A Slice of Fried Gold

Best of 2007 (Movies edition)

Monday, December 31, 2007
As this is the first of the three (or potentially four, depending if I get saucy and do comics) Best of 2007 lists that I'm going to do, I'm going to preface it with a bit of a warning. Anyone that knows me knows that I love things like that. I love lists. I love sharing my opinion (I am writing on a blog afterall). This is the logical step when you think about it. Which is why over the next two days I will be releasing my top 10 for movies, TV, and comics and a super impressive top 30 (!!!) list of CD's in 2007.

Of course I will not write about all of them, I was thinking top 3 on the smaller trio and maybe a top 5 or 10 on the CD one, but nothing too crazy. I just feel as if I have to do this. Feel free to share things you've liked this year. I love checking out new things, so go to town folks!

For movies, I kind of think it was a bit of a weak year. Last year had a number of absolute knockouts, starting with Children of Men, and moving on to other amazing movies like the Departed, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine, and Letters from Iwo Jima. There was a lot to love last year. This year, there really wasn't a movie that I walked out of and felt as if I could immediately say "I think this is one of my five or ten favorite movies ever."

There was a lot to very much like, but not a whole lot to absolutely love.

However, I want to preface this with the fact that there are a lot of movies I still need to see before really judging that. I want to see There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Sweeney Todd. the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and a number of others. Maybe the knockouts will be in that list or beyond. Who knows. But below are the movies I thought were the best of the year.

1. Sunshine (Directed by Danny Boyle; Written by Alex Garland; Starring Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans)

This and the following pick may not make the top 10 of my all time favorites, but they are definite top 15 contenders. This movie brilliantly combined sci-fi, drama, action, and bizarro psychological thriller all into one fusion genre. It was like 2001 meets Event Horizon, but without the boredom of the former and the ridiculousness of the latter. Even better, it improved in my mind thinking more of it, plus I have the feeling it will only grow with repeat viewings.

Cillian Murphy and the majority of the cast were predictably great, but the real surprise in the cast was Chris Evans of Cellular and Fantastic Four fame. He really stepped it up in this and proved that he could in fact really display different sides besides arrogance and incredulity.

One of the best parts about it as well was the music. The music set the ambiance perfectly, and the combination of electronic act Underworld and 28 Days Later composer John Murphy were absolute perfection.

For those interested, here is a brief plot synopsis by yours truly: The Sun is extinguishing. The Earth is dying. In a last ditch hope, Earth gets together a team to use a massive nuclear bomb to reignite the Sun (as implausible as it sounds, I actually read up on it and this is in fact possible...in theory). The first team fails mysteriously, so a second and final attempt is joined midway through their journey in the attempt to figure out what happened to the first team and to attempt to complete the mission.

That's some hot stuff right there.

2. Waitress (Directed and Written by Adrienne Shelley; Starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion)

This is just a simple movie about a woman who is living a life that is going no where with a terrible husband and who has a baby on the way whom she is terrified for (because it has to come into this life) and angry at (because it makes her have to stay with her husband). Her life is turned upside down when she meets the new OB/GYN in town, and from there the plot goes and goes into a brilliant coming of age tale (albeit one that takes place slightly later in life than usual).

There is one point that needs to be made before anything here. Keri Russell gives the best performance by any actress this year. No one is even talking about her for an Oscar this year, but she should be bandied about as much as anyone (especially considering the crap class of actresses this year!). She makes Jenna as three dimensional and real as this character could possibly be, and she's funny and touching and perfect.

Nathan Fillion is also fantastic (as always, Browncoats do it better), and the rest of the cast (including a terrifying Jeremy Sisto, an amusing Shelley and Hines, and a wonderful Andy Griffith) bring their A game as well. Shelley does an amazing job crafting a movie that could easily fall into the trap of sappy and overly saccharine, but she dodges that bullet entirely. Sadly enough, she was killed after the film was completed, so we can never see anything else from her, but at least she got this incredibly personal feeling film out before.

3. No Country for Old Men (Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen; Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem)

The third best movie this year in my opinion, but it had the best opportunity of any of them to be an all time great. It is absolutely perfect for 17/18ths of the movie. I loved every bit of it for that. But frankly, I did not grasp the ending. Someone explained it to me well, and I think on repeat viewings it could become my favorite of the year, but where I sit right now makes it the third best.

It's the story of a normal guy (Brolin) who finds a large stash of drug money, and the trail of death and destruction that follows him as the force of nature that is Anton Chigurh (Bardem) tracks him during every waking moment. When you get deeper, its about a lawman (Tommy Lee Jones, doing what he does) dealing with the changing nature of his job, and about how every person involved with the law is always surpassed by the ruthlessness of criminals. Its an extremely engrossing movie on the surface, and I feel as if (as I said) with repeat viewings it will just grow as the subtext is delved into more.

However, regardless of getting subtext or not, Anton Chigurh is pretty much the scariest villain ever and Bardem deserves the Oscar for the role, and the Coen Brothers once again have crafted a sickly funny and intense crime drama in the vein of their previous glories like Fargo. Fantastic movie.

4. Juno (Directed by Jason Reitman; Written by Diablo Cody; Starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera)

5. Stardust (Dir. by Matthew Vaughn; Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn; Starring Charlie Cox and Claire Danes)

6. Enchanted (Directed by Kevin Lima; Written by Bill Lima; Starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey)

7. The Bourne Ultimatum (Directed by Paul Greengrass; Written by Tony Gilroy and Scott Z. Burns; Starring Matt Damon (MATT DAMON!)

8. Zodiac (Directed by David Fincher; Written by James Vanderbilt; Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr.)

9. 3:10 to Yuma (Directed by James Mangold; Written by Hallsted Welles and Michael Brandt; Starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale)

10(tie). Ratatouille (Directed by Brad Bird; Written by Brad Bird; Starring Patton Oswalt and Lou Romano)

10 (tie). Once (Written and Directed by John Carney; Starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

A Quick One While He's Away

I'm going to work on my best of 2007 blog posts today (or tomorrow if I'm lazy and have to work on my New Years party costume), but I wanted to put down some fun things that have happened recently. Well, specifically, I wanted to get to sports related things that absolutely rock my socks.

The New England Patriots

Saturday evening, in front of a record regular season audience of 34.5 million people (!!!), my boys the New England Patriots came from behind to finish the season 16-0 against the New York Giants. In such a monumental season, they not only became the first team to do that, but QB Tom Brady set the record for most TD passes in a season (50) and receiver Randy Moss set the record for most TD receptions in a season (23), and the team as a whole set the records for most points (589) in a season and most TD's (75). Not bad for a season of work if I do say so myself.

Shockingly, I allowed Colver, Lacey, and Amy to come over and watch the game even though generally I am a bit of a nervous wreck during games. But I did OK, even though I did manage to convince them to wear jerseys for me when the Pats were down 12 in the third quarter.

Amy, myself, and Lacey after the victory

It was extremely exciting for me, and I only had one outburst where I got up and ran around cheering, which is pretty good for me. Of course it was on the megabomb from Brady to Moss. Anyways, congrats to the Pats doing something no one has ever done. Now we're just three games away from 19-0 and Super Bowl Championship #4.

And yes, I have worn the same t-shirt every Patriots game this season. In case you were wondering.

Bling Bling!

Coincidentally enough, due to the fact I am a huge New England Patriots fan, I chose them every game this season to win. When doing a Pigskin Pick'Em League for money, that is what we'd like to call a "good thing." That means I had at least 16 correct guesses, which in this incredibly close season, it meant all the world of difference.

I ended up winning my pick'em league by a measly ONE correct guess, with the Indy/Tennessee game being the tiebreaker last night. I'd like to personally thank Mike Nugent (kicker for the Jets) and Kerry Collins (backup QB for Tennessee) for making this all possible. By winning this, I win somewhere around $900 to $1,000. Booyah!

Additionally, I got 2nd place in my points league and first place in my CBS league with Erik and Sobo, meaning Papa's getting a brand new bag! I think second place nets me $360 and the CBS one pulls in $200 between Erik, Sobo, and I, so that means I have the potential to make nearly $1,500 from Fantasy Football this year.

Can I get a hell yes?

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I know mine was great (albeit rather tired) and had a great time with family and friends, as well as picked up some neat stuff as a bonus (I'm currently wearing new sleeping pants and a thermal shirt I got...very nice!).

