Another Open Thread


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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101 Responses

  1. Avatar RTod says:

    Barelywine Party! Could we have a rule where everyone drinks barleywine every time someone on cable tv compares something to Hitler?Report

  2. Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

    I’ve been pretty slacking on video games but tabletop miniatures I have been on fire with.

    I am currently in the process of buying/painting/assembling miniatures for the following games: Malifaux, MERCS, Dystopian Wars, and Warmachine.

    Malifaux is set in a steampunk alternative reality with a wild west/victorian feel. It is a skirmish game that uses a deck of cards instead of dice to resolve attacks etc.

    Mercs is a new skirmish game set in the near (160ish years) in the future well all governments have merged with mega conglomerations. Each side gets a squad of five soldiers and must use tactics, maneuvering, and rolling high on d10’s.

    Dystopian wars is a naval/air/land combat game set in a steampunk 1870. I am so close to getting my fleet painted that I can taste it.

    Warmachine is a game that uses magic/steampower robots in warfare. The robots can bodyslam and throw other miniatures.

    That is what I am doing with my free time.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

      Have you explored Descent? (Silly question?)Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

        No but my store has it on the shelves.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

          We played Descent (coupled with “Road to Legend”) in my gaming group for a year.

          We *ADORED* it. We’ll probably never play it again but it is one helluva game for a group of 4 or, preferably, 5.

          Additionally, you can (and probably will) use the tabletop map pieces (they join together like a puzzle) they give you for, among other things, 4th edition.

          It’s a seriously *AWESOME* game.

          However, it’s probably closer to “entry level gaming” than not.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

      I’ve been playing Warmachine for about a year now (Cygnar). It’s a really interesting game, you can never tell how it’s going to end until it does.

      I’m just painting up a little Malifaux at the moment. I haven’t played it mcuh yet, but it looks really interesting.Report

  3. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    Re-reading Dorothy Sayer’s “Busman’s Honeymoon”, as my “twenty minutes prior to bedtime, need something I’ve read before as a brain turndown”. Also reading Posner’s “A Failure of Capitalism” and Allison & Zelikow’s “Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis”.

    Video games, I’m sadly on hiatus… Civilization III: Conquest when I have time for that sort of thing, which is almost never at the moment. Also enjoying young Jack’s attempts at Lego Star Wars II with the aid of his sister (occasionally, Daddy needs to jump in on a controller to get someone over a jump).Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    (Warning: May Contain Stuff That You Consider A Spoiler)

    Generally, I hate unreliable narrators. In movies it generally gets me to think that I’ve spent the last two hours wasting my time. In novels it’s usually even worse… but there is a significant exception to this, I’ve found:


    If you get a decent horror flick (or horror novel), the unreliable narrator transforms from a gimmick to yell “GOTCHA!” into a sinking sensation of dread.

    Which brings us to video games…

    When video games want to creep you out, there’s generally two ways to do it.

    1) Dread. A knowledge that there is something awful happening and you, little you, know about it but can’t stop it. There is something wicked, vile, evil who has the command of entire universes of knowledge and experience behind it and you are just this guy… who, most likely, is going to be obliterated by this evil without it even noticing much. (The Silent Hills used to be good at this. The Fatal Frame games too.)

    2) Tinkling discordant music as you walk down a hallway with flickering lights that suddenly TURNS INTO A CRESHENDO AND BLARGH A ZOMBIE RIGHT IN YOUR FACE SHOOT IT SHOOT IT SHOOT IT.

    In my youth I preferred the former. Then I saw The Ring in the theater and that screwed me up forever and I don’t have the stomach for much more than the latter anymore.

    I need my sleep more than I used to and I can’t afford to hold the covers tight and just stare at the ceiling until 4AM.

    Which brings us to Dead Space. And Dead Space Extraction. And, yes, Dead Space 2.

    Dead Space was pretty much Resident Evil 4/5 in space. There was some creepy stuff with religion and some creepy stuff with The Corporation but the creepiest part of the game for me was the big reveal… but even that wasn’t *THAT* creepy.

    What was creepy was in Dead Space Extraction. The very first part of the game takes place when the artifact was extracted from the ground and you play the role of one of the guys who takes on the first aliens that show up… except, at the end of the chapter, it becomes clear that, no, there were no aliens. You’ve spent the chapter shooting your co-workers. Because you are crazy.

    Now *THAT* is horror contained in a little tiny bit of BLARGH A ZOMBIE SHOOT IT.

