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Suskie Susquatch

Title: Obligatory TT afterthoughts and such (no sappy bullshit).
Posted: September 01, 2009 (08:47 PM)
I don't know where Felix's TT interest thread ran off to, but one of his miscellaneous facts was that in any case of a second-round draftee winning TT and then taking on the role of captain the next year, that team would fail to make the playoffs. I did set out to win this thing, but it seemed like breaking that curse was a good starting point. And now here we are.

I try not to take anything that goes on here too seriously anymore, but I'll be honest: I have a soft spot for TT. It's the reason I came here in the first place, and being drafted by a titan such as Zig and eventually winning the championship, in a tournament filled with writers better and more experienced than myself, was kind of a thrill. (In a nerdy way.) I approached this one with the same enthusiasm, happy, at the very least, that enough people signed up to make the tournament a reality in the first place. It was a huge disappointment when last year's was canceled.

Now, I had a policy with my teammates that real life took priority over TT, and there were numerous times throughout the competition when I had to say, "Look, I'd love to do this now, but I'm going out with some friends tonight, so I can't. Sorry." True and Schultz seemed to help each other out far more than I helped either of them, which was actually how it was with Espiga and me in '07 under the command of Captain Zig, so whatever. I'm a procrastinator anyway, and all five of the new reviews I wrote for this year's TT were done at the very last minute (unless you count The Conduit, which I promised Jason I would write, and which I hadn't planned on using for any of the matches).

So things should have progressed well, but after the fifth week I began running out of energy, or rather, I'd run out of games that I really wanted to review. I write best when it comes naturally to me. Forcing myself is almost never a good thing, and there were a few half-reviews that never saw the light of day given my ideas for them hadn't been organized before I began writing them. So I kind of stopped caring, and that's when I came to a problem: I was responsible for two very enthusiastic teammates who had been working hard and, in my book, deserved to win it all.

In the end, as lazy as I got, I'm glad I was able to pull through and lead my team to victory, if only for their sakes. (As I've noted to several people, the fact that I've already won TT once significantly dampens the appeal of winning.) If I compete next year, I need to plan things out a bit better, because my problem here was that I expended a great deal of my energy early on and was forced to dig into my backlog quite a bit in the second half. I really don't want to accept much more responsibility for my team's victory; having two draftees as committed and loyal as True and Schultz is what really makes a difference. Maybe I'm making too much of this, but I hope you guys all enjoyed interacting with your teammates as much as I did.

So, I want to issue one final thank you to everyone involved, for making this year's TT an exhausting and rewarding one. It's been a hell of a trip and I had a great time.

A few random notes that wouldn't go anywhere else:

  • I think Schultz's 4-5 record does a terrible disservice to how much he's improved over the course of the tournament. Compare his first review (which won 3-0) to his last review (which lost 0-3) and you'll see that records don't mean shit. I'm terrified of where this guy will be a year from now.

  • I was pretty easy going with my teammates throughout. The one time I intervened was when True tried to use his Infamous review, which presented the rather ludicrous conclusion that moral choices aren't the biggest gaming cliche of the last five years. This was only a week or two after Jerec commended Disco for not going that root... while reviewing KOTOR II, one of the games that made the whole moral choice thing popular to begin with. I hasten to add that True's review is still well written; the only review of his written during TT that I'm genuinely not fond of is Lunar 2. Otherwise, I feel he did an exceptional job.

  • I just recently realized that there wasn't a single team we didn't beat. We lost twice during the regular season, to OD's and Boo's teams... both of whom we coincidentally faced again in the playoffs. How convenient. YOU HAVE ALL FELT OUR WRATH!

  • I had originally intended to write all new content for this tournament like I did last year, and while I obviously fell short of that, the one exception I knew I would make was MadWorld, which I was saving for Zig. Beating him was the one thing I DEFINITELY wanted to do here, and it wound up being the first thing I accomplished. I still consider it my best review, though a few other new ones come close in my mind (namely Eternal Darkness and Homeworld).

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Title: Got some surprisingly good photos of the Flaming Lips show.
Posted: August 31, 2009 (12:51 PM)
They are here. Check them out, as I think they give a pretty good feel for just how grandiose their set is.

I actually took well over a hundred pictures at the show but the process of uploading them at that site is so slow that I only posted the best ones. Also, they appear in order of the most recent so they're actually backwards, but whatever.
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Title: Hey Flaming Lips.
Posted: August 30, 2009 (11:17 PM)
You guys are an awesome live band, you know that? I knew that before I even went to your show last night on Festival Pier, at which point it was only confirmed. You guys really put on the best live act I've ever seen. So it really, really sucked that a massive thunderstorm came through and forced you guys to cut the set short after only eight songs.

