Monday, February 28, 2005


Lying on the ground I see your eyes
Why won’t you look at me?
Feeling your foot on my throat
Why won’t you look at me?
You know what you did to me
Why won’t you look at me?
The words won’t come out
Why won’t you look at me?

Awake or dreaming, coming or leaving
You just won’t go away
Like picking at a scab
This wound won’t heal
I didn’t ask for this
I didn’t want you in my life
A symbol of pain, a reminder of the past
You bring out the worst in me

I can’t say it with your foot on my throat
Run away
Leave me alone
I don’t want to know you exist
Kill yourself

I’ll never forgive you
I’ll never want to know you
Is that why you haunt me?
Is that why you hurt me?
Thief. Liar. Cheat. Bastard.
You’re nothing more, you never will be

Suffocating but not dying
Can’t extinguish my hate
Why do you hang on?
Groping for something not yours
To hurt, to harm, to steal
I want you out of my life

I can’t say it with your foot on my throat
Run away
Leave me alone
I don’t want to know you exist
Kill yourself

I’ll keep breathing on and on
I’ll still be here when you’re gone
Through the pain I can see
Even when you won’t look at me
I may be under your foot
But you’re the one beneath me

Now go
Do it
End it
Kill yourself

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Camilla - Of Bees and Flies CD Review

Turn on the radio to your favorite rock station and you’re sure to be inundated by a slew of sophomoric modern rock bands who have just enough talent to make a catchy song or two, but not an ounce more. So what’s a person to do to find good, new modern rock? Well, you could read webzines and online reviews that seem to hand out praise to all these bands that you’ve never heard of who are supposed to be the best musicians ever. More often than not, though, the bands that get this high praise from online reviewers are more pretentious and artsy than they are listenable. It seems like indie rock is the only type of rock to get recognition by many of the more popular webzines out there. It just seems so hard to find any bands to bridge the gap in between the two disparate climates of the radio world and the online world.

From what I initially heard of Camilla, I though maybe they could fill in that space, but upon repeated listens, they definitely fall more into the indie genre, which is unfortunate. There are altogether way too many bands doing this style of music, which leads this cd to feel like yet another permutation on what’s been done many times before. Don’t get me wrong, though, there are some good tunes to be found on here. “On Trains” is a haunting, unbelievably good, keyboard assisted indie rock tune. It flows wonderfully from crooning vocal harmonies over a quickly plucked guitar to sample enhanced, keyboard layered indie rock, and back again just as effortlessly. “Fear Level Orange” has a very bouncy, yet melancholy, feel to it once it hits its stride 3 minutes in. This song also possesses a nice little keyboard support section towards the end. “I-95” has a mellow, nonchalant vibe to it that feels a little like some of Brand New’s more toned down efforts.

The rest of the cd, however, feels really dreary, slow, and somewhat bland. A lot of the other songs venture into the really mellow and boring territory of indie that tends to put listeners to sleep when allowed to play for too long. When they actually create songs that manage to keep your eyes open, they do it well, so if they can focus on that in future releases they’ll easily win over a ton of indie fans. Until then this cd is pretty much a hit and miss affair. It might be worth a listen to those of you who crave keyboard flavored indie rock, but anyone who is well versed in the genre will be disappointed.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I Don't Usually Do This

I've found a bunch of really interesting stuff on the internet as of late, so I figure I might as well dedicate a post to sharing it all with you. Tons of enjoyable stuff to be found!

First, a co-worker turned me on to this site that details the absurdity of movie physics. It's quite the educational site as it explains what would really happen in real world situations as opposed to what happens in the movies.

Second, if you want to destroy the world, you've got your work cut out for you. This site outlines exactly what it might take to do it.

Third, I love the X-Men, so seeing them lampooned in these two cartoons (Death Becomes Them and Dark Phoenix Rising) gave me more than a few hearty chuckles.

Lastly, here's what think are some of the worst recent tv clips. There's some pretty hilarious stuff to be found.

Now if those don't keep you busy, well, you can always smack the penguin.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

God's Ultimate Punishment

There is one thing that I would only wish upon my worst enemy, and they most definitely would have to be one of my worst enemies, not just some guy that cut me off in traffic or something, and that one thing is a migraine. Migraines are the only things in my life that have ever made me want to just stop existing. The combination of throbbing pain throughout my head, stabbing pain behind my eyeballs, a lack of energy, the overwhelming feeling of nausea (in many cases actually causing me to vomit), and the inability to make it go away add up to one of the worst human experiences imaginable. Well, imaginable for me at least. I'm sure there's a lot worse stuff out there to go through, but in what I've experienced in my lifetime, a migraine is the epitome of unreal pain.

I bring this topic up because before last week I hadn't had a migraine since the beginning of summer when I was getting exertion migraines. Now, in a week's time I've had two again--last Friday and this morning. Today's just decimated me in how fast it came on. I got to work at 8 feeling just fine, but shortly thereafter a headache started kicking in and by a little after 10, I was ready to throw myself into oncoming traffic. A 2 hour respite in my silent, darkened room, before hopping back on the laptop for some work at home action, helped alleviate the intensity of the migraine, but when I get one it usually lasts all day in one shape or form.

I don't know why I've gotten these last two. The ones I was having over summer were caused by a combination of a shoulder injury and overexercise before healing up. I don't have an injury now and since I am just getting over being sick I sure haven't been exercising a lot. I'm starting to wonder if I did something to get God angry at me... or maybe He just randomly picked me to smite because he was bored. Who knows? I, a puny human, sure don't know what the big guy in the sky does with his time or why things happen to us. I wish I did know, but I suppose I'll have to wait until I kick over the ol' bucket before I can ask him why things are how they are.

In conclusion, migraines suck balls and there are only a few people I would ever wish suffered from them... one of them being our current president (I haven't jabbed Bush in a while, and seems to be deserving of some hardcore head punishment).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

That Cough Medicine Smell

When I was in elementary school, I'd often get a cough and cold during the winter. I think it was kind of a given that if you live in the frigid cold of Minnesota and play outside in it often enough without really taking note of if you were wearing enough clothes to keep you warm or not, you were going to get sick. Heck, there would be some days that I'd go outside with my brother to play on our snowpile wearing nothing more than a light coat and gloves (so I could make snowballs without my hands freezing) and the temperature would be well below freezing.

Whenever I would develop a coughing cold, my parents had a type of cough medicine that my pediatrician prescribed for me to take. Every time I got sick, we'd just get a refill of it from the pharmacy. Medicine, by its very nature, is horrendous tasting crap. Because of that fact, the only medication I now take is in gel caplet format so I can just swallow it and be done. I even avoid Nyquil, which so many people seem to love for coughs and colds.

The prescribed cough medicine that I took for my childhood colds was different, however. It tasted good! It was literally like liquid candy to me and my parents would have to make sure I only took as much as I was supposed to because if I was given the option, I would have drank the entire bottle down in one long swig. I wish I could describe the taste, but I have a hard time recalling it. I think it tasted something like a mixture of cotton candy and Big League Chew bubble gum. Besides it just tasting similar to cotton candy, it also had a very bright pink color to it, which helped me differentiate it from all other medications I might have had to take.

