Sunday, November 25, 2007

vote for lame

The above clip is an ad for one of this year's federal unnatural selection candidates for the seat of Wills (in Melbourne). Namely, it's an ad for Zane Alcorn from Socialist Alliance (SA). If you can stomach watching it, you'll see a failed attempt at winning the youth vote. Somebody has clearly neglected to tell SA that it takes a bit more than a terribly unfunky aesthetic to win a seat. And who the hell thought it would be possible to win a seat by appealing to just one cohort within it? Especially with that terrible attempt at humour? Strangely enough, I couldn't bring myself to vote Zane second, despite the Greens 'how to' card asking me to do so. It was very difficult bringing myself to vote at all.
SA are allied with the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), so that explains why Zane's been posing as a woeful Emcee posing as a politician: feeding votes, more or less, to the DSP.
There is an argument that content is more important than aesthetics. But sometimes there can be a lot of content in aesthetics. In Zane's case, there's a very clear agenda of attempting to win the youth vote by presenting himself as an alternative to the other politicians.
So I'm not criticising Zane on the basis of his content (not of this clip but of his policies [the usual SA/DSP suspects: environmental sustainability/global warming, worker's rights and youth rights, etc.]) because no doubt there's plenty of merit to the ideas he's put forward, in principle. My assertion is that, if Zane's intention is to effect change in regard to these issues, participating in Government isn't going to help. Representative Democracy is a sham. It won't solve issues, it creates them. Zane's aesthetic belies a disingenuous attempt to paper over this fatal flaw in the logic of our so-called democracy: the illusion of choice.
Having said all that, I did vote. It was a guilty pleasure helping vote out Howard. But I'm certainly not labouring under the misapprehension that there is a substantial difference between Howard and Rudd and his lackeys. Or if I were Zane I suppose I'd say, "Rudd and his homies."
now playing: battles - rainbow

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

retro gamer

I'm home from work today, sick, so I've decided the best way to help me recover from my mystery illness is to download a couple of Commodore 64 ROMs of games I played in my youth. I thought I'd blog about it, to keep the nostalgia theme of the last couple of posts running.

Although, I can't remember where from, I recently downloaded a game called Shogun, where the objective is to win friends and otherwise influence people into becoming your subordinates. You can do this a number of ways depending on the character you choose to be. You can be a thug, a priestess or priest, a samurai, a lady, or a lord, or a servant and then some, amongst the twenty or so characters available. What really stands out about this game is the whole aesthetic: it's wonderfully atmospheric. The gameplay is simple and a little bit odd because you can sort of run up into the sky; there's no gravity. Regardless, the game involves picking up objects and money and giving them to selected people after talking to them to win their favour. If you're not very strong, trying to attack people is a quick ticket to death. Presumably you can make or break alliances by sending your disciples to kill, protect or give gifts to others. Presumably. I used to play it for hours even though I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I remember the C64 version having this really nice white noise that increased and decreased in volume as your character crossed the landscape towards the sea but the version I've downloaded doesn't have that. It's a pity.
I've downloaded three games today:

1) Impossible Mission. Who knows how many hours of my life I spent playing this game. It's such memorable fun and I love the speech in it, which was quite an accomplishment for c. 1983: "Another visitor; stay a while, stay forever!" and "Kill him, my robots!" And who could forget the blood curdling scream when you fall down a pit to your death? I saw my sister complete Impossible Mission, which is impressive because it's not an easy game at all and there's a surprising amount of problem solving in all the platform jumping. If you watch the Youtube end sequence to Impossible Mission 2 (the game of which I unfortunately can't find to download) I hope you're as disappointed as I am. Such an anti-climax after all that effort.

2) Wizball. I downloaded the Sensible Software original but I couldn't get the cat to work and as Graham Goring, Trevor Storey and Infamous over at Retrospec had gone to all the effort to remake it, I've been playing that version instead. It retains all the playability, addictiveness, quirkiness, difficulty and fun of the original. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to support a joystick or control pad but that doesn't matter because it's still fun. The Youtube embed is the original theme music to the game. I'm beginning to see where my love of synths and electronic music comes from.

