Thursday, August 6, 2009



Hey guys. I finally decided to start fresh with a new blog on wordpress, which was long overdue. My new blog is about media and language, instead of it being a rambling on of what I'm reading. Instead, you can find that rambling on my new tumblr site.

I'm using the wordpress for more focused discourse, so a lot of posts will be ripe for watercooler conversation.

The name, "The Last Question", is shared with yet another great Asimov short story. I suggest checking it out. It's about a question a master computer can never answer after millions of years of evolution.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The New York Dolls played Music Hall of Williamsburg this past Monday to a confused crowd of hipsters and people way past their prime. Hey, kind of like the band members themselves!

I'm kidding. Well, no. Well, kind of. David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, in their wonderful post-drugged-out glories, are the only two original members still performing today. And good for them, because they can still rock harder than probably anyone I've ever seen. They have a good sense of humor about themselves and are very playful - encouraging the crowd to have even half as much fun as they clearly do.

Also with them is my hero Steve Conte, who is the hardest working man in punk who still "get it", holding his guitar out to the crowd so they can pull at and run their fingers across its strings and running it across his monitor for feedback effects. A band like New York Dolls should be a novelty act playing Vegas at this point, which makes seeing them in one of the smaller famous venues in NYC all the more exciting.

Williamsburg is small and decidedly very un-punk. The crowd moved during the songs they recognized, some even going so far as to jump in place. But you do not go to Music Hall of Williamsburg to mosh. You go to show off your new beard and nod your head to the loudest act you can find. "Am I being ironic?" Who knows! Moshing is for teenagers.


This past week I read Ode to Kirihito, oft cited as the masterwork of my other hero, Osamu Tezuka. Long-time FTH readers will note my affinity for this man's work, which has made significant contributions to the culture of sf in pure artistist form.

It's about a brilliant scientist named Kirihito who is investigating a mysterious disease called "monmow", which has been turning people into primative animals, eventually killing them. As per his mentor's request, Kirihito goes off to a secluded town where cases have erupted, eventually contracting it himself. The 800+ page graphic novel then follows his downward spiral and the scandal that envelopes it in one of the darkest Tezuka stories I've read thus far.

I very much enjoyed this; I actually wound up reading the majority of it one sitting, because I had no desire to stop. While Tezuka's silliness and cartoony caricatures are absent, many plot points spiral haphazardly toward conclusion in his signature fashion. There are also a number of "breakdown" moments (as seen above) where the reader suddenly enters the abstract psyche of a main character going through stressful agony.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Black Jack Vol. 5.


Also in the world of bizarre Japanese things is Flower, Sun and Rain released for the Nintendo DS. It was created by grasshopper manufacture, Marvelous Interactive, outsourcing studio h.a.n.d., and published in America by XSEED and Marvelous. It's a port of the sophomore effort of Suda 51, whom I think is the only man in video games worth noting these days.

FSR is a pretty bad game, featuring lots of backtracking, puzzles requiring obscure algebra, and just a general outdated design. Much like other Suda 51 games, it's not so much about the game as it is the story and unique presentation. It goes something like this:

Sumio Mondo, a "searcher" who is a master at cracking codes, is sent to Lospass Island, a small resort island that serves as the home to Flower, Sun and Rain, a high-class hotel. His mission is to prevent a terrorist plan to explode an airplane, which is set to take off the day Mondo gets there. On the first day, Mondo is stopped by a hotel resident and asked to use his expertise to crack a code for them. Because he is nice, he gets to work. After he achieves his goal, he steps out onto the veranda and witnesses the airplane take off and explode in mid-air. The next day he wakes up, and the airplane hasn't taken off yet. He gets up to find the bomb, but it stopped yet again by another resident. This happens over and over again.

As the days go on, Mondo begins to unravel, and he starts to believe in conspiracies against him. More and more outlandish things happen to him at precisely timed moments as the hotel and its entire cast of characters begin to warp and torment the poor searcher.

The game has a nice sense of humor and I enjoy its surreal narrative. I love anything that has a large ensemble for a cast. But it's difficult for me to recommend it, because it's not for everyone. You really need to be patient, because there's a lot of walking (no transportation is allowed on the island). There are some chapters that require you to move Mondo from one end of the island to the other, which isn't difficult as there are no obstacles, but it is tedious work.


