2015 marks twenty-five years since the debut of both Twin Peaks and the Super NES game console, and evidently, both of those things have some devoted fans at a creative agency called Beutler Ink. In celebration, they’ve produced a Twin Peaks town map in the 8-bit graphics style of Super Mario Bros., which turns thirty this year. Feel old?
Giclée prints in various sizes and the usual array of print-on-demand apparel are available from Society 6. Here’s the whole map. Clicking spawns a readable enlargement.
For the video game design competition Duplicade, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Fire Dance with Me, an enjoyable video game about Twin Peaks, Aaron Meyers came up with an infectious game called Michael E Michael, in which Michael Jackson has a Tekken-style dance-off against Michael Jackson. As I noted yesterday, the game “must tread dangerously into the intellectual property of an existing game or game franchise, but be cleverly altered and culturally mangled enough to not be worth the effort to sue,” which Michael E Michael clearly does.
The rules of Duplicade require games to be head-to-head games in which the WASD and arrow keys control movement for Player A and Player B, and also that the game declare a winner within the first 30 seconds. In the game, the two players control identical versions of The Gloved One from the video “Smooth Criminal” while that selfsame infectious song pulsates away.
Using various moves you can kick your opponent, execute a spin (which spawns a bunch of tiny Michaels to scatter away from the main avatar), and so forth until the loser is identified and the winning Jackson (of course) transforms into an awesome jet and flies away.
The original “Smooth Criminal” video after the jump…
Video game designer Robert Yang has has quite the homoerotic resume. He developed Cobra Club, the game where you try to alter a dick pic to optimum beauty, and Stick Shift, a game where you pleasure your gay car. There’s the (consensual) spanking game, Hurt Me Plenty, and Succulent, where you watch a man fellate an popsicle. Rinse and Repeat is Yang’s latest, and it’s surprisingly subtle on the homoeroticism (relatively speaking). The object? Wash a man’s back in the gym shower. That’s it. Just a super-gay locker room fantasy with a healthy dose of camp, and not half-bad graphics, either!
Was he in your Tactical Zumba class, or was it Blood Pilates? Usually you wouldn’t risk a shower right after class, they already talk enough shit about you, but the other day—a cough then a smirk and then a knowing glance, that’s all it ever takes until you start hoping against hope.
Don’t fuck it up. Show up when he’ll show up, right after class. Set multiple alarms on your phone, mark your calendar, clear your schedule. What is this terror? What is this ecstasy? What is it that fills you with this extraordinary excitement?... Boy, it’s the promise of a workout.
The whole thing is really funny and cheeky (get it?), right down to the aviator sunglasses your bathing buddy leaves on during his shower. You can download Rinse and Repeat here (for free!) and watch a preview below. All dicks are pixelated, but do I really need to tell you that it’s NSFW?
Guiding spirit of black metal Varg Vikernes spent 15 years in a Norwegian prison cell for the crime of murdering his fellow black metal practitioner Øystein Aarseth (a.k.a. Euronymous) in August 1993. It is also alleged that he was involved in the burning of at least three churches, although Vikernes denies this. Charmingly enough, on the cover of the EP Aske, released in 1992 by Vikernes’ one-man music project Burzum is a black-and-white picture of one of the churches he is alleged to have torched (the title is also the Norwegian word for “ashes”). (Anyone wishing to learn more about the whole bloody mess is encouraged to check out Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind’s Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground.)
Vikernes was released on parole in 2009 and currently resides in France, where, according to Wikipedia, Vikernes “promotes a neo-völkisch ideology (Odalism) based on the idea that White Europeans should re-adopt native European values, including elements of traditional paganism.” He has also released a RPG similar to Dungeons & Dragons called Myfarog that espouses explicitly white supremacist beliefs.
The name Myfarog is a kind of acronym, standing for “MYthic FAntasy ROle-playing Game.” Intrepid reporter Jeff Treppel at Metal Sucks went and acquired a copy of the game (it’s a book, really) and wrote up an incisive account of why it’s a terrible game and also, far more important, why it’s a really racist game. As Treppel writes: “Look, I’m not stupid. ... You want to know just how racist this RPG is. Well, spoiler: it’s really fucking racist.” The game is designed to propagate Vikernes’ white supremacist beliefs, and it does that with no noticeable subtlety.
