13 April 2014

An Eternity Measured



My entry for the Sci-Fi London 2014 48-hour storytelling competition. Late Friday evening, I was messaged with the following prompts to build the story around: 

"Title: AN ETERNITY MEASURED
Line: As far as I'm concerned you're 31 with a mental age of... Probably 12.
Theme: What if people could reproduce asexually?"

This is the result. It was a challenge, but immensely fun to work on.

Her eyes scanned the topmost shelf of the bookcase, empty save for three black books, each with a Roman numeral on its spine. The rest of the room was far less reserved and enigmatic. The walls were practically covered with black-framed photos of their gracious host shaking hands with various past presidents and other select world leaders. A few more were on some of the other shelves, propped up against photo albums and scrapbooks. The other shelves contained all various manner of mementos, most of them toys. Some she found quaint, even endearing, such as a rusty metal pickup truck, the kind her own grandfather likely would have had passed down to him. Others, though, struck her a bit less flattering, such as a diorama of a semi-nude slave girl chained to a pillar, the base bearing an undeniably barbarian-sounding name in gold foil. The circle of Mardis Gras beads around it didn't help. It was even starting to turn her stomach a bit. She wondered if those little black books up top were full of numbers arranged according to cute little pet names instead of real ones. She took a sip of her wine and tried to tell herself she was only projecting. 
It was late in the evening and the party had quieted down, apart from the occasional fit of raucous laughter from her boyfriend, having made it his mission to match each of her sips with a full glass. She took another sip and pinched the bridge of her nose as she heard footsteps from the stairwell, expecting it to be him. Another laugh from downstairs told her it wasn't. 
"Impressed?" it was their host, a man who'd cheated death three times thanks to modern science. She said nothing. Her boyfriend was convinced meeting this man would lead to some high-tier networking, thanks to all those famous and powerful people he'd met in his multiple lifetimes. She tried to inform him gently that simply knowing someone wasn't the same as having someone's ear or a direct line up a chain of command, but it was no use. "I'd ask if you'd like to see my etchings, but I don't think your guy would approve. He says that's how you met. Surprised he knows that routine, young as he is." It was the last straw. She hated that story. It wasn't true. He only told it to get a rise out of her, and now it was being used as an icebreaker to get in good with someone whose only claim to fame was being one of a dozen successful cloning experiments. 
"As far as I'm concerned, you're 31 with a mental age of... Probably 12." She shot him a dirty look. She didn't care anymore; she wanted to leave. If it meant offending the host, so be it. 
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but passive-aggressive quantifications of my emotional maturity make head feel no good, then all better." Considering she was expecting him to go for the obvious and make some snooty remark about how, once upon a time, having a childhood was a mark of distinction and class, that he went the mocking manchild route was something of a relief. She tried to hold back a smile, but gave in, a small chuckle coming with it. Looking down into her wine glass, she waved her free hand around, trying to think of where to start and how to phrase an apology. He cut her off, "I'm sorry. I'm not very good at entertaining. I'm more used to being a guest. Even then, I'm lucky if one joke or story clicks." 
She motioned to the diorama and beads with her glass, "If you want to try for two, I'm sure the story behind this is hilarious." He looked a little embarrassed, giving an "aw, shucks" sort of smile. 
"They're only technically mine. Old Mister Zero knew the guy who drew those comics when he was about half my age." he said, reaching up and taking down the first book, holding it as a preacher holds up a bible, putting his other hand to his heart and donning a comical Irish accent, "I was a different person back then, poppet." He replaced it and took down the second, this time only pinching its corner between his thumb and forefinger, waving it side-to-side, "You don't want to know what this guy was into." he put it back and took the third one down, flipping through a few pages. "This one's a work in progress." She could see they were simple notebooks, informal journals, and realized the reason for the shelf space. 
"Old Mister Zero? Not number one?" she nodded to the shelf. 
"He was ninety when he submitted his original material. Died about a year later. No memoirs."
"No family?" She asked, knowing the answer, and the awkward reason for it. 
He turned toward the pictures on the wall, turning the notebook over in his hands, "Clones are perfect copies, flaws and all. You need good genes to pass on. Luckily, he was the kind of guy insurance companies loved; no pre-existing conditions. No heart problems, no cancer, no diabetes... extraordinary by being ordinary. Almost a perfect specimen." He saw her blush a little, but gave a comforting smile before going on, "One hundred total candidates passed. Only half were successful, and only about a dozen of us have carried on. Number four will put me in the top three after I'm gone."
"What happened to them, the ones who didn't carry on?" She asked. 
"They decided to solve the birth rate problem the old-fashioned way, settling down and having families."
"I'm sorry," she said, feeling she'd put him on the spot. 
"I'm not. It's win-win, really. They get normal lives, and guys like me get their appearance gigs." He looked around at all the photos, sighing, "Of course, talk shows and garden parties can't pay bills forever. My stand up career clearly isn't going to take off, though I think my Irish accent's getting better." 
"So, what are you going to do to fill the book, besides your Father Ted impression?" 
He thought for a moment, "I've heard etching has become kind of a lost art." 

