February 2009

Not quite a nightmare, but an intense dream fueld by playing QuakeLive (which I encourage everyone to join) for 4+ hours before going to bed. Basically, I was playing some ultra-realistic political survival horror video game. Literally, I spent time in this game simply talking politics to people at a house I was in. War broke out. It was more or less a genocide of people with particular political affailiations. I managed to barely escape the house, but then had to hide for 3 days in another house. The wife was sympathetic, but I was not. At one point, I had to hide on top of a tall cabinet (they had cathedral ceilings) and simply hope that the husband didn’t look up.

I forget what happened, but I managed to cover a whole room with blood. I remember it taking me a good 5 tries to figure out the command to wipe the glass coffee table clean of blood. And it took 2 executions of that command to get it completely clean. As for the carpet, I managed to get the blood out just enough that you couldn’t see it, literally 5 seconds before the husband got home. I had to jump out of the room because it was too close of a call to simply run. But the blood was not detected.

I remembered thinking about how this was the most involved and realistic game I’d ever played; almost like living a nightmare. But much cooler. Becuase it was a game. (more…)

I got the Marvel “1602” graphic novel for Christmas this year. It is Neil Gaiman’s first comic series in a while. He was just about to start a project, then 911 happened. He didn’t want any planes, skyscrapers, or guns. So he moved all the Marvel characters to England/Europe in 1602.

The result is very interesting. Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, Dr. Doom, The X-Men (headed by Carlos Javier), The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man (who has no powers as Peter Parquagh), even Uatu The Watcher is featured in this. And The Watchers interfere, for once! It’s rare, but when all of creation is threatened, they interfere so that they still have something for watch.

It’s 8 comic books converted into a hardback grahpic novel. Excellent artwork — I really think digital painting has vastly improved the quality of comics, though purists will always disagree. I’m sorry, but old comics look amateur compared to today. Digital painting, gradients, and such, vastly improve how cool everything looks.

The story is decent. I read the first of 8 parts one night, then read all 7 parts in a row when my prescription kept me up all night. It took about 5 hours to read it all.

Good stuff. My comic reading has been on hold for years. A nice side-effect of pneumonia is not being able to sleep, getting bored, and wanting something light to read that wont give you a headache.

This was just what the doctor ordered. (more…)

Since everyone loves piercings and modifying their body so much… Couldn’t people just get closeable metal studs installed straight into their fatty tissue? “Lipo-holes.”

Then, you could just go up to a liposuction vending machine, open up your whole, plug in, and get instant lipo whenever you want. And the fat could be harvested for cancer preventing stem cells (a new development — our guts may very well save us). Or it could go to Taco Bell.

Food for thought? (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Of course we’d watch movie #3 after watching movie #1, movie #2, and the 26 episodes of The Mummy:TAS

CONCLUSION: This was entertaining, and gets a generic pass from us. Familiar characters, plus action and special effects. Not a great story, but interesting and entertaining. It’s not every day you have to deal with an army of the resurrected dead. Nor do you see badass Yetis everyday, unless you’re at a SubGenius event.

RECOMMENDATION: If you’ve come this far, you may as well finish the job and watch #3.

COINCIDENCES: (The Mummy 3, The Invincible Iron Man (2007) (anim)) Within a week, watched 2 movies that had relic Asian army soldiers being resurrected or about to be resurrected to fight, as well as both having a female Asian character who seemed to have a family destiny spanning thousands of years — to prevent/ensure something from happening. Wow. It’s like the writers got a hold of each others’ ideas. But the Iron Man animated movie came out first!
Also – Hellboy 2 had a sleeping army as well! This plot is getting overused!

MOVIE QUOTE: Jonathan Carnahan: “Ah! My ass is on fire! My ass is on fire! Spank my ass. Spank my ass!” (Okay, I don’t remember this, but it’s kind of funny.) (more…)

house_well-11Last year’s real estate assessment was a big deal, even creating local headlines due to the way Fairfax County screwed up their calculations, as well as having over 20 comments to this effect on my blogpost. I ultimately took an 8% hit on my house.

But this year? Despite the prevailing market having a 12% loss in my area, I only took a 3% loss! Yay!!

2008 Assessment:
TOTAL: $376K
land: $184K (18516 sq ft)
building: $192K

2009 Assessment:
TOTAL: $364K
land: $166K [still worth $16K more than when I bought it]
building: $198K

Houses are supposed to depreciate, not gain in value… But mine gained in value from $192K to $198K, a 3% increase. Weird.
My land went from $184K to $166K, a 10% decrease.
But overall? Only a 3.12% decrease. Not too shabby compared to blue flyer they included with the assessment that said the average decline was 12.55%!

