The Guild - Do You Wanna Date My Avatar

Extremely geeky, full of MMO references and probably old... but it's the first time I'd seen it and its surprisingly catchy. It connects with a web series "the guild" which is even geekier. To the extent that I can't actually watch it... oh well.

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Wow, impressive.

This may be old stuff, but I thought it was really impressive. I've loved music made from cutting up old samples for ages. From the Jamm's to early DJ shadow, rjd2, cut chemist but doing the same thing by cutting up youtube music video's is pretty damn impressive. Even more so because the video is actually interesting to watch while you're enjoying the music.

Apart from that my Thesis is submitted after too much cumulative time sunk into something with little real value. And in the latest installment I've replaced one hastily written attempt with a much better structured and clearer.... hastily written attempt. Had to end though, time to be a proper unemployed bum and hope I can find something in the current dire climate.

Direct link, he also has other tracks I haven't listened to yet.


I've been in a gaming guild for a long time. I didn't really think about how long until it looked like the guild was about to fade away to nothing. The charismatic and well liked guild leader picked Vanguard (doesn't matter if you don't know it) as the game with the brightest future and we packed up shop in WoW and moved (having done the same when leaving the original Everquest). The game was a commercial disaster with the employee's pretty much all being taken out to the parking lot and fired a couple of months after release. Technical issues and the very low number of subscribers causing the game to fail to reach its potential. As the game faded so did the guild, with people who didn't want to play silently slipping away rather than rock the boat by opposing those who still championed the potential of vanguard. I was one of those who slipped away, but then I realised I didn't really give a shit what game we ended up playing, or whether the people in the guild got their final confirmation I'm excessively verbose, I didn't want to lose touch with some of these people I'd known for up to 10 years.

So after mulling it over (a lot), overcoming my urge to stay the hell out of it, I finally got up at 5:00am and coughed this out when the current raid leader asked about alternatives and there was only silence. Part of my commitment was forming a guild in the game I was most interested in (WoW, and yes we are recruiting) but most was trying to convince others that the people come first while the games are ephemeral and fade over time.

This is long, geeky and fairly specialized to those who play online RPG's. It's really rare that I get such a passion to express something though, so I thought I'd put it here just in case someone else found it interesting. It's also not specific to my guild. I think having a group of gamers than span multiple MMORPG's (which differ from most games in having a strong social aspect) is a good model I'd like to see more of. It tends to require having played multiple MMORPG's though, and realising each will fade in time, which a lot of the people who started in WoW won't have seen yet. In the text SA is the guild initials, VG is vanguard, Conan is "age of conan" which as I write this is the hot new game on the scene, though already showing signs of holes behind the facade and novelty.

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    Silence... well, apart from fan noise on my comp.
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Crazy times....

Well, it has been interesting. Motorola has made its inglorious exit from Perth leaving me unemployed. The biggest shame is that the talent they had here in Perth was top class. If they'd simply said "go out, get work, generate some revenue" the center could have so easily been profitable even without doing any Motorola work. But then ultimately the whole issue is a near total failure of strategy and leadership at higher levels. Thankfully given their pitiful market share in Oz I'm not in too much danger of noticing the remainder of their continued existence. Most of the people from Moto Perth went on and got better jobs, many for Australian companies, so really it hasn't been that bad a thing.

It's not a bad time to be unemployed though, gives me a chance to finally close the PHD issue one way or another. Don't ask how it's going and I promise not to go on about it.

Something else.... oh yeah, got married to a rather wonderful partner who just leaves an aching gap in my life when she's not here. The day went really well I think other than a sleepy version of me combining with the idea that a blade shave was a good part of the ritual to make a generous blood offering. Many thanks to all those who helped and added to the event, I hope you had a good time. As someone warned the whole thing passed by so fast and I know I didn't get to talk with all the people I wanted to. The only annoyance is all the fun music we had to play didn't happen. The restaurant said the sound system broke but I just reckon it was a comment on our taste in music.

I'm playing WoW again with my beloved wife and gaming together is even sweeter than I thought it might be. The best part is that no-one feels excluded by it and the activity becomes something we can share. We sorta balance as well, I like discussing the strategy of the game and playing support characters while she likes wreaking havoc on anything that may drop shinies. I'm not really interested in how this might reflect our relationship. I am once again amazed by WoWs addictive nature that it could even snare her given her previous gaming experience was almost entirely pop-cap games and be-jewelled.

