Monday, April 30, 2007

Not Just Me, I See

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who has had immense amounts of frustration and never ending horror stories with everyone's favorite cable and internet provider--Comcast. According to this MSN Money article our friends in Comcast have the 3rd worst customer service according to a survey of customers.

I know I'd define my experiences with Comcast as "horrendous" on a very generous day. The incompetence of that company is dumbfounding. About a week ago, I went to watch a Twins game in the basement, but when I turned on our Comcast receiver (which we have to use to get HD channels) not a single channel came in. They all simply told me "This channel will be available shortly." I waited an hour and then called Comcast.

"I'm sorry, but somehow your account was accidentally deactivated. I will go reactivate it and you should have service returned shortly, " was the reason I was given. How do you just accidentally deactivate someone's account?

Anyways, I don't want to complain about a crappy ass cable company too much. I have plenty of other frustrating things to deal with... such as my salaried position being treated like it should be hourly, which is ridiculous, but that's a story for another day.

Friday, April 27, 2007


As I mentioned before, my Xbox 360 has recently been freezing up on me. I had hoped it was simply an overheating issue or something that could be remedied so I moved the 360 to a wide open space as well as having the power cord in an open area. My hopes were that this would prove the 360 was just overheating, in which case I would just need to make sure that my 360 was placed in an open area.

As I went to turn on my 360 after hooking it up in an open space, expecting it to run for a bit and then freeze being the worst case scenario, I was instead confronted by the three flashing lights of death. So, instead of having a system that might just be overheating, I now have a really pretty paper weight that I need to have serviced my Microsoft.

How am I going to make it? I was getting close to the end of F.E.A.R. and I'd been wanting to get started on Prey. Also, there had been some monstrous Jewel Quest ownage going on. And the 360 is how I streamed all of my music to the living room.

*Sigh* Well, I hope I can get it serviced quick and that it won't cost an arm and a leg. If it'll cost $200 or more, I'll just go buy a core system for $300 so I have a new system.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Clogged Drain Put Into Perspective

Every now and again I like to check and see what searches bring users to this site and which page people are going to. I found today that someone had recently been getting to my site by searching for "JPL Investments", which is the front company for the place I was renting last year. The page they were directed to was this one.

After going back and remembering how terrible the previous place I moved into was, having a couple of things go wrong that I can fix at my current house doesn't seem quite so bad. When I moved into my current place everything was as clean as could be imagined and everything was in great condition with only a couple more small things that needed updating. Man, my past place was sure a dump when I moved in and my landlord sucked so hard. I feel sorry for whoever might end up renting the place in the future.

The Burning Season - Onward Anthem CD Review

This past weekend, I had some of the guys over to my place to hang out since we didn't have anything better to do. While everyone was over, the weather managed to keep us inside as it started raining shortly after everyone got over. Being bored out of our minds, we decided to watch a movie and order some pizza. Before I could call in our order, however, we had to decide what the heck it was we wanted, which eventually turned out to be a sausage & pepperoni pizza, a bacon pizza, a taco pizza, and an olive & mushrooms pizza. As we were watching the movie and chomping away on our food I started thinking about all of the work we put into deciding what we wanted on our respective pizzas. In the end, we still got four pizzas, each slightly different than the other, but essentially were all pizza and anyone who likes pizza would probably eat any of the four regardless of topping. If you didn’t like pizza, however, you wouldn’t want any of them. And with that realization, we can easily identify metalcore as music’s proverbial pizza. There’s a ton of different kinds of metalcore, but in the end it’s all pretty much the same thing.

This then brings us to our pizza du jour today, The Burning Season's sophomore effort, Onward Anthem. Falling smack dab into the middle of the melodic metalcore genre, Onward Anthem is everything a fan of the subgenre could want and nothing more. Depending upon your appetite for a genre already well paved and worn over by the likes of Evergreen Terrace, Beloved, and so many, many others, you may or may not be able to stomach this album.

