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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

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Sypha presents … My Great Gay Moments in Gaming #1: The Sims 3 *

* (restored)
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Introduction

 

Like many people of my generation, I’m a big-time gamer. Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around me watching my father playing games on his Intellivision or Commodore 64 computer. I was playing games myself by the time I was 5. When I was around 6 or 7, my parents got my brothers and I a Nintendo Entertainment System, and as the years went by I also played Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64. Then, in 1998, I got my first computer and made the switch to computer gaming. Aside from the Nintendo DS, I pretty much just play computer games these days, and I have lots of favorites.

This current day I’ve put together is the first in a series, that focuses mainly on games that let you take part in homosexual relationships, among other things. Unlike my other days, which have been mostly textual, these days devoted to computer games I like will consist mostly of visuals (after all, such games are, by their very nature, visual). And by visuals I mean screenshots and videos taken by myself.

The first entry in this series revolves around The Sims 3, which first came out in the summer of 2009 (though an number of expansion packs have also been released for it every few months or so). The game lets you build houses, and also create people/families to inhabit said houses. Like most of the Sims games, there are no real goals: it’s more like playing with a giant digital doll house. As you can imagine, I’ve had quite a bit of fun with this game. Maybe too much fun, as the screenshots below will show.

Sypha & James

 

One of the first characters I created was Sypha Nadon. In this variation of the character, I gave him a kind of Gothic wardrobe, along with an Adam Lambert-styled hairdo. Not to mention heart-warming puppy eyes.

Next I decided that Sypha needed a house. So I built him one. In this screenshot, it’s in the lower left hand corner, the one with the trees with the pink leaves in the front yard.

Of course, it would be boring for poor Sypha to live by himself. So I decided to give him a roommate (and potential love interest). In other words, I created a version of myself and placed him into the game. Here you can see me reading a book on a somewhat flashy-looking sofa.

Over time, the two men bonded. Above we see Sypha offering James a drink. James would apparently rather stare into the distance and brood.

Finally, one day in the park, they revealed their feelings to each other.

One thing led to another, and before you knew it…

Watch the video here

They eventually consummated their relationship.

When I first started playing as Sypha and James, I used a money cheat so they could buy all the stuff they wanted without having to worry about getting jobs. Eventually I decided to put them to work though. James gets some money by writing books, while Sypha works as a stylist and fashion designer. Not all his makeovers are a success, though, as the above screenshot proves.

Whenever Sypha’s not working (or having sex with James) he can often be found designing fashion outfits at his work desk.

Sypha demonstrates the gayest way to throw a football. Though to be fair all the characters in the game throw footballs like that.

I kind of like this tranquil screenshot of Sypha reading at the beach at sunset.

When you create a character in The Sims 3, aside from deciding on their appearance and what clothes they wear you can also assign them favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite music, an astrological sign, and three traits: the three traits I gave Sypha were neat, flirty, and over-emotional, as the above and below screenshots portrays (Sypha going into a hissy fit at the park about something or other).

Sypha Nadon in his underwear. Not really a whole lot more to say.

And what the hell, here’s a picture of Sypha in the buff. Sadly, the game digitally blurs the genitals. So it’s kind of like Japanese porn I guess.

Sypha and James’ Wedding

 

Recently, I decided the time had come for James and Sypha to get married (yes, in The Sims 3 sims engaged in same-sex relationships can get married just like heterosexual ones).

Watch the video here

After Sypha proposed and James accepted, they held a wedding party. A number of guests were invited, and rings were exchanged, making them officially husband and husband. After the guests had left, the two celebrated by skinny dipping in the pool behind their house. But I’ll let you use your imaginations for that.

The Sims 3 is set in an idyllic town known as Sunset Valley. When you first start the game, this town consists of both empty houses, or houses populated by computer-created characters. Therefore, it’s up to the player to populate the town with his or her own creations (though I guess if they were lazy, they could just play as the computer characters). One of the great things about The Sims 3 is that the characters have free will and can live out their lives without your direction or control needed. For example, if you switch from playing one household to another, the household you were just playing as will still continue going on with their lives. As a result, it can be surprising when you go back to a household you previously played as and see what they’ve gotten up to outside of your supervision.

