John Walker's Electronic House

^ _ ^ Music

by on Nov.01, 2005, under The Rest

Charity linked me to this excellent radio station last night. They were playing excellent, amusing obscure songs, linked by a cute Canadian girl rambling enticingly. Songs like, oh, how about the theme music from Bubble Bobble remixed. Oh yes.

As the song played, I found myself becoming nervous that at any moment the music would speed up, and the terrifying white skull of DEATH would appear. A powerfully visceral response. And then as I worried it, it happened. And I realised, I have only one way to describe the monstrosity that would appear when Alastair Caple and I would take too long on a level: The Hurry Up Monster.

“Quickly, the Hurry Up Monster will come in a second!” one of our ten year-old mouths would cry in fear, dreading the abrupt violence of the evil beast, as it ripped across the screen in sweeping diagonals, ethereally passing through the platforms without care. It was our imminent death, supported by its crazed music, driving our joystick fingers into a frenzy of baddy consumption, hoping against hope that an umbrella would maybe fall. The Hurry Up Monster. He has no other name.

Which set me thinking about the other piece of long term damage computer games caused me in my youth. Brought up playing text adventures, literally on my father’s knee, I was introduced to the concept of adventure games from the earliest possible age. (We would playtest them for Level 9, the game I specifically remember proofing at the age of probably eight being Ingrid’s Back). There was a convention in text adventures that you only needed to type in the first four letters of any word. If you wanted to get the bucket, you’d type,


But very few of the input commands were longer than four letters. GET, PICK, LOOK, MOVE, PUSH, PULL, OPEN… And EXAM. Throughout my childhood, I believed the word ‘exam’ to mean not only a test, but also to examine. “I’ll exam the piece of paper for clues,” was a perfectly acceptable sentence. And the thing is, it still is. I have no problem with that – ‘exam’ means look. It just does. I’m not sure I should be too widely chastised for this infant-stupidity living on into adulthood – exam as we understand it is obviously an abbreviation of ‘examination’ – it’s all the same etymology. I don’t see why I shouldn’t keep it.

The station, Less Than 3, continued to play excellent obscurities. Charity and I enjoyed the emitting madness. And then, after peculiar covers, odd remixes, and unsigned bands, there came from nowhere… Journey – Don’t Stop Believein’.

Here’s the new rule. ALL films MUST end with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believein’ playing over the credits. And more specifically, ALL films MUST finish with the cast turning to look at one another, laughing, and then freeze-framing, with Journey fading in. Without exception.

I don’t care if it’s a movie about the plight of an oppressed people and their eventual slaughter – whoever’s alive by the end must turn, laugh, and freeze. “…Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world…”

And retrospectively too. End of Shadowlands, Anthony Hopkins must see the lighter side of the death of his wife, turn to camera, laugh, and freeze. “..He took the midnight train goin’ aaaaaaaaaneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewhere…”

All Quiet On The Western Front. As the 15/16 year olds march over the fields, superimposed over the graves of the 17/18 year olds we’ve just spent three hours watching die, they must find that certain pluck, turn, laugh, freeze, “…It goes on and on and on and on…”

We discovered as we listened that we were two of only 32 people tuning in. The station’s a week old, and is pleasingly amateur. Anyway, if everyone here tuned in, it would not only give them a shock, but you might find yourself with some splendid nonsense to listen to/write about.

10 Comments for this entry