Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Summer Reading List

I like to read. I think it is a genetic thing. For the past couple of years I have read A LOT. However, that does not really count because it was all assigned reading. That does not mean I did not enjoy some of it, but there is a difference between being told to read something and reading something on ones own free will. This summer, after reading a book my brother let me borrow, I decided that I was going to read a lot of books that I wanted to read and I did. I did not read quite as much as I wanted, but I feel like I got up a fairly decent page count. What follows is a chronological list of the books I read this summer (from first to most recent). These are not really reviews, just my thoughts oh them I guess.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
The book is written in the format of an oral history book documenting the trials and tribulations of a fictional war against Zombies. This may be the single most awesome premise for a book ever written. I imagine writing a fake oral history would be hard, and the author does a decent job, though this is not exactly the material of a literary giant. It is however, very fun to read.

Frank Peretti is one of my favorite authors. His books are supernatural thrillers from a Christian perspective. This book turned out to be a "real page turner" as I read it in one day and stayed up till 3 am to finish it. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down. The book started off well with a bunch of unanswered questions and head turning moments of curious weirdness, but much like the movie 1409 (which this book has a similar feel to), did not deliver in the end neither did this one. Not bad, but not the best work by Peretti.

Year of Living Biblically
The church librarian pretty much demanded I read this book so I did. The premise of this book is a very liberal, cultural Jew decided to spend a year following all of the rules in the Bible. This included all of the food laws and even the stoning of adulters. It was a fascinating book to read, especially because it was a respectful view of the Bible from Non Christian eyes. I did not care much for the conclusions he drew from his year of living biblically, but overall it was a fascinating read and I would recommend it to everyone .

Dark Lord: Rise of Darth Vader
You had to know a Star Wars book was coming sooner or later, and honestly it is shocking that there are only two of them. This was a decent read, especially as a Star Wars fan. The book picks up very shortly after the end of Revenge of the Sith, and it goes along way to beginning Darth Vader's transition from Fallen Jedi to certified bad guy.

The List of Seven
This was a $1 purchase from Half Price books, and it turned out to be worth $1. I really liked the setting and theme. The story is basically a supernatural Sherlock Holmes tale. However, instead of using Sherlock Holmes the character is actually Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle. Some parts of the book were unnecessary. Apparently the guy who wrote this was the script writer for Twin Peaks, and it is obvious. Each chapter was very long and basically unfolded like a serial TV show episode. Each chapter had its own introduction, its own rising action, climax, and cliff hanger conclusion which led to the next episode . .. Chapter.

The Irresistable Revolution


I like this book, but at the same time found myself a little troubled, or perhaps challenged by it. It is really hard to summarize what this book is about. I guess the best way to state it is the book is an autobiographical, argumentative essay focusing on living in radical community that embraces solidarity with the poor. I really, really liked a lot of this guys thoughts and I was very much inspired by what he wrote. However, at the same time I did have a nagging pragmatic thought that the guy was basically a hippie, and if everyone truly did like he did then there would be less jobs, electricity, and food in the world.

Tom Clancy's End War

Notice the book has Tom Clancy in the title, but he did not actually write it. It must be nice to get paid for stuff you didn't even make. This book is actually a prequel to an upcoming video game, and it was really good. The book is set in 2020-something and is about World War III. In case you are curious, WWIII begins with Russia invading France and then continues with them invading Canada. This book is about The war in Canada, and it was awesome. The book is paced like a series of 24 minus crazy Jack Baur antics. On top of that it has a lot of military action, so I really felt like a Hans Zimmer soundtrack from a Jerry Bruckhimer film should have been constantly playing in the background.

Who Stole My Church?

So this book was actually required reading, as part of my job. Luckily it was a good book. This is a fictional account based on real life about an elderly group in the church who gets together with a pastor to talk about the changes happening in their church. They come to realize that it is not "their" church and that change is inevitable. There were several chapters about the changes in church music that the author nailed.

Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight
The cover and back of this book made it look and sound like it was going to be an awesome tale that mixed Star Wars with Noir. That was not quite what it was like but it was still a decent Star Wars story. I liked that it took characters from previous Star Wars books and continued using them. In doing so this book fits nicely in the Star Wars expanded Universe. You might noticed that it has a numeral in the title. This made me apprehensive at first because I wanted a self contained story and not a series. However, the book had a preview from the next book and the preview had a completely different character so I thought they were self contained stories with similar themes. Not so apparently. Hopefully, after a semester of reading what I don't want I will be able to finish this series over Christmas break.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Last one for a while . . .

post about board games that is, not post in general. I have been a rather prolific blogger this week, and I would like to keep that up. However, a week later I am still glowing from Gen-con, and I will try to make this my last board game related post for a while (instead I will go back to video game ones!) ;)

So, Abigail and I have played through the three things I bought at Gen-Con, and the good news is that they were more less successful purchases. Adventurer is a game that Abigail might like more than me. It is a quick and easy game, but still fun and fairly unique. Dracula's Revenge, which I got because it was only $5, turned out not to be that bad. At first the rules seem needlessly complex, but after playing it I found out they were not. The game is a game of hunter and hunted (or cat and mouse, only the mouse is stronger than the cat) that is very deadly. There is a lot of positioning and intentional movement in this game. The way the game plays also fits the setting, which is vampire hunting in Victorian England. Abigail started off disliking the game, but by the end she had warmed up to it. The final purchase I made last week was a Battlelore expansion called Call to Arms. Battlelore typically uses a scenario set up, but this expansion makes it so the players get to have some decisions in what units they use and where they go. I very much liked and so did Abigail.

So you may have noticed that all of the links go back to boardgamegeek.com This was a website that I had a decent amount of involvement in back in college, but fell out of in the 18 months I lived without broadband. Since, like most of us, I have strong consumer tendencies, seeing all the games at Gen Con and browsing the site has made me want to buy some new games. So what follows are the top five games I want to get, along with the probability of actually getting it.

5. Descent: Journey into Dark
Chance of actually getting: 33%
What it is: I think I mentioned a while ago that I would like a dungeon crawling board game. It appears that Descent is the best one available. The problem is that the game requires one person to be in charge of the dungeon, while other players are the heroes. This is problematic because it is not well suited to just two players.

4. Arkham Horror
Chance of actually getting: 55%
What it is: Every time I get a chance to wonder into the board game store, I pick this box up and look at it. Arkham Horror is a co-operative game, so it is players (or player as it can be played solitaire) vs. the game itself. I like the idea of being on the same team with Abigail, and I like the pulp-horror setting.

3. Halo Interactive Strategy Game

Chance of actually getting: 40%
What it is: It is a board game that simulates Halo multiplayer battles. And that last sentence is the most awesome sentence I have ever typed. The problem is that the initial impressions is the game is a little simple (which is not a terrible thing) and over-prices (which is a terrible thing). When three of the other games on this list are the same price or cheaper for "more game" it is a harder sale. However it is still a Halo board game.

2. A Game of Thrones: Living Card Game
Chance of getting: 50%-100%
What it is: First the reason for the variable percentage. I know that in September I am buying a game, and it is this one or the next one. I just don't know which. I love the idea of collectible, customizable games. However, I learned from experience that they are money pits, and the system benefits those who spend the most. This game breaks that cycle. Next month the starter set comes out, which includes four decks. Then every month after that a 40 card expansion comes out. So instead of buying multiple packs of random cards, I only have to buy one thing a month to have all the cards in the game. That is incredible. The biggest problem with this game is that I am not 100% Abigail will play it.

1. Call of Duty Real Time Card Game
Chance of getting: 50%-100%
What it is: Now this game I did play at Gen Con and I liked it. This game is also customizable and deals with fixed decks. When it comes down to it, I think I would personally enjoy Game of Thrones more, because it will have more depth of strategy. However, my wife (and primary partner to play games) will like this one more.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Clone Wars Review

This really isn't the blog to read for movie reviews, if you want those go here. Despite that, I am going to give it a go, but keep in mind I am reviewing this not as a movie critic/fan, but as a Star Wars fan.

So there are two reasons why I like Star Wars, and thus two ways upon which to judge this movie. The first reason is like I like the epic, grand narrative of Star Wars. Despite a few bumps in the prequel trilogy (and a few in Return of the Jedi) it is a great tale. The second is more important, because it is the reason why I like Star Wars so much and that is how it contributes to the Star Wars Universe.

