Friday, April 29, 2005


Alright - so yesterday I believe I mentioned something about trying to post at around the same time each day - like sometime in the morning or so. Today, I proceeded not to do just that. Looks like that rule is out the window already. Screw it, it's my blog. I'll update it when I get to it... like right now.... at 2:45 on a work day.... Yup.

But anyway - look look look at the sidebar to the right! I was finally able to figure out how to add those little sections saying what I'm reading, watching, and listening to. Better yet, they have pictures AND links to where you can purchase them. Of course the question then becomes, do you care what I'm reading, watching and listening to? And do I care that you care? Like I said - it's my blog.... BUT here's something to make it worth your while. In the "Listening to" section underneath the link for band and album name, I've also included a
2nd link to a downloadable .mp3 track from that album. There will be a new track with each new album I throw up there. I'll have to toy with the layout a little bit as I think it needs a little tweaking, but it will suffice for now. I've started things off with "The Magnificent Seven" from The Clash off their album 'Sandinista!' Say what you will about the album (The Clash have done better, in my opinion) but that particular track is one of my all-time favorites. Enjoy.

Speaking of music, you are all familiar with iTunes, si? If not, basically it's an online music store run by Apple which lets you download individual songs for $0.99 or entire albums for $9.99. Anyway - Pepsi has a promotion whereby you look under their soda caps and, if you're lucky, you win a free song from iTunes. I've managed to accumulate 15 free songs thus far. Not only do the guys at work give me their winning bottle caps, but it's a little known fact that you can tell whether or not a bottle is a winner before actually opening it. If you hold the bottle up to the light and tilt it at such an angle, you're able to see whether it says 'Free Song' or 'Try Again.' I was doing this while at lunch at Quiznos today as a matter of fact, and I had to go through nine bottles before I found a winner. The counter help were looking at me askance and seemed very very concerned. At one point the gentleman making my sub stopped what he was doing and said, "What are you doing? I am very confused!" All I could do was chuckle and try to explain myself.... I don't really thing he bought it.....

But I digress. I now have 15 free songs and not a clue what to get with them. I already own many of the songs I would consider downloading but I love hearing new music and what other people are listening to. Therefore I'm opening it up to suggestions. You guys got any songs you love that are stuck in your head? Now's the time to share 'em. Those that I take will, in all likelihood, be featured in the aforementioned "listening to:" section in the sidebar - 2nd link and all.

All that said, I must now go back to being a productive member of the local workforce. Hope you all are having a swell day and enjoy the coming weekend.

[***UPDATE*** Oh yes, all this confusion over comments seems to be stemming from the fact that people aren't sure how to post them. Just an FYI - you don't need to be a registered member of Blogger to post a comment. If you aren't and would still like to post, select either 'Other' or 'Anonymous' under the "Choose an Identity" section of the comments.]

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Deeep Breaths

Feeling much better than I was after last night's post. Actually got a whopping 7 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, and was able to write some stuff this morning without my mind wandering all over the place. The day is off to a good start.

Couple of things worth mentioning today:

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time writing some rather long posts thus far in the early stages. I enjoyed writing them. I hope you enjoyed reading them, but I think it's getting a bit much. Not sure how you folks feel about being presented with a blog post longer than the total amount of print in the Boston Metro, but I can think of some stuff I'd like to do in part of the time it takes to write them - like watch 'Pimp My Ride.' (Kidding - but you know, me and one of the bus drivers at work who I share an office with submitted an application to get one of the school buses here pimped. Can you imagine? A bunch of timid Japanese girls riding down to Reservoir station in a pimped out ghetto blaster school bus on hydraulics? I'm still pissed we didn't get picked.) Anyway - if I'm going to continue doing this on an almost daily basis, some of my posts are going to have to be of the short and sweet variety. Otherwise, I'll quickly run out of stuff to write about and time to write it in.... not to mention lose my job. Worry not - the lengthy reviews, ramblings, and rants will still occur - just not with their regular frequency. I'm also going to try to post around the same time each day (probably mornings but don't hold me to it), and will be working on some of the site design over the next few weeks. If it looks REALLY weird from time time, it's not you - it's me. Moving on....

Tom Cruise is now dating Katie Holmes. Huh. First time I've ever been jealous of that man. Hopefully she'll come to her senses and realize that dating a Scientologist was idiot move #1. I mean, talk about baggage..... And no ladies, I don't want to hear it (every woman I know gets annoyed when I mention Katie Holmes and 'ridiculously attractive' in the same sentence. Never been able to figure that out.)

Any of you folks Tetris fans? Stupid question - I can think of at least three regular readers who have professed their addictions. Well - check out this game called Fulfillment, then. Basically you control the various shapes and have to arrange them so that they fit perfectly within the given square... Number of shapes and their dimensions gets more difficult as the game goes on... and oh yes, there's a time limit. Seems simple and stupid, but it's addictive as hell... kind of like Tetris.