Here’s Treppel’s summary of the racial schema used in Myfarog:
There are a wide variety of races available for the player to choose from, as long as that race is Scandinavian. The lighter the hair and the fairer the skin, the more blessed by the gods your character is. And, of course, the higher born the better. Nobles are naturally superior to the peasantry in this world. It’s the natural order of things.
Treppel also includes an image from the book, a full page describing the groups that correlate to Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Myfarog schema, which is so disgusting that Treppel declines to summarize the contents. Suffice it to say that
People of Middle Eastern and African descent are represented. They are the “filthy”, “vulgar”, “poorly educated”, “animalistic” Koparmenn (“Copper Men”). You can’t play them; they are intended to be cannon fodder. There are two varieties of Copper Men: the Skrælingr (“Weaklings”) and the Myrklingr (“Darklings”). I’m pretty sure that the Weaklings are supposed to be Semitic people, as they receive a bonus to trickery. The Darklings, meanwhile, receive a bonus to spear throwing. You can guess who they’re supposed to represent.
As Treppel points out, this summary of the “motivations for adventure” concludes with a description of a campaign in which you must defend a realm from “savage and subhuman Koparmenn and untrustworthy Eirmenn” that is indistinguishable from ethnic cleansing:
As mentioned, the game is apparently so convoluted that it’s well-nigh unplayable, so it’s just too bad if you happen to be a big fan of Nazi ideologies!
Here’s a commercial for the game from last October:
After the jump, Vikernes discusses the relationship between a survivalist worldview and RPGs…
The 1990 video game Pesterminator: The Western Exterminator is not as Burroughsian as one could hope. In fact, it’s not Burroughsian at all; it’s a disappointment in every way. The box promises nine infernal levels, the perfect number for a Dantesque descent into a rat-infested hell, but in fact the game only contains eight, one of which is the moon. Yes, the moon, from which Ronnie the Super Rat is “radiating the Earth with his powerful PEST BEAM,” causing our planet’s rats and bugs to rise up and demand what’s theirs. Do you really want to interfere with Ronnie’s project? I, for one, incline to the view that these noble species deserve their turn at the top of the food chain.
The hero of Pesterminator is the Western Exterminator mascot, the stern-looking, long-nosed person with the top hat and the hammer who overlooks L.A.‘s Hollywood Freeway and is variously known as Kernel Kleenup, Inspector Holmes, Mr. Little and the Little Man. Though he’s probably best known in the states where Western Exterminator has offices (California, Nevada, Arizona), I once saw a Kernel Kleenup figurine in a Philadelphia warehouse, and Van Halen fans will recognize his image from 1984 tour merch.
The game was produced by Color Dreams, a notorious manufacturer of unlicensed cartridges for the Nintendo Entertainment System whose subsidiary Wisdom Tree later produced many of your favorite Bible-themed video games. As an irate video game reviewer says on YouTube:
Games like Pesterminator are so horrible that they make you wonder why they were ever made at all. Who in their right mind would want to waste their time on such a futile endeavor? Color Dreams made it? Huh—well, that explains everything. They always seem to waste everybody’s time making shit, but this game is really dreadful, even for them.
“ANOTHER FINE AMERICAN MADE GAME,” the copy on the box boasts:
When you’re bugged by nasty pests, it’s time to call Kernel Kleanup [sic], the familiar character from Western Exterminator. Ronnie, the super rat, and his friends are pushing for a hostile takeover and their territories cover Houses, Office Buildings, Warehouses, Hotels, Swamps, and even the Moon. Watch out bugs, PESTERMINATOR has a big surprise waiting for you!
In the early days of the home video game console, one of the fun things that used to happen was this: you would visit your schoolmate at his mom’s condo and he would spend an hour or two “showing you how to play” his favorite games, after which it would be time for you to move on to a different activity or go home. Today, you can relive those precious moments by watching someone else play Pesterminator below. Let’s hope Ronnie and his army of plague-carriers annihilate the human race this time!
It’s quite common to come across specialized chess sets—the original Star Trek cast versus the Next Generation gang, Yankees vs. Mets, Cannonball Run, what have you. And we’ve all seen a million versions of Monopoly—actually, a million seems conservative.