07 April 2014

Angel of Mercy


     The receptionist had no face to speak of, merely a blank, white void with a rather crass-looking speaker grill where a mouth would be. The head bobbed a little as prerecorded segments of speech were spliced and rearranged in real-time to answer simple questions or give directions. The subtle moves were made less so by the sausage curls of the stark, white wig swaying with each tinny syllable. The groomed loudspeaker chimed its canned answers from behind the reception desk, effectively obscuring the horrifically serpentine cluster of fiber optic cables and pneumatic hoses pouring out from the skirt of the white uniform. Its dress form of a body was completely motionless apart from its head and six furiously busy arms. One pair was typing away at a teletype machine, answering a call from a deaf patient. Another were shuffling and filing small computer punch cards whose exact advantage or even purpose was likely beyond the grasp of even the most tenured of staff. The fifth was running a finger over a stack of forms in a labyrinthine pattern, a magnetic sensor in the tip following the metallic ink lines of previous patients' handwriting. The last, after handing off a clipboard to a patient, went back to helping the literate lefty by moving read forms into an outbox. Like the face, the hair, and the uniform, the arms were clad in white, seamlessly ending in fine, silk gloves stretched over the long, spindly, spring-loaded fingers. The only item of color was the red cross in the dead center of the cap which was undoubtedly bolted to the head to keep the wig in place. 
     Susan imagined a technician standing behind the android, ratcheting the bolt loose to swap out the sausages for a swing bob or possibly dreadlocks festooned with pearly beads. She was so lost in her little daydream, looking back and forth between the animatronic octopus and the clipboard it had given her, that she'd completely tuned out what it was saying. The concussion she was in for wasn't helping, but she knew all she had to do was say "Repeat that" at any time. She also knew there was no one behind her, so she could probably say "Repeat that" as many times as she needed. What she didn't know was how many times she had already said "Repeat that." Her daze was broken when, while clumsily signing her name at the bottom of the form, a messy red drop beat her to the punch in dotting the "i" in her last name. She knew it was her own blood from the gash between her eyes; she'd felt it creep down her nose, welling up at the tip while ticking boxes on the triage form. What she hadn't realized was how much further it had crept beyond merely her nose. Looking down revealed a hand-sized red teardrop on her shirt. It wasn't this bad in the car ride over, she thought. Panic set in as she felt a presence behind her, and tried to form the words she'd lost count of saying. 
     "Room 106. To your right. Third door on the right." The male voice from behind Susan was distinctly non-mechanical, but almost as cold apart from the tinge of impatience. She awkwardly spun round to apologize, nearly saying sorry to an ID card on a lanyard dangling in front of a blurry splash of pastel pink. Looking up, she found she could no longer blink both her eyes at once, or very quickly, so clearing up her vision to get a better look at the man was a tedious ordeal. All she could really work out at first was that the pink of his scrubs didn't go very well with his olive skin. He leaned forward, which helped a little bit. "My God, that's really bad. I couldn't tell from down the hall. I thought you were just having fun." The impatience was gone, taking the coldness with it. He turned to his left to grab something off the cart he'd been pushing. 
     "I fell off a horse." She winced as she said it, realizing he hadn't even asked a question, let alone about what happened. 
     He gave her a puzzled look over his shoulder, "Why would you do such a thing?" She tried to roll her eyes, but got dizzy in the process, and shut her eyes while trying to keep her balance and formulate a retort. 
