Tag Archives: pop culture

PCP: William Fitzsimmons

Monotony Monday #25 – More Melon-choly

Sweet as a Persimmon, Full of Emotional Dig Ins

The short of it: He’s got a voice like a flower dying in the growing cold and lyrics much better than that simile. 

I originally discovered William Fitzsimmons through an old site that was the equivalent to StumbleUpon for indie music. The first track I heard was his cover of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (acoustic covers of pop/hit songs was still a fresh idea at the time).
It was delightful and I gave it a heart or scrobble or whatever, meaning more of his stuff popped up in my feed. This led to some new favorites and a whole new way to complement my teen melancholy.
The entire album, that cover aside, is just beautiful. Derivatives is a weird place to start with Fitzsimmons, being that it’s remixes and redos. Fitzsimmons has this incredibly personal method of storytelling, allowing his breathy, gentle voice to trail on these vulnerable moments as the songs either build to a crescendo or fall into an echo.
But that doesn’t mean Derivatives isn’t a great start anyway. “You Still Hurt Me” is probably the biggest winner, and it’s the most indicative of his style.
Of course, “Goodmorning (Pink Ganter Remix)” offers a genuinely good way to wake up with this catchy little synth under Fitzsimmons’ gentle voice.
But like I said, there’s a lot of pain and hurt in his songs. The album Goodnight, from front to back, is all songs for feeling worse in all the right ways. “Everything Has Changed” creates this pit in your heart for a family you’ll never know and that Fitzsimmons will never see again. “You Broke My Heart” forces you to follow the cracks that follow a broken family.
I think I need to go lay down in the shower after revisiting all of this.

 

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PCP: Shadow of War

Fun Fridayz #24 – Fire and Freedom

Mordor’s War Opens Doors, Expands the Floor, and Leaves Us Wanting More

The short of it: It’s more of what made the original great, with just a few stagnant stumbles to slow it down. 

There’s basically three major points of discussion for this game:

  1.  The game itself
  2. The lootbox debacle
  3. The role and appearance of women

Well technically…

It runs pretty great. It looks just a little bit better than its predecessor, but it feels a lot smoother. The facial animations are fantastic, the character animations and motion performances are just delightful to watch.

The most pressing problem I run into is character pop in after fast travelling. With a lot of emphasis on the bow as a tool, it makes it feel a bit useless when you have to wait out the orc load time to skip manually climbing up a cliff face. Other than that, though, nothing really performs poorly.

Once again, the story’s been pretty mediocre. It’s doing an okay job of building up the tension between Talion and Celebrimbor, but it’s more obvious than an orc ambush. There’s certainly more allies and actually interesting NPCs, which surprisingly works in the face of being a death-defying god. These regular people and orcs with their regular Middle-earth problems offer a different side of Talion– I think my personal favorite moment so far has been Talion sitting back and listening to a guy talk about his personal problems and worries. Just a casual type of buddy interaction. It doesn’t drastically impact the story or up the stakes. It’s just Talion getting the chance to be human again.

Boxtroversy

Yeah, there are lootboxes. Yeah, you can blow cash on them for premium items that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming to do. And yeah, lootboxes need to be discussed as a form of gambling and appealing to children and those with addictions.

But man, it’s barely a thing here. The best you can get is something you can just stumble upon in the massive field of orc captains. It’s a waste of game to roll on these boxes. I’m drowning in currency without ever equipping any currency generating items. The premium currency is pretty consistently accidentally acquired through daily challenges, and I’ve yet to spend any of it.

I think the worst part of this whole thing is just how many bad buzzwords are sunk in these systems. Gems, gold coins, silver coins, legendary, epic, heroic, followers, daily challenge: all of these are garbage.

Forming a Feel for the Female Form

Alright, that’s not a great subhead.

But here’s the thing: I need to finish this game to truly see how this game handles its women. There was some argument about Shelob’s female form, and it made sense at the time. Why make the giant spider into a sexy lady? Well, it actually serves a pretty good knock against Talion’s hero complex. Like a spider, she lures him into this web by preying on his weakness for women. Of course, Talion’s complex is deeper than a hero stereotype due to the fact that he watched his wife die as he watched, powerless. And again, this is such a deeper debate than initially expected because it shifts the power dynamic that’s typically so one-sided.