Yep. I hate it.

Friday, December 21, 2007
Attempting to fix my previous mistake on Facebook's lovely Funwall program...I pressed cancel when it appeared to be sending out the message to everyone again. Sure enough, regardless of the implication of the word "cancel," the message (simply stating "it was an accident!" and having a sad face) went out to everyone after the "cancellation." That finalizes the deal.

I hate Facebook.

I am that Blogger from Alaska

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Well, I made it into a Newsweek article. Not quite in the way I imagined it, but made it no less. The article by Jessica Bennett is located here and I am quoted on the second page, however I am generically known as "a blogger from Alaska." Regardless, I know who I am, and that is very cool. Thanks to Jessica for quoting me, and I recommend checking the article out to all. Very fun read about w00t and its origins and outlook as the once and future word of the year.

Am I the only one? Seriously?

Mark Zuckerberg...surely thinking of another application he can persecute me with

So today I received a message from an old friend on Facebook. Very exciting right? Wrong. As per usual, it was Facebook being utterly useless. 9 times out of 10 when I receive a "message" on there, it's some person asking me to add some new application to my page. Thinking this is necessary to see this message, I add it. Then it goes into a series of confusing messages where it asks me whether or not I would like to send a message on this application to all of my friends.

First off, why would I want to send a message to 167 people? What could this possibly accomplish? What news would I have to tell to all of them anyways?

Second off, why make it incredibly confusing on how to navigate this? Shouldn't there be a simple "no thanks" button so I can opt out of this master trap they've sprung upon me?

So instead of opting out, instead of sending a message to one person on this "fun wall," what do I do?

I inadvertently send a single orange line to 167 people. This led to 7 responses that ranged from bizarre postings that were not related to others that were openingly questioning my sanity. I'm sure the other 160 people were simply like "well, David's lost it."

The point of this?

I hate Facebook.

Back in college, I was an avid proponent of it. Back when it was information, pictures, the wall, all on a clean and clear layout. It was professional and nice mixed with all of the features I yearn for in my social network. Then Mark Zuckerberg threw the News Feed at us (Stalkers LOVE the News Feed I'd imagine) and it all started going to hell. Pretty soon we had the ascension of applications and 10 to 15 emails a day asking me if I would be interested in taking a "likeness test" or adding "Pirates vs. Ninjas."

It has went from the pinnacle of social networking, to some sort of combination of organized stalking guide and annoying widget gatherer. Yet its popularity is booming. I don't get it. I've pretty much switched over to Myspace entirely, and I don't really even like Myspace, but it is the lesser of two evils. Facebook is just one of those things that makes me feel like I am taking crazy pills.

It may sell for $15 billion dollars because its potential as an advertising supergiant, but I wish it would just go back to being the place where I got to stay in touch with my friends without having to get dragged into the ridiculousness of 13 people sending me the same image of a beer mug. Yes. This has happened to me. I wish it would stop, but I fear it's only going to get worse.

Holy Crap...

I know this is not going to matter to really anyone who reads this, but Lost is coming back January 31st after looking like it may be pushed back to 2009. This is a ridiculously good thing. So even though the Writers Strike continues, we will get at least 8 new episodes of Lost very soon, even sooner than we originally thought.

Even more exciting?


Oh. So. Glorious.

My boy Locke is going to lead them all to the Promised Land!

Medicine. M-E-D-I-C-I-N-E. Medicine.

Monday, December 17, 2007
Myself, my fellow judges, and the top 3 finishers

This past Friday I had the good fortune of being able to judge the Lake Hood Elementary Spelling Bee, and it was a blast. I was one of three judges from GCI, including myself, Sharee Tserlentakis (a cube area mate...if that is even a remotely legit term), and Sue Lindquist (runs Call Centers and ITS for the company). In addition to us, there was a nice lady from Fed Ex whose name I cannot remember for the life of me, and the person announcing it was local TV personality (giant? who doesn't know her in Anchorage?) Jackie Purcell. It was an extremely good time, but I have to of course go into more detail than just that, because as per usual, ridiculous things happen in anything I do.

Of course, given that Sharee and I are similarly bizarre people, we decided we were going to pick our "horses." We each chose our top 3 finishers beforehand, our last place finisher, and an additional sleeper pick. How did we do at guessing random children's success at spelling words?


Apparently this is something that is not based off appearance whatsoever. We were good at picking one thing, and that was who was going down first (Sorry Billy Fischer, you were sitting in the first chair and you looked like a bad speller...yes I am going to hell). Our combined six picks spelled two words correctly. If we were betting on literal horses, we would be broke and living on the streets right now. However, thankfully we were just betting on children in a competition we were judging. But thankfully we had ethics mostly, although if any parent wanted to discuss bribes, we may have been open to it.

Additionally, myself and Sharee found it very interesting that Jackie Purcell got delicious Dasani water from the springs of Colorado, while us judges received Kirkland Signature generic water, from the taps of Lake Hood Elementary. What are we? Second class citizens? I can't wait 'til I'm a weatherperson so I can get my own choice bottle of water.

All the kids before the Spelling Bee started

Back to the competition. After it was all said and done, a 5th grader named Katalina Kioa won the Bee by spelling the word medicine correctly. She was confident and always asked for the definition, and those were the two main things that seperated her from the pack. Well...besides spelling every word correctly. I did find it pretty interesting that obsequious was a first round question, yet medicine was a final round question. Who decides that? Those words are not even close in difficulty!

Regardless, congratulations to Katalina. She gets to go on to the State competition in February, and I got myself a couple free coffees from Kaladi Brothers for sitting at an Elementary school for a couple hours having a blast. Seems like a fair trade to me.

Christmas is coming early this year!

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Lots of cool things today that I am quite excited about, so blog friends, I shall let you know what is up with me.

First off, I want to address my first actual Christmas present. This one is the gift I received from my friends at Showtime, Allison Weilbacher and John Stillson.

Benefits of the job!

I've developed a very good rapport with the Showtime reps who visit us, so in kind John and Allison responded with giving me Weeds season 3, Dexter season 2 (finale is this Sunday and I already have it on DVD...suckers!), and Californication season 1 on DVD. Very excited about the gift and I am truly thankful I've met such cool people through my work in just my first year. Thanks Showtime!

Second off, I have to get into the thick of the rumor mill and spread more unabashed gossip. With the movie Juno in full buzz mode and actors extraordinaire Jason Bateman and Michael Cera both making the rounds for it, of course Arrested Development discussion would take place. Apparently from the way those two and creator Mitchell Hurwitz have been talking, the idea of an AD movie is growing and growing. Let me just say this: I think this is the best idea ever. When it was cancelled, it was an extremely sad day, but they can a long ways towards making up for it by making this movie. Who wouldn't love to see the Bluth family again? Plus, imagine the boatloads of A-list cameos they could pull in? This would be an amazing Christmas present.

Moving on from there, my other extremely exciting news. Apparently a writer from Newsweek came across my blog and very much enjoyed what I had to say about w00t and its ascension from generic gamer term to word of the year status, and I may speak with her further about it for a piece. Not saying you will see my face in a Newsweek article or anything, but the absolute coolness of the fact that a writer from such an esteemed newsmagazine could have liked anything I wrote had to be shared. Also, I must admit, I hope I say something remotely cool while talking with her, because being in a Newsweek article would be a heck of a step up over being quoted on the front page of the Lewiston Morning Tribune. Update: I was too slow in response, she finished the piece before I even got a chance to comment. My 15 minutes of fame ended before I even got a chance to take advantage of them! The fickle nature of celebrity...

As an absolute spelling nazi, I have additional fun news to share about an event tomorrow: I get to judge a Spelling Bee! How amazing is that? I keep joking that I will have my revenge for the travesty that was the Hanshew Spelling Bee in 8th grade, but that could not be further from the truth. I've met a lot of the kids from Lake Hood Elementary, and I predict it to be a blast tomorrow. I will take pictures, and it has the added benefit of getting me out of my weekly Friday meeting! Now that is the type of gift that keeps on giving.

It's going to be a great Christmas season...I can feel it.

