If you’ve never heard of LostProphets… Yeah, you aren’t missing much. I remember when these guys first hit the scene back in 2000. The critical reaction varied, but I remember words like derivative, uninspired, adequate, pollished turd, and incubus ripoff floating around a lot. Sad to say, around fifteen years later, I can safely say that I get where they got that. Especially as far as the one and only LostProphets album I’ve ever owned comes in.

You know, I try to stay open-minded, and generally neutral in the beginning. However, the more I listen to this relic from my teen years, the more I have to question my teenage self’s taste in music. Sure, I’m aware of the fact raprock, or at least rock with a lot of hiphop elements incorporated into it was the popular sound of the late 90s early 00s. Hell, I own up to liking a lot of bands from that era even today. LostProphets… Isn’t one of them. In fact, I’m officially wondering how the fucking fucker fuck this even ended up in my collection in the first place.

Incubus, whether they were aware of it or not, were a sort of trendsetter in the early 2000s. The trend didn’t last very long, mind you, but for a couple years, if you wanted to be popular, imitating Incubus seemed to be the way to go. And this was the path LostProphets took with their debut album, “Thefakesoundofprogress”. Also, those guys really needed to learn what a fucking space bar was. That, or they were extremely ahead of their time, and predicted hashtags in a day and age where Geocities both still existed, and served as the gold standard for vanity pages.

I found this relic of my teen years somewhere around November, and have been listening to it off and on since. Partly because I was going to include it in a video version of this series that ultimately never panned out, but mostly because I was in disbelief that I’d ever own something like this willingly. Part of me is still convinced I borrowed this from a friend in high school, never returned it, and probably never will return on the count I severed my ties to about ninety percent of my old high school clique.

And now, I’ll listen to it one last time to provide material for a review series enjoyed by absolutely no one. Because I’m bored as hell.

ALBUM ART: C

the album art for LostProphets' "Thefakesoundofprogress"

TRACK LIST

(NOTE: the wikipedia article I would normally reference for stuff like this seems to believe that there are interludes in certain spots. Either I own a version that stuck them on the end of other tracks, or I’m not seeing it. So this list doesn’t include them.)

1. Shinobi VS Dragon Ninja
GRADE: C+
This was the single from the album. One thing I’m going to spoil for you is this: get used to the idea of halfway decent, all be it simplistic riffs, being completely undercut by the mediocrity of everyone else. The opening guitar riffs, combined with the rythm get me hooked, but then the lead singer shows up, and I’ve suddenly lost interest.

2. The Fake Sound of Progress
GRADE: C+
Oh what the fuck, man? You remembered the space bar here, but not on the title? Well either way, it’s among the better tracks on the album. Considering the trend of albums from this era, I’m surprised they didn’t make this the single. It is, after all, track 2. They also named the album after it, so it’s got to be something worth while, right? It better be. According to the track list, it’s just a little over six minutes long.

3. Five is a Four Letter Word
GRADE: B-
I can’t remember if they made this a single, or if they just played this one on Music Choice’s rock channel a couple times back in the day. Either way, it’s probably my favorite off this album. And even then, it barely registers as a B on the scale. Not really sure what the title has to do with anything… Then again, I have no idea why the single on track 1 is called “Shinobi VS Dragon Ninja”. Get the feeling these guys just pick clever titles for the sake of sounding clever.

4. And She Told Me to Leave
GRADE: F
Songs like this are exactly the thing guys like me will end up referencing when we accuse these guys of being Incubus ripoffs. Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound like any specific Incubus song, but it totally sounds like something they would write. Right up till the chorus, which then just sounds like something anybody from this era would’ve come up with. I am so bored with this song, and I’ve got three minutes and thirty more seconds to go!

5. Kobrakai
GRADE: D+
Once again, it has an excellent start, but then we actually get into the song. Pretty soon, I realize we’re going to be flipping between two completely different songs. And I dislike it when bands do that. There’s mathematical precision, and then there’s stapling two songs together in a haphazardous mangle, hoping to god it fits together. Maybe I’m not listening to the words very closely, but I fail to see how the villains from the original Karate Kid factor into this.

6. The Handsome Life of Swing
GRADE: C
The vocalist spends the majority of this song screaming his ass off… And yet, it’s still more appealing than listening to him attempt to sing. Again, it sounds like a product of its day, but I rarely consider that a bad thing all by itself.

7. A Thousand Apologies
GRADE: C-
Imagine my disappointment when I heard this beat, and then heard the lead vocalist decided to sing on this one. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity to bust a rhyme, yo! Oh well, what could’ve been, I guess.

8. Still Laughing
GRADE: F+
You may be still laughing, but man, I am so fucking bored right now. I literally went upstairs during the rest of this song to see what my little Russian blue mix is up to, and when I came down, I found out I still had one minute thirty seconds to go. Fuck this song.

9. For Sure
GRADE: F+
I don’t know if my patience for this album has officially hit rock bottom, or if this guy’s voice is at it’s most irritating in this song. All I know is I friggin’ hate this song.

10. Awkward
GRADE: C-
Boy you want to talk awkward? This sounds very suspiciously like “Shinobi VS Dragon Ninja” in the beginning. I guess that’s why I gave it so much slack. Ugh, and there’s a whole other track on here I have to sit through. Why did I think this was a good idea?

