Category Archives: the mindlab

PICO-8

I recently bought a copy of PICO-8. It is a virtual game console that you can play on your computer, a raspberry pi, or even in your browser. It’s only $15. All of the games for it are free and written by regular people. For the most part, they are pretty simple and short. I’ve enjoyed the ones I played. Little Dragon Adventure was short and fun. All carts are downloadable from the PICO-8 interface. The cart format is cleverly some type of PNG picture, and most (if not all) can be played in a browser window as well1, so you can try it out if you want without spending any money.

I also picked up an 8BitDo SN30 pro controller. It’s a bluetooh/USB controller designed to look like an old Super NES controller, but with dual analog sticks and some extra buttons, more or less like more modern game controllers. It works with a bunch of different systems, including the Nintendo Switch. They have cheaper models too if you are looking for something less expensive. I recommend it if you want a controller.

This is the world’s lamest review, but if you are looking for a little bit of entertainment without spending too much money, I recommend PICO-8. The controller is a nice add on too if you have use for such a thing.

Update

I just found Delunky for PICO-8. Brian, I think you should give this a spin.


  1. With a gamepad too! 

Enter the Ninja

Enter the Ninja (1981) is a really terrible movie, and it’s Wikipedia page is in need of an update, but some of the sets do have pleasing mid-century modern pieces. Additionally, I inadvertently figured out where this death scene came from. And honestly, it loses something as a meme-like clip on Youtube. This is by no means a recommendation to watch this film (let alone purchase it on Blu-ray), but experiencing the scene in the context of the movie itself, caused me to rewind it repeatedly between a state of utter confusion, half-laughs, and a lot of um-ing.

Shots: What Price Hollywood (1932)

What Price Hollywood (1932), directed by George Cukor and starring Constance Bennett, has a number of fascinating dissolve sequences. The first occurs when Bennett’s character Mary Evans is shown dreaming of fame in Hollywood. In a close-up, Mary repeatedly raises her head amidst glittering flashes, when a smaller full figure version of Mary is superimposed. In doubling images, a star is born 1, and a smaller Mary grows in stature as if released from her own magical Academy Award capsule.

What Price Hollywood (1932), Directed by George Cukor and Starring Constance Bennett


  1. Based loosely on silent star Colleen Moore’s experiences in the picture business, What Price Hollywood, written by Adela Rodger St. Johns, is frequently cited as the original story for the later versions of A Star is Born, released in 1937 (Janet Gaynor), 1954 (Judy Garland), 1976 (Barbara Streisand), and 2018 (Lady Gaga). David O. Selznick, the producer of What Price Hollywood, approached Cukor to direct the 1937 version, but Cukor declined as the plots were too similar. RKO thought so too and considered a lawsuit. Ironically, Cukor directed the 1954 version. 

Shots: The Big Combo

I watched The Big Combo (1955) again last night. This shot stuck out to me as a great use of light, shadow, and space, with characters entering from the depth and foreground, and exiting frame right.

The Big Combo, starring Cornel Wilde and Jean Wallace, directed by Joseph H. Lewis with photography by John Alton
The Big Combo (1955)

Starring Cornel Wilde and Jean Wallace, and directed by Joseph H. Lewis and with photography by John Alton, a later film in the classic noir period, the film frequently gets mentioned for its cinematography1. There is something a little late-night-TV about the movie, and its 1.85:1 aspect ratio makes it a more contemporary touchstone where style is concerned.


  1. Currently, an image from the end of the film lives at the top of the Wikipedia entry for film noir

Best of 2018 (Music)

My “best of” list is pretty brief this year, largely thanks to Apple Music deteriorating my notion of music ownership to subscribership and my subsequent listening on that platform vacillating between: Bad Finger, Donna Summer, Joy Division/New Order, and Pink Floyd (weirdly, because I actually fucking hate the ‘idea’ of Pink Floyd). So here are my 4/5:

  1. Beach House – 7 (album 1)
  2. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy (album 2)
  3. The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land (album 3)
  4. Sheck Wes – Mo Bamba (video)
  5. Pi Ja Ma – Ponytail (song)

Shaving: Pt. 3

Some time ago, I wrote about how I shave with a 2 blade razor and how unfortunately Gillette has basically stopped selling the line I use in the US. I was buying the blades off of Amazon. I finally gave up.

Now I just buy the disposable version from Target or Amazon. I don’t like using disposable razors, but they are about 95% as good as the replaceable blade version and about 50% of the cost. So it goes.

Shots: I Was Born, But…

Four figures move in a shot from Yasujiro Ozu’s 1932 film I Was Born, But… The first are Keniji and Ryoichi, who upon reaching agreement exit right. After the boys go, a train enters in the far background and passes through the composition, seemingly pushing Keniji and Ryoichi along on their journey. Finally, their dog follows suit up until a mooring rope says, “Sit.” Alone, only the dog’s eyeline narrates that which is beyond the frame.

I Was Born, But... (1932)
I Was Born, But… (1932)