Monday, February 27, 2006

Coming Back Soon

I'm on vacation right now, have been since last Friday, and will be until later this week. Hope you're all having fun.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

KCUF - Modern Primitive Punk CD Review

Walk down the cd aisles of your local Best Buy or Circuit City and look around. You could grab almost any cd that you run across, stick it in your stereo, and hear a batch of songs that was meticulously thought out, overproduced, geared towards a predetermined audience’s tastes, and feeling like it was created to fit within a certain musical template. It’s maddening how often bands create CDs that fit within the confines of a well defined genre or genre subset merely to appeal to a certain demographic. How often do bands make CDs just for themselves? Not often. Then again, there aren’t often releases like the self titled debut from KCUF that come around.

There should be no question about the motives of the members of KCUF in the orchestration of the 22 tracks on Modern Primitive Punk. These are songs, snippets of songs, pieces of randomness, and tongue-in-cheek “remixes” put together simply because Sean, Jeff, and John like making random, sometimes simple, sometimes shredding, sometimes melodic, sometimes not, sometimes interesting, sometimes underdeveloped, yet always punk tunes.

To be completely clear, this is a dirty, old school styled punk release. Beyond that core structure, you can hear a few scant influences from other genres that have come to pass over the last decade or so, such as nu-metal (yeah, believe it or not), stoner rock, and spazzcore. Recognize, however, that these influences are not very noticeable, but their small flourishes color the small developmental aspects of this band. To help keep this cd sounding dirty and rough, there isn’t a whole lot of post production work to gloss over the grimy, gritty live style that most of the songs fall into. Even guest appearances by members of System of a Down, Korn, and Slipknot don’t pull this band out of their rough and tumble style of sound. At times, however, there is definitely a need for some post-production work and trimming of tracks, but the band chose to err on the side of rawness.

22 tracks is definitely a lot and portions of the cd scream out for quality control in order to eliminate some of the crap on this CD. For example, “Josh” is basically a really crappily recorded demo track with asinine lyrics and scratchy guitars. Then there are the constant, puzzling interludes such as “Bad Poem”, “Ferral Kid”, and “Goldfish”. Other times you have spoken interludes. None of them really serve a purpose other than to be something odd tossed in between tracks.

Some of the songs could also have used a little more work. The DJ Starscream “remix” tracks really bring nothing to the album other than some added bloops and beeps that sound horribly out of place on a predominantly punk album. I mentioned before that most of the songs are pretty raw, which works for the type of dirty punk music that KCUF creates, but by the end of the album you might find yourself wishing more than a few of the songs weren’t so murky in spots.

Will any of you really enjoy this album? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that it sure as hell sounds like KCUF had an amazingly fun time recording this disc. So who cares if anyone outside of the band actually likes the cd. They obviously did this to have fun, and they had a ton of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lego Creativity

When I was younger, my third favorite toy set to play with (behind G.I.Joe and my few Transformers) was Legos. Truth be told I didn't have a lot of actual legos but instead had a crap-ton of MegaBlocks and all of the other Lego clones blocks because they didn't cost the GDP of a small nation to buy.

Being somewhat uncreative and possessing a very single tracked mind, I spend most of my lego creation time making spaceships that I later stage mock space battles between. Often these battles would end with one ship getting shot in the engineering section and crashing (read: me throwing) into the ground.

Ocassionally I'd come up with something else interesting to build, like one time I made some farm houses and barns to use with my farm playsets, or another time I made a bunker for my G.I.Joe characters, but never did I venture into the creative territory someone else did when they created classic video game screens with Legos.

Whenever I see cool stuff like this on the internet I always wonder, "Why the heck don't I think of things like this?" It's not like I'm totally uncreative... at least I hope not. Then again, I think a lot of it has to do with the complete and utter lack of free time I have. Looking back over the last year I did try to do some interesting stuff with the Big Boy Toy Box cartoons I was creating, but that was mainly because I did have free time. Crap, looking back at those cartoons I kind of want to start up with it again. Too bad I have a few other pressing personal matters that I need to take care of first.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Rickey Smiley Isn't Funny

Rickey Smiley is not funny

Seriously. I just watched Rickey Smiley's comedy central special that I had recorded, since I dig stand up in most any form, and I don't think I actually laughed besides his opening joke about farting in leather pants.

Usually even a really bad comic will have one or two inspiring jokes that will have me chuckle a bit, but Smiley had not a damn thing funny in his entire set (other than the leather pants joke, like I said before). He tried racial comedy... didn't work. He tried using props... didn't work. He tried impersonations... didn't work. He tried musical comedy... didn't work. He just isn't funny. Hell, I think if I had a comedy central special it would be more funny. What a waste of a half an hour.

Completely Genuine

Last night on the drive home, I had a moment of sorts with a gas station attendant as I was paying for my gas and energy drinks for the drive home from St. Cloud.  I had stopped in Monticello to fuel up at around 6:45 pm.  You know that the people who are working at a gas station on a Sunday night either really need the money or are having a hard time finding jobs.

