Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Huron Carol

I've been listening a great deal to the Crash Test Dummies Christmas album, Jingle all the way..., and it's great. A Christmas carol I had never heard of ends the album, it's entitled The Huron Carol. The music is beautiful and the vocals of Ellen Reid with backup by lead singer Brad Roberts makes for an amazing melody that I had never heard before. The Huron Carol is a traditional Canadian Christmas hymn according to Wikipedia it was "...written in 1643 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Canada." He wrote the lyrics to a traditional French song in the native tongue of the Huron/Wendat people he was living with. Also, instead of using traditional Christian terminology to discuss the nativity, Brébeuf used imagery and words which would make sense to the people he was preaching. In the early 1900s, the lyrics were translated into English in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton. The lyrics weren't so much translated as they were altered to use early 1900s imagery to discuss the nativity. The Crash Test Dummies used the 1926 lyrics, which is traditionally sung in Canada.

One of the striking aspects of the song, besides the imagery of Jesus wrapped in rabbits skin and pelts brought by the wise men, is the use of the traditional Algonquian name for God, Gitchi Manitou. If you are interested in a new Christmas carol that most Americans have never heard before, check out The Huron Carol. It's filled with an interesting history and a beautiful tune.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

In one of the greatest advances in comic strip history, a man decided to create a comic...that took Garfield comics and removed Garfield, the character. What remains is an esoteric look at single life from the perspective of lonely and mildly depressed John Arbuckle. It also makes you realize that Garfield was always thinking his responses to John Arbuckle...so John was always talking to himself anyway...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Measured Out with Coffee Spoons

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Crash Test Dummies...well, just the album God Shuffled His Feet, and I've got to say...it's great.

The music is very well composed and no one sings quite like Brad Roberts. The songs are interesting and altogether creative. I find myself thinking about the oddities of the music as I sing along. If you, like me, remember the album from the early nineties and like many, only remember Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm...pick the album up again and give it another listen. From Afternoons and Coffee Spoons to the thought provoking The Psychic to the sexual confusion of Swimming in You Ocean. Try it out the album again, it's worth another listen...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Katy Perry's Ridiculous

Katy Perry doesn't want to be one of the boys, despite her current album title. The album I was able to pick up for $3.20. People will say a lot of things about this album. They will call it ridiculous, they will call it modestly homophobic, they will call it crazy pop. They will be right...ish.

The entire album feels like a crude satire on modern teen culture, making fun of slang, attitudes, actions, partying, etc. The songs range from the pop sensation "I Kissed a Girl" to the reflective "One of the Boys," which almost serves as a tomboy anthem. The album hits all aspects of pop music with Perry writing or co-writing every single song. It's one part Alanis Morissette, one part Avril Lavigne, one part Britney Spears (pre-"Britney's Back, Bitch"), three parts extreme satire.

Many of the songs can be taken as offensive, but I'm of the mindset that the album is satirizing all that's wrong with this next generation of teenagers. Perhaps Katy Perry isn't as clever as I give her and her production staff credit for. Perhaps she's just a little crude and just as bad as all those fools who use "Gay" to mean stupid/lame instead of it's true definition...happy or homosexual. If you want to enjoy some great pop music, check out some of the less than well known songs on the album like "Hot N Cold" or "Fingerprints." Will she ever get a second album? Who knows, but I do know that this album is fun...if not amazing. If Kelly Clarkson went ridiculous in her lyrics on My December, I could imagine it fitting in alongside this album...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Darius Rucker Does Country?

Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker had tried to go solo before...as an R&B artist, which flopped. Well, apparently he's trying again...this time with country music. The verdict? Listen for yourself on his MySpace page. I heard the song on country radio and said to my wife, "Have you heard this before, it's pretty good. I wonder who sings it." Then came the credits...Darius Rucker.

I can't wait to hear what else comes from this guy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

5 Funniest Buffy Episodes

Comedy Central points out the top 5 funniest Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. All great episodes, especially The Zeppo. Check it out.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dr. Horrible Teaser Trailer

Here’s a link to the teaser for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, the greatest mini-musical endeavor…hopefully. I’m already excited.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Puzzle Farter

Click the link. Try playing the game. Then answer me this...how is a game with a fish headed critter than flies around with his farts be this much fun?

HT to Rob

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ripeville

Ripeville has returned to the internets. Fun comic strip with anthropomorphic fruits and vegetables. Worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Buffy Reunion

Here's an article from IGN where a panel of former Buffy castmembers, writers, etc. all met together in an awesome way. Yes, this included Joss Whedon, Sarah Michelle Prinze, James Marsters, and even good old Seth Green. It seemed like it would have been an awesome panel to see...I wish I did.

Monday, June 9, 2008

How Jack & Bobby Could've Been Awesome

Jack & Bobby was a show a few months before the 2004 Presidential election. What was the premise? The lives of two boys named Jack and Bobby, the symbolism is not lost on the audience, are chronicled at present time and as a documentary of the life of a President McCallister. At the end of the first episode, you find out which McCallister boy was the President.

Now, the general concept was awesome. A show that went back and forth between the modern life of this future President and a documentary with interviews with those close to the President or who knew the President including Cabinet members, political opponents, and members of the media. It had promise, but instead it relied on terribly weak plot elements which turned it into something else entirely. This show could have been one of the best on television, ever. Instead...it failed and was canceled rather quickly. Here's how it could have been better.

