Archive for January, 2010

27
Jan
10

Toyota Stops Selling Cars

Okay, so let me give you the full back story here; a while back the gas pedal in people’s Toyotas started sticking to the floor, causing the car to wildly and uncontrollably accelerate. This led to a number of accidents, a few tragic deaths, and countless “holy shit! What the fuck is happening! Jesus, Buddha, Allah save me!” moments behind the wheel. So in November Toyota concluded that the problem was that the pedals were getting stuck underneath the floor-mats and they recalled 4.2 million cars and replaced their floor-mats.

Well, the problem didn’t stop. Cars kept accelerating, people kept shitting their pants, and Toyota had to do something about it. So about a week back Toyota instituted another recall, 2.3 million this time. Now here’s the kicker, Toyota has no idea what the hell is wrong with these cars, none. They just know the accelerator sticks, no reason why, no known way to fix it, it just happens.

Now Toyota has decided that the best course of action would be to simply stop selling cars, that’s right, in a world where GM or Chrysler has a smaller share of the automotive market than I do (my 1991 Honda Prelude is still for sale by the way) Toyota, the world’s largest car company, is just going to stop selling 8 of its cars, including its most popular models, the Camry and the Corolla. I remember thinking that the initial recall would be really damaging, but I never saw this coming.

Now, I am an avid Honda guy, so Toyota is kind of the Boston Celtics to my Los Angeles Lakers, but I have to say I feel bad for the company. The way this whole thing came about it’s kind of like the perfect storm to screw over Toyota for no apparent reason. It’s almost an act of God. The car’s are still good, there is nothing wrong with them, they still have that unshakable Toyota quality and reliability, but for some reason one of the most simple mechanisms on them just doesn’t work correctly, and no one can figure out what the hell why. But as a result, Toyota’s image will probably take a hit, Toyota sales will obviously take a hit, and customer satisfaction will probably take one too. Now, Toyota’s brand and image is big enough and has been established for long enough that I don’t think this will do serious long term damage, but you have to admit, this sure blows for them.

And imagine how the dealerships are going to take it; someone walks into their showroom in this terrible economy and actually wants to buy a new car, and you have to tell them “sorry, you and your gigantic check are going to have to go home, we don’t sell cars anymore.”

I’m just really interested to see what the hell the issue could be, I mean, it should be simple to diagnose, but it’s got all of Toyota stumped, and those guys have some really smart engineers. My guess is magic; it would make as much sense as anything else at this point. Either way they better hope they find out what it is, and find out soon.

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21
Jan
10

Selling out for spiderman

Marc Webb has done what I one day hope to do. He made one good movie, put his heart and soul into it, gained some critical acclaim and a measure of fame, and blew it all on a big paycheck. Yep, Marc Webb, the guy who directed (500) Days of Summer, will be the director of Spiderman 4. I can’t imagine what they were thinking with this move, but I am pretty sure I know what Marc Webb was thinking:

Spiderman 4 huh? How much did it cost to make the last one again? 258 million…okay, thats just 32 times what (500) Days of Summer cost to make…will my paycheck be 32 times bigger too?

…I’m in.”

Well, good luck Marc Webb, I wish you the best of luck on this latest directorial endeavour. There is no way you will live up to Christopher Nolan’s indie-director-turned-mainstream-movie-god precedent, but hey, at least you can’t suck as bad as Sam Raimi.

20
Jan
10

Coachella 2010 Line-up

Well, they released the Coachella lineup earlier today and it looks pretty decent. Got some good stuff in there; Muse is pretty awesome live, I do like Gorillaz, there are a bunch of smaller bands that I would love to see, and Thom Yorke being there is really reason enough to go. Hell, I’d even watch Jay-Z just to watch him.

Overall I am pretty happy with the lineup and am 90% sure I’ll be going this year, though I will have to say it’s totally not worth it for those who have to camp out. As someone who spent last Coachella camping out in Satan’s ass crack, also known as Indio valley, it is something I will never do again. I mean it is one thing to bear the ridiculous heat and walk over the huge field to see all the acts, but to sleep in it too, is just unbearable. Last years experience pretty much went like this.

Day 1: Had to move the heavy camping equipment about half a mile in 100+ degree heat to get it to our campsite, almost passed out, and subsequently got a headache that made the rest of the day extremely unenjoyable. Tried to go to sleep after the show but everyone was making a lot of noise at the campsite, so I couldn’t get to sleep until after 4 am.

Day 2: At about 8 am it was no longer possible to sleep. The tent was letting in all of the sunlight and it was already hot as balls considering the day had just begun. Ended up being completely unable to sleep, but there was nothing notable going on for another six hours.  Sat around in the heat, tried to stay cool, failed, and had a terrible time that day because I spent the whole day extremely tired in sweltering heat. The night was really cold, which was great considering the weather earlier. I ended up moving all the camping equipment to the car that night and sleeping in the car.