I don't blame you for that. I know you don't want to get electrocuted, and I know that even though Wayne promised you guys would keeping playing no matter what, the city forced you to shut down. I don't even care that, acknowledging beforehand that there was another storm coming, you could easily have cut the opening acts down to one, or shortened the amount of time you guys spent fucking around in between acts. I don't even want any sort of compensation, as I felt that even in the short amount of time you guys were on stage, I got my money's worth.


I happen to know you had Pompeii Am Gφtterdδmmerung on your setlist last night. How convenient, for that's the song that introduced me to you guys, and one of my favorites of yours. Too bad we never got a chance to see it live, right? So here's the thing. I know you'll still be playing Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and Do You Realize and all that shit whenever you come back around these parts, so I won't bother requesting those. However, at your next Philly show, you had better fucking play Pompeii Am Gφtterdδmmerung. I don't want a fucking storm cloud to be the only reason I never got to see that song live.

P.S. Thanks Wayne for getting back in the bubble when the audience started chanting it during the "rain interlude." You rock.
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Title: See, here's the thing.
Posted: August 23, 2009 (11:51 PM)
Sheetz > Wawa
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Title: Hey.
Posted: August 12, 2009 (10:30 AM)
New Jersey sucks.

Posted: August 02, 2009 (01:26 AM)
Alien 3 is currently being featured on G4's feature Movies That Don't Suck.

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Title: If you've got your PC shit together, read this, because I need your help.
Posted: July 23, 2009 (05:09 PM)
About a year ago I bought a laptop for school and discovered, lo and behold, laptops suck for PC gaming. Whoops. I'm trying to make the most of what I have here, and while I've been able to get most of the old games I want to play running on it, I've occasionally run into issues. Months ago Deus Ex was acting up, and now it's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic that's giving me problems.

I'm able to install the game just fine, but when I try to run the game, I get an image of a ship to show that the game is loading, and then... nothing happens. I did some investigating and realized that there could be two major problems: (a) I hadn't installed the latest KOTOR update, and (b) my video card driver was out of date. I solved both problems easily, first by downloading the game's latest update from BioWare's site, and second by looking up Nvidia's latest video driver for my laptop. Both installed flawlessly. But then when I went into the KOTOR setup menu to run a scan and see if the driver issue had been solved, I ran into this:

Now, first of all, how does a six-year-old game decide when my video card driver is out of date, and how could THAT be the problem anyway when my laptop isn't even a year old yet? But furthermore, I got this screen RIGHT AFTER I downloaded and installed the most recent video card driver for my system. It IS up to date. There is no questioning that. Hell, a game that hadn't been working on my computer for the exact same reason was running flawlessly now. But, just to be sure, I downloaded the exact driver recommended there, and installed it to my computer. And I still got the EXACT SAME MESSAGE, despite the fact that I had just gotten done installing it.


And now when I run the game I get an error message comprised entirely of indecipherable symbols:

And I keep getting the same issue, where I see the loading image but then nothing happens. What the fuck am I supposed to do? I've done exactly what it's told me and I've gotten nothing so far. If anybody has any suggestions on how to get around this, please run them by me. Thanks.
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Title: Guess what song I'm sick of hearing?
Posted: July 12, 2009 (09:06 PM)
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Title: Suggestion.
Posted: July 12, 2009 (05:13 PM)
Take your mother to see Brόno.
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Title: I saw a meteor last night.
Posted: July 07, 2009 (12:20 AM)
I have a friend who stargazes a lot. What I've learned is that if you look into a clear night sky for a long enough period of time, you see some pretty cool shit. Satellites are all over the place. Shooting stars are pretty frequent. But just last night I saw something absolutely mind-boggling.

I was at his place, and following a rousing session of LittleBigPlanet, we pulled out his telescope to get a look at Jupiter, which can actually be seen quite clearly after midnight in this part of the world right now. (Looking at it through a cheap telescope -- making out its rings, moons, etc. -- is a very cool experience in a geeky way.) While we were getting set up, we saw something in the sky that, for a split second, we thought was a firework. It was bright enough to light up the entire area for a brief moment, and it burst much like a firework would, and this was Independence Day weekend, after all. But it didn't trail, made no sound, and wasn't accompanied by any other fireworks. I guess our initial logic was that what we'd just witnessed was too big and brilliant to be anything natural.

Well, according to this article he found, people everywhere from southern Pennsylvania (where I am) to central Maryland saw the same thing. About twenty seconds after the flash, we heard a very low rumbling, which the article reports would have been the object breaking the sound barrier.

It was a brief, weird, and fucking amazing moment. I guess it's one of those "you had to be there" things, but us seeing it depended on so many circumstances: We were still awake, we were outside, and we happened to be stargazing at the time. And like I said, what we saw was so brilliant that we actually mistook it for a firework, if that should give you an idea of just how big and bright it was. So yeah, that's the coolest thing to happen to me this past week.