On paper, at least, this means I took less of a hit than everyone else, so I’m “winning”.

However… I wonder if I should challenge this. I challenged them last year and successfully got them to lower my value (less taxes). Should my house really have gone up? And the addition we built — that just confuses things even more, but it was supposed to have already been counted.

RE: The Addition. A Kevin Moran of Fairfax County contacted me last summer and tried to get me to say how many bedrooms we had, and I refused, basically telling him that our building plans have been submitted to the county by Daniel M. Lopez of Virginia Design Builders, and that I lack the legal qualifications to determine what legally constitutes a bedroom for tax assessment purposes. I also told them I want them to get it right and don’t want to get hit with some back taxes due to them mis-classifying it, and I told them about the spiral staircase. He made the determination, in an email sent to me on 9/18/2008, that this would be counted as 2 bedrooms. He also said, and I quote, “Bedroom count has no impact on valuation by the appraisers. That is taken into consideration in the Sq. Footage. It s just a tracking item that is all.” He asked some other questions, and I responded back on the same day, giving him a JPG of the upstairs blueprint after the addition (the only JPG I had). I never heard from him since, so I hope this is okay.

The current balance on our mortage is $143,646.91, which means: $364K – $143K = $221K positive net equity on our house. Throw in our 401(k)s and savings account, and our net worth is somewhere around $250K-$275K. Though I expect that to go down as our 401(k)s continue to decline.

I also haver an $80K line of credit vs the house’s equity, will should still remain good, unless my house suddenly drops $100K in a year. That, plus my credit cards, add up to some $120K or so in credit limits, not counting Carolyn’s cars.

Basically, I’m pretty sure we can weather this coming economic crisis, unless things really tank badly next year. I’m already hearing that things may get better by 2010. It’s presented as bad news, but to me it’s good news. I waited out bad economic times after 911 (it added another year to my 2.5yr unemployment stint, basically), and I can do it again if I need to.

I’m not worried. I refuse to live in fear over macroeconomic fears. If the economy is so bad here… There are other places to go to make different kinds of livings, and we have the means to go there. But I still think this is the best place to remain for the time being. (more…)

As always, click through to comment on any picture individually on flickr, or to see the full-size…

So anyway… getting my granddad’s/parents’ wood art up was the hardest “picture” hanging of my life!  So… I must share in my misery. First off was the fact that it fit better sideways, so I wanted to convert the orientation from portrait to landscape. This also gels well with the societal trend towards widescreen…

20090124 - party prep - artwork - 175-7514-diptych-7515 - original back and mount - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
original back and mount
We never would have guessed that this wood art made by my grandad (and repainted by my parents) would take THREE EVENINGS (3-5 hours?) to hang up.

The frame itself was virtually non-existent — since the whole piece is all wood, the frame cannot actually support the weight easily, unless the support is distributed. With normal frames, you can just screw a hook into the wood and it will stay. Here, it appeared shoe moulding had been used as an anchor.The problem is that we did not have any spare shoe moulding in the house, and wanted to put this up without having to go to Home Depot.

Big mistake:

20090124 - party prep - artwork - 175-7517-diptych-7519-tach-7518 - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR

Above is our first, failed attempt at converting it from portrait to landscape orientation.

The portrait orientation was done with shoe moulding glued to the frame (see previous picture), and screws put into that. I noticed that one of the bookshelves I got from freecycle had ONE remaining piece of moulding on it; all the rest had been long gone. So we thought we could use the bookshelf moulding instead of shoe moulding.

Big mistake! I tore it off with my hand, and cracked it in two without a saw. We then nailed the hell out of it into the frame, and put some picture hanging hooks into it. EPIC FAIL. Nothing like being on a ladder and losing control of a 30-pound (if not 50), huge, awkward, cumbersome picture, and trying not to drop it down the spiral stairs while falling off the ladder. NOT FUN. The side with the nails that we bent (bottom) held, but the side with the nails driven straight through (top) did not. The wire didn’t fail; just the nails for one half.

So the next day I went to Home Depot and bought 1 linear ft of shoe moulding for 50 cents, as well as new wood glue. That probably took about 1.5 hrs. How annoying!

20090124 - party prep - artwork - 175-7530-diptych-175-7531 - Clampy McClampsALot - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
Clampy McClampsALot
We realized that we had to do this the right way: Shoe moulding and wood glue, just like the existing mount.

