Friday, August 27, 2010


Between kids going back to school, the wrapup of summer doings, and various medical or health-related shenanigans I have not been making time to update this blog.

On the video game front I haven't progressed much owing to the above-listed time killers but also because I'm just bogged down in Okami. Almost bored with it you might say. It isn't that it is a bad game, it is just so long. I'm having similar problems to my play-through of Odin Sphere awhile back. What little time I do manage on my consoles is mostly dicking around with the digital pinball games from Kaze. About as far from Okami as you can get. The only thing video game wise that really has me excited is all the shit Cave has announced at their August Matsuri festival. Just about every old STG they've ever designed seems scheduled over the next year.

If anything my pastime-time is taken up with getting back into GW stuff. I've been reading a lot of Black Library novels set in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universes to get hepped up, and I've made some progresss in buying and starting an Eldar army for 40K. I don't get anything like the great deals on this stuff that I used to so I have to be a lot more strategic with my purchases of figures. Most of my old paints aren't good either so I have to rebuild that setup. My son has gotten inspired and is beavering away on a Tau force. I've got an infantry model done to completion so I could figure out my army's color scheme and three more troopers following on from that. I'll post pics soon. I like my ideas, but my son hates it! Ha.

He'll double hate it when my force rolls over his.

I'm actually more of a Warhammer (fantasy) player. I will be firing up a force of High Elves before long and dividing my painting time between the two. I'm working 40K earlier because that, of course, is what the boy is into. Even my daughter is getting in on the act. She knocked out a decent Space Marine, but really wants to paint some Wood Elves.

Nerdy nerdy family.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


No, not WoW as in World of Warcraft. 'Wow' as in the exclamation.

I haven't been doing much new gaming that's worth writing (ploughing through the very long Okami) so there hasn't been much in the way of updates. I could post articles about other nerdly things, but apart from reacquainting myself with GW products I'm not doing much new there either. I probably will talk Warhammer, etc at some point but I ain't there yet.

I got this awesome new 'wave lounger' that is a semi-portable chair/pad that is just perfect for plonking right in front of a plasma screen and having a joystick set in your lap. I gave Ketsui a go with this setup and it is the cat's ass.

The MAIN reason I'm posting though is this link:

I haven't played this game and have no intention, but this is one of the greatest game-related articles I've read all year and maybe ever. I think the concept of 'game journalism' is a crock... BUT. If there was ever a piece written that was not about the business/financial aspect of videogames that could be called actual journalism, this might be it. I have some exposure to the Yakuza through film... particularly those of Takeshi Kitano so a lot of what is talked about in the article really dovetailed with my continued fascination with Japanese culture.

Thanks to Sketcz at HG101 for pointing this article out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Doing a Double

At the time of this writing I've finished (re)reading Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five from 1969 and just (re)watched the film made three years later by George Roy Hill.

Both are good, in my opinion, with the book holding an edge in terms of just how good. The story is an idea or concept driven piece with a huge moral (but cynical) undertone. If you are looking for something character or even plot-driven really you'd need to look elsewhere.

But the book was short, so even if you found the jumpy non-linear aspect to be annoying it doesn't go on for very long. The film is pretty true to the book including a lot of lines lifted straight. About the only 'era' the movie doesn't track is the time/impressions for Billy after he dies.

Given all the jumpy time-frame stories that have come after Slaughterhouse-Five, both literary and cinematic, it might not seem so unique or even interesting, but put in perspective it can be seen to be hugely influential.

I'm writing this mostly because I haven't posted for awhile and want everyone to know I'm still alive, but also it is not all that common for me to read a book and watch the film at the same exact time. Thought maybe that moment should be marked somehow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two For Tuesd-- uh, Wednesday

I've gotten behind on my music buying, but have taken steps lately to remedy that. Looking through the various artists that are staple bands for me, there aren't that many releases I seem to have missed over the last several months... most have albums that just came out or are still future. Still my want list for music is still quite a bit bigger than it has been for a while. With the death of ALL specialist music stores in my area, I'm pretty much limited to itunes, but that service has gotten a lot better for the wacky music I consume.

