Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why's Everybody Gotta Be Pickin' On Me?

Apparently this week's Decoy Music Listening Station is all about making fun of me. Check it out, y'all, it'll be good for a laugh. I know that image above is. Ick, why did I ever think that was a good image for this website? On a side note, there's some good music picks to listen to at the link, so check them out too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Math... *Shudder*

Calculus II and Discreet Math in college sucked major ass. Most of the time, if I could, the above would have been my answer as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Guess What?

I'm closing on my house next week and moving. That means little writing from me in that time. To make it worse, work is also far from being normal paced. So yeah, apologies ahead of time... for all the added boringness.



And that's why I don't go to Fox for my news. Thanks, Crooks & Liars for the great screenshot.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Would Have Been Nice to Find Him in a Box

A little while ago, I posted about a nasty piece of animal cruelty. Thankfully, they managed to find the sick bastard that was responsible. I'm curious what he'll get tried for and, if convicted (which he damn well better be) what his sentence will be. I know a beheading of him would be a little much to ask, but I'd push for it.

Witches with Dicks - Manual CD Review

Witches. With dicks. There’s something wrong with that. Not in the “oh my God, that’s so crass” type of way. In the “that’s totally an impossibility there, buddy” type of way. You see, witches are female. Witches with dicks are called Warlocks. Seriously, all the D&D and WoW (which stands for World of Warcraft if you're a non-dork) nerds tell me so. There can be no penises on witches because if there are, then they aren’t witches anymore. It’s like naming your band XOpen-Minded ChristiansX — it’s an oxymoron. But then again, I heard oxymorons are cool, so I’ll let it slide… but just this once.

Sporting an oxymoronic band name, having songs titled “Your Job Does Not Rock Balls”, “Fuck All Lindseys”, and “Skate or Die Two is Going to be Awesome when It Comes Out”, and being on Kiss of Death Records you could bet your next year’s paycheck that this band was either going to be playing straight up punk or hardcore. And if you would have made that bet, you most definitely would have won, which would have been ri-cock-ulously awesome for you... but probably would have sucked monstrously hard for the other guy. Anyways, Witches with Dicks fall into the Dillinger Four and Pennywise class of punk — straight ahead, a little grimy & gritty, and sporting just enough abrasive attitude to make you think about growing your faux-hawk back.

The one surprising thing about this release, unexpected or not, is the nature of the lyrics. With the Fall Out Boy-esque song titles, I expected to read through the lyrics and find amateurish attempts to be witty and tongue-in-cheek. In actuality, the lyrics are more standard punk fare than they are witty, dealing mostly with being true to yourself, not worrying about fitting in, rebelling against the establishment, and all those other great topics from the punk canon. Nothing too original, true, but it was not exactly what was expected and that's got to count for something.

With only 10 songs, most only clocking in at around 2 minutes, this release isn’t exactly a lengthy listen. When listening to punk bands this is sometimes a good thing, while at other times it is, well, kind of bad. Look at Rancid, for example, and how they cram 20 or more tunes on most of their releases. How many of those releases do you think could have used some fat cutting? About all of them. Then again, when a punk release only has about 15-20 minutes of music, it does feel a little lax. Heck, that’s not even enough music to play a full live set when you think about. Witches with Dicks would most definitely have benefited from bulking up this release with a few more songs, but as it stands, 20 minutes is pretty solid… especially considering if they added a few more songs they might have been even more apt to ape the Dillinger Four sound than they already do.

While not being a stellar straight up punk record, Manual also is far from bad. You could do a lot worse… like Good Charlotte worse, but it’s pretty much a given that any moron even contemplating buying Good Charlotte's albums wouldn’t know what to do with a real punk album like this anyways. Digressions aside, if you’re still listening to punk punk, then Manual is a solid addition to your rotation. No lies.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sanity Keepers

If not for Gummi Bears, I think I might, at times, go outright insane at work every now and again. Thank God for Gummi Bears...

Genius Metalheads

Jared pointed out this article to me today. It deals with the stereotype given to most kids who listen to heavy metal music, that they're delinquents and that they aren't too smart. Reading through it, I fail to see it adequately debunking the given stereotypes, but it also doesn't reinforce them. It simply shows that musical preference really doesn't have much to do with academic aptitude.

