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Friday, Dec 19, 2014
They say the 235th most acclaimed album of all time gets off on frustration, but I know you've got an explanation. The 1981 debut from a power-pop legend is this week's Counterbalance. Bad reputation? Not hardly.

Klinger: A few weeks ago, when we were talking about the Violent Femmes, I mentioned my admiration for the dB’s, a group that is, both figuratively and literally, the missing link between the proto-power pop of Big Star and the college rock of R.E.M. I did a little checking over at the Acclaimed Music site, the wellspring of the Great List and our statistical overlord these past four years, and lo and behold their first album, 1981’s Stands for Decibels, is still hanging in there at No. 2355. In the next few years, I suspect it will drop off, as newer, shinier objects capture the critical imagination and these relatively obscure pioneers drop even further off the cultural radar, so I’d like to take a moment to sing the praises of an eminently worthy album (and band) while I have the chance.


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Friday, Dec 19, 2014
The Masterplan is about a heist gone right.

There have been a fair number of heist games released in the past year or so—from the neon-noir chaos of Monaco to the war-in-the-streets battlegrounds of Payday 2 to the grand spectacle of GTA V‘s bank jobs. Then there’s The Masterplan, an Early Access Game currently on Steam. Normally I’d say that it has a lot of competition, but it stands apart by offering a kind of heist those other games purposefully avoid. While all those other games revolve around the moment when a heist goes wrong, The Masterplan is all about a heist gone right.


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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Following massive hacking and numerous attack threats, Sony has decided not the release the political comedy The Interview. Here's why that is a bad idea.

It’s the hack still being heard around the world, a surreal situation made even more bizarre by the reaction of the target and the accompanying response from the community. Before Sony succumbed to the pressure put on it by a shadowy group known only as the “Guardians of Peace”, which led to the studio pulling the proposed Seth Rogen/James Franco political comedy The Interview from distribution, it was simply dealing with the collective face egg that comes from your private corporate business becoming Reddit fodder.


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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.

Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition.


My Inquisitor is a Dalish female with white hair. See, I try, whenever possible, to make game characters unlike myself. I want to roleplay in worlds with a different perspective than my own, and what better opportunity than in the blight-infected lands of Dragon Age: Inquisition? But even amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.


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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
Grab a scotch, light up a cigar, and cozy yourself in the corner booth: James Apollo's "Ho Ho, Ho Hum" is the kind of holiday tune best suited for a '50s noir bar.

There’s a certain artificiality that comes with much Christmas music, due in large part to the over-commercialization of the holiday. After hearing the umpteenth muzak rendition of “Jingle Bells” while shopping for rum to spike your eggnog with, the supposed joviality of the holiday is bound to fade into background noise. For that reason, songs like “Ho Ho, Ho Hum” by the Seattle-based singer/songwriter James Apollo are all the more refreshing. The song’s lounge mood and barroom piano evoke the cigarette smoke and loneliness of a film noir, a feeling that Apollo no doubt intended, given the song’s music video is shot in a melancholy black and white. “Ho Ho, Ho Hum” isn’t the song to play when trying to liven up a holiday party, but it does genuinely capture a feeling that many people experience during the holiday season.


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