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Posted: July 05, 2009 (11:47 AM)
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Title: Well this sucks.
Posted: June 25, 2009 (04:04 PM)
Apparently Michael Jackson just died.

Title: My review for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Posted: June 24, 2009 (10:54 PM)

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Title: Music of 2009 (update 6/09)
Posted: June 19, 2009 (09:18 PM)
I'll try to do this once a month. Not that any of you care.

Faunts – Feel.Love.Thinking.Of. (9)
Wilco – Wilco (The Album) (9)
Junior Boys – Begone Dull Care (8)
The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (8)
The Mars Volta – Octahedron (8)
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns (8)
Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing (8)
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (8)
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (8)
Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind (8)

Doves – Kingdom of Rust (8)
Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light (8)
Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer (7)
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (7)
Handsome Furs – Face Control (7)
maudlin of the Well – Second the Part (7)
Other Animals – s/t (7)
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why There Are Mountains (7)
311 – Uplifter (7)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! (7)
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (7)
Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (7)
Bob Dylan – Together Through Life (7)
Morrissey – Years of Refusal (7)
Silversun Pickups – Swoon (6)
Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor (6)
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (6)
Mastodon – Crack the Skye (6)
Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You (6)
White Rabbits – It’s Frightening (6)
Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (6)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t (5)
Moby – Wait for Me (5)
U2 – No Line on the Horizon (5)
Gui Boratto – Take My Breath Away (5)
Andrew Bird – Noble Beast (5)
Dredg – The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion (5)
Graham Coxon – The Spinning Top (5)
The Boy Least Likely to – The Law of the Playground (5)
Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream (5)
Asobi Seksu – Hush (5)
Depeche Mode – Sounds of the Universe (4)
The Veils – Sun Gangs (4)
Ocean – Pantheon of the Lesser (4)
Brakes – Touchdown (4)
Dan Deacon – Bromst (4)
Woods – Songs of Shame (3)
The Field – Yesterday and Today (3)
Sonic Youth – The Eternal (3)
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (3)
Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown (3)
Chris Cornell – Scream (3)
Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions (2)
Wavves – Wavvves (2)
Papa Roach – Metamorphosis (2)
Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade (1)
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Title: When did GameFAQs reviews start looking like crap?
Posted: June 19, 2009 (06:36 PM)
Wall of text/10

I have not submitted a review to GameFAQs in two years and this does not make me want to start.
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Title: In which I rank the colossi of Shadow of the Colossus.
Posted: June 14, 2009 (08:36 PM)
Finished the game today, and I'm still very much on the fence about it. I don't retract what I've said about the controls, camera, and framerate, but it's still a fascinating game that's ambitious enough in scope and unique enough in concept that I was compelled to see it through to the end. Will probably review it eventually, but for now I'll rank the colossi from least painful (best) to most antagonizing.

1. Colossus #7 (eel)
2. Colossus #13 (flying snake)
3. Colossus #15 (gorilla)
4. Colossus #16 (mountain)
5. Colossus #5 (bird)
6. Colossus #2 (bull)
7. Colossus #1 (humanoid)
8. Colossus #6 (bearded humanoid)
9. Colossus #14 (armored bull)
10. Colossus #3 (humanoid with sword)
11. Colossus #4 (horse)
12. Colossus #10 (sand snake)
13. Colossus #8 (lizard)
14. Colossus #11 (small bull)
15. Colossus #12 (water buffalo)
16. Colossus #9 (turtle)

Might provide individual commentary on the colossi if I'm bored enough, as it'll likely help my eventual write-up since the game so vastly differs from battle to battle.
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Title: I played Shadow of the Colossus for the first time today.
Posted: June 08, 2009 (03:40 PM)
It was astonishingly bad.

I think I can honestly say I've never played a game that controlled this poorly. For a game constructed entirely of bosses battles that focus primarily on platforming elements, it's an enormous detriment when play control is this unresponsive. Why does the main character never seem to move in the same direction I'm pushing the analog stick? Why is he able to cling to the colossi's fur like a motherfucker one moment, and then clip right through their armor the next? Why won't the fucking camera stay still? And for the love of god, why would you develop a game this epic in scope for a system that clearly cannot handle it? I'd be surprised if the framerate rises above 15fps at any point during ANY of the individual colossus battle. It's as close to unplayable as a playable game has ever been.

Oddly enough, I got all the way to the ninth colossus (the one you're supposed to flip with the geysers) before giving up. And now I want to go back and finish it (and probably will the next time I'm in New Holland). The game is so artistically beautiful, and the soundtrack so fantastic, that I found myself oddly compelled to continue playing. I get the feeling that if they'd ironed out the controls and designed it for a console that could actually handle its scale, I'd find myself totally agreeing with all these rave reviews.

