Saturday, September 30, 2006

Video Game Music Is Music, Too

In university I wrote a thesis entitled "Video Game Music is Music, Too" on the inherent appeal and marketability of video game soundtracks. I was reminded of that paper today when I bought Portable Disco: 8bit Edition, an album of original dance and electronic tracks featuring prominent use of 8bit waveform generators like the one made popular by recording artists YMCK.

As 8bit waveform generation is the well-tempered clavier of an entire generation of Transformers-watching, Bubble-Tape-chewing NES/Famicom players to which I claim proud membership, it's hard to listen to these tunes and not feel a satisfying rush of pixelated nostalgia. The music, while completely fresh and new, is loaded with enough square, triangle and pulse waves to make your thumbs twitch UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A START involuntarily in loving memory of the games whose strident beeps used to make your parents grind their teeth.

Technorati: YMCK, Portable Disco

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What I Did Today

My friend Monica recently recommended that I join yet another online journal community, citing the fact that Chorus, Isolate, Confirm does not offer enough insight into the details of my daily existence. But membership in another community website is the last thing I need. I'm already an active member of, and, to say nothing of my inactive account over at My online needs are pretty much filled. So, for Monica, here's a very mundane (and all-too bloggy) story about what I did today:

Today was the scheduled date for the midterm make-up exams for two of my university classes. I went to the campus and hung around for two hours. Nobody showed up, so I wrote "cellar door" on the board and went home.

There. Now, hopefully, Monica understands why I don't make a blog entry for every day of my life.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Portrait of a Badass: Ren

Character: Ren
Actor: Kevin Bacon
Film: Footloose (1984)
Badass Moment: Ren's anger surpasses the threshhold of smoking, quickly escalating to drinking, then dancing and finally gymnastics

A younger Kevin Bacon once taught us all a few important things. He taught us that we as humans should be able to dance where and when ever we want, and in what ever dippy style we choose. He taught us the value of freedom of expression...and of freedom from persecution by John Lithgow. He taught us all this and more in his role as a big city misfit teen called Ren (you eediot!) in the movie Footloose.

Poor Ren. His parents drag him away from home sweet Chicago and make him attend school in some unidentified rural town (I like to think it exists in the mythical state of South Oklaginiakotah). There Ren finds, to his shock and dismay, the town has an ordinance outlawing dance*. Furthermore, the locals don't take kindly to fancy-pants strangers who come into town with their Sting hairstyles and their skinny neckties and their black and white checkered loafers and think they can just cut the rug any old time they want.

Life in South Oklaginiakotah would get anybody down, to be sure. And sure enough, Ren's frustrations do come to a boiling point in the famous "dancing mad" scene. Through a carefully choreographed campaign of terpsichorean subversion, however, Ren manages to win a tractor race, teach a developmentally stunted farmboy a few "gnarly moves" AND get the town to repeal its despotic anti-dancing statute in time for the senior prom. Thank god for that because, as we all know, prom minus dancing equals nothing but a lot of underage sex.

Ren, you are a badass who doesn't fuse Flashdance with MC Hammer shit. We salute you.

*The town's anti-dancing regulations most likely cite the following obscure Bible excerpt:

"For thus saith the Lord God; In dancing ye shall be damned; And in having an abortion ye shall not necessarilly be damned per se, but be perhaps slightly shunned at My annual Big Heavenly Backyard Barbecue." - Proverbs 10:23

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Asahara Shoko, leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult (and coordinator of the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo's Hibiya, Marunouchi and Chiyoda subway lines) lost his final appeal against a death sentence this week.

This event provides us a convenient opportunity to appreciate the superiority of science over religion. Why waste your days in a dead-end cult or stupid, stupid church when you could be splitting beer atoms or genetically engineering spider-gremlins? I believe that, within my lifetime, science will bless us with at least three of the five following amenities:

1) Bread that gets you drunk

2) An elevator that gains speed with each press of the call button

3) Convincing sex robots that don't go berserk and kill their owners (am I right, people?)

4) Self-neutering dogs

5) A dessert topping that is also a floor wax

Technorati: Aum Shinrikyo, death penalty, sex robots

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Me, I'm Afraid of Heights

My cousin the rapper recommended that I watch the 2004 BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.

My cousin the rapper was right. I watched it and it was excellent.

It's a very adequate three-part explanation of the the American neoconservative movement's dependence on invented enemies and phantom threats. Most importantly, it seeks to drive home what I feel is one of the most important ideas of our day: that our current administration has re-labeled paranoia as "vigilance" and cowardice as "strength."

Each part is one hour long. Please find time to watch all three. Then tell your friends to watch all three. People need to realize that constant, irrational fear of terrorism went out of style with fluorescent pink Trapper Keepers and the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A Home Computer.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Judgement Cometh

And that right soon.

I had a nice week-long vacation in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but as soon as it was over there was business to be taken care of in Tokyo. Specifically, the business of me buying Guilty Gear Judgement for the PSP, the newest embodiment of what is probably the most stylish fighting game franchise in history. I would reserve such praise for the Shibuya-looking girls and boys of the King of Fighters series if it weren't for the fact that Guilty Gear blows any and all competition out of the water on the basis of its heavy metal soundtrack alone.

Even without the epic "I Whupped Joe Satriani's Ass" soundtrack, Guilty Gear enjoys the advantage of a too-cool cast of characters, most of whom would deserve their own Portrait of a Badass if I hadn't made the rule that only film characters would be so honored. How cool are the Guilty Gear characters? Cool enough that, if you were to show up at Otacon dressed as one of them, God would express his ultimate disdain for your charlatanism by giving you a new nipple in the middle of your left cheek, you nerd.

Now the people who see me sitting on the train with my PSP are likely to notice a stiff, awkward look on my face; this is the look of a severely jet-lagged man who wants to air guitar and headbang to the VS. Screen music but can't because it's not socially acceptable to act like the superintendent of the Rock and Roll High School district on the train in Tokyo.

Guilty Gear Judgement includes, in addition to its side-scrolling beat-em-up main attraction, a solid port of Guilty Gear XX Slash, complete with its new final boss Order Sol, who is a super-cheap addition to the lineup (already formidable thanks to the also super-cheap boss version of I-No, the dirty-talking rock-and-roll witch). To my most excellent delight, the game also came with a free UMD video called Guilty Gear Fragment. I haven't watched it yet, but hey. Free video.