Saturday, December 09, 2006

So maybe there is hope for gaming after all. At least, hope for my gaming experiences, which I once thought to be long-gone. Was I just being lazy in not seeking out the works of true quality? Probably, but given my lack of interest to play even games that I truly do love and respect, perhaps it was just a phase I had to go through.

Oh, hang on though, perhaps I speak too soon. Or at least, too loosely, because I think what I really mean is that the interest is back, if only for the moment; what is conspicuously absent is the actual, you know, gaming itself. The last few weeks, I've found it most entertaining reading about all manner of games at great length, but I can count on a finger the amount of hours I've actual spent playing. It might be that I am cursed to just love thinking about games, rather than play them!

At any rate, I think it is moderately safe to say that I have a year or two of this interest left in me. I wouldn't do anything silly like say that there is a foreseeable long-term future or anything, because you never know when the MMORPG will swallow everything in its wake.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I posted earlier about something being amiss in IE7; perhaps all that was really missing was familiarity? Without quite realizing it, I seem to have more or less migrated to IE7, with Firefox sitting sadly unused. I don't know that there's any particular reason for me to have gone with IE7, but I remember that when the final release came out, I thought it would be best to "test it out", as it were. Sadly for Firefox, the "testing" process continues...

The funny thing is, I still think the UI could be better! Is it just that I was using Firefox for the tabs alone!?! to wait until Firefox 3 comes out.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alas, I do not have handy the piece that inspired this response. Not that I would have shared it anyway.

Maybe I'm just getting jealous, is that it? I don't remember being so witty, so knowledgeable, so mired in irony and whimsy at your age, when the opportunities for biting satire were so ripe. I suppose it's customary for me to start talking about how strange it is that I should be beginning a "When I was your age" rant, but I actually don't think it strange in the least; I almost welcome it! A sign of maturity, no doubt - certainly miles above the cynicism that passes for realism these days, eh?

This didn't come out of the blue, you know; I suppose it has been building up slowly with the smallest of things, but it finally struck me when you mentioned the K________ in those detached, amusing, and I think ultimately insincere terms. It is obvious enough that an event of such ostentation would leave a deep impression in my mind, but I am struggling to think of any reason why I should feel particularly stung by your comments. After all, I only participated the one time, and uncermoniously exited, but not before saving myself from a humiliating last place, well before my time was due (it was all rigged, of course).

But what were those days? For starters, moments when he was always present, scene to some of our greatest fights, including the one that nearly ended our friendship altogether. But it was also that place that I remember missing when I first left, those two days spent as a member of the audience, hoping that one day I too would be part of the main event with people cheering everytime I got a question right.

Maybe it's all about him, maybe I think that by mocking the event, you are mocking one of his many achievements, and one of my strongest memories. You don't have to tell me you don't mean it, of course. I know you don't mean to come across any particular way, so don't be taken too aback by all this. Lord knows I've been guilty of offhand comments in my time, and I've brushed off all attempts to correct these comments as being overly serious. And heck, you don't even know the man - I would be impressed indeed if you showed the tact to avoid insulting some fantastical friend of an anonymous reader.

Like I said, I'm probably just jealous that it took me so long to gain the ability to view certain things with a requisite level of irony, but maybe I'm more than a little upset that you thought this required anything more than nostalgia. But you know, I also have little doubt that, despite how you choose to gently mock it now, there will be a day in the not too distant future when it will come back to you equally gently, without saying a word, but almostly tacitly asking you whether you believe your head or your heart.

Or darn it all, maybe I am just getting old.

Friday, October 27, 2006

You'll have to excuse the melodrama, because sometimes I'm not sure how to approach these kinds of things. In fact, I'm starting to dislike coming into these things with the intent of a catharsis, because, well, it makes it seem so utilitarian! Certainly no art involved, to my disappointment.

It was then that he saw it, as I should have known he would (he knows too much to let such things pass). He saw what no other had, and somewhat curious, certainly with no malice, he pointed to one of many dips that I had taken for granted, and asked "And is there any significance to this drop over here?". Slightly perplexed by the question, and extremely weary, I tried to brush it off offhandly - "Oh, I think it's just an anomaly". When he raised his eyebrows and slowly turned his face towards me, I can only remember staring into his eyes in absolute terror. The silent gaze stripped away all those lies, all those half-baked conjectures, and whatever foolish hope I had before of somehow getting through without anyone finding out. He saw the uncertainity, and the truth, for my body was desperate to reveal it to whoever was interested. In those eyes, I could see that I had awakened the rage that people whispered about in corridors after hours, and I wanted the earth itself to rise up and swallow me before he did. That, I told myself, was not the right answer.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A great article that documents that which I sometimes think many have fallen prey to, in this age of ours, the curse of musical over-consumption. I find it especially trenchant when he remarks how one of the symptoms of this affliction is that you end up wanting to listen to something just for the sake of "having listened to it" - so that the next time you read about it, you can pat yourself on the back and say "Yeah, I know those sonic textures are amazing". That was pretty much exactly where I was at a few years ago - but you know, what is worrying to me is that while I don't consume all that much anymore, when I do listen to something, there are still times when the excitement is at being able to finally express my thoughts on it afterwards. To who or what, I am not sure, but there you go. The music becomes incidental! If there is a complete cure, it would seem that under-consumption is not it!

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Circle Game

Unfinished, I'm afraid!

When I heard her say something about people entering without knowing what event they were supposed to be attending, I was scared! That's actually quite funny, that I should be scared, rather than, say, just chagrined, but I think I was fearing that she would turn those fearful eyes onto me. They were small eyes, you see, almost like a hawk's. I would tell you what colour they were if I knew, but I certainly knew I knew I didn't want them to drift anywhere near where I was seated. So, this was the game to play for today, it seemed, for me to be stuck in my seat, trying to avoid medusa's gaze.

Never mind that I would later find that she was not talking about me, but some other event she had attended in the last week. In fact, I doubt that she even noticed me enter, or sit down, or not touch any of the food or drink, but instead blankly stare at the others there, thinking that maybe I was right about some things. Things like, I guess, the fact that there was something not quite right with them, that they were not my kind of people. But why? Affable if approached, mostly funny, and yet...there were these old thoughts that never seemed to go away, that said that there were better people out there. It is a fairly awful thing for me to think, I know; believe me, I can't comprehend sometimes why I write down such things, whether they are true or not. The reader must be spared some amount of the writer's idiosyncracy, or else I think he becomes as mad as the writer himself!

I started to think that maybe I was a bit odd, sitting there in what was, after all, supposed to be a party of sorts. Was I supposed to be eating? Drinking? But I'd already eaten, and I didn't much feel like a drink, although it did make me wonder what I was expecting to do there. Had I any sense, I would have arrived much later, when my abstinence was less conspicuous. Or was I just imagining things? After all, who was really dull enough to pay attention to whether I was eating or not? Ah, the mental anguish! Bleedin' brilliant, this was. I wondered whether I looked out of place, but at this point, the mere activation of the thought was enough to drive me into a fit.

Of course, she would have been wrong, were she talking about me - I knew what I was there for, even if I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing! The centre seat was occupied with someone who was now synonymous with the ancient name, which is self-evident to those who were there, and irrelevant to anyone else. "Now", I thought, "should be the time for celebration".

I wondered how long I could last sitting there with no plate, no drink, watching the other people, but then I realized that the only decent thing to do, even if it meant a temporary cessation of shyness, was to work up the nerve to say something. So, deep breath and all, I did what was right.

I wouldn't say much changed after that, but I did stop noticing medusa's presence. It was probably for the better, because the whole thing ended up like it started, with a complete sense of neutrality of thought on my part. The problem, at least as I see it, is simply that it is not too difficult to foresee a time when I am the one who must sit there in the centre; for sure, I will that time know what event I am attending, but I wonder whether it will make it any easier. I do not think there are any easy answers with the circle game.

Incidentally, don't take them titles too seriously. I haven't listened to a Joni Mitchell song in a long time, and I certainly have not listened to the song in question. But it somehow inspired some parts of this, in some mysterious way that is nowadays the only reason I keep writing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I remember now the motivation for the blog's first title; a chance reacquaintance with the 'Dead's Anthem To Beauty reminded me of "Hunter", as he is called*, and his words that, to me, were written both yesterday, five years ago, and possibly ever since I care to remember.

But I remember also why I had to change the title, for to use Hunter's words was doing a disservice to him. At one point I did have dreams of writing with an eloquence that I suppose is implicit in, say, "Ripple", but nowadays I think this is a tad fanciful! Now, I don't imagine Paul McCartney would be particularly happy with me using one of his lines, but I suppose there isn't as much of a symbolic meaning to them!

* Incidentally, Brian Eno was also called simply "Eno" in the Roxys.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another unfinished one. It's been too long since I worked on it, so I don't think I can finish it satisfactorily. You can tell that I end up writing sentences that don't lead anywere! I guess I wanted to capture the whimsy of the first line, but it hasn't really come off.

Hello! It's me!
I'm probably who you think!

I must apologize for the fright
I agree, a stranger calling out
Your secret name
Somewhere from the recess of the night
Perfectly pronounced, and with such assurance
Usually augurs no good!

But, in my defense,
Your brother has on his slippers
Grounding him where he stands
And so, this was how we had to meet,
Conveniently cutting away
Those early morning jitters
Wondering how best to impress
What words will serve best.

So let us thank those slippers -
Thank that they are in no shape for this world
Or the games we play.

