Thursday, August 30, 2007

An example of my non-hipsterity

All right, I'll just come right out and say it: I like the Rembrandts. (hops deftly onto soapbox)

What's that, you say? The guys who did the Friends song? The one they played 800 times an hour on every radio station in America during the summer of 1995? What the hell is wrong with you???

Well, I'm here (or herre, as Nelly and my sausage fingers would say) (Nelly and the Sausage Fingers would be a great band name) to tell you that the Rembrandts are about way more than "I'll Be There For You" (which, as I just learned from a little all-knowing oracle I like to call Wikipedia, was originally offered to They Might Be Giants, of all people). In fact, they didn't even really want to put it on their album coming out that year, but there was so much pressure from fans and the label that they eventually had to tack it on as a bonus track.

Anyway, this now comes up because I recently re-discovered them... after my 14-year-old self bought the album with the Friends song on it solely for said song and discovered that I actually liked the other songs on it OK, I went back and bought their first two albums and liked them OK too. Unfortunately, then they split up for a bit and one of the guys released a TERRIBLE album as "Danny Wilde + The Rembrandts" which ruined the franchise for me forever... at least, so I thought at the time. But I just learned the other day (also via Wikipedia) that they in fact reunited and released another studio album in 2001 called Lost Together. I was dubious, but a sense of nostalgia and a few reviews swearing up and down that this album was a true return to form, much better than that "Danny Wilde + The Rembrandts" crap, were enough to convince me. I ordered a copy, and you know what?

... It ain't half bad. No Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper, perhaps, but it's pretty good. The first two tracks are very catchy, as is another located somewhere in the middle. The production throughout is excellent... very crisp, so all the parts stand out from each other *just* enough to create a nice, nuanced polyphony. But not overproduced, no no... there's still a bit of rawness there. And there's not a droner in the bunch... even the non-standout tracks are perfectly acceptable examples of 2-man singer/songwriter type acoustic rock.

At any rate, I know these guys are going to be another Chumbawamba (not just one-hit wonders! not just one-hit wonders!) for me, but I wanted to take a second to recognize these guys for writing some decent songs in their time, even if they were overshadowed by one enormous (and admittedly, insanely catchy the first 12,000 times) hit. Next time, I will not be so quick as to drop a band from my radar the first time they stumble.

And if a hipster thinks he's too cool to ever like the Rembrandts, you know what? His loss.

(hops off soapbox, nearly stumbles over point-undermining pile of albums including selections from Matchbox 20, Hootie and the Blowfish, Avril Lavigne, and the Spice Girls, but manages to catch balance by grabbing onto a nearby copy of a hipster-envy-inspiring Corn Mo CD and sticks the landing)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


man, what a great shirt. so nerdy!

edited to add: hipster olympics!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Scars, etc.

Tonight, Dani and I were discussing the fact that the last word of the series was not "scar" as originally foretold. For anyone interested, here's the scoop:

Also, in searching for that answer, I also came across a fanpage where people were invited to write their own endings to the series, with the only provision being that the last word was "scar" (this was before news to the contrary came out). Naturally most of them were terribly written, but I loved the following:

...and then Harry fulfilled his new dream, of becoming a driver for NASCAR.

Posted by Steven Evangelista from new york, ny on June 22, 2007 12:30 AM

Oh, Steven Evangelista from new york, ny. You are quite the wit.

PS, most of the people on that forum seem to have had the same idea I did... that if the last word WERE scar, then it would be somehow indicating that the scar disappeared when Harry ceased to be a Horcrux (although my way... with someone asking "Harry... where's your scar?" or somesuch... was way more subtle than most of them).

And regarding my recent foray into Potterhood... I still maintain my position that they are good-not-great as literature (as I have mentioned before, it reminds me of the situation in Stranger than Fiction wherein Karen Eiffel is poised to write a GREAT work of literature but doesn't have the stones, and in the end it is just OK). And I still think that Lord of the Rings is far better epic, and Chronicles of Narnia is far better allegory. But now that I have invested the time to read them all (which I have to admit was worth it, if only to be part of the pop-culture phenom that was the last-book frenzy), I may as well put my long-dormant obsessive-analysis English major skills to work.

Anyone want to read Finnegans Wake next and we can analyze THAT?


I hate to interrupt all this Harry Potter stuff (which I will respond to in a moment, and which makes me happy to talk about, yay) to announce that Owen Wilson tried to kill himself!!! NOOOO HANSEL--there's so much more to live for! Like being really really ridiculously good looking!

