Peter's Picks

June 2010

Books: BOY'S LIFE, by Robert McCammon. Some books should be re-read and re-read. This is one of them. Absolutely love this book!

Music: Fresh Aire V, by Mannheim Steamroller. No particular reason why, but this one crept up on me, asking to be listened to again. Chip Davis, you beguile me.

Film: Date Night. There are laugh out loud funny parts in this film. The scene where he does the robot, pretending to spank his wife ... priceless.

TV: NBA finals. I wasn't partifularly sad to see the king go home early. And the Magic's coach was another I was glad to see hit the showers. Now ... anybody by Kobe.

Games: Chess. Yeah, goin' old school. Playing some AI, and mostly losing. But, with this game, I DO feel good about HOW I play, regardless the outcome.

Theater: My company division announced a collaboration with Cirque with respect to project natal. Working with a few of the Cirque folks on some concepts for that event ... very cool!

May 2010

I’m new to K. J. Parker’s work, but I’m loving it.

Music: John Coltrane, Giant Steps. There are just times when you have to listen to Coltrane, like several times a week, really. Try it, you’ll see.

Film: Iron Man 2. Sorry, gang, while there’s eye candy here, it fails for me because the film inverts my sympathies—I wound up rooting for the villain. Downey Jr. is funny, but extremely unlikeable. I couldn’t wait for him to fail or die. On the other hand, Rourke’s character gave me a reason to see his revenge actualized. I’d have been okay with a bragadocious Downey Jr., if I’d believed there was something beneath it. Sorry, not this time.

TV: Lost. Coming to an end, but better that than shark jumping. I’ve been impressed with the levels of intricacy all along the way. Sometimes a big uneven, but mostly real good stuff.

Games: Bubble Pop, when I’m extremely bored. I don’t really like the game, but my cell phone is antiquated.

Theater: The Taming of the Shrew with Marc Singer. You know him as the Beast Master—which I loved, by the way. But before that he played Petruchio, and knocked it out of the park. I went back and watched this again, and loved it better than the first time!

April 2010

Books: CONVERGENCE CULTURE. I’m working a bit in this area at Microsoft right now: transmedia. Fascinating stuff, especially for a storyteller.

Music: Animosity by Sevendust. Not a new album, but one I go back to a lot. These guys rock, and the singer has soul and grit.

Film: Sherlock Holmes. Okay, so there’s a trend to re-imagine characters and worlds, e.g. Star Trek. It’s kind of like giving an old IP a reboot. And with Sherlock Holmes, they’ve kind of made him an action hero. There are some fine moments, but give me Basil Rathbone instead.

TV: Watching lots of UFC these days. I’d have been tempted to do this as a younger man.

Games: Taking some liberty on this one this month, and gonna say … mind games. Meaning, I’ve got a book deadline looming, E3 coming, and the weather is going to start getting nice …

Theater: I’m nominating my own theater (of a sort), which was my trip to Germany to sing for the rock festival, Keep It True. I had a blast. Singing for thousands of fans who knew every word I was going to sing … doesn’t get much better than that.

March 2010

Books: HEART SHAPED BOX by Joe Hill. A friend recommended this to me. I somehow forgot the writer’s lineage until I’d finished reading. Uh … it’s awesome. Thumb pointed up on this one.
Music: Chiaroscuro’s Brilliant Pools of Darkness.
Okay, you’ve likely not heard of this band. And they’re now defunct. But if you can find their CD online, get it. Amazing vocalist! But it’s not for the faint of heart.
Film: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Well, I slept through significant portions of this. My friends applauded it for daring to be different, which is mostly short hand for: Dare to say it ain’t great if you want to be labeled one of the unenlightened. Actually, just pass on this film.
TV: Sports Center. I know this seems like a cop out. But my time lately has been going into the writing, so I like to get caught up on the world of sports. Yeah, sorry gang, I am, indeed, a writer who digs sports—there are a few of us.
Games: Mass Effect 2. Ah, Bioware, how I love thee.
Theater: Bon Jovi. Okay, so while not “legitimate” theater, it was quite the event (technically in February) and very “theatrical”—that’s a lot of quotes, sheesh! But really, I had to mention it. Jovi was one of those that, back in the day, got me interested in any music other than New Wave. I have to say that I wasn’t as star struck as I thought I’d be, but it was still a good time.  