First, never do a subplot involving the mother of the future President hooking up with one of her students. Ever. That plot was terrible, added nothing to the story, and added nothing to the characters. Have the mother continue to deal with her marijuana addiction in front of her children with no discussion of her job except that it begins to suffer because of it. She could have been a deep and intense character as part of the Jack and Bobby's lives without ever going much deeper into her job. Her job was unimportant, her relationship with her sons was. That needed to be developed more fully.

Next, do an entire string of episodes with from the opposite stance...start with the President dealing with a crisis and him looking back to specific moments from his childhood in brief flashbacks. Never lose the fact that this show is supposed to be about a man who will become President and how his current life molds him into the man he would become. Show the man he would become. Show how this Independent President changed America.

Also, they needed a set timeline to be established. This isn't a show that could go on indefinitely. It needed to be defined by clear cut events in Jack and Bobby's respective lives. Frankly, I think it should have been broken into a set of five seasons, each of them focusing in on a different portion of the President's life. Start as a child with the formative years around 2004. Jump to the end of high school. Jump to college. Jump to the beginning of his political career. And so on. Also, show the plot and the lives of the characters evolve over time. Each season can't end on a cliffhanger, either. It needs to be wrapped up in a bow in case the show ends then, giving the audience satisfaction that we know that much more about the future President's life.

My idea -- get Brian K. Vaughn, who writes the amazing Ex Machina, on staff and revamp this show from scratch. He's great at writing political dramas and could remold this show into something awesome.

That's it. I think with these tweaks and maybe some new writing, this show would have been amazing. Will my dream of seeing the history of future President Robert McCallister actually come true? I doubt it, but it'd be amazing to see happen.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Music I'm Looking For

If you decide you want to pick me up a CD or two for my birthday at the end of June...here's a few that I'm looking to find --
  • The Avalances -- Since I Left You
  • Jim Steinman -- Bad for Good
  • Deltron 3030 -- Deltron 3030
  • Beck -- One Foot in the Grave
  • Crush 40 -- Crush 40
  • Nick Lachey -- What's Left of Me
I'm sure there aren't that many looking for this information...really, it's mostly so I have a public record of the music I'm looking for to make sure I'm actually able to find it. But, here it is nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interesting Ozian Quandary

According to “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” the Princess and ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma, was transformed the a little boy named Tip as a baby by an evil witch Mombi at the direction of the Wizard of Oz. Mombi hid Tip for a while until Tip eventually escaped the witch’s rule and found out who he/she truly was…a girl, named Ozma.

This poses a serious question for Ozma. When the time comes and her Royal Highness wants to get married, how exactly does she tell her future husband, “Oh, by the way, I used to be a dude…”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Story Elements

I’m going to pretend for a moment that I’m Stan Lee around the time Marvel was just starting out. What did Lee do back in those days? He came up with an idea, a general premise for a story, and handed it to an artiest who put a preliminary product together and then Lee inserted the dialogue. So, I’m going to do the first part of that – collect some random story elements and post them. Here are a few –
  • Parallel to our world, a world of magic exists. A secret, international body called the “Council of Wizardry” has been helping to hide the world of magic from the non-magical world for centuries. Merlin, in 1990, had taken up an apprentice in secret by the name of Jonathan Modus. Why Modus? Modus has the highest magical potential that the world had ever seen. Merlin passes of natural causes in 1996. After a year or so, fending for himself and avoiding being conscripted by the Council, Modus changes magical history forever…by coming public with his magical powers.
  • America elected Ross Perot in 1992. Vice President Stockdale passes away in 1995 from the strains of the position, putting the sick war hero to bed earlier than he anticipated. Perot enters into 1996 after four years of relative peace and economic prosperity as the lead in all the polls. His Reform Party is being built nationally thanks to Pat Choate. And then…Perot is assassinated. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is thrust into the Presidency in March of 1996, throwing off the entire GOP primary and shaking up the entire world. This follows the story of three men, Newt Gingrich, Pat Choate, and Caleb Tollin. Newt, from the perspective of a man who just became Speaker of the House and is now dealing suddenly with the Presidency and an internal battle with his party to figure out what to do with the election. Pat Choate, who saw the vision of Ross Perot work from coast to coast and saw an emergence of a new party, now scrambling to organize his own national campaign for the Presidency as the party chairman and one of the few national figures in the party besides New York State Governor Tom Golisano (who barely won the Governor’s mansion of New York in 1994 with a stronger national Reform Party). And Caleb Tollin is an average voter in Virginia whose life is shaken by the assassination of the President and what happens to the economy and his life as this all happens to him in the background. It also chronicles how he votes in the end.
  • Create a musical that combines in a logical fashion the storyline and music of both Wicked and The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 musical movie edition). Some ideas include…the changing of Boq back to his novel persona and creating a new/picking a different Munchkin boy to be transformed into the Tin Woodsman; or show Fieyro and Elphaba reuniting in the Emerald City where the Scarecrow was reportedly made to replace the Wizard (according to the books) OR…perhaps have another Scarecrow in Fieyro’s place that Elphaba raises to follow Dorothy.
  • Confederate Zion story. For the background of this “alternate history” world setting, check here. The idea? Tell the story of the end of secession of New England from the perspective of a Confederate Ambassador to the US or UN and a Boston citizen who’s all in favor…perhaps a newspaper writer from the time period.
  • A Modern Templar story. The Templar leader dies of natural causes at the age of 75. Sir Caleb is asked by the new leader of the Templar Knights, Sir Ishmael, to go on a secret mission into Saudi Arabia to protect a small, Christian church from some bombing attempts. He arrives to find the church emptied with no one there. Caleb is then attacked from all sides by people who fight like Templar Knights. He fends the five attackers off and finds in the basement of the Church a shrine to Moloch. What Caleb uncovers is that Sir Ishmael is not what he seems; he had been using the power of the ancient deity Moloch to rise up in the Templar order and had sent those loyal to the late Sir Peter to their deaths. Caleb then seeks out proof to stop Ishmael from warping the Templar organization and perhaps to find a way to destroy the demonic source of Ishmael’s power.
So, anyone want to draw/write up any of my story ideas? Anyone find them interesting in the least…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More on Bones Season 3 Finale

