The Orange Cream in Your Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates

Happy Emo Valentine's Day

It is Valentine's Day. Again.
And thus it is time for another S.A.D. post. Which is difficult, as I don't have much left in me on the topic. For those who don't know, I have made several installments on or around this infamous day which are basically lists of things that singles can do to sabotage Valentine's Day and subsequently celebrate Single Awareness Day.
The previous installments are The Cockroach in Cupid's Atomic Blast (last year) and Contentment Charade in the Single's Parade (the year before). And they are just as (in)appropriate this year as on any Valentine's Day.

Here are some more ideas:

1. Change your Facebook relationship status. That'll have everyone, single and otherwise, take notice. I would've suggested making up a person with the name "No one" or something similar. However, I just tried to make an account and it wouldn't allow non-names. So much for being married to The Sea. Since this isn't possible, just change it every hour. Single, to married, to single, to in a relationship, to single, to it's complicated... It'll have people worrying about you.

2. They say every rose has its thorn. So dump a bucketful of nails at the parking lot entrance of every florist shop you can find.

3. Sell discount chocolates out of your trunk. Sell them for ridiculously cheap, but make sure you put price tags on them. And make the tags near impossible to get off, so that the significant other either gets a mangled box of chocolates, or is appalled at how little was spent. Or, even better, box the chocolates yourself. Sell them at a reasonable price, but enough to make a profit (might as well get paid). Then inside every box put a promotional coupon that says "Did you enjoy your free chocolates? Please write to us with your suggestions!"

4. Dress up as Cupid. But instead of a bow and arrow, use a paintball gun.

5. Print up hundreds of Secret Admirer valentines. Slip them in random mailboxes. Preferably those of the already attached. I mean, who doesn't love tension?

6. Where applicable, steal the birth control pills of select women. Switch them with antihistamines or similar looking and otherwise harmless over the counter drugs. After all, Family Day is in just 4 days.
For those who don't know (mainly out of province or country readers) Family Day is a new stat holiday this year, instituted by the current Government of Ontario. The timing of it (Feb. 18) is interesting, to say the least.

Huzzah to the singles. Or something.

Tim's Uber-Compilation of Musical Quintessence (Top 20)

Multiple discussions have prompted me to compile a list of my Top 20 songs of all time. This is about as close as I am going to get, and it has taken me over 6 months to get this far. I've had to let lists settle, throw out songs, add songs I had forgotten, and all kinds of other edits. Plus I was too lazy to write all of this, and too meticulous to just leave it at a song list. So here it is, Tim's Quintessential Song List of All Time, To the Extreme!

Also, for those Facebook savvy folk, you can actually listen to all of these songs. I recently added a great application (one of about 3 I can say that of) called Boombox, where it will play music hosted by third party sites. I uploaded what wasn't already there, and assuming everything goes swimmingly, I should have that list up soon. It should be on my main page.

1. Norwegian Wood (this bird has flown)- The Beatles
I've mentioned this song in a previous post. I love it. It is rather short, but with the most brilliant lyrics I have ever heard. Just an awesome little short story with a surprise ending (and if you know me, that's a big factor). The sitar is a wonderful touch that adds a really nice touch. It is simply brilliant.

2. Brick - Ben Folds Five
I recall having a conversation with a few friends about the timelessness of this song. Somehow I listen to this song now, and it grabs me just the same way it did when I first heard it. The combination of the rather difficult subject matter, Folds' magnificent vocals and his super-talented piano playing is just incredible. It is over a decade old, and I've listened to it an innumerable amount of times, and continue to absolutely love it.

3. God Fearing Man - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Quintessential Harper. The song clocks in at nearly 12 minutes, and every second is gold. It has long slide guitar solos, lyrics that are both powerful and softer at spots, really accenting Harper's vocal talents. Long songs can often be tedious, but this song does it very well, as good as the power ballads of Zeppelin or Queen. I could easily see this one taking top spot after it has had some greater longevity behind it.

