Things I’m Digging These Days | March 2014

Posted: March 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

What follows is a collection of quick notes about things I’m enjoying these days. Maybe you’ll like some of it, too. If you think I’m wrong about something, or have something you’re digging and think I should check out, please drop a line in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

Chance the Rapper, The Weeknd & Broken Bells

One might not think that these items go together seamlessly, but my Spotify Starred list has been on deep rotation at work and on the commute for a few weeks now.  A few years ago I made a commitment to pick-up any music someone else referred me to, and it’s been a winning proposition in most cases.  The three acts above came onto my radar from some pretty diverse set of sources.  I learn about Chance the Rapper on an NPR blog of all things, and go on board with Broken Bells after hearing them on the Nerdist podcast.


When the service initially launched in the US, I signed up and was quickly unimpressed, going back to iTunes and filling in my back catalog of bands I’d missed. After I read a post on SEER Interactive’s blog about how they created shared playlists for the office, I tossed the idea around with a few colleagues and jumped back on board.  The selection seems greatly improved, though it still lacks a lot of stuff more than a few years old. I enjoy the ability to play local files without much effort (opposed to mapping the new music to add to an iTunes library) and I was pleasantly surprised by their mixtape selections.  BTW, I haven’t launched Pandora or iTunes radio since putting the Spotify app on my phone.

Chris Hardwick

Homie is knocking it out of the park with his Aisha Tyler-esque hustle (queue 5th Wheel vs Shipmates comparsions, ha ha). Having hosting jobs on three networks at the same time, plus continuing his original, self-published creative works at Nerdist, there’s a lot to look up to there. Having recently reinvigorated our gaming podcast, I’m trying to study Hardwick’s hosting mannerisms and easy-going interview style for my own uses, but often end up just nerding out on the topics at hand.


Neil De Grasse Tyson (not related to Degrassi, I’ve been told) makes science accessible and still impressive in it’s immencity.  Before Cosmos aired, I heard him on an episode of Nerdist where he talked about the potential that humans are just not smart enough to understand the nature of the universe; an idea I’ve been ruminating on for a while. Considering that our closest genetic relative, the Bonobo chimp, is ~98.5% match to our DNA. That 1.5% difference enables us to do things like build cities, develop complex mathematical systems such as calculus, and most importantly, understand the value in passing our learning on to others. When we look at that huge difference, then try to imagine how advanced an organism that’s 1.5% more evolved that us, our egotism (or American exceptionalism) becomes very evident. That’s the kind of thinking that a real educator develops in your mind.

Lost Girl

Normally I don’t go for SyFy programming, not after they ditched me without a proper resolution to StarGate Universe and made a crappy Being Human redux, but somehow I got into Helix & Bitten this year, which presented me with ample commercials advertising Lost Girl. In mid-February I discovered that the first 4 seasons were on Netflix, and have been plowing through episodes most nights since then. It’s weird because I can’t really say that the series is that good; the episodes are very formulaic and the combat is extremely underwhelming, but it seems to be scratching that itch while I wait for new seasons of Doctor Who & GoT.  It’s actually not bad for matinee faire, and seems to help my mind slow down in that hour before I go to bed.

Indie Comics

When I got back into comic books in 2005, I went straight for the classics from my youth, X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, etc. In between, I’d pick-up trades for Sin City, Powers, and occasionally follow writers like Ennis, Morrison or Bendis to their other, creator-owned projects. By the large, I’d stayed away from real indie comics because the spectrum was so diverse and I was relying on the brand identity to show me what was “good”.  Jump to this week, and my recent trip to the comic book shop was fueled by a hope that I could pick up new issues of East of West, Saga, or Alex + Ada. Sure, I ended up getting Uncanny X-Force, X-Men and Uncanny X-Men (I’m a sucker for anything with Psylocke or Shadow Cat in it), but I can always get those in TPBs; it’s the indie comics that get me to actually go in the store. Kudos to Image Comics.

Specific to each title:

– East of West is a sci-fi western set in a dystopian, no-longer-united America. Cowboys on horse-machines that shoot lasers and have mystical shaman side-kicks; sign me up! Plus, a series with a clear end from the beginning is satisfying in a way that Marvel or DC can never provide.

– Saga self-identifies as an “epic space opera/fantasy”.  Centered around fugitives fleeing a civil war, Brian K. Vaughn tells a great story that isn’t afraid to follow it’s own path, and even take breaks between publication to make sure quality doesn’t suffer to sales.  This is probably the only book I purchase on Comixology consistently.  There’s also a cowboy-type dude in this one; maybe my AZ roots are bleeding through subconsciously?

– Alex + Ada takes place in the near future, and reeled me in within the first couple pages with it’s display of nearly-achievable technology and impact on our day-to-day lives.  It reminds me a lot of a story that could occur in one of those Microsoft Future Vision videos.

Diablo III

I stopped playing D3 probably less than a month after it’s initial release.  I wasn’t really into the repetitive grind for gear without a long-range goal, and had to invest my dwindling gaming hours into titles that provided more enjoyment, such as LoL or ME3. With the recent pre-expansion patch, though, the PC version has been improved to more closely mimic the console experience, and I’ve been having fun smashing demons with my lightning wizard this week. I probably won’t get the expansion at launch; between Steam summer sale and Blizzard’s own promotions, we gamers are disincentivized to buy any games we don’t NEED to have a full price, I can wait a few months and pick it up for half price if it gets good enough reviews. For the current title, though, I’d say it’s worth the $20 price point it’s going at this week. I’ll be playing hardcore mode until my wizard suffers perma-death and I drop the title once again.

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One Comment on “Things I’m Digging These Days | March 2014”

  1. 1 RyanGPhx said at 2:03 pm on March 15th, 2014:

    New on Relevant Wit Things I’m Digging These Days | March 2014