Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If you're going to savagely attack someone, you don't knock politely at their hotel room door first

Heroes -- "Meh" -1. Naught but a massive setup for next week's big finale, the events of which seemed to be largely given away by the previews. But I could be wrong. (I better be wrong about one particular plot development, anyway -- the demise of the show's only truly great character would not endear me to future episodes.)

But this episode seemed a huge exercise in "How stupid can we possibly make our characters act all at the same time?" The Idiot Ball was passed around all over the map, from Peter to Mohinder (who owns the ball and keeps it in his satchel when not in use) to Micah and...uh, whatever his cousin's name is, to Alejandro (wait, could you speak English this whole time?!) to Elle. (Why'd she take the car keys out of the ignition in the first place?)

But seriously, people: kill who I think you're about to kill, and I'll never watch the show again. Especially if the worst character on the show does the deed. Don't you dare.

Now playing: Randy Newman - Burn On
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 23, 2007

I wrote ten pages of Revolver script, that should make somebody happy

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I...did not. We'll leave it at that.

I meant to post this on Wednesday, but I got distracted by things and didn't get around to. So here's some belated turkey humor, courtesy of the greatest drama in television history.

Now playing: Jim Rome - Thu, November 22nd, 2007 Hour 1
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Buzz can suck my [radio edit]

Remember the Mystery Band concert I mentioned the other day? The Buzz finally made the announcement today.

Who is it? Kid Rock.


There's already something like a hundred tickets up on eBay.


Well, I was right: their sales plan made no sense...unless they were ripping you off. Fifty bucks for a Kid Rock concert? You hath been ripped off, says I.

Serves you right. Asshats.

But props to the Buzz: they got their money. Gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Now playing: Regina Spektor - Prisoners
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 19, 2007

Goddamn you, Suresh -- I hope you die in a car crash

Tonight's Heroes -- "Meh" +5, which scores as "Great." I didn't think they still had one this good in them, frankly.

Of course, now they've hit a high note...and there are two more episodes left. Good timing, fuckwads.

Now playing: Tool - Rosetta Stoned
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I hope it's Neil Diamond

In the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "I, Borg," Geordi and Data cook up a way to finish off the Borg once and for all: an insidious computer program. What is it? Just a picture -- but one that is illogical and impossible to properly reconcile in real three-dimensional space, like an M.C. Escher drawing. The theory is that once the image is uploaded into the Borg's hive mind, the Collective will start trying to figure it out. When they can't, more and more combined brain power will be devoted to it. And when that doesn't work either, even more RAM will get eaten up by this thing, until the Borg's CPU Usage meter hits 100% and they get a Blue Screen of Death.

My brain works like that sometimes, as you probably know. I hit something illogical and impossible to reconcile, and I obsess about it until...well, until my cerebral hard drive locks up.

Check this out: local radio station 94.5 FM (or "The Buzz," as they'd like me to call them, I'm sure) is sponsoring a trio of concerts over the next month, all three of which are sold out. The first is Jonathan Davis, who you might know as the frontman for Korn. The second show features local Texas band the Toadies, who haven't had a hit in about fourteen years, but have a passionate following.

The band performing at the third show? I don't know. I don't mean that I haven't heard; I mean I don't know because they're not telling.

Tickets went on sale last week. Tickets for a concert for which no band had been announced. The tickets were fifty dollars. Again, fifty dollars for a ticket to a concert with no announced act.

The Buzz then declared they would name the band...after tickets had sold out!


There's an old adage in pro wrestling: if they announce that an upcoming event will have a "mystery guest," you're going to be let down. Why? Because if they had anyone worth talking about, they'd tell you to make sure you bought a ticket. If they've got a bona fide superstar that everyone would pay to see, they'd say so.

If they had a band worth a fifty dollar ticket, why wouldn't they just go ahead and announce it? What the hell kind of sense does it make to keep it a secret...unless they're ripping you off?

I've been bouncing this around in my head for the last couple of days, trying to piece it together. It's been a common topic of conversation among the bored at Pizza Place. The common theories:

1. "They're trying to build up buzz and excitement by keeping it a secret." Great -- except they're not announcing the band until after the tickets sell out. What good will any of that buzz and excitement do them? They'll already have all the money.
2. "It's a huge band that would normally sell out in seven minutes. By keeping it a secret, they slow that down, so everyone gets a chance to go." Except big fans of whatever band it is are still going to get left out, because they don't know their favorite band is playing! And again -- since they're not talking until tickets have sold out, what difference does it make how fast those tickets sell? They're the same price, whether they're sold out in seven minutes or seven days.

Not only does it not make sense from a business perspective, it doesn't make sense from a fan service perspective, either. Since the band is a secret, the people buying tickets are clueless. I mean, say My Chemical Romance puts on a show. Sure, My Chemical Romance sucks hardcore -- but there are people out there who like them, and they'll buy tickets to the concert. What you probably won't have are MCR-haters clogging up the seats and desperately trying to get rid of their tickets. And with the act a mystery, that's what you're guaranteed to have at this show. Even if the band is hugely popular -- like Incubus or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the two guesses that seem most popular at Pizza Place -- you're going to have a large percentage of people who would rather die than drop fifty bucks to see their show. And those people are going to feel completely screwed and ripped off by this scheme.

Want it to get more interesting? The tickets have sold out -- they sold out Saturday, as a matter of fact. Have they made the announcement? No! On Saturday, they stated that they'd make the revelation later in the day...and then, instead, delayed it until Tuesday. So now they're getting jerked around with the grand reveal, too? And keep in mind, the concert takes place on December 9 -- just a few weeks from now, giving the inevitable percentage of ticket-buyers who hate the Mystery Band precious little time to unload their ducats on eBay.

So: the scheme makes no sense from a business perspective, it makes so sense from the audience's perspective. Why the bloody hell would anyone do this? Well, I have a theory. And it draws back to pro wrestling again. (Hey, I used to work for a pro wrestling company; I have to use that business experience somewhere, don't I?)

In 1990, World Championship Wrestling introduced a villain to act as foil for their champion, Sting. He called himself the Black Scorpion, and addressed Sting decked entirely in black. A hood covered his face; his voice was distorted to further hide his identity. He tormented Sting for an entire year (!), all the while leaving fans guessing as to who he really was.

Why all the secrecy? Because WCW didn't have anyone. Their original candidate -- some schmuck no one had ever heard of -- fell through. So they just strung it along for as long as they could, keeping the Scorpion under his hood while they frantically tried to find someone to take the role.

I think that's what the Buzz is doing. I imagine the concert was a last-minute ploy, so last-minute they had to start selling tickets before the contracts were signed. And in true American style, their PR department came up with this "It's not a bug, it's a feature" scheme to make it look like an inventive idea.

Either that, or the entire company is on acid. Or they're really, really stupid. Or both, frankly.

Now playing: The Police - Synchronicity II
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The fact that the lead singer bears an unfortunate resemblance to "Weird Al" Yankovic actually doesn't help me

After playing -- well, attempting to play -- DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames" on Guitar Hero III, I started to wonder how legitimate the band was. Was this a band making music that was actually supposed to be serious? Or were they a satirical effort, a sort of speed metal Spinal Tap? I downloaded the song and listened to it many times, and came no closer to understanding. What am I to make of lyrics like:

Now here we stand with their blood on our hands
We've fought so hard, now can we understand?
I'll break the seal of this curse if I possibly can
For freedom of every man!

So far away, we wait for the day
For the light source so wasted and gone
We feel the pain of a lifetime lost in a thousand days
Through the fire and the flames we carry on!

Are they for real? Were they actually trying to capture the emotion of some sort of epic battle? Or are they making fun of all the other bands who write songs just like this? Surely, the redundancy of saying that they'll carry on through the fire and through the flames is a gag, right? What about the cartoonishly flashy guitar work -- that kind of fingertip gymnastics couldn't possibly be taken seriously. Could it?

I found the video on YouTube, and I'm now less sure.

The close-ups of the fingers for the solos? Close-ups that appear to have been sped up? This can't be serious. Can it?

You tell me.

[The lyric I quoted isn't in that video, of course -- that version of the song is half as long as the better (?) full version, featured in the game. Which you can see here:

Yeah, I still have no idea.]

Now playing: Chrono Trigger - Tyrano Lair
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 16, 2007

Santa did get my letter!

Barry Bonds has been indicted on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Derek Jeter may be a tax cheat.

My name remains at the top of the waiting list for PlayStation 3s over at Partners. Should be within a couple weeks.

And the Rock Band people have finally announced the pricing and release schedule of some of the downloadable content. Available within the first month of release:
  • "Ride the Lightning," Metallica
  • "Blackened," Metallica
  • "...And Justice for All," Metallica
  • "Can't Stand Losing You," The Police
  • "Roxanne," The Police
  • "Fortunate Son," Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • "Bang a Gong (Get It On)," T-Rex
  • "Heroes," David Bowie
  • "N.I.B.," Black Sabbath
  • "War Pigs," Black Sabbath
  • "My Iron Lung," Radiohead
  • "Buddy Holly," Weezer
In the first month.

Christmas is early this year, huh?

Now playing: AC/DC - Hard As A Rock
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I guess "Jump! Jump!" wouldn't have worked as well

Company inspirational slogans amuse me. I recall once sitting in McDonald's and reading a sign over the drive-thru window that said something like "S.D.F.U. -- All the time!" FRINAN and I spent several minutes trying to decode that acronym. Most involved uncomfortable things done with unicorns and umbrellas.

But here's an interesting one from Pizza Place. I came into work the other day and found that Airfon had fixed upon a new inspirational message:

That's just inspirational as hell, isn't it?

If the reference eludes you -- as I imagine it would -- this video should refresh your memory.

Now playing: Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill
via FoxyTunes

Something to tide you over

After promising them for years, ABC and the Bad Robot staff finally made good: the new Lost "mobisodes" are here. The first is now on for your viewing pleasure. And it's amazing how in just over two and a half minutes, Lost manages to be more compelling than most of this new season of Heroes, which has been branded with an Official Suck Sanction, as we previously discussed. (Of course, it probably only resonates like that for dedicated fans, so your mileage on the mobisode may vary.)

I'm invoking the new "Meh" scale to describe new episodes of Heroes, since I no longer want to be all spoilerly and blog about it directly. (I know René reads the blog, see, and I don't want to give anything away before he gets a chance to see it later in the week.) The scale sees "Meh" directly in the middle, representing a run-of-the-mill, mediocre, bland episode. We can then assign positive and negative numbers, showing how far to either side the episode goes. I'd say five points on the plus side brings us to "Great!"; five points on the negative side takes us to "Garbage!" It's very scientific.

Tonight's episode? "Meh" +1. The Wonder Twins are so painfully boring that they might just become a new slang term.

"Man, they're showing old Next Gen episodes on G4."
"Yeah, but right now, the rotation is in season six. All the good writers left to do DS9, and the whole show went all Maya and Alejandro."
"Yeah, but at least it's better than Voyager."
"Well, yeah."

It's been a few months, so I updated my 100 favorite songs list, as though you cared. The most interesting thing about it? My 1 and 2 songs have flipped. And it's now been fortified with three times as much Regina Spektor!

In the meantime, I have entered into a sacred pact with René. My part of the bargain: to finish the new episode of Revolver in the next two weeks. We'll see about that. (Hey, I've managed to update A Great Disservice consistently, right?)

Now playing: Dave Matthews Band - Warehouse
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 12, 2007

Inconsequential nonsense

There is a gray area that lies between "everything is nominal" and "this problem needs to be solved immediately." When problems arise in this space, it can be weeks (or months) (or years) before I get around to solving them. Is it because I'm lazy? No. No, it's because...actually, yes, it's because I'm lazy. Or, in this instance, it's because I'm broke. And lazy.

The morning after the Regina Spektor concert, I retrieved my iPod from the pocket of the pants in which they'd been left, and found it damaged: the display was cracked. Not the outer transparent part; the actual LCD underneath that was shattered. (How this occurred, I have no idea.) The liquid crystal was leaking from the crack, creating a bruise-like purple spot on the face of the display. When turned on, the bruise turned black, and random black lines appeared in the window, rather than the usual options.

"Oh -- fuck!" I yelled. My iPod was almost certainly no longer under warranty (though I honestly don't know; I bought it over a year ago, and I think it's only a one-year deal), and I can't fix this. And I have nowhere near enough cash to buy a new one.

But then I took it out to my car, hooked it up to the car stereo, works. It works just fine. And since the interface goes through my car stereo's display and not the iPod's, the functionality isn't hindered at all. Once disconnected, of course, it becomes much more cumbersome, but 95% of the time I'm using my iPod, I'm using it in my car.

So: it's a problem. But it falls directly into that glorious gray area. So don't look for this one to get fixed anytime soon.

Now playing: The Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge Song
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The first step is admitting you have a problem

It's no secret that, by and large, Heroes has been less-than-stellar this season. Want to know something surprising, though? The creator of the show, Tim Kring, is willing to admit it.

Of course, it's really too late to do anything about it, since this "volume" of episodes ends in less than a month, and who knows what happens after that with the Writer's Guild strike. But they've admitting mistakes, and that's a step in the right direction.

Poor little Regina

Remember that train wreck that happened when Regina Spektor tried to play "Poor Little Rich Boy" the other night? Here's a video:

And here's "Hotel Song," with talentless douchebag opening act Only Son providing the human beatbox.

Hey, he is good at something!

Also, René asked me to tell you about the game we were playing before the concert (and while Only Son was drowning on stage): basically, we tried to think of the most wildly inappropriate songs Regina could cover. The best ones I remember are:
  • "Killing in the Name," Rage Against the Machine
  • "Kim," Eminem
  • "How I Could Just Kill a Man," Cypress Hill
  • "The Metal," Tenacious D
  • "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," Iron Butterfly
  • "Born to Be Wild," Steppenwolf
  • "Misirlou," Dick Dale
  • "Welcome to the Jungle," Guns N' Roses
For the record, she could pull all of those off. And I'd pay to watch her do it.

Now playing: Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For you, Brad? I've got five

So, the Astros did what people have been screaming at them to do for a year and a half now: traded Brad Lidge. In this case, along with Eric Bruntlett to Philadelphia for five players. Take up thy gascan and walk, Mr. Lidge. Don't let the bullpen door hit you in the ass on the way out.

But I'm sure he'll do well in Philly. I mean, it's not like they've ever had a problem with longball-prone closers before.

Now playing: Regina Spektor - Fidelity
via FoxyTunes

Regina Spektor Concert, Part 2: The Conclusioning

Now, I don't think any of those present would let me get away with only highlighting the excellent part of Ms. Spektor's concert last night. Make no mistake: she was phenomenal. Everything else, though...
  1. The crowd was idiotic. Whooping and screaming and going "Yeaaaaaah!" in the middle of a song for no reason is horrendously obnoxious whenever it happens, but when it gets to the point where the performer has to stop and ask you to shut up, you know it's bad.
  2. Bonus points to the guy standing a few feet behind me, who got good and plastered well before the show started. He sang along, at the top of his lungs, to every single song. Nice to see you're a fan, buddy, but shut the fuck up. When the performer has to stop -- in the middle of a song -- and tell you, personally, to shut the hell up and go away, you've reached a new level.
  3. The opening act. Oh, sweet fancy Moses, the opening act. Boring folk songs, with refrigerator-magnet poetry lyrics, and a backing band that consisted of his iPod. "This is my iPod," he said, pointing to where it sat on a stool. "It has something to say." He pressed play, and proceeded to engage in a scripted conversation with his own voice on his iPod. Your Junior High Talent Show called, they want their gimmick back.
  4. Am I the only one bothered by all the people who chose to watch most of the concert on the video screens of their digital cameras?
  5. The interminable wait for the doors to open, the interminable wait for the opening act to start, the interminable wait for the opening act to stop, and the interminable wait for Regina to come out. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been locked in a battle royale for floor position with drunk idiots who felt entitled to a closer spot. But I did, so it sucked.
So, yeah: it was far from perfect. But you know what? She got this look on her face as she sang the vocal run on the chorus to "Fidelity." The slight curve of a smile, a shining look in her eyes. Without all the other instruments, the song is even bouncier, even more fun. Under those lights, singing that wonderful song, with that look...

Everything else was worth that. So says I.

Now playing: Jim Rome - Wed, November 7th, 2007 Hour 3
via FoxyTunes

Falling with style

Poor little rich boy, all the couples have gone
You wish that they hadn't, you don't want to be alone
But they wanna kiss and they got homes of their own
Poor little rich boy, all the couples have gone
They've gone, they've gone

And you don't love your girlfriend
You don't love your girlfriend
And you think that you should-- you think you -- you --


She puts her face in her hands and giggles for a second. "Okay, okay..."

And you think that she -- you should --

"Fuck! What the fuck is it?" She turns to the audience. "Does anybody here know the words to the song that I fucking wrote?"

She spends a few minutes trying to get suggestions from the front row. Then: "Who would write that? What kind of song is that?"

She returns to the piano, cues it up, and...screws it up again. "Oh, fuck it!" she cries with a laugh, and continues the song, pounding her drumstick with a fervor that even Lars Ulrich could appreciate.

The chorus comes around again. And...

And you think that you should but she thinks that she’s fat
But she isn’t but you don’t love her anyway

She nails it! She pauses for a second, looks to the ceiling, and yells "Yes!" The crowd erupts.

Regina Spektor botching the living shit out of "Poor Little Rich Boy" is a million times more entertaining than most artists playing their songs correctly.

The songs she didn't mess up were great, too.

Now playing: Regina Spektor - Sailor Song
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You know, Mohinder, for such a smart guy, you're a goddamn moron

[No real spoilers, 'cause I know René won't get to watch it until later in the week.]

Against all odds, last night's Heroes was actually really, really good: Parkman grows a set, the Hiro stuff is revealed to finally have a point, and Peter Petrelli didn't annoy me nearly as much as usual. (Claire Bear continues to be dull as dishwater, but they can't all be winners, can they?) I'm just glad that they seemed to actually have a plan all along -- they were just following the Lost playbook of foot-shuffling, as I suggested before.

And did you see the trailers for next week? Holy awesome, Batman.

Now playing: Franz Ferdinand - I'm Your Villain
via FoxyTunes

You can blame Airfon for this, if you're looking for someone

So I get lots and lots of stupid customers at work, as I may have mentioned one or two thousand times. My manager, Airfon, has told me repeatedly to write them down.

For some reason, I listened to him. So yes, I'm asking you to read more of my crap. Blame him.

As it says over there, I'll update three times a week. If I actually pull that off for a month, I think I should received some sort of prize.

Now playing: DragonForce - Through the Fire and Flames
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Never mind -- this is too funny not to mention

No shortage of Star Wars videos on YouTube, is there?

Now playing: The Who - The Seeker
via FoxyTunes