Even though I have wood glue, I posted a tweet asking people for wood glue recommendations, and went around Home Depot and talked to several people.

The help there didn’t really know, but there was some old man (a customer) who was willing to walk me over there and spend 20 minutes talking about the various glues. I ended up buying some glue that was the same kind I already had, but… I think it was a higher model.I then found out, only after putting the glue down, that you’re supposed to CLAMP it for 30 minutes. Maybe that’s why in the past I have been prejudiced about wood glue sucking — I never clamped it before. (I’d never had anything fail so badly that I needed to read the instructions before.)

The Vice-Grip — best tool ever — made an obvious first clamp. But what about the 2nd clamp? Since I’d just re-organized my utility room – I knew where the vice I made in 1987 shop class was!

20081121 - utility room organization - 0 - 172-7245 - main tool store by you.

I had actually made this vice from molted metal. Poured it into the mold myself, yada yada. For the first time in 22 years, I got to use it for its intended purpose! Go packrating!This picture reminds me of the Clamps robot from Futurama.

“Let’s give him the clamps! Or a clamp-like device!”

The glue would take 24 hours to fully set, and for the first time ever I intended to follow those instructions. This would mean putting the picture up 2-3 hours before people arrived at our party! A very close call!

20090124 - party prep - artwork - 175-7536-diptych-7532 - History, hooks - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
History, hooks
At this point, the wood glue (see previous picture) had been drying for 24 hours. I had bought several kinds of hooks, but the ones on the right were what I ended up using. TWO screws per hook meant these should hold very tight. And they did. total success!!!At this point, I figured maybe it was time to start a “history” on the back of the art, so that future owners would know where the hell this came from. Of course I had to estimate all the dates, so the information is not very precise, date-wise. But at least it’s approximately accurate.
Parents: Maybe you know more about the dates?

20090124 - party prep - artwork - 175-7538 - finished product - only possible with extremely dangerous ladder setup (see next pics) - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
finished product – only possible with extremely dangerous ladder setup (see next pics)
Success! After a failed attempt, this was very satisfying!

I used TWO heavy duty (rated for 50-lb?) picture hangers, as the exact center happened to fall in between 2 wood panels. So I had to put a hanger on each side of the indentation between panels.

I was very happy that via measuring and estimates, we managed to get the “margin” over the top of this to be about the same as the margins on the sides.And it turned out there was just enough vertical room left under it that our Drawn Together subway poster fit right under it. (People wont see this until our next party.)

FYI, the duct tape on the ladder was to keep it from scratching the wall. But it was put on the wrong side of the ladder, so we scratched the wood anyway. But now the picture is over it so you don’t see it. :)

As for the ladder — that was as hard as the picture. The top of the ladder is actually in mid air; it’s not leaning on anything. The next pictures show how we accomplished this:

LADDER BONDAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

20090124 - party prep - ladder bondage - 175-7524a-diptych-7524b - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
“Your safeword is banana.”

In order to hang up the heavy wood art (see previous pictures), we needed to be able to stand way high up.

Without a flat floor to stand on, there was NO WAY to get up there to do this!

I figured out that there was ONE alternative left: TIE our ladder (LADDER BONDAGE) to the spiral stair rails, such that the ladder goes up into MID-AIR.

We used the leftover pool cloth from our pool table refelting to protect the rails from scratches, and clothes destined for charity/attic-insulation to be “worn” on the “feet” of our ladder so.

Keep in mind the “left foot” of the ladder was STILL in mid air. The “right foot” was hooked UNDER a step. That, and the rope, is the only reason the ladder was stable. This is probably the most extreme thing we’ve ever done in our house!

The rope is high quality rope from a “fall compliance kit” I paid $160 for, so that I could clean my gutters (which costs $80 for someone else to do) without dying. And we were pretty thorough about tying it. Who needs Shibari knowledge to get some good tying done??

StairLadderway To Heaven:

20090124 - party prep - ladder bondage - 175-7526-7527-7525-triptych - Ladderway To Heaven - see how far it is from the wall?!?!?! - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
see how far it is from the wall?!?!?!

Going up was scary!

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anchored to foosball table
In this picture, you can see how it was “anchored” to the foosball table. Not that this came into play. I knew that if the anchoring ever came into play, it would mean that the ladder and/or I was already falling. Still: Anything to slow down the fall would be advantageous. It was very inconvenient to use these stairs for the 24-48 hours it was like this.