3) Attack of the Mutant Camels 2: Yak Attack. If memory serves, the fun and funny thing about Jeff Minter's original game is that it abounded in llamas and this one seems to follow suit - minus the fun.
Okay, enough geekiness.
I'm now going to watch an anime film.
playing in just a moment: tekkon kinkreet

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

jack and the witch

It doesn't get much better than this:
Above is a freaky little scene from a wonderful anime film that I watched when I was four or so called Jack and the witch (1967).
I distinctly remember bits of this show, including this clip, it's left an indelible mark on my memory and I'd dearly love to see it again in full but such a desire will need to go unfulfilled for the time being, alas.
The film is about a young man who finds himself transported to another land, which is dominated by witch. There's a bad windmill in there somewhere too. When the windmill turns, something really bad happens. Cant' remember what.
The film is quite dark and wonderfully inventive but I'll probably never get the opportunity to relive the experience because the film on DVD is only available in Japanese which I don't speak.
I remember accidentally taping over a bit of it with about thirty seconds of Astroboy on our Betamax VCR and then hiding under my bed because I thought I'd be belted. Those precious memories. As it was, I didn't get in trouble at all, although I was terribly upset to delete some of the movie.
I blame Sony.
now playing: broadcast - microtronics 02 (?)

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

'he is ze perfekt replikant'

I went to The Astor's Friday screening of Blade Runner, the Final Cut.
This version of the film is Ridley Scott's completion of his earlier Director's Cut, for most of which he was absent due to shooting Thelma and Louise, and hence the messiness of that cut of the film. Thus, the Final Cut is his definitive version.
The advantage of seeing Blade Runner - the Final Cut at the cinema, digitally restored and screened with a digital projector was precisely that - seeing the film big, with some of the most amazing visuals of any film ever shot really brought to life. The film still looks amazing! It is such a lavish vision and partly because it was shot in 1982. Films with a similar level of visual detail, complexity and sophistication are quite common these days but this is a film from the early eighties. It's twenty-five years old and it hasn't dated a bit.
As for the aspects of the film that Scott changed or added, there's not a lot to commend here in my opinion. I've watched the Director's Cut a good fifteen times and was able to spot most of the differences although some of them were so subtle I didn't spot them. The extra violence wasn't particularly necessary and changing Roy's, " I want more life, Fucker," to "I want more life, Father," needlessly labours the metaphor.
But all of this is beside the point: for a film that was already an incredibly immersive aesthetic experience, the digital vision and sound refinement has really enhanced both the spectacle and the messages at the depth. At last night's screening, for the first time, I really picked up on the subtle differences and commonalities between all of the replicants contained in the film for the first time.
And as for the question regarding the ambiguity or otherwise of Deckard's replicant status, I am prepared to agree with the notion that this has been left somewhat ambiguous but I think it's ambiguous not because Scott wanted to leave doubt in the viewers' minds so much as because of his deft directorial touch - he really knows how to show and not state. That is, the ambiguity is a corollary of his direction and not a moot narrative point, per se.
In addition, a friend once said to me that Deckard's being a replicant added nothing to the narrative and was thus superfluous. I can think of several rebuffs to this, but the most poignant for me regards Deckard being a Replicant as a thematic rather than narrative concern. Believing Deckard to have been a human throughout the entirety of the film until the very end really underscores the post-humanity of the film incredibly powerfully. I reckon. And no, I don't think this is tautologous.
Anyway, a wonderful film experience made sublime.
now playing: alec empire - lash the 90ties

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Here are some of the photos that have been sitting in my Dad's old Pentax SLR for almost a year, waiting to be processed.
They look as great as they do, not just because of my photography skills, but also because they're slide film that's been cross- processed onto paper.
Very happy.
Now playing: stars of the lid - the daughters of quiet minds

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Monday, November 12, 2007


A friend of mine directed me to a really good blog which lets you download good music.
It's at nodatta. and everyday there's a downloadable album or a single or two posted of the kinds of genres of music I really get in to.
It's got me thinking about piracy a bit and how much fun it is. But more than fun, sharing culture is also fair and reasonable. As we all know, information and culture want to be free. I don't know how Metallica or Dr Dre can sleep at night, shutting down Napster. Or Sony justify their intensive insistence on digital rights management (going so far as to devise anti-copyright infringement media that will fuck up your stereo).
Yep, I'm definitely down with the anti-copyright guys.
If you don't like breaking the law but like the sound of free 8 and 16-bit music, then check out Cicada. Fucking awesome! Total computer love.
Thanks to Chris Lego for the pic.
now playing: cicada - earth's assault on the central ai

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