Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pictures of Letters

R 022ICK

Flickr has turned out to be quite the fun picture tool. I use Slickr as my screensaver on my PC at home. I use Flickr to host any new pictures I take (like those of Pooh below). What's awesome about the service is that there is so much to do with the different RSS feeds and picture tags.

I made the above picture by using a cool "spell with flickr" webpage. It's a neat concept and there's tons of pictures of various letters, but it leads me to wondering one thought--who the hell takes pictures of letters? Do people actually enjoy walking around, seeing letters, and then taking pictures of them? I don't get it, but it's those people that make some of these Flickr apps work and give people like me plenty of variety of pictures to see.



In the wake of my uncle John's passing, he has left behind one family member that will be living with my parents--Pooh, the cat. John had a real affection for cats, much like myself and my mother. Since there would no longer be anyone to watch her or care for her, John wanted us to have to and to take care of her.

And I must say, I think she's going to like it with my parents. So far she seems to be exploring every nook and cranny of the house. She's trying to get along with the other cats, but they aren't the most welcoming of animals, but it's really nothing more than an initiation since every new house animal we've ever had has been initially shunned by the pets that already resided there.

Being at home this weekend and playing with the animals makes me anxious to eventually have my own place where I can finally bring my cat, Stitch, with me to live instead of him remaining at home with my parents. Maybe if I'm lucky I can convince my family to let me take one of the other cats to keep Stitch company as well! It's worth trying.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Switched - Ghosts in the Machine CD Review

Nu-metal, today, seems like such an old genre, even though its genesis was only about 15 or so years ago. It’s reached the point in its life cycle at which it has had its heyday, fallen out of favor with the masses, and now even has a, dare I say it, post-nu-metal genre that is slowly finding its way into circulation. But let’s forget all this talk about the ebbing and flowing of one of the metal family’s black sheep for now and think back to when it was all the rage.

Remember when Korn was cool? Or when you couldn’t go a day without hearing Drowning Pool, Static-X, Rob Zombie, or Mudvayne on MTV, rock radio, or your newly growing MP3 collection? Or when you weren’t a heavy band unless you were playing guitars that were drop-tuned at least one step or thumping on a five string bass? Yeah, those were the days, weren’t they? Ok, so maybe they weren’t all that great, but they certainly did happen.

It’s those days of nu-metal yore from which the newest offering by Switched, Ghosts in the Machine, sounds like it belongs in. In a time when rarely a nu-metal band remains standing, and those that are still around have either adopted a metalcore edge or experimented themselves to death, Switched confidently offers up a disc of finished demos, b-sides, and rarities—all of which are overloaded with chunky, detuned riffs, friendly screams over melodic vocals, and the standard verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus x2 formula that you haven’t probably heard since high school.

Oddly, as hard as it is to fathom, it’s almost a breath of fresh air to have a cd like this come across my review desk, but as fresh as that air may be at first, it manages to get really stale really fast. There’s a reason that this style of music isn’t all that popular any more—the utter simplicity of it. The songs all feel so similar and sound so much like a mish mash of other nu-metal bands that have come before that you wish for any type of identity to surface… but it never does. In fact, on about half of the songs, it’s really hard not to think these guys are actually Skrape in disguise.

Subject to Change, Switched’s debut album, was somewhat average (not too bad) for its era. It never caught on, though, because it didn’t differentiate itself from the pack enough. Neither did their EP, Spread Your EP. This cd, no doubt put together for Switched fans and people still clinging to the nu-metal genre, when listened to is like glimpsing a piece of history. It’s akin to opening a musical time capsule that shows us what music used to be like back in the day so we can make comparisons and see how far we’ve come.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a bad release, but it’s definitely one that will have a quite narrow market to be distributed within. Nu-metal does have its fans still, as hard as it is to believe, and for a classically styled nu-metal release this isn’t terrible, but anyone who has been even moderately savvy when it comes to buying and listening to music during the last few years will find themselves downright disappointed.


The WeatherPixie

Maybe it's because it's a Monday morning or maybe it's because I'm unbelievably easily amused at times, but Weatherpixie, a site that gives you your weather via little avatar-esque people, sure is a hoot. I thought about adding a pixie to the sidebar here, but then I realized I already have way too much crap. I could really use a three column layout with random crap on the left and the right and then my content in the middle.

Too bad I'm too lazy right now to redesign.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Goodbye John

Well, unfortunately this is the first time I've ever had to take down a post because someone asked me to. I'm doing it so that what I had already said doesn't cause problems for some of the people I know and am close to.

But the gist of what I was saying was that all of the relatives on my mom's side of the family (outside of my grandma) are complete and utter douchebags. Filthy, horrible, uncaring, greedy, self-righteous, back-stabbing douchebags. So, if you need to know anything, just know that.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Organization Woes

Being in Minnesota during the winter and not being a skiier, snowboarder, or lover of being out in the cold for no good reason I often am confronted with hours of free time (and by free time, I mean time that I could be using for productive things but choose to be lazy instead) to waste away indoors.

Since Rochester doesn't offer a ton of stuff to do in indoor environments, I find myself putting my big screen tv to a lot of use, and also my computer monitor when I feel like being a troll and locking myself up in my room for an evening. Since I hate dealing with commercials and don't find much of what's on television worth watching, I watch a lot of movies and tv series that I buy on DVD. That way I don't have to deal with commercials and I can watch them whenever the heck I want to.

Now most normal, semi-sane people would simply put all of their DVDs on a rack or shelf and be done with it. I, however, am far from normal and semi-sane. In fact, you could easily think of me as both moderately insane and OCD over how I organize my DVD collection. I often wonder if I am, kidding aside, a little OCD over how I organize some things (such as DVDs, video games, comics, books, and more).

I noticed my OCD popping up very strongly this evening while I was watching Intolerable Cruelty. Recently I had purchased a new DVD rack to go with the two I already have since I was running out of space to store my ever expanding and already too huge to handle collection of DVDs.

As I was watching the movie my gaze kept wandering between my media racks wondering what would be the absolute best way to categorize my movies. I'd honestly lose track of the movie at times, lost in thought about hair-brained organizational schemes that would properly capture my unique and odd classifications.

After the movie was over I spent about 20 minutes totally reorganizing all of my DVDs. On my large rack I now have the top two rows dedicated to cds--the top row is for spoken word discs, my Tori Amos discography, and CDs I am probably going to sell soon and the second row is for all of my rock and metal cds. The bottom three rows are for DVDs.

