In case you missed the news, the Writers Guild of America is on strike. They're the ones in charge of writing scripts for the mediocrity that passed for this year's fall TV lineup among other things. As a "show of solidarity" for the WGA, many entertainment blogs have decided to stop writing new blog content. Yeah, no kidding. With the strike and the whole lack of new shows to write about, it's pretty easy to go dark now. What else were you going to do?
As a "show of solidarity" with the TV executives, I pledge to bring you at least 3 new posts each week. When your contract year sucks, it's not a good idea to rock the boat. The writers should take what they can get and get back to work. If anything, they should negotiate a short term contract and work their hardest to pick things up until that expires. And for the record, I really don't care if this strike ends or not. I don't watch too much TV anyways. I can find other thing to do. There's no novelist strike I'm aware of and if there is, there's still plenty of material I haven't read yet.
Here's a list recommended activities if you're looking for something to do besides watch TV:
1. Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut) - It's pretty formulaic Vonnegut but it's still enjoyable.
2. Beginnings in the Enderverse (Orson Scott Card) - This is a collection of novellas related to the Ender's Game series. Ender's Game was a fantastic novel but I really didn't enjoy the followups novels I've read. The biggest problem with Ender's Game is that the novel really leaves you with nowhere else to go. These novellas are mostly prequels and manage to be interesting yet remain relevant to the original novel. If you haven't read the novel, I'd advise skipping the novella the novel is based on (which is included in this set).
3. Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Shirer) - Yes, I'm still reading it. Still a good book though.
4. Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Victor Davis Hanson) - There are two versions of this book: an oversized hardback with tons of illustrations and a nicely sized trade paper back. The paper back still has a few illustrations but doesn't seem the worse for missing many of the pictures. Unfortunately, that's not the one that was on sale for $5 so it's not the one I have. I have the giant coffee table book. It's a good read either way on Greek warfare and how it evolved.
Games (Video and Other):
1. Paper Mario and the 1,000 Year Door - A Gamecube is CHEAP these days and the games are cheaper. You could probably get set up with the game and system for about $50-$60. I bought this game because I was going to be home alone for a few days and wanted something to do. I don't really play video games much anymore. After about 10 minutes of playing I thought this was one of the stupidest games I've ever played but when I realized I was still playing it 5 hours later, I reversed my decision. It's enjoyable and it's long. It's sort of like an RPG but I never felt like I was having to grind (walk around and kill enemies just to level up and get more powerful) and the fight scenes are more button mashing than menu selection which is nice.
2. Red Alert 2 - This fourth Command and Conquer game is the pinnacle of real time strategy gaming. The Yuri's Revenge add-on is also pretty nice but diminishes the Russians somewhat. Always remember that Prism Tanks have a slightly longer range than Prism Towers and you're set.
3. Settlers of Catan - This is the end-all, be-all of boardgames. It's insanely competitive but you're competing by building you own team up instead of tearing down the other team. The basic idea is to build roads and settlements based on the resources available. It's incredibly simple and addictive in a fun sort of way. MSN online has a download version for the PC. This version has AI designed by the creators of the game and it's just awesome. They also have online play available but I don't do that much. There's also the actual board game if you have multiple people at one spot wanting to play.
4. Stratego - I love incomplete information games. They're just fun in a way complete information games like checkers and chess can't be. Unfortunately, I've never found a video game version of Stratego with a decent AI. It's too easy to lure the Marshall, find their flag, etc. But if you can find a second player, this game is one of the best.
5. Poker - The poker fad is dying. Now is a great time to score some poker chips cheap, get a decent sized table, and get a game together.
If you have any other suggestions, post them here.