Geek Smithology

October 14, 2008

An Experiment (and Random Thoughts)

Filed under: Grab Bag,Personal,Sound by Nathan @ 9:31 pm

After a horrific run-in with energy drinks at the end of last week (Thursday and Friday are a blur – it was no longer my skeletal system that was supporting my weight so much as my taurine-thickened blood) I’ve decided to do what any programmer would in this situation – start hacking.

My first “experiment”, which was to just go to bed at some pseudo-random (but often way too late) time and then wake up horrifically early during the weekday and horrifically late (for relatively small values of late according to foo, who at three months and three days my junior occasionally calls me “dad”.[1] This was followed up by liberal (and I mean libertine – at one time I could be seen wandering wide-eyed and drooling, cradling seven empty cans of delicious Sobe Arush Blue (aka Fresca for men), all of which had been consumed earlier that day. As mentioned before, I believe there was some kind of caffeine/taurine blackout.

My next experiment will be to get the same amount of sleep every night (this will, of course, be hard on weekends) at the same time and see how this pans out. I figure it will take a few weeks to even itself out. I will settle on the arbitrary number of six, because that seems achievable and useful. I will try to contain my slavering devotion of beverages whose main concern is artificially providing mental focus via chemicals with little to no long-term study as to their safety to some amount that will allow me to be asleep in time to get my precious six hours.

You might think that because this is a blog, results would follow. While this might be true, since it’s my blog, we may never speak of this again.

In other news, Canada had its federal election today. I, of course, did my part by voting and hope you do to whenever fine votes are being given. Looks like I owe the Ront a coffee – while we both predicted a conservative win (although in the current Canadian political climate, “predicting” a Conservative win is quite the euphemism) I thought Harper would get the majority. He did not. Well played, sir.

In other, even more exciting news, while playing Rock Band tonight I totally grooved on Bowie and threw down a 100% on Moonage Daydream, on guitar, on hard. Now that was sweet. Then we scored 376K on More Than a Feeling[2], which has me absolutely convinced that we can take that sucker to 400K with only drums and guitar. (Medium on drums, Hard on guitar). Let me know if it’s been done. This isn’t my first 100% on hard in Rock Band – I previously did it with Should I Stay or Should I Go by the Clash, but that practically doesn’t count.

What I really want is some Elvis Costello.

[1] He should be thankful I’m not his dad, ’cause I’d make him take his pocketknife and find me a switch the size of my thumb so I could beat him to within an inch of his life, because that’s how it was done in the old-timey days)
[2] Check out the video, seriously – can you believe these guys?

October 12, 2008

My Son, the Guitar Hero

Filed under: Grab Bag,Sound by Nathan @ 10:43 am

1.jpg I don’t know if this is common, but Xander just pulled off a pair of 70% plus performances in Guitar hero (Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Slow Ride). He is four.

January 5, 2008

A word on Ratings

Filed under: Announce,Games,Sight,Sound,Taste by Nathan @ 9:14 pm

It would appear that if one wants to review things, there must be some sort of rating attached for quick judgment by a fickle readership. While I of course subscribe to the literary snob idea of writing the review as text and letting the reader make up his or her mind based on a careful reading and analysis, I realize that most people just skim a review for anything funny and/or inflammatory and skip to see what the score is.

So, without further ado, I reveal my rating system, which will heretofore be used to score anything and everything a review in the future. Please note that I review everything “as is” and “how I feel about it at the time.” There is rarely any conscious analysis and comparison against the greats of a particular genre or medium, or even against items of similar ilk.


five star

This means that I loved it. Go out and do whatever it takes to have the experience, even if it means watching Gigli.


four star

I liked it. Do whatever it takes, short of watching Gigli.


three star

It was “okay”. Check it out if the opportunity presents itself, but don’t go out of your way.


two star

I didn’t like it. It’s better than Gigli, but unless you love the genre or not having fun, don’t bother.


one star

I hated it. It probably is Gigli. If you have a dog-eared copy of The 120 Days of Sodom. on your shelf, this might be right up your alley. But don’t forget to pick a safeword…


September 10, 2007

Grateful Dead coming to a game console near you.

Filed under: Games,Sound by Nathan @ 7:48 am

According to this article from Gamasutra, the Dead will have a whole bunch of songs put into the Rock Band game. Sweet. If anyone wants to play, I wanna be Jerry. (but then again, who doesn’t?)

From the article:

According to a joint statement from the companies, the iconic group is making 18 master recordings from its diverse catalog available as digitally distributed game levels following Rock Band’s release this holiday season. Among the songs available will be the classic Dead tracks “Truckin’,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Touch of Grey,” “Sugar Magnolia,” and “Casey Jones.”

