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30Oct2013 1445: Footloose

The inevitable deadline has finally occurred, and my company is out of money to screw around with. Just in time for the holidays! Nah, it'll be fine. Most importantly, we did make a video game. I don't care what you've heard, it's a video game!

And not having to worry about a job is perfect timing for Lobstergiving. Next weekend! A mere ten days away! Sneak preview on this year's family shirts: they are RAD. Mom has done a sort of lobster graffito and they look amazing.

I've got career plans in the works for myself and in the meantime I'm screwing around with a game idea at home. I'm always more comfortable when my failures can be directly and solely attributed to me. If I'm not mistaken, this game idea will certainly be a failure!

[Huerco S. - Ragtime USA (Warning)] uuuggghhhhhhh repetitive electronic music ugh

[KIDD - Murder My Flesh] had the good sense to follow six minutes of beeping fuzzing nothing, so even firing off with a robo-voiced reggae call to action didn't immediately sour me on this song. I was also somewhat relieved that it wasn't death metal; what other genre would sing about murdering his flesh? Rap, of course. KIDD has similar subject matter to our rap option from last week -- "I never stopped and neither should you" -- but falls at the other end of the spectrum. He brings bass and layered vocals with him, but KIDD is relentlessly focussed on the downer aspects of perserverence. It does make Factor sound better in retrospect.

Are we back around to the 90s being in style again? The 80s had a solid couple of months there earlier this year, but Yuck and [Balance and Composure - Tiny Raindrop] sound like pop-rock radio from when everybody was just starting to dilute grunge. The soundtrack of my childhood. Yuck skewed more towards Verve Pipe, Balance and Composure is more Dishwalla.

23Oct2013 1430: Softly Now

I'm stressing out about hosting more webinars tomorrow (no I will not link you) and getting ready to spend some building money on a water softener, so let's just relax with some terrible music, eh?

I just did zero research and determined that the median band size is four; every few singer-songwriters with an acoustic guitar are balanced by a Polyphonic Spree. So what does it mean that [Factor - Don't Give Up (feat. Paranoid Castle and Jean Boots)] features, at minimum, two extra people? That you brought in 50% of a whole other band to join your track? I immediately go into attack mode when I see the "feat." tag on something, as that something is almost always a terrible rap song. "Don't Give Up" is just an average rap song, so yay for them.

[Yuck - Rebirth] wants to be the soundtrack of your prom-memory montages. An avalanche of Goo Goo Dolls spewing forth from a Verve Pipe into an Oasis.

Wait what the shit. I swear I've heard [San Fermin - Sonsick] before. It's probably something -- in fact I'm almost certain it's something one of my cousins linked on Facebook. This is more my speed: lady harmonies that flit between almost-gospel verses and a brassy jazzy kind of chorus.

16Oct2013 1930: Kickoff

This may be the scotch talking, but I don't think I'll ever make grilled cheese with anything other than bacon grease ever again. That stick of butter in my fridge will outlive me. My charcoal grill may be put away for the Season, but that won't stop me from grilling meat and meat byproducts!

The Season I mention is of course the Holiday Season, kicking off in mid-October with the birthdays of the plurality of my siblings, sliding right through Candyween and Lobstergiving into the merriment and excess of Turkeython and Consumermas. I'm pretty sure those are all actual holidays. Travel and snow and gifts, and through it all I have to somehow keep my comic going. That's a lot harder when you don't have a script worked out ahead of time, like I haven't for four months!

If somebody were to make a behind-the-scenes docudrama about the making of VH1's "I Love the 80s" -- and shut up it could happen -- [Sombear - Incredibly Still] would play over the closing credits. It is a nostalgic mixture of synth and croon from a time when women wore neon pink and men also wore neon pink.

From the band name I was expecting some kind of Halloween novelty, but [Joanna Gruesome - Secret Surprise] is a very-nearly-grating very-nearly-mellow pop confection of lovely verses and angry guitars. Like if the Submarines got Jack White to guest on a few tracks because why not, he's been in every other band now.

[Mr Benn - No More Guns] is reggae with a very simple message. Can you guess what it is? It seems well-made for reggae, so I imagine it would find some fans. Somewhere. Somewhere with a gun problem. Round here in 'Murica, we only have gun solutions.

09Oct2013 1030: Nail Biters

It was a weekend of tense, sweaty entertainment around here. Gravity deserves all of the love it has been getting. I kept myself as unspoiled as possible going in and totally did not expect the horror-movie vibe. I expected sweeping hard sci-fi and the triumph of human ingenuity, a solo Apollo 13. What I got was a slasher movie, but instead of Sandra Bullock being stalked by a demon in a hockey mask she is stalked by orbital velocity. Delta-Voorhees. I caught myself clutching the armrests and clenching my jaw, and when was the last time a movie did anything but amuse me? Highest recommendation.

