Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 7

With the top eleven finished in parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, this part is about some honorable mentions. They aren't in any real order but the first few were omitted do largely to technicalities that should make clear why a few other choices didn't even make this list despite possibly seeming likely.

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (NES)

I love Disney's old school cartoon line up, and like many of their movies, found the game adaptations quite good. I have to agree with The Game Heroes that Chip 'N Dale is the best, but as that NES version of the theme song is, it's not an original score. That was a big issue for me throughout this and the reason there are no movie-based games on the list, I wanted the scores to have been composed for the games, not adapted.

The Legend of Zelda (NES)

The only song likely to be more recognizable than the Super Mario Bros. 'exterior theme' is of course the the main theme of Legend of Zelda. It's wonderful. I love it, both the opening title and in game renditions of it, but the rest of the score from the classic original doesn't quite have any weight for me. The dungeon them isn't bad, but I don't love it, and the other jingles though out are really just short jingles, so thats two versions of a song I love and a few other tracks that are ok. Super Mario didn't have many tunes either, but they are ALL classics. Again, one of if not the greatest Nintendo tunes, hands down, but for me one great tune does not a great score make.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Play Station)

I never owned a Play Station, and more than any other, this game made that a painful fact. For years I heard how great the score was, that's sorta the point when you give a game a name like Symphony of the Night. But I have to admit, it's a little hit and miss for me, despite it's epicness, this was not an uncommon phenomenon with (SNES) games for me. For all of the grander and potential, the arrangements for so many games just came off weird. (I hate the Link to the Past version of the Zelda adventure theme.) It's all a little too sweeping and bombastic, sorta like Gothic opera pop. They're trying to be too 'enchanted' sounding. Thus for every track I really like there is two I don't, and not having the in-game experience, I'm just not really able to say how well they flow for the game. A great score in scale, but overall not quite my thing.

Sonic The Hedgehog & the original sequels (Sega Genesis)

I forgot! I suppose that says something about them, but while I didn't have a Sega of my own, I took up every opportunity and my cousins' and friends' houses. Great games, and the opening music is as classic as any of the iconic greats, but a few of the other tunes are me personally hit and miss. More hits than miss, but again this one just didn't have enough something to make it. Much like Legend of Zelda it's loved for a couple tunes passionately, and disregarded for the rest. Still, had I remembered it at the time, it would have been a tough call.

River City Ransom (NES)

When it comes to Beat 'em Ups, Double Dragon was fun, but the music actually got on my nerves. River City Ransom was, for me, so much better on all levels to Double Dragon, including music. I'm much more into these rock 'en roll-surfer-disco influenced hyper-frenetic score. It just worked better for this kind of game for me, even if it was a little more repetitious.

Donkey Kong Country (SNES)

Near the end of the SNES's life they pulled out all the stops with a handful of games that were able to hold their own with the next generation of consoles. Few achieved this quite as well as Donkey Kong Country. Along with its graphics was a wonderful score which fits perfectly with the environment and attitude of the game. I can never really remember the tunes from it, but I always found myself bobbing along to them as I played. They fit perfectly, at the price of sometimes being invisible, which is hardly a detractor.

LinkSuper Metroid (SNES)

Now we are talking! Consider this where the excuses stop and I start fully praising games as really tough-call runners up.

I wasn't a big Metroid guy, but more than one fan have argued this as the best SNES game without losing my respect, and goddamn that score. It's like they took everything that was great about the scores to Alien, Aliens, The Terminator, T2 and Blade Runner and combined them with about a dozen other wonderful things. At times really rich and evocative of more fun-going space adventures (a wee hint of Wing Commander I do detect) and at others the score is totally unnerving, laying down all the cues for future sci-fi survival horror games to take note of. It only just barely didn't make the list on account of low nostalgic value for me having not played it much (didn't own it) but I must confess I'm inclined to boot Street Fighter 2 in its place. It's the better, but not precisely the more memorable.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

You know how I said the problem with the original was it had one great tune and a few eh numbers? Well, here's the answer to that! A wonderful game, with a vast and rich score filled with numerous tunes That I love. In many ways I can't help but compare it to King's Quest 4, and were this a more fantasy exclusive list... oh yeah, it would have made it. It's epic, but also solid. A really marvelous game. Again, a really hard one to leave out.

