Friday, May 29, 2009

Great Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About (pt2)

Naked Rhythm




Naked Rhythm was a band that I happened to catch opening for Saigon Kick at Big Dogs in Cedar Rapids around '95/'96. I wasn't expecting much. Big Dogs had a habit of booking horrible local bands for the openers and not having heard of them before, I figured they were more of the same.


I couldn't have been more wrong. They were great. Interesting songs, cool lyrics, good beats, and terrific riffs...all with a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure. They were an awesome match with Saigon Kick and really got the crowd into a good mood for the headliner. Pretty much the perfect opening band. Probably my favorite opening band that I hadn't previously heard about. I bought their one and only CD that night and it spent weeks in my player. It is called Fatbox and you can often pick it up on eBay for around $3, it is well worth it. I have bought this CD at least 5 times because I have given my out to others who liked what they heard.


Naked Rhythm are kind of a Hardrock/Funk fusion type band (good I hate people who always describe music as 'fusion'). Sort of like a heavier version of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Very good, very talented musicians. I would love to link you to some music...but I haven't really been able to find it online. Since their time there has been a couple dance bands and belly dancing troupes named Naked Rhythm and their crap is clogging the interwebicon from the delicious candy center that I would like to share with you.


A few examples of lyrics instead.


Mountain:

We hate life until we get stoned,


but once we do we'd rather be alone.


I don't smoke, but that seemed like a pretty accurate and honest statement to me.



Brown Billy Goat:


I've got a brown billy goat,


with great big genitals...


and I'm on medication from the pain.


This song just cracked me up live.



Cafe Improv is probably my favorite piece on the album. It is a piece that they recorded live at an open mic night type event. A microphone, a subtle bass, and a soft drum. It is simple and beautiful. You can hear people chatting and forks and plates clanking in the background but that makes it seem even more heartfelt, sincere, and beautiful. His opening statement of "I wrote this song for me" seems just perfect for this piece. Although when I first got the album I was a little annoyed by all this and wanted a polished studio version. I still wouldn't mind one but I love this song for all its quirks and imperfections.


I wish they had more of a chance and had more music available. I think this is one of those cases where a bands name works against them. Their name just didn't fit there style (and you know it is next to impossible to get radio stations to even listen to something with "Naked" in the title). I'm not saying that is the only reason you never heard of them, but it sure didn't help.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Update - Twilight (I Was Right!)

Finished Twilight last week, here is a recap of the second-half.

Bella did end up in the hospital with a broken leg, broken ribs, and many cuts and bruises...and what did Edward tell everyone? Yep, that she fell down the stairs. Ha ha ha. Oh and that he must really love her because he was able to stop.

Nothing like getting teen girls used to the idea that abusive relationships are good. Way to go!

I'm sure that was all in the movie, but I tried to block as much of the movie from my mind as possible. I was cracking up when I read this.

I am now cleansing my brain with His Dark Materials #3, before I give Twilight 2: More Twilightier (or is it Twilight 2: Twilight-Boogaloo?) a try.

Two Minutes Hate

Playoff Beards




I like hockey and watch it the from September to June every year. I am used to seeing the players in various states. Well rested and happy, tired and grumpy, shaven and unshaven at various times. The tradition of the Playoff Beards bothers me though.

Playoff beards are a tradition where hockey players stop shaving once the playoffs start. Players will not shave until they win the Stanley Cup (or trophy for whatever league they play in) or are knocked out of the playoffs. I don't like this tradition for one simple reason..people in this country are much more likely to catch a hockey game during the playoffs than at any other time during the season. More games are on regular TV, there is more advertising, more press coverage, and a little more excitement when people know it is the playoffs. So what do all these people who are new to hockey see? Players that look like crap - unprofessional, hairy Sasquatch men.


That is no way to gain fans - I would think people would rather watch clean-cut, good looking guys play hockey rather than a bunch of hillbillies. Plus how can that even be comfortable? I go without shaving for a couple weeks and it drives me crazy, it itches, it makes it awkward to sleep, and hard to concentrate at times. Plus ugly. I can't even make it through No-Shave November!

