Recent Media 4/17

Recent Books:

I’m currently reading Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. I’m currently up to his time in Paris, which is coming to a close. He’ll soon be returning to America.

Recent Podcasts:

The Dice Tower, episodes 297-300.
297: A solid episode, Fantastiqa sounds like a game I should play.

298: A great science fiction games list, with a guest who didn’t detract much from the standard “Tom and Eric talk about stuff” formula.

299: The talk was about GTS, the GAMA Trade Show in Vegas. It was detailed enough for nostalgia, but even with their lighter schedules, they were also exhausted by the show’s end. Unfortunately, their interviews were focused on designers, publishers, and distributors, so I didn’t hear much about our peers. And it sounds like the big presentation this year, on Kickstarter, was hopelessly one-sided instead of a decent debate. As they commented at the end, it’s unlikely that retailers’ fears were quelled.

300: The culmination of several weeks of lead up, the Coup was fun for the first few spots, and amusing for a few more. I had just about given up on the whole episode and was going to skip the whole week when they finally broke character and ended the bit. [I very much understand how once the contributors started pouring in spots, it became difficult not to feature their hard work. I’m glad they had the restraint not to give the whole episode over to their “April Fools Coup”.

I liked the rundown of Worker Placement games; it’s a category that’s more distinct than I had originally thought. I haven’t waded deeply into these waters, though Lords of Waterdeep did get held up as a great intro to the genre. Agricola is fun in the light two player variant that Jennifer and I have been tackling, and Keyflower also features a lot of worker placement elements.

Recent Video Games: I’ve been enjoying Starcraft [Wings of Liberty]; it’s taken up a couple of evenings a week for the last few weeks. I like the update; it feels like a faithful continuation. The single player campaign is a good storyline, and I like the illusion of choice that the branching structure provides. I just completed my first mission on Char… whew!

Recent Media 4/7

Book: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
A great experience; I picked it up Friday night and read through it from an early bedtime straight through to completion. It’s been a very long time since I got a chance to just read that way…

The book is fun and light. It’s quite heavy on 80s nostalgia, which is a bit over the top (to me), but it’s there with reason. Benign dictators for the win.

The Dice Tower: 295 & 296 (Live at Total Con)– Fun episodes that felt gimmicky due to the live audience. It was fun and mostly formula; nothing particularly stood out.

Roleplay DNA Ep 20: A lot on gamer ettiquette; an expansion of their earlier Social Contract episode. It paralleled my Gaming Charters and Social Contracts in Detail article in noticing that there’s a lot that goes on that may be technically social contract… but is treated differently at the table.

The rest of the episode was a good look at “dream games”–stretching and trying something new and exotic, getting out of ruts.

Ask Me Another (w/ Jad Abumrad, host of WNYC’s Radiolab)– Fun, good puzzles, no thought required after the episode’s end.

This American Life Ep 490: The Disability Show. Though provoking, this was an excellent beginning of a discussion. Hopefully the discussion will continue; Kevin Drum’s post today was an excellent continuation of the discussion. [He illustrated that the disability trend matches 15 year old projections, which makes it unlikely that ‘gaming the system’ or recalculation of qualifications is that big an explanation.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour:
Show 1017 Lesser Known (3-24-13): This week host Steven Jager speaks with President Thomas Jefferson about some of the lesser known individuals of the American Revolution.

I was already interested in Abigail Adams, and this did a great job of reminding me to follow up with more about her and Thomas Paine. It also introduced me to a female author [Wolcott?] who wrote a history of the revolution during Jeffersons’ presidencies. Google isn’t helping me find her; it would be interesting to see what the American Revolution looked like less than a generation later.

Show 1016 Up the Missouri (3-17-13): This week host David Borlaug speaks with President Jefferson about Lewis and Clark.

Less big picture; this episode was two people enjoying a discussion about topics that interest them.

Show 1015 Interview (3-10-13): This week host Steven Jager interviews Clay Jenkinson and asks about his about his career as a writer.

This was a very interesting article, about writing versus being a writer, and introduced me to a man the both appreciate as a writer: though, again, google fails me.