Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bush is an Inspiration... No, Really!

Not only is Peter David one of the most accomplished pop writers of our time, I also like to turn to him for his take on politics. Oddly enough, for a guy who writes Star Trek novels like they're going out of style and pens comic book scripts that are head and shoulders above the rest of his peers, he's also got quite the knack for finding the lunacy in many a political speech. Take, for example, his take on this week's address by the President:
The absolute lowpoint was the following:

"Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: "This Third World War is raging" in Iraq."

Am I the only one who finds this a hoot? What the hell has the world come to when we consider this: The credibility of the President of the United States is so non-existent, that if we won't take his word for it that the Iraq war was a necessary strike against terrorism, certainly we'll take the word of a murdering sociopath with the blood of three thousand Americans on his hands. Yes, that's right, kids: George W. Bush apparently believes that the words of Osama bin Laden have more street cred than his own.

Damn if that isn't a good point. I ended up watching most of the address while I was lifting since it was either watch that, infomercials, the televangelist channel, or ghetto rap videos on MTV2. I figured I'd watch what would give me the most motivation to stay angry and keep lifting, so George Bush's speech it was.

Now was it just me or did it feel like he said the same five sentences over and over again for about a half hour just with different words and in slightly different orders. "We must defeat terrorism, we need to help Iraq stand on their own feet, our troops are probably never coming home, I'm a friggin' tool, yadda, yadda, yadda." Between sets I ended up laughing about as often as I got frustrated. It still amazes me that this utter ass-clown somehow got elected as our president... twice. The United States is officially the most retarded nation in the world.

The only positive that has come out of his term as president, at least in my mind, is the resurgence of politically motivated songs in the punk, metal, and hardcore genres. When it was Clinton as president, songwriters were struggling for material to rant and rave about, but as soon as Bush rolled into the White House, there was more than enough material to go around. Listen to just about any recent rock cd and you'll probably hear at least one song making reference to something Bush did. Dropkick Murphys, Throwdown, Deadlock, System of a Down, Bane... I could keep going on and on. So thank you Mr. Bush for refueling the politcally flavored subgenre of heavy music! For everything else, you get the one finger salute.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Support Your Post Office

Reading this article from the Star Tribune I was reminded once again of how I love to take all of those credit card offers and other junk mail that I get and send them back to their owners--ripped, shredded, and sometimes with extra crap included. Since the credit card companies, loan consolidation companies, and other companies offering stuff provide you with postage paid envelopes, why not use them? What I have yet to try is what this guy did:
After checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper and small strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply envelopes that came with the junk packages.

"You wouldn't believe how heavy I got some of these envelopes to weigh," said Williams, who added that he saw an immediate drop in the amount of arriving junk mail. A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, Gerald McKiernan, said that Williams' actions sounded legal, as long as the envelope was properly sealed.
Sheet metal. How awesome is that? I sometimes throw extra paper and stuff in the envelopes, but I've never done anything that extreme. I'm tempted now, however. You can be assured that from here on out I'm going to be stuffing every postage paid envelope full of whatever garbage I have sitting around. As long as it still seals shut, you're good. That'll teach the suckers.

The Most Amazing Picture Ever

Drug Town!

So what's creepiest about this picture? The fact that it says "DrugTown" on the semi? Mr. Mullet Man himself holding a big ass trophy? Knowing that this is the guy that won a truck driving competition? Knowing that HyVee is responsible for the end of the world? I don't know about you, but all of them are pretty creepy to me.

It's moments like seeing this on my drive to work this morning that I'm glad I have an abso-freakin-lutely tiny camera that I just keep with me in my pocket. Just imagine, if I wouldn't have had my camera with, you never would have gotten to see this amazing image. Rock on, camera!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dick Clark's Secret

No, I'm not talking about the Resident Evil movies. I'm talking about this article I found on slashdot that references this article which tells of scientists reviving dead dogs after three hours of clinical death. The article is pretty skimpy on details and there is hardly any actual science detailed in the article, but just thinking about the possibility of bringing back dogs from the dead is a little creepy.

My first thought is that you might be able to do this indefinitely, if it does actually work, until your body can in no way, shape, or form function any longer. Think about it. You have a heart attack because of a blood clot when you're 50. You clinically die. You are then taken in to a hospital. The doc looks you over, sees you died of a heart attack, fixes the blockage, does this zombification process, and then you go on your way. 10 years later you have another one and then they do it all over again.

