Archive for 2011

Songs of the Year (Ladies Edition‽)

Posted by on Saturday, 31 December, 2011

“Ladies Edition,” because after I realized that music is about attracting women, and women like, shall we say, lame music… I realized that to find anyone who is rockin’ these days, one probably has to turn to one of two groups who supposedly are not musicians merely to attract women. Namely, Christian and female artists. (Or both?) Or something. Or maybe when I am looking for music, I just tend to click on the videos that have a pretty girl in thumbnail? Whatever, I have a lot to get through here this time. Not all of these will be women, but at least a few might actually be from 2011.

Paranoid Android – Weezer A cover of a ’90s song by a band from the ’90s? I thought this would be an instant winner. Then I listened to it. They did nothing interesting with it. Also, there are no ladies in Weezer. Coincidentally, a friend pointed me to another version that someone edited together from clips of three dozen other Youtube artists. It’s amazing.

On the topic of Youtube covers, here are several that I enjoyed this year:

Smooth Criminal – 2Cellos I never realized how bad-ass cellos are.

Chop Suey – Vika Goes Wild (2009) After hearing this, it is hard to imagine that Johann System von Down ever intended it any other way.

Bad Romance – Lissie (2010) The story goes that back in 1970, Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, unaware that he had a game that day, dropped some acid (like you do). The mistake was realized, and he went on to pitch a no-hitter. I am reminded of that story as Lissie here seems to have rolled out of bed and into the studio, hungover and wearing yesterday’s clothes, and then proceeds to OWN this song.

All I Have to Do is Dream – Lauren O’Connell Here is another entry from last year’s winner. I was sold in the very first second of this video when she sets an EBow on a piano. I was under the assumption that an EBow had to interact with the pick-ups on an electric guitar in order to work and it never would have occurred to me to try that. (I do not really understand that electromagnetic field stuff.)

Cut Here – Psychée (2010) When I found this song several months ago, I intended to mention it as basically the punchline to a post that I never ended up writing, so that is not particularly relevant anymore. Maybe you will enjoy it anyway.

Feel Good Inc. – Josie Charlwood This is easily the best solo live-looped Gorillaz cover by a left-handed redhead that I have ever heard.


On to the real(ish) stuff then, shall we? Honorable mentions first.

Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2010) That’s right, I went there. Even though this was not released in the calender year of 2010, it was still in the top 10 of Youtube’s music section at least as recently as October. I even heard this song in a grocery store in the French Alps (true story). Not exactly my cup of tea, but I feel that this is a step in the right direction for pop music; with that direction being about 40 or 50 years backwards. It is on the album 21. Her previous album was called 19. I am not sure how old Ms. Adele is, but I strongly suspect her of not being very creative with album titles. However, she has a powerful set of pipes, as they say, and I wish the best for her and the future of pop music.

Walking on Air – Kerli (2009) This came up a couple of times while listening to Pandora, and I rather liked it. I had assumed that it was some late ’80s/early ’90s electronic band, which I seem to get a lot of on there. It turns out that she is actually a sort of “Lady Gaga lite” from just a couple of years ago. I usually listen in mix mode, so I am left wondering which of my actual preferences triggered that pick, but hey, it worked I suppose.

Sail – Awolnation I was driving home one day thinking about how rock music tends to use the same handful of chords in a few standard keys and how there really are only so many possible chord progressions available. Though it seems absurd mathematically speaking, perhaps we really have run out of new variations in terms of melody and instrumentation on a practical level. And as I am thinking through this, I suddenly am hit with these pizzicato strings followed by… some stuff… and think, “Well, this is different.” I am not sure that I like it, and even less that I understand it. It seems like something that might be playing in the elevator of a mind that is descending in to madness. It is kind of fun to say though. “SAIL!”

We Don’t Need Money to Have a Good Time – The Subways I saw a reference to this band online somewhere and I had to look them up, because I had never heard of them. So I do not know how well known they are. These kids have a passion and energy that gives me hope for the next generation of musicians, perhaps for the first time. Their music is… let’s go with “not terrible.”

