Monday, July 31, 2006

some say the end is near

Tool is coming to Columbus on September 21st. Tickets are already on sale. Who wants to come with me?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

in euphoria i'm bruised

I saw today that the outside of our apartment building and the building next door were all vandalized with spray paint last night. I also haven't seen Austin all day, as he was gone when I woke up. I think we may have a fugitive on our hands here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

forty-six and two

Like everyone else, I'm getting a little tired of the weekly episodes of a Bengals player having a run-in with the law. Sometimes I wonder what goes through the minds of these people. Odell Thurman's 4-game suspension is the worst problem they've had so far, in my opinion. Sure, Chris Henry is a valuable offensive weapon, but I think we can fill a void at third receiver much more easily than we can at middle linebacker.

The good news is that Mathias Askew probably wasn't going to make the team anyway, and after this I'm all but certain he'll be cut. I'd like to see them put provisions in the contracts of "troubled" players like Frostee Rucker and A. J. Nicholson where if they get in some kind of trouble, then they forfeit parts of their salary. Similar to the clauses some teams have about players engaging in dangerous activities. I think there's a possibility we may even see Henry get cut from the team if Antonio Chatman and Tab Perry perform well in training camp, but I'm not holding my breath.

I made a big change to my class schedule yesterday that should allow me to graduate on time. I was going to be one quarter behind on Spanish, as I put off taking it till this summer. I'm halfway through the first class right now, but forgot to sign up for the next one after this in the last third of summer quarter. Since we're going to New Jersey for a week anyway, I figured I might as well just take it in the fall and just be a quarter behind. Well when I was talking to my mom about my classes, I realized that I'd only be missing four days of class while in New Jersey. Sure, four days is a lot for a three and a half week class, but if it's a matter of choosing between four days and another whole quarter, I'll gamble on missing four classes. I'm going to talk to the prof and see if we can work something out, but either way I'm taking it because it had open spots. I managed to get into the next Spanish class in the fall just fine, I didn't even have to shuffle my current schedule around. I was looking forward to not having any more classes after next week, but this will be worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

sitting spare like a book on a shelf

Valve held a press conference for Half-Life 2: Episode 2 earlier in the week, and made two very surprising announcements. The first was the announcement of a new single-player game to be bundled with Episode 2, Portal. There wasn't a whole lot of explanation as to what the game was, but the basic idea is that you have a portal gun that you use to create and entrance to the portal in one location, and an exit to the portal in another. So, if you find yourself staring at a big canyon that you cannot cross, simply create an entrance on your side of the ravine, and create and exit on the other. The video they showed looked pretty amazing. Valve showed all kinds of different scenarios to demonstrate different ways to use the portal gun. Have a sentry gun blocking your way? Fire a portal under a heavy box, put the exit over the gun, and watch the box fall through the portal and knock it over. The video didn't really explain what you do in the game, but judging from what I saw, it looks like the game is a big obstacle course full of puzzles and challenges that require you to think up creative uses for the portal gun to get past and survive. It didn't reveal whether Portal has any connection to Half-Life 2 other than being set in the same universe (same artwork, style, etc.). It didn't show any type of living enemy, and I don't think the game will be used to tie in the story line, at least not right now. I hope they expand the idea even further than just a single-player puzzle game, because it looks like you could have some really exciting multiplayer action with the game. Valve continues to show their ability and desire in be innovative and inventive when it comes to creating games.

The other big announcement was the most surprising: Team Fortress 2 is in fact very much alive, and will also be bundled with Episode 2. This is a game that has been in limbo almost as long as Duke Nukem Forever. The biggest change is the artwork for the game; the characters look like something out of a Pixar movie. Their figures are cartoonish and exaggerated. Personally, I think it's a great look. Team Fortress isn't about realism, it's about fun. The video didn't show any gameplay, just the character models, so it isn't really known whether Valve is planning on it being the revolutionary multiplayer game they said it would be seven years ago. I'm guessing after all this time, and after games like the Battlefield series that have already done with Valve planned to do with TF2, that the game will be more like a port to the Source engine. But if they're including it free with Episode 2, that's okay by me.

