Thursday, 6 September 2012

For Now, At Least

Justice has taken myself, Virgil, Meridian, Theta and Nee-chan off the hunt for the rat, as predicted. Cardinal and his trackers are still on the trail but Dullahan and Calliope have been taken off notice. It could be a while before the rat gets caught, so it's business as usual for the rest of us, which should keep people off my back for a little while.

Oh wait, nope, I live with psychos. Dullahan is still complaining that he hasn't gotten the chance to eat in a while, like it's my problem to solve. What an unbelievable dickbag. I'm surprised that Justice hasn't cut him loose. He may be a bit of an idiot but he's a lot more principled than Eternity ever was, so you'd think he wouldn't want someone like Dullahan hanging around, but I guess he's changing. Settling into the role.

I might try and get a review or something up here soon. I never wanted to dwell on all this stuff too much anyway.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Quiet Hunt

So far, so stale. The rat hasn't left much of a trail, ironically by eschewing his tech in favour of some good old-fashioned fugitive-on-the-run-style shenanigans. Even with four trackers on his trail, it's not been easy and it's breaking the flow of our mojo (read: disrupting normal operations), which Justice isn't happy about, so Virgil and Meridian will probably be getting called back in a couple of weeks, leaving Cardinal in charge of cleanup for now.

Meanwhile, back here in beautiful New York, New York, I have to deal with constant house visits from Dullahan, because he's sick of not getting out to work, Calliope, because she's sick of not being able to talk to Virigl, and that imbecile Turtle, because Justice wants daily updates but apparently can't trust me to just give them to him in person. But can apparently trust a complete outsider to not fuck up our sys-OH WAIT.

Okay, I swear, that's the last time I'm bringing it up. Moving on. No more gloating.

So yeah, my apartment feels like Grand Central at the moment. In addition to the above, we had Nee-chan in earlier, complaining that someone was in her apartment without her permission. Next thing I know, that Roger kid is gonna drop by asking me to requisition him more torture victims or, who knows, Helios might rise from the freaking grave just to come bother Theta and I about something.


I might be in a bad mood.

Friday, 17 August 2012

And We're Back

So if you were reading this blog before we went dead, you might have seen me expressing my reservations about the new "messenger", Ratatoskr, being outside the group while still having access to our systems. Well, turns out that, as per usual, your ol' pal Holiday was completely fucking correct. The piece of shit found out that the tall dude, y'know, exists (something which Justice apparently decided wasn't fucking important to tell him!), lost his nerve, killed our systems and went on the run while we had no way of contacting him!

Well, sir, as you can imagine, since we got back online there just two weeks ago, we have been pissed, especially since the process of putting all our shit back together revealed that the damage was definitely sabotage. Once we ascertained that Ratatoskr was the source, Cardinal and I were put on the job with each of us handling a tracker team - he has Photographer and Mockingbird, I have Virgil and Meridian. Whoever finds him first will dispatch the corresponding hunter team - Dullahan and Calliope are with him, Theta and Nee-chan are with me.

In keeping with his general behaviour since he took the helm, Justice hasn't bothered to show his face, instead conducting all his business through Tempest and Turtle. The former is intimidating and authoritative (especially so for a 16-year-old) but Turtle is not and it's hard to take him seriously. Especially when Cardinal and I have gear-shifted into maximum-fucks mode. In fact, I wouldn't have even stopped to make this post if not for the fact that I wanted to gloat about being right. And I was.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A New Door

Sorry for the gap in updates, I once again have a good reason though. Justice decided there needed to be more cohesion in the group, less of a distance between the operatives. We have to be closer so that we can work more effectively, apparently.

He made us move into the compound.

Okay, so it's not the most horrible thing he could have done. But, y'know, there was more than one reason I enjoyed living with Theta. I wasn't just that his chronic fuck deficiency when it comes to my organisational skills meant we got along swimmingly. There were other benefits like, oh yeah, being fucking miles away from the all the crazy people. I mean, I'm the one who has to deal with the consequences of their batshit ways on a regular basis, so I've had a very good idea of why I shouldn't want to live near them.

Now, I'm in the same apartment complex as them. I'm still living with Theta but now I'm neighbours with Dullahan of all people. I'm not even going to pollute your minds with Dullahan's crazy, but, believe me, this is not a guy you want to spend any time anywhere near. There's a reason he lives on his own, let me put it to you that way.

