Michael McMillan

La historia se escribe latido a latido.

Wordle 201 6/6*

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I am a bit late to the party here (some 199 days late, it would seem!) but I finally got round to trying game 200 of the oh-so-fashionable Wordle online game. It has a neat little mechanic which mixes word games and the old Mastermind peg game and is surprisingly fun. Here’s how I did:

Wordle 200 4/6*

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The holidays have had a real word game theme running through them this year!

The coffee-bean-themed Jabuka word game arrived as a surprise gift from overseas this year and quickly caught the family's attention with its intriguing “twistable alphabet” and natural recycled materials. Set up is instant but not in a bad instant coffee way. You just tip the beans out the bag onto the table and off you go.

As with other tile-based word games, Jabuka is all about forming words from the letters and pairs of letters on each bean. Players compete in real time to “brew” their own words and “grind” other players' words, aiming to finish the game with more beans than anyone else. The clever twist is that letters can literally be twisted since many of the beans can be read in different ways depending on how they are rotated. This adds a pleasing dimension to the game and rewards players who are open to seeing things differently.

It is worth pointing out that Jabuka is an English language game as its “twistable alphabet” is based on the 26 letter Latin alphabet with no diacritics. That said, having played together with speakers of other languages we found that games were always enjoyable and lived up to the publisher's claim that in a world of electronic isolation, Jabuka is live, spontaneous interaction that puts players in the natural, healthy human state of joyful flow. Together.

I'd say that's exactly what we all need more of.

Madrid despierta despacio, Madrid, ojalá estuvieras aquí. Es domingo y en el rastro caen ríos humanos calle abajo. Me dejo llevar. — Amaral

It's hard to believe that 14 years have passed since I saw the Rolling Stones in Madrid. Charlie Watts, who had been treated for throat cancer shortly before A Bigger Bang was recorded and toured, was as incredible as ever back then, and carried on giving us all some of the finest drumming imaginable in the years since.

Music has lost a real class act.

Otra forma de entender la vida.

¡Campeones partido a partido!

Ikaruga

My first introduction to bullet hell shmups came through a friend's recommendation. They couldn't stop singing the praises of Ikaruga and extolled all and sundry to try it out. Try it out I did, and I immediately saw the attraction.

Truth be told, however, much as I loved the game, and despite the hours I dedicated to perfecting my runs through it, I hadn't given it a second thought for years. So why am I writing this now? A couple of days ago I saw Ikaruga on sale in the Nintendo eShop on my daughter's Switch, and, surprised at how long had passed since I last played it, decided to pick it up for old time's sake.

What can I say? Right from the opening sequence I was enthralled all over again. The sweeping visuals, the music, the perfectly choreographed patterns, the score chaining and, of course, the polarity switching mechanic, so original back in the day, and which has aged as perfectly as the rest of the game. Every aspect of the game, of the experience, is absolutely perfect.

It is hard to believe that Ikaruga is approaching its 20th anniversary. It is hard to believe that it is almost 18 years since I was first enthralled by it. It is hard to believe that picking it up again brings all the same emotions flooding back as if I were playing it for the first time.

Ikaruga truly is a masterpiece.

When I wrote about Keybase a couple of years ago, I mentioned my uneasiness regarding their funding model. Of course, I was right to feel uneasy! I should have had the sense not to use Keybase at all, but nonetheless use it I did, proving the old adage that we are the only species to trip over the same stone twice.

I am sure the venture capitalists are well-pleased with Keybase being purchased by Zoom. Suffice to say, next time, I will follow my instincts!

Quise hacer una reflexión sobre la vida del músico vasco Rafa Berrio, fallecido ayer, pero la verdad es que hay poco que puedo añadir al obituario por Fernando Navarro en El País:

Demasiado indie para los cantautores y demasiado cantautor para los indies. Demasiado librepensador para los rockeros y demasiado rockero para los bohemios. Rafael Berrio era su propio género, como esos poemas que riman sin reglas. Muerto hoy martes a los 56 años en San Sebastián a causa de una enfermedad que padecía, este músico de voz acuciante era un enfant terrible de la canción de autor, un verdadero francotirador que no dejaba títere con cabeza para denunciar la decadencia de una sociedad, la española, entregada a una cultura de consumo fácil y desprovista de valores.

Es nuestro tiempo, tan extraño y violento, parece que es el fin y solo es el comienzo… — Amaral