October 30, 2007
Game Review: Guitar Hero III - Legends of Rock
OOOOH... a new Guitar Hero game! I can't think of any better way to celebrate the end of October.
No. I don't mean "rocktober". Get a haircut, douchebag.
Anyway, the great thing about Guitar Hero is that it's just like playing a real guitar! Well, not exactly. With a real guitar you can play actual music. And you can impress girls. You can't play music with a Guitar Hero game controller. Instead, you hit color coded buttons on a fake guitar, as correspondingly colored dots fly across the screen. So I guess it's not really like playing guitar, after all. But -- just like a real guitarist -- you'll find that you have to practice for HOURS every day if you want to get good at Guitar Hero. Plus, like a real guitarist, you'll get nasty finger calluses. Those always impress the ladies!
So, how does this new version of the game stack up to the previous ones? Well, if you liked previous editions of Guitar Hero (GH I, GH II, GH Rocks the 80s, GH Celebrates the Soft Sounds of the 70s) you're sure to love Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Because it's the exact same game. I mean, the EXACT same game. The only difference is that they've introduced some new songs. But, looking over the game's song-list, you've got to wonder if they're running out of rock-worthy tunes to include in these games. Sure, Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" is undeniably awesome; and who wouldn't want to "play" the guitar solo from Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" (the first hair metal anthem based on the psychological writings of Carl Gustav Jung-le). But some of these tracks are pretty marginal. I've never heard of the band Priestess, nor the band AFI. And, based on the tracks I've heard on GH III, I've decided to continue not having heard of them. Furthermore, the game features a "special guest appearance" by washed-up Poison vocalist/reality show participant Bret Michaels. With starpower like this, I've gained new appreciation for the nameless studio musicians who recorded all the music for previous versions of the game.
Don't get me wrong. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, is still an entertaining game. It does, in fact, rock. It just doesn't RAWK. For this reason, I can only give the game four Joeys. HARD ROCKING JOEYS.
These Joeys are rocking on the inside
October 25, 2007
The only thing more exciting than a fresh crop of new TV shows is the impending cancellation of these shows after only a few episodes! Which of YOUR favorite new programs will be the first to crash and burn?
Journeyman: It's Quantum Leap, but with no sense of humor. Also, the entire show seems to be filmed in near-darkness. Perhaps this is to preserve the anonymity of the actors so that they can continue to get work after this piece of crap gets cancelled?
Pushing Daisies: It's Tru Calling, but without the Hott protagonist. Though it hasn't been cancelled yet, obsessive fans have already started signing an internet petition to save it from its inevitable cancellation. And network executives have already started ignoring that petition.
Cavemen: A TV show based on a commercial for car insurance. Worst attempt to integrate advertising with programming since "CSI: Outback Restaurants". I totally lost my appetite for the Bloomin' Onion after that episode where they found a human toe in the dipping sauce. Even as car insurance mascots go, those bitchy cavemen are among the least appealing. I'd rather see a sitcom based on that creepy green lizard.
Big Shots: A shameless ripoff of the British series Manchild, four attractive and successful men get endlessly emasculated. But if I wanted to see grown men getting emasculated, I'd just watch America's Most Hilarious Groin Injuries on ABC Family. Or Grey's Anatomy. Same difference.
Moonlight: A crime fighting vampire! That's never been done before. Well except for that Buffy the Vampire spinoff, "Angel". And the ridiculous -- yet compelling -- vampire cop show, Forever Knight. And I suppose we must also count all the episodes of Law and Order that featured Fred Thompson. But other than that, totally original. Sadly, Moonlight is hampered by a catastrophic casting decision. Prettyboy Australian actor Alex O'Loughlin makes for the least intimidating bloodsucker since Count Chocula. Plus, he possesses none of the Count's charm or magnetic charisma.
Heroes: Viewers still love this high-concept NBC drama, but it's still in danger of cancellation! The show is in peril due to its constantly increasing complexity. Right now Heroes has 31 "main characters" spread across 17 distinct story lines. And each episode introduces new characters and plotlines. Exciting for fans, but challenging for producers. The scripts are so complicated, they can only be written by an army of 73 writers whose brains are hardwired directly into a network of experimental supercomputers. The brain interface process burns out most writers' cerebral cortexes in a matter of hours, leaving them barely capable of basic communication. (Many have gone on to join the writing staff of Two and a Half Men). If the Writer's Union cracks down on this, NBC producers may switch to cheap Mexican TV writers. In that case, Heroes won't be cancelled, but rather moved to Telemundo.
ER: WTF, ER is still on TV?
