Top Ten Albums of 2013

 I’ve made up lists of best albums for ages but this is the first time I’ve posted one outside of social media. So a quick disclaimer: this doesn’t represent G&G’s staff picks or anything, just mine. This was a really hard year to pick. The past three years have been absolutely excellent for music but 2013 may be the best of the century so far. Any of the top six below could be number one and I rearranged them a few times. Slots seven through ten could switch out with any of my honorable mentions easily. Heck, that I had to make an honorable mentions list at all just to sort the sheer volume of really good stuff is remarkable. Then you have all of the excellent singles out in the techno and deep house scenes this year and, well, there’s just a ton to deal with. 10. DIANA – “Perpetual Surrender”: I wouldn’t even know about this group had they not opened up for Austra on their recent tour. Expecting nothing much, I was really impressed by what Diana put on display: an energetic, jazzy synth style, flirting with influences like Sade and 80s era Roxy Music. It’s only natural that we’d end up here, with electronic music of all sorts surging into an unprecedented era of critical acclaim on the back of repurposing older styles for a new century. We’ve done industrial, cold wave, techno, rave, house, and everything in between. Why not draw on the mellower, dare I say smoother, forms of the metagenre? That it’s done with such skill is what surprised me; this isn’t usually my thing...
A Non-Gamer Goes to Gencon 2013

A Non-Gamer Goes to Gencon 2013

<!-- P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } --> Our time at Gencon was cut woefully short this year due to lack of babysitting (one grandma just started a new job, and the other is a teacher…yeah, I understand Gencon’s overlords don’t want to hold it the same weekend as PAX or another big con, but if maybe they could hold it sometime that is not the week school begins in my state, that would be great). We arrived Friday evening and left Sunday afternoon. Because of this the weekend felt rushed, since we had to pack four days’ worth of awesomeness into two, but hey, short Gencon is better than no Gencon. Since we didn’t get to Indy until 6, I assumed we’d be waiting in line a while to pick up our badges at Will Call. I figured the locals would be getting off work and coming to grab their own badges…but I was wrong. There was no wait. Not even sixty seconds. Not even ten seconds. We walked right up and got our stuff with no trouble. The guy in the booth turned out to have gone to our alma mater as well, so we chatted about that (sorry I didn’t get your name, cool friendly guy!). <!-- P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } --> We were meeting a friend for dinner, but he wouldn’t arrive until 9, so we wandered around the convention center a bit, discovering the arcade room, which was packed with elderly arcade games including The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and others my husband knew but I didn’t because I never played many...
The Devil Came Down To Richmond

The Devil Came Down To Richmond

“Have you guys heard the D-Devils?” It was 2006 and the voice belonged to my good friend Rachael. The question was addressed to my wife and I. The answer was that no, we had not heard the D-Devils. So we did and there we were, all three of us squished in Rachael’s tiny car, zipping around the streets of Richmond, laughing until we cried. Rachael, a frenetic ball of laughter, turquoise hair, tattoos, and piercing, knew every word. She shouted the lyrics, such as they were, exulting in the goofiness, punctuating each line with effortless, raucous laughter. This went on for a few hours, before and after meals out, on and on, beat out by the steady metronome of that song. Here’s what we know: the D-Devils are Belgian. Very Belgian. They have two full albums out, “Dance With the Devil” and “No Future Without Us”, from 2001 and 2003, respectfully. This meant that, by 2006, they were already well into past due status in the quickly moving world of electronic subgenres. Today, they’re ancient, with a website which hasn’t been updated since 2010 (I’ve no idea why it was updated for even that long). The D-Devils are about schtick and, oh my, what schtick it is. They dress like devils, prosthetic horns and all, go on stage, and play what discogs.com refers to as trance, but is really closer to The KLF’s stadium house, albeit updated with newer bleeps and bloops (it should be noted that The KLF was dedicated to schtick, as well, and that the D-Devils’ sound is shockingly close to those other inheritors of The...
Tarsem & I: A Love/Hate Story

Tarsem & I: A Love/Hate Story

I have a weird relationship with Tarsem Singh, the movie director who is usually credited as ‘Tarsem’ because it sounds more chic. I love him occasionally, I hate him mostly, and I still get excited and hopeful when I find out he’d doing a new movie like this one. (also, ‘panopticon’ is a cool word) Tarsem started out in music videos, including the pretty neat one for R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”, which features lots of people with wings and Michael Stipe looking depressed. (they seem so surprised when an elderly angel falls into their house; I guess they’ve never read any South American magical realism) Then he moved on to movies, beginning with The Cell in 2000. It’s a film about a serial killer and the psychiatrist who literally moves into his head to figure out where his next victim is. It’s not a great movie, but it has some interesting visuals, some gorgeous costumes (shut up I’m a girl) and Tarsem shows us what the inside of a horse looks like, which is thoughtful of him. It helps that Vincent D’Onfrio is the bad guy and he’s completely fucking crazy anyway. All in all, The Cell was a 90-minute Nine Inch Nails video. Not surprising for a music video director, and it showed promise. The next Tarsem movie I saw was sublime. The Fall is about just that- literal and figurative falling. A movie actor who’s been paralyzed in a stunt gone wrong befriends a little girl who is healing from her own fall, and spins an epic tale for her to pass the time (and for other,...
Weird History: Kowloon Walled City

Weird History: Kowloon Walled City

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> After seeing a lifetime’s worth of Hong Kong films, I decided I never wanted to live there; when I thought about it, even the idea of a visit made me shudder. Part of it was the certainty that I would be caught in the middle of a cop/criminal gun battle on a bus or in the street or at a bar or a convenience store. The other part is that Hong Kong is really, really crowded. It’s an island, after all, one that’s packed to the brim with people. People who sometimes even live in cages because there isn’t room for them all (and they’re poor). And I just don’t like crowds. Or cities. Or people, for that matter. So Kowloon Walled City would have been my worst nightmare. <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> The rundown: Kowloon Walled City (hereafter known as KWC) was originally a Chinese fort, but in the late 1800’s is became a sort of enclave and people just moved in. After World War II the population increased (basically, a bunch of squatters moved in and the ruling British government gave up trying to throw them out), and by 1987 there were 33,000 people living in this 6.5 acre area. Got that? Thirty-three thousand people. My father-in-law owns a couple hundred acres, and I can’t imagine fitting 33,000 people in that space, let alone a measly 6 ½ acres. As usually happens when there are too many people and not enough space, KWC expanded up. <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> The government didn’t want much...
Live Event! Fiasco: Podcasters Special on Google+

Live Event! Fiasco: Podcasters Special on Google+

If your Saturday nights are as crazy-busy as mine (which is to say ‘not at all’…) why not tune in to the Fiasco: Podcasters Special this weekend as a handful of game-gab cognoscenti gather on Google+ to debase themselves for your amusement? The roster will be: Rich Rogers (Canon Puncture, Screen Play), Megan Pedersen (The Jank Cast), Ryan Shelton (Roll For News), and Alex Mayo (Geeky and Genki) – with moderation provided by Mark Diaz Truman! The fun starts at Saturday April, 20th @ 6:30 EST and you can RSVP...