24 September 2008

The Waiting

I swear if this whole work thing keeps interfering with my blogging then I might just have to quit. A man's gotta have his priorities straight in this life or the world will just turn him inside out. It's like my Grandpa always used to say, "Son if you don't get out of that bathroom soon I'm gonna flood it with the garden hose." Okay that might not apply directly to this conversation but boy was he a hoot!

18 September 2008

We can make this work

Ok, so no one suggested an album to review last week. I expected that would happen sooner rather than later and had decided that I would just review an album of my choice instead. Yeah, that's right, I get a say around here on occasion. So hopefully I'll still get a review done before the weekend.

In other news I tried a new recipe last night that worked out pretty darn well, if I do say so myself. It's a recipe I got from the New York Times for Black Bean Soft Tacos. It's really easy and damn good for you. If anyone wants the recipe (it's also vegetarian, Tina) let me know and I'll send it to you. I'm trying to build a repertoire of dishes that utilize black beans. They are low fat and full of lots of good-for-yous.

On a more current-events note: I've been thinking a lot this week about the financial crisis that's going on right now (something tells me I'm not alone). I have a little bit of money in the stock market by way of a mutual fund I bought into about 10 years ago. I don't really keep track of the damn thing- I couldn't even tell you how much it's worth right now- so I'm obviously not too concerned about my personal finances but according to some experts a lot of people could stand to lose a lot of money before all is said and done. It's times like these that make me wish I understood the economy much better than I do but also simultaneously kind of make me glad I don't. I'm sure if I actually fully comprehended what was happening I would probably be freaking out right now.

It's also made me wonder about the concept of a government bailout. The U.S. gov't just invested $85B taxpayer dollars in AIG to keep it afloat. The idea is that if AIG had crashed suddenly then the implications would have been serious and far reaching. Of course I never heard anyone say or even hint at what those consequences might be, just that they would be bad. It's not that I don't believe what these folks are saying, it's just that I'd like to know exactly what might happen that deserves risking $85B public. This isn't the first time (nor will it be the last) that the government has bailed out a company because the company was "too big to fail." I'm sorry but I just think that's a load of crap. Isn't this just capitalism taking it's course? Like I said, I'm sure that there are some good reasons for this course of action, I just haven't heard any. Anyone care to explain?

I don't pretend to understand economics, people. It's just that stuff like this has never sat right with me. Huge companies collapsing as a result of investor uncertainty/fear is part of the system, right? Isn't that just one of the risks inherent in a free market economy? I might understand this bailout a little more if it could be shown that the trouble was not in any way the fault of the AIG business plan, but I refuse to accept the fact that a corporation can simply be "too big" to fail. That's likely a slippery slope.

11 September 2008

Come Monday

Ok so since the last installment of Apollo's Awesome Album Areview took me a little longer than expected I'll change my schedule just a little bit in an attempt to make this an achievable weekly endeavor. It isn't a big change and I'm not sure if it'll work or not but we'll see.

I'll be reviewing another album next week and YOU get to pick what album. REALLY! CRAZY, RIGHT? So comment on this post by noon Monday with your suggestion for Awesome Album of the Aweek and I'll review it! Simple as that. Whatever album you want. If more than one person suggests an album I'll just pick my favorite from the suggestions. With any luck I'll have the review done by the end of next week and we'll start the whole crazy process over again. IT'S LIKE A VICIOUS CYCLE OF KICK-ASSERY.

The end of the world as we know it

Well, not literally the end of the world, you see, just the end of the world as we know it. I've been thinking about how the earth wasn't destroyed last night and I am (understandably I think) quite excited about it. The experiments that are going to be happening at the LHC in the next decade could easily change the world. If nothing else they will better our understanding of how the universe works. To that end I started wondering if some of the overblown media scare wasn't driven by an overwhelming fear/mistrust of science that seems to be perpetuated by some religious nutjobs. I know, I know, this may sounds like some stupid conspiracy-theory shit and it's likely not true. By that I mean that there probably isn't a room full of Falwells instructing the media to tell the general populace that those damn particle physicists are trying to kill us all because we all know that SCIENTISTS HATE GOD. But there certainly is some anti-scientific sentiment running through a lot of religious institutions and that distrust is unfounded and detrimental to progress.

The bottom line is that some of the experiments being done at the LHC could further solidify the Big Bang Theory as scientific truth and thereby push the Alpha and the Omega to the proverbial (PUN!) back of the bus. I'll be open here and say that I have a general dislike and distrust of most religion but it's because of things like this anti-scientific mumbo jumbo. If a better understanding of the scientific workings of the universe is going to jeopardize the sanctity of your flock then they are grazing on the wrong field.