Burgundy – Warpaint This all-girl band was featured on Youtube sometime this year. They seem to have been influenced by the same bands that I like myself. Their songs are all kind of similar though, with haunting, faraway vocals that I find almost impossible to grab on to. I am not sure what the drummer is doing on this one as the tempo and feel change several times in a not particularly fluid manner, but I picked it because burgundy is kind of like purple.

I Will Dance (When I Walk Away) – Katzenjammer This all-girl band… plays instruments. Lots of instruments. They trade them around for different songs and play two or three at once. This song is what I would call “bluegrass”, but they also dabble in rag-time, blues, and, uh, good ol’ fashioned drinking songs? All those old time genres about which I know nothing.


So that is a lot of stuff, none of it really, you know, “great”, but what’s this?

All I Ever Wanted – The Airborne Toxic Event I know that most of my music picks are pretty crappy, and all I can say is that has been because music itself has been pretty crappy, but Oh My God. I heard this song on the radio. The actual radio. This song contains heavy adult themes that quite frankly, I am surprised the teenagers can identify with, but what do I know? Anyway, I do not want to oversell it, but I REALLY like this one. Interestingly, they have other songs on the album named All at Once and All for a Woman, so apparently they are really into totalities. Oh, and they have a female violin player, so there’s that.

Movie Review Sans Title #3

Posted by on Sunday, 18 December, 2011

You guys are supposed to guess the movie, was that not clear? Or do you just not like guessing games? I like guessing games.

I was looking forward to this movie for a long time. Almost bucket-list level anticipation. Did it meet expectations? Perhaps not quite, but it was still good. Most of the main characters are some combination of marionettes and puppets. It seriously pushes suspension of disbelief into overdrive, because it is never explained what these creatures are supposed to be or where they come from within the movie universe, and then on top of that, they repeatedly break the fourth wall.

Unfortunately, a lot of the gags were given away in the trailer, but there are still some very fine and unexpected bits in the movie. See it. Relevant.

Timoth Hates Music (Holiday Edition!)

Posted by on Friday, 16 December, 2011

Towards the end of the year (or whenever), people often mention how much they enjoy Christmas music. I always wonder what is wrong with them, because, theology aside, that crap is like sandpaper to my eardrums. It was not until this very week that I finally realized that we might not be thinking of the same thing.

It occurred to me that when people say that they like Christmas music, they probably mean Christmas carols. “Silent Night”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Little Drummer Boy”, that kind of thing… sure, who doesn’t like that? (I have honestly heard multiple atheists admit a fondness.) What I was thinking of was Christmas pop music. “Holiday music” really. The drivel that they play on the radio and in stores this time of year. I would list examples of the songs that I can not stand, but it would be a very long list indeed. So let me put it this way: “White Christmas” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” are fine. That is pretty much it.

In particular, I realized that songs about Santa Claus are pretty obnoxious across the board. Upon further reflection, I even realized why. Santa Claus is a significant element, yet not really the “true spirit” of Christmas. As such, any song about him is almost inherently irreverent tongue-in-cheek, which is a difficult genre to do well. And of course, since there are relatively few Christmas songs to choose from, pretty much anything gets repeated play every year.

As an aside, several years ago I noticed that while Christmas songs used to be about joy and family and tradition, it seems like those released in the last twenty years or so are all about being alone and miserable on Christmas.

My point is, I know that I am all over the map religiously and politically, but can we at least keep the Christ in Christmas music?


Posted by on Friday, 9 December, 2011

It occurred to me a while ago that, as the old saying goes, I actually do “dress for the job that I want to have.” Although “want” can be a tricky word sometimes.

Then I was thinking that, as the song suggests, I pretty much do “live like I am dying.” Though I am most certainly not interpreting that in the spirit in which it was intended either.

Recently I have been hearing a radio commercial for some kind of medical/health product or service in which the fellow concludes by stating that he wants to “leave this world exhausted.” I feel that in my case, there is also no question about that.


Posted by on Friday, 2 December, 2011

Black Friday was last week. I have heard the stories and always wonder why anyone bothers to leave their house that day. I am told it is because of “the deals!” I was actually working for most of the day, but I did come home for a couple of hours and checked out some of these “deals” online.

