Thursday, May 31, 2007

Music History

I know Gus thinks that music performed by people who spend time at practice is obsolete and fascistic (or at least undemocratic), but I think even he has to admit that this is pretty cool. If you happen to have six minutes and five seconds, I beg you to watch a recording of Dimitriev as a younger man playing the Fugue in D-minor here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

These Are Not Wii Ads

A bunch of new PlayStation 3 "lifestyle" photos hit the web this weekend. The gaming dorks at NeoGaf (a message board I spent much too much time reading) mercilessly picked apart the photos. Some noted the desperate "me too" air of the shots. Others picked out irregularities, like the identical game-play images across multiple shots, or the fact that two models are playing the game, but the image on the TV isn't in split screen. And then somebody opened up Photoshop and it was all over.

Check out the thread here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

LFM Good Gifs

I never saw this one before. Me likey.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Star Wars Memories

Despite all the anti-Star Wars venom you hear spewing from my mouth, I actually have fond memories of the original movies. I broke down and bought the DVDs that include the theatrical versions and rewatched Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back this weekend. It only took five minutes before I forgot about all my built-up Lucas bile and fell into the groove. For years these flicks were my comfort food and despite everything that has passed they still have the power to make me feel like a kid again.

In honor of the anniversary let's reminisce about the first movie:

I was four and a half when I first saw Star Wars. Our family saw the movie at a drive-in theater in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My sister and I were in our pajamas in the back seat of the family station wagon. The folks were in the front. I probably didn't stay awake past the first hour. My most vivid memory of that night is having to go to take a leak. My dad walked me to the bathrooms, which were brightly-lit and white. I remember that there were speakers in there so I could still hear the movie. I was kinda scared, because all the monsters, robots and bad guys you see at the beginning of the movie sorta filled my mind with a sense of background dread.

Anybody else have memories of your first Star Wars experience?

Post 'em in the comments.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

New Guitar Hero Tracks

The new tracks from Guitar Hero III:

* Paint It Black (by The Rolling Stones)
* Cherub Rock (by Smashing Pumpkins)
* Sabotage (by Beastie Boys)
* The Metal (by Tenacious D)
* My Name is Jonas (by Weezer)
* Knights of Cydonia (by Muse)
* Rock And Roll All Nite (as made famous by Kiss)
* School's Out (as made famous by Alice Cooper)
* Slow Ride (as made famous by Fog Hat)
* Cult of Personality (by Living Colour)
* Barracuda (as made famous by Heart)

Note that many are not covers.

Guitar Hero Rocks the '80s:

* I Wanna Rock (by Twisted Sister)
* I Ran (by Flock of Seagulls)
* Round and Round (as made famous by Ratt)
* I Want Candy (as made famous by Bow Wow Wow)
* Metal Health (as made famous by Quiet Riot)
* Holy Diver (as made famous by Dio)
* Heat Of The Moment (as made famous by Asia)
* 18 and Life (as made famous by Skid Row)
* Bathroom Wall (as made famous by Faster Pussycat)
* Lonely is the Night (as made famous by Billy Squier)
* Nothing But a Good Time (as made famous by Poison)
* Play With Me (as made famous by Extreme)
* Shaken (as made famous by Eddie Money)
* Synchronicity II (as made famous by Police)

EDIT: Three '80s tracks added:

* Balls to the Wall (Accept)
* Only a Lad (Oingo Boingo)
* The Warrior (Scandal)

I was concerned that the hand off to Activision would reduce the quality of the song selection. And by quality I mean the way they balanced obscure rockers that music geeks would love against well-known anthems. The first two games did an excellent job of mixing the familiar and off-beat.

The biggest shock for me is how many of the cheeseball, hair band tracks I remember fondly. "Bathroom Wall" was easily one of my favorite tracks on the Decline of Western Civilization Part 2 soundtrack.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Magnificent Racket

The music site Idolator just blogged the above video, a clip of The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo performing on The Gong Show. Soon after they appeared in the cult film Forbidden Zone -- a patently strange, but ultimately excellent black and white indie that worshiped old school Ub Iwerks animation while laying the groundwork for the Los Angeles punk/geek ethos that would spawn folks like Tim Burton, Pee Wee Herman and Gary Panter.

