Friday, December 30, 2005

Emo Band Promo Photo

Yes, I realize this is three posts for me in one day. Yes, I also realize most days I have trouble getting one out with how busy I've been. Lucky for you I've had a somewhat lax day at work and I've felt like writing. This one will be short, though, I promise.

So I've been playing around in Photoshop lately, playing with filters, effects, and actions. In my playing I've found a really great action that lets you turn photos into what looks like comic book art. At it's most basic, using this action is like using the posterize effect, but you have a lot more options for tweaking things (such as the shadowing, the newsprint vs glossy layering, etc.). Below is one of the photos I just "comic book-ed". It's of me and my two brothers sitting on the couch during Christmas. It looks more like the PR pic of an up and coming emo band, if you ask me.

On the Couch

Don't Tell Me How to Use My CDs

There's a couple of reasons I don't buy cds from major labels (or in general). One of those reasons is that I work for an online music magazine, Decoy Music, and receive promotional copies of many of the cds from labels for review purposes since I am in charge of the reviews department at Decoy. For the most part, I get mailed to me most of the music I would want to listen to (as well as a crap-ton of junk from bands that suck more than they know). Sometimes, though, I don't get promos of bands or cds that I really want. It's at this time that I am stuck wondering what to do.

I mostly listen to my music on my work PC, my home PC (it serves as my home stereo), and my portable MP3 player (for when I'm anywhere other than home or work). I like to avoid buying cds from major labels mostly because they just don't get what consumers want. With the whole Sony rootkit fiasco I'm even less inclined to buy cds, especially since I was infected by their rootkit since I bought the Masters of Horror cd.

Now you have Virgin Records dictating to you how you can use their cds. Seriously, this is enough. I rarely buy cds as it is, but with tactics such as this I am now really really rarely going to buy a cd, and if I do it'll probably be from an upstart band just trying to make a few dollars to keep writing music.

Where can I listen to cds if they won't work on a PC and can't be ripped to MP3? Well, my car stereo is about it. So I can listen to a Virgin Records release for the 8 minutes to work and from work and then on the weekends I travel or when I have to make business trips to Iowa. Well, during those times I don't want to because I'm listening to audiobooks.

This is ludicrous and I really hope that people start to examine the cds they buy and put back anything that comes from Sony/BMG or Virgin or any other label that basically says "Screw you!" to their customers. They've lost any future sales they had from me. And they wonder why sales are slumping. It almost makes me feel dirty to simply work in the music sector at all.

Midgets Under the Hood

This week, almost everywhere I’ve driven I’ve felt like I was zooming along in a brand spanking new car. Not because I have a brand spanking new car, but because Alfred, my ’93 Saturn, feels like one.

Up until Tuesday Alfred had not been doing so hot. His front bearings were going so whenever I’d get up over about 50 mph I would be assaulted with a pummeling, pulsating cacophony of sound that made it impossible for me to hear my audiobooks or cd player unless I had the volume as loud as it would go—and that’s pretty loud, especially considering Alfred’s pimped out with a righteously non-factory sound system, complete with ginormous sub and 8 bajillion watt amp.

Needless to say the noise was annoying, but just as annoying was the heavy vibration that accompanied the noise. It felt like an army of midget construction workers with jackhammers were on the other side the gas pedals and were bound and determined to hammer their way through. When I drove up to visit Kristin in St. Cloud (a 2.5 hour drive one way), my feet were in a perpetual state of shuddering for about an hour after I arrived thanks to those damn midgets.

But Tuesday, oh that magical day, Tuesday Alfred was given new life. He had his bearings changed, the midgets fumigated for, and new life injected into him. As I drove him home from the shop I caught myself going 75 on a 55 mph road simply because I was waiting for the noise and vibration as that’s how I’d been gauging my speed lately. It never came and if I wouldn’t have checked my speedometer I probably would have just kept accelerating until everything started blurring into light speed (Saturns are fast like that, you know).

I’m still not used to the smoother driving and find myself weaving in and out of the sparse traffic here in Rochester on my way to and from work. Truth be told, I love pumping the techno (usually BT or Paul Oakenfold) and zooming home after work. I feel like a race car driver… or at least like I’m playing Need for Speed: Underground or something.