In regards to how the Clone Wars contributes to the overall Star Wars universe it is good. Everything that appears in this movie is consistent with Star Wars overall. Star Wars movies often take lengths to make the universe feel real and used. This does the same thing by including little details like having WWII style decals painted on the side of Clone drop ships. There were a few universe related problems, like the inconsistencies in how long it took to travel, but that has always been a problem in the Star Wars universe.

In regards to the Star Wars story, the clone wars is a bit of a problem. In Star Wars there is the Canon and there is the Expanded Universe. The Canon are the six movies, and the expanded universe is everything else. The movies exist on their own, but the expanded universe needs the movies to exist. The Clone Wars is problematic because it is a movie, but for all intents and purposes it feels like extended universe, so it is in an odd middle ground.

So, let's get to something that looks more like an actual movie review. When the Clone Wars started I was really nervous, because they did away with the traditional scrolling text, and instead did a cheesy and awful newsreel style voice over to set the stage. Half way through the movie I realized why they did this. With the exception of Episode I (and possible Return of the Jedi), which skewed for a younger audience, Star Wars movies have universal appeal. However, the Clone Wars is very much made for children, and that is why it does not have scolling text, because not all kids can read. The pacing is very much like that of a cartoon. Which is not a bad thing, after all Pixar movies have a similar pacing. There is intentional (and slightly out of character comedy). They introduce a character, Ankian's Padawan, that is very much a stereotype (the "I can do anything you can do" girl with attitude). The voice actors do a decent job, and all of the characters feel right. The one benefit that doing this in an animated style is that they can get away with doing things that would be hard, or not look right with actual actors. Thus, the movie features an absolutly incredible battle scene, and when you see it you will know what I am talking about.

Speaking of battle scenes, it was a bit odd just how much of the movie was fighting. The Clone Wars racks up a really, really high body count. Granted they are all droids and souless clones, but still there is a lot of violence, and the movie make sure it notices that individual clone troopers are not just hit, but dead. It seemed a bit odd given the younger audience that it appeals to.

As a Star Wars fan, I was pleased. I guess I do have a mental block with it being in a theater, and I would have preferred this a bit more if it was a direct to DVD video instead. That being said, now that they have gone and done this I want to see more animated movies within the Star Wars universe (Rogue Sqaudron would be awesome!), because there can never be to much Star Wars.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I need to avoid public places for a few days. . .

So we got a coupon in the Sunday paper for a free chicken sandwich. I decided to go to McDonalds today and use it. I took a book with me that I want to read, so I can use some of its ideas in planning the youth group Fall Retreat. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to concentrate because every two seconds I overheard someone say my name. Or rather, they said, Shawn Johnson. I was never able to quite tune it out, and I looked up every time I heard "my" name. Oh well, maybe next week will be better (we have two coupons!)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shock and Awe. . .. .

I could have guessed this would have happened after attending Gen-con. For the past two days I have thought a lot more about board and card games. The fact that Adventurer, the game I bought there is a hit with Abigail (probably because she keeps beating me at it). Today I have especially thought about the games that I have made. Since that is what on my mind I am going to share. Not all of these games have titles (that I remember) so they will have numbers and be posted chronologically.

1. The first game I remember making was in second grade. That is right, we are going retro for this list. It is obvious in hindsight that I was destined to play games beyond Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land. For how long ago this was, I remember a good deal about it. We were suppose to make a game where you had to rescue a princess. I remember many of the students followed the teachers example, and made a simple board with a castle at the end, and maybe a miss turn or go back 2 spaces spot. Not me though, I had branching fast and monsters to fight. To beat certain monsters, you had to roll certain numbers. If you lost you had to start over. I made a game that for all intents and purposes was the same only bigger two years later when given a similar assignment in fourth grade.

2. In middle school I began my tragic and destined to fail affair with Collectible Card Games. I started with Magic, but soon moved to Spellfire which I liked a lot better. I combined elements of those two along with some of my own ideas to create War Party. I don't remember a whole lot about it. I think I wrote out rules by hand once, and I even started trying to make some of the cards. I do remember that the goal was not to deplete the other person's life, but to collect money a certain amount of money. Money was generated from lands, taken from raiding lands, or by attacking the other player directly and stealing from them. I had some elaborate day dreams about this, and planned out in my head the first three expansion sets. If someone ever rummaged through a landfill and found the remains of one of 8th grade notebooks there is a good chance that somewhere there would be jotted down notes for card ideas.