Sypha & James were the first household I created, but not the only one. As the years have gone by I’ve slowly built up my town’s population. One of my other favorite households to play as is the “Brant household.”

James Brant & Friends

 

The picture above is that of James Brant, another character I created. He lives in a big house a few blocks away from James and Sypha. He works in the medical field, hoping to become a doctor. He’s kind of a hipster, as you can tell by his stupid glasses.

Brant lives with three other roommates. Here they can be seen in the living room/kitchen of their house, playing video games. From left to right is Steve Hunter, Daryl White, and Max Steiner, with Brant himself on the far right. Steve, Daryl and Max work as firemen. These four also have a band, named simply “The Firemen,” with Brant playing guitar, Steve on bass, Max on drums, and Daryl on keyboards. They kind of suck though.

This is Veronica Akita. She’s kind of a goth-punk girl, as you can tell. Brant’s in love with her, but they have yet to start up a relationship.

In the above screenshot, we can see Max in the park, chatting up Daphne Moon (from the TV show Frasier). Daphne is Steve’s girlfriend (though Steve also has a crush on Sypha Nadon).

The Brant household is well-known for throwing big parties. In the foreground we can see Sypha and Daphne playing video games, while Veronica sits in between them, clearly intrigued.

Daryl isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. Here we see him deciding to take a shower with his clothes still on.

This is another hipster-ish character, Anthony Nido, here seen conversing with Max and James Brant. I don’t play as him very often, though. I think he’s kind of cute.

I eventually started to populate the city with the casts of TV shows I like, such as Frasier and, in the screenshot above, Friends. Maybe I should make the cast of Glee one day.

Here’s Steve Urkel from Family Matters.

Above, we can see American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman relaxing in his expensive penthouse apartment, no doubt planning on what to do that evening: try to get into one of the city’s exclusive new night clubs, perhaps?

Here’s Luigi, Mario, and Princess Toadstool outside of their house.

What’s a town without a monster? Here’s a character I created named Mr. Monster, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Incredible Hulk.

I even created Peter Sotos. Here we see him hard at work on his newest book.

Here we see Sotos entering the park on a beautiful and sunny day, enjoying a pleasant stroll.

Sotos is one of those households that I don’t play as all that often. So it can be surprising for me when I take control of him again to see what’s he been up to. Apparently, at one point where I wasn’t controlling him, he got a job with the fire department. In the above photo, we can see him clowning around with Max at the fire station.

Sotos makes a dashing entrance (literally) into James & Sypha’s wedding.

Like all computer games, The Sims 3 has bugs and glitches. Here’s a character I created where all you can see of him is the head and feet. This can lead to some amusing animations, such as when he pours himself a drink and the glass appears to float of its own accord, or when he eats, as can be seen in the below video.

Watch the video here

Speaking of glitches, here’s another one: the game decided to clone Anthony Nido at one point (I had the same problem with Mario).

I didn’t create this character. He’s a computer-controlled non-player character who appears in the game’s China world. I thought he was pretty cute though so I took a screenshot of him.

That’s an unusual spot to keep a baby.

Nice parking job!

Two More Sypha & James videos

 

Watch the video here

Sypha tried his hand at snake charming while vacationing in Egypt.

Watch the video here

Sypha and James making out.

 

