That's the spirit of the whole thing, isn't it? A place to discuss whatever is on your mind - ask questions when you have them, propose theories or explain thoughts when they come to you. An open place for conversation among many diverse individuals.

Instructions

If you would like to join our community, please leave a comment, and we will be sure to add you as an author. You're also welcome to join the conversation on Twitter, just search 'weekendphilosophers'. All questions can be directed to nathan.driftwoodprose@gmail.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tribal Beats

This blog has officially moved over to Google Wave. We will likely work on embedding, etc... in due time. If you're interested in joining us on Google Wave, nathan.driftwoodprose@googlewave.com or if you need an invite and are interested, send me an email, nathan.driftwoodprose@gmail.com (sense a theme?)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

State of Horror

As Halloween is coming up...

  • What are your favorite horror movies?
  • Favorite horror movie clich├ęs?
  • Is horror any better or worse than it was during the "Golden Age" (late 70s?)
  • Are our throwaways better than the throwaways of the day?
  • Does the horror industry's tendency to continuously produce sequels detract from an original's quality?
  • Where is horror right now and where is it going?
  • Any must see horror movies this Halloween season?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Monday

Mondays have never really bothered me, truth be told. I think, more than anything, it's a consistent thing to complain about - something to talk about at the water cooler. Personally, Tuesday have always been the worst, can't explain why. Just bums me out whenever it's Tuesday.

There's obviously the issue of sleep deprivation, on weekends we get to (relatively) sleep in, whereas we always get up earlier than we wish on weekdays...at least, you know, not-morning people.

I think we're stuck, as a society, in this work cycle that is terribly outdated. A decent portion of company's now work four days, ten hour days which I would prefer since I commute an hour a day, but also - the first hour of every day is usually spent getting set up and organized for the day, so I'd gain about an hour a week in that respect. But in the bigger picture, why work 9-5? Is there really any benefit to everyone working the same hours? We've gone global to the point where work is almost always being done, so why localize it? I think the whole world should be 24 hours, I never really understood why we limited ourselves to this arbitrary time cycle constructed by farmers. Nothing against farmers, they clearly have to respect the Earth's clocks, but we don't. If I work best 7:30pm-3:30am, why can't I? Or work a good twenty hour day, take twenty hours off, do it again and then come back next week. When I was young, I said to myself that my company would allow people to work whenever. As long as you put in 40 hours and your productivity is there, I don't care. With the advances in meeting and collaboration software, meeting face-to-face in a room is almost out-dated, I think. Not to mention, things discussed in digital form versus face-to-face discussion has a paper trail, which is always a good thing in business.

Just my thoughts.

On a side note, I got an invite to Google Wave from my brother Doug and rumor has it, I'll be getting 8 invites of my own as it's only as worthwhile as the number of people you know using it as well and while I've gotten into some engaging conversations on the public threads, re-imagining Weekend Philosophers in that aspect would be a good thing. Right now, they have cut off the invites, as the servers adjust to the constant influx of users and prepare for more, but as soon as I get them, Evan and Jana are on my list. There is the possibility to put our conversation out on the public forum, but as of right now, I'm hesitant at best, for this approach as it's easy for others to come in and kind of hijack a wave and the creator can't regain control. I think exploring it on our own and seeing the potential of the system before going that route is the way to go. I think it's really going to open up a lot of conversation possibilities for us though, it's not integrated into gmail or anything yet, so it's basically another inbox to check right now, but the conversations are a lot more fluid, like a chatroom or forum, but allows more of the conversation process to take place (in-line replies, etc...). I'll keep you guys posted on that.

Anyone seen Zombieland? Good topics there. Come up with some rules, given Halloween's fast approach, for surviving 1) a vampire, 2) a werewolf, 3) zombie outbreak!

Later.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mondays

Why indeed do we hate Mondays? It's not like the weekend won't arrive in a matter of days. Also, after that weekend there will be another Monday and so on and so forth. How about a different approach? Yay Monday! Like Chili's Margarita Mondays.

I do agree that it is tough. Especially if you hate your job, which unfortunately a lot of people do. We do have to fulfill the basic necessities, food and shelter and lub. Maybe I'm an idealist, but why not enjoy every day to the fullest? To be honest, if you live in America, you have a lot to be thankful for. Sure, you may not be the wealthiest, but you are rich compared to 80% of the world. You have the freedom to go to the grocery store to buy food and you can clothe yourself. My intent wasn't really to make people feel bad. Just realize that the gift of life and freedom is so often taken for granted.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Google Wave

The Internet is about to change, and the worst thing is, only about 2% of Internet users will either utilize it.


Do you ever see something or hear of something and you think to yourself, that could change the world? Google Wave is one of those things. And as of right now, only 100,000 people have invites, and those 100,000 people received 8 invites to spread to their friends. This is a social app, first and foremost, if you're using it alone, then you aren't using it at all. This concerns me slightly because there is a lot going on here and that may turn off a lot of people before they even try it. By the way, Google's Chrome browser is by far the fastest and best browser available. I convince my friends to install it, they open it - there's no main menu, no menus at all actually, and they feel lost so they close it and never use it again. Spend one solid web surfing session with Chrome and you'll know it's the best. Google Wave is so much bigger than just a browser, as it is essentially every previous Google App out there...it is gmail, it is Google Docs, it is Blogger, it is iGoogle, and it so much more. Google Wave could, potentially, be the end of email...or at least, the beginning of the end. This is beyond huge and it could be here by the end of the year.

By the way, come Google Wave - this blog becomes solely run on Google Wave (watch the 80 minute video and you'll see how that works). Google essentially promotes conversation, which is what we want and sharing is instantaneous. Greatest accomplishment of the past ten years, easily, and we haven't seen the full potential this can reach yet as they made it infinitely expandable. However, and I stress this again, it is pointless if people don't use it. Get excited about this, get it out there, because this could be big.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Let's talk about...love...baby?

Sorry, crazy 10-hour days at work, plus school and not doing homework have left Nathan a bit lacking in the time department. However, we are known as Weekend Philosophers for a reason - because I used to work long hours, thus could only post on the weekend...seems so familiar looking back now.

I'm glad you picked up on the topic of the hopeless romantic because it is clearly one that we can dive much deeper into, a lot of meet to that one. That's not to say that emotion manipulation by part of Hollywood is any topic to scoff at, the number of people who tuned in to Grey's Anatomy only to cry for two hours is beyond me. I'm naturally a cold person, don't make many attachments and this'll probably come up in the romantics talk in a second, but in this case, I make even fewer attachments to fictional characters with fictional problems (I often frustrate Tori by saying, "(s)he'll be fine" in response to anyone being murdered in a horror movie).

Anyways, moving on to the topic at hand...the hopeless romantic. Now, being a hopeless romantic sucks and it's all in the name - it's hopeless. We're looking for some crazy concept which probably isn't out there. We are so drawn to this perfect picture of love that we have in our minds, even though we've seen no evidence (at least I haven't) is real life where it works out the way we see it working, but we try nonetheless. There's absolutely no logic in it at all, and myself, being a logical person, can't stand it when I find myself going into these bizarre fantasies or flights of fancy where this kind of thing does exist. What's more, is that when we're identified as romantics, there comes this expectation for over-the-top romantic actions and I don't know about you, but it's just not there for me. It's not that I don't want to hold up my boombox outside your window or whatever, it's simply that I don't want to cross that line. I've experienced enough backlash to my romantic gestures that I know that there is this clear line between sweet and endearing versus kind of creepy. I've learned now that when a girl withdraws or shows disinterest, I just shut it down completely and wait for them to come back because it seems whenever I try to fix it myself, I only make matters worse. That could just be me sucking at this game, not sure. And the whole thing is that we're fulfilling all these self-prophecies because we see heartbreak to be almost as romantic as love itself. A great movie, and it's possibly in the book as well, I forget (High Fidelity) asked the question - am I sad because I listen to pop music or do I listen to pop music because I'm sad? Think about it - most songs are either about love, or love-lost, so we have this great relationship with the concept of being this pitiful, heartbroken soul. We think to have loved and lost is a great personal achievement, like we accomplished something by fucking up a possibly great relationship, and we kind of build off of that because it's honestly easier to be alone than it is to be with a person, and then we can wear this badge of honor that it didn't work out but I really care for her.

Then there's this whole concept of love, what's that about anyways? If I were asked to define love, I would be at a loss for words. That being said, I know that to the best of my perceptions of it, I love two people in the sense that I think I'm supposed to - Tori, my wife and Josh, my best friend. I like plenty of people a lot, a like plenty of people a little and I hate a whole bunch of people, but there you have it. There is family and there is family love, and I love my family in that sense...it's almost a guilty love, where I feel like they have to love me because I'm their son/brother, etc and thus it would be very easy to resent those feelings, then pass that resentment onto the person...doesn't happen in my family, that resentment clearly goes elsewhere or into more subtle passive-aggressive behavior, but it's no wonder most families are off the wall.

