the silent disco

January 18, 2008

good evening, readers. i know that my latest absense from the old blogosphere has been pretty lengthy. without making excuses (would i ever do that?) you can attribute this break to my desktop computer and the desk that it sits upon – an awkward height for any boy to deal with. it was giving me headaches and back pain aplenty, so i did what any normal person would do in my situation – bought a new laptop computer!

oh, those koreans! long story short, it wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it. i feel up-to-date again, although this latest macbook air is just plain silly. and all things considered, vista has been running exceptionally well (at least since i installed the service pack release candidate). anyways, this entry isn’t all fun and games.

clinton-grybas1.jpg

i just wanted to say a few words about clinton grybas. now, those of you who know me well know that i have two passions in this world: getting fired up watching afl football, and talking shit about the state of journalism and the media. well, clinton grybas was easily the best afl commentator in the country and – for the first time in a long time – i found myself getting actually emotional hearing all the news reports about the death of a well-known person. he was charismatic, honest, enthusiastic, natural, funny and clearly passionate. it was so refreshing to hear a good young talent calling the football (triple m doesn’t count; i can never tell the difference beteween huddo, damo, richo, stevo, jonno and boof). his on- and off-field interviews were fantastic and quite simply he made most other football callers sound like amateurs. i was a massive fan of this guy and i’m really, really sorry that he’s gone.

anyways. i’ve been making a concerted effort to actually play some of the video games that have been gathering dust on my shelf. notably: call of cthulhu and grid wars.

if we’re talking about geometry wars clones (and you know we are), grid wars is the best you can get. make no mistake: these old-school arcade games are monstrously hard and take years to master. i haven’t been challenged like this by a video game in a long time. there’s a really great review of it here, and i also have to give them credit for the screenshots. true story: microsoft wouldn’t let the developer host grid wars on his site anymore because it was “too good” a clone of geometry wars. i’d say it’s better, actually. you can download it, and other geometry wars clones for the pc, here.

next up is call of cthulhu. having been a casual lovecraft fan for a while, i was really keen to check out this game, not just because of its story but also its design. i can honestly say this is one of the scariest games i have ever played. it’s set in 1922 new england, and the washed-out, grainy graphics really suit.

the whole atmosphere of the game is decidedly morbid, and you will not at any stage feel comfortable while playing it. it’s not all hairy – in fact, you don’t even pick up a weapon to defend yourself until halfway through the game. there is no on-screen health meter, and your sanity will waver whenever you see something gruesome, causing your vision to distort and blur. whether you’re a lovecraft fan or not, this is a great old-school adventure game that’s thick on the story and foreboding setting.

i’m also really looking forwards to spore. i swear this game will be revolutionary. like simcity (and, to a lesser extent, games like civilisation) before it, this is a game that takes reality and makes it playable. well, not literally of course. but it reflects everything we think we know about technology and the world around us. in this case, they have taken on the biological and philosophical implications of evolution itself and transposed them into cute pixelated characters. for those of you that don’t know, players design their own creatures and watch them pass through various stages of evolution, culminating in space exploration.

the creature editor

the entire game universe will be created by the players. that means that every landscape, every character and every character interaction is ‘determined’ by player action (or inaction): a simulated reflection of the cause-and-effect nature of evolution itself. this one will surely be dissected into a billion pieces in any given melbourne university cultural studies subject over the next few years, and with good reason. you can choose to research another planet’s lifeforms, or annihilate them. or you can pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to simulate a greenhouse effect. or you can just play around making adorable little creatures.

anyways. i’m in the throes of applying to go overseas. yes, i realise i don’t need anybody’s explicit permission to do this, but since i’m looking for a job in japan, i kinda do. with any luck this will be happening within the next couple of months. that also means that this blog will be getting a lot more attention as it will be one of the only lifelines connecting me to the real world. i might even decide to take a photo or two. i’ve also been writing a lot more music than most of you are accustomed to lately, and have been getting started on numerous short stories and even some script ideas. so don’t touch that dial!

