Posted on April 29th, 2012
Time to check your bandwidth, because a special All Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Punisher! President Obama once again killed it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I didn't think he could top his awesome performance last year, but he came really close. Except... was I the only one who kept seeing a skull shape when his shirt was eclipsed by the microphones? At first I thought that it was proof positive that he was, in fact, not a Secret Muslim... but instead a Secret Satan Worshipper! And then... then... it came to me. it's not Satan... it's The Punisher!
I may not always agree with his politics, but I really do like our president. He's a good guy doing a tough job the best way he knows how... all while under constant attack by people who have no respect for his office or our country. If you haven't seen his speech, it's pretty damn funny and well worth watching...
• Election! I don't think there's any question that Mitt Romney will most definitely not be getting my vote. What is in question is whether or not President Obama will get my vote. Right now, I honestly don't know. If he starts caving on things like CISPA and equality, I have no problem with a write-in vote like I've done before when both candidates suck. Otherwise, it's kind of his vote to lose. All that being said, I am kind of enjoying Obama's latest round of ads: "Mitt Romney vs. Reality" where he takes his old footage to address Romney's bullshit pandering. Genius. Romney comes off looking either uninformed or a liar, while Obama dings him without going negative...
It will be interesting to see where Romney's campaign goes now that he's running for president instead of candidacy. Because, I gotta say, his ads always seem more embarrassing than informative or compelling. The guy is so awkward and detached that his every appearance seems to be a reason why he shouldn't be president. He needs an ad team that can work this out... fast.
• Houdini! I stopped watching MTV a long time ago. They used to be all about music, but now all they give a crap about is stupid shit like Jersey Shore which I wouldn't watch if my life depended on it. The upshot being that I don't see many music videos anymore. Not that it's a big loss... most music videos suck ass these days. But I do follow Foster the People, and their latest video for my favorite song (Houdini) off their last album (Torches) is really good...
Creative, funny, well-executed, and fitting to the song. Doesn't get much better than that.
• Old! A year ago, somebody asked a question that has been burning up the internet this past week... "What are the Windows A: and B: drives used for?" Since I was around when computers went consumer mainstream, I remember all too well about things like modems, data cassettes, BBSs, and yes... floppy disks for your A: and/or B: drive. I also remember VHS tape, Pong, record players, and... heaven help me... rotary telephones...>
It's not that I feel particularly old over it all... the technological advances over the past 30 years have been astoundingly fast... it's what we're in for over the next 30 years. Just as the iPhone bears -zero- resemblance to the rotary phone, I'd imagine the "phone" of the future will be an even bigger departure from iPhone. It's at that point that I really start to feel my age. Oh well. I honestly think that the limitations that my generation had to put up with from technology made it more fun than the sheer magic we get from technology today, so there's that*.
• Ridley! When it comes to movies this year, I'd have thought it would be impossible to top my excitement for The Avengers, but Ridley Scott's offering, Prometheus, does exactly that. The new international trailer has me aching for a good science fiction movie...
June 8th can't get here fast enough.
And now I suppose it's time to put away YouTube so I can get some real work done.
*Oh who am I kidding? I would have killed to have had an iPhone back in the 80's, and everybody knows it.
Posted on December 30th, 2011
2011 was an interesting time for music. I swear that I spent more time rediscovering old stuff than trying anything new. When I did try something new, it was usually to get hooked on an awesome single only to be disappointed by the rest of the album (I'm looking at you, Grouplove!). This got really tiring after a while, but that's what happens when none of your favorite bands release an album that year! Still, there were some noticeable highlights on the album front, and I've got my top six right here...
#1 Torches by Foster The People.
It's odd when you've been following a band only to have them hit the big time. I remember heading to Seattle to see Mother Love Bone (which morphed into Pearl Jam) and Nirvana play before the whole "Grunge" scene exploded, and it was both wonderful and horrible at the same time. On one hand you're overjoyed that a band you like has found success... on the other hand, you have trouble finding tickets to see them perform! Foster the People kind of flew under the radar for a while, but I became a massive fan from the very first time I stumbled across them on the internet. And look where we are now. Sold out shows everywhere they go. In the end, I can't really blame people for loving the band, because the eclectic influences Mark Foster incorporates into his music makes everything sound so new and fresh. Their debut album incorporates the songs from their awesome EP and adds even more musical genius to make Torches my favorite album of 2012. Yeah, it's overplayed, but Pumped Up Kicks is such genius that it never gets old.
#2 Holy Ghost by Holy Ghost.
