Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Man in Motion

So I'm listening to random radio stations on iTunes (I recommend Virgin Radio UK, because they have better taste than American stations), and "Man in Motion," the theme to St. Elmo's Fire comes on, and I just about fucking vomit, because I hate that song. It's by John Parr, a fact that I had to look up, and I hope that he's rotting in hell right now for making one of those songs from the Eighties that I absolutely fucking loathe.

Dr. Noah Drake saves the day, though, by swinging in with "Jesse's Girl" under his arm. I swear, sometimes you look away from the radio, and you think that Rick Springfield is singing, "I wish that I was Jesse's girl." It's like, "Ewww..." Not that there's anything wrong with that. If Rick Springfield and Jesse want to swing that way, that's a perfectly legitimate life-choice.

I bought The Sims 2 this week, and it's beginning to consume hours of my day. I think that the game isn't quite realistic enough, though, because no matter how much like myself I try to make my Sim, he gets the women. I don't know how he does it. I set the game in motion, walk away from it for a few hours, I come back, and there he is with a Sim-ette all over him. And he has money! This game is fake.

"Private Dancer" by Tina Turner just came on the radio (not Virgin Radio UK, of course), and so I'm going to go out to my friend's house and watch Harold & Kumar, or I'm going to jump off my roof. Since it's not a very high roof, and it would only cause me pain, rather than ending my suffering at the hands of Tina Turner, I'm going to watch the movie.

I have absolutely nothing of import to say, apparently.

AIM: therbmcc71

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

25 or 6 to 4

I've really never understood what the hell "25 or 6 to 4" means. Not a fucking clue. I've read the lyrics, and that part still makes no sense to me. From a mathematical standpoint, the ratio of six to four is one and a half, not twenty-five. Working from six at night until four in the morning is ten hours, so that can't be it, either. Like I said, I have no clue where they got any of this stuff, and can only chalk it up to Robert Lamm (of the band Chicago) being notoriously bad at math.

However, since that's not satisfactory to anyone, we have to leave it up to Cecil at the Straight Dope to tell us, as seen in this edition of the Straight Dope mailbag:
As for the curious title, Lamm says, "It's just a reference to the time of day"--as in "waiting for the break of day" at 25 or (2)6 minutes to 4 a.m. (3:35 or 3:34 a.m.)
So there you have it. 25 or 26 to 4 just didn't fit the meter of the song. I mean, the guy from the Psychedelic Furs could do it, but I don't think Lamm could. Peter Cetera could have, though! In your face, Lamm!

Anyway, I bring this up because I was just in my Computers forum over at That's Just Not Right, and one of the guys was asking about a program that apparently parses huge amounts of unsorted data, brings order from chaos and uses Bayesian probability analysis and general information-theory to ... do something or another. I don't remember. It was like associative searching or something, to search through a database with keywords that wouldn't necessarily be found in the returned documents, due to word-associations inferred by the computer; sort of like reading the Dead Sea Scrolls, even though nobody speaks the language.

I think my brother would have been satisfied with it, but I'm not going to force it upon the lot of you. I just figured that I had to try and do a daily post, and that post -which briefly hit everything from context to cryptography to pattern-recognition- just reminded me of the oldest numerical question in my musical life, which has now been answered. Thanks, Cecil.

AIM: therbmcc71

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Baba O'Riley

I found this really bitching version of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" on iTunes, and it's the song as covered by the London Philharmonic. Pretty damn cool, though I've managed to lose the link. It's not terribly important, though.

Next up is kind of important, given that it's only $5.99, which means, if you like more than half of the songs, buy the whole album, because it's cheaper. I found this pretty interesting album that was done by the Beatles' producer George Martin, where he had done all of the arrangements up for the music and then brought people who are clearly not the Beatles to do the singing, or whatever. Goldie Hawn does a sort of nightclubby version of "A Hard Day's Night," Jeff Beck does the Stratocaster thing for an instrumental version of "A Day in the Life," Sean Connery reads the lyrics to "In My Life" (which is a better choice than his singing "San Francisco" by the Mamas & the Papas in The Rock), and then you've got a John Williams (the Star Wars composer, yes) arrangement on "Here Comes the Sun." Pretty interesting album (link requires iTunes).

And then (also an iTunes link) this might be the worst album in the history of mankind. When Pigs Fly is an album by various artists from Ani Difranco (and Jackie Chan) to Devo. It gets weirder, trust me. All of these tracks by all of these artists are covers. It could have been good, if not for the fact that:
  • Jackie Chan sings, and
  • All of the covers are (presumably) deliberately out of whack.
It's got Don Ho doing a version of "Shock the Monkey," Herman's Hermits doing "White Wedding," and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," as covered by Lesley Gore. I'd recommend staying far away from this album unless someone else is picking up the tab.

And the last album of the day is also a stinker, Oldies But Goodies! (they're all iTunes links today) This is essentially an album of Motown-era covers, as done by bad late-Nineties "punk" bands. And, of course I have to put the word punk in quotes, because ... well, they're just not. Regardless, most of these bands also aren't any good, which makes even listening to the samples painful. At the very least, it'll give you greater respect for the musical talents of Sam Cooke, the Crystals, the Chordettes, Chuck Berry, and the other artists of the day.

As a little footnote, before I go to bed, I have to figure out whether or not to buy a song called I Wish I Had My Own Tits. Actually, I'm going to tack another album on to the list, because I can't really say enough good things about Hayseed Dixie. In fact, I'd really prefer not to say anything about Hayseed Dixie, other than this might be the best cover album of all time. I understand their AC/DC cover-album is also quite good, as the opening to "Hell's Bells" is supposed to be phenomenal..

Listen to the samples, buy a few songs, get back to me in the comments.

AIM: therbmcc71

Monday, May 23, 2005


So, I've had the majority of the week off of work, the result of the company rebuilding my photo-lab with a new set of machines, new furniture, and a bunch of other crap. I've been catching up on a great deal of sleep during that time. I also started my new Saturday morning class at Second City, and I don't know any of the people in it, so that sucks. If life doesn't start turning around, I'm going to start listening to Bright Eyes or some shit like that and go all emo. That would suck.

Because here's what I think of people who are all emo:

That's actually funny when you think about it, but I won't explain it.

I used to get emails from my friend Kristen, who used to get emails from this girl who scared the shit out of everyone in Waubonsee's chapter of Model Illinois Government. I would ten amend these emails and send them back to Kristen in what became known as The Dorelis Papers. Over at That's Just Not Right, recently, I've gone and started doing this again, in what is now known as the Moderator Commentary. The following is from the Newbie Intro of some guy named Vrykolaka, who may or may not have been banned already for being retarded. Clearly, I may have helped to expedite that banning:

QUOTE(Vrykolaka @ May 20 2005, 12:57 AM)
Alright, time for the second try. [Oh, sweet fucking Christ, are you back?!] Sucks because I had a long intro going right before I got the 30 day vacation [*cough* bullshit! *cough*].

First off, my name's Nick. I hail from Buffalo, New York [Tell me, Nick, have you ever said to someone you 'hail from Buffalo' in casual conversation, or are you just trying to be fancy? Because it doesn't work for you]. Possibly one of the shittiest cities in the country [You live in Buffalo, Buffalo is shitty, need I draw the rest of the diagram?], but most people hate where they are either way [We hate where you are, but it has nothing to do with Buffalo]. I'm currently a student and musician in my off time (lots of that). [And we'd be happy to give you more.]

Really into horror and sci-fi movies. [Geek] Most of the newer horror movies are kind of lame if you ask me [We didn't, and we don't want you to elaborate, just go away], so only the older ones for the horror half [You're lying, because you don't know who James Whale or F.W. Murnau are]. Sci-fi is totally Star Wars [You've never even kissed a girl, have you?] and yeah, I can't stand Star Trek [Captain Kirk could kick your ass]. I'm dubbed geek forever for the SW tattoo on my arm. [You get beat up a lot, don't you?]

Almost anything electronic/dance is my music of specialty [Great. Shit that makes people's ears bleed]. I program anything from Trance-Industrial [Is Trance-Industrial some kind of Star Wars kazoo band?]. Grew up on Pink Floyd and numerous other classic rock [You clearly dropped acid one too many times while listening to Dark Side and staring at a black-lit fluorescent poster of Yoda], so you can find me listening to some rock at times. [Don't you get it? We'd prefer not to find you at all]

Last [Thank god, because I can't take much more of this shit], but not least [Thank god, because you've said nothing of relevance so far], I'm a chain smoker and I'm still searching for my pack of rabid monkeys with yeast infections. [And clearly you're back to the Yoda poster, now]

In case further explanation is needed, we hate you. If we had some way to attach a scarlet letter to your IP address, warning any other forum you ever come in contact with to ban you immediately, we would do it. From reading this tripe, I can't believe that English could possibly be your first language, unless it's been destroyed by entirely too many hours of trying to teach yourself to speak Wookiee.
Yes, it's mean. Cruel, even. But if there's one thing that I learned in my Intro to Comedy Writing class (no, seriously, I only learned one thing in that class), it's the art of the inappropriate response. My work with inline-commentary is about the best use that I've found for that lesson so far, at least as far as doing it in a manner that won't get me beaten up like this guy probably does.

