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Instrumental Invasion, 9/16/20 September 17, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, TV, Video, Video Games.
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The September 16, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP is the 25th show overall. It was recorded over two days: the first hour on August 21 and the second on the 22nd.

The playlist was created on August 18 and annotated on the 19th, with additional annotations during each recording session.

I finished recording in the nick of time. After the last talk break, the landscaping crew for the two houses directly behind my bedroom began running their leaf blowers.

I had to work in “Working Girl March” by Dave Grusin from the Tootsie soundtrack, which I bought immediately after watching the film on Netflix a week before recording. The version on the soundtrack is not the cue used in the film.

The show intro was one of three talk breaks I scripted out in Notepad. Each had a lot of information to share and I didn’t want to get stuck.

The ends of the talk-ups for “Cruisin'” by Larry Carlton and “Hacienda” by the Jeff Lorber Fusion had to be remixed and precisely spliced over the original mixes. The first talk-up had a glitch between “not” and “Grusin.” The second required me to raise the gain on “this time” because it was too low to hear as I raised the music levels.

I didn’t mention it on the air, but the notes at the end of Larry’s solo on “Cruisin'” always remind me of the pause sound in Konami games for the NES:

Now, here’s the pause sound mixed with the end of the solo:

I noted that Jean-Luc Ponty performed “Tender Memories” on David Sanborn‘s Night Music around the time Storytelling was released. Here is that performance:

Click here to download the show 25 aircheck MP3 or listen below:

Instrumental Invasion, 9/2/20 September 3, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Film, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Video.
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The September 2, 2020, Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded two segments per day from August 5 to 7.

The playlist was created and annotated on August 4 with additional annotations during the recording sessions.

I had It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World on my mind as I played Gerald Albright‘s cover of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown. I had seen the film on Amazon Prime Video earlier in the week. I didn’t like it as much I thought I would. I was hoping for a happier ending. I eventually came to accept the way the film ended and appreciate the its historical significance.

The horn section in Bob James‘s interpretation of “We’re All Alone” by Boz Scaggs was too numerous to mention in my back-sell, but you can read the list here.

Click here to download the aircheck MP3 or listen below:

UPLINK by LI Retro recap August 21, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Film, History, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recaps: 2017, 2018, 2019

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, events have been canceled or postponed. The 2020 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo was no exception. In its place, the team behind the expo announced UPLINK by LI Retro, a convention held entirely online. They also announced that tickets for the 2020 LI Retro will be honored in 2021.

UPLINK ran August 8 and 9, the weekend intended for the expo. In the days leading up to it, I consulted the schedule to determine which panels I would attend remotely. Seven caught my eye.

Saturday, August 8
As UPLINK began, the cable remained out at my house, stemming from an outage that began around 7PM Wednesday, two hours before my radio show was to air. That meant until service was restored, I had to take part via 4G on my iPhone 11.

I only noticed one vendor in the exhibitor hall selling games and none that I was interested in. So, there won’t be any pickups at the end of the post.

Discord chat servers were set up on the right side of the main event page and on all panel pages.

My plan was to take notes during each panel and also take screencaps for private use and, if granted permission, a public blog post. (Obviously, I was permitted or you wouldn’t be reading this.)

The first panel I attended, at 10:30 AM, was Origins of the JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) with Jeremy Parish, co-host of the Retronauts podcast and host of the Video Works series, and Kurt Kalata of Hardcore Gaming 101:

The games discussed were:

Some of the above games were chronicled in a 2013 HG101 post.

Jeremy and Kurt concluded by answering questions from the chat and Twitter, discussing Kurt’s upcoming JRPG book, and opining on the Trials of Mana remake.

I screencapped the panel from the archive video once my cable service was restored.

My next panel wasn’t until 1:45 PM, which gave me time to retouch photo scans on my computer while listening to an episode of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast.

The 1:45 panel was a My Life in Gaming Q&A with channel creators Coury Carlson & Marc “Try4ce” (“Try” for short) Duddleson:

Minutes into the panel, the 4G service fell to one or two bars, making UPLINK impossible to watch live. I hoped to watch the panel archives once cable was restored, whenever that would be.

Having given up, I turned on my TV to watch a film on Blu-ray. A strange thing greeted me: a message on the top right corner of the screen. Those only come if there’s a Wi-Fi connection. I walked into the guest room to check the cable modem. There were three solid lights! Not one solid and one blinking! The cable was back! My UPLINK weekend was back on!

Here are the notes I compiled while watching the archive:

The panel is available to watch on the My Life in Gaming YouTube channel:

I had a pair of primetime panels, but first, dinner and shows on my DVR that I missed while the cable was out.

At 7PM, there was a roundtable discussion moderated by Dom Delledera of the It’s All Fun and Games YouTube channel, with Metal Jesus Rocks & Friends: Metal Jesus, a.k.a. Jason Lindsey, The Immortal John Hancock, John Riggs, and Kelsey Lewin:

Due to technical problems, Riggs was a few minutes late.

Dom is on the top left, John Hancock is top center, Jason is top right, Kelsey is on the bottom left, and John Riggs on the bottom right.

Metal Jesus and his friends are based in Washington State. Jason and Kelsey both live in the Seattle area, Riggs is in Yakima, and Hancock is based on Longview.

For this and subsequent panels in the recap, if a remark is not in quotation marks, it is not verbatim.

