Friday, January 30, 2009

Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About (pt1)

Speed McQueen

I worked at my college radio station while going to school. I started as the metal show co-host, went on to become become the primary host, and then later to be the program director for the station. Music always played a big part in my life, so I enjoyed sitting in the cramped offices and listening to all the new CDs for hours and hours at a time. Unfortunately, there was crap...a lot of crap. I would say 80% of CDs we received were junk, 10% were of well established artists (think R.E.M. or Metallica), 9% were junk except for one decent song, and the final 1% was something different, something magical and amazing.

Speed McQueen fell in this final 1%. They were kind of the Alt-Pop-with a Punk edge (kinda in the vein of Green Day, Blink 182, or Supergrass) that was so popular at the time but yet they stood out. Their music was crisp, clean, and interesting. Their lyrics were insightful, funny, and nostalgic. This was a group of talented guys. It is not often that and entire CD blows your mind...for me, this one did. Every song on the CD is great. Right off the top of my head I can only say that about a handful of CDs - and half of those are The Beatles. Speed McQueen was probably in my CD player for almost a year straight. That just does not happen to me. I consider them to be one of my great finds while working in college radio.

I was lucky enough to see them in concert a few times and can say that their concerts were even better than their CDs. They were full of energy and fun. The first time I saw them, the temperature was well below zero and everyone in the place was in a pretty foul mood. The opening band (who was a local favorite) were not able to get the crowd going at all. Speed McQueen's music was so exciting and fun that even the people who had never heard them before were dancing and getting very into the show.

You can check out a couple songs here:

Social Genocide

Speed McQueen only had 1 full length album - although it came in two covers - one from Polygram/Mercury and one from Necessary Records. I prefer the Necessary cover (even though it is a little corny -seen above) as the Polygram/Mercury made it seem too bright and poppy (see below - it is not terrible, just doesn't do them justice. If you find a copy of the CD this is most likely the cover you will get). They did also have a short ep called Gig...although I would only recommend that if you really like the full album (not that it is bad, but because most of the music is on the full album so it is repetitive).

Speed McQueen (Polygram/Mercury) Speed McQueen Gig (ep)

I encourage everyone to check them out if you are looking for some music to get you through this winter.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Surviving the Dentist

I have always had bad teeth. My teeth are soft and chalky, they break, chip, and get cavities easily. Why? No one is sure - just a random genetic fluke, being born premature, growing up on rural well water, etc... No one can say right off hand. I brush quite a bit but never as much as my dentist would like (4+ times a day is just too much for me), but I do what I can. Besides normal brushing, I also follow up brush with a special high fluoride gel, and use Listerine style mouth wash. I try to floss but hate it so much that it is a rarely accomplished. This has all helped some - now instead of 15 cavities and chips every time I go to the dentist, I only have 2 or 3. I know the people out there who are lucky and have strong teeth are cringing and can't believe 2 or 3 fixes per year is good...but trust me on this, it is! And I think it will continue to get better as I cut more sugar out of my dentist put it this way "If it takes most people one pound of sugar to get a cavity, you would probably take 1/2 cup." So I am trying...but I have always so loved sugar. I drink mostly diet soda and it has been almost a year since I have had a "candy only day".

My dentist does a great job with what he has to work with (I just wish it didn't cost so much!), but it hasn't always been easy for me. Over the years, I have developed many guidelines for myself to help me get through dentist appointments.

  1. Always get Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) - it may cost extra, but by god is it worth it. I have never done any other drugs or even been drunk in my life, so it is hard to me to tell you how it compares but from hearing potheads talk, I would say it is similar to marijuana. I mean it relaxes you so you don't care nearly as much about someone sticking needles and drills and other instruments of destruction into your mouth. Just being high makes going to the dentist almost worth it.

  2. Close your eyes - you might think that you want to know what is going on so that you can prepare for it or something. You do not. Close your eyes, let the professionals do the work that they are highly trained to do. I remember when I was a kid that I would always watch exactly what the dentist was doing in the reflection of his glasses or the overhead light and watch as tools are being lowered into my mouth. It makes you very anxious, it makes you expect pain (even when you are numb if you see a needle being jabbed in your gums you feel it in your brain). Close your eyes. You really don't want to know what's happening and you don't want to know what your teeth actually look like on the inside.

