Saturday, December 26, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Christmas

Nollaig shona duit and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Someone to kiss, someone to kick you

(Which by the way are not actually the correct lyrics. Still I prefer my initial misunderstanding of them.).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Zaevion Dobson was a good man.

If you asked me to find a smart man, a clever man, a capable man, a handsome man, a powerful man, or a strong man, I could find you examples of all of those in droves.

But a good man, a good man is hard to find.

In the end, very few people can say that their lives amounted to much of anything, even smart men, powerful men, clever men. Dobson's life actually amounted to something. Three lives go on because he cared about other people more than himself.

Zaevion Dobson was a good man.

15-year-old killed while shielding Tennessee girls from bullets

Friday, December 18, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Guitar Hero Live: Wait and See Before Reforming the Band

Probably my last article for the year. I probably should have gone out with a bigger bang, as this is simply a pretty straightforward review.

Guitar Hero Live: Wait and See Before Reforming the Band

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

At last, the end of nudity

So, apparently the final issue of Playboy that will feature nudes was released last week.

We've been nude here in America since 1953, but next month it's all over for us. No more, never again.

Beginning next month, no matter how hard you try to get naked, you will always find yourself in underwear, like those Barbie dolls soldered permanently into their own underpants.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cradle Questions the Dichotomy Between Religion and Science

This is a really nice little game. The ideas being interrogated here, the nature of the soul and parallels between transhumanism and reincarnation, are intriguing. I also kind of really like the mini-game within the game, a series of block puzzles, which I hear other people are less than fond of. They aren't easy and require some familiarizing yourself with their core ideas--in other words, they take practice. I enjoyed them despite having to hammer away at them a bit.

The only real drawback for me is a bug I kept running into that would cause the game to occasionally no longer recognize my keyboard, requiring a system shutdown to clear up. More than a little aggravating. Still though, there are some really cool ideas here, and the game is very unique and pretty looking.

Cradle Questions the Dichotomy Between Religion and Science

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Exhibitionism and the Video Game Confessional: Nina Freeman's Cibele

There is a real authenticity to the presentation of adolescence in Cibele. But there is still something off about the execution of the game on the whole. I try to articulate why here:

Exhibitionism and the Video Game Confessional :Nina Freeman's Cibele

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Absurd. Marvelous.

Hang with it. It only gets worse. Thus, it only gets better.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Moving Pixels Podcast Concludes Our Discussion of Life Is Strange

We've been chattering our way through Life Is Strange for almost a year. Kind of sad that our discussion ends today.

The Moving Pixels Podcast Concludes Our Discussion of Life Is Strange

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dissecting roses

Been thinking about literary criticism a bit. Largely, I've been thinking about how I have always resisted connecting myself to a particular critical approach. I'm not a feminist, a Marxist, or one who takes a particularly psychological approach to literature (or really any media that I analyze, film, games, music, whatever). I'm not necessarily opposed to any approaches people want to use (unless they get lost in the ideology of the approach, rather than in showing me something about the work itself). Use whatever approach when it's useful, I say. Discard it when it is not.

I'm not interested in politics, sociology, psychology, or much of anything else when it comes to literature. I'm just fascinated with aesthetics and semiotics. In a nutshell, I'm fascinated with beauty.

I just like dissecting roses.

Cruel, I guess.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Moving Pixels Podcast: Life Gets Stranger

I accidentally titled this podcast the same thing that I titled our podcast for episode 2. This sort of thing bugs me. I am dumb.

Moving Pixels Podcast: Life Gets Stranger

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency.

--Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Smut hunting and salvation

By focusing on sex, smut-hunters help eroticize a society by establishing boundaries to be transgressed. Censors share with pornographers an exaggerated sense of the importance of sex; in their different ways, both endorse Woody Allen's often-quoted witticism: "Sex is not dirty [pause] unless it's done right." Neither group will grant moral or intellectual motivation to the other side. Pornographers and censors can be sincerely indignant (the one about guilt and repression, the other about excessive freedom and license), can be driven by obsessions, can feel the need to bear witness to deeply held beliefs; both can feel that they are saving others.