Here is an example - former Iowa Chops Captain Ajay Baines. Maybe not the most handsome guy ever, but clean shaven is definitely better than the bat shit crazy mountain man from a couple years ago when he won the Calder Cup.
Playoff beards make me think that I am a poor excuse for a human male because these guys (who are 10+ years younger than me) can grow better beards in a couple weeks than I can in months. Oh well.
End Hate

Friday, May 22, 2009

Honorable Mentions - Books

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn



It is hard to explain Ishmael. It has a man who feels something is missing in his life and it has a monkey (gorilla actually). What more do you need? I am well aware that this sounds horrible to most people. I was skeptical at first too when assigned to read it for a Criminology class. It is about environmentalism, it is about human nature, it is about knowing yourself, and living in harmony with nature. Still sound awful? Yeah probably. It's hard to explain but even through all these horrible new-age precepts, it is in fact an amazing book. I wouldn't call it "life changing" although it definitely made me think more about my life. It describes all the bad things that man has done to the world, environment, etc...but does that doesn't mean he is a criminal, it was his evolution, his growing as race. Of course, that doesn't mean that we need to stay on the same track, we are evolved enough to realize we need to change without demonizing ourselves.



I am still explaining it badly. I would suggest you pick it up and read it sometime (it is short), I don't think you will be disappointed. I plan on re-reading it soon.



BTW - there are other books in the Ishmael series: My Ishmael and The Story of B. These aren't nearly as good and haven't actually partially ruined the magic of the first book for me. On their own they might have been OK, but as sequels to Ishmael they were disappointing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Minutes Hate

Strawberry Milkshake Oreos


Actually I love strawberry milkshake oreos (even though I just had them for the first time)...but I hate their packaging.


The packaging is not the normal oreo packaging, it is in a bag where you can roll up the end and clip closed for freshness (instead of the resealable packaging). I am not opposed to this type of packaging in theory, even if it does take longer to get at my delicious cookies.


I have a problem when this packaging is presented in such a way that that it makes the product look bigger than it is. Hold a package of unopened strawberry oreos next to a package of regular oreos and they are nearly the same size. Open your strawberry oreos and you will be sadden by your small pile of cookies. It is literally less than half of the oreos in a regular pack, for more money. The plastic tray is bulkier, the oreos are oriented funny, there is just a lot of empty space in the package...all to make it look like the same size. Come on Nabisco, I know strawberry filling doesn't cost that much more.


Secondly, on the bag there is printed the phrase "Remove Cookie Tray This Side Up" (or something like that). I couldn't wait to eat my cookies, so I was opening them while I was at a stop light. The light turned green just as I got the package open. As I start to drive, I am trying to pull out the cookie tray. Oh, by the way the "This Side Up" message is printed on the bottom of the bag...but it is goofy packaging so you might not notice if you are a little distracted. I was very close to having delicious cookies all over my floor pan. Luckily I am a multi-tasker and noticed before the mistake and before a crash. I am pretty sure the package was meant to say something like "Open this End" which is completely different from what it says.
Finally Nabisco, why can't I find the yummy looking Banana Split Creme Oreos any place around here?
End Hate
Picture borrowed from Tiny Muffins Flickr page.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Welcome to the Matrix

Yesterday (May 17th), a young Hulsebus was born to my brother, Kelly, and his wife, Holly. Braeden - btw not a huge fan of the name - tried coming out a few days earlier but the doctors used some kind of corking contraption and kept him in a few days longer in order to administer drugs to help his lungs develop.





Braeden was 6 weeks early (completely amatuer in arriving early since I was 12 weeks early). So he is still the NICU and has tubes and sensors all over him. Well either that or they are harvesting his body energy to run the machine society. Anyhow, they have the heat lamps set to "Well Done" and continue to feed him delicious sugar water through tubes so I am sure he will be fine shortly. I mean seriously, 4 lbs 15ounces? You beat me by over 2 pounds. You'll be fine kiddo. Heck, you already had the Al Bundy pose down when I came to see you...you were totally grabbing your junk, so I know you'll be good.


