4/30/2004

so I saw "Envy" last night and i was disappointed. It's the movie with TV ads out now with Jack Black and Ben Stiller. Black invents a spray that makes dog poo disappear and Stiller, his neighbor and best friend, gets jealous. It's a funny idea and has funny stars, but it wasn't that great of a movie, I would say it was "amusing" more than funny. there were some amusing parts and some pretty funny images, like a horse running through Stiller's lawn, tons of telephone and high-voltage wires over his little crummy house, and Jack Black's weird clothes, but nothing was laugh-out-loud hilarious. And considering it was directed by Barry Levinson, who did movies like "Wag the Dog" and "Rain Man" and "Good Morning Vietnam" and it was produced by Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld, it had me thinking it'd be really funny. It seemed like it was rushed or something, I saw the boom microphone a couple times in the shot and some of the storylines just sort of trailed off such as (warning, skip this part and go to the next paragraph if you don't want it to be ruined) people always ask "where does the poo go?" but the question is never answered.

The movie reminded me of "Head of State", the movie where Chris Rock runs for president with Bernie Mac as his running mate. Again, two funny guys, but not that funny of a movie.

4/28/2004

so i'm sitting at my desk listening to this tool contractor from accenture say all this cliche corporate-speak crap. it's bizarre, I didn't think people actually existed who talked like this outside of TV commercials, and it's apparent the guy is really into it too. which is weird, because if he's at my office he can't have that high of a position. anyway, he's talking to some new employee of accenture about how great the company is, how he's "on the ground level" and "the sky's the limit," and profits are up and "we're playing the big boys now, IBM, Microsoft" etc etc. It's kind of surreal, like how did I get to this point? I expect him to give the new employee a poster of a crew team or a flying plane or something, you know, the ones with the black background and "TEAMWORK" or "MOTIVATION" or whatever underneath. weird.

4/26/2004

So I got The Thrills' debut album, "So Much For the City", and it's excellent. I figured I'd write a review, sort of to practice if I want to write reviews in the future:

The Thrills are an Irish band with a thing for California. The fivesome's debut album, "So Much for the City," sounds a lot like early 60's pop music, especially the Beatles or the Monkees, with a healthy dose of modern-day California thrown in. The songs are well-crafted pop with frequent Beach Boys-style harmonies, catchy choruses and a mostly optimistic, sunny viewpoint. The CD is almost a tour of California, both geographically and of the Golden State's rock music. Like many Beach Boys songs, most of the songs either mention or are about some location in California, like "Big Sur," "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)," "Hollywood Kids," and the choruses of others, and The Thrills even sing part of the chorus of "Hey Hey We're the Monkees," replacing the "we" with "you." It's hard to tell if the reference is tongue-in-cheek or actually references a love for the music, or a little of both. The song "Big Sur," one of their singles, is excellent. It's up-tempo, like many songs on the album, and is very catchy and happy sounding but not corny or cliche. A rolling banjo plays a big role, and helps add to the song's laid back, sunny vibe. Lead singer Conor Deasy's voice is reminiscent of Jason Lytle, the lead singer of Grandaddy, mixed with the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Stephen Malkmus of Pavement. It's high, almost falsetto, though it's soft and whispery at times, especially on slower songs like "Travelling Through" and "Deckchairs and Cigarettes" (which, as usual, mentions going to San Diego while adding the sounds of waves and seagulls).

The band also reminds me of Pavement and Grandaddy with the same easy-going vibe, sometimes self-referential lyrics, a sense of place, and mentions of dead-end jobs ("I can't see you smiling pumping gas" on the Thrills' unnamed last track compared with Grandaddy's songs about work orders and supermarkets and Pavement's about minor league baseball players.) Interestingly, both Pavement (Stockton, CA) and Grandaddy (Modesto, CA) are from agricultural cities in California's Central Valley, and both cities are far from the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and San Diego. That distance, or maybe life in the valley itself, seems to temper both bands' songs, leading to introspection and interest in the subtleties of everyday life, which The Thrills also deal with. However, most of the songs on "So Much for the City" (which is also the first line of "Big Sur") are much more linear and less experimental than those of Pavement and are happier than most Grandaddy songs. It's tempting to say this is a concept album about California, that maybe the title "So Much for the City" is a dig at New York City in favor of California, or that The Thrills are a California band who just happen to come from Ireland, being that pretty much all of their songs are about the Golden State. Or maybe the band just wants to reflect a love of California and its rock music.

The main difference from the California strain is that "Santa Cruz," "Big Sur" and other songs involve a banjo as one of the main instruments. It seems like a lot of English and Irish rock bands, such as Coldplay and Travis and the Thrills, use the banjo, a traditional Irish instrument which was brought to the U. S. by immigrants. Most American rock bands avoid the instrument, maybe because of the hillbilly/Deliverance connotations. In fact, there aren't many American rock bands since 1990 or so that have used one, besides Beck occasionally. But it fits in well on these songs, adding both to the happy feeling on the sunnier songs and a somber feeling on the slower, sadder songs. It's one of the few connections with Ireland on the disc besides Deasy's occasional accent, which is hard to place anyway.

In any case, "So Much for the City" is an excellent debut album with really no weak tracks and some that are magnificent. With such a focus on California, it's hard to say what the Thrills may do on their next album (maybe they'll move up the coast and write about Oregon,) but this album should be on many best of the year lists. The Thrills play May 22 at the Black Cat in DC.

