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Alex
Postdated Informational: Beware and be forewarned.  
All posts prior to 8/29/05 are friends-only, and many of the posts afterwards are friends-only. I could go completely friends-only again at the drop of a hat. DROP OF A HAT. If I know you and you're not on my friends list and you want to be, just leave a comment here.

For a long time this journal was named cspariah. This was changed on 3/15/07.
 
Alex
Location: El Segundo
Mood: OK
 
2013 was the year I really stopped writing in LiveJournal. This isn't a good thing -- even though Facebook has utterly replaced it for socializing there's still a lot of value to a personal journal. Like, for one thing, keeping track of my yearly mantras.

So since I still have 3 minutes to go on this download, let's write one for 2014.

"Balance."

Trying to find balance between wife, work, exercise, life, friends -- all the things I want to do but I know I don't have time to do all of them all the time.

Or maybe I just need to discard some land.

balance

My previous years' mantras:

2003: Don't sing it -- bring it.
2004: No regrets.
2005: No matter where you go, there you are.
2006: I'm gonna see the cow beneath the sea.
2007: The last 30 years were just practice.
2008: Stay on target.
2009: Survive and thrive.
2010: Powerlevel.
2011: This year goes up to 11. Unity.
2012: Responsible.
2013: More light.
 
Alex
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: OK
Music: HTDA
 
(In case you haven't seen this already on the "relevant" social media sites...)

So, interesting news. As of yesterday my time at Magic Pixel Games has unfortunately come to an end. There's no bad feelings on either side and wish everyone at the studio the best of luck.

The timing may turn out to be serendipitous... Just one month ago I finished my Masters in Business Administration, and I was starting to think about ways of applying that knowledge to the video game industry. It strikes me that not many people working in the finance side in game publishing have any hands-on development experience. Could be opportunities there. If any of you reading this have any thoughts on that topic please drop me a line.

For reference, my LinkedIn profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/alexbeckers/ and my resume can be found at www.cusp8.com.
 
Alex
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: great
 
OK so this is pretty awesome. My studio, Magic Pixel Games, just shipped its first iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch game, Stick to It! It's a cute one-button physics puzzle game, and honestly I'm really excited about it.

Even better, it's free to download between now and Saturday night, at which point it goes up to its retail price of $1.99 for the combined iPhone/iPad app.

I'd really love it if all of you who have Apple devices could download it and take a look, and like I said it's free. :)

Stick to It!
 
Alex
When the future becomes the present  
Location: Westchester
Mood: awake
Music: Daft Punk - Derezzed
 
OK so back when I started at Turbine I friends-locked everything in my journal. Everything. The last thing I needed was some AC player angry about a perceived nerf to find my journal and start bringing my personal life into the debate. And I wanted to have a post at the very top of my journal so if you clicked on my account you got a message saying, hey, this is friends-only, leave a message if you want me to add you.

Since then they've implemented "sticky" posts which will do this automatically but at the time the best way to do it was to postdate an entry so it would always be the "most recent". So I picked a date in the future that I thought would be funny -- right before midnight on 12/21/2012. End of the world, right? (If I'd bothered to do any research I would have set it right before 11AM UTC, but hey, what can you do.)

That was nine and a half years ago. And now, here we are. I have to find a new date for post-dating my "hey a lot of this is friends-locked" entry. What's the latest date that LJ will let me use? 12/31/2037. Awesome. (It's probably related to the Unix Year 2038 problem -- just like the Y2K issue, a lot of clocks are gonna have a problem at 3:14:08 UTC on Jan 19 2038.)

Post-dated post is now further post-dated.

Happy new b'ak'tun everyone!
 
Alex
dreamlands of ice and fire  
Location: Westchester
Mood: good
 
So yesterday I accidentally opened a Christmas present from my dad -- the new collection of maps from the Game of Thrones books, The Lands of Ice and Fire. This is a great gift because a) I love the books and the HBO show and b) I love maps.

This new product is especially awesome because it depicts places that have NEVER been fully mapped in the books before, like Qarth and the entire Dothraki Sea, and Asshai-by-the-Shadow. As you start going east it starts getting really weird. But then, it may not be literal. George R.R. Martin has said "The idea was to do something representing the lands and seas of which, say, a maester of the Citadel might be aware... and while the maesters know more about Asshai and the lands beyond than a medieval monk knew about Cathay, distance remains a factor, and past a certain point legends and myths will creep here. Here there be winged men, and such."

