My end of the year roundup of what games I played this year is still incoming. It's just going to be a bit longer than I was anticipating because I apparently have a bunch to say. 

But since I don't have anything ready yet, please enjoy this photo of me standing next to a sign. 

This was just a sign, but it was still pretty exciting.
Photo by Alison Burcham

The US Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

I was elated to get this shot.

Last weekend I travelled down to Nashville, TN with my wife and good friends to observe a total solar eclipse. Nashville was in the PATH OF TOTALITY1. The last solar eclipse I can recall was when I was in elementary school. I viewed it through my dad’s welding mask. It was neat.

Entering Nashville. They Warned Us.
Entering Nashville. They Warned Us.

We spent the weekend in Nashville with some eats and some sights. I got legitimate Nashville hot chicken2 3 4, and then proceeded to hang out in 95º F playing mini golf. Poor decision on my part. I digress…

Am I the total eclipse of Erica's heart?
Am I the total eclipse of Erica’s heart?

We headed to a park just outside of Nashville to avoid crowds. The park itself had a pretty large audience, but there was plenty of space and parking for all5. I didn’t really prepare to take decent photos of the eclipse. I attempted to take photos through my eclipse glasses6 and they didn’t really pan out. However with some cloud cover I was able to capture some slivers of sol. Totality hid behind some clouds until it revealed itself to the hoots and hollers of the observing crowd.

I was elated to get this shot.
I was elated to get this shot.

The eclipse was other worldly. Photos are neat, but do not capture the true experience. I know some in Ohio were mildly impressed by their partial eclipse, and even if they had 90% coverage or more… 1 to 10 percent of the sun, is still ALOT of sun. As totality neared, it was like someone throwing on the dimmer switch of the sky, but when totality hit, it was truly amazing. It was like dusk came out of nowhere.

Day to Dusk within minutes.
Day to Dusk within minutes.

And then, it was over. The partial eclipse waned out of existence, and we were poised to head home in the early afternoon. It was warned there would be significant traffic7, however we did not anticipate the true impact the eclipse had. It looks us nearly 14 hours to head home.

Gridlock into Elizabethtown, KY
Gridlock into Elizabethtown, KY

We tried to work around it, taking back roads, but it wasn’t enough. The eclipse audience was nothing short than a small migration8. During our stay and travels we met/saw people from Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. As we approached midnight, and weren’t in Ohio yet we were beat. Rest stops were packed, and it was stop and go. We arrived home near 6 AM on Tuesday completely exhausted.

Would I do it again? Yes. 9

Also this post is brought to you by McDonalds, the official restaurant of the 2017 solar eclipse. 10 11 12

McDonalds, the official restaurant of the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

  1. Seriously. if there isn’t a metal band named Path of Totality, someone needs to get on that. PATH OF TOTALITY 2017!!!! 
  2. XX-HOT, I got rep to maintain yo. 
  4. Legitichicken? 
  5. Kudos to the Goodlettsville parks department and police dept. for being so organized. 
  6. Purchase stock in eclipse glasses in early 2024. 
  7. See photo above. 
  8. Also, Elizabethtown, KY… get traffic situation figured out okay. We spent nearly 3-4 hours just trying to get through here. Probably more. 
  9. Good thing there’s another one coming in 2024. PATH OF TOTALITY is touring in OHIO! 
  10. How? How does this even happen? How is this a thing? Why is this a thing?! 
  11. Accept no substitutes. We only ate McDonalds our entire visit. 
  12. I wonder who they are going to get for the 2024 eclipse? 

Auditory Creative Endeavors

I dislike Winter very much. I never have inspiration to do anything creative even though I’m indoors for most of the season. Now cut to Spring, my favorite season, and the choice season for critics alike1. I’ve felt reinvigorated to start some new things and start creating. So I have.


Shawn and I have started a new podcast called Sines, Co-Sines, and Tangents.

Sines, Co-sines, & Tangents, our new podcast that's part of our Four Score & Seven Pongs Ago endeavor.
Sines, Co-sines, & Tangents, our new podcast that’s part of our Four Score & Seven Pongs Ago endeavor.

The joke is his name is Shawn Sines, and I’m his co-host, and we talk about all kinds of things that devolve into many tangents. Now that I’ve explained it, the title is now 300% more hilarious.2

Podcasting Setup (Photo by Shawn Sines)
Podcasting Setup (Photo by Shawn Sines)

It’s great to be back to podcasting, and to talk about video games with someone who appreciates them like I do yet has a completely different take. I love the democracy of podcasting much like the open web. We aren’t subject to YouTube ads , algorithms, proprietary formats or delivery. People can use whatever app they want and we own our content and deliver it directly. It may take longer for people to find it but it’s a principle I stand behind.3 4

I also love the technology behind our setup and making a good sounding podcast without a lot of post production. 5


I’ve been getting back to making music. It’s not something I’m terribly good at, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I got inspired last year near vacation time. I haven’t made anything I’m very happy with to publish on the internet yet. But it’s something I’m continuing to do to stay creative. I’ve made several musical equivalents of writing on the piece of paper and throwing it in the trash bin.

In the process I’ve learned more and more about synthesizers. If there’s an instrument I identify with, it’s the synth6. A mix of technology and music.

