Friday, August 31, 2007

Blowin' in the wind

It started while I was watching Veronica Mars a little while ago. There was a sound just below the too-hip-for-my-taste soundtrack and the excellent dialogue. A vaguely musical sound.

At first, I thought it was simply part of the show -- background noise. But the scene changed, then came to an act break and faded out, and the sound continued.

I thought it might be my cell phone, so I walked to the next room to check it. Nope. Though it did ring a few minutes later, and I got to explain to Tommy why he should buy anamorphic widescreen DVDs to Tommy. (I didn't mind. I love explaining shit to people.)

And the noise continued. I thought it might be my computer -- maybe I'd left Firefox open on a website with an annoying advertisement. But no -- my laptop wasn't even on.

And then I heard it again, clearer and louder, and I realized it was coming from outside my bedroom window. I looked out. And there it was.

A little kid was playing the harmonica. A little cheap toy harmonica. No real tune or melody to speak of, just blowing through it and created random notes.

I wish I could play the harmonica.

21 bags of gold for a scout? Are you kiddin' me?

I have found yet another glorious gift of the internet: you can play the one-player version of Dark Tower online.

It's a lot more complicated than I remember. Though just as difficult. Man, I suck at Dark Tower.

A quick game tip: hire a Healer the very second you have the money.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

One coin, one play

If you haven't listened to Wil Wheaton's keynote speech at PAX, you really must do so as soon as possible. (You can listen to it here, but a fair warning -- it's nearly an hour long.)

When he mentioned Dark Tower, I clapped aloud, even though I was alone in my car. And when he mentioned Blades of Steel -- "the best hockey game ever in life!" -- I think I got choked up a little. (You know how I feel about Blades of Steel.)

He speaks very fondly of arcade games like Asteroids and Wizards of War, and while I like those games, playing them is like listening to the Rolling Stones or the Who to me -- they're obviously fantastic, but they don't have the immediacy of newer music, simply because it's already classic by the time I hear it. By the time I came around to video games, the arcade stuff was already obsolete. But it's still fun to listen to him speak of it so fondly.

I also very much dug his description of games as a social activity, especially his joy in playing them with his brother. I remember very fondly the role video games often took in my house. I was obviously the expert there, but my mom and sister drew their own enjoyment from them. When he spoke of developing "level specialists" to get through certain games, I remember the (many, many) times my sister would play through a level and then thrust the controller at me to get through a boss. Ah, nostalgia.

Anyway, it's a good speech.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 8/26/07

1. "Like a Rolling Stone (live)," Bob Dylan
The most legendary performance of Dylan's most legendary song. Starting in the mid-sixties, Dylan would split his concerts in two -- the first half would be a solo folk set, merely Dylan with a harmonica and guitar, and the second would be an electric set with a backing band. While the folk crowds loved the acoustic songs, they loathed the rock set -- they felt Dylan was betraying the folk tradition by amping it up and pumping it through bombastic rock n' roll instruments. They would frequently boo and scream, throwing things at Dylan, calling him names, clapping at the wrong times to try to throw off his rhythm. At this show, at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1966, it came to an infamous conclusion. While the band is preparing to begin the final song, a fan yells out "Judas!" Several other people cheer and applaud. As Dylan starts to strum a few chords, he takes a moment to think, and then snarls at the heckler, "I don't believe you. You're a LIAR!" Then, he turns to his band and says, "Play it fucking loud!" And with that, they kick into the most acidic, most apocalyptic version of "Like a Rolling Stone" imaginable. The song is angry enough as it is, but the way Dylan howls out his vocals -- "You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't yoooooooooooooou!" -- is revelatory. A Bill Hicks-like instance of a performer turning the audience's antipathy into inspiration. And when it's over, everyone applauds. [My rating: *****]

2. "Midnight Star," "Weird Al" Yankovic
The jokes about tabloid magazines and their infamously goofy headlines -- "Your pet may be an extraterrestrial! The ghost of Elvis is living in my den!" -- are a little dated now, especially with the demise of The Weekly World News. But this remains one of Al's best original compositions. [My rating: *****]

3. "Another Girl," The Beatles
Paul taunts a disinterested lover by announcing that he doesn't need her, because he's got someone else, someone better than her, anyway. Paul's songs turned pretty bitter there in the mid-sixties, when his relationship with Jane Asher fell apart. See also "I'm Looking Through You." The sentiment in this song strangely reminds of a lyric in the new Kanye West single, "Stronger": "So how the hell could you front on me?/There's thousands of yous, there's only one me." [Rating: *****]

4. "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World," James Brown
A very odd way to talk about the importance of women in our world: Brown argues, exhaustively, that men are responsible for everything -- they make everything, they run everything, they create everything, they have built the world and could destroy it if they wanted, but it would all be moot without women to stand beside them and be impressed. Uh, sure, if you say so. [Rating: ****]

5. "Blood of Eden (live)," Peter Gabriel
From his Secret World Live double-disc set, which remains one of my favorite live albums. The studio version of this song featured Sinead O'Connor on backing vocals; this live track has Paula Cole (who was famous for about fifteen minutes, you may recall), and is slightly superior. Pete's been working on a new studio album for about seven years now, but since it took roughly that long to make the last one, I'm not holding my breath. [Rating: *****]

6. "Beat It," Michael Jackson
Hey: when Michael was still Michael, and hadn't yet lost his musical inspiration -- to say nothing of his mind -- he made awesome music. "Beat It" is just as cool today as it was twenty years ago. So there. [Rating: *****]

7. "The Four Horsemen," Metallica
This song was one of several co-written by Dave Mustaine while he was still with the band. They reworked his riff and turned into this superlative track from their debut album, Kill 'Em All. Mustaine's band Megadeth recorded his "uncompromised" original version under the title "Mechanix" several years later. And advantage clearly goes to Metallica here, as they churn out one of their best songs and Megadeth merely bores you to death, as per usual. One of my favorite songs. [Rating: *****]

8. "Daredevil," The Tragically Hip
The Hip will write a song about anything -- anything at all. They've written songs about hockey, sharks, boating accidents, plane crashes, painters, colonial European oppression of the Indians, NAFTA, cops from the city in love with girls from the country, lines of longitude, or wrongly convicted murderers. This song is about someone going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Hey, whatever works. [Rating: ****]

9. "Have You Seen Me Lately?" Counting Crows
For some reason, Crows singer-songwriter Adam Duritz developed a reputation as a whiny pop star angry at his own stardom. I can't imagine why -- it certainly had nothing to do with this song, which is a long, angry rant against his own stardom. He muses that the constant magazine articles about him paint a picture that isn't necessarily anything like him at all. "Could you tell me things you remember about me?" he asks. "And have you seen me lately?" I'd be a lot more skeptical of this attitude if the song weren't so fantastic. Which it is. [Rating: *****]

10. "You're So Vain," Carly Simon
One of the biggest mysteries in pop music, of course, is just who this song is about. Mick Jagger sings backing vocals, so a lot of people point the finger at him. But Warren Beatty has claimed that he's the real subject several times, which pretty much seals the deal: after all, Carly does point out that the target of her ire is so monumentally vain as to think the song about him. Pretty conclusive. [Rating: *****]

Friday, August 24, 2007

A gift!

