Well put

June 17th, 2021 by harold

When we rely on free (but more importantly unverified) platforms for our broadcasts, and refuse to then independently analyze or assess, we become complicit in a system which relies on our indifference. If institutions, or even individuals, notice that sensationalism is the only variable which affects the amount of attention an issue generates, then truth and facts and evidence all become obsolete. They rest easy, knowing that by the time someone has noticed, there will be another issue making waves somewhere else.

A true problem of our times.

Playoffs Cancelled

June 16th, 2021 by harold

All the stars are down due to injuries.

I recently wrote that I wanted to see the small markets, not-star-stacked teams to win but I didn’t ask to have it this way! Damn.

Greed is always the problem. The Bubble was greed. Players had the shortest off-season ever and they all go down to injuries? Weird? No, completely predictable.

Had the NBA actually cancelled the season last year, those athletes would ALL be in the best shape of their lives right now. Look at KD (he was out last year and dropped 49/17/10 with 3 steals and 2 blocks last night).


Start of the post-panny I guess

June 16th, 2021 by harold

At home

Fully vaccinated.

We were supposed to “reopen” California today. I put my mask on like my socks, I don’t even think about it. I still wear it outside and considering the lingering new variants around, I will keep doing that.

The vibe is weird. The pandemic rose plenty of questions and after being exhausted of sitting around and being unable to answer said questions, we were eager to go back to what we know: commute and work. At least some, I guess.

The new government hasn’t kept any promises. In a deteriorating situation as it is, this is some shit. As usual, isn’t it? Right, but now it’s in billions of dollars. Look at homelessness in Los Angeles: plenty of room, plenty of hotels, federal financial help, federal demands about it, the state of CA having a (revised) $38B treasure chest and yet, they evict without regards and the population in the streets is growing. You can’t live on $15/hr. I mean, you will be homeless. It makes no damn sense.

So there’s this euphoric feeling about being able to hug and laugh and go out with friends after a rough year but it’s contaminated by this dire, incomprehensible social situation around. So people dissociate constantly. The vibe is weird.

There’s also this “the past five years have been so hard, what the f was all that??” washing us away. It’s really complicated to absorb and deal with.

Mobile dilemma

June 15th, 2021 by harold

I’m in a pickle with that smartphone bull.

I didn’t use no iPhone nor Android for the past decade because I knew that once you get sucked in, it’s over. You probably won’t change, ever.

I wanted to make sure that I had that choice. Thus, I didn’t choose either, and life was pretty good. Decentralized AF, doing my thing.

I also kind of knew what would happen at a bigger scale and I didn’t want to participate into that:

I could go on and on.

Those things are not just the result of a decade old market dominance, they happen because those two companies are so big and pervasive that they are above the laws, literally. Brands >>> Sovereignty

They make so much money they can buy anyone, any government on earth. They did and will continue (we need to step up here).

And because there’s a brutal amount of spam, scam, tracking, wasting time on pointless apps or games on those platforms, I am not looking forward to spending time dodging and setting up stuff I didn’t have to care for ten years.

I feel so free. It feels right.

Yet I kind of need an iPhone? And so it’s super weird because at this point, I don’t even really have a reason for it.

Payment? True, Cashapp and Zelle are often mentioned and I can’t do them and it’s starting to look suspicious. But payment is easy to solve, we did pay each other before GoogApple. I got some cash the other day or PayPal still does it or direct deposit or a check. The idea of setting up everything on an iPhone (device, Apple ID, Zelle app, Zelle account and all the surveillance with it) to get $200 back from a friend is not mentally exciting, you know. And then I’m locked and dependent. And then Zelle starts adding fees once we are all locked in. That bait & switch culture has got to go.

Social media? Nah, I don’t need this on my phone anymore. It’s the 20s, we off that shit bro.

App to record everything if I get stopped in traffic? ACTUALLY, this might be it. This might be the app that I need very much. This is sad.

I have two iPhones laying on my kitchen counter. Both in great shape, new batteries, up to date.

I play with one, I notice that new text messages, new calendar reminders and new notes buttons are at three different locations. I know damn well that this is not a mistake. It’s Apple’s designers making sure that I am my device’s little hoe. The phone is supposed to make me feel whimsical, looking for stuff around, having “fun” (haha, that autocorrect is so bad it’s so cute!) because that’s how brands work: you’re supposed to bow down and feel grateful.

I don’t want to bow down and I am not feeling it.

Maybe RATM’s Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me stayed in my mind the whole time, but even without that, I have a hard time deciding why I should get stressed and enter a world of pain that –and that’s batshit crazy when you think about it– everyone these days it looks like, is trying to quit or minimize as much as possible.

People getting viral on social media? They don’t like it like that, usually they get 1,000% more anxious after and never or rarely post again. People addicted to virality burn the hell out trying to keep up with obscure algorithms.

These days many people give the advice to use the least possible apps, always. Turning all notifications off etc. This is exactly how I lived with my phone in the past decade, I know that’s healthy! But so then, I don’t need to switch do I?

