Friday, October 24, 2008


Wii Music is a bad video game.

Wii Music is better than video games. When I had originally started this blog, I decided that I would not write to any great detail about a video game that I'd been playing without an ironic tone. Today, you might think, I'm going to break that rule. However, I won't. I can't. Video games aren't cool.

Wii Music is cool. It's the latest in a series of Nintendo Wii games catered towards people who just like to wave a stick around and instantly see fun and cute results on their television sets. Their standard definition television sets, like mine. It's kind of a rhythm game, and it's kinda not - it's mostly a toy, a piece of software for a video game system that isn't a video game itself, but something more reliable and understandable than your average Mario or Zelda. Oh no, Wii Music isn't a rhythm game like Guitar Hero, but rather an interactive visual with no goal or boundaries or competition. It is the definitive non-game. Not something you can be better at or worse at, not something that will discourage any new player from attempting, not something that can easily hook the Generation Y gamer plodding away on Xbox Live, garnering a higher gamerscore and a better kill/death ratio on Call of Duty 4. It's not something that will impress you, or bore you.

It's a thing where you wave your remote and press buttons to make music. It's a way to play air guitar or drum your fingers on a desk or pretend to sing into a microphone in front of a mirror, alone, except now you're seeing physical representations of these things happening on screen and in front of you, and you can do it with other people.

It's a thing that allows you play along to a Latin arrangement of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" or a jazz arrangement of "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go". And then you can select which part of the song you want to play: the percussion, the harmony, the melody, etc. And you can swap instruments out for other ones. You can switch between basses, or you can use a piano or a trumpet as bass if you want. You can replace the drumkits with turntables and taiko drums.

And then, you can save your performances and play on top of them. Then you can save your performances to videos and mail them to your friends. And they can mail you their performances, and you can play alongside their take on the harmony or backing chords.

When I play alone, it's fun to relax and mess around in the improv section. And then sometimes I'll play a song or two and make a video, and turn it off. That's how video games should be. I played it with my sister, and it was nice to have a game that wasn't competitive, where there was no goal, and the individual arrangements and experiences came together to form a whole piece - even if it wasn't a masterpiece of music, it was still fun to fool around with the arrangements and improvise our own parts.

These days, video game developers talk about "experience" - the experience of playing Halo 3, the experience of killing a hooker. Wii Music is about the rawest form of entertainment, still proving that there's room for it on the shelf at GameStop. It's the anti-Guitar Hero. Better and worse than Guitar Hero.

Anyway, that's all the time I have for today! But Perdido Street Station is still rockin', this week I recommend Max Headroom, the new Squarepusher sounds like it might be good, Legend of Kage 2 is a good DS game, there's a nice place downtown that sells good veggie dogs, Hornado and Ragnarok killed at UCB last Tuesday, and I hate people with lots of pennies and fake social security cards. I leave you with Let's Tap!: not the past tapping game, not the present tapping game, but the future tapping game!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Jeet Christ he ripped it up last night.

Alright, fine. I do have a few complaints. I was a bit disappointed in his 80 minute set (although this is standard, it was just an expensive show). Some of the songs were sped up and a few were neutered. The crowd itself was mostly dead; they didn't seem to know much pre-Guero save for the mega-hits like "Where It's At" and "Loser", so when Beck tore out "Minus" in the beginning of his set many seemed confused. The venue (United Palace Theater, which doubles as a church, which has a sign out in front of it that says "Come on in or smile as you walk by") was assigned seating, which became assigned standing when Beck came on.

Now here are the good things about the show:
  • Beck is cool as hell.
  • Huge setlist.
  • Tight band with tons of energy even though the drummer was clearly taking cues from the keyboardist.
  • Awesome stage lights - the screen behind him lit up with patterns and at first you think they're just for simple shapes and whatever, but then full images start taking shape and moving behind the band.
  • Beck is fuckin' cool.
  • The sound was great save for some odd screw ups with "Hell Yes".
  • The new song they played during the encore was so damn hardcore.
  • They played "Walls", which is rare.
  • The cute black-haired guitarist was shredding it up like what.
  • Beck is one cool mother fucker.
He is a very mellow person in general, but was clearly tired, which is to be expected. This is a three-night show, but it was originally only one night (the night I went to). My friend managed to get the tickets the moment they went on sale so we were rockin' the orchestra seating (fantastic seats, too).

MGMT opened, and while they were much tighter than the last time I watched them live, the second half of their set was pretty boring. They used up all of their ammunition in the first half (playing "Electric Feel" and "Time to Pretend" back-to-back) and the second half kinda dragged on. The show would have felt complete even if they weren't there.

I'll post a few of my pictures, but my camera absolutely sucks for concerts.

Better pictures, full setlist, and a video of his performance on Letterman is here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


It wasn't as good as the book.

Fortunately, I don't really care. It was good enough on its own, I suppose. Not necessarily as bad as critics panned it out to be. But I tend to like movies that are unabashedly terrible. Which is why I only had lukewarm feelings towards most of the film. Blindness seemed to delude itself into thinking it was more artsy than it actually was, scenes and images were made out to be more powerful than they should have and mostly undershot their goals, I felt. But I told my mom I was going to see it anyway, and she said it'll probably be good because it got bad reviews. She knows the score.

