Elements of Life

"These are the elements of life/"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Space Quest returns!!!

Brace yourself for the announcement of the new millennium.  This is the news you've been waiting for since 2001 (well, actually, since 1999 :P )

...drum roll with horn fanfare...

The Two Guys From Andromeda (Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe), the creators of the Space Quest series from Sierra On-line, are back together and making another sci-fi comedy adventure game!

Their website: http://guysfromandromeda.com
Their Kickstarter: http://tgakick.com

They need your help to fund the game, over at Kickstarter...after only 1 day on Kickstarter there are already 1800 backers giving $90,000+.

Only $15 will get you the game and a bunch of bonus stuff.
Even better, they're making a port for LINUX!!! So it'll work natively on the good OSes like Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, and, most importantly, Commodore OS Vision.

Note that even though they are the creators of Roger Wilco and the Space Quest universe, they don't "own" the "rights" to those trademarks, which is pretty ridiculous (not their fault), so this game will be a SpaceVenture game.  I'm excited that it'll be something completely new, though.  It opens up the possibilities for which direction the game will take, as it's not automatically locked into a story about a janitor blundering his way into saving the universe.  If this game goes well enough (which it will) then they will look into restoring their right to make another Space Quest.

Some links of interest:

Their official podcast:
Episode 1 with The Two Guys From Andromeda
Episode 2 with Troels Pleimert
Episode 3 with Ken Allen

Roger Wilco's Virtual Broomcloset - click the link at the bottom of the page to enter the site.

Happy adventuring,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Groove Collective concert on ArtOnAir.org!

I found a mind-blowing (as always) concert by Groove Collective hidden away at ArtOnAir.org.  Check out the beautiful sounds!


They also have an interview with, and performance of Genji Siraisi (Groove Collective's drummer).


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Does Sirius/XM have a reason to exist? Not anymore!

The following is a comment I made on this post at the official Hearts of Space blog. I suggest you read the HOS post, for even if you don't listen to HOS, it's an interesting and revealing story. Pretty much, don't waste your money on crap services like satellite radio as programed by XM/Sirius, and instead use and support quality online services, many of which are free, created by passionate DJs and hosts.


Back in 2001, when XM came out, I was very impressed and excited. Around 2004, I finally had it via DirecTV, and fell in love with Beyond Jazz. I also appreciated the fact that Hearts of Space was carried, though I always listened to HOS via radio station KCHO. I no longer have DirecTV, and considered XM until I discovered that Sirius/XM no longer has the material I would be interested in, namely Beyond Jazz. Thankfully Beyond Jazz's Russ Davis now has an Internet stream similar to hos.com, at russdavismoja.com. No point supporting soulless corporations, when we can directly support the DJs and artists that we care about! Sirius/XM may very well fade away, not realizing they killed themselves by alienating the very people who would support the concept of niche programming.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Computer Chronicles and Chocolate Floppies

The greatest thing I discovered on the Internet in the last year, and quite possibly ever, occurred about six months ago when I discovered the classic PBS show The Computer Chronicles, and that almost 600 episodes from the show are online over at the Internet Archive. The show ran from ~1982 (the earliest archived show I've seen so far was from 1983) to 2002, when Stewart Cheifet, the host and producer, decided to take a break from this and his other show, Net Cafe. Plus, Leo Laporte's Screen Savers and Call for Help over on ZDTV / TechTV were possibly giving tough competition, but I don't see how, considering The Computer Chronicles was available to everyone on PBS, and was the gold standard for computer reporting.

This show is the absolute best! The hosts are charming; Stewart Cheifet, Gary Kildall (yes, the CP/M legend who founded Digital Research), Paul Schindler with the software review, Wendy Woods and others give the show a friendly and cozy ambiance despite actually being quite in-depth and even academic. Gary Kildall's gentleness and humility really shine through, as does his genius, and Paul Schindler's humor certainly makes me laugh.

The show is also very stylish, and gives you that good feeling inside that occurs when watching legendary PBS programs. One could say it's nostalgia, but I got that same feeling when watching Nova, Square One, Reading Rainbow, Newton's Apple, The Frugal Gourmet, and Nature back in the 80s, so I don't think that's quite it. It's just that it's very high-quality, and even epic. For example, both musical themes for the show, but especially the earlier one, are dramatic, and when the show starts with Stewart and Gary in the dark, only lit indirectly, the music booming, and then the lights come up, you know you're in for a treat!

