Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Festivus

May you be touched by his noodly appendage this festive season.

The editors of the Wildebeest Asylum will be unavailable for the next few weeks, as they pilot the galactic mothership Wotan to the far reaches of the Andromeda galaxy in order to battle their hated enemies, the dreaded Merovingian space demons. See you in the new year!

Friday, December 23, 2005

But All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

So I'm coming home from town early one morning and I see George Bush and Karl Rove disposing of the body of a prostitute in the Avon river. "Hey George Bush!" says me, "I know you're the president of the United States and all, but you can't just go round murdering people, it's against the law!"

"Now now Jon," replies Karl Rove. "We all know that you're really just out to hate on Bush because you're a poxy liberal and you can't stand to see a conservative president do such a fantastic job. Besides, I didn't hear you complaining when Bill Clinton killed prostitutes and hid the bodies did I? He used to do it all the time!"

"Is that so?" I muse thoughtfully, "Well gee, if someone who represents a vastly simplified version of my political views did it, I guess it must be OK to murder prostitutes..."

"That's right!" says Karl Rove. "Plus Jimmy Carter, he had a grisly trophy room containing the decaying bodies of hundreds of his victims hidden under the White House. The unspeakable acts he used to commit on them... ah, it brings back such sweet memories."

"Well you've got me convinced Karl," says I "How about I give you a hand with that violated corpse there and then we'll go out for a drink?"

"George doesn't drink..." whispers Karl. I quickly recover and say, "Oh sorry, I meant for some cocaine!"

"Now that sounds like a party!" says George, and we trot off hand in hand into the sunrise.

And For The Sake Of Posterity...

Links to last year's entries.

Year End Roundup Part III

Best Albums (in no particular order):

I know it's the typical year end list wanker thing to say, but it genuinely wasn't a very good year for new music. The following albums were all decent, but none of them truly made me cream myself.

Stop press! Last minute update!
The last coil album saves this year from being a total washout. I'll write more about it next year.

Coil - The Ape of Naples
Fantomas - Suspended Animation
Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth
Einsturzende Neubauten – Grundstueck
Rammstein - Rosenrot

Best Album That Actually Came Out Last Year, But Can Pretty Much Win Every Year As Far As I'm Concerned:

Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine

Best Concert:
Mark Knopfler
Runners Up:
System of a Down
Velvet Revolver

Biggest Disappointment:
System of a Down - Mezmerize

Most Obnoxious Band:
Green Day

Dishonorable Mentions:
Gwen Stefani
50 Cent
Fucking Crazy Frog

Worst Song By A Good Band That Should Have Known Better:
Rammstein – Strib Nicht Vor Mir

Runner up:
System of a Down – Old School Hollywood

Most Unbelievably Overrated Band:


Runners up:
Green Day
Foo Fighters
The Killers

Best Career Suicide By A Totally Shit Band

Limp Bizkit

Biggest Sellouts:


Trent Reznor Award For The Best Album That Was Supposed To Come Out This Year But Didn't:

Tool – the new album and the new DVD.

Runner up:
Trent Reznor – the Closure DVD.

Year End Roundup II

Best Game:

God of War
Runners-up: Psychonauts, Civ IV

Webmasters Choice Award For Special Achievement In Gratuitous Sex And Violence:

God of War

Year End Roundup I

I've become a bit of a TV geek over the last few years. It's commonly believed that all TV is shit, but I find that with skillful application of a PVR you can find a lot of good stuff.

Best TV:

Doctor Who

Best Show That I Shouldn't Admit to Enjoying:

Desperate Housewives

Biggest Downturn in Quality:


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lucifer: Inferno

by Mike Carey

Another installment in the Lucifer series. The last one was pretty good, and the story came to a bit of a mid-point climax. By contrast there's not a lot of action in this one, and it's not as good in comparison. As usual though there are some cool new characters and places, in particular the artificer demon Scoria who lives in a huge mechanical tower filled with diabolical machines.

Not bad, but not the best entry in the series.

See also:

Volume 1
Volume 2 & 3
Volume 4

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Damn Right Motherfuckers

U.S. judge tells the Intelligent Design people to fuck off.

(OK he doesn't actually say fuck.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

He Was So Good At Fashion, They Had To Shoot Him

Father Ted Season 3

Probably not quite as good as Season 2, but still damn brilliant. The death of Dermot Morgan put an end to one of the best comedies ever made, and I guess there's not much more to say other than “He DID kick me up the arse!”

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Astro City Catchup

Life in the Big City and Local Heroes by Kurt Busiek

A few more Astro City collections. Life in the Big City is the earliest collection, and it's relatively dull as most of it is just introducing us to the premise and characters. There are a few good stories though. The first introduces us to Samaritan, Astro City's Superman analogue and examines how a real person would deal with the pressure of saving the world several times a day (answer: it'd drive a normal person batshit). The last story goes back to him again, this time trying to go on a date with the Wonder Women analogue. Very amusing, but also rather poignant. There's also a cool story about how the newspapers work in Astro City.

Local Heroes is much stronger. The first story is nothing special, just another look at the city in general through the eyes of another ordinary person. The second is a bit better, looking at the way superhero comics are written in Astro City. Some of the later stories are real gems though. In Shining Armour a women reminisces about her affair with a superhuman, and in Old Times a retired superhero tries to save the city one last time. All these stories do a great job of humanising supposedly superhuman characters. The real highlight is the two part series about a lawyer in the 70s. Not only does it look at how putting someone in jail would work in a world where evil twins and mind control are common place (I guess this is why those supervillians are always back out of jail so fast) it also does a great job of evoking the unease and sense of betrayal of the Veitnam/Nixon era.

Neither of these collections are as good as Confessions, but Local Heroes is good enough to make me keep buying them.

See also:
Family Album

Why am I not in Sweden?

But I'll give Newcastle a miss.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I Love You, Whore!

Rammstein – Rosenrot

Last year Rammstein released Reise Reise, which I initially found somewhat disappointing, but later ended up growing to like a lot more. Rosenrot is a kind of b-sides album for Reise Reise, but it is as least as strong as it's predecessor.

It starts out in good form with their latest single Benzin (which has a great video by the way) and Mann Gegen Mann which are both great stomping metal tracks in the best Rammstein tradition. They then turn to a more reflective and sad (but still heavy of course) style for the next three songs, which are all top class as well.

Then we hit a problem, Strib Nicht Von Mir (Don't Die Before I Do), a slow ballad in which vocalist Till sings a duet with the singer from Texas (the band Texas). Even from that description you can tell it's going to be bad, and believe me, it's even worse than what you'd expect. I don't know where the hell they got the idea to do this song from and I hope they've gotten it out of their system forever, because it sucks pretty fucking hard.

Fortunately we immediately get back on track with a few more good heavy songs, culminating in Te Quero Puta, a truly inspired track that ranks amongst the best music they've ever made. It mixes their traditional metal with Mexican music, complete with horns and hoochie backup singers. Just brilliant.

