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Jason Panella

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Everything posted by Jason Panella

  1. What board games have you been playing lately?

    I played Sagrada at Origins this past year and absolutely loved it. I'm thinking of asking for it for Christmas.
  2. I thought this would be more appropriate for game updates than the "Favorite Board Games" thread. One of the goals I made for 2012 was to actually try to play games, rather than gripe about missing opportunities (our of laziness or shyness). So far so good — I've managed to play as many games in the past few weeks as I normally would over half a year. 7 Wonders — One of 2011's "hot" card-based games, and a lot of fun. For Catan fans, there's a good deal of resource collection and trading here, and games can go quickly (seven players and under an hour? Excellent.) Lord of the Rings: The Living Card Game — I cannot stop playing this. It's one to two players, has beautiful art, and has enough challenging elements to be quite repayable. The game's system really fits thematically, too. It's also a living card game, too, which is cool...it's similar to a collectible card game (like Magic: the Gathering), but the expansions aren't randomized. Plus, you can just play the game with the core set and never buy anything else...unless you want to. Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition — The most recent edition of the grand-daddy of RPGs has some aspects I don't like (some of the newer rule changes make the game more like a video game than a tabletop RPG), but I've played a few times with a co-worker and still had a blast. Android — Still my favorite board game. Still incredibly misunderstood. It's always a struggle to get any of my friends to actually play with me, but when I do, I savor the experience for months afterward. The game is an incredibly hard sell, even for avid board game players ("Hey, want to play a sci-fi noir game that is heavily focused on postmodern storytelling aspects? No?"), but I will continue to be an evangelist for it.
  3. Kill List

    Kill List writer/director Ben Wheatley just had a movie premiere at TIFF (Sightseers), so I thought I'd bring this, his previous film, up. Just watched it, and I'm still trying to formulate some thoughts for a review. Has anyone seen it? The movie follows two British ex-soldiers/hitmen (Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley) as they pick off the targets of the titular list. What starts off as a pitch-black crime film/domestic drama mash up adds another element into the mix, but it's hard to discuss it really without spoilers. Basically, the movie goes into full-tilt Wicker Man mode by the end. I didn't love the movie, but man is it effective. It's unsettling on a number of levels — the violence, for one, is unflinchingly brutal, including one scene I actually had to turn away from for a bit. But where it really gets under the skin is when the line between mundane and surreal becomes more and more blurred. There's some really normal stuff in the movie that becomes really eerie in the context. Two scenes involve the simple act of waving hello, and both are pretty chilling. The sound work is top-notch, too, and vital to the sense of dread that creeps more and more into the movie.
  4. Sense8

    As Justin predicted, Netflix opted to give the show a 2-hour finale. I broke my A&F hiatus just to report this! I grew to love this show, warts and all. And man, there were a lot of warts. The show was able to reach emotional highs so often, though, that I fell for it hard.
  5. 2016 lists

    My favorites of 2016. Tweaked slightly from the version I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago: 1. Pinegrove — Cardinal 2. Mitski — Puberty 2 3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds — Skeleton Tree 4. David Bowie — Blackstar 5. Adam Torres — Pearls to Swine 6. Eric Bachmann — Eric Bachmann 7. Miranda Lambert — The Weight of These Wings 8. Kevin Devine — Instigator 9. Sleep Experiments — Passages 10. Lucy Dacus — No Burden 11. Starflyer 59 — Slow 12. Tortoise — The Catastrophist 13. Anohni — HOPELESSNESS 14. Sturgill Simpson — A Sailor’s Guide to Earth 15. A Tribe Called Quest — We got it from Here….Thank You 4 Your service 16. Frank Ocean — Blonde 17. Teenage Fanclub — Here 18. Chance the Rapper — Coloring Book 19. Jeff Parker — The New Breed 20. Lydia Loveless — Real 21. John K. Samson — Winter Wheat 22. Paul Simon — Stranger To Stranger 23. Leonard Cohen — You Want It Darker. 24. Vince Gill — Down To My Last Bad Habit 25. Cass McCombs — Mangy Love 26. Brad Mehldau Trio — Blues and Ballads 27. Angel Olsen — My Woman 28. Nada Surf — You Know Who You Are 29. Wussy — Forever Sounds 30. PUP — The Dream is Over Favorite EPs: Adam Remnant — When I Was a Boy EP Mint Mile — The Bliss Point EP Honorable mentions: Mary Halvorson Octet — Away With You Solange — A Seat At the Table Mick Harvey — Delirium Tremens Drive-by Truckers — American Band Mogwai — Atomic Deftones — Gore Shearwater — Jet Plane and Oxbow De La Soul — and the Anonymous Nobody…. Neko Case, Laura Veirs, k.d. lang — case/veirs/lang
  6. The Expanse