Next up: Dragon Age!
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*

p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Ha ha. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Factrix are bizarrely under-known. Krumpli is a much better word than potato, at least when you’re unfamiliar with it. It also has a slight tinge of Krampus in it, which doesn’t hurt. Anyway, an immortal puppy sounds like the cure for my woes, thank you. Love giving you an immortal potato that makes happy puppy sounds every time you eat it, G. ** Misanthrope, He’s the ‘or maybe’ kid. He sounds like the kind of kid who could turn the chillest adult into an army recruiter. I guess one should never underestimate shot #2, but, yeah, looking good. ** Bill, Ah, of course you would know Factrix. Were you in SF when they were extant and playing? I don’t know Joel, I just met him once when we were doing a reading together in London and had a conversation with him that I barely remember, so unfortunately I don’t have a Joel memoir in me. Wish I did. Me too re: the NJ box, alas. ** john christopher, Hi, john christopher! My enormous pleasure, sir, and I hope it fogs up your place in the most insinuating manner. Good to see you. You good? ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. I knew their work probably in large part due to being on the West Coast where I think most of their buzz and live activity happened. I met Cole Palme once, but I don’t really know him. I had a thing about him in an issue of Little Caesar. I only saw Factrix once very early on at a LAFMS-related festival when I’m not entirely sure they were even called Factrix yet. The new NJ is incredible, which doesn’t differentiate it from his others, but it’s maybe more ambitious, and it incorporates visuals in a more important and integrated way than his books have in a while. A must get, I think. I know Pitchfork is not a monolith, but it’s just bizarre that every time they ‘deign’ to review a GbV/Pollard record it’s the same nostalgia-addled, party line, inattentive claptrap. Pitchfork has a stuck in the ’90s problem in general. That review was useless, but it’s shame that it was fastened onto such a great record. ** Sypha, Hi. Factrix might just cause your particular boat to float, yes. Nope, you guessed wrong, but you were in the right ballpark, ha ha. Thank you again from the future, James. ** Okay. Guest-post masterpiecer James ‘Sypha’ Champagne made this charmer of a post for the blog years ago, and it seemed pointless to just leave it there in the graveyard of the ruined blog for which it was intended, and so you get the pleasure. Be pleasured, please. See you tomorrow.

Factrix

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‘If the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack had been supplied by Hollywood musos using Factrix’s Scheintot LP as their blueprint, it would have created a perfect snapshot of the hairbrushed post-punk twilight zone that was the 70s/80s gateway. Unfortunately, however, Factrix’s wonderfully greedy metaphor was undermined by their sheer extremeness. Despite opening their career with the amazing industrial funk assault of their debut single “Empire of Passion”, Factrix wasn’t ever gonna be a singles band. Coming across like English post-punks playing an all-night Final Solution gig at the Acklam Hall, they really shoulda been treading the same stages as Clock DVA, Prag Vec, early Manicured Noise (pre-Steve Walsh version) and their ilk in order to get anywhere.

‘From my own experiences from late ’78 onwards – those were days when Fast Product-style bands made three or four singles before they started to make a dent in anyone’s consciousness. The intense rivalry spurred people on, whereas Factrix was 6,000 miles from where the boys were. True, Bergland and Palme had begun life as part of Patrick Miller’s Minimal Man project, playing four shows in that configuration. But even the rivalry generated between their split was never gonna be enough fuel for their flames. From the gathered evidence, even after supporting such illuminati as Sheffield’s Cabaret Voltaire, Arto Lindsay’s screechy DNA, and Australian ur-primitives SPK (SoliPsisticK), the overall Factrix career was apparently such a downer that it temporarily destroyed the mind of each member and saw them return from their only tour homeless and (it is said) destitute.

‘Unfathomable and unlistenable to all but the most ardent adepts (and subscribers to Sordide Sentimentale, natch!) at a time when almost everyone in the real underground had a least opened their ears to accommodate the coming Industrial sounds, the Factrix trio’s miniscule output and often almost rhythmless take on all of the above-mentioned artists made the group virtually unreachable; so much so indeed that they have become forgotten over the past decades and not even been celebrated with a CD re-release until very recently1 – and even then not in their original musical sequences. However, Time itself is the real judge of true art, and those No New York ‘art terrorists’ are now no more than the archaic fart feasts of yesteryear – temporary jazz sneezes into an already too-damp snotrag. The dismembered music of Factrix, on the other hand, grows more contemporary by the year.’ — Julian Cope, Head Heritage

 

 

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Gallery

BOND BERGLAND: guitars, vocals, tape treatments, viola, radioguitar, percussion, drum machine, processing, zither, teakettle
COLE PALME: vocals, glaxobass, multimoog, tape treatments, drum machine, processing, amputated bass
JOSEPH JACOBS: bass guitar, fretless bass, drum machine, vocals, tape treatments, pennywhistle, migh-wiz, saz, doumbek, flute, percussion

