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Monday, October 31, 2005

Not that you care...

...but my head hurts, and I don't want to be here right now.

Further updates as events warrant.

Friday, October 28, 2005

My latest musical obsession

Coheed & Cambria
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness

Upon listening to music with which I have not yet been exposed, I can have one of several reactions:

  • Outright dislike, which doesn't happen that often. There isn't much music that I actively dislike.
  • Indifference, which is what usually happens. The music goes in one ear and out the other without affecting me. I hear it, but I don't like it or dislike. I won't actively seek it out or shun it.
  • Moderate appreciation. I like this music somewhat. If it comes on the radio, I'll pay attention to it. I may even be tempted to buy it, but usually I'll regret it if I do, because I don't like it that much that I want to listen to it often enough to have justified the purchase.
  • Obsession. This is music I've fallen in love with. It gets played repeatedly, to the exclusion of almost everything else. I'll listen to something else almost reluctantly, then I'll fall back to listening to my obsession. It's usually not just one song, but a whole album. Sometimes that's a bad thing, as I'll get burned out on it.
People who have read me before may know that I am moderately obsessed with Rush. The obsession on my MP3 player for the longest time has been Vapor Trails (an album which -- to me -- keeps just getting better).

For the last several weeks, Coheed & Cambria's (I think the ampersand is required, and not the word "and") album Good Apollo, etc has become my obsession. I found it when I was checking out the latest album by The Mars Volta, Frances the Mute. It was ok, but I wasn't thrilled with it. But on the Amazon page for the album, I saw that a similar group was Co&Ca. So, ok, I checked out their samples, then went to their site, and found a video to their song "Welcome Home". Sounded pretty cool, so I decided to pick up the album. End of story. I'm hooked.

There are those who describe C&C as emo, emo-core, or pop/punk, and compare them to groups like Good Charlotte or Sum 41 (neither of whom are pop/punk in any case. Pop/punk would be Green Day, whose album American Idiot is a post-punk masterpiece). CoCa is none of those. This album is best described as progressive, prog-rock, or prog-metal. I can understand the comparisons to emo, because their overall tone (guitar tone is what I'm thinking of) is very trebly and high-end, not bass heavy, like other groups more directly identifiable as prog (in my mind, Tool and System of a Down). But, according to most definitions of progressive rock, CC clearly fit the bill.

For a history and description of the band, you could probably do no better than their Wikipedia entry. The entry also describes who "Coheed" and "Cambria" actually are (fictional characters in a sci-fi epic, whose story is told in the companion graphic novels written by C&C frontman Claudio Sanchez). All three of their albums supposedly revolve around various plot-points in these stories. Ok, whatever. I'm not a lyrics guy, so I don't really care about that.

Ok, so what gets me about this music? First, the song structure is complex. It's not your typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. There are themes and motifs that appear throughout the album. Next, the orchestration (instrumental arrangement) of the songs is involved and involving. Often, the two guitars are playing different but related riffs which counterpoint each other very well. Third, these guys have chops. They know how to play their instruments. And not just in a Randy Rhoads-y show-offy kind of way. Their playing is complex and intricate but suits the songs very well.

These guys have often been compared to Rush, usually because of singer Claudio Sanchez' voice. It is high-pitched, sometimes to the point of squeakiness, so comparisons to Geddy Lee are natural. But I find that Sanchez' voice is actually more musical than Geddy's. And his phrasing is often very unusual. Yes, I can see where his voice might be grating (just like I can see where Geddy's voice might be grating), but it doesn't bother me.

However, I find other comparisons to Rush more appropriate. Their chops, their way of utilizing riffs, and their song structures are what make them seem comparable in my opinion.

I'm hoping that CoCa's earlier albums are of a similar quality to their latest offering, because they are on my wish-list now.

It's not often that I find music that I consider worthy of repeated listening. I'm glad I found these guys, and I look forward to their future releases.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quotable quotes, edition XLVIII

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it

Thomas Jefferson, to Archibald Stuart, 1791

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

More on tribalism

From Mike Rogers, writing at Lew Rockwell:
Why do Americans care when two of their soldiers are killed in a foreign country? But when tens of thousands of innocents – in their own homes – in their own country – are bombed and murdered by us, it is not even reported in American news? Why do the brainwashed cry when one or two soldiers are killed fighting in a country – a country that they had no business being in the first place – but don’t care for the innocent children murdered by those soldiers at the same time? Why do people care about someone whose only relationship to them actually is a government issued passport? Why don’t people shed a tear for 10,000 dead in an earthquake in that foreign land? Could it really be because of a passport? Is it really just because of brainwashing and indoctrination we have all received since the day we were born?

Monday, October 24, 2005

End Times Are Nigh

Or not. Global warming, global cooling, global disasters, what's going on with Planet Earth? Are things getting worse? Says Bob Carroll in the latest newsletter from The Skeptic's Dictionary:
The smart money says that nothing special is going on. You are on the planet Earth. It's cooling down from its formation several billion years ago. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning fires, and the like are common fare on this planet. If these things weren't happening, it's likely the planet would not be habitable. When none of these things occurs any more, the planet will be dead. It will become a nice place to visit, though, like Mars.

By the way, The Skeptic's Dictionary is a wonderful resource. If you have read anything that smacks a bit of supernatural nonsense, chances are good that there's an article on the site about it.

Likewise, for those unfamiliar with it, Snopes.com is a great resource to check up on those e-mail rumors you get telling you about hypodermic syringes found in coke cans and e-mails that swear you can earn $10,000 just by forwarding that self-same e-mail to all your closest friends. My favorite recent rumor to tell people they were wrong about was that Mars would be passing so close to the Earth in its orbit that it would look "as large as the full moon to the naked eye".

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Harriet Miers confirmation hearing imagined

Catallarchy links to a clairvoyant who has foreseen the Harriet Miers confirmation hearing:
Harriet Miers walks into the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings. Arlen Specter asks her, “Ms. Miers, how would you describe your approach to interpreting the Constitution?”

Miers, visibly excited, says, “I’m glad you asked. My approach is really quite interesting. I think you’ll like it.”

“Well then,” Specter says. “Let’s hear it.”

Miers launches into an explanation: “Well, first thing I do is find a fairly quiet room with a clean desk. I put the Constitution on one side of the desk, and a Bible on the other. I then completely disrobe, as to be completely unfettered for the job at hand.”

“Uh, Ms. Miers, I’m not sure that—”

“I then take the Constitution and stick it all the way up my ass. This is fairly difficult, because I like to use a large, leather-bound version, but I’ve gotten much better at it. It’s usually just the gold-plated index tabs that hurt.”

It gets better...

See here for the inspiration for the posting...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Comment spam

Comment spam sucks. Just within the past couple of weeks, I started receiving more spam comments than real comments. Blogger would let me add one of those "enter the word you see graphically represented above here" thingies to my comment page, but I am very loath to put any kind of obstruction in front of any of the very few people who post real comments here. So I suppose I'll just put up with the spam for now, at least until such time as the spam becomes truly onerous...

When someone says...

When someone says that he or she is crazy, as in, "Oh, don't mind me, you know I'm crazy," I am inevitably *not* thinking that he or she is crazy, rather I am thinking that he or she is simply annoying.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Jabberwocky... just cuz

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
   And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
   The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
   Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
   And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
   The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
   And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
   The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
   He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
   Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
   He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
   And the mome raths outgrabe.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

eBay listing: Handknit Mermaid Scarf

A friend of a friend asked me to mention this eBay listing. It's a "Mermaid Scarf" that his wife knit by hand. You can see the listing here.

Pretty cute, no? Worth a bid or two I'd say...