It’s that time of the year, in which the leaves start falling, the air grows chillier, and nightfall shows up sooner. Also, that long line of Deadpool cosplayers, all marching towards Jacob Javits. Yup, New York Comic Con is here.

Today is day one, but the party’s been raging since last Friday, via the advent of Super Week. Which one NYCC organizer described as hoping to be ”the SXSW of NYC”. Quite the lofty goal indeed. Anyhow, I’ve been able catch three of these satellite events, and they were…

The First (and Probably Last) Annual New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans

As the title implies, it was a film and video fest entirely dedicated to cat aficionados, which I happen to be. And most folks these days, or so I thought, yet I had an especially hard time selling the idea to friends. Who I guess found the price of entry ($20 if advance, $25 at the door as it turns out) to be a bit much for stuff that be can easily find online. In the end, my good buddy Kyle, who’s the biggest cat fancier that I know made the trek out to Dumbo that evening (also not helping is how most folks like to lay low on Sundays). By the end of the night, all I could do was thank Kyle for coming out and profusely apologize for wasting his time…

Things started off promisingly enough, with a sizzle reel culled from assorted YouTube clips, with my fave nod being a segment from Fatal Farm’s epic tribute to Garfield, Lasagna Cat. Next were some shorts presented in their entirety, including an expose on bodega cats (which naturally was a huge hit with the NYC audience) and a parody of those 60s educational videos, but instead of LSD it was on the dangers of catnip…

But around the one hour mark is when things officially went off the rails. Turns out, the entire thing was just another one of these stupid hipster fueld ego trips in which it wasn’t really about the movies, but instead a platform for the lame antics of the hosts. Was immediately reminded of the Found Footage Festival from years back, and thankfully the two MCs this past Sunday night didn’t talk over everything, and thus we were spared yet another hackneyed attempt at channeling Joel & the bots, like the aforementioned train-wreck. Instead, they decided to do a bit in which they pondered what four legged creature will be the next viral video superstar, and thus what next year’s festival will center on, hence the fake trailers starring dogs and sloths. It’s at this point, I had to ask Kyle: ”Did they honestly run out of cat videos to show?!?!” Whereas the girl sitting next to me was overheard saying to her friend: ”I didn’t f*cking pay $20 to see videos of dogs, BUT CATS.”

Making matters worse was some kind of technical issue that prevented one of the videos from having sound, so we just sat there while they awkwardly attempted to restart the bit three times in a row. Afterward was a return of feline content, yet a brand new form of annoyance: to accompany a silent black and white film about a cat giving birth to a litter of kittens, some band was brought on stage to perform the soundtrack live. Sounds great on paper, and in person, they didn’t sound half bad either to be honest; it’s just that the music totally didn’t fit the visuals. Though the most annoying part was how the bassist blocked everyone’s view in my section. And it wasn’t like we could give him a signal to maybe move out of the way, cuz he was facing towards the screen, meaning we had to watch his fat ass the entire time. At this point, an hour and half in, I was pretty much done, yet there was more: next was the selection of shorts produced specifically for the festival.

In the running for best film or video of the show was a decent mix, with everything falling into one of three categories: brief clips of cats simply acting like cats, animation of some kind, or interview segments with those explaining the bond between themselves as their furry b-fries. The best one, by far, and which won the grad prize thankfully, combined the later two categories; it was an interview with a self professed dog person who found a stray in the middle of the road late one night, and in an attempt to get it out of harm’s way and nothing else, the cat hid in said person’s engine block of his car (the flashback was all done via animation, which was exceptionally well executed). A bond was soon formed between the two, and this computer programmer who never was able to properly interfaced with other folks, was eventually taught how to love. Was super cute!

