What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us?

I’ve discovered a BBC short film (just under 5 mins) about Hauntology, the concept that there is a "nostalgia for lost futures." The term is a portmanteau of ‘haunt,’ meaning ‘to appear in a ghostly form’ and ‘-ology’ meaning ‘the study of the nature of being.’

Over the course of the video we see images of the past and projections of what the future could be like. Looking at the possible hopes and fears for the future left me feeling a bit depressed really and that is what hauntology does. Anyways, it’s a great video and worth a look!

What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us?

Why the World Fell in Love With Monument Valley

I frequently speak about how video games can be an art form. Not all games are art in my opinion but some titles just stand out and really push the debate beyond doubt... step up Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 by Ustwo.

In the Monument Valley games you manipulate Escher-style architecture and guide a silent princess through stunning vistas. In Monument Valley 2 you control a mother and daughter as they are seperated by the architecture. The journeys is relatively short (about 2 hours apiece) but memorable as each level is a masterpiece, a combination of stunning art and immaculate design (I’ve linked to two articles I’ve done below about the artistry in the gaming).

Red Bull Gaming have produced a short 10 minute documentary about what Ustwo is up to next and it looks intriguing. Now this is a video game studio I can get behind.

Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy Concert Returns to the Royal Albert Hall

The music of Final Fantasy, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, has always been a video game fan favourite and even reached quite high in the Classic FM Music of the Year charts. Well, the Royal Albert Hall is hosting 2 evenings of the music from the games but with a very special guest indeed, RIKKI, the original vocalist from Final Fantasy X!

I probably won’t be going as I have a few school commitments but maybe you folks might enjoy it. Click the link below the image to go to the official Royal Albert Hall website to snap up tickets!

Crow: The Legend- PSVR Animation

As teachers and educators we like to immerse our children in topics to interest and excite them. With certain topics this is easy as we have to facilities and resources nearby to engage them, however with certain topics like History this can be difficult as the places we are discussing are often not within reach.

Whilst carrying out research about native North America I came across a free PSVR animation called Crow: The Legend, a story about the origin of seasons. In the words of the animation creators, Boabab Studios:

The carefree forest animals imagine spring will last forever. However, winter comes and the animals soon realize that their lives are in danger. What they need is a hero; what they need is Crow: The Legend.

The 20 minute or so animation is a beautiful VR experience and stars John Legend, Oprah Winfrey and many other famous actors. It is a brilliant stimulus for writing and I hope to use it when we do our North America topic next term.

Fern Gully Trading Cards Set Opened 26 Years Later

Whilst at a Comic-con I picked up a pack of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest trading cards. For those not in the know Fern Gully is a 1992 animated musical film about the Australian rainforest inhabited by fairies. Crysta, a fairy, accidentally shrinks a young logger named Zak to the size of a fairy. Zak goes native and teams up with Crysta to rally the fairies and the animals of the rainforest to protect their home from the loggers and a malevolent pollution entity, Hexxus.

For people thinking that this premise sounds familiar, it is... think of Avatar crossed with Dances With Wolves and you get the idea.The film is not very memorable but does feature a pretty cool performance out of Robin Williams, pre- Aladdin.

Getting the cards was pretty awesome as they have survived being chucked for over 25 years and that is amazing. The cards themselves are alright but pretty basic, no gloss, no shinies and no activities but overall not too bad. They mostly contain stills from the film and character images. No muss, no fuss.

Huge Manga Exhibition at British Museum in 2019

I’ve been a HUGE manga fan for about 30 years now. Back when I got into it in the late 80s, manga and anime were not as prevalent as it is now in the West, so to see its emergence and cultural impact has been fascinating for me. In fact, my first ever blog post for this website in 2013 was an influence map:

The British Museum also recognises the influence of the artform on the world and is hosting its biggest ever exhibition from 23rd May to 26th August 2019. In their own words:

Immersive and playful, the exhibition will explore manga’s global appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.

I can’t wait to go to the exhibition.

I can’t wait to go to the exhibition.

I hope to be going to the exhibition and will write a review, as usual.

LINK- British Museum Manga Exhibition Tickets

LINK- Good Grief, Charlie Brown Exhibition Review

Thunder Force IV Soundtrack Incoming

I’m a huge fan of DataDiscs and their video game soundtrack releases. I have bought many of their vinyl OSTs including Okami, Golden Axe, Panzer Dragoon and all three Streets of Rages. Recently, they have announced that they will be publishing the soundtrack for Thunder Force IV. As a HUGE fan of the game back when it was out on the Megadrive (and recently released on the Nintendo Switch Store) I am beyond excited for this release and can’t wait. For those not in the know check out the soundtrack below and rock out!

Cunk On Everything- Book Review

Philomena Cunk, first appeared on our screens as part of Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe show. Over the next few years her oeuvre of absurdist, irreverent humour, punctuated with fleeting moments of profundity recalled edgy shows from the 90’s such as The Day Today, The 11 o’clock Show and Brass Eye.