October 16, 2007
Review: Radiohead's "In Rainbows"
If you haven't heard, there's a band called Radiohead which has released a new album! I don't usually care that much about new music. I already own about six... *maybe* seven CDs -- and that's plenty for me. But everyone on the Blog-O-Sphere seems to be obsessed with these Radiohead guys. Plus the band is giving away their album for free!
Well, technically, they're not giving it away so much as selling it for however much listeners are willing to pay. Which, in my case, is precisely zero dollars. For my european readers, that's roughly equivalent to zero Euros.
Anyway, since everyone else on the inturrnut seems to live and die based on the quality of this new Radiohead album, "In Rainbows", I figured I would post my own review of some of the best tracks from the album. Because I'm nothing if not a shameless conformist.
15 Step: The album's opening track is vintage Radiohead. Spacey guitar work by Jonny Greenwood, vicious percussion by drummer Phil Selway. Lyrically, the song focuses on lead man Thom Yorke's addition to German scat-fetish pornography, and the 15 step program he completed to overcome said addiction. Though the lyrics don't refer specifically to sexual acts involving human excrement, you can really FEEL the fecal obsession when he sings "How come I end up where I started / all I want is for you to poop on me".
Reckoner: A stylistic departure for the band, "Reckoner" represents Radiohead's first venture into Rap-Rock, complete with guest vocals from Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. Musically, this track has everything you'd expect from a rap-rock composition: rapping, rocking... SUCKING. As such, it is completely unlistenable. However, since this IS Radiohead -- and everything they commit to tape is Pure Unadulterated Genius -- we must assume that this crass and irritating track was intended ironically. HAHAHA I GET THE JOKE I AM SO VERY HIP AND KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT WHEN PEOPLES ARE JOKING!
Nude: This track is a nasty slice of smoov, sexy R&B. You likely wouldn't think of vocalist Thom Yorke as a Love Machine. If their seminal work "Kid A" proved nothing else, it's that Radiohead HATES machines, and the people who use them. Even so, I challenge female listeners not to get a little moist when Yorke croons "Bitch, I wanna get you nude." And when he sings "Girl, swing the booty in my direction"... well, even the most hetero guys around might consider switching teams. No doubt, this is one of the finest booty shakin' club jamz of the year!
Videotape: The album's final track is a relaxing lite-jazz affair. This is new territory for the band, but they take to it with their usual creativity and skill. With musical assistance from lite-jazz heros Kenny G and John Tesh (on Alto Sax and Synth-Bass, respectively), this song is a refreshing palate-clenser. It's the perfect track to listen to after a hard day trying to convince your hipster friends that you're considerably cooler than you actually are.
No matter what kind of music you listen to, you will find something to love on Radiohead's newest release. Just be sure to read lots of reviews of "In Rainbows" on the inter-web before downloading the album. Without reading a few dozen accounts of how brilliant the album is, you might mistakenly conclude that it is nothing but boring alt-rock from a band that is 8-10 years past any legitimate claim to cultural relevance.
October 09, 2007
Let me be the first to wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving!
Sorry, Mr. T, I should have been more specific: Happy *Canadian* Thanksgiving! While Americans wait until late November to celebrate turkey day, those wacky Canucks get it over with in October. Americans and Canadians celebrate the holiday similarly: friends and family gather to enjoy a meal together. Really, the only difference is in the menu.
On the big day, Americans eat turkey. So do Canadians! However, our northern friends coat their turkey with a thick layer of maple syrup. From what I hear, they do that with all their poultry dishes. Canadians also enjoy traditional side dishes like sweet potatoes and stuffing. Of course, Canadians enjoy their own special versions of these dishes. We all know that when Canadians eat bacon, they are actually eating ham, or "Canadian Bacon", as they call it. Similarly, the Canadian version of sweet potatoes is actually a porridge made of ham and maple syrup. And their version of "stuffing" is really just a six-pack of Molson Canadian Lager.
After the main course, Canadian families skip dessert -- no punk'n pie or anything like that. Instead Canucks go straight for the Poutine, a delightful combination of french fries, cheese curds and piping hot gravy. How does it taste? Like all foods covered with piping hot gravy, it tastes DELCIOUS.
October 05, 2007
Fun with Water Restrictions
It's been a hot, dry summer here on the east coast. With the heat and the lack of rain, local reservoirs are at dangerously low levels! If this were a poor country, that would mean death and disease on a catastrophic scale. But since I live in a rich country, I have to endure something even worse: water restrictions. Generally speaking, I'm not the sort of person who follows "laws" or "restrictions" or "biblical commandments". But I've come up with a few FUN-tastic ways of dealing with these water restrictions. If you live in a drought plagued area... or if you just want to be EARTH FRIENDLY, here are my tips for water conservation.