  • How has everyone been during the pandemic?
  • Kelsey noted how game prices were affected by the pandemic
  • Games that Jason and Riggs have been looking for
  • Jason has been buying PlayStation 3 games at various GameStop locations. He suggested collectors pick up games for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and Wii U.
  • Hancock is currently collecting retro computer games and pursuing Nintendo Switch games.
  • Riggs hasn’t been pursuing games due to the pandemic. His area is only at Phase 1. He’s fortunate to have an enormous backlog.
  • Kelsey and Jason have started cataloging more often.
  • Hancock went over his YouTube channel‘s recent videos, including The Many Ports of Joust, from Atari to Xbox.
  • Riggs talked about recent videos on his channel.
  • The conversation turned to preservation.
  • Jason is a fan of really bad movies, such as Chopping Mall.
  • All media has value, Jason said, whether it’s good or bad.
  • Every game is someone’s favorite game, said Riggs.
  • Hancock believes we need to consider obscurities.
  • The current generation of games is difficult to preserve.
  • Preserving mobile games: Jason preserved some of them on his iPhone 6
  • Hancock lamented that we’re moving from an ownership model to a service model, and that’s concerning.
  • Kelsey noted this has been a problem since the original Xbox.
  • It’s not just archiving games, Jason explained, but also servers.
  • Riggs bought NES games cheap during liquidation sales in the late 1990s. Examples: Bucky O’Hare for $4 and Contra Force for $6.
  • Hancock used to get lots of games in a flea market with only $20 to $40 on him. He’s still finding deals at flea markets: a PS3 controller for $3, a Move controller for $5.
  • Kelsey noted the economy of retro game collecting has changed so much in the last decade.
  • Ever had to spend more than you wanted? For Jason, it was SSI gold box games and Neverwinter Nights. Kelsey spent more than she’d have wanted on Mama Mitte, a pregnancy tracker for the Bandai WonderSwan: $3,200. John Hancock’s big purchase was Magical Chase for the TurboGrafx-16: about $2,000 on a payment plan. John Riggs found The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak for NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) from Chile for only $200.
  • The rarest game in Hancock’s collection that he never gets to talk about is the Microsoft BASIC programming cartridge for the Mattel Intellivision. Jason’s rarest game is a DS cartridge for horse race betting.
  • Kelsey asked if anyone had anything rare outside of games. Jason has CDs that there’s only one copy of, such as a demo tape at a Nevermore signing by an album producer who also produced Queen. Hancock is an all-in guy; just games. Riggs has old cereal boxes. And Kelsey collected Nintendo toys from before they made video games.
  • Hancock and Riggs listed the games that their children play. Riggs’s 12-year-old son, who is autistic (I’m also on the spectrum), loves Clubhouse Games for the Switch.
  • What plans do they have for their collections at end of their lives? Hancock has a non-profit formed and is working on a museum. He never intended to keep his collection. Kelsey’s collection is committed to the Video Game History Foundation, where she is a co-director. (More on that in the VGHF panel later in this post.) Riggs has been piecing out his collection, selling some games at conventions.
  • What have you given up looking for? John Hancock gave up Neo Geo AES carts, prototypes, signage, and kiosks. Jason’s through looking for arcade machines. For Kelsey, Bandai WonderSwan store displays and WonderSwan “booth babe” outfits. She does have an inflatable WonderSwan balloon. Riggs has given up on the Ultimate Journey NES prototype.
  • Jason hoped he’d find more 64DD development disks, after previously finding a 64DD, but no one came forward.
  • In closing, Dom asked if Jason had a hidden gem. He chose Skyrim VR. It’s not really a hidden gem, but it’s the first thing that came to mind.

Immediately after the MJR panel, I jumped to the Fireside Chat with David Murray, The 8-Bit Guy, moderated by George Portugal:

  • The Tech from Texas series (part 2)
  • New backyard workshop in backyard to be built over the next 3 to 4 months – will be able to work on projects more efficiently
  • David keeps retro hardware in his attic. There’s little room for it elsewhere in the house.
  • He won’t be moving his office into the workshop.
  • The DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) retro computer community – used to have regular quarterly meetings – everyone would bring something – active Facebook group
  • David doesn’t ask for donations anymore because he can just borrow a given item from the community.
  • The Commander X16 project is 99% complete. He hasn’t been involved much in current development. Everything is working on the board except for the video chip. If it were booting now, he would start the Kickstarter campaign. He needs a functioning prototype first. He expects the Kickstarter to launch in the fall. Some people could have an X16 by Christmas. Christian Simpson, a.k.a. Perifractic, is doing the manual.
  • David talked about his various series on manufacturers – Commodore, Tandy, Sinclair – and took future episode suggestions.
  • He reacted in agreement to my Discord chat post: “You can’t please everyone.”
  • The worst videos to make are the ones that never got finished.
  • David gave an update on the Commodore series DVD (or Blu-ray). He’s waiting to finish it with a video on the Amiga line. He doesn’t know much about it outside of the 500, and is communicating with experts for help.
  • He will also need help in scripting the TRS-80 series video.
  • Are there YouTube channels David enjoys or watches? There are two he subscribes to: LGR (Lazy Game Reviews), run by Clint Basinger, and Techmoan, run by Mat Taylor. He also watches Perifractic and electric car-related channels. He has heard of and talked to the Nostalgia Nerd. He’s seen Technology Connections videos, but hasn’t talked to Alec. He likely won’t meet Mat since he doesn’t travel or do conventions.
  • David keeps a running list, in spreadsheet form, of topics he wants to cover.
  • His favorite video is the history of the Commodore VIC-20, which was his first computer. He also likes the two-part VIC-20 restoration video (part 1, part 2), which each got over a million views.
  • Are you PC or Mac? David is both, but edits on a Mac.
  • He hardly has time for games unless it’s for the purpose of a video. When there is time, he’ll play StarCraft, Duke Nukem 3D, and his own game, Planet X3.
  • Will there be a Planet X4? David says maybe. He’s working on something similar that’s closer to SimCity and M.U.L.E.. Whatever the next game is, he wants it to work on all Commodore systems. He’ll code it on the PET.
  • David likes programming constraints.
  • He might be getting a THEVIC20 mini console to review.
  • He has no desire to port Planet X2 to Atari 8-bit computers.
  • David owns all the equipment to do a video on Family BASIC for Famicom, which was donated to him recently. He’ll need help, though.
  • His favorite Commodore 64 games are the Ultima series, Master of the Lamps, M.U.L.E., Ghostbusters, Action Biker, Spy vs. Spy, Maniac Mansion, and Zak McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders.
  • David went on Richard Garriott‘s property for the Austin episode of Tech from Texas, speaking to Richard about that earlier in the year. Richard was in France at the time, and would have come back, but when the pandemic struck, he stayed in France. Instead, David was shown around the property by former Origin Systems employee Scott Jones and former Portalarium employee Edward Vitralis.
  • David’s least favorite computer that he reviewed are the Advantech I.Q. Unlimited by V-Tech and the Timex Sinclair 1000. His least favorite that he restored was the Osborne (part 1, part 2, part 3).
  • His favorite current computer storage medium is SD card; retro is 3.5″ floppy.
  • Are UV lights the best approach to retrobriting vs. the sun? David still prefers to use the sun, if available because it’s much faster.
  • David’s wife and daugther don’t help much with videos. His wife was camera operator in Austin, and his daughter handled that in Houston.
  • He talked about his appearance in a recent Krazy Ken’s Tech Talk video. It was recorded last year, and he forgot he even said what he did in the video.
  • David lamented that he couldn’t come to Long Island this year. He had a speech planned on the demo scene, which would have been revamped from a previous speech at Portland Retro Gaming Expo (PRGE), which was also canceled this year. He doesn’t like the IMAX theater in the Cradle of Aviation Museum. You can’t see the audience when the lights are dimmed. The projection on the IMAX screen is curved. Everyone is up above.
  • Hopefully, in person next year.