If you didn't have a private room in the NICU, I would have totally done this for you (see video), but it is no fun without other babies and parents to humiliate.










Welcome to the real world, congratulations on escaping your pod.


Congratulations to all, job well done. Everyone is getting along just fine. Braeden, I guarantee that I will teach you many bad habits and give you the gifts that make a lot of noise to annoy your parents.
You can view more pictures of Braeden as taken by GF-Unit, at www.kellyandholly.shutterfly.com

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twilight in 5 sentences (first half)

Summarizing the first half of Twilight in 5 sentences.

Bella: You're a dick.
Edward: We shouldn't be friends.
Bella: But you're so purty.
Edward saves Bella.



I think this is how abusive relationships begin. In the second half of the book that Edward will beat the crap out of Bella, say he did it because "He loves her SO much," and use his persuasion powers to convince everyone she 'ran into the door' or 'fell down the stairs.'

Honorable Mentions - Books

There are a few books that I am seriously considering re-reading even though it is not my normal Modus Operandi.





This is a love story that has a very mild sci-fi touch. Basically the main character of the story, Henry, has a disorder called Chrono Displacement Disorder that randomly causes him to physically time travel to various parts of his life...past or future. If you are not a sci-fi fan, you should not be scared of this book. It is sci-fi lite, no real science or geeky formulas or anything. The sci-fi just provides an interesting stage for a great love story.


I am a sucker for time travel stories (I am not sure why), so when I saw this displayed on the new releases shelf at the bookstore I immediately picked it up. I was snared by a quote the was printed along the display that went something like this "Henry met his wife, Claire, for the first time when he was 28 and she was 20. Claire, however, has known Henry her entire life meeting him when he was in his 40s and she was 6 years old." That was just too intriguing of a hook for me to pass up.


What I really liked about this book was the narrative style. For the most part, the first half of the book is from Henry's point of view. Him travelling, learning about his condition, and meeting his wife at a younger age. Henry always seems to be wise since he knows so much about the future. The second half of the book is more from Claire's point of view. We have caught up to the present and now Claire is the one with all the knowledge because all of these time travel trips happened when she was a little girl. The style was just completely engaging and made you want to read just one more chapter.


This is on the top of my list of books to re-read when I have the time and desire. It probably would have happened already but a co-worker borrowed it and quit before returning it...even though I had asked for it. What a bitch! I'm sure I will buy it again sometime in the very near future...it is probably my favorite book that I randomly picked up. Definitely my favorite written in the past few years. Maybe not a classic, but definitely a nice, fun read.


The movie is set to release in August. I am not sure how I feel about that. I don't think it will be able to match the feeling of the book, but I thought that about Lord of the Rings and they did a good job. Not happy that Eric Bana is Henry as I always found him somewhat blasé. Rachel McAdams will be a good Claire though...and Ron Livingston is in it, so bonus points there.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two Minutes Hate


"Green" TV shows annoy me. You know the home improvement shows that show you how to be more eco-friendly and hopefully save money in the long run. I actually think this is a great thing and am working on becoming more eco-friendly myself. I am starting to recycle more (although I am still not sure if this really helps - see Penn & Tellers Bullshit episode about this), use rechargeable batteries, and I replace my light bulbs with compact fluorescents as needed. But that is the key "As needed". These "Green" shows always come in and say "You need to replace all your bulbs." I don't see how replacing all your light bulbs right away is any help to the planet. Seems to me that a lot of energy and materials went into making those bulbs just to toss them out. I just don't know if the materials and energy that went into the original bulbs is offset by the energy saved by the new bulbs. I think it would take a while to make up that difference.