On top of being able to be zombified to come back from the dead, maybe it'll also have rejuvenitive properties. Got liver disease? Become a zombie. Got AIDS? Turn into a zombie. Cancer? Solved through zombification. Zombification would be the answer to all our problems! And to think we've been portraying them as mindless, brain-eating, decaying no gooders in the movies.

The only problem you'd have to deal with is that over time you'd end up looking like this:

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ants? Ants Make Me Crazy!



So it seems that our office has been overrun with ants as of late. I don't know why. I don't know how they got in. I don't know why they stick around. All I know is that I'm continually crushing these annoying little suckers throughout the day. After complaining about it with some co-workers and finding out that they suffer the same affliction, I took it upon myself to make scorecards to track how many of the little bastards we kill.

Right now I've got my scorecard tacked up in my cube and as of this morning I've put down six of the little suckers. It's weird because they don't appear to be coming from any one area. A couple of them were by my book stack. Another one was by my monitor. Another by my keyboard. One was next to my phone. The last one was climbing the wall of my cube. Each met the same fate for invading my personal work area.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) I'm not winning at the moment. Two other co-workers have put down quite a few more ants than I have. Supposedly our building manager is going to find us some ant traps or poison to take care of them, but until then the competition is still on!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Maybe Freud was on to Something

Rarely do I ever remember if I had a dream during the night and even rarer do I actually remember my dreams, but when I do they are often so vivid that they can quite easily have an influential effect on my day. I've been lucky enough to wake up some mornings feeling whole, fulfilled, and elated as I let the undeiably powerful and positive imagry of my dreams consume me. But then there are also the days where I wake up ready to kill, wanting to explode, and teeming with hate. Those are the days I have nightmares. One of those days was last night.

My nightmare was one of the worst I've had in quite some time. Waking up sweaty, in a panic, and physically overcome with anger and frustration is not a good way to start off the day, if you ask me. My dream very closely mimicked reality--my everyday reality--only slightly changing some of the details, changing them just enough to hurt me, to make me feel as though I was a toy, to make me feel hated. In my dream I was nothing more than a tool being used by those around me, by one of the people I most care about in my life, and my being used brought joy to this person. My torture was this person's pleasure.

I couldn't shrug off the feelings when I awoke and I was extremely angry at the real life version of the person that was manifested in my dream. I can undoubtedly say that when I woke up I hated that person with everything in me at the time. Slowly as I realized it was only a dream, the hate started to fade, but it's still there nonetheless, just diminished. Feeling this rage that was created by a dream did, however, show me things about how I view that person, as well as other people because I'd never really given into feeling that way about people before. Only could my subconscious rouse such feelings and in doing so, it showed me things I needed to see.

There is still lingering feelings of animosity swirling around inside of me hours after I've woken up. How amazing is it that my subconscious could stir up such feelings inside of me, feelings associated with real-life people, with a clever rearrangement of what I viewed as reality and showing it to me while I sleeped? It's unbelievably amazing.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Deadlock - Earth.Revolt CD Review



What makes a concept album? That’s an easy question, right? To most a concept album is simply an album that focuses singularly on one topic thematically or musically, much like the recent Armor for Sleep disc or classically such albums as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Recently it seems like concept albums are the thing to do again after a period of being a taboo undertaking. Just like fashion, the much maligned concept album is hip again.

Earth.Revolt, as you quite easily have guessed from the introductory paragraph, is a concept album, albeit a slightly less tightly intertwined one than those of their peers, yet one nonetheless. Deadlock focuses almost exclusively on the degeneration of the human race and our society as a whole, examining the dirty underbelly of our world as it slowly decays because of our selfishness and lack of environmental etiquette. So is this offering on par with recently well acclaimed releases using the same thematic binding technique (but obviously not the same topics), such as the aforementioned Armor for Sleep album or Mae’s Everglow? The simple answer to that question is, “Yes,” but a better answer would be, “Go buy this cd now and prepare to be amazed.”