So they find that out of a bunch of smart kids, some listen to metal, some listen to pop, some R&B, and some other stuff. Ok. Big deal. Survey a bunch of average kids and you'll see the same thing. Then survey a bunch of dumb-ass morons and you'll probably see much of the same. Sure there will be more emphasis on different genres based upon which group you're looking at, but I don't think there is a correlation between musical preference and intelligence.

It's cool that they're saying that there can be smart kids who listen to metal, but it feels very unscientific and it also seems like they're simply looking for the results they're getting and are making correlations where there really aren't any.

Anyways, I love metal and it's what I predominantly listen to. I was also our school's valedictorian. Did metal make me smarter? Heck no. It was all in the genes I was given, the upbringing I had, and the appeal of academia to me. Music is entertainment, not a study aid.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Creeping Death

So it was my birthday over the weekend. Don't know if any of you knew. March 18th. The day of the year I magically get one year older. I'm up to 26 now. Crazy, huh? It's definitely a little daunting for me. I've now lived up over half of my 20's. The first 6 years of my 20's kinda flew by in a jiffy if you ask me. Now I'm only 4 years away from that life changing moment of turning 30. Won't that be scary as all get out.

Throughout the 25th year of my life I actually managed to do quite a bit when I think back on it. I got a new job, which I've almost been at for a year now. I made the move to Minneapolis. I rented my first house for a year. I played my first year of summer league ultimate frisbee. I searched for houses and signed a purchase agreement on my first ever home purchase. I traveled internationally for the first time (to Mexico). I made numerous trips to Chicago and New York. I took a vacation to Jamaica. I did a lot.

Yet I also remembered to do all the lazy stuff too. I had plenty of days where I got done with work and did nothing but sit around and watch TV, play video games, or geek out reading comics. It's good to have a balance between doing milestone activities and doing the mundane. Too much of either and I think I may have gone nuts.

What does year 26 hold? I'm not too sure, but I can guess that it'll entail my moving into my first owned house, playing another summer of ultimate frisbee, simultaneously liking, hating, tolerating & enjoying my job, and maybe a nice vacation or two, hopefully to Boston or California or Idaho. We'll see. It should definitely be eventful, I know that much.

Itchy Pants

Yeah, I know no one really cares, but I think I'm allergic to my pants or something. That and I think they hate me. I'm wearing a nice pair of black Dockers since work doesn't ever let me dress in clothes other than business wear and all day I've found my legs itchy as hell, like the pants were made from rough wool or twine instead of cotton.

On top of that, the button in the front of my pants snapped in half. I think this is actually the second time I've done that to a pair of pants. How does that happen? Am I simply incalculably strong or are buttons just extra crappy nowadays?

So here I sit at my desk in a pair of pants with half a button, itching my thighs every few minutes in the hopes that it'll eventually stop itching if I just scratch it a little bit more. It never works. So I closed the door to my office so people don't think I'm some sort of freak. Screw dress pants.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Mondays are usually not the greatest day of the week to begin with, but this morning was extra suck-filled. Like usual, I got up, got ready for the day, and grabbed my wallet, keys, blackberry and MP3 player on my way out to catch the bus. Oddly as I grabbed my wallet, when it opened momentarily on its way into my back pocket, something looked different.

Usually I'd chalk it up to still being half asleep that something looked weird, but I thought I'd check it out. The weirdness was my bus pass in the front of my wallet. I pulled it out only to see that it wasn't actually my bus pass--it was an expired transfer pass. Somehow, some way, on Thursday when I took the bus home, the pass reader ate my recently opened $40 bus pass and spit back out a transfer pass to me.

Lucky I noticed before I went down to the bus stop or else I'd have looked pretty dumb trying to get on the bus and realizing that I don't have a pass. And considering the money thingermabob on the bus doesn't give change and I only have 10's in my wallet, I'd have had to walk back home and drive in. As it is, I still got stuck driving in and losing about $35 in unused bus passes. So that was a wonderful start to my morning. Dammit.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sick and Twisted

I've been trying to figure out how to make a post about this news story, but I really don't have much to say about it other than that I can't believe that there are human beings out there that somehow find enjoyment in doing something this depraved. I had a hard time reading through the entire thing. I love animals. Like, a lot. I have a hard enough time kicking my cats off of my blanket when I need to go to bed that I can't image what type of seriously disturbed psychopath it would take to do such a thing to someone's pet.