4/25/2004

so i was watching ESPN tonight, at 2 am, and they were showing riding lawnmower racing. first off, i didn't know that existed. second, why is it on tv? i'd rather watch ping pong or something. but at least it's not poker, i guess. and third, how does a person become a lawnmower racer? these guys were organized, they had sponsors and stuff. i mean, i've seen lawnmower drill teams at parades and stuff as a joke, but racing? and furthermore, where do they find commentators for these shows? do they put ads out in riding lawnmower magazines? maybe there's an espn dreamjob show for riding lawnmower racing. it seems like some day everything will be a sport. they already have adult kickball, professional eating, waiter competitions, air guitar contests, karaoke championships, and races on beds. what's next? will there be fastest fucking contests? teeth-brushing? pooping? i would do alright at some of those, but better at a beer bottle collection contest.

4/23/2004

So I was about to write about how much I liked Yahoo’s Launch radio. It’s sort of like the Netscape Radio I talk about sometimes, but you can customize your own station and add bands to a "never play again" list (like Creed and Dashboard Confessional, to use my list), and it’ll also play bands that other people who like your bands recommend. I’ve heard good old stuff and good stuff I’ve never heard before on there, like new Cypress Hill (it’s good, honestly) and other cool songs, like old Gang Starr, new Chemical Brothers, etc, so I was liking it.

The sound quality is not as good as Netscape, and it can take some work to build up a good playlist on your station because you have to surf around other stations and find stuff you like, or you’ll be hearing the same things over and over. And the names of the preprogrammed stations are weird too, like the "Soft Rock" station is actually pretty good, despite the bad name, they played the Cure and John Lennon and other good stuff. And "Alternative" is terrible, it's all those shitty bands like Trapt and Mest and Puddle of Mudd that spell their names wrong. I hit "don’t play again" on the first 5 songs and went somewhere else. You can skip 5 songs an hour too, which is cool.

Unfortunately, there’s a limit on the number of songs you can hear per month, 400, and after 3 days I reached it so I can only hear the preprogrammed channels and not my station. Which sort of sucks, but it’s still a pretty good radio thing. I’d highly recommend it if they didn’t have the limit. But I am thinking of subscribing to the premium version anyway, because I like it a lot, and it gives you better sound quality and no ads or limits and I like being able to put on "My Station" and not have to skip a lot of stuff. You can check out My Station here to give you an idea of what it's like.

4/14/2004

So I went to the bathroom on another floor today because ours was full, and man, it smelled terrible! I mean, bathrooms usually stink, but this one smelled like the zoo. I don’t know what those 7th floor people are eating, or if they brought their pet giraffes in or what, but it was revolting. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but it didn’t smell like something a person could do. It was weird.

4/12/2004

so I'm listening to CDs at work, and I think everybody should check out the Mull Historical Society, the cd Loss is really good. I heard one of their songs, "Public Service Announcer" on Netscape radio back in the day, and when the local cd store was closing I got the CD on sale. It's really good, well-done, catchy, rock-pop type songs. My favorites so far are "Public Service Announcer," "Watching Xanadu," and "This Is Not Who We Were."

some info about the band

4/07/2004

so people bring candy to work sometimes, and it got me thinking, what’s with Krackel and Mr. Goodbar? You know, the little chocolates that come in the bag of Hershey’s Miniatures. There's the little regular Hershey’s chocolate, the Special Dark, Mr. Goodbar, and Krackel. But I’ve never seen Mr. Goodbar or Krackel anywhere else, you never see a full size Krackel in the checkout at the grocery store. I wonder why? I think I’m going to write them a letter asking why. Well, it looks like I have to call them, so I’ll post the phone call when I make it. I mean, I think Mr. Goodbar is pretty good. It’s just peanuts, but I like it. Krackel is just a Crunch ripoff, though I think the Krackel’s chocolate is a little better. Crunch always tastes chemically to me.

And looking around for info on it on the net, I found this personality test using the Herhsey’s miniatures. It’s really funny, it’s written to sound scientific, but I think it’s just a joke.
The Hershey's Miniatures Personality Test

4/03/2004

so here's a little update on yesterday's yawning kid: i found a slideshow of the kid at the speech. If you are too lazy to look below, there was this kid standing behind Pres. Bush during a televised speech and the whole time the kid was yawning and checking his watch and acting like he had to pee. It was pretty hilarious. There's also this article about the kid's appearance on Letterman yesterday. I didn't see it, but I saw him earlier on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN, and I think the kid is loco. He was talking in a weird loud voice and you could tell his dad was trying to calm him down. He wore the same clothes both times too, even though the speech was a month ago. It was pretty funny, he was disagreeing with Cooper and being bratty. And now he's famous.

4/02/2004

so i thought this was pretty funny. it's a news article about this kid who was standing behind Pres. Bush while he was giving a speech, and the kid was visibly yawning, checking his watch, stretching, cracking his neck, and doing the pee-pee dance the whole time. It's a funny article and there's a video too. Hopefully the link will work tomorrow, if not I'll fix it. And even weirder, after the thing was broadcast, CNN said the White House called them and said it was faked, then they later said that the White House never called them so it was just a mix up. However, Letterman had already said what CNN said, so he was pissed. But anyway, funny stuff. I wonder if he's the new William Hung or Star Wars kid. he's going to be on Letterman soon.