Posts in media

  • Media Diet, April 2018

    Books

    The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisim: finished the trilogy. What a great world, and the ending is just fantastic. A rare book written in the 2nd person.👌🏼

    Movies

    The Incredibles: rewatched recently. What a great film. Very excited for the sequel.

    Ella Enchanted: needed a light movie to end a day. This did that, but wow, it is of a time. A few good bits, but I swore it was a late 90s movie.

    Monsters vs. Aliens: silly, simple. I remembered it being better the first time. Didn’t hold up over time.

    TV

    Final Space: a space action-comedy. Starts light hearted, and develops a good story and world. Season 1 just finished.

    Video Games

    Adventure Pals: a fun platformer. Nothing deep, but a lot of fun.

    Upcoming

    Warmind, Destiny 2’s 2nd expansion in a week. Black Panther in a week at home, and probably Avengers: Infinity War in the theaters.

  • Media Diet, February and March 2018

    Music

    I’ll Be Your Girl (iTunes): The Decemberists’ latest album is fantastic. They’ve clearly made a shift with their previous album, and this one continues that with a bit more synth. It’s been on heavy rotation since it came out two days ago.

    Video Games

    Horizon: Zero Dawn: a very interesting combination of gameplay. You are generally underpowered, making you think more, but it isn’t an extreme stealth game. Very enjoyable.

    Dandara (iOS): Metroidvania, clever mechanics, not too long. Perfect for my commutes. Engaging, and just hard enough.

    Movies

    Thor: Ragnorak: great visuals, best of the Thor films, and really funny.

    Coco: 😭😭😭. Wow, Pixar did an amazing job on this film.

    TV

    The Good Place, season 2: continues to be fun, and clever with their shift in formula.

    Books

    Serenity Rose: a reread of an old series I have on the shelf. A fun world, and good characters.

    The Secret History of Mac Gaming: I supported this on Unbound, and just received it. A wonderful trip down memory lane, with many details I had no idea about. Bolo forever!

    Upcoming

    I need to get back to my reading list (as always). Destiny 2’s next expansion will hit soon and I’ll likely shift back to that.

  • Media Diet, End of 2017

    A quick review of media since the last installment. It was a quieter second half of the year for media consumption.

    Books

    Oathbringer: Brandon Sanderson’s latest. Third in his Stormlight Archive series. As always a very enjoyable read. I felt that he did a good job really expanding the world and characters on this one. A couple of very powerful moments. It is a time investment, and probably not a good idea to jump in mid-series.

    A Wizard of Earthsea: A classic by Ursula K. Le Guin. This was a reread, which I read out loud. Seriously, you should read this. Works very well orally.

    Video Games

    Destiny 2: The beta did not lead me astray. Bungie knows how to make a good sci-fi shooter. The reviews have been mixed, but I’m in the camp of really enjoying the game. The reduction of the grind mechanics might reduce the ability to spend your entire life on the game, but it does mean there’s only so much time you need to spend. Given my time constraints for playing, this has made it very satisfying. The recent changes feel like they’re very well balanced in responding to the community, but not excluding anyone. I also have a clan to play with now, and the raid is a lot of fun.

    Super Mario Odyssey: A great game. Just fun. Created a nice balance of new and old mechanics. Beautiful level design. If you have a Switch, you should be playing this.

    Celeste: I played through on the switch. Challenging, but not impossible. The story made the game feel meditative.

    Breath of the Wild DLC: DLC 1 was fun, but challenge levels aren’t really my thing. The second DLC was great though. Hit the same notes as the main gameplay, and was a lot of fun.

    Movies

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Put me in the camp of having heavily enjoyed it. I loved the subtle and not so subtle twists on expectation throughout the movie. More thought provoking than The Force Awakens. I’d say The Force Awakens was emotionally more satisfying, but this might be the better movie.

    Mary and the Witch’s Flower: Not surprising anyone, this is a visually beautiful film. Very enjoyable, and well done. Ghibli-esque in style, story choice, and presentation, it still had some unique flavors.

    Cars 3: Wow, what a good job they did. As good as the first, but with an even better lesson to the story? My favorite moment was with the old racers explaining why they raced: “Moonshine”.

    Boss Baby: Better than it had any right to be. The previews do not prepare you for the way the story is told.

    TV

    The Good Place: Just finished season one. Very well done. They clearly had a lot of fun with this.

    What I’m Looking Forward To

    Some already released movies (babies really make it hard to watch movies): Thor: Ragnarok, Coco. Some upcoming: The Incredibles 2, Black Panther. I’m finishing up reading The Stone Sky. Obviously going to watch the second season of The Good Place.

  • Tim Carmody on Kottke

    Recently Tim Carmody had a run as a guest editor on kottke.org. I get a sense Tim and I are at least similar in age, and I found myself with multiple posts just nodding my head in agreement. It is worth linking to a few of these:

    The hidden heart of Howl's Moving Castle

    Howl's Moving Castle isn't the best Miyazaki film. It continues to be my favorite. It isn't the first of his work I saw or read (Princess Mononoke in theaters 1997 and the Nausicaä manga years before that). There is just something about the movie that makes me love it a little more than the rest. Tim's comments really echo many of my thoughts.

    Four version of "A House Is Not A Home"

    Fascinating analysis.

    Planetary and the 1990s pulp comics revival

    A few years ago I found out about Planetary and quickly consumed it all. What a great world. What a great concept. The series isn't for everyone, a few issues have fairly gory violence, otherwise it holds around PG-13. If you're willing, read it. If not, at least read the article to get a sense of what was done in the series.

