Archive for March 2007

March 28th, 2007

For Some Reason This Exchange Struck Me as Really Funny

Project Manager: We should probably get some footage of the honey-harvesting that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is doing.

Camera Operator: So we’ll have to put on the suits and film the students going into the bee boxes?

Project Manager: Yes.

Camera Operator (sarcastically): Great.

Project Manager: What is it? Are you allergic?

Camera Operator: No. I just…don’t like getting stung by bees.

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March 22nd, 2007

Time-Lapse of I-440

03220701

  • 1920×1200 (works at 1920×1200, 1680×1050, 1440×900, and 1280×800)
  • 1600×1200 (works at 1600×1200 and 1024×768)
  • 320×480 (works on the iPhone and iPod Touch)

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March 17th, 2007

Excuse Me While I Go All “High Fidelity” on You

A while ago, my friend Thurston sent an email to a group of people he knew were into music, asking them what they thought the five worst songs ever recorded were. I was honored to be in this group.

He asked everyone to provide not only their list, but the reason(s) why they chose the songs they did. He also asked everyone involved to copy everyone else in on the list when they wrote him back.

Only about a quarter of the group (5–6) actually finished a list and sent it out before everyone forgot that that initial email was ever sent (1–2 days). However, these responses were really good. Though I know there are things that suck worse than bad music, I was able to make my list in my head surprisingly quickly. I just never got around to putting my reasoning into words. I certainly wanted to — I enjoy the compilation, analysis, and organization of information that goes into quality list-making, almost as much as I enjoy good, old-fashioned music snobbery — but I didn’t have the time to transcribe my thought-process…until now.

Though I didn’t set out to do this, I now realize that all of these songs (with the exception of #1) fall into the category of “disappointments.” In other words, these are songs that, in my opinion, should have been good, yet were major let-downs. There are more stupid/annoying/poorly realized songs, I know (particularly in the “top 40” sector) but these are the songs that really hit close to home for me….

5. Better Than Ezra-“Extraordinary”

I picked this song because it was the single off of their 2002 album Closer, but it could just as easily have been anything they’ve released since 2002. Because of their material from the 90s, I’ll always have a place in my heart for this band. And while they flirted with shameless cheesiness on How Does Your Garden Grow? (“I Like It Like That,” “Happy Day MaMa”), there are enough good songs on that record to make up for it. Everything on every album since however has sounded like nothing more than 2–3 minutes of desperate pandering to get played on mainstream radio. Or even in a T. G. I. Friday’s commercial. Inexplicable. Very sad.

4. Weezer-“Beverly Hills”

Everything I said about Better Than Ezra goes double for Weezer. Anything they’ve put out since The Green Album could have taken this spot. Pitchfork is often unnecessarily hard on artists, but when they give an album you’ve released a “0.4 out of 10,” you’re doing something wrong.

3. Nada Surf-“Fruit Fly”

Lyrics are not a strong point for Nada Surf. There are a lot of bands I really like for which this is the case. As long as you can write melodies and play your instruments — which Nada Surf can — I can overlook it. They wouldn’t be on this list if they had not come up with the dumbest multiple-point-of-view song ever. Half of this song is sung from the perspective of a guy who leaves food out on his kitchen counter (without going into why)…the other half from the perspective of a “swarm of fruit flies” that finds it and starts flying frantically around it. It is quite intense and dramatic. During the song, there is not so much as a hint that the band is aware of how silly this concept is.

2. Radiohead-“Subterranean Homesick Alien”

Yes, I’m going to catch some flack for this one, I’m sure, but this song is bad. So bad it keeps me from being able to listen to “one of the greatest albums of all time” all the way through. For starters, I am fully aware that 2/3 of this song title is lifted from a Bob Dylan song title (which does not even make sense as that song’s title). This bothered me, first listen. Also, Ok Computer is supposed to be about a 1984-type future, overrun by technology, right? Why was there a need for a corny, alien-abduction story? The way the words are sung doesn’t sync with the music, rhythmically or melodically. Granted, that “Uptight!” part is pretty cool and would almost have saved it, if, during the rest of the song, the tone on the guitar playing those three-note-lines didn’t sound like something a 14-year-old with a Fender Squire, 10-watt Peavey amp, and Boss multi-effect-pedal-sheet would have come up with. This is what they give us to follow “Paranoid Android!?!” They really are nuts.

1. Bush-“Glycerine”

I’m pretty sure Gavin Rossdale made up this entire song in the studio as the tape was rolling (à la the Dana Carvey-choppin’ broccoli skit). It is nothing beyond the most obvious, overused ballad-chord-progression in rock and roll history – I major-V major-VI minor-IV major – over and over and over. (See “With or Without You ” by the U2. Also “Push” by Matchbox 20. Also “Closing Time” by Semisonic.) Actually in this case I believe the progression is simplified to I 5-V 5-VI 5-IV 5, right? (Did Gavin Rossdale know anything besides power chords? I’m guessing “no.”) The verses are not narrative, contain no consistent themes or metaphors, and barely even rhyme. The chorus is one word, which I don’t even think is a real word. Basically the lyrics, as a whole, are just good enough to seem significant to a lonely sophomore in high school for a period of four days in 1996. And that, my friends, is not very good.

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