26Jan2011 1830: The Long Road to Refinancing
At long last I have closed on my mortgage refi. The good news is it cuts a full 3% off my rate and drops me from a 30-year to a 15-year; the bad news is that Wells Fargo certainly didn't make it easy. I started the process a full four months ago in the heart of September...along with what sounds like the rest of the Fargo metropolitan area. The sheer volume of requests slowed down the paperwork, an ill-advised guesstimate from my HOA president raised a red flag, and then the Christmas holiday intervened. The final week of delays was blamed on a closing department that just flat-out couldn't make the time to get to my file to draw up the documents.
But damn The Man because now I'm rid of that terrible rate. It was my punishment for buying a house just before the economy went to shit. I'm free! You can't stop me forever, bankers!
[Fitz & the Tantrums - MoneyGrabber] certainly has a promising name. It's the video this week, but just barely; it doesn't do any fancy tricks, lingering instead on the entire ensemble lit in hues of blue and red. The song itself is exactly what would occur if [Kanye West - Gold Digger] was magically transported back into the year 1961. This is a full-on Motown -- oh hey, it just did something visually different during the breakdown. It threw in some iTunes silhouettes. That effect must be cheap these days, since the subject of the song already "robbed [him] blind". Anyway, the song is fantastic.
Um. [Amos Lee - Violin] doesn't seem to have any violin in it. There's a bunch of very sweet country ballad going on in here, but no violin. By sweet I mean "saccharine", not "awesome". Nuts to this, I'm going to listen to MoneyGrabber again.
With a name like that, I expected Randy Montana to sing about sheep. Heyoooo! Suck it, Montana. [Randy Montana - 1000 Faces] comes on as country and then builds into a fully arena-rock bridge before dialing it back down into twangtown. It's perfectly balanced between genres that give me hives.
19Jan2011 1815: NEW CAKE ALBUM
Last.fm's Cake channel is about five parts Ben Folds to one part Cake, but without them I might not have known about a NEW CAKE ALBUM for months. I really thought they were slowly packing it in after their previous album was a bunch of studio sweepings and alternate takes. Joke's on me!
Ah, what the hell. Let's just make this entire post about music. Minecraft's latest patch added music blocks into its blocky pantheon. Shit got real posthaste. A functional DJ booth? A ubiquitous triumph? A 1.8 kilometer rendition of Pachelbel's Canon? Minecraft is still the best.
[Elis Paprika - Feliz], from the album art, should be some sort of Debbie Harry/80s electropop powerhouse. What comes out of the speakers is more Camera Obscura, a slight country ballad with winsome vocals and all the guitar twang you could ask for.
[The Downtown Fiction - I Just Wanna Run] is a heartlessly-constructed horror, a probably-Disney teen rock band. A mop-haired geek, a pretty-boy frontman, and a tastefully pierced emo bad boy croon through an insubstantial song while legions of teen girls chase them down a dirt path. I find this whole package repulsive because (a) my balls have dropped and (b) it stands in the way of:
[Social Distortion - California (Hustle and Flow)]. Hell yes Social Distortion. It's not like I track down every album from these guys, but when they pop up in iTunes or Rock Band I really dig their punk sound. I keep thinking they're country-punk, but that's because I was introduced through their Ring of Fire cover. This song has some gospel influences, of all things, and they keep the tempo slow.
[Donnis - Gone] is a modern rap song. Somebody in the background who is not Donnis is autotuning, Donnis takes over to yell about how a country that has never heard of him is full of haters, and basically it's a travesty that this guy is getting iTunes play when Ugly Duckling gets the shaft.
12Jan2011 1745: Stabbings for Everybody
Oh man am I already on page three? That's most of my buffer, I need to get cracking on page five's complicated panels. Apparently RSS files can't include sub-files so comic updates will appear in the main feed for a while. Maybe someday I'll split into a separate feed, but probably not until it's really unwieldy to do so.