So if you happen to get passed by a green Saturn with a St. John’s University sticker in the back window while you’re in Rochester, it’s me. Smile and wave. It’ll make me go faster!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Motivation

I've been asked more than a few times by different people why I blog. Truth be told, most of the time I still don't consider myself a "blogger", even though I go by the nickname "Rick the Blogger" with a couple of my friends. It was because of a TV news article they did on me this last year... but anyways that neither here nor there.

Usually when asked that question I try to point out that this blog didn't start as a blog per se. Originally it was only accessible by my family and people that I went to college with. I used it mainly as a way to post about activities at school so that my parents knew what I was doing and some of my friends could know what days I had certain things going on.

Over time it morphed into a way for me to vent about the things that pissed me off in life. I wouldn't really write about anything unless I was really mad. Truth be told, not everything I wrote was whining, complaining, or yelling, but whenever I did write it was because I was upset about something. It was a great outlet for me to air my frustrations somewhat semi-anonymously (this was before I registered my blog at this address, which kind of gives away who I am).

I then let it change even further. I used it as a way to work on keeping my work writing skills sharp. Since I was working as a technical writer, I needed a way to just write about stuff without it being technical so that I could then get more focus when I needed to write in a technical manner.

In recent months, or even year I suppose, I've continued to do it mostly out of habit and because I manage to get some kind of joy out of it. How I get joy out of it, I don't always know, especially since what I write on here sometimes gets me in hot water with people I know, but I do. Still, at times I wonder exactly what it is that drives me to keep writing. Then a couple of weeks ago I received an anonymous email that galvanized exactly why it was that I kept writing--people have made a connection to me. People have gotten to know me in some sort of abstract way through this thing we use daily called the internet. There's a virtual piece of me contained within this blog that somehow people out there have found a connection with.

To a few people I know, this is a relatively scary notion, but to me I find it almost comforting. To know that someone else can connect to what I write validates the time I put into writing, even if it is only being used as an outlet to type away my thoughts so that I don't focus on them anymore. So, here it is, here is one of the reasons I keep writing:
Hi Rick,

I’m a semi-anonymous reader of your Blog. I decided to send you this email directly and not post it on your Blog.

You’ve been on my Favorites list so long I no longer recall exactly when I discovered your journal or how I even found it. For readers, like myself, a Favorite blog can become like a comfortable pair of shoes. You just wear 'em, and wear 'em, and wear 'em, and never even say thanks.

That said, I deciced I should tell you that I enjoy so much what you write, and I like the person who comes through in your writings. Thank you, Rick, for the entertaiment you've brought me in 2005 as well as the motivation. Reading your journal brought me pleasure and entertaiment, and in small ways helped me with my own self improvement initiatives. I'm sure that wasn't your plan, but that's how it worked out. You write in a way that permits others to identify with your experiences. I wish I could write like that. Okay, that's my feedback. You're a good man, Rick. The world needs more guys like you. I'm convinced that a Blogger should become President. I guess that's a suggestion for a post. Imagine. A trusted Blogger becoming President. Not a bad idea. A nerd in the oval office. I'm liking the idea more all the time.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that! I'll be anonymous again now.

One of your fans

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Top 10 CDs of 2005

In continuing with the music motif of the last couple of posts, I bring to you my top 10 CDs of 2005. I would have made a larger list (and in fact I had a 64 band list and breakdown) but we were limited to 10 submissions for our top 10 feature at Decoy Music this year. I hope that I can turn you on to a couple of new bands that I thought were simply amazing this year. So, here they are!

10. 10 Years - The Autumn Effect

The Autumn Effect It’s not too often that a band can create a release that is both mainstream friendly and smart. 10 Years have broken out of the underground onto a major label and unleashed a progressive, yet not impenetrable, modern hard rock cd. The songs are all inherently catchy without being cliché, which shows that you can still maintain your integrity even if you do get on a major label.

9. Porcupine Tree - Deadwing

Deadwing Prog is usually something that you love or you don’t. If you don’t, then Porcupine Tree is nothing more than overindulgent songwriters who like to sit around and experiment. If you are a prog fan, then the latest offering from Porcupine Tree will be one of the best cds you’ll listen to all year. This is modern prog done to perfection.