As I brought my two energy drinks (they were some off brand that I forget the name of now) to the counter, the couple in front of me were giving the kid working the counter a hard time.  He was a pretty husky kid who I don’t think could be any older than 19.  At the top of his large frame was a baby face with glasses.  If you were to judge him on looks alone you’d probably assume he has few friends and spends most of his time either playing World of Warcraft or studying.

The couple checking out had some food in a travel container at which the cashier asked what flavors the items were.  The man of the couple shot back at him, “Why do you need to know?”  Shyly, the kid told them he needed to know because the prices were different for some of the flavors at which the man responded, quite off the cuff, “Oh, I think two are barbeque and one is mesquite… or something like that.”  

I’m sure the kid just wanted to do his job right.  Who knows, it could have been his first job and he didn’t want to mess up.  I was actually quite upset with the attitude of the people in front of me.  It was as if they didn’t even register the cashier as a person, but merely something to service their needs.

Thankful that they had left, I pushed my drinks onto the counter and told the cashier I had gas on pump 9.  In seeing my smile as I told him that I was glad the drinks were on sale he asked me somewhat meekly, “Have you tried the Blast Berry?”

From what I could tell in the short time I’d been there, this seemed like something that he usually wouldn’t do with a customer.  He was taking a chance.  I know that if he was still in high school it was pretty much a lock that he was one of the most made fun of kids simply because he was overweight.  I know because I used to be overweight, which made me one of the easiest targets for kids to hone their vulgar, comedic talents on.

I felt really good that he would go outside of his bubble and try to make that connection.  Somewhat surprised I told him I hadn’t tried it and that I was curious what he thought of it so I should know to get it next time or not.  Letting a slight grin escape he told me it was actually his favorite flavor and that I should definitely give it a try sometime.

“Next time I’ll definitely do that,” I told him as he handed me my receipt.  “Have a good night and thanks for the tip.”

And you know what?  Next time I do go to a gas station I’ll look for the Blast Berry (or something berry, I forget the exact adjective, but I know it’s the raspberry flavor) and give it a shot if for no other reason than it was recommended to me from someone who was completely genuine.  

The world is often a cold and daunting place, full of people on the go with hardly a minute to spare for anyone else.  It’s rare to find someone who has the energy to expend on a complete stranger.  I know I try, but often I forget that the people around me in the service industry are people too, just like me only doing something different than I do.  Thankfully, there are people like this cashier that remind me that everyone is worthy of my time, no matter what their employment, position in life, age, or looks might be.  

G'Kar, Now Forever Traveling the Stars

I must be getting further and further out of the loop when it comes to sci-fi news, which is unfortunate considering I don't like being behind with sci-fi news (hurts my geekiness quotient), since I missed that Andreas Katsulas passed away on February 13th.

As I was scanning the blurbs my RSS aggregator grabbed from my usual list of blogs that I read I noticed that Loonyblog mentioned something about Andreas Katsulas passing away. I recognized the name and it sounded very familiar to me but I couldn't place why I knew it. Only after heading over to Loonyblog to read the full post did I read (and thus remember) that Andreas played G'Kar on Babylon 5.

Last year I had watched the entire 5 year run of the television series for the first time, marvelin in what was one of the better sci-fi series I had ever seen. You owe it to yourself to watch Babylon 5 if you enjoy well written sci-fi in the least. J. Michael Straczynski, despite his few shortcomings when writing comics, wrote one hell of a tv series.

But this isn't a post about Babylon 5 exclusively. It's one about Andreas. Often I find myself feeling weird when writing about dead celebreties, but on the other hand I also feel weird knowing that they'll never pop up on tv again. Whatever is out there is all we'll ever see of them. Thankfully, Andreas will be remembered for a long time to come by many a sci-fi fanboy as G'Kar, a character we could all look up to.

Friday, February 17, 2006

ADD on a Whole New Level

If there was ever a combination of moods that was completely unneeded when you have a project due is the mixture of utter boredom, permeated unmotivation, and unparalleled procrastination. Today I suffer from all three.

The day started off ok. I actually woke up to my alarm as opposed to the dog barking, which is definitely awesome since it happens so rarely lately. Work this morning was somewhat laid back but as time stretched on my ability to focus on anything for more than a few minutes was fading fast. It eventually left me completely when they had women's curling on tv here in the office. That's right, women's curling was was more interesting than anything else I had to do in the office.

As the curling switched to women's hockey I tried to focus on what I was working on, but found myself getting up every 5-10 minutes to do something like going to the bathroom, refilling my coffee (which led to more trips to the bathroom), visiting a co-worker's cube for candy, walking around the cube farm just because, or raiding a friend's cube for his heat lamp so I could set it up in my cube to strategically shine directly on my bamboo plant so that it will hopefully need more water so that I can get up and water it more often.

