Archive for January, 2010

Snow and drums

January 19, 2010

Two months…. dang. You’re such a slacker, Ryan.

Okay, so I’ve been up to stuff. Bullet list!

  • I’ve found a cure for two mutual interests/compulsions: music, and drumming on stuff. That cure is Rock Band. I’ve picked up a knack for it, and can drum away for hours without noticeable fatigue. Maybe I really was a drummer in some past life (instead of the flute player I was in this one). But that blasted foot pedal will be the death of me, and maybe did in that former drummer version of me, who knows. I largely prefer Beatles Rock Band to classic Rock Band, largely on my knowledge of Beatles music. I know about half the Beatles tunes in the game’s library, whereas I sport only a 5% overlap with the Rock Band repertoire. Yes, I know I’m geeky for calculating this, but I think the world could use a few more geeky drummers. Now, bring on the Big Band installment of this franchise, so I can embrace my inner Gene Krupa. (Thanks, Ben, for introducing me to virtual drumming!)
  • Got a few surprising gifts for the holidays this year. One is the Addometer, a simple automatic adding and subtracting machine. I’ve already used it for keeping score in games, and it is now my weapon of choice while balancing my checkbook. Why? Because it has fewer stuck keys than my TI-36, that’s why. Now I want a few more adding machines for the Game Table of My Dreams. This builds on a mechanical computer bent that I’ve been on since reading about Babbage’s Difference Engine. Keen-eyed Ryanarium regulars will remember The Curta’s recent day in the Nifty Wikipedia Thing spotlight.
  • The other gift of Annus 2009 was a boardgame that had eluded detection on my radar, World Without End. Based on a Ken Follett novel I’ve never read, the players build up the town of Kingsbridge in 14th Century England, gathering resources, building structures, and treating the plague. I hesitated to break the shrinkwrap, lest I desire to return it. But as I read more reviews and opinions of the game, the more I was tempted to give it a go. World Without End may look like a hardcore Eurogame with a pasted-on medieval setting, but that ilusion is only cover-deep. The actual game is right described by several reviewers as a chaotic, random, tactical economic game where players watch out for their own backs and still manage to collectively accomplish stuff. It reminds me more of Chrononauts than anything else. If you like games with miniscule amounts of negative emotion between players, but don’t want to burn your brain with math or long-term strategic decisions, then this is a good game for you.
  • We got the heaviest snow the DC area has seen in over a decade. If you follow me on FaceBook, you can see the photos I uploaded there. The best of the photos graces to top of this article.
  • The Twentieth Annual Time Travel Movie Night went excellently! We watched 2010: The Year We Make Contact as the opener of the evening. It’s not time travel, but made for an apt film this year for obvious reasons. I’d say the film has aged well, and even if it’s not as ambitious as 2001, it sure is more watchable. Of course, the real 2010 is so far sans Moon Base and sans Soviet Union.
  • The other film, fulfilling the requirement of one new-to-me time travel film of the year, was Peggy Sue Got Married. Not bad, but Peggy’s got to be the least ambitious time traveler depicted on film. My favorite scene was when she visited her grandparents.
  • 2009 was a heartstopping year for coin geeks! The Mint drastically cut back on production of nearly everything except dollar coins. (One in eight coins dated 2009 is a dollar.) The final Mint output was less than 3.6 billion coins, a level not seen since 1962. Nickel and dime production was indefinitely halted in April, and the final mintages are the lowest since 1955. The last time the Mint halted a product line was back in 1931-1933. I only found a third of the 2009 coin types within the year, and only a handful of 2009 coins at all! Never before in my life have current-year coins been so scarce or so precious to find.
  • I made some excellent design progress on my co-op boardgame of waiting tables, Check Please. I also think I’m done with design development of The DC Metro Game (which could use a better title, by the way). I plan to release both games online as print-n-plays by the end of the year.

Nifty Wikipedia Thing: Welcome to "The Tens".

Movies I’ve Seen:

The Fearless Hyena (aka Revenge of the Dragon) (1979) ~ kung-fu comedy with a young Jackie Chan, the ghost of Charlie Chaplin, and apparantly directed by Chuck Jones.

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) ~ future children require unfaithful ex-husband

Heathers (1989) ~ Fr me, bomb threats ruined high school. Not funny, guys.

RKO 281 (1999) ~ Schreiber mimics inimitable Orson Welles

Click (2006) ~ Sandler attempts Capra’s Wonderful Life

My Name is Bruce (2007) ~ Campbell lampoons his own career

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) ~ awkward humor meets action parody

What I’m Reading:

"The Crying of Lot 49" by Thomas Pynchon

"Dave Barry’s Bad Habits" by Dave Barry

"Otis: Giving Rise to the Modern City" by Jason Goodwin