Learning…

March 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Relationships are like books in that, even if you learn just one thing, it was worth it. …and if it was great but felt short, hopefully you’ll even get a sequel.

The CIA and The Church Committee

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

So I just heard a really interesting interview about the CIA on POTUS Satellite Radio Channel 124. Apparently, the CIA got figurative cuffs slapped on in the 70’s, disabling them from doing a lot of what was being abused at the time, such as the assassination of foreign leaders and heavy operations on domestic grounds. It was called The Church Committee.

However, it was actually to the extent where, especially now during war, they’re a bit too restricted in many people’s eyes because even if a CIA agent wants to execute a human intelligence mission of high danger, they’re not allowed because it’s too dangerous and, due to the politicalization of national security—the 24/7 ubiquitous media sticking their noses in everything—security is actually afraid they’ll get scolded by the government if casualties are deemed unjustified in any way. Therefore, it’s now being deduced that even though the technological intelligence is at a debatably decent point, the human intelligence may need to have the handcuffs loosened.

National security vs civil liberties topics are obviously very relevant right now and I hope America can be smart enough to find an appropriate balance.

The Unknown Brain

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

I learned some great info listening to a TED Talk this morning focused on the human brain. As the title of the talk suggests, “The Unknown Brain” includes a bunch of discussions centering around new information regarding the brain and personal anecdotes related thereto.

So far, the most interesting and relevant facts I learned are as follows:

    1. Out of the approx 2000 calories humans need to ingest daily, 500 of those calories go right to the brain, providing the necessary nutrients it requires to properly function. This of course means that, much like a lack of sleep, we truly are depriving our brains and partially disabling ourselves by failing to eat properly.
    2. Humans have an average of approx 86 billion neurons in their brains, 16 billion of which are located in the cerebral cortex–the most complex and advanced of the brain’s regions–which controls planning and other intricate functions. This region is what truly separates us from animals, because even though other animals can have larger brains with more neurons, none have anywhere near as many neurons in the cerebral cortex. Primates are the closest with about 9 billion.

    In fact, one of the greatest points being made on this episode was that, otherwise, humans aren’t really all that different from animals.

    It’s an interesting topic that I want to prioritize in my memory and further research, hence this post.

My Top Music of 2O14

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Favorite Albums of 2014:

10) U2 – Songs of Innocence
I like U2, I really do. I just hate Bono. So even though I’ve liked plenty of their songs throughout the years, I haven’t really been able to sit through a whole album. Usually because I get an arrogant Bono feel somewhere along the tracks. I was able to sit through this one. That’s momentous.

9) Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray
Found this guy listening to Alt Nation on satellite radio and fell in love with From Nowhere, one of my favorite tracks of the year. Didn’t actually scope out the album til late in the year but it’s a lot of fun; light and upbeat, willing to add levity to any profound playlist.

8) The Black Keys – Turn Blue
I’ve really enjoyed every album they’ve put out so this isn’t much of a surprise. I was in the supportive camp for their release of El Camino in 2011 when the hipsters were dismayed by their sell-out tracks. I liked their sell-out tracks and I like this. Though they probably would’ve been higher on this list if I was more wowed. I think they were gun-shy on the ‘wow’ing innovation cuz they wanted to focus on being bluesy again for their hipster fans after that poppy last release. That’s fine, but who gives a shit–do what moves you dawgs.

7) Phantogram – Voices
I actually don’t adore this album. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but not fully consistent through & through. The reason it sits here is because tracks 2 & 3 are basically my favorite songs of the year, hands down. Black Out Days Fall In Love have been played on my ears on their own more than other full albums have. They’re that repeat-worthy to me. The mood, the synth tones, the beats, the nuances, her voice–everything–I wish the whole album smelled like these tracks.
Side fun fact: The bass synth in Fall In Love immediately struck me as reminiscent of the crazy synth in The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I soon-after saw The Lips open for The YYYs and Wayne brought Phantogram’s singer out to break it down with him. Coincidence? I think not.