So, I've been sitting and thinking again about the Bones Season finale, and I've had some more ideas on Zack and his joining of Gormagon. I know it may seem a little far fetched and maybe I'm thinking too far into it...but Zack doesn't make mistakes and had to know that they'd look at his results to try to figure out how to help him. So, the question is...did Zack get tricked by Gormagon because he has a weak personality and sometimes logic is able to be used to manipulate him...realized the flaw in his logic quickly and purposely became sloppy so that he'd be caught.

Notice that the moment they told him they figured it out, he was pretty quick to tell them exact details about Gormagon and where he's living. Yes, they had to "logic" it out of him...but perhaps he was just playing dumb and playing the "insanity" card already so that he could give them the information, go to a mental institution, and perhaps atone for his ridiculous sin. Maybe I'm thinking too much into this...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bones Season 3 Finale: Comments

I’m warning all those who watch Bones, this rant contains tons of spoilers for the season finale. That said, the season finale marked the end of an era for Bones and filled me with a bit of disappointment, not in the episode…but in a particular character and his betrayal.

The episode began with me and my wife yelling at the screen. It was Booth’s funeral, and the reactions from the team made it seem as though Booth had died. They all seemed to be actually mourning his death and it bothered me to no end. Booth was one of the two main characters. He was a practicing Roman Catholic who added soul to the dynamic duo of the series. He was personable and distant simultaneously and provided so much to the show’s dynamic that without him…the show would become rapidly boring. Then, during a salute to the departed, we see that one of the soldiers present was Booth. A sigh of relief came to us both. The interactions between the characters as they realized that Booth was alive were awesome and made for some great story. What followed was intense…and saddening to a fan of the show.

Gormagon showed up on the scene suddenly, dropping off the jawbone of a man. Throughout the rest of the episode, it’s cast that Dr. Sweets or Hodgins could be Gormagon’s apprentice and the case is made indirectly and directly by different characters and comments made by the two characters. Hints here and hints there, with an explosion and permanent injury of Zack…it became clear that Gormagon was among them and manipulating them all. That’s when the realization hits you; at the same time it hits Booth and Bones…its Zack. You think back throughout the entire episode and all the pieces fit together…Zack was a murderer and an accomplice to Gormagon. It shatters this circle and shatters the team to me. It makes logical sense and of all the people in the team, Zack could be manipulated through the use of logical arguments alone. His mind works in such an extremely logical fashion that if one can use logic arguments, they can convince him to do anything. That’s why Gormagon was able to draw him in. It makes sense…but it destroys the current dynamic of the team. Zack wasn’t the glue that held them all together…he was just another cog in the well oiled machine that was the “Squint Squad.” But, he meant so much to the team and after his character had become so well developed that viewers like me really liked Zack. We saw him evolve from a reserved young grad student, into a confident Doctor who had an amazing singing voice and was still socially awkward.

It’s disappointing to see him go, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the cast reacts to his departure, the search for his replacement, and how the replacement interacts with the cast. Part of me expected this Gormagon story to last longer…to extend beyond this season into the next in an interesting way with more hints being dropped that Zack or whomever was the Gormagon apprentice. But, it is what it is. The outcome may not have been what I wanted to see happen…but it was an excellent twist ending that instead of defying logic making you go, “WTF!” it followed the exact logical scheme that the show has used throughout and made the plot that much more interesting and engaging. Well played, writers of Bones…I look forward to the next season that will hopefully not have a strike in the middle of it to mess up the number of episodes. Want to see or learn more, catch up on Bones at Fox's website. You can stream a bunch of episodes off the web.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Emerald Reich: Part II

I previously posted the first three sections of my Emerald Reich story, a darker toned Sonic the Hedgehog fan fiction. Here are sections 4 through 6 of this comic book that would have been...had I been capable of drawing. If you wish to know the backstory, go to the previous link before reading the following section. It's poorly written, I warn you...but I find it interesting.
Part 4: Worlds Collide
(Robotnick is seen from behind. He is shown from the back and is surrounded by 9 computer monitors showing all different rooms, filled with robots. One showing a large skeleton-like robot being built, the rest are fairly generic).
Robotnick: Let me see, (Show his face as he says) Computer, connect me to myself.
(The middle most screen blinks off from whatever image it was and goes to that of Robotnick. He appears to be surrounded by all manner of machinery, and connected to it through a few tubes his head. For ease of reading, he shall be referred to in this section as Myself.).
Robotnick: (Zoom in on Robotnick’s face) How are the last humans and their (a pause, he looks down shaking his head) leader doing?
Myself: (Seen as the screen before Robotnick with no emotion in his face) They are gone.
Robotnick: (Show Robotnick’s face and arms open outward about as he smiles) Defeated and crushed, we are as efficient as ever.
Myself: (Zoom in on the screen itself, can see some of the tubing’s connected in more detail, the grotesque machinery behind him clenching onto some human that appears to be flailing about) No, not defeated, gone.
Robotnick: What?
Myself: They have left this world entirely. They have entered your realm.
Robotnick: (Zoom in on his face, he looks bewildered) He tessered! (Back to a rear view of Robotnick’s head with the screen before it). I shall find him here and destroy the remaining humans. Enjoy your world, myself.
Myself: I shall (he smiles and then the transmission ends).
(Robotnick’s chair spins around and he presses a button on the armrests of the chair).
Robotnick: Snively, come here. Apparently we have a new pest in our realm… (he presses the button again and zoom in on his face which is contorted into an evil smirk) And we need to create something to remedy this. (A zoom in on the middle screen with the surrounding ones still partially in view, you see the robotic skeleton standing and a fur being brought over to it). HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH!

Part 5: Cain
(You see Cain sitting in a chair behind a desk. Desk is very nicely kempt with a few papers in a neat pile, a letter opener, and a stapler. In front of the desk is a chair, its back is to the viewer. A light orange Echidna in a suit can be seen standing behind the chair)
Cain: I don’t understand how a majority of people support HIM.
(Pan around to the side, you can see both Cain and this other Echidna standing across from him. It’s a male Echidna named Leba. He has no facial hair, and has a lighter fur tone. He wears a white suit with a black undershirt and a white tie. His braids are pulled back with a band of sorts holding them together).
Leba: Yes, I can understand where you’re coming from.
Cain: I don’t dislike him as an Echidna, I dislike him as our leader, as a guardian.
Leba: (Still standing, zoom in on Leba, he has his hands out) I know, you’ve said this a hundred times before.
Cain: (Angrily slams his fist into the desk) He allowed the Master Emerald to be stolen and SHATTERED in the human realm.
Leba: (Zoom in on Leba, arms crossed as though thinking) Yes, he did. (Show Leba with his hands on the desk looking straight at Cain) But wasn’t he the one who entered into the human realm risking his hide so that he could return every single piece to Angel Island.
Cain: (Cain fidgets in his seat) True, but if he was a better guardian he would not have lost it in the first place.
Leba: (nodding as he speaks) Perhaps, but we’ll never know now.
(Zoom in on the door) KNOCK KNOCK
Cain: (Cain stands and walks Leba to the door while saying) I’m sorry Senator Leba, but I have another meeting right now.
Leba: (As they reach the door) Good bye, Cain. Oh, and Mother says she hasn’t seen you in ages…
Cain: (Pushing Leba out the door) Good bye (grumbles) my brother.
(Another Echidna enters the room, dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans. He’s a black Echidna with a scar over his left eye. It seems to have blended in over the years)
Black_Echidna: You wanted to see me sir?
Cain: Yes, Claudius. I have…business to discuss. (Door slams on viewers)

Part 6: From the Grave
(See an image of Sonic shocked in the throne room of Acorn)
Sonic: You?
(Show in a black robe, with the hood pulled back, Shadow the Hedgehog)
Shadow: Yes, it’s me.
(Sonic walks over, puts out his arm and the grabs Shadow, hugging him)
Sonic: It’s good to see you, my friend…it’s been too long.
Shadow: Yes it has, Sonic.
(Sonic pulls away and looks confused for a moment)
Sonic: Wait a second, how did you…didn’t you?
Shadow: (Shadow shakes his head) It matters not how I returned, all that matters is that I have…and I’m here to help (latter line with his hand on Sonic’s shoulder)
Sonic: King Acorn, do you mind if I speak to Shadow, alone?
Acorn: (Can be seen behind the two) By all means (He walks out)
Sonic: How did you get to this world?
Shadow: I came here. (Shadow says somberly)
Sonic: Ok…How is Earth? (Sonic looks questioning, but optimistic)
Shadow: Currently under the reign of Robotnick.
Sonic: What?!? But he’s here.
Shadow: Then he’s about to attempt to control both worlds, we can not allow that. I fled that world with the remaining humans. (Show the humans being led through a portal with Shadow’s head at the top, text alongside saying) I led them here, hoping we would find refuge. (Back to Shadow’s face, he appears almost sad) There are a good 200 humans here. They are the only ones I could find. We are the Secret Service and we plan to eventually take out Robotnick.
Sonic: How? (Zoom in on Sonic) If he was able to take over their world, how could we possibly defeat him here?
Shadow: I have no idea. (He sighs and hangs his head down)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fraggle Rock: The Movie

The Weinsteins have the rights to make a Fraggle Rock movie. Apparently the director of "Hoodwinked" is being connected as a probable director. With this and the new Muppet Movie in the works...Muppet fans seem to be in for a treat in the next few years. Ahh, the memories...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Jason Segel Does the Muppets?