    In April, the SyFy channel announced they ordered a ten-episode season based on James S.A. Corey's sci-fi series, The Expanse. Corey is the pen name of co-authors Daniel Abraham, an excellent fantasy writer, and Ty Franck, who served as George R.R. Martin's assistant for a number of years. I think the first season is going to correspond with the first novel in the series, Leviathan Wakes. It's a big book with a lot of plot, so ten episodes seems right. I just finished the second book in the series, Caliban's War. I loved both it and Leviathan Wakes. The books fit into the space opera mold, and they're page-turners. If you had to break it up into an ingredient list, it'd be three parts hard sci-fi, one part mystery, one part Lovecraftian horror. The mix works well, and there's some interesting sociological and world-building aspects that keep this from being merely enjoyable fluff. And as simple as it is, I think the prose is (often) good too. I've read that industry insiders are hoping to bill the show as "Game of Thrones in space." I can sort of see that—"Corey" has several viewpoint characters for each book, like Martin, and switches back and forth between them. Franck and Abraham also play a bit with some of the thematic issues that Martin explores in the ASoIaF series. But if the industry folks are hoping to capitalize on the crazy violent aspects and crazy sexy parts that some folks like about the show, well...they'll really have to change a lot. Attached so far: Breaking Bad director Terry McDonough, exec. producers/showrunners Mark Fergus and Hawk Osby (Iron Man and Children of Men), and actor Thomas Jane starring at Detective Miller.
  7. Home Alone

    I return to A&F just to defend Home Alone 2. Objectively, it's not a good movie, let alone a great one. And having a general idea of what you like and don't like, Peter, I'm sure you'd loathe this one as well. But man, do I love this movie. I've watched it at least yearly since the mid-'90s, sometimes more than four times in a season. It's a carbon copy of the first Home Alone, maybe with some more weird cruelty in it, but I adore it. I love the jokes, I love the pacing, and I love how it treats NYC. I love Brenda Flicker in it. I love how it makes fun of Florida, a state I generally loathe. I love how it takes the traps from the first time and shoots them into the stratosphere (I mean, Marv and Harry would've been dead this time around before the even entered Uncle Peter's house). I've used so many lines from this movie in day-to-day conversation that I've basically become a walking HA2 quote generator. I think it has a few genuine moments in it, but I really won't try to argue for them. Is it better or worst than Die Hard 2? Good question. That said, I'm also of the mind that Die Hard 2 is one of the worst sequels of all time, so I might not be the right person to ask.
  8. Goodbye. Have a good one.

    I think most of it was via Facebook.
  9. In a Valley of Violence

    Doing my quarterly pop-in to A&F to update this thread. Film festival reviews so far are mostly positive. Lots of reviews are noting how funny the film is.
  10. Innovation

    We rarely play with the expansions, and with the two-player, we've NEVER made it past age 8 before someone won with achievements.
  11. Innovation

    This is (sometimes) my favorite game. Or, it's the one I get to the table the most often. Yes, there's definitely some luck, but it's rare for the game to actually make it to the age 10 cards that are overly luck-based. I found the game plays much better as a 2- or 3-player game than with 4, too.
  12. The Winds of Winter

    I'm about the finish the audiobook of A Game of Thrones (my second time through the series), so all things Westeros (and Essos) are on my mind. I've been wading through lots of interviews and convention reports these days, and it actually seems like Martin is making significant progress on The Winds of Winter. As he's mentioned in a recent Amazon interview, he's devoting most of his time to the book. He also unveiled two new chapters recently at a convention and, well, they sound incredible (link to a forum post that covers what happens. It's spoilery in a general sense, but also Awe. Some.). I'm guessing (and really hoping) that he'll finish up the book and have it out by the end of 2014. Also, here's the interview I mentioned earlier. Prediction:
  13. Is Artsandfaith.com dying?

    There was a time when I thought commenting on *everything* would make me part of the crowd. :-)
  14. Is Artsandfaith.com dying?

    The music section is one the few I look at when I occasionally pop in, Joel, and what brought me to A&F to begin with back in the day. I've always valued the weird little gems that would pop up there that weren't the usual Over the Rhine/Lucinda Williams/whatever roots stuff (not that those are bad). In a lot of ways, the music forum was how I discovered many favorites in the late '00s.
  15. Is Artsandfaith.com dying?

    I basically bowed out of A&F a year ago, though I've popped in here and there since. Since everyone is doing lists... I agree that a lot of my casual conversations or friendly banter have moved to social media. Thems the facts. Like others have noted, I was single when I first started posting. Now I've married, have a time-consuming job, and I commit my little free time to other hobbies in lieu of movie-watching (D&D, board games, cooking). I never see films in the theater these days (just don't have the time to drive to and from Pittsburgh for the limited release ones, nor the money). To be blunt—I've always felt like an outsider here. Which isn't a problem, per se, but you can only spend so much time trying to fit in before realizing it's not going to work. My interests have strayed more and more toward the niche since I joined in 2006, and my initial enthusiasm for whatever droopy arthouse was the go-to A&F pick of the year has shifted toward weird junk that gets no traction on the forum. Which is fine! (And I still like plenty of droopy arthouse movies.) I just learned to not even try. Seeing personality clashes on the forum over the years has bummed me out. And I direct this at myself—a decent number of the posters here drive me crazy, which is probably one of those "it's me, not you" kind of things. Keeping a distance has been healthy for me, though, and it's been I'd like to keep it that way. I love A&F and what it's meant over the years, but it's been better for me in the long run to keep some distance. I'll still pop in to check on game-related posts or see if there's anything that jumps out in the music or TV forums, but that's probably it. But hey, say hi on Facebook or Twitter!
  16. D&D Next

