- designer: Bruce Allen
- publisher: Zoch/Rio Grande
- date: 2009
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 184/7.25
- position on my top 100 in 2005: did not appear
- age: 10+
- # of players: 2-4
- print status: out of print (which surprises me!)
- cost: used copies are not difficult to find through BGG
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
- designer: Michael Schacht
- publisher: Ravensburger
- date: 2003
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 791/6.75
- position on my top 100 in 2005: did not appear
- age: 12+
- # of players: 2
- print status: out of print
- cost: you can occasionally find copies for sale - but the good news is that the designer has a print & play version of the game available on his website!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I watched the Sondheim! Birthday Concert earlier this summer on Netflix streaming - and while this isn't really supposed to be a review, it was too long for a Facebook status post, so I shifted it over here & expanded it. The concert was filled with amazing performances of some of Stephen Sondheim's best music by top Broadway stars. I know that a number of the folks who follow my blog probably don't know Stephen Sondheim from a hole in a wall - so, here's some bullet points just for you:
- Unless you're a musical theater devotee, you probably haven't heard much of his music - except for a bunch of insipid re-recordings of "Send in the Clowns"... a song that doesn't make much sense yanked from the context of the musical it was written for, A Little Night Music. (He also wrote much of the lyrics for West Side Story - but didn't write the music.)
- Oddly enough, A Little Night Music is the only Sondheim musical I've ever seen in a theater.
- He is probably the most influential living Broadway composer... even though most of his shows had short runs in their original productions (Merrily We Roll Along - a personal favorite - was only on Broadway two weeks).
- On the other hand, his shows are revived over & over - and often in productions of amazing quality.
Performances on the video (I've bolded the ones I really enjoyed):
- "America" (Dancers, West Side Story)
- "Something's Coming" (Alexander Gemingnani, West Side Story)
- "We're Gonna Be Alright" (Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley, Do I Hear a Waltz?)
- "Don't Laugh" (Victoria Clark, Hot Spot)
- "Johanna"(Nathan Gunn, Sweeney Todd)
- "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" and "Love Will See Us Through" (Matt Cavenaugh, Jenn Colella, Laura Osnes, Bobby Steggert, Follies)
- "Too Many Mornings" (Nathan Gunn, Audra McDonald, Follies)
- "The Road You Didn't Take" (John McMartin, Follies)
- "It Takes Two" (Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Into the Woods)
- "Growing Up" (Jim Walton, Merrily We Roll Along)
- "Finishing the Hat" (Mandy Patinkin, Sunday in the Park with George)
- "Move On" (Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Sunday in the Park with George)
- "Pretty Women" (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Sweeney Todd)
- "A Little Priest" (Michael Cerveris, George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Sweeney Todd)
- "Theme from Reds" with Pas De Deux (NY Philharmonic, Two ABT Dancers Maria and Blaine)
- "So Many People" (Laura Benanti, Saturday Night)
- "Beautiful Girls" (David Hyde Pierce, Follies)
- "Ladies Who Lunch" (Patti LuPone, Company)
- "Losing My Mind" (Marin Mazzie, Follies)
- "The Glamorous Life" (Audra McDonald, A Little Night Music)
- "Could I Leave You?" (Donna Murphy, Follies)
- "Not a Day Goes By" (Bernadette Peters, Merrily We Roll Along)
- "I'm Still Here" (Elaine Stritch, Follies)
- "Sunday" (Broadway Chorus, Sunday in the Park with George)
- "Happy Birthday" (All Cast)
Sunday, August 28, 2011
OK, these are not new games (well, with the exception of the Magic Labyrinth expansion)… but they’re new to me. And, more importantly, they’re new to my kids. Zooloretto Mini The first time I played Zooloretto (the original game that won the Spiel des Jahres), I was underwhelmed. It was nice to look at, it worked just fine… but somehow it just didn’t grab me. But I was willing to try a second play – and that was enough to get me to buy a copy… and then track down the multiple little expansions. And then Michael Schacht got serious about expanding the game: XXL, Exotic, Boss & the sequel/sister game, Aquaretto. For the record, I’m a huge fan now – esp. when using Exotic & Boss together. (If you’d like to know more about my opinions of the plethora of expansions, check