It’s extremely hard to review bands in this genre without making comparisons to their peers since there is so little differentiation between them all and the slight derivations each band make from the general genre template are just that -- slight. From a song structure point of view, it is very easy to hear early From Autumn to Ashes throughout the disc and most notably on tracks such as “Morse Code Romance” and “Pick Up the Pieces”. There is not as much layering of melodic and abrasive vocals as many current bands use; but instead The Burning Season utilize a segregation of song pieces, at times giving the band an unwanted split personality. This is not necessarily bad at all times since the whole “I’ll scream the same lyrics you’re singing at the exact same time” tactic ran its course a long time ago, but sometimes it does leave the songs lacking in the cohesion department. When the band sticks to just their abrasive nature, however, such as on “Dear Seductress”, they come at you firing on all cylinders.

Again, it all comes down to how much you can stomach metalcore in general, and within that broadly scoped genre, how much you enjoy your metalcore pizza topped with a few melodic vocals and the occasional guitar flairs in between breakdowns and bridges. I know that some people, no matter how often they have it, will never ever get sick of eating pizza, and it is the music listening equivalent of those people that the continual glut of metalcore releases is no doubt geared towards. If there’s people out there to keep picking up these discs off of the shelves of Hot Topic and Best Buy, then there’s no reason that labels shouldn’t keep releasing CDs from bands such as The Burning Season. Eventually, though, you have to think that there will just be too much of it out there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Falling Apart

One of my favorite jokes in high school, which I'm sure you've all heard at one point or another, went a little something like this:

"A man wakes up and gets ready to go to work. As he picks up his coffee mug, the handle falls off. When he goes to pull out a chair to sit on, one of the legs falls off. After he gets dressed, he picks up his briefcase, at which point the handle rips off. Feeling a little flustered he heads towards the bathroom, but when he tries to open the door the knob comes off in his hand. Now a little freaked out he looks at his wife and tells her, 'Honey, I'm scared to go to the bathroom.'"

Lately, I've been feeling a little like the guy in the joke. Not so much that my wang is going to fall off, but that whatever I touch I'm going to somehow break. There seems to be some type of curse hanging around me as there's been way too many things break on me for it to be just coincidence.

It starts with my refrigerator. When I moved in we had to fix the water line going to it as the piping had corroded shut. We tested it all out once we completed repairs and it looked good through and through. A couple of days later, however, I noticed a puddle in the kitchen. Apparently the line had a small leak, so I shut off the water running to it and I'll need to try messing with the gasket that seals the line.

Also in the kitchen, it appears that one of the drain pipes running from one sink and the dishwasher is completely plugged up with something because water was backing up in the sink and the dishwasher won't drain. There's no blockage in the garbage disposal, so it's got to be in the piping somewhere, which means I need to take it all apart and clean out whatever is plugged.

Not to be content with only two broken things in the house, my Xbox 360 also decided it wanted to be like so many of its brethren and give up the ghost as it gave in to experiencing the freezing problem. So far none of the solutions posed by Microsoft work so it looks like I'll need to get it serviced or buy a new one.

After the Xbox broke, I brought down the DVD player from my room to our living room so we could watch DVDs. Shortly thereafter it decided that it didn't want to play DVDs. It will play for a bit here and there, but after about 5-10 minutes it just decides to display pixelated feedback and the clock on the DVD player outputs gibberish. So now I'm out a DVD player as well.

I'm really afraid of what's going to break next. This is all on top of the TV in my room having gotten its speakers busted while it got moved from my old place to my new place. I've got a hefty dollar amount of items that I'll need to repurchase here sometime. Sucktasm.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Beer Pong King

This video is amazing. I would hate to ever be the person to have to take him on in beer pong. It would be disastrous. There were so many impossible shots in that video that I had to watch it a few times. It really puts things into perspective about how bad my roommate, Karl, and I are when we play caps. We can't hardly even through a beer cap into a cup that's 8 feet away. I think we'll have to practice more.

The Chariot - The Fiancé CD Review

Once you start straying outside of the confines of the modern rock or metal genres that are forced into your ears by the radio, Fuse, Alternative Press, and webzines more concerned with pushing their own agendas then promoting good music, you’ll find yourself exposed to all sorts of subgenres that explore every possible niche of music that you could imagine. One such subgenre you might venture into is that of noise rock or noisecore. To most, this subgenre will seem like, as the name implies, noise, but once given a chance you’ll find there is a definite pattern and method to the madness that you previously only viewed as noise. Sonic Youth, Hella, and Gore Beyond Necropsy are all wonderful examples of bands that are able to shape noise into music. Go check them out when you get a chance. They're really swell.