And, yes, quoting myself from other sites is just a way to easily run up a word-count on here so you all (both of you) don't think I'm dead.

This past week also kept me a little busy, trying to follow the whole E3 extravaganza that showed the unveiling of the Xbox 360 (which is almost as retarded a name as "NextBox would have been), the Playstation 3 (not to be confused with this), and the ... well, they showed a little black box that might be the Nintendo Revolution. For all we know, it could be a handy carrying-case for Heroclix figurines, who the hell knows.

About the only thing that didn't make an appearance was Infinium Labs' (appropriately titled) Phantom console. Someone decided to bring the Phantom up as a topic, and so I went and read one of the funniest documents of my life, Infinium Labs' last SEC filing. In short, they're out of money, having burned thirty-six million dollars over the last couple of years, and they need twenty-two million more just to do a test-run of ten-thousand units. That puts the per-unit cost at $5800. Not that they'll sell them for that much, but it's proof that the company manages its money about as well as I do. Either that, or they've got a lot of money in the Caymans that the investors don't know about.

I bought a GeForce 6600GT yesterday, which is a graphics card that is being choked to death by my poor excuse for a computer. I figure that in two to four weeks, I'll be buying an Athlon 3400+ and a motherboard (and RAM, obviously) to go with it, which will mean that I'll actually be able to buy new computer games again. I'll be tremendously happy, because Doom 3 is running like molasses in January right now.

As much as I hate the Jimmy Kimmel show, I have to say that the Year of Unnecessary Censorship video is pretty funny, so you should check that out.

Finally, I saw the new Star Wars movie at the midnight showing, and it was alright, with the exception of the retards in my aisle who would not fucking shut the fuck up. They weren't even Star Wars fans. They were just there because ... shit, I don't even know, but they've managed to turn my profanity dial up to eight, so they were pretty goddamn bad to sit near.

But I digress. My major complaint with the film is that Anakin just stalks all over the place, bitching about how bad it is to be him. He doesn't get to be a Jedi Master. He has bad dreams. He wets the bed. Shit like that. Bitch, bitch bitch, moan, moan, moan. And what does Natalie Portman do? She swoons and tells him she loves him. He's been bitching for three goddamn movies, and she loves him for it. I complain at least as much as this guy does, and women run for the fucking hills.

That the film is set in space, I can live with that; laser-swords, fine; they have spaceships that go faster than the speed of light, okay; but when a seemingly-intelligent woman is madly in love with that guy, that's where I draw the line and declare the film to be totally unbelievable.

AIM: therbmcc71

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Boys of Summer

It wasn't until about a week ago that I finally sat down and listened to Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer," and realized what a terribly melancholy, maudlin song it really is. I never really listened to the lyrics, content to just bop along to the video of Don Henley riding down the street on his motorcycle, no doubt heading off to single-handedly save Walden Pond. Now that I think about it, Don Henley's songs are almost always melancholy and/or maudlin. Which leads me to Champaign, where good rock and roll isn't the kind of thing to make you go, "Man, I just want to go home and slit my wrists now." If there's one thing that college kids know that apparently record labels don't, it's that rock and roll is about getting laid.

48 Safe Days

Driving through Gibson City on Route 47, there's a giant soy plant that denotes the number of consecutive "safe days" on a big sign out front. My friend Davy pointed this out to me once, wondering what entails an unsafe day; as though forty-nine days ago, someone tragically fell into a soy hopper, was buried, and is now part of a "tofurkey" somewhere. This is the sort of thing that goes through my mind, as it's about a three-hour drive down to Champaign; less, if you're not stuck behind a U-Haul like I was. I would have passed it, were it not for the four cars in between myself and the U-Haul that were scared to exceed forty-five miles per hour.

Champaign, Illinois is like every other college town I've been to, in that the city makes it as difficult as humanly possible to park. If you're in town to visit for the weekend, plan on taking a cab from Mahomet, because there's no parking on the street after 2 A.M., and parking in a lot is reserved for the exceptionally lucky. As it stands, I'm driving Louie to the show, since I don't have the slightest idea where I am, beyond what is absolutely necessary to get out of town in the event of an emergency, such as a very sudden paternity suit, which is always possible, because I'm hanging out with a rock band.