11. Ode to Summer
GRADE: D
Yeah, I take back what I said a couple tracks ago: this is where his voice is the most irritating. I love summer as much as the next guy, if not maybe a little more, but holy fucking hell I can’t wait for this album to be done!

OVERALL GRADE: D-

So that was the debut of LostProphets. I don’t recommend it. At all.

LostProphets would ultimately end up being a one-hit-wonder here in The States, but apparently, they were a lot more popular in their native Wales. Then the lead singer got a little…Molesty. Scratch that, he got ridiculously molesty. That, or Wales is a little more hardcore in their sentencing. All I know is a couple years ago, the guy was sentenced to THIRTY YEARS in prison for what he did. Either way, that ended up spelling the end of LostProphets.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review as you listened along with me. Lord knows listening to the entire album was a real fucking chore. Next week… No, next MONTH, I think I’m going to be talking about a band I love. The month of February, let’s just say I’ll be showing you how down with the sickness I truly am.

So yeah, how about them Patriots? Can you believe they’re cheating again? First there were those spy tactics, now they’re deflating footballs.

Look, I’m not going to lie to you, anything I have to say on the matter is going to have a bit of bias towards it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Jets fan or anything like that. I just really, really, REALLY don’t like The New England Patriots. “Spygate”, and now “Deflategate” are good supplimentary material, but mostly, I was just annoyed with the fact they seemed to make it to the superbowl every fucking year, and win against everyone who didn’t happen to be The New York Giants for a while. And usually, the times they couldn’t make it were due to the fact the fucking Steelers did. I was looking forward to the day I’d see this era of Patriots and Steelers making it to the superbowl… Then I learned they’re in the same conference, so that’d be impossible. Still…

I’d talk about boycotting this year’s superbowl, but frankly, I’m just not that invested this year in the first place. Yeah, I know I said The Broncos were going to fucking molest The Seahawks last year, and the opposite ended up being true. Perhaps the same will happen this year. Still, I just don’t have a whole lot of desire to see another Patriots superbowl. Even if it’s been, like, four years or so since they’ve been.

Really, my interests in football right now are on my boys, The Chiefs. For instance, I heard we might be giving Duane Bowe the ol’ heave-ho this year. If that’s true… Well honestly, I’d be lying if I said I’d end up missing the guy. True, he’s not the most obnoxious player the red and gold have had to work with (Larry “”I be cakin” Johnson still holds that distinction), but I’ve heard about him playing lawyerball during the spring once or twice. Also, the dude seems to end up in jail at least once a year for possession of marijuana. Guess he can’t wait till he gets to Colorado to light up.

Also, I hear Peytin Manning might be on his way out. Peytin fans are bummed out, but as a Chiefs fan, I’m actually glad to hear we might actually stand a fucking chance against Denver next year. Assuming that rumor is true, of course. Yes, we’ve been known to make Denver work for those victories over us. Usually. However, Manning Smash! is just too much of a force for the likes of Alex Smith and Jamal Charles. And five bucks says Manning’s presence is the only reason The Broncos have been as good as they have. I still remember when they were 3-13 on a good day, you know.

Bottom line: yeah, deflategate sucks, but I got a lot more interesting shit to look forward to maybe. And of course, you’re more than welcome to prove any of these rumor wrong with whatever materials you may find.

Nothing More is an industrial alternative metal act from Texas. Much like Mushroomhead, this isn’t actually their debut album: they’d been releasing other albums through what I can only assume was an indie label. The album in question is probably their first mainstream album ever.

That’s pretty much all I got in terms of background information. Seriously, I know little about these guys, and the internet has been little to no help. Judging by some of the songs here, I can guarantee you that they’re definitely anti-establishment. Whether or not it’s because they’ve always been that way, or because Occupy Wallstreet made anti-establishmentism really popular and they’re jumping on the band wagon for instant notoriety… Well, I hate to instantly assume the latter, but I’m not ruling it out.

It’s great to hear some halfway decent industrial for a change. The closest thing to successful industrial we have right now is Papa Roach’s latest identity crisis. And yeah, if you don’t read SISOH, “Face Everything and Rise” is pretty much the final nail in the coffin for my fandom of that band. The messages they preach, though stuff I can’t say I haven’t heard a billion times from other places, are messages I can get behind. The vocalist can hit some pretty insane high notes, and his singing voice overall leads me to believe that the Miles Kennedy style is becoming more and more popular with time.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a track-by-track review. Hopefully, it’s like riding a bicycle, and you never truly forget how. Or maybe it’s like riding a bicycle on the freeway: one of the dumbest things you could possibly do. Especially where I’m from: where Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth is viewed as liberal hogwash, and bicyclists are free game for pedestrian polo. I guess there’s only one way to find out. Let’s pop in Nothing More’s self-titled album, and give it a spin!

ALBUM ART: B-

the album art for Nothing More's self-titled album.

Is it weird that that little symbol reminds me of the MacDonalds arch’s horribly disfigured cousin? Also wondering if that comparison is supposed to happen, or if that’s just my brain being my brain. Whatever.

ALBUM CASING: B
Cardboard casing seems to be the new standard. Fortunately, it isn’t one of those fucking envelope cases, so it doesn’t throw off the distribution of my CD wrack at all.