And then there’s the sexy tree lady. And the woman soldier who apparently earns her title of “Warrior” by superseding her femininity (“She’s no longer a woman, she’s a warrior!”).

So I’ll be back for this one. I’ve got to get my corkboard and yarn ready.

PCP: Stick Fighters vs. Snakes

Watching Wednesday #24 – Well Rounded

I took most of this week off, so I’ve been trying to do some recovery type stuff to feel better physically and emotionally. Part of that has been, admittedly, just lazing about and enjoying some good ol’ fashioned media. Berserk continues to be a fascinating, disturbing journey and Shadow of War is still pretty fun and all.

This is a simpler pleasure. It’s a neat little indie game (made by a frequent poster on the /r/gamephysics subreddit ) played by some neat dudes with some neat editing.

I mean, it’s got a “Guns that only shoot snakes” mode and some friends having genuine fun.

PCP: Bang Bang

Monotony Monday #24 – More Memories

Bang Bang for Your Buck

The short of it: It’s just a dope track with a sweet sample. 

Young Buck’s life has been pretty rough the past few years. IRS raids, shootings, prison, and property auctions are just a few of the hardships he’s faced.

That list doesn’t even include his exile from and eventual rejoining of G-Unit. Of course, that’s a whole issue besides the beef– he’s a dude best known for being a part of 50 Cent’s crew. He isn’t a well-known name anymore in today’s waves of Soundcloud and social media rappers, and, for the most part, he’s a forgotten part of the early aughts scene.

And it’s a damn shame because he made some dope music.

The sample of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” makes a beautiful hook and those little strings just make this track hit that sweet, moody spot. Buck delivers with this serious, unhappy tone that compliments the almost sad brags that make up the reality of a life that can end with a single bang.

PCP: Westworld

Watching Wednesday #23 – Wicked Ways

The Wild Wild West (We’re Going Straight to)

The short of it: Pro: excellent plot, storytelling, music, acting, choreography, setting. Con: No giant steampunk spiders

Fine, I’ll say it. Westworld kicks off harder than Game of Thrones.

To be fair, androids broaching sentience and a park for the darkest of human desires is easier to sell than medieval political intrigue. Both have plenty of radical murders though.

Westworld delivers this puzzle that leaves you grasping at straws rather than pieces, because it can’t be that obvious. And then it is. Then it isn’t.

My edge lord description of it is “It’s like if Jurassic Park had androids and didn’t suck.” The idea of a whole “world” dedicated to man’s recreation of life is fascinating; the fact it’s a world meant for amusement, not reflection or evolution, opens up a whole new level of questions.

PCP: Ramin Djawadi’s “Paint It Black”

Monotony Monday #23 – Morphing Maniacal Melodies

A Fresh Coat of Paint It Black

The short of itWestworld manage to reinvigorate one of the most tired covers out there by pairing it with near perfect choreography. 

So I just started watching Westworld (guess what’s coming up for WW #23) and holy smokes, cowboy. It’s hard to turn off, partially because of its captivating performances and stories and partially because I accidentally kicked the remote out of reach.

Point is, it’s really good. Some of the scenes are just so masterfully composed that I keep replaying them in my head. The foremost scene that’s been on a loop in my brain is the heist scene.

Everything is just so radical. The quick spins during gunfire, the sweet lines, and, most of all, that kickass rendition of “Paint It Black.”

Let’s be honest though, it’s a song with one too many covers.

From the good,

to the okay,

to the no-one-asked-for-this version.

Point being, this song is very easy to screw up in its application. It’s pretty tired as a song itself; hell, there’s basically an entire game based on the song.

So when the heist scene rolls up and those woodwinds and horns start swelling, damnit, it makes sense that it costs $40,000 a day to stay in Westworld. Rodrigo Santoro’s handsomely scarred face and killer black outfit make him the outlaw of everyone’s dreams, especially when backed by Djawadi’s composing. Everything in this scene just works so well. It’s got me unironically humming that “dun dun dun dun dun dun” every second I’m not watching Westworld.