What strikes me about the band's performance is how closely it resembles other cacophonous music that I adore. Such as:

Man Man:

and Tom Waits:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Again with the FFT empty hand.

The in game videos are online now. I kinda like the sound effects with no voices. However there is talk about having voice overs for the US release. You know, because of our lesser pallates. More stuff here.

Quit Your Jibber Jabber!



I went to get fitted for a tux today and guess what I found?! Geek Heaven! As a rule I avoid malls so I missed three years of time with this store. I thought I was a bad steward of money before. The clerk wasn't sure what to do when I hugged him after I bought my FFXII Ashe doll.

Action figure! I mean action figure!

Assassin's Creed Ubidays Trailer

Lookin' good. The track is "Lonely Soul" by U.N.K.L.E. (DJ Shadow and James Lavelle) with Richard Ashcroft of The Verve singing.

Grindhouse/Dangerdoom Music Mystery Solved

...and all it took was a pen and a notebook.

You may remember this post, in which I noted that the music in the "Feature Presentation" and "Coming Attraction" reels of Grindhouse featured the same sample that Dangerdoom used in their song "Old School Rules."

I wasn't about to wait to see the movie on video. What kind of QT fan would I be if I only saw his movies once in the theater? Especially considering that I re-watched Kill Bill on the plane last week and noticed the same tune at the beginning of that movie too.

So I saw the movie again this evening and hung around until the credits. I jotted down the first song listed for the Death Proof soundtrack and it turned out to be the one I was looking for, "Funky Fanfare" by Keith Mansfield.

Keith MansfieldFunky Fanfare

Apparently Mansfield is considered the godfather of library music. Hence the reason his tunes would pop up in unsexy slots between ads for concession stand candy and trashy movies. His Wikipedia entry was one hair away from being useful, the paragraph mentions that he was sampled by Dangerdoom and Madlib, but makes no notes of the specific songs. Now the truth can be told.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No Country For Old Men

The new Coen Brothers flick is the toast of Cannes this year. They've got stiff competition if they want another Palm D'or, though. Zodiac, We Own the Night, Death Proof, Paranoid Park and (my pick for winner) Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights are also in competition.

This movie is the Coen's first adaptation -- from the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Tonally, it appears to sit close to their debut Blood Simple. Though it was more broad, I'd probably lump Fargo in with that group as well. A French film site has posted five clips from the movie. You'll see Josh Brolin (the older brother from The Goonies, and recently Grindhouse), Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside, Before Night Falls) and Tommy Lee Jones (who is long overdue for some decent roles). Some are calling Bardem's sadistic killer in this flick one of the most menacing in ages.

Five clips.

I Rap About Witches and Trolls

Not to glut the blog with Conchords, but this is just too germane not to include.

Oh, the levels.

Flight of the Conchords

Go here to see the full pilot of the new HBO series Flight of the Conchords. You may recognize this New Zealand duo from a couple of viral videos that have been making the rounds. Jermaine Clement also starred in Eagle vs. Shark, an indie comedy that feels a bit like Napoleon Dynamite...could just be the trailer, though. The first episode is solid, with several musical numbers and an appearance or two from comedian Eugene Mirman. Comparisons to Tenacious D are inevitable.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Excuse to Drink #5,623

As you must have heard by now, the historic clipper Cutty Sark has been set ablaze in her berth on the Thames in Greenwich. Never has there been a better time to buy a bottle of her namesake whisky and raise a glass to just a few degrees North of East in her honor.

I heard that she will likely be able to be restored, so raise another glass to her restoration. I am sure that this notion is far from novel, but if I cause just one more drink to be drunk, then I have made all the difference.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Starcraft II Gameplay

I think I could enjoy playing the single-player campaign, but I swore off multiplayer the last time I got my ass handed to me at a college LAN party. I can't see how this game won't be ready before the end of the year. Some really huge disaster like stolen code is the only thing I could see delaying it.

A Nice Game of Chess

I hate to say it, but a recent forum thread I read has rekindled an almost certainly ill-fated interest in Chess. So I signed up for an free account at Red Hot Pawn and am now engaged in my first game. It looks like a decent site, games work the same as T&E on the Geek. It has a little more polish, and a ranking system, of course. Send me a challenge if you like, I am cardinal23 as usual.