The whole thing reminds me of something hetero life-pal CT joked when gas finally dropped in price last summer: "I just got gas a couple days ago, I drove around to get rid of all my old, expensive gas so I could fill up with the cheap stuff." Throwing something out that works just to get replace it with something that works a little better seems wasteful to me. Sure if you double your MPGs on a car, that would make a big difference...but a light bulb that is maybe on in my house an hour a day or even a week?

Another example - the Wal-Mart commercial that talks about how many trees can be saved if every Wal-Mart customer bought a little portable carpet cleaner instead of using paper towels. Sure but what about all the components that go into making this plastic cleaner. Paper towels will biodegrade much faster than this portable cleaner. I just don't know if everyone bought one if it would really be a net plus for earth...now if they were promoting reusable cloth towels instead of paper towels, I could get behind that. This just seemed too much of a jump in logic.


End Hate

Monday, May 11, 2009

Living in a Rerun


No, not that kind.
I have a hard time re-reading books. Even if I like it. Re-reading just makes me feel like I am living in a rerun. I think it is because I am not totally engrossed by most books. I enjoy them as I am reading them but I don't really feel like I am part of the story. So re-reading most books is like watching a rerun on TV, not nearly as entertaining because you know what is going to happen and what each character is going to do. For example, I just re-read A Wrinkle in Time a few weeks ago because I hadn't read it since I was in Fifth Grade and although I found it interesting, I never went any further with the series. I was in the mood for something sci-fi, time travel easy read so I picked up Wrinkle for the first time in about 25 years. It was still good and I enjoyed it, but still a rerun. I knew what Meg was going to do and all about freaky little Charles Wallace. Sure, I might have forgotten some nuances but most of the book seemed like a review (which is what I wanted before I started reading the other books). Luckily it was a short and quick read because by the end even this 25 year old rerun was having trouble keeping my attention. My brain started going "I need NEW information, I am done with this."


Since Christmas, I have tried re-reading Stephen King's The Stand. I first read it in Seventh or Eighth grade. I liked it a lot and really set me up to love the Dark Tower series. Six months after I finished The Stand, the unabridged version was released. I was pissed! I always read and recommend the unabridged versions (with the exception of Les Mis). The extra details usually really pull me into the story. GF-Unit gave me the unabridged version for Christmas and since I did like the story so much, I thought I would be able to re-read. I was wrong. I got about 200 pages in before I had to switch to something else because it was boring me. I liked all the new detail and small side stories but the "original parts" were driving me crazy. I think I am going to try to keep reading it but it is going to be a little bit at a time between other books.



There have been a very small number of books that I have been able to read and highly enjoy more than once...and look forward to reading again. There are some similarities, I think...aka Big, Epic, Multi-Book Series, usually dealing with good and evil.


  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - I first read The Hobbit and attempted LOTR in fifth grade. I read it about every 3-4 years since...although I haven't had much desire since the movies came out (although I read them right before their release). I just don't think I would get as much enjoyment since I will now always be reminded of Rudy being Samwise, Huck Finn being Frodo, etc... Or it might be that the movies were so pervasive throughout culture for several years that I am still feeling a little burnt out. And no, the 13 hour movie marathon on opening day of Return of the King - where I sat in a theater from 11am till 2am did not help things...although it was neat seeing the extended versions of the first two films on the big screen.



  2. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King - I've always liked Stephen King but after reading for several years during middle school was slowly growing tired of horror books. I first read the initial book (The Gunslinger) in 1989 when I bought it with a gift certificate that I got for Christmas. I was in Eighth Grade and already starting to tire of Stephen King. This book however, drew me back with the amazing artwork in the first trade paperback edition. After just glancing at the cover, I knew I was going to buy it. Since then I would eagerly await each installment pre-ordering and starting to read it the first day it was available. Roland is the badass Jack Bauer of cowboys, just trying to save the multi-dimensional universe (or is he?). Yes, I was totally freaked out when Stephen King was hit by a car and I didn't know if he would be able to finish the series. I am still a little disappointed that the books took on a different tone after the accident, but at least there is some closure.



