The exhumation of L-shaped blocks

Sunday, 17 April 2005 — 8:06pm | Film, Game music, Music, Video games

My regular readership is in all likelihood aware that I spend an arguably unhealthy proportion of my time feeding my nostalgic interest in video game music. It is with much pleasure that I encountered a video of an a cappella choir’s live performance of several signature tunes from the 8-bit era – yes, including thematically relevant stage choreography. Now I know what an abstract interpretive human rendition of falling Tetris blocks looks like.

There is often some measure of debate on whether or not the music to Tetris should properly be considered a video game tune, as it pertains to what is by convention admissible on remix and arrangement communities like VGMix. There is no doubt that it is through the classic puzzle game that the Russian folk song “Korobeiniki” (“The Peddler”) has seen the most widespread exposure in the Western world, but many are unaware of its roots. For those interested, I would advise a look at some traditional Russian folk dance videos, specifically this one.

It’s amazing how every time there’s a clip like the aforementioned choir performance that spreads memetically over the Web, people swell with nostalgia and perhaps recollect other gems they’ve found – most often the orchestrated medley from Super Mario Bros. from Orchestral Game Concert that is commonly misattributed to the Boston Pops – yet they have nary a clue how big a video game music community is out there, constantly taking the bleeps and bloops of yore and endowing them with near-professional quality across all musical styles. I think there’s a huge audience out there for game remixes that remains untapped, simply because the publicity for these independent niche-genre covers relies almost entirely on word-of-mouth.

I now turn my attention to written media and two posthumous literary treasure troves of note. The first is Runny Babbit, a billy sook by Shel Silverstein – essentially, a book of never-before-published spoonerisms by the master himself. If you grew up on his work, you would understand the warmth of this assurance that his death six years ago was, indeed, not where the sidewalk ends. The second is an archaeological breakthrough that has unlocked an archive of classical texts too unbelievable in scope for words… my words, anyhow. I’ll let this article do the talking.

Speaking of archaeology, I got around to catching the Matthew McConaughey-starring film of Clive Cussler’s novel Sahara. It’s good, clean popcorn fun once it gets past the awkward beginning, albeit nothing special. Intriguingly, one of the things holding it back is that it plays it too safe and doesn’t quite capture the extent of Cussler’s outrageous strokes of revisionist history, which elevate the Dirk Pitt stories to an almost unimpeachably ridiculous degree of escapism (and which, I might add, he pulls off a lot more successfully than the likes of Dan Brown). Although my recollection of the novel is rustier than a decommissioned ironclad – the one time I read it was several years ago – I do recall much of it focusing on a delightfully far-fetched premise involving Abraham Lincoln and a well-placed doppelganger, which was omitted in the adaptation and, to my surprise, somewhat missed.

As far as prospects for a Dirk Pitt film franchise go, it’s hard to say; let’s not forget that Dr. No sucked, but that didn’t stop Bond. And Sahara is far from terrible – it’s more of a one-time pleasure not quite guilty enough to harp on, aside from a number of pesky annoyances. The best compliment that I can offer the movie is this: at least it buries Raise the Titanic! for good.


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