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The Ramones. (long essay for college)

March 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everybody thinks of the Beatles as the most influential rock and roll group of the 20th century. And as there were no rock and roll groups in the 19th century and there aren’t any as influential or universally beloved as the Beatles in the 21st century, it feels safe to call them the most influential pop band of all time. Indeed, it was John, Paul, George and Ringo who invented the self-contained band–a handful of musicians who would write, sing and play their own songs exclusively. During the 60s, the Fab Four were the biggest thing since sliced bread, but after their dissolution and into the 1970s, rock music took increasingly more theatric and ludicrous turns. Acts like Led Zeppelin opened the door for progressive rock (prog rock henceforth) and heavy metal, two genres less focused on songs and more focused on performances. These genres took skill and years of practice to get into, and were only amassing global popularity in the early 70s.

It was into this musical landscape that the second most influential rock and roll group of the 20th century was born. It was a time of guitar virtuosos and organ solos. When performers took to the stage, it was frequently in elaborate outfits. Rock music became less about rebellion and more about hobbits or satan. This was the environment surrounding four “middle class” New York boys determined to make their impact on the world. And to think, all Tom Erdelyi wanted to do was start a band. When he met John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Jeffry Hyman through their mutual fandom for The Stooges, the pieces were in place for the Ramones to take over the world. Tommy had found Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey. All that was left was for them to convince him that he should play drums instead of being the manager. (He’d stay on as producer for their first four albums.)

Their passion came out of the New York Dolls, the Stooges and a rebellion (at least on Johnny’s part) against the idea that excessive displays of skill were a necessary part of being a rock band. Unlike their primary influences’ focus on clothing and makeup, the Ramones played strictly in jeans and leather jackets with outgrown Beatles haircuts. Their first shows were at a hole-in-the-wall bar in a New York abandoned by young urban professionals headed for the suburbs. CBGB was the only bar that would have them, and even then, their audience at their first shows was mostly comprised of the members of Television, Blondie, the Talking Heads. Being entirely unique in their style, there was no competition with the Ramones. Read more…

The death of MegaUpload.

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Don’t worry about those two unsightly unfinished articles under this one–I’ll be getting to those in time. I just wanted to get this out now, as well as another article I wanted to write today, both of which are going to be short and to the point. Speaking of to the point, enough faffing about. The warrant-less, trial-less takedown of Megaupload–a file-sharing site noted primarily for its ease of use, clean interface, large storage sizes for free users and rampant, unpoliced piracy by its users–was taken down yesterday, less than twelve hours after the Wikipedia blackout ended. It was unconstitutional. It was standard operating procedure for the police state the United States are becoming. And frankly, it scares me as much as the police violence against demonstrators at various #occupy protests.

The takedown of Megaupload only came about due to money from the entertainment industry. If you have the dollars to pay the United States government, they will attack and destroy anything you want them to. Which, in these days, makes them paid attack goons for the American entertainment industry, as well as the food and military industries. Private contractors can pay the United States to do anything they want, and the US will agree. If you are a private entity with enough money, you can pay the United States to ignore “innocent until proven guilty” and tear down an entire company just because their users engage in illegal behaviour and it’s easier to tear down a service with legitimate uses than police its users. You disgust me.

The truth is, I’d love to get ranting and raving on this, I would. But the entire issue depresses me so heavily that it gets impossible to see how any statement anywhere can make it any better at all ever. We’re occupying, we’re protesting, we’re blacking out popular sites, but the internet will continue to be shut down and closed off by a government that has just started to realize its full, stupid power. Its absolute stupid, dumb power. If great responsibility comes with great power, the United States will ignore that responsibility until the end of western civilisation, signing into legislation more and more faith-based, well-funded idiocy with the intent of making every person on Earth a criminal so that they can decide who the people they want to punish are and decide how long they want to punish them for. We’re seeing arbitrary arrests. We’re seeing massive overreaches of power. And some people are still convinced of an external threat, come to kill us all.

This is what weighs on my mind after the death of Megaupload. This is what I see. Not “oh, if you knock one down, five more will take its place”. I see the greatest nation on Earth falling to theocratic fascism, and my last option is going to be to move to Sweden. I’m tired, I’m sad. An innocent company has been destroyed simply because someone paid a hitman to take it out. Thanks, America. For falling to theocratic fascism under the man who was supposed to make it better and instead wound up selling the American people to wealthy bankers with enough money for nothing already. You disgust me.

The highlight of my day today.

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

And I know it was the highlight because it happened right off the top of my day and no experience has topped it since.

My morning routine is to get up at the sound of my braying, obnoxious alarm clock, roll out of bed and head downstairs to shower. And today was really no different. I woke up an hour late, but I was getting a ride to college, so that evened out. I got in the shower, turned on the hot water and started thinking. Thinking the way we only do in the shower. We take the sensory deprivation of the shower for granted in North America, just like the clean, drinkable water we use for it.

Just yesterday, I had started my Saints Row 2 campaign. And by started, I mean only that. I’m not even out of the hospital yet. I don’t even know if my game will pick up where I left it cos I don’t think you can save in that mission. In any case, I was/am playing as an ageing yet attractive Asian woman with blue hair and smeared purple lipstick. I told Dave this yesterday, and he said I should play as Gaben. Huh? “Gaben.” Huh? “Gaben!” Two seconds. “HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT A GABEN IS–”

At which point the computer had shut off. So, I googled it when I got back home. It’s a legitimately hilarious meme in which somebody cut the beginning of the Team Fortress 2 commentary, provided by Gabe Newell, into a stupid statement dance mix. “To stop the Gaben, press the Gaben” and so forth. His email is gaben@somethingtodowithvalve.com (not his real email, I forget what it is). And I thought of all of this in the shower, then thought to myself, “I should email Gabe Newell to tell him that Portal 2 is one of the best games I’ve ever encountered, let alone current generation, let alone console or developer–it’s just one of the best, period. Read more…

Stalling! Now with raps I wrote!

