This song is not a rebel song – Under A Blood Red Sky (1983)

I’ve heard it said that great rock bands all need one really good live album. I’m not sure I agree with that, since a lot of bands like the Beatles never really had one, and because live performance is becoming a little less relevant as a way to gain notoriety. But U2 is the sort of band whose live shows are even enjoyed by people who don’t like them, so it seems like a very strange oversight that they don’t have a proper live collection. They have released DVDs of their last several tours, several live EPs, and a sort-of-live album in Rattle And Hum. There’s also a little known album called Hasta La Vista Baby, which is an edited portion of the Mexico City live show from the Popmart tour, itself already on DVD. But that one is mostly a fan club offering, so the closest we have to a proper U2 live album is Under A Blood Red Sky, and even it’s just an EP. Continue reading

A Marvel-ous World

If you have any kind of nerdy interests at all, you have probably already seen the announcement about the next five years of Marvel’s cinematic universe. They announced a whopping nine movies in that time frame, culminating in 2018 and 2019 with an enormous two-part Avengers movie adapting the Infinity War arc. The release schedule is as relentless as it’s ever been, dropping two movies in most years. The announcement didn’t even include Ant-Man and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which are both bowing in 2015. Continue reading

High Adventures in High Finance – Acquire Retrospective

Playing Acquire is a little like meeting a fifty-year-old man who can outrun a bunch of twenty-somethings. Rather than showing its age, Sid Sackson’s classic feels as relevant today as ever. It’s a true evergreen title, one that has seen numerous publishers but has remained essentially unchanged since 1964. It’s one of only two hobby games, along with Settlers of Catan, that I can set up with just about any gaming group and never have to explain. I only ever have to teach it to people who don’t usually play games, and even then it’s intuitive enough to pick up quickly and challenging enough to entertain after decades. Continue reading

The Moon Is Out – One Night Ultimate Werewolf Review

There is no genre of game with which I have quite the same love-hate relationship as traitor games. Part of this is just plain old burnout, since it’s a popular genre over the last several years and one that frequently is trotted out in large groups. The other part is that it’s a difficult genre to do well. It embraces a specific player personality, so they often struggle to be fun for someone besides the most outgoing and verbal person at the table. It’s also tricky to nail the right complexity level. Too much mechanical flourish, and the social component is stifled in a miasma of rules questions, as sometimes happened in heavily-expanded games of Battlestar Galactica. Not enough structure and they meander pointlessly, like the senseless Are You The Traitor? Continue reading

Takes a second to say goodbye – War (1983)

The normal history of U2 points to a couple of radical reinventions, usually after the overwrought Rattle and Hum, and then again after the muted response to Pop. But U2 is a band very sensitive to what they need to do, correcting course when they feel they’ve reached the end of a creative well. The first time they did this was after the mushy October, with the blistering attack of War. Rather than chiming guitars, the listener is greeted by a blast of martial drumbeats in “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Songs rarely meander, instead surging forward with an energy that finally delivers on the most intense moments of the first two albums. U2 has released several great albums, but I would call War their first masterpiece. Continue reading

Planet Chudyk – Impulse Review

The last two designs from Carl Chudyk were both, in their own way, brilliant. Glory to Rome built on the groundwork laid by San Juan to create a nuanced production game, probably one of the best card games of the last ten years. Innovation was even more extraordinary, a game that spoke to how ideas and inventions unbalance and dictate the flow of history. Now Chudyk turns his eye toward a broader genre of hobby games: space empires. The most visible entry into this genre is the enormous Twilight Imperium, but recent years have brought other entries like Eclipse and the well-received reprint of Cosmic Encounter. But the new game, Impulse, is a different animal altogether. Even while it fulfills we expect from the genre, it breaks countless design rules to create something fresh and interesting, if a little difficult. Continue reading

Gloria in te domine – October (1981)

October is one of two U2 albums to go largely unacknowledged by the band (the other being 1997’s Pop). It came out in 1981 to a middling response, and it’s gotten short shrift in all of the U2 best-of collections. In fact its only appearance was the title track in the 1980-1990 collection, and even that was a hidden track. It also hasn’t seen a lot of concert performances since the mid-1980s, when they finally had enough songs to ignore it. Continue reading

Haters Gonna Hate

Today Weezer released a new album,  their first in four years. For those wondering, the new album is actually pretty good. It’s not a new masterpiece, but it’s unreasonable to expect a band to release nothing but masterpieces. Given the bizarre nature of Weezer albums in the last ten years, I’d say that “good” is commendable. This seems to be the general consensus on the album, including a surprisingly positive review from Pitchfork. In a piece that maps closely to my own feelings, the following passage stuck out to me: Continue reading

Review – Every Mario Kart 8 Track


It’s a common misconception that unemployment means you are looking for a job, and that’s what you’re doing. The truth is that this is only a portion of what you do. In my case a big part of unemployment has been occupied by caring forpreschoolers and wondering why 4-year-old boys are so insane. Then there are thetimes spent polishing resumes, applying for jobs, following up, stuff like that. The rest of that time has basically been taken up eating, sleeping, and playing Mario Kart 8. Continue reading