Later when I changed doctors, I was afraid I wouldn't get to have my liquidy goodness the next time I got sick. When I did finally come down with a cold my parents took me in to his office so he could give me a checkup (he needed to do this before he could prescribe any medication for me). He did the usual stuff--checking ear temperature, having me talk while he felt my glands, and jamming a gigantic plank of wood down my throat to hold my tongue back while he swabbed cut-tips on the back of my mouth making me want to vomit all over him.

After the checkup, he said he'd prescribe some medicine for me. YES! I was still in business. Once we got home and it came time for me to take my medicine, I noticed that the syrup my mom had poured out was not pink. In fact, it was quite a deep red and very gelatinous. I looked up, concerned, at my mom but she reassured me that this stuff was just as good. It wasn't. It tasted like a cat crap sandwich. My days of good cough syrup were over.

I still have a fond rememberance of the smell of my special, pink cough syrup. It was a very putrid, yet oddly sweet smell that I can still recall to this day. Oddly enough, I smelled this very smell again today. It illicited so many memories of my childhood sick days home from school that I had to take a couple of minutes to just sit and think back. Once I finished my nostalgic look back, I stood up off of the toilet, and figured I should get back to work, but before I could fully focus on my work I was confronted by one overpowering thought, "How come my poop smelled like cough medicine?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Armor for Sleep - What to Do When You are Dead CD Review

There is one thing—one thing only—that is eminently certain in our lives, that one thing being the distressing fact that at one point in the future the life that we are currently living will come to an all too abrupt end. As much as we would all like to live forever, the harsh truth is that it is impossible. Of course, there are a myriad of religions and philosophies promulgating the existence of an afterlife, but even with their many varied assurances, the fact remains that this life, this current incarnation of our being, will end. This terrifying piece of knowledge, in combination with an exploration of what may come in the afterlife (assuming its existence), and how people react to death fuels Armor for Sleep’s sophomore album, What to Do When You are Dead.

Concept albums in general are usually ill received and concept albums dealing with deep, personal concepts such as death and the afterlife are usually even more harshly looked down upon. Bucking all of the notions that the making of a concept album about death would be a bad idea, Armor for Sleep have not only created one of the best concept albums to be heard in a very long time, but they have managed to create what will no doubt be a cd that falls on many critic’s 2005 top 10 lists. Armor for Sleep not only take you on an interesting lyrical trip that looks at the afterlife, but they also craft a set of 11 unbelievably compelling emo / post-hardcore / hard rock songs to complement your journey.

As good as this cd is, there is one small flaw that acts as a tiny stumbling block for the band—the lack of anything truly new and unique to bring to the musical table. If you’ve listened to Jimmy Eat World’s latest, Emanuel, or any one of the slew of emo rock bands out there, you’ll be quite familiar with Armor for Sleep’s musical style. With that said, this one drawback is easily overcame by the simple fact that this release is easily one of the catchiest and most mature efforts to grace the cd racks in years.

Armor for Sleep have struck a perfect balance between mid tempo, pondering, emo styled songs and driving, introspective, hard rock tunes. The songwriting talent on display throughout this cd shows a definite knowledge of how to write music that can hook a listener without having to resort to trite, clichéd tactics. Taken individually, there are many standout tracks, but this album, because of its nature, screams out to be listened to as a whole straight through from beginning to end.

For those of you who are less interested in this album’s conceptual nature, you will not be disappointed in listening to each song individually, as each stands on its own quite well. A few songs in particular are a cut above the rest and deserve mention, such as the leadoff track, “Car Underwater,” which sets the tone of the album. Starting out with crooning vocals over light guitars, followed by the addition of a somber bass line, the song then kicks right into a driving chorus that’s easy to sing along with as well as uncannily catchy at the same time. The fifth track, “Stay on the Ground,” is also notable in that it showcases Armor for Sleep at their most emotionally intense. As opposed to the beautifully melodic vocals of the majority of the cd, you can feel Ben Jorgenson, the lead vocalist/guitarist, straining to belt out the lyrics of the pre-chorus and bridge. Instead of making the song weaker, hearing the stretch that Ben is making gives this song a commanding, booming edge over the remainder of the cd.

Every song on this release, not just the tracks I made note of above, is quite strong. There are no evident weak points on this disc, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself, especially when many bands are content to add filler tracks to their discs just to fill space between the good songs. Do yourself a favor and pick this cd up as soon as you can. You’ll be hearing a ton about Armor for Sleep in the future, as well as seeing this disc on many “best of” lists come the end of the year, so don’t put off giving them a listen for too long—you’ll be missing out on one of the best rock cds of the year.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sno Core 2005

Going to a sold out show in Minnesota during February is a sure fire way of catching a cold, which is just what I did thanks to the horrible way that The Quest Club in Minneapolis handles letting people into the venue. There is only one entrance that they use to herd everyone through. Even though they have multiple shows starting at the same time in the same building, they only use this one entrance. This leads to long wait times out in the freezing cold, which is no fun. Since there’s also no coat check at the venue and it’s easily 80-90 degrees inside the club by the end of the night, you don’t want to bring a coat in. I ended up standing in line outside for about 30 minutes in my sweatshirt, and this was after waiting in the skyway by the parking lot next to The Quest for an hour before the doors opened. Even being there that early, I didn’t get in until after the first band, Strata, had already finished their set.

Once I finally got in, I situated myself on the upper deck of the club since I didn’t want to have to put up with all of the 15 year old kids on the main floor. I really detest all ages shows because you end up getting so many little kids there that think they own the place cramming onto the main floor. You either end up having to go to the balcony to avoid them or knock through them during the show, which is kind of fun at first, but it gets old fast.

A few minutes after I got in and up to the balcony, Future Leaders of the World came on. I liked their cd that they released last year well enough, but their live show was, well, to put it bluntly, terrible. It wasn’t just the band, though, as the sound crew did a terrible job of working with the band. The mixing was horrendous with the bass pretty much nonexistent and the vocals altogether too high in the mix, which wasn’t a good thing since the vocals were pretty unbearable. The guy’s voice, as interesting and different as it was on their cd, was really hard to stomach live. Thankfully, for one song the mic went out completely and the crowd didn’t have to be subjected to his annoyingly grating vocals for that small respite.

I wasn’t the only one not digging this band as the crowd didn’t really get into their set at all either, which led the band to just wander around the stage playing while trying to deal with the idiots in the sound crew that were working the show. The vocalist even went so far as to just sit at the front of the stage when him mic went out while the rest of the band continued to play on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band more disinterested in playing than these guys. I don’t care if the sound crew screws up, at least make it look like you want to play. Frankly, though, I didn’t care that much because no amount of energy would have saved their terrible performance. The final grade for Future Leaders’ performance would have to be a C- at best and really came out at more of a D when you factor in the sound problems that went along with their uninspired performance.

The next band on the bill was Crossfade, who were apparently also the band that the majority of the teens in the crowd were there to see. As they came onstage, all of the kids in the place went ape. I couldn’t help but laugh just a little when I saw all the 15 year old boys and teenage girls creaming themselves over this band. The sound mixing wasn’t any better for Crossfade than it was for Future Leaders. For Crossfade, though, the sound operators mixed the turntables way too high while leaving the guitars very muddled sounding (although that might have been Crossfade playing sloppy, I’m not sure).