...and then there’s The Chariot. Plain and simple, they just make noise. To be perfectly clear, The Chariot don’t technically fall into the same subgenre as the aforementioned bands, but they do share the same type of schizophrenic nature that drives their creative process. You could most easily lump The Chariot into the same category of bands that Every Time I Die and Norma Jean occupy, but that’s where the comparisons should end. Whereas Every Time I Die create a unique start/stop, shifting brand of metalcore, The Chariot just start, stop, shift gears, do something weird, and then move on. The biggest problem that The Fiancé has is the lack of direction that nearly all of the songs possess.

Each song, at times, feels like it’s going somewhere, but yet it never reaches the endpoint that it’s shooting for. More often than not you'll get the feeling that the band simply gives up before they get where they're trying to go, leaving songs underdeveloped and lacking. This can easily be evidenced in the brevity of the majority of the 10 tracks on this effort – most of them clock in at only 2-3 minutes in length. The one song that actually feels developed is also the longest — “Then Came to Kill”. At five minutes in length and containing multiple build-ups, a gentle fadeout, and a nicely layered sound, this is what the rest of the effort should have sounded like. Unfortunately all you get with the remainder of the disc is short chunks of what could be fleshed out into full songs, if only given the chance.

Take, for example, “The Two Dead Boys”. The introduction and first “verse” of the song gallop along in a heavy metalcore style, but then the band switches gears completely, needlessly noodling around followed by a natural fadeout that could actually work as the song’s endpoint, but then they come back with squeaking, moving guitars for 30 more seconds. This last piece adds nothing to the song and ruins one of the only times a short ending felt appropriate. Are they purposely trying to annoy their listeners? It could be worse, though, it could have been a repeat of the song “They Drew Their Swords”. Or even worse, it could have been another church choir song, like the closing track “The Trumpet”. Totally out of place on this album, this song doesn’t help make the album any more digestible.

With the direction The Chariot had taken on their EP, Unsung, there was a feeling that the band was starting to decide what they wanted to do and could possibly hone their talents to create a strong, non-traditional metalcore album. Unfortunately with all of the lineup changes and an obvious focus on being more “out there”, The Fiancé falls flat and leaves the band looking like they’ve actually become less mature as time has passed.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lenient Parenting

weird car

Across the street from my new house lives, what appears to be, a nice, normal family. This isn't really anything unique in my new neighborhood as it seems like a lot of people my age and slightly older are moving into this area. Considering many people in my age group are married and started down the road of shooting out little poop creating rugrats, families kind of come with the territory. What I didn't expect was the truck, pictured above, to be something that the parents across the road let their kid (or potentially the significant other of one of the kids--the truck's not always around) drive. I have no problem with it. In fact, I think it's pretty funny looking and I get a kick out of it every time. I just didn't think there were parents who were as easy going as those across the street. Hopefully I'm able to be that lax and fun with my kids too.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Soundtrack CD Review

More than 90% of the time, movie soundtracks are nothing more than a complete waste of plastic that may have one or two decent songs on it, but in most cases those couple songs are easily available elsewhere. Glancing over the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie soundtrack track listing, it’s hard to have any amount of hope that this release will have a single redeeming song on it. Sadly, even after digging for reasons to explain this CD's existence, there are hardly even any slightly delusional positives to make note of.

It should be pointed out that there are only nine tracks on this disc that can be considered actual songs and not movie tie-ins or skits, and a couple of these songs still have tangential ties to the movie. The skits and movie related cuts are all funny enough the first time you hear them, but there is no need to ever listen to them again. Looking at each individual song, it’s easy to see that none of the bands present really turn in very strong efforts.

Mastodon contribute what can only be a joke track. At under two minutes in length and consisting of the band doing their best Megadeth mixed with hair metal impression, “Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife” is a complete waste of their talent. Following that, Early Man bring a totally throwaway stoner rock jam to the table. It’s repetitive, boring, and uninspired.

On the upside now, however, Unearth put forth a straight ahead Unearth song. “The Chosen” wouldn’t have felt out of place on either of their last two releases. It’s actually a pretty good song and provides one of the few bright spots on this overly blemished disc. The next track up, however, comes from the always lame Andrew W.K.. Why was this guy ever appealing? “Party Party Party” is two minutes of Andrew telling us he wants to party. If I would have known this kind of tripe actually sells, I could have been famous 10 times over by now.