One quick link add on...as a cubicle warrior myself, I understand the Cube woes and how it gets tough to live in the drab confines of the makeshift office. Wired magazine has a great example of how you can change that to work for you. Very cool stuff.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007
w00t has been named the word of the year by the Merriam-Webster dictionary folk. w00t of course is a term used frequently by gamers to exclaim happiness, or being generally stoked at the time. I find the whole thing a bit strange, as that term is slightly old hat to me at this point. It's so old school, I don't even use it any more whatsoever. As Colver said, "I used that in '98/'99 while playing Team Fortress...does that make me old or really hip?"

It makes us so hip that we are post-hip. Which according my math, Colver and I right now will be cool finally in 2016, however by that point we will be different and once again...post-hip. I think it is just in our destiny to be harbingers of cool, or if you look at it from a different angle, perpetually misunderstood. For all you hipster folks out there looking for what will be hip and in when 2016 hits, come hang out with Colver and I. We'll make it happen for you.

I'm a Street Fighter in my Spare Time

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Want to know when you know that you should be sleeping more? When this conversation takes place.

Coworker: Oh my god, did you get in a fight?
Me: No. Why would you think that?! (Pours coffee)
Coworker: Why do you have a black eye then?!
Me: Oh my god.

Apparently the bags under my eyes now resemble black eyes. Congratulations life, you've now become busy enough to cause me to look like I belong to a fight club.

Well...about that plan

Sunday, December 9, 2007
So instead of blogging about things that I did not blog about yet I always wanted to (great sentence huh?), I decided I'm just going to say screw it and start where I'm at. No point in catching up on things that happened long ago (Beirut night, Porn Dinner) or major events (Thanksgiving, Alaska Club Christmas party) just because I missed out on writing about them. I'll give you the Cliff's Notes about what I haven't written about lately.
  • I've had a lot of fun in experiences
  • There has been enough of these experiences that I have not had time to write at all
  • My laziness is currently overpowering my desire to write about said experiences

The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the old adage states.

So instead of writing about the past month or so, I will keep it condensed to this weekend. What did I do this weekend?

Friday Night

Friday night was very, very eventful. As it was a Golden Compass Friday, I of course got off work slightly early and immediately went and saw the Golden Compass, a movie based off my favorite book series, and it was...mostly decent. It was disappointing in the fact that they changed things around a lot and rushed through pretty much everything, but I think overall they did a solid enough job capturing the spirit of the books.

Additionally, they did an absolutely incredible job casting. Dakota Blue Richards was perfect as Lyra, and she was the key component to making the movie work. If I had a far lesser actress and a more accurate storyline, I think I would have ended up more upset. Bottom line, Chris Weitz made an inferior film in deference to the damnable Catholic Church. Thanks a lot Chris!

Also, to the far more literal bottom line, it only made $26.2 million. Sure, that seems like a lot, but for a movie that cost somewhere north of $180 million dollars, it better have the longest legs ever or we are never going to see cinematic renditions of the Subtle Knife or the Amber Spyglass, which of course would be quite the shame.

Alright, enough about that. Afterwards, I went home and made a delicious Chicken Pita, absolutely loaded with grilled chicken, feta, hummus, avocado, tomatoes, and grilled onions. It was top notch, and the perfect ingredients to a couple of hours of unabashed rock godliness. My band Hey Hermano had their first full band practice, however we had Jason sub in for Brian, as he had other engagements to take care of. What did this mean for the band? It meant I had to transition into drumming from my usual of guitar and...I rocked! After a semi-shaky beginning, I started to pick it up big time, and we rocked for two straight hours of face melting goodness.

After that, myself, Nick, and Colver got together for the beginning of a Guys Night Out, which always seems a bit weirder than it is. Here is the long and the short of it. We partied hard. I danced a lot and acted a damn fool on the dance floor, on stage, around Platinum Jaxx, everywhere. It was a grand time, and a great end to the night. Well, truth be told, Denny's was a great end to the night, as nothing says "success!" about an evening than eating a Italian Chicken Melt at 3:45 am on a Friday night.


At the same time, nothing says "3:45 am Denny's run" more than waking up at 11:30 am the next day and feeling like I just got hit by a bus. Hooray partying!

With this day being shortened by the fact that I had to make sure I was home by 4:30 pm to start monitoring for the major pay-per-view event taking place Saturday evening (Mayweather vs. Hatton - boxing), it meant I had 5 hours to do whatever I possibly could in terms of usefulness to society, which I always try to do on hangover days so I don't feel so bad about wasting my day. So what did I do?

I went Christmas shopping.

Now any person from Anchorage knows that there is no place that is more useless during Christmas time than the Dimond Center. You can't get around. Can never find parking spots. Lines are epic, so you can never buy anything. Sure enough, what did I do?

I went to the Dimond Center.

I went down and met Amy, wielding a coffee for myself and her as we were both rather tired from the previous evenings events (mine alcohol related, her's illness related). What did I manage to get? A pair of shoes for myself of course! These shoes were not exactly like those (more orange) but vaguely similar to those other ones, and also far less expensive. Hooray sales!

After that, I bid Amy adieu and went home to catch the undercards to the fight, eat some delicious Mexico in Alaska salsa, and read Wired Magazine while waiting for the assembled Charbonneau's and Kim to come over to watch the fight. I invited Brian and his family (Mom, Dad, little Brother) over to watch the Mayweather/Hatton fight, and nothing about the evening disappointed.

We all had a grand time, partially because the fight absolutely rocked - both in terms of quality and in terms of pure spectacle (British fans = amazingly awesome) - and because the Charbonneau's brought over Moose's Tooth pizza and two growlers from Moose's Tooth as well. We all had a great time providing running commentary towards everything that happened on the screen, including some rather off color comments as made specifically by yours truly, Brian, and his Dad Terry. Great time!

Of course, afterwards we all took a run at Rock Band and it was super fun as well. Even better? Brian and I made a new goal. We are now going to try and beat a song playing all four instruments simultaneously between the two of us. We managed to get 31% through one song, so we know it's possible!

After that, Kim stayed and we watched Transformers, or rather, I fell asleep during the movie and she departed after I made my way to Slumberland. Sorry Kim!


Well, this day started far earlier. My internal alarm clock woke me up off the couch at exactly 8:37 am, as it knew it was time to check the early inactives for the day's football games. I was A-OK, as all of my potentially out players ended up playing (although I wish I played Anthony Gonzalez instead of Chris Henry...that would have been nice). Great day for Fantasy, as both my CBS teams look like they will win and I put up the most points in my points league. Booyah!

What else happened?

The Patriots beat the Steelers! After two straight mediocre performances and lots of anti-hype, my undefeated season dreams were still alive, but the fear of God (or rather, Willie Parker and the blitz happy Steelers D) was definitely there for the first time since the Colts game, or at least the first time actually going into the game. We moved to 13-0 after kicking the crap of the Steelers with our unstoppable passing attack and extremely timely defensive play.

Almost better than the win? The "guarantee" chant at the end of the game by the Pats fans, targeting second year Steeler secondary member Anthony Smith, who guaranteed a victory against the Pats. How do you like those apples Anthony? I'm guessing he's going to get a nice serving of the Steelers own humble pie this week.

So just three more games (including two gimmes against the Jets and Dolphins) before the Pats finish the season undefeated, or at least the regular season. I was thinking about getting a party together for the Pats game against the Giants, but my freakish aversion to jinxing my team (also known as unreasonable superstitions, of which I have many related to the Patriots) may keep the party small. Also known as, I will only invite people who have already seen me freak out during Pats games. But I may bake a cake saying "16-0" on it. After the game of course.

After that, I closed the weekend with a great workout, laundry, further catching up on my DVR (now I only have Oceans Thirteen, Journeyman, Dirty Sexy Money, and the 4400 to catch up on!), making an incredible batch of pasta, and catching the second to last episode of Dexter. Which is where I will end, because of my frustration.

Dexter has been unreal this season. Absolutely incredible season, and it has firmly entrenched itself as my third favorite show behind Battlestar Galactica and Lost. No less, I had a big part of the season finale ruined for me by Absolute Punk forum members who apparently downloaded a leaked copy of the season finale and have already watched it. Pure crap! Sucks totally, but now at least I am downloading it myself so I can watch it before any more damage is done. Moral of the story? Spoilers suck. Don't spoil things, otherwise spoiler karma will come around and bite you on the butt!

This is getting sad...

