8-Bit-Music-Theory: Creating Game Tunes

By Bryan A Westfall

During VGM Con in Minneapolis, 8-Bit Music Theory had a panel where he took the audience through writing a video game level tune with as much *theory* and as little *creativity* as possible. 35 minutes later, a sweet lava level game tune emerged!

That one time I (sort of) joined The Resistance

By Bryan A Westfall

They don’t give you an option, really.

Even if you show up in an Empire Scout Trooper ‘gang’ themed jacket and clearly long to hug every Stormtrooper in site (while whispering “Remember Endor”):

They don’t recruit you right as you enter Galaxy’s Edge, though The First Order is a lot less subtle than The Resistance in their public attempts to do so.

On either end of Batuu, you’ll find the dueling recruitment strategies. If you enter from the Toy Story area of Disney Hollywood Studios (then head towards the Blue Milk), you’ll find yourself faced with the First Order TIE Echelon:

Occasionally you’ll find it being patrolled by some First Order troops (see featured image at the top). Despite many threatening postures, my new best friends don’t make good on confiscating ‘data pads’ (phones) etc. All they see are some harmless hangers about, really (and in my case, a big fan).

On one route over to the (not very well kept) secret Resistance encampment on the other side of Batuu, you may pass this scavenger who is up to no good. Ignore her. Walk fast (as she can apparently do some pretty wild stuff with her…mind?):

If you want to stay low-key and hide inside the hustle and bustle of the Batuu marketplace instead, you’ll ultimately find yourself in the midst of some hunk of junk of a ship:

If you’re not careful, you’ll end up as part of a crew on that ship (they’re always wrangling pilots, gunners and engineers), working for some pirate-gone-good (?) named Hondo. This is the first subtle attempt to recruit for the Resistance, as the mission is to use this Millennium Falcon to shuttle supplies for them.

I will say, though, that this ship does have a pretty sweet spot to chill out and play some holo-chess:

Shame most of the time is spent being thrown around the cockpit, thanks to some amateurish pilots:

Once (if) you survive this supply mission, head towards & past the transport shuttle you see above. You’ll need to pass through some more of this marketplace (keep your head down and move quickly, as they will stop at nothing to separate you from your money):

Past this is the Resistance encampment. You’ll know you’re nearing this area when you come across the X-Wing & A-Wing Starfighters:

This is where things seem to get complicated rather quickly. Throngs of people gathered around this encampment, apparently in a desire to join the Resistance. Most were up before dawn in an attempt to join a boarding party on one of their missions.

Join them, if you can. You’ll see the First Order in all it’s glory soon enough. Not before being recruited by The Resistance, however. You *are* in their encampment, after all. That super-powered scavenger shows up again. Just keep your head down and try to blend in:

After this briefing, just ‘follow orders’ and follow the crowd. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you pass this T-70 X-wing starfighter (one of the few Resistance ships I’ve longed to fly). Don’t approach it, though. That astromech droid is *abusive* to strays:

You’ll make your way into some rickety Resistance transport, after which your boarding party will be subjected to some push & pull between them and The First Order:

The rest of the escapade is a bit of a blur, but rest assured you will be able to spend some quality time ‘in the company of’ your First Order friends, as well as with some ‘higher ups’ in interrogation:

The Resistance is pesky, and appears to enjoy inciting chaos. Your journey will ultimately be your own, but I’ll leave you with some images from the chaos I endured (taken under duress):

Ultimately, any time spent with ‘family’ is time well spent…in my opinion. Chosen family, or otherwise:

My New Family ❤️

runDisney Announcement Coming 6/30/21!

Thanks, runDisney.

Thanks for saving the announcement of the announcement for only one day prior, to keep the speculation in my head from going on for too long.

Would seven months notice be typical for the WDW Marathon weekend, which typically lands in January?

Just please please please don’t ‘compete’ with Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim in late May!

🤞

Film Wars: The Rise of Home Theater

By Bryan A Westfall

It is a dark time for movie fans. Although some theater chains have put common sense rules of etiquette in place, terribly behaved humans are driving civilized movie fans from their comfy theater recliners, and have taken over the joint.

