Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ripping Facebook Privacy is the new black

I read an article the other day on that caught my attention, mostly because it captured the paranoia and stupidity that resulted from recent changes in Facebook's privacy policy. The internet now has it's latest dead horse to beat, as Twitter is flooded with people complaining that Facebook is selling their information to advertisers for their own personal gain. Those complaining are trying to say that Facebook is changing the rules that users had previously agreed to and trying to hide their actions in complicated legalese.

As I read these tales of woe, sympathy for Facebook users is not what I am feeling. The idea that a person who voluntarily posts their personal information on a free website for the specific purpose of sharing this information with friends has the expectation of privacy is asinine. Facebook is portrayed as identity thieves, but the user is fully and completely in control of the information they put on the website, as well as who can access the information. It's ironic that people expect photos of them doing bong rips with their friends that they posted for the specific purpose of sharing to be private.

The bottom line is that if you don't like Facebook's privacy policy, suspend your account and stop using the site. Facebook is smart enough to know that their users are too narcissistic and susceptible to peer pressure to stop using their site. Thus far, none of my friends who have been complaining have taken this very obvious step to address the problem, which leads me to question how big of a problem this really is. As far as I can tell, Facebook isn't likely to change their policies simply because people complain. Quit using the site, and they might listen.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two of the greatest videos ever:

First, it's Slayer in church. Because God loves us all.

Props to the Yard Gnome for sending that one today.

And then we have an infomercial that makes Meatspin look like the Playboy channel:

Both videos have me in awe of their brilliance. One for making church into satanic metal, and another for being the gayest video in the history of infomercials. If I had a glass of liquor, I'd pour some out for whomever created these.

BTW, I hope you weren't at work when you clicked that Meatspin link.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Isis says 'Good Night'

One of my favorite bands has called it quits. Isis, a highly influential hard rock / metal band, have decided to part ways at the end of their current tour. They announced it on their MySpace and their blog, and the text is pretty much perfect, just like their music. Here's the key point:

"ISIS has done everything we wanted to do, said everything we wanted to say. In the interest of preserving the love we have of this band, for each other, for the music made and for all the people who have continually supported us, it is time to bring it to a close. We've seen too many bands push past the point of a dignified death and we all promised one another early on in the life of the band that we would do our best to ensure ISIS would never fall victim to that syndrome. We've had a much longer run than we ever expected we would and accomplished a great deal more than we ever imagined possible."

Their first EP and LP both sounded a lot like Godflesh and Neurosis, but then came their second full-length album ('Oceanic'), and they became influential for many other bands to come. 'Oceanic' is still one of my favorite records ever. Lyrically, it's a concept album about a man who falls head-over-heels in love with a woman, who eventually opens up to him about her ... well, I won't go into spoiler territory, but you can read more here. I'll just say that the entire album is epic, especially the track 'Weight', which has one of the greatest builds of any song I've ever heard. Take eleven minutes, put on headphones, then play the video below. Go ahead. I'll still be here when you're done.

They've toured with bands like Tool, and their founder started a record label (Hydra Head) that has an insane variety of artists. While I wasn't a huge fan of their most recent album ('Wavering Radiant'), I didn't like it for the same reason why the band is breaking up: They've said everything they wanted to say already. That album felt like they were running out of inspiration, and so I'm glad they're calling it a day now, instead of dragging on and on, or trying to write 'Oceanic 2'.

Still, I'm gonna miss 'em. They were one of the few bands that I'd always buy their new album, sight unseen and sound unheard.

EDIT: I just found a sweet wallpaper site for bands like Isis, Neurosis, The Ocean, Opeth, Tool, Type O Negative, The Gathering, and more. I downloaded close to 20 of 'em. Kudos to whomever put this together.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Metal at the Public Library

So, I'm at my local branch of the public library the other day, because 1) I enjoy reading books and 2) Bret Easton Ellis is releasing a new book "Imperial Bedrooms", which follows coked-out icons from his 1985 book "Less than Zero", which non-readers will remembers as a weak film adaptation starring Robert Downey Jr. Bret Easton Ellis has also written a number of other books, which were poorly adapted to the silver screen, like the Rules of Attraction and American Psycho. I read Less than Zero over ten years ago, but I wanted to go back and read it again, to get my head into that space when Imperial Bedrooms is released. But my library doesn't have Less than Zero.

