Month: February 2012

The Music of 2011 (Part 1 of 2)

It’s rare for me to talk about music.  Historically, it ended up resulting in some embarrassment or frustration as people would react in a way that implied that if I didn’t listen to something they didn’t already know about from the popular media that I must be pathetic.

As a result, I adopted a technique of telling people–coworkers in particular–that I didn’t listen to music.  Instead, I insisted my MP3 player was filled with podcasts.  Particularly right-wing ones. 

At one point last year, two interns asked me if I listened to music and I surprised myself with how naturally I slipped into that routine.

In more recent times I’ve taken it to the extreme, and insisted that I believe music is inherently evil.  I even say that the town of Bomont in Footloose was better off before Kevin Bacon’s character of Ren showed up and re-introduced the sin of music.

Kevin Bacon’s So Evil that Even in Cartoon Form He’s Unpleasant

But I listen to music.  I’m not an enthusiast, but I can find a beat. Sometimes.  Anyway, here’s the music that I dug in 2011.

  1. The Remix Artist Collective are geniuses.  I hated the song “Home” by Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeros.  It was over played, over calculated bullshit trying too hard to be indie and quaint.  These jackasses so desperately wish they were 60’s hippies that I am totally eager to see them blow their minds on acid and walk off a rooftop.  It was so evident that their stuff was the next big small thing that they were used in the parody “what if God of War was made as an indie movie adaptation” maybe six months before it became inescapable.  So it’s rather remarkable that I really enjoyed RAC’s remix of “Home.” I’m in such a bad mood from describing the uphill battle RAC had that I don’t care to elaborate on how they succeeded.
  2. I attended a meeting of a local anime club.  I don’t know why I’ve only been to two meetings of this club in two years.  I need to try harder to get to know people.  Anyway, at that meeting I happened across the series Basquash which … made me shudder.  I’ll give the writers credit, though, for having an explanation for why some of the women had ridiculously huge breasts.  We’ll ignore the particulars.  Anyway, the scene I was caught involved the giant mechs playing basketball in the middle of the city … ugh, let’s go back to ignoring particulars.  The music that played during the scene I saw was titled B.S.Q.S. (which is kind of the title of the series) and was composed by Yoshikawa Kei.  I like the piece, it mixes some electric guitar, piano, a strong beat, it’s exciting but has a somewhat hopeful quality (very fitting for the on-screen action).
  3. Prior to the release of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition a fan made a video lamenting the playability of the character of Makoto, who came from Street Fighter 3. I don’t really know what drove me to watch the video; I’m hardly a hardcore enough player of fighting games to even be able to understand things like frame counting, tiers, or priority.  Besides which, my favorite Street Fighter characters are Adon, E. Honda, and Ibuki.

It Should be Obvious Why I Like Ibuki
     I watched the video and was blown away by the music that the guy who made it used.  It was a lovely jazzy tune with scat singing that I thought was absolutely fantastic.  I quickly scrolled through the video details and comments to track down the musician because I really couldn’t have cared less about the particulars of playing Street Fighter.  It ended up being Color of Days by Jazztronik, a Japanese musician. I bought the whole album, Samurai, off Amazon MP3 (my first time using Amazon MP3, in fact) and found it to be an amazing collection of mostly jazz music drawing from various sources and infusing some techno influences.

This post is getting a little long.  TO BE CONTINUED!

Cool Beer Art

I recently did a beer run and decided to buy my alcohol based on how much I liked the art on the labels.  There’s some impressive work to be seen on these bottles, some of which can be pretty evocative. 

I’ve always liked the look of vector or posterized art.  This makes a piece less complicated, and thus easier to print, but is also a very cool effect.  The beers from Kona Brewery, which produces my favorite beers and has become my go-to brand over the past few years, uses this style for its labels.  Koko Brown was a brew I was unfamiliar with, but given my tendency to buy flavored beers it was a no-brainer for me to pick up. The coconut taste wasn’t as strong as I hoped.  I’m not even sure I could call it an aftertaste.  You could only really pick up on the hint of coconut as it was going into the mouth and the nose faintly picked it up in the gap between the edge of the bottle and the lips.

I’m not sure what’s going on in this art for Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye.  I generally don’t like IPAs, they’re just too bitter, but the art stood out for me.  The drawing style was much more “comic book” than I’m used to seeing on a bottle.  Maybe because I’ve been playing Skyrim, the women struck me as some medieval adventurer wandering through this field, staff ready to wail on some potential threat (the imagery perhaps influenced by the use of ruthless in the beer’s name.)

In the end, it’s all just beer.

The Gay Dictionary

Apparently some group named Arkh Project is aiming to make a RPG that is … friendlier … to people of different ethnicity and sexual orientation than the standard video game protagonists.