Holy Ghost hit my radar last year when they did a "Battle EP" vs. Friendly Fires. In my humble opinion, they won hands-down with their cover track Hold On despite my being a big fan of Friendly Fires. But who in the heck was "Holy Ghost?" I'd never even heard of them before. Then their self-titled debut was released and the only thing that mattered was that I know who they are now. This album is lethally infectious and jam-packed with catchy 80's-flavored pop singles that never leave your head. As if that weren't enough, they got Michael McDonald(!) to collaborate on one of the tracks! The only real criticism I have is that some of the songs have repetitive bits that can drive you crazy. Slow Motion is almost unlistenable it's so bad. Hold My Breath has fucking amazing music, but the ever-repeating "I took some money from the joint account" line is irritating as hell and makes little sense. But, that's Holy Ghost for you, for better or worse. Regardless, the minute I start up the album and hear that intro beat for Do It Again, I'm hooked all over again... which is why this is my #2 album for 2012.
#3 Wasting Light by The Foo Fighters.
My favorite FF album is their self-titled debut and I played the shit out of it back in 1995. Alan Wilder had just left my favorite band of all time (Depeche Mode) and it was the Foo Fighters who came to my rescue in a time of musical crisis. Seven albums later, along comes Wasting Light to remind everybody what a rock album sounds like. While not quite on the level as the more commercial tracks I love, it's nice to hear Grohl & Co. moving forward. Sure there's catchy favorites like Walk and Rope as you'd expect... but there's also raw, blistering tracks like White Limo to keep things interesting. I've come to assume consistently great work from the Foo Fighters, but it took something different to make me really appreciate them as a band all over again. In addition to amazing music, Foo Fighters have some of the best videos ever. The intro for Walk goes on a little too long, but I love it anyway because it sets up the song so wonderfully.
#4 Last Night on Earth by Noah & the Whale
I'll be straight with you, this album isn't going to set the world on fire. It's an acceptable blend of pop and folk that is a pleasant diversion from the standard radio fare, and that's about it. Except... some of the songs are so beautifully executed that I find myself playing Last Night on Earth far more than I normally would. When I was preparing this list I was plenty shocked at the play counts I'd racked up in iTunes. It's almost as if I play it non-stop, which I probably do when I'm working. Reason enough to have this as my #4 for 2011.
#5 Panic of Girls by Blondie
Their last album left me sick with disappointment, so I was reluctant to hop on the Blondie bandwagon again... but boy did they deliver with Panic of Girls! This is a terrific album and a decidedly more mature effort than their early works. I love that the sound for each track is subtly eclectic and interesting... but also so uniquely "Blondie" sounding. Nice to know that Deborah Harry can still belt out a song with the best of them... I'll take her over Adele any day of the week.
#6 Days by Real Estate
Bordering on "easy listening," this album filled with hazy dreamy drifting songs that sparkle just enough to keep you awake. That may sound like a bad thing, but there are times when I'm working or driving that this is exactly what I need in the background of my life.
And before I go...
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR!
The Murf by Rendezvous.
Though, quite honestly, this could very well be the best music video of the decade...
Amazing. Just amazing. I've watched it dozens of times and see something new each time. BOW DOWN BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY SQUID YOU WHALE-WORSHIPING BLASPHEMERS!
SINGLE OF THE YEAR!
Midnight City by M83.
This innovative musical dreamscape that combines a lot of distinctly different elements into a really sweet track had me really excited for the album it came from, Hurry Up We're Dreaming. Unfortunately, the other songs there didn't grab me enough for the album to make my list. Still, the video is pretty darn cool...
I could have just as easily dropped Tounge Tied by Grouplove here. Amazing single, not so amazing album.
And that about sums it up. I'd list my "Worst Albums of 2012," but I never really latched on to anything truly bad this year. I suppose I could ask "What happened to The Decemberists with their new album "The King is Dead?" What's with the twang? Have they gone country? Have they gone INSANE? A huge misstep that may have cost them a fan... but still, there were nice bits too, so it's not like I could even label it as one of the "worst" I had heard this year.
I guess Lady Gaga could get the honor since Born This Way was pretty shitty. It was supposed to be some kind of gay anthem, but she ended up mocking the people she professed to be helping by putting bones on her face and shoulders then giving birth to herself from a giant egg. Well, baby, nobody is fucking born THAT way. All you did was turn yourself into exactly the kind of freak that simple-minded morons already label the gays with, which means the people who could have been influenced by your music were turned away. If you truly wanted to make a difference, you should have put your "art" on the back burner and sang the songs in jeans and a T-shirt or something. But still, her heart was in the right place and I'm guessing she managed to touch those she intended to lift up with her music, so I guess it's not so terrible after all? I dunno.
Anyway... here's hoping that next year all my favorite bands are back with new material in 2012 so I'll have an easier time making my list next December.
Posted on October 9th, 2011
Oog. Bullets will have to wait a day since there's only ten minutes left in my Sunday.
Just got back from Foster the People's sold-out gig in Seattle. I've been a fan ever since Pumped Up Kicks first starting going viral on YouTube. Of course, back then they were practically unknown, but that's far from the case now... heck, they were even on Saturday Night Live last night (with special guest Kenny G!).
The band puts on a really good live show, I just wish the venue had been better.
Oh well. I had a good time, so I guess that's what really matters.
Foster the People has teamed up with the Do Good Bus, which was parked out front.