Tomb Raider (PC)

Lara Croft became such a ridiculous sex symbol during the major wave of 'pixel tits' heroins in games that it's easy to forget how absolutely wonderful the first game was (well other than the whole running around shooting endangered species part... that was a bit ethically iffy). The sequels I don't think were terrible as far along as I bothered (2 and then a bit of 3) but the formula was something of a case of lightening in a bottle. It was a slow game about exploration, and as the sequels became less about looking at the sublime spaces your played in and more about action... they just lost touch. The first game's score stresses this sense of exploration, of looking off in wonder at the sublime. I love the opening theme and the orchestral accents throughout the game. It was a wonderful score, perhaps loved more for its nostalgia than quality but still a great score of high quality.

I could go on and on and on... Mega Man, Kirby, Star Tropics... there are tons of them! Again, I really recommend checking out Garudoh's massive channel on The Music of Games as well as those from the others I've linked to.

Well, that's it. Feel free to leave comments and opinions. I'd love to hear some suggestions people feel I've left out as this is a personal list more than a best of. What are your favorites, and if not the same, which do you feel are the best?

Horror Movies That Don't Suck: Bedlam (1946)

Of the Val Lewton Collection I got for Christmas, Bedlam is not the greatest, but it was certainly the most delightful surprise. Having already seen most of the classics like Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and the underrated Leopard Man, not to mention Karloff's finest performance in The Body Snatcher, I was largely under the impression that the remaining films would be much lesser inclusions, but Bedlam is simply amazing. It's a period film set in the late 1730s inspired by the works of Hogarth, and while it's morality might seem a little preachy in its morals, it is a film I could not say really talks down to the viewer.

Anna Lee (Nell Bowan), a moody and sometimes irrational woman who has charmed her way into high society, becomes the rival of Master George Sims (Boris Karloff) when she aims to reform his cruel methods of running Bedlam asylum. When her political influences prove a genuine threat, Master Sims has her committed for her at times spontaneous behavior. Once inside, the film becomes a theatrical showdown. Imagine if you will, a cross between One Flew Over the Cuckcoo's Nest and Marat/Sade without the post-modernism, and even a shade of Shanley's Doubt. Where from her comfy place in society it was easy for Lee to judge his cruel methods, she now finds herself among the beasts, begging a Quaker friend to forsake his vows and give her a weapon to defend herself in the dark. Soon however, she learns to see the inmates as lost souls and rises above her fears to find humility where Sims could only find cynicism.

Sims never makes it easy for her and in the film's most powerful scene he thrusts her into a moral test that goes to the very heart of Lewton's psychological approach to horror. He presents to her a man, a hulking brute caged for being too violent to have among the others and tells her she is to share his cage, that it was one thing to pity the pitiful, but was she really willing to show compassion for someone who could endanger her, who was deeply disturbed, a seemingly true beast, or was all of her idealism just talk. It's a wonderful scene, beautifully shot, where both actors step up their performances and the script suddenly becomes something of literary consideration.

I can't get over how intelligent this film is, and how much credit it gives the viewer to figure things out. It never has the characters stop and explain the politics of the period. It is filled with characters and shots right out of Hogarth paintings, and so much information is conveyed subtly through acting and withing wide shots as opposed to explicit close ups. Take for example the simple cue that Anna has a spade hidden in her skirt to defender herself with during a card game. Any other film of the time would have done a close up right on it, but this simply shows her fingers touch it under her fabric, almost unnoticeable. Director Mark Robinson trusts you to be paying attention and catch it. I don't want to spoil too much, but when the spade is finally used note the implied motive for why. This stuff is startling for a 40s film.

Val Lewton produced and wrote the final drafts (uncredited) for several masterpieces, but as I hear The Leopard Man more and more getting recognized as much, much more than a feeble attempt to milk the Cat People 'franchise' one last time, I feel this is the new under appreciated gem to consider from Lewton's great series of films.

Thoughts on the Harry Reid Controversy

The outrage over Harry Reid's racist comments is actually one of the more interesting controversies I've heard about in awhile.