There was nothing... nothing that could keep me focused today. Even now I'm about ready to move on to something else to kill some time. Maybe it's because it's Friday. Maybe it's because it's un-freakin-believably cold out today. Maybe it's because I'm too stressed out to let my mind stay tuned in to one thing. Hell if I know. All I really know is that I don't want to do anything right now... and that I still have at least two torturous hours of work left. Ugghhh.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

No Idols - Low (Swing the Pyramid Hands) CD Review

This review, as short as it may be, took an inordinate amount of time to write. Chalk that up to a couple of different reasons. The first might be a slight case of wanting-to-be-a-witty-writer’s block, but we’ll let that one slide past for now. Second, this cd clocks in at only a little under 23 minutes for its 11 tracks, leaving less material than is desirable to be able to work with. Third, these guys are really difficult to nail down when attempting to define their sound.

Throughout Low (Swing the Pyramid Hands) you’ll be scratching your head wondering who put some grindcore in with your hardcore, thought about jumping into some metalcore, and then left you with a sprinkling of noisecore. Beyond that, there’s really not any other way to accurately describe No Idols within the confines of the written word without leaving something out (and, yes, the above description itself easily leaves something out, but it’s what you get, so deal).

Vocally, think of Snapcase’s staccato style, but growled out from the depths of the loudest, angriest metal vocalist you can conjure in your mind’s eye… or ear, I suppose. There is absolutely no melody to be found here - raw aggression only. Then there’s the energy that you feel washing over you as each song is coursing through your auditory system. Somehow the evil offspring of Fear Before the March of Flames and The Chariot grew up, died a tragic death, wandered the earth in search of a proper home, and eventually after years of listless drifting from band to band found a home within the band No Idols.

Throughout this entire amazing, swirling, lovely nightmare of sound there is something that will gnaw at you… reaching into your bowels and making them quiver oh so gently. It is, in fact, the distortion drenched venom exuded by the members of the band playing their devious brand of angry music in unison. They’re not doing this to look tough or to sound loud or to be the next heavy somethingcore band. No, they’re doing this to rip you apart from the inside out.

So be prepared to potentially thunder-dump in your pants, vomit up your last three meals, and kidney punch your dog in a fit of spontaneous rage before you venture into this disc’s depths. They aren’t some wannabe band and, in fact, the title of one of their songs says it best. This is the “Eye of the Shitstorm” and the only way out is through the violence surrounding you, all 23 minutes of it.

Thoughts on Recently Watched DVDs

A lot of people, in talking about this movie, related it to Crash. I went into it with the mindset that it would be topically the same as Crash, but that was obviously the wrong way to go about it. This movie was only similar to Crash in that all of the story threads tied together in the end (or beginning, however you look at this movie). Topically, they are completely different.

What I did find when I watched (much the opposite of Kristin) was a movie that focused not so much on the characters, although there is a decent amount of character building, none of it very deep however, but instead focused on how the different threads of the story came together. This is what I found most interesting. Seeing how all of the different plotlines, each giving away a little more of the story as they were explored, came together in the end to give you the full picture, which seems very artistically intriguing to me. If you're looking for complete closure on the storyline, you'll be frustrated to no end, but if you enjoy trying to put all the pieces of a puzzle together before the end of the movie, it's a great one to watch.

Bill Murray, almost all of the time, can make a movie on his own. This, however, is not one of them. I can only stand so many stationary shots of Murray sitting down or lying on a couch. There was altogether way too much padding throughout this film. So many times during the movie's running, I'd find myself looking at my watch. Boring doesn't even begin to describe the tedium that most of this movie's shots reside in.

Seeing the different types of characters that Murray's old flames turned out to be was moderately interesting, but when the movie returned to focusing on Murray I would again lose interest. For all of the praise heaped upon this movie, I had a hard time keeping myself on the couch and finishing this thing to the end. If you want to see Murray at his best go watch Rushmore or The Royal Tennenbaums.

Oh yeah, the ending is also beyond stupid. I will not lie to you. You will get to the ending, see the credits start to roll, and then contemplate punching a baby.

I should have known what I was getting into before even turning this dvd on. Reviews for this movie have been... mixed, at best. Word of mouth from some of my friends had been worse. Still, I thought the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately I didn't do what I should have done and listened to the reviews. This movie was terrible. If you want to see two hours of morally ambiguous characters doing all the bad things that even you weren't daring enough to think about doing in college, then go ahead and watch this movie. If that doesn't sound interesting then please don't waste your time.

You know, when I saw that this was "based on a true story" I knew it was going to be bad. What's odd is that it was only moderately bad. It didn't venture into Cabin Feverhorror bad but it also couldn't quite turn into a quality flick either. Ryan Reynolds pretty much kept the movie afloat by being all crazy and freaky, but beyond him being the opposite of his funny self, there wasn't a whole lot of substance to this movie. I don't mind tossing away a couple of hours on a horror flick as long as I know that I'm not going to be getting the best modern cinema has to offer. At least it was better than most of the other horror movies that have been released in the last few years.

Double Shot of Expresso... On the Double!