3. Freshmen year of high school I also made a game as part of a homework assignment. This was for art class, and it was a group project. The people in my group really did not care about it, so most of the game rules fell on me. It was a super hero game with simple dice combat. The goal was to clear a city of Super-Villians. The first one to clear so many captured buildings one. It was not the greatest game.

4. My Senior of High School I created two games. The first was a Role Playing Game. I created my on RPG system. Granted, it was based, in part, on the D6 system which my beloved Star Wars RPG uses. In my system all dice rolls are made with just 2 six sided dice and then the skill is added. I originally created the game to be a RPG for the Redwall book series. To create a character I know that people had to pick their race, background location, and job. Doing these things determined the character's attribute levels, special abilities and skill sets. Unfortunately I could not get anyone to ever play it, so I took the rules made the changes so it could be used for a generic fantasy setting and called it New Legends. I got my friends to playtest it during lunch at high school. We got in trouble once because a teacher thought we were playing craps. Both version of this game existed as their own separate computer files. On multiple occasions I looked through every single back-up disk I could find, and it appears that they are forever lost to the sands of times. Te funny thing is a couple of years ago a Lord of the Rings RPG was released and the system it uses was very, very similar to the one I created.

5. The second game I created in High School was in my Science Fiction and Fantasy class. We read a book that featured some interglactic game and the assignment was to make a game related in some way to the book. The game in the book was fairly complex and kind of Jumanji like, but I re-created it in exacting detail. The teacher liked it so much that he kept it to use as an example for all time . . or at least until he cleaned out his closet.

6. At the beginning of my senior year of college, I created my own game called Kung-fu. I still have the one and only copy of it in the world. The game is meant to simulate a fighting game style kung-fu fight. I will admit off the top that the game design is heavily influenced by Lunch Money (a high school favorite of mine) and Wraslin' (a middle school favorite). I combined elements of both of those and added my own touches. Both people have a base deck of attacks and defense cards. Also each fighter as unique special moves. However, there is then a sub-deck of advance maneuvers and each player gets to pick a set amount of those cards to add to the base deck, that way to a degree each player can customize their deck to a certain play style. I may have a few to many defense cards, and one character was way over powered, but I think the game is a lot of fun. As I mentioned, I still have it if anyone wants to play.

7. The next game I made is called Colosseum. Of course there is now a real game by that same name, so I suppose I have to change it. I made this right at four years ago. The idea of this game is to simulate stylized gladiator combat. I wanted to tap into the fun of RPG character creation for a board game so each time a player can spend five minutes or less creating a gladiator and then play using cards and dice. I got Abigail to play test it with me once, and that was a bit of a mistake. Instead of being patient and waiting on her time, I forced her into it and it did not go well. I did learn there were some small balancing issues, but I never fixed it. I got dejected, and thought what is the point of making someone no one was going to play.

8. That same notion has kind of kept me from making another game that I have had an idea of for a long time (like six plus years). I even bought all of the parts I need to make it. The basic idea of this game is a non-collectible, customizable miniatures game. Games like Battlelore and Memoir'44 are sort of the direction I was thinking of this, but the game I want to make could actually be called Call of Duty the board game as games like CTF, Assault/defend, and even COD stables like headquarters or domination is what this game is intended for. I still have a notebook that has some of my notes about the game, and I have the dice and solider pieces in a closet. I have a list of stuff I want to do in my life, and make this game is in my top ten. . .

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gen-Con Blow by Blow

Once a year Indianapolis host something called Gen-Con. For the most part Gen-Con is a celebration of all things gaming (that is not video gaming anyway). By, what was really Abigail's prodding, I went for a day and I am so glad I did (and as an aside, it appears the budget can be broken when she wants to make me happy :) )

At Gen-Con I spent seventeen hours playing board, card, and roleplaying games. So here is how it went down.

Starting at 8am I played in a Settlers of Catan world championship qualifying tournament. Sadly, I didn't make it any further than that one game, but it was close. Catan is played to 10 points, and I had eight. The guy who won was right before my turn and if he had rolled a seven, then he would have discarded resources and I would have been able to build longest road and win the game. Oh well.