What they did have and what I took a horrible cell phone picture of (my most sincere apologies for that) is the latest album from Demon Hunter, a Christian metal band, who Lord Bling introduced me to some years back. I have almost no interest whatsoever in Christian music, because for the most part, it really sucks. In addition to requiring that the music I listen to sound good, I like music that has complex themes like drug use and Moby Dick. While Demon Hunter's expression of their Christian beliefs does nothing for me, they are decent musicians and I've grown to enjoy their sound. Most of all, I was impressed that the mild-mannered librarians who rolls their eyes at me when I request the latest Chuck Palahniuk or ask if they have any more collections of stories about murder and incest in small towns would think to include Demon Hunter in their stacks.

Keep up the good work, public library. I'll keep voting for local politicians who can read and also like metal.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Would you like to stream a great new death metal album?

Of course, we all do!


Misery Index showed some potential in their last two albums (Discordia, Traitors), but this new one is just plain SMOKING. Perhaps they saw how Dying Fetus and The Red Chord raised the bar last year, and decided to do the same. Great grooves, sweet double-bass technique, and throaty-yet-decipherable vocals (that aren't gurgly Cookie Monster like a lot of other death metal nowadays).

They're on tour with Dying Fetus right now, but unfortunately, they're playing Fort Worth on the night I get back late from a work trip. I'll be keeping my eye on Pollstar though.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Movie Review -- Iron Man 2

I was able to get into a press screening for Iron Man 2 tonight, and figured I'd share my thoughts on it. I promise to keep the spoilers to a bare minimum.

Did you like the first Iron Man film? Odds are good that you did. Well, fear not, because with part 2, you're gonna get the same exact film! Well, not exactly the same film, but still. Marvel, Paramount, and Jon Favreau took absolutely ZERO risks with the characters or story, and that's probably the biggest disappointment I had with it.

Not that I expected them to take any major risks. The first film was a huge surprise, and established Iron Man as one of the top comic book-to-film characters (right behind Batman and Spider-Man). It was so big, I figured that they would stay away from Tony Stark's alcoholism that gave his comic book character some welcome depth. And while you see him drink a martini (and you see him drunk in the suit, in a particularly funny scene), that's it. Favreau (and script writer Justin Theroux) gave his character an issue to deal with, but it's handled way too easily, and then all but forgotten. By the end of the second film, we get pretty much the same Tony Stark we had half-way through the first.

Now, does that mean it's not a decent movie? No. It's still good summer fun. The pacing is a little off, but the story does well enough to pull us through, and the performances are strong. Robert Downey Jr. was fine, although it felt like the film didn't benefit as much from his presence as the first one did. Mickey Rourke does sinister just as well as you'd expect. I needed a shower just from looking at him. Don Cheadle does well to replace Terrence Howard, although he doesn't get much screen time. Samuel L. Jackson gets a couple of good scenes, and there are no snakes or planes in any of them (and he even gets to work in a good eye patch joke!). Gwyneth Paltrow was decent, as she was in the first film. Scarlett Johansson, however, was blah. I thought of using the word 'disappointing', but I can't say I expected anything from her, since I'm yet to see any work of hers that impressed me. She's great eye candy, for sure, but there are plenty of other actresses I'd rather see in the role. For my money though, Sam Rockwell had the most enjoyable performance. You could tell he was having fun with it, and his exchanges with Rourke got the most laughs from the audience.

As for the action, there isn't a ton of it, but what's there is good. The last 20 or 30 minutes is pretty much non-stop, and made up for the two other action scenes that were in the first hour and a half. I don't need 'shit done blowed up' every five minutes, but most of the main set up has already happened in the first film. Again, I liked the story, so it wasn't a problem for me, but I think it's going to be a problem for the majority of the film-going public. However, the CGI is very good. They let the characters in the suits show their faces from time to time, which helped the action not feel like a bunch of spreadsheets fighting each other.

However, as in the first film, the action isn't always perfect. The 'final battle' was no improvement. In fact, it had a lot in common with the final battle from the first film, although this one was a little more in the context of the characters.

In many ways, Iron Man 2 is more of the same. The best 'second' comic book films show the heroes changing (and growing) in one way or another. Superman 2. Spider-Man 2. X-Men 2. The Dark Knight. Because of its unwillingness to take any risks with plot or character, Iron Man 2 is not as good as any of those films. But it's still well-made, fun, and worth your time.


P.S.: Just like the first film, stay through the credits.

P.P.S.: I want one of those suitcases.