Finally there's a few more ballads, but good ones this time, the epic Feuer and Wasser and the very subdued Ein Lied.

Except for that one wrong turn, Rosenrot is absolutely classic Rammstein from beginning to end. Even the cover art is great, a lonely icescape with a frost rimed ocean liner plowing through it, overlooked by an old castle. Very Wagnerian, which is exactly what these guys do best.

Plus, it comes with a teaser DVD containing a few tracks from their upcoming live album, and it looks like it'll live up to the very high standards of Live Aus Berlin.

See also: Rammstein - Lichtspielhaus

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Middle Aged Hipster Day

Breaks Co-op – Roofers

So you might recall that I was quite taken with these guys when they played at Southern Amp, so even though this isn't the kind of thing I normally go for I grabbed one of their albums. As I mentioned when talking about the live show I'd written off these guys as annoying hipster bullshit, but their performance won me over. Well, the CD has reasserted my old opinion. There's nothing I find more boring than tame middle age oriented hip-hop with by way of easy listening jazz and this album fits that bill to a T, and as such sends me to sleep every time I put it on.

Jordan Reyne (who can pretty much do no wrong) provides a definite highlight on the last track Transister with a crunchy bass line that usually wakes me up and reminds me that it's time to listen to something different. The slightly single Sound Advice (more of a rap track) isn't too bad either, but the remaining ten songs get a severe thumbs down from me.

I might still be tempted to get their new album, as there's an eight year gap between that one when Roofers was first released, and it's the one that has earned them their current success so I have tentative hopes that it might prove more appealling.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Neil Gaiman – Anansi Boys

Gaiman's American Gods was one of the best books I read last year, and probably one of my all time favorite novels full stop. I was very much looking forward to Anansi Boys, which is a sort of sequel to American Gods.

None of the characters from the earlier book appear in this one, save for a few cameos by the title character Anansi (the African trickster god, transplanted to modern day America). The protagonist is Anansi's son Charlie, who knows nothing of his father's divinity until his (Anansi's) untimely death. While the premise sounds fairly typical for a fantasy novel, the style is actually that of a broad comedy. It resembles Good Omens more than any other Gaiman novel, and indeed it has a very Pratchettesque style.

The setup is a pretty good one, and the book starts out with a lot of promise. Gaiman writes with a wry laid back tone, one that sounds a little like a updated Anansi story. I imagined it being related by some old black dude from the American south-east. Unfortunately it doesn't remain so charming all the way through. The voice of the author gradually deteriorates into what I can only describe as 'generic Terry Pratchett', complete with footnotes. The plot doesn't end up being all that interesting either, becoming more predictable as it goes on, and by the end it reminded me of nothing more than a boring Adam Sandler movie, with all the humour and plot events being telegraphed well in advance.

Having said that Gaiman is of course a pretty clever guy and there are plenty of laughs to be found right up to the end of the story. I particularly liked the way that he never explicitly states that almost all the characters are black, it's only hinted at by the way that every now and again it explicitly mentions that a minor character is white. However the actual emotional content of the story is rather flimsy. In particular the romances were eye-rollingly cliched and unconvincing. Not to mention rather creepy in some respects.

It's not as bad as I might have made it sound, I don't regret buying or taking the time to read it, but it's far below my expectations for Gaiman, as he's normally brilliant.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mow Down The Sexy People

System of a Down – Hypnotize

After an excellent live performance at the beginning of the year System of a Down managed to produce one of the most disappointing albums I've ever heard with Mezmerize. Hypnotize is the second disc in the two album set, and I must say my expectations were very low. Fortunately they have been exceeded, but not by much.

The album certainly starts out reasonably well with Attack, the angry, passionate anti-war song I've been waiting for them to release since the war in Iraq began. It continues in a reasonably competent vein for a few more tracks, Dreaming is a mellower track a little reminiscent of Aerials and is followed by the silly but enjoyable Kill Rock'n Roll and the mediocre single Hypnotize.

From there it goes through a mostly regrettable middle section, the only bright spot being another aggressive anti-war song Tentative which alternates heavy sections full of thrashy tritones and gentle sad parts where Serj sings “Where do you expect us to go when the bombs fall?”

The album ends on a few high notes however. The obligatory 'Let Serj Do Silly Voices' track Vicinity of Obscenity is a winner (a large step up from Mezmerize's execrable This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm On This Song). Lonely Day overcomes some eye-rollingly bad lyrics (“The most loneliest day of my life/ Such a lonely day/ Should be banned”) with a truly passionate delivery and a killer guitar solo to be one of the best tracks on the album. The last track Soldier Side isn't too hot, but I'm a sucker for the whole returning to the beginning of the album (or in this case the beginning of Mezmerize) so I'll give it a pass.

Taken together Mezmerize and Hypnotize could have easily fit on to a single album, and it's obvious to me that what they should have done is cut out the crap, released it as a single album and had another worthy addition to their discography instead of a pair of disappointments.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Let Us Sheathe Our Swords In The Beating Hearts Of Our Enemies

Civ IV

So I've had a few games of this now and I think I'm ready to make a judgment. With an indepth strategy game like this one it can often take a long time to really get to know all its ins and outs, so my opinion may change in time but for now I'm very happy with it.

Civ 2 is one of the best games ever made, no question. A completely open ended strategy game that allowed you to govern a nation from the dawn of history through to the modern era, its endlessly addictive gameplay has stolen many days, nay weeks, of my life over the years. Civ 3 was released a few years ago and while it updated the graphics very nicely, some of the new gameplay changes didn't work so well. With Civ 4 they seem to have used Civ 2 as a model and either rolled back the changes from Civ 3 or tweaked and updated them.

There are relatively few completely new features. The major one is religion, which affects the attitude of other nations towards yours. It doesn't actually come into play a lot, but it introduces a fun element by allowing you to send missionaries into neighbouring nations in order to convert them.

The 'great leader' concept from Civ 3 has been kept, but significantly changed. Rather than either being used to stack military units or finish wonders, the new ones are purely non-military and come in a range of roles, such as great merchants and great scientists.

The culture concept has been kept virtually unchanged from Civ 3, as it was easily the best innovation from that game. It's always been a hell of a lot of fun to watch an enemies cities flip over to your possession with no military effort required on your part, but it's still very hard to do on the higher difficulty settings.

Civ 4's similarity to Civ 2 has meant that the novelty has worn off quite fast for me. That doesn't mean it's a bad game at all, it is in every way an improvement on it's predecessors, and far better than the disappointing Civ 3. I'm sure I'll be playing it more in the future but for now I've moved onto my other pet obsession, overblown Japanese RPGs.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

He Knows All The Chords

The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler – Private Investigations

Earlier in the year Mark Knopfler's live performance in Christchurch completely blew me away, and I said that I'd make it a priority to get some of his albums. Well eight months later I actually did, getting myself a copy of this best of.