If It's Yellow: One of the first rules of water conservation is "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown flush it down." Truer words were never uttered. But I like to take this to the next level. For me, it's "If it's yellow let it mellow... and if it's brown DON'T HANG AROUND." Flushing a toilet wastes water, so I don't do it. Ever. This is one of many reasons why I never take a dump in the same toilet twice. Usually, I just sneak into my neighbor's apartment while they're at work.
Shower Power: Personal hygiene uses up a huge quantity of water... but conscientious Individuals CAN reduce their water usage. Remember: showers use less water than baths. And Golden Showers use even less than regular ones! Also, the less you bathe, the better. I don't take a shower unless my own personal odor threatens to render me unconscious. I've found that I can delay this inevitable result by days -- even weeks -- by rolling around in sawdust, peanut shells or a pile of sand. Though the moms at the local playground have threatened to call the police if I keep diving into the kids' sandbox.
Squirt Gun Action: One of the worst consequences of water restrictions is how it ruins so many fun outdoor activities. No wading pools, no running through the sprinkler, NO FUN. If you're clever, though, you can find some ways to keep the fun going without wasting precious aqua. Kids and grownups always enjoy a good watergun battle! When I can't use water, I just fill my Sooper-Soaker with paint thinner. Just avoid open flames and try not to aim for the eyes or for any exposed wounds.
Slippery Summer Fun:Everyone like to bust out the old Slip n Slide on a hot summer day, but without liquid lubrication, it's just an ugly plastic tarp in the yard.
Good news: high viscosity motor oil works just as well as water... and unlike water, we'll NEVER run out of sweet, sweet petroleum! Just remember to change the oil every 3000 slides (or every 5000 slips).
Healthy Refreshment: I don't know about you, but I get thirsty over the summer. Doctors will tell you that you should be drinking 12 glasses of water a day. Whatever. Honestly, how hydrated do you REALLY need to be? Plus, it's a waste of of water! In my experience, Vodka looks very much like water and it's a lot more fun to drink. Kids love it too, particularly when mixed with Kool-Aid.
October 04, 2007
PSA: Lava Lamps
Do not -- I repeat -- do NOT drink the liquid you find inside a lava lamp.
Sure, it looks delicious. And god knows it tastes delicious. But don't believe the name of these novelty retro lamps: this liquid is not real lava. Genuine lava is packed with vitamins and minerals (well, mostly minerals). Like Cookie Crisp cereal, molten lava is part of a nutritious breakfast. The fluid inside a lava lamp, however, lacks any nutritional benefits.
Also it's probably toxic or whatever.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
October 02, 2007
I love me some High Definition TV. Those of you who bothered to read "Get Your Tube On" know that any TV without HD capability should be summarily thrown in the dumpster. And burned. Then urinated upon, to put out the fire. Then burned again. Then nuked from orbit, just to be sure.
The only trouble with HDTV is that there aren't enough HD channels. Watching standard definition programming on an HD set is like masturbating to the Sears catalog when you work at an adult video store. It's just doesn't make sense. This is why DirecTV's recent announcement of new HD channels sent a wave of ecstasy through my very soul. Here are just a few of the channels I'll soon be able to watch in glorious High Definition:
The Weather Channel HD
Finally! For so long, I've been waiting for HD Weather. In standard definition, I couldn't tell a cold front from a high pressure system. Now that The Weather Channel is broadcasting in HD, I feel like the weather is RIGHT THERE IN MY LIVING ROOM. Come to think of it, that may have more to do with the fact that I've got two broken windows and a leaky roof. But still, HD weather RULZ.
In regular definition, Wolf Blitzer is a pompous ass who knows as much about current events as Ryan Seacrest knows about female lady parts. In HD, Wolf is STILL a pompous ass... but his beard is FREAKING AMAZING. The details you can see -- the subtle interplay between light and shadow: like a mystical grey forest! It just happens to grow on the face of an asshole.
Sports in HD
HD was MADE for sports. Ice hockey, the only sport I actually care about, looks fantastic in HD -- so I'm thrilled that the Versus network is finally HD ready. You haven't seen a hockey brawl until you've seen each blood spatter fly through the air in perfect video clarity. With NFL Network, NBA TV and The Golf Channel joining the HD revolution, fans of *boring* sports will also benefit.
HD programming isn't merely for our entertainment. It can also be educational. The History Channel, Discovery, The Science Channel and TLC (The Learning Channel) have all begun broadcasting in HD. If I was the sort of person who wanted to learn new things, I would be going apeshit crazy about these new channels. Of course, I'm not that sort of person. At all. But even I can enjoy these channels and their gorgeous visuals -- so long as I make sure I don't learn anything while I'm watching them.
High Definition programming has transformed television from "the opiate of the masses" to the "crystal meth of the masses". And if crystal meth is good enough for all those people in The Heartland, then it's good enough for all of us.