It was actually somewhat comical to watch Crossfade play as they managed to look like some of the biggest posers around while still being able to get the crowd to move. I have a few big problems with the band’s live show that most of the crowd didn’t seem to share. First, for one of the songs, the band used pre-recorded guitars for the intro. Let that sink in for a minute… they used pre-recorded guitars when they had a guitar player on stage! Come on guys, play your instruments! I know the DJ doesn’t have that much to do, but for crap’s sake, don’t used pre-recorded passages of instruments you have hanging off of your shoulders—play them! Speaking of DJs, didn’t they go out of style in the late 90’s? I thought that the trend of having a DJ in a rock band ended at about the same time the rap-rock fad did. Well, Crossfade’s DJ didn’t really do much for the band other than spin on his faux record turntable and flick some knobs occasionally. When he wasn’t doing that, he was barking out the rapping portion of Crossfade’s songs and pointing at the crowd with his hand in the form of a gun trying to be as “gansta” as possible by shooting the people in the crowd. He did this every single time he came to a rap section of a song. Someone should tell him, however, that he’s as far from being hip when he does that as is humanly possible.

If you were to judge a band’s success on how well the crowd gets into their set, then I’d have to say Crossfade was very successful, but if you judge a band’s success on how competent they are on stage, then Crossfade failed horribly. Personally, I thought their set was more comical than anything else, and because they made me laugh I have to give them a grade slightly higher than Future Leaders, a C+.

After a long 20 minute setup period, Helmet took to the stage. Sadly, I think the majority of the crowd didn’t even know who they were. They broke into some old tunes right off the bat, which I’m sure only me and a couple of other people in the crowd actually recognized. The crowd got into some of the heavier mosh moments on some of the songs, but I think most of them were just waiting around for Chevelle to come on. It’s too bad that the crowd didn’t get into Helmet’s set a little more because they played a wonderful 40 minutes of groove oriented rock.

By the time Helmet was playing, the sound techs had fortunately fixed the terrible mixing problems they had with Future Leaders and Crossfade. Helmet are an extremely tight live band and it is evident to anyone watching them that they have put in tons of shows together. Their set consisted of a healthy mix of songs from Betty, Aftertaste, Size Matters, and even the title track from Meantime. Most of the crowd was probably in diapers or elementary school when Meantime came out (I was only 11 at the time) so I’m sure a lot of the appreciation for their older stuff was lost on most of the kids there. I was quite happy, though, that most of their set consisted of songs from Betty with their performances of “Wilma’s Rainbow” and “Miquetoast” being two of the more memorable moments of the night.

If I had been down on the lower level, I would have been going nuts throughout Helmet’s set, even though most of the kids were just standing there nodding their heads to the groove of the music. Helmet are a phenomenal and very energetic live band that easily made up for having to suffer through Future Leaders and Crossfade. Their set easily earns an A-.

The headliners for the night were Chevelle, a band I had been a fan of since the release of their debut cd, Point #1. I had spun their live cd, Live from the Road, a few times through and had liked what I heard, so I was really anticipating their set. When they came out and finally started playing, for the entire hour they were onstage, they didn’t disappoint. What really stuck out about their set was how thick and full of a sound they had for being only a three piece band.

Much like Helmet, Chevelle focused a lot on playing songs from a past release, in this case their sophomore effort, Wonder What’s Next. They also played a healthy dose of songs from their latest disc, This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In, making for a good mix of songs. What was unfortunate, though, was the fact that they didn’t play anything off of Point #1. I’m sure they did this because not many people going to their shows would know any of the songs off of it and they have plenty of material to play from their last two discs, but it still would have been nice to have heard “Mia.” It’s quite forgivable, though, as Chevelle put on a mighty fine show, getting the crowd to jump up off their feet and move on almost every song. Chevelle’s songs translated extremely well into a live environment as the many varied buildups and thundering choruses in their songs were perfect for churning up the crowd and getting them to go nuts at just the right time. There were two songs in particular that managed to get just about everyone in the entire venue moving—“Forfeit” and “The Clincher”—both of which have booming choruses that everyone got into.

Even though it was quite late by the time Chevelle got done, the majority of the crowd, including myself, wanted more. I know that whenever I want to see a band play even longer, they must have been doing something right. I’d easily go see them again, especially at an 18+ show so I wouldn’t have to wade through all of little kids on the main floor. In the end, I have to give Chevelle an A- as well. They are a wonderful band to see live, but they aren’t quite lively enough onstage to warrant a full A.

All in all, getting to see Helmet and Chevelle made having to suffer through Future Leaders and Crossfade worth it. I’d highly recommend seeing either Helmet or Chevelle if you get the chance.

The Devil Doesn't Get His Due

I was checking the box office results for the weekend this morning and I was surprised and disheartened at the same time to see that Constantine was beat out by Hitch for the weekend. True it was only a 1.3 million difference ($31.8M for Hitch and $30.5M for Constantine), but just knowing that more people would rather go to an extremely crappy Will Smith comedy that looks horribly unappealing then go to see an introspective action movie about a man working to save his soul makes me sad. Maybe the fact that Constantine starred Keanu Reeves scared people away. I know he's reviled by many movie watchers, and Will Smith, no matter how horrendous of a movie he is in, seems to get audiences to flock to see him.

I also don't understand all of the negative reviews for Constantine. Sure, Keanu isn't the best actor in the world, but I think his emotional detachment schtick that he uses in every movie he's in actually works this time. John Constantine is a man who's seen everything there is to see, which I think might lead someone to be a little jaded and flat, especially knowing that no matter what you seem to do, you're still doomed to go to hell. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'd rather see Keanu in a dark, action flick than Will Smith in any type of comedy any day. The only movies that Smith has been in that I've actually found watchable were I, Robot and Independence Day and the only reason I liked those two movies was for the eye candy. I could have cared less who the actors were in either of them so having Will Smith play the leads didn't matter to me.

What I also find amazing is that critics are always on Keanu's case for playing the same part in every movie when Hollywood darling Smith is just as guilty. It doesn' matter what movie he's been in (Bad Boys, Independence Day, Wild Wild West, I Robot, whatever), he's never played a character other than himself in the title role. He's always got the hard-ass look when he needs it and the same smiling comedic relief when the story needs it. He never deviates from playing himself in a movie. I am probably one of the few people on the planet that thinks this, but I feel that Keanu has slightly more acting chops than Smith does, but Smith is loved by everyone because he's charismatic in most of his roles as opposed to reserved and detached.

