Friday, May 3, 2013

No, I'm Not Dead...

...I've just been quiet lately. While some parts of the country might be still be getting snow and rain, around here we've been hit with summer-like heat. It's reached the high 90s this week, which is a little scary for late April/early May. Thus, I've been hit with both a major case of the lazies, and an epidemic of weeds in my back yard. Chrontendo has been moved to the back burner for a moment.

In the time since I last posted, we've experienced a series of national disasters and high-profile deaths. Obviously, we've been hit with the non-stop media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings over the last couple weeks, as well as the inevitable epidemic of ridiculous conspiracy theories. For those who are smart enough to avoid such nonsense, the three main threads seem to be this:

President Obama is secretly behind the bombings. Somehow, actual elected officials have touted this theory, including a New Hampshire state legislator. Alternately, some folks claim that a random student of Saudi descent who was injured in the bombings is the real perpetrator. This is Glen Beck's theory.  And, of course, numerous asshats in the media have revealed their complete ignorance of the US legal system, in particular, a defendant's 5th Amendment rights. Apparently, these people interpret a federal judge following federal law in a criminal case as "Obama/US Justice Department is secretly in league with terrorists."

As a person whose been around for a few years, I can assure you: the American media was not always as crazy as it is today. I blame the internet.

"It's my happening...."
The most notable celebrity death in April was that of Roger Ebert. I've always had mixed feelings about Ebert. At the time of his death, he was the most famous film critic alive; in fact, he was probably the only film critic well known to the general populace. Towards the end of his life, he was respected, almost revered, as the dean of American film criticism.  Those of you with longer memories, however, might remember that Ebert was once the poster boy for the death of film criticism.
The '50s and '60s begat a golden age of American movie critics.  Stanley Kauffmann, Pauline Kael, Manny Farber, and perhaps the greatest of all, Andrew Sarris, all reached large audiences at a time when movie criticism could be taken very seriously. A review from a high-profile writer like Sarris or Kael could make or break a film's reputation and even effect its box-office success (as amazing as that sounds today.) These guys were all "serious," intellectual critics and often delved into the philosophical and aesthetic qualities of movie-making. Ebert, while a very good writer, tended to review movies based on his own personal taste, rather than offering a deep analysis of the films he was writing about. In the 1970s, he and Gene Siskel were accused of dumbing down film criticism by reducing it to a simple "thumbs up, thumbs down" formula. I can see the anti-Ebert crowd's point: can you imagine, say, art critics adapting such a system?

Of course, Ebert (and Siskel) also helped popularize the very notion of a film critic. Probably every younger film critic working today were inspired by "At the Movies/Sneak Previews." Compared to the idiot writing reviews in your local newspaper/alt weekly mag, Ebert was a goddamned modern-day Montaigne. His writing was always fun to read, and part of that fun was just how infuriatingly wrong he could be times. In his later years, he became bizarrely fond of terrible films; you might recall his 3 1/2 star review of Revenge of the Sith, or picking crap like Crash and frickin' Juno as the best films of their respective years.

Regardless of his supposed crimes against film criticism, I would give Ebert a lifetime pass for two things: writing the scripts for Russ Meyer movies such as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and his wonderful, classic reply to Rob Schneider in response to Schneider's attack on Patrick Goldstein. (I might also add Ebert's classic burn on Vincent Gallo after Gallo called him fat.)

In more death news, two talented local music legends died recently. If there are any metalheads out there, you have probably heard that Chi Cheng, bassist for the Deftones, finally succumbed from complications resulting from his 2008 car crash. He'd spent most of the last five years in a coma, though he was briefly released from the hospital last year. A lot of folks around here always held on the hope that Cheng would some day, somehow, get better. His death is a huge fucking tragedy for the Sacramento music world, ranking right up there with the 1986 killing of another local music god, Victor Wong (who was also Asian, but I suppose that's a story for another day.)

Truth be told, it's been many years since I've seen the Deftones perform - it was sometime back in the '90s. They had the luck (misfortune?) to hit it big just as many other, much worse "nu-metal" bands were becoming popular. Somehow, they got lumped in with such musical shitfests as Korn and Limp Bizkit, despite pre-dating those bands by several years.  As much as I hate the music of Korn, etc, I must admit many of those bands stood by Chi after his accident and raised funds for his family's medical expenses.  So, I'll openly admit the dudes from Korn, Hatebreed, Slipknot, Sevendust, etc, etc, must be wonderful human beings, regardless of the music they make.

