Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Sounds carry historical and political significance, even when they are intended as pure entertainment. Alternative meanings shimmer just beneath the surface as accepted meanings—safer meanings—give way to the attentive listener. Consider the sound of fireworks. According to Wikipedia, fireworks “were originally invented in ancient China in the 12th century to scare away evil spirits, as a natural extension of the Chinese invention of gunpowder.”

In the twenty-first century, fireworks and other forms of explosive entertainment continue to fulfill their ancient mandate to scare away “evil spirits.” When we pack a blanket and join our family and friends on the beach to experience the fireworks, we banish loneliness, depression and tiredness, as well as our anxieties about the economy, our worries about the country’s values and the concerns we have about the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (more…)

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32nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues has become the most exciting block in Manhattan. Known as Koreatown, or Korea Way, the street consists of elegant turn-of-the-century buildings done in the style of the French renaissance. Elaborate, gray facades are now almost hidden behind bright signage in Korean and English. The life of the block extends inside the buildings: restaurants, bars, galleries, and karaoke joints are not only on the street level but also on multiple floors inside the structures: the karaoke studio I went to was on the fifth floor.

The studio served no food—it consisted of a series of soundproof rooms that groups rent by the hour. Customers bring in their own food and beverage. The karaoke menu is in many languages—the English one seemed to consist of every hit song that reached the top five in the American charts since the early days of Frank Sinatra. (more…)

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