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Monday, January 26, 2015

It's the Music of The X-Files Week On The Nicsperiment!

 photo d6443f62-1b97-416a-b0b2-a9f803f02065_zpsf2a6db67.jpg
Above: The worst possible screenshot I could take from the greatest possible television episode of all time.

If you in any way, shape, or form, consider yourself a nerd, and even if you don't, you have most likely experienced several pop cultural touchstones that hold such a revered place in your mind, just thinking their title produces a comforting rush of dopamine, like sinking into an easy chair in a lamp-lit room. If you thought that was a run-on sentence, you've obviously never been here before. Anyway, these things most likely changed your life, the flow of your subconscious, and maybe even conscious thought.
I can think of a few things offhand that ease my mind: travelling through time with my friends in Chrono Trigger. Slacking through space with the crew of the Cowboy Bebop. The strains of John Williams right before Luke Skywalker tells Chewbacca to "take care of himself," about 20 minutes into The Empire Strikes Back. Exploring the mysteries of The X-Files.
The 1990's science fiction program, The X-Files, hit just about every sweet spot the teenage me had. I wanted to be Mulder. I wanted to go out with Scully. I distrusted the government. I wanted to believe in aliens. I liked scary stuff. I liked dark humor. I liked dark rooms, dark alleyways. I was a weirdo. The X-Files was my show.
A half-decade after The X-Files ended, I got married. Shortly thereafter, my wife asked if I had any shows on DVD we could watch together. "Ever watch X-Files?" I asked.
She watched the entire series and both films with me, and when we received the surprise news that we were with child (well, she was with my child...that expression is terrible!), we settled on the name within about five minutes. Yes, my kid is named after a character from The X-Files.
With that said, as I have reached "M" for Mark Snow, The X-Files music composer, I have decided to just review every X-Files album in my collection over the course of the next four days. Enjoy, or wallow in fear at the extent of the nerditry displayed.

7 comments:

Neal said...

I only watched X-Files in bits and pieces when it was on, and have only seen bits and pieces of the last two seasons when they were on TV (and those were enough to make me miss Mulder, even though I hadn't seen much of the show before that).

So I saw it much as your wife did. It's oddly weird and all over the place at times (as some such shows are), and I could say some shows like Fringe with similar style and story elements stayed more consistent, but they're all in a time when those things are more common (maybe not unlike the original Star Trek, which has never done it for me like TNG has). X-Files is a great show and helped bring in this good but sometimes over-wrought era of superheroes and the fantastic being common subject matter.

I also love that Chrono Trigger makes this list. I liked a lot of SNES games, but Chrono Trigger (Toad was the best!), Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy III (really VI) were like this awesome place just off the mainstream of Mario and Zelda that I loved in junior high and high school. I know their soundtracks by heart and the very idea of them is very much an easy chair in a lamp-lit room.

Rambling good thoughts at a time when I should be in bed. Good times. I'm going to go read some Star Wars Timothy Zahn that I can get caught up on now that I don't have MFA schedules breathing down my neck before we go to bed.

Nicholas said...

Man, those Square games were so special. I feel like the SNES soundchip, despite having limited capabilities, had some strange ability to trigger an otherwise unreachable dopamine trigger in the brain. The Chrono Trigger soundtrack in particular has this weird combination of tones and melody that offers easy access to that easy chair.
Which Zahn book? I only read the Thrawn Trilogy and the following Duology, as for as he goes, but of course I loved them.

Neal said...

Not sure if Nintendo has Secret of Evermore on its store for the Wii U (it has lots of other classics like Secret of Mana), but if Secret of Evermore is on there, I think you would like that. It has similar gameplay elements to Secret of Mana (I think a lot of the same guys worked on it), but it's got a fun setup... a kid that likes B sci-fi movies finds a weird device in an abandoned mansion, and gets sucked into some alternate dimension with his dog. He's got to find his way out by tracking down the professor who built the machine (and is now inside the alternate dimension with some of his friends). Each friend is in a different area, and their part of the world mimics an era they loved the best. So there's a Jurassic era, Egyptian, Medieval, and futuristic, and your dog gets morphed as you visit each one from a caveman style wolf to an Egyptian style dog (like you see in their illustrations), and the sci fi one is a robo dog that shoots lasers as he's helping you. Heh.

I had read Outbound Flight and its related book along with The Choices of One (which shows Mara Jade when she's working for the Emperor), but he put out one called Scoundrels in 2013 that I haven't had time to read. Basically Han and Chewie (during the time between New Hope and Empire Strikes Back) have to pull off a heist from a crimelord's mansion with the help of some other scoundrel types. References to the estended universe and hijinks ensue. Not quite as good as The Sting or Ocean's Eleven yet, but it's good fun.

And while I'm sure the new movies will be fun, part of me would still love to see the Thrawn trilogy in movie form. People want to act like Star Wars is easy to pull off, but the prequels and many bad extended universe books prove it's not actually an easy thing to do. Zahn does it right, even if a lot of his characters' thought patterns sound the same. :)

Nicholas said...

