After many years of non-use, a post. I done wroted a book, y’all.

How about “The Sun Goes West” by The Faraway Places?

(The video below is apparently someone’s visualizer and at least three songs. Weird.)

Brian Wilson was famously credited with saying he was trying to craft “teenage symphonies to God” with his more ambitious recordings with the Beach Boys. It’s a mix of the epic and the simple— “I’m picking up good vibrations,” or “God only knows what I’d be without you”—matched to complex music layered like a classical symphony.

Which leads me to one of my favorite recordings of the year (so far) is A.C. “aka Carl from the New Pornographers” Newman’s “Get Guilty.” Like most pop tunesmiths, Newman is frequently compared to Wilson, though he doesn’t seem to be quite as crippled by his melodic gifts. (A lot of these pop guys seem to go nuts trying to replicate that perfect hook that only they can hear and that’s always bouncing around their brains.)

Watchmen is a curious beast, a big budget move that’s either the talkiest, most action-free action movie ever or the most absurdly pumped-up character-based drama ever. If you’re a firm believer in “adaptations must look exactly like their source,” it should be a revelation; if you’re of the mind they should reflect the concepts and ideas as much (or more) as the literal look, it might leave you a wee-bit wanting.

[Many spoilers after the break.] (more…)

Oh Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, why do you make me hate you when I really want to love you.

Maybe hate it too strong. But your hacking minigame… why do you penalize me for success?

See, here’s the thing. You tell me all the time how much you love me to get those chains, those wonderful times when you match up multiple colors in multiple directions… tiles slide around, novas go off… it’s all so wonderful and exciting and a key to winning any combat encounter.

But when hacking, it’s a bad thing. See, I have no problem with you timing me while hacking. It adds a bit of extra thrill, a little spice. But you keep the timer going while those chains are going off, which penalizes me for actually being good. And if you need to get, say, a purple match and the next is blue, you toss out the blue one if it happens simultaneously with the purple one.

Lord knows I can’t quit you. But that little bit of impatience, that inability to occasionally stop time for me… you’re really starting to piss me off.

Oh Neko, you crazy, crazy awesome chick

Great CD cover, or greatest CD cover?

Oh Neko, why did you move to Vermont after I left? And didn’t you once live in Seattle? I’m starting to think you’re avoiding me.

Ooh, pretty

I’ve been using my PS3 a lot lately, and not just as a very nice DVD player.

Like everyone else, I like Flower quite a bit. I suppose I should wax poetically about its agency, or its silent narrative, or whatever pseudo-academic buzzwords people are trying to impose on “the way we talk about games” so we can all feel smarter about our favorite button-mashing wish-fulfillment fantasies. Instead, I’ll just say it’s a game that fills me with much joy.

And that’s largely due to the sense of flight. Playing it, I was instantly reminded of how enjoyable the pure act of flying around pretty environments is, and how that’s been lost over the years as we all became bald space marines fighting for humanity and legal steroids on terra brown. Flight simulators became so complex that the mere act of taking off was a chore; getting to a point where you could just enjoy the virtual sensation of swooping around was nearly impossible.

I was also reminded of how many hardcore gamers missed out on Myst, because it was much cooler to hate it than to play it. Flower is a lot like Myst, at least in terms of presenting a sadly beautiful world with machinery. It has puzzles, in the sense of “Do X to trigger Y, then advance.”

And of course the final level of mind-blowingly wonderful, and a perfect example of something I really dig about games: visibly changing the world through your actions. Fable II has this, on a slightly smaller level, and so does Flower. (Da Blob is an even better example; I’ve not played the Wii version, but I played the student demo a lot on the PC.)

So I guess Flower is Myst meets Flight Unlimited, only with extra hot plant-on-plant action. The only negative: I wish it didn’t have a score, or at least it was used more sparingly and just gave you the sounds of the wind and the grass. Instead, the entire game sounds like a Yoga video. Maybe John Tesh can score the sequel.

Now Noby Noby Boy, or is it Nobi Nobi Boy? I have no clue what the fuck that is. I played it for a couple of hours, at least I think I played it. I walked around, pooped out a few sheep, grew to impossibly large sizes, ate my own ass, and made some futile attempt to read menus that were scrolling off the top of the screen.

He's had a very bad year

Music, movies, TV, whatever. It’s all pop culture to me. If I throw everything from 2008 into a pot, it seems like various TV shows keep bubbling to the top.

“The Wire” wrapped up its final season, and while I never watched the show while it was in its run, I plowed through the entire series in a one month run and yeah, it’s probably the best show ever made… even if its final season was perhaps its weakest. (Give me season 2 for drama and plotting and 4 for the devastating inevitability of failure for all of the kids trying to make it on the street.)

“Mad Men” is the most unique show on TV, and continues to dazzle.

For comedy, you have “30 Rock” and “The Office” being the two funniest shows on TV.

But the very best thing of 2008, regardless of media? That was easy. It was 90 minutes of pure awesome.

It's so Fabley

There were plenty of terrific games in 2008, and since I no longer get them for free, I was only able to sample a tiny sliver of them. Bah.

But first, some notes: I didn’t play that many shooters this year. For some inexplicable reason, I picked up “Quantum of Solace” (yikes), but never bothered with “Call of Duty: World at War.”

For the most part, I’ve stopped playing MMOs. “Age of Conan” was a dud for the month I bashed my way through it. I bought “Warhammer,” plus a three-month pass, but haven’t even opened the box (if anyone wants to buy it, let me know), and I totally skipped “Wrath of the Lich King.”

Finally, there were some other games that fell into the “close, but no cigar” category: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution (360); Age of Booty (360); Tomb Raider: Underworld (PC); and Lego Indiana Jones (360)

So, without further ado:

Yeah, this one is obvious

There were a normal number of good movies released in 2008, but very few great ones. In fact, I’d only argue for my number one pick being a movie I’ll keep revisiting in future years.

OK, more ground rules: I didn’t see (yet, if ever): Milk; Synecdoche, New York; Rachel Getting Married, and god knows what others I might have liked.

So, here’s the list:

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