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

you know those blogs that are nothing but promises to post more?

this is gonna become one of those if this keeps up.

I did my other new year’s thing before I wrote tonight and my mom’s occupying the tv like it’s zucotti park, so I thought I’d do something different.

here’s some raps I wrote a while ago! Read more…

School schedule.

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

So tomorrow, I have a class at 8am, which means I’m setting my alarm for 5am in order to get there on time. As it’s now 10pm the night before that, I have to go to sleep now to get not even eight hours of sleep.

Good news is, I’ll be finishing the Portal 2 post tomorrow and putting one here in its stead about my experiences with the other half a dozen games I’ve bought for the PS3 so far. I should have some free time to play them then.

Other than that, get on twitter and follow the Overt Dictionary and Injustice Facts. The pro is that their content has made me disgusted with my own impulses to buy things and brought several forms of injustice and crime to my daily attention; the con is that they keep pushing their multimedia collective The Artists at the same time. Good with the bad, you know?

Seeya tomorrow afternoon!

Categories: Not-A-Reviews, Video Games

The blog post about Portal 2 before I’ve finished playing Portal 2.

January 9, 2012 Leave a comment

So, Portal 2. I feel like my review of this game is going to carry a lot of baggage when I finally get around to doing it. I’ve been thinking for years about dozens of things related to Portal–for the last four years, I’ve been on the longest and most winding road to current generation gaming. I just bought a PS3 for myself for New Year’s and I’ve got half a dozen games thus far. But the very first one on my list was Portal 2–but not because I’d ever finished Portal. My entire fascination with video games may have actually been piqued by Yahtzee Croshaw’s blindingly positive review of it in his review of Valve’s The Orange Box, the Half Life 2: Episode 2 bundle that included Team Fortress 2 and the original Portal. And since that one review, I’ve been deadly curious to play it and learning as much as I could about video games in the meantime. What made games unique, what made games good, what made them appealing. I’ve never been sure of an answer, but I’m getting closer to knowing the answers for me.

So Portal. After that one review, I spent years not listening to “Still Alive”. I spent years not reading anything about the game for fear of spoiling its ending. I’d spent my life under a rock labeled “Keep Me Ignorant of Portal‘s Everything!” and lemme tell you, until about 2009, it worked. I knew that I didn’t have a PC capable of running it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to play it on the laptop. So one night, I buckled down and did the unthinkable: I watched some dude on Google Video play through it in about 50 minutes. (The man had obviously thought with portals before.) And what I saw was one of the funniest things ever written in any medium, let alone just as a video game. And the ending was, as Mr. Croshaw promised, “balls-tighteningly fantastic”. And when Portal was being given away for free to celebrate Steam’s arrival on Mac, I signed up and got it immediately.

I mean, I still couldn’t play it without my laptop getting hot enough to fry an egg on. And maybe that’s me leaving the graphics too high and maybe that’s me leaving the second monitor plugged in, but it gets so hot it shuts down and I still cower like a little baby every time I see a turret laser. Wait, no, babies don’t cower like that–you gotta learn that kind of fear. I doubt I’d get past the flinging section with all the turrets in it anyhow–I hadn’t even seen a missile turret yet. So that’s where I’ve left Portal, but it’s not left my mind since. Ever since that day, I’ve spent all my moments thinking about video games learning everything I could about Valve software’s releases and what made them tick. They did and still do a number of things I like, such as refusing to segregate story and gameplay. If the story cannot be told through play directly, it will be told during play.

New year’s resolutions.

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I feel like I’m Michael Rosen, starting a story with the subject and then moving on to the rest of it. You know, “My dad. My dad was a bricklayer,” and so forth. But this is a subject that probably needs addressing on this blog as I have a couple resolutions of my own this year that I only want to keep for 21 days. Sadly, I’m already pretty lax on two of them. However, there’s a slight catch: I can’t say what they are. I cannot tell you what my new year’s resolutions are, because ever since I was a child, the only way for me to be responsible in any manner was to keep all of my good behaviour a secret.

I don’t know how many other people are this way, but I’m interested in finding out. If I want to motivate myself to do something, I cannot tell anyone I’m doing it, because the moment I make it public, the pressure on myself (from myself) doubles and I immediately quit for fear of disappointing everyone I’ve ever known. It’s not like anyone but me is invested in any of my goals, but I get so afraid of being a disappointment that I shut down and end up doing all of the things that disappoint everybody. Does that ever happen to you?

I’ve been this way nearly all of my life with everything. Or at least, anything I’ve ever kept a track of. The only way I learned to play guitar was when I was alone in my room working on it my way. I can really only keep this blog up for so long before remembering that there are people reading it and counting on me–or perhaps just casually browsing the stuff I put up on occasion. But the thing is, at least one of the things I’ve picked as a resolution for 2012 is something very public and daily. I have to do it every day for three weeks so that at the end of that 21 day period, it’s a habit that’s engrained in my mind. It’s something I have to do or I’ll feel off all day–like spending a day without brushing your teeth in the morning. More than your poor dental hygiene bugging you is the splinter in your mind of not having done something you do every day. Read more…