"That you may ruminate"

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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

…On A Wasted Opportunity.

Posted by Steve on August 23, 2010

The song “I Don’t Wanna Be Me” by Type O Negative is a great song. However, the verses have nothing to do with not wanting to be yourself anymore. Just the chorus & the title. I think that’s a shame, because if the song’s verses really had addressed that emotional state, that would make it a perfect song. I mean, not wanting to be yourself, wanting to be someone different, I believe that’s a common feeling. As Neil Peart wrote, “Some of us are born to live our fantasies, but most of us just dream about the things we’d like to be.”

Oh well.


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…On Senatorial Illness.

Posted by Steve on August 8, 2009

I was going to post a review of the Mayhem Festival concert I went to Thursday night (long post short: Slayer live is fucking awesome, Marilyn Manson is pathetic, I still love The Black Dahlia Murder, no matter how ugly you feel you are nobody at a metal concert cares, and Rockstar’s “energy shot” tastes like a cherry crapped out some coffee). Then I was going to post my thoughts on the questions eHarmony asks when you sign up (some of them are flat-out bizarre), since I’m currently carrying out that lengthy process. My mom’s been pushing me to do it for awhile – I think she wants grandkids or something.

But, at the moment, what really interests me is this: how often are U.S. Senators hospitalized? I noticed Sotomayor got confirmed with 99 total votes, and several other justices, like Scalia and Stevens, were confirmed on 97-0 or 98-0 votes. So… there’s supposed to be 100. And the only reason I can think of for the not-voting thing is can’t vote, which means hospitalized or dead. So how routine is it that a senator’s in the hospital? I don’t really keep track of these things.

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…On Chinese Democracy and Indian Courts.

Posted by Steve on October 26, 2008

On Wednesday morning, I heard the title track from the new Axl Rose & Studio Band Guns N’ Roses album on Y101 in Richmond, where I was working all week (which is why I didn’t post any. Posting to a personal blog while in company-paid-for housing on a company-paid-for internet connection using a client-owned laptop just doesn’t seem appropriate to me) and will be again all next week. Got to say, it’s what I expected: Rose’s voice, which while at times annoying (Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door would’ve been so much better with damn near any other singer) was distinct, has been destroyed and is mostly gone, and the important parts of Guns N’ Roses aren’t there anymore. Guns N’ Roses was good back then because of Izzy Stradlin and Slash, and that was it. What we have here is a band by that name, but no Slash and no Stradlin. In short, no good.

As to the title, well, I imagine Rose had some sort of irony in mind, given China’s long history (China has the oldest written history of any extant civilization) of being not democratic. I guess it’s as good as any album title – those aren’t really things I care about.

Onwards from China to their neighbor, India, and old news: courts in India allow snake oil as evidence and base convictions on it. The specific snake oil? The claim that an EEG, fMRI, or other brain-imaging technology can be used to determine whether or not a person has memories of committing a crime. Um… no. It can’t. Back when Niels Birbaumer and his research assistants developed a system that allowed paralyzed patients to type with EEG in a lab setting, it took months of training each patient, and then around 80 seconds just to get a single letter. I think that’s a good illustration of how little use EEG’s got for much more precise determinations than, “Yeah, this brain’s been damaged”. Granted, Birbaumer’s team used a different EEG brain wave (which, bear in mind, just means the voltage difference between an electrode on the scalp over the brain and an electrode somewhere like the earlobe or the chin, not a measurement of the activity in any specific set of neurons) than this Indian approach. Good thing (in a way) an American has patented a system based on the same underlying EEG wave – and far better that it’s been been thoroughly debunked (PDF, I recommend you download and then read – always works better for me with PDFs on the internet).

My hope is that this sort of snake oil would be excluded in all U.S. courts under Federal Rule of Evidence #702 (especially subpart 2: the requirement that “the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods”) and its state analogues. That may not be the case, what with “widely accepted” being optional, rather than mandatory, under the Daubert test. Although, as of 1998, at least in civil cases, the rule was pretty much “brain scans are inadmissible except as the answer to the yes no question, ‘Is some unspecified thing wrong with this brain at this time?'”. That’s where it should stay – indefinitely. Because face it, a machine that can actually detect guilt or innocence is every bit as realistic, and likely to happen in the same time frame, as a machine that lets Scotty beam us from place to place.