Finally, the moment of truth:

20090124 - party prep - ladder craziness - 175-7537-diptych-7534 - even the cats know this is unsafe! - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
even the cats know this is unsafe!

As scary as the left picture looks, the right picture is even more dangerous!

At least in the left picture, 3 of my 4 limbs are leveraged on something: One foot on the ladder, the other on the spiral stair rail, and my right arm holding onto the vent enclosure ‘wall’.

In the right picture, I’m simply balanced on my feet, with my hands not really holding on to anything! Carolyn was holding onto one of my belt loops most of the time. And I took the rubber cap off the top of the spiral stair support column (I keep throwing things down it as a joke), so that I could grab its edge if need be. There are also spare couch cushions (from thrown away couches) on the stairs in case I fell. And of course the hard hat.

And a non-related picture for fun:

20090124 - party prep - mirror - 175-7699 - spiral stairs - please click through to leave a comment on FlickR
among other hangings, a mirror, which “creates more” toys

We did all this ladder business with the toys sitting on the shelf right next to it. I think we only knocked down 2 or 3, which is amazing considering what we were doing.  The mirror really adds to the look of the collection. It also means it’s now possible to see the downstairs door without having to go downstairs — by looking in the mirror.

To view all the pictures of this set on flickr, go to my 20090124 tag on flickr.

Happy Birthday Carolyn!!!!

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] The title really turned me off, until I realized what it was about and who was involved… Then changed my mind.

HAIKU REVIEW: Pineapple Express:
what a stupid fucking name…
But now it makes sense.

PEOPLE: Seth Rogan. James Franco. Gary Cole. Rosie Perez (?!). Written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, who wrote Superbad.

QUIRKS: A stoner action movie. Dude, wait… What?

The first marijuana themed comedy to gross over $100 million worldwide.

POLITICS: There is often no way to contain police corruption, due to the power police have. That’s bad.

BAD STUFF: Since this was a combo pot/comedy movie and action movie, it fails to be a super comedy OR a super action movie. Instead, we get a really good (not quite super) movie that happens to be both. It’s still really funny!

Of course — it might have had more action if their budget hadn’t been cut in HALF because of the drug-related content. Fucking studios.

CONCLUSION: 4/5 stars on Netflix, 8/10 on IMDB, tho I’d probably give it more like a 7.5 if I could.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like feelgood action movies, or Rogan/Goldberg movies like Superbad — you will like this. It’s full of good quotes, at the very least.

Saul: This is like if that Blue Oyster shit met that African Kush I had – and they had a baby. And then, meanwhile, that crazy Northern Light stuff I had and the Super Red Espresso Snowflake met and had a baby. And by some miracle, those two babies met and fucked – this would the shit that they birthed.
Dale Denton: [smells the marijuana] Wow. This is the product of baby fucking.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian and Glen really liked it. (more…)

isn’t it interesting that Israel can build all kinds of illegal settlements in Palestinian land:

and then turn around and declare Palestinian homes that have been in Jerusalem since pre-1967 illegal, and bulldoze them:

I’d love to see this explained without resorting to mindlessly-repeated rhetoric. (more…)

One of the greatest feature in gmail is labels that can be applied to any message. Unlike folders, you can apply as many labels as you want. If someone sends me a funny picture, rather than having to create a new “funny pictures” folder, I can just apply the existing labels “comedy” and “pictures”. Similarly, if someone sends me an unfunny picture, I can just label it “pictures”. And if someone sends me comedy that isn’t a picture, I can label it “comedy”. Multi-labels are POWERFUL, and keep you from having to have as many “folders”. Back in the folder days, I would frequently save the same email to 2 or 3 folders, creating extra copies and wqasting extra space.

One of my basic tenants of email is that people’s emails should be labeled with their name. If your name is Frank, I want any emails from you or to you under my “Frank” label. Since labels can have custom colors, this is very useful. For instance, since Tabbitha loves pink so much, I made her label bright pink. Her emails stand out in my inbox — assuming they are labeled.

So this gets us to the labeling problem. For me to highlight Tabbitha’s messages pink, I have to create two filters! Maybe even three!

1) If message is from Tabbitha, label “Tabbitha”.
2) If message is to Tabbitha, label “Tabbitha”.
3) If message subject contains Tabbitha (for evite or facebook notifications), label “Tabbitha”.

Obviously, it is time consuming to make 3 filters every time you meet someone. Guess how many filters I’ve created in my 4+ years of using gmail? 1,993!