And, on top of that, I have to meet with another new recruit, some dude called Roger who's apparently going to be working for Zombie. Which seems strange to me because Zombie has never exactly been noted for his inefficiency. Why does he need an apprentice? I don't know what Justice is up to but he ain't making a lick of sense. We have to stick together but a hacker with access to our networks (probably) doesn't even have to be a part of the cell, our best caretaker gets replaced with a nervous piece of shit while our best interrogator has to take on an's bullshit, frankly, but he's the boss and I'm not.

My appointment with Roger is starting in an hour, I need to prepare my materials. I'll update again soon.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Recruits and Transfers

Oh my, it's been over two weeks. My bad. Like Tempest said, I survived the reshuffling but I had to meet the new recruits and transfers, get to know them and lay down protocol and stuff. I don't get called in that often but we need to have our shit straight when I do or things will go south fast.

Our new trackers* are a pair called Photographer and Mockingbird. Photographer is an experienced transfer and I was very impressed after talking with him, almost as much as I was utterly creeped out by the fact that he acts like a goddamn robot. I get that a lot of people disconnect themselves when it comes to the tall dude but...let me put it this way; there are people, who, when exposed to the tall dude, basically just become completely mindless. And I mean nigh-catatonic. We call them husks. Photographs acts almost exactly like a husk except for being able to talk and do his job. It reminds me of this kid I worked with for a while in the old days. He was autistic but he knew everything about dinosaurs and had no problem telling everyone he met about them. I mean, you could tell that he had problems, but he could communicate and stuff (and play any musical instrument you put in his hands, much to my jealousy). I think the technical term is "high-functioning". Photographer comes across as a high-functioning husk to me. He can do the simplest of things and has a few areas where he's highly skilled but beyond that? It doesn't seem like there's much.

Mockingbird is a recruit. Pretty generic-looking guy, but he has a mighty fine brown coat. His newbie-ness shone through a lot when I was talking to him - he was trying to be very down-to-business while also being visibly nervous, so what happened was he spent the whole time being guarded while also not really being at ease. Whistled a lot, which was pretty annoying. Still, he seems competent and having Photographer around to show him the ropes can't hurt.

The new messenger**, of sorts, I didn't meet. He's some guy called Ratatoskr, an old hacking friend of Justice. He's not actually been formally brought into the group, so I haven't had to meet with him and may not ever need to meet him. I don't know why Justice is keeping him out of the group but I'm not gonna lie; it makes me nervous. Anyone who's hacking can cause trouble, anyone who can cause trouble is supposed to be under my watchful fucking eye. Someone with enough access to compromise us but without the oversight to be reined in - I don't fucking like it.

We also got a new caretaker***, since Justice had some personal problems with our last one, Eddie. It's a damn shame too, since Eddie lasted a hell of a lot longer than anyone else I've seen in the job and was good enough at keeping things under control that I'd never once needed to intervene and help him out. But, hey, Justice is the boss now, what do I know? I've only been in this organisation, fixing other people's problems when they can't handle them, since before he even knew who the tall dude was. Anyway, yeah, Eddie's replacement is this guy called Verde who is just not going to fucking last, which made meeting with him seem like a complete waste of time. You know how I know he won't last? Because he was cheery and when it comes to caring for the husks, cheery people are naive people and naive people break. He's either going to make a mistake on the job and get burned by Justice or he's just going to fucking breakdown and become a husk himself. Either way, I don't like him and his attitude.

So, yeah, that's the reason for my absence. I'm gonna try and put up a review or something in the next couple of days, if I can find the motivation. Until then, amigos.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Shake Up

Things are getting shaken up around here. You see, the tall dude is not so great at communicating with normal people, so he has an interpreter of sorts that we call the Oracle. Up until recently, the Oracle was this guy called Eternity, but he's been replaced by a new guy called Justice. He's not too happy with how the organisation is at the moment, so he's been requesting transfers from other cells and even digging up some fresh recruits. He's moving fast and without consulting anyone, so things are a little unstable right now. His lieutenant, of sorts, my boss, Tempest, has assured me that my job is safe, but I'm still on edge.

To get my mind off things, I've been spending the day playing funky bass. It's pretty sexadelic, I have to say.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Top Ten Albums: 2000-2009

It's been well over a year since the noughties (as we've been forced to call them since no one could think of anything better) finished up, ushering us into whatever trendy name we have for this decade. That, I think is sufficient time for me to look back on the previous decade and pluck out ten albums which, in my opinion, were the best ten albums released in those ten years (that way I don't have to go into as much detail and can pass myself off as a critic). To give the rest of the decade a fair chance, I'm excluding live albums and thereby my favourite album, Daft Punk's Alive 2007. That notwithstanding; let's do this shit.

