Dang, a lot has gone on over the last week. I have two highlights from Confluence that I've been meaning to post since I went there this weekend. Here's the first one: Mikey Mason, a nerd comic musician. He put on a damn good show, with a bunch of great songs, and I highly recommend seeing him play if you ever get the chance. He's got one song in particular that is by far his most popular, and while the musician in me who cringes at the thought of being known primarily for That One Song it tempted to post something more obscure for your listening pleasure, no, this was the first song of his that I heard, and dang it's just too much fun not to share (with apologies for the bleeped out swearing, which I guess makes it more SFW but drives me nuts):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M60zW_Mfm58
Hey folks! Some people what I know (and who you may know too) are doing a nerd culture podcast called Foxes in the Hen House​. It's quite good, and you should listen/like/subscribe and all that!

I'm not usually a fan of the "people sit around and talk about stuff" genre, but this group has a broad enough set of interests, a different enough POV from the usual, and good enough chemistry with each other that I've been really enjoying it.

(note: if you know the people involved, they're intentionally keeping last names out of it, so please like and share, but don't tag with personal accounts)

http://soundcloud.com/foxesinthehenhouse
M and I are getting a new couch, which means that my long-serving futon is seeking a new home. It would break my heart a little to see it go to waste, so I'm willing to give it away for free or some help with the cost of the truck we'll be renting to pick up its replacement, which could be used to bring it to you if you're in the Camberville area. Delivery would be this coming Thursday evening.

This is not a cheap Ikea thing, but a solid, all-wood frame with optional head/footboard (not pictured) and a top of the line (when I got it many years ago) mattress designed to rival any bed mattress. The mattress is showing its age a bit, but if you've ever sat on the "couch" at our place you'll know it's still perfectly comfy, and we both still sleep on it regularly.

Interested? Ping me!




You wanna know how good a video game critic Noah Gervais is? He made me want to play a Call of Duty game. After listening to him talk for 2 hours about Call of Duty games. For real.

If you like thoughtful commentary about games as art, cultural objects, *and* y'know, just games, do yourself a favor and put on one of his videos while you do the dishes or something. They're long, but worthwhile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvN51r1o1Nc

See also: his excellent retrospective of the Half Life franchise (and pretty much everything else on his channel)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih1Q2DasYTQ
Hey Bostonish people! Because I don't know what's good for me, I'm going to be playing with two bands back to back (to back to back, in four 30ish minute sets) at this year's Somerville porchfest!

Wanna hear more from that album Stranger Ways previewed at Arisia a couple of years ago? Yes, except for a year off while Nat was out of state, we've been working on it since then. Now guest-starring Kara of Sassafrass fame!

Wanna be the first to hear "Escape to Danger!", where I team up with Andy Hicks​ on some of his amazing songs?

Wanna see me drop dead if it decides to be summer that day?

We'll be at 258 Willow Ave from 4-6pm this Saturday, along with a bunch of other local bands playing throughout Somerville all day!!

For details, maps, and band listings see http://somervilleartscouncil.org/porchfest/map/2015

See you there!
usernamenumber: (kitsch)

To be honest, I've never been a big fan of The IT Crowd, where I think most people know Richard Ayoade as the guy who plays Moss. My first exposure to him was Garth Merenghi's Darkplace, a fake 1980s horror TV show that was in no way inspired by anything Stephen King ever did, provides a perfect example of how you have to be really good at something to do it really, really badly on purpose. It's brilliant.

I'd thought he was just a member of the supporting cast on that show, but it turns out he also co-created and co-wrote the thing. The more you know! This got me looking for more of his stuff, which led me to...


  • This supplemental Darkplace documentary, which is actually a good place to start with the show, since it's entirely made up of "behind the scenes" interviews with the "actors" that give Darkplace its... "charm".

  • Man to Man with Dean Lerner, a spinoff in which Richard Ayoade plays the guy who plays his Dakplace character, publishing mogul Dean Lerner, doing an interview show. I've only seen the first episode (with special guest Garth Merenghi), but it's laugh-out-loud brilliant, especially if it's as improvised as it looks.

  • And finally, my current background TV obsession, Gadget Man in which Richard Ayoade demonstrates that he is good enough at both writing and delivering wry commentary to keep me glued to episode after episode of what is essentially a live-action SkyMall catalogue. I have been blowing through this series while I do chores and whatnot, and even though I feel like kinduva tool for it (it really is basically a giant ad for Stuff, presumably sponsored by the Stuff Council of Britain), I am so very, very hooked.

Also, thanks to Gadget Man, I can now pronounce his name. Bonus!

I'm curious how many people got it, and how easily. Not to sound cocky but the answer was pretty obvious to me, and I'm wondering if it's the kind of thing that benefits from "thinking like a programmer" (and no, I can't quite articulate what I mean by that in this context), or if it's something more general.

https://twitter.com/Singtel/status/587574912757342208/photo/1
You go, kid. Let the animals stand up and be happy. :) *sniff*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQIMJ648qgg
Fun fact for today: if you search YouTube for "<game I like> post-mortem" you have a good chance of finding in-depth talks by the developers about what went on behind the scenes. There's a good one for Maniac Mansion, and here's Portal 2, which has some really fascinating stuff:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLqk4aqpXlQ
March 19th (tonight!), 20, 21, 27, and 28 in Davis Square, The Post-Meridian Radio Players​ present their Spring Adventure Spectacular, featuring original live radio adaptations of The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Mysterious Traveler, featuring at least one, maybe more, super sleuths who are mysterious! Details and tickets at http://pmrp.org/events/sas15