09 September 2008

Apollo's Awesome Album Areview

Ok sorry for the wait here folks. I've been pretty busy at work this past week and just got the chance to turn my notes into a full-fledged album areview. I also, as you may have noticed, didn't get around to detailing my trip to Louisville. I'll kill two birds with one stone and give you the Cliffs Notes® version of the Louisville trip: bourbon and bad jokes. Ok so that about sums that up now onto the review.

This is my review of Beck's Modern Guilt that I meant to have done last Friday. Oh well shit happens enjoy:

Beck’s latest album, Modern Guilt, is not really what I expected after his previous two albums but then again maybe that’s my mistake. It’s a good album to be certain but it isn’t exactly in the same vein as his recent releases. His two efforts prior to Modern Guilt, 2006’s The Information and 2005’s Guerro, were both classic, happy, dance-y, goofy Beck. Modern Guilt is not happy, only occasionally dance-y, and hardly goofy. Of course this isn’t entirely unlike Beck - give a listen to 2002’s Sea Change and you’ll realize that Mr. Hansen isn’t always the cheeriest chap in Chestershire. That’s not to say that Modern Guilt is just Sea Change Round 2. The two albums don’t share that much in common other than that they aren’t what people were expecting from the guy who gave us Odelay.

Sea Change was an album inspired by a rather harsh break up. Modern Guilt seems to be more inspired by a world breaking up rather harshly. There are images of buildings falling, fighter jets, warheads, and isolation. Even the fun, dance-y-ish (let’s see how far I can take that word) tracks don’t sound as big or fun as most of his work. They sound really good, they just don’t sound like most of his other work and I think that’s great. If I told you that Beck was coming out with an album produced by Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley fame) this probably isn’t the first thing you’d imagine (of course, if you took a long look at some of Danger Mouse’s other work it might not surprise you that much – the guy’s got a dark streak a mile long). There are a couple of tracks where Danger’s influence is obvious, for instance on “Gamma Ray” which sounds kind of like a Gnarls Barkley song featuring Beck (which is really good, by the way). Speaking of the production, I really enjoy how this album isn’t too loud or overproduced. It’s a welcome change from most of the crap on the radio where every instrument or vocal track seems to have been recorded with the boards cranked up to eleven.

A lot of the computerized backing beats on this album remind me of The Postal Service (band, not governmental mail carrier). I’ve been noticing that a lot recently, not just here. Whatever program they are using to create the computer backing tracks (or the whole song in the case of The Postal Service) seems to have become an industry standard and makes a lot of stuff sound the same. I could probably rant for a long while about the problems in the music production industry right now, but we’ll stop that train here before I punch the face of my nice new work laptop.

The first two tracks (“Orphans” and the aforementioned “Gamma Ray”) have awesome bass lines. As a matter of fact this album is full of really good bass lines. That is something that I’ve come to expect from Beck and he has yet to let me down. “Orphans”, aside from having a kick ass bass line, also has Cat Power. She sings back up on the track “Walls” as well. I kind of wish they had given her more prominent parts in the songs, honestly. I didn’t even realize it was her at first until I looked on the track list.

There are some upbeat songs on this album (the titular track, “Soul of Man”, and “Profanity Prayers”, for example). Even those songs, though, sound kind of like Beck on opiates. That’s not a bad thing, people. The only upsetting thing to me is that Beck has an ultra-emo moment in the closing song, “Volcano”; one line goes [I’ve been drinking all these tears so long/All I've got left is the taste of salt in my mouth]. C’mon, Beck.

All in all Modern Guilt is a good album. Whether or not you’re a fan of Beck you’ll want to check this one out. It’s a good sleepy-time album and it’s fairly short (just over 30 minutes) so put it in one afternoon when you’re getting ready to nap and see how groovy Beck is even when he doesn't appear to be trying.

02 September 2008

Hit me baby one more time

Okay, so I really enjoyed reviewing "Challengers" last week and have decided that, much like I had intended, I will review another album this week. Of course I will be reviewing whatever album you want me to review, so get your thinking caps on and come up with another! Don't worry yourself trying to pick something I might like or anything like that, just pick something you'd like to hear my honest opinion of. Like last week I'll pick an album to review on Thursday at noon so comment on this post with your ideas and I'll pick from those. Also, let me know if you like the review I did for the "Challengers" album! I've long been considering reviewing music as a hobby and need constructive criticism if I'm going to get any good at it.

P.S. I went to Louisville this past weekend and all you got was a lousy post telling you all about it coming sometime soon.