TRACK LIST

1. Ocean Floor
2. This is the Time (Ballast)
GRADE: A
I count these two tracks as the same song. Especially since the insanely distorted vocals on track 1 are basically the first verse of track 2. Regardless of if you agree with this decision or not, it is what it is. First track = first single always strikes me as lazy, or unimaginative at absolute least. That being said, I can still see why they went this route. This song is insanely catchy. It’s a good introduction to what you’re about to hear for the rest of the album, and in my case, it got me looking forward to the rest. Well worth the listen.

Oh yeah, and if you know where to look, you can find an acoustic version of this song. That ought to be interesting.

3. Christ Copyright
GRADE: A
This track is loads more brutal. Both in lyrical content, and in the precision of the instrumental. It’s heavy, it’s mathematical (all be it on a fairly easy level compared to some of the stuff I listen to), and I’m pretty ure there’s a slam on the tea party in there somewhere. What’s not to like!?

4. Mr. MTV
GRADE: A+
Admittedly, the message of this song is nothing new. I’ve been an MTV hater since Jackass was the gold standard, and aside from the season-long Beavis and Butthead revival, I don’t see that changing any time soon. Even if 16 and Pregnant ended up aiding in the reduction in teen pregnancies, it still doesn’t excuse all the other intellect-eating skullfuckery called programming. Plus didn’t they used to play music? Or was that before the M in MTV was changed to moron?

Oh yeah, and this song is insanely addictive. I love the “I want my MTV” at the beginning. Apparently, the radio edit removed that first five seconds, but they remedied it by having him sing it at the end as they’re building up to the ending. If you get nothing else from this band, I recommend you get this song.

5. First Punch
GRADE: C+
It’s hard to follow up pure ownage like “Mr. MTV”. Still, this sounds kind of… Generic, by comparison.

6. Gyre
GRADE: B+
Acoustic instrumental type thing! Honestly, it’s pretty good. I get the feeling it’s building up to the next track more than anything else, but still, it’s pretty good.

7. The Matthew Effect
GRADE: A-
I’m going to take a wild guess, and assume this Matthew guy was someone the vocalist, or someone else in the band knew personally. Or maybe it’s a punk-ass reality star or something. Either way, the concept of “The Matthew Effect” seems to be that one guy who had everything handed to him, never worked a day in his life, and expects the whole fucking planet to kiss his fat white ass. These are all just guesses. One thing I can guarantee is that this song is awesome.

8. I’ll Be Okay
GRADE: B
Clearly, this is the ballad of the album. In turns of ballads, you could do a lot worse. In fact, even the ballad has a little kick to it. Although they wait till the second go-around with the chorus to get there.

9. Here’s to the Heartache
GRADE: B+
The title implies that this was going to be the ballad… And there’s probably some ballady type stuff in here, but I’m pretty sure the previous track is going to earn that title. This track is pretty good. It’s not quite as intense as previous tracks, but I guess they felt like we needed a breather from all the social commentary.

10. If I Were
GRADE: B+
This song doesn’t remind me of any specific song right out. Rather, I feel like I’ve heard this verse structure used in other songs before. It has a bit of pop flavor to it, I suppose. But hey, sometimes cliches just work. Plus despite the fact this sounds like a “Getting Away With Murder” era Papa Roach song, it’s still pretty good. Plus “Getting Away With Murder” was probably one of the last great P-Roach things ever released.

Yeah, I seem to be dwelling on “Face Everything and Rise” a lot today. Not sure why.

11. Friendly Fire
GRADE: B+
I’m not sure if there even is such a thing as an “honest liar”. Unless you count trickster spirits like Loki or Puk: creatures who have a reputation for deceit, and are even honest about it themselves. I rather enjoy this song, honestly.

12. Sex and Lies
GRADE: A
You know this one’s going to be heavy when you hear the guitar can’t even wait for the phone call in the intro to be done before playing. The chorus is a real brainworm of a thing, and even if I can’t exactly remember the words all the time, I’ve found myself humming the general melody while unloading trucks at my job. In terms of an angry breakup song, it’s good.

13. Jenny
GRADE: B-
It’s got a slow start, but once the rest of the band kicks in, it gets better. For some reason, I get a serious Jane’s Addiction vibe from this song. No clue why, I just do.

14. God Went North
GRADE: C-
God may’ve gone north, but this is pretty much the point the album goes south. Heh, see what I did there? Seriously, though, I was less than impressed with this track. I suppose once the song actually gets started, it’s not so bad, but for the most part, it just doesn’t hold my attention.

(There’s a track 15, but there seems to be some disbute between the Wikipedia article I usually use, the Amazon track list I use when one isn’t available on Wikipedia, and my PS3 over what it’s called. I don’t know what it’s called, but for the record, it sucks.)

OVERALL GRADE: B+

It’s a pretty good album. Maybe not great but definitely worth a listen.

Wow. I think this is some sort of new record for me. The latest Halestorm single, “Apocalyptic”, debuted on Kansas City radio today. I’ve heard the song once, and I’m already sick of it. Holy fucking christ this song sucks!

Call me a prude, but songs about someone’s sex life just don’t click with me. I wouldn’t say I’m disgusted, or repulsed or anything like that. Shit, man, you want to talk repulsive, you should hear about half the stuff in my collection. Both in terms of graphic descriptions of horrible acts, and in terms of concocting sounds that make most people turn away and want to claw out their ear drums. Anaal Nathrakh comes to mind for both scenarios, hilariously enough.

