What Wednesday #3

Today I play some arcade games, watch the best political show around, and listen to a surprise from Blood Orange.

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What Wednesday is where I talk about what I’m watching, reading, playing, listening to, etc. Today I play some arcade games, watch the best political show around, and listen to a surprise from Blood Orange.

What I’m Playing: Classic arcade games at Abari, a recently opened video game bar (aka, heaven) down the road from us in Optimist Park.  Katie and I went there with a few friends on Saturday night and confirmed it’s as awesome as I had hoped. NBA Jam. X-Men. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All the basics for a balanced arcade diet are there, plus pinball, if you’re into that (weirdo). They even have a relatively new arcade game called Killer Queen. (Someone somewhere still makes new arcade games–who knew?!) It’s an intense ten player cooperative game spread out over 2 huge HDTVs. And when I say intense, I mean it; I got shushed by a teammate for talking about something besides game strategy. Sorry lady!

One of the coolest attractions there isn’t even an arcade game. In one corner, you’ll find a period accurate recreation of a 80s-90s living room, complete with Atari and Nintendo Consoles. We played a particularly spirited 4 player game of Mario Kart 64, which had me marveling at our ability to still enjoy games that are literally painful to look at. How the N64 didn’t blind an entire generation of kids is astounding.

What I’m Watching: Veep Season 5 Finale Filled with hilariously vulgar narcissists that spout of occasionally scathing political commentary, Veep has always been a favorite. I’ve always thought that the show’s conceited idiots more closely matched the reality of politics than the cold, brilliant superhumans on House of Cards. And while it’s always been great, this season absolutely crushed it. Smart, outrageously funny, and surprisingly unpredictable, Veep just finished one of the strongest comedic seasons in recent memory. With GOT also coming off its best season so far, HBO is killing it (though Silicon Valley had a bit of an off year). Highly recommended, if you can stand potty mouths and heavy cynicism. Bonus: The Big Short If you can keep Katie interested for 2 hours of financial and economic intricacies, you did something right.

What I’m Listening To: I was going to talk about The Sideshow from DJ Shadow, a solid throwback DJ “scratch track” (as in physically scratching the beats, Pro Tools loops not needed), but then Blood Orange went ahead and dropped his album early. One of the first artists on the 80s revival train, Dev Hynes is a British songwriter with a talent for interesting sounds and provocation. Upon first listen, it’s pretty good, but time will tell if it passes his second Blood Orange album, Cupid Deluxe, which has long been a favorite of mine. With guest appearances by FKA twigs, Debbie Harry, Carly Rae Jepsen, De La Soul, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, to name a few, it definitely has potential. It’s already getting rave reviews.

What Wednesday #2

Today I play some cards, jam quietly, and journey to the Twilight Zone.

What Wednesday is where I talk about what I’m watching, reading, playing, listening to, etc. Today I play some cards, jam out quietly, and journey to the Twilight Zone.

What I’m Watching: The Twilight Zone I realize I’m 50+ years late to this, but good gracious this show is incredible. It’s kind of unbelievable how well it has aged over half a century. The parts that do feel dated are generally because they’ve been copied so many times, like surprising twist endings (looking at you Mr. Shyamalan), that the original seems antiquated. A lot of the episodes wouldn’t feel out of place on HBO today. Watch almost any show from the 70s to see how difficult that can be. I mean, this thing was made ten years before we landed on the moon.

Unfortunately, a show like this just wouldn’t work today. With today’s TV putting a huge emphasis on serialization (where each episode builds on the one before it, like Game of Thrones), shows with totally different plots and characters every episode just won’t fly now. Which is a shame; I love that each episode feels like a self-contained mini-movie. It enabled them to take a lot more risks, because if one episode didn’t work, oh well, no harm done. On to the next one. Some of my favorites from the early episodes: “The Lonely” deals with artificial intelligence and our complicated relationship to it, 15 years before the personal computer was invented; “Third from the Sun” has a wonderful twist ending; “And When the Sky Was Opened” presents the terror of having your existence wiped from memory; and “Time Enough at Last” has one of the most famous and referenced endings in TV history. Spoilers, but it’s amazing.

What I’m Playing: Hearthstone To continue the theme of me coming late to things, I’ve recently gotten addicted to this 2 year old card battle game. It’s based on the Warcraft series, which I’ve never played, emulates Magic: The Gathering, which I’ve also never played, and revolves around an ultra competitive multiplayer mode, which I usually hate…but I can’t put it down. It ramps up the difficulty at a nice pace and never feels as overwhelmingly complex as Magic. The card collection aspect also taps into my completionist-OCD personality and is easily accessible for a quick game on my iPad or phone–which means I’m probably going to be playing this one for a long time.

What I’m Listening To: Palmistry, “Club Aso” Club music for the library, this isn’t for everyone. But as a sometimes fan of Drake and Rhianna, and an always fan of chill music, I can dig it.

What Wednesday #1

What Wednesday is where I talk about what I’m watching, reading, playing, listening to, etc. It’s the absolute least I can do and still consider it writing (barely).

What I’m Watching: The Americans Season 4 Finale I’m just going to go ahead and assume you’re not watching the Best Show On TV (sorry Game of Thrones). What’s wrong with you?! Cold War spies. The early 80s. Incredible performances. Deep moral quandaries. David Copperfield. It’s Mad Men does James Bond. And like Mad Men, some call it slow. I call those people idiots. It’s the most mature, complex, difficult drama I’ve ever seen (sorry The Wire).

What I’m Reading: A Dance With Dragons Speaking of Game of Thrones, I’m slowly (very slowly) working through the “newest” (it’s 5 years old!) Game of Thrones book. The later books in Game of Thrones can be a slog. I’ve thought for a while the TV show has become better than the books. Watching the current season while trying to get through this book seals it.

What I’m Hearing: Beck, “Wow” (don’t say wow, don’t say wow) Wow! (ugh) Beck filtering modern hip hop sounds through his own weird lens, much like he built his career on with Odelay (1996). His sound changes in concentric waves, from Odelay to “Wow”, Sea Change to Morning Phase, alternating between styles, never doing the same thing back-to-back. Love it.