Friday, November 25, 2005

Pretty Tony

The day I took my mask off, my face was missing for two days, for the record G, came back a year later - whole new identity , Tony Starks Pedigree...
I'll let ghostface do the talking for this one, or perhaps check the comments for a post from Faceless, cuz he'll have a word or two.

Oh and here are three great Ghostface tracks in various forms.
(Be Easy, Yeah yeah Yeah feat. Big Pun, The Mask feat. MF Doom)

Ghostface Killah - Ironman

Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientelle

Ghostface Killah - Bulletproof Wallets

Ghostface Killah - The Pretty Toney Album

Koala Bear Infestations - The Comedy of Mitch Hedberg

I was late in discovering Mitch Hedberg. It was actually the internet response to his tragic death at the age of 37 earlier this year that led me to his stand-up. As everyone who has seen him or heard him will attest, he was one funny motherfucker.

Stand-up comics lead a bizarre life, they are like rock stars except without the fame and wealth. Mitch Hedberg said it much better than me with this quote: When you're in Hollywood and you're a comedian everybody wants you to do other things besides comedy. They say "Alright you're a standup comedian, can you act? Can you write? Write us a script." They want me to do things that's related to comedy but not comedy. That's not fair. It's as though I was a cook, and I worked my ass off to become a really good cook, and they said "Alright you're a cook... can you farm?"

Mitch was always on the verge of greatness. In an interesting Slate Magazine article, which can be found here, Sam Anderson discuss how Mitch went from being “the next Seinfeld”, as Time Magazine declared, to a mini-obit lost in a paper cluttered with the high profile deaths of Terry Schiavo, Johnny Cochrane and the Pope.

In a world full of Chris Rock and South Park (and don't get me wrong, I love Chris Rock and South Park), Mitch Hedberg stood out as a comic because his jokes were old fashioned. Rarely did he rely on swearing or humiliation to make his jokes funny (although, like all comics he did make fun of himself alot), and I think that is one of the reasons it was so hard for him to break into the mainstream.

Below are links to 2 CD’s that Mitch released, and here (and here) are two websites that have a bunch of video footage of him doing his routine. As a little taste before you download this stuff, here are a collection of some of my favourite Mitch Hedberg jokes. As a disclaimer, they really don’t work as well on paper – his delivery is very hard to describe, but very poignant – he once told an interviewer that he has an “almost mathematical” feel for syllables.

Foosball messed up my perception of soccer. I thought you had to kick the ball and then spin 'round and round. I can't do a back flip, much less several...simultaneously with two other guys... that look exactly like me.

My roommate says, "I need to shave and use the shower. Does anyone need to use the bathroom?" It's like some weird-ass quiz where he reveals the answer first.

When you go to a restaurant on the weekends and it's busy they start a waiting list. They start calling out names, they say "Dufresne, party of two. Dufresne, party of two." And if no one answers they'll say their name again. "Dufresne, party of two, Dufresne, party of two." But then if no one answers they'll just go right on to the next name. "Bush, party of three." Yeah, but what happened to the Dufresnes? No one seems to give a shit. Who can eat at a time like this - people are missing. You fuckers are selfish... the Dufresnes are in someone's trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths. And they're hungry! That's a double whammy. We need help. Bush, search party of three! You can eat when you find the Dufresnes.

I hate turtlenecks. I have such a weak neck. Plus if you wear a turtleneck it's like being strangled by a really weak guy ... all day. And if you wear a turtleneck and a backpack it's like a weak midget trying to bring you down.

Some songs have a special meaning for a man in regards to a woman, but this can backfire because maybe the song had deeper meaning to begin with, but now it's been cheapened... 'We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a better life so let's keep on givin'.' 'Remember that song baby? The night I fucked you in the pet cemetery?"

My apartment is infested with koala bears. It's the cutest infestation ever. Way better than cockroaches. When I turn on the light a bunch of koala bears scatter. And I don't want them to, you know, I'm like, "Hey, wait, come back. Let me hold one of you...feed you a leaf."