Last night we had our final regular season basketball game, which we won for a change. Our final record is 4-6, but three of those losses were games we pretty much handed to our opponents in the final minute or two. Our style of play is to either get really behind right away and then just goof around or we'll play hard in spurts keeping it close and then somehow pooch it at the end. The games we've won have all been pretty close as well. Sadly we never had a game this season where we just obliterated our opponents. We've had halves where we were dominant lords of the court, but never a full game.

Playoffs will be starting next week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll be able to pull together two full halves of awesome, Iverson-esque play. We'll see.

Now after our game I showered up and zoomed over to a friend's place to take part in our weekly poker game. We got started at about 11:30. I got eliminated in the middle of the pack going all in before the flop with a pair of kings. I had to since my stack was slowly getting blinded away and I couldn't get cards for the life of me. Another guy flopped trips and I was done.

I got home at about 2 and slipped into bed at close to 2:30 am hoping to sleep in until at least 8 since I didn't have any pressing morning meetings (and I needed to regenerate since I've been extra tired lately) but at about 7 am or so this morning the dog of the house started barking and wouldn't shut the hell up. One of these mornings I'm going to be tempted to grab a roll of my packing tape and permanently make that dog's mouth stay shut.

So what this means is that I'm a little tired, a little more unmotivated, and a lot grouchy this morning. I have a feeling this is going to be a really, really long day. Let's pray the dog stays quiet during the day so I can concentrate as I'm working from home today instead of trudging through the snow that Mother Nature finally dumped on us Minnesotans.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Being David Duchovny Wouldn't Suck

You scored as FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files). You are part of a super secret section of the FBI. You also have the very cool status of "Special Agent". You believe in many conspiracies and know the government is covering up way too much. Now if only you could the Cigarette Smoking Man to stop providing you with the second-hand smoke.

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Serenity (Firefly)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Moya (Farscape)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
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Adult Swim 24/7

Starting March 27th, from the Adult Swim website you will be able to watch streaming [AS] shows 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! To most Cartoon Network viewers the Adult Swim shows are probably the best thing about the network... barring a lot of the badly translated anime they put on late at night. But if I can watch Harvey Birdman, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Sealab, The Brak Show, and others whenever I want just by tuning in on my laptop to a streaming channel... that is almost like heaven, if heaven only consisted of a tv channel that had cartoons on it that I liked to watch.

I wonder how long it will be until other tv stations start doing this with their content. I know a few shows are available to download via iTunes and other services, but for a fee. When will other channels start putting up content for free? I have a feeling none of the major networks will but I could see Sci-Fi or G4 (or TechTV or whatever it's called now) doing something similar.

Actually, now that I think about it, I don't know how often I will tune in to the 24/7 Adult Swim channel. Some of the stuff I own the DVDs of. Other shows I'm contemplating buying on DVD. The other shows, well, I really don't have a huge desire to see but I guess if I had enough free time I might dial up the site for the heck of it.

Somehow I think putting shows up on a website to stream is both a good and bad idea. Good because I can tune in whenever, whereever as long as I have an internet connection. Bad because, well, the internet infrastructure in this country makes it impossible for streaming media to look and sound super great. We'll see, I guess. Come March 27th, if I remember, I'll have to definitely give my thoughts on the rolled out service.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney's Example

If you haven't heard that Dick Cheney shot a man in the face by now, then you need to read a freaking newspaper or stop using the internet only for downloading porn and playing flash games. I know everyone has gotten a good laugh or two out of it already. I know I sure have. But what I find so amazing is that this is all being treated as a big joke. The White House is churning out one-liners about the situation. Cheney hasn't made any comments. The public or authorities (for all we know) weren't even alerted about what happened until a day later.

Now if it were some average, everyday schmuck that shot his hunting partner in the face, you know they'd be in lockdown, being questioned, and the victim would be attempting to probably get some type of compensation for getting buckshot in the kisser.

This whole thing makes me wonder if I could get away with "accidentally" shooting someone on a hunting trip. Cheney is setting quite the example. If you don't tell anyone about it, hide away in isolation, and really sell that it was only an accident (even when you have the rep of being as detestable as country music) you'll probably get away without anything happening... and the country will crack jokes about it!

So what's the best way to ask someone you absolutely hate on a hunting trip with you? I'm just curious...

The Subways - Young for Eternity CD Review

For every music reviewer, listener, or connoisseur that clamors for bands to switch up their sound in order to create something new and unheard, there is someone on the other side of the fence screaming out that bands need stay true to their roots, sometimes even to the point of hearkening all the way back to the days of rock and roll’s glory. It’s a vicious war that neither side will win but, depending upon the majority’s tastes at any given moment, can become quite lopsided.

This lopsidedness leads to the over saturation of a particular genre. For instance, metalcore, eight years ago, was a moderately original genre which the music lovers of change fell head over heels for. In a short amount of time thereafter, there were way too many metalcore bands, at which point the music lovers of change branched out and latched onto a new genre. It was also at this moment in time that the haters of change became associated with the aforementioned genre and ridiculed bands that tried to change their sound. The vicious circle perpetuated itself in yet another iteration of a never ending cycle.