And, as an aside, it appears the accuracy of DNA profiling, which of course doesn’t use the entirety of a person’s DNA, has possibly been severely overstated.

Posted in From the News, Music, The Law | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Music Videos.

Posted by Steve on October 19, 2008

For your entertainment for the week, as I’ll be unable to post anything further until Saturday, true hilarity: 80s music videos, Literally!


Tears for Fears:

Did you know that a-ha are Norwegian? I didn’t either!

Posted in About the Blog, Not Metal, Youtube | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

…On The Metro.

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2008

I do, of course, mean the DC subways, not the Berlin song. I rode them last week while I was in DC. ‘Twas nice. I enjoyed riding the bus while I lived in Minneapolis (where I live now, there’s no bus that goes from my apartment to my office, but that’s OK since the walk takes at most 10 minutes – including elevator time), and the light rail was better than the bus. A subway, though, is better than either! So fast, so comfortable, so marvelously deep underground with machinery whisking you about… Mmm, I love it. It has its drawbacks, of course: namely, it’s expensive as all get out and requires, in order to have enough riders to make it worthwhile, a population density most places just don’t have – including at least one city (Atlanta) that somehow finagled its way into getting a (threadbare) subway back in the 70s.

I, of course, went through the Union Station stop, as that’s the closest to the Capitol Building. And is an amazing work of architecture. That old monumental style of building, with the stone and the carving and the massive roofs and the statues and the splendor, we just don’t build like that anymore. Mainly because it’s just too expensive. Which is kind of sad, because places like that really are spectacular to look at in the present and because I think we’re leaving a dreary history.

Anyway, Union Station. Quite spectacular. I actually spent a good bit of time there, eating there twice and even watching a movie in the theater on the bottom floor. One of my times eating there was at a place in the main concourse lobby area, a place called The America Grill, that tried to have items on its menu representing every state’s cuisine. A bit on the pricey side, but a nice theme for a place in DC, and the Texas Spicy Marinated (“barbecue” means pulled pork and pulled pork only, by Crom, to hell with what the menu said!) Brisket sandwich I had (after overcoming the temptation to order the two-foot-long hot dog) was very tasty. Also, I could watch people in Union Station while eating, which was fun.

I went through several other stops as well, where I saw advertising posters. Strangely, I thought – though in hindsight maybe not so strange, as it was DC, several of them were political in nature. One was a series of anti-union ads, another was a series by a group whose agenda I couldn’t figure out, and a third was a group that apparently thinks opposing PETA is somehow associated with enhancing consumer choice in the marketplace and limiting tort lawsuits. I don’t quite understand that third group, perhaps because I agree with them on one of the three things (I think PETA is flat wrong about what is ethical or moral and does a disservice to humanity) oppose them on another (tort lawsuits are good, because punishment is good) and am “meh” on third. But, hey, there you go.

Moral of the story: real cities have mass transit. I miss living in a real city.

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…On the Blooddrunk Show.

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2008

The other night, I attended a concert. It was Children of Bodom‘s Blooddrunk tour, with The Black Dahlia Murder and Between the Buried and Me touring as their opener & filler.

Regarding TBDM, who opened, I was still standing out in the rain in line to get my ticket when they started, so I may have missed them playing “This Aint No Fucking Lovesong,” which is my favorite song of theirs. They did a good job of opening, though: got the crowd excited and wanting more. More metal, that is, not necessarily more of them.