    Anyway, Dead Space 2 is out and waiting for me at home. I’ll try to get a review for y’all by this weekend.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m a big fan of the Resident Evil series, although I never got around to playing Zero or IV or anything thereafter.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

      I loved Dead Space so I’m feeling you there Jay. They did a great job with ambiance. Particularily on the ship.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

        Have you checked out Alan Wake? They do a *GREAT* job with ambiance in the forest areas.

        Maribou tried to watch me play but she said that creepy guys in the woods probably press different buttons for male gamers than female gamers. She went back to Zuma.Report

        • Avatar Anthony in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m currently playing Alan Wake. I’m about half way through. Second the recommendation (at least so far). The designers did a genuinely excellent job of evoking a sense of place, while working with an extremely limited, muted colour palette. There’s also quite a consistent sense of low level creepiness that works well. Relatively smooth (ie. forgiving…) combat controls, too.

          Downside is that it’s very linear, even by the standards of the genre. Where you’re physically able to stray off the beaten track it’s almost always not something you’re rewarded for. Doesn’t stop it being well worthwhile, though, especially now it’s available cheap.

          I’d also heartily recommend Dead Space. It’s a splendid game. Somehow couldn’t get into Resident Evil 5, though I love the rest of the series.Report

  5. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    Pretty sexist, EDK, that girls should play house instead of Mama Grizzly.

    BTW, there are few polls on it, but Quinnipiac had the Tea Parties @ 55% female. Perhaps the narrative needs a recalibration, altho angry, older and white still might fit.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I’m reading lots of stuff for my course, but recently the bedtime reading has been an account/cultural history of modern pagan groups called “Drawing Down the Moon”. It’s okay. The writer is writing both as a historian and a witch. I sort of wish she was the first more than the second. But there’s a whole lot of new information there- at least new to me.Report

  7. Avatar RTod says:

    Knee deep in three books:

    * Wolfe Hall, about Cromwell, which I’m almost finished with is fantastic.

    * Infinite Jest, which a post by Will inspired me to buy and start yesterday, so far so good.

    * At Home by Bill Bryson has been delegated to bathroom reading only status, and it can be entertaining but feels much more like a collection of unrelated interesting anecdotes than Brief History of Nearly Everything.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to RTod says:

      Brief History was great. Loved that book.

      Haven’t read the other two, but I find Cromwell pretty fascinating so I might have to check out Wolfe Hall (or at least put it on the shelf and promise to read it eventually…)

      Last book I read was Wind in the Willows; before that the Hunger Games books (and something in between but it escapes me at the moment).Report

    • Avatar Will in reply to RTod says:

      Wolf Hall was excellent. What post inspired Infinite Jest?

      As far as historical novels go, I’m finishing The Name of the Rose, which was excellent, and Burr, inspired by none other than Michelle Bachmann.Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to Will says:

        Checking to see which post, realized that it was actually Jason’s comments, not yours Will.

        I read the Name of the Rose a few months ago, and was surprised how much I liked it. Years ago I tried to get through Foucault’s Pendulum for a few weeks before deciding I was never going to start enjoying it.

        And I’m curious how Burr is, but as curious as I am about how was it inspired by MB?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to RTod says:

      I am currently reading two of the three books on your list, At Home and Infinite Jest.

      At Home is likewise bathroom reading for me. The other book in my bathroom right now is Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies. Also reading Right Ho, Jeeves! and cooking a lot from 660 Curries. Not sure if that counts.

      Also I’m playing Eve Online, as I have for almost the last two years. If anyone wants to meet in-game or get started with it, I’ll be happy to help.Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Not sure if the 660 Curries counts, but I’ve already put it on hold on-line at my library. Just finished going pretty much through Rick Bayless’s Everyday Mexican and am looking for new reasons for my wife to want to stay married to me. Can’t go wrong with cooking curries.

        Regarding and Jeeves books, I confess I’m good with just watching the Steven Fry/Hugh Laurie reruns.

        What is Etymologies?Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to RTod says:

          The Fry/Laurie Jeeves and Wooster is just brilliant beyond words. Fortunately my parents own all of them so I can borrow them and watch them any time I like.

          I’ll have to check out that curry cookbook though. I need some new ideas.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to RTod says:

          Etymologies is a compendium of human knowledge from the seventh century.

          It’s so entertainingly weird that I’ll have to post some bits of it. Even the ways Isidore talks about classical Latin grammar are radically different from ours, and I’d have thought those would stay the same.Report

          • Avatar RTod in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            “Etymologies is a compendium of human knowledge from the seventh century.”

