Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

I might just be perceiving things differently, but I never considered Dave Eggers to be the type of author who is... direct. There's usually a lot of odd pseudo-stream-of-consciousness stuff or more experimental ideas, but the idea of a Dave Eggers novel that feels both modern and accessible feels kind of foreign.

The Circle is effectively Dave Eggers making an attempt at 1984 for the Google age. It's equal parts near-futurism, social commentary, and scaremongering cautionary tale, which means it's inherently readable and also kind of infuriating at the same time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2013 Day 14: Chocodile.

It's day 14 of our often sleep-inducing sojourn into the Lego Star Wars advent calendar which, so far, has really only excelled in turning my $50 into a pile of indeterminate brown bricks. Will the trend continue today? I'm counting on it!

Wake up, Sleepy Head, and pull back the covers of Door Number 14...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 14: Branching Out.

It's day 14 of our sordid romp into the fetid, untamed wilds of the Jurassic Park Playmobil advent calendar and things have ground to a stand still. When our protagonist, Dr. Ian Goldblum, asked Serpent Satan for a willing female companion to succumb to his every twisted whim, Satan tricked him by summoning an ironic female raptor - one of Goldblum's sworn enemies. Since then, the two of them have been holed up in a leafy grove, staring each other down, contemplating their next move. What will happen?

Let's peer through Door Number 14 and find out...

The Unheard 13 of 2013: Day 6: Basia Bulat - "Wires"

I still don't know how to pronounce Basia Bulat's name, and I think she bears a really strong resemblance to The Waitress from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but this song is a great highlight from her latest album, Tall Tall Shadow, and the live video above (because no version of the studio cut exists on YouTube) shows the versatility both of the song and of Bulat, who has put out three great indie-folk albums over the last few years.

Basia Bulat's website is here, and if you like this, her old albums are definitely worth your time.

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2013 Day 13: Roger.

It's day 13 of our thought-provoking journey into the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar as we dissect and disseminate it's often baffling contents, which are rarely obvious to anyone but the die-hard fans of Attack of the Clones. (Of which there are three in the entire world). Will today be any different? Does Lego have bold and brilliant plans for the second half of our ADVENTure? I'm not so sure...

Let's pop open Door Number 13 and see what we got...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 13: Intermission.

It's day 13 of our action-packed rumble in the jungles of the Jurassic Park Playmobil advent calendar, where one man, Dr. Ian Goldblum, has hooned around on a blood-red hellcycle, animated a dinosaur skeleton, danced with the devil, and had a raptor fall in love with him! It's a lot to take in and my poor heart is beating so fast that I'm not sure it's even safe to continue.

But let's man up and bust open Door Number 13 to see what happens next...

Thank GIF it's Friday!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Unheard 13 of 2013: Day 5: Naomi Pilgrim - "No Gun"

Naomi Pilgrim's "No Gun" has gotten a lot of buzz in recent weeks as an interesting pop song. Personally, I'm not sure about how much mainstream attention it could get, but, then again, Lorde went to #1 internationally with a fairly weird sound coming about, so there's a chance I just don't know anything at all. Regardless, if you've always wondered what the end result of a pop song inspired by someone who listened to a lot of Bjork or Portishead when they were younger and think dance and R&B music today is pretty great, this is worth four minutes of your time. It's absolutely a grower, but it's become a must-listen for me as of late.

Naomi Pilgrim's website is here. Looking forward to what comes next.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2013 Day 12: Drop It!

We're officially halfway through our sometimes thrilling, sometimes soul-crushing Attack of the Clones themed Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar! And just look at that crazy alien mocking us on the door...

If he's inside then I'll be pretty glad, but my Force prescience tells me that we won't quite be that lucky.

Let's open Door Number 12 and see what we got...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 12: Land Ho!

We're halfway through our terrifying trek into the heart of the Jurassic Park Playmobil advent calendar, where our anarchic anti-hero Dr. Ian Goldblum has met Satan, made three wishes, and now has a giant, lusty female raptor madly in love with him. I have no idea what is possibly going to top that, except to say that today's door is mighty BIG!...

Let's recklessly swing open the (huge, double) Door Number 12 and see what we got! It's gotta be great, right? RIGHT?!

Christmas Against Humanity: 12 Days of BS - Days 1&2

Cards Against Humanity is a card game for horrible people. It makes you feel worse about yourself the more you win. Because winning means that you played the most worst combination of cards. Kids love it. Its pretty much an Apples to Apples clone, but actually worth playing. And has sold a crazy number of copies over the past almost three years.