I hope the next time I move I get a real easy phone number. Something like, 222-2222. I would say sweet. People would say, "Mitch, how do I get a hold of you?" I would say, "Press 2 for a while, and when I answer, you will know that you have pressed 2 enough."

Enjoy Mitch Hedberg:

Mitch Hedberg - Mitch All Together

Mitch Hedberg - Strategic Grill Locations

For additional Mitch Hedberg info check out his official site here.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Computers That Sing

Maestro of the future, Aphex Twin otherwise known as Richard D. James is one of the more precise and satisfying creators of the electronic avant-garde. If you don't like electronic music, move away slowly from this site then turn and run. I find Aphex Twin and others like him,
Squarepusher, Autechre, Musiq, Future Sound of London to name a few, are a very refined taste, not something people can just "get into".

Aphex Twin - Richard D. James

Sounds a little pretensious? It is, this type of music is the new classical. Extremely organized and structured, every detail meticulously placed to inspire a desired effect. Cerebral music, not unlike the symphonies of old, you have to pay attention to the detail to feel it... Anyway I digress, personally I love it, but I generally listen to Aphex Twin on headphones to get the full effect, and to not annoy others around me. A creepy story (maybe rumour) surrounds the naming of the "Richard D James" album, apparently the name was actually originally his brothers, who died at birth, and his parents just gave him the same name...Perhaps why he dubs himself Aphex Twin? Best song on the album is "Girl/Boy Song", a combination of heavy rhythm and drum beat (boy) running underneath a beautifully light symphonic overlay (girl), the love story plays out right in your ears.

"Drukqs" is Aphex Twin's most recent release, the electronic compositions are broken up by sections of classical piano and other organic selections. Also, try and find Chris Cunningham's Aphex Twin videos (here is one, Windowlicker 2002), very disturbing but fascinating in their own right.

Speaking of videos, we move forward to another renowned electro-maestro, Nobukazu Takemura. I don't know much about him but one late night I caught the video for "Signs" about a little robot (off the cover) saving the world from the tyrants of industry, beautifully animated it matches the song perfectly, more of a film than a music video. Again if you can find this video watch it, but I can't find it anywhere so good luck!

Nobukazu Takemura - Signs

It Picked the Wrong Man to Hunt

It was easy for me to write about Bionic Commando, because there was a nostalgia I had for the game that was desperate to get out. My relationship with Contra is far more complex. I can’t be nostalgic for the days of Contra, because it was far too significant. Contra was released the same year as Bionic Commando – 1988… but popular culture had been creating Contra for several years before it was released. Contra begins with the movies Predator and Aliens.

"You're one ugly motherfucker."
"It's game over man!"

The first time I watched both Predator and Aliens are absolutely two of the ‘fuck-off-movies-can-be-that-cool’ moments in my life. The mad-scientist cocktail of horror and action speaks directly to the little part of every guy that is ten years old – but it is like crack when you are ten years old. Now imagine you are Major Alan 'Dutch' Schaeffer… just typing that sent chills up my spine… that is Contra.

Blue Pants, meet Red Pants, he's your partner.

Unless you read the manual (and if you have a Nintendo sitting beside you why the hell are you reading, what are you 50?) you wouldn’t know the plot of Contra. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the plot isn’t amazingly well thought out. In the section of the manual titled ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE, you are told the following:

In 1957 a large object from outer space crashed into Earth's Amazon basin, near ruins of the lost Mayan civilization. Scientists world-wide heralded the incident as a trivial cosmic occurrence, and thus the collision was soon forgotten.

Now, thirty years later, rumors of an evil force have swept into the Pentagon's front office, and tales from frightened villagers of a hideous being with an army of alien henchmen are sending chills down the spines of top military brass.

Unwilling to upset current political stability, an all-out assault on the region has been overruled, and instead, two of America's most cunning, courageous and ruthless soldiers from the Special Forces elite commando squad have been selected to seek out and destroy these alien intruders.

Congratulations, pal, you're one of the chosen. But before you take pride in being the best, be warned.

