It's Dai Time

Katie & Scott & Simon & Cecily.

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2014: and home before dark

Happy 2015! What a year it’s been. My children continue to grow – too quickly it feels. Simon and Cecily are both in some of preschool program now. Simon begins actual real live kindergarten in 2015, Cecily is able to sing several verses of Frozen songs, and I am wondering how much longer I can fool them into thinking that I’m cool.

Katie had an exciting year, too, punctuated by her appendix bursting on or around her birthday.

Now, quickly, before the champagne gets flat, let’s look at this past year through the lens of a few rash resolutions I made 365 days ago.

  • Balance the family budget.
    50% success. I got budgeting software early in the year to do this, and I didn’t keep up with it all year, but our finances changed such that we came out in the black in our annual report.
  • Brush up on programming enough to make a little game or project.
    Massive failure! Didn’t brush up. Didn’t make. I did some thinking about this, but no doing. Sad trombone.
  • Read a dozen books. This is my year, I feel it.
    Not quite, but better than last year. I think I got 7 this year, which is more than halfway there.
  • Never yell at Simon. Not once.
    Failure. This one’s really hard for me. I love my son, but boy does he know how to get my goat more than anyone else I’ve ever known. I should be better at this. I need to be better at this.

So that’s that. If we count the two half victories, I can give myself a generous 0.250 batting percentage. What about this year? Can we cross 0.300 and become a decent contact hitter?

  • Make 2 Twine Projects/Games – the interactive fiction system, not the material
  • Read 10 Books – a lesser goal, but still more than I’ve been reading
  • Get Abs – not like rock hard ones, but existent ones
  • Continue Roll the Dai – don’t stop believing
  • Count to 10 – before responding to my child’s behavior if I feel angry, unless of course, they’re like falling off a cliff, in which case catch them and then count to 10

Those all seem doable, right? I mean, maybe not the abs. All right all right all right list of stuff time. Hit me up on any social network except LinkedIn if you want to discuss or take umbrage to any of these.
Best Movie I Saw in Theaters: Big Hero 6
Best Movie I Saw in Theaters with Singing: Into the Woods
Best Movie I Saw in Theaters and Then Again and Again at Home: The LEGO Movie
Best Movie I Saw Because I’m an EA Employee: Need for Speed
Best Movie I Saw Because I’m Friends with Brain Kaiser: Transformers: Age of Extinction
Best Movie I Saw in a Plane Over the Pacific Ocean: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Movie I Saw Randomly on Netflix: In Bruges
Best TV Show (New): True Detective
Best TV Show (Old): Parks and Recreation
Best TV Show That Was Obviously Going to Get Canceled: Selfie
Best TV Show We Ended Up Watching Tons of on Netflix: Once Upon a Time
Best TV Show Second Season We Probably Should Be Watching Instead: House of Cards
Best TV Show Second Season We Actually Did Watch: Orange is the New Black
Best TV Show I’ve Been Meaning to Get Around to Watching: Jane the Virgin
Best TV Show Katie Watches Without Me Because I Got Bored of It: How to Get Away with Murder
Best TV Show to Keep Simon Entertained for Hours: Wild Kratts
Best Young Adult Book I Read: Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Best Book I Finally Read So I Can Finally Watch Season 1 Spoiler-Free: Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Best Literally the Only Music Album I Bought All Year: Taylor Swift, 1989
Best AAA Game: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Best Indie Game: Hexcells Infinite
Best Indie Game Post-Launch Update: Goat MMO Simulator
Best EA Game I Helped Make: The Sims 4
Best EA Game I Didn’t Help Make: Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
Best Game Where I Can Kind Of Be The Monkey King: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Best UGT Game: Mount Your Friends
Best Game According to Simon: Cat Mario (aka Super Mario 3D Land)
Best Singer of For the First Time in Forever: Cecily
Best Superhero Colorer: Simon

And keep your ears open for a special Scott Dai 2014 Podcast Roundup, which should appear on this very blog (and potentially various social networks other than LinkedIn) in audio form in a few days, once our main computer downstairs has a new power supply and is up and running again.