That's all I got for now. Have a great rest of day folks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pass the Pesto

My head is POUNDING, and I'm desperately waiting for the Ibuprofen to take effect. If today's post seems a little off, worry not los guapos - it's just me hallucinating. I've just spent the last five minutes trying to think of another way of saying "it's been one of those days", largely because I loathe the expression and think myself above typing it in a blog. As you can see, I was unsuccesful. Yes indeed, today I was run through the proverbial wringer (sorry, did it again.) Woke up at 7:00 after just four hours of sporadic, uninspired sleep; wrote for 45 minutes about nothing - literally; went to work where I was inundated with "not my job" type requests only after I was able to actually enter the building - I encountered some difficulty due to wealthy parents blocking all the parking spaces with their Lexus SUV's (I work at a school); spent the day rebuilding a Celeron 400 eMachine (an eMachine!!) with Windows 98 SE in an office where the two occupants were barraging me with questions about my taste in women; got taken to task in that same office by one of the aforementioned occupants when she found out I was drinking gunpowder green tea (I believe her exact words were, "Uccchhh.... that's SO you." And yes, I drink gunpowder green tea. I rather like it as a matter of fact. I drink lots of tea... I like it better than coffee - less caffeine but still gets the job done. In fact, right now I'm drinking a Lemongrass herbal); ended up working late to finish up all the other tasks I didn't get to because I was working on that stupid dogbox of an eMachine all day; get home where I have huge piles of laundry waiting for me and which I'm now currently doing... and you know what? It is all good stuff, folks. All luxury problems. I have a job I can complain about (unless of course someone from there is reading this); I have a car I can park (when there are spaces); I have clothes I can bitch about washing; I have a bed I can have trouble sleeping on, etc... Many other people aren't as lucky. This is not a plea to help all the less fortunate around you - just a reminder that no matter how much you feel like bitching, it can always be worse. The everyday things around us are the treasures we take for granted. Remember that. And there, my friends is Uncle Eric's lesson for the day.

**And incidentally no, no one died or anything... that's not why I appear so reflective. It just ocurred to me when I was going to go into a full-scale whine how nonproductive and selfish it would be.**

My head is still pounding though, and today really was a tough one. That's why this evening I decided to treat myself and make a Red Pesto Farfalle for dinner. What, prey tell, is that? Well - allow me to elaborate. Red Pesto Farfalle is a Sicilian specialty dish made with bowtie pasta and generous amounts of tomato pesto - hence the name. There are various ways to make pesto of course, but in this case it was a mix of tomatoes, walnuts, pecorino romano and grana cheese, basil, garlic, and various spices. Traditionally it has to be made by a doting cook as its requisite pounding with mortar and pestle makes the dish fairly labor intensive.

Or at least that's what it says on the back of the package next to "Pour frozen contents into saucepan and cook over high heat for 6 minutes." Nothing but the best for this jazzcat, folks. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to pass out. Until tomorrow, amigos.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Paul is Dead and Satan is Lord

At about age 13, I discovered Led Zeppelin. I'm tired of them now. Have been for some time, but back then... man, they rocked my world. Not only was it music I'd never heard the likes of before, but by my listening to it I was head and shoulders above the rest of the heathens in my grade (eighth.) THEY were still listening to Paula Abdul, New Kids on the Block, and Guns 'N Roses - the latter being the most popular band at school BY FAR, and whose very existence would not have been possible had Led Zeppelin not paved the way twenty years before. So... I liked to think of myself as a trendsetter even though the music predated me by seven or eight years so the trend had already been set - and passed - before I was even a mere embryo. But the fact that I was able to groove to music that only people my brothers age (eight years my senior) had any business listening to meant that I had an edge of superiority and one-upsmanship in an area, and at an age when I felt I had precious little else in my trophy case (Translation: I was a very awkard, insecure adolescent in Jr. High and Led Zeppelin, among other classic rock notables, allowed me to say, "Screw you, assholes. I listen to REAL music.") Little did I realize that two years later, once we all entered high school, knowledge of bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones were practially a requirement if you were to be deemed "cool", but by that time I was still no less awkward and had moved on to The Pixies and Nine Inch Nails anyway (Incidentally, Doolittle and Pretty Hate Machine are still in my top 10. Sadly, I can't say the same about any of the Zeppelin albums. Maybe I just played them a little too much.)

Anyway, it was shortly after I had immersed myself in the world of classic rock, that I actually began to research what I'd been listening to. There were the typical shouts of "Revolutionary!", "Pioneering!" and all that other nonsense, but when I dug a little deeper I started to see stuff written that got me a little concerned... stuff about all night devil-worshipping sessions at the home of Alastair Crowley and communication with Lucifer himself. Oh, ho ho! What conspiracy is this that I've stumbled across? The members of Led Zeppelin had sold their souls to the devil? Noooo.... surely not. This was heartbreak for a good little Catholic boy like myself. The proof, apparently, was all too evident when you played certain songs backwards. Take for example, this verse from the classic prom night hit 'Stairway To Heaven.' :

'If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now.
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.'

'Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the log run
there's still time to change the road you're on.'