The middle row and half of the fourth row house all of my movies that I have not yet watched. I know, I know, I shouldn't keep buying movies if I never get around to buying them but freakin' Hollywood always has to have 4 for $20 sales all the time. Anyways, the other half of the fourth row and half of the bottom house all of the DVD box sets I have not watched. I blame Amazon.com and Christmas for these. The last half row of shelf space is dedicated to my Lord of the Rings and Star Trek movie collections. Yes, I am a dork, geek, and nerd all wrapped into one. But I do have friends... that aren't imaginary... honest.

Fine, don't believe me. Jerks.

On my other shelves I have organized all of the DVD box sets and movies that I have already watched, keeping related titles next to each other. Once I had finally finished, it was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, albeit a light weight, but a weight nonetheless.

Seriously, now that I think about it, I probably spend just as much time organizing my various material possesions as I do actually enjoying them. Sad. I'm now feeling guilty about owning all of these things and not utilizing them enough. Dammit, now I'm going to have to stay up all night watching movies!

Red Light!

On my drive to work I have to traverse 7 stoplights and 2 four way stop signs. It's only a little over 4 miles between where I live and where I work, but as you can guess, there is a lot of potential for stopages. And many days, there is plenty of it. Like this morning.

After getting woken up nice and early by barking dogs, I zombie-ishly went through my morning routine and headed off to work. As luck would have it, the stop lights that rested between me and my workplace took it upon themselves to make my life one of constant speeding up, slowing down, and stopping.

Out of the 7 stoplights I traverse, 5 of them I go straight through, 1 I turn left at, and 1 I turn right at. So essentially I have 6 that need to be green before I can go through them. This morning out of the 7 lights, I hit 5 of them when they were red. One of the two that was green was the light that I had to turn right at so it was basically a moot point.

Combine the 5 red lights with the two 4-way stops and had a total of 7 stops on my 4 mile trek to work. Ri-freakin-diculous. In this modern age of cell phones that are the size of graham crackers, freakish cloning experiments, and the Robosapien why can't they better program stop light patterns to not make people like me want to get out of my car during the 5th red light and pummel myself to death with the snow shovel from my trunk?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Copy This

If you would have asked me a year or two ago which was more evil and stupid--the RIAA or the MPAA--I probably would have told you, without a second's hesitation the RIAA. Since then, however, the MPAA has been doing its fair share of stupid crap, seemingly in a race to catch up to the level of idiocy that the RIAA has set the bar for.

Adding to their many dumb manouvers (such as their lame ass "don't pirate stuff" ads before movies and on DVDs), is their unauthorized copying of Kirby Dick's This Film is Not Yet Rated, a documentary on the double standards of the industry.

Since it's been confirmed, it has been interesting to see the reasons the MPAA gives for copying the movie, namely their excuse that they copied it without permission "because it had implications for [their] employees." That's a very interesting justification, as well as one that is very open ended.

I can imagine many scenarios where I would need to copy a movie because it had implications for a person or group of persons that was related to me. Let's say I rented Pulp Fiction, saw all of the drug use in it, and felt it had implications on some of my co-workers who were recovering addicts. Seeing this movie may cause unintended behavior in them if they saw it so I needed to make a copy of the movie in case any of my co-workers were thinking of watching it so I could properly enumerate the potentially offensive things they'd see.

That's not too much of a stretch, is it? The copies of This Film is Not Yet Rated were made to show people that they thought might be affected by the content of the film. I'm sure that with even more careful analysis of whatever cock & bull stories that the MPAA come up with to justify their actions combined with a little more in depth situational analysis (as opposed to the 37 seconds I used to come up with the above paragraph) you could justify almost any movie copying.

Sucks to be caught doing what you're telling everyone else not to. It's like seeing your teachers shooting spit balls in study hall. Once they do it, why the hell shouldn't you be able to? Because they said so, my ass... I don't give credit to anything a blatantly open hypocrite has to say. Sorry, it just doesn't make any logical sense.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stoned Photos

Stoned people are usually a ton of fun to hang out with, at least for a little while. Sometimes the conversations to be had are otherworldly. I don't know how many conversations I had with stoned dorm dwellers back in the college days, but I do vividly remember loving most all of them.

What would be amazing to see would be checking out what happened if, say, a norse God... maybe Thor were to get totally stoned out of his gourd. What's that? We can see Thor stoned? And it's right here? That's totally awesome.

So who would have thought that Thor would ride a giant chicken while ripped? Definitely not this guy.


There are some things in this world that, for whatever reason, make you want to drop-kick a baby into a burning building, eat a living kitten, and impale yourself with a steak knife. I had never seen such a thing... until today. Watching Kevin Federline rock out to his own single is something to behold.

It is amazing for so many reasons. First, "PopoZao" is easily one of the worst songs created by man--ever. It is worse than a tag-team songwriting effort by the combined forces of the Spice Girls, Cyndi Lauper, Don Johnson, and Winger. Your ears will bleed upon hearing it.

Second, it just doesn't feel right to see K-Fed rocking out along to his own single. Does he not realize the utter atrocity he has unleashed upon humanity. I can see it now. Hundreds of high school kids, all just on the cusp of being accepted into the popular crowd, will attempt to reach that elusive next level of "coolness" by listening to the hot, new single of the week. Unluckily, and also maybe because these kids have taste, said kids don't have a very robust knowledge of what consitutes "listenable" when it comes to music.

Because of this deficiency they will unwittingly buy K-Fed's cd, which will lead to them eventually playing it while in the presence of bonafide cool kids... and we all know what happens from this point on. That's right, they'll never be cool, won't get asked to the prom (or get turned down by every girl they ask except for their class' Kathy lookalike), will end up going to community college, getting a crappy degree, crappy wife, live in a trailer, and hate their life.

So as you can see, K-Fed is about to ruin the lives of countless youths. That bastard.

Enlow - The Recovery CD Review

Wow, this is interesting. Dead Poetic sound a lot different when they don’t worry as much about melody and turn down their production values. Wait, what’s that? You mean this isn’t Dead Poetic? Oh, my bad. I kind of figured it was From First to Last with a much crappier drummer anyways. They’re focusing a lot more now on making all parts of their songs crappy I see. Huh? Seriously? This isn’t From First to Last? Oh, well who’d have thought that Beloved’s reunion disc would be as simplistic as this junk. Did they even think they could come close to matching Failure On? Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding me. This isn’t Beloved? It’s Enlow? Who the hell is that? Oh yeah, they were that metalcore band that broke up like a year ago? I remember now. Ok, yeah, I understand. Hiatus, gotcha…

And with Enlow’s return, you get a release that is basically nine songs that sound like a cover band ripping off all of the mediocre parts of Underoath, A Static Lullaby, Saosin, Silverstein, and the likes (and trust me, there are a lot of mediocre parts to grab from those bands). It would be tempting to put this cd into the “listenable” category instead of the “put in the microwave to see the neato blue sparks come out of it when you turn the microwave on” category, but what holds it back is the production values. Gloss this cd up and you can easily get the Underoath and Alexisonfire fans to take it in and give it at least a few spins before they stick it on their shelves full of trendy discs they’ll never listen to again, but since this cd sounds murky and lacks the spit-shine needed for bands in this genre, you can’t cover up the lack of talent with the glimmering sheen of post-production that many bands do.

