My bread and butter...

…has been twofold on these draining late-summer days.

FirstN-Game, an insidiously difficult platform jumper, reminiscent of old NES games, both in the frustration factor and skill quotient. The tiny flash gem contains a fully functioning physics system, responsive enemies, death-defying jumps and 500 levels (5 per episode). Plus, custom made user levels can be downloaded, along with replays.

Be sure to check out the DDA levels (“don’t do anything”), where the combination of jumps, slopes and gravity propel our hero (without pressing a key!) through the devilish gauntlet of rockets, laser beams and bone-breaking falls.

Second, the rambunctious rumblings of a fro-haired duo hailing from El Paso Texas: The Mars Volta.

Pitchfork panned them, and I had my doubts upon the initial listen. But after numerous binge-fests (accompanied by god’s herbal gift), their swirling and varied melodies became ingrained. Pavlovian, I say, harkening those twisted thought patterns initially devised sans sobriety. Indeed, these tunes themselves are intoxicants. Two records: De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute, both equally impressive, though the latter a bit more varied – check out the 30 minute Cassandra Geminni. Be sure to screw your head back on when you emerge for air, breathless from the onslaught of “outstanding space-prog-Latin-jazz-rock” as one Amazon reviewer appropriately remarked. Criticism arises from the sprawling balls-out unorganized format – these dudes eschew conventionality. The jist of the pitchfork venom: “they try to be prog but don’t follow the prog format.” Well, duh? Same thing happened to Tool’s Lateralus: 70-minute genre-raping albums impinge on Pitchfork’s territory of pretentious elitism, catalyzing rabid snootiness. Regardless, I’m a convert, and fuck Brent DiCrescenzo.

In other news (tertiary to the discussion of daily entertainment sustenance) I ripped some bits off the net that miraculously assembled into Teisto’s In Search of Sunrise 4. The production is exquisite – Kanye West has nothing on these Europeans – Tiesto can juggle multi-layered samples, breezy vocals and gentle tempo changes without missing a (very literal) beat. But I’ve been out of straight trance for a few years now, and I can’t help but think the Ibiza tones and beats are a bit dull by now. ‘Course, X isn’t my vice of choice, and I’m not soaking in the Mediterranean sun (as I was doing last year, /frown). But I’d rather be warped by Rodriguez-Lopez’s guitar than bludgeoned to death by digital drum machines – at least the imagery melds with my current smoky aesthetic.

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