--John W. Slade, Pornography in America

Friday, November 6, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

We met through a shared view

She loved me, and I did too.

Have I mentioned that the lead singer of The Streets looks nearly identical to my cousin Michael? It's uncanny.

The thing I love best about this track is Mike Skinner's horrific attempt to sing the choruses. The effort is so purely beautiful in its undeniable ugliness, so utterly compelling.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

One pill makes you larger

A dozen or more make you much, much, much larger.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks. The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Moving Pixels Podcast Spends Halloween with The Music Machine

I suppose with Halloween coming up and all that, I should mention the Moving Pixels podcast from Monday concerning an indie horror game, The Music Machine. Personally, I wasn't totally wild about the game, but as always, there are some interesting things to talk about regardless.

I'm kind of more fascinated by just the conception of a horror game made "Solo Deo Gloria" (that is, "for the glory of God alone"). David Szymanski is not the only artist that I'm aware of that has made similar claims about the motivating force behind their work (the poet Dylan Thomas, for example, immediately comes to mind). I've just never heard anyone who worked dominantly in the horror genre claim that motive for creativity. It's interesting.

Of course, anything unusual tends to interest me. My wife always says that if I met a redhead that was missing an eye and had a peg leg, that I would immediately run off with her.

The Moving Pixels Podcast Spends Halloween with The Music Machine

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Returning to Isaac's Body: The Metastasis of the Monstrous

This is sort of like an "adaptation" of an older article I wrote about bodily transformation and The Binding of Isaac. The first time was pure textual explanation. This time, I try to demonstrate what I mean through pictures.

Returning to Isaac's Body: The Metastasis of the Monstrous

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Playboy and the End of Nudity

I mentioned that I wasn't entirely done with the topic, as I wanted to discuss Playboy's relationship to the history of the nude in art.

So, this is the expanded version of my discussion of the end of the nude in Playboy magazine.

Playboy and the End of Nudity

Monday, October 26, 2015

Never mind the bullocks, here's your syllabus

I occasionally come across (or someone points out) that one of my PopMatters essays or something that I have written for a journal appears on someone's syllabus at another college or university. I always think: that's cool, some of my personal madness has driven some discussion somewhere, or something like that.

However, never have I been prouder than being the lead essay on a syllabus for a course entitled, "Punk Style and the Anarchy of Meaning," a course taught at the University of Denver (a few miles away from one of my alma maters). I would totally take that class, but even better, my essay, "Trolling the Player: Punk Aesthetics and the 'Anti-Fun' of Suda 51's Games" appears in a section called, "Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's Your Syllabus."

Tremendous. Seriously, even if the time was spent saying that what I had to say was total bullshit, I just love to be present in some way in a course on punk.

I should teach one someday, too. I'll have to think about that.

Johnny Rotten, Bad Brains, X, and Gertrude Stein? Ideas, ideas, ideas...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The scholar

A thousand years ago, it would have been a monk's, a militant fanatic who would have turned his uncompromising back on the world with actual joy and gone to a desert and passed the rest of his days and nights calmly and without an instant's self-doubt battling, not to save humanity about which he would have cared nothing, for whose suffering he would have had nothing but contempt, but with his own fierce and unappeasable natural appetites.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Darkest Dungeon, a Masochist's Dream

I need to finish MGS V, but it's hard to resist the cruel charms of Darkest Dungeon.

There is never a wrong time to self flagellate.

Darkest Dungeon, a Masochist's Dream

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's it going to be then, eh?

