Poetry in Harmony for the Common Listener – The Crisis by Ennio Morricone

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To the untrained ear, masterful compositions can seem to be the result of darts thrown at a dartboard with musical passages as targets. Although many would agree that music is especially moving to its listeners, articulating exactly why that is can be difficult. Of course, lyrics are relatable. But if you stop and think for a second, is it really the lyrics that give you chills? Are lyrics what make you want to get up and dance or, on the contrary, sit down and sink into a tank of introspection? The power of music is spoken not through lyrics, but through harmonies that subliminally manipulate the human soul.

A crisis can be defined as a point in time noted for its immense danger and lack of a clear resolution. Such is the reason why there is no better title for Ennio Morricone’s The Crisis. The crisis in question can be heard within the first seconds of audio, and it relentlessly exists throughout the entire composition, even serving as the closing statement. Upon the first listening, we might wonder why it is that such a harsh occurrence is allowed to be so prevalent. What the listener experiences, though, is the result of two key notes in music fighting for dominance. The dissonance (a combination of tones considered to be unresolved or uncompleted) is centered on what defines a song as in a major key or minor key – major keys typically being associated with satisfaction and minor keys typically being associated with unrest. The two notes being struck simultaneously represent the crushing, overwhelming combination of satisfaction and unrest. The two emotional states compete – as do the two notes – each having a tendency to resolve to the other but also to stubbornly stand ground, ultimately resulting in a most fatal stalemate.

When The Crisis begins, the dissonance is faint and almost unperceivable (0:02), similar to the human tendency to deny the presence of unrest within general satisfaction. As the dissonance becomes more noticeable, the underlying melodic line continues with little interruption (0:37 onward); life can continue in the face of emotional compromise. Eventually, though, even foundations are interrupted. As we further approach the climax of The Crisis, the music begins to suffer side effects of the ongoing battle. Time slightly shifts, but the melody persists and breaks free! (1:36-1:47) This is a crisis, though, and such success is not allowed to exist for more than a short while. The battle returns with fading energy (1:54 onward), and it eventually slows to the acceptance of its inevitable fate (2:36). The crisis remains unresolved, and we are tactfully left without a resolution.

Classic Video Game Tournament Round #2

Who Would Win In a Brawl?!

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Poor Man’s Gamer Presents: The Early Access Situation

As of lately there are two topics that I desperately want to talk about.  The first is the console war; it’s reached a new level of excess and purposelessness.  The second thing I wish to talk about is the recent outspokenness against Steam’s Early Access model by numerous web critics.  As it stands I’m in the middle of working on a lengthier podcast detailing the console war and my thoughts on it, so instead I’m going to spend this week talking about the Early Access system and its criticism.

Steam has always been under a fair deal of criticism, a good deal of which stems from the way that Steam chooses which games to put up on their marketplace.  For a long time this meant that to be featured on Steam meant that you were in business with a larger publisher or you had done something to catch Valve’s interest.  In August 2012 Steam made a step towards remedying this problem with the unveiling of Greenlight, a way for the community to pick which games they would like to see on Steam.  This initially proved to be a great way to allow smaller developers to get marketed on Steam.  I feel like this is a pretty good program, though it does have its faults.  The main fault I see with a program like this is that the community for as smart and tasteful it is, does have a good deal of people who are not and because of this every now and again the community will vote for a game too terrible to be true.  Forgive me for I digress…

A year later Steam revealed yet another program, one to promote games that had not yet been finished, games that still required a certain amount of development to reach completion.  These are Steam’s Early Access Games.  The Early Access system follows, almost to the letter, the Minecraft business model by releasing a game in alpha or beta and allowing people access to it throughout its development by releasing the occasional update to the game, adding features and improving the game’s functionality (something which has served Minecraft very well, but which I’ve had numerous problems with).  When Early Access first appeared it showcased a small group of games that were all fairly well put together with most of their features intact and working.  When this happened there was a lot of hope for Early Access, what it meant, and what it could become.  The developers of these games were fairly devoted to getting community input and keeping the community informed on the states of their games and what updates had to offer.  All the meanwhile, the community was more than happy to help fund the developers throughout the development process.  Those were the glory days, back when Early Access was young and pure.  Sadly this is no longer the case.