10. Who Killed Amanda Palmer? by Amanda Palmer (2008)


This gorgeous album from the illustrious Amanda "Fucking" Palmer (also of The Dresden Dolls) is a masterpiece of thematic development and instrumentation. I have never before or since heard a non-concept album with such rich thematic material. The balance between the music and lyrics is sheer perfection and the style stands well apart from her previous work with The Dresden Dolls.

Stand-out tracks include the opening number, "Astronaut (A Short History of Nearly Nothing)", as well as "Runs In The Family", "Guitar Hero", "Strength Through Music" and "Have to Drive". The album is essentially a series of musical discussions of mental health issues such as isolation ("Strength Through Music"), depression ("Another Year (A Short History of Almost Something)") and obsession ("Leeds United") which examines the symptoms ("Have To Drive" looks at paranoia and hysteria), the causes ("Runs In The Family" looks at how your family fucks you up) and the effects they have on your daily life ("Astronaut (A Short History of Nearly Nothing)" looks at relationship strains caused by mental ill-health). A strong, recurring theme is a disconnect from reality, developed most extensively in "Guitar Hero" and "Oasis".

Overall, the album is a strong solo debut (which makes the lackluster follow-up all the more disappointing) that showcases in great depth the amazing composing abilities of Amanda Palmer and ultimately proves itself as a musical case study in mental health with its textured, melancholic instrumentation and evocative lyrics.

9. American III: Solitary Man by Johnny Cash (2000)


I must confess to a massive boner for minimalism, so I've understandably had quite a few eargasms while listening to each and every part of the late Johnny Cash's amazing American series of albums. While not quite as fucktacular as the later American IV: The Man Comes Around, this album is still undeniably one of the greatest country albums ever recorded.

The selection of songs captures, magnifies and exemplifies the many different faces that Johnny Cash has worn through his life; the defiant rebel ("I Won't Back Down"), the spiritual man ("One"), the chuckling jester ("Nobody"), the loving family man ("Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)"), the bardic storyteller ("The Mercy Seat") and, ultimately, the small town boy who became the undisputed king of American country music ("Country Trash").

The instrumentation is simple, elegant and powerful, while Cash's vocals are strong, steady and never overpowered by the guest singers. This is album is a picture-perfect portrait of a man who has been rightly described as a lens through which one can view the human condition of the American nation.

8. All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2 (2000)


When U2 released this album, they said that they were reapplying for the job of the best band in the world. While I don't think they got the position, it's impossible to say that this album wasn't a darn good swing at getting there.

After their disappointing and overly-experimental 90s era, this album brought U2 back to their catchy, hook-based rock songs while utilising the sonology of their experimental work to develop a more polished and progressive sound. The result is their finest work since 1983's War (although most people tend to count from The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby, which were kind of meh for me) and an absolute stunner of an album. "Beautiful Day" is just unavoidably uplifting, not so much a rejection of materialism as a lesson in embracing and loving what you have, while "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" is one of the most honest and heartfelt songs about suicide I have ever heard in my life. "Walk On" was such a powerful dedication to Aung San Suu Kyi and her moves for democracy that the Burmese government banned the whole album.

While I'll always prefer the U2 of the 80s, you'd have to be insane to not appreciate this as a fantastic rock album. They might not have succeeded but U2 made their best attempt at regaining their position as the best band in the world and made a marvellous album along the way.

7. Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens (2004)

File:Seven Swans album cover - Sufjan Stevens.jpg

I'll start this section straight up by saying that I am not a Christian. I do believe in a higher power but the whole organised religion thing is really not my cup of tea and I generally prefer to rely on my own thoughts and feelings for morality, especially when the universe has demonstrated time and time again that the higher powers of this reality are, at best, indifferent and, at worst, openly hostile to our race. That said, this Christian folk album by the endlessly talented Sufjan Stevens is an absolute gem.

The great gift of Sufjan Stevens, apart from his coherent and detailed composition, which I will touch upon more later, is his ability to discuss Christian themes in a non-intrusive way. Stevens never preaches when he writes, he discusses his own faith in a very personal way, often by stomping on the myth of the perfect Christian and openly admitting to the struggles and doubts of the modern Christian in such an honest way that it's impossible not to sympathise. This sentiment is perhaps epitomised by "To Be Alone With You", in which the singer seems to feel his salvation was not worth all that Christ gave on the cross.