What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him? Deep and hard questions, little 6655321.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Playboy and the End of Nudity

So, if you hadn't heard, Playboy has announced that they will no longer feature nudes in their magazine starting in March of 2016. Now assuming this is not a PR stunt similar to the one pulled by The Sun regarding no longer publishing topless women, I think this future for Playboy is a pretty interesting one from a cultural standpoint (I will note that I assume they will go back to the nude should this turn out to be a failure, of course).

I've often said that I think that probably the two living men that have had the most significant impact on twentieth century media culture (and, no, I'm not saying most significant positive or most significant negative cultural impact, just most significant) are Stan Lee and Hugh Hefner. While, perhaps, not for this generation of young men, Playboy, for better or for worse, served a rather central role in the sexual development of the American male for three or four generations. Additionally, it has had a fairly huge effect on American and global media culture as well.

All of which is to say that I feel that I may want to write something in a slightly more substantial form about this in the near future. The idea of Playboy moving away from nudity is, of course, not really the "end of nudity" at all (I just said that to be hyperbolic). Instead, of course, it just shows the way that free and easily accessible pornography has changed the nature of the business.

Whatever one thinks of Playboy, the idea that more overtly hardcore and more amateurishly produced internet pornography has become the norm is slightly troubling to me from an aesthetic perspective (not that this hasn't been true for some time, but this move by Playboy marks that transition rather acutely). As I said, think what you will of Playboy, but some of the best photographers in the world shot for the magazine and their approach to pornography (both Hefner's and those photographers) had more tact than their other contemporaries did (say, the approach of Penthouse or Hustler or hardcore pornography in general).

Hefner's Playboy took what is largely a more traditional approach to the nude (within the context of the place of the nude in the history of art) by displaying the body as beautiful and erotic and focused on idealizing the body and those values. Much of what typifies the aesthetics of other pornographers has been a more deviant approach to the erotic, focusing on the strange and creating an often bizarrely biological approach to displaying the female body. In other words, Hefner wasn't interested, as some pornographers are, in essentially giving his viewer the opportunity to look at women as if they were giving them a gynecological exam.

I realize that other more tactful pornographers exist out there (and indeed Playboy's decision to change up their approach to the subject of the erotic may give a boost to those kinds of print and online publications and some opportunity for new publications of that sort to arise and fill that niche), but the end of the nude in Playboy may clearly suggest that the nude treated in that way has moved out of the mainstream of pornography and culture more generally and something more akin to the gynecological approach I referred to has moved in as the new normal (something like this already happened in the American art world some time ago, but that notion would be better suited for a larger discussion on the subject).

In any case, I didn't mean to go on about this for as long as I have. Indeed, I may just feel compelled to write something much more substantial about this to publish at PopMatters or something. We'll see what I have time for. Either way, still interesting and still vaguely troubling, to me at least.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Moving Pixels Podcast: Learning to Survive in the Fallout Shelter

My wife, one of my daughters, and myself were all playing our own iterations of Fallout Shelter shortly before we recorded the podcast.

We came to refer to the pregnant women (who are completely adorable, as you can see above) in our shelters as "the preggies," as in the statement, "Hey, how many preggies have you got in your vault right now?"

Moving Pixels Podcast: Learning to Survive in the Fallout Shelter

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I need a date to the prom

I was thinking that I only ever saw the Femmes once, but it was actually twice. I saw them in Illinois when they were promoting their gospel album, but I also saw them at the first Lollapalooza.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The boy was a model pupil, forgettable and easily forgotten, and he spent much of his time in the back of the English class where there were shelves of old paperbacks, and in the school library, a large room filled with books and old armchairs, where he read stories as enthusiastically as some children ate.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Chicken bones and British import pop

Saw these guys at a little club in Boulder years ago. The lead singer was wearing some kind of skinny pants, skinny jeans, something dreadful of that sort. He played and sang with one supremely narrow leg up on the monitor in front of him.