Nahemah - The Second Philosophy CD Review

Metal kids have it rough. When they get down in the dumps, when the world is treating them like shit, when they just want to reach out to the nothingness of the sky above and let the tears roll, they don’t have a soundtrack to accompany their emotional woes. Emo kids have all their whiny, cry-baby bands to comfort them while they cut themselves in their bedrooms. The pretentious indie kids can toss on some Coldplay or Radiohead and jot down their feelings in stream of consciousness, bullshit journals. Pop-punk kids crank up their favorite bands' ballads and skateboard in loneliness. So what do metal kids get to listen to? There are no sad Pantera songs, no melancholic Meshuggah albums, or any depressing In Flames tunes. How are metal kids supposed indulge their angst? By embracing The Second Philosophy, that’s how.

Nahemah offer up a depressing combination of European doom metal, Depeche Mode influenced synths and song structures, and hearty, melodic undertones. Couple this combination with a mature mixture of early Isis styled growls and tender, mid-tenor melodic vocals and you have a very potent breed of doom metal. What’s most surprising about how good this release sounds is that, frankly, this band didn’t used to be very good. In the five years since their previous full length, this band has grown up, learned the intricacies of astute song-writing, taken on a few post-rock leanings, and gelled as a strong, cohesive unit.

The unique aura of melancholy and anguish that permeates the album is something you won’t find outside of a few select Opeth records and a Dark Tranquility song or two. Even when the band momentarily accelerates their usually slow tempos, such as on the song “Change”, the underpinning of the song is still one of expressing deep, heartfelt emotion. The mix of fluttering keys and angular, migrating guitars overlaid with alternating melodic and guttural vocals leaves you in a state of open-minded wondering, not so much in regards to the song, but about the emotions and thoughts elicited by the aural soundscape confronting you. Before the song’s seven plus minutes have completed, you’ll know that this is a band that knows how to pull emotion out of a listener.

Heart wrenching longing and enlightened despair do occasionally give way to a few slightly more upbeat emotional passages, but mostly only in the track “Subterranean Airports” which shows the band creating a small light at the end of their deep, dark tunnel. Before they let you reach that expansive daylight, however, the band rips into “Phoenix”, a sleazy, saxophone tinted journey that conjures up images of high class dive bars filled with their dingy patrons, drinking stiff drinks and wishing for nothing more than to rise up out of the refuse they’ve come to call their life.

When the hour that is The Second Philosophy draws to a somber close, you’ll know you’ve stumbled upon something special. This is the soundtrack to your darkest days, your hours of heartbreak, your weeks of depression, and your times of hurt. So rarely do bands manage to capture a single feeling in their music, let alone an entire emotional spectrum. Nahemah have not only grappled with the Herculean task of infusing true emotion into their music, but have succeeded at it, leaving them to reside in a very select class of musical artists.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mapping Runs

Knowing that I have a 10K race staring me down in July, and with the recent influx of moderate weather here in Minnesota, I've been trying to start shedding the pounds so that I can then start working on getting into race condition. The month of March is currently dedicated to simply trying to shed about 5-10 pounds. I can feel the extra winter jiggle with every stride I take, so I know I need to get rid of that before I can actually focus on training.

So far I haven't gone over a 5K run for a workout. I've been sticking with running a strong, moderately quick paced 2.5 to 3 miles a night this week. Living in town, it's sometimes hard to know exactly how far you're going, but I stumbled onto Running Map the other day and now use it to map out different routes to vary things, yet keep my distance consistent. Some of my favorite routes are below, in case anyone cares or lives in St. Louis Park.
Once I get moved in April to my new place, this site will come in extra handy as I'll have to devise all new routes to run.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Really, REALLY Bad Movies

When wondering how good a movie is, I often consult Rotten Tomatoes to see what critics have said about it. At times I agree with the general consensus of the critics listed and at other times, I don't. It is usually a pretty decent barometer to gauge expectations when going into a film. Interestingly, RT has recently posted a list of their 100 worst rated films. Needless to say, this intrigued me, not just because I wanted to see what movies got panned the worst, but to see how many I've actually seen.