Things get mildly more interesting with 9lb Hammer’s dirty punk tribute to Carl, the wife beater and flip flop wearing character from the movie. After that, however, Brass Castle’s “Bookworm Resin” sounds like a really bad garage band performance. You’ve all heard bar bands with better written songs. Oddly straying from the rock theme of the disc, the six minute long “Blam Blam” from Killer Mike is actually a solid reggae influenced hip hop track. It would fit in perfectly on modern hip hop radio right alongside 50 Cent and the myriad of rappers in his posse.

Rounding out the CD are cuts from Insane-O-Flex and The Hold Steady. The first contributes “I Like Your Booty (but I’m not Gay)”, a techno track that reeks of an unfunny attempt at creating a clever club cut. The latter gives you “Girls like Status”, a fairly good, straight up rock n roll tune. It’s on par with anything from their last release, but not overly impressive.

So… at the end of it all what do you have? One good metal song, one good hip hop track, a bunch of half-assed rock songs, and a bunch of movie related crap that doesn’t deserved to be spun more than once or twice. It doesn’t look very good does it? Didn’t think so. Avoid this crap and go watch the movie.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jittery and on Edge

It's almost May, folks. I'm not even kidding. As April was approaching, my internal clock was finally getting readjusted and caught up. Instead of operating feeling as though it was a month before it actually was (in February, I felt like I was still in January), March was feeling like March. With my moving, however, I've been so busy every single day of April that my body hasn't had the time to process the days going by and as I look at my calendar, seeing April over half gone already, I realize that once again my body is going into "one month behind" mode.

Because of this, I've been feeling a little extra stressed and panicky because of all that I know I have coming up here in May that I'm just not mentally ready to deal with yet because I'm still dealing with things that I should have had done here in April.

I find myself being more fidgety at night when I want to sleep. Usually it's because I'm thinking about how I'm captaining two ultimate frisbee teams this summer and the drafts are shortly upcoming (one is this Friday already), or how I have a bachelor party to go to in a couple weekends and that shortly after that I'm in that friend's wedding, or I remember that my little brother Ryan is graduating soon and that I probably won't get to see any of his senior year track meets, or that my other brother, Randy, is flying in to town (today!) and the plans changed at the last minute, with me being more inflexible than I usually am, or that I have to start planning for the vacation I'm going on with my family and that I have a vacation I need to organize and plan for my friends and myself to go on this summer (preferably to Boston), or that I still have just way too much on my plate for the few hours a night I have after I'm done with work for the day.

So I get flustered, which isn't totally terrible. Everyone gets flustered at times. The worst part is knowing I'm flustered and not being able to un-fluster myself. I'm sure I just need to keep plowing through everything and maybe by mid-summer I'll be able to readjust, but right now it's just frustrating.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A New Cube-mate

cube 006

This is my pal Bill. He has his cubicle set up inside my office which, incidentally, I found out recently will not be my residence come mid-summer -- I'm destined for cubesville myself, which will be awesome for everyone around me considering that I spend a lot of time on the phone. Whatever. Their problem, not mine.

Bill's had a hard time living in my office. First, his cube is kind of small, but so is he so I guess it works. Second, his cube walls are pretty slippery so all the stickers... err, posters that he has up keep falling off. Poor Bill. He has to keep putting them up, and he's so unproductive as it is! Also, because of his cube's position in my office, he will randomly get knocked around when I have to toss my MP3 player next to his cube... and sometimes I just flick him in the head when he pisses me off.

All in all, though, it's nice to have an office companion, even if he is of the miniature plastic inanimate type.

Down with the Ducks

Game four between the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks last night was one of the worst officiated hockey games I have ever seen. It was one long, horribly lopsided, favoritism filled game where the officials did everything they could to give the Ducks a leg up. The Wild still managed to come out on top, however. It's just too bad they weren't playing full throttle for the first three games of the series.

I was consistently dumbfounded by the boneheaded calls and non-calls the officials were making. In one instance, a Wild player (Veilleux) was pushed after a dead puck so he pushed back and was then sucker punched... by two different players, so he returned on light punch. He received a roughing penalty. Just him. No Ducks players.

