For Squirrels – Example

My music collection exceeds 15,000 songs. Nearly all of these are from CDs that I bought and ripped myself, though there is a chunk of stuff I ripped from other people’s CDs. *shrug* The music industry hates it, but sometimes it happens, and I don’t really care since it doesn’t much hurt the band, their cut being so small in most cases. Anyway, I’ve started taking advantage of Google Music, which allows you to put 20,000 songs “in the cloud” to stream to any computer or mobile device you want. For years I avoided buying MP3 players like the iPod (although I do own a 30GB Zune, but I didn’t buy it – I won it) because I didn’t like having to pre-select my music before going somewhere. I actually like selecting the entire collection (well, almost, I have to remove those radio shows) and hitting random play on the whole thing.

That’s what I was doing when a song off the album Example by For Squirrels started playing. Oddly enough it was the first track of the album, “8:02 PM”. I quickly stopped the player, found the album and played it. Never heard of For Squirrels? I’m not surprised. If you weren’t listening to Alternative radio at the tail end of 1995, like Atlanta’s 99X, you probably didn’t have a chance to hear them. The album, their only major label album, was released on October 3rd 1995, but by then the band was all but finished. On September 8th, a little less than a month earlier, the band was involved in a terrible car accident in their van, taking the lives of two of the band’s four members, and their tour manager. Vocalist Jack Vigliatura and bassist Bill White died, while guitarist Travis Tooke and drummer Jack Griego were both injured but survived. The two remaining members of the band would try to reform with new members, later changing the name of the band and releasing one album before disbanding for good in 2001.

For Squirrels - ExampleExample is, for me, a very interesting album. I’d call it good, but it isn’t remarkable or full of hit songs. The only single it produced was “Mighty K.C.” which was an elegy for Kurt Cobain. However, none of the songs are awful, and in fact show a promise never realized. Had the accident not happened, a second album could have seen the band grow into something more. Instead, we just have this. A song that went to #15 on the Modern Rock chart, and an album that just barely made the Billboard 200.

In 1996, I should have been graduating college, but a misstep or two and a decision to move out on my own, the combination of which resulted in me having to pay for school on my own (which further resulted in full time work and part time school), I missed being able to get out in four years. It was in these early months of 96 that I purchased Example. I’d heard their single a number of times, and I knew the story behind the band. And as I lay on the bed in my room contemplating my next move in life, the music washed over me.

In the past 15 years, I’ve returned to this album a number of times. Every time I hear one song from it, I have to hear the entire thing, from start to finish, every track. I know in part that is because of when the disc entered my life, that it is a permanent part of the soundtrack of my life, but I hope it’s also because there is something more to these songs that the emotion I’ve attached to them, that a song like the penultimate track “Disenchanted” speaks some universal truth that other people recognize too.

I’d recommend Example by For Squirrels to anyone, to listen through at least once, just to give a chance. It is an album of its time, a mid-90s Alternative Rock band. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if that winds up being your complaint.

The 2010 Upfronts

This week all the networks announced their fall seasons, and as usual, being a big TV watcher, here are my thoughts…

First, here are links to the network pages for their fall line-ups: NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS and The CW.

Next, the shows I’m losing (more shows than these were cancelled, these are just the ones I was watching): 24, Dollhouse, Better Off Ted, Defying Gravity, Lost, Ugly Betty, Accidentally on Purpose, and Gary Unmarried.  Of these, the only one I am really upset about is Better Off Ted.  It was, quite possibly, my favorite sitcom ever.  With pre-emptings and shufflings I don’t think it got a fair chance.  Season 1 is on DVD, buy it.  Season 2 is likely coming, buy it.  And when the complete series is released, buy that too.  Okay, maybe you don’t need to buy it twice, but you should buy it in some form.


NBC: Chuck, The Event, Chase
FOX: House, Lonestar
ABC: Dancing with the Stars, Castle
CBS: How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly, Hawaii Five-O
CW: 90210, Gossip Girl

NBC looks like it has a winning line-up as far as I am concerned.  I already like Chuck and both The Event and Chase will be given a shot.  Fox isn’t looking too shabby either, I like House, but while the cast of Lonestar looks promising, I’m not sold on it entirely.  The con man angle is nice, so I’ll give it a chance.  For ABC, I’ll continue not watching dancing shows, but I’m in for another season of Castle.  CBS, HIMYM I like… but I’m also getting bored of not meeting the mother.  I’ll give Mike and Molly a shot, and I’m down for Hawaii Five-O.  The CW has nothing on Mondays that I care to see.  Total: 7 hours, 8 if Lonestar doesn’t suck.