Since then Cunk has appeared in various shows, including Cunk on Christmas, Cunk on Shakespeare and Cunk on Britain. Her wide-eyes insouciance has won her much acclaim and her ability to agitate and disarm experts has been a joy to watch. Now, actress Diane Morgan, who has played Cunk for the past few years, has co-authored a book with the help of Brooker and the author team behind the Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups series, Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley. Cunk On Everything is Morgan’s take on the encyclopaedia but with a leaf taken from Michael Gove in that “people in this country have had enough of experts,” so listen to the idiots instead.

Cunk On Everything is the world according to Philomena Cunk… it’s wonderful and weird!

Over the course of the alphabet we learn about Archie Medes (the cleanest philosopher), the xylophone (the sound of skeletons dancing) and the Taj Mahal (made out of ice cream).

I listened to the audiobook and over the course of just over 5 and a half hours found myself laughing away. The audiobook is delivered by Morgan with her usual deadpan wit and does not take itself too seriously, whilst genuinely getting you thinking about some things you never would have thought of.

This audiobook is exactly what fans of the character were looking for and I for one give it a thumbs up!

Betty Boop in Halloween Party- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

This 1932 Fleischer Studio animation isn’t really scary but more sweet as Betty Boop invites people over to hers for a Halloween Party, but “Bring Your Own Lunch.” However, a gorilla gatecrashes the party and it’s up to Betty and co. to ensure the evening is not ruined.

This is not a bonafide classic like the others I have shared so far but it is pretty good with a strong voice actress in Bonnie Poe and vaudeville, film and TV actress Mae Questel.

The Skeleton Dance- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The Skeleton Dance is the first of Disney’s Silly Symphony shorts, an animated cartoon series where music is integral to the whole piece. In this classic animation, as the clock strikes midnight four skeletons rise from their graves and proceed to have merry fun.

Considering that this was released in 1929 the macabre matter is somewhat surprising, however the animation is top notch and incredibly fluid. Check it out!

Ulysses 31: Vengeance of the Gods- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The 80's were an amazing time for cartoons and one of the finest is Ulysses 31. It tells a story similar to Homer's The Odyssey but set in the 31st century, hence the 31. The 26 part episode series is all great but the pilot episode is pretty scary, what with child kidnapping, child sacrifice and a freakin’ robotic cyclops! The music complements all this beautifully and I have spoken at length about the soundtrack before.

For those who only remember the series from the past check it out now on YouTube… it still holds up well!

Cobweb Hotel- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The Cobweb Hotel is a spooky 1936 animation by Fleischer Studios. The cartoon tells the tale of a malevolent spider who runs a hotel where he traps unsuspecting travelling flies, bugs and other creatures in his cobwebby lair. However, the spider’s luck changes when a newly married fly couple come to stay.
The cartoon is beautifully animated and the sound design adds to the creepy atmosphere. The whole thing is a horrifying hellscape of nightmarish imagery which will stay with you long after the cartoon ends.

Mickey Mouse in The Mad Doctor- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

Mickey Mouse is the face of the Disney corporation but compared to the likes of Donald Duck and pretty much any other Disney character Mickey seems to lack any ooomph, well at least in his most modern CGI iterations. However checking out the Mickey shorts from the early years (late 1920s and 30s) reveals a cool character with lots of personality and charisma. Don’t believe me? Check out the beautiful but spooky The Mad Doctor. Hotdog is it good!

Trap Door- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

I was about 6 when I first saw Trap Door on ITV, the great intro music and opening credits had me hooked and the funny but kinda weird dark undercurrent of the show appealed to the stranger/ offbeat part of me.

The claymation art style appealed to me as a 6 year old kid.

The claymation art style appealed to me as a 6 year old kid.

The claymation art style was all herky-jerky and I think that lent to its otherworldly perculiarness that I fondly recall. I watched an episode today with my 3 1/2 year old daughter and she loved it so it just goes to show, classics will always remain classics!

Now recite after me….

Somewhere in the dark and nasty regions, where nobody goes, stands an ancient castle. Deep within this dank and uninviting place, lives Berk ("Allo!"), overworked servant of "the thing upstairs" ('Berk! Feed Me!') But that's nothing compared to the horrors that lurk beneath the trap door, for there is always something down there, in the dark, waiting to come out....

The following lines of the theme song would then sing out:

Don't you open that trapdoor, You're a fool if you dare!... Stay away from that trapdoor, 'Cos there's something down there...

Rocketeer Trading Cards Set Opened 27 Years Later

The Rocketeer is a 1991 Disney superhero film based on the comic book created by writer Dave Stevens. The Rocketeer is a period piece set in 1938 and tells the story of stunt pilot Cliff Secord who stumbles upon a hidden rocket powered jet pack that he thereafter uses to fly without the need of an aircraft. His heroic deeds soon attract the attention of multi-millionaire Howard Hughes and the FBI, who are hunting for the missing jet pack, as well as the Nazi operatives that stole it from Hughes.

