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Si, and I like potatoes.
So after rolypolypony posted lyrics I didn't recognize over on FB, I naturally had to google them*, and learned about Girl in a Country Song, which (for those of you who both avoid contemporary mainstream country as much as I do and don't click on the link for the video) is a takedown of the way too many songs treat women. I also came across the Genius lyrics page for the song, which has this comment: "I’m not sure what to think about this song. It is extremely well written but the message is weird to me. Do girls really not like being called pretty little thing. I would think that my girl loves it when I show her off to my friends. I can’t imagine how these girls react to some of the things hip hop artists have to say about women."

So he manages to show every issue the song complains about, and then tries to defend (largely white) country music by saying that (largely non-white) hip-hop is the real villain here**.

Sigh.

*Like Shazam, but for words.

**The fact that Genius evolved out of Rap Genius is the cherry on top here.
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Is there a term used for games that are essentially collections of different games? I'm thinking particularly of the early arcade era, and of games like Gorf, Tron, and Journey's Escape, as opposed to games where the gameplay is largely the same on different types of levels (Donkey Kong, Phoenix, etc). Time Bandit for the Atari ST (one of the truly great and sadly-forgotten games of the '80s) probably also qualifies here.

"Meta-game" isn't right, of course, since that has an entirely different meaning. There are probably some terms that could be coined, but I wonder if anyone's already done so, or compiled a list of games like this.

(And I'm talking about multiple gamestyles within one game, as opposed to something like Atari's Air Sea Battle cartridge, which had multiple but separate games but not within the context of one game.)

You could make an argument that the minigames that predominate a lot of AAA titles also fit this bill (GTA's racing games, FFX's Blitzball, a good half of Kingdom Hearts 2, etc), but in many ways, there was at least a core game here that the minigames serve as contrasts to; in the earlier titles, there's less of a central game.
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As some of you might know, for roughly the last two years, my cell phone has been the Kyocera Rise.

If someone had told me that Apple has initialed a false flag operation to make people hate Android, the Rise would be the result. It's awful. Horrible. On a hardware front, it's unresponsive to touch, it's slow, it's hard to read, it has trouble getting signals even in good locations, and its battery life is about two hours. On the software front, it crashes in almost any app, it has trouble running updates, and even basic apps tend not to work. Even basic tasks like dialing a number take minutes, not seconds.

I stuck with it because I'm using Virgin Mobile, and I refuse to pay more than $35 a month for my cell service. I don't want a $60+ bill (which is generally the only way to get a free or low-cost iPhone or Galaxy), because I want a phone primarily for texting, MBTA bus tracking, Twitter, occasional web access, and occasional phone calls. Oh, and taking the occasional picture of the dog or cats, of course.

But I finally hit a breaking point with that piece of shit, and have now upgraded to, of all things, a Nokia 635.

Yes, I'm on a Windows phone. And I fucking love it.

No, it's not high-end, but it does all the things I actually expect a smart phone to do. And it does them quickly. It gives me alerts. It lets me text (and has a swype-style interface that's much better than the Rise ever did). I can actually read the screen. Hell, I was able to actually check Mets scores on the bus yesterday!

Yeah, the ecosystem's small, but I really don't give a damn about that. I use my iPad for games, so only need one or two time-killers here. I use the same iPad for productivity (along with my Android Tablet to a lesser extent), and the few productivity apps I'd want on a phone (like Evernote) exist. I've got no real interest in streaming audio or video (and years of dealing with Android's well-known audio latency issue haven't helped), but most of the apps I'd consider on that front exist.

I'm still getting used to the interface changes -- it's not quite the "do they even have a usability team?" stuff you see in Android, but it's a noticeably different thing from the other systems. The tile updates are nice, but I'll need to spend some dedicated time this weekend ensuring I've got the right stuff on the front screen.

