Saturday, February 25, 2006

Video Game aesthetics

Video games have been the object of my lust since I was a small child. Since the old days of Intelevision and Atari I've looked ahead to the coming of the next generation of games--Nintendo, Turbo GraphX, Playstation, X-box--knowing, even as a kid, the ultimate promise of gaming technology. My first gaming console was an Intelevision. The first time I visited a friends house and saw Nintendo was a fundamental moment in not only my life but a moment that defines my generations world view. I learned then that there was not a thing in the world called video game but there was something larger called evolution. The elves or who ever built these games had a vision that they were working towards. The Pitfall guy wasn't an end, he was a means to Laura Croft and beyond. And my brother and I would spend entire Saturday afternoons designing video game mazes and envisioning what video games in the distant year two thousand would look like. We understood that video games are building towards simulacrum, a seamless virtual reality. This is what I've always envisioned video games to be. A simulation, a constructed dream world.

I thought this article was well worth reading.

Video Game aesthetics

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blog Tagging

Tag from Noel

Knock the top name off the list below. Add yours to the bottom.

Rebel Without a Pew
Clever Title Here
Ramblings from a Disenchanted Idealist
Keeping an Inn on Ramandu

Tag five people for this meme

1. Jessi
2. Andy
3. Don Mattingly
4. Becky
5. Arc

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago I was a sixteen your old kid with one hell of a bad bowl hair cut. I spent my time working as a bus boy at a buffet restaurant and then cruising the strip afterward in my 1970 impala. I was a sophmore in high school. Played Baseball, tennis and golf. I also distinctly remember a cat disection in my anatomy class! I look back on the high school experience and cringe. Is such a mad house really compulsory!!?

What were you doing a year ago?

Junior year of college. Long walks in the hills. Coffee on the porch. Punching Hides of Beef

5 snacks you enjoy

1. Pizza pockets
2. Egg rolls
3. Wine and cheese
4. Cheese on apple
5. Hummus on pita bread

5 things you'd do if you were a millionare

1. Pay off my student loans
2. Buy some property in the mountains, build a cottage there, get a good dog and whittle on the porch.
3. Build a castle and dig a moat around it. I'd also have a Scooge McDuck style money bin built there. When my fortune was secure, I'd begin mating. I'd teach my plethra of children the honor/religious/art-of-war treaties I'd invent then cryogenically freeze myself. I would have it written that I am to awaken when my family successfully conqueres the world. When awaken, I would build a high tower with my throne room at the top. This would be build using slave labor of course. I would declare myself the emperor of the world and tell scientist to discover teleportation or die. Once teleportation was in my grasp, I would colonize the universe and have a stack of bussiness cards printed with this title after my name: MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE
4. Spend the rest of my life wearing pink polo shirts and playing golf at the country club.
5. But really what I would do is buy a modest house and be a family man.

5 bad habits

1. Smoking
2. Over eating
3. Zoneing out when things don’t interest me.
4. Being wasteful.
5. Smoking

5 things you enjoy doing

1. Walking in the woods
2. Writing
3. People watching
4. Going to a good movie.
5. Going for drives that end in a good meal.

5 things you would not wear again

1. MC Hammer pants
2. Bicycle shorts
3. Chastity belt
4. A Ghetto blaster on my shoulder
5. A jail jumpsuit

5 favorite toys

2. Movies
3. Books
4. Juicer
5. Did I mention yet how much I like to eat. I’m going to go eat breakfast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentines Day

I wish I could go back in time and have dinner with my former self. I'd cook a fancy steak dinner and keep the refills of red wine coming. And he not being much of cook or a wine drinker would probably think that I was pretty grown up. He'd be to shy to ask me to smoke the weed he'd have hidden in his pocket, so I'd suggest it for him. We'd spend the rest of the night on the porch talking about the cosmos. He'd think God was a force of nature and he'd say I was preaching at him when I tell him the beauty of nature is just a reflection of our Father. The conversation would be quiet and would involve a lot of cigarette smoke. Ah, to talk to my former self. I found this passage in one of my old journals. I kind of like it.

There is God: a field of ether in which all else floats. There are many orbs floating over and through God. Each orb is similar to the thing we call Universe, so together the orbs form a multiverse. The multiverse is nothing like a quantum foam but exactly like a psychedelic hallucination made of floating pink and teal and violet spheres.

