Archive for October, 2006

Nintendo’s problem

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Nintendo are trying to bring gaming into the mainstream, by making more accessible consoles and games that are something of a departure from the usual shooting aliens and killing goblins with magical swords and things. And they’re not doing too badly: sales of the DS are through the roof and even my grandparents were entertained by Nintendogs. The Wii is attracting attention from all corners of the media and their marketing has taken a distinctly Apple-esque “lifestyle” twist. But they have a problem.

The problem is not with the product – the product is good, it is accessible and people who wouldn’t normally play games are interested. The problem is with how they’re going to sell it: currently, the biggest games retailer – and therefore, presumably, Nintendo’s biggest potential source of sales – in the UK is Game. Game is a veritable temple to the traditional, unflattering image of the gamer: whilst they’ve made an effort to lighten up their stores of late, they’re still filled with sweaty, spotty teenage boys crammed around demo pods; they’re still staffed by condescending sixth-formers with dubious personal hygiene – they are utterly terrifying and alien to exactly the kind of people Nintendo want to sell to: my grandparents – hell, my parents and girlfriend – would never dream of setting foot inside a Game store. And so exactly the kind of person Nintendo want to sell to will be completely turned off by the retail channels through which they sell.

I don’t have a solution to this – other than Nintendo should lean more heavily on their “mainstream” distribution channels like WHSmith and Woolworths – but it’s something that I think could prove to be the biggest stumbling block to Nintendo bringing gaming to the masses; and sadly, it’s through no fault of their own.

The Economist on Nintendo: Playing a different game

Divine Comedy/Duke Special

Friday, October 27th, 2006

You know, I get the feeling Neil Hannon doesn’t take his job entirely seriously any more.

Halfway through the set, as one song ends and as the rest of the band strike up ready to play their next song, he suddenly scampers off stage and disappears for two or three minutes, leaving the band looking slightly panicked and confused, wondering what’s going on. But – never fear! He quickly returns, looking triumphant and holding aloft the can of Guinness he’d just run to his dressing room to retrieve. After a couple of seconds to pour his drink and regain his breath, he regains his composure and his luxurious baritone returns to caress our ears once again: In many ways, he is the archetypal mad drunken Irish balladeer: not entirely connected to reality, a temperamental relationship with God and the church and a knack for very clever, very witty, self-deprecating yet confident lyrics.

Support tonight comes from Duke Special, who goes from strength to strength with his quirky vaudevillian style: quite a departure, as Naomi keeps reminding me (and anyone else who will listen, up to and including Duke Special himself), from his early days playing at the Edrington Presbyterian Church 100th Anniversary. We spend a few minutes after the gig talking to him – behind the dreadlocks and eyeliner and vaudeville is a family man with a wife and three kids: Naomi now says we should move to Belfast so she could teach at the school his kids are at.

But despite Neil Hannon’s shambolics, the Divine Comedy still know exactly what they’re doing: they play a mix of new stuff and guaranteed crowd-pleasing classics like National Express and Becoming More Like Alfie (a personal favourite), skirting very close to but resisting the temptation to step over the line into novelty – there’s no Lovely Horse here – although, disappointingly, this also means there’s no Song of Love, either.

All in all, a lot of fun. One final gig left this week, and it could be the silliest and most fun of them all: the almighty Lordi, supported by the only heavy metal band in the world to feature an accordian, Turisas. Naomi is a little scared, but I think it could well prove to be the most fun ever. We shall see…

She’s Not Dead

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Day three of the Week Of Gigs and tonight it’s She’s Not Dead supported by AVI. She’s Not Dead are my friend Mairi’s boyfriend’s band, and AVI are Mairi’s youth group’s band (she’s a youth leader). I actually did PA for AVI on their very first gig in a pub carpark in Congleton – and boy, have they improved in leaps and bounds since then. They play sort of teen-punk/rock stuff, but they’ve actually taken the time to practise and arrange the songs, throwing in the odd solo, vocal harmonies and the like: much better than I’d ever expect a youth group band to be.

But the stars of the night are undoubtably She’s Not Dead: the thing is, right, when someone describes their friends’ band as sounding like Muse, that usually means they’re a whiney sub-Radiohead clone who have ideas above their station – you don’t expect them to actually play bombastic classical-influenced prog/indie-rock with soaring vocals and huge Rachmaninov-style piano solos. But She’s Not Dead are just that: you know the last song on Absolution? The big bombastic enormous one that brings the album to a shuddering climax? Well, they sound like that. All the time. What I’m trying to say is that they’re a bit good.

They’ve got a website and, predictably enough, a MySpace thingy. Maybe not all bands on MySpace are horrible, then.

Thanks a fucking bundle, Sony

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 Out of Business due to Multiple Sony Lawsuits, the popular gaming retailer from Hong Kong, has today announced that it is forced to close down due to multiple legal actions brought against it by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Fuck you, Sony.

Music music music

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

It’s been a good couple of days for music. First, last night’s Guillemots gig, which was totally tip-top-tastic and generally all-round ace. The disappointment of the first support act not making it was quickly turned over by Fyfe Dangerfield dragging the Guillemots’ saxophone player up on stage to play an improvised 15-minute avant-garde jazz set. Excellent. Their second support, the Last Town Chorus had made it, fortunately, because they were really jolly good, too – lush, slow, thick slightly country-tinged balladry, including a cover of David Bowie’s Modern Love which didn’t suck – it’ll be interesting to see them when they return later in the year playing smaller, more intimate venues, I think.