Nevermind the fact that the lyrics are ridiculous. I don't have a hedgerow. I don't even know what one is actually, or why it would be bustling if I did - but it's comforting to know the May queen is just cleaning it. Apparently however, when reversed this little ditty said, "My sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad whose power is fake. He will give us 666. There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan."

For the record, I CANNOT believe I just typed that. You want to talk ridiculous lyrics.... but at age 13 I didn't know any better, and I decided I had to find out for myself. I grabbed my brothers LP and threw it on my parents turntable, switched the dial to between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM to disengage the drive train and manually moved it backwards. What I heard was a lot of gibberish that sounded remotely like what you read above. Still, it was close enough for me to think I had uncovered the conspiracy of the century. I was shocked, appalled and told anyone who would listen that Led Zeppelin were trying to poison us with satanic messages (this a full fifteen years after the albums release, never taking into account that if they
were trying to poison us, it apparently didn't work.)

And if THAT wasn't bad enough, after further research I discovered that Paul was DEAD!!! Huh? What? Paul McCartney, dumb dumb. He died in 1966 and was replaced with a look-alike.
Didn't you pay attention to the Beatles album covers? Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9. Good Lord, how could I have allowed such a blinding wool to be pulled over my eyes? The horror!! I'm nothing but a dupe............

Sixteen years later, I know better... I think. After coming across this article in Scientific American (a bit of an oxymoron, don't you think?) by Michael Shermer, a self-proclaimed skeptic and a man who probably wouldn't believe Satan were in front of him even if he were impaled on his horns, I can breathe a little easier. My brain apparently was just searching for pattern recognition.. nothing else. Never underestimate the power of the human mind to find meaning and reason where there is none.

Still, with all this new fangled technology in our midst I can find ample reasons to think Paul really IS dead.. Take a look at his facial structure over the years, for example. And no longer do I have to move the turnable back manually - now we have sound recording technology to do it for us. Still sounds remotely like gibberish, but damn - there ARE some similarities.

Do I really think Paul is dead, and that Led Zep are going to cut out my heart and offer it to Beelzebub? Nope - not at all. But hell, at least it gave me something to write about.

Here are some backwards messages for your listening pleasure:

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
: The very end of the song. The lyric forward is "And she's buying a stairway to heaven." Reverse it and it supposedly says, "Play backwards. Hear words sung."

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven: The aforementioned "bustle in the hedgerow lyric." Follow along with the transcription above, if you like.

The Beatles - Revolution 9: Forwards it just says "Number 9" over and over. Backwards it says "Turn me on, dead man" Ohhhhhh....kay.

**Ironic side note**

I was present at the birth of the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon conspiracy. As many of you know I worked for WZLX-FM in Boston for a few years. While I was an intern/producer for George Taylor Morris' midday show, I heard the caller when he phoned in and clued us all into what happened when you started playing Dark Side of the Moon at the 3rd roar of the MGM lion in the beginning of the Wizard of Oz. George mentioned it VERY briefly on air - maybe a ten second snippet... The rest, as they say is history.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Film Review: The Interpreter

On Friday evening, I went with some friends to see The Interpreter - a film I knew nothing about save for the fact that it starred Sean Penn & Nicole Kidman. In fact, once I knew I'd be going to see it I actually avoided all reviews, trailers, and TV commercials so as not to form any opinions about the film. It's rare these days that I actually get to see a movie without at least knowing what it's about, much less what the critics think about it, and knowing that I was probably going to review the film on this here blog (Hell, I need something to write about. 'Hi, I'm Eric and this is my blog. Hope you enjoy it!' will only go so far) I wanted to be as unbiased as possible. The idea of complete objectivity in any sort of journalistic endeavor is, of course, ludicrous but there's something to be said for striving towards it. That said, my two unobjective opinions going in were of the two headlining cast members - Penn and Kidman.

Sean Penn, in the few films I've seen from him, is a phenomenal actor but one who has a tendency to overact his roles - especially in recent films (Mystic River, for example.) Also, his range doesn't appear to be anything stellar... more often than not he seems to be playing a tortured soul who's able to make moviegoers waffle between feelings of saddened pity and extreme loathing for his character. Still, I find him a draw. If a new film is released and I see him as a main character, I expect good things... even if I am prepared to leave the film feeling like I've just been punched multiple times in the gut with a brass knuckle (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, notwithstanding.)

Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, I find to be one of the more overrated and irritating actresses of my generation. Known for taking on "challenging" roles, she is the quintessential Hollywood "it" girl, whom everyone fawns over and wants to have appear in their films. I remain unconvinced. If by challenging it's meant that she portrays a character who speaks English in an accent other than her native Australian - well then, she's one of the greatest actresses of all time. Every movie she appears in, she's got a different twang going on. In The Others it was British, in Cold Mountain it was Southern, in Far & Away it was (a bad) Irish.... Good Lord, woman - pick something. It's as if she wants to try every one them at least once before she hangs up her acting slippers. Granted, she does a superb job with many of them, however in her efforts to nail down the particular accent she never manages to nail down her character. Her acting could best be described as always decent, but never entirely believable. She is however, insanely attractive - so she's got that going for her - but even that's a bit deceiving. As good looking as she is, I'm always reminded of the token crazy girlfriend whenever I see her. You know, the one that calls you up at 2:00 AM and screams into the phone, "Tell me you love me or I'll end it now!!!" Whatever..... click.

