Friday, April 29, 2005

That's Pretty Neat!

As I was checking my referral logs, I noticed hits coming from so I headed over there to see if someone linked to me there for some reason and as soon as the page loaded I saw this:

I was the #1 entry in the Other News category! The link was to my rundown of Minnesota's MircroCon that I went to last weekend. I've never been linked to from a news site of any kind so this is pretty sweet for me.

PS: No, there's nothing wrong with your monitor. My computer has a Hulk theme running so that's why my browser is all green. Dorky, I know, but it sure beats the lame-ass cloud background that comes standard with any new computer. Also, the red circle was added by me so you'd know what to look at.

A Few Recently Watched Movies

Pretty much all this week the weather has been utterly not accommodating, so I've spent a good amount of time indoors watching the ol' boob tube. If it wasn't episodes of Babylon 5, it was movies. Interestingly enough, while Kristin has been gone I haven't actually watched that many movies. It was something I always enjoyed doing with her or with a group and since neither have really been available I've never had the urge to watch movies that much. With the spectacularly awesome weather of this week, after a couple of weeks of warmness, I resorted to making friends with the dvd player and catching up the stack of dvd's I'd let accumulate over time.

Last night I popped in Basic while the overcast skies kept me from being outside and going for a run. Samuel L. Jackson has always held a soft spot in my heart. For some odd reason, no matter how utterly atrocious a movie is (Deep Blue Sea for example) I seem to enjoy it a little more if Mr. Jackson is in the movie. Hell, he was pretty much the only good thing about Star Wars Episode II. In Basic he again reprises his role of saving a not all that great movie from becoming MST3K fodder.

There are so many plot twists thrown into the last half hour of Basic that you'll end up giving up on trying to keep up with them and just take up a running count while waiting for the final reveal. I'm a big fan of the plot twist, but not of playing plot twister. Once you reach the end of the movie and what has really been going on is finally revealed I simultaneously rolled my eyes and called bullshit. There is no way that the actual status quo that is established at the close of this movie could have worked throughout the telling of the story. There's just too many pieces that don't quite fit in like they should and if it did go down like the ending wants you to believe then it kind of makes the whole movie seem like it was just pulling the wool over the viewer's eyes. As it is, I didn't hate the movie. It kept my interest and the 99 minutes I spent watching it seem well spent, but to truly enjoy the movie just pretend the last two plot twists don't actually happen. It makes the movie more believable.

A couple of days ago I watched Garden State for a second time. When I initially saw the previews for this movie back before it made its theater run, it didn't look like anything more than another chick flick. I completely ignored its existence until a friend told me it was actually pretty good (and our tastes in movies are usually in alignment) so one night when I was bored I watched it... and fell in love with it. Zach Braff has created a movie that exquisitely details the process of awakening from the zombie-ish state that so many people in this world live in.

Zach's character has been going through life not really living, but simply existing and going through the motions. On a return visit to his home town, Natalie Portman's character awakens something inside of him that has long been dormant. As Zach starts to re-learn what it is to be alive and actually embraces his life, you see his character grow in so many different ways.

A good portion of the movie is swimming in a sea of melancholic emotions, but in the middle of the darkness is uniquely funny moments and a sense of hope and rebirth. I would wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone looking for something emotionally introspective while at the same time being able to make you laugh. Really, it's a great flick that needs to be seen.

Lastly, at the beginning of the week I took in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I completely expected to hate it, or at least hate the acting since I have no love for either Jim Carrey or Kate Winslet, but both of their characters won me over. The concept of having portions of your memory erased because you no longer want to remember certain things is quite intriguing and Kaufman easily crafts a movie that is bittersweet and thought-provoking.

So what would happen to someone who agrees to have their mind wiped of a memory but in the process realizes he/she no longer wants it done? There's no way to stop it and once the process is complete you wouldn't even remember what it was that you wanted to remember. Such is the case of Jim Carrey's character. You know he is tragically doomed to forget the love of his life, but the entire time his mind is being erased, he tries and tries to remember but you know he is doomed to fail. It's this hopeless drive for love that makes this movie so endearing.

All in all, 2 out of 3 isn't too bad when I think about it, especially considering there really aren't that many great movies that come along. Everything is either gross-out comedy, sappy chick flick, bloody horror, superhero adaptations, or cliched action. There are very few unique movies to come out of hollywood any more, so enjoy them when you find them. I'm really hoping Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is at least watchable, but I'm keeping my hopes low...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Completely Odd Weather

In my 24 years of life, I have never quite lived through a day as weird as yesterday, at least in relation to the weather. In the morning when I went to take my mom in to the doctor it was raining out--not too heavy, but enough to get you good and wet if you were to stand outside for long enough. I drove her in to Austin through the rain and waited for her while it rained and then left to party cloudy skies. The rain had stopped.

When we got home my mom drifted off to her bedroom to sleep since the medication they had given her to counteract her claustrophobia while in the MRI machine also had the side effect of making her extremely tired. I went down into my room to work on a document I was putting together for work. After about an hour or an hour and a half I came upstairs to get something to drink. As I looked out the window the partly cloudy skies had filled back in, quite fully, with billowing clouds that were in the process of dumping buckets of snow on our lawn. I didn't know it, but the temperature had dropped to right below freezing and the precipitation, in making its return, was coming down as snow. It only lasted for about a half hour to 45 minutes, but it was odd nonetheless.

I continued to work from my room in the basement until later in the afternoon when I heard a series of ping on the window to my room. Wondering what it was, I climbed onto my chair to see that outside it was hailing. Not completely believing my eyes and ears I went upstairs to get a better look. Sure enough, there was a small glaze of pebble sized pieces of ice covering our yard. Oddly enough there was no rain accompanying the hail--it was just the hail stones coming down. It didn't last long and none of the pieces were bigger than a pea, but it was still quite interesting.

To say that yesterday's weather patterns were a little bit odd would be putting it mildly. Where else besides Minnesota could you experience rain, snow, and hail all in the same day? I always knew there was a reason I loved this state!

Bloodlined Calligraphy - They Want You Silent CD Review

It is quite rare to see a metal or hardcore band fronted by a woman, especially when you take into account the type of vocal performances that are usually necessitated by being a part of either of the two genres. A feminine voice isn’t exactly all that well suited to growling and barking. If anything, almost 100% of the time that you hear female vocals in a metal or hardcore song, it’s in melodic form, pre-recorded, usually as a part of an intro, outro, or interlude, and used to serve as the polar opposite of the extreme nature of the band’s music. Over the last few years There have been a few semi-successful female fronted bands to shine through—Otep, Kittie, and Walls of Jericho to name the most well known of the lot. With They Want You Silent, Bloodlined Calligraphy have thrown their hat into the female fronted metalcore arena, but don’t expect a lot of success to follow.

