I need something explained to me, because it is infuriating. I continuously encounter people who wholly disregard music from games like Journey or Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted, so on, so forth, just because it’s “video game music”. Most of them then proceed to crank some kind of techno or dubstep garbage that arguably sounds more like stereotypical “video game music” than anything that’s actually been in most games for the last 20 years. Hell, a lot of what they then put on actually samples old video games. 

I way listening to the track linked above. It’s “I Was Born For This” by Austin Wintory from the game Journey. Someone asked what it was when it finished. They seemed genuinely interested, so I obliged. When I mentioned it’s origin, they immediately said “Oh, it’s from a video game, it’s not real music.” They then proceeded to blast “ZenZero” by Thriftworks. Go ahead and listen.

Music is highly personal, I understand that. I’m not even opposed to music like Thriftworks (though, arguably, some of it is pretty terrible but that’s true of anything), but to totally discount entire works of brilliantly arranged, composed, and performed music just because it appeared in a video game, regardless of it’s content or merits, especially when the argument is backed by the music linked above, is so asinine to me it defies description.

Somewhere Else To Be

Start

INT. STARBUCKS – SEBASTOPOL, CA – EARLY AFTERNOON

A man in his early 30’s is sitting in the back corner of the café, staring at his computer screen while sipping coffee. He has headphones in and is fading between where the music takes him and where he is at the moment. It’s obvious he’s been there a while (banana peel, napkin, empty sandwich bag) and is struggling with what he’s trying to write. This is because he’s trying to write about where he is, and he’s not even sure how he got there.

Well, that’s kind of a lie. I know exactly how I got here, but to get into it is to recap the entirety of 2012. Fortunately, that’s what this post is for.

data

Normally, at the end of the year I do a huge “human metrics” post. Last year I broke down tons of data about the previous year, everything from total text messages sent to minutes of music listened to. This year has been a little crazy, so I’m going to switch things up a bit. Some old numbers, some new numbers, some recap, so on and so forth. Along the way, hopefully, it will become clear how I ended up in a tiny highway town in California writing this.


Music:

TRON: Legacy

I’m going to start with music this year since it played (as always) a huge role in my life. At the end of last year I reset my iTunes play-count numbers and started fresh for 2013. Here are the Top 5 songs I listened to in 2013 based on number of total plays in my iTunes/iPod and Google Music.

  1. Setting Sail, Coming Home – Darren Korb
    • Total Plays: 647
    • Song Length: 2:55m
    • Total Time: 1887m / 31.5h / 1.3d

The End Theme from Bastion stands as my top track this year. It was my theme for the beginning of the year and stuck with me through most of it. Ethereal and haunting, with lyrics that resonated exactly how I felt at the start of 2012. Note: The version above clocks in at 3:36m even though the album version is 2:55m.


  1. Iron – Woodkid
    • Total Plays: 604
    • Song Length: 3:10m
    • Total Time: 1912.6m / 31.8h / 1.3d

My #1 from last year moves to #2. It’s here for the same reasons: brooding, powerful, and a brilliant lyrical journey.


<a href=”http://music.biggiantcircles.com/album/max-effect” data-mce-href=”http://music.biggiantcircles.com/album/max-effect”>Max Effect by Big Giant Circles</a>

  1. ArmageddoN7 – Big Giant Circles
    • Total Plays: 563
    • Song Length: 4:26m
    • Total Time: 2871.3m / 47.8h / 1.9d

Jimmy Hinson’s incredible tribute to Mass Effect comes in at #3 this year. This track is astoundingly inspiring, a nostalgia driven love letter to everything that is the experience of ME. It tears me in half though, since on one hand it inspires me to be be creative and productive and on the other, it makes me want to just play Mass Effect.


  1. Melting Sun – Pyro Paper Planes
    • Total Plays: 522
    • Song Length: 5:12m
    • Total Time: 2714.4m / 45.2h / 1.8d

This track came out of nowhere. It’s originally “Rundas Theme” from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, rearranged and performed on solo piano by Christopher Foss for the Metroid tribute album “Harmony of a Hunter”. It’s both deeply haunting and serene at the same time. I’d never heard it prior to this arrangement, but it is now easily one of my favorites.


