Out Of The Park, Again

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If it’s the baseball season, I can probably be found at night immersed in a little computer program called Out Of The Park Baseball. It is a baseball simulation of enormous depth created by German developer Markus Heinsohn, with the 18th version (known amongst fans as OOTP 18) just having been released a few weeks ago. The game is so popular, owners and players have been known to play it, and it’s even been used in schools to teach business economics.

With each new version comes new bells and whistles. When version 17 came out last year, it added a minor league historical database along with the major leaguers so you could get a more accurate account of what the baseball world looked like in a given year. This year’s improvement added the Negro Leagues, setting up what-if scenarios that now included baseball not having a color barrier prior to 1947. But that’s just ONE thing you can do. You can even play the standard game and manage or be a general manager of teams in the modern MLB, the minors, Cuba, Japan, Mexico, or beyond. Wherever you want to go, OOTP can likely take you there.

My personal favorite enterprise the last few seasons have been the ability to have players debut randomly. For instance, what if Evan Longoria played in the first decade of the 20th century as opposed to the 21st, or if Clayton Kershaw pitched back then, when starting pitchers usually went the full nine innings?

There’s a lot less you can do as oppose to what you can do, including the ability to create fictional leagues and structures within and play commissioner, proprietor, and God. It’s not just a sim but a baseball laboratory any fan would enjoy.

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The Man In The High Castle

Kindle Unlimited was offering a free 30-day trial, so I thought I’d take advantage and read a couple of books. Right now, it’s The Man In The High Castle by Phillip K. Dick. The book’s been put into televised form, available on Amazon

Not only is this an alternate reality/universe book, depicting what would happen in the United States had the Germans and Japanese won World War II, assuming FDR was assassinated long before he could serve three terms as President (and the beginning of a fourth term), the characters are reading their own alternate history in the form of a banned book: what if the Americans had won the same war?

I’m a little past the midway point in the book, and so far it’s been very good. I totally recommend it to all you book worms out there.

The Podcast Rules

Back before Thanksgiving, I had mentioned the podcasts I was listening to at that given time. Since then, I’ve developed a few rules about the podcasts I listen to in order to make sure I’m getting a wider field of knowledge, and thus making sure I’m not listening to the same topics or bands.

My rules are:

  • Only one podcast to a topic.
  • Only one podcast from any one company. (For example, only one podcast from NPR.)
  • I try to listen to at one show with a topic or host I disagree with.
  • I don’t try to listen to podcasts with a very open political bias that’s a strong point of the show.
  • If I have no podcasts with current episodes to listen to, I allow myself to add a new one.
  • But, I’m also allowed to waive any of those rules…you guessed it…one time.

Notice how the number “one” keeps coming up? Hmmm.

And so, my current list looks like this:

  • 6:05 Superpodcast (comes out every 10 days or so, but the host, Brian Last, puts out exceptional work, so worth the added wait)
  • The Jim Cornette Experience (yep, used my “waiver” on classic wrestling, a lot more fun then than it is now…)
  • The Big Listen (NPR’s podcast about other podcasts with the fun and snarky Lauren Ober)
  • Lionel Nation
  • Dead Fantasy (The Johnny Cash podcast stopped putting out new episodes sometime in July)
  • Five Hundy By Midnight
  • Three Moves Ahead
  • Common Sense With Dan Carlin
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Gambler’s Book Club (sporadically does podcasts, but puts out good stuff when they’re on)
  • Penn’s Sunday School
  • Brain Samich
  • Flash Forward
  • This Week In Tech (I still think Leo Laporte is an ass, but you gotta keep up with current technology somehow)
  • The Minimalist

This list will get refined over time with my tastes, but it’s a good starting point as 2017 dawns.

Solitary Sage

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing Sage Solitaire lately.

The game combines elements of both solitaire and poker. You remove cards from this three by three board by making either two, three, four, or five card hands. Straights can be made with three cards (like an 8-9-10) but straight flushes require five cards.

The goal of the game is to clear the board with made hands using one card from at least two columns. You’re allowed to trash cards along the way if hands can’t be made, but if there are no hands on the board after two straight trashes, the game ends

Pretty addicting, really. Free to try on your smartphone of choice.

Diary Of A Chambermaid

You mean to tell me that Netflix had a French movie without nudity in it? Why yes, yes they did. It did have a couple of sex scenes in it, but nope, no body parts went flopping around.

I’ve only seen Lea Seydoux in three movies, but it is starting to dawn on me that she’s a pretty decent actress. In this movie, she plays the role of Celestine, a maid who works in a few houses in Victorian-era France. Times are tough, but her colleagues are even tougher and rougher, including an anti-Semetic caretaker who falls in love with Seydoux’s character.

Don’t want to mention too much more, as it would give the story away. Not a bad flick, if you don’t mind reading subtitles for roughly an hour and a half.

For The Love Of Spock

I’ve been waiting to see For The Love Of Spock get to Netflix for a while now. Glad to see the documentary there at last.

As soon as I saw it on the system, I grabbed it and watched it right away. Have you ever seen anything hyped online (or, in the old days, on TV and radio), and was happy that you invested your time in such an effort? I got that feeling watching this documentary.

I grew up Star Trek (the original series from the 1960’s that is, not to be confused with its many off-shoots) watching it on our local independent station, Channel 44, WTOG. William Shatner was the star, but Leonard Nimoy, I always thought, was the heart and soul of that package, playing the alien Spock from the planet Vulcan.

The one scene that stood out for me was the shrine set up at the 2015 Burning Man festivities in northwest Nevada held around every Labor Day. The enormity of the display choked me up watching it. With movies, you get the reminder that what you’re watching is a story, not real. With documentaries, you get the reality, which is why it’s my favorite genre to watch on Netflix. I get more enjoyment learning things I don’t know as opposed to subject matter that I do now.

Totally recommend For The Love Of Spock to you. Leonard’s son Adam did an excellent job on it, doing his father proud.

Summertime

I watched Summertime, better known as La Belle Saison in Europe, on Netflix last week. Was expecting a girlie buddy movie, and…well, the buddies were a bit more than buddies.

The two leading women were each pretty good looking, though I thought Izïa Higelin stole the show as Delphine, the farmer’s daughter who goes to Paris at the height of the French feminist movement in 1971. There are some girl-girl love scenes in the flick, but they are not over the top or as overtly explicit as the longer sex scene in Blue Is The Warmest Color, and the women are historically accurate in their…um…form. (In other words, no breast augmentation, or lack of hair not on their heads.)

The use of music in the movie was also interesting to me, shifting from the 70’s to the present day. Janis Joplin tunes like “Move Over” and “Me And Bobby McGee” blared in spots, with 2011’s “In The Grace Of Your Love” by The Rapture playing in the big outdoor scene between Higelin and Cecile de France.

An interesting story to me, considering I didn’t know a lot about modern French history. Worth a look, if you’re an adult.