Here's what I find especially amusing: the Lovecraft references. It never really clicked for me that Ibben, aka Ib, an island nation north of the Dothraki Sea, could be a reference to the Beings from Ib in "The Doom that came to Sarnath". But then, looking at the destroyed cities in the Dothraki Sea... there's Sarnath. And hey, down south of Qarth... there's an island called Leng. And east of the crazy mountains, north of Asshai... there's Carcosa, by the Hidden Sea (which I'm sure some call Hali). And just a little north of there... K'dath. Is it in cold wastes? Maybe.

So here's the question... if the legends of the maesters are correct and these places can be reached by traveling east... does that mean that Essos borders on Earth's Dreamlands? All these names are from HPL's dream stories, or from stories that have dreamlike qualities (Carcosa). Or is it just GRRM messing with us?

Anyways, these maps are friggin' awesome.
 
Alex
Just when I think I'm going to get back into using LJ regularly, the site introduces this new butt-ugly default friends page. It's in beta, and it's opt-in for now, but it seems likely that this is the future of the site. Blech.
 
Alex
Business on the brain  
Location: Westchester
Mood: OK
Music: Front 242 - Circling Overland
 
Last night for my Business and its Environment class I watched The Smartest Guys in the Room, a documentary about the rise and fall of Enron. The documentary was just OK -- they kept using unnecessary music backing, and had this whole bit about one executive's fondness for strip clubs that was totally unnecessary -- but it was still fascinating. It really stuck in my head, I had dreams about using mark-to-market accounting to create millions in imaginary profits.

And then this morning I wake up and see this headline on the front page of LATimes.com: Manipulation of California energy market gives consumers a jolt. JPMorgan Chase is being accused of using loopholes in California's energy market to score $100 - $200 million. Cute. And the best part is that if they had just taken LESS profit, they most likely wouldn't have been caught.

Energy markets... I have trouble wrapping my brain around them. I mean I understand bidding on electricity based on supply and demand, but in the end when it comes down to the consumer level 1) There's really no alternative and 2) The average consumer has no idea how much he's using. So if demand spikes and supply declines, price spikes and local providers either take a bath or pass on the costs to surprised and unhappy consumers, right? I'm trying to think what other commodity is handled this way... natural gas, I guess? Water?

(And also -- wtf was up with Enron's plan for a bandwidth marketplace? I can't grok that at ALL. Bandwidth isn't like electricity, you can't re-route it off one pipe to another, it IS the pipe. Obviously I'm oversimplifying but I still don't get it.)

Anyways speaking of natural gas, the latest Economist has a special report on just that topic. And oh, again with the global marketplace. OK, so a lot of European providers have long-term contracts with Gazprom, the Russian natural gas behemoth, to buy natural gas at rates that are pegged to oil. Which made sense at some point in the past, but is looking pretty insane now as oil is at $100/barrel and natural gas is plummeting in a lot of markets thanks to shale gas. So anyways, meanwhile America starts thinking that the local demand for gas is going to start outstripping the supply, so we build a bunch of LNG receiving facilities and Middle Eastern countries build LNG exporting facilities. Then we figure out fracking and BAM we've got more natural gas than we know what to do with. So the Middle East has these LNG tankers with nowhere to go. They send them to Europe, and the providers that aren't locked in to the Gazprom contracts snap the LNG up for way cheaper than the oil-pegged price. Now the guys who DO have Gazprom contracts are just hosed because they're locked in to buying the stuff at prices way higher than their competitors. Good times.

Here's the thing though: Gazprom recognized the problem and is renegotiating the contracts because they recognize that making less money is a better option than having their clients go out of business. This is sort of like OPEC... OPEC can spike oil prices basically whenever they want, but they recognize that doing so could push the world into recession, driving down the demand.

Compare to Enron, who just TOOK and TOOK and TOOK from the California electricity market despite causing rolling blackouts and massive harm to local providers and consumers.

Anyways. Done with this class as of Friday. Then I get about six weeks off, and the day after Labor Day I start my last two classes. Come February I WILL BE A MASTER. (Of business administration.)
 
Alex
Five years ago today was LiveJournal Zombie Day. That was fun.
 