     "Look," she managed, trying in vain to point, "I've just been lectured by an answering machine with a stupid haircut, I don't need this from you." How much of this suddenly-difficult thought ended up in spoken words was just beyond Susan's grasp. Fortunately, it turned out to be enough. 
     "I apologize." he said, followed by a quick battery of questions, like if she was nauseous or felt chills or was short of breath, among others that all blurred together. She lazily swung her head from side-to-side in response to all of the above, even the one about feeling dizzy, which she was as shaking her head with her eyes still closed threw her balance completely off. A hand firmly grasped her arm, making her tense up with a start, dropping the clipboard. She opened her eyes to see him coming at her with a wad of gauze. She reflexively made fists, ready to reach up and push him away. When he gently pressed the gauze against the gash, she felt relief, and a bit of guilt over how defensive she was being. 
     "You need to apply pressure." He pushed a little harder on the wad of gauze with each word. She reached up, felt about for the compress, and slid her fingers under his. He let go, kneeling down to pick up the clipboard. She looked down, spotting the edge of a tattoo at the base of his neck. Some kind of star, she thought. He stood up, giving the clipboard a once-over before looking back to her. "Can you walk?" He asked. She didn't answer. "I'll walk you to your room." 
     "Thank you..." her eyes finally focused enough for her to read the ID, "Oliver." She found herself too easily amused at "Oliver with the olive skin." She was bad with names, always making up quick little mnemonics. So rarely did any of them fall into place this easily. 
     When they got to the room, Oliver tossed the clipboard onto the counter before guiding Susan onto the exam table and helping her lie down. He pinched her wrist between his thumb and forefinger, asking her to tell him what happened without looking up from his watch. She told him of how she and her friend were out riding when the cinch of her saddle snapped. She managed to roll as she fell, but the saddle fell the rest of the way with her, one of the stirrups hitting her right between the eyes. 
     "It wasn't bleeding like this in the car," she went on, "so I told my friend to just drop me off and come inside when he found a parking space." Oliver rolled up her sleeve and pressed a small handheld device against her forearm. There was a sudden warming sensation that ran up her wrist to her elbow, followed by three beeps. He pulled the device away, subtly mouthing whatever he was reading off of it, then glancing over at the clipboard on the counter. 
     "Well, Susan, the good news is it looks worse than it is. You may get a scar, but you won't need stitches. You haven't lost that much blood. A touch anemic, obviously, but it's nothing serious. I can just wheel in the Hemvac, clean up and bandage that gash while it's working--"
     "The what?" she interrupted. 
     "It's for transfusions. Don't worry, the name is the scariest part. You don't have any heart conditions, and you're not on any medications, so it should only take about fifteen minutes. Won't even need to call in an RN." 
     "Oh, only a one nurse town?" She joked, propping herself up on one elbow. 
     "I'm not a nurse. I'm an orderly." He saw her smile melt to a nervous quiver. He leaned in, assuring, "It means you're fine." He started to leave. "I'll have the doctor paged when I pass the reception desk. He'll give you your discharge instructions when we're all done." He got to the door, stopped, and turned back to her. "What's your friend's name?" 
     "Simon." She blurted amid trying to process his mile-a-minute prognosis. 
     "I'll see if he's in the waiting room yet, let him know you're all right." 
     "Thank you, Oliver." 
     "It's why I'm here," he smiled, closing the door behind him.
     Susan laid back down, staring up at the ceiling in silence. She pulled the gauze away from between her eyes and looked at the stain.  
     It looked like a star. 

