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Game Designer's Notebook - the birth of Breaking Away

Keeping It Simple - advice on games design from James Ernest of Cheapass Games

GCSE Graphics Course: Producing A Board Game

Tunnels & Trolls: 1984 interview with the designer.

Music To My Eras - musings on musical fashions

Mind Your Language - a rant about people who mangle the English language 

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Music To My Eras

Music To My Eras

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California Dreaming


This mob actually pre-date the Beatles and until the British invasion were the top band of the time. Although shaken by the success of groups playing "beat music" they were established and talented enough to stick to their own sound.
Although now reduced to the status of a glorified cabaret oldies band, they remain the benchmark for white vocal harmony groups.
The reasons why they never remained monster big like the Beatles?

  1. They were fat and ugly
  2. Their appeal was seasonal
Surfboard Identifying yourself with summer may be fine in California where it is summer all year long, but in Darlington the summer only lasts 3 days if you are lucky.It might be thought that having your main creative talent go completely bonkers might have been another impediment to lasting fame, but it ain't necessarily so.
Brian Wilson's insanity had taken the form of an urge to park his Bentley in the swimming pool of the Las Vegas Hilton every alternate Wednesday it would only have boosted his image. Unfortunately, his madness took the form of sitting barefoot at the piano in a sand-box whilst stoned out of his head on mind "expanding" drugs.


America really was knocked for six by the British invasion and there was a massive attempt by the youth of America to respond. This is where the origin of the term "punk band" came about. Young punks, with limited musical ability, would record a couple of songs in a garage (hence the expression "garage band") and some dumb record company would release it to the ecstatic apathy of millions of young kids.

  A few, such as ? and the Mysterions or the Standells, would have their moment of fame. Some, such as the Kingsmen, who gave us "Louie, Louie" had more influence on the course of rock music in their three minutes of fame than Rock Wankman ever managed in 14 years of turgid keyboard solos for Yes. (Yes, keyboard solos really were 14 years long in those days - or seemed like it.)
America was obsessed with finding their "answer" to the Beatles. One of the first bands to be labelled with this dead-weight soubriquet was the Byrds. You can understand why the press made this assumption.First, and most important of all, their name was a mis-spelling of a group of animals (Beatles/Beetles, Byrds/Birds), although this may have come about as a result of a desire to differentiate themselves from a British band called the Birds, who featured a young Ronnie Wood on guitar.  
  Secondly, they had real long hair with fringes of the length not seen again until Mickey Dolenz adopted the Old English Sheepdog look. Unfortunately, they also had David Crosby, who was chubby and already balding.
Third, they had the fashionable Rickenbacker guitars. In fact, they are the seminal Rickenbacker band, being more jingly-jangly the jingle-jangle morning of Mr. Tambourine Man. (Has there ever been a more instantly recognisable intro than the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man"?)
Helping them along the way was a couple of halfway decent songwriters, namely Bob Dylan and Trad. Arr. The band's own Roger (Jim) McGuinn was a fine tunesmith too.
Although they had the songs they lacked the personality and the sex appeal. They were basically old folkies at heart, and it's hard to lust over a man who puts his finger in his ear when singing.

By the time the Eagles came along and showed you could become (boring) megastars playing country music, the Byrds were a spent force

Sixties Fashion Icon

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