All I really know is musically, sex just doesn’t do it for me. Whether it be your typical 1980s exercise in misogyny, or Lzzy Hale somehow making sex sound more like some sort of fist fight than sex, it just doesn’t work for me.

Then there’s the title: “Apocalyptic”. Much like 3 Doors Down and the usage of the word kryptonite, I find myself asking what the fuck the word apocalyptic have to do with anything? I don’t know, man, I don’t usually think of breakup sex when I think of the end of days. I usually think of the sky turning the color of blood, sinners being collected by the billions by Satan, and demon horsemen riding along and basically ruining everybody’s weekend plans. But hey, maybe that’s just me.

I don’t know if this particular song happens to be some sort of studio bootleg that got leaked to the net, or if Lzzy and friends decided to do that scaled back, “we’re going back to our roots” thing that every band seems to be going through lately. Either way, I’m noticing a difference in sound, and I hesitate to judge it based on quality.

I will say that when I heard this song for the first time, I thought for sure it was a cover tune. For all I know and care, it probably is. My ten seconds of research haven’t pointed to anything proving this, though, and frankly, my tremendous amount of hatred for this song and apathy towards the matter keep me from researching for more. So if I’m wrong, my bad.

To summarize, this song sucks. It sucked right out the gate, it sucked listening to it a second time on Youtube just so I could get the imbed code and ammo for the paragraphs that don’t sound like padding for rants I’ve already made at least three or four times now already, and it will continue to suck till the end of time. And you idiots are going to encourage it to succeed like you encouraged Buckcherry, and anybody desperate enough for attention to rip them off. Because “Ooh! She’s singing about sex! She’s so metal!” Fuck you. By that logic, Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” is metal. By that logic, Lady Gaga’s “Disco Stick” is metal. By that logic, Britney Spears’ “Oops, I Did it Again” is metal.

Oh. Right. That. You know what I mean!

Getting back on track…

Look, guys, I’m really trying to like your favorite band here. I realize that for some reason, the rock world is in fucking love with Lzzy Hale, but I’m just not seeing it. They have good songs in their catelogue, but too many bad songs like this, and “I Miss the Misery” outweigh the good ones two times over. Shit, as much as I complain about The Pretty Reckless, I’d sooner listen to them. The worst thing I can say about them nowadays is that I’m bored with them. Also, “Messed Up World” was not what I’d call A-material, but I already ranted about that one back in 2014 somewhere.

I gave Halestorm the effort, and I’ve been thoroughly disappointed every single time. I don’t know why I bother anymore. This is clearly as good as it’s going to get. So yeah, enjoy your suckfest. In the meantime, I’m suddenly tempted to go through my Otep albums.

GWAR-BattleMaximusCover

I must confess, I had planned on reviewing this long before now. Two problems came up immediately, though:

1. Oderus Urungus, or rather Dave Brockie: the man behind Oderus Urungus, passed away when I finally mustered up a coherent enough opinion to put down into words. Considering how I feel about this album, I decided reviewing it then and there would’ve been too soon.

2. I’ve had a very mixed opinion of this album. Seriously, I can only remember one other album in my collection that I both loved and hated at the exact same time this much, and that was Taproot’s “Gift”. I hate the album enough to not listen to it all that often, but I love it enough to pull it out every now and then, and pull it out of the ol’ donation pile just when I’m deciding to give it away. It’s confusing as hell!

Make no mistakes, there is a lot wrong with this album. Specifically, the vocals. The actual lyrics are fine… If you’re into Gwar’s signature gross out murder and dismemberment humor, anyway. But Oderus’ vocals are all distorted and echoy. Every single song sounds like there’s at least two of him yelling at me in unison, and I got to say, it’s kind of… I don’t want to say annoying, but at the same time, it kind of takes me out of it.

“Battle Maximus”, in terms of story telling, might’ve been a little too ambitious for it’s own good. It tells two stories:

1. The story of Mr. Perfect: the latest “ungrateful fuckhead who thinks he can take on The Almighty Gwar”. I might be misquoting that, but he kinda went on a rant about the guy in the article I read that in. Granted, it was more coherent than Sarah Palin responding to those dog abuse accusations by going into a rant about how every liberal on Earth is a caviar eating snob (which honestly has nothing to do with anything she’s being accused of, but I digress), but yeah, it went on for quite a while.

2. The story of how Pustulus Maximus replaced Flattus Maximus. In reality, it was because the man behind Flattus Maximus passed away, and rather than recast someone as Flattus and try to have him replicate that particular style of playing like they’ve done with Beefcake the Mighty, Jizmac, and Balsac, they decided to create a new character and let him play guitar however the fuck he wanted. In storyline, it’s because Flattus Maximus is called home to his home planet, and the Maximus clan holds a guitar battle (The Battle Maximus) to see who takes his place.

Really, if you ask me, they probably ought to have focused on one story. Or at least find a way to intertwine the two. Near as I can tell, the two have no connections to one another.

Then there’s the remainder of the tracklist: the part that has nothing to do with either plot. This is nothing especially new if you’re a Gwar fan. After all, the storyline of “America Must Be Destroyed” ends on track 6. And some of these stand-alone songs are probably the best on the album. Oh sure, they’re disgusting, tasteless, and perhaps even offensive to some, but if you’ve followed Gwar this long, you’d honestly expect nothing less.

