Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Straight-Through-In-Alpha-Order-Music-Listening Experiment Update, Volume 2

Well here we are almost another month later already. Christmas is around the corner. Time for another update on the music experiment.

Frankly, I'm starting to wonder if I can stick to it. I've only made it part way through the C's so far, having listened to about 1150 songs of now nearly 7800. I still have a lot of C's to go - about 200 left still.

The C's hasn't been all bad. Of course, some of my wife's Celine Dion sneaked into my list somehow. I had to expunge it with extreme prejudice. But Collective Soul - ah, Collective Soul, one of the best bands ever. That has been a highlight of this experience so far. And don't forget Coldplay, Counting Crows, Creed, The Cult, The Cars, and Christina Aguilera - that naughty little tart with the incredible singing voice. Go ahead - make fun. I really do listen because of the voice. Although I had to suffer through a lot of her early bubble-gum pop garbage.

Anyway, like I said, there's a lot to like in the C's and it has been a pretty good ride. But at the current rate I'm not going to be done for over a year. Do I have the commitment to stick to this? And for what exactly?

No. No. I am going to stick to it. If I do well, I should be through Def Leppard in a month - and if I do really well, maybe through all the D's. Dream Theater is in there though, and that's like 200 songs, along with Dokken. D's are also looking pretty good, but I can I finish the D's in one month? Doubtful.

(Image credit: wireshark.com via imdb.com)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Essential Albums: Queensryche "Operation: Mindcrime"

Artist: Queensryche
Album: Operation: Mindcrime
Year: 1988
Best Song You've Probably Heard: Eyes of a Stranger
Best Song You Might Not Have Heard: Suite Sister Mary

Wow. Operation: Mindcrime. If they ever put a heavy metal album in the Louvre, this will be it without question.

There's a lot of superlatives that apply to Operation: Mindcrime, and it might take a while to get around to them all, but here's a few:
  • Best Concept Album Ever
  • Best Rock Opera Ever
  • Most Artistic Heavy Metal Album Ever
  • Most Artistic Mainstream Album of the past 30 years
Of course, that's just my opinion, but my opinion is the only one that really matters here.

I'm not going to go into the back story of Operation: Mindcrime as it is amply documented in many places all over the Internet. Suffice it to say, the story is incredibly dramatic, insightful and even introspective. Without intending to leave out the other incredible Rychers, Geoff Tate is absolutely stunning in his heartfelt vocals, and the indispensable Chris DeGarmo sets the mood of every song with his incredible guitar work. Sometime when you have an hour alone at home or on a roadtrip, just crank Operation: Mindcrime and listen to it good and loud, uninterrupted, all the way through from start to finish. Listen to the story and put yourself in the place of Nikki. Then see if you can keep tears from your eyes as Nikki laments what has become of his life in "Eyes of a Stranger." Good luck with that.

By the way I forgot at least one superlative:
  • Best Rock Concert Ever
And on that note, I'm going to cheat a bit here and include Operation: LIVEcrime, the live recording of Operation: Mindcrime in concert, in its entirety, during the "Empire" tour. Queensryche in concert is simply amazing - one of the best live acts I've ever seen, and that's some pretty lofty company.

This album was originally released in 1991 and was incredibly exclusive and hard to find just a few years later. Fortunately Queensryche re-released it in about 2001. The live album is incredible, possibly better than the studio version. Just thinking of the incredible ovation at the end of "Eyes of a Stranger" gives me chills.

With the inclusion of this album, I have to add another best song, "Roads to Madness." The live version of this song is just raw power, and it is almost as though that song was meant to be on Mindcrime anyway - it fits right in to the story.

(Image Credits: amazon.com)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who Will Win The Bowl Games

So, it is time for the predictions as to who will win the bowl games. At least the ones that matter. Not all bowl games matter. For example, bowl games like the Sugar, Orange, and Toilet matter. Bowl games like the EagleBank and Super do not. So here we go:

  • Las Vegas Bowl - Whichever team Max Hall plays for. Yes, I know he attends BYU. But he sometimes plays for another team, like Utah.

  • Poinsettia Bowl - TCU. Has Boise State really played anybody good this year?

  • Car Care Bowl - West Virginia.