I'm not aiming to give him a full defense, but rather I find that with a little analysis and thought, there are a few things about this controversy that are curious and worth contemplating more than mere voter points. Let's look at the quote from Halperin's book that keeps circling around:
He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.
First let us address the context statement and form of it's offense, then move on to the specific language. What we know about the context of this is that it was said in private; it wasn't a speech or a formal interview. I don't note that because of some acceptance of a politician's personal racism behind doors, but rather because this was something said during the champaign. Rather formal or informal, Reid appears to have been providing campaign analysis on how, 'the country' would respond to Obama, not necessarily how he felt about him. It was an opinion of how voters would react to Obama as a black candidate and why.

This is the problem with comparing it to, say, Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball controversy. The offense comes in a different form, closer actually to the John Kerry on Iraq goof. It isn't that Reid says something offensive towards Obama through which the country responds; it's that Reid says something offensive through Obama towards the country, which then responds. As Kerry, in talking about Bush, ended up (accidentally) implying that American troops were basically dumb highschool drop-outs, Reid in discussing Obama's race as a factor implied that most of the nation is essentially racist. Both for being influenced by race at all and in how.

Something being an opinion in no way relieves it from being offensive or racist, and even if the form differs the content can backfire, which brings us to the language. We have only two direct quotes to examine, that Obama is "light-skinned" and, "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Again, as presented by Halperin, Reid is essentially saying that 'America is ready for a black president... especially one that isn't too black.' Obama certainly doesn't fall into the stereo-type of liberal 'political blackness', personified by Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson. For all their popularity, neither are strong candidates, but Obama dosen't talk as they do, or act as they do. He is a very different kind of politician from them, if anything perhaps closer to Shirley Chrisholm. However, there is still the word choice. Who on earth still uses the word "Negro"??? If he does mean "Negro dialect" in reference to other black candidates like Sharpton, is it too extreme to say he might as well be calling them monkeys?

This use of Negro to me is the core of Reid's folly with regard to being accused as racist. While not a racial slur, it's a loaded word, an old word with a lot of history. Though, what word should he have used? Black dialect? That's obviously too broad, too many dialects. Low in-come urban/rural dialect? Ah! Dialect is a problem too.

Like Karry, he's wondered into a class tension. Obama isn't acceptable merely because he's not 'too black' but also because he isn't too poor and uneducated. In a weird uneven way, isn't it basically that he's 'white' enough? While it's still projected as what "the country" thinks, we are left still with the monkey angle, which cannot be excused. If one says, 'all these racists aren't ready to treat these monkeys equally', they're still calling someone a monkey. This is specifically what he should be held at fault for, if he isn't. But I think we shouldn't ignore the larger implication of his statement.

The big curiosity of this for me is that Reid has given us an opinion on a very frequently talked about issues of the election: will Obama's race be a factor? Were not many of Obama's critics frequently bringing up that the appeal of finally having a black president was overshadowing the issues, that some people were voting for him because he was black? Were not many who voted for him happy he won because he was black?--alright, perhaps not exclusively, but in part because he was black? I couldn't help but be happy during the inauguration speech, thinking that a whole generation of black children were going to grow up with evidence that their skin would not be an obstacle between them and the highest office in the country. There were other issues, of course, but it certainly was a factor. It was an obstacle for voters looked beyond, for there is in its best intentions a certain reverse racism to it. Which is what I find particularly fascinating about Brian Walsh's statement.
For those who hope to one day live in a color-blind nation it appears Harry Reid is more than a few steps behind them. Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long history of embarrassing and controversial remarks by the senior Senator from Nevada. He always shares exactly what's on his mind with little regard to perception or consequences, and it's one of the reasons he is the most vulnerable incumbent Senator in either party facing re-election.
In no way does Walsh say racism is ok, but isn't that last sentence odd? "He always shares exactly what's on his mind with little regard to perception or consequences, and it's one of the reasons he is the most vulnerable incumbent Senator in either party facing re-election." Is what is on his mind really the problem, or is it that he says it? When people talk about a color-blind nation, it always sounds so nice and Utopian, but I can't help but wonder if it is a place where racism is broken down and dissolved or a place where it is repressed--or worse, persists in denial. Would a color-blind nation have no racial injustice, or would it simply not see it? In short, after so much talk about Obama's race, is Reid's comment outragious because of it's poor and loaded word choice or because of its implications about society and the voters that make it up? Furthermore, is it upsetting because of how obviously false it is, or because on some level, there's a small element of truth to it? At the risk of sounding contradictory (and slightly pessimistic), I can't help detect in out general fixation on his race, the likely answer. For me, this is the thing to walk away from this pondering.