Compared to the pomp and bombast of Stevens' later efforts (which is not at all a bad thing, they are simply marvellous), this album is a well-cut balancing act between minimalism and melodrama that discusses the Christian faith in such a relatable way that it becomes possible to extrapolate the themes and emotions on to situations far beyond those of the modern Christian. Simply wonderful.

6. Thirteenth Step by A Perfect Circle (2003)

File:A Perfect Circle-Thirteenth Step.jpg

Oh man, what an album. It's a perfectly proportioned dark, dreary and desperate examination of addiction from a variety of perspectives. The instrumentation is bizarre, droning and mesmerising, enrapturing and encapturing, beautifully worked down to the most minute detail. You will never hear another band like A Perfect Circle.

In addition to the opening track, "The Package", the sound of this album is defined by "The Noose", "Blue" and the band's cover of Failure's "The Nurse Who Loved Me". There's a bit of a duelling guitars aspect to the playing that adds a sense of fraught tension to the whole arrangement, which naturally panders to the themes of addiction. The balance between the vocals and instruments is always pitch perfect - to be expected from a band started by a guitar technician. As I've said previously, the thematic dialogue never gets stale; each perspective is as different as the accompanying song and the album simply gets richer as it goes on.

One of the real strengths of this album is how the emotions come out both through the lyrics and the guitars, with their delicate interplay and dynamics. As emotive as the lyrics are, this is a real guitar lover's album and an essential listen for anyone who is truly passionate about the instrument.

5. Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree (2007)

File:Fear of a blank planet.jpg

Porcupine Tree are a band who consistently either put out pretty flimsy material or absolutely mind-blowing albums. Although second to 1999's Stupid Dream, which I can't list here for obvious reasons, this album is still probably the greatest realisation of progressive rock since Pink Floyd's The Wall and even threads some similar themes in a modern context.

It's a concept album of only six tracks that deals with the social isolation of disenchanted modern youth who find themselves turning insularly to the Internet as an outlet for their frustrations. It starts with the buzzy rock tone of the title track but as it becomes "My Ashes" and then "Anaesthetize", the scope and sonic landscape of the album reach proportions far too epic for me to express in mere mortal words. Just know that this is a work of great musical accomplishment and inspired and intelligent lyrics.

And never, ever compare Porcupine Tree to Pink Floyd near Steven Wilson.

4. Broken Bride by Ludo (2005)

File:Broken Bride EP.gif

At their shortest, Pink Floyd did a concept album in forty minutes. At their most amazing, Ludo did a whole rock opera in half an hour. 'NUFF SAID.

If "'NUFF SAID" is not, in fact, 'nuff, I will continue with the merits of the music itself. Ludo are the nerd rock band. On their other albums, the nerd rock balance has always been tipped in favour of "nerd" and that's what I attribute to my enduring displeasure with them. However, in this album, despite the science fiction storyline, Ludo are heavily on the side of rock and show with gusto their abilities as both technically-skilled instrumentalists and absorbing lyricists. The plot concerns a man who builds a time machine to go back in time and prevent the death of his girlfriend in May, 1989, but overshoots and ends up in dinosaur times. He then hops around another bit before things really go to shit and he's forced to learn difficult lessons about loss and fate and stuff.

There are five tracks and each of them is utterly awesome but the crown has to go to "Part III: The Lamb and the Dragon" because not only is it a really solid track on its own but it includes an epic reprise of the main theme of "Part I: The Broken Bride" that really just sells the whole thing. If you want unabashedly epic rock married with an awesome storyline, this is the album you want to listen to.

3. American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash (2002)


I mentioned it earlier, so you really should have seen it coming. There are few albums, if any, that embody the principle of minimalism better than this album, the final album released by Johnny Cash before his death, and there are even fewer albums that can be composed mainly of cover songs and still be so personal and emotive.

The most famous song from this album is, of course, Johnny's stunning cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" but, great as that cover is, it's by no means the best song on the album. When he made this album, Johnny Cash, at the very least, had a pretty good idea this would be his last one before he died, even if he didn't know for certain. If American III was Johnny Cash showing all the faces he wore during his life, this album is him showing off the soul beneath all those faces and, you know what? Johnny Cash had a beautiful soul. Listen to his cover of The Beatles' "In My Life" and tell me otherwise. Hear him sing The Eagles' "Desperado" about himself and fucking come at me, bro. The ending to the whole album is just unsurpassable; the final line of the penultimate song, "Streets of Laredo", rings out ("he was a young cowboy and he knew he'd done wrong...") and then comes "We'll Meet Again", in which Cash is joined by some cool folksy-sounding backing singers for the finale. Is there anything that could make Johnny Cash's performance more amazing?