Anyhow, to get back to where I was originally going, I thought Constantine was a really good movie that didn't play out like an average Hollywood blockbuster. It actually felt like there was thought, time, and love put into this movie instead of simply using a stock movie template and adding a couple of twists to it. Go see Constantine. Even if you hate Keanu, go see it. Don't let your blind hatred of Reeves cloud a great movie that he actually manages to play a decent part in. It's a good movie, even if all the critics were paid to say otherwise.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Candle in the Night

The small lick of flame coming from a candle so often illicits emotions of a peace, safety, and calm. In college I started to burn candles in my room in order to spruce up the smell of my apartment. My nose enjoyed the vanilla, pine, apricot, and other sweet smells much more than the empty vacuum of smell that was there before. As time progressed, and I met Kristin, the candles also became a sign of the closeness of our relationship. Many a night I would sit down to read, light a candle, and wait for Kristin to come over. Once she got there, we'd just sit and talk in the candlelight, simply enjoying each other's company. Unlike many couples, we didn't have to go do something to have fun--we were comfortable and enjoyed the peace of each other's prescence.

Living at home with my parents, my penchant for candle burning has come under attack from my mother. She doesn't like the fact that there is a force of destruction, no matter its size, in our house. She's afraid that I'll burn down the house or start something on fire, but I always keep an attentive eye on the candles I burn, as I so much enjoy being by them as their flames ficker and their smells waft upward into the air.

I do not know if it was sheer boredom or an overdose of curiosity, but I found myself examining the small, globe shaped, snowman candle I've been burning in my room at night. It was a gift from my grandma and I enjoy the glimmer of the snowmen as the flame inside illuminates the scene painted on the outside. The candle is getting close to the end of its life and I probably only have a few more nights of burning it left.

As the flame was burning, I closely examined the inside of the candle, the well that had formed as the wick had worked its way downward. The outsides of this well told of the waxy history of the candle. Near the wick the wax was liquid and still in flux--it's history yet to be cemented, but at the top of the candle, there would not be enough heat from the flame to ever change the streaky beads of wax that had formed.

The shapes and style of the wax buildup can tell you a lot about the flame that burned its way down. When the flame was strong, the well extended very far outward and some of the blue of the outer shell had melted into the off-white of the inner well. The odd permutations of blue that were formed were both beautiful and ugly, depending upon how the flame had merged the white wax with the candle's coating. As the well progressed downward, the outer walls moved futher inward, denoting that the flame was less powerful as it worked its way down. It no longer possessed the power melt the wax all the way out to the exterior of the candle.

As I looked closer at the walls near the flame that was burning, I saw that it had widened at one point. For some reason the flame grew stronger for a period before it contracted to the size that it currently burned at. Who knows if it'll flame up like that again before the wick runs out and the candle is snuffed out permanently, it's course having been run.

Each candle burns in its own style and creates its own unique path from the top of the wick to the bottom. Once a candle has burned to the bottom, it cannot be burned again. It has finished what it was meant to do--bring a light to the small pocket of darkness it illuminated.

A candle does not need to burn bright to be beautiful. Some candles flare up into a blazing bright light while others burn slowly and dimly. All are beautiful, however, if you only take the chance to notice them.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Mournful - Monochrome CD Review

It seems like lately the trendy thing to do if you’re a metal band is to just load up each song with a huge amount of breakdowns and scream along choruses, probably in order to show that you’re heavier than everyone else. Metal bands would rather be known for being intense, insane, and heavy as all hell instead of being known for being able to craft beautiful melodies and tender musical passages to complement their metal nature. Admittedly, it is harder to make an emotional metal release without it sounding contrived than it is to make a blistering metalcore cd that sounds crunchy and loud. It’s much more difficult to craft just the right amount of melody to go with the aggression than it is to simply crank up the amps and scream like you’re getting disemboweled. Mournful are one of the few bands that have managed to match their more tender emotions with the type of metal they play, crafting a very potent melodic metal release.

Mournful have two distinct styles metal that can be found to be at play on this cd. The first style has very intense and throttling guitars, driving drums, and aggressive bass lines playing with melodic vocals flowing over the top, offsetting the aggressive nature of the music. The other style consists of having melodic vocals work in tandem with a very contemplative, slow to mid tempo style of progressive metal. One example of the first style can be found in the song, “Granada,” the lead off track, in which Mournful grab you by the ears and make you listen. Truthfully, though, the real aggressive moments on this cd are outnumbered by the predominantly tender, emotional metal style that is so expertly on display through most of this release.

One way to visualize… well, audiblize maybe… anyways, to get a sense of what the basic musical formula Mournful uses sounds like, you could combine the progressive musical style of Tool with a healthy does of A Types era Hopesfall tempos and add to it a haunting tenor vocalist who’s not afraid to reach into his falsetto range, as well as throw in some doom metal tendencies and an occasional scream. This only gives you a general overview of Mournful’s different parts, of course, but as is often the case, these guys are a lot more than just a sum of their parts.

Many of the songs on this disc, such as “LHC” and “Head Down,” will draw you in with their initial mellow build up, hook you with their crooning choruses, and sink their claws into you completely with their culminating emotional climaxes of raw emotional release. If you let this cd sink in, I mean really give it all of your focus, you’ll find one of the best emotional metal releases to hit in quite some time. Monochrome manages to merge together all of the pieces that are needed to create a perfect emotional metal release.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Post Valentine's Day Thoughts

It occurred to me this morning, as I was making my coffee in a cold medicine induced haze (yes, I'm still sicker than a really sick thing that is covered in sickness while eating a bowl of sick and wallowing in a vat of sick), I realized that I never had my annual "sit back and reflect upon Valentine's Day" post. I'm guessing the reason for this is a comilation of many different things, such as me being sick, and Kristin being in another country, and my putting in a 12 hour workday, and my not being surrounded by Valentine's Day "stuff." Usually I'd either be all gung-ho about the "holdiay" because I got to celebrate it with a lovely lady or else I'd be railing against it with a passionate fire, scalding the consumeristic and manufactured nature of the day. Oddly, I don't really feel either this year.

Sure, I hate the premise of Valentine's Day, or more appropriately, I hate the materialistic and manufactured feeling of the day. It's expected that a guy will get a girl flowers or a card or chocolates or all of those things and maybe take her out to dinner or a play or something. It's always the same thing every year and that's part of what I hate. When Valentine's Day rolls around, the last thing I think about is doing something traditional like that. I don't like be one of the crowd. Instead, I try to do something unique or get something unique... either that or I'd go party with the guys and play really violent video games to drown out the fact that we didn't have girlfriends, but those times are behind me.

It saddens me as well that Valentine's Day has become such a one sided day in the eyes of the majority of the populace. Guys are supposed to get things or do things for the ladies while the same ladies aren't expected to do anything more than say "Thank you, honey, I love you." Where's the effort from the ladies? Now before I get a bunch of angry comments from the ladies out there that do do wonderful things for the guys in their lives, I want to point out that I am only speaking in generalities because it seems that this is how the majority of the populace is supposed to act on this holiday, not that everyone does.

Personally, I just think Valentine's Day needs to be celebrated more creatively by people. Candy, cards, and flowers are all nice... but they're also extremely cliched. Guys, be unique and do something special that your girl will remember. Ladies, if you feel so inclined, do something sweet for your guy. Even if we act all macho and complain about Valentine's Day, we actually really love it when you do something for us. It helps us to remember that we're special too, and that we're loved.

Anyways, I'm going to return to being sick now and leave you to think about what way-cool, super-neato things you're going to do for Valentine's Day in 2006. You've got plenty of time to start thinking, so make it something special. I know I've already got my thinking cap on!