Friday, September 15, 2006

To carry on from the last post, I think sometimes that as long as I maintain my demure, there will be scope for posting. It seems as though there is no end to the trivial (and the magical) that is worthy of some pithy musing, but the question is simply when it starts to get a bit repetitive. For instance, I overheard something W said today; or to be precise, I noticed certain glances in my direction, followed by some comment that elicited a few laughs. I know he doesn't mean any harm, but it did cause me to privately mutter, and think of an appropriate rebuke. It was rather ineffectual, mind you, thinking of saying something biting and caustic, but merely sitting there silently, taking the slights, but that is the way it goes. Anyhow, it made me think that as long as there are situations like this, there will be provokations that make me want to express something here. Unfortunately, that something is usually not particularly interesting, seeing as how it is hopelessly of its time. In a few days, a week, certainly a month, it loses all perspective and scope, and becomes like a hazy dream half-remembered, which one cannot deem as being real or not. But I suppose these things are required, whether publicly let out or not; at least, they are probably required for those given to only modest talents in writing (I trust it is easy enough to guess who I refer to)! So maybe my thoughts about a retirement were a tad premature, but I do still worry about whether I will reach a stage where I have literally nothing to say. Till then, I suppose there will be plenty of posts like this. This one probably does not possess a great deal of objective worth, but like W's comment, it is harmless enough.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I've started to think about where this blog is going, and the answer is, at the moment anyway, not anywhere in particular. I think I ran into the same problem last year, where the only thing I was writing about was music, but I'm not quite prepared to give it all up and move to Truth be told, the majority of journals there are little more than "My favourite songs" or "My mainstream rating", which are fine for an entertaining read, but do leave you feeling a little weary after a while (as opposed to my brilliant writing of late). Perhaps it's because my reading has stagnated yet again; I still harbour hopes of continuing writing, but I should note that at this present time, it is the farthest thing from my mind. Of course, a little perspective never hurt, nor did a little time off. So here's to the next music-related post!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

There probably are few things as great in this life as a good (early) Roxy Music song. Even though it has been a year since the exhilirating discovery of For Your Pleasure, I only recently realized that purchasing their self-titled debut would be a good idea. Maybe I was put off by the nice, but decidedly normal Stranded. So then came "Re-make/Re-model". I wasn't expecting anything in particular from the album, or the song, but around three minutes in, I knew these guys really had something great going, even if for a few years. I think Ferry said something along the lines of "I could talk talk talk talk talk myself to death / But I believe I would only waste my breath". Yeah.

Friday, August 25, 2006

No, please believe me, I was touched; it suggested for a moment that contrary to what I sometimes think, there has been something of worth to have come out of the last few years of writing. Does that make my silence confusing? Nonsensical, perhaps? I have little doubt that it is, but things were once complicated, if you cast your mind far back enough. I think my mind is still stranded in that bog, and every once in a while I think it is with good reason! So I suppose this is my apology, but also my defense, no matter how weak. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you are nothing, because you are, you are; or at least, you were. But I am being told by experience that to admit as much would be foolish, and only tempt history to revert to those times that are best left untouched.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Roughly two years on, it's warming to look back at VU's self-titled third album, The Velvet Underground, not only for the music, but as a reminder of the vagaries of my winsome taste and opinion. I think I rated it 16.5/20 the first time*, but it's no surprise that I now think that to be a bit much. Not by a whole lot, mind you, but it is true that I was overly taken by the album at the time. Since I can't help but analyse such things, I must say that it's actually something I still possess, this desire to find a great album and to wrap myself around it, proclaiming to all the world what a marvellous find I've unearthed. Time was when the best thing about finding a great album was putting it on my list of "Greatest albums", but things are a little different now (thankfully!).

* Incidentally, I'm probably done writing reviews here, at least for the forseeable future. I think my pithy RateYourMusic musings are far more trenchant.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mm, it's true what they say - theoretical CS isn't all that bad, but you wouldn't choose it over thinking about John Cale's solo-work. That is merely my elliptic way of saying that this Welsh gentleman's work has captured my interest ever since a chance encounter on a charming televison program, Songwriters' Circle. It featured none other than (my hero*) Nick Cave, and Chrissie Hynde, and the three of them played songs in succession, Cale and Hynde offering some background on the pieces, while Cave came across as shy and reserved - which I wouldn't have expected.

I think it's fair to say that many people who have heard any of the VU's first couple of albums would assume that John Cale's solo-work would be this barrage of dissonant noise and drones. The third VU album is a lot softer and is pretty close to being normal, so I figured that it was Cale who was behind "White Light/White Heat" and (shudder) "Sister Ray"**. So that was the frame of mind I was in when I saw him on TV, and I was ready to run scared if he were to unleash another "European Son"., "Ship Of Fools"? That almost sounds like a song...hey, it is just a song! This happened four times in a row, and by the end of it I realized that while Cale may indeed have had an interest in the avant-garde movement, there was surely a fair bit of his work that was somewhere between classical ("Dying On The Vine", which made me really sit up and take attention, and his reading of "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", which is mesmerising) and the casually accepted definiton of rock (the aforementioned "Ship Of Fools"). There was certainly nothing to suggest that this man was from the VU***! Well, maybe the weird ending to "Fear Is A Man's Best Friend" - from whatever I can remember of the song, it played mostly normal (although I wasn't paying attention to the lyrics - don't know what was going on in that department), until the very end where he starts screaming seemingly out of the blue. Ah, that Cale.

Incidentally, Cale went to New York in the early '60s to seek out La-Monte Young and work under him. Gosh darn it, I almost feel like doing the same - let my lack of musical talent be no barrier!

* Few can spot such references, but those who can are worthy of some accolade. Let me hint by saying that it very much from a John Cale work.

** Apologies if you like these songs - I don't hate them or anything. I think they're probably very much works of art, and I appreciate their importance - but I can't bring myself to sit down to them!

*** Much like you wouldn't believe Lou Reed wrote "Candy Says" two-or-so years after "I'm Waiting For My Man" - everytime the thought strikes me, the more I realize how I've under-appreciated Lou as a songwriter.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Even though it has been a good two or three years since I've heard a Dylan album in a sitting, I've recently dispelled the notion that my tastes had somehow moved on past him. It would have been an unfathomable suggestion at one point, but there was a time not so long ago, when I re-played some of his tracks that weren't particularly familiar to me, that I began to wonder whether he was no longer doing it for me. It turns out, however, that perhaps those tracks were not so familiar for a reason*!

I've chanced upon snippets of the Genuine Basement Tapes, which are proving to be most interesting. I always loved a few tracks from the officially issued Basement Tapes, but on the whole I thought of it as something of loads of historical, rather than musical interest. I never did understand what so many critics were raving about, but only now have I realized that they were raving about a 5 CD set, not the official 2 CD one! There are a couple of songs in particular that have made me think that I've cracked it, and figured out the difference between greatness and genius. Since I'm sometimes quite cynical, I think it also to be the difference between Dylan and his many followers, whose talents range from genuine to merely perfunctory. I listened to "Frankie Lee And Judas Priest", and "Jokerman", and after marvelling that the same person wrote both songs, I realized what good friends they (the songs) were, and how I don't think I've heard anyone else who has managed to approach Dylan in terms of songwriting. Moments of genius I've heard plenty, but I suppose Dylan was there first, and will probably never be bested - at least, not to my ears.

* No naming names, but it's clear that not everything he did was genius, or even very good. As with pretty much every artist, I suppose.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Maybe it's true

Maybe it's true
Maybe the years didn't really pass by
And I never aged, never outgrew
Your perennial presence, telling us
The trivial,
The magical.

I can think of worse fates
Than having to wake up again,
Put on that comforting shade of green,
Sit with complete attention,
And not wonder where time goes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I know I'm quite late to point out that Roger Ebert doesn't think video games are art, but I only just came across it by chance. It is a very interesting subject (and it is equally interesting to read some of gaming community's responses).

A common response to his comment is that 'art' is a hard thing to define. Indeed! I'm not entirely sure how one would go about calling games art - it is easy to try and see direct relationship with existing forms such as literature and films, which leads us to strong stories and cinematic gameplay. While there is no doubt that these can make up a great game with substance, I think the interactivity allows for things that you can't get otherwise. I think art can come in through the experiences we let the player have (and I think there may well be other ways too).

Ebert's complaint is that since games yield control to the player, you yield control of whatever artistic statement you are trying to make. I guess he means a couple of things. First, that there is a lack of flow - instead of walking through the door to have a deep conversation about whether the ends justify the means, the player might choose to spend a couple of hours on something largely inconsequential (upgrading armour? Although you tell me it's inconsequential when your party has fallen and that armor is all that remains between you and a Glabrezu!), disrupting the flow.

Second, that choice has the potential to make the experience rather silly, and consequently not profound - said deep conversation could be side-stepped by a mindless threat as one's first response, which would turn the supposed climax of the game into a free-for-all melee.

His reasoning that since they lack the structural control that you get with movies or books, they lose the ability to become art does not entirely convince me. I guess he is suggesting that with traditional art-forms the artist has direct control over what he is trying to impart, and how this is done, but I think that non-linearity and the control one has over the game world has the potential to create some form of art. It sounds like Ebert doesn't think such potential even exists, which I respectfully disagree with.