8. The Lost Children of Babylon - The 9/11 Report: The Ultimate Conspiracy

The 9/11 Report: The Ultimate Conspiracy With the war in Iraq and Bush’s constant bungling of governmental affairs, many bands have written songs that poke fun at the situation or try to make people take notice. The Lost Children of Babylon take their hatred for Bush and the current regime to a new level by creating an entire album dedicated to the corruption of our current leaders. Hip hop with a message has never sounded so personal and so in your face. This cd obliterates every other rap and hip hop cd that has come out all year.

7. Sikh - Sikh

Sikh Not to be confused with the more well known band Sikth, Sikh are an interesting metal band. They are equal parts One Minute Silence, Soulfly, and System of a Down. There are many tribal inflected songs intertwined with ratatat vocals as well as more pummeling metal tracks with a crazy edge.

6. Oceansize - Everyone into Position

Everyone into Position Oceansize have created one heck of a behemoth of an album with Everyone in Position. Long songs, creative musicianship, and a sound that envelops the listener are all traits that Oceansize have in aplomb. There is no denying the power that this album possesses. This is great music all around.

5. A Wilhelm Scream - Ruiner

Ruiner You want a cd that’s energetic? A cd that’s punk (not nu-punk)? A cd that you can sing along to as well as mosh out too? A cd that has absolutely no weak songs or filler tracks? I know I’d kill for that kind of cd, and this year I didn’t even have to kill anyone to get it since A Wilhelm Scream created that type of cd quite easily with Ruiner. Punk cd of the year!

4. Cog - The New Normal

The New Normal When I first listened to Cog I really didn’t know how good they were. They seemed like a much more melodic and bold version of Tool, but as time went on I realized that they were so much more than just a Tool clone. Some may take this next statement as blasphemy, but Cog is easily a step or two ahead of Tool when it comes to creating songs that utilize the band members’ talents with their instruments, while not being self indulgent, self important, and generally masturbatory. On The New Normal you get songs, actual songs, which are amazing. The end.

3. The Agony Scene - The Darkest Red

The Darkest Red Michael Williams, how the hell do you do that with your voice? Are you actually a demon possessed? You can easily pick out a song by The Agony Scene simply by the vocals. Not to say that the rest of the band is untalented, because they are far from it (and I wouldn’t let a band into my top ten that wasn’t talented all around). It’s just that Michael’s voice is what really makes this band. His bloodcurdling screams combined with his mastery of melody manage to create a vocal onslaught that I don’t think any other metal band can match.

2. As I Lay Dying - Shadows Are Security

Shadows Are Security On this release you will find what is easily the greatest metalcore song of the last 3 years in “Confined”. This song alone makes this cd a top 10 contender. Thankfully the rest of the cd is nearly as amazing. As I Lay Dying has created the most accessible and downright lethal metalcore cd to be unleashed in the last 5 years. If this cd doesn’t work as a gateway drug to get kids listening to quality metal and metalcore, nothing will.

1. Deadlock - Earth.Revolt

Earth.Revolt I don’t know what to say about this cd other than it is brutally beautiful. Every up and coming black metal, death metal, metalcore, melodic metal, goth metal, prog metal, and even grindcore band should listen to this cd before they even start to think about churning out yet another run of the mill pile of crap waste of plastic. With Earth.Revolt you are presented with a disc that covers all of the aforementioned bases and covers them perfectly. If you like heavy music at all, you NEED to hear this cd. You will not regret it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Mon Frere - Real Vampires CD Review

Call me vain, call me sexist, call me a pig, call whatever you want, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that bands who manage to have hot, female lead singers usually find a way to separate themselves from the rest of their peers, simply because they have that hot female lead that can turn the head of horny little 15 year olds at concerts. Trust me, it works.

Mon Frere’s Nouela Johnston might not be the hottest girl around, but her voice sure as hell is. It’s her vocals, dancing over the dark synth dance punk background of the rest of the band that makes you want to listen to Real Vampires over and over again unlike, say, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Nouela kills Karen O). Not too dissimilar from Karen O, Nouela has a very natural ebb and flow, but it feels much more matched to this style of music.

