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30May2012 1815: Time Travel

It's been too long since I've had some good time travel around here. And it'll be a while longer, since I just got my hands on a show called Continuum. Future detective sucked back to the present day to chase criminals terrorists that have been sucked back to the present day? Time Trax I'm in. But in no way am I expecting it to be "good".

Big day tomorrow. The HOA is finally voting on a lot of building improvements. Not the vital structural work that we need to keep our garage from sliding into the river, but we are residing it. So that's nice.

We're out of rising artists this week, so why not go prebuy Amanda Palmer's new album instead? Early buzz is that it's awesome.

23May2012 1930: Groundwork

Today on Monty's Behind the Curve: carpet from the 1970s. the kitchen.

I have no idea if this is actually from the 70s, but you people liked to carpet everything back then, and my kitchen is a thing. And you'd have to be on cocaine to think carpeting a kitchen is a good idea. So after six years of tolerating the silliness I finally plunked down a frightening amount of some cash to get nice wood-looking laminate. Stay tuned! This is going to be awesome.

Speaking of the 70s, did I miss the disco revival? [Bear In Heaven - Sinful Nature] is firmly planted in the 80s, as are many songs I've slogged through in the Rising Artists. I can remember bands that sounds 80s and bands that sound 60s but nobody seems to be nostalgaic for the gilded age of glitter balls. Not surprising, if they did shit like put carpet in kitchens. Anyway, this is the bad sort of 80s song anyway. Less Breakfast Club, more Vamp.

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to listen to [The Lumineers - Flowers In Your Hair]. Hooray for country-folk; we get a little of that thumping bluegrass flavor without any actual twang. The best part is that it's only 1:45 long; just as I was thinking to myself that it was a little too country, it ended. Good enough for me.

Two weeks in a row now we've had a decent uptempo tune in the middle slot, only to run headfirst into a brick wall of sadness. [Oberhofer - Heart] plods and pouts and absolutely does not compromise on its indieness. Two guys wail over a simple piano line and then noise shows up and...yeah. Way to buzzkill, dudes.

16May2012 1900: Surprised

In Internet Time this video is already ancient lore, but it's been crazy around here with Guild Wars and Avengers and the what-have-you. So today on Monty's Behind the Curve: a man is surprised by a bear. As it was foretold.

Is [J.D. McPherson - North Side Gal] actually from the 1950s? Some lost recording of a lost artist? Because it hits every single beat that my generation remembers from that part in Back to the Future. Wailing sax solo, rock guitar, roughed-up yelling voice... it's a time capsule of vapid lyrics from when rock was trying to get a toehold. This'll never catch on.

[Susan Justice - Eat Dirt] brings her overly earnest pop diva ballad stylings to a topic near and dear to my heart: eating candy off the floor. I'm not kidding. The rest of the song is treacly stand-up-for-yourself bullshit, but that first The full overproduced major-label sound, singing wistfully about eating a piece of candy off the floor. Is Capitol Records this self-aware? There's no way this can't be self-parody, right?

And then [Lost In The Trees - Golden Eyelids] has to go pissing in everybody's cornflakes. Didn't they get the memo? We're trying to reboot the music industry by reintroducing the roots of rock 'n' roll while simultaneously undermining any gravitas modern music might have. What business do you have making this echoey sad indie song with violins and ethereal doowop backup singers? It's just such an overwrought by-the-numbers downer that it undermines any gravitas that...oh.

09May2012 1800: A Cabin in This Neck of the Woods

Let's get arboreal this week. By now literally everybody knows the Avengers is a good movie. Not just "superhero movie good", but legitimately thrilling as an action piece and a magnificent capstone to Marvel's years-long plan. But that's not the best movie I saw this weekend. It's not the best Joss Whedon movie I saw this weekend. Due to some perverse bit of Lionsgate meddling, it's not even the best Joss Whedon-Chris Hemsworth movie I saw this weekend. Because I saw The Cabin in the Woods.

Avengers was great, but it was great on Marvel's terms with Marvel's money. I'll take a stand here: the worst parts of Avengers were the most explicitly Whedon parts. A cute line that didn't need to be there, pushing a joke one step too far. It made me cringe, but only slightly and only a couple times. Cabin in the Woods is 100% pure uncut glorious Whedon, from the premise to the dialogue to the actors involved. Every horror beat, every line of too-cute dialogue, every bit of it hit me right down deep in my glee gland. I think everybody should see this movie; right now at the theater, or later on rental. I saw it twice. On Avengers weekend. Don't read anything about the movie, just see it.

I'm skipping Rising Artists this week in favor of a band more dear to me. Red Delicous is defunct, The Dance Hall Crashers are ancient, and Rilo Kiley imploded, so the Silversun Pickups are probably my favorite going concern. I randomly checked Amazon last week, apparently tipped off by one of my psychic vibes; their new album Neck of the Woods is out as of yesterday and it's only five bucks. I think I like it better than Swoon, but I'll have to listen several more times to be sure. Do you want more sad mopey Smashing Pumpkins songs, back when they used guitars instead of orchestras? Five bucks.

02May2012 1830: On the Front Lines

Over the 60 hours of the Guild Wars 2 Beta, I managed to clock in 30.5 hours of a Mesmer. My plan for the beta is to play all the classes I don't care about so I don't spoil my "real" character, and Mesmer was right at the bottom of my list. Guild Wars 1 had four classes based around the standard fantasy-game archetypes: an arrow-slinging rogue type, a smashy-smashy warrior, a spell-slinging wizard, and a corpse-kissing necromancer. Mesmer was the new idea and signature Guild Wars flavor, a class that did damage through pure annoyance. Every Mesmer spell was some sort of crippling hex, slow health degeneration, or just a way to interrupt other peoples' skills. Mesmer enemies piloted by the computer were enemy number 1; mesmer opponents piloted by humans were the worst. possible. thing. They stood behind all the smashy-smashers and did their best to ruin every healing spell of flaming meteor in your arsenal.

So I was surprised when the Guild Wars 2 Mesmer turned out to be a fucking crazy melee class. I started out with the standard wands and staves that a caster class should have, and it was as lame as I'd imagined. Most of my skills were dedicated to inflicting hexes on the enemy; bleeding, confusion, dazing, etc. The Mesmer that I remembered and loathed. But then? I suited up with dual swords and -- why not? -- a zweihander. It was a night-and-day difference. I'd dash in with my dual swords, generate three illusionary clones that also had dual swords, move into a flurry of swordplay that rendered me invincible, and then detonate my clones for the coup de grace.

And when we'd stumble across a boss and I didn't want to put my fragile frame in danger? I'd whip out my greatsword. Mesmers don't swing a greatsword like some savage; they use it to fire a gigantic goddamn laser beam!

Every hour of those 30 hours was amazing. Sometimes less so when my friends got shunted to different servers than me; sometimes more so when we all managed to group up and roll across the countryside. Crafting is great, combat is great, the graphics are stellar...this is literally the game I've been waiting five years for. We ended our time on Sunday by completing a jumping puzzle -- an MMO-based platforming challenge -- across the ruins of a giant wall. The fact that an MMO expects you to take on a jumping puzzle is odd; the fact that it took us half an hour made the reward all the sweeter.

I had real reviews of all the songs this week all typed up, but my Internet ate it completely. So here's some quickies: [Alabama Shakes - Hold On] is nice southern blues-rock. [Scars on 45 - Don't Say] is a filler track from U2. [Tanlines - All Of Me] is 80s dude-duo synth-pop.