Plinko, Plinko, Plinko, Everybody Plinko, Plinko, Plinko

Nadafinga is a terribly interesting band, and I mean that in a good way. Lyrically, they're a lot like Blink 182, Nerf Herder, or Tenacious D. With regard to their tone, it's really, really crunchy, which -unlike Blink 182 or Nerf Herder- doesn't go away during the verses, which has always annoyed the hell out of me about Blink 182 (and even earned the mockery of THC-Squared). Nadafinga is like a good cereal that doesn't go soft in milk, despite how much milk you put in or how long you let it soak. Crunchy to the end.

I'd have considerably more to say about Nadafinga, but I only decided to start writing this after their set was over, and so I don't have anything about crowd reactions and such, partially because I was enjoying the show too much to look around at the time.

I Hate Napervillains

Next up is Troubled Hubble, which is absurdly -and I mean that in a bad way- loud. Their harmonies are reminiscent of Nada Surf, which I would enjoy immensely if the band wasn't so damn loud. I begin to wonder whether it's their fault, or if the sound-guy at the back of the room just has something against them. Their opener, whatever it's called (the vocals are completely inseparable from the chaotic mess that is the rest of their sound) sounds a lot like Nada Surf's "Bacardi," if you were to take that song, hook it up to the giant amplifier from the beginning of Back to the Future, turn all of the dials up to eleven, and then stand directly in front of that amplifier, listening intently while food processors mix cookie dough next to your ears and you are bombarded with gamma rays of lethal intensity. So I just presume it sounded like "Bacardi."

As Troubled Hubble is playing, the singer of Nadafinga is hugging very attractive college girls, which brings to mind two immutable and interrelated facts of the universe:
  • I need to start a band, because:
  • The Wooderson Axiom holds true for college girls. That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.
By their third song, the Nada Surf magic of Troubled Hubble is long gone, and I notice their bass player -despite being talented- looks barely old enough to shave. They begin playing a space-rock solo that's over as soon as it's registered in my mind, and go back to ... whatever they're playing. I try to take my mind off of the band by thinking about how good the P.A. system must be in this place to project this band and the last in all of their glory. I suddenly realize that if any band sucks tonight, it will be entirely their fault, because this is probably the best P.A. I've ever heard.

Between songs, one of Troubled Hubble's guitar players tunes into signals from outer-space on the band's keyboard, and the singer says they have a few more songs. Rats. They play a song that they call their dance number, but no one is dancing. The bass player holds the song together over the cacaphony of guitar noise and lyrics I can't make out in the least. But at least the P.A. is good.

Finally, on their last song, Troubled Hubble's cacaphony finally works for them, and it turns into a ninety-second symphony of dissonance -if that makes any sense- and they suddenly, with two guitars and clapping, like some kind of "Come On Eileen" interlude on a combination of acid and crank, turn out a fantastically catchy closer.

And Then It All Goes Dark

Walking by me goes a goth-girl with strikingly bad, very thick, very painted-on eyebrows. She is followed by two guys lugging the biggest goddamn guitar effects board I have ever seen in my life. Back to the eyebrows, though, let me give you a description: Imagine if Robert Smith of The Cure got a sex change and went back to college, and then took up Wicca. And then he somehow mated with Boy George. This girl would be their offspring.

This band, I:Scintilla, has a rather impressive drum machine, with eyebrow-girl on bass, a guy in a shirt and tie (and I mean that in a button-down way; not Angus Young, mind you), and the other guitarist is a dead-ringer for a circa-1991 Clive Barker. They are waiting around for their sound system to pull itself from the ninth circle of Hell. The bass being pumped through the wall of subwoofers under the stage are causing California to fall into the ocean at this very moment.

The fans are easy to spot: The guys wearing eye shadow and the women dancing as though they were possessed Crucible-style, which is to say that it's all for show. In all, it's like listening to a more synthetic version of Ministry, if Al Jourgensen was a 20-ish woman and did slow movements onstage between verses that make one wonder if it's all for show or if she's actually tweeking like crazy.

There is an older gentleman, who's got to be fifty or so, with a graying ponytail in front of me, rocking along to the current industrial ballad. His wife is doing "the Batusi" until the next song, which is pretty rocking, except the vocals cut through a little too much. In any case, the wife is doing a slow and seductive dance, somewhat like Julia Stiles' table-dance from 10 Things I Hate About You, which would be pretty hot if she was like thirty years younger.