You're about to come face to face against Red Falcon, the cruelest life-form in the galaxy. He arrived on Earth thirty years ago (that's six months time in an alien's life) to establish a foothold from which he will attempt to conquer our world and then use it as a stepping stone toward his ultimate fiendish goal: domination of the entire universe.

Needless to say, playing hero won't be easy. But you have no choice – you must be a hero. Because if you fail, life as we know it will cease to exist, and the vile Red Falcon will rule forever.

If you succeed, doesn't matter, because I doubt you will.

That is some heavy shit. How are you supposed to be able to face The Red Falcon…

A rare image of Lance from the Japanese manual.... is he smoking a joint?

Lance (Code Name Scorpion), AKA Blue Pants: Being an elite commando in the Special Forces takes a special breed of hero. You need the cunning of a lion, the spirit of a Viking warrior, and the intelligence of a modern day field general. The manual speaks highly of Lance, but all it really needed to do was repeat the Predator tagline: “It came for the thrill of the hunt. It picked the wrong man to hunt.”

Red Pants has a snazy red headband to match his outfit.

Bill (Code Name Mad Dog), AKA Red Pants: In the manual Bill’s comment is way more random than Lance’s: Only after these qualities are soaked into your soul can you stand a ghost of a chance saving humanity from the inhumane Red Falcon. What the hell does that mean? Is a ghost of a chance a bad thing?

Size doesn't matter.

Bill and Lance have another advantage… the code:

From origins unknown

I don’t know how I first heard of the code… I don’t know if anybody does. Like steroids, it affected the integrity of the game, but it is impossible to know Contra without it. When playing two-player Contra, the code literally saved many friendships as Contra also gave people the option to steal lives… which lead to fist-fights across the world. Although I have never tried it, legend has it that the famous Contra code can even be used in modern games such as Silent Hill 3 and Metal Gear Solid 2.

The "spray" gun truly is a great invention - why hasn't the army invented it yet?

Much like Bionic Commando, the ending of Contra is confusing to the mind of a ten year old. You first had to fight your way through the jungle, several bases, and the infamous Waterfall level (where if you moved too fast the second player would be viciously murdered by the bottom of the TV screen).

Goddamn waterfall - it cost me a lot of friends.

After the torturous Ice level (don’t ask how South America became Antarctica), you literally had to enter the belly of the beast. During the final battle, you were literally shooting the heart of the Alien as little mini Aliens jumped at you.

Lance could never love again.

Unlike Bionic Commando, the final scene left a lot to be desired.

I think I now understand the plot of Lost.

Click here, shut your eyes, and remember you can accomplish anything….

Jackal was also an AMAZING game.

One final note: in Europe they screwed the whole game up by making everyone a robot because they were afraid of people killing other people. I can only imagine Grand Theft Auto if everyone was a robot.

That is some weak-ass crap!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Music to Ween a Kitten

Another top-notch show by Run With the Kittens last night, even though it was bloody freezing outside they still pulled a solid crowd. The show began slow and easy with Nate Mills at his "lounge singing" finest - working the room, killing the ladies with words and song. The evening quickly progressed in both volume and energy. Damn fine as usual. If you haven't downloaded their album do so now, although it's nowhere close to the live show it's a good first release.
Now one of the best things about these guys is their random choice of cover tunes, I've included the originals of a few in this post to give you an idea:
(Kittens version "Tool of the Opera" an obvious homage to Tool)
Gangsta Gangsta - N.W.A.
(a trippy, acoustic ballad)
Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr.
(from Blues to Country to Jazz depending on the night)
Another thing that struck me last night is the unique live show these guys bring to the table every week, the only comparison to another band I know on earth remotely similar is Ween. SO, here is a great live Ween album, "Paintin' the Town Brown" I apologize for all the downloads, for some reason the song files are huge so I had to break the double album in 5 pieces, enjoy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Jazz Singer...