The mix of some kind of need to conform and simultaneously being right at how insidious this all smartphone thing is, is exhausting. Maybe I read too much. Maybe I shouldn’t care at all about anything, ever.

But the idea of 2021 children digging their own neighborhoods as slaves, so that we can power up devices that are lobotomizing us and making us more anxious than ever, while giving a duopoly everything about us including our biometric data (bodies and voices) now, doesn’t sit well in my mind. Probably never will.

Boynton House real quick

June 12th, 2021 by harold

(Documentary, thank you owner!) So view from the street and view from the patio. As you can see privacy is there even though it is fully open. You have a shady area and a sunny area. It’s deep enough that you won’t see much more than the top of a head from the sidewalk. Far enough to keep conversations private but not that far from the convenience of front street either.

The balance between emotions, functionality and aesthetic. It’s amazing to me.

But also cozy and chilling on the couch, watching a movie or the freaking cinematographic view around is probably simply good life. Give me a cantilevered roof anytime.

Earth connection

June 7th, 2021 by harold

For many years, and even now, generations of black folks who migrated north to escape life in the south, returned down home in search of a spiritual nourishment, a healing, that was fundamentally connected to reaffirming one’s connection to nature, to a contemplative life where one could take time, sit on the porch, walk, fish, and catch lightning bugs. If we think of urban life as a location where black folks learned to accept a mind/body split that made it possible to abuse the body, we can better understand the growth of nihilism and despair in the black psyche. And we can know that when we talk about healing that psyche we must also speak about restoring our connection to the natural world.

bell hooks dropping bombs in 1994 in her book Sisters of the Yam.

I concur with her. Often when people tell me that I look very calm (despite the fact that I go through a very large amount of anxiety), I think that I explain this to connecting with the earth. I am down to earth. I like to contemplate nature. I grew up in the countryside before hitting the city lights and it never left my soul.

When things get complex (as they are in the city), strip it all down. Live more simply. It’s quite easy to do when you’ve been used to do nothing in the front yard, just being in the sunny wheat field.

It’s a lot harder when your life has mostly been about impressing folks around to prove your worth.

You are not a value. You are a conscious. A beautiful, deep, conscious. Connect with the earth. The rest will follow.

Player-empowered league

June 3rd, 2021 by harold

Player-empowered league doesn’t work well because the team aspect is left behind.

To win championships and play pleasing basketball, you cannot leave the team aspect behind. It is a team sport.

Player-empowered league means players think about themselves first. That means high salaries. That means less defense and more 3s (it’s a lot better for one’s body longevity to shoot long distance than to drive in the paint). That means a WAY more boring game. If regular season is quite boring these days, it’s because of that trend. Because games are now a bunch of individuals barely sharing the ball and if so, it is to find someone on the perimeter. It’s too dialed in.

It also destroys the playoffs. We can see right now how those teams built out of nowhere, assembling like giant robots, can be hit or miss. If the stars play well, cool but that also means blowouts, not really great to watch. If the stars don’t play well, not only the rest of the team can’t pull miracles while the stars dissociate, but the team culture and spirit completely disintegrate. It’s all about personal stats now.

And that’s foul.

There’s no more sticking together to make this shit work, which is part of the deal. That’s the only way to reach the next plateau, when the whole team becomes One. When you win championships.

Look, I can’t feel bad for multimillionaires paid to play basketball. A rookie ranked last in the NBA is making $1.6M in a year. That’s roughly what most people in the west will make in their lifetime. The average salary in the WNBA, including vets is around $100K. 40 years ago, NBA players often needed a second job.

Fans will get into debt to buy tickets and jerseys. A star jersey is $300. So they would do that to go see superstar players not give a fuck, or barely, because they’re getting paid and that they got rings with previous teams or will later with another team? That’s not a good look.

I hope the franchises that nurtured a team spirit will win big in the next few years. We need that. We need sustainability, not growth.

Naomi Hooks

June 1st, 2021 by harold

It’s just funny sometimes. While Naomi announced today that she would withdraw from the French Open, in Paris (where I  was born and grew up) later on I was reading bell hooks on black women and she writes:

This is not a simple task indeed. Naomi chose health after probably pondering for years about it. Now she’s at the top of the tennis world, she is mistakenly perceived as ungrateful. She only wants to live a good life. Once again, it shows that filthy wealth and fame are not what make one happy.

She might also understand that this might cost her some opportunities in the future for any cause for which she would need media coverage for.

C’est la vie.

Game Music 2021

May 31st, 2021 by harold

Ha, the classic question. If you look at most games of the past twenty years, you will find two genres in videogame music: orchestra and bleep bloop. There are also basically two feels in videogame music: serious as fuck and whimsical as hell. Yes, you might have the quirky Lo-Fi Hip-Hop loop in the in-game’s shop or the jazzy nostalgic music in the game menu but overall let’s be real: videogame music follows the most rigid aesthetic and in general never really expanded, ever.

Which is why we’re collectively wondering regularly about what videogame music can be. Short answer: everything.

I grouped the most interesting —most liked— answers to Alex’s question.

That’s definitely out of the usual. There is some in Guacamelee but sadly they added 8bit stuff (I have a hard time with SQUARE leads, always had) and electronica on top of it.

