I’m back! More Octagons!

Jack Black REALLY likes octagons.

The microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, cloud video… they were all created for THIS moment:

Don’t Play No Sad Songs

Can you tell I’m really not into this blogging thing? At least not the past few weeks, I haven’t. Someone who IS into this whole blogging thing, those is Simcha Fisher and she blogs about Sad Songs over at the National Catholic Register.

Anyway, I do have many songs I listen to to get out of bad moods. The two that came to mind first today were “Hovering Sombrero” (or “Hopeless Bleak Dispair” off the same album) by They Might Be Giants and “Down With The Sickness” by Richard Cheese, which I won’t link to because it’s incredibly obscene but never ceases to cheer me up because I’m odd.

Music that I only listened to once and it made me so misterable I wanted to wrap my car around a tree and which I will never listen to again and which I cannot recommend for anyone except out of sheer morbid curiousity: “Baby Doe” by Steve Taylor and “Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere” by Nick Cave. So don’t listen to those. They are complete buzzkills.

App Store Poetry

Yes, I realize it’s somewhat gauche to poke fun at poorly-translated app descriptions in the App Store, but sometimes they are elevated from cringe-inducing anti-marketing to the level of profound poetry, as is the case with the description for WhiteBigRabbit’s World of Aircraft (and from the review, the title is by far the most clever thing about the game, it seems). Anyway, on to the poetry.

First up is a medidation on that release of power, the “awesome big explosion”, one feels when they have utterly destroyed their adversary.

Excerpt from “-THE GRAPHIC-”:

Explosion effect was talked so many time in so many game.
Everyone must be tired of it.
Because no matter what they said,the final effect looks all the same.
But we sure you have noticed the explosion looks so awesome in World Of Aircraft.
That was our new research result.
Just for make you enjoy your fight.
What a good feeling when you killed your enemy and see him exploding in the sky?
We know that feeling when you go through their flying fragments.
An awesome big explosion you must have.

Next is a rather urgent bit of verse expressing the extreme pressures put upon an app, once it has been released into the App Store. Can “World of Aircraft” meet everyone’s wish?

Excerpt from “-MULTIPLAYER-”:

World Of Aircraft would provide an all new experience to air combat game.
But that’s not enough at all!
How could there would be no multiplayer online fight?
Surely World of aircraft would have it and even better!
World Of Aircraft provide many mode for all of you.
Must meet everyone’s wish!

Lastly, a short poem on the loneliness of that mission called life, entitled simply “-THE MISSION-”:

Surely sometime you want play game yourself without others.
World Of Aircraft provide many many single player mission too.
How far can you reach?

It’s clear that WhiteBigRabbit has reached far with this first entrée into the world of App Store poetry and I for one am eager to see what complex themes they cover in their work next.

Happy 30th Birthday, Electronic Arts!

Even though I’ll probably never play another one of their games, unless it’s on the iPad or something, it’s worth noting that EA shipped their first batch of 5 games 30 years ago today.

Back in the day (30 years ago today, in fact) I absolutely loved EA’s games. “Hard Hat Mack” was a favorite, a Donkey-Kong clone which featured a construction worker trying to stay away from the OSHA representative (among other enemies). “Archon” was a bit too ponderous for seven-year-old me, as was “M.U.L.E”, at least at first, but I spent days playing “Realm of Impossibility” which was released the next year. But it was “Ultimate Wizard” with its level construction kit and variety of different spells, enemies, and environmental hazards that really captured my imagination. If they re-released that today, I’d still buy it at full price (even with 1984 dollars). “Marble Madness” was another one I spent a lot of time with, even though it made me want to chuck my controller through the screen of our 1084S monitor.

I also really loved how EA disks came packaged in LP record sleeves with bizarre photographs and illustrations on them. Easy to store and lots of room for pictures on them. Anyway, EA was probably my third-favorite Commodore 64 game publisher back in the day, after Epyx and Cosmi (#2 and #1), but they are subjects for subsequent posts.

This one goes out to the Associated Press and the Tea Partiers

Jonathan Frakes: Actor, Director, Awesome Sit-downer

I am totally making this a part of my meeting-entrance repertoire: walk through the door as Cosmo Kramer, sit down as Will Riker.