Yes, there is. A duet with Nick Cave. Which he did on this album. Boo-fucking-yah.

2. Illinois by Sufjan Stevens (2005)

File:Sufjan Stevens - Illinois.jpg

This album is probably one of the most musically impressive albums ever conceived. The pomp and bombast of the whole thing is perfect for an album based around the history and culture of Illinois because the state has a rich heritage, while the quieter pieces end up more poignant in contrast to the more voluminous tracks.

In addition to the rich and varied instrumentation, which, according to the liner notes, ranges from glockenspiel to church organ, this album is marked by its exploration of a variety of human themes through the lens of the state of Illinois. The dark side that inevitably resides in everyone's heart is discussed in reference to one of the state's most infamous residents, serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr., in the song of the same name while the story of a childhood friend who died of bone cancer becomes a challenging of the fairness of God's judgement in "Casimir Pulaski Day". The singer's relationship with his stepmother is examined in "Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!", which is filled with references to the folklore, so to speak, of Illinois, as well as several namedrops to famous Illinoisans such as Abraham Lincoln. In one of the rockiest moments in the whole menagerie, the Messiah figure is reconstructed by way of Superman to the tune of a gritty guitar in "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts". The album is broken up by several instrumental tracks of varying length that add a great deal to the listening experience and make the album almost cinematic in breadth.

Although the aftermath of this album lead Sufjan Stevens into an existential crisis that nearly drove him to end his musical career, I think there are few people who can deny that this album is, thusfar, his magnum opus and one of the most beautifully realised indie pop albums ever conceived. Certainly, it is Sufjan Stevens' finest hour, though I don't doubt that he can up the ante again in the future.

1. Ghost by Radical Face (2006)

As much as I enjoy the theme and issue of music, at the end of the day, music must be enjoyable to listen to. The greatest of music evokes a wide spectrum of emotions, but, in the end, leaves you feeling like you've spent your time well and in a better mood than when you started.

In that vein, Radical Face's Ghost is probably one of the greatest albums ever made. It's based around the idea of houses retaining memories of events that have occurred within them, with each song being a story that has happened inside the house, some of them told from the house's perspective. The thematic developments are subtle but fascinating, with nostalgia and a sense of belonging being important recurring ideas. The stand-out tracks are undoubtedly "Welcome Home, Son", "Wrapped In Piano Strings" and "Homesick" but the whole album is just wall-to-wall amazing songs with a consistent general tone rendered distinct with individual nuances.

However, what really makes Ghost a truly brilliant album is that it is exceedingly pretty and I mean that in the least condescending way. The songs are just genuinely pleasant to listen to and evoke exactly the kind of emotions (nostalgia, fondness, comfort) to leave you feeling uplifted when the album is over. Because, at the end of the day, whatever grand artistic vision you are trying to express through your songs, the songs have to sound nice to listen to and, without any trace of doubt, I have to say that Ghost is the prettiest and thereby greatest album of the noughties.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Message for Messenger

I mentioned the blog Don't Shoot The Messenger in my last post. It's run by a colleague of mine called The Messenger who I've never met (because he lives in the shared apartment complex where most of the group live but I live in my own apartment with Theta) or worked with (because he's never fucked his job up so horrendously that I've needed to get involved). Theta and some of the others that I talk to more regularly know him well enough though and I've been reading his blog for quite a long time, so when I saw that he was having a rough time of things earlier in the week, I drove over to the complex and tried to pay him a visit but he wasn't opening his door.

A couple of days ago, things seemed to be getting worse but I decided to wait to see if another colleague of ours, a good guy by the name of Zombie, was going to drop by and check on him. However, yesterday, I found out from Zombie's room-mate, a guy called Muad'Dib (who just started his own blog called Tall, Dark and Slender - I know, subtle name, right?), that he hadn't been letting either of them in. So, just on the off chance that I might be able to help, I stole Theta's car keys again and moseyed on over to see what I could do.

