Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tacos at Sunrise

There is something magical
about the way the sun
rises over the rolling hills
on a warm June morning

To pack a basket with tortillas
fresh from the oven,
carne asada
straight off the grill,
a thermos
full of iced horchata

Sitting above it all
watching the light
trill and pulse
over the ridge

With heartfelt
food in hand
day breaking
all around
what could be better?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Local Natives - Heavy Feet

   When you listen to music, do you ever stop and think to yourself, wow, this is so great, I wish I had written it? As if just liking it is not enough, but maybe if you were to own it, to have created it, that might be. Heavy Feet by Local Natives strikes that kind of chord with me. I'm not really sure if I feel like that because of the each way of the instruments seem to weave past each other with hand claps here and there or the lyrics which seem to evoke a specific time and place so that by the end of the song you are left with the feeling of almost remembering a dream. Its ethereal, dissolving by the time its over.

   What's more, the video for Heavy Feet is just as beautiful, strange(there are singing sandwiches), and elegant. It depicts the story of three blind men who fly remote control air planes. It is a premise seemingly improbable, and yet you can only be filled with wonder while watching.

Local Natives
Heavy Feet

directed by Ben Reed

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Talkin' Bout Mega Man

  I've been wanting to do a piece on Mega Man for awhile, and what better time than now? Last year was the 25th anniversary of the series and they have continued the celebration into this year with select merchandise and re-releases of classic games.

   For me it all started somewhere around 20 years ago, that is whenever my brother bought Mega Man 2 for our Nintendo Entertainment System. Right from the start we were entranced, we were besotted. It was a brand new, colorful world where we were a blue robot entrusted with saving the world from the eight evil robot masters Dr. Wily had designed to wreak havoc. You got to pick the order you beat them in, meaning you could do it in a different order every time. And it was hard, oh man was it challenging. That difficulty I think taught us a valuable lesson of perseverance. When the going gets tough, try, try, try again. Some people decry video games as being a waste of time and just utter distractions. I really do not think that is an unfair assessment. I believe video games can teach lasting lessons and tell stories in a meaningful and interactive method; essentially immersing the player inside the story being told.


   In Mega Man the control scheme is simple but very precise. You can run right or left, jump to a variety of heights, and shoot using a simple arm cannon dealing 1 damage per shot. Later as you defeat each Robot Master you gain their distinct weapon or power. These powers are varied, ranging from the ability to stop time for a period, to shooting circular saw blades, to making it rain. That's the short and tall of it: running jumping and shooting and for all of that it is so good. In Mega Man 3 you gain the ability to slide, giving you access to areas restricted by low hanging walls. Mega Man 4 introduced the Mega Buster which gave the player the ability to charge the buster cannon so that one shot could now have the combined power of three shots. Other than that nothing much changed formula and mechanics wise throughout the series: each game had a number (usually eight) of robot masters with weapon specialties and a mad scientist (usually Dr. Wily) behind the whole mess.

  My brother and I spent many afternoons sitting cross-legged on the floor looking up at the television, conferring about strategy and hoping that maybe this time we might beat Air Man. Through countless hours of trial and error we would conquer the Robot Masters one after the other and then take on Dr. Wily's castle with even more challenges. The most amazing part in retrospect is that we did it without high speed internet or guides to help us solve puzzles and defeat bosses. instead we did it through perseverance and cooperation. Sometimes it was frustrating and we'd give up and turn off the system, but we would never stay defeated for long. We would always come back, even years later. There's just something magical about the series, I'm not sure exactly what it is. Maybe its nostalgia, but I think there's more to it than that.

   Perhaps the soundtrack has something to do with it. Each level has Mega Man has a unique blend of 8-bit techno stylings that really evoke the robotic lands you are navigating. Plus the music of Mega Man is incredibly catchy in my opinion, every once in awhile I find myself humming a bit of it here or there.

Mega Man II
Flash Man's Stage

Years ago I would hang out with a friend who's favorite series was Final Fantasy. We would have endless inane arguments over which series had better music. Final Fantasy is famous for its sweeping, epic orchestrated background music that really does put you in the mindset of a magical foreign land and being on epic quests. But I valiantly argued that Mega Man's techno blips and bleeps were better.

  Recently I purchased a 3DS. For the 25th anniversary Capcom and Nintendo are re-releasing the original six NES games for the 3DS e-shop each month, meaning you can download them directly onto the console. So far I have purchased 2, 3, and 4; effectively turning my 3DS into a mobile Mega man device.

 At some point in the past year or two I found Magical Game Time, which is the artist Zac Gorman's Tumblr where he features artwork and comics inspired by video games. A good amount of the work comes from retro games like Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, Earthbound, as well as many others. In his comics he captures the innocence of these games, the silliness and the heartfelt stories that are told. His comics inspired by Mega Man can be found here, here, and here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Princess and the Captain

Turn this ship around!
she cried
like a petulant child
denied of her demands

I cannot
replied the captain
no more than
I can divert the sun
upon the sky

She screamed 
in desperation
pulling her hair
at the roots

There has to be a way
she thought
oh, this simply
cannot be

But aside from the captain
the crew had 
long since
submitted themselves to slumber

The princess and the captain
the only duo
left at the helm
aware of their direction
but without control