Saturday, October 30, 2004

Mosh - The New Eminem Video

Paul Musgrave loves it!

The Pink Bunny of Battle loves it!

Boing Boing loves it!

Scott Spiegelberg loves it!

A bunch of other blogs love it but I can't find the links!

I watched the video and I don't think it's anything special. While Eminem shows admirable passion, it seems to me that the only people who it would really appeal to are unfunky middle aged white guys who are excited about Getting Out The Youth Vote!

Personally I'm very dissapointed that, while the Clinton era produced Rage against the Machine and System of a Down, in the lead up to this dramatic 'mediocre vs evil' election showdown, the best protest song has been made by Eminem.

I've already expressed my dissapointment with APCs effort. And while NIN and System would almost certainly have released some solid contenders, they haven't gotten their shit together in time to release an album this year.

So in the meantime we're stuck with Eminem. For shame, mainstream metal. For shame.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Behold, The End Times Approach...

A respectable economist agrees with Jeremy.

From Paul Musgrave Dot Com:
Probably the best reason to be concerned about the U.S. domestic deficit is that it opens us up to a major shock in the dollar. True, the U.S. meets the Maastricht criteria for joining the EMU, but when serious, sober people like Harvard President and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers start saying that we're on the edge of a precipice, it is a very good idea to start contemplating a change in fiscal policy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Nancy Drew

I was thinking today about those Famous Five books I used to read when I was a little kid, and how if Enid Blyton died today the publishers would probably put out a Famous Five Xtreme series. Then I remembered that they did exactly that with the Hardy Boys. I can't remember what the series was called, but the Hardy Boys were a little bit older and the typical plot was something like 'The Hardy Boys save a plane from terrorist hijackers', or 'The Hardy Boys are trapped on an island where crazed mercenaries hunt the Ultimate Game'. Some of them probably had dinosaurs in them.

Then I naturally started thinking I wonder if they ever made Nancy Drew Xtreme Edition. 'Nancy Drew must go undercover as a high class call girl to expose a sex slavery ring...'

Actually, forget you read that.

Go read the Onion instead.

"Countdown to the Recount 2004"
-Polls show Supreme Court split 5-4: A closer look at the swing justices.
-Your dead relatives, how they'll vote and why.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Oh Fuck Yeah

Channel Z are posting bits of the new Perfect Circle album online, complete with commentary by Maynard. Currently there are two songs there, (I think they're going to put up a new one every day or something).

The first track is about 30 seconds of a cover of 'What's going on' by Marvin Gaye. It's OK. Very mellow and laid back.

The second is 'Passive', which Maynard confirms is a reworking of an old Tapeworm song (probably 'Vacant'). This alone is great news, and I'll tell you why. Tapeworm was a side project of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, supposedly allowing him to collaborate with other musicians, in a way that his control freak tendancies wouldn't allow him to do with NIN.

Tapeworm consisted basically of the NIN live band to start with, and they got a bunch of guest vocalists in (Maynard and Phil Anselmo from Pantera among them, if I recall correctly).

Now as any NIN fan knows, Trent can't put out an album until enough time has passed since the last one that he's run out of money, his fans have forgotten about him, and his record label is shitty with him. Only after these conditions are met will he be depressed enough to start writing good music again. So not much happened with Tapeworm for many years, other than that Trent would emerge every now and again and say 'It'll be out in a year or so.'

The rest of the band got bored and went off to do other things, so Tapeworm ended up being Trent, Maynard and Atticus Ross from 12 Rounds. At the beginning of the year, it looked like the album might be out soon. Every week or so Trent would post a picture to of the three of them working in the studio, or a blurred out tracklisting, or Trents dog. A Perfect Circle even played one of the songs (Vacant) live, even though it made Trent mad.

Then a few months ago, out of nowhere, Trent announced that Tapeworm was over, and that the material would never be released. (So much for the collaborative idea). Apparently there were too many legal hassles, although Trent says "if the music had been great, all of this probably could have been worked out".

