27 December 2014

Let's Do This: Motorhead Hill Climb in Japan

This is the dope shit: Motorhead Hill Climb on the Mazda Turnpike in Japan. 

I know what you're thinking* - drifting is lame, engine noise is loud, something something cars something loud. But you're wrong. Free your mind and embrace the joyful noise that is blowoff valves, straight cut gears, and unmuffled race exhaust. Superb. And that backing track is good too.

They drove a GT40 up that hill. The GT40 is glorious. The GT40 is an enormous fire-breathing dragon that is thinly disguised as a race car. The GT40 will straight throw your shit off a cliff.

@ 3:50 the guy drifting the corner at full throttle in fifth gear(!!) is a hero. Drifting is lame but that kind of commitment is beyond mortal ken.

* Not strictly true.

24 December 2014

Shit, Actually

GJAW is on record as liking the movie Love, Actually.
My movie taste is... suspect.

Here is a superb alternative reading of the text from Jezebel. Highly recommended.

19 December 2014

Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945

This song was in the news because Stephen Colbert played it at the end of his show last night.
It is great.

Word is he relates to the song lyrics. Per Maureen Dowd:

He had 10 older siblings. But after his father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10 and the older kids went off to college, he said, he was “pretty much left to himself, with a lot of books.”

He said he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of a song called “Holland 1945” by an indie band from Athens, Ga., called Neutral Milk Hotel and sent me the lyrics, which included this heartbreaking bit:

“But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on. . . .

And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.”

See you out there.

17 December 2014

Sony is Lame

Beaker and Dr. Honeydew - Holiday Photo
I'm always a little bit baffled when powerful, 'successful' people do something that is outrageously stupid, especially when it happens in tech. I work in tech (internet security, if you must know) and I don't want to burst any bubbles but it's not really as hard people sometimes make it out to be. A little common sense and  elbow grease and you can fumble your way through quite a lot. I have a job, which should be proof enough. Point is: just because someone is smart in one way does not mean they are smart in others, and that's painfully obvious with the Sony hack.

Sony is resetting the bar for stupidity at all levels of IT and executive assholery. You generally don't want your very personal work emails made public, even moreso when you work with famous people. Their network was hacked, sensitive information was stolen, passwords were stored in an UNENCRYPTED txt file or spreadsheet with the filename 'passwords.txt', emails were stolen as a result. As we say in the business, "are you fucking kidding me?"

Sony doubled down on their stupidity by canceling the release of a (reportedly shit) movie. For realz? Someone got into your email and made vague, grammatically incorrect threats of violence and you canceled a movie? As the cybersecurity expert points out, some guy killed twelve people and shot 70 more at a theater the night Dark Knight opened and they kept that in theaters. He shot 82 fucking people, killing 12. Movie stayed open.

Take it away, cybersecurity expert person:

This same group threatened yesterday 9/11-style incidents at any movie theatre that chose to show the movie. Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. I can't believe I'm saying this. I can't believe I have to say this.

I can't either. But hey: people are dumb! How dumb are they? Man, so g-damn dumb. Check it:

Yeah, you don't want to be in the category of blame the victim, but Sony has had hacks before. It's ​been hacked dating back to 2005, and the executives inside of it are still emailing to each other like it's 1997 and it's the first time they've ever been on email.

Man, I hear you.

16 December 2014

It's That Holiday Time of Year: Christmas Songs, Ranked (5 of them, anyway)

Holiday shit. Pretty short Christmas list this year. It looks like I'll be getting everyone new brakes for my high-performance German sports sedan. I already got you guys a new radio because the OEM version sucked major ass. You would think that was enough but: no. People I swear.

Stereo was expensive but what are you going to do? You guys don't want me to put some wack shit in the sweetmobile. I need fucking nav and a touchscreen up in that bitch. I can abide just about anything in a car except a shite stereo. One time expense, smiles per mile, etc, etc. Same with the brakes: they are a wear item and that's what happens when you buy a car with 80k miles on it. Good times. Don't thank me, friends and family. You're worth it.