This style consists of a healthy electronic framework—the keys are definitely a main focus on this EP—complemented by a very angular, thick, and punchy dose of guitar, well paced drums, and even a few hand claps. At under 14 minutes in length, though, you seriously don’t get enough material to satiate your Mon Frere cravings (trust me, you’ll get them once you put this disc in), but that’s why there’s the repeat button on your cd player. Use it!

I dare you pick up this EP, set aside 14 minutes of your time, listen to it, and then walk away never thinking about this band again. It won’t happen… one of the prime reasons being the chorus in “Up Circle” where Nouela croons "It's all double dutch". (Trust me, when it's sung it sounds way cooler than you simply reading it.) These songs are fun! The band is fun! The entire EP is fun! Wait... it's a little dark every now and again, but it's mostly fun. So there. Just go buy the damn thing, ok?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Dear Whoever - Sound the Trumpet CD Review

When I was younger I used to play Super Street Fighter II all the time. Anyone who wanted to take me on, I’d challenge them to an afternoon of getting smacked down, because I had a strategy that I thought was unbeatable. As Chung-Li or E. Honda I could dominate just about anyone using E. Honda’s hundred hand slap or Chung-Li’s lightning kick. Whenever someone got close to me, I'd do those moves over and over. It was easy to do (all I had to do was jam on the punch or kick buttons), and it would work over and over again. That is, until whoever I was playing against figured me out. I didn't have any other power moves or strategies to use. It was at this point that I was screwed since I never planned ahead. I was content to keep doing the same thing over and over.

Much like my Street Fighter II battling tactics, rock and metal bands are simply all too content to keep hundred hand slapping with rehashed, retread, and regurgitated sing/scream emo crap. Sure, Hawthorne Heights and Silverstein and The Goodwill and Senses Fail have all sold very well, but that doesn’t mean that every band that sounds like them will do equally as well. No, this genre has reached the point of diminishing returns where it might not even be possible for a label to break even when signing a new “screamo” band to their roster.

But here we are yet again with Broken Line Records throwing out a blatant, albeit slightly heavier and rougher, copy of Hawthorne Heights at us. I’m sorry, but your thousandth screamo lightning kick is no match for the long distance fireball throwing techniques of kung-fu master Ryu, which I’ve finally learned in order to counter your boring, cheap, and overused tactics. You can't keep winning without evolving your approach.

What’s unfortunate is Dear Whoever probably don’t even realize that they’re nothing more than a copy of a copy of a copy... of a copy. Through all the copycatting that has permeated this genre, there is rarely a band or release that holds any real emotion, integrity, or aggression—it’s all become so fake, cliched, and fashion-centric.

Dear Whoever’s Sound the Trumpet is yet another release in a long line of releases that will have its 5 minutes in the sun before fading away into the cold, empty darkness of musical obscurity. How much do you want to bet that after their tour to support this effort we won’t hear much from Dear Whoever ever again? I’d have to say it’s a pretty safe bet.

Merry Christmas

It has all led up to this. All the shopping, all the gift wrapping, all the decorating, all the cooking, all the preparation, and all of everything else you did to prepare for the 25th of December. It's finally here and, frankly, it feels like it got here faster than ever.

Oddly, at least for a Minnesotan, the temperature is above freezing right now, there's mostly snirt (snowy dirt) scattered around, and you can see pieces of grass here and there. Isn't it supposed to be freezing out with feet upon feet of snow piled in the yard? I know that part of the reason Christmas felt like it got here so fast is that it never quite seemed like full on winter yet.

Regardless of what Mother Nature decided to do for the month of December, Christmas is here. I'm at home spending it with my family (right now waiting for everyone to wake up). My brothers probably won't get up until noon if we let them sleep!

We'll go to church this morning to celebrate. We'll return home to eat lunch (which I don't think I need since I ate so much last night). Then we'll open our presents... which used to be my favorite part of Christmas, but now I really don't want too much, so presents aren't as integral to the holiday season as they were in my childhood and teen years. Oddly, though, I still love to get presents for people. I just don't like receiving them.