  • Citrus Bowl - Florida State. Wisconsin was an also-ran in the Big 10, which is really not much of a compliment at all.

  • Emerald Bowl - Cal. Home field advantage makes the difference.

  • Alamo Bowl - Missouri. The Big 12 is to the Big 10 as Mozy is to Wal-Mart. Awesome vs. not awesome. Moving along.

  • Holiday Bowl - Oklahoma State. The fourth-best team in the Big 12 South could be the conference champion in almost any other conference.

  • Sun Bowl - Pitt. Oregon State continues to lament what could have been and loses again.

  • Chick-Fil-A Bowl - Georgia Tech. This game is a tale of two teams going different directions. GT has the momentum.

  • Citrus Bowl - Georgia. SEC vs. Big 10? Please.
  • Rose Bowl - Penn State. Eh. Who knows if they will actually win. Maybe karma makes a difference in this one, in favor of good ol' Joe.

  • Orange Bowl - Cincinnati.

  • Cotton Bowl - Texas Tech. Not taking anything away from Ole Miss, but them beating Florida took a bit of luck. They wouldn't do it today. And they won't beat Texas Tech either.

  • Liberty Bowl - Kentucky. C'mon. East Carolina isn't even a real state.

  • Sugar Bowl - Alabama. Most Utah fans think the Utes will win. They have two reasons for believing this. One is that they are completely delusional. The other is that they haven't watched any other college teams besides Utah this year. Hey, I'd love Utah to win. I'd also like to win the lottery. But, like winning the lottery, it just ain't gonna happen.

  • Fiesta Bowl - Texas. Texas beat Oklahoma this year. Ohio State beat, uh, Michigan.

  • National Championship - Florida. This is a close, close game. Two really awesome teams. Florida's raw speed makes the difference.

  • Toilet Bowl - In this marquis matchup between Western Kentucky and North Dakota Culinary & Drama College, ND C&D wins in a landslide for the third consecutive year. It's a bit sad, really - Utah State did so well this year that they did not get to go to this game again. Perhaps that is why they fired their head coach.
What do you think? Do you have a different opinion on these games? I'd really love* to hear about it. E-mail your opinions to i.am.a.doofus@i.disagree.with.the.halfbadboy.com and let me know if you hear back.

* not really

Friday, December 05, 2008

We Are Jerks. Or, How the Confrontation Went, in Alternate-Reality-Land

Ah, MLMs. Golden opportunities for average joes like you and me to work like crazy to make other people rich. But other than that, not much at all like a legitimate business.

The curse of Mozy is to rent office space next door to an MLM company. Granted, this is not too difficult in Utah County, MLM capital of the world. Still, it makes one wonder what evil the founder may have done for Mozy to be cursed so.

Us on the bottom floor of the new Mozy building have the distinct privilege of sharing the floor with an MLM company, whose name will be withheld here synergistically to protect them, where "privilege" is like unto the privilege that Braveheart experienced to be disemboweled in public as penitence for his sin of wanting to be left alone, much like us.

MLMs are built upon the premise of getting rich without having to do anything. Everything is about appearance and affluence with MLMs. As I type we've got people pulling up in their rented black Mercedes or BMW to come in to yet another open house and try to impress each other. These guys act like they own the whole building, because that is part of the image they are trying to put forth. They are right this moment holding yet another open house which consumes the entire main entrance and main entrance foyer. This is done without any announcement, let alone request for permission, to the other tenants in the building - certainly not those of us on the main floor who share the foyer, entryway, elevators and bathroom. In fact, they are the smallest tenant in the building, but they act like they own the whole thing.

So it is really no surprise, especially to those familiar with Mozy culture, that someone finally had enough the other day and posted a little 8 1/2 x 11 picture comparing regular MLM-style magic juice with "Mozy juice" in such manner that the people across the hall could read it, if they walked up close enough. It is true that the sign made reference to magic juice, special berries picked by monk children high in the mountains in the early morning, and pyramid schemes in general. It did not mention our neighbors by name or necessarily even imply that they were related at all.
Actually the sign is pretty funny.

So I walk out the door for the purpose of conducting natural personal waste removal, and I'm accosted by a representative of said neighbor, demanding in polite tone that I take the sign down. So from here on, I'm going to describe the confrontation, which proves that we are jerks, although I do freely admit that I may be making some of this up.