Is there anything that could possibly pull this release out of the dregs of sucktitude it is stuck in? Sadly, not really. I’m sure Enlow can try to play the old school cred card, but that’s kind of a stretch considering they’ve only released one previous cd and that was less than three years ago. They could pull the “we toured with all these awesome bands” maneuver, but they were only touring with those awesome bands back when they didn’t sound like a neutered metalcore band with lousy screams. No, in the end, no matter what they do, this cd will not be successful because, hopefully, fans of this genre will see how utterly bland and cliché every song is. Then again, these are the same fans that buy Hawthorne Heights discs by the hundred thousand, so it might be a gross overestimation of how intelligent the fans of Enlow’s genre are to think they can recognize how lacking this cd is.

Making a crappy nu-screamo album can’t be any band’s goal, and surely it was never Enlow’s goal with The Recovery, but that’s exactly what you have with this release. There are so few good moments to be heard that you have to feel at least a little sorry for the band, especially after having previously released a listenable effort in 2003. It’s hard to have your album universally trashed, but good can come out of it—they can take everything that’s been said and in a year or so come back to the table and try again, hopefully with better results. Or not, I guess. It really doesn’t matter too much because either way this release sucks.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ryan vs. Nick, Round Eleventeen

Some days I have a hard time making it all the way through work. My co-workers conspire to make more work for me. Clients pile questions on me (and so do co-workers). I can't stand looking at the document I've been creating for the last few hours. I want so badly for the day to be over so I can go play video games or watch a movie. It all just builds up and makes you want to burst on some days.

But thankfully, some days you have have Ryan ripping Nick Coleman a new one to keep you afloat with joy for the rest of the day. There sure isn't anything better than a good ol' Coleman fisking!

Monster Overdose

Caffeine fascinates me. Mostly because it's the only drug I've ever been addicted to in my life. The rumors of my being a crack fiend are totally bogus... seriously. Researching about caffeine, about caffeine addiction, about caffeine withdrawl, and every associated with it has been a small past time that I would endulge in when bored at work and I still wanted to make it look like I was doing something work related as opposed to some of our interns who did nothing but play flash games and goof around with google earth.

The other day, I ran across this FAQ for caffeine as linked to from Digg. I knew most of the information before reading, but there were a few things I didn't know, like the fact that 10 grams is the LD_50 dosage. I also didn't know that caffeine is regulated in the United States for beverages. No beverage can contain more than 6 mg of caffeine per ounce. Those two facts, combined with the knowledge that your average second generation energy drink comes in 16 oz cans, I was able to come up with a neat little fact all my own.

Let's assume that your average modern energy drink contains the maximum 6 mg of caffeine per ounce of liquid. So in a 16 ounce Monster or MDX or Rock Star or whatever there would be 96 mg of caffeine. That's a pretty decent amount of caffeine. And think of the buzz you would get from drinking a few Monsters in sitting! You'd be so wired! Your heart must be close to exploding, right?

Well, not really. When you calculate out how many Monsters you would have to drink to reach a lethal dosage of caffeine, you would need to take down 104 cans. I'm pretty sure if you drank 104 cans of Monster you'd die of many, many other causes before caffeine overdose.

So next time you start wondering if you should drink that fifth Red Bull while writing a paper during an all-nighter or when you're putting in that marathon weekend session of World of Warcraft, just remember you'd have to drink almost 100 more to kill you so just go for it! The jitters will pass eventually.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's Slowly Killing Me

Almost every day I come to work, I wish that I was a point in my life where I had a job that would let me work from a home office. Not to say my cubicle sucks ass, because it only sucks ass some of the time, but being able to be in an environment that I totally and completely control would be so much more conducive to my work well being... and my ability to play Xbox when I don't actually have any work to do instead of pretending that I do, wasting time plodding around the internet, and feeling like my soul is slowly slipping away.

I am very hopeful that someday in the future, hopefully by the time I have kids, I will be in a position to work from home at least part of the time. It would be such a help to be able to stay at home with the little demon spawns... err, kids when I finally get around to breeding.

More than a few ideas have come to mind when I think of what my home office would look like. None of them quite as elaborate as what some dude on Flickr has created, but I'd try to make it at least as badass, if not a little more entertainment oriented. The main thing that would be totally different than most home offices is that I would like to have mine as an extension of the living room. In fact, I'd want it to be in a corner of the living room. This way I don't feel like I'm cramped into some home office that is basically a cubicle that has been transported into my home--I'd still feel trapped.

All of my work files, computer, computer equipment, phone, and everything else work would be on one half of my computer desk, stronly separated from the other side of my desk. This half would be for my fun projects. First and foremost I would have a media server set up for streaming music throughout the house and recorded media to my big screen television (in case I'm on call with a client or coworker and things get boring--hit mute and pull up an episode of Harvey Birdman).

I would make sure that the big screen television in the room was visible from my desk, or at least able to be swiveled over to be viewable. That's actually a much better idea so that way I can leave it in the normal living room configuration except for during work hours when it can swing over to pointing at my desk.

On the walls around my desk would be pictures of my family, poster of superheroes, shelves housing all kinds of random crap like what I have in my cube right now (ie: bobble heads, an Ozzie Ossbourne figurine, a Legolas statue, a strobe light skull, some glowy light, chinese meditation balls, and other odds and ends). With work sucking my soul away from me, I at least don't want it to feel like it's being sucked out.

Yeah... so that's my goal for a home office. Now I just have to find a place of my own first... and find a job with a company that actually cares about its workers...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You Can't Type With a Clenched Fist

There have been many a day when, while sitting in my overly cluttered cubicle, I wonder why it is I let 40 or so hours of my week slip away sitting in front of a computer working. Often times I am overcome with a sense of despair, hopelessness, and an overwhelming fear that the next forty-ish years of my life will slip away in a blur of mediocrity before I realize it. Usually, I can't find the words to properly express this, and I still don't have anything good, but thankfully Larry does.

The only thing that isn't really expressed in Larry's piece that I often feel is the anger towards the corporate environment. Maybe it's just where I've worked so far, but it seems like once you enter in to an office setting, logic is slowly sucked from your system the higher you are promoted (on the management track, that is).