Evading the dreaded texting/talking nincompoops, legions of well behaved folks, led by common sense and courtesy, have established a new base to view their filmed entertainment on the remote comfortable world of their own dang living rooms.

The behemoth theater chains, obsessed with getting butts back in their seats, have dispatched some of the most comfortable, heated, reclining, bring-food-right-to-your-seat theaters ever known in this galaxy….

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I made a few resolutions for 2020. At the top of the list is “See Zero Films In Movie Theaters” (which I failed already, since you can’t say no to Star Wars with your nephew). That was followed closely by something currently lurking in my Amazon cart called a “Big Ass TV“…or something of that sort.

Humans are terrible at going to movies. Those of us who fancy ourselves as titans of movie going etiquette (which really only takes a dose of common sense and courtesy), can hardly stand by as the terribly behaved ‘adults’ ruin the experience of seeing films on the big screen.

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Before you start to nod your head in agreement with me, ask yourself the following questions:

Have you ever waited for that brief quiet space between trailers to state very loudly if you are going to see or not going to see it?

Have you ever, just as a trailer starts, exclaim loudly ‘OH, that’s (name of movie being shown in trailer)’?

Have you ever brought individually wrapped candies to be opened alllllll throughout the film?

Have you ever thought you had a unique ability to open your phone during a film in a manner where nobody would see it and be distracted from the film?

Have you ever shown up to a film 5 minutes after it’s started, and acted like you’ve never learned to navigate a very very basic letter/number seating system?

Have you ever waited for the quiet moments in the film to open or rattle through your movie snack? 

Have you ever started talking spoilers regarding a big event film on your way out of the theater on opening night, as you pass others who are in their way to see it?

Have you ever thought “I paid for this ticket, I can do anything I want“?

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If you answered yes to toooo many of these (especially that last one), I’m afraid you’re part of the reason why the home theater market is booming…and why I won’t be joining you at the theaters any more this year. You can have it.

If it were before 2020, I might have struggled more to abstain. However, with the Avengers coming to a close along with the Skywalker Saga, there isn’t anything upcoming that I simply must see in a theater.

I’ll be that guy waiting for films to be released on digital…to view from the comfort (and quiet) of my living room. Not to worry, I won’t be crying about spoilers a month after a films release. I’ve made my own bed -I mean- recliner.

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FAVS OF 2019!

By Bryan A Westfall

In previous years on twitter, I’ve enjoyed throwing up my fav 4 from a few entertainment categories for that year. Four because you can only add four pictures to a tweet. Packing four into one forced me to boil everything down to a smaller list than an easy 10 (I mean, who can’t choose 10?).

This year is a little different. I’ll still be sticking with four (out of tradition), but am extending the performance category to have one each for both film and TV. Too much talent this time around! I’m also featuring these lists here first! Let’s do this! 

FAV 4 TV PERFORMANCES OF 2019! 

I’m starting with this category because Regina King deserves to be the absolute first to appear on this entire list of fav’s.

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As Angela/Sister Night on HBO’s ‘Watchmen’, Ms. King covers a staggering amount of emotional ground for one season of television…and does so in a tangible & immensely entertaining way. Tough to go into more without stepping into spoilers. Judging by the finale, it appears she’ll thankfully remain a focal point going into the next season!

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Also on HBO, a much different performance had me enthralled this season thanks to the amazing Nicholas Braun.

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As the lovable Cousin Greg on ‘Succession’, Nicholas brought a surprising believability to a character who is at the same time a total dolt and savvy corporate/family/social climber (there’s definitely a little more to it than him ‘falling forward’). Can’t wait to see how things shake out for Greg after that finale.

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Over on Amazon Video, Antony Starr had viewers cringing for Oh. So. Many. Reasons.

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As Homelander on ‘The Boys‘, Mr Starr plays a super-powered guy, but he’s definitely no hero. “Never Meet Your Heroes“, indeed. With Homelander’s public face trusted and admired around the world, and the private one so dangerous and vile…I would definitely be a tad uncomfortable coming across this actor on the street. A great example of “The Fact That I Hate You Is a Compliment” syndrome.

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Also on Amazon Video, Burn Gorman brought life to a character who already had this book reader in complete hate…and somehow inflamed it (same compliment as above).