4. Baba O'riley - The Who
Some may know it as the popular, yet incorrect, "Teenage Wasteland" or (shudder) "The CSI:NY theme". Personally, the awesomeness of this song was first really revealed to me by the fantastic movie American Beauty, though I had definitely heard it before then. (You'll find this isn't the only movie tie-in on this list.) The musical progression throughout just gets me all stirred up in the same way the first few seconds of Smells Like Teen Spirit do (to me and others, I've noticed). I've since heard it used in multiple movies and television shows. Apparently it is catching.

5. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
I remember I first really heard this song in late high school. About a year or two later I stumbled across it again, and realized it was this same song I had adored but never got the name of. Incredibly talented acoustic guitar backs up poignant and beautiful lyrics. It is too bad that I just can't get into the rest of Pink Floyd's stuff.

6. No Rain - Blind Melon
I'll definitely receive some um... criticism for this one, methinks. I just simply love this song. Musically simple, it is a fun little song. And I absolutely love the vocal harmonization. And, again, longevity is a huge factor. Like Brick, I have continued to listen to this song regularly for over a decade (actually, in this case it is over 15 years), and I still love listening to it. Then, about a year ago I discovered an alternate version of the song, labeled the "The Ripped Away Version" (released a few years after Shannon Hoon's, the lead vocalist, death). Noticeably different from the original, and yet I find it very nearly as good as the original. Apparently you can even retool the song quite a bit, and I still like it. Hence #6.

7. Money City Maniacs - Sloan
A little bit of Canadian content for you. A ridiculously catchy song, that is just fun to listen to. Every time I hear the song's introductory sirens, I find myself cranking the volume. This one definitely has the longevity thing going for it, released almost 10 years ago. But with the increased radio play, you can probably tack on a few years worth of listening.

8. Loser - Beck
Strangely addictive. Something very different than other songs on the radio, and yet somehow it just caught on. The fun mixing, distortions, backtracking, nonsense lyrics, other languages, turntables, etc. all make this song stand out as some of the most original rock of the 90s. And different is right up my alley. And it has the longevity factor. And it taught me one of the only Spanish phrases I know: Soy un perdedor.

9. We Suck Young Blood - Radiohead
This one was a bit hard to come to grips with. It is hard for me to throw a Radiohead song from their second newest album when OK Computer and The Bends were such masterpieces. But frankly, this song has been on my mp3 player steady since I purchased it over two years ago (and it ain't no 8 gig iPod). The haunting clapping, the wonderfully miserable vocals from Thom Yorke, and general awesomeness just make this song very re-listenable.

10. For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
Pretty much a one-hit-wonder from this band, I've loved this song for a long time. That said, it wasn't until I heard it over the opening credits of Lord of War. That said, I know that I had often heard it and hoped they'd say who it was before I got out of the car, and to no avail. And I'd never remember to look up the lyrics. So a great movie made that a lot easier (and that opening sequence is probably one of my favourites, perhaps only second to the Nine Inch Nails' Closer over the opening of Se7en). Simplistic musically (those repeating alternate notes) over some anti-war lyrics. Great stuff.

11. Nada - The Refreshments
The Refreshments have been one of the major staples in my musical history. It was one of my 3 first CDs and I have been listening to it regularly since. Lots of great songs, but Nada always struck a chord. A beautiful harmonica solo makes a great intro to an inspired song. I particularly like the timing and progression of the lyrics and his voice is perfect for the song. And that it closed out the album, full of some other fantastic songs.. And a reference to tequila. What else can I say?

12. Walk Away - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
This represents all of Harper's work that God Fearing Man does not. That and it was the song that introduced me to who is now my favourite musician. Everything I could ever want in an acoustic song. Great lyrically, fantastic vocals, and striking guitar.

13. I Like Birds - The Eels
This one is also an introductory song to one of my favourite artists. I had heard some Eels previous, but this one was the key to me checking out their library (I wasn't disappointed, obviously). This song is nearly to the point of silly, but it is the light-heartedness of it that really sucked me in. And the whistling. I've always loved whistling in songs, and this one has a rather large amount of it. If I had to pick a song that best represented me, this would be it (on a good day, anyways).