Neighbor Enraged, Requiring Discipline: Hey, I'd like you to please take that sign down, it is offensive.
Me: What sign?
NERD: (pointing to the sign) That sign you guys posted attacking our company. It is disrespectful and offensive. I don't know why you would put something like that up, and I would like you to take it down.
Me: Well, I wasn't even aware that the sign was there until just now. I don't even know what it says.
NERD: It is offensive to our company. I would take it down myself, but I can't because it is taped on the other side of a window and the door is locked.
Me: So, if the door wasn't locked, you would just walk into our part of the building and take it down? You believe that if the sign is offensive that gives you the right to walk into our part of the building, where we are creating and discussing trade secrets and intellectual property, and take the sign down because you don't like it?
NERD: Well, I would just like you to take it down.
Me: You have a pretty big display of stuff inside your office doors. Some of those displays might be offensive to me. Should I just walk in there and take down whatever offends me also?
NERD: No. Alright. I wouldn't just walk into your part of the building. Will you take the sign down please?
Me: Well, I didn't put the sign up. It would be presumptuous of me to assume I can just take it down without consulting with whomever put it up in the first place.
NERD: You mean you can't just take it down?
Me: No. I can communicate your temper tantrum within the company and see if whomever put it up wants to remove it.
NERD: I don't see why you can't just remove it. It's disrespectful.
Me: You know what is disrespectful? You guys, holding your big open houses in the foyer of the building all the time. You invite people in, you take over the entryway and the entire lobby, which are all public areas of the building, but you treat them like they belong only to you. You make it so we don't feel comfortable even using our own restroom or walking out our own front door.
NERD: Well, I'm really sorry we do that.
Me: No offense, but you are apologizing as a part of trying to get me to do you a favor. I have no way of knowing whether you really mean it or not.
NERD: I still don't understand why you won't just take the sign down.
Me: For reasons that I cannot explain and are really none of your business anyway, I'm not at liberty to just take down a sign that I didn't put up.
NERD: But that sign is offensive!
Me: That's an opinion. What about the sign exactly is offensive to you?
NERD: Well, it is making fun of our product.
Me: (reading briefly) It says here it is talking about "magic juice."
NERD: Yes, exactly.
Me: Do you sell magic juice?
NERD: No! Calling it "magic" is derogatory. We sell fruit-juice for health-conscious individuals that conveys special healing powers.
Me: How much is this juice?
NERD: $42.25 per bottle.
Me: So, your juice is not magic juice?
Me: Okay. So it sounds to me like you charge over $40 for regular fruit juice, and that this sign doesn't apply to you. This sign is talking about magic juice. But you just sell atrociously expensive regular juice.
NERD: Um..
Me: Right?
NERD: Well, there's a phrase in that sign that talks about pyramid schemes designed to prey upon the naive and greedy.
Me: So?
NERD: That offends me.
Me: Is your business a pyramid scheme that preys upon the naive and greedy?
NERD: That's beside the point.
Me: No, it is the point. Either that phrase describes your business factually, or it doesn't describe you at all. Either way, you should not be offended.
NERD: Well, it IS offensive!
Me: Look, a statement saying that pyramid schemes prey upon the naive and greedy is a fact. it is like someone telling me, "Matt, your hair is going gray." That is a fact. There's no reason to be offended by that. If someone were to tell me, "Matt, your hair is turning pink," that also is not offensive, because it is not true. Either way, it's not offensive.
NERD: But...
Me: I think what you find "offensive" is not really offensive, but disconcerting. You're afraid the naive and greedy people that come in here to do business with you will find out the truth about your business. You're afraid they will find out they have been deceived, and that in fact the whole business model is based upon deceiving people.
NERD: (threatening) Now look here. You'd better get in there and take down that sign, or...

Just then, as he started vigorously towards me, I snapped my fingers. Around the corner walked a half-dozen large, smelly, long-haired guys dressed in black slacks, black shoes, white socks, and black Apple t-shirts. Yes - the Black Ponytails. Mice and keyboards started flailing about as the severe beatings began.

Suffice it to say, I thought we had an understanding. The broken tiles in the foyer were replaced this morning. Yet, today another open-house was held in the foyer. I may need to call those friends of mine again...