Really, I hate that the game has this hold over me. It's literally one of the most broken games I've ever played, yet I want to keep going.
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Posted: June 01, 2009 (02:20 PM)
Look at this shit.

And still not a single headlining show in North America. And no shows whatsoever in the Philadelphia area.

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Title: Good lord. Valve caved.
Posted: May 30, 2009 (12:27 AM)
They've reverted back to the old system while keeping the new one. And, having hit all three spy milestones on my own time, I found all three in my inventory today.

You're forgiven, Valve. We'll forget this whole incident ever happened.
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Title: I was glad that they took the DK Rap out of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Posted: May 28, 2009 (06:21 PM)
And then I found out it was replaced by the Sonic Heroes theme.

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Title: Best song of the year so far.
Posted: May 28, 2009 (04:40 PM)
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Title: Team Fortress 2's new upgrade system is terrible.
Posted: May 25, 2009 (12:38 PM)
Since Team Fortress 2's release, Valve have been routinely creating new content for the game and releasing it through various updates every few months or so. Each patch comes with a class upgrade, in which a designated character (there are nine) gets three new weapons/items, and a list of achievements that must be completed as the means to unlock said items. The idea was that these achievements would be something that the player would accomplish naturally through hours of experience with a single class, and hence, the items would unlock themselves. But Valve's success with this system has varied, and as a result, whenever a new update is released, we see a surge of "achievement servers" designed specifically to allow players to grind achievements and earn unlockables at a faster rate.

Just last week, Valve issued one of the biggest patches yet, the Spy vs. Sniper update, which covered two major classes by granting them a few of the most eye-opening unlockables we've seen so far: The sniper gets a spy shield and a slick bow and arrow, and the long-anticipated spy update yields two new cloaking watches, one that feigns death and one that offers potentially infinite invisibility. With this update, however, Valve reworked the system. Players were grinding for achievements but weren't earning any of the new items. Meanwhile, they kept receiving equipment for other classes that they'd already unlocked. This led to inventories overflowing with duplicates while the new goodies were nowhere in sight.

Valve issued a statement a few days ago addressing the "questions" (read: complaints) the new system has inspired. It works like this: As you play TF2, an opportunity is opened at random intervals to receive an unlockable item. You won't always get one, but you have a good chance. The random nature of the system is meant to be more friendly to new players, which makes no sense. The unlockable items were supposed to be both a reward and an incentive. They meant you were motivated enough with a particular class to deserve the best equipment that class had to offer. Now, everyone's at equal odds, and the achievements have become entirely irrelevant, except for personal glory.

Valve apparently were uncomfortable with the fact that committed players had to join achievement servers in order to earn new items at a fast, predictable rate. But their new system is broken in such a way that a variation of the same thing happens. Since item drops are distributed based on time spent in-game, players can now spectate matches and leave their computers for hours at a time and have an equal chance of earning unlockables as someone who plays TF2 obsessively. And now, in addition to the usual spy/sniper achievement servers, we see a surge of "idle" spectator-only servers designed to collect item drops while the player is away or sleeping. This is silly and counterproductive, and absolutely does not solve any problems.

And what about the countless duplicates players are earning, like the five Sandviches stashed away in my inventory? There are plans to incorporate a trading system, which, again, is absurd, because any committed TF2 player earned the old items ages ago and are only interested in the spy/sniper upgrades. It seems that in their attempts to appeal to newbies, Valve have abandoned those that have been playing TF2 since the beginning.

I did manage to find the Ambassador out of pure dumb luck, and using it has been a blast so far. I'd happily give the report on the other new items if I could, y'know, find them.
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Title: System Shock 2 is progressing very, very slowly.
Posted: May 20, 2009 (01:50 AM)
I played System Shock 2 a long time ago and have very vague memories of enjoying it. Considering how convincing Lewis's recent review of the game was, I figured I'd dig it out of the archives (i.e. borrow a friend's copy, which he has also not played in ages) and give it a go.

This was two weeks ago. Since then, I have made roughly two and a half hours of progress. This is because I have only ever been able to play for about thirty minutes at once before closing out so I can move on to a game that is fun and interesting.

But I made a commitment here. You see, for some reason, I went in expecting System Shock 2 to be really great, despite the constant comparisons the game has drawn to its spiritual successor, BioShock... another ludicrously overrated game. And let me be perfectly clear: System Shock 2 does NOT get off to a good start. It's slow, monotonous, not REMOTELY scary, and packs some of the most poorly implemented RPG elements I've ever encountered in a non-RPG. I am not enjoying myself.

But no, I said. This will not be one of those games that I play for an hour and then dismiss. I will see this one through to the end, no matter what it takes. I haven't even reached SHODAN yet, which means I've yet to experience the game's biggest selling point, if the rave reviews are to be believed.

But I'm pessimistic. The problem is that I'm not a superficial person, my BioShock review notwithstanding. I judge games as games first and foremost. If they can provide me with an intriguing plot or intimidating villain, great. But they need to function as games. And at this rate, unless System Shock 2's design lags are somehow rectified by the time this SHODAN arrives, I do not expect to be giving this one a favorable score when my inevitable review eventually rolls around.
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Title: Reaction to Lost season finale.
Posted: May 14, 2009 (04:10 PM)
I'm... gonna go lay down.
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Title: Don't read this if you don't want to laugh at someone's death.
Posted: May 13, 2009 (12:34 PM)
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Title: A blog entry about two very different concerts. Also, Star Trek.
Posted: May 12, 2009 (07:26 PM)
The Killers @ Susquehanna Bank Center (5/8/09)

Joy Ride
Change Your Mind
Somebody Told Me
For Reasons Unknown
I Can't Stay
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Smile Like You Mean It
This Is Your Life
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
Mr. Brightside
All These Things I've Done
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
When You Were Young

Anyone who pays close attention to this blog (so, no one) already knew that I was planning on seeing the Killers on Friday, and that I was a bit reluctant to go, but that my decision to do so hinged on the fact that they are generally renowned as a very, very good live band. As someone who's had mixed feelings towards even their more popular songs (Mr. Brightside and Human, in particular), I can honestly say that the Vegas foursome put on a terrific show that was really ignited by the power of their ecstatic fanbase.

Before going, I glanced at the setlist for their Madison Square Garden show (which took place during the first leg of their North American tour), and while most of the songs remained intact, including their cover of Joy Division's Shadowplay, a few rearrangements were made: Joy Ride was the opener, in what remained the WTF moment of the show. (It's not a bad song or anything, but not a very exciting opener, especially when their previous choice had been Spaceman, arguably their best song and a great way to kick off a concert.) Losing Touch, one of the few great Day & Age songs, was mysteriously missing, but otherwise the Killers ran through all of their biggest and most recognizable hits; I mean, look at that setlist. It's hard to trust a band that has hit it this big without a truly "great" album on their resume, but their concert lineup was chosen carefully and with few hiccups. A Dustland Fairytale stuck out as the only particularly weak choice.

There were three songs that I really wanted to hear. The first was Spaceman, honestly one of my favorite songs from last year and one that absolutely erupts on stage; it didn't disappoint. The other two came in the encore: Hot Fuss opener Jenny Was a Friend of Mine was the only song of the night introduced by name, setting off the audience beforehand and inspiring a cheer from me; and When You Were Young, the only genuinely great track from Sam's Town and the only song they could possibly have closed with. Musically speaking, the Killers don't really added anything to the studio versions of their songs when on stage, but there's something about being surrounded in every direction by screaming fans, jumping and shouting and waving their arms around, that makes the live experience a thousand times better.

The one big disappointment of the show, which actually had nothing to do with the Killers, was that the supposedly outdoor venue remained indoors for the show's entirety. This was my first visit to Susquehanna Bank Center, but its location couldn't be more perfect: On the riverfront right across the Delaware with a fantastic view of the Philadelphia skyline. I was hoping the Killers had planned to open the walls at a climactic point in the show, but no such luck.

The Killers are from Las Vegas, and that's really demonstrated in their showmanship; Flowers wasn't afraid to talk but wasn't as chatty as, say, Chris Martin was when I saw Coldplay back in November. And while their set looked cheesy at a glance (a row of fake palm trees was all we got), the Killers certainly weren't above using spectacle to enhance the performance, and as stupid as lyrics like "Are we human or are we dancer?" or "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" are, it's hard not to chant along when the words blind you from a forty-foot wall of lights and the thousands of enthusiastic fans all around you are following suit.

I've been to better shows, by bands I've liked far more. But the Killers give you exactly what you come to their concert for: Arena rock, as bright and loud and dazzling as you'd want it to be. Good for them.

(The opening band, I found out later, was called Chairlift. I still would have wanted to see M83, who opened for the first North American leg of the tour, but Chairlift filled the void nicely. Good, shoegazy stuff, and they actually have a song I recognized: Bruises, which played recently over Apple's iPod Nano commercials. It's a catchy song and I'm glad I got to see these folks in an actual arena setting.)