The first disc contains almost all of Dire Straits' hits, such as Sultans of Swing and Money for Nothing. Those songs are indeed classics, but lesser known, moodier tracks included here such as Your Latest Trick, The Telegraph Road and Private Investigations show off Knopfler's true talent as a song writer. The latter two in particular have a strong emotional effect on me. Dire Straits' Love Over Gold is one of the first albums I remember listening to as a kid, and I really loved it. The songs off that album have an effect on me that nothing else can, simply because they're the songs that first awakened a love of music in me.

The second disc has some leftover Dire Straits songs but is mostly Mark Knopfler's solo stuff. I'm not familiar with much of it, but a few of the songs are as good as anything he did with Dire Straits (I particularly like Why Aye Man and Sailing to Philadelphia), and I'm tempted to look into some of his solo albums. Which I guess was the ulterior motive behind the record company releasing this double disc set.

The Tuesday Lessons

1) As God is my witness, I'll never do herbals again. And this time I mean it!

2) If you're ever lacking for female attention, try wearing big fluffy bunny ears into a feral metal bar.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Stupid Quiz Day

This one from David Farrar.


First Best Friend: A kid called Jordan at kindergarten. He was actually a bit of a wanker, but I guess all kids are at that age.
First Screen Name: Mad Jon Nut. Still occaisionally in use.
First Pet: My cat Mushka, who was my first birthday present.
First Piercing: None (yet...)
First Crush: Well it depends on how you define crush but we'll say my high school Japanese teacher.
First CD Bought: Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
First Car: My current Toyota Corona. The beast that will not die!
First True Love: Patricia
First Stuffed Animal: Bunny. Full of holes but still sitting at my mum's house somewhere.
First Words: As my mum never stops telling me: “Light”, she probably thinks it's deep and meaningful now.

First Game System: I played games on the old BBC Acorn when I was very young, but my first console was a Sega Megadrive.


Last Alcoholic: A Coruba and coke at some stage last Saturday night.
Last Movie Seen: Serenity
Last CD Played: System of a Down - Hypnotize
Last Bubble Bath: A very very long time ago.
Last Time You Cried: Can't remember exactly, but probably some drunken sunday morning.
Last Time You Laughed: Can't remember, I laugh too often.
Last Time You Fell: This morning doing Aikido.


Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Friends: Yes. And I don't recommend it.
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No.
Have You Ever Been Skinny Dipping: Not since I was a kid.
Have You Ever Been On TV: No
Have You Ever Regretted A Kiss: Strangely enough, no.
Have You Ever Been Drunk: That's an affirmative.
Have You Ever Slept For 24 Hours Straight: No.
Have You Ever Worn the Same Pants for 3 Weeks Straight: No.


1. Pants. Black.
2. Stripy shirt.
3. Gold satin boxers.
4. That's it!


1. Aikido training this morning.
2. Shopping in town – CDs, costume for a party and herbals.
3. Practised guitar.
4. Played Xenosaga.
5. Read a bit of Anansi Boys
6. Parsed the blogroll.


1 & 2. My parents.
3 & 4. My sisters
5. Barnes


1. radio or cd: CD, I hate the fucking radio.
2. German chocolate cheese cake or vanilla bean cheese cake: I want both!
3. black or white: Black.


1. Write the best fucking music I can.
2. Finish Final Fantasy X, no wait, that'll never happen. How about I take a cue from DPF and say 'have a threesome with Alyson Hannigan and Jessica Simpson'.


1. Only one? Neglecting my musical education between the ages of 13 and 21.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Well this mammoth book has taken me over three months to read, but it was well worth it. Despite being a quirky fantasy novel this book has met with quite a bit of mainstream success, and deservedly so.

The premise of the novel is that of an alternate history: in ages long past magic, magicians and fairies were commonplace in England, but none now (the early 1800s) exist, although scholars take the subject very seriously. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are the first English magicians in four hundred years. The books' clever conceit is that it is written in the style of the novels of the time (think Jane Austen), so these bizarre, fantastic situations are described in a very prim and proper manner.

Clarke is a very witty writer so the whole novel (all 900 pages) is a real breeze to read. Just one classic passage:

“The Foreign Secretary was quite a peerless orator. No matter how low the Government stood in the estimation of everyone, when the Foreign Secretary stood up and spoke – ah! how different everything seemed then! How quickly was every bad thing discovered to be the fault of the previous administration (an evil set of men who wedded general stupidity to wickedness of purpose). As for the present Ministry, the Foreign Secretary said that not since the days of Antiquity had the world seen gentlemen so virtuous, so misunderstood and so horribly misrepresented by their enemies.”

It struck a chord in the run up to the election when I read it a few months ago at any rate. (But not so much with our current Minister of Foreign Affairs of course.)

She has a lot of fun poking fun at the prejudices of the era, particularly the disdain for novelists:

“[T]he other Ministers considered that to employ a magician was one thing, novelists were quite another and they would not stoop to it.”,

and the quirks of the British in general. For such an upbeat book it was perhaps a little long, but that's the only criticism I could make of it.

While this book was mainly light hearted the author has a flair for unsettling descriptions of the supernatural. The magic performed by the protagonists was pretty benign, but their otherworldly antagonists were appropriately sinister.

The ending leaves rather a lot unexplained, so perhaps she's planning to write a sequel. Or maybe not, British authors are weird like that.

Friday, December 02, 2005

It Is Not The Actual Finding Of The Shoes That Is Important

Einsturzende Neubauten – Grundstueck

For the last few years Einsturzende Neubauten have been trying a new distribution model for their music. Their most dedicated fans sign up online and pay a moderately steep fee, in exchange they get to view live footage of their concerts and the recording process via webcasts as they work on their new album. Plus they also get a special supporters only album in advance of the new CD. The money raised from this is used to pay for the creation of the new record so they can produce an album without being attached to a recording label.

Grundstueck is the second supporters album released under this scheme. The first supporters album turned out to be a bit of a let down, with most of it's material being replicated on the following publicly released album, but they promised to do better this time.

Firstly they included a DVD containing live footage of a special performance at the Palast Der Republik (a Neubauten due to be Einsturzende-d) where they set up a large number of unusual percussive instruments, involving industrial machinery and even the building itself. They also invited their supporters to form a backing choir which they used in some clever and creative ways. It's a pretty cool concert, and is much more interesting than most live DVDs because of Neubauten's unique musical style.

Some of the DVD tracks are replicated on the audio CD, but that's OK as they work pretty well in that context too. The band have moved away from the more accessible style of their recent releases Silence is Sexy and Perpetuum Mobile, and back to their more experimental roots. The live tracks are mostly hypnotic percussive tracks in unusual meters, with the exception of Vox Populi, in which the band lead the choir in a haunting wordless vocal piece, interrupted by random stabs of noise.

The remaining songs are more song-like and have proper lyrics. They sound a little b-side like and don't fit together quite as well as a proper album should but are still solid efforts from a damn fine band. The highlight is the opening track Good Morning Everybody, which uses cut up vocal samples in a raucous wake up call in many different languages. The album closer Tagelang Weiss is a meditative track about addiction (as near as I can tell anyway) with Blixa murmuring his lyrics over a subdued drum and bass line. Plus you've just got to give them points for a song called Wo Sind Meine Schuhe? (Where are my shoes?)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's Like Sleepless In Seattle If Tom And Meg Were Minced

Buffy Season 6 Part 2

So as I noted before, Season 6 is more or less universally maligned amongst Buffy fans. Of course, my contrarian nature means that it's one of my favourites. But to be fair, it does go to a pretty bleak place thematically.

The most obvious example of this is the finale, in which Willow's lover is killed and she goes batshit crazy, eventually trying to destroy the world. I found it to be a pretty effective climax, and even though Alyson Hannigan isn't the most convincing of dramatic actors when it comes to grief she did do a good job of total megalomaniacal psychosis. Plus she's possibly the hottest chick in the world so I'm quite prepared to give her a break. The final resolution when Xander talks Willow out of destroying the world is more than a bit cheesy. “I love you” is a lame climactic statement, but “If you want to destroy the world, then start with me” almost makes up for it.

Buffy's relationship with Spike was no doubt also a source of consternation for fans. Despite years of shippers begging for them to get together, when it actually happened I don't think it was quite what they had in mind. But how else could it be? Spike's a neutered psychopath so any romantic relationship involving him simply has to be fucked up, anything else would be a complete cop out. Nevertheless their final scene together, when Spike attempts to rape Buffy, is some pretty confrontational, unpleasant viewing, even by my standards.

One of the least popular episodes was Normal Again, in which Buffy hallucinates that she is just a normal girl having schizophrenic delusions of being a superhero. Not only does it contain a scene in which Buffy locks all her friends in a cellar and impassively watches while a demon tries to kill them, but the very last scene implies that Buffy's hallucination of being normal is in fact the real world. It's a silly gimmick, but one that inspired convulsions of rage amongst Joss' normally loyal fan base. Personally it didn't bother me in the slightest, so the writers have implied that the story isn't real, well guess what? It's not!

But amongst all this angst leave it to Joss to make the most emotional punch a far more mundane one, Xander leaving his fiance Anya at the altar. Having a much loved character behave so fallibly was a pretty gutsy decision in some ways, and it probably alienated a lot of his fanbase.

Of course, I love all that unpleasant, depressing stuff so I rate this season highly. The dialog is as witty as ever and the show's great humour, while significantly blacker than normal, is still top notch. It's good that they finished on such a high note and didn't complete a substandard, confused mess of a final season which spoiled what was otherwise a perfectly executed six years of TV.

See also:

Buffy Season 5 Part 1
Buffy Season 5 Part 2
Buffy Season 6 Part 1

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


So I went and saw Serenity the other night. Believe it or not, I've never seen a single episode of Firefly, network TV showed it in the middle of the night so I didn't bother watching it and the DVD set has proven to be difficult to track down. So I was in the unusual position of being a Whedonite watching the movie without knowing the backstory.

I found it to be pretty good. The characters and setting were all introduced and explained adequately, save for the romantic subplots which were fairly uninteresting to the uninitiated viewer (OK, except for the one line “...I've had naught twixt my nethers that doesn't run on batteries!”) A few people elsewhere have worried that a certain character's death part way through the movie would not have the impact that it was meant to on someone who had not seen the series, and guess what, it didn't, but it's not like it inhibited my enjoyment of the movie in any way either. Although it did amuse me that the first time this character appeared on screen I thought to myself “I bet that's the one who dies.”

Anyway, this movie is nothing incredibly great, but it's still very enjoyable, with lots of cool action (the fight scenes are far superior to anything from Angel or Buffy) and the clever dialog we all expect from Joss. The sci-fi meets wild west setting was especially cool, and the asian influence was a neat original touch. I'm very glad I caught it in the theatre and I'm definitely going to try harder to get a copy of the Firefly DVDs.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Search Referral Manipulation Day

Sexy girls getting knocked out by chloroform videos. I've got heaps. Honest.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

My Visit to Hoochie Sixteen Year Old City

Otherwise known as Southern Amp.

So on the way home from work on Friday night I gave into a random impulse and bought a ticket to Southern Amp, Christchurch's attempt at running a cut down version of the Big Day Out. I wasn't expecting much, but ended up being very impressed with the performances so I'm really glad I went.

When I first arrived I was surprised at how few people there were. It got better as the day went on but I'm curious as to whether they made much money. Compare and contrast with the Big Day Out:

Southern Amp:

Big Day Out:

The first band to play after I arrived was Steriogram. I'm not much of a fan of theirs but it was cold and a little wet so I went up in front of the stage to get warm. In any case they're a decent live band so I didn't mind watching them. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the dude with the mullet in front of me during White Trash though.

Next up was The D4, again they're a band I don't have much time for ordinarily but I have to admit they are good live. I was impressed with how hard they got the crowd going when they opened for Velvet Revolver and they did the same again here.

Some terrible pop-rock band was up after that and I was also getting massively sunburned, forcing me to retreat to the hip-hop tent where I attempted unsuccessfully to appreciate DJ Sir-vere. Once that was over with I emerged to go and see Pluto, who as usual did not disappoint. The audience was very passive during the performance but they got a lot of applause after each song. Dance Stamina in particular went over really well and was a highlight of the day for me too.

Following them were Breaks Co-op, a band who I had previously written off as obnoxiously trendy stuff for old people who want to appear hip, the kind of thing that gives Russell Brown a hard on and puts everyone else to sleep. I must say I've completely misjudged them, their set, while extremely mellow was played with a lot of passion and I may just buy their album.

Next up was Spiderbait, one of the headliners from Australia. These guys have been around for a while and I was surprised to realise how many of their songs I knew. They put on a good show, but not the best of the day.

The Hoodoo Guru's were forced to pull out for some reason or other, and they were replaced by The Bleeders. This suited me pretty well because I don't know who the Hoodoo Guru's are and I like The Bleeders. Their set was pretty decent and despite my sarcastic comment about the moshpit below it actually got a bit rougher toward the end.

After that Elemeno P were due to come on, so I again retreated to the secondary stage, now renamed the dance tent rather than the hip-hop tent. I have no idea who the guy playing was but he was pretty good. “Oh my God”, I thought to myself, “I'm sober, I'm dancing to trance and I'm having a good time!?” It was freaky. Following that I caught a very brief bit of Minuet before heading back outside for The Living End.

I wasn't expecting much from them, I'd seen them a couple of times before and I like their singles but I definitely wasn't expecting them to be the best band of the day, which is what they turned out to be. As well as having a full repertoire of catchy stomping punk anthems they're pretty fucking awesome musicians too. Almost enough to make me rethink going to the Big Day Out.