Weekly Television Roundup: 29-Apr to 05-May 2013

Sorry I’m late getting this week’s Weekly Television Roundup out. Ha ha. Just kidding. This is the FIRST ONE EVER, so while it may be late, I’m not really sorry as I haven’t really established any sort of expectations around producing these things. Anyway, here are the TV shows I watched in the past week (first-run episodes only, so those four episodes of Batman, The Brave and the Bold on Netflix I watched with the kids don’t count). Beyond here be spoilers, so if you don’t want anything spoiled for you on any given show, just skip over that section.

Defiance – “The Devil In the Dark”: This is the third episode of the show Defiance and it was really kind of puzzling. Parts of it were boring (the peace-hookah ritual and the montage at the end), parts of it were weird (is pouring bacon grease on someone’s chest really a thing now? Please tell me that’s not a thing now), and parts of it showed the inherent risk of basing your TV show on a videogame (or vice versa). The hellbug monster design really screamed “basic videogame grunt enemy” and the hellbug queen design was so over the top that it could really only be a videogame boss monster; neither one of them fit the look and feel of the television show — or any television show for that matter. And besides from a basic plot perspective, if you’re going to terraform a planet, why would you even bring along hellbugs in the first place? And no: “because they are in the videogame” is not an answer. So, yeah: not all that impressive.

Warehouse 13 – “The Living and the Dead”: This was a very good episode, picking up after the long hiatus — so long a hiatus that I thought we were already in a new season, but I guess not! James Marsters’ character here was excellent — his characters really are better when they have an English accent — and was utilized effectively. It was cool to have Kate Mulgrew on an episode with James Marsters, too, as a nice Buffyverse/Star Trek crossover seeing as how much I miss Armin Shimerman being on TV. So things could be looking up for Warehouse 13. We’ll see.

Grimm – “Endangered”: Not on the same level as last week’s volcano god episode (though that kind of didn’t fit in with the series’ established mythology, but this whole show is nothing but one big plot hole) but this was the first episode on its new night, right after “The Voice” or some singing show on NBC so I imagine there were a lot of confused “The Voice” or whatever watchers who stuck around for a few minutes after the end of that show and were like “What the heck am I watching here?” and that thought amuses me a little. I guess Grimm will be back for a third season, though, so yippee.

Arrow – “The Undertaking”: Finally we learn a little more about what the Undertaking is all about (and it has nothing to do with WWE, sorry). This was a pretty good episode for progressing the story as not only did we find out what Oliver’s dad was doing on that boat, why it sank, why Malcolm Merlyn is such a meanie, etc. but Oliver found out most of that, too. Betcha he fills pretty stupid for saving Mr. Merlyn now, huh? There were no island flashbacks in this episode, that I can recall, which I think is a first for the show. Felicity also had a couple funny, Whedonesque lines so all in all it was a pretty good night for Arrow.

Supernatural – “The Great Escapist”: Supernatural is pretty much our favorite currently-airing show, so an episode written by Ben Edlund and directed by Lt. Tom Paris was a double-special treat. And then I saw the “2 episodes left!” promo after this episode and got really sad, but then someone told me that the show has been renewed for a 9th season and I got happy again. This espiode was great, with some really horrible angel-on-human violence, but then with a really good angel-kicking-demon-butt moment. The fact that the angel in question was Booger from Revenge of the Nerds was pretty awesome, too. They did right by that character. Also, there was another nice moment where Sam gains some self-awareness of the trials, confiding in Dean that he believes that the trials are purifying him for what lies ahead. My guess would be that the trials are changing Sam into an angel. I am super excited about the last two episodes of this season, though — especially knowing that more are on the way!

Psych – “Santa Barbarian Candidate”: While not as funny as the earlier episodes in Season 7, this week’s episode was still light-years better than last week’s episode, which barely rose above the level of poorly-written fan-fiction. The mystery in this episode was actually fairly twisty, but the real moment here was Shaun almost telling the Chief about his big secret – and who bailed him out at the last moment. This show, too, has been picked up for another season which is a pleasant surprise considering that this current season has already featured some of the funniest episodes of the show’s entire run: “Santabarbaratown 2”, “Lassie Jerky”, “No Country for Two Old Men”, and “Deez Nups” all being outstanding episodes.