    I could very well be typing to myself with this, but Wizards of the Coast announced a few months ago that they were planning the next edition (the fifth) of Dungeons & Dragons. They're calling it D&D Next. I'm really interested in the development of this. If you haven't been keeping up on D&D in the past decade or so, here's my synopsis: D&D 3E changed the game's rules up quite a bit in the late '90s, and made the game even more popular. That said, it also lost some of the old-school fans. WotC then debuted D&D 4E a few years ago, and that was even more different than 3E. (Many gamers complained that the new edition was geared toward winning new fans instead of keeping old ones, as the game's core mechanics became a little bit more video game-like.) Scores of D&D fans left 4E behind and started "clones" of older editions of D&D. So many left, in fact, that a modified version of D&D 3E — called Pathfinder — has been regularly outselling anything from WotC over the past few years. So it seems like with D&D Next, the design teams is asking gamers — old and new, alienated or fanboy — what they think should happen with the next edition. More and more, it looks like WotC is planning making a tool-box style game, one that will actually involve mix and match elements from all previous edition (even the earlier Gary Gygax white/blue box versions). Want a more heroic game? You can add these things. Want a more powers-based game, like 4E? You can add this or that. I don't know if this tool-box approach will be the final result, but letting people weigh in on decisions for the entire process like this has never really been done before in the gaming world, at least to this degree. Here's a link to one of the key blog posts they made.
  17. D&D Next

    Wanted to pop back in this thread to say that, for the first time ever, I'm running a game of D&D. Every few months, I get together with some friends from college and play board games. Someone mentioned making the theme of this get-together "dungeon crawls," so I offered to DM D&D, since no one (outside of me) had any experience with tabletop RPGs. So, I'm preparing things. I have a good intro adventure to run, and I'm borrowing various vinyl maps off of friends and gathering index cards and markers. I also made pregenerated characters that fit lots of the classic fantasy archetypes: elf wizard, human fighter, and so on. I'm surprisingly nervous, but also really excited.
  18. The Expanse

    Finally finished the first season. I loved it, though I'm sure some of that comes from my admiration of the source material. I'm quite excited for season 2. From what I've read, Abraham and Franck weren't happy (in hindsight) with a few of the plot choices they made in Leviathan Wakes, and they were able to correct them a bit on the show. Probably a wise choice.
  19. The Expanse

    Oh great! I own vol. 1, but have yet to start it. Anyway, with the series. Watched all the way through episode four, since they're all available on Syfy's website. Each episode gets better, I think, and episode four caps with one of the more sense moments of the book. They really nail it, too. I've also grown interested in the characters in the context of the show as well. While Syfy already renewed the show for season 2, hopefully it actually builds up a sizable fanbase.
  20. The Expanse

    I also finished episode two last night. They've made some interesting adaptation choices--they're stretching Holden's story (that's the freighter office) out a little, truncating Miller's (the detective), and completely fabricating Chrisjen Avasarala's story (that's the politician). It's a bit clunky (they really, really didn't need to bring Avasarala into the narrative yet), but it's still effective. Glad they're also trying to fix a few of the first novel's problems, the biggest being how bland Holden's crew is initially. Amos is one of my favorite characters in the series, but his personality doesn't really form 'til the end of the novel. And yeah, Abraham's fantasy work is excellent. The Long Price Quartet is one of the most interesting set of books I've read.
  21. The Expanse

    I sadly don't have SyFy (or any cable channel...actually, I've never had access to even basic cable in my life!). I'm hoping to either watch over a friends' house or just catch the rest when it comes out on video. (Or, maybe, I can just buy the episodes from Amazon!)
  22. The Expanse

    Got to see the pilot for this tonight. (It debuts December 15, I think?) It suffers from some serious "tell don't show" in spots, but overall it's a pretty good entry into this story. Casting is fantastic, and the show—SyFy's most expensive project to date—looks like a million bucks. The comparisons to the new Battlestar Galactic are apt, but it's also got hints of cyberpunk and horror. The books are quite good, the third actually getting into some serious theological nitty gritty (one of the viewpoint characters for that book is a Christian pastor, and the authors handle her surprisingly well). I hope this show takes off, if only so more people will read the fine novels. Judging from the buzz, I think it will be at least a modest hit.
  23. Spammers

    Yeah, Eremyjohnstone's posts elsewhere are all bizarre word soup-type things.
  24. What board games have you been playing lately?

    Started playing Pandemic Legacy this past weekend. All of the hype is true.
  25. Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley)

    Top five, at least. Lovecraft rarely translates well to the screen, so I'm cautiously intrigued.
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