Deadlock has created what may be one of the best melodic death metal releases in the last few years. Put quite simply, this cd is one of the most brutally beautiful discs you will hear this year and, more than likely, over the coming years. Never has a cd this heavy felt quite as beautiful at the same time. There are times where the drums will be beating your heart for you, the guitars are slicing you apart, the vocals rip through your ear drums, and the keyboards fuel an aggressive musical undercurrent that pulls at you… yet the song still feels tender and vulnerable at the same time.

This release has it all when it comes to black / death / prog metal. There are epic length songs, most clocking in over five minutes at the least and stretching out to over eleven at one point. The guitars are grinding, heavily distorted, and pulsing, yet they possess an almost precise, surgical feel. When you listen to the opening riff of “May Angels Come”, it feels like you’re slowly being musically disemboweled by a skilled axe-wielding surgeon; one that’s so skilled you can’t help but be anything other than fascinated as you watch your guts slowly being removed from your body and put on display. There are so many places on the disc where the guitars transcend the usual clich├ęd death metal approach and become a force to be reckoned with.

On top of the precision guitaring, the rest of the instrumentation is utterly superb with the only fault being some repetition, but that is something to expect from this genre anyways. Beyond the guitars and instrumentation, the vocals are simply a treat. Augmenting the death metal growls on a few tracks, most notably “Awakened by Sirens”, is the addition of enchanting melodic female vocals. The interplay between the growling aggression of the male death metal vocals and the haunting, yet forceful female vocals leads to a couple of unbelievably arranged songs. The combination of dark, grinding metal with stylistically beautiful vocals doesn’t feel out of place at all and the only actual qualm I have with the female vocals is that they weren’t used enough.

When viewed as a whole, Deadlock’s Earth.Revolt is a black metal masterpiece that anyone even mildly interested in metal, prog, metalcore, or heavy music in general should at least listen to if not buy as soon as possible. Be prepared for this album to show up on many metal top 10 lists come the end of the year. It’s already solidified a place on mine.

Friday, June 24, 2005

All You Bloggers Out There

Go take a survey. I did. I don't really know what the data is going to be used for or anything, but I love statistics so any time I can help participate and then check out the results, I'm happy. If you want to see the results of the survey, go here. To take the survey click on the image below.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Valedictorian

Over the weekend as I was getting a bunch of old newspapers together to go start a bon fire in my back yard with, I noticed an article that jump started a ton of memories for me from my high school days. It's not often that I look fondly back upon my days in high school since most of it was basically torture and I'd usually rather bathe in a pool of hydrochloric acid while simultaneously ingesting mutant piranhas that would eat me from the inside out, but this article brought back a few of the positive memories of high school.

The article was from the front page of Hayfield High School's school district newsletter (which is in newspaper form-all eight or so pages of it). On the front page were three pictures of students and a large caption that read "Hayfield Announces Honor Students". The pictures were of the two co-valedictorians and the salutatorian. Underneath each photo was a list of what the students were involved in as well as their future plans and what college each was attending. It was interesting to look at the activities that each was involved in since many times the valedictorians and salutatorians aren't involved in too many things since they're focused on being nerds, but these kids were very active.

Reading through their activities made me think back to when I was in the paper for being valedictorian. Yes, I was the head nerd of our class so go ahead and make fun of me now. I actually never expected to get it since I had pretty much gone into total slacker mode my senior year. I was more concerned with sports, being with friends, and trying to find my first ever girlfriend.

In about the middle of the third quarter of senior year I was called up to the principal's office during the middle of one of my classes, which was odd, but not too odd. I started rolling back the last few weeks in my brain trying to figure out what I'd done wrong and how I managed to get caught. You see, along with being the school valedictorian, I was also, in my high school career, put on field trip probation, suspended for a three day period, and was all in all the bane of a few teacher's existences. It was actually nice because I could goof off and get away with it for the most part. When I screw off in class, what's a teacher going to tell me? "Knock it off and focus on your schoolwork"? I don't think so since I was getting straight A's on everything. They just had to deal.

So I finally get to the school's office and walk in to see the principal, asking why he wanted to see me. He sat me down, looked at me sternly, and congratulated me! I was initially shocked, but after a little while, I realized that there wasn't really any way I couldn't get it since I'd gotten straight A's on everything all through high school... except for one A- in choir. So I can't sing, but I tried.

