Gaming at AQ

Over the past month or two I’ve been occasionally stopping by the AQ office in Nishi-Azabu (either at lunch time, or after work) for a bit of card gaming with my friend Ryan, who is AQ’s resident graphic designer. For these sessions, we play either Warhammer: Invasion, or more frequently, Magic: The Gathering. It’s Magic that we’re playing in these photos — in their conference room. The photos were all taken by AQ’s Paul, using theOlloclip lens on his iPhone.

Favorite Media of 2011

As I did last year — read it here — this is my list of favorite media for the year, which is basically me telling you what I obsessed over the most in 2011 (as far as I can remember, since it’s usually the case that some terrific things get forgotten by the end of the year). It’s not a “best of” list, I did not sample everything that came out this year, this is just something that I put together to remember what it was that I liked in a year, and I figure it can also act as a guide for some people who are looking for recommendations in various categories. I choose five items for each medium, which I list alphabetically (it’s rare that I can really choose one thing over the other), and then include a few honorable mentions.

Again, I don’t include books since I unfortunately don’t read enough of them (the vast majority of my reading time goes to the web, magazines, and comics).

Favorite Games
This category is definitely one where I can choose an absolute favorite, and that would be Forza 4. Not only is it the game that I’ve spent the most time playing, I’ve become obsessed with it, and it turned me into a huge fan of the Top Gear TV series (see below). For the platform, I only list the one that I played the game on.

  • Forza 4 (Xbox 360)
  • Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony (Mac)
  • L.A. Noire (PS3)
  • Portal 2 (Xbox 360)
  • Sideway: New York (PSN)

Honorable Mentions: Back to the Future: The Game (Mac), Cave Story+ (Mac), Dead Space 2 (PS3), Dragon Age II (PS3), Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (PSN),Pinball FX 2 (the Marvel tables, XBLA), Saint’s Row: The Third (Xbox 360), Uncharted 3 (PS3)

Favorite Games (iOS)
As with last year, I’ve separated the iOS games, because as much as I do enjoy playing games on my iPhone and iPad, I’m afraid that for the most part they still would not fare well against my console selections.

  • Assassin’s Creed Recollection
  • Bang!
  • Elder Sign
  • Kard Combat
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Honorable Mentions: Aquaria, Bug Princess, Jetpack Joyride, Neuroshima Hex, Shadow Era

Favorite Magazine Apps
Last year I didn’t include a magazine category because I felt like it would have been too difficult to narrow it down to five — and you can always follow my other site,The Magaziner, to see what I like in terms of magazines — but this year I do feel like these are the ones that I look forward to reading the most (and yes, it’s all digital, I don’t read much print these days). I should also add that these are not necessarily what I feel are the best magazines apps in terms of innovation and execution, but rather the ones I like because of content. I included the Izneo app, a digital platform mostly for French comics, because through I buy the weekly Le journal de Spirou.

  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Izneo
  • Letter to Jane
  • SPIN Play
  • The New Yorker

Honorable Mentions: GQ, Wired

Favorite TV
Again this year, it’s the category I have a tough time keeping short, since there are quite a few series I really do enjoy. The most conspicuous addition, and to be honest, the series I enjoy watching the most these days, is Top Gear, and from the newest season I’ve been going back through seasons to watch more. I’ve never considered myself a car guy, or been particularly obsessed with cars, but there’s something about the way the show is filmed, and the humor found throughout, that has completely sucked me in — here’s a post I wrote a few months ago about all of this. You’ll also notice Glee, which I only started watching this fall — I found myself immediately addicted, rushing through the first 2 seasons and eventually getting caught up. What can I say, it makes me happy watching it.

  • Breaking Bad
  • Game of Thrones
  • Glee
  • Louie
  • Top Gear

Honorable Mentions: Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, Community, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How to Make it in America, Justified, Luther, New Girl, Parks & Recreation, Sons of Anarchy

Favorite Movies
Since there are many films that haven’t reached digital/video yet, there’s still a lot I haven’t seen (like all the big December releases). I think I cheat a bit with some of the picks as well, as some of the honorable mentions may have been released in 2010. Most telling though is that my top 5 was composed of 4 documentaries before I saw the Tintin film today (and there are more in my honorable mentions).

  • Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
  • Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
  • Drive
  • Senna
  • The Adventures of Tintin

Honorable Mentions: Bill Cunningham New York, Bridesmaids, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Lemmy, Moneyball, Source Code

Favorite Albums
I had a really tough time here narrowing it down to five, and so many of the honorable mentions are probably all to be considered a “6.” Also, I will admit that the album that I really have enjoyed the most this year is Q-Tip’s The Renaissance, which came out in 2008 (but that I got into after watching the Tribe Called Quest documentary). I will do special episodes of the Codex and play all of this music (in this category, and the next).

  • Days (Real Estate)
  • James Blake (James Blake)
  • Strange Mercy (St. Vincent)
  • The Year of Hibernation (Youth Lagoon)
  • Undun (The Roots)

Honorable Mentions: David Comes to Life (Fucked Up), Let England Shake (PJ Harvey), Mirror Traffic(Stephen Malkmus), Shangri-La (YACHT), Torches (Foster the People), Underneath the Pine (Toro Y Moi), Wild Flag (Wild Flag)

Favorite Tracks
It wasn’t as easy to come up with this list as last year, since I’m a 100% Spotify user these days — last year I mostly looked at the play count in iTunes. But to help narrow it down I looked through the playlists of all of my Codex episodes, and came up with the following.

  • “England” (PJ Harvey)
  • “Our Hearts Are Wrong” (Jessica Lea Mayfield)
  • “Ravan” (Brasstronaut)
  • “Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)” (The Roots)
  • “Video Games” (Lana Del Ray)

Honorable Mentions: ”Audio, Video, Disco” (Justice), “Civilization” (Justice), ”Please Ask for Help” (Telekinesis), ”Tada no Tomodachi” (Salyu x Salyu), ”The Noose of Jah City” (King Krule)

Favorite Comics
I always find it difficult to really remember my fave reads of the year, but here are a few that I quite enjoyed. Also, I will say that my most enjoyable comics-related reading this year was going through the entire Tintin series, something I hadn’t done in years (probably in 2 decades).

  • Batman, Inc.
  • Daytripper
  • FF/Fantastic Four
  • Mister Wonderful: A Love Story
  • Northlanders

Honorable Mentions: The Walking Dead, Punisher Max

PauseTalk Vol. 56

Let me start by thanking everyone who came out this past Monday for PauseTalk Vol. 56, the last one for the year. We were a larger group than in the past few months, and it was a really nice way to share some thoughts on the year that was, covering how various projects fared, and what our hopes are for 2012. As with recent PauseTalks,Michael Holmes — who is also taking photos for ourPechaKucha Nights in Tokyo now — was there and snapping away, and so I’ll share those photos once they pop up (probably on Facebook, so join the PauseTalk FB page why don’t you).

Below, a partial (but pretty much complete) list of those who attended. Please note that January is a skip month, and so the next PauseTalk (Vol. 47) will happen on February 6.

Update: And here are the photos from the evening.

How I Got Back on the Codex Wagon

As I posted on Monday, my Codex podcast is back because I’ve finally found a way to record it live, using music from Spotify and mixing in my talking bits, thanks to Nicecast. As I wrote in the show post on the Codex site, I’d pretty much given up on doing the show because I couldn’t find a satisfying way to record the whole thing live, which is something important to me. I had tried Nicecast back at the end of August, but at the time it didn’t properly support Mac OS X Lion, and so there were issues getting the songs to properly play from Spotify. But since then they upgraded the app — I only realized it the other day because someone tweeted it to me — and I was glad to see that it now works without a hitch (well, mostly, as there is one little glitch in the show I recorded, episode 40, at the start of one of the tracks).

It’s good to be doing these again, and one other interesting thing about using Nicecast is that as I record, I’m actually streaming the session to the web. So in the future I’ll probably share that link, for those who would like to listen in live as I record the podcast — that has the added bonus of making it feel that much more like a radio show, which is really what I try to do with Codex (hence the reason I don’t want to just edit a show together in Garageband, or similar software).

Also, since the music is coming from Spotify (for the most part), I can share the playlist that way too — so if my voice annoys you (and that’s completely understandable), you can still enjoy the music.

Since the show was on hiatus for about 3 months, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so you can expect quite a few episodes this month. Also, let me remind you that last year I did a Christmas episode (10), so if you’re looking for some more tunes to put you in the holiday mood, do give it a try.

PauseTalk Tonight

Just a friendly reminder that the last PauseTalk (Vol. 56) of the year happens tonight (Monday, December 5) atCafe Pause, with the official session starting at 20:00. Should be a nice way to say goodbye to 2011, and start thinking about what 2012 will be all about. Also, please note that January will be a skip month, and so the next one after that will be in February. Looking forward to seeing you many of you tonight!