The Boy speculates that drug use might be behind it. I feel bad for the guy--so much success but still so unhappy? Yikes.

welcome to the (hot pink!) social

sure, they're giving them out like candy here, but hey -- it's a 30GB mp3 player that I got for FREE just for being part of this new-MBA-in-a-marketing-position program at work. I'll probably switch back and forth between zune and my 2GB nano until one comes out the clear winner, but at this point the FM tuner, ginormous memory and video capabilities (zune 3, nano 0) are starting to outweigh the bulkiness factor (zune -- slightly bigger than ipod video -- 3, nano 1). I'll keep you posted...

comments on HP continued

This was going to continue being a comment to the earlier post, but it got so long I figured I'd turn it into a new thread. Here goes...

Sorry to steal Kat's thunder... I guess it wasn't so much that Harry-as-Horcrux was patently obvious... but if you went on the Intarwebs and read the speculation after HBP, the idea had spread like wildfire by the time I got around to reading the book. So I still give you credit for coming up with the idea on your own before reading other people's conjectures.

I would have liked to see either 1) Neville kill Voldemort, 2) Neville kill Bellatrix (as k mentioned), OR (as I have mentioned to Dani) 3) Prof. McGonagall kill Bellatrix. The latter being because I think she is the female second-in-command foil to Dumbledore as Bellatrix is to Voldemort, and though the scene with Mrs. Weasley is nice enough, I think in terms of literary structure it would be better poetic justice if either McG or Neville did her in.

I did think the action was great starting around page 500 with the beginning of the Battle of Hogwarts, and that had better look awesome in the movie or I'm demanding my money back. I was less enthralled with the 300 pages of camping scenes. Those will be sharply reduced in my remix edition of the books. (Somewhere in here there is a joke about parallels between the Harry Potter books and the Ernest movies... Prisoner of Azkaban = Ernest Goes to Jail, this one = Ernest Goes to Camp... I'm sure there are more.)

I'm OK with Tonks and Lupin dying, but I don't think it was really necessary either way. As Dani noted, it would probably be too big a blow to the Weasley clan if both Arthur and Fred (I think it was Fred who died and George who lost an ear, right?) died. So if Arthur died, I think we'd have to get back Fred... and literarily I kind of like the idea of having the twins get split up (I can't really express why) and Teddy (who even in the phonetic similarity of his name, I think is pretty intentionally supposed to mirror Harry) orphaned. One nice thing about the latter is that it provides nice parallels/resolutions to the fact that Harry was orphaned in the first place, and that his own godfather was killed, simultaneously by virtue of having him become the godfather to the orphaned Teddy.

Re: Dani's question as to Snape: I agree with Cassie Clare that IF the only two choices are really 1) Snape was always good or 2) Snape was always bad, then you have to have it be #1. No question. However, again I would have preferred something with a little more surprise/subtlety, such as 1) Snape was always bad, but redeems himself at the last second (a la Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi) or 2) Snape was always good, but nearly ruins it all in a moment of temptation. (Example imagined scene: He temporarily gets ahold of the Resurrection Stone somehow, perhaps through Voldemort, and is given the opportunity to bring Lily back [just like the character in the legend] if he kills Harry or acts as accessory to such. He turns the stone over and sees her, and nearly gives in, but seeing her causes him to remember her sacrifice and allows him to overcome temptation at the last second. THEN Voldemort kills him.) Or some sort of trickery such as when Snape killed Dumbledore, they really had their roles reversed via Polyjuice Potion or some crap like that, although maybe that would be hokey unless you could figure out a really great way of pulling it off.

BTW, enjoyed Cassie's review... I particularly agreed with her that the quest for the Horcruxes and Hallows should have been folded into the narrative much earlier, even if it wasn't revealed until book 6 or so what the full story was behind these objects. And it would have been much better structurally... as they are now, books 1 through all but the end of 4 are basically like, "Hey, kids! It's another wacky year at Magic Camp!" and the real myth/epic is all crammed into (mostly the last 100 pages of each of) books 5-7.

And in answer to Cassie's question about why it was that Lily's sacrifice was the only one to protect from the A-K curse, when certainly other people had died for their loved ones before... I always assumed it was something like the light side of the Horcrux creation (i.e. a kind of magic that can only be invoked when you voluntarily sacrifice your life), in the same vein as the deeper, older magic of which the White Witch was unaware in Lion/Witch/Wardrobe, that which allowed Aslan to return to life. Is this in keeping with others' thoughts? But it would have been nice if there had been something in HP7 that explicitly revealed that she used this magic or knew about it.