While listening to the 10 tracks contained on this release, you’ll be hard pressed to recognize the vocals as coming from the throat of one of the fairer sex. The ferocity of the screaming, yelling, and growling (yes, there are times when Ally French’s vocals sound uncannily like a masculine growl, such as on “I May Have Been Born Yesterday”) is not something you’d usually recognize as coming from a woman. There are a few scant moments when Ally uses her singing voice or talks instead of belting out the lyrics, but the majority of the time she sticks to the same, extremely loud, approach. The few melodic moments were actually very welcome and in the future it would do these guys good to utilize it a little more. On occasion the rest of the band will join in for some gang screams, so Ally doesn’t go at it completely alone, but these moments are few and far between.

The underlying music beneath Ally’s throaty performance is, unfortunately, your standard metalcore approach. The great majority of each song is loaded with chugga chugga riffs that either lead up to a breakdown or a thrash inspired guitar solo. If there were a stronger focus on the thrashy, more intricately natured aspects of their songs and less time spent on setting up breakdowns, I think Bloodlined Calligraphy would quickly turn into one of the must-hear bands in the HXC scene. As it is, though, there’s simply a lot of unfocused metalcore riffing going on throughout this disc which you will eerily feel you’ve heard somewhere else… which you probably have, and also done much, much better.

There are a few standout moments that deserve note, however. “A Variety of Damage” is actually a nice, quick paced, fun track. It moves along briskly with guitar licks leading the way, all the while your foot tapping along in pace. If any song on this disc could make someone spontaneously hardcore dance, this one’s it.

The track “Saturday Night in Dixie” is easily the best song on this disc for no other reason than it’s slightly different than the rest of the disc. It starts out with some basic thrashing followed by a chunk of metalcore chugging, but once the song hits its stride during the bridge, which makes good use of Unearth-esque guitar high-tones, it’ll hit you hard right before segueing into an interesting southern, Pantera flavored ending. If every song on this disc were to branch out in different directions such as on this track, you’d have a killer metalcore disc on your hands, but they don’t. The rest of the release sees them sticking firmly within the bounds of the basic metalcore template that so many other bands have used.

If you really need to get your Christian hardcore on and want to do it to a female fronted HXC band, you could easily do worse than Bloodlined Calligraphy, but like 95% of the metalcore audience out there you’ll probably be looking for something new and interesting in this flooded genre, which is something these guys (and gal) can’t give you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Freaks Me Out

This morning I had to run my mom into the hospital in Austin for an MRI. She tore her meniscus and the x-rays they took didn't tell a whole lot about what they were going to have to do to fix it so an MRI was the next logical step. Personally, I think it's just another way for the hospital to milk money out of my mom and her insurance.

When I had to have an MRI and an ultrasound this last summer in order to make sure I didn't have a tear in my carotid artery, as I looked over the statements they sent me I noticed that all of my test results were examined twice. Why, oh why, would my results have to be examined twice. They were negative and my arteries were completely fine (they diagnosed me later on with exertion migraines). I could maybe understand having the test results examined twice if the first time through one doctor thought that he/she might have found something and needed a second opinion, but if the results look just fine, what's the point of a second opinion? More frickin' money, that's what. They could double what they were bringing in and give me some technobable reason as to why they needed to do it. I was more than a little pissed when that happened because it meant that I had to pay more out of my pocket as well as my insurance company paying more.

Now while my mom was in having her MRI, I sat and listened to an audiobook that I had on my MP3 player which I brought along. I needed something to keep my mind off of everyone else there. You see, hospitals freak me out, which is why I try not to ever go unless something is terribly, terribly wrong with me. It's so eerie walking into the waiting room and being surrounded by all of these old people you know are just going to kick the bucket in a couple of weeks. Sure, I know, have respect for your elders and crap, but some of the people are just downright scary.

Like today, for example. While I was waiting this old man came in, no one accompanying him, and sat down a little ways away from me. As he sat there, I thought he had died because after a bit he completely stopped moving and his eyes were focused on some point way off in the distance. He didn't move at all for probably 10 minutes. When he did, I was pretty relieved, but then he went back into his statue impersonation again!

A few seats behind the fake dead guy was a hideously gigantic woman. In the waiting room they have chairs with arm rests on both sides and they have benches that can accomodate to people. This lady filled out one of the benches like a normal person filled out one of the chairs. If you remember how Violet puffed up to gigantic proportions in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you might just get an idea of her size. I can't imagine how people get to be so large. I can understand how some people get fat, but this is beyond fat. People shouldn't get this large unless they're eating junior varsity football teams for breakfast.

Rounding out the cast of creepy characters was an elderly man who I honestly thought might explode. As he sat, he was constantly fidgeting, and when he was up moving his entire body looked as if it would shake itself apart. I felt sorry for the old guy because it must feel like he's living his life in a blender or other such kitchen appliance that causes things to vibrate vigorously.

As much as I enjoy people watching, I don't enjoy the morbidity that it takes on when you do it in a hospital. More often than not I feel like I'm caught in a zombie movie. Hospitals are scary places.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

MicroCon Minnesota 2005

I've been to the past couple of FallCon's in St. Paul, but I've never gone to the MicroCon Comic Book Convention that is held in the spring, until today that is. They used to host it at some hotel's conference room so I always assumed there wasn't much there. This year, however, the location got changed to the Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds, and since I wasn't really doing anything I thought I'd go for the heck of it. It wasn't quite as big as the FallCon, but there was enough stuff there for me to spend money on. That and I got to meet and say hi to Brent Schoonover, one of the Viper family.

As I said, I did manage to spend a little chunk of change, but not as much as I thought I did (only a little over $50). What I was most stoked to get was the full Midnight Nation run for only $15. I've been loving every issue of J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank's Supreme Power so for a while now I've wanted to pick up their previous work which I luckily found on the cheap.

Also on the cheap I found a whole boat load of Superman Elseworlds prestige trades. I actually managed to pick up 7 of them, as well as the 3 issue Superman vs. Predator prestige format series. So far every X vs. Predator or X vs. Alien mini I've read has been crap, but at least the Superman vs. Predator mini has art by Alex Maleev so it'll be pretty to look at. What's interesting is the sheer number of Elseworlds Superman stories I found in the bargain bins. There weren't really any Elseworlds stories of other characters to be found anywhere (although I did find two Green Lantern ones).

What really got me, though, was that I found zero Batman Elseworlds comics. At past cons, there were usually tons of Batman Elseworlds comics to be had. My guess is that maybe they were kept out of the bargain bins this time because of the upcoming movie. I could see retailors holding on to all of their Batman stock in the hopes of selling a bunch of it the closer the movie gets to being released.

As for graphic novels, I picked up a fair share pretty much on a whim from a $1 per trade box. You can't really beat buying books for a dollar a piece, especially when the cover on most of them is between 10 and 20 bucks. In case anyone cares these are the ones I picked up: Terminator: Endgame, Aliens: Apocalypse, Aliens: Hive, Nevada (a Vertigo trade by Steve Gerber), The Truth, Spawn: Blood & Shadows, and Clive Barker's Tapping the Vein.

