Monday, July 30, 2007

The 400 blows

Hey, it's a milestone -- this post you're reading here is number 400. Only took me a little more than four years. Four hundred posts, four and a half years -- about 90 posts a year, which is one every four or five days. Not a bad average, considering there have been a few months-long stretches where I posted nothing at all. (It hasn't been hurt by the last few months, when I've been averaging better that a post a day. Yay for high-speed internet access!)

This easily ranks as my longest-running writing endeavor; every other long-term project has been abandoned well before the four-year mark. Even Revolver is only two years old. (Ten episodes, two years. That average sucks.)

Thank you for reading. And at this rate, I'll be at 500 by Halloween.

(If you'd like to bask in some jwalkernet Greatest Hits nostalgia, you can read these two posts from December of 2005. They're probably my favorites.

Lucky, Conclusion (?): The Ancient Wisdom of the Orient.)

Oh, dear

I've mentioned Heroes: Origins before -- you know, the new spinoff that'll be airing this season on NBC, telling one-off little pieces about new characters.

They made an announcement regarding it at Comic-Con.

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 7/29/07

1. "Sell Sell Sell," Barenaked Ladies
A theatrical song about a theatrical actor hitting the big time. It's also noteworthy for implying that a government would start a war in the Middle East to divert attention away from itself. This song being from 2000.

2. "Stand Up (For It)," Dave Matthews Band
In which the phrase "stand up!" is repeated about 384 times. It's a groovy enough song, don't misunderstand me, but jeez -- "Stand up! Stand up! Stand up! Stand up! Stand up!" Kill me.

3. "The Real Slim Shady," Eminem
On this single, Em gives a shout-out to his buddy Fred Durst. He would later devote almost an entire track, a B-side called "Girls," to eviscerating the guy. Even his friends hate him.

4. "The Lonely End of the Rink," The Tragically Hip
The Hip have more songs about hockey than I can count off the top of my head. This is one of the better ones. But then, they're all one of the better ones.

5. "You," Radiohead
The first track from Pablo Honey, their first album. This was back when they merely a post-grunge Britpop band, and not the Greatest Band in the World. Thankfully, that transformation would begin on their next album, because Pablo Honey isn't very good. This song isn't bad, though.

6. "Alice Childress," Ben Folds Five
The ghostly Alice Johnson (later Alice Wright), my favorite NPC ever, was named from this song. A stunning number of NPCs from that chronicle had their names taken from Ben Folds songs -- Zack, Sarah, Katherine, Stan, and a few others. You'd never believe me if I told this was a coincidence, would you? (And while "Alice's Restaurant" was the song used to introduce Alice, that didn't occur to me until after I'd named her.)

7. "Welcome to the Machine," Pink Floyd
One of the most menacing songs I've ever heard. The lyric "Where have you been?/It's all right, we know where you've been" used to creep me the fuck out when I was kid. Still does, actually.

8. "Get in the Ring," Guns N' Roses
Okay, lots of rock bands have mean things written about them in the press. Comes with the territory. And lots of songwriters take aim at the press, fighting back at them in song. Hey, gotta that aggression out somehow, right? Nothing wrong with firing back. Only Axl Rose, though, would write a song fighting back at the press and then call out those reporters by name. And then challenge them to a fight. "You wanna antagonize me? Antagonize me, motherfucker! Get in the ring, motherfucker! And I'll you bitchy little ass, punk!" Axl is possibly the whiniest shithead on Planet Earth. Oh, and that new GN'R album? The one we were absolutely promised in 2006? Still nothing. Thanks, Axl.

9. "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite," R.E.M.
During the writing for their masterwork, Automatic for the People, it occurred to the band that perhaps the album was a little too somber. As a remedy, they decided to write something deliberately upbeat -- the result was this song, in which they mixed "The Lion Sleeps Tonite," Dr. Seuss, Nescafe, "kiss my ass," and a pay phone into a stew so ludicrously pleasant that Michael Stipe can be heard giggling while singing one of the choruses. It's a wonderful song, even though the band later admitted on their greatest hits collection, "Maybe we went a little too upbeat."

10. "This Is the Thrilling Conversation You've Been Waiting For," Harvey Danger
You remember Harvey Danger, yeah? "Flagpole Sitta"? One-hit wonder back in 1997, thereabouts? Well, they kept releasing albums, and they're all phenomenal -- this song is from King James Version, which was almost a success back in 2000 when it was released, but fell victim to record label mergers and such. Too bad.

Never mind -- apparently, it's just the Bush administration

What did I say yesterday about Ensberg being so bad that he was guaranteed a job? Yeah, evidently he's even worse than that: the Astros just let him go.

Well. Can't blame 'em. Though it's sad to watch him go. I just don't see how he could still fit in with the club. They just couldn't take anymore of his poor performance.

He lets a lot of good pitches go by, see.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Well, that solves all our problems, then, doesn't it?

Failed Astros closer Dan Wheeler has been sent packing to baseball's Elephant Graveyard, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, in exchange for mild-hitting third baseman Ty Wigginton. This gives us one less inconsistent reliever and yet another third baseman.

We've got him for the rest of this season and the next two, which is good -- it won't be like the last time we got a third baseman from the Devil Rays, when we saw Aubrey Huff leave after only a few months. But I'm not sure Ty will be the final puzzle piece we'll need next season. (Yeah, next season. We're twelve games under .500, this season's long since over.)

But you know who has to be more than a little worried? Morgan Ensberg. You can't tell me they'd trade one of their favorite relief pitchers for a third baseman if they planned on giving the Voyeur a spot next year.

Of course, he has nothing to worry about. He's so fucking bad that he can't be traded anywhere. Baseball may be the only job in the country where truly despicable job performance actually guarantees you job security.

That, and working for the Bush Administration.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oh, there's a joke in there about the episode where Spock's brain was stolen, but I'm in too much of a hurry to come up with it myself

Zachary Quinto, whom you know better as the brain-eating serial killer Sylar on Heroes, will be playing Spock in next year's new Star Trek movie. As will Leonard Nemoy, apparently.

This is acceptable.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I've been saying this shit for years

I found this today -- a website that proves Nickelback's laziness and incompetence by playing their first two really big hits -- "How You Remind Me" and "Someday" -- simultaneously. The difference, it turns out, is negligible. It's hilarious.

This is why I love having a camera

Tommy hated taking me to the movies.

Well, that's not exactly true -- he seemed to love taking me to see shitty movies, because of the delight he'd get from watching me squirm during their running time and growl afterwards. But there was a part of it that bugged him whenever I'd go off on some crappy movie we'd sat through.

"You always go looking for things to complain about," he'd say. He'd accuse of me of going out of my way to find plot holes and such, reasons to denounce the movie as bad.

Not true. I just notice those things.

At Job Number One, Airfon will often hand me a new piece of paper that's come into the building and say, "What's wrong with it?" Inevitably, I'll find something.

Again, I don't typically look for these things. I just see them. And it bugs me.

Moreover, I don't see how someone can not see them. Take this sign I saw this morning, for instance:

AJ's sign - cropped

Obviously, a spelling error. A simple transposition. But it bugs me. How can no one notice? Or notice, but not tell those responsible to fix it? Or do those responsible know, and not care? (This is to say nothing of the fact that that should probably say chopped beef on the second line; I'm willing to excuse things like that on a marquee, when you have limited space.)

But then there are signs like the one I'm about to show you.

Now, I didn't go looking for anything wrong when I passed by this sign the first time. But I noticed something just the same. And then I noticed something else wrong with it. And then....

This sign, for those of you familiar with the geography of Dickinson, is located at the corner of Deats and Nichols, just past the railroad tracks. Delivering pizza, I pass this sign several times a day. So I get a chance to look at it a lot.