Last, but certainly not least, is my second trip (and possibly last) to Celebrate Brooklyn this summer. Blonde Redhead played a free show last night, marking the third time I've seen this fantastic band.

The pictures I have of the show are pretty bad, and BrooklynVegan hasn't updated yet today, so deal with it. BR's set consisted mostly of material from their albums 23 and Misery of a Butterfly, much like the last two times I've seen them (although Kazu Makino was not wearing a plastic nurse outfit, and there were absolutely zero technical problems! Imagine that!). I also finally got to see them play "Messenger" without Amedeo Pace's voice going out midway through the song. (Quote of the night: When they broke out into "Spring and by Summer Fall" and someone yelled out "THAT'S THAT SONG FROM THE CAR COMMERCIAL!")

The crowd waited in line through a downpour to see them and it was worth the effort, because the rest of the night was cool and clear. The space in the Prospect Park Bandshell is large, as I mentioned in my Byrne post a few weeks back, and we actually got into it this time, with primo seats.

Every time I see Blonde Redhead there's always one guy behind me explaining to his group of friends about how Makino fell off a horse, had to undergo major surgery, and then wrote an entire album about it. This same expert thought that any song the band played before their Misery is a Butterfly album was "new" and his mind was blown each time. The band has a large repertoire - I believe they don't exploit it enough, but the crowd might be bored with their early psychadelic and no wave efforts.

Still, you know what would really floor me? If anyone knew where they got their name from.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I decided to enter a Pac-Man tournament for kicks.

It was organized by popular wapanese culture blog New York - Tokyo, which I've decided to link on my blog, because I think they're pretty cool on a structural level. I've never actually been to an event that they've sponsored up until now, and it was mostly because I'm a frequent shopper at the store where it was all going down: Uniqlo. We're talking about a video game tournament at a high-fashion Japanese store, nestled snugly in the heart of Soho. During the summer months, Uniqlo often sets up their nerdy clothing line, this year with designs from unpopular games by Taito, Namco, Sega, Sony, Capcom, et al, as well as a whole line of shirts with designs from 70's anime supergiant Tatsunoko.

Uniqlo had situated two Pac-Man 25th Anniversary machines on their video game floor, set to free play. They had been there all summer, assumingly donated by Namco Amusements, because they were spotless and missing the signature grime of used arcade machines.

To possibly commemorate the end of this clothing line for the year, Uniqlo approached New York - Tokyo to organize a Pac-Man tournament where popular blogs and magazines competed for prizes, mostly a handful of Pac-Man t-shirts and plushes. I stood and watched with my friend Dave, folding my arms and scoffing at the ameteurish mistakes the competitors were making, blown up on a big projected screen. The top blog managed to pull of high score of around 15,000; mind you, the competition was to see who could get the highest score in three minutes, so 15,000 and change is middling if not respectable. Clearly achievable by someone who understands that the basic premise is that you're a goddamn dot and you gotta eat all of the other goddamn dots.

After the blogs had their fun, it was time for the walk-ins to play. This is how connected the organizers were to their audience: the sign-up girl told us to use our fake internet handles instead of our real names. I decided to tactfully go with the name PAC-BEAST, which triggered a number of other contestants to frown audibly. I also convinced my friend to join in, because he realized after seeing the sloppy plays by the magazines that it wouldn't hurt to join, even though he wasn't really too acquainted with the original Pac-Man, but instead somewhat intimately with the vastly different XBOX Live remake.

The tournament was set up in heats - 2 players at a time for 3 minutes each - and there were about twenty contestants. My friend and I actually went head-to-head, and as I played, people behind me gasped, which made me feel a little sorry for myself. After our heat, my friend and I were in second and first place, respectively. Then the dude who had been on the machine all day practicing goes up.

Well this dude decimates my score. I pulled high 19,000, he hit mid 22,000 (my friend, for the record, pulled mid 17,000, which was impressive). Twenty-two thousand is a very difficult score to get in three minutes on two stages of Pac-Man and I thought that my run was over for sure. As it turns out, after all the heats were done, no one had even come close to the third place score now held by my friend.