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As Adolphus Murtry on season 4 of ‘The Expanse‘, Mr. Gorman somehow perfectly brings to life the complex, hateable, & dog-headedly pragmatic (at times deadly so) head of security on…well, I’ll stop there if you’re well behind on this show. Trust me when I say you’re gonna love to hate him.

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FAV 4 FILM PERFORMANCES OF 2019! 

Just give Song Kang-ho all of any award he qualifies for, and even all of the one’s he doesn’t.

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As Ki-taek (father of the conniving Kim household) in ‘Parasite‘, he grabs you with his infectious spirit right from the beginning of this film. Then, he does not let go as he takes you on a roller coaster of emotion through this very suprising tale.

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The advertising 100% buried the importance of Ana de Armas‘ character in this next film (which isn’t a spoiler, as it likely just deliberately featured more famous actors to sell the film).

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As Marta Cabrera in ‘Knives Out’, she displays a very big and very tangible heart on her sleeve. From the jump, you’re taken in by Ana’s ultra-genuine performance, which somehow makes her stand out from the greats in this film and makes you…well…again I’ll stop to avoid spoilers for now.

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This one took me by no surprise, having combed over every second of Richard E. Grant‘s performance in ‘Withnail & I‘ a hundred or so times. Second only to the performance, was the actors very clear enthusiasm to play this role.

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As General Pryde in ‘Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker‘, Mr Grant brings a menace to the galactic bad guy military ranks that rivals Governor Tarkin himself. It’s an utter shame that he will only haunt us in one of these installments, but at least we have that.

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You’d think going into this satire featuring friggin’ Taika as Hitler, that he’d be the clear standout. Nope (don’t get me wrong, though, he’s great). It was Thomasin McKenzie who has viewers perk up and pay even more attention when she arrives.

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As Elsa in ‘JoJo Rabbit‘, Ms. Mckenzie is a force. Elsa is too much for JoJo to handle, to be sure, but she’d also give plenty of adults a run for their money if needed. A ton of spirit & heart in this performance that sticks with you.

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FAV 4 TV SHOWS OF 2019! 

Big ol’ surprise. A show that has been on my “FAV” lists since I started making them.

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What can I say about “The Expanse” season 4 other than watch episode 9 (after the others, obviously). Do so and you’ll see why that episode alone would put this wonderful show on my top shows of the year (or any dang year). For a reader of these books, a bonus was the show being perfectly matched tonally to this story in the book. So many wonderful characters and performances to flesh this season out! Production has already begun for season 5, but no release date (fingers crossed for the end of 2020).

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Even with HBO’s great track record of some of my fav’s, I had a small amount of hesitancy about how they were going to treat this one. Leaning on the film to much, or not tying to it at all (which would be a shame).

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Thankfully, season 1 of ‘Watchmen‘ found the perfect balance. It had it’s own identity & story, which happens to be based in the same world as the film (with the events taking place well after and well before). I’d liken it to the former Netflix Marvel series a bit. It takes a much more detailed look at one community (Tulsa, here…like NY was for those Marvel shows) and shows how the larger picture of the film events effected that smaller community. Cannot wait for season 2 (which doesn’t yet have a release date).

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I have no idea why I started watching this show. It was likely something I picked up in the wake of ‘Big Little Lies‘ (RIP). Boy, am I glad I did.

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If you enjoy anxious sweats as much as I do (what is wrong with me?), HBO’sSuccession‘ is for you. Come for the powerhouse that is Brian Cox (Logan, head of the Roy family mega-media empire), and stay for Nicholas Braun (Cousin Greg…you’ve been introduced), and Kieran Culkin (as Roman, one of Logan’s many opportunistic children). Season 3 is due late Summer 2020.

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I was expecting a completely different group to be the titular characters in this show, as much of the advertising had the ‘superheroes’ front & center.

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Instead, we got the lot pictured above…and nobody is complaining. On Amazon Video‘s ‘The Boys‘ I’m glad the actual good guys (with one new addition coming in season 2) get to carry the shows banner, as the superheroes are too twisted to deserve it (save a few…for now). Karl Urban is always such a joy to watch, as is each addition to this corrupted-superhero-hunting crew. If you’re more of a ‘love to hate’ fan, don’t fret. The group of nasty ‘Supers’ in this show called ‘The Seven‘ have you very well covered (see Antony Star listed above). No official release date for season 2.