The day afterwards I rolled into board game night with a new acquisition, Escape: Curse of the Temple. It was a big ol' hit, even after we figured out that all five of us absolutely needed to stick together and started winning every time. Even the winning is stressful; after four games I was light-headed and exhausted. But it is the best kind of stress! Yelling and sliding our little mans around and frantically rolling our dice into each other! And now that we figured out the base game we could start mixing in the Curse expansion. It's not enough to run through a random temple within a time limit, apparently we need to lose our voice and play with one hand stuck on top of our head. Etc. It's the best version of press-your-luck ever made. It's not as soul-crushing as Pandemic. Play iiiiiiit. Stay hydrated.

[Dream Koala - Odyssey] continues this month's apparent theme of "abstract soundscape". I never thought I'd miss terrible gangster rap. It starts and ends with drawn-out instrumental sections and in between is an average Bat for Lashes song.

[Lucy Rose - Middle of the Bed] lays down a great acoustic guitar track and then edges meekly into the periphery of her own song. Sure, she's telling off the ex-lover in no uncertain metaphors, but I got the impression that she wanted to bolt out of the recording studio and cower in her room. Nobody startle her!

Punctuation is important, [Clear Soul Forces - Beats Rhymes & Life](sic). There is a discussion to be had about Oxford commas, but there is no debate over the serial comma. Please see me after class. And I was wrong -- I'll take the abstract soundscapes back now, I don't miss terrible rap at all. The beat is weak, the lyrics are meh, and there's a "hidden track" at the end about gold PP7s. I appreciate the reference, but it makes a single flow weirdly and only scrubs need to use the golden guns.

02Oct2013 1215: Little Big Games

Today in Monty's Behind the Curve: I finally finished my backlog of Awake and Eureka. Both series were swept aside in the Guild Wars 2 Mediapocalypse last summer and I've had old episodes sitting on my equivalent of a DVR for over a year. Awake: not bad? It got weird and metaphysical and fantastic right at the end, but otherwise it was just two police procedurals crammed into one hour. He didn't become nearly superhero enough. Eureka actually toned down the weirdness for its finale, with only one wacky experiment going wrong while the writers took potshots at the network shutting them down. I can't say they went out on top; were they ever on top?

I'm between Big Games right now, so it's been super-convenient to have Card Hunter open in a window next to my backlog of episodes. Turn-based squad tactics PLUS a deck of cards? Amazing. Your little RPG team equips loot, and this loot is represented by cards in your deck. Your dwarf warrior may be carrying a dizzying THREE spears, but some turns you end up with a hand full of movement cards. On top of that, there's some delicious meta-story about you playing this game in your friend's basement while his older brother sasses you. The presentation is top-notch, the idea is a killer fusion of two genres I already adore, and I can play it while watching the telly.

If that's too much heavy lifting, consider Cookie Clicker. I've documented my love for the venerable Progress Quest before; Cookie Clicker gives you the barest amount of agency in your Progress. It's an addicting distillation of the loot-clickers like Torchlight and Diablo; clicking grants you access to powers that make you click better, until eventually your clicking becomes redundant and the game wins itself. Is it parody? Is it the purest form of game? My friend has stumbled on to some sort of endgame storyline as well. Even in the depths of its inanity, it finds the time to weave in some silly plot about disgruntled grandmas.

[Stratosphere & Dirk Serries - Unfold The Obscurity] is so indie that it doesn't even have a YouTube video, although I can't imagine making a compelling video over seven minutes of ambient orchestral fuck-aroundery. It'd probably be pictures of the ocean star-wiping to mountain sunsets. Instrumentals are my least favorite genre, and ambient instrumental soundscapes are on the low end of that.

Wow, Google really committed to this "up-and-coming artist" thing this month. [Archie Pelago - Joyce Drop] also isn't on YouTube, although Archie himself has a channel. I...oh christ. It just started playing and appears to be another instrumental. This one has a breakbeat and synth, a funky groove that could be found under any number of Playstation game menus.

I don't even know any more. Three for three today, YouTube must be policing copyright harder than ever before. Or maybe these three bands can't even afford a video camera? [Ha Ha Tonka - Colorful Kids] finally has some words in it. At this point even a mostly generic coffee-shop rock song sounds good to me. Is Modest Mouse too hardcore for you? Try Ha Ha Tonka!