Well, it's very sad that after literally years and years of rumours and teasers, the whole thing got shitcanned, but fortunately you can hear one song off it if you follow the title link. And it's fucking awesome, so do it.

Monday, October 25, 2004


By Jack Yeovil

Yes, I read a Warhammer novel. If you go into the Sci-fi/Fantasy section of a bookstore, and look down at the bottom of the last shelf, you'll see a big section of books based on various geek franchises. Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Buffy, Dungeons and Dragons and so on. They're almost always at least as bad as you'd expect, unless you're a thirteen year old boy, in which case you will probably think they're pretty awesome. When I was a thirteen year old boy I must have read dozens of these sort of books. Eventually my reading material expanded beyond books with 'Dragon' in the title, but I still have a vague nostalgia for a few of the better ones, Jack Yeovil's Warhammer books being among them. So when I saw Drachenfels in the bookstore for ten bucks I grabbed it.

Warhammer is a table top fantasy war-game, which means you get a whole bunch of little miniatures representing dwarves, vampires, unicorns etc, and make them fight each other. As you can imagine, this is not the ideal source material for great literature. Drachenfels is definitely a cut above most of these kind of books, but I can't say I enjoyed it as much this time as I did when I was thirteen. It starts out OK, with a portentous and intriguing set up, but gets steadily cheesier and more melodramatic, until the author pulls out a genuine deus ex machina for the ending. But at least it was relatively short and painless to read, and there was plenty of gore and hardcore shit to satisfy my inner thirteen year old.


So, National Novel Writing Month is coming up. Last year I signed up but gave up before the month even started. I really want to do this sometime, but I've just got no time at the moment. Maybe next year.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Free Ahmed Zaoui With Every Purchase Over $20

I read the transcript of a lecture by Ahmed Zaoui. It's fairly interesting, definitely not crazy terrorist talk at all. In it he blames the western media for presenting only the negative aspects of the Muslim world, such as "absence of democracy, human rights abuses and terrorism". It's a point I agree with, but in the course of making it he seems to end up demonising the west in the same way. Anyway, it's a really long article but there's some interesting stuff there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Go read it

I found a new blog that I like. Paul Musgrave dot com, like almost all blogs nowadays, deals with American politics occasionally, but, as of the time of writing, he also has posts on the front page about the smell of old books, and the relevance of Emily Post to todays world. He also has a semi-daily world news digest, which contains lots of interesting news items from around the world that you might not otherwise see.

It's one of the better written blogs I've come across recently, I think I shall add it to my sidebar.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Well the poor old blog has been somewhat neglected over the last few days. I wasn't feeling well last week, and I was hungover in the weekend.

In the absence of anything else to write about, I'm going to comment on Jeremy's recent post.
Iran and nukes...
Can`t blame them really, given the US is running rampant across the middle-east
Of course, if Iran were to get nukes it would make them and Israel the only two nuclear powers in the region, it'd be like India/Pakistan except about 10 times worse.
Intel has discovered they have a bit too much inventory, no-one is buying anymore...
Good. It's about time people woke up to the fact that the only reason to upgrade your computer every year is that Intel and Microsoft want you to.
US Airways has been granted permission to cut it`s workers pay by up to 21%
But none of their executives are taking a pay cut. I'm continually astonished by the lack of accountability of management in big companies like that. There should be laws requiring them to financially contribute somehow when their company goes under.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How to be a Music Snob

If you ever wanted to sound as cool as I do when I talk about obscure music, now you can.

From a website called Your Music Sucks. Check it out, I damn near pissed myself laughing (at work, even). I particularly recommend 'Jack Johnson and John Meyer', and 'Radiohead Sucks', but they're all worth reading.

Monday, October 11, 2004


By David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace must be one of the smartest writers around. Infinite Jest, which runs to over 1000 pages, (in a large sized paperback with small print (and not counting the 200 or so pages of footnotes)), is one of the best books I've ever read. Even though it's a mammoth effort to get through the whole thing, I've read it twice.

So he's got a new short story collection out, Oblivion, and it's a lot darker and even more difficult to read than his last one (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men). I'll write about each story individually.