Now, having stated my claim - as for whether the potential has actually been realized at this moment in time, I would say thus far, probably not - at the moment there aren't any games that I will try to defend as being art. My current experience is that there aren't many artistic games that have been made (but it has been a while for me, no?), and those that are artistic I would not say contain enough for me to confidently proclaim them as being comparable to the best in other mediums. Still, to me, these games are at the very least more than just 'shallow' entertainment. I'm not sure any of them will be studied in classrooms just yet, but I do think they demonstrate that games can be intelligent, and have an interesting synthesis of story and gameplay. If one takes the average modern game to be like a Hollywood blockbuster (usually ephemeral, as it is designed to be purely escapist entertainment), then these kinds of games are from the alternative cinema - something with more depth and some amount of sophistication and artistic vision, even if not a masterpiece.

I'm afraid I'm not intelligent enough to be able to expound on why exactly I "feel" games can be art - I have to resort to vague terms like "gameplay structure" and "non-linearity", which I guess is just me dodging the question. All I can give is subjective testimony that I have played games that I have felt to be artistic, even if not quite high-art. So, with that confession made, I might as well muse a bit on my personal list of artistic games. They are a touch 'obvious' I suppose, which does make me want to try and find out more games with meaning. I don't know whether a common thread makes itself immediately obvious, but I guess what makes these games in particular come to mind is that they had some feature that somehow resonated, moreso than say just a button-masher.

Ultima VII, of course, for the sense of an active world (I was recently reminded that there are no generic NPCs - everyone, even the lowly peasant, has a name and role to play, and a unique opinion on the state of Britannia), and maybe nostalgia. There is a sense of a lot of effort put into the history of the land (all the books about the history of the place, much like how it was done for Ultima VIII), which for me left a lasting impression. It might have been made in '92, but it has not aged a bit for me (the graphics make it very playable, even today).

The sevens have it with FF7, which is supposed to be overrated but in my naivety I still consider it to be a true experience rather than just a game. The characters are strong, and I am one of those who find the story to be fascinating too - at times funny, serious, sad, and trimphant, it is to me, quite simply, an epic. It features a very famous scene that many gamers have said brings them to tears, and any game that does that has to be doing something right.

Even if I consider Baldur's Gate 2 to be a more satisfying game, Planescape is more in line with my intuitive feeling of what constitutes an artistic game. It might be the most "literary" RPG ever (it is the most literary one I've played), and like the others on the list it has strong characters and a very well-done story. When the plot unravels and you approach the end-game, you are posed with what I still think to be a deep philosophical question, which you perhaps would not expect in a game. Regardless of the constraints the game places on your potential answers to this question, reflecting on the question and the context it is asked makes me wonder whether a game has ever been this incisive.

Half-Life is probably the most cinematic game I've played*, even though I suppose the emotions it gets across are rather "obvious" for a video game (suspense, tension, and what have you). But it is simply done so well, and has many memorably tense moments that you have to get around, not to mention a few of those head-crabs that jump out of nowhere. I guess this is an example of an experience that seems like it is common to a lot of other games, but which happens to be done far better than most.

Grim Fandango is beautifully produced, and is certainly one of the most stylish games I've played. The concept is in itself interesting, and I cannot fault the execution. A very good story, and again, very good characters combine with the excellent music and atmosphere to make this one of the most unique and enjoyable games I've ever played.

Another game that I think was most probably important, but not necessarily enjoyable, is Facade. It is great to see that there are people interested in making games like these, even if they don't necessarily work out. It most certainly has an artistic bent, but, as many pointed out, the execution wasn't quite there. But that's ok, because it shows that such things can be tried, and will hopefully inspire more games in a similar vein.

Of course, I can't say that any of these can be compared to some of the great films or novels of this century, but as many have pointed out, the field is young. True, it is dominated by creating something for mass consumption, but that does not mean that something good cannot come out of it. We just need a Sgt. Pepper! Or, maybe better yet, a VU & Nico...! I guess software itself is fairly young, so perhaps in the future it will be easier than it is today to try and embark on the task of creating artistic games. I guess if you want really artistic games, with no care for commercial success (now we're talking early Lou Reed, pre Loaded anyway), you need more independent publishers, or companies that believe there is some artistic potential for the medium.

But look, there is also the important question - does it matter if they don't strive to be art? Not to me - I am not a purist (not anymore, anyway), and believe there is a place for entertainment that doesn't necessarily look to have long-lasting worth, or reveal to us something crucial about the human condition. You won't see me throw away my copy of Quake anytime soon! But I think there is the potential for games as a different sort of art form, and this should at least be explored and done justice. How far can we go with them? I am not sure!

Then again, maybe I'm wrong (although, like I said, I strongly suspect not), but that just means games are no more (or not all that much more) than entertainment - it doesn't discount the fact** that they are at least intelligent entertainment (like a good episode of The Simpsons, I suppose?), and that is no shame at all. Even if something isn't "art", it doesn't mean there is no value to it!

The nice thing about this topic is that sifting through online discussions on the matter has brought up many examples from other gamers of games they consider to be artistic. It seems as though there is an avenue for me to explore yet!

* Sigh, that was a fair while ago. Yep, it's true, I am not a gamer anymore!

** Fact? Arguable as always, but I think it is hard to argue yes, a "fact in my opinion" :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

For you blue

It is for you, even if you never read it
It is funny we should be strangers after so long
Seeing your photo suggests time means nothing
Eight years ago in a hot classroom are as alive as you or I.

I suppose someone else would have done better
Would not judge you for who you became
Not for being what I was not, nor could be.

So I hope you realize who I am
Not quite the one from those days
Mocking that which was dear to you
(Never mind that you might do the same now!)
I am sorry for you both
It seems you made at least one choice wrong.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Deja-bleedin'-vu, as a compatriot might say, as I walked out of the room and heard people talking about how relieved they were that it was over, with no suggestions of any difficulty whatsoever. I shared their relief, but I was much more concerned with the very real worry that I had bleedin' bombed (my compatriot is in a particularly foul mood, eh?). "I'd be worried if there wasn't an ex in the front", I heard someone say, and so worried I was.

When I was thinking about this, the first analogy that came to mind was that of a king who is surveying his land in ruins. It isn't especially good, because it's easy to connect the dots and think that I'm implying things I'm not; for instance, I don't think of myself as royalty, mathematically or otherwise. But I do feel as though my powers are waning, and it is quite a sad sight to behold. I remember how I used to be able to finish high-school exams an hour before the scheduled end, and also how I took this ability for granted.

I am now forced to hope that it is the last maths exam I will do, because otherwise I would be hoping that I...well, you know, fail this one. It's sad when you are content with whatever, as long as it is a pass, but I suppose I am at least partly to blame. I'm lazier than I used to be, and certainly nowhere near as fluent as I could have been. I suppose a life as a mindless hacker is all that lies ahead.

Am asked, quite seriously, "But didn't you say it comes more naturally to you?". I just laughed and said "Yes, which shows what a sorry state I'm in!"

Update: It turns out that scaling, my old friend, bailed me out, but as he did, he said "This is the last time, buddy - next time, you're on your own".

Monday, June 12, 2006

Most probably throwaway, but I'm having the darndest time trying to finish it. I liked the idea a while ago, but this isn't quite what I had in mind.

"...You know what I mean?"
He asked affably
It was a cruel moment of indifference
When I did not feign sympathy
It might have been the coffee
I was missing so dearly
For I replied simply
"No, I do not;
Further, I never have
For I think you quite mad".

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ah, that Wildberger. Perhaps you know of the author of rational trigonometry? Well, he has an interesting article that suggests that set theory is flawed. It is more cogent than you might expect; after all, he is an associate professor, although I suspect I need a few more reads to try and fully understand his argument. Ah, were that I able to muse meaningfully on the foundations of mathematics! Instead, I have no choice but to dream.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"It's sometimes reassuring to have a jester such as you around", I was told. "But mostly, it is a mighty pain". I decided to play the part, and laughed along.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Inspiration comes in the strangest forms, you know. I don't know why I sometimes see extra-ordinary magic or meaning in an image or a line from the unlikeliest of places, but it does feel right to try and capture it somehow. It sometimes makes for uninteresting, or at worst, pointless reading, even to me, but for now, I will keep trying.

He was standing in the veranda, the cool breeze gently lifting up the last pieces of him. The sun was awake in all its glory, and the peasants exclaimed about the bounty of the harvest they were sure to receive this year. Ever since the flood, they had started to wonder whether they could pull through, but their God showed that he had not left them yet. It was not until years later that his name would be forgotten, tossed away as yet another false idol, just like they threw pebbles into the ocean in the days they believed he favoured those who did so. Standing in the veranda, however, did not care what they talked about, and made every attempt to avoid conversation with them on the topic that held no meaning to him. Maybe many years ago, when he used to live here as a child who explored the beaches at night, things were different; he could not even remember these now, for there was too much else on his mind.

But regardless of his frustration at the place being too foreign from his memories of it, he was glad that he found himself standing there. "Even if I've delayed this for a long time", he thought, "it was worth it". It was never an easy choice, and some nights before drifting to sleep, he would wonder whether this was a sin, but the morning would erase these thoughts from his head. It is just as how the tide recedes and takes with it all that is strewn on the sand, he would say in his more contemplative moments.

The radio was blaring inconsequently in the background as he pondered what to do next.

"Now the rainy season reminds me of Maria,
The way she danced, the colour of her hair"

He sighed and knew that the road to being cured was sure to take its strain, but it was a risk he knew that he simply had to take. The ethical dilemma was firmly won when he weighed up his longing to forget against the moral instructions he received as a child, so very long ago, now battered by the mores of the times he lived in.

