Archive for August, 2003

New Gehry Wickedness

Can I get a HOT DAMN for Frank Gehry‘s latest?
It’s the Disney (okay, Disney sucks, but still…) Concert Hall in LA and it involves a lot of holy freaking wow!

The Times has a story as well as a super sexy slideshow. I’m in love with what he did for Paul Allen’s Shrine to Hendrix, I’m dying to get out to Bilbao, and now I have to go back to LA!

image grabbed from the times online

Doom Who?

Missed this cartoon a while back. Not particularly nice! Hopefully Id will rise to the challenge, but Half Life 2 is certainly looking like the game to beat. Once again, it’s all about masterfully orchestrated moments (video), but the gravity gun and pheromones sure don’t hurt. Is Id a bit worried? Well, the correlation of their release date push and Valve’s SICK showing at e3 provides a little fodder for…uhm…conversation.

At any rate, it looks like Valve will get their baby out this year so we’ll see how much interest remains when Id’s monster rumbles into town in 2004…

Lights Out, Georgie!

After sleeping in the lap of Amtrak luxury on Thursday (these guys tucked me in) and missing all the city fun, things are slowly getting back to normal. How about a little Bush bodyslam courtesy of a recent Economic Policy Institute press conference to get the blood pumping again? As quoted by the Times

Mr. Akerlof, a 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, bluntly declared on Tuesday that “the Bush fiscal policy is the worst policy in the last 200 years.” Speaking at a press conference arranged by the Economic Policy Institute, Mr. Akerlof, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said, “Within 10 years, we’re going to pay a serious price for such irresponsibility.”

Also participating in the institute’s press conference was Robert Solow, an economist and professor emeritus at M.I.T. who is also a Nobel laureate. He assailed the Bush tax cuts as “redistributive in intent and redistributive in effect.” “There has been a dissipation of the huge budget surplus,” he said, “and all we have to show for that is the city of Baghdad.” (full transcript pdf)

Now that’s gotta sting even the elite force aviator.

Challenging Gameboy Music

Back in April, musicians meeting in Vienna and New York joined together at the Gameboy Music Match to ask themselves a question: rather than use conventional instruments to express ourselves, what would happen if we used Nintendo Gameboys? Those who expect that this would involve suffering simplistic bloops and bleeps for hours on end will be surprised — it’s quite clever stuff and speaks to the ways musicians constantly challenge themselves. Participant Chris Burke puts it this way: “With extremely limited tools, it forces you to be more creative. You have very distinct boundaries set up around you and you try to get more creative — you set pans, you play with a filter, you try to be really fast with moving your thumbs so you can make it interesting for the people listening and also for yourself.”

I’m sorry I missed being there live, but fortunately The Next Big Thing was! They have coverage with really great narration (look for “Hot GameBoy Music Club” halfway down the page). Direct realaudio link here. For those who want to put some sight with the sounds, Bitshifter has made video of a fun improvised match available.

Here Comes the Rain Again

This is starting to get flat out stupid. I was okay with it raining all spring when it looked like the summer would avoid sweltering heat and humidity, but now the rain’s back and it shows no sign of letting up. Ouch. At least the Times can put a cynical smile on. Welcome to summer in the city, folks…

image grabbed from the times online

What’s Going On Mekon?

I’ve been revisiting Amplitude a bit lately and I have to say I find it just as engaging as I did the first time I brought that shiny box home. It just feels so good. That’s my real metric for a great game — are you playing to see the next cut scene, level, boss, story chapter, etc. or do the basic mechanics of the game feel so right that none of that really matters? The former can be engaging, but the latter makes you golden in my book. Amplitude fits squarely in that second category. Comparisons to Tetris come to mind…

For those who don’t know, Amplitude (along with its predecessor Frequency) is a music game that attempts to evoke the feeling of playing a musical instrument. Using a deceptively simple three buttons on the ps2 controller, players start from a base of background music and literally build songs track-by-track by “playing” the instruments. It’s not a complex notion, but the way it’s implemented is like digital crack. I still have trouble putting it down.

Oh, and did I mention online play? Amplitude includes a wicked competitive online mode where players construct a song together, a headcutting mode where two players trade-off challenges for each other, and a collaborative remix mode where players jam and cooperatively build a song from scratch. The combination is nothing short of a knockout.

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