That was the last of my Saturday panels. I finished watching a movie on Prime Video and went to sleep.

Sunday, August 9
My first panel of the day wasn’t until 12:15 PM. Of the three panels I planned on watching, two conflicted with each other. So, I opted to watch one live and the other later.

The 12:15 panel was the Retro Roundtable hosted by Bob Neal of RetroRGB (top left), with Ste Kulov (top center) and Nick Mueller (bottom center) of HD Retrovision, Zach Henson, a.k.a. Voultar (top right), and René Richard (bottom right) of dB Electronics:

  • René wore a mask initially.
  • Bob was the only one to wear a t-shirt that says “Bob& Zach& René& Nick& Ste.”
  • What everyone’s been up to?
  • Bob, Ste, and Nick’s lives haven’t changed much. Zach’s has due to Kentucky small business regulations and government mandates. He had issues with the shipping system. At one point in the pandemic, items weren’t arriving on time, but “things are much better now.”
  • René said there was one COVID case in his town. Schools were shut down, and he worked from home for two months. René was eventually allowed back to his office, but with a mask, and he had to wash his hands after entering and before exiting. He quit Twitter about a year ago. René’s house got flooded, and he had to tear out the drywall. He hadn’t worked in the last few months, nor had he played any games during the post-flood restoration. He started playing games again two weeks ago.
  • Bob talked about the Sony BVM D32.
  • The last game Bob beat was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch. He has been using the PlayStation 2 version of OutRun 2006 to test other games. It’s a really fun racing game, he said.
  • Ste learned how to machine aluminum, had a problem with a U.S.-based supplier – Nick clarified it was over Dreamcast cables – and he played Final Fantasy VII Remake.
  • Nick said it took three months to ship cables to a distributor in Switzerland via USPS.
  • Bob lamented his shipping woes.
  • The last game Zach played was also Link’s Awakening. Like Bob, he can look beyond the subtle frame rate issues.
  • Zach and Ste rented server space, at $9 a month, for games they love to play, such as Battlefield 2142. They soon hope to invite friends and viewers to play in the server. Ste noted it’s running now via OpenSpy. Zach said all Doom games are on the server.
  • Bob asked if you can up the frame rate on older PC games. Zach said yes. A game’s vertical refresh rate will sync to the refresh rate of your monitor.
  • There was talk of two PlayStation ODEs (optical disc emulators): CybDyn’s PSIO and the upcoming xStation by Robert Neumann. (Zach posted a video on the xStation the day before.) ODE loading speeds were compared to loading speeds on disc.
  • They talked about the MiSTer FPGA (field-programmable gate array).
  • René listed the flash carts he has.
  • Krikzz’s Mega EverDrive PRO vs. Terraonion’s Mega SD, two carts that can play Sega CD games and Virtua Racing for Genesis
  • The subject turned to personal non-retro projects: René built his own amplifier, which he showed off. It’s a 4-channel tube amp that he made back in about 2008. Unfortunately, there’s a pop sound when switching between high and low gain.
  • The issue of repro (reproduction cart) sellers was debated.
  • Zach promoted his cartridge patching and translation service.
  • Bob joked about a “guitar-off.” René’s been practicing guitar, improving his skill for the first time since 2012.
  • Bob went over his recording process.
  • The panel talked about the Analogue Pocket. Zach said their marketing is “disingenuously brilliant.” They praised Kevin Horton, a.k.a. Kevtris, who worked on previous Analogue consoles.
  • Zach plugged an upcoming video on Analogue.
  • What are their thoughts on mini consoles? Bob thinks they’re best for a nostalgia fix; Zach said they’re a fun novelty.
  • The panel universally praised 8BitDo products, then showed off controllers from 8BitDo, Krikzz, and Retro-Bit.
  • Ste and Nick gave an update on HD Retrovision.
  • There was a plug for the upcoming MLiG/John Linneman panel.

The Video Game History Foundation panel at 2PM was the one I chose not to watch live. I watched on Wednesday, taking the most comprehensive notes out of any panel I watched.

This panel was moderated by Jeremy Parish, co-host of the Retronauts podcast and host of the Video Works series, who I saw on Saturday morning in Origins of the JRPG. His guests where VGHF founder and co-director Frank Cifaldi and co-director Kelsey Lewin, who I saw in the Metal Jesus roundtable on Saturday night.