August 31, 2007

The Shuffle Game (…4 in a series)

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 8:25 pm

Yeah, I know, I know. I haven’t posted in forever and when I do, it’s just some music I listened to while I was skating today. Sorry.

  1. Fucking in Heaven – Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
  2. Atmosphere – Joy Division – Substance
  3. The Headmaster Ritual – The Smiths – Meat is Murder
  4. Numb – Portishead – Dummy
  5. Reptile – Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral
  6. Suffer Little Children – The Smiths – The Smiths
  7. Iron Man – The Cardigans – First Band on the Moon
  8. Well I Wonder – The Smiths – Meat is Murder
  9. Cumberland Blues – Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead
  10. Strangers – Portishead – Dummy
  11. Stepping Stone – Jimmy Hendrix – Kiss the Sky
  12. Caprice No. 18 (C Major) – James Ehns – 24 Caprices by Niccolo Paganini
  13. I Do Not Want This – Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral

Quick recap of the rules – pick your music player of choice, hit Shuffle, and write down the first 13 songs that come up.
For all those that get one – enjoy the long weekend!

July 8, 2006

Cool (As in Miles Davis) Geeks

Filed under: Industry,Sound by Nathan @ 5:18 am

Just caught this post over at Chris Pirillo’s blog with this video of a geek jam session @ gnomedex — a servicible rendition of All Blues. I have only one thing to say to snobby jazz musicians that want to cut it down – the code review is tomorrow ;-)

Anyway, as a bit of an artist myself, it’s cool to see another side of geekery

January 23, 2006

Review – Bjorn Again with Nearly Neil

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 9:31 pm

The travelling extravaganza known as The 70′s Show[1] descended upon Jack Singer Concert Hall on Saturday, January twenty-first in the year of our Lord two thousand and six and it was the end of the world as we know it. As a card carrying Sex Pistols fan, I’m not sure what hurts more to admit: that I went to a concert featuring Neil Diamond and ABBA impersonators, or that I enjoyed myself. Thoroughly. What the hell, my music tastes are so out there that anybody who is surprised by either declaration doesn’t know me as well as they think they do. But, enough about me…

As we entered the Performing Arts Centre, my wife was surprised to find that at 31 we were actually bring the average age of the crowd down by some statistically insignificant number. She tried to convince herself that they were there for a different show, but sure enough, as we took our seats in the nosebleeds we were king and queen of all we surveyed – a sea of white hair. I had to remind her that a) my parents like ABBA and b) my grandparents like Neil Diamond. Aside from a tendency to not get up and dance and to look at me like I was insane when I did, they basically stayed out of the way. Sometimes that’s the best you can ask from the fogies at a concert.

This whole adventure begain as a brave effort to take a bullet for my wife (apparently always going to movies that she doesn’t really want to see isn’t her idea of fun. Who knew?) But when Nearly Neil, resplendent in blue sequins, came out and started belting out America I was into it.[2] The guy had impressive range and was a lot of fun. He ran through a veritable cornucopia of hits: Holly Holy, Kentucky Woman, Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon, I’m a Believer, Forever in Blue Jeans, and Cracklin’ Rosie. Unfortunately for all involved he didn’t do Shilo or, tragically, Song Sung Blue[3].

This was followed by the main event – ABBA wannabes Bjorn Again. Aside from the music, which is the pop-disco you either love or hate but have a definite opinion about, the show was an eclectic mix of humour, audience participation, and KISS. Yes, KISS. About halfway through the set, the ladies went off for a costume change and the dudes threw down a monster cover of I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night that was arguably the high point of the show. They visited most of the songs I know and quite a few I didn’t during a hypnotic 80 minute set. When they said goodnight without singing their super-hits, my wife expressed faux concern.

Of course, everybody knew that they were saving that for the encore, predictably consisting of Take A Chance On Me followed by Dancing Queen[4][5]. There was a nice rap interlude during the former that was both comic relief and a chance to exercise my (in)famous b-boy moves. I thought that was it, but Nearly Neil came out once more to join Bjorn Again, forming an impromptu supergroup to perform a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline. It’s a little embarrassing, but I was so roused that I had to throw up the horns during the last chorus.

