Monday, March 14, 2011

A Few Of My (New) Favorite Things


What does Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan, Korean Fast Food franchise Kyochon, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone's The Book of Mormon all have in common? If you guessed that they all have the same amount of syllables, A) you'd technically be wrong, because the "the" in The Sirens of Titan give it six instead of the five the others have and B) syllables, seriously? You think I'd bother writing about that? What's wrong with you? On the other hand...hold that thought for a minute.

The correct answer is that they're all awesome, and discovered by me just this past week! Some are old (Sirens, which is over 50 years old, yet so timeless it's no wonder Vonnegut is still so popular today, and I know realize some of my favorite movies/shows over the years [Memento, Lost] have been influenced by his work), some are new (Mormon, while currently still in previews, is an amazing production that outshines anything I've personally ever seen on Broadway) and some are just savory, succulent delicious morsels of ambrosia hand crafted by the Gods to bring about an orgasmic dance of tasting pleasure on top of our unworthy mortal tongues (Kyochon, makers of delightful chicken wings).

Road cone on the dome means its time to segue to PAX talk.
Yes, it was a fantastic week of discovery for me that began with above mentioned items and ended with perhaps my favorite discovery of the past few years, PAX, or the Penny Arcade Expo. And wouldn't you know it - my week of great new discoveries continued throughout the time I was there.

This shirt wins biggest smile-inducing product of the show from me.
Actually, no. This game about driving around a racetrack attacking each other and killing pedestrians wins.
What's amazing about PAX for me is that every time I've gone I've had really different experiences and yet, they've all been incredibly fun. The first year I spent attending tons of panels on the game industry, seeing live podcasts being recorded by game critics I follow back at home, attending the concerts, and trying to play some of the latest upcoming games, and meeting tons of people on the many lines that form for these events. The second year I wound up focusing on playing more video games - discovering lesser known indie titles titles, and spending a large amount of time just renting game systems or busting out my DS and playing it with friends during a good part of the day. This year without even planning it, I wound up mostly playing board games* with friends, which is quickly becoming my new favorite form of gaming. Like any good game, PAX can accommodate any and all kinds of player, even totally hip, trend-setting, ever-evolving ones like myself.

I got complemented on my "reaction work" here. I do think I convey: "Jesus! I'm being grabbed by a giant monster - why are you just standing there HELP ME!!" pretty well.

In the 'notes' section on the back, I made it a point to write: "total slut!"
I jumped into my first Dungeons and Dragons game in about 15 years while I was there, which was a total blast. I got to play an uncharismatic, dense but powerful female dwarf named Eldeth. My favorite moment of role-playing came right as the mission came to a close, when, after slaying a vicious ice dragon in a long, arduous battle, I asked, as Eldeth (if you've never played D&D before, half the fun is really playing your character): "Would eating this dragon's heart give me any kind power?" Before the DM had a chance to answer I quickly followed up, saying: "It doesn't matter. I eat it anyway."

That day we gained friendship, experience, and 56 golds coins a piece.
Did someone say cosplay? No, no one did? Well, I'm still sticking this here.
What stayed consistent during this trip is that every time I go to PAX I make new friends who are all friendly, quirky, and super excited to be amongst peers. They're all also happy to spend and entire 72+ hour weekend thinking about, talking about, and course, playing games. And that's ultimately what will keep me going back again and again.

Tonight I go see my good friend Justin Moran's production of The Spidey Project - a Spider-Man musical written, scored, and produced in less than 30 days, and made on a budget of $0, opening right before what was once the theoretical opening night of the $63 million dollar budgeted actual Spider-Man Musical. I have a feeling this show will round out my week (well, 8 days, technically) of memorable new discoveries very nicely.

Sirens of Titan and Kyochon Chicken,
Phantom Detective* and The Book of Mormon,
Penny Arcade and all the fun it brings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

This entire blog post, by the way, was just an excuse to justify writing out that not-quite-perfectly-rhyming diddy.

-Matt


PS: I played Dance Central for the first time at PAX and foolishly asked someone to record me playing. I almost didn't share this because I think I'm a terrible dancer (and a shame to my Latin heritage), playing a video game or not, but on the other hand, just last week I shared a video of me re-enacting the introduction to Space Ace, so what the hell:




*Look for a more in-depth post soon on all the new board games I discovered.
*This is a super fun DS game I bought for my trip to PAX. Haven't beaten it yet, but so far it's really great.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Regularly Hit By The Infanto Ray

I've forgotten the names of almost every teacher I had in 16 years of school.

I can't recall most of the material taught to me in math and science post-4th grade or so.

There was a time when I spoke a very basic form of Spanish. This is no longer the case.

I know for a fact that I read the entirety of Johnny Tremain, The Scarlet Letter, and Hamlet. And yet, all I can recall is the shit I knew before I even read them (messed up hand, adultery, and lots of murdering)

And yet, without a moment's hesitation, I'm able to recall this at will:



Did I consciously choose to remember that over everything else? Or does my brain decide on its own every year while doing its annual spring cleaning, that this is just too precious to be thrown away?

-Matt

The actual introduction to the 1984 laser disc arcade game Space Ace, in case you're interested in knowing what the hell I was just spouting: