Monday, August 9, 2010

Upcoming: Klaxons - Surfing the Void

Myths of the Near Future hasn't really aged all that well. "Gravity's Rainbow" is still a great song, as is "It's Not Over"; but "Golden Skans" and "Atlantis to Interzone"... not so much. The first song from Surfing the Void wisely moves in a different direction from the band's previous work. Still, it's not all that amazing.

So why am I devoting any time to mentioning Klaxons? I have to be honest, it's all in the album cover.


A cat... in a SPACE SUIT. I will buy the album for this reason alone (well, plus the album sounds like it could be halfway decent).

Before anyone says "well, cats have been photoshopped into everything, it's really not funny anymore - besides, I'm pretty sure I've seen cat-in-spacesuit pictures floating around the internet for the last two years", let me just say this. Screw you, this is awesome.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Spookymilk Survivor: Challenge Ten

I briefly mentioned Spookymilk Survivor the other day. At its essence, it's a creative writing contest with Survivor-like rules. Initially, there were three teams, but one team chose to invoke the curse of Nick Punto, and were brutally destroyed. Now there remain two teams of seven (now six) a piece. Challenges are issued every week, with a due date of Saturday night. On Saturday night, Spooky and Beau judge the entries and score them. The team with the lowest score votes out a member of their team.

This week, the challenge was "Fortunately, Unfortunately". Players were given a "seed phrase", and had to build a story, using sentences which alternated starting with the words fortunately and unfortunately.

This challenge taxed me more than any other, actually. In the end, I wasn't particularly pleased with either entry, but I guess everything turned out all right.

Spookymilk had me start out with "I gave up smoking a few hours ago", Beau started me off with the classic "Mary had a little lamb". Here's where I went with each:

I gave up smoking a few hours ago.
I gave up smoking a few hours ago…
Fortunately, I think I’ll be able to go the rest of my life without a cigarette.
Unfortunately, that’s because I’ve been captured by a tribe of cannibals.
Fortunately, the cravings haven’t really started kicking in yet.
Unfortunately, their cravings for human flesh aren’t similarly checked.
Fortunately, I’m thinking I can get these ropes untied.
Unfortunately, after slipping away, I’ve realized I’m trapped on an island, and the only pack of cigs is in the cannibal camp.
Fortunately, I think I can sneak in without them realizing.
Unfortunately, I can see that I was mistaken in that thought, and I’ve gotten myself recaptured.
Fortunately, I’m back to quitting smoking again.

I was trying to loop the story back to where getting captured by cannibals would be preferable to going without a pack of cigarettes. I'm not sure I succeeded, but it ended up looking a lot better than the first few drafts, so I didn't feel too badly about this one.

Mary had a little lamb.

Mary had a little lamb.
Unfortunately, its fleece was worthless, and it was sent to a packing plant.
Fortunately, eco-terrorists attacked, and the truck was driven off the road.
Unfortunately, it came to rest on some train tracks, with a train bearing down.
Fortunately, it was able to jump out of the vehicle in the nick of time.
Unfortunately, the slaughterhouse supervisor was bizarrely single-minded, and tracked the lamb – always one step behind it.
Fortunately, the lamb was able to escape by jumping off the dam and into the river below.
Unfortunately, it came out of the river thoroughly bedraggled, and barely clinging to life.
Fortunately, a girl named Sylvia found the lamb and nursed it back to health over the course of four months.
Unfortunately, both Sylvia and her parents are BIG fans of lamb chops…

I really had no idea where to go with this one. I tried about 5 or 6 different things, but none of them showed any promise, so I ended up making the lamb into Richard Kimble from The Fugitive and bluntly ending it with cookery. I felt bad that I phoned this one in, and I stared at it for a good ten minutes in my outbox looking for inspiration, or at the very least, some way to make what I already had not suck. Nothing came, and I had to leave for the rest of the day, so I sent it off. Not my best, but The Winner Group lives on, anyway!

Next week's challenge is "Video Game Pitch". I'm actually kind of excited about this one. There's a lot of different directions to go with it. Hopefully, inspiration hits me over the head a little harder this week.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ten Random: The "Let's Get Back to Business" Edition

Ten song culled from my library that have been given the "Music to Shoot Stuff To" tag. Essentially, these are the soundtrack to playing Call of Duty with my friends.

1. Jay Reatard - My Shadow - Blood Visions
(Whoa, I could not have asked for a better leadoff track....)

2. Dub Pistols - Something to Trust - Speakers and Tweeters
3. Project 86 - Breakdown in 3/4 - Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
4. MxPx - I'm Ok, You're Ok - Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo
5. Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori - Halo Theme (Mjolnir Mix) - Halo 2, Vol 1
6. Powerman 5000 - Danger is Go! - Anyone For Doomsday?
7. The Go! Team - Grip Like a Vice - Proof of Youth
8. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Baudelaire - Source Tags and Codes
9. Aphex Twin - Windowlicker - Windowlicker
10. Quarashi - Mr. Jinx - Jinx

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Probably Should Have Wrote This Up a Month Ago

Early last month (the 4th, in fact), Branny and I went to see The Hold Steady at First Avenue. We hit up a bar shortly before the event, and had a blast at the show. The Whigs opened, and started the concert off with the infamous "Tomahawk Chop" music - Atlanta bastards. They were actually quite good, and even got a chuckle in when the lead singer "admitted" that Gant fell off first base without any "help" from Hrbek, pulling off his overshirt to reveal a Twins jersey. The Hold Steady came on and killed. Overall, I got hoarse from excitedly shouting along with every song, and the whole night is one of my fondest musical memories.

Courtesy of the Hold Steady Taped Show Archive, I now have the bootleg of the concert. Well, a replay of it, anyway. It seems the Current played the show in its entirety shortly after the 4th, and it was recorded and encoded into VBR-0 MP3 format. The sound quality is quite good, if a little light on the bass. Craig's voice is a smidge rough (especially in the beginning), and the DJ from the radio rebroadcast breaks into the audio in between a couple of the songs to chime in mentioning what it is that you're listening to (he only appears over crowd noise, nothing of importance is lost), but overall, it's a fantastic way to remember a great show at a great venue.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Challenge Accepted

The Jester is (correctly) skeptical about the unzombification of this blog, saying that he'll believe that I'm back when I'm still regularly posting in one month's time.

I'll do you one better, I'll post something at least marginally substantive every day for the entire rest of August. At least once a day, I'll make a post concerning... well... I'm not sure exactly what I'll talk about every day for a month, but I'll make it work.

Also, there will be no more meta-style posts about blogging. The "Blogs About Blogging" tag is jumping up the leaderboard at an alarming rate.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blogging About Blogging

A couple of things...

  • I'm going to change the template of this site, which I've hated since the very beginning (at least it's not as bad as my old Xanga, eh, Jester?) There will be a tasteful banner at the top, and the sidebars will be arranged a little better so as to make Nibbishment seem a little less like a wall of text.
  • I'm thinking about adding a little bit of comment protection. I have two reasons for this.

    1. I'm getting a fair bit of spam, especially since I made that post about the Vista defender issue. That post is by far (and I mean by FAR) my most viewed and commented upon article, and I'm genuinely happy that I was able to help a few people out, but good heavens has it been a magnet for spambots.

    2. I like knowing who says what. When someone hilariously says that he finds it likely that I live in my parents' basement, I want to know who that is, so that I can congratulate him on his deductive powers*. Even if it's just an alias, I'd like to have something to know things by. Until I do so, please utilize the "name" field when you leave comments. You liked the Highway Hunter soundtrack? Sweet. I did, too, but if I commented on your site, I'd totally leave a sign saying "Nibbish was here".
* Although, to be fair, I actually live twenty floors below sea level - in a bunker.
  • Remember that whole "50 Favorite Song Parts" thing I did last year? I was thinking of giving myself some sort of similarly unreasonable blogging task right away. You know, to punish myself for re-entering the blogging fray. I'll think on what that Top 50 list might be. This time, you won't have to wait three weeks for 10-1.
  • Also, as a throwback, behold the mighty dikdik.

CD Review: Neon Bible

This post has the potential to be surprising for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it's been almost a half a year since my last post. I'm sure most of the people who read this blog probably thought I had been kidnapped, and that no one bothered to pay the ransom.

No, the truth is, I just haven't thought of much that would be interesting for others to read. Most of the people I discuss things with are either on my IM, or chilling over at SBG's place. Also, just about any spare creative thought has been going into Spookymilk's Creative Writing Survivor.

The second reason this might be a little surprising is that I'm kicking it off with a review of a CD that's already over three years old. The title isn't a typo, it's time to take a look back at Neon Bible. I loved it back in the day (it was my number one album for 2007), but it's been getting a pretty savage beating by everyone in the wake of the new Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs.

Neon Bible seemed pretty well respected by the populous when it first came out. It got an 87 on Metacritic, which landed it around number seven for the year, and hit a lot of the critics' year end lists (twenty five 'major' top ten lists, by Metacritic's count), and general consensus seemed to be that it was a pretty damn fine package.

This year, though, it seems the only constant thing people have to say about The Suburbs is that it's a 'welcome step back toward the Funeral days'. Many of the places that I've been reading mention how dour Neon Bible was and how the new album thankfully eases up a little bit. So, what happened in the last three years

I think a lot of the dour reputation Neon Bible gets comes from the album opener "Black Mirror". Honestly, I feel it to be the weakest song on the album, and if there's a song that gets skipped, it's generally that one. It sets up the pessimistic attitude, but it almost does it's job a little too well. "Keep the Car Running" just feels like such a perfect album opener, with its soaring hook and driving beat. The light - almost haunting - title track moves perfectly into the massive sounding "Intervention". The songs are all dark and ominous, without much light filtering in, but they're almost all fantastic. In fact, from front to back, I'm not sure I know of another album where I consistently play every song (excluding "Black Mirror").

A couple of listens in, I can tell you that The Suburbs is a great CD, and will be high on my year end list (yes, that means that the lights are coming back on around here - more on that later), but Neon Bible remains one of my favorite albums of all time. I can listen to it today, having heard it countless times already, and still get the same feeling during "Intervention" that I did back in the day. I still whoop and shout to "No Cars Go", and "My Body is a Cage" makes my blood run cold. Detractors should take another listen - in my opinion, Neon Bible is every bit the album Funeral is, maybe even better.

Now. Come to Minnesota, damn it. I missed the last tour because I was busy getting married, and I'd like to check another favorite band off the list.