Saturday, March 28, 2009


I don't know why I find them funny but I do. Really, it's beyond whether lolcats are humorous - it's the principle. Lolcat is but one aspect of this wacky, crazy interweb I love so very much. I like pondering why certain internet memes take off, what they say about the American collective unconscious. What is it about lolcat that made it such a phenomenon? Why did this particular absurdity catch on? If you have the answers, I need to know.

In case you're clueless about such virtual nonsense (and that's perfectly reasonable, mind you), I suggest a quick glance at the Wikipedia entry for lolcat. Here's a brief excerpt with the relevant info:

"A lolcat is an image combining a photograph, most frequently of a cat, with a humorous and idiosyncratic caption in (often) broken English—a dialect which is known as “lolspeak,” ”kitteh,” or “kitty pidgin” and which parodies the poor grammar typically attributed to Internet slang. The name "lolcat" is a compound word of the acronymic abbreviation "LOL" and the word "cat." A synonym for "lolcat" is cat macro, since the images are a type of image macro. Lolcats are designed for photo sharing imageboards and other internet forums."

Apparently, it all started on on image-board,, where users started posting "cat macros" sometimes involving immoral and disturbing acts. Very nerd-core, if you will. But lolcat first hit the public eye with this G-rated guy, circa 2007:

I know. It's not funny. Maybe it's cute, if you're a cat kinda person, but it's definitely not funny.

Then there was this one, which is a bit funnier and certainly more uncomfortable:

Now note that "Ceiling cat" doesn't make use of the kitty pidgin which I love so dearly.

If you google search, you'll find 1000's, possibly millions, of these images. They used to pop up in the most annoying places, like message boards and comment lists, but nowadays seem to cluster on web-sites dedicated to the phenomenon: like the appropriately named and However, picking through lolcats on these sites really demeans the experience - I find lolcat much more powerful and affecting when I encounter one randomly, in a place I otherwise wouldn't expect. Like when I was doing a google search the other day for "Force Field" and got this image:

I copy and collect ones I encounter that amuse me. They don't do much for anyone else, I suspect, but I'm bored today and decided it might lessen my boredom by boring whomever visits this blog.

Here's one that our friend LS found a little while ago and has been making the virtual rounds:

This is pretty brilliant. I mean, it's offensive, cute, horrific, and modern all in one. Well done.

Some are self-referential and angry, which is cool in a post-modern, cynical kind of way:

Here's one that I would call "uber-nerdy": it combines lolcat, esoteric video game knowledge, and The Settlers of Catan boardgame. Holy fuck, I'm embarrassed.

Then there's this one, which was inevitable...

And just so you get a taste of the range of possibilities, some people really break from the whole "cat" thing and have taken this meme in other directions.

Again, I don't know why but the very idea of combining lolcat with Cthulhu is just funny to me.

Finally, you should probably check out the Lolcat Bible Translation Project, where community users are attempting to translate every book, chapter and verse of the bible into lol-speak. Here's how it begins - Genesis 1:

"1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.
2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.
4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.
5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

6 An Ceiling Cat sayed, im in ur waterz makin a ceiling. But he no yet make a ur. An he maded a hole in teh Ceiling.
7 An Ceiling Cat doed teh skiez with waterz down An waterz up. It happen.
8 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has teh firmmint wich iz funny bibel naim 4 ceiling, so wuz teh twoth day."

If you read further, you'll eventually encounter "Basement Cat." Yes, annoying and pointless. But also awesome. Really, if we can't celebrate this kind of human endeavor, aren't we missing out on a whole aspect of artistic creation and time-wasting that begs for analysis?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


My last post referencing the synergy between Russian metal and upcoming RTS, Stalin vs. Martians, got me thinking about the role that music has played in my personal game history. I'm sure we all have that experience of particular albums becoming attached to certain periods in our lives. Whenever I think of my 2 year stint in Hawai'i, I can't help but hear Goodie Mob and Outkast playing in my head. While sound might not get encoded as deeply in our engrams as smell, it still has the capacity to evoke strong emotional memories.

In particular, I started thinking about how certain albums in my past got linked with particular video game experiences. There is no doubt that the right music can lift a mundane game experience into the stratosphere of the sublime - and there are few greater joys that having the visceral rush of a true "gaming moment" enhanced by the soundtrack of our lives. Here are a few of the pairings that I still recall with deepest joy and respect:

1991: Tetris and Psychocandy

Like hordes of other college freshmen, I got pretty addicted to Tetris. I mean, look at that awesome level back-drop! Back in '91, not everyone had a computer (weird, I know), so I used to steal time on my friend Pat's Mac whenever he was in class or napping. Pat's roommate, Moses, unknowingly exposed me to a brand new world of music. Moses had no particular interest in Tetris, as I recall, but he'd often blast obnoxious alt-rock and industrial while the rest of us gathered around Pat's computer, taking turns and competing for high scores. I'd never heard The Jesus and Mary Chain before, and at first, I hated the sound. But eventually, I discovered a profound ecstasy in matching oddly shaped blocks while listening to the droning vocals and guitar of the Reid brothers.

