So, um, this suddenly exists in the world.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Touch Press Games Apparently Just Released 30 of My Video Games, Which Is Cool But Emotionally Confusing
You know those video games I worked on for 4 years? The company, Amplify, was jettisoned by News Corp. Steve Jobs' widow bought it. They turned into a new company called Touch Press, and they are finally releasing the first games today on the App Store.
During its heyday, Amplify touted its orange tablets as the tool that would transform digital learning experiences in school. Yet the company’s most impressive offering may have been its games. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company invested more than $25 million to partner with talented developers who built 30 learning games covering math, science and English Language Arts.It's weird. I haven't touched them in years, let alone played them or worked on them. I'm not sure what condition they're in or what other games they're going to release, or when -- hey, I didn't even know they were out until someone in the office forwarded me a forward from another forward.
Unless you were a reporter or play tester, however, it was hard to get your hands on them. Only one title was available in the consumer market. The rest required a school license sold by Amplify.
The fate of the games seemed in limbo in Sept. 2015 after News Corporation sold Amplify. But now they have found a new home. Today, Amplify announced that it is merging its games division—the team and its assets—with StoryToys, an Irish developer of children’s learning apps, into a new company: Touch Press.
But I'm glad. I'm really glad. Like one of my coworkers said, "This is like seeing your kid graduate high school after his mother took away your visitation rights for the last decade."
But, hey. Now they're on their own. And I can finally stand back and kvell.
[go here to play them - free, I think!]
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
I wrote a new short story on Hevria -- well, okay, half a short story -- but I have the whole thing in my head, and I'm, like, 98% sure that I'm going to post the other half in 2 weeks. Or next week, if Elad lets me.
And I'm kind of overbrimming with behind-the-scenes stuff to tell you about it.
And Now, the Commentary Track.
- The genesis of the story: I love one-night (or one-day) stories, like American Graffiti and Superbad and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I like giving my stories time limits in general, like how Goldbergs had to end at the end of the summer and this memoir I'm working on goes from Halloween to Thanksgiving. That gives me a ruler to pace everything. Having a single night is even better. It's like a puzzle where every single thing that happens has to fit.
- Yes, the name of the shop in the story is based on the dear, wonderful Nosh World, zichrono l'vrocho (the characters and even the store itself are as complete fabrications as anything can be), but another major influence in the title and the story is the book Last Night at the Lobster, by Stewart O'Nan. It's about a Red Lobster that's shutting down, and there's a snowstorm coming, and workers keep not showing up for their shift, and it's really sad and beautiful -- and specifically, the way it was taught to me by my professor Alexi Zentner, who has a new book out this week that I'm not sure I'm allowed to say is really by him.
- I'm doing this sort of as a challenge to myself: both to finish something, and to put it in front of people. I've been in kind of a sad place lately. My last novel is in limbo and the new one I'm writing is taking forever, and I keep starting stories and then not finishing them. So I'm trying to vanquish my writing anxiety with performance anxiety. I've put up the first half! Now I have to finish the damn thing.
- I just also want there to be more fiction on Hevria! And more stories about Hasidim that aren't about how pathetic we are or people running away or what a horrible place the community is. Not that this is exactly a happy story (nothing I'm gonna write right now is going to be that), but I really do like Zvi, the main character, and I hope other people will too.
- I was working on the last part of the story this morning and I realized with a shock of horror, there's almost no chocolate. Sure, I mention ice cream once or twice, but it is in no way true-to-life to write about a snack shop in Crown Heights and exclude chocolate. There's a paragraph in the second part about a girl who buys a bag of tortilla chips, and it would make way more sense for her character to be eating chocolate, but it makes way more sense for me as a person to think of someone eating nachos:
And she buys a 50-cent pack of chips, of Golden Fluff tortilla strips, a brand whose name has always puzzled him (no gold? no fluff?) but whose taste is undeniably solid, that perfect balance of spicy and tangy and sweet, that he once read the Japanese call umami, a harmony of flavor, the perfect culinary addiction of which he was the purveyor. He loved the boldness of Tsivia Singer’s pre-party indulgence, and the vision of her walking down the street with the umami tang on her breath, neither of which he would ever taste.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
I stole a story from the Baal Shem Tov. Well, I sort of stole it. The part about it being in space, the aliens, the toy robots, the overprotective parents, and the saving the universe without the universe knowing about you saving it -- those parts I may or may not have made up myself.
(Except for the overprotective parents. That part's based on real life.)
Anyway: Here's a movie where I talk about The Gobblings and writing and how the rest of the world tells stories to put kids to bed, and we tell stories to wake ourselves up. Thanks to Daniel and David for filming it, and JAKEtv for making it real, and the wondrous people at Hevria for letting me be egotistical for a change.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
I showed my daughters this morning's newspaper, and it was incredible to watch their faces light up. The oldest read the headline out loud -- Clinton Seals Triumph With California Victory -- and then she squealed, like really squealed, not the I-got-a-new-toy squeal but the I-did-my-multiplication-table-perfectly-for-the-first-time squeal, the squeal that says, holy shit, something in the world has fundamentally changed.
When we talked about who to vote for, I was pretty harsh that the girls weren't allowed to choose Hillary because she was a girl, and that we need to find out as much as we can about everyone, and we want to choose the best people, no matter who they are. (We followed through with this down to some last-minute Googling of superdelegates in the voting booth.) Everyone has good points and bad points, and I really don't like how Bernie probably wouldn't be very cooperative with anyone who wasn't on the same page as him, and I don't like that Hillary seems like a big-balls career politician with no guiding conscience.
But on the level of pure, simple, and direct showing my three daughters that girls can do anything, having a woman on the front page of the paper, claiming the nomination, conceivably becoming the leader of our country, it was an awesome fucking moment. I've been telling them since they were born that they can do anything. There's a lot of stuff that's still in the way, but it just came one step closer to true.
Pic: One more text from Hilary
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Sometimes you just need to get out.
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