27 April 2009

I Tawt I Taw a Tweety Bird

I finally signed up on Twitter, just to see what the buzz is all about. Not sure about it yet, I'll have to wait till I've connected with a few more people and the tweets start flowing.

Thing is, I'm already fairly active on Facebook, and there's considerable overlap in the concepts. Of course Twitter is a more public medium, and I have no reason not to keep my tweets public. But, frankly, I think pretty much all who could be interested in reading them are already friends on Facebook.

Don't know if I picked a bad time to visit, but for a supposedly simple site Twitter seems surprisingly slow and cumbersome. Even the mighty bloated Facebook seems to work smoother...

You can find me here if you want.

23 April 2009

Oh But I Was So Much Older Then

Building on the theme of the previous post, a little more about me and music. It's interesting to look at how my taste in music has developed over the years.

As a child I started out mostly listening to music from the 50's and early 60's, Elvis, Chuck Berry, The Beatles' earlier works... In my teens I proceeded to late 60's psychedelics, particularly The Beatles' later works and The Byrds. In my later teens I discovered a few artists from other decades that carried on the feel of the 60's in some way: Tom Petty, Tracy Chapman, Dire Straits... Of course there were also later recordings from artists who begun their careers in the 60's.

The first major change came at the very end of my teen years when I discovered anime and japanese video games. Video game music became a defining feature of my listening habits in my early 20's, though all the all favourites still remained strong. I also discovered demoscene music through getting acquainted with tracker software, originally from a desire to create music similar to my video game favourites. Also in my early 20's I got very interested in progressive rock, particularly Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant. It could be said that my main musical interest proceeded from the 60's to the 70's.

Now, in my later 20's, I've witnessed my musical interests becoming ever wider and wider. While at some point I might have described my taste as mostly 60's and 70's rock music, I'd have to describe it as rather eclectic these days. Particularly interesting has been the addition of more modern genres that I had very little interest in, even an aversion to, previously, namely various forms of electronica and heavy metal.

My taste for both probably mostly grew out of my taste for video game music, as well as other soundtrack records (and maybe demoscene music as well). I discovered these kinds of music worked very well in certain contexts, and gradually certain artists begun to appeal to me outside of specific contexts as well. I should put emphasis on 'certain artists'. I don't really listen to any genre for the genre's sake. Each artist has it's own, special appeal, and in most cases I'm not particularly interested in the majority that a genre has to offer.

It's almost like I'm growing younger, beginning with a taste for the oldies and progressing gradually to more current music... In any case, it has been an interesting journey, and has resulted in a wonderfully varied (but still rather picky) taste in music.

22 April 2009

Concerning Blacksmiths and Metal

Generally speaking, there are very few examples of Finnish music and cinema that appeal to me. There are probably many reasons for this. One is that, having an English father, I was exposed to a large variety of English (and American) music, literature and cinema from a young age. English is the language of music for me. It's not that I disrespect music sung in Finnish, it's just never been a part of my life, so it sounds wrong to me.

Another reason, which applies particularly to cinema, lies simply in my nature, the type of story and aesthetic that appeals to me. This isn't, at least in whole, a result of my heritage; I'm sure a lot of Finnish people, especially of younger generations, share similar tastes. I've always been mainly attracted to fantasy and science fiction, epic stories often of a highly visual nature, and we simply don't have the resources to make that kind of movies in this small country.

And this is obviously the part where we come to the exceptions to the rule. I just watched Jade Warrior for the second time, and I still think it is a brilliant movie, both in story and visual aesthetic, and not only in comparison to other Finnish movies. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Lordi movie Dark Floors, but of course that has so few specifically Finnish elements that I'm not sure it even counts as an example.

The story of my taste for Finnish music, on the other hand, is inseparably entangled with another story, the story of discovering metal music. I grew up listening mostly to 60's music, and others who carried on the tradition (like Tom Petty, whom I discovered through other artists who begun their career in the 60's). While I greatly enjoyed some harder rock, such as the Rolling Stones, and later Queen and AC/DC, I steered clear of metal music for a long time.