In the finals, it was Dave versus the fourth-place player, and Dave walloped her with 18,000 something. Then it was me versus the first-place dude. I'd never had a crowd of people form behind me as I played an arcade game, so if it were possible for me to feel excitement then I can guarantee you I would have. I ran around the board with relative ease, making only minor mistakes, but managed to get low 19,000. I thought, damn, he beat me.

Well, he did beat me, but that doesn't really matter because first, second, and third place all got the same prize. Here are some shoddy quality pictures of two of the prizes:

A large plushie and a mousepad. Also, a Uniqlo tote bag and a $50 gift card which I thought was pretty nice.

Then the marketing dude is all like, hey bros, write your names and addresses down here so you can get your real prize. Turns out, the top 5 places all win Pac-Man t-shirts signed by Toru Iwatani, the guy who invented Pac-Man. What a thoughtful prize, I thought. I mean, here I now have the signature of a man who created one of the most iconic pop culture things in the history of things. It's not even that my Grandma can recognize a game of Pac-Man (she can, despite not knowing Mario or Sonic). It's more like, when people see any natural, circular shape with a slice cut out of its side, they make the astute connection: "Oh, that looks like Pac-Man!".

I think, when it comes in, I may frame it and put it on my wall, as it is pretty much the ultimate Pac-Man thing I could ever hope to own.

Scratch that. It is the ultimate thing I could ever hope to own. So ultimate.

Edit: NY-T write-up with scores here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


David Byrne played the Prospect Park Bandshell on Monday night as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series of free concerts. I did not take the above photograph, it's from here.

I was in attendance, although I was just outside of the concert area, hanging with legions of similarly impatient people. While I did miss getting my shoes muddied by leaping hipsters, I still experienced an excellent set. David Byrne really knows how to pander to his crowds, mixing many of his modern solo songs with older, popular Talking Heads ones (and some not-so-popular). He even had three encores! Obviously "Once in a Lifetime" got the biggest reaction, forcing the whole gamut of attendees to get up on their feet and dance like the awkward white people they are.

And I mean gamut; generations x, y and z were represented in the crowd. Just within the concert area gates I saw a thirty-something woman with her (presumably) husband, two younger kids, and a baby in a stroller, dancing like a flowerchild. I saw men and women, easily pushing 50, mouthing the words to "Life During Wartime". It was refreshing.

The image links to the BrooklynVegan blog post, which pretty much sums it up.

In other news: I bought a new bookshelf! My books were scattered and jammed into various places, so I figured it was about time to get myself a fancy new organizer thingy. Check it out! Actually, I still can't fit all of my books onto it, but most of the ones I couldn't get on were boring non-fiction and writers handbooks that I've never read. Nor do I plan on doing so!

Now my desk is boring. Look at those empty shelves! Look at my paltry CD collection. I'd put the aforementioned boring books on there, but that'd just make it more boring.

That's an Edward Scissorhands poster that I bought from Spencer's in my mid-teens. I'm too lazy to buy a better poster. It will probably remain there until I find a new place to live. I mean, if you need a point of reference as to how long my room typically goes unchanged, just take a gander at that Nickelodeon clock. That's not some vintage toy I bought off of eBay, eyes brimming with tears of nostalgia. I received that when it was brand new.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I've been reading up on sf book opinions from the hivemind and occasionally I come across a general consensus agreeing that China Miéville writes a lot of unnecessary filler. Well today I say: to hell with you, internet message boards.

The defense is normally along the rails of, "but of course PSS is long, the city is a character!" I also say to hell with you. The city is a setting, and Miéville does a nice job detailing it.

I'm not going to pretend that there aren't parts where PSS doesn't slow down, and I'm not going to pretend to be well-versed in the trilogy it's a part of, considering I've never read the next two books in the series (I do have The Scar on my shelf - the ever-knowing brain suggests that Miéville cuts down on the filler, but it looks just as long to me!).

So right now I'm going to talk about Un Lun Dun. ULD is a children's book that was published by Del Rey in 2007. It is Miéville's first (and only) children's book. It's a crazy, whimsicle story about two girls who are sucked into a bizarro London because there's some prophecy about how one of them is going to be the decaying world's savior in a war against an ever-growing mass of smog. The smog is feeding itself through normal London, and it plans on taking over the real world once it's through destroying the real-fake world.