  3. DragonLance - Chronicles & Legends Trilogies by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Being a geeky, slightly built kid who was relatively intelligent but liked things like knights and dragons (definitely a social outcast) and was definitely not very physical; I really identified with the character Raistlin Majere(beside who doesn't want to challenge the Gods to take their place?). Although I also identified strongly Sturm Brightblade and his honor code. These are a quick read and not as deep in details and histories as LOTR, but still more in depth with a feeling of history than most fiction. They always make me wonder what I would sacrifice for family, friends, and ambition. BTW - besides these 6 books (there are now like hundreds) most the books with the Dragonlance name are pretty much terrible.




                          4. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (the Five book Trilogy) by Douglas Adams - These books always make me laugh out loud when I read them. They are consistently hilarious even after having read them 4 or 5 times. If I am feeling down and having trouble getting into any new books, HGTTG is always there to make me happy, smile, and remind me why I like reading.


                          There are a few books that I am tempted to re-read. So far I have not found enough desire to actually do it. I will probably go over some of those in the near future because there is some fabulous reading in there.

                          Friday, May 8, 2009

                          I Feel Dirty

                          GF-Unit asked me to read the Twilight books. She read and enjoyed them. I deduced that she enjoyed them highly from her gasping and "Oh my god"s that escaped her while reading the final one. She wants someone to talk about them with and instead of finding another person who has read them (I am sure there are plenty of 13 year old girls she could rave about Edward with), she has asked me to give them a try.

                          Reluctantly, I have agreed because I figure I can't complain too much until I actually read them...then I can complain all I want (and I'm not buying them, so I am not really supporting them). I just got back from my lunch break where I read a little bit (very little 15 pages!). Nothing has even happened yet and already I feel dirty from the book. I am sure it would be better if I hadn't seen the movie. Although the deleted scene that CT linked to was awesome and a better movie it would have been had it been included.
                          Anyhow, if you see me reading these books, please know that it is only as a favor to GF-Unit (and her taste is suspect).

                          Thursday, May 7, 2009

                          Stop Sending Me Your Whiffle Ball Scores

                          I am not a big sports fan. I like hockey and that is about it. Since I am not a fan, I really don't care for talking about sports with people. I don't know the players you are talking about (for the most part), I have only the more cursory knowledge of the teams, heck even the sports themselves I am probably half vague on the rules.




                          As much as I don't care talking about sports...I care even less about talking about your season on the Madden video game. I do like video games but again not a big sports fan with the exception of hockey and golf. For me the best games for any other sport are usually the ones where the characters have small bodies, big heads, and come in cartoon character varieties: AKA - Mario sports varieties.



                          I don't care how much your Madden game is like the real thing or how different the rosters are from real life, how much better your team is, etc... I don't care because I don't care about the real thing, so why would I care about a video game version. Please don't update me on this type of thing every time I see you.* This is worst than if you told me how your weekly whiffle ball game went...because it is whiffle ball.**




                          *This is only for sports games. Other genres of games that I find interesting, I am more than happy to talk about...but you know I don't like sports, so just stop it.


                          **Don't get me wrong, Whiffle Ball is awesome. Just not something anyone over the age of seven should be bragging about.

                          Tuesday, May 5, 2009

                          Two Minutes Hate

                          Esteem for New Yorker Cartoons

                          I like The New Yoker. I think it has some good essays and a lot of interesting content. However, I have never been a huge fan of their cartoons. There are about 20 per issue/week. I usually find 3 or 4 funny, 5 or 6 vaguely ironic, and the rest pretty idiotic. Normally, I would not care about something like that, I would just be "It's good or it's not." The 3 or 4 each issue that ARE funny and witty, just prove how bad and irrelevant the others are. My problem is that I have met several people who seem to think New Yorker cartoons are the wittiest of all social commentary (and saying I met several people means a large percentage, since in Iowa I don't know a lot of people who read The New Yorker). When having a conversation with these people, they tend to take on that attitude that I don't find it funny because I don't understand it. Their vastly superior intelligence is able to grasp the essence of the comic while my mere mortal brain cannot comprehend the intricacies that make it humorous. Umm, wrong. I usually understand them fine, it just that they are not funny to me. One example - the "green vehicle" made out of a giant banana? Dumb...not even original, I'm pretty sure I saw similar drawings from grade school kids (but then again, I am a simpleton). I just don't get why some people must defend the New Yorker comics as a whole instead of admitting that a few are just not good comics. Oh right, they're stuck up pricks.