So - those two minor prejudices aside let's move onto the film, shall we? The Interpreter was directed by Sidney Pollack (of Tootsie and Sabrina remake fame - that should have been clue #1) and in very short summation is a political thriller which takes place at the United Nations. Kidman plays the role of Silvia Broome - an interpreter (surprise, surprise) for the U.N. who overhears a death threat in the General Assembly room, of all places, late at night when she goes back to retrieve her belongings which she had left there during an evacuation earlier in the day. The threat, quiet as it was, was made against the African dictator of the fictional country of Matobo, whose name I can't remember but it begins with a Z (I want to say Zihuateneo, but that's the name of the Mexican city in Shawshank Redemption - getting my movies confused.) Broome, dutiful employee that she is, reports the threat to U.N. security who promptly call in the U.S. Secret Service and put an agent Keller (portrayed by Sean Penn) on the case. Much of the film's next hour is spent not in trying to figure out who made the death threat, but in watching agent Keller determine whether or not Broome was in fact lying about the whole thing. She wasn't and we, the audience, know this because we saw Broome overhear the death threat in the beginning of the movie, as it was happening - yet, we're still subjected to a tortuous hour of "To Tell the Truth" regardless - polygraph test and all. However, as Keller is trying to piece it all together, we also find out that Broome, rather conveniently, is from the same country as Zihuateneo himself (her accent is South African in this film) and has a particular interest in seeing him dead as three members of her family, among them her parents, were killed many years ago during his long reign of genocide. Further, also rather conveniently, the assassination attempt (for that is what it is) is to take place IN the general assembly room, WHILE Zihuateneo is giving a speech defending the genocidal tactics of his rule. And oh yes, I also forgot to mention that when Broome overhears the plan being discussed, she also is accidentally seen by the would-be assailants (although she doesn't see them) so now her life too, is in danger which makes Agent Keller now grapple with whether he should play the role of investigator or protector. Yawn.

The film continues - at length - from there throwing in lots more secondary characters and stranger plot twists as it progresses. About 1/4 to midway through the film, we're told by Penn's character that his wife (who is never seen, but is referred to) died two weeks ago in a car accident while on his way back to him after a bout of infidelity. Huh? Is this pertinent? (No, not really.) Why wasn't it mentioned before? (No idea - again it wasn't pertinent.) Good Christ, he just lost his wife two weeks ago - what the hell is he doing at work?!? (Got me - but it manages to make sure the tortured soul angle is covered.) And therein lies the problem with most of this film. Almost all films require leaps of faith on the audiences part - it's one of the drawbacks of the medium. When you tell a complicated story in a limited time span, it almost ensures that corners have to be cut somewhere. However, it's the films that get the audience to make those leaps without question - without the audience even know they're making the leap in a lot of cases - that are the ones that succeed. This isn't one of those films. There are just too many ridiculous coincidences, and too many outlandish scenarios which would never, ever occur in real life. Example? Kidman's character, Silvia Broome. Here is a woman who was brought up in an unrelentingly violent country in the midst of a civil war and whose parents are then killed as a result of said war. She then becomes a freedom fighter trying to topple the government she originally helped support in the beginning (oops sorry, forgot to mention this before, but we learn all about her sordid past as the movie goes on) before deciding that war is bad so she becomes a peacenik and attends non-violent protest rallies before apparently dropping everything and going to study languages at the Sorbonne, honing her skills so she could one day become an interpreter at the U.N..... Oh, come ON! You're trying to tell me they wouldn't have looked into her past BEFORE they hired her? You're also trying to sell me on the idea that someone of her background would become entangled in an assassination plot against her former country's dictator by mere coincidence? Pardon me for being cliche, but I think there's a certain line about a bridge for sale that's applicable here.

The films ending is equally as ridiculous, on many different levels. I won't go into any details for fear of giving it away, but suffice it to say if you're willing to suspend reality for a little while, you might actually enjoy it. Despite my rants in the previous paragraphs, The Interpreter isn't a horrid film. It actually has some really interesting plot twists and is for the most part very well-acted by both Penn & Kidman. But it's where those plot twists lead, and their eventual conclusion that then cause you to raise your eyebrows. That, and it was unnecessarily long - kind of like this review. One of the key moments in the film happens when Keller & Broome are discussing her family members deaths and Keller is about to say their names. Broome quickly shushes him, and says "We don't speak the names of the dead. When we do, it means we have let them go." One wished she didn't bother to silence him. She would have done us all a favor by letting them go twenty minutes earlier.