It took me a few minutes to find Messenger's apartment and then, when I did, it took even longer to convince him to open up. Eventually, after I told him I was just there to see how he was, not to lecture him, he let me in but it wasn't a pleasant stay. The guy obviously hadn't bathed in some time and there was an awful smell of decay coming from somewhere in the apartment that I can only hope was rotting food. I couldn't tell if he was fucked out of it from pills, alcohol or just good old-fashioned sleep deprivation but he clearly wasn't with it. I tried to talk to him for a little while but he spent a third of the time not even noticing I was talking and another third of it talking to someone who wasn't there. When he did actually respond to me, it was mostly one-word answers, which meant this guy was actually an even worse conversationalist than Theta, which I genuinely didn't think was possible. Then, all of a sudden, he started getting really agitated and told me to leave. I was kind of intimidated, to be honest, which is weird, because the dude is smaller and weaker than me anyway without him being fucked up to his eyeballs but there was something in his eyes and I felt like my time there was up.

For anyone reading his blog who was hoping for more than that, I'm sorry. I did the best I could but he's fucked up real bad. I don't know if there's anything anyone can do, let alone little old me.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Tall Dude

Okay, so, if you've read this far through my blog, you might have seen some comments that are confusing without context. I never really intended on talking about this when I started this blog, but I suppose it was inevitable. It was my fault for commenting on other blogs and attracting the wrong people.

There's this being. You may have heard of him already, if you haven't, I just hope that reading this isn't going to fuck up your life or anything. You know what? If you want, you can treat this as some crazy ramblings and ignore it and anything else that sounds insane and just concentrate on what I say about music and stuff. But for those who don't want to ignore this, I'm sure you've figured out what being I'm referring to. Too tall, too thin, dressed dark and faceless. A being of many names. I like to call him the tall dude, just because it makes things easier for me if I trivialise him a little and push him out of my mind as much as possible.

Anyway, there are people who work for this tall dude. A lot of people. I'm just one of these people, in just one group based out of New York. We receive orders from higher places and do the jobs we're given. What kind of jobs? Some of us have to track down enemies of the tall dude, whom they then have hunted down and killed by others. We have hackers, torturers, pilots, really whatever is necessary, we find, one way or another. My job is not quite as fancy as I tried to make it sound. I'm what's called a sweeper. If someone makes a mess, my job is to sweep it up by any means necessary. I'm a fixer.

If anyone reading this has heard of another blog called Don't Shoot The Messenger, they'll already know about some of the people I work with. You don't need to be familiar with that blog to read this one, if it becomes necessary for me to talk about my work and whatnot, I'll make sure to explain as if you've never even heard of them.

Most of the people in this group live in an apartment complex about half an hour away from where I live with my room-mate, another member of the group by the name of Theta. I used to live with my partner, an uptight berk called Cardinal, but our living styles just weren't compatible, so I asked our financier, a cool guy called Jacob, if he could reshuffled the living arrangements and he was amiable, as Theta's previous room-mate had vacated the premises. So that's how I found myself living and having weekly footraces with a modern-day Adonis.

If I think it's relevant, I'll talk about this stuff more, but as I said in my comments on one of the previous posts I'd rather just talk about music and stuff, so that's what I'll be doing mostly. Speaking of which, stayed tuned for my top 10 albums of the noughties, which should be up this week.


Friday, 27 April 2012

Weekly Rituals

Yesterday, my room-mate and I went to the local athletics track and had our weekly sprint. No goddamn surprise that the bastard beat me again; he's built like a gymnast whereas I'm a swimmer - the muscles are heavily in his favour. He wins in the aerodynamics stakes as well, with his big bald head (as opposed to my luscious brown locks).

Afterwards, we went to a burger joint. I got a flame-grilled quarter-pounder with smoked blue cheese, onions, peppers, ketchup and a side of taco fries, he got a large bowl of cheese fries and a steak burger with lots of salad and mayonnaise. We both got large milkshakes - chocolate for me, strawberry for him. He's not much of a talker, so I don't know if he quite agrees, but, as far as I'm concerned, we weren't blessed with machine-like metabolisms so we could eat rabbit food.

When we got home, he went to meditate in his room, I started playing around with some bass riffs in mine, trying to put together a song. Jane sang like a bird but it wasn't happening today. It hasn't happened for a while, actually. I don't just feel impotent, I feel infertile. It's not that I can't get the emotion out, it's that I don't have any emotion to get out.

I need stimulation.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Some Good Memes

I dunno if you're familiar with the term "meme" but, unlike concept albums, they're a rather nuanced idea that I can't really explain very well. Here's Wikipedia's attempt, if you're not in the know.

So, I've got a few memes I really like and I'd like to share you with them, because they're hilarious. The first one is called Zach Braff Facts, which is a sketched picture of noted comedy/drama actor and director Zach Braff with his eyes cocked accompanied by a quote that is rendered amusing by its context. Some favourites;


Funny, right? In case you can't tell, I'm a black humour fan.

