A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Popular punk band Screeching Weasel has dis-banded after front man Ben Weasel punched two women at SXSW last week. Weasel offered an apology (kind of). Last night, the other four members of the band resigned. [more inside]
Extra, by Ken Ishii. [NSFW]
On November 25th, 2006, Valentin Elizalde was killed in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Elizalde, a singer of a style of song known as the narcocorrido, was warned not to step foot in Tamaulipas because of a video for his song “A mis Enemigos," which showed footage of (WaPo article) the deaths of drug traffickers from the Gulf Cartel. In December of 2006, Javier Morales Gómez was killed in Huetamo, Michoacán while talking on his cell phone. Morales Gómez was the singer for Los Implacables del Norte, another group closely associated with narcocorridos. The most famous death of a narcocorrido writer/singer has to be Chalino Sanchez, killed in 1992, and spawning several imitators known as Los Chalinillos that are still prevalent 15 years after Sanchez's death. (previously) [more inside]
Danzig gets knocked out. Now, I know that most of you probably aren't big on violence, however, I find a little jolt of comfort in seeing Danzig dropped with one punch. It's like being back in high school and seeing a bully knocked out by a geek he'd been picking on. (NSFW - violence and language)
Hammers, once the pop culture for music, suddenly become popular weapons of death. Why? Anyone else find this odd?
Top Brazilian performers refuse to sing it. A big-city mayor begged radio stations not to play it. Women say it is degrading and dangerous. It's the Face Slap, an uptempo ditty about a woman who asks her lover to hit her.