14. Where is my Mind - The Pixies
Not surprising that the song playing over the closing credits to my favourite movie is in my top 20. I just really like the song both musically and lyrically. It has some really cool effects to it, from the ghostly howl and guitar build up, and Fincher chose it wisely, I think. It really makes you feel like a small thing in a huge world, but not in the scared or meaningless sense, but in a way that makes you appreciate everything else. A very appropriate song for the close to that movie.

15. Used to be Alright - I Mother Earth
A little more Canadian content... While a ton of I Mother Earth would make my top 50, only this one makes my top 20 (the next closest is Earth, Sky and C, particularly because of the awesome Por Todos drum intro on the Earth Sky and Everything In Between release). Used to be Alright is from Scenery and Fish, another one of my three first CDs. It has been my favourite from the album since shortly after hearing it and has remained pretty much my favourite songs from one of my favourite bands.

16. Talk Show Host - Radiohead
The second of two bands to show up twice on this list. It was also difficult for me to put on here, as it is not on any album, but it was definitely my favourite Radiohead song prior to Hail To The Thief's release (and it took some time for We Suck Young Blood to supplant it). Thom Yorke's vocals are awesome, great lyrics and musically very interesting. Seeing it over Leonardo DiCaprio sulking isn't as nice as just listening, though.

17. Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones
Lyrically, I love what they have done with this song. I love the way it is the Devil talking about himself and all his accomplishments, as if it was his closing remarks before the sentencing, or somesuch. Musically, I'm not that interested, but that has something to do with my general apathy towards the Stones (except for Angie, which would also hit the top 50).

18. Tomorrow - Silverchair
The breakout song for the ridiculously young Aussie trio is amazing. I wish I had created something so cool at that age. Great hard guitar, some good lyrics, and just the feel of an anthem for that generation. Not as brilliant as some of the list, but I've loved it for a long time, and it is just a great aggresive song.

19. Redemption Song - Bob Marley
A classic protest song, that. Fantastic lyrics combined with decent guitar and singing have placed Redemption Song this high. I had also considered putting Trenchtown Rock on here at one point, simply for the lyrics. However, I wasn't willing to throw a cover up here (that wouldn't really be right, would it), and since I don't care for Marley's version and much prefer the Sublime cover, I didn't (also, I have since changed my mind). Also, apparently Bob Marley is now, "new rock". Thanks, Edge 102, just because reggae is hip now, doesn't make this "new".

20. Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes
This song just makes me happy. Vocally it isn't great. Lyrically it isn't great. Yet it is terribly catchy, and reminds me of so many good times, particularly hearing a band cover it on New Years eve, 2000. There isn't much to it, and I love it all the same.

There you have it, my top 20 songs.
One of note that missed the cut on a technicality is Requiem For a Dream. It's a difficult one, though, as it is "classical". So it is in a bit of a different situation there aren't lyrics, and you can't hear it as it was originally written. Really I only know of the versions from Requiem For a Dream and from the trailers for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and I can't rightly attribute it to them, can I?
Also there are a bunch more from some of the artists listed above (Selective Memory by the Eels, Fred Jones Pt. 2 by Ben Folds, While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the Beatles) as well as plenty from other artist I both own (Jolene by Cake, Wheat Kings by Tragically Hip, Video Bargainville by Moxy Fruvous) and do not own (Golden Years by David Bowie, Ramble On by Led Zeppelin, White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane). Just thought I'd name drop another 10 or so songs there for you. Not sure why.
Hope you enjoyed reading, I know it was sure tedious to write.

Happy Christmas (the shopping is over)

It is time for another Christmas post! This was supposed to be a few different posts, but my cracked elbow (one-handed typing sucks) and lack of time have made it rather condensed. So here it is.

