Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

I recently purchased Resident Evil 5, the latest iteration of the zombie-blasting video game series. I played the first one a dozen years ago, and despite the series retaining many of the cringing elements of that first game—controls that resemble a remote-control car, porn-level voice acting, and a storyline that makes the fake Apollo landing conspiracy theory sound reasonable, I love playing it.

I made a reference to this on my Facebook page, and several folks commented about how Resident Evil is great training for a zombie apocalypse. Which is good, because frankly, I need that training.

Ever since moving to the UP, I've thought more about the kinds of skills it takes to survive. Driving through here, I pass lonely houses out in the middle of nowhere. They certainly possess elements of civilization: cars, septic tanks, satellite dishes. Still, the area is in sharp contrast to the suburban and urban landscapes I previously inhabited. If I were to suddenly be weaned from the teat of mass produced society—growing my own food, heating my own house, making my own clothes—I'd be dead or someone's manservant within two weeks. I'd have to pledge my fealty to a camouflage-wearing lord who has his own arsenal of firearms, built his own compound, and can offer protection against the Feral Wraiths who crave man flesh.

Because I have no real skills. When the end comes, no one will need convincing marketing copy. No one will care about engaging in detailed discussions about progressive rock. And certainly no one will be looking for people with mad video game skillz. If I'm lucky, my liege appreciates a good dick joke and I at least get to perform as the court jester—which is actually more appealing than some of the work I do. More likely than not, I get shuffled into the human stable to join the other members of the man-herd who have to pull the master's gasless Chevy Silverado around, until we grow to old and weak and get traded to the Feral Wraiths in a peace agreement.

Although, if Resident Evil is any indication, I am pretty adept at finding ammunition and healing herbs in crates and barrels. So I have that going for me.

On to the tunes...

1) "Real Love," John Lennon. It takes real love to ask Yoko to sing. Thankfully, she does not here.

2) "Valentine," The Replacements. (No band video, but a nice solo performance from Paul Westerberg.) I suspect a valentine from The Replacements would be smudged from spilled beer and stop halfway through because they passed out while writing it.

3) "Takk/Glósóli," Sigur Rós. "Takk" is actually the one that came up, but it leads so beautifully into "Glósóli" that I couldn't leave it off. Music like this is why I'm glad we have ears. Cool performance here too, and a band I would love to see in concert, if we had things like concerts here in the UP. Although if we were going to hook anyone to perform here, it would be a band from Iceland.

I recently read the article "Lost" in The New Yorker, about how Iceland recently went broke. Imagine taking our economic situation, having the financial system completely collapse, and putting it on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. I don't think we'd be as polite about it as the Icelanders appear to be.

4) "I Want Your Hands on Me," Sinéad O'Connor. It's funny to go back and listen to this after all the hullabaloo of her career, because her first hit sounds so conventional. It's pleasant enough, but certainly not Papal-shredding. I guess you could say the same thing about Madonna and "Borderline."

The video has an unfortunate rap portion tacked on, which is fine on it's own, but feels like it was applied with safety scissors, construction paper, and Elmer's glue.

5) "Laid," James. Our previous female singer focuses on the foreplay, while James here goes straight for the main event. Personally, I don't know why so many men are (allegedly) averse to foreplay. Foreplay is so easy. I never have to think about baseball during foreplay or apologize afterward. Foreplay is the offseason, when all our hopes and dreams for a championship are still there, before we realize our starting pitching has trouble finding the strike zone consistently.

6) "Bad Moon Rising," Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR may be the most appealing classic rock band around. The usual classic rock suspects like Zeppelin, The Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, et al are certainly popular, but they also have plenty of detractors. CCR is one of those bands that everyone seems to like at least a little. You could be going through any type of music collection—rap, metal, punk, pop—and have a decent chance of finding the Chronicle best of, and also not run into any justification for owning it like "I only like 'You Shook Me All Night Long'" or "That's from when I was smoking a lot of pot." They simply gave the world a collection of songs that are both strong and let kind of unassuming.

7) "The Rat," The Walkmen. The only other group I can think of that produced a song I loved to death on an album I otherwise strongly disliked is The Breeders and "Cannonball." Trying to describe rock songs is difficult, because the legions of awful rock critics have laid minefields of clichés over the decades, and speeding up their output exponentially with the invention of the Internets. But "The Rat" is genuinely thrilling. The buzzing guitar, the fat drum rolls, and the desperate vocals completely hooked me on the first listen. So good that the money I spend to buy the rest of the disappointing album was worth it, which I can't say about "Cannonball."