this whole idea stems from my desire to sample as many new things as possible, with a minimum of preconceived prejudice. i know this has probably prevented me from experiencing certain things in the past but i sincerely believe i’m more open-minded these days (within reason, of course), even if i barely remember expressing opinions on anything. for example, who would have ever thought that the amy winehouse album would make it on to my ‘best of 2007’ list? swimming around my head at the moment are aspirations of moving out of home and a career change, to name only the two most pertinent. so, you know, hit me up if you wanna try some peyote or something.

the american election is happening again. i know this entry is already way long so i won’t dwell on it for too long (as much as i would like to), but i will just say this: barack obama is the most sensible, level-headed, likeable and genuine american politian i can remember having ever listened to. it would be an absolute tragedy for democracy and common-sense everywhere were he not to a) win the democratic nomination and b) subsequently win the election. not that i can see the republicans getting up (no pun intended), but i fear that your run-of-the-mill yank is more ready for a female president than a black one, given the choice. ironically, it’s amazing how many americans don’t feel obligated to vote in their own country’s election, and then get up on their high horse about how great their nation is, not to mention wars in other countries that they have no business commenting on (or fighting in).

but perhaps the thing that bothers me the most is the ‘family tree’ of american politics that we’re looking at, should hillary clinton win:

bush (R)-> clinton (D) -> bush (R) -> clinton (D).

courtesy of wikipedia.

surely we can think a little more laterally than that, people. or can we? increasingly, the american (and british, and even australian) governments have been operating on an economy of fear. the ability of regular citizens to think – and indeed, vote – for themselves is carefully controlled by press agents, spokespeople, speech writers, major news networks, and so on. it doesn’t take a noam chomsky to realise how biased all mainstream news outlets are, one way or the other. we’re talking about an irrational, generalised fear: not of any one person, or a single ‘doomsday’ event, but of an imagined, fictionalised, mythologised entity that threatens the (again imagined) ideals of western society. like ‘terrorism.’ or ‘the enemy.’ or ‘those who hate democracy.’ there is enough uncertainty, enough ambiguity, in western cultures as to foster a loss of identity and fear of the unknown (most notoriously, changes in economy and government), which essentially results in people being told how and what to think, and having them buy into it. it’s the only constant we can rely on.

i know this sounds like sensationalist propaganda (no better than the rhetoric that i’m apparently criticising), but the difference is that what i’m saying is true. even letterman is getting in on the joke. funny, yes, but also kinda scary.

seen some good movies lately, notably hotel chevalier and the darjeeling limited. darjeeling was more or less what i expected, but the real surprise for me was hotel chevalier; so simple, but so funny, and so sexy. who knew natalie portman would look great naked?

also got to meet jason schwartzman.

jason-schwartzman.jpg

this was spectactularly awesome, and i wanted to talk to him about how great melbourne is and how ‘west coast’ reminds me of all sorts of sunny polaroid photographs of america and how i could more or less quote every line from ‘rushmore’ and boy oh boy how jealous i am of his career. but alas, there was no time, and i’ll just have to settle for this awesome photograph. super nice guy, it must be said.

i’ve also renewed my interest in anime. i’m about one third of the way through monster, which is an achievement in itself. talk about a mindfuck; this show runs the full gamut of emotions, exploring all kinks of human relationships and motivations. it’s definitely more rewarding the more you invest in it, and unlike most anime, is not flashy at all. there are no special effects (or giant fighting robots), no pretty lighting effects, etc. what it is is a bleak and realistic psychological drama. and, having first-hand experience to draw from, the rendering of germany is spot on.

not that flashy anime is a bad thing.

plug plug.

yes, it’s australia day weekend next week. i always look forwards to it; the weather’s always nice and invariably somebody hosts a wild party. this one threatens to be the biggest yet. what could be more australian? somebody (i won’t name names) once told me that “patriotism isn’t cool, dude.” up the punx! i am proud to be an aussie, even though i’m keen to jetset. and hell, i’ve even gone this whole distance without mentioning that as of november last year, australia is fiercely and proudly left-wing again! fantastic. for the first time in my living memory, we have an eloquent, intelligent and genuine politician leading our country – not to mention one who won’t be cashing in his super-annuation for a few years yet. so, let’s everyone get on it next weekend!

