Gettin’ Jiggy With It

The annual Jigging Contest is one of many events enjoyed by patrons of the Festival du Voyageur each year. The Centre culturel franco-manitobain was packed on February 20, 2016 for this year’s contest, which featured participants of all ages. Jigging is a form of dance where the performers upper body remains still and upright, while their legs kick and shuffle across the floor. The brave and talented jiggers competed in four categories: nine and under, 10 to 13, seniors (60+), and the open category for all other ages. The first, second, and third place winners in each category received cash prizes and medals.

On stage, host Marc Rémillard entertained the audience and introduced the participants, while fiddle player Simon Reimer played “Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge” for each contestant’s jig. Once the participants finished, the Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge performed music and danced, while the judges determined the winners.

1.

A packed house enjoying the annual Jigging Contest at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
A packed house enjoying the annual Jigging Contest at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE

2.

Simon Reimer plays “Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge” on his fiddle for each of the participants. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
Simon Reimer plays “Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge” on his fiddle for each of the participants. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE

3.

Paryce Ducharme, 11, competing in the 10 to 13-year-old category. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
Paryce Ducharme, 11, competing in the 10 to 13-year-old category. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE

4.

Kalem McLennan registers for the open category with the help of volunteers Adrienne and Robert Paquette. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
Kalem McLennan registers for the open category with the help of volunteers Adrienne and Robert Paquette. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE

5.

Musicians from Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge entertain the crowd during the intermission. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHAN PIRRIE
Musicians from Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge entertain the crowd during the intermission. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHAN PIRRIE

6.

Dancers from Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge perform while the judges deliberated. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
Dancers from Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge perform while the judges deliberate. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE

7.

Host Marc Rémillard standing with the winners of the open category: Ryan Richard, Kelsey McLennan, and Kylie Sais. Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
Host Marc Rémillard (left) with the winners of the open category: Ryan Richard (1st), Kelsey McLennan (2nd), and Kylie Sais (3rd). Feb. 20, 2016/JONATHANPIRRIE
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The Best Video Game Music

I love music, and some of my favourite video games have amazing soundtracks featuring originally composed scores or licensed tracks. Topic 2 of the Kinda Funny Gamescast is all about video game music so of course I’m going to weigh in. I’ve talked about many of the games below in previous posts, so I’ll keep the discussion brief, but I’ve added a little taste of the music each has to offer.

Hotline Miami 1 and 2 features synthwave/electronic music from various artists, and its music is as addicting as its gameplay. These games require you to spend a lot of time figuring out each stage, so good music that doesn’t get boring or annoying is essential—this pairing of music and gameplay is perfect.

Final Fantasy VII is widely regarded as having one of the best soundtracks. Period. The Final Fantasy series in general is known for having great music, a lot of which was composed by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu. Final Fantasy music is so good that live orchestras have played it, recorded albums of it, and have done tours of it. Final Fantasy VII is one of the first games I ever played and still has one of the finest soundtracks.

I am such a big The Last Of Us fanboy, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’ve never  been so obsessed with a game before. I played the game twice, watched every behind the scenes video on YouTube, watched the full-length making of, bought and played the DLC on day one, watched the Teens React playthrough (all 20 parts), watched the live reenactment special, and downloaded the beautifully composed soundtrack. So ya, obsessed. I don’t normally study or do homework with music playing because it can be distracting, but sometimes instrumental stuff puts me in the zone, and Gustavo Santaolalla’s score for The Last of Us is awesome. Fun fact for all you Making a Murderer fans: Santaolalla did the music for that too.

I just recently talked about To the Moon, and one of my big selling points was the soundtrack, so check out both these videos.

The Life Is Strange soundtrack is mix of licensed music and originally composed music by Jonathan Morali of the band Syd Matters. It’s a phenomenal collection of music that adds to the atmosphere of the game, which follows two teenage girls and feels like an indie movie. The YouTube video above is actually a video I posted years ago (well before the creation of this game), because I loved the song so much and noticed it was not on YouTube. The song is call Obstacles by Syd Matters and is one of the major songs in Life Is Strange. I also quite enjoy the originally composed stuff, and I think Jonathan Morali composed a phenomenal score.

