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24Nov2009 1830: Him in the Stomach

Hey all, posting early as tomorrow I will be busy not learning from history. Every year the trip to and from my parents' house freaks Edmond right the fuck out, yet every year I think it's a good idea to haul him along. I also didn't follow through on my idea to get some kitty dramamine from the vet, so it looks like another year with...lessee...90 minutes * 60 seconds in a minute * 1 meow per second * 2 trips = 10800 annoying meows in an enclosed space.

Aside from that Thanksgiving is always a blast, with long days full of good food and communal XBox and cat fights. Everybody enjoy your Gluttonalia!

Assassin's Creed 2 is amazing, by the way. It is fantastic being in a historical Italian setting, and the dev team definitely had more time to work on their humor (both in-game and meta), but I think the most important thing about the game is that I'm having fun not stabbing dudes. I know! I couldn't believe it either! But there are so many tools at your disposal to settle things with subterfuge, between the improved crowd-blending and the coin toss and the hooker shields, that it's not even necessary to kill the guards of a palazzo. I've been playing low-key and scouring Florence for treasure chests. In three hours yesterday, I think I stabbed maybe two dudes. Maybe. And then I spent fifteen minutes with an ASCII table open on my laptop. You'll see.

[Little Dragon - Swimming] is a minimal electronic love song that'll get your head bobbing buts stops short of making toes tap. And what is with electronica and constantly-morphing freehand drawings? I seem to recall the Of Montreal video from earlier did that, and I vaguely remember one in between as well. And "vaguely remember" is all this video is going to get from me because it just went into an annoying synth breakdown right at the end.

Oh good. Reggae. [Fidel Nadal - International Love] is straight-up reggae and the Spanish Song of the Week, which means I delete it and zero the bits. I listened to the whole thing in case it became a moog-backed love letter to River City Ransom (popular music has failed me thus far), but alas! it did not.

[Maurizio Pollini - Das Wohltemperierte Klavier: Book 1, BWV 846-869: Prelude in C Major] has a title which dares me to type it in full. It's also a very very quiet piano piece that sounds much like any other quiet classical piano piece to my ears. Pretty, and a mercy at only a minute-fifty, but it's not from a grandmaster composer so it's not something to keep as a well-stocked library.

[Royce da 5'9" - Something 2 Ride 2] he trying to release a summer cruising song in November? Maybe that flies out on whatever coast you claim, but where I live it's tonally more of a Bush/Alice in Chains season. Clear skies but just cold enough to keep your windows up. That aside, I'd still pick old Warren G or this old iTunes single over Royce. At least [Deux Process - In Deux Time] spells out their numerals...unnecessarily.

18Nov2009 1805: Clonus and Colossus

Finally, Netflix sent me Clonus, which can also be called "Parts: The Clonus Horror", which my brain further mangled into "Colossus: The Forbin Project", which actually wasn't that bad a movie. It did that thing the 60s and 70s did, where the entire movie would fit neatly into the prologue of a 2000s movie. If you wanted to update this film -- and in this paragraph "you" actually means "McG" -- you would drop 90% of the secondary characters and 97% of the martinis. Where the first film ends, your hero would start running from explosions. Where the first film has two or three fully realized sets and a bunch of stock footage, you would film on location in Bangladesh for the pivotal nuclear exchange. Where the first film was all tension and threats and negotiations, your film would have a pivotal nuclear exchange.

But enough about McG. Now that I have Clonus I can finally finish my research and watch The Island the way that it was intended: nearly free.

Oh boy and after Clonus I have my copy of Stabbing Bitches 2: The Reshankening, which is getting positive press everywhere and it will be glorious. I predict that it will be the no-Internets-on-Thanksgiving game this year, which Assassin's Creed was two years ago, so I hope the experience is as powerful on a 20" standard def TV.

This game has some feature I'd never heard of called UPlay. I said feature but that may be a little generous; it's another attempt by a company to harvest the email addresses of their customers in exchange for trinkets. In this case I believe the trinkets are sufficient for me: in SB2 they are offering alternate costumes and maps. In the dusty old days of disconnected game consoles, such things would be unlocked via skill challenges in the game itself, like stabbing 1000 dudes. Then came XBox Live, with its idea of points dependant on gameplay but disconnected from gameplay rewards. Then came XBox Live's idea of associating achievements with rewards that are not in a game. This is the final step, bending achievements back around into gameplay rewards, but with a loop through some corporate behemoth's network. Video games -- no, strike that, video game companies are currently flailing around looking to cash in on social networking, hence UPlay and the auto-tweeting of Uncharted 2 (dramatization). Abstract numbers exchanged for virtual rewards is okay, but I think I would have preferred the tweets.

I've kept a crockpot full of apple cider for most of a week, reheating and refilling it nightly, and it seemed like a great idea until five minutes ago. That's when it hit me that this is probably a bacterial abomination. But so tasty!

[Raekwon - House of Flying Daggers] was a pretty good kung fu movie, but as a Wu-Tang cartoon short it is lacking. I never did like their style of sampling and group-rapping, so if you do you might want to see this. Ultra-violent infra-animated ninja mayhem.