6) Jack White – Lazaretto
White brought it back as classic as ever. Honestly it might be my least favorite work by him thus far, but that doesn’t say much since I love everything he’s done. There are, without a doubt, insanely killer tracks on the album that I’d add to my all-time favorites, but not consistently. It’s probably just him being a bit cornier than usual so there feels like a lack of balance in the badass-ness of the disc. That’s fine though, in reality, it’ll probably still grow on me plenty.

5) TV On the Radio – Seeds
Love. This may be my favorite album by this band–and that says a lot. I don’t even know what to say about it. It just kills from front to back. The old-school meets modern creative brilliance of this band is endless. Period.

4) Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
This album is a perfect combination of their debut disc, Hot Fuss, and my favorite parts of their more recent releases. These guys have become one of my favorite artists. Take raw, angry, disgusting tones, add tasteful intricacy, and top it with Keith Buckley’s nonpareil style & witty lyrics = this album. Non-stop in my ears this yearz.
Side fun fact: Looking forward to Buckley’s first novel due for release in 2015/16.

3) Julian Casablancas & The Voidz – Tyranny
So like, dirty electronic punk The Strokes. That’s what it is. And I can’t get enough. I have a feeling not everyone will dig this. But the ones who do will.

2) St. Vincent – S/T
Annie Clark killed it this year. Nailed it. Smooshed it. I’ve enjoyed her preceding albums but she went crazy with this one. Angelic badass vocals over Jack Whitesque dirty guitars/synths and awesomely innovative rhythms. I also had an opportunity to see her live, and let me just tell you… if there’s an “it”–like a David Bowie “I’m not really sure if you’re human” “it”–she has it. She’s an artist in every sense of the word. Including sick, sick guitar work. Swoon.

1) Crosses – S/T
This album is the reason I didn’t get to listen to many others. Three months after its release, I had something like 647 song listens compared to my next most listened to band at like, 54. Now yes, I’m biased, because this is my favorite vocalist, Chino Moreno of Deftones fame. The bias isn’t without justification however. Quite underrated (much like this album), he easily has one of the most unique voices of his generation; a breathiness reminiscent of Sade which takes incredible vocal control, especially when you mix it with his belting range. This side project joins him with a fella from Far and some other guy and they make beautiful sounds together. Some fans will say that it’s disappointing since they re-released a bunch of songs on this debut LP that they’d already released on their three prior EPs. I agree to an extent, I would’ve enjoyed more new songs as well, but what saved it for me was the track listing. This album took me on an emotional journey of perceptive dynamics. They definitely got highAF and put the stamp of approval on before letting this off the shelf. I didn’t immediately care much about all the tracks–namely the real slow ones–but they found me after a bunch of listens and I fell head over heels. And really, those are the albums I’ll always appreciate more. The ones that don’t hit you right away. When they finally soak in though, they’re there to stay.

Favorite New Artists (w/ notable songs by them):

George EzraBudapest; Did You Hear the Rain?

Big DataDangerous
Really happy I got to catch these guys in a venue as intimate as Old Westbury Theater opening for Fitz & The Tantrums this year. They just completely killed it and I really enjoyed them even more than Fitz. And their female vocalist is swoon-worthy. Highly anticipating their full release in March 2015.

HozierAngel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene; Take Me to Church


Favorite Shows:

3) Big Data @ The Space at Westbury

2) St. Vincent @ Prospect Park

1) Arcade Fire @ Barclay’s Center

It’s been a great year. Here’s to another one–happy new year!