Marriage, an extended definition of family, is the same thing. It completely defines logic that a legal document is needed to signify love. That being said, I'm married and I couldn't be happier with my decision to do-so. I always said growing up that marriage was unnecessary, if someone loves you and you love them, then stay together - don't make a piece of paper tell you to stay. However, when I met Tori, I had to marry her. There was probably a thought in my brain that said, "lock that down, don't let it get away because you're likely to fuck up soon" and I have no way of telling if any number of fuck-ups between then and now would have caused her to leave permanently had we not been married. It would be very easy for me to take that paranoid approach and then loath the marriage certificate for keeping her here when she wanted to leave, as that's my biggest fear, but I do my best not to over-analyze things. I find that my problem in most relationships, that I over-analyze every interaction, every little hint that may or may not be intentional or even subconscious indications of one's true feelings. I think this is another habit of the hopeless romantic which leads to our downfall in most relationships, we rarely let things take a natural approach and feel we need to force things to go the way our minds tell us they should.

Back to love though, is the concept of love as it is sold to us by greeting cards and TV shows and crappy romance novels a complete myth? We all grew up hearing these fairy tales where everyone lives happily ever after, but is this ever realistic? Obviously, happy ever after is a myth, there's no question about that. It would be impossible for two people to grow and mature at the same rate over an extended period of time. If you met the 'love of your life' at ninety-two and then both of you died the next day, congrats - you're the first couple to never have a fight - for the rest of us, however, that damage control is crucial. Then we have that concept that there is one person out there for you, and that's bogus beyond bogus. I'm in the belief that any two people can get along in the right circumstances, either through just common niceties to get through a conversation or project at work, so just meeting someone at the right time and place in order to make that connection over a single common interest and bonding with that. That ability to make almost instantaneous bonds with others is one of the things that make humans so unique, that we can 'love' and personify and attach to almost anything. At some point in your life, you likely rooted for a talking toaster. I'm just saying. So if everything we're sold about love is a myth, is the whole thing? Is this a trained 'emotion' I'm told I have by years of conditioning? Is it possible we'll ever know the truth?

I recently listened to an interview with a former nun who was discussing the concept of God. Too often, people attempt to personify God as a supreme being or try to assign God a he or she pronoun, thus bringing the immortal more down to our understanding, however - she said - God is more of a concept, a thought of something too great for us to perceive (forest through the trees, type thing). Is love this way too? Is love a formulaic expression that we've taught ourselves to validate sexual impulses or is love something bigger, something grander than we can truly conceive or even experience in it's full sense?

That's enough for tonight. Just to conclude, all of us hopeless romantics are doomed, but we probably wouldn't want it either other way as the heartbreak validates our need for romance. Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From Evan via Facebook

So, it's been awhile since I've posted in here. mostly due to the fact that I'm trying to get myself settled. I feel like I've done that now.

The movie sounds interesting, at the very least, and i too identify with the hopeless romantic. I will definitely have to check this film out. The names of the girls are indicative of the seasons too. When you think of summer you think of summer flings. Autumn seems much more reserved and and calming. A better fit for a hopeless romantic.

Do you remember Cathy? For those of you who don't know her, she's a hot Hispanic chic that I dated that epitomizes the summer character in this film. She wants to settle down eventually, from what I gathered, but her actions suggest otherwise. She's never happy with what she has for too long and she's always looking for that perfect man. Which, is actually on the romantic side of things.

I wonder if she'd be even happy with the "perfect" guy. In my experience, humans are innately imperfect, so the search for "the one," as such is futile. Yes, I believe that there is someone who is right for you out there, but it's not only one person. It could be any number of candidates, it just depends on the sequence of events. Your willingness to grasp this concept will help your prejudice and help you discover wonderful relationships to which you might have otherwise been oblivious.

Doing the right thing. That's a loaded phrase in itself. How often does doing the right thing end up in humiliation for yourself, or alienation from the one person you were trying to do right by. What is the right thing? Is it based on moral conditioning? Your personal gain? The needs of your family? The benefit of society? (the list is in no specific order)

I'll leave that for another discussion. Go hopeless romantics, go get em. never change a thing. The world needs our idealism.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Have you ever seen a movie and related to a character so naturally that you actually looked at their flaws and said, "that's how I come off" to yourself? I had this moment while watching (500) Days of Summer recently in regards to Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL)'s character in the film. He's this hopelessly romantic male who gets so wrapped up in getting things right, he doesn't let anything take it's natural course, which of course back fires and he ends up alone (kind of, it sets him up for a nice rebound with 'Autumn') .

So anyways, the plot is good - it bounces back and forth throughout the 500 days that JGL's character knew Summer, played by the wonderful Zooey Deschanel. Essentially, we go from bad days (usually 100+) to good days, and back again. We follow the un-chronological storyline through a day ticker between scenes, as well as the background tone of the ticker, indicating if we're in for a good day or a bad day. There's really no mystery in the film, so revealing a scene's mood prior to jumping in is a nice ploy so that mood doesn't have to be established. Quite a time saver if you're making a cheap and fun indie flick.

The thing I liked most about this film was Summer, who followed in this footstep of archetypal females who aren't all about love, commitment or settling down. For some reason, these women always attract the hopeless romantics. Summer reminds me a lot of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that kind of magnetism and promise of something more, even if that's not really what she wants. It's really an interesting dynamic, these characters. I'd like to see more of them.

The film has some truly funny moments, some touching, some kind of pathetic (on the part of JGL's character, the ones that made me somewhat ashamed). In the end, it was a very enjoyable movie-going experience and what more could you ask for? I got exactly what I expected from it, maybe even a little bit more.

It's really good to see JGL back though, am I right? I never liked Third Rock From the Sun, but I always thought he was an alright actor. He's been a couple, mostly indie, flicks recently and that's good to see. I hope he has continued success because I think he's not terrible.

I'm going to find it more interesting to follow the career of Zooey, I think she's absolutely fantastic and while she's kind of niched herself as the indie comedy queen (with the exception of Elf, but still isn't exactly the start of a serious acting career). I'd be interested in seeing her explore different roles, and see how she fares.

So there you have it folks, brief wrap-up. Respond here, or on Twitter, just make sure to include 'weekendphilosophers' in your post.

Thoughts

So I was thinking about it, in my head, of why I don't update this as much as I say I will. I want this blog to succeed, but I think I'm seeking too much and I'm approaching it wrong. Let me explain - what I want are these great, somewhat random, or at least fluid conversations. However, what I'm getting - and this is just the nature of the blog format - are short essays which take longer to write and aren't exactly conversation promising, so as an additional side project, I suggest we move some thoughts to Twitter.


Just add #weekendphilosophers to the beginning of your update, or we can decide on a shorter topic if we want the space back, but then we'd have about 120 characters to put out a thought, or respond. It'll be much more fluid conversation, I think. Just a thought. I think we should still use the blog and just link to it when a new post is up on the Twitter feed. Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Without getting into the philosophy of Time Travel, which should definitely be on our to-do list, I went and saw the Time Traveler's Wife with MY wife and...I was surprised?

First, I'd like to say that Rachel McAdams is a pretty good actress, however her two most well known roles have been The Notebook and probably this...if she could grab a starring role in a solid (non-romantic) drama or comedy, she'd blow it up. Some people saw her in Red Eye, but that movie was nonsensical, she was overshadowed in Mean Girls where she played the villain, and her performance in State of Play was understated...the last one there, I actually think is a strength, since most actors always try to pull the attention to them on screen, where she's able to take the attention off of herself. Anyways, not enough praises on Rachel McAdams, but she needs to get out romances because she's going to end up pigeon-holed and then we'll never see her again.

Anyways, onto the film! I was, not really surprised, but content with the film. It was exactly what I thought it was going to be, it toyed with emotions and that was about it. I would first like to say, I have a love-hate relationship with movies that toy with me like that, for instance, Homeward Bound, the Incredible Journey - I hate it, absolutely hate it. They set it up so you think that Shadow is dead and they milk it, they drag it out, you start to see this kid realizing his dog is probably dead and then...BAM! Comes running over the hill, and the music swells, and it's the happiest moment ever. The happiest moment in a film should never, ever follow the saddest moment - especially if the saddest moment is a presumption of the worst. Don't toy with me, Disney. So anyways, in the case of the Time Traveler's Wife, about half-way through, there's a revelation that because of his time traveling condition, Eric Bana is going to die and he's going to die relatively soon. And again, they milk it for all they can. They build it up...within a year, he's going to die...within a day, he's going to die. Then he dies and it's like - so no surprises there, but the anticipation of his death has swelled so much since it was first revealed, it's almost like a relief that he's finally gone. You're toying with me.

So anyways - just a few philosophical questions that this movie raises...

The daughter (who can also time travel, but can control it), tells the daughter that her Dad is going to die. But how did the older daughter know - she clearly remembers when her Dad dies, which is understandable, but wouldn't she remember being told by her older self? And if that's the case - who knew first? Are they indeed two different beings?

