Sunday, June 30, 2013

What I'm Playing

I realize now, considering the amount of video game content I consume, this should really be its own category and, especially under the diametric tutelage of Zero Punctuation and Extra Credits, I'm beginning to appreciate interactive media as an art form more and more.

Here, in short, then, is a rundown of the games I've lately been playing (coinciding, notably, with a recent Humble Bundle.)

Awesomenauts: Selected as a vehicle through which to play co-op with the missus, Awesomenauts is mindless, if somewhat tepid, fun. Devoid, more or less, of any narrative worth or even mechanical innovation, the game's cartoonish art style, basic capture-the-flag mechanics and humor that seems to try a little too hard combine to create something akin to Super Smash Brothers on an enjoyability level, but devoid of even that simple game's sophistication. A stronger adherence to the 1980's cartoon aesthetic they were reaching towards might help negate some of the game's forgetability.

Capsized: Despite its simple premise and handful of inherent bugs, Capsized is a surprisingly rewarding experience. The bizarre textured art style is really separated from and complimented by the simple story; an astronaut crashes on a savage alien planet and must secure some means of escape for himself and his crew. With a startlingly sophisticated series of weapons and mechanics at your disposal, from jetpacks to gravity hooks to nanite technology, Capsized, while remaining inside its humble shell as a sidescrolling 2D platformer is ultimately better designed than you might imagine. Recommended.

Dear Esther: As contentious as this game was and as much of an experience as playing it really evolves into, I cannot say, unsurprisingly, that I enjoyed it. I won't go much further into detail than that (as I know the missus, who's currently playing, will doubtlessly read this), but while the game wasn't precisely my cup of tea, I'm absolutely fascinated by the prospect of taking games in this direction and would heartily encourage everyone to play it, to have their boundaries shaken somewhat. Recommended.

Thomas Was Alone: Probably my overall favorite of the four, Thomas Was Alone deeply, intuitively, profoundly understand minimalism, a virtue the mainstream video games industry sorely lacks. On top of beautiful UI, deceptively artistic design and wonderful voice acting, Thomas Was Alone, as its most impressive feature, a wedding of story and mechanics. That said, the personification the game manages to evoke from its incredibly lifeless characters is maybe even more astounding than that. All that said, the game's far from perfect – much of the game seems to be plotless puzzles, barricades between the player and the story and the story itself, frankly, dawdles in places it might not need to, but it's as innovative as one could hope and damn artistic in the process. Recommended.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Have ye seen the YouTube channel?

In January, my compatriots and I embarked on a year-long challenge; to write, produce, direct and star in one short film a month for the entire year of 2013. We've thus far been successful and reception on YouTube's been small, if enthusiastic, a far superior reaction to large and blasé, in my view.

To that end, here's a link, in case you haven't seen them. The films are in a wide variety of genres, styles and lengths, each, more or less, following the conceit that Dan Glaser directed them, Steven Molony stars in them and I wrote them.

Stay tuned in a few days for our next short, which promises to be a found-footage confessional, filmed and improvised entirely by Steven Molony!

Friday, June 28, 2013


Disclaimer: A few faint spoilers for China Miéville's The Scar may follow. Be advised.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Four Hoodlums

If you're unfamiliar with the theory of the Four Humors/Four Temperaments, it's a fascinating rubric within which to sink some time, analyzing your friends, family and favorite fictional characters against.

For funsies, I thought I'd dissect the four primary crewmembers of The Unconstant Lover, for your amusement.

  • Sanguine (blood): Extroverted and people-centered. Generally likes socialization, fun crowds, and showcases of people's talents; highly opposed to dwelling on the past. Exhibits optimism, compassion, good cheer, a love of fun, enthusiasm. On the flip side, they may be impulsive, self-indulgent, wear their hearts on their sleeves, or even be a space case. Tendency to anger-burst, followed by "forgive and forget"; tendency to move on rather than blame anyone. Examples: Griffindor, airbender, Michelangelo, Leonard McCoy, Tony Stark and Two-Bit Switch.
  • Choleric (yellow bile): Extroverted and task-centered. Mainly seeks success and completion of tasks, and likes to be in charge of successful projects. Exhibits leadership, dominance, ambition, charisma, very passionate. But also easily angered or upset and shows arrogance, narrow-mindedness, obsession, and a Hair-Trigger Temper — but known not for any kinds of emotion otherwise. Rather than forgive, tendency to snap and move on while snobbishly outcasting; tendency to blame others. Examples: Slytherin, firebender, Raphael, James T. Kirk, Thor and Captain Nemo.
  • Melancholic (black bile): Introverted and task-centered. These characters can be extremely passionate and have high ideals. The intentions and longings found in this temperament are mainly to be mannerly and follow the rules and to see justice and goodness done, being the community's moral compass. These characters focus on the world of internal thought and the best way to apply those thoughts. Independent, courteous, organized, hard-working, analytical; but also a detached, neurotic, obsessive perfectionist whose insanely high standards may lead to depression. Rather than forgive, tendency to withdraw and brood; tendency of blame on others, self, and "all of the above." Examples: Ravenclaw, earthbender, Leonardo, Uhura, Bruce Banner and Moira Quicksilver.
  • Phlegmatic (phlegm): Introverted and people-centered. The dreams and passions of this temperament are mainly the spread of kindness, forgiveness, and restoration of harmony. Generally calm, rational, quiet, and reliable; but also docile and timid; lazy, and frequently hides all emotions (other than sympathy). Tends to be dependent on others, either by choice or because of insecurity. This temperament is a people person but sometimes expresses these traits in an awkward fashion. Tendency to perhaps brood temporary, but then "forgive and forget"; tendency to blame self.  Examples: Hufflepuff, waterbender, Donatello, Spock, Steve Rogers and Odisseus. 
(In the interest of full disclosure, my group of friends breaks down thusly: Sanguine: Dan, Choleric: Steven, Melancholic: myself and Phlegmatic: the missus.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Favorite Kind of Thug