  3. Don't listen to music or watch TV - this one is a little counter intuitive. Instead of distracting me, it made me even more aware and tense. Why? My brain would notice each time that the drill, suction, etc... would start up and it would make me tense about the situation all over again. I was constantly being reminded that I wasn't just watching TV or listening to music and that was even worse that just letting it all happen. Also I was always so afraid of missing some vital instruction - that my brain was also constantly straining, listening for my dentist's voice and it made appointment seem so much longer than it actually was.

  4. Get an afternoon appointment & don't go back to work - I always tell work that I will not be back. It is not much but looking forward to an hour or two mini-vacation as a treat to yourself for surviving the dentist really helps. Plus you don't have to deal with all your co-workers when your mouth is half can stay at home and slobber all over yourself.

That's it, with those 4 easy tips, you should survive your dental procedures without too much harm done.

Please note - picture above is not my tooth although I have several like it. It is used for illustration purposes only.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two Minutes Hate


There is a time and a place for bluetooth headsets.
  • You are driving and you need your hands free to drive, eat food from the drive-thru, apply makeup, change CDs, etc...
  • You are going to be on a really long you are trying to get tech support and the company has moved their customer service to India - your arm is going to go numb before that call is over.
  • You are a badass counter terrorist agent who needs hands free to kill bad guys - or if you work support for one of these badass agents

Let's be clear - you are not Jack Bauer. You are one of those people that ALWAYS has their bluetooth headset on - in restaurants, in movie theaters, in bars - you are DoucheTooth. Trust me, you are not that don't need to be that connected with your posse (plus you barely even receive any calls and the calls you do get last for less than a minute - you are a douche, no one wants to talk to you). Plus don't you think that is just rude to everyone you are with? I mean, your phone is more important than the people you are with. Come on douche, get rid of the headset when you are out. No one thinks you are cool, important, or rich because you have a bluetooth headset - they are looking at you because you have a big stupid piece of plastic hanging off your ear.

End Hate

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Welcome our Robotic Overlords

I have been using an iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum for about a year now. It doesn't work perfectly (it is an older model, I am sure the new ones are even better). You still need to pull out the regular vacuum to get the corners every couple months or so, but for the most part I am completely pleased with my robotic slave. Just the time it saves by cleaning while I am at work is worth the price. Needles from the Christmas tree? Dog hair? Dust bunnies? Nope never saw any laying around as my faithful robo-servant takes care of them everyday while I am at work.

I like my robovac so much that I can't wait to expand my robot legion (so I can become even lazier!):

Robo-chef - I like to cook, but why should I have to?

Robo-car - would help avoid road rage

Robo-dog - wouldn't complain about going outside in the snow

Robo-dino - why not just get a dinosaur instead of a dog

Robo-lover? (NSFW) - I am not sure about this one

I await the day when I do not have to lift a finger, instead sitting on the couch all day watching TV. Wait, do I really have to watch? Can't I have a robot do that too and then just pipe it into my head so I don't have to get out of bed? Of course that would be awesome, but you know that the robots will eventually revolt and take over the world. Before it all becomes a bloody mess, I would like to take a moment to say - Welcome, robotic overlords! I am here to serve. Hopefully, they will be friendly party robots.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Favorite Things

Stop Motion Animation

I love stop motion animation. I know, I know most people who like stop motion animation say that it all started with King Kong (1933) or some Ray Harryhausen film like Jason and the Argonauts. But not me, I got hooked as a child watching the Rudolph Christmas specials every year (who wanted to watch a black and white movie as a child or even some gladiator type movie from the 60s? God Forbid! What can I say, I am a child of the modern times and was only fascinated with bright, shiny objects that played on my feelings that I would soon be getting gifts.) However, my interest grew more and more each movie or show I saw containing stop motion animation from Clash of the Titans to Gumby. For me, the epitome of stop motion animation was Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas...because it was a musical (which I have previously mentioned as being a guilty pleasure) but it was also creepy and alternative cool enough that I could like it out in the open without someone mocking me for liking a "cartoon."