What can I say, Nearly Neil is fuckin’ metal.

four and a half star

[1] I imagine placing a definite article in place of the more familiar conjuntion used by a certain TV show was done to prevent litigation. Or I’m cynical — one of the two.
[2] Guilty Pleasure Moment: I like Neil Diamond. Hey, it’s better then that time you liked Boomtang Boys (or, god forbid, Aqua) “back in school.”
[3] You know…even I’m not sure if I’m joking.
[4] Is it just me or is the bpm for Dancing Queen far to slow for any self-respecting dancing queen to strut the proverbial “stuff”?
[5] Nathan’s top five encores, in descending order: Bourbon Tabernacle Choir tugging at the heart strings with Simple, REM playing around with Permanent Vacation, Erica Raum destroying Paganini’s Caprice No. 5, Jack Semple channeling Hendrix through Fire, and Thomas Manshardt throwing every last ounce of strength into Homage a Liapunov. I’m serious, it was his third encore (the crowd would not let him leave) and we thought he was dead when it ended.

January 2, 2006

Juxtapodsitions

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 2:18 am

You know, sometimes when you hit that little shuffle button in your iTunes/iPod it comes up with a couple o’ songs that just make you go “whoa.” Obviously this just happened, otherwise I wouldn’t be bothering to write this post. Anyway, check this out:

Song 1: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot
Song 2: Land Ho! – The Doors

Whoa. Not exactly life changing, but cause for a short respite for some philisophical rumination. Still on holidays, still not missing work. Hope everyone had a fun (and safe) New Year.

September 4, 2005

The Shuffle Game (3 in a series)

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 9:15 pm

It’s been a few weeks (been busy, forgot, you know the drill) but the Shuffle Game is back. Had a real nice mix come up this time, creating a pretty mainstream list. Best song in this bunch is a tie between 1 and 10. Most embarassing song? There isn’t one this week.

  1. Nowhere Fast – The Smiths – Meat is Murder
  2. Sexual Revolution – Macy Gray – The Id
  3. Been It – The Cardigans- First Band on the Moon
  4. Interlude 1 – Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle
  5. U.S. Blues – Grateful Dead- San Bernardino, 1977.02.26
  6. Manic Monday- The Bangles – Different Light
  7. Never Gonna Stop – Rob Zombie – Past, Present & Future
  8. Pulling Teeth – Green Day – Dookie
  9. Please Please Me – The Beatles – Please Please Me
  10. Suspect Device – Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material
  11. Crucify – Tori Amos – Tales from a Librarian
  12. I’m Not Sorry – Morrissey – You Are the Quarry
  13. The Wake-Up Bomb – R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi

For all those that get one – enjoy the long weekend!

August 9, 2005

Jerry Garcia – In Memorium

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 8:30 pm

Going home, going home
by the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

While the blogosphere takes a little time out of its day to mark the 10 year anniversary of the now infamous Netscape IPO (a whole raft of “where-are-they-now?” stories out of that busted bubble), I’d like to celebrate the memory of Jerry Garcia, who died on the same day. Contrary to popular belief, his last words were not “Netscape opened at what?”

While everybody seems to have their “where were you when you heard about JFK?” moment, I have a “where were you when Jerry died” moment. I was newly 21, in love, still idealistic enough to think that teaching English would be a noble profession and still young enough to sincerly believe there was enough time to become a rock star.

As was my custom @ the time, on the way to play a piano in one of the chapels on campus, I stopped by the student union to pick up a Dr. Pepper, because the pop was cheaper there (I guess ’cause they were trying to stick it to the man. Or something) As I approached the machine, I saw a stack of the campus rag and there it was: Jerry Garcia: 1942-1995.

All you unrepentant deadheads out there, remember to take a minute and reflect. Not on what we lost, but the legacy that remains.

August 7, 2005

The Shuffle Game (2 in a series)

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 10:20 pm

Okay, I have to give last week to Chris[1], but I got some killer tracks this week. I’m not gonna go out on a limb and say I got a god shuffle, but it was a good time.

  1. Teardrop – Massive Attack – Mezzanine
  2. Before You Accuse Me – Eric Clapton – Unplugged
  3. Gz Up, Hoes Down – Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle
  4. Halloween – Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters
  5. Bebot – Black Eyed Peas – Monkey Business
  6. All Blues – Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
  7. Out of Control – Chemical Brothers – Surrender
  8. On Vacation – The Robot Ate Me – On Vacation
  9. For the Glasty – djBC – Glassbreaks
  10. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division – Substance
  11. Toast – Tori Amos – The Beekeeper
  12. The Real Thing – Gwen Stefani – Love Angel Music Baby
  13. Listening Wind – Talking Heads – Remain in Light

This is pretty fun – send in your lists, folks.

