Monday, November 11, 2013

The Mighty Movember!

I realized that I'd been taking part of this, but hadn't yet mentioned it on the blog, so I'm correcting that now...

I'm raising money this month for men's health research and programs through the "Movember" effort! Movember began in 2004 and is a non-profit organization that raises funds for various cancer research and cancer support programs, focused on cancers that particularly affect men. The gimmick for the whole thing is that all participants shave on November 1st, and grow a moustache only during the month, while raising funds for the effort.

Friday, October 11, 2013

 I Saw A Concert: Goblin and Secret Chiefs 3

Live at The Sinclair in Boston October 9th, 2013

Few bands in the world can effectively pull off the kind of heavy, groovy, and all-out spooky sounds that Goblin can. For more than forty years, Goblin have been providing soundtracks to some of the coolest horror films out there: Like Air and "The Virgin Suicides" or Mike Oldfield and "The Exorcist", the soundtracks they've created have become such an integral part of the films they inhabit that they are utterly inseparable. Goblin enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship in particular with shock horror master Dario Argento, and provided precisely the right (and weird) music that fueled Argento's violent-but-trippy movies like "Suspiria", "Tenebre", "Phenomena" and more. Goblin also wrote great soundtrack music to numerous thriller, "Giallo" detective, and other genres of film throughout their career. The group's heyday was largely in the 1970's and 80's, although the band continued to make excellent new music well into the new millennium. 

Thing is, I never thought I'd get to see them.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Visiting Pinball and Video Game History: The Pinball Wizard Arcade in Pelham, NH

One of the places in New England that I think of as a real "hidden gem" for gamers is the Pinball Wizard Arcade located just across the border from Massachusetts, in Pelham, New Hampshire. It's about an hour and a half drive from the Boston area, and just over an hour from my house in Whitinsville, MA. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

PAX East 2013

Descending into the madness that was PAX East 2013:

I had a great time at this year's PAX East. For those who don't know, PAX East is a growing yearly convention in Boston centered on gamer culture - mostly video games, but also board games, card games and podcasts/media. It's tens of thousands of people in the Boston Convention Center, geeking out and having a fun time. It really is great!

Riot's League of Legends was massive this year, which makes sense,
since it's currently the most popular game in the world.
PAX East is great affirmation that there are a ton of gamers, geeks and nerds out there, both male and female. The organizers of the expo, the folks who do, have put together a real celebration of gamer culture. I was thinking about this the other day: If you are a parent of a teen who's struggling due to popularity/bullying issues in middle or high school, this kind of convention is a great way for that person to both have fun and to realize that there's a lot of people like him/her, the issues they are struggling with now will not last forever, and when they get a bit older they can really have a community to call their own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Went to a Concert: The Residents in Boston, 2/12/13


The Residents at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, February 12th, 2013

Band web site:

The Residents are one of my all-time favorite bands, in part because few people I know can tolerate them. They really know how to push people's buttons in a way that I find extremely amusing.

For forty years now they've been making what might be some of the strangest rock music ever created. Forty years! Even after all this time most bands can't get near as weird as them. They remain half performance art, half rock group, performing songs that tend to be full of strange characters telling stories, deconstructed pop anthems, nursery-rhyme-like melodies and a willingness to go to some pretty dark places.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pizza and Video Games: God of Blades, Curiosity and Pitfall!

I am not particularly fond of gaming on the iPhone. I also don't own, and don't really have a desire to own, an iPad. I keep hearing about how it's a key gaming platform nowadays, but I have yet to play very many games that are fun on it. Maybe I'm just not playing the right games? So far some of the best experiences have been asynchronous word games like Letterpress, when playing with friends, although I hear there are some good adventure games to be had as well.

Oh, and I find Angry Birds to be tedious and not fun at all. Sorry! :)

That said, I do enjoy the relatively indie nature of a lot of App Store development. Small teams with grand plans, tiny budgets, and a penchant for long workdays pour their passion into a product that tends to either be completely ignored or make everyone involved a pretty significant amount of money! There's a lot of pricing pressure being put on the console-makers as well, and that's not a bad thing, either. 

It's been said a million times, but it's true: iPhone and iPad gaming works best when you don't have traditional keypads and jump buttons. That's why simple swipe-based gameplay and asynchronous word games tend to be the most successful, at least so far. Fighting some kind of cruddy virtual keyboard just isn't fun! They are different experiences, and require a different approach. 

Here's a couple of games that have been in heavy rotation on my phone in recent months:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What the heck are you listening to?!?! - January 2013 Edition

It's strange that after years of collecting, I largely ignore my digital music library. When I'm not listening to something on vinyl, I almost exclusively listen to music through the various streaming services available like Spotfiy, Rdio and the "new" Myspace. In part, it's because I no longer have my large-hard-drive iPod, and can't fit much onto my tiny iPhone. But it's also because it can be easier to just type in an album on a streaming service than it is to sort through a collection. I am concerned about the ability of musicians to make a living nowadays, but do really like the convenience of this Internet-based music era.

Here's some thoughts on the albums I've been listening to this month:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pizza and Video Games: Samurai Beatdown for the PS Vita

Samurai Beatdown (PS Vita)

Released by: Beatnikgames, October 2012
Current Price: $.99
For: PS Vita, Playstation Mobile-certified devices*
Slash your enemies to the beat, earn points, build up combos, and unleash the fury in this fun mobile/portable game. Samurai Beatdown features catchy music and simple but fun gameplay, and is one of the best games currently available on the Playstation Mobile platform. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pizza Saves the World's Foundations of Western Philosophy 101: Is Breakfast Fun?

I recently saw a television ad for a breakfast cereal which described itself as, "...a fun part of your complete breakfast!" Which got me thinking: Is breakfast actually fun?