Unhand her, Dan Backslide!

In the days of VHS tapes, it was common for my parents to buy videos for us with a small selection of public domain cartoons. Usually they’d find one from a prominent character like Mickey Mouse or Daffy Duck, and then round out the rest with cartoons that time forgot. I watched these tapes to death, memorizing every beat and line of dialog. About six months ago, I was inspired to watch one that I used to have on such a tape: “The Dover Boys of Pimento University,” directed by the legendary Chuck Jones. Watch it for yourself here. It’s something wonderful.

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The Decemberists – The King is Dead

The King is Dead

This is why we fight…

The first Decemberists album I listened to was 2009’s rock opera The Hazards of Love. With its songs about fawns transforming into princes, pregnancy, forest queens, and drowning, I didn’t expect to be as into it as I was. It was complicated, obtuse, and kind of awesome. Mostly, it felt like the kind of album that simply isn’t made anymore. In an age of singles and torrents, it feels impossibly old-fashioned to create what amounted to a 55-minute song with track divisions thrown in. As I dug into their discography, I discovered that Hazards is something of a logical conclusion to their entire career. They’ve always flirted with prog rock and unrealistically long song suites, and Colin Meloy’s love of florid language and violent imagery creates a bizarre alternate world where music took its main inspiration from lit majors. Continue reading


Tobias, you blowhard!

There’s got to be a better way to say that…

Arrested Development is in a three-horse race (along with The Simpsons and Lost) for the coveted prize of “Nate’s Favorite TV Show.” For anyone who has spent any time on the internet in the past three months or so, you know that it has returned to Netflix for a fourth season, dropping all at once in a fifteen-episode chunk. I don’t think it had been live for 36 hours before I was already reading people who were declaring it terrible and something that basically ruined the series forever. Continue reading

Novel Ideas

Tonight I had a minor brush with fame, when I went to a book signing with Patrick Rothfuss. For those who aren’t as cool as me, he’s the  author of The Kingkiller Chronicles, one of my favorite fantasy series. I found out on Monday that he would be at a local bookstore in Overland Park, so I blew off game night and hightailed it over there to hear him give a reading and a little Q&A. Continue reading

Voice in the Crowd

Some of you may be familiar with Rab Florence, who writes a column called Cardboard Children over at Rock Paper Shotgun. Rab is a gifted writer who used to produce a delightful bunch of video reviews in a series called Downtime Town. Anyway, yesterday he posted an article called Change or Die, in which he covered a lot of ground, but mainly wondered about how we promote games to other people, and if we’re really very good at explaining why games are worth caring about in the first place. One section in particular stuck out to me: Continue reading

Shelter From the Storm

On Sunday night, as thunder rattled our windows, I waxed emotional about my own memories of tornado watches and thunderstorms as a child. But the events of yesterday afternoon in Moore, OK, rendered everything I wrote pretty much meaningless. While I was waiting for comments and views on what I thought was a decent little piece, an actual real tornado was destroying an actual real town, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Continue reading

Bring Your Machete – Tobago Review

Tobago box cover

I spy with my little eye…

Periodically I look at my game shelf to see if there’s anything I feel I could part with, either in a sale or in trade. It’s a way for me to ensure that games I don’t play don’t sit gathering dust. Whenever I do this, I’m a little surprised to see that yes, I still own Tobago. It’s not that Tobago is a bad game. Actually it’s pretty great, creative and accessible. But it sometimes feels like it was released, enjoyed for a while, and then largely abandoned. Once or twice I’ve toyed with moving it off of my shelf and on to someone else, but then I play it again and remember why I own it in the first place. Continue reading