In keeping with picking up Straczynski material I also picked up the Rising Stars: Bright 3 issue miniseries. I figure I might as well start picking up the Rising Stars offshoot miniseries since I preordered the huge-ass hardcover that collects the entire series. From what I've heard, it's supposed to be great series and as far as I'm concerned Straczynski is a wonderfully gifted writer. I don't care if people hate his Spider-Man run, I still really dig everything he does. Personally I haven't read his Spider-Man stuff, but that's mostly because I'm not the biggest Spidey fan in the world and reading Ultimate Spider-Man is plenty for me.

Speaking of Spidey, I grabbed the 4 issue Spider-Man: India miniseries from some 3 for a buck boxes. I thought it was a novel idea, at least for Marvel, and the art looked pretty so for a buck and 33 cents I'd give it a try. A side note about this series: it must have sold abysmally since most of the retailors there had plenty of copies of it in their bargain bins.

Rounding out my comic buys were some random issues of stuff to fill in runs and a bunch of IDW titles. I don't know how that company stays afloat with their high cover prices. $3.99 an issue just seems like such a rip off so I've never bought an IDW title off the rack. When I see them in the dollar boxes I'll pick them up, but I sure as hell won't pay cover price. In my digging I found an entire run of 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow and Meeednight Pulp Presents Secret Skull. Steve Niles' writing has been hit or miss with me, but I love Templesmith's art so even if the story sucks at least it's fun to look at.

As for the toy haul for the day, I didn't actually get much. At past cons I've brought home tons of Todd McFarlane figures, but not this time. I only found one that wasn't horribly overpriced or that I didn't already have--Rasputin from the Movie Madness series. A great figure, and wonderfully priced at $3! Instead of McFarlane figures, I found some sweet bobbleheads and at $3 a piece, you couldn't go wrong. I grabbed a Joker one for me and a Superman and a Catwoman for Kristin. The Joker will go in my cube at work with all of my other toys.

In the end, I think it was worth driving 100 miles for, even if I was only there for a couple of hours. Outside of the dealers' stock and meeting with Brent, there wasn't a lot to do there and I'm sure if I would have stayed and dug through boxes even more that I'd have no doubt spent the rest of my money in one fashion or another.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Live Music Archive

It seems that more and more as I continue writing this blog that it has become more and more music oriented. When it started out, it was mainly a place I wrote about college and things that pissed me off. If anything it was nothing more than a glorified journal. As time progressed it morphed a little to encompass some current events commentary as well as the ocassional bit about comic books here and there. Now, in recent months, and specifically the last week or two, I seemed to have focused at least half of my efforts on music related posts, and this is yet another.

I've always been a fan of live music. There is no other way to see how talented a band really is than to see them perform live. A good producer, tons of studio time, and lots of computer enhanced error correcting can make anyone sound good on cd (ie: anyone on pop radio at the moment), but when you're playing live you have to be able to play your instruments and be able to sing. If you're like me and don't always get the chance to go to a lot of concerts, you might enjoy the Live Music Archive.

Within this archive you will find hundreds upon hundreds of concerts by a myriad of different bands. Just for example of what you can find, yesterday I downloaded 3 Local H concerts from 2005, a Story of the Year show from back in 2003, and recent Clann Zu performance. You'd be amazed at how many different bands support the recording of live music and have it stored on this site. I heartily suggest giving it a look.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What Is In Easy Mac?

For the third time in about 2 weeks, I've forgotten to bring in my lunch to work. It's usually just leftovers since we only have a microwave here at work, but whenever I end up leaving my leftovers at home, my dad gets to them for his lunch. It's not that big of a deal, but I get so frustrated with myself for forgetting the food I made at home. Usually I'll make supper the night before and it'll be too much for me to eat in one sitting so I eat half of it for supper and then put the other half in the fridge to warm up at work the next day.

Last night I made rotinni noodles with some spicy marinara meat sauce. Since I'd made about two helpings worth, I packed up half of the meal into a tupperware container and stuck it in the fridge, reminding myself mentally that I can't forget it in the morning. As I went about my evening activities, I didn't forget that I had my lunch in the fridge.

As I awoke this morning I did my normal morning routine and headed off to work. As 11:00 rolls around, which is my lunch time, I suddenly realize that I left my lunch at home. The thought, from out of nowhere, creeps up and smacks me across the face and then laughs at my forgetfulness. As I'm stuck eating easy mac for lunch I can feel my subconscious laughing at me and I can sense my rotinni noodles slowly being eaten by my dad.

Easy mac isn't all that bad of a meal, but it sure can't beat homemade food. One thing that always bugs me about easy mac is the color of the cheese powder. It's like a neon orange color, which is totally unnatural. I can't imagine everything that went into manufacturing a powder that turns into a cheese substitute upon mixing it with water. I can hardly imagine that there's actually anything natural in the powder at all. All of these thoughts are carelessly tossed to the wind as soon as you take your first bite of easy mac, though. It's just so good. For all I know, Kraft could be putting in some type of adictive additive to make me keep wanting more easy mac because I usually have a hard time stopping after just one packet. I always want more, despite the sketchy nature of the ingredients.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Frisbee Golf Course Guide

If you've ever played frisbee golf, thought about playing it, or even wondered anything about it, check out this site. Jared showed it to me today and it is seriously one of the best disc golf resources I have ever seen. Heck, it's one of the better sports resource sites that I've seen. It's amazing all of the work that has gone into detailing all of the courses that are on display.

When browsing through the courses they have online, I found the course that I played on Sunday with Jared. It was really amazing to go through the navigation of the course online and see what the course looks like when the trees have bloomed and everything is green instead of the dead brown it was when we played it.

Looking through some of the other courses listed, there are a few that I'd like to go visit next time I'm in the Twin Cities. When looking through their list of courses I did notice that none of the St. Cloud, Austin, or Rochester courses were cataloged yet. Since they have an open submission policy, I might just have to get ambitious, grab my mom's camera that has the sniper lens, and head out for a couple of games of disc golf.

Pretty Mess - Greyscale Broadcast CD Review

It would be so, so easy to start off this review by making some type of pun using the name of the band to describe the cd’s overall quality. It would be so simple to use “pretty” if the cd was good or “mess” if it was bad or even use a combination of the two if the cd was neither. Since I hate puns, that is a route I would rather not travel, but I will say that this release manages to fall into the third category—not too bad, but not very good either.

When making your way through this release, you’ll be very hard pressed to keep any interest in it whatsoever. After listening to the first few songs, you’ll have this band’s style nailed down and in realizing that they’re nothing more than a derivative of so many past light rock bands, the rest of the cd won’t do anything interesting enough to make you want to listen past those first few songs. By mixing your basic radio friendly light rock stylings with a fair dose of British rock influenced vocals, all the while imagining the band playing at a spoiled private college campus, you’ll have easily described Pretty Mess.