Life on earth can be explained as the intersection of two orbs which create something resembling a Venn diagram. One orb, A, is made of interstellar space and stars and rocks. When we look through telescopes we see the walls of orb A. The other orb, orb B, is made of something else entirely. It can best be described as (though inaccurately) a vast desert floor with gelatin cubes arranged in rows and columns. In each gelatinous cube there is a something like a fortune cookie fortune, like slips of paper with inscriptions written on them. If you were to take on the monumental task of translating the inscribed symbols, ninety nine percent of them would read something like this: love me. Some other phrases would read, I love me, I am Christian Slater, mooo, etc. Though it wouldn’t be accurate to say the gelatin cubes are alive, they do communicate through a type of jiggling. The slips of paper start to wave like a flag at their center, vibrating faster and faster, broadcasting their messages on energy waves.

As I have said, orb A and orb B are overlapping. Where they intersect is called life. The message, now a harmonic pulse, jiggles and spills like water over the edge of a Roman fountain down through the 107 dimensions separating orb A and B until it finally leaks into B where it animates the rocks of earth. Clay becomes conscious. Consciousness is the offspring of A and B, clay seeks love, seeks a loving God and freely manipulate the substance of A with the energy of B so that they might break free of the reality of psychedelic orbs and swim in the ether. And these clay figures walk around with their arms outstretched reflecting the distant message in all of their actions. They just want to be loved.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Man-size Dolls

The lights turned down to an amber glow, fragrant candles lit, Flute Dreams--the enchanting melodies of the lute over the soft rhythm of splashing ocean waves against rocky cliffs: the mood is set. Getting on his hands and knees, he pulls the coffin sized crate from under his bed. His heart-rate quickens and a surge of energy shoots through his whole body. He's aroused. She seems to be moaning his name from under the straw of the crate. She wants out of her box. She wants him. He rips the lid off, his lover: a Christmas surprise. He scoops her out throwing her on the bed face down. He takes her arms and legs and bends them into position. Beyond his passion and excitement there is an uncanny feeling. Something from childhood. Something like GI JOE. His lover is on all fours, her back arched, her head up, and he's behind her. The sea surges and crashes into the cliffs. The candle flames grow tall, redden and explode. He's lost. Blissfully, violently, lost. Chemicals are flooding his body, rewiring his brain, bonding him forever with his lover.

When he finds himself again, he's behind his lover. The room is silent but for the lute and the waves and the sound of his own breath. He pulls away from her and falls into the sheets. Leaning against the headboard he lights a cigarette and looks upon her. She's still and silent, facing him. Her mouth is half open and her bright eyes refuse to blink. Was it good for you? he asks. A part of him is missing, forever bound to a plastic caricature.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Shape of the Monolith

I can barely swallow my spit this morning. At noon, when I rolled out of bed, I did it with a sense of accomplishment. The shag carpet in my bedroom could have been moon dust scattering as I planted my foot into the new day. There was a distance radio static carrying voices. "Houston," I heard one say.

When the full weight of my body pushed down on my left foot I felt pain and weakness, as if it were sprained. Flashbacks from the mother ship. Aliens traveling across vast distances of space to perform operations on my feet makes me feel loved.

Humanity is still very primitive. We have instruments that measure huge things like gravity fields around impossibly distant stars, or tiny things like quantum tunneling. But how do we measure middle stuff like ourselves?

There is a day in humanities future that will be the greatest ah-ha moment in the universe. This day is fated. It will happen because all great stories have a beginning and an end. And what a great story the universe is. Yes, this day is in our future--the prophets said so.

One of three things will happen on that day (nothing precludes all three from happening on the same day) to change man drastically, so drastically that his story, a very old one now, will finally come to an end and a new one will begin.

1. Extraterrestrials will finally visit our planet. Hear: for thousands of years humans have only had each other to talk to. There have been some great conversations in human history but inevitably they end up like the conversations my brother and I had as children in the back seat of the station wagon, in arguments and finally close fisted attacks. Humans love each other but desperately want to talk to someone else for a change. People talk to their cats and their ferrets but those creatures don’t talk back. Adam was bored with the beasts almost immediately. But to communicate with another race of men from far far away would be like falling in love; the rush of a new love. What we could learn! There’s also the possibility that they’d eat us. Either way man would be forever changed.

2. Artificial intelligence will advance towards self awareness: sentience. Man will finally build something that can talk back. A Pinocchio. Man just seems to be made so that he can make. Man as an artist, like God, aches to create something that will love him back. When computers start talking to us we will fall madly in love. Then again, they might eat us. One thing they will do either way is tell us what we are like. An outside perspective. That alone will change man forever.

