Having been burnt twice by buying the technically challenged Wii versions on Season 1 & 2, I decided to move from the den to the office and play season three on my PC. The visual difference is astounding. This game looks great both in terms of graphic quality and its cartoony art direction. This has been my favorite of the three seasons. In addition to usual humor and wacky characters, there seems to be much more focus on unifying all the episodes under a larger story arc. They’ve also mixed-up the gameplay a bit by giving Max a variety of psychic powers that add to your puzzle solving arsenal. That may have made the game a little easier, but I still felt satisfaction as I progressed through the game’s puzzles. Bring on season four!
I had thought that the whole occupy Wall Street thing had lost all its steam but then some cop had go and kick it up a notch by spraying a little peppery spice. Bam! All the sudden pepper spray policeman has become a rallying point for the OWS supporters. I suppose this is good for the cause, because, frankly, up until now they haven’t had any sort of unifying message around which to rally. Personally, despite my general agreement about wall street bailouts and corporate cronyism, I never was a big fan of the movement. It seems to be yet another iteration of standard decades-old lefty memes mixed with the usual chanting and hackneyed street theater. Okay, you dislike corporatism and wealth inequities, but how does camping out all night for weeks on end make your point—other than leading to the inevitable conflict with “The Man?” That seems to be the end game of all these lefty protests. Wear out your welcome, then incite some sort of police confrontation and maybe you’ll get some (literal) kick-ass images you and your bearded hipster pals being dragged away by the boys in blue. But this is just that aforementioned street theater. Unless you are showing civil disobedience over not being allowed to camp in a city park, your point is lost. The vague demands of OWS could just as easily and effectively be made during normal business hours and you could use your evenings for spending time with your family or showering.
There’s still quite a bit of Big Black’s sound in this Albini follow up project. The guitar (there’s only one this time around) screeches with the same fury as before and, this time around, he’s found a human drummer. As one might expect, the songs have more of a live feel and are less industrial-sounding. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Being the synth-nerd I am, I tend to favor the more mechanized noise of Big Black. That said, most of the tracks on this disc are pretty great. However, looming around the edges are songs like “Budd” which showcases the indy-rock-jam-band self indulgence of those later Shellac records.
This was a nice manifesto of sorts that hits all the right marks in terms of what it means to be an “independent” in today’s political climate. The authors are both libertarians, so I mostly agree with much of what they had to say, although I suspect they may be succumbing to a little confirmation bias when they read “independents” as being primarily libertarian. They make their best points when explaining how everything is better today than it was in the past and most of that progress had nothing to do with politics. It’s a nice continuation of the many of the ideas that where developed in the excellent The Future and Its Enemies. There is also plenty on how, once you get past the rhetoric, Republicans and Democrats are more or less the same.
It’s been about a year since my last major site overhaul, so I have decided to do a little housekeeping here. I’ve tweaked the theme so it’s a little less crowded and, hopefully, a bit easier to find your way around. That is all.
Although I was disappointed by The Blade Itself, I decided to continue on with the series to see if all that plodding, plot-less character development was worth the time I invested in the book. As a matter of act, it was. Book two feels more structured and the characters actually have goals that almost relate to one and other. Plot-wise it’s some pretty standard stuff here: there’s the quest for the magic object of ultimate power, the great battle against the foe from afar, and the well-nigh impossible stronghold defense against foe from afar #2. What sets this book apart from other fantasy stories I have read is the general unlikability of most of the main characters. Just when you think there might be a moment of redemption things always seem to go back into the crapper. That said, I am going to continue on to book three expecting a big payoff that will be soured some how.
My band has played with Quatre Tête a few times now. They share our taste for weird time signatures and, what’s the term, angular guitar riffs. They also have a taste for competent musicianship which my band has yet to acquire. Cover art by my friend Jay!