Jason Segel, now famous for his roles in How I Met Your Mother and as the lead/writer of the hit film Forgetting Sarah Marshall...will now be working alongside director Nick Stoller to make a new Muppet movie. And news of it came out quite a while ago. How the heck did I miss this?

I'm already ridiculously excited.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Kelly Clarkson and the Pope MP3

HT to poster Helen who pointed me to NixMix...which has a downloadable mp3 of my American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, singing Ave Maria to the Pope. Thank you and enjoy.

If an official version comes along...I am so getting it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Testament

For those of you who read comics/graphic novels, it's time you pick up one of the most interesting books you'll read. It's entitled Testament. Written by Douglas Rushkoff, Testament offers an interesting look into the world of the Old Testament. I'm borrowing all of it piecemeal from a friend of mine, and it's been some of the greatest comic-reading experiences I've had. First, let me tell you a very little about Douglas Rushkoff. He's one of the founders of Open Source Judaism and is an extensive writer on non-fiction topics like faith and the entirely fictional.

Now, let's return to a discussion on Testament. Testament, as I mentioned previously, explores the Old Testament/Torah. Instead of merely addressing its stories and writing them in comic book forms, it shows the stories as taking place in a time-space continuum that is ever changing and always occurring. All things at all times are, to a certain degree, simultaneously occurring to God/the gods in the case of the story. In this case, these all things refer to the Biblical stories of Abram, Jacob, Adam and Eve, Joseph, etc and to a semi-futuristic tale about a new global currency and a group of hackers and misfit college students trying to change it all and fight this new system. The stories are compelling and Rushkoff's interpretation of these Biblical stories is incredibly interesting and insightful. Let's do this through a for instance...

Rushkoff interprets the story of the binding of Isaac differently than I've ever seen. Instead of a test from God asking Abraham to kill Isaac...it's more of a test of his old faith. Prior to Abraham following the traditional Judeo-Christian God, he lived his life as many in his land had before him...following the ways of the old gods, which included child sacrifices in such horrific means as perscribed by Moloch. Abraham had Isaac and was going to, in the classical traditions, follow the old gods' ways of child sacrifices so that their retribution may be held at bay. Instead, his God stepped in and stopped the ritual saying that this was not the way. Human sacrifices were to no longer be performed and an animal sacrifice would suffice. Abraham was internally torn between the old ways he understood and which worked for him and the new ways of his new God who had proven to be true thus far, despite him falling short. It's an interesting view and one which would be consistent with the writing of this section.

This also points out the acceptance that there may be other gods in the way the Old Testament stories are written. But as Adonai is the God of the Gods, the God above all others, and commanded His people to worship Him above anything else...so long as they do, it matters very little how many other gods exist.

This well written story/collection of stories spans much of the Old Testament and provides some amazingly well thought insight into The Bible and the nature of God. I'd suggest it for the religious and non-religious alike because even if you don't believe...it's so well written and so exciting that it's hard to put down.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kelly Clarkson and the Pope

The woman who still is my American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, sang an awesome combination of the Olde English and Latin versions of Ave Maria for The Pope during his visit to the US. Here's the video -- the sound quality of the video is very weak and if you a) know one that's better or b) know if Clarkson plans to record this tell me immediately.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Common Thread

What’s the common thread amongst these three songs – Meat Loaf’s "I'd Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)," Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and Celine Dion’s “It's All Coming Back to Me Now?”

Jim Steinman. The prolific writer/producer wrote and produced each one of these tracks, specifically tailored for the artists. Steinman is the creative mind behind the first two Bat out of Hell albums (he wrote half the songs on Bat out of Hell III…but had nothing to do with putting that album together) and produced/wrote a great deal of Bonnie Tyler’s vast career. His music is that larger than life, almost Operatic style of rock that is both moving and outlandish at the same time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jersey Girl

I don't care what anyone says -- I still love the movie Jersey Girl. It's a great, touching movie about a man and his daughter...and the interactions between people. Really, Ben Affleck isn't a bad actor...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

3 Wii Games

If I knew a person who was just getting a Wii, I'd have to go out of my way and tell them to get the following games. Stat.
  • Sonic and the Secret Rings - I gave a brief review of the game before, read that first. Basically, here's the deal with SSR -- it's fun, fast paced platforming action that gives you a great tutorial section to learn the ropes of the game AND has the equivalent to Mario Party with Sonic characters for a great multi-player mode. Not only that, the party mode is really easy to pick up and has proven to provide hours upon hours of fun for my 4 and 5 year old siblings...in addition to myself, my wife, and my 23 year old sister from time to time.
  • Wii Play - I get it, it's not the greatest game in the world, but hear me out. First, you get a new controller. Second, you get a fun, albeit too brief, shooting gallery game. Next, it's got a great 9-ball (billiards) game. Add on an awesome little tank game and it's already worth the 10 dollars more than buying a new controller alone. I haven't played it in a while, but I don't feel like I wasted any money on this game. Worth the price.
  • Super Paper Mario - Of all the games I list, not Super Mario Galaxy (which is amazing and perhaps one of the greatest games of all time) and not Super Smash Bros Brawl (which is incredibly fun, especially with groups), why did I pick Super Paper Mario? Super Paper Mario has some stuff that most other games don't -- an engrossing plot, amazing gameplay, replay value, and a ton of interesting stuff to explore. It's got exciting characters, humorous adventures, and great gameplay! It's shift from 2D to 3D and the different character powers/Pixls...including a few hidden ones, make the game awesome. I still go back to this game constantly trying to see if I can best the two Pits of 100 Trials. Why else did I include this game? It's cheaper than SMG or SMBB and is equally as much fun.
So, for the most bang for your buck -- these are the first three games I'd suggest picking up for any new Wii owner. Each one well worth the price of admission. If you want some more quick picks -- here're two that are bargain priced --
  • Link's Crossbow Training -- Fun, cheap, shooting game with better than you'd expect gameplay.
  • Balloon Pop -- Fun, puzzle game.