This next one is called Conspiracy Keanu and is a picture of less noted comedy/drama actor Keanu Reeves with a horrified look on his face and an insane conspiracy theory superimposed over him. Some good examples follow;


I laughed heartily just picking these ones out. There's something goofy and charming about them. I think they're pretty rad. However, my favourite is hands down the Yo Dawg meme, featuring the least noted person ever, Xzibit of Pimp My Ride "fame" with a redundant caption. Have a look;


Haha, aren't these great? Shit, I just snorted chocolate milk all over my keyboard. Brb, loling forever.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Video Games

When you spend so much time with nothing to do, you find ways to try and fill your time. Me? I play and listen to music, read books, swim and jog. Occasionally, I might watch a movie or a TV show. However, before today, I'd never tried video games. I don't know why but I never really got the appeal of them. My parents never bought me them and, even as I grew up, they never attracted or entice me in any particular way. Having played them though?

They're okay. Yeah, not exactly a stunning endorsement, I know, but hear me out. First of all, I'm not going to be a douche like Roger Ebert and say that video games are not an art form. They clearly are and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fucking moron ("line between craftsmanship and art" my fucking ass). Also, I'll admit straight up that by "video games", I don't mean things like Skyrim or whatever is popular with the kids these days, since I don't have any money to buy games (or a console to play them on for that matter). My job provides me with bed, board and expenses but it's basically voluntary beyond that.

So, I ended up playing free games on the Internet. May I begin by saying that Runescape is a pile of crap? Too bad if I can't, because it is. What a meaningless heap of cow manure. In case my concept album post didn't make it clear, I like stories! I get the whole "free-roaming" aesthetic and idea and that's great but when I get bored of free-roaming, there should be a plot for me to go back to. There's a difference between being free and being directionless.

That's why I enjoyed the works of one Adam Atomic because, even with the most scant and minimal details, his games were compelling. They are honestly beautiful. Gravity Hook (about a little dude in an underground military base trying to see how deep down he is) is fun and challenging, while Canabalt (about a slightly taller dude running through a ruined city to escape mysterious machines that are destroying everything) sets new standards in both minimalism and awesomeness. One thing I really liked about them both is that, while they have a clear story, the details of that story are sparse enough that you can fill in the blanks and make up your own version of events each time, unlike Runescape, where shit happens for no apparent reason. Seriously, fuck Runescape.

After that, I tried some of those Facebook games, but they were so mind-numbingly boring that I had to give up after a few minutes. Then I played more Canabalt. That game is really addictive, I swear. On my last playthrough, the running guy was a despotic dictator who had turned the city into a dystopian wasteland and the mysterious machines aren't actually destroying everything, they're just trying to kill him (shit was so cash).

So, that's me and video games. They're alright. Maybe if I had the money to get some of these allegedly awesome ones I hear so much about (admittedly, I am very intrigued by the Fallout series), I'd have more to say about them, but I'm afraid that's simply not the case. An unfortunate fact of life.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Concept Albums

Time to talk about some music! I was going to talk about a specific band but then I realised that I don't know enough polysyllabic words to talk seriously about music without sounding like a know-nothing asshole, so instead I'm gonna do the general idea of concept albums.

So, to start, I should probably explain what exactly a concept album is. Basically, to illustrate the difference between a concept album and any other kind of album, let me compare one of each kind. Let's take the best-selling album in history, Michael Jackson's Thriller (a boss of an album, incidentally), and Thirteenth Step by A Perfect Circle (an even bigger boss of an album, if you ask me, but I digress). You don't need to be familiar with the albums to appreciate my point, but, uh, you probably should be anyway. They're pretty fucking awesome.

Let us consider some songs from each album. Thriller's three most famous tracks will do for starters; "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and, of course "Thriller". If you listen and compare, the songs are quite different, in both arrangement and subject matter, though the latter concerns me more here; "Beat It" is about street culture, "Billie Jean" is about lying and obsession, "Thriller" is an excellently veiled love song. There's no overt or even implicit connection between the three, no relationship.

On the other hand, let's have a look at Thirteenth Step. I'll pluck three songs at random; "Weak and Powerless", "The Nurse Who Loved Me" and "The Noose". So what are these about, oh, well, "Weak and Powerless" is about addiction, "The Nurse Who Loved Me" is also about addiction and "The Noose" is...about addiction as well? Well, I guess we've stumbled across a concept album!