I can hardly believe this. My posts have grown so infrequent, that I am actually posting today to announce that I will making two other posts today (or I will try to...let's see how I feel after the Pats/Steelers game). First up, as you may know I keep falling behind on my blog, and I hate skipping things so I am going to say screw it once and for all. I am going to make another "previously on..." post later on to cover everything I've missed in the last while. And there is a lot to cover.

Later on after that, I will make another post actually getting to something new perhaps. Who knows? All I know is I would like to get on another regular rotation of posting, because I miss my dear old blog and definitely want to get back to that.

For now, here are some fun things that I've read about recently.
  • Facebook apparently may sell for as much as $15 billion dollars. Apparently Pirates vs. Ninja's and stalking people through the News Feed has a significant amount of value.
  • Child survives Moose attack by employing tactics learned from World of Warcraft. No mention of XP or fatty loots brought from victory.
  • Group of 40 Star Wars enthusiasts build an actual, functioning X-Wing fighter. No jokes here, just shocked by the coolness of this.
  • Sitting in Kaladi Brother's writing this. Currently playing Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! May not finish blog because overwhelming desire to rip ears off may overtake me.

As you can tell, I've apparently reading Wired magazine a lot. Coolest. Magazine. Ever.

Work work "work"

Friday, November 30, 2007
I've been working my butt off lately. Not actually working. Not running or exercising or anything. I've been working on a Christmas present that I came up with that my Mom and I should do for each other.

See we are both music nerds, so what we are doing is compiling a top 20 albums of 2007 CD for each other. Here is the concept and the rules below.
  • CD's must be from 2007 (duh)
  • List is to be top 20 CD's from 2007, not songs
  • Take favorite song from each CD
  • Must work within constraints of one CD
  • Work backwards, meaning song #1 is your 20th favorite, song #20 is favorite (kind of gives the CD a countdown show spice!)

While working at work I listen to new CD's and recommended CD's. While at the gym and driving I get more familiar with said albums by listening to them in a more isolated situation. Additionally, I listen at my computer to continue the wide range of set ups. Some albums play better in cars and in other situations, so I give them a fair shake from every direction.

It's very much fun, but because of the fair shake I'd like to give everything, I'm asking for any recommendations anyone has. That is if I have not asked you already. Anything! Every year I miss like 10 CD's that I really wish I checked out, and I'm trying to cut it down this year. So recommend people!

Evel Knievel dies at 69

Sadly enough, my costume inspiration and true all-American hero Evel Knievel passed away today at 69 years old. Strange post for me, but it was brought to my attention at work and is pretty sad news. MSNBC has a very solid write up about the man and his life here, and I'd recommend reading it. It's pretty inspiring to know someone never really held back in life, even if the things he did were somewhat legitimately crazy.

Literary Rush

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So continuing on my reading tear, I recently finished two Sci-Fi ish books that were very solid and quite spectacular respectively.

The former book was Cory Doctorow's (of blog extraordinare Boing Boing fame) Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It was a quality book which conceptually was a ten, but in actuality turned out to be more of an 8 or so. It was a story based in the somewhat distant future, a time when all disease, death, and poverty have been eradicated.

Quick aside about one of the concepts Doctorow created in this book. Value based economies of today have been replaced by a kind of merit based economy which is given the name Whuffie. This concept is probably the most interesting one found within the book, as it proposes the idea that what a person has and can get (not to mention overal appearance and apparent condition) is based entirely around this Whuffie. For example, if your Whuffie is low, it means respect for you is low, or even if you have a lot of it, it could be coming from sources that have low Whuffie in their own right, thus making it low also. If your Whuffie is low and you try and stay in a hotel, you would likely get a room that has a tiny bed and almost no space to relax in. If you have high Whuffie, you'll likely be staying in a suite of some sort. That's enough of that for now.

Anyways, the plot of the book follows the protagonist Julius as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his death, while trying to save his beloved Liberty Square rides in Disney World (now a veritable post-modern day Mecca for the Internet obsessed and the culturally preoccupied) from the evil Debra and her team of Ad-Hocs. These people may or may not be plotting to remove the old school charm from the rides and replace them with impersonal (yet intriguing and well liked) aspects, and may or may not have killed Julius to help them accomplish that. He is joined by his best friend Keep On Truckin' Dan and his girlfriend Lil in their attempt to save the honor of the Magic Kingdom.

It's a rather bizarre book that once again, is great conceptually, but falls short due to a couple of reasons: occasionally scattershot narrative and despicable characters. Julius is an amusing and definitely interesting protagonist, but due to where his character arc takes him, he is awfully hard to like. His girlfriend Lil and virtually everyone else in the story are also very hard to like, as they more often than not choose the opposite of what you the reader would typically want them to do. The one character who is seemingly redeemable (Dan) is dampened a bit by the fact that his primary arc is his attempt to get his Whuffie back up so he can kill himself while back on top. Odd stuff.

The narrative as I said is rather scattershot, with it being difficult to follow at times and dissipating entirely for occasional 2 to 3 page tangents which do very little to progress the storyline. They can be interesting details to the characters lives, especially our peek into Julius' previous marriage, but at the same time it did feel as if the time could be used more effectively.

Yet even with those downfalls, the book is a joy to read even with the bummer characters because they are very funny in their own self depricating way. Also, Doctorow pulls off some of the more bizarre concepts that I've read, including believably having characters smoke crack as a social drug, akin to alcohol or smoking today. This type of strange humor really make the pages fly by, even when the plot may be stalling. I'd say I recommend it, but with reservations. If you like your humor a little on the odd side and you dig interesting views of the future, this book is definitely for you.

The other book I just completed (and by just I mean just 3 hours ago) was John Scalzi's novel The Android's Dream. Sadly, I received this book the previous Christmas, and I just now finished it. It is truly sad that it took me that long to read it, as this was an excellent book. It juggled a wide variety of characters in an intricate plot involving interplanetary politics, revenge plots, religous zealots, a variety of Aliens, a new sentient race, and one really awesome former soldier/hacker and current "bearer of bad news" for Alien races.

I recently saw the movie Enchanted (excellent by the way) and noticed on its IMDB page that it had something like eight different genres listed for it. Dream manages to tie even more than that into one extremely entertaining and exhilirating novel. It was probably the fastest 400 page read I've ever experienced.

I would go into more detail about this one, but I'd prefer it if the readers of this page would just pick this one up at the library or your local bookseller to read on your own. It's definitely an experience I recommend for anyone, as it is very entertaining. If you do pick it up, try not be thrown off by the first two chapters. Just because they involve an assassination by way of gas (the type that comes from your insides instead of the type that comes from tanks and vials held by villains) does not mean the rest of the book will be like that whatsoever.

I have to admit, the entire time reading this book, I kept thinking "man, I bet this would make an awesome movie." I don't believe there are any plans to turn it into a film, but if any book has called for it, this one definitely would. I would say if it reminds me of anything, it reminds me of a more political and obviously based in the future James Bond novel as written by Douglas Adams. How does that not seem cool?

Turns out Mr. Scalzi writes a fairly entertaining blog as well, which is entitled Whatever. I recommend checking it out here. The Christmas post is very entertaining, and something I'm sure many people would understand.

Scalzi and Doctorow actually have ties to each other, and as you will possibly see Scalzi's second post directly quotes a post Doctorow made on Boing Boing, and he also thanked him in the front of Dream. I have an amazing ability to constantly read books that are similar to each other or seem to have ties to each other without really attempting to do this. It's uncanny.

Last bit here, up next I have A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, which is a story about how a young widow and father becomes the Angel of Death. This book comes with the Brian Charbonneau stamp of approval, and he claimed to laugh throughout it. I'm 40 pages in and have smiled a good amount, having been robbed of my ability to laugh by the dreaded Dentist. Damn you Dentist...damn you! No less, the saga continues. Cannot quit this reading addiction!

I Love the Smell of Commerce in the Morning

Saturday, November 24, 2007
Outside of Best Buy - 5:03 am, Black Friday

Pretty much everyone is well aware of what Black Friday is. To be exact, it is the day that most every retailer goes from being in the red to the black, meaning it's the day they officially start making money. It is also the day after Thanksgiving every year, and is the single biggest shopping day of the year.