February 2010

Books: A GAME OF THRONES. I’m going back to reread this brilliant series—A Song of Fire and Ice—by George R.R. Martin. It’s that good. If you haven’t yet been introduced to it … now you have. Buy it post haste!
Music: Relapse by Eminem. I love that Eminem has a sense of humor. I love even more his ability with rhyme and rhythm. Some folks get offended. Me, not so much.
Film: Sutter Island. Okay, I will say it: This was a disappointment. Not only because it’s a bit predictable—we all know who patient 67 is going to turn out to be—but because I think it does the unreliable narrator thing badly. It’s not a waste of time, but go in with low expectations.
TV: Winter Olympics. I love the Olympics. I didn’t see as much of them as would have liked, but I love to cheer for good ole USA!
Games: Charlie Brown Christmas Dominoes. You know, dominoes is still fun; and made more fun by the Peanuts Gang.
Theater: Theater Sports (Valentines Edition). So, near Pike Place Market lives Unexpected Productions. They do something akin to Drew Carey’s show, “Whose Live Is it Anyway.” And they did a Valentines version that was hysterical!

January 2010

Books: UNDER THE DOME, Stephen King. The first King book I read was Night Shift. Picked it up in the airport bookshop on my way home from my Senior Trip to Hawaii. It was a revelation. I’ve read King ever since, and this one, while long, is something of a return to early King, who is a far better writer than most folks realize. Thumbs up on this one!

Music: Disturbed—the entire catalog. Sometimes you just need to listen to something with an edge. The very cool thing with this band is that they’re able to blend crushing rhythms with melody. Not for the weak of heart.  

Film: Princess and the Frog. You expected me to say, Avatar, right? Maybe next month. No, I had special plans with my daughter for this one. I would have enjoyed just about anything, just spending time with her. But this film had some fun stuff—a Cajun witch woman and Dr. Facilier, with more voodoo magic!  

TV: NFL Playoffs. I’m a Colts fan. Have been since 1987, when Eric Dickerson moved over to them from the Rams. So, I’ve suffered some bad seasons before the Peyton Manning era. But, as of this writing, they’re still in the hunt. Can’t wait for Sunday.  

Games: Cadoo. A fun little game from Cranium. I especially like the clues you have to act out. It’s liberating to look foolish.

Theater: Jekyll & Hyde. The truth is, I didn’t actually see this performed live. Never have. But I love the music, which was composed by Frank Wildhorn, and the lyrics were written by Leslie Bricusse (she also wrote for Scrooge, with Albert Finney, which is an all time fav). There’s a DVD of this, but it features David Hasselhoff, so I just can’t bring myself to buy it. Notably, Sebastian Bach played the part for a while on Broadway. I don’t know if that worked well, but Bach has one of the best rock voices ever.

December 2009

Books: THE LOVELY BONES. Here's another one that had been in my stack for a while. The immanent film was the forcing function to bump it up in the queue. Glad I did. We'll see if Peter Jackson can pull it off. And, anything “I Spy” for kids. If you spend the time—beyond just finding the stuff in the picture—there are some funny things in these.  

Music: Bing Crosby's White Christmas. It sounds cliché, but there just aren't guys like Bing anymore. That generation of cool doesn't exist now. There are a few guys trying—and I'm glad they're trying—but Bing had an easy manner I just don't find in current cool cats. Love his voice.  

Film: The Road. Read this book last month, saw Viggo play it this month. There are a few issues with the film, but I was willing to forgive them. As a metaphor for life—and McCarthy's own comment/concern over his relationship with his son—this is powerful. ALSO … Scrooge! The Albert Finney version—best Christmas Carol version ever! Finney is brilliant!  