Now, what wasn’t cute was the banter between the three judges on stage; you had some blogger, a producer for This American Life, plus a guy who works for the Anthology Archives. And when the guy who actually knows his sh*t when it comes to the medium of the moving image tried making an observation, the other two (mostly motivated by the fact that they had ZERO to contribute, from what I can tell) tried acting all ”Hey, don’t be a bummer dude”, and that was pretty obnoxious. Anyhow, I ultimately hope that the evening doesn’t live up to its name and that there is a second New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans. Though here’s hoping that the next effort is helmed by some other individuals, who are both more competent and simply funny. Anyhow, the following night, at Dave & Busters of all places was…

The History of Music Video, Part One (the Dawn of Time until 1993)

When I walked into the meeting/lecture room (yes, there is such a thing at Dave & Busters), I immediately saw a stack of old music videos on Betamax and had a feeling that this talk was in good hands…

And once the evening’s speaker, Stephen Pitalo, who runs The Golden of Music Video, went into a Robert Palmer joke immediately after introducing himself… I knew right then and there that I mostly definitely was in good hands!

Pitalo kicked things off by identifying the medium’s primordial state, which is well before the advent of MTV as most people might assume. Some of the very first talkies, near the advent of the motion picture, could be considered “music videos” (never mind how actual video tape didn’t come to exist many decades later). After all, they largely consisted of folks just standing there, singing & dancing. Which naturally paved the way for the musical as we know it today. Fast-forward a few decades and, as it turns out, the first identifiable traces of what would be the music video form that we all know today was established in Europe. Here we have a very pretty French girl go-go dancing to come pop/rock song, circa the 60s…

What I found most enjoyable about the talk, other than the fact that it was about something I hold near and dear to my heart… everyone in my generation says it, but for reals, MTV really did raise me, and one of my primary motivations for coming out to New York City and going to art school was to one day direct music videos myself… is how I was able to learn new things about something that I knew everything about. Like how the initial bulk of the vids on MTV upon its debut in ’81 were from the UK, since they had been making them for so long, as noted above. Pitalo also went into great detail as it pertains to the evolution of music videos that were produced on American soil; because record companies had no idea what to make of them, nor could they have anticipated MTV’s success, the first wave had little to zero involvement from the higher ups.

Record execs’ only edict was to ”just make it look cool.” At the same time, for many early directors, it wasn’t something they were expecting, nor in some cases even wanted to do. But as the medium began to popularize, certain individuals began to take ownership and some cases innovate. Pitalo named a few names that I recognized, like Wayne Isham and Andrew Morahan, along with those further behind the scenes that I was unfamiliar with, like Daniel Pearl and Keith Williams, the later of which was ”video conceptualist” (aka a slightly sexier term for music video screenwriter). But once the format officially exploded, it wasn’t long until staples and tropes began to develop. In many ways, some of the viewpoints and concerns mirror the ones that have been voiced in the world of video games…

Pitalo filled his two hours to the brim with all sorts of awesome, eye-opening tidbits. Like how it was Billy Joel of all people who noticed that there was zero black people on MTV in the early days, hence why he made a concerted effort to feature African Americans in his vids. And remember for U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name, how the police tried to shut down their roof top live performance/video shoot due to crowd safety concerns? Yeah, well that story’s total bullsh*t (big shocker, I know). Aside from sharing inside dirt, via conversations from the source, Pitalo also pointed out popular trends in early music videos, like how at a certain point, every single one resembled either Mad Max (specifically its post apocalyptic landscape), Blade Runner (specifically its grimy version of the future), and West Side Story (specifically how people would dance, in formation, towards the camera).

What I found most intriguing was Pitalo explaining the advent of mixed media music videos, specifically those that spliced in 8/16mm footage, to create a faux intimacy with the subject matter, because it felt so behind the scenes. Everyone forgets (like I did) that it was music videos that pioneered this gaze, along with how the advent of everything being shot at 24p basically ruined this effect. Also, you know how in hip hop videos, the cameras were always close to the ground? That’s because no one could afford tripods at the time. Several medium defining examples were screened, including Madonna’s Borderline and Public Enemy’s Night of the Living Baseheads. Though perhaps the best part of the entire talk was the overall degree of objectivity; walking in, I was ready to hear why the 80s and early 90s was the high point of a form of filmmaking that I once again wanted to become an active participant of, yet could give two rat’s ass about it now. As such, I had several biases in that time period’s favor, which Pitalo helped to tear down; there were so many amazing videos back then, but also plenty of crap…