It would be SO SO SO nice if they had an “OR” operator. So I could put Tabbitha in “from”, “to”, and “subject”, and click “or”, and then if she was in any of those, it would work. But nooooooo. Gmail defaults to using “AND”. So if you put Tabbitha in “from”, “to”, and “subject”, it will only apply to messages that are from AND to her AND have it in the subject. And by definition, those emails would never get to me (they are from Tabbitha, and to herself.. so I’m not getting them… haha). Gmail fails here, because they use “AND” and not “OR”. I really wish they would let us choose the boolean operator.

So anyway, in an effort to keep this number as low as possible — I figured out a way to combine 2 or 3 filters into 1, by FOOLING GMAIL. This allows for faster filter creation. Observe the method for squeezing 2 filters into one:

gmail filter hack - squeeze 2 filters out of 1

See the first circled part? This shouldn’t be accepted as valid user input, but it is.
Because the parenthesis shouldn’t be there, gmail adds a right parenthesis to close it.
See the second circled part?  This is how gmail resolves it – it closes the parenthesis, which contain nothing in them, and as such “cancel out” in an almost algebraic way. The remaining code is “from:(dynamite44) OR to:(dynamite44)”. I’ve successfully subverted gmail into using “OR” instead of “AND”. w00t!

This ends up giving the desired effect of 2 filters in one.

Finally, Facebook and Evites and Flickr often give you notification for people using their username, or their first and last names. So, this concept can be extended to the subject as well. In this example, I made a filter for someone who consistently uses ‘remodulated’ for their email and flickr notifications:

gmail filter hack - squeeze 3 filters out of 1

In this case, the filter would match any message that is from remodulated OR to remodulated OR has remodulated in the subject. Normally, this would require 3 filters. But you can trick gmail into doing it all in 1 filter. double w00t! (more…)

This is a Facebook meme going around, but I don’t like to post these ON Facebook….

“Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you that they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the ass, literally socked you in the gut if you know what i mean. Then when you finish, tag 15 others, including myself. Make sure you copy and paste this message so the people you tag will know the drill.”

Well… This is a hard one. I listen to a LOT of music. I have 36,000 mp3s (and only about 3,000 of those aren’t music). I spent 5+ yrs listening to a random playlist of 9000 songs (typically limit myself to playlists of 1000-2000 songs these days). I went through a set of rechargeable (Nickel-Cadmium) walkman batteries every day in high school. I have music playing 24/7/365 at home. I often turn the in-game music off in video games, leaving only the sound effects, so I can use my own music. I bring music to work and listen non stop. I would be very hard pressed to choose my 100 favorite albums, let alone choose 15.

So this will be kind of random and arbitrary! I will probably focus on some of the albums I listened to when I was younger (high school), as they shaped my future tastes. I also will try not to repeat 2 albums by the same band.

01. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction – first cassette I ever bought, around 1988. At first I would just listen to Sweet Child O’ Mine over and over again. Chris Hanners made fun of me. Eventually my favorite song became “It’s So Easy”, and now I’m also quite fond of “Rocket Queen”. I’ve heard (and played) Sweet Child O’ Mine enough for a lifetime.

02. Metallica – Ride The Lightning – not my first Metallica album – that was And Justice For All, arguably more influential because it helped get me into metal. But then I got Kill ‘Em All, and liked it better than Justice, listening to it about 400 times in high school. Ultimately, however, I decided on Ride The Lightning as my favorite Metallica album, and this hasn’t changed in 10 or 15 years. This is the only Metallica album that I would still consider listening straight through in sequential, today. Metallica themselves can fuck off and die in 2009; they should be burned on the high alter of hypocrisy.

03. Megadeth – So Far, So Good… So What? – Along with Metallica‘s And Justice For All, and Megadeth‘s 2nd album Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, this was one of the 3 albums that got me into thrash metal and metal in general (or speedmetal, as we called it back then). I started with Guns N’ Roses, moved on to Metallica & Megadeth, and progressed into Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Kreator, Coroner, etc. This was also my introduction to the Sex Pistols, as Dave Mustaine‘s cover of “Anarchy In The UK” (retitled “Anarchy In The USA”) made me realize that Sex Pistols are a band I need to get into someday. (It took me until college to get around to this.)

04. 20080223 - cd longboxes - Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine, Jane's Addiction: Nothing's Shocking, Ministry: The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, Gwar: Scumdogs Of The Universe, Type O Negative: Slow, Deep And Hard, Atari Teenage Riot: Live In Philad Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking – After seeing “Mountain Song” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball (despite wikipedia claiming MTV wouldn’t air the video), I felt it slightly out of place. This was before 120 Minutes existed, back around 1988 or 1989, before Jane’s Addiction became mainstream. This was back when their 1st (live) album couldn’t be found in record stores, because they hadn’t “broke” yet. The cover artwork, in the form of a longbox CD case (remember those?), was perhaps the most subversive piece of art I owned, at age 14. I was a freshmen at the school across the street from my house. It wasn’t until I was a junior (1990-1991) that everyone seemed to know the song “Been Caught Stealing”. The songs were so incredibly powerful (Ocean Size, Had A Dad, Ted,Just Admit It, Standing In The Shower…Thinking, Mountain Song, Pigs In Zen.) To this day, I think the song “Jane Says” is probably the worst non-instrumental song on the album, maybe tied with Idiots Rule.

05. SabbatDreamweaver (Reflections Of Our Yesterdays) –  Click the album title for my 5800 word review on this album. One of 2 albums I have ever bought on all 3 formats: Cassette, Vinyl, and CD (original pressing for $54 and remaster for $26). I bought this because I liked the record company, Noise Records, and because I liked the cover art. It was around 1989. It was a truly random purchase. Extremely dense thrash metal, with TONS of lyrics for each song, and TONS of riffs. Sam Watson figured out that it was a concept album with an incredible story — and this was AFTER I had grown to love it. Eventually, lyrics surfaced on the internet, and I spent weeks in college listening to it over and over, fixing the lyrics until they were right. I had a national library search for the book it was based on fail twice, before finally succeeding some 10 yrs afterward. We now own the book it is based on, and have both read it. This might be my favorite metal album of all time, and is probably Carolyn’s too.

06. 20080223 - cd longboxes Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes – In my day, sonny, we didn’t have emo music. If you were crushing hard on a girl, or feeling a lot of teenage angst, you would listen to THIS album. Blister In The Son, Kiss Off, Prove My Love, Add It Up, Please Do Not Go, Gone Daddy Gone, To The Kill… This entire album was great, and helped show me that you could still rock with acoustic instruments, and “lead acoustic bass”. “Lead” bass is rare. Primus, Mr. Big (who I hated, but was impressed with the bassist), and some Violent Femmes were really all the music I could think of that had “lead” bass. I still remember an entire bus of random party-goers at Virginia Tech spontaneously breaking into singing this song. People from all kinds of different social standings and circles of friends united into a drunk carol of epic proportion — I remember that bus ride to this day. 4 years after getting into the album, I was surprised to find out that it was well known among all the other random Virginia Tech people. And later, they would play at Squires Student Center.

07. NoMeansNo – Live + Cuddly. NoMeansNo has way too many MASTERPIECE, EPIC albums for me to choose one. It’s really hard for me to choose a favorite between Wrong (the album), Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed / The Day Everything Became Nothing, Sex Mad / You Kill Me, or 0 + 2 = 1. But Live + Cuddly was the first NoMeansNo cassette I ever heard, after a guy named Dane played some of it for me in a car at a sleepover that Carolyn’s ex-ex-boyfriend had lured me to with the promise of cheerleaders also attending. (There weren’t any, and when we talked to some random chicks walking down the street, they informed us that the neighborhood nickname for this kid was “Turd”, lol.) Suffice to say that Dane helped me to influence the most people I have ever influenced in my life to like a band. When NoMeansNo came to the Rock N’ Roll Hotel, I could attribute 10-15 people being there because they got into it from people who got into it from me. It spread through my friends, Carolyn’s brothers friends, the Ingebrets3n brothers, and more. They are one of the most creative “punk” acts out there. It’s too bad their post-2000 work does not at all stand up to their pre-2000 work. I will also remark that their first album, Mama, clearly has songs that sound exactly like Primus‘s style (lead bass, nasally vocals) — years before Primus hit the scene. But this was not the sound they would ultimately have. It was punk — but only because it lacked classification elsewhere. It was punk with high variance. No two songs sounded a like. Usually, with punk, most songs by the same band sound somewhat alike. Still one of my favorite bands ever.