Over the past week I've finally started playing Assassin Creed Brotherhood's multiplayer modes. They are uniformly amazing. Even when I'm losing terribly, stuck in a game with demigods forty levels above my weight class, even the occasional perfect kill is enough to make me pump my fist. I spent a ten-minute session just hiding in hay bales and waiting for suckers to walk by; I got a skill called Morph that turns AI constructs into my duplicates and spent half a day just trying to lure my opponents into making a mistake; I used throwing knives to knock my obvious hunter off a precarious ledge and punched him in the neck when he tried to stand up. These matches generate moments of stabby beauty just like the single player, made all the more delicious by what I imagine my opponent's invective sounds like.
[Cultura Profetica - La Complicidad] brings us a mellow Spanish lite-rock groove, complete with saxophone breakdown in the middle. The band name and song title look enough like English that I was expecting some sort of Rage Against the Machine anti-establishment screed; but this band has prophesied a future where everything is pretty all right, so just chill, man. Yeah, those dudes over there are complicit in...like...things. That sucks but whatever. Here, smoke this.
[Andy Grammer - Keep Your Head Up] is the video this week. I know immediately that I was going to hate this song: it opens with cheesy pop "oo wooo"s while Andy puts up some posters for his own concert. In the final tally, the song was as vacuous and irritating as [Walking on Sunshine], but the video portion was pretty good. There's a weird Japanese stereotype party in an apartment, bikers in an alley toss Andy in a dumpster, and finally some girl in an argyle sweater doing The Robot. Set all that to some bloopy electronica song and I'm there.
[Tennis - Marathon] sounds like a 50s love song, both in the song itself and in how it sounds like it was recorded off a 45. Kids, ask your grandparents what a 45 was.
[Young the Giant - My Body] starts with drums from [The Beautiful People] but quickly turns into a Modest Mouse-ish song, and then beyond that into arena rock. But not good arena rock.
05Jan2011 1745: Resolutions
Happy new year, everybody! I don't know how many of my five readers saw this over the holidays, but I'd like to reiterate that 52 Yo Mama and Bloot is here and I have no idea what the update schedule is. From now on it'll be part of the normal Redundant Site Summary, so you couldn't miss it unless you tried. So let it be written! So let it be done!
Holiday times were great overall. Weather stayed out of my travel plans and I stayed out of weather's way. The Christmas celebration itself happened in Platteville, Wisconsin at a cousin's comfortable dormpartment. Our extended family was the sum total of people in the entire hall, with free reign in the rec area below. TV was watched, books were obtained, and I didn't have to go outside for two days!
Speaking of books, one get was
Mall of Cthulhu. This book makes me want to become a
freelance editor, because goddamn. A light, breezy
book like this can have some run-on sentences to set a tone,
but it's also missing several load-bearing quotation marks.
Dialogue does not blend seamlessly into a descriptive
paragraph. If anybody wants me to look over their manuscript,
my qualifications are (a) I am fueled by rage and (b) I will
work for $25 and the satisfaction of being more correct than
you. Inquire within
iTunes has broken free of the Christmonth shackles, with four fresh new secular singles. [Ruido Rosa - Dentro] may be a song about dentistry, or it may simply wish to rock your teeth out of your skull. It is more obviously a great rock song in the vein of 70s metal; slow, bass-heavy, and not afraid to bust out the rock organ. Also the album art has a parliament of murder-owls.
[Rock Mafia - The Big Bang] sets itself up to be a big pretentious music video, with leading credits and big-name stars (Miley Cyrus). But this isn't a Cyrus song. It's closer to Amy Winehouse, a bluesy romp through an underrepresented era of music. The video is typically overwrought but the song is pretty great. But why "rock" mafia?
[Eliza Doolittle - Rollerblades] is almost not a modernized cover of [Janis Joplin - Brand New Key]. It's a sugary singer/songwriter pop song that -- if not already in an Apple commercial -- will shortly be in an Apple commercial.
[Sharon Van Etten - Save Yourself] occupies an even slower place on the singer/songwriter spectrum. There's some country creeping in through Sharon's vocal bending and the probably-steel guitar, but not enough to turn me off.