In other cases, there were obvious holds, cheap hits, and generally dirty moves performed by the Ducks, yet the officials turned a blind eye. In one case, a Wild player was hit into the post on the Ducks' goal well after the play had moved to the neutral zone. It was beyond frustrating seeing the crap that got let go.

And to top it all off, Brad May laid out Kim Johnsson with a sucker punch at the end of the game, giving him a head injury. Not only did that happen, but while Huskins of the Ducks was fighting Adam Hall from the Wild, Thornton from the Ducks races in to double team Hall, ripping him down to the ground while both Huskins and Thornton beat on him.

I never thought of the Ducks as a dirty team, but after this game it is apparent that they're nothing more than a bunch of thugs. Here's to hoping Boogaard knocks the shit out of someone tomorrow night.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Since it's finally getting nice out and looks like it'll be staying nice going forward with no chance for bitter cold and snow... hopefully, I thought I'd reflect back on the ridiculousness that was the uber-snow of a couple of months ago. Thank goodness all the snow is gone now. I couldn't imagine having the couple of feet pictured below still hanging around.

snow 003

snow 001

snow 004

snow 002

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pictures from Move In Weekend

I know I promised more talk of the move, but work's been busy and so has the continued process of moving in... which mostly consists of unpacking everything and figuring out where to put it. So, since I'm rushed for time, please check out the pictures my mom took while we were moving. Click on the picture of me below to see them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Bunch of Movies

I haven't done a movie post in a long time, so I may have missed a couple, but if I forgot about them already they must not have been that memorable anyways. These will be added to the thread.

300 (9/10): Let's just get this out of the way right now--this movie wasn't meant to be a plot-heavy, story driven affair. It was created solely to display action, and tons of it. All of the visual mayhem was a treat for my action loving eyes. The choreography was stunning, especially when you take into account that many fight scenes used one camera instead of jump cutting back and forth all over the place. This small item made all the difference. And of course, there was all of the usual bad-assery to be expected from a movie of this pedigree. Solid, solid action film.

Zodiac (8.5/10): David Fincher turns in his most straight forward film in Zodiac. At over 2 and a half hours in length, this is most definitely a slow, building type of film, but rarely was I ever disinterested or felt that the movie was dragging. True facts were the basis for the story of this film, and you never once feel like a scene or conversation was overly embellished, which is often the problem with films loosely based on facts. There were also grade A performances from then entire cast, solidifying this movie as one that should be seen.

Blades of Glory (7.5/10): It might have been more appropriate to simply call the movie Talledega Nights on Ice, but that probably wouldn't have marketed as well. A lot of the same style of comedy from Will Ferrell's other movies permeates this film, which is rife with gay jokes, faux machismo posturing jokes, and Ferrell's ability to make odd phrases work. Some spots just don't come off as funny as the writers probably thought they would, but for the most part this is a big, dumb comedy.

Children of Men (8.5/10): I had extremely high hopes for this film and, for the most part, they were fulfilled. This is a film focused more on creating an atmosphere of utter hopelessness, emptiness, and dystopia than on story telling. Because of this, I let some of the plot holes go and allowed some of the unexplained parts of the movie stay unexplained. If you're not into watching movies bent on creating a mood instead of focusing on telling a story, then you might still want to check this out for no reason other than the final "chase" scene. It's a brutal, extremely well choreographed chase that is filmed completely with one camera.

The Manchurian Candidate (5/10): Denzel Washington, how about you try playing a character other than Denzel Washington sporting a different name in your next movie? Washington again plays himself as a military man who somehow uncovers a plot to put a puppet in the seat of the president. There are no real twists or turns in the movie. The one twist is overwhelmingly obvious and can be seen coming a mile away. The acting is all pretty subpar. There's just not a lot to make you want to watch, other than to keep hoping for something interesting to happen, and then it never does.

Waking Life (8/10): It's hard to call this a film when it is much more akin to a training video that could be utilized to sell inbound college students on picking philosophy as their major. Don't get me wrong, I love intelligent movies, and this is definitely one, but it is more so a smattering of philosophical ideas thrown at the viewer, which manages to raise a plethora of questions, but never really explores any of them. Used as a springboard for sparking conversation with your more intelligent movie-going buddies, this film is a complete success. You'll feel a little differently if you watch it on your own or with your dumb frat-house buddies.