Yes, it’s long past time for the remixers to branch out. Where’s our Game of Thrones version of Stratego? Or an Iron Chef take on Candy-Land? You could do a lot of satirical stuff with The Game of Life, I reckon.
Noisey has gotten off to a good start in this direction with its recently announced hip-hop adaptation of the classic game Guess Who? (Actually, I never heard of Guess Who? until today, but I’m assured it’s a classic game.) Noisey’s version is called Guess Wu? and you don’t need to be a molecular rocket surgeon to figure out that they replaced all the generic personages from that game with the dozens of colorful folks who populate the Wu-Tang Clan universe. And it’s high time, too.
The big flaw of the original Guess Who? is that the faces on the game cards were a bunch of generic (white) middle Americans that nobody playing the game gave a hoot about, but if you switch in America’s most inventive and idiosyncratic collective of top-selling hip-hop artists, well—now the game suddenly works again! When you ask, “Did this Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated rapper almost became the voice of the horse in a reboot of Mr. Ed?” everyone at the table will instantly recognize that story to involve Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Come to think of it, Ol’ Dirty Bastard would be the answer to most of the weird Wu-Tang shit I have rattling around in my head.
Noisey says they’re considering doing a giveaway, so stay tuned.
So you own all the manuals and modules and miniatures, yet still your D&D tabletop feels incomplete. Might we suggest one thing that’s sure to make you the coolest dungeon master on the block: a twenty-sided die carved out of real Pleistocene-era woolly mammoth ivory.
Woolly mammoths, huge elephant-related beasts, roamed the earth until disappearing from their mainland range at the end of the Pleistocene era, some 10,000 years ago. From time-to-time, well-preserved specimens of mammoths are discovered in the frozen bogs of the far North. So well-preserved, in fact, that 250,000-year-old woolly mammoth meat was reportedly served at the 47th Annual Explorer’s Club Dinner to a bunch of rich 1950s nerds.
Apparently the Artisan Dice company was able to get their hands on some of of these rare, well-preserved mammoth remains—specifically the tusks. From this (apparently very foul-smelling) ivory they have created a line of twenty-sided-dice for use in the role-playing game of your choice. Though their site doesn’t mention how they were able to obtain such historically significant remains to carve into RPG accessories, we’re taking their word for it that this is the real deal and that there are no preservationist directives banning the repurposing of mammoth ivory.
Mammoth ivory has some very unique characteristics hiding within its aged and flaky bark. The inner layers polish to an brilliant luster that showcase a wonderful grain in the form of a subtle cross hatch pattern, and distinctively heavy weight along with a crisp sound when rolled as a die. On top of all that, it produces one hell of a stink when worked. It’s by far one of the worst smells in the shop. Enduring that pungent aroma is well worth the results though as mammoth ivory makes some of the best dice on the planet.
The company made a run of two-dozen dice which were presented in an Eastern Aromatic Cedar box with a Black Walnut insert and priced at a meager $248.00 EACH.
They sold out of this run within 24 hours of making them available.
But never fear wealthy role-playing game and dead mammal enthusiasts, Artisan Dice promises to be preparing a second run and are currently taking pre-orders.
The mammoths didn’t make their saving throw against extinction, but their power and majesty lives on—possibly in your parents’ den—with these exquisite dice.
Pop culture is so strange. Things catch on and end up in places that couldn’t have been foreseen at the time of creation or release. Think of Ed Wood’s career, gleefully cherished by film buffs, then turned into an object of derision in movies like It Came From Hollywood but THEN transformed into an occasion for authentic poignancy by Tim Burton.
Or consider MANOS: The Hands of Fate, a schlocky occult/horror movie from 1966 that hardly made any waves when it came out (it failed to recoup its $19,000 budget).
It was directed by Harold P. Warren, an insurance and fertilizer salesman from El Paso, Texas. He starred in it as well. It played only at the Capri Theater in El Paso and a few drive-ins in West Texas and New Mexico.
In the movie, a vacationing family loses their way on a road trip and ends up trapped at a lodge in which a polygamous pagan cult has taken up residence. It’s worth reading Wikipedia’s account of the movie’s demerits: “The film is infamous for its technical deficiencies, especially its significant editing and continuity flaws; its soundtrack and visuals not being synchronized; tedious pacing; abysmal acting; and several scenes that are seemingly inexplicable or disconnected from the overall plot, such as a couple making out in a car or The Master’s wives breaking out in catfights.”