Alex
Location: Westchester
Mood: annoyed
 
Kayla's roommate really wanted to see the Grammys, and they don't have broadcast TV in their apartment, so they came over to our house last night. I don't remember the last time I watched the Grammys, maybe never, so it was kinda fun.

There was a time that I kept track of pop music even though it's not my interest. Clearly that time has passed.

Anyways, here's what bugged me: they recombined Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Metal Performance.

History: In 1989, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences created a brand new category, Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, Vocal or Instrumental. The nominees in 1989 were Blow Up Your Video by AC/DC, "Cold Metal" by Iggy Pop, Nothing's Shocking by Jane's Addiction, ...And Justice for All by Metallica, and Crest of a Knave by Jethro Tull. Metallica performed at the Grammy awards that year, and everyone assumed that they would win. Instead, when Alice Cooper and Lita Ford announced the result, it was... Jethro Tull. The audience booed. The band wasn't even there as they didn't think they had any chance of winning, and Ian Anderson (the front man for Jethro Tull) later said that he couldn't have accepted the award under those circumstances.

Anyways, this was infamous in the metal community. The very next year, the Academy split the award into two categories, Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Metal Performance. There's been some crossover, with Metallica winning Best Metal six times and Best Hard Rock once (for "Whiskey in the Jar") but in general the two genres have been well defined. Best Metal is where you saw bands like Ministry, Slipknot, Pantera and Korn get recognized for their work.

Here: The last five winners for Best Hard Rock were Wolfmother, Foo Fighters, The Mars Volta, AC/DC, and Them Crooked Vultures in 2011 who beat out Alice in Chains, Ozzy Osbourne, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. The last five winners for Best Metal were Slayer (twice), Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden in 2011 who beat out Korn, Lamb of God, Megadeth and Slayer.

So yeah. This was fine.

But the the Academy decided that there were just too many darn Grammy categories! Not sure why, I mean they only ever showed a tiny handful on TV. But for whatever reason they merged the two categories back together again! Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance. The same category that caused the Jethro Tull / Metallica kerfuffle.

And what happened yesterday? Foo Fighters beat out Dream Theater, Mastodon, Megadeth and Sum 41. Why are Foo Fighters and Mastodon in the same category? Because they had to recreate this awful hybrid. But Foo Fighters are popular and Mastodon is not so no one cares and Dave Grohl takes home another shiny award. I think he recognized the situation though, he was wearing a Slayer t-shirt.
 
Alex
just playing devil's advocate here...  
Location: Westchester
Mood: ok
Music: Ministry - Purple Haze
 
...is there a valid economic reason to have long term capital gains taxed at a significantly lower rate than ordinary income? Are we specifically incentivizing investment here? I'm not sure. Lets say we taxed long term capital gains at a higher rate than ordinary income... what would that do?

OK, I'm not really playing devil's advocate so much as just thinking "out loud." Because they're not really comparable, right? It's not like people are choosing between working or investing, right? Even if they had the exact same tax rate, investing is better because you don't have to go to work, but it's only available to people who already have enough money.

What if the LTCG rate was significantly higher than the ordinary income rate? Would this force people who are currently living off their investments to have to find a job? Potentially. Would this remove that money from the investment pool? No, because what else are they going to do with it?

Maybe the question isn't comparing the LTCG rate against the ordinary income rate, it's comparing the US LTCG rate against foreign rates? We want our rates low to keep that investment money local? But no I don't think that's it either, because US citizens pay taxes no matter where they get their income, right?

Someone who's studied this more than me, what am I missing? Why exactly is the LTCG rate so freaking low? What's the benefit to the national economy?

For point of comparison the MAX LTCG rate is 15%. If you're filing singly, you'd need to have an income of less than $33,950/yr in order to have your highest marginal tax rate be that low.

So yeah. I see the inequity. A married couple with an income of $70k/yr is paying 25% on the top 2k or so of their income, whereas a billionaire who makes a cool million on long-term investments pays 15% on that. Why?
 
Alex
Location: Westchester
Mood: good
Music: Silversun Pickups - Well Thought Out Twinles
 
It's funny. For a team that just a month or so ago I was cursing as being not very good -- this was when they were 5-3 and just lost back-to-back games against the Steelers and Giants -- the Patriots have a really plausible shot at a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Now, keep in mind that the last two seasons the Patriots were one-and-done in the playoffs, losing at home both years. I haven't seen a Patriots playoff win since they beat the Chargers in the AFC Championship on Jan 20, 2007.