Borat (7.5/10): I'm torn on this movie. Sure, there are some ridiculously hilarious parts, but the majority of the movie is just Borat being over-the-top annoying to screw with people. I'm definitely a fan of seeing people get screwed with, but at times it just wasn't that funny. Other times, however, it was great. One scene, which I'm sure will make most people cringe, involved about 10 minutes of a naked Borat wrestling a naked 400 pound Kazakstanian. I laughed my ass off the entire time. So if you're one to laugh at that type of humor, you'll love this. If not, avoid like the plague.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It Prevails - The Inspiration CD Review

After seeing the title of this album, the obvious direction to take this review is down the path of making use of the album’s name, The Inspiration, as a springboard to talk about this band’s inspirations, what other acts they sound similar to, and what they probably should have used for inspiration instead. That’s the easy route, yet it is the only logical route to take as the influences that It Prevails play to are far too strong to go without mention.

Countless comparisons have been made between the sound of It Prevails and Shai Hulud. There is some resemblance between the two bands, but it isn’t nearly as solid of a connection as some other reviews would want you to believe. This band also doesn’t sound a thing like the three bands emblazoned onto the “For fans of” sticker on the CD case — Hatebreed, Comeback Kid, and Bury Your Dead. Rise Records is marketing this band to the wrong crowd and many of the people in the press are perpetuating this off-the-cuff classification. I know that genre classifications are often subjective and can spawn message board feuds longer than The Brothers Karamazov, but it’s definitely worth pointing out that It Prevails may sound remotely like the aforementioned bands, but they are so much more similar to the wall of sound metalcore powerhouse Misery Signals and the now defunct Beloved with a little Poison the Well rounding out the edges.

Of the 10 tracks on this record, only 8 are actual songs, giving the effort a light feel, but to make up for the lack of content It Prevails did not make a single one of their songs filler material. Not one track clocks in at over four minutes, giving each an appropriate amount of intensity and immediacy. “An Anomaly”, the second longest track on the album, shifts between barraging walled-up metalcore, punishing hardcore beats, and Hopesfall inspired atmospherics without the song feeling too self indulgent or, in the other direction, underdeveloped. The transitions are seamlessly pulled off and executed flawlessly, never once leaving the impression that the band haphazardly put these songs together.

Even with their quality song writing skills on display throughout this album, the overall lack of content does affect the entire listening experience. By the time “The Inspiration” has ended, the album had just hit full stride, so there is an aura of emptiness that stems from the abrupt end to the direction that the band was traveling down on The Inspiration. Had there been a couple more songs to round out the album, this could have easily been one of the top shelf metalcore releases of this year.

It is hard to knock a band that is obviously talented and has some great song writing chops, but for possessing these abilities, they didn’t put them to enough use. The Inspriation is one hell of a building block that It Prevails should use to solidify their position in the metalcore world, and once they’ve established themselves, it is essential for the band to put all of their talent to work on their next release. If they can do that, there will be no stopping them.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I'm In

I've moved in to my new place! Saturday was the first night that I stayed there after getting most everything moved from the place I was renting in St. Louis Park to the new home in St. Anthony. There was a lot of work that was done this Easter weekend and I could have never gotten it all done without all the help from my parents who came up Friday morning and worked like a couple of madmen possessed all weekend. Right now I'm just totally exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially so it might be a little bit until I'm back to my normal routine of things, but once I get back to it, I'll be doing it while living at my new home. My new home. It's still weird to say that and think it. Crazy stuff...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Very Admirable

When Stephon Marbury was playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, I really couldn't stand the guy. He seemed arrogant, a little selfish in his playing style, and I thought he wasn't quite worth the money we were putting up to have him on the team. Needless to say, I was glad to see him go... it's just too bad we haven't been able to really have more than one good season since his leaving. Anyways, that's besides the point.

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I've been reading about Marbury's endorsed shoe line, Starbury, which sells for $14.99 a pair. I also see that Ben Wallace has jumped on board, which is sweet because I really like him as a player. What's so amazing about this sponsored line is the price. I remember when I was in high school and everyone needed to have the latest, trendy basketball shoes on our varsity team. I never got them, partially because they were so damn expensive and partially because I didn't want them. I didn't buy into the whole "you'll be better if you buy endorsed shoes" BS.