Greyscale Broadcast has a very dated feel to it, almost as if it was forgotten sealed away in a dank, musty cellar somewhere only to be let loose many years later, far after it was supposed to have been. I’m sure that if this disc would have been released in the late 90’s or early 00’s that it would have been huge, but for the most part, the audience of this type of watered-down, melodic rock has waned considerably. College campuses used to feed the melodic radio rock machine since it was seen as the answer to all of the crappy pop and rap that was on mainstream radio. That was in the late 90’s. Today’s college campuses have moved on to the greener pastures of artsy indie rock and bludgeoning metalcore as their answers to mainstream music. Much like an orphaned child, melodic rock in the vein of Semisonic, Blur, and Supergrass has been left abandoned by those who used to be the ones to embrace it.

All of this is not to say that Greyscale Broadcast is a bad cd or that melodic rock is dead. Neither is completely true. Greyscale Broadcast is a competent cd, but a boring one that is firmly planted in a genre that has been done to death and is far from enjoying the heyday it was years ago. If you are still clinging to your Train and Sister Hazel cds like a child to a pacifier, then by all means buy this cd. If you are like the majority of the people who used to take in this style of music, you’ve no doubt moved on, as well you should have since there has been very little of note in this genre over the last few years. Pretty Mess, unfortunately, aren’t going to be making the mark that they need to be successful.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Smoke Free Clubs? Awesome!

As much as I complain about The Quest Club in Minneapolis, our lovely government has helped make it a venue that is a little more bearable. Instead of fighting my way through a dense haze of cigarette and marijuana smoke, I can now actually see farther than 5 feet in front of me clearly. I don't know if it was the city of Minneapolis or the county that the Quest is in or if it was a club decision, but the venue is now completely smoke free. I can actually stay for an entire concert without my eyes wanting to burst out of my head and my lungs wanting to cough up all the poison I sucked down while breathing.

I found this out last night when I went with Jared to go see Underoath and Hopesfall. We didn't get in free to this show, which kind of sucked, but you can't get a media pass to every concert even though I try. As usual, we ended up having to wait outside the club for about 45 minutes in a gigantic line that went around the block. Since the Quest is still insistent on only having one small entrance into the club, it takes forever to get people in. Thankfully, though, the majority of the crowd was under 18 so the balcony was pretty well open when we got in. As much fun as it is to release a little pent up rage in the pits now and again, I also enjoy just watching a show from the upstairs.

The opener was a band whose cd I really, really hated--Fear Before the March of Flames. Seeing their live show didn't make me a fan. Seriously, their entire set was a half an hour of noise according to my ears. My eyes also cringed throughout most of their "songs" as they had strobes continually going off behind them making me want to simultaneously puke and have a seizure. Their music really isn't music as much as it is each of the band members thrashing the hell out of their instruments, sort of in the same manner attempting to make music, but for the love of all things holy I couldn't appreciate their spastic attempt at post-modern, angst-ridden, quasi-artistic music in any way. It was noise, plain and simple.

After their atrocious set was out of the way, The Chariot took the stage. These guys are another band whose cd I really didn't enjoy very much, but I hoped their live show would be better, and it was. Their music wasn't all that great. It was standard tough-guy metalcore, but the stage performance of the band was amazing. They were moving all over the stage like a bunch of wild men hopped up on a double dosage of grade A speed. To add to the chaos, they had guys running from the back of the stage and cannonballing onto the top of the crowd. Everyone on the floor was going just as nuts for these guys as the band's onstage performance. To help cool down the crowd towards the end of their set they went back stage to grab a few supersoakers to spray the crowd with. Even though their music wasn't the greatest, their performance was unbelievably chaotic and the crowd ate it up.

After The Chariot, I knew that Hopesfall would have a hard time matching their energy level, and they didn't even get close to being as crazy, but they managed to put on the tightest performance of the night. The first two bands played a style of music that could be pulled off sloppily live and still be ok because it was all about the energy. Hopesfall's style of music is drastically different in that it has slower tempos and mostly melodic vocals. I thought the crowd would hate them, but even though they weren't moshing like crazy, everyone seemed to have their heads nodding along to the grooves of their songs. In my mind, Hopesfall were the best performers of the night. They didn't resort to crazy stage antics or trying to rile up the crowd, but instead just played their music well and let the crowd get into it if they wanted to.

Last on the bill and headlining the tour was Underoath. When they first started playing it was obvious that there were some mixing problems. The guitars were mixed in too low, the vocals were hardly audible, and the symbols were overpoweringly loud. After the first couple of songs, the mix got a little bit better, but it was still problematic throughout their set. I had a hard time getting into Underoath's set. First, their keyboardist doesn't do anything and his thrashing around in his little corner of the stage seemed kind of, I don't know, sad I guess. It's like he's part of the band, but he's not--like when you were forced to take your little brother somewhere with you when you were younger because your parents told you to, but you sure as hell didn't want him tagging along. He was happy to be with you, but you were simply annoyed.

While they played through most of their big hits from their latest cd, everything just seemed a little sloppy. You could make out what song it was they were playing but because of the combination of crappy mixing and somewhat sloppy playing everything seemed kind of murky. Besides playing a good mix of songs from their first and second cds, they also played one new song, and this new song was easily their worst song of the night. I hope they don't continue down the road that that song was taking. If you've listened to Underoath you know that most of their music has a quick tempo to it. Well, their new song was very slow as they appeared to be going for a "wall of noise" metal approach and it just didn't work. In the end, though, they were a decent band to watch as they were genuinely energetic and seemed to be having a fun time.

The show was over by 9:00 pm, which was really weird considering that most of the shows I've gone to as of late have run until 11 or later at the least so I had plenty of time to get home, but instead when I got back to Jared's place I laid down on his couch for a minute and before I knew it, I was asleep. Who knows why. Maybe Underoath were too boring! Unlikely, but they could have been better.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Not Going to Hell! Yay!

I saw this on Johnny's site and had to take it. I remember reading the Inferno and being very interested in the different levels of hell so it was interesting to see an online quiz to see how I stacked up against the various levels.

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Mindless Self Indulgence - You'll Rebel to Anything CD Review

Mindless Self Indulgence are one of those bands that will leave you either amazed at their unique breed of music or completely confused as to why so many people are caught up by what they do. Knowing that, You’ll Rebel to Anything is actually the best MSI release for a listener new to their style of chaotic music to try out. As opposed to previous efforts, this release is actually quite song oriented and even has a more polished feel than anything they’ve done in the past. There’s still a good amount of crazy, dark, schizophrenic, industrialized, new wave antics to keep MSI fans happy, however, so people already familiar with what MSI do don’t have to worry about a watering down of their style.

After the six years it’s been since their previous release, You’ll Rebel to Anything has some very high expectations attached to it. For the most part these expectations are met. There isn’t anything outright disappointing about the album other than that there really isn’t much to it. With only 10 tracks playing out over the span of a little more than 26 minutes, this supposed full length feels much more like an appetizer that was thrown out to whet over our appetite until something more substantial can be created.

Oddly enough, the schizophrenic nature associated with MSI is both at its creative peak and it’s most restrained on this album. Instead of every track being a random piece of craziness, each track can definitely be pinned down as a song. In fact, by taking on a very song oriented approach, MSI are able to keep themselves from wandering down paths that would lead away from the focus of the album. In the past this was easily one of their biggest problems, but it has now been solved… for the most part. From the length of the cd, the number of tracks, and the application of some rudimentary math, you can probably figure out that each song averages out to be about two and a half minutes long, which isn’t always a lot of time for MSI to express all of their inherent musical insanity.