Currently I'm being confronted with a totally ludicrous management decision that has been made that will have repurcussions throughout the entire company. In fact, I believe it may be a blow that could potentially destroy the company's most profitable software application. I just don't get it. I might not be a high level executive that has fistfulls of cash to throw around on a whim, which might change my decision making style, but from my point of view, the worker's point of view some management decisions are just utterly, ricockulously dumb.

And that's what gets me so angry. Over and over and over I see dumb decisions being made that I honestly think I could handle the situation so much better but since I don't have actual real world experience (instead I have common sense) I can't get into those positions yet. I have to play the corporate game to get there, assuming I last at it long enough.

I hate the way things operate. I hate the politics and constant dancing around issues. I hate moronic policies that are there just so HR has something to monitor. I sometimes hate the entire environment. Thank goodness I really like the people I work with. They're my only saving grace, really. That and my work is challenging at times, which helps to pass the day. Now only if I could find a productive way to channel my anger as opposed to the usual massive outbursts of vehement complaining...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Blood on the Tracks - Self Titled EP CD Review

Is there still a market for generic, whiny emo? Seriously, is there? Do record labels and/or bands ever ask themselves this question? Obviously some labels and bands don’t because bands like Blood on the Tracks keep ending up in my cd review pile. Would it be so much to ask of bands to put together releases that actually make me want to listen to them instead of feeling like I have to suffer through each boring track?

When you boil them down, Blood on the Tracks can pretty much be described as Just Surrender (or any other rip-off emo-ish band) without the screaming, with more whining nasally vocals, without the energy, and with a slight garage rock influence. In the span of the six songs on this EP, there isn’t a lot that will actually illicit too much of a response from you, other than the reflexive action to hit the next button or, if the next button is out of reach, to simply sit back and nod off for a quick 20 minute nap.

…ok, so one song might be decent. “Love is Dead” is a jangly brit-rock inspired number that has the potential to get your feet tapping… but then, just as you raise your heel preparing to drop it in a catalytic maneuver, setting off the tapping sensation, the hand-claps of the song hit. Sadly, your foot returns to the ground without coming back up for a second tap, the catalyst no longer strong enough to start the reaction. An audible sigh can be heard emanating from your heel, as it was so anticipating a good tapping but alas, there were hand-claps.

And that analogy sums up this EP so well. You want it to be good. You hope that it’ll be interesting. You want to tap along, but once you actually dive into it you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the mediocrity of it all. With a bit of melancholy you move on knowing that you’ll never return to this cd again, which isn’t all that bad when you think about it. There are way too many good CDs out there to listen to that you shouldn’t worry about skipping over the lackluster ones, such as this EP.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Write Me a Novel

I'm almost through reading Gene Wilder's autobiography and one thing has really stuck with me.  It’s not necessarily what I would think should stick with me from reading about his life and odd search for love, but it’s this: when the hell did he get enough time to write screenplays?

Sure, he was an actor so he might not have put in the 40-50 work weeks that the everyday stiff like myself does, but still, when would he have enough time to write screenplays?  In looking at my life, I want nothing more than to have enough time to write a graphic novel script, a novella, or even a full fledged novel, but when it comes time to actually do it, I just can’t.

It’s not that I don’t have the drive or want to do it, because for the most part I do.  Although recent developments at my job are going to make it very hard to have any time to dedicate to outside activities that don’t involve searching for a new job, studying to get into grad school, or looking at the idea of moving to Iowa.  Even before things hit the fan at work, I often found I couldn’t find enough time to focus on a writing project.

I had a script that I finished a while back for a comic book and even had an artist working on it for a bit, but she just lost contact with me after a few months so it never got finished.  I didn’t try to find anyone else to work on it because, frankly, looking back on it I don’t like the story as much as I thought I did.  It was an interesting concept, but being the natural critic I am, I picked apart my own story and ended up hating it.

The ideas haven’t stopped running through my head and new stories are not something I have a hard time conceptualizing, but when I get home at night, my best hours of the day are behind me.  I worked, I worked out, I did household chores, and I already did many other things that leave my mind less than sharp.  When I try writing in that state, well, it just doesn’t work out so well.

So I ask again, when will I ever have the time to simply sit and write?  I want nothing more than to have something published by the time I’m 30, and I feel like I might not be able to do that.  I admire Gene, as well as any other authors/scriptwriters that have full time jobs on top of what they do, because I just can’t dig deep enough to do what they’ve done.  As much as I want to, I can’t find it in myself to do it right now and that thought, as truthful as it is, saddens me to no end.  When did I let the real world get in the way of what I want in life?

Sucker for a Sale

If you look at my DVD collection, specifically my "to watch" pile, which consists of probably 25 movies and about 7-8 box sets, you wouldn't think I'd have a shortage of things to watch. Glancing over my video game collection you'll see a chunk of games on my shelf grouped together that I would tell you I haven't even touched yet. And my cd collection! I get tons of promos working for Decoy Music and I've bought plenty in my day so I really shouldn't have a need for any more music. So what do I do while I'm in St. Cloud visiting Kristin? I shop.

And I buy. I couldn't resist the temptation of a good sale. This is one trait that I've inherited from my mother--the inability to turn down a good sale, even if you don't need what you're buying. For me, over the weekend, this meant buying DVDs, CDs, and a video game.

Media Play, the store I bought the Spider-Man DVD set from and talked about previously, had discounted their remaining merchandise even further because of their impending closing. Everything was now 50-70% off, which means it was actually into sale range.

As Kristin and I waltzed through the store looking at what was there, I ended up finding a few things to buy. First, I picked up the Mirage of Blaze box set for Kristin and I to watch once we finish up the fourth season of Smallville box set. At $15 I couldn't say no. I also couldn't say no to the Pump It Up dance game for Xbox. Sure, it's a wannabe Dance Dance Revolution, but since my brother and mother now had DDR at home, I craved a dance game and for only $18 I wasn't going to pass it up. By the way, Pump It Up is way frickin' harder than DDR, especially if you're used to DDR steps. I look like an absolute novice while playing Pump It Up, which is somewhat humbling considering I was no slouch at DDR.

I also picked up a few cds I wanted from Nora and Scarlett. And then I went back again a day later... and bought the Ultimate Spider-Man game for Kristin, the first season of Murder One, and the Patlabor tv series. I just couldn't resist.

So right now I have probably a few weeks worth of DVDs to watch, and I'd probably only get through them if I watched them all back to back without any down time for those few weeks. As much as I wished I could resist my temptations, I have the willpower of a five year old with a bucket of cookies sitting in front of him. Good thing I have so much free time...