I don't know how most people read it, but I found it to have a pretty strong environmental agenda. Un Lun Dun is littered with trash from the real world, except in this world the trash is alive (the main character is followed by a sentient discarded milk carton that acts like a dog). The standard of living seems way low, but the inhabitants seem fine with that.

One thing I've come to appreciate about Miéville stories is the imaginative detailing of his fictional worlds. One of my favorite moments in ULD is when the main party arrives in a place where the buildings are constantly shifting around like a slide puzzle. One of the characters who is well-travelled suggests that there are mailmen who are trying to track down homes to deliver mail to after years of searching. This is, unfortunately, a minor moment in the book, as it appears in one of the shorter chapters (although not the shortest by a long shot - one chapter is only a few words long). This is present in PSS, although we tend to spend more time exploring New Crobuzon as there are more minor characters that Miéville revists.

Un Lun Dun is something that I'd recommend to any sf/childrens' stories fan who wants a nice quick read to break up sessions of harder novels. Although it's not too quick - it's still a respectable length, and despite it being a children's book there were a good number of difficult words I actually had to stop and look up. 'It wouldn't be Miéville without some of that.

I read this book some time ago and I decided to revist it for a bit today, and it's every bit as magical as I remember it. "Magical" is probably the best word I can think to describe it despite it being somewhat improper; it's kind of grimey. Grimey magical. It's like a grimey, trippy and magical Alice in Wonderland. It's like Alice in Wonderland meets Alice in Wonderland. I think it even says that on the cover.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Summer has sprung, so they say in the business. Up until this year, my summers have been relatively carefree. Sure, I went to classes and sure, I've had a job to tend to every summer since I was fourteen, but up until this moment in time no summer has been quite as taxing as this very one. For you see, dear reader, this is the summer in which I must relentlessly search for a real job. Not these jobby jobs I've been pulling, but a real, honest-to-God, my-life-is-pretty-much-over job. I need to get on the road to my career. Whatever that may be.

It's also the summer in which I will have a freakishly large amount of free time on the count of me having no life. And so, this summer will be codenamed: POETIC JUSTICE, because no matter how hard I try and how much I try to accomplish, something completely ironic in stature will happen to me. I'm not sure what it is, but when it happens it will happen! There will be nothing I can do to stop it.

I've already started working on two books. One of them is actually codenamed POETIC JUSTICE, but that might not be the final title because of the 1993 Janet Jackson flick of the same name. I've also begun a short story collection. I'd like to post more about them, but I don't want people stealing my precious ideas that will probably never come to proper fruition.

Anyway, this is what I've been reading:

On the Beach by Nevil Shute is a post-apocalyptic novel that takes place in Australia. The entire northern hemisphere has been killed off by nuclear war, and the radiation is slowly traveling down to the southern hemisphere until the world is inevitably enveloped in its deadly blanket.

This novel is wonderfully written and tells the story of a few people who are facing their final months of life. They live in the last city to be wiped out and occasionally live in a disillusioned state of mind where they may wind up surviving and this is all a terrible dream.

I'm not going to ruin much, although I must say that I was only able to find this book on eBay (for a dollar!) so if you are so motivated to read it then I applaud you. It is probably one of the best, frightening and enlightening post-apocalyptic novels you could ever possibly read. But I must say, it is the only book I've ever read that made me cry. I cried like a little bitch for pages. I've never cried during any medium - no movie, no tv series, no song has ever moved me to tears. This book did. So if you want to be sad, try this out.

I'm currently crotch-deep in Rudy Rucker's Software, the first in a quadrilogy of -ware titled novels. I also have Wetware on my shelf, but I might not read past that unless I'm really motivated. I'm reading Software now because apparently it is one of the first cyberpunk novels.

I gotta say, it's a solid book. It's very fun to read, the characters are interesting, and I guess I'm probably not even qualified to say it's anything less than stellar because Rudy Rucker is the fucking man. But I don't think this is really cyberpunk. Maybe I define cyberpunk differently than everyone else, but it's mostly about the grimey city aesthetic, the anti-hero protagonist, his addiction to drugs and sex despite his sexless life... and I mean, there are elements of all that in Software, but they feel more like the absolute prototypes for what would become of the unrelatable crazies in books like Neuromancer and When Gravity Fails.

But it's definitely a cool read and I'm looking forward to Wetware, which I will knock off after I finish the Foundation series which I just recently ordered. I've never read those and I bought editions of them with cool covers.