Last up were Blindspott, I was pretty exhausted by that stage so I didn't really get into it much. They were decent at any rate but nothing special either.

In the end it turned out to be a really good day, and I hope they did well financially because if it keeps going it will only get better.

Pictures follow:

The Bleeders Posted by Picasa

Nice try Posted by Picasa

Steriogram "...and it'sa long at the back!" Posted by Picasa

The D4 Posted by Picasa

Crazy old people in the moshpit: Drunk, high on P or just plain mental? Modern science remains uncertain. Posted by Picasa

Pluto again Posted by Picasa

Breaks Co-op Posted by Picasa

Spiderbait Posted by Picasa

My first mosh pit: Safe for ages 8 to 80 Posted by Picasa

Minuet suffer equipment failure Posted by Picasa

The Living End Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Hue of a Champion

Angel Season 3 Part 2

The end of this season was probably the high point of this shows popularity, possibly because Buffy was becoming less popular at the same time. It's not one of my favourites however. I think the writing slipped a little bit, as they ditched the b-grade goofiness of the first two seasons and tried to treat itself more seriously, but at the same time they came up with a pretty cool plot. A vampire hunter from Angel's past is out to extract revenge for Angel's murder of his children by kidnapping Angel's new born son.

The highlight of the season for me was when Wesley kidnaps Angel's kid (for all the best reasons), and ends up letting him get stolen by the bad guy, who promptly takes him to hell. It convincingly sends Wesley on the path from being a goofball to being a dark badass. The success of this reveals that the actor playing him is actually pretty good, refer also to Cordelia's transformation from a bimbo to Angel's love interest, a transformation I found considerably less convincing. Staying on the subject of characterisation, Fred and Gunn as the happy couple were kind of grating, but I guess they were meant to be that way in order to contrast with everyone elses misery, and to set up their own misery in later seasons. Also, I really don't buy Angel as the doting dad. Maybe it's just my own dislike of little kids but it seems incongruous for this dark tormented character to go all gooey for any reason.

The best episode is the stand-alone Waiting in the Wings, which is set at a ballet performance, and involves some entertainingly steamy scenes between an entranced Angel and Cordelia. Most of the rest of the episodes are dedicated to the overarching plot, which is competent and better paced than Angel usually is, but lacks the spark that makes Buffy so good. However the last episode Tomorrow is a perfect example of a good end of season cliffhanger, with the final scenes cutting between Cordelia ascending to heaven and Angel sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

While it's not my favourite season, it still has plenty of cool goofiness, best summed up by the manifestation of a loa (a voodoo spirit) in the form of a 'Mayor McCheese' style burger mascot. It only makes sense... in a Neil Gaiman type way modern human worship would be concentrated in corporate mascots.

Classic quotes:
“By the way, baby formula and Kahlua--not as bad as it sounds.”
“He's really happy.” [starts to jab Angel in the back with a stake] “But not too happy, I hope.”

See Also:

Angel Season 2 Part 1
Angel Season 2 Part 2
Angel Season 3 Part 1

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Metal Cop Outrage

So as reported on such respectable news sources as, and Jeremy's blog, the vocalist of Auckland death metal band Dawn of Azazel has a day job as a cop.

The news has upset some people. “This guy's supposed to be a role model,” says Greygor Skullgrin, a spokesperson for the New Zealand metal community, “He's supposed to be telling kids to worship Satan and eradicate the weak, what kind of message does it send when he's associated with an unsavory operation like the Police Force?”

The revelation seems to have already made an effect on the young metalheads who will form the metal scene of tomorrow. In a random poll of bored teenagers hanging around in carparks drinking stolen alcohol it was discovered that 'fucking shit up' had dropped to fifth on their list of priorities, down from second last week, while 'respecting your parents and trying hard at school' had risen from position twenty to eleven. 'I dunno... nothing I guess' remained steady at number one. “These results speak for themselves,” responds Skullgrin, “What kind of society are we creating where these kids mindlessly obey authority and aspire to become just another featureless slave-mentality cog in the consumerist christian totalitarian state?”

Police Minister Annette King attempted to allay concerns in a statement issued earlier today. “Despite the police forces reputation as a thuggish tool of the corporate Jew-ocracy, the truth is it actually has many values in common with the metal community,” the statement read, “such as an unsettling link with fascism, an enjoyment of kicking random cunts in the head, and generally acting like a big bunch of macho cocksuckers.”

This is the worst scandal to affect the New Zealand metal community since June 2004, when Darkmore Putrid, drummer of Black Symphonic Metalcore band Defilement of Innocence admitted to owning an Evanescence album.


Via Slactivist:

you are Nick Cave!
Nick Cave... dark and creepy. You're a bi-polar
genius, with equal passion for the most
degrading aspects of humanity, as well as the
beauty & wonder of God and Heaven.

Which fucked-up genius composer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Shit Day Out

So for the first time in eight years Ericson Stadium will not have the pleasure of my attendance at next years Big Day Out, on account of no one decent playing. The second (and last) announcement is mainly a bunch of local acts, hip-hop and dance stuff and the solitary metal act for next year: Mudvayne – the blandest nu-metal garbage to pollute the air waves this year.

So there's absolutely nothing I'm interested in this year, The White Stripes and The Mars Volta might be worth seeing, but they're not worth the ticket price, plane ticket and time off work for me. Most of the local acts that I like are playing down here at Southern Amp anyway, so that might have to be my consolation concert.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cool New Blog

Most of you have probably seen this anyway because Blogger has been featuring it on their side bar, but Google Video of the Day has some cool stuff on it. Make sure you check out Octopus Owns Shark.

Sort of Good News From Iraq

Evidence to suggest that maybe the invasion of Iraq might not have been a complete fucking mess if the people in charge had been competent here, via Arts & Letters.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Life Test

Thanks to Joel for another pointless test :)

My results are generally good but obviously rather dispiriting in that one area... but it did make me laugh when the second page was covered with ads for online dating.

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Random Link 2

So I randomly ran into this article on Ruthless Reviews denigrating Vice Magazine ("this super-subversive magazine for people who are into coke, hookers, partying really hard, being popular and wearing the right clothes"), and I got curious and checked it out.

Ruthless are more or less correct in their appraisal; it's more than a little juvenile, kind of a feral print version of that Something Awful/Old Man Murray 'we hate everything but we're only kidding' obnoxiousness which I often find quite tiresome, but at the same time I actually found Vice quite entertaining to browse through.

The guide to L.A. was very informative. I now know which bars have the easiest skanks, and their seven day bender article is amusing to read, although I don't know if I'd have the balls to go to all the places they mention...

Random Link 1

(via Making Light) The 10 Worst Jobs in Science 2005

(Number 3: Teaching Biology in Kansas)

The Sunday Lessons

When sifting on to a cute girl in a club, make sure you don't let Barnes open his mouth within earshot of her.