 

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Factrix timeline

from Mutant Sounds

1979:
A musical partnership is formed by Bond Bergland [guitar/vocals] and Cole Palme [electronics/vocals]. They initially collaborate with Patrick Miller [electronics/vocals] and perform 3-4 shows using Miller’s moniker Minimal Man. Tommy Tadlock (San Francisco’s Joe Meek) assists with equipment, rhythm tapes, and live signal processing. Back to being a duo, they choose the name Factrix and soon enlist a third member, Joseph T. Jacobs [bass/vocals]. Factrix begins rehearsing in the basement of San Francisco’s premier punk store, “Supplies,” and experiments with psychoactive chemicals, instrument processing, and unconscious composing methods.

1980:
▪ Factrix have their first high-profile show, the “Live at Target” videotape shoot w/Nervous Gender, Flipper, and Uns (aka Z’ev); two tracks from this show appear on the Subterranean Records compilation LP.

▪ They meet Ruby Ray and begin to incorporate slides/projections into live performances. A show at the Savoy Tivoli also features onstage collaborations with Bachelors Even (featuring Christian Marclay, the soon-to-become-famous turntable virtuoso).

▪ Factrix also form lasting alliances with Monte Cazazza and Mark Pauline/Survival Research Laboratories — these associations culminate in the notorious Kezar Pavilion show.

▪ They release the “Empire of Passion”/”Splice of Life” 7” on Adoles-cent Records, and record material for the Scheintot LP in the living room of label mate Slava Ranko (aka the late Donald Philippi, an eccentric linguist/scholar/musician who translated ancient Japanese and Ainu texts).

1981:
▪ Factrix perform shows in New York, Boston, and Chicago before returning destitute back to S.F. They record four further songs at John Altmann Studios for an EP (never released), and perform shows with DNA, Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, and the Sleepers, among others.

▪ “Night of the Succubus,” another self-promoted event (in collaboration with Monte Cazazza, Tana Emmolo-Smith, and Kimberly Rae), is recorded and videotaped for eventual release.

Scheintot, a full-length LP, is released on Adolescent Records. After pondering the inevitable, all three members part company.

1982:
▪ Bond and Cole reunite to record new material in home studio in Vermont, with Ruby Ray creating corresponding visuals for a proposed Spring tour of the East Coast with SPK; a few tracks are completed but desire to perform live dissipates and Factrix subsequently implodes.

 

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Artifact

 

‘In many ways Factrix belong to the original industrial culture vanguard headed by Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire in the UK, and represented by the likes of Z’ev, Mark Pauline’s Survival Research Labs, NON and documented by the pioneering punk tabloid Search & Destroy (the formative publishing venture that latterly grew into the Re/Search publishing house) in California, USA. Monte Cazazza the infamous prankster, performance artist and TG Control Agent who codified a genre with the ‘industrial music for industrial people’ slogan was a floating member of Factrix, alongside Cole Palme, Joseph Jacobs, and Bond Bergland. Their few releases together with the previously unheard Factrix demonstrate that Factrix are deserving of more than a footnote in the history of industrial music.

‘It’s perhaps not surprising upon listening to Artifact that the protagonists were heavily into psilocybin. Artifact displays a potent blend of sprawling guitarlines, taut bass and the industrial use of electronic rhythms -often provided by their sound wizard Tommy Tadlock. There’s was a seeking of possibilities, a search for a black hole of sound. Experimentation derived from altering technological devices (amputated bass, various tape treatments) cajoling instruments in an effort to slip into a swirling vortex. It’s a bad trip from the sunny climes of California.

‘Factrix left only a small body of recorded work (particularly on the Adolescent and Subterranean labels) and Artifact compiles a selection of studio cuts (including the album Scheintot in its entirety) together with an intriguing selection of unknown material culled from outtakes, live shows and unreleased demos including a rough reworking of the Velvet Underground’s ‘Beginning To See the Light’, a live track (featuring Christian Marclay on turntables), and a Manson track. Monte Cazazza’s presence is all over Artifact most notably on ‘ProManSon’ (from the split album California Babylon) which features his familiar tones but the unhinged and improvised squall heard to best effect on the unheard Factrix disc could also lay claim to be a direct influence on the likes of Sonic Youth and the New York guitar-noise scene.