This story was written in a weekend as a warm-up exercise for a 48-hour story telling contest happening later in the week. 

30 March 2014

NoWahT?

Got back from Noah, starring Russell Crowe and my first kid crush Jennifer Connelly (seriously, I lost count of how many times I saw Labyrinth as a kid), and I can't decide if I like it or not. About the only thing I can say without reservation is that it is one of the absolute weirdest films I've ever seen. Bear in mind, I was a film major, which means I've seen a lot of weird, disturbing, bizarre, and downright goofy stuff on screen that I cannot unsee. I'm not asking for a Purple Heart. I'm simply giving context and background to better hit home the point that this is not merely one of the strangest Biblical films you're likely to see, but one of the strangest films you're likely to see, full stop. The film is a nutty, synergistic mish-mash of post-apocalyptic sci-fi--complete with gas mining, aluminum siding, and even a grenade launcher--and high fantasy--complete with magic stones, flaming swords, and rock monsters--all wrapped up in a plot that's only quasi-Biblical at best. 

I'm not kidding about the rock monsters, by the way. 

While there is some Biblical precedent for these giants, they are one of the more fanciful licenses taken with the lore, even more than the magic rocks that make grenade launchers and pregnancy tests work. The trailer doesn't show so much as a hint of them, but they play a very significant role in the plot, if only up to about the halfway point. For what little they're on screen, though, they're the most fascinating film creatures I've seen in years. They have multiple, spindly arms, and hobble around on stumpy, lopsided legs. They twitch and jitter like doddering old folk, yet give them the task of protecting the ark from the last of humanity, and they will bust some heads. 

It may seem like I'm dwelling on these guys as a stalling measure to keep from giving any sort of final verdict on whether or not I liked the film and if I'd recommend it, and you'd probably be right. They are the highlight in that of all the disparate, even conflicting, elements that make up the film, they work the best. The remainder, especially what we're left with in the second half, is a little more haphazard and slapdash, like the movie forgot that it's supposed to be about Noah's Ark halfway through the story and spent the rest of the time ticking boxes on a checklist to make quota. Some boxes, though, get unchecked, and they're the ones that serve to illustrate how the story of Noah's Ark doesn't work adapt all that well to cinema compared to most other Bible stories like Moses or Samson and Delilah or even the story of Jesus. It works better as a vignette, like the tower of Babel or Abraham and Isaac or the story of Job. 

The main reason why the movie's few attempts to stay true to the original story fall flat is that it tries too hard to address some of the logistical issues of the deluge and the ark, namely matters of reproduction in the aftermath. Noah has three children, all boys, and only one of them has someone to take as a wife. Noah takes it upon himself to fix this problem, which might have worked as a main plot if it wasn't simply a fetch quest for baby-makers. That's not to say it's misogynistic or objectifying or anything like that; it doesn't have time to be. It simply isn't handled well, and the film virtually looks you in the eye and tells you in frankness not to get invested in this subplot, then goes through it anyway to waste time. A lesser film would have handwaved the matter altogether, but a better film would have made it central and offered up some great character development. To its credit, there is this very heart-wrenching scene in which Emma Watson's character is distraught over not being able to bear children, feeling like less of a woman for it. You could argue the gravitas of the situation, or at least the consolation offered up by Noah, gets made academic by way of a certain miracle at the hands of Sir Anthony Hopkins, but given that the damage was already done by the botched matchmaking, it's not worth nitpicking. In the end, it still manages to send a strong message about family not being about bloodlines but about compassion and love. 

