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Life Along The River Vaal

December 27, 2011

Good morning, Macketeers. I’m back.

So I’m listening to prototypical Patrick O’Hearn and tooling around with an idea for a series of wiki articles based on a silver screen MMO concept I have, which I may show you some of in the coming days. Right now, I’m working on a wiki for a western instance. The whole concept of the game is, instead of hack and slash, you have to perform lines, close-up reactions and action sequences to win points and determine if you made a successful interpretation of the material.

The supposed game can’t possibly exist with the current generation of PC MMORPGs, but with a webcam and headset, it would be an interesting new variation on ‘team sports for geeks’, as we refer to MMOs around these parts. Instead of guilds, you have troupes, and instead of parties, you have casts. There can be fight scenes, but ther ecan also be comedy spit takes and flirty glances and dirty looks and perfect line deliveries and battle cries and all the rest. I know it’s only a dream, but what a dream.

The premise of the game is that you are a performer working in one of the big studios in America or around the world, and you are basically trying to get yourself to A List and either go on to writing, directing, producing or receiving the Lifetime Achievement Occam for Contributions To Cinema. As you can see, it’s pretty unconventional, and in real life would probably fail miserably to find its audience, because most folks wouldn’t know what to make of it, and it would probably find its audience long after it had drifted into free-to-play territory. Which I think is a shame, because I would play a game like this.

I’m listening to an album from 2005 called [sic], by German guitarist Alex Machacek, with Terry Bozzio on drums and a band of pretty respectable-sounding studio musicians I don’t recognize. The music is really lovely, but in that Mahavishnu-meets-Zappa sort of way that far too many musicians utterly fail to make sound convincing. This guy wins at sophisticated-but-lively. He has monster guitar chops, but he only used them where needed. The rest of the time, he was playing chord progressions and riffs, effects splashes and walls of sound. He clearly didn’t feel the need to impress himself too much there, more interested in doubling up with the keyboard or marimba/xylophone parts and enhancing the compositions. His playing was very witty, and the band really worked well together.

The arrangements were everything you could ask for from a mostly-instrumental album that features guitar and drums, but doesn’t resort to a lot of rock and roll or straight jazz cliches. Instead, it cross-pollinated every virtuoso style of popular music you can think of that features electric guitar and trap drums and percussion. As well, the arrangements for the rest of the band were lovely and light, whimsical and challenging.

It’s also really nice to hear someone writing material that made Terry play to his strengths as one of the premier improvisational and progressive drummers in the world. He did stuff on this album we’ve only heard hints of on some of his more commercial projects. It’s a relief to hear him still pushing back boundaries without trying to compete with the new generation of monster drummers, most of whom it seems play hard rock and heavy metal with progressive chops. Terry has all of these classic rock and progressive rock chops, but he fuses them with his jazz and world music influences, and thanks to Alex’s uncanny modern day Zappa stylings, Terry was practically back where he started, thirty years wiser and at least twice as good, living and breathing material that would probably have made Frank smile.

Anyway, I should be working, and I can’t spend all day on this MMO thing. It’s just a lark for my amusement right now. There’s real work to be done. Hope you folks have a great day.


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