Final Grade: "Meh - wait for it to come out on DVD, and then if your first choice isn't available."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Yay Friday, Running Fools and Other Shenanigans

What's the haps, amigos? Quick post 'fo the weekend gets underway..... you know how I hate to keep my fans waiting and all. Going to see The Interpreter tonight... Don't know what it's about, don't know how long it is, don't know if it's any good. I do know that Sean Penn & Nicole Kidman are in it, and that I find Nicole Kidman slightly irritating. However, I'm willing to overlook that for art and entertainment purposes. I like going into movies blind, so to speak. No raised or lowered expectations, etc... I'll let you know which way my thumb is pointing after I see it.

A few of you have mentioned that you've had difficulty leaving comments... a few of you don't bother leaving comments and would rather send me e-mails instead. Either one is fine, but if you can't leave a comment or would like to send me an e-mail re: this blog, I would ask that you send your diatribes to All my other addresses are still valid too however, so you can use one of those if you have 'em. Oh - who am I kidding... Just keep doing what you're doing.... I'll adapt nicely.

Yo - if you haven't jumped on the Google satellite Maps bandwagon yet, you're, like, so behind the times, dude. I've received numerous e-mails from people pointing out this service (special props going out to Andrew and Tom for being the trailblazers) which is basically like any other Mapquest type deal but with actual aerial satellite photos as your map. Fuhhhhh-REAKY stuff. Go get some proper directions and stop being such a square, daddy-o. Oh, yeah - and if you don't have anywhere to go and therefore don't need a map, check out some of these aerial views of various landmarks.. but feel free to avoid Yankee Stadium - it's a s***hole.

HUGE congratulations to my friends (and maybe yours) Marty & Maria who ran the Boston Marathon this Monday and both finished with times the rest of us probably couldn't bike:

Maria finished with a time of 3:32:10 and Marty did a 3:38:41. Well done to both of you slackers (photo to come soon as soon as my server decides to cooperate)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Picture Pages, Picture Pages....

"Good evening, Clarice..... It's a pleasure to see you again."

Am I the only one who thinks the College of Cardinals has grievously erred by electing Hannibal Lecter as pope? I mean, really... I was on the fence before, but this... this is something special, indeed. All kidding aside, I don't think this election is any surprise. A bunch of cardinals the previous pope appointed decided to elect his right-hand man as successor. Meet the new pope, same as the old pope. Still, when your nickname among some members of the clergy is "God's Rottweiler" and that nickname sticks... well, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. But I prefer to remain positive about the whole course of events. With this pope, I think my level of guilt about being a Catholic - and the level of guilt I have about feeling guilty for being a Catholic - is unlikely to change substantially. I can look forward to the same amount of angst and indecisiveness as ever. Well done, Rome.

Speaking of Silence of the Lambs.... I was watching the film the other day and every time there was a scene between Hannibal and Clarice I expected this exchange to occur:



"You get back to your cave this instant."

"But I, I..."

"Thiiiiis INSTANT, young lady!"

"Yes, sir."

"Now I want to make something perfectly plain. No doe of mine is going to be seen with a.... a RED-NOSED REINDEER!"

Anyone else remember that happy little number from one of
our favorite Christmas specials? I only mention it because it's the only other time I can remember encountering the name 'Clarice', and since I watched Rudolph so many times as a child and still have it memorized... well, it seemed germane... that's all.

To connect the dots even further, Snopes has a neat little ditty on
where Rudolph originally came from. I feel as if Christmas has lost a little of it's luster after reading it, but it makes sense when you think about it. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet Cupid, Donder, Blitzen..... no Rudolph to be seen amongst that murderers row. In fact, if I were one of those original eight, I'd be pissed if some hard-drinking (oh no? Fine.
You tell me where the hell the red nose comes from then) young upstart like Rudolph came along and stole my thunder.

And to close out this ever connected little thread I'll just point out
one other fantastic item also located on Snopes.... How'd you like to be the guy buried in THAT plot?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Album & Concert Review: Garbage - Bleed Like Me

I love Shirley Manson. No, really I do. Ask any of my friends - they'll tell you. I'm about one psychological trauma away from wiping out this entire website, setting up a shrine under "", and becoming a stalker. It's really kind of pathetic, actually. So when it was announced that Garbage, the band for which she is the frontwoman, would be coming to Boston to promote their rather morbidly titled fourth album Bleed Like Me, I got online at exactly 9:00 AM on the day tickets went on sale and had about 276 different windows open - all trying to procure the coveted passes. As it turns out, I only needed one and upon placement of the order, I did a little jig in my living room. OK - so that last part's not true but I needed some way of conveying my excitement other than simply saying, "I was really excited."

Garbage - so named during the recording sessions of their first album when a friend took one listen at what had been done so far and kept saying, "This sounds like garbage" - are a quartet consisting of the aforementioned Ms. Manson, a 38-year old Scottish goddess on lead vocals, and a bunch of 40 and 50-something professional studio geeks from Madison, WI, who 12 years ago decided to stop producing records for other bands (among them, Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and the Smashing Pumpkins 'Siamese Dream'), and start making some of their own. It is not exactly an easy process for them. In the 12 years the band has been in existence they've put out only four albums, all of them solid, but some clearly better than others. Following the release of their third album Beautifulgarbage, the band almost called it quits due to exhaustion, poor record sales (the album was waayyy too overproduced, and had too many bells and whistles accompanying songs that lacked decent melodies), and general creative differences (I'm never sure what this means but I think it's one of the most overused and irritating phrases in the music industry.) Thankfully after a brief hiatus, they decided to grit their teeth, have one large bitch session, make amends, and start working on a fourth record. Bleed Like Me is the end result.

