Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Old school gaming lives
Beyond the wall
By Whitney Pow I Daily Fine Arts Editor
By ANDREW SARGUS KLEIN
Daily Arts Writer
Mar. 20, 2008 - My "Scrabulous"
stats show that I've played six
games of the popular Facebook.
com application and have lost all
of them. Three of my four current
games are looking the same way.
The thing is, I don't care. "Scra-
bulous" is my mostfrequent online
distraction. I just can't get enough
of the mental grind. Granted, it's
obviously aping "Scrabble," and it
was documented on the front page
of The New York Times on March
2 (below the fold, but still) with
due cause. You can't deny it looks
like a copyright violation all the
way to the hilt.
Regardless, it's an all-consum-
ing addiction. (Scene: four apart-
ment mates, four laptops, a lot of
swearing and whooping and out-
cries of "triple-word score moth-
erfuckers.") Remember "Snood,"
with all those smiling faces and
endless hours on "Pentagon City"?
And there's "Minesweeper," "Sol-
itaire" and "Hearts" for you PC
pagans, chess for Macsters and
beer pong (as opposed to double
martinis) and pinball for you ana-
The point is, simplicity mat-
ters - and it's addicting. Facebook
applications are milking this
adage for all it's worth: "Scra-
bulous," "The New York Times
News Quiz," "Chess Pro," that
geography game/vacuum of time
and relevance, etc., ad nauseum.
If a game is familiar and/or easy
to master, then it's nearly set to go
viral - regardless of whether it's on
Facebook or not. When the basics
of gaming fascination are tapped
into, who knows what to expect.
Case in point (for the time
being): "Crayon Physics Deluxe."
At February's Game Develop-
ers Conference in San Francisco,
Petri Purho, a 24-year-old Hel-
sinki Polytechnic Stadia student
in Finland, received a good chunk
of positive feedback for his low-fi,
low-intensity creation. Designed
for tablet laptops, the program
has the simple premise of making
a ball hit a star. The caveat is that
you need to draw boulders, bridg-
es and swinging pendulums in
simpler is better.
order to coax the ball to its target.
It's all simple physics - gravity and
force, momentum and fulcrums.
The official video is a little over-
done with deep, sensual "Oriental
ambient" music, but the seed of
a legitimate point is there: Take
pleasure in the simple things and
master the fundamentals of sci-
ence - you know, something deep
Remember TI-83 graphing cal-
culators? As a history of art major,
I haven't owned a calculator since
high school, but damn do I miss
"Drug Wars" and "Racer." Simple
codes, simple premises, hours of
See OLD SCHOOL, Page 23
a fine line in
Feb. 21, 2008 - Let's admire a
wall for a moment. It's made of red
brick, and it's about 18 feet tall. It
runs about a quarter of a city block,
around 88 feet. It keeps a building
up, and it keeps the rain out.
In short, it's a good wall.
But it's boring and, let's face it,
pretty unsightly. According to a
graffiti artist, though, it's about
1,584 square feet of unused canvas.
"I just have this desire to put
graffiti on banks, and I don't know
why," said an LSA sophomore and
graffiti artist who agreedtobe iden-
tified only by her initials, S.H.R,
because her work is illegal. "I think
it's mostly because they have these
big blank walls outside of them.
Most of the buildings are pretty
ugly as they are, so I wouldn't care
about putting paint on them," she
And even though the artists
view these paintings as art, graf-
fiti carries different connotations
and conjures stereotypical images
of kids with spray paint covering
street signs with drunken, low-
brow homages to sweethearts. But,
while some graffiti may be treated
as such, it's much more than juve-
nilia. There's a whole culture of
craftsmanship beneath layers of
aerosol paint, an entire art form
Underground art branching into the mainstream
that needs to be unearthed with a
Take, for instance, some ama-
teur graffiti that's begun to appear
around campus - it's one word,
written in an untrained hand:
"FRESH." Where do we draw the
line between graffiti as vandal-
ism and graffiti as art? Arguably,
nowhere. "I get annoyed with bad
graffiti. What are you proving,
other than the fact that you have a
lot of spray paint?" S.H.R. said.
There is a point to most graffiti.
The pieces often have a certain rele-
vance to the artists themselves, and
graffiti for art's sake is rarely done
for the sole purposes of annoying
property owners. The pieces intend
to make a statement.
"One of the (graffiti pieces) I
did was of a child who has an 'M'
print on his back, and it reads, 'UM
Apparel Is Made in Sweatshops,' "
S.H.R. said, referring to a piece of
graffiti found near East Quad resi-
dence hall. "There was a protest
last year against sweatshops, and I
just wanted to put something out to
See GRAFFITI, Page 25
Comic band takes flight
Kiwi duo gets great reception
at the Michigan Theater
By DAVID WATNICK
May 12, 2008 - "This show's been
amazing so far."
That was Jemaine Clement's
semi-sarcastic conclusion exactly
one song into Saturday evening's
Flight of the Conchords concert
at the Michigan Theater, and
remained fairly accurate for the
rest of the night. Perhaps "amaz-
ing" is a touch generous, as Clem-
ent and partner Bret McKenzie
had high expectations to live up to
thanks to the success of their HBO
show - expectations that were
probably impossible to live up to.
But the fact remains: Flight of the
Conchords is in the midst of a hot
streak and Saturday's audience
was lucky to be on the receiving
Considering that on the show
the duo has about one fan, it was
amusing to see them take the stage
in real life to thunderous applause.
But jumping immediately into
a poised performance of "The
Distant Future," the two proved
themselves right at home under
the bright lights, breathing more
life into the song than what the
two-dimensional world of televi-
sion would ever allow. Their apt
comedy soon followed in between-
song banter, or, as they called it,
"professional talking," and they
made it work using both clearly
rehearsed bits - typically ridicu-
lous stuff like explaining why
whales can't dial 911 - and their
own knack for improv.
Playing for nearly two hours,
they primarily showcased songs
from their TV show and current
release Flight of the Conchords,
while also premiering new songs.
And though the new numbers
went over well, especially one in
which Bret McKenzie climbed into
the audience for a hilariously con-
ceited keytar solo that wouldn't
be stopped even when the instru-
ment became unplugged, it was, of
course, the older tunes that won
over the crowd. "Business Time,"
"The Most Beautiful Girl (in the
Room)" and "Hiphopopotamus
vs. Rhymenoceros" saw some of
the loudest responses, and certain
audience members seemed par-
ticularly tortured to have to wait
until the encore to hear "Bowie"
and "Pencils in the Wind (Sello-
tape)," frequently calling for them
In fact, the acoustic nature
of the show produced an envi-
ronment in which shout-outs of
both personal messages and song
See COMIC BAND, Page 22