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Mar 29 2009

Inspiration

So the question that’s on everybody’s minds, “How the hell does this genius come up with all this fantastic stuff? Where does he pull it all from? Has he done the things he writes about, does he sit secluded for hours on end and dream it up, does it come to him in his sleep? I sure wish I knew so that maybe I could be like him.” Don’t tell me you weren’t thinking it. It’s a rather complex question, and deserves a rather complex answer. It’s funny because I actually consider myself rather uninspired. The stories I write are about average people doing average things. Well, except for that one I wrote about the war veteran who shot the kids playing in the street in front of his house. I honestly don’t know where I got that one from. But other than that, it doesn’t seem like they would be very interesting to read, seeing as you could just step away from your computer and go do the stuff that’s in them yourself, and still people like it (or so I’ve been told). So, how do I come up with it? It doesn’t seem like it would really be that hard to do does it? It’s not like I’m dreaming up fantasy worlds, I’m taking people in this world in ordinary situations and giving them rather dull lines to say to each other. Well if you think that you’re wrong. What I’m doing is exploring the human circumstance and it is very very difficult. Or it would be if I wasn’t a genius. Here’s how I do it. Seeing as all my writing is based on real life situations, real life is where my inspiration comes from. Actually, not my real life so much as other peoples. None of what I’ve written about has ever happened to me, although some aspects are taken directly from real life. There’s always at least one character who is meant to represent me, or at least contains some aspect of my personality, it helps me connect and write about them better. In most of the stories it’s pretty obvious who I am because there’s only two characters and one of them is a girl, but in a few, such as The Basement, it might be a little trickier. I think I might write a story with a lot of characters and see if you can spot me, a literary Where’s Waldo. Generally I get ideas when I’m not doing anything, or doing something that doesn’t require much thought, such as walking the dog, or lying in bed before I go to sleep. I don’t write them down or anything, they just sort of sit there and I’ll mull them over and gradually they’ll gather substance. This is an ongoing process so generally I’ll have about 3 to 4 going around at different stages of development. Then one will reach a point where I’m really excited about it or it seems to have enough substance to write about and I’ll sit down and write it. Generally it’ll go down on the page all at once, and after a few minor adjustments it’s ready for prime time. And that is how the magic happens.

In case you hadn’t noticed I’m totally out of ideas right now and it’s been over a week since my last update so I needed something and I figured this would do.


Mar 20 2009

The Hazards of Love

No, this isn’t one of my stories or some opinion article on relationships. The Hazards of Love is the latest album from The Decemberists. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Dear god when is he going to shut up about The Decemberists what is this the third time he’s written about them? They can’t be all that interesting I mean seriously write another short story or something you uninspired bore.” The answer is I am never going to shut up about The Decemberists, as long as they continue to make music I will continue to write about it, this is largely because The Decemberists are one of the very few modern bands that I like, and therefore I enjoy being able to keep track of their new releases and such. Now, about the album, the one obvious things to talk about is the way they’ve put it together. Each song flows into the next and it’s often very hard to distinguish one song from another. It’s almost like it’s one big hour long song, and I’m as yet undecided on whether or not I like this. It’s interesting and it allows the narrative to flow uninhibited by track changes, but on the other hand it’s hard to pick out one or two songs that you really like from the album like you would normally, you really have to have an hour to devote to listening from one end to the other. I thought that the beginning of the album felt a little too much like background music, for me it really picked up when they hit “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid”. I thought that at some times it was a little too soft and slow, although The Decemberists can pull that off better than most, and at other times it was a little too heavy, but for the most part I really enjoyed listening to it. A big aspect of the album is the narrative, which is interesting, but has some inherent flaws. The words to a song can often be very hard to decipher, and trying to understand all the words as they’re being sung can really distract from the music. Also, it means that you have to sit for an hour and pay close attention, you can’t really go around doing other stuff while it plays if you want to understand what’s going on. I have a hard time trying to come up with an occasion to which this album is best suited. It doesn’t really work for social occasions because it requires attention, and because it’s hard to pick out single songs you like it’s hard to fit into a mix or shuffle through on an iPod. To me it feels like the kind of thing for a rainy depressing Sunday afternoon with nothing going on and you can lie down and lose yourself in the music and the narrative for an hour. Overall I think it’s a pretty great album although I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed by it probably due to “The Rake’s Song” setting the bar extremely high. I think I like some of their previous work better, especially The Crane Wife which contained the first songs I’d ever heard from them. Listening live to the webcast was a lot of fun although they didn’t take the stage until 1 am and then after an encore all was said and done at around 2:30. I think lead singer Colin Meloy said it best right before they played their last song, “It’s late man, it’s late. It’s time for you to be in bed.” I look forward to more from The Decemberists in the hopefully near future. In other words, yeah, you made a pretty great album, now get back to work and make another one!

Update: Today I got the CD and I don’t really know why but the studio version sounds a lot better than the live version they did. The whole beginning seems much more… I don’t really know how to describe it… there, than it did before. It’s pretty much the same really but I think the tweaks and tuning make it feel a lot more together than it did live. I’m considering placing it above The Crane Wife. Actually, I’m not just considering, I am.

Final score: 92/100


Mar 19 2009

2012

So about a week ago in my English class we finished up our satire unit which I enjoyed a lot. We did a project where we created our own satirical pieces, and I think the one I worked on is pretty awesome. I actually did not create this by myself, co-author credit goes to Niall Reynolds and Shane Casey. This is different from most of the stuff on my site in that it’s much less direct. I could never create stuff like this on a regular basis because it requires much more cleverness than I can constantly provide, but anyway, I hope you like it. Because of the special formatting I had to scan it into a PDF, click here to view it.


Mar 12 2009

Rush Limbaugh (And the Republican Party in General)

I found someone I hate more than Sarah Palin. This article is also going to be a little bit about CPAC and the Republican party. Now I know it’s not really fair to judge the entirety of the Republican party based on what one loser hiding away in a radio booth spews from his mouth everyday, but you guys make it a bit hard for me when you make him a big speaker at a convention and cheer his every word. I took issue with just about every word that was spoken at CPAC, and not just the ones from Rush either. They had an NRA guy to rile up the shotgun wielding rednecks and homicidal maniacs, and some other losers to pound Obama’s spending bill which only has to exist because of all the stupid things the Republican party did when it was in charge. Let me go back to NRA guy for a minute because that was something I wanted to talk about. I know the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms, but I think that should probably exclude the right to bear multiple high powered rapid firing arms without any background check or waiting period or any training or at all. Also, another part of the Constitution is the part that allows you to change it to fit the times, that’s the only reason it still exists. And if you’re always going to fall back on the Constitution, you should probably know what it is, Rush. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is in the Declaration of Independence, not the preamble to the Constitution you dolt. I think Stephen Colbert said it best, “The vacuum in Republican leadership has allowed a mean spirited lard ass talk radio mind corpse to become de facto leader which is turning an already crippled party into a bickering laughing stock.” You know he once accused Micheal J. Fox of flailing around in his Parkinson’s disease commercials to exaggerate the effects of the disease and gain sympathy? Now I’m not big on celebrities starting foundations for diseases that they already have because it’s not so much charity as self help and you know that they wouldn’t care at all if they didn’t suffer from it but seriously Rush, how much of an asshole do you have to be to say something like that? The answer: one the size of Jupiter. Even the internet hates Rush:

Everyone agrees.

Everyone agrees.

This is a real screenshot taken from the suggested search box that pops up while you’re typing in Google. Try it and see for yourself. They’re all pretty great but my personal favorites are numbers 3 and 8.

The Republican party is just a joke in general now, and I’m going to cash in on that. Anyone hear about Micheal Steele saying they needed to change the party’s image to match urban hip hop settings?

You know you want in.

You know you want in.