The word on this album before it was released was that, unlike its forbears, this was going to be less of a slick studio production, and more of a raw, edgy sounding guitar-driven piece of work. I'd say that's only half right. The slick, studio production is definitely still there... they just turned the guitars way, way up. What many fans (myself included) were desperately hoping for was some sort of similarity to the 'old' Garbage, i.e. angry, mysterious, mongrel-pop (and make no mistake - this music is most certainly pop), yet at the same time vulnerable, thoughtful and very very catchy. Mission accomplished. The album sounds like a primer of alt-pop from the last 10 years (and some critics say too much like their first two albums, and therefore redundant.) Some highlights include:

  • Right Between The Eyes - A bouncy catchy tune that sounds very Courtney Love-esque, yet with nasty lyrics that basically tell all their critics to f*** off.
  • Bleed Like Me - The title track (and their next single) - a slow melodic piece where each verse describes a different person and their preferred method of self-destruction (anorexia, cutting, alcoholism, etc...)
  • Metal Heart - MP3 provided - see below.
  • Sex Is Not The Enemy - A ridiculous, completely unoriginal, yet incredibly catchy manifesto deriding a society which is too uptight about sexuality.
It's a great album, and that's about all there is to it. Is it their best? Nope. Are there some clunkers? Absolutely, but only a few. Personally, of the 11 total tracks on the record I could do without the last three, but they're not terrible - they're just blah. Still a worthwhile purchase and a solid B+. Buy it here or on iTunes.

Now - about that concert. Sunday marked the fateful event, and Boston was only the 5th stop on the tour so it was safe to say they were a little rough around the edges. The guitars were a little bit sloppy, the drums occasionally missed a beat, and an occasional lyric was screwed up, but surprisingly none of it mattered, because goddamn, this was a
SHOW. I've seen them perform three times previous and I've never seen them this excited, enthusiastic and grateful (they kept thanking the crowd as the reason they stayed together.) The two guitarists jumped all over the stage and played with the enthusiasm of high-schoolers. Butch Vig pounded away on the drums so violently I thought his arms were going to come flying off. Even bassist Erik Avery (on loan from Jane's Addiction for the tour) managed to fit in seamlessly. And towering over all of it was Shirley Manson (actual photo from the concert), prowling around on stage, playing the audience like a violin, and making sure all eyes were (gladly) on her. At one point during a break she crouched down to some lucky-ass gentleman in the front row and said in her wonderful Scottish lilt, "What the hell is going on down there? Are you being naughty? Well.... I hate to break it to you..... but tonight..... is all about me." Indeed it was, and the rest of us were only too willing to fall victim to her spell.

  • Metal Heart - Without question, the hardest track on the new album and the one that is sure to make all fervent Garbage fans delight in their return to form. Oddly enough, it was one of the weak points of the live show but whatever... kick-ass, hard-driving tune that starts off slow, when all of a sudden they let you have it.
  • Bonus Track: Thirteen - And just to slow it down exponentially, here is their cover of Big Star's Thirteen (I'm assuming the number refers to the age.) This isn't on the new album at all. It originally appeared as a B-side on the "Push It" single from their second album 'Version 2.0' A slow, teenage love song they kept true to the original and did a good job with. Enjoy.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Would you like two spaces or one?

My sister sent me an e-mail yesterday stating that #1) she couldn't leave any comments - apparently an error was returned every time she tried (although it looks as if that's been resolved) and #2) that I'm breaking one of the most fundamental rules of punctuation, which is that I'm only putting one space after every period marking the end of a sentence. There are TWO spaces after each period mi hermano, and one after every comma.

Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright.... I know - and I don't know what to do about it. I swear it isn't my fault. When I type up these posts, believe you me, there are two spaces after every period. I was taught in the same school system she was, and had the same nitpicky old ha... em, teachers that she did. I would never think to violate such a cardinal rule on purpose. However, as I'm slowly finding out, what I type isn't necessarily what appears on the page. As soon as I publish the post, it readjusts everything and changes it so that there is only one space between the period and the start of the next sentence. After searching through both the help files and the system settings I found no way to adjust this... so one space it is, unless I start playing around with fonts and have this blog display in blah Courier type. No thanks.

However, in the course of my research I ran across a blog posting from Lloyd Borrett who explains that this whole two spaces thing is utter rot. My first instinct upon reading was to call 'fib' on the whole post. Clearly he just made it up as a reason to explain why his own blog has the same problem. But I don't know... the man seems to know what he's talking about. He may be right, and I may be off the hook. Then again, as I was trying to figure out exactly who Mr Borrett is, and just why exactly he's an expert on the subject of typeface, I found out he's an Aussie who liked to play tennis in the early 80's... So... the jury is still out on Mr. Borrett, but I found that if you pretend the post is being read to you in an irritated Australian accent, it makes it much more funny (clearly I'm easily amused.)