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I have just seen the trailer for Ultraviolet, a new movie coming out "soon" that looks like it's going to be what Aeon Flux should have been with a healthy dose of Equilibrium's gun-kata martial arts and, unfortunatly, the Matrix's visual style. Any way you look at it, though, this movie is probably going to have a ton of mindless action and violence, which is enough to get me to go see it. If there's a plot to go with the story, well, then that's a bonus!.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Romper Stomper

Russell Crowe, love him or hate him, when he’s on screen, is usually quite the performer. Browsing his filmography—Cinderella Man, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind—you’ll find mostly all fine movies where Crowe was able to craft his character into a person you could root for, fall in love with, or simply appreciate as an interesting human being. Before he was garnering accolades left and right (and being overly belligerent towards anyone who looked at him funny), there was his first breakout film—Romper Stomper.

In nearly every one of Crowe’s recent and well known movies, he’s played the hero or a character with at least a few redeeming character traits. Not so in Romper Stomper. Crowe plays the leader of a skinhead gang in Germany, a gang that doesn’t shy away from wanton, unprovoked violence, blaring crust punk, binge drinking every day of the week, woman beating, sloppy sex, and racially motivated beatdowns.

Violence is a very central part of this story, with one extended gang fight lasting more than 20 minutes in length. There are also multiple scenes of racial torturing, as well as a relatively unbloody, until the final few minutes that is, but undeniably intense final scene. Those with a weak stomach and those who have a hard time watching hardcore racism put into practice should, no doubt, keep far away from this movie, but for those who want to see what the dark underbelly of the German skinhead lifestyle is all about, Romper Stomper will show it to you in its full, brutal glory,

While watching this film play out, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to look at it in the light of being a quasi-documentary. Every scene, every character, and every squeamish moment is coated in a film of grit and grime that sets this film apart from your standard slick Hollywood production. Some may say that this was nothing more than a byproduct of the picture’s budget (and if so, it was a great byproduct), but from the way that the film played out, it would be hard to say that it wasn’t intentional.

Further adding to the reality, and potentially to the grit and violence associated with the movie, was a small tidbit of information that can be found on IMDB about this movie’s supporting star, Daniel Pollock:
After being romantically involved with Romper Stomper (1992) co-star 'Jaquline McKenzie', Pollock (a heroin addict) threw himself under a train after filming was finished.
Not to give away too much of the romantic subplot in the film or to make light of Pollock’s suicide, but one of the themes throughout the story was Daniel’s character’s love for Jaquline’s character, a love portrayed ever so wonderfully, now more than likely because he really became the role he was cast into. Oddly, this small fact adds a lot to the movie—knowing that while you are watching a film about a budding romance within the confines of the skinhead lifestyle, one of the actor’s was as close to living it out as he possibly could be.

Much like American History X, this is a film that is hard to watch, but by doing so you will be granted an insight on a lifestyle that has been both destructive and educational. Seeing the consequences that come from leading lives of sheer reckless abandon and watching them self destruct because of it is a thing of grotesque beauty, and also, to a small degree, a validation to yourself for progressing out of the pits of unadulterated racism and violence.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It All Started with a Pair of Sneakers

You know those days when you wonder, sometimes out loud to no one in particular, if God is really out to get you? Those days when you feel like you're His chosen pest to be smited for the day? Those days where you'd rather be buried in a pile of monkey feces than stuck in the situation you're in? On second thought, if your days are ever so bad you'd rather be covered in monkey poo, something is a little too wrong.

Once work ended yesterday, the frustrations began. I forgot my running shoes so I couldn't go to the gym (it's really hard to get a good run in wearing dress boots). Seeing as I wasn't going to be exercising, I thought I'd run over to Best Buy to make use of one of the preferred customer coupons I had. 10% off of any movie, video game, or cd. I don't really like buying things at Best Buy if I don't have to, but I thought I'd take the plunge, make use of a coupon, and pick up the Aeon Flux DVD set for Kristin and I to watch.

I scoured the DVD racks looking for it only to come up empty. Sure, they had plenty of copies of Monk, Friends, and the A-Team, but no Aeon Flux. Even in the anime section, which I thought some idiot might have put it into, was lacking the bright white casing of the Aeon Flux set. There was plenty of anime about robots and little girls in skirts, but that wasn't what I was there for.

Now, as I was looking not a single employee came up to me asking if I needed help. It never fails that when you actually need help, they're going to avoid you like you're walking around nibbling on the corpse of a dead baby. After the longest time, I managed to snag a worker and asked him if they had the DVD I was looking for. Apparently they had two copies.

We both looked through the DVD section which I told him I'd already looked in while he was no where to be found. He then said that since they just got shipments in that afternoon it might be in the big crate of DVDs to be organized in the back. He said he could look for it, but that it might take him forever to find. I really didn't want to wait so I asked if he could just fill out a rain check so I could pay for it now and pick it up when they finally got their crap sorted out.

That poor guy. He tried and tried to get a rain check printed out for me, but since it was for a product not in the weekly ad or on special the system wouldn't print a rain check. It just kept flashing the same error message at him, like it was consciously telling us to piss off.

Fed up, grouchy, and unhappy that one of the few times I actually WANT to spend money at Best Buy, they somehow find a way to make it so that I can't. And they wonder why they are so universally reviled by savvy consumers.

Wanting to do something productive, I headed to the post office to mail some packages out. Upon approaching the post office, the traffic was backed up down the road. Great. There must have been an accident. Except there wasn't. There were just that many people trying to get into the post office that traffic was blocked. Lord knows how long you'd have to wait to mail a package once you got in knowing it would take probably 15 minutes just to park somewhere.

I gave up. Couldn't go to the gym. Couldn't buy a DVD. Couldn't mail my packages. Couldn't do anything. That big pile of monkey dookie was starting to seem pretty damn appealing. And then a train happened.

That's right, I couldn't even drive home without somehow getting screwed around with. What're the odds that there'd be a train crossing the frontage road by highway 14? I'm assuming small, so small that this had to be a purposeful act of God to see if He could somehow drive me to acting out my deepest, darkest Carmaggeddon fantasies, but I resisted. Somehow the blaring of As I Lay Dying kept me from cutting more than few innocent people's lives short.

As I got home, I headed straight down to my room, wanting nothing more than for this whole fiasco of getting home to be over. I needed a break to lay down, catch my breath, and stop imagining how awesome it would be to carpet bomb Best Buy's corporate headquarters. But even my peaceful time at home was ruined. It was freezing in the basement and the dog had decided to eat on my slippers while I was at work yet again.

