Monday, March 01, 2010

Back By Popular Demand

I know it's been a long while since I was blogging regularly. I guess I've been swamped with directing, work, and gaming—the usual. The yoozh? So... what have I been playing/reading/watching, you may ask?

There will be some juicy details in the next couple weeks as I get you caught up on my entertainment life these past several months. As a sneak preview, here's what's in store for your ravenous reading:

1. Eternal Sonata: I came back to this after a long respite and it was worth the wait. What a beautiful game... even with the strange Chopin infomercial slideshows interspersed in there.

2. Assassin's Creed 2: I ambushed this game on opening day and threw it eagerly into my 360. I think AC2 improves some of the flaws of the original, but it's somehow less magical now that we're experiencing it for the second time.

3. Dragon Age: Origins: This game distracted me from AC2. The plot and characters are not as stirring as Mass Effect, Eternal Sonata, or Lost Odyssey. But the gameplay is exciting enough to keep my interest.

4. New Super Mario Bros., Wii: We played it at work, we played it at home. It's everything you ever loved about the Mario series, plus some of the best cooperative playing dynamics I've seen in a videogame.

5. Mass Effect: We spent some time playing this game during our lunch breaks at work. There's something exciting about making all the important dialog choices as a group. Mob mentality at its best!

6. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise: I made a brief return to Piñata Island and immediately remembered how addictive this game is. Curse you, 3am Romances!

7. Left 4 Dead 2: Like AC2, this game lost some of its magic in the sequel. We'd already rode the roller coaster of frantic zombie defense. Fortunately, there is a little bit of sparkle in here.

8. Beatles Rock Band: I am still astonished at how well Harmonix handled this game. They could have just phoned it in and threw some Beatles songs in a Rock Band game, but this is entirely different. Everything is handled with such care!

9. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom: Some mutter that it's a beautifully designed rip-off of Braid. I think this game far outshines the self-important complacency of Braid. Charming, witty, clever... good job, Odd Gentlemen!

10. Doodle Jump: Is the iPhone/iPod a legit gaming platform? It is now! This is just one of many awesome games I've found that has put mobile gaming onto my radar. It's not just for dabblers anymore.

11. Boom Blox: Did you know that this game is still fun? Some games really stand the test of time. And it's not just the Ocarina of Times of the world.

1. The West Wing: The thing I love the most about this show is that it still feels relevant, still makes me laugh and cry, and still has about 4 or 5 seasons that I've never seen. It's like there's this gift that I know is out there for me and that I get to open later.

2. House: At least half of the episodes I watch of this show really make me think. It's another that I'm watching slowly on DVD. What a great distraction.

3. Guilty Pleasures: When I'm sitting at home and can't be distracted by videogames, I actually turn on my TV and work during the commercial breaks. I know... cable. It's crazy. But I get to fulfill my guilty pleasure of crime drama. Bones is my favorite, but there's also NCIS, CSI, and Numb3rs. Also filing under the category of guilty pleasures: The Amazing Race.

4. Sports: Another great reason to have cable? I get to watch basketball, football, tennis, the Olympics, and (soon) baseball! What a day.

1. Robert Jordan: So I did, in fact, finish the most recent Wheel of Time book. (After re-reading the entire series for the first time.) Sanderson did a great job. I'm excited to devour another volume and sad that the series will soon come to an end.

2. Anathem: The latest by Neal Stephenson completely blew my mind. One of the most incredible epic literary journeys I've taken in a decade. From the London Guardian: "The only catch to reading a novel as imposingly magnificent as this is that for the next few months, everything else seems small and obvious by comparison."

1. I became a member at the Boston Museum of Science. Just in time to catch the wonderful Harry Potter exhibit. But also in time to see Running the Numbers, meet Cliff, and dance among the butterflies.

2. In the most recent news, I went to see Carbon Leaf in Portland, ME. They put on a great show (as always) and left me with all sorts of ruminations about the nature of performance, who gets it right, and why.

3. Directing. Yup. I'm doing it. This past fall I wrapped up a joyous production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Now I'm moving on to Annie, Get Your Gun. And helping out with a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Oh the adventures of theatre.

Also, two of my close friends from college just had babies. I'm not even married or engaged. But I think I'll spare you the usual despair about singledom, growing old, and... (gasp) RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

I think life is a pretty awe-inspiring thing these days. With plenty to keep me busy, to revel in, to enjoy... Why rush away from this into something that will take time away from playing videogames?