Two of the albums I purchased recently are rather genre-bending so that makes them, to me, interesting enough to note briefly.

The first one is Architect of Lies by Mercenary. This is a metal band from Denmark that have have a lot of talent and are all over the map musically. They seem to mostly get labeled melodic death metal, the genre that includes In Flames, Soilwork, and Dark Tranquillity. If one were to go off this most recent record that would probably be sort of accurate. Architect of Lies mines the attributes of melo-death more than any other style and it is more prevalent here than on Mercenary's previous two albums, The Hours That Remain and 11 Dreams. Maybe that's why this album seemed to be less well received, from what reviews I've read, than the previous outings.

I like the melodeath style. For some fans it is a bit tired... very mid 90s. That was when everyone and their little cousin Edith was forming a melodic death band or changing their sound to fit the subgenre. Y'know, back before metalcore did the same thing at the turn of century. Apart from the aforementioned core melodic death bands I didn't really just buy and buy and buy it til I could puke.

Mercenary have a huge sound, epic really. Melodic death bands tend to alternate between harsh and clean vocals, but this band is kind of in a whole different league. Their clean vocals can match almost any other rock band and at times absolutely dominate the songs. The guy can get way up there. They also feature frequent intensity and tempo changes (though no odd time signatures) to the point I'd probably lump them in with progressive bands actually. This most recent album is not as varied... it is more of a one-trick melodic death pony, but I don't think that's bad. Sometimes bands, even crazy eclectic ones, need to focus. Sometimes they benefit and the fans like 'em and sometimes they don't. Architect is NOT a lot like other melodic death albums. It is still pretty progressive in places, and the vocals rock out with their cock out like one would expect if you have any experience with them. Shout out to their drummer too. Their drums seemed to be miked up a little to much at times, but the guy is a rhythm god.

So I liked Architect of Lies. No, it isn't 'just super' like The Hours That Remain, but I think anyone hating on this album was just put off that they weren't all over the map quite as much as usual. If you want heavy music, like heavier than anything on the radio, but you want variety in the music and vocal styles EARLY Mercenary is a surer ticket, but even the latest is money well spent. I'd actually like to see these guys live. Soilwork shows are incredibly energetic... almost dare I say 'danceable' for a metal concert. I wouldn't go so far as to say Mercenary would have the same effect, but I'd bet you'd come out of one feeling pretty jazzed.

Second up is a total left turn with Rotersand's Random Is Resistance. Described as electro, EBM or Futurepop by reviewers and fans, if you listen to VNV Nation or Covenant you are somewhere in the ballpark. Dark, usually danceable electronic music that's frequently in the rotation lists at goth/industrial clubs.

But here's where Germany's Rotersand is different: they like Pink Floyd. A lot.
I mean Ronan Harris of VNV Nation might like Pink Floyd, but you don't really know it from his music. Rotersand is like Ronan and David Gilmour having a love child. I know that's gross, but the listener benefits.

Not all the songs are Floydian. Rotersand's strength is in the variety. They have expansive quiet Floydian numbers, they have more typical EBM dancefloor anthems, and they have songs that would almost be straight up radio pop if it weren't for the squalling electronic underpinnings. I really like these guys because even when they do a 'typical' electro song they pull from a much bigger library for their instrumentation and melodies. Acoustic guitar in an industrial club? Rotersand'll do it. And make it work really well more often than not.

It's a little like Juno Reactor's mixing in all kind of world music, chants and percussion and still being 'cool'. Apart from being pretty sure you are going to hear something like Pink Floyd on the record, anything could be in the mix in the next song thought the band doesn't stray so far out of the EBM/Futurepop box that they are unrecognisable. They could've just done whatever crazy shit they wanted and just thrown in one or two 'clubby' songs to make sure the EBM fans keep buying them, but they aren't that nutty.

They just do the Futurepop thing really well because they aren't afraid to pull stuff from outside and make it work. Any album of theirs is highly recommended, though the first one, Truth Is Fanatic, has less variety as they were still working out their strengths.

Warning: on Random Is Resistance the song War On Error crushes all!