As stated above, the man behind Pustulus Maximus was allowed to pretty much play guitar his way. Believe me, it shows. It’s far from a bad thing, but compared to past albums, you can definitely tell that a different style is being used in the songs. I don’t really have a favorite style between the old Flattus style, and the current Pustulus style: they’re both pretty much on par with each other in terms of awesomeness.

In the end, it’s not the worst Gwar album ever. Every Bohab on Earth, and apparently Gwar themselves insist that honor still belongs to “We Kill Everything”. But in terms of memorable… Well… I don’t know if I’d go that far. Really, this album strikes me as Gwar’s way of saying “Everything’s peachy fucking dandy over here.”

Then Oderus ended up dying a year later. This band is really not having a whole lot of luck. But where as Flattus Maximus could be replaced after the appropriate period of grieving, Oderus pretty much was Gwar. If Dave Brockie got bored and decided he wanted to end the project, it’d be over. With him dead, I thought for sure that Gwar would be over with.

However, the rest of the band has decided to move forward without him, and even created a new character to act as both vocalist, and the leader of the crew: Blothar. Blothar, portrayed by Michael Bishop, was described as a fat viking in an article or two I looked at. And… Well… That’s about all I know. There’s talk of a new Gwar album in the not-too-distant future, and I honestly have no idea what to expect from it.

My inner Skeptic is less than optamistic. That jerk seems to think Gwar might be heading in to what it’s personally named “The second dark age” (Everything between “Ragnarok” and “Violence Has Arrived” being the first). It’s true, these are less than desirable times, but I’ll believe dark age when I see dark age.

Till then, “Battle Maximus” is really less of an omen of bad things to come, and really more of a bump on an otherwise smooth road. Overall, I suggest listening for yourself and forming your own opinion. Because as you might’ve noticed, mine is a bit all over the place on this one.

OVERALL GRADE: C

Oh boy, here we go again.

Interesting fact: When I heard the opening guitar part, I thought this was the new Slipknot. This instrumental’s got a little bit of swing to it, you know? Then the singer started to sing, and suddenly, my intrigue at seeing if “The Gray Chapter” was really as bad as people have been saying it is died, and the only thought in my head was “Oh fuck me”.

I’ve said in the past that 5DP are only capable of three songs: the super heavy angry shrieker tune, the super whiny emo bitchfest, and the cover tune. Somehow, this song creates a midpoint between one and two. A sort of 1.5 if you will. It’s heavy, but it’s also the single whiniest thing I’ve heard from these guys since… Well… The last single they put out.

It honestly astounds me that this band has the following it has. I can forgive the fact the guitarist is in fucking love with the B-chord anymore, and I actually applaud them for attempting to be diverse and including ballady sounding songs here and there. But god damn if it doesn’t seem like this is the only thing this band is capable of writing.

The lyrics in this, and countless other 5DP songs always end up being the weak point of any 5DP song. I’ve literally seen Japanese anime that had more subtlety to it than 5DP lyrics.

This particular song sounds like a fucking preteen temper tantrum set to a metal beat. Then you throw in that line about how we’re all chalk outlines in the rain.

A. Way to rip off 3 Days Grace, asshole. Frankly, “Chalk Outline” sucked too, so double negative points on that count.

B. over dramatic much? You’re not deep, you’re not a philosophy major (as far as I know), for fuck sake, shut the fuck up and play “Bad Company” for the eighty billionth time.

If I go any further in this rambling raving bitchfest of mine, I will be walking around in circles, and digging up corpses that have long since been buried.

5DP has reportedly gone back into the studio, and plans on releasing a new album this year that will supposedly be their most brutal to date. If by brutal, you mean bitchy, and sounding suspiciously like the last album you put out in 2013, I’ll believe it. Otherwise, I’m done. 5 Finger Death Punch fucking sucks. If I could go back in time and take away any positive things I said about them, then believe me, I would

I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t, I’ll say it here. I fucking love Kevin Smith movies. Admittedly, some are better than others, and… Well, let’s face it, Jersey Girl sucked, and Cop Out had me thinking that the end of an era was upon us. Never did see Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but nobody seems to like that one either. Still, I love Smith’s movies. The Askewniverse in particular. Jay and Silent Bob were my high school years. The original Clerks changed my fucking life. Whether or not that was for the better is probably up for debate, but what’s there is there.

In recent years, Smith has been trying his hand at horror films. Considering this is Kevin Smith: the fat guy who more or less pioneered the concept of “bromance” (ugh, I hate that word), I couldn’t help but think that John Carpenter was going to start making stoner comedies, or Slayer might start putting out country music, or Whitney Cummings might actually start being funny. These are truly bizarre times we live in, folks. But hey, if Tayler Momson can go into rock music, why not have a comedy director try serious horror?

He entered the field of horror with Red State: a film that… I won’t lie, hits a little close to home. Namely in the sense that Fred Phelps’ little cult and I have the dreadful misfortune of sharing a state. This isn’t the musing of a fanboy, or someone suffering from painfully high amounts of hopeless optomism… In fact, I was honestly expecting the worst. Then, I saw the movie, and I was quite impressed.

