Recent Media

Currently Reading: The Roman Forum by David Watkin. He’s opinionated, but that makes less inherently interesting topics (architecture and archaeology) engaging, encouraging you to form your own opinion even if only in opposition to his hobby-horse.

Dice Tower 294: A decent episode. I was amazed at how many of the games I like were from 1998–including Jennifer’s old favorite, Cities and Knights. (I think Suburbia may have passed it recently…)

Ken and Robin talk about stuff 25-28: All solid, all interesting… but not a lot stuck. I do remember realizing how erudite they seem… their vocabularies are extensive in a way I haven’t experienced publicly in a long while.

Roleplay DNA #19: Only two podcasters this episode, which worked well as a natural format. The topic was a straightforward one, Bank Heists–specifically, how little you can prep, how to prep flexibly, etc. A good topic mix.

Ask Me Another, Special Pundits Unit: Fun, as always.

This American Life 487 & 488. A big two part episode about Harper High School. The interviewers probably had several more episodes of material on the cutting room floor–there was a lot of interesting discussion, and some clearly sculpted storylines that could have gone very different directions with different viewpoint characters. The idea was simple–go to Harper High for a semester, which had 29 current and recent students shot last year, and see what life is like. The details, particularly the “auto-signup” nature of local gangs, and the chilling history of Terrance Green. It’s an amazing world–horrific on the edges, but understandable and empathy inducing. It’s crazy that the surrounding neighborhood situation exists, is understood, acknowledged… and insolvable.

TAL 489- Coincidences. A very light episode, particularly in contrast to the last two.

Wait Wait 03/02– A guilty pleasure, and much like Daily Show, about as close as I get to politics most weeks.

Recent reads and listens 3/6

This last week I’ve read Fate Core (the PDF), in preparation for my The Tower of the Serpents game at this weekend’s upcoming Bookwyrm Con. It’s still a solid system, mostly familiar; the new iteration strips out some of the less commonly used terminology (like tagging for effect) and generally reflects another few years of experience with the system. I look forward to my game–though Sunday, 8 am, is pretty cruel.

I also read a book I was gifted for Christmas this week, Brenda Cooper’s The Creative Fire. I really like the setting, which is a well worn generation ship, several generations in. My lack of deep-seated emotional understanding of music led Ruby, the book’s heroine, to not quite resonate correctly to me. I got that she was popular…. but it’s hard for me to imagine folk singing having such power. Anyway, I enjoyed her characterization, along with Onor, the other predominant POV. The system that developed on the ship makes sense, and the diagnosis (that comes late in the book) seems reasonable too. It’s clearly the beginning of a series–that, despite enjoying the characters, I hope is short.

This week’s listens were fewer; I listened to a pair of TJ hours and enjoyed RoleplayDNA Episode 18. The episode was middling and wandered quite a bit, but was still interesting to listen to. The central question was about handling vampires and creatures of the night as central players–either PC or NPC.

The Jefferson Hour shows were both interesting. Episode 1012 – War in Virginia, was a very interesting discussion about the challenges of being a wartime governor in Virginia during the revolutionary war, when the war finally came south. It was interesting to hear Jefferson defend his skills as an administrator, while disavowing himself as a leader of men. The strangely crippled executive branch of this era was something I’d never heard about before. All in all, a fascinating hour.

Show 1013 – Boundaries of Authority was familiar, since it covered topics that the other guest hosts were also interested by, especially the Louisiana Purchase and how it comported with Jefferson’s limited government stance. What made it work was the strong line of questioning from the guest host; since we talked about the purchase only two episodes ago (in 1011), the difference in questions and, particularly, Jefferson’s contrast of his actions to Hamilton’s made the episode distinct. But I can see the purchase coming up very frequently if each guest host indulges their curiosity about Jefferson’s justification every two episodes.