Eric Bana's character meets Rachel McAdam's character when she is just a child and he's in his thirties, so that when they meet later in life - she knows him, but he doesn't know her. They even go as far as to suggest that the elder Bana travels back in time an develops a romantic relationship with underage McAdams. Ignoring the questionable ethics of wooing a minor, with the knowledge that you'll someday marry, again - what came first?

Now onto the ethical matter, is it cheating? Is sleeping with your partner, albeit your partner from another time, indeed cheating or being faithful? This is somewhat parallel to the different beings question. In my mind, I don't know future or really, past me...and either way, it's not me - it's future or past me, so he's another man. Just me?

Finally, a time space question - in the film, he randomly travels to different points in time and different places on Earth, although he usually gravitates towards the same general locations. It isn't explained in the film, and I doubt it is in the book, how these times and places are determined, only that he tends to wind up by 'big events.' Okay, I don't claim to understand how the universe (or universes) work, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. So there's this random mechanism in his genetics, which makes no sense, which manipulates HIS body to go someplace else in the time-space universe. Lucky, this place is always Earth, right?
Fact: The Earth is moving through space
Fact: Our sun, which the Earth revolves around is moving through space
Fact: Our galaxy is moving through space
I would make a guess that at no time in history, has the planet been in the same place speaking solely from a 3D plane. This concept that traveling back in time will land you in the same place as you were before is ridiculous because that place wasn't there at that time. We don't even know how fast we are moving through space, we know how fast we are moving in relation to the sun and that's pretty fast, so for all we know - someone goes back in time one minute, they could end up some unknown place of the universe if their physical location were to remain the same. Think about it. Woah.

So, to wrap it up, movie good but if you think too hard about it, concept bad. Go into the movie knowing you're being played though, make it less emotional for you. I have a bunch of tedious work to get to now. Ta.

Funny People

Sometimes at work, I have to wait for things to execute. This is when I get things like this done.

So anyways, the latest Judd Apatow film came out a while back and after a couple weekends, I was finally able to go see it. The reviews of the film were fairly mixed, especially in comparison to Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin. Peer reviews, mostly from Facebook status updates, were brutally negative. I think the major problem with the film, at least in the context of people who aren't critics, was that it was terribly misrepresented in advertising and I was only aware of the overall mood of the film by reading through the lines...this isn't a comedy, it's really more of a drama, involving people who are funny. Apatow's previous two films were comedies in the sense that the plots were extreme to comical effect, here - the plot isn't funny at all, it just happens to revolve around comedians. Let me next say that I liked this film, I liked it a lot. I say that now because most of the following is going to come off pretty negative. The film was good, I thought, despite of itself. I think most of the people who hated it probably went in with a perception of what an Apatow movie is, and didn't get it, others likely saw the film's flaws as a greater problem then myself.

I listened to an interview with Apatow shortly before the film's release and he kind of explained how the storyline came to be, how he originally wrote a movie about a dying comedian, then another romantic-comedy sort of thing involving an ex, and then a buddy film about comedians...but none of the stories really panned out, and eventually he kind of combined them into a single film. As anyone may be able to gather from that explanation, none of the stories really pan out and they don't exactly flow together well. There are three very clear acts in the story, but they seem almost irrelevant to each other. The film isn't sure who it's about - Rogen or Sandler - and it suffers from this lack of focus, like many of my posts. It's kind of a hard movie to wrap an opinion around because, while it was an enjoyable movie going experience, it didn't come right out and make that clear. You had to try to enjoy it, which is never a good thing in terms of any form of entertainment.

What did you think about it?

First Days of Spring

Sometimes, I take up a cause. Generally speaking, these causes are bands which I feel are under-appreciated or unknown. I still strongly believe that Biirdie could be a big the indie scene, they're precious and not overly innovative, but they write great songs which is kind of...you know...the whole point to music? Going out and doing something completely new is great and wonderful, but nothing can replace solid songwriting and honestly, the best instances of this great experimentation is still built on great songs. So anyways, my latest cause is Noah and the Whale. I put on a great, long review of their album, Peaceful the World Lays Me Down, somewhere on this blog. Well they are releasing their next album, The First Days of Spring in the US on October 6. The album is actually streaming now from their myspace, and I highly recommend a good listen. I'll first warn you, it's not as light and fluffy as their debut album, and what's more - this is a straight up break-up album. It's not a bummer though, it's full of hope, as their debut was. The biggest difference here is that it's much more orchestrated, likely a bigger budget, but it really shows up the songwriting (somehow, sometimes when a band gets a bigger budget, they cover up their songwriting). Anyways, check it out and...there you go.

By the way, I'm 15 posts behind, so I'm working on catching up. Well, 14 now. Here's my list...

  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig. vs. new)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something..
  • A case for slashers.
  • Violence in...
  • Sex in...
  • Violence and Sex, one in the same?
  • The Beatles
  • Online and unknown, privacy and security

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig. vs. new)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something..
  • A case for slashers.
  • Violence in...
  • Sex in...
  • Violence and Sex, one in the same?
  • The Beatles
  • Online and unknown, privacy and security
But first, a response to our newest contributor, Evan. By the way, my recent post in which I responded to "Max" was actually Evan, as I suspected but had he been under a pseudonym, I didn't want to take away that security blanket that Internet anonymity brings.

So I'm in class right now and we're supposed to be doing lab work, but I think I'll save it for this weekend because I'm quite tired and I feel like doing this. I recruited Evan very strongly, then I disappeared which was kind a of a dick move I'm pretty good at. I've been busy and preoccupied with a lot of things, but as I always promise - I'll try to be better. Key word is try, as in fail. Anyways, onto the response and maybe I can bust out a few more posts tonight yet.

I haven't spoken much of 9/11. I remember, about six months after the attack, I was on a field trip with some people from school, none of whom I would consider friends and one of them said, as a means of starting up a conversation - 'what is everyone's thoughts on 9/11?' I responded, lethargically, with no comment and I'd likely do the same today. I remember the day itself very clearly, as I know everyone who was alive at the time does. I stayed home from school that day and I woke up late, and walked out into the living room. I sat down on the couch and the TV was already on. All I saw was one of the tower's smoking badly, I thought it was a strange and morbid daytime movie or something, when all of a sudden, the second plane came in. I hadn't been sitting for more than five minutes when it happened and that's when it dawned on me - this looks like a scene from a movie, but this is real, unbelievable it seemed, but real nonetheless. Obviously, we all remember the next week of media coverage as well - the TV became a source of hope, or discouraging news, stories of heroism and stories of great loss.

Evan brought up the concept of religious motivation for the attacks and that does seem to be the principle reason for what happened. I've heard the conspiracy theories that we (America) was behind one or more of the attacks, money to gain or war to initiate. I don't know, either way you look at it - there's no rational justification for the attacks, for that amount of loss of life. In context, however, we as Americans really need to be more aware of the world around us. In our attempt to become this world power, policing the nation, we still maintain the separatist thinking that served us well between the Civil War and WWI. We think we're the best at everything, although in truth we really aren't at anything. The same goes for loss of life - while it is a great tragedy that 5000+ people, just doing their daily thing, were killed that day - the same happens all over the world, usually in greater numbers, and it gets no press coverage and nobody remembers it. In context, for America it was a great loss, but if we really strive to be this world presence, we should have the place of mind to realize that.

Jumping back to religion, I've never truly understand the blind following of the church. I was raised Methodist and at a certain point in my early teens, I decided I wanted to strengthen my faith. I began questioning things I hadn't questioned before and assumed that my church had these answers, I just had never asked. However, every question that I got answered, it raised ten more questions. Eventually, the questions started raising the questions that they had originally answered. The deeper I got into it, the less logic I saw in the whole thing. Nothing made sense at that point. I got desperate, I went out and bought a bunch of 'faith through logic' books which theoretically proved the truths in the Bible through historical evidence, but every supposed point they had seemed to prove them more wrong in my mind. Perhaps I had just gone into it already doubting the existence of God, but by the end of this I realized, there very likely isn't a God. Since then, I've realized that there's possibly a chance there is a greater power out there, but the likelihood that it is in any form related to the deities we call Gods is almost completely impossible. The biggest problem I had in this time of life when I was questioning everything is, when I questioned I was scolded. Only one religious figure (I should say quasi-religious figure, he was a preacher in training who worked at Taco Bell as he went to night school), who accepted me questioning his beliefs and actually tried to argue, with quite a bit of logical reasoning, the existence of God. It was one of the best conversations I've ever had, truthfully. Obviously, one cannot argue for the existence of God without first assuming the existence of God and vice versa. And truthfully, there is no argument either way, but the concept that questioning is wrong...how can any society be built on that? Questioning every aspect of society is how society gets improved. Questioning if the Earth is round leads to the discovery of America for the Europeans. Everything should be questioned. I'm not saying we should do away with religion as a whole, or the concept of faith or morals, but to take these to the extremes that most of these religious nut-jobs...it makes no sense, because they clearly aren't questioning anything and what's more, is they rarely question their own reasoning. They'll misinterpret, or takes things too literally, and all of a sudden they are crashing planes into buildings. Frankly, I'm not going to do anything rash in this life for anything in the afterlife, you know why? I'm guaranteed this life - I'm already here, but there is nothing promised to me in the afterlife that I know I'll get for sure.