                          I will stick with The Far Side to get my fix of single panel humor. Gary Larson, I wish you were still publishing regularly. I miss you. I can read and re-read The Far Side and it is always funny.

                          Amendment - I think in the past few years, the New Yorker has been using a greater selection of artists with a wider variety of humor. I think this has helped improve the comics selection over all, although there are still a few complete dogs each issue.

                          End Hate

                          Friday, May 1, 2009

                          The Problems with Dan Brown


                          Spoiler alert - if you plan on seeing Angels & Demons and/or haven't seen/read The DaVinci Code and plan on doing either, you may want to skip this post as it will definitely contain spoilers.






                          I don't hate Dan Brown or his books (hence why it is not in a Two Minute Hate post...more of a annoyance). I've read Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code. I thought they were OK. Decent enough for what they were. I liked how he show cased artwork around both and got many people looking and and thinking about art. I thought that was great. I enjoyed the puzzles and riddles. I enjoyed the ambigrams. But a few things have always bothered me about him.


                          1. Dan Brown's ideas on the grail are not really new or original. 20 years ago when I was in 7th and 8th grade, I was really into knights and the Arthurian legends. I know I read several books around this time about the grail and the possibility that it was possibly a person and the bloodline of Christ. I know it is not Dan Brown's fault that many people think this is his original idea, but it bugs me that so many people thought it was such a new and novel idea. I guess it is good that he is raising people's consciousness about it though and if it gets them thinking all the better.



                          2. Dan Brown writes really short chapters. This style of writing tricks people into thinking a book is more exciting than it really is because there is like a mini-cliffhanger every few pages. People keep wanting to read "just one more chapter." I think it is great that people are reading and want to keep reading, however, I always thought this kind of writing seemed more of a cheat to readers. It makes the pace of the book fast but it doesn't allow the readers to really think about the story. Just look at the movie, it was just the opposite - long, boring, and full of plot holes...and yet it had everything the book had, your brain just wasn't tricked by short chapters. Reading a book written in this style always makes me feel like I am reading a book written for 6th graders (not that that is bad because I love young adult literature). I just don't feel like my brain is being utilized. James Patterson writes in a similar style, and I don't like it there either.



                          3. Dan Brown doesn't seem to like handicapped people. Leigh Teabing, the mastermind of the evil plot in The DaVinci Code, walked with a cane and a limp due to polio. Maximillian Kohler in Angels and Demons, is paralyzed and in a wheel chair. I guess he isn't the "bad guy" per se because he is not trying to blow up millions of people, but he's not really a "good guy" since he is trying to destroy the Christian religion. Now, I don't think people with handicaps should be excluded from being villains, but two books in a row in the series with villains being physically challenged seems a little above average. Especially since they are the only handicapped people in the books (from what I remember).



                          4. The books are way too similar. Example, read the first chapter of each book back to back...Robert Langdon awoken in the middle of the night to look at picture of a body with a symbol on it... I seriously thought to myself "Haven't I already read this?" when I picked up The DaVinci Code.



                          That all being said, will I read his new Robert Langdon book when it comes out? Yes, but I'll probably bum a used copy from someone. Will I see the new Angels & Demons movie? Possibly but not till it is on cable.



                          PS - although his ambigrams were good (like Earth, Air, Fire above). It doesn't come close to the Princess Bride DVD cover that was created last year. It is one of my favorite images for a movie in a long time. Nice work design department on the new cover! I am impressed that a studio would spend so much time on a 20+ year old movie. It made me buy the DVD. Here it is both ways.