8) "Long Distance Runaround," Yes. Are you ready to wank? That's not really fair, considering that this is under four minutes and it grooves. Warning: Guitarist Steve Howe looks like that guy at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when he grabs the Holy Grail and starts to age. Rick Wakeman is wearing a sparkly shirt, though, so that helps balance it out.\

9) "Cecila Ann," The Pixies. They give a nice metallic edge to this surf rock.

There's a lot of fun poked at the alternative reunion trend, with bands like the Pixies getting back together, touring, and probably making more money in one month of gigs then they ever did when they were together. I say good for them. It's bands like this that deserve to get paid. If they get together and give their fans a night of greatest hits, even if they're not in the greatest of shape, I don't see the harm. Better them than fucking Van Halen. Not that Van Halen shouldn't necessarily reform if they really miss playing together. But they certainly don't need the money and look like they need to freebase Cialis before then can be horny enough to play "Hot for Teacher." And let's face it, no one would consciously decide to spend a lot of time around David Lee Roth if there wasn't a large financial incentive to do so.

10) "Blue Orchids," Sun Kil Moon. Simply beautiful. It's very hard to make very delicate music that still has a strong presence.

11) "Don't Do Me Like That," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The spiritual successor to Creedence in universal rock appeal. Even though Petty gets played a lot, I never feel like he gets overplayed. Classic rock radio ruined a lot of songs I really liked (including, seriously, "Freebird"). If I'm stuck listening to a station that thinks Foghat still rocks (that one's for you, Jennifer) and they just finished getting the Led out, and I'm seriously debating looking for Christian radio so I can at least be entertained, Tom Petty can come on and save the day, even though I've heard him over and over again. That's a pretty sweet legacy to have.

Have a good weekend.


Jennifer said...

I'd have to pledge my fealty to a camouflage-wearing lord who has his own arsenal of firearms, built his own compound, and can offer protection against the Feral Wraiths who crave man flesh.

While not a camouflage-wearing lord, you'll want to be at Grizzled's compound. While he's not fully like the above, he's beyond capable and makes me a little less fearful of the collapse of society. And... he appreciates a good dick joke. :)

Your commentary about Iceland made me remember reading Independent People. Did you ever read it? Good times... Zombies taking over would be more uplifting.

Nice list. I'll be back after ZRM has done his take on it as well. :)

Adorable Girlfriend said...

I love how much we agree on music.

I thought I was the only one who loved Laid. I was wrong.

Von said...

They sell ammo and healing herbs at Crate and Barrel? Awesome!! I'm heading there after work to stock up!

Von said...

P.S. I also loved that dern James song!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

"healing herbs" . dude. we all know what you mean.

Feral Wraiths who crave man flesh That's the kewlest thing I've ever been called.

The music? eh. Another wide ranging selection. I'm not as positive about the CCR, although I have "Bad Moon Rising" and "Run Through The Jungle" on iTunes. I'm with you on Petty, though, and after seeing him at Summerfest (Pearl Jam opening) I went back and filled in all those cassettes of his stuff I had from the 80s.

My music random is on hiatus while I try to finish some Klark Kent stuff.

Kathleen said...

Brando - you have no idea how much I relate to your Resident Evil intro. I suppose my love of zombie/apocalypse has been stated before. When the first RE was out, it was too scary for me to play. But I loved watching Chris play. I had to make him pause it sometimes so I could prepare myself for the next part.

I read this bit in Salon once, and I feel like it completely captured my RE experience. (it's on the middle of page 3, if the link doesn't take you right there.) (I miss those Gameboy columns.)

Brando said...

That James album is really underrated. I like it even though the rest of the songs are not as peppy as "Laid." I have to tip my hat to TLB for turning me on to that album.

My father-in-law is one of those folks who can turn two 2x4s and some duct tape into an anti-aircraft battery, so my plan is to hop in the car and put my video game driving skills to real-world use should society be reduced to The Shape of Things to Come.

blue girl said...

Even though Petty gets played a lot, I never feel like he gets overplayed.

Totally agree with you. And he just a cool guy.

Great list, Brando! I'd add more but I know nothing of Zombie-blasting video games! You guys have a good weekend, too.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I feel the zombie-blasting invalidates my undeadness. You all are so cruel.

capcha word is otypock, which is central to my point.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

That James album is only underrated in the alternative universe where I do not rule the radio playlists.

ummm, wait...

Churlita said...

I'm the opposite. I could easily live in a tech-less universe. I love manual labor and growing my own food and making stuff. I just have no tech skills whatsoever. I always say this, but I'm a geek with no geek skills. So pathetic of me.

My word verification? hearacha. Kind of perfect for the Friday Random 11, dontcha think?

fish said...

I had a friend that once told me how much he hated CCR, and I remember being taken totally aback by the comment. I was all like "Really? I mean really?"

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Crate and Barrel also sells overpriced Chanukah stuff. Not in Raleigh though...