I do accept the reasoning that there are three greater parts of the human life - body, soul and mind (as oppose to just mind and body), but the concept of the soul living on beyond the body or mind seems improbable at best. Then again, it could just be beyond our comprehension.

I've kind of lost focus now, I'm afraid, and honestly I don't know if any of that was comprehensible. I know it wasn't coherent. Anyways, respond and we'll see where we go from here - I have a lot more to say on religion, it's a great topic...and just as a disclaimer, nobody here is attacking anyone else's beliefs (and don't do so), just good conversation. Don't take anything personally. Ta.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11

Today marks the 8th anniversary of this tragic event.  My heart goes out to all those who had personal connections or loved ones lost.  A constant reminder that we are not as isolated as we wish to be.  America is still somewhat aloof to the rest of the world, but the world is much smaller than it used to be.  Of course, this tragedy wasn't merely an attack of the infidels, it was a religious statement.  In the minds our islamic brothers (humankind, not religious), they were merely carrying out the wishes of their religion.

I'm not really a fan of organized religion, so I'll say that up front.  If religion subscribes to calamities, such as 9/11 and the crusades, which hunts, etc, then I want to have no part in it.  Even the indoctrination of the entire German nation, you could argue that as a form of religion.  After all, what is religion, but a submission to doctrines derived from years of interpretation and loosely based on archaic texts.  Not to the extreme of the terrorists that attacked our country, but in a similar vein, i met students at Calvin College that blindly "believed" in their faith.  If you were to ask them why they believed in the Heidelberg Catechism or what in fact their personal stance on the divinity of Christ was, they could form no opinion.  Blindly following, without considering the consequences of you actions or beliefs, that in itself is tragic. Think people!  

The basic moral compass and a capacity to understand good and evil is inherent.  Conditioning and repetition in either direction will dictate who you become.  Routine clouds judgement.  If you have always done things a certain way without considering your initial innate inclination then you will continue on the blissful path of unknowing.  I understand that people can have chemical imbalances, which make their decision process much more difficult.  However, the ability was there at one point, it just a matter of whether or not they can retrieve the skill.  

As you may have gathered, I believe people to be fundamentally good.  It's the exposure to varying experiences both good and evil that helps hone the ability to do the right thing.  Life is way too short to harbor feelings of malcontent for our fellow brothers.  I take this from the Christian perspective, but I agree whole heartedly, love your neighbor as yourself.  If you love everyone equally, only good things can ensue.  Of course, I am a realist, there are some people that are too corrupted by their own way of thinking and you can't  reach them.  Mourn for them because they will never see how life can be lived to the fullest extent.

"Statistics are like loose women, you can do what you want with them."

  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig. vs. new)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something..
  • A case for slashers.
  • Violence in...
  • Sex in...
  • Violence and Sex, one in the same?
  • Once
I know, I'm a big Blog liar. I never update when I say I will. I was going to knock out a couple during the NFL kickoff last night, but I didn't. For some reason, I am more capable of splitting my attention between a movie, or TV show, and writing an entry versus trying to do so during a football game. This is odd because typically, in a visual story like a movie or TV show, the plot is just as important as the ending, whereas in a football game, more or less, it doesn't matter how you get there, the end result is the only thing that matters. The Titans, in many ways, won the game last night based on the 'plot' I saw, but the scoreboard says differently and that makes all the difference, doesn't it. This bodes poorly for me who also intends on doing homework during football on Sundays. We'll see if I can split my attention better in the future.

We did have a comment on my most previous post regarding Pandora, to which I will respond directly, "Max" said,
I have been aware of Pandora for about the past year. I hadn't participated until recently and I must say good work AI research people. Of course, it's not a perfect system. I don't think it's possible to create such a system that uses logic and cross references to calculate personal taste. Currently, I am inclined to say I don't like DMB, only because it plays him every other song. True AI, as seen in "I Robot" is a long way off. Perhaps over time, Pandora can assimilate a close relative, but to be a cognitive entity that learns and understands a person fully is the not yet attained dream.
I had a Pandora profile for the longest time but rarely used it because, like you're facing now, it wasn't very accurate. My flash drive, which contained all the mp3s for my laptop died, so I was forced to come up with a music solution for my long work days, so I rediscovered Pandora. First and foremost, it requires patience and rate your songs as often as possible. If you give the same artist two thumbs down on a given radio station, that artist will be banned from that station (assuming they aren't listed as one of the artist nodes). Also, create lot's of radio stations. I have 22 radio stations and more often than not, listen to 20 of them on QuickMix (two of them are very specific moods, in which I am rarely). I have a radio station with my top songs, I have another with my top ten artists, then I kind of veer off into more genre based music. I found that having a radio station only associated with the Beach Boys plays a lot of lightweight pop from the 60s (Jackson 5, Frankie Valli, etc...), however adding any of these specific artists skew the variety, the Beach Boys are the perfect middle of the road band for this. I try not to double up any of my artists, but I have things like 'Rap' (Atmosphere, Jean Grae, The Streets) and 'Pop Rap' (Eminem, Kanye West, OutKast). I try my best not to choose two similar artists (I wouldn't include Dizzee Rascal on my rap station, he's too similar to the Streets).

Here's my profile - http://www.pandora.com/people/nathan.driftwoodprose - where you can see all of my radio stations, songs I've thumbed up and down, etc... I bookmark songs I really like, so I can add them to my "Wanted Media" list, which is a Google Doc where I track CDs I want...I send it out to family members around the holidays in hopes I get CDs for Christmas...I never do. As anyone can see, I have very eclectic tastes, but I think I did a pretty good job as far as variety on my QuickMix goes.

As for the AI, no - it's not perfect and I like the approach, attempting to break down a song into specific elements and finding tastes accordingly, it is going to be inaccurate. For me, I generally like most music, so I'm probably an easy customer to please. There's also a memory aspect that Pandora can't account for, if I can't listen to Pearl Jam because of a terrible memory from my childhood, there's no accounting for that if I build a radio station with Nirvana, Soundgarden and Sonic Youth. Honestly, I'd probably be disappointed if I didn't heard Pearl Jam almost immediately. So you're right, there's no accounting for taste, really and while this computer tries it's best, it'll always play something God awful that you just have to thumb down.

Nathan out, hopefully some posts this weekend (watching Once tonight, maybe some posts during the movie). Ta.

Monday, September 7, 2009

3/15

  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig. vs. new)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something..
  • A case for slashers.
Pandora, if you don't know, is an internet service that builds radio stations based on song or artist selections, built on the findings of the music genome project which basically, finds the common threads in music and attempts to determine trends and qualities on this information. I use it daily at work and usually at home or in the car, on my cell phone as well. It's great. I have about ten or fifteen radio stations programmed in, three to five artists each ranging many different genres, and then put it on quickmix, which matches my own personal musical library almost entirely, just with more variety which is what I'm all about. Since I've been using Pandora regularly (I've had an account for years...), I've discovered about ten bands that I plan on checking out on my own later. I'm really interested in the music genome project which looks at the individual quality of songs, like vocal melodies, use of acoustic instrumentation and complex time changes, among a bunch of others. There's a list of qualities on wikipedia, although in my listening, I've seen others come up as well. It's amazingly deep and informational in regards to what makes the music you listen to and like, unique to your ears. You can program it as well, by telling it what you like and what you don't like, building a virtual playlist of songs with the qualities you like. What's more, you can look for these qualities in other songs and it really makes you listen more to music as a whole, a deeper understanding of it helps in the listening to and creating of...new. Really, it's great stuff. Check it out.

2/15

  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig. vs. new)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something...
Boy, Universal Health Care sure is rising a hub-bub, isn't it? The facts are - America has the lowest lifespan of modern countries, the lowest lifespan of people over 65 (that is, shortest life after the age of 65 for people who make it that far). Part of it is the unhealthy we, as Americans, live and part of it is our health system's inability to care for everyone. Yes, someone has to front the bill and yes, I've - in the past - complained about government involvement where the private sector is usually more efficient, but here is an exception to that rule. The health system is currently built on a by-job policy, that is to say, for every test a doctor runs, that doctor gets paid regardless of whether that test is needed or not. In addition, there is no distinction for quality control, a job is a job, regardless of results. There is malpractice insurance, but this just rises the cost of health care for the rest of us. The insurance industry is rife with crooks who don't even hide the scams they are pulling and the current system of insurance through your employer leaves very little options for the every day consumer. I don't know if universal health care if the answer, but our current system is broken and I for one am glad we are at least looking at other country's approach to taking care of it's citizens. Obama promised change when he ran for president and thus far, it's been a lot of the same, but this is the first sign of true change coming to Washington and how this nation is run, so I'm happy for it. We'll see if he can get it done.