Two things: boldness of an aesthetic statement VS game development ultra pragmatism

Game development is insane, with a million things to deal with. Aesthetic boldness is usually expressed through graphics, while music and sound design will be aesthetically “following”, that is, they will be pretty much as boringly expected as possible. Let’s take the example of a “serious” space-themed game. You will have Vangelis type of background music because that’s what everyone in the team will want and settle on. Because it is a safe choice. Games are so complicated to make that they become even more a team’s baby than any other creative output I’ve seen. Therefore taking risks, making bold aesthetic statements like adding some jazz that only two folks in the team feel, will not be done. Even if the public might absolutely love it.

It doesn’t matter that in this example you could say “Cowboy Bebop did it and it works so wonderfully people still talk about it 20+ years later”. If the lead programmer or creative director believes that it’s wrong or that it would only work in anime (or that he/she hates anime), then it’s not happening. There’s never much iteration on music genres in games, if at all. I mean probably at Nintendo, but you know by now that they are the exception (and the metric we’re still humbly trying to match).

SO TRUE. All the technical excellence and overall quality of music can be easily forgotten if you can’t hum something you heard sometimes for hundreds of hours. Nintendo is the King at this. I can hum many of their leitmotif coming to me randomly, decades later (water level in Mario64, I don’t know why). Nintendo always cared.

Music is never thought as an integral part of western game development, it’s always just a layer put on top. Therefore balancing things out cannot be done because it is already far too late and game designers have already moved on to (way bigger) problems. Western game development doesn’t care about music like that. Just slap a big composer name if you can, fade out the music if you can (or just abruptly end it), done. I wish it would change, for sure.

This happens actually quite a lot, it’s just that most people don’t notice :) We have complex game audio engines today (FMOD-Wwise) taking care of that. Why is it usually a bit dull or in the background? Because sudden changes in audio is not a good feeling nor good design. Our ears simply don’t like that. It needs to flow and be fluid. Now, wouldn’t it be cool if we could mute/unmute tracks within the music? Yes it would, but it’s asking the game audio engines to deal with huge amounts of audio data to move around very quickly and, games being EXTREMELY sensitive to anything impairing performance, it’s basically never worth it. Could we do that with less data, with say a MIDI track muting/unmuting MIDI channels? Yes, but it’s still a lot of work and a complex one: it’s a blend of music composing, game integration and iteration with level design to see what works best and what does not. It’s also an aesthetic issue: not every music genre works well with MIDI-only, and telling composers to not worry about their raw audio output is heretic.

The world of audio and music likes to stay rigid and is quite often, conservative. Which is very much the opposite of how games are developed: it’s all about finding new ways to do something better, hacking and tweaking your ways through it.

GIRL. I wish that too! I thought it was obvious that this was needed. I can’t believe —yet it makes sense that we still mention twenty year old games thanks to their music.

Funk is inherently a playful genre of music that Japanese composers have rightfully started to incorporate in their 80s and 90s games and on (I can’t remember which arcade game has straight James Brown samples in it, but yeah). Funk became the backbone of R&B which became known as K-Pop in the late 2000s, go figure.

It has to be said: in the western world of game development, composing that type of breakbeat/funky stuff music is not really considered composing. You compose music only if there are cellos and timpanis otherwise you still compose music but. Anyway.

Vocal samples are to me one of the most iconic and unique aspect of game audio. It’s what made arcades so amazing: those funny, energetic sounding machines, that digital laugh, the corny lines, blasting in sync with flashing lights and screens. It’s all fun and part of the culture. Who doesn’t have a “it’s me Mario” or a “Heavy Machine Gun!” popping up in their minds from time to time, I know I do.

Right! It’s super hard to do. Not so much to sync audio and gameplay, though that can be tricky, but to make a rhythm-based gameplay interesting and not feel like a fad after two minutes. Also it needs to never break and that’s where things usually fall apart. If few games have done that, it’s because it doesn’t work very well.

Dear game developers: people LOVE music diversity. Please offer it, hire folks who can do that (shameless plug: I CAN) don’t deny it for things like “I personally don’t like that stuff so it shouldn’t be in the game I work on”.

I just started watching a new game, Scarlet Nexus. The game begins with slow jazzy, sad chords on a solo piano for the main screen and the first mission starts with fast pop-ish, dubstep-ish house music. And then contemplative breakbeat in slow moments. And of course, it’s all working and exciting and fun and dope.

Why this seems impossible to  create in a western development team, I don’t know but let’s change that.

Oh, the game audio scene LOVES diegetic music. That’s film school influence. I feel like it happens often enough to not be something lacking in games, but I can see how it could be happening more often or in a more subtle way.

The thing that we need to keep in mind with game music: we can do everything. Aesthetically, technically, there are basically no limits besides our own.


May 24th, 2021 by harold

Fascinating book. I always forget that Adidas and Puma brands are from the same family. Or that leisurewear comes from people having time off, thanks to industrial revolutions. Anyway, do you know about the Nike Air Force Ground (Green/Dirt)?

The leave is optional