I have Secret of Evermore. I guess I should give my Super Nintendo history.
I picked one up the weekend my grandfather died (January 1995), with some money I had leftover from Christmas. My experience with the SNES was magical, as are most experiences involving the eighth grade. However, in the fall of 1997, I sold my SNES for money to get an N64. I love my N64, and it may be my favorite system...it and the SNES battle for that position. Sometime during my junior year of high school, I started emulating SNES games I never owned and remembered the magic. Right when college started, I picked up a used SNES, bought back every game I had before, excluding Clayfighter (good riddance) and Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (I miss you!). I then started buying games I never owned (two exceptions being Final Fantasy VI, and Secret of Mana, which I really, really, really want). Secret of Evermore was one of the last I bought, but unfortunately, when I moved out sophomore year, the SNES once again went by the wayside. I still own it and the games (I went back and double-starred all my Chrono Trigger characters), but I never passed the five-hour mark on Evermore. I enjoyed it, but I loved Secret of Mana so much (a frequent rental among friends) that Evermore suffered in comparison. Perhaps one day I will go back and finish it. I wish at least once a day that I had a second lifetime to play through every single video-game I've ever wanted to play through. Lofty goals.
With all the allusions to Outbound Flight in the Thrawn books, I'm surprised I haven't read that one. Now that the old EU exists in its own static universe, a museum that will now forever remain untouched, I think the chances are actually higher that I will get to that one.
Too much fun stuff out there! I simply do not understand people who get bored!

Neal said...

My brothers and I picked up a SNES by selling off our Nintendo and all the games we had for it (my Dad noted that they're just going to come out with something again in a few years, but we persisted... and it was a good choice, even if he was right). I'm guessing that was... 93ish? Never picked up the N64 because it hit with collegeville and I was broke broke broke! Had to check it out for small periods of time when I was at friends houses, etc. I'm getting caught up slightly with how the Wii lets you play older games. I know Secret of Mana is on the Wii store, because I picked it up a few years ago with Christmas funds.

I'm sure you'd like Secret of Evermore. It's got a lot of catchy tunes and a nice, dry humor that you don't get much in RPGs. There's great jokes about b-movies and just game humor, like a guard in the desert world that says to you "You can't get by me, I'm quick--quick like the wind." And then you can stroll right past him to get into the palace. I still remember that after all these years. And seriously, in the last, space station zone you get a bazooka! After all the time with Secret of Mana style weapons, you get a bazooka (and your robot dog shoots lasers). It's a blast.

I had a friend in junior high I hung out with almost every day at his house, and he had Street Fighter II and Super Mario Kart. Sooo many epic grudge matches. It got to the point with battle mode in Mario Kart that we taped a piece of cardboard between the split screens, as we were too good at timing jumps and shots by looking where the other guy was on their screen. So convoluted now, but it made so much sense then!

Nicholas said...

Question: Is the Wii Store compatible with my Wii U? Fox and I took the Wii U to my Aunt's house to download the system update, and checked out the Wii U store. I will definitely be picking up Earthbound from there at some point. If I can't get Mana from the regular Wii store, hopefully they'll bring it to the Wii U one...though having the original SNES box, manual, and maps would be so much more satisfying...and so much more expensive.
I'll finish Evermore at some point. Looking at guides, I think I was roughly 1/4 through it.
Also, your cardboard-divided showdowns sound epic.

Neal said...

I admittedly haven't looked too closely at the stuff for the Wii U, other than to note you can download most of the games for it, not just get the packaged disc from the store (though the prices are pretty much the same). There was a whole transfer process to bring our games and files over from the Wii (all animated by movies of Pikmin hauling blocks of data around varied environments: it was adorably cute), so I didn't look too close at the store just yet.

I booted up the Wii U quick and looked at the store. Alas, it does not even have the breadth of the Wii's NES and SNES offerings. Sure, you're great if you want any of the Mario, Zelda, or Metroid games from those systems (and Gameboy advance), but there isn't a whole lot beyond those, Mega Man, and a few other games. There is no Secret of Mana, let alone Evermore (or Final Fantasy). Not sure if Square Enix is playing coy or what. I know they've been slowly porting over the old Final Fantasy games to play on Steam and other PC platforms.

If you're able to get the Wii menu up (there is a way to swap between the Wii U and the Wii's stuff, but I don't know how it works if you didn't have a Wii), the Wii store still works, and Secret of Mana is still there. So I would look into how you get the Wii stuff to work on the Wii U, even if you didn't have a Wii.

There are many, many games I wish they would port. There was a game called Crystalis on the NES that was awesome, but we were stuck about 2/3 of the way through and gave up before selling the whole system. I no know we were supposed to unlock a different area first (for some reason the game let you fight another boss out of sequence, but it was glitched and that boss was unkillable unless you beat a different area first). So I hope you can get it to work and we get these games! :)