Leonard Cohen @ Merriweather Post Pavilion (5/11/09)

Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure for Love
Bird on a Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who by Fire
Chelsea Hotel #2
Waiting for the Miracle
Tower of Song
The Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Take This Waltz
So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
I Tried to Leave You
Whither Thou Goest

Anyone who's familiar with Leonard Cohen should be able to guess that his show was of an entirely different breed. The full concert ran nearly three hours, with an intermission and three encores (yeesh). As the gorgeous Merriweather Post Pavilion (yes, the one Animal Collective named their most recent album after) filled up with an audience largely over twice my age, it became clear that no one attending a Cohen show would do so expecting a riot. These people came to watch an aging poet clench his fists, fall to his knees and huffs his beautiful lyrics on a more passionate and intimate level than the most seasoned of arena rock veterans could hope to rise to. And that's what they got.

Cohen, now in his 70s, is known as a songwriter first and a performer second, and while he's certainly not much of a singer, his voice seems to oddly have improved with age. Furthermore, much like Bob Dylan, he's so good at weaving his words into delicate poetry that a good singing voice isn't required to make his work renowned. There's little debate that his show was a class act, since a man on Cohen's level can afford professionalism and some of the best musicians and backup singers his set requires. He was gracious to his audience as well, and they returned the favor: These were sophisticated folks, who reacted to individual lyrics as if being told a story by a very close friend. Cohen, an oddly seductive figure, almost seemed to arouse the crowd in such forthcoming love songs as I'm Your Man.

The one major exception of the night was the legendary Hallelujah, for which the audience was eerily silent, as if any disturbance would put at risk Cohen's ability to deliver each heartfelt verse with increasing gusto. (Though his one variable line, "I didn't come to the Merriweather just to fool you," was recognized as an intentional crowd-pleaser and was greeted as such.) The song won a standing ovation, a reaction that was otherwise only earned when Cohen took or left the stage.

But even putting aside Cohen's one universally recognizable hit, there's an indiscernible charm to seeing the legendary poet share his work on stage in front of a thousand appreciative fans. His chilling spoken-word performance of A Thousand Kisses Deep, without the aid of instrumentation, was arguably the finest moment of the night, and even his stage banter during such hits as Tower of Song (in response the backup line's haunting repetition of "doo dum dum dum de doo dum dum") felt carefully constructed and thought-provoking. His showmanship even improved since his show in London last year, as he held off on the constant name-checking, opting instead to introduce his band members at the end of each act.

I couldn't recommend this show to anyone unfamiliar with Cohen, but if you know what you're getting into, be sure to catch this phenomenal show. It's been nearly fifteen years since his last U.S. tour, and there's no guarantee he'll be around for another fifteen.


Finally, I managed to catch Star Trek in IMAX on Friday, only my second time seeing a feature film in such a theater (the first being The Dark Knight). I don't have much to say about the film since I'm honestly sick of hearing (and talking) about it, but in short: Yeah, it's good. I know virtually nothing about the series at all, and the Trekkies in the audience seemed to be enjoying the film even more than I did, but the plot was very easy to follow and focused on building a likable cast of characters. Mission accomplished, thanks in part to the exceptional casting.

My one complaint was that the film could have used a better villain. As Nero, Eric Bana didn't get much screen time and wasn't very intimidating during the few major scenes he had. His plan is what ultimately ties the original series to the reboot, however, so hopefully this is just something that'll get better with future installments. Please?
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Title: Say WHAT?!
Posted: May 08, 2009 (01:56 AM)
There's going to be an American remake of Oldboy? Starring WILL SMITH?


What the HELL, Hollywood? Why must you always come along and destroy foreign films that are fine as is and don't need to be remade? First Let the Right One In and now this? WHY DON'T YOU JUST FUCKING REMAKE THE HOST WHILE YOU'RE AT IT?!
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Title: I think I just got out of jury duty. Also, the city's attempts to liven up the experience.
Posted: May 07, 2009 (02:49 PM)
Last semester, I received a summon for jury duty in the mail, which was a little unnerving until I realized that it wasn't addressed to me, and that the responsible student workers in the mail room had accidentally placed the important legal document in the wrong mail slot. Crisis averted.

Okay, well, today I got one for real, which was unnerving until I realized... wait, nope, it's legitimate. Fuck. Except that the questionnaire I had to fill out stated that I had to be a resident of Philadelphia in order to participate; if not, then I was "disqualified" (they make it sound like a bad thing). Here's the thing: I'm technically a Philadelphia resident now, but I'm leaving in a week and will be back in the manure-soaked pastures of Lancaster on June 1, the day I'm supposed to attend. With the details enclosed, the form has been sent back, and hopefully this is the last I'll hear of this.