-Chezz

Review – Final Fantasy XII

August 5, 2014 Leave a comment

I know it’s rare that I do a review here, but I’ve been internally debating my opinion of Final Fantasy XII (PS2) for quite some time, mainly due to the story-line. I know it’s also been out for a long time and is no longer relevant, but for the first time, someone has put into words what I’ve been thinking since pretty much the beginning. Despite my enjoyment of the game-play and battle sequencing, I’ve had quite a few issues with the story-line but always doubted my doubts since all the reviews I read of the game were positive through & through. So while the following aren’t my own words, I found someone that well-conveyed my exact thoughts on the game, thereby supporting my opinion so I know I’m not just out of the FF loop. Perhaps for my own reference as much as your info, here’s his brief review of it with the key points:

Final Fantasy 12
“It’s not bad, it’s just not great. It doesn’t really grip people or try and elicit emotions from people. Vaan the shoehorn is part of the issue. He’s like the kid that interrupts when the adults (Ashe & Balthier) are talking. Of course, there’s some issue with a dialogue-dysfunctional party. Ashe & Balthier get all the lines, Vaan has some quota to interrupt every scene with something stupid or obvious, Basch is too quiet, just standing there like a potted plant most of the time, Fran usually only gets dialogue to act as a weather sensor with a voice reading or as a native interpreter, Penelo only exists to ask Fran how is she.

Another big issue is the cut-scenes/story not quite jiving with the lay of the land. This mighty oppressive empire doesn’t seem so mighty when they’re nowhere to be seen, even across the long journey to their capital city and when they do appear, its literally just dropping in out of the sky(…)They don’t have a strong ground presence. Then, their occupation of Rabanastre isn’t that brutal. It seems very casual in fact. Upbeat music (contrast with FFVI occupation music), no devastation (contrast with FFIX occupations after shock & awe), the troops don’t interfere in daily life.

(…)FFXII is subpar (by FF standards) for story, but above average for gameplay with a few weak points (Espers, Quickenings, strong drive towards 6 clones), and A++++ for B-game content (all the hunts, rare game, optional bosses, espers, whatnot) and unlike FFX, it can be very long, quite easy to get 120-200+ hours into FFXII.”

Source: www.gamefaqs.com forum – zoogelio

In a Nutshell
– character development’s weak
– enemy (empire) doesn’t feel oppressive/threatening enough
+ game-play is great
+ the best part of the game is the hunt for beast side-quests

Fun at times? Sure. Do I recommend it? Not really. I’m sure you have better things to do.

My Overall Rating:
6.5/10

Categories: Media, Reviews, Video Games

Painting With Words

October 5, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s a shame that I don’t have time to write in depth at the moment due to the report I’m presently writing for my college class, but it’s not a shame that I’m writing the report. During my research for the paper, it’s been requested that I read two discourses by William James, and in doing so, I’ve been greatly inspired by his articulation. A self-proclaimed philosopher, and with that I agree, James brings me back to the mentality I enjoyed during my Philosophy course two years ago. That mentality that not only allows but urges people to think for themselves and question beyond the mundane obstacles life presents us with.

This mentality is not exclusive to philosophy though, of course. Whether it’s wording of a less immediate functional value, such as philosophy, poetry, or really any speech given by an individual who has passion for the topic and respect for the audience, there is a certain mindset that, when coupled with an eloquent articulation of the same nature, appears to have an artistic quality not unlike painting in its truest form.

“Our permanent enemy is the noted bellicosity of human nature.”

–William James

Monthly Music Radar: January 2013

February 1, 2013 Leave a comment

music monthly radar

 

Top 10 Albums of January 2013:

1) The Neighbourhood – I’m Sorry… (EP)/Thank You (Demo) [2013/2012]
Experimental/Dance Rock/Indie Pop

2) ChappoMoonwater [2012]
Alternative/Indie Rock

3) David BowieHeathen [2002]
Experimental/Electronic/Glam Rock

4) David BowieZiggy Stardust [1972]
Classic rock/Experimental

5) Nancy SinatraEssential Nancy Sinatra
Classic Pop

6) The Joy FormidableWolf’s Law [2013]
Alternative/Indie Rock

7) Morning Parade – Morning Parade [2012]
Alternative/Indie Rock

8) Alabama ShakesBoys & Girls [2012]
Southern Rock/Blues Rock/Rockabilly

9) Daft PunkAlive 2007 (Live Album) [2007]
Electronic/House

10) Buffalo Springfield – 
The Best of Buffalo Springfield [1969]
Folk Rock/Psychedelic Rock

 

Recent & Upcoming Releases:

Some albums recently released or soon to be released that I’ll be checking out whether due to interest, curiosity, or for evidence that they still exist.