Berry Field sign - cropped

Seems perfectly innocuous, doesn't it? But this sign was made by crazy people.

About the only thing right on this sign is the name of the company and its contact information. That, and the arrow -- if you follow the arrow, you will find the Berry Field subdivision.

  1. You forgot the $ before 0 DOWN. This is petty, yes. But...
  2. Yes, that says $500 MOVIE-IN. I don't know what a movie-in is. (I guess they meant move-in. But still, I don't know.)
  3. "HWY 517 WEST" -- FM 517 is not a highway. It's a farm market road, hence FM 517. The difference is irrelevant perhaps, but it's still wrong.
  4. Furthermore, FM 517 West is on the other side of town. Several miles away from Berry Field. Berry Field is on Nichols, which is off of FM 517 East. I know this, because I live on FM 517 East. Also, I'm not an idiot and I can read.
  5. Lest you think that "west" is indicative of where you should go from 517 to get to Berry Field, I can stop that right here -- Berry Field is north of 517.
  6. And furthermore, to turn left on Nichols from 517 and get to Berry Field, you'd have to be going east, not west.
  7. So. It tells you to turn "LEFT ON NICHOLS." Except the sign is on Nichols, not on 517, and it faces Deats. If you turn left on Nichols from where the sign is, you'll go the wrong direction. In order to turn left on Nichols and get to Berry Field, the sign would have be about half a mile away. Do that, though, and the arrow would be pointing the wrong direction.
Somebody designed this piece of advertising. Someone else made it. It was shipped. It was put in its place. And no one noticed, "Hey, everything on this sign is wrong!"

And these people want to build you a house.

No, thank you.

Yes yes yes yes yes

But that bastard -- much like Rob Zombie stole my idea to use "Free Bird" over a shootout, Wes Anderson has stolen my idea to use "This Time Tomorrow" and "Strangers" in a trailer. Damn you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bud Selig stops being a punk-ass little bitch!

In other news, temperatures in hell have plummeted dramatically in the last few hours...
[Major League Baseball commissioner] Bud Selig will be in attendance at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Tuesday night and said he will try to be in attendance for future games as Barry Bonds attempts to set Major League Baseball's all-time home run record.

"Out of respect for the tradition of this game, the magnitude of the record, and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, I will attend Barry Bonds' next games to observe his potential tying and breaking of the home run record, subject to my commitments to the Hall of Fame this weekend. I will make an additional statement when the record is tied," Selig said. {From}
Well done, Mr. Selig. It's the only choice you can make at this point -- you allowed the Player's Association to screw you with your pants on for years on the steroids thing, and this is the corner you've painted yourself into in the process. (Sex and painting -- yay for mixed metaphors!)

So good on you for finally making the inevitable decision. You're still a spineless little weasel.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Here, at the end of all things (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)


The door was partially open, so I saw her coming. She bounded up with a distinctly gleeful skip in her step, clad in blue, as you'd expect, and her hands filled with packages. She wrapped on the door twice with her elbow and called to me, "Harry Potter!"

As though accepting a precious heirloom, I took the small box from her. It was white, with a machine-printed picture of an owl clutching an envelope. DO NOT DELIVER OR OPEN UNTIL JULY 21, 2007, a red banner warned.

"Thank you very much," I said, still looking at the package. When I did glance up at her, she smiled and gave a little nod.

"You're welcome," she said, already heading for her next delivery. "Happy reading!"

I looked at the box again. In a little square on the side, in a now-familiar font, was more print. YEAR 7.

And so it was, thirty-two hours ago, I received my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And so it was, a little less than one hour ago, I turned the last page and finished my journey through those books.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

It began in 2001, with perhaps my greatest example of one of my great pet peeves. I took an English class at College of the Mainland, and on the first day glanced at the course syllabus. After the expected lists of short stories -- Poe, Faulkner, Hemingway, naturally -- and Shakespeare, I noticed this unusual entry:

Novel: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

What? What?

We're gonna read Harry Potter for the course novel? In a college English course? Have we completely lost our damn minds? The professor, it turns out, is a huge Potter fan. She wore her Gryffindor Quidditch jersey to class one day. At the class's skepticism at her choice of novel, she pointed out its long-reaching influence and popularity, and surmised there must be something worth studying there.

"Plus," she said with a smirk, "it's a really good book."

The next day, I dutifully picked up a paperback copy at Waldenbooks. Now, this is before the first movie was released, before it had even been filmed, and adult acceptance of Mrs. Rowling's book wasn't yet widespread. So I got a few odd looks.

I took it home and tried to read it, but I only got two pages in before tossing it aside. I couldn't get it out of my head that I was reading children's literature. I told my mom. She joined me in scoffing. I mean, come on.

Three months later, our professor reminded us, "You need to have at least the first half of Sorcerer's Stone read by Thursday." This being Tuesday.

Oh, shit! I'd forgotten about it completely.

When I got home that afternoon, I dug through boxes in my room until I found my copy. I poured a glass of Dr Pepper, sat at the dining room table, and forced myself to read it.

Four hours later, my mom came home and saw me. "Reading the Potter book?" she said, her voice teasing me.

"Yeah," I said, not looking up. "Do we have any barbecue sauce?"

"What?" She was in the middle of pouring herself some iced tea, and my out-of-nowhere question confounded her.

Still without looking up: "Do we have any barbecue sauce?"

"Uh, yeah," she said. "Why?"

"Because I need to eat my damn words."

I finished the book during lunch the next day. Within a week, I managed to convince both my mother and my sister to read it, too. With two further days, my mother had acquired the next three books, which were the only ones published at the time. The books were like a foul virus, and I had exposed my entire family. We were goners.

I read Chamber of Secrets in two days. I read Prisoner of Azkaban in one sitting.

And now, that journey is over. The series is complete.

Am I happy? Yes. Am I sad? Oh yes.

There are volumes I'd like to say about the book itself, but refuse to -- I absolutely refuse to spoil anything. (There are legions of bastards running around out there doing exactly that -- I saw spoilers dropped in comments on YouTube videos...freakin' Family Guy videos, at that. I will not join those douchebags.) I went into this one blind as can be, and believe the experience the better for it: I didn't even read the table of contents, afraid the chapter titles might give something away.

The big pre-publication spoiler from Madame Rowling was that "two major characters" would die. I will say that that is...true. In a technical sense, it is very, very true.

Am I satisfied at the conclusion? Yes. It is logical, it is emotionally resonant, and it has enough closure to feel like the end of something epic. (Nor is it psychologically harrowing and terrifying, as Mr. King chose to be at the end of the Dark Tower.) The book is unflinchingly dark, and ceaselessly depressing...and yet filled with -- and ultimately about -- love.

If I were to meet Mrs. Rowling today, I would thank her for the seven books of wonderful stories and memories. And then I would slap her in the face for her wicked cruelty.

And then I'd remember these are fictional characters she was cruel to, and I'd remember my own wicked cruelty, and I'd apologize profusely and offer to get her some ice, and she'd have me escorted off the grounds and thrown in British jail.

Goodbye, Harry, Ron, and (sigh) Hermione. Goodbye, Ginny, Snape, Dumbledore, Sirius, Fred, George, Professor McGonagall, Hagrid, Grawp, Lupin, and Tonks. 'Bye Moody, Draco, Lucius, Narcissa, Mr. Weasley, Mrs. Weasley, Dudley, Neville (the man!), Luna, Cho, Cedric, and Percy. And goodbye to Nearly Headless Nick, and Peeves, and the Fat Lady; to Bellatrix Lestrange, and to Dobby, and to Kreacher, and to S.P.E.W., and to the D.A. And Bill and Fleur. And Professors Flitwick and Trelawney, and Cornelius Fudge and Peter Pettigrew. And Lily, and James. And even to You-Know-Who.

You will be missed. Sorely.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Going off the grid

Four years ago, I very nearly had the ending of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix spoiled for me. I didn't get the book right away, and soon after its publication, a newspaper in Toronto published an obituary for, um, the character that dies, and I almost read it. I managed to click the "back" button fast enough to avoid reading the name. (And look at that -- the book is four years old, and I'm still not willing to spoil the ending. Ain't I grand?)

Not again! I will not inadvertently have The Deathly Hallows spoiled or revealed to me in any fashion. With my copy set to arrive tomorrow by owl package delivery person, I will go into complete radio silence until I'm finished. I'm not taking any chances. I'm going to sign off the internet, and I won't be watching any TV, outside of what I have already DVR'd.

See you on the other side.

(Thankfully, I read really fast. It shouldn't be long.)

The Republicans will probably just filibuster that, too

So apparently Michael Vick is pissing off everybody -- including Congress:
Fallout intensified Friday from NFL star Michael Vick's indictment on charges linked to dogfighting, a practice that a longtime lawmaker denounced as "barbaric" on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who has addressed lawmakers often about his love for animals, shook with emotion during a forceful condemnation of dogfighting.

"Hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars are often at stake in the breeding, the training and the selling of fighting dogs. How inhuman, how dastardly!" shouted the senator. "The training of these poor creatures to turn themselves into fighting machines is simply barbaric."

Senate criticism increased Friday as Sen. John Kerry said he had sent a letter to the NFL commissioner calling for Vick's immediate suspension.

"Dogfighting is one of society's most barbaric and inhumane activities," Kerry wrote to Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"As the most popular team sport in America, professional football has a responsibility to showcase the highest levels of behavior and sportsmanship," Kerry's letter said.

The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee also said he planned to introduce anti-dogfighting legislation.

Kerry's proposal would make it illegal to transmit images of dogfighting, to run Web sites that cater to dogfighting, and to won or train dogs for the purpose of fighting, according to his office.
Not that I don't admire what you're doing, there -- dogfighting is repulsive and should be stopped. But...this is what you're fighting for? To save dogs? There's a President over there responsible for the needless deaths of thousands of humans, and you're not doing much to stop him.

I feel the earth move under my feet

San Fransisco had a minor earthquake this morning. Nothing to worry about -- it was only a 4.2, so there's no real damage or massive injury or anything. I remember dealing with several such mild quakes when we lived in California -- my mom would bring my sister and I home at the end of the day, and we'd find paintings crooked, candles (unlit candles, obviously) fallen down, and, most tellingly, my mom's crystal unicorn statues overturned (and occasionally broken).

My favorite earthquake story, and the one that gives you an idea of just how mild and insignificant something like a 4.2 is, comes from 1988. My mom was driving me to school, and, just as she's pulling up to drop me off, the car starts to shudder. Mom lets out a string of obscenity, thinking she has a flat tire. We stop, and we each check one side of the car for the bad tire -- but there isn't one. Mom lets out another string of obscenity, thinking there's something very wrong with her car, but as she drives the remaining 100 feet to the drop-off zone, the car works perfectly. On a whim, Mom turns on the radio, and finds the morning deejays marveling at the earthquake we had just experience. "Oh," my mom breathes with relief. "It was just an earthquake. Thank god."

When we returned home that evening, my mom's mirror would be crooked, and the pendulum clock she had hanging next to the kitchen table had stopped. Several of her unicorn statues had been knocked askew, but -- thank the Prophets! -- none had broken.

The ground had, without warning, shaken violently for several seconds. This happens all the time in California.

Humans can grow accustomed to anything.

The closest thing I have to a holy day

It's July 20, people: thirty-eight years ago today...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I have funny friends

I don't know if I'm going get around to Hunter recaps again -- I'm writing several other things at the moment -- some dealing with you-know-what -- and all of them take precedence. (I can write these blog posts because they take ten minutes at the absolute maximum; a Hunter recap tends to take a great deal longer, and I'd rather spend time on other things.) I might briefly wrap up the remainder of the season if I get a chance, but no promises.

But I couldn't let this pass by without comment. In last night's game, the Hunters found themselves cornered and outnumbered by werewolves. The wolves did not mince words: they were there to kill the Hunters, for no adequately explained reason. (They found out why later, of course.)

The leader of this pack of wolves tried to make it clear that the Hunters didn't have to fight -- they were outnumbered by a superior foe, and there was no need for bloodshed and agony. Unfortunately for her, Willem -- the Dr. Smith of our little group -- undercut the seriousness of her little speech. To quote the episode:

"Now. We can make this painless--"
"YES!" *relieved fist-pump*

That right there became my new favorite quote for our Hunter game. It eclipses the old one, which was from back in season two -- the Hunters were investigating a ghost, and tracked down a woman who used to be a friend of hers...

"We were college roommates."
"Ah. Were you roommates?"

I enjoy our Hunter game.

'Cause I think it's funny, that's why

People are really quite amusing.

Chess rules. Rollercoasters, not so much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Reid-McCain S'mores amendment is expected to pass

Hey, the Senate is having a slumber party!
Frustrated by Republican efforts to block votes on bringing American combat troops home from Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders rolled out sleeping cots Tuesday for an all-night debate on the war.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the overnight session to highlight a GOP filibuster preventing the Senate from voting on an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would bring U.S. combat troops home by next spring.

"Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end," Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday after Republicans had blocked a request for unanimous approval of the measure.

"They are protecting the president rather than protecting our troops. They are denying us an up-or-down -- yes or no -- vote on the most important issue our country faces.

"We have no choice but to stay in session to continue speaking out on behalf of our troops and all Americans, to continue requesting consent for an up-or-down vote on our amendment to end the war."
No word yet on whether any of the Republican senators got scared during the campfire stories and had to call their moms to come pick them up.

The GOP is accusing the Democrats of staging "political theater." Well, yeah. Since you're preventing them from actually doing anything, they're left to making showy statements that make you look like obstructionist assholes. Which, by the way, you are.

I would love it to happen, but I just don't see anything coming out of this.

Thief! Thief!

Isn't there a science fiction story about a guy who discovers he has a clone or a time-traveling replica of himself, and becomes obsessed with killing him? Yeah?

Listen to this shit:
Those that

So thank you to those giving cuz we're living in a society that is super sized by cell phones, it is taking a toll, we've microwaved our brains and got pop-up windows in our souls.

We are Americans, we don't think we can die, so in the blink of an eye the link to our over. And if it is, I want to know what you did with it.

Who were the people you bonded with and what were your major accomplishments? I'm not a prophet no I'm far from it...but I'm starting to realize there's no way a SUV can bless you and me.

This life's not a game so it's not a cinch you can win just cuz you got an extra inch on your rims, that money could have helped out a family in a pinch cuz they've on less than a dollar a day.

One in five people live on less than a dollar a day.

And that affects us cuz we're giving. Giving creates a resonance that's unequaled by any energy in this universe and just like humans, this earth has a DNA that's been selfless people, like Martin Luther King, Princess Diana and Mahatma Ghandi, so why do we as a society idolize athletes with criminal records and rappers that boast about Don P.?

But it's not about them; it's really about us. The ones daring to be sharing, the ones who realize that caring is more important than what you’re wearing. Some reach into wallets and some into a purse but I know that every one of you would walk to the edge of the earth just to show a kid his worth. So recognize yourselves as some of the few that do, exactly what others wish they could.

Americas awareness, that's what the motive is, it's not that we don't care, it's just that we don't notice it, so were not gonna blow this shit or slow this bit till every vote is in, we're chosen kids and vocalists who wrote and spit, hoping this openness can help the homelessness.

Gag me with a spoon, right? Embarrassing, not only that someone would write such hackery, but publish it online, certainly thinking it "deep" and "original." "Caring is more important than what you're wearing"? Come on.

All of this wouldn't be so bad, except the fucker has my name!


Eww, eww, ewwwww.

He must die.

Monday, July 16, 2007

You should keep reading, it was a good list

You'll recall that I posted a list a little more than a week ago regarding the songs I felt should be included in the game Rock Band.

Well, no one at Harmonix is reading. But it's fun to pretend they are, because they just announced a few more songs that will go in the game.
  • "Wanted Dead or Alive," Bon Jovi. Not on my list. But I thought about it; I rejected it because, frankly, I don't like it very much. But it will certainly be fun to play.
  • "Tom Sawyer," Rush. Hey -- that one's on my list! Good on you, Harmonix!
  • "Learn to Fly," Foo Fighters. That's not on my list, but "I'll Stick Around" was. Right band, wrong song.
  • "Welcome to the Jungle," Guns N' Roses. Again: right band, wrong song. But I imagine "Welcome to the Jungle" is a more feasible choice than "November Rain," anyway.
  • "Enter Sandman," Metallica. Okay, for real, you guys, if you're gonna--

"Enter Sandman," Metallica.

Holy shit, they're actually putting Metallica in the game.

Hell, "One" was a joke -- I put it number one because I knew Metallica would never, ever make it into the game. And now...they're in? And they say that a "substantial" number of Metallica songs will be in the game.

Well done, Harmonix. Very well done, indeed.

Also, "Vasoline" by the Stone Temple Pilots will be included, and I should've thought of that myself.

But you wanna hear the best part? I mean, aside from the Metallica? They're going to release additional albums -- not songs, you hear, but entire albums -- for download. The first of these? Who's Next, by the Who. One of the very bestest albums ever friggin' recorded. We're be able to play "Baba O'Reilly"! "Behind Blue Eyes"! "Won't Get Fooled Again"! Flippin' "Bargain"!

Can I have this game now, please?

Oxymoron of the year

Today while at McDonald's, I overheard a girl asking permission to go to a concert of some kind. It wasn't a big show or anything; it sounded like a school thing. When asked to describe the kind of music they would play, the girl summed it up thusly:

"It's kinda like Christian punk rock."

*brain breaks*

I can't begin to explain how antithetical it is to sanity, the idea of a punk rock band being a Christian band at the same time.

But then, the Christian rockers have already taken metal and hip-hop. And ska, though they can keep that one.

Next: Christian math rock!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 7/15/07

1. "Turn a Square," The Shins
This song's a little more "rock" than the Shins generally get. It sounds like a long-lost Elvis Costello song or something. I love the lyric "Just a glimpse of an ankle/And I react like it's 1805."

2. "Substitute," The Who
One of my favorite Who songs. The original version is awesome, but I have a soft spot for the bootleg I have of the Tragically Hip playing the song live. Because I was there, of course.

3. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," The Beatles
Someone paraphrases the opening line of this one in the short story I'm writing at the moment: "She's not a girl who misses much." It's funny: I heard this song a few times, then went without hearing it for years; when I listened to it again, I was stunned to see it was less than three minutes long. I was sure it was over six. Why? Because the damn thing shifts gears so many times. See, John had three different songs lying around that he didn't know what to do with, so he glued them all together to make one track, even though they had nothing to do with one another and combined made nothing but gibberish. The Beatles were so goddamn good, they did this all the time and got away with it.

4. "Cesaro Summability," Tool
For reasons known only to them, Tool decided the best thing they could do to their masterwork, Ænima, was to break up its rhythm constantly by inserting long, pointless segues made of nothing but sound effects. They'd go on to do this on all of their albums, which drives most of their fans -- me included -- up the fucking wall. Stop that!

5. "Everything's Not Lost," Coldplay
If I were to shame myself enough to admit to not only really, really liking Coldplay, but to also having a favorite Coldplay song, I'd probably say this one. But I'd never do that. I mean, c'mon.

6. "Rocks Off," The Rolling Stones
So here's a good idea: record a double album, and make sure your opening track is mixed so poorly that the lead vocals -- and sometimes even the lead instruments -- are unintelligible in places. They'd never get away with it if the song wasn't so awesome. Lucky bastards. If you haven't heard Exile on Main St., I don't know what you're waiting for.

7. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway," Genesis
Peter Gabriel angrily insisted on writing the lyrics for the whole of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but for some reason the rest of the band came up with words for this track. I don't know why, but it's immediately apparent -- Pete's writing style in very distinctive, and you can tell in the very first line that he didn't write this one. Peter Gabriel would never, ever write a lyric like "As he walks along the gorge's edge/He meets a sense of yesteryear." Now, he would write about a raven stealing your severed penis, sure. He's a damn lunatic. But he's not a hack.

8. "Naked Sunday," Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots were the first band I ever saw live in concert. I was so unbelievably stoked to actually be at a concert that I don't really even remember if they were any good or not. Nor do I remember if they played this song, which would probably sound awesome live. The only thing I remember from that concert is watching my little sister headbang during "Plush": she saw me watching her and decided to go for the gusto, swinging her hair around like a helicopter blade in the pink lights from the stage. Then she got dizzy and almost fell down.

9. "Wake Up," Rage Against the Machine
You'll probably remember this song from the end credits of The Matrix. Or you may not -- really, all of Rage's material sounds exactly the same.

10. "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)," Talking Heads
This song is not on Stop Making Sense. Which is a shame -- I'd love to hear a live version. It is, however, the opening track to Remain in Light, one of the twenty or so best albums ever released. You should listen to it. Go!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

List of the week: The best of Stephen King

Sorry if this one's a little brisk -- at the moment, my brain wants to continue reading Adam Cadre's marvelous Ready, Okay!, write the new Revolver episode, write a short story that popped into my head yesterday and won't leave, watch the last few nights' episodes of Keith Olbermann, eat lunch, listen to the Beatles, and go to sleep. Plus, this. At least it's in there somewhere.

But one of the things that's been left at the wayside is Richard Bach-- oh, who the fuck am I kidding -- Stephen King's Blaze, which is sitting next to me as I speak. I haven't read more than two chapters of it yet, and I've been working on it for a week. (Contrast that with Ready, Okay!, which I retrieved from the mailbox yesterday, and my bookmark is currently resting between pages 368 and 369.) It is not, at least so far, among the King's best work.

So what is the King's best work? I'm glad you asked, because it gives me another chance to shove my opinion down your throat. Behold: my personal picks for the 25 best things Stephen King has ever written. (Or, at least, published. I'm sure he's written a wykkid bitchin' birthday greeting or two.)

25. Needful Things
Oh, sure, it gets goofy-crazy in the last few pages (FRINAN and I are never going to stop making fun of the Magical Flowers of DOOM, never ever), but on the way there it's one of the most complicated, deranged tales the man has ever written. And is it just me, or were the sexual fantasies about Elvis the scariest parts?

24. Desperation
Kicking off with perhaps King's most perfect opening (a dead cat nailed to a speed limit sign), Desperation is a tale that manages to be both epic and intimate simultaneously. He creates one of his most ominous villains in Collie Entragian, and even the "God is Love" stuff in the last chapter doesn't come off at all cheesy.

23. Misery
In On Writing, King writes that his drug-addled mind came up with Misery as a way of sending himself a red flag. In the metaphor, he was poor Paul Sheldon, sick and immobilized; and the drugs were Annie Wilkes, a wicked witch who held him down and forced him to write. As far as drug-addled metaphors go, you can't get much better than Misery, which is one of King's most spellbinding reads. Interesting story: I once had a copy of this book taken away from me in 7th grade, because it was "inappropriate for school." What class was it? Reading.

22. "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away"
He doesn't crank them out nearly as much as he used to, but when Big Steve writes a short story, it's usually something interesting. The very idea that a traveling salesman would collect bathroom graffiti and write a book about it is fascinating enough -- but then King takes you inside the mind of Alfie Zimmer, and the view is heartbreaking. And I love the perfect ambiguous ending.

21. "The Boogeyman"
Let's not kid ourselves here. Some works are entirely dependent upon their endings for their success. This is one of them. Sure, the story leading up to it is high-quality stuff, but it's that last half-page that brings it all home and earns the story a spot on this list.

20. Hearts in Atlantis
The second appearance of the Dark Tower mythos on our list (Desperation was the first, if you missed it). King's lament for the folly of his generation -- the Baby Boomers -- is funny, sad, poignant, and it feels so very, very real, despite the can-toi running around and such. And I wish I'd though to call a story "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling" before he did.

19. Faithful (with Stewart O'Nan)
Steve hasn't done much non-fiction writing outside of Danse Macabre and On Writing, but we should write letters convincing him to do more. While O'Nan's half of the book is certainly entertaining, and a wonderful chronicle of a man lost in obsession (in a good way -- c'mon, it's baseball, obsession is my thing, too), it's the half written by King where the book is truly masterful. King's eye for detail is razor-sharp here, even when he doesn't provide the laundry list of stats one would normally expect in a baseball book. And what starts as a mere baseball diary becomes something much more -- a meditation on...well, love, and faith, and patience. And obsession. Maybe that's why the publisher put everything King writes in the book in bold. (Really.)

18. The Long Walk (as Richard Bachman)
King's taste for The Long Walk would decline over the years -- he'd later declare it full of "windy psychological preachments" -- but of the works he published under the name of his "evil twin," Richard Bachman, this is clearly the one that holds up best. A harrowing tale of mental horror, The Long Walk is a book that you simply cannot stop reading. Much like the race itself -- stop and die. And it features one of my favorite closing lines ever: "And when the hand touched his shoulder again, he somehow found the strength to run."

17. "Umney's Last Case"
One of King's many (many, many) looks at the relationship between a writer and the characters he creates. Of course, it doesn't start out that way -- it starts out as a simple Raymond Chandler pastiche, but he turns it upside down pretty quickly. And another of my favorite closing lines: "This time nobody goes home." (And I'm quoting these from memory, of course. Um, geek.)

16. Bag of Bones
Leave to New England's Horrormeister to wait until he was in his fifties to do an old-fashioned ghost story. But Bag of Bones is so good that it was worth waiting for. It was this book that finally got the uptight literary types to pay attention -- critics who'd scoffed at him before actually read the thing and realized, hey, he really can write. Five years later he'd win a really fancy award.

15. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
(Yes, I've decided to rank the Dark Tower novels seperately. Why? 'Cause they're different novels. Silly. And they actually vary quite wildly in quality. To say nothing of style. They were written individually, so I shall rank them so. And my, what a long parenthetical.) For three books, King kept Roland as the stone-faced seeker of the Dark Tower, the unflinching Gunslinger that served the great wheel of ka. But in Wizard and Glass, King breaks Roland open and shows us the pieces, and the picture they paint is terrible indeed. And it also features a mind-bending Wizard of Oz sequence, and a surprise revelation as to who the Man in Black he's been chasing really is.

14. The Langoliers
Stephen King doesn't like flying. You'd never be able to tell that from this novella, no sir, not with its horrifying premise -- what if you went up in an airplane and when you came back down the world was gone. Not the buildings, not the places, but everything alive. Talk about horror. And even though the blind girl with mental powers is a rather odious cliché, he makes up for it with Craig Toomey, one of his most fully realized villains.

13. Insomnia
This is a hefty tome indeed -- I tried three times to get through in junior high school and couldn't. But once I finally sat down and made an effort of it (and got past the first 200 pages or so), I became so lost that I think I read the last 400 pages in one sitting. And hey, it's not only phenomenally entertaining, it also explains a lot of the mechanics of -- guess what -- the Dark Tower series, even showing us the Crimson King.

12. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
King's technophobia goes wild: we've got a giant cyborg bear, a city run by a giant computer, and a self-aware train set on committing suicide. In between all that, he gives us a dog/raccoon thing that can talk and a gripping scene in which young Jake is pulled from our world into theirs. It was reading this book that made me realize what an idiot I'd been for ignoring those Dark Tower books on the shelves on the public library for all those years. Stupid, stupid!

11. Apt Pupil
Years before Columbine, King wrote this chilling novella, an examination of the dark allure of evil. A simple all-American boy (he plays baseball, he has a paper route, he'd probably eat a whole apple pie if you put it front of him and recite the Pledge of Allegiance while doing so) becomes so obsessed with the Holocaust that he blackmails a Nazi war criminal into describing it to him. He just wants to know what it was like. Of course, evil spreads like a fungus, and it isn't long before people start dying. The film version was pretty good, but loses several million points for its cheap, weak, cop-out ending.

10. "The End of the Whole Mess"
You can write it off as a stylistic gimmick if you want, but King's story about the end of the world is all the more harrowing because of its gimmick. The ending is indescribably sad, as you realize the world's last remaining human is left to babbling "i hav a Bobby hiz name is bruther." No good deed goes unpunished, indeed.

9. The Dead Zone
Oh, how FRINAN won't like that. And I admit, The Dead Zone is another of those books I just couldn't get into at first. But years later, I picked it up again and wondered why I never finished it before. Everyman Johnny Smith's struggle with his special power is incredibly moving, especially when he meets weasel-of-the-millennium Greg Stillson, who will one day start a nuclear war. And I love, love, love the book's final scenes in the graveyard.

8. Pet Sematary
The scariest book I've ever read. And I'm not the only one who thinks so -- King himself was so horrified by it that he hated it, didn't want to finish it, refused to publish it once he had, and only did when he found himself contractually obligated to do so. Aside from its literal horrors -- walking dead of every stripe -- Louis Creed's descent into madness is so distressing that I almost didn't finish the thing myself.

7. The Shining
Speaking of descents into madness. Pretty much everything that can be said about The Shining has already been said, being among King's most famous novels. And it's famous for a reason, of course -- its terrifying look into the mind of Jack Torrence, who falls victim to the ghosts of alcoholism and those that reside in the Overlook. And if you're curious why I'm so phobic of wasps, I'm pretty sure reading this book at an impressionable age had something to do with it. Thanks, Mr. King. Thanks.

6. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
Frank Darabont's film adaptation was so wonderful that it's easy to forget the novella on which it's based. But the diary of Red, Shawshank's lone penitent inmate, is a story of such beauty and grace that it's probably the best thing to force on people who wrinkle their noses at the thought of reading Stephen King. The only monsters here are human; the only magical powers are those of redemption and -- above all -- hope. I love this story.

5. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
The ending is the hardest part of any story to pull off. So it's beyond spectacular to note that King completed his magnum opus, the Dark Tower series, perfectly. Not just a good ending, or a great ending; not even a brilliant ending. It is perfect. And the final page is the most horrifying thing Stephen King has ever written. (And people can whine about the death of a certain someone all they want to. Guess what? That was perfect, too.) And if you didn't like it -- hey, he warned you. King stops the book cold to tell the reader to stop reading, because the ending isn't pleasant. And then he breaks you. How marvelous. I love this book.

4. The Eyes of the Dragon
King's leap into the realm of fantasy. We apparently have his daughter Naomi to thank for this one -- he wrote this book for her after she expressed her dislike for his horror novels. But who wouldn't love this tale of magic, murder, wizards, kings, and, um, napkins? And there's a dragon, of course. I have yet to find a single person who's read this book and not liked it. Is it the Stephen King novel for everyone? It just might be. I love this book.