Anyway, I have a smart phone that's actually somewhat smart, finally! And I'm still on my nice Virgin Mobile monthly plan, meaning I'm not tying up more of our bank account than we can afford. Yay!
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1. For Android owners, Amazon's got a bunch of free software today (and today-only). Some of it's crap, but some of it's pretty awesome, including the original Plants vs Zombies, Adventure Time Game Wizard, the Oxford Spanish Dictionary, Songsterr, Osmos, and more.

2. Marvel's offering a free month of Marvel Unlimited, which offers a ridiculous amount of comics (with about a six-month lag) for one subscription fee. Note that you still need to give a CC and cancel before the month expires, but if you can remember, it's a great deal.

3. And for iOS owners, Stealth Inc, a ridiculously fun game (which was originally called Stealth Bastard Deluxe when it was released on computers) is free for now.
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1. As you know (Bob), I turned 43 yesterday. I celebrated in the way of my people, by buying the latest Humble Bundle, playing some games, watching some TV, and ordering Chinese food. 43 is remarkably like 42, only more prime and less The Answer.

2. I spent last week visiting my mom in Arizona, where we ate tons of good food and had awkward conversations about which pieces of art in the house I need to be aware of because they might be worth something. Mom's fine, health-wise, incidentally. Oh, and if you're in Scottsdale, you need to make it to this place, which has A) a superb bar and drink menu, B) the best chopped salad I've ever had, and C) bacon apple bread pudding.

3. Alas, I also got sick on that trip, which kind of stinks. Am mostly better, but still not perfect.

4. Recent TV: Currently very hooked on Powers on the Playstation Network and iZombie on the CW. Longer posts about both are brewing in my head. Am looking forward to Daredevil tomorrow on Netflix, of course, and am still totally on board with both Flash and Agents of SHIELD.

5. My major new addiction is LearnedLeague, an online trivia league that's just a blast to play (and that doesn't require a huge time commitment). It's $25 (or more, if you'd like) a year, but totally worth it for me. Good community, too. I won my rookie "rundle" (basically a ranking group) and the McConnell trophy, given to the top rookie in each league, and am psyched for next season. If you play and I don't already know that (in other words, if you're anyone but tablesaw), let me know. If you want to know more about it, there was a good piece in WaPo last year.

6. I've got a big "books read" update post coming.

7. Nothing really to say on the Hugo Awards front that hasn't been said elsewhere and better than I could hope to. As I mentioned in this post last month, I'm not a fan of the awards in general, so don't feel that Something Sacred Has Been Blasphemed, but I'm also not the target audience. There are tons of good posts talking about what should change from a procedural point of view and what's ethical and what's not, but in the end, it's not my monkey and not my problem.

8. Gaming-wise, last month's Playstation Plus freebie of Rogue Legacy has gotten more of my time than any AAA game I've gotten recently. It's the right combo of addictive, short, and iterative for my tastes. On the iPad, I'm playing a lot of TaiChiPanda for the same reason, as well as my usual regimen of Hungry Cat Picross, Red Herring, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Ascension, Doug Dug, and Deep Loot, with the occasional game of Trivia Crack thrown in.

9. Movie-wise, we just watched Edge of Tomorrow yesterday. It was quite excellent, as everyone who has seen it has said. Of course, I'm a fan of Doug Liman and also of Tom Cruise (who's frankly a somewhat underrated actor).

10. And because I'll keep mentioning it until this weekend, Sunday is the BARCC Walk for Change! It's an awesome event for an awesome cause, and you should totally join us if you can. And if you're in a position to sponsor me (or anyone), that would be wonderful as well.
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My birthday is today. Of course, I have a wishlist which you should be able to find with about ten seconds of looking around this LJ, but I don't really need anything in the way of stuff (that said, I certainly won't say no to anything listed).

But if you have money to burn, you know what I'd like?

I'd like you to support me in the BARCC Walk for Change this Sunday (the weekend after my birthday).