[1] As a matter of fact, I spent $30 directly as a result of that list. While that’s partially the point, I partially want to call him a bastard. But I won’t.

July 31, 2005

The Shuffle Game (1 in a series)

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 8:58 pm

Okay, every Sunday (or so) I’m going to play a game where I start up iTunes, turn on Shuffle, and list the first 13 songs that come up. If everybody reading does the same, we should all see some stuff that we haven’t heard but might want to. Here are the rules:

1) Nobody talks about the Shuffle Game
2) Nobody talks about the Shuffle Game

Uh, that’s so lame I’m going to stop right now. There’s only one rule: you must put in the first 13 songs no matter what. Even if your wife “snuck behind your back” to download a bunch of REO Speedwagon and Michael Bolton, you have to list it[1]. Without further ado, here’s today’s list from me. The fact there are TWO tracks from Bruce McCulloch’s album Shame-Based Man in a shuffle that contains over 5,000 songs should be enough to make you question iTune’s shuffling ability. I might go to WinAmp next week.

  1. Dumb – Nirvana – Unplugged in New York
  2. Peace Frog – Doors – Morrison Hotel
  3. The Whistle Song – Frankie Knuckles – X-Tendamix Dance Mix ’92
  4. Arctic World – Midnight Oil – Diesel And Dust
  5. He Said, She Said – Bruce McCulloch – Shame-Based Man
  6. Il Vecchio Castello – Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra – Pictures at an Exhibition
  7. Take Me to the River – Commitments – Commitments
  8. Queen of Darkness – Ugress – Single
  9. Grade 8 – Bruce McCulloch – Shame-Based Man
  10. Territorial Pissings – Nirvana – Nevermind
  11. As I Wind Down the Pines – Tragically Hip – Music@Work
  12. Wake Up – The Walkmen – Everybody Who Pretended To Like Me is Gone
  13. Stay On Top – Kick Axe – Vices

[1] – My list had freakin Frankie Knuckles and Kick Axe in it, so you know I’m taking this rule to heart.

July 10, 2005

Review – Has Been by William Shatner

Filed under: Sound by Nathan @ 1:57 pm

November 2004, Toronto; I was there to become a better person. Well, at least a better manager. Preflight, I caught some bug that left me sicker than a dog (whatever that means.) I staggered into the Hilton, likely scaring the lady at the counter, and proceeded up to my room to pass out for the better part of the next day and a half. When I awoke, I took my course and when all was said and done, I figured I should do something in Toronto.

I walked until I found some city block with elephantiasis of the mall. I wandered without purpose, soaked in the leering prurience of unbridled consumer consumption, when suddenly I thought to myself “didn’t Shatner put out another album?” My mission, should I choose to accept it, would be to procure a copy of said disc. Turns out I was standing beside an HMV, so the mission was kind of easy. I dodged the hoi polloi and, safe in my hotel room, I put the disc into my laptop and gave it a listen. Turns out Ben Folds stepped in to produce and co-write a lot of the material, so not only is it not horrible, it’s actually kind of brilliant. Love or hate the “music” of the erstwhile Captain Kirk, you have to concede the point of his originality.

The set opens with Joe Jackson assisting on a rocked-out and dichotomous cover of Pulp’s Common People – it’s the perfect opener but doesn’t set the tone for the album at all. It then runs the gamut from Shatner’s deeply emotional memoir on the night his wife died in What Have You Done to a campy, church choir assisted rumination on the nature of death (“Live life like you’re gonna die/because you’re gonna”) in You’ll Have Time.

Stand out tracks include the vitriolic stream-of-consciousness blur of I Can’t Get Behind That (I guarantee that if you haven’t read the liner notes, when this comes on you will say “Is that Henry-fucking-Rollins?” and you’ll do a Cheshire Cat when you realize that yes, yes it is Henry-fucking-Rollins), the poetic and trippy folksiness of Together, and the best track of the album, That’s Me Trying. Penned by Nick Hornby (yes, author of High Fidelity) with the chorus filled out by Ben Folds and Aimee Mann (I’ve loved Aimee Mann since Magnolia), Big Willy’s delivery makes you think he’s talking about his life (“I know I haven’t been the best of dads/I’ll hold my hand up there/The reson that I’m writing is I’d like for us to meet/Get a little daughter dad action going.”) In the end , it’s a lot of fun, and when the first pass ended, I started it over again; it’s been in the rotation ever since. In the words of the man himself…

What are you afraid of?
Failure?
So am I
Has been implies failure
Not so
Has been is history
Has been was
Has been might again

five star

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