Archive for January, 2010

Friday Playlist #4

January 29th, 2010 No comments

Ahh, the wonders of Friday. Survive today and, more than likely, you’ll have two free days of mirth and merriment that just don’t last long enough.

OK, enough of the palaver, down to the tunes.  I thought I’d take things up a level this week and leave the selection of the Friday playlist to the hands of fate, or, at the very least, the algorithms involved in the “shuffle” function of my trusty iPod.

First and foremost, I make no apologies for what could potentially come up in the shuffle. I will, in no way, skip over tracks just because they suck and/or are embarrassing. I stand by what I have on my trusty device.

Second, this may be a tad of a departure from the normal playlist because I’ve got a good deal of comedy and even a few audiobooks on this particular iPod. Typically I mark the audiobooks to not appear in the shuffle mix, but you never know.

OK, let’s get this show on the road.

1. The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket
Right off the bat and I get one of those “This is on my iPod?!?!?!” tracks. I’m not the biggest fan of the Pretenders, but this song always played on the AM radio station we would listen to in my Dad’s Chevy Vega when we’d take loads of trash to the dump out in rural New Mexico. That’s right, I have happy memories stemmed by a catchy pop song and the stench of garbage. Damn I miss the dead animal pit.

2. N.W.A. – If It Ain’t Ruff
Such an odd track off of the Straight Outta Compton album to pick. There is this sort of bug wing vibration that cycles back and forth between the left and right channel during this song that makes it very hard for me to listen with headphones. Back when I thumped some serious bass in my ’81 Olds, this song would rattle the side mirrors out of position. That being said, I love this song because it’s one of N.W.A.’s simpler tracks and really showcases MC Ren’s talents.

3. The Sex Pistols – C’mon Everybody
Ahh, The Great Rock’n’roll Swindle. This Eddie Cochran song has the distinction of being performed by Sid Vicious rather than Johnny Rotten for this track from the Sex Pistols’ infamous movie. Despite general opinion to the contrary, I actually though Sid had a pretty good singing voice.

4. Sigur Ros – Intro
Sigur Ros is one of those bands that I put on when I need to get stuff done. The back-masking and flowing aspects of it get all my brainwaves going the right direction. I’ve always believed that the Icelandic people were all elves or fairies or gnomes or something and still wielded magical powers over the rest of us mundy folk. Listen to Intro and I dare you to prove me wrong.

5. Balzac – Wall
I’ve talked about my love of Balzac before, and this song doesn’t disappoint at all. I’m almost positive this one is in Japanese, but I can almost never tell with Balzac. This particular track from their 15 Years of Unhold Darkness  “best of” album is a more cut down version of the song that focuses more on the guitars and really scales back on the vocals. In fact, the typical backing vocal track for Wall isn’t present at all. I think I just noticed that for the first time.

6. John Denver – Shanghai Breezes
That’s right, I listen to John freakin’ Denver. Deal with it. John Denver was always a Thursday afternoon listen when I was growing up along with the Bee Gees and Gordon Lightfoot. What I find interesting about this particular song is that it is a complete departure from John’s normal type of track. While there is still the nature element to the song, there ain’t a mountain in sight.  Hell, he’s even left Colorado for China. I guess those Communist tendencies should have been a little more apparent after this one.

7. Sun Kil Moon – Ocean Breathes Salty
Mark Kozelek is a genius. Sure, I hated Red House Painters when I first heard them but his haunting voice really grows on you. It actually works really well that this track follows John Denver and it’s quite odd to me that this is a Modest Mouse song. Mark owns this one like he does almost every song he covers.

8. Synical – Burn
This is a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Burn for the Recovered in Nails tribute record. One thing I noticed right off the bat is that these guys are trying just way too hard. Then I remember, that’s what the majority of those goth/industrial bands from the late-90′s were all about. You’d almost never know that Synical is a pseudo-solo project from an art school student in Georgia. It’s almost poetic justice that he’s covering a song written by a band nerd from Cleveland.

9. Irving – The Guns From Here
It is an amazing case of serendipity that led me to discover Irving. My brother’s former band, Astroblast, was performing a show at a warehouse in Austin and squeezle and I decided to go down and see them play. One of the bands to play that night was Irving. Amongst the early 2000′s Austin indie rock was this band that had more similarities to the Beatles than anything else being played that night. Plus, they were really great people to talk to and were some pretty fun drunks. I’ve followed them ever since.

10. Pixies – Where is My Mind
Yup, that Fight Club song. While this has been one of my favorite songs for a very long time, thanks to the end of that epic movie, I always see burning buildings when I hear this song. Plus, it’s got one of the greatest guitar breakdowns in all of rockdom. Seeing this song performed live is haunting as hell with everyone in the venue doing the “wooooo-ooooooo” part. I want you to hit me as hard as you can.

11. Joy Division – New Dawn Fades
Boy, let’s just dive right down into the psychosis. I’m not sure it’s ever safe to follow “Where is my Mind” with Joy Division of any flavor. Either way, I have always liked this song because it has such a different guitar sound than most other Joy Division songs. It’s also one of the few songs where Ian Curtis really throws himself in and thrashes about a bit. Moby redid this song with New Order at some point, but I’ve always wanted TheThe to do a cover. Crazy people make the best music.

12. Misfits – The Haunting
I think this can really only be called the Misfits thanks to legal settlement. This is Michale Graves-era Misfits, so there isn’t much expectation. For what it is, it’s pretty decent. I definitely prefer this to the tragedy that was the three-piece Misfits I saw a couple of years ago live.

13. Mogwai – Like Herod
For me, Mogwai is a lot like Sigur Ros. I don’t fully understand it, but I really really appreciate that its been done and that I can get my paws on it. “Like Herod” is from the Young Team album which I consider just about the best of Mogwai’s efforts. There must be something about the edges of the Arctic Circle that really inspire instrument-heavy music that flows right through you. Sure, Mogwai can hit like a brick wall, especially in “Like Herod,” but it’s the whole ride that makes it incredible.

14. Pixies – Crackity Jones
Well, another Pixies track. I tried forever and ever to understand this song before deciding that it really meant nothing at all. You just gotta love that. What I love most about this song is that it’s freakishly short and has Black Francis barking like a damn dog. Yeah, I’m easily amused. This song should be an ADD anthem.

15. Kinks – Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy
Ray Davies was way ahead of his time. This song was released in 1965 and is still seriously relevant today stylistically. While not as successful as a lot of their other songs, I, particularly, appreciate the arrangement of this track. It’s got zippy guitars and it’s got hand claps. That shit is just catchy.

There, that wasn’t so bad. Only a couple of skeletons out of my vast closet and the world didn’t even end. Perhaps I’ll pull another random fifteen tracks next week since this playlist wasn’t as Earth shattering as I was afraid it could be.

Wherein Justin “reads” books and sounds smart and shits

January 27th, 2010 No comments

A terribly sad thing happened on my way in to work this fine morning: I finally finished Jim Butcher’s Turn Coat. At 7:18AM CST I caught up with the rest of the world and now have to wait until April until I can get another Harry Dresden fix.

In explaining the “Dresden Files” books to many of my friends, however, I came across an interesting conundrum related to our now ever-connected, always-on-the-move society that drastically affects storytelling and the written word: what is “reading” a book?

You see, I have a thirty minute commute to and from work each day. For the past several years I’ve spent most of those drives listening to audio books. In fact, that’s how I “read” nine of the eleven current Dresden books.

This has brought up quite the discussion with acquaintances about whether listening to an audiobook constitutes actually “reading” that book?

First things first, I want to eliminate a glaring variable from the argument: abridged audiobooks are right out. In my opinion, abridged audiobooks should be all shot into the sun and the creators shamed. If I want and abridged version of the story, I’ll wait for the damn movie. Problem settled? Back to main discussion.

It is my belief that the concept of “reading” a book needs a fundamental change in definition. “Reading” alone, in these “New Media” times is insufficient to describe the intake of a story or defined knowledge. I propose that “reading” become a subset of a more standard term of “consumption” of a written work. I understand that it is mostly an argument of semiotics, but defining the “consumption” of a book as either reading or listening (or whatever other method you take in knowledge) provides a broader allowance for the user experience.

At any given time, I am almost always listening to a book and reading at least one book. That doesn’t even take into account the five to ten comic books I read each day. All of these efforts I consider “reading.” If I learned braille and figured out a way to taste the written word, I’d have just about all bases covered.

Join me next time when I take up Hemingway as interpretive dance.

Categories: Books, Popular Culture, Ravings

We make holes in links

January 26th, 2010 No comments

My general email address has been public for well over a dozen years, so I get a lot of spam. I’ve got some pretty good filters nowadays, but the amount that piles up in that trash folder can be pretty staggering.

This really didn’t bother me until I started writing this blog. I am amazed at how many spam blog comments pop up each day. I’m fortunate to have the controls of WordPress in place to hold back the swarm of this shite from you “real” readers, but it honestly makes me wonder about the logic behind the development of these “bot monsters.”

I’ve been down the automated spam road before. As admin of the forum over at Forkers Central, I’ve had to deal with my share of automated and people-based spammers over the past couple of years.

It used to be that you could easily baffle the non-human spammer with simple captcha. When Skynet figured out how to read captcha, developers were forced to put logic into the registration process in order to comment on a forum or blog. It looks like even that isn’t working these days.

For some odd reason, I have always envisioned spammers akin to the Cavity Creeps of Crest toothpaste commercials of yore.

Yup, that’s just how my twisted brain works. It makes sense that, since they’ve been out of work for years, the Cavity Creeps would naturally gravitate to online mayhem. Isn’t that what all ailing villians eventually do? It’s not like the convention circuit is all that great for these denziens of tooth decay.

I know, I know. How could animated baddies send out comments about real estate scams and penis pills? Hey, it’s the internet. If you’ve thought of it, it’s probably already out there. Don’t even get me started on cereal fetishists.

Categories: blogs, monkey, Ravings

The creative process

January 26th, 2010 No comments

For the most part, I consider myself wildly creative but horribly untalented. Over the past couple of years I’ve managed to cludge together some (what I consider) pretty decent creative output, but I always seem to struggle with it.

That’s one of the reasons I really wanted to get this little ray o’ internet sunshine going: to help keep the creative process fresh and new in my thick technical skull.

Don’t get me wrong, I flow forth with creative outlets every day. I realize that it takes a certain type of deep geek to understand, but there is a flowing beauty to lines of computer code that many people can easily recognize. If anything, my slight synesthesic tendencies (I’ll definitely explain that at a later time) help me take the shapes and pictures in my head and turn them into defined logic. I just wish I could take the pictures and shapes in my head and turn them into pictures and shapes more easily.

One of the most humorous things about this current little endeavor is that I’ve done just about nothing to define the identity of Not With That Face. In all of my previous efforts in creative effort, flamingkitty and Forkers Centralin particular, the initial efforts have always been with the logo/brand generation and then the website followed (By the way, Forkers shirts and pins are always still available over at that website). I’ve still not figured out what to do in conjunction with this particular site.

Funny thing is, I’m not really considering that a bad thing. So far, the writing has been the focus of this for me.

Maybe, someday, I’ll even get good at doing that.

Categories: monkey, Ravings

Coding in the Hellmouth

January 25th, 2010 No comments

Every couple of weeks my email inbox gets bombarded by offers of contract employment in strange and far off cities. I just about always check out where the job is in case I know someone that direction who might be interested (referral cash is as good as free money), but I generally just click the delete button and send these offers off into the ether to be recycled as ads for penis enlargement or lap band surgery.

Today, however, I got a contract offer for the one place I never thought I’d see in a contract employment email: Sunnydale, California. For the uninitiated, Sunnydale is the “town” where Buffy the Vampire Slayer takes place. Sunnydale is renowned for being a Hellmouth: a location of increased supernatural energies and basically serves as a portal between Earth and Hell.

Imagine my surprise to get a job offer there. For the seven seasons Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran on television (not to mention all the Buffy comic books I’ve read), Sunnydale as spit out baddie after baddie to terrorize the general populace and generally cause much mirth and mayhem.

Now the big question. Would I want to work there?  Even though the contract is only for a couple of months doing UI development (User Interface for you non-technical types), the thought of being smack dab (not sand dabs. Look it up) near the Hellmouth has some serious potential. At the very least I could team up with the local Scoobies (you know they exist) and hang out picking on weird homeless people after beers (or whatever they served) at the Bronze.

Wait a minute, that job was in Sunnyvale, CA and not Sunnydale, CA? Screw that.

Friday Playlist #3

January 22nd, 2010 No comments

Well, it’s Friday again, and that means more freakin’ music from me. I know I’ve been extra slacky this week, but that is, indeed, my prerogative (and I don’t mean the Bobby Brown kind).

This week’s offering leans a little more towards the fast and dirty. I’ve basically been cooped up all week, so that almost always gets reflected in the music I listen to. There are some real gems this week and maybe even some surprises from bands you thought you knew.

1. Stiff Little Fingers – Wasted Life
It often seems the case that with punk; older is better. Stiff Little Fingers is the perfect case and “Wasted Life” is the perfect song. This tune just oozes 1977 UK youth revolt.

2. Strike Anywhere – The Promise
Let’s jump almost 30 years into the future and more into the modern political realm of bands like Anti-Flag. While still throwing down some good “smack-yourself-against-your-friends” tunes, Strike Anywhere actually has something to say. And, in my opinion, they do it quite well.

3. Supersuckers – Born With a Tail
Damn I love me some Supersuckers. It is always hard as hell for me to pick out my favorite tracks when it comes to this band of Arizona transplant miscreants, but “Born With a Tail” is just about as good as it comes. Besides, who really doesn’t want a prehensile tail?

4. Manic Hispanic – Tijuana Must Fall
I first saw Manic Hispanic on one of the tiny side stages at Warped Tour about six or seven years ago. My first thought is that they had a seriously genius idea and some really good musical chops to pull it off. Any band capable of consistently pulling off “Chicano” conversions of well known punk songs without sounding like a sped up El Vez clone deserves some attention.

5. Whole Weat Bread – Old Man Samson
Another band I stumbled upon, I first saw Whole Wheat Bread open for Big D & the Kids Table at a tiny, odd little BYOB place in Lewisville, TX. Having learned that they described themselves as “Dirty South Punk Rock,” I was quite curious to see this moderate combo of rap and punk and was pretty damn happy with the outcome. “Old Man Samson” is more like a Dropkick Murphys song; not at all what you’d expect from a predominantly African-American band.

6. The Germs – Lexicon Devil
Probably one of the most iconic songs from an iconic band, Lexicon Devil is one of the first punk songs I got my hands on as a youngster. Even after 30 years, it’s still good. Here’s some trivia, for the single recording of this song, Pat Smear didn’t have an amp, so he plugged directly into the mixing board. Who knew?

7. Millions of Dead Cops – Chicken Squawk
MDC is proof that Texas was in on the American punk movement as early as those East and West coasters. Rather than pick an obvious tune like “I Remember” or “John Wayne Was a Nazi,” I opted for “Chicken Squawk.” No slight to the other songs, but Chicken Squawk is damn funny and really shows off the Austin roots.

8. Balzac – Break Fuckin’ Yourself
I can blame Balzac for a lot of things. It’s Balzac’s fault I spend too much damn money on imported toys, it’s Balzac’s fault that I still pay attention to the Misfits and it’s Balzac’s fault that I get a kick out of hilariously bad Japanese theme bands. For the uninitiated, Balzac are pretty much the Japanese analog of the Misfits (though probably better than the Misfits ever were). Many of their songs are sung in English (like this one), but one would never know from listening.

9. Rocket From the Crypt – Savoir Faire
Rocket From the Crypt is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. During their tenure they always brought new and exciting energy to each release and put on some of the sickest live shows I’ve ever seen. I am always surprised at the number of closet RFTC fans I run into who have one story or another about a live show or other RFTC experience. I’ve got a couple of my own, but you’ll have to buy me beers to get them out of me.

10. The Vandals – N.I.M.B.Y.
Despite all the legal hubbub surrounding the Vandals, I still love these goofballs. Who else would write a song condemning G.E. Smith from moving into their neighborhood?

11. Really Red – I Was A Teenage Fuckup
Ahh, more old-school fun, and another Texas band to boot! Really Red ran their course from the late 70′s until 1985, dropped just a couple of records and toured with a crapload of influential bands, but their pinnacle is really bringing the punk scene to Houston and probably a lot more of Texas. For this, they should always be remembered

12 Peter & the Test Tube Babies – Banned From The Pubs
Not much to say about this one other than it’s core UK punk and has probably influenced many a young tosser. “Banned from the Pubs” has the distinction of being one of the most normal Peter & the Test Tube Babies titles ever.

13. Nina Hagen – Zero Zero U.F.O.
Nina Hagen is German and scary. Despite listening to a lot of her stuff, I really don’t get it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like it, but I put it up there with Diamanda Galas and Yoko Ono. It’s art and to be appreciated, but it may give the dog diarrhea.

14. Fear – Let’s Have A War
Ahh, good ol’ Fear. Listen to this song and think about how most of you know Fear front man: Lee Ving. Give up? He was Mr. Boddy in the old Clue movie. Sure, he was also the stripclub owner in Flashdance, but what’s the fun in remembering that?

OK, that’s it for the week. My brain hurts and I’m tired of writing. Suck it up.

Categories: Friday Playlist, Music

I’ve got your artistic talent right here…

January 19th, 2010 No comments

I think often about getting out of the Information Technology business. As I sit here typing this out today, my left hand is, once again, trussed up like a Victorian strumpet thanks to mysterious wrist pain.

Too many video games? Too much masturbation? No, I think this actually came from working; and by work I mean typing out hundreds of lines of code.

I think I’d much rather do something more creative. I’ve expressed a wee tiny bit of creative talent that, with proper nurturing and education, could develop into something “real.” I get all jazzed up and try doing my little illustration projects that take tons of effort with minimal result and then I get the proverbial “smack in the face” by looking at other people’s creative work. Work that looks beautiful and effortless and comes with that incredible natural talent that, seemingly, cannot be taught.

Joby Cummings is just the latest artist to make me feel this way. I first was drawn to Joby’s work in tattooing (he’s out at Freak Chic in Los Angeles for those in the area), but then found his design and illustration work.

Holy crap he makes me ill. Take the image I stole from him for this post (available as both a printand a kickass shirt on his website). Have you figured it out yet? Those filigreed ribbons don’t just make a skull, they also spell out the classic seven deadly sins. How sick is that? You know you have to have one of those.

Joby’s even got a hotshot solo show at EM & Costarting up this week. I’d love to go to the opening reception on Thursday night, but my Learjet is in the shop. Plus, I think the Pope may swing by my place on Thursday to get his ass kicked at Wii.

I’ll just take my crayons and go cry in the corner.

Stalin’s got nothing on me

January 18th, 2010 No comments

I’m a hoarder. I’ve mentioned it before and I totally own up to the fact that I probably have a pathological problem.

The thing is, I don’t give a rat’s ass. I enjoy my behavior. In fact, I can’t even bring myself to watch the crazy Hoarders show on A&E because it depresses me that packrat behavior is the new disease of the week.

Part of my natural cycle as a hoarder is occasional periods of purging. I get tired of the piles of crap around me and want new piles of crap. Over the years I’ve attempted to steer these periods of pseudo-asceticism towards a definable goal: be it the digitization of my massive music collection (an effort in grand fail) or, my current purge, “redefinition” of my toy collection.

I’ve got a metric crapload of toys. More importantly, I’ve got a metric crapload of toys from a company that has pissed me off with their practices and quality (read this; it almost mirrors my feelings). Therefore, I am dumping Western vinyl like crazy.

This is a good thing. I’m sure I’ll fill up just about the same amount of space with Eastern counterparts, but at least (I hope) I’ll be able to make a transition.