Mister Squishy: I'd just finished American Gods, had an hour to kill in Auckland airport, was feeling extremely sick and tired, and needed something light to read. Unfortunately, all I had was this. This first story is the hardest to read out of all of them. It's about a market research company, and it's written in an incredibly dense style, full of incomprehensable jargon and extraordinarily long sentences. It's a fairly depressing read and, like certain other of his stories, ends without any resolution, although the outcome is hinted at by the last few paragraphs. I didn't enjoy it that much, but mostly because I was in the entirely wrong frame of mind for it.

The Soul Is Not a Smithy: This one's just weird, but very cool. Wallace describes an exciting dramatic situation from the point of view of a semi-autistic kid who is more interested in his own private fantasies than in what's going on in front of him. This one's more grotesque than depressing, but continues the dark theme of the collection.

Incarnations of Burned Children: Yes there is actually a burned child in this story, and I found it much more affecting than I thought I would. This one's not only depressing, but chilling in a weird way.

Another Pioneer: Probably my favorite story, and not coincidentally the least disturbing out of the collection. Bizarre framing device aside, it's about a supernaturally brilliant child born to a group of primitive jungle tribespeople. There's more humour in this one than in the other stories, but of course it does have it's twisted undercurrent too.

Good Old Neon: Written from the point of view of someone who's commited suicide, this story is actually one of the more straightforward, until you get to the bizarre twist at the end. In fact, the twist makes this story more like the stories out of 'Brief Interviews', several of which involved quirky, confrontational post-modern twists.

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature: Another short weird one. I couldn't tell you why, but for some reason I found this one of the more depressing stories.

Oblivion: Up until the twist at the end I really liked this one. Normally when reading Wallace's stories I get the feeling that I'm completely missing all the subtext and a lot of the plot, but I felt like I was keeping up with this one. However the end completely lost me, so there you go.

The Suffering Channel: Constant allusions to 9/11, themes linking childhood abuse, unconscious physical mannerisms and the way we view our bodily functions, a very David Lynch like style to some of the latter parts of the story. Between all these things I have no idea at all what this one was really about. But it was pretty cool all the same. I especially found the ending quite memorable and profound (despite it's somewhat gross nature).

Well, all these stories are typical of old DFW, dense prose, weird framing devices and overly ambiguous endings, if it even has an ending. Worth every penny, if you like that sort of thing.


Directed by James Cameron

Watching Alien vs. Predator made me want to watch an Alien movie that was actually good. Aliens is pretty much the perfect action movie. There are no stupid plot holes, it's original in terms of both story and direction (despite being a sequel) and the action scenes fit into the overall story. The only other action movie I've seen in recent years that got all these things right was X-men 2, and it still didn't work nearly as well as Aliens.

If they remade this movie now, the stupid movie execs would probably insert a lame romance subplot, replace the soundtrack with soft cock metal songs by Seether and Puddle of Mud, and make all the action scenes full of frenetic jump cutting so you couldn't tell what was going on. (Speaking of the soundtrack, it's mostly servicable yet forgettable, but I really like the opening theme (which I think is based on the one from the first movie.))

Unfortunately, unlike Armies of Darkness, this movie doesn't get better the more you drink. It's still pretty good though, even if you have to take a huge pee near the end and miss most of the climactic battle.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Big Day Out 2005

I think I anticipate the BDO lineup announcements almost as much as the actual event. I always know who I think should be coming, and of course I'm inevitably dissapointed. Lets go through the first announcement one band at a time, shall we?

Beastie Boys: This should be pretty cool. I'm not their hugest fan, but I like them, and they'll probably put on an awesome show.

System of a Down: Saw them in 2002 and they were fucking awesome. They even covered Pink Floyd. I'd go just to see these guys again.

Chemical Brothers: I always liked the chemical brothers, until I saw them at the big day out in 2000. Shittest live show ever. I'm not kidding (well maybe better than the covers band we saw in Methven the other weekend, and maybe better than some of the bands I've seen at battle of the bands and stuff like that. But easily the worst of any real band I've ever seen).

The Music: I saw these guys in 2003 I think. Can't remember a damn thing about them.

The Streets: Crap.

The Donnas: Shite.

Freestylers: Bollucks.

Powderfinger: Fuck off.

Grinspoon: Boring.

John Butler Trio: Their single's kind of catchy. Not sure if I really like it though.

Concord Dawn: I like these guys, they might get me into the dance tent for a little while.

Misfits of Science: More shite.

The Bleeders: I used to like these guys, until my sister told me how her friend slagged them off on an internet message board, and they tracked him down and kicked the shit out of him. Kicking the shit out of people is punk, but internet stalking is not.

Trinity Roots: Lame.

D4: I'll probably see them and think it was the Datsuns.

Steriogram: They're shite too.

Shihad: Depends what their new albums like, and how much old stuff they play. We'll see...

So as you can probably tell, I'm really looking forward to it.

The Downward Spiral

So NIN are rereleasing one of my favoritist albums of all time in super hi-tech SACD and DVDA formats (like my deaf fucking ears could hear the difference), they've just posted a tracklisting on the website. The first CD is just the album (I didn't think Trent would change anything about it), but the second disk is a b-sides/demos collection. Damn it, I think I might have to buy it now. Oh well, if I'm going to own two copies of one album, it may as well be this one.

Plus their Closure DVD has been delayed until next year. Stink.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Armies of Darkness

It had been a long time since I first watched this movie, but I saw it again last week, and it's still pretty funny. It's hard to know if it's deliberately absurd or if it was actually taking itself seriously (I suspect the former). Either way, you can still see Sam Raimi's skill as a director despite the incredibly low budget and cheesy story.

One thing to remember is that this movie gets better the more you drink. We should probably have made a drinking game out of it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Jeremy vs. the World, pt 2

[Jeremy says the USD will become worthless pretty soon. Weimer Republic styles.]
Keep the USD high, make sure everything happens in slow mo, how? by stopping others from getting out of the USD, like Iraq for instance... then once *your* money is out, to hell with it!
So you're saying that the US invaded Iraq to keep Iraq's oil money invested in dollars? I see two problems with this, 1) It implies that the Bush administration is farsighted enough to see this economic singularity event on the horizon, while other well informed economists have no idea. Based on Bush & Co's track record on economic issues, I find this a bit of a stretch. 2) It implies that the Bush administration knows what they're doing and has a secret cohesive economic and foriegn policy. They've shown no evidence of having a cohesive public policy, let alone a secret one.
I also found another conspiracy site that claims a plane crashed into the pentagon despite absolutely no evidence to back this up... The whole wacky conspiracy faux-character-assasination thing is a bit tired, any claims for a particular event occuring must be backed by evidence, no evidence, no truth.
Other than that there was a big bloody hole in the side of the building, the same day two planes crashed into the WTC, (and two other planes were hijacked, only one of which showed up anywhere else).

As for the conspiracy theorist bit, you say that no plane crashed into the Pentagon, that's a theory. The news media and the US government contradict your theory, plus you also have to explain where an entire 757 dissapeared to, therefore your theory requires a conspiracy. Hence conspiracy theorist...

[Referring to the story that a sarin bomb was found in Iraq in May]
The news media would be all over this if it were Sarin,
Yeah, I agree that the fact there was no follow up to this story means that it may well have been misreported (it does come from Fox after all), but I maintain that sarin gas would not have been too complicated to produce, for terrorist groups or for Saddam.
"According to this report, Iraq could have produced the mustard and tabun chemicals on it's own."

From US supplied pre-cursors...
You can make mustard gas in your garage if you want, tabun is harder but still well within the capabilities of even the smallest crazy dictator state, there's no need to assume another country (the USSR was blamed at the time) helped them make it. Hell, I don't think either of those chemicals even have precursors. Tabun is the first in the G-series of chemical weapons (which includes sarin). They were both some of the first chemical weapons made (by the Germans during the world wars).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


By Jordan Reyne

It's a bit of fourth album blues here for one of my favorite artists ever. Her last two albums, released under the name Dr. Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine, are probably my top two kiwi albums ever. Unfortunately this one doesn't quite live up to their high standards, but it's still pretty good.