Me and the holidays have an, umm, up and down history. (Now that I'm older I have cut out the binge drinking. That's a little thing I like to call maturity.) But I love me some Christmas music. Keep your presents, I'm rocking out with an egg nog. Favorite Christmas song? All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. Is there a better Christmas song? I don't think so. Here's a short ranking:

1. All I Want for Christmas is You
2. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kristy McColl
3. Happy Xmas (John Lennon)
4. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - U2
5. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

Juuuuuust outside the top 5: Oh hey did you want a pop version of Angels We Have Heard on High? You're welcome. You want to hate but that melody has been killing in English for 150 years (the French version even longer). Resistance is futile.

Related: If Me First and the Gimme Gimmes recorded a Christmas record then I would pay good green American money for it and their versions of the classics would constitute my entire "best Christmas song" list, although Mariah would probably still be number one. 1994-era Mariah? Tough to beat.

07 December 2014

Throwback Thursday (early): Our House by Madness

This is a classic: the beat, the lyrics, the melody, the awesome noise they get from the horn and string sections. I always thought that the strings were a synthesizer. Turn it up. 

05 December 2014

Come Over to the Dark Side

Big Cheese is unmoved by the new Star Wars trailer. He feels that after three terrible movies (and making three decent movies terrible retroactively) we should reject the new IP coming from Disney. He says:
i totally disagree with Alex, he is a f'n idiot. If I get my heart broken and my childhood maimed MULTIPLE times repeatedly, with extreme prejudice and without exception; should I go back for more under the idiotic pretense that it will be different this time??? bloody unlikely, and anyone who chooses to do so is without question a train-wreck of a person. 

I think what AP is getting at is that he was moved by the trailer in spite of all the disappointment and low blows that constitute everything that George Lucas has done to the franchise since he put Return of the Jedi in the can in the 80's. Is that stupid? Possibly. But the heart wants what it wants, and for better or worse this mythology has a way of cutting through his adult-armor and speaking to a part of him that is otherwise deaf and unreachable. He felt some feels, and here we are.

I don't expect much from this new iteration, but at least whoever cut the trailer knows what is cool: the Falcon doing a barrel roll while the theme kicks in. THAT IS THE DOPE SHIT. Returning to Brian Philips because this essay is one of the best things I read in 2014:

Something I’ve noticed since I entered my mid-thirties is that no one ever looks the right age anymore. When I see friends I’ve known for years, they’re always a little older than I expect, a little different from the images I’m carrying around in my head. But when I see old pictures of them, pictures from the time when those mental images ought to originate, they look astoundingly, impossibly young. No one was ever as young as they look. They look like elves with goofy hair. So what am I picturing when I think of them? Something that never really existed, probably. Something both finished and unfinished, a story I’ve told myself. We tell ourselves stories to make time bearable. But the World Cup is over now, for all that it meant and all that it didn’t mean.

That's what these movies have become: they are now a story we told ourselves when we were young. Yeah Lucas did everything he could to fuck that up but he's a jackass now and forever. Let's enjoy it for what it is, without a larger commitment to all that it meant, and all that it didn't mean.

01 December 2014

Soft Target

Circa 1980-ish
The Star Wars teaser trailer dropped last week, if you hadn't heard. And if you hadn't heard then you probably aren't connected to the internet and/or interested in popular culture.

Grantland had a good summary of reactions. I have mixed feelings about the new movie, not least because George Lucas delivered three steaming piles of shit and then contrived to update the older movies in ways that only benefited his already prodigious bank balance, but Alex Pappademas contributed something that I very much identified with. Take it away, Alex: 

Look: I was really comfortable dreading and/or not caring about this movie when it was first announced, and I fully expect to get back there again before next December. But the Falcon is the Falcon. That first barrel roll felt like this trailer just reached out and high-fived my inner 8-year-old. I am a sour, pretentious turd and I want so badly to be immune to this bullshit, and yet I can’t deny that I’m in. It turns out that my heart is like that thermal exhaust port on the Death Star — after all is said and done, it turns out to be kind of an easy target.