Friday, January 08, 2010

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 6

Here we are. The final two!

#2. King's Quest 4: The Perils of Rosella (AGI)Link

This one is a bit tricky. I've had a heck of a time finding a sample as the AGI version of the game is much rarer than the improved SGI, but this is a rare case where faced with a full orchestral version, one of the first of its kind for a computer game even, I find the blips and beeps version completely the way to go. I have only been able to find one youtube example of this version, and it sounds much clunkier than I recall it. While nostalgia may be the culprit I think I had the polished up re-release of the AGI which was supposed to smooth-out the score a bit.

Whatever version you listen to (overall for game play I recommend the SGI for better in-game sound effects and graphics), the melodies of King's Quest 4 are classic. My personal favorite being the diamond mine of the seven dwarves, I commonly find I still whistle these all the time. Utterly classic, and one of the most beloved video games of my childhood. There was no way this wasn't making the list.

#1. DOOM (PC)

Best soundtrack ever. As blips and beeps or orchestral sweeps I love every note of this game's soundtrack. From the most air guitar inducing opening to the eerie operatic epics (my personal favorite), it's video game perfection. Each song gets you into its level, building urgency, intensity or outright dread. For many, this was the first game to truly scare the crap out of you. No game since to my knowledge has created such a sense of from hell and back as Doom. It's brilliant, and the music lives on as a testament to that.

Well, that's my list! There's one more episode of honorable mentions to come but that may be a bit delayed as it will be a from scratch write up. In the mean time, feel free to leave your own top five, ten, or eleven lists below or wait for that to come out.

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 5

#4. Super Mario Brothers

It was inevitable. I don't even feel I need to explain it. Probably the most recognizable jingles in gaming history. Constantly covered and parodied. We all know the tunes. I love them. Let's just move on.

#3. The Last Ninja Trilogy (C64)

If there was only one reason I wish I owned a Commodore 64, it's to play The Last Ninja games. Actually, not really play them so much as make it through each insanely difficult level just to hear the score for the next. Like Maniac Mansion, this is a music driven game first and foremost. Unlike Maniac Mansion, there are NO SOUNDS. All three sound channels of the C64 were devoted to music, resulting in a score that made its NES counterparts look like a joke. The first game's score is the greatest chopsocky score ever. The second is a love letter to 80s and early 90s 'in the city' action movies, as well as over the top cheese like Commando and in some respects Lethal Weapon. It's epic and bombastic, at times rather funky. It's like the score to the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game you always wanted in place of the one you got. The third game had a lot to live up to and one can feel the style of the series starting to get tired, but the music's change in direction is one I've grown to appreciate quite a bit. Instead of another heavy score of building intensity that pumps you up, it is more somber and subtle. It's a more eloquent score, mixing elements of the first two while going very much in its own direction, creating a more atmospheric experience. I find it is often the easiest to listen to as a stand alone work.

Overall the three scores are amazing, with the first being yet another break through and essential in the history of game scores.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 4

#6. Quake

The music for the game was programed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Need I say more? The rich ambient industrial works composed for the game are eerie as hell and show no lack of attention. I can't help but detect some of Aphex Twin's influence on Reznor, notably with his album Selected Ambient Works: Volume 2. My favorite composition for the game, "Castles of the Damned" with it's saxophone-like wailing, also evokes a rather unappreciated David Bowie track entitled V2 Schneider from the album Heroes, his second collaboration with the godfather of ambient music, Brian Eno. To be drawing from Trent's own musical heroes like this should indicate explicitly that this is as much a work of art for him as any of his albums. As a NIN fan, it's a wonder I don't place this higher on the list. It opened the doors for just how disturbing horror game scores could be. And the next entry illustrates one artist who perhaps more than any other walked through those doors to unnerve the hell out of gamers.

#5. Silent Hill (I-IV)

Normally, I'd feel a little cheap listing four game soundtracks in one place, however, the music for the entire Silent Hill series (at least the official games) has been done by the same composer, Akira Yamaoka and as the series has experimented in its approach (in later games changed developers' hands) his aesthetics have held as the consistent spine of the series. From the classic original's opening theme, to the fourth chapter's Room of Angel, he's a chameleon!