The title track 'Passenger', is a nice but somewhat forgetable opener that sets the tone for the album. Musically it's similar to the previous album 'The Loneliest of Creatures'. Lots of droning synths and random noise and samples. However Passenger is a lot lighter and less ambient. Plus she actually sings on most of the tracks this time, whereas TLoC was mostly instrumental. The ambient noises are all derived from the sounds of planes, airports and trains, in keeping with the theme of the album.

The next track is 'Green' (no, not a cover of the Goodshirt song). For the first half of the song it is just a single bass drone, with the vocals over the top. It immediately made me glad she decided to sing again on this album. Her voice and her lyrics are both great.

This is followed by 'The Nothing'. Pretty much just very low bass droning and nothing else. That might sound a bit boring, but it doesn't go for very long. It sounds like a musical reference to TLoC, and that fits with what it says about the relationship between two albums on the website. Anyway, I'll repeat what I said when I first listened to TLoC, "You can't go wrong with a good bass drone!"

Next is 'Empty Stations'. I don't like this one so much. The upbeat vocals and drums are a bit too trancey for me.

Fortunately it's followed by the haunting instrumental 'Warsaw', probably my favorite track on the album, all spooky droning and tribal drums.

The next three songs are 'Waiting for the Sun', 'Letters Home' and 'Fear of Flying'. They're all pretty good, but a little samey, in the same vein as 'Passenger'. Nice lyrics though.

'Karlsruhe' is quite similar in tone and style to 'Empty Stations', but I liked it a whole lot more. Probably because she sounds a lot angrier in this one.

'The Machines of B' is next. I like this one too. For some reason it always strikes me as being somewhat pop compared to the rest of the album, but that doesn't stop it from being good.

Finally, there is the secretish track 'The Freeing of Baghdad', which is really good. The music is overlayed by traditional arabic singing, and a fairly ominous spoken sample by some British dude, talking about an unspecified group commiting unspecified atrocities. I don't know exactly what context the quote is from, but it's quite unsettling.

Anyway, while this album is a little disappointing when compared to its predecessors, it's still one of my better purchases recently. She's got a new album coming out next year (sponsored by DOC apparently), which I'm really looking forward too.

More Politics

Jeremy has replied to me again, but I'll get to him tomorrow. For now I'd just like to link to a post on Brad DeLongs website that offers some possible explanations of just what the hell the Bush administration is actually thinking.

Monday, October 04, 2004

In response to Jeremy

Two things:

Firstly Jeremy says that the Oil-for-Food program changing from US-dollars to Euros was what triggered the US invasion of Iraq. Besides the fact that this happened well before Sept 11th, and I believe even before Bush was president. It seems unlikely to me that the negative effect on the USDs value would justify the billions and billions of dollars required to wage the war, even if everything had turned out well for the Americans.

Secondly, last week he responded to my post about WMDS in Iraq. He claims that it was probably the Iranians who carried out chemical attacks on the Kurds in the 80s, as the chemical used was HCN rather than VX. Now I found a wacky consipiracy theory site that backs him up here, but more reputable sites confirm that it was actually sarin gas that was used, a chemical that the Iraqis definately had.

Curiously enough, while I was looking this stuff up I found out something related to my original post. Sarin has a very short shelf life. If Saddam wasn't still producing it recently, his stockpiles from the 80s would almost certainly be useless by now. On the other hand, he had plenty of other kinds of chemical weapons, and in May this year, US soldiers found a roadside bomb containing Sarin gas, which they claimed originated from Saddams stockpile.

As for the claim that the US supplied Saddam with these weapons to begin with, I find that pretty dubious myself. According to this report, Iraq could have produced the mustard and tabun chemicals on it's own. Sarin is similar to tabun, and in the 90s the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo produced it themselves and used it in the Tokyo subway bombings. Admittedly they were a very well funded group with a lot of scientific expertise, but if a crazy terrorist cult could do it, a nation could certainly do it as well.