1/15

  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig.)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something..
It seems rather daunting, thinking about posting 15 straight posts, but I want to get them out there either way, so I'll do my best tonight. Forgive me now if I seem to rush through some of the topics, but if any of them catch as a conversation starter, we can always go back to them, can't we?

So the Fiery Furnaces...man, what a concept. In a few months, as I believe I mentioned in my previous post regarding their latest album, I'm Going Away, they are re-releasing the album...twice...with the two permanent members taking control of six tracks each on each version as oppose to collaborating, giving the songs new life in a different personality. This is an interesting approach to music, and really, any kind of art to see any piece to be an unfinished work...a building is called a building and not a built because it's in progress, it adapts to those who need it. Music adapts to the listener and over time, a music's message can change - this is true for the band too. Constantly evolving is one of the things I love about this band.

They also recently announced that they will release a 'silent record' which will, in fact, be sheet music. They will then tour and watch the fans play the album. What better way to prove my previous point that this is a band for evolution!

They came out around the time of the White Stripes' big break and were regularly grouped with them for some common threads...the whole brother/sister thing (although these are a real brother/sister combo), the blues-rock roots, the garage sound...it was big at the time. That was as they released Gallowbird's Bark, a brilliant piece of two minute rockers which merely hinted at the future. Songs like "Inca Rag/Name Game" and the final three songs.

Which brings me to the bomb that was Blueberry Boat. The first track is ten minutes, sprawling several different styles and genres, a couple of lines in a gibberish language. The album clocked in just shy of the eighty minute limit and it's a masterpiece. It's intimidating just to try to write about it, so I'll just put it out - listen and be blown away. Prepare to listen a couple of times though, because it isn't something that you'll get right away.

Then they released EP, a collection of singles to compliment the long format of most of the songs on Blueberry Boat, three minute pop hooks that really show off the band's knack for songwriting. It stayed with the theme though, of quirky and witty lyrics mixed with a wide range of sounds and genres making for an unique listening experience. This is the only album they've put out that isn't an album listen, as in, best when listened to together in a single sitting.

Next came Rehearsing My Choir, the mostly definitively split album to date, recorded with their grandmother of all people, it is the retelling of a life filled with love, heartbreak and a lot of youthful exuberance. It makes use of heavy classical orchestration, but with modern instrumentation (mostly keyboards and synths), as the story jumps and weaves from time period to time period, story to story. The best elements of the album come in the subtle musical clues, namely the use of several melodies, mostly prominently the 'memory melody' indicating that the narrator, whether it be Olga (the grandmother) or Eleanor (the younger version), is remembering something.

They followed that with it's companion piece, Bitter Tea, a more pop oriented album which looked wide-eyed and innocently towards the future. It was supposed to be the youthful look at life, love and adventure to give the opposite perspective from that on Rehearsing My Choir. The extensive use of backwards lyrics as counter melodies, complex keyboard parts put off some listeners, but the return of the pop hook returned to the FF domain as they produced some of their most immediate songs to date, not to mention my personal favorite (and in my top 80 minutes, "Benton Harbor Blues").

Next came Widow City, a dark and clearly Led Zeppelin-esque album with no real theme or direction. This wasn't a misstep for the band by any means, as a matter of fact, it was probably their most straight forward album to date. It featured long instrumental songs, or at least, songs built on few lyrics with long and complex musical bridges. This is when the band's musical technique came to the forefront and they began experimenting with the talents they had just with their fingers and guitars, or keyboards, or synths. It's a very loud record with few pop hooks but tons of great riffs.

Finally they released Remember last year which is a live album, of sort, although it's probably the least live, live album ever. Piece together from parts of a nationwide concert, it was then edited. It's the most overwhelming thing they've ever done, just in terms of pure soundscape variety.

Then came the aforementioned I'm Going Away which I already reviewed for you in my previous post. Expect full reviews when I get to them in my album reviews...eventually.

How many more can I do tonight? I don't think 14... We'll see. Later.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Checking in...expect to hear a lot from me

  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • Album Reviews
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
  • Black Christmas (the orig. vs. new)
  • Unbreakable
  • The Hazards of Love
  • Disney Factory
  • The State of Horror
  • I want to do something...
After this post, I will be officially 15 posts behind...there are 15 true topics up there. I am going to try to do them all before Tuesday, which is where I am for the football blog. We'll see if I make the most of the holiday weekend, no?

Nathan out - ta.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The End is Near

My arm hurts.
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • Album Reviews
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • Generational Gaps
The Fiery Furnaces new album, I'm Going Away, their seventh studio release since 2003 (eighth overall, live release last year) and it is strictly an album for fans. That's not to say that the songs aren't good, or intriguing, or engaging, it's just they are done in such a style that if you aren't a Furnaces fan already based on all of their previous work, then you won't understand the qualities that you're supposed to be identifying. I'll explain this more tomorrow, as with my love for FF, but there is a subtlety to the album that only becomes apparent when listening in context to who the band is and how they normally function. In many ways, this album retreads previously wandered paths by FF, particularly on "I'm Going Away", the opening track, which would have fit nicely on their debut album, Gallowsbird's Bark. It's jaunty piano part and running beat measures are very similar in structure to songs like "I'm Gonna Run."

There is also a strong 70s influence on the album, not unlike that on their latest album, Widow City, but instead of characterizing bands like Led Zeppelin, they take a more soft rock approach which results in their most bland, pop sounding effort to date. Again, that's not saying that the album is boring or insignificant, because it is - but it forces you to listen closely to follow the drama building in each musical composition. That being said, if you let it fade into the background, it can comeback in a hurry. On "Drive to Dallas", an anti-love song of sorts, there are spastic "guitar solos" releasing the built up emotion in the lyrics that would wake up anybody trying to sleep on the slow moving, almost elevator style music that drives the song.

"The End is Near" is just about as traditional a song as FF have ever done. A piano part reminiscent of the best of the seventies' piano pop (think Burt Bacharach), pleasant phrasing on the lyrics (about the apocalypse, but they can't get too predicable). There's a sweeping guitar solo, but overall - it's the most radio friendly and pleasant song they've done. If you're not a FF fan, but would like to hear something off the album, start here.

There is a two-part song, naturally. FF have, in the past (mostly on Rehearsing My Choir), played with the concept of melodies as a running theme through an album (like lyrics on prog albums) with much success. Here, "Charmaine Champagne" and "Cups and Punches" share so much, they might as well be twins. The difference is the disjointed guitar solo on CC and the wailing outro on C and P. It's a fun song with lot's of jazzy 'ba-ba-baba', but overall, I feel they are both misses in some respect.

"Cut the Cake" is a fun little song, vague lyrics and a few simple time changes, which is a FF calling card. Wonderful use of counter-melody on the big mood shift as well. Good phrasing on the repeated refrain as well, as the expressed emotion is allowed to peak out where it's not obvious from the actual words.

It's worth noting that Eleanor wrote most of the lyrics for this album, where as Matthew has taken most song writing duties for the previous five albums. This is likely why there is such a close resemblance in mood to Gallowsbird's Bark, which she also had primary song writing duties.

"Even in the Rain" is the pop song, without a doubt. Overall, the album makes up the most pop appeal of any FF album, the previous holder was likely EP or Bitter Tea, although Bitter Tea's excessive use of backwards vocals pushed some people away, despite the strongest pure songs from the band being there. The return of the piano on I'm Going Away is a nice return to form after Widow City being so guitar heavy, and when they pull the guitar out of the closet, it sounds much stronger than when they use it as their primary melody.

"Starring at the Steeple" is a quasi-political-religious song that could easily rub many people the wrong way, but it's thudding bass line and great drum part in the chorus really make it a pounding anthem when it could have fallen apart, but is really held together by the musicianship in the room. It's also an exhausting song, exemplified by Eleanor's 'penny by penny by penny by...penny' line. It's really a great song about being lost in life, but still moving forward even though you don't know where you're going...at least, that's what I think it's about. I could be way off, that's for sure.

"Ray Bouvier", unfortunately, is a pleasant enough song but rather forgettable. It's possible I haven't listened closely enough to find the nuisances that really bring out the song's character, but it just doesn't interest me at this time.

"Keep Me in the Dark" is probably my favorite song on the album, with fun handclaps (also found on "Even in the Rain"). Fun lyrics, a great guitar piece. It's just a great FF song, all around. Same with "Lost At Sea" (another song about not knowing yourself), although no handclaps on this one.

The album closes with the aforementioned "Cups and Punches" which is a bit more engaging than it's earlier counterpart, seems to have more emotion in it although most FF songs are stylistically cold by construct. Finally, "Take Me Round Again" - built similarly in structure to "Philadelphia Grand Jury" or "Clear Signal From Cairo" from Widow City, but instead of a menacing, mostly instrumental setting pieces, it's a glorious whirlwind tour of New York City in musical form. The lyrics never change, a repeating chorus throughout, but the backdrop is a constantly evolving world and the phrasing, timing and tonality of the lines sung change with each passing iteration, further deepening the spirit of the song which is basically, let's go again. One FF quality that can't be denied is that they always put a great closer on that ties together the album and really encourages another listen. Of course, anyone serious about listening to the FF better prepare to listen to the album straight through three or four times, to even just get the lines of the picture drawn, then you can worry about coloring in the lines upon future listens. Of course, FF probably wouldn't encourage coloring inside the lines. Bottom line - like all FF albums, it's a lot of work, but a very rewarding listen. It's even more rewarding if you're already a fan, so you know what you're looking for.

Highlights - "Keep Me In The Dark" "Lost At Sea" "Take Me Round Again"

NOTE: the band has already announced that they will be re-releasing the album, twice. The first re-release will have 6 songs as done exclusively by Matt and the other 6 by Eleanor, then vice versa, further exemplifying how FF believe that a song is as much a living thing, evolving and growing up, as we are as people. Think about it. Woah.

Nathan out - ta.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Living in a den of theives"

  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • Album Reviews
  • The constructs of family (continued)
I know the schedule changed, I bumped constructs of family back to the bottom, because right now I just don't have anything of value to add to it right now. Also, 'album reviews' will kind of be a crutch to land on if I don't feel like posting a day's given topic, or if I'm out of topics for any reason. Although, it will require a little planning ahead in that I'll have to have that CD loaded onto the laptop for listening in the morning so I can at least give you an educated review, not just make it up from memory. Today, however, we are going to review an album that I just got (like two weeks ago, but that's neither here nor there).

Anyways, the Dead Weather's Horehound.

For those of you who don't know, the Dead Weather is made up of Alison Mosshart (the Kills), Jack White (you know, THAT Jack White), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, Raconteurs), Jack Lawrence (Greenhornes, Raconteurs). Based on that line-up, I'm sure you can kind of hear the band in your mind, at least somewhat. The main influences come from blues rock (Jack White, your Led Zeppelin is showing) and some jazz fusion, particularly in the guitar work. There are two things that really stand out, the first is Jack White's drumming (oh yeah...he's the drummer). In most bands, the drummer is faded to the background from the studio, but really pull together a live show...on Horehound, they really let the drumming carry most of the songs, while everything else seemingly falls apart. The second thing is Alison Mosshart's voice. Anyone who has listened to the Kills know she has a strong voice, but here she takes it to another level entirely. If you've heard "Cat Claw" from the Kills' first album, you would recognize it instantly. If you've seen the Kills live (highly recommended it), you'll know it too. She brings an instantly sense of intensity and sexual tension to the stage, particularly on the duets where she subdues her sultry voice to a breathy, but forceful tone. Even on the songs with Jack White singing as well, who has a very unique voice all his own, all the attention falls on Mosshart and her amazing charisma.

The album opens with "60 Feet Tall", a slow builder not unlike The Kills' "Superstition" but the explosions are much stronger and tension much higher. Many of the songs, actually, are reminiscent of the Kills and almost make you wish that she didn't restrain herself so much for the Kills' material. Part of the Kills' appeal though, I think, is that you can sense that restraint on every song which gives that edge. Here, however, she lets it out and it carries just about every song.

The second song, "Hang You From the Heavens" is the clear single from the collection. What really is amazing about this album is how natural it feels. The band got together and wrote and recorded the whole thing in a matter of weeks, but it plays like an album that's as time tested as some of the best hard rock albums of the 70s. On this song, in particular, we get a strong sense of song structure and song writing ability rarely seen on the music scene these days. The start and stop of the guitars, the frustrated lyrics (it's kind of a twisted love song, in some ways), it all plays like something we've heard before, but shown in a new light.

"Cut Like a Buffalo" is a solid Jack White number, very rhythmic and fun. "So Far From Your Weapon" (Mosshart's sole individual contribution to the album) is a slow moving blues number, decent but a bit too restrained against its neighbors.

"Treat Me Like Your Mother" is by far the best song on the album. Actually, it's more like three songs with each verse, chorus and refrain clearly separated with tempo and key changes galore! It's a vicious assault on your ears and mind, just trying to keep up with everything going on. It's essentially a call and response for Mosshart and White. When they break it down from "M-A-N-I-P-U-LATE" to "Am I too late?" which goes into one of the best pure guitar solos of the past year...it just makes your head spin.

"Rocking Horse" is a decent song, nothing to get excited about.

Jack White lets his Dylan show a little too on the ruckus "New Pony." It accomplishes what all covers should accomplish, which is make you want to go listen to the original and compare. The Dead Weather clearly bring a lot more energy to the affair (no pun intended, but the song is about having an affair) and Mosshart's voice probably shines more here than anywhere else on the record. The steady drumming and "how much longer" chants that make up the backbone of the song make for a great rock out experience.

"Bone House" is where the band starts to let out some of it's more primal sound without losing too much of the energy that they've built up to this point. "3 Birds" is a pleasant instrumental showing off the band's musicianship (as if there was any doubt). "No Hassle Night" is another one of those songs that they drift into the background versus the amazing collection surrounding it, but on any other bands' album it might just be the highlight. It speaks volumes to the talent in the room on this one where the subpar songs are still so good.

The album closes with the six minute "Will There Be Enough Water" which is just about as true to form as you can get for a blues song. The song wouldn't be out of place at some dirty southern bar in the 1930s by a blind guitarist. It's full of all the depression and hopelessness as the best of the genre. It's quiet and subdued, simple yet intriguing.

This is a very good album and I strongly recommend it. Highlights - "Treat Me Like Your Mother" "New Pony" "Will There Be Enough Water?"

Nathan out - ta.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"I have a skinny vagina" "Maybe you should feed it some carbs."

I know, I've been absent. I'll be back soon. A huge piece of my time will be in the past come Wednesday, promise. In the meantime, a thought...

CunninLynguists is pretty funny, as far as rap names go, no? I dare say it actually confirms itself. Thoughts?

  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • Album Reviews (more on this later), but this is a multi-post concept, not a post in itself, although I'll probably have an introductory concept post just to introduce you to the idea.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michael Vick

  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • The Death of Paper
Good news: I'm done with my school project so I should have more time outside of work to post and catch up. I'm currently seven posts behind which is no good. We'll see how this weekend goes, maybe I'll bust through some of those.

I am going to talk about Michael Vick though. So as we all know, he was heavily involved with a dog fighting ring and participated in killing dogs who didn't fight well. This is such a heinous, evil crime...it's barely a felony in the US, or at least in Virginia. He spent two years in jail because the ring existed in many states, so it was conspiracy across state lines. So now he was reinstated back into the NFL and after serving a conditional additional suspension, will be allowed to play in the NFL again. Since this first announcement, which was met with some angry cries from dog lovers, etc...he was signed by the Eagles. This created an outrage, particularly in the city of Philadelphia and here's where I'm going to surprise you.

I'm glad he's back. What he did was so terrible, so awful that I can't even imagine doing it myself, it's not in my mind to be even capable of it. That being said, as part of his upbringing, it was actually a usual occurrence for him and that's an even bigger problem. Michael Vick is now working with the Humane Society to help combat inner city dog fighting and it's going to help the cause that he's back in the NFL and on a team. What would have a bigger impact, speaking at schools or to the inner city groups where this would be most prominent - having Michael Vick come in and tell you it's wrong? You're just going to say to yourself...he has to do this, because he got caught. Or, would it be a stronger message to say Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles, or Michael Vick and the NFL are working towards stamping out animal cruelty? He's been made an example of, so now it's time to step forward with him and say - this is wrong. The message is stronger when it's not just the guilty party telling you it's wrong.

The biggest thing about Vick is that three years ago, he was one of the faces of the NFL. You had Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Michael Vick. Then this came out and it reflects terribly on the NFL, which is an entertainment first so image is everything. They quickly tried to push him away from the league as fast as possible, but the damage was done. By bringing him back in, yes - initially - it hurts the image of the league, but over time this may prove to be a great move as it will strengthen the ties of the NFL and the many charities they work with, saying...we messed up, we enabled this guy, and he's working to fix it as are we. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe this is the beginning of the end of the reign of the NFL as America's premiere sport, but I hope not because I love the game. I don't know how Vick will do on the field, frankly I don't care, it's more important that he's able to stay in the spotlight as a football player and then be an animal activist on the side.