A couple years later and James and the Giant Peach was released. I went to see it opening day and thought it was decent...but it had a touch of sadness to it too, because there had been several articles in newspapers and magazines leading up to it's release stating that it would probably be the last stop motion animation movie made because computer animation was cheaper and faster (and supposedly all the kids liked it more). Well since the death knell was sounded over a decade ago, I am pleased to see that stop motion animation is still going strong if not thriving. Let's see: a couple Wallace and Gromit movies and shorts, Chicken Run, The Corpse Bride, Robot Chicken, The PJs, Moral Orel, and of course the upcoming Coraline (I am excitedly reading the book now). Plus all the Lego shorts on Youtube:

Stop Motion Animation has such a richer feel than computer animation. I don't necessarily mean more life-like than some computer animation...but have a deeper, more mass feel. It just resonates more deeply with me. I am amazed at what these people spend years creating 1/24th of a second at a time. I suggest everyone check out Coraline in the theater, plus it's 3D. I think they call that Two Birds with One Stone. I am very excited about it and want to take GF-Unit for Valentine's day (it is not traditional but the traditional Valentine's stuff is so generic and turns out badly)...but that is all IF I can wait that long to see it, that is a big IF. And in case you haven't figured it out...yes I am a total geek.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bloggers Anonymous

Anonymous comments have now been enabled...honestly I thought they already were but was too lazy to look through the options of my own blog (I told you I am lazy and worthless). So now you can post your perverted, depraved, and sick comments and thoughts under cover of the safe darkness of the anonymous interwebicon...or for those who just don't want to sign up for another account to post comments.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You Fools (part 2)

There must be something in the water because another of my brothers decided to get married. I got 34 years without being in a wedding and bam! two within 3 months. I do not plan on being in another wedding for quite a while now, my quota is fulfilled.

Kelly married Holly on Saturday (1/10/09)...and yes, I know how their names together are completely over saturated with Ls and Ys. The were married at the Jester Park Lodge which I had not been to before but I did highly enjoy the stuffed animals. What is a wedding without a buffalo head? I'll tell you what it is - lame.

I was the best man...but that wasn't good enough for me. I quickly renamed myself "awesomest man" instead. I set about my duties diligently - walking, standing, etc... I was incredible. I gave a rousing speech to stir the masses into action, I held the rings like no other, I lit the candles when they went out, I collected money during the (always lame) dollar dance. I was great. I didn't even declare the wedding null and void since the paperwork was filled out before the ceremony.

Kelly and Holly, I have to say you have great taste in was delicious. While you are in Vegas on your honeymoon I am going to break into your house and steal several more pieces. You will most likely come home to find me bloated and passed out on your couch, frosting on my fingers, crumbs on my chin.

Congratulations Kelly & Holly - I can't wait to check out the fair with you again.

Photos Courtesy of GF-Unit (official wedding photographer)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Two Minutes Hate

Idiot Drivers

Idiot drivers is a hate that many people share...they are the ones that make normal people have road rage. I am talking about the people who think that they can go 60mph in poor conditions when everyone else is going 30-35 mph. Yes, I witnessed this first hand on Friday night. I was not surprised when he started to fishtail and slide out of control a few car lengths ahead of me - back and forth across four lanes of traffic nearly taking out three cars (who were driving correctly) and the center concrete barrier before coming to rest about five feet from my car. Luckily for everyone else, no one was damaged or injured. Unluckily for the driver he/she was also not damaged so I am sure they also didn't learn a lesson and will be in a ditch or accident before the winter is through. I have to laugh at the people who think they are invincible in inclement weather just because they have four wheel drive. Four wheel drive helps certainly but you still need to drive smart (I am specifically thinking about you Hummer that I saw on your side in the ditch over the weekend...Hummer's not driving so well when the wheels aren't touching the ground, huh?)

But their are all kinds of idiots out there - the kind that pass in dangerous situations so that they can gain an entire car length, the kind that keep turning left even though their green arrow had turned red 3 cars ago (and this is always much worse during the holidays), the kind that feel that even though it is slick out they are entitled to make their 'right on red' in front of oncoming traffic, and that is just to name a few. I can't claim to be a perfect driver - I have made my own mistakes but 99% of the time I am a pretty decent driver who believes that common sense and courtesy are things much needed in some drivers.