But man, how spoiled am I to even be complaining about that?! I was thinking about this yesterday at the dentist. (I think about football when I'm at the dentist. It helps.)

Although both my parents are football fans, I didn't really start paying attention to football until the early 90s. I got hooked on Cyberball at the arcade, and Herzog and I got asked to be the two statisticans for our high school football team. Even still, I don't remember much of the Patriots those years... probably because they were pretty awful. I only have two solid pre-90s memories of the Pats. The first was when they made it to the Super Bowl in '86 and got obliterated by the Bears. I don't think I watched the game, but I remember how stoked everyone was, first for the AFC championship game against the Dolphins, ("Squish the fish!") and then going into the Superbowl. I remember the radio station I woke up playing a song, "Beat on the Bears". Everyone was very excited, and then everyone was very sad.

Then in '89, Columbus Day weekend my mom took me along with our friends Sherry and Richard Blott to see the Pats host (at "Sullivan Stadium"), and beat, the Oilers. This was a pretty big upset at the time, and it was extra special (in retrospect) because Boston hero Doug Flutie started for the Pats. I really didn't appreciate it at the time, one because I didn't appreciate football and two because I'd stayed up all night at Kevin's house, playing D&D and other games with the whole gang. (This D&D night launched a number of horrible inside jokes that are STILL AROUND 22 years later.)

OK so I start paying attention to football in '91 or so. In '91 the Pats went 6-10, 2-14 in '92, and 5-11 in '93. That's high school. No wonder I don't remember it. (What do I remember? The Bills and their three consecutive Super Bowl losses!) The Pats rarely sold out the stadium during this period, so local games were blacked out and Mom would listen to them on the radio.

Then I head off to college and the Pats go 10-6 and actually make the playoffs, losing to the Browns in a wild card game 20-13. This was the first year with Bob Kraft as the owner, and Drew Bledsoe's second year as a starter. They backslid in '95 with a 6-10 record, none of which I remember.

1996 was the first season of football that I can really remember. I didn't see much of the Pats because I spent the fall on my term abroad in Prague. I managed to see one game a week or so by going to this ex-pat bar called Club X, but it was rough because the "early" game went until like 9 or 10pm. (Club X was also the place I saw Rocky Horror while I was in Prague -- no shadowcast, sadly.) I think I might've seen one Pats game during that time.

Anyways, the Pats went 11-5 and won the AFC East. They hosted the Steelers in a divisional playoff game that took place while my dad was driving me up to Schenectady to start winter term. The first Patriots play was a screen pass to Terry Glenn who took it 52 yards to the 2 yard line. I remember my dad and I yelling while listening to the radio broadcast. Pats made it to their second Super Bowl that year, but everyone knew they were lucky that the Jags upset the Broncos in the divisional round, leading to the Pats hosting the Jags for the AFC championship instead of them traveling to Denver. I remember watching the Pats / Green Bay Super Bowl in the Ludlow lounge (Pats lost, thanks Desmond Howard), right outside my dorm room, and from that Super Bowl forward I can tell you where I was and who was playing for every year.

Since then the Patriots have only had ONE season when they were worse than .500, the 2000-2001 season, Belichick's first as head coach, when they went 5-11 and came in last in the AFC East. From the start of the 1996-1997 season until today, that's 16 total seasons, the Patriots have had 175 wins and 79 losses. They've made the playoffs 12 times, won their division 11 times, made it to the Super Bowl 5 times and won 3. (And hey, this season isn't over.) That's just SICK. I do wonder, would I have become such a hardcore fan if I'd grown up in, say, Cleveland? Or some other city where the team has been just average as opposed to exceptional?

Since 2001, only four AFC teams have made it to the Super Bowl. Patriots four times, Steelers three times, Colts twice and Raiders once. (Remember when the Raiders were a team to be feared? Not so long ago.) In the same period no NFC team has gone more than once.

Man the sunset is pretty today.

Anyways my point is really just to remind myself that I have been an incredibly lucky football fan to develop my appreciation of the sport at the same time that my hometown team was experiencing this insane stretch of excellent play. And to remind myself not to be too snotty when I say things like, "Man, our defense is just awful, we're gonna get murdered in the playoffs." We won the division! If we beat Miami and Buffalo -- at Foxborough -- we'll be the #1 seed! This is awesome! So what if I think we won't make the Super Bowl, and if we do we'll just get murdered by Green Bay or the Saints? So what? The Pats are having another awesome year, and I should be grateful.

