Lately, I’ve been coming to grips with the realisation that my primary gaming nostalgia channel is auditory. In my mind, I don’t really miss playing old games as much as listening to them, as much as I can figure out from my various sessions of sitting down, replaying my old favourites and losing interest usually within 15 minutes or so. Neither do the graphics throw me back as much as the music! It seems to me that game soundtracks, unlike gameplay or visuals, never quite grow old or dated, no matter how old they are. Same goes with films, which share some common structural and thematic elements with games when it comes to how they implement their soundtracks—you should absolutely try Memrise’s Film Score with Audio course, then you’ll see what I mean.

When the first wisps of inspiration for writing this post came through, what I was intending to do was post a little something about Shovel Knight and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, which I’ve been playing on and off on my 3DS. I was kind of at a loss how to go about it though: they’re not bad games, in fact Shovel Knight delivers what it set out to do quite masterfully, but I didn’t feel as if I really had anything special to say about them… apart from the fact that they’re funny and they both have great soundtracks.

What I didn’t know at the time and found out quite randomly was that Jake Kaufman wrote the soundtrack for them both. Common thread detected, keyboard inspiration engaged!

Scuttle Town
Rave in the Grave (“so Castlevania it hurts”)

2 hours of modern chiptune goodness. You’re welcome.

Turns out Jake Kaufman is virt, a remixer I had been listening to and adored since at least 2005 off VGMix.com

Wait. That’s VGRemix.com, nevermind it says VGMix on the title. VGMix.com has just a… dog? WTF? Actually, the plot thickens: here’s an old bio of his from the same dog website last updated in 2007: http://jake.vgmix.com/

From his current bio at virt.rocks/bio:


I am a large, awkward, soft-spoken nerd. I can compose 5 minutes of MIDI music in an hour from scratch, I can transform Street Fighter II music into smooth jazz, I can transform Final Fantasy music into Queen, and I can write for live orchestras. This is a questionable set of talents, and the fact that I can make a living this way is insane. Whatever, we live in the future.

My entire life has been spent obsessively working on music. I taught myself to sight-read notation, play piano, guitar and bass, mix and master, and program synthesizers and computers. As a teenager I became active in several online creative communities (including OCRemix and the PC Demoscene) where I developed the habit of freely sharing my music with anyone kind enough to listen. In addition to studying music theory, I also maintain strong interests in math, linguistics, computer graphics, and electronics. I enjoy learning more than anything else, so I read a lot.

The game industry has kept me gainfully employed for 15 years, as both an external freelancer and a full-time studio composer — usually both at the same time. Most recently, I was the audio director at WayForward, helping to build an audio department from the ground up. Although I’ve enjoyed complete autonomy and some huge opportunities there, I’ve recently decided to focus on diverse and challenging contract work as a free agent.

I live in Los Angeles with my adorable wife, Kris (a science major, Whovian, hardcore gamer, and anime nerd) and our incorrigible dog, Nugget (a beagle, pug, glutton, and unapologetic miscreant.)

Watch Jake

Let me do a magic trick for you

I’m left speechless, man…

Anyway, I remember virt from these here two AMAZING metal medleys from back when I was still in school—more than 10 years ago. Crystal Flash rocks out with Super Metroid’s OST and Blood of Ganon takes us back to the first three console Zeldas.

This man’s passion, creativity and CRAZY good work is a real inspiration for me. That’s what happens when you stick to what you enjoy making and turn your passion into your life’s work. Bravo sir, and thanks for all the tunes. I mean, just look at this, LOOK AT THIS! “A ridiculous amount of excellent free music” doesn’t begin to describe it.


One last thing: I have a key for Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse for 3DS from the Friends of Nintendo Bundle  I haven’t used because I already had the game. Whoever catches it first, please comment below to spare others the trouble of trying the code out, thanks. Enter the following code on the Nintendo eShop: B0LH4J1S1RC8FR4F


Fluent in 3 Months: Tips and Techniques to Help You Learn Any LanguageFluent in 3 Months: Tips and Techniques to Help You Learn Any Language by Benny Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a person with the ambition to become a polyglot myself (some would even say that with my 5 languages spoken at different levels of mastery I could already call myself one), I can tell you that Benny Lewis is to a great degree what I would like to become one day. If there ever was a more encouraging person that anybody can do it, he would be it. He managed to learn so many languages – I don’t even remember how many – starting in his early ’20s with Spanish and never ever stopping since.