08. Alternative Tentacles – Virus 100 Dead Kennedys Tribute. Back in my day, sonny — before p2p and bittorrent — if you wanted 1 rare song by a band you lived that appeared on some strange compilation/tribute album… You had to go to the record store, special order the album, and play the waiting game. This album is well known among Dead Kennedys fans, and even among non-fans. I never heard a single Dead Kennedys album until AFTER college, despite the fact that I had this in *high school*. I knew I liked the songs, and I knew I would eventually like Dead Kennedys (Which I do now). What’s the rush? In fact, I would say that for about 80% of the songs on this album — I like them better than the Dead Kennedys version. They’re far more stylized and unique. This is also how I got into Victims Family, a NoMeansNo-produced funky punk band that has some decent stuff (and some stuff that’s not quite as decent). It’s also how Disposable Heroes Of Hyphopcracy got on my radar. I’m not into hip-hop, but they did a spoken word collaboration album with William S. Burroughs (“Spare Ass Annie”), and the fact that I had already heard them do California Uber Allies helped convince me to pony up the cash for Spare Ass Annie after seeing The Naked Lunch movie.

09. WeenPure Guava. After hearing Push Th’ Little Daisies on Beavis & Butt-head, I knew this was a band for me. I wasn’t wrong. This album blew my mind, and introduced me to one of my 3 favorite bands (Ween, The Misfits, Atari Teenage Riot). Listening to Ween has been pretty much a daily occurrence ever since, and Ween is the band I have seen the most times live — 8 (counting the Gene Ween and Gene Ween Band shows). Basically, this album helped expand my love of modern psychedelic music, and greatly influenced my music taste. Although I got this in 1992/1993ish, it was not until about 2001 that I decided Ween was tied for my favorite band. But the voyage started with this AMAZING album. My favorite track? Morning Glory!

10. Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits. Won by my dad in a sweepstakes contest in 1995, I threw this into my 12-disc changer without knowing what to expect. What we were treated to was a bunch of cover songs of cartoon themes. Liz Phair, Semisonic, Matthew Sweet, Juliana Hatfield, Tonya Donelly, Collective Soul, Butthole Surfers, Helmet, The Ramones, Reverent Horton Heat, Frente, Violent Femmes, Face To Face, Tripping Daisy, Sublime, Toadies, The Murmurs, etc. These were, for the most part, bands I never listened to, and to this day am not the slightest bet interested in (except Femmes, Ramones, Surfers, and to a lesser extent Rev. Horton Heat, and The Murmurs who had a great song Beavis & Butt-head watched called “You Suck”). Yet they made an album of songs I absolutely loved — mostly because they didn’t write them. Old, corny TV songs re-done in modern styles. All the soul of the old, and all the style of the new. It was the perfect mashup, and was probably a Top-10 listened-to album in college for Carolyn & I. Sublime turned the 30 second Hong Kong Phooey theme song into 7.5 minutes of sometimes psychedelic reggae madness. Popeye The Sailor became a fast, aggressive, headbanging song. Happy Happy Joy Joy became something that could be moshed to. H.R. Pufnstuff had far more charm than the original. Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah was the perfect one for Violent Femmes to improve, and improve they did. The whole album was a masterpiece. Later, Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks gave the exact same treatment to the Schoolhouse Rock! songs, with pretty much equal success (including a Ween song, as well as Man Or Astro-Man?’s best song ever, Biz Markie, Lemonheads, Skee-Lo, Moby, Pavement, and such). These 2 albums are in a category of their own.

11. Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses. Best gothic metal album ever? I think so. You just can’t beat songs like Black No. 1, Christian Woman, Blood & Fire, Too Late: Frozen, or We Hate Everyone, and the rest of the album is quite good too. I was a Carnivore fan before Carnivore changed its name to Type O Negative. So this was really the 4th studio album byt hese guys. But it was groundbreaking at the time — their shows are still extremely popular to this day. Type O Negative did for gothic metal what Sisters Of Mercy did for gothic rock!

12.Ministry – In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up. I first heard the song “Thieves” (with samples from Full Metal Jacket) when I saw D.R.I. (with Bad Religion opening) at the old 9:30 Club. They played it on the speakers in between bands. I went out and got the live album, and to date it is one of my favorite live albums ever. The accompanying video IS my favorite live video ever (and I lost my VHS! Stolen by friends, I assume.) Most of the songs on this album were better than the studio equivalents! They were longer, more aggressive, and had TWO drummers. This began my descent into industrial metal. This album was ultimately responsible for me liking KMFDM, Rammstein, Atari Teenage Riot, Chemlab, Nine Inch Nails (who I got into because of the raw aggression of Broken; I hated Pretty Hate Machine in high school), and Marilyn Manson.