One midnight gone!
(See you next year.)

2013: mean and green (and over)

It’s another year, which means it’s finally time to write a blog entry about the past year. It’s time to recap what happened in list format, focusing of course on consumerist media and glossing over the things that really mattered emotionally, like our children’s milestones – the fact that Simon is actually a little human now in more than a simply biological sense and that Cecily infuriatingly refers to me either as “mommy” or “dolly” and is currently not napping even though she’s supposed to be darn it.

But first, let’s begin with everyone’s favorite part of the program (I know it certainly is mine!) and see how totally I failed this past year at resolution-keeping.

  • Write and “publish” a piece of interactive fiction each month.
    Massive Failure! This didn’t happen. At all.
  • Read a dozen books. Seriously. That’s not that many.
    Failure. I did better than last year, but not much. I think I read the first two books in the Dragon Tattoo series, along with a few odds and ends, but still probably never even reached the halfway point.
  • Come home in time for family dinner as often as possible.
    Success? Pat on the back to my past self for such a vaguely worded resolution that it’s hard to fail. Still, I felt like I worked later than I needed to more often than necessary.

Let’s move on! What’s up next, fair reader? What does 2014 hold for Scott’s Bound-for-Failure Resolution Wheel? Let’s give it a spin and find out where it lands.

  • Balance the family budget.
  • Brush up on programming enough to make a little game or project.
  • Read a dozen books. This is my year, I feel it.
  • Never yell at Simon. Not once.

That’s more things than last year. How can I possibly succeed? Maybe next year, one of my resolutions can be to not set myself up for failure. Alas, a man can dream.

Enough self-reflection. It’s time to turn our judgmental glares upon the stuff I watched, played, and barely read over the past year. Last year’s list format worked so well that I would be a fool to try something new. Here goes.

Best Movie I Saw in Theaters: Frozen
Best Movie I Saw in DBOX: Fast & Furious 6
Best Movie I Rented from Work: Les Miserables
Best Movie I Rented from Work and Didn’t Watch but Really Do Mean to Getting Around to Some Day: Argo
Best Movie I Bought on Black Friday Having Never Seen It Before: Pacific Rim
Best Movie I Didn’t See: Gravity
Best Movie in the Tinker Bell Series: Tinker Bell
Best New TV Show: Orange is the New Black
Best Old TV Show: Modern Family
Best New TV Show I Only Watched 2 Episodes Of: The Wrong Mans
Best TV Show to Keep Simon Entertained for Hours: Busytown Mysteries
Best TV Deal: Slurpees for Hulu Plus
Best Book I Read: Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
Best Book I Thought About Reading: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Best Book I Started Reading: Ready Player One
Best Thing Simon Said: “OK, girl, I’m going to flash you, OK?”
Best “Entertainment Weekly Best Album” Album I Bought: Same Trailer Different Park
Best “Entertainment Weekly Worst Album” Album I Bought: This is…Icona Pop
Best AAA Game: Bioshock Infinite
Best Indie Game: Guacamelee
Best Indie Game (Future): Starbound
Best Game According to Simon: The Cave
Best Game Where I Can Dress Up Like the Monkey King: Sleeping Dogs
Best Game for Making Me Think I’m Working on Sims Medieval: Desktop Dungeons
Best Game I Thought I Was Going to Dislike: Gone Home
Best Game I Bought Because of Peer Pressure: Spelunky
Best Game for Winning Free Bao from Brian Kaiser: Zen Pinball 2
Best Toddling: Cecily
Best Na Hoolk: Simon

See you next year!

2012: another year, another post

Maybe this year, you’ll get more than one post? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Let’s review last year’s resolutions:

  • Read a dozen books (again!).
    Failure! I did much worse this year. I read Bossypants, and that may have been it.
  • Cook a meal once a week.
    Failure! I feel like we actually ate out/got take out a lot more this past year.
  • Go to the gym (regularly)
    Failure! This never even started. I did start trying to play Dance Central regularly late in the year.