3. The ultimate poop pang--discovering that God is real. When the clouds part and the Holy one shows himself, humans will tremble and probably feel some guilt over how we've been acting towards each other in the backseat of God's Station wagon but that will give way to love for our father. There won't be an athiest on that day and we will all have our paths illuminated before us. We'll fall in love, or be eaten.

Now that I’m thinking about it, there might be something else that changes man forever, not from this world or the next but from the realm of ideas and numbers: the mathematical universe...

4. Man finds the end all equation of truth. One little elegant equation that explains all. We will fall in love or eat ourselves.

It is well into the afternoon and I’m almost able to swallow again as I’ve melted most of the mucus away with strong hot coffee. It’s raining outside again and I hear a far away static. Getting out of bed: One small step for man. One Giant leap for Mankind.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Night Writer

He gets home from work and the house comes to life. Lasers beamed into crystals make the walls glow and light images wave over the walls. Tightly packed sound waves, the auditory equivalent of lasers, carry the soft soothing female voice of the home computer into his ear.

She asks how his day was out of courtesy. The truth is she knows already by the look on his face. She offers to make him nachos for dinner, remembering how the last nacho dinner flooded the pleasure centers of his brain. He seats himself on the couch and lies down; his favorite music begins to play.

The house is clean. She cleaned it. Dinner is served. She cooked it. “Michael, what do you think about string theory?” she asks. What part exactly, he wants to know. She clues him in on the latest updates from the world’s research labs and asks him again this time serving him a drink which appears from a hole in the wall, recently opened.

Michael is full of food and wine and his mood is lightening while discussing his favorite topics with her. After a prolonged silence she suggests he might care to view some of the newest programming that might fit his tastes and mood. She is constantly monitoring his medical reports, his physiological and neurological scans for clues as to his moment to moment tastes. They have lived together for months and she knows him better than he knows himself. After watching a popular drama and a few experimental independent art shows as well as a science report, he is calm and serene; ready to do his work for the quickly approaching dead line.

He is a concept writer who writes virtual programming. He speaks outloud and she records his words visually on the crystal walls. Yes, Michael. Good. She recognizes a similar theme in a previous manuscript archived and suggests possible routes to explore, sentence structure that will create the maximum variation. She has the knowledge of every author in history as well as a firm grasp of Michael’s literary voice and that makes her a perfect editor.

After the work is done she notes that it has been two days sense Michael has made love and that his sensory reports indicate that he is in the mood. She dims the lights and stimulates the sexual pleasure centers of his brain using the appropriate electrical wave frequencies.

Good night Michael. Good night Darling, he says.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I am not a homophobe. I'm just not gay. If you're gay, fine. Be gay. I'm straight. That's my business. I don't think sexuality is an intellectual pursuit. I don't think there is anything progressive about embracing homosexuality.

I keep thinking that this gay craze is going to end; that sooner or later culture will settle down and recognize that there are space probes and space stations racing above our heads--that private lives will be kept private and public lives will reflect public relations--not of a sexual nature but of community. To my alarm the craze doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

I went and saw Brokeback Mountain the other night just out of curiosity--to see what all the buzz was about. I thought with all the hype surrounding The academy Awards, there might be one big gay Hollywood conspiracy. Hollywooders trying to pedal their ideals on the rest of us. After seeing the movie, I am sure of it. But what a wonderful movie! It really was a great movie. Acting, scenery, music...the emotion. It has been reeling in my mind all week.

This got me thinking about the power of cinematic language. A couple weeks ago I saw another movie, At The End of A Spear, about a group of missionaries who bring the gospel to one of the most violent tribes the world has ever known and how it changes them into a more peaceful people. A great story but an awful movie. The way it was put together was just not comparable with mainstream Hollywood movies especially when it came to the cutting. It seems to me that Christians do not speak the visual language of film effectively enough to connect with culture at large.

It is not my intent to put Christianity opposite of Homosexuality they are not even comparable being different kinds of things. What I'm trying to say is that there are things that are important and that do matter in society. Strong families, education, hard work and fair wages, cleaning up our environment and striving for better living conditions. We should be excited about advancing scientifically and technologically, continuing in the great debates with philosophers and theologians of times past. In short, we should aspire to gain knowledge and understanding so that we may increase our happiness. I believe Christianity, unlike any other world view allows these things to flower naturally.

So, I am not gay. I am not a cowboy. But for a couple hours I understood, at least in part, what it was like to be a gay cowboy. I wish that non-Christians could experience the freedom and joy that comes with Christianity if only for a few hours.

If your gay your gay. Straight, your strait. I just hope you are more than just one of these (comparably insignificant) things.