I am a spoiled football fan.
 
Alex
Location: Westchester
Mood: tired
Music: Stone Sour - Wicked Game
 
So like many Americans I've been upset about all the American companies that are sitting on piles of cash while laying off personnel. It's pretty clear that the economy needs more demand-side help and that requires more jobs, not fewer. So how dare these companies just sit on their money?

Then I took a corporate finance class this semester.

Here's the problem... companies are only going to invest money in projects that have a net present value with regard to inflation and the cost of capital. What this means is that no company is going to make an investment -- in a new project, in hiring personnel, in buying equipment, in making an acquisition -- unless they're going to make a % return on that investment that's greater than inflation and greater than just investing the money in easily liquidated securities.

NOR SHOULD THEY.

Because investing in a negative net present value project is effectively throwing away the money of the owners of the company, the shareholders. Why should the company invest their money in a project that's going to do worse than just stocking it away in a money market account? Why would the shareholders want to do worse with their money than a low-risk low-return investment?

Unfortunately these NPV projections are predicated on a slow recovery. A slow recovery that could be kicked up a notch if all these big companies started investing simultaneously. But that's a huge gamble. IBM doesn't want to make an investment in a project that is only +NPV if Microsoft, Google, and Apple also make investments in projects that are currently -NPV.

It's the tragedy of the commons. By all of these companies operating in their own best interests, they all -- and we all -- suffer.

That's why government stimulus is so important. Done properly it can spread that demand-side help around the entire economy, increasing the NPV of these projects and convincing the companies to invest again.

So while there are a lot of reasons to rage against big companies -- the obscene bonuses, CEO pay vs. worker pay, lobbying for more tax cuts and subsidies, oh the list is endless -- raging at them for holding onto their money instead of investing it in a losing venture isn't one of them.
 
Alex
tweaking the signal  
Location: Westchester
Mood: quiet
 
Just migrated all off my RSS feeds off here and over to Google Reader. Also deleted several friend connections, communities that have grown silent, people I haven't spoken to, or haven't written on LJ, or both, in years.

You'll note that despite me still carrying the fire, so to speak, I made one (1) post in October.

Looks like it's time for another HERE'S WHAT I DID OVER THE LAST FOUR WEEKS post that I will write only for myself.
 
Alex
OK so in the last two weeks or so...  
Location: Westchester
Mood: married
 
...I drove to Las Vegas and had a bachelor party. Then I went home and got married, in a lovely ceremony where the weather was a little hotter than we wanted but no one seemed to mind too much. The reception was crazy fun and almost everyone seemed to have a great time. We watched fireworks. Everyone looked spectacular. The DJ spun kick-ass tunes. Not everything went flawlessly but it didn't matter.

Then Gina and I flew to Tahiti where we spent seven nights in south Pacific luxury. It was awesome.

Now I'm back at work. A little more tan, pretty relaxed, and married to the best woman there is. In your face, space coyote!
 
Alex
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: annoyed
 
I do love Blood Bowl but I have to remember not to click on the chat bar if anything is happening in the game. I was 2 turns away from a 4-0 win over a halfling team when it crashed on me.

The fourth score was (going to be) especially awesome. In the cpu opponent's desperation, he had one of his treeman pick up the halfling with the ball and heave him down field. Right into one of the other halflings. They were both KO'd and the ball bounced into the hands of my rookie blitzer, who ran towards the end zone and threw a perfect pass to my witch elf, who was about 5 paces from scoring when it crashed.
 
Alex
And in Blood Bowl news...  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: amused
 
...in the Shere Khan Memorial League, the dwarfs of the Oldhammer Clan defeated the undead Quasadu's Minions by a final score of 1 to nil. The dwarfs scored first, but suffered a number of injuries near the end of the first half. It looked like the undead would score in the middle of the second half to push the game to a draw, but the skeletons and wights fumbled repeatedly when trying to pick up the ball! In the end the dwarfs held on to the lead, but one of them will need to miss the next match -- against the skaven NIMH-Rods -- due to broken ribs. The Oldhammer Clan moves to 2 and 0 in the cup challenge, while Quasadu's Minions drop to 0-1-1.
 
Alex
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: resting
Music: Cake - Hem Of Your Garment
 
I made this Pandora station by feeding it Cake, Sugar, Frank Black, Soul Coughing and Meat Puppets. I love it.

