Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

28 Dec 2008, 11:09 a.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

It turns out that the big splurgy Christmas gift Leonard and I are giving each other is a dinner tonight at Per Se, a fancy-dancy restaurant here in New York City. It's run by the same folks who run the French Laundry in Yountville, California. I share his hopes:

Given what happened to Ed Levine when he ate at Per Se after comparing its cost on his weblog to Grey's Papaya (follow-up), I can only hope that I'll be presented with a genius dish based on Pac-Man, or a Beautiful Soup-themed soup. I'll take pictures.

My bit of wisdom: it pays to systematically check OpenTable the week between Christmas & New Year's, especially if there's been a huge economic meltdown causing formerly rich people to cancel their reservations.

In the interim, I've been trying Nintendo Wii games that Leonard got us: World of Goo and Wii Music. No Now You Don't (Player Two), but fun.

Wii Music is like Dance Dance Revolution with virtual instruments and some freeform improvisation. We can accompany "Do Re Mi" with vibraphone, trumpet, jazz drums, and a barking dog suit and somehow the game makes it sound nice; the player just controls when an instrument plays a note, not what note it plays. And we can save a video and watch our Miis nod sagely at each other during their jams. If you think Rock Band is too game-y and doesn't provide enough instruments, try Wii Music.

I enjoy the games and lessons but find them a little frustrating. In the "Pitch Perfect" game, for example, distracting background music makes it a little harder to discern which Mii is playing a wrong note, or which three notes would combine into a certain chord. The last task of each level involves moving players around on a sort of drum machine-style timeline to make them match a certain melody and rhythm, but you don't get any instructions on manipulating the Miis. The handbells game doesn't come with instructions, either. Leonard and I have come to use the word "ludic" as a derogatory epithet for these sorts of frustrations. No instructions? Ten songs are locked until you complete a lesson? It's ludic!

World of Goo is hella ludic. I've now stopped playing twice in frustration, and will probably do so once per island till I finish. You move little balls around to form structures -- bridges, towers, ropes, etc. Was Lemmings like this? Like Tetris or DDR, it gets into your daydreams. I think I woke up this morning thinking about how to shore up a wobbly bridge. Or about my dream that Salon laid me off.

World of Goo is only ten bucks and basically two guys made it. Amazing! Game experts: this is this year's Portal, right?


31 Dec 2008, 22:28 p.m.

The Professor in Wii Music talks like Zoidberg.

The game populates the audience for our jams with our other Miis, including Frances and Roy. I intensely enjoy it when they get to witness something beautiful.