Another jazzy post from the vaults. I've decided to drop a few more Chet Baker albums, I'm feeling him these days, his soft almost throaty trumpet playing provides a nice warmth on these crisp November days, not unlike a bottle of bourbon in front of a fire. The first is by far his most famous, consisting of almost all vocal tracks, and the favorite title track, "My Funny Valentine" is essential for all collections - even if you don't like jazz I recommend this. "Chet" is an all instrumental album with some jazz superstars on board; Pepper Adams (amazing Baritone Sax), Kenny Burrel (Guitar), Bill Evans (Piano). I bought this for "You and the Night and the Music" which is the song, for all you French film buffs, that the evil, siamese twin sisters use to control the flea in the brilliant and beautiful "City of Lost Children". Moving into the future, here is another trumpet player turned flugel horn, of the Canadian persuasion, has played with Chet in his visits to Toronto, still playing at the Rex on Queen St. On this album, "Lost in the Stars" Guido's style is very similar to Chet's. This album won a Juno in 2004 for best Jazz album, it is a nice collection of standards, but I have to warn you there are some cheesy strings.And from Basso to Bossa, I found this album a few weeks back on Charivarious, (an amazing place to find some good jazz, and hip-hop) I've never heard of the band, can't find an album cover (so I'm just using a random on with the number 3), but it is a solid bossa album from a trio made up of piano, drums and bass. Completely different from the first 3 posts, but up here for serbalicious who loves the Samba, check the Bossa...
Bossa 3 - Bossa Nova

Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine

Chet Baker - Chet

Guido Basso - Lost in the Stars

Saving the World, in All it's 8 Bit Glory

If you were born in the late 70s, you were one of the first children born into a world where video games could be brought into the home. This has had a profound impact on everyone from this generation, and I will be sporadically writing articles on certain games that affected me significantly. Today I will speak to one moment in time, one video game, which consumed me for almost a full year… 1988.
Looking back, 1988 was a key year in my development. Dangerous Liaisons and Die Hard were released… and dreamed of being Bruce Willis and being with Uma Thurman (later I have come to understand that They Live was the greatest movie of the year, but I didn’t see it until about 1998). He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper and G'N'R Lies were released… and I laughed, and I sang… And although I can’t quite remember, 1988 was probably the year that the Nintendo first made it into my home. My parents, being interested in computers for their more traditional use (word-processing, chess), had an Atari since before I can remember, but Nintendo was a whole different level… the promised land had arrived, a machine had been created and its sole purpose was to fuck with any attempt to be diligent and responsible.

In his younger days, Frank Steel was madly in love with Uma Thurman... that never changed.

Quickly following my introduction to the glorious hedonistic world of Nintendo was the self-sacrificing world of BIONIC COMMANDO! In the chart below the black glob represents where Bionic Commando existed in the history of video games – as you can see, it was at that crucial moment right before the explosion of interest. I hold it personally responsible.

Before I begin discussing the really ‘important’ Bionic Commando details, I have two questions that have never been answered.

Super Joe sucks.
Why the hell did they send Super Joe (yes his name is Super) in first? Obviously, Rad is a much better choice… he has a Bionic arm, haven’t they seen the Evil Dead movies?Rad is Bad-Ass!
This brings me to the second point, shouldn’t there be some explanation as to why his arm is Bionic. Yes, his name is Rad, and he is tough, but throw me a freakin bone here…
The story of Bionic Commando seems pretty simple. Rad must save Super Joe from Generalissimo Killt, a really bad man. He uses his Bionic Arm to swing around and kill all the bad guys, no matter what they say to him…

Spikes - nothing for a guy with Bionic Arm
You're the nerd!

But, Generalissimo Killt has two big tricks up his sleeve, the Albatross, and Master-D.

Holy Fuck!

The Albatross is fucking huge. The first time I saw this thing, I figured Rad had given it a good shot, but there was no way this thing was going down. Terrified I continued mashing buttons until something good happened… but wait…

Bad Man!

