Sunday, December 25, 2005

And tidings of comfort and joy to you, too.

So today there's this really, uh, hardcore column in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Not by a nationally-known figure, just some local guy, R.A. Walker. It's not online yet, but here are some excerpts:

Take away the credit cards and prozac and more people would understand that everything--even this "joyous," ho-ho-ho holiday season--is the work of Satan's pregnant "cash cow" sister and the ring of Black Friday's cash registers is nothing but a chant from hell.
It's a fiction that keeps the sweat shops in the Third World humping out all that plastic stuff that will be in the trash by Easter and serves only to boost corporate pcofits and encourage a month-long binge of reckless spending by Americans who should be shaking in fear at what awaits in the new year.
Our whole society waits like a hungry little bird in a nest for its Christmas fix. Gimme gimme gimme. We're addicted and in denial; and chances are we'd go on denying even if the Christmas shopping season were to coincide with Armageddon.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Notes on Christmas Songs

The most comically fucked-up Christmas song I know is "The Cherry Tree Carol." Seriously, where to fucking BEGIN? Well, begin with the first verse: "When Joseph was an old man, an old man was he/He married Virgin Mary, the queen of Galilee." Um, is there any Biblical indication that Joseph was in fact "an old man?" I'll field that one: no. No, there isn't. You just made it up, for no apparent reason except to make the song that much creepier. Was this necessary? And it only goes downhill from there. How is he expected not to be upset when she just sort of casually mentions in passing that she's pregnant? I mean, come on. And then Jesus talking from inside her womb? Gah. I don't want to think about it anymore.

"I Wonder as I Wander": good song. But man alive...the last line, in my family at least, always is the cause of great hilarity. "He surely could have it--'cause he was the king." As, for, since...but NO. For some totally bizarre reason, everbody is OBSTINATE that it has to be "'cause." Cuz Jeezus wuz, like, totally king omg lol!!!11 Very strange indeed.

The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York." Yes, it's a great song. Really, really great, in fact. But I can't help thinkng that people fixate too much on the you're a bum you're a punk you're an old slut on junk verse and kind of miss the point in the process. Their viewpoint seems to be, ha! Look how transgressive it all is! Take THAT, saccharine Christmas cheer! And that might be a legitimate reading if that were the last verse. But it's NOT, and however cynical it might be, it is ultimately a love song, and a moving one at that:

"I could have been someone."
"Well so could anyone.
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you."
"I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you."

Tell me that doesn't bring at least a little lump to your throat.

"Carol of the Bells." Is this the most sinister-sounding Christmas song you've ever heard, or what? I keep thinking it should be part of the soundtrack to the end of the world. Do dododo, do dododo...jeez.

Steeleye Span's version of "Gower Wassail"=best Christmas song EVER. Don't fucking argue with me. Just play it. And...have a happy [war on] Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ed: An Epic Poem in Two Parts yours truly. I think they have a kind of insouciant charm.

The Tragic Saga of Ed

There was a lad whose name was Ed.
“You will worship me,” he said.
“But why?” the people asked in fear.
“Because I'm cool—now listen here,
If you neglect to worship me,
I shall squash you like a bee.”

Although young Ed was very small,
He didn't like his life at all,
And so he wanted to be king,
For then his heart would surely sing.
But tragically it did not work.
The people eyed him with a smirk.

“You are so small, and worthless, too,
Whyever should we worship you?”
“Because,” said Ed, “I have a gun,
And I will shoot you if you run.”
“Why would we run?” they said, “Ho ho,
Your life is worthless, don't you know?”

“No,” said Ed, “that is a lie,
And now you must prepare to die..”
He shot his gun and people fell,
And sometimes cats and dogs as well.
“Oh dear oh dear,” he said at last,
“There's no one left to rule now—blast!”

The Further Adventures of Ed in Hyperspace

Now that everyone was dead,
Ed dropped his gun and ran and fled.
He ran and ran and ran and ran,
But said, “I'm getting nowhere, man!”
Finally, it all came clear
(after drinking lots of beer).

“No one's left on Earth you see,
So I shall roam the galaxy!”
And with those words he built a ship,
With which to make his fateful trip.
With glue and velcro, nails and rocks,
He built a ship in a cardboard box.

Unpacking it, he shrieked with glee,
“Here's the ship that's right for me!”
He then got in and blasted off,
Though all the dust just made him cough.
“Hurrah!” he cried, “I'm on my way!
I will see the stars today!”

His joy, however, was all too brief,
As soon he realized, with grief,
His spaceship had no air per se,
And he'd not live another day.
When he realized that his ship was outmoded,
He lefts its confines and promptly exploded.


More from Joe Deck

Pecan Swirlz Rool

I can't believe what I see—
A bullet hole going through me.
All I did was eat a snack
Of pecan swirls—the last one in the pack.
Pecan swirls are the best,
They're better than donut holes and all the rest.
Little Billy down the street
Likes pecan swirls because they're sweet.
What I did he thought uncool,
He simply said, “pecan swirls rule!”

The Man Who Could Not Stand the Rain

There was a man who could not stand the rain.
People thought, “Could he be insane?”
He said, “I simply prefer not the rain.
This simple preference makes me not insane.”

--Joe Deck


Monday, December 19, 2005

Awesome new feature!

Since I got home for break, I've been looking through the old issues of the high school "literary" magazine that I edited my senior year, and I thought it would be amusing to print various things that I, or possibly other people, wrote. This first little ditty makes me laugh because it's so completely whimsical, and because, although I clearly remember Joe Deck, I have no memory whatsoever of writing a poem with him, and I have no idea what the collaborative process might have been like.

Super Universal Cowboy!