As I may have mentioned, I have been wanting to get into buying guitars as an investment, but as yet have been reluctant to pull the trigger on anything. There is a certain series of limited editions by a well known manufacturer out now that have caught my eye, and as I had hoped, the guitar megastore was having a Black Friday 15% off sale. So I actually had a guitar picked out, added to my online shopping basket and credit card in hand… but when I entered the promo code, the price did not actually change. I then checked the restrictions on the offer and found that “Some manufacturers have chosen not to participate in this promotion,” and there was a list that appeared to include every brand of which I had ever heard. This is why I hate that store. Screw those guys.

Now you may be thinking that my mistake was in trying to shop online on Black Friday, when any savvy shopper knows I wanted “Cyber Monday.” I do not know where this Cyber Monday thing came from, that sounds to me like a total fabrication by online retailers. But in any event, I did check back on Monday, and again there was a deal (I do not recall if it was the same 15% or not) and again it featured the no-brands-you-know restriction. Of course there are lots of other places to buy guitars online, yet none of the others felt the need to even waste my time with phoney promotions. (Which may reflect well on their potential for my future business, were it not for what I am about to tell you.)


On another note, earlier this week this week, I also had a revelation. There has something that has not made sense to me for quite awhile now. Given what we know about timoth:

1) He hates leaving the house
2) He hates spending money
3) He loves the internet

If he is going to buy something, how does timoth feel about online shipping?

I would have made this a question if I ever made a second quiz, but I will just tell you: I hate online shopping. Absolute last resort. Most of the time, if something is not available locally, then I would rather not have it at all. Or else I tell myself that I will order it “later” and then never do, which is more or less the same thing.

Of course, I have ordered things online in the past, just not recently. In fact, I can not actually remember the last time I did. So perhaps this hatred has intensified over time. And it does not make sense to me. I have tried to rationalize that I just feel more comfortable having the product in hand before I pay for it, which makes a certain amount of sense, except when you consider that I use a credit card for most things and therefore I am technically not yet paying for it at the time of the transaction, but that is getting a bit abstract.

For some reason, perhaps I heard something on the radio about supporting small business, I was thinking about how much I prefer local business as a concept, but that behaviorally, I prefer the anonymity of big box stores. Most people seem to like personal customer service, but it freaks me out if I walk in a store and someone asks if they can help me. (But that is just me, you guys that do not have crippling social anxiety should definitely support local businesses.) So anyway I was wondering (again, still, furthermore), if that is the case, then why do I not embrace the even greater anonymity of shopping online?

I do look at online stores quite often, and I probably check that online auction site at least a couple of times a week. I just never buy anything. Yet, I pay my bills online, I bank online, I even buy things like plane tickets and charitable gifts online, so it is not that I do not trust the security of online transactions or anything like that. I simply will not buy anything that needs to be shipped to my house.

That is where it dawned on me: for whatever reason, it seems that I do not trust shipping companies at all.

I admit that it is totally irrational. I do not know where it even comes from, as I can not think of any problem I have had in the past in that regard, but there it is.

Now, at some point you must have been wondering how I can talk so much about never shopping online when I started the post by talking about very nearly buying a guitar online… Yet, I left out a key detail. I was going to buy it online, but then pick it up at the store myself. Of course, one could point out that it would still have to be shipped to the store, but then everything in the store had to have been shipped to the store and really that is on them and not my problem if something gets damaged, but then do I really trust those charlatans to inspect and NOT hand over a damaged product… I most certainly do not.

Anyway, I did not actually buy it, now did I?

Movie Reviews Sans Title #2

Posted by on Friday, 25 November, 2011

A couple of months ago I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie that confused me. How is that movie not out yet? I have been seeing that movie AND its sequels in the Redbox, well, for about as long as Redbox has been a thing. They are based on a series of popular books, but I had no interest at all in either book or movie until I saw this trailer and began to investigate. It turns out the upcoming movie was the American version, while the DVDs that I had previously encountered, like the original novels, were in Swedish. Americans are not known for their fondness of subtitles, but someone thought that these movies were compelling enough to drop into local convenience stores and supermarkets? NOW I was interested.