I was sitting there, just told that everything I did academically in high school finally paid off. It was a very unique feeling, almost like having a quick bout with a superiority complex, but it faded moments later when I realized I'd have to write a speech for graduation. Then it faded even more as I started thinking about all of the expectations that would now be heaped upon me. I'd have to go to a good college, get a degree in some smart kid major, get a high paying job, and show everyone that high school wasn't a fluke.

For the most part, I think I fulfilled those expectations. I went to St. John's University. I graduated with a 3.6 GPA and a BA in both computer science and philosophy. I initially found employment as a technical writer for a year and now have just recently been promoted to the position of business analyst. I seem to be on the right track. Where will I go from here, though? That's a question I wish I knew the answer to.

Monday, June 20, 2005

DC Solicits for September

I, like almost every other hardcore comic book nerd, pore over the solicitations for future products every month, often anticipating a little too heavily some items. Also, much like every other comic book fan, looking over what is coming down the road a couple of months in advance helps me to plan my budget so I know what I can afford to buy and what I'll have to let go. If you want to check them out yourself, you can look at DC's September solicits here. Below you will see what I will plan on buying, what I am thinking about buying, and what I think sounds utterly stupid.

Must Buy:
ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER #2 (It's Frank Miller, for crap's sake)
BATMAN #645 (Who wants to be the Red Hood ISN'T Jason Todd?)
BATMAN: WAR GAMES ACT 3 TP (Simply to complete the collection. I bought the other volumes, but have been somewhat unimpressed)
SUPERMAN/BATMAN #23 (This series is pretty much big, dumb, superhero fun and I love it)
ACTION COMICS #831 (Because I get all of Superman's titles)
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #644 (Because I get all of Superman's titles)
SUPERMAN #221 (Because I get all of Superman's titles)
JLA CLASSIFIED #12 (Ellis is the man)
MANHUNTER #14 (So far this series has been a pleasant surprise)
OUTSIDERS #28 (Another title I've really liked)
SEVEN SOLDIERS: GUARDIAN #4 (Grant Morrison is crazy... in a good way)
SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE #1 (Same as above)
THE INTIMATES #11 (I'm surprised that DC keeps soliciting more issues considering how terrible sales have been)
EX MACHINA #15 (Everyone should be reading this)
SILENT DRAGON #3 (Diggle knows his action)
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE TP - NEW EDITION (With the movie coming out and a tiny $9.99 price tag, why not?)
THE LOSERS #28 (I wonder how close we are to the end of the series)

Might Buy:
GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH HC (I never read anything Green Lantern, but maybe now's the time to get in on the game)
VIGILANTE #1 (Hmmm... Bruce Jones is pretty hit or miss with me and this seems like it'll be him doing Punisher in the DC universe)
WILDCATS: NEMESIS #1 (I heard so many good things about version 3.0 that maybe I should give Wildcats a try again)
BLOODY MARY TP (Ennis has always been good in my book. It'll depend on how much extra money I'll have)
THE QUITTER HC (I just watched American Splendor again this weekend and I'm intrigued by Pekar so this might have to get bought)

Sounds Ridiculous:
SHAZAM/SUPERMAN: FIRST THUNDER #1 (There was just a crossover with Superman and Shazam. Do we need another already?)
GREEN LANTERN CORPS: RECHARGE #1 (Green Lantern overkill anyone?)
WRAITHBORN #1 (Just the title makes me cringe and it sounds lame as well)

After looking that list over, I realize I buy way too many titles. Thankfully I didn't get drug into the whole Infinite Crisis crossover thingy as well or I would have to take out a loan just to keep up my comic fix. Thankfully I don't order much from Marvel anymore since they are putting out less and less that interest me each month.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Music Tracking

I've been consistently impressed with the AudioScrobbler service since I started using it a few months ago. Well, mostly impressed. The server outages have been slightly annoying, but other than that if you are a statistics and/or music freak this service is great. As I've said before, AudioScrobbler is a plug-in for most of the popular music playing applications that you use on your computer (Winamp, iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc.) to track what you listen to. I like seeing how my listening patterns change from week to week since I'm very finnicky about what I listen to and I also like seeing what is popular with readers of Decoy Music, the online music mag I work for.