One of my favorite works comes from Silent Hill 3, again, an opening theme, You're Not Here. I just love how effortlessly he seems to make an angsty emo-goth girl pop song that is so much better than... well... the angsty emo-goth girl pop songs that angsty emo-goth girl pop bands like Evanescence and Nightwish produce. But seriously, when I suggested Yamaoka was the follow up to Trent when it came t0 unsettling ambient scores for games, I didn't mean these opening songs, nor the emotional umph he adds to the dramatic moments within the games (though that might be what I love most about him). No, there's another side to Yamaoka, a much, much, much darker side, and god bless him for it. For a game series praised for its stretches of dead silence that put you on edge at 3AM after hours of playing... the spaces between those patch of silence are quite powerful as well.

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 3

#7. Final Fantasy (I & VI)

Welcome to the first franchise selection, where I pick more than one game from the same series as a sort of tie. Picking Final Fantasy opens up several cans of worms, none so large as the issue of it being an RPG. The problem with addressing RPGs is, were this a top eleven best game soundtracks, it could be filled with nothing but RPGs. Seriously, while many games from other genres incorporate professional composers to score them, since nearly day one RPGs have taken their music very seriously. There are hundreds if not thousands of of RPGs throughout the consoles that have utterly breathtaking scores, from full orchestral numbers to eloquent piano pieces. So, why not Breath of Fire or the often prised Chrono Trigger or the very underrated Lufia series???


I'm not making a top eleven RPG Soundtrack list!!! It's a certain style, and I like it, but it's not everything game music has to offer. Overrated or undisputed, Final Fantasy is the series I played the most and loved the most (though Lufia 2 is really amazing and I highly recommend it). Its scope set the bar for other RPGs. It's tunes are the most instantly recognizable for me of any from the genre. The first game is classic. As for VI (released as III on the SNES in the states) it is my favorite from the series, and in my opinion the peak (I haven't been able to really get into another title until XII, although I must admit IX and X weren't really given a chance, and as sacrilegious as it is, I'm not a VII head). Kafka's theme (3:11) and even the silly Opera piece (4:47) are some of the greatest moments in an overall great series.

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 2

#9. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior

Were this a list based on which scores were the best, of course Maniac Mansion blows this out of the water, and shamefully too since it is an NES score that's superior to an SNES score. However, Street Fighter II wins over only for game play nostalgic value. I mean, it's Street Fighter 2! For most Americans this was the first major fighting game (not to be confused with beat-'em-ups) to use dynamic music within fights to pull you into the action. While not all the tracks are classic, no song has ever made videogame show down sound quite as epic as Ken's theme (3:06 in the above link). Perhaps the most underrated tune being Blanka's theme (5:06) which is fairly rich. All around, it's a classic.

#8. Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Lucas Arts and Konami... what a pairing. When I covered Maniac Mansion I evoked the film Night of the Creeps, and this game also is very much in that vein, but there was a follow up film from director Fred Dekker that is even more fitting for comparison: The Monster Squad. Like that movie you play kids up against an all star cast of monsters and like Maniac Mansion the soundtrack pulls no punches on the nostalgia. Each tune evokes the toy solider melting glee of the first time you saw Howard Hawks' original The Thing at nine, or THEM! or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or least we forget Night of the Living Dead. It has that goofy Tails From the Crypt quality to it, mixed with Plan 9 From Outer Space and all the other classics. I love how goofy this soundtrack is. And while some of the tunes add a certain mania to the harder levels that can be trying they are nonetheless wonderful and somewhat cruelly appropriate. It's not an easy game and that insanity actually engages you as you run for dear like though deadly weeds while Dracula and three werewolves chase you around a corner to collide with Frankenstein's lightening hurling monster. Classic.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My Top Eleven Video Game Soundtracks Part 1

So here's something I meant to get out ages ago and left all but forgotten in my "Blogging Stuff" folder. There's been a lot of attention given lately from nostalgia reviewers at Channel Awesome and it's respective associates to game music of late so I thought I'd dig back through some of the game soundtracks I loved.