In conclusion, Best Buy + the post office = the anti-Christ. Don't question my logic. This is an a priori truth. The end.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sleeping in a Hoodie

I’m one of those people who usually likes it cool when I’m sleeping. When summer rolls around, I definitely need it pretty frigid to get solid sleep. If it’s not at least comfortable enough for me to lay on top of the covers in my boxers and not get warm, I just can’t sleep—period.

During the winter time, I still like it comfortable, but not freezingly cold like I do in the summer. Sleeping under the covers and snuggling up is fun… but not when you have to wear a hoodie, pants, and slippers just to be able to be warm enough to sleep.

I’ve just been dealing with it and dressing up really warm before I go to bed, but my parents, in their unbelievable awesomeness, decided that I shouldn’t have to wear winter garb just to be able to sleep so they bought me a heated mattress pad!

As soon as I got home from being out and about in town doing the usual—shopping, reading at coffee shops, working out, and generally trying my hardest not to be too bored—I took the pad out of its box and put it on my bed.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a heated mattress pad to help you deal with a cool, damp 60.5 degree room. Instead of having to put on more layers of clothes than an Antarctic exploratory team, I could comfortably sleep in just my flannel pants like I’m used to.

Take it from me, a heated mattress pad is probably something that every Minnesotan should invest in. Even if you keep your house relatively warm, putting the mattress pad on a low setting is soothing because you can crawl into an already warm bed. I didn’t think it would make that much of an impact, but after one night I’m hooked!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Fiasco

It seems like every other article I read online nowadays about the customer service of retailers, be them online merchants or traditional brick and mortar operations, it’s about how atrociously terrible the person writing the article was treated. Personally I’m sick of it… but then I ran into a situation myself where Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s customer support basically gave me the big “Screw You” and told me to move on.

The whole situation started with the Media Play in St. Cloud, Minnesota going out of business. Their prices are usually way too high for me to even imagine myself shopping there, but since they were having a storewide liquidation, I thought I’d check it out while I was in town visiting my girlfriend, Kristin.

While I was there I found a few dvd sets that I wanted including the Spider-Man – The New Animated Series dvd set. At the checkout the cashier made sure to tell me that they would not be accepting returns and that if any of the items I was buying were to be found defective I should contact the manufacturer to correct the problem. Really, I didn’t think it would be a problem because I was only buying dvds, which I’ve never once found to be defective.

After I opened up the Spider-Man dvd set, I noticed that there were two copies of disc #1 in the case instead of a disc #1 and disc #2. I thought this was maybe just a labeling error. It wasn’t. I really had two copies of disc #1 and I couldn’t return it to Media Play, even for a refund. So I contacted the manufacturer—Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The following is the email that was sent to them:
From: Gebhardt, Rick
Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2005 10:25 PM
To: sphe_customer_service@spe.sony.com
Subject: Spider-Man Animated Series DVD problem

I recently bought the Spider-Man: The New Animated Series DVD set (UPC: 043396010680) and upon opening it I found that instead of having a disc one and disc two that there were instead two copies of disc one. When I contacted the store I bought it from (MediaPlay), they told me to contact the manufacturer. After scouring Sony Pictures website, this is the email that I thought would best be able to suit my needs. If you can help me, that would be appreciated. If not, could you forward this email and my contact information to someone who could help me? Thank you.

I wasn’t sure if I’d get a response or not since I wasn’t even sure this was the right email address to send it to, but it was the only contact info I could find on Sony Pictures’ website. Surprisingly I received an email the next day. It is as follows:
From: SPHE_Customer_Service@spe.sony.com
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2005 10:55 AM
To: Gebhardt, Rick
Subject: Re: Spider-Man Animated Series DVD problem

Dear Valued Consumer:

Thank you for your email. We appreciate your interest in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) Products.

There are no known issues with this Title. It is Company Policy to instruct consumers to return all defective/replacement DVDs to the place of purchase with original receipt and follow the return/exchange policy of that retail outlet. We do not replace defective products directly. It is the policy of all of our retailers to replace defective product. Hopefully, you have not missed the window of time your retailer requires for return. We regret there is nothing that SPHE can do to assist you further.

We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your continued patronage and taking the time to contact us.


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Consumer Relations
I couldn’t believe it. They wouldn’t replace a defective item. Media Play also wouldn’t (they told me explicitly), so I was stuck between two sources that didn’t want to replace an inexpensive ($21.99 retail) dvd set. I figured I might as well try to reason with Sony, so I sent the following email:
From: Gebhardt, Rick
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2005 11:11 AM
To: SPHE_Customer_Service@spe.sony.com
Subject: RE: Spider-Man Animated Series DVD problem

Thank you for your response. I tried taking this dvd back to MediaPlay in St. Cloud, Minnesota where I bought it, but they are not accepting returns since they are going out of business. It is because of this that they directed me to contact the manufacturer. They said that the manufacturer would take care of this problem. I understand your position about having the retail outlets replace the defective item, but MediaPlay is not performing returns or exchanges. Could you please take care of this somehow? Thank you.

The next email I received was absolutely no help because all it did was tell me that my email would be answered later. That was fine by me, as long as I eventually received an answer. For completeness sake, here is the email:
From: SPHE_Customer_Service@spe.sony.com
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2005 1:25 PM
To: Gebhardt, Rick
Subject: SPHE Customer Service is out of the office.

I will be out of the office starting Fri 12/23/2005 and will not return until Tue 12/27/2005.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) Consumer Relations is closed for the long Holiday weekend. We will respond to your email when we return on Tuesday, December 27, 2005. Happy Holidays.
So I waited… and waited. I didn’t receive a response on the 27th. Heck, a week past that date I hadn’t heard a peep from them. So I tried to email again, hoping that maybe all they did was lose my email since they had been quick to respond to my first email. I sent the following:
From: Gebhardt, Rick
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2006 12:46 PM
To: SPHE_Customer_Service@spe.sony.com
Subject: RE: Spider-Man Animated Series DVD problem

Dear Consumer Relations,

I sent you an email on the 23rd of December and have not yet received a response from you. The text of that email is below. Your response would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

Email text from 12/23/05:

Thank you for your response. I tried taking this dvd back to MediaPlay in St. Cloud, Minnesota where I bought it, but they are not accepting returns since they are going out of business. It is because of this that they directed me to contact the manufacturer. They said that the manufacturer would take care of this problem. I understand your position about having the retail outlets replace the defective item, but MediaPlay is not performing returns or exchanges. Could you please take care of this somehow? Thank you.