Your thoughts?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Power of Cooking

  • The Power of Cooking
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • The Death of Paper
So I heard an interesting thing the other day when I was listening to a NPR podcast...the significant event in the evolution of the human mind, going from relatively unintelligent primates, to intelligent societal beings likely wasn't the discovery of fire, but rather, the discovery of cooking. Apparently, a lot of anthropologists think that because cooking unlocks most of the nutrients in foods, all of a sudden, we as a species were able to eat three square meals a day as oppose to eating sixteen hours a day like most modern primates do in the wild. Think about it, that's huge. In order to get the nutrients we need to survive, we were eating sixteen hours a day and then that went down to three at the most. That would give us thirteen extra hours a day to build shelters, form a language, create tools, etc...that's huge!

And think about cooking in the context of just our society. It plays a huge role in culture, it's now entertainment, it's everywhere we go. But then from that...it's also a fading art form. Eating out is cheaper (generally) and easier than cooking at home, time is too valuable to spend all day slaving in the kitchen. What's there to do though? How can we rescue cooking? Is it worth saving?

The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news

  • The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
The world, it's a changing and changing quickly. Newspapers are folding nationwide at an almost intimidating rate. We have a ridiculous amount of dedicated news stations, all of which tend to sell style over substance when it comes to reporting. Then we have the Internet with it's streams and streams of information. It's really no wonder newspaper's can't compete, they aren't timely (only updated once a day?), we have to be home or at least in town to get them and frankly, it's kind of lame to have to turn the pages yourself, right? So now we have blogs and we have twitter, allowing 'journalists' to update anyone who cares to follow along with the play-by-play of any significant news event. It's all based around the now...getting everything out as quickly as possible, which leads us to question the research being put into the news. There is very little accountability in the now first reporting of the modern era.

Then we have the growth of the podcast. At first, I thought to myself - why would I listen to a podcast? I don't listen to talk radio, why would I download talk radio to listen to? Then I realized, I don't listen to talk radio because they don't talk about anything I want to listen to. With podcasts, I can listen to what I want, when I want. Driving with podcasts are a lot more engaging than music as well. Sure, with music, you can sing along and get into it, however...sometimes you just can't, or your exhausted from a long day at work and you just want to listen quietly to something that will stimulate your brain. That's what a podcast offers, it gives you something to think about while driving without forcing you to interact. I love podcasts now and often find myself with more than I have time to listen to in a given day.

This brings me to my next point - I think we can all agree that podcasts and blogs and twitter have officially changed the way we get our news and information, but is it a good thing? Is it good that we can focus our incoming information on the world around us to only what we like? Is it good that we choose to filter out all other facets of the world around us? Then again, haven't we been doing that for years anyways? Haven't the folks on the right been watching Fox News and pounding their Bibles while the left listens to NPR and scoff at the close-minded folks on the other side? We've always leaned towards the bias that agrees most with us, it validates our own opinions and makes us right...even if it just an opinion. Can you really be open-minded or intelligent if you shut out all other opinions? I mostly listen to sport talk, so the opinions are of little actual value in society, but I am trying to dig deeper into the current world and get more angles, but is it worth the trouble? The time? And how is this filter going to alter world views in the future? How are we going to get the news in the future?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Heroes and Villians (some even of the 'super' nature)

  • Heroes and Villians (some even of the 'super' nature)
  • The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • The Death of Paper
Let's say, for the purposes of argument, that you decided to be an evil super villain? Okay, so you have no super powers, that's okay...you don't need them. Most super powers only come in handy when fighting your nemesis, who also has super powers. None of my nemeses, nor do I suspect yours, have any either. So we're all on a level playing field. So stepping forward, what is your overall goal of being an evil villain? The most common goal is to take over the world...but why? Seems like a terrible hassle with very little payoff, not to mention - all of a sudden, all of everyone's problems are your fault. Who wants that? Yes, you could run the world you see fit, but can you imagine the cost of operation? People won't willingly follow rules, even if those rules are essentially freedom, in a live and let live context, thus enforcement would be a ridiculous cost on your world takeover. Then you have security as an issue...if one person has centralized power, that is a pretty target on your back. So lately, the super villains of our modern fictions have focused on holding the world for ransom in order to get extravagant amounts of money. Seems to me, that puts an even larger target on your back, not to mention the possibility that they'll call your bluff. Plain and simple, you destroy the world, you die too...so there's really nothing to be gained. Even for someone who has nothing to live for, it's a big build up for no payoff. Staying on track with the money theme however, why not just run an evil corporation? Corporations are already perceived, at least for the most part, as evil - so why not roll with it? Just do evil things, because odds are - people will still buy buy buy! I suppose the greatest instance of true villain in the past century was Hitler, but again...went for world domination and there's no way that was a cost effective en devour, even if he had somehow succeeded. Because then it's not just a matter of taking everything over, but continuing enforcement of policies...news flash - resistance is painfully persistent.

On a similar note, without a true super hero available, who would stop an evil corporation or villain, if one were to rise to prominence? I would like a super secret headquarters with nameless henchmen and I bet no one would ever bother me just on principle. What would be gained from stopping me? I suppose it depends on the evil things I'm up to, but I'm not killing people or blowing stuff up or threatening the world (or moon), so what harm could I really be doing? Something to think about...being a villain, but it seems like a lot of hard work without much payout afterwards.

What defines art..

  • What defines art..
  • Heroes and Villians (some even of the 'super' nature)
  • The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • The Death of Paper
I know, I know - I've gone missing, like usual. Things are getting busy all over the place, but should slow down in a week or two. I hope. In the meantime, I'll try to do two posts a day to catch up, but no promises.

So today's topic is art - as in, what is? I'm obviously speaking to the all encompassing concept of art, not just pretty paintings and sculptures. Literal art, in many ways, is a dying form. Photography was on the rise a few years ago, but is likely going the way of the newspaper all too quickly. So where is our creative center moving to as a society? I think it wouldn't be far-fetched to say that television and movies are a form of art, but rarely live up to the expectations given by that name. Truth be told, they are little more than empty forms of entertainment most of the time. Probably about 80% of music maintains the creative ethos, but 80% of people listen to the other 20%, give or take. We have literature, another dying art form, which has it's superstars (Rowling, Meyers - although I'd argue her cred, I can't agrue her celebrity), but more often than not we fall back on the classics (Tolkien, Lewis). We have the Internet, which gives birth to youtube stars, but how far can that really take somebody? You can run a popular blog (like myself!) but the limitations are still present as to how far you can take your art. There's the occasionally far out college student who presents something newsworthy (the Yale student who repeatedly got pregnant in order to have abortions story, making the public reaction her true art piece) are passing fades.

So what is art now? What worth does it have off of college campuses? Are we moving into a society that values entertainment over artistic value (are we already there?) Is there any way back and is there any value in going back? Art has always been a way to capture society's undertones, but how do we save it?

Potential of the horror genre in a TV environment

  • Potential of the horror genre in a TV environment
  • What defines art..
  • Heroes and Villians (some even of the 'super' nature)
  • The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
As recently discussed, I was at least an intrigued follower of CBS's horror/suspense experiment "Harper's Island." Clearly influenced, at least on the TV side, by "Murder, She Wrote" and the other early murder mystery shows, but it took on a promising twist. It was also strongly influenced by Agathie Christie writing and horror movie visualizations. I've already discussed many of the shows strengths and weaknesses and I could probably go on and on about it, but I'd really like to take a step back and look at the bigger picture...how much should we reasonably expect from a television show attempting to emulate a horror movie, but also trying to tap into the mystery/thriller storyline?

There are a few very obvious limitations on the first part - namely, a horror movie is almost always rated R for extreme violence (or it probably sucks, let's be honest). On television, short of HBO or Showtime, you're very limited as to what you can get away with because of the FCC. I'm not saying we should get rid of the FCC and show whatever we want, but it greatly weakens any good murder scene. That being said, in the hands of a capable director, these murder scenes can actually be heightened by not showing anything...old school Hitchcock and the like. The key, however, is stronger characterization which...for some reason...Hollywood just seems unable to create as of late. None of the characters in Harper's Island, with the exception of Sully and Danny, truly became 'people' by the end. Harper's Island suffered terribly from falling ratings throughout the season...so CBS did a decent job of creating buzz, but the show failed to keep people interested. I blame this mostly on the habit of killing someone in the final minutes of the episode - I get it, they want people to see that and want to watch next week so they can get answers, but you know you aren't going to get answers because they have to maintain the mystery for 13 episodes! I think I better format would be to follow what CSI did with the 'Miniature Killer' - in that we find a body and try to follow the leads from that, and then find another body...follow the trail until the end, and the deeper you go, the more dangerous it becomes. This sets up a character for the audience to relate to (the detective, but it doesn't have to be a police related show). In Harper's Island, we were supposed to relate to Abby Mills, the protagonist and center of the killings (revealed at the end), but we felt nothing for her because my mother wasn't brutally murdered seven years ago and I didn't immediately move to LA and not return home until now. How is that a relatable backstory? And then they didn't even flush out the backstory! They showed clips when it was convenient, thus the story had a very...make it up as we go...feel to it. Not exactly the kind of mood you want to set when trying to develop intrigue. Have these writers never read a mystery before?