For Christ's sake, if it's 4 in the morning and you're having a crap night, just give up, go home and get a decent nights sleep for a change. Don't stay out for another two hours just out of sheer habit and stubbornness.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

These Romans Are Crazy

So it's not treasonous to say that you'd like to see a US city suffer a major terrorist attack, but only if you're a popular right wing political commentator.

How can anyone take these gas bags seriously?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sundripped Devils Scratched Out My Eyes

Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity

As I mentioned the other day, Dillinger Escape Plans' Miss Machine is the best album I've heard this year. Even now I'm still listening to it every day and still enjoying it immensely. Their previous full album Calculating Infinity is regarded to be their best by the smelly masses of the metal related internet, although I'm not inclined to give their opinions much weight as they often tend to be of the 'every band started selling out just after I heard of them' persuasion.

After hearing Calculating Infinity I can see why it is more popular. In general it's harder, faster and feraller than their later releases, although there are still some weird spooky ambient passages. It's an excellent album, but I prefer the more nuanced, varied approach of the other albums I've heard, as they develop their arhythmic noise assault in more interesting ways.

In the interview I linked to recently their vocalist assures us that Miss Machine is more complicated and harder for the other band members to play than Calculating Infinity, but their fans remain skeptical. On first impressions I'd be inclined to say that the fans are right, but after giving it some thought I think what's actually happened is a combination of slicker production and increased musical proficiency which just makes it seem like what they're playing is easier.

This album features their original vocalist Dimitri, who doesn't have the versatility of Mike Patton or the power of their new singer Greg, but is still quite competant, even if it would be nice if he changed to a different style other than 'full on throat shredding howl' once or twice.

While I definitely don't think it's their best album, these guys have never been less than brilliant, and for now I remain their salivating fanboy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Beneath the Waves

Isis – Oceanic

Earlier I said that Isis' Panopticon was the best album I'd heard all year. I guess it was a little premature to be saying in February, as since then I've decided I like Dillinger Escape Plan's Miss Machine better, but Panopticon is still pretty awesome.

Oceanic is Isis' first album. I was expecting it to be less accomplished than their second, and I was right, but it is the album that established their reputation and it's pretty good. By and large it is more or less identical to Panopticon in style: heavy, slow metal with a peaceful side. Most of the music is composed of heavy, somewhat Tool-esque riffs, but there are plenty of mellow, more ambient bits (some with nice female vocals). It makes a really good contrast.

The one place where this album really falls down is the vocals, the singer just doesn't have the power to do the cookie monster at this stage (by Panopticon he's got it down though). That's the only criticism I can make however, the other musicians are great and the composition is brilliant, I'm especially impressed with how the way they wrote heavy metal that evokes the sounds of the ocean.

Which leads me into the concept behind the album. All the songs have a ocean related theme (see the titles Maritime and From Sinking), and while it's a good idea this kind of thing is easy to fuck up and it pretty much depends on the lyrics. In this case they come awfully close to the line between cool and pretentious, and I'm undecided which side they're on, but seeing as I haven't looked at them in detail yet and I just dissed the guys singing I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. The other aspects of the concept are handled particularly well, the aforementioned musical touches, and the CD booklet which is pretty nice. You can't go wrong with pictures of the ocean, and indeed they reused a little of that idea in the art for Panopticon.

I picked up the remix album as well which probably wasn't a good idea. These things are very rarely worthwhile and it was quite expensive. It came on two discs and the first one (with the mellower remixes) is pretty good, especially Mike Patton's offbeat contribution. The second one (with the more aggressive tracks) is not so good, with most of them falling into the same stuttering style that I find quite annoying, so while there are some good tracks it's probably not worth getting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Repressed Childhood Trauma

I barely remember playing Megaman, but the first image on this page seriously gave me the shits, and the more I try and remember exactly why, the worse I feel.

Console games were a hell of a lot harder in the old days...

Conversations With Drunk Women

(A brief retrospective of the long weekend.)

Me: Listening to good music is better than sex.
A: Maybe you're just having really average sex.
Me: Maybe you just listen to really average music.


C: You know I'm a really shy person.
Me: [Rolls eyes] If you say so...
C: No really! I'd never dress this way if I was sober!
C: You'll tell me if I start falling out of my top right?

The Last Coil Album...

Will be released before Christmas. Featuring some stuff they completed just before Jhon Balance's death and some other stuff they recorded at Nothing Studios years and years ago.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Monday Lessons

As specially requested by Eddie:

Getting incredibly boozed two nights in a row and then eating an entire large gourmet pizza for dinner the next day is a recipe for dramatic illness.

1969 in the Sunshine

Boards of Canada – The Campfire Headphase

Boards of Canada's signature sound has remained fairly static over their three albums. Peaceful, groove based electronica perfect for listening to on a warm summers day, it's the farthest thing from my normal listening tastes, but these guys have a genuine gift for making relaxing, upbeat songs and their skilled musicianship is strong enough to appeal even to me.

Musically The Campfire Headphase is slightly different to it's predecessors. Firstly there are no vocal samples on the entire album. Also to my ears it has a slightly more organic sound, with guitar, piano and acoustic drumming being used more than on the previous releases, but nothing to give anyone a big surprise.

Their previous album Geogaddi is a real classic, and unfortunately The Campfire Headphase doesn't quite live up to it. Two or three tracks match it's catchiness but the rest are fairly forgettable. It's still worth listening to, but for some reason it lacks the appeal of the earlier albums.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Feast for Crows

by George R.R. Martin

A little background: George Martin released the first book in his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire in 1996, with the next two installments following in 1999 and 2000, the latter of which ended on a series of dramatic cliffhangers. His dedicated fans then waited not so patiently for another five years to find out what happened. Coincidentally enough, the next book, A Dance of Dragons, was supposed to take place after a five year break from the end of the third book. Martin changed his mind however, and announced that an extra book, A Feast for Crows, would cover the five year interim. As it happens Martin still hasn't finished what he intended to be the fourth book of the series, but as it was getting so large he decided to split it into two. A Feast for Crows covers half the characters over the five years, with A Dance of Dragons (hopefully forthcoming next year) chronicling the remainder of the plotlines over the same period of time.

So after such a long wait there this book carries the weight of a lot of expectations. Especially seeing as the series has grown more complicated and slow as it goes on, leading some to worry that he might have come down with a bit of Robert Jordan syndrome. Those criticisms are neither confirmed nor mollified by this latest volume. While not a lot happens compared to the earlier books, it's still miles ahead of Jordan's snooze fests, and considering that this was a book he originally didn't intend to write the lack of action isn't that surprising.

I did start to have misgivings about half way through the book. The three characters that this volume focuses on are some of the blander in the series, and there's not that much excitment in their storylines. However the beginning of the novel resolves a few of the outstanding cliffhangers (which is a bit of a relief after five years of waiting) and the end of the book perks up considerably, dropping a few unexpected twists and surprising revelations, and of course introducing a bunch more cliffhangers.

