So Many Things music video

February 18th, 2019 11:10 AM
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More than a decade ago, I found myself wishing the Apple II community had a music video as cool as Comic Bakery's Commodore 64 song.

In recent years, Steve Weyhrich has amply filled that niche with his numerous KansasFest parody music videos. But somehow, another contender flew under my radar.

Joe Strosnider hosts Joe's Computer Museum, a lively YouTube channel filled with reviews of Apple II peripherals, repair tutorials, and tribute videos. Joe — whose license plate happens to be "6502" — in also an active member of the Apple II Enthusiasts group on Facebook, where I missed his September 2016 post debuting a unique and creative addition to his videography: the music video "So Many Things".

This original composition is a tour de force of everything we love about the Apple II and all the amazing things it can do. It even features callouts to the Facebook group and to KansasFest (though, to the best of my knowledge, Joe's not yet made that annual sojourn). Full tech specs and lyrics are listed in the video's description.

Shoutout to Joe for this awesome contribution to the Apple II's music video library! Take that, Commodore 64.

In ten years I'll be cool

August 24th, 2015 9:07 AM
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I don't remember ever not having an Apple II in my house — and our early acquaintance made for a rough childhood. My very small elementary school class was composed primarily of jocks who didn't take kindly to bookworms and computer nerds, producing an unwelcoming environment, to say the least. I often wondered, would it ever get better?

I didn't have to wait long to find out. Ten years after middle school, I was in a college where computer prowess was lauded; ten years after that, the things I was into as a kid were mainstream and cool.

So if you ever wonder if things get better, just wait ten years — that's the time in which geeks become hip, as detailed in H.P. Mendoza's music video, "In Ten Years", off the 2004 album Everything Is Pop:

And yep, that's an Apple II in the first shot — or at least, it appears to be. Says Charles Mangin, "It looks like a II or II Plus with the badge on the cover removed, or a close clone. The drive certainly looks like a Disk II with the Apple logo removed or covered." The first game of the video being King's Quest (with Sir Graham later getting jiggy) seems to cement the theory.

We shouldn't be surprised. Of course Apple II users are cool! Wil Wheaton would agree: it's awesome to be a nerd.

(Hat tip to Infamous Quests, with whom I appeared on a panel this past spring about point-and-click adventure games!)

KFest Funk

July 13th, 2015 12:40 PM
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Today is the eve of KansasFest 2015, the annual gathering of Apple II enthusiasts in Kansas City, Missouri. This year's event marks a milestone: it's the first to feature a keynote speaker from the LGBT community and a code of conduct, and it marks half my life I've been attending KansasFest.

It's the attendees that make KansasFest such an exuberant event, and one of the people I most look forward to seeing is Steve Weyhrich. Author of the definitive history of the Apple II, Sophistication & Simplicity, Steve is also a KansasFest committee member who puts plenty of time and energy into making the event as fun and zany as possible. One year he did so by filming a series of on-site vignettes that he, parodying the role of CSI's David Caruso character, investigated, concluding with a series of silly zingers.

This year's addition to Steve's video repertoire is no less ridiculous. I'm not cool enough to be familiar with the song "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson — I was only the 789,569,005th person to discover it since its YouTube debut this past November. Steve, being the hip daddy-o he is, took that hit song and adapted it to be about KansasFest. Introducing the music video "KFest Funk":

My thanks to Steve, the committee, and all the attendees for making every KansasFest unique, special, and fun. I can't wait to see you all tomorrow!

Apple II music videos

May 2nd, 2011 1:43 PM
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I ended a recent blog post by asking, "Will the Apple II ever have its own music video?" Although not quite what I had in mind, there's actually been an Apple II music video for nearly three decades. It was released in April of 1984 as part of Apple's official "Apple II Forever" event.

I suddenly feel the need to wear a stuffy suit and shake people's hands over a keyboard.

Perhaps better known is the song "Apple II Forever" a song released on the disc Developer Helper Volume 1: Phil And Dave's Excellent CD (with the titular Dave being David Szetela, KansasFest 2007 keynote speaker). It's been set to slides and published as this music video:

Is a thirty-year hiatus from the music scene enough? How can we build on this sterling record to create what's sure to be the next Apple II chartbuster?