Monday, February 14, 2005


As I was browsing the slashdot games subpage this morning, I found a link to CarnageStats, a web based service for tracking all of your Halo 2 stats from Xbox Live. I haven't linked my gamertag to a MS Passport yet so I can't try it out, but it looks interesting enough for me to actually get a MS Passport just so I can track my terrible Halo 2 stats. Since we have a satellite internet connection and my Xbox is hooked into our home network wirelessly, many of the games I play suffer from some monster lag, but even so I still find Halo 2 fun to play online.

I've been playing the single player game and I figure I'm about a third or half way through the game and so far it feels a lot like the original Halo. What I don't like is the Covenant subplot where you play levels as the Arbiter. Maybe it comes into play down the line in the game (I certainly hope it does), but right now I don't like playing as a member of the enemy. It takes away from the cohesiveness by flip flopping you between the Arbiter and Master Chief. I suppose the developers wanted to do something somewhat different with this iteration of the game since a lot of the rest of it feels pretty similar to the first one.

Oh, since I'm talking about video games, I'd like to take a moment to plug Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. I finished this game a few weeks ago and it was easily one of the best Xbox games I've played in a long time. The graphics were sweet. The plot was great for a video game. It felt very polished. It was just really fun! The best way to describe the gameplay would be to say that it's a mix of Halo and Splinter Cell with some Breakdown thrown in. I liked how the hand to hand combat was used throughout to complement the usual weapon based combat in a first person shooter. The stealth portions of the game weren't too hard and didn't feel forced like in some games I've played. All in all, this game is better than all the hype put out about it, and it's a game based on a movie to boot! How often do you have that happen?

Put Me Out of My Misery

Everyone knows what it's like to be sick and it's never very fun. I've been sick since Wednesday night now and it doesn't look like it's getting any better, which doubly sucks because yesterday during the day I felt pretty decent... up until the evening.

Wednesday, I felt a little tickle in my throat and had a few coughs. I thought it would be nothing and that it would pass soon. Thursday I felt the same. Then I went to the Sno-Core concert in the cities where I had to wait outside in the cold for a while and then I spent like 3 and a half hours in a smokey overly warm club only to go back outside into the cold in search of my car.

Friday I felt pretty crappy from the time I woke up and even left work a tad early since I felt like ass. I spent the rest of the night just lounging around feeling icky. Saturday I was supposed to go to see Break the Silence with Jared, but I ended up staying home and curling up on the couch instead.

Since I was sick I finally got around to watching In the Bedroom. I'd been meaning to watch it for a long time now, but I usually don't like watching depressing movies unless I already feel like crap. Since I was sick as all get out, I figured that'd be the perfect time to watch it. After watching it, I'm sad I put it off so long because it was a great, great film, but quite depressing and not one I'd like to see again any time soon.

Sunday, feeling much better in the morning, I took a trip up to St. Cloud to go see Aquila Theatre's performance of The Invisible Man and visit my friend Theresa. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon and it felt good to be up on campus again. It's just too bad that the play wasn't a little better than it was. I don't think I've ever seen so many set changes in one play. There were times when the set would be changed ever 2 minutes or so. Sure, they did some neat scene transitions, but I couldn't get invested in the story because it felt so broken up and disjointed. There were also portions of the play acted out in silence, while others were acted out in attempts at different theater styles, all the while the majority of the play was acted out in a standard format. I guess I just couldn't get invested in this performance. Even so, it was nice to actually see a play again. It'd been a while and I miss seeing honest to goodness people acting out a story instead of simply popping in a DVD for the evening.

Now today I woke up hoping to feel better, but I feel 10 times worse than I did before. To add to the suckiness of the situation, I'm working until 8 tonight since I have to pick up Underminded from the airport to come back to my place. I suppose I could just sit back and zone out for a while in my chair. We'll see how the days goes as the cold medicine I took sucks ass and isn't really helping.

Oh, and a Happy Valentine's Day to everyone out there. Have a good one.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I'm Beat

Man, yesterday was a long day of work, then I went to the Twin Cities to catch the Sno-Core tour as it came through town in order to write up a concert review for Decoy, now today I have another long day of work... and I'm sick. Dammit. At least I'm not writing for work right now--it's back to photoshopping screen mockups for requirements.

Anyhow, I was at Sno-Core yesterday and it was a sold out show. I'll post a full review later, but here are some preliminary comments about the show:

--Too many teenie boppers coming to see the crappiest band on the tour, Crossfade.
--Sold out show meant long line in cold, not good for my cold.
--Missed Strata because The Quest is so slow at getting people in. This left Rick pissed off.
--Future Leaders of the World are at their best when the singer wasn't singing (thank God that the sound crew was full of idiots and turned his mic off for a song).
--Did I mention the sound crew for the show were atrociously bad? Well, they were.
--The show was way behind schedule.
--Crossfade got the biggest reaction from all the little kids there.
--Crossfade sucks live. Someone should tell them that wannabe DJ's went out of style with Limp Bizkit.
--Crossfade used recorded guitars for one song. Learn to actually play your instruments.
--Helmet rocks my face off so hard it's sitting on the floor looking back at me.
--I think only 5 people total knew who the hell Helmet were.
--Helmet played a lot of old songs, which rocks my face off even more.
--Chevelle has the thickest, meatiest sound I've ever heard to come from a three piece.
--Chevelle's songs translate great to a live environment.
--Chevelle also played a lot of songs from their previous disc (unfortunately none from their debut, but I'll let it go), which made my night.
--Suffocation was playing next door and I wish I was over there watching them during Crossfade and Future Leaders.
--Helmet and Chevelle are worth the money.
--All the smoke in the venue made my cold even worse.
--Not getting home until 1:00 and then getting up early for work also didn't help my cold.
--Still worth it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

You're Looking at a Record Holder

After watching the Millrose games on Saturday, I started getting really nostalgic about my track days. I really enjoyed being in track back in high school and sometimes wish that I would have continued on doing it in college, but injuries and lack of time kept me from it unfortunately. I enjoyed track (and cross country) much more than I did basketball because it was an individual sport where I was responsible for what I did and didn't depend on anyone else (unless it was a relay, of course). I also knew that I was going to play, as opposed to basketball when I could get to play 2 minutes or an entire half depending upon the coaching style of the game.

In cross country, I was never that great of a runner. I was usually the 5, 6, or 7 guy on our team and since we didn't have a very deep team this meant that I never really was much competition for the runners on the other teams. My first 5K I ran in something around 21 and a half minutes, which if you're not a CC runner, is atrocious. By the end of the season I had my times down to right under 20 minutes and I think my personal best for the season was 19:30 or something around there. As I said before, this isn't very good, especially in comparison to the lead runners who'd be finishing in the upper 16's and low 17's.

I eventually worked my 5K time down to around 18:30, but that was while I was in college and was simply training to do road races. Even though it was much better than my high school times, I was not even close to being good enough to compete at the collegate level. That, and my ankle injury still bothered me at times.