Master-D is Hitler? This is where Bionic Commando got a little to weird for my 10 year-old mind. I was just killing bad guys without any concept of what was going on, but looking back on this game things are just fucked. In Japan, where the game was originally made, the title was “Top Secret: Hitler’s Revival”… but, when it was translated to English, they changed the Nazi’s into Badd’s. This was a decision made by the Nintendo censors, but it is just odd. What the hell is wrong with killing Nazi’s?
Once you finally get to the end of Bionic Commando… you are in for a treat. Rad has killed Master-D, and the base is about to self-destruct. But wait… where is Super Joe? Rad risks it all to run back in… The commander is yelling for him to leave Super Joe alone… there isn’t time!!!


What’s that noise?

Just made it...

Rad, you are a bad-ass dude!

Super Joe could be a little more appreciative... bitch!

Rad and Super Joe get married, and live happily ever after!

Screw you guys, what did you do?

Urban Hunting Tips Pt.4

It wasn’t until I got my photos from last month’s hunting expedition developed last week that I realized my suspicions were true. There are badgers living in the city. Now as you all know, badgers aren’t native to the city environment, so they’ve been acting very unpredictably which makes them real hard to track.
So all you hunters out there who are up for a challenge, this week’s article is for you. First off, I would suggest bringing along your Remington 870 MCS Shotgun, which’ll allow you to be ready for anything, since it can be assembled as an Accessory Weapon, a Ballistic Breaching Tool, a CQB Weapon or a High-Capacity Conventional Shotgun. When hunting badgers I also like to bring along a few back-up weapons as well. I’d start with two Smith & Wesson Model 1911 Pistols strapped in my thigh holsters as well as my 15mm CO2 Hypodermic Tranquilizer Dart Gun in a concealed shoulder holster under my vest. That’s just the minimum. Feel free to bring along anything else you might find useful, such as a hunting knife or some small grenades.
Now the first thing I realized about these badgers was that they weren’t found in the usual remote areas where I hunt most urban animals. No, these critters seem to prefer busy, public places like nightclubs… that’s when they appear out of nowhere. And even stranger, is that other people don’t seem to be scared by them.

The first few times you run into a badger you might be caught off guard, but don’t let this discourage you, cause they will always be back. The technique that I’ve found to be most successful is one I like to call ‘Drop N’ Dart’, especially in crowded nightclub situations.
First of all, you must remember not to seem surprised by the badger if it sneaks up on you, just pretend it’s not there. If you act aggressively towards it, it will most likely get hostile and attack you first. So just keep walking as though you don’t see it. Then get up to a balcony where you can look out over the dance floor, because this is most likely where the badger is heading. Next you want to get out your net in preparation for dropping down on the badger. So once it’s underneath you, throw down the net and jump down after so that you land on top of the badger, which will break your fall. As you land try to kick the badger in the head the make sure it gets knocked out. At this point you should have your tranquilizer gun in hand, ready to shoot the badger in the neck which should be exposed from it’s fall.
Once the badger is out cold, make sure the net is tied tightly around it and then it’s safe to drag it home with you where you can make a more discreet kill.
Happy Badger Hunting!

Monday, November 21, 2005

RZA, Razor Sharp

Crap, thought I had an hour to write this now I have five minutes. Short and to the point the RZA is a genius, created the Wu empire and single handedly developed a truly original sound for east coast rap and eventually hip-hop in general. Best known for his work as a producer, he is also an unique rapper, bending lyrical riddles with some sort of crazy lisp/accent that he obviously picked up while travelling through time. What I'm trying to say is Robert Diggs is a bit of a superhero, with alter egos abound, the finest being Bobby Digital. This album, (I love the cover art) is probably the best example of the RZA's ever evolving style, tweaked out vocal samples string loops and beeps abound - of course all guaranteed digital. I've also included his soundtrack to the film "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samuri", which is a little more organic but still pure RZA. I'd love to find an instrumental version of this if anyone has it. Oh and on that note, if anyone has Gravediggaz "6 Feet Deep" that would be much appreciated as well. Here are the goods, and I'm out the door.

RZA - Bobby Digital

RZA - Ghost Dog Soundtrack