Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ahh, the holidays...

Happy Holidays everybody. The postings around here have been pretty light (err, non-existent) with the fun festivities. I'm happy to report that there was plenty of drink to be had, but I did not make a terrible ass of myself and I didn't go postal on any relatives. As of today, I am still the Lush King of Chicago, Region Rat division. Here's the latest standings:

Sam: DNQ, IBS.
Bob: Tapped out at 3AM
Ralph: TKO, passed out at 1AM

Booyah! All hail the king baby!

Now, off for more drinking, revelry, mischief and mayhem...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New Futurama?!?

Looks like Futurama may join Family Guy in returning from the dead. All I can say is:

"With my dying breath, I curse Zoidberg!"

911 Reasons To Hate America

Haven't blogged a thing in a while, mainly due to that draft of my top ten albums of the year sitting in my dashboard, staring at me with evil, yellow, demon eyes.

Well, not like I already don't have a file with the NSA, FBI, and the CIA, so, in for a penny, in for a pound I say. Here's 911 Reasons To Hate America, published in the eXile, an ex-pat zine published out of Moscow. Also check out their Nazi Commemoration Issue, with a great satire of Kafka's Metamorphosis.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Obligatory Top Ten Albums of 2005

Oh goodie, it's that time of year again. Time for every music geek out there to compile the obligatory top ten o' 2005 list. Much thanks to Shawn Delaney and Sound Opinions, who's top ten lists have provided the motivation to complete this beast.

I'm not even going to bother to number these suckers, and this really ain't even a top ten list. Think of it more as a "the ten albums released in 2005 that impressed me most over the course of the year, either due to originality or replayability. Or maybe I think you just need to know about them."


Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike: The name says it all. Take the descendants of gypsies and expose them to punk rock and you get their native music infused with punk riffs and attitude. A fun album that will have you dancing and smashing dishes on your floor.

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm: This is a great, great album. Unfortunately, I could have sworn I had this album late last year. As such, I've become a bit worn out with it, and all the press they seem to be getting is, well, getting ridiculous. Are the Brits just happy to have a Brit rock band that isn't totally white for a change? "And he's the lead singer?!? Quick, call NME!"

Jamie Lidell - Multiply: Techno DJ does a turn as neo-soul crooner and turns in a vocal performance that needs to be heard to believed. I saw him live this year, and it was a performance I won't forget. While he could easily slip into derivative parody, his love of the music wins you over.

The Soviettes - LP III: Just some fun punk rock from this Minneapolis based band. Bringing together influences from both coasts, the albums filled with head nodding 3 minute diddies. Bonus points for female vocals and the Soviet-retro cover art.

Autechre - Untilted: Always a perennial favorite of mine, this album gets a nod because it's some of the most listenable Autechre released in years. Yes, that's right, I used the word "listenable" and "Autechre" in the same sentence. You can actually hear melodies in there. I swear! What else are you supposed to listen to when you code?

Prefuse 73 - Surrounded By Silence: Ah, hip-hop tracks that push the limits of sampling and experimentation, free from the in-da-club bling-bling nonsense that's been polluting too much of hip-hop today. More producer than artist, he's talented as hell. In fact his entire discography is held high in my regards.

Four Tet - Everything Ecstatic: Music that spans genres and defies classification. Part hip-hop, part electronica, with an organic feel that hints at rock influences. Terrific, original music.

Thievery Corporation - Cosmic Game: Who said downtempo was dead? Sure, they don't stray to far from familiar territory, but this ain't rocket science people! They continue to lay down groovy beats and great mixes.

Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better: Not as good as their debut, but a great sophomore effort. They show much more diversity than the first album, but don't try so hard that they lose their sound. Bonus points for their trademark sharp, stylish attire.

LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem: The man behind DFA shows why he's got the NYC music scene wrapped around his finger. Electronic grooves, sharp samples, and high energy punk attitude combine for tracks that kept this album in my stereo all summer long. Smart music that doesn't take itself to seriously. Second only to Maximo Park, and even then only because it was release early this year.

Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger: Absolute favorite of the year. I cannot stop listening to this album on the iPod or on vinyl at home. Sure, the music isn't too remarkable, but talented. Sure, his vocal range isn't the greatest, and his lyrics don't always rhyme. But, and this is a big but, the mother of all buts I tell you, there is an emotional quality to the lyrics that is so genuine and true that it hits me to the core. Maybe I'm just a sucker for an album full of good, real long songs. Maybe I'm just a sucker for anybody who performs in all black save for white leather shoes and skinny white leather belt. Maybe I'm a sucker for anything released on Warp, even a rock album. Sorry, I just love this album. I tell you all now: you will come crawling to me and apologize when this band storms the world of rock in a few years time. You've been warned.


White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan: What a load of over produced bollocks. Jack White got a bit too full of himself and his abilities as a producer. Consequently, he took the "do a lot with a little" genius of the White Stripes and did too much, leaving nothing worth listening to, save two tracks.

Boards Of Canada - The Campfire Headphase: This was a good album, but strayed too far into acoustic territory, and away from the soft bip-beep-bop sounds of computer love that has endeared me to Boards. Good stuff guys, but you broke my heart a bit.

Beck - Guero: Turns out he's a Scientologist. Official immediate blacklisting. And Sea Change was such a good album. Dammit!

Gorillaz - Demon Days: Crap. One good song.

Royksopp - The Understanding: Crap. No good songs. Should have been called The Misunderstanding, 'cause I can't understand how the same guys who released 2001's Melody A.M. could have put out this eurotrash stinker.

Yeah, okay, so there are eleven albums up there, but if you can put eleven in and call two a tie then I so can I. Cheaters. It's a top ten. TEN! Period!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The I-10 Witness Project

For those who haven't heard, my (our) friend Sam Barnett is going to be in New Orleans for a week, helping out the I-10 Witness Project. The group is collecting first hand accounts of how Hurricane Katrina has affected the lives of people in and around NOLA. While the interviews in their entirety are being preserved for future historians and citizens to experience, shorter, edited versions of some of the interviews are posted on their website. Forget the pundits and journalists, and hear the straight dope first hand.

Good luck Sam!

Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts!

Now that my free, OSS, iTunes alternative, gtkpod supports podcasts, I'm all about the podcasts. Can anyone send any recommended podcasts they listen to? Please, please?

Podcasts, mate

Ricky Gervais, creator of the the original The Office, and The Extras (which can be seen on HBO), has got a new podcast, The Ricky Gervais Show. Sponsored in part by The Guardian, all you iPod owners can listen in on the fun. The funniest bits, are, IMO, where Karl gives his take on the latest monkey news, and Ricky's hysterical high pitched laugh, something you don't see in his otherwise deadpan trademark comedy. Highly recommended.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Christmas Story (in 30 seconds with bunnies)

Courtesy of BoingBoing, I give you Region-native Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story in 30 seconds, preformed by bunnies.

The war on terror as distraction

I suppose if one were to try and find a silver lining in this poorly conceived and executed war on terror, it might be Latin America. Long a favorite punching bag for the American Empire, with the financial and military resources of our government are focused on the Middle East, the right wing regimes that our government have supported there are slowly feeling the pressure of emerging leftist, democratic movements and leaders. Chris Kulzyczki has a good round up of the latest political news south of the border over on DailyKos.

Honoring the dead

This just in: news that the government has taken to shipping the bodies of fallen soldiers as commercial freight. Simply disgusting.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bathroom Reading

Things have been a little heavy around here haven't they? Well, here's the solution to your bathroom reading dilemma. That should give you a good laugh.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Everything's against the law in Winston-Salem (Smoking Ban, pt. 2)

Now that I've had some time to stew in my rage juices over the smoking ban, I wanted to better explain why I'm so angry at this.

With this ban, it's now effectively illegal to smoke tobacco in the city of Chicago. There are now two places you can smoke a cigarette: back alleys and your home. These are the same places it is safe to do any illegal drug: cannabis, heroin, cocaine, pick your poison. As such, tobacco has been placed in the same forbidden category.

This is the new modern American morality. When you can't outlaw a behavior outright, you simply place as many restrictions on it as you can, until it becomes practically banned. Abortion activists have done the same thing in the face of Roe v. Wade. Same goes for gun control and the Second Amendment. (Yeah, I'm against gun control, didn't see that coming did you?)