NBC: The Biggest Loser, Parenthood
FOX: Glee, Raising Hope, Running Wilde
ABC: No Ordinary Family, Dancing with the Stars Results, Detroit 1-8-7
CBS: NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife
CW: One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected

Reality shows still don’t interest me much outside of American Idol in the spring, so The Biggest Loser is a loser for me, but I found myself really enjoying Parenthood despite initial reservations, so I’m in for that.  Glee won me over already, and I’ll give both Raising Hope and Running Wilde a shot based entirely on their casts.  Hope looks better than Wilde.  No Ordinary Family: not only is the cast full of people I like, but it’s about superheroes, so count me in.  Skip dancing.  Detroit 1-8-7 has a strike against it – homicide.  Lots of other crimes happen out there, why does almost every cop show focus on murders?  This is going to be one of those shows I won’t watch until at least five people I trust tell me it is worth seeing.  CBS has programmed a night full of shows I’m not watching.  I gave up on One Tree Hill a while ago, and I’m still watching Life Unexpected.  Total: 5 hours, 6 if Detroit 1-8-7 turns out to be worthwhile.


NBC: Undercovers, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Las Angeles
FOX: Lie to Me, Hell’s Kitchen
ABC: The Middle, Better Together, Modern Family, Cougar Town, The Whole Truth
CBS: Survivor, Criminal Minds, The Defenders
CW: America’s Next Top Model, Hellcats

I’m a J.J. Abrams fan, so I’ll be watching Undercovers, but I’ll be skipping the Law & Order shows.  Nothing for me on FOX.  All three of ABC’s returning half-hours I skipped last season, but am now catching up on, so I’ll probably continue watching them.  I’ll probably add Better Together, but The Whole Truth doesn’t interest me.  Legal dramas just don’t keep me watching unless the characters are great, and I’ll wait to hear reviews before I bother trying.  Mostly, I’m not interested in CBS’s Wednesday, but The Defenders might be something I watch.  Legal dramas, eh… but throw in comedy and I’m willing to give it a shot.  And the CW’s Hellcats is about cheerleaders and I’m a guy, so, yeah, I’ll be watching, but I may not stick about.  Total: 4 hours, 5 if The Defenders works, back to 4 if Hellcats sucks.


NBC: Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Outsourced, Love Bites
FOX: Bones, Fringe
ABC: My Generation, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice
CBS: The Big Bang Theory, S#*! My Dad Says, CSI, The Mentalist
CW: The Vampire Diaries, Nikita

I bailed on 30 Rock a while back and I never gave The Office a chance, Community is something I’m thinking of going back to catch up on, and Outsourced looks pretty funny.  I’m not overly thrilled with the idea of Love Bites, but I know the wife will want to watch.  FOX has a winning line-up.  We kicked Private Practice to the curb this year, but we still watch Grey’s Anatomy.  My Generation looks like it’ll be pulled from the schedule within 6 episodes.  The Big Bang Theory is still awesome, William Shatner will draw me in for S#*! My Dad Says, and I’ll probably keep sitting through The Mentalist if only for brief moments of Cho (he and Rigsby need a Dragnet-like spin-off).  We finally gave up on The Vampire Diaries… I’ve always talked about how lots of TV shows get stale because of their unwillingness to kill characters, this show illustrates the exact opposite, someone seems to die every episode – they’ll spend a whole night introducing a character just enough to make you care and then whack them.  People die so often I came to assume everyone was going to die and numbed to it.  I’ll give Nikita a shot because I like spy/action shows.  Total: 6.5 hours, 7.5 if she makes me watch Love Bites.