 

PCP: Trials Fusion

Fun Fridayz #20 -Frenzied Flash Feels

A Fusion of Fun and Frustrations

The short of it: It’s got wheels, and they run wild.

Once again, I get my dose of gaming variety through the Games with Gold program.

Trials is arguably a classic of the seventh generation. It was a flagship of the Xbox Arcade and a standard of any Let’s Player of the past few years.

And it’s fine. It’s like every bit of gameplay you’ve seen from it or its predecessors. It’s fun enough and checks all its boxes.

The problem I run into is the delayed satisfaction– or at the very least, the delayed possibility of satisfaction. I admit to being obsessed with achievements, despite the fact that I still haven’t broke 100,000. Yet.

Trials’ campaign of sorts is a series of worlds, each with their own levels and minigames. Each level comes with three varying challenges, like don’t tilt backwards, do a 50m wheelie, run over all the flowers, or do five flips. Here’s the thing: not all of these challenges are immediately accomplishable. I spent far too long on the first world, only to find out that I couldn’t do certain moves until I advanced. Then the same thing happened again in the next world. I kept having to earn new licenses to learn to new tricks to beat challenges in levels in earlier worlds.

It’s a minor complaint about a longstanding way to teach gameplay mechanics in consumable bites. But it still grinds my gears.

PCP: Creed

Watching Wednesday #20 – Whambamwhammy

With Gloves Wide Open

The short of it: Without a single weak actor, Creed goes 12 rounds with Rocky’s story beats and comes out on top. 

It’s genuinely impressive how many things Creed does right. For one, its fights are thrilling, with few cuts and even fewer of the obvious misses/bad coreography of the preceding films that gave them far less impact.

The music is another knockout. It’s full of heavy hitters, both new school (Future, Meek Mill, Vince Staples) and old (Nas is on this, like c’mon that’s dope). The tracks are all these perfect snippets of hype that tread the same territory as older tracks.

I think that’s what’s so impressive about this movie. Unlike the rest of the Rocky’s tendency towards brain-off, predictable rides, Creed comes full force as a story. The roller coaster is the same, but the new cart makes a world of difference.

PCP: Joyce Manor

Monotony Monday #20 – Maybe Manor

Ode to Joyce

The short of it: Well, they are the short of it.

Joyce Manor is an emo indie rock outfit with four albums under their belt, giving them a total run time of about 80 minutes. Every album ends up just around 20 minutes, meaning they managed to cram a whole lot of music in a surprisingly small amount of time.

The result is a discography full of songs as catchy as they are short. None of them ever overstay their welcome, even if a few end suddenly. “Heart Tattoo” off their third album is pretty decent example of what to expect: a frantic instrumental with a passionate poem, with a crazy catchy chorus to infect the listener in the song’s brief runtime.

Punchy and poignant, they manage to balance a good amount of emotions in their little runtime. From the nostalgic melancholy (“In the Army Now”) to melancholic nostalgia (“Beach Community”).

Simply put, they’re a joy.

Ce manor.

PCP: Salty Bet

Watching Wednesday #19 – Whack-y

Bet on It, Na What I Mean

The short of it: It’s all the satisfaction of watching those fantasy character fights with none of the boring commentary and all of the actual fighting. 

Salty Bet is a constantly streaming pseudo-gambling site running the M.U.G.E.N. fighting engine. It pits two computer-controlled characters from pretty much every medium, from manga to Sega Saturn games, against one another in a best of five match.

It’s often a series of lightning quick exchanges, the two sprites darting back and forth before becoming wrapped in the other’s combos. Occasionally a match will simply devolve into a stomp fest, with one character easily sweeping the other. Sometimes it’s a bad matchup or a broken character, like a custom Aladdin that uses a sprite from a GBA game for movement and a secondary sprite from a Sega Genesis game for sword based attacks that go full screen.

So it’s a crapshoot. And that’s the best part of it.

The randomness of the matches, combined with the high possibility of upsets and the hyperbole of Twitch chat, makes it a hell of a lot of fun. It satisfies the curiousity of that inner combative nerd that needs physical validation of the quality of their favorite characters.