Oh the Universal Cowboy,
Or just "UC" for short,
Is the ultimate adventurer,
Or so it's said, old sport.
He rides across the plains,
And charges through the universe,
And when the people see him,
They all say, "he could be worse."
He's got two guns for shooting thugs,
And has a hat for whacking bugs.
Unfortunately he does not have a horse,
But he has a super sonic hippo, of course.
He's faster than a lightning train,
And can't be hurt by acid rain.

--Joe Deck and Geoffrey Moses


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Good bands in the comics.

So, Speed Bump: not a comic I usually expend much thought on: occasionally amusing, often not, mostly just kind of there. But in today's comic, the guy is wearing a Calexico shirt. The electronic version is kind of hard to read, but that's definitely what it is. If nothing else, some major coolness points there.

What, not even a LITTLE tampering?

The best part about plane flights is when they tell you about how it's prohibited to "tamper with, disable, or destroy the lavatory smoke detectors." I'm just WAITING for the day when they forget to include that advisory in their spiel. When that day comes, those smoke detectors are going DOWN, man. You never told me NOT to! I shall indignantly shout as they take me into custody.

Incidentally, I am now a Master of Professional Writing. Whatever the hell that means.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

RIP Working Designs

(I wrote this and then felt sort of embarrassed about having put so much thought into so small an issue, but what the hell, I wrote it, here it is)

Alas! Of course, it’s a rather small subset of videogames—let alone new videogames—that I enjoy nowadays, but still: too bad. Lunar was fun. Both Lunars. Alundra, too. However—it must be said—I find it difficult to get behind Mr. Ireland’s efforts to blame outside forces for the company’s demise. They brought it on themselves, plain and simple. Now, it was okay when they were content to just quietly translated two or three games with small but devoted fanbases per year—not the all-time most lucrative venture, perhaps, but enough to keep them solvent, apparently. And yes, at a time when most localizations were indifferent at best, it was nice to see a company put real effort into such things.


In hindsight (always 20/20, I know, I know), they were kind of sowing the seeds of their own destruction right from the beginning—reading the masturbatory “production notes” that accompanied each of their releases, one couldn’t help getting the impression that they were a little too impressed by their own staggeringly awesome integrity. This really kicked into high gear, however, with the release of PS1 Lunar: what with the larger box and making-of documentary and whatnot, they really seemed to think they were on a divine mission.

And we all know what happens to God’s messengers.

Listen: videogames, some videogames, are really fun, and I’m glad to have them. But you know what videogames aren’t? They aren’t newly-unearthed Mayan codices or Gnostic gospels or Euripides plays. If they’re good, I’m glad when they’re translated, and even gladder when they’re translated well. But in the end, if they’re not—it’s really not, in the grand scheme of things, that big a deal.

The increasingly bloated, tchotchke-laden boxes for Lunar 2 and Arc the Lad and Growlanser—along with the ridiculous, hardcover collector’s edition strategy guides—made it extremely difficult to see how they were staying afloat. But what really did them in was their unwillingness to play on their publishers’ terms—another indicator of the ol’ messiah complex. Their mission was so unbelievably vital and pure that they simply could not would not compromise. Instead, they would remain obstinate. A really bad idea. Because the thing is, Sega and then Sony had all of the power in this relationship. They had none of the power. This was not a representative democracy, and there was simply no way they were going to win any dispute over licensing. Of course, this wasn’t only a problem for Working Designs—everyone who wanted to release games on the Saturn or Playstation had to play by Sega/Sony’s rules. The difference, though, was that “everyone” didn’t think they were on a Mission From God. But in WD’s eyes, it was a choice between knuckling under and being unjustly persecuted. And prophets do not, as a whole, tend to be the knuckling under types.

So, unsurprisingly, they collapsed under the weight of their own pretensions. Fine. But none of this cross of gold stuff. You did what you did, and you got the results that you must, on some level, have wanted. Godspeed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Random Ten

Waiting so long, as Berserk's closing theme so adroitly puts it.

01. The Doors, “Moonlight Drive”
Um…I find myself getting more and more embarrassed by these Doors songs. If pressed, I would still defend the merits of some of their stuff. But it would be a very half-hearted defense. 5/10

02. Calexico, “Guero Canelo”
Nice quasi-instrumental. 7/10

03. The Clash, “Deny”
Not, to my mind, one of their more impressive efforts. 5/10

04. Manic Street Preachers, “Locust Valley”
I can’t help noticing that most of the best songs from the Know Your Enemy period (which, I must again note, should not exist, since theyshouldvebrokenupafterthisismytruthdammit) seem to have been relegated to b-side status: this, “Just a Kid” “Pedestal,” “Ballad of the Bangkok Novotel,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?”…how can we explain this? 7/10

05. Saint Bushmill’s Choir, “Three Polkas”
Man, I sure wish they’d do another album. This little instrumental kicks a lot of ass. It includes “A Drunken Sailor” and other stuff that I’d probably recognize if I were more musically literate. 9/10

06. Blondie, “Dreaming”
It’s free, you know. 7/10

07. 16 Horsepower, “Blessed Persistence”
Purgatory’s favorite alt-country band. I love this stuff. 8/10

08. Emmylou Harris, “Save the Last Dance for Me”
Stately and elegant. 8/10

09. DJ Signify, “Meditations”
See, this is why I find so much underground hip hop annoying. This doesn’t have much of a hook; it’s just dense and boring. 2/10

10. Tom Waits, “That’s the Way”
The Black Rider has some really great tunes, like “November,” “Just the Right Bullets,” “Flash Pan Hunter”…but it also has far too much pointless silliness like this. Highly vexing. 4/10


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Gay marriage in South Africa!

Man, I sure didn't see this coming. South Africa, fergawdsake! They had fucking APARTHEID fifteen years ago, and now they'r more socially progressive than the United fucking STATES! Does anyone find this at all...embarrassing? Anyone?