Wow. I did well, eh? Let’s go ahead and call it a rebuilding year. You want to know who I blame for this complete resolution breakdown? The newest and cutest member of our family: Cecily Louise! She’s adorable, but makes it harder than ever to keep the house clean, make time for reading and cooking and working out. (That’s mainly an excuse, but because I think it only applies for this one year, I’m using it!)

For 2012, here’s what I propose to myself:

  • Write and “publish” a piece of interactive fiction each month.
  • Read a dozen books. Seriously. That’s not that many.
  • Come home in time for family dinner as often as possible.

I’ve used different formats in the past, but I feel like just making a list this time. People love lists, right? If you want me to explain something on this list, feel free to comment or email or tweet or Facebook or Instagram me or something – and by Instragram, I do indeed mean writing your question down and taking a picture of yourself holding that question.

Best Movie I Saw in the Theaters: The Avengers DBOX
Best Movie I Saw on DVD Rented from Work: What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Best Movie I Saw via Streaming Rental: The Hunger Games
Best Movie I Saw Multiple Times Because Simon Wanted To: Up
Best New TV Show I Started Watching: The New Normal
Second Best New TV Show: Elementary
Best TV Show I Still Watch: Downton Abbey
Best TV Show I Watched an Entire Season of in One Week: How I Met Your Mother
Best TV Show for Seeing Matthew Perry: Go On
Best TV Show for Kids and Me: Phineas and Ferb
Best Book I Read: Bossypants
Best Book I Thought About Reading: The Big Short
Best Baby: Cecily
Best Song I Heard Because of Glee: Let’s Have a Kiki
Best Song I Heard Because of Everywhere: Somebody That I Used to Know
Best Song I Heard Because of People at Work Dancing Like Pony Riders: Gangnam Style
Best AAA Game I Was Excited For: Mass Effect 3
Best AAA Game That Was More Fun Than I Anticipated: Forza Horizon
Best AAA Game That Let’s You Name All Your Characters: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Best Indie Game I Bought On Steam on a Whim: Don’t Starve
Best Indie Game I Got as Part of a Bundle: Somewhere Out There
Best Game That Breaks My Heart: The Walking Dead
Best iPhone Game: Where’s My Perry?
Best Game I Played with Other People: Trackmania United/Nations
Best Free Game Where I Can Be a Sad Mummy: League of Legends
Best Drool: Cecily
Best Hugs: Simon

2011: the year that was

Hey everyone! Remember us? How long has it been? It feels like a year.

Anyway, let’s review – as painful as it may be – my 2011 resolutions.

  • Read at least one book per month. – Failure! So close and yet so far. A review of the books in a bit.
  • Read to Simon at least 3 times a week. – Success! Simon asks me to read him a dozen books every day.
  • Write something (short fictional prose, a poem, an essay) once a week. – Failure!
  • Learn to play the guitar. – Failure! I started, but never got going.
  • Defeat Hunter in Marvel vs Capcom 3. – Failure! I got discouraged.

2012 Resolutions

  • Read a dozen books (again!).
  • Cook a meal once a week.
  • Go to the gym (“regularly”)

Books
I ended up reading 11 books this past year, just one shy of the dozen from my resolution (if you don’t count the Kristin Chenoweth memoir that I listened to on audiobook, which I don’t). Here’s what I read and what I thought about them. What was fun was that Katie read all of these as well (except Outliers).