The Most Powerful Person in the World

This fan-made love letter to video games may not be the most expertly crafted or wittily written, but I can really get behind where it is coming from.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Etrian Odyssey

This little title from Atlus has me excited, it seems made for those who grew up on Wizardry and The Bard's Tale. It's got the kind of setup I like: roll up five characters and hit the dungeon, but the gimmick that really sells it for me is that you have to draw the map yourself on the bottom screen of the DS. It's not like I'm going to have any time to play this at home in the next couple weeks with the Halo 3 Beta, but I do have some flights coming up...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One For the Grown-Ups, Now.

This one is getting a lot of attention for its high production values. Also, it touches on the eternally revered literary exploration of how the living and the undead interact.

The game itself might be a little too easy, but there's plenty to appreciate along the way. Don't forget to read the journal every day when you pick your weapons.

The Last Stand

Party Pals

Sometimes I just have to sit down for a little bit and concern myself with nothing more complex than the things that Licorice and Coconut do.

Monday, May 14, 2007


File this under wierd music and hot chick.
Hear is some of her stuff. I reccomend Mirukii and Miyako.
For the record, her panda child is not mine.

More Adult Swim Pilots

I hate to say it, but I like Superjail and Fat Guy In the Internet way better than Drinky Crow. If, by some outside chance you happen to like either of them don't get your hopes up. The excellent pilot for Korgoth is years old and there's been no news about it getting picked up for more episodes.

This is the only acceptable kind of commercial.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Maakies

The Maakies is a weekly comic strip by Tony Millionaire and now a pilot on Adult Swim. I'm not entirely happy with the first episode. I think it tries a little too hard to be outrageous, treating the strips unrelenting pessimism with a little less nuance than it deserves. Still, if it's going to put food on the table for an artist I admire then I'll get on board. Millionaire is an imaginative, unique and technically talented strip cartoonist. His detailed, nautically-themed panels are easily the most lovely to hit newsprint since Watterson was still working. Look at his Sock Monkey comics and storybooks to see how great his work looks when it have room to breathe.

The Maakies pilot @ Adult Swim

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alan Moore Schools You Muggles

Hot on the heels of the excellent essay on sexuality by Alan Moore comes a discussion with the comics auteur on the subject of magic and spirituality. This is the first time the interview (conducted in 2001, then published in 2003) has been available online. It's a long read, but anyone who is interested in Alan Moore, the occult and/or the finer points of kicking open the doors of perception should give it a look.

Read it here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Spoils

I went out and bought a couple Spoils starters last night. What follows are my impressions having only looked at the cards and rules, but not having played the game:

What Seems Cool

  • It's easy to learn. If you know Magic, you know The Spoils. You've got five factions with matching resource cards, characters, tactics (one time spells), and locations. Characters have life and strength. The game ends when you lose all the influence off your faction card.

  • There are some interesting differences from Magic. The structure of the game is a little looser than M:TG or AGOT. The way things reset at the beginning of your turn and cards you draw is determined by your faction card rather than hard coded into the game rules. You can always spend your resources to draw cards, which I think will be nice for the situations when you've drawn a ton of resources but don't have anything good to do with them.

  • The Mulligan rule is nice. You draw up your initial hand (sized differently depending on whether you go first or second) and then you may put any number of cards on the bottom of your deck and draw up again. You also start with two resources of your choice out, so you've got a reasonable chance of a good start. A huge improvement, in my opinion.

  • Attacking seems a little more tactical. You may attack as many times as you like in your turn, provided you have untapped characters to do so. Your attacking characters form a Party, which may then target a location or the opposing characters faction. In addition to the familiar Strength and Life, each character has a Speed stat. Combat is resolved in a series of steps, with the speedier characters assigning their damage first, so slower characters may never get the chance to deal their damage.

  • The card backs are pretty sweet, and the ink smells decent, but I don't think it's Carta Mundi. The art seems ok, but that's not my primary interest.

My Concerns

  • Perhaps too much like Magic. I was dissatisfied with Magic for a few reasons. Some of those reasons appear to have been addressed, but it remains to be seen whether there are enough interesting variations in game play to warrant extensive play.

  • It's collectible. Enough said, although I may post something else on the nature of collectible games later if I get inspired.