NBC: Who Do You Think You Are, School Pride, Dateline, Outlaw
FOX: Human Target, The Good Guys
ABC: Secret Millionaire, Body of Proof, 20/20
CBS: Medium, CSI: NY, Blue Bloods
CW: Smallville, Supernatural

NBC has nothing for me unless Outlaw gets some great word of mouth.  I love Human Target and the Premiere of The Good Guys this week was enough to keep me watching.  ABC only has Body of Proof that I want to watch.  I keep watching Medium despite my frustration that Allison and her family don’t seem to actually pay attention to their own lives, and Blue Bloods looks good enough to try.  Smallville can die in a fire, and despite feeling like Supernatural should have finished strong at the end of this past season I’ll be watching to see where they go with it.  Total: 6 hours, 7 if Outlaw holds up.


NBC: Encore programs (repeats)
FOX: Cops, America’s Most Wanted
ABC: College Football
CBS: Crime Time Saturday, 48 Hours: Mystery

Nothing.  Nada.  Total: 0 hours.


NBC: Football
FOX: The OT, The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, The Family Guy, American Dad
ABC: America’s Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters
CBS: 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss, CSI: Miami

I’d almost say it’s a repeat of Saturday, but I might still watch Brothers & Sisters.  The show has gotten a tad out of control with crazy plot lines and intrigue, so I also might not.  Total: 1 hour, 0 if I kick B&S.

So… the final total for the week is a low of 28.5 hours of television and a possible high of 33.5 hours.  Yeah, that’s a lot of TV, but not all of these shows will stay.  Of course there will be mid-season shows too, and this list doesn’t include the less traditional schedules of the cable networks like USA, TNT, FX, Syfy and so on.  I think I can attribute a good chunk of the increase over 2009 to NBC actually having a 10pm slot this year since the whole Jay Leno debacle.  And there you have my thoughts on the 2010 Fall Season.

Left 4 Shaun of the Dead

Like Left 4 Dead?  Like Shaun of the Dead?  Want to play Left 4 Dead in the world of Shaun of the Dead?

Well, you might one day get the chance on the PC version of L4D thanks to the Left 4 Winchester project.  It almost makes me want to get a PC version of the game.

No Means No

When I began to undertake my quest of removing unwanted junk from my life, I guess I never considered how much other people might want to send junk to me. While I would never ever in a million billion years shop at the Golfsmith and would prefer to never get catalogs or coupons from them, they apparently think that sending me unwanted catalogs and coupons is worth the expense to hedge their bets on the minuscule chance that I might change my mind.

My previous experience with them was that I contacted them directly and asked for my address (with my house’s old owners name) be removed from their mailings because I did not want them. And I thought I was successful because the mailings from them (sometimes two or three a week) stopped. But lo and behold, I reach into the mailbox today to find a new Golfsmith catalog. The only change is that it is now addressed to me instead of the old owner.

Obviously, since I’m already not a customer, ignoring me and treating me badly won’t hurt them… or will it? Like the website says… Probably not. I don’t wield enough consumer power to hurt their bottom line, but I can say for certain, at this point, even if I one day do decide to pick up the game of golf I will never shop at the Golfsmith. They’ve lost any chance of ever winning my business.

Right now, I’m experiencing a respite in the deluge of junk mail. My efforts appear to be working. I think I’ve only thrown out maybe two or three pieces of junk this week. But is this Golfsmith ad a sign of things to come? Will I never be able to escape the junk since they will send it to me even when I ask them not to? And do I have any recourse if they continue?

For now, I’ve emailed to the Golfsmith again asking them to remove me from their mailing list. We’ll have to see what happens next.

1st to Die

At the urging of my wife, I read 1st to Die by James Patterson. I’d heard alot about Mr. Patterson over the years, and I’d really enjoyed ‘Kiss the Girls’ and ‘Along Came a Spider’ as movies, so I figured what the heck…

Its not a bad book. Quite good in fact, however, for me I was left feeling a little… underwhelmed. There didn’t seem to be a twist in the book that really caught me by surprise. If, by chance, something did come up a little unexpected, that item would telegraph the next few items.

I also found the four women main characters to be a bit… touchy feely. Maybe lots of women are like that, but not very many I have known.

Anyway, I do recommend it. Its a very interesting plot, and if you aren’t as much of a detective as I, it might catch you unawares.

Hey You!

Yeah you! Look, if you have to refer to yourself as a “Good Christian” frequently, there’s a pretty good chance you aren’t one. I’m not saying there aren’t good Christians out there, but they don’t go around telling everyone they are one. In fact, good Christians tend not to really think about it at all, they just are. You know, I realize its hard. The Bible doesn’t mention corporate politics at all. There are no ‘Thou Shalt Not’s for the business world. But just because there aren’t specific words for it written down, that doesn’t mean that lying, cheating and stealing in the name of upward mobility on the corporate ladder is excused. Its still lying, cheating and stealing, and by its nature, if you do it, you aren’t a “Good Christian”. So please, stop saying it.

