TARred And Feathered

I have had one general rule for television for as long as I can remember: I don’t “do” reality television. After watching the threshhold of watchable television get violated by the likes of VH1 (*Surreal Life* and all spinoffs thereof), NBC (*Biggest Loser*, *Fear Factor*), Fox (pretty much everything they’ve done), and MTV (*Osbournes*, *Newlyweds*, *Super Sweet 16*, anything involving *Real World* or *Road Rules*), I could only take so much.
And besides: what about these shows are truly ‘reality’, in any sense of the word? Flava Flav having to narrow down 25 catfighting women to one he wants to date isn’t reality. A guy pretending to be a millionaire isn’t reality. Reality TV such as this thrives on heavily edited conflict and personality clashes. It just isn’t my thing.

But like all rules, there eventually comes a conflict. And so when I’m randomly surfing past GSN and I happen on a reality show that doesn’t annoy me, and in fact compels me to keep watching, I’m immediately stuck in a dilemma:

Can a reality show that is largely just a competition, with only a small amount of personality clashes, win me over? Which will win, the side of me that hates reality TV, or the side of me that loves game shows and competition?

The show won. I swallowed my pride and began watching [The Amazing Race](http://www.cbs.com/primetime/amazing_race9/).

And today, one thing became painfully clear: when I get into a show, I go all-out.

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no hiding – I’m [going to TARCon9](http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?showtopic=3139163). (And so is Katie.)

Anyone else want to go?

A Plague Of The Plague

I can count on one hand the number of shows I follow on a weekly basis: Cheap Seats, Wonder Showzen, Amazing Race, and House M.D. This makes my life considerably easier as there’s only one per night and I’m not forced to endure the same commercials 50 times in one evening.
If you haven’t seen House this week yet and you don’t like being spoiled, you may want to skip the remainder of this post.

Anyhow – I love House, despite its very formulaic structure most weeks (Patient Collapses, Initial Battery Of Tests, Flailing Diagnosis, More Tests, Patient Goes Code, Crazy Idea That Might Work #1, Cameron Empathizes With Patient, Cutty Goes Ape, Revelatory Moment, Semi-Convoluted Explanation, Cure). Tonight, the patient hadn’t slept in 10 days, and it turned out to be – cue the minor chord, boys – the plague! Black death! It was certainly an entertaining episode, in any case.

But then I got slightly unnerved not an hour later as I read that [there’s been a case of the plague reported in LA](http://www.nbc4.tv/health/8801513/detail.html). Now, don’t panic, says a scientician:

>”Bubonic plague is not usually transmissible from person to person,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of public health. “Fortunately, human plague infection is rare in urban environments, and this single case should not be a cause for alarm in the area where this occurred.”

But hey, Fox, way to go on the timing. I can only imagine what watching this in LA would be like – where undoubtedly the Fox affiliate screams horrifying news during commercials just like NYC’s Fox 5.

Yo La Tengo Is Murdering The Classics

This was just brought to my attention:

> They said it shouldn’t be done, but we did it anyway. Starting in 1996, we’ve made an annual visit to WFMU during their fundraising marathon. People who pledge money to the station while we’re on get to make a request, and we try to play it. And guess what? It’s not that easy. Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics is a 70-minute compilation drawn from 1996-2003, a Best-of, or Best-of-the-Worst, or Worst-of-the-Best, or . . . oh, what’s the use, it’s dreadful. No song titles will be provided, don’t ask. Beautiful cover art by Adrian Tomine. Order at your own risk. No refunds.

A true delight of a cover album.

Don’t Let It Go

This post is going to be somewhat cryptic and bizarre, and I apologize for those of you who end up scratching your heads. I promise, this will be the only one for now.

A little over four years ago, I first stepped into the Bemani community. As with most passionate online communities, it has never been a friendly world. Know-it-alls, shit-talkers, preachers and perverts, gangsters and thugs. Even a few people who just wanted to enjoy their video games.