Last, but certainly not least is The Essential Ellison, 35 years of Harlan Ellison's short stories. I was originally skeptical about this, as eBayers listed its price as $30+. I thought that it may just be a difficult book to get. I managed to score it for a mere $15 and, after receiving it, I understood the original high prices. This book is massive. It is well over a thousand pages. It's a god damn massivology.

I was so inclined to get it because it contains one of my favorite short stories: "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." I hadn't read much Ellison beyond that and so I figured this would be a good place to start. This is a great place to start, although not all of Ellison's work is science fiction which makes the order of stories a little disorienting.

And so, my attempt to turn a potential summer of solitude into that of glorious nerdening begins with a bang. More on this story as it develops.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


A few weeks ago, a friend of mine brought to my attention an off-broadway production of every high schooler's collective favorite dystopian future novel, 1984. I, not being one to miss such a heroic attempt at live-action, low-budgeted adaptation, sought to buy tickets to see a Saturday matinee performance of it. At a paltry $25 per ticket (plus applicable convenience charges), this 80-minute uninterupted spectacle of postmodernism is well worth the price of admission.

Without spoiling too much, this envisioning of the 1949 George Orwell novel does a more-than-adequate job at capturing the disconnected, lonely feeling of Winston's troubles throughout the course of the story. Naturally, minor details are cut in favor of cramming the main plot points into something that's just barely under an hour and a half, but the important bits are there. It's done by a group of artists known as the Godlight Theater Company, who have worked on similar adaptations of other novels such as Blindness, Slaughterhouse Five, Farenheit 451, and so on and so forth. I could go over their merits as a company, but to be honest this is the first time I've ever heard of them, so if you're so inclined to learn more about them you can just click on the link. That's the magic of Al Gore Presents : The Internet, Hard at Work!, hard at work.

The acting was delightful, especially the pasty, soft-spoken yet intimidating man who played O'Brien, although Julia looked somewhat similar to a girl I once dated who dumped my loser ass swiftly, so that totally took me out of it. I also very much liked how the actor who played Parsons reacted in an explosion of nervous fury when he was sentenced to Room 101, as his sentiments very closely parallel mine whenever I'm told I have to go to school, or work, or outside, or basically anywhere that involves leaving my basement.

Perhaps the most interesting of design choices involved the lighting - there was often a square of light in the center of the stage, which was treated differently in each scene (for example, in one scene it's treated as an imaginary table). The telescreens were depicted by four women standing at the outer edges of the stage, quietly chattering away as the action unfolded in the center and wonderfully illustrating the claustrophobic feel Big Brother hammered down on the doomed city.

It's currently being shown at 59E59 on 59th Street between Madison and Park, and it's a grand old time and highly recommended by this sci-fi fart in the wind, so take that as you will.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Website: //

Wikipedia?: Yes.

The buzz: A melodic hardcore band from Virginia with strong political undertones. They've been featured on the soundtracks of three different Tony Hawk video games.

Sounds like: A thousand pop-punk bands local to the abysmal New York scene. What if Fugazi had suddenly decided punk wasn't worth it? Well, they probably have already.

The verdict: This album is aptly named, for I will no longer live in content after hearing this mess of off-key distortion. I hate to use an old cliché, but each song is basically the same four chords over and over again. You know it's bad when the irritating electric guitars suddenly give away to a heartfelt acoustic performance as the outro.

Strike anywhere? Strike my house and put me out of my misery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Website: Warning: flash

Wikipedia?: Extensive.

The buzz: Who the fuck is this and why are there so many guest appearances on this album? Beck's entire Midnite Vultures-era band appears on a number of tracks, including Beck himself. Billy Corgan is on a bunch of tracks as well. Even Blur makes an appearance. She fucking covers "Nobody's Fault" off of Beck's Mutations album. What the fuck? Who is this?

Sounds like: If Beck, Billy Corgan, and Damon Albarn were all old women who smoked three packs a day then that's exactly what this sounds like, except sometimes she's more Enya than 90's-alt-rocker.

The verdict: I don't even know what's real anymore! Everything on here sounds like a bizarro version of every song I've ever heard. I'm going to go ahead and say this rocks and it's iPod worthy. Marianne Faithful, I'm not sure if you've ever made it big, but you are a classy woman.