    Warren Ellis is rebooting the world this was in (no sign of Planetary though) in the new DC series The Wild Storm. The new series is pulling from other properties Ellis did.

    The sad humanity of American Captain, the best anti-superhero comic about superheroes

    I'd never read the comic, but it is a very interesting take on Captain America in his off time in the MCU. Fun read.

    Robots in disguise

    Seriously, the Transformers move is crazy. A follow on: the rebirth of Optimus Prime two part episode is also great. I had both of those on VHS at home.

    In praise of Cookie Monster, the literary muppet

    It seems like a joke, but have you watched Monsterpiece Theatre? Many of Tim's posts end with an interview, and this one almost did.

  • Media Diet, First Half of 2017

    A quick review of the various media I've enjoyed the first half of the year. Not an exhaustive list, just hitting the high points and where I've spent the most time.

    Video Games

    Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: I checked the Switch's play time: 140 hours. I regret nothing. Takes everything great about the Zelda series, and really harkens back to the original (no directions). Adds in modern gameplay devices. I think I have one or two uncompleted side quests, but I've found every shrine, and have almost completed the first DLC. Play with the Japanese audio if you can, or rewatch some of the cut scenes with it. Probably game of the year for me.

    Night in the Woods: I backed this on Kickstarter, and it came out this spring. Fits well into what I enjoy out of indie games: story and character driven. It rewards exploration and talking to everyone. Great music too.

    Final Fantasy XV: First Final Fantasy game I've played since 9. Excellent mechanics, good balance of difficulty, and the game keeps things moving along. I never felt like I was grinding. The large open world was fun to explore. Finished it in a little over 60 hours. Very weak with the story, a lot isn't fully explained in game. The characters are weak, and the "spontaneous dialog" in the car quickly becomes repetitive. Music wasn't used as well as previous entries in the series. The fact the car stereo is populated with the previous games' soundtracks was wonderful. And now I want to go back and play Final Fantasy VI.

    Books

    Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation: I grew up in the generation being described, but I missed most of the media tied to it growing up in Alaska without cable. Absolutely fascinating to hear how the 16-bit generation happened. Very well written, kept me engaged (far to rare with non-fiction).

    Nebula and Hugo nominees: I read most of the Nebula and Hugo nominees. The Incomparable did an episode on them that I'd recommend listening to. I enjoyed All the Birds in the Sky more than them, but it did drag in the middle. However Ninefox Gambit stood out to me. Very different story, with an interesting world. The sequel was equally good, telling the story in a different fashion from the first, keeping it interesting.

    The Caledonian Gambit: Science Fiction spy thriller. That is a weak summary. Good start to Dan Moren's fiction career. It was a good, quick read. Can't wait for the next one.

    Movies

    Your Name.: Beautiful and fantastic. It starts out very much as one movie (and does that well), but becomes something totally unexpected. Also, great soundtrack. I pre-ordered the release of the Japanese Blu-ray (since it still doesn't have a US release date, and I just need English subtitles).

    Wonder Woman: Very well done. Look, just listen to The Incomparable episode.

    Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2: Fun movie. Played many of the same riffs as the first, to great effect. A couple of absolutely beautiful scenes with great use of color.

    TV

    Steven Universe: Not watching much of TV, but Steven Universe continues to keep me wanting more. Cartoon Network's weird scheduling continues to frustrate. The soundtrack came out recently, and it a lot of fun to listen too. That got me into a slow re-watch I've been doing, which has been very enjoyable.

    What I'm Looking Forward To

    A short list: Thor: Ragnarok, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mary and the Witch's Flower, Destiny 2 (The beta was a lot of fun), Mario Odyssey.

  • MPMoviePlayerController Going Fullscreen Creates A Blackout

    The Problem:

    (Solution found via StackOverflow)

    You've added an MPMoviePlayerController to one of your view controller's
    child views. You hit play, it starts playing the video. Then you hit the
    fullscreen button. It fills the screen, and suddenly everything goes black, you
    can't get any controls, and all that happens is the audio keeps playing.

    So what went wrong?

    What Happened

    So my best guess is that the view that contains the MPMoviePlayerController
    view is a temporary one in your view controller. Something that you get rid of
    when the view controller's view stops being displayed. So what you decided was
    to remove the view from the view controller (removeFromSuperview) when the
    view controller is no long displayed.

    The obvious place to do that is in viewWillDisappear:, right? It
    consolidates all these actions into one place, and happens automatically.

    The problem? When the movie goes fullscreen, your view disappears and
    viewWillDisappear: is called.[1] MPMovePlayerController doesn't work well
    when its view gets removed from the view hierarchy. Whoops.

    The Solution

    I solved this by moving my view destroying code into a new method and out of
    viewWillDisappear:. In my case all the times I wanted the view to be removed
    are times when I'm triggering viewWillDisappear: manually with a call to
    pushViewController:animated: to the navigationController. So right
    above that call, I added a call to my new method.

    If you have situations where you don't control the transition that causes your
    view to be destroyed, you might want to add a BOOL to safegaurd the view from
    being destroyed if video playback is happening.


    1. You might run into this problem transitioning from iOS 5 to iOS 6. Apple fixed a bug where viewWillDisappear: wasn't being called for the fullscreen transition. So this doesn't happen in iOS 5, but does in iOS 6. ↩︎