So, yeah, in short, a concept album is an album where a unifying concept (hence the name) runs through all the songs. Often, it's a story, as is the case with such epic albums as Ludo's Broken Bride, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Pink Floyd's The Wall, but as often as not it's an abstract idea, like a single theme (addiction, in the case of Thirteenth Step), a recurring lyrical idea (69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields and Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds being exactly what they say on the tin) or, for want of a better word, a "gimmick" (Strange Little Girls by Tori Amos, for example, is all covers of songs by men reimagined from a woman's perspective). Having explained the concept, if you will, of concept albums, I should probably explain why I decided to talk about them.

Well, sufficed to say, I think concept albums are pretty fucking great. Sometimes regular albums can feel a bit disjointed, like the songs don't join together quite right, but with concept albums, especially the truly great ones (Illinois by Sufjan Stevens, The Wall by Pink Floyd, Rain Dogs by Tom Waits), there's a...fullness to them. They feel more rich and textured in their thematic explorations, examining them in greater depth (the frequently aforementioned Thirteenth Step, for example, explores addiction from twelve different viewpoints and never for a moment feels stale in doing so). Which, by the way, is not to disparage non-concept albums in any way - in fact, my favourite album of all time is not even a studio album, but a live album; Daft Punk's Alive 2007.

I myself have always dreamed of releasing a concept album but I've given up on any hope of a musical career at this stage in my life. I've got a job that I can't just walk away from and I've more-or-less come to terms with the fact that all my fantasising about being a glamorous indie rock 'n' roll star will remain just that - fantasies. But it's cool, I'm not bitter about it. I can still make my music here in my apartment, since my roomie (a pretty cool dude, if reserved) doesn't mind. But yeah, concept albums. Listen to some.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cassandra and Jane

Today, I'd like to introduce you to two very special women in my life, Cassandra and Jane. These two ladies have been with me a long time and have proven their worth to me time and time again by helping me get over some rough patches in my life.

That beauty right there is Cassandra. If you're not a learned scholar such as myself, let me tell you what you're looking at; an Ibanez Iceman, one of the sexiest guitars that was ever forged by human hands. Mahogany body, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, all beautiful of course, but nothing in comparison to those gorgeous Super 80 pickups. High output, bright, no mud, sexy, 'nuff said. I would say that every hot-blooded guitarist in the world should have one of these but then I wouldn't feel as special every time I wrap my fingers around that neck and jam like a motherfucker. A sweet setup, to be sure.

This baby is Jane, my Epiphone Thunderbird IV. I've had her a couple of years now and have never felt the need to part with her once. You know why? Because she's a beautiful creature with the sweetest tone I ever did hear. Again, that beautiful triple combo of mahogany, maple and rosewood and the TB pickups give this beast punch and growl out the wazoo. Fuck Wagner, this is what should have been accompanying the Nazis as they marched into Poland. This here bass sounds like a war machine and it's still smooth as Santana. If you're wondering what the wet patch in your underwear is it, that was the best motherfucking guitargasm of your life and before you say it; you're goddamn welcome.

(These aren't actual pictures of my guitars, I got them from Google. I know what you people are like, you could track me down by performing some voodoo magic on the information in the photos. Not that I think there's anyone after me but a dude's got to have a certain level of paranoia right?)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Introductions & Co.

So I was sitting here in my apartment, fiddling with my guitar and smoking a joint when I realised - holy shit - I have fucking nothing to do half the fucking time! Taking this sudden realisation into account, I decided to get off my ass and do something, a phrase which here means "I moved the whole three feet from my bed to my computer desk". Then I started this blog and tried my hand at making it look somewhat decent. I don't know if I succeeded and, frankly, when I consider tweaking it a bit, I start suffering from sudden-onset fuck deficiency, so I'm probably just going to keep it at is.

Right, anyway, the name is Holiday, or at least it is as far as you're concerned. I'm 24 and living in New York, where I work as a creative solutions consultant with a community assistance organisation. My job basically consists of coming up with ways to overcome the obstacles faced by members of the group in the field on a day-to-day basis. The only thing is that most of them are pretty competent professionals, so they don't often need my help, and when they do, for the vast majority of problems, I can advise them by text or over the phone, so even when something does go wrong, I don't get called out into the field much.

I'm not quite 100% sure what I want to do with this thing. I'm pretty big into music, so I might post about music a bit. Either way, you can expect me to update this regularly, since, as previously alluded to, I've got nothing to fucking do. So, yeah, I'll follow up this post in a few days with something with a bit more substance.

Peace and love.