With their newfound restraint, each song on this cd is very accessible while still maintaining the very distinct MSI sound that has been mimicked but never successfully copied. A few tracks that deserve particular mention are “Tom Sawyer”, “Straight to Video”, and “Stupid MF”. Of all the artists for MSI to cover, I never would have thought Rush to be one of them, but on here they give “Tom Sawyer” a definitive MSI overhaul, creating what may be one of the most interesting covers to be made in quite some time. “Straight to Video”, being the longest song on the disc at nearly 4 minutes long, is also easily the best track on the disc. It feels very restrained, by MSI standards, throughout the first 2 minutes before it hits a killer patch of keyboard craziness to segue into the last minute and a half where everything slows down, again by MSI standards, to give you a unique take on the band’s new-found song oriented approach. “Stupid MF”, on the other hand, is just uptempo, crazy fun that every MSI fan will get off on.

Again, the biggest drawback to this disc is the lack of material on it. After waiting nearly six years, a lot of fans are going to feel cheated, but even at only 26 minutes this cd is 10 times better than a good majority of the crap that’s been put out during that six year wait, so enjoy it for what it is—a breath of fresh air and a unique musical creation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Animal Interaction

I've only started to notice this as of late, but as I've taken notice I realize that it's been happening since about the time Kristin left until now. When I'm at home I have managed to develop a much more personal and close relationship with my pets. I'm not talking about anything sick or bestial, so don't even let your mind wander in that direction. No, what I mean is that I've started to cultivate individual relationships with each animal instead of treating each animal the same, as just a pet.

Stitch, mine and Kristin's baby, has received a lot of attention and a lot of conversation during the last couple of months. I suppose it helps that it also appears as if he's developed a feline attachment to me as well. Whenever I am home alone, you can bet that Stitch is going to be following me around the house. At night before I go to bed, you can often find him wandering into my room and jumping up onto my bed clamoring for attention. He'll rub his head against my arms as I sit at my computer or jump on my lap if I'm sitting down. When we spend long portions of a day together you might even catch me talking to him. It's weird, I know, but it's nice to have someone to just listen and give an occasional meow of assent to what you are saying.

Sammy, the fat cat of the house has been spending a lot more time sleeping with me at night. Both Stitch and Sam will usually be in my room when I got to bed, but when I lie down to go to sleep Sam will nuzzle up right next to me whereas Stitch runs off to play. The relaxing (and very loud) purring of Sam helps me to get to sleep at night. Knowing that there's someone else there next to me, even if he's not human, is reassuring.

Mystique, the oldest cat of the house, is also the most talkative to me. She's pretty shy, but when the other cats aren't around, she'll gladly keep me company. One thing that I can always depend on Mystique for is tv watching companionship. As soon as I lie down onto the couch in the living room and flip on the tube, she'll jump up on the couch next to me and either lie on my stomach or curl up next to me.

Karma, our crazy house dog, who has actually been spending more time outdoors lately since it's been relatively nice out, is easily the most playful of all the animals. As soon as I pick up her blue clown toy, she knows it's play time. She is also the most intelligent of our pets and has a great knack for reading moods. On the days when I feel lonely, you can be assured that Karma will be my shadow which means a lot, even if it's just coming from a dog. For a while Karma would stay with me at night as well, but she's defected to staying with my mom upstairs. I know that will change with the first thunderstorm, however, because Karma gets totally freaked out at even the smallest of storms.

I don't know if I've grown closer to my animal companions because Kristin has been gone or I simply have grown more attached to them, but either way I feel a lot more comfortable at home by myself because of it. Usually I would hate being at home by myself since I detest that feeling you get when you're completely alone, but with the relationships I've formed with my pets, I know that even though no other humans are around, I've still got a few fun friends keeping me company.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cookie Monster Madness

Apparently the Cookie Monster, the big furry muppet from Sesame Street, has now realized that cookies are only a "sometimes" food as opposed to nutritional foods that are "anytime" foods. I'm sorry Mr. Monster, but you can't do this to me. I won't let you tarnish my memories of Sesame Street simply because we've got millions of fat kids out there. I used to be one of those fat kids, but I didn't become fat because I ate a shit-ton of cookies after I saw the Cookie Monster do it on my favorite childhood show. No, got fat because I was lazy and didn't eat healthy in general. What really got me the most was this quote:
The furry one also plans to try different kinds of cookies (read: healthier cookies) rather than his just staple, chocolate chip.

But will he still scarf his food? Yes, plus the occasional object, Truglio said.

But isn't that unhealthy? Her reply: He's still Cookie Monster.
Ok, so let me get this straight. Cookie Monster used to eat only cookies and eat them by the truckload. Now he only eats cookies "sometimes". On top of that, he is going to try out new cookies healthier. Ok, fine, I suppose I can go along with that. Teaching kids not to eat tons of cookies all of the time is a good thing, even though I don't think Sesame Street's Cookie Monster has been one of the causes of mass cookie consumption but that's neither here nor there. What blows my mind, however, is the fact that he's just fine to gorge himself on other food, even to the point of eating an occasional object.

Let's look at the logic of this. Sesame Street's creators think that by seeing Cookie Monster eat tons of cookies that they will do the same. In fact, I'm sure most kids don't have the ability to do that if their parents are doing even a halfway decent job of raising their kids. Any child who has unrestrained access to cookies and candy is a victim of terrible parenting. Even though most children should not be able to stuff themselves on cookies because they saw Cookie Monster do the same thing, the creators thought that it was a bad image to purvey. Fair enough.

The image that Cookie Monster will now exude is one that is probably more dangerous, though. Children eat meals, that's obvious and undisputable. By seeing Cookie Monster overeat on his "anytime" foods, kids will supposedly get the idea that they should also ingest as much as they can when presented with a meal instead of pacing themselves or limiting their portions. Now I don't care how healthy of food you feed your child, if he/she is eating every last thing that's put in front of them, they're going to get just as fat as if they were occasionally eating a large batch of cookies.

What's even more disturbing is that Cookie Monster will occasionlly ingest objects. Yeah, let's tell kids that it's ok to eat random crap. Don't want to clean up that fork after you're done eating? Just scarf it down with the last bit of green beans. Napkin touching your food? Why not use it to pick up what it's touching and just eat the whole damn concoction!

Cookie Monster, I am pleading with you, don't change! Stay the big, blue, cookie scarfing, gravelly voiced, monster I've always known and loved.

Monday, April 11, 2005


This last weekend the family traveled down to Ames, Iowa to visit my brother, Randy, at ISU. I hadn't been down there to visit him other than when we've had to move him down or move him back home. On Saturday night Randy and I caught the ISU stop of the Tourgasm comdey tour, which featured the comedians Gary Gulman, Robert Kelly, and Dane Cook.