Kids today can now get Starbury's for $15! That's really crazy. I can't even get a decent pair of running shoes for less than $50. When I was in high school, the cheapest pair of basketball shoes I remember being able to find, outside of the asstastically crafted generic Kmart crap, was around $35. Where were Marbury and Wallace when I was a kid?

I hope this starts a trend in the sports endorsement world. In an article I was reading, Marbury had a wonderful quote talking about Lebron Jame's ultra expensive endorsed shoes that I think applies to all too many endorsed athletes today, "I'd rather own than be owned."

What. The. Hell.

april 5 weather

It's April for crap's sake, not January. Only in Minnesota can you have weather in the mid 80's in March, yet have snow and 4 degree wind chill in April. I thought I could pack up that winter coat for good. I guess not. Damn it's going to be a cold one moving this weekend. Who would have thought I'd be wishing not to get frostbite from being outside in April?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bloodjinn - This Machine Runs on Empty CD Review

I’ve been staring at this damn computer screen for nearly 20 minutes with This Machine Runs on Empty playing in the background, and I can’t think of anything interesting to write. My brain is struggling to formulate sentences, comparisons, witty remarks, and analytic statements to complete this review, but there isn’t anything unique coming to mind. I'm confronted with resorting to using boring, average, and uninteresting writing techniques because I have nothing else to go with... except for one thought, which is, “This must be how Bloodjinn felt when they wrote and recorded this album.”

They must have been bored or maybe simply suffering from a bad case of blandness or writer’s block, because this album is an unfortunate rehashing of all of metalcore’s staple traits. It’s not like this band is the new kid on the block trying to cut their teeth in the rock world. They’ve been around since 1999 and with this album they also have the expertise of former He Is Legend guitarist McKenzie Bell added to the mix. Yet, the only moderately interesting aspect that this band brings to the table is the ability to throw some pretty good guitar work around generic metalcore song structures.

Bell can lay down some killer leads that a lot of other metalcore axe-wielding wannabes wish they could, but once those leads are over, you’re left with a bunch of bland breakdowns, such as can be seen at the end of “Truth Within”. There’s a lot of potential for the band to rip out some ballsy metal tunes, but the addition of the already clichéd beyond belief gallops and breakdowns hold this band back. There are a few scant moments where you can hear a glimmer of Unearth styled, well crafted metalcore, but I’m not over exaggerating when I use the word “scant”.

Lead vocalist Joel Collins does his thing, but his constant straining to be diverse only shows the limits to his range. His main form of delivery is a raspy yell, but there are some screams and melody thrown in here and there as well. The problem with the screams is that they sound like a strained version of his yell and the problem with his melodies is they sound like a weak melodic take on his yell. These different approaches have a hard time truly distinguishing themselves and that gives the vocals an underdeveloped feel.

It’s not all bad, though. There are seriously a lot of bad metalcore bands out there right now. Bloodjinn are not one of them. They could be a good metalcore or metal band, but the inability to pull something truly interesting or surprising out of their collective hats leaves this album feeling weak. As mentioned before, the guitar leads are great, but some great chops alone don’t make a great album. There simply has to be something to go with them, and this album just doesn’t have it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


By the end of the morning tomorrow I will be the proud owner of my very own house in St. Anthony, Minnesota... but I will also be a heck of a lot poorer. It's a little disheartening seeing such a gigantic chunk of my savings disappearing. True, it's not actually disappearing as it will be transferred over to equity in my home (and put towards the ridiculous amount of fees for closing), but that doesn't change the fact that when I look at my brokerage account it's just a shadow of what it used to be.

This evening I have the final walk through of the home to make sure the previous owners have gotten the rest of their crap out of the place and didn't break anything while they were leaving. I hope nothing is wrong as I'd hate to have a snag this late in the game.

Now I just need to hope the housing market doesn't continue to collapse because I don't want to end up paying for a house that is continuing to lose value. I thought I was timing the market pretty good as I figured the market would turn back up a little with spring coming and then, potentially, level out. With the sub-prime woes, defaults everywhere, tons of houses already on the market, and the rest of the troubles the housing market is experiencing I am a little wary that if I had to, for some reason, sell this place in the next few years I'd end up losing a little bit of money on it.

Whatever, though. I'll worry about that later. For the time being I'm going to continue to be nervously anxious about getting into my new place.

