Wednesday, July 19, 2006

That Pipettes Pip The Feeling Feeling

Stop Press: the race for my pop heart is wide open again: just saw this.

And here's the Russ Meyer Valley Of The Dolls clip of which it is the splendid ripoff.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Feeling The Feeling Walk The Talk

I did my best, really I did, but my best clearly isn't good enough, not even hardly, nowhere near. I know I just swore fealty to The Pipettes (who despite all the music critics saying they're very good, really are very, very good), but The Feeling, oh man, The Feeling. It's like being a teenager again. You know those psych experiments where they wired up the pleasure centre of a rat's brain to a switch and the poor rodenty fucker just Morsed the switch constantly? That's me spamming iTunes for the The Feeling single "Fill My Little World". I'm unsure what else I could possibly demand of a pop group other than the immediate eradication of poverty and Sunny Delight. Giddy-making. These are clear signs of accelerated aging, aren't they? Cardigan time yet?

*looks down at own M&S cashmere-clad wrists.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Mamas, and Brand New Bagquisition

OK, obviously, The Pipettes have conquered me utterly and forever, but am equally smitten with the wondrous Onya Bag, which I fear each and every one of my friends and family is about to receive as birthday/Crimble prezzo. Simply splendid, and no doubt the first slither down the slippery slope to outright green-loonery. I shall devote my trouser turn-ups to composting humous. Or at least admit that it's happening, and pretend it's deliberate.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Existential Disclaimers

A lot of the confusion about what games are/could be/should be comes from treating games as their plots or backstory. This turns them into texts, which means the world and his wife can swarm over them with their cool, cruel text-deconstructin' irons. This, in my book, tends to be theory about theory. In his actual and excellent book A Theory Of Fun, Raph Koster pointed out that games just aren't their plots. The brouhaha about killing pedestrians in Carmaggedon was lost on the kids playing it, who realised it was actually Pacman, not a homicidal highway hecatomb - the game was the gameplay, not the backstory.

I posted on Clive Thompson's Collision Detection in response to his article on True Crime: New York City. Oh lord, here I am, quoting myself. Does that qualify me as a sock puppet? Can I attempt astroturfing now?

I have a quibble with how much we can read into such games - not so much what the paying (hopefully) punters will make of them, that's their affair and rationalising every potential player response is like Casaubon's Key To All Mythologies - endless as a scheme for joining the stars. I'm more concerned with how the developers are arriving at these particular gameplay settings and solutions. Developers are asking themselves purely practical questions: What's going to work? Which Existential Disclaimer Narrative is going to let us put the player in gameplay-worthy situations? What current genres can we dresss the gameplay up as?

I don't dispute that games are some sort of barometer for social themes, memes, trends, what have you, but I'm dubious that they directly reflect anything other than developer/publisher pragmatism. Simply put, it's easier for developers to furnish the player with a convincing homicidal monster than a plausible girlfriend.

Quotable Superstars like Molyneux and Miyamoto aside, developers and publishers just have to get the damn things made, on time, on budget. I'd suggest that the dictates of production incline gameplay towards a simplistic worldview. Being risk-averse doesn't necessarily reflect social conservatism. It's just so much easier to submerge the player and (more importantly) the hidden menu system of the gamplay in the simplistic moral world of the lone avenger than one where the protagonist has to negotiate, socialise, weigh motivations, navigate ambiguity or ambivalence. Menus can't stand ambivalence - they require valence, great big discrete binary blobs of it
Not entirely sure what I was trying to corral together here, but I'm sure there'll be more of it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Is this thing on? Oh, it IS on...

Here I am, absently weeing on my shoes in what I assumed was an undisturbable backwater of the Inter Nets, hurling the occasional hoot of praise or blame at my Betters, and I'm shocked to find that they upon occasion hoot back.

Andrew Collins I bothered directly via his fine and was nice enough to answer my query upon my own pallid organ, Lost Garden's DanC shied a cheery horseshoe back at me, and now Steven Poole dropped by and was remarkably generous, considering how rude I'd been about (some of) his work. Twit them, and they will come, I tells ya.

This really is rather an august guest list for what remains a furtive, odiferous and obscure scratch pad. A tip o'the hat to 'em all.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Three Colours Tautology

The recent and continuing heatwave reminded me of the similarly kiln-like climate of a few years back. Oppressed by the immense bigness of Hot, a chum and I had sought shelter and refreshment by the South Bank, and were keenly diminishing a several of frosty beverages, exchanging pleasantries while the starch in our collars wilted like somnolent orchids. Swirling the dregs in his latest tankard for a moment or two, he confessed to me that he had the beginnings and makings and shapings of a feuilleton but was sadly baffled and stymied in his attempts to birth it. He had noted examples of references to Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal in some surprisingly mainstream Pop Culture movies.

Alas, he had itemised but two examples of his theory, failing the necessary and sufficient Rule Of Three. It wasn’t enough to have spotted that chess is also played with Death in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and that an odd song about farm livestock mooing, clucking, lowing and so on is also sung in Freddy Got Fingered (an opus I fear life may precisely 87 minutes too short to see), he didn’t have Three, the Magic Number. Eheu, lacking the vital trifecta, my chum been forced into idleness, mentally crossed his heels on his desk and crumpling his drafts into aerodynamic pupae to shy at the bin.

I commiserated with him and his tantalisation, whiffling aloud that surely there was a similar boondoggle concerning Genres Of Film That Are Also Colours, And Furthermore Original Packaging Colours At That, Smoke On Your Pipe And Stick That In, Paisan. Intrigued and not a little picqued, he bad me explain my rash claim, nodding curtly to a passing servitor to refresh our whets. Characteristically vague, vain and hasty, my trope was that the terms Noir and Giallo are both colours (if in different languages) and movie genres. What’s more, they relate to the bindings of the original source novels. I can't recall where I first read that Noir relates to the original bindings given to hardboiled detective fiction by French publishers before contrastingly lit black and white movie adaptations were made of them, but Roger Ebert sportingly confirms it.

However, I too lacked my Necessary Third, and we both had to stumble on as best we could. The moment I recalled this contretemps I (and no doubt you) thought “Hang on, what about Blue Movies?” (apparently some of which may be found amidst the InterNets, gentle reader). I’m satisfied to my own satisfaction (tauto-ahoy!) that I can march behind this newly stitched banner of Black, Yellow and Blue, but does it have the gilt edge that only the extended claim can garner? Did Blue movies ever come in blue wrappers, were they ever bound in blue tape? From whence came the name? Is it to do with Blue Laws?