Last year for Christmas they sold a holiday pack using a "pay-what-you-want" model, which resulted in them selling 85,000 copies raising $70k which they then donated all of to Wikipedia. This year they are at it again with their 12 days of Holiday Bullshit, where people could pay $12 to get a gift sent to you each day for 12 days.

They sold 100,000 sets in under 7 hours, making $1.2 million.

I was able to get in on this years holiday madness, read on for what CAH sent me on day 1 and 2!

The Unheard 13 of 2013: Day 4: Matt Pond - "Human Beings"

Matt Pond, who typically records under the Matt Pond PA moniker, put out a "solo album" this year, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand that caught me by surprise. It's a great, tuneful, poppy record with a lot of great songs on it. While I've traditionally come to expect that from his prior work, this is the first album he's put out that I've felt like I needed to keep in the long term rotation.

My favorite song from the album, by far, is "Human Beings," a song that's much slower than the other fare on the album and yet still has a lot of emotional weight to it. The strained delivery, the instrumentation, everything about it really speaks to me on a really deep level, and it's become a true favorite of the year for me. You can find his website here.

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2013 Day 11: Robopup.

It's day number 11 into our sometimes baffling descent into the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar which seems to alternate wildly between giving us hope and punching us in the face. (Or if you bought this for your kids, which a lot of you did, then it's punching your kids in the face). Just one day short of the halfway point we've yet to receive anything that has truly blown us away. Will today be the day. No... Probably not. 

Let's kick open Door Number 11 and see...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 11: Gift-Rapt.

It's day 11 into our frankly quite bewildering journey into the depths of the Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar where a surprise appearance of Satan has plunged our current storyline into chaos and darkness. Having been faced with Satan in serpent form, our plucky raven-haired protagonist/archeologist/chaos theorist, Dr. Ian Goldblum, has been granted three wishes in order to prove Satan's claim that he can give Ian supremacy over the dinosaurs (in exchange for his immortal soul). Ian wasted two wished on inattention and excess, but today he makes his third. What will it be?

Let's open Door Number 11 and find out...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Unheard 13 of 2013: Day 3: Harper Simon - "'99"

Every so often, you hear a song that hits directly in that sweet spot and simply will not leaveunder any circumstances. That has been my overall relationship with Harper Simon's "'99," a song that I first head sometime in February of this past year and have not gotten out of my playlist since.

The melody alone is pretty great, it feels like it belongs in that sort of indie pop place right from 1999, the tone is just fuzzed out enough to have an indie quality while still maintaining a more mainstream production standard, and if the chorus is not stuck in your head for days after you've listened to this song, I might question your actual soul.

Harper Simon is the son of music legend Paul Simon, and this song is from his album Division Street. You can find his website here.

Kickstart the Week: Pallette Freeform Controls

One of my favorite things to do is explore Kickstarter in all the areas because there is just so much innovation and cool ideas. Mind you a lot of the times you'll get 7 different iphone cases that are more or less the same thing but made of a slightly more rare wood, but then you'll come across something uniquely as cool as Pallette.

Pallette is a customizable hardware controller for your computer that redefines how you interact with your programs. Consisting of buttons, knobs and sliders that not only allows you to individually program to a particular task per application, but they can also physically be rearranged in a configurment to your liking. Using tactile physical controls programed to specific tasks in programs like Photoshop would allow for you to have more precise control over the settings when working, changing how work is done to your needs as opposed to you having to conform to the existing standard.

Custom setup for photo editing
What I like about this is its versatility and being able to use it across multiple programs and applications as opposed to just one. While in many ways it would make sense to use this for creative professional work, it also has endless possibilities  for using it with gaming. Imagine setting up a full rig to replicate the cockpit of a mech or a flight sim and having a much more immersive experience while playing. Imagine a future where Spaceteam was available for PC/Mac/Linux and you can use these controls to fly your space team to success. More realistically is that a controller like this could allow for greater adaptability of applications for people with disabilities who might otherwise have a difficult time with a task as designed within the program, but with a slider control associated with that same task may allow for them to do so much more.

