The Daily Word in asexuality, bad hair and breakfast of champions
A guide to understanding asexuality.
This man is getting back at Target over their new gender neutral toy-stocking policy.
This is how the explosion in China looked from space.
Thanks to Geoff Plant for the links!
Making Art on the Blacksmith’s Forge
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
I'm sure a lot of people were sad after LCD Soundsystem decided to call it quits, especially after releasing the stellar This Is Happening in 2010. But all good things … Anyways, front man James Murphy recently told Rolling Stone that he's working on the live album for their final show at Madison Square Garden (the subject of the rock doc Shut Up and Play the Hits). You can read more of interview here.
Spotify wins out again (as if taking over the world's streaming sinuses weren't enough). Led Zeppelin's entire catalogue will now be available for free listening on the service. So if you're one of those who's too lazy to get out to a record store (or even purchase the physical albums online), then your wish has come true. So head over to your Spotify page, and climb that “stairway to heaven.”
Don't you love it when innovative and interesting musicians become such restless artists that they keep releasing innovative and interesting music over and over? Well, this is from judging one song. But St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, has announced a self-titled album that's set to hit music markets on Feb. 25. Clark has made the track “Birth in Reverse” available online. You can hear that below.
Don't you just love love songs? No? What's wrong with you? Having already spilled my guts by ruminating over the “myth of the love song,” I've just come to accept that it's a notion that never dies. Maybe that's why artists like Beck, Fiona Apple, Blake Mills, Jim James and more have taken to covering famous love songs for the Sweetheart 2014 compilation. You can hear Jim James' cover of Bob Marley's “Turn Your Lights Down Low” below, and head over to Pitchfork to get a full tracklist.
I feel as if Black Lips are one of those bands that you can only really appreciate if you were into them from the beginning. Granted, I've only heard their album Good Bad Not Evil (which was a good album), but after seeing them live at Emo's in Austin, Texas, the underwhelming concert wasn't enough to make me a faithful listener. Oh well … now the band has announced a new record (Underneath the Rainbow), and it was partially produced by the overrated Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney. Let's just say I probably won't get to this one.
The bossy lady herself, Kelis, has announced that she's coming out with a new album. The album, supposedly titled Food, is being produced by Dave Sitek (of TV on the Radio) and is slated to come out on April 28. Kelis' last album took listeners on a techno-club journey, whereas her previous efforts had a more pop-friendly rap/R&B vibe to them, so who knows what this new record holds? Either way, I'm intrigued.
Mark March 25 on your calendars. It will be a golden day indeed. Because that's the day that a “lost” Johnny Cash album (titled Out Among the Stars) is scheduled to be released. According to Pitchfork, the album was recorded in 1981, and John Carter Cash (Cash's son, duh) took the helm in restoring the recordings, which contain duets with June Carter Cash and Waylon Jennings. This is good news, folks. Good news.
Movie soundtracks: Those fuckers can be a hefty bore or a good time … depending on how you look at it. David O. Russell's new film American Hustle is getting the soundtrack treatment that will be available in stores on Dec. 24. But the reason this soundtrack is extra special is because it has a new track by Jeff Lynne … yes, the front man, songwriter, composer, singer, the list goes on and on, of E.L.O. The track is titled “Stream of Stars,” and you can give it a listen below.
Wow … I must have been half-asleep if I didn't even know The Sounds had released a new album (titled Weekend) in October. Oops. But now they've premiered a video for their track “Hurt the Ones I Love.” This is my first introduction to their newer stuff, which seems to follow more closely to their work on Crossing the Rubicon. But I've always been more partial to the dance-pop-punk craze that dominated Living in America. You can view their new video below.
I could get better with rap. OK, I need to get better with rap. While my musical palate is rudimentary at best when it comes to rap and hip-hop, I always appreciate a good beat, some slick rhymes and good production. And that's what's happening on Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip's track, “Butch & Sundance,” off their mixtape The Abstract & The Dragon, which became available this week for streaming and downloading. You can hear the track below.
What Did You Play This (long) Weekend?
Mostly I retread some old ground this weekend. I got through the last 30 minutes of Half Life 2: Episode 1, started Half Life 2: Episode 2, and got several stars deeper into Super Mario Galaxy (which is jaw-droppingly awesome, by the way). I do have Super Mario Galaxy 2 sitting on a shelf, but I can't swallow quite enough pride to start it without having beaten its predecessor. I also spent some more time with Red Dead Redemption, and wonder of wonders, it's suddenly decided NOT to crash on me every 10 minutes or so. How about the rest of you? Any gaming marathons over the holiday weekend?
What Did You Play This Weekend?
I spent the majority of my gaming time this weekend checking out Jason Rohrer's recent indie release, Sleep Is Death, an interactive story tool that gets as much of its DNA from improvisational theater as it does from old school gaming. Participants are cast into one of two roles: controller or player, and connect to each other via the Internet. The controller interface provides tools for setting the player in a scene, and adding objects (people, dogs, zombies, etc.) to the scene for the player to interact with. The player's interface allows them to talk by typing into a speech bubble, and to tell the controller what actions they'd like to perform by typing verbs into an action box. This interaction plays back and forth, from scene to scene until the story reaches some sort of conclusion.
