I’m going to.. handwave away the personal recap of 2017, because it’s just too much to think about/write/read. SO. Here’s STUFFS WHAT I LIKED, 2017 EDITION!!! And yeah, there’s a couple of days left in the year. But let’s be real. This is close enough.
I’ve seen 46 movies this year. I’d hoped to break 50. Being with Evan has meant a shift back to watching more movies (and really, just as much TV), which has been great – being in a long distance relationship sucks, but it’s great to be able to watch movies with each other over that distance. As far as new releases, we didn’t see a lot together, but there were some great movies out in cinemas this year. Highlights for me: The Big Sick, Get Out, The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnorak, Logan, The Shape of Water. I think I need to revisit Blade Runner: 2049, but it might be on that list, too. Recent stuff that’s come out that I want to see, but am waiting for streaming release? Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri are up there! I really did a lot more watching of 2016 and older stuff out of the batch of viewings this year. Best non-2017 one I saw? Probably Hush, or the Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
This was the year of new Twin Peaks, so that’s got to be my first mention out of the gate. Oh how I had waited – most of the time, not knowing it’d come. Some of the time itching to have it here. It was a strange ride, full of mystery and horror and humour and nostalgia and straight up weird shit. Can’t wait to go back and rewatch. PS. Thanks for being the reason I got to know Evan better.
Notable ongoing fave: Brooklyn 99. I binged because I couldn’t stop: The Good Place. I watched it all and I’m still not sure how I feel about: The Leftovers. My trashy watch: Riverdale. Oh no I need to catch up on: Mr Robot, Orphan Black. Started, and excited to watch more into the new year: Atlanta. Can’t wait for the new episodes of: Black Mirror, the X-Files!
I struggled to hit my goal of 40 books read this year. I just lost steam in the summertime, and it has been tough to get it back. I have tried to do a bit of reading to chat about with Evan – he encouraged me to read the Southern Reach trilogy (so far it’s just been Annihilation, but I’ll get there), plus we got to read Twin Peaks: the Final Dossier to talk about together! Overall, I think Annihilation was my favourite novel read, and as far as comics, Paper Girls was my new favourite read. Onto my backlog now, I guess! Which is full of great recommendations from Liz, whose Science Fiction Double Feature podcast has been a great source of nerding and great sounding books.
GAMEZ OF BOARD AND VID
Let’s get the easy one out of the way first, because I don’t play a lot of video games compared to board games! Much of my time has been all about Stardew Valley and the Sims 4, not to mention recently with Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. You may sense a theme.. Meanwhile, I really need to get back to the Witness for puzzly goodness. And with the new season of the X-Files looming, dive back into my investigation in Thimbleweed Park. I think if I can chip away at what’s in my Steam library after that, it’ll be a 2018 miracle! I was very good and did not bend to the Steam sales, pals.
As far as games go, well. Here’s a big ol’ article I wrote about this year in games. Bärenpark and Sagrada are my top picks if you don’t feel like clicking through, but there’s lots of stuff in there in many categories. I think my top 10 would be: Bärenpark, Sagrada, Castles of Burgundy Dice, Word Slam, Azul, Avenue/Kokoro, Favelas, NMBR 9, Fox in the Forest, Century Spice Road – Golem edition. What a great year of games. Meanwhile in pure lovely numbers (oh thank you Board Game Stats!):
- Games played, total: 546
- Games played, unique titles: 256
- Games played, new to me: 126
That’s pretty great for me! Plus I got to playtest a number of really great things, including legacy games which I’ve had enormous fun with.
Not to mention, conventions attended: Breakout Con, the Gathering of Friends, Origins Game Fair, Dice Tower Con, SHUX, Fan Expo, BGGcon, ummmm. Wow. That’s ridiculous. 2018 is going to be scaled back a BUNCH.. Actually, that’s a big fat lie. But at least a bunch of these are local or close to local? Flying to the US for cons is so hecking expensive, so that’s going to scale things back.
Because of Twin Peaks, I sought out a few related podcasts – ‘Diane‘ was one of the best. Articulate and intelligent, lots of amazing discussion and insights. Plus I love the ongoing series they’re doing now called the “Shadow Trap” all about monsters and whatnot. Good stuff. I have been super enjoying Tanis as always, for more spookies, and 99% Invisible plus Reply All remain general faves. I’ve also just begun listening to Ologies at the recommendation of my friend and co-host Erin, and it’s been a delight. Nerding out about sciences and disciplines is awesome, and the host is fun and has quirky asides and comes at it all with a fabulous attitude and humour. Also I love all of my own podcast’s network pals, so check ’em out: Inside Voices network.
So, much of the content I’ve been creating of late is surrounding board games. Back in the day I used to write a lot more about music & movies, but I feel like those things aren’t hobbies now but just part of life. Board games are a hobby, a passion, and I love to share my thoughts on all aspects of them, even though it’s not my job to do so. I say “creative” output because none of it’s really creative but I don’t know how to describe it? Ha! My nerd sprinklings? Geeky missives? Anyhow, here they are!
I’ve written a few articles here on this blog, where I feel like I can be as divisive as I like and own the responsibility for that – “Why I’m Not Here To Ruin Your Fun” and “Don’t Bring Gender into Board Games“. But I like to have somewhere a little more appropriate for long-form personal stuff like “I Guess Board Games are my Valentine” and personal con write-ups. And let’s not forget the languishing design series, ha!