            Not sure what I thought you might say it was about, but could have guess for a long, long time without hitting on it.Report

      • Avatar Ryan in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        You’re on EVE? I’m on EVE! Love to connect online, if you’re amenable. I hang out in Heimatar and Metropolis a lot.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to RTod says:

      Can I add one more, RTod? “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sacks. A tremendous, beautiful, beautiful book. (Yes, that’s the Sacks who wrote, “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.”)

      You will love this book. And you will quadruply love it if you love classical music. It has it all–neuroscience, musical hallucinations, even a chapter on “Musical Martyrs”, (no, they don’t pack their instruments with plastic explosives to kill Jews) , perfect pitch, complete, total, absolute love of music, especially Bach.
      Your brain will feel deeply enraptured and nourished with Dr. Sacks’ greatest passion in life–music!

      I think Michelle Bachmann is hot, hot, HOT!! Is she married? I find her irresistible, with that great Midwestern accent and her refreshingly lack of pretense. And I really love the, sucking-on-sour-lemons expressions, liberal and lefties get when she’s speaking–Schadenfreude at its best! Would it be terribly inappropriate of me to fly my ultralight trike into her yard, and on bended knee, pledge eternal love? Oh well, just kicking around the idea. Such an occasion would just cry out for Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto–The Emperor–hey, maybe that would do the trick! Then again, if she’s married, her husband might just pull out one of those heat-seeking missiles and blow me right out of the sky. Worth a try, though.Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to Heidegger says:

        “Would it be terribly inappropriate of me to fly my ultralight trike into her yard, and on bended knee, pledge eternal love?”

        Certainly not if I could watch. I’d pay good money to see that.

        And I’ve heard good things from a lot of folks about Musicophilia. I’ll put it high on the list; though with Infinite Jest on the bed stand, it might be a few weeks.Report

      • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

        And a VERY Happy, happy, happy BIRTHDAY to Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart!! Who needs faith when you have Mozart? It is as if all of heaven rains down upon Herr Mozart-there is a rainbow, an arc, every blessed, glorious note infused with God’s DNA. His genius is so total and boundless–he excelled at the very highest possible level in his operas, string quartets, trios, piano sonatas, masses, piano concertos, duets, symphonies, violin concertos and many other musical genres. Somehow, someway, Mozart was inevitable at the moment of the Big Bang. With Mozart the luminous arc was from heaven to earth—with Beethoven, from earth to the heavens. Beethoven’s unfathomable suffering and torment, his agonies and ecstasies, his inevitable withdrawal from the human race–all manifestly, transcendental represent his Heruclean sacrifice from terra firma to the heavens. The second movement of his final piano sonata, Op. 111, is one of the most masterful, sublime pieces of music ever composed. It’s beginning has a prayer-like quality, a resolution to fate, a summation, deep reverence, a mystical letting go. It is rapture and dare I say, touching the face of God. I think God needs us as much as we need Him. It’s the only possible equation that works.Report

  8. RE: Beer

    If you’ve always wanted to give brewing a try, but haven’t managed to pull it together, I can’t say enough about the Coopers Microbrew Kit. Probably way too pre-packaged for homebrewing snobs, once you amortize the equipment you’ll be brewing tasty beer for about 50 cents/bottle.

    The entire process is stupid simple. Completely impossible to screw up. We’re drinking down a batch of Real Ale. Cerveza is next up. Best $100 I’ve spent in a long time!Report

    • 50 cent beer might be enough to convince the missus…thanks!Report

      • Seriously do it. Go to Amazon. Something like 50 five star reviews (including one from me), 25 four star reviews, and nothing lower. The kit ($120)comes with everything you need to make your first batch except bleach to sanitize everything.

        The first batch (5 gallons) works out to $2/bottle for the entire investment. Kits cost about $30, which is about 50 cents/bottle. The more you make, the more your equipment investment amortizes.

        The beer is really, really good; and gets better the longer it bottle ages. (So far we can’t make it past two weeks of bottle aging.)

        The last time I felt this evangelical about something is when I got Instant Boats back in 1998, and you see how that turned out!

        Seriously. If you don’t have the cash, start putting your beer money in a jar. (That’s what we did.) You wont’ regret it!Report

  9. Playing: Call of Duty Black Ops (I’ve only been playing the single player campaign). It’s the best in the CoD franchise thus far, IMO, though early instantiations lacked quite a bit, given Microsoft’s launch of the Xbox and its flagship title Halo shortly after the first Call of Duty hit shelves for the Playstation.