In the past, I had a habit of going to see really crappy looking movies for the MST3K factor. I don't do this as much any more because I don't have as much free time blow on movies that really don't deserve to be watched by anyone... ever. Looking over the list, however, I was surprised to see that I've only actually seen 11 of the 100 worst rated movies. And out of the top 10, I had only seen one--Half Past Dead, coming in at number 10. Kind of disappointing, actually.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Video Game Nostalgia

As I'm packing up and getting ready to move in a few weeks, I've been deciding what I really need to keep and what I don't. I've always been a big fan of the "if you don't need it, get rid of it" attitude. Some people believe in keeping everything, but I think that if you're not using something or don't really ever plan to, you should get rid of it.

In doing a run through of what I want to get rid of, I decided that I'd sell all of my old Xbox games that I don't (or can't) play on my Xbox 360 any more. As I was listing them on Yahoo Auctions, I found myself feeling a little nostalgic about certain games. They had memories attached to them that I somehow felt I was selling away. That and some games I never got a chance to play because I gave my Xbox away when I bought my 360 and certain games have just never been made compatible with the 360.

For example, I listed Unreal Championship 2 with some real pangs of guilt. It was a great game that I never got to play as much as I wished I could have. It was also a gift from a close friend so it's kind of hard seeing it listed for sale, but the truth is I haven't been able to play it and probably won't be able to.

I'm a little bit mad that I have to sell Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. I bought this game only a few days before I gave my Xbox away without realizing that it wasn't compatible with the 360. I've never actually gotten a chance to play it. Ever. And I really wanted to, despite the somewhat mediocre reviews.

Another game that falls into that category is Mech Assault 2. I loved the first, bought the second but didn't get around to playing it right away, and now I'm kind of mad I didn't. I just didn't have the time at the time.

There are many others that I'm selling that I hate to part with, but since the Xbox 360 team hasn't created emulation for them yet and I don't own an Xbox, I'm not going to get to play them. And I also have plenty of 360 games that are on my list to play in the all to infrequent free time I have. I'm only now making good progress into F.E.A.R. After that Prey and Call of Duty 3 are on my "to play" list.

I, again, feel like I'm somehow making another grown up step by admitting to myself that I don't have as much time to play video games any more. It had to happen eventually, didn't it?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Not a Competitor

Anyone out there use Blockbuster Online's movie rental service? I haven't as I'm a loyal Netflix subscriber. It seems like some Blockbuster Online subscribers aren't getting any movies. This would seem about in line with how this company usually works. One of the reasons I moved to using Netflix was the crappiness of Blockbuster stores in St. Cloud and Rochester. The stores were run by idiots, staffed by idiots, never had niche titles, and were usually out of many popular new releases. This often left you to pick out something from crappy-ass, second-rate new releases and crappy-ass, second-rate, old releases.

Joining Netflix was like having a cornucopia of movies magically, instantly available to me. I was able to queue up just about any movie I could think of and get it within a week. For the most part, Netflix still meets my expectations, but there have been some blemishes starting to appear on the once supermodel gorgeous Netflix.

For one, it's ridiculously hard to get new releases. For example, I've had Hollywoodland at the top of my queue since before it was released and I still haven't gotten it. And I'm sure that my #2 movie, Babel, will be on there forever. I'm sure a lot of this has to do with their ever expanding user base, but it gets kind of frustrating when I never get to see the top 5 or so movies in my queue.

I've also found that certain niche titles are also impossible to get a hold of. For example, I had the Whose Line is It Anyways 2 disc set in my queue since it came out at #3 and #4 and I only just got it this last week. It's not a popular title, but obviously held some niche value so it was hard to get.

The final thing that's been getting to me is the sometimes slow turnaround. In years past the day that Netflix received my movie, the next one in my queue would be in the mail. Now it is routine to not have my next movie sent out until the day after the movie I sent in is received. This is annoying not only for the fact that it is slower for me to get movies, but because they'll often receive a movie I send in on Friday and since they don't mail things out on Saturday, I have to wait until Monday for them to even send it.