  1. Water for Elephants – This was actually the first novel I had read in a while, and I really enjoyed it. We were on a circus kick with the PBS documentary Circus, and Water for Elephants felt like a backstage view of the circus while maintaining a fairly good frame story and interesting characters.
  2. The Hangman’s Daughter – This was a translation and a good one. It’s a bit here and there, what with the murder mystery, the mystical elements, and the chase/fight scenes. Still, the story is anchored by a few strong characters that really helped me invest in the novel.
  3. The Imperfectionists – Sometimes, a novel of vignettes works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. The Imperfectionists was entertaining but wasn’t one of my faves.
  4. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Great characters, though a bit slow at times. Enjoyable enough.
  5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – It’s got a great gimmick and an entertaining plot. What more could you ask for?
  6. The Hunger Games – A super fast read with a great hook. I flew through this and bought Catching Fire immediately.
  7. Catching Fire – Suffers from a bit of more-of-the-same, but managed to pull me back in. I’m glad I read it, but I liked The Hunger Games better.
  8. Mockingjay – Still enjoyable, but probably the least enjoyable of the series. It felt like a necessary evil to finish the series, although I do appreciate some of the storytelling risks this book took in stepping away from what had made The Hunger Games so gripping.
  9. Outliers – The usual Malcolm Gladwell stuff. I like the way he provokes my brain, despite the fact that I never really follow up on the case studies.
  10. The Psychopath Test – A witty and interesting look at psychopathy and what it means to be emotional.
  11. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – Short, not as controversial as I thought it’d be, and felt at times like it was straining to be humorous.

I started and couldn’t quite get into Swamplandia! and was about a third of the way through Game of Thrones (enjoying it! But man is it long) as the year ended. I also listened to A Little Bit Wicked over the course of a week of commuting to work, which was a cute little piece of work, just like that Miss Chenoweth.

Games
There was another Batman game this year, wasn’t there? Yeah. It was awesome, just like the last Batman game. It was bigger, had great pacing, and felt familiar and new at the same time.

But as far as AAA sequels go, I’d have to lean toward Portal 2. It was the kind of game that fit perfectly in my life – a short campaign with spectacular, fresh writing and extended replay with the kind of perfected co-op mode that only Valve can deliver.

I’ve also been playing a lot of indie games, and a few that I really liked this year were SpaceChem, Terraria, and – most recently – Space Pirates and Zombies. I’ll get back to you on Bastion, but I think I’m going to like it.

TV
Of all the new shows we’ve started watching, I’d say Revenge is the most satisfying to continue watching. It’s soapy, sure, but it’s really quite good. We’re not quite caught up on Once Upon a Time, but I feel like it holds promise. We also are still watching mainstays like Bones and Glee. We started watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix and Community on Hulu. At some point, I’ll get around to Breaking Bad, The Wire, and The Walking Dead.

Oh, also, I discovered Phineas & Ferb this year, which is perhaps the best kids show I’ve ever seen. Also, Downton Abbey is, well, fantastic. Was that in 2011? I like those two better than Revenge, for certain.

What I don’t get is the accolades being piled on 2 Broke Girls, which I found offensive and not very funny. What’s up with that show?

Movies
I didn’t see many movies again this year, aside from random stuff on Netflix, Transformers: Something Something Moon, Thor, and The Muppets. As you can see, there weren’t all that many super memorable movies. I think I also watched X-Men: First Class and Captain America on the plane to/from China. Man, I watched a lot of superhero movies.

Let’s just say The Muppets, why don’t we? I saw it with Katie while we were up in Portland and the grandparents were looking after Simon, so it was a nice little holiday date. The movie was fun and cute and had songs in it. So, there you go. Movie of the year!

That’s it. See you next year.
Unless I embark upon some other blog writing project halfway through 2012 or something momentous happens.

A word from the wife…
Scott apparently wants me to chime in on this post. I’m not really one for blogging, but I suppose someone should point out that 2011 was actually not JUST a year of books, games, TV, and movies. At the risk of sounding like one of those annoying Christmas letters, I would remind him that we celebrated Simon’s first birthday and the marriages of several wonderful friends, traveled to China and the Pacific Northwest (twice), and finally got to attend a Steelers game.

Oh, and I also read a ton of trashy historical fiction and crime novels. Go ahead and judge. Happy 2012!

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