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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

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Track 3: The Monkees

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, although whether Bowie feels flattered by Gary Numan copy his every vocal inflexion and stage pose is a moot point. copy his every vocal inflexion and stage pose is a moot point. copy his every vocal inflexion and stage pose is a moot point. This band were put together artificially, much in the same way as Boyzone, Take That, Shag This, Screw Them, Upside Down and the Spice Girls are these days. This was a bone of contention at the time that prevented them ever being taken "seriously", but in retrospect having house writers of the quality of Neil Diamond meant their material was top notch. Besides, who cares about being taken seriously when you are selling as many records as they were at the time?  
Davy Jones: The TV shows in which they appeared were homages to the Beatles' films, and the band members were chosen to be counterparts to the Fab Four. The cute one (Davy Jones/McCartney), the sarcastic one (Mickey Dolenz/Lennon), the introspective one (Mike Nesmith/George Harrison) and the bloke there to make up the numbers but who you became quite fond of, except when he had to be "sensitive" in the films/tv shows (Peter Tork/Ringo). The songs - Rickenbackers to the fore again - were Beatlesesque too, never more so than on "Last Train To Clarksville" but stood up in their own right; perhaps because they had skilled songwriters like Neil Diamond writing for them.
For a year or maybe a bit more, the Monkees were bigger than the Beatles, at least in America, although interestingly not as big as Herman's Hermits who, I am reliably informed, were ranked right up there with the Beatles in the USA in the mid-sixties, despite being thought of as a teeny-bop band in Britain. After a while, this artificial band became a real band. They started playing their own instruments - Davy Jones shook a mean maraca - they started writing their own songs. They started getting tired of being on TV every week and being mobbed in the street.  
  Mike Nesmith left the band to achieve reasonable success as a singer/songwriter. He, at least, is doing well enough to resist the temptation of reunion tours. Not so the others, who are on tour in Britain in 1997. All in all, the Monkees made a good stab at usurping the Beatles. They got the girls screaming, they sold a lot of records, most of which still sound good today. However, none have been covered by Shirley Bassey or Matt Monro, or copied by Oasis. The Sex Pistols did Steppin' Stone, and so did PJ & Duncan, so there's a kind of broad testament to their music there, but no one ever says "Boyzone are the biggest band since the Monkees"

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