The history contained in this show is priceless. Every time I watch an episode (which is at least one-per-day :) ) I am wowed by the incredible technology we already had in the 80s and 90s, and it makes me excited to try some of the devices or techniques they discuss, or sometimes I feel yearning for by-gone experiences and aspects of the computer culture, like the BBS community (yes, yes, I know, BBSes still exist through Telnet, but it's not like I can dial up some local number anymore). In fact, some of the software reviews and programmer interviews have led to me searching eBay and excitedly purchasing what I just witnessed on the show (especially regarding the 90s shows and CD-ROMs).

Except for a few early shows where the credits roll over an image of the darkened studio from a vantage point behind the video cameras (see? stylish!), the Computer Chronicles always ends with a news section, Random Access, and just like the rest of the show, these are always historically significant. It never fails that the news reader will mention some event that is still remembered today in computer lore!

My only beef with this show is: how could I have not known about it when I was young and it was on TV? Arg, grumble, harumph! I loved PBS and would watch it a lot; I can't believe I wouldn't eagerly look forward to this show every week. Maybe it wasn't carried in my market, but I doubt that. Goodness, I would've loved this show as a kid...thank heaven I discovered it now, though.

Well, while watching the 1985 Christmas guide, Wendy Woods pulled out a 5.25" chocolate floppy, and a year later, for 1986, she plugged a 3.5" floppy made by the same chocolatier (I'm pretty sure). Well, naturally this got me excitedly searching the net for chocolate computer devices, and while I couldn't find any floppies, I found something much, much better. Both 3.5" and EVEN 5.25" (yes!) chocolate/candy/soap molds! I purchased mine from Cybertrade's eBay store, though they have an amazon.com presence as well. They have a lot of new old-stock (or perhaps still in production) molds for computers and floppies and more. The coolest thing about these molds is that they're copyrighted 1984 and 1985...that's right, they're not merely retro and fad-like, they're truly vintage! I never new making chocolate would become one of my hobbies, but eating floppy chocolate has become my newest pastime.

Here is a great modern interview done with Stewart Cheifet in 2010 by the Retrobits Podcast:
Part One
Part Two


More AdLib music

In one of my past posts, I discuss AdLib Yamaha OPL FM-synthesized music, and in particular, the music from the game Alpha Waves aka Continuum. Well I found another nice selection of AdLib music here:


and behold, it has Frederic Mentzen's Continuum! These are mp3s, and I don't know if the audio files were made from actually recording a Sound Blaster or something, or if they're just emulated, but either way, it's a nice selection, plus if you go up to the parent directory, there are more types of computer music to choose from.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of "People People Music Music" by Groove Collective

Here is a review of PPMM by Groove Collective that I wrote for the KUCI website in 2007
(not exclusive content anymore, as it was never published)

Groove Collective – People People Music Music – Savoy Jazz Worldwide – 2006

Groove Collective brought us in 2006 their sixth studio album, the Grammy
nominated “People People Music Music”, released on the legendary Savoy
label, after a long wait since 2001's “It's All in Your Mind.” Groove
Collective was born out of the jam sessions between DJs, MCs, and live
musicians at the now classic Giant Step parties in New York City. The
musicians at these parties, funk players from Brooklyn and jazz players
from the Lower East Side, decided to form a group and thus conceived
Groove Collective. While best known as a hard-hitting acid-jazz band
from the mid-nineties, with a big horn section that could clobber you to
death, and music that exemplified not just the sound, but the
multifaceted culture of New York City, these last two studio recordings
have showcased a paired down Groove Collective. They are a band which
effectively uses their loss of members to other projects to their
advantage. This is heard in how “It's All in Your Mind” explores an
ethereal, other-worldly vibe, not possible with a huge 14 piece band, and
“People People Music Music” flaunts Groove Collective's ability to
perform straight-ahead jazz. In 2000, when members began to leave for
other projects, such as “Turntables on the Hudson” and solo jazz careers,
all that was left of Groove Collective were the core members of Genji
Siraisi on drums, Jonathan Maron on bass, Barney McAll on keyboards,
Chris Theberge on percussion, and the reduction of a five-piece horn
section to just Jay Rodriguez on saxophones and Richard Worth on flute.
This is the line up that recorded “It's All in Your Mind”. Then Richard
Worth left the band to pursue an existence far from the city, climbing
rocks out in the wilderness, but he was replaced by the return of Fabio
Morgera on trumpet. This is the line up that appears on “People People
Music Music”, and the trumpet/saxophone front-line is the perfect
catalyst for the most straight-ahead jazz-like album by Groove Collective
thus far.

