Saturday, October 31, 2009

I don't get it

Every time I watch a cop show on TV, and they're walking through dark areas with their guns drawn, the officers will hold the gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other.

Why is that? Don't they make something where you can mount a small flashlight on top of their pistols? Would a device like that throw off the firing mechanics of the gun and prevent them from being accurate? Do they do this so the gun is easily holsterable in case it's not needed (for example, if they find a missing person who needs medical attention and the scene has been cleared)? Or maybe it's to have the ability to blind a suspect without having to point the gun at him/her?

Can ANYONE explain this to me? Please? Kthnxbai.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Am I nearing extinction?

I'm considering a trip down to the Twin Cities this weekend because, well, just because I can. I got this Friday off. No plans for Halloween yet. Why not?

I proceed to e-mail my friends down there to see what everyone else would be up to and if they'd want to get together. And... let's just say the responses have been less than... Plentiful...

This happened the last two times I planned a trip to the Cities. And it's got me thinking. Have I become an IT dinosaur before I even turned 30? Just because I'm still trying to use e-mail for personal purposes?

I can picture it now. Schoolchildren walking through a museum and approaching a Fritzasaurus Rex, as the teacher explains "He died out because he didn't adapt to new techology in his day. He made phone calls instead of sending text messages. He didn't like the taste of Facebook or Twitter. 'Paul' didn't evolve or procreate, so he just passed away quietly, because the others couldn't hear his roars."

Make sure you get some good pictures of my skeleton and my ancient iPod classic when you're visiting my display.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

If you've ever checked out my music collection, you may be thinking "Wow, this guy is all over the map. He has a little bit of everything." Probably more like "Who the hell listens to X AND Y AND Z? How can he like all those? They just don't belong with each other." Something along those lines.

How did we get here? I'm glad you asked. I'd be happy to walk you through it.

I have almost no loyalty to bands. In my mind, you're only as good as your last album. The slate gets wiped clean when the new release hits stores. Then I do my research. Listen to the songs. Compare prices. Maybe read some reviews (though I don't know why, I'd like to decide for myself and don't care what anyone else may think). After you're presented your case, I pass my judgement.

It's a roughly exponential scale, where the rating of an artist is equal to the log of the amount of time and money I'd be willing to spend on that artist in my lifetime to the base of some unknown number x (it's somewhere around 10, but it doesn't really matter because it's not an absolute value; just an example to get my point across). If you're not as mathematically inclined as I am, this will make more sense as I explain the ratings.

Level 0: I'm either indifferent to an artist (because I've never heard of you) or I don't like (possibly even hate) them. I'm not buying your music. Maybe later. Maybe NEVER. Just not now. And if I hate you, I'm going to avoid you like the plague. You'll get nothing and like it.

Level 1: Congratulations. You've got a good song. That's about it. I'll add it to the list, and either purchase it individually online, or wait until a compilation album/soundtrack comes around with it on there. I may even LOVE the song, but I'm still not buying your album.

Level 2: Nice work. There are at least a couple of good songs on your album, so I'll buy it. I'm only going to listen to those songs though. I may have tried to listen to the album, but found myself pressing the Next button most of the time. But hey, you got $10 ± 4 from me. Can you really complain about that?

You can reach Level 2 if you have multiple Level 1 songs on an album, but it's no guarantee. If I don't care for you, I'll avoid buying your album and only pick off the good songs. For example, I wasn't willing to buy TLC's greatest hits album, but I liked "Waterfalls" and "No Scrubs". What did I do? Just buy those two songs on iTunes. We're done here, you can go now. Go on, get!

Level 3: You reached level 2, I decided to give your album a chance, and I admit, it's solid. Most of songs are pretty good. I like it. I could start warming up to you. Don't forget we reset the scores after the next record comes out. You may have won Game 1, but it's a five/seven/nine-game series. It's not over yet; you've still got work to do.