In the spirit of the holidays, try to do something nice for someone. Go out of your way a little bit to help someone out. Give a hand with the cooking or cleaning. Pitch in when there's something to do. Be a dear and think about other people first. Just simply try to be considerate of others. Sometimes it's hard to do and might involve doing things you usually wouldn't, but suck it up and do it without fussing. You can be a jerk the rest of the year if you want, just be nice today :-)

So Merry Christmas to you all out there. Let's hope your day goes wonderfully and that when it comes time to lay yourself down to sleep tonight, you can look back and know that it was a good day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stop Leaving

The hardest thing about leaving college was leaving almost everyone I had gotten to know and care about to go to where my job took me, which happened to be Rochester.  My friends, acquaintances, athletic teammates, and classmates had to go where they felt their lives took them as well, which for most was NOT Rochester.

Two years later I feel as isolated as ever.  Every month there’s this feeling that I’m falling further and further from the friends I’ve already made and the new friends I’m making I’m never quite as close to.  A good friend moves away one week.  Another gets engaged the next (virtually eliminating any remaining autonomy he/she had).  One then tells me he might be moving away.  Yet another gets a job offer from somewhere else and takes it.

As I lie in bed at night, in the cold of the basement of the house I live, more often than not my mind replay memories on the blank, white slate that is my ceiling.  The memories slowly fade from their HD DVD glory into grainy, used VHS territory, sometimes forever ruining something I thought would last forever.

Think back to a memory you love, one from many years ago. Now try to remember all of the details, every last one of them.  It’s too hard.  Day in and day out I’m creating more and more memories, but at the same time I’m sacrificing the quality and vibrancy of the old.  Without the familiarity of the people from the memories being close and fresh, I start to wonder if, at times, I make up some of my memories because I’ve forgotten what actually happened.

I want the people of my memories to be here with me again.  I don’t want them in Iowa or Virginia or California.  I don’t want them married off into a dungeon of exclusivity.  I don’t want them so caught up in their jobs that they can’t get away.  I want them to be next to me again, refreshing the memories of old, reliving the care free life of college classes, parties, and constant contact.  

The memories are good, but I know they’ll fade.  There’re only so many times you can watch a VHS tape before it wears out.  And with very few quality movies to take the place of the old, I’m afraid of ending up with a very boring movie library.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


...will probably be the death of me, or least a source of much unneeded weight gain and sugar intake. When I get really busy and stressed out I always turn to food, even when I'm not even remotely close to being hungry. Today has been one of those days.

With clients incessantly hounding me to get things done before they all take off for vacation, I've been under the gun to finish up a bunch of documents and this has led to my consuming of way too many Peanut Butter Hershey Kisses, M&M's, and mini Snickers... along with a bowl of Spaghetti-O's for lunch and a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats for a sorta healthy afternoon snack.

Yeah, with the holidays looming and work kicking me squarely in my ass (I had to end up working on one of my planned vacation days--maybe I'll tell the story later), I've been able to only focus on writing work documents and not fun, little personal blurbs like I would like to.

In lieu of my witty banter (or my poor imitation of it), check out Decoy Music's Top 20 feature that just went up this week. Go find some good music to listen to!

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Big Empty

Cowboys. Aliens. Blue suitcases and bowling balls. Strange things are happening out in the middle of nowhere. The tagline says it all really. This is not your average movie, and you won’t find anything like it at your local uber-cinema—maybe at an indy theater in a big city, but not really anywhere else. It might seem like it, but I wouldn’t exactly call this an anti-Hollywood picture, but it’s about as far as you can get from your big budget explode-o-rama’s, poop-piss-boob comedies, saccharine sweet melodramas, and horribly cheesy romantiflicks.

This unbelievably overlooked movie from 2003 can be picked up at just about any used dvd store, Hollywood video, or online for less than a 10-spot and it’s worth every penny. For being a movie that was made on a shoestring budget, it somehow stars a lot of current big names, such as Jon Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams, Sean Bean, and Kelsey Grammer. All of them turn in great performances, which is saying a lot, since three out of those four actors I can hardly stomach 90% of the time. Bean, on the other hand, is great in just about every movie he stars in, this being yet another.

So what the hell is The Big Empty about? Frankly, it’s hard to explain. At its core it’s about a down and out actor couriering a suitcase to the desert for an unreasonably large amount of cash so that he can pay off his credit card debt. From reading that, you’d think this movie would be more boring you’re your monotone college calculus professor. It’s not.