Next I played Battlelore. Battlelore is a fantasy board game that simulates army battles and combines strategy with luck. The game used a rules variant I had not played before and was a team game that I had not played before. What was really neat though is the game used a new soldier piece, and we were the first people to ever play with it! Another cool part of it all is that the guy running the game was the game designer himself. In the end my team lost, but it was fun

By time Battlelore was done it was about 1pm and I checked out the main convention floor. I had sort of assumed that this would mostly just be merchants selling stuff, but it was more because there were a TON of game companies who more than willing to demo their games, so I got to play a lot of new stuff.
The first game I played was a simple card game called Duality. It was ok, but not really my thing.
After that I waited half an hour to play the Call of Duty card game. Call of Duty is a video game series that I really like, and this card game promised to be unique because it was played in real time, as opposed to being turn based. So essentially this was a card game simulating a video that played as fast as the card game Speed. It was especially cool to play it because the game is not even out yet. While it was not as tactical as I would like, it was fun. After that I played a truly bizarre game about gnomes on a sinking submarine (seriously, gnomes!)

I got some food and then went back into the main hall and toured all of the booths. Along the way I played a card game called Adventurer that I loved, and just had to get. Tonight, Abigail is going to play it with me and I really, really hope she likes it.

Next, I played the Star Wars Pocket Model Game. If you go into Target and look where they keep the Baseball cards you will know what I am talking about. This is a game that I had heavily contemplated trying to get into because it seemed like a cheaper way to fulfill my undying hunger for miniature based games and customizable based games. After playing it, I now know that I will be avoiding it. The problem is that it is not really a Star Wars game. It uses Star Wars vehicles, but for all intents and purposes it could be about anything and play the same way. there is no Star Wars game that should allow a snow speeder to take down a Star Destroyer.

Next, I learned how to play a game that simulated a race between rubber ducks. Seriously, rubber ducks. I also chatted with a hopeful game developer, who wanted to turn chess from a simple game of complex strategy into a complex game of simple dice rolling. I didn't have the heart to tell him I thought his game was dumb. Next, I learned how to play the Blue Dragon "role playing card game". It was not really a role playing card game, that was just a silly marketing phrase. When it comes to Collectible Card Games I have played my share (I still have a box full of Star Wars cards, AvP cards, X-file Cards, Sim City cards, Red Zone cards, and Redemption Cards. I no longer have any Spellfire or Magic cards), but I am by no means an expert on the games, but even I was able to tell that everything about this game was derivative. I got a free T-shirt out of the deal, that upon seeing it, Abigail commented "You aren't seriously going to ever wear that are you?" That sounds like a dare to me.

After that I learned how to play a free (sort of) online card game, and then I continued towards the back of the show floor. All of this time, I had essentially only been on one half of the convention center floor. Towards the back there more merchants, and I had to really restrain myself from buying crap I really don't need. Back in the 90's there was a huge glut of Collectible Card Games. A lot were crap, but there were some good ones that had marginal success but eventually folded up shop. It was possible to buy entire boxes of unopened cards for these games for less than $10 each. I would have loved to buy a couple of boxes, which would give a good start of cards to mess around with and play some old games. However, I realized that Abigail, who I have learned as a low tolerance for complicated card games, would never play with me, so that helped me say no.

By this point it was closing in on 4:30 and I had a game to be at by 5pm so I started heading to the front. On the way up there, a booth for one game publisher was selling a game of theirs that was normally $30 for $5. I figured it was impossible to go wrong for $5, and it looked fun so I got that. Also, from playing Battlelore I got a $5 off coupon from Days of Wonder so I used that to get an expansion I had been wanting. I even got it autographed by the game's creator. I saw so much other stuff that I wanted to play, and I seriously could have spent at least one more entire day (probably two) just wandering around there.

At 5pm I took part in a game of Memoir '44. This game is very similar to Battlelore only instead of Fantasy/Medieval battles it is World War II. This was also a team game of four on four. I had never played this way, and it was really fun. I got to be the Supreme General and make the overall command decisions. This of course meant we lost. Bad. The game was to 13, and we lost 13-2. Of course, I was consoled when the game designer (same guy as Battlelore), who had been watching the game, told me it wasn't my fault, it was just the cards.

Because we got beat so bad and so quickly I had some extra time so I looked in the schedule and saw there was a writing workshop I could attend. I figured why not and got there right before it started. The workshop was about self-publishing your book and it was interesting.