Telltale’s season two of The Walking Dead featured some licensed music while the credits played and this song was one of the best. The music throughout The Walking Dead is sombre and dramatic—I didn’t pay attention much to it while I was playing (and perhaps that’s the hallmark of a good soundtrack for this particular type of game), but the music during the credits was often beautiful and I was particularly taken with this song.

Honourable mentions: 

Mega Man

-I’ve only played Mega Man 9 and I love the music from it. I’ve heard the others have amazing soundtracks as well.

Final Fantasy X

-As I said above, the Final Fantasy series as a whole has great music, but my two favourites for music are VII and X. I’ll admit now that I haven’t played VI, but I’m looking forward to it, and maybe its soundtrack will dethrone one of these two behemoths.

Flower

-Thatgamecompany makes games that are interesting experiences and couples them with great music. I’m sure you gamers who know them are wondering why I listed Flower instead of Journey. Well, I haven’t played Journey yet… I know I know, so little time right? But Flower’s soundtrack is nothing to scoff at either.

NBA 2K Series/Madden circa 2000s

-The NBA 2K series always has awesome licensed music—a couple of the soundtracks were put together by Jay-Z and Pharrell. Madden in the 2000s used to have soundtracks of licensed music. These days they use their own football scores. I kind of miss the old days.

I’m the kind of guy who hears a song in a movie or video game and later looks up what it was. I love music, and I especially love being shown new music, so leave a comment with any video game soundtracks you love, or any songs you love that you heard in games.

 

Brothers

This week on the GameOverGreggy show the guys were joined by Nick’s brother Matt Scarpino. Everyone at the table has a brother except Greg, so for topic 3 he wanted to talk about what it’s like having a brother. I particularly liked Nick’s comment about knowing that a brother will always be a part of your life. He talked about the friends he has lost touch with over the years, which is natural, but unlike some friendships, he knows he will always have a relationship with his brother.

I am a brother to two sisters, but I unfortunately don’t know what it’s like to have a brother. When I was younger, I thought having a brother would be so cool. I wondered if he would be like me, if he would like sports and video games, or if he would be a completely different person—either scenario would be fine by me. I wonder too how different the relationship is if you’re the older brother or the younger brother?

I do have a twin sister and we have a close relationship. Having siblings at all is a great thing, but I think there is a different dynamic between having a sister versus having a brother. When I was a kid, I used to look up to my older sister, but being a boy, I think I would have looked up to an older brother differently. I imagine I would have wanted to be just like him— unless he was a jerk or something. And if I had a younger brother, I would want to be a role model to him. I would share with him my interests, maybe teach him things, and most of all I’d look out for him.

I may not have any brothers in my family, but I’ve always considered my best friends to be my brothers. I’ve known all of them since we were teenagers, and some go back even further. These are the kind of friendships where you know you’d do anything for any one of those guys, and vice-versa. I wonder how different these close friendships are from actually having a brother? But back to what Nick said, I think he’s right about knowing that a brother will always be in your life versus friendships that might deteriorate. As our lives change, some of these friendships might grow apart, but I like to think that these best friends will be in my life in some shape or form. Maybe that’s just a phone call every now and again, a Skype chat, or a Facebook message, but we’ll still be interested in each others lives and we’ll still be friends.

Do you have a brother? Let me know in the comments what that’s like. And if you don’t have any siblings, let me know what it’s like being an only child. I’d love to hear about it.

The Most Overlooked Games

For topic 3 of the Kinda Funny Gamescast this week, the guys discussed some games they thought got overlooked or didn’t get enough attention. I haven’t played very many games this year, but I’ll take this opportunity to hype up some games I love that I think people should check out. Some games I’m including are pretty well known within the PlayStation community, but the casual gamer might not know ’em, and I feel like talking about ’em. I also plan on reviewing some of these games in full someday, so I’ll try to keep my explanations brief.