The reason it’s not is the myriad cast of characters. For example, the guy who hires John (Favreau) to courier the suitcase has been keeping tabs on John’s masturbatory patterns and his other varied uses for Vaseline. The man he’s supposed to deliver the case to isn’t just anybody either—he’s a pissed off cowboy trucker who is believed to be a serial killer in a neighboring state.

Not only are those two characters off the wall, so are all of the people that John encounters. There’s Randy, a guy who can’t let go of his ex-girlfriend so he continually kidnaps her and threatens to kill anyone that gets close to Ruthie (his ex). At one point John even has a stand-off with Randy, where John wields a gun with no bullets and Randy makes threats with a chainsaw, all the while with his ex tied up in the back of an open semi-trailer. Another interesting character is the dimwitted local who wears a hat with name on it (and doesn’t ever remember he does) and obsesses over how the government is building a bullet-train to shuttle people through the desert so they don’t find the aliens that are camping out there. These are only a small sampling of the zany cast! There are some people even more out of this world.

And speaking of aliens… it wouldn’t be that far fetched to think that John somehow ended up in an alien colony instead of a crazy, little town in the desert. Each scene is more surreal than the last and every new character a little more out there then the one before.

What makes the movie, as you may have been able to guess, are the characters and how different each of them are. The plot of the movie is interesting, but really this movie is a vehicle for the varied types of insanity put on display by the cast.

It’s almost Christmas time, so give yourself a cheap, little treat by picking up this criminally underappreciated movie. Don’t give any thought to the criticisms that some of the other critics out there have leveled against this movie. It really is a treat and well worth the $8 it’ll probably cost.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Two Different Kinds of Busy

This week, so far, has been phenomenally not awesome… mostly because of work. I don’t really want to say too much about it, but I can say that I’ve been stuck putting in longer than normal hours once again, as well as spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with people and issues that I think are just plain dumb.

Having said that, the weekend couldn’t get here soon enough. I want nothing more than to just forget about work for a few days and focus on doing other things, like hanging out with my family, being Santa for one of my friend’s Christmas parties, and going to visit Kristin in St. Cloud.

It’ll be a busy weekend (and couple of days after the weekend since I’m taking Tuesday and Wednesday off to visit Kristin), but busy in a good way. I would much rather be trying to adjust my schedule to do things I enjoy (like watching movies, going out to eat, playing video games, and reading) rather than things I don’t (like dealing with clients, rewriting documents, and playing the corporate games).

Unfortunately the weekend isn’t here yet and my work schedule isn’t really going to let up on me too soon, so my presence on the internet will remain somewhat muted.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Buying and Selling

It's getting close to that wonderful day of gift giving, that day where just about everyone in this undeniably materialistic country gives away and receives tons and tons of presents, that day where you get to hoard away all of your loot from your siblings a few scant hours after waking from a restless sleep wondering what you'd get... a day call Christmas.

I know that some of you might still be looking for stuff to get your friends, family, significant others, and other people you like to buy stuff for. Well, do I have a great idea for you! I would suggest you check out my auctions over on Yahoo Auctions.

I've switched over to using Yahoo because it's completely and totally free to list auctions which is way way way way way way way better then Ebay, who thinks it is their right to keep about half of your auction's value for themselves. Yahoo's auctions might not get the same exposure, but I'm willing to try out any competitor to Ebay.

Also, with it being close to Christmas, if anyone out there has the urge to buy me something, please puruse my wish list that I've set up on Amazon. And if you want to get at it in the future I put a link to it over on the right labeled "Buy Me Stuff". As much as I love giving gifts, it's fun to get them too.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Someone Else's Toothpaste

When I was in college, three and a half out of my four and a half years there was spent living with roommates.  My junior year, however, I had apartmentmates, but no roommates.  It was seriously pretty frickin’ rad having my own room and bathroom.  Basically it was like having a really really small apartment all to myself.

In this mini apartment, how I lived was completely up to me.  What I put in my room was up to me.  How often I cleaned was up to me.  Everything was decided by me.  I had my own personal domain and I loved it.