Anti-tobacco lobbyists failed to stop Americans smoking by banned advertisements on TV and radio and in magazines. They even got it removed from NASCAR. Still hasn't stopped people from smoking.

In their zeal to save all us dumb schmucks who can't be trusted to think for ourselves, they've only made it more taboo, ensuring that generations of teenagers will be even more eager to pick up the habit. Congratulations.

I'd also to note that the American Cancer Society has spent $2 million dollars as part of a media blitz and lobbying campaign for this ban. Money that would have been better spent on finding effective treatments or an outright cure for cancer. The people of the city of Chicago did not ask for this legislation. It was bought outright by a special interest group. They didn't lobby for a plebicite or public referendum by the ballot, but subverted democracy by going straight to our so-called representatives.

Smash the mirror

This makes me feel ashamed of my whining, navel-gazing rant.

Harold Pinter, playwright and 2005 Nobel prize winner, gave an incredible acceptance speech, despite being confined to a wheelchair and barely able to speak because of recent illness. Once you get past his opening comments about his own work, you get to an incredible critique of American foreign policy.

Truly courageous are those who dare to speak truth to power.

The health nazis win again

I had thought this was a free country, where I could decide for myself what I chose to do and not do. Apparently not. Starting in 2008, Chicago will be completely smoke free. Great. You got the planes, and every single building but bars and restaurants. Now you took the bars too. The only place I wanted. The only reason people go to bars is the smoke and drink. Non smokers don't go there!

And before any of you get on your high health horse with that "second hand smoke causes cancer" bullshit, that study (yes, singular, one fucking story) has been debunked, many times.

Just another case of self-righteous assholes trying to make everyone do what they think is right. They're not nazis, they're terrorists; no different than any other religious fundamentalist who would use the law to enforce morality. No one voted you the savior of my life or soul, so just go fucking shove it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

World Of Warcraft

I just got addicted over the weekend. After having been a big City of Heroes/Villains fan, I decided to give in and see what the other half were playing. WoW is much more RPG based, and as such, provides a much richer gaming experience, IMHO. Every detail from world design to character creation/advancement has been expertly crafted. Fun, fun, fun.

CoH/V is much more of a split between an RPG and an FPS. The character and costume design tools are excellent, but that's the best feature of the game. Once you get above the first few levels, the game becomes nothing more than kill, kill, kill. And forget about levelling with any speed on a team of less than 6 players.

If you play WoW, lemme know what server you're on, any tips, or n00b advice. Feel free to let fly with the braggadocio...

The limits of charity

BellSouth just recinded an offer to the city of New Orleans to have the city use a damaged building of theirs as a new police headquarters. City services, including the police, are still scattered around the city in the wake of Katrina. BellSouth withdrew the offer after the city announced a plan to offer free wifi service throughout the NOLA, paid for and maintained by the city.

Apparently charity only goes so far. Only so far as they don't get cut into corporate profits, and then it's used as blackmail.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Konerko stays!


I might even go to mass on Sunday.

No, of course I won't, but I did entertain the idea for a split second.

Paul Konerko just signed with the White Sox for $60 million over 5 years. The Angels were very anxious to pick him up, but, thankfully Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf had the good sense to match their offer and pick up Thome as added incentive to keep Paulie in town.

Now talk has turned to picking up either Juan Pierre or Luis Castillo from the Marlins, who are in full fire-sale mode. Both could fill the #2 spot in the line up; Pierre with his speed, or Castillo with his switch hitting abilities.

I'm dreaming of a White (Sox) Christmas... Really, don't bother to get me anything, aside from maybe a few more trades, eh? What more could I want?

The Colbert Report

If you haven't kept the channel on Comedy Central after the Daily Show to watch The Colbert Report, your missing out. Here's a short clip, (courtesy Crooks and Liars) talking about the latest scandal to hit the Canadian government, and how America differs from those *other* democracies.

Flipping Bush the Bird

Some morning fun for y'all. Crooks and Liars has video footage of anti-Bush protestors surrounding a bus full of reporters at a Bush fundraising event in Colorado. The protestors thought it was Bush or one of his evil ilk, and they let their frustration and anger show with a flurry of middle fingers.