The Guillemots pretty much set the place on fire: the biggest headline gig of their career so far, and I don’t think I can recall a gig where I’ve seen so much love for a band before. The explosive reaction to Made Up Love Song #43 obviously took Fyfe back slightly as he grinned nervously at the crowd and said “You know what? I think it’s going to be a good night”. And yes, it was.

(all except for the utter fuckwad Russell-Brand-clone assholes stood next to me who talked – loudly – throughout the entire gig about how wasted they were the night before, how late they got up that morning, how they really shouldn’t be out tonight because they’ve got a lecture tomorrow afternoon, how they watched “some film, right, called Hotel, or something, about some like, hitchhikers who go to, yeah, Romania or Russia or Transylvania or something, and get all cut up and loads of sick shit happens, and man it’s so wrong, you should see it, yeah, it’s fucking awesome” and other such utter, total irrelevant self-indulgent wankery. If, by some miracle, you are one of that pair of small-minded tiny-penised cocktards and you’re reading this, then let it be known that I would happily watch you drown in a vat of your own excrement. Please, never, ever go to a gig again. Please.)

Anyway. Just went into to town to get some lunch and who do I bump into but Romeo from out of the Magic Numbers. No, really. He was stood outside Fopp and everything. I shook his hand and took a picture and he looked a bit confused. And then half an hour later, they played an acoustic set inside to promote their new single. Which was all rather exciting.

Video and stuff: Guillemots and Magic Numbers.

English 101

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Okay, this is basic stuff, people. Seriously. If a sentence contains the word “then” or “therefore”, it implies a continuation – that is, it depends on something that has been said previously in order that it may be understood correctly.

So, if you’re going to preach on a passage at church that includes the word “therefore” – such as, say, James 4:7-8:

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

– it might be handy to at least look at the preceding verses so you can understand what the passage is actually saying, as opposed to what you’re trying to make it mean.

Apparently, that passage is about the importance of being intimate with God, whatever the hell that means (Jesus is my boyfriend and I love him very, very much! Yay!) – because it says “Come near to God”, or something. Unless, of course, you read the preceding verses, in which case, I reckon it’s probably about humility and not valuing material things over the spiritual. But, y’know, that’s just me reading the passage in context without resorting to vague sentiment and handwringing emotion, so what do I know?

In other news, the Guillemots were absolutely awesome tonight, but I’m still a bit pissed off about church so my effusive praise for Fyfe Dangerfield and friends will have to wait until tomorrow.

The Lunchtime Project #2

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

So, next up – pretty pictures!

Every year or so, I stumble across a pretty picture rendered with POV-Ray and think “ooh, I wish I could do that”, which invariably prompts me to pull it out, play around for an hour or two and then get bored.

Anyway, below is the product of this year’s getting-bored-and-playing-around (click on the image for a full-sized version):

If you’re interested in that sort of thing, the source for this image is here, and yes, it is at least partially generated by a script.

Update – I’ve re-rendered the image with soft shadows: the original with the sharp shadows can be found here (thumbnail)

The Lunchtime Project

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Having been utterly astonished to find that Orion Platinum works under VMWare, I’ve spent the last couple of lunchtimes fiddling around with it. The idea is that I give myself the half hour or so it takes to eat my sandwich to come up with… well, something. Anything, really. The products of the last couple of days are:

LWTUA – a terrible, terrible 90s-dance-ish “remix” of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, inspired by the directory of 30 or so covers of the aforementioned song on someone’s computer here at work.

A Nice Song – a very, very noisy drum’n’bass thing which might sound a bit like something Aphex Twin might come up with, if he were utterly devoid of inspiration and only had half an hour.

A hiphop loop – pretty self-explanatory, really. I downloaded the massive 60MB guitar sample set from Synapse, and then horribly under-used them by making them into a little broken chord riff thing and some crappy R’n’B style beats.

You should be able to tell from that lot that I have difficulty with a) inspiration and b) knowing where to take an idea once I’ve had it. But hey, should I ever find myself in the opposite position of having a verse/chorus/bridge/end of song and not a beginning, I’ll have a nice big folder full of handy ideas. Woo.

P.S. I’m not dead.

When I needed a neighbour

Monday, October 9th, 2006

I knew my musical taste was confusing – heck, it keeps pairing me up with people who like Alanis Morisette, for pity’s sake. It seems that someone who likes everything from melodic Swedish death metal through the best British indie band in years to genre-defining electronic dance by way of Irish and English folk, Postrock, Drum’n’bass and, uh, J-Pop. Anyway, this week it seems to have completely given up and paired me up with, uh…. myself:

I’m clearly just too awesome for it. Yes.


Monday, October 9th, 2006

Iran is clearly evil: it’s a paradise for those most evil of evil people, snowboarders.

($7 a day for a lift pass, eh? Well, that’s next year’s skiing holiday sorted, imminent threat of nuclear holocaust or no)