In 1993 Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran an episode about MANOS, and it’s become one of their most popular episodes: On this vote taken on a MST3K message board, the episode in which the gang riffs on MANOS clocked in as the second-best MST3K episode of all time, behind only the deliriously funny Space Mutiny episode.
In 2012 FreakZone Games released a Nintendo-ish adaptation of the game—it’s in the familiar Mario Bros. style and uses set pieces from the movie. It’s not every schlocky horror movie that gets transformed into a video game FIFTY years later, but if you get lucky, even weird things like that can happen. This year saw the release of MANOS: The Hands of Fate—Director’s Cut, an improved version of the game with cut screens—you can buy it here.
“BOREDOM MAKES YOU DO CRAZY THINGS” cap, originally $19.99, now $10
The craziest things happen and then you find out about them years later. Like how Jenny Holzer has done artwork for the Dallas Cowboys.
Yes. Jenny Holzer—the conceptual artist whose work consists entirely of cryptic slogans—works for the Dallas Cowboys. The relationship started several years ago but I only learned about it through an article published yesterday by Hyperallergic.
When the Dallas Cowboys moved into its expensive new stadium, called AT&T Stadium, for the 2009-2010 season, the Cowboys’ owner put on display a lot of splashy and expensive artworks by some grade-A artistic talents, including Trenton Doyle Hancock, Teresita Fernández, and Mel Bochner. One of the artists in the group was Jenny Holzer; she had adapted her Truisms series for the stadium’s massive new video screen, reputedly the fourth-largest in the world.
Since the 1980s, Holzer has been one of the more successful cross-over successes in terms of authentically confrontational art (whose work is also cool and reserved as fuck). Her canny deployment of koan-like, or if you prefer, fortune-cookie-ish messages in public settings, often scrolling LED displays or T-shirts, has a way of bringing uncompromisingly leftist ideas (insofar as there’s an agenda at all) into the everyday lives of Americans. For her part, as an artist probably should, Holzer rejects the label of feminist, but her work speaks for itself—especially when the work is saying things like “MOTHERS SHOULDN’T MAKE TOO MANY SACRIFICES” or “RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY,” the latter of which, interestingly, was one of the slogans she chose for her Cowboys clothing.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty badass. If you’re an artist and you can choose between putting art in MoMA and putting art in the sightlines of regular sports fans who don’t give art much or any thought, it can’t be close, to a true provocateur.
“A POSITIVE ATTITUDE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD” T-shirt, originally $24.99, now $15
“PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE” T-shirt, originally $27.99, now $15
“EXPIRING FOR LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL BUT STUPID” T-shirt, originally $24.99, now $10
“A SENSE OF TIMING IS THE MARK OF GENIUS” T-shirt, originally $27.99, now $15
“WORDS TEND TO BE INADEQUATE” cap, originally $19.99, now $10
English-speakers might say “existential despair,” among a number of different terms. Germans refer to Weltschmerz. As is often the case, the French have the perfect term to represent a somewhat intellectualized world-weariness that positively cries out for a pack of Gitanes. The term is ennui, and it’s so useful that we’ve incorporated it into our language. Using a French term gives the depression that extra bit of useless panache.
A game designer named Josh Millard has created the perfect Nintendo-style game to match that mood—it is called Ennuigi, and in it you can “spend some time with a depressed, laconic Luigi as he chain smokes and wanders through a crumbling Mushroom Kingdom, ruminating on ontology, ethics, family, identity, and the mistakes he and his brother have made.”
That’s right. You can walk left or right, but jumping? Jumping is not consistent with ennui!
Ennuigi in mid-rumination
Here’s Millard’s fuller description of the game:
This is a shot at a collection of ideas I had a few years ago, about looking critically at the universe of Super Mario Bros. in light of the total lack of explicit narrative in the original game in particular. Who are these strange men? What motivates them? By what right do they wreak the havoc they do on this strange place? What do they feel about where they are and what they’re doing?
And so, this is one lens through which to look at all that, with Luigi, the second brother, the also-ran, as a complicit onlooker, wandering now through some fractured, rotting liminal place in this strange world, reflecting on it all in scattered fragments.
The slow, tinny music is a perfect complement to this dreary, Beckettian video game.