Anyways so yeah E3 happened this week. I spent Monday (and Tuesday, prior to the show) watching press conferences. Missed Konami the week earlier. Quick thoughts. Oh, and an lj-cut to save your scrolling.Collapse )
 
Alex
30 day song challenge: day 21 - a song that you listen to when you're happy  
Location: Jefferson Park
 
All caught up! Songs that I listen to when I'm in a good mood... just grooving along, all is well, aww yeah kinda stuff, hmmm. Oh! Here's a fun one that not many people will remember... Jellyfish's "The Ghost At #1":

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: days 18 - 20  
Location: Jefferson Park
 
Day 18: A song that you wish you heard on the radio. Someday I look forward to hearing Zombie Surf Camp on KROQ. Until then, I have to make do with YouTube and hopefully seeing them live in June. Here's "Bonesaw" from when we saw them record for X1FM back in May of '09.



Day 19: A song from your favorite album. "Favorite album" is such a hard thing to nail down. But, hey nails, I'm going to stick with the album that most blew me away in the last decade or so, Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero. My favorite song is probably still "Zero Sum", but in terms of just getting my energy up it's hard to do better than "The Beginning Of The End":



Day 20: A song that you listen to when you're angry. Anthrax, "Room For One More". GGRRRRRAAAR.

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: days 15 - 17  
Location: Jefferson Park
 
Day 15: A song that describes you. I could totally overthink this but I'm gonna use a song that has also been one of my yearly mantras. It definitely reflects my penchant for going full-speed into whatever random thing my brain thinks up. TMBG, "Cowtown". I'm gonna see the cow beneath the sea. What does that even MEAN?



Day 16: A song you used to love but now hate. Again, I don't hate songs, blah blah blah. There are definitely songs I don't like as much as I used to though! Here's one -- "Cannibal Song" by Ministry.

(Interestingly if there's a category for "songs I used to dislike but now appreciate" that'll be a much bigger category!)



Day 17: A song that you hear often on the radio. Oh! Oh! This is perfect for me to ask a question! How the hell did "Bound for the Floor" by Local H become a timeless song for the ages? You all know this song, it's the one that goes, "And you just don't get it, keep it copacetic." It's not a regional thing like "Anything Anything" by Dramarama, I've heard "Bound for the Floor" pop up like once a month on radio stations on both coasts. I don't get it! It was never a huge single, it did hit #5 on the Billboard Alternative chart in December '96, but if you look about half the songs in the top 10 have disappeared from radio airplay entirely. When was the last time you heard "Angels of the Silences" by Counting Crows or "#1 Crush" by Garbage on the radio? And yet "Bound for the Floor" just sticks around, 15 years later. I just don't get it. Keep it copacetic.

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: days 12 - 14  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: okay
 
Behind on this, as I am on so many things. Going to do three posts in a row of three days each, then a final post for the May 2 song.

Day 12: A song from a band you hate. Man what is up with the haterade? I don't think I hate any bands. There are bands I don't like, but I'll just turn them off, hate isn't worth it. I dunno, I guess I'll pick a song from a band I almost never listen to and would never see live or something. Hmmm.

Ah, OK, here's a good one. I really don't like Lamb of God. I saw them once, I got free tickets to see them and Fear Factory play in Worcester, and I like FF. I thought FF was headlining so I screwed up and missed half their set. Man, who went with me to that? Phatmike, maybe? Anyways, Lamb of God started to play and I really didn't like them.

But I do like the track they had on Guitar Hero II, "Laid to Rest".



Day 13: A song that is a guilty pleasure. Heh "Laid to Rest" fits in this category too... but no, let's go truly absurd. As much as I acknowledge that it's not good music, I do really enjoy listening to Bolt Thrower from time to time. And not their later, more polished albums either. No. This is off of 1989's Realm of Chaos - Slaves to Darkness. I give you "Through The Eye Of Terror":



Day 14: A song that no one would expect you to love. Ha, man, I've been waiting for this. OK, so there's this weird little subset of my musical library that got created during a stretch of like 2001-2003, when I was working at SSgA. I would get up in the morning and eat breakfast while watching MTV, because at 7AM they would actually play music videos! It was mostly hip-hop and pop, but I dug it anyways. Helped wake me up. And then I would track down an MP3, which is why I have like one Mya song in my library, one Wu-Tang song, one Dream song, etc. But here's one of the more obscure ones -- "Ugly" by Bubba Sparxxx:

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: day 11 - a song from your favorite band  
Location: Jefferson Park
 
Heh, well, I've already posted songs from Ministry, Anthrax, NIN and TMBG (ok, not TMBG technically but John Linnell), which are four of my favorite bands. But you know who I haven't posted yet? Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Here's one of my favorite Cave tracks, "Papa Won't Leave You Henry".