I've been way behind on posting in general (and thus about the walk), but if you've been following me for a while (and this is LJ, so you have, because there have been a zillion recent thinkpieces bemoaning LJ's death and therefore no one new is joining), you know how important this cause is to me. BARCC provides incredibly vital services to sexual assault survivors, and the Walk is one of their major sources of fundraising.

And if you're local, it's not too late to register and join us on the walk. It's always a lot of fun.

(Donations are tax-deductible, of course.)
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(#1 and #5 probably count as longreads, but I don't have enough other long pieces in tabs to justify a separate post.)

1. The New York Times, unlike the Emmy voters, is aware of Tatiana Maslany.

2. Terry Pratchett graffiti. 'nuff said.

3. Trevor Noah, Patton Oswalt, bad jokes, satire and straw men. Seriously, I love Oswalt, but the man is so obstinately oblivious when it comes to the notion that any comedian, anywhere, might actually have crossed a line.

4. On a similar topic, Linda Holmes writes wonderfully (as always) on Jokes, Fights And Controversy In A Frictionless Void.

5. This five-part piece at Medium on how medical IT can create incredibly life-threatening situations is fascinating (and while the stakes aren't as high, the same double-edged tech sword applies to other fields, too).

6. My Conservative Christian Nightmare: I Spent 16 Years in an Abusive Religious Sect. It's about the Quiverfull movement, which is just as horrible as it sounds.

7. Why crime fiction is leftwing and thrillers are rightwing. Not as overly reductive as it sounds (as the issue is more those subgenre labels themselves).

8. Harvard professor denied tenure for supporting victims of sexual assault. There are so many problems here, both with rape culture and the incredible broken tenure system.

9. You know that thing where you think you've cut and pasted one link, but the cut didn't take, so you paste the previous link you'd had? That appears to have gotten a law school professor suspended for sending anal-bead porn to her students. Ouch.

10. Report: Majority Of Earth’s Potable Water Trapped In Coca-Cola Products. Sometimes, The Onion is silly-funny. Other times, it can be brutally funny. This is the latter.
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I tweeted this yesterday:



That was a reference to the annual Public Radio Bracket Madness, in which Criminal -- which is a ridiculously under-appreciated masterpiece -- is matched against the powerhouse of This American Life and solidly getting its ass kicked. That's because the voting is a straight-up popularity contest, and unlike college basketball, upsets just aren't likely to happen here.

It's something I've been thinking about since the Grammys (which I didn't watch, since the list of better things to do ends up being like one of Perry Cox's rants), and the hullabaloo over Kanye being upset that Beck won an award instead of Beyonce.

With a few exceptions, awards of any sort serve as vehicles for the industry in question to either promote itself, or to reward their own.

There's nothing wrong with any of this. All industries have internal rewards, and most have outreach programs as well. If you make the movie that most pleases other moviemakers*, why shouldn't you get an award from them (see most Oscar winners)? And if you make one that makes a fuckton of money, why not get an award for that, too (People's Choice, MTV Movie Award, etc).

This applies across the board, whether it's the industry, critics, or the public. Hell, there's a 20th-Century Art Bracket going on right now in which one of Marc Chagall or Salvador Dali will fail to make it to the second round, in spite of both being better** than, say, either of Cornell or Modigliani (and artists like Vasarely, George Segal, and Agam aren't even on the list).

It applies, yes, to the Hugos and Nebulas (both of which suffer every bit as much as the Oscars from campaigning), although I do occasionally discover something new and worthwhile in the novella categories as a result.

And sure, there are exceptions, often juried ones. The Shirley Jackson Awards consistently turn up hard-to-find works that are worthwhile. The National Book Awards tend to have interesting finalists. World Fantasy is hit-or-miss, but when they hit, they hit big (and when they miss, Song of Kali stays in print forever). And the mystery awards (particularly the Edgars) tend to turn up some superior stuff (note that Ben Winters's Last Policeman series received an Edgar for the first book before finally getting some Dick recognition*** for the second in the series). But these are exceptions.