[Rihanna - Rater R Revealed] is something new for me to avoid. This is billed as "album preview", and I'm not sure if this is a one-off thing to help launch the album or a symptom of iTunes proprietary album format. If Apple is going to start posting these things every week I'll have to navigate around 11-minute song mimics in addition to TV episodes. As for this file, Rihanna comes on and says thirty seconds of crap I don't care about to lead into about a minute of pop music I don't care about. DISASTER.

[Danyew - Wake Up] is quiet electronic pop, and given my predilection for Postal Service (and now Owl City) I can't really fault it. It just didn't do anything really interesting, and it feels odd to say this but the guy's voice wasn't robotic enough. I'll take a song sung robo voce if it has a destination in mind, perhaps a gaudy apartment complex, but Wake Up spends all its time circling around a theme.

[Andres Cepeda - Dia Tras Dia]. Yeah, but I could turn on any contemporary station and hear a song like this in English, dude. Right after they're done playing Rihanna. I can't pin down a perfect sonic comparison, but extremely slow rock love songs aren't exactly rare.

[Steel Panther - Death to All But Metal] is the radio edit, which is probably not a good way to wish death upon your enemies. I'm going to go ahead and peg this as satire without knowing anything about it or doing any further research. Their edited words are replaced with sound effects and their un-edited words are quite clearly a joke. Is this for a movie?

11Nov2009 1800: Dollhouse

Surprise surprise Joss Whedon's worst show is cancelled. We all saw this coming a year ago; when you have twice the chance of Firefly and can't muster as many decent episodes then you have a problem. Granted, the great episodes are really really great, but the downtime between them was pretty bad. And to be extra mean, I will note that the two best episodes -- the unaired Epitaph One and the episode aired just before FOX co-opted the timeslot for November sweeps -- feature Eliza Dushka almost not at all. Perhaps it is unwise to premise your entire show on her acting ability, hm?

I sound angry but I love you anyway, Joss. You just need to make some better (read: non-FOX) decisions. Are you absolutely sure that the CW wouldn't take you? They're doing very well with their Smallville, maybe they'd buy some Wonder Woman scripts?

Tonight's Netflix is Death Note: L: Change the World: Colons, a live-action sequel to the live-action adaptation of an anime of a manga where -- I may be remembering this wrong -- the titular character L actually dies long before the end of the series. I guess what I'm saying is that I expect great things from this movie.

[Halestorm - Love/Hate Heartbreak] begins with ominous shots of a garden and a puppy and a goldfish and metal? Wow. They hit all the high points of the genre with their band-in-a-garage video setup: headbanging with long hair, (natural) lens flare, a (very short) guitar solo. This is all a backdrop for some of the most incredibly banal lyrics I've ever heard, rhymes you've heard dozens of times before.

[Los Odio - Pelos en el Mouse] is marked Explicit, as if I would know. It's a Spanish Clash, basically. Any sort of early 80s punk you hear on the classic radio stations would fit here. Speaking of, over the weekend I heard [Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under the Bridge] on a classic rock station and I hate all you whippersnappers with your mp4s and your Zunes :(

[Harmonica Shah - I Wonder Why?] is not Iranian blues, which is too bad because I'm sure burqa has a bunch of great rhymes. But it is blues, and the blues always has a home on my playlist. I will say that he does sound more comfortable on the harmonica than he does singing.

[Serabee - Driving Me Stupid] is a latinized pop song with some country-nasal backing vocals, a curious mixture that repels me 30% more than simply summing the individual components would imply.

04Nov2009 1830: Still Borderlands

What are you doing here? Why aren't you playing Borderlands? Every second spent reading this is a second you're not shooting bandits with inexplicably spiraling bullets that ricochet off walls. And for that matter, why am I not playing Borderlands like I've done for the past week straight, neglecting housework and sleep in favor of shooty lootz?

I can actually answer that last one; we should be done with the rhetorical questions now. I'm here because I'm delaying the next portion of the evening as long as possible. The only thing -- and trust me I feel dirty typing it out loud like this -- the only thing that can pull me away from the lure of Borderlands is the arrival of Wolverine.

Fortunately iTunes is here to assist my delay:

[Ke$ha - TiK ToK]'s inappropriate symbols and capitalization allowed me to brace myself for something terrible, and Kedollarha delivered in spades. I will admit to a sick fascination with the blingcycle, but the lyrics and music and's just all so bad. And Kachingha never seemed sincerely interested in "blowing [her] speakers up" or "brushing [her] teeth with Jack". I advise watching for exactly 65 seconds, at which point you'll have seen the blingcycle and heard all the song has to offer. It's like Disney stepped in with one of their divabots to try and grab a corner of the crunk movement, fucking up the tone while actually having a tiny white girl use the word "crunk".

[Ivan - Mi Fantasia] opens quite well. Is this slow ska? A Spanish Talking Heads? More of the former, it turns out. Heavy bass, horn hits, (probably) amorous lyrics. The only thing that doesn't fit is the little piano solo in the middle.

[Serena Ryder - All for Love] hearkens back to the mid-90s, when stuff like k.d. lang and Meredith Brooks and Sarah McLachlan dominated radio stations. The vocals tend towards country here, but the guitars are all of the non-steel variety and it's a solid enough pop-rock tune.

[Steel Magnolias - Keep On Lovin' You] completes this week's slow journey into country. Hey look it's a twangy love duet; why can't country be a little more Johnny Cash and a little less Olivia Newton John?