Tomorrow it's back to reality after two-and-a-half weeks of big fun.
Wish me luck.
Posted on February 13th, 2011
At 2:30am I ended up playing chauffeur to the hospital ER. While I was waiting, I saw a guy walk in holding one of his fingers that had gotten cut off. Holy crap. I could so not work the reception desk at an ER. I do not do well when people show up holding body parts. Or The bubonic plague.
• Debloggered. I've been noticing for quite a while now the long, slow, steady decline in blogging. It's a little depressing, but I didn't know how depressing until I was bored in the hospital waiting room and decided to edit my feed reader. It turns out twenty-eight of my feeds ended up getting deleted because they haven't been updated in over six months. Twenty-eight! I can't be sure, but I probably deleted close to that many a year ago. A few of the deleted bloggers I keep in touch with via Twitter or Facebook, so I guess that's okay. But there are others who apparently dropped off the face of the earth. A few left with a sad "this is my last entry" post, whereas others just... stopped.
A classic example is an expatriate who decided to move to Korea for a year so he could experience life in another country before getting his PhD. I found his blog during my third trip to Korea when I was Googling for... something... and kept reading because he was an interesting guy living an interesting life who had similar thoughts and hobbies (comic books!) to mine. Eventually he fell in love with a Korean girl, got married, ended up staying in Korea five years, got accepted at a school back in the USA, moved into a new apartment here with his wife, and then the entries just... stopped. It's so strange to have been a part of somebody's life for years and then =BLAM!= you have no idea what happened to them or how they're doing. I ended up doing some Google-stalking, found the guy on Twitter, then sent a request... but since I never commented on his blog, he doesn't know me and will probably ignore it.
It's the same story for a few other blogs I once followed. You get caught up in somebody's life, feel like you know them, then one day they're gone and you're left wondering. Now, granted, it's not like a blogger owes anybody anything. If they decide that blogging is no longer something they want to do, then that's all there is to it. But, even so, it's a little bit cruel. And a little bit curious. I wonder how many people would notice (or even care) if tomorrow I just... stopped?
• Fosterized. Last summer a song called Pumped Up Kicks by an unknown band called "Foster The People" was creeping through the blogosphere, infecting people wherever it landed. The song was contagious in a way that's truly rare... slamming through a catchy beat and even catchier nonsense lyrics that still haunt me months later. The odd thing being that the band was practically invisible, and finding any new material past their one song was nigh impossible. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only did they finally release a video for Pumped Up Kicks, they also unleashed an EP with three songs on iTunes (including Houdini, which has become permanently implanted in my head). Apparently an album is on the way. I'm hoping it sucks, because I don't know how I will be able to function with more than three awesome Foster The People songs constantly looping through my head...
• Branded. And so Russell Brand hosted Saturday Night Live last night. Compared to most recent episodes, it wasn't bad. But with the exception of Brand's monologue, Jay Pharoah's flawless Eminem impersonation, and a faux ad-spot for an offensively British movie called Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro, it just wasn't that funny to me. By the time we got to the heinous A Spot of Tea sketch, I wanted to impale myself on my remote just to end the suffering. Surely even the people involved can't think this crap is in any way funny? Here's hoping Miley Cyrus manages to somehow have a good show in two weeks despite all evidence pointing to doom. Wow. If Hannah Montana can't make for a good episode of SNL they might as well hang it up.
• Weathered. Well, poop...
• Microsofnokia. Nokia, once the final word in mobile phones, has been sliding into irrelevance for years. First Blackberry skewered them in the business market. Then iPhone and Android served them their head in the personal smartphone market. In every way that matters Nokia was dying a slow death, never to be heard of again.
And then... Stephen Elop, a former Microsof employee (and Microsoft's eight largest shareholder), became CEO of Nokia. After a brutally honest critique of Nokia's complete lack of ability to compete in the market, Elop announced that Nokia was dumping pretty much everything and hitching its wagon to the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 train. It was spectacularly brilliant and evil. For all intents and purposes, Nokia was now a hardware division of Microsoft. For which Microsoft paid nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero dollars. When I first mentioned this, people called me a wingnut Microsoft-hating conspiracy theorist. And now another former Microsoft employee of sixteen years, Chris Weber, has just been installed as CEO of Nokia USA.
Get out your tinfoil hat!
I'd congratulate Microsoft for dropping to an entirely new level of evil, but I don't think this is going to make much difference. All they've done is ensure that what few manufacturers were making Windows Phone 7 handsets will now be embracing Android 100%. Good thing Microsoft has a lot of money, because that's about the only thing that's keeping them in the smartphone game. Alas, the same can't be said for Nokia. Since Microsoft has no financial interest in the company, they also have no risk. If this massive gamble doesn't pay off, Nokia is done for.
And let's not fool ourselves here, Nokia is done for.
UPDATE: Or billions. Whatever... this doesn't end well.
And on that sad note, I suppose I should try to get some work done before this weekend is over.
If only I could wake up...