Man, I love that guitar at the beginning.

It's kinda funny when I think about it... this album was released in 1992 when I was in high school, and I would have LOVED this in high school, but I didn't know anyone who'd even heard of Nick Cave until he toured with Lollapalooza in '94. "Do You Love Me" got some airplay on BRU, but I forgot about him until a couple years later, when "Red Right Hand" was on the Songs in the Key of X soundtrack, and I discovered Murder Ballads in the WRUC studio. And even THEN I might not have really fallen in love with his music if I hadn't roomed next to Eric Wizotsky my senior year, who loaned me this album, From Her to Eternity and The Good Son. The earliest one of those albums came out in 1984! I would be a very different person if I'd started listening to Nick Cave when I was EIGHT. I'm trying to imagine young teenage me moping around and singing "Well of Misery".
 
Alex
30 day song challenge: day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep  
Location: Jefferson Park
 
I don't know of any songs that actually MAKE me fall asleep. There are some songs that I associate with falling asleep, because I had the CD playing late at night when I was half-asleep. I guess the best one would be Chris Isaak's album, Forever Blue. This album really relaxes me -- when I had to have an MRI on my knee and lay down in the big magnet tube, they let me play a CD -- and I chose this one. Here's a song that just makes me remember lying in the dark, "Graduation Day".

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: days 08, 09  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: okay
 
Day 08: A song that you know all the words to.

I don't know why it's this one. But this song has stuck in my head since I first heard it back in '94 or so. "Maaaah love has always been bliiiiiind!" Anyways it didn't make a lot of sense until I finally watched Twin Peaks, oh, TWELVE YEARS later or so. "Black Lodge", by Anthrax.



Day 09: A song that you can dance to.

Hmmm. What's a song that always makes me get up and shake my booty? Oh, here we are. "Pump Up The Volume" by M|A|R|R|S. I think this was actually the first dance song I ever liked. This song really led to my much later musical tastes in dance and industrial music.

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: days 04, 05, 06, 07  
Gina and I flew to New England for an engagement party that my mom threw. So no posty. Maybe I write about the weekend if I'm not too busy. (HA)

Day 04: A song that makes you sad.

I had to think about this for about one second. "Magician" by Lou Reed. This is off Magic and Loss, an album he released in '92 after two of his good friends died. Pretty dark album, but seriously beautiful.



Day 05: A song that reminds you of someone.

"Alles Neu" by Peter Fox. There's no way I can hear this without remembering Gina and I watching this video in Europe. Zurich, I think.



Day 06: A song that reminds you of somewhere.

"Lady in Black" by Uriah Heep. I'm sure I've told this story somewhere on here once before, but when I did my term abroad in Prague in '96 I listened to this radio station that primarily played American classic rock/golden oldies. Really cool mix of music from the 60s through to the 80s. They would do all-Beatles nights, all-Rolling Stones nights, etc. I developed a much greater appreciation for several artists through this station, like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. But this song just haunted me from the first time I heard it. For a while I had the lyrics in my .plan file on Union's main UNIX box, unvax. (Or maybe that was on my .plan on VU's box, I don't remember.)



Day 07: A song that reminds you of a certain event.

Really this one and day 06 are sort of interchangeable because of time and space being sort of intrinsicly linked. But for this one we'll go a little further back to 1993, and a school trip to Mexico.

"Gave Up" by Nine Inch Nails.

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: day 03 -- a song that makes me happy  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: nauseous
 
I'm trying to think of a song -- and I know they exist -- that is just full of joy. No posturing, no attitude, no whistfulness, just joy. My brain is going to the softer side of my music collection -- Weezer, TMBG. Ah, OK, here's one that definitely works. It's too bad that the quality of this version is so bad -- the music is the best part and it's way low in this.