One feature I never really used before was the recommendations page. This page looks at what you listen to and compares it against the massive user tracking database and tries to figure out what bands you would like based upon what you listen to. It also attempts to figure out what you'd like to listen to more of from your music collection based upon what you are currently listening to. I finally checked out this page and was pretty disappointed by what I found. It might be because I'm selective about the bands in the genres I listen to, but most of the bands that were recommended to me I really don't like. Let's take a quick look at the top 25 bands that AudioScrobbler says I should be a fan of based upon my listening pattern

1 The Early November -- These guys are ok and I've listened to them in the past, but their brand of emo never impressed me too much.
2 The Used -- I will NEVER listen to these bunch of sell-out popsters posing as rock stars.
3 Halifax -- I listened to their EP a while back and didn't like it much at all.
4 Coldplay -- I hate this band. I could never get into anything they played. Stupid brit-rock.
5 JamisonParker -- Never heard these guys so maybe I'll have to track them down and give 'em a shot.
6 Matchbook Romance -- Only heard a song or two from compilations by these guys so I don't remember what they sound like.
7 Boys Night Out -- Basic pop-punk band that didn't impress me much.
8 Spitalfield -- Heard like one song by them and didn't like their particular brand of "scream-sing" emo.
9 Death Cab for Cutie -- I am totally and completely bored by these guys.
10 Every Time I Die -- Now here's a band that I actually did wish I listen to more. I don't have any of their cds so I might have to look into tracking some down.
11 Something Corporate -- I used to listen to these guys all the time when their debut came out, but their sophomore album, South, totally sucked and killed my interest in them.
12 Days Away -- Never listened to them.
13 Say Anything -- I really, really don't like alt rock and pop rock that much so that's why I don't listen to this band.
14 Cartel -- Never listened to them but I've never felt the need to either.
15 Straylight Run -- Would like to give these guys a listen if I can stumble upon one of their cds somewhere.
16 Northstar -- Listened to a song or two back in the day and got really, really sleepy.
17 Dashboard Confessional -- How come all of their songs sound exactly the same? Boring band.
18 The Postal Service -- Interesting band, but not my cup of tea.
19 The Bled -- Eww... these guys are the crap of the crop when it comes to metalcore.
20 The Rocket Summer -- Heard a lot of good things, but they fall into the alt pop rock genre that I despise.
21 Bright Eyes -- Boring, boring, boring, boring.
22 The Blood Brothers -- These guys are a little too off the wall for me. Their music makes me want to have seizures.
23 Converge -- Ah, another band I actually wish I listened to. I recently heard some songs online from their upcoming disc of rarities (at least that's what I think the content of the disc is going to be) and I really liked it.
24 Fear Before the March of Flames -- I've seen these guys live and heard their cd and both make me want to puke. They don't make music, they make noise.
25 The Format -- Heard good things, but haven't gotten around to listening to them.

Anyhow, so there are the top 25 artists that AudioScrobbler thinks I should listen to. I really don't want to listen to more than a handful, though, so for me, at least, I think the recommendations feature is kind of a bust, but maybe it works better for some other people out there.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Andy Burns' Bachelor Party

I finally got the pictures from Andy's bachelor party up for everyone's viewing pleasure. It was definitely an interesting night to say the least and the next day was even more of an adventure. Here's a small sample of what you can look forward to in Burns' Bachelor Party photo album:

God I Love Coffee

Caffeine has become a staple in my life. I simply cannot function without it. I’ve tried giving it up in the past, but going through a couple of days of intense headaches and then feeling like I’m drowsy every waking minute for the next couple of weeks just isn’t fun. The last time I tried to kick the caffeine was probably a couple of months ago when I was sick.

It was easier to give up caffeine then since I didn’t want to eat, drink, or consume anything and I already felt like crap, but once I recovered from being sick I found that I still felt like I had no energy. I had (and have) such a strong addiction to caffeine that I pretty much need it to function. If I don’t get my usual daily dose I can expect to have a headache and not want to do anything other than crawl into bed and sleep.

Since it’s become such an essential part of my life, I decided to look up some information on caffeine and found out a few interesting tidbits that I hadn’t known before. When searching for caffeine resources, the first site I stumbled upon was this one. The first thing I saw that caught my attention was this:
Caffeine is rapidly absorbed through the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream, where it takes about 15-45 minutes to reach peak levels.

