What beavery is this?

I’m in a group called the Crafty Beavers.

Beaver—a large, amphibious rodent of the genus Castor, having sharp incisors, webbed hind feet, and a flattened tail, noted for its ability to dam streams with trees, branches, etc.

How can I describe these beavers who craft? This has proven difficult for me in the past few days. So many halted starts and I can’t do the beavers justice.

How do I love the beavers? Let me count the ways.

A beaver by any other name would smell as . . wait, no. Dammit.

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In control

My first long-term experience with a console controller was with the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which was a Christmas present in 1987 or so. Looking back, it’s almost hard to imagine interacting with a video game based on nothing more than a direction pad and two buttons (three if you count the Start button’s almost universal “pause” function). In fact, Super Mario Brothers is nearly a one-button game, the B button only having a function when Mario has consumed a fire flower.

While I never owned a Super Nintendo (SNES), I remember being in awe of its controller. Even more than the Mode 7 almost-3D graphics, the X and Y buttons seemed to open new worlds of possibility. I shuddered to imagine the wonderous games that could make use of the additional possible functions. (The L and R shoulder buttons didn’t even register for me at the time.)

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What happens in winter

It’s the seasonal equivalent of Sunday dread, that moment as the last of the weekend turns into the first of the work week (or, years ago, fresh seven days of school) when you begin to feel your entire life weigh heavily upon you. Somewhere recently I read that Sunday dread is the bit of evening where you are nearly smothered by the choices you’ve made, and the doubts you have about them – should I have gone to grad school when I was young? Is it too late to become President? Why didn’t I try harder in fifth grade? Will we ever be the people living in the same neighborhood as Tom Izzo?

It’s when September is just about out of days and the Tigers, God bless them, are officially, mathematically, scientific-method tested and retested and confirmed, out of the playoff picture. Again.

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Seven minutes in heaven

Seven minutes in heaven

Restaurant week 2010, or, The week-long food coma (part 2)

As I was trying to write this week’s column, it took me several minutes of deep thought to remember what I ordered. That is not a good sign. I had some gazpacho that I hated, which was my own fault, as I can’t eat onions or chunky tomatoes. I tried to sip as much of the broth as possible and ate three slices of thick, warm bread and hoped I hadn’t offended the chef. I honestly can’t remember my main entrée. I know the shrimp was grilled, but parts of it were way too charred. If I wanted to eat burned seafood, I would have made it myself.

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Who’s The Boss?

I don’t like Bruce Springsteen. Let me rephrase that: I don’t like the music of Bruce Springsteen. Let me revise that revision: I don’t like the music of the E Street Band. I love Nebraska. I love and have many fine memories of The Ghost Of Tom Joad (and the live bootlegs we would carry and listen to at Wherehouse Records in East Lansing). I don’t care for the big, overblown sound of the E Street band, the honking of Clarence Clemons, the keyboards, and the whole shebang. Much of this I owe to being 10 at the time of Born in The USA and having that music saturate the airwaves of my youth. I didn’t like it then and it just doesn’t do it for me now.

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September 20-25, 2010

Today, in “Dysphonia,” Mike Vincent really dislikes Bruce Springsteen. Then he gets over it. Read “Who’s The Boss?”

In “The Cinephiles,” Kevin Mattsion examines a distressing omission from an Academy Award-winning director’s filmography in “Why Paul Thomas Anderson should make a musical (and how he kind of already has)” and Adam Simmons lists movies that their directors would prefer to forget in “The unreleasables”

In “Diary of a Casual Gamer,” Gavin Craig rolls his sweetness up into one ball, calls it a katamari, and turns it into a star. (There’s also dancing pandas, and a guy who sounds a bit like Tom Jones.) Read “Simply Katamari”

In “Rounding Third,” Angela Vasquez-Giroux takes a brief look at the long history of cheating in baseball, and tells Derek Jeter that he’s no Babe Ruth. Read “In which Derek Jeter should wipe that self-satisfied grin off his face”

In “The F Word,” Jill Kolongowski takes a bite out of Restaurant Week, and finds that Restaurant Week bites back. Read “Restaurant Week 2010, or, The week-long food coma (part 1)”

Why Paul Thomas Anderson should make a musical (and how he kind of already has)

Musicals tell their stories with sweeping camerawork, song, dance, and big emotions.  They are the height of melodrama, and after five films and several television and music video stints it’s surprising to me that director Paul Thomas Anderson has never made one.

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The unreleasables

It’s tough making a movie. Think about a movie you’ve seen that you hated. No matter how bad it was, I guarantee it was tough to make. A movie is like a machine—there are lots of moving parts and they all need to be oiled and synchronized. I’m always intrigued when, after all the work that goes into it, a movie just never gets released or gets so radically re-worked that the story behind it becomes more interesting than the movie itself. Here’s a look at a few movies with sordid pasts. Some of them you may have seen, most of them, you probably haven’t.

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Simply Katamari

There are many reasons to love a game. It can be a marvel of technical accomplishment, lifelike graphics, or create a whole new genre of gameplay. It can have an intricately crafted, immersive story, with expertly realized characters and intricate twists and turns. It can be a challenge, pushing the player to the limits of their reflexes and creativity.

Or, every once in a while, it can be disarmingly, irresistibly weird. Like Katamari Damacy.

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