I was up near the front and felt (and kind of had the urge to do so) that I could just reach up and snap his leg like a chicken bone. Dude needed to eat a box of Twinkies, something, anything with a rich, creamy center.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dichotomies, dichotomies, dichotomies

Shakespeare's Sister: charmingly melodramatic, delightfully hyperbolic.

The Value of Exploitation: Of Puppies and Pornography, Violence and Vixens

Puppies, pornography, violence, cannibalism, incest, and Pam Grier. It doesn't get better than this.

The Value of Exploitation: Of Puppies and Pornography, Violence and Vixens

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Moving Pixels Podcast: Sometimes It's Hard to Avoid Discovering That Life Is Strange

More discussion of Life Is Strange -- specifically the second episode, in which we learn that an imminent apocalypse continues to be far less terrifying than attending high school.

Come for the high school drama. Stay for the apocalypse?

Moving Pixels Podcast: Sometimes It's Hard to Avoid Discovering That Life Is Strange

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Have Rumors of the Death of the Text-Based Adventure Game Been Greatly Exaggerated?

A bit of a discussion of the text adventure and its possible modern successors, games like 80 Days and the utterly brilliant Device 6.

Have Rumors of the Death of the Text-Based Adventure Game Been Greatly Exaggerated?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

you are the book of madder-rose and indigo

An anonymous individual in a chat room describing an epileptic seizure in real time:

This is the aura. The fit comes later, a sensation like a fast train. 00:19. it's not going to be a bad one. It's come up fast. The slow burn is the worst. 00:21 it was the smell that told me. I smell things like burning herbs. Then they go, and when it’s over they're gone. 00:29 I can feel fragments of identity speaking to me. It gets harder to describe I taste salt and something else. I exult in these moments. it's the payoff for the bad times, the weary times. In these moments I kiss God. 00:31 I can see all the colours now, under your skin! Look at your hand. Do you doubt that you contain an infinity of shades? tone and chroma, chapter and verse. you are the book of madder-rose and indigo. my hands will be taken soon, for a while. but how lovely that i can speak colour with my hands, while the time lasts! 00:33 its coming. i break open like achrysalis, i split. cant say much more. but you are the divine! look at your hands, draw breth, and do not doubt that you taste eternity. 00:37 over soon. i would be a river if i could. i would bleed eternal/divine. wont see it when i wake up. see it NOW. all colours. when you see all the colours. all the colours, in any one colour. that is to taste the divine. over soon. I want to remember! the keys look like bone, like brick. pyramids and saints toes. all colours. all the colours. they all saw all the colours. 00:40 keys like bone, but containign all colours. the colours never leave us. God is spectrum, infinite spectrum. sound, colour touch all a spectrum 00:54 It's over. I had the fit, I'm fine except I think I hit my elbow on something and I bit muy tongue. (Anonymous, 2012)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Come for Freddie. Stay for the Spanish guitar solo.

Unlike many other bands, Queen actually understands how to make the music itself speak clearly in addition to the lyrics. Freddie loves theater, opera, and the drama that entails, which I think is why this is so.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another Semester Begins

The chair of my dissertation committee once told me that he felt that unfortunately 90% of teaching had more in common with the philosophy of Gypsy Rose Lee than with the philosophy of Socrates or Aristotle: "Let me entertain you."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Moving Pixels Podcast: Searching for Her Story

A little late on this, but we did publish a podcast on the very interesting little indie title, Her Story, last week.

Moving Pixels Podcast Searching for Her Story

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why the Arcade Matters

This was sort of fun to write. Kind of a history of the arcade filtered through me.

Why the Arcade Matters

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fosse, the Master of Spectacle

Strangely, though, what I really want to see again is Lenny, which is supremely understated by comparison to Fosse's other films. I have to track down a copy.

It's a mod, mod world.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fuck 3D!!!, Aram Bartholl, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2015

All that the U.S. media reports on is words

Every day the headlines are:

X Said, "Blah Blah Blah."

What X Meant by "Blah Blah Blah" was "Blah Blah Blah Blah."