It still felt wrong, though, to be standing there in the brightness of day, where there was no one who was even half interested in what the purpose of his visit was. The day he came, with those two large suitcases, there was only the mildest amount of talk among the peasants, who speculated as to what its contents might be over simple food and smoke. But the next day, all was forgotten, and it was as if he had always been living there. In a sense, of course, he had; but still, he sometimes thought that it was as if his secret was wasted on them. Thinking about this again, he simply laughed, and enjoyed the bake of the sun.

"I left a little something to help the time go by"
It was many, many years later, when all that was left of what he inherited from his father was his baldness. On a cold winter afternoon, he sat stationary, soaking up the heat, as he sipped the chrysanthemum tea to help stir his senses. It took him back to those days in the house by the open field, with the workers on the porch just like he always imagined. He was served tea there once, and saw a book on Zen sitting peacefully next to the couch. He remembered opening it and seeing those Tibetan characters, wondering if somehow the thoughts would transcend the barrier of language and help him reach enlightenment. After a minute, he started to feel dizzy from the patterns that seemed to be forming from the letters, and placed the book back down.

He never knew why he went to the cupboard and opened that cardboard box where he had carefully placed all that had ever passed through in his life. He looked at the photo and letter that signalled a farewell that at the time he had welcomed, now faded with the years and the places he had been since. He sighed and was glad that he kept these things to remember the times, and at that moment, he knew that any regret was but an illusion his mind had created.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Heh, I like this, even though I will admit that imitation can only be taken so far.

Good-intentioned is how people would describe Kavitha in the years to come, although she was aware neither of the tag or the fact that people talked about her, which, considering her personality, was to be expected. If one asked those close to her family to be more revealing as to her true nature, then they would usually make an embarassed smile and recall fondly the days when she would proudly show to the world that she had learnt how to walk, remarking how even then they knew that she would be destined for great things. That these things never materialized was attributed to the sickness of the society she lived in, and perhaps her weight. "I always told her it would never hurt to lose a few more", a concerned aunt would tell me, and proceeded to confirm that she didn't judge people based on appearances, but that one nonetheless had to be pragmatic and realize the nature of people one was living with. I never thought her to be in the slightest danger of having a problem with her weight, but when I brought this up during my next round of questioning, it turned out that it was a matter of great delicacy, but also secret, shameful gossip. No-one admitted to thinking that it should have mattered, of course, but they all agreed that it was never a bad thing to care about how one looked.

When piecing together these offhand remarks and observations about her soul, there was only one thread of common resent, and that was her belief that others were much like her. Although she was brought up in a family that had traditionally kept its distance from those it did not know, her vivaciousness would sometimes let them dream of one day joining the rest of the world in the happy haze that they imagined from books and movies. Her brother was once so invigorated by her tales of the world she drifted through that he attended a major social event in his best white shirt, only to leave mid-way once he realized that the people there all seemed to stare at him. He began to imagine laughter directed at his shirt, which was till that point his favourite one. After that night, he did not wear it again for fear of reliving those terrible memories, and one winter evening he threw it in the fire, deciding to start afresh.

She would invariably drag her mother into a conflict over her choices, which to her made perfect sense and which were always made based on what she would love to have happen to her. Paying no heed to her family's long history of reserved tolerance of the outside world, she once thought that it would be a particularly brilliant idea to get them to interact with her world. Given how much she enjoyed her own life, and given how she sometimes felt her family were being bored (when in fact they were merely content), such an idea seemed only too obvious. When the news came that her family was to go to her friend's house for dinner one day, her otherwise quiet mother grew noticeably irritated as she stirred the soup on the stove and let the potatoes get over-cooked on purpose. She had done it, perhaps unknowingly, to elicit a reaction from her daughter, and she got one. When Kavitha complained that the food was burnt, her mother lashed out at her and screamed that if she was so picky that she should start cooking for herself. Kavitha became puzzled at this outburst, and started crying in confusion.

The dinner passed without incident, and her family seemed to have a genuinely nice time. She smiled triumphantly, and casually remarked later on how lovely it was, and then got each of her family to agree that yes, it was a delightful evening. Her mother did not speak very much that night, but come the next day she seemed to be back to normal, although the incident of the burnt potato was never spoken of in the house again. Although Kavitha would try to get her friend to come over more often, it never eventuated, but instead both would talk about that dinner for the next twenty years, recalling the pleasant conversation and the sense of the two families bonding. Their parents would meet on occasion and exchange platitudes, always promising to meet again in the future, but neither side made any particular effort to do so for reasons that were perhaps lost in the dirty dishes that were cleaned that night.

No one would ever lose their temper with her, or if they did it would not last very long, because it was known that her heart was genuine as were her motives. This was often put down to the strength of her father's upbringing, which caused her mother to raise an eyebrow that hid years of silent opinions that were waiting to come out. Regardless of where her behaviour came from, it was certain that she passed through life like few others before her. When the time finally came for her to seek her own fortune, she bade farewell to her family with customary tears that no-one saw as over-dramatic, even though the rest of her family remained in control of their emotions. Seeking she did not have to do, for fortune smiled at her and let no harm come near her, and it was then said that she had been blessed at a young age. Another aunt told me a story about her youth, and how a palm reader said he had never seen such a life line, nor did he think would he ever again. From what I know, Kavitha always believed in these readings when she needed to the least.

Many years later, as we all suspected, her good intentions would carry through onto her children, who would become famous throughout their school as the only ones who lacked the sibling-rivalry that was taken for granted by the teachers. It was initially met with suspicion, until it was discovered that she was the mother. The teachers would smile knowingly, recalling the days of their youth and the girl who was something of a legend in these parts.

Fascination Street

It was a rainy June day when I saw her in the distance, twirling an umbrella decorated with imposing dragons breathing fire, one that seemed to have no effect in appeasing the downpour. Yet it did protect its owner from the rain with its life, like some divine shield that broke each raindrop on contact. It was as if there stood a perfect invisible wall around her. She was in a lime green kameez that saw not a drop of water, and was making slow, measured steps along the footpath. There were tales about Judy, the mystical beauty from some faraway land, but I never did pay any attention to them. My interest was always in her aura - her appearance always seemed incidental.

I asked her once why she wore the local dress, and she said that she wanted to fit in, but also that she thought it very pretty. On that day, seeing her moving as a column unaffected by the tears from above, I noticed the floral patterns of her dress, and I think it was the first time I saw why people thought her beautiful. But there is a deeper force at work here, I told myself. I found myself struck with the desire to acknowledge these powers, hoping not only to appease them, but also to ensure that the story would not be forgotten. In the years to come, I told myself, people will speak of an enchantress from another land whose presence brought good luck to all who came across her path.

This was many years ago, and sadly today there is no sign of the revelation dawning on those around me. It was not many days after I saw her in the rain that she left abruptly, some say back to her native land. I would coyly try to find out more details, but no one seemed to have any. And so, Judy lives on as a phantom, walking along the footpath on a rainy June day, splitting the waters in two.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Seeing that hideous sweater, it seemed like they had no choice but to point it out. "You look like a grandmother!", they snickered. She attempted to brush it off with a laugh, and made up a story about having her good clothes still in the wash. As she did so, she felt slightly guilty, and thought of her grandmother who knitted it for her lovingly as a present for being such a good grand-daughter.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ten years ago, I never knew what you looked like. When someone told me it was you, that it was really you, I will admit that I stared long into your face in the disance. But please see nothing more in that than what it was - I was just trying to see traces of the things you had said, to find them embedded in your eyes, your hair, your bemused smile. It seemed impossible that you were the one who said those magical things, the one who proved that heaven was within our grasp. I never imagined that there was a face behind those things; you were always like a spirit drifting around my head.

Yes, all this, but I still could not bring myself to say a word. It was only out of respect, you realize. And yes, there was probably more, but let us talk of it another day.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I have been pondering over whether I was temporarily insane when I chose computer science and rejected mathematics. No answer has come to me yet, although I do think it's a bit silly to get so worked up about it. It is true enough that theoretical computer science does get heavy on mathematics, so to the untrained eye (don't be fooled! Mine are worse than yours) it would seem like they're the same. But the focus is different I suppose, and mathematics is used as a (sophisticated) tool to different ends. One thing that worries me is that I seem to be drawn to the areas and problems that are inherently mathematical; which begs me to ask myself why I shouldn't do mathematics instead! Do I enjoy algorithmic analysis and the like? Yes, but I'm not good at it - which is a worry.

This latest crisis was prompted by the startling realization yesterday that I wasn't being unduly harsh when I said I wasn't particularly good at this field; those at the same level as me are bailing out and so aren't overly concerned about their mastery of algorithms. And I'm considering further studies - heaven help me!

The only consolation is that I have little doubt that if I had made the opposite choice, I would be considering whether I really wanted to give up programming forever or something like that. Not that it seems to make anything much easier, mind you.

'Tis true, not having to sit in on mathematics lectures does not imply that it the door has been shut or anything like that. But self-study, while it sounds like a genuine possibility, has never seemed to work especially well for me thus far. At the start of the year, I told myself that even if I stopped studying mathematics formally, I would still be able to do all sorts of maths on my own, figure out exciting new topics by myself and all that. But I remember exclaiming many years ago that I simply must master complex analysis, with the intent of understanding its subtleties and charms. The net work in this direction has been minimal, and with time presenting itself in scarcer quantities, things don't seem so bright for this little dream's future.

Temporary insanity, eh? I think this whole thing is more insane than anything else. Maybe I just want to be called a mathematician, as if it were more prestigious than being a computer scientist. Hey, maybe it is!

I should take these things more seriously, but I couldn't help thinking the whole while today what Paul Simon once asked me - "Who, now who we foolin'?". Blasted stuff, words, for in their artistic guile they can make one be sure of something that is not necessarily true. It's tempting to want them to ring true, to experience such an ephiphany through song. Heh, I don't know sometimes.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It seems like many years ago now, but it isn't, really. I was asked to leave my mark on his life with a pithy statement that would somehow contain my very essence for him to remember me by. I wished I had more time to think about it, but I had to come up with something on the spot. I could see that my reputation preceded me, for he helped me along by suggesting I write down my favourite equation. Delighted at that brilliant idea, I wrote in my neatest script the equation, e = 1. It took me a whole day to realize that I had got it wrong, but instead of being distressed, I merely smiled and thought it quite funny. And, in some sense, perhaps a more fitting legacy.


I wanted to keep the first line, so I guess I wrote around it. At least the tone is correct, even if the expression is characteristically trivial.

When fate descended twice on the same day
And showed itself in two different lights
I foolishly listened to all it did say -
Don't make that mistake
For when it comes from above
Its memory is lost on the way.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pictures of you

I read a story with a similar setting to this one, but was somewhat disturbed by what seemed to be implied. I guess my simplistic response is meant to show the other side, but I am not thoroughly convinced it succeeds.

I remember the first photo of myself that I gave you, and how nervous I was that your friends would disapprove. I had that bashful look about me, which was alright, but those blasted shoulders wouldn't stay straight. I had a slouch that could only be consciously over-corrected, making me look even more foolish. I imagined all sorts of spiteful slander based solely on that one photo, and told myself that it would be superficial anyway. At first, I didn't believe you when you said that nothing of the sort went on. I thought then that I knew better, and it is still surprising now that I found out that I did.

When all these years later you told me what they had really said about me based on that photo, for a second or so I wished them all dead. You were giggling about it, much as I expected you would, but I didn't think it amusing in the least. How dare they presume to know who I am! I am sorry I got angry at you, it wasn't your fault - you can't help who they were (are). I am still shocked that V would say something like that; to think of all the times I've shared a dinner table with that...well, there are some things that are best spoken, not written.

You tried to soothe me by saying that it was so many years ago. That much is obvious to me, but I am surprised you do not realize how some wounds are hard to cure, even with copious amounts of time. It seems convenient to say now, but I wish you had told me when it first happened. Does it seem unfair to you? Normally, I would agree, but considering your place I think it is a justified wish. You needn't explain to me twice that it should make no difference as to what was said back then, but some things, well, some things don't change (I'm sure V would attest to this).

But I also see now that part of the reason I got angry is because of what J told me in private after he first saw you. It was a joke (of course) - "domesticated cattle", I believe it was. I'll give you a moment to laugh. Some have said I should've taken it lightly, but how can you? I don't know whether he understood the situation back then; judging by how he subsequently reacted to my deathly silence, I guess not. So perhaps I am punishing him for not being who I want him to be? I will admit it, but I haven't the strength to do anything about it now. But you see, I always felt ashamed that I never told you about him, and always feared that you would find out. Little did I suspect that you were keeping a secret of your own! I think in that second, both secrets were the same secret, and all those years of surreptitious pretense decided that they could stand it no longer, and came out in an explosion.

No, I am not angry any longer, least of all at you. But I think I deserve to never see V again, no matter how much she might have once changed. Yes of course it's unfair, my dear, but time hurries on, as do I. I will be back next week, but before then, there is something I'd like you to do with that photo...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

It must be the dim lights, I think - they bring out in me all the reflection and carefully crafted thoughts I have kept tucked away since my last visit. The painter in my mind makes careful strokes with colours that are visible regardless of the dark around me. It is true, I usually entertain myself by modifying the fairly innocuous previews that are shown, but there is for some reason a heightened reaction to whatever I see. Be it pathos or bathos, I refuse nothing, and champion the splendour that shows itself for those few minutes. Almost always, I find the experience cathartic. Although it is itself far removed from art and beauty and whatever else I care to muse on, these are the very things that are given strength, and I exit with these notions feeling validated and strengthened. It must be the bombast and majesty of it all, which is something, I tell myself, that I would do well to pay more attention to, even if I know it will be forgotten till the next visit.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The nuclear bomb let itself be known on the blackboard. He surveyed it in its diminutive form, and said before swiftly erasing the very idea from reality, "I think it's all madness myself". The whimsy was almost staggering, and I was glad that I was the only one who seemed to pick it up. For that second, I fixed my stare upon him - his greying beard, those thick, dignified glasses, and the endearing paces he made back and forth between nowhere. Everything combined in a dizzying fraction of a second, and, if only for that moment, it seemed like things were possible.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Classical music, rock, and art

A little while ago, I read something in the paper that talked about the "inherent superiority" of classical music, as opposed to popular music (meaning primarily, among other things, what is loosely defined to be "rock"). I initially thought it to be terribly elitist, and presuming a slight upon my taste, got upset. But a little digging around and I wonder whether the statement is true in an objective sense. The answer - maybe, but right now it doesn't matter to me. Maybe in ten years, but not right now.

A very nice article (since I'm sympathetic to his views, otherwise it would be total nonsense, of course) on the matter is Alex Ross' "Listen To This". It may be long, but it's worth it. It contains a line that I whole-heartedly agree with ("The best music is music that persuades us that there is no other music in the world"), as is probably evident from some of the things I've written here over the years (or the little item in the sidebar, for that matter). It is no surprise then that it is Mr. Ross (and, it should be said, if only to give you an understanding of the truly crass nature of who you're dealing with, an otherwise forgettable episode of The Simpsons) who has provided me with the sufficient push to go ahead and have Mozart sitting amusedly by Morrissey.

Again in the paper, this time a fair while ago, I read something about pop/rockers not being remembered in the next few decades, let alone centuries (unlike Mozart). Neil Young made put forth his view on the very first line of Rust Never Sleeps, yet is his defiant statement misguided? Well, I'd wager that the giants of the '60s will certainly find a place in the history books of tomorrow, and that if we do see their work being dismissed as the years go by, I think it would be a pretty big loss. So I suppose I think that it would be wrong to dismiss rock uniformly as being low-art (or no-art!) at best.

As for why I think this, I suppose it's based on how some of it has made me feel over the years. Oh it can make one feel all right; judging by the amount I've written about it, I'd be surprise if one who is versed in it could claim otherwise. I do get somewhat upset when people try to dismiss all of rock as being shallow and incapable of communicating any serious message to the listener, or otherwise educating or informing them. I don't believe that all my experiences of having deep emotional reactions to songs or albums have been illusions, or self-induced!

Yet, having said this, what I have come to realize after thinking about the subject is that maybe the feelings it induces aren't always all that deep or complex. Maybe I'm over-zealous in my yearning to find something of worth that I get carried away. A little critical reflection and I think that sure, I've been a bit hasty sometimes with praise of the emotional depth of certain albums/songs*. But I still maintain the best stuff, as in whatever has remained once the dust has settled, is deep and profound and all that for me. Although, I now accept that this may well change in the future, even though my heart tells me it won't.

I guess the problem with such an intuitive, emotional evaluation is that it makes it impossible to give any sound rebuttal to the claim that the music is somehow inherently inferior. I cannot argue on the basis of technical terms; I am willing to concede that rock is usually not as complex as a classical piece. So I suppose my reaction is, in a loose sense, equivalent to the familiar "I just care whether it sounds good!" philosophy.

The unfortunate temptation with matters like this is to dismiss the opposition as ignorant; especially so when it comes to rock music! Because, unfortunately, there probably are those who see rock as little more than the mainstream acts that receive airplay these days (e.g. "My Humps"**), or the strings of hits of most other artists. You can't really blame such views, because unless one is marginally dedicated, it's hard to get past these things. And assuming one starts off knowing nothing about rock, where's the incentive to get dedicated when this seems to be the standard of things?

Now, Alex Ross seems to be someone who has heard his fair share of classical and popular music alike, and when I think about it, I don't know too many people like that. If we take classical to be more general than western-classical, there are some who immediately come to mind. One particularly strange incident happened sometime last year with dear S - at the heart of it, it was the cultured vs. non-cultured argument (guess which was which!?!). While I usually know my place, I immediately rose to defend my beloved music, and asked that I be openly criticized for being uncultured if that was truly her view. There were too many people present, so I don't think it got resolved; in fact, I don't know if I even got a response. C'est la vie!

I once asked A for thoughts on pop/rock, since he is one of the few people I know with a leaning towards orchestral pieces. I remember A writing about how he saw most pop/rock to be ephemeral at best, and that it was doomed to be the stuff of instant gratification. The real art, he said, would be found in classical pieces, symphonies, operas, and what have you. I cooly attributed this to a lack of exposure on his part, but maybe there is more to his view than I give credit. I find it hard to be anywhere near objective with these things, you see. I mean, if I gave A "Misery" to listen to, God only knows what invectives would come forth from his mouth. Lou Reed might've captured this on "The Trouble With Classicists", except I haven't heard the song***.

Look, I'm going nowhere here, so I may as well stop before I start talking about the time I first opened the liner notes to album X. I suppose even if I can't say that rock is art in general, then at least I can say that rock is something that, when done properly, can make me feel a lot of things. Maybe the emotions put in are sometimes naive, and maybe I swoon too easily; but the best stuff is still amazingly rich for me. Who knows, maybe their beauty too will wear off in time - that would not be a trademark of the highest form of art! I am far too inexperienced to predict which way it will turn out, but for now, I believe at least some of it will resonate in my life. So while it may be inferior, it doesn't matter - just yet. Which does not mean that I will shut my ears to classical music - only that when I do try to listen to some classical pieces and when I think about them afterwards, it will (hopefully) be devoid of these notions of inferiority/superiority.

You know, at one point, I was hopelessly elitist in my views about books and music. I am glad for experiences like this that reveal how much I have to learn, but also make me test my own convictions. I used to shudder at the thought of appreciating anything I saw to be for the masses, preferring to be smug at my obviously superior taste; little did I know that I'm being looked down upon too! I have started to appreciate things for what they are, not for perceived opinions, and don't feel as ashamed as I once might have. Unfortunately, the elitist still remains to some extent (see the Peas comment below), but so it goes.

* I cleaned up my naive RYM list yesterday, but it's still quite bloated with the sins of impatience

** Look, I'm sorry, I don't like bashing things, but I found this song genuinely funny. I know I could never make it big like them Peas, but do allow me this indiscretion (so it seems that I am unabashed elitist, and so really have no right to comment on the classical elitists!).

*** But I do know the lyrics are well worth your time:

The trouble with an impressionist, he looks at a log
And he doesn't know who he is, standing, staring, at this log
And surrealist memories are too amorphous and proud
While those downtown macho painters are just alcoholic

Thursday, April 27, 2006

(Continued from here) And yet, I only just realized that Jon Landau is the same man who called Ram "the nadir in the decomposition of Sixties rock thus far". You can read the whole review here, although it didn't do much good for me. I simply do not understand how one can have such a reaction towards it, but to each his own. Perhaps it is a review that is a result of the time in which it was written; maybe his expectations were radically different to someone like me, picking it up some thirty years after release. Seeing as how he did respond to something in Springsteen's music, I'm not overly upset with him, and so for now, I will write it off as a curiosity.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The premise of The Wrong Boy is simple enough - the narrative is a series of letters to Morrissey, by a fan looking to explain himself and his situation. And yet, when I started reading the book, for some reason it seemed so brilliant. Perhaps it was the line "Anyhow, I thought I'd pen a few lines to someone who'd understand". I actually felt distinctly upset, as though here was the only idea that I could've possibly used, and here it was, already taken! Even though I was advised to the contrary, I went in expecting it would be very much littered with references and musings on the music, but I should've listened to the initial warning. It was still largely enjoyable*, even if it might require a suspension of disbelief in a couple of places.

When I think about it, though, it's funny that I should feel as though I can relate. I'm not the hugest Smiths fan around, and although I do find Morrissey resonant, if pressed I don't know if I have an overwhelming reason to. I put it down to the power of some of the songs on Hatful Of Hollow! I mean, I've only ever heard a couple of Smiths albums, and maybe a couple of Morrissey songs. I do know, however, that some of the songs are amazingly great, and it does feel like there's a like-minded soul out there. Sometimes. In doses, he's brilliant, but when extended, I won't say I dislike him, but I feel the magic wears off. There are times when I've listened to his solo stuff on the radio ("I Have Forgiven Jesus" I think it was) and cringed on the inside, as though he has gone too far and compromised his wit, merely wallowing in the mire, so to speak. With that in mind, I guess it's a testament to the songs that do mean something to me that I should feel like a fan.

And after reading the book, I'm half-glad I'm not a fan. As in, not one to the extent that the narrator is. I suspect I don't embrace the music as much, which is entirely to my liking. Much like the Doors, actually. I think I appreciate these things without taking them too seriously. I believe Morrison once said "I contend an abiding sense of irony over all I do", and that sounds about right.

Incidentally, I feel compelled to say that my favourite part of the book was the simple line on the piece of paper in the narrator's wallet. That, to me, is one of Morrissey's finest moments.

* I certainly did not enjoy the segments where the narrator encounters people talking about their musical taste. I know it's fiction and all, but the elitism troubled me unduly. And drove home the fact that it's easy to dismiss the writing talents of Mr. Paul Simon, sadly, by writing off S&G as soft music of no consequence. It might've been part of the reason Simon decided to go solo!
Dear cousin
When you were young
And I was not old
When the history I learned
Was the only history I knew
Those are the times
That seem most real.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Well, one good thing that came out of the project last year was that it made no sense for me to persist with DirectX as a tool to make The Game. I remember blindly using all those C calls without understanding what they were doing, and remember vividly the days upon days I would have to spend debugging some trivial error that came about just because I didn't know what the code was doing. I read so many tutorials in search of something that would have all the answers; my favourite was the Game Programming Genesis series on GameDev. I actually printed out every single one of them, and probably have them lying around here somewhere.

But when I had a little taste of PyGame last year, I said to myself "Hey, this does everything I want to do, so why torture myself with the delusion that I'm a serious game programmer?". I'm not interested in the advanced shading options and what have you that DirectX (or OpenGL) lets you control - all I wanted (and want) to have is simple sprites moving around, giving me room for exciting game mechanics (whatever that means - I never reached this stage before, so there's some thinking to be done yet). And so, if there is any hope at all for The Game to be started, the discovery of PyGame seems to play a vital role - even if it has only rekindled my interest!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The beta for IE7 has been out for a while, and for some reason, I can't get used to it. Perhaps I have grown too used to Firefox. It didn't strike me all this while, but someone said the interface was terrible, and all of a sudden I feel as I though I half-agree. It isn't terrible, but it certainly feels as though it would be difficult for the non tech-savvy users to use it. It might just be the case that one requires time to get used to it, of course, but at the moment, I do feel as though some changes ought to be made. A more thorough analysis of this feeling and what motivates it is no doubt required, but not today.
I had a good thing going - everything was chugging along nicely, I was coming across as confident, and as though I knew what I was talking about. That isn't to suggest that I didn't have a clue or anything like that, but maybe my confidence in my sales pitch was a bit exaggerated. I wasn't selling anything more than the very same confidence I possessed, of course; my mentor needed something to justify having me as a pupil. But anyhow, it is fairly obvious to the astute reader that the good thing was all too soon gone, and the balance of power shifted. It was all at the hands of an anonymous toddler.

Yes, this little fellow had captured my mentor's attention, and caused him to laugh. Being seated where I was, I couldn't see out the door, and had to rely on the cute wailings that drifted through. I couldn't help smile, and it was a nice moment that I would ruin by trying to make a joke. "An early start to computer science", I believe I said. If I made a movie about this (I'm a narcissist), I'd feature a copy of myself drinking something, only to splutter "What?" at this monstrosity. It is a terribly common affliction, no doubt, to lose control with a joke gone astray, but surely since it was borne out of someone who has just learn to walk, I would be spared the injustice? Ah, the find minds who wrote the paper I had in front of me, not even they would be able to fathom this.

My mentor only gave a weak laugh, but I could sense that I had lost the upper hand. In the brief discussion that followed, I merely listened, for I knew that I had to abide by the ancient rules handed down by my forefathers. What might have been had I kept control? Perhaps I would be pupil no longer. But it was not to be - and who knows, maybe the toddler was only in my mind.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It's funny, sometimes you start off with the intent of writing something, but then four lines later, you've gone in a completely different direction.

I was playing with him, tossing out conversation starters. When I say that, it sounds like tossing meat to a hungry dog, but in my case, it was as though the dog were already well-fed and content to watch the strange projectiles land squarely on its nose. Every topic was met and finished in a sentence or two. I somehow wanted to break down all these barriers, thinking that things were not like they used to be. When I thought about it, of course, I realized that they actually are, only I never noticed it.

Then, looking at the mess I made, with all those uneaten pieces lying on the floor, I thought to myself "Man, I have to get rid of that dog".

Thursday, April 13, 2006

She looked at her watch. "Fifteen minutes late", she sighed, and she picked up her pace. She knew that the professor wouldn't mind, of course, but she was growing weary of coming in once everyone was already seated. All eyes would fall on her, and she would inwardly curl up in a ball to deflect all the attention. She did not look forward to a repeat of the experience.

She entered the room in a hurry, and was taken out of her temporary delusion that somehow no-one would notice. There they all sat silently, no one saying a word, but all eyes mutely fixed on her for that one moment that, perhaps more in retrospect than anything else, felt like an hour. She scrambled to the nearest seat she could find, but was shaking a little, and took a barely perceptible while longer to do so than one normally would. She thought she heard someone say "There she is", but maybe it was just her imagination. Either away, she cursed softly, but was relieved that she had finally made it. "I'll be on time next week", she said to herself.

It was as she was taking the book out of her bag that the professor said something she didn't catch. Everyone else laughed in unison, but she merely looked around in confusion. It soon died down, and gave way to rapt attention. "What were they laughing about?", she wondered.