I thought that caffeine had a more instantaneous effect as I can usually tell a difference in a few minutes, or at least I think I can… Even though it takes effect relatively quickly, once I start getting one of my headaches from caffeine withdrawl, no matter how I ingest right then and there, there’s no stopping my headache. I simply have to let it run its course.

Sometimes in order to counteract, or in an attempt to counteract, my headaches I’ll take a little bit too much caffeine. Usually it wouldn’t have too much of an adverse effect on me. I’d mostly just have to pee a lot more often. Apparently you can have some really adverse side effects from too much caffeine.
Doses of over 750 mg (7 cups of coffee) can produce… a reaction similar to an anxiety attack, including delirium, drowsiness, ringing ears, diarrhea, vomiting, light flashes, difficulty breathing, [and] convulsions.

Now how come nothing sweet like that ever happens to me when I have like an entire pot of coffee at work? It would make sitting in front of my computer for 8 hours so much more bearable if I was tripping out seeing odd light patterns, thinking I was Buddha, and convulsing on the floor.

I think I may just have to experiment one of these nights and pop like 5 No-Doz tablets while drinking like 3 Red Bulls to see if I can somehow bring myself to see God or Elvis or Tupac or something. Not like I have anything better to do some nights…

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Yeah Right, I Doubt It

Slow and Steady
Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy.

They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder.

It'd really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment.

They expect you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then usually decide against it.

Who'd Have Thought...

...that Wolverine would be the main focus of the next X-Men movie. As if Marvel doesn't whore him out enough in the comics by having him on every X-Men team, in his own book, on the Avengers, and crossing over into at least one book a month, but now it looks like he'll be the focus of X3, the next X-Men movie, or at least that's what the movie poster, pictured below, makes it look like.



On top of it all, Hugh Jackman signed on for a Wolverine solo movie that will come out probably sometime after X3. I'm starting to wonder if movie-goers will get as sick of the character as long time comic readers are. I pretty much dropped all of the X-titles this year, as well as Wolverine's solo book, because I was so damn sick of the character. Well, that and the writing on most of the titles was atrocious.

I'm hoping this is just a clever poster design and that the story will actually focus on the Phoenix or Dark Phoenix sagas like X2 set up at the end. Only time will tell. In the meantime I can't wait to see Batman Begins and I'm slowly losing all hope for Fantastic Four the more previews I see. Oh well, at least there's always Stealth, right?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Busy Packing

Well, pretty soon now I will be residing in Rochester instead of in the ass-crack of nowhere which, if you don't know where it is, is about 5 miles beyond the land of nothing ever happens here. If you can't find either place, take a drive into the middle of a wide open area in southern Minnesota where there are no towns in sight and take a look around. Odds are you are probably close to where I grew up.

Today I'm moving most of my stuff up--my bed, my dvd's, my books, my clothes, my bathroom stuff, my video games, my display crap, and some other odds and ends. I'm leaving the computer and computer desk to take up another day, as well as my couch. I didn't think I'd have that much to bring, but I found I wanted to bring with me a lot more junk than I thought. For some reason as I was going through crap in my room and basement I kept thinking "I really want to bring this with," or "I can't possibly leave this here at my parents' place." So... yeah, I don't know how it'll work out, but I'm sure I'll be able to cram most of my stuff into my room and the basement and I'm sure some of it I'll realize I really didn't actually want to bring with.

Since I'm going to be busy moving, and since I felt like futhering my descent into catblogging, here's a picture of Stitch!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sinai Beach - Immersed CD Review


Christian metalcore and hardcore are two genres that manage to either be hated or embraced by those who listen to the secular version of the two. For some reason, many elitist *core kids deem anything with a Christian or religious slant as obviously inferior to secularized bands with the exact same musical underpinnings. Does talking about spirituality really make a band that much less viable in the *core music market? Some would say yes while others would argue no. Who knows who is actually right.

Usually most Christian metalcore acts stick to a few particular labels, most notably Solid State or Facedown. Sinai Beach has, however, strayed from the usual stomping grounds of the Christian metalcore scene and aligned themselves with Victory after having previously put in time at Facedown. Until you actually focus in on the lyrics of Immersed, you’d never have thought that Sinai Beach was a Christian band, which is really how it should be. Being biased against a band simply because of personal beliefs instead of musical merits is beyond stupid, but unfortunately that’s not the type of mindset that many metalcore listeners possess.