Note 1: I'd link to the specific posts on Jeremy's site, but he doesn't seem to have permalinks.

Note 2: Apologies if this post is a bit garbled. Daylight savings has not been kind to me so far this week.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Alien vs. Predator

Directed by Who Cares

I didn't expect much from this movie and that's exactly what I got. I won't bother describing the plot, since as you can imagine it's pretty irrelevent, but the movie is divided into three parts. The first part is the exposition part, where they introduce the characters and set the scene. Despite being cheesy as hell, this part wasn't too bad. It does a decent job of building tension before the main part of the movie.

The second part is the foighting. This part was pretty good too. There were lots of good action scenes, as you'd hope, and lots of cool shit, including the obligatory extended Alien vs. Predator one on one face off. I was more than satisfied with the movie up until here.

The last part was the climax, and that's where it all turned to shit. Huge huge plot holes, lame twists, and lackluster action scenes completely ruin the end of the movie. And there was even an incredibly contrived sequel set up. Great.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Grover's Thoughts

This site is fairly amusing.

For some reason whenever I click on the 'Next Blog' button at the top of the site I get taken to some young Asian girls blog full of broken english, most of which is just gushing about boys. Either that or to a vile LGF-style right wing political blog. But today for a change I actually found something interesting.

The Greatest Show Off Earth

By Robert Rankin

When I was back there in high school, Robert Rankin was one of my favorite authors. He wrote roughly in the style of Terry Pratchett, but without the serious insight-into-human-nature side of it.

I decided to reread one or two of them, to see if they still held up ten years later. The first one I read was 'Armaggeddon: The Musical', but I found it not all that funny, and thought it was trying a little too hard to be 'Brazil'. But I decided to give him another chance and read the sequel, 'Armaggeddon II: The B-Movie'. Subtitled 'They Came And Ate Us'. It wasn't very good either, but it was a bit better than the first one. So I decided to give him one more shot, and read what was once my favorite book of his, 'The Greatest Show Off Earth'.

TGSOE follows the stories of two friends Raymond and Simon. Raymond is kidnapped by Abdullah, the Flying Starfish from Uranus, and taken to Venus, where human flesh is a delicacy. Meanwhile on Earth, Simon battles a satanic conspiracy, with the help of a book from the future that tells the story of his and Raymond's lives. The two stories have almost nothing to do with each other in the end, but they build up to dual climaxes at the same time, and there is lots of jump cutting between them.

Unfortunately, this book was not very good either. Sure, there were a few funny jokes in it, for example:

'I have often wondered,' Andy said, 'why is it that members of the opposition party always waste half of the Prime Minister's question time asking the PM what his appointments are for the day.'

'Ah.' Simon bought his teeth into play. 'I have a theory about that. I reckon they think that if they keep on asking him again and again, then one day he'll simply crack and say something like, "This morning I had meetings with Cabinet colleagues and others and at lunchtime I had a naked Filipino lass lowered onto my honourable member in a rotating split-cane basket. Oh damn, now what have I said? I resign."'

But most of it's not that good. One joke which gets it's payoff towards the end of the book revolves around the fact that one of the characters surnames is Bum-Poo. Ha ha, he said poo.

Plus, every now and again he still seems to think he's Terry Gilliam, and tries to evoke some sort of romantic, mythical atmosphere. It doesn't work.

So anyway, I think that's the last Rankin book I'll read. I sure thought they were pretty funny when I was 14, but unfortunately they just didn't age that well.

Jon breaks his promises

So I've been fairly busy this week. It looks like I won't be responding to Jeremy's post after all, as my social, professional and masturbational obligations have prevented me from composing the witty and enlightening post I had in mind.

I was also going to write a review of Passenger by Jordan Reyne, but that will have to wait until monday, because I left the CD at work.

But fortunately for you, dear reader, there's lots of other stuff I want to write about. So read on...