Final Answer: Hey, whatever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


About chomsky: It's been a long time, but we're back to rock the kids and olds alike. Come with us as we ride the wild horse or "punctual rock" like it's 2000 all over again! Now with Kung-Fu grip and nachos!!!!

Sounds like: It's been a long time, but we're back to rock the kids and olds alike. Come with us as we ride the wild horse or "punctual rock" like it's 2000 all over again! Now with Kung-Fu grip and nachos!!!!

The verdict: "Texas rockers" is a phrase that should only be followed by any combination of "Butthole" and "Surfers". Otherwise we get shit like chomsky. Although this is only a three-track sampler, I feel as thought years have been taken off my life. It ends with a track called "00:15:00", in which the lead singer screams about how he has fifteen minutes to rock. What a coincidence. I only have fifteen minutes to live.

Anyway, hate to break it to you, but no awful band gets a pass by naming themselves after famous linguists.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Website: //

Wikipedia?: Yes.

The buzz: According to the promo sticker, it's for fans of bands like Spinto Band, Pinback, and The Sea and Cake. Great. I don't know any of those dudes. Apparently the trio is on break because they're sick of their own music.

Sounds like: Airy English Indie band with very minor influences in Britpop, with crying guitars over weepy string ensembles.

The verdict: There are many songs on this album, most of them averaging at the 3:15 mark. They're nice enough tunes although occasionally they sound like ditties, as if the songwriter wanted to quickly move on to the next track and get its point across as quickly as possible. However, it feels more like over-saturation, resulting in nothing that is particularly memorable but instead dozens of memories slowly fading away. The perfect euphemism for the singer's despaired vocals drowning behind twinkly pianos, xylophones and harmonica symphony. It's kind of like Beta Band mixed with Sufjan Stevens if they wrote an album for The Sea and Cake. Sorry.

Probably: good, who knows? I'm sad, for some reason.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Website: No

Wikipedia: Kinda.

The buzz: These guys are so obscure that I can't even find their album art online. They were a British band formed by members of Mr. Big, which is a band I've never heard of. The album I'm about to review was released in 1991 and I have no idea why I picked it.

Sounds like: Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, except replace them with the most generic 90's rockers you can imagine. The lead singer's a dude FYI.

The verdict: Softcore early 90's rock never gets old. I have to admit I'm surprised by the writing and the production values of this album, it is honestly just about as typical as you can get. There's nothing particularly notable about any of the songs, but there's nothing unpleasant about them either. Considering how hard these guys try to rock, I'm slightly uncomfortable when I say that this is appropriate background music. They are tragically missing that edge that would have propelled them into at least one-hit-wonder stardom back in 1991. They should have given Jesus Jones a call for some pointers or something.

Final Countdown: Sometimes you wonder why people bothered writing music at all in the 90's.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Website: (warning: flash website)
Wikipedia?: Yes

The buzz: Probably one of the more popular bands I'll be reviewing. They had a minor hit in 2006 with "Tear You Apart" and then fell deeper into obscurity until KROQ cut their airtime from once every five minutes to once every hour, thinking they were playing the next big thing.

What they sound like: Tears for Fears in the dark years, if they had ever existed. The lead singer sings from the bottom of his throat and moans with every word. The backups sings in military monotone voices over droning pads and metallic percussion. It's like industrial collapsed onto itself and invented new wave instead of the other way around.

The verdict: They're really not that bad, but I unironically enjoy bands like Orgy and Fischerspooner so take that as you will. This is their original EP with just four songs, including "Tear You Apart", which isn't nearly as good as the title track. I once passed up the opportunity to see them live a year or so ago and I now mildly regret it.

Recommended for: If you ever listened to the guy from B-52's sing and wished he were a bit more serious (and gayer), then this is the band for you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009



Wikipedia?: Yes.

The buzz: Apparently "one of the most talked about independent acts in the nation." How this was measured, I do not know.

According to their album cover: Lots of brown, with grown men holding their hearts surrounded by a slow-dripping splotch. We're in for a real treat.

What they sound like: Ben Gillard and Gruff Rhys tried to start a prog-rock band and then committed suicide together when it didn't work out.