In the late 90's I discovered Japanese video games and through them the world of video game music. This also opened the door for electronic music in general. Then came The Black Mages, an album of music from the Final Fantasy games re-arranged as metal. It was a great album and together with the later Black Mages albums remains among my favourites. I came to the conclusion, that musically some forms of metal music had a great appeal for me. However, most of the non-game metal I heard was ruined by unappealing, even annoying singers, and an overall attitude that tended to be so over-the-top in its supposed darkness and wickedness that it ended up being ridiculous, and not in a good way. No offence to you metal afficionados out there, that's just how my taste is.

Fast forward to 2006. Our own Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest. I found their tongue-in-cheek humour and horror movie themes to be appealing in a way that the majority of heavier rock artists I'd heard had never been. It took a year or two to really get into it, but these days I'm a big fan.

Now, I recently saw a hilarious YouTube clip of misheard lyrics to Wishmaster by Nightwish. I happened to be in a mood for some suitably atmospheric heavier music, so I figured it was about time to get better acquainted with this domestic giant. And I discovered I enjoyed it greatly. Musically Nightwish is just the kind of metal I seem to enjoy, epic, often fast paced, yet atmospheric and emotional symphonic/power metal, not unlike The Black Mages and other Japanese video game music. The frequent fantasy themes are also right up my alley (although I must admit I haven't had a chance to really pay attention to much of the lyrical content yet).

It's curious that, video game music aside, the two examples of heavier music I've most enjoyed thus far are both Finnish. And just as curious that pretty much the only examples of Finnish music I enjoy represent the heavier side of rock.

To end this longish post, I should perhaps make the clarification that the fact that I've lately been painting my nails black does not stem from heavy metal or goth style, but rather from glam style and artists like The Ark.

16 April 2009

Howling at the (Hollywood) Stars

I just watched the movie Cursed by Wes Craven. It wasn't incredibly original or impressive, but, well, I'd just like to put it on record that Christina Ricci is incredibly hot and I've had a little crush on her for a long time already.

12 April 2009

Another DM Gone to the Great Game Table in the Sky

Just a little over a year after we heard of Gary Gygax's passing, Dave Arneson, the other man behind the original Dungeons & Dragons, has passed away at the age of 61.

What I said after Gygax died is still true. These men created a whole new medium for entertainment and creativity, and the impact it has had on my life can scarcely be measured.

I still haven't gotten around to running another D&D game, and it won't be my next game either. But some day...

11 April 2009

Corner-Eye Gloom

Did it rain for an eye-blink?
Or did it snow?
A corner-eye gloom
in place of this calm?
The skies may be clear
but I can't see them,
blocked out
by the cold, frozen flame
of a street lamp.
A corner-eye gloom
I wish for, tonight,
an edge to the calm:
sharp, cold, burning
but all I get
is that cold, frozen flame,
and it blurs.

6 April 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

I just learned that Andy Hallett, best known as Lorne from Angel, has recently passed away, at the age of 33. Lorne was a memorable and lovable character, and Hallett really brought him to life. And he was such a talented singer as well... It's a little ironic, perhaps, that most of the world never had a chance to know his real face. Too soon gone, way too soon.

2 April 2009

The Watchmen Post

I've now had a chance to finally read Watchmen and see the movie twice. There isn't much to say, really. I enjoyed both the comic and movie thoroughly. The comic is classic Alan Moore, and the movie possibly the best superhero movie made to date (even with the changes to the ending, which, luckily, were fairly well written and, just possibly, even more plausible than the original, though some of the dialogue near the end could perhaps have been trimmed).

Though I love the genre, there are rather few real masterpieces in it, with the possible exception of a couple of the Batman movies. (I haven't actually seen The Dark Knight yet, I must confess.) But of course the same can be said for any adaptations of stories to new media. And basically all (serious) superhero movies are adaptations of comic book characters, aren't they?