It’s actually a fun exercise. It’s like going into your house and saying, “Everything blue has got to go!”

Change is good.

Friday Playlist #2

January 15th, 2010 No comments

So I’ve been a little lax this week.  Truth be told, it’s been the week from hell and I really didn’t feel like venting via blog. It’s much easier to punch people in the face than spout invective about them online. That’s the power of action, people.  Remember that.

So, here we are with the second installment of a weekly playlist. I’d like to say I spent the week pouring over my archives looking for wonderful music to share with you, laugh about, cry about, etc.. That just isn’t the truth.

In my fury of hatred-laced annoyance, I spent my week switching back and forth between the Jay-Z disc of my Presenting DJ Hero Renegade Edition double CD set and the Original Cast Recording of Wicked.  No lie. Don’t judge.

Being that I’ve been on the verge of either depression or anxiety (maybe it’s just gas) all week, this little playlist should be a doozie. I think I even might just write a blurb with every song (even though I said I wasn’t going to do that) just because I fucking feel like it.

1. The Avett Brothers – The Perfect Space
Looks like I can’t start one of these without an Avett Brothers song. Despite the really really hokey middle part, this song really touches in a non-dirty way.

2. Red House Painters – Song for a Blue Guitar
Despite being on one of the happiest RHP albums released, this song, for some reason, breaks me up. I’ve seen this song played live eight times and have cried every time. If that’s not proof I’m not an android, I’m not sure what is.

3. Shallow – The Strangest Thing
This song reminds me of my old grad-school roommate. He introduced me to shallow when we were undergrads and I can always imagine him awkwardly bobbing and squeaking to this song.

4. Pleasant Grove – Only A Mountain
Probably the best song to ever come out of a Dallas band. Ever! Disagreements with that statement will be met with fists of fury. It still takes me back to the first time I saw PG live opening for the Old 97′s at Trees.

5. Jay-Z – Brooklyn Go Hard
See, I wasn’t lying. I can’t say exactly why, but this song just strikes me as very divergent of Jay-Z’s typical rhythm and cadence. It pays homage to a lot of classic styles and even makes a pasty white kid like me feel a bit gangsta (did I seriously just fucking write “gangsta?”).

6. The Weird Sisters – This Is the Night
Best song by a fictional band made up of some of the best bands the UK has offered us. This is the Pulp song that I always waited for in response to just about all of the content of Common People, but never happened.

7. Aimee Mann – Ballantines
Ever since Magnolia I can’t see or hear Aimee Mann without thinking about a rain of frogs. Hell, I was even listening to one of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books that had a rain of frogs and I thought “Gee, an Aimee Mann song would be appropriate here.” This “chippy” tune wraps up her Smilers album and is probably the best track on the album.

8. Arcade Fire – Intervention
I swear these guys must have gone to college with me. This song sums up the way I felt about a lot of people I had to share the Baylor University campus with. I swear the only reason I ended up in Political Science was that I was afraid of all of the other people around me ending up running the world.

9. The Cherry Cokes – Bullet For Vapid Beer
OK, how awesome is this for a band concept: Japanese Irish Folk. No shits, these guys are Japanese and sing Irish folky-punk on par with the Flogging Molly. With most songs I can’t tell if they are singing in Japanese or English, but that sure as hell wouldn’t stop me from throwing back an Asahi Stout (do they even make that?) with these bastard-sans.

10. Wilco – Box Full of Letters
When Wilco first got going, I actually managed to insult Jeff Tweedy at a post-live show interview by saying both that this new incarnation wasn’t as good as Uncle Tupelo and that it sounded a lot like Cracker. Box Full of Letters summed that up for me, despite still being one of my favorite Wilco songs. I’m not saying I had any influence, but notice just how different Being There is from A.M.. I’m just sayin’.

11. 25%Toby – Skin Cancer
If you haven’t seen 25%Toby play live then you have truly missed out on one of the best treats to ever come out of Dallas. Toby Halbrooks is so insane on stage that they pretty much can’t play at many venues in Dallas anymore: due to equipment damage. I saw 25%Toby before I knew Toby really well and was seriously shocked by what transpired on stage. After getting to know Toby, I’m surprised anyone let him on stage in the first place.