An over-the-top setup
The price point on this is a bit steep ($99 CAD for 4 components - a power supply, 1 button, 1 knob, 1 slider) and it only goes up from there, so that theoretical Mech control console I spoke of might end up costing you as much as an actual Mech (used though, a new state-of-the-art Mechs prices are highly inflated). But new tech is never cheap. This campaign (as of this writing) is almost $4k over its funding goal of $100,000 and with another 26 days to go it likely will only skyrocket. I would be interested in seeing if they opt to offer stretch goals like campaigns typically do with board games, but considering the tech side of what might be required adding on free modules may not be viable. Surprisingly electronics can be more expensive than card board.

Direct Link to the Pallette KS Campaign

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar Day 10: Builder.

It's day 10 of our bold trek into the Lego Star Wars advent calendar and we have desperately been dodging giant asteroids of disappointment. Will we be crushed into paste, or will we finally strike gold? Or will we somehow manage to obliviously navigate into a giant space slugs arsehole before confusingly emerging from its mouth? Hey - I saw that movie! How else do you explain what was going on!?

Let's penetrate Door Number 10 and see what we got...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 10: Wishes.

It's day 10 of what began as a fun romp into the Jurassic Park Playmobil advent calendar, but has quickly devolved into a sinister story of temptation and dark magics. Our raven-haired protagonist, Dr. Ian Goldblum, used foul necromancy to animate the skeleton of a dinosaur which managed to summon Satan - in serpent form - who wishes to take his immortal soul in exchange for supremacy over the thunderlizards. Will Dr. Ian accept?

Let's open Door Number 10 and find out...

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Unheard 13 of 2013: Day 2: Sam Shelton - "Dizzy"

I can remember why I looked this album up when it came out, because I got an album of hers when she was recording as Samantha Shelton. I lost track for some time after that, and then her newest album., Reservoir, came out, and I fell in love. She was formerly an actress, but didn't do much of anything I saw. Frankly, I hope she sticks to music.

"Dizzy" is a really fun poppy tune that has a melody that stuck in my head for months and wouldn't let go. It's a really solid song that really speaks to how well the whole album is, and how great she is as a performer. Definitely hoping we get more from her soon, but until then, you can check her website.

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar Day 9: Assaulted.

It's day 9 of the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and we are experiencing a minifigure drought! It's drier than the plains of Tatooine, a Bantha's ballsack, Obi Wan's wit, or Aunt Beru's husk. Where are all our smiling, studded-headed heroes? Will it rain today, or are we lost in the desert?

Let's pry open Door Number 9 and hope for the best...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 9: Satan.

It is day 9 of our soiree into the screaming wilds of the Jurassic Park Playmobil advent calendar and what began as John Hammond's scientific folly has actually led to some pretty dark and mysterious deeds. Our protagonist/archeologist/chaos-theorist Dr. Ian Goldblum had been arming himself to the teeth and tearing around on his blood red hellcycle, The Heartvester, looking to punch dinosaurs to death and devour their hearts. He did actually manage to reduce a full-size dinosaur to a pile of a bones before we even got a glimpse of it, then he used never-before-seen dark powers of necromancy to resurrect and animate the skeleton. What could possibly happen today?

Let's open Door Number 9 and see...

FPcast! The Fruitless Pursuits Podcast for December 9th! In Case You Were Wondering...

This week we discuss the Wonder Woman casting, Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, X-Men Apocalypse, 300 sequel, Ender's Game, Catching Fire, reminisce about The Dark Crystal, a Norse story and much MORE! Stick it into the holes on the side of your head!

Download here! (Click to stream, right-click to save)

Or subscribe to us on iTunes!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2013 Day 8: Another Pile of Ship.

It's day 8 of our losing battle with the Lego Star Wars advent calendar, where the minifigs are sparse and the blocky use-your-blossoming-imagination-kids vehicles are plenty. Will today shock us with something awesome and unexpected like a rancor or Admiral Ackbar dressed up like one of the three wise men? Probably not...

But let's pop open Door Number 8 and see what we got...

Jurassic Park Playmobil Advent Calendar Day 8: Skinny.

It's day 8 of our bold adventure into the deadly, terror-laced Jurassic Park Playmobil advent calendar and we're getting pretty desperate to glimpse an actual dinosaur! In fact, our swarthy protagonist, Dr. Ian Goldblum, is getting so eager to murder something that he's been wildly and unsuccessfully attempting to punch butterflies out of the air. Will today be our lucky day?

Let's kick open Door Number 8 and find out!...