Martin's strengths continue to serve him well in this volume. His characters are as always very well drawn and he uses magic sparingly in comparison to other fantasy writers, who often turn it into a stupid gimmick. His prose style is sparse and direct, but this doesn't hinder him at all as it is a very action oriented story. The one strength Martin does away with in this installment is his passion for bloodthirsty violence. As I said there is less action than in earlier volumes, but fortunately he makes up for it by upping the frequency of dirty sex scenes. Good work George!

Some more plot specific speculation, arranged by character, for anyone who has read the book: SPOILERS! - Highlight to read.

Brienne: So is she dead? It seems a bit weird that he'd dedicate a third of the book to a character who's plot does nothing except kill off a few secondary characters and show us what happened to Catelyn (which we pretty much knew from the last books epilogue anyway) and The Hound. Plus there's some unresolved plot stuff with her and Jaime... so I'm betting she's not dead.

Jaime: This plot line was fairly interesting, if a little slow. The resolution of the seige of Riverrun was pretty cool, and quite unexpected. His final scene with Cersei's letter was damn good though...

Cersei: Easily the most entertaining plot thread. Martin's made a bit of a signature of the Big Betrayal Scene, and while Rob, Eddard and Tyrion's betrayals were so effective because they were so unexpected (at least on the first read, it's always cleverly foreshadowed when you read it a second time), Cersei's went in another direction. Every time I finished reading one of her chapters I was slapping my head in frustration at her stupidity, so that when it finally all came crashing down around her it was quite satisfying. Although again the exact manner of her downfall was a bit of a surprise. It will be interesting to see if we actually see her get it in The Winds of Winter or if it's the end of the road for her, but I guess we'll have to wait another five years to find out...

The Hound and The Mountain: Well I don't know what Qyburn has done with The Mountain, but from the sounds of things it sounds like he's gone Frankenstein styles... And I hope no one thinks the Hound is dead. I think Martin stumbled a little when describing his fate, making it a little obvious that we'll be seeing old Sandor again. (Was that him that Brienne sees digging a grave when she enters the monastery? What happened to his scars? Did the monks heal him?) My guess is that The Hound will live a quiet life at the monastery for a little while, until whatever The Mountain has become shows up for a bit of rape and pillaging, facilitating their final confrontation.

Ser Loras: I'm a little suspicious that we didn't see the seige of Dragonstone first hand, it would have been a good opportunity to show some action in a book that was somewhat lacking in that respect. Maybe there's something going on that we don't know about (perhaps Loras isn't dying at all, and has made a deal with Stannis' men in Dragonstone...)

Sansa and Myrcella: These two plotlines are no doubt important to the larger plot but were a bit dull in this installment. The cute playing around with the POV protaganists names annoyed me though.

The Ironborn: Fairly interesting, but ended just as it started to get good.

Arya and Samwell: The most interesting plot threads by far, a pity we couldn't see more of them but I guess there's not much more to tell at the moment. I was particularly blown away by the revelation at the end of Sam's last chapter that the Maester's are behind the death of magic, an unexpected but cool twist.

In general: No Jon! No Tyrion! No Bran! No Daenerys! I can't wait till A Dance of Dragons!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Whenever You See A Cop Beating A Guy...

Rage Against The Machine – Renegades

So after The Battle of Los Angeles came out Rage quickly released this covers album before breaking up. It's their least interesting album, but it's still better than you'd expect from a quick throwaway release.

They cover a wide variety of bands on this album, and it's impressive how they manage to make them all sound like Rage, from rap acts like EPMD to Bruce Springsteen. The best tracks are spread liberally across genres, Cypress Hill's How I Could Just Kill A Man and Bob Dylan's Maggie's Farm are two of the best, along with Beautiful World by Devo, which is surprisingly subdued (for Rage, not Devo).

Again, the songs are dominated by Zack's passionate vocals, the rest of the band seem to be practicing for their future of being a passionless backing tape for a shameless sellout, but never mind, the tracks are still cleverly interpreted and it's a good listen. Not quite as good a career ender as The Battle of Los Angeles but worthwhile nonetheless.

See also: The Battles of Los Angeles and Evil Empire

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wacky Search Referral Day

"young boys huge cock fucking hardcore" does your mother know you're looking at this stuff

And of course our ongoing favorite subject: "chloroform sleep video clips" and "knocked out with real chloroform videos clips"

Posting may be light this week, Civ4 arrived in the mail today.

Monday, November 07, 2005

War Within A Breath, It's Land Or Death

Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles

I think I like this one even more than Evil Empire. In a lot of ways it's quite similar to that album, as opposed to their first album. The songwriting is as strong as Evil Empire and Zack's lyrics have improved a lot, being a lot more evocative than what I'd normally associate with rap metal (although of course in terms of content he continues to spin off the far left end of the political spectrum). On the other hand it's not as consistent as Evil Empire, while there are some excellent songs, such as Sleep Now In The Fire, Ashes In The Fall and Maria, there are also a few average ones, like Voice of the Voiceless and New Millennium Homes.

There's also a bit of a lack of passion from the band (other than Zack), possibly hinting at their impending breakup. Tom Morello still pulls out some awesome solos, but others sound like they're there just for the sake of it. His 'crazy noise' style, while brilliant on the first two albums, is getting a bit old by now. I think maybe he needed to move away from the gimmicks and concentrate more on the melody (which he eventually did on Renegades and the Audioslave stuff).

These criticisms are fairly minor though. Overall it was a pretty good note for them to end on.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Oh No! Goggalor Is Headed For The Orphanage!


After spending most of my gaming time this year slogging through dense, complex RPGs like Final Fantasy X, Arcanum and Anachronox, it was nice to play a goofy action game for a change.

Psychonauts is a fairly typical platformer at its heart, the gameplay is based around shooting baddies, collecting powerups and fighting bosses. What sets it apart is its creative premise. You play Raz, a young boy studying to become a Psychonaut, which is a kind of psychic superhero capable of entering other peoples minds. Naturally before you get too far into the game all the adults at your training facility have found themselves in trouble and it's up to you to save them. As you go through the game you level up and gain different kinds of psychic abilities, levitation, pyrokinesis (all the kids in the facility show a perverse eagerness to set things on fire...) and invisibility. None of these features are that original, but the developers (Double Fine, featuring Tim Schafer (formerly of Lucas Arts) and one of the dudes who used to run Old Man Murray) execute the gameplay perfectly, and it's a total joy to play from beginning to end. As a whole the game has a reasonable amount of replay value, and the difficulty is well balanced. It took me about two weeks to finish it, playing for about an hour a day.