Day 3: The car was cramped and uncomfortable but with the air conditioning going it was much more bearable than the tent. Laid in the car until 4 pm and debated going home, but then stopped being a wuss and enjoyed the rest of the day. It wasn’t too bad after getting a little bit of sleep and escaping the heat for a while. Left Coachella that night, got home, and a booked a hotel room for next year so I would never have to camp at Coachella again.

16
Jan
10

More ways to procrastinate

Whenever I am  looking to put off making meaningful blog posts or doing anything that would require me to get up, I often look to flash games to help me be a less productive member of society. One of the ones I found recently that is quite decent is this Super Mario 63 flash game. All in all its really well done and pretty fun, although I do hate the way that running works in the game. I just started playing it so if later levels suck don’t blame me for wasting your time, but if it ends up being really good, feel free to laud copious amounts of praise onto me (despite the fact that I had nothing to do with its creation).

Super Mario 63

15
Jan
10

Jimmy Kimmel blasts Leno on Leno

Jimmy Kimmel was on Leno last night for one of many stupid segments Jay has on his show to fill time because he isn’t funny. Now I don’t know who the genius was who made this happen, but it was a pretty huge disaster.  Jimmy Kimmel pretty much took every opportunity to take shots at Leno for screwing over Conan, which couldn’t have made Leno happy. The video of the entire segment is below. But this brings up two things, one, doesn’t Jay have any dignity at this point? I mean, c’mon, just go away man. 17 years on “The Tonight Show” you had your turn, go home. Two, Jimmy Kimmel is awesome, once they put Jay back on “The Tonight Show” my boycott of Leno will mean I watch Letterman from 11:35-12:05, then switch over to ABC for Jimmy Kimmel Live. I think you should do the same.

12
Jan
10

10 Albums Rolling Stone Underrated

10 Albums Rolling Stone Underrated

The end of every year brings with it a slew of “best of” lists, an attempt by various television shows, magazines, and websites to wrap up the year’s accomplishments in an easy to follow list. Well since this was the beginning of not just a new year but a new decade (that’s right, suck it “there was no year 0” people, we won, you lost, and 2010 is the start of the new decade) these meaningless lists were a bit bigger and in most cases more inaccurate. One of the more notable lists is Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Albums of the Decade.” Now these lists are usually pretty terrible and, all things considered, I think Rolling Stone did a pretty decent job, but there are still a number of albums that were either seriously underrated or completely neglected. Below is a random list of 10 albums that I thought should have made the list. There are many more that could have been included, but I’m lazy and this post is already kind of long, so I’m stopping at 10.

ToolLateralus (Didn’t make the list)

This is one of those albums that I may not like all that much but have to give a lot of respect to. It’s a great complete album that defines what Tool and the entire progressive rock genre is all about. Definitely deserves a spot in the top 100, probably in the top 50.

The Postal ServiceGive Up (#86)

Give Up is definitely a top 50 album, if not top 25. It’s loaded with great songs that have tremendous replay value and the album as a whole is paced perfectly. It begins with what is arguably the album’s strongest song “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” which starts off slowly enough but quickly brings you up to the speed required for “Such Great Heights,” a song that made countless crappy commercials somehow memorable. The album maintains a fairly quick pace while allowing you to catch a breather with songs such as “Recycled Air” (eh? eh?). And it ends with an insane, high-octane joyride titled “National Anthem,” a song that can only be truly appreciated when played at full blast, with all the windows down, driving 80 on a deserted road (side note: Give Up also happens to be a GREAT road trip album). In the end the album strikes a perfect balance across the board: high-energy without being too tiring, very electronic while still being melodic, with meaningful lyrics that are still light and fun.

Sufjan Stevens Avalanche (Didn’t make the list)

Illinois deservingly got the number 78 spot on the album list; the album is filled with beautiful songs that display Sufjan’s mastery at writing and performing a type of music that most people shy away from; what I will lovingly refer to as “independent wuss.” But there is some serious crap on that album, songs that definitely get skipped on ye olde playlist. Avalanche, however, is fairly stacked from top to bottom with great songs, and the ones that aren’t so great are still pretty good. Avalanche shows a greater range of Sufjan’s abilities, specifically the depth of his ability as a songwriter to tell a story in a way that is straightforward and at the same time deeply layered. The raw emotion of “Pittsfield’ and the imagery of “The Mistress Witch From McClure ( Or The Mind That Knows Itself )” effectively tell stories in a few short verses that would take less talented writers hundreds of pages to express. All the talent on display in this album along with its profound human emotion should have garnered it a spot in the top 50.

Iron & WineThe Creek Drank the Cradle (Didn’t make the list)

I can’t really say enough about Sam Beam’s ability as a lyricist, so I won’t say anything at all. Pick up the album, listen to it, don’t be a douche, and let Sam Beam’s warm voice and powerful lyrics melt your heart and touch your soul…was that too gay?

