Today’s news chum brings you three articles all related to media and music, in some form:
- A Grand Park. Last Sunday, we took Metro to the Ahmanson. When we got out downtown, there was this wonderful party going on in the new Grand Park. There were people enjoying themselves to free music, kids rocking out on their dad’s shoulders. There were food trucks and kids playing in fountains. Only later did I find out what it was: Sunday Sessions at Grand Park. I must say that it was delightful, and it was really neat to see my city doing this.
- Dr. Demento. Growing up, I regularly listened to Dr. Demento on KMET (followed by Flo’ and Eddie by the Fireside). The Daily News has a nice article on what the good doctor is doing today. It discusses the death of novelty records, and the ability to do anything “novel” on radio today. The doctor, not surprisingly, has moved to internet broadcasts. He’s using a paid subscription model, and I’m not sure novelty records would be enough to entice me.
- Surviving Games. Here’s an interesting idea: Someone is bringing together reality TV stars from Survivor and Big Brother… to play boardgames. The notion, developed by a former Survivor player turned podcaster, is to take some of the top players and pit them against each other. This could be entertaining…. but the game they have chosen is Risk (bleh). To my eyes, it would be much more interesting to bring these people together and have them play Diplomacy. Watching these players take their skills at strategy and negotiation (as well as alliances) could be quite entertaining. I’ve always viewed Survivor as a real life version of that game. But Risk? That’s just dice rolling.
- Bad Reviews. I’ve written in the past how bad reviews can be entertaining. Given that we have a new M. Night Shyamalan movie, expect to be entertained — not by the movie, but by the reviews. The LA Times says, of “After Earth”: “There is no small irony that this sci-fi action adventure is about surviving a serious crash. The scorched earth left behind by “After Earth” is sure to leave a scar on everyone involved.”. It gets better. How about: “Speaking of overkill, flashbacks, thousands of them, become things to be feared as much as any space alien.” Or perhaps “As Gen. Cypher Raige, Smith has never seemed stiffer, like Patton without the personality. It’s as if his Ranger suit were two sizes too small and he’s trying to just deal with it.” The reviews conclusion? “If you’re still wondering whether “After Earth” is a disaster, the question is not if, but how big?” If you were thinking that’s just one review, here’s what the Atlantic has to say: “So I feel it’s incumbent on me to note that with his latest offering, After Earth,the writer-director seems to have arrested his precipitous decline. This movie is no worse than his last two.”
To close out our lunchtime news chum for the week, here are a few articles about some unexpected changes reported in this week’s news:
- Free Checking. We all know TANSTAAFL, meaning that “free” checking usually isn’t. As opposed to providing checking and imposing a lot of fees after the fact, some banks are now starting with a basic products and letting the customer build the features they want to add, which determines the monthly cost. The article calls it ala-carte checking, but I see it more as transparency about what you are getting.
- National Cathedral. In light of decisions in MD and DC regarding same sex marriage, the National Cathedral has announced it will perform same-sex ceremonies. Good! This truly demonstrates that public commitment to one’s partner(s), same sex or different, is what is mainstream, and that the old ideas are just like old bread that has been left out too long. In a related article, the Marines have ordered spouses clubs on base to accept the partners of same-sex military couples, even though they are private clubs. Say what you will about the military: The Marines have been exemplary in implementing the repeal of DADT. Basically, the government said to accept gays; it’s goverment policy, we do it. Gotta admire that.
- Housing Sales. We’ve all been hearing the housing market is picking up a little. Even more interesting is the fact that the number of short sales is outpacing the number of foreclosures, at least here in SoCal. This is demonstrating to banks that it is cheaper to move the property to a new owner in good condition, speedily, than all the hassles and damage of foreclosure. There’s even activity in Vegas on this.
- Token Changes. Monopoly is running a survey to choose some new tokens for the Monopoly game, and to get rid of some. I think it is a publicity stunt; after all, who plays Monopoly?
- Happy Books. An interesting change here: In the UK, McDonalds has replaced the toys in Happy Meals with books. I think we should push for that in the US!
- The Chinese Theatre. Turns out the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre may soon be named… by the Chinese. It appears that TCL, a Chinese Firm, has just bought the naming rights for the Grauman’s Chinese for more than $5 million. It will now be called the TCL Chinese, and the money will be used for a slew of infrastructure improvements, such as repairing the concrete in front of the theatre that a bunch of people walked through when it was wet. As an aside, I’m actually distantly related to the Grauman family.
- Hidden Menus. We all know about the hidden menu at In-N-Out. Did you know there was one at Panera? It emphasizes low carbs, and by the looks of it, might be good for the gluten-free folks.