I can guarantee that I’m the picture perfect definition of jaded when it comes to horror. Slasher movies aren’t scary anymore. Shit, it was getting to a point where I wondered if these ever were scary in the first place. The current trend in horror with hauntings and evil little ghosty-ghouls just seems lame to me. The fact Paranormal Activity led the charge, and found footage movies just seem to defeat the purpose of watching a movie in the first place (you already know the people die at the end) didn’t help. Eli Roth may very well be the single worst thing that ever happened to the horror genre: turning a situation as simple as running away from a homicidal maniac into a snuff film that makes us cheer for the villain instead of the victim. It speaks volumes when the most innovative horror film I’ve seen in recent years was the first Human Centipede movie, and I could go on a whole other rant about how that movie could’ve been done better.

But Red State? I’ll admit it: that was legitimately creepy.

And then, three years later, we get Tusk. Described as a “tame Human Centipede” by some, and “an extremely perverse take on The Walrus and the Carpenter” by others, I’ve been interested in seeing it since Smith announced the project. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to see it in the theaters, because all my friends were more interested in seeing Guardians of the fucking Galaxy. Sometimes I think I need new friends. I’m not saying I’d abandon my current circle or anything like that, but maybe just recruiting a couple new guys I can go with who think outside this box we’re stuck in, and want to see something other than super hero movies and whatever tired shlockfest of a dead horseschwarzeneger and/or Sylvester are dragging out of the shed twenty years out of their prime.

And no, I’m not saying that because I’m just annoyed that I got outvoted on the matter of going to see Black Hat. Whatever made you think that? We should probably get back on track.

Tusk, in short, was the movie The Human Centipede should’ve been. True, the main character isn’t what I’d call sympathetic, but you at least understand why he’s obnoxious. He’s a lot more than just some random prick doing the ugly American routine, bumming around Canada and pissing everyone off. The villain of the movie, over the course of it, becomes a lot more than “I’m obsessed with making the perfect walrus!”, which is more than I can say for Dr. Heider. I was actually in suspense over the possibility that the main character was going to end up dead at the end!

It’s not a perfect movie by all accounts. I’m not especially fond of nonsequencial story telling. it confused me in Pulp Fiction, it was one of my gripes about the original Highlander (and lord knows I have a lot of gripes with that franchise), it pissed me off in this anime about a railroad heist a friend of mine showed me (the name of it escapes me), and frankly, I wonder out loud why we even need to do this whenever I sit through one of these movies. My taste for the avant gard stops at Meshuggah.

Still, even for nonsequential story telling, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been. In fact, compared to the examples I mentioned above, I barely even noticed it. Proving that it can be done, and it can hold my attention. Just please, for the love of god, try to have a method to the madness.

The existence of Tusk just further proves that it’s truly amazing how many ideas for fun movies or books or music videos or whatever usually just start off as insider jokes. Hell, a story I was writing in 2012 came from playing the video game Catherine, hearing that the tower you climb every night is a supernatural punishment for men who are unfaithful and deceitful, and thinking “Well wait a minute, what the fuck makes women so god damn special? Equal rights, bitch! It means you have to climb the tower of pain when you happen to be the lying cheating shitsack!”

And if you wonder what the insider joke is that spawned Tusk, you’re in luck. The special features of the DVD includes the legendary “Smodcast” that consisted entirely of Kevin Smith and… Uh… Someone else, laughing about an ad on a Canadian Craigslist clone.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this chaotic mess of text that doesn’t seem to go anywhere is this: Tusk is awesome, and you should totally check it out. To this film, I give an epic #WalrusYes.

And yeah, I know hashtags don’t work on WordPress, but still…

I’ll own up to being a bit on the jaded side anymore when it comes to Fantasy. Audible.com, in the infinite wisdom of their “If you liked [x], maybe you’ll like [y]” feature can provide, recommended The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell to me. I figured “Eh, why not? I have nothing in my wishlist for the first time since I got this account, and I have a credit leftover. What have I got to lose?” And sure, it killed a vast amount of awkward silence on the car ride to my family gathering this christmas, but at the same time, when everything was said and done, I really can’t help but think my money and time would’ve been better invested in maintaining the status quo, and heading into book 6 of The Iron Druid Chronicles instead.

I wanted to like this book, because the premise, and the universe intrigued me. Even if the conspiracy is predictable as fuck, I have a soft spot for illuminati conspiracy stories. I had four and a half hours of boredom, driving into the god forsaken wasteland of constant nothingness, perpetual ennui, and conservative talk radio known as Western Kansas, and that’s just one way. And people wonder why I believe selling out is under rated, and being proud of your roots is fucking stupid. It doesn’t help that I was hopped up on DayQuil, what with the cold I’ve had to endure these last couple of weeks. So yeah, I’m miserable, I can’t sleep, and there’s fucking nothing but christmas music and Rush Limbaugh on the radio. Time to put on the audio book. I just wish I’d picked one that held my attention.

My god, I can’t remember the last time an audio book threw so much action in my face, and I still managed to be bored listening to it. I’m sure the guy reading it had something to do with it: dude sounded just as bored reading it as I eventually was with listening to it.

The story takes place in a universe with three classes of people: the mages, the mechanics, and the commons. Mages are exactly what they sound like: wizards who do everything with magic. Mechanics are people with no magical ability, but they can fix any type of machine you can think of. Commons… Are commons. The mage guild and the mechanic guild naturally don’t like each other, and do everything they can to keep the members of their guilds from mingling with one-another. So naturally, a mage and a mechanic end up running into each other, and insert bullshit Twilight caliber “I love you, but we can’t be together because we’re so different!” romance here. I’d warn about spoilers, but this literally happens in the first two fucking chapters. If you have to spoil anything, it might as well be that much, right?