A few preliminary things first. You're not going to find Halo 3 or Metal Gear Solid 4 or Assassins Creed 2 on here. I've not played any of them, nor sat through someone else playing them. I'm an old school gamer and I'm not sure I've purchased a game since I picked up Soul Caliber 3 way back when. My first systems were an Odyssey 2 and an IBM computer with two 5-inch floppy drives (you used one to run the operating system disk!) and my last system was a PS2. That's basically my range, give or take, and I certainly haven't covered everything between. I occasionally will sit back and watch a play through, and at least one of these was selected as a result of that, but this is an old school list, composed of games I grew up on or was blown away when later exposed to, and by top eleven, I basically mean top eleven favorite. It's a fuzzy eleven as well, with thought put into the arrangement, but some back and forth about which are better even after completing them. And one thing I really can't stress enough this is a soundtrack/score list, not a best song list. Which means some seemingly obvious choices might not make the list just because they have the greatest song in video gaming history. I'm listing games that have multiple songs (at least three, and even that's pushing it, with an ideal minimum of four) where multiple selections (again, if not all) from each are solid. When I'm done I'll address as few honorable mentions that just didn't make the list and I think you'll see this was somewhat of a reoccurring factor. I'm really not looking to get into a heated battles over which is better with any of these. If you know them, great, if not, I recommend giving them a listen.

Credit also should be given to Garudoh for his amazing youtube channel covering the history of video gaming music. I will link to it among others extensively throughout this.

#11. Dragon Spirit (NES)

Many games have changes in music quality and style from console to console so I'm going to at times stress which version I mean. In this case I found the NES version vastly superior to the arcade versions I found online.

As much as I love Spinal Tap, this is why it's a top eleven list. Perhaps my superior overall love of the other games on the list is a major reason I couldn't knock one out to put this in, but this is a game that's music is too good for an honorable mention in my book. The game while not bad is relatively easy and a little underwhelming, but my god, the music! It captures the scope and adventure of being a dragon flying over vast landscapes like nothing else, sucking you into the action, and making a mostly solid (the boss fights are a little too easy most of the time) but routine top-down flying game feel like a Peter Jackson epic.

Check out this 4-part playthrough by KamilDownna. I think listening to how the music plays with the action will really make clear how amazing an environmental score this is.

# 10. Maniac Mansion (NES)

Again, I only had access to the NES version, and while I'm told the PC was a better game all around I'm going with what I know. And what I know is that this is dripping with 80s bliss. Lucas Arts pulled out all the stops to give this soundtrack every ounce of umph the NES could muster. It evokes everything great about suburban horror. From The Burbs, and Goonies, to Night of The Creeps and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 80s were a good time for fun sci-fi influenced horror adventure comedy and this is one of the great examples of that asthetic, both for it's goofy in-game antics that would set the standard along with the Monkey Island games for that long lost golden era of Lucas Arts, but also for its soundtrack, which fully realized and embraced its every jock, geek, hairmetal rocker and leather jacket wearing hero.

I think I'll stop there for now, let people take in the video links and crank these out gradually. For some of these entries I don't have much to say, but others I have quite a bit. In total I think this will be a five or six part series depending on how much I choose to add to what I've already written.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Upcoming Stuff (Hopefully)

Job hunting and holiday festivities have made this blog's already low priority for me even lower of late, but I do hope to write more in the near future. Like many film geeks, yes, I am putting together a top five/ten/twenty films list of some sort. I'm hoping to do a variation on a top ten horror movies of the decade, but several problems have arisen that have delayed it. Most pressing of which is that there are at least six films from this decade that I as of yet have not gotten around to seeing and feel I should at least consider before releasing a list. These films being Antichrist, Thirst, They Came Back, Paranormal Activity, The Collector and Martyrs (which in particular I'm not looking forward to). Love them or hate them, each has made enough of a stir that I can't help but look them over. Beyond these I've been grappling with exactly what I mean by top-ten (or twenty as it may prove to be) and even by 'horror'. I'll expound on these dilemmas more as I approach them.

Beyond that I have a few preponderances about internet and film culture in a similar vein to my recent writings as well as a few thoughts about local cultural happenings. This blog will continue to be slow and ragged in its output. I just finished a rough draft of my second play and am showing the first to friends. Theater and job hunting are simply where my time are right now. And I'll confess the box sets of Bergman and Val Lewton films are not helping one bit either.

Happy New Year!