First of all, working retail during Christmas is terrible. Now I don't normally have to deal with customers, but my cracked elbow and modified duties have found me out on the floor for the 2 weeks before Christmas. Now, I've seen lots of funny and strange things during this two weeks, and many frustratingly stupid customers. Okay, enough lead-in.
You see, there is a movie that Walmart sells called Faux Fire 2. I find this endlessly entertaining. I mean, it is a DVD of a crackling fire with a loop of about 8 Christmas songs. A must-buy. Nevermind that many areas have a station that plays this anyways, for free.
What is more hilarious, though, is that this DVD is a sequel. I mean, didn't the original Faux Fire pretty much say all that needed to be said on the subject? And the special features on the disc must be pretty awesome. Director commentaries. Deleted scenes. A gag reel. Making-of documentaries. And can you get it in HD? I want to really see those flames.
Now, all this has entertained me throughout the lead-up to the holidays, but while I was working this past week I saw a guy buy a bunch of these. Not one. Not two. Not even a half-dozen. He had an armload. From his palm to nearly his elbow, all of Faux Fire 2. I don't really know what he is planning to do with all of them. Perhaps they are gifts to all of his co-workers at a job he doesn't really like. Perhaps he plans on shingling his house with them. Or, perhaps they are collectors editions and each one has something unique and he needs to have them all. Whatever the case, it made me laugh.

Moving on. I hate Christmas carols. For the most part, anyways. (Working retail makes it worse, but I already did that diatribe.) There are too many artists doing the same 25 songs over and over. But they have to make them unique, so the add their own brand of vibrado, or Whitney Houston-ize them, or whathaveyou. Now there is some stuff I love. Seven Day Jesus does a fantastic O Holy Night. The Transiberian Orchestra is always a fun listen. However, I made it my goal to find some new stuff that I like. Oh, and the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Maclachlan (spelling?) are great together, as is much of Sufjan Stevens' stuff. Here are some of what I found:
Rudolph - Jack Johnson. He changes the lyrics a bit from the original, and he does a great job.
Feliz Navidad - Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Worth it simply for the border-rock feel and the phrase "put the tequila in the eggnog".
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Coldplay. I can't resist me some Coldplay.
And finally, what may be my new favourite version of any Christmas carol: Joy to the World - Eef Barzelay. (click to listen). A stripped-down acoustic version that is sung beautifully (with out all the ridiculous pomp of traditional Joy to the World's) and is almost emotionally striking.

Anyways, that is all I can think of here in my short time before I head out for Christmas celebrations. So have a a Merry Christmas, everyone.

Please, Watch Out For Low-flying Homonyms

I really can't say much about it, so I'll let the following excerpt from a news article speak for itself. I've included the opening paragraphs as originally (in case they... fixed it) found, the bolding theirs, as it is essentially an intro to the situation for those unaware (as I was).

The province of Nova Scotia will review the use of Tasers after a man with psychiatric problems died at a Dartmouth correctional facility, 30 hours after being shocked by police.

Justice Minister Cecil Clarke ordered the review after the death of 45-year-old Howard Hyde, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Hyde's common-law wife, Karen Ellet, told CTV Atlantic that she was shocked by her husband's death.

Hopefully you have seen the rather unfortunate choice of wording. The writer obviously wasn't paying particular attention, especially since they used the same word twice in these three small paragraphs, with very different meanings. Just tactless.
This is the problem with internet news, of course. Speed is more important than anything, so stuff like this probably passes through as few hands as possible. And apparently no one read it.

*More on my return (hopefully) to blogging in the next (hopefully) post, which will be coming soon (hopefully).

Stop the Revolution!

For some reason I was thinking about the Good Idea, Bad Idea segments from Animaniacs the other day. And once again YouTube showed its incredible usefulness, as searching the site provided multiple results, and made me quite happy. Well, while I was thinking about them, I came up with one:

Good Idea: Holding the door for your date.

Bad Idea: Holding the revolving door for your date

I thought it was funny. It's considerably more funny if you picture said date running into the door. That is all. Carry on.

On the Topic of Mutants and a Lack of Pollutants

I find my self sympathetic to Magneto's cause.