TV: Okay, my main joy right now is Sunday football watching the Colts. I became a Colts fan when Eric Dickerson began to run from them, coming over from the Rams. I suffered some abysmal seasons, but the Colts have been awesome the last several years, and they're putting together a fantastic year.  

Games: Poo and Ergo. A couple of games from Catalyst game labs. On both ends of the spectrum—base to heady—these are flat fun. Get ‘em.  

Theater: (New category) Saw a local production of a show called Citizen Scrooge. It's a mash up of Citizen Kane, A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and so many other pop culture Christmas references that your head will swim. And it's hilarious! Check your local playhouses to see if they've picked this up. You won't be sorry.  

November 2009

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. I'd had this book recommended to me several times, but never got around to reading it until the movie trailer hit—I love Viggo Mortenson. So, let me just say: Read this book. Well worth your time.

Music: Mannheim Steamroller 25th Anniversary. I've loved Chip Davis and crew since Fresh Aire One. Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Box Set): another Christmas favorite.

Film: Paranormal Activity. Oh my lord is this a dumb film. Some friends and I concluded that maybe a generation of kids who grew up publishing and watching Youtube videos about themselves and others doing pretty much nothing has created an audience for vapid stories.
TV: Scrubs. I came to this series very late, obviously. But it's fast become a huge favorite. I laugh right out loud. “The Todd” gets me every time!

Games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Halo has a rival in the FPS genre. Its name is CoD.

October 2009

Books: TOOTH FAIRY. Graham Joyce is a friend of mine. I like his books anyway. J I’m dreadfully behind in reading his work, but this one comes with an unqualified recommendation.

Music: American Solider by Queensryche. There are maybe a handful of vocalists on the planet as good as Geoff Tate. And this thoughtful concept album actually made me wince, think, cry, and proud by turns. Get this one!

Film: The Invention of Lying. I love Ricky Gervais. And this one’s mostly fun. But it's a bit uneven particularly later on, and it waxes a bit maudlin at times. But there are some great laughs here.

TV: World Series. My favorite sport is baseball. And the Fall Classic is well … classic. The only thing missing is those dime pots we had as kids, betting the outcome of the game. You could win a whole dollar, man!

Games: Brutal Legend! Jack Black as the voice! And you can plan your guitar and rain down lightning on the undead … I mean, c'mon! It doesnét get much better than that!

September 2009

Books: THE NAME OF THE WIND, by Patrick Rothfuss. I picked this up at Escape Fiction—an independent bookstore in Salem, OR—on the recommendation of the owner. I didn't regret it!

Music: Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Can't help it. When the mood strikes ...

Film: District 9. I enjoyed the film despite a number of holes in plot and logic. Amazing effort on 30 million.

TV: Phineas & Ferb. One of the funniest animated kids shows I’ve seen in a long time. Love the evil Dr. Doofenshmritz!

Games: Lately, the game around the house (and in the yard) has been making our own traps out of anything we can find. This is more fun than you can imagine.

August 2009

Books: Empire Falls. Richard Russo is a master. He does small towns and complex human relationships better than almost anyone.

Music: Frank Sinatra. Warner Box Set. I’ve yet to find a singer who can phrase as well as Sinatra. All time fav.

Film: Star Trek. Abrahms can make a film. Quite the lengths to establish Kirk bravado, but hey, that's Kirk.

TV: About to dig into the next season of 24. I love this series!

Games: Call of Duty! All of them! Can’t wait for the next one! This and Old Maid, the card game. I'm eclectic.

June 2009

Books: DROOD. I've read Simmons religiously since SUMMER OF NIGHT. He's brilliant.

Music: Black Clouds and Silver Linings by Dream Theater. I got an advance watermark copy. DT is an all-time favorite

Film: Just saw Drag Me To Hell last night. If you lay your head back and go, it's fun time.

TV: Dick Van Dyke Show. There's not a better sitcom. Period.

Games: When I'm not dreaming about Diablo III, I'm playing either Halo (I, II, III) or Rockband. I can sing pretty much anything for real, but I can't play the guitar; and c'mon, everyone wants to be the guitar player.