  1. Too Close – Alex Clare
    • Total Plays: 463
    • Song Length: 4:17m
    • Total Time: 1983.2m / 33.1h / 1.4d

Pretty obvious that this track would be on this list given that the current version of my website is themed after the song. It’s here because the lyrics resonate so closely with my life, though not because I have said them, but because they have been said to me.


Once again, “Faded Memories – Promyvion” by Naoshi Mizuta get’s a free pass because I fall asleep to it.

In the Album department, the Assassin’s Creed 2 Original Soundtrack by Jesper Kyd stands far and away the most listened to. In fact, the 2012 playtime for the entire album clocks in around 25 full days. Runner up goes to the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Original Soundtrack by Jesper Kyd and Lorne Bafle. If it’s not obvious, I really love the music of Jesper Kyd and Assassin’s Creed. They are masterpieces of modern composition that resonate with me and have a unique ability to just take me somewhere else entirely, no matter where I am.

Other tracks of note this year include:

  • You Know My Name – Chris Cornell
  • Stopwatch Hearts – Delerium
  • Derezzed – Daft Punk
  • Blood On My Name – The Brothers Bright
  • Heartlines – Florence and The Machine

I also wrote about music this year for a website other than my own. Dig That Radio was a look into the amazingly diverse world of video game music, it’s impact on a generation, and a little of it’s modern evolution. Even just since it’s publishing, my library has dramatically increased in size. There were a lot of incredible video game releases this year and the music that accompanied them was just as amazing. Some stand-outs I added to my collection this year were:


Movies:

TRON: Legacy

Like last year, I didn’t keep a running tally of all the movies I watched. 2012 is notable though since it is the year that my default, go-to, movie changed.  For nearly 20 years, the film I can watch over and over without it getting old, or will watch when I can’t decide what to watch, has been Hackers. Last year though it officially changed to TRON: Legacy. Others in my regular rotation still include Casino Royale,  Sucker Punch, Scott Pilgrim, and Transformers: The Movie (1986). Beyond that tidbit, I didn’t actually see a lot of movies in theaters this year and there are still have some big ones I need to get around to.

Some of the movies I saw this year include:

Some of the movies I didn’t see, but still plan on seeing include:

Special Mention: Uncharted 1/2/3 [The Movie]. Andy Gilleand will forever have my undying respect for his film treatments of the Uncharted Series. I’ve never played any of these games (no PS3), but I watched these movies over and over all year. They are worth your time.


Travel:

TRON: Legacy

Unsurprisingly, I traveled a lot this year. I started the year in Dennis, MA watching the first sunrise and ended it in Oakland, CA at a Erykah Badu concert. Between those two events I criss-crossed the United States no less than 5 times. Highlights along the way included:

Running a café in Maynard, MA, photographing surfers in St. Augustine, FL, riding trains to Charleston, SC, photographing PAX East in Boston, MA, attending a graduation in Albuquerque, NM, partying with Cirque du Soleil performers in Las Vegas, NV, climbing the side of a hotel in Reno, NV, watching the solar eclipse from Independence, CA, finding a creepy old abandoned town in Goldfield, NV, camping under the stars in Yosemite National Park, riding bikes on the beach in Santa Monica, CA, breaking into a crazy old abandoned race track in Goodyear, AZ, getting to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO, wandering all over Pittsburgh, PA, catching up with all the amazing folks from TG in Brooklyn, NY, riding the Cape Cod Rail Trail, spending by birthday in a basement in Omaha, NE (not exactly a highlight), photographing an amazing wedding and driving through the mountains of Seattle, WA and Port Angeles, WA, whale watching in Newburyport, MA, attending my best friend’s wedding in Santa Cruz, CA, meditating on top of  a mountain with a yogi in Cazadero, CA, photographing artists in San Francisco, CA, and helping a friend move into a new house in Sebastopol, CA.

So here I am. This is just a handful (maybe 2) of the places I ended up this past year. In total? 37 States and about 32,000 miles of road, rail, and sky.