3. It
One of King's two "massive" tomes. He's written many (many, many) times regarding the mythical power of childhood and the imagination, but It remains his pinnacle of the style. It's absolutely gigantic -- spanning twenty-seven years and well over a thousand pages. The whole thing is perfect, but I especially love the final chapters, where King lets the past and present flow through one another seamlessly. I love this book.

2. "The Last Rung on the Ladder"
The saddest thing King has ever written. It's an easily overlooked little story -- it's in the Night Shift collection, if you haven't read it -- but it's one of his very, very best. It's hard to talk about the story at all without giving the whole thing away, so I won't. But read it. I love this story.

1. The Stand
I've read The Stand roughly eight times in the last sixteen years. Every time through, it seems I read something new I didn't see before. It's King's other giant book -- the complete and uncut edition (the only one I've ever read) is even longer than It. But rather than spanning time, The Stand spans a country -- a panoramic view of America going to hell during a single summer when the superflu kills 99.7% of the populace. Why have read it so many times? Especially such a long book? It's the book that made me want to be a writer. I mean, I'd written things before that -- I'd been making up stories since I was old enough to speak. But The Stand made me want to write those stories down and have other people pay me to read them. I'm still desperately trying to catch up to The Stand, which will likely never happen. But I keep reading it, going through once every couple years or so. Why? 'Cause I love this book.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Okay, so I spent some more time looking for that new Across the Universe trailer. No dice. But I did stumble across this wonderful piece of video footage -- Dave Matthews covering "In My Life," one of John Lennon's most beautiful songs and probably my second or third favorite Beatles song.

Nice of you to join Dave on the piano, Thing.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I guess it goes without saying that I'm excited as hell about this movie

A movie scored entirely with songs by the Beatles? Can I buy my tickets now?

I wish I could find the second trailer online -- instead of a montage of songs, it uses only "I've Just Seen a Face," one of my favorite Beatles tracks. And it also emphasizes the artsy stuff a little more, making the style of the film a little more clear.

But hey -- it's a damn Beatles musical. With appearances by Eddie Izzard (as Mr. Kite!) and flippin' Bono (as Dr. Robert!). I am so there.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the movie)

It's no secret to anyone who's heard me talk about the Harry Potter series that Order of the Phoenix is my favorite of the books. It's gigantic, sure, but it's so wonderfully dark and moody, and brings a depth and enrichment to the universe of the series in a way that hadn't really been done before. It's also the point when the series -- in my opinion, at least -- stopped being a series of children's books. The scenes of emotional turmoil and violence are so intense that I couldn't imagine a parent letting a child read through it, let alone 800+ pages of it.

With all that said, it is with some disappointment, my friends, that I report to you that Phoenix is not the best of the film series -- that honor still lies with Prisoner of Azkaban. But it's a worthy adaptation, and it's actually the first of the films to act like a typical film adaptation: instead of just transposing the book page-for-page (as is especially apparent in the turgid first two films), they took the building blocks of the story and wrote an actual movie with them.

Of course, that comes with the pitfall of all movie adaptations, the one that leads to readers saying "The book was better": things have to change. For whatever reason, things have to change between book and screen, and there are more changes evident in Phoenix than in any in this series before. And not just minor, inconsequential, "The rival schools for the Triwizard tournament show up at the beginning of school instead of the end of October, like they're supposed to" changes. Actual relevant changes. Though, again, I suppose they're not that relevant. The story still gets where it needs to.

But great big chunks of subplot are left out of this script -- including anything to do with Quidditch, leaving Ron nothing to do whatsoever but stand there and look goofy. (A voice rises from the back: "That's all he ever does anyway." Thank you, FRINAN. Thank you.) Several characters don't make it from book to screen, and the entire structure of the big Order vs. Death Eaters battle at the end is reconfigured. (Unfortunately, the Big Tragedy remains just as Tragic -- though even that isn't unaltered. You'll know it when you see it, of course, but suffice it to say a different spell is used to enact the Tragedy. Frankly, the movie version is a lot more palatable. It's certainly less stupid.)

But they cut an 870-page book into a 2:18 movie, so lots and lots had to go. I don't blame them, even if there's a lot of material being left behind in the first five movies -- we've had no mention of who drew the Marauder's Map in the first place (though this movie hints it with one of its slight changes, if you're paying close enough attention), no mention of S.P.E.W., and this film forgets to wrap up one of its plot threads. (Why, dear reader, did the Dementors attack Harry at the beginning? Hmm? The movie won't tell you...but the book might. If you're nice.)

Aside from the alterations (both minor and otherwise), it's a good movie, one that expertly captures the bleak tone of the book. And much praise for Imelda Staunton, who is absoutely terrifying as Dolores Umbridge. Never has niceness been so scary.

And now: we await The Deathly Hallows. Only a few more days.

A few more days.

*looks at watch*

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

God, I'm a complete sucker for these things, aren't I?

In case you miss the joke with the song, "The Touch" was originally recorded for Transformers: The Movie back in 1986. The version used in this video, though, is from Boogie Nights; Paul Thomas Anderson, genius that he is, used it as the song Dirk Diggler is recording in an attempt to make it big as a rock star.

And Soundwave rules.

I am hopelessly screwed

I knew my name was going to bite my ass one day:
After all, whether it is on a school register, at a job interview, or in the exam hall, people with surnames towards the start of the alphabet are used to being first.

Given that we often associate the top of a list with winners and the bottom with losers, could all of these small experiences add up and make a long-term impact on someone's life?

Everyone participating in the Telegraph experiment was asked to indicate their sex, age, surname and rate how successful they had been in various aspects of their life, such as their health, finances, career, and "life in general". Scores in all these categories were added up to obtain an overall "measure of success".

The results revealed that readers whose surnames began with letters at the beginning of the alphabet did indeed rate themselves as significantly more successful overall than those with surnames starting with lowly, end-of-the-alphabet initials.
Damn you, father! Damn you!!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 7/8/07

1. "The Scientist [live]," Aimee Mann
As cheesy and commercial Coldplay's music is, "The Scientist" remains a great pop song. Aimee's cover -- included on the bonus track that accompanied her masterpiece, Lost in Space -- is a very good version, switching keys and giving it a slightly different vibe, but Aimee's voice just doesn't work as well with this tune, especially live, where it becomes even more unfortunately nasal. Lost in Space is a unbelievably good album, though.

2. "The Ghost of Tom Joad," Rage Against the Machine
Apparently, it's covers week. This was written and originally performed by Bruce Springsteen; Rage performed it for their final studio release, Renegades, an eclectic collection of covers. If you've ever wanted to hear Rage Against the Machine perform songs by Devo or Bob Dylan, this is the record for you. (Actually, it's not half bad.)

3. "Making Flippy Floppy [live]," Talking Heads
From the album version of the best concert film ever made. Though I've sworn up and down that Revolver is not based on real life, the little tiny bits seem to be -- case in point, Angela's frustration at not finding DVD copies of Stop Making Sense anywhere. I can't find them, either. Next episode: Patrick can't find his keys!

4. "Windowsill," Arcade Fire
Okay, it's time for this week's indie rock go-get-it speech. Canada's Arcade Fire is one of the best bands working today. Imagine Modest Mouse's oddball approach to instrumentation, with the raw intensity of Tool and the epic feel of a Metallica concert. They don't sound like any of those bands, not even remotely, but it's impossible to describe what they do sound like. They're simply great. This track is from their newest record, Neon Bible, which is phenomenal, but the first album you should find is their 2005 release, Funeral, which is one of the best albums ever recorded. Seriously. Go!

5. "Annie," Our Lady Peace
OLP -- yet another of my precious Canadian bands -- is an interesting case in artistic integrity. They released a couple of albums in the late '90s, most notably Clumsy, the title track from which was a huge hit. Then they released their follow-up, Happiness Is Not a Fish You Can Catch, and with that title you can tell how artsy and unorthodox it was. It's a brilliant album, one of my favorites, but it wasn't nearly as successful as the previous record, and the next release did even worse -- Spiritual Machines, a concept album based on a book about sentient computers, sold very badly, even in Canada. So their guitarist quit, they hooked up with Bob Rock, and released a slick, mainstream, overproduced pop album in Gravity. And hey -- massive international success! This song, though, is from Happiness, and it's a good one. If you like watery guitars, a warbling vocalist who jumps into falsetto even more than the Coldplay guy, and oblique lyrics like "running away from the breast of your busy, giant healing machine," go get it. If you can find it.

6. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" The Beatles
This rough-and-dirty song, from the white album, is not among the best Beatles songs ever recorded. It's one of Paul's, and John hated it. Not because it was bad, but because it was an obvious aping of his own writing style -- it's crude, it's simple, it's very rhythmic. Paul never denied that it was written like a Lennon song, because he would have sounded like an idiot; at this point in the Beatles' history, Paul seemed pathologically incapable of writing a song that wasn't a take-off on another style of music. Listen to the white album, and watch as Paul runs roughshod over every genre or artist he can get his hands on: the Beach Boys ("Back in the U.S.S.R."), reggae ("Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"), Bob Dylan ("Rocky Racoon"), old school music hall stuff ("Honey Pie"), and even the Who ("Helter Skelter"). Of course, all of those songs are awesome, so I'm not complaining. I'm just sayin'.

7. "Roses," Kanye West
Last Registration is a masterpiece of modern hip-hop, filled with phenomenal track after phenomenal track, with only a few dull spots. This is one of them.

8. "Crippled Inside," John Lennon
From Imagine, universally considered his best solo work. It's pretty clear that John annihilated Paul when it comes to their solo careers. Lennon has the entirety of Imagine, which is flawless (including the scathing "How Do You Sleep?", an absolutely blistering attack on Paul), plus several other classic songs; Paul has..."Live and Let Die"? "Band on the Run"?

9. "Slime Creatures from Outer Space," "Weird Al" Yankovic
Al decides to mock Thomas Dolby, the guy who did "She Blinded Me with Science." It's not a bad track, though it isn't particularly funny -- the only chuckle it elicits comes from the lyric "I hope they don't come in here/I just shampooed the rug!"

10. "Hang on to This," Days of the New
DOTN is on the New Album Just Any Day Now list, along with Guns N' Roses, Metallica and the Dave Matthews Band. Travis Meeks is out of rehab and touring -- including a performance at Scout Bar, which I missed. Dammit! This is from their (his?) most recent album, from back in 2001.

Friday, July 06, 2007

List of the Week: The 20 Songs That Have to Be in Rock Band

(Yeah, I'm going to start doing my lists again. We'll see how long it lasts.)

Obviously, you know all about Rock Band. It remains to be seen how well this GREATEST IDEA EVER will actually work in practice, and the price is steep, but it's hard not to be excited about it.

They're still making the game, but with all that programming and beta-testing going on, they may need some assistance with the soundtrack. Hey -- I'm here to help.

When I sat down to write this list, I learned that three of the first songs that occurred to me as perfect choices -- "In Bloom," "Won't Get Fooled Again," and "Say It Ain't So" -- have already been confirmed as being in the game. Score points for me, then. So here are twenty other songs that should be in Rock Band. They're in the order that I thought of them rather that any sort of ranking, but the #1 song is the one I think would be the best choice for the game.
  1. "One," Metallica
  2. "Whole Lotta Love," Led Zeppelin
  3. "Honky Tonk Women," The Rolling Stones
  4. "Flagpole Sitta," Harvey Danger
  5. "Evenflow," Pearl Jam
  6. "Zombie," The Cranberries
  7. "All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix
  8. "Float On," Modest Mouse
  9. "Money," Pink Floyd
  10. "I'll Stick Around," Foo Fighters
  11. "Judith," A Perfect Circle
  12. "Paranoid Android," Radiohead
  13. "Tom Sawyer," Rush
  14. "Sleep Now in the Fire," Rage Against the Machine
  15. "Layla," Derek and the Dominos
  16. "Seven Nation Army," The White Stripes
  17. "November Rain," Guns N' Roses ("Welcome to the Jungle" is in the gameplay video that's going around the internet, but it hasn't been confirmed as actually being in the game. Screw that song: "November Rain" is a better choice.)
  18. "Until the End of the World," U2
  19. "Torn," Creed (remember, it's their only great song)
  20. "Beat It," Michael Jackson
You're welcome, Harmonix.

(And my god the licenses for my game would expensive, huh?)


The Democrats should hire Olbermann as a speechwriter.

And he's right -- you can't tell me that Libby didn't know his sentence was going to be commuted long before he was even convicted. This is like watching one of those Steve Austin-Dude Love wrestling matches from 1998, where Vince McMahon would have a biased referee working the match, so Dude could break the rules all he wanted and not get punished for it.

I hate you, George W. Bush. Just saying you're the worst president to ever take the oath is no longer sufficient -- you've done more damage to the integrity of the White House than any one who has ever set foot there before you, and that includes the British soldiers who burned it down.

I wish there was something more I could do, something I could say other than fuck you, but there isn't. I just have to sit here in my rage and stew, as I've been stewing for over six years. Every time I think you can't sink any lower, every time I think you can't possibly do anything more reptilian and grotesque, you prove me wrong. Part of me is sickly curious and what you could do next to top this. Do a press conference where Laura arrives with missing teeth and a suspicious black eye? Dick-slap Hillary Clinton? Set fire to the White House yourself?

Like I said, I wish there was something more I could say than fuck you, but it wouldn't matter anyway. You wouldn't listen. Just like the drunken redneck you are, you aren't exactly open to constructive criticism.

In Harlan Ellison's original script for the superlative Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever," the villain screws around with time once too often, and gets trapped in the worst time loop imaginable. He's doomed to spend eternity repeating the same six seconds over and the middle of a supernova. Over and over and over again, for all of time.

May something like that happen to you, President Fuckwad.

I wish I could hate you to death.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

You have to keep reading.

So last night, "Australia" by the Shins popped up on my iPod's random shuffle, and I was so delighted to hear the song for the first time in a few months that I listened to naught but the Shins for the rest of the night. Particularly that album, Wincing the Night Away, which might be my favorite album of 2007 so far. (The only other real contender is Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, which gets bonus points for its swank title. Also, the lead singer of the Shins, James Mercer, shows up to sing backing vocals on three tracks.)

Anyway, when I got home I was bored, so I decided to keep up the Shins mania by reading some reviews of Wincing. And two things began to bug me as I read through them:

1. Every one of them -- and I mean every one of them -- felt compelled to refer to Natalie Portman's line of dialogue in Garden State, when she gleefully forces the (wonderful) song "New Slang" on Zack Braff, telling him the Shins will "change [his] life."


2. They all went out of their way to mention Mercer's oblique lyrics.

Now, I can't really argue with #2. His lyrics are quite cryptic at times. (Okay, most of the time.) But the annoying part was when the reviewers decided to use an example. When they did, they'd almost always reach to a specific line from "Australia," about "facing the dodo's conundrum." They'd almost chortle at how baffling that lyric is; then they'd usually say how it didn't matter because the song was enjoyable anyway.

Yeah, that's great, guys, except for one, small thing: you're all a bunch of idiots.