Let me explain. You see, I've been quite sick over the past two weeks. Sick enough that I considered visiting a doctor regarding said illness, something which I can remember doing about once (not counting the "illness" of a gash requiring 5 stitches, sewn in by one Dr. Butcher... seriously) in the past decade. So, last Tuesday I went home to Brampton for my Dad's birthday and stuck around because I wasn't in any shape to work. I brought with me a selection of movies, as my parents would be gone to work, and I would be rather bored, especially with no computer to entertain me (though my parents' recently acquired cable television helped somewhat as well). One thing I brought home was my X-Men trilogy. I hadn't seen any of them since I bought it last year, so I watched them all.

Now to the point. When I concluded my viewing of the movies, I began to realize that there was something far more realistic in Magneto's response to the mutant situation than in Professor Xavier's. Now, I'm not talking about the mass genocide (see Appendix A) of all humans or any of the other extreme ways that Magneto actualizes his ultimate goal. He is the villain, and he does evil things. No, what I am talking about is his general philosophy regarding the relationship between human and mutant.

Well, actually, its not even that. I just find myself taking issue with Professor Xavier's relentless optimism. Now, you could argue that being against some of Magneto's policies would probably put me closer to the response of the humans, such as the Senator from the movies. That's not entirely true either. You see, while I would be against mutant registration because of the restriction of freedom, I understand the need for it. Plus, in the X-Men universe, I would probably have to concede that mutants are, indeed, the future. Ultimately, my problem with the human stance is I don't think the problem can be solved through political means, and I'm not on someone like Stryker's side, where I think the mutant "problem" should be eradicated.

Now, I'm going to tread lightly here, because I know that there have been considerable parallels (both inferred by readers and put in by writers) drawn between the mutant/human situation from X-Men and many race-related conflicts from the past. So I feel I should mention that what I am talking about is the fictional world of the X-Men only, as I think the parallels work on one level, but on another we are talking about an actual difference (I mean, he can contort metal with his mind...) not one imagined by racists and bigots.

I mean, how can mutants and humans live in peace and equality? We are talking about people who can move objects with their minds, change the weather, blow stuff up by looking at it, and so on. It isn't as if you can just ignore that. I mean, would it change hiring policies? I mean, you can't honestly suggest that equal opportunity employment would really work in a world like that.

Who wouldn't hire Wolverine as a stuntman, because he can heal extremely quickly, or as a chef or landscape architect because of his claws? You can't tell me that Storm wouldn't become a local weather forecaster or Mystique an actor or undercover cop. Magneto would probably work construction or something similar, while Cyclops and Gambit might be demolition experts. Iceman could work the local hockey arena, while Professor X could be a ridiculously successful telemarketer. Now, of course, this is assuming they take honest work (although Professor X's exploitation might be ethically suspect...) but you see where I am going with this. How could you not hire these people over average Jack and Jill Everyhuman? I mean their physical capabilities make them much better candidates for these positions. That's not even to mention the fact that many of these mutant powers betray both of the laws of thermodynamics, and thus something akin to a perpetual motion machine could be created by Pyro using a single spark to spend an 8-hour work day creating vast amounts of steam energy (or Magneto or Jean Grey could simply move a turbine with their mind, and so on) and so they could take up employment that way, creating an easily renewable energy source. Al Gore would be so happy. And that is why I find myself sympathizing with the villain (not because of Al Gore's level of contentment, but because of my lack of belief in a proper co-existence and equality between humans and mutants).

Appendix A: I hadn't really thought of this before, but it is interesting to juxtapose the beginning of the first movie with Magneto's general philosophy. He is a Holocaust survivor and is adamantly against mutant registration (he mentions at one point that ink will never again touch his skin, referencing the concentration camp tattoo on his arm). However, his genocidal (is that a word?) approach combined with his essential belief in a master race really put him much closer to the Nazi's he so loathes than even the government who was opting for registration. Interesting hypocrisy there.