I put the books I wanted onto my bookshelf.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy never looked quite at like it did by my bed next to The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe.  My cd rack contained only what I wanted to listen to which was at the time, unfortunately, a lot of crap, such as early Limp Bizkit and Nickelback cds.  I know, I cringe thinking about it myself.

Everything was exactly how I wanted it and I figured it couldn’t get any better.  Then tonight as I was getting out of the shower it really hit me that I’m ready to move on from the solitary home life I have, a living arrangement where everything is decided by me.  It’s run its course and I’m ready to have someone else contributing to my living quarters.

I stood there in the shower drying off looking at my sink, with the myriad of things I have stacked around it—my toothbrush, hair gel, mouthwash, healing lotion, eye drops, and other assorted bathroom goods—and I had the most overwhelming urge to have something there that wasn’t mine.  I wanted someone else’s hand lotion to be there, or to have contact solution resting in the corner.  

I want to look into the shower and see not only my shampoo, but a bottle of conditioner that I’ll never use, but I’ll have to make room for.  I want to open up the fridge and see a bunch of vegetables that I think are gross sitting in front of my string cheese and Red Bull.  I want movies that I’d never even imagine buying interspersed on my dvd rack.

When I look at my nightstand-ish area of the railing in my room I keep imagining how nice it would be to have a jewelry holder next to where I set my wallet and palm pilot.  And under my bed… it wouldn’t just be spindles of cds full of random crap I burned but maybe a box or two of someone else’s stuff that is as equally ignored.

I don’t want everything to be just mine any more.  I desire signs of life other than mine to be present in my dwelling place.  Bring on someone else’s dirty laundry!  I can take it.  Heck, I want another person’s mess around.  Being surrounded by only my crap is starting to wear just a little thin.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lucid - Digging Through CD Review

In today’s musical arena, especially when it comes to popular music genres, it’s pretty much impossible to find a band that is actually doing something original. Instead every new band that comes around is broken down into the different influences they play to. The vocals sound like band X, the rhythm section sounds like band Y, the guitars sound like that guy from band Z, and so on.

You never hear the sound of a band described as if it had not existed prior to creation of band any more. The reason for this is the multitude of bands, like Lucid, that keep popping up more than zits on a teenager with a pepperoni pizza obsession. Lucid are competent musicians that can write decent songs, but they’re content to just play to their influences instead of trying to push the envelope. They want to play it safe or are simply comfortable playing what they know, I’m not quite sure, but doing that isn’t going to get them recognized unless they are very, very lucky or know the right people.

The songs on Digging Through are all listenable, but far from original. The vocals are a huge Tool rip-off. Sure, the guy can’t really help it that his voice sounds just like Maynard, but the way that he uses his voice is exactly like Maynard did in Tool’s early and middle of the road years. Now if you’re a Tool or A Perfect Circle slut, then this is obviously a good thing, but for everyone else, they’ll just think to themselves, “Jeez, another band aping Tool. When is this going to end?”

The music Tool-ish, just like the vocals, but not nearly as progressive. All of the songs are in the 3:30 to 4:30 time range, which leaves little time for self indulgent noodling, which is good, but it also leads to this cd feeling very bland. The entire band know how to make acceptable songs, but the simplicity that runs through some of the songs makes the entire effort feel underdeveloped, but then again these guys are dealing with the addition of new members to their band as well as trying to put together an independently released debut, so maybe give them the benefit of the doubt.

If the more esoteric Tool clones (and Tool themselves) are a little too much for you to swallow, Lucid might be able to work for you. Given some time to mature, some introspection, and some development time given to their songwriting process, Lucid could probably put out a disc that would fit in along with the big boys, but for right now Digging Through is stuck in the competent independent debut category.

Kick Ass Work Names

Karl: I think we'll have to have meetings
Rick: Agreed
Rick: Organized by Stanley Lubesalot
Karl: We'll have to conference in Lenny Analstar
Rick: But we'll make Frank Lee Doinnowork an optional attendee. I know how much he hates meetings
Karl: It is hard to get a hold of him
Rick: These are going to be great meetings

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

X-Men 3 Needs to Get Here Now

So I’m a little bit of a comic book nerd.  You can’t work in the software industry and not have at least one geeky trait.  Knowing that, and knowing that I love the X-Men (if you didn’t know that before, now you do), you should be able to deduce that I have been looking forward to the 26th of May in the year 2006 quite heavily.  The reason for this—X-Men 3.