Examples of Level 3's: "Throwing Copper" by Live, "Modified" by Save Ferris, and Show and Tell" by Silvertide.

Most soundtracks and compilation albums will fall somewhere between Levels 2 and 3, depending on how many good songs are on it, as a percentage of total songs on the album.

Level 4: Sweet. You have multiple albums meeting the requirements for Level 2. At this point, I'm starting to like your band. I may or may not state that publicly; it could be embarassing to me. You may have 2-0 or a 3-1 lead in this series, but you haven't WON anything yet. You could fall apart at the end, and all I'll be talking about is how you blew it. You still need to keep the momentum going, or I'll kick you back down to Level 3. Perhaps even Level 2 or Level 1.

Examples of Level 4's: Audioslave, Sheryl Crow, Eminem, Linkin Park, Reel Big Fish, Yellowcard. You get the point. Check out the complete list of songs in my collection and you can figure it out.

Level 5: Multiple albums meeting the Level 3 conditions. I officially like you. Heck, I may even LOVE you. At this point, I'm looking to buy additional merchandise from your group. Maybe some shirts, posters, DVD's, etc. You're looking at a triple-digit income from my spending habits. It takes a lot of hard work, and some luck, to get here. You should feel good about yourself. Even if you release a not-so-good album, you'll probably stay here.

Examples of Level 5's: Barenaked Ladies, Everclear, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, John Mayer, The Offspring, Staind.

There's a number of bands stratling the line between 4 and 5. They include blink-182, Nickelback, Saliva, Sum 41. But all is not lost if you're stuck in this limbo. If I'm starting to consider you for promotion, I'm looking to buy concert tickets if/when you come to town. But you DO have to come, and when you do, the price has to be right. For example, Saliva played in Fargo in Sept. 2007, and tickets were $10. It was an amazing show, and I ended up buying two of their albums that night after it all was over.

Level 6: The pinnacle. Top of the mountain. This is unconditional love. I'll buy your new album without question. I don't even have to listen to any of the songs on it. I'm planning to buy individual songs that you've collaborated with other artists on. You're THAT good. I've also descended in obsession with you. Spending hundreds of hours online, looking for any information I can find on you. Videos, interviews, live performances, whatever I can get my hands on. 'Cuz I want to know everything. I sound creepy saying that, but I'm not sure how else I can explain how much I like your band.

Let's get one thing clear, though. YOU WILL NEVER GET HERE!! It's just not a realistic goal. That's like me trying to get to the major leagues of baseball; it ain't happenin'. Just look at Green Day, 5 albums with a pair of singles. Barenaked Ladies, 6 albums and a single. John Mayer, 5 albums, two of which are live double albums. These guys are very good, but they haven't quite made it yet. Will they? Will YOU? Anything's possible, but honestly... I don't see it. I just don't.

As of this date, only two groups have gotten this far in 15 years. Weezer and The Donnas. That's it. Weezer got there with the release of their Video Capture Device DVD in 2004. The Donnas only recently got here, after I realized that my "obsession" that began in late August was just me rapidly becoming a fan of them.

One last comment about Level 6. Brett, Brian, Torry, Rivers, Maya, Allison, Scott, Patrick (and if you're listening, Amy, Josh, and Karl). It's possible that you could get booted from Level 6. You may be league champions, you may have had a lavish victory parade, you may have that shiny trophy up in a highly-secured glass case in the entryway to your stadium. But guess what? You're going to have to defend that trophy next season. Good luck. You may be the favorites, but there's gonna be some people gunnin' for you. Just a fair warning.

That's how it works. How I approach the appreication and the acquisition of music. I know it really isn't one of those things you can quantify and rationalize. But I did, 'cuz that's how I roll. Where you really expecting any different of me?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friends in Low Places

Blame it all on my roots.

Nearly 4 years ago, I started playing World of Warcraft at the suggestion of a couple of buddies from college who had moved away from the Fargo-Moorhead area. It was great. I was able to interact AND play video games with these people on a daily basis, like we were still in school. Like they had never left.