Anyways, these quibbles aside, it still seems like Netflix is mopping the floor with Blockbuster Online, and I hope they continue to, but Netflix shouldn't rest up atop their throne. Pretty soon a company not nearly as inept as Blockbuster will come along to show them a thing or two.

That's Where All My Money Went

I've always thought of Minnesota as a nice, reasonable place to live. There seem to be plenty more well off people in this state than those that aren't. Minneapolis doesn't really have a ghetto area like most other similar large cities (I'm looking at you Detroit, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and the like). Our businesses are booming, especially with the headquarters of Target, US Bank, and Wells Fargo being based here as well as many other up and coming companies such as Medtronic. So, surprisingly, but maybe not so much so, I was a little disheartened to find that out of all 50 states, we Minnesotans pay the 4th most amount of taxes.

I probably should have guessed that since we're quite well off in this wonderful, arctic state that we'd also be more heavily taxed, but I didn't think we'd finish fourth on the list for paying the most. On average nearly 12% of a Minnesotan's income goes to taxes. What sucks even more, depending upon how you look at it, I guess, is that I most definitely pay well above the average. This is good because it means I make a decent amount of money, enough to get by, but it also means I'm stuck giving more of it to Uncle Sam, funding crap I don't believe in.

So where does your state lie on the list?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Training Time

I've got about 4 months to be in race shape. On July 14th, I'll be participating in the Life Time Fitness Triathlon. Now I won't be doing this alone. No, I'm going to be doing the 10K run portion of the triathlon as I am doing the triathlon as a part of a team. Since I can't swim, there's no way I'll ever be able to do a triathlon all on my own, but it'll be fun to be a part of a team competing in it.

I participated on a short course triathlon in college, which was pretty fun, so it'll be interesting to be a part of a long course triathlon. I'm going to try to use the triathlon as a spring board for me to continue training throughout the summer to hopefully participate in a half marathon at the end of the summertime. I did one while I was back in college, but never thought about doing another one. Considering most weeks I only run a total of about 10-15 miles, I think I'll need to step up my workout routines and focus more on running than on lifting.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pictures of the New House

Front of the house

I've finally uploaded some of the pictures that my mom took of my new house while my family came up to look at it. You can check them out here. Now these are from when I was still looking at the house while it was on the market, so there's still some junk in the house that will get cleaned out before I close in April.

What's really getting to me right now is the waiting. I made my first ever trip to the gigantic Ikea by the Mall of America and got way too many ideas for what I want to do, considering the place will be mine and not a rented property or my parents' house, or a friend's house. I can actually do things that I want to do instead of having to leave the place how it is. It's pretty awesome... although I know I'll have to watch the check book because I'll no doubt be tempted to go overboard.

I know that there are a couple of things that need to be done as soon as we get in, but not really too much. One of the main floor bedrooms needs painting as some of it has come off the walls where it looks like things were taped to it. The master bedroom could also be painted because the color isn't all that great and the painting along the corners looks kind of half assed. The only other thing that needs to be done is the installation of a garbage disposal on the kitchen sink, which shouldn't be too tough (I hope). And if the water quality isn't up to snuff we'll need to put in a water softener, but from looking at the bathrooms, kitchen, and appliances, it seems like the previous owners have had great water without using a water softener.

With my closing only a little under a month away, I've got to start packing up my stuff into boxes and portable containers. It's going to be nice to be somewhere that I can plan on staying for as long as I like instead of moving every year or so. I can actually feel at home. It's a big step. I'm growing up... maybe.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Bunch of Movies

I've managed to watch a tad bit more than a couple of movies the last few weeks, so here's the rundown of what I saw so that I can add them to the movie review thread.

Employee of the Month (6/10): I didn't expect much going into this movie so I was probably able to tolerate it a little more than I usually would. The previews make it seem like a comedy, but it's really not. It is more of a romantic comedy, which unfortunately keeps Dane Cook pretty tame. I know there's a lot of hate out there for the guy, but I manage to tolerate him all right. He did a decent enough job in this movie playing the guy trying to get the girl yet stay a part of the "guys group" at work. Jessica Simpson, however, was as bland and worthless as usual. Again, the only reason she probably got the part were her plastically fake face and boobs. In the end, however, this is a passable date movie that won't offend, but won't impress either.

