Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indiana Jones

...was about what I thought it was going to be. I really liked the old movies (really, who didn't?), and had baseless hopes that 'Crystal Skull' was going to be ableto stand its ground against nostalgia.

It just can't... the movie keeps trying to capture the old style feel - the whole movie has a different sort of lighting and style to try to make you feel like you're watching a 21st century version of an old 50's serial, which I suppse is exactly what you are doing. It just never seems to work right. From the refrigerator scene to the horrifying Tarzan scene, it never has any of the life that the original 3 had. That's not really a dig on the movie itself. After all, it would have been next to impossible to jumpstart the decades old series without losing at least a little momentum. It just never takes off, taking two hours not really building any sort of drama or adventure, and suddenly - it's over.

It's not all bad, Shia LeBeouf doesn't suck, and Harrison Ford still pulls out a few badass moves that make you wish he wasn't just shy of senile. Overall though, the movie didn't even really up to my moderately low hopes. I'll just stick with the original 3, thank you.


CD Review: The Black Mages - Darkness and Starlight

The Black Mages cater to a very specific niche - that is, they play prog rock remakes of battle themes from the Final Fantasy video game series. I was a fan of their first two releases. They were musically interesting, and they were a rare instrumental group that could be listened to as music, rather than just enjoyable background noise (though they worked pretty well for that, too).

However, in the second release, a few cracks began to show. In order for this music to really work, there has to be at least some connection to the source material. Simply put, they were running out of interesting themes to duplicate. That problem is only exascerbated on Darkness and Starlight, and it quickly becomes apparent that the best songs have long since been exhausted.

Something that quickly becomes noticable is that these songs become monotonous quickly. There are no fun quirky songs like 'Vamo Allo' Flamenco' to break things up, no 'Matoya's Cave' to slow things down, just wave after wave of very similar sounding music. It ends up failing where the first two offerings succeeded - with very few exceptions it only works as background music.

Things come to a head on the painfully overlong title track, where the Mages take an interesting concept (an epic metal opera), then continue to play it until the listener's attention span begs for mercy. DOn't get me wrong, I love some Sigur Rós, and I actually found 'Dancing Mad' to be enthralling for it's 12 minute duration, but 15 minutes for this particular track is too long by about 10 minutes.

After the disc comes to a close, the first thought in my mind is that the Black Mages had a good run, but this particular gimmick has completely run its course. I can't imagine a Black Mages IV (or, at the veryleast, not one base don FF music); and I have to say, that really doesn't bother me.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's More Surprising...

...the fact that I'm posting twice in one day? Or the fact that I've found 2 things which piss me off enough to deem them 'cockflickery'??

Anyway, Dave Golokhov (of the bastion of knowledge that is has deemed the Minnesota Twins the 7th worst franchise in all of professional sports. Just read what Mr. Golokhov has to say...

"Moneyball" is to baseball what frugal is to cheap; it's a creative way of saying, "we're not going to pay for our stars or reward our veterans who have earned their keep." Sabermetrics and scientific stats are used to evaluate players and give a better indication of their worth, but teams like the Minnesota Twins use this strategy to kiss their superstars goodbye at the trade deadline or the first day of free agency. The Twins constantly sell proven veterans for prospects and draft picks, but when those youngsters finally develop, they get shipped away to start the cycle again. The Twins incessantly look to the future and winning now is not a priority. Translation: the Twins care more about the dollars than about winning.

Alright, so I - being a big fan of the Minnesota Twins - am aware that I'm a touch biased here, but what in the ever-loving hell?? I realize that it's frustrating that we lose great players. Did losing Torii hurt? Sure, (though, in reality, I think Gomez is going to be an unbelievably talented player in his own right) there's no way he deserved $90 million, though, and I can't fault the Twins at all for not paying him that amount. Did losing Santana hurt? Of course, he's - bar none - the best pitcher in baseball, but he just signed for an all-time record for a pitcher (and we got the aforementioned Gomez plus two other nice prospects for him, we didn't get full value, but we hardly got robbed). I fail to see how either of those losses make the Twins the 4th worst team in baseball. To be fair, I'm just trying to understand which team he's talking about.
  • The team that, since 2001, has a record of 551-452 (meaning they win 55% of their games)
  • The team that has won the toughest division in baseball 4 of the last 6 years
  • The team that has won the World Series twice in the last 20 years
  • The team that is in first place at the moment this article was conceived in this cockflicker's disturbed little mind

Yeah, I'd say he's out of his damned mind.

You, sir have just taken the cockflickery cake. Take a bow, Mr. Golokhov, you have no earthly idea what you're talking about.

This just in! Every team that is not the Yankees is the worst team in baseball, because they didn't give Carl Pavano 40 million dollars.

This 'n That: It's Business Time

Haven't had a good chance to do much with the space the last couple weeks. I have, however, had a chance to catch some new music, so here's what I've been after the last few weeks...

Flight of the Conchords (s/t)
Ah, the Flight of the Conchords. I was lucky enough to get my 3 month HBO trial during the run of the eponymous show, and became an instant fan. All the songs from their full length self-titled CD will be familiar to fans of the show, who should be pleased to see such classics as 'Business Time' and 'Prettiest Girl (in the room)', while people unfamiliar to the group might be a bit confused as to what the fuss is about. 'Leggy Blonde' is still awful, and a couple other songs seem a bit detached without the show to act as a reference point (even though most, if not all of these songs existed in some way before the show even aired). Still, the Conchords are awesome, and this set shows that fact quite nicely.

Crystal Castles (s/t)
Whoa, this is fun music. Crystal Castles use an Atari 5200 chip inside of their keyboard to produce what could best be described as videogame dance pop. The songs alternate between ridiculously catchy sugary songs that sound like old school nintendo soundtracks and hyperactive shouty electronic spazz outs. Greatly enjoyed.

Gnarls Barkley (The Odd Couple)
Big kudos to Gnarls for moving on from 2006's biggest hit. 'The Odd Couple' could have been nothing but 15 stabs at re-bottling lightning, and to their credit, they haven't gone in that direction. Instead, they've filled their followup with manic, flow-of-consciousness r&b similar to the stuff on St. Elsewhere, only more consistently good. The mountains have been smoother out a little, but the valleys have been filled in quite a bit, too.

Panic at the Disco (Pretty. Odd.)
I was a moderate fan of Panic's first CD (back when they were known by the asinine name of "Panic! at the Disco"), but thought they were nothing special. If they had churned out another 'Fever You Can't Sweat Out', I probably wouldn't have given it a second look, but hearing that they had abandoned pop-punk entirely in favor of Beatles-ish pop-rock songs, I had to check it out. Well, at least the album lives up to it's name. It's really strange hearing a band who sounds like they only just heard about the Beatles try to emulate what they've discovered. There's no way on earth Panic should be trying to copy the Beatles, but they don't know that, and it makes the music more interesting than it should be. As an added bonus, they still know how to write a decent hook, so in the end, even though there's no way that this CD should work, it somehow does. Barely, but it does.

Atmosphere (When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold)
As an aside, I would like to state that this is the best album title of the year. They can give out the award now, and save everyone the trouble of trying to think up clever plays on words and puns. Nothing can top this. Musically, it's a mixed bag. I really enjoy Atmosphere when they're playing the over-the-top, big bragging music. This CD doesn't really have any of that. Lyrically, it's a revelation, after hearing Slug rap about 'Slug and the things that Slug hates' for his entire career, we get a concept album of sorts about how much life sucks and how family needs to stick together through it. All the familiar themes (girls, strippers, inner city lifestyles) get turned on their head and twisted around to a more personal setting. Some of the songs are almost completely resigned, and all of them carry around a certain gloom, but the much more subdued production and almost 'tender' vocal treatment give them a weight you don't expect from rap music. Like I said before, I enjoy this act more when they're in 'The Arrival' mode, but this album almost necessary by the time 'In Her Music Box' ends. Different, but good.


Chalk This Up Under 'Cockflickery'

Looking at the now famous video of Buzz Bissinger's hissy-fit, there are points to be made for the fact that blogs don't necessarily encourage good writing (and I'm a shining example of that), and there are plenty of world class cockflickers out there (and the fact that I have a 'cockflickery' tag lumps me uncomfortably close to the people that think the word 'douchebag' is hilarious). But honestly, to berate somebody for the comments on his blogs? That goes beyond cockflickery to absolute worthless babble.

On a side note, one thing that actually strikes me (other than a certain inward sigh over how impervious to logic some people are) is how uncomfortable it must have felt for Braylon Edwards to be sitting there watching the whole thing. That had to have been awkward.

Friday, May 2, 2008

So, This Cell Phone and Pair of Sweat Pants Walk Into a Washing Machine...

Seeing as how I hadn't spent nearly enough fixing my aforementioned vehicle issues (no link... look exactly one post below this one), I decided to wash my cell phone. Once it had gone through the spin cycle, I decided to compound the issue by tossing it into the dryer.

After giving it overnight to dry, it sort of works. I can get decent signal, and can actually hold conversation - as long as it's plugged in and charging. The battery holds no charge now, and there's all manner of condensation in the outer display.

Then again, I did send my cell phone through the washing machine. I guess I'm sort of lucky I still have a cell phone at all.

(not sure there's ever been a more apt use for the 'i suck' tag)