On “People People Music Music”, Groove Collective perform Herbie
Hancock's “Speak Like a Child”, originally heard on Herbie's album, and on Jaco Pastorius' self-titled solo debut. Groove Collective approaches the song in a super-mellow manner, with thick Fender Rhodes chords, spiritual bells
jingling, and long, sizzling ride-cymbals. The horns come in soft yet
bold, and the whole song grooves like a 3AM after-concert jam-session in

A wonderful addition to the Groove Collective line-up is the legend Fred
Wesley on trombone who guests on a couple tracks. Most famous as the
band leader and trombonist for James Brown, and also as the horn arranger and trombonist for George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic groups, he
brings some super delicious licks to tracks such as “DFU”, an incredible
piece of Afro-Beat a la Fela Kuti.

The song “Tito”, obviously dedicated to Tito Puente, came out of a riff
that the band would sometimes spontaneously go into while performing one of their many other Latin-jazz tunes in concert. Here they have expanded
that theme into its own song, and featuring Jay Rodriguez, the sax
player, on vocals, they have recorded one of their best salsa tracks.
“Mambo Mongo” further shows GC's ability to spice things up, with their
version of the Mongo Santamaria song. Yet rather than a non-stop salsa,
Groove Collective explores the melody in a more cerebral way, and comes
up with some fine Latin-jazz with lots of changes, and an excellent flute
solo courtesy of Jay Rodriguez.

Of course Groove Collective wouldn't be Groove Collective without some
cutting edge funk, and that is heard very strongly in “Set Up”. In this
piece, Barney McAll and Jonathan Maron perform a super-heavy bass line in unison on an analog synth and a fuzzed-out bass, respectively. Genji
Siraisi goes all out with a broken beat drum pattern, and Jay Rodriguez
blasts us with bombastic baritone sax phrases.

“What If” features DJ Spinna on production, and while definitely having a
DJ Spinna vibe, it still is reminiscent of Groove Collective's classic
vocal anthem club hits, such as “Lift Off”, “Up All Night” or
“Whatchugot”. Unfortunately the lyrics are a little silly (the line
about technology), though they do contain a good, conscious message, and the delivery of the vocals is top-notch. Jonathon Maron's bubbling,
super-syncopated, octave-jumping bass line is incredible, and just
classic Groove Collective.

The standout track is “KOG”, the unofficial single that has been getting
heavy airplay on various jazz radio stations. Even though it is
propelled by Genji Siraisi's extremely syncopated, high speed, live
Drum-and-Bass drumming (a rhythm that was actually explored by jazz
drummers long before Jungle music), the song takes on a very mellow vibe. Barney McAll again soothes our ears with lush Fender Rhodes, and he
takes us on a sonic voyage with his Moog solo. The highlight of the
track is Fabio Morgera's trumpet solo, which is exploratory, and so pure
in tone.

Groove Collective tickled our desire for more of their amazing music
through many official live releases between 2001 and 2006, but the final
arrival of their latest studio recording has left us finally satiated.

The Hip-Hop Van

A friend of mine had "Where is the Love?" by BEP stuck in her head, so I looked up the video on YouTube and realized it was yet another hip-hop video with the group rolling around in a van! I decided to do a mini-compilation of all (3) hip-hop videos I know of where a van plays a prominent role, and discovered an even more interesting trend, that it seems a prerequisite to having a van in your video is to have the word 'Black' in your group's name.

So let's get started with a classic single from 1991 by Black Sheep, "Flavor of the Month". Be sure to blast this, because the beat is BANGIN'! True school realness right here, and I especially love the little dancing girl; she's so cool!

Moving on to the obvious choice, we have "Definition" by Blackstar. Best part of the video: when they get pulled over (was this staged or real?) and the officer asks "Are you deaf?" and Mos Def replies "No, he's Hi-Tek" lol

And now finally, of course Black Eyed Peas "Where is the Love?"

Please comment if you can think of any other hip-hop videos with the crew rolling around in a van! The older the better, as now I am on a quest to find the original van video! Which reminds me, didn't A Tribe Called Quest have a video with Ali Shaheed playing his turntables from the back of a moving truck? But that doesn't count; it needs to be a van. :)

P*ter Funk