1993 was cited as the end of the golden age of music videos because that’s when the final installment of Guns ’N Roses’ Del James trilogy was released. Unlike Don’t Cry and November Rain, the video for Estranged was not able to justify it’s exorbitant budget and downright suicidal behavior of the stars cuz the song failed to break the top 40. Personally, it would have nice to end things on a hopeful note, by also mentioning Michel Gondry’s take on Bjork’s Human Behaviour, plus I was bummed by the lack of any mention of Matt Mahurin, but that’s just me nitpicking. Afterwards was a Q&A, though instead of fielding question from the audience, it was instead just from some author on 80’s pop culture who initially rubbed me the wrong way by stating that Hype Williams is a better director than Nigel Dick (which is total horsesh*t, btw). Though she did ask really good things, like when exactly did MTV lose their edge. Pitalo pointed something out that I found especially distressing: not once during the last MTV Music Video Awards did anyone mention that it was the 30th anniversary. So sad. So pathetic.

The completely different means in which people now view music videos, which is via YouTube and other VOD services was touched upon. Though the interviewer really put it best by saying that stuff like Spotify still sucks; yes it’s offering curated content, but it’s ultimately entirely based upon your tastes, so not once does it ”go outside your comfort zone” (in retrospect, I really wish I had gotten her name and picked up her book, which she had for sale that night. Anyhow, in closing The History of Music Video, Part One was absolutely AMAZING, and if anything else, the best possible representation of the Super Week’s goal towards a SXSW for the Big Apple. Anyhow, two nights later was…

Muppet Vault: Superheroes

Next up was a look at all the super hero related moments throughout the history of Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, presented by Tough Pigs, an outfit that describes itself as ”Muppet fans who grew up”

There’s honestly not a whole lot to say here, which is not a complaint mind you. The bulk of the session was simply clips from the two aforementioned shows; on the Sesame Street end, you had a ton of Super Grover sketches. They showed the Christopher Reeve episode of the Muppet Show in its entirely, along with selected scenes from the Lynda Carter one.

In between the two hosts said a few jokes and quizzed the audience, with assorted Muppets related prizes as rewards. I will say, the two diehard Muppets geeks that ran the proceeding were a breathe of fresh air compared to the two hipsters that stunk up (and wouldn’t leave) the cat film and video festival’s stage.

It’s maybe also worth noting how, of all three events I went it, last night’s crowd felt the most NYCC-ish, if that makes any sense. Muppet Vault: Superheroes also took place at the Housing Works Bookstore, which everyone should know about, and I have a feeling it was the first time being there for many, so that was neat. Anyways, scope down that Christopher Reeve Muppet Shows episode, cuz Christopher Reeve is rad!

… And I guess that’s it? Later tonight was supposed to be SLIMED! Presents a Nite of Nickelodeon Nostalgic Nonsense! but I was not able to acquire press credentials for the thing. Which was a massive bummer, until I caught this interview with the one of the principles involved in Flavorwire, in which he comes as both super sexist and racist.

Then next you know, it’s cancelled! lol. Well, not sure of the whole story, but if the powers that be at NYCC decided on pulling the plug due to Mathew Klickstein, then good for them. Anyway, now that the doors at Jacob Javits are officially open, it’s time I made my way. But next time, I’ll not only have a full rundown of the show floor, but further Super Week hijinks.

Which includes… a Hatsune Miku concert? Who was made her network television debut last night, for those who missed it. We are indeed living in interesting times.

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10/06/2014

Beetlejuice vs Johnny Dangerously; FIGHT

by Matthew Hawkins

Whoa, my fourth post in a row, highlighting the very best in game related vids that you may have missed out on? Indeed it is, though my original plan of doing this up until this Thursday at the very least, since that’s when New York Comic Con kicks off, is not going to happen.

For starters, I’ve actually run out of stuff to post! Well, there were more, but I ended up weeding them out. Also, NYCC this year starts extra early! As in last night; New York Super Week kicked off this past weekend, and my first taste being The First (and Probably Last) Annual New York Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans.

Which I will talk about tomorrow, alongside The History of Music Video, Part One (the Dawn of Time until 1993), which is later tonight. But first…

- What happens when you combine Mortal Kombat with… Michael Keaton? Why, MICHAEL KOMBAT!!!!!!