Riddle me This

Why is "Because I Got High" a stoner anthem? If you listen to the lyrics, it feels as though it's an anti-stoner song. The man goes from having a family...to being a paraplegic living on the streets because he got high. I never understood that.

Maybe I don't get it because I'm not high, because I'm not high, because I'm not hiiiiiiiigh.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Amazing Fortune Cookie

I got the following fortune cookie from Chinese food on Friday --
A nice cake is waiting for you.
I've been on the lookout ever since.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dr. Horrible

What do you get when you mix music, Joss Whedon, Neil Patrick Harris, and Nathan Fillion? Give up? I did too. Apparently you get Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. It hasn't started yet, but purportedly it's going to be a three part musical. Each part will be about 10 minutes long.

I think I'm ridiculously excited.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sonic Chronicles

I heard a while ago about a new DS RPG involving Sonic the Hedgehog. Now, I know the name...it's called Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. I want it, the moment it comes out. An RPG from Bioware about my favorite video game character on a handheld console I love...oh yes, I want it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

American Idol Covers

I haven't watched a full season of American Idol since season 1 and my true American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, won. I watched one episode of this season and I must say...the non-native Americans in the competition are great. In addition, there were some amazing covers this past week -- including Carly Smithson's cover of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and David Cook's cover of "Billie Jean," the Chris Cornell version.

If you use iTunes...use it now to spend the $1.98 and get these two tracks. Now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Brief Sonic & the Secret Rings Review

A lot of people have downplayed Sonic and the Secret Rings, and with it recently being $10.99 at Costco and on sale constantly elsewhere for $19.99, I want to point out that if you have a Wii and have any mild liking of Sonic the Hedgehog, you should get this game. Here’s a great review from The Tanooki for the game.

I’d also like to note that the party game mode is more in depth than I ever expected it to be – rivaling some of the older Mario Party games. I’ve seen my 4 and 5 year old sisters play this mode for hours at a time…and my 13 and 14 year old sister and brother (respectively) entranced by this mode for a few hours without even thinking of trying another game. It’s fun and the fact that the main game unlocks all manner of multiplayer stuff (including bonus characters and extra mini-games) makes it even more fun. Once more, if you own a Wii…and even mildly like Sonic, get this game now – it’s worth the rapidly lowering price of admission.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Random Smash Bros Brawl Post

Well, I love the new Smash Brothers game. Brawl is amazing and more than worth full retail price. It’s fun and easy to pick up with the four different control schemes…three of which I love and the fourth (just the Wii-mote) my sister has picked up and destroyed all manner of people with so don’t knock it. Here’s a random list of opinions on the game, based on a thread from Cheap Ass Gamer --
Favorite new character/Why?
Pit. He can fly, he's from an awesomely underappreciated game, and has a new, revamped feel while still being balanced when compared to the classic Smash Bros characters. Sonic’s a close second mostly because…I love Sonic the Hedgehog in an excessive sort of way.

Least favorite new character/Why?
Lucario. I never liked the way Mew-Two played in Melee and Lucario is no different. Lucas is a close second since, like Lucario, he plays like an old character (Ness) who’s control scheme I never liked.

Favorite new stage/Why?
WarioWare. It adds a whole new element of awesome to the gameplay. Plus, it emphasizes the new Wario from the WarioWare series as opposed to "Oooh, I'm evil looking Mario" Wario. The WarioWare games, to me, finally gave Wario a new identity as a character that I really enjoyed. This was a welcome addition for me. The Mario Kart stage was a close second, just because it's so much fun.

Least favorite new stage/Why?
Rumble Falls. An entire level where fighting is almost thrown out the window with how fast you just have to keep jumping up and up and up.

Favorite Final Smash?
Link. For pure looks -- when he pulls it off, it looks amazing and destroys your opponent.

Least favorite final smash?
Donkey Kong. The bongos? Come on.

Fav Assist Trophy?
Little Mac. Because I wish he was a playable character and this is as close as it gets. Little Mac made the most sense to revamp and bring into the game as a playable character – he’s a boxer! But, this is still a lot of fun to see him running around punching out my enemies.