- Setting an Example. And for our last unexpected change. Allyn Rose is the contestant from DC for Miss America, which is announced Saturday. Win or lose, due to her family history of breast cancer, she plans on getting a double mastectomy right after the competition. She’s 24, and her mother found her first lump at 27. The disease took her mother, grandmother, and great aunt. In some ways, I hope she wins: it will truly demonstrate that it is not the body that makes Miss America, it is the person.
Today’s lunch time news chum brings together a collection of articles all having to do with games and amusements (as opposed to gaming the system — I may have an article on that tomorrow):
- A Granddaddy of Gaming. One of my many hobbies is the history of Las Vegas–especially the early days of the strip. Thus I was interested to see an article in the Las Vegas Sun about Jackie Gaughan. While not one of the founders, he’s one of the few people from the early days still arounds. He’s owned numerous casinos on and off the strip, and has been a vital element in the revitalization of downtown Vegas as the long time owner of the El Cortez. Fascinating article, well worth reading.
- Behind the Scenes. An interesting profile piece in the LA Times this weekend looked at a key player in the amusement park industry that you rarely hear about: Bud Hurlbut. Hurlbut operated a workshop in Buena Park that built and refurbished carousels, miniature train rides, antique car rides and countless accessories destined for amusement parks around the world–including rides at Knotts. Hurlbut died recently, and his shop is being sold off so that the city can build on the property. It is fascinating to read about all that this craftsman built.
- Chess. As we’re talking about pieces built for parks, it is worth noting that the world’s largest chess piece has gone on display in St. Louis MO. It is of a king, it is 14.5 feet high, and weighs 2,280 pounds. It has been installed in front of the World Chess Hall of Fame, which is also in St. Louis for what I’m sure must be a good reason.
P.S.: Appropos of nothing, simply because a like it: A recipe for avgolomono soup.
Music: Dixieland Cajun Style (Red Nichols): My Melancholy Baby
Today, I visited my stepmother, and it got me thinking…. about gaming for good.
The backstory is that a few weeks ago (shortly before our trip to Berkeley), my stepmother had a small stroke. She’s going to have a full recovery, but is still in the hospital, hopefully being released next week. Today was the first chance I got to visit her. I’m pleased to see that she’s doing well: she’s talking — a bit slower than normal and its harder to find the words — and she’s moving — again, a bit slower than normal. We went with her to speech and cognitive therapy, and that’s where this post began to form in my head.
The exercises they had her doing were very similar to a lot of games. She was attempting to match shapes and fill spaces. She was completing sentences and writing words. I talked to the therapist a bit, and she agreed that a number of games could be very good for this. To my mind, games such as the ones in the Blokus family would be great, as might card games such as Coloretto or Set, as well as classics such as Scrabble or Clue. I’m trying to think of accessible games–especially those that might be found at a Target or Barnes and Noble.
So I did some searching on Boardgame Geek and came up with other ideas, such as Rapid Recall, Apples to Apples, Qwirkle, Rummikube, or even classics like Boggle or Stratego.
This is why I love the boardgaming world. We’re not just the gigantic hex-grid games of old, or the dumb roll-and-move games. Boardgaming can provide games that will help people and challenge their brains. I welcome your suggestions in this thread of other games.
Music: tick… tick… Boom! (2001 Off-Broadway Cast): No More
This is a reminder that the
TAS Men’s Club Men of TAS is hosting doing a family gaming (i.e., boardgaming) afternoon on Sunday, 1/22, at Ahavat Shalom in Northridge. The event is free; we’ll have some snacks available for a nominal charge (plus we’re likely to order in something if there is enough interest).
If you are into boardgaming, word games, or other non-electronic games… and you aren’t gamed out by the Games Day on Saturday, then I encourage you to come on over. I’d love to see you, and we can use people who know games to help teach games.
So remember, boardgaming at TAS on Sunday, starting around 1130am. Exit Route 118 at Reseda, go E on Rinaldi to Chimineas, make a right, and we’re on the other side of the bridge.
Music: Company (2006 Broadway Revival) (Company): Opening
This is a reminder that our quasi-annual New Years Eve Boardgaming Party will be (duh) on New Years Eve. I’ve sent out invitations to local folk (i.e., Southern California) and potentially local folk who I thought would be interested. If you’ve seen the invitation, we hope you can make it — please let me know by commenting/responding in an appropriate place. If you’re in SoCal and might be interested, please contact me for specifics. Note: As this version of the post is public, I do reserve the right not to provide specifics if I have absolutely no idea who you are (so introduce yourself :-)).
Music: Folk Era Live Sampler (The Clancy Brothers): Finnegan’s Wake