In recent months Early Access has been flooded with countless games, games that have remained largely in an unfinished and unplayable state.  It’s a travesty what has happened.  The whole Early Access system came out of an incident involving a game I’ve spoken of before called Towns, which was released on Steam in an unfinished state, which angered a large number of consumers, leading to major problems for Steam.  The main criticism of the whole incident was that Steam had allowed a game onto the marketplace that was in no way playable on any small, diminished level.  The first few games on Early Access were released in states that warranted their “full finished prices.”  Few of the newer games can claim the same.  These games are charging full price for unfinished and nearly unplayable experiences.  It is becoming more and more acceptable to put out a game that is unfinished with the guarantee and promise to put out free updates that will eventually add up to a finished product.  You would not buy a plate of spaghetti under the agreement that you would initially get the uncooked noodles and that the next time you came into the restaurant they would be boiled and covered in tomato sauce, so why do we allow this to happen in games.  There was a time, not so long ago when games were only released once they were completed.  When you looked at a game you looked at it as a finished product with only a very low chance of ever changing.  Nowadays the same cannot be said.  There is no proper way to review an Early Access game.  What you might say about an unfinished game may not be true the next week due to an update of some sort.  Now in the past I have reviewed a single Early Access game, Starbound, and I had nothing but good things to say about it and its potential, but it may be said that most of the things I had to say about it were about its potential and not really the game itself.  As it stands I am going to make a vow to that I will not review any other Early Access game, to do so I would undoubtedly have to review one of the many Early Access games deemed by me as unfinished and unplayable, and doing so I might propagate the idea that such games are sought after by consumers, which is not the case.

As consumers we have the right to certain liberties and respect when it comes to the games we are buying.  Steam and a large number of game developers have been abusing these common dignities by marketing poor Early Access games (I use the qualifier poor, because as it stands there is a handful of Early Access games that remain perfectly worth their costs and extremely fun and decent).  As it stands there seems to be no sign that this behavior will stop on the part of Steam or of the developers until it is shown to them by the community that they expect a certain quality in all of their games, and will not allow trash to be marketed to them.

Now I am in no way sure of the best way to go about this.  As a community we cannot boycott every Early Access game, to do so what inadvertently hurt games that have true potential and content worthy of backing it up.  Yet at the same time it seems like the best way to deliver a message to both Steam and the game developers I’ve been speaking of, would be through sales numbers and the like.  So I really have no idea which way to go, the community must find a fair and just way to deal with these offenses, to speak out their opinions.  In doing so Steam may decide to act in a way that progresses the benefit of the consumer much as they have done in the past with the addition of the Greenlight system and the initial Early Access system.

Now let me apologize for the nature and emotion of this post.  As it stands I feel inclined to do the gaming community a service in detailing events and occurrences such as this.  Diverging from my normally upbeat posts should not be expected, I plan to return very soon to my usual, happier demeanor and showcase to you games worthy of your time and attention.  Just know that at the end of every day what I do in this post, I do for you.

Thrifty Travels

My name is Cora Davis and I am addicted to thrift shopping. There is nothing quite like looking good for less money. Leaving a thrift store with a good find releases endorphins…Okay so I don’t know how true that is. I just know that finding cute clothes that don’t leave me broke feels pretty darn good.

For a while I just stuck to thrifting back home in El Paso or here in Denton. It never really occurred to me to try stopping by a thrift store while I was out of town. Before I left for school, I took a trip to Alpine,Texas to visit a friend at Sul Ross University. She wanted to go show me a few thrift stores and I discovered it is a thrifty heaven!

The people are there even sweeter than the deals I found. Moral of the story: EXPLORE! If you go on a trip try their thrift stores. Every place has something different to offer because different people are donating to each location. Don’t be afraid to stray away from common places like Goodwill and Savers. I found some pretty cool items from places I never would have visited if my friend hadn’t shared these treasure chests with me.

My Favorite Purchases from Alpine

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This cutie is from Big Bend Thrift Store. It came as an outfit with a matching over top.I would never wear the suit together but I saw potential in the pieces separately. The set was $6 total. At first glance the pattern and length were enticing but I wasn’t too sure about the shape. The dress doesn’t have the best hanger appeal. Try not to be afraid of things that look shapeless on the hanger. Every time I see an item that I’m drawn too but not certain about, I try it on. Although it was not expensive it’s still money you’re spending so make sure you like the fit. If the place doesn’t have a dressing room use your imagination as far as items in your own closet you could use to make it work. For example, a belt from your own closet could take a dress from frumpy to dannnnng girl you look good!

