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30Dec2009 1900: The Spirit of the Season

Everybody have a merry Christmas? Ok, good. I had some problems with Amazon, so my Christmas season is ongoing. They have a very friendly return/exchange policy, but I had to use it twice, separately, and then re-place some orders to get everything smoothed out.

New Super Mario Bros Wii is good when I play it, but it's fantastic with four people. This is the future, folks. Every Mario game from here on out will be ranked on how easy it is for three of your "friends" to ruin every single jump you try to make.

In actual single-player news, I'm not too far in to Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks but it has already proven its worth. There are some great meta moments, especially when Zelda comments on her "family tradition", but really the game is about the childlike glee you get from physically yanking the chain for your magic locomotive's steam whistle. WHOO WHOOOOOOOO. Supposedly it's there to scare enemies away and get cows off the tracks. I couldn't tell you if that's true, I'm too busy making an ass of myself all across Hyrule WHOO WHOOOOOO.

It appears we're on the other side of the iTunes Holiday Season. There's three new songs (no video?) and nary an ornament in sight. [Bachata Heightz - Me Puedo Matar] is more than likely a boy band, which is weird because I would have sworn it was a girl group if I hadn't seen the album cover. The five tenors take a slow Latin trip through what is probably a generic love song.

[Nikki & Rich - Next Best Thing] had me expecting some sort of country collaboration featuring one half of Big & Rich, but this is actually some sort of Motownish I-hate-my-ex-boyfriend number. Minimalist piano and drums, with Nikki jiving about how she left you and you suck. It's pretty good and doesn't lose any energy in its three minutes. I'm not sure where Rich figures into this, maybe she just had him pose for the album pic.

[Dan Black - Symphonies] wants to rhyme and not you or anybody or the musical meter is going to stop him. After he was done whining his lyrics into the mike he helped the producer pick out the most saccharine violin synths they had in the library. I can't believe that nobody in the vast and bloated music industry between Dan and us had veto power over this terribly weak pop embarassment.

2222 22Dec2009: Nice Things

You know why we can't have nice things? Well, I know why I personally can't have nice things: his name is Edmond and that's why he got declawed. But why can't we, as a whole, have nice things? It's because idiots like this are in charge of SciFi Channel, and I would guess most of the other channels as well. By homogenizing their programming they hope to tap into a larger audience, not recking that every other station that is also homogenizing is aiming for that same larger pool. For shame, Syfy Douche. For shame.

Still not sure what my holiday is going to look like, so I'm putting this up a little early. I will either be driving for two days or digging in for a snowstorm at the parents' house, but just about every path leads me away from my condo tomorrow night.

Uh, wow. [Juan Son - Nada], from the album "Mermaid Sashimi", is better than I usually get from the Spanish song. For one, it's not Christmas music. For two, it's almost like a male-fronted Bat for Lashes. Yeah, I'll be hanging on to this three-star ditty.

[30 Seconds to Mars - Kings and Queens] is the video, with an...oh SHIT eight minute "film" "inspired by" their song. This has both the music (power rock) and imagery (bikes in a city) I associate with battery or computer commercials. Like when Intel wants to sell the Intel brand but not actually deal with non-photogenic CPUs. So yeah, boring. But wait! The song itself is only about six minutes long; the rest is credits. Lots of credits. This is just aggressively mediocre, expanding the boundaries of what it means to be average.

[A Fine Frenzy - Winter White] is a Christmas song but her being a hot redhead removes much of the sting. Not that this is a video, but in my head it's very sexy. The song itself is okay, but I'm sure they make a decent living writing decent songs.

[Norah Jones - December] is very...Norah Jonesy. She could make a song about the 4th of July sound Christmasy, so this one is like double candy canes.

16Dec2009 2235: Overfull

Ugh I am too full. A friend of mine is back from Atlanta for Christmas vacation, and we celebrated at a nice Italian place with too much food. I do love mussels in pasta but it has destroyed me.

Hooray Edmond is now front-declawed. Now I can start rebuilding my carpet/doors with an eye to the future. Tonight was his last night on painkillers, a twice-daily disaster that yes, will let your cat heal, but is also administered through an oral syringe. Ideally "aimed towards the cheek or under the tongue". The reality is that it tastes terrible and the syringe is easily recognized by a cat. We lost an entire day's worth of meds on his chin thanks to his stupid squirming. I'm trying to finish this paragraph with a "Bukkakeprin" joke but I'm too logy so I'll just it leave it here.

[Faithless - Sun to Me] is a seven minute dance/club song that, I suppose, would do well to get people dancing for seven minutes. But when you're just sitting on a couch listening to a guy growl "you're the sun to me" over and over, you kind of want to die early.

[Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck - Heaven Can Wait] is this week's video. It has the surreal weirdness (is it Halloween? Spring Break?) that I associate with Beck, which means the thumping piano/guitar folk beat must be Charlotte's. It's a pretty great song that makes no sense lyrically but man I like her voice.

[The 88 - All I Want for Christmas is You] is another cover of a B-list Christmas song by some random band. Not too random -- they were a free single earlier this year. But this song doesn't really fit with a garage rock band. Or any rock band. Where's Nat King Cole? Dammit.

[Bob Dylan - Must Be Santa]? You have my attention. Perhaps you have wondered what would happen if Bob Dylan, Minnesota native, went back to his hometown to take part in some sort of Scandanavian oompah festival. I have. And this song delivers.

09Dec2009 1845: Wild Bullshit Beyond Time and Space exactly what the end of Assassin's Creed 2 is. The first ended with some slightly crazy invisible bloodwriting, but necessarily number two starts there. They didn't need to prove anything to me but they really unleashed a 50-gallon drum of crazy in the last ten minutes. I don't think I've ever been so satisfied with an ending that is obviously just a hook for a sequel.

For those you who are planning to never play the game, ever, I give to you these two video links. They begin immediately after you beat up the Pope and show the whole ending sequence. It's obviously much more crazy when there's an entire game building up to it, but I think you'll get a feeling for what my stabbery led to: wtf part 1 and part 2.

The Christmas assault is in full swing now. iTunes may have updated their store interface for the better, but they used it to bring us [David Archuleta - Joy to the World]. This fresh-faced youth puts his heart and soul into a technically accomplished but completely unnecessary version of the classic.

The terser [Joe - It Ain't Christmas] just wants to lay you down by the fire and tell you about the Ejaculate Conception and baby come home soon and it's so cold without you etc. It's not quite right for a new Christmas carol but is a perfectly adequate R&B song for December.

[Zeri - Bendicion] is also probably about Christmas. This is some sort of Spanish boy band - or perhaps a boy who went solo from his band - giving us a pop ballad. And I bet he's not giving it to us, but to a nebulous concept of "girl". This is all hypothetical, of course; the lyrics might actually be a recipe for cookies. And yes, I found the douchiest YouTube of that song I possibly could.

[The Bravery - Slow Poison] is thankfully un-Christmasy, but it's maybe a little too far in the other direction. The video starts with a 70s scifi disco ship shooting glam lasers at an astronaut, and then cuts to the actual band playing behind a sheet of pink cellophane. It's New Wave all the way through. It's just unfortunate that any musical movement has the word "new" in it. That's just rubbing it in. Anyway, I imagine this video is what would happen if Flock of Seagulls condensed Contact into three minutes.

02Dec2009 1815: Survival of the Quietest

My cat and I both survived the Thanksgiving trip, and I don't think he's on to the fact that he gets his toes shot off on the 9th. Don't tell him! He thinks he gets treats just because, when really they're to tempt him into the crate next Wednesday.

Thanksgiving also showed me the philosophical differences between my assassin and my brothers' assassins. I mentioned last week that I was studiously avoiding stabbing dudes in favor of sneakery. My brothers both decided that enemies are better off dead than distracted; their Ezios went into wild frenzies of stabbery to clear the way for looting chests. Granted, their tactic may be faster and cheaper and doesn't rely on being totally incognito at all times, but...uh. I actually don't have an argument for my side. Except hookers, I do use hookers.

Thanks to Fark, I now know that hookworms are to blame for allergies. Well, anti-hookworms. And I've been following the shenanigans down in Maricopa County, which is always good for a laugh. It started weird and just gets weirder. For reference, you may have seen the sheriff in question on national news a few years ago, putting criminals in tent cities and pink underwear. Yeah, that guy. Apparently he's now the King of Maricopa?

I was embarassed to watch [Kid Sister - Right Hand Hi] in my condo by myself, so you probably shouldn't download it at all. It's the lowest common denominator of dance club music, which is already formulaic to maximize dancing potential. And the video encourages vandalism. And -- I'll just say it because we're all thinking it -- I'm not sure Kid Sister is actually a sister, if you catch my drift. Is that the shtick? I'll be honest, I only looked into the existence of Lady Gaga a week ago and was suitably appalled, but I can't really say club music has gotten "worse". Lyrics: always dumb. Ladies: always androgynous. Costuming in videos: bizarre.

[Tonino Carotone - Amar y Vivir] was probably in, or will probably be in, a Quentin Tarantino movie at some point. The vaguely 70ish production values, the guitar work, the vocalist with the dirty smirk in his voice...these are all things inextricably linked in my mind with Tarantino's vision of Mexico.

In contrast, [Mojarra Electrica - El Hueco] is more like something you would hear in a commercial from the Tiajuana Tourism Bureau. It's latin and reggae and has this annoying flute riff that accents just about every line in the chorus.

[Katharine McPhee - I'll Be Home for Christmas] begins this year's onslaught of unnecessary Christmas covers. I bring this up every year, but I think it'd be far more productive for these bands to try out new carols rather than attempt (and fail) at songs from the 40s.

Something like [Darius Rucker - Candy Cane Christmas]. As far as my Googling tells me, this song is original to Darius Rucker('s ghost writer). It has the feel of something from the ancient days of Crosby and Sinatra, but it's not, which is exactly what a new Christmas song needs to be. Recommended if you're looking for Christmas music.