Secondhand games and new consoles

Aside from Zelda Twilight Princess (completed yesterday), I've been buying a bunch of cheap secondhand Gamecube games.

This copy of Shrek 2 was one I bought since it's multi-player and suitable for my kids. I was surprised to find the copy that arrived was a new game and still in shrink-wrap.

It's the first new game I've bought in nearly six years of owning a secondhand Gamecube and it seemed an interesting coincidence that it arrived in the same week as reports that the next generation of consoles may not allow secondhand games.

I can understand that the companies who make games might be upset they don't receive money from these ongoing sales, after all it's an issue that artists have had to deal with -- don't you think Van Gogh would've liked to see some of the money his paintings now earn?

Look at the price on this game pictured above and consider that I paid one-tenth of this price on Ebay (again because it's a multi-player game suitable for my kids). Now consider I could've bought the game for a third of what I paid if I downloaded Super Monkey Ball 2 onto my Apple device.

On one hand I think it's really petty to limit consoles so they won't play secondhand games. It limits the functionality of the device and this will frustrate users. On the other, I can see this is a paradigm shift in terms of how content is delivered. Physical objects are giving way to digital information and I like Jeremy Denk's assessment on his blog.

While Nintendo could complain that I've bought a lot of their gear secondhand, it's been something of a gateway drug and has introduced my family to their intellectual property. Just look at the joy we got from Mario for one example.

Saul Bass

Since reading this article on Saul Bass' role in the famous shower scene in the film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock, I'd been looking for a book on his work. With money I got from my mum at Christmas I ordered this excellent book on Saul Bass, which arrived yesterday.

Haven't read much of it yet but am really taken with this design he made for the opening titles of Carmen Jones, which can be viewed below.

Australia Day

January 26 is Australia Day by virtue of being the date the First Fleet landed in 1788 and it's undergone a transformation in the last couple of decades. For a long time it was significant to me because it was the date of the Big Day Out concert in Sydney and I recall that when The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy played in 1993 they described it as Invasion Day and the label sorta stuck for a while.

Sometime in the late '90s I noticed this trend at the Big Day Out in Sydney for people to wear the Australian flag as a cape. If I were more patriotic I think I'd find this fashion to be disrespectful but, judging by the crass Australian-themed consumerism in my letterbox recently, there must be a number of people grateful this now exists as a product.

Frankly I'm amazed at the amount of stuff branded with the national flag and/or some underwhelming patriotic slogan. The irony is that most of it probably isn't manufactured in our country, so buying Australian must mean supporting some sweatshop somewhere else and contributes to our trade deficit or something.

I am grateful that the print advertisements for the public holiday that started under the Howard government have stopped though. They had these meaningless statements about the public holiday inferring a right to eat meat products prepared in a carcinogenic manner or a right to wear thongs. At many levels these seemed offensive since it was an example of Australians taxes being spent on trivial advertising and our country doesn't actually have a bill of rights.

Don't get me wrong, I love being Australian and living in this country but fervent nationalism should have no part in it.

I am grateful to have met Storry Walton, who shared with me a story of how his grandparents taught him to distinguish between love and pride for your country. They said you should love Australia like you would your child because it meant recognising your country can be wrong and require criticism, whereas pride was blind in allegiance.

Storry told me that as a child in Perth his Irish grandparents wouldn't stand for the national anthem. They said they'd seen enough death caused by national pride and felt strongly enough about this that they endured abuse for this belief.

Dr Seuss at Burning Man

Here's a reminder of the timeless excellence of Dr Seuss' work.

Swingeing back from the dead

Flicking through the Sydney Morning Herald today I was sure I'd spotted another example of the decline in sub-editing to publish here under the 'war on error' tag but in turns out that swingeing really is a word.

And, more interestingly for word nerds like me, it's an archaic word that appears to be coming back into contemporary use. In fact The Economist predicted "swingeing will appear in at least one news headline a week for the rest of the year" more than a year ago but that probably shows how behind Australia is in the latest trends or maybe even how little I read.

For a while now I've thought we are living in an age of declining literacy, even going so far as to write that literacy is dead. It's more appropriate to acknowledge that the nature of literacy is changing to reflect the digital age.

So now I propose we celebrate the continued employment of verbose sub-editors, the longevity of literacy and the opportunity to learn a new word!

Centenary of Leeton

For a while I've nurtured the idea of remixing a location and with the centenary of Leeton being celebrated later this year I decided to develop an album based on sounds recorded at the playgrounds in the town.

Being a parent and an audiophile I've spent a lot time tapping slides and swings -- but I should be careful saying that aloud because people are paranoid about other types of 'philes at playgrounds!