To the Moon/A Bird Story

So this is actually two games—To the Moon is an indie adventure RPG that came out in 2011, and A Bird Story is an indie adventure short that came out in 2014, and is set in the same universe as To the Moon. They are made by indie developer Freebird Games and they can be played on PC or Mac. I’ve combined them because I essentially have the same things to say about them, and I hope that anyone interested will play both.

To the Moon tells a fantastic, emotional story: two doctors attempt to fulfill the wish of a dying man by altering his memories, so that he may experience something he didn’t actually do in his life—go to the moon.

The game looks beautiful, the dialogue is really funny at times, and the soundtrack is phenomenal. Plus, it only takes about four hours to play, so it’s a great pick for those wanting something short and sweet.

A Bird Story is only about an hour long, but it’s worth playing for those who enjoy To the Moon—same beautiful graphics, and another great soundtrack.

Spec Ops: The Line

At first blush this game seems like any other third-person shooter—you play as an american soldier, accompanied by two others, as you fight your way through a war-torn Dubai. Super generic on the surface, right? Well, as you go about the regular business of shooting down anything in your way, events in the game start making you question your actions and decisions, and the experience is actually a commentary on war-time shooters.. Kinda meta. Released in 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Mac

inFamous

This is one of the games that most PlayStation gamers know, but I’ve talked to some friends who are casual gamers and they had never heard of it. So I figured I’d talk it up a bit to those who aren’t in the know. inFamous is an action-adventure game where you play as a bike courier who wakes up with superpowers after an explosion levels the city. Through your actions you discover what happened, how you got the powers, and you determine the fate of the city. Released in 2009, inFamous is a PS3 exclusive, and it has been successful enough to warrant two sequels.

As a kid I was a very casual gamer, and for the most part I just played sports games. I credit inFamous with showing me that the world of video games had so much more to offer than touchdowns and goals. The gameplay is fun and addicting, the story is told with these cool graphic novel-style cut scenes, and the morality system gives you two different ways to play. I’m definitely a late-bloomer when it comes to gaming, but thanks to inFamous I am no longer partially blind to the wonderful world of video games.

That Dragon, Cancer

I’ve mentioned this game a few times over the last couple weeks, and that’s because I can’t get it out of my head. And I haven’t even played it. Instead I watched a Let’s Play on YouTube and I was blown away—so much so that I still intend on playing it. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just say this: it tells the story of a young cancer patient from the perspective of his parents. A brutally honest, emotional story, that needs to be experienced (which feels weird for me to say given the heavy subject matter, but seriously, play this game). Just released on Jan. 12, 2016 for PC and Mac.

Emily Is Away

This is another short experience, about one hour in length, and it’s basically just a nostalgia trip. Journey back to the days of MSN Messenger (or in this case AIM) as you converse with a character named Emily. The story is interesting and will be relatable for many. It’s a cool little trip. Another newer release as well—Nov. 20, 2015 for PC and Mac. Oh, and it’s free to play, so no excuses.

Life Is Strange

Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game told in five parts. It’s centered around a teenage girl named Max, who discovers she has the power to rewind time. Another great story here, where the choices you make effect the outcomes in the game. If you enjoy the Telltale games, this one’s for you. Originally released in January 2015 on digital platforms, it is now available as a physical copy, and it’s playable on PS3/PS4, Xbox One/Xbox 360, and PC.

If  you have played any of these games, let me know your thoughts in the comments. And definitely give me some video game recommendations, because I intend to play quite a few games this summer.

New Year’s Resolutions

A little late in the month for this topic, but since the guys talked about it this week, I might as well give my opinion. Topic 1 of the GameOverGreggy Show had the crew discuss the New Year’s resolutions they set last year to see if they had any successes, and then they set some new ones for this year.