I'd been looking forward to seeing this show ever since my brother told me about it a couple of weeks ago. I was a fan of the NBC show Last Comic Standing, for which Gary Gulman is most well known. He was one of the finalists on the second season and was also one of the best performers in the Season 1 vs. Season 2 season of the show and was also, in my opinion, one of the funniest performers on the show throughout its run.

The show started a solid 20 minutes late, no doubt in part to Gary getting really drunk before the show, but more on that later. The show started by having the tour orgainizer, Jay Davis, come out to introduce the opening act as well as doing a 15 minute stand-up routine of his own. I would have actually enjoyed a longer performance from Davis as he was genuinely funny as opposed to most organizers who come out and use tired and cliched bits to open up the show. He best moment was when he described how to get back at those guys who like to just hang out naked in the locker room of the local gym. The set up was great and the final punchline, involving an unoccupied bathroom stall, a leather belt, and some voice acting was fall out of your seat funny.

Gary Gulman was the first comedian up and he performed a 25 minute set. I had pretty high expectations for him coming in which were unfortunately not able to be completely lived up to. He was good, but not as good as I'd have hoped. The first annoyance about his set is that he resorted to using some of his material that was previously used on Last Comic Standing. Since I'd already heard it, it wasn't quite as funny. The second annoyance about his set is that he resorted to whispering a lot of the time which meant you'd sometimes have to strain to hear him. Lastly, the biggest annoyance was that he seemed off of his game throughout. He wasn't quite as sharp as other times I've seen him perform, but he owned up about 3/4 of the way into his set that he was quite hammered. This easily explained why he seemed off.

Robert Kelly was the comedian up and he performed for about 40 minutes and pretty much all of his set was unbelievably hilarious. I laughed the most and the hardest throughout his set and he was easily my favorite of the night. The good majority of his set dealt with fat people, how he dealt with being fat, and what it was like having a girlfriend and being fat. Seriously, Robert was one funny dude who rattled off hilarious crap at a breakneck pace. If I can find his cd online for cheap somewhere I'm definitely going to pick it up.

Dane Cook, the headliner of the show, was also quite the funny guy. His style was somewhat different than the other two in that most of his routine followed the pattern of setting the stage by telling a story or describing a situation and then ending the description with a really funny quip or way of handling the situation. With this style of comedy, the laughs weren't a continual stream like they were with Kelly, but when his stuff hit, it hit with a comedic brick and you wouldn't be able to hold back your laughter. Dane's performance ran a little over an hour and was quite energetic. It made me wonder how he did it night in and night out... although the tour is only for a month, so maybe he just gets loaded up on caffeine and other things to keep him going.

All in all, for my $15 (actually, my brother's $15 since I haven't paid him back yet), it was a great show and I'd suggest checking out the Tourgasm site and seeing if it's hitting your area soon. If not, there's going to be a dvd made using various pieces of the shows on the tour, so you could probably pick up one of those when it comes out. I'm pretty sure I will.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Adema - Planets CD Review

It seems that as of late nu-metal has been trying its hardest to claw its way back out of the grave it was laid to rest in more than a few years back. In its crusade to be noticed once again, it has subjected us to recent releases from Trust Company, American Head Charge, and a decidedly nu-metal inspired Soilwork, among many others. Then next week marks the unleashing of Mudvayne’s newest disc. On top of that there’s also Planets from Adema which dropped this week. There doesn’t appear to be any reasoning as to this sudden resurgence, but it is here nonetheless.

If you somehow decide to let yourself be taken in by this nu-metal virus that’s floating around, make sure you don’t end up afflicted with the Adema-strain, a vicious version of nu-metal that will rot your ears out. Even with the addition of a new singer and a slight refinement to their sound, Adema still comes across no better than a second-rate attempt to be a radio friendly nu-metal band. The only reason Adema had any amount of recognition when their first two cds were released was solely because Mark Chavez was Jonathan Davis’ younger brother. Without Mark in the band anymore, maybe Adema could have shed their Korn-lite vibe, but they couldn’t quite do away with it completely.

Planets is quite a bit mellower than previous releases, so much so that a couple of songs have a decidedly Nickelback and 3 Doors Down feel to them. “Tornado”, for example, is an overly blatant rip-off of 3 Doors Down crappy hard rock sound, which is sad simply because Adema are emulating 3 Doors Down… 3 DOORS DOWN! Who, in their right mind, would want to channel such a watered down rock band? The great majority of the rest of this disc (the songs not aping clichéd rock bands) takes on a very somber and downtrodden tone, leaving it to feel very boring, even during some of the better songs.

Yes, there are a couple of decent songs to be found on this disc. The title track isn’t too bad, but it’s not much more than your basic emotional rock tune. Other than the title track, “Barricades in Time” is pretty much the only tolerable track. It fits perfectly into the mellow verse, a little bit heavy bridge, really heavy chorus template, but it’s listenable, which is about the best compliment you can give any of the songs on this disc.

When you take the time to think about it, there really isn’t any reason for this cd to exist, and it’s pretty sad that projects such as this get green-lighted by labels, especially Earache, a label that usually releases decent stuff. Musically, Planets is inferior to most of what is out there and from a sales standpoint, this cd is not going to move a lot of copies, so why is it even on the shelves? Some questions will unfortunately never be answered, and this is probably one of them.

A New Way to Trade Things

I've got a whole crap-ton of old cd's, dvd's, and video games that I no longer need or want. I used to list them on ebay, but they don't really sell on there any more. Even when they did, ebay's fees were so high that it was somewhat pointless to sell stuff on there since I wasn't really getting any money for my stuff and the time I spent listing it just wasn't worth it.

I also used to use but then there was the whole fiasco over it closing down and ebay requiring all of Half's users to migrate over to ebay stores, so I tried that and figured it might work out ok. It didn't. To complicate matters, during the migration less than half of my items even transferred over to my ebay store. So I had half of my stuff still over at while the other half was in an ebay store. It should be pointed out that I had about 300 items listed between the two. Later, ebay announced they'd keep open. Great, so a good chunk of what I had previously listed on got moved over to ebay and now they only way to get it back onto was to enter it all back in (ebay offered no way for ebay store items to be migrated back into

It was about that time that I just gave up selling small ticket items online completely. I still have a few things listed on, but not much. I really hate having all of these old cds and dvds and stuff just sitting around, but I really don't have any way to get rid of them other than tossing them out or giving them away... until I stumbled across BarterBee. It's an online trading site. You list stuff to trade with people and get points when other users request your stuff and you can use those points to request items from people. It's a neat concept.

I should note, however, that there isn't a gigantic amount of things listed on BarterBee so far, but there's a good amount of things there. I signed up and am going to be listing a ton of my stuff to see if I can offload it and then get a few other things that I actually want in return. Check it out and sign up. The more people using it, the more items to trade, which is always good. It's also a very novel idea and a good alternative to ebay, yahoo, or amazon auctions. It's free for thirty days too. After that there's a small monthly fee, obviously used to cover the hosting fees and such since the site doesn't actually get any revenue from it's users and there isn't any hosted advertising on their site. It's a nice, well-designed site that I would love to see take off.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Why Didn't I Do It?

