What Wednesday #5

Today I catch all the haters, watch a farting Harry Potter, and listen to an 18 minute punk song on my sweet new record player.

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What Wednesday is where I talk about what I’m watching, reading, playing, listening to, etc. Today I catch all the haters, watch a farting Harry Potter, and listen to an 18 minute punk song on my sweet new record player.

What I’m Playing: Pokémon Go To continue last week’s theme of adults enjoying things made for kids, let’s talk about the fun new game everyone’s playing, Pokémon Go! Well, I haven’t played it (yet–though I will eventually because I am an alive human), but I just wanted to hop up on my soapbox for a second. *Ahem* Newton’s Third Law of Popular Things: anything that gets lots of love will also create an equal and opposite amount of hate. Selfie sticks. The ice bucket challenge. Dabbing. All were eventually deemed by Serious People as “no fun at all” and “I don’t get it” and “back in my day we hated everything but McCarthyism.” And now, after less than a week, it’s starting to happen with Pokémon Go. From it being disrespectful, to totally pointless, to serious societal danger. Listen, if it’s a problem that too many kids are walking around outside, in (mostly) public locations, the problem lies with society itself, not the game. You know the saying: don’t hate the game, hate the lack of trust between members of a community that contributes to the continued decay of safety for everyone. Or something.

Now that we’re talking about it, I seem to remember another popular video game from when I was growing up in the 90s that had the social ills of that time put upon it…Mortaaal Kommmbbat!! This isn’t even the first time Nintendo‘s crazy popularity has collectively freaked out the nation: they rustled so many jimmies back in the days of the Super Nintendo, parents started therapy groups to combat Nintendo-mania!

What I’m Watching: Swiss Army Man My friend James asked me to go see this strange movie last week, and what a wonderful man date movie it was! I hardly knew anything about it–other than it starred Daniel Radcliffe and the greatest actor of my generation,  Paul Danoand since it’s even harder to describe after seeing it, you should just go in blind and experience it for yourself. I’ll only say that it’s like Castaway, if Wilson was a dead Harry Potter who farts. A lot. James says it’s “like Castaway meets Weekend at Bernie’s meets K-Pax.” How can you not want to see that?!

What I’m Listening To: NOFX, “The Decline” Helped a friend move, friend lends me an 18 minute punk rock song exploring American politics and the country’s decline. I’ll take that trade. NOFX is a legendary punk band from the 80s and 90s, and this song is a beast of a thing: prog rock through a punk rock filter, with lyrics that alternate between profound and absurd. I always appreciate exploring new parts of music history that I missed out on. But really, it just gave me an excuse to put my new record player through its paces. Its lovely, lovely paces.

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What Wednesday #3

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

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.