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I styled the dress with a black belt, and sandals from my own closet. It’s perfect for a Sunday at church with the girls. If I had judged the dress soley on it’s hanger appeal I would have left a super cute dress behind in the store that day.

This shirt was perfect for that summer to fall transition and is still perfect now that it’s cold. It was only $1.50!

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I paired the top with my favorite light blue high waisted shorts from Forever 21. Now that it’s cold I pair it with a cream colored knitted infinity scarf, dark washed jeans, and brown boots. Cute, Comfy, and Cheap? The three C’s that keep my wallet in check.

Last but certainly not least, I found a black and gold necklace and blue and yellow pattered earrings each for $1.50.

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Interested in stopping by?

Big Bend Thrift Store:

104 W Avenue

Alpine, TX 79830‎

(432) 837-5599

Deja Vu:

611 East Avenue E

North Phelps St.Alpine, TX

79830(432) 837-1522

The Sandbox – The Maturation of the Gamer

Lawncraft: The Embarassingly Single Player Offline RPG.

As a new contributing blogger to GeekOn, I’m not entirely sure if I’m old enough to be the grizzled veteran of the bunch, but going to go ahead, unilaterally seize dramatic license, and tell you that I am.

Entering my 30s, I became aware of a growing disconnect between who I thought I was and who I am actually becoming.  Like everyone who has come before me and like everyone who will come after, there’s this one shining moment where you wake up in Adult Land and wonder how the heck you got there.

What happened to the days of going to concerts and staying out way too late?  Who swiped that and replaced it with 9:30 bedtimes and an embarrassing interest in business seminars?  Since when do I have lengthy conversations about watering the foundation of my house and forget to yawn?  How do I know more about 401ks than the drink specials in whatever needlessly hip spot kids are frequenting these days?  Somehow, my plan to remain young and cool forever had gone terribly awry. 

Though, truth be told, “cool” is probably not meant the way most would understand it.

And you, sweet gamer, likely know exactly what I mean.

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Make It So: Geeks and Arts and Crafts (A Link Round-Up)

Today’s edition of Make It So, the geek-crafting feature here at the GeeKon Record, is not the usual tutorial, but rather a collection of links to all things geeky, artsy, and crafty that I love right now.

Katie Smith's Comic Book Pendant Tutorial
Katie Smith's DIY Touchscreen Gloves Tutorial

Both of the above tutorials come from Katie Smith’s blog, Punk Projects, where she frequently posts crafty DIYs with a geek twist. I especially love those comic book pendants and her easy, inexpensive answer to having to use your touch screen smart phone in cold weather.

A sample of Nan Lawson's work

Now, if you’re not particularly talented at art yourself but still want to had some geeky flair to your home, head over to Nan Lawson’s Etsy shop, where you can buy prints of her lovely art featuring everything from Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones to The Royal Tenenbaums and The Smiths.

Melissa Stinson's Star Wars scrapbook layout

Okay, this one might reach a smaller audience. But as a scrapbooker myself, I admire the work of Melissa Stinson and follow her blog, Scrappy Jedi, religiously. As you might have guessed from the title of her blog, Melissa is a self-proclaimed geek and often scrapbooks her geek adventures. This R2 spread, which includes photos from her trip to Star Wars Celebration VI, is just one example of her geeky work. (In addition to posting her pages on her blog, she also has a weekly round-up feature called Geek Girl that I think a lot of you would be interested in!)

Emily Dismukes's Star Trek T-shirt DIY

And here’s one last tutorial, which is one that I did and posted on my personal blog, Oh! Emily Made That over the summer. I love making t-shirts for special events and this one was for the premiere of Star Trek: Into Darkness. Take a look at the instructions for using fabric paint and a stencil to decorate your own geeky shirt. I even included a link to download the stencil I created, if you want to declare your love for lens flares to all the world.

That’s all I have for you today! I hope you find some of these links inspiring. And as usual, if you make it so, let me know! I would love to take a look at your geeky projects, so please leave links in the comments. Maybe you’ll end up in a future round-up here!