- When one thinks of “longplays”, which are videos of people playing a game, from start to finish (with zero narration or commentary, hence why there should not be confused with “lets’ plays”, which not only presents gameplay in a shorter/edited format, but often includes moronic jokes the entire time), one naturally assumes that it’s one of the many by products of YouTube. Turns out, they’ve been around much longer than that; here we have footage from a longplay laserdisc highlighting Solvalou, the 3D polygonal offshoot of Xevious

- And here we have some Japanese dude proudly showing of a Xevious shirt that he recently acquired. Best part is the 1:03 mark, when he recalls what a profound impression the game had on him as a child. And I can relate! It’s the first video game I truly became obsessed with, the reason why I asked for an Atari 7800 instead of a NES as my first system (cuz at the time, the Famicom/NES port had yet to arrive in America)…

- Back on the subject of shmups is yet another clip from Retro Core, this one examining one of very first Dreamcast games ever announced for the console, one that never ended up coming out, Geist Force. Many years later an ex-Sega employee revealed that he had the last work in progress build, and a bunch of folks online gathered their resources to produce a fairly professionally looking physically copy…

- Sticking with Sega, who out there is familiar with the Magic 2 and the Scorpion XVI? They’re European Mega Drive/Genesis clones from the early 90s that largely had the same exact components as the real thing. Here’s a close up look at one of them…

… Time for a bonus video! Hope going one extra my max number of eight doesn’t break my website; here’s a clip from that Euro gaming show mentioned above, Bad Influence, featuring a look at the Scorpion XVI from back in the day…

- One more shump related clip; here’s a catchy remix from Gradius 3 via the KORG DSN-12 by USK! Or at least I think that’s him? Not 100% sure…

- And sticking with subject of music this time is something that Brandon Sheffield posted on Twitter ages ago (like I said on Friday, my backlong of vids to share was indeed backed up), of Motohiro Kawashima from last year’s Post-TGS Indie Games Creator’s Live Music Showcase Party…

- Finally, here we have a commercial by Atari from the early 80s for, not a 2600 game, but an arcade attraction. Not only that, but it’s over two minutes long, meaning it wasn’t intended for the small screen but the big one. And the game being pushed? Dig Dug, which I guess they banked on being the next big thing…

… The YouTube description states that it was Atari’s very first nationwide ad campaign. As for the song that’s heard, it was originally supposed to Chubby Checker, but it ended up being someone else. No one seems to know why, but if you want to hear the original, head on over to Kotaku.

K, guess that’s it’s it for now? Anyhow, gotta head out and see if tonight’s speaker is a Matt Mahurin fan.

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So, what’s on tap today as far as handpicked random video game related videos are concerned? Well…

- Someone in Brooklyn has managed to combine Dungeons & Dragons with yoga. Why? Because Brooklyn…

- Meanwhile, in England is a church that uses Flower, for the PS3, as part of its Sunday evening worship service…

- Speaking of the F word, long time followers of this blog may already know that my all time fave DS game is Flower, Sun, and Rain (man, how’s that for a segue). Which was originally a PS2 effort, Suda 51’s first title for the system, but one that was never officially translated. I pray one day someone will make that valiant effort, but till then, here’s the original opening that someone translated via video editing software…

- As a hardcore Sega Saturn fan, I’ve always been curious about the Video CD card but had no real reason to pull the trigger and get one (despite the fact that, in my earliest days of diving head first into Asian cinema, I ended up acquiring a few VCDs, since they were so popular in Hong Kong). Thankfully, someone has finally done a video about this most obscure of Sega add ons (which is saying a lot if you think about it)…

- Time for something completely different (as well as my first attempt at embedding a video from Niconico); ages ago I posted a pic of a Japanese kickboxer, who is also a cosplayer, coming to ring in Touhou attire. Well, finally after all this time, is footage of said scene in action…

- Speaking of fighting, here we have a piano modded to play Tekken

- And a music video in the form of a fake fighting game that Tiny Cart first wrote about months ago, but I’ve been posting Instagrams from the artist and the visualist, so I still brag about knowing them both before anyone else…

- K, time to bring things to a close with yet another classic: Jim Ross doing commentary on assorted games…

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