What I'm Reading: The Scar by China Miéville. I devoured Perdido Street Station, Miéville's sprawling, if juvenile, entry to Bas-Lag – fantasy done right, in my opinion – but I find cracking this one open consistently difficult. It's obviously impressive, as I suspect anything set in this grabbag world must be and the setting, a pirate city, should obviously grab me more, but I think some of the heedless momentum of Perdido is lost here. That said, I have a difficult time imagining Miéville less than a three-of-five for me.

What I'm Listening To: Macklemore. Like everyone else.

What I'm Watching: Rome. This one's been a gradual watch with The Missus, but it's a series of really surprising quality. A nice mix of historical relevance and Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress motif, it portrays an unrelenting picture of ancient Roman life and politics, which somehow (more so in the first season than the second) manages to straddle the gritty realism I appreciate in my television without the immature dependency on sex/shit/violence as flavor that HBO's other period politico Game of Thrones falls prey too.

Plus Ray Stevenson plays my favorite kind of thug.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Here I Dreamt I Was A Playwright

Caught Fugitive Kind's entry in the Hollywood Fringe this year. There's two more performances, if you're in the area. You can read my review here, but in short, highly recommended.

What the show really did, however, was rekindle my love of theater, especially Fringe theater. There's something intangibly earnest about the whole enterprise, especially when contrasted against the movie business. In an industry too cowardly to accept anything that might resemble financial risk, seeing innovative stagecraft so unanimously encouraged is a fresh shot of invigoration.

On a more visceral level, I miss the guerilla shoddiness Fringe instills in you. With all the time, budget and medium constraints, honest innovation and creativity are natural byproducts, rather than ideals one struggles toward. Because I wouldn't be myself otherwise, I've already devised a few potential ideas for another stage show that I'd love to mount, given half a chance.

Expect to hear more about this.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


A somewhat public artistic figure in nerd culture that I admire was embroiled in something of an internet snafu yesterday concerning a sensitive social issue. And it made my brain-wheels squeak.

Charles Bukowski (a writer I'll baldfacedly confess that I've never read) is quoted as saying something off the cuff that I find limitlessly inspiring, particularly when I'm struggling with both my work or its relevance.
"The writer has no responsibility other than to jack off in bed alone and write a good page."
As crass as the statement may seem, the core assertion, that artistry doesn't confer either responsibility or, in a more subtextual sense, relevance, I find myself mentally referring to constantly and attempting to hold my own work substrate against.

What I'm dithering about is, more or less, a disconnect between what an artist, particularly a high-profile one, does and how the community perceives them. The world's most acclaimed playwright (named, for our purposes, Shakespeare), for example, may have disgustingly intolerant, ignorant or backwards thinking but, as long as it doesn't influence their stagecraft one iota, it's, to my viewing, irrelevant. Nobody reads Shakespeare for his jingoist personal opinions – they read Shakespeare for his beautiful fucking poetry.

Perhaps this is narrow-minding thinking but, as far as I'm concerned, as long as a creator continues to create original, engaging and overall entertaining works, their personal, political or religious statements couldn't be less relevant. The notion that "with great audience comes great responsibility" seems almost immature on the part of said audience, an audience unable to separate their own lives from the work of those artists whose work they digest, as though every person is projecting their mutually exclusive baggage upon a creator too surrounded by taboos and perceived insensitivity that they're rendered incapable of creating uncensored artwork.

To this end, I feel as though, as a favor to my miniscule audience, I'm gonna refrain to publishing any opinion or argument that doesn't directly pertain to my work. Have personal sensitivity regarding abortion/gay marriage/the demonization of wolves by Montanan ranchers? Don't worry – you'll never hear my thoughts on the matter and therefore, I'll never disappoint you.

Now, having already typed what I feel to be a decent page, time to decamp off and complete my other writerly responsibility.