Now, back to where I was actually going with this--track. Part of the reason I enjoyed this sport so much was the variety of what I got to do. Throughout my high school track career I did every event except for pole vault, hurdles, and high jump. Many of the events I wasn't very good at, but sprints were my forte. Most often I'd run a combination of the open 100, 200, 400 and the 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400. Obviously I couldn't run all six because of Minnesota State High School League rules, but I'd often run a mixed combination of the six.

As I was putting some of my little brother's stuff away from when we'd moved it out of his room to carpet, I noticed his track stats sheet from last year. Still in my nostalgic state, I glanced through it, noting how Ryan had did in his events (he only does shotput and discus). At the end of the packet was a list of all of the school records. While I was a senior, I was actually a part of 3 of the relay school records--the 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400. We had an extremely good sprinting crew that year with a couple of developing underclassmen. These little whipper-snappers broke the 4x100 and 4x200 records the next year after I had graduated. I figured that they'd also take the 4x400 record... but they didn't.

Right there in the Hayfield track and field record book, my name was still printed, along with my three teammates, as holding the 4x400 school record. That is probably my biggest accomplishment in high school sports, and I can only hope it stays in there for a while.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Teenage Rebellion

There's always so much talk about how teenagers are terrible to raise and have no respect for authority and do nothing but cause trouble and stuff like that. I never really put much stock in that talk because I never had a rebellious teenage phase, but as I watch my brother going through it, I can easily see why people think this.

Being one of the not so popular crowd throughout most of high school instilled in me a great sense of respecting authority. Not the authority of my teachers or pricipal or anything like that, though. No, instead I respected the authority of the kids who were older than me. I knew my role and acted accordingly.

When the older kids budged in line for lunch, I let it go because they had seniority. When pushed over to the window to accomodate a larger, older kid on the bus, I looked out the window and ignored it. When I got knocked around in the halls walking to class, I righted myself and kept on walking. There was an order to things, and I knew my place.

Things changed somehow in the time I was a freshman and sophomore to my days as a junior and senior. Now that I and my fellow classmates were the big dogs, we could budge in line or move younger kids to window, or do any of the other things associated with our new stature as upperclassmen. There was a problem, however, in that no one seemed to have told all the underclassmen their place in the chain of command.

When you'd try to budge for lunch, the little bastards would push you right back out of line or bitch to any instructor walking by. If you ran into someone younger than you in the hall instead of moving along, they'd turn back and push you while at the same time tattling to a teacher. They had no respect for the natural order of things. I had played my part and lived through being on the recieving end of things, but I never reaped the benefits of my upperclassman stature. Between my grade and the grade below me, there was a change and a lack of respect ran rampant throughout the younger kids and it has forever changed how the natural pecking order in high schoool has operated at Hayfield High School ever since.

My respect for the upperclassmen transferred over to respecting my parents, my teachers, and other people with more authority than myself. Now since kids aren't put in their place by older kids, you get a generation of little punks that don't know to respect their teachers or parents. My little brother is a perfect example. He only ever cares about what he wants, no matter how it affects other people or who is telling him what he can or can't do. It doesn't matter and he'll feel fully justified in acting out because my parents didn't respond to his demand.

He does not recognize the authority that my parents command, but only selfishly looks at how his orders weren't obeyed. It riles me up that either a) I never got to exercise the ability to be a complete prick when I was younger or b) younger kids, such as my brother, don't recognize the position that a parent holds over them.

Teenage rebellion was never something I experienced. Part of me is glad, while part of me feels cheated.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Unwritten Law - Here's to the Mourning CD Review

Does anyone want to tell me what happened? This sure isn’t the classic Unwritten Law of many years past, or even that of a scant couple of years ago. Their self titled release from 1998 was a competently done punk record that garnered a decent fan following after a few years of releasing surf punk discs to a rather small following. Four long years later they released Elva, which showed them to be moving in a more hard rock oriented direction. Thankfully it was still a pretty good listen. A year later they released Music in High Places, which was hit or miss depending upon how much you dug listening to their songs acoustically. Now in 2005, Unwritten Law have released Here’s to the Mourning, a horribly misguided album lacking the punk of their early work, missing the intimacy of Music in High Places, and making extremely bad use of the hard rock style they showcased on Elva.

From the second track of this disc (the first is an intro), you’re confronted with a band unsure of whether to stick to what they’ve done well on their last studio release or try to change what they’ve done in order to grab a bigger audience. There are a few driving hard rock songs, such as “Lost Control” and “F.I.G.H.T.,” but for the majority of the disc you’ll be subjected to a healthy chunk of cheesy pop rock in which they make use of almost every terrible rock cliché that you know.

“Get Up” gets off to a good start with some thick, meaty guitars, but once the chorus hits you’ll be rolling your eyes at the high pitched “get up, get up, get up” background vocals and the unintentionally bad melodic lead vocals. “Celebration Song” starts out much like “Get Up” with the driving guitars, but this good start is again ruined by a new wave inspired verse structure that sounds unbelievably out of place. Maybe the third time will be a charm? Well, as opposed to the previous two tracks, “Because of You” starts off very mellow in a decidedly pop-rock style complete with “oooohhh”s in the back up vocals before doing the pop-rock chorus. After three terrible songs, “Lost Control,” the fourth is one of the few decent entries on this disc—a straight ahead, simple, hard rock tune.

As for the rest of the disc, there’s a ton of even more terrible hard rock songs polluted by pop conventions. It’s sad to hear all of the good moments presented in so many of the songs as they are eventually played off and watered down by an attempt at being the next big radio friendly rock band. Take a look at their first single, “Save Me,” for example. It starts off with a melodic verse over a clean cut guitar line only to be followed by the quick paced, three chord rock out chorus, complete with sing-a-long vocals, from which you are lead into the bridge, which consists of bouncy guitars and “whoa-oh” vocals, followed shortly by an extra mellow verse, which is then topped off with a blast of the chorus and more “whoa-oh” backup vocals. This is manufactured pop rock taken straight from the template laid down by hundreds of past pop-rock bands. For an even more egregious use of crappy pop clichés, listen to “I Like the Way,” in which you get hip hop vocals and whistling among other things.

More than anything, I feel sad for these guys because any bit of respect or following they’ve garnered over the last few years from their fans is going to fly right out the window with this release. If you are one of their fans, go back and listen to Elva or their self titled release a few more times and pretend this release never happened. It’ll be for the best, trust me—manufactured radio has claimed its latest victim and went by the name Unwritten Law.

Comics and How to Get Arrested

I was reading over at Peter David's site about the latest CBLDF case where a comics retailor was arrested on two different counts--distributing obscene material to a minor and distributing material depicting nudity. Read up on the story in David's post as he describes it much better than I.

This is unbelievably stupid for more than a few reasons. The first, and biggest in my mind, is the simple idiocy of it all. A retailor is arrested for distributing a comic book that depicts a naked Picasso. He's not doing anything sexual, he is simply portrayed naked in the comic book. For distributing this story to a minor, he was arrested. Yet this same retailor can distribute to the same kid the latest issue of the Punisher where he's graphically blowing the shit out of people. It's ok for a kid to read about that, but as soon as there's a boob or a penis on the pages, you're in trouble.