I also met some new people through the game. Some were douchebags (I think we all know who they are...), but others were really awesome. Or, should I say, ARE awesome. People whom I can call and talk shit about for an hour. On a regular basis. AND they'll call me. Or we'll talk over IM. Shoot e-mails back and forth. About anything and everything. Make jokes, tell stories, open up to.

It still seems a little weird to me, though. These people are essentially complete strangers, whom I've never met in person (or only just once), but I feel like I can talk to them about things I couldn't with my other friends (no offense). They won't judge me. They totally accept me for who I am, which makes me feel great.

Friends like Chris, Clint, Cynthia, Duane, Kara (lots of love to all of you). Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for letting me into your lives. Thank you for being a part of mine. I don't know what I'd do without you. I hope nothing ever changes between us, because I don't want to lose you.

(My apologies to anyone I may have forgotten from Azeroth. And my apologies to my other friends as well. Please don't take this to mean that I don't love you, 'cuz you're just as special to me.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How exactly do you define happiness?

Over the last week or so, I've been thinking a lot about my own happiness. I've been feeling pretty good, even though not much has changed for me in the last month. I'm way behind at work, I still don't have a girlfriend, I haven't made much (if any) progress in moving down to the Twin Cities. I've started applying a new philosophy to life: "Fuck it, who cares?" I'm trying to not get worked up over the little things. Not care what people think. Just let it all happen, and whatever will be, will be. Take things one day at a time.

In general, I'm feeling better. More confident. More engaging in conversations with people, even those I don't much care for. But there's a nagging part of me that asks "Am I really happy?" IS there a difference between feeling happy and being happy? If not, why do I still have this empty feeling, like something's missing...?

I'm sure I'll figure it out soon. Until then, "Fake it 'til you make it."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I can't speak for him

"Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" - Rob Gordon, High Fidelity

I don't know if you ever came up with an answer to that question, Rob, but personally, I'd say I do the former. I use pop music to pick me up, with varying degrees of success. To get pumped up for athletic competition. To escape from the stress of work. To get my brain churning. To make me happy.

On the other hand, my pursuit of acquiring pop music makes me miserable. Well, maybe not, but it can make me unhappy. I put a lot of effort into buying CD's, getting MP3's, researching albums and bands, making sure I get the best deal possible. It drives me nuts sometimes. No matter how much progress I make, there's still more to be done. It's one of those finish lines that keeps moving further away from me as I approach it. I'm not miserable from listening to pop music, I'm miserable for WANTING to own pop music.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Now is the winter of our discontent

I don't ask for much in this world. A woman to love me. A job I don't hate. Enough money where I can do almost anything I want (within the limits of the law). Immortality.

But for now, I'd settle for a Minnesota Twins World Series Championship. Yes, it's happened twice in my lifetime, but I was 6 and 10 when they won it all. I don't remember watching any of those games, I have no memory of those wins. It's almost as if it didn't happen.

I've seen my football team win the Super Bowl. I've seen my hockey team win a Stanley Cup. I'd like to complete the trifecta in my adult lifetime. Philadelphia did it. St. Louis did it. Boston did it. Florida did it. Even the goddamn Chicago White Sox did it. Why can't Minnesota?

I'll do anything to see it just ONCE. I'll give up all my worldly possessions. I'll find God. I'll sell my soul to Satan. Hell, I'll even become a Vikings fan...

It's going to be a LONG and COLD winter...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How much longer will I have to wait?

When am I going to get my True Lies sequel? It's been 15 years now, it's WAY overdue. Arnold Schwarzenegger should be out of office in a couple of years. James Cameron has been talking to him about it the last few years. Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold could return as well.

But the biggest reason I want to see True Lies 2 would be Eliza Dushku. Watching her kick some ass on-screen, in nice outfits, saving the day? I'll pay full price to see that in the theatres.
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