My Mom and I go every year. It isn't necessarily that we go to actually purchase things - a lot of it just has to do with experiencing the event. It's really fun to watch people go absolutely insane over stuff. That's right, I'm calling it all stuff. Basically the day is the one day of the year where it is perfectly acceptable to act insane and blow money right and left with no thoughts towards budgeting or anything of that sort. Essentially, it's the commerce equivalent of Thanksgiving. One day a year you can go overboard, and the rest of the time you are attempting to make up for that one day.

I do buy things, don't get me wrong - I normally buy a few DVD's or go for whatever is free (last year I picked up Ahead Nero 10 for free, which is the best price ever), but some people are just driven insane by the savings. A few years back, I saw a man walk out with no less than 7 DVD players. I would really love to know what he is going to do with 7 DVD players. It's things like that...the insanity...that make people bewildered about this wondrous day. I occasionally sarcastically say "that is such a good deal, I think I'll buy it again" when I see a fantastically priced DVD or CD I already have. I say it jokingly, not actually intending to do this. But people do in fact do this.

Inside Best Buy - 5:10 am, Black Friday

I am also very entertained by the fact that this is in Alaska, where it is obviously going to be cold in late November, yet people stay out in front of stores for over 12 hours so they can get savings. I hope those savings are fantastic, because you'll need that money to pay for your treatments for frostbite. But anyways, enough complaining about people's insanity. I included three pictures of the massive lines. My niece Sophie came up to me and asked me what I was taking a picture of during the last picture, and I simply told her "I like taking pictures of crazy people." Amazingly enough a woman in the ridiculously huge line laughed and said "it's true." I thought that was a fun little anecdote, and at least it makes people realize that what they do is pretty crazy.

Inside Wal-Mart - 6:20 am, Black Friday

I ended up picking up Knocked Up, Crank, Season 10 of South Park, and Season One of Rescue Me for $40, which is way better than the probably $80 to $100 I would have spent otherwise. It was a solid day of shopping, and as per usual it was tremendously entertaining. I can't wait for next year, even though it will be more of the same. The best thing is, I think people just go to go at this point, not because any of the deals are really THAT spectacular or any of the products for sale are that fantastic. Maybe I missed something, but it was pretty light in the high end items from what I saw. Maybe next year will be different, but I think I'm counting on way too many maybes at this point. The only thing that isn't unsure is the fact that I will assuredly be there. Maybe that makes me crazy too...but maybe I'm OK with that.

Hey Hermano

I know this is getting repetitive at this point, but to be honest a lot of my free time has been given up to the pursuit of rock. Between trying to finish hard mode and work through expert mode in Guitar Hero 3, and the development of Alaskan supergroup Hey Hermano (currently Lacey on bass, myself on drums or guitar, and Amy on vocals), I've had very little non-music related free time lately. Not that I'm complaining, I just felt as if I should apologize to my blog readers...if there are any of you left now that I suck at writing. I'd promise that I would enter some sort of regular posting schedule again, but I'm not interested in lying to you.

Back to the point though, Hey Hermano rocks. Lacey is out of town, but Amy and myself are living the dream of being rock stars, with her carrying me through many a song on Hey Hermano's inagural World Tour. Also, for those that don't realize what I am talking about, I purchased myself Rock Band on the Xbox 360, a game that combines playing of a drum set controller (just like real drums), a guitar for bass or lead/rhythm guitar like in Guitar Hero, and karaoke style singing into the mic that comes with the game.

Lacey and Amy, striking rocker poses

It is ridiculous amounts of fun, and our band Hey Hermano was really starting to become pretty big, surpassing 100,000 fans worldwide without having left Europe, but we hit a cold patch and we are now back down to around 14,000 fans sadly. I blame myself, and Aerosmith. Mostly Aerosmith. They should have less solos. It makes it rather hard to beat their songs when everything is a freakish solo and it's 2 am. Apparently, regardless of how much coffee I drink, I am a tad sluggish on the guitar at that time.

Lacey and myself performing "I Think I'm Paranoid" by Garbage - I'm drumming and singing

Anyways, I can't recommend the game enough. It's amazing amounts of fun and I cannot see how anyone who plays could not get obsessed with it *couCOLVERgh*. Want to know the lengths of our obsession? Please add Hey Hermano on MySpace. We're going to become rock sensations. I'm looking forward to the first Rock Band night at a local bar so we can go and strut our stuff. We'll become the world's biggest entirely fraudulent band since Milli Vanilli, and you can do your part by adding us as a friend. If you're lucky, maybe we'll have merch up on there by Christmas, so you can buy your friends a nice shirt or perhaps autographed drumsticks by yours truly. Don't want to get you excited though, as it is only a possibility.

Melting faces is addicting

Sunday, November 18, 2007
I seriously have problems stopping playing Guitar Hero 3. It's so very addictive. This version of the game was in fact made by Neversoft (Tony Hawk series) instead of the traditional Harmonix (busily working on Rock Band...can't wait for that!), but you wouldn't know it from the quality of the game put out. It's pretty spectacular, has a great tracklist, and the songs are almost all very fun to play. They really knocked it out of the park on this one, especially with the addition of a Wireless controller for the 360 finally. It's pretty much the only video game I play any more. I don't know why it is so hard for me to get into games anymore, but so very addicting playing this one. Maybe because rocking out to Social Distortion and Weezer is just inherently awesome? Perhaps because feeling like a rowdy musician is something everyone really wants to feel? Who knows. I think people just really like to have fun.

This one has even affected others, as Colver and Lorna have it as well and both shred on a daily basis as well. Hilariously enough, Lorna is better than Colver. By a good amount. She's up to hard mode now as well. Who knew there was so much rock in such a little body?

I had a goal of beating Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce on Hard mode and in co-op with Brian, but I have now come to realize - it's going to be too easy. It's now been upgraded to beating it on expert on co-op. Pretty damn inspired if you ask me, as most recently we've only been able to get through 27% of it on Hard mode, but Brian and I have both improved quite a bit. We're going to tear through it before he goes back to the North Slope, I swear. I'm now going to shoot myself for promising in a public forum about beating Dragonforce on expert. That song is so hard on hard. Expert is ridiculous!

The point of this is, if a game that is predominantly a one player experience can be so addicting, how addictive is Rock Band going to be? Will my band just be meeting constantly? Are we going to have power struggles? Will someone develop a debilitating drug habit? Will anyone talk to the bassist? These are questions I openly ask. All I know is, it's all I want for Christmas and I cannot wait to form my band. Vomit in Your Milk will finally live (that's our band name...we're a Finnish metal band).

My apologies to the readership

Friday, November 16, 2007
I will post this weekend. That is my promise. I want to get back to a regularly scheduled broadcast, but I've had a number of things impeding my ability to do that. What are these things?
  • Guitar Hero 3
  • Ryan Atkins visiting
  • Legs healing so I can begin training for Marathon (shoot me!)
  • Joining a Dodgeball team
  • Finishing books
  • Catching up on comics
  • Cotto vs. Mosley
  • Beirut night
  • Night of crazy dancing (Actually, all of the last three were the same night)
  • Bad movie night
  • Porn dinner (Is actually weirder than it sounds)
  • Trivia night x 2 (duh)
  • Football
  • Aces games
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Ridiculous amounts of other TV (which I cannot catch up on for the life of me)
  • I work a little bit as well

Yep, so I've been pretty busy. Brian being back in town, Ryan Atkins visiting, and meeting new people have definitely been great, but it's led to incredible busyness and lots of fun. This weekend I'll go into the nitty gritty, and from there I will try to get back into the swing of things. Maybe I'll just give up sleeping? Who knows?! I'll find the time.

His Dark Secret

Sunday, November 4, 2007
Philip Pullman's collected trilogy of His Dark Materials

If you've met me, spoken to me, or read my blog for any length of time, you'll know probably one thing. I love Harry Potter. Well, that and I really like music. That and I'm a fan of duct tape. I tend to party a lot according to this thing as well. Ok, nevermind, if you read this, you know a number of things about me...not the least of which is I tend to go off on tangents. REGARDLESS. Harry Potter. Big fan. Loved the series, love the movies, sad it's over, would love it to go on forever.

I never really thought anything could take its position as numero uno book series. It just seemed unrealistic.