Today is the 8th of January and I haven’t heard from them. Frankly, I got sick of waiting and went to my local Best Buy with the dvd set. I know that usually I rag on Best Buy for their crappy support and shady rebate tactics, but for once they managed to play the nice guy and help me out.

I explained my situation to the return clerk, who also could not understand why Sony would not replace it. In an act of kindness (yes, Best Buy can be kind at times), the clerk filed an exchange for me. I opened the new set there to make sure there was a disc #2, which there was, and was then free to go about my business.

My problem was finally solved, but not by the company who should have been solving it. Sony, this is two strikes against you. First you mess up my computer with a rootkit infected cd and now you hose me on a defective dvd set. I don’t think I’m going to give you a chance to even possibly get a third strike. It’s time to take my business elsewhere.

Spend that Holiday Money

I'm sure most of you got more than a couple of cards for Christmas that had nice, thin, green presents in them. You know, dollar bills of various denominations? If you're like me, I'm sure you'd love to spend them, and I know just how you should--on my Yahoo auctions! I've got DVDs, Xbox games, and comic books galore listed, all for pretty darn cheap. So do yourself (and me) a favor and buy some way cool stuff from me!

Sleeper Hold Triumphs Over Wedgie

Holiday Cheer

Nothing says "Happy New Year" like an atomic wedgie or putting someone into a submission hold and jamming their face into the couch. Just two of the ways that Kristin and I celebrated the brand new year of 2006! And just so you know, this was the only violent method of celebration... mostly... until she kicked my ass later. But that doesn't mean anything. It was totally luck. And I let her win. So there.

Also, it goes to prove that brute strength can beat a combination of four martial arts any day. I win!

Oh yeah, and thanks mom for grabbing my camera from the kitchen table to capture this moment of victory.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Hello. My name is Rick and I’m an Amazon ratings and recommendations addict. Of all the time wasting activities to get addicted to, I never thought I would end up with this one. Who would have thought it could get so serious? I never imagined it could.

It all started a couple of months ago when I realized that Christmas time was approaching and I wanted some way for relatives to see things I wanted without me explicitly telling them what to get me. Since we do a name draw on the Gebhardt side and since my parents don’t always know exactly what I want, I decided to put together an Amazon wish list (which is here if you still want to buy me stuff).

Over the course of about a week I searched out items that I’ve wanted, added them to my wish list, and emailed the url to the list to my parents. As I was doing that, on the front page of Amazon it listed a couple of recommendations. Usually algorithms that sites use to figure out other things you could possibly want work out about as well as teaching a rhino to fly. Here, however, one of the recommendations was a book that I had forgotten that I wanted to get, but since it was somehow associated with one of the authors of one of the books I put on my wish list, it recommended it.

I then decided to see what else Amazon thought I wanted. This was probably a fluke, right? So I clicked on the “Rick’s store” link at the top and browsed through what was recommended for me. A lot of the things I already had, so I marked that I owned them and gave them a rating.

Just by doing that, my recommendations got phenomenally better and a lot more focused. It was like Amazon had somehow stuck a spoon up my nose, removed my brains, examined them thoroughly, and then crammed them back up my nasal passage so that I could, you know, continue functioning.

Anyways, this is where my addiction started to take over. In my spare time at my computer at work and at home I started browsing through Amazon, rating things I owned, and then checking out what recommendations Amazon would make. Sometimes it would be uncanny how well the algorithm used knew what I wanted and at other times it was kind of funny, like when it thought that since I specified I owned an Xbox that I might like to buy a Playstation 2 controller.

So now every movie I watch, every cd I listen to, every book I read, every video game I play, every gadget I pick up, and just about everything I can find I rate on Amazon. And things I want… well, I just keep adding them to my wish list so pretty soon anyone that wants to buy me anything is going to be overwhelmed with stuff they could potentially get me.

So how do I get over this addiction? At first I thought I could just give it up cold turkey, kind of like I did with cola for about 5 years of my life. Didn’t work. Maybe if I just bought a few things from Amazon I would feel good. Didn’t work. Maybe if I found another site to take up my time. Couldn’t find one.

I figured out, after hours of thought, that the only way I’m ever going to break this addiction is to own absolutely everything Amazon has to offer. It’s going to be rough, but with your hearty contributions (by buying me stuff on my wish list) I can hopefully someday soon reach my goal!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Scams... I Mean Rebates

Christmas time shopping, especially when it comes to electronics, often involves a lot of rebates to be filled out, UPC’s cut from boxes, and envelopes addressed to mail.  It’s a hassle, but it’s usually the only way you can get things for below average prices to maximize your gift giving ability… even if sometimes the gifts are simply for yourself.

Almost every year on the day after Thanksgiving I hit up Best Buy and pick up more stuff than I probably need to. For instance, this year I picked up a DVD recorder for my tv… which, when I think about it, I don’t really need as I don’t watch enough tv to justify having one to record all those shows I don’t watch.  I got caught up in the “good deal” mentality when I bought it.

Just like the last few years, this year my dad and myself are waiting on quite a few rebates to come through.  In the past we’ve had companies attempt to burn us by not fulfilling rebates so we always keep lists of what rebates are outstanding, their amounts, and contact numbers because, more often than you might believe, we end up having to contact the companies offering the rebates.

In reading about Radio Shack’s recent rebate fiasco, I recall one company, APC, that tried to screw not only my dad, myself, and my brother out of our rebates, but no doubt everyone that sent in the rebates.

At Best Buy they had rebates on their power supply/surge protectors so I got one, my dad did, and my brother did.  We filled out the rebates.  They were for pretty significant amounts of money, $40 I believe.  We mailed them in and waited… and waited… and waited… and finally received a postcard from APC in the mail.  Within the same period of a couple of days each of us received the postcard.  It stated that our rebates were invalid because not all of the needed information was provided.

I called the contact number I had down to see what was really up and was told by the person working that it must have just been an error and that they’d mark my submission as valid and send out the rebate.  The same thing happened when my brother and father called.

My guess is that they just sent the invalidation cards out to everyone who sent in a rebate and then if someone questioned it, they actually sent out the rebate.  This way they’d be able to scam anyone who didn’t keep the contact information about the rebates.

Ever since then, I usually try not to figure in the price of a rebate when I’m buying something because I don’t know if I’m always going to get it.  When I do, though, it’s always nice to have that check arrive and realize you now have some extra money you can go blow on more stuff that has rebates.

Korn - See You on the Other Side CD Review

If founding member of Korn, Head, leaving the band because he “found Jesus” wasn’t a sign of this band’s demise, as well as the band already releasing a “Best of” disc, I don’t know what else you could be looking for. Head, in this situation, was the smart one and got out at a good time… well, maybe a little bit late, but at least he moved on before See You on the Other Side was let loose on the scene.