This book is a collection of his most useful techniques and methods and his unmatched motivational skills. While reading it I was feeling so pumped to learn all the languages I could get my hands on, and he really made it all look so easy! Motivating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

My main problem with his work is that he’s not very precise on what actually being fluent means when talking about becoming fluent in three months, something which other people on the web have commented on too. This is part of his own definition from the book itself:

He continues by saying that fluency in a language is difficult to measure (“there is no absolute, discernirble point you pass when can say, ‘Now I can speak the language fluently.'”) and suggests that for all intents and purposes a B2 level on the Common European Framework, by that standard, should be enough. That’s debatable of course and depends on the needs of every individual learner, and, as a holder of a B2 in German and Spanish myself, I still don’t consider myself fluent in either language; rather, I’d consider myself a competent speaker for everyday situations, but no more.

The book itself in general made me think about what my individual needs and goals about each language I’m learning are and gave me plenty ideas and methods on how to reach them. Its best point was the motivation it gave me and that it helped visualise what I’d really like to do with my language-speaking.

Also, Fluent in 3 Months is the first book I’ve seen as of yet that takes advantage of the possibilities granted by dynamic content – as opposed to traditional, static content found in books – made possible by the web: it has links to articles and resources kept updated by the author, which sort of act as mini-expansion packs for the book, e.g. links to useful services, such as Memrise, italki or Polyglot Club. Benny’s idea is that if you own the book, you should always have access to fresh content which in some cases might not be the same as what’s included in the book, as could be the case for example with the links to language-learning websites.

All this said, I don’t particularly like Benny’s tendency to whore himself out and his advice out behind paywalls on his site. Even if you buy his book as I did and subscribe for the extra content, there’s still a “premium membership” you’ve got to pay if you want to have full access to what he’s written over the past few years. I understand that he’s put a lot of work on all of this and that learning new languages full-time has been his main occupations for the better part of his springtime of youth, but I have to admit that it all rather leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Regardless of this, though, if you’re about to tackle a new language or would love to learn more about how effective language-learning works, Benny is one of the best people out there to turn to, or at least to his work. Again, if you can be skeptical about his method and his general aims in learning lots and lots of languages fluently in a sense, you can’t deny that the guy has a talent of being able to very straightforwardly pump you up and make you feel like even learning Mandarin or whatever else you might think a difficult language could be is a piece of cake and only a matter of dedication. And, in the end, if this book left me with anything very concrete, it’s that dedication and the willingness to forget about shyness and/or other bullshit excuse it’s the only thing that might be stopping us from becoming truly good at – or at least having just the right attitude for – speaking our favourite languages.

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POLYGLOT DIARY — 22/6/2014

Има много тексти, че съм пишал по български тези дни, но още не ги съм поставал тук.

Скоро ще купувам нов лаптоп, и през уикенд търсих и четих критики за най-евтино и едновременно най-добро разтваряне, нещо, че ще използвам за работа и игри за много години още . Мисля, че намирах го накрая.  Утре говорих с човека от магазина на компютри и отивеше много добре. Радвам се, защото говоря с помощници по-често, и бързо уча български. Елена и Боряна помагат много, и другите и аз ходим на уроките с веселие.

C помоща на Memrise, също уча да пиша с клавиатурата, но още много бббааавввеееннн съм. няма проблем, добро нещото закъснява да стане! :Ъ

POLYGLOT DIARY – 10/6/2014

I’d been flirting with the idea of doing a polyglot diary entry in English – it is another language after all – and today sealed it: I was writing, studying and thinking in Bulgarian so much today that I think I deserve a break! Anyway, I haven’t transcribed yesterday’s entry which also was in Bulgarian, which counts as a day of creative writing by the way, even if you as readers can’t know that yet.