Apparently, they didn't bother to listen to the song they were criticizing for being incomprehensible, because the verse they reference goes like this:

You'll be damned to be one of us, girl
Facing a dodo's conundrum
I felt like I could just fly
But nothing happened every time I'd try

The incomprehensible line is, in fact, explained in the very next line. In-depth lyrical analysis.

(Incidentally, the same thing pops up in the other oddball line from the same song: in the third chorus, Mercer switches to "the android's conundrum," which has a lot of people in comment threads and in forums kerfluffled. Once again, the next line -- "I feel like I could just cry, but nothing happens every time I take one on the chin" -- explains everything.)

Fools! Fools, all of you!

(Questionable Content is hilarious, by the way. But if you haven't read from the beginning, or don't want to read through all 900+ (!!) archived strips, the story might lose you. But when it's this funny, why should it matter?)

(And 100,000 bonus Nerd Points if you (a) spotted the quote in today's title; and (b) realized it was a quote in the first place. You may not approach my level of Nerdery, but you're trying. And sometimes that's enough.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

It really captures my essence, don't you think?

FRINAN just got here for Mage, so I won't be posting anymore tonight. (Thankfully!)

But I had to show you this: me, as a Simpsons character.

Cool, huh? You can do your own at the Simpsons Movie Website, which isn't bad. And it's not possible to estimate how much my opinion of the soon-to-come movie improved after that last trailer.

Yet another music meme -- watch that post count rise!

It should be noted that this year has more blog posts than any year before it, by quite a bit. And it's only July. That means you've had to shovel through far more of my dreck than usual, and for that you have my apologies thanks.

But it's hard to not post these music memes. They're just so damn easy. And I find them sickly fascinating. I don't know why -- maybe it's the idea that one's life can be summed up in pop music. Or that any song can mean anything you want it to if you pick selectively through the lyrics. (I also forgot to do an iPod shuffle this week, so this will make up for that.)

Business as usual -- randomize whatever music-playing apparatus you prefer and let 'er rip. It was suggested I use Pandora for this exercise, and so I will.

How does the world see me?
Song: Anna Begins
Artist: Counting Crows

Typically: as a hand-wringing ninny who can't make up his mind about anything until it's too late and he's left standing in the rain, alone, like a damn fool.

And this time, when kindness falls like rain
It washes me away, and Anna begins to change my mind
And every time she sneezes I believe it's love
And oh, lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

What do my friends really think of me?
Song: Island in the Sun
Artist: Weezer

That either I'm a laid-back fun-loving guy or that I'm a morose loser who needs to get out more and live a little. I'm guessing the latter.

We'll run away together
We'll spend some time forever
We'll never feel bad anymore

Do people secretly lust after me?
Song: Big Empty
Artist: Stone Temple Pilots

Maybe, but since they speak only in post-grunge gibberish, it's hard to tell.

Too much walkin', shoes worn thin
Too much trippin' and my soul's worn thin
Time to catch a ride, it leaves today
Her name is what it means
Too much walkin', shoes worn thin

How can I make myself happy?
Song: It's All Been Done
Artist: Barenaked Ladies

I can't, apparently.

If I put my fingers here
And if I say "I love you, dear"
And if I play the same three chords
Will you just yawn and say,
"Whoo-hoo-hoo -- it's all been done"

What should I do with my life?
Song: The Saga of Pepote Rouge
Artist: The Band want me to join a cult?

Break the news, Pepote Rouge is coming to town
We stand accused, Pepote Rouge, of bein' hellbound
She can show us just where we went wrong
You don't know where you're goin' 'til you find where you belong

Why should life be full of so much pain?
Song: My City of Ruins
Artist: Bruce Springsteen

The Boss doesn't really have an answer. It just is.

Now there's tears on the pillow
darling where we slept
and you took my heart when you left
without your sweet kiss
my soul is lost, my friend
Now tell me how do I begin again?
My city's in ruins

How can I maximize my pleasure while having sex?
Song: The Mighty Quinn
Artist: Bob Dylan

By becoming so proficient at giving pleasure to others, even the animals are attracted to me.

I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet,
But guarding fumes and making haste,
It ain't my cup of meat.
Ev'rybody's 'neath the trees,
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
All the pigeons gonna run to him.

Will I ever have children?
Song: Brainwash
Artist: Rick Danko

I don't think Pandora wants me to.

Crossed ideas and twisted fear
Chosen channels of a million tears
Strains the mind, night after night
And the price ain't really right

Will I die happy?
Song: Let Her Cry
Artist: Hootie & the Blowfish

Ptth -- are you fucking stupid?

This morning I woke up alone
found a note by the phone
saying maybe I’ll be back some day
I wanted to look for you
You walked in I didn’t know just what to do
so I sat back down had a beer and felt sorry for myself

What is some good advice for me?
Song: Don't Let Me Hide
Artist: The Badlees

Don't be such a pansy-ass...well, hand-wringing ninny who can't make up his mind about anything until it's too late.

But any source of real joy contains an initiation of pain

What is happiness?
Song: The Crane Wife 3
Artist: The Decemberists

Having a wonderful, beautiful wife who can use her weaving skills to support the family. But you can't get greedy and take her for granted and break your promise, because you'll hurt her and she'll turn back into a crane and fly away.

Each feather it fell from skin
'Til thread bare while she grew thin
How were my eyes so blinded?
Each feather it fell from skin
And I will hang my head, hang my head low

What is my favorite fetish?
Song: Catapult
Artist: Counting Crows

You'd know it'd be something that involved pain and blood on my part, huh?

I want to be the knife
That cuts into my hand
And I want to be scattered
From here in this catapult

How will I be remembered?
Song: Living for Love
Artist: Ronnie Day

I'll be remembered as a codependent romantic vampire who latched onto any woman who'd slow down long enough for me to catch up. Yay!

I'll say "I'm in love with you,
so I'll keep breathing
just so I can do
everything you need me to.
And I'm a slave for all of your antics.
I'm just a slave, I'm such a romantic fool

That was fun.

Oh, there's the "Imus grammar" toggle, it was there the whole time

I hope everyone's gotten the chance to read the new Revolver episode, and I hope those who have done so enjoyed it. Again, responses have been pleasant -- I'm starting to convince myself these things are actually good, and this conviction is either going to cause my ego to swell considerably, or cause me to write them faster and more often. I think we all know which result is preferable.

It's also interesting in that one of the things I wanted to do with Revolver was write low-key, character-driven, non-violent stuff...but in ten episodes I've punched three characters in the face and killed a cat. (Two, if you count Rebecca's first memory, revealed in episode two. Which you don't, because there's no way you remember that. I mean, it was one line in an episode over two years ago. Only I, with my Sorkin-like continuity skills, have that kind of total recall.)

But I discovered something interesting while writing "Tougher Than It Is": Microsoft Word is racist.

I'll bet you want some explanation for that. Not convincing enough all on its own? Hmph. Fine.

In Scene 3, Anthony -- whom you'll hopefully remember is black -- has a line that reads as follows:
How the fuck am I supposed to prove I'm not cheating on her?
Simple, clean. I actually deleted and rewrote the obscenity in that line a few times before leaving it in -- I wanted Anthony to be sympathetic, and somehow f-bombs don't lend a guy sympathy. But I left it in, deciding that he was pretty pissed off and prone to profanity.

But Microsoft Word had an editorial suggestion. A squiggly green line appeared under the word "am," signifying that it had a problem with my grammar. I right-clicked and read its "correction":
How the fuck is I supposed to prove I'm not cheating on her?
Yes, because young black men are incapable of properly conjugating their verbs, is that it, Microsoft Word? You should be ashamed of yourself.

Next thing you know, Word will be insulting helpless college basketball players, inciting a nationwide outcry, and losing its radio show.