The two try to stay apart, because god forbid a mage and mechanic associate with one another for any reason whatsoever. Of course, they keep bumping into each other, we exchange some “humorous” dialogue, and I feel like I’m reading the script to a romantic fucking comedy from Happy Madison Studios. Okay, maybe not that bad, but I fucking hate romantic comedy anymore.

The more I read through this book, the more I actually found myself pondering: “Why is the mage character even here?” Seriously, the mechanic character is the more interesting of the two. And not because she has the whole “I graduated at the top of my class three years early” plot device that’s alarmingly common in anime lately. The mechanic is the one having the adventure, the mechanic is the one making all the enemies, and the mechanic is the more fun character of the duo. The mage… Honestly, the mage feels like he’s just there for the food. You could probably remove the mage character from this story altogether, and it’d barely impact anything going on. Sure, it’d be a couple chapters shorter, and there’d be no bullshit Twilight romance… But at the same time, it’d be shorter, and there’d be no bullshit Twilight romance!

The mage character in this book strikes me as the type of character The Blockbuster Buster would refer to as the FRI. FRI = Forced Romantic Interest: the character the author is forcing the main character, and the reader to fall in love with. usually, it fails miserably, and this is no exception.

Really, another thing about this book that pisses me off is what ultimately turned me away from fantasy for so long: the magic system. True, you can only do magic if you have enough chi, or chakra, or spirit energy, or midi-chloriens, or whatever, but aside from the fact it takes a toll on the user, magic seems to be themed after the infamous power of bullshit. using the power of bullshit, you can make fire appear out of thin air, you can turn invisible, you can walk through walls… If you’re really good at it, you can make fucking dragons appear out of thin air! Because bullshit. They don’t really explain the magic system very well in this book. That, or they explained it at the point the DayQuil finally wore off and I nodded off. Either way, all I managed to gather is that with the proper training, you can make reality your bitch. You are Neo, and the world around you is The Matrix.

Oh dear god, that better not be the plot twist at the end of the series. Oh yeah, did I mention this is only book 1? Don’t know how many Campbell plans on writing, but if I’m this bored and annoyed with book fucking 1, I’m probably done with this series.

So in short, The Dragons of Dorcastle was boring, the mage is kind of a pointless character, the magic system is bullshit, and the romance is awkward and forced at absolute best, and just plain unnecessary at worst. And yet it was still better than listening to infuriating talk shows, annoying overplayed christmas music, and whatever bastardization of the bible that random radio evangelical mongoloids use to justify hating gays and poor people. So I guess it accomplished its goal for the most part. I honestly don’t see myself reading this one ever again, though.

In typical ELT tradition, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was. And since I abolished the best and worst tradition as of 2013, it gives me a lot more room to talk about what I want instead of pretending like I’m a critic of all trades. Also, I honestly haven’t been doing a whole lot beyond the first half of this year besides recover from this or that.

I’m not going to lie, 2014 was not an especially good year to be me. And no, I’m not saying that because the republicans got the majority again. Now it’s true that it’s a bulletpoint on the list, but there’s been a lot more going wrong over here than some petty congressional election that ultimately proved to me that the state of Kansas is fucking retarded, and Kansans will vote you in on the single solitary purpose you have an R next to your name. Yeah, congratulations on reelecting Sam Brownback. Enjoy your billion dollar state debt, money being taken out of medicade and education to fund your governor’s presidential campaign (this time around), and crony government that’s been proven incapable of doing the job Brownback hired them to do. Idiots.

2014 is pretty much the year that kicked my ass. Not as bad as 2010, mind you, but it’s definitely up there. True, my transportation became more expensive, and disability pay is pretty much the only thing keeping me remotely a float anymore, but at least I have a job now. Compared to 2010 when I was unemployed, on the verge of flunking out of college, and having no luck in anything I was doing, this year could’ve been worse.

2014 was also the year I saw a ridiculous amount of my favorite comedians, musicians, and actors pass away. I didn’t write a memorial article for all of them, but a lot of them were people I truly enjoyed. Dave Brockie, Robin Williams, John Pinette, a few castmembers from Blackadder… And fairly recently, Christine Cavanaugh: the voice of Dexter from Dexter’s Lab, Oblina from Real Monsters, that girl who really liked Ug in Salute Your Shorts… There’s probably other shows she did that I really liked, but I can’t think of them at the moment, and let’s face it, those are probably better saved for their own separate article. I hope they all rest in peace.

2014 was also the year I discovered lacrosse. I’m officially a fan, and really hope that Major League Lacrosse grows and prospers. And hopefully, Kansas City gets a lacrosse team that I can cheer for and be thoroughly disappointed with at the same time. Because I know Kansas City sports.

Of course I say that, knowing full well that 2014 was also the year that The Kansas City Royals actually made it to the world series. True, we didn’t win. In fact, I was expecting us to lose in hindsight. Partly because The San Fransisco Giants have been a pretty good team these last couple of years (I’m told), but mostly because it’s Kansas City. They live to disappoint. Just look at The Chiefs. Okay, 9-7 isn’t something to be ashamed of, but we really shouldn’t have lost to The Raiders. The 0-10 Raiders, I might add.