Yet I feel as if I liked Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series more. I know, hard to believe right? All I know, is it's been messing with me for days after I finished it. The characters are sticking with me deeply, as if the books never really end but stay in my thoughts perpetually after the last words have been read. It's funny that another pseudo-fantasy, youth lit series has captured my imagination so wholly, but hey, you love what you love. Some people read Les Miserables and War and Peace...I read kids books.

It really is quite amazing though. My mom and I were roaming around Barnes and Noble before we were going to see American Ganster (excellent...of course) and I kept yammering on and on about it, even finding a book that analyzes the series and purchasing it, until it led her to tell me that she hasn't seen me this excited about a book ever. It's true though. This has really stoked the flames of my reading spirit. I'm going to read again! Oh my! Could it be possible? David? Reading? I know. Very shocking. It's been a great inspiration, and if anyone who reads this could be so kind, please hook me up with any book recommendations you have. It doesn't have to fit my niche, just anything you've read ever or lately that you particularly are fond of. I also prefer series, as that is more my style.

Back to His Dark Materials though. Pullman's trilogy was received in a very favorable light. There are some dissenters who trash the third book and parts of the second, but the first book - called Northern Lights or the Golden Compass depending on region - is universally loved. I personally think the series grew and grew throughout the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass, with Pullman's descriptions and dialogue becoming more powerful and characters developing newfound richness with every turned page. There are just so many layers and so much beauty in the series, I found it to be utterly engrossing and a bit of an addiction.

Lately, some have ripped on it due to it's "anti-religion" standpoint though. I beg to differ on this concept though, as I read it as four different stories simultaneously - coming of age for protagonists Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, a giant fantastic war epic (using the term fantastic instead of fantasy because it has elements but would not be a true fantasy in my opinion), an allegorical tale that provides credence to alternative ways of thinking/religion, and a fourth bit that I will not go into detail due to certain people reading the series as we speak.

Now, to my point on the allegorical aspects of the book. I believe that the book isn't anti-organized religion. Well...it is, but it isn't at the same time. What Pullman does is provide readers with the idea that sometimes religion is not necessarily the right choice and is never the only choice. He provides an open mind and a fresh perspective on the concept. Sure, in interviews he has sort of vilified himself by ripping on C.S. Lewis and the blatant religious ties in his Narnia series, but this is no reason to tear down on this series. The depth of characters and the love you develop for these people (plus Bears! And Witches! And Mulefa! Oh my!) who inhabit his work has been unparalleled for me. The connection I feel to the series has, as I said before, reignited the flames of my desire to read actual books, and there is something to be said about that power.

I am in no way trying to get anyone to read this series. I really just wanted to say that I feel as if I owe Mr. Pullman some sort of debt for getting me this interested in reading again. Maybe it will take me to new heights with different books so I will start off another blog with "I never thought something could replace His Dark Materials." Who knows. All I do know is I'm excited about the prospect.

The Creation of Evel

Sunday, October 28, 2007
The Humble Beginnings...

I love Halloween. It's such an awesome time always, and a lot of the fun is in the fact that you a) get to wear a costume and b) get to make a costume. This year I had one key requirement - must include a cape. Well, and that I wanted to be the only person dressed up as whatever I dress up as. And sure enough, my idea - Evel Knievel - was an original. No one else dressed up as him for sure, and it was a total success. Before I get into the actual event of the Halloween celebration on the Party Bus, I will take you through the creation process.

In progress...

To start, the idea was crafted at Siam Cuisine over dinner with Amy, Lacey, and Hannah. We were discussing what I should dress up as and I announced the cape requirement, and somehow I just sporadically came up with Evel Knievel. Second off, the design was brought together over lunch at Moose's Tooth with Kim and myself, where we decided that the majority of it should be duct tape. As you can see, what I am wearing is created out of two things - white jumpsuit and duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape.

The finished product minus one pair of goggles!

The hardest part by far was actually finding the jumpsuit, which I finally found this week (at the buzzer!). As soon as that came together, the hardest part became the arduous task of creating the cape and adding stars. Thankfully, I had a wonderful team to assist me in making this glorious costume come together.

Creator #1 - Kimberly!

I'd like to thank Kim for helping with the conceptualizing and application of our concepts. She made my belt buckle (which was totally sweet and totally lost last night) and pretty much was the idea factory.

Creator #2 - Amy!

Amy was the super awesome applyer of the first layer of tape. She helped me create all red and blue parts on the costume, and made my totally awesome cufflinks and collar. Booyah Amy!

Last but not least, my Mom and family friend Penny get bonus kudos for solving the riddle of the cape and for helping cut out 120,562,312 stars to put on my costume, which was INSANELY time consuming. But it looked great which is all that matters.

I'd like to say I had the best costume last night (besides maybe the guys that were dressed like Scorpion and Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat or maybe Iron Man), and if not the best, then I would like to say the most original. It was super sweet, and as a believer in the concept that Halloween can only be as good as the costume, then my Halloween was a complete success.

Even better, was the super cost effectiveness of the costume. While others were spending all kinds of cash on their costumes, my costume cost me the amount of money it takes to get a jumpsuit, a bunch of duct tape, and materials for a cape. Which is really not that much.

But yes, so there it is. There is my costume. I wish I had more pictures of the process, as it was actually kind of a lengthy one, but I sadly do not. Next year I will go more into detail, and I am already brewing up ideas for next year. I'm thinking theme, and Colver and I have already started discussing doing a team costume again, ala our Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video costume from a few years back. Ideas? Feel free to submit!

Random Post of the Day

Friday, October 26, 2007
I just think this is awesome. Today at work I have to work until 10 am, then I get to go to the Egan Center and play around all day for charity. I'm playing in a charity Texas Hold 'Em tournament, then I'm playing in a Guitar Hero tourney as well (GUITAR HERO 3 THIS WEEKEND! WOO). If that's work, then I'd like to work every day, all day. Also, because of said charitable event, I'm the only person in the office until 9 am, so I'm sitting here blaring Alkaline Trio, doing sales reports, and drinking some coffee. Not too bad.

Many updates coming soon, including Am I Buying a Car?, Creating the Perfect Costume, and Party Bus! Intrigued? Come back for more later people!

Trivia Champs once again

Friday, October 19, 2007
The Drunken Cowboys have prevailed for the fourth (fifth? I've forgotten how many times we've won) time. This time, it was a mixed bag team, with Lorna, Colver, Sean, Ben, Cole, and myself leading the charge, and Nick with Yume joining in later on. We overcame missing the first rounds final question (even though I myself suggested the correct answer) to storm back in the second and third and win on a cakewalk final question. Plus, there was a glorious comic book question that I knew very well. It was a very grand night.

The final question was rather difficult, as none of us REALLY knew it, but it was "What is the name of the movie that is playing at the Drive In Theater during the opening credits of the Flinstones?" and it was the Monster. We went democratic and did a vote, with The Monster winning 3-2-1. I did not vote for that, but I don't particularly care, because we won! Woo! $230 more dollars than we used to have. Booya! Go Drunken Cowboys!

One excellent point to make - we led going into every final question. That's consistency baby. That's what that is right there.

Ho Hum

Sunday, October 14, 2007
Oh Tom...you're so dreamy...

So today my boys the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys faced off at Texas Stadium in Dallas, and it was a battle of two of the three remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL. It was...not close. The Patriots murdered the Cowboys souls, beating them 48-27 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. Tom Brady threw for 5 TD's (currently on pace to have the single greatest season for any QB ever), Wes Welker received for two, and it was just another day at the office for the Pats. They are the best team I've ever seen. I've been watching Football for most of my life, and a Pats fan since 1993-ish, and this is by far the best Pats team I've seen, including any of the three Super Bowl championship years.

Some who read this know that when I watch the Patriots I am normally what could be described as an emotional wreck. I don't even get nervous anymore.

I sort of feel bad for the rest of the NFL, because the Patriots are seemingly untouchable. But at the same time, I don't care, because this rocks. Go Pats!

Bling Bling

Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thom Yorke from Radiohead with his new stunner shades

Radiohead's In Rainbows has performed rather well since its release to the public through their website. Here are the numbers.
  • 1.2 million downloads
  • Average of $8 paid per download
  • 1 in 3 people estimated to have paid nothing
  • At least one user paid $1,000 for the album

This means the Radiohead has pocketed $9.6 million so far for the album, roughly of course. That's a mighty fine performance for those British blokes. As shared by my good friend Sheri, bands such as Oasis, Jamiroquai, and the Charlatans have committed to releasing albums in the same way. Welcome to the future of the music business folks.