This video shows part of the song I created from sounds recorded at Mountford Park, which is at the heart of the town both literally and metaphorically. It's a wonderful green space with a large playground, as well as an aviary and stage that's the focus of many events.

The idea of taking everyday noises as music has a long history but my inspiration comes from the Italian Futurists, particularly the Art of Noises manifesto written by Luigi Russolo.

Aside from being a potent document, I think this is a cool reference as it comes from around the time when the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area was first proposed and they both share a similar sense of the excitement of the Modern age.

A couple of other influences were reading about the album Pink Floyd originally planned to record as a follow-up for their landmark Dark Side of the Moon, and; Matthew Herbert, particularly his Bodily Functions album.

I started making videos to accompany the songs I've created from Leeton's playgrounds after getting feedback from people that they couldn't see how I'd processed the sounds. You can read more about the park remix project at my bassling blog and there are videos for other parks and some unprocessed sounds also at the bassling YouTube channel.

My aim is to edit together an audio-visual mix made from all of the tracks to launch the album in the second half of the year. Not sure of the venue at this stage but I'm open to be part of another event if the Centenary Committee are keen or maybe have an outdoor launch with the projector and sound system I used to screen Metropolis for the 2011 Art Deco Festival.

I love Zelda

One highlight of my summer has been avoiding the hotter days by staying indoors and playing Twilight Princess on my Nintendo Gamecube. Yeah, I'm old school like that -- playing a game that's more than five years old on a superseded console.

This is the second Zelda quest I've undertaken. The first was Wind Waker, a charming cartoony game that I've since learned was a radical departure from the Zelda franchise but popular enough to spawn two sequels on the Nintendo DS Lite.

The Zelda games are a popular Nintendo property but seem to be little-known among non-gamers. Zelda does not have the same brand recognition as Mario or Donkey Kong and this is probably because she's something of a secondary character. You never actually play the character of Zelda, except in the game Super Smash Brothers Melee -- which is a great multi-player game where all of the Nintendo characters battle it out.

Twilight Princess has the familiar narrative that unfolds as the central character reaches the rite of passage where he is given the green hero outfit and undertakes a quest to save his kingdom. The character can be seen as a version of the green man, a symbol of rebirth or maybe eternal youth like Peter Pan.

There are little variations between the games of course, particularly in the equipment found along the way. The twilight in Twilight Princess seems a dated twist though, reminding me of The Matrix but maybe also the nothingness in Neverending Story or possibly the end of the world in this Madonna song.

A couple of things I've noticed in Twilight Princess have got me wondering about messages in the game, probably because as a former cultural studies student I seem to over-analyse everything.

Are there messages in the game? For example, often it's easy to avoid fighting all the monsters. Many times I've found it easiest to just run away and, usually, the monsters don't bother chasing. I like to think it's a lesson for players that confrontation can be avoided. This seems to be emphasised in that you don't get points for killing things. In fact, you don't get points at all. The key objective is to overcome various challenges along the way.

The other lesson that I like to think is in the game, is the way that you very quickly fill your purse and are unable to keep collecting the gems which are used as currency. This seems to me to be a message that making money isn't the goal, again reinforcing the view that you need to succeed at the objectives required to fulfill the quest. Money is means to achieve your goals, not a goal in itself.

This focus on achieving your goals rather than seeking confrontation and collecting money seem to me to be a good philosophy to impart and one of the reasons why I enjoy sharing Zelda with my kids.

Ned Kelly was a thug

This bit of advertising for some "Authentic Ned Kelly Collectables" fell out my local paper The Irrigator this week and I've since been talking about the crap written in it to anyone who'll listen. While the text has some entertaining 'weasel' words, like mention of the "gold-toned handle" and "wood-tone display"; the "art" deserves focus here.

These replica knives, presumably because they're not actually knives rather than based on one owned by Kelly, continue the mythologised view of Ned Kelly, rather than the view largely supported by historical record that he was thug from an early age who was charismatic enough to attract a gang to follow him.

The sympathetic view is that he was a victim of police harassment because he was poor, Catholic and of Irish descent and forced into a life of crime to avoid being set-up as a criminal and locked up for crimes he didn't commit.

Kelly became the most infamous of Australia's bush rangers in large part because the suit of armour he fashioned was too iconic to be supported by the life of the man within it. Sidney Nolan's series of Ned Kelly paintings do a beaut job of showing this as the visor in the helmet shows the background, demonstrating the armour as empty.

I understand the anti-authoritarianism appeal of Ned Kelly and have read that this is why the successful Australian film industry was dealt a blow when the popular bushranger movies were banned in the early 20th century. The 1906 film The Story of the Kelly Gang was the first feature-length film released anywhere in the world but only fragments of it remain today.