After that I began walking a few blocks away to play in a session of the Star Wars RPG. You can ask anyone in my family about how much I love this game. In high school, I played it with friends twice a week and loved every minute of it. More than anything else getting to play this game was what I was looking forward to the most. Sadly, it was a huge disappointment. I won't go into the details, but it was just the perfect storm of bad stuff. The adventure was terrible (and even the guy running it said so). It was obvious that the guy running it had only looked at the adventure like five minutes before hand, and to top it off there was a guy in the group who really had just the wrong combination of personality traits to guarantee to get on my nerves in no time flat. However, the worst part is I got to roll the dice exactly six times, and they were all for pointless reasons. I eventually left in dejected annoyance before the game was fully over, and out of six people I was the third person to do this :(

Despite that, it was still an incredible day that I greatly enjoyed. I am fairly sure that next year I am going to work out so that I can volunteer for sixteen hours there and get in for free for all four days. Plus, doing that will get Abigail in for free so in a year expect me to post that my wife is now the world's reigning Settlers of Catan Champion. :)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

10 Good Reasons

So a couple of weeks ago, my dad casually mentioned that my mom would not let him get an Xbox. I don't know if he was serious or not, and I don't honestly know if he actually wants an Xbox. However, the thought of being able to play a game over Live with my brother and dad is a neat one. Thus, for the sake of argument I will assume that he is being serious. What follows are ten game recommendations for my dad. The way I figure it, he will only play casually so only having five solid game choices (let alone 10) should be enough to make a compelling argument and cement the deal. To strengthen the case the games are listed in the most dramatic descending order possible.

10. Tiger Woods Golf I have never played the game, because sports games are not my thing . .. especially golf. However, I have it on good authority that this is the best golf game available, and the controls are very intuitive so that actual golf skills can translate into being decent at the game.

9. Carcassone My dad has never played this board game, but he has played Catan, and this game is in the same vein (i.e. German Board Game). The added bonus to this is that my brother and I already have this one.

8. Tetris Evolution/Splash Waaay back in the day (as in when the original Nintendo was the newest system available) my dad played a lot of Tetris, and he was good at it. I remember spending a long time watching him trying to beat "B mode" only to find out it goes on forever. That is just the way of Tetris. However, achievements really breathe new life into this game. Tetris has two version for the 360. A disc based version and a download version. In either event it is still Tetris.

7. Poker Smash So it is a widely held opinion that the best Tetris like game ever is called Planet Puzzle League. This game takes the same gameplay of poker. Thus to eliminate blocks players still line up three of a kind, but they can also play poker hands (straights, full house, flush,etc) to get even more points. Outside of Portal this is probably the best puzzle game I have played.

6. Texas Hold'em Iknow my dad has played some gambling video games on the PC, so Texas Hold'em is a good fit. There is always a table available on Live, and this would be a good game for us all to play together.

5. NASCAR 09 My dad likes NASCAR, and it is my understanding that this is the best NASCAR game available on the consoles. When the pros, play the video games to get a feel for the track (which they do) then you know the game is very accurate.

4. Catan My dad regularly plays the board game the Settlers of Catan as it is. However, for only $10 to play Catan against real people whenever one wants is an incredible value. This would also be a good game for everyone to play together.

3-1. Madden 09 Collector's Edition This counts for three because the collector's edition actually contains three games. Back in the day (most SNES and Sega CD) my dad played a lot of video game football. Madden 09 is the best looking football game ever made (my magazine told me so). It also has three distinct levels of difficulty for players at various skill levels, so it can help him ease back into it. So the base game is #3. The Collector's Edition also contain Madden 93 with modern rosters. Mid-90 Madden's is what my dad played the most of, so he should be right at home with this one. The final full game this package includes is NFL Headcoach which is a full coaching simulator. He has played several of these on the PC, and this is one that will actually look pretty.

To give a few extra good reasons, half of the games on the list are only $10 downloads. Madden 09 Collector's edition is $90, but considering that buying Madden 09 and Head Coach separately is $110, it is a good deal.

Thus, if my dad happened to just love all 10 of these reasons and bought an Xbox 360 the total cost for the entire list, a console, and a year of live would be $520.

