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I would like to tell you the story of how "Heart of Glass" let me down.



I knew the song only through a late night television commercial for some random "Greatest Hits" collection. You know the commercial, or at least its kind: two or three seconds of a dozen music videos or so, mashed together in sequence, all played behind scrolling text that recounts the names of the songs in the collection (with the currently playing song highlighted). This isn't the exact one, but it's very similar. "$22.95 for two CDs, or $19.95 for two cassettes. Call now!" I was probably eleven or twelve or so when I first saw it.

The excerpt of "Heart of Glass" in the commercial was the opening four measures of the first verse ("Once I had a love, it was a gas/Soon turned out had a heart of glass"). Up until recently, these four were the only measures of the song that I had ever heard. I contend that they're four of the most evocative measures in contemporary pop music.

It all starts with Debbie Harry's nonchalant delivery—simultaneously crystalline and mumbled, it recapitulates the subject matter of the lyric from both sides. The vocal processing (just a chorus effect, I guess) and the synth warbling and the blinking lights in the background of the video all convinced me that this, this was the music of the future, even if it was from 1979. (This impression was possibly influenced by the similarity of the song's name to the Heart of Gold. I didn't know jack about pop music at the time, but I'd read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

There's also the fact that Debbie Harry's face filling the frame like a newscaster is undeniably transfixing, and that little jerk of the head that she does while singing "glass" is... weird. I don't know why she did that. Is something wrong?

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A new interview is up on autofish, which includes a link to new songs. Some of you have already heard some of these songs, but they appear here for the first time carefully sequenced and credited to a nom de plume. An "album," of sorts, though there's no cover, no liner notes, no physical media. Anyway, it's free for the taking. (I'm considering cutting ''Walk With Me'' from the rotation, since it's the most cloying and faux pastoral of the bunch. Download the thing and tell me what you think.)

Back to the interviews. Each and every one is a stimulating read. It's kind of like a nerd atlas, a map of where everyone's train went after it stopped at ZZT Station (Computer Science Street, Aspiring Novelist Park, Bring Down Capitalism Square). I look at the list of ZZT games that interviewees were working on but never finished:
  • [livejournal.com profile] casey's medieval murder mystery
  • [livejournal.com profile] emmzee's non-traditional adventure game
  • [livejournal.com profile] thedexter's "invasion of the Body Snatchers [...] all in grayscale"
  • [livejournal.com profile] wynand's six-game epic cycle
  • [livejournal.com profile] noi5e's "four-part Rashomon-like game that would require you to play through the same scenario as a plankton, a seahorse, a person and an angel"

... and, damn, I'm inspired. I want to play those games. I want to finish my futuristic/noir-style comedy about a boy genius who runs a society for the promotion of the duodecimal system. Hell, I almost want to be a member of a "company" again. (FILTERware 4evah!)

But then I remember ZZT's austerity. I don't mind the primitive graphics (see flimsy's remarks on a "world actually CONSTRUCTED of symbols"), but a programming language where you have to pretend that integers exist? That's self-flagellation. I've long since abandoned such childish things.

(I was going to ask when someone was going to interview cly5m, but it's apparently already happened.)

March 2016

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