For some reason or another I found myself thinking back to the summer of a few years ago. It was the summer after my junior year of college and I was busy with my internship at Kingland Systems, my current employer, and doing improv comedy as part of Strike Team Improv. It was a good summer for me. I had a job that was paying well, especially considering it was an internship, which usually means no pay at all. I was surrounded by good friends and lived with one for a few days a week instead of making the 35 mile trip home at night. I even had a couple of girls who seemed to be interested in me, and being single at the time, that was just fine by me.

One night after an improv show I decided to forego having dinner with the troupe like I usually would and instead went out with a couple of friends to hang out since we hadn't had much time to spend together that summer. So it was me and two girls out for the night. One of them was a pretty good friend of mine and had been for a few years. The other was an acquaintance of mine, but good friends with the other girl I was with. Since there's not a lot to do out in the country, we decided to just hang out an watch a movie.

We went to the house of my acquaintance to watch since I didn't want to go home to my house and the other girl didn't feel like going to her house either (I couldn't blame her since her parents had been having some pretty intense marriage troubles). Since neither of the girls had seen Office Space and since they had asked me earlier what my job was like, I suggested we watch that. They had no problem with it, so we settled in to watch the movie, one girl sitting on each side of me.

As the movie progressed, the girl who I was acquaintances with slowly snuggled up closer and closer to me. I usually have an extremely hard time picking up on any innuendos or flirting from a girl, but I was reassured this time when I made a quick glance over at my friend. She gave me a wink and a nod and I knew I wasn't simply imagining things. Deciding to be brave, I put my arm around my acquaintance and let her snuggle up close.

After the movie was over, we sat and talked for a little while before my friend decided to head out because "it was getting late". I knew by the way she said it that what she was really doing was allowing my acquaintance and me to have some time alone. As my friend left I eased into conversation with my acquaintance, who was now resting herself in my arms. We talked and talked for hours upon hours about every topic under the sun. Our conversation flowed unbelievably naturally, and it was filled with many laughs, shared sentiments, and commonalities.

While we talked, she had went from simply being nuzzled up under my right arm snuggling with me, to lying her head in my lap as we talked. At the time, I hadn't felt an attraction to any of the girls that I knew in quite a while. My last relationship had ended in a terrible mess and I didn't want to get hurt again. In fact, this was the first night that I had actually been able to be alone with a girl and not feel at least a little bit of resentment towards the opposite sex. Up until then, I had had such a bad taste in my mouth from my last relationship that I couldn't be around a girl and believe that she wasn't going to hurt me somehow.

The night went on and daylight started to approach. I knew I had to get going. I don't remember why, but I had to be at home on the Saturday following our show. It tore me up inside to know that I had to leave. I had finally connected with a girl after the crashing and burning of my last relationship, and feeling her there snuggled up with me was something I had desperately been craving for a long time.

Not wanting to leave, but knowing I had to, I let her walk me up to the door. Before I left we shared a wonderful hug, one of those hugs where you feel completely wrapped up in the other person. As we were still held close to each other our eyes met. I could tell by the way they were sparkling at me and by the look on her face that she wanted me to kiss her. She wasn't going to make the first move, but her gaze told me she was begging for me to press my lips to hers. The look was quite intoxicating, and I had not seen anything like it in a very long time now.

But I didn't kiss her. I told her goodbye and that I'd see her again soon. There was something that held me back from going in for just a simple kiss and to this day I've always wondered why. I have always been very picky about girls (I can count all of the girls I've kissed, in my entire life, on both of my hands and still have a couple of fingers left over) so I've always tried to figure out what it was that wouldn't let me do what I so much wanted to do at that moment. My heart must have known that things just weren't right, even though they felt so much like they were.

The rest of the summer I only saw her a couple of other times. When I did see her next I could tell that she felt rejected and that she had given up on anything ever happening between us. Even though everything felt right that night, there was something that held me back. On that night, however, I did learn one important thing. I learned to trust my heart even if I don't always understand why it feels the way it feels.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Everybody Died Last Week

I've tried to make posts the past couple of days but have been foiled by Blogger a good majority of the time. It turns out that whenever I try to access Blogger using Firefox (v 1.0.2), the server throws out an error and won't let me in. Whenever I use the God forsaken browser of demons, Internet Explorer, it lets me in to my account without so much as a hiccup. Seriously, what gives? I'm about ready to give up on Blogger completely and try to find a different way to post, hopefully one that would be able to take all of my archives and migrate them to a different format.

One of the things I've been trying to post about is the death of Mitch Hedberg. At first I thought it was some type of April Fool's joke, but it turns out he really did pass on to the big comedy club in the sky. He has always been one of my favorite comedians, mostly because of his completely deadpan delivery. He had a crazy-awesome ability that allowed him to take the most trivial of truths and turn it on its head. The best way to really describe him, if you've never had the chance to see or hear his act, would be to classify him as a deadpan, more cynical version of Seinfeld. A version of Seinfeld that doesn't actually suck.

One of the saddest things about his death is that I'll never actually get to see him live. He would come through Minneapolis or St. Paul often enough since he is originally from Minnesota and I've always wanted to make it a point to go see him, but something always came up to keep me away. Makes you realize that you can't put everything off forever. Sometimes you just have to do it, like it or not.

In looking for some information about Mitch's life, I came across his entry in wikiquote. It lists a ton of quality quotes from his various stand up routines. Some of my favorites are below, in case you don't feel like wading through all of them on his wiki page.

You know they call corn on the cob, corn on the cob, but that's how it comes out
of the ground, man. They should call that corn, they should call every other
version corn off the cob. It's not like if you cut off my arm you would call it
Mitch. Then reattach it and call me Mitch-all-together...

I like baked potatoes, man. I don't have a microwave oven; it takes forever to cook a baked potato in a conventional oven. Sometimes I'll just throw one in there, even if I don't want one, because by the time it's done....who knows? I'll throw a potato in and go on vacation.

I was at a bar once, and no one was talking to me 'cuz I just did a show, and I ran into a guy, and instead of saying "excuse me" he said "get the hell out of my way,", so I said "Go to hell", and I ran away. He caught up to me, he had on a hat, a nose ring, an eybrow ring, a goatee, a tongue ring, and 3-earings. He said "Hey man, you have a lot of nerve," and then I said "Hey man, you have a lot of cranium accessories."

I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I'm gonna put pins into all the locations that I've travelled to. But first, I'm gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so that it will not fall down.

I hate turtlenecks. I have such a weak neck. Plus if you wear a turtleneck it's like being strangled by a really weak guy ... all day. And if you wear a turtleneck and a backpack it's like a weak midget trying to bring you down.

I know a lot about cars. I can look at a car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming.

I wrote a script for a guy, and he said he liked it but he thought that I need to rewrite it. I said, "Fuck that, I'll just make a copy."

I think Pringles' initial intention was to make tennis balls. But on the day that the rubber was supposed to show up, a big truckload of potatoes arrived. But Pringles was a laid-back company. They said "Fuck it. Cut 'em up."