You could easily apply the previous paragraph’s template to just about any modern genre, as well as take the previous example as a microcosmic examination of rock and roll in its entire musical lifecycle to date. It is the extension of this example to a larger time sampling that has led to the abundance of garage rock and simple minded brit-rock bands that have hit the airwaves over the last few years. Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, The White Stripes, and many more similar bands have assaulted the airwaves only for listeners to later notice that, in the end, all of these bands are pretty damn simplistic.

Enter The Subways. Wading into a genre with a well established fanbase, they have taken what has been laid out by their contemporaries and added a slight twist that newer members of the garage rock genre might find interesting, but that’s only because they’re too newly exposed to the genre to realize that Oasis, Ash, and even Iggy Pop have done it equally as well, if not better, in the past. True, The Subways are not a direct descendant of any of these artists, but they share enough common elements that the connection is obvious.

No doubt the majority of the people who buy this cd will think of it as a close relative to The Rakes or a more rock oriented Franz Ferdinand, which isn’t totally off base, but for being in such a derivative genre The Subways deserve a little better than being lumped in with the multitude of crappy knockoff bands aping the garage rock sound. It’s also too bad that most listeners will be missing the connection that The Subways have with the elder members of their genre, but in this world of flashy music videos, jump-cut cinematography, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders you can’t expect much more than that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Kids in the Gym

Being the active person I am combined with the facts that I am cheap... err, I mean frugal, and don't like exercising in the cold I joined a gym back before Christmas. It's not a gigantic, overpopulated, has everything you'll ever need and more style health clubs. No, that would have cost my like $80 a month on top of a $150 joining fee.

Being that I felt the above amount was a little too much to pay just to be able to do something that I view as a necessity for my not becoming the world's next 1,000 poun man, I hooked up with a 24-hour gym that has some treadmills, bikes, eliptical machines, and various lifting machines (as well as a bunch of dumbells). It works for my needs and it only costs $30 a month so my wallet doesn't feel so much pain.

At first, before Christmas came and went and everyone made their new year's resolutions to get un-fat, there were hardly any people at the gym. Now there are more, but still not an overabundance to make the place feel crowded, which is key. There has been only one time that I've had to wait to get a treadmill because they're all taken up.

Anyways, what I'm slowly getting to is that there are certain classes of people that go to this type of a gym. Each is totally different from the rest and the people that don't fall into one of these categories are extremely few and far between.

Doctor Exercise: You know how Nike, Reebok, Adidas and just about every other fitness gear company in existence advertises like crazy so that you buy their stuff? Doctor Exercise ignores these ads completely and comes to work out in a polo dress shirt, khaki shorts, and sneakers that are as close to dressy as possible. How anyone can work out in this type of garb is beyond me. Then again, watching Doctor Exercise work out you'll notice that he never does anything more than half-ass any exercise he's doing.

Sixteen Year Old Strong Man: When you were in high school you wanted to be in shape, good looking, and attractive so that the girls would gravitate towards you and, when the time came, you might actually have a chance of getting a girl to say yes if you asked her out. The Sixteen Year Old Strong Man is the high school kid who doesn't make it on to a sports team, but is in decent enough shape. Because of this fact, they think they're the shit. They come to work out in either ratty-ass old clothes or super trendy underarmor outfits. Regardless, these kids spend about as much time looking at themselves in the mirror and talking with each other than they do actually exercising. Oh yeah, and they never do cardio. They just lift.

Great Grandma Marathon: Old ladies who, I'm assuming, are now dealing with an empty nest or divorced life like to exercise to waste their time and probably to validate their continued existence since what they'd previously latched onto is no longer around. Great Grandma Marathon will go from treadmill to exercise bike to eliptical and back again doing each for long periods of time but at such a low intensity that rarely will you see a bead of sweat on her brow. At least she feels good about what she's doing, right?

Cheeseburger Chump: You know how you make New Year's resolutions to get in shape or sometimes if you're getting a little too plump someone will get you a gym membership for your birthday? The Cheeseburger Chump is that type of person. He's also likely to stay with the gym for about two months or until his gym gift expires. He goes to show everyone that he is, indeed, still in shape even though his definition of shape (being flabby) is different than anyone else's at the gym. The Cheeseburger Chump focuses mainly on lifting and doing the cardio machines on a really low intensity for short amounts of time.

Post Pregnancy Primadona: When women get pregnant they also get fat. Eventually they'll shoot out a good chunk of that fat in the form of a mini version of themselves, but a lot might still remain. In the process of freaking out about it, the Post Pregnancy Primadona books a membership at a local gym to burn off those extra pounds that she gained while eating copious amounts of sour cream and onion potato chips covered in bacon strips and peanut butter (or any other odd food combination that only a pregnant woman could conceive). In exercising she usually acts as prissy as possible, treats the cardio machines like they are her very own, and likes to make known that she recently crapped out a kid so that's why she's so fat.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Netflix Can, And Will, Throttle You

Back when I had much more free time on my hands, I used to be a Netflix subscriber. I was using their service for about a year until I realized I was only getting maybe 5 or 6 movies a month which wasn't really justifying paying the $20 a month it then cost for their service. I promptly quit when I made that realization and joined (I needed something to do on my then 90 minutes of commute time a day).