These days it seems like Republicans keep trying to mimic the Democrats in order to gain support, talking about change and trying to be cool. There are several major flaws with this, first, if you’re trying to be cool then you’re not, it’s one of those things that you just have to fall into. Second, the Democratic party isn’t just about changing¬† just anything, it’s about reversing all the policies you put in place and taking this country forward, not backward, and it doesn’t seem like Republicans are ever going to warm up to that. Conservatives will always live up to their name and try to keep things the way they are, completely ignorant of the fact that the way things are right now sucks. Republicans keep going on about this spending stuff and it annoys the hell out of me. When times are tough the government is supposed to spend like crazy and get money flowing in the economy again. The government’s goal is not to save money, then it would be a business. Also all the bills that they always point out are ones on which I think spending money is totally worth it, way more so than this idiotic war we’ve got going in the Middle East.

I get angrier and angrier every time I hear these guys talk, I’m really glad I don’t get cable because FOX News might kill me.


Mar 4 2009

Rockband

So today I got Rockband, and then my afternoon disappeared. Rockband is a lot of fun. Originally I was worried that I would have to have friends around to play the game properly, that fear was quelled both when the game didn’t seem to care whether I played alone or with others and when my little sister immediately jumped in. This is really one of the better things about Rockband, I hardly ever do anything with my little sister other than begrudgingly go to a recital of some sort, it really is a fun family game. I’d played Guitar Hero at other people’s houses before, so I knew what to expect from guitar, and immediately jumped on the drums, which Harmonix did a great job with. I never played with the RB1 drums, but supposedly the RB2 ones don’t clack as much when you hit them and have a little more bounce. They are extremely satisfying when you hit your stride, and not that hard to pick up. There’s a big debate raging out there over whether the RB drums serve as an intro into real drums. Obviously guitar is completely different from game to real life, but as far as drums are concerned it’s still pretty much the same thing. Obviously you would have to adjust a little to a real drum kit, but when you see someone able to do this you have to admit it would probably not be a big step for them. This afternoon alone I ascended from hardly being able to keep a simple beat in the drum trainer to medium difficulty and there’s some songs I can do on hard. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get better yet. Rock Band 2 has by far the best track list of any music game to date. Looking at the list before purchase I knew it was for me even though I didn’t recognize a majority of the songs. So far I don’t actually hate the other stuff as much as I expected. Unfortunately there’s too much metal, too much being any. What I want from this game is classic hits most people know and can easily get into with maybe some lesser known modern stuff thrown in, and Rockband 2 comes oh so close to that mark. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best yet. You can also fill out your track list with songs downloaded from their store, admittedly at a cost, but if you absolutely hate most everything on the disc you’ll almost definitely find something there. You get “Still Alive” from the excellent video game Portal and “Charlene (I’m Right Behind You)” by Stephen and the Colberts as free downloads, they’re both great. For some reason games like Rockband often seem to be the butt of jokes on the grounds that you’re standing in front of your TV pretending to be a rock star, except that you’re not. When I play FPS games I don’t pretend that I’m gunning down men with lives and families, I just play the game, it’s a challenge of reflexes and little more. The same goes for Rockband. You may say that there’s a big difference between playing instruments and shooting people, but I say that it’s a comparison I’m going to continue to make so deal with it. A lot of people say how about you go out and buy an instrument and learn to play it. OK then, while I’m at it I’ll buy a gun and learn to shoot it. Again you’ll say that there’s a big difference to playing instruments and shooting people, but I say tell that to elementary school orchestras everywhere, those concerts can be excruciating. What’s weird is that often the people who tend to be hardest on Rockband are musicians. This is a big budget video game with a huge following that has practically created its own culture fad dedicated entirely to what you love and do for a living, why are you not excited about that?

Conclusion: Rockband rocks! 98/100 (Two points deducted for heavy metal music).


Mar 2 2009

Just So You Know

I received several complaints about the length of my domain name, and I admit it is quite a mouthful, or rather a fistful, seeing as you’re typing. So today I registered the domain ttdm.info, which redirects to here. So if you have lazy fingers and don’t feel like typing out thingsthatdontmatter.net to get to my site each of the hundreds of times you probably visit every day, you can now type ttdm.info, the two are interchangeable.