Lastly, DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist "The hard Sell (Encore)". A bizarre mix crafted live on stage from obscure antique vinyl. Quite possibly not to everyones taste but I adore it. Especially after the absolutely crap last album from DJ. Shadow "The Outsider" which I had to give away for fear its aura of crappiness would infect me.
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    well Duh.

(no subject)

A chair... a simple device on which to sit, how complex can it become.

Then you discover that there are effectively two types of chair in the world. The reasonably simple "padded board" chairs from officeworks at about 100-300$. All made in China, all looking fairly similar and lots of reports of breakage on web-sites. This is what I sit on currently and it's starting to give some alarming creaking noises.

Then there is another world. A strange place where 1000$ and more counts as a perfectly reasonably price for a chair. Symbols of dotcom excess like the Aeron and others from mysterious brands like Sedus, teknion and steelcase. Overly engineered, lots of curving metal, tensioned mesh, cryptically arranged levers and knobs, and fancy mechanical hearts allowing things like dynamically controlled recline. Heck, for a lot of them I have no idea how much they cost because the web-sites generally ask you to e-mail them so you can find out the actual price!

They might well be comfortable, sturdy and ergonomic enough to justify that price, although I suspect they have huge profit margins since the businesses are going to write part of the cost off on tax anyway. It would certainly be interesting to have an experimental sit. After all, you can't exactly feel the comfort of a chair from a picture. Good luck being able to do so in Perth though, most of these manufacturers don't even have Australian offices or distributors, let along anything in Western Australia. When I was young and innocent I assumed that if you have the money you'd be able to buy the product you wanted. Now I'm beginning to realize what is actually available (especially in WA) is only a tiny subset.

Is there a sweet spot somewhere in the middle, that's actually available? I haven't found it yet...
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    curious curious

Dante Valentine

A mind-wrenching series of books about a walking basket case and her tedious internal conflicts. There are occasional interludes of story in which a variety of people much cooler than she is "give her space" while protecting her from anything that would distract from her internal bitching and self loathing. She's meant to be the worlds greatest necromance, which from a story point of view means she's legally entitled to goth it up, but isn't actually useful. Her primary ability is annoying people with a complete lack of empathy, subtlety, self-preservation or ability to plan beyond the immediate. Having been converted into a hedaira (demon for "bit on the side") she has immense personal power which lets her brag about her golden skin and recover more quickly when she has a super-powered tantrum.

Sailor Moon (Season 1)

There are probably a bunch of anime which have just had waaaay too much influence amongst western anime fans. So much influence that one begins to wonder, despite the apparent failings of the material itself, just what managed to grab peoples minds. Three that stand out would have to be dragonball, sailor moon and probably pokemon. Titles that were huge in Asia, like doreamon, don't necessarily register, anime was largely invisible in that far off pre-robotech time. Pokemon probably doesn't really count either, it's continuing flurry of game tie-ins and merchandise make it obvious. But what of titles like Sailor moon? The title that launched a million cos-play disasters?

Well, having found good quality material to watch (and the original stuff, not the recut for US tv terror) I was still happy to let it sit and brood on a shelf. The idea of subjecting myself to such an immense number of episodes, of a dated series, aimed at young Japanese girls and best known for having an intensely irritating lead character was easily avoidable. However finding someone crazy enough to volunteer to watch the first season with me tipped the balance. It's going to take a while though.

So have I worked out what it is about this show that has given it such durability? Not really, but a couple of things do come to mind.

- The first is that the show ages quite reasonably. The action is all posing and repeated animation sequences after all, and the rest is just character work which doesn't really need flashy animation to work. The music is quite good, watching the three leads bounce off one another can be entertaining and Usagi's voice really is capable of peeling paint.

- The enemy fields a dark queen who goes a long way towards suggesting secret plans, even though she doesn't do a whole heap. She has a sequence of bishounen generals, disposed of when they fail too often / get boring, who have somewhat different tactics. And those generals summon a freakish monster of the week for the girls to defeat. The action itself is boring, the girls really don't have an immense range of tactical options (poor ami and her unexciting bubble-bath attack) but it does get a decent sense of horror / threat going. The monsters are pretty nasty looking, some of their schemes are quite cruel and it honestly does seem like they are doing their best to really splatter the sailor senshi. They almost remind me of devilman, and are really quite shounen monsters for such a series. Was sailor moon the first magical girl show to have truly monstrous opponents? I know the first magical girl series did not have such oppositional focus.