  • Jeremy first thought of doing a VGHF update during last year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. He would have had a panel at the GDC (Game Developers Conference) in the spring, but “the whole world got sick.” (The GDC was rescheduled to a few days before UPLINK was also held virtually.) Jeremy was “glad that we can finally make it happen” at UPLINK.
  • Jeremy spoke to Frank, Steve Lin and Mike Mica about their starting VGHF three years ago during California Extreme.
  • Frank got into video game history through the video game industry, starting in the late ’90s as a video game journalist. His first entry to preserving video games was seeking out cartridge-based console games that weren’t yet preserved digitally. He was inspired by The Film Foundation, applying that line of thinking to video games. He started a website called Lost Levels, the first to focus on unreleased games. He talked to game developers. He worked Gamasutra and 1UP. Frank is also in game development, working for Digital Eclipse on their game compilations. He was the producer/director of the Mega Man Legacy Collection and SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. He also worked on Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection. The Video Game History Foundation is the culmination of Frank’s preservation on the side. “‘That guy Frank’ should be more than me,” he said.
  • Kelsey started collecting and playing old games a decade ago. She was working at a retro video game store, Pink Gorilla Games, which she now owns with her husband Cody Spencer. She enjoyed researching old games and reaching out to developers. Like Frank, Kelsey was a frustrated historian. She discovered VGHF shortly about a month after their 2017 launch.
  • Frank noted that Kelsey pitched the idea of being a public relations representative for the foundation, but he declined. She didn’t go away, though, and started sending him things, showed up to all the meetings, helped organize museum displays at PRGE. Kelsey did a project for Game Informer, organizing volunteers to help digitize a collection of press kits, slides, press releases, and more. She did it for all five weeks. Kelsey’s a co-director because “she’s the real deal and she proved her worth by far.”
  • Jeremy’s Video Works series was inspired by Chrontendo.
  • Jeremy lamented the problem with being a completionist is always thinking there’s more to do. (I can attest to that.)
  • Frank: “The research is never done.”
  • Frank stumbled across the Video Game Update/Computer Entertainer newsletter and has most of the set scanned. It’s a great resource for Jeremy, proving “you can’t believe everything Nintendo says about its own library.” The newsletter was the only outlet that consistently covered console games from 1985 to 1988 when video game magazines came back or launched. In Frank’s words: “This is the only English-language review of Super Mario Bros. from when it came out. This is it.”
  • Frank’s passion isn’t completing video games; it’s completing information. He admitted he gets upset if missing an issue of a video game magazine.
  • VGHF’s focus isn’t on the games, but the context.
  • Kelsey’s WonderSwan pregnancy tracker, Mama Mitte, caught the attention of Tanita, who manufactured it. (They also manufactured the scale I’ve had since 1999.)
  • Kelsey said there are still things in Japan that are not well-documented, such as retail releases. She claimed we’re 99% done here, but there are still some holes in Japan.
  • Frank talked about archiving Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?, a mainline Carmen Sandiego game that became extremely rare. He interviewed teachers who worked on it and managed to archive a clean copy of the game (unsaved disks) and a game box.
  • Frank is trying to blanket cover English-language print media and assets that the media had.
  • Frank said a majority of video games were made by companies that no longer exist.
  • Speaking of the Nintendo Gigaleak, Jeremy said it showed there’s actually a company that obsessively preserved all the content about a game: betas, development documents, in-house messaging. That doesn’t happen often in Japan. Regardless, the way the leak came out was unfortunate.
  • Frank believes collecting game development source material is the best way to study a game. You have access to its source, and can tweak and rebuild it.
  • Frank said source code should be donated to libraries. The code is something that lives in a place where an historian can access it, study it, and start piecing together a narrative.
  • The thing that drives Jeremy is telling stories and piecing them together: how a game compares to what else was on the market, what it owes to other creations. The more information that VGHF can put out, the easier it becomes to tell those stories, to go beyond review of a game and piece together a timeline of video game history. As someone of his age, who can remember the time of the NES launch (he was 10, at the time), he can fill in gaps from his experience. You need as much raw material to work with as you can.
  • Kelsey noted you get little info from a game itself. One magazine doesn’t paint the entire story. She analogized handing someone Pokémon Red and thinking that’s the entire story, ignoring three to four years of PokéMania, as chronicled in a TIME cover story. (Here’s the cover.) You don’t get that from just handing someone a copy of game.
  • Frank helped on an EarthBound documentary with VGHF resources. He noticed patterns: almost every reviewer thought the graphics were objectively bad. “8-bit” came up a lot. The game was compared to Chrono Trigger. Reviewers were in a 3D reality at the time. Jeremy added that American console gamers didn’t have nostalgia for RPGs back then. Frank concluded there was no scenario where better marketing would have saved EarthBound.
  • Projecting the thoughts of the reviewers, Jeremy quipped: “[Battle Arena] Toshinden looks so much better than EarthBound. I bet it’s a much better game. It’s gonna be a timeless classic that people are still talking about in 20 years, and EarthBound, no one’s gonna remember that.”
  • How has the VGHF mission has evolved in three years?
  • In the early days, Frank envisioned the foundation as a vetted, digital repository of information. There’s a lot of work to be done to get there, though. The foundation still doesn’t have good intake system. The biggest change since founding is recognizing things only they can do and what others can do. They will use resources to go out and seek things like video game source code from developers that trust them. They will not turn source material into gossip. Most resources are spent communicating, building bridges and organizing as opposed to actual archival work. Kelsey said it’s a matter of resources and dealing with volatile media. They’re currently focused on advocacy, building a premise of a world where people can study video games more easily. She talked to someone who came into Pink Gorilla that worked in the video game industry. The person had old builds that he considered “microwav[ing],” wondering “who’s gonna care about this game?” Kelsey concluded, “we don’t get to decide what becomes historically important later.”
  • Jeremy has found through hunting down Japanese game developers that worked on classic games 30 years ago that “people are often a very poor judge of the merit of their own work.” Some overvalue their work, others work for hire. It never occurs to them that the games mean something to people on the other side of the planet who will want to learn more about them. He continued you have to get over the barrier of humility, establish a sense of trust. It’s hard to get across, but essential if you can.
  • Frank recalled how in 2017, VGHF published an article breaking down Disney’s Aladdin on Sega Genesis: how it was made, the tools that was used, the animation process, and cut content. It was a very respectful long article. Thanks to the article, Disney and Digital Eclipse made Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King. They used source code from the archives to make a new version of the Genesis Aladdin game that’s on the compilation. Speaking of advocacy, Frank said “if we’re able to demonstrate our vision in a respectable way, … we start working with companies and archiving this stuff more often.”
  • What would you most like to accomplish five years from now? Speaking “for both of us,” Kelsey replied getting the source code initiative off the ground. There are legal hurdles. They don’t have legal precedent for putting source code online unless it’s open source. The first step is to be able to have that accessible in the library.
  • Before formalizing VGHF, Frank visited the Library of Congress’s film archives, which is also where video game archives are. He spent time with librarians who run that, and came to understand the function they serve. LOC has master film reels; companies get prints for remasters. “This should exist for video games.” He wants it to become commonplace where source code is accessible to people, especially abandoned source code. It should be normal, in the archives of any kind, and accessible to people.
  • Kelsey said it’s great to have original art and development documents archived in a way that’s accessible to people.
  • Frank lamented that no video game publisher can justify any labor for allowing access. Time is money. It doesn’t make sense for a for-profit company. Jeremy added that profit motivation is the biggest challenge to preserving video game history. Games that are safe bets are republished constantly – such as Super Mario World – while esoteric games are in rights limbo.
  • How does the foundation’s work apply to MMOs (massively multiplayer online games)? Frank said they can’t do anything about that right now, but on the bright side, companies have gotten significantly better about archiving their material. They’ve figured out how to have secondary market for their product with HD remasters. Kelsey said there’s no way to make an MMO feel the same way it did when it was active, even if you’ve saved everything. What’s useful to historians is many video experiences, oral histories, and blog posts. Frank’s wife is currently playing World of Warcraft Classic, which is not the same as the original. He said people are playing it in a different way.
  • “You can only go so far with anecdotal commentaries,” Jeremy said. “Having the hard copy there as proof is invaluable.”
  • Someone in the chat asked about getting involved in VGHF. Kelsey said there will soon be a need for people who understand library systems, like cataloging and sorting things. The website is going through remodeling. Reach out to VGHF on Twitter. Frank acknowledged the Patreon page with Discord access. “Hang out with historians like us,” he pitched, adding that “it’s nice to have this tight-knit group that we can have conversations with so that we’re not feeling like we’re on our own with this stuff, and you could help us solve problems that way.”

The last of the magnificent seven panels was at 2:15 PM Sunday: a second My Life in Gaming panel, this time with John Linneman of Digital Foundry:

  • This was John’s first U.S. convention appearance. He’s an American expatriate based in Germany, and previously France.
  • The main topic for the panel was gaming technology.
  • October marks seven years since MLiG debuted.
  • John joined Digital Foundry in 2013, as well.
  • Frame rate graphs
  • Video creation process
  • Preferring retro games to modern games
  • Coury praised John’s wealth of knowledge.
  • John said he can look at a game and immediately know how it’ll play.
  • John pretends he’s giving an E3 demo when capturing modern games. Try called it a “cinematic approach.”
  • Gaming technology originated for Coury with Quake II with its Voodoo graphics accelerator by 3dfx Interactive. He didn’t think much about it again until seeing John’s videos, as did Try.
  • SLI (scan-line interleave)
  • The evolution of John’s videos
  • What started John down the gaming tech path was seeing the Daytona USA arcade game in 1994.
  • Try’s entry was F-Zero X on Nintendo 64.
  • Try lamented that people will fight over frame rate, saying 60 FPS (frames per second) retro games are impossible. Coury said that’s likely due to early 30 FPS YouTube videos.
  • John is a self-taught video editor. Coury and Try come from video editing backgrounds.
  • John’s first video in 2015 took a long time to put together
  • John and Try exchanged profundities: John’s pearl was “nobody will ever see the video you didn’t make,” while Try recalled his grandfather’s words of wisdom: “good enough never is.”
  • The trio went over their video editing techniques.
  • Try believes editing more fun when you’re providing each other material. He also used the term “G-roll,” which G to the Next Level liked in the chat.
  • John said “it’s more fun to work with a group now, when it’s possible.”
  • What’s the toughest part about making a video? For Coury, it’s writing. Try is better at that, saying he enjoys it, though he said he gets wordy at times. Coury leans more into editing, which is toughest for Try. The toughest part for John is stress. He feels a sense of accomplishment after finishing a video’s introduction. Then, the writing becomes easier. He writes in chunks.
  • Coury has been experimenting with writing outlines, taking bullet points (like the ones in this post) and turning them into paragraphs.
  • John uses Notepad.
  • Try writes notes so he doesn’t forget.
  • John on editing: “What could look cool here?”
  • Try: Slider shots
  • Coury: Comparison shots
  • Coury cautioned that “you don’t want to repeat shot ideas from episode to episode.”
  • John is proud of the intro to his Analogue Super Nt video.
  • Try is proud of the Play It Loud intro to the MLiG Super Nt video, with its low frame rate, Play It Loud music, and Kevtris soundbites.
  • Coury: Hands-on feel
  • They spoke of the Analog Frontiers series (part 1, part 2).
  • Try’s dog Sandy made a couple of cameos in the panel.
  • John’s PC gameplay capture was used by Try in a video via PC monitor.
  • Why does John say “Mega Drive” instead of “Genesis“? He loves the name, and has more Japanese Mega Drive games than Genesis games.
  • Try believes the PC Engine scene is bigger than TurboGrafx-16 scene. That means there’s more interest in the PC Engine than for its North American counterpart, which released two years after Japan.
  • What were their first experiences seeing RGB on a PVM? John’s came circa 2004. Coury’s first experience was seeing Dreamcast in composite on a CRT. For Try, it was S-Video in college in 2002 and then RGB explanations on Hazard-City.
  • Voiceover techniques
  • Capture techniques
  • Storyboarding and animation
  • John: “I just envision it in my head.”
  • Coury suggests that if you get stuck, step away and try again the next day.
  • Two of Try’s creative locations are in the shower and on the toilet.
  • John is most proud of the video he did on the making of Onrush. He filmed it all in a day and edited over three days. It’s not the best, but he’s proud nonetheless. It didn’t get many views because the game didn’t get much attention.
  • What are your dream documentary subjects? Coury’s is Working Designs. Try would like to profile the original Final Fantasy staff, including creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. John’s dream subject is the original creators of the Sega Saturn. He’d like to understand the entire process, from initial thought to release, and its legacy.
  • What’s the most powerful mini console? John said the Capcom Home Arcade. For hacking purposes, Try went with the PlayStation Classic. Coury’s choice was the Super NES Classic Edition.
  • What videos would they like to do over or differently? Try would like to redo most older videos. The voiceover has improved so much over the years. He would redo the Myst series video. He wouldn’t have written his opinions into the script or use first- or second-person terms.
  • Has John gotten pushback from a company? Once. Most are happy. On his Redout video, he made a small error regarding the Xbox One X version. He received threats. (A retest video followed.)
  • John tries to be positive and documentary-like in videos, helping people understand things. He’s not a raging critic, referring to “angry videos,” though he can’t fault them.
  • They all prefer the OSSC to the Framemeister.
  • They think of Bob Neal when referring to bob deinterlacing.
  • There was a question in the chat about Analog Frontiers with Saturday’s information reiterated. New to this panel was Try considering a spinoff called Analog Frontiers Gaiden. John offered to do a Gaiden video about The CRT Wizard in Germany (referenced in this tweet). Try also noted Artemio Urbina and Tim Worthington will appear briefly in part 5. (Artemio previously appeared in part 2.)
  • They all prefer open world over simulation in contemporary games.
  • Try believes the generic AAA game formula has become tiresome.
  • What’s your favorite modern game? John was torn between Sonic Mania and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. Coury’s favorite is also Monster Boy. Try’s is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch.
  • Thanks to everybody who hung out and watched.
  • John said it was good to see G To the Next Level in the chat. He feels like he’s competing with him on Genesis videos. (Here’s one such video.)
  • Thanks to John for staying up late, as it was 10PM local time.