I'll repeat, since people love to get touchy about awards, that there's nothing wrong with this. Awards make people money. Therefore, people might want to win awards. Nothing wrong with wanting it or campaigning for it, and nothing wrong with an industry giving out awards to help their own (assuming that the rising tide lifts all boats).

But as a consumer, I really, truly, could give a flying fuck about awards. I pay attention in case I can learn about something new, but for the most part, my reactions are either "meh, so that was nominated/won," (and there may never be a year as predictable and, as a result, as dull as the 2015 Oscars on this front****). When something or someone I love wins an award, it validates the award, not the winner.

My point being, while I understand Kanye being upset, no one thinks that Beck is magically a better artist because he's got a(nother) gold statuette, and no one thinks the less of Beyonce because she has one less gold statuette

*I loved Birdman (I called it pretty much a perfect movie, and while I admit I wrote that in the afterglow of the experience, I do stand by what I said). But Hollywood loves movies about moviemakers. Three of the last four best picture Oscars have gone to films about movie making.

**If you're one of the people bothered by the lack of "I think" or "in my opinion" throughout this piece (a false and borderline trollish wank I'm seeing too often these days, especially on Twitter), get over it. Any junior high rhetoric teacher will note that words like that undercut arguments, and that anyone with decent reading comprehension can identify opinions.

***Yes, I could have phrased this differently. But why in the world would I have wanted to?

****The exclusion of Selma on the nomination front was huge, but after that, I don't know of anyone who lost their Oscar pool for the Big Six.
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It's completely replaced any discussion of llamas and dresses on my twitter feed, so I'm hardly breaking news here. Like millions of others, I grew up on Star Trek, catching the original series in reruns on local stations when I was a kid. I was never aware of fandom, as such, as a kid, but I was definitely a fan, even if a solitary one. (I also watched him on Mission Impossible, another show that ended before I was born but lived on in syndication.)

Spock wasn't technically my favorite character -- that would be McCoy -- but he grew on me, and he was certainly the most interesting character. And Nimoy, perhaps more than any of the cast, seemed to take his role with him (see the titles of his two bios) in a way that no one else did.

I distrust my perception of any celebrity, since by definition, they're conveying an image whenever they're in public, but Nimoy always came across as charming, sincere, and both amused and amazed that playing Spock gave him a level of cred that, in all fairness, he probably shouldn't have earned. But he always seemed to have a wonderful sense of humor about himself and saw that he could use the cred he'd gotten to try to make the world a better place.

Anyway, here's Nimoy leaving this world, his work complete, twenty+ years ago. Glad we had those extra twenty years. Wish we'd had more.

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1. Frozen Synapse! My god, people, get this! I'm assuming it's free to help promote Frozen Cortex, and yes, it's a game that's a few years old (and has been free already for Playstation Plus and included in Humble Bundles, so you might already have it on another platform). But it's still worth it. A great strategy game, and one that's been $10 most of its iTunes life.

2. Puzzle Forge 2 (also free on Google Play). Dear lord, I spent a lot of hours playing this during the Snowpocalypse. It takes the Triple Town mechanic -- a sort of variation on Match 3 where you place items in a grid and they merge together -- with a quest-driven game in which you try to build weapons for adventurers. There are a lot of new systems that unlock as you keep playing, and the writing is sometimes terrible (it very clearly was not localized by people with good English-language skills). That almost ends up making it more charming at times. It also has a neo-Roguelike element in that each time you fail, you keep your experience, your items, and your skills, so you get access to better stuff the longer you go. Really, really fun.

3. Duet. This is a brutally hard game at times, in which you control two dots rotating on a circle as they navigate through a field of obstacles. Really tough, but really well-designed, with some wonderful music.

4. Ancient Empires. If you remember the old java turn-based strategy game for mobile phones, this is the same thing, but fan-developed, so the writing's even less impressive. But worthwhile if you enjoyed those games.
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