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FAV 4 FILMS OF 2019! 

This film is a GD masterpiece. I’ll echo what the critic says on this image, that it’s one of the best films of the decade.

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I went into Bong Joon Ho‘s ‘Parasite‘ thinking it was one thing (weirdly, a monster film…which it’s not in any way at all), and it turned out to be so many other much greater & amazing things. This couldn’t have been better written, directed, or cast. The sneaky thing about this dark comedy/family thriller/drama (without spoiling anything, I promise), is that the characters never give away anything they’re capable of till in the moment.

There’s no ‘tip of the hat’ that this will go anywhere it does, or any time you’ll think ‘Oh, that’s that type of character’ or ‘this type of story’ till anything actually happens. A slow unwrapping of characters & story that you will not see coming.

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When it come’s to Hitler and Nazi Germany, tread very very lightly, am I right? How this film succeeds at not offending is incredible (at a minimum, the filmmakers are relying on a basic understanding & appreciation of satire).

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Adapted from the novel ‘Caging Skies‘, director & screenwriter Taika Waititi created ‘Jojo Rabbit‘. It’s one of the funniest, most touching tales I’ve experienced in a very long time. He brought along an amazing cast to help, headed up by Roman Griffin Davis as ‘Jojo’ (his first ever role). He’s joined by his imaginary ‘friend’ Hitler (!!!…played by Taika), his mother (played by Scarlett Johansson, who will melt your heart) and his new (real) ‘friend’ Elsa (played by Thomasin McKenzie. You’ve been introduced).

This film manages to invest in each character you’re introduced to in some way, rather than just splash character types across the screen till the films end. The result is something very real feeling (and one with real consequences). It’s one of the few films I’ve seen in the last decade that I would call important.

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Whodunnnnnnit? 

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Rian Johnson dunnit. That’s who. Well, he and the rest of this (unfairly) incredible cast of ‘Knives Out‘ did. In my efforts to know as little as possible about a film before seeing it, I am often taken by surprise by what a film actually is (remember that ‘monster’ film ‘Parasite’?). Avoiding as much as I could, I went in thinking I was going to see some fights, but this plays out perfectly in the aftermath of a thing.

Utilizing an investigation of said thing to introduce all of these wonderful characters was a master stroke, and perfectly pulled off. The notes struck by each of these characters were just right. Ana de Armas (you’ve been introduced) was the absolute standout, and I never knew I was such a fan of Daniel Craig till I heard him speak in that accent (he is a delight). Shout out to Chris Evans (!!!) and his sweater.

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The Skywalker Saga has come to a close. The newest tug of war in a Galaxy Far Far Away has it’s victor.

NOT AT ALL SURPRISING (AND BENIGN) SPOILER AHEAD

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In ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘, the victors are obviously the good guys (end of ‘spoilers’). but it’s also J.J. Abrams & this cast (with amazing newcomers!) for creating my fav of this last trilogy. There is an ebb and flow that the stakes in this film ride on which will keep you awake & alert no matter how late (or early) you decide to see it.

You get more of a glimpse into the characters you already know (ah, Finn & OH, Palpatine), and you’re introduced to some new supporting players (who in my opinion stole the show). Most notably, Richard E. Grant as ‘General Pryde‘ (you’ve been introduced), as well as Kerri Russel as ‘Zorii Bliss‘ (I’d be quite keen to watch a Disney+ series featuring either of these characters backstory).

There are a few small (in stature) characters that it’s a darn shame we won’t get more of. A tiny but very important creature named ‘Babu Frik‘ will have you forgetting about that Baby Yoda for a minute (trust me), and the newest little droid ‘D-0‘ will wrap you around his (non existent) finger the first time he gives a very relatable ‘N-No, thank you!’.

There is closure for the Skywalkers, but I’ll leave that there for now to avoid real spoilers. My own Skywalker closure came back in 1983, but I’m glad I was able to see the generation that came after Luke, Leia, & Han helped make sure the bad guys were down and stayed down.

A tribute to them, this new trilogy was.

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Bring it on, 2020! Let’s see what you got!