Final Symphony: TBT Classics to Some, Totally New Favorites for Others

(thanks, IGN!)

It’s been out for a few weeks now, but Final Symphony, featuring music from Final Fantasy VI, VII, and X performed by the London Symphony Orchestra is sitting in the #4 spot on the Billboard Classical Chart. Nobuo Uematsu‘s timeless music from the Final Fantasy series gets new arrangements from the master himself and is powerfully played by one of the most famous orchestras on the planet.

If you’re new to the game soundtrack thing, this digital LP may not make you want to pick up a controller and go seek out those older games (that requires a bit of work non-gamers may not want to tackle). But your ears will thank you for exposing them to something different whether it’s inside or outside of your comfort zone. Get it on iTunes (link above), Google Play or Amazon for somewhere between eight and ten dollars.

Let Classic Arts Showcase Come to the Rescue When You Need A Dose of Random Culture

(thanks, danime2003!) 

CAS_logoIf you’ve never been exposed to the entertaining wonder that is Classic Arts Showcase, it’s time to upgrade your television viewing experience. I could bore you with a retelling of the history of this fully funded highbrow clip show that runs seemingly endlessly in eight hour blocks on cable networks across the country (and is now online for even more people to check out), but that’s what the link to the official site is for. Actually, CAS is rarely “boring” unless you COMPLETELY hate the arts and don’t want to see some of the most unique and completely RANDOM performances from stage, screen and even TV, many of which are unavailable elsewhere.

In case you’re THAT lazy, here’s what the CAS site says about their programming:

Expect the Unexpected

There is no program guide for CAS, because the beauty of CAS is that you’ll never know what to expect. One moment you might be watching a rare film of George Gershwin performing one of his own compositions on the piano, and less than five minutes later you might see Beverly Sills in a great moment from a classic opera. Each weekly eight-hour show is downlinked by hundreds of channels across the country at different times, with different schedules. The element of surprise — not knowing exactly what’s coming up next — is part of what CAS is all about. The goal is to generate excitement and build a new audience for the wide range of performances presented through the arts.

(thanks, bayareabert!) 

And I can VERY safely say that the randomness indeed makes CAS so much fun to watch. Yesterday I happened to flip by the channel here with about 45 minutes of free time floating about and caught a long clip from a Hitchcock film, a bit of Swan Lake, an aria or two, a clip from the film Aria, a fun bit of an old TV show that had a waltz turning into a sort of sock hop and back again, and part of a Nat King Cole TV performance before I had to head out the door. How cool is that? Sometimes you’ll see old animation, sometimes a musical performance or super-arty film segment, an brief interview with a long dead genius and more. This fragmented presentation recalls MTV in its early days when it played stuff seemingly at will, although if you watch CAS long enough, you’ll see there’s a method to the non-madness.

Anyway, if you’re bored this summer thanks to the TV dry spell, give Classic Arts Showcase a look-see and if you find yourself strangely addicted to it, well… my work here is done.

Bethesda Gets You Cultured (Sort of): Welcome to Uppsala, Sweden!

RoW_GunpointWhile Machine Games toils away on its new game, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Bethesda (and YOU) get a little more cultured in this latest update that actually features no game footage at all (whee!). OK, OK… stop panicking, people. You see soon enough that the game is definitely in good hands (I’ll post a gallery after E3 is over and done). Think of it this way: the lighthearted travelogue and studio tour going on above and below is just fluff to keep your eyes and ears in shape for the upcoming shooter.

In plain English: giving you too much candy now will just ruin your appetite for dinner, you know… that’s your free lesson of the day.

Ken Butler @ AIRPLANE: Return of the Home-made Twang Bar King…

KB1 (Custom)OK, class: Time for some art appreciation (siddown, you in the back – you went to the restroom three articles back!). I saw some cool hybrid sculptures by artist/musician Ken Butler last weekend at Brooklyn’s AIRPLANE gallery and found his work to be pretty incredible overall. Some pics are below, but you should probably check out his site to see more and find more about him and his rather amazing work.  I also shot a bit of video of one interactive piece I forgot to write the name down of (oops), so take a look below the jump and let your imagination go wild (or back to normal) as you make up your own story to go with the projected images on the wall. The fun thing about this particular work is it’s all found objects put together and transformed into a multi-purpose art piece (that can probably call down an alien spacecraft if played outdoors, make your cat or dog crazy when they’re chasing lights around the room or perhaps give a burglar a seizure if you play the keyboard fast enough when he’s breaking into your place to steal what he thinks is a time machine)… Continue reading

Applied Design @MoMA: You Won’t Find An Earthquake-Proof Table @Ikea, That’s For Sure…


EPT_MomaBut you will get a plate full of tasty  beefhorsemeatballs covered in an even tastier sauce and lingonberries on the side (yum-o!)*. Anyway, this VERY useful table (currently at MoMA’s excellent Applied Design exhibit) created by industrial design graduate Arthur Brutter and professor Ido Bruno is made for areas in countries where earthquakes are a problem. A main cause of injury and death among children who happen to be in schools in these areas is being crushed while hiding under a desk, so this table is designed to prevent that and even double as an escape route if lined up properly. I can see this being adopted for home and office use at some point, so kudos to Brutter and Bruno for their applied design that turns a common object into a much better common object (er, well… one that’s MUCH better than the old desks they’ll be replacing).

*Hey, I’ve had those meatballs in the past and they’re not bad. Still, I was wondering why I had a craving for apple, carrot and hay salad afterward…

Cultchah! MoMA’s Applied Design Show Brings Gaming to the Masses (Huddled and Unhuddled)…


Hokay, I’m sort of on an extended road trip today (and as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions), so this will be brief (with much more to come later). The Museum of Modern Art held a press event to show off one of their new exhibits, Applied Design (in case you didn’t see the video above). In addition to some amazingly practical objects formed from the alteration of nature into things such as furniture, tools and a rather innovative mine sweeping device, a number of important video games were on display, many of them playable. I’ll post a bunch of videos later (and some may even have ME in them – oh noes!), but if you’re in the NYC area from March 2 (tomorrow!) to January 31, 2014, it’s worth checking this exhibit out.