Late August Notes

Hey folks!  I offer here an overview of some of the cool media I’ve been reading/watching/playing/eating (you can’t eat media, but I need to give a shout-out to some great August food) this month.

I’ll be honest,  it’s been really busy at work and things aren’t going to let up until later this fall.  I’ll write more when I can match up brain cells to blocks of time.  Till then….

COOL TUNES
Snarky Puppies have changed my life. Seriously. If you like music at all you owe it to yourself to watch this and revel in the fusion of jazz and horns and awesomeness. Just hit play and enjoy the background tunes for the rest of the post…. don’t turn it off before you hear 1) the fun guitar tune and 2) the awesome keyboard riffs.

Dose horns, doe!

KICKSTARTER FINDS
I find Kickstarter to be pretty amazing. Yes, you can get taken for a ride if developers suck. But that’s not happened to me (yet) and I’ve really enjoyed everything I chose to support on the kickstarted platform, from an indestructible wallet to hold all my random loyalty cards to games to music projects and even a few friends’ projects. (Like David Benedict’s outstanding album.)

At the moment, I’m most excited about a pinhole camera kit that you assemble yourself: VIDDY   It’s an analog way to do your Instagram. 😉 There’s still time to get on this campaign if you find this fascinating, as I do.

Also, The Printshop has opened up in Greenville, SC, offering more space for local artists and printmakers to do their thing. Cool.

And emberlight – a quick way to connect normal lightbulbs to your phone for easily dimmable lighting. Also still open for backers.

ENTERTAINING GAMES (IRL)
Jesse has arrived and brought his massive collection of board games with him. How massive? Massive. The pile currently threatens to overwhelm the small corner of our library where I thought we could shelve them.

Since last week, I’ve been introduced to half a dozen board & card games I’d never even heard of, with several dozen more to go.  We could host our own board games tournament here at the house.  Maybe that should be a fall party…..

I have enough material here to do a separate post reviewing the games we’ve played (and what skills they teach), so hit the post before this one to see my reviews of

Compounded
Mars Needs Mechanics
Arctic Scavengers
Space Realms
Sushi Go!
Archipelago

ENTERTAINING GAMES (VIDEO)
Finished playing the classic game Shadowrun (in the re-issued version from Steam, called Shadowrun Returns).  Good cyberpunk atmosphere & storyline, interesting story.  Built on the essential D&D game mechanic of turn-based combat (really, this is very close to Baldur’s Gate or other D&D style games).

Also enjoying Sanctum 2, which combines tower-defense play with FPS aspects.  You play as one of 5 classes (i.e.: different kinds of guns, different styles of play) and lay down gun towers or barricades on each of the game’s levels.  Wave after wave of enemies attack, but instead of just sitting back and watching helplessly, you get down in  the trenches with each wave to beat back the alien hordes. It’s a nice blend.

FUNNY THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN ABOUT SOONER
How did I live this long before discovering the online video series Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? (HAWP)  It’s random and intelligent (sometimes).

Language warning.
Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? MINECRAFT

AMAZING FOOD
I’ve told everyone I can find to make this carnitas recipe. Seriously. Will. Change. Your. Life.

Buns In My Oven: Authentic Texas Carnitas

I'm only sorry that the Internet can't provide a sense of smell along with this tantalizing photo of my carnitas.
I’m only sorry that the Internet can’t provide a sense of smell along with this tantalizing photo of my carnitas. Just add corn tortillas, a little sour cream, some shredded crunchy cabbage, and cheese.  Eat. Repeat.  Stop before you get sick.


INTERESTING STAGE PERFORMANCE

Last evening, we had the privilege of seeing The Restoration’s local-color album Constance brought to life via a stage performance of the album at the Trustus Theatre in Columbia.

Constance is one of my favorite albums musically. Its story is quite dark, offering a brutally honest look at the racist history of Lexington, South Carolina.  I’ve written about it before – here and here.

Check out the band’s videos & album coverage to hear samples, or read the story.

Translating a musical album to a stage production takes knack. I liked seeing the story more fully explained, but the musician part of me struggled to let go of how much I loved the album release show, where Daniel Machado (the band’s lead singer) voiced each of the characters through the words of the songs.  There’s a subtlety to that storytelling that I liked…. but I’m glad they’re pursuing a stage version of Constance, and glad to have seen this first step.

READING ANYTHING GOOD?
I am working my way through a book about using science fiction as a teaching tool. It’s a collection of essays, so the writing quality is uneven (to be expected), but the book sparks a lot of good ideas about how to evaluate sci-fi from literary perspectives, and how sci-fi can be used to generate cross-displinary integration between science and other fields (or literature and science).

Practicing Science Fiction

~~~~~~~

I’ll try to swing by the blog and write as I have time over the coming weeks.  My creative juices are being absorbed by work much of the time – developing a museum exhibit, planning a major event, designing stuff, managing projects.  It’s all good but it drains my tank by the time I get home, and all I want to do is read or veg or play a game or watch something.

Leave me a comment if you’d like — I’d love to know what you’re reading / watching / playing / doing / eating. 

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