This cd, Korn’s sixth full length studio effort, sees the band experimenting much more than they have in the past. In a day and age where most successful bands are content to keep churning out the same cd over and over again, Korn should be applauded for showing some progression, right? Right?

I suppose, but only if you don’t care about quality in your music. With nu-metal, the genre that Korn helped spearhead, being viewed mostly as a joke nowadays, at least Korn recognized that a change is something they needed. Actually, it could just be dumb luck that they modified their sound now, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s just too bad, though, that the execution of their experimentation came off so poorly.

There are still some trademark Korn sounds on this album, such as Jonathan Davis’ unique voice, even if is only used by him to croon out horribly written lyrics such as “What’s it like decapitated / Can you see me fascinated” from “Love Song” or “Everybody’s raped / Lying to your face / Kicks you in the gut / Slayed you here all messed up” from “Politics”. There’s also some use of bagpipes, which could have actually been done without, and every now and then the guitars have that old school Korn thickness. Other than those few items, this is a new and bastardized version of Korn.

Instead of the meaty slap-bass, crunch-o-rific riffs, and unintelligent yet aggressive vocal attacks of old, you’ll now have odd ballads (“Open Up” and “Tearjerker”), dancy vocals and beats (“Twisted Transistor”), hand claps (“Coming Undone”), nu-hop-metal (“For No One”), strings (“Seen It All”), and general lacklusterness (everything else). Instead of looking at all of the good trends in heavy music that have proliferated in the last couple of years, Korn thought it would be good to make use of all the clichés that nu-metal has tried to shed in the last half decade. Bad move. Thanks for setting the genre back 3 years.

The only positive to really come out of this cd is that it quite easily put Korn back on top in their rival popularity contest with Limp Bizkit with the peer group being steroid pumping jocks, wannabe troublemaking fifth graders, and backwater hick metalheads. Then again, it wouldn’t take much to top The Unquestionable Truth pt. 1, but we’ll let that go. Any way you look at it, both albums are utter garbage and shouldn’t be bought by anyone with half a mind… or even a quarter of one.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Getting Rid of Burnt In Images?

I was reading Digg this morning when I ran across this article which talks about how to remove burnt in images from a Mac LCD. I had always heard that LCD don't get burn in like traditional CRT monitors and projection TVs. Anyways, that's not really the point. What the point is, is that I hope this method works for projection TVs and I hope that I can find a way to get an all white screen onto my projection tv for a few hours.

When I bought my 57" Sony, it was a floor model (which is why I got it for about 2/3 of the price). I examined it thoroughly in the showroom and found it to be in perfect condition. Problem is, the movies they were showing on the tv were quite dark so you could see the vibrancy of the color, but it also masked some slight burn in on the screen from when they must have left the menu on for too long.

Now when I watch movies or play video games or whatnot, if a scene contains a predominantly light color, most noticeably white, I can see the slightly burnt in outline of the selection arrows of the menu system. It's not a huge deal, but it does sometimes get annoying. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that this method works. It'll be great to be able to only see the menu when I have the menu on!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Christmas Returns

With every Christmas comes returns. Some years you have more to make than others, but it’s almost always a guarantee that you’ll have to make at least one or two. I had to do a few this year, as usual, but I also returned a few things that I had picked up for my parents and brothers because I thought they could use them, not because they were gifts.

See, I’m a very utilitarian shopper when I’m shopping on my own. I have a list of things I need to get, I go to where I need to go, get those things, and get out. Boom, bang, bam—I’m done. Sometimes I’ll pick up things I see because they might be useful, but usually it’s just what’s on my list… unless I’m out shopping with someone else or simply mall crawling, but those are two totally different situations.

So as I was shopping before Christmas, and even after it, I saw a few things that I thought my brothers and parents could use so I picked them up. For my parents it was a battery charger and for my brothers it was some racing video games. Turns out the racing games were pretty asstacular and my parents had a charger and forgot about it.

So along with my returns, I had those to return as well. In doing my returns I had to visit like 5 different stores around town. As I was doing those returns, as well as dropping off some movies I rented, I realized just how much time I was putting into making these returns, as well as the gas I was using up traveling. It took me probably 2 hours from when I left my house to when I returned to get everything returned. In that time I could have watched a movie or something.

At least in returning what I did, I got some money back I can waste on other things that I want but don’t need. I’m still mulling over whether I should buy an Xbox 360 or not. Still leaning towards no, but it’s always so damn tempting. New technology, you know. I want to be that alpha nerd with the newest toys! For now, though, I think I can hold myself back… I hope.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Rise and Fall - Into Oblivion CD Review

So you’re casually strolling through the mall, window shopping and people watching, without a care in the world. You just got done with work and you’re free for the rest of the night. As you’re lazily walking along on your way to Cinnabon for a yummy snack, a group of three teenage girls starts walking alongside you.

“Oh. My. God. Did you, like, see how hot Timmy looked in gym class with his new Hawthorne Heights studded wife beater? I was so totally going to ask him out right then and there but, like, Tanya was all asking me about my new RAZR and I didn’t want to blow her off because, you know, she started those rumors about me and Jackson last time that I kinda sorta didn’t talk to her when she was all PMS-ing. It’s like, totally, so much of a pain being her, like, only hot friend. Y’know?”

Every last fiber in your body has suddenly been strained as you’ve gone from being utterly relaxed to holding back a homicidal rampage that this world has never seen. In your mind you are trying to focus on just making it to Cinnabon, but instead all you can do is imagine yourself brandishing a sledgehammer, turning on the group of girls, and pounding the living, bloody bejesus out of them. Viciously, bloodily, and so satisfactorily you pound and pound and pound and pound, watching joyously as you rid the world three ungodly annoyances.

Now during this scene there has to be a soundtrack. Vicious killing like this can’t just happen without some type of accompaniment. Rise and Fall’s latest effort, Into Oblivion, would be that soundtrack, mainly because it’s the type of hardcore that makes you want to beat up your own mom—every chord a distorted, heavy blow to your ears, vocals that don’t even entertain the thought of melody, and a rhythm section that never slows down. This is simply downright, blunt trauma inducing hardcore (except for the last track, which is slower, almost blunt, trauma inducing hardcore… but you won’t notice by that time as your ears will already no doubt be bleeding).

It’s not often that hardcore is done right. Actually, it’s not that often that hardcore is even really done competently, but Rise and Fall have achieved what so few bands in this genre do—the creation of a cd that bears repeat listens and also doesn’t sound exactly like every other hardcore cd to come out in the last 10 years.