But I'm off for real this time. Enjoy the holidays, folks. And pray for my car. I would prefer a few, actually semi-affordable repairs to the alternative of expensive repairs and/or having to buy a new one. But I'm not optimistic. I doubt even the combined might of Jesus and Santa could pull off a Christmas miracle of that magnitude. I really hate cars.
But happy holidays anyway!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy Christmas, or the last few days of Hannukah, or whatever holiday you happen to celebrate in your house. Liam's still too young to really understand what's going on yet, but he does enjoy the lights and the music and at least some of the TV Christmas specials (How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Olive the Other Reindeer being the biggest hits), so it's been fun for us. I legitimately hope some of that passes along to everyone else.
(Tangent: Speaking of Christmas specials, check out the Christmas episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, called "Operation N.A.U.G.H.T.Y." It recasts Santa and some of his elves as the X-Men, and features breathless narration from someone doing a decent imitation of Stan Lee, or at the very least, Roger, the Stan Lee Experience, from X-Play.)
Anyway, in the interest of originality and bringing back into the world something else which had previously been lost, here's the surprisingly sweet Pinky & the Brain Christmas Special in three parts (honestly, if the ending doesn't make you feel at least a little gooey inside, you have no soul), courtesy of whatever copyright-infringing soul decided to upload it to YouTube. Enjoy, and have a safe and happy season, y'all.
2. This "new look" art style for Archie Comics? Not a big deal, so stop complaining about it. Especially if you haven't read an Archie book since 1978. Also, I'd like to point out that big change in the Archieverse is not unprecedented at all. Or are you still calling him "Chick?" *
*And while we're on the subject, if we were supposed to call him Chick way back when, why did they call the strip "Archie" in the first place? No wonder it never stuck.
See, the man at the comic store gave me this eMusic promo card a few weeks back. For whatever reason, eMusic partnered up with Marvel and crosspromoted their legal music download service with an upcoming collection of the next segment of Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men. I’m not really certain what either side actually gets out of this, but hey, the card had X-Men on it and offered me 35 MP3 downloads for the low, low price of Free Ninety-Free. I’m not made of stone here, people.
There was a catch, of course. Obviously, you had to sign up for the actual service before they’d let you have the trial period, because they’re not that stupid. But that was actually the easy part. I did a little research, and eMusic’s praises were sung far and wide, and it was, in fact, very easy to cancel out of the service if you’re unsatisfied for any reason. And it’s not like iTunes, where you’re sort of beholden to them for life if you want to keep playing the tracks you buy. If you download from eMusic, the songs are yours to do with as you please. No limitations on when, where, or how you use, transfer, or burn them.
Nope, the catch is your trial period is about two weeks. Which doesn’t sound like much of a problem. And it probably isn’t for most people. As has been proven time and again, though, Erin and I aren’t most people. Between the two of us, we like a whole damn lot of different music. We’ve got the iPod playlists and CD collection to prove it (even after the recent mass purging of said CD collection, we still fill two large racks). But we’re not exactly the sort of folks who need to download or buy new stuff all the time. I’ve personally acquired fewer than 10 new CDs all year, and I guarantee that over half of those were gifts of some kind. The story is more or less the same for Erin, too. And last Christmas, we received two $15 iTunes gift cards, and along the way picked up something like 6 or 7 additional freebie downloads off of some offer Cheerios had in the summer. A full year later, we still have credit remaining. This is why we jumped off the Napster/Audiogalaxy/Kazaa/whatever-P2P-service-is-popular-now bandwagon a few years back; we download so little music that we don’t mind actually paying for it once in awhile.
We attacked the problem head-on, but it was slow going from day one. There’s a lot of music available through eMusic, but as they’re not the sort of powerhouse that iTunes is, or even the current version of Napster, so it can sometimes take you awhile to find a band or artist you like. And when you do, the listing isn’t necessarily comprehensive, so there may be tracks or even entire albums unavailable to you. They have a large number of exclusive live performances, though, which is admittedly pretty cool. And if you’re looking for indie bands that go unserved – possibly even unnoticed – by the likes of Apple, it definitely pays to nose around. Lots of stuff from labels like K, Victory, Kill Rock Stars, and so forth. And a healthy selection of actually-palatable kids’ stuff, too, like Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes.