    Reading: “Too Fat to Fish” by Artie Lange. I’ve really got a thing for autobiographies of junkies, and this one certainly fits the bill—there’s some self-flagellation in the book, and some public apologies, but there’s enough funny and humanity in it to keep me interested to the final cover. I should be finishing this weekend.Report

  10. Avatar SB says:

    The only barleywine I’ve had is Dogfish’s. It was a bit sweet for me. Suggestions on another?

    I’m reading “Now Playing at the Valencia,” a collection of Stephen Hunter’s film criticism. Really, really good, that there Hunter is.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The other video game worth talking about is Dance Central.

    You know how Rock Band got you to say “maybe I should get me a system” (whether or not you actually did) when you realized that the drum set actually approximated playing drums in a way *COMPLETELY UNLIKE* how the plastic guitar approximated playing a guitar (in its defense, it did help people better learn how to play air guitar).

    Well, Dance Central is the game that will make you say “maybe I should get me a system with a Kinect”.

    This game will teach you dance moves. Like, for real for real dance moves.


    I cannot yet move my arms at the same time as doing a jazz square, though. *BUT*. This game taught me how to do a jazz square.

    The songs are fun and cover a range of dance hits from Lady Gaga to Dirty Vegas to that damn “come and ride the train” song. Rump Shaker, Funkytown, and crap you’ve never even heard of.

    It will make you sweat, it will make you curse your two left feet, and it will teach you, eventually, how to do a jazz square.

    Investigate this game. You won’t believe it.Report

  12. Avatar Aaron W says:

    I’m glad I inspired you. 🙂 Now does anyone know some good barleywine brews to try out for this weekend? I’ve never had it before, so something quintessential will do the trick.

    I started reading the Gardens of the Moon a month or two ago, but it’s really hard to get into. There seems like so much potential, but so far I’ve mostly felt lost. Does it get easier later?

    In terms of videogames, I’ve been on a Metroid kick as of late. I played Other M, which I thought received a lot of unfair criticism, especially in regards to Samus somehow being portrayed in a sexist manner. However, after going back and playing the Metroid Prime Trilogy again, it does seem like a bit of a step backwards. Oh, well, I still enjoyed it, and I’m glad Nintendo decided to take a risk, because by the third Metroid Prime game it was starting to get stale.

    Anyone ever play Deadly Premonition? I heard it’s supposed to be really scary. And in a “build suspense” way, not a “have things jump out at you” way.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Aaron W says:

      Thank you for the inspiration!

      Also, Gardens is the least good of the books I’ve read so far. You just have to get through it – it does get better. Subsequent books are better still. I have burnt out on the series for the time being however.Report

  13. Avatar Trumwill says:

    Zelda: A Link to the Past! I’m old school. Rather, I’m cheap. I have some moral reservations about the game, however. Most of the town seems to live in relative poverty. Meanwhile, the castle is very large and the King seems to have an outsized army considering that there is not, to my knowledge, a neighboring kingdom that poses an existential threat. Presumably, in order to pay for all of this he would need a significant tax-base. That means that Hyrule either has great mineral wealth, which the royal family is not sharing with its townspeople, or the people themselves are producing wealth and the King is taking an outsized portion of that. Otherwise, we’re looking at conscription and slavery (for the building of the palace and the armor/weaponry). It’s all really quite disturbing that I am supposed to be working with/for the leaders or such a government.

    Oh well, I guess when you compare them to Ganon, they are the lesser evil. Even so, after Ganon and his ilk are defeated once and for all, revolution!Report

    • Avatar Aaron W in reply to Trumwill says:

      Perhaps the army is large because Ganon, by manipulating the king through his alter ego Aganhim as he was gathering the 7 descendants of the Wise Men, conscripted and brainwashed a large amount of the populace?

