Archive | August 2011

ordinary riches

I’ve been listening to Ordinary Riches by Company of Thieves quite a bit lately. There are a number of things that stick out about this album:

  • Genevieve Schatz’s sexy voice. I tried to think of a more creative adjective, but everything I came up with would be qualities that comprise sexy. So sexy it is. She puts a lot into it and it shows in the final product.
  • Style and sound — distinct and sticks out from the typical crowd of similar music by elegantly combining all the elements of pop rock. The style elements capitalize on Genevieve’s aforementioned voice so well that you’re not sure if it’s the music that’s perfect for the voice or if it’s the voice that’s perfect for the music. “Oscar Wilde” is a pretty solid example — you’ve got your crunchy rhythm guitar, subtle organ, bouncy/driving bass, clean picks, and a number of beautifully timed lead fills.
  • Marc Walloch’s impressive guitar playing is what makes a lot of the aforementioned sonic awesomeness. There’s a truly dynamic quality to the way this guy plays guitar that takes a serious amount of talent, knowledge, and timing. His transition from chords to leads to fills back to chords is just so smooth and subtle. It’s appreciated the most as a guitarist, but the finished work should really be able to impress anybody just on sound.

Favorite track: “Pressure”

Definitive track: “Oscar Wilde”

Cool feature: Acoustic bonus tracks.

Also, check this band out on Youtube. They put up some very cool acoustic footage that puts on display the kind of energy Genevieve puts into the music, while Marc’s guitar play is showcased.

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e-book reader and science fiction novel covers

I love my e-book reader. For a frequent commuter/traveler with spastic reading habits (I consistently start four books at the same time and end up finishing the most captivating one), there is no better invention.

*POP QUIZ* – Out of the following options, what’s the best part of owning a Sony PRS-350 Reader Pocket Edition?

  • I have a library of 300 books at my fingertips at all times.
  • I don’t have to ration out luggage space for books on trips.
  • It’s easier read with one hand than a normal book.
  • The reader’s e-ink display is about as close as you can get to real paper without actually using real paper.
  • If I want to, I can turn the nearest bit torrent site into the world’s most comprehensive library.

The answer, made predictable by the hackneyed *POP QUIZ* presentation style, is none of the above.

You see, I’m a genre reader. I enjoy reading all things from relatively dry history to popular science, but my go-to genre has always been science fiction and to a lesser extent, fantasy. Of course, the trouble with reading such a genre is that the dudes in charge of illustrating and approving the covers of the novels are usually, uh, out there. Thus, having a medium by which I can read a novel without revealing the generally embarrassing nature of the cover is a godsend.  Is it fair to judge a book by its cover? Of course not — but you and I both do it anyways, so why not discuss it?

But why just tell you about it when I can show you?

Exhibit ALord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

This one is a particularly amusing one, because I actually made the mistake of bringing the paperback version of this into Mrs. Carter’s 8th grade English class back in the day and leaving it face up on my desk. No, ladies, that is not Fabio on the cover. That is a dude who goes borderline insane and turns a bunch of opponents into viscous clouds of red mists by exploding them or something (it’s been awhile, but a certain chapter that goes like that sticks to mind). But would you be able to tell from the billowing white shirt, leather pants, and power stance with a prototypical woman swooning? No. You couldn’t. Can you blame people who think you’re reading a trashy romance novel? No, you can’t.

Exhibit BSaturn’s Children by Charles Stross

Ah, the sexy cyborg — a particularly popular trope of science fiction that makes sci fi sound like it’s best left to the mouthbreathers among us.

While Saturn’s Children is an average novel at best, Charles Stross is a good enough author to use this trope to make some interesting points about how technology can facilitate the repetition of human mistakes by nonhuman society. In this case, his focal point is slavery.  The concept of this book would have been even better if Philip K. Dick hadn’t done it all in 1968 with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Or as it’s known among you non-mouthbreathers, Bladerunner.

I imagine the final statement at the cover art meeting went something like this:

“Well, we’ve got the fairly dark thematic elements of slavery and shadow governments set in a world where humanity is extinct and all that, but let’s BRING ON THE SEXY CYBORG cleavage!”

I haven’t covered a book using paper grocery bags since the 8th grade, but I’d seriously consider doing it for this book. Or just not read it.

I could actually go on and on, but why save you a trip into the science fiction/fantasy section the next time you’re at Barnes and Noble? Just check it out. For more bad science fiction/fantasy novel covers visit this blog that I found while writing this post. It certainly inspired me to limit my own terrible covers to two; let’s just say I’m promoting a greener, more sustainable internet by not rehashing a topic that this guy has covered. Get it? Covered. Becaus–

Well, well, well…

Looks like the lazy bug hit me again with a blog. More content will come, hopefully not on an annual basis this time. I apologize to nobody for this lapse in web-log diligence because nobody reads this blog.