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08Apr2015 1900: Ex Machina

Chez Monty is currently in the grip of Talos Fever. I'm seeing lasers and cubes in my dreams. I'm agonizing over unreachable but totally reachable bonus items. This is a game that is taxing my graphics card to its limit while squeezing my brain between its unyielding robotic fingers. In structure it resembles the old great Braid, distinct levels with a clear goal (get the Tetris piece), an unclear goal (what are these extra bits for?), and a we-hate-you-and-you-are-dumb goal (hidden stars?!). In Talos' case the puzzle prizes are Tetris pieces that are then used to fill in grids to unlock more puzzles. They're color-coded green, yellow, and red based on the difficulty. The hidden stars are used to unlock special Star Road puzzles that contain more Tetris pieces, this time in god-help-you grey. That in turn will unlock...something. I feel sure of it.

Talos also resembles Braid in the constant philosophizing in and around the levels. Braid was concerned with loss and regret and nostalgia and obsession, but in a very vague abstracted manner. The Talos Principle is concerned about AI, the nature of AI, what AI smells like, and AI do you think I'm pretty yes/no. It's not abstract at all. I'd say I'm halfway through -- the easy half -- and so far it's been nothing but an AI claiming he's God and another AI claiming he's "Milton". This is all working out about how you'd expect. Milton, honestly. If you want to oppose a computer named Elohim successfully you could pick Mithra or El-ahrairah or Ra. "Milton" is just playing right into Elohim's theoretical hands.

Highly recommend The Talos Principle the next time it's on sale. Its politics may be simplistic, but so far it hasn't shown active hatred for the player.

Potvocates have made great strides in the past decade, getting their vice of choice legalized or decriminalized in several states. Now that the struggle for legal weed is going their way, the next step is clearly [Free Weed - Later]. And never let it be said that Free Weed is false advertising. This song is about being a stoned mope and how pretty all-right that is. It's like the Butthole Surfers unplugged and played live at a Seattle coffee shop. For all I know that's what they're doing.

[Blackout - Human] opens with a plodding heavy metal riff, continues with the same plodding heavy metal riff, and wraps up with the plodding heavy metal riff. The first exhortations aren't wailed until over two minutes into this death march. Have I mentioned that it's also almost seven goddamn minutes long? Halfway through they pick up the pace double-time, but psych! They merely borrowed this tempo from the next half of the verse.

Perversely, the heavy metal song was melodic to a fault. [A Place to Bury Strangers - We've Come So Far] is largely a monotone pop-rock song a la The Smiths but opens with an assaultive wall of feedback more properly associated with metal. The difference in volume between the two caused actual physical pain -- my ears were seared moving away from the metal! Step up your game, metal!

I appreciate the very simple synth of [Aero Flynn - Dk/Pi]. This is what the 70s thought the future sounded like, and the 80s adopted it as their present, and now it's rustic and charming. It's also better in comparison to those last two shitshows I waded through. Dk/Pi falls well short of a keeper but it's only blandly unlikeable instead of actively irritating.

01Apr2015 1815: All Completely True

Welcome back to your little haven from Internet shenanigans. The backlash to complete unusability continues apace -- or perhaps I've curated my Internet bubble to perfection! Only a bare minimum of sites insist on posting fake shit and far more are interested in making rad shit.

This is all the more concerning when I tell you that my slide into the camel clutches of professional wrestling reached its nadir Sunday, when I watched Wrestlemania. It's true! They got me again for a brief span of time. The pomp and circumstance of a "Russian" man riding a tank into the stadium while the Russian national anthem plays, or a dude falling ten feet off a ladder into a ladder, isn't nearly as thrilling as it was twenty years ago. But in the moment, for a moment, I still get the gladatorial thrills of fancy staged combat.

Also we've thawed out completely so West Fargo currently smells like a sewer. Not much we can do about that unless we have an annual match-lighting ceremony on Main Street. Damn shame I can't have my windows open in this spring weather.

[Viet Cong - Continental Shelf] is mope rock, the dour kind of stuff from the 80s that was eventually replaced with shoegaze and became less offputting. It's hard to make monotones discordant in more than one way, but the Viet Cong manage.

[Ghostpoet - Off Peak Dreams] is also exactly 3:19 long and for a moment I thought this a Google Fools' Gag. Just coincidence! It open with something in Japanese, brings in some funk piano, and then the guy from Soul Coughing starts rapping. Every bit of that is for me, to the point that I feel condescended to by this song. It's pandering to a person they couldn't possibly have known existed. The jam session at the end doesn't do a lot for me I guess.

SYNTH. FUNK. SYNTH. [Tuxedo - Number One] gives me a chance to talk about the imminent return of Toejam and Earl. Drop out the vocals here and you'd have a perfect jam for that soundtrack. But gag, these vocals! The refrain is built around the tritest of rhymes and the verses are better only because they vary the clichés.

And here I am, in a hell built entirely of 80s synth pop. [Lower Dens - To Die in L.A.] is interminable at four minutes long. The singer can't even stick around for the whole verse; he drops in whenever he thinks of a new word to say but largely leaves the looping synth to fend for itself. Just close your eyes, Monty. Close your eyes and tell yourself that ska is coming around again.