Monday, April 02, 2007

It Dies Today, Comeback Kid, This is Hell, & Endwell Show Review

Scheduling shows to start at 5:30 on a Monday is pretty damn stupid, but it’s what you have to do when the city of St. Paul, MN has a curfew of 9:30 pm for all the little kiddies. Maybe it isn’t that big of a deal for all of the kids who get out of school at 3:00 or whenever, but for anyone who has a day job, getting done before 5:00 is usually a rarity. Needless to say, I didn’t arrive at Station 4 before Parkway Drive had already finished playing. It would have been fun to see them play, but the bills needed to be paid, so I needed to stay at work.

Once I got into the venue, I noticed that there really weren’t all that many kids there, maybe about 100 or so tops. Considering that this venue usually ends up packed for most metalcore and hardcore shows, this was a little odd. It also didn’t help any that Endwell was the first band I saw when I got there. Talk about generi-core. These guys are young, true, but that really isn’t an excuse for being so bland. I had an impossible time counting the number of times the bassist just sat there with one hand behind his back with the other just pounding the top string of his bass. I could do that. Anyone could do that. A half-brained chimp could do that. The rest of the band was just as boring, unfortunately. There’s simply no substance to Endwell’s music and their stage presence doesn’t offset this fact at all. They need practice, lots of it, and they could also use a strong dose of talent.

Following that uninspiring performance was a rousing set by This is Hell. It was like night and day watching Endwell and This is Hell. Every member of This is Hell had phenomenal stage presence. Even fighting a cold, lead singer Travis Reilly was solid. The energy the band displayed was quite impressive, especially considering they didn’t do all of the dumbass antics that so many *core bands do nowadays, such as spinning their guitars around their bodies between riffs or doing synchronized head-banging or running around like monkeys on crack. Instead they simply played, quite aggressively mind you, and oozed energy out onto the crowd. So much so that a fight erupted in the pit, which caused the band to take a quick break near the end of their set. They chastised the meatheads, and rightfully so, but did it very lightheartedly instead of trying to be even more meatheaded as some hardcore bands are prone to do. After the fighting morons were broken up, This is Hell finished off their set with one last song. Unfortunately, having to pause the action like they did, you could tell they had a hard time kicking it down again for their last song. Barring that setback, This is Hell had a great set.

By the time This is Hell were in the middle of their set, the venue had filled out a little more, mostly in anticipation of the home area heroes Comeback Kid. As soon as they stepped on stage, the crowd swelled to the front and a solid core of about 25 kids were crawling all over themselves to get up to the top of the pile to sing along. Comeback Kid fed off of this energy and, in turn, used just as much to get the crowd churning even more. Playing a solid mix of older favorites and new material, the 40 minutes that Comeback Kid played was rock solid, well, except for a small break in the action to replace some broken guitar strings. It wasn’t too big of a deal as it gave the kids in the crowd some time to re-energize. Ending their set with “Wake the Dead”, the place went off and the concert hit the highest point of the night.

With Comeback Kid’s set done, the majority of the people at the show took off and left, leaving a tiny group of maybe 50 to 75 kids for headliners It Dies Today. The band just doesn’t have the draw they used to. A year ago when It Dies Today rolled through town, they filled out a 300+ sized venue. For this show they had a small fraction of that and this was not lost on the band. For their entire set, it was apparent that they were less than thrilled by most of the people having left, and I think they ended up cutting their set list short as they only played about 35-40 minutes and, for a headliner, that’s pretty short. The new vocalist was adequate, although it was easy to see that he was still getting acclimated. The rest of the band felt sloppier than the last time they came through, but at least the couple of songs from Sirens that they played sounded a ton better live than they do on disc. This band just isn’t the same as they were a year ago. Personally, I think they’ll be broken up within another year.

Maybe the pairing up of two metalcore bands in It Dies Today and Endwell with a couple of hardcore bands in This is Hell and Comeback Kid wasn’t the best idea in the world for a tour, maybe not, but this tour felt a little disjointed. Still, Comeback Kid and This is Hell played a couple of great sets and I would recommend seeing them if you get the chance, but I would wholeheartedly urge you to skip Endwell and avoid It Dies Today if you’ve ever seen them before. They’re nothing more than a shadow of the band they used to be.

Show photo coverage here