In Rainbows

Thursday, October 11, 2007

As many of you have likely heard (considering it has made most every form of news, from every blog in the world to the Anchorage Daily News), Radiohead released a new album yesterday. Typically, this would be a big deal for music aficionados as the band is simply one of the best out there, and even those who are not big fans of their music likely respect them for their clear talent and their longevity. However, what makes this a far larger (the word epic has been bandied about, and god knows people don't use that lightly) happening than a simple album release is the distribution method.

This album was only released online.

It was only announced 10 days before its release.

You can pay whatever you want for the album.

Also, when I say whatever you want, I mean literally whatever you want. I love the band, but I am also cheap. Apparently my cheap side overcame the love side, and I paid $0.00.

For a band that is well known for making rather bold statements (ask them about Bush's Presidency - I dare you), this may have been their boldest. From a Marketing and Distribution standpoint, this single move may have revolutionized the music industry. Some would argue this type of movement of music is the future. The band is without a label, they released it entirely on their own through their own site, and they did not go out and interview about the album or hype it or anything. They simply announced it and let the hype grow organically. Or as organically as something on the Internet can grow.

The point is, this single album could force the changing of the tides from CD to digital music once and for all. A band like Radiohead doing this proves the viability of this type of venture, but only if it is a success. Which by every indication so far, it is. Now you are probably wondering, why would a band willingly take money out of their pockets by doing something like this? Well, they did not take a whole lot out, as removing the record label from the equation means that all money earned from sales of their album is in fact earned. Instead of taking in something like 10 cents on every dollar, they are earning a dollar on every dollar. Even if half of every "purchaser" pays nothing, they will likely still be earning five times as much as they would with a label.

Outside of that, the ability to pick up the album for free could easily create a new generation of Radiohead fans, catapulting the band to even higher stratospheres of popularity than before, allowing them to build on their already high revenue on merchandise and ticket sales.

I'm sure this move terrifies record label executives, as it could easily be a change of direction to a new future for the entire industry. Already, Trent Reznor (aka Nine Inch Nails for all intents and purposes) has abandoned his label, citing the need to get away from the current form of the music label. Will he do the same thing that Radiohead did? I would not be the least bit surprised, nor would I be surprised if he wasn't the first of many.

So that is enough of that, everyone knows the current issues with rapidly decreasing CD market and the increase in alternative distribution. This just happens to be an extreme case that happened with a far more high visibility band.

The main question now that the album has been released and the hype has subsided a bit is...is it any good?

Well, it isn't going to reinvent the wheel. If you like Radiohead, you'll like the album. This is their 7th full length album, if you didn't like any of the other albums, you probably will not change with this one. It is a very good Radiohead album, and I would probably put it as my fourth favorite after about 5 listens, behind OK Computer, Amnesiac, and Kid A, but ahead of Pablo Honey, Hail to the Thief, and the Bends. It is a very relaxing album, and sort of feels like an amalgam of every album they've made (besides Hail). Each of their albums had very individualistic feels, and this one is the first one that feels as if it smashes it all together into a big Radiohead album. It has raw instrumentation, electronic effects, distortion, ambient vocals. Yep. It's a Radiohead album.

It is by no means a fun album, nor is it exactly radio or driving music. But if you are the type of person who listens to music while studying, reading, or surfing the Internet, this is a great zone out album to put your cares away to. Especially the track "House of Cards." That is a particularly good one. Although someone else needs to listen to "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" and tell me why that reminds me so much of "Hotel California." Why does it sound so much like it?!

Anyways, this was a very random posting by me, I just find the idea of Radiohead releasing a free album online that is actually very good to be extremely cool. Check it out. Why not? It's free, and that is a price no one can deny. Or pay money, so I can feel a bit better about the fact I paid nothing. Either way, get on that!

An admission

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

This is a terrible thing to admit. I like to think I am intelligent person. I really do. I have no real reason to not think this, as I know a lot of things, know how to do many others, and know more useless things than many people know in their entire knowledge base (yes, I do think I am hot stuff...deal with it my gracious readership). But there is one thing that is strange for me, more than anything.

I love kids books.

See, intelligent people are supposed to read the classics and thought provoking fair. Why read Harry Potter when you can dive into something like War and Peace? Who cares about the Golden Compass when you could read the sumptuous verses of Ulysses?

Well the reason I read those books is because I get a ridiculous amount of enjoyment out of them.

For example, I just finished reading the Golden Compass (or its original title - Northern Lights), the first book out of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. It was a wonderful young adults fantasy about a young girl named Lyra whose fate was to save the world, but one of the keys was her to not know about it along the way, all the while being led by a Golden Compass called an Alethiometer. It takes her from Oxford, to London, all the way north to fictional iced over worlds called Bolvangar, Trellusland, and Svalbard. It has a wonderful cast of characters that help her, terrible villains, and brilliant ideas all along the way. The sad thing is it has probably been classified as a children's book by your average book reader and/or adult, when truth be told the sheer escapism and the wonderful characterization and adventurous plot should be seen more often in today's world.

In today's world full of televised despair and instantenous updates on insurgent bombings, who really needs a glum book about depression anyways? I don't! I'd rather read about the Panserbjorn, the warrior bears of the North. Or about Lee Scoresby, the Texan aeronaut who helps Lyra along the way. This is why I in no way feel badly about my love of these types of books. I just get so much enjoyment out of them, how could anyone that is wrong.

With all that said, regardless of your age, I fully recommend reading this series. I'm currently on the second book and it is similarly wonderful. The first book however, I can fully attest for and it is absolutely riveting and alternately joyous, adventurous, and tragic. It is every bit as good as the Harry Potter series (oh my god, what did I just say...did I really just say that?!) but with not nearly the hype behind it. Sorry...I have to compose myself, I can't believe I just said that I liked that book as much as the Harry Potter books. Take a deep breath...take a deep breath. Ok. Better.

Also, the movie of the Golden Compass is coming out December 7th, as directed by Chris Weitz and starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra (and she best by top notch because Lyra is the backbone and heart of the story). The new trailer came out, and I can already tell that they changed the plot around a good bit, but that is OK. It's like with the Harry Potter series - when you have a longish book that you have to convert into a movie, things need to change around and certain characters need to disappear to really fit the outline.

I cannot in good judgement say that this does not look awesome anyways. I am ridiculously excited to finish the book series, and I want the movie to come out, become a huge success, and then the next two movies to come out as well. Is that so much to ask? Now get reading and make sure to watch come December 7th. If not for you, but for me. I am but a simple man who loves children's books and the films that are adapted from them. Is that so weird?

Also, I have included the third and final trailer for the film. Enjoy! It's a pretty one!


Sunday, October 7, 2007
I've been wanting to write about this for a little while, as I find this to be pretty amusing, but it is also one of my entirely useless blogs that has nothing to do with anything besides a useless thought I had. So here goes.

I find the word "so" to be the world's most amusing word. Why is this? A little while back, I was talking with someone, and then there was silence, and then the person transitioned back into speaking by saying "so..." (periods of ellipsis meaning a pause) and then they asked a harmless question. So let me correct myself already, I don't find "so" to be particularly funny. It has to be followed by a pause, and then a question. Whenever someone says the word "so" followed by a pause it means they pretty much have nothing left to talk about and are filling the gap from there. Here's an example...

Me: Yeah, so I've been doing really well at my job. It's pretty boring, but you know, whattaya gonna do?
Other person: Yeah. I feel the same way.
(awkard pause)
(awkward pause...both people look around for someone more interesting)
(awkward pause...look at cel phone, as if willing it to call)
Other person: So...what are you doing this weekend?

It's very terrible of me, but I always find myself laughing a little to myself about this. Of course this also ties into the default question when you have no questions left and are a young person. It could be Monday morning at 8 am, and someone will still ask you what you are doing this upcoming weekend if they have nothing else to say. But that is another topic for another time.

You probably haven't noticed it before, I hadn't before that first time, but after I had I started noticing it constantly. It's kind of like when someone you know just got a new car (let's say an Expedition that is blue) and before then you had never seen them around and all of a sudden they are everywhere! It's exactly like that - you will notice every one on one situation will likely have one of these little sections.