  • Many of the cards are intended to be humorous, and I hate humor. Or maybe not quite hate it, but it's easy for it to ring false. And it generally doesn't stand up to repeated viewing. I'm a curmudgeon, when it comes to this. Humor and games with longevity are a tough mix.

Ok, this post got out of control for a game most of you will play once, but there you go.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Making the Case For Knocked Up

Here begins my campaigning for the Judd Apatow school of comedy. This piece from the New York times is slightly fluffy, but begins to sketch out the up-with-losers angle that I dig in most of the director's work, such as 40-Year-Old Virgin, Freaks & Geeks and the vastly underrated Undeclared.

Haters will be pleased to see a bit of negativity coming from another comedy wunderkind, Mike White. But then, he's the guy who wrote School of Rock. Conflicted yet?

Bjork Live Streaming @ NPR

I've had a string of bad luck catching Bjork live. Either her shows are sold out, very far away or extremely expensive. In a way, I'm sorta glad because it seems like her live shows are only getting more elaborate. This stream contains the entirety of a live show performed May 5th at the United Palace in NYC. Listen for the amplified and distorted drumwork of Konono #1, who are opening for the singer on quite a few shows. I just started listening to this set, but I'm crossing my fingers for a guest appearance by Antony, who also appears on her record.

Stream the show here.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Blue Mondays

I changed the color. I like the blue better than the green. Does anyone care? I could change it back if you were feeling the green.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

And You Thought The Dead Milkmen Were Hard to Listen To

Some time in the not-so distant future a married couple, let's call them Space Tim and Laser Karri, will say to each other, "let's pop in that Lightning Bolt music prism we used rock out to when we first met." Massive ear hemorrhages will ensue. Luckily they'll have nanobots to stop the bleeding.

Lightning Bolt, if you haven't already run for the hills, is an experimental/noise/metal duo from Providence, Rhode Island. The drummer, Brian Chippendale, is a founding member of the now-defunct Fort Thunder comics/art/screen printing collective -- a group whose influence is still felt in the current indie comics scene. Chippendale collaborated with Bjork on her new record Volta, which is out this week.

If you made it past Lightning Bolt, you saw Dan Deacon -- a sort of indie electro dork with a new record called Spider-Man of the Rings. I'm digging his spazzy, Devo-influenced act.

Cat Macros aka Lolcats

At this point the "cat macro" meme has been nearly fully digested by contemporary culture. Now to see how it evolves. I'm betting that the "lolcat" name eventually overshadows the less direct reference to image macros. Already, I'm noticing cat backlash. My friend Mike recently expressed unrestrained hatred for the 3.2 million people who watched Nora the cat play piano.

I'm just wondering how long it's going to take before we hear a "I'm in your blank, blanking ur blank," joke in one of the Scary Movie sequels. At that point, even I will have trouble maintaining enthusiasm for the fad.

Still, I give props to the administrators of the website I Can Has Cheezburger for taking on the daunting task of transforming the unorganized chaos of this into a tagged, and in some cases attributed format. I'd love to see further study of the movement one that somehow tracks the evolution of jokes, continuance of running gags or iteration of particular images like, my personal favorite, longcat.

The Sci-Fi 25

Here's Entertainment Weekly's list of the best sci-fi movies and television from the past 25 years. I think a bunch of the stuff they're listing are really fantasy or action movies adorned with sci-fi trappings, but it's an interesting list and a great jumping point for discussion. If there's any real blasphemy in the article it's calling Christopher Eccleston a better Doctor than Tom Baker. Is nothing sacred?

Taking the boys to Spiderman 3

I found this review while researching what I am about to put my young'ns through. Keegan did not like the O.R. horror scene in 2.

I enjoyed this quote: "To place a sensitive story in a male-epic genre — to dramatize feelings of angst and personal betrayal worthy of an Ingmar Bergman film, and then to dress them up in gaudy comic-book colors — is to pull off a smartly subversive drag show. " - Richard Corliss TIME/CNN

Emphasis added.

Maybe it caught my eye because it was unlike any other quote on rotten tomatoes. The last paragraph of the review is interesting as well.

(And yes it is a 3 page review so buck up and read the whole of someones work and not just the mob's synoptic opinions/reactions.)