Yeah, sure, why not. I generally take offense to the idea of “only someone with X characteristics can make something that appeals to others with X characteristics,” which is a patently ridiculous idea.  Their mission statement is more along the lines of “what others have done hasn’t appealed to us so we’ll do it ourselves.”  But that’s not what this blog posting is about.  What this blog posting is about the experience I had reading an article about this organization on Kotaku (a gaming website I generally loathe) which can be found here.

I read this and the comment section blew my mind.  How much jargon has the LBGT community created for itself?  The examples I noted were:

  1. Cis
  2. Genderqueer
  3. Assigned
  4. Presenting

These got tossed around so casually as though it was just assumed anyone reading the article would know what they mean (which would be appropriate on a blog dealing primarily with LBGT issues, not a gaming one.)

Is there a schism in the LBGT community around this sort of thing? It seems like nonsense to me.  It’s like political correctness taken to an extreme in order to accommodate the delicate egos of people who need to be perceived as so outstandingly unique that there needs to be a word to describe their particular shade of sexuality.   I also think it doesn’t do any favors in getting support from people not deeply embedded in the community.  By needing to create words to describe themselves they’re effectively saying “I’m so alien from you that your language is insufficient to describe me.”  That’s a problem. 

More amusing though is its bizarre single-mindedness.  So the “multitude” of variations in sexuality need to be addressed … but not race.  “People of color” is sufficient.  It’s not some convoluted “people of an ethnic background that is a-typical of the socially accepted ‘standard’ of North America excluding Mexico” .. blah blah blah qualifications.

Get the Darth Maul! GET IT!

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 3D is coming to theaters this weekend.  I remember when this film was released the first time, in a mere two dimensions, back in 1999.  Actually, no, I remember the hype beforehand pretty well.  The Sci Fi channel (before it became infested with syfylus) had a series of funny commercials featuring a pair of nerds waiting in line to see the movie and pondering the intricacies of the Star Wars universe such as “if it’s a prequel, shouldn’t the opening scroll real ‘Longer ago in a galaxy not as far away,’ once you take into account there’s an expanding universe?”

The other major event before Episode 1 came out and disappointed everyone was the midnight premiere of the action figures.  I collected toys back then, but not Star Wars.  For whatever reason, the Star Wars universe has never really appealed to me.  I was just more of a Star Trek fan.  But I was fascinated–in a watching a train wreck way–by the idea of holding a midnight premiere for toys and the sorts of people that would attract.

And my mom came with me.  But that’s okay, we’ve laughed about that experience many times since then.  I don’t quite know how to describe it, except that it was like seeing a bunch of salivating, hungry dogs tear apart a dead bird.  I don’t just mean the free Sunny Delight and crackers that the Toys R Us we went to was offering.  I mean they ravenously snatched up these figures like the survivors of an apocalypse would grab at edible food after foraging for months.  I remember constantly hearing cries of “Darth Maul! Get the Darth Maul!” as that figure was sought after the most.  And why not? He was kind of cool looking in a generic “I’m a badass” way and since the movie hadn’t come out nobody knew that he’d only have a couple of minutes of screen time and not really do anything except get killed. At one point, I stumbled across an unopened case of figures set aside from the display–probably meant to restock in the morning.  I called out “what’s this” and nudged at it with my foot, pushing it more into view, and within a minute the horde had descended on the case and torn it open, robbing it of all the Darth Mauls it contained.

That figure Darth Maul figure, which came with a “Comm Tech” chip (the gimmick Hasbro was pushing with their first wave of Episode 1 figures; you could plug them into a communicator device and hear some poorly recorded sound clips) can be bought online for $4.  

New Action Figure: Robo Girls

I collect action figures.  I don’t really collect a particular series anymore since every line has kind of … stopped.  You can’t even find much of anything at toy stores anymore and so I’ve turned to almost exclusively buying stuff online.  I mostly focus on “eh, that looks cool.”  In this case, the Disney (Japan) character of Drossel fits the bill.  She’s sci-fi looking and cute.  Kind of has an iMac G3 quality to her. I had bought the Figma version last year and was surprised to find there was a redesign of the character, for what I assume was the second series of animated short featuring her.  I tried watching the original series of shorts and found them too … foreign.  I’ll assume the humor (I think the shorts were supposed to be funny) works better for someone who speaks Japanese natively.  Working from subtitles … they don’t work.

Anyway, I was pretty happy to see a new figures were coming out and ordered the larger (and more expensive) version, made by Bandai in the Soul of Chogokin line, which uses real metal, because it was the first one that became available.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that this figure is incapable of standing on its own, given the odd design of the feet.  And legs.  And, uhm …

Robot’s Got Some Mad Hips

But I dig the head with glasses and it goes wonderfully with the book that came with the Figma which was over-sized and never really worked right with a pose.