Requiem for the iPod Classic

23 06 2010

The iPod can essentially be thanked (or cursed) for accelerating Apple’s renaissance and rise into the technological (evil) empire it has become today. Sure, having Steve Jobs come back, and making your computers fruity colored and aesthetically pleasing helped, but the iPod provided the general public an object relatively cheap enough where everyone in middle America could own one, but expensive enough to make it into a status symbol.

The iPod has evolved from a (then) small MP3 player that could hold 5 gigabytes of music (which, in 2001, was, like, a bajillion CDs!), to a new product line that is arguably now Apple’s (and AT&T in America’s) prize horse: the iPhone. Its fourth generation is due in stores tomorrow, and people who pre-ordered have, for the most part, received them now.

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Television (Review): Gravity

21 06 2010

Always interesting, sometimes cheesy, and slightly abstract are some ways to describe Gravity’s strong points. Gravity is a little show nearing the end of it’s first season on Starz. For those of you this may come as a shock… Firstly, Starz is a real channel… Secondly, they have their own programing. You’ve probably seen a promo or two for one of their other series, Party Down, which follows the exploits of a catering crew (and toted Glee’s Jane Lynch as a regular member for season one and Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally in the current season) or heard of their series Crash, which deals in the same subject matter as the identically named movie.  Anyway, back to the subject at hand: Gravity details a group of suicide ‘dummies’ – a ragtag group of suicide attempters who have been forced into a support group. The show centers on the budding relationship of Lily and Robert, as well as the exploits of the rest of the group.

While this show could do much better on a different network with better funding (see the success of other quirky shows on well known premium networks, like HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’ or Showtime’s mildly-accessible ‘Dead Like Me’), the oddball cast shines through the sometimes poorly written scripts and generally confusing plot-lines. The cast literally covers a wide range of stereotypes for those on the verge of suicide: A successful ophthalmologist who lost his perfect wife, a daddy-issue-toting lonely beauty, a washed up spokes-model, a stepford wife who has a perfectly boring life, a teenage misfit, a former baseball player who lost the pennant, and a construction worker with a small penis. [Okay, the last one isn’t exactly cliche…] I forgot to mention an obsessive, overly-forward, yoga-practicing, gambler of a detective who seems drawn to the beautiful female protagonist, Lily. I can honestly say that I love all these characters equally and they are beautifully performed by their respective players.

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Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

18 06 2010

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris

David Sedaris is a well-known author of strange essays. I suppose that’s the best way to frame him and this collection: quite strange and quite entertaining. The essays are straightforward slices of the bizarre, touching on schizophrenia, death, and strange solicitations from people who pick up hitchhikers. Sedaris matter-of-factly presents each scene to his audience, describing each bizarre situation and extravagant character from his life with a dry sort of with that eases the reader comfortably into each absurdity, making it easy to accept them as the reality of the novel.

On a purely shallow level this book is very easy to read. The tone is conversational, as if you were listening to a story told by a very sarcastic friend who has lived a relatively quirky life. There are some truly hilarious parts– the sicker your sense of humor, the more of these seem to crop up.

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Discuss! Music for the Moment

15 06 2010

Let’s get this blog talking!

As you’re reading this very sentence think about a song (or let us know what you’re listening to *right now*) that meshes with your current mood/state.

I’m listening to Jónsi’s ‘Go Do‘. He’s the lead singer of Sigur Rós – so the music style is similar to what they normally put out, albeit, incredibly uplifting. If you’re having a bad day, it’s a great tune to listen to. And if you’re having a great day, it’s an excellent soundtrack. I’m having the latter. 😀

Book Review: The Satanic Verses

10 06 2010

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie

Anyone familiar with this book will know that this is pretty much the father of modern controversial literature. Banned in several countries and causing the first instance in which a government publicly called for the death of a private individual, resulting in the death of a little more then 40 people to date, ‘The Satanic Verses’ has certainly caused quite a stir in the Muslim community.

‘Verses’ opens with the story of two Indian actors who have survived an explosion of a hijacked plane over the English Channel. After the fall, both actors begin a metamorphism. Gibreel Farishta, the easygoing and womanizing, Bollywood actor who specializes in playing Hindu gods takes on the characteristics of the archangel Gibreel. Contrastingly, Salidan Chamcha, the strict and uptight voice actor, is dead set on escaping his Indian heritage to fully embrace anglicization, takes on the characteristics of a demon, even so far going as growing horns and hoofed feet.

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Games: VVVVVV Quick Review

7 06 2010

Being an avid gamer, I am always willing to try quirky titles when I have the chance. Today I stumbled across VVVVVV, and it definitely fits into that category. The graphics and audio present in the game will remind you of something from the 8-bit era, with simple controls to boot. Don’t take this game lightly, though, or it will be sure to give you a thorough beating. Be warned, this isn’t an easy game and you will die often.

Title Screen

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The Direction of Media

6 06 2010

On May 18, 2010, a video game  I’ve personally been waiting since mid-2005 for came out. It’s named for it’s main character, a fiction writer named Alan Wake. While the game has been a joy for me to play, it’s represented a major shift in gaming. I began playing games over 15 years ago and the delivery method of content itself has gone through several iterations.

Alan Wake comes packaged with six ‘episodes’, all of which are around two hours long. This makes for a short game (which only touts single player, I might add) with the promise of more content – three more episodes for 2010. Alan Wake is the first game I can think of, besides music games, which will rely on consumers buying the initial product and sticking around for the add-ons. Yes, this has been done before in more vague terms; most notably, in my mind, being Borderlands, which uses a similar principle. But I feel that Alan Wake is difference because it’s not going to be ‘bonus’ material, the future downloadable content will effect the plot of the game – to a large extent. In past years (especially the 2000’s), gamers have been met with oodles of sequels, which in reality is that era’s reaction to systems and delivery method in general (now you can download updates on your console). We are getting to a point where we don’t need to add a number to the end of a game to continue the story, we just have to connect to the internet then spend some arbitrarily dedicated “points”/money on new content.

In just five years (2005-2010), the gaming industry (as well as music) has begun to change from traditional long forms to instant, short forms. Where will things be in another five?

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