Taking a leaf out of Kat’s book over at World Hopping, I’m going to have a go at an A to Z list. Rather than books, I am going to focus on one letter at a time and bring in entries from different mediums. Today, I begin predictably with the letter A.
I was a late convert to Archer and, like many such converts, am all the more active in my evangelism as a result. I think it was the fact that, the first time I saw the art style and read the premise, I thought it was going to be a grown up Johnny Quest. Thankfully I was very wrong. The show is best described as a cross between James Bond and Arrested Development, and although it features a lot of action, it is a relationship focused office-based sitcom at heart and the real strength of the show is the writing of and interactions between the central cast of character. it relies heavily on running jokes and, as such, rewards longtime viewers through this sense of continuity and being ‘in on the joke’. This is also a show that I find myself able to rewatch over and over, much like Arrested Development.
Honourable Mention: Arretested Development, for many of the same reasons listed above.
Videogames: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Although I played and enjoyed the first game in the series, I was never really a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, so it comes as little surprise that I find myself most drawn to the game that contains no actual assassins. In Black Flag, you play as a pirate, which is pretty awesome. You have that cool, freerunning gameplay and understated violence whilst also getting to sail around on pirate ships and sing sea shanties. What is not to love? The gameplay is good, the feel is amazing.
Honourable Mention: Age of Empire 2 HD Edition, which lets me replay a game that I loved when I was younger.
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
American Gods is a modern classic. It takes a modern setting and mixes in folklore and religion from across the world in a divine interpretation of the American melting pot. The book features so many interesting and memorable character, such as Mr. Nancy (representing the African trickster spider, Anansi), Mr. Wednesday (Odin) and Mad Sweeney (a leprechaun). Gaiman manages to mesh the fantastical with the mundane in such a beautiful way and I find myself re-reading this book every couple of years.
Board Games: Android: Netrunner
Android: Netrunner is one of Fantasy Flight’s Living Card Games. This basically means that it is a card game that is sold in clearly structured packs rather than the randomised boosters that you get with collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering. That is an immediate positive for me, as I really don’t like the randomness of collecting games like Magic. Netrunner is also asymmetrical, which is also a big plus, as I like it when players are working from different armies, decks or information. One player take on the role of a hacker whilst the other plays as a huge and corrupt corporation. The hacker must try to thwart the corp’s agendas whilst the corporation pushes these agendas to fruition or, depending on which corporation and your own style of play, kill the hacker. The game is deep and competitive, allowing for a lot of strategy both in play and, crucially, in deckbuilding.
Podcasts: Answer Me This
Hosted by Olly Mann and Helen Zaltzman (with input from Martin the sound man), this show consists of the hosts answering a series of questions from the listening audience. The setup is pretty standard, as this sort of podcast goes, but there is a real charm to this particular show which is probably down to the hosts. They very much wear their hearts on their sleeves, have very good chemistry, and are damn funny. It’s no real surprise that with her unusual surname, Helen is the sister of comedian, Andy Zaltzman. Humour is in the bones! If you do give these guys a listen, their older episodes and a few special recordings are available for a small charge from their website and are well worth the price of admission.
Music: Avenue Q
It’s like the Muppets, but with cursewords and a man pretending to be Gary Coleman. Avenue Q is a hilarious Broadway musical and i loved the soundtrack for a long before I actually managed to see it in Glasgow a couple of years back. The songs seem quite cutesy, but deal with mature themes in very funny ways. Here is the sampling they put on for the Royal Variety Performance back in 2006:
Highlights for me include ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, Purpose and the wonderful Schadenfreude.