out my blog post Renovating Your Zoo(loretto).) I managed to get Zooloretto Mini from my gamer ‘brother from another mother’ (Mark Johnson of the Boardgames to Go podcast)… primarily because I thought that having the new animals would be kind of cool. (And, yes, there was a bit of the whole “I want to own everything Zooloretto-ish/I’m a collector” bug involved.) Surprisingly, there’s more… well, less AND more in the box. By stripping out the money element of the game, the designer (Michael Schacht) has managed to make a version of Zooloretto that plays quickly and is simple enough for my six-year old son to enjoy. Yet there are enough interesting decisions to make it an involving 30 minute filler for gamers. Monster 4 The Lego Games series debuted to much anticipation… and then an equal amount of groaning & complaining from gamers who were miffed that Lego, a toy company, wasn’t making games for adults. Seriously, I mean, who do they think their target market is? Adults males who spend 5+ hours a week on BGG, right? Well, no. It’s kids – and by that measure, Monster 4 (which is a dice-y variant on tic-tac-toe) is a success. Players have a set of four monster pawns which they place on a 4×4 grid of “graves”. The die roll tells you where you can place your pawns… or if you get to add a skeleton (wild pawn) to the board… or if you can send the giant spider to clear off a section of the graveyard. The first to get four in a row wins. The game is quick – quick enough that we typically play 3-4 rounds in about 15 minutes. It’s not going to set the gaming world on fire, but both my boys (10 & 6) enjoy the theme, the cool Lego pieces and the speed at which it plays. Note: like I’ve said before, the Lego Games series has one major same feature and/or bug (depends on how you look at it): by leaving wide creative space for players to customize & change the games, they’ve left pretty big holes in the rule sets. For their intended audience, I think this is actually a good idea – but it’s pretty much guaranteed to make adult gamers a little nutso. Kinder Bunnies: Their First Adventure What can you say about the Bunnies that hasn’t already been said? It’s Gamer Uno… and that’s damning Uno with faint praise. Kinder Bunnies: Their First Adventure is less violent & less complicated… but with no more game than the original Killer Bunnies. It’s still too easy to get shut out of the game because you’ve been shut out of bunnies (which power all of the “good” cards in the deck). The game still ends with a lottery – if you have the one magic carrot, it doesn’t matter how the rest of the game went. It’s an exercise in futility for any adult with a half a brain. OK, I exaggerate – a quarter of a brain would suffice. At the same time, my six-year old son (who is reading pretty well) absolutely adores the game – and not just for playing by the rules. He arranges & rearranges the cards, inventing his own (very possibly better) games with the components. I can not recommend the game – it’s a chaotic mess of a “take that” card game that nearly drove my wife to throw the cards across the table during her one play. But that doesn’t mean your kid will agree with me. Das magische Labyrinth: Erweiterung (The Magic Labyrinth: Expansion) The Magic Labyrinth won the Kinderspiel des Jahres (Childrens Game of the Year) in 2009 – and it deserved it. It’s the first truly functional hidden labyrinth game (yes, I know & love Magical Maze/Goblin’s Gold, but it has some problems as a game) that works for 2-4 players. The design rewards players who pay attention not only to their own moves but also the moves of others as they create a mental map of the hidden walls. Obviously, a review of the expansion is aimed at those folks who already own the game – so, what does this long thin box contain?
- a set of eight “magic walls” – which, due to their construction, act like one-way doors. You can pass through going one way but are stopped going the other.
- a set of four “magical hats” (made of felt) – once per game, you can cause another player to lose his turn
- a set of four magic wands (wooden) – once per game, you can discard the tile you’re searching for & draw a new tile
- a set of four potion bottles (wooden) – once per game, you can move without rolling the dice… moving as far as you want (until you hit a wall)
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Thanks to the kind folks over at NPR, I had a chance to listen this morning to the new tribute/cover album, Muppets: The Green Album... and I thought I'd share some quick impressions with my faithful readers.