The law and our governmental administrators really need to get their priorities straight. Pictures (non sexual) of a naked guy are bad. People getting shot in the face and having the shooter make smart ass remarks about it is ok. This doesn't seem right to me. And people wonder why Europeans think we're all so odd over here.

Super Bowl Commentary

I'm going to assume everyone watched the game. If you didn't... what the hell is wrong with you? Considering watching the game was some of the only relaxing time I had this weekend, I was extra critical of it entertaining me. Much of the weekend was spent rearranging stuff in our basement so we could carpet, painting my brother's room, and getting all the comics I've left just sitting around in our addition put away so we can start cramming as much stuff as we can in there. The biggest problem about carpeting a huge living room that you've been using to store stuff that's been moved out of other room's that needed to be carpeted is that you eventually have to move all of that stuff out of there to somewhere else. Anyhow, Super Bowl.

I started watching at about 5 or 5:15 just to see what they had on right before the game. About the time I turned it on they were doing some singing performance or other crap like that which didn't interest me at all so I went to grab something to drink and some snacks (Red Bull and Gummi Worms). When I got back a 15 minute military tribute had started. Is it just me, or was the whole military tribute thing unnecessary?

See, I usually try to keep my sports and my reverence for big events where lots of people died separate. If I wanted to recognize the troops of many of our nation's past wars, I'd go pop in a documentary or turn on the History channel or something of that nature. I wouldn't turn on a football game. To me using the anniversary of WWII seemed like a very transparent way of doing some type of tribute that makes it seem like we're doing the world a favor by what we did in Iraq. I'm sure it's a little bit of a better place now... I hope, but the way we went about it and how we executed our follow-up plan has felt like a really morbid joke to me, and this pre-game presentation seemed like a part of the punchline.

So after we're finished with our military propaganda... err, tribute, we get the national anthem which I thought was very well done. I like it much better when an ensemble of people sing it as opposed to a single person. It feels more professional and is less likely to be screwed up.

Next we had the coin flip, which was awesome for one reason--the coin never really flipped. The way that the kid tossed it up into the air was hilarious in that he did it in just the right way that it stayed parallel to the ground almost the entire time it was in the air.

As for the game, I thought it was decently entertaining. The first quarter was pretty boring in that neither offense could really muster much of anything, but I'd rather have that than having one team simply run away with the game. One thing that I would really liked to have seen, though, was TO just getting smashed a few times. I don't think I've ever disliked a professional athlete as much as I hate that cocky bastard. Someone should have given him a good, hard hit at the knees and really put some pressure on that ankle of his. I know it's terrible to wish injury on somebody, but he is truly a douchebomber if I've ever seen one.

The halftime show was ludicrously lame. I never really thought about how lame McCartney's songs were before the halftime show. Since we don't have cable there wasn't anything good to channel surf to so I just watched it while I made some supper. His song about a car... man, I was writing lyrics better than that in 3rd grade. Really, I don't understand how he got so famous... oh, he was in that Beatles band wasn't he? I forgot for a moment. He should have hung it up after the Beatles were finished because everything he's done since has been pretty atrocious. At least his rendition of "Hey Jude" wasn't too bad. All in all, the halftime show gets a thumbs down for the sheer amount of boredom it caused me.

The advertisements, though, now there is why most people tune in. There were some decent ones this year. Here are a few that I liked:

--All of the advertisements with the monkeys. Who doesn't love monkies? I think every good commercial needs a monkey in it.
--The FedEx commercial detailing the 10 things needed to make a successful commercial. Any time you can work the words "groin kick" into an ad, you're money.
--The "don't judge too quickly" ad with the man holding the cat and the knife over the pool of spaghetti sauce was easily my favorite of the night. I was actually laughing out loud at it after it was over.

The following commercials were totally lame and a waste of good money:

--The preview for The Pacifier. A tip for Vin Diesel: stick to action movies where all you have to do is look gruff and hit people.
--The preview for XXX 2. Ice Cube as the new XXX? As if the first with Diesel wasn't bad enough. As for Samuel Jackson still being attached to the project? Man he gets himself into some real crappy flicks.
--The Mastercard commercial with the Marvel superheroes was pretty lame. I was expecting either a super campy spot or something seriously awesome. Turns out it was neither and because of that it was an utter failure. Way to whore out your properties even more, Marvel.

As for the rest, none really stick out in my mind a day after the event. I wanted to stay up and watch the new Simpsons episode and American Dad after the game, but I had reached my tv limit after watching the four hours the game went on for. So, in comparison to the last few Super Bowls, this one was pretty good. I was satisfied. Now if only the Vikings could ever get there... but that's kind of like asking for logical governmental decisions from our current president.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Jimmy Chamberlin Complex - Life Begins Again CD Review

Jimmy Chamberlin is, no doubt, most well known for being a member of the pioneering alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. To some fans of the Pumpkins, such as myself, he’ll be remembered as the one surrounded by trouble and mired with drug problems. After his ins and outs with the Pumpkins, and later after the band’s dissolution, Jimmy didn’t disappear from the music scene. Many of you will recall Zwan, which was Jimmy and Billy Corgan’s underwhelming follow-up to their days as Pumpkins. Now, a few years later, Jimmy is back again with a very spacey and eclectic new musical offering in Life Begins Again.

First off, if you’re expecting anything resembling The Smashing Pumpkins or Zwan, you are not going to find much here to fulfill your urges. True, there is one song featuring Billy Corgan—“Lokicat”—and there are a few driving alternative rock passages, such as can be found on “Cranes of Prey” and “Newerwaves,” but for the most part this disc is not going to be for fans of the Pumpkins. Having said that, if you give this release a genuine chance, you’ll find that it is actually a very well done, if a little self-indulgent, experimental space rock effort.

Many of the songs possess an airy feel to them in that they give the illusion of floating from one passage to the next. There are only vocals on a few tracks, so this is achieved almost completely through the changing of instrumentation styles and intricate soloing. At times, however, instead of keeping you aloft in a cloud of spacey sound, you are left feeling like you’ve listened to nothing more than an exercise in musical experimentation gone awry. A few tracks meander here and there aimlessly, which leaves these songs feeling empty and lacking meaning, but when a song comes together, watch out, because it’ll leave you in awe of its aural beauty.

There are two real standout tracks that deserve extra attention. The first is “Life Begins Again,” featuring Rob Dickinson of Catherine Wheel fame. It’s a real treat to hear Rob laying down some vocals again. It’s easily the strongest song on the disc, and it also showcases some great jazz influenced drumming from Jimmy. The other money track on this disc is “Lullaby to Children.” It probably would have more aptly been titled “Lullaby for Adults” since it is one of the more calming and beautiful songs to be found on this release and is definitely not geared towards a childish or immature musical taste.

In deciding if this cd is a good purchase or not, ask yourself two questions. First, am I looking for something similar to what Jimmy has done in the past? Second, how open are my musical tastes? If you answered “yes” to the first, then move along and go back to listening to Zwan or The Smashing Pumpkins. If you answered “pretty open” to the second question, snatch this cd off the shelves because you’re sure to enjoy it.