Next week on March 26th, for one night only, Theatre@First​ will be doing staged readings of two short plays: "Like a Loss", a new piece from the Mrs. Hawking universe by Phoebe Roberts​ (I'm in the cast for that one, too!), and "The Wheel" written by Zinnie Harris, a British playwright, and directed by Jess Viator​, returned to the states after studying in the UK (I'm guessing these facts are not unrelated). Details and tickets for that one are at: http://www.theatreatfirst.org/shows/bare_bones/BB16_at_war/BB16_at_war.shtml
A while back I posted about the awesome and thought-provoking "Parable of the Polygons" interactive post by Nicky Case and Vi Hart. It seems there's an established term for these now, "explorable explanations", and Nicky Case has started a site collecting them at

http://explorableexplanations.com/

More than that, by poking around there I found a really cool looking toolkit aimed at making it easier to create such things, and I am totally ed-tech nerding out about it at the moment.

http://worrydream.com/Tangle/

If you're an ed-tech person, or a designer who isn't afraid of some relatively simple and very well-explained code, take a look!

Everyone else, check out some of the stuff at explorableexplanations.com. To me, these things are a super-exciting reminder of just how much untapped potential technology still has for creating new kinds of engaging and effective learning content!

If you haven't seen it yet, The Parable of the Polygons is a great place to start, both because it's an excellent example of the use of this kind of technology and because it's a very effective demonstration of some very important stuff!

http://ncase.me/polygons/
Sharing in hopes that people with a functioning sense of empathy might actually outnumber idiots who make me want to punch something, in the readership if not the comments.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/04/im-a-12-year-old-girl-why-dont-the-characters-in-my-apps-look-like-me/
I am a phenomenally lucky person. I am engaged to a most excellent partner, I make a good living doing things I enjoy, and I have more fun and interesting extracurriculars than I know what to do with.

...and yet, sometimes I feel like all I really want in life is to be this man. Y'know?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUtTkA9eZas

...well ok, to be that guy and have all the other stuff too, really.
Tonight I went from an email about Mike Nelson selecting some of his favorite episodes of Rifftrax and putting them up on sale, to reporting a bug in the Rifftrax website that was preventing me from purchasing one of them, to wondering what Joel Hodgson is up to nowadays to learning that he invented this device, and also that Nina Conti is really funny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4BB1TZcO_o

Thank you, Internet. Thank you.


...ooh! Also, hello next thing I am totally reading.
http://www.wired.com/2014/04/mst3k-oral-history/
usernamenumber: (bugman)
One of the pre-con events this year was a special LARP edition of Author Improv, an event I've had the pleasure of running at other cons in the past. In Author Improv, a panel of brave writers take turns collaboratively creating a story (or in this case a character sheet) based on prompts from the audience.

I am pleased to say that, IMO, this year's event was both great fun to oversee and a rousing success! In fact, this may be one of the most coherent things I've seen come out of Author Improv. :)

So here, submitted for your enjoyment, is the first character sheet from the LARP, "Cats vs Dogs on an Asteroid". I will personally be a little disappointed if there hasn't been at least one attempt to actually write this game in full by next Intercon. :P

Special thanks to our authors!
- Dybbuk Q. Klezmer
- Phoebe Roberts
- Sarah J
- Sharone Horowit-Hendler

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1el2D59SzS2p25OGbZgXjhUeoA3fuVmgLIyVeBa5D3dE/pub
M and I have started doing an occasional Twitch stream. A couple weeks ago we played Long Live The Queen and hijinks were enjoyed until we died on account of not knowing enough about falconry. Anyhoo, tomorrow we expect to be blizzarded in, so we thought: why not let our friends laugh at us flailing around trying to date pigeons? Neither of us have ever played Hatoful Boyfriend before, but we both like birds, and we both like romance, so what could possibly go wrong, amirite?

If you too would like to join/mock us, subscribe to GamesEarlGreyHot to get a notification when we go live. :)

http://www.twitch.tv/gamesearlgreyhot
So there's this group called Watson Adventures that does art museum scavenger hunts, where teams follow a trail of clues to find pieces throughout the museum.

Today, Mindy, Raimi, Steph, and I did their their Valentine's day hunt (nudes-themed), and it was a buncha fun. Highly recommended, and not just because we totally won first place in terms of both points and speed and, if I do say so myself, totally had the best team name, too: "William Rimmer? We hardly know 'er!"

We shall now humbly accept your accolades. Thank you, thank you.

And seriously, if you're looking for a novel themed party or something, check them out!
http://watsonadventures.com
This your friendly, trying-not-to-be-too-preachy-about-it reminder of what "disposable" plastic forks, cups, bags, packaging, etc really means:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-ocean-debris-plastic-garbage-patches-science/

And yeah, it's great that the US is "only" the 20th worst offender, but there's still so much more room to do better. For example, carrying reusables instead of using "disposables"!

http://www.amazon.com/Collapsible-Silicone-Dishwasher-Container-Removable/dp/B00MTX6D98/
http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f463/?srp=1
Apparently this has been out for a while, but I missed it. A beautiful example of functional, technical art. It's thought-provoking, visually clever and appealing, and really shows how far we are from exhausting all the possibilities of web-based media. And did I mention thought-provoking? Also worth checking out, the developer's Patreon page (hint hint), which is linked at the bottom of the page, also has a really interesting and remarkably intimate 2014 in review video (short version: helluva year).

Anyway, seriously if you haven't seen it yet you should really check this out.

http://ncase.me/polygons/

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