I remember seeing the film in the early 90s and being a bit nonplussed with it and that's how I feel about this trading card set, which I picked up from a comic-con a while back. The packet is shiny cellophane and is brightly coloured with an art deco styled Rocketeer image. However, once the packet was opened it all became a bit 'meh'  with bland coloured stills from the film and a few promotional shots. The cards are matt and don't have a quality feel to them at all. Overall, much like the film from my memories, this is all a bit bland.

Sega Arcade Pop- Up History Book Kickstarted

In the 80's Yu Suzuki changed the arcade scene with releases of some of Sega’s greatest arcade cabinets. These included Hang-On, Space Harrier, Thunder Blade, After Burner, Out Run, and Power Drift. Well, Sega fan and pop-up book aficionado Darren Wall has successfully Kickstarted a campaign to reproduce the stunning arcade cabinets in miniature pop-up book form. The book contains detailed pop-ups of the cabinets but also schematics, artwork and a little historical information on the games.

The original consignment of books are soon to be sent out for backers but a larger print run of the book is promised soon and I look forward to purchasing a copy. Check out the video link below to see how awesome the project looks.

Jean Michel Jarre Announces Equinoxe Infinity

Jean Michel Jarre is a man on a mission. Since his 11 year hiatus after releasing Téo & Téa Jarre has released three new albums and a new compilation album since 2015. This is impressive stuff for a man who is 70 years old! I’ve reviewed his albums (see links below) and for the most part they are a real return to form, especially Oxygene 3 which contains the sublime Oxygene 20. Now, on the same day that he released his compilation album Planet Jarre, the great man announced Equinoxe Infinity. The original Equinoxe was released 40 years ago and in celebration of this anniversary Jarre is releasing a follow up. I am excited and have already pre-ordered my copy, which is due for release on 16th November 2018. Check out the first track below.

Arcade 1Up Brings 'True' Arcade Machines into the Home

Owning a real arcade machine is one of the dreams we've all had right? RIGHT? Well, as you get older life and funds get in the way, after all, an arcade machine is pretty big, heavy and usually quite expensive to buy and maintain. However, Arcade 1Up may have the solution; a 3/4 sized arcade machine that weights just under 30 kg and costs just $400. The whole package contains a 17'' LCD screen and can be assembled like IKEA flatpack furniture using just a screwdriver.

The arcade machines feature all the original artworks and have true control panels and the bonus is that the machines contain between 3 to 4 games including classics such as Defender, Joust, Rampage, Centipede and Street Fighter II.

The arcade machines will be on sale in September and will be available across the world. I won't be buying one anytime soon as space is a premium in my house and my small mancave wouldn't cope with it in, but maybe this could be the arcade dream machine you've always wanted.

New Streets of Rage Game Announced

I am super excited to share the news that a new Streets of Rage game has been announced after a 23 year wait. The original trilogy came out on the Sega Megadrive/ Genesis and were bonafide classics, especially the first two which are considered some of the finest scrolling beat 'em ups of all time. The music by Yuzo Koshiro is fondly remembered and I have discussed all three before with the recent vinyl releases of the soundtracks.

I have all three Streets of Rage games on vinyl and love them, especially the second one!

I have all three Streets of Rage games on vinyl and love them, especially the second one!

Details are sketchy at the moment but from their official video on YouTube Dotemu have said:

Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games and Dotemu are thrilled to present Streets of Rage 4. Featuring hand-drawn visuals from the team behind 2017’s gorgeous Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake, Streets of Rage 4 builds upon the classic trilogy’s gameplay with new mechanics, a fresh story and a gauntlet of dangerous stages with a serious crime problem.

I hope that the game is as good as the recent Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap remake, which was phenomenal and that they manage to Yuzo Koshiro back on this franchise. Here's hoping that the stars align.

Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame Trading Cards Set Opened 22 Years Later

In 1996 Disney released its 34th animated feature; The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film is based on the 1831 French novel written by Victor Hugo which centers on The plot centres on Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame and his struggle to gain acceptance into society. I remember watching the film at the time and being quite surprised at how dark and gothic the film was, especially as it was a Disney production. The narrative explores such mature themes as lust, damnation and sin... heady for a cartoon from the 90s non?

Well, the Hunchback of Notre Dame Trading Cards set I got from a comic-con I went to was in immaculate unopened condition. Upon opening it I was pleased with the amount of cards and the quality. The cards all had that nice glossy sheen and the print quality was top notch. What really set this trading card set apart was that as well as the usual still images from the film there were other cards that you could turn into a mini standee, puzzle and coins to do tricks with. Disney you gits, you killed it with this set from 1996... I doff my cap 22 years later to this.