• Geekstuff: The Birthday Rundown


    Well, I’ve been thirty-four years old for a week now and I’ve gotta say I’m liking it so far. There are times when being an adult is all about socks and shirts and ties, oil changes and mortgage payments, but I’m happy to say that my family and friends know that I’m still all about the books, comics, toys and games. Apart from a very nice polo shirt from my mother-in-law, most of my birthday bounty would have been eagerly received by seventeen-year-old me.

    • LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for the Xbox, from my young apprentice. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.
    • The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler, from Laura.
    • A Boba Fett t-shirt, also from Laura.
    • The Ultimate Fantastic Four trade paperbacks volumes 1-5, from Miscellaneous G™.
    • Three Hellboy comics signed by Mike Mignola, from Chris.
    • A green FlyTech Dragonfly, from my sister-in-law and her family. A remote-controlled ornithopter! How cool is that?
    • A musical Batman card from my elder, bigger little sister.
    • Filthy lucre from my parents, mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law, which I used to buy:
      • 18 by Moby (CD)
      • Play by Moby (CD)
      • Hellboy: Sword of Storms (DVD)
      • Dune: Extended Edition (DVD)
      • Blade Runner: Director’s Cut (DVD)
      • Pan’s Labyrinth (DVD)
    • Last but not least, pumpkin pie from my grandparents-in-law. Yes, it’s more of a fall pie. I don’t care. I will eat it now and then, I will eat it anywhen!

    [EDIT: I forgot a couple of things!]

    • Police Squad! The Complete Series on DVD, from the Wiitalas. Police Squad! didn’t succeed as a television series (a shame, because it’s hilarious), but it eventually evolved into three Naked Gun movies.
    • Spamalot Original Cast Recording, also from the Wiitalas. Laura and I saw Spamalot last year, and it was fantastic. My favorite song is probably “The Song That Goes Like This”, but they’re all good.
    • The first season of Arrested Development on DVD, from my sister and her boyfriend. Despite several people telling me I should have been watching this show when it was originally on the air, I’ve never seen it. I’m probably directly responsible for its cancellation.
    • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, also from my sister and her boyfriend. I’m not sure, but I think this book has something to do with that “fourth meal” I’ve been hearing about at Taco Bell.

    Are my friends and family not awesome? Yes. Yes they are. They made me a very happy birthday boy.

  • Music: CD Collection on Squirl


    In a testament to my geekiness, I’ve started yet another collection on Squirl. In addition to my DvDs, Xbox and PC games, I’ve now got 170 of my CDs cataloged on the site as well.

    Yeah, I’m a dork. No surprises there.

  • The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu

    The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu (2005)

    J. Ralph

    The iTunes music store has a nifty feature called “iMix.” Users can assemble musical collages of songs available through iTunes and save the resultant samplers in the music store. That way, when I’m interested in hearing tunes made popular in television commercials, I can do a search for “commercials” and the iMixes created by industrious advertisement music afficionados. This is precisely how I came across the J. Ralph tune “One Million Miles Away”, which was used in a Volkswagen commercial.It is also how I wound up spending ninety-nine of my hard-earned pennies to purchase the song “Da Da Da” — also used in a Volkswagen commercial — by German group Trio and ninety-nine more of those pennies to purchase “The Child Inside” (used in a SeaWorld commercial) by Qkumba Zoo. Not all iMixes are quite so useful, but there are certainly some diamonds in the rough.

    In the case of “One Million Miles Away,” I opted not to download the song from iTunes. I decided that I wanted the actual CD, The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu. I didn’t have much hope of finding the disc at Barnes & Noble this evening, especially given that I couldn’t recall the artist’s name it took me 10 minutes of browsing the store’s Red dot Net terminal before I remembered that the title was not “The Imaginary…” something-or-other. Thankfully, J. Ralph has another CD out right now, the soundtrack to Lucky Number Slevin, and it just so happened that they were featuring The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu right alongside the soundtrack at the sales counter.

    The disc I bought tonight is actually a re-release of The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu, which was originally released in 2003. The re-release features a ninth track that was not on the original. This track, “When She Dances”, was used in a Honda Civic Hybrid commerical. J. Ralph has a talent, it would seem, for making car commercial music.

    There’s a good reason for this, I think. J. Ralph creates music that burrows deep into your brain and sticks there. They’re not the type of tunes that you hum, but rather the ones that play over and over in your head as you’re slogging your way across a snow-covered grocery store parking lot at ten-thirty on a Thursday night with a bag containing cough drops and a two-liter bottle of Sprite in one hand and your car keys in the other. You’re not sure where you heard the strange little classical guitar riff or the haunting, simplistic piano melody, and you may not associate it with German engineering or superior gas mileage, but there it is, running on a seemingly endless loop through your inner ear.

    The Illusionary Movements of Geraldine and Nazu is eight tracks of orchestral, operatic music followed by a bonus track that is neither of those things, but fits in with the rest because it makes itself at home in your subconscious, choosing the most unexpected moments to remind you that it lives there.

  • Happy Valentine’s Day


    Men say “I Love You” with flowers and jewelry. Laura says “I Love You” with CDs and science-fiction DVDs. Ladies, you’re getting a raw deal.

    B-Tribe - Spiritual Spiritual

    Spiritual Spiritual

    This is the fourth B-Tribe CD in my collection. The others — ¡Fiesta Fatal!, Sensual Sensual and Suave Suave — are all excellent. The “B” in B-Tribe stands for “Barcelona,” and the music is a sort of techno-latin: flamenco guitars and Spanish vocals mixed with a lot of synthesizers. Spiritual Spiritual is definitely the most low-key and mellow of the four albums, but it still has all the elements that keep me listening to B-Tribe. In fact, I’m listening to it as I write this, and wishing I’d gotten around to replacing my crappy headphones.

    The Legend of Johnny Cash

    The Legend of Johnny Cash
    Johnny Cash

    Twenty-one tracks that trace the Man in Black’s nearly half-century career in music, from “Cry! Cry! Cry!” originally recorded in 1955 to his 2003 cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt.” One of my personal favorites is “Delia’s Gone,” which appeared on American Recordings, Cash’s first outing with famed rock producer Rick Rubin. A bit of Man in Black trivia: the song “A Boy Named Sue” was written by Where the Sidewalk Ends author Shel Silverstein.

    Enya - Amarantine


    Amarantine is at least the seventh Enya album in my collection, not counting her work on the soundtrack for The Fellowship of the Ring and the two-track single Oíche Chiún. Alas, my copies of Watermark and Shepherd Moons have gone missing. Enya doesn’t disappoint on her latest release, which is rich with her signature sound. I read a review last week that points to this familiarity as being a bad thing, but for me it’s very, very good. Did I mention that I need new headphones? Man, these things suck.



    Cross another item off the Amazon Wish List. I thought about picking this up about a week after Christmas, but couldn’t find it in the two or three stores I normally visit. I was a latecomer to the fandom of Joss Whedon’s Firefly series, but was just as eager to see Serenity when it hit theaters as the most rabid of Browncoats. If you have to ask what a Browncoat is, I suggest finding a copy of the Firefly box set and setting aside a weekend to watch the entire short-lived series. Then do the same with Serenity. If you ask nicely, I may even loan you my copy.