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23Feb2017 2030: Dabble Rouser

I got sidetracked from my Wednesday post schedule due to the hot fire of the latest Agents of SHIELD. The script, the acting, the twists, every little thing down to the lighting and camerawork was A++ this week. It burned through three episodes' worth of plot material and has to pause until April to catch its breath, so take some time to binge your way up to present and join us in celebration. I can't tell if Marvel ignores it on purpose or if that's the narrative they've seeded to drum up more interest; fifteen years later it may be possible to construct a Firefly in the marketing lab. Marvel needs to give these people twice the budget for TV and maybe bring some cameos into the movies. Honor the work being done on this small screen. I couldn't think of anything else afterwards, I just rocked back and forth and squealed softly to myself.

But the important news this week is: I dabble. I'm an inveterate dilettante, giving a B- effort to all the hobbies I indulge in. I've had a hand in video games, anime music videos, web comics, anything that catches my eye. So it shouldn't surprise anybody that I'm attempting to make a board game. I mean, I also have done that before, but they were terrible and I was ten in summer school. I'm fascinated with games that make use of both the content and positioning of cards, so I decided to create my favorite entry in the genre. The first test last week went okay! Nobody's going to tell the host his game sucks to his face, but I detected few awkward silences. There was agonizing over decisions! Intrigue! Calculation! Problems with color-blindness! So now I'll probably drop it for a year and take up scuba.

Nah. As soon as I can figure out how to slap this on Tabletop Simulator I'll post again and we can all bash at it.

15Feb2017 1930: X Without X

Notwithstanding my well-known stance on instrumentals, pop this on in the background before reading this post or for the rest of your evening or the next four years or whatevs. Set the mood and make a conscious effort to be calm.

But a neverending YouTube channel isn't the only media I discovered this week. No, I also caught the premiere for Legion and hoo boy that was something special. They took the not-quite-X-Men license, a Marvel-adjacent property, and decided to remake The Prisoner. It has a cinematic flair and a sense of style that cannot possibly be maintained in a weekly series; but we will always have this moment, this hour-long short film about mental illness in a land of superpowers. That's a topic near and dear to me.

Sunday has been working well as Netflix Binge Day, and this week I blasted through The OA. Is it a spoiler to say this show was also on theme for this post? If you know anything about Brit Marling, Critical Darling and her writing career, you can predict exactly what this show is about. It's an eight-episode shaggy dog story about storytelling or hope or magic before going completely off the rails in the last ten minutes. It gives you over seven hours of character study and ominous portents and then turns into a Tim and Eric sketch. I enjoyed the journey and I especially enjoyed the mix of revulsion and elation at the end but I will never recommend somebody make that journey after me. And like a shaggy dog story, looking up the ending online won't land with the same intensity without marinating in the show preceding it. The OA is now my favorite Aristocrats joke. Do not watch this show. This show is amazing.

08Feb2017 1830: Battery

We're all knee-deep in the New American Misery. I'm going to hold back from making this blog a journal of each affront from the Republicans. For one, I only update weekly; for two, you can find such things on Twitter or Facebook or by going to every reputable news source simultaneously. No, this page will soldier on in the way we are all accustomed. Here is my place to talk about video games and movies and frivolous shit, like the fact I spent Monday tearing down and rebuilding my table.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was Synthetica Solitairica. You can feel the mobile math pulsing behind this game. The developers plotted out a couple equations: one for how much things are improved by adding magic and villains, like Bejeweled or ponies; and one for much better solitaire is when it's wrapped in the barest of plots, like Regency Solitaire. The intersection of those two lines is Solitairica. Each of the four suits powers one type of magic. Your deck naturally only has two suits, so the Warrior deck is good at attacking and defending but is not so good at agility. This translates into spells that knock off extra cards, reshuffle all the piles, or heal damage done by the monster. The monsters! The monsters cause cards to become thorny or impervious to spells, deal out new cards to "heal" themselves, or turn cards into bombs (that instantly become 3s and tick down). It is genius, it is fun, and is yet another victory for Magic and Villains.

In fact the only thing I can say against it is that it performs unspeakable acts upon your phone's battery. This is a card game -- a one-player turn-based card game -- that is for some reason built upon the incredibly robust Unreal Engine. I'm not saying it needs to look like a Commodore 64 game. I'm just saying you can look at the image below and know precisely when I was playing Solitairica:

02Feb2017 2100: Veneer

Day late, and with no music to show for it. I spent my Wednesday gingerly lifting a fragile pile of sawdust wrapped in veneer:

It's only a little wobbly! Only a couple degrees away from level! Pretty good for a first try. I get the impression that this Steel-Tek stuff is only good with a solid four legs. Legs alllll the way to the ground. My center-spine design was drawn up for actual threaded pipes until a friend recommended the easier Allen wrench fittings. And I think...I think there's some sort of Escherian knot in trying to do that bottom part with threaded pipes. Like, if I screw in the legs first how do I get the other bits to line up properly and still tighten everything up? Half the joints would be half unscrewed.