We’ve all been here before—a new year rolls around and, in the spirit of having a fresh start, you think up some things you would like to accomplish. But most of the time these resolutions are toast by the time February arrives. Really, it’s just human nature.

I don’t typically set New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always thought that they are too black and white—either you accomplish what you set out to do, or you fail. More often then not, failure happens because the resolutions set are too vague or ambitious. Or maybe they’re just doomed from the start, because nothing has actually changed with the arrival of a new year.

I do, however, appreciate the optimism in trying to make positive changes, and I won’t ever fault someone who says they have New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I commend those who are trying to achieve something. But rather than quit when a setback occurs, I suggest to push on and keep trying throughout the year. With this in mind, I prefer to think of New Year’s resolutions as goals, because goals are something to keep striving for, and are important to have. Perhaps I’m just switching one word for another… but I digress.

Over the years I’ve had a few of the same goals: eat healthier, exercise as much as I can, and learn new things. These are just good things to keep in mind that really everyone should think about. I’m in college right now, so the learning new things part is easy, though the other two are quite a bit harder to maintain.

My life revolves around school right now, so any goals I have are sort of dictated by that. Sure, I’d like to do things like learn a new language, play more video games, and read more books, but because of the school commitment, I know I don’t have the time. So for now my big goal is to work as hard as I can in school and achieve success—perhaps land a communications-related job in summer.

A couple small goals I should be able to find time for:

-I need to learn how to tie a tie (30 minutes and a quick YouTube video should do the trick)

-learn to cook something from scratch (again, YouTube is my best friend)

And that’s really it for me this year. Wish me luck. And let me know in the comments how you feel about New Year’s resolutions.

To all those still keeping up with their resolutions:

You can do it!

I believe in you!

To those who have already failed:

There’s always next year!

Kinda Funny: Year One

On January 5, 2016 Kinda Funny celebrated their one-year anniversary. Greg’s YouTube channel, along with the GameOverGreggy show (GOG), had already been around for awhile, but it was one year ago that they rebranded as Kinda Funny and launched their second channel: Kinda Funny Games. Kudos on an excellent first year Best Friends!

To celebrate, the guys streamed on twitch.tv/kindafunnygames all day long and they also debuted Kinda Funny: The Animated Series, which I have linked above. Kinda Funny’s twitch stream that day was a celebration, but also an opportunity for them to promote The Animated Series and hopefully receive enough funding to continue the series for 12 episodes. To increase funding, the guys set up milestones that, if achieved, would see them do various things on stream, such as a push-up contest, the famous Nick Scarpino pec dance, Kevin on the GOG show, and a live (drunk) GameOverGreggy show. Now with all that said I’ve arrived at my point.

Typically, I choose a topic that the guys discussed on either the GOG show or the Gamescast and weigh-in with my opinion. The Gamescast (which was also done on Twitch) was about each of their favourite games from 2015. I only played a few new games this year (Life Is Strange, Emily Is Away, Telltale’s Game of Thrones), but none of the major titles, so I can’t really comment. The drunken GOG show on the other hand was almost 4 hours long! And yes, I watched it live with the rest of my Kinda Funny Best Friends (and it was awesome), but the topic structure definitely didn’t hold up throughout.

So this week I’ve decided to help promote the Kinda Funny Animated Series, talk about my history as a fan of the guys, and share some of my favourite Kinda Funny moments from this inaugural year.

I think I’ve said this before, but I started following Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty back when they worked for IGN as THE PlayStation guys. I bought a PS3 in 2013 and I fell back in love with video games. I started visiting IGN daily, and Greg and Colin were my favourite people on the site.

Somehow I stumbled upon Greg’s YouTube channel and I started watching the “A Conversation With Colin” series and his Oreo cookie review series called Oreo Oration. I don’t know why I was so entertained by a grown man eating Oreos, but regardless, I watched every single one of those videos. And I think there are like 50 of ’em.

I eventually clicked on my first ever episode of the GameOverGreggy show. I have no idea which topic I started with, but I remember spending that night watching one after another. A few months later, January 5, 2015 arrived and the guys announced they had left IGN and launched Kinda Funny.