The panel ran 45 minutes over its intended 3:15 end time. Like the Saturday panel, this one is available to watch on the MLiG YouTube channel:

I don’t think I’ve ever taken this many notes for a blog post. It was a worthwhile endeavor to archive the discussions I witnessed. I hope to be back at the Cradle of Aviation Museum next August to take many photos of panels and exhibits, meet and greet the panelists, and pickup retro games from vendors. Stay safe and healthy, and thank you for reading.

Audiobooking 5 April 1, 2020

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Commentary, Film, History, Media, Military, News, Personal, Politics, TV, Video.
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In light of my practically apolitical audiobook streak since I impulsively quit the “Audiobooking” series, save for the right end of the spectrum, I chose to bring it back. Here’s what I’ve been listening to while exercising since September 2018:

2018 humbled me with the unexpected political turns in the memoirs I listened to, not to mention Kevin Hart’s endless tangents. It taught me to choose the audiobooks I buy carefully. If the author is politically active from the left on social media, chances are it will come up in their book. Eric Idle was the last mistake in that respect, which is why I haven’t bought John Cleese’s memoir. Thankfully, Neil Ross only had one political sentence in his book: deriding right-to-work states. I wonder what Goldie Hawn’s memoir, released in 2005, would have been like if it came out today. Never Play Dead and The United States of Trump weren’t exactly choir music, either. The books reminded me of the political stories I missed while avoiding current events. Nevertheless, they were worth listening to, as were the rest of the audiobooks listed above.

Whenever Andrea Barber mentioned her son Tate in Full Circle, I thought of a running gag on the Game Sack YouTube channel involving TATE Mode, the vertical screen orientation for arcade games. It’s generally pronounced “tah-tay,” but host Joe Redifer pronounces it phonetically, an acceptable alternate pronunciation. Whenever a game is featured with TATE Mode, he’ll get facetiously hyperbolic.

I have three more audiobooks to listen to in my Audible app after I finish Full Circle, and you’ll see what those were in the next “Audiobooking” post. Until then, happy listening.

Audiobooking 4.5 September 22, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Film, Music, News, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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After I wrote my previous post, I decided to at least list the audiobooks that didn’t let me down.

Rather than wait until December and recall all I’d listened to in the past year, I made a Microsoft Word document in January, adding to the document after completing each audiobook. Putting aside Carrie Keagan and Joely Fisher, here’s what I chronicled in that document:

  • My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart (read by Elizabeth) – This was an intense book. I felt Elizabeth’s pain during her nine-month abduction. I understood just how sick and deranged Brian David Mitchell was. I cheered at the point when the police found her and apprehended Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.
  • Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin – Steve recalls his youth and entire stand-up career, which he ceased in 1981. He has occasionally returned to stand-up since, including for a Netflix special with Martin Short.
  • Leonard: My Fifty-Year Relationship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner with David Fisher (read by Bill) – William Shatner details his 50-year relationship with Leonard Nimoy, along with their lives prior to meeting. Shatner briefly detailed Nimoy’s left-wing political activism, but it’s in the past and didn’t sting as much as Carrie Keagan’s contemporary politics in the previous audiobook. It was interesting to listen to. Shatner’s read sounded extemporaneous rather than scripted.
  • Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon – In this memoir that bears the same name as her platinum 1978 album (minus the “A Memoir” part), Carly Simon focuses mostly on the first 40 years of her life. It starts with the dysfunctional upbringing, moves on to touring and recording as The Simon Sisters with her sister Lucy, details her early hits, and chronicles her marriage to James Taylor from its fairy tale beginning to its bitter end.
  • Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil Collins – This is a complete autobiography, from birth to publication in 2016. There was a passing positive reference to Harvey Weinstein, anachronistic considering what’s been reported since this book came out.