As for the movie itself, it was excellent. Oh, it definitely is not for everyone. For one thing, it does involve a lot of reading. Moreover, the translation seems odd in parts. Not that I am any kind of expert; the only Swedish that I know is “Börk, börk, börk!” and I do not even know what that means. But the characters in the movie use the word “mördare” several times, and the subtitles always read “killer” despite the fact that the word sounds a whole lot like “murderer.” Come on guys. A word that sounds like “fantastic” came up twice, once early in the movie and oddly translated as “excellent”, and then toward the end of the movie, this time translated to “fantastic.” Hmm. A couple of times a character would say perhaps one syllable, and the translation would be a whole sentence, and I felt that I was missing out on some of the slanginess. I realize that these are pedantic complaints, but things like that interfere with my suspension of disbelief.

Perhaps more importantly for a general audience, this movie is a thriller that does get pretty graphic in parts. Nothing really over-the-top, but still a lot of people are not into that. Also, upon reflection, it did have a rather linear narrative. Several sub-plots were hinted at but not really explored. The book is probably much better about these, but when is it ever not? I had absolutely no idea what the story was about before I started, which I personally find tends to help my enjoyment of a movie considerably.

I do not have very high hopes for the American remake, as I expect them to throw a lot of money at it and focus less on things like “plot” and “dialog” in favor of “action” and “cinematography”. I feel that the distinct lack of subtlety in the song choice for the trailer does not bode well. But that is different movie.

Late is the Hour

Posted by on Monday, 21 November, 2011

I had a dream in which a young lady, whom I once pursued unsuccessfully, joined my Bible study group along with her husband. (Or perhaps, became part of the social circle that grew from that study group, as the study itself disbanded years ago.) She came from a large family and she and her husband now had two or three children of their own. Apparently I look sufficiently different enough now that she did not recognize me as the person from years ago, and in my shame, I did not feel the need to remind her.

At some point, she confided to me and two or three others that she was planning to leave her husband in order to pursue an intimate relationship with one of her own brothers. I was not particularly a fan of her husband, considering he had been successful where I had failed. (At least, for a certain definition of success and failure, it would seem.) Yet somehow, it fell to me to try and explain why this was a horrible, disgusting plan; and I had to do it respectfully, without judgement, and using Biblical support.

Deux Aimes

Posted by on Sunday, 13 November, 2011

The title of this post is a multi-layered bilingual pun that I happened to think up today which has nothing to do with anything. I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

I have felt for a long time that at some point, if things get bad enough, if I become miserable enough, then I will make some dramatic change to completely abandon my comfort zone and forsake my entire lifestyle as I know it. I believe this, because it has happened before.


Remember, Remember

Posted by on Saturday, 5 November, 2011

As part of the financial unrest going on, someone declared today to be National Bank Transfer Day. It all had something to do with Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot and V for Vendetta, which I do not totally understand. The goal was to transfer your money from the “too big to fail” banks and into a local credit union. I had wanted to participate myself, but unfortunately, one thing I hate even more than my bank is leaving my house.

However, there is a certain financial institution that sends me a lot of junk mail.


Posted by on Saturday, 29 October, 2011

For some reason, today I was thinking about my old Bible study group and how we never really discussed anything important. We talked about the Bible, obviously, but there was some kind of unspoken agreement never to mention anything controversial, and not to talk about anything personal. It simply wasn’t done.

At first, I did not care. I was only there to learn about the Bible anyway. But somehow, I lost sight of that. I started to see that group as “my people”, except that I was definitely NOT one of “their” people. That was where it all went wrong. How exactly did that happen?

I remember very early on, I heard someone on Christian radio talking about how Christians have a tendency to spend all their time amongst other Christians instead of sharing the Gospel or whatever among non-believers. I thought that was absurd. I had a particular agenda that involved spending a lot of time at church, but I certainly was not going to forsake my friends for THOSE people.

But then, I did not have to. As it happened, around that same time, all of my close friends moved out of state for one reason or another. With my family already spread around the world, it was not long before I too was spending all my time among Christians. Except that I was not myself a believer. I went from not caring that there was no depth in my Bible group to desiring for it to remain so, because I had secrets to hide. Even though it has been several years since I decided that I could not live like that anymore, that deception is something that I still struggle with when I find myself among Christians to this day.