click on through to see my best and worst of 2007!

now, i borrowed the format of this editorial from a livejournal post from a few years back that i was rather proud of. i have decided to forego numerical lists as i don’t like playing favourites; i hate most things equally. on with the show! please leave aggresive comments.

before you all get ants in your pants, this stuff may not have come out in 2007 specifically, but i can’t help it if i’ve taken way too long to get into all these clutch indie bands.

favourite albums

the weakerthans – reconstruction site
tellison – contact! contact!
amy winehouse – back to black
the shins – wincing the night away
maxïmo park – our earthly pleasures
blueline medic – 42:19
guster – ganging up on the sun
common – finding forever
mark ronson – version
the hold steady – boys and girls in america
coconut records – nighttiming
miles davis – miles ahead
the black keys – magic potion
the creation – we are paintermen
yellowcard – paper walls
silversun pickups – carnavas
lifetime – s/t
over it – step outside yourself
built to spill – everything.

bands that should have quit in 2007:

brand new
panic! at the disco
thrice (made this same list two years ago)
muse
ok go
the white stripes
death cab for cutie
lilly allen
snow patrol
the fray
bloc party
enter shikari
maroon 5
bad religion

bands that shouldn’t have quit in 2007:

park

best new bands/new to me:

tellison
the kooks
silversun pickups
oh mercy
paramore

biggest disappointments:

saves the day – under the boards
ted leo – living with the living
m.i.a. – kala
fall out boy – infinity on high
maroon 5 – it won’t be soon before long
kanye west – graduation

best gigs:

parkway drive@ the camberwell civic centre
blueline medic @ next
oh mercy @ manchester lane/the espy
built to spill @ the corner hotel

biggest surprises:

amy winehouse not being just another an overblown middle-of-the-road trashy celebrity
people actually thinking that operator please deserve anything other than three weeks’ detention
guy sebastian still selling records
mainstream media going apeshit over justice and daft punk, along with other stuff like the arcade fire
kanye west getting all takashi murakami on his latest album
gretel killeen steps down from/is blackmailed into quitting big brother
tellison stay unsigned for as long as they did
britney spears not yet dead or committed

best movies:

no country for old men
pan’s labyrinth
the host
paris je t’aime
control
paprika
ratatouille
the signal
perfume

worst movies:

300
grindhouse (death proof in particular)
spiderman 3
day watch

best television shows:

extras
the office
the colbert report
the daily show

worst television shows:

quite literally, everything else. here’s a kinda-random sample:
lost
desperate housewives
prison break
24
the biggest loser
big brother
border security
bondi rescue
inferno 999
celebrity dog squad
deadly surf
i wish i could remember some more of those names.

best books read in 2007:

lolita
white noise
crime and punishment
on the road
norwegian wood
labyrinths

most anticipated/fingers crossed/predictions for 2008:

new smoking popes album!
new hot water music album!
soundwave will be pretty good.
so, how about my blueberry nights?
let’s see ticket prices for international bands go down a bit.
an album from oh mercy.

well, i think you’ll agree, this has gone on long enough. expect to see more posts around these parts in 2008.

so long!

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2 Responses to “the silent disco”

  1. ricep0d said

    well well well.

    i hate you for meeting jase and not getting him to sign your boob.

    and you can’t put grindhouse up there becuase you haven’t seen planet terror yet. and AS IF YOU HATED IT!! i mean half of it was bril. and i swear you liked 300 when you first saw it. such a liar.

    i’m doing a major movie day tomorrow. 10am Into the Wild (it’s finishing next week and it now only has 10am screenings at work) and noon showing of I’m Not There which is getting less and less session times each time i check. hells yeah.

    my girlcrush on nat is growing daily. as if you didn’t think her naked ass would be sweet as.

    ooo the naked holly valance ep of entourage is on right now. not paying any attention to what i’m writing right now.

  2. ez said

    you forgot heroes
    srsly, worst thing on the box

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