Immersed is very much a straight-ahead, slightly southern rock inspired, metalcore album. Driving guitars, crunchy breakdowns, melodic choruses, double-bass pounding, and growling verses can all be found in abundance throughout this release. There is one small addition that Sinai Beach adds to the basic metalcore mix, however, and it is something that you don’t often hear in metalcore—electronics. “To the Church” is a prime example of how a small electronic flourish can actually add to a song instead of it coming off as sounding superfluous. As the chorus kicks in, right after a brutal verse, the electronic flair gives the song an air of modernity in an overplayed genre.

Beyond the electronics, there weren’t too many things that managed to stand out on this disc when compared against other contemporary metalcore releases, except maybe the melodic vocals of CJ Alderson. When screaming he comes across just like any number of metalcore frontmen, but when he’s singing he sounds an awful lot like Danzig. At times you’ll wonder when he’s going to start belting out “Mother…” Most of the time it’s only a passing similarity but on some songs, such as “Obedience through Desecration”, you’ll almost feel like there were guest vocals from Mr. Danzig laid down on the track.

When you really come down to it, this is yet another decent metalcore release in a genre that’s already teeming with a good number of outstanding, as well as many not-so-outstanding, bands. Sinai Beach manage to separate themselves from the pack, but only slightly, and that simply isn’t enough to push them to the forefront of the genre, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Is This What Being Grown Up is Like?

Life sure has a way of keeping me busy. Like I said in my last post, I wish I had more time in the day since I never seem to get what I want done actually done in a day. This week and next week will probably be a couple of the busiest weeks in recent memory.

Work has managed to get extremely busy and I’ve been bogged down in meetings and work associated with said meetings and work preparing for said meetings. I don’t mind it too much, but since I’m a people pleaser I think I get into trouble by agreeing to put too much on my plate that I end up stressing out or not being able to get it done as fast as I’d like. I hate telling people no, but I suppose I’ll have to learn how or else I’ll just burn out.

To add to my ever growing list of things I need to do, I now can add packing and moving. Sometime over the next couple of weeks I will be moving out of my parents’ house and into the basement of a friend who lives in Rochester. It’ll definitely be wonderful to not have the 40 minute commute every morning and every night. It’ll also be great to be closer to the friends I have in town and to be able to have the ability to hang out whenever instead of just after work. On the downside… I really don’t want to leave my home.

Living with your parents may not be the ideal situation for people graduating from college, but I certainly loved it and am glad I did. I love living with my parents. They’re great. We get along great. Everything works out great. It just finally came to the point where I felt like I wanted to be able to be with friends and whatnot more. I’m sure I’ll be back home often enough, but it’ll be different living away from home.

So, yeah, things are busy. I need more than 24 hours in a day. I want things that are ambiguous in my life to be not ambiguous. I want work to not be so busy. I want to just instantaneously be living in Roch instead of having to pack and move. I want a lot of things and I have a feeling I probably won’t get any of them any time soon.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I Wish...

...that my cell phone would ring longer before it goes right to the voice mail. I end up missing some calls because just as I get to my phone, the caller is already kicked to the voicemail.

...that I could work outside. Being in an office during the best part of the day, from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, is sometimes quite depressing. How can you not stare out the windows and wish you were out playing in the beautiful weather.

...that I wasn't so fickle about music. No matter how good a cd is, I usually get sick of it after a week or less so I always need to have new music around to listen to. Then when I do get new stuff to listen to, my fickleness leads me to dislike half of it or be completely unimpressed by anything that doesn't initially catch my ear.

...that I was back in college. I don't think I'll ever stop feeling this way.

...that I didn't get hungry when I'm nervous, anxious, worried, or bored because I'm almost ALWAYS one of the three and trying to shed a few pounds these last couple of weeks has been torture and I'm sure attempting to lose a few pounds the next couple of weeks will be just as bad.

...I had more time to just sit and write. That, and when I think about something I want to write about, I wish I'd remember it later on when I actually got to a computer instead of completely blanking.