InterpolTurn on the Bright Lights (#59)

Pretty much a great all around rock album. Doesn’t have a single song that needs to be skipped, the songs themselves linger in your mind, its got that whole 2000’s New York City feel that really invaded music earlier in the decade. There’s also lots of drums, bass, and guitar complementing (or sometimes playing over) a very distinctive voice. One other thing that sets this album apart for me is that it is (for lack of a better term) mainstream music, but it contains something most mainstream music seems to have serious trouble with: subtle lyrics. Interpol succeeds in getting across the meanings of their songs without having to spell it out for you word for word (alright, with the exception of “NYC”) like most mainstream bands do. Lyrically it’s not one of the best albums ever, but it is head and shoulders above mainstream music of the last decade.

RadioheadAmnesiac (#25)

Alright, now I am admittedly a huge Radiohead fan and am extremely biased when it comes to them, but to have Kid A as #1 and not have Amnesiac as #2 is just stupid. I mean they are essentially part 1 and part 2 of the same album and, if you ask me, Amnesiac should have been #1 and Kid A #2. They were recorded in the same session, were released within a year of each other, and are both works of absolute genius. However, I would say that Amnesiac does more with the lyrics and songs to create a consistent album that sustains a feel throughout. Rolling Stone explains the pick of Kid A as #1 by saying that “10 months into the century, Radiohead had made the decade’s best album — by rebuilding rock itself, with a new set of basics and a bleak but potent humanity,” which is true, but this is only because Radiohead chose to separate Amnesiac and Kid A into two albums and released Kid A first. Had Amnesiac been released first it would have done the same thing, even more dramatically so. If anything Kid A paved the way for something as dramatically different as Amnesiac to be accepted. My guess is that Amnesiac loses points with most people for taking “bleak but potent humanity” too far, but I can hardly blame an album that is supposed to be weighty for being just that. Either way, this album is a masterpiece, a complete work that is interconnected, full of human emotion, and shows off the skill of a musical talent that put away the cookie cutter and pursued music for the art of it. It is definitely the best (or second best) album of the decade.

Modest MouseGood News for People who Love Bad News (Didn’t make the list)

I am really surprised this album didn’t make it on the list, I mean it’s Modest Mouse, the band everyone pretends they like even if they hate them, because it’s just so cool to like them. But seriously this is a pretty damn good album, lots of thoughtful songs, a good diversity amongst the songs, and some highly underrated existential lyrics. Seriously, go listen to “Bukowski” (also any band that has a well done Bukowski reference is fine by me) and “The View” again and tell me honestly that it doesn’t perfectly exemplify the way you have felt about life and pain and God at some point in time. Go on, listen to them. I can wait.

Gorillaz – Demon Days (Didn’t make the list)

C’mon, Damon Albarn and Danger Mouse? How can you lose? Though it is arguable whether Demon Days is better than Gorillaz, I would have to say that the way the darker feel of Demon Days is balanced by the beats of Danger Mouse makes it a deeper album without being one that drags. It takes a few more listens to fully appreciate than Gorillaz did, but once you do you can see why it is the superior album and why it, even with its flaws, has enough extremely high points to propel it into the top 100 albums of the decade. Hell, could you imagine what this last decade would have sounded like without “Feel Good Inc” and “DARE.” I mean just think about how often and how many places you heard those two songs.

Cold War KidsRobbers and Cowards (Didn’t make the list)

There were a lot of albums that would have made the top 100 list if they just had more exposure. Hell, there are probably a lot of albums that would have made my list of albums if I just knew about them, but sadly with TV, movies, TV, books, more TV, and porn, there is only so much time left over for music. But this album is definitely worth checking out, the lyrics of each song tell an interesting story, lots of the tracks feature a powerful piano (and that’s always cool), and the whole thing has a truly original sound. Overall it is a highly stylistic album that hits on all notes and is a serious pleasure to listen to.

Gogol BordelloUnderdog World Strike (Didn’t make the list)

I can honestly say that I don’t know of any band that makes music the way Gogol Bordello does. A gypsy punk band deserves a spot in the top 100 just for the fact that they pulled off making an album that can be taken seriously from a musical standpoint. What’s even more amazing is that the tremendous charisma of front man Eugene Hutz comes through even in audio (I’m not gay, but I would definitely sleep with Eugene Hutz, and trust me, you would too). The album itself is an energy drink chugged through the ears and will make even the most reserved individual want to jump into a mosh pit and push some sweaty people around. Sidenote: If you ever get a chance to see Gogol Bordello live in a small venue, do it, it’ll be one of the high points of your life (for me it ranks just above my college graduation and just under that time I found a naked picture of a girl I went to high school with on the internet).

Honorable Mention

Muse – (Didn’t make the list)

I haven’t listened to enough Muse yet to really form a good opinion (I’m still bitter that everyone compares them to Radiohead), but I have been assured by many friends with fairly decent music taste that Absolution should have made this list.






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