By default, each person has 30 seconds to take their turn, so playing the controller takes a fair amount of prep time in the controller interface. So far I've spent the majority of my time with the game there, getting used to the tools, building scenes, creating objects (persons, things) out of sprites, etc. The graphics have a real Gameboy Advance look to them, which gives Sleep Is Death a very classic feel. At first it was a little hard to see the possibilities given Rohrer's sample imagery - he's more of a programmer than a graphic artist - but after seeing Shannon Galvin's excellent "Are We Home?", I was sold.
I'm still not entirely certain where Sleep Is Death will take me. The $14 price includes 2 copies, one for each player, and I've passed my second copy on to a friend, but we've not jumped into a game as yet. Digging into the controller interface has been really interesting and addictive, though, so that should keep me occupied for a while. Rohrer has posted some sample playthroughs on his site that are quite good, and I've found a large, unfiltered collection of them at sidtube.com, which also has forums, IRC, art resources and a wiki.
What Are You Playing This Weekend?
I'll be playing "mom's coming to town, and I've gotta get my act together" for the majority of the weekend. Tonight, though, I'm going to make a push to finish Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and meditate on whether I should buy Spliter Cell: Conviction or not. Is 8 hours plus some co-op missions worth 60 beans? Good question.
I got the chance to sample the Darksiders demo the other day, and it was a pleasant surprise. I may play a bit more (time permitting) since it's a 90 minute demo. Nice, thanks Darksiders!
Your gaming plans?
| Oh, probably:|
|Mount & Blade Warband||0 (0%)|
|X-Com: UFO Defense||0 (0%)|
|Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse||0 (0%)|
|A thing (comments!)||1 (33%)|
|(Login to vote.)|
I'll be playing Heavy Rain this weekend. For those of you not familiar, Heavy Rain is a PS3 game where you investigate a series of child murders via four separate characters, and it provides more of what you'd expect from an interactive fiction than a video game proper. Graphically, it's stunning (though the brought-
I'll also be playing some games from the Kokoromi site. Kokoromi is a collective of Montreal-based experimental game designers and curators who orchestrate games-as-art events. Currently I'm running through the list of submissions to the Gamma 256 event of November 2007 where developers were constrained to making games that fit within a 256x256 pixel window. Some feel a little slapped together, others don't work, but so far at least two are great: Jason Rohrer's Passage, and Jim McGinley's Mondrian Provoked. And if I can find my red/blue 3d glasses anywhere, I'll check out some of the submissions to Gamma 3D as well.
How about you? (Poll after the jump)
| I think I'm going to play some:|
|Heavy Rain||1 (25%)|
|Dunno, something on my MAME cabinet?||0 (0%)|
|MW2 Free Weekend on Steam||0 (0%)|
|Something (comments!)||2 (50%)|
|(Login to vote.)|
I'm still on GTA: Liberty City Stories, and a big part of what keeps me there is the prospect of driving accompanied by the game's Indian/Middle Eastern radio station (bizarrely named "Radio del Mundo"). Funnily enough, Indian music dovetails perfectly with smashing into police cars at high speeds and causing general explosive mayhem. A fair portion of the station's loop can be found here, here, and here.
I'll also be playing Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Yes, it's 5 years old, but a) it runs like the dickens at 1650x1080 on my PC, b) after many years away from the franchise it feels pretty fresh again, and c) it's only $10 on Steam. Also, Rebel FM, an indie games podcast, is running a multi-part series covering the entire game.
How about you?
| Why, I'll be playing:|
|Final Fantasy XIII||1 (17%)|
|Metro 2033||0 (0%)|
|Bangai-O ||2 (33%)|
|Candy Land||0 (0%)|
|Other (comments!)||2 (33%)|
|(Login to vote.)|
Me? GTA: Liberty City Stories on PS2 - several years ago this game sucked my life away on the brick-like PSP, but it was giving me carpal tunnel symptoms and I had to stop. Hopefully the lighter PS2 controller will be gentler on me.
| I'm gonna to play me some:|
|God of War 3||0 (0%)|
|Radiant Silvergun||1 (13%)|
|Battlefield, Bad Company 2||1 (13%)|
|Chutes and Ladders||1 (13%)|
|Other (comments!)||2 (25%)|
|(Login to vote.)|
The Alibi's Weekend Hit List
Last Chance to Dance
Bummed out summer is screeching to a halt? You have one more weekend to revel in the unbearably hot madness as New Mexico State Parks have teamed up and have created some pretty nifty activities for you to enjoy on Labor Day Weekend. At Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell, divers can participate in "dive poker" with weighted cards. Divers have all day Saturday and Sunday to retrieve said cards and make a hand.
Check out the "Owl Prowl" at Hyde Memorial State Park Saturday night after the full moon. Take the half mile hike in the pitch black and watch some of nature's most badass predators attack rats, mice and maybe even children. For an entire list of all the state park haps, click on nmparks.com.
The annual Maize Maze at the Rio Grande Community Farm (1701 Montaño NW) is already underway, but for a unique jaunt into the impressive and massive labyrinth of corn, visit the maze this weekend for Moonlight Maze. Use the light of the full moon to find your way as the maze stays open until 10 p.m. for the special trek. The hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Labor Day. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for kiddies 4-11. Children 4-and-under are free.