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Wednesday, 04 April 2018 12:49

Game on! – ‘Ready Player One’

The potency of nostalgia is well-documented at this point. It seems as though much of the pop culture we consume these days is inspired by (or straight-up copied from) source material that we already know and love. Revisiting what we loved in the past has become a cottage industry across all entertainment platforms.

And so it’s no surprise that Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel “Ready Player One” would be adapted to the big screen. It’s a story ready-made for the wistful remembrances of the current cultural climate, packed with wave after wave of period-specific nerd references aimed at striking the winsome sweet spot of one particular generation. We do so love to love what we already love.

But when you hand the reigns over to a pop cultural icon like Steven Spielberg, well … that’s when you take things to a whole new level. A level, I might add, that is actually a bit higher than might have been expected for a film like this one. It’s precisely the sort of sci-fi-steeped young-person adventure story at which Spielberg excels. It’s throwbacks within throwbacks within throwbacks – a meta-nostalgic moviegoing experience that in many ways outshines the perfunctory nature of its inspiration.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:21

'Stranger Things' have happened

Netflix miniseries offers exceptional entertainment

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. So powerful, in fact, that many have sought to find ways in which to commodify it. The result of those efforts at monetization is a general thinning of quality across the board far too many of these memory-fueled projects wind up as disappointments on some level or another.

And then you have something like Netflix's 'Stranger Things,' which succeeds in ways many of us likely didn't even know we wanted until they were placed on the screen before us.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:42

Past imperfect

Sports fans have always been among the best at building up memories at the expense of the present. Perhaps because most of us became fans at a young age, we look back with an affection that can sometimes blind us to the good that exists in the here and now.

The most recent epidemic of backwards-gazing has come with the arrival of the final high school basketball tournament at the Bangor Auditorium. Seemingly every human being within a hundred miles of Buck Street has been asked about their favorite memory of the place, and the tributes to a facility that was outdated by the Carter administration are pouring in from all quarters. Unfortunately, there are also those who romanticize the past so much they can't see the present or future with any clarity. Like so many others, I recall many great times spent at the Auditorium, but personally, I can't wait to see the wrecking ball turn that mid-20th century paradise into a 21st-century parking lot. The new Cross Insurance Center is shaping up to be the kind of facility that this area has needed for decades and will signify a glorious new day for any fan with a sense of civic pride that outweighs their misty, watercolor memories.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:09

Old-School Payne

Coming back to a classic

The pressure bore down on me like a lioness hunting for her cubs, relentless and cunning. I sat in a daze at my computer, $20 in credit for Steam in hand and a mind muddled by multiple shots of Mountain Dew. The Summer Sale was clamoring for my attention, the various sellers virtually leaning out of their stalls in an attempt to tempt me to pay them some modicum of focus. I hadn't seen this many $5 deals since I'd worked my gig at Wal-Mart. Then it hit me: I should find something I had played as a child and hadn't really had the intelligence to think through and fully understand. Cocky and precocious as I was, there was still so much lost on my adolescent mind, a sin that I had to redeem. If buying older games was holy, I was the Pope.

I sifted through the various offerings, feeling the overweight monkey of decision eating bon-bons on my back. 'Delta Force'? No, there are places even this grizzled gamer doesn't go anymore. 'Tachyon: The Fringe'? I hadn't piloted a starship in years. Perhaps 'Thief'? The steps to get it to work on a Windows 8 machine formed a rap sheet as long as my arm. It seemed my nostalgic quest had evaporated with the heat before it even had a chance to see the light roasting it into oblivion.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:07

Do A Barrel Roll!

The curious effect of gaming

I've been finding myself listening to Brentalfloss, a chap on YouTube who has made name for himself by adding lyrics to classic game melodies. As much as I destroyed the value of nostalgia a few weeks ago, it seems my current existential crisis is driving me more and more toward my memories for some sort of relief from the worries of adulthood. In light of this, listening to young master Floss sing about Bubble Man's feelings on fighting Mega Man is staving off the encroaching insanity from planning a wedding and a life with my future wife. It's like the best parts of my childhood are gathering their strength to help me in this war we call 'moving on with your life.'

How could video games have this kind of an effect on my psyche, you ask?

Well, as Ricky Ricardo would say, I got some 'splainin' to do.

Video gaming isn't just a hobby, it's a culture. It gets in your blood, just like baseball, basketball, football and family businesses, carves its way into your heart, and you get a little smile remembering times spent with your favorite games. How many of you have ever walked out onto a Little League field and reminisced about your childhood games? How many of you have watched your kid's soccer game, and you blink, and for a split second, you're still out there, playing with such passion and single-minded joy?

Published in Tekk
Thursday, 05 April 2012 15:06

A Link To The Past

The beast called Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a terribly funny thing, a cruel, warped mistress that can build our memories to god-like expectations. For instance, I write this while listening to an old recording of my old band, and hearing my 18-year-old voice crack and passionately hit high notes that I had no business reaching for. But as I listen to it, I remember the feeling of being onstage, belting out words that came from my heart, the weight of a microphone in my hand and a feeling of being exactly where I belong.

Games run this same gamut with me. I'll hop over to Good Old Games or find some Top 100 NES/SNES games, browse through the list, and upon seeing my childhood favorites, my eyes grow distant and my heart wistful. It's like all of my friends have come together for a high-school reunion.

'Oh, Lords of the Realm II! Do you remember the good times we had sending those peasants to fill in the moat under a hail of arrows? And how you could send correspondence with the AI opponents, like sending fart jokes under the banner of a compliment? Sheesh, that was endless fun! How are you making out these days? Oh, Sierra went under? That's too bad, man. Your third game sucked? Aw, man, I am so sorry. Hey, I'd love to stay and chat, but I see Space Quest and King's Quest over there, and I wanted to catch up with them. Take it easy, Lords of the Realm II!'

Published in Tekk

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