Least favorite Assist Trophy?
Mr. Resetti. He's just as irritating as he is in Animal Crossing and it doesn't add enough to the game to seem worth it, to me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Tanooki

Here's a link to The Tanooki. I'm adding it to the very small list of links I have here. It's filled with awesome Nintendo specific news and randomness. Check it out.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Modern League of Extraordinary Gentleman

A friend of mine and I were discussing something he had initially come up with -- a modern League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. First, I'm linking his very detailed and very awesome modern League post. For those who don't know, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a group of classical literary characters that Alan Moore weaved together as a super team. But, in the meantime, I'll come up with my own idea for a League.
  • Mayor Mitchell Hundred (from Ex Machina) – Organizer of the group and current Mayor of New York City. He’s a political realist and a former superhero who’s leadership skills are…well, questionable at times. Imagine what Bloomberg’d be like if he were better looking, a former super hero, not independently wealthy, incredibly ballsy, and well…nothing like Bloomberg, I guess. Hundred adds some intrigue, great plot ideas, a base of operations, and an incredibly amusing personality that would mesh interestingly with the others. Imagine if this super team is a secret society based in NYC to protect the world from certain crazy dangers.
  • Willow Rosenberg (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) -- Willow is such an interesting character by the end of the series. She's a powerful female witch who has to balance her power after a very explosive addiction to magic that led her to madness. Willow's inner turmoil would add a great deal to the story, and her vast knowledge of the supernatural and technology make her a very strong addition to the group.
  • Shadow (from American Gods) -- Shadow is, more or less, a brawny character who has a soft spot that most don't notice. Besides the fact that Shadow is, to a certain degree, a god...that provides him with a bit of power. Add on his firsthand experience with the "American gods," the reserved character would add a bit to the plot of a new League. Shadow's mostly a wanderer, he could have found his way into New York on his own. That's where our organizer, Mayor Hundred, would find him.
  • Rubeus Hagrid (from the Harry Potter series) -- I feel that no modern version of the League would be complete without a character from the Harry Potter series. I chose Hagrid so that I can ignore the magic system entirely and because his character is incredibly knowledgeable with beasts, huge, and easily able to provide comic relief if necessary. The character's got a great personality and if anyone can eventually force Shadow out of his shell, it'd be Hagrid.
  • Ash Williams (from the Evil Dead series) -- After returning to the world following the events of the Army of Darkness, Ash thought he was getting a promotion in S-Mart. Instead, S-Mart was sold off to the Wal*Mart Corporation. Watching the TV on that same day, he notices a new exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York City...that includes the Necronomicon somehow. Not knowing how this happened, Ash goes to the City to warn the Mayor of the dangers and the possible threat of the Deadites.
  • Casey Jones (from TMNT) - Picture this -- the Turtles are drawn into an alternate dimension akin to feudal Japan in TMNT 3...imagine if they never returned. Being that kind of guy, Jones takes matters into his own hands and begins combing the streets of New York for crime. As a former superhero, Hundred could relate. He finds Jones one night and stops him in his tracks saying, "How'd you like a paycheck for your troubles?" Jones officially became a minor member in Hundred's staff.

I had so many ideas for this -- at one point I was thinking about an entirely non-magical, no super powers team. Here's some random ideas that I ended up not including

  • Xander Harris (Buffy)
  • Bruce Wayne (Batman)
  • Hank Morgan (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court) - Somehow wakes up to find himself in a bed in modern New York City.
  • Ralph Nader - We all know he's not a real person
  • Longinus - According to legend, the man who pierced the side of Christ. Also according to legend, he can't be killed unless he finds the Spear of Destiny. He's tormented internally as he knows there's a God, but doesn't quite care for Him as God killed his family and forced him to live forever unable to be happy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Weird Alternate History World Setting

So here's 2 points of divergence and where I went from there
  • Joseph Smith, III takes over the Mormon church after the death of his father, the followers of Bringham Young are removed from the church thereby removing the practices of polygamy, the Endowment ritual would be different, and Baptism for the dead would not be practiced.

  • The Civil War is won by the Confederate States of America after they allow slaves to fight in the war and received freedom for their efforts.
What does this change? All manner of things. First -- the Confederacy wins the first war of the America and quite possibly in the process takes back West Virginia as part of Virginia and Maryland, which would have peacefully joined had they been allowed. Second, the Mormons out west may still be armed, but they're not quite as alienated as they were for their beliefs because they don't have the polygamy or baptism of the dead. The Book of Mormon was enough through most of the early history of the church, but these new views put them at odds with a lot more people...especially the government of the US. Instead, they were able to spread their word much more readily. Thirdly? A new Native American nation would have been established in area of the modern state of Oklahoma, independent of both the CSA and USA, but protected by the CSA as one of its allies. This would make for an interesting buffer zone and new nation of Indian peoples in the Americas. What could happen following this historically? Well -- here's my ideas of big events.
  • 1882 -- Mexican land grab where the CSA purchases a plot of land from Mexico leading to border conflicts with the US that escalates into full scale war. Large Mormon community in Utah secedes from the union leading to a two fronted war. The Confederates and Mormons win -- the United People of New Zion is founded as the Mormon nation and the Confederates take parts of Arizona and New Mexico, collecting them into the states of Jefferson and Arizona (different borders) by 1892. All blacks who join the Army are granted freedom upon finishing their terms of services again leading to over 50% of the black people in the CSA being free persons. The idea for a war over this is similar to the ideas from historian/alternative history writer Harry Turtledove's "How Few Remain" world setting. Amazing novel, by the way.
  • 1884 -- Non-black slaves granted the vote in the CSA.
  • 1892 -- Indians males granted the vote in New Zion.
  • 1895 -- Virginia and Maryland officially ban slavery within their borders.
  • 1900 -- New England secession movement begins to grow. Slavery banned in CSA by Constitutional Amendment.
  • 1901 -- Indian Territory joins the CSA as the state of Cherokee (modern Oklahoma) -- Indian men granted the right to vote simultaneously, considering 80% of the people living in Indian Territory were Indians.
  • World War I breaks out with the US, Germany, Austria-Hungary on one side and Neo Zion, CSA, UK, France on the other. Russia is neutral after pulling out like in real life. Allied powers win and CSA does a little land grab taking Kansas.
  • New England secedes after WWI -- war almost breaks out, but UK and CSA intervene with troops to keep the peace.
  • Israel founded prior to World War II, dominantly Jewish state with a large Mormon temple in Jerusalem.
  • Socialism rises in Germany, Hitler rises in Austria instead of Germany.
  • Soviet Germany, UK, CSA, New Zion, China, Soviet Union, France against Austria, Italy, and Japan in WWII. United States remains neutral. New England sides with Allied forces, begins to build standaing army by the end of the war and enters in around D-Day.
  • Women granted the vote in CSA and New Zion after WWII.
After that, I'm not sure. Anyone who would want to help me flesh out the history of such a world, by all means. I'm going to call this universe "Confederate Zion" in case I come up with future posts on the topic of this world-setting.