- Usagi is immensely annoying. This does help somewhat to draw other people, including the other sailors, out as they react to her being off the wall. But I also wonder if her being so boyish, and flawed, is actually part of her popularity. Did her flaws allow fans to see her as someone they could potentially replace? Or is it that she's such an antithesis to the ideal Japanese female that it was all rather exciting at the time? She certainly is somewhat impressive in the scope of her flaws, especially her interactions with her mother.

- And of course, there's the outfits. Near naked transformation sequences, suspiciously busty 14 year olds and extremely short skirts yet relatively simple designs and an extremely recognisable motif go a long way to explain the cosplay popularity. This is assisted by the fact that much of the action consists of nicely staged, but relatively static, poses.

I must say, however, that the eye-catch still scares me. When entering into the adverts a spotlight scans the screen until it highlights sailor moon. That's fine, no problem, but the all male chorus of "sailoooor mooooon" when she is highlighted is frightening. It reeks of fanboy, and those rather older than 14.

Oh well, will be interesting... I hope.

Also bought myself a keyboard. 60$ US + the same in postage (ouch!) in order to buy a modern reproduction of a 20+ year old keyboard from the one place that still makes them. I hope they're as good as I remember them!
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    Silence... awaiting the clicking of keys.
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Vanguard.... not.

I'm currently playing Vanguard, the little MMORPG that couldn't. Well, playing is actually a little bit generous. Instead after the regular patch through the middle of every WA evening I still had enough time to fit in four opportunities for the game to crash. A little freeze and then you're back at the desk top. The game isn't even capable enough to detect an error, it just falls over without a sound. This is actually a new opportunity, the game was initially stable (but so sluggish) and each patch has introduced ever more instabilities as the developers hack around in a desperate attempt to streamline the beast. What a mess.

The joke is that this game took 5 years of development and consumed 30 million US dollars yet it's still a mess. An engine that doesn't work, immense amounts of empty scenery that seems haphazardly and randomly constructed and so little content that the only universal thing is the emptiness. I can see someone enjoyed making the cities, they're huge, which means they're not realistic and combined with the lack of content means they're not fun. The only challenge is finding your way out of them and never visiting again. The dungeons are much the same, endless huge caves full of a handful of mob models. Each element in the game is carefully tuned to grind you to the edge of tedium. The end game... well, it's just not there yet. The developers are desperately trying to keep people busy while they work out what the plan is, but with the low numbers they'll run out of money and time before they achieve anything novel.

So why am I playing? because my friends in Melbourne are, and a MMORPG is a good way to keep in contact with em. I just wish they'd picked some other virtual world to occupy.
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    tap tap tap.

The Outsider...

My web page has vanished. It'll be back soon. The web hosting has always been a little bit odd. Friend of a friend of a friend with no direct communication. So things like the current example, where the page just vanishes without warning, tend to happen. Going to be getting some new hosting somewhat closer to home and a little bit more featured. Ideally some more reviews as well... some blogs to come on what's been keeping me occupied in the place of writing some, outside of my everpresent slackness and the shock of being a sarariman.

I've also been listening to the DJ shadow album. It certainly is different, and there's no shortage of people ripping into it for lacking character, being regressive and schizophrenic in the sounds it includes. I think the main difference is that this isn't really a DJ shadow album at all. Sure, he produced it, but his touch is submerged far into the background, possibly to avoid competing with all the guest artists who take the starring roles in the tracks. Thus if it was sold as a compilation album, a bunch of artists, it would probably get a much fairer judgement. I'd still hate it, because rapping about "the hood" just doesn't interest me and Hyphy sounds like some weird and stupid hip-hop derivative, but then that wouldn't matter because I wouldn't have bought it. However if you buy it as a DJ shadow album you're struggling to hear any signature, new or old, coming through the music on this CD. Thus, ultimately, while it might not suck in an absolute sense it's certainly a form of false advertising and one to avoid buying on the strength of his name.

The new Cut Chemist album, "The Audience is listening" is pretty damn cool though, especially on a portable player. And lemon jelly continues to amuse.
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    The robots are coming! (cut chemist)
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