October 2012 Archives


I watched the trailer for Bioshock Infinite and was not moved.  I realize that's not the approved narrative.  I'm supposed to fall over myself, spittle running down my chin as I high-five my gamer bros and scream about how awesome it looks.  And while I have little doubt that the world-building on display will be exquisite, evoking a time and place that never existed but certainly seems like it must have, the gameplay it's in service of looks like the same thing I've played twice now.  Or really far more times than that, if we set our sights beyond the franchise walls.  Perhaps most disturbing to me is that the human faces of Columbia share the same artificial wrongness as the citizens of Rapture.  In the five years since the first installment, the creators' artistic expression appears to have remained trapped in amber.  Perhaps zipline combat will be the shiznit.  Even though Columbia is a brand new place, right now I just feel like I've been there before.

Fool Me Twice

When I was in college, if you went to the desktop of just about any student's Mac, you'd be almost guaranteed to find two games there: Dark Castle ("Whoa... whoa... whoa... bibblebibblebibble!") and The Fool's Errand.  If the latter wasn't the first collection of classic visual and word puzzles for a home computer, it was certainly the most ambitious and delightful.  Everyone was playing it.  I didn't have a Mac myself, so I only dabbled here and there.  But years later I played it through on the PC using a Mac emulator.

It's been 25 years since The Fool's Errand, and creator Cliff Johnson has been promising a sequel for much of that time.  He's announced, and then missed, ship date after ship date over the past few years.  It seemed like A Fool and His Money wasn't just the title of the sequel, but an accurate description of everyone who had preordered the game.  Now it seems like it's finally happening.  Johnson is promising the game for next Friday, October 26.  And despite all the missed dates and a throwback $40 price tag that feels extravagant in the modern age of $0.99 apps and $9.99 indie titles on Steam, I finally plunked down my money.

Let's hope this isn't another false alarm.
The New York Times Magazine published a great profile of Cook's Illustrated publisher Christopher Kimball this weekend.  I'd read similar pieces in the past, and it always amazes me to see just how successful C.I. and the other tentacles of Kimball's empire are, with over $50 million in annual revenue and over a million subscribers to the flagship magazine, 75% of whom renew each year.

My Geeky Pony

Not a new link, but it made the rounds at work lately and is worth sharing.  Some really terrific artistically-modified My Little Pony figures for geeks.  

Lost Boy

We lost the Doodle yesterday.  So.  That was new.

He likes to push things.  His changing station, shopping carts, his stroller-- pretty much anything he sees us pushing.  He loves going to Trader Joe's because he gets to push one of their mini-carts, which is sized perfectly for him.  When we're at other places like Costco, he pushes the cart while I steer and make sure he doesn't rack up a giant bill in shattered LCD screens and personal injury lawsuits.

The Issaquah Salmon Days festival is enormous and packed with awesome, especially for kids.  There's a big area full of free stuff for kids to do-- a train ride, pony rides, dog show, lots of arts and crafts, inflatable slides and bouncy houses, etc-- the best kids' area I've seen at any local event.  We made the cardinal error of going directly to the festival from our morning errands, skipping the Doodle's nap.  That's roughly equivalent to cashing in our savings and betting it all on a hard six.  Bad idea.  It wasn't long before our adorable baby Jekyll turned into toddler Hyde.  Once the Doodle rams into that cranky iceberg, the ship's going down no matter how fast we try to bail water.

As we strolled through the kid's area, he got cranky and wanted to get out of the stroller and push.  Okay, we thought, that's an easy fix.  Out he came, and he was walking right in front of me, "pushing" the stroller while I steered.  At that distance he was out of my direct sight unless I looked down, but he was right in front of me and if he stopped I was moving slowly enough that I wouldn't trample him.  So we walked for a bit, looking at all the craft booths and vendors and attractions.  We got to the end of a row and stopped to decide which way to go.  We decided to go left, and then I looked down and the Doodle was gone.  "Where's the Doodle?" I asked, looking around.  My wife didn't see him either.  He was gone.  He was walking between my legs and the stroller a minute ago, and now he was just... gone.

My wife immediately went into the headspace of "He's been taken."  I'm not sure there was a rational thought process-- adrenaline and hormones and fear kicked in and sent her emotions into overdrive.  She didn't know where her boy was, and that sudden loss pressed in on her from all sides.  In that moment she couldn't even remember what the Doodle was wearing.  Loss.  Fear.  Find my child!

I went somewhere different.  I knew he had just wandered off.  He had been right in front of me a minute before.  Logically he couldn't have gotten very far, and it was just a matter of figuring out what could have drawn him away.  I didn't see him in any of the nearby booths, and if he was in one of them he'd be found quickly enough.  So I looked farther afield.  I didn't see him by the playground in a quick scan, and I didn't think he had enough time to actually get to any of the play structures there.  So not that way, then.  There was a big field back the way we had come, so I turned that way, thinking maybe he went to look at the ponies.  Nope.  Where else?

And that's when I saw him, eagerly running oward the zorbs, chasing after them as they rolled downfield.  I caught up to him as he stood in their path, oblivious to their weight and momentum.  All he saw were giant balls that he wanted to play with.  As I snatched him up into my arms, he wriggled and cried that he wanted to roll the balls.  I couldn't blame him.  Zorbs are cool.

By the time I brought him back to my wife, a sympathetic woman had seen her distress and dragooned the Issaquah football team into searching  for our son.  I didn't have the chance to thank her, or the team, for rallying on our behalf.  Later that night, my wife was still a little shellshocked and haunted by visions of becoming a shell of a woman, never getting over the loss of her child.

I hope never to go through an experience like that again, but given the Doodle's strong-willed and inquisitive nature I rather expect this is just the first scare of many.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was gratified by how I reacted, keeping my cool and attacking the problem swiftly and methodically, while my heart machine-gunned in my chest.  I feel like I've been tested, that life has taken my measure and did not find me wanting.

Level up!  You are now a level 2 dad.  Next time, keep your damn eye on the kid.
Comments (6) | last by Phil, Oct 8, 4:54 PM

Free Cards in Magic 2013

I am playing the hell out of Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Plainswalkers 2013 on the iPad.  It's been years since I've played the physical game.  I don't really play 2-player games anymore, and I'm not particularly interested in constructing a deck.  So all of my alphas, betas, and limiteds are just gathering dust in a box.  Probably should think about selling them.

Magic DOTP 2013 gives the fun of Magic gameplay without any of the setup, cleanup, or headaches.  You can play online, but I never have-- I'm still unlocking all of the cards for all of the decks in campaign mode.  It's been fun to see how different each deck feels, and how some opponents get easier or harder depending on what deck you're playing.

The game provides tremendous value for your ten bucks.  And if you go into the in-game store, you can unlock even more by plugging in these codes.  Each unlocks ten additional rare cards for one of the game's decks, and some cards are not otherwise available.  Enjoy!


Gun Control

Here's my problem with J.J. Abrams' new series, Revolution.  The U.S. government can't round up all the illegal firearms in the country today, with all the resources at their disposal.  But 15 years after all the power dies, not only has the militia seemingly managed to eliminate all guns they don't control, but apparently a rifle is the strongest firepower they can muster.  Everyone's swinging swords, a few people have hand guns, and nobody's walking around with an arsenal of semiautomatic weapons.

If you want to do a western set in a more modern milieu, I'm down with that.  Bring back Firefly.  

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