The verdict: As long as you don't pay attention to the lyrics, it's at least enjoyable. "One Rabbit Race" is is a fun song with a catchy hook and not quite Bamboozled material as one would expect. But then there are ridiculous words, such as in "Forget You Know Me", that tend to rhyme the same word multiple times for some totally emoshunal effect, or something (In my world it's you // Still framed dreams of you // Rhyme less verse for you // Speechless words to you). Give me a break. Still, the instrumentation is nice, with plenty of warm synth sounds and not too heavy on the effects. The vocals tend to get drowned out just enough.

Recommended for fans of: Some of the songs on the album sound like shitty Depeche Mode, so Depeche Mode if you're really tired of Depeche Mode. And I mean really tired.

Monday, January 19, 2009



Wikipedia?: Nope.

What they sound like: Poppy retro-style rock with semi-ironic lyrics ripped from campy 50's jukebox roller-disco tunes. Classic guitar riffs crunch alongside organs and vocoders with predictable chord progressions mixed lo-fi style. Occasionally sounds like they gagged Noel Gallagher and forced him to write shitty melodies while wearing ear plugs.

The verdict: Disappointing, considering their attractive album design. Someone must have told them that their post-modern take on music absolutely no one really likes really wasn't going to fly, because this appears to be the only album they've ever released. The music is so forgettable that I can't remember a single lick, and I'm listening to it right now. Their focus is all over the map; certain tracks sound like half-hearted attempts to capture a Top 40's audience, other tracks like "Idiot Boy" attempt to be experimental, but just come off as sloppy, poorly conceived catastrophes of reverb and effects peddles. And then there's stuff like "Daphne", which is just a boring acoustic ballad. It sounds like a bunch of concepts for three different albums, none of which being particularly interesting, but at least they are consistent in their mediocrity.

Final Answer: More like No Robot, No!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I have a tendency to have frightening dreams based on whatever I'm critically engaged in at the moment.

A few weeks ago, I had begun playing killer7 for the Gamecube again, a videomajiggy that features co-design credits of Shinji Mikami, creator of the campy Resident Evil series. In this game, enemies would laugh maniacally before slowly crawling towards you, invisible, and if you didn't take them down quickly enough they'd grab you and explode, wrecking your shit. I had a dream where I was running down tight corridors, and I heard the laughter and got very frightened, as if an army of invisible bad guys were waiting behind every corner.

Again, just last week after a hardcore 1984 session, I had a dream that involved telescreens. I had, apparently, broken some mortal law that was about to be scrutinized by the Party, and I had done it in front of a telescreen, which has the ability to watch the viewer at all times. Knowing that I was about to be erased, panic began welling up inside my chest. To me, in a nightmare, there is nothing scarier than knowing you are, undoubtably, going to die. Not even death itself is a scarier concept than knowing that your inevitable doom is slowly spreading through you like the slowly retracting jaw of a snake, ready to attack and strangle its prey for a quick meal. Holy mother of balls.

Needless to say, I have woken up the past few nights in a cold sweat. Sometimes I wake up with the fear still inside of me, as if the dream hadn't ended yet, and it has somehow manifested itself into my waking life.

So perhaps it is not a good thing that I have begun reading Ring, Koji Suzuki's horror novel that spawned the popular films. I briefly mentioned this in my last post, which I will not dignify with a link (scroll down). I, admittedly, have never seen the movies. I'm not much for the horror genre, in case you can't tell. But I find the book engrossing, at least in the first fifty pages, and despite the morbid air and atmosphere it is a casual, fun read.

The translating/publishing house is Verticle, who also has a hand in translating a few of Tezuka's works including Black Jack, which is fucking awesome. It's about an unlicensed surgeon who has the ability to perform miracle cures on patients. He is generally considered an outcast and a thief, considering how loner qualities, deformed appearance, and outrageous doctor's fees. However, we know he's grossly misunderstood - Black Jack is unbearably tragic, constantly the victim of circumstance and a bastion of moral indignity - he is essentially the human, adult version of the serialized Astro Boy and repeating his laundry list of woeful sorrow would be best left for a post later on, when volume 3 is released later this month.

Unfortunately this blog post must be cut short; I have decided that taking a winter class that forces me up at 6AM was a good idea, and so my recent nights have been cut tragically short. I shall end this post with a YouTube video of the Talking Heads, because if I can't see David Byrne live then I can at least close my eyes and pretend I'm there.