween episode. After a few “Lone Wolf” Peralta episodes, the show has really been focusing on its (excellent) ensemble. I’ve been really enjoying the way that everyone gels and how the adversarial relationhip they set up in the pilot between Holt and Peralta has mostly turned into a jovial, accepting one.

The Mindy Project – The nude photo exhibit episode was just…hilarious. Having all those photos in the background of the final scenes was hilarious. The MMA episode…less fun. I’m still enjoying Adam Pally on the show, but, man does this show feel stuffed!

How I Met Your Mother – Where’s the mother?! I was kind of hoping she’d appear in more episodes than she has.

Homeland – Did Homeland cheat a little with its plotting this season for the twist? No. I don’t think so. It’s actually reasonablby tight in retrospect. The real question is whether or not that crazy twist is worth leaving us all kind of spinning in the wind for a few episodes or not. Why not let us know that this is the plan from the getgo and let the tension arise from worrying about the plan messing up or the strain that Carrie is actually suffering under?

The Amazing Race – Real bummer to see the beards go. They were an interesting team. I also wish the earlier teams used the U-Turns. Also: don’t switch Detours!

Parenthood – The mayor plotline still feels a little bit like a reach, but I don’t think we’re supposed to think that closely about Parenthood episodes, right?

Archer – Space episodes. Both super funny.

Music

I’m in a Paul Simon mood. Here’s “I Know What I Know”

Books

Hmm…I really gotta get back on this train.

Video Games

Pokemon Y – The Nuzlocke is going well. I’m in the Frost Caverns, but I lost a bunch of dudes, including Katie and Chen.

Civilization V – I might finally get to capture a pirate in the Mesa Bros. game and in the game with David I’m battling for territory with Persia and Rome. I might try and pit Persia against Rome to take a bite out of Roman power…

Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies – I’ve played through the first case and I’m partway through the second. The new mood matrix is a little more interesting to me than the way that they approached Apollo’s power of spotting tics in AA4. Athena’s a pretty cool character and it’s good to have Phoenix back. So far it’s been a lot of fun, but I haven’t met the new prosecutor yet nor have I done extensive investigations. It feels like they hold your hand a little more in the investigation phase, but maybe that’s not a bad thing…

Candy Box 2 – Everything interesting about Candy Box has been turned up to 11 in this game. I’ve been having a blast with how weird and fun it is. Great to just spend a few minutes to maximize my lollipop production.

Hometown Story – This game just feels cheaply and poorly done. It lacks some polish, but I’ve also only really given it a half hour. Maybe it’ll get better with more time, but in a single day’s worth of gameplay Recettear seemed a lot more cohesive and with it.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 – Like the first one, only more advanced and with microtransactions. Would I prefer to play this on my pc? Absolutely. Is it acceptable on the phone? Sure.

What I’ve Been Doing 22 Oct 2013 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Oct 22nd, 2013 by Dan

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I really dig the entire ensemble in this show. Lots of talent. (Photo courtesy michelarouca)

A nice, relaxing weekend led to plenty of tv getting consumed and a great new show find.

Movies

Argo – Katie, Min, and I were looking for something action-y, but not too brainy and this is what we (brilliantly) settled on. The flick still holds up after a year, but I found the embassy storming less traumatic the second time (and also separated from Benghazi and watching the movie with people instead of solo)

TV

How I Met Your Mother – Fully catching up on How I Met Your Mother leaves me in the uncomfortable position of not having a go-to hang out show to watch. Whoops! I finally watched the episode with the mother and she’s really funny/neat-seeming. I hope to see more of her this season, because she hasn’t appeared all that much in the present.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – There was non-insignificant buzz about this being the best show of the new fall slate and they weren’t wrong. It’s got Parks and Recreation fingerprints on it, for sure, but it’s very funny in its own unique way. I like the entire ensemble so far and I’m pretty invested in where this show is going to go as the year progresses.

Parks and Recreation – Is it weird that I’ve found Leslie to be kind of unlikeable for the first part of this season? I know they like to have episodes where she’s wrong sometimes so she’s not a complete Mary Sue character, but her overreaction to Ann leaving was fairly off-putting.

Parenthood – I’m not looking forward to the Pete adultery plot that’s about to start next episode, but this show has been remarkably pleasant so far, even if it is a little too overeager/unrealistic with how neatly things wrap up (if Christina becomes mayor…)

The League – I know this show is way over the top (this episode, particularly) and off-putting, but it’s funny in a throwaway kind of way. I can just half-watch and do other things while the worse than Seinfeld folks do their thing.

Homeland – My level of “OK” with the most recent plot twist will have to do with whether or not they try and convince us that this was all part of the plan the whole time. Carrie has an awful poker face in general, so being told that this was always true doesn’t track with the very-real fear she showed in the asylum. Twists are fun, but only when you play fair with them.

The Amazing Race – Supposedly the second express pass didn’t help in The Amazing Race Canada either, so I’m hoping for a solid 3-3 on the second express pass screwing over Marie. She’s almost cartoonish in how she tries to hold that over people’s heads. Sadly, safe money is on editing misdirection.

New Girl – Didn’t pay enough attention to the jokes in this episode, but Winston sure is getting to be a cartoon, isn’t he?

The Bridge – The killer is revealed(?) Gross violence in this one.

Music

You all know that I love Wild Flag, right? Here’s another Mary Timony joint, Ex Hex. This track, “Hot and Cold” is pretty good.

Books

Would you believe me if I said, “Maybe next week?”

Video Games

Pokemon Y – Just beat the Electric Gym. I wish Lumiose City wasn’t in 3D. It’s too obnoxious to navigate with the way the game handles the camera.

Civilization V – Well…Things move slowly, but I’m still ahead of David in our dual game, but behind him in the Mesa game. I should be making a push soon, especially if I stop getting beat to wonders.

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

IMAG0038

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.

Movies

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.

TV

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.

Music

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

Books

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.

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