      Also, sequence breaking the Dark World in that game adds a lot of fun to playing it again. My favorite order is 1 > 4 > 2 > 3 > 6 > 7 > 5.Report

  14. Avatar 62across says:

    Epic Mickey! I’m playing through as a “good” Mickey this time and will likely repeat as a “bad” Mickey later.Report

  15. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    I never tire of returning to Vagrant Story. As for books, I’m reading Anna Karenina and Ricoeur’s Freud and Philosophy.Report

  16. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Martha and I watched “84 Charing Cross” tonight, a real choker for me. We watch it ever so often simply because we’re bibliophiles ourselves and Martha always associates with Anne Bancroft’s role. “Few could have carried that off so well,” she tells me.
    We have maybe 1500 books or so, some of which are on bookshelves though, as we grow older, many now line the walls without benefit of shelves. It’s a funny thing, I suppose, a book can become a friend, a guide and they are a very difficult thing with which to part. At least for me and the missus.
    I don’t play video games, but the wife does.Report

  17. Avatar DMD says:

    As far as video games go, Red Dead Redemption is destined to be a classic. By the guys behind the GTA series, it’s a sandbox game set at the tail end of the old West (1911) that nails pretty much everything. Act I is classic spaghetti western, Act II is “which side are you on hero?” of Eastwood western revisionism, and Act III is the West versus modernity. Near pitch perfect in all accounts.

    On the other end, you’ve got EA’s remake of the NBA Jam series which is mindless fun. Boomshakalaka!Report

  18. Completely addicted to Call of Duty: Black Ops right now. Just hit level 40 on the online play. That game is ridiculous.Report

  19. Just finished “He Walked Among Us” by Norman Spinrad. Magnificent!Report

  20. Avatar James K says:

    I’m playing Fallout New Vegas at the moment (I wanted to wait for it to be patched a bit before buying). I’m enjoying it a lot (a few residual bugs notwithstanding), and I’m glad to see much more of the spirit (and lore) from the first 2 Fallouts come to the fore than in Fallout 3, which I thought was a bit of a disappointment.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James K says:

      Oh, Fallout New Vegas! I adored this game. I said “I must beat it to see all 4 endings!” and realized that… no… there are a lot more endings than that.

      I get the feeling that I’ve only seen about 75% of the content despite beating it 4 times.

      There are hours and hours and hours hidden in this game.

      For the price of 2-3 movies (with, what? 10 hours of non-interactive entertainment?) you can get a game with 80 hours of play, a deep story, and endings based on your inclinations.Report

  21. Currently reading the short story anthology “Lemon” by Motojirou Kajii in Japanese. As far as I know there is no English translation outside scholarly literature (although there is a Kajii short story anthology in French). I am planning to try and market my own translation sometime next year. Think J.D. Salinger meets Edgar Allen Poe meets Mao.

    I’m generally partial to mindless videogames and prefer trips to the arcade. There’s one near my house where you basically pay twenty bucks for three hours. My favorite games there: (1) a shooting game with a huge screen where I can wield two uzis at the same time and throw electronic shuriken at attacking ninja; (2) a game where I beat evil electronic frogs with a fly-swatter; and (3) Street Fighter 2.Report

  22. Avatar Sam MacDonald says:

    Books: I took my kids to the library the other day and was casting about in the “young adult” section. I was kind of stunned to see “True Grit” in there with all the Harry Potter stuff. Young adult? I would not have been inclined to read it based on the movie reviews, but I was intrigued. It seemed like straight up “old adult” fare. I am reading it now, and it’s worth the effort, quite honestly. And I am still interested in knowing whether it really “belongs” in that section. Or whether that section should exist at all. I often see Lord of the Flies in such sections. Young adult has to mean something more than “there are young people in it,” no?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

      V.C. Andrews ends up in “Young Adult”.

      I suspect “young adult” means, among other things, “books for folks who don’t know any better yet”.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        It often means “Book whose protagonist is young”. Hence True Grit.Report

        • Avatar Sam M in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          That’s the sense I get. But it seems weird. You wouldn’t put “Kids” in a young adult film section. Or… I dunno. Maybe you would. Is “Catcher in the Rye” a “young adult” book? Romeo and Juliet?

          I smell a non-distinction based on marketing. Harrumph!Report

      • The last time I went back to the States for Christmas, giftcard in hand, I paid a visit to my local Barnes and Noble megastore chain. There was a simply massive “Young Adult” section, subdivided into smaller sections, one of which was “Paranormal Teenage Romance”. The “Paranormal Teenage Romance” section was about the same size as the not “Young Adult” but full on “Adult” subdivision called “Philosophy”.

        This “Philsophy” section was sandwiched between a section of equal size full of books on the impending 2012 volcano people disaster and the shady bathroom area with a sign reminding customers not to take merchandise into the toilets. Upon closer examination, “Philsophy” was mostly full of books like “The Philsophy of Batman Begins” and “Dr. House for Dummies”.Report

  23. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Book: Against the Day , Thomas Pynchon. I read a few pages of this every few days. As with good chocolate, it’s pointless devouring it all at once.