Appendix B: Here I am going to go on a bit of a rant regarding the mutant classification system introduced in X-Men: The Last Stand. I have some difficulty with it. I'm not sure if it is true to the comic books and if they would do a better job of explaining it, but it just doesn't make any sense to me. In the movie a character refers to Magneto and Pyro as Level 4 mutants. The level is based upon the power of their... well, their power. My problem is that if Phoenix is a Level 5, and Magneto a 4, then I think we can assume that Professor X is also a 4. The problem is that Pyro is also listed as a 4, which is where I take issue. Because there is no way that Pyro is on the same level as Magneto. Plus it would make most of the rest of the X-men on that level too. I can probably see Storm being a Level 4, and perhaps even Mystique. Iceman could even be a 4, I think. I wouldn't have a problem with Pyro being a Level 4 if he could both make fire and manipulate it, but he needs a source. The rest I see as Level 3, I think, because their powers may be cool, but they aren't nearly as remarkable or useful. Though I should mention that Wolverine's level would certainly betray how dangerous he is, as his power is essentially the quick-healing, which might be a Level 2 or 3, with the claws and titanium reinforced skeleton not being part of his power, per say. Anyways, this rant is over.

Now, did this post come off as nerdy as it seemed?

The Perplexing Problem of Playoff Postulation

Well, the playoffs begin this evening. I'm not involved in any playoff pools, but I thought I'd put up my picks for this year. Last year I managed second place in the pool I was in, mainly thanks to the fact that almost no one else picked any upsets in the Western Conference first round, which was only upsets. Anyways, here are my picks, including the amount of games each round will go.

At which point the Sabres will take it in 6 games against Nashville.

A few points about this. First, I am very hesitant to not pick any upsets in the West this year, mostly due to last year. I think Vancouver will edge out the Stars, and I think San Jose will put up a fight, but with Vokoun back, Nashville will take it. It seems at least one other person agrees with me, saying that if there is going to be an underdog this year, it'll be from the East (I read that after making up this list, I should tell you).

I am also hesitant to pick both the Lightning over the Devils and Ottawa over Pittsburgh. They're risky picks, and I have been tempted to change them, but its too late now. I think Pittsburgh, if they won, would follow the same path as Ottawa, and probably the same thing if New Jersey won.

Its too bad the Canadian teams didn't do better this year, with only three managing playoff spots. I may have over-compensated though, by making Ottawa and Vancouver go as far as they do. And I would be happy to be proven wrong about Ottawa, as the last thing I want to hear is obnoxious Ottawans braying and goading Leaf fans for three rounds of playoffs. They should just be thankful they won't see Toronto in the playoffs, because... well, we all know how that would end, don't we.

And those are my picks. Go teams. Go teams, go.

Video Game Heckling

I have been known to spend some time watching Sam play some video game or another. Yes, watching, not even playing. I know that's kind of a strange thing to do, but I never claimed to be the coolest person. That said, this has diminished of late, as the TV and subsequent gaming systems are not in the same room as my computer and whatnot.

While I watch said video games, I often comment on the goings-on, make fun of the characters, etc. No game is quite as good for this as Kingdom Hearts 2 (I should also mention that of the games Sam plays most often, KH2 is the only one I have any interest in actually playing). There are so many places just ripe for comment that watching this game is much more fun than any other, because of our MST3K-style commentary (For those who don't know, MST3K stands for Mystery Science Theatre 3000, a program/movie which makes fun of movies and old school PSAs in a commentary fashion, done by a guy and two robots. And it is incredibly funny.) So we'll insert bits of dialogue, make comments about whether a character will be caught in the train door, etc. However, what has never happened before is having the game actually respond. Here is roughly how the conversation went...

Sam: Hey, they have some Chippendale's on the ship! (referring to the fact that the pilots are Chip and Dale, the Disney characters)

Tim: Well, really they only have one Chippendale.

Sora (the game's main character): Only one?

We laughed hard for a solid minute, and then continued laughing when Donald said something (I can't recall exactly what) which followed up on Sora's comment. The character was clearly talking about something else, but that certainly didn't take away from the hilarity.