Friday, January 8, 2016

Life and Eggs

Life is like a carton of eggs.

Unbroken and pristine, dreaming of doing great things beyond the carton lid.

...only to be smashed, boiled, fried or stirred upon departure.


At least you contributed to making something delicious. We salute you for your sacrifice.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Subjectivity, Effort and Art

There is no such thing as writing without effort.
In a way, writing = effort.
The more effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
The same goes for creating.
Creating = effort.
The more effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
Games, movies, TV shows, books, music, storytelling, acting, crafting, drawing, sandwich creating...


Art. This blog post suddenly looks a lot classier.

How much effort is needed before something can be considered "art" and enjoyed by the public? Marcel Duchamp, the founder of the Dada art movement and creator of this inherently fabulous piece of art (in which he took a porcelain urinal, inscribed R MUTT 1917 on the side, and exclaimed "THIS IS ART"), would probably say something along the lines of "Art does not have to be about effort. I chose; therefore my choice is art." The act of deciding to pass off a signed porcelain urinal as art is, in itself, art. Basically, according to people like Duchamp, anything can be art.

It's a valid theory, and one I'm incline to agree with whenever I'm stuck trying to create something. I'd think back to this urinal and say to myself "Man, I'm tired. Oh well. I'll just create something in like five seconds and pass it off as avant-garde". And then I'd write a poem or something, like this:

DOG (by me)
The dog.

And then, ideally, some art critic somewhere would write some review like:

Critic's Review of the Poem DOG (by me)
Wow. This here, my fellow fellows, is an amazing poem; a completely enlightening experience. The poem is SIMPLE...all it takes is five words (less than three letters each), and already the image of a dog is conjured in my mind! Wow! There must be a deeper meaning behind this masterful work of art. The poem highlights the relationship between written word and mental perception, the HIDDEN BEAUTY behind aligning simple two-letter and three-letter words in his or her eyes and transferring that simplicity over to the subconscious, the mind-eye, where a complex mental image is formed based on the reader's past experiences. So THIS POEM, this AMAZING MASTERPIECE POEM, is basically a portal into the individual soul, representing something DIFFERENT based on an individual's PAST EXPERIENCES. One person reading the poem will imagine a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DOG than the next person, unless there's a Jesus dog out there touching the hearts of many a sentient being. So IN ESSENCE, this poem is a MASTERPIECE.

Wow. Deep.

But really, simplicity can be enjoyed just as much as something more complex. But can effort really be subverted by simplicity? Can art really be interpreted as anything, even as a simple toilet with a signature penned on it?

Sometimes subjectivity pisses on effort, and sometimes that very same subjectivity rewards that very same effort. I think my dog is better than your dog. You think your dog is better than my dog. We both agree that our dogs are better than Harry's sad excuse for a dog. Different opinions on the same dogs, with vastly different results.

Subjectivity, effort and art. It's there; we just can't understand any of it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Music and Atmosphere of Horror Games

Music is important. I hear that from a lot of people many, many times, and frankly, I agree. Music has so much power over individual perception, no matter what the medium is. Feeling awkward? Music to the rescue! Feeling sad? Music to the rescue! Feeling happy? Music to the... now I feel sad. But yeah, music is a powerful tool that can influence perceptions.

So today I will talk about music, video games, and atmosphere.

More specifically, I will be talking about the music and atmosphere of a certain family friendly video game whose main objective is to have players frolic around a happy fun place and take pretty pictures of all the nice happy inhabitants of Happy Fun Land.

Of course, I'm referring to:

Sorry, Pokemon Snap fans.

Project Zero II/Fatal Frame II, the Tecmo horror title with two English monikers (one EU and one US respectively), four pairs of twins and a creepy storyline that will invade the collective subconscious minds of all who dare pick up the controller and wander through the cursed Lost Village alone or with equally damned company. The Fatal Frame series in general is a nightmare-inducing machine, and like with many other horror titles, a large portion of the atmosphere can be attributed to the aural soundscapes lurking beneath the horizon, just beyond the players' peripherals.

I mean, just listen to the soundtrack sample linked above (Fatal Frame II OST #10: Osaka Family Altar). What does your mind think of when you hear the deep rolling bass and echoing chimes creeping all around you?