Summer Video Game Preview

X-Play just aired their summer preview episode, most of which can be seen here. They've got new footage of Mass Effect, Too Human, Lair, Stranglehold, Tabula Rasa, Age of Conan, Warhawk, Dark Sector, The Darkness, Shadowrun, Hellgate: London and Mercenaries 2.

Just the Facts

So lets talk about police procedurals.

Sure, shows like C.S.I. are about as realistic as the rest of Jerry Bruckheimer's work. But I'm talking about the more down-to-earth stuff. The shows that get down to the nitty gritty of what a cop really does. That's why Dragnet is easily the Godfather of the genre. The show wasn't afraid to make the job look un-sexy. In fact, Jack Webb went out of the way to make the show as realistic as possible. And it was still a hoot to watch. Thanks, especially, to Webb's dry-as-dirt delivery. One of my college profs (who worked on the show) told me that Webb would come to work so lit that they'd tilt the set onto the floor and let him deliver his monologues lying down.

Today's best cop drama is The Wire. It takes a novelistic approach to storytelling, looking at the lives of everyone from drug dealing peons to high-ranking city officials. The entire first season follows a single case with the Baltimore police first learning to apply modern surveillance techniques to nab a drug kingpin. If you like HBO-flavored television you're doing yourself a great disservice by skipping out on this one.

Lately movies tend to lean towards less-realistic action when dealing with police stories. But there are exceptions. This year's Zodiac, was a low-key, slow-burning thriller that followed three men (a cop, a journalist and a newspaper cartoonist) who became obsessed with discovering the identity of the serial killer.

My favorite old-school, cinematic police procedural is High and Low by Akira Kurasawa. A businessman (Toshiro Mifune) is nailed by a kidnap plot, but they nab the child of his chauffeur rather than his son. The second half of the film, which details the locating and capture of the kidnappers offers an intriguing glimpse into the doings of the Japanese police force in the '60s.

I could really go on forever. The first ten seasons of Law & Order was dynamite. The show's "ripped from the headlines" plots were still very obscure then. And the show went months without revealing a single tidbit about the cops' personal lives. Skip the spin offs and pretty much any episode with a blonde D.A. My wife is the expert on the U.K. stuff, but I'd probably peg Prime Suspect as the best example of the detailed cops shows over there.

Friday, May 4, 2007

WoW Visa?!

I am probably in.


I mentioned the guy's break up last night. I am still moved to sadness by the stick figure version.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Future is Dumb, But at Least it's Short

This post by one of the guys who worked on Reddit sparked me to brief, guilty introspection. I know I read as much (or more) than I ever have. But I don't read books like I used to. Where are we going with this?

Hot Fuzz Intersects With the Walker Art Center

I took a stroll around the Walker Art Center last Friday before catching The Books and noticed a funny coincidence. On display in the current exhibition Paper Trail: A Decade of Acquisitions is a print by Fiona Banner called "Break Point" which reproduces, in red text, a description of one of the climactic action sequences in the movie Point Break. The same scene serves as the main pay off for the movie Hot Fuzz, which you must be some kind of communist to have not seen by now.

Police State Sneak Preview

This is kinda random, but a gaming guy happened to be at the protests in McArthur Park and got some really good footage of the LAPD shooting rubber bullets at women and children. California, remember, is a bellwether state.

Watch the video here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Anime and Electronica

Nerd Utopia

Growing up sucks.

Karri and I played some Dead Milkmen tonight for the first time in almost two decades. Decades. They aren't as good as we remember. I think the only thing going for the songs for us now is nostalgia.

The stuff we used to listen to just to get on the nerves of people in their 30's . . .

Damn man, people in their 30's. My punk rock girl is a mom in her 30's! AVK really does take retards to the zoo; and Geoff works there!


All These Worlds Are Yours

We were talking the other day about Gliese 581c, as it has now been named. The Wikipedia article is pretty good, so I thought I'd link it for those who haven't checked it out.

There's also the Wikipedia article for Europa, which unfortunately confirms that there is no mission currently planned to examine that moon. I am in agreement with Andy preferring a robotic mission to Europa over a manned mission to Mars.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pecos Pest

Shug Fisher performing "Froggy Went A Courting," from the Tom & Jerry short Pecos Pest just popped up in iTunes, so I figured I'd share the love. Here's a .wav of the song.

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