Making music has reminded me when I started with photography. I wasn’t amazing when I started taking photos, but with years of experience and understanding the tools I had, experimenting, I’ve reached a point where I’m happy with it. For music I have been using a MIDI keyboard and my iPad with several different synth apps, and sequencers. Some might dismiss this as not “real” music. That opinion disheartens me. I grew up with electronic music by way of video games. In many instances the creators of music in video games were simultaneously programmers and musicians, writing the music in code. I read an article on Bandcamp about all these amazing genres of obscure music and it was enlightening. There’s room for everyone and taste in music is subjective. I will continue to learn and experiment, and maybe I’ll have something to share with the world in the near future.

  1. “Mother Nature raves ‘this season has really started to grow on me. 5/5 it’s a mastapeece'” – The Columbus Gazette March 20th 2017 
  2. The next time a friend doesn’t understand a joke, make sure to explain to them why it’s funny in several different ways. They will appreciate it. 
  3. I intend on writing more about the Open Web and how it’s dying soon. 
  4. Look, I’ve gone off on a tangent. 
  5. There are still a few kinks to work out as I write this. 
  6. If you haven’t watched the Lords of Synth yet, you’re missing out. 

RIP NES Classic Edition

Nintendo has decided to discontinue the NES Classic Edition. Supply never met demand, often selling out on sites within 10-15 minutes. I really wanted to gift these out during Christmas. I thought it was a great toy, and a good trip down nostalgia lane for my gamer friends, and retired-gamer friends. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to nab one myself until February. It’s a solid little guy full of 30 great games. Nintendo surely will take note of this right?1 RIGHT?!

The sad part is Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch doesn’t even have a virtual console yet. Maybe Nintendo is working on a sequel? A newer version that has more games? One that can download additional games? A SNES Classic Edition? Probably not. The NES Classic Edition had a shorter shelf life than the Virtual Boy and that’s just sad.

  1. Nintendo listening to customers?! 


Flickr will always have a place in my heart. It represents one of the last true bastions of the open web. It was one of the first places where I saw a community of like minded individuals come together. And from 2004-2008 it was a special time of growth and possibility. It may not have caught up with Instagrams of the world, but it’s still a pretty nice place. Hopefully it will survive the new post-Yahoo world. Kottke summed it up best:

Flickr was extraordinarily vital, for years. It still has so much to offer. Sometimes there’s something reassuring about a tool that’s still much the same.

Source: In praise of Flickr

Hold Onto That Feeling Link

As I eagerly await the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I examined my hopes and tried to lower my expectations. It’s easy to get caught up on a hype train fueled by nostalgia.

Exhibit A: A common Nintendo Hype Train found before a launch title or system. Soon after the train is seen, it vanishes into the distance leaving behind nothing of note. Remember Star Fox Zero? Neither do we.
Exhibit A: A common Nintendo Hype Train found before a launch title or system. Soon after the train is seen, it vanishes into the distance leaving behind nothing of note. Remember Star Fox Zero? Neither do we.

Franchises have a burden in order to entice consumers. They must have something familiar to bring back people who remember earlier entries fondly, but they also must embrace something new to not be a retread or rehash. Nintendo understands this for the most part. Everyone knows what a Mario or a Zelda game comprises of but audiences want something new on top of that experience. Nintendo usually adds a new mechanic (or gimmick) and expands on the experience1.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a big game at the time, it expanded on the story of Zelda, and realized it in a 3D world. Due to limitations of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo needed to guide the experience in order to make the game seem bigger than it was though scripted events and linear story telling. The world of Hyrule was explorable, but only for when the story was ready to show you, and other 3D Zelda’s followed this strategy for every following entry2.

The (OG) Legend of Zelda was a very unscripted game. The limitations of the original NES required the player to fill in gaps using their imagination3. Then The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past expanded on that (as the Zelda formula hadn’t been finalized yet), and opened the world up and added details and more story. To me, the original feeling of playing that game, the world was huge and free and didn’t hold my hand. Part of the experience was trying to find every little secret in the world. Today, years after advances in video entertainment, that version of Hyrule doesn’t feel as big. It feels well crafted and will always have a place in my heart (thanks nostalgia), and I still feel it’s one of the best games of all time. I also feel that even with every iteration of Zelda, I haven’t had that original feeling since. That is, until The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was released. A Link Between Worlds did something that Zelda games hadn’t done in a while. It didn’t hold the players hands. It let the player figure things out without guidance4, which in 2013 was not typical of a Nintendo game. It didn’t completely recapture the feeling of A Link to the Past, but it got close5.

Like I said earlier, it’s hard to recapture that feeling. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted, the crowds for the most part loved it. I saw only a rehash of the original even though it held true to the formula. It didn’t capture me the way it did others. But now on the eve of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  I see the Zelda game I’ve been wanting since I played A Link to the Past: a vast world by today’s gaming standards and a return to exploration and finding out things on your own. I simply cannot wait for this game and hope to rediscover that balance of nostalgia and novelty.

  1. While some may not agree, it’s been pretty successful for Nintendo. 
  2. I’m looking at you Skyward Sword. At least Wind Waker made it feel bigger with an ocean. 
  3. It’s a like a TV show that plays in your brain. It’s something only old people have. 
  4. But it did have options for newcomers if they needed it. 
  5. It doesn’t hurt that it brought back that whole Light World / Dark World mechanic.