The Quest For Kickass: Episode 1

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Summer will be upon us soon, and your evenings will soon be bombarded by the usual late night scene.  Picture this:  You are sitting at a bar with your friends which has been playing the Top 40 on the radio all night long, and yet somehow seems to play the same six songs every time you’re there.  You see a giggling group of fresh graduates heading over to the jukebox and know you’re about to be subjected to about a half hour’s worth of Justin Bieber.  That’s about the time you decide it is time to hit the old dusty trail.    What I’m saying is sometimes you have to make your own night, and sometimes to that end you need your own handy playlist of music; your “kick ass” mix.  But Kickass comes in many different flavors and they don’t always mesh.

So, during the month of May, I will be giving you my suggestions for a variety of songs to fit any mood in what I have dubbed my “Quest For Kickass”.  

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The State of Metal

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Music and Comics

It’s been this way for a long time.  Hell, it’s been this way for as long as I can remember.  Heavy metal music gets no love from terrestrial radio, television, the big awards shows, or really anything that is considered “mainstream” media.  I get it, heavy metal can certainly be an acquired taste.  It isn’t always the most accessible music out there.  However, it is still a form of art.  It is still music.  Yet, metal gets so much disrespect and disdain.
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The Triforce of Nintendo Power

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What’s this? I’m actually doing a proper article this week instead of some self-aggrandizing op-ed piece?  Well aren’t you just a lucky duck.  But to be fair it’s still a bit of a fluff piece, talking about one of my favorite comics as a young lad and a piece of video game history to boot.  Surely those of us who grew up in my generation recall the constant televised plugs urging us with an almost hypnotic chant to “get the power, Nintendo Power“.  Well I never got “the power” myself.  I just got stuck a lot.  I didn’t have a subscription to any game magazine until I was a teenager toting my several year long subscription to PSM.  But thanks to a friend I did discover a piece of what I’d been missing out on.  It was upon visiting him for a sleepover one night when I was about twelve years old that I discovered a trade paperback featuring a collection of comics, all piled into one neat tome.

And what was this grand comic adventure? A graphic novelization of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past.  (Note:  Spoilers ahead.)  

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Cultural Osmosis: Movie Melodies

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Well, here we are again with my second look at the tunes that have permeated our modern society; sticking in our ears like so much wax.  But unlike video games, where the industry has only just matured within the past decade to the point of a truly mainstream activity, films have had about a century to wow us, albeit we didn’t have “talkies” until Al Jolson’s 1927 film The Jazz Singer.  (That, incidentally, is a film you’re probably better off only watching in a film studies context, much like Birth of a Nation.)  Well… as I backpedal away from the lingering edge of controversy allow me to bring up my main premise.  Films are diverse and a relatively mature medium.  And as films in general are far more “mainstream” than games, it can be a little tricky to pick out what themes are truly part of the culture and which only exist in your own bubble.   I find that the ones that I can immediately pick out have some key characteristics:  the themes are catchy, the source material is beloved – and often parodied, and the films are meant for general audiences.  All of these are fairly obvious reasons why something might become a part of our worlds individually, but combined create a wonderful triple threat.

So let’s take a look at some classic movie themes that have stuck with us – yes this is not as good a hook as I usually write.  

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Album Review: Light The Torch “Revival”

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"Revival" by Light The Torch

It seems like, for me, these days it is very difficult to find a new album that makes me want to listen to it on repeat over and over again.  The last record that made me feel like that was last year’s “Material Control” by Glassjaw.  That’s not to say that new music being put out isn’t any good at all.  That’s far from the truth.  I discover new music all the time and I will go back and give another listen to a lot of that stuff in due time.  However, there are those records that every once in awhile just find their way in heavy rotation for me.  The new release from Light The Torch, “Revival”, has become one of those rare records for me.
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Flair Loops #13 Review

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Titis A. Shires only recently released his masterpiece of comedic genre-bending gold last year.  Despite being privately funded and creating the work almost completely solo, he has already managed to publish his 13th issue!  For those of you unfamiliar with this indie darling, Flair Loops, I don’t want to spoil too much but suffice to say it is a seamless blend of wacky superhero antics, Car-Fu and teenage love drama all rolled into one.  The main hero, Jake Sito, is top of his class by day, and king of an underground street racing circuit.  The guys wanna be him, the girls wanna be with him, and everything in his life is going great!  Until he loses his first race.  Distraught over his loss, he makes a deal with the devil which gives him superhuman reflexes, but with one unfortunate side effect:  he has to act as over-the-top as possible.  Ridiculous stunt jump? He has to take it?  Walls between him and his enemy?  Oh you know he has to flip over them Matrix-style.  And with the ladies? Well let’s just say Tuxedo Mask would tell him he’s being too dramatic.  So with twelve stylized adventures already out and our hero being pushed to his absolute limit in the last one, how has Shires managed to capture our attention with the latest issue?

Well, by revealing that the protagonist is about to die.  

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Comics Reviews – Week of 03/21/18 Part 1

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Music and Comics

Admittedly as I got started with this website I wasn’t really sure how I was going to pull off doing comic book reviews every week.  I want to be able to cover a broad range of the books that I read regularly but I just don’t have the time to do an individual big write up for each book.  It’s just not realistic at this point in time.  However, I think I have found a compromise.  I am going to try to write up 2 or 3 of these posts a week (as time allows) where I am taking an in-brief look at 4 or 5 recent comics releases that I have read.

Warning:  Spoilers Abound
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The Art of Discovery

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The Art of Discovery with Mike Ficklin

One of my primary goals on Music and Comics is to help up and coming bands gain some exposure.  Bands that maybe haven’t been signed to a label or maybe they are on a label but not getting the promotional push they deserve.  As such, this is but the first of an ongoing series of articles that I will be writing entitled The Art of Discovery.  The purpose of these articles is to give some love to amazing acts that (maybe) you haven’t heard before.
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Cultural Osmosis: The Ubiquity of Video Game Music

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Well this week I decided to take a break and rather than do something which required a whole lot of research, I’d rather just spew my opinion at you for a few hundred words.  Except I’m calling it an “Editorial” to give it a vague sense of authority.  After all if you say “I read some dude word vomit his opinion online” it sounds like you wasted your time, but if you say “I read this fascinating Editorial” it sounds like you’re an intellectual and discerning person who drinks the finest coffee and is a delight at parties.  But of course, as you’re on this site, we already know you have good taste!  So what is my Editorial about? Well it’s part of a potentially recurring series of Editorials I’d like to do examining how certain music has become part of our culture.  Music (and perhaps some comics) that have become a staple of our human existence.

And as a treat to myself, this week I’m looking at how certain video game music has become a part of our society.  Continue reading