Going through what does and doesn't work about Noah makes me think of what Kevin Smith said about his post-Askewniverse movies. To paraphrase, he said he'd rather make a movie he knows is flawed on some fundamental level than play it safe for appeal's sake because of the discussions the former will lead to. That's how Noah is. It's definitely divisive, but it's not polarizing. I don't think it's actually possible to wholly love or wholly hate this film. More likely, you'll pick and choose what works for you and what doesn't, kind of like what people do with the Bible. Let's just hope there's a lot less bloodshed than what that's led to over the centuries. I mean, if an argument about 300: Rise of an Empire can end in vehicular manslaughter... Hmm, we may be in trouble here. 

Stay safe, everybody. 

28 March 2014

Concept of Deceit

The trouble with games getting retitled upon release in various regions is that it you may completely miss a release because you literally don't know what to look for in searches or what to ask for in stores. For weeks, I'd been seeing trailers on Classic Game Room's trailer channel for a game called Conception, specifically, Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars. I had no real interest in it, so when I saw something else called Deception IV: Blood Ties, with somewhat similar-looking video thumbnails and artwork, I skipped over it. In fact, it wasn't until today that I decided to check on its official page in the PSN store. 

I suddenly felt very, very dumb. 

In my defense, the Deception series has gotten the Final Fantasy treatment when it comes to installment names, and I don't merely mean "IV being II" or "VI being III." I mean, Final Fantasy Legend and Mystic Quest-levels of "where did this come from and where does it belong?" 

Backing up, the first game in this apparently very long series that I played was Kagero II: The Dark Illusion. When I first heard of it, it was called Code Kagero. That article mentioned it being a sequel to a game called Tecmo's Deception, an early Playstation release from 1996. The games are a kind of action/strategy/puzzle synergy, feeling like an odd mix of Resident Evil and the skate park editor from the Tony Hawk games, if you can picture that. I always liked describing Kagero II (which was released as Trapt in 2005, but I refuse to call it by that name) thusly: 

"You play a beautiful princess in a gorgeous mansion... who makes a deal with a demonic spirit to give her the power to fight off bounty hunters after she's framed for her father's murder."

The setup is that you're being pursued by bounty hunters (and anyone else allured by the price on your head) who generally move fairly slowly, yet hit very hard. Your only real defense is running. Apart from that, and thanks to your demonic contract, you have the ability to pull booby traps out of thin air. When you enter a menu, the game freezes and the room gets broken up into a grid. You can set three different types of traps: ones that come out of the ground such as bear traps, ones that fall from the sky like boulders, and ones that come out of the wall like arrows. Each trap is assigned to a controller button. You decide where they're placed in the room, triggering them with the assigned button. The trade-off is that you have to lure the baddies close enough to you to get ensnared without getting hurt yourself. The other issue is that some traps take longer to set up than others. So, if a trap doesn't work, and you decide to assign another trap to pick up the slack, you'll have to stall. The traps can often work in conjunction with the mansion's architecture and decor, including torches, stained-glass windows, electric chairs, spike pits, and mechanical alligators, to name a very small sample. 

I frigging love this game. 

I freely admit it appeals to the sadist in me. As much as I'm not big on fantasy settings, there's something perpetually intriguing about castles, dungeons, secret rooms, and hidden passages. I also love the moral ambiguity, the way you question your actions (and delight in them) as your victims mutter pensive final statements as they meet sticky ends, to say nothing of the greater plot behind the scenes involving your father's murder. It definitely has its problems. It gets very repetitive and falls victim to the dominant strategy conundrum. Points earned help you purchase different traps, but you'll often find yourself sticking to a pattern of the same handful of devices, leaving you very little incentive to experiment. Still, the pros outweigh the cons and I consider the game a masterpiece. It was a fairly late release on the Playstation 2, and I was convinced I wouldn't see another entry in the series for some time, if at all. 
Now, nearly ten years later, not only does it get a sequel, and not only does it get to come stateside, but it completely flies under my radar with a name I don't recognize, and barely makes sense as a title. 