For a while, however, I was a very heavy user of Netflix. I mostly used it to rent movies I didn't get to see in the theater as well as watch tv shows on dvd that I had not had a chance to catch on tv. When I was doing this I could go through one dvd a day at times. Yes, I really had that much time to burn. And living in the middle of nowhere with rarely a social contact around (outside of my family) I had nothing better to do.

I'd sometimes thought about going to back to using their service considering that most of my free time comes in small blocks now, perfect for watching episodes of tv shows, but then I've been reading about Netflix's throttling scheme. Heavy users, which I could potentially end up being, had their accounts throttled down so that only so many dvds would be sent out every month, even when you would promptly return your already watched dvds.

It makes sense from the business side since postage has been rising and that is one cost for them which is non-negotiable. I know they don't want to raise their prices either because then it becomes less attractive for casual renters, like I was during my last subsrciption months. They could categorize their subscription types or bill after a monthly cycle, but I don't think either of those options are very viable solutions either.

This leaves Netflix in somewhat of a pickle if more than just a few customers get upset by the throttling techniques they employ. Right now I'm sure it's a pretty isolated thing for a user to be disgruntled about it, but if given enough traction online or in the news it may hurt the company, which would really be too bad because I like their service even if I might not use it right now.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

X3 - More Photos

After seeing some of the new photos of X3 that have been leaking to the world, I am still afraid this movie is going to suck hard, like Elektra bad but not quite Catwoman bad.

Juggernaut just looks tiny. Every comic book he was ever in he was portrayed as this totally ginormous dude that dwarfed anyone he was around. In the one photo of him found at the above link, he looks like a WWF wrestler wearing some wacky medieval armor and holding an upside down metal popcorn bowl.

The Dark Phoenix storyline could be quite well portrayed throughout this film, but then you also have Beast and Angel, neither of which look too convincing in photo stills or the trailer. Some of the other characters, like Psylocke, also look very contrived and come off seeming like extras from a Cradle of Filth music video shoot.

The one photo of Colossus seems to be the one redeeming shot of a new character. He looks way more bad ass than from X2 so hopefully he'll lay the smack down on some unsuspecting villain ass, preferably the lameoid ass of Juggernaut.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Engineer - Reproach CD Review

Epic doom metal is something of an acquired taste for most, but once someone has finally identified the magical ingredient that makes the genre so much more than a conglomeration of slow, droning noise, there is no going back. However, for some it might be hard to get to that point or, for others, the genre won’t be appealing at all. For those people, what if there were a band that could bridge the gap between modern metal and the ├╝ber-epicness of the Cults of Luna and Neurosis’s that are out there?

Such a band exists and that band, Engineer, has just released their debut full length, Reproach. Engineer have proven that you don’t need 10 minute long songs and stretches of similarly structured chord progressions to be doom. In fact, they wonderfully create 3 to 5 minute mini-epics. If it would make it easier to audiblize their sound, imagine Isis under the constraints of only being allowed to create songs with running times under 4 minutes. Frankly, they’re probably not capable of it, but Engineer is.

You don’t need an entire hour of your life to appreciate a batch of songs from Engineer—you only need three quarters of the time. The beauty of their music comes in their ability to take the best parts of the doom and gloom metal bands surrounding them, infusing those parts with a little bit of grind, to crank out gems that don’t drag on for ages.

The perfect example of this is the song “Shiner” where, in a little under 2 minutes time, the band creates a pulsating, rhythmic outpouring of downtrodden emotion which would have felt indulgent if stretched out past its running time. It doesn’t feel short. It doesn’t feel cut off. It doesn’t feel underdeveloped. No, it feels just right.

Engineer isn’t simply a neutered version of Isis or a darker take on Botch. They are the gateway drug that could take your everyday metalhead and open his or her eyes to the wonders of the doom metal heroin that’s right there for the taking. They’re tempting, and you know you want it. So just do it. Grab that needle and shoot up. Once you do, though, there’s no turning back. Engineer will show you the path of the doom addiction that awaits you.

Going Ape

This week will be a busy one for me. I'll be traveling up to Minneapolis for business meetings followed by remote working in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud and then a visit up to see Kristin. I'm not the biggest fan in the world of business trips simply because I feel like I'm living out of a suitcase for the entire trip, but it also gives me a chance to work in some different envirnoments and mix it up a bit.

However, since I am a creature of routine most of the time, getting out of my everyday routine sometimes drives me nuts. I'll no doubt be unhappy that I won't get to hit the gym at all this week and I'll be scrounging up time to do my work over at Decoy while also trying to find a couple of minutes here and there to type something up to post to my journal here. But I'll be out and about, and I kind of need that right now, so there's definitely an upside.

In the off chance that I am not able to entertain you enough this week, simply go Ape (thanks for the craziness, Justin).