13.Atari Teenage Riot – Burn, Berlin, Burn! Just click on the band name to find other posts where I gush about Atari Teenage Riot. Combining techno, industrial, metal, punk, hip-hop (tiny bit), and noise into a genre they dubbed “digital hardcore” — ATR redefined the very meaning of the word “heavy” for me. Slayer‘s got nothing on these guys. Metallica wishes they could make something this aggressive. Most death metal is too generic and unrelenting to really get me going. These guys get me going. And politically, they are the only band to capture the true rage that we should be feeling with the state of the world and society being what it is today. There other albums are equally as good, but this is what helped me START THE RIOT (one of their songs)! In fact, Atari Teenage Riot has inspired real riots, with riot police, mass arrests, and everything. I’d pay good money to travel back in time and attend that show. Too bad Carl Crack is now dead.

14.Sex Pistols – The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle. Yes, I know this isn’t “really” the Sex Pistols, and that their only true studio release was Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. Despite that fact, this was one of the most listened to albums by Carolyn & me in college. It sat in our 12-disc changer for years, just like Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits. Despite it not being “real” Sex Pistols, I found this album to capture a particular essence that made it realer than a real Sex Pistols album. Most Sex Pistols fandom probably considers this to be sacrilege, yet this is how I feel. Don’t get me wrong — Nevermind The Bollocks is a seminal classic. But I might even like the Ex Pistols The Swindle Continues better than Nevermind The Bollocks! Either way. The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle is the single “Sex Pistols” album that I would have to choose to take to a desert island.

15.Minor Threat – Complete Discography. While I originally owned this as two separate cassettes, they released them onto 1 cd, and I now consider it 1 album, because it all fits on a cd! This is the first song I ever performed in my first band — and I hadn’t even heard the original at that time! In high school, I grew to GREATLY love this. It is some of the best punk that ever existed, and has not been forgotten, like some greats often are. It seems everyone still remembers and loves them. If they were to tour as Minor Threat today, I’m thinking the shows would quite possibly sell out. Too bad Ian MacKaye is a dick and a hypocrite, now seen drinking around D.C. bars despite starting the [stupid] straightedge punk scene. To quote the Undead: “No Vices! How boring it would be if we had No Vices!”

NOTE: No The Misfits albums were included because there are so many The Misfits albums that are varying permutations of the same songs. Thus, any good Misfits song appears on multiple different albums, making it really hard to pick one as being particularly influential.

I wish I had room to include Moistboyz #2, Mr. Bungle #2 (Disco Volante), and The Undead‘s Dawn Of The Undead on this list. But I don’t. I would also consider putting Freezepop‘s Freezepop Forever album on this list, if only because it is an incredible departure from my normal music tastes. I also wonder if The Church‘s Starfish album belongs here for similar reasons.

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] We had been trying to watch every Johnny Depp movie that had a palatable summary. The summary of this movie deterred us from watching it for quite a long time.

PEOPLE: Johnny Depp. Al Pacino. Directed by Mike Newell who has directed about 80 things I don’t care about.

QUIRKS: FBI agent infiltrates mob, gets caught up in mob life, eventually stops reporting to the FBI. He’s REALLY into his job. Based on a true story.

BAD STUFF: Just another mob movie about mob stuff.

CONCLUSION: I also wrote this review a couple months after watching it, and LITERALLY REMEMBERED *NOTHING* without going to IMDB and re-reading on it. I find “guys with guns chase power” stories to be rather generic and banal, and often don’t remember the details of the story even 2 or 3 days later. Honestly, I had more fun watching the b-movie (c-movie?) High Times’ Potluck, which had the lead singer of the Lunachicks starring as a girl who ends up turning the mafia into stoners, and also had a Tommy Chong cameo, Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob fame) and the dad from The Wonder Years in it (as the mafia head). Now THAT is memorable, even if the movie was done on a low budget (by High Times magazine).

Now, Donnie Brasco wasn’t meant to be fun like Potluck; it was meant to tell a story. It definitely had intensity. But it loses points for simply being a topic Carolyn & I aren’t generally interested in, and for being very realistic. Which is to expected from a true story. By the way, Carolyn & I also have absolute zero interest (negative, actually) in ever seeing The Godfather. So there was a reason we put this off for so long. It’s really not our thing.

RECOMMENDATION: Johnny Depp fans should see this for completionism. People who can stand mafia movies really like this – it got some Oscar nods. But if you share the taste of Clint and Carolyn, there are a million other movies to watch that are more entertaining.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: At 3 stars, I tie Becky for the lowest rating. Ian, Glen, Metinee, and Darren all rated it 4 stars (really liked it), while Wayne & Christian rated it 5 stars (loved it). So in this case, I disagree with some of the people who rate the most like me (Ian, Christian) out of my 20 or so Netflix friends. (more…)

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