In order from oldest to most recent:

Dropkick Murphys: Signed And Sealed In Blood

Thom Yorke – Dazed Digital Exclusive Mix
Keep forgetting to scope this; might have to tonight.

Skrillex – Leaving
Checked this out and it wasn’t anything groundbreaking to me; seemed like somewhat regurgitated past songs of his.

New Order: Lost Sirens
Yup, the same guys that put out “Blue Monday” decades ago; their first album in 8 years.

Toro Y Moi: Anything In Return

Bad Religion: True North

Ra Ra Riot: Beta Love
Heard the single and it was fun & catchy.

Hatebreed: The Divinity of Purpose

Local Natives: Hummingbird

Tegan & Sara: Heartthrob

Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

Puscifer – Donkey Punch the Night

 

WANTED: MORE MUSIC
Myself and other readers are always looking for more music to check out so suggestions are always welcome. Feel free to reply with a recommendation of an artist or album, no matter the genre, and if so inclined, list your own most listened to albums of the month–sharing is in fact caring.

Top 10 Albums of 2012

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

This was an interesting year for music, especially on a personal level. I attended my first overnight festival (Firefly) in Dover, Delaware, opening me up to a ton of great new bands; enjoyed some new pop, indie, punk and alternative; enjoyed a bit of genuine Motown style coming back through modern music; listened to a ton of jazz, blues and classical on Sirius XM; and enjoyed my first live country music show to see Blake Shelton. I now step into this new year with a broadened palette and a smile on my face. Especially since the earth is still in tact. Through it all though, I’m here to name 10 albums that I truly enjoyed through tons of listens. I know I definitely didn’t hear every new album that surfaced this year, and these may not be what music gurus would consider “the true best” of the year; but this is a personal evaluation of the music that was heard by an open-minded lover of all music.


My Top 10 Albums of 2012

1) Jack White – Blunderbuss
We’ve been waiting a long time to hear what Jack White would sound like without the filter of his many, many bandmates. “Blunderbuss,” a little bit whimsical, a little bit menacing, offered all the things we’d hoped we’d find, plus a few exciting and beautiful surprises. White manages to create another masterpiece that again shows not only his diversity, but his timelessness.

2) Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Didn’t know what to expect stepping into this album, but it was far less than what I got. Koi No Yokan delivers an incredible journey from start to finish, with bassist Sergio Vega really showing his versatile contribution to the band for the first time. A true work of art from beginning to end.

3) The Hives – Lex Hives
I only recently discovered how consistent this band is in their crazy fun hookiness, but this album separates itself from all the rest of The Hives’ catalog. Singer Pelle Almqvist totally steps it up and innovates like never before, showing a low-toned, Nick Cave-esque influence which has great contrast with his other vocals and a fun, lighthearted feel. In a nutshell? Offspring’s “Smash” meets LCD Soundsystem’s “This Is Happening.” Flat out awesome and addicting album.

4) The Killers – Battle Born
For the first time since their debut release, The Killers have floored me. I didn’t expect to like this album, nor do I fully understand why I do. With a lyrical and melodic feel quite reminiscent of Springsteen–who I still can’t get into–Brandon Flowers’ words are delivered beautifully in the shape of story-telling mastery.

5) Band of Skulls – Sweet Sour
Especially coming off their first album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, which hosted solely one great song, Sweet Sour is a straight up home run with every song as enjoyable as the last.

6) Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

7) The Shins – Port of Morrow

8) Passion Pit – Gossamer

9) St. Vincent/David Byrne – Love The Giant

10) Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is an Animal


Honorable Mentions

Trampled By Turtles – Stars and Satellites

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here

Tame Impala – Lonerism

Mars Volta – Noctourniquet

Maroon 5 – Overexposed


Massively Depressing Disappointments

Yeasayer – Fragrant World

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

That Tool & Queens of the Stone Age didn’t release a new album.

 

Hope you’ve had a great year, and if not, better luck this time around. Happy New Year!

Chris

Categories: Media, Music

The Music Monthly Radar: November/December ’12

December 30, 2012 4 comments

music monthly radar


Top 10 Listened to Albums of November/December:
So I listened to much of the same music throughout Nov & Dec–and finals kicked my ass thereby delaying this post–so the following represents both months. Enjoy!

1) Deftones – Koi No Yokan (2012)
Rock/Metal
Single: Leathers/Tempest
Other stand outs: Swerve City, Entombed for the more mellow listener

2) Morning Parade – Morning Parade (2012)
Alternative/Indie Rock
Single: Headlights

3) Walk The Moon – Walk The Moon (2012)
Alternative Pop
Singles: Anna Sun/Tightrope

4) Atlas GeniusThrough the Glass EP (2012)
Alternative/Indie Rock
Singles: Trojans/Symptoms

5) A Silent Film – Sand & Snow (2012)
Alternative/Indie Rock
Single: Harbour Lights

6) Churchill – The Change EP (2012)
Alternative/Indie Rock
Single: Change

7) Youngblood Hawke – Youngblood Hawke EP (2012)
Alternative/Indie Rock
Single
: We Come Running

8) Chappo – Moonwater (2012)
Alternative/Indie Rock
Single: Come Home

9) Tame Impala – Lonerism (2012)
Psychedelic
Single: Apocalypse Dreams

10) Lana Del Rey – Lana Del Ray a.k.a. Lizzy Grant (2010)
Indie pop

 

Recent & Upcoming Releases:
Some albums recently released or soon to be released that I’ll be checking out whether due to interest or curiosity because it’s funny that they still exist.

In order from oldest to most recent:


Stone Sour – 
House of Gold & Bones Pt 1

Aaron Lewis – The Road

Lana Del Rey – Paradise

Christina Aguilera – Lotus

Soundgarden – King Animal

How to Destroy Angels – An Omen EP

Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles III

Green Day – ¡dos!

Sufjan Stevens – Silver & Gold

Elvis Costello – In Motion Pictures

Kate Nash – Death Proof EP

Bad Brains – Into The Future

Kid Rock – Rebel Soul

Pitbull – Global Warming

Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

Ke$ha – Warrior

Boys Like Girls – Crazy World

Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox

Green Day – ¡tré!

T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head

 

Side note
For any RPG fans with a smartphone (whether iPhone or Android), the Square Enix company has a great sale instated on some great RPGs for these smartphones for a limited time only: December 20th until January 3rd.
Find them all here

 

WANTED: MORE MUSIC
I’m always looking for more music to check out, so suggestions are always welcome. Feel free to reply with a recommendation of an artist or album, no matter the genre, and if so inclined, I enjoy reading others’ top listened to albums of the month, so please, feed me music.

Happy New Year!

-Chris

 

Bipartisanship & Hostility–from both sides

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment

There are a lot of emotions flying tonight and some people are obviously distraught over the election’s outcome. But although I’m saddened by some of which is over-the-top hostility, they’re entitled to their reactions–I’d probably want to give up on life were it the reverse. I think I’m even more disappointed with some Obama supporters tonight though. Enjoy the win, but why the need to gloat? We’ve been given another 4 years to finish what’s been started and part of that is attempting to close this gap in extreme partisanship. We’ll probably never agree, but what continues to matter is mutual tolerance through understanding, whether it be of religion, orientation, race, sex, politics or otherwise. We’ve seen in Obama and Chris Christie this past week that it can be done, so let’s celebrate our relief & elation, but as this nation’s people, let’s start a trend that really matters: let’s do our best to push this country forward. Starting tonight.

 

 

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