Monday, March 28, 2005

Recent recommendations

Saint Petersburg

On Friday, we had dinner with one of our deacons and his family. After dinner, our hosts introduced us to a wonderful board game called Saint Petersburg. Team Redd enjoys playing board games from time to time, but those times are few and far between. Our hosts, however, are big fans of games of all types. Saint Petersburg, as the title would indicate, is about building up Czar Peter's city along the River Neva. It's pretty cool, because there are any number of strategies to be employed as the game progresses. Each round has four phases: 1) using your rubles to hire workers, 2) building structures, 3) hiring aristocrats, and 4) an exchange/upgrade phase. The different workers/ structures/ aristocrats generate money and points throughout each round. Gameplay requires finding the balance between hiring workers to generate the rubles needed to get the buildings and aristocrats that generate the big points. Plus, you can go into "debt" by holding onto the workers/buildings/aristocrats you want until you can scrape together the money to purchase them. But of course, if the game ends before you pay them off, you are penalized. Several of our friends at church are really into Settlers of Catan, but I think I enjoyed this one a bit better. Fun was had by all.

Buddy Miller - Universal United House of Prayer

I could never be accused of being a fan of country music, despite my Alabama roots. Similarly, one would be hard-pressed to label me a fan of the Contemporary Christian Music industry, although some of my favorite musicians are Christians and write from a distinctively Christian perspective. That being said, Buddy Miller's music could be loosely termed "country" and "Christian," but neither of those accurately capture him. I saw him play at Andrew Peterson's annual Christmas concert last December, and I finally got around to picking up UUHOP. The album is wonderful, a great blending of country, bluegrass and gospel stylings. The songs are heartfelt, spiritual and honest, including songs by Miller (and wife Julie) as well as renditions of songs by Mark Heard and Bob Dylan. I've been listening to it heavily since I bought it. Highly recommended.

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