End Hate

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas 2008

It was a pretty good Christmas, I got some decent gifts (although sadly no Muppet Whatnot from fact a shocking lack of Muppets involved all around) and I gave some decent gifts.

My theory of Christmas is a lot different than a lot of people's...I don't tell people what I really want...although reading this blog I have mentioned some items that I do love - but was not really expecting. I give my mom a list of things because I know she is busy taking care of America (human) and shopping for a whole list of people, but everyone else I will pretty much just let them figure it out. I am not usually looking to get anything specific - I more just enjoy seeing what other people think I will like. It is not a test - I am not thinking to myself "How well does this person know me?" I just like to see how other people interpret me. Does that make sense? There have been various levels of success and failure over the years.

GF_Unit did really well this year after I mentioned the Millennium Falcon quilt from Pottery Barn. She did not go out and buy me one, thank god...because I would have said "You spent $230 on a blanket? Seriously?" No, GF_Unit took the idea and hand made me a Millennium Falcon blanket. Big bonus points for that. It turned out pretty awesome...especially for being handcrafted in a short period of time. I can't imagine the time and effort that it took to make. It is much better than a $230 one (although I do reserve the right to still buy one if they go on sale!). The picture below doesn't do it justice. Is it perfect? No but it is much more heartfelt and it means a lot to me. Hopefully George Lucas doesn't sue her for copyright infringement. Now I look like a total dork with my Star Wars blanket and hoodie.

Homemade Gift from GF_Unit

Original Inspiration

Now if only I could get a Muppet Whatnot from FAO for my birthday...nudge, nudge, wink, you know what I mean.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Two Minutes Hate Tuesday

Destroying My Childhood Memories (part 1)

I understand people want to make money...and a easy/lazy way to do that is to make a sequel to a beloved movie or TV show. That is fine...some sequels have been awesome (Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Godfather part 2 for example). However, sequels are low quality, low budget, misguided affairs. Disney is the master at this...but what I saw over vacation made even their partial birth abortions of straight to video films seem like Oscar nominees.

This movie is basically the devil. It takes the awesome stop-motion characters from the 1964 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (a show that I love and usually watch yearly although I haven't been able to catch it the past couple, which led to my desperation of trying to watch RtRNRatIoMT) and puts them in a new story. This probably would have been acceptable if they were true to the original animation and characters...after all I also watched the Miser Brothers' Christmas and didn't hate it. But no...they went the lazy CG route.

Original Hermey & Rudolph

New CG Hermey & Rudolph

Yes, I suppose you can tell it is the same characters (if you really tried)...but the new computer animation characters have no soul. They are boring, their world is boring, there is no charm. The animation immediately made me want to retch. I couldn't concentrate, the plot and story slipped through my mind as I stared in a dumbfounded stupor at what the had done. And Rudolph's nose? No longer does it just glow, it shoots freaking laser beams across the room...demonstrated by Rudolph lighting up a disco ball for the elf holiday ball (or something like that). I had to turn it off withing about 10 minutes or risk my brain dying. Oh and Richard Dreyfuss is no Burl Ives, that's for sure - yes, I know they are different snowmen (Original = Sam, New Crappy Snowman = Scoop) but the quality, the quality was the thing that was missing. Even Elf did a good job at emulating the original...and that was such a small part of the story that they didn't have to.

Stop screwing up the things I love with terrible sequels (this means you too George Lucas - I'll probably get to you in part 2).

End Hate.

Monday, January 5, 2009

One Reason I Suck

I have been on vacation the past two weeks...doing the holiday things with my family and GF_Unit's family. I had meant to still post while I was vacationing but then I decided that I was much too lazy. What can I say, I suck...didn't you read the title of this blog? I am unreliable, I'll lie, I'll cheat, I'll Benedict Arnold your ass when you aren't looking.

I am back to a normal schedule now though and will be posting various hates, rants, and rambling incoherency on a semi-regular basis again. Before the end of the week, I hope to post my thoughts about the Christmas gifts I received (and the lack of Muppets therein)...but overall it was a pretty good haul.