Playing Gods: A Satirical Game about Religious Warfare

March 13, 2009

My fiancee and I just got our hands on a copy of Playing Gods, a game developed by skeptic and atheist Ben Radford.

We were listening to a Skepticality podcast (#95) on the way back from visiting my parents and they interview him, during which he mentions his board game.

We stopped by a Fantasy Shop games store on the way back as well, partly because I needed to do more Watchmen promoting and partly because I needed more dice for my recently acquired 1st edition dnd books. When we walked in, we saw this bad mama-jamma:

Buddah totally has a Minigun

Buddah totally has a Minigun

Gameplay

The game features a very simple playstyle, with players taking turns going around the board trivial-pursuit style, collecting cards that can either destroy or convert followers. Whoever converts half the globe, or destroys all other gods, wins the game.

There is a small amount of strategy in the game, not as much as Settlers of Catan, but more than Zombies!!!. That said, it keeps board game nerds, like myself, interested enough during the short run of the game (45 minutes), but offers enough randomness for players looking for a fun departure from more mundane board games.
 
Final Thoughts

A few situations can become repetitive. Such as players going back and forth trying to get a wrath/conversion card to progress the game. But all in all, I would recommend this game for anyone who wants a game they can pull out every once in awhile for fun.

I wouldn’t recommend it for more frequent play. Nobody is going to be seeing any Playing Gods tournaments pop up any time soon.

Christ in the midst of beating Buddah

Christ in the midst of beating Buddah

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A Contact Juggling Story in HD

February 22, 2009

I have a new Contact Juggling video up and running, A Contact Juggling Story. The video was filmed in 720p using my new Kodak EasyShare M1033 I mentioned in my Digital Camera Buying Guide. The idea was simple, a contact juggling video with a sufficient plot to be enjoyable by jugglers and nonjugglers alike. Also, most CJ videos involve dancing, and I can’t dance. I hope you enjoy the video.

If you would like to see the video in HD, click the link below when it loads click the link that says, “Watch in HD.”

A Contact Juggling Story [HD]


Learn to Contact Juggle: Finger Roll, Squeeze Ups and Practice

August 8, 2008

It’s a two-video bonanza for today’s post, you get not only a tutorial video, but a second video to illustrate the importance of practice.

Finger Roll and Squeeze Ups

Two things to note before watching the video. One is to never actually squeeze the ball into the up position. It’s too difficult with sticky balls, like Stage Balls, and it looks terrible. A real squeeze-up is a progression of a finger roll, with you placing your fingers below the ball. In the video, I use the word, “Squeezeup” as a verb a lot, which can be confusing, since I’m telling you not to squeeze the ball. Sorry about that. I’m American. I verb everything.

Practice Sessions

Getting the most out of your practice sessions is essential to making any substantial progress. Be sure to stretch your muscles before begin to prevent strain and injury. Also, try warming up with moves you know fairly well before progressing into more difficult territory. I like to warm up with juggling balls, but anything will work.

Another key to a good practice session is to know how much you are progressing. You  can do this by keeping a mental note, such as “I couldn’t do a butterfly on the 18th, but it’s the 25th and now I only drop half the time” or by recording a video. I like video, because it lets me see myself progress throughout several clips. I can also see if I’m doing anything terribly wrong, or if an audience would have trouble seeing the move.

That’s all for now, but remember to keep praticing and you’ll make substantial progress in no time.


Dark Knight Batmobile and Batpod Pictures

July 4, 2008

The actual, real Batmobile and Batpod used in filming The Dark Knight made visits to 14 cities around the United States, and a St Louis Wehrenberg Theater was one of them!

Alright, I’m about to geek-out. Prepare yourself.

OMG THE BATMOBILE.

OMG THE BATMOBILE.

Smaller than I thought it was going to be.

Smaller than I thought it was going to be.

Even the trailer was cool.

Even the trailer was cool.

I’m really excited about The Dark Knight, midnight shows will be on 7/17.


Learn a Complicated Contact Juggling Move

June 10, 2008

Take a few minutes today and learn a very complicated looking Contact Juggling move, the Two Handed Crossed Up Isolation. It’s a great first step into the world of contact juggling, and since the cross-up iso is easy to pick up, it’s a quick carrot to grab.

As far as updates go, well, I know they have been kind of slack, but I should be able to retain my schedule for the foreseeable future.


Nail, Meet Coffin: Toshiba Drops HD-DVD

February 17, 2008

Edit: It’s more official-er, Toshiba has issued a press release.

It’s finally official, Toshiba has dropped HD-DVD, so what happens next? Well, that’s a question many are asking. We’ll take a quick look at each aspect of the Toshiba HD-DVD industry to get a better idea of what’s to come.Bring out your dead.

Movies
If you own an HD-DVD player, then this is probably a pretty good scenario for you, despite how it sounds at first. There are hundreds of HD titles available, and within the coming months, they will hit rock bottom prices. In theory, you’ll be able to fill an entire movie library for $100.

PC
The internal PC high definition drive market really hasn’t been much of a format war. This is widely due to home theater enthusiasts not only requiring the expensive drive, but also an expensive video card capable of displaying high definition content. At which point, it makes far more sense to purchase a stand alone device.

The final nail in the PC coffin was the lack of any PC software requiring users to purchase the drives. Remember, CDROM drives weren’t sold based off the assumption that the emerging technology was “better” than floppy diskettes, they were sold because of Myst.

Don’t believe such software could push a product today? Microsoft Windows Vista’s sales increased after the release of Halo 2 for the PC. A game that required DirectX 10, which is only available under Vista. Funny, considering Halo 2 was an Xbox game, a DirectX 7 device.

Xbox 360
Microsoft has long been a strong supporter of the HD-DVD standard, arguably due to a nameless competitor using the rival format, Bluray. However, they never went so far as to embed the HD-DVD drive into their own system, only selling it as an accessory to home theater enthusiasts. This was a risky move by Microsoft that has definitely paid off.

Toshiba
The bottom line for Toshiba is a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. However, for a company with 200,000 employees this isn’t going to be a death rattle by any stretch. Toshiba’s sales are incredibly diversified, and the company is sure to bounce back strong. They have always been a consumer product and PC manufacturer, and will continue to do so well into the future.


Tackling the First Sentence

February 15, 2008

The importance of the first sentence in a body of work, whether a political blog or a novel, can not be overstated. However important, it is very easy to misunderstand the goal of the first sentence. Instead of going on and on about what you should and shouldn’t do, we will learn together by picking apart some of the first sentences of the world’s best storytellers.

Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
“The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.”

This sentence tells us about the setting, the main character and what to expect of the narrative. We know the story begins at night, within a half-days travel of London, the outlook of the main character, and that the narrative is in third person and past tense. This is a generic example, but it’s also a fine example of a developed world. Richard Mayhew and the world around him are alive.

Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron
“The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal.”

There are many things we don’t know about the story from this first sentence, and yet it tells us more than the previous example. We know it’s set in the future and in past tense, we don’t know who the main character is or what perspective the story is in. But the emphasis on how the world is equal “finally” gives us an idea of the story’s tone, narrative, plot and scope. All in one word.

Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler
“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.”

Arguably, the most important goal of a first sentence is to hook the reader, which Italo Calvino does flawlessly. This story, at least in its first chapter, is in second person, and it is about you, the reader, attempting to finish the book. The book itself is infinitely complicated, but the first sentence contains enough information to tell the reader where the work is heading.

Give it a Shot
As a mental excercise, go grab a couple books. One that you have read and one that you don’t know much about. Write down the first sentence from each and see how much information you can glean from the narrative. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun as I do when I pick up a book.