• "The writing I enjoy doing most, every year, is marginalia: spontaneous bursts of pure, private response to whatever book happens to be in front of me. It’s the most intimate, complete, and honest form of criticism possible — not the big wide-angle aerial shot you get from an official review essay, but a moment-by-moment record of what a book actually feels like to the actively reading brain. Here are some snapshots, month by month, of my marginalia from 2010." Marvellous stuff from Anderson – funny, wry, hard to argue with. I am not good at marginalia, resorting to dog-earing the bottom of a page, and later, trying to remember why.
  • "If Love Actually (2003) is of any worth whatsoever, other than to help DFS sell leather sofas every 5 minutes on boxing day evening, it is as the full stop at the end of an era in British cultural and political history that we should probably not mourn. I would suggest that the era in question lasted from 1992-2003, between John Major's General Election victory (and immediate capitulation to the foreign exchange markets) and the Iraq War. John Major originally coined the phrase to define this era: "a nation at ease with itself". Richard Curtis erected its most banal and characteristically saccharin monuments." This is great.
  • "In recent years we've seen plenty of criticism (including mine) leveled at video games that rehash old ideas; games that rely on genre formulas; games that ape the language of film. Games, we're often told, need new ideas. Games need to grow up. Games should leverage their defining interactivity. Cutscenes are lazy. Let movies be movies. Players want to write their own stories. Games don't need authored narratives. Games don't need linear stories. Games don't need stories. All games should be fun. No they shouldn't.

    The problem with these reductive arguments is they fail to account for how art rails against boundaries; how artists inevitably seek to situate their work in the margins no one can own. Artists instinctively push back against "don't," "shouldn't," and "must." This is why we give them genius grants. It's also why we put them in prison. The real action is in the margins." Good stuff from Michael.

  • "It's true that Wyndham's preference is for no-nonsense, brisk, wry narrators, and the horrors that visit the books can seem like opportunities to show off good old British pluck. But the books are surprisingly unheroic, and often (notably in the cases of Kraken and Triffids) peculiarly open-ended. And if you look closely, you begin to see that there's something very uncosy, persistently unsettling, about these books, that continues to ask profound questions about the limits of our culture and the foundations of the post-war world."
  • "We’re happy to confirm the news today that the sale of the company is complete. We appreciate all of your support, comments and warm wishes in the preceding few weeks.

    Viacom and MTV Networks have been an amazing home for us over the past 4 years. It’s where we launched both Rock Band and Dance Central, worked with The Beatles, Green Day, AC/DC, The Who and thousands of other artists. We want to take a moment to thank everyone in that organization who helped make these awesome games possible.

    We’re excited to be returning to our roots as an independent and privately owned studio."

    Brilliant news.

  • "In an astonishing move, the European Com mis sion (EC) has reversed a decision made in a UK tax tribunal, and refused to classify works by Dan Flavin and Bill Viola as “art”. This means that UK galleries and auction houses will have to pay full VAT (value added tax, which goes up to 20% next year) and customs dues on video and light works, when they are imported from outside the EU. The decision is binding on all member states." Very sad.
  • "Immanentizing the papernet." Mike Migurski's blog about paper things. Already, so much good stuff here.
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  • Music sequencing by drawing small towns: things by roads are noises; cars are your cursor. Currently in Flash; coming out for iOS soon. Worth checking out some of the best examples to see what's possible. It's a bit fiddly, but utterly delightful
  • "Steven Strogatz, an award-winning professor, takes readers from the basics to the baffling in a 15-part series on mathematics. Beginning with a column on why numbers are helpful, he goes on to investigate topics including negative numbers, calculus and group theory, finishing with the mysteries of infinity." Lovely series of online articles at the NYT explaining maths. Lots of good stuff.
  • "Street Fighter is about everything games are about – all you’ve learned about positioning and strategy, every reaction tightened by every sudden twitch of your trigger fingers, every educated guess made at your opponent’s next move – all played out in a simple two-dimensional box where you test everything you’ve ever known about videogames. Street Fighter IV is the same old game of two-dimensional space control, strategy, and flat-out mind reading but it took whopping great polygons in an old-fashioned game to take a 2D fighter back to the masses." This is all true.

Links & notes for this month