See, the crowd was an odd mix: a ton of BTBAM fans, and a veritable horde of the Hate Crew’s people, but not so many TBDM fans. And, strangely, a ton of young people. I was seeing green “under-21” wristbands with X-ed hands left and right, along with kids who couldn’t have been older than 15 and at least two middle/high school kids who were there with their parents tagging along to chaperone them! My guess, judging by the correlation of BTBAM t-shirts to green wristbands (my “I’m over 21, I can booze it up all I want” wristband was blue), is that they drew a lot of the kids. At least, when I was in high school (which corresponded to their magnum opii of Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper) there wasn’t a huge CoB following, or much of any metal following. There was, however, a plethora of fans of Phish and Government Mule and OAR and The Grateful Dead and all that hippie stoner jam band style, and I thought Between The Buried And Me had that style, just, you know, as metal. They reminded me of Opeth in that regard. Granted, they reminded me of Opeth the way a couple of stoner high school kids playing in the school talent show remind me of the Grateful Dead: they’re trying to sound like them, but they aren’t anywhere near that good. I mean, honestly, are Between The Buried And Me – who I’d never even heard of before I saw the listing for this concert, to tell the truth – ever going to put out something a tenth as legendary as Blackwater Park? I doubt it.

So, the show… it was at The NorVa, where I’d never been before. Very cool found space sort of venue. Not sure what it used to be, perhaps a church? There were, after all, stained glass windows visible way up high. Very open space, which is nice – complete with a horseshoe balcony around the space. From which, if you were lucky, you could be above and parallel to the band while they were playing. Extremely awesome view – and it put you close enough that there was no question the band could hear you when you shouted requests to them between songs. Which they granted (when our request was “Drum Solo! Drum Solo!”).

Children of Bodom, I love their music, that groundbreaking melodic blend of power and death metal. I love that they dug deep into their old stuff for the setlist. I love that they played with all the energy and vitality those arpeggios call for. I wasn’t actually as excited as most everyone else that Randy from Lamb of God joined Alexi in singing “In Your Face”, but I’m just not a big Lamb of God fan. Nor was I one of the people he (Randy) landed on when he dove into the crowd, since I was up on that balcony, next to a very energetically headbanging young lady who had her hair dyed that intriguing burgundy color. So, when he dove into the crowd, I was watching from above. Above. Seriously, the coolness of this venue’s layout cannot be overstated.

Look, I realize this is rambling. I had more of a point when I started this post, but that was on Sunday. It’s been a long week at work – I cleared the 40 hour mark before lunch, and that’s not including time I worked on Saturday and Sunday. So, I wanted to ramble about a concert I enjoyed, by a band whose music I like, at a venue I plan to revisit.

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…On the Acquisition of Music.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2008

Half a year ago was my birthday, and from my parents I received an iTunes gift card. I finally, over the past month, set up an iTunes account and spent that gift card on music. I’m rather pleased with most of my purchases, especially as I took chances on some bands I’d never heard of before, like Eluveitie and Cadacross. I was well-rewarded with many of those, in particular Eluveitie. A few disappointments, but hey – not like I’d paid for it, right?

Of course, those disappointing songs would’ve been less disappointing if there were some way to recoup my gift card credit from them. Enter Wednesday’s CNN.com article on new internet music retailer Popcuts. Their business model is an unusual one, to say the least: a portion of the $0.99 revenue each time someone buys a track is split as store credit among people who’ve already purchased the track. As I see it, the system’s an attempt to give people an incentive to try out completely new artists and make it easier for those brand-new artists to get a fan base.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the minuscule catalog (granted, they only started up in August, but there don’t appear to be more than a few hundred) consists almost entirely of independent, unsigned, local- and garage- level acts. That may be what makes this work in the long-run. It may be what makes it fail quickly. I don’t know. I do know that the Metal genre, as of this moment, has music from 10 artists, at least two of which just appear to be guys in their basement. I did, though, find one track that I liked the 30-second sample of enough to risk 99 cents on. After all, even if I don’t like it, I can maybe get enough credit from it to try something else. And in the meantime, the aspiring musician and the aspiring music retailer both get a few cents, and the aspiring musician also gets his Last.fm playcount to go up from seven plays by two people to a minimum of eight plays by three people. Which is good for him, too.

So, I’ll keep an eye on this Popcuts place, to see if their catalog grows in ways I like, but I don’t expect it to ever supplant Last.fm as my main internet music source, what with its wonderful combination of internet radio, free downloadable demo tracks, and for-sale downloadable tracks.

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