Fever Pitch

Ever since I saw ‘Stuck On You’ I’ve been wary of anything with the Farrelly brothers names attached. But then I think of movies like ‘Outside Providence’ and I always give them another chance. From a source that is so hit-or-miss with very little middle ground, I was extremely surprised with ‘Fever Pitch’.

The basic story is… a guy, who is a math teacher, meets a girl, who is some sort of business accountant executive or something, and they hit it off. All winter long they have what is the beginning of a great romance, and then he reveals his deep dark secret… He’s a Boston Red Sox fan. And when I say fan, I mean he’s got season tickets and he hasn’t missed a game in 11 years, I mean he’s got Red Sox stuff all over his apartment… He’s not just a fan… he’s a fanatic. He goes to spring training instead of going to meet her parents, and so on…

The movie was good. It was funny, and romantic. It was great. And to top it off, they filmed the movie during the actual baseball season where the Red Sox locked in the wild card slot and took on the Yankees for the playoff, made it to the world series, and broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the whole thing. When they filmed the movie, they rewrote and reshot the movie as the season progressed, and they wrote two endings… one for a Red Sox World Series win, one for a Red Sox defeat, then went with the one that matched reality.

Melee Specialization

Another method to give pure melees something their hybrid children don’t possess is to replicate the long in place Specialization system available to casters (but not to their hybrid children).

Specialization would occur at level 30. The melee would train one point in all of his basic melee skills (not special attacks). Only one would be allowed to go over 50, and that one would cap at 200.

The specialization of a melee skill would result in better use of a weapon of that type. A chance, the same chance that casters get for their specialization, would be applied to each swing, which if successful would add additional damage to the blow. This damage would be equivalent to the reduction in mana cost that a caster gets, but would need to scale according to the delay of the weapon in order to prevent overpowering.

21 March 2001

Examination of a quote
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A quote often misquoted, and I think often misunderstood. Or maybe Johann was just wrong.
Most people, I think, would say that it means that surviving adversity makes you stronger in your faith, you convictions, and yourself. That when you emerge from the trial by fire, you are yourself, as before, only better, more powerful, to use the word from the quote, stronger.
I think this is wrong. A better thing to say would be, ‘What does not kill me, changes me.’
Whenever you are given a trial in life, a challenge, a joy, a pain, anything, you are never the same. Not neccessarily better or stronger, but different. At least you should be. If you are not changed by the events of your life, then you learned nothing from having lived it.
This leads me to a thought I had once and that I still hold on to today.
I have often been a part of a conversation that most people have with friends at some point. Its the “If you could go back and do anything one thing in your life different, what would it be?” conversation.
This can bring out very important information about someone. If they tell you about a missed job opportunity (not a money one, but a whole carreer change) there is a good chance that person is not happy in their job and would be happier if they took the risk and pursued the once missed path. Or they might tell you about a lost love, usually showing that when they get into relationships they don’t fully open up and because they once missed out on love, they’ll probably miss out on more because they don’t want that regret a second time in life. Or they do the opposite and open their hearts to every person to come even remotely close because the thought of missing another chance at love is too much, and so they convince themselves they love people that they don’t. There are more examples, but I’m not going through them all…
My point of this sidetrack, the thought that I had once and still hold: If you are happy with the life that you have and the person that you are, you cannot have regrets. Not real regrets, not the kind that would fit in with the above conversation. You can regret having hurt someone by leaving, but you cannot regret the leaving itself. And you cannot regret opportunities you didn’t take or the ones that you did. You can’t because each and every thing that you have done has shaped and molded you into the person that you are, and if you regret a choice in your past, then you also regret being you and are lying to yourself about being happy.
Am I happy?
For the most part. I regret nothing of my past, its made me who I am. I am a little disappointed in my present, but only when it comes to my job, and I’m working on that.
And my future?
Looks pretty good from here. I’ll let you know when I get there.
So back to the main point. If it doesn’t kill you, you learn, you adapt, you change, you grow… or at least I hope you do.