At the end of their set, I suddenly realize a number of facts:
  • The singer is doing the Jabba Slave Dance between each verse. Whether or not she's aware of that, I do not know.
  • Ponytail guy looks just like Hannibal Lecter, if they gave him some time in the yard to work out.
  • The band sounds like a cross between Garbage, Ministry, and a band called Within Temptation, but without the string-section.
Commentary From the Peanut Gallery

I return to my table to find four guys I do not know. Thankfully, my notes, cigarettes and beer remain. The dumb guy next to me knows a guy who knows a dude who knows a McCree from my hometown. I love drunk people. I will now try to make sense of his comments as written down on my scrap of paper (all corrected for spelling, grammar, etc.):

"For one, Troubled Hubble was pretty toight. I've only seen them one time... but as a pseudoalkaline style band, they represented their Naperville style quite well. (I'm laughing my ass off as I type this). The following act... I'd give a thumbs down. Unless you're into that hard shit. I had a ground (?) that enjoyed it. Then most of use were just interested in putting a ball down on the lead. She was into us. Blog this shit. C-town, homie."
Oh, but wait, there's more:
Music has been downhill since the late 90's. Bush sucks, yet we need reform in government and in art... Danny.
These guys clearly think I get way more hits than I actually do.

The Ending Never Looked So Good

Finally, The Ending takes the stage, and the sound check goes quickly. I'm told to stand up front for the first scream, and I have only a general idea what that entails, because the screaming on the tracks I've had preview copies of sound extremely processed and don't sound anything like what you'd expect to come out of human lungs; sort of like that happy little elf that lives in Dolores O'Riordan's throat, but it quit a couple years ago, started smoking eight packs of Camel Wides a day and took up worshipping the devil. And then it moved in with Louie.

The band kicks off the show with "The Ending," and I think it's a good thing that it's a catchy song, because I never recommend a band name a song after themselves or vice versa, but that's probably just because I hate the song "Bad Company." Once they start playing, it's obvious that about half of the crowd has seen the band before, because that scream that I was supposed to be waiting for sounds just like the version on the CD, except for the fact that the crowd is screaming back. However, I'm struck -which I shouldn't be, given that this is Louie we're talking about- that he can scream like that in a live environment.

I'm standing in the stairwell as Louie almost has the crowd goaded into moshing, which conjures memories of his band in high school, when Nirvana's song "Breed" caused the crowd to turn into this swirling mass of fists, elbows and flying geeks who had the misfortune of getting in the way. No sooner is the crowd braced for inclement weather than the band switches up which song they're going to play.

The harmonies work surprisingly well, considering that this is hard rock that we're talking about. Given the last project (THC-squared), it's obvious that the band is capable of harmonizing, but getting it to work in an acoustic situation and then in one that occasionally falls over into the category of metal are two different things, and the latter works surprisingly well.


At the end of the night, Cowboy Monkey starts clearing out, with the exception of klingons and people like me who are actually helping to break down the stage and carry equipment out, despite the fact that Louie continuously tells us that we don't have to. There is an absurdly drunk girl milling about, and I've no idea how it is that she's still standing. Louie receives The Ending's cut for the night from one of the bar employees; I see twenties, but it looks pretty thin. Hopefully the CD sales went well.

Louie and I go back into Cowboy Monkey one more time to make sure that we've got everything and that the band didn't somehow lose its welcome status with the establishment. We get back outside to the news that Supple's bass has been run over by a Ford Explorer. Louie looks as though he's about to have a conniption, and just continuously mutters, "Show me the bass," until it is brought to him, despite everyone's statements that the bass is fine. Though the case is pretty mangled, the bass is in good condition, unless it's suddenly become a Mosrite, and all that's holding the thing together is the string tension. I am then told of the story of how that bass went through a fire and came out unscarred. A note is made to send/sell the story to Carvin, the manufacturers of the bass and its case, to see if any freebies can be scored.

Later on, back at the overpriced (but very close to campus) apartment, beers are cracked open, cigarettes are smoked. Louie and I sing "Weird Al" songs, though I can't recall nor fathom why. I try to explain how Billy Idol's new CD sounds more like Generation X than it does the "White Wedding" days. Outside, in the little smoking-lounge area, I meet a girl who's apparently the staff photographer for the local bands, and she wants nothing more than to take pictures of Danimal naked. I walked into that conversation halfway through, so there might be more to it than that, but Louie grants her full permission to do so.

The next afternoon, I wake up on the couch as alone as I was when I fell asleep on it; even the kid from Almost Famous had to go through a couple of weeks of touring before he got laid by the groupies. Louie and I discuss things like economies of scale and the manufacturing costs of the newly-released CD. Then it's across the street for lunch, back to the apartment to start remixing the Garageband file of Nine Inch Nails' "The Hand That Feeds," which Louie proclaims to be the single coolest thing that he has ever seen. I recall the last time I heard him say this, and so I ask him about a particular high school prank, which is still so secret and probably illegal that I cannot discuss it here. "Well, it's up there," he says.

AIM: therbmcc71