Friday, February 25, 2005

Six Hours in the Life of a Shuffle

So I got my half-gigabyte iPod Shuffle, and I dig it. One got returned to work a few days ago, because the customer couldn't believe it didn't have a screen(!), and then turned around and spent about the same amount on another flash-based player that did have a screen, but half of the capacity. Fucking morons. Anyway, the following is the playlist that's currently sitting on my Shuffle. I don't really trust the Autofill system, so I generated a smart-list to cull the songs that were most highly-rated in my playlist (which is to say that I've finally found a reason to rate songs in iTunes).

  • Counting Crows, "A Murder of One," August and Everything After: The first song on the playlist, and I'm just going to get it out of the way that I put this one on here because Five Year Jacket used to occasionally play it, back when they were good. While I'm on the subject, August and Everything After was a pretty damn good album, lacking any songs that were particularly sub-standard. This reminds me that I have to rip Recovering the Satellites, because I really want to listen to "Angels of the Silences."
  • Cheap Trick, "Mighty Wings," Top Gun Soundtrack: This song just rules, showing that Cheap Trick could still rock, despite their only #1 song was the piddly-ass ballad "The Flame." And Rick Nielsen has a pretty cool guitar solo on this one, virtually justifying the purchase of a soundtrack that was watered down by crap like Berlin and Loverboy.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Mn.," Folk Songs: A lot of people say this is the best song Five Year Jacket ever did. Personally, I don't think so, but -like the songs that got on the playlist- it's pretty damn good, and one of those few situations where a dropped-D tuning can be more than just something you do when you're a garage band looking for another way to emulate Nirvana.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Monsters and Angels," Bootleg: This is the song that will absolutely wreck your day, even months after a bad breakup. I recorded this one at the martini bar on New Year's Eve a few years ago, and -while I'm generally satisfied with it- I still want to go back and try to fix the sound a little more.
  • Counting Crows, "Mr. Jones," August and Everything After: Just a silly little pop song that made the list because "we all want something beautiful," but the guy with the guitar will always get the girl. Make no mistake about that. It also reminds me of the old days of drinking coffee at the diner after school with people that I may or may not ever run into again.
  • Bruce Springsteen, "My Hometown," Born in the U.S.A.: You know, for how well the album sold, a lot of people never really realized that Born in the U.S.A. is a great representation of how dystopic America was getting in the middle of the Eighties for anyone in America who wasn't filthy rich. It was the beginning of job-outsourcing, downsizing, and the government kept trying to say that "supply-side economics" made sense, even though it doesn't, mathematically speaking.
  • Five Year Jacket, "The Ring," Bootleg: Recorded at a biker bar named Fat Daddy'z in Seneca, a couple of months before the aforementioned New Year's show, this song is actually a cover, though I don't recall by whom. It's catchy, and I want to... Okay, just assume that I want to remaster everything on this bootleg.
  • Nada Surf, "Neither Heaven Nor Space," Let Go: This is just one of those songs I like to relax with. I can't really say much about it, other than the fact that I bought this album because a couple of other songs by Nada Surf were playing in the Starbucks I used to work at.
  • Elastica, "Never Here," Elastica: I think that it's a shame that not everyone knew about Elastica when they came out. It's a great album, with three good-looking women on guitars and vocals, and some guy on drums. It pretty well sums up British rock, circa 1994-95, around the same time that Sleeper did the same thing, but with more pop-music sensibility (and a really hot singer).
  • Nick Drake, "Northern Sky," Way to Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake: I picked this CD up one day down in Champaign, because I'd heard "Pink Moon" in a Volkswagen advertisement. Nick Drake is one of those sad stories of music, sort of like Syd Barrett. Prior to his early death, Nick Drake was an introvert who made some really pretty music, although I'm still trying to figure out what "Fruit Tree" was all about.
  • Alanis Morissette, "No Pressure Over Cappuccino," Unplugged: This song made the playlist for a couple of reasons, all of which have to do with one of my ex-girlfriends. My friend Jessica invited her for coffee at about one o'clock in the morning, hoping that my ex-girlfriend and I could work out some issues, to which my ex-girlfriend agreed, but added, "No date over cappuccino." Jessica didn't get it, and I just smiled.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Non Sum Qualis Eram," Bootleg: Not one of my favorite Five Year Jacket songs, but still good enough to make the list, which goes to say how good it is. If memory serves, the song title comes from a British piece of poetry which, roughly translated, is Latin for, "I am not what I used to be." Anybody well-read enough to write that into a song deserves consideration on any playlist.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Nothing's Free," Bootleg: This one's reportedly the biography of Kevin, the (former) singer-songwriter of Five Year Jacket, and I might've fucked up the title, so if my friend Kristen could correct me, that'd be great. Like most Five Year Jacket songs, it's catchy.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Part of Me," Bootleg: It's a pretty basic song, written in couplets of polar opposites, but it works because it's a great drinking song.
  • John Mellencamp, "Pink Houses," Words & Music, John Mellencamp: This double-disc greatest-hits package can be had for about twelve bucks, and I picked this song because Five Year Jacket (yes, all roads lead back to the band) played it following the 4th of July fireworks at the martini bar one year. For some reason, it just fit the moment, not to mention there was a great crowd that night.
  • The Police, "So Lonely," Outlandos D'Amour: One of the Starbucks shift-supervisors was blasting this song one night while she and I were closing, and it was sandwiched for some reason between a couple of White Stripes songs. Andy Summers' guitar solo on this one just rocks, too. By the way, if anyone could buy me Message in a Box, that'd be great.
  • The Psychedelic Furs, "Pretty in Pink," Pretty in Pink Soundtrack: Now, why a John Hughes movie would be named after a Psychedelic Furs song is completely beyond me, but my college English teacher once referenced the group as an example of inserting extra syllables into otherwise proper poetic meter. I was the only person in the class who had ever heard of the band.
  • Eric Clapton, "Promises," Cream of Clapton: Okay, so it sounds more like country than proper Clapton, but it's a song that works pretty well when you're drinking to forget all about "Monsters and Angels." One verse goes, "I don't care what you do at night, and I don't care how you get your delights; I'll leave you alone, I'll just let it be; I don't love you and you don't love me." And yet it's all bullshit.
  • Seaweed, "Go Your Own Way," Clerks Soundtrack: And then this one just pushes you off the edge and makes you say the big, "Fuck you," to your ex, after you cry about it from the last few songs I referenced. This version's a lot more crunchy than the Fleetwood Mac version, which is why I went with this one, rather than the original.
  • Rush, "Spirit of the Radio," Permanent Waves: I never really listened to Rush prior to last year. I was in a rock band at school, and the day-band (I was in the night-band) played this song, because they had a guitarist who was absolutely fucking awesome. They blew the top off of the place, and then the day-band just basically had to go, "Okay, and now we're going to play blues songs, goodnight to you rock fans." This song just fucking rocks.
  • Chris Cornell, "Sunshower," Great Expectations Soundtrack: This song is just gorgeous. There's no other reason or explanation. Gorgeous.
  • Dave Brubeck, "Take Five," Dave Brubeck's Greatest Hits: On Wednesday night's episode of The West Wing, there was this bizarre visual exchange involving the sort-of drum solo in the middle of the song, involving Kate Harper and Will Bailey. The two kept looking at each other while the other one wasn't, and it was just really funny for some reason.
  • The Eagles, "Take It Easy," Hell Freezes Over: I used to love country music back when it was all about driving your big rig. It sucks now, but it was great back then. While this is technically "California rock," it's still a great and classic song.
  • Alanis Morissette, "That I Would Be Good," Unplugged: Again, it's only on here because it reminds me of one of my ex-girlfriends. And that's a good thing.
  • The Ending, "The Ending," (album not yet released): This is my friend Louie's band, and the two songs that they have up on their web page rock. It's always good to see that Louie can still write songs that are terribly catchy almost every time he decides to write one. It's been like that since high school, and I hate him for being able to do it.
  • The Offspring, "The Kids Aren't Alright," Americana: This song rocks and makes me drive way too fast. I have to say that I hated Smash, but Ixnay on the Hombre and Americana were very good albums, although I liked a lot of the songs on Americana a lot less after they were used in Crazy Taxi.
  • Nada Surf, "The Way You Wear Your Head," Let Go: A fairly rockin' song, which misquotes Cheap Trick at one point, it's punchy and fun like the Breeders' version of "Flipside," but without the whole surf-vibe and with words. So it's basically nothing like it, but it's just fun, nonetheless.
  • Bruce Springsteen, "Thunder Road," Born to Run: This is the song for the guy who just wants to pick up his (or anyone else's) girl and get the hell out of the craptastic town he was born and raised in.
  • Primitive Radio Gods, "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Change in My Hand," Rocket: Hell, at the moment, even I'm trying to remember why this song's on here, other than because it's just nice to zone out to.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Unlovable," Bootleg: It's live Five Year Jacket, it's good. Nothing else to say, there. By the way, do not take that to mean you should go see Five Year Jacket now, because you shouldn't. Reportedly, they really suck lately.
  • U2, "Vertigo," How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: Not until I listened to this on my iPod did I realize how cool it can be to discretely separate bass and guitar onto right and left channels. This song rocks as well as anything that U2's ever done.
  • U2, "With or Without You," The Joshua Tree: It's great for that melancholy moment that just comes about from time to time. Not to get everyone else into that mood, but we've all had this relationship; most of us probably have several times.
  • Elton John, "Your Song," Elton John: The only moment in Moulin Rouge that I like is when Ewan McGregor starts singing this song. I started listening to Elton John almost immediately after seeing Almost Famous, which makes me wonder why "Tiny Dancer" isn't anywhere in my playlist.
  • The Cranberries, "Zombie," No Need to Argue: Despite the death of Kurt Cobain, 1994 was still a good year for music. As noted with Elastica earlier, the U.K. was just sending us everything during those years (remember Oasis?). Anyway, I still think that Dolores O'Riordan has an elf in her throat that sings for her. With regard to this song, the only reason to listen to it is for the end of the song when the drummer just gets to go apeshit.
  • The Ending, "Agoraphobia," (album not yet released): Again, it's on their website for download, and it's terribly catchy, influenced in parts by 80's hair-band rock, early 90's alternative, and probably about six other things that make me think there really aren't any other bands out there that sound like this. I hate Louie for being able to write catchy songs, especially the guitar solo.
  • U2, "All I Want Is You," Reality Bites Soundtrack: I used to love the movie Reality Bites, but now it's just one of those things that I'd only watch if it was on television and whatever was on PBS and the History Channel were totally devoid of anything interesting. However, this song runs over the credits, I think, and The Edge's guitar solo at the end of the song is pretty nifty.
  • Andrew W.K., "Party Hard," I Get Wet: Andrew W.K., for those of you who don't know, are what Ben Folds would be after three days without sleep, fueled by nothing but beer and Dexatrim. He is undoubtedly the king of the party, with three songs on I Get Wet with the word "party" in them. It's just great, fun music, I tell you.
  • Aphex Twin, "O Fortuna (remix)," (no idea what album): Other than Wagner's "Ring Cycle," Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," from which "O Fortuna" (also known as "the Excalibur song") is taken is probably the only opera that I'd ever like to see. It's just a great song in its original state, and the Aphex Twin remix changes it so that I want to drive really fast while listening to it.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Aristotle," Bootleg: Probably one of my three favorite songs by Five Year Jacket, partly because I can play it on my guitar without any problem, partly because it's the first song I ever heard them play.
  • Pearl Jam, "Baba O'Riley," (one of my many Pearl Jam live albums): This song (commonly mislabeled "Teenage Wasteland") is, bar none, my favorite song by The Who. I have no fucking idea how Mike McCready can play the organ part on guitar, but it works, and the end result is the song just rocks.
  • Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands," Darkness on the Edge of Town: It's Springsteen. If there's anyone that I love listening to almost as much as Five Year Jacket, it's Springsteen. By the way, in about five, ten years, if anyone wants to start a Springsteen cover-band with me, let me know.
  • Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run," Born to Run: "In the day we sweat it out on the streets of the runaway American dream, at night we ride through mansions of glory on our suicide machines." If comedian Robert Wuhl is to be believed, New Jersey actually considered this song to be a replacement for their state anthem. In any case, this song rocks from the opening drum beats to the last "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhhh..."
  • Pearl Jam, "Breath," Singles Soundtrack: This was probably the last really good Pearl Jam song, before they decided to go and start self-producing. I'm sorry, but ten was a really great album, possibly because there was a record company looking over their shoulder, rather than in spite of it. I bought vs., then Vitalogy, and now I just buy the live albums, because -like KISS- they're better live than in a studio.
  • Bruce Springsteen, "Brilliant Disguise," Tunnel of Love: Everyone has two faces. Maybe I'm wrong here, and I'm just a liar and I surround myself with people like myself, but I think everyone has things that they keep from their friends and lovers, either because it would hurt themselves or the other person. No matter the level of intimacy, there's always something; not necessarily a major sin, but often something along the line of Jimmy Carter cheating in his heart. That's what I get from this song.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Bring Me Back," Bootleg: This song just fucking rocks, and that's why it was the closer for most shows. I've used this song to rationalize my relationships (regardless of level of involvement) with women for a couple of years now, and that's probably why I dig it so much. Other than, again, the song fucking rocks.
  • Echo and the Bunnymen, "Bring on the Dancing Horses," Pretty in Pink Soundtrack: I never really liked this song until it was on the rotation at Starbucks. I have no idea why a twenty year-old song was in the rotation, but listening to it reminds me of happy afternoons when it wasn't busy, before the bimbo-boxes (minivans) would hit my drive-thru and order their decaffeinated lattes.
  • Bruce Springsteen, "Secret Garden," Greatest Hits: It's from Jerry Maguire, which is a Cameron Crowe movie, which means that it ends up on the list. I suppose I should also put Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" on here, but this one's Springsteen, so it gets priority.
  • Chantal Kreviazuk, "Leaving on a Jet Plane," Armageddon Soundtrack: Jack up the bass and let this song blow a hole right through your body. Seriously, you'd never think it was there. In any case, this is a John Denver song, redone for a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, but it works.
  • Coldplay, "Clocks," A Rush of Blood to the Head: Prior to this song, I never thought music could cascade, like snow flying down from the sky, hitting the ground and then flying back up to get blown back down again. Just fucking gorgeous.
  • Coldplay, "Yellow (live)," Live 2003: I don't like this song that much. Don't know why it's on here. It reminds me of yellow, now that I look up at the previous song's description.
  • Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Come Back Down," Pale: It's catchy, and not annoying like some of the stuff off of Fear. Not much more to it than that.
  • Billy Idol, "Cradle of Love," Charmed Life: This song fucking rocks, probably the last time Billy Idol made a song that did so. However, what sends this song over the top for me is that hearing it reminds me of the David Fincher video, with the uptight business guy and the jailbait girl who comes over and just fucks up everything for his world. If you remember the video, just try and tell me you don't still think of it from time to time.
  • Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me," Crash: Yeah, it reminds me of that ex-girlfriend again. Different reason for liking the song, though, was that I once had to drive with my sister, her husband, and my nephew to Ohio. My nephew was like a year old at the time, and he didn't care for driving five miles, let alone a six hour drive to Ohio. Strangely, the Crash album was like dosing the kid up with two Valiums and a shot of Stoli. Kid was out like a light.
  • Cream, "Sunshine of Your Love," Disraeli Gears: This is the song that got me into Clapton. One day in sixth or seventh grade, I got a hold of my parents' record collection, and after sifting out all of the garbage, I was left with The Doors, the Stones, the Beatles, and this group named Cream. Now, I'd heard of Clapton, so I put on Disraeli Gears, and I was just fucking blown away. "Tales of Brave Ulysses" was pretty damn good, too. For how good the three albums were, you'd never think that the band was only together for about two years.
  • Cream, "Crossroads," Wheels of Fire: How can you not absolutely love it? This covered Robert Johnson way before people were just covering Johnson for the sake of it being cool (read: the 90's). This song just fucking rocks, pretty much because of Clapton's guitar work, but pull out the right headphone and listen to Jack Bruce go apeshit on the bass during the solo.
  • Billy Idol, "Dancing With Myself," Greatest Hits: Actually, the version that I'm listening to is the extended version, because you can actually hear the part where they truncated about forty seconds out of the song on the Greatest Hits disc. This might be from my Vital Idol import. In any case, Idol did this one with Generation X just before he went out on his own, because Generation X was just a little too disco. If you listen to this one, you can tell how it was built for dance clubs, whereas Rebel Yell... yeah, nothing you can do with that one but fuck, I guess. Just kidding. Had to see if anyone was paying attention this far down.
  • Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'," Escape: The night-band played this one, too. Their guitarist had an effects pedal bigger than my guitar. However, he played the Neil Schon part just about perfectly, and that's pretty much the highlight of the song. I should also add that Escape was pretty much the high point of Journey, with the lineup of Steve Perry, Neil Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, and Steve Smith. Just don't watch the videos and see what they looked like, because you'll just go, "Fuckin' 80's rejects..."
  • Aerosmith, "Dream On," Last Action Hero Soundtrack: The movie sucks, but the soundtrack is pretty good for hard rock. This version of "Dream On," if I'm not mistaken is from one of the MTV Video Music Awards shows, where Steven Tyler was flown in, piano and all, from the rafters, with the band playing in front of a full orchestra led by the late Michael Kamen. I thought it was the coolest thing the VMA's had ever done until an operatic choir backed up Kid Rock on "Bawitdaba," which then brought out Run-DMC and Joe Perry and Steven Tyler to do "Walk This Way." This was arguably eclipsed a couple of years ago when the new Guns 'N' Roses did a couple of songs at the end of the show. Fuck you, I loved it.
  • Elastica, "Stutter," Elastica: This song is probably the most rockin' thing on the CD, and is yet another case of making me want to drive really fast.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Everything," Bootleg: It's the bootleg. It's my recording. I get to put it on whatever playlist I want. So there.
  • Journey, "Faithfully," Greatest Hits: It's a good song, but it really doesn't belong on the playlist. Entirely too depressing in a 1986 prom-song kind of way.
  • Rob Zombie, "Feel So Numb," The Sinister Urge: I love listening to Rob Zombie. I mean, you pretty much get exactly what you would expect from looking at the guy on the album cover, sort of like GWAR. In any case, I threw this one on, because I once saw a pretty cool Evangelion anime music video done up to this song, so it reminds me of Asuka from Evangelion. And, if you know Evangelion, you're probably hot for Asuka, too.
  • The Cult, "Fire Woman," Sonic Temple: This song is like the greatest thing my sister ever gave me, having left her Sonic Temple cassette behind when she moved out of the house when she was eighteen. Great album, but this song is the highlight. Why? You guessed it, because it fucking rocks.
  • Counting Crows, "Ghost in You," Clueless Soundtrack: This is a cover of a Psychedelic Furs song. Granted, I like the Furs version better, but it wasn't so easy to get a hold of. I also like the movie Clueless, because I'm a closet Jane Austen fan. Or maybe it's because Alicia Silverstone is hot. Or was. I haven't seen her lately, but she probably still is.
  • Nada Surf, "Inside of Love," Let Go: This one was on the rotation at Starbucks, and I had no idea what the name was, so every time it would come on, I'd refer to it as "the Dawson's Creek song." Not that it was on the show, but it sounds kind of like it should have been, and I don't mean that in an overplayed "Paula Cole has no more career because of that show" kind of way. It's a really good song, and probably the highlight of the album, which is also surprisingly decent.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Brand New," Bootleg: This one's a nice enough song, but I think the best part might be Jay (the former bass player and all-around good guy) introduces the band: "All right, oh well, we are Five Year Jacket, and this our second time here at Fat Daddy'z. That's right, woo-hoo!" It's a good thing it was a really good show, because I only had about four cigarettes and one beer to get me through the night because I was between jobs at the time.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Just Like Heaven," Bootleg: "This is like one of the few covers that I still enjoy," says Kevin while strumming the opening chords. Makes you wonder how often it was actually fun and how often it was just going through the motions to get paid at the end of the night. While most of the New Year's show recording was totally useless, this one came through very well, which is why it got on the Bootleg CD and on to this playlist.
  • Toad the Wet Sprocket, "Little Heaven," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Soundtrack: No, not the television show, everyone. This is the prom-song from the movie with Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry (yes, Luke Perry). It's a very pretty song, and it's from something Buffy, so it must be good. I miss Toad the Wet Sprocket, and I missed my chance to see Glen Phillips in Chicago a couple of months ago. Saw the ad in the Reader the day after the show.
  • Nazareth, "Love Hurts," Nazareth: It's a nice song, really melancholy, but the real reason that it's on here is because I don't have the Gram Parsons version, so this will have to do.
  • Five Year Jacket, "Magnetic," Bootleg: Song fucking rocks. That's all there is to it. Probably my favorite Five Year Jacket song, and they just never played it often enough.
  • Smashing Pumpkins, "Mayonaise," Siamese Dream: Y'know, Siamese Dream was just a great album. A little overproduced, but that's just Butch Vig for you. It's one of the signature albums of the early Nineties, and this happens to be my favorite song from it, probably because it didn't get overplayed like half of the album did.
  • Smashing Pumpkins, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: Just a little piano piece that starts out the double-disc album. It's pwetty.
That's all of it. Six hours in the life of an iPod. I swear to god, I'm never doing this again, especially if I get myself a real iPod. I suppose I should just be happy that I didn't get the one-gigabyte version of the Shuffle. If High Fidelity is correct that "what you like is more important that what you are like," then I guess that those of you who actually got through all of this now either like me a lot better, like me a lot less, or you think I'm a fucking loon for actually going through this project. Me, I think it's a lot better than the people who just list everything in their playlists without going into the reasoning for putting any of it there, leaving the world to just wonder how you could put Alanis Morissette and Rob Zombie on the same list.

AIM: therbmcc71

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Weight

A few days ago, I bought The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s film about The Band’s last concert. With performances from Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Diamond, it’s a really great concert film, provided you’re into great music, rather than the modern-day equivalent of such, which is good looks, lip-syncing and lots of dancing. Put simply, these aren’t good-looking fellas, but –like Live Aid- it’s a lot of great music with a minimum amount of self-aggrandizing.

More importantly, I am now the proud owner of the entire Robotech series on DVD, having spent a hundred and thirty dollars at Best Buy on the last six box-sets of the remastered discs. Like the platinum series of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the visual quality isn’t quite on par with Japanese animation that’s been coming out over the past few years (such as Cowboy Bebop, or Ghost in the Shell), but it’s still a far cry better than the videotapes I have from twenty years ago. The audio has been remastered in 5.1, which I can’t really take advantage of, lacking a sound system for it, but the sound is crystal clear, and I can say that the stereo separation is phenomenal.

I’ve been waiting for twenty years to finally have a complete archive of this series. I had about half of the last (of the three distinct) series on VHS, until one day the channel that was running the show decided to drop Robotech and start running Centurions in its place. No goodbye, no aloha, they just yanked it off the air with three episodes left. It’s only tonight that I finally got to actually watch the last three episodes, and I have to say that my reaction is completely different than it was when I was a kid, reading the comic book adaptation of the end of the series. Back then, I thought it was great that Scott Bernard launched into space to go find the remainder of the fleet, but today I think that he’s an idiot for leaving his friends (and his alien girlfriend) behind.

The first series (henceforth referred to as Macross, the Japanese series the first third of Robotech was adapted from) plays like a soap opera with transforming robots, and was my first experience as a kid with the notion of how war inevitably leads to the deaths of good people, whether that death is heroic or not. Upon watching the show today, I have become convinced that one of the characters was killed by his steak dinner. In any wartime situation in a film or television show, steak equals death. It is the military equivalent to television dramas’ propensity for killing characters in convenience store robberies. Steak is only given to troops before they go out on high-risk missions, and being given steak in the field is an absolute guarantee that you are going to die. If this doesn’t make sense, I still hold to the belief that constipation killed the dinosaurs, so take my words with a glass of Metamucil.

In 1985, the Cold War was still raging, and I’m not sure that this series could intentionally be said to be drawn from the inherent differences between American and Soviet cultures, but –looking back- it seems almost obvious that Macross was an allegory to trying to bridge that gap between east and west. The series shows war-hawks on both sides, fully intending to keep the war going, in spite of the fact that peace is possible, and both sides also have more rational individuals who believe in the peace process and cultural exchange. In fact, the Zentraedi (giant alien warriors, bred only for war) have their morale eroded by this cultural exchange and many end up defecting to the human side, which they feel will provide them with more satisfying lives.

I’d go into greater detail, but I already spent quite a bit of time writing about the subtext of the first Xenosaga game, so I’m pretty tired. I’ll get back to bullshitting about Robotech later, because I’m not even a third of the way into the series yet, though I plan on watching the entire thing by the time I have to go back to work on Sunday. I'm 25 episodes into a series of 85, so I think it shouldn't be too hard.

AIM: therbmcc71

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Very First Lie

I have this Material Issue EP from about ten years ago, and I still love listening to it. The Going Through Your Purse EP is like a best-of and live album all rolled into one, recorded in the band's home town of Chicago (and I think it was at the Aragon, but I'm not sure at the moment) at the height of their popularity. If you've got a few bucks to spend, try booting up iTunes and check out the Cheap Trick-style power-pop sound of Material Issue, because their first album International Pop Overthrow is only $6.93, and it's fourteen songs, and that ain't bad. It's no Freak City Soundtrack (which is not actually a soundtrack; it's just a clever title), but that's inexplicably unavailable from iTunes.

But I digress. Jim Ellison, front-man for Material Issue, had gone crowd-surfing at some point during the show, and the best part of this live disc is a moment after the "Ballroom Blitz" encore (which Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick also played guitar on); the master of ceremonies (Nash Kato, of Urge Overkill) walks out to the stage and announces to the audience:
"Apparently Jim has lost his wallet, could somebody return it?" There is a brief pause, followed by cheering from the audience. "Only in Chicago, right?" Nash Kato says, and you realize what kind of fans these people are that they'd return the wallet of someone who was teetering on rock & roll greatness, when they could just as easily have a souvenir and a few bucks by just pocketing it.

In the end, Jim Ellison couldn't take it anymore, and he was found dead in his garage in 1996, the apparent victim of depression and carbon monoxide poisoning, and all we're left with are the four albums (International Pop Overthrow, Destination Universe, Freak City Soundtrack, and the posthumous Telecommando Americano) the original Material Issue 12-inch EP, the Goin' Through Your Purse EP, and the super-rare 11 Supersonic Hit Explosions promo-disc that was issued only to radio stations. It's great stuff, and it's sad that this fantastic early-90's Chicago band got lost in the Seattle shuffle, the only exception to which seemed to be Smashing Pumpkins.

Anyway, getting on to your requisite dose of non-news of the day, it's new-magazine day at work today, and the latest issue of Us Magazine says that Brad Pitt wants Jennifer Aniston back. The cover of Star Magazine says Jennifer Aniston wants Brad Pitt back. ... Wait a minute. Now, either Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston want each other back and are too retarded to actually do so, or (the far more likely scenario) these magazines are making this shit up! I'm just waiting for Weekly World News to hop on the Brad-Jennifer bandwagon and issue the headline, "BAT BOY FOUND LIVING IN BRAD PITT'S HOUSE!"

It should also be noted that several of these magazines are blaming Angelina Jolie, Pitt's Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star, is to blame for the Pitt-Aniston split, due to a possible affair while Jolie and Pitt were shooting their movie. At the bottom of the cover of Us Magazine, it actually says, "ANGELINA COMES OUT OF HIDING!" ... She was in hiding? I think that's overstating it just a little bit, because, come on, she's Angelina fucking Jolie. It's not like she's Salman Rushdie and the Ayatollah has put a price on her head.

In other news, Nick Lachey is desperately trying to remain at least slightly relevant in the public eye this week by barely talking to his wife, Jessica Simpson. She's pictured on the cover in what I assume to be her Daisy Duke regalia, though I don't put such poor fasion sense past her, and she's got so much eyeliner on that she looks like a raccoon. Tell you this: If my wife had that much eyeliner on, I'd barely be speaking to her either. But that's not the point. The point is, talentless hack Nick Lachey has become the Yoko Ono of the 21st Century; famous for being married to a famous singer.

Good night, everybody. I'm going to hop on Amazon and contemplate picking up Telecommando Americano and maybe a graphic novel or two.

AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Ending

Yes, that's a song title, like the last couple of posts, and said title actually comes from a band called The Ending. Yes, the song and the band have the same name, not unlike Bad Company. It's a bad example, seeing how I hate that song (and that band, really), but at least it sheds some light on the fact that The Ending (the band) is not the first band to make an eponymous song. It's a rarity, but not unheard of.

Anyway, added to my sidebar, underneath the link to Five Year Jacket, is my new linky-dink to The Ending's site, where you can listen to a couple of their songs and see when they're playing. I'm planning on going to their show on the 4th of March, which means that I won't be able to crash a big party in Springfield, but I'll live. Should be a good time. And if it's not, at least it's Chicago, where I can get all liquored up and take the train home.

Of the two songs that are up on the internets (as our President would say), and are available for streaming by you high-speed bastards at, I have to say that it is honestly a fuck-ton (my word, do not use without permission) heavier than the band's previous iteration, THC-squared; a band whose name I so vehemently hated that it nearly kept me from listening to what I think ranks as one of the most listenable albums of all time (seriously, it's right up there with Maladroit by Weezer). They're both good songs, and I recommend listening and then commenting, because I need comments, and it might as well be about this, since the vast majority of you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Closing out the previous topic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was ... I'm not sure what to think about it. I mean, I know that I liked it, but I'm not sure if I want to talk about everything that I got out of it. That's not to say that there were life-lessons to be learned from the movie or anything like that; just that there were some things that I recognized in the relationship between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, and most of those things weren't necessarily good, so I'm not going to comment further on it.

Go listen to those songs and then comment! Comment, dammit! And if you say that you didn't like the songs, don't be surprised when you find your comments deleted, because -make no mistake- this page is most definitely an authoritarian regime.

EDIT: I might add (and I did, since this is an edit) that I found a penny at work tonight. By and large, this is no big deal, but this penny was minted in 1858. At first I was looking at it, thinking that it wasn't an American penny, since it's a little bit thicker than a normal penny and doesn't feature Abraham Lincoln on the front. Then I realized that the date on the coin predates Lincoln's presidency, thus explaining the eagle on the front. I'm tempted to sell it, but at the same time, this coin might have been in the pocket of someone during the Civil War. This coin went through the Great Depression. This coin is older than anyone who is alive today. So I'm in a bit of a quandary, and I'm not sure whether I want to get rid of it or where I'd keep it if I didn't.

AIM: therbmcc71

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

No Pressure Over Cappuccino

I went out to Hollywood Video last night and bought three movies for thirty bucks, which is always my favorite kind of sale, especially when the movies I got are all twenty bucks each at Tarzhay. I bought Saved!, which is sort of like watching Dogma, but thankfully without the Golgothan shit-demon. The Day After Tomorrow was neither as dumb as I'd expected it to be, nor was it as dumb as I'd been led to believe by people who saw it. It's light-years more intelligent than Independence Day, Godzilla, or The Patriot (which I liked a lot better back when it was called Braveheart), Roland Emmerich's previous two films, and we all know how much I hate scripts that are written deliberately for the lowest-common denominator (read: "mouth breathers") and never even try to be intelligent or make any sort of point. Finally, I picked up Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I haven't yet had time to get around to watching, but I'm sure it'll be quite good, since I haven't yet been disappointed by a movie written by Charlie Kaufman, though I didn't care that much for Being John Malkovich.

In celebrity news, it appears that Orlando Bloom and Kate Bosworth have split up. The news snippet over on the Internet Movie Database says that "Orlando Bloom and Kate Bosworth have blamed their love split on their increasingly heavy work schedules." Unfortunately, my sources say that information is false, and that the real reason for their breakup was they couldn't stop arguing over which one of them is prettier.

Well, the insane amounts of caffeine I ingested tonight is now crashing my system, so I'm going to bed. I think that I'll end up watching about three minutes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind before I pass out. But first, I'm going to read about Apple flops (such as the "puck mouse"), because it's always nice to remember the old days when the company occasionally and inexplicably released overpriced, steaming mounds of crap disguised as Macs.

AIM: therbmcc71