No, I’m not letting it go! At least not until next season, anyway.

2014 was not an especially good year for video gaming for me. I don’t know why, but aside from South Park: The Stick of Truth, and maybe a couple curiosity purchases from the Playstation Network (which I heard got hacked again this past weekend), there really hasn’t been anything holding my undivided attention.

And of course, 2014 is yet another year filled with rejections from literary agents over yet another of one of my failed projects. This year, I decided to try my hand at a young adult novel. I guess my problem was not making it a supernatural romance with paper dolls for characters. Or maybe it was a little too brutal for “young adults”. You know you’re getting old when you either can’t understand, or headdesk at the modern slang. Pretty sure we used to call them teenagers back in my day, but whatever. I’ve only read one young adult novel that could hold my attention, and even then, Unwind is bound to piss you off if you’re one of those bleeding heart pro-lifer assholes who voted personage into power.

Getting back on track, though, I did get a request for a partial this year: something that’s only ever happened one other time in the five or six years I’ve been trying to get published. Probably should’ve given her the first chapter instead of the prologue in hindsight, but whatever, a milestone’s a fucking milestone.

2014 is also the year that I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo. Sadly, I didn’t finish my project in time, but I’ve been working on it off and on despite this. Now that I don’t have to worry about wordcount and a certain deadline, I can actually flush this thing out a lot more in the second draft. I expect nothing but rejection letters as usual, but unfortunately for them, I’m too fucking stupid to accept no for an answer. Plus maybe a little NaNoWriMo might give this more cred. Or not. Fuck it, I’m going for the golden ring on this one.

Those are pretty much the highlights of 2014. Until next we meet, here’s to 2015. May it suck significantly less than the last year.

I know that the rest of the world has more or less panned Papa Roach. They’re currently somewhere between the bane of traditional metalheads, and a generous portion of the punchline of any given joke revolving around how fucking whiny “new metal” is/was. I still can’t bring myself to despise Papa Roach with every fiber of my being… But the current era of P. Roach has really forced me to reconsider being a fan. In short, the fairy tale’s over, my love lies dead.

What the fuck happened to Papa Roach? Is this seriously the same band that wrote “Getting Away With Murder” over a decade ago? At what point did they get all… dubsteppy, I guess. Well actually, I ended up figuring that out after I typed that sentence. I still remembered what “THE CONNECTION” sounds like, and it got its start there. Ah, “THE CONNECTION”: an album that was stuck in capslock from start to finish. Don’t believe me? I dare you to look at the track list. I’m sure there was a method to that madness.

This song… Whew boy, this song. I wanted to say I was mesmerized by this thing, but that would imply that I enjoyed it. The term mortified would probably be a bit overkill, but I was definitely feeling some degree of WTF when I heard this for the first time.

I’d have to say my favorite verse in the song is “Angels keep falling from the sky. I’ll take their broken wings and learn to fly.” First time I heard that verse, I really wasn’t listening, and thought for sure Jacoby just got away with saying the F-word on the radio. But I listened a little more closely, and no, they said broken. Of course, that line still creates a lot of hilarious nitpicking that’d piss people off, but considering everybody fucking hates Papa Roach, I’m sure you won’t mind. Or maybe you will. Fuck it, I’m doing it anyway.

Dude, one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard was taking a broken pair of angel wings, and trying to fly with them. You yourself admit you don’t even know how to fly, so that’s already a bad idea. Taking into account those wings are broken, as in they won’t function properly, you’re guaranteed to crash and burn just as spectacularly as the angel who had them earlier did.

Also, I’ll give him credit: he’s got the brass balls to walk up to a fallen angel, a fallen angel that might not even be dead yet for all he knows, try to yank off its wings, and try to fly with them. Even though they happen to be broken, but even if through some miracle it works, that angel is going to be fucking pissed. And trust me, if you’ve read the Torah, smiting is pretty much the only thing angels know how to do.

Another thing I have to wonder is this: were those wings broken before the angel performed a glorious jacknife into the pavement, or after? Because if they were broken before, that’s all the more reason to abandon this game plan like the plague. Those wings clearly weren’t working out for the angel, and angels… Or at least biblical angels, are absolutely badass. What chance do you, a worthless little Earth ape, have of making them work?

But hey, logic is irrelevant: we got to stand up! We not only have to face everything, but we also have to rise! Two things at once! I’ve heard songs where I’m encouraged to face everything, and I’ve heard songs where I’m supposed to rise, but this guy? Mr. flying with broken angel wings wants me to do both! At the same time! I’d like to think I can multitask with the best of them, but that sounds like a handful.

Not to mention that, on a serious note, that is a seriously clunky title. “Face Everything and Rise” sounds like something a Japanese rock band might write. Not that there’s anything wrong with Japanese rockers. I still like Maximum the Hormone, after all. But English is rarely ever their strongpoint. When it’s a band like Maximum the Hormone, though, my expectations for perfect English are set pretty low, though. Papa Roach? Dudes have been American longer than I have, and I was born in the middle of red fucking Kansas if you need a hint at how American I am.

Long story short, I want to like Papa Roach so bad, but if this nightmarish dubstep sound is the direction they’re going to go in, then I think it’s time I move on.