So Dad, if you were serious I hope this helps give you good reasons. And in the outside event you do get an Xbox, let me know what game(s) you get because I will make sure that I get it as well.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

10 Things I learned in Flordia

I could post a top ten list or I could just post a travel-log, but by doing it this way not only do I re-cap what we did, but I do it in a way that is educational. There is no relevance to the order of this list.

10. I like the Daily Show
We don't have cable, but if I did have cable I would watch the daily show nightly, which I did for a week. It is funny, and does a brilliant job at showing just how absurd news journalism is in this country.

9. I like Rally Racing
The other thing I watched on cable (along with History channel in the morning while Abigail was sleeping) was some of the X-Games coverage. What I liked the most was Rally Racing. I really enjoyed watching the cars go head to head on their dirt/street course.

8. I am done with 24
Over the course of a year and a half Abigail and I have now watched all six seasons of 24. This week we watched Season six, often getting a few episodes in at night or during the heat of the day. I know that 24 has certain conventions that it relies on, such as fudging travel distances, playing lose with time between episodes, and solely relying on Dues Ex Machima to drive the plot. However, this season did me in. I liked the slower more methodical pacing that this one took at the beginning (kind of like the first season). I also liked the plot with the terrorist and his nuclear weapons. However, with about a third of the season to go, they completly and totally changed the plot. Now usually, at the 12 hour mark 24 somehow tweaks and evolves the plot, but this time they completly changed it. They wrapped up what they were doing and started something else. Unfortunately, what they started I didn't care about, and the last seven hours were a chore to sit through (and actually we skipped one of those episodes).

7. I am not done with the X-Files
While in Flordia, Abigail and I saw the X-Files movie. It was decent. I would say it is required viewing for anyone who use to like the TV show, but that is all that it will really appeal to. It would have been better if the movie came out like four years ago when X-Files was still relevant. However, watching the movie made me really want to go back to watching X-Files. . .so those DVDs might need to find their way into the budget.

6. Free is worth the wait
Due to an unique series of events Abigail and I got bumped from the flight we were going to be on to come back to Indianapolis. This resulted in us having to wait an additional five hours in the Atlanta airport, but we now each have a voucher for a free round trip ticket

5. Things shrink when I get older
Growing up, my family went to St. Augustine Florida. This is the oldest permanent settlement in the US. It is also the home to a fort. The first time I was there the fort really made an impression on me. We went back there and I have to say, while I enjoyed it the place was smaller than I remembered it. I had memories of a gigantic, and ancient coastal fortress. Maybe it is because I have since been to bigger and more ancient coastal fortress, but the place really did seem to shrink and look less old.

4. Sushi. . .mildly overrated.
While in Florida I had sushi for the first time. It was from an authentic sushi place, the real deal and everything. It was good, but I don't get all the hype. Sushi fans act like it is the best food ever and that it is capable of bringing people to a culinary nirvana.

3. I suck at skim boarding
While we were there the waves were not the greatest. In fact a couple of days the official surf report at the beach was this :(
No joke. Since the waves were not so good I decided to try skim boarding. This video does a great job at showing what I am talking about:

With a few exceptions where i got lucky and may have actually looked like I knew what I was doing, I mostly looked like the "do not" clips, and I have the bruises on my legs, elbow, and foot to prove it.

2. Drive-Ins are not the way to do church
On Sunday we went to the Drive-In Christian Church. Basically, for this church everyone parks their car in an old drive in. The pastor and worship leaders stand on a balcony and everyone listens on the radio in their car. This service is a standard, traditional protestant service. It was silly, a little dumb, and just not a good way to do church. Of course that is just my opinion. They have been around since 1953, so clearly worship in this style appeals to someone.

1. Playing in waves is a lot of fun but. ..
It turns out the waves were not the part that made it. I have been to a beach many, many times in my life. However, this is the first time I went with Abigail and not my parents and siblings. Abigail did give it an honest attempt but riding wave is not her thing, which meant I spent most of the time in the ocean by my self. Like I mentioned it was still fun, but I discovered that I missed a lot of the experience. I missed the gentle guidance and constant encouragement from my dad and I missed the passive aggressive competition with my brother to always have the better ride. So the ocean was fun, but not as fun as every other time I had been there.

Overall, it was an excellent vacation that was full of relaxation and a good time had by all. See, just look how happy we look: