July 17, 2005

Electronic Instrumentation [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at July 17, 2005 11:55 PM

Had a nice, restful weekend to prepare for a busy week of taking data. I haven't made a dent in my list of movies to watch, but here's how I've been occupying myself otherwise:

Donkey Konga 2: This is of course the second edition of the rhythm game played on the Gamecube's bongo controllers. As I had been warned, the songlist is more bland than in the previous version, with emphasis on rock and hip-hop of a more recent vintage. Highlights include the obligatory wacky remixes of classical music and some electronica that's well suited for bongo accompaniment. The low point is that reprehensible remix of the theme from The Young and the Restless which was inexplicably getting airtime on dance music stations a couple years ago. But most of the selections are pretty forgettable.

On the other hand, I find that the bongo parts are more fun to play than in the first game; they seem to flow more naturally with the music. Often I would find that I would get really into the music despite not liking the song, and would be dancing along in the gaps between drum hits. (Although, if a certain Italian lady is correct in her assessment of me, this should not be unexpected anyway.) This effect seems to peak around the 3-5 banana level on Gorilla mode; for songs in the 6-7 banana range it seemed that they couldn't find any way to increase the difficulty other than putting the beats really close together, which is just annoying. Fortunately the 8-banana songs just produce their difficulty from reading complicated patterns very quickly.

Haven't tried any of the minigames, so I can't report on that. This version does seem to have more game modes than the previous one, which may be of interest.

Richard K. Morgan: Market Forces: I do love Richard K. Morgan, but I'm not getting into this book as much as I did the Takeshi Kovacs novels. The big problem, I realized, is that I don't buy the premise. I can accept his libertarian dystopia up until the corporate samurai are dueling to the death in cars to win contracts. This just seemed a little too silly, but last night I discovered that if I imagine the whole thing as the novelization of an anime production it seems to work a lot better. In fact once I started looking at it that way, it seems to draw a lot from the anime aesthetic (although fortunately not obsessing over automotive details the way the racing genre of anime does). Unfortunately Morgan's talent for metaphor and characterization seem mostly to be lacking so far, and I'm waiting for the plot to pick up. I'm not yet to the halfway point, so I can still hope for the action to ramp up in his usual manner.

Caribou: The Milk of Human Kindness: I kept seeing glowing reviews of this, but somehow they did not arouse much interest on my part. Then I happened to hear "Bees" on internet radio, and I bought the album the next time I was in a record store. It's instrument-heavy electronica, with vocals taking a supporting role, but frequently with a light pop-music feel. Highly recommended.


The fact that there exists such a thing as an "8-banana song" to begin with is enough to start me snickering. But your completely straight-faced critique of same was completely priceless.

Posted by: Dad | July 18, 2005 8:14 AM

If you think it sounds undignified when I talk about it, you should see me play it.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | July 18, 2005 10:08 AM

Hmmm...I _will_ eventually beat you in that last part in battle mode (which skewed more scores than I care to remember). Losing by 1 clap hurt especially...

Posted by: Mason | July 18, 2005 10:42 PM

We saw Donkey Konga 2 at the local Gamestop today (after going Salsa dancing (no, not at the Gamestop)), but they didn't appear to have a version which came with a pair of bongos, so I held off on buying it. Were you able to buy it with bongos, or have they stopped doing that? I want to complete a set of 4, but getting them with the games seems a slightly cheaper way of doing it. (2 so far - Donkey Konga and Jungle Beat - which MikeMike recently managed to finally get one of the secret crests on!)

Oh yeah... and we're due for a rematch, but I think we'd prolly better get practicing since you've got Konga 2 now. Losses by 1 beat suck.

Posted by: Zifnab | July 19, 2005 3:16 AM

Oh yeah! So who was the certain Italian lady, and what was her assessment of you? That you have mad dancing/rhythm skills and were capable of feet off-sweeping?

Posted by: Zifnab | July 19, 2005 3:18 AM

What's that phrase Richard K. Morgan likes to use? "Got it in one." Those of you who have known me for a while may be skeptical about whether I really possess, as she put it, "the soul of a dancer", but perhaps it can be attributed to my training on the bongos. Anyway, it turns out all that talk of hot physics women was not entirely theoretical...

I can confirm that Konga 2 does come packaged with bongos, since this set was quite plentiful indeed at the local Fry's. And as for a rematch, I say: bring it on.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | July 19, 2005 2:19 PM

Any comment on the Justice nomination thingy? I don't know what to think about it, not being very in touch, so figured i'd check with those more likely to have an opinion. :)

Posted by: Zifnab | July 19, 2005 6:49 PM

I don't know much about the guy. He doesn't have a big case history since he was only appointed to the appeals court in 2003. Word is that he was very business-friendly in private practice, and that he's close to the executive branch having worked under both Bush administrations. He's not a moderate but doesn't seem to be an extremist either. My guess is that the confirmation hearings will be thorough but there won't be a filibuster.

As for my personal feeling, it's a little early to say, but I'm a little relieved: I was expecting worse.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | July 19, 2005 7:17 PM

It seems that Travis's recent positive experience in Italy has finally culled the memory of a certain baseball game experience at the Oakland Mausoleum. :)

And you're definitely doing better at conferences than I am. :) [Personally, if I could get myself to actually talk to new people socially, that would help a lot. Being able to talk to people only after I've known them for a while is a little unfortunate when no longer living in a dorm.]

Posted by: Mason | July 19, 2005 10:36 PM
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