Perhaps it is just me, as I have found myself to be strangely terrible about dealing with one on one situations. The funny thing is, I generally find myself to be a very good conversationalist. This is another example of my all or nothing nature. If I'm talking with someone one on one, I could either go for hours and be charming and funny, or I can have nothing to say and be insanely shy. Thus, I inspire more "so..." situations than the average person, but I think everyone has to deal with it.

I think if there is one thing I could improve on (although there are of course many things I wish I could improve on) it would probably be to become a more consistent person. I'm essentially the Richie Sexson of social situations. Sure I hit .205 and have 90 hits in a season, but you know that probably a third of my htis are going to be home runs!

Back to the original point - pay attention in one on one situations. Is this just something I inspire, or is "so..." an epidemic? I'd like to think it is the latter, but you never know with people. It's like Jimmy Morrison says...people are strange. He definitely hit the nail on the head with that one.

Television: An FDA approved drug

First off, before I start my first official post vacation blog, here is a link to my video I took of Spoon performing Back to the Life at the Crystal Ballroom at Musicfest NW. Additionally, this will get you to the rest of my videos I took from Bumbershoot and Musicfest NW, although there are only about 7 total. Plus, due to the fact that I was taking this video on a tiny digital camera and that Google Video nukes the resolution of uploaded videos, they may be more on the not so good side. However, do check them out, as I sacrificed my body and potential well being to take those videos so they should be respected at the very least.

Now enough with that. As some of you may know, I have become an addict to television to a certain degree. I essentially craft my evenings around what TV shows are playing that night at this point, and generally believe that Television is producing far better overall product than movies at this point. It's not that there is something that TV is inherently doing better than movies, it's just due to the wide scope of possibilities that the medium provides writers - the scope simply allows them to take the shows to greater lengths than movie screenwriters can possibly do.

Example: Let's say you compare Mark Verheiden (a chief writer for my favorite show Battlestar Galactica) and someone like William Monahan (Academy Award winner for Adapted Screenplay for the Departed). Is Verheiden a better writer because I prefer Battlestar to the Departed? No, of course not. But because Monahan has to deal with the constraints of movies (namely the fact that they typically must be around 2 hours or they will be cut to smithereens so the general populus can handle them) while Verheiden deals with a serialized television show, one that is going onto its' 4th season and its approximately 40th hour of existence. Given the sheer amount of exposure to the characters and overall storyline, Monahan simply has no chance to compete against the medium of television for my love. Hence, why TV rocks my socks these days - Serials have developed to become the name of the game for TV anymore, many rooted in genre origins (Genre in this case meaning Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Space, etc.), which many of you will also know is right up my alley.

Another reason for TV overcoming movies in my opinion, besides the change in focus of TV shows topics and the overall improvement in writing, is the sheer fact that it is simply producing better shows than it ever has before. Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Veronica Mars, the Office, 30 Rock, etc. fit firmly into some of the best shows ever debate in my opinion. That doesn't even include the multitudes of high quality shows that do not necessarily fit in there quite yet and all of the others that are extremely well loved that I do not watch (like the Wire and Friday Night Lights). Even with long time powerhouse the Sopranos going away, the level of content being put out on a week to week basis by the industry is astounding.

The point I was trying to make (and feel as if I may have successfully done at this point) is that I really like TV. It sort of rocks. Another thing that rocks is we are just passing pilot season, with some shows already on their way to cancellation and other shows on their way to maybe joining the Mount Rushmore of Television shows. How do you tell one from the other? What should you be watching as a budding television watcher in your own right? Well here are my three can't miss recommendations, although odds are you are already watching them if you are a big time TV viewer.

Best new show of the Fall: Pushing Daisies

Wait...you're kidding me. My favorite new show of the Fall is Pushing Daisies? How can this be? A show that was created by TV god Bryan Fuller (creator of other awesome shows Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me and former writer for Heroes)...that stars brother extraordinare from Wonderfalls Lee Pace, the cute as a button Anna Friel, the charming and amusing Chi McBride, bizarrely awesome Swoosie Kurtz, and the voice of Harry Potter books Jim Dale...that had its "Pie-lette" directed by movie man Barry Sonnenfield (of Men in Black fame)...AND is ridiculously quirky (always a big plus in my book)...is my favorite new show? I can't believe it! Shocker of all shockers.

With all that said, I've only seen one episode so far so this could change of course, not to mention the fact that I really honestly liked this and the second place show as much as each other, but the overall production value of Pushing Daisies and the somewhat repetitive feel after two episodes of the second place finisher put Daisies over the top. Possibly more exciting than the fact that it is most excellent? It did great in the ratings, far contrary to Fuller's traditional "success" with TV. He normally has his shows cancelled fairly fast, but this one may be built to last.

Number two with a bullet: Reaper

What does the bullet represent in this case? The bullet represents the fact that at any given week it may ascend past Pushing Daisies as the best new show of the season. Reaper through two episodes has been remarkably amusing, displaying sharp wit, tons of quirk (gotta have it!), amazing rapport amongst the cast, and the always great sight of Spanish from Old School in a primary role. Who doesn't love Spanish?

The show stars Bret Harrison as Sam, a normal slacker type guy who after his 21st birthday has to become a bounty hunter for Hell because his parents sold the soul of their first born to the Devil. Sounds pretty bizarre right? It very much is, and it is extremely funny mainly due to the awesome Ray Wise as Satan himself and the rapport between Sam and his best friend "Sock" (Tyler Labine). The main concern with the show as of right now is the fact that it has had two episodes so far that have had very similar structures and plots. Sam finds out about new escaped soul. Sam grows concerned over his ability to do the job. Sam confronts concerns and takes down the escaped soul. Profit. Lather, rinse, repeat. Not a big deal so far, as it is early, but if they keep up the structure repetitiveness, it could greatly harm the show in the long run.

Regardless of the repetition, it still has been great fun to this point and I fully recommend it.

Third best new show of the season: Chuck

As my friend Kim pointed out, Chuck and Reaper are remarkably similar shows. Both are about a slacker in his early twenties who is working a nowhere job when something comes out of nowhere to take his life in a drastically different direction. Both star pseudo outcasts who have ridiculously cute girls in their lives. Both have sidekicks who fit the necessary comic relief niche. Both have scary men in their lives (one only because of reputation - Satan - the other because he's hulking and violent - the always awesome Adam Baldwin).

Sure they are similar, but this tech support guy turned secret agent show does not suffer for it. It succeeds both in its putting of Chuck himself into dangerous situations, but also in its taking two traditional hardcases and putting them into decidedly low key jobs. Putting people in fish out of water situations is perpetually amusing, but having two cases of it in the show leads to extra hilarity.

The cast is extremely able, with Zachary Levi being a great lead (who claims to be a big dork himself, being a big gamer and comic guy - can I get a hell yes?), Baldwin as the amusing hardcase NSA guy, and Yvonne Strzechowski pulling off the uncommon feat of being gorgeous, funny, and believably badass (but seriously, have a more intense name - I dare you). Paired up with Heroes, this show will certainly succeed ratings wise (or it better at least), and it deserves it as well. It's a fine show, and I am looking forward to the exploits of Chuck and his friends for the remainder of the season.

So those are my favorite shows of the newbies. What else am I currently watching from the new crop? Of all the new shows, I am currently watching Dirty Sexy Money, Journeyman, and Bionic Woman. Dirty Sexy Money is the best of the three, with Peter Krause leading a fantastic cast, while Journeyman so far has been good with potential for greatness and Bionic Woman has been...kind of boring. It definitely has potential, so I figure I'll give it 4 or 5 episodes before calling it quits, plus it gets a grace period because it was created by Battlestar exec-producer David Eick and frequently features appearances by Bstar folks like Katee Sackhoff and Aaron Douglas (Starbuck and Chief Tyrol respectively).

This is where it gets really sad, as I will list what I am currently watching and you can see how much my life is owned by TV.

Sunday: Dexter
Monday: Prison Break, Chuck, Heroes, Journeyman.
Tuesday: Reaper (coming in February is Lost)
Wednesday: Pushing Daisies, Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money.
Thursday: My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, the Office, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (x2) (Scrubs coming...someday).

Yeah, so it owns my life, but that's cool. That's why DVR's were invented...so I can have something to do in between conference calls on Saturday. Hurrah!