Gee, I dunno. Pink fluffy bunny mascots?

I know, I know. Pink fluffy bunny mascots. What the heck. You'd think pink fluffy bunny mascots would be the last thing to pop into your mind when you listen to disturbing soundtracks. But it's not too off base. I'm sure some of you know where I'm getting at here:

Pause all the music, close your eyes, and imagine a pink fluffy bunny mascot in your head. What comes to your mind? Chances are you probably came up with something like this, cheesy carnival music and all:

Hey kids! Want a balloon?

Okay. Now scroll back up, play the Fatal Frame soundtrack, close your eyes again, and imagine that same pink fluffy bunny mascot in your head. What comes to mind now?

Heyyyy...kidddss... Heeheeheeheeheehohohohahaha....

See that? Cue some atmospheric Fatal Frame nightmare fuel, and one perfectly normal bunny mascot morphs into the creepiest moneyfondler on the planet.

We are legion.

To establish an atmosphere, a video game needs to have some form of music. It could be any type of music: Ambient, soundtrack orchestral, DnB, rock, metal, hip hop, etc. Horror games in particular rely heavily on disturbing aural caterpillars (A specific breed of ambient sound) to keep the illusion intact. Look up a track in any horror game soundtrack, and your ears will inevitably be treated to something similar to "#10: Osaka Family Altar". So, how exactly does the music of a horror game influence the player's mind? I mean, at it's core the track is just a set of low dissonant chords with some bass and reverb mixed in. There really isn't all that much to it, is there?

Well, that's the thing. Low dissonant chords. Bass and reverb. The atmospheric elements of a good horror game soundtrack (or horror anything soundtrack) lie within the capabilities of the sounds to rub against each other the wrong way, to induce a sense of dread on the ears and to say to the player "Hey, there's this thing lurking in the background that is sorta there but kinda sorta not there, and you may end up meeting this thing any time now because screw your sanity." It's like having the player stuck in a room with a rusty, dusty jack-in-the-box in the center of said room. The player hears the jack-in-the-box ticking, and knows that at any time now some demented clown-faced face is going to pop out of the box and surprise the crap out of him or her. But even thought the player knows this, he or she doesn't know when it's going to pop out, which is extremely unsettling because the anticipation is just gnawing at his or her mind. The player's first impulse, therefore, is to relieve the anticipation by getting out of the room ASAP before the freaky thing pops out of the box.

But the player can't escape the music.


As long as the game is in the console (or PC), as long as the player is even remotely invested in the events unfolding beyond the screen, the music is going to be there, lurking, waiting, watching. The player can kill all the zombies/shadows/specters in the world, but the player can't kill the music. The player can't stop the sounds in the background from feeding in the dissonant chords, reverb and bass.

The monsters can be stopped.

The horror can never be stopped.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

First Post!

Hello, and welcome to the Blog of Lesser Proportions, where I (the blogger) will blog (on this blog) about various things that interest me (about blogs) such as video games, movies, books, music and anything in between. This blog will feature comments, critiques, observations, cross analyses, random snippets of personal information, feelings, all sorts of off-topic conundrums, etc. Bloggers blog about these things, right? 

The language of this blog will be rather informal, that is, unstructured and free-flowing. So think of our time together here as a fireside chat, only less flammable, less tangible, and less chatty. Well, I've kind of run out of things to talk about. It's the first post, after all. First posts are always the hardest to write. What's that, Random Character From Louis Sachar's Novel Holes Who Is Too Obscure To Be Named Here? "Second hole's the hardest to dig because you get tired and the fun's gone"? Psh, yeah right. I live to write, man, and this blog's only going to get better from here on out. This blog...WILL RISE ABOVE THE ASHES OF ALL MY PREVIOUS FAILED ATTEMPTS AT BLOGGING AND BECOME THE GLOD OF BLOGS!!!


Fear me! -hic-

I leave this post questioning my sanity and the word "blog" itself. Seriously, blog. Blog blog blog. BLOG. It sounds weird. Well, see you next time. Hopefully, I'll actually have some insight lined up for you guys then. :)