More low profile was the death of Scott Miller, of Game Theory and Loud Family. Game Theory was one part of the thriving Davis musical scene of the '80's, and were somewhat connected to the whole "Paisley Underground" scene of that era (related acts: Thin White Rope, True West, Dream Syndicate.) Among a certain set of aficionados, Game Theory's 1986 album Lolita Nation is one of the finest underground records of the 1980s. Good luck finding a copy for a reasonable amount of money nowadays. Full disclosure: Dr. Sparkle went to school in Davis, and is somewhat predisposed towards Davis-related stuff.

Finally, here's the part of the post you really care about:

Chronturbo 4 is almost done. It's mostly recorded and edited. I don't have an exact date, but I hope to get some work done this weekend (assuming I am not overwhelmed by yard work.)


Brain Breaker said...

I'm shamefully late to the Chrontendo party, but I just wanted to post here to commend you for your efforts, as you've done a fantastic job all around with these things. Of course, I'd heard about it a while back, but I only recently started watching. It's become something of an obsession now, as I'm marathoning the episodes and reading all the older blog entries. But I have started having these recurring dreams that I'm trapped inside the world of "Super Monkey Daibouken", so maybe I should stop for a while...?

Regarding Sacramento metal, the band that stands out to me was the great Sentinel Beast, but I also remember a couple of minor thrash acts (Redrum and Rabid). Then again, I'm very much an 80s-obsessed grumpy old man when it comes to metal, just like video games.

In closing, I'd just like to mention that this whole "chronogaming" approach to game history has inspired me to try something similar, but using my collection of old Japanese game magazines (circa '85-'89) to sort of cover the same territory, but from the printed-page side of things. Not sure how I'm going to do it yet (maybe as a pdf e-zine or something like that), but hopefully I'll have something ready later this year.

Skymaster T said...

The most memorable Ebert review to me was from Congo. He insisted it was a comedy, and a successful one at that, and Ernie Hudson in his role reminded him of Clark Gable. Hilarious! You will be missed, Roger.

Unknown said...

I've always been a big Ebert fan. His reviews usually matched my opinions of the film pretty closely. He was more a populist reviewer and not to pretentious or avante garde or whatever. And his statement about games not being art really didn't bother me because for the most part I agree. At least the majority of games anyway. He wasn't afraid to reccomend a Holywood blockbuster that had no real artistic value if it was an entertaining and fun movie to watch.

Anyway I was kind of disappointed when the Arizona senators were calling for an American citizen to be classified as an enemy combatant and a terrorist. It is a slippery slope. But I supose anytime any kind of public incident happens now we should expect all sides to cry out and blame each other and politizeze it. It must be an Arab, Muslim, right wing extremist, false flag operation etc. or a missing college student that had nothing to do with it. Oh and then the debates on both sides about constitutional rights being violated. And funny how some people I talk to want to take away the bombers rights and at the same time complain about illegal search and seizures of Water town residences and the their right being taken away and the desensitizing of the Aerican public to having our rights taken away for the coming police FEMA pacification. Whatever. I blame the Internet too. It used to be media would filter the news and people who knew the issues and what they were talking about would be heard. Now every idiot conspiracy theorist has a voice and can connect on the Internet and somehow be taken for authoritative news.

Also there was a new Mega drive emulator released called Exodus.

Supposedly the first cycle accurate Mega drive emulators which accurately reproduces the sound, video processor and CPU exactly along with exact timings to emulate tricks some games used to update the VDP mid routine etc that aren't accurately emulated anywhere else. You need a powerful PC to run it but supposedly the platform is modular so,ther systems would be able to be added by plugging in modulesmf processors in that system. Wen I say resource hungry it really needs at peat 4 core system as its indecently emulation each chip. Ts only a 1.0 release but it ran all the games I tried on it great. But no frills right now lie the Kega output filters etc. but for programmers it has a full debug mode and other technical stuff that would have zero interest to most gamers. But it does seem to do what it emulating the Mega drive with no shortcuts or workarounds. Wrth checking out.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Brain Breaker - Sentinel Beast was a bit before my time in terms of live shows, but I checked online and apparently they are back together! Their Facebook page calls them a "Bay Area" band, so it appears they've moved on.

The Japanese game magazine thing sounds pretty cool, so definitely give me an update when its ready to go.

As for Exodus, I have absolutely not heard of it until this point, but I will try it out. My CPU is overclocked, so I assume it can handle it...

Skymaster T said...

Thanks for introducing me to Game Theory, Dr. S. I'd never heard of them before. Good stuff.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Skymaster T - Good. Next step is to study actual game theory:

Skymaster T said...

Interesting, Dr.S. As fun as it sounds to digest that information immediately, I've already got my hands full with my Computer Networking and Security classes, lol.

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