So, crisis averted again, I hope. On the plus side, my roommate and I got a kick out of city's transparent attempts to make the jury duty experience more appealing:

First they refer to jury duty as an "experience" and a "privilege," and then they try to butter me up by reminding me of all the wonderful "attractions" I can visit during my merry little field trip into the town. I'll excuse them of not knowing that I literally go to Center City at least once a week for my history class, but what seems odd to me is that they try to make the trip to Philly sound like a vacation, when in fact anyone who actually qualifies for this LIVES THERE. Unless they're talking about the county of Philadelphia, which even then is pretty small and only really extends to that stretch of land north of Camden.

I guess "rediscover" is the key word there -- as in, you've already discovered it a long time ago but you might as well make your time spent there enjoyable, because goodness knows jury duty won't be.

This whole thing put a damper on my day, but tomorrow will be better. I'm going to see Star Trek in IMAX, and will then head over to Camden to catch the Killers. YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW, but listen: They're supposed to be a damn good live band and the venue is this outdoor place on the riverfront that has an amazing view of the Philly skyline. And you know what? I actually like some of their songs, so there. This could wind up being a big mistake, or it could be awesome. I'll be sure to give the report tomorrow (or the next day if I'm tired or have better things to do).
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Title: Junior Boys @ First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia (5/6/09)
Posted: May 07, 2009 (12:01 AM)

The Equalizer
Double Shadow
Parallel Lines
Bits and Pieces
Count Souvenirs
The Animator
In the Morning
Under the Sun

When the doors opened at 8:30 (the show's scheduled starting time, I'll add), there were only about a dozen people in line, and we all commented to ourselves how sad that was. But the show didn't start for another 45 minutes, during which at least 150 more came. We were all packed into the basement of the building (which, down there, you'd never know was a church), where the tight space, yet still relatively small crowd, made for a more intimate concert setting.

Max Tundra opened the show. I'd never heard any of his material before, but his glitch/synth pop has been compared to Dan Deacon, which didn't exactly make me optimistic. (Pitchfork loves him, naturally.) Having seen him live, I still doubt I'd ever listen to his music casually, but it's hard to deny how much fun he was at the show. His music is messy and absolutely all over the place, and his performance complemented that, as he pranced and sprawled and waved his limbs around like a maniac. (This was made more amusing by his characteristics of being short, bald, and British.) By the end of his set, the audience (most of whom were there to see Junior Boys) were cheering wildly; they loved him. He was the perfect choice for the opening act because his job was to get the crowd riled up for the main event, and he did exactly that.

Junior Boys (whose recent album, Begone Dull Care, is one of my favorites of the year so far) mounted the stage to the tune of two of their best songs, Hazel and The Equalizer, the former being their current single. The sound was excellent and Jeremy Greenspan's vocals never faltered. The inclusion of a live drummer was an excellent choice, as it morphed the band's soft electropop into an hour-long rave, with most of their songs really coming to life on stage. Work and Parallel Lines, the already impressive six-and-a-half-minute opening tracks to their new album, became headbanger epics; Bits and Pieces was the best song of the night, a jump-up-and-down, throw-yourself-around four-minute riot of an act. Even Double Shadow, a track I've never been too fond of, really seemed to benefit from the live setting and was another highlight.

(Oddly enough, Birthday, their first single and probably their most famous track, was the one song that felt like a downgrade. The overemphasis on percussion seemed to clash with the song's cool tranquility, though I guess subtlety and discretion wasn't one of the show's themes. Guess it's a good thing they didn't play Dull to Pause.)

The Animator and Count Souvenirs stuck out as the only particularly weak picks of the night, as even the normally enthusiastic crowd seemed a little subdued while they were being played. Also, two songs I wanted to hear, Three Words and FM, were unfortunately absent -- the latter in particular is a shame because I've read reports of Junior Boys playing that song during this tour. But the show's outstanding finale made up for it: In the Morning set the audience on fire, and their encore was an extended version of Under the Sun, and by the end of it I don't think there was a single person in the crowd who wasn't dancing.

Great show, overall, and a very tiring one. I doubt many of you have even heard of these guys, so if you're into this sort of music, definitely check them out. (Their MySpace, where you can listen to some of their music, can be found here.) And if they happen to be stopping near you anytime soon, definitely consider going. It's cheap and totally worth it.

Note: Adding to his unique personality, Tundra closed the show by reading a scathing review of his work by a seemingly homophobic Philadelphia journalist, thanking us for picking him over Franz Ferdinand, and then playing a techno remix of So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music. I like this guy.
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Title: Impressive.
Posted: May 05, 2009 (05:03 PM)
29 reviews and Star Trek is still at 100%. I mean, all movies have to drop eventually, but this one's lasted a remarkably long time.