My love/hate relationship with DDR provided cover as I buried myself in Beatmania IIDX. IIDX, you see, has historically been a game for isolationists. It is not exciting to watch at parties. It does not make you look excessively idiotic. Two-player modes are more of a distraction than an enjoyable mode of play. It is the sort of game that requires heavy concentration and discipline. It begs for the sort of perfection that can only come from someone playing the same song over and over again, much like modern day Japanese [shmups](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrolling_shooter).

While I was playing IIDX for that first year, I began slapping down a small score tool in PHP to provide me with the ability to track my scores from game to game. And somewhere in there, as I closed flamewar threads on [DDRFreak](http://www.ddrfreak.com/) and thumbed through the junk on [Bemanistyle](http://www.bemanistyle.com/), some thoughts popped into my head.

> What if there was a way to move the community in a positive direction?
> What if all these people could come together and be civilized?
> Is it worth pouring time and energy into something – purely out of my love for a game – in the hopes that people will enjoy it?
> Can this be done without causing more drama?

I took a chance and leapt at the project. I will spare you the cataloging of sacrifices I’ve made for the project, because the truth is, I enjoyed challenging myself with some of the work.

The site has been, to a large extent, a success. It’s popular, the code is not entirely broken, and the community is mostly harmonious. But it’s that “mostly” is what gets to me.

I’ve always said that it’s far more easy to remember the bad times than the good – you’re going to remember stress over pleasure. Happiness doesn’t leave scars. Thus, I know that I’m overreacting to the drama that has arisen in the last few hours. I know that steps I have taken to smother the flames were overly broad.

But when I realize that the amount of time I’m pouring into the site is dominating the time I actually spend playing the game that inspired it by a ratio of at least 4:1, and that a sizable chunk of that time is spent babysitting the community, it’s hard not to have your faith shaken.

Coney Island, Opening Day

The Play Ground Of The World

Begging For A Glimpse

Wonder Wheel

Feed The Clown

The New Pay Toiler Law Does Not Apply Here

Beach From The Wheel Again

Arcade

We spent the afternoon with the [Slice Club](http://www.sliceny.com/archives/2006/04/sunday_thrills_and_slices_at_coney.php) out at [Coney](), enjoying the opening day festivities. We rode the Cyclone twice (once in the front), had some decent pizza at Totonno’s, wandered around the boardwalk, and did a few spins on the Wonder Wheel.

For those who don’t live in New York City but do live in close proximity to the beach and/or an amusement park, you may be wondering what the big deal is. I lay no claim for being able to put my finger exactly on what makes Coney Island what it is, but I can say that it’s like going to an entirely different world.

For more:

* [The rest of my photos from today.](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/tags/trip040906/)
* [Video of the marching band.](http://vjarmy.com/junkbin/hungrymarchingband.mpg) (38 MB MPEG)
* [Photos from the Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest 2005.](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/sets/541846/)

And You Thought You Were Going To Summer Camp!

Sure, Apple has sent the world into a tizzy with their new [Boot Camp](http://www.apple.com/bootcamp/) software, allowing Mac users with Intel based machines to run Windows. It’s astounding news, and when [you see it in action](http://www.cabel.name/2006/04/boot-camp-first-look-half-life-2-video.html), you will say WOW – but I’m not here to talk about the [business ramifications](http://daringfireball.net/2006/04/windows_the_new_classic).

I’m here to talk about the *other* electronic Boot Camp.

In my 24 years as a gamer, there were times when I would go into an arcade and in the course of my visit, find some game I’d never even heard of that just flat out grabbed hold of my very being. There would either never be a home version of this game, or it would completely suck. The arcade cabinet itself would inevitably disappear a week or two later, and never be seen again.

Boot Camp – a 1987 Konami arcade game – was one of those games. Read on, and learn about what may be the archetype game for Konami’s gameplay in the 1980’s.

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