12. The Germs – Richie Dagger’s Crime
This song always makes me want to hit things. Not people, mind you, just things. Actually, I’d really like to wreak havoc all over the produce department of a supermarket while this song blares over the P.A. system. I’m not sure why, but it sounds like a good idea.

13. The Warlocks – It’s Just Like Surgery
This is one of the ultimate mysteries of my music collection. Last week I see this band name on my iPod that I didn’t recognize, so I pop it on to see what it’s like. Out of the ether comes a band that is 85% Jesus and Mary Chain, 15% Placebo. Want it to be weirder? Apparently, I saw this band open for The Sisters of Mercy a couple of years ago. I own this CD and have no idea where it came from, but now I’m pissed that I haven’t been listening to them for the past couple of years. Hard living will do that to you.

14. Helium – Superball
Helium was one of those ultra-cool bands from my undergrad that made me and my friends give each other high-fives for knowing about. We were underground and cool because we thought Mary Timony was hot and sang edgy stuff and played with those guys who used to play with Mary Lou Lord after she got all acoustic-purist and would play the street corners along 6th Street in Austin during SXSW. Yeah, we were proto-hipster.

15. Transplants – Diamonds and Guns
Aside from reminding me of shampoo commercials, this song makes me feel way more hardcore than any old-school punk ever does. I think it’s the fact that it’s basically Rancid over some samples and crunchy guitars topped off with Skinhead Rob yelling about stuff. It’s like punk Gorillaz and a damn fine way to end a mix.

Categories: Friday Playlist, Music

What? No cheat codes? WTF?!?!?!

January 12th, 2010 No comments

Generally I’m a pretty stressed out person. I’m not sure how that is different than anyone else living in modernity, but at least I’m aware that I’m usually pretty jacked up on a day-to-day basis. What’s worse is that I understand that the amounts of stress I consider myself under is not all that healthy; and that stresses me out more.

I’ve tried lots of things over the years to alleviate my stress, but what seemed to work best was alcohol, cigarettes and soccer.

Welcome to my new era. I’ve cut my drinking way back (still not sure if that was the best idea), the smoking has slowed down significantly (but not stopped entirely and that causes even more stress), and the soccer team is on hiatus. That leaves me with the option to implode or to find another outlet.

In the past several years I have noticed that if I don’t get a degree of physical activity during the week, I’m a real basket-case. This was really noticed during a stint where rain halted my soccer season for four straight weeks. Not being able to shake all the aggro out on the pitch for a month made me a not-so-fun person to be around, so this current soccer hiatus thing was a real concern. So concerned, in fact, that I even considered joining a gym (shudder).

While the thought of scaring people at the gym with my glow-in-the-dark pasty skin and total lack of coordination sounds rather entertaining, I was more than willing to try a couple of other things before going to that extreme.

Enter Wii Active from EA.

I’ve not been the biggest fan of the fitness-related games for the Wii. I was an early adopter of the Wii Fit and it did not much more than piss me off. I’m not the best at standing still and having to stand on a little plastic platform while a little Mii version of a Japanese guy berated me for missing days and gaining weight was not my style of motivation.

Wii Active has taken a much gentler approach to attacking my general state of sloth.

Sure, the trainer prattles on constantly about how my cadence is good and dedication and blah blah blah crap, but that actually does a good job of distracting me while I am actually getting some decently led exercise.

I’m currently in the first week of a 30 day regiment on Wii Active that even tells me which days to rest and not bother firing up the machine to work out. Any workout that has built-in lazy days is definitely something I can get behind.  Aside from some issues with the stupid sensors not sensing that I’m in that damn lunge and it had better pull up soon before I start breaking things, the Wii Active does a good job of working with my pace and giving me motivation enough to keep it up day after day. I can honestly say that I would recommend this “game” to anyone remotely thinking about starting (or continuing) a fitness regiment.

Granted, if I never have to do another one of the Wii Active’s rollerblading exercises I will die a happy man, but I do recommend it.