Title: Hicks.
Posted: May 05, 2009 (12:25 AM)
Here and here.
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Posted: May 02, 2009 (11:05 PM)
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Title: I will be reviewing Zelda II soon, and I will not be scoring it favorably.
Posted: May 02, 2009 (02:13 AM)
Just giving you a heads-up.
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Title: A much longer list of 2009 music.
Posted: April 29, 2009 (10:33 PM)
Faunts – Feel.Love.Thinking.Of. (9)
The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (9)
Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing (8)
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns (8)
Junior Boys – Begone Dull Care (8)
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (8)
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (8)
Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind (8)
Doves – Kingdom of Rust (8)
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why There Are Mountains (8)

Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light (8)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! (7)
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (7)
Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (7)
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus (7)
Morrissey – Years of Refusal (7)
Graham Coxon – The Spinning Top (6)
Mastodon – Crack the Skye (6)
Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You (6)
Andrew Bird – Noble Beast (5)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t (5)
U2 – No Line on the Horizon (5)
Gui Boratto – Take My Breath Away (5)
The Boy Least Likely to – The Law of the Playground (5)
Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream (5)
Asobi Seksu – Hush (5)
Dan Deacon – Bromst (5)
Depeche Mode – Sounds of the Universe (4)
Ocean – Pantheon of the Lesser (4)
Brakes – Touchdown (4)
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight (3)
Chris Cornell – Scream (3)
Wavves – Wavvves (2)
Papa Roach – Metamorphosis (2)
Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade (1)
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Title: Hey Janus, I found your house too.
Posted: April 26, 2009 (01:03 AM)
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Title: The Orange Box is $9.99 on Steam this weekend.
Posted: April 25, 2009 (04:18 PM)
EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THIS SITE should be making this purchase if they do not already own the game. If not, considered yourself excused from HG.
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Title: If you use Firefox, read this.
Posted: April 24, 2009 (10:26 AM)
There's a free tuner available called FireTune that tweaks and adjusts your FireFox configuration to make the browser run MUCH faster. Pages load quicker and YouTube is noticeably faster. It only takes a minute to download and use, and it's absolutely worth the effort. Check it out!
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Title: I found my car on Google Earth.
Posted: April 22, 2009 (01:19 AM)
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Title: Best TV edit ever.
Posted: April 21, 2009 (09:28 AM)
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Title: It's April 20th: Happy birthday Hitler.
Posted: April 20, 2009 (01:28 PM)
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Title: You know what sucks?
Posted: April 19, 2009 (09:49 PM)
Both of the elevators in my building are stuck. I live on the tenth floor.
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Title: Okay, so here's how I'd rank the Zelda games.
Posted: April 16, 2009 (03:44 PM)
(Inspired by discussion in Zig's contest.)

1. Ocarina of Time
2. The Legend of Zelda
3. Majora's Mask
4. Oracle of Ages
5. Link's Awakening
6. Twilight Princess
7. Oracle of Seasons
8. The Wind Waker
9. A Link to the Past
10. Phantom Hourglass
11. The Minish Cap
12. Zelda II

Title: Sweet.
Posted: April 16, 2009 (09:30 AM)
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Title: Hi, I'm Twitter!
Posted: April 09, 2009 (04:53 PM)
I want to be the most popular website on the internet but I don't want to buy servers that can handle the traffic! I'm stupid!
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Title: If anyone still hates Roger Ebert for his claim that video games are not art, perhaps this will make it up.
Posted: April 08, 2009 (01:21 PM)
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Title: A message to those of you with Netflix.
Posted: April 07, 2009 (09:09 PM)
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Title: Here's what I think about Crank: High Voltage.
Posted: April 05, 2009 (01:49 PM)
Any movie that has a Linkin Park song in its trailer is not worthy of my time.
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Title: I have an announcement.
Posted: April 02, 2009 (12:18 PM)
I have officially stopped watching Heroes.
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Title: To fuel my excitement for the upcoming tour: The 25 best Muse songs ever.
Posted: March 31, 2009 (01:16 PM)
25. Rule by Secrecy
24. Megalomania
23. Overdue
22. Uno
21. Falling Away with You
20. Knights of Cydonia
19. Blackout
18. Sing for Absolution
17. Sunburn
16. Apocalypse Please
15. Space Dementia
14. Map of the Problematique
13. Muscle Museum
12. City of Delusion
11. Bliss
10. Take a Bow
9. Showbiz
8. Plug In Baby
7. Stockholm Syndrome
6. New Born
5. Time Is Running Out
4. Butterflies and Hurricanes
3. Starlight
2. Citizen Erased
1. Hysteria

I'm not counting b-sides, otherwise Coma, Shrinking Universe and Eternally Missed would definitely score a place on this list.
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Title: You know what movie is going to suck?
Posted: March 30, 2009 (08:02 AM)

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