Friday, January 27, 2017

Ep. 52: Scooch a Skosh

Guess what, patrons? Since Emily doesn't know how to take a proper vacation, she, Josh, and of course HAJU, are already back to bring you a brand new episode! And speaking of new, this episode is absolutely packed with first-time submitters. Give them a high-five and wish them well as they travel through the backlogs of VGMJB space-time. Other discussion topics include bubble and squeak, the uncanny valley, Emily's closet, defiant language, and Josh's friend Paul. Hurry up and reclaim your favorite spot at the bar -- it's time to get back in the groove with us!

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This episode was made possible by:
Game Track Title Composer(s)
Sonic 3 Ice Cap Zone Act 1 Michael Jackson, Brad Buxer, C. Cirocco Jones, Bobby Brooks, Darryl Ross, Geoff Grace, Doug Grigsby III
Deflektor Title Ben Daglish
Monopoly Park Place Unknown
Katamari Damacy You Are Smart Akitaka Tohyama
Tales of Symphonia Like a Glint of Light/Tethe'alla Battle Theme Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura,
Takeshi Arai
Animal Crossing Title Kazumi Totaka, Kenta Nagata, Toru Minegishi, Shinobu Tanaka

...and listeners like YOU.

Extra Credit: The Knife-Only Resident Evil 3 World Record Speedrun (he sings!!)


  1. Yes! My track got played!

    This is actually the second one I've suggested, but I think the first one got missed because I sent it in during the hiatus.

    Good news, Emily and Josh. You pronounced my name correctly . I was going for a play on the common nickname for Chicago but also the name of the enemy from Super Mario Bros. 2.

    Also, to clarify, at one point (I don't recall which episode it was) Josh had said that he doesn't like it when people say things like, "You should watch/read/listen to this movie/book/song" because then it becomes about that person's expectations for the individual they're recommending it to.

    1. Hey Chi Guy!

      Your track is still in our archive, safe and sound. We don't necessarily play tracks in the order they're received, and sometimes they're played well after their original suggestion date. So worry not -- your tunes are safe with us, awaiting the day they get called forth!

  2. Josh, you jest, but March 25 is Feast of the Annunciation [by Gabriel to the Theotokos(literally "God birth-giver" i.e. The Virgin Mary)], where we Orthodox Christians celebrate the conception of Christ. As you can see, it falls exactly 9 months before Christmas(and yes, we all know Christ wasn't actually born on 25 December, but we have to celebrate it sometime).

    Emily, kudos for getting Orthodox Christmas right; or at least within two days. The reason some Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas late is because they never adopted the Gregorian calendar, citing it as it western innovation. Since the adoption of Gregorian calendar, the Julian calendar has gradually fallen 14 days behind. Emily, you're a true East-Coaster; most people here on the west coast don't have enough experience with Eastern Europeans to know what Orthodox Christianity is.

    Ahh, Chick Trax(tracts). I read some of those as a kid. It wasn't that the guy was a BAD illustrator per se… He was mimicking the underground Comix of the 70s to make them edgy. Emily's palpable uncomfortableness at Josh's mention of Chick Trax was funny and sad, and probably similar to how everybody reacts to those things except the people who create them and hand them out.

    From your conversation that followed the exhortation for us to send you tracks that we have re-appropriated, I realized an interesting point: Every track from VGMJB and the other VGM podcasts is re-appropriated. They are no longer background pieces to punctuate a video game playing experience, they are now my primary music choice, thus in a sense a soundtrack to my life.

    They serve as the occasional background noise to my job as an electrician. They are a soundtrack to my commute. They are with me when I am engaged in yard work, and when I am waiting for the doctor. They used to accompany me on the treadmill or jogging, when I had time for that sort of thing. And they also filled my playroom/TV/stereo room with happiness, especially when my children would take to spontaneous dance at the more boisterous selections. I say "took", because this ceased when my kids' continued obsession with throwing of hard objects(footballs, plastic models of subatomic particles and yes, cans of vegetables) broke the family 64" plasma and prompted me to put my much-loved speakers into storage.

    Speaking specifically, my current re-appropriated VGM playlist consists entirely of the Time Trax and Sword of Vermilion soundtracks. Honestly, those are both so good, I could listen to them indefinitely. I'm also making significant progress on a VGM karaoke to a Sword of Vermilion track.

    Bruce Irons' Mad Gear testimonial is just about the greatest thing I've ever heard. I first heard his voice in Rob F. Switch's barber shop, when Rob played me an audio cassette of the Mad Gear album(Rob recently broke his leg in 4 places, if you hadn't heard). A few weeks later, I heard it again when he guest-starred on Pixeltunes. To now hear him on VGMJB....what a treat! That voice reminds me of the main character in Kung Fury, but I just realized he also sounds a lot like the narrator in the original Resident Evil intro for the PS.

    1. "Every track from VGMJB and the other VGM podcasts is re-appropriated. They are no longer background pieces to punctuate a video game playing experience, they are now my primary music choice, thus in a sense a soundtrack to my life."

      Wow. I love this observation.

