Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Brief History and Retrospective of Oingo Boingo

Pleasant-looking chaps, eh? Except the guy in the middle at the
front/ Why does Danny Elfman always look so... evil?
Last time I wanted to write a music article, it failed before it could get off the ground. Even Spotify didn't have the album I wanted to talk about. So instead, let's talk about Oingo Boingo. Here's a band I associate pretty strongly with my early teenage years -- it seemed like everyone was getting into them around that mid-2000s anime boom in the west. Can't remember for the life of me if they were connected in some manner (maybe I'm imagining there was because I knew a lot of young women who were into both -- to a point that I think Oingo Boingo was the most popular 80s group among the young women that I knew on the internet around that time!). Well, let me talk about 'em a lot and suck all the joy out of it by making it seem like more of a clearly human creation.

So, Oingo Boingo started their career by going out of their way to piss everyone off.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Weird, Obscure MTG Art: The First Ten Years

So, I'm going to do this a little... differently today, and open up by posting some tweets. These are from my brother, who mentioned a piece of art from the Mirrodin era that I'm not 100% sure what he was thinking of, and we both suspect might have been buried as a result:

The purpose of this article is actually to create an overview of a lot of the Magic art I didn't have a good chance to talk about in other articles. Magic: The Gathering is very well-known for its art. Even aside from being notorious for being hilariously expensive for, you know, a piece of cardboard, Black Lotus remains iconic for its art, painted by the late Christopher Rush. I don't think it's terribly good, but there's no denying that it and other pieces are widely beloved. So, you know, talking about its art in a retrospective series on the game is completely understandable and perhaps necessary. In addition to what showed up on the cards in the "regular" sets, Magic has featured a lot of other art -- on promotional cards, in associated media, and even in some preconstructed products, which I've decided not to give the "usual" review. So, what great, entertaining, and occasionally awful artwork are you missing out on by just seeing the first ten years' worth of Magic sets?

This time around, I'm using a different source to link you to card images in a lot of cases -- that being Scryfall, the site I've been using for all of my high-res scans of cards for my usual articles. Sadly, most promos and other oddball releases are not on Gatherer. (Here are the promos that are on Gatherer.)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Rating Magic: The Gathering Sets: Mirrodin

So, what makes a Magic: The Gathering set good? There are a couple different approaches to this, but I'd say that the following factors help:
  • A compelling mechanical theme (Khans of Tarkir's version of tri-color groupings, Theros block's enchantment focus)
  • A compelling setting (Amonkhet: Ancient Egypt with the names filed off; Kamigawa block: Japanese mythology and literal spiritual warfare)
  • A decently balanced power level (such that there are cards that I want to play from it, but it's not to a point where a large proportion of them feel like absolute must-plays -- Mercadian Masques is good for this)
  • An interesting aesthetic (New Phyrexia, every single Ravnica set, Mirage)
So let's have a quick look at how Mirrodin -- the entire Mirrodin block, eventually, but for now just Mirrodin itself -- pisses all over all of these.

[view the entire set here!]

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Rating Magic: The Gathering Sets: Eighth Edition

Eighth Edition brought us, most importantly, a gigantic graphical overhaul for Magic: The Gathering. Sweet! I love to talk about graphic design! That's why I almost never do it.

Okay, let's serious up for a bit. Eighth Edition has some weird issues here and there, but it has a decent variety of cards due to introducing a new reprint from every prior set from the game (as part of a tenth-anniversary celebration). It's a little rough around the edges -- just like the early implementation of the new border.

[view the entire set here!]

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Rating Magic: The Gathering Sets: Scourge

Scourge introduces the world to the worst, most broken mechanic ever, which does something that very few things can make me do seriously: hope that whoever came up with it got fired, or at least got their paycheck cut.

I mean, there's plenty of garbage in Scourge -- my god is there so much garbage in Scourge -- but Storm requires special attention for very seriously being the most broken thing in the entire game, with few exceptions.

[view the entire set here!]

Friday, November 23, 2018

Slight Problem with a Character Design I Otherwise Love

Folks who read this blog (there's not many of you, and that's okay) hav gotten a reprieve recently, because I hadn't sorted my full thoughts on the next two Magic sets in my series examining all of them and because I didn't post regular articles this week -- so here's a bonus for the folks who would be inclined to consider it such.

This article is another in my short line of articles where I talk about a major flaw in something I like. It's good to keep perspective, otherwise you turn into every other Ocarina of Time fanboy (topical reference since it just turned twenty years old a couple days ago!) whose facial skin starts to crack and bleed from the stress of maintaining a huge grin and saying "No, it's perfect!" whenever someone brings up the Water Temple. And I dunno about you, but I prefer to not be visibly bleeding in public.

So let's talk about one of my favorite Magic: The Gathering characters and a really, really bad design decision surrounding said character. CONTENT WARNING for pictures of something that looks pretty gory inside.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Blue Öyster Cult -- a Brief Intro and a Review of "Imaginos" (1988)

Blue Öyster Cult represented themselves with this
symbol, an adaptation of one that stands for the planet
Saturn. It is often called the "cross and claw" or any
number of other names.
Originally dubbed "the thinking man's heavy metal group," often positioned as an "American Black Sabbath," and always way weirder than their hit singles suggested, Blue Öyster Cult were a band I fell in love with as a teen (right around the same time as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, King Crimson and Black Sabbath, proving that I listened to a wide spectrum of rock groups). Let's look at them (and moreover, their image) under a microscope and... ask ourselves where the hell we got such a big microscope from, I guess.