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: day 02 -- my least favorite song  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: good
Music: Rise Against - Savior
 
When I saw other people doing this one, I wondered what I'd post for this. My least favorite song? My least favorite song is one that I have forgotten because it had no impact on me. There are songs that I actively dislike because they're catchy saccharine ("Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors) or because they hurt my ears (some King Crimson, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music) but I don't even think of those songs most of the time.

What I settled on is a song that's on an album that I otherwise really like, but which stands out in its awfulness. It's so bad that back in college would choose to play this CD on my PC instead of my stereo because I had my media player programmed to ignore this one track.

Plus I mean it's just DUMB. Offensive for the sake of offensive is dumb. If you want to swear a lot, at least try to have a point -- see "Startin' Up A Posse" by Anthrax. It's too bad about the lyrics because otherwise I actually like the guitar riffs at the beginning.

So anyways, I give you "K@#Ø%!" by Korn. Don't listen to this one at work. Or, really, anywhere.

 
Alex
30 day song challenge: day 01 -- my favorite song  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: OK
 
Gonna see if this inspires me to post more on LJ, or if this will just be Yet Another Abandoned Project.

Man, my favorite song? My favorite song? Is such a thing possible? My music tastes are so diverse, and what I choose to listen to is so dependent on my mood, that it's hard to find one song that rules the rest, one that I would always enjoy listening to no matter what. I actually did a search of my LJ archive for the word "favorite song" just to see what keeps coming up.

I admit, I did have one song in mind, one song that pretty much always gets my energy up. Not the best for all situations, no, but in terms of just pure energy I think there is one winner:

"Burning Inside" by Ministry.



The embedded video isn't the official video, obviously, you can see that here, but I prefer the version of the song in the one I embedded. The official one is probably worth watching just because, dude, what the hell is happening. It's an amusing snapshot of late 80's/early '90s industrial.
 
Alex
The Dog That Came To Visit  
Location: Jefferson Park
Mood: awake
 
Gina posted on Facebook yesterday about the dog that mysteriously showed up on our porch, and my dad asked for a follow-up so I figured I'd post about it here on LJ and have it cross-post to FB.

So yeah, Wednesday night we had one of Gina's co-workers and her fiancee over for dinner. We were going out onto the porch and Gina stops and says, "There's a giant dog out here!" Low and behold there was a wet dog sleeping on our glider. Looked like a pit bull mix, and it was not super friendly but not super aggressive either. It looked exhausted. I've seen lots of dogs in our neighborhood before, but that wasn't one of them. He had a choke chain on, but no tags.

We weren't sure what to do, and we didn't want to kick it out in the rain, so we decided to let it sleep there overnight and see what happened in the morning.

Morning came -- dog still there. It looked either super tired or sick because it could barely move. Gina went off to work and I called animal control when they opened at 8. The woman there took down all my information and said that an animal control officer would be by "between 9 and 5." Well gee, that's really helpful.

I put out a bowl of water for the dog to try and be helpful. The dog reciprocated by throwing up on the glider. Awesome.

I checked back periodically to see if it was still there. Around noon, just after the mail came, poof no dog. (There's probably a causal relationship there.) So I took a hose and sprayed down the glider and porch, and just when I was thinking, "Well, alls well that ends well I guess," the dog comes strolling back up the sidewalk.

He was a lot friendlier -- I let him sniff and lick my hands, but he still didn't want to be petted. I wasn't sure exactly what to do -- I didn't want him roaming around the neighborhood and using our porch as a home base. I decided I'd try and get him to the county animal shelter, which is like a mile and a half away at 11th Ave and Exposition.

I brought my car around from the driveway, and saw the dog trotting north up Arlington, on the sidewalk. I followed him north, and then east on 28th St, and he started walking towards a guy bringing some groceries in. I stopped and asked if it was his dog, he said no, and then he helped me try and get the dog into my car. I wasn't sure if this was the best plan, but I couldn't think of anything better. But the dog wanted none of it. He'd get a little close, but as soon as we made a move he took off running east on 28th.

At that point I gave up, I couldn't chase the dog around Jefferson Park all day. If he comes back, I'll try again with the car/animal control.

Speaking of animal control, an officer called me back at FOUR -- eight hours after I'd called them. I was driving towards Santa Monica. "So, uh, the dog doesn't appear to be there anymore." WELL GEE I WONDER WHY NOT. Awfully helpful these guys.

It rained again last night and I was half expecting to find him on the porch this morning, but no.