Ebay's Unquenchable Thirst

I've used Ebay plenty in the past and I still use it to sell my old stuff that I don't want any more. Usually that old junk consists of cds, dvds, books, video games, and comic books. None of them are very big ticket items. Most of the time the final bid on my items, assuming they sell, is around a dollar or two. With the increases to all of their ebay store fees, I got to thinking about how much money I actually make, and how much many sellers actually make via selling through ebay.

So let's say I list an item at $0.99. Ebay charges $0.30 for listing my item ($0.99 is the highest price you can start an auction at for the $0.30 fee).

Now let's say that my item ends and sells at $0.99. Ebay charges a 5.25% final value fee, which comes to be $0.05 (even though I'm thinking it's probabyl $0.06 since my guess is they round up).

So, right off the top Ebay gets $0.35, which is 35% of your sale. Now let's say you accept payment through paypal, an Ebay subsidiary. Paypal charges 2.9% of the amount accepted plus a $.30 transaction fee. So if you charged $3 for shipping on top of the $0.99 your item sold for, you end up paying Paypal $0.43.

So, if you combine the Paypal and Ebay fees, you are footing a $0.78 bill for your $0.99 item. Assuming you didn't overcharge for shipping, you're only making $0.21 on your item. Ebay gets 78% of your profit while you're left with 22%.

That amazes me and irritates me all at the same time. I don't accept Paypal because of the associated fees. This at times, scares buyers away because they want a quick, easy sale. Sometimes my items don't sell so I'm stuck absorbing the $0.30 listing fee of other items in the items that sold. Honestly, Ebay is a terrible rip-off, and I'm sure they know it, and I'm sure most seller know it, but what is anyone to do about it?

Really, what can anyone do? There is really no viable alternative to Ebay. Yahoo auctions are a decent deal, but not enough people use it so many of the items that I list to sell won't. For some things I could put them in an Amazon store or on, but with both of those cases I'm stuck holding on to my items indefinitely while I wait for someone to stuble upon my copy of an item and buy it. There are no other auction sites that are even moderately popular online outside of Ebay and Yahoo.

It's because of this lack of competition that Ebay can jack sellers and get away with it. Sellers have no other choice than to pay the fees in order to sell all their crap because they can't very well move to another online auction house because there isn't one where they could sell enough stuff to make it by.

In conclusion, Ebay sucks donkey nuts and I wish I didn't have to use them at all, but I do, and it sucks.

Everyone's Doing It

So, it seems like every blog does this at one time or another, and since I saw the Pickytarian doing it, I figured I would. The following searches have managed to bring people to my site:

inflamation of the nerves
No doubt this relates to my nerve inflammation. I hope they didn't come here looking for anything useful about it.

yesterday beastles chords
Why would someone string those words together? Who knows.

"how old do you act?"
Probably looking for some online quiz or some crap like that.

poker addiction
Some people just can't get enough.

testicles gone
I've gotten a fair amount of hits for that search. How many people really want to know what it's like with your testicles gone?

penis pictures
I'm glad at least one porn style search brings people to my site. I'd feel incomplete without it.

What's really, really odd about this is I'm the 8th ranked result for this search on MSN. I wonder what that says about my content...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

One Skin, Two Skin, Three Skin, Four

Watch the tv clip on this site. Thanks, Greg, for finding this. If that doesn't make you laugh something fierce, you're either under 10 years old or have no sense of humor whatsoever.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Bounty Hunter's Resume

I got a big kick out of this article that I found while browsing the games section of slashdot yesterday. Nintendo, when they were trying out some viral marketing, posted a job opening on for an intergalactic bounty hunter. They ended up getting all kinds of interesting results, many of them jokes as would be expected, but they also made mention of some truly disturbing and downright creepy resumes. They don't list what was actually in them, but I can only imagine what some of the people who answered quasi-seriously might be like. Maybe an ex-KGB agent who recently migrated into the US, or a disgruntled semi truck driver, or how about a convicted killer who was just released on good behavior. Yeah, I bet you could really get some creeps.

When I think about it, I might be qualified to be a decent intergalactic bounty hunter. I grew up on a farm with hogs. This might not mean much to a non-hog farmer, but anyone who has raised them knows you sometimes have to beat the living hell out of them to get them to move or do what you want them to do. Sometimes you are even forced to employ the use of shovel handles, ball pein hammers, and electronic shocking devices. Hogs have a notoriously thick skin and can take a lot of punishment. Combine that with their habit of being terribly stubborn and you have a formidable foe.

I have some years of target practice under my belt. Sure, it's been maybe a decade, but I'm sure I could brush up on my gun weilding skills rather quick. You see, I'd often get bored when I was at my grandma and grandpa's place so I'd have to find stuff to do all on my own. Well, since I had access to a BB gun there, I would often gravitate towards shooting things to pass the time. Firing BB's at targets and other normal things didn't really leave a satisfactory feeling when you hit the target. I'd get a bullseye, which is cool, but nothing cool would happen... so I got creative.

My grandparents kept pop cans in a bag in their garage, completely unsmashed. I would grab as many as I could carry, take them over to the water spout in the yard, fill each one up with water, and place them in a line across one of my grandma's picnic benches. From about 25-50 yard away, I would line up my shots at the various cans and watch as my BB rocketed through the can. If the can was not knocked over, I would be treated to water spilling out through the hole created in the can. Since a hit to either side of the can or too high on the top would cause the can to get knocked over, I had to work on my aiming so that I'd hit each can precisely on the lower half of the can in the middle. After weeks, probably months and maybe even more than a year, of doing this, I became pretty darn accurate. That was amazing for two reasons--the BB gun was a piece of crap and I really didn't like guns to begin with.

As for my stealth skills, I've got plenty of experience. Since my mother works at the local post office, she has to wake up extremely early, which also means she goes to bed really early. Since she's a light sleeper, whenever anyone was still up after she went to bed, silence in movement was a much needed skill. Many times when get home late at night, I don't even bother turning on the lights in any part of the house. I use tactile feedback and my knowledge of the surroundings in my house to find my way to my room in the basement. Obstacles such as cats, dogs, laundry baskets, and claymore mines would often impede my progress, but I always managed to get to my room with little to no noise or environment disruption.

You know, as I think about it more and more, I really should be an intergalactic bounty hunter. I bet pays better than my tech writing job. Even if it doesn't, I'd at least get to play with lasers and spaceships and other cool sci-fi gadgetry.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


As some of you may or may not have noticed, but my output of normal content has been on a slow downward trend as of late. In it's place has been either nothing or music reviews. I feel I should explain why this is. First, work has been a little more intense as of late, so I've been extra busy going through many of my technical writing chores. Second, I have been spending more of my writing time writing actual, physical letters to Kristin while she is in Central America. It's a nice change of pace to be using a pen and paper to write instead of my keyboard and monitor. Lastly, I've taken on a larger role over at Decoy Music.

Instead of simply writing and posting reviews, which were my only real responsibilities before, I am now responsible for writing and posting reviews, as well as finding and posting news, doing interviews (if I ever get my ass out to meet some bands at shows), and simply taking charge of running various sections of the site, such as bands of the week and battle of the bands. So, if you are really aching for new output from me on my slow days here, just pop on over to Decoy and see what I'm up to. While you're there, sign up for the community forums and come shoot the shit with us.