M. Knight Shyamalan's Lady in the Water comes out this weekend. I was planning on seeing it, but it's not getting the best reviews, and after the mediocre Village, I'm a little hesitant now. There really haven't been many movies I've been looking forward to this year. I'm tired of superhero movies, and I was bored with Pirates of the Caribbean before it even came out because I knew it would be more of the same (they made it LONGER than the first?! Doesn't anyone hire an editor anymore?). One of the few I am definitely excited about is Miami Vice. Michael Mann has put out some great movies (HEAT, Collateral) and this looks like it will be more of the same. Jamie Foxx is a good actor, and while Colin Farrell isn't my favorite, he's usually pretty good in these action roles.

And then there's Snakes on a Plane which sounds so terrible that it almost makes me want to see it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

the ashes in my eyes

I thought I'd throw up a few pictures from the NIN concert. Bear in mind that none of these pictures were taken by me, I just found them online and borrowed them. I threw all the pictures I found on the flickr page I set up, so if you want to see more you can go there.
I edited this picture to give you a general idea of where Doug and I were for most of the concert. We might actually be in this picture but the people are too small to tell, and most likely we're a little more to the left, just outside the frame.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

where the gun is cocked

Obviously people are going to compare Thom Yorke's solo album The Eraser to his work with Radiohead, but they really are not very similar. The closest comparison you can make to it would be Kid A, but his solo album is an even greater exploration into electronica. It's filled with more drum machines and synthesizers, and much less guitar, than most of Radiohead's music. I look at The Eraser the same way I saw Billy Corgan's TheFutureEmbrace: it's a pretty good album, but not as good as the stuff he has done with his band. There are a lot of fun, entertaining songs like "And It Rained All Night" (which feels very similar to something off of Radiohead's Hail to the Thief) and "Black Swan", but none of the songs are anything mind blowing. The album is also a little on the thin side, weighing in with just nine tracks.

American V: A Hundred Highways is the first non-compilation album by Johnny Cash to be released posthumously by Rick Rubin's American Records. Overall it's a very solid album. I like the folk-vibe most of the songs have. Few of the songs have the country flavor to them that some of the American IV tracks had. But this new album also lacks some of the instant classics Cash's last album had, like "Hurt" or "Personal Jesus". This is the first album in his American Recordings series where he doesn't have any popular covers of bands like U2, Soundgarden, or Tom Petty. The only song that is familiar to me at all is "God is Gonna Cut You Down", and that's only because it was sampled in Moby's song "Run On". However, the lack of familiar tunes is not something I would criticize this album for. It's loaded with great songs, whether they're brimming with spirituality like "Help Me" or just fun tunes like "On the 309". Even after his death, it seems Johnny Cash can continue to bless us with meaningful music.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

southern change gonna come at last

Everyone is probably aware by now that Italy won the World Cup on Sunday, defeating France 5-3 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. I thought it was a good game. France looked strong at the beginning, and they scored first off the Zidane penalty shot. I didn't think the foul in the box was a good call. It looked to me like the French player (not Zidane, but I don't recall who) took a dive. Then Italy responded in the 19th minute with a great header. Italy scored again but was called offside. Zidane almost gave France the lead in overtime with a headball, but Buffon made a fantastic one-handed save. You could tell Zidane thought it was going in, and maybe that helps explain what happened next.

Unless you haven't been paying any attention to sports the past few days, you've probably seen Zidane headbutting Materazzi. I think it's a huge shame that someone like Zidane would end his career in this fashion. Imagine if someone like Peyton Manning was in the playoffs, and had announced that he would retire when it was over. They make it to the Super Bowl, and while his team is deadlocked in a close game, Peyton walk over and ends his career by kicking someone on the opposing team in the groin. That's about the equivalent of what Zidane did. If FIFA had a Hall of Fame for players, Zidane would be going in it. That's how good of a player he has been, and that's why what he did was so stupid. He had a great legacy, but this is what people are going to remember.

Anyway, Italia won, which was fine with me because I was rooting for them.

shine on you crazy diamond

Syd Barrett, legendary musician and one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, has died.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

light a roman candle and hold it in your hand

I'm still not completely over whatever cold or virus I came down with this week. Started off as a bad headache and a sore throat, and the past few days it's been a bad cough and lots of congestion in my head and chest. I still have a sore throat too, although I think it's mostly because my nose is too congested when I sleep, so I breathe through my mouth all night.

UFC 61 was actually pretty disappointing last night. The first fight was rediculous, only because Yves Edwards got a huge gash on the top of his head, which proceeded to gush everywhere. It was easily the bloodiest fight I've ever seen. Amazingly they waited until the end of the round to stop the fight. The Ortiz - Shamrock fight started out very fast, and looked to be an entertaining bout, but it just ended too fast. The Sylvia - Arlovski rematch was probably the most boring title fight I've ever seen. It went all five rounds without a lot of action, and Arlovski didn't even get the Heavyweight belt back. He just looked too cautious the whole fight

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

try so hard to make the pieces all fit

Dougie and I went to the Nine Inch Nails show in Indianapolis last night. It was fantastic. Even better than the U.S. Bank show earlier this year.

The less said about the first opening act, Peaches, the better. At least Bauhaus was entertaining. Doug and I both agreed that they're better than Peaches or Moving Units from the February show. Peter Murphy was funny to watch.

NIN took the stage around 9:15. For this outdoor leg of the tour they ditched the whole cloth screen for this big metal grate that descends from the ceiling (think of those metal grates they pull down over store doors and you'll get the idea). The grate has lights in it that they can turn on and off and use to make different designs and animations. They had some screens at the back of the stage again with different light patterns to. Unlike the other show, there was no intro music like Pnion to tip you off. The band just crept onto stage right as the roadies were leaving, with Trent picking up the mic and starting into Somewhat Damaged, which made for a fantastic opener.

From there the grate went up and they followed with a flurry of fast songs like You Know What You Are?, Terrible Lie, and March of the Pigs. After that we got a much-needed breather with Something I Can Never Have, and then the expected Closer. For that song they had just the center portion of the screen come down with red lights, and Trent standing in front and behind it. It was great to see some instrumentals in the show with Help Me I Am In Hell
and a shortened version of La Mer. That led right into fantastic Into the Void, which was followed by an ever better The Big Come Down. They played the full-band version of Non-Entity which is a non-album song Trent wrote on piano for a Katrina benefit last year. They pulled out Down In It near the end, which was fantastic. Suck has been a staple of their live shows in the past, show it was good to finally hear it. Then Peter Murphy of Bauhaus came out to sing with Trent on a song called Final Solution, a cover of Pere Ubu (who?). Then they finished with the usual closing songs.

I was really kicking myself for not bringing a camera. We were in the pit again, and when the show started we were in the back of the front third of the pit (if that makes sense) in between Trent and guitarist Aaron North. Then during March of the Pigs when everyone started pushing and moshing like crazy, I saw an opening and made my way further up front until I was about five or six (very squished) people back from the rail. I was about three feet away from Aaron when he dove into the crowd during that song. Had he dove straight out from where he was on stage, and not towards the middle of the pit, he probably would have been on top of me. Anyways, when I pushed up I left Doug behind in the process, so he was in our old spot about five people behind me. I kept trying to get his attention to tell him to come up with me, and he finally had a chance when the pit got real crazy again on Gave Up. The pit was insane the whole time, and we were really tired by the end of the night from all the jumping and trying not to get knocked over. Some guy next to me got hit in the face during March so I gave him my handkerchief for his bloody nose. Thank goodness the weather wasn't really hot, because it was hot enough in the pit. By the end we were literally soaked in sweat.

