“Guitar Hero” Meets “South Park”

Stan and Kyle from “South Park” playing “Guitar Hero” in front of their friends

The latest videogame to get featured on South Park — and lampooned a little to boot — is Guitar Hero, in an episode (in)appropriately titled Guitar Queer-o. The episode guide has this brief summary:

Stan and Kyle are hooked on Guitar Hero. But Stan’s superior skills on the video game damage his friendship with Kyle.

Here’s a quick snippet from the opening act, in which Stan and Kyle play Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son, one of the songs featured on Guitar Hero II:

Can’t see the video? Click here.

When Randy saw the kids playing Guitar Hero and tried to impress them by actually playing Carry On Wayward Son on a real guitar and singing as well, only to be told “that’s gay, Mr. Marsh”. Not only does the real guitar fail to win the kids over, but later that night, Randy finds out that real guitar-playing skill does not translate into Guitar Hero skill. The bit where Thad, the professional backup player, played Guitar Hero without a console — “acoustically” — was a laugh-out-loud moment. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just simply say that the “real vs. virtual” and “rock star” themes get pushed farther, to hilarious results.

Randy, in his underwear, tries out “Guitar Hero”.

The episode aired last night and won’t air here in Canada for a few more weeks, but it doesn’t matter — the entire episode is online at South Park Zone.


Nerd Culture Tidbits

I’m working on an article (working title: Walled Garden…or BEER Garden?), so here’s something to keep you amused in the meantime…

My Obsessions, Circa 1980

Gaggle of Hooters waitresses posing behind an old-school Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper.
Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

The “Star Wars Trumpet” Video

Well, I can’t make a reference to Battlestar Galactica (the 80’s version) without making one to Star Wars, can I? How ’bout the video that’s making the rounds right now — this so-bad-it’s-good performance of the Star Wars theme on trumpet for the “talent” portion of an old beauty pageant?

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Remind me to tell you folks about my worst on-stage music performance ever sometime.

The description of the video on its YouTube page is as follows:

I work in TV Sports, this tape has circulated amongst our tape rooms for years, I figured it was only natural to be on YouTube. I’m of the understanding it was a statewide beauty pagaent, and Stacy is Miss Douglas County. I have no idea who she is, or if she even knew there was a talent portion of the contest.

It’s believed that the tape has origins in the Kansas City area, and I thought it was a Nebraska beauty pageant.

Obligatory Star Trek Gag

Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.


The Album Art for Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”

You’ve probably heard of Radiohead’s latest album, In Rainbows. They’re bypassing the record industry, and you can buy it directly from them, either as an audio CD or as downloaded MP3s. For those of you who have downloaded or ripped the album, here’s the album art for your enhanced listening enjoyment!*

Alternate cover art for Radiohead’s album, “In Rainbows”
Image courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

* May not be the actual album art.


“This is How You Treat Your Customers”

Sign for “Hell” with icicles hanging from it.

A refrain we use quite often here at Global Nerdy is that Microsoft’s consumer offerings make you feel as though you’re dining from the table scraps from the dumpsters of the customers they really love: corporate drones running Office, Exchange and SQL Server. However, there are a couple of bright spots in their more recent consumer items:

This move isn’t just uncharacteristic of Microsoft, but in light of the recent Appledickery — that is, Apple’s war against its own fans — it’s downright inspired:

Twenty years ago, the portable music player of the time — the Walkman — could only be a Walkman since it was a single-purpose hardware whose sole task was to play cassette tapes. That era’s video players, cellular phones and handheld electronic games also faced the same mechanical limitation — each device could only perform its intended task. Under the hood, each of these device types was quite different.

These days, there isn’t much that separates music players, video players, phones and handheld electronic games. While the user interfaces are different, they’re all just general-purpose computers that vary in processing power and memory. This fact is not lost on the vendors, but many are hoping that consumers are still stuck on the mechanical-era “upgrade treadmill” mindset. Apple seems to be thinking this way, but Microsoft apparently isn’t. Kudos to Microsoft for treating their early adopters properly.


“Rock Band” Hits the Shelves on Black Friday

Screenshot from the upcoming game “Rock Band”
Screenshot from Rock Band. Click to see the screenshot on its original page at full size (it’s huge).

“Rock Band” logoLet me get the tiny bit of disappointment that I have with the upcoming game Rock Band out of the way first: What? No keyboards? They’re the most computer-ready interface devices to make! You suck.

That little gripe aside, I’m looking forward to Rock Band, the next step in the evolution of the Guitar Hero game. While Guitar Hero let one player at a time “play guitar” and Guitar Hero II let a single player “play” either guitar or bass, Rock Band offers, Rock Band lets up to four people play simultaneously, each one taking the role of guitarist, bassist, drummer or lead vocalist. As you can see from the screenshot above, gameplay looks like a hybrid of Guitar Hero for the instrument roles and Karaoke Revolution for the vocalist role.

Joystiq has just published the news on Rock Band’s release date and price. Rock Band for the XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3 will hit the shelves in the U.S. on Friday, November 23rd, with the PlayStation 2 version following on December 10th. November 23rd is “Black Friday” — for our non-American readers, this is the Friday of the American Thanksgiving long weekend. Being the last holiday before Christmas, it’s the biggest shopping day of the year and a day which puts a lot of stores “in the black”, hence the name. Shopping malls in the U.S. open ridiculously early on that day (we’re talking hours before sunrise) and the crowds are insane. Occasionally fights break out; perhaps the makers of Rock Band want shoppers to have the full rock concert experience — the Woodstock 1999 experience, that is.