(Hat tips to Steven Sande and Steve Weyhrich)

Superior artistry on the Commodore 64

April 25th, 2011 10:56 AM
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My recent blog post about Jeri Ellsworth produced an unexpected response on Facebook: it stoked the feud between Apple II and Commodore 64 users. "I didn't know Jeri was also interested in Apple II computers as well. I thought she was just a Commodore girl," wrote one of her friends. "I absolutely hated Apple systems when I was a kid. I thought they were so inferior to Commodore and overpriced. Plus they were ugly." Although this particular fan matured to appreciate both platforms, it underscores the rivalry and intense passion that platforms of the Eighties (and Apple products today) inspire.

I've never used a C64 so don't understand any antagonism that may have once existed or still does. But I have noticed what appears to be a difference in motivations among modern retrocomputing enthusiasts: Apple II users are more technically inclined, making their machines perform technological feats such as putting it on the Internet; whereas the output of C64 users is more artistically inclined. At least, that's the conclusion I've come to after observing something as amazing as the C64's own music video, courtesy Press Play on Tape:

There's also a "Happy Computer" mashup that's a bit stranger but still creative. More impressive is this gallery of pixel art, depicting amazing works of art recently drawn on a Commodore 64.

Even their sense of humor is remarkable, as demonstrated by this spoof of how Apple would market the C64:

I don't mean to discount the Apple II's impressive demo scene, but that is largely the work of decades past, with nothing recent to compete against the C64. I don't know that I prefer C64 users' approach to the more practical applications to which Apple II users dedicate themselves; each is its own kinds of art. But is there something about the Commodore 64 and its users that better lends themselves to these amazing visual and musical accomplishments? Will the Apple II ever have its own music video?

8 Bit Weapon's Disko Apocalypse Tour

June 3rd, 2010 10:28 AM
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Advances in technology have made the creation of music easier, but it hasn't necessarily made the music itself better. Sometimes, you have to step backward to achieve true artistry.

That's the philosophy of chiptune music, which employs retrocomputers, from the Nintendo Game Boy to the Apple II, to create original tunes with a classic sound. Perhaps my favorite group in this genre is 8 Bit Weapon, which has been rocking the chiptune scene for over a decade, including on national and international tours, video game soundtracks, and exclusive events.



I'm fortunate to have interacted not just with 8BW's music, but with the musicians themselves. I interviewed Seth Sternberger of 8BW for the December 2007 issue of Juiced.GS, two years after I'd first heard Alon Waisman, an old friend of mine from the days of CompuServe, interview Seth on his ChatterBox Video Game Radio Show. In preparation for my interview, I'd listened to the music group's free downloads, but it wasn't until 2009 that I voted with my wallet. I purchased and reviewed 8 Bit Weapon's Electric High EP album in Juiced.GS Volume 14, Issue 3 (September 2009). I dug most of the CD's six tracks, but the first feature anyone is likely to notice is the packaging:

The CD is found in an eviscerated 5.25" floppy disk that's been slit open and the disc inserted, right alongside the original floppy media, then placed in a disk sleeve. It may seem cruel to cannibalize the format that brought us so many fond memories, but it's also encouraging to see them be given new life as a home to music that's representative of the era.

Several of their songs, and even some full albums, are available for download from their online discography, but this summer, you can do one better and hear them perform live. The Disko Apocalypse Tour is currently underway, with their next performance is tonight at San Francisco's DNA Lounge, followed later this year with shows in Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon. Their full tour schedule is still TBD. I invited them to perform at KansasFest 2010, an Apple II convention occurring in Kansas City this July; maybe the Power & Light District would be an attractive venue? Unfortunately, neither 8BW nor KFest could coordinate this event. Both parties look forward to a future opportunity; in the meantime, the band will be represented as a prize at this year's KFest.

If you happen to be flush with cash and want 8 Bit Weapon to come to your town, you can invite them for the cool sum of $5,000 via Kickstarter, an entrepreneurial site that accepts pledges to support independent projects by offering personalized rewards to potential investors. I first became aware of Kickstarter through Jason Scott's successful venture to finish GET LAMP. I've since become a supporter of the open-source social networking software Diaspora as well as the 8 Bit Weapon tour that I myself will not get to attend. I debated whether to make that investment — shouldn't it be the band's responsibility to conduct a tour that is financially solvent? I decided that there is little chance for any band operating in the chiptune genre to be profitable, and that it's up to us other little guys to support causes that we believe in.

Music deserves to be made and heard — especially good music.

Enjoy the tour!