Between the two YouTube channels, three podcasts, the live Twitch show, the events Kinda Funny covers, and all the other content they put up, there are tons of awesome moments. There is definitely a lot that I can’t even remember because of the sheer amount of content I’ve watched (first world KFBF problems). But I’ll list a few stand-outish moments now, and later regret the ones I forget to share.

First thing that comes to mind is the GameSpot X Kinda Funny E3 coverage. I was glued to my computer screen for three days because I didn’t want to miss anything that Kinda Funny did at E3. I’ve never really cared about E3 before—other than reading about the big announcements at the end of the event—but because of Kinda Funny I was addicted. They had Nick, Tim, Sisqo (of Thong Song fame), Chloe Dysktra (@skydart) and Alfredo Diaz (@TheAlfredoPlays) doing things from the floor, while Greg and Colin interviewed some awesome guests from their main stage. My absolute favourite moment is Nick Scarpino dancing with some mascots:

Nick Scarpino

Other fun memories from this past year: the Extra Life 24-hour charity stream, Greg winning the Trending Gamer award, Greg’s Walking Dead stream, Colin’s Mega Man stream, Xavier Woods/Austin Creed (@XavierWoodsPhD, @upupdwndwn) coming down to Kinda Funny HQ and eating a mayonnaise sandwich (so gross), Once Upon a Tim, The Shadowboxer, every episode of Love & Sex stuff, the Hot Pepper gaming episodes each of the guys did, and there are countless little jokes in every GOG episode and every Gamescast episode—too many to list.

Last thing I’ll give a shout out to are the Let’s Plays on the KindaFunnyGames channel. A couple recent ones: the Emily Is Away Let’s Play and just yesterday, the “That Dragon, Cancer” Let’s Play, really resonated with me. There are tons of games I probably wouldn’t have heard of had the guys not done these videos, so I thank Kinda Funny for that.

So congratulations again to Kinda Funny on a fantastic first year. I’m excited to see what is in store for year 2 and I’m proud to be a fan and supporter of this company. If you would like to support Kinda Funny and The Animated Series go to patreon.com/kindafunny and throw ’em a few bucks!

Who Would You Wanna Get Dinner With?

Topic 2 of this episode of the GameOverGreggy Show was brought to the table by special guest Matty Kerr, who asked the guys who they would want to meet/hang out/have dinner with. Matty really wanted to meet the Kinda Funny guys so he made it happen by supporting them on Patreon and flying out to San Francisco.

Like Matty, I would love to meet Greg, Colin, Nick, Tim (and I guess Kevin). I have watched/listened to hundreds of hours of content that these guys produce, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know them—in a weird way they have become a part of my life. It would be awesome to get to meet them in person, and I think it’s pretty cool that one day it could actually happen.

Aside from the Kinda Funny crew, here are some other people I would love to have dinner with:

The Rock

As Greg said on the show, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is awesome—he is the living definition of that word. He’s such an inspiration to me, and I would love to talk to him for a bit and find out exactly how he does all that he does.

Drew Brees

I met Drew Brees briefly at an event a couple years ago—he was the keynote speaker of an annual dinner held here in Winnipeg. I got to shake his hand and take a picture with him, but there wasn’t any time to chat. He’s a future hall of fame quarterback and a hero of mine, so it would be great to spend an evening talking football with him.

Gord Downie

The Tragically Hip are one of my favourite bands and I would love to pick the brain of lead singer Gord Downie. It would be so cool to talk to him about his process and certain songs. I would also like to find out what the early years were like for him and the rest of the band.

Zach Braff

I’m a big fan of Zach Braff’s work, particularly Garden State and Scrubs, and I would love to talk to Zach about projects he has for the future. I would also talk to Zach about music as it seems we have some similar tastes.

So that’s my short list of people I would want to have dinner with. Let me know in the comments who you would choose to have dinner with if you had the opportunity.