Can’t Go Home Again:

Can't Go Home Again

So, this isn’t nearly as much data as last year, but without context it’s still just data. As I mentioned, I began the year in my home state of Massachusetts. It’s not where I had intended to end up, but, well, it’s par for the course at this point. I’ve detailed before that I’m not really a fan of the state, especially in winter, so I won’t get into it here. It was a carry over from the year before… a crazy year. My café “job” was mediocre, more of a way to pass the time and help out a friend who really needed it. When the chance came to head to St. Augustine, FL to help out another friend, I took it without much hesitation. My time in Florida really opened the door to an opportunity to travel across the country again. The only real obligations I had on my plate were my wedding gig in Washington in July and my best friends wedding in Santa Cruz, CA in in Sept. As long as I ended up in those places at those times, the road was wide open. After Sept. I really didn’t have any kind of direction in mind and found myself, once again, back in Massachusetts to help out with the funeral of a close family friend. Beyond that, I didn’t have much of anything. My resources were dwindling and I knew I had to make some kind of move. Anything was better than wasting away in another New England winter. In November I decided to get on a flight and just head west. I knew myself well enough that I could pretty much drop into anything and be ok, and I had to do something to get some momentum building.

All of this gave me the chance to continue the journey I had started in 2010 after returning to the states from Paris; To travel around, visit my friends, make new ones, and really study how other people live compared to how I feel I should be living. The past 18 months or so have really been an exploration of values.

I so often found myself asking “Are my personal values really so different?” when experiencing how other people live, so I decided to start a list of everything I encountered that just seemed way off the mark to me. I lived through other people’s priorities and value systems, I studied them, and compared them to my own. I’ll have to admit though, aside from a few core values, my list was not very long. I knew more about what I didn’t like than what I did. Along the way I had dozens of conversations about why people live the way they do. I’ve experienced all ends of the spectrum along the way, from people in my life who are just as diverse. From ardent firearm’s rights supporters to pacifist yogis, starving artists to super-wealthy CEOs, devoted collectors to lifestyle minimalists, astoundingly humble to insanely egotistical, people secure and sincere about who they are and people who live the most duplicitous of lives, and everything in between. It turned into a study of not just the “how” they live, but also the “why”.

It’s been an interesting trip. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, lost friends, learned a lot of lessons, gained new friends, and, most of all, ended up with a much greater insight about who exactly I am and what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.


Recognizer:

Recognizer

So now that I find myself close to the end of that journey, the real decision is what to do next. I have a much clearer vision of how I want to live and why I want to live that way. Even though I started 2013 making a lot of the same mistakes I always have, I did so on purpose, with a clear understanding of exactly what I was doing. Six days in and I’m already starting to turn that around though. They were my final burn down to zero. Now it’s time to really get the ball rolling back in the correct direction. To get things lined up and start living how I want really to, with clear values, purpose, and goals. San Francisco is the start of that, but who really knows where I’ll end up. This new journey is just starting.


Is there somewhere else to be?
Is there somewhere else to be?
Take me in
I want out
That’s all I need


Addendum: This whole personal mission would have been impossible without some of the truly extra ordinary people in my life, for good or bad. So “Thank You” to Troy, Marc, Peter, Jean, Brea, Kerith, Rachael, Kira, Paul, Caitlin, Constanza, Stephen, Nina, Josh, and everyone else who has made this an insane and enlightening 2 years.

Somewhere Else To Be

Start

INT. STARBUCKS – SEBASTOPOL, CA – EARLY AFTERNOON

A man in his early 30’s is sitting in the back corner of the café, staring at his computer screen while sipping coffee. He has headphones in and is fading between where the music takes him and where he is at the moment. It’s obvious he’s been there a while (banana peel, napkin, empty sandwich bag) and is struggling with what he’s trying to write. This is because he’s trying to write about where he is, and he’s not even sure how he got there.

Well, that’s kind of a lie. I know exactly how I got here, but to get into it is to recap the entirety of 2012. Fortunately, that’s what this post is for.

Continue reading

Dig That Radio

Dig That Radio

Dig That Radio [Featured]

DTR Header

Ok, so this is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while now. It’s going to be long and it’s going to be about a topic that is both generally universal and intensely personal. Music. Specifically, video game music, both original and inspired by, some of which will be included along the way. So feel free to fire up some of your favorite tunes, or jam on some of the ones here, grab a snack, and let’s jump in.

Continue reading