I think TV offers many options to give a deep, deep horror movie like experience, but it has to play to it's strengths. A horror movie can only last at most, two hours, because people get sick of sitting through constant killings in a single sitting...however, with a TV series, you have (in the case of Harper's Island), about 8 hours to work through, so you can take your time establishing characters, settings, moods and motives (all of which were rushed together for 'spectacular murders' in Harper's Island). Downplay the death scene, play up the actual deaths and how they matter to the characters. I'm really tempted to write a letter to CBS, I'm afraid they are going to bail on the idea and miss-out on an opportunity to do something really unique and enveloping.

We'll see. Nathan out - ta.

www.crime.org

  • How we perceive crime...
  • Potential of the horror genre in a TV environment
  • What defines art..
  • Heroes and Villians (some even of the 'super' nature)
  • The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
I know what you guys are thinking...here's Nathan welshing on his word again, but I assure you - I'm here and I'm going to continue to try to be here. Things are busy at work, busy at school and busy at home. In other words, I'm busy. I have four posts semi-prepared (just have to write them...d'oh!). I will try to do as much as I can today and tomorrow.

Some of you may note (and kudos to those of you who do), that my subject line is a great quote from the Simpsons in regards to the Springfield mafia's website...obviously a play on organized crime (crime.org, get it?). It would be not be ridiculous to assume where this post, on crime in today's modern society and how we perceive it, would focus on mob type romanticism.

I begin with - does the mob still exist? Does it exist in the way that it once did? And how has the mafia evolved to include things like social networking or even the Internet as a whole. The same would go for gang related activity, which we obviously know exist on a much larger scale. The concept of the mob intrigues me because of the inherited secrecy involved and the lack of privacy that comes with the Internet as a whole. Now every "legitimate business" has benefited greatly from the growth of the Internet, from faster communication to a more global network, so is it really far-fetched to assume that the mafia hasn't also utilized these new technologies in order to increase revenue. It also isn't far-fetched to assume that these advances has compromised the mafia's level of secrecy and thus, compromised the mafia as a whole. We already know terrorist organizations utilize the Internet with great success and I suppose, they benefit most from the grand size of the Internet. So is the mafia online and they are just using carefully coded keywords to avoid being found via Google? Sometimes I wish I were a journalist because I'm far too curious not to want to know.

On a similar note, how has crime changed in our minds? Obviously the laws are the same, but how has how we think about them changed? Is shoplifting okay? Or downloading movies, music or software? It's all stealing, but somehow we justify to ourselves that what we do, or what others do, is okay for one reason or another. This raises the question of property, rights, etc...but I suppose the argument would be stealing is stealing in the eyes of the law, no? The Internet has greatly increased our ability to commit crimes, outside of just downloading music, but also stealing identities. Because of the Internet's security flaws, which are unavoidable regardless of your browser or OS protection services, etc...by using the Internet with private data, you are - at least on some level - putting your information out there to be stolen. As we grow more and more comfortable with the Internet's security and trust it more, which I'm not saying we shouldn't - I have full faith that my information is safe, however I'm aware there's a chance it's not - but we're growing more and more comfortable putting things out there that three years ago, we would have been reluctant to give out over the phone. Is it possible to rationally control this kind of illegal activity that takes place online or is it a lost cause? Is there much to gain from controlling it? We live in a quickly changing world thanks to the Internet and, unfortunately, crime is always five steps ahead of law enforcement when it comes to technology.

I got sidetracked on the cyber-track. Where I was heading was - do we look lighter upon shoplifting now that we are almost always stealing from a faceless corporation than we would have fifty years ago when it would have been a proprietor that suffered our thievery? I'm almost positive it's more common these days than it was even five years ago, but the economy is probably a large contributing factor in that. What other 'crimes' have really lost their edge and now generally accepted as a fact of life? Is this a good or bad thing that we are becoming more lenient, at least in thought, about certain crimes?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"My fathers and brothers raped your sisters and mothers"

  • "Mama, I'm Satan'
  • How we perceive crime...
  • Potential of the horror genre in a TV environment
  • What defines art..
  • Heroes and Villians (some even of the 'super' nature)
  • The New Media (Twitter, podcasts, etc...) and the future of how we get the news
  • Michael Vick
  • The constructs of family (continued)
  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
Cursive - Mama, I'm Satan
You're gonna do what I say
And say what I say
You stretch your peacock feathers
You're always on display
Don't act so God damned conflicted
You wouldn't have it any other way

You're gonna write down these words
And pass them along
You're gonna fill your book
With your rights and wrongs
You're going to tell your lurid world
The true intentions of these songs

I'm writing out a confession
Every record I've written has left me smitten
A career in masturbation
All in all we're pawns
The ego of mankind stirs in us all

You wanna wipe that slate
And start all over again
You wanna hide your face
In shame of what your grandpappy did
Pretty soon here we'll all be grandfathers
And our offspring will sing the same shit

The world was built on ego
It was built on slaves
The world was built on a tickle
Between our legs
Come on you big strong man
You wouldn't have it any other way

I'm writing out a confession
My fathers and brothers
Raped your sisters and mothers
We are the sons of butchers
All in all we're pawns
The darkness of mankind stirs in us all

I cast you out
I cast you out
I cast you out
I cast you out
I cast you out
I cast you out
I cast you out
I cast you out

I'll drag you out
I'll drive you out
I'll drug you out
I'll tear you out
I'll cut you out
I'll kick you out
I'll push you out
I'll pull you out
I cast you out
I'll curse you out
I'll shut you out
I'll shit you out
I'll clean you out
Grab a rope and hang you out to dry
Now I'll damn you out
I cast you out
I'll shove you out
I'm stayin'
All in all we're pawns
The darkness of mankind stirs in us all

So a few months ago, a band I listen to quite often, Cursive released the album Mama, I'm Swollen. Now, a quick Cursive history lesson. Around 2001 they release Domestica, which was literally a walk-through the painful divorce of primary songwriter and lead singer, Tim Kasher. In 2003 they released The Ugly Organ, which was a brilliant record containing some beautiful cello throughout what is mostly a hard rock album. The Ugly Organ is all about sex, and the empty meaningless relationships that we fill ourselves with after a serious relationship ending. Basically, it's the rebound record. In 2006 it was Happy Hallow which is about God, or his absence, throughout a quintessential Bible belt small town and the sins of all of it's highest ranking citizens (you have one gay minister, another who sleeps with minors, a gigolo, etc...) Multiple songs openly question God's existence ("Rise Up, Rise Up" and "Big Bang" in particular). They even go as far to say that if God does exist, to not interfere because everytime his name is brought up, only bad follows ("Retreat!"). They replaced the gorgeous cello from The Ugly Organ (the cellist went solo?) with a bombastic horn section which works wonderfully with the lyrical content. This is one of the best trilogies of music I am yet to come upon. Thematically, they play great together as the progressional thought of life. From the ripping apart of a relationship, to the emptiness that follows, to the search for God. I see it as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, a progression through one's complete soul as we all have this in us...this mature, but deeply sadden individual, this immature, but lonely individual, and this lost soul seeking answers and comfort in the heavens and so rarely hearing a response. So how do you follow-up such a complete trilogy of music? Thematically, those albums evolve...musically, those albums evolve. Everything about each album flows into the next and it fits, like puzzle pieces, and I don't think it was possible for me NOT to be disappointed by whatever they choose to release next.

Here comes Mama, I'm Swollen. The entire album is an evaluation of the human condition, essentially, how we are all sinners regardless of how we try to see or carry ourselves. In "From The Hips" we hear the argument that man was happier when sex wasn't about social parameters, but just did what felt good (a topic well covered on The Ugly Organ). In "Caveman" we question the advancements of man, if they were actually advancements, etc... By no means are these poor songs, by any means, and the album is perhaps a great album out of context versus the previous three by Cursive, but thematically and musically (they return to being a straight rock band without any "non-traditional" rock arrangements), it doesn't hold up to the previous three. Contextually, it seems almost out of place, although somehow fitting in the questioning nature of the lyrics.

That all being said, there is a particular gem on the album and I've posted the lyrics above (if you haven't already figured that out). "Mama, I'm Satan" is about we, as a people, and how there is a killer or a rapist, in every single one of us. What's more, is that every great injustice throughout time - slavery, the inquisition and the crusades, the holocaust...every single one of us is capable of terribly great things. So how can we at any point in time, justify any actions we do and think we are right? How often have we been right in the past? We may feel something is right, but we're wrong, we're always wrong. Humans are evil, is basically the bottom line. So I guess, what are your thoughts on lyrics and on mankind - are we as evil as we are made out to be? I'll go see if the song is on Project Playlist...that's a negative. Oh well, I can send it out to anyone interested, as well as a selected Cursive collection...or the entire trilogy (I need more early Cursive, but that's neither here nor there).

Anyways, what do you think of mankind? Ta.