A couple years ago, I decided it would be cool to put all my Kotaku articles into a single post and update it regularly. If you want to look through a list of highlights from the last few years, you can find them here.
This list now starts with my final goodbye post from December 2018 and goes back through August 2016. Obviously, I’m no longer updating it. I’ve included dates with each article, though a couple of those might be “republish” dates, and not the date of original publication. (Those dates are always noted in the articles themselves.) In a couple of instances, I’ve inserted older articles I like into the chronological flow.
I used a sampler for the marimba that plays at the beginning, but otherwise everything is acoustic and performed by me. All instruments were recorded with an Electro-Voice RE20, which I got for podcasting but turns out to be a pretty versatile instrument recording mic. I mixed and edited everything in Logic Pro X.
“Undertale” was composed by Toby Fox. You can find the full soundtrack here.
I haven’t posted on this blog for a billion years, and I probably won’t for a billion more. HOWEVER, I have started posting more music to my soundcloud page, so I thought I’d embed the primary playlist here so that anyone visiting this site can easily listen.
I’m mostly posting self-produced demos, sketches and simple standalone melodies. Some real instruments, some sampled instruments; some finished tunes, some bare skeletons. Some older tunes, some new. More and more new as we go. Hope ya dig.
I’ve lived in San Francisco for coming up on ten years, which sounds kind of intense when I say it out loud. Ten years! That’s a while. That’s long enough to think of a city as home. I’m not sure I really do, but it seems long enough, is what I’m saying.
Sometimes when I’m in a cab, or meeting someone at a party or something, I’ll say, “I’ve lived here for ten years.” It feels kind of cool, like I’m one of those grizzled old-timers that I most certainly am not. Truth is, I love this city, but I still feel like a newcomer. I spent eight years as a musician and a teacher, working at a school in the Haight and running every day in Golden Gate Park, so I guess that part of San Francisco does feel like home. I’ve spent two more years since then as a writer, working too much and spending too much time indoors and exercising less often than I probably should. That part of San Francisco also feels like home, though perhaps a less pleasant (but more profitable) one.
Ten years is a long time, whether it feels like it or not.
Hello, friends. Long time no see! I’ve been busy in my Kotaku-cave (Kotakave?) for the last couple of months, and have been doing so much writing that I haven’t had much time to do any blogging here. Today, that changes, and with what else but… a post about Kotaku!
Despite the fact that I’m writing and publishing more work than ever, I sometimes get the sense that my friends and readers maybe don’t have a firm grasp on what it is… that I do. I can’t blame them—fur flies all over the place at Kotaku, and unless you’re obsessively following the site or working there, I can’t imagine how a single human could keep up. In particular, some people seem to be under the impression that I “get paid to play video games all day,” which is a misconception so hilariously “mis” that I really do want to dispel it altogether.
When I was in music school, I was in a few saxophone quartets. At the University of Miami there is usually a freshman quartet, with the four freshman jazz saxophone principles assuming the four chairs in the group. It’s a great way to focus on intonation and blend. I’d never played in a “proper” rehearsing quartet before, and it was a challenging and exceedingly valuable experience.
My senior year, a group of upperclassmen actually put together an advanced quartet in order to tackle some really challenging music. The group consisted of me on tenor, Dan Kinzleman on soprano, Chris Shade on alto and Paul Roth on bari. UM Sax Prof Gary Keller directed us.
. We played a bunch of serious modern repertoire, including a Dave Liebman quartet that was as “out” as out can be. Lieb actually came down and listened to us play it, which was awesome and a bit harrowing. And in the spring, composer Jim Mcneely was the guest artist for the Concert Jazz Band, in which I was playing second tenor. Before the concert, our sax quartet took it upon ourselves to learn the final movement from a Mcneely piece called “Shadows and Whispers; Slash and Burn.”
We recorded it live at Gusman hall in early 2003. Every time I come back to the recording I’m struck by just how incredible Mcneely’s writing is, and how advanced the music was. His big band writing is equally cool, but something about the purity of the quartet really brings out what he does so well.
A (fantastic) student of mine named Ben is applying to UM, and Gary really likes his playing. Which is so very cool to hear. I saw Gary last week in New Orleans at the JEN convention, and we talked fondly about the Mcneely quartet. Gary went ahead and forward the recording along to Ben, so I thought I’d share it here, as well.
As you listen to it, bear in mind that there is no improvising in the piece – all of the notes were written. Check out how it goes in and out of focus, going from unison to harmony to rhythmic disjointedness and back. (Update: if you would like to purchase it, it is available via Advance Music.)
“Shadows and Whispers; Slash and Burn” by Jim Mcneely:
In addition to being able to carry more music with me in general, a side-effect of having increased portable music-player storage space is that I can finally take my entire They Might Be Giants collection everywhere I go. No more weighing various albums, going with older volumes just because they’re classic, cherry-picking songs from records… I finally have the entirety of my music collection’s giant-y goodness with me at all times.
I’ve had a really good time re-visiting their entire catalog, remembering what makes this band so special for me. Their music is so free, so unpretentiously groovy, but even more than that, their lyrics? Are amazing.
I thought I’d compile a list of my favorites from among John and John’s many amazing lines and refrains.