If you’d like to know what I’m listening to after this post, ask me.

Audiobooking 4 December 12, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Country, Film, Game Shows, History, Internet, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Technology, Theatre, TV.
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Here is a list of all the audiobooks I’ve listened to in the 51 weeks since my previous “audiobooking” post:

These audiobooks got me through workouts, bedtime, long walks, and boredom.

In the case of Ron Perlman’s book, I found out after the “Legacy” chapter that Ron is politically active on social media. But I digress.

While I was obsessed with Game Show Network (now GSN) in the early 2000s, I saw plenty of Bill Anderson on Goodson-Todman game shows like Match Game and Password Plus. So, it was nice to be reacquainted with him and introduced to his music.

When you read a book, you don’t hear the tone and inflection that the author had in mind. Listening to Shelly Peiken read Confessions of a Serial Songwriter put what her words I read 16 months earlier into perspective.

Next year’s post will be #5, but will not mark five years of regularly listening to audiobooks. That milestone comes in a year and a half. In the meantime, I hope I’ve inspired you to give the above audiobooks a chance. Happy listening.

A day at two museums and one park July 21, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Education, Film, History, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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One day last July, my friend Lori Downing and I toured the Fire Island Lighthouse. On Wednesday, our destination was Corona, Queens, to tour a pair of museums. Our first stop was the Louis Armstrong House Museum on 107th Street, followed by the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. In between, we walked through the park to see two relics from the 1964 New York World’s Fair: the abandoned New York State Pavilion, and the Unisphere. That part of this post includes home movies my grandfather shot at the fair, as well as recollections from my aunt Randy and Hank Neimark.

It took an hour and a half to get to our first stop due to heavy traffic on the Long Island Expressway (I-495) and Grand Central Parkway, and limited parking spots near the house. We parked a block away on 108th Street.

It would be 20 minutes until the next tour, so we walked through the garden…

…and looked at the pre-tour exhibits:

Photography was not allowed during the tour, but was allowed everywhere else.

I’m familiar with “What a Wonderful World,” but not enough to know it was recorded in 1967. That means this year marks its 50th anniversary:

The gift shop at the entrance:

The tour began just after noon. Our guide was Elaine, a museum docent that lives only 12 blocks away. She brought us back to the exhibit room for a short introductory DVD. It was then that I learned his name is pronounced phonetically, as in “Lewis,” not “Louie.” After the DVD, Elaine guided us to the house.

Everything in the house is nearly as it was when Louis’s wife Lucille died in 1983, 12 years after his passing. Even the doorbell, which Elaine rang before we walked in, was original.

After walking in, Elaine guided us to the living room, which included portraits of Louis and Lucille, lavish furnishings, and a Spinet piano (which he didn’t play).

Louis and I have something in common: home speech recordings. His medium was reel-to-reel tape; my media were cassette and microcassette. When I was younger, I would record myself, either talking about what I’d been up to recently, interviewing family members, or co-hosting a “radio show” with my cousin Chris. That last one was also recorded on video. While we were in the den, Elaine played a few examples of Louis’s speech recordings. As we learned later in the tour, he also recorded singing and trumpet improvisation from home.

The next stop was the downstairs bathroom with bathtub. The wall and ceiling were all mirrors. After that, it was on to the dining room, which led into the kitchen. Floral wallpaper adorned the walls and part of the ceiling. The cabinets and dishwasher were blue while the counter, sink, and dual oven (with six gas burners) was white. A can opener was built into the wall along with a compartment with paper towels, foil, and plastic wrap. Adjacent to the kitchen was a smaller dining room, which served as Louis and Lucille’s bedroom while Lucille’s mother lived with them and stayed in their bedroom.

The tour headed upstairs where the aforementioned bedroom and recording room were located. The bedroom had a double-size bed with drawers on either side, paintings of scenery hanging on the walls, Mylar wallpaper, a lamp, and a chandelier. The Mylar wallpaper carried into the spacious bathroom and closet. The recording room had reel-to-reel tape decks, amps, a record player, radio, shelves of records and tapes, a desk, and a portrait of Louis painted by his friend Tony Bennett. Bennett signed it with his real surname: Benedetto. Actually, the tapes and records are housed at Queens College, but will move to the Education Center that is going to be constructed across the street from Louis’s house.

That concluded the tour. I didn’t list everything that Lori and I saw and were told by Elaine, but I feel I’ve shared enough. I highly recommend taking the tour. Plan your visit here.

When we got back outside, Elaine suggested we pose with Louis’s cutout. She said it was necessary to gesture as he did:

Lori suggested taking one with Elaine:

In the gift shop, I bought a sticker, pin, picture postcards, and a DVD of an American Masters documentary from 1989: Satchmo: The Life of Louis Armstrong. Some of the interviews were filmed in the living room.

Before we left, I signed the guest book:

Lori and I walked back to her car and we drove to the Queens Museum at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

As I noted at the top, we walked through the park first. On our way to the Unisphere, I got a great view of the New York State Pavilion:

The Unisphere:

Lori walked toward the fountains, but I stayed behind; I didn’t want to get wet:

A different angle:

A closer look at the New York State Pavilion:

I even caught a quick glimpse inside the pavilion right before the gates were closed:

They were open because New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio toured the interior earlier in the afternoon.