Today is the anniversary of the eruption of Vesuvius, 1928 years ago. It's also the date of an alarming number of massacres and bloody battles and other events which resulted in the painful deaths of many, many people.

Coincidentally (?), it's also René's birthday. Happy birthday to you, sir.

In keeping with what has been an awesome week -- new Rock Band songs, good times hanging out with my sister, fun Hunter game, tonight's Wii-related festivities, and the news that Steve is going to be the father of two children (twins, I mean -- it's not a Maury Povich situation) -- I will provide for all (four) of my dedicated readers a gift: the first complete short story I've written in, swear to the Prophets, three years.

This isn't the Revolver short story I was talking about -- that's probably not going to end up getting finished, for reasons I don't feel like explaining at the moment. This is, instead, a complete diversion from style for me -- it's a medieval fantasy story, which I almost never, ever write (and, in fact, barely ever read). Don't ask me why, the story just came to me that way. The tone is also different from the way I usually write, but it seemed to fit the tale I was telling.

The basic idea has been kicking around in my head for almost two years, but it never went anywhere until last week, when I was reminded of something René told me once -- it clicked, and the story as you read came to me in an instant, a fully complete thing. So I suppose I should offer thanks and, perhaps, dedicate said story to you, René -- fittingly, it's about a megalomaniacal dictator.

Enough blathering from me -- if you'd like to read "The Storyteller, the Dragon, and the Great Decree," you may do so by following this hyperlink:

Yay for Google Documents!

(If you like to leave comments on the story, you can do so on this posts. Or you can just e-mail me.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


They've announced more tracks for Rock Band! And I'm dizzy with excitement! I can't stop using exclamation points!
  • "Creep," Radiohead!
  • "Cherub Rock," Smashing Pumpkins!
  • "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," Jet!!
  • "Sabotage," Beastie Boys!!!
  • "Epic," Faith No More!!!!
  • "Gimme Shelter," The Rolling Stones!!!!!
Joy! Joy joy!

I would advise against standing between me and a copy of this game.

Hey, no more exclamation points!


Yay for YouTube

A couple of trailers I thought you might like to see.

And here's one, this is the interesting one: I'm Not There, the Bob Dylan movie:

I, on the other hand, will be there. Definitely.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 8/19/07

[From now on, I'm going to include my iTunes rating [* to *****] for each song. Why? Because I said so, that's why.]

1. "Razor Face," Elton John
From Madman Across the Water, the last album he recorded before becoming an international superstar. The lyrics don't quite make sense, but that's par for the course with Bernie Taupin. (My rating: ****)

2. "Misery," Green Day
There comes a time in the life of every veteran band when they try to move away from their roots and explore something different. For Green Day, that time came with 2000's Warning, a largely mediocre album of bland pop-punk sheen and wacko sonic experiments like this one, a story-song polka (complete with organ and Spanish guitar solo). They wouldn't really find a new forum for their voice until a few years later, with American Idiot. (Rating: ***)

3. "The Horizon Has Been Defeated," Jack Johnson
You don't have any significant contact with my sister and not come away with a Jack Johnson CD or two. And his music is so compelling -- relaxing, laid-back grooves with not-quite-stoned lyrics and beach party atmosphere -- that it's hard to complain. (Rating: ****)

4. "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band
You have to understand: the temptation to use this song as the backdrop of a scene involving mages for our Hunter game is so great, I feel like I have to physically restrain myself from using it. It helps that it's cheesy '80s synth crap, but it doesn't help that I have an inexplicable love for it. (Rating: ****)

5. "Surrender," Cheap Trick
My sister and I just spent three hours playing Guitar Hero II, and this song was our grand finale. It's a unique song, in that it manages to be sound both pop and punk, both off-center and completely mainstream, all at the same time. And it's got one of the best choruses ever written. (Rating: *****)

6. "Lump," The Presidents of the United States of America
Most interesting fact about this one-hit wonder: instead of using a guitar and a bass, like any other normal band, they use a "basitar" and a "guitbass," self-engineered two- and three-stringed instruments that create a uniquely rumbling sound. Second most interesting fact: despite this being their only hit, the Presidents were awesome. Always the way, huh? (Rating: *****)

7. "Locomotive Breath," Jethro Tull
Coolest story ever, retrieved from a book I have lying around here somewhere: Tull's record company freaked out over the lyric "got him by the balls" from the third verse. To cover it for play on the radio, they edited the single version, removing the offensive testicle euphemism. But for whatever reason, they weren't content leaving the space blank, so they spliced in a word from another part of the song, rendering the line into "got him by the fun." "Do we detect a new euphemism being born here?" wrote the authors of the book. "A kick to the fun? That guy's got brass fun? I was out there freezing my fun off?" Indescribably hilarious. Oh, and the song rocks, too. (Rating: *****)

8. "In God's Country," U2
Unfortunately, I have no pithy stories to tell about U2 or this song. Luckily, this song -- from their much-hailed album The Joshua Tree -- is spectacular, one of the finest tracks they've ever recorded. The way the first line of the chorus is delivered ("Sleep comes like a drug in God's country") is spellbinding. (Rating: *****)

9. "Eddie Walker," Ben Folds Five
A track cut from the band's superlative debut album (which I won't shut up about until each and every one of you has a copy, you bastards). It showed up later on their, um, let's say wildly uneven rarities collection Naked Baby Photos. The song is a decent piece of work, but it's easy to see why it got the axe. (Rating: ****)

10. "Outside the Wall," Pink Floyd
Those around him urged Roger Waters to include this song as a coda to The Wall -- they felt it needed, at long last, one pure moment of humanity, to avoid making it a misanthropic dirge. So Waters complied, providing this brief piece to conclude his story of paranoia and fear. It's a simple melody on violin, with Waters speaking directly to the listener while the backup singers echo him, pleading for you to pay attention to those who love and care for you: "And when they've given you their all, some stagger and fall; after all, it's not easy banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall." Barely audible at the end of the track is Waters mumbling, "Isn't this where--" Should you care to listen closely to the beginning of the first track of the first disc of the album, you'll hear another half-phrase, just as quiet: "--we came in?" Ah. It's a cycle, you see. When I was eight, this was the coolest thing I'd ever heard. I'm twenty-six now, and it might still be. (Rating: *****)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

List of the week: My 10 Favorite Album Titles

Not much commentary required here -- the titles kinda speak for themselves. I'll provide a little context when needed.
  1. A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Pink Floyd
  2. Under the Table and Dreaming, Dave Matthews Band
  3. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy
  4. So, Peter Gabriel [His first four albums were all self-titled, much to the annoyance of his record label. On the fifth, they demanded a proper title, so Pete provided them with the pithiest one he could think of: So. His later albums were titled Up and Us.]
  5. Hail to the Thief, Radiohead
  6. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
  7. Whatever and Ever Amen, Ben Folds Five [Yay for puns!]
  8. You Could Have It So Much Better, Franz Ferdinand
  9. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, Godspeed You! Black Emperor [I don't know what it means. But I like it.]
  10. This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, Modest Mouse [They always have great, verbose titles. This is my favorite.]
And, what the hell, for balance, my five six least favorite.
  1. When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where to Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter Cuz You'll Know That You're Right, Fiona Apple [This is one of my favorite albums. But that title -- ye gods, Fiona. You'd think a title like that would turn the artist into a laughingstock and destroy her career, rendering one of the best records of the last ten years into a forgotten joke. And you'd be right.]
  2. Ænima, Tool [Eleven years later, and we're still trying to figure out to pronounce it. The consensus seems to be ON-ima, but who the hell knows.]
  3. Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, Stone Temple Pilots [Even when the music is good, Scott Weiland has never been capable of churning out anything other than complete and utter nonsense. This is no exception.]
  4. ...Something to Be, Rob Thomas [What's with the ellipsis?]
  5. Ummagumma, Pink Floyd
  6. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, Limp Bizkit [How the fuck did I forget that one?]

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I'm listening to the newest release by Dave Matthews, a double-disc acoustic performance by Dave and his guitar virtuoso friend, Tim Reynolds, at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Now, Dave is crazy -- let there be no question about that -- but I wasn't quite prepared for his rambling introduction to "Oh," which kicks off the second disc:
The last time that Tim and I were here was the night that the war began. It's just interesting. It's funny, the night that it started -- some people were, some people were like -- [sigh] and other people were like "Yeah!" but it's funny that it does that to us. It's funny how war very rarely -- see, when it's just uncertain, when it's not so sure, like -- there's times in history when we're really sure about things. But this is a time when, for whatever -- whatever your belief is, this really is a time when we need to try and figure out a way to get it together with each other, you know, because we can't figure things out if we just turn our backs on each other. You know. "You're an idiot!" "No, you're an idiot!" "No, you're an idiot!" "No, you're an idiot!" "No, you're an idiot!" That shit goes on for a long damn time. I mean, I got good friends of mine that I love as deeply as, as any other friends of mine who look at me and say, "No, you're an idiot!" And I look at them and say, "No, you're an idiot!" But, you know, at least we're still friends, which is half the battle. We're not gonna kill each other any time soon, but we might feel like it. [gumblings that mimic two people fighting] "Fuck you!" "No, fuck you!" Yeah, you know, it's just fucking crazy. Anyway, I must say one thing: this song's about my grandfather, and he fought Rommel in North Africa, you know? They kicked some ass! Rommel was no pushover. You know, right at the front. There's evil people, but they still came weeping outta somebody's vagina.
Dave Matthews, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The union of the snake is on the climb

Apparently -- and I know this will just warm your fucking hearts -- they're making a G.I. Joe movie. To be directed by the guy who made The Mummy Returns. Yeah.

Have a nice day!

This video should cheer you up

I don't know if you need cheering up, really. But I'm in a mood, so here's a cool video. Don't say I never did anything for you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The theory of everything

We have no evidence. Only a theory, which happens to fit the facts.
--Spock, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
After leaving work today, I drove to Sesame House, this great little Chinese place I love. In the past seven years, I've probably eaten there 200 times. When I go in by myself, they don't even give me a menu, or even lead me to a table -- they just follow me to the same table in the corner I always choose, and bring me water, wanton soup, and General Tso's chicken, which is what I always, always order. Almost no variation. On a day when I have some space between work and another responsibility (more work, a Mage game with FRINAN, something), I usually end up there.

Today, when I got there, the place was dark. A sign was stretched across one window: WE'RE SORRY, it said, BUT WE ARE NOW CLOSED ON MONDAYS.

I looked at that sign and felt...heartbroken. I become moody, even depressed. I didn't stop and eat somewhere else; I just drove home. My routine had been disrupted.

When I was in junior high school, I was big into Star Trek. I know: you're saying, "What do you mean was?" But you don't understand -- I was huge into Star Trek. It's all I wanted to talk about, it's all I wanted to watch, I read Star Trek books, I played Star Trek video games, I wrote (well, started) my own little Star Trek stories. My mom would take me to the library, and I'd beeline for the section with the Star Trek books. I would grab six or seven and head for the counter. I wouldn't even look at anything else. Mom would look at me, baffled. "You know, there are things other than Star Trek," she'd say, unable to keep the condescension out of her voice. I'd tell her I knew that, and every once in a while I'd make a concession and pick out something else, just to keep her quiet.

Eventually, that Star Trek obsession faded. And was replaced with another obsession. And I followed it with the same violent intensity. I think it was wrestling that time; suddenly, my entire world became about professional wrestling. And my mother promptly got sick of that one, too.

I keep talking about Rock Band. You notice? I seem to be able to slip it into a conversation about anything, and if I can't, I'm more than happy to drag the conversation over to it. I'm not proud. I've been playing Guitar Hero nonstop the last few days. 'Cause it's almost like Rock Band. I have a playlist on my iPod -- it's the songs that have been confirmed for Rock Band. I'm getting pretty awesome at singing "Main Offender." I listen to that playlist a lot.

I'm a klutz. My mom used to garner great amusement from watching me stumble through the house, tripping over...nothing. Nothing at all. I would simply stumble. I wouldn't hurt myself (my mom wouldn't have been laughing then, obviously), I'd just look like a fool. I'm still like that. I still trip over nothing, lose my balance when I stand up, bang my shins on chairs, and accidentally drive my shoulder into walls that haven't moved in years.

My last girlfriend -- oh, who the fuck am I kidding; my only girlfriend -- was about ten years ago. I can't meet new people, because unless I'm talking about a subject I know well, I'm useless in conversation. I mostly just stand silently. And not only am I bad at it (or perhaps because I'm bad at it), it's almost painful for me to endure. "Small talk" is like dental surgery for me. When someone I know only moderately well -- or worse, someone I don't know at all -- comes up and starts a conversation with something like "Man, I'm so tired," I want nothing more than for them to leave me alone. Waiters and waitresses at restaurants who try to talk to me are unbearable. It's all I can do not to scream at them.

That girlfriend dumped me. She said I wasn't affectionate, that I was cold. I didn't hug. I didn't hold hands. "It's like dating Doctor Spock," she said, trying to speak on my level. When I corrected her -- it's Mister Spock; Doctor Spock is the baby doctor guy -- the irony was so thick I couldn't even see through it to watch her leave.

I don't hug. I mean, I hug my mom. But that's it. I don't high-five. When was the last time you saw me shake someone's hand? I don't like it. I don't like it when someone pats me on the back -- if it's unexpected, my shoulders bunch up like a cat. A girl I met at a party a few years ago tried to give me a friendly hug as she was leaving, and my attempt to comply was so inept it actually angered her. "I'm not sick, you know," she said, with real venom. I mumbled an apology, but she was already gone.

"My attempt to comply" -- I talk like that all the time, you know, not just when I'm writing. I use lots of big words; syllables are my friend. I generally use proper grammar, too, and can't help correcting others when they screw it up. I don't do this with conscious thought, or with effort -- it's just the way I speak. It's the way I think. I've tried, a few times, to be less pedantic in my day-to-day speech, but the results were horrid. So I gave it up. This is the way I talk. So be it.

I've been working at the same shitty job for the last five years. I hate it. Everyone knows I hate it. "So why don't you quit?" I'm asked. "Get a job somewhere else; even another pizza place. You'll make more money." I generally shake my head, give a shrug, and tell them no, I'm fine where I am. Yes, I hate it, but I tell them that if I'm going to quit, I want to be for a better job, not just a different job. I don't want to move laterally, I say. But of course, if you're reading this, you probably know me well enough to know that that's bullshit -- I don't want to change. I hate change. My job sucks, but it's my routine. And I don't want to alter my routine.

I hate moving. Not just from place to place, but moving furniture. My mom would do that all the time -- she'd just get up on Saturday and say, "All right -- I'm tired of the way this place looks. Let's rearrange the furniture." And I'd whine and complain and fight. Not because I was lazy, but because I liked it the way it was. Why change it? It works just fine! But she'd convince me, and we'd move it, and I'd concede that yes, this is fine. And then, six months later, she'd demand another change, and I'd fight again.

We play Hunter on Wednesdays, for the time being. We're about to switch to Mondays. You think that irritates me? It shouldn't. But if Rene called me right now and said, "Hey, never mind, we can play on Wednesdays," my relief would be palpable.

I always have a pen on me. Usually, it's in my hand. I feel uncomfortable without it. If I'm driving and the pen falls out of my hand, I have to pick it back up, even if it means pulling the car over.

I'm constantly singing a song under my breath. If I'm not singing, then I'm humming, and beating out a drum pattern with my teeth. All the time. I'm doing it right now -- "Union of the Snake," by Duran Duran.

When I was in school, my teachers loved me. They thought I was smart, and stuck me in advanced programs when they could. (My education in that arena was splintered considerably by the constant moving across the country, so I never got into a thorough advanced class.) In fourth grade, my teacher was so impressed with me she had me sent to another class, an advanced fourth grade/fifth grade hybrid where some smart kids my age were taught alongside smart kids a year older. That teacher was so impressed with me she sent me across the hall for an hour a day to take a reading class with sixth graders. And that teacher was so impressed with me she made a few calls and got me enrolled in a completely different school, where I'd go every Monday.

But for all that, I got horrible grades, all my life. Why? I never did homework. Never. Couldn't be bothered. I wasn't lazy, so much -- when I got home, I literally forgot I had homework to do. It wouldn't occur to me again until the next morning, when I'd have nothing to hand in, and I'd get a zero. My laser-like focus didn't shine on homework, so it never got done. I've tested at genius IQ levels, but I graduated high school on time only because I pulled a 98 on a Geometry final that I didn't think was possible.

This is me. You know all of these things. Maybe not the details, certainly, but the outer rim, the frame of the drawing, you know all that. I doubt anything you read here is surprising in any way. It will also not surprise you to know that I was bullied as a kid, that I didn't have many friends, and that most of my social interaction these days leaves the recipient confused. I'm unfailingly polite -- the subtitle of my website, "your friendly neighborhood evil genius," is actually a line from a song, the lyrics to which I wrote in ninth grade, called "Neon Letters Ten Feet High." It was inspired by someone admiring how my constant politeness with strangers -- "please," "thank you," saying "I'm sorry?" instead of "Huh?" when I didn't hear something -- masked a venomous hatred for everyone around me. My response was, "I don't necessarily hate them. I just don't understand them."

The title of the song came from my inability to understand those other people. I can't pick up "vibes." I don't get "signals." Unless someone tells me something -- or, in the song, writes it in neon letters ten feet high -- I'll never pick it up. I'm hopeless.

So yeah. This is me. You know me. I've often wondered about my neuroses, where they came from. I've picked them apart a little, and can sometimes ascribe a very logical, cause-and-effect relationship between things and people in my past and my brain chemistry today. And it generally makes sense to me.

And then I read this. And this.


My god, it would explain...everything.

It was funny, when I first read about it last week. But I've thinking about it all weekend. (Ha: obsessing about it.) isn't funny any more.

Is this ridiculous?


Baby, can you dig your man?

In The Eyes of the Dragon, Stephen King positions the villain not as the ruler of the kingdom of Delain, but as the advisor in the shadows: Flagg, the King's magician. Of course, Flagg is more than he appears, and we learn he's actually been living for several hundred years, coming to Delain under various names and disguises, and attempting the destroy the government every time. In the novel, he is the architect of King Thomas's rise to power, and becomes indispensable -- young Thomas panics when he thinks Flagg will leave him and pleads with him to stay. Flagg, of course, does, and nearly succeeds in his plan.

King explains Flagg's methodology: He could make himself the King, no question, but why? When things go bad, people blame the King. Flagg prefers to be the whispering voice in the King's ear, let everything go to hell, and then vaporize when the tipping point is reached and the populace comes for the King's head.

I was reminded of this a few moments ago when I read that Karl Rove has resigned:
Karl Rove, President Bush's close friend and chief political strategist, plans to leave the White House at the end of August, joining a lengthening line of senior officials heading for the exits in the final 1 1/2 years of the administration.

On board with Bush since the beginning of his political career in Texas, Rove was nicknamed "the architect" and "boy genius" by the president for designing the strategy that twice won him the White House. Critics call Rove "Bush's brain."[...]

Rove became one of Washington's most influential figures during Bush's presidency. He is known as a ruthless political warrior who has an encyclopedic command of political minutiae and a wonkish love of policy. Rove met Bush in the early 1970s, when both men were in their 20s.

Once inside the White House, Rove grew into a right-hand man.
Seriously, I should be glad he's gone. But I'm just creeped out. As I always am by Rove.

I mean, he can't be Randall Flagg, can he?

...Can he?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 8/12/07

1. "Lip Service," Elvis Costello
One of my favorite Costello tunes. The first line of the chorus -- "Lips service is all you ever get from me" -- actually shows up in an earlier song, "Cheap Reward." And if you haven't heard any Elvis Costello, I don't know what you've been doing with your life.

2. "I Wanna Be Sedated," The Ramones
Hey, Stephen King -- I'm starting to dig the Ramones. Happy now? I shouldn't like this song; I mean, it's really kinda stupid if you stop and think about it. Which, I see now, you're not supposed to do.

3. "Across the Universe," The Beatles
This is from Let It Be...Naked, the 2003 remastering that deleted most of Phil Spector's dubious contribution to Let It Be. And it's the better version, and Paul's restored it to its original tempo and got rid of all the strings (that's Phil Spector's solution for everything, really: more strings). Of course, it's not possible to record a bad version of "Across the Universe." At least, not that I've heard.

4. "The Last Polka [live]," Ben Folds
A solo live version of one his earlier masterpieces, from the Five's self-titled debut album. Really, Ben Folds Five is one of the best records of the last twenty years, and you should really, really own it if you don't already. This live version, though, is far less impressive.

5. "Under the Boardwalk," The Drifters
When I was in third grade, I kept my radio tuned to the oldies station at all times. Why? Because I'd seen Back to the Future, and desperately wanted to hear "Johnny B. Goode." They never did play it, not once all year. But I did get to hear lots and lots of awesome oldies tracks, including this one. Good times.

6. "All Within My Hands," Metallica
Hetfield's vocals are uneven throughout St. Anger, but it's clear he stopped giving a fuck by the time they got around to recording this one. He hits the right pitch only when he feels like it. And while I like the song, really I do, ending your album by shrieking "KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!" over and over isn't exactly the mature way to go, you know what I mean?

7. "Gimme Shelter," The Rolling Stones
Oh, please please please work this song into Rock Band. The guitar lead is iconic, the drums are slick, and I can totally sing the vocal. In fact, I can even sing the girl's wailing part, too, if you give me enough space. Of course, my neighbors might then call the police. But hey, it'll be worth it.

8. "Take Me Out," Franz Ferdinand
Hey, it's another song from Guitar Hero. And I keep meaning to buy more Franz Ferdinand songs; I've heard three, and love all of them to death. Especially this one.

9. "Jumpin' Jack Flash," The Rolling Stones
Ooh! This one for Rock Band, too!

10. "Take It Off," The Donnas
Uh...huh. That's the third song from Guitar Hero in tonight's shuffle. I think my computer is sending me a message. I hope that message is "go play Guitar Hero," 'cause that's what I'm going to do.

List of the week: The 10 Worst Movies I've Ever Seen...Ever

While studio executives were pleased by the box office results for The Haunting, they couldn't have been as happy with audience reaction -- a poll of moviegoers revealed that 33% felt it was the worst movie they had ever seen; 33% said it was the worst movie ever; and another 33% said it was the worst movie they had ever seen...ever.
--Craig Kilborn, circa 1999

I hate all ten of these movies. How much? You know how much I complain about Michael Bay, right? He's not on this list. That's how much I hate these movies. In a way, these aren't really the worst movies ever made, but something far more subjective: these are the ten movies I hate more than any others.

At varying points in time, I have called six of these films the Worst Movie I've Ever Seen; I've reconsidered five of them. The other four left with me a strong urge for vigilante justice. There's not much more I can tell you in the way of preamble, other than this: I really, really hope I never have to add anything to this list. It pains me to think that someday, somehow, I may end up watching something worse than...

10. Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows
Oh, where to begin? How about the nonsensical title: nowhere in the film is there a book, nor does the plot have anything to do with shadows. Say what you want about the original Blair Witch Project -- love it or hate it, you have to at least respect its ethos, as the filmmakers actually tried to find something new in the exhaustingly repetitive horror genre. This moneygrubbing sequel, on the other hand, totally abandons that attitude and churns out exactly what the first film was supposed to combat: a shitty studio horror movie. As if that wasn't bad enough, the movie is inexplicably meta, as all of the characters have seen the first movie and refer to it whenever the mood strikes. Their actors, meanwhile, are so atrocious that casting must have simply pulled them at random from a Blair Witch fanclub meeting. The only thing saving Book of Shadows from being much, much further down on the list (like, in the bottom three) is the ending, which provides a stunning blast of ambiguity and intelligence that the film doesn't deserve. But then, on the DVD commentary, director Joe Berlinger (yeah, Some Kind of Monster director Joe Berlinger) blames the film's disastrous nature on the studio, saying they reshot scenes and recut the movie without his consent. Yeah, sorry -- you don't get off that easy, Joe.

9. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
It isn't often you can sum up all of a movie's problems in only four words, but try this on: "Directed by William Shatner." Every frame of this piece of crap is driven by his ego and, apparently, his loathing of his own audience. Is there any other explanation for the scene where Uhura materializes fronds in the middle of the desert and sings a "sexy" siren call to the bad guys? Or Spock's retconned half-brother, Sybok? Scotty's descent into a slapstick caricature, complete with Three Stooges pratfalls? The Enterprise's descent into an interstellar Yugo? "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"? And then there's Kirk, who starts the movie scaling El Capitan and ends it by telling God (well, "God") to go fuck himself. This is another movie wrenched from the hands of a poor, talented director and ruined by the studio -- they just wouldn't give Shatner the money he needed to film his original vision, which included a 1-on-10 fight between Kirk and some rock monsters, which I'm sure he'd easily win singlehandedly. At least the studio knew a rat when they smelled it -- of the first six Trek films, this is the only one they wouldn't spend money to "spruce up" for its DVD release. The others all get new special effects, director's cuts, and all that shiny new stuff. Shatner asked for money to do the same, and was flatly denied. Hey, fool me twice, shame on me, right?

8. The Fifth Element
Oh, man, I can feel the flashburn from my friends' hostility already (especially considering the two movies above it and, more damning, some of the movies that aren't on this list). And listen: I wanted to like The Fifth Element, really, I did. I've watched it at least three times now, trying to believe, trying to find that magical spark that attracts the attention of pretty much everyone I know. But you know what? There is no Santa Claus, Barry Bonds is the new home run king, and this. movie. sucks. Every character is annoying, every performance is abysmal, every costume is ludicrous, every piece of music from the score makes me pray for death, every scene is more painful than the one before, and everything just adds up to a big pile of stupid. There is no part of this movie that is not pain. But let's take a special look here at Gary Oldman, who can normally save a crappy movie all by himself: Oldman, one of our finest actors, somehow makes this movie worse with his inexplicable performance as the film's villain, Zorg. The awful accent, the grating mannerisms, and that dumb little helmet -- what the fuck, Sirius? I'd like to blame it all on writer-director Luc Besson, and you know what? I'm going to. Screw you, Luc. I hate, hate, hate, hate this goddamn movie.

7. Rookie of the Year
This imbecilic kids' movie from 1993 is like that annoying guy you know that watches ESPN for ten minutes and then wants to tell you how the Astros can solve all their problems: it doesn't understand baseball, not at all, but knows just enough about it to be a pain in the ass. That little Henry Rowengartner (?) has a freak accident and becomes not a power-hitting superstar but a relief pitcher is the sign that someone knew what they were doing. But that's it -- the rest of the movie is like rubbing peanut shells in your eyes. Even if you cut out Daniel Stern's idiotic "comedy" sidekick (and though I'd like to do you like Oldman and blame your hideous persona on the director, you directed this dungheap, Mr. Stern, so no dice), the "baseball" portions of the film range from the inane to the downright maddening. Logical and sane rules of both baseball and good storytelling are thrown aside and ignored for more cheap, juvenile laughs. "Pitcher's got a big butt"? Come on! Yes, it's a kids' movie, but I was twelve at the time of its release, the same age as the protagonist, and I nearly walked out three times. I mean, the entire plot swings on the Chicago Cubs -- the Chicago Cubs -- not selling enough tickets to their home games. The Chicago Cubs. If you understand why that's ridiculous, then you understand my pain. If you don't, then you probably wrote this movie.

6. Pitch Black
I hate Vin Diesel. Well, now, let's be clear: I don't hate Vin Diesel, per se. I'm sure he's a nice enough guy, and his bit parts in Saving Private Ryan and Boiler Room proved he had some acting chops. I hate Vin Diesel™, the gravel-voiced, sleepy-eyed, coldly bland persona he developed into when they thought he'd be the next Bruce Willis. And that run started here, in this inexplicable and inexcusable sci-fi vehicle that left me screaming. Not in fear. In rage. So it's an Alien rip-off, that's not a big deal -- at this point, there's very little left that's not an Alien rip-off. But lining up several scientifically ludicrous concepts all in a big row and hinging your entire story on them is never a good idea. But then, neither is writing an amoral, psychopathic serial killer into your plot using clichéd tactics and then making him your protagonist. Casting a bad guy as your good guy can work, if said bad guy is exceptionally charming, or talented, or intelligent, or in some other way admirable. Riddick, though, is just an evil motherfucker, and the realization that this guy was going to be our hero left a sick feeling in my stomach. Fortunately, that nicely distracted me from the migraine headache everything else in the movie had induced. Upon walking out of this one, Steve and I agreed: worst movie we'd ever seen.

5. Super Mario Bros.
Hey, Uwe Boll. Next time you rape a mediocre video game license to make a cheap, awful flop, and gamers everywhere unite to clamor for your crucifixion, don't challenge anyone to another boxing match. Just take a deep breath, look them in the eye, and say, "Hey: at least it's better than fucking Super Mario Bros." How anyone -- anyone -- anywhere thought any piece of this movie was a good idea is well beyond me. And unbelievably, they kept making video game movies after this, even though each and every one has been utter shit. (Well, except for Silent Hill, which was shit with an asterisk.) Seriously, how did Goombas go from tiny mushroom-shaped guys to towering, suit wearing thugs with shrunken heads? And casting Dennis Hopper as Bowser? Dennis Hopper in a kids' movie?! The only way to have made a less entertaining movie would have been to film someone playing Super Mario Bros. 2 for an hour and a half and show that. And on second thought, that would have been better. And for shame: I actually saw this movie before its release. A friend of my mother's got me passes to a critics' screening, so I got in before all of my friends. Thus, I had to deliver the bad news: worst movie I'd ever seen.

4. House of 1000 Corpses
I've already written at length on this film, so I don't really need to go further. I really, really don't want to go further, tell the truth. I think this movie is a disease, and if I keep talking about it, it might spread, like the invisible menace of a Japanese horror film. Just, please: never, ever watch this movie. After it was over, I wanted to die. I wanted you to die, too. One day, the blood will have to be repaid for House of 1000 Corpses, one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

3. Highlander: Endgame
Well, what did I expect, exactly? The original Highlander wasn't High Art, you know, even though I loved it when I was nine. And the sequels? Please. But never in my sickest, most masochistic nightmares was I prepared for this, one of the most pathetic excuses for entertainment I've ever been subjected to. A baffling plot, made all the more confusing by the endless flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks); and then made truly incomprehensible by introducing characters from the television series (!!) without any explanation whatsoever; and then made physically painful by inserting endless, redundant, impossible-to-follow swordfights, one right after the other. Christopher Lambert's accent had somehow become more French between films, making his Connor MacLeod even less believable. His acting, meanwhile, had somehow become even worse than before; I've heard more convincing emoting from a Speak & Spell. The final act, where Connor decapitates himself by tricking Duncan (the other good guy) into doing it for him, followed by the climactic swordfight lit only by an enormous JVC sign, made me want to cry. FRINAN and I barely escaped this train wreck with our lives, and quickly spread the word to all who would hear: worst movie we'd ever seen.

2. Watchers
[That's Watchers, mind you, not The Watcher, the Keanu Reeves movie. Though that sucked, too.] The novel by Dean Koontz was the first adult novel I'd ever read; I was going through Encyclopedia Brown books at the rate of two a day, and my mom felt it was time for me to read something a little more mature. So I read it, and I loved it, and I count it among my favorite books to this day. And I know that things have to change between the page and the screen. But come on. Half of the characters (and two-thirds of the plot) are abandoned. The main character in the book turns thirty-eight on the first page; in the movie, he's a teenager (played by fucking Corey Haim, of all people). His love interest in the novel becomes his mom in the film -- no, seriously. And for a movie that relies so heavily on monster effects, they didn't seem to have very good effects; guess they must have spent all that money on Michael Ironside (and a pre-90210 Jason Priestley, in a bit part). Watching this on video as a child, I felt violated. Really, when you're a kid, you like pretty much everything you're exposed to; it's only later you realize that The Last Starfighter is actually cheesy and poorly acted, you know? But Watchers was a beast escaped from the darkest level of hell. This was a corruption of everything I held dear. I yelled at the television so loudly my great-grandmother sent me to my room. Though I'd rescind the declaration later, my sister and I agreed: worst movie ever.

1. The Passion of the Christ
I hate this fucking movie. My hatred isn't about being Christian. It isn't about conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, any of that other cultural bullshit drummed up during the film's release. It's about being human. Mel Gibson's crazy Jesus movie is the most deplorable, most disgusting, most insulting, most repulsive, most repugnant stretch of celluloid ever produced. That the Christian right can attack Hollywood's "soulless" violent films nonstop, then turn around and praise -- no, no, revere -- this snuff film is an act of appalling hypocrisy. That they spent millions of dollars indulging Mr. Riggs in his torture fetish, in his Antisemitism, in his homophobia, is almost as disgusting as the movie itself. Mel props up his cardboard cypher Jesus, hires all the extras he can find, and they all take turns beating the shit out of him. For two hours. There are occasional breaks, as when Mel wants to focus on some Hook-Nosed Jew™ yelling at Jesus, or show Jesus falling into the dirt in endless slow-mo freefall. But other than that, it's just blood. Blood blood blood blood blood blood blood. The entire affair is utterly and completely revolting. Afterwards, I wasn't moved by Jesus's sacrifice. I wasn't stirred by his teachings (which are, of course, nowhere to be found in the film). I didn't reconsider my life as a sinner. I wanted to kill someone. Anyone. Preferable Mel Gibson, but anyone would have done. I walked from the theater to my car, got in, locked the door, and screamed. Hands down, no doubt, no question at all. Worst movie I've ever seen. Ever.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rush Hour 3: review!

I haven't actually seen the film, of course. And I don't plan to. Because really, why should I? I can already tell you what will be in it.
  1. Chris Tucker will say racist things while acting in a repulsively stereotypical manner.
  2. Jackie Chan will do kung fu, while you can see behind his eyes his tortured thoughts: "Why am I here? Why am I prostituting my career? I have forgotten the face of my father."
  3. There will be many more Asian people, and they will all do kung fu. Because in Hollywood, if you're Asian and there's a camera pointed at you, you suddenly learn kung fu, as if by magic. (FRINAN points out that if they're not doing kung fu, then they're dancing, but I think Hollywood looks at Asians dancing as simply a variation of kung fu.)
  4. Jokes that weren't funny the first time will somehow get trotted out for a third appearance.
  5. They won't be funny this time, either.
  6. The plot, on the other hand, will be laughable.
  7. You will want to punch Chris Tucker. Depending on your tolerance, this will happen somewhere between the 0:09 and 0:47 mark.
  8. And someone, for some horrifically contrived reason, will say the phrase, "Do you understand the words that are comin' out a my mouth?" This is related to 4 and 5, obviously.
The best part of the thing, for me, are the TV commercials, which throw director Brett Ratner's name around like he's goddamn Steven Spielberg or something. "Rush Hour 3! Directed by Brett Ratner! Starts Friday!" It's not even "From the director of Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2*," either, which is understandable -- they call him out by name. Since when does fucking Brett Ratner deserve to have his name spoken at all, let alone as a selling point for a film? And are there actually Brett Ratner disciples out there who will flock to the cinema upon his name attached to the project? "Holy shit, Tommy, the director of After the Sunset and Red Dragon has just blessed us with more cinematic magic! Let's go camp out for tickets right now!"

Seriously, when you've been directing major studio films steadily for ten years and the highlights of your filmography are Red Dragon and a few episodes of Prison Break, you don't get your name in the trailer.

*My other favorite call-out in a trailer is a variation on that kind of name-dropping. I'm sure you've seen the trailers and such for Daddy Day Camp; they all proudly declare that the film is "from the studio that brought you Daddy Day Care." Which I guess means that none of the original cast or crew is working on the sequel. Which should tell you how awful it is, if the cast and crew of Daddy Day Care wants nothing to do with it.

My new favorite Onion article ever

I know I said we wouldn't talk about Bonds anymore, but this is too perfect not to mention:
Destruction Of National Pastime Given Two-Minute Standing Ovation

The Onion

Destruction Of National Pastime Given Two-Minute Standing Ovation

SAN FRANCISCO—A sellout crowd rose to its feet and exploded into ecstatic cheers Tuesday night as Barry Bonds completed the downfall of America's most revered sport by hitting a thundering 435-foot shot into the left field bleachers for...

A new List of the Week is coming tonight or tomorrow. And hey -- it has nothing to do with Rock Band! Hooray!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oh, well that's totally different

Overheard today at FedEx:

[A CUSTOMER is shipping a package to Australia. The CLERK gives her prices, and then talks about insurance options.]

CUSTOMER: Now, I don't want to buy any extra insurance. Is that what is?

CLERK: Well, no, it's not insurance, it's just...for, ya know, for in case something should happen. You'd be covered.

CUSTOMER: Oh. Well, okay, then. I'll do that.

ME: *slaps forehead*

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cheaters almost never prosper

There: Barry Bonds has hit 756. Now let's forget about it and move on.

Continuing to talk about his unearned achievement will only continue to serve his narcissism, and that's the last thing anyone wants to do.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 8/5/07

1. "Whiskey in the Jar," Metallica
A cover of a cover -- this is Metallica's version of Thin Lizzy's version of an Irish drinking song. This appeared on their two-disc release of covers, Garage, Inc., which I bought on the same day I vowed never to talk to my father again. After I stormed off in quiet rage, I sat by myself in a back room with nothing to do. I didn't have a CD player with me, so I instead just read Garage, Inc.'s liner notes over and over. Fortunately, they're fairly well-written.

2. "What Do You Want from Me?" Pink Floyd
After singer-bassist-songwriter Roger Waters left in 1983, the Floyd became extraordinarily hit-and-miss. The two post-Waters albums are both mediocre exercises in prog-rock indulgence -- lifeless, endless, and directionless. This song -- from The Division Bell, the second of those two -- is one of the few standouts. Unlike his usual apathetic delivery, David Gilmour actually sounds like he gives a crap here, which makes the somewhat juvenile lyrics all the more unfortunate. (And even embarrassing, since Gilmour was such an incompetent lyricist that he often farmed out lyrics to professional songwriters. And this was the best they could do.)

3. "Radio Head," Talking Heads
In 1986, a quintet of friends from a boys' school in Britain decided to start a rock band, which they called On a Friday (because they met to practice on Fridays). They soon gained a cult following, and record labels came calling. The name On a Friday no longer made sense, so they changed it briefly to Shindig before settling on a name from an old Talking Heads song: Radiohead. Since then, they've exploded into worldwide superstars, changed musical styles three or four times, recorded three of the greatest albums ever conceived by man (in three consecutive releases, too -- The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A), and generally been the best band in the world. Oh, and the Talking Heads song isn't bad, either.

4. "I'll Be That Girl," Barenaked Ladies
After years of clearly demarcating the songs that were "serious" and the songs that were "funny," the Ladies started blended the two together in the late '90s. This is one of those, a song that mixes dark imagery with light, bouncy music and quirky wordplay. "When you're done with being beautiful and young/When that course is run, then come to me."

5. "Just Like You Imagined," Nine Inch Nails
I don't think Trent Reznor would be much gratified to know that, for all his screaming and tortured lyrics, this is my favorite NIN song -- it's an instrumental, you see. It's an awesome instrumental, obviously, a really fine piece of work from The Fragile. And let's face it, Trent's never been the great lyricist in the world -- how many times are we gonna let him get away with using the line "Nothing can stop me now"? Once? Twice? Or three times? Perhaps four? (If you'd like to hear "Just Like You Imagined," by the way, you probably already have -- it was used as the soundtrack for all the trailers for 300.)

6. "Dirty Diana," Michael Jackson
Apparently -- and this is something of a shock to me -- rock stars can run into problems with groupies. At least, Michael Jackson used to -- "Billie Jean" claimed he'd fathered her child, and now here's "Dirty Diana," who is "every musician's fan when the curtain comes down." As far as Michael goes, this is a pretty hard rock song, with Billy Idol's guitarist sawing away at a grungy riff. If I were in a hard rock band, and were releasing a two-disc set of covers, I'd cover this song.

7. "Live Forever," Oasis
Like many late-'90s alternative rock bands, Oasis was fantastic when they were good, but horrid when they weren't. "Live Forever," fortunately, is one of the good ones. It is very, very possible, though, that you'll never want to hear Liam Gallagher's voice again by the time it's over.

8. "Ants Marching," Dave Matthews Band
The first song my garage band, the Disposable Heroes, ever tried to play. We never got past the third measure. Just as well -- Dave Matthews didn't really fit in the post-grunge style I was looking for. But then, we never really pulled that off, either.

9. "Silent Running," Mike + the Mechanics
Mike is Mike Rutherford, the bassist and guitarist for Genesis. Though it's as hopelessly dated as any mid-'80s hit you can find, I like this song quite a bit. It prominently features two obsessions of '80s music -- synthesizers and violent oppression -- and has an impressive vocal performance. And hey, I like synthesizers.

10. "Maggot Brain," Funkadelic
The single greatest recording of a guitar ever. That's not hyperbole. Eddie Hazel's ten-minute guitar solo (!!) is so stunning and beautiful that George Clinton dropped the other instruments out of the mix because they were superfluous. (It was also allegedly recorded in one take, which is even more stunning.) I defy you to find a superior performance.

Put that in Guitar Hero III, and you have my sixty dollars.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

List of the week: the 20 Albums That Should Be in Rock Band

I've previously expounded on Rock Band a few times, making suggestions regarding the soundtrack. Last time, I mentioned songs that should be included; but with the announcement that whole albums -- including Who's Next and Nevermind -- would be available for download, I feel another list is in order. So here are the twenty albums that should find their way onto the soundtrack, not counting the two already announced.

And before we get to the choices, let's hope these things are reasonably priced. I don't want to have to pay $17 for each of these albums, know what I mean?

Again, these albums are listed in the order in which they occur to me. I've also included a few songs titles to back up my point. These albums rule.
  1. Metallica, Metallica. "Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," "The Unforgiven."
  2. Appetite for Destruction, Guns N' Roses. "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City," "It's So Easy."
  3. OK Computer, Radiohead. "Airbag," "Paranoid Android," "Let Down"
  4. Dirt, Alice in Chains. "Would?," "Them Bones," "Rooster"
  5. Ten, Pearl Jam. "Evenflow," "Alive," "Jeremy"
  6. Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. "All Along the Watchtower," "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
  7. Master of Puppets, Metallica. "Master of Puppets," "Battery," "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"
  8. Back in Black, AC/DC. "Hells Bells," "Back in Black," "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution"
  9. Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip. "Courage," "At the Hundredth Meridian," "Locked in the Trunk of a Car"
  10. The Wall, Pink Floyd. "Comfortably Numb," "Run Like Hell," "Young Lust"
  11. American Idiot, Green Day. "Jesus of Suburbia," "American Idiot," "Holiday"
  12. Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones. "Gimme Shelter," "Let It Bleed," "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
  13. The Battle of Los Angeles, Rage Against the Machine. "Guerrilla Radio," "Sleep Now in the Fire," "War Within a Breath" [I can totally rap just like Zack de la Rocha.]
  14. Undertow, Tool. "Sober," "Flood," "Prison Sex"
  15. Graceland, Paul Simon. "Graceland," "The Boy in the Bubble," "Gumboots" [Hey, it can't all be heavy metal thunder. Which reminds me...]
  16. Cowboys from Hell, Pantera. "Cowboys from Hell," "Cemetery Gates," "Primal Concrete Sledge"
  17. Happiness...Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch, Our Lady Peace. "One Man Army," "Blister," "Lying Awake"
  18. Thriller, Michael Jackson. "Beat It," "Billie Jean," "Thriller" [What?]
  19. Just pick any of the first six Led Zeppelin albums. Or, better yet, all of them.
  20. Achtung Baby, U2. "One," "Mysterious Ways," "Until the End of the World"
One album I originally selected but removed was Metallica's Ride the Lightning. A great choice, yeah, but I removed it because its best song -- "The Call of Ktulu" -- is instrumental, thus defeating some of the fun of Rock Band.

Now, who wants to bet that after Who's Next and Nevermind, the first wave of downloads will be dominated by the discographies of My Chemical Romance and Nickelback?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

That church really needs to sort out its priorities

So, let's follow the logic of the Catholic Church. (Oxymoronic, I know. But stay with me.)

Priest. Pedophile. Ignore the problem. Hope it goes away on its on. Don't get rid of priest. Move priest to somewhere else. Hope no one notices.

Many priests. Many pedophiles. Repeat previous solution.

Priest. Yells at skateboarders. Get puts on indefinite leave with threat of "further action." Humble public apology.

Then again, this priest was stupid enough to be recorded engaging in his malfeasance. Which can't be said about the other guys.