Archive for May, 2010

31
May
10

John Waters, Vogue Crime Reporter

In which: a) the RW370 “NBC Letterman” category gets a bump b) John Waters promotes his second book “Crackpot” in 1986 and c) ruins the week of the Iceberg Lettuce Marketing Association. Love the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg joke – amazing for being a living reference in ’86 but also for crossing the studio audience’s distaste frontier. Remember when people knew stuff?

27
May
10

Eight Guitar Hero Spin-Offs

Word is that the Guitar Hero video game franchise is in trouble. Earlier this year game maker Activision reported disappointing sales of GH and associated title DJ Hero with new planned titles being squelched. Industry analysts agree: these are the signs of a depleted genre.

Why? Because these games don’t have enough realism. Even little kids know by now that Guitar Hero’s gameplay – effectively mashing plastic keys on the neck of a guitar-shaped controller in a vague rhythm – does not approach the rich tapestry of the live rock musician’s undertaking. Some gamers know this instinctively, and those who don’t eventually learn by listening to the sneering dismissals of the game offered by actual rock musicians desperate to crap on somebody. It seems nobody’s happy. Video gamers demand a more satisfying, realistic experience and will stop at nothing to get it (short of turning off their consoles and emerging into the actual world), while  current game offerings are lacking in the grit and tension of the real thing.

What this genre needs is a little design input from a veteran of rock and roll. Today, I am that veteran, ready to exaggerate where necessary to improve the product. Here, then, proposed to the industry’s design community in plenty of time for Christmas, are Eight Guitar Hero Spin-Offs:

Band Hero: The realistic interpersonal band simulation. Navigate the complex creative and emotional agendas of the other people in your band –  and later in the game, that of their spouses. Collaboratively produce songs by subtly subverting each other’s hated contributions. Simultaneously discover and navigate disparate goal alignments with the payoffs measured solely in aesthetics, never income. Balance a straight career with the commitments of a band without compromising either. Game controller is shaped like a bottle of Chivas Regal. Contents: Chivas Regal.

Tour Hero: Perpetrate the affront to human dignity that is touring without suffering any of the health risks. Simulate four unwashed guys in a dilapidated van, a diet of indigestible road food, a steady supply of intoxicants and a single Red Sovine CD that the drummer/driver insists on repeating for hours at a time. Controller is shaped like a bundle of filthy laundry bunched into a pillow shape. Scoring is based on ability to arrive at gigs in time to not get a sound check.

Sound Check Hero: In the game’s early stages, you don’t get a sound check. When you finally do, your goal is to have the stage monitors produce sound of any kind. Next level:  stop the shrieky feedback. Controller: Wii (shaped like a microphone). Scoring based on effectiveness of your vague pantomimes attempting to get the attention of the unseen soundguy. Bonus round: show up to the gig in enough time to get the check but not too early so as to be sitting around waiting.

Load-in Hero: Your goal is to move large, heavy black boxes from one side of town to another in your car. Rewards the obsessive with a Tetris-like puzzle scoring system based on equipment stacking, spiced with the added risk of damage to spine and fingers, because the game controller is shaped like a Marshall 4×12 speaker cabinet and weighs 90 pounds.

Publishing Hero: While watching television, you discover your recordings have been used on TV commercials, shows and films with large audiences, yet you have not been told nor paid. Gameplay involves an odyssey of repeated attempts to have phone calls or emails returned from TV producers, networks or music publishers. Game controller is shaped like an empty mailbox.

Rehearsal Space Hero: You are stuck in a 10×10′ rehearsal space with laughably thin walls. Next door on one side is a Blues Lawyer / Blues Dentist band, and on the other, a Local Metal Band. Schedule conflicts ensure one or the other or both are rehearsing at the same time as your band, making it difficult to work. Game controller is shaped like a standard Guitar Hero guitar, which you use to play the neighboring band’s riffs back at them at dominating volume until you eventually force an ugly physical confrontation.

Guitar Store Hero: A simulated trip to a guitar chain store, where every minute spent serves to embarrass you further into rethinking your involvement with music. Scoring based on suppressing your impulse to choke the shit out of the guy over there who won’t stop loudly mangling the riff from “Enter Sandman” on a pointy guitar. Game controller shaped like a $50.00 guitar stand, manufactured in Malaysia out of seven cents worth of bimetal.

Mashup Hero: Your goal is to load looped segments of any two incongruous yet recognizable popular songs into Audiomulch, tweak the program BPM to 300+ and play the segments against each other until they overlap in locked tempo, producing “work”. Controller is (and is shaped like) a Windows PC running Audiomulch. Scoring is based upon real-life attention received for your efforts. Requires: Audiomulch license, shamelessness.

07
May
10

Bill Murray, Poetry Foreman

In which Bill Murray regales the construction crew of NYC’s Poets House with verse from Emily Dickinson, Lorine Nidecker and Billy Collins, the last two works carrying themes of work and construction. Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Link swiped from biblioklept.org

06
May
10

DEVO’s Gerald V. Casale on Kent State Massacre’s 40th Anniversary

Eyewitness recounting of the Kent State shootings from DEVO’s co-founder. Witness the birth of DEVO – the sound of things falling apart – on a campus hilltop in Ohio.

http://www.ustream.tv/flash/video/6676985

(RW370 video embed not working)

03
May
10

Amplifying Weakness, Or The Wrong Way To Handle A Guy On A Stepladder

Dear United Kingdom,

Pluralism. It’s good. It helps. It’s better to preserve it, and maybe even export it by means of good example.

Now can you please stop crapping all over it?

How sincerely should the world take western notions of pluralism when the UK sees fit to jail someone on the basis of expressing their childish beliefs?

Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships.

The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Wokington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God.

Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.

Surely, United Kingdom, you’ve heard this criticism before.  I can’t be the first.   Yet, it bears repeating:

When, in the west, someone climbs a stepladder on a streetcorner to advocate bigotry on behalf of their preferred sky-illusion, they do so not because their team is winning.  They do so because their shit is weak, as the kids say.

The dead giveaway there is the stepladder. See, typically, your more formidable foes of society adopt techniques, strategies and tactics that do not utterly rely upon modest elevation to work.

So that’s Mr. McAlpine’s problem.  What’s yours, UK?

Sadly, something very similar.

What’s behind Climby McImpotent’s show of weakness is exactly the same thing that lurks behind your arresting a mental toddler for the crime of speech.  When your state does this, it is not because your state is strong and correct.  Quite the opposite; it is done because something in your character as reflected by the state is weak and nervous.

Scared of a dumb guy on a stepladder.  A dumb guy on a stepladder who thinks a clerk in the sky needs him to carry news of His displeasure.

From three feet off the ground.

Grow up, both of you.




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1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende
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