Lori was fortunate enough to attend the 1964 New York World’s Fair, as did my grandparents, parents, and my parents’ siblings. My maternal grandfather, Arthur Rose, brought his movie camera to the fair and captured what he saw. The film, along with all of his home movies, was transferred to VHS 30 years ago. Six years ago, I transferred the VHS tapes to an external hard drive and then to DVDs.

Here is what my grandfather captured:

I also posted the film to Facebook, which garnered nothing but positive feedback and memories. My aunt Randy Stephen (née Rose), who was in the film, had this to say:

That was really wonderful, Mike (although I can just imagine how many times grandma must have yelled at grandpa for his camera work 😝)! I do remember going to the World’s Fair a few times, although I was only 6 or 7 at the time. The kid going crazy in the beginning must have been Bruce Goldberger, since I saw his mom, Ann, in the movie, as well. They were our neighbors in [the] Colony Park [section of Freeport].

Hank Neimark – a fellow alumnus of LIU Post and its radio station, WCWP – was there, too:

Michael Kosmin (Charter WCWP-FM guy) and I, claiming that we were doing radio reports on the ’64 World’s Fair, managed to get rides on the Goodyear Blimp. We contacted Goodyear PR, got permission over the phone, and with Nagra in hand headed out to the now abandoned Flushing airport. Of course we weren’t on the air yet, butcha know…. What a thrill. Over Manhattan, over the bridges, and over the Fair. We hitched on to the blimp twice.

Thank you to Hank and Aunt Randy for your stories.

Before heading into the Queens Museum, I heard a plane flying overhead – likely approaching nearby LaGuardia Airport – and quickly photographed it:

Founded in 1972, the Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, a pavilion built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and used again for the 1964 fair. In between the fairs, it was the home of the United Nations General Assembly for the U.N.’s first few years of existence. (Sources: Building History | Queens Museum, Queens Museum Wikipedia entry)

Lori and I looked at a few exhibits in the museum, starting with another relic of the 1964 World’s Fair: the Panorama of the City of New York:

I had to sharpen the pictures below since they came out blurry.

I didn’t have to sharpen these:

World’s Fair Visible Storage:

This houses memorabilia from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.

Nine: 2017 Queens Museum Studio Program Exhibition:

Our second museum trip concluded with the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass:

After I bought a book of World’s Fair postcards in the gift shop, Lori and I returned to the car and she drove me home. There was heavy traffic going back, too, so it took another hour and a half to get home. The traffic gave us plenty of time to talk and listen to the jazz CDs I brought with me.

I had a wonderful time at the museums and in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Thanks again, Lori. Until next year.

Seven weeks of Netflix April 29, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Comedy, Film, Internet, Music, Personal, Technology, TV, Video.
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In a post last month, I noted that I ran out of things to watch on Netflix and, in addition to playing video games, began watching YouTube channels instead. Less than a day after I wrote that post, I discovered things to watch on Netflix again. I started with a few movie classics that I had never seen. First up was Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. That was followed by a pair of Rob Reiner films: This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride, both of which featured Christopher Guest and Billy Crystal. From there, I moved on to a few music documentaries:

I went back to YouTube for a couple of days, but then I took a big step. Actually, a giant leap is more like it. I decided to watch all 278* episodes of Cheers, followed by all 264* episodes of Frasier, its spin-off. “Let the journey begin,” I told myself on the afternoon of March 12 as I loaded the pilot episode of Cheers. What followed was textbook binge-watching. It took only 20 days to watch all 11 seasons of Cheers. It took 17 days to watch every season of Frasier, which also ran 11 seasons. The last day I watched Cheers and the first day I watched Frasier overlapped, making for a combined 36 days of 542* episodes. The journey was worth it.

* – Multi-part episodes are split up.

With the two long-running series out of the way, I spent the next two days watching four stand-up specials: two by Dave Chappelle, one by Jo Koy, and one cinematic release by Kevin Hart. After that, there were four documentaries:

After a few days of DVDs and Blu-rays, I returned to Netflix to watch the third season of Dawn of the Croods, one of many Dreamworks animated series made for Netflix. Unfortunately, the season ended on a cliffhanger. Yes, Cheers and Frasier had cliffhangers, but seasons weren’t released to Netflix months apart. Within seconds of watching a cliffhanger finale, you could move on to the next season’s premiere.

All that remained for me to watch were two movies: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, which I watched a few times on VHS when I was 12, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I don’t recall every seeing.

Now, the well has run dry again, but I expect there to be a handful of movies and documentaries to watch in May. Until then, back to YouTube.

Audiobooking 3 December 23, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Film, History, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Pets, Politics, Radio, Sports, Technology, Theatre, TV, Video.
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Here is a list of the audiobooks I’ve listened to on Audible in the 13 months since my previous “audiobooking” post:

* – Left-wing viewpoint occasionally expressed

As I noted in my previous post, these books get me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom, but mostly the first two. As long as there are audiobooks read by my favorite public figures, I will continue to listen on Audible and chronicle those books on this site. Until next time…

Audiobooking 2: Listen Up! November 12, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Basketball, Blu-ray, Christmas, Comedy, Commentary, DVD, Film, News, Personal, Politics, Sports, TV, Video.
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Early last December, I listed all the audiobooks I had listened to while working out between June and the day I wrote the post. I said “there [would] be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead.” This follow-up post will list those books, all of which I listened to on Audible.

Since my misadventure with Dick Cavett’s left-leaning book collection of New York Times blog posts, I’ve only listened to apolitical or right-leaning audiobooks.

From last December to now, here is what has guided me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom:

I have many more audiobooks I plan on listening to between now and the next post, whenever that will come. Just today, I started Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes’ book on Jack Kemp. It’s called Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America. After that, I’ll move on to the another Rush Revere book: Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner. Then, a series of autobiographies should keep me occupied through the summer. Until next time…