Community and Parks & Recreation: Yes we still watch these shows. Parks & Rec was really lame. Community was slightly better with the whole origin-story wrap-up. Are they really only doing 13 episodes this season? I guess so.

Person of Interest – “Zero Day”: By any objective measure I can think of, PoI is the best hour-long televised serial drama ever. This was a great episode of a great show, then, as all of the seen and unseen forces that have been at play for the last two years all finally start to come out of the woodwork and interact with each other. The ending of this episode was perfect. I can’t wait to see what happens next week on the finale and then next season, too, as this show has also been renewed!

Merlin – “With All My Heart”: If there was any thing I could take, any action I could undergo, to purge Colin Morgan’s lisping old-lady drag-queen performance parody from my mind, I would take or do it, no matter the cost.

Doctor Who – “The Crimson Horror”: So this was the comic-relief episode, then? It worked very well on that level. The backhanded shout-out to (Fourth and Fifth Doctor’s companion) Tegan was very funny but the Tom-Tom GPS joke fell a little flat. If the kid’s name had turned out to be Julius Garmin or something like that, it almost would have worked in a “Your cousin Marvin Berry!” kind of way. Matt Smith’s performance as the Doctor in that red makeup, woodenly walking along was perfect. Oh, and the leech puppet: one of the best-filmed sci-fi puppets ever, in that bit at the end where he’s pathetically crawling along the floor. Next week’s is Neil Gaiman’s episode, I guess, so that’ll probably have even less to do with Doctor Who than this one.

So that’s it for this first-ever Weekly Television Roundup! Considering how long it took to write this one, though, this will probably also be the last Weekly Television Roundup. Sorry about that.

Ranked: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

It’s time for me to force-rank, in order of most-favorite to least-tolerated, the versions of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” of which I’m familiar.

#1 – Gladys Knight and the Pips

This one is still the original and the best. Not much else to say about it except that it’s Gladys Knight and the freakin’ Pips. This one is a butt-wiggler (or Pip-dipper?) for sure.

#2 – Marvin Gaye

I guess this is the version most people are familiar with. It was actually released before Gladys Knight’s version, but was recorded after hers. It’s great, just not as ebullient as Gladys’ version. This live version is pretty funky and should alleviate any IHITTG fatigue you might associate with Marvin’s version. Anyone know who that was talking on the playphone at the beginning?

#3 – The Slits

WHOA! UPSET! I bet you were expecting someone else here, maybe? Certainly not The Slits, I’d wager? Well here they are, making the old new again in 1979.

#4 – Zapp & Roger

Still not who you expected? Well, don’t be shocked: there are lots of great versions of this song and Zapp & Rogers’ full 12″ version is definitely one of the longest. Actually if I hadn’t heard The Slits’ version, this would have been an easy #3, but I guess that’s pretty much the definition of being #4. In all seriousness, I do love this version (as I love all things Zapp & Roger apart from when Zapp shot and killed Roger — that was awful), with it’s horns and talkbox vocals.

#5 – Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR’s version only appears on this list because it’s a version I happen to have heard. I hate CCR and all that they stand for. “I heyy-oyyyd it through the grapevine!” — WTF?!! This is the absolute shortest recording of their version I could find because there’s no way I’m listening to 11 minutes of this crap.

Honorable Mention – The California Raisins

Full disclosure: I performed once in college with The California Raisins so I can’t in good conscience rank their version with the others. If I could, though, I’d darn well put it ahead of CCR’s travesty!!! Ahem. Here it is.

So those are all the versions of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” that I’ve heyy-oyyyd. It looks like Michael McDonald also did a version, but I haven’t heard it and I doubt I need to as it’s most likely superfluous (cf. his career). Have YOU heard any other versions of this song? Let me know in the comments and I’ll work them into the rankings here.

May Day (S.O.S.)

One of about three good songs to come out of the “Electric Spanking of War Babies” sessions. It’s a mayday on May first!