Oh - and for those people hoping for the review of the new Garbage CD, last nights performance at the Avalon, and the accompanying MP3's check back tomorrow. We'll hook you up then.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Indeed, sir.

Several years ago when I was out of work and looking for a new job, I initially relied heavily on There were a couple reasons for this. Among them:
  • Laziness: Would you overextend yourself if you were living comfortably in your parents basement and collecting unemployment? Didn't think so.
  • Ignorance: I didn't know where else to search. The newspaper? Faugh! Not in the "information age."
  • Naivete: Or maybe not... I just like the word, and it seemed appropriaite given I was unemployed for nine months.
At the time, Monster had the reputation of being... well, the MONSTER (no pun intended) of job search engines. If you couldn't find a job in my field (systems administration... by the way, I really like using parentheses and dashes - can't you tell?) on Monster, you were probably more than a little simple or just completely unemployable - all of which were true, mind you, but still...

So with my whopping one year of experience in the field, I threw my resume up on the Monster board and waited for the potential employers to come begging. I waited a long time, as it turns out... and none of them begged. None of them even called actually, save for a few slimy recruiters who never had any job prospects but wanted to convince their superiors they were doing something. The reason? Largely supply and demand. There were too few available jobs, and virtually every out of work techie (which at the time was a VERY substantial amount) had the same idea I did.. i.e. just use Monster and you'll be fine. I eventually found my current job the old fashioned way - through the newspaper want-ads and an actual printed out resume mailed via the US Postal Service. Whoulda thunk? Further, no one I know (save for a few people working in sales) has ever had much luck with the Monster board. Too many of the jobs nowadays are fakes posted by recruiters to get you in their clutches, etc...

That said - while surfing other blogs today I found a link to a new and relatively unknown engine called Indeed. This thing is remarkably simple... Type in your keywords and the city where you want to work, and it pulls back a ridiculous amount of jobs from various job boards, career journals, and industry publications (and no, I don't think Monster is among them, but I'm not sure.) Think of it as a Google for career hunters. Give it a shot - I was throughly impressed..... not that I'm looking for a new job or anything... Jesus, I didn't give my website address to anyone I work with, did I? Yikes.... nevermind. Move along now.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What, no tip?

I get my hair cut at a place that shampoos it first. I will not apologize for this. I ended up going there when I had to get my then long hair cut for a job interview, and the place I originally went to did little more than cut off my ponytail and send me on my way - a la Coming To America. As a result, I ended up looking like the Dutch Boy you see on cans of paint. Moreover, I felt as if I should don a jerkin and tights and run off to slay the dragon. Such was my embarrassment that the following day (thankfully, still before the interview) I walked into my current "haircutting place" on Newbury St. where my current um... "haircutter" Renee - a tough as nails woman from Revere with a brutal accent and a mouth like a truck driver - took one look at me, laughed, and said, "What the hell happened to you? Someone cut your hair with a Flo-Bee? C'mon honey, we'll fix ya up right."

This is
not the point of this post, however. In the few years I've been a patron of this fine establishment, they always shampoo my hair before cutting it. It's not something I specifically request or pay extra for - it's just part of the total haircutting package, if you will. This is almost always done by some assistant barber or junior stylist, or whatever they're called, who also have to perform other lowly duties like sweeping up all the fallen hair, running to get coffee, etc.. Normally I think nothing of this hair washing but for whatever reason, as I was getting the scalp massaged with mint smelling suds last week, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should be tipping this woman. Really? For a service that is largely unnecessary, considering I had already washed my own hair in the shower that same morning? Anxious to ease my mind I asked Renee on the sly if the shampooers normally get tipped, to which she responded, "Sometimes. My boss is so f****n' cheap he pays them next to nothing and makes us give them $1.00 for every one of our clients heads they shampoo. F****n' bastid."

This exchange made me wonder about this whole act of tipping, and when/why it became such an accepted part of our culture. Further, what are the rules? When should I tip? When shouldn't I? How much is enough? How much is too much? I've never been clear on this, and have sadly never sought out the correct answers. It was therefore quite a pleasant surprise this morning to stumble across not one, but
TWO articles related to the subject. The first is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and offers some semi-useful tips and talks about the practice of tipping in a general sense. The second is from The Straight Dope, a favorite column of mine, and it discusses the origins of the tipping practice as well as it's name (which, as it happens is not an acronym for 'to insure promptness.')

