27Jul2011 1810: Ashes and Ghosts
The bonfire excursion last weekend went smashingly, a mighty blaze bookended by trap/skeet shooting and four pounds of bacon. I say trap/skeet having just looked up the difference between them: in trap, the clay pigeons fly straight away from the shooter; in skeet, they fly at a 45-degree angle away. Since we were relying on a human to fling the pigeons with a handheld flingamabob, it ended up as a sometimes-trap-sometimes-skeet hybrid. I shot two!
Holy crap, is Night Ranger still around? They must be; [Night Ranger - Growin' Up In California] is apparently a brand new song. It sounds exactly like 80s rock, when bands were more concerned with being SoCal Awesome than Seattle Sad. Is it the middle of summer? Can I sit on the patio? Then it is the perfect time for this song.
[Shonen Knife - Rock N Roll High School] is a known quantity, an ancient (in musical terms) Japanese all-female punk band. Here they're covering a Ramones song, so I think you know exactly what you're going to get.
[Miguel Migs - Everybody feat. Evelyn "Champagne" King] not only features the dreaded "features" addendum, but said featured artist felt the need to include a nickname in quotes. That's already a large hurdle to overcome. The song itself is a laid-back kind of lounge-electronica. You can't rave to it or film a fight scene over it; this is funky techno for chilling in a convertible and cruising down Main Street.
21Jul2011 0830: The Lateness of My Reply
Blogging totally slipped my mind yesterday, between being a responsible homeowner and being mesmerized by the insanity of Papillon. It's a prison- break movie based on a true story in the way that all those "haunting" movies are based on a true story. It's 70s-era madness, basically; it's the kind of overlong three-movies-in-one that I associate with that era. It starts with a little Cool Hand Luke, segues into Shawshank Redemption, and then goes totally off the rails into Apocalypso and Castaway territory. It doesn't ask any big questions about life, but it leaves me asking how it got on my Netflix queue.
My return to Magic last Friday went swimmingly. I finally lived the dream of buying a whole box of cards at once, and from those cards I built a deck that made 3rd place out of 12...finally losing by one point of life in the semifinals. More than I could have hoped for, really.
[Ziggy Marley - Forward to Love], off the album "Wild and Free", with an album cover done up in Rasta colors, is surprise surprise a reggae song. It's a fairly fast reggae song, edging towards the sound that gave birth to ska lo those many years ago. But still: reggae can get the hell off my playlist.
From the band name and song title, I was hoping that [The Ladybug Transistor - Clutching Stems] was a concept band about being a ladybug. But no, they're just an indie pop band: the downbeat vocals, drum machine, and violin backing all evoke Camera Obscura with a dude up front.
[Eleanor Friedberger - My Mistakes] is some sort of weird hybrid, the phrasing and melody of a 60s girl-pop doo-wop with the fuzz guitar of a 90s shoegaze. And then hell yeah, a saxophone solo comes in to wrap up the song. I'm not sure what to make of this sound, but I'll let it stick around.
13Jul2011 1330: Post-Apocalyptic Ennui
The first-annual summer family reunion (attractively named "Platinum Bieberfest") was a smashing success. We hung around outside, we played video games, I contributed bison burgers, and for one brief shining moment I even got to play some Magic. Even our mothers didn't want to celebrate Justin Bieber's body of work a second time, so next year's theme -- voted upon by all of us, mind -- is 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. Fajitas and Roland Emmerich and other culturally inappropriate items, ahoy!
The video game that got played was EDF: Insect Armageddon, which...didn't go well? It went poorly. Split-screen co-op in EDF 2017 was a riot, a brain-dead time-waster that reveled in everything terrible about the game. EDF:IA is also a brain-dead time-waster, but the scope is all wrong. 2017 took us to downtown Neo Tokyo, out into the softly rolling countryside, underground into ant colonies, and in one memorable mission to the oceanside at sunset as giant robots waded ashore. EDF:IA brings us to New Detroit and New Detroit. EDF 2017 had a fifty-story walking robot that was so large it didn't even notice you shooting it; that wasn't even the final boss, which was even larger. EDF:IA has the usual ten-story giant robots and...nothing? I'm still four levels from the end; it's possible the game has a huge ace up its sleeve.
And about those levels? 2017 had like 70 levels that took anywhere from five minutes (shooting ants on a street) to thirty minutes (lost in an anthill) to finish, at five difficulty levels. EDF:IA has fifteen at three difficulty levels. Those fifteen missions feel like three or four 2017 levels stitched together as you hoof it from objective to objective across a map. The problem is that this makes each level take from twenty to forty minutes, which turns out to be too much. Coupled with the lack of variety in the city, everything I played blurred into a mass of city brownstones and culverts.
Layered on top of this overwhelming sense of underwhelm-ment, the split-screen co-op is not quite right in the head. In single-player you choose from your vast armory on the left side of the screen, while the stats and full biography of each weapon are displayed on the right. That's right, each gun has its own unique profile, purely for added flavor. But in co-op? Each player takes half of the screen, and you only ever see the list of weapons. You lose the silly profiles, but you also lose the stats. This is unconscionable; in a game where uzis can be differentiated by whether they have 50-bullet clips or whether they fire homing bullets -- yes, goddamn homing bullets -- you are absolutely in need of the nitty-gritty details of each weapon. The fact that both of us were choosing blind killed our ability to plan any sort of strategy. Did we both choose weapons that take 12 seconds to reload? TOO BAD.
There are probably free songs out this week, but fuck that shit.
with Dragons is out, so get your ass to
Mars a bookstore. If
you want music to play in the background while you read, grab
Sub Pop sampler album. BOOM reviews over, time to read.
06Jul2011 1700: Impending Apocalypse
The weekend of July 4th was spent on my couch, hiding from
the sun and then from the rain. But I was not idle, no! I was saving not-New-York
from...something? in inFamous.
The ultimate foe (spoilers!) turns out much like Watchmen (spoilers!), in that
the evil master plan
Then Armageddon arrived and I was saving New Detroit from a morass of giant ants. Thanks to Gamestop, Armageddon actually arrived two days early. I don't expect too much hero's journey here, either: the "characters" are literally called "Captain", "Kid", and "Oldman". What I do expect is firing millions of bullets at thousands of ants, and that is exactly what I got. I played maybe two hours total, just to unlock all the armor types, but I'm saving the meat of the game for family co-op this weekend. Split-screen Earth Defense Force is a grand old time.
Because I have a family thing this weekend, there will not be a 52 Yo Mama thing this weekend. Not that anybody actually reads 52 Yo Mama.
[Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear] is a name I know, but only from Lebanese Blonde. The beat and rhyme scheme here is very pleasing, but it's all rhyming about anti-Homeland Security that I get quite enough of in my Internet browsing. Apparently being political is part of their trademark, but I like to keep that shit out of my songs. You hear me, Capitol Steps? You're on notice.
The best thing about [Federico Aubele - Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue (Guillotine Cuts Remix)] is the title. Neither of the referenced songs show up; Federico wastes 3.5 minutes of our time with a slightly zydeco, slightly Spanish plodder. It's not even a danceable remix. It's the kind of experimental loop that would show up on a single's B-side. Man, remember B-sides? Remember singles?
[Jill Scott - Hear My Call] is Christian free-orchestral. "Free jazz" is what you call jazz with no discernible rhythm or melody, right? Yeah. Free orchestral.