While I was initially put off by the 'kiddie' style of the graphics and story, the game quickly won me over. The level design is truly brilliant. In one sense the game takes place entirely in the training facility (which is is in appearance identical to an American kids summer camp out in the wilderness), but throughout the game you physically enter the minds of the other characters and explore their subconscious'. The first few levels are the tightly controlled psyches of your instructors, but later on you visit some more interesting places. At one point you enter the brain of a sea monster, which appears as a tiny city inhabited by small versions of the monster. This level is pretty much just a big Godzilla spoof, and I found it to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a game.

Thinking they'd never top that I was delightfully surprised that it just got better in the next area, a mental asylum filled with crazies whose brains need sorting out before they'll help you. These levels include the mind of a conspiracy theorist, whose pysche appears as a peaceful neighbourhood inhabited solely by little girl scouts protecting a messianic/eschatological figure called The Milkman and government agents inadequately disguised as various normal neighbourhood figures (“I am working in the roadcrew. That passing woman has large breasts”). Later on there's the mind of a Spanish artist, which appears as a maze of little streets in a mediterranean looking town, for some reason all done in black velvet (vaguely reminiscent of Grim Fandango). The streets are menaced by a giant demonic bull, the story behind which is actually quite good.

There are a few nitpicks I could make about the game. The cutscenes go for too long, and don't really live up to the humour of the actual game. The music isn't very good either, being quite generic movie soundtrack stuff. But overall I can't say enough good things about this game. It's short and lightweight, but makes a great diversion from my 'serious gaming'.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Part Of Me Feels Sick, A Part Of Me Feels Sore

Deftones – Adrenaline

After having my interest in the Deftones rekindled by their new DVD, I decided to fill the last gap in my collection of their back-catalogue by picking up their first album Adrenaline on a recent consumering binge.

There's a reason it's taken me so long to get this album; whenever I've heard it before it just didn't seem that good. But after giving it a few serious chin-stroking listens I've come to the conclusion that, while it is their weakest album, it's still pretty good.

The main problem with the album is that every song, while good on its own, has pretty much the same style and vibe. Plenty of good albums have been written despite suffering from the same shortcoming, but unfortunately at this early stage their song writing skills haven't advanced far enough to pull it off. Their gentle side, which makes them stand out from their nu-metal peers, hasn't really manifested itself yet, and the songs are just one full on thrash fest after another.

But having said that, they're really good full on thrash fests. Chino's vocals are as intense as ever, and you'd have to be deaf not to want to rock out every time you hear Seven Words or Lifter.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Random Fanfic

Sarcastic fanfic about lame subjects has been around for a while, and I pretty much thought it had exhausted all potential for amusement when someone wrote Minesweeper fanfic, but this Tetris story is quite clever.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Sunday Lessons

1) Don't take a tactical puke right after eating a pie. Not only is it a waste of a good pie, but it does you no good because only the pie at the top of your stomach gets regurgitated while the alcohol which is making you sick remains where it is.

(And throwing up undigested food is quite unpleasant. Kind of like taking a shit out of your mouth. It actually put my jaw out.)

2) The Rocky is dead, long live the Rocky.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jon Tells You What To Think, Part 4

Yeah I know, I haven't posted one of these for like six months, but I haven't forgotten about it, I've just been too lazy to write one up. So here's another bunch of my favorite albums, numbers ten through six.

(see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

10: A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms

The first time I heard this album I was dead drunk, and it completely blew me away. Maybe if I'd been sober it wouldn't have had quite so much of an effect on me, but there's no denying it's a brilliant album. A lot of people were disappointed when it first came out because it didn't sound like Tool (a silly expectation if you ask me, there's only one guy whose a member of both bands, and there wouldn't be much point in him being in two bands that sound the same), it's in the same broad genre of alternative metal but with a more gentle, melodic side.

Judith is their most popular song (probably because it's one of the heaviest tracks), and it is damn good, but my favorite has to be Three Libras, a sad, beautiful song which remains at the top of my favorites playlist even after four years. (It's got an awesome video too.)

9: Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine - The Ironman

I have to thank Joel for randomly chucking this one at me one day and saying “I think you might like this”. Dr. Kevorkian is more or less the solo project of one Jordan Reyne, and it has a kind of ambient industrial style that might be classified as Darkwave. This album (the first under the name 'Dr Kevorkian', but not Reyne's first album) is dark, haunting and beautiful, but also with a heavier side. The music itself is simply inspired, which caused me to overlook the lyrics for a long time, but once I did get round to reading them I was very impressed with them too. It's easy for people to make fun of goth music, but this album takes the genre and does everything perfectly, where so many other musicians have been let down by their overblown pomposity.

8: The Doors - L.A. Woman

After a string of commercial disappointments The Doors' final album was hailed as a return to form, although sadly Jim Morrisons' death was just around the corner so we'll never know what they might have gone on to from here. Still, it's a damn fine note to leave on (even Ray Manzarek pretends that their two post-Jim albums don't exist), the quiet, mystical album closer Riders on the Storm remains (justifiably) one of The Doors' most well known songs, but the rest of the album is just as good, roving through all sorts of different styles. The opening track The Changeling is very 70s rock (complete with wah guitar), and many of the other tracks have a strong blues influence. Love Her Madly, the obligatory attempt to recapture the success of Light My Fire present on all of their albums, is by far the best 'catchy single' song they ever did, even better than Light My Fire. But my favourite track is Hyacinth House, a slow, sad but not depressing song.

Jim's lyrics are as usual pretty cool, in a very acid induced kind of way. The W.A.S.P. (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) is probably one of his best songs ever,

“I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft/ We have constructed pyramids in honour of our escaping.”

7: Coil - Musick to Play in the Dark

Coil produced far more than their share of brilliant albums over the years, but Musick is widely regarded as one of the finest. It's one of their more ambient, moody products, and also one of their most accessible, (even my mum asked for a copy). There's not a whole lot of craziness here, which is perhaps it's only defect, but instead we have six finely crafted ten minute songs, each of which exhibits a different kind of melancholic but trippy ambiance.

My favourite track is probably Red Queen, although many others come close. A bass drone and a warped jazz drum beat provide a menacing rhythm, and Jhon Balance darkly intones his lyrics while a ghostly piano improvises over the top. It's a very spooky song, truly suited for playing in the dark...

6: Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine -The Loneliest of Creatures

Hey look! It's these guys again! On the second Dr Kevorkian album, the music becomes almost completely ambient, which would have struck me as being a bad idea before I heard it, as one of the first album's strengths was it's tight songwriting, but the result is absolutely brilliant.

The album has a potentially very pretentious concept behind it; it follows the journey of a deep space probe which has lost contact with earth. Fortunately they don't push it too hard, and there are very few lyrics on the album, so it's mostly just mood. The album makes good use of space oriented samples, such as radio transmissions and in one particularly well composed track, the electromagnetic waves given off by the Earth translated into audible sound. Over the top is the odd spoken word vocal or sad violin. Underneath it are a wide variety of menacing bass drones. You can't go wrong with a good long bass drone!

So, come back in about another six months for the next installment.