Finally, for those who didn't get it the first time, I'll recopy my complaints and revisions of the finishing-off of Voldemort for your consideration:

"I had forgotten this, but Wikipedia has thoughtfully reminded me that Harry didn't really kill Voldemort... the A-K curse rebounded on him b/c the Elder Wand was loyal to Harry. Now, even if we are accepting the fact that Harry came back from the dead [which I still think is a cop-out, though I think it would sit better with me if it were presented in a dreamier, fuzzier, more out-of-body-experience-was-that-even-real? sort of way that cut out some of those pages of dialogue], this does not satisfy me.

"Anyway, this is what I propose. Harry comes in, more or less as written, except that he has managed to grab the ring with the Resurrection Stone back as he comes out of the forest, thereby tying up that plot hole (as anyone familiar with the Lord of the Rings or Wagner's Ring Cycle knows, a powerful ring, if lost but not destroyed, will always be found again). Voldemort still has the Elder Wand at this point. So Harry gets it somehow... let's say Voldemort points the wand at him and tries the A-K curse, but instead of the way it's written in the book (hits Harry's spell, bounces back, and kills him), the spell just fizzles. He refuses to believe Harry was right (in the needlessly long number of pages of dialogue between him and Harry that have just transpired), and tries again. Again, the curse refuses to fly out of the wand. Harry (with Draco's wand) then casts an Expelliarmus (so we still get this, which happened in the book, and I think is a nice touch as we mentioned). The Elder Wand flies out of V's hand and goes directly to Harry, smashing the wand he won from Draco in the process (I think this is kind of nice as it has symmetry -- Harry became the master of the wand by disarming Draco but did not actually get the Elder Wand, and now as it returns to him it destroys the wand he actually got from Malfoy) (also nice as if you assume Malfoy to be an evil foil to Harry, it parallels the damage to Harry's own wand earlier in the book).

"At any rate, however it plays out, Harry is now carrying all three of the Hallows -- thus he is presumably truly the master of death now if you buy the legend and/or if you assume he deserves this from sacrificing his life previously (I think this is also a nice touch -- that SOMEONE gets all three Hallows at some point). Voldemort, now desperate, either gets another wand from somewhere or uses his own original wand (I forget if he still has it at this point) and tries one more time (a third time, which I think is a nice magical number) with the A-K curse. Now the curse rebounds (I like the idea that the Elder Wand acts half on its own and Harry casts an unknown protective charm without actually speaking, but this point is negotiable), and Voldemort is knocked down, disarmed, and weakened, but not killed. Thus, to some extent it mirrors their first encounter -- but this time V is defenseless and Harry is at the height of his power. Harry expresses regret that it has to be this way, but knows that neither can live while the other survives, etc. He raises the Elder Wand and says "Avada-" (I think this would be the only time Harry uses the killing curse, right?) -- but before he finishes, the wand again acts on its own and completes the curse for him. I sort of like this b/c it adds some ambiguity to Harry's character -- i.e., he is willing to use the A-K curse (which is nice with all the symbolism of part of him being in Voldemort and vice versa) -- and he is more active in killing Voldemort than is written, but in some sense he is not fully responsible, as he never actually completes the curse, thus symbolizing how fate has to some extent forced his hand in this regard.

"Subsequently, Harry uses the Elder Wand to destroy the Resurrection Stone (I think this is allowed according to the rest of the myth in the book), and as already written, he also uses it to fix his own wand, then re-buries the Elder Wand with Dumbledore and keeps only the Invisibility Cloak. Thus (wow, I only just realized this parallel and have officially just blown myself away), just as at the end of the very first book where he got the Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone from the mirror (i.e., he got the stone because he needed it but had no desire to use it), he proves himself to be the worthy master of all three Deathly Hallows solely by virtue of his willingness to give up the title.

"Much tidier, I think..."

Can't Stop the Rock?

In reference to the title of ^kat^'s last post, I give you:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

voldemort can't stop the rock

Though I made note of it at That Other Blog, I figured I'd let y'all know that I have vanquished HP7, and lo, it was good.

And I want to talk about it. Pretty please? Erica? Matt? Dani, did you finish it yet? hooray for wizards!