- It's actually a pretty good "cover" album - on par with one of my other favorites of the genre, Schoolhouse Rocks. (BTW, the cover of "Mr. Morton" on that album is cool with a capital C.)
- Some real highlights include Weezer's take on "The Rainbow Connection", Alkaline Trio's rockin' run through "Movin' Right Along" & Andrew Bird's thoughtful "Bein' Green."
- I don't recognize some of the songs - I wonder if they're from Sesame Street rather than The Muppet Show.
- I did not like OK Go's version of the theme song or Rachael Yamagata's overly-breathy rendition of "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday"... and as nice a job as Matt Nathanson did with "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along", it just makes me want to hear Kermit & Rowlf sing it - including the lovely tag line, "I've never seen a guy that green have the blues that bad."
Monday, August 15, 2011
One of my ministry heroes, Ed Stetzer, has been blogging about The Pornification of American Culture recently. So far, he's posted three articles:
- Part 1: Introducing the Issue
- Part 2: Not That There Is Anything Wrong With That
- Part 3: Just the Facts
It helps me, as a recovering addict to pornography, to make a couple of things clear to folks:
So you don't have to do too much searching, here's the direct links to those articles I've written:
- the word addiction explains the compulsive hamster wheel cycle of suck that is porn - it doesn't excuse the way it hurt my wife or my churches, even when they didn't know what was going on
- talking about porn without talking about masturbation is like discussing peace in the Middle East without discussing religion - which makes it INSANELY difficult to talk about in your typical church setting.
Monday, August 08, 2011
They're just sitting there in the fridge, calling your name.. the last couple of pieces of pan pizza. It tasted so good a couple of hours ago. If you're really honest with yourself, you're not that hungry. Actually, you're stuffed. But with all that tasty goodness waiting for you just a few feet away, it's easy to ignore the "No Vacancy" sign in your stomach. And if you allow yourself a rare moment of gut-level honesty, you realize that someone else in the house (roommate, spouse, kids, rodents of unusual size, whatever) will eat it later if you don't eat it now - and you won't get any. You'll be cheated of the greasy cheesy pepperoni-covered yumminess. So you make a decision to eat that ends up with your best friend being a couple of extra-strength Tums. We've all done it at one time or another - made a decision based solely on our emotions rather than any kind of rational thought. Whether it was a couple of slices or choosing the wrong girl to date or blowing off studying for a test, we all can look back at moments in our lives and acknowledge that IF we were thinking, we were simply thinking with our hearts. We live in a culture that enshrines our desires as the ultimate judge of morality & ethics - where our wants act as the rudder for our decisions. And it doesn't take much effort for us to fall in line, regardless of what we believe that the Bible teaches. Now, you're probably expecting me to make some kind of personal application about turning to Christ or using our God-given wisdom rather than allowing our feelings to drag us around by our hair. That would be a really great article, by the way - but it's not where I'm headed today. Yesterday morning, I taught about a biblical response to universalism - the belief that every person will be saved, regardless of their relationship to Jesus Christ here on this earth. I have to admit that universalism is an attractive idea - it feels right. While it's almost impossible to argue convincingly from Scripture, it's not difficult to build a case based on the nature of God. But those arguments break down in the light of the Bible & a full-bodied picture of Jesus - and yet it still feels like universalism is a good idea. I mean, who wants to see people separated from God? Who wants to try & talk about an eternity in hell? Yet if those two pieces of pizza (or the ex-girlfriend) has taught us anything, it's that just because something feels right doesn't make it good or true. The winsomeness of a belief system - in other words, how much I like the sound of it - has nothing to do with the objective truth of that system. So, as you think about & struggle with "Part Two" (what happens after we die), I'm asking you to prayerfully engage the Bible and these ideas based not on your feelings but on a deep desire to know truth... even if it makes you shudder & cringe.