Trent commented several times about how great and energetic the crowd was. He said that they are almost done touring and that they're going to take a few months off the finish the new album he's been working on, and they'll be back early next year. With his track record, you can't help but be skeptical about a new album being released in under two years, but we can hope.

The venue was really nice. Doug and I walked around up by the lawn in between sets, and the view from there puts Riverbend to shame. After the show I was dying of thirst, so I made my way over to a food booth that was still open. I guess they were supposed to close at 11, because the people in front of me got their drinks, and I stepped up to ask for water. Before I could say anything, the attendants looked me straight in the eyes, and the proceeded to pull the wooden door down right in my face. But kudos to the people who were standing outside giving away free cans of Full Throttle energy drinks. Then the venue set off a bunch of big fireworks as we were waiting to get out of the lot.

The full set:
Somewhat Damaged
You Know What You Are?
errible Lie
March Of The Pigs
Something I Can Never Have
Gave Up
Help Me I Am In Hell
La Mer
Into The Void
The Big Come Down
Down In It
Final Solution (w/ Peter Murphy)
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like A Hole

Sunday, July 02, 2006

sunday morning coming down

I've been procrastinating lately when it's come to updating. No real reason, other than that I'm lazy. Last Sunday we went to Riverbend and saw Lynyrd Skynyrd for Dougie's birthday. Actually, it was 3 Doors Down and Skynyrd, but no one cares about them. We had fun mocking 3 Doors Down and Skynyrd was great. They played most of the songs I'd want to hear, like "That Smell", "Simple Man", "Gimme Back My Bullets", "Three Steps", and of course "Freebird". It was a fun show, even if I couldn't really see anything.

Tim and Elly are back in town for the week. We got to hang out with them some last night, and we're having Tim's birthday party today.

I'm still sad about Brazil losing to France. They just did not play well. France, on the other hand, was on fire. After not doing well in the Group stage, they are peaking at just the right time. It kind of reminds me of Pittsburgh's run to the Super Bowl, except that France didn't have to take a cheap shot on anyone to win. And I'd take the French over the Steelers any day.

Speaking of the World Cup, when Austin and I were walking over to UC to watch the Germany - Argentina game, we walked around the corner from our apartment and almost tripped over a guy passed out sleeping (or dead?) on the sidewalk at 11 am in the morning. Only in Corryville. That was a great game though, and it went all the way to penalty kicks. And how about that Portuguese keeper in Penalty Kicks yesterday against England? Four shots, and he guessed the right way to dive every time. He made three saves, and the one that went in he still got a hand on, but it was hit so hard it went in anyway. So now we have Germany - Italy and Portugal - France in the semifinals. With Brazil getting upset, I'm pulling for Germany all the way. Not sure who I want to win the other game. I like Portugal's Ronaldo, but it's hard not to pull for France with as good as they are playing now (Zidane is so fun to watch).

Superman Returns came out this past weekend. The previews looked pretty good, but I'm just so tired of superhero movies. There have been some great ones, but they all have such similar themes (great responsibility, feelings of isolation, etc.) that I am bored with them. Same reason why I didn't see X-Men 3.

Is it September yet? I can't wait to get into our new house. Our apartment is nice, except it's way too hot in here. I have a window air conditioner but A.) It doesn't work well and B.) When it runs it randomly makes noises that sound like gravel getting thrown into metal. I think something is getting kicked around inside of it. So the debate is whether I want to not sleep well because my room is too hot or because my air conditioner is making crazy noises. But the main reason I can't wait to get out of here is Corryville. This place sucks. It's too noisy, too dirty, too unsafe, too noisy, and not quiet. It is amazing how much less noise there is over at our new place.

Nine Inch Nails in Indianapolis tomorrow with Dougie. It's going to be amazing...