But even despite all that, it still came down to the wire for us, since we still had about a dozen tracks to go the night before the trial expired. We did end up with a good chunk of songs we’re happy with, though. Erin got some Baby Gopal tracks she liked in college, a Rainer Maria song, a little Dashboard (let’s hear it for Alfonso Q. Dashboard, III!), Dressy Bessy, and a Halo Benders song we’ve been trying to remember for about 7 years now. I found some covers of They Might Be Giants songs, the track TMBG did with Mike Doughty a few years back, a couple Cub songs (and discovered I greatly prefer TMBG’s cover of their song, New York City), a New Pornographers song I didn’t already have, a live Dickies song, and a couple of Archies songs (Sugar, Sugar and Jingle Jangle, if you must know). We also found some Christmas music (finally have a copy of Snoopy’s Christmas, but it’s not the original Royal Guardsmen version, sadly; can’t find that anywhere) and a few Laurie Berkner songs for Liam (that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it). And probably some other stuff, too. Some Samiam, I think. And some song about Green Lantern which is just about as bad as you think a song about Green Lantern is going to be (but is still fun somehow).
So, yeah, we found some music we enjoyed, free and legal and everything, but honestly, I can’t imagine trying to find 30 (or more, depending on the package you sign up for) every single stinkin’ month. Way too much stress involved there for it to be any fun at all. eMusic is a great service, just not for us.
There. It just doesn't feel like Christmas without that one 5 second clip, does it?
Last night, Erin and I were granted the unique anthropological opportunity to view the vast portion of the
We went to see Brand New and Dashboard Confessional play at the Tsongas Arena in
Yeah, I know, that makes me sound like such a killjoy. I don’t like concerts. I’m that guy. But tickets are often really expensive (Thanks for giving up the Ticketmaster fight, Eddie Vedder. Way to fail!), I don’t like crowds, I hate standing for hours on end (either in line or at the show itself), and so few bands are as good live as they are on their albums. In order to get me to a concert, I need to really like the band, tickets need to be relatively cheap, and I need a place where I can sit. I hated bumping around in the crowd even when I was a teenager. I just like to sit and enjoy the music. Theoretically, someone worked hard on creating these songs, so I feel I owe it to him/her/them to actually attempt to appreciate it. No one could ever accuse me of being an unconscientious audience member. But I digress.
Anyway, the show. I have to say, it was pretty good. I wasn’t a big fan of either band going in, and I didn’t leave a convert, but I enjoyed myself at least. Brand New started off their set with the song of theirs that I actually do like, “Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades),” so that got my attention early on, which is key. I wasn’t too into the other songs, but the band performed well, which is all I was really hoping for. The lead singer – whose name is Jesse something or other, but I prefer to think it’s actually Brandon Newerson – thanked the crowd for their energy and support throughout the set, which I also appreciated. I always like to see a rock star that’s thankful for the fans. The only problem with ol’
The guy from Dashboard – given name: Chris Carrabba; my name for him: Alfonso Q. Dashboard, III – took the opposite approach, clearly reveling in every moment he spent on stage and probably quite ecstatic of his chances of achieving
So although decent, the show itself was pretty uneventful. In my eyes, the crowd was the main event for me. I’d estimate the median age of the crowd was about 17 to 19 years old. There were a bunch of kids around 12 or 13, and therefore a bunch of parents, too, but for the most part, everyone looked to be in the late high school or early college age range (Erin and I were probably the oldest people we saw with our own eyes who weren’t either working in some capacity or chaperoning kids). I work with kids in this age group, and my nieces and nephews are very firmly within it, too, so I try to keep a positive attitude about them, but a lot of them were making it difficult to remain upbeat for the future of
But questionable seasonal attire, the crowd was fun to watch. It was fun to try and figure out whose first concert is was, who was on a date, who was breaking up, who was hooking up, and so on. I may not always enjoy concerts, but I do love the people watching opportunities they provide. This one guy in line, for instance, had the best mullet I’ve seen outside of the NHL or a Full House rerun. This was very clearly a man who lived up to the “business in the front, party in the back” credo. His mullet fu was strong. In his own way, he truly does the Lord’s work.
And then there was Boob Girl.
