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Monster Party.000

Title: Monster Party
Year: 1989
Platform: NES
Developer: Human Entertainment
Publisher: Bandai

Oh, boy. Here we go.

Monster Party was released for the NES by Bandai in 1989 in the US, developed by Human Entertainment (of Kabuki Quantum Fighter fame, maybe). For whatever reason, Bandai never released the game in Japan, and this only adds to the obscurity and mystery surrounding the game.

Monster Party isn’t like most other NES games. It holds something of a cult status among retro gamers and collectors, both due to the game’s mysterious history and for its…aesthetic. While remaining in its average NES platformer obscurity, Monster Party saw a rise in its cult status after a series of Japanese Famicom prototype screenshots surfaced in the early 2000s on the internet. 

Let this be said first: Monster Party is a very strange game, a creepy, mystical video game. It’s tough to gauge how popular the game was initially (apparently it received a 6.25/10 from Nintendo Power), and I can’t comment on how the game would be remembered if the prototype screenshots never showed up, but I can say this much: the few, grainy Japanese images revealed that Monster Party was originally much darker, bloodier, visually complex, and more pop culturally-oriented than the already completely strange game we played when we were younger.

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ALONE IN COOPER DINING HALL
pissing on everything that isn’t ESRB rated
as I look for a table to brood
by the window
until I get to section ten or eleven,
I see this real sad guy reading Plato
and he’s stuffing his face with fried chicken
and loathing the existence of Socrates
over dinner with two dopey lackeys.
So my nose slips off my face,
my fingers start to stink,
and my heart might stop completely,
but what I’ve got is freedom
from that exhausted latin tyranny.
At home: I pull a textbook from my shelf,
a pink and blue one,
then another, and another, and realize that
each of these stupidly expensive tomes
are textbooks
for the kinetic and weak.
My essay: paraphrase Cliff Huxtable telling
his wife about
how the children fought him
for years because of
an unconscious desire to own the
house. Flashback a hundred
and twenty years to poor Nietzsche
reading the dialogues
and skimming over Euripides and
constantly wracking
his teen brain, gnashing his teeth over two
thousand year old land deeds.
What would a Deku Scrub give you
for that kind of real estate?
Which sitcom informs me of this?
Is it Three’s Company?

Anamanaguchi: Nostalgia as Religion

I’ve made plenty of remarks over the past few years about contemporary party culture and the Dionysian. The one Nietzsche talks about in The Birth of Tragedy, which he cites as everything abstract and subjective, mystical and of music. About how partying, drinking, drug use, raves – the modern orgia – and the general chaos of being young (or acting young) and being bad (or acting bad) is directly related to the ancient Greek rituals of Dionysius, the god of debauchery and license. By losing one’s self and merging with the collective spirit, one is able to transcend physicality and consciousness and possibly encounter something mystical. This is how the ancient Greeks saw it (and I guess Nietzsche and Wagner – I’ll get to them later), anyway, and I’m hard-pressed to disagree.

Last night, I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands, Anamanaguchi, in concert. It was pretty great. While the band played chiptuned guitars, a holographic montage of bad media and 90s computer graphics splayed behind and around the stage, a neon and aggressive altar. The crowd raged, pogoed, drank, crowd surfed, danced, and generally had a good time. At one point, a member of the band sent a prominent fluorescent neon light into the audience, which proceeded to be raised by the crowd, kids riding it, a modern horah.

For many of Anamanaguchi’s fans, the music is nostalgic. To claim that the band’s music is simply old video game nostalgia would be a disservice to the band and its music though. There’s many layers at work here. The NES inspired and powered music does not emulate what a video game sounds like, but instead incorporates that sound with elements of power pop, indie rock, surf rock, and new rave sounds. Visuals are also incorporated into the Anamanaguchi experience, from album covers to the band’s website, a hodgepodge of Lisa Frank colored social media and totally tumblr 90s computer art and design. Not to mention their music video for “Meow,” a hyperactive and visually stimulating homage to Saturday morning cartoon blocks, Chuck E. Cheese, Japanese culture, and growing up and being twenty-something in 2013. It’s like living in the internet and surviving off Pixy Stix, pizza, and sound waves. The visuals are in no way necessary to understanding and appreciating the music, but they do elevate the experience.

There was a moment during the concert where the audience began chanting the word pizza. It was at this moment that I noticed something mystical beginning to happen. I’ve been to plenty of concerts, from local synth rock gods Vice Grip, to the Rochester Philharmonic, to fucking Macklemore. One of my all time favorite concert experiences (this is pretty funny) was seeing post-hardcore pop punk Senses Fail in Syracuse not too long ago. The crowd was intense from years of listening to the band, everyone knew every word of every prom queen killing song, and there was a real high energy of eighth grade, 2004 nostalgia. Most people would probably disagree with me, but there’s certainly something religious about a hundred kids screaming “Just like the lady in the blue dress/you’ve got cigarettes on your breath/hair spray and some cheap perfume.” That kind of energy, no matter how goofy it might seem, shouldn’t be dismissed.

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On Deviantart, I favorite Wagner’s
Ring cycle, then Brahms messages me,
calling me a faggot and telling me to move back to
MySpace and to go cut myself.

On Wikipedia, I read about Wagner’s conversion to
Christianity, and I know I’m missing something,
but before I have a second to gather my thoughts
Nietzsche texts me and tells me to never call
him again.

On Craigslist, I respond to a personal ad for
violent fucking, I guess.
When I get there, it’s Wagner, dick erect and
menacing.