1998: Commando & The Stooges

I don't know exactly how this got started, but AF downloaded some emulators so that the house on Del Oro could play shit-tons of arcade classics. I know that IS got pretty obsessed with Time Pilot (hell, we all did) and BD showed amazing prowess with Donkey Kong. But nothing got us more pumped than playing Commando and listening to "1969." I mean, it felt like the two were designed for each other. Thinking about this gives me shivers.

1999: Half Life and Vegas

It's hard to talk about Half Life without getting all nostalgic. Let's just say: those were good days. It was Santa Barbara, living 2 blocks away from Leadbetter beach, and weekends were often spent moving back and forth between the ocean and AF's computer. Half Life was my first online gaming experience; it was all about Deathmatch, memorizing maps, right-clicking grenades, crowbar sneak attacks, gleeful laughter. Pop on a pair of headphones, crank up Crystal Method's Vegas, and run & kill. It sounds so juvenile, but I'd be grinning from ear to ear for hours at a time.

2000: Vigilante 8 and The Cult of Ray

This is a tough one, only because we played V8 so god damn much, listening to everything in our collection while doing so. Exile on Main Street, Los Angeles, New York Dolls, White Light/White Heat were on the hit parade. But there's a subtle synergy between shooting red missiles up Dave's ass and hearing "The Marsist" just get cranking. I won't lie to you: V8 was (is) a great game, on its own without support. But V8 + good tunes + friends = Heaven.

Well, you get the idea. Sad to say, I don't have these synergistic, orgasmic experiences much anymore. In part, I think, it's because I play a lot more PC games vs. consoles nowadays and the modern PC memory-sink makes it a bit difficult to play Itunes in the background. But that's not to say it doesn't happen still. Just recently, I started getting in deep with Dawn of War II, which is a pretty visceral experience on its own. Serendipitously, I discovered that DOWII supported by Queens of the Stone Age provides one hell of a rush. Zooming in close to watch your Dreadnaught wreak havoc on some Eldar while listening to "Better Living Through Chemistry" is pretty f'ing thrilling.

2009: Dawn of War II and Rated R

Friday, March 13, 2009

stalin vs. martians

Please watch me and bask in the glory of Russian metal band ANJ:

Thanks again to the blokes at RPS for alerting us peons to such awesomeness. Somehow, in a way that I do not fully comprehend as of yet, this video will be featured in upcoming absurdist real-time strategy game, Stalin vs. Martians. A quote (poorly translated to boot) from the "ideology" of the designers:

"Obviously, the main concept behind the game is pretty much clear if you can see its name. It just speaks for itself. The fact that such game exists is quite an event. It doesn't really matter what's behind the name or if the game is playable at all. The concept is enough. Simply makes your brain explode.

Meanwhile, we decided to move a little bit further than making up a bizarre concept and product's weird name. Stalin vs. Martians is also a good real-time strategy game. Probably one of the best in years and years. You can quote us on that."

And from the FAQ:

"Vopros: Can we play as Stalin himself?
Otvet: Yes, but not from the start. Stalin is our commander and he gives us orders. Closer to the grand finale he will appear on the battlefield as a playable unit - a huge colossus, five times higher than any other creature. Just like it was in the real life."

I desperately hope this is true.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

steampunk star wars

For some reason, steampunk and Star Wars sound like they'd go together like peanut butter and chocolate. I suppose it's because both genres mix old world themes and ideals with new world technology. In the case of Star Wars, the throwback is further than Victorian era England - more like 12th century France. From a child's perspective, the overwhelming coolness of the Star Wars universe was based upon its success in melding Medieval fantasy (sword fights, princesses, magic) with futuristic sci-fi (lasers, spaceships, robots). Darth Vader was black knight, sorcerer, shaman, and mad scientist all in one. How can a 7 year old boy possibly resist?

Steampunk similarly melds 19th century style (petticoats and parsols) with alternate history mechanistic invention (clockwork robots). And thus perhaps it doesn't stretch the imagination much to re-paint the Star Wars universe in a steampunk veneer:

I absolutely love this vision of Obi-wan Kenobi by Marcel Mercado...

Everyone's favorite bounty hunter, Boba Fett, as imagined by Bjorn Hurris:
Another by the same artist - this time, Yoda:

And finally, a series of Darth Vader reinventions:

(Eric Poulton; a clockwork Vader - love it!)

(Marcel Mercado)

(Alister Lockhart)

(Daniel Helzer; truly, more machine than man)