I’m writing this on Noisli‘s text editor. This thing is awesome or what? Daphne has been my dealer of meditation-y stuff the past few weeks and it’s all been incredible almost to a point of fault. Daphne, who’s your dealer? I need to come in contact with the source. Unless it will be like flying too close to the sun. And when I wrote sun, the screen turned the colour of deep canary. Worthy of a toothy grin. I don’t know if it happened by mistake or if these people at Noisli are really clever.

While writing on top of these super-saturated colours that make me scream with pleasure inside, I’m also listening to the OST of Scott Pilgrim. We watched it with Vicente and Zanda (who predictably didn’t get most of it) a few days ago and, once again, several of its songs have been chewing on my mind through my ears – in a good way. It now ranks up with the movies I’ve watched the most times in my life, and it’s in small company, believe me. Especially being in an altered state of consciousness while watching it unlocks it in a way that makes it come close to being a different watching experience altogether. While I reckon the same could be said about many movies old and new, happy or sad, impressive or deep, funny or suspenseful, Scott Pilgrim this time made a particular impression on me, even it it wasn’t the first one I watched it while chewing on crunchy bubblegum. For one, I could catch a greater number of the small details, including the trademark visual gags and creative, playful direction that make Edgar Wright one of my favourite people working with film.

For example, when Sex Bob-omb play Garbage Truck and Young Neil is singing along, at some point he mixes up the lyrics: he says “oh no!” instead of “oh my!” This just hit, I can utterly and completely relate… The film is infested with such morsels of genious. Another thing was that I realised that it actually portrays human relationships at the deep, subconscious level quite accurately. Scott’s idiotic behaviour and responses to certain situations not only made sense, they suddenly made me realise that in fact I’ve had the same non-sensical assholey thoughts myself (or better put, thought patters and emotions) I just wasn’t conscious of them when I had them. Scott could be little more than our shadow self dressed in geek, which reminds me of Scott’s encounter with his own Nega Scott… *giggle*

OF COURSE the visualisations of the music and the fights and the special effects AAAH THEY WERE SO GOOD! The battle with the brothers and with Todd the vegan were small audiovisual orgasms!

The first time I watched Scott Pilgrim I wasn’t impressed that much, in fact I was slightly disappointed, but now every time I watch it it’s like a new film I enjoy more and more. Of course the crunchy bubblegum has something to do with it, but what if this can be explained by the simple fact that I’ve actually watched the movie more than just once –  that I’ve given it the time it deserves? It could very well be like with me and classical music or Steven Wilson albums: the first time around, the first time they come in contact with my world, I’m mostly indifferent to them; they don’t make me feel anything special. It’s only after the second or third listen that I slowly become familiarised with them and finally come to love them.

Is, then, the key to the things we love simple familiarity – a dose of the right thing at the right time, with the key difference that sets it apart from other nice things that we don’t end familiarised with that it’s not limited to a single dose? Obviously there’s something more, a hidden ingredient, a pluck at an invisible or intangible string, that helps determine whether you’ll like or dislike something – that much is clear.

I have to ask myself, however: have I forgotten what it means to listen for a second or a third time? I’m afraid that I might have, at least to a certain degree. If love, proximity and the act – or ritual – of setting apart basically derive from familiarity plus something special (but mainly familiarity) then in my eternal and fleeting pursuit of the new, the elusive, the mysterious and the unexplored, in my futile attempts to quench the thirst of infinite novelty that often even ridicule the very concept of familiarity, I might have unknowingly and unwillingly sacrificed proximity, I might have sacrificed love. In analytical psychology terms, maybe it’s time I conquered my Ne to move on to my Si. In INFPs this transition comes later in life, of course, and I’m still not done with my Ne, but maybe the calmness of Si domincance is really what I need.

Well, after this heartfelt little exposition, I guess it’s time to say what I actually did during the day. I am a little bit tired of the pretty colours and the too-deep-for-you words, though, so I’ll leave you with three brief sentences:

  • Memrise is simply put incredible.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (tequila mocking beer, like Vicente pronounces it) is not a bad movie, but classic’s just not my style.
  • Meeting new people sober (especially if they’re not) feels depressingly pointless.