Anyway, back to the replica knives/art forms. It's not clear whether the representations on them include Kelly escaping conviction for highway robbery in 1870 because witnesses described him as "half-caste" when police thought this was due to him being unwashed. And there probably isn't enough space on the blades to show the 18 charges that were brought against Ned Kelly before he was declared an outlaw, half of which resulted in convictions.

History shows Ned Kelly was a thug and a murderer. Circumstances may have given him little choice but there is still little to celebrate in his life and it's unclear how he changed Australia forever.


Continuing the action figure theme, I like how this Robocop has been renamed as Robert.


DJ Food action figure

Recently I got to hear the new DJ Food album at a mate's house and I was impressed. It's been more than a decade since the last one and I think it's an even stronger album. I might write more when I get a copy.

Anyway, while cleaning up a mess the other day, I discovered that I own a DJ Food action figure!

Club dark chocolate dessert

When I was younger I think one of the few dark chocolates at the supermarket was Club. These days there are many more dark chocolates of varying flavours and intensities, so it's interesting to see the Club brand has been extended into a mousse-style dessert.

Of the many varieties of chocolate desserts, I'm settling on this one as a favourite for the flavour. It's got more of the chocolate bite, the bitterness, and less of the sweetness.

The only room for improvement would be if it could impart the same viscosity as Chocolate Yogo, which has an incredible mouth-feel but a lousy sugary taste.

Urana's giant spider

Saw this giant spider outside Urana and reckon it's tops.

Stuck-up couple

Murrumbidgee River painting

Here's a painting of the Murrumbidgee River by Lynne McQuillan that I bought at the Leeton Visitor Information Centre, where they've established a gallery for local artists -- which is an excellent initiative.

I've lived near the Murrumbidgee for most of my life but I also like this painting because it reminds me of the photos I've taken of the River, like these ones of the flooded Murrumbidgee.

Some penises

Kinda weird how many dicks I've seen around Melbourne today.

Gay cardinals

My friend Jess drew attention to this Christmas decoration on her tree today. She likes this pair of male cardinals because of the suggestion that they're gay but I guess they could just be hanging out together. Very closely together, which is kinda gay.

My view of the revised MDBA Basin Plan

Designing with the broad pen

This great handwriting guide came my way and you can see from the scan below that my mum made one small addition.

I really like the book, both for the lessons it imparts but also the style in which it does it.

A highlight is the pages below outlining design elements.

Where's R2D2?

This morning I've hung a few pictures and prints around the house, including this one. One of the things I like best about this print isn't the colour or the arse, it's the background because since I was a child I've seen R2D2 in there.

I'm getting old

This is (about?) the 400th post on this blog. I'm not convinced of the figure because there are a few posts I've redacted for various reasons, like how pictures of my kids showed up when you searched for 'Vaginamite' in Google Images.

Anyway, on the topic of getting old, 2011 continued a worrying trend for me in the passing of a couple more of my relations. In 2010 I lost a cousin who had been like an older brother for me and last year I lost an uncle and my remaining grandparent.

It was weird because soon after grandma Royal died I received a box of toys for my kids in the mail from her, which included this Wizard of Oz puppet glove.

Cheese Supreme

I don't know why there are so many flavours of corn chip available because Dorito's Cheese Supreme is clearly the best. The blend of cheddar and onion with a hint of garlic and tomato is pretty hard to beat, although I would like to see more variety in the preparation of the corn chips.

They could probably try getting a fluffier finish but if they started adding seeds to the chip batter it could add a lot of interesting flavours and textures. Like a plain corn chip with cumin seeds could be good and I reckon poppy seeds or maybe mild pepper corns or maybe parsley flakes would work nicely with the aptly named Cheese Supreme.

The addition of seeds might also see corn chips overcome my biggest complaint about chips and that's how the flavour lasts such a short time. I have difficulty reconciling the high amount of energy in chips with the very brief amount of taste they provide.

White caviar and almond meal

Visiting the supermarket is great when you find interesting food marked down and the festive season usually has a heap of specials ahead of the holidays.

Chris makes great hummus but this dip has recently taken the role of my favourite of his products. The fish eggs are salty but the creaminess of the almond meal is really yummy and it's surprisingly filling. One the occasions when I make a meal of this appetiser it'll usually suffice with half a pack of crackers.

Top 10 posts in 2011

Here's a list of the top 10 most-visited blog posts in 2011 from my other blogs:


Interesting to see there are only three new entries since this list in 2010, including the number one spot (thanks to CDM).

The top 10 most-visited posts in 2011 for this blog are:


So warm and so cosy

Everyone needs a Muff :)