I'd be interested to read other peoples thoughts on the subject (click the comments link below) if only to correct my own bad tipping practices. What do I do as far as tipping now? My general rule is 20%. I give that to Renee after she cuts my hair, as I do most waitstaff at the end of a meal (unless they were bad, in which case they only get 15%. Rarely do I not tip at all - the service has to be utterly abysmal before that happens, and if that's the case I also make a resolution not to go back to that particular restaurant for fear of something unthinkable being placed in my food. Oh, and another word of warning... if you MUST bitch to the waitstaff or management right that very minute, at least wait until AFTER your food is served.) Cab drivers? I generally give them 10-15% because I like them less and they make me feel scared. Plus, they piss me off when I encounter them on the road while I'm driving my own car. I
WILL NOT place any money in those plastic tip cups you see on the counter in places like Dunkin' Donuts. If you're going to be brazen enough to ask for money by placing a plastic drinking cup with the word 'TIP' scrawled in magic marker on the counter, you're not getting any of my change. Besides, their wages, low as they are, are given under the assumption that their won't be any tips for services rendered.

As for the shampoo lady, I went to give her two bucks after all was said and done and I couldn't find her. I think she went out back for a cigarette or something. Will I tip her the next time? I don't know. Depends on whether or not I can afford it after everyone else takes their cut.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Runners & Revolutions

Alright, so I've spent the better part of two days trying to get this thing working correctly, and I think we're finally in business. I was able edit the links on the right, as well as get rid of that atrocious navigation bar at the top. Don't laugh - those were huge accomplishments for me. Understand my HTML knowledge is limited to the most basic of commands (i.e. I suck at designing web pages.) You should have seen what I had done earlier... I got a little too big for my Underoos and tried to include some "What I'm Reading", "What I'm Watching" and "What I'm Listening To" links on the sidebar complete with thumbnail images and everything. Although my code was a mess, I was grossly misusing my HTML tags and violating all sorts of web-design ettiquite I'm sure, the site looked good in one browser (Firefox) and terrible in another (IE), so I was forced to abandon ship until I have the time this weekend to deal with it. Plus the book is boring, the CD skips, and the movie could benefit from more gratuitious sex and wanton violence because it certainly wasn't provoking any thought. In otherwords, you'd yawn.

Are y'all ready for the long weekend, chill'un? What holiday are we celebrating, then? Patriots Day? Ah yes - the battle of Lexington & Concord. The shot heard 'round the world! I'll stay in bed when it goes off, thanks. I've thought about going to the reenactment in previous years, but always talked myself out of it. This year is no exception. I'll be seeing Garbage at the Avalon the night before (HoooRAY! FYI - concert and new CD reviews to come after the show) and don't plan on going anywhere on Monday other than to watch some friends running the marathon.... provided they don't pull an Uta Pippig in mid-run. No Uta's allowed!! And if you don't know what I'm talking about... well, nevermind.

Oh yes, one more thing. In light of all the tomfoolery that's been going on this week between the Red Sox & Yankees (specifically Mr. Sheffield and certain of the Boston Royal Rooters), please allow me to steal a page out of Tim's book and post a little photo reminding everyone where the rivalry currently stands.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Oh, Wondrous Day!

It is a gorgeous, yet chilly evening in the Jamaica Plain barrio of Boston, Massachusetts. Curt Schilling, was looking dandy against the New York Yankees, in what is also his first outing of the year. The T.V. is turned down. Joe & Jerry are turned up. The pasta is eaten. The stomach is full. The tea is brewed. The lights are dim. What's say we start a blog?

Welcome los guapos, to the world of Murky Words! There are many ideas on what to do with this thing, but the idea to actually start it came to me only recently. Had you approached me a few years ago and suggested I attempt this I would have choked on my beer, uttered a hearty 'Pshaw!', and fearfully backed away. Now that I'm older, slightly wiser, and a bit more sober I figure this is a great way for me to write on a consistent basis (something I very much like to do, and need practice at), as well as keep in touch with those people I'm bad about keeping in touch with.

So, what can you expect here? A little of this, a little of that, whole lot in-between. Whatever I'm feeling like on a particular day - whether that be what's going on in my life, posted articles with biting commentary, random links, random rants, CD & film reviews, my own writing (when I'm feeling bold), etc. Standard blog fare, in otherwords. Here - want an example? Check out Sean, Tim & Chris' blogs. All of them are superbly done, and provided me with a great deal of inspiration and motivation to get started on this little shindig, even if they're unaware of doing so. I'd like to say I'll update every day - and I'll make every effort to do so, but I make no promises. Realistically, that may be a bit of a tall order, especially in these early days when I'm still trying to get everything sorted out. And besides, we all need a vacation, now & then.

There will also be an area for you to leave your own comments after posts. Here I will welcome suggestions, tips, commentary, expletives, and any other thoughts you may find appropriate. You can also expect quite a few face lifts and design changes along the way as I play around with new templates, designs, and figure out what the hell I want to link to.

Oh yes - why Murky Words? "Isn't that a little dark?", she exclaimed. Naaah.. It's all in how you look at it. The word "murky" has a number of different definitions. Pick whichever one you like, but I prefer cloudy or obssure - because while I hope the writing will be clear, concise and good, the general tone of the blog will be all over the place, i.e. muddled. Oh okay, fine - so I like things a little dark now and then too... I swear I'm not Satan's little helper or anything.

So there it is, folks! Feel free to stay awhile. Hopefully I have enough ideas rattling around upstairs to keep you interested, but if not - well, the Internet is a big place. Ciao for now. Until next time.