Everyone else is doing it, and so shall I. In no particular order.
I can’t recommend Children of Men highly enough. Even though it’s set some short time in the future, it’s torn straight from today – the kind of visuals we see piped into our homes and offices via Youtube or the nightly news, the same scenarios writ slightly larger. Slate says it best: Children of Men is a modern-day nativity story …. It’s also the herald of another blessed event: the arrival of a great director by the name of Alfonso Cuarón.
Company of Heroes is a World War 2 RTS (wait! come back!) that manages a neat psychological trick: forcing you to care for, or at least wince at, the fate of your troops. You can just sit back and watch men and tanks explode, or you can lean in and appreciate the tactical subtlety – the way fixed defences are so important in the early game, or the way indirect fire and scouts can decimate a superior force given twitchier reactions and forward planning. Just look at it!
Or, you could try Viva Pinata. This is the barest description: by beautifying a garden you attract, and encourage to breed real-virtual life pinatas. Underneath the cutest, most delicious sugar-coated presentation lurks nature, tooth and claw. It’s brutal. You find yourself breeding squirrels to feed to badgers to make them fuck, delighting when a pinata is broken open and the sweets scattered everywhere, its friends scampering over to eat the innards. Best of all though, it’s a game that rewards experimentation and sharing information – little is explicitly explained, and much is hidden. I knew I could change the colour of my Flutterscotch butterflys, but I had no idea how. Then I fed one a buttercup – and it turned yellow. I tried it with a tulip – it turned red. Suddenly I found myself feeding butterflys anything I could get my hands on, just to see the result. And I was rewarded – all the bright colours attracted a Jameleon. It’s also funny. The ridiculous earrings you can accessorise your pets with are called ‘Butchas’ (think about it), when foxes mate they do the Foxtrot, and to make monkey’s mate, you have to make them wear a fez.
And the Boards of Canada album the Campfire Headphase which Jim bought for me. Beautiful sounds.
Blindness, by Jose Saramago.
The March by E.L. Doctorow.
Everytime we eat at the Walrus and Carpenter, I have an absolutely superb time. Maybe it’s the cocktails. Or the magnficent burgers. Or their absurdly complicated ordering system. I don’t really care – it’s my fave.
Also, Annie’s Christmas cake. Yum.
What are yours?