What X Didn't Meant by "Blah Blah Blah" was "Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah."

Why What Y Said about What X Meant by "Blah Blah Blah" is Wrong.

Why What Y Said about What X Meant by "Blah Blah Blah" is Right.

Hers's Why X Should Apologize for Saying, "Blah Blah Blah."

Here's Why Y Should Apologize for What He Said about X Saying, "Blah Blah Blah."

Here's Why X's Apology for Saying "Blah Blah Blah" is Insufficient.

Here's Why X's Apology for Saying "Blah Blah Blah" is Sufficient.

And on and on and on...

I teach rhetoric -- so I love to examine and interpret words, meanings, and intents -- but even I know that this is pure masturbation.

U.S. media is a giant circle jerk in which no one ever gets off.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Fall Explores Artificial Intelligence and Identity

Some discussion of The Fall, which, perhaps, follows neatly after our previous discussion of The Swapper. Both games concern some philosophical issues of a similar nature that explore the nature of the self, the mind, and the soul.

The Fall Explores Artificial Intelligence and Identity

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Solitaire and the Ubiquity of the Single Player Game

This piece is a bit of a defense of the continued existence of the single player video game (which may or may not really be necessary), but it's also a bit of a history of Solitaire and kind of a suggestion of how Solitaire relates to this seemingly aberrant form of games: the game that is played alone.

Solitaire and the Ubiquity of the Single Player Game

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Game Development as a Reductive Practice: The Beautiful Simplicity of Her Story

We will be talking about Her Story on the Moving Pixels podcast in a few weeks. Before that happens, though, some thoughts regarding its design and how that relates to a few card games, like Dominion and 7 Wonders, which probably won't make sense until you read the article.

Game Development as a Reductive Practice: The Beautiful Simplicity of Her Story

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Nude in America

2 AM. Sitting on the porch in Denver. Smoking and eating the finest smothered burrito one can buy in the Western hemisphere (Tamale Kitchen. 104th & Melody. $3.).

The puritan standards of condemnation that ruled the past may have mutated in the minds of current art critics, but many of them are still so afraid of being focused on sex that they automatically dismiss work that cannot clearly be identified as ironic or fetishistic. Artists who refuse to assault the body are usually dismissed as hopelessly out of tune with today's art world. Faced with such puritan pressures, over the past fifty years American museums have relegated to deep storage virtually all painted versions of attractively nude (or recognizably nude) humanity.

Along with Danielewski's The Familiar Vol. 1, I've been reading Naked: The Nude in America. When the book discusses the cultural and historical trends surrounding the visual arts in the United States along with issues concerning how the nude has been displayed in museums and in popular culture, the book is really interesting. When the author, Dijkstra, analyzes specific works, it's not as strong. Feels like a lot of overreaching.

I feel like I may need to write something on Mulvey's famous essay about the "male gaze" soon. Most people who use that term to criticize art in various media, film, television, video games, seem unaware of how Mulvey's argument actually works and that its basis is actually quite antithetical to many of the claims that they otherwise want to make about gender, masculinity, and femininity, based as the original essay is on Freudian thinking and a strong gender essentialist position.

Not that Dijkstra is at all discussing the male gaze. It is just that between this and some other stuff I've been reading and watching lately (in particular, an especially wrongheaded discussion of the "feminine gaze" on Slate that mostly concerned Magic Mike, wrongheaded because the woman in the video I watched used the term "male gaze" and even quoted Mulvey's essay without really clearly understanding what the foundation of Mulvey's argument is) have gotten me thinking a lot about this topic.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Moving Pixels Podcast Focuses on The Detail

Some discussion of The Detail, a lesser known (I think) episodic game series.

It's a crime drama that seems to want to simulate a television series. It is only somewhat successful, I believe.

Then again, the procedural is not exactly my favorite kind of crime story.

The Moving Pixels Podcast Focuses on The Detail