Here's who the current North American leaders are --
  • President of New England -
  • President of the United States - Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Whig)
  • President of the Confederate States of America - Angus King (Democrat)
  • President of New Zion - Merrill J. Bateman
The major political parties --
New England
  • Progressive Party - Exactly as it sounds, akin to the Progressive party of LaFollette, it supports a larger role of the unified federal government.
  • Unity Party - The Unity Party is a big tent party that encompasses conservative populists, conservatives, and libertarians.
  • Unionist Party - A minor party that has been opposed to secession from the beginning. They have called for reunification with the US and hold a majority of the state legislature in the state of Vermont. They do not hold a single seat in the New England Congress.
United States
  • Democratic Party -- Akin to the modern Republican Party, the Democratic party remained the house of the more conservative thinkers. The party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Goldwater. Remains a dominant force in modern politics.
  • Whig Party -- After the collapse of the Republican Party in 1864, the Whig Party surged in the 1868 election with former Republicans and Unionists with unity candidate and President Henry Wilson. They've been the competing party since. Slightly more progressive than the Democratic party.
CSA
  • Democratic Party -- The state's rights party followed exactly the same path as the US Democratic Party listed above.
  • Confederate Party -- The party that supports a more unified confederation, direct election of Senators, and has the most moderate members who support more federal measures.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax (1938-2008)

One of the co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax, passed away today. Your creation has spawned movies, games, and the dreams of all manner of people. Thank you, Gary Gygax.

EDIT: Both Penny Arcade and Dueling Analogs have tribute comics to Gygax.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jackson on Jeopardy

You've got to feel awesome when you become a Jeopardy category, as Samuel L. Jackson was today. Awesome.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Matchbox 20 Concert

Went to the Matchbox 20 concert in Albany today and the big thing I have to say...the first opening act, Mutemath, was awesome. Worth checking out...now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chaos Diamonds 3


I forgot how much I enjoyed reading Chaos Diamonds 3, a detailed fan comic involving Sonic the Hedgehog characters in a very different way than you've seen them before. If you enjoy some ridiculous webcomics, Sonic the Hedgehog, and enjoyable, action packed storytelling then check it out. Worth a read...despite starting off slow. It picks up...quickly.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Three Wooden Crosses

By Randy Travis...

A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher,
Riding on a midnight bus bound for Mexico.
One's headed for vacation, one for higher education,
And two of them were searching for lost souls.
That driver never ever saw the stop sign.
An' eighteen wheelers can't stop on a dime.

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there's not four of them, Heaven only knows.
I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It's what you leave behind you when you go.

That farmer left a harvest, a home and eighty acres,
The faith and love for growing things in his young son's heart.
An' that teacher left her wisdom in the minds of lots of children:
Did her best to give 'em all a better start.
And that preacher whispered: "Can't you see the Promised Land?"
As he laid his blood-stained bible in that hooker's hand.

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there's not four of them, Heaven only knows.
I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It's what you leave behind you when you go.

That's the story that our preacher told last Sunday.
As he held that blood-stained bible up,
For all of us to see.
He said: "Bless the farmer, and the teacher, and the preacher;
"Who gave this Bible to my mamma,
"Who read it to me."

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there's not four of them, now I guess we know.
It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It's what you leave behind you when you go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dinner Guest Realization

I just had another startiling realization. I must be a terrible dinner guest, as my favorite conversation items are politics and religion...oh, how taboo.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thoughts on Being Vain

I just realized something about the song "You're So Vain." Considering that the singer directly states to the listener that they are so vain...wouldn't that imply that the song really is about them? Perhaps they're not that vain after all...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bomberman

I just picked up Bomberman for the DS. If you haven't played some iteration of Bomberman, I suggest doing so immediately. It's a simple game and the fun extras for the Bomberman for the DS are worth the price of admission. I know this is a pretty weak review...but I started writing this about a month ago and just decided to finish it up...kind of.

Friday, January 4, 2008

12 Days of Christmas Question

Why did the singer of the song receive so many birds from their true love? Is there something I'm missing about the coolness of a flock of birds hanging out at your house for Christmas?