For the last few years I’ve been a contributor at the Daily Worker Placement blog (as well as running the Twitter and helping a bit with the Facebook account). My writing is a bit all over the place there – some stuff about conventions, a little on apps, and some stuff like the series of survey infographics I published after taking a big survey of gamers. I like the freedom I have there to write about what I really want to, and I really like that we’re having the reach we do.
A little under a year ago, Games on the Rocks started up – I’d been inspired by certain pub meetups (Vegan Drinks, and Drinking About Museums) to try something similar. But instead of in-person, I’d be doing it with my far-away pals Suz, Maggi & Steph via the internet! So each week we have a bit of a chat about what we’ve been playing, and a topic of some sort (game themes, conventions, and the like) – we even had a live play through of an app (Mysterium) on our last episode which was really cool. Every (other-ish) Friday we go live on the Meeples Included Twitch and there’s an archive of broadcasts on YouTube. We even managed to live-Periscope an episode of the show from BGGcon which was one of my highlights of the trip.
My most recent project is a podcast, Greatway Games. This is my “different” style of content regarding board gaming as a hobby, which is so refreshing! Along with pals Erin & Adrienne, we spend about an hour each episode (1 per month) on a topic that is broadly about the hobby rather than reviewing games & the like. For instance, conventions, teaching games or comfort games! We also approach recording a little differently than most, adding a personal touch with a mood check-in at the start of each episode, a Pet Corner where we update you on all our lil cutie pies, and a segment we definitely took straight out of Pop Culture Happy Hour – what’s making us happy! Recording these is one of the highlights of my month. We’ve also been doing mini episodes to come out mid-month for Patreon backers too, if you can’t get enough. Almost all include Jake barking in the background at some point *facepalm* OH! And I run the Twitter for us too 🙂
A good while ago, I asked friends on Facebook to send me their suggestions for great podcasts to listen to. I got a huge, fantastic response that really boosted by list of podcasts subscribed to in BeyondPod. Because I don’t have a commute to speak of, I really only get to listen to podcasts while I’m out walking Jake, or while I cook (our Sony bluetooth speaker has been so helpful for this!). I still have podcasts that I’ve added that I haven’t made much of a dent in (In Our Time) or started at all (Welcome To Night Vale – yes, I know!!! I’ll get there..) but there have been enough that I’ve added that I’ve enjoyed, in addition to what I was already listening to. This is a handful of my ‘goes to the top of my playlist’ podcasts. They’re kinda all over the place, but maybe you’ll find something to love, too!
NPR’s Planet Money / Freakonomics – I’ve kinda lumped these together because they’re both pretty interesting (and on the shorter side) podcasts about broad economic topics. I really enjoyed recent stuff like discussing how no ‘free appetizer’ like bread or tortilla chips is really free when you dine out, or the way the NBA salary system works.
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour – Along with the associated blog, PCHH is a show all about pop culture offerings like TV, movies, books, music et al. There’s regulars, plus they pull in other NPR folks as guests often which really helps keep the discussion and perspective fresh and fun. Usually they’ll have a broad topic to discuss that can encompass any number of pop culture formats, they’ll often have quizzes (like trying to guess clips of regrettably awful tv shows, or all about Batman comics), and they wrap up with What’s Making Us Happy, which I always love!
99% Invisible – I’ve not yet been bored by this fantastic, bite-sized podcast all about design. From urban ruins, to how uniforms are worn in baseball, to the history of hijacking.. this really encompasses everything about how design touches our lives in many ways.
Good Job Brain – This is really up there as maybe my favourite podcasts. A group of four friends who love going to pub trivia nights decided to start a trivia podcast of their own. Most of the episodes have a theme (for instance, the 90s, board games, cheating and stealing) and every handful of episodes is an ‘all-quiz bonanza’ where each host will pick topics of their choosing to talk about/quiz co-hosts about. Fun times, offbeat trivia, laughs! It’s got it all.
The Dice Tower & Ludology – Again, I’m lumping a couple of similarly-themed podcasts together for ease. The Dice Tower is a fairly general show about board games – reviews, discussions, top 10 lists themed to stuff like best children’s game or best worker placement game etc. There’s also segments from contributors that are generally on the interesting side too (although I admit there’s a few that I will skip every so often). If you’re even casually into the hobby, I think this is a good, well-rounded podcast to check out. Ludology (part of the ‘Dice Tower Network’ of podcasts) would be something I’d recommend for people already well into the hobby – they discuss a lot about game design, game theory, the development of gaming etc. Thoroughly nerdy and wonderful – I support them on Patreon!
Star Talk Radio – Who doesn’t like to hear Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about space?! He’s got a comedian co-host each week, and Neil answers listener questions about all sorts of things. It’s always interesting and very wonderful. SPACE!!!
On top of these, I have so many more in my queue that are just such a huge volume of output that I can’t keep up, or else I haven’t really gotten as much enjoyment out of them as I thought I might. Just to begin with, there’s Snap Judgement, This American Life (yes, I know, I’m the worst person in the world), NPR’s Ask Me Another, Stuff You Should Know, How to do Everything, Stuff You Missed In History Class.. even falling back on keeping up with the Nerdist podcast of late. I tend to cherry pick from all these ones because they’re great when I go in fairly sure I’ll be interested in the topic/who’s being interviewed etc. But they’re all terrific, and you should check them out too if you have more time to listen to podcasts than you know what to do with 🙂 Get your ears ready!