In fact, Blood Ties isn't even the proper name of the game. It's Dark Side Princess (which sounds way more badass). Even the IV isn't accurate as the game is labeled as a direct sequel to Kagero II. Remember how the Rambo series' first film is simply called First Blood, with Rambo being the "over title" of First Blood, Part 2, with Rambo III dropping the "First Blood" part altogether? Kagero II is technically Deception IV, but it's called Kagero II because it follows Kagero: Deception III. Is it any wonder this series is so obscure not only in America, but in Japan as well? 

So, given all I've gone on about the series, how I felt dumb, then excited, then confused, then back to excited, the question remains: will I be picking up the game? Not right away. There's a few dealbreakers that sour the package despite all the praise I foisted upon it. 

Firstly, the game is produced by Tecmo, who recently merged with Koei. I wasn't happy about this merger, as Tecmo saw fit to insert characters from its Ninja Gaiden franchise into Koei's Warriors Orochi games. That should make me happy, as the Samurai Warriors series is another staple of my PS2 top 5. However, it simply makes me sad. 

That's a minor gripe, though. The biggest problem is a matter of time and money. Deception IV has been released on PSN for Playstation 3 and Vita, but is not cross-buy. As much as I get why not every game gives you both the console and portable version for a single asking price, I feel like this is a huge misstep for a series that didn't really catch on outside of a very niche market in the states. A game like this really deserves to be played on the PS3, but I've been favoring my Vita of late. Whichever version I got, I wouldn't be completely happy with it, but their combined price isn't exactly worth it to me. The other issue is simply that I've reached a point where there's too many games out there and too many games in my library for me to spring for another. Child of Light is on its way, along with Hyper Light Drifter, and Wayforward will soon be delivering on the new Shantae game I preordered during the Kickstarter campaign. As far as current playing habits go, I've been really invested in Pinball Arcade, specifically the Gorgar and Black Knight tables. Speaking of pinball, Zen Studios recently announced a new 4-table pack for the Star Wars line, including a Han Solo-themed table and even one focusing on the Droids. So much to do, so little time. Wait for me, dear Deception IV... or come to Playstation Plus, whichever comes first. 

Here's a recent trailer for Deception IV

15 March 2014

Dear Grail Diary, Still Looking...

It should not surprise me that someone would make a replica of the grail diary from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. By the law of averages, someone would have to take up the task of meticulously recreating something that is only flashed on screen a few times in the course of the film. Actually, it turns out recreating it is not all that tedious; the LucasArts graphical adventure game of Last Crusade, released in 1989, came with a manual/hint book that may not have fooled any prop collectors, but did (in theory) foil a few software pirates. Given that, it's also no surprise that more than one person has recreated the diary. 
What does surprise me is simply how much of a cottage industry making these things has become, whether it's on DeviantART, Etsy, or eBay, not to mention the myriad of tutorial sites out there. I suppose it would only make sense since, despite all the merchandising of Indiana Jones over the years, an officially licensed version is strangely absent. The "Journal of Impossible Things" from a single episode of the revived Doctor Who series is available, but not the life's work of Dr. Henry Jones, Sr.. Something equally baffling to me, was seeing that someone on eBay named amazingthings678 not only recreate the grail diary, but take the challenge a step further by miniaturizing it. 


I see this and I think at first, "Oh, cute, he found a little notebook and put a hairband around it so it sort of looks like--" then you see the inside: 


In the words of the University of Chicago admissions department, "Why so awesome?"

05 March 2014

Lootcrate

As I mentioned on my Twitter feed, I decided to give Lootcrate a shot after seeing it featured on Rev3 Games and more recently on Dr. Ashen's YouTube channel. If you don't know what it is, it's basically a grab bag; you get a box of random stuff each month. Said stuff, if past "crates" are anything to go by, includes a lot of blindbox figures, buttons, decals, and the odd t-shirt, among other things. It's a bit silly, overall, but I can appreciate the niche novelty and, by dammit, that's the kind of bold business venture I want to support... if only briefly. I don't think I'll stick with the service, but we'll see. 
As this is a grab bag, it's likely I'll like some of what's in the crate, and not care much for the rest. To that end, and a big reason I decided to go for it, I'll be passing along whatever I don't want, try to make a few people smile. I'm actually a tad anxious about the first box I'll get as the coupon code they posted to their site was "TITAN" which, given this is geek/gaming related stuff, could mean anything from Titanfall to Attack on Titan. I could honestly care less about the former, and have even written a painfully long essay on how not interested I am in the latter. Admittedly, I have reneged on a few points since I wrote it, but not many (i.e. the skinless titan still looks fricking stupid). 
While I don't think I'll be doing unboxing videos or anything like that (seems a bit pointless, as each box is technically unique), the fact is I'm terrible at guessing what people might like, and would like to avoid simply sending things willy-nilly every which way. So, I will be making the odd post now and again or, if I happen to be on Skype with you or PMing you somewhere like DeviantARTFacebookTwitter, or Google+, I may ask out of the blue if you want something. For the record, these will be gifts. I don't want any money or shout-outs, and I'm definitely not shilling for Lootcrate (though they did give me a referral link, which I'd appreciate you using if, by chance, your interest is piqued and you want to sign up). However, if you really want to return the favor somehow, I won't stop you. Void where prohibited, no obligation, cancel anyt---DAMMIT! 

25 February 2014

A 1300USD Textbook

And Further Proof of How Boring I Am

Many, many years ago, I visited my brother and his wife when they were living in Arizona where she taught French to spoiled, bratty rich kids whose parents clearly knew they weren't cut out for Ivy League despite being able to afford it. While there, we went to a museum showcasing the treasures of China's Forbidden City. It was a very nicely laid out, extremely fascinating exhibit, helped in part by something I'd never heard of before called an audio tour. 
In the old days, some displays would have these weird telephone receivers on hooks in front of them. They didn't have microphones, only the earpiece. You held it to your ear and listened to a looped recording of a narration. Now, depending on the exhibit, you get a small MP3 player with a number pad on it. Each display has a number on it, and entering that number plays a relevant track. I remember being so fascinated by this I wrote down the name of the company branded on the player. I may have visited the site once, but it was years ago and I've forgotten the name of that specific manufacturer. 
However, if they folded, it was likely by competition, because now a simple search for "audio tour" yields a number of service providers. Apparently it's become the norm. It even has a Wikipedia page. It seems a bit sad that a tour guide has been replaced by a machine, but at least it's still a person making the recording, and you're not navigating around herds. 
Obviously, this is a very commercial idea, keeping tours as efficient as possible to cut back on crowding and increase turnaround in patronage, but anything that starts commercial can always have an artistic, more personal touch applied to it. It's how any artistic medium starts. I went to the Wikipedia article and found an article under Further Reading entitled, "Speeches of Display: Museum Audioguides by Artists" by Jennifer Fisher. Sounds like exactly what I'm after, I thought.

ISBN: 0920397808

It is a textbook that costs over 1000USD. The used price is around 200USD. 

The individual article, luckily, is only 6USD. 

02 February 2014

Consumer's Blights (Venusian Radio)


Venusian Radio: The Cell Phone Episode by crystanubis

First episode to feature the new intro and closing sequences, as well as the first to have a video version posted to DailyMotion for more convenient listening options. In it, I share some experiences working for a big, evil cellular service provider that had the sheer nerve to charge people money for using their services. Bastards! 

Dropbox download

19 January 2014

Singularity-minded (Venusian Radio)

Venusian Radio: The FPS Episode


Originally, this was going to be an off-the-cuff and unscripted little exercise while working the bugs out of a new audio setup, but I thought better of it. You guys deserve more than that. 

Download the MP3 (Dropbox)

The Spoony One's review of Bioshock: Infinite

Giant Bomb's mini-wiki page on Audio Logs

My YouTube video about Audio Logs

Have I mentioned I like the game Singularity