  3. Speaking of the Monopoly track and the way it moved Emily and not Josh, I think Emily may be like me in that I am usually moved by the emotional content of music more than its intellectual content. By this I mean I prefer an infectious beat to sophisticated percussion(eg always John Bonham to Neil Peart), a heavy or powerful bass line, and I will usually choose emotionally sophisticated chords instead of a technically sophisticated melody. Brett Weinbach has led me to appreciate and enjoy elevator music, but I will always prefer Tom Follin and Yuzo Koshiro to Iku Mizutani and Mari Yamaguchi. That's not to say I like simple music; melodramatic chords such as those used in pop or techno mostly bore me.

    I think the uncanny valley is a concept best expressed with visuals, since music is only sometimes representational, and elicits emotions in a much more universal sense than abstract art(with exceptions). A simple chord can evoke a specific emotion in most people. There is no corollary with abstract visual expression.

    Even so, the idea of the uncanny valley is really the lip of the bell curve of representationalism. The whole reason the uncanny valley exists is because our minds naturally look for meaning and relationship in abstract patterns, and as the patterns become less abstract, there is less room for us to inject our own personalities.

    I want to again refer you to Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, an incredible work. He illustrates how easy it is for us to see faces in things like power outlets and clouds. This is often why some of the most engaging comics intentionally opt for less realistic-looking characters; there's more space for the reader to inject their own personalities into them, thus finding more to identify with.

    Your proposed exit lines are great! They remind me a lot of Mr. Rogers' exit line, which may be my favorite ever. Also, kudos to all the new Patrons! Here's to many more track suggestions!

    1. Chi Guy here (just going to go ahead and post from my real account from now on).

      I think the comment about the uncanny valley effect was not really meant about the compositional value of the music, but the way the sounds of the instruments are replicated. A square wave can be made to replicate the sound of a trumpet, for example, but because it has such low fidelity, we understand what it is and we are okay with it. But a trumpet sample played through a SNES may come closer to sounding like a real trumpet (higher fidelity), but that closeness still makes us uncomfortable to hear it, because being off by even a little bit makes it off by a lot. And I would say this is true regardless of what the actual music is.

    2. Chi Guy, are you going to tell us how to pronounce your alias, or are you going to let us live with the tension of unknowing? :-)

      You make a good point about the uncanny valley. I was thinking about how the brain tends to be more associative when processing sound, a fact media creators exploit with Sound design. I heard recently that in the modern movie, an average 30% of the visuals may be synthesized (i.e. computer-generated), but 70% of the sound is completely fabricated in post.

      But I think your point still stands. The closer a sound gets to its real life counterpart, the less our brains are inclined to fill in the gaps.

      It also depends where we are on the timeline to accuracy. Back in the day, I mostly felt the SNES had better sound than the Genesis, specifically because of its ability to create "realistic" orchestra sounds like strings and trumpets. It took me years to appreciate Castlevania Bloodlines, because it came after Super Castlevania IV, which had beautiful sounding strings, brass, and woodwinds. Compared to that, Bloodlines just sounded primitive.

      Now that both machines are considered archaic, I can truly appreciate both for what they are. It's interesting, because I play all this music to my kids, and they can't tell the difference between one system and the other. They all sound artificial to them, but they just appreciate the compositions and sounds on their own merits.

    3. Maybe I'll write in with a track suggestion to clarify the pronunciation of my name for everyone to hear!

  4. .....Oh, and I'm pretty sure that your present reaction to RE:3's graphic violence is from desensitization....although if the exploding heads were people and not zombies, maybe you'd feel differently.

    I kind of lost interest in gaming and tv for a lot of years(early 2000's until a few years ago), and I'm pretty horrified by how much more graphic games and TV are, and how callous and apathetic folks' responses can be. This goes for gratuitous sexual content as well. I'm guessing the violence trend has a lot to do with games, and the sex trend has a lot to do with the ubiquity of internet porn. But I'm just an anachronism, so what do I know?

  5. Welcome newcomers! Please run screaming as Nathan Daniels administers wet towel snaps to initiate you into our gang. After that, we can all scooch a skosh and make room for all you new VGM lovers.

    A few comments:
    Sonic 3, Ice Cap Zone: Classic. One of the greats from a series with many greats.

    Deflektor: That cow bell!

    Monopoly, Park Place: Is Solid Snake listening to the show now? That audio testimonial was so video game! Also, I loved all the talk about uncanny valley music. This is such a great analogy. I feel like the relatively new genre of vaporwave sits pretty comfortably in the uncanny valley of music that's sounds like fake music, by being a pitched down and surreal version of 80s/90s elevator tunes. Example:

    Katamari Damacy: always a winner

    Tales of Symphonia: Hey, it's another racketboy transfer! Hi alienjesus! I really dig Matoi Sakuraba's long line of work. His early stuff is particularly interesting to me, like Zan Gear on the Game Gear or Arcus Odyssey for Genesis/Mega Drive. He has a kind of morose seriousness in a lot of his works that combines with a musical complexity that really appeals to me.

    Animal Crossing: I imagine this song being played by Linus with Lucy laying down with her head at the edge of his piano. This has such a light jazzy feel like all the classic Peanuts music.

    1. If you want more Bruce Irons, put your drums on the rest of his band, The Mad Gear, and join the gang:



  6. This episode title makes me so happy.

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