The film took a number of liberties from the book, which is to be expected. They both had similar key moments, including the first and last scenes, albeit slightly altered.

I enjoyed it. I think my only issue was how the characters were made to be personable in the film, whereas they are disconnected and afraid in the book and, I believe, allowed the reader to be more empathetic with them rather than sympathetic.

This post isn't about Blindness, however. It is about The Uhn. What is The Uhn? I'll tell you.

It's a webseries written and produced by a few friends of mine, which means I can't say bad things about it. To their faces. The editor finished putting the first few episodes together and it debuted two Wednesdays ago. As far as I can tell, it's a show about a bunch of soap opera writers who make out with each other. I forgot to mention, I co-star in it.

I play the snarky head writer of a rival television show. When I was asked to play this role, I was duly informed that I was their absolute last choice. After reading the script, I figure out why. Not why I was the last choice, but why no one else would do it. Hoyooohhh.

But don't watch it, or anything. There are three episodes up and I have small roles in episodes one and three. They are uhn-fortunate. They make me cringe. I am a bad actor.

I seem to be the only person involved who isn't plugging it on their Facebook profiles, and that was probably expected by the creators as I acted pretty pissy and miserable throughout the entire shoot. I seem to remember being angry in the two or three days I was there, although I can't remember what for.

Please watch this instead because it's hilarious.

ANYWAY, here's the new full clip for Frankmusik's "3 Little Words". It's a nicer mix of the song, although there is a terrible bridge towards the end that wasn't in the rough cut, and that makes me sad. The video itself is kind of nice. I can't seem to find this album anywhere so I can illegally download it obtain the mp3s through kosher channels. There's a little Yom Kippur shout-out to my yeshivot brethren.

He has a weird face but seems to be incredibly versatile. The Michael Phelps of pop music. I mean, musik.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The movie is never better than the book.

The Blindness movie adaptation is seeing a widespread release beginning today. Or perhaps it isn't seeing anything! HaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAA. The film was directed by Fernando Meirelles, a Brazilian director who is perhaps more famous in his native country than he is here, because I've never heard of him before now. Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore star as the Doctor and the Doctor's wife, the latter of which turns out to be the only person in the story who can see after a blindness epidemic spreads throughout a city. The first to go blind are quarantined off in an abandoned mental hospital and forced to fend for themselves, resulting in panic, unease and disease thanks to those affected being unable to properly take care of themselves, not being accustomed to their new sightlessness.

The original novel was written by José Saramago, and is one of my favorite books ever. Its prose is beautiful and sometimes disorienting - no speech is quoted, and sometimes it's unclear as to who is speaking and to whom. Characters are nameless and introduced at regular intervals until there is an overwhelming amount of patients to keep track of, and it's filled with more twists than a Twizzler, and I wish I had a better analogy than that, but whatever. It's filled with more twists than a ... 50's Rock 'N Roll dance party??? I don't know. Leave your better analogies in the comments.

Holding the book to such high standards, I am weary of the film. I won't settle for anything less than slightly above mediocre. It's times like these when I begin to wonder if there were any movies that most generally agree are better than the book. Apparently Blade Runner is better than Philip K. Dick's Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep, the book on which the film is loosely based, although I've never read it. 2001 A Space Odyssey is apparently better than the book, although it was written after the movie.

The book I'm reading through now is called Perdido Street Station, written by China Miéville. It is considered to be one of the greatest science fiction books of the past 25 years, and I've been meaning to read it for some time now. While I find everything about it to be fascinating, I'm making my way through it at a fairly slow pace, just tonight breaching the 1/3 point after three weeks of reading (to be fair, it is over 600 pages long). It's about a man who is discovering all new types of fun scientific thingies and expanding rapidly on his life's work by helping out a trouble half-man half-bird thingy. It also follows the escapades of the man's secretive girlfriend, a highly artistic and muted insect with human-like features who is commissioned by a powerful druglord to create a life-sized sculpture of himself. The world they exist in is seedy, grimy and, dare I say, post-apocalyptic, which is the best kind of apocalyptic. The novel itself draws a lot from different sub-genres of science fiction such as cyberpunk, which is the best kind of -punk.

On an unrelated note, here's a pop song I discovered tonight called "3 Little Words" by FrankMusik. Apparently, a rearranged version of this song is going to appear on his major record label debut, which I can't seem to find much information on. He has a MySpace with a fun Radiohead remix on it, if there ever were a greater oxymoron than that.

Also in the vain of pop music I shouldn't be listening to is Girls Aloud's "Can't Speak French" single, which has been on repeat pretty much all day. YouTube embedding has been disabled by their soulless corporate parents, who probably control 90% of all pop acts coming out of the UK. Talk about cyberpunk. The video itself is absolutely horrible, and earlier today the Greatest Thing Since Cyberpunk correctly described them as a sluttier version of the Pussycat Dolls, which is an astonishing feat.

Also on my playlist is Sergio Mendes's first collaboration with Brazil 66, which includes the superior and non-shittified "Mas Que Nada", later totally destroyed by and the rest of his crew of terminating producers. And, to further my bossa mood, I discovered sheet music for Chick Corea's "Spain" on my sister's piano, which made me happy. Here's an incredible performance of it with Hiromi Uehara to cap this post off with: