Favorite Discoveries of 2014

  • Threes!, Hoplite, and Monument Valley for iOS. These games especially were the iPhone games I’ve fallen in love with and will probably keep replaying for another year or more. Threes! probably has the most play hours of any game this year, most of them from 9pm – 11pm. Hoplite is a turn based movement game with a neat mechanic for combat and leveling up. Nearly any 8-bit dungeon game is something worth your time. And I cherish every level of Monument Valley and I’m saving a few of the bonus levels for a future treat. Both are worth every penny.
  • Advocare.  Depending on what you take as my starting weight, since my weight on Day 1 of my 24 Day Challenge (263.9) isn’t my heaviest for the year (269.0), but I’m down 30 pounds. I’m eating differently, I’m cooking differently, and I feel so much better. Spark has replaced my morning coffee. Meal Replacement Shakes have become my everyday breakfast. I couldn’t be happier with the products and the results.
  • Lunarbaboon. It’s a web comic about a family. The comic is honest, imaginative, and subversive about parenting, relationships, time management, and what it means to growing up. Some days it makes me giggle, some times I laugh out loud, and some days it breaks my heart a little. Here’s a taste of it with some of my favorites: Winter, Travel, Puppies, Timer, Rescue, Deflect.
  • Arrow, The Mind of a Chef, and Black Mirror. Of the shows that are new-to-me that I started watching in 2014, there are three standouts. If you think Arrow might be your kind of fun, it probably is. Season 2 spent a lot of time doing flashbacks to Oliver’s time on that island and it’s one of my favorite parts of the show. In season 1 episode 15 of The Mind of a Chef, David Chang discusses the appropriate ways to smoke a whole hog. Also, Chang sits down with Allen Benton and Benton makes red eye gravy. If you know who Allen Benton is, then you know I was totally into this. Black Mirror isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly not for kids, but if well conceived science fiction of how humans are affected by technology is your idea of a good time, Black Mirror will impress.
  • Allie Moss. She’s been on stage with Ingrid Michaelson, playing guitar and singing harmony, each of the three times I’ve seen Ingrid in concert. On the song Maybe, her harmony part is always a little louder than the lead vocal (it’s happened every time) and it makes me smile to think about. a couple weeks ago she promoted her EP of Christmas music on Twitter and I bought it on a whim, it’s only 3 songs, and it’s kind of wonderful. She’s released a couple more things on iTunes and I recommend getting into them. She’s just wonderful and I wish her nothing but success should she strike out on her own, but I’m also looking forward to seeing her on stage with Ingrid again soon.
  • Off Camera. An interview podcast with Sam Jones, photographer and director of the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, where he talks with his friends about their art. His friends just happen to be movie stars and rock gods. My favorite episodes are Dave Grohl, Matt Damon, and with skateboard legend and documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta.
  • The Bellagio. In April of 2014, the family went to Las Vegas for a long weekend. We spent the most time at The Bellagio, which despite having been a Vegas a couple times already I hadn’t been to yet. We saw the Cirque du Soleil show “O”also at The Bellagioand it’s a heckuva thing. The casino floor is classy and comfortable and it’s just my favorite place to be when in Vegas. On a side note, I enjoyed New York New York’s gaming floor a lot too and the buffet at The Wynn was the best meal we ate that weekend.
  • Holiday Park Events at Walt Disney World. We went to WDW twice in 2014 and were able to attend both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These are special events at Magic Kingdom, which closes early to regular park guests and stays open late for attendees of the separately ticketed party. The lines are shorter, the fireworks and parades are bigger and better, and the park is filled with rare characters. At the Christmas Party, all seven dwarfs were lined up for group photos. I would love to attend these parties again.