I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry. And that's extra scary to me, because there's a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run. He's fuzzy. Get outta here.

2-in-1 is a bullshit term, because 1 is not big enough to hold 2. That's why 2 was created.

Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only one you can get yelled at for having. Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic. Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupus ... one of those two doesn't sound right.

I used to play in a Death Metal band. They either loved us or they hated us...or they thought we were "okay". Most Death Metal bands have dark names like "Obituary"..."Mortuary"..."Rigor Mortis". We weren't that intense. We were just "Injured". And later we changed it to "A Capella" as we were walkin' out of the Pawn Shop.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bloodsimple - A Cruel World CD Review

When examining Bloodsimple’s bio, the first thing you’ll notice is that there is a ton of experience surrounding the band. Vocalist Tim Williams and guitarist Mike Kennedy are both former members of the criminally underappreciated band Vision of Disorder. Guitarist Nick Rowe has more than a decade of jazz schooling under his belt. Bassist Kyle Sanders is a former member of another band that deserved more attention than they ever received—Skrew. Drummer Chris Hamilton has been a member of both Downset and Medication. The band was also the first to be signed to Chad Gray’s, of Mudvayne fame, Warner Brothers imprint, Bullygoat Records. When you combine all of these things on paper, you have one hell of an all-star lineup that should not, in any way, disappoint the listener.

A good majority of the time, though, when all-star groups such as this come together, the output doesn’t seem to match what it should on paper, but occasionally the combination will coalesce into a band which manages to take all of the individual talents of its members and fuse them together to create something even better than you would have imagined. Bloodsimple, on A Cruel World, take all of their experience and craft a cd that is just commercial enough to have a chance of succeeding in the mainstream, while still remaining brutally heavy enough that it will please all of the metal heads out there.

Bloodsimple’s debut doesn’t easily fall into any of the current popular heavy music sub-genres. They aren’t breakdown laden enough to be called metalcore. They definitely don’t have enough thrash or European influences to be thrown into the likes of the current incarnation of the definition of “metal.” They are even close enough to be schlocky enough to fall under the nu-metal banner. They don’t mix in any emo, so classifying them as emocore is out. They do have melodic moments, however, but not really enough to classify them as melodic metal. What they do have, though, is an amazing combination of all of these sub-genres, smattered throughout the course of this release’s run time.

It is probably safe to say that a good chunk of the people that will be interested in this release will be interested because of the involvement of two members of Vision of Disorder in this band. For all of you VOD fans, you will not be disappointed. More than a few times you can easily hear the strong VOD influence (later VOD I should note, just for clarity’s sake), especially on the slower tempo and more melodic offerings, such as “The Leaving Song” and “Sell Me Out”.

Upon initially listening to the disc, you may notice quite a disparity between the mellow and heavy sections of the cd. Oddly, the one downfall this cd has is that it can’t find a middle ground between the barrage of crunching, in your face songs and the slowed down, introspective metal tunes. There are a couple of songs that try to bridge this gap, but they are the weakest songs to be found on the disc. “Sell Me Out” is one such song and even though it’s not a bad song per se, it feels tired and boring in comparison to many of the other songs. “Running from Nothing” doesn’t so much bridge the gap as much as it simply has two distinct sections to the song—slowed down, melodic verses and grinding choruses.

Beyond those couple of missteps, Bloodsimple are quite capable of audibly ripping you apart. “Path to Prevail”, “Blood in, Blood Out”, “Cruel World”, and “Straight Hate” are all unbelievably strong songs, each containing enough bottled up aggression to cause an unsuspecting listener to spontaneously commit random acts of violence if not kept in check. Without resorting to clichéd blast-beat breakdowns or simplistic drop-tuned chord progressions, these songs are some of the heaviest you’ll have heard in ages.

A combination of metal talent such as what can be found within the ranks of Bloodsimple doesn’t come along very often, and even rarer does it work out that they come together to create a cd which is not only listenable, but a showcase for their combined talents. For the time being, this disc should be sitting at the top of every metal fans “to buy” list, assuming you haven’t already ran out to buy it.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mudvayne Interview

Last week Jared and I had the priviledge of interviewing Matt, the drummer of Mudvayne. Aside from a mix up with their tour manager, it went smoothly and came out quite well, if a little unbalanced. Let me explain. Jared had planned on asking him some questions about their tour, venues, and other music related stuff whereas I wanted to talk to him a bit about what he does for fun and in his spare time. Unfortunately for poor Jared, Matt happened to be a comic book collector. Once Matt and myself hit on that common thread, the entire interview took a wicked left turn down comic geek road. The majority of the interview turned into Matt and myself talking comics. I was going to post the interview here on my site, but it's pretty large so I'll just link to it instead and you can read it over at Decoy Music if you want to.

When we started the interview, Matt prefaced it by telling us that no questions about the band's abandonment of their onstage makeup would be answered. That was cool by us since we didn't even plan on asking about it since I'm sure they get it all the time. I'm also sure they get asked the same 20 or so questions about their music, touring, and life on the road so it was somewhat apparent that Matt was somewhat distanced and slightly disinterested when answering the music based questions. I'd be the same way if I had to answer the same stuff over and over again. When we started talking about comics, Matt really got into it. No doubt other interviewers didn't ask him about comics, or even if they somehow did they didn't know anything about them.

The interview, at that point, turned more into a conversation between two comic geeks gushing over what they do and don't like about the industry. Honestly, this interview would probably have fit in better over at Newsarama or CBR instead of Decoy, but I hope that maybe seeing Matt as passionate about comics as he is that some of the metalheads out there will pick up a comic or two and keep the industry out of the stagnation it's been in the last few years.

Anyways, since this was basically my first interview with a big name band, or big name anyone for that matter, let me know what you think of it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Microsoft, You Shady Devil

A short while back, my Xbox started on fire. This happened only a scant week after I received notice from Microsoft that they were recalling the power cords on older Xboxes, which mine was one of. Before I had a chance to get the new cord, the black video game unit went up in smoke, literally. After countless hours on the phone with Microsoft, my mom finally got them to agree to look at our Xbox and fix it, or if it can't be fixed to send us a new (and by new MS means refurbished) one.

Right now my Xbox is still in Microsoft's hands and I have no clue as to if I'll ever get it back or not. Oddly, even though I do not possess an Xbox right now since it is in MS's possession, they still sent me a new power cord. That was nice of them and all, but how about sending me back an Xbox that works for which I can use that power cord.

Now, after reading these two articles, I find out that it really wasn't the power cord that was the problem. Even with the new power cord, my Xbox still would have started on fire because of the slipshod soldering job on the power supply inside the Xbox. I really, really hope that someone finds a way to enact some type of class action lawsuit for this because Microsoft is just being ridiculous in issuing new power cords that will only slightly delay the inevitable destruction of your Xbox if the soldered joints have worn away. If the Xbox wasn't so much better than the PS2 and Gamecube, I'd just switch over to one of those platforms exclusively, but I like the Xbox's games so much more. That, and Live! seals the deal.