When it was all said and done, a good night was had by the both of us. Even if you don’t like the music all that much, there are much worse events to attend than a performance by either Brand New or Dashboard Confessional. But between Boob Girl and Mullet Guy, there was a moment or two where we wondered if we hadn’t accidentally turned up for a Foghat show instead. It was a legitimately head-scratching series of events.
*which, like The Lemonheads, Dinosaur, Jr., and Nine Inch Nails, is usually just the one guy and whoever else happens to be along for the ride on that particular day.
Ooh, looks like Blogger finally deemed me worthy to switch over to the new version. Is it worth it, guys and gals? I do like that tagging feature and the kinda-sorta more freedom it allows in customizing templates. Opinions and/or advice appreciated.
So, clearly, none of this was life-threatening or anything, but in the space of a few hours, it was all pretty annoying, and therefore, the worst thing(s) ever. At that moment, at least.
So anyway, Erin had to go over to her parents' house to shower for work, and she brought Liam with her so he could eat breakfast and watch Jojo's Circus in relative comfort, while I wait here for the oil guy to come bring us some more black gold, Texas tea, dead dinosaur sludge, or whatever nomenclature you prefer.
Two things that are more pleasant, and theoretically warmer...
The X-Entertainment Advent Calendar is back for 2006! Big happenings for Kuse and the good Mare Winningham (as opposed to the many evil Mares) this year. Knacks, meanwhile, seems to have gone all emo and has set up his own MySpace page.
If only the actual Jabberjaw show as even half this good:
Young Avengers: Sidekicks – It Came From the Library! Actually, under the auspices of Inter-Library loan, it actually came from a library in
Green Lantern: Rebirth – It Came From the Library, Too! Though much closer, this time. Anyway, okay, yeah, if you’re going to bring back Hal
Green Lantern Corps 1-4 – I’ve been on a GL kick lately. I blame that free issue of Back Issue I got from TwoMorrows last month. Anyway, as I just said about three lines back, Hal Jordan is my least favorite Green Lantern, but I like the GL concept as a whole, so I when I saw the first issue of this book still sitting on the rack at Newbury Comics, I figured it was worth a look, and have since gone back to the well three more times, so I figure that’s a good sign. Dave Gibbons is writing a good book here (loads better than Rann/Thanagar War), and is really playing up the “GLs as space cops” angle here without it being as cheesy as, I don’t know, Gerry Anderson’s Space Precinct, I guess? Soranik Natu is one of my favorite new characters to come along in awhile – I really dig how she uses her power ring as an investigative tool as much as (if not more than) a weapon – and it’s always nice to see old school regulars like Guy, Kilowog, and Salaak get some screen time (Mogo, too!). I’m not too keen on the Vath Sarn and Isamot Kol, though, as I don’t think the book really needs to play the “mismatched partner” angle (one’s an ex-Rannian soldier, the other’s a Thanagarian lizard man condemned to die… they’re Lanterns!). A solid book that only improves once Gibbons picks up penciling duties in issue 4. I can’t wait to get caught up and see where this goes. I also hope we eventually see some John Stewart in here, and maybe even Rot Lop Fan, the F-Sharp Bell (if you’re gonna bring in Mogo, why not the other brilliant Alan Moore-created GL, too?).
Robin 156 – I think the test of a good superhero comic book writer is how well he or she handles the quiet stories, not just the loud, people getting kicked in the head stories (though those are important, too, don’t get me wrong), and Adam Beechen proves his chops here with this story of Robin encountering a college student who’s threatening to take a nose dive off a Gotham rooftop. Brilliantly handled, I thought – it’s nice to see someone actually admit the very human feeling that, yes, your problems are worse than anyone else’s because they’re happening to you – and well-played against the backdrop of tragedy and loss that has been Tim Drake’s life these past few years (Hey, they actually mentioned Stephanie for a change! That’s a step in a good direction). I dropped this book after the initial Batgirl storyline; not because of any dissatisfaction with the book (especially since I hate the gimp-mask Batgirl), but because I needed to drop some books somewhere and this just didn’t make the cut. But some stuff I read has ended (or is ending soon), and this book does seem really good, so maybe I’ll just have to start catching up.
*Robert Kirkman’s brief Captain America run, while fun, doesn’t count, since it’s connection to the story essentially amounts to a single panel where someone says to Cap, “Jeez, sorry about all that unpleasantness with the Avengers.”