Monday, August 20, 2007

"boo google" and other computer-related things

more fun, unbloggable-from-work things:

microsoft tries its hand at package design (the unconfirmed rumor is that this video was actually created by MS employees)

a parody of an awfully cool but downright impractical new MS product (the real commercial's here)

also, I'm not purposely ignoring your comments to my previous post (or dani's phone call -- hi, dani!) -- the "boo google" part refers to the fact that Google Reader, which I use to compile the blogs I follow, doesn't display comments, so I've been missing out on entire comment conversations. (what? read the actual post? bah!) and dani, one of these days I'll call you back, but I've realized that I will never be available for a social phone call during your weekday waking hours, unless you want me to call at 10pm EDT, which is about when I return from work. there must be a way around this...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

the internet is for craziness

...wait, have *any* of you seen "avenue q"? 'cause otherwise the subject line's not going to make any sense. see it today! now! *whip cracking*

anywho, I've been running across interesting articles at work, but since blogging about non-work things at work (and using the competition's blogging service, even) would probably be ill-advised, I've been collecting them to post from home. prepare to be...well, maybe not wowed, but at least mildly amused:

AT&T bills suck for all phones, but I prefer to blame this craziness on the awesomely awesome but way too expensive iPhone, and

thanks to an ingenious hacker, wikipedians (and, by extension, the rest of us) can now tell when you edit your own entry (and add poop jokes to others). whoopsies.

A quick shout-out...

... to my Canadian homeys for making some high-quality music. As probably none of you know, I'm going to a wedding in Toronto this weekend, and in honor of the trip, those riding in my car are going to be listening to an all-Canadian playlist on the way there and back.

For all those interested, all the Canadian music I either own or have stolen juuuust barely fits on my 2GB iPod Nano (after I threw out most of the live stuff, since that tended to duplicate studio material, but before tossing a few podcasts I hadn't listened to yet). So I put it all on there, both the artists we love (BNL, Moxy Fruvous, the New Pornographers, etc.) as well as some that most of us probably don't care for much but I still had lying around (Nickelback, Avril Lavigne) and a little stuff that I didn't really know anything about but was still there (Rush).

All that is over 24 hours' worth of music, but I took some time (probably more than I should have) to cull out the good stuff and put it into a "Best of Canadia" playlist... ~100 songs out of ~500 all told. I'll let you know how it's received.

Interesting fact: Corey Hart, a Canadian of "Sunglasses at Night" fame, was offered the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future but turned it down.

Also, if you're ever bored, feel free to mosey over to Wikipedia's list of Canadian bands and the accompanying list of Canadian (individual) musicians, and find out which of your own favo(u)rite artists are actually secretly from our frigid neighbo(u)r to the no(u)rth. Or just read the band names... there are some doozies in there. Perchance I shall go through again and list some of my favo(u)rites when I get some more time.

Hmm, that wasn't such a quick shout-out after all. Oh well... off to bed with me.

PS to Dani: I have finished two Harry Potter movies and have the other two here at home waiting to watch as I work out... so hopefully I will indeed be prepared if you are planning to see #5 sometime soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Enormous P*nis

I'd just like to note that somehow, in all these years of listening to Da Vinci's Notebook, I only just recently noticed that one of the little throwaway lines at the end is Bernie singing, "My meat is murder." Which I think is awesome.

Also, I like the fact that, as Wikipedia notes, the fans of Paul and Storm are called Paul and Storm Troopers.

Dani, to save you the effort of saying it, I'll go ahead and say: ... huh? So here's something for you (and you, and you, and you), once you've finished HPVII: More on what happens after the final book.

Monday, August 13, 2007

this one goes out to my pedantic friend Matt

keep it up, and you could be president...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

more iPhone fun, via the Boy

The question everyone's dying to ask... Does it blend?

uh oh...

sorry, Dani, but there will be a little more ickiness in the world come December:

Tim Burton and [Icky] Helena Bonham Carter Expecting Second Child

Just a quickie...

... to prove that I still exist. So much to blog, but so many other things that are theoretically a higher priority...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

sooner or later, you're gonna use some math

YAY! It's online, at LAST:

I seriously, seriously love this song. I just wish it were longer. Larry Cedar is my hero.

Bonus cut:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

if it's the space needle, it must be...

seattle! quickie update: I'm here, my apartment is great but not yet photo-ready, work starts tomorrow (eep), etc. etc. for a longer update, go here.

I miss you guys!

Friday, August 03, 2007


I know many of us are regular readers of the Onion, but just in case you missed it...

Activision Reports Sluggish Sales for Sousaphone Hero

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

harry potter and the cheap chinese knock-off

didn't get enough harry potter in book 7? well, a whole bunch of chinese authors are doing their bestest to earn money publishing their own (totally unlicensed) installments...

no spoilers, I promise