A moment's thought convinced her that the wretch had actually made a comment about her, no doubt something hilarious about her not being on time. It seemed to make perfect sense to her at the time, and was far more appealing a thought than the uncertainity and all that came with it. "It's not my fault", she wanted to say, but she knew that would come across strange. "They wouldn't understand", she said, tears beginning to form in her eyes. She looked at the other people and thought them all to be sick to have laughed at her like that. As if they knew her or her reasons! She shut her book, and paid no attention for the whole hour. She merely sat thinking about what she should do. She felt like sitting in that same seat for the whole year, so that she would never be late again. Then she would be the one laughing at all of them when they crawled into the room.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Terrible, I know. I didn't intend to venture out of my style, but I had to in order to get something out of this. I was just about to delete it, but maybe that's a tad harsh.

It was agreed amicably over breakfast one day - he would get a phone call, and they would discuss what needed to be discussed. "What is he going to ask", he wondered at first, but he left it there, and paid little heed to it until the day arrived.

He sat waiting for the phone to ring, having neatly set aside time in his schedule to sit around waiting for the call. It is true that he was not overly busy at the time, but he secretly enjoyed the thought of this temporary relief, for he enjoyed the fact that he was doing someone else a favour at his own expense. Maybe next week, over a coffee or a quick lunch, he could remark to his colleague of how his precious time was set aside for a call from someone he didn't even know. He imagined he would gain more respect as people saw what a generous man he was - At last, someone to look up to in this world! See him sacrifice his time for someone he doesn't know! If only we could be more like him! He suddenly felt silly and wondered if he had overdone that last part, but he felt happy anyway.

All the while, though, he was still waiting. Thirty minutes. One hour. Two. "What's going on?", he began to wonder with a mild sense of irritation. There was no doubt the longer he waited, the more respect he would gain. You waited a whole two hours!?!, he could hear his colleague exclaim. He still wanted that, very much so, but he hadn't reckoned on how difficult it would be. He couldn't help but feel that maybe he was wasting time, and that he couldn't afford to sit here much longer. He decided it was probably a good idea to get on with the rest of his day, but for some reason his mind lacked the necessary focus. He tried to get back to his papers, and started on the first one, but he couldn't keep his mind away from the phone. He kept pausing as he wrote, expecting the phone would ring and that he could then get the conversation out of the way. He initially dismissed this whole thing as being a shortcoming in his concentration, and decided to take some time off (aware of course that the past two hours were not particularly productive), and so he switched on his television, hoping to find some temporary relief.

Soon it had been three more hours. At this stage, with some repeat he had seen ten times before reliably acting itself out on television, he grew positively furious. Was this some kind of joke? Was it just a game to see how long he could be made to sit around and wait? There was a rational voice inside him that told him it was not a matter which deserved such attention, but he gave in to his anger, because he knew himself too well. He put on his jacket and in disgust, went out to clear his head, no longer caring if he received the call or not. The fresh air did him some good, as he exhaled a couple of times, took a deep breath and began to stroll around his neighbourhood. Pretty soon, he started to feel better, and he even ran into a friend he hadn't seen for a while. They engaged in pleasantries and by now, he had managed to shelve away the shameful proceedings of the day thus far.

When he returned, replenished and far more in control of himself, he noticed there were no messages on his phone. Still no call. For a minute or two, he began to wonder whether he had imagined the whole thing - was there a phone call at all? Had he even been promised a call, or was that a dream? He carefully thought back to the day before, back to the salt and eggs of breakfast, and the words rung clear. No, there was no doubting it, he had been told in no uncertain terms that he would get a call in the morning. Although he had temporarily resolved this confusion, it seemed to only add to his frustration, and he promptly sat down and did something particularly uncharacteristic. He wrote a letter that expressed just what he thought of these miserable tactics, keeping quiet the rational voice that was now screaming that he was making a terrible mistake, and that he would wake up regretting this. He consulted no thesarus, for the words he wanted to use came naturally to him.

He never did get a reply - but he never expected one. His life continued as normal, and the following month he had published yet another paper. He quickly forgot the whole incident, and his days were now bereft of the uncertainity of the call. It was not until many years later when, in keeping with his strict diet, he assessed the broccoli on his plate, that the mystery was solved.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I get riled up too easily. And yes, the plagiariasm is very much intentional*, and intended to be a true imitation of rock's Wilde.

Stagger Lee,
Stagger Lee,
Class is not found
In the words your mother never taught you
(Though four is a fine number).
"Why was it dead?", you asked him
Because you are dead to him
And don't you wonder
Why in Bangladesh they say
You unchaste fool
You are dead to us
So shelve your heavenly plans
It's hard enough when you belong.

Part II
You are sick in the head
It is true, and I am sad
For I know no cure
But I do know you are false
And so I wish you no luck
Only that swift justice be dealt.

* But you know, it isn't meant to be one of those novelty things; it is a perfectly serious (even if deliberately excessive) statement on my part. It somehow felt right to use the lines I did - no doubt similar to what the man himself feels when he does his writing. The words of "Cemetry Gates" are ringing in my ears, but I hope I will be forgiven this indiscretion.

A sombre meditation

Preserved for posterity rather than anything else. The work itself is another case of catharsis through writing, and as such I do not think deserves all that much attention, except from myself.

Failure comes in many forms
The unread book beside my bed
The years I've seen floating by
And the future so near.
When I think about it, sometimes
I believe I must be quite mad
And with madness comes no lucidity
Only the nagging question
Have I thrown it all away?
'Perhaps', a ghost will answer
But it is so sad
That I see what I want to be
And also how far away I am.
Does my life have purpose?
Perhaps not; the sweet strains of music
Suggest at something more, and indeed
I do believe there is more
But look at the others
And honestly tell me
'You have found meaning
Your path is true
You have a future yet'
Am I too harsh? Perhaps, but
Is there truth to what I say?
My friend, the answer can only be yes.
You cannot change overnight, sure,
But you must sometimes stop
And think of where you are heading
Before you end up old and unfulfilled
In a life bereft of beauty.
I put on Paul Simon's "My Little Town" yesterday, and sure enough, it reminded me of Lou Reed's "Smalltown". I was going to say they make me feel nostalgic, but that's not the right word; neither song is a fond recollection of good times, after all ("But the best part about growing up in a small town / Is that you get to grow down in a small town"*). They're both tinged with sadness, but what's strange is that it's almost as though they make me wish I were from a tiny town of my own, even though I can't relate to either song. I suppose there's just something powerful in the image of growing up in a small little town, so much so that it makes me wish it were true of me.

* Lou Reed may be a fine lyricist in most cases, but sometimes it's just the way he recites words that make them memorable. You really lose a lot when you read his lines without his delightful intonation speaking them to you (these lines are hardly poetic, but there's something hidden in the way he says them).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I mentioned the Pandora music project a while back - it's a music recommendation system, which is a concept that I find quite appealing (even though I end up buying albums and not hearing them till six months later). It's good, but I've realized why I don't use it more often. I don't think its sophisticated enough when it comes to determining what music is similar - I think at the moment, it tags songs with their qualities, and then compares tags. Works ok, but I do find it a bit limiting sometimes. Then again, I guess I am pretty picky about these things - see, I just knew that if I asked for something similar to Paul Simon's "Mother And Child Reunion" that I would get reggae music. Hey, I like reggae and all, but it isn't the reason I like the song. Consequently, I find the recommendations to be mostly just ok, and not quite as satisfying as my original choice. Of course, I doubt it was meant to be used in the way I seem to want to use it (finding other 'great' songs), so I suppose I'll continue hanging off every word of internet reviewers for now.

In an upstairs room in Blackpool

Of late, I've found that I'm fast losing interest in all but a small subset of musical styles. I remember mentioning the artists I was interested in pursuing this year, but so far, I've made no attempt to look anywhere near their catalogues. Why? I'm not sure - all of a sudden, I've become preoccupied with the lyricists of olde, and much softer music. I can't believe that I once had Atomic Rooster and Nazareth on my list of artists to look into!

In fact, some days, I feel like I'm reverting back to my musical childhood. Graham Nash still sounds pretty darn good, and is able to draw more interest than [acclaimed, and I'm sure good, post-punk band]. Good times. What an ingeniously simple method I used to apply to determine if I liked a song - compared to the rigorous analysis I seem to apply today.

Speaking of Nash, I hope I someday unearth Wild Tales and remember what it was like to have once heard "Oh, Camil!" on a cool winter morning.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

As Beck might say, Hell yeah. You know, it takes me back to those days when we first got the huge 17" monitor; how funny that it was just today that I unplugged it, perhaps for the last time. Can't quite forget those days of Download Dispatch and GamerX.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jon Landau's essay after seeing Bruce Springsteen, "rock and roll future". I wonder if I've had epiphanies like this? None that I can recall, but, as it goes with such things, I can relate.
Well before our meeting, I wondered what he would say. I hoped he would say he understood. I hoped even more he would say he agreed.
I just realized that I've written an amazing volume of nonsense over the years. It's getting better, but only marginally.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The iPod and 'modern science's greatest mystery' is explored quite entertainingly by a Princeton professor. And you know, it's almost enough to make one want to be a computer scientist. Oh, wait...

In truth, I don't really feel like a CS-person, but I'd put that down to the lack of exposure to a lot of things that pure CS seems to focus on. The kinds of theoretical analysis of algorithms I've done, for starters, have never even remotely approached the ingenuity (or mathematical fluency) demonstrated by some of Knuth's work. Of late, I've been working on a project that is I suppose theoretical CS in some ways. After all, when your storage requirements are ne-2 (e being desired error), you're not going to win too many friends in the applied sciences. What have I learnt?

Well, for starters, it's not all that bad. But I must state a caveat - perhaps I think that only because till now, my work has involved reading and assimilating a wide range of papers. As of yet, there is no contribution that I have had to come up with (save pithy summaries that I make for those who are interested). As it goes with these things, once that starts, it won't be too much of a surprise to see me write here about how I long to be studying against a set text rather than gazing out into the unknown, having to figure my way all by myself.

It also makes me wish I were able to understand what these clever people talk about sometimes. Knuth is taken to be something of a God in CS-circles, but to me, he is also something of a mystery. I'm talking about his mind. How one can assimilate and contribute so much, 'tis a mystery. But there are far more common people who strike me as being unbelievably adept at being able to think in terms of algorithms and plans of attack when confronting a new problem; it sometimes makes me wonder if I'm cut out for this field after all.

Perhaps best of all, there's enough maths to satiate my appetite and make me forget how I cruelly abandoned this enchantress at the end of last year. Now I realize that maybe I didn't need to take a maths unit just to feel "in touch"; especially since I find I have no idea what is going on in the subject. But let's worry about that come exam time, shall we?

Actually, in one of the author's interviews, he says something I find strangely offensive. It is words to the effect of mathematics producing beautiful one-liners, but CS producing literature. The analogy is meant to indicate that CS can be large and messy, but ultimately is capable of a more satisfying analysis of reality. I occasionally find myself being taken in by his poetic descriptions of CS, but mostly I find myself arguing that surely mathematics produces these one-liners on the surface, but with far more staggering literature that's at work underneath. It's a little disconcerting that I should argue for the inferiority of my field of choice, but there you go.
Watching you at the front of the class
With the snide questions
Sniggers you couldn't hear
I just thought back
To the person of the day before
I couldn't understand it
And I thought to myself
"It is just so sad".

Saturday, March 25, 2006

No, the title change is not to say that I don't appreciate Robert Hunter anymore. Just another crazy idea that came into my head as it was raining one afternoon - the words from McCartney's neat little song just came into my head (it's an infuriating song, you know; the first five seconds or so are catchy as heck, but the melody isn't used again!). But actually, I suppose it goes a bit further than that. After all, since I've had a change in what I write about, I may as well stop pretending like this blog is meant to be contain anything profound (the previous title may have given the impression that there is writing of worth here, not fawning over music!). Why don't we stop fooling ourselves? (Sorry, I can't help it! Every post must contain a reference to a song it looks like)

Maybe sometime soon I'll get back to what I originally intended to do here. But right now, we have a minor digression.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"You know what I am, two-tongued devil", he said quietly, wondering all the while why he considered this man his friend. He remembered then the loans of money, and all the help he had been offered at no expense, but he immediately resented ever having agreed to these.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The young fools were out in throves. "We are better than them", my uncle would say as he looked out into the distance, as though he were not speaking to me, but all those worthy of listening. In those days, I never knew much about the world, and in my naivety was unable to understand why these boys would do such a thing. When I saw that they looked different, I was never filled with any fear or anger. And yet every story told made me wonder all the more whether I was in fact worse than them. "But we must pity them, for they will never learn", he would say. The thick frames of his glasses looked quite beautiful at the time. I looked at his noble face looming above me, and I wondered how it was possible for anyone to dislike this man. At the time, I never appreciated it, but there was a true dignity in the way he carried himself. Were I subject to what he went through, I would certainly have let blind rage take over me. Sometimes, I still think back to that day, and wish that I had the strength to have gone up to them and... But the more I thought about him, the more I began to realize that what he did was right. We did not pick up our pace - he in fact began to walk slower. He calmly turned towards them, with that look in his face that is now forever etched in my memory.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I've been reading One Hundred Years Of Solitude. It probably shows.

It was when he went in through the door that he realized that there was no longer good and bad, and that all men were simply no better than those nomadic savages he read about in his childhood - it was just as father once told him. When he experienced the pains of the offhand slight that awaited him on the other side of the door, he remembered the various moments of his life that were mired in insignificance and the pathetic, abject suffering. He desperately sought to rise above it all for a moment, and be like what he remembered his father as.

With his sights firmly set on what he wanted to become, he would later feel that he had survived through it all and come out a better man. Indeed, it was true; and yet, it was his bad luck that most people never noticed this, for all they saw was that he began to dress uncannily like his father. People would attribute his sudden good fortune purely to some unknown power in those regal coats and the exquisite golden ring he inherited. He never paid attention to such stories, but nonetheless made sure that his son tried on his grandfather's coat on the first day of winter. It was a perfect fit, and as he marvelled at how much it suited him, he did feel slightly worried that his son would grow too attached to it.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Levity has its place, but not here, my dear. Were I braver, maybe I could've actually said this out loud. Sniggers that seemed so strange, because I could easily be the one making them. And yet, no one knows my own connections, and so no one knows why I get so easily upset at these trivialities.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No Direction Home was very enjoyable, as expected, and further drove home the point that Dylan absolutely hated being labelled "the voice of a generation" and all that jazz. My favourite moment (that I can remember) is an early performance of "Mr. Tambourine Man" at a folk-festival. It was so bitterly funny trying to imagine what those gathered there must have thought when they were expecting some solid folkie tunes, but instead got "And take me disappearing through the smoke-rings of my mind"! It also made me wish that I was around, just to experience the phenomenon first hand. Somehow I feel we won't see such a radical extension of music make it to the mainstream (for all I know, the avant-garde groups are doing some truly mind-expanding stuff now) and change the landscape of popular music.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How did it just so happen that two of the greatest melodists rock has ever seen were born within years of each other in Liverpool?

(You know, it is instinctive for me to write to "of the", rather than just "the", but in this case I'm oh-so-tempted to reconsider)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A lot of indie stuff I've heard lately has seemed to be lacking in sufficient quality so as to make me feel something. There have been one too many songs that just whiz by me as a dense collage of guitars, vocals and drums, with nothing really gelling to make anything memorable. At the present moment, I'm not a particularly big fan of a lot of the indie rock I've heard*; not that I don't like any of it (the Fiery Furnaces I like - the music is far too interesting for me not to notice), but my overall feeling is such that I'm still quite content to concentrate on trawling through the tonnes of material from the '60s to '80s, unlike S. The '90s and '00s will have their turn, sure, but a fair deal later I'd say. Although, I wonder if I'll get to the state Sufjan Stevens is in ("I don't have the inclination to discover new music. Honestly, I don't really care").

Melodically, though, I guess a fair bit of it has been rather good - enough so to be surprising. Of course there has been nothing in the grand vein, but quite a few of them are pretty solid. What's surprising is that there hasn't been as much "borrowing" from older stuff than I would have expected - I suppose we aren't running out of melodies just yet (but hey, don't tell me Arcade Fire's "Neighbourhood #2" doesn't borrow the mellotron riff from the Moody Blues' "The Voice" - clever guys, taking something from one of the least known Moodies songs!).

* I clearly haven't heard enough for any damning final judgement or anything, but I've heard some bands who have gotten rave reviews. But let me just reiterate that I don't mean this to be indicative of all indie music today - hey, Jens Lekman I can get just fine.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It turns out those lines that were stuck in my head these past few months, yet whose origin forever eluded me, was from one of the various bits in McCartney's epic "Long Haired Lady" (it was the "Win or lose it, into the soul" part that's thrown into the mix at some point). I just heard it again, and what can you say, it's a work of sheer genius. It reminds me how much I love Ram, and has me wondering how many other artists are out there who are unknown to me, and yet have such epiphanies in their catalogue.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'd be a liar if I were to call myself a gamer in any form these days, but time was when games were what it was all about. I came about this realization when P was chatting to me a few days back ("Played MDK2?" / No, haven't a clue what it's even about. "What about Deus Ex?" / Got it, but haven't played it. "You know that bit in GTA where..." / Umm sorry, but I don't particularly like GTA). The tag of "gamer" is something that has latched onto me, even as the number of games I sit down and play has fallen to, well, zero.

Is the interest still there? A little bit; when I think back to some great gaming moments, I do visit games websites and see whether anything on the horizon looks promising. Most of the games I'm interested in seem to be at least a few years old (one exception would I guess be Oblivion), though I wouldn't read into this too much - in particular, I don't think it says anything about quality of games. It says more about my attention span and tolerance of perceived mediocrity these days, which is most assuredly on the decline. Especially the latter, which is not restricted just to video games (right now, I'm living with the bitter belief that 90% of what I used to watch on TV is pure tripe).

But really, about the only genre that I still have an interest in is the good old fashioned RPG*. Except, if I think about it, I haven't played all that many RPGs anyway - the holy trinity of FF7, Baldur's Gate and Ultima (7/8/9?) are about the only real RPGs I've played. I suppose I've been lucky to have gotten my hands on such good ones. The good (great) impressions these have left on me have made me want more of the same, and so it seems that every new RPG that comes out with high scores is a promise of the same level of experience; but year after year, these golden children fade from my memory and I am left thinking about those three great games, and wondering why there aren't more like them.

Maybe the end of gaming that I have often predicted is less from the state of games today, and more about the state of me today! It's hard to imagine that I've lost the gaming drive, but the evidence seems pretty convincing. And yet, I don't think I will ever completely lose interest in regaining it - even now, there is still the hope that a game will come along and take me back to those days gone by.

*I don't see myself getting into FPSes anymore, but there is hope for strategy and maybe even adventure games. Trouble is, the world seems to be into online gaming these days, which is no good for the introverted.