The full Rock Band bundle will sell for the following consoles:

  • XBox 360: $170
  • PlayStation 3: $170
  • PlayStation 2: $160

The bundle will include:

  • The game itself (regular price $60 for the XBox 360 and PS 3, $50 for the PS2)
  • Guitar controller (reg. $60, but wired on Xbox 360, wireless is separate and $80)
  • Drum controller (reg. $80, wired)
  • Microphone (reg. $30, wired)

According to Wikipedia, the following songs have been announced for the game:

  • “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” – Jet
  • “Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden
  • “Blitzkrieg Bop” – Ramones
  • “Brainpower” – Freezepop
  • “Celebrity Skin” – Hole
  • “Cherub Rock” – Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Creep” – Radiohead
  • “Dani California” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • “Detroit Rock City” – Kiss
  • “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Öyster Cult
  • “Enter Sandman” – Metallica
  • “Epic” – Faith No More
  • “Gimme Shelter” – Rolling Stones
  • “Go with the Flow” – Queens of the Stone Age
  • “The Hand That Feeds” – Nine Inch Nails
  • “Here It Goes Again” – OK Go
  • “Highway Star” – Deep Purple
  • “I Think I’m Paranoid” – Garbage
  • “In Bloom” – Nirvana
  • “Learn to Fly” – Foo Fighters
  • “Main Offender” – The Hives
  • “Maps” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • “Mississippi Queen” – Mountain
  • “Orange Crush” – R.E.M.
  • “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
  • “Reptilia” – The Strokes
  • “Sabotage” – Beastie Boys
  • “Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer
  • “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – The Clash
  • “Suffragette City” – David Bowie
  • “Tom Sawyer” – Rush
  • “Vasoline” – Stone Temple Pilots
  • “Wanted Dead or Alive” – Bon Jovi
  • “Wave of Mutilation” – Pixies
  • “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – The Who

I think this is a pretty good collection of songs; a number of them are either in my accordion repertoire or were on the set lists of bands with whom I played keyboards.

Most of the tunes listed will use the original master tracks. I suspect that the game will use the bowlderized lyrics for Radiohead’s Creep (“You’re so very special” rather than “You’re so fucking special”), and I hope that Don’t Fear the Reaper has a special “cowbell” mode. I also think that The Perfect Drug might’ve been a better Nine Inch Nails tune, even if only to give the drummer a challenge (there’s a killer drum solo near the end of the song).

The inclusion of a tune by Boston-based synthpop band Freezepop seems a little odd — they’d fit better in a game that offered keyboard controllers. This may be a prank by a Wikipedia contributor.


Don’t Forget: Furries vs. Klingons Tomorrow!

Small version of the “Furries vs. Klingons” posterWell, tomorrow’s the big night — the second annual bowling tournament where Atlanta-area Furries take on Atlanta-area Klingons takes place at Midtown Bowl (1936 Piedmont Cir NE, Atlanta, Georgia). A hearty Qa’pla! and Meow! to all who are attending!

Someone set up a poll at Poll Boutique where you can vote for your favourite team. As of this writing, the Furries and Klingons are dead even, each with 50% of the vote.

In honour of this weekend’s event, I would like to share the most appropriate music in my collection for this event: the ever-lovin’
Star Trek Fight Music [1.8MB MP3]. Enjoy!


Is it Illegal to Make My Own Ringtones from Music I Bought? (No. Mostly.)

Wrist mobile phone displaying an image of Joey “Accordion Guy” deVilla playing the accordion.

That’s the answer, courtesy of an Engadget interview with Apple VP Phil Schiller. Strangely enough, some thanks goes to those enemies of fair use, the RIAA:

Well, the RIAA wanted to be able to distribute ringtones of its artists without having to pay them big money to do so (surprised?), and it won a decision last year before the Copyright Office saying that ringtones weren’t “derivative works,” meaning they didn’t infringe on the copyright of the songwriter. It’s a little more complicated than that, but essentially, if the RIAA hadn’t won, ringtones would cost even more, since no one would be able to make them without a license from the songwriter.

Everything has a catch, and ringtones are no exception:

  • If you’re making a ringtone from an MP3 file that you’ve ripped from a CD you’ve purchased, you’re in the clear. Just don’t sell or distribute it.
  • If you’re making a ringtone from a file you purchased from the iTunes Music Store, you’re breaking the law! Here’s Engadget’s explanation:

    Judging from the fact that the iTMS EULA prohibits the use of downloaded files as ringtones, we’d say it’s more than likely because Apple’s contracts with the various labels represented in the iTMS specifically forbid it. We haven’t seen them, but we’d bet that ringtones — and the licenses for using songs as ringtones — have their own lengthy section in Apple’s contracts, and that Apple isn’t allowed to sell files for use as ringtones without coughing up more dough. Steve has said as much, after all. Otherwise the selection would include more than just the 500,000 songs you can get right now.

While we at Global Nerdy stress that you should obey all local laws, who’s going to know if that ringtone you made came from a ripped CD or an iTunes purchased tune?