Finally, after some leaked internet photos and lots of speculation of how the movie was going to pan out, we’re treated to an actual preview of the movie.  

My initial thoughts are that it looks ok, but not spectacular.  X-Men 2 was pretty phenomenally awesome and it is still the defining comic book movie in my mind.  This one looks like it may be attempting to be a little too ambitious as well as trying to be too epic.  Some parts of the preview make me wonder if the writing/directing team aren’t going to try to cash in on the “big battle” syndrome that’s been plaguing Hollywood ever since Braveheart.

It’s hard to pull off the big battle scenes and few movies have done it well.  The Lord of the Rings did it well.  Star Wars Episode III did it well (I know, I feel dirty saying anything positive about that movie too).  Troy did it well.  War of the Worlds did it well.  Gladiator did it well.

On the other hand, Chronicles of Naria looks like they won’t do it right.  Pearl Harbor did it bad.  The Matrix Revolutions did it not so great.  The Last Samurai didn’t do it very well.  Star Wars Episode II did it quite crappily.  Windtalkers did it atrociously.  The Patriot did it very averagely.  Kingdom of Heaven did it semi-decent.

And X3 looks like it might fall more into the second category as opposed to the first.  I’ll remain optimistic, but I’ll temper my expectations for the action scenes.

As for the new characters, Beast looks passable but Angel looks kind of cheesy.  Of course, it’ll be easier to do Beast well as opposed to Angel, but I’d rather they have left both of them out of the upcoming movie.  There’s already two characters covered in blue make-up (Nightcrawler and Mystique), do we really need a third?

I’m still looking forward to it like you wouldn’t believe, but I’ll also be trying to keep my high hopes in check.

Thoughts About Planes

Planes aren’t so bad really… when they’re taxiing on the runway.  When they’re in the air, they are a very scary place for this simple midwestern boy.  
Oddly the two parts of flying that most people don’t like—the takeoff and landing—were the two parts of the trip that were the least stressful, relatively speaking.  Sure, there was a lot of stress crammed into those few minutes of each, but the stretching anxiety that was present the entire time the plane was in the air was almost worse… no, it actually was worse.

I’ve never liked heights.  I like having my feet firmly planted on something that isn’t going to suddenly disappear from underneath them or plummet thousands of feet to my most certain death or dismemberment.  When I was younger the ferris wheel used to creep me out more than zombies, the boogey man, and having to shower after gym class all combined together.

Being so high in the air was an amazing experience for most, but for me all I could think about was how many of my bones would be shattered when my pudgy body hit the ground after the seat I was in fell from the apex of the ferris wheel’s motion.  Usually I guessed 14… maybe more if I landed on my stomach (that would crack a lot of ribs).

With flying it’s supposed to be different.  It’s the safest form of travel according to most studies (although I think they forgot to look at walking as a viable travel method because I know that is way safer).  Throw all the statistics at me you want that shows how many less accidents there are with flight in comparison to driving and I’ll throw the one stat back at you that really scares me—the percentage of deaths in a plane accident in comparison to a car crash.

It’s almost a given that at some point you’ll get into a fender bender. No biggie.  It’s also a given that you probably won’t be in a plane crash.  Cool.  What sucks, though, is that if you do get into a plane crash you’re basically corpsified.  There are very few injuries in plane crashes—it’s usually just massive amounts of death, dying, painful death, and death by fireball or explosion.  Get into a car crash and you might break a bone or something at most a lot of the time.

So anyways, I didn’t like flying for two reasons: if the plane were to crash, my funeral would be a lot sooner than the May 12th, 2084 date I had planned and I hate heights.

Well, those two along with not knowing if the pilot was totally sauced while he was flying or not.  

Saturday, December 03, 2005


I made it back ok, even after a couple of flight delays for de-icing and such. It wasn't all that utterly terrible, but it would not be my preferred method of travel. I don't like being so far from the ground. Ok, time to decompress and just enjoy the weekend. More thoughts on planes to come later... hopefully.