...there were more hours in the day. Every day I go to bed not having done at least one thing I had wanted to. Be it not reading a comic book I had wanted to, not getting a chance to talk to someone, not exercising as much as I wanted or at all, not getting to play with the kittens, or any other number of things. There's just too much to do every day and often I am simply overwhelmed.

...some things in my life were more stable. Some things that I've previously depended on and counted on are no longer quite how they used to be and it's hard adjusting, and it's hard to contemplate the possibility that some of the foundational pieces of my life may no longer be as big of a part of my life as I want them to be.

...I could just magically transport my family and our farm to the outskirts of Rochester so that I'm close to the city, yet I'll still be at home. If I move, I know I'll be leaving a big part of my life 40 miles away, yet if I stay I'm going to continue to stay isolated from all of the friends I have in Rochester and the events I like to participate in. Lose-lose situations can bite my ass.

...that God would quick screwing around with me while I sleep. I want one night where I'm not either haunted by nightmares, tortured by being able to dream yet not remember them in the morning, left completely awake with no change of falling asleep, or sleeping so hard that I miss out on calls I promised to get.

...my cd burner at work would stop burning flawed cds. It seems like only one in every three burns comes out ok.

...I had more friends.

...I had closer friends.

...for things I can't have.

...that I didn't feel as small, left out, insignificant, and alone as I do.

...I wasn't as needy as I was.

...I was more attractive.

...for one thing, really--the chance to completely open up, let myself and everything that's inside of me out into the open, and to have it not be a burden on those around me.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Crack Adventures!



It's amazing how the times change, isn't it? Back in the 50's or so when this was published it was a horror book. Now if you picked up a comic that was titled "Crack Adventures" at your local shop, it would probably be about Snoop Dogg's latest attempt to find some more chronic with his hommies or some stupid crap like that. Yeah, anyways, I thought it was a really funny / interesting comic cover. So there.

Richard Cheese - Aperitif for Destruction CD Review


I remember watching through the remake of Dawn of the Dead a year or so ago noticing that during one particular zombie fighting portion of the movie a lounge version of Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” was playing in the background. It was an unbelievably surreal combination where zombies, crappy nu-metal, lounge music, and wholesome, bloody fun meshed together onto a movie screen. Even in my drug-free state, I still enjoyed the utter oddity of the combination. When the scene was over, I wasn’t so much thinking about how I just saw a pretty gory zombie beatdown, but instead I pondered the background music that accompanied the scene. A lounge band covered a nu-metal song… over the sounds of zombie destruction? That’s something you don’t hear every day.

There’s a reason you don’t hear that type of thing every day—you’d get sick of it pretty damn fast. There’s a fun novelty to hearing some off the wall songs covered by a lounge band, but it’s definitely not something you’d listen to every day, or every week or month for that matter. It’s something you can only take in doses. With that said, Richard Cheese’s latest disc is another fun disc full of lounge covers consisting of a variety of popular songs. From Alanis Morrissette’s “You Oughta Know” to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” over to 2 Live Crew’s “Me so Horny” and Slipknot’s “People Equal Shit” you have just about every musical base covered.

What’s going to make this cd either an addition to your vast collection of undeniably quirky releases or a disc to avoid like a rabid howler monkey on crack is how much you can tolerate a cd full of lounge covers. Seriously, there’s not a whole lot else to say about this disc—it’s a band covering popular songs… lounge style. There are a couple of fun moments that break out of this mold, but for the most part every song blends together leading this cd to act best as nothing more than a novelty item.

Truth be told, though, this is a fun disc for the few times you’ll probably listen to it. Hearing Richard impersonate Stephen Hawking on “The Girl is Mine” is comical… for a little bit. U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” done as a mambo is seriously a lot of fun. Bel Biv Devo’s “Do Me”, on the other hand, is easily the worst track on the cd since most of it is the voice of the producer telling Richard that “do me” is two separate words instead of one, at which point he decides to go into a 30 second cursing rant. As for the rest of the songs, they all follow basically the same pattern of slow, laid back lounge.

Richard Cheese. Lounge covers. Either you like the quirkiness of his efforts or you don’t. I’m pretty sure the four paragraphs above won’t convince someone who hates lounge to buy this disc or vice versa, so enjoy it if you want to or leave it on the shelf if you choose—you’re making the decision, not me.