‘This package with cover artwork from Ruby Ray (an early contributor to Search & Destroy) and booklet artwork by Monte Cazazza has been produced with the resolute care and attention of Michael Moynihan – there’s copious liner notes, archival research and photos with a masterful grasp of aesthetics that are truly fitting for this reappraisal of this largely forgotten and underrated group.’ — Compulsion

Buy ‘Artifact’

 

___
Gig

Factrix & Marc Huestis ‘X-COMMUNICATION’ (1981)


‘Empire Of Passion’ (1980)


‘Subterfuge’ (1980)

‘Eerie Lights’

Factrix/Cazazza ‘Pro Man Son’


‘Phantom Pain’ (1981)


‘Night to Forget’ (live; 1981)


‘Anemone Housing’ (1981)


‘No Trees’ (198-)


Factrix & Monte Cazazza ‘Night of the Succubus’ (excerpt; 1981)


‘Obsession’ (1981)


‘Noctimbre’ (1981)


‘Ballad of the Grim Reaper’ (1981)


‘Splice of Life’ (1980)

__________
Scheintot [Full Album]

 

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First shows in 30 years: FACTRIX @ The Night Light (2013)
‘Bay area industrial-rock band Factrix played their first gig in 30-plus years last month at the Night Light in Oakland, and I was fortunate to be a part of it. Founding members Bond Bergland and Cole Palme asked me to contribute to their efforts on guitar. It was really fun to be playing in a rock band again; it was my first time on stage in more that 22 years. We have a couple more shows coming up.’ — Mark Abramson


@ The Night Light, SF

 


@ The Chapel, SF
—-

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi, D!!!! Not getting carpet bombed with hack warning emails every minute is very odd. But, sort of like wearing a mask outdoors, I’m getting used to it. Yes, I think my boymuses would turn the world into a killing field too. Your love seems to have done his job because I have no side effects apart from the tiniest soreness on my arm in the spot where I got the jab. So, please thank your love for me! Love giving your least favorite band’s new album a blistering critique, G. ** Ian, Hey. Your week ahead sounds to be pretty A-okay indeed! Especial extra added good vibery towards your novel work, of course. Mine is half-vaccinated, so it’s off to a good start anyway. Enjoy every minute. ** David Ehrenstein, It’a beauty. ** Steve Finbow, Hi,Steve! Well, you did a most extraordinary job, sir, no surprise! ** Tosh Berman, Hi, T. Thanks, the half-vax was smooth and quick and problem free. I fully anticipate that the world will require thoughtful negotiation for quite some time to come. But it’s all about increments these days. Happy for you! ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Thanks, the shot was easy-peasy. I should say so far, to be safe. I am very up for a guest post on Lane’s short fiction, you bet. That would be fantastic, if you feel like it. Thank you tons! ** Sypha, Hi, James. Oh, I’m restoring an old post of yours tomorrow. The vaccine shot was super simple gratefully. You can barely call my arm soreness sore. Yeah, maybe the second shot will whack me. Hope not. I’ll know in a month. ** Misanthrope, Oops, sorry, I should’ve known better than to try to distract a proofreader. David is like the 4th Stooge. You got me on the ‘hottest’ writer in the US these days. I doubt it’s a fiction writer. No side effects for me. I was told Pfizer is the smoothie among vaxes, and I guess I’m living proof. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. The vaccination went easily, quickly, and I feel utterly normal. Whew. I don’t know who Sally Rooney is, so I guess that’s a US-only phenom. I’ll check her out. Otherwise, I don’t see a big phenom fiction writer over there right now. I mean there’s a lot of hype around Greenwell and Vuong, but that still seems kind of niche. Rachel Kushner is big, but she’s not getting the ‘great American genius’ malarky. ** Okay. I decided to turn your attention to the seminal and influential and undervalued musical unit Factrix today. Have a look, read, and listen, won’t you? See you tomorrow.

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