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Prize Fight - The Process CD Review

Jimmy Eat World, for all intents and purposes, pioneered a very easily defined emo sound. It isn’t that hard to see shades of their work in many of today’s more popular bands’ work, as well as being used to outright shape the sound of many up and coming emo acts. I’m sure just about every reviewer on Decoy’s staff can name at least 10 cds that have come across their review pile that fit the aforementioned JEW profile perfectly.

It’s not always an egregious error for a band to emulate one of the groups which have helped to mold the genre they’re a part of, but it sets the band up to either be extremely good copycats or utter failures. There isn’t exactly a whole hell of a lot of middle ground with this type of thing, which makes wearing your influences on your sleeve a very risky proposition.

The Prize Fight, as you have correctly guessed, follows the JEW playbook very closely, putting them on a precipice they might easily fall from. Against the odds, however, they stand on that edge quite confidently, while playing what sounds like some really good JEW b-sides.

Of course there is more to this band than just sounding a lot like JEW, but when you initially listen to this EP, that’s what you’ll notice. If you listen a little closer, however, you can pick up an almost imperceptible bar-rock feel. It’s hard to pick out, but it’s there, and it’s just enough to keep The Process from falling into “total rip-off” territory.

Given some time to grow, evolve, and define themselves, The Prize Fight could have a very bright road to travel down.

The Flash? I Never Would Have Guessed

You are The Flash
The Flash
Iron Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Fast, athletic and flirtatious.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Of course I wish I would have lined up more with Batman since he's the obvious favorite of mine from that list. I would hav been a little confused if I ended up being The Green Lantern. Are we talking classic, truly classic, Alan Scott who was one of the founders of the JSA? I wouldn't mind being associated with him.

I also wouldn't mind being Hal Jordan. He was a solid, straight up guy... until he started killing people by the thousands and became the avenging spirit of death. That would have sucked. But he's back now so I wouldn't mind being thought of as Hal-ish.

It would suck to be Kyle Rayner or Guy Gardener. Kyle is just a whiny, froofy, indecisive Green Lantern (at least from my experiences with him in what I've read). He'll be getting more exposure soon, so maybe his star is on the rise. Guy was always a big ol' bucket of annoying. Sometimes he had a funny one liner here or there, but for the most part he just got on my nerves. Being such a prick has to get old, doesn't it?

John Stewart, the Green Lantern you know if you only watch the Justice League cartoon, is also a pretty good, stand-up guy that I wouldn't mind emulating in real life. And, when you think about it, he's probably the most well known Green Lantern simply because he's on a tv show.

So... wow, I just dedicated like 8 minutes of my life to discussing which of the Green Lanterns I'd like to be compared to. Work must officially suck ass today.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mentally Challenged + Musical Suffix = Huh?

If you're internet savvy in the least or are under the age of 17 and are trying to be trendy or make friends via the internet because you're so socially akward that you would rather curl up in your bed listening to Hawthorne Heights instead of actually talking to other breathing human beings, you've heard of MySpace. It's also a way for many of today's trend-core bands to get kids that have very bad taste in music to listen to their crap.

I bring up MySpace to use as a segue into talking about one of the Google ads that keeps appearing over to the right for I know that it's tempting to attempt to cash in on the MySpace craze, but do you really think that combining shorthand for the insult retard with the ubiquitous suffix "core" that you have some type of winning name? If you ask me, it sounds like a gathering place for crappy Silverstein ripoff bands and mullet-cut kids to get together and complain about how much they hate the popular kids and want to do nothing but have a girl talk to them.

Now I don't really have a problem with the site. No, that's not it. What I find somewhat weird and a little bit disheartening is that for whatever reason, Google has decided that would be the perfect ad to continually put up on my site. I'm not tardcore, Google. This guy is.

Scoring Quick and Often

How in the heck does a high school girl score 113 points in one game? Seriously, I've seen high school girls basketball games and they're about as awesome as getting severly beaten over the head with a tire iron. I can't even remember a day in high school, or college for that matter, where an entire team scored in triple digits. Insane.

As I think back to high school and basketball, there probably wasn't a single varsity game in which I played that I had points numbering in the double digits. Of course, I didn't get a lot of play time on varsity, but when I was in I also wasn't exactly the main focus of the offense.

Our junior varsity games were a lot more fun. We ended up playing most of them on crappy elementary school basketball courts on weekends when they didn't have the heat on in the buildings, but we sure got our fair share of playing time during those games! But even in those games I only think I reached double digits once. I was more of a facilatator for the offense, as well as a defensive oriented person.

This, however, I am not quite as good at nowadays. I've got the energy to play full games and to participate, but over the years (and injuries) my quickness isn't exactly what it used to be. Having turned your ankles and wrenched your knees around more times than you can count in basketball games, ultimate frisbee tournaments, and outdoor running will do that to you.

Throughout high school and middle school, I actually made quite the interesting basketball evolution. Coming in and starting to play in 7th grade I was one of the taller kids in my class so I was a backup center by position. That was fine by me because I didn't have to worry about the complicated things like dribbling and passing. I just posted up and jumped for rebounds.