The Prestige (9/10): Christopher Nolan has done it again. His ability to present time shifting, keep-you-guessing, interesting pieces of work pays off in this film about two magicians in a constant battle to one-up one another. The building hate, tension, espionage, and one-upping that drives both Christian Bale's and Hugh Jackman's characters definitely pays off in the end. Even though there are many subtle clues to the ending tossed throughout, if you aren't trying to put the pieces together, the end gives you a great reveal to what has been happening throughout the film. The performances all around were great, except for a phoned in bit of acting by Scarlett Johansson. This deserves at least one watching if not a couple.

The Illusionist (7.5/10): This film was very similar in nature to The Prestige in that it focused on magicians, revenge, and a mystery that leads to a big reveal at the conclusion of the movie. In many ways it pales when compared to The Prestige, but if graded on its merits alone, it is a relatively good film. Edward Norton, as is usually the case, turns in a great performance. Jessica Biel is a bit wooden, but conveys her character well enough. What really drags the movie down is the final third of the film as it ventures into topics of mysticism, which doesn't actually play into the story of the film all that well, especially when the big reveal comes at the end. After the big reveal, the final third of the film feels almost pointless, but nonetheless it set the correct mood for the ending. With a few changes, this film could have been much more entertaining than it was, but as it stands you could definitely do worse.

Slither (7/10): I really don't know how to classify this movie. It's definitely a horror movie... but it's also a comedy, which isn't a unique combination... but it's also has a mix of sci-fi and police drama added in and in the second half of the film it goes from horror movie to zombie flick. Thankfully Nathan Fillon puts on a good performance, the special effects are decent, and the story is over-the-top enough to keep you constantly rolling your eyes and laughing all the while squirming in your chair. It's a big, dumb, hokey, movie that was made for the sole purpose of vegging out to it, so if you go into it with that attitude, you won't be disappointed.

Find Me Guilty (7/10): Chop off about a half an hour or at least 20 minutes from this movie's run time and you'd have a solid film. At its current length of over 2 hours, it felt a little bit stretched out and as interesting of a character as Vin Diesel plays, it's hard to keep interested in some parts. The story, based upon the landmark trial of Jack DiNorscio, is definitely an interesting one, but I found myself having a hard time caring about the characters. Even the wise-cracking Diesel was only lovable to a point. That being said, there wasn't really anything outright wrong with the film - it was quite well done - I just had a hard time getting into it.

Little Miss Sunshine (8.5/10): If a family like this exists in real life, I'd pay to be a fly on the walls of their home. This story about a family, consisting of a little girl who isn't quite beauty pageant material, her trying to be a good mother mom, her motivational speaking father, her cocaine snorting & foul mouthed grandfather, her brother who hates everyone and has vowed never to speak, and her suicidal gay uncle, taking a road trip to the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant is one that is darkly funny and tremendously interesting. At times surreal and at others very down to earth, this film is a wonderful piece of modern comedy.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Actually Winter

snowy weather

Finally, some actual winter weather. For living in Minnesota, there sure wasn't a lot of that fabled snowy, cold weather this year. Sure we had a snap of really cold days where it got to 40 below zero, but there wasn't any real snow to go with it, which makes the cold just ridiculous rather than welcome. This last week, finally, our wonderful northern state has been blessed with some snowfall.

I should clarify that I hate shoveling snow, I hate walking through snow, I hate driving in snow, and I really don't particularly love snow... except for when it's coming down. It's beautiful. And right now it's snowing outside and I can't help but find myself gravitating to the windows at the outside of my office building so that I can catch a glimpse.

There's something about watching the snow swirl through the air on its eventual trip downward to the ground below. The last day or two I've felt a little down and a little stressed, but standing by the window, watching the snow move in its magical patterns has helped me to clear my mind, to focus less on worrying, and to remember the simple things that are out there. If you get a chance, go watch the snow. I don't care how busy you might be. Go watch the snow. It's magnificent.