    Game: MSFT Flight Simulator, set up for landing at O’Hare 27L in bad weather in a Learjet. Funny how stall speed Just Doesn’t Matter when you encounter a microburst. I make about 1 of 3 landings.

    Life on the road is not amenable to the brewing of beer. I do make my own bread though, here in the hotel room. There’s a great brew pub just down the road here, Granite City: they keep my growler full of bock. One great thing about six months here, a year there is getting to know the local brewers: Summit Brewing makes a superb red ale.Report

  24. Avatar Fish says:

    A little late to the party, I guess, but I’ve just recently started Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men by Jeffery Rogers Hummel. I picked it up on the recommendation of Mr. Cheeks (and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a history geek anyway). Haven’t read far enough into it to say anything about it yet.Report

  25. Avatar Ryan says:

    Just got a new job, so been taking it easy a bit, but I’m keeping up with both EVE Online and Civilization V. Picked up Call of Duty 4 the other day, but not hugely into shooters, so we’ll see how that goes.

    I’ve been avoiding my Dwarf Fortress addiction pretty well and haven’t played Minecraft mostly out of fear.Report

  26. As grad student I have very little time for video games or reading books for pleasure, however, Civilization 5 is extremely good. That game has almost infinite replay value since the maps are always randomly drawn at the start of each and every game.

    As for books I highly recommend Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina 1816-1836 by William W. Freehling. An excellent history of that precursor to the Civil War, just as much an economic history as a political history. Its an older book and well worth a read.Report

  27. Avatar Will H. says:

    I’m still on Civilization IV, Beyond the Sword.
    Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
    Samiclaus was the only barleywine I’ve had that I cared for. I’ve had the Thomas Hardy’s Ale, and maybe it wasn’t aged enough, but I didn’t care for it. A few others I’ve tried as well, but the Samiclaus is tops in my book.
    Been involved with editing mp3’s for my mp3 player. “In the New Age” by King’s X, “Invader” by Judas Priest, and “Let Me Entertain You” from Queen Live! Killers all have an extended intro that interferes with the music. That stuff had to go.
    And “Fools” by Deep Purple. If iMusicTweet was still around, I would post the edited version so you could enjoy it. My version runs 6:37, and this one runs 8:22, but you’ll get the idea if you forward it to 1:42.Report

  28. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I beat Dead Space 2 last night:

    I admit to feeling apprehension about the game as soon as I saw the ad campaign for it. The ad campaign, if you haven’t seen it, is to show middle-aged/elderly ladies watching footage from the game and expressing horror at it. is the website.

    This *IMMEDIATELY* tells me that they don’t want to talk about the game. Why don’t they want to talk about the game? Well, the most obvious reason would be that the game sucks. (I learned, in my youth, to not go to a movie where the commercials show people talking about how awesome the movie is rather than footage from the movie.)

    As it turns out, my fears were misfounded.

    (I’ll try to make this about as spoiler-free as I can.)

    Months and months ago, I had heard a rumor that the story was this: Isaac is in a mental institution and the USS Ishimura was decommissioned and dismantled and the scrap metal was used to build a new colony… this colony has gone silent and the powers that be had to dig Isaac out from his medicated state and get him to find out what’s going on with the colony.

    This is not the story. It’s, like, not even *CLOSE*. The good news: the story is better.

    (I prefer video games to television shows or movies. The vast majority of all of them are mediocre (if not crap), of course… but even a mediocre videogame is designed to be interactive and engage the player on a level that even the best television shows or movies can’t replicate. And there are the best videogames that have storylines that rival the best television shows or movies. And you have to buy a full series of a television show to get the same number of hours of entertainment that Fallout 3, for example, has to offer.)

    Back to the game.

    There are two levels of creepy going on in the game. The first is the space zombie stuff. These are pretty much all BLARGH A ZOMBIE SHOOT IT kinda scares. These are done competently. The second, however, deal with your ex-girlfriend (you remember her from the final cutscene in Dead Space 1). These needle into you and give you a feeling of dread and inevitability that make the space zombies a mere annoyance by comparison.

    Additionally, this has made it stand out from Resident Evil 4/5.

    Dead Space was Resident Evil 4/5 *IN SPACE* but Dead Space 2 has changed a handful of things with gameplay, setting, mood and so on that it has carved out its own voice to the point where I’m hoping that Resident Evil 6 is more like Dead Space 2.

    4 out of 5 stars. This is an interesting universe. I look forward to Dead Space 3 already.Report