In 8th and 9th grade other kids started catching up in the height category. No longer was I one of the tallest kids. So I got moved down to a forward position, which was fine. I might have to dribble and pass occasionally, but I could handle the few times I needed to, and my main task was to still just post up and rebound.

Sophomore year through senior year I made yet another transition. I was no longer tall relative to my classmates. Being 5'9" was tall in 8th grade, but not in 12th. Guys were muscling me around all over down low. It was time I learned to dribble and pass... and even occasionally shoot! At first I picked up those new talents about as well as Mary Kate Olsen could pick up an anvil, but I was trying.

I never was able to be a very productive shooting guard, but I was competent. And that's how I ended my high school basketball career--competent. There was nothing I wanted more than to be good at basketball, but it just wasn't happening.

College was a little different. In practicing on my own and playing intramurals where I wasn't being constantly put down by a preferrential coach that only play "his boys" my game got significantly better. I wasn't putting up Kobe like numbers, but I wasn't a high school scrub anymore either.

In comparison to most of the other players in college intramurals, I was still basically competent. Which is how I also ended my intramural years--just competent. And now after a couple of years away from the game, I picked up into a rec league in Rochester.

Over the past eight games I've noticed my game hasn't gotten any better. If anything, I'm still simply competent. I hit double digits one time this year and I'll be lucky if I do again, but that's ok because finally, after countless years (actually about 13) I've come to realize what I am as a player--competent. If I don't try to do more than what I know I'm capable of, I'm sure I'll continue to do just fine.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ironbound NYC - With a Brick CD Review

Let me put this out there right off the bat—if you buy this cd not knowing what you’re getting into then, my friend, you are not exactly the brightest crayon in the box. For those of you that are duller colors, let’s thoroughly examine this release, shall we? We’ll worry about the actual music later. For now, let’s look and see what you can gleam simply by carefully looking over the cd.

First, take a gander at the band name — they’re called Ironbound NYC. If that doesn’t scream “hardcore like a bastard” then maybe the title of the album, With a Brick, will… Come on, do you see pop-punk bands naming their albums With a Brick? I don’t think so. Heck, if those two things don’t give this band’s entire sound away, then the cover should. It’s a metal gate padlocked shut with chains that would hold down the Hulk, which sure isn’t what you’d come to expect from the latest R&B sensation, now would you?

Now if, for some un-freakin-believable reason, you still can’t peg these guys as an average tough-guy hardcore band, read the song titles. Let’s see, there’s “Lies” and “Strength in Unity”. There’s also “Truth” and “Vengeance”. And For good measure they even name a track “With a Brick” after the album title. To top it off they’re signed to Thorp Records, a label known for putting out lots and lots of hardcore.

With it now fully established that this band is straight up hardcore, there’s not too much else to say, is there? I could mention that there are members of Sick of It All, Maximum Penalty, Killing Time, and Chronic Fear in the band, but that’ll only reinforce the notion that this cd doesn’t bring anything new to the hardcore genre. In fact, these guys try their damnedest to sound like they’re coming right out of the bad side of New York, circa 1990.

I realize that hardcore enthusiasts are always saying that the genre doesn’t need anything new or has no reason to change — that it just needs to keep trucking along, but if no bands in the genre ever do anything new, then what’s the point of hardcore bands even putting out records when they’re just rehashing Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags chords over and over again? Go listen to the classics instead.

Stay true to the originals. Stick to your roots. Stand firm. Live for what got you here. Stand up against the man. Kill your parents. Yadda yadda yadda. Hardcore yay!

Hey Monkey Boy

So our wonderful leader, Mr. George Bush, gave his State of the Union address last night. I remember trying to watch his previous SOTU address and distinctly recall only being able to stomach about 13 minutes of it before I was so frustrated I wanted to torture a bunny.

This time my goal was to make it past 13 minutes. I got close, but I couldn't quite do it. It was about 10 minutes into his actual speech that I just gave up and decided I would be more productively using my time by playing Doom III. At least in video games you can kill the people that are making your life so crappy. In real life you unfortunately can't. Well, you can, but the consequences don't seem all that appealing to me.

I also remember that during the last SOTU, Peter David had some wonderful commentary and this address he did the same, and I found myself laughing out loud at many of his points even though I hadn't watched the address. I could basically imagine what it was like anyways. No need to waste over an hour of my life listening to a semi-evolved ape lecture the nation on things he has no clue about.

Really, I'm still amazed at the amount of people in this country who still believe in him or even acknowledge he has an IQ greater than that of our most distant Simian cousins. Can't people feel the contempt for our nation, our people, and our freedoms that Bush has dripping off of every statement he makes? I just don't get it. Sure, the Democrats had a crappy candidate last election too, but anyone new should have been an easy choice after seeing what this ass-clown did his first four years in office.

Ugghh, I get so worked up over this crap, but there is nothing I can do to change anything. We're stuck with this moron and his cronnies until 2008. I don't think, politically, that year could get here fast enough.