This is the Ballad of the Robo Jockeys

I’m happy to announce that I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go with Robo Jockeys and that the album is now available at the SLXP website.

Read this later, download it now.

Robo Jockeys is a first-of-its-kind technopera.  It tells a complex story of war and peace, love and hate.  It all starts with Thelonious, leader of all of mankind, and the revolt of the world’s robot workforce.  Work in the legendary heroes the Robo Jockeys, and you’ve got a whale of a tale, to say the least.

Ultimately I didn’t get to live up to my initial ambition, but I’m still very much satisfied with what I’ve got here.  It would be really embarrassing for my roommates or really anyone to see my recording vocals, so that slowed down the process.  Since I had the core story recorded already, I figured there was no point in making you guys wait anymore.

I think it’s definitely the best SLXP album yet, although still not quite on par with the greatness that is Fat Sherman.  In fact, I heard that SLXP is thinking about giving it up soon…


Hey how about a fun post with no particular relevance to anything current? I remember back in September when Sean made a post on his blog of movies with similar posters. When I saw that it triggered my memory back to when I saw this dvd of a Stephen Dorff movie. At first I thought it was the Bourne Identity until I realized it just looked strikingly similar. That got me to thinking about other movie posters and dvds with similar designs, why does that happen? Is it to trick someone into buying the crappy straight to dvd movie? “Well it looks like Bourne Identity maybe it’s as good as Bourne Identity“. It’s not easy tracking these down but here are a few I’ve seen over the years and a couple of others I just discovered.

I’ll bet you anything that this one wasn’t a coincidence. Who the hell would want to see an espionage thriller with Stephen Dorff? If it wasn’t for that cover I bet it would never get rented but confuse people and that’s money in the bank. Similar colors a target in the middle. Actually the movie poster for Bourne (I used the dvd cover) also has a girl running behind Matt Damon, hmm interesting.

I’m not sure how this one went down. At first glance you’d be like “Another straight to dvd movie ripping off a more popular movie” but this I’ll Believe You thing came out first. About a year beforehand with a theatrical limited release, yet their dvds are like clones… Is somebody ripping someone off? Either way you can’t deny their similarity in the various boxes with actors heads, conspiracy?

I think this one was purely an accident. Who gives a shit about Sphere? That movie sucked so I doubt this other crappy looking flick attempted to copy it. Though you have to admit it’s amusing how similar they turned out. Both feature three actors heads in a placement with a crescent shape dividing them between some sort of sci-fi image, out of this world.

Maybe this one is stretching it a little but I always thought these looked similar. A silhouette in a blue aura surrounded by black? I think there’s something going on here.

I think this one is my favorite, it’s like a complete knockoff down to every detail. Is Gone in Sixty Seconds even that good of a movie? Are they really trying to bring in that crowd, fool people into thinking this is some kind of sequel or is in any way related? You can’t make that stuff up.

That’s all folks, at least that’s all I could think of/find at the moment. If anyone likes this than perhaps I’ll do another one sometime, if I can find more knockoffs which I probably can, Otteni out.

Man In The Mirror

This Is It

After hearing that they were going to release a film chronicling Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” rehearsals, I was a little skeptical about the intentions of such a release. At the surface it seems that This Is It could’ve been seen as essentially a shameless way of cashing in on the recent death of “The King Of Pop”. However, I think this film works superbly as a showcase for Jackson’s undeniable talent as an entertainer, as well as a consummate professional.

The film consists of various rehearsal performances that were taken by a small camera crew as Jackson was preparing for what was going to be his grand “comeback” tour. As well as capturing some great performances we are also able to see Jackson’s interactions with the dancers, the musicians, and director Kenny Ortega. Also, interspersed in the film are a few interviews with the people involved with the show at the time of the rehearsals. These are easily the weakest parts of the film considering they do little more than show the dancers and musicians talking about how great Michael Jackson is, but luckily those are kept to a minimum.
This Is It never really lets us get that close to Michael Jackson, and it doesn’t really give us too much more insight in to Jackson personally, but that’s OK because what really makes this an intriguing film is being able to see Jackson truly thrive on the stage, the place I think he always felt most comfortable. His dancing is just absolutely electric, he shows no signs of illness and it’s absolutely mesmerizing to see what he was able to do with his body even at 50 years old. His singing is also pretty great, even though MJ mentions a few times in the film that he should be saving his voice and not project as much, but from most of the performances you wouldn’t be able to tell that he wasn’t giving it his all.
I also found the whole backstage aspect of the film to be pretty interesting too, as we’re able to see what went into what was going to be a very extravagant concert. Being able to see the way Jackson worked meticulously with his back-up band as well as the dancers also really gives us an idea of his attention to detail as a performer. And despite the fact that Michael Jackson remains a kind of mysterious figure throughout the film, This Is It really gives us a striking depiction of why he was so successful and why he left such an impact on pop culture.
I know they were billing this movie as playing “for two weeks only” when it was first released, but I think it’s going to be running a little longer in theaters. So if you’re a fan of Jackson’s work I would recommend getting out there and seeing This Is It, it stands as a very respectful and at the same time thrilling tribute to one of the great American entertainers of all-time.

I’ll T.C. the Review


If there’s one thing that keeps people coming back to games, it’s loot.  We’ve know that since Diablo, and we see it every day as people grind away in World of Warcraft or Monster Hunter.  But that kind of RPG gameplay has never really successfully been melded with FPS action, since percentages and skill trees tend to ruin the fun of shooting dudes.  Borderlands tries to fill that niche, and generally succeeds.

You play as one of four mercenaries on the planet Pandora searching for The Vault, which holds infinite riches aliens left behind… Or something.  Most of the game’s story is told in text on quest screens and it’s very skipable.  I got the gist of what was going on, but there were definitely some plot holes I could have filled in if I read more.  The game is very much like an MMO in that aspect, you’re free to go wherever you want and take quests from a number of NPCs who want you to kill things or gather stuff.  While maybe not the most engaging, it definitely works and is fun.

The game touts it “bazillions of guns,” which is somewhat misleading.  The guns are procedurally generated, so there technically are a vast number of possible weapons, but most of them aren’t worth more than vendoring.  That said, there definitely are more desirable guns in the game than you could ever handle, and knowing you could find your new main weapon at any moment is really addictive.  There are also shields, class and grenade mods that you can find, although the good ones are much rarer with those.  It’s a shame there isn’t armor to be collected, but the guns are enough to instill a strong case of loot lust.

Most importantly, the game plays well.  The shooting feels right, unlike a game like Fallout 3, where the dice rolls made your accuracy feel meaningless.  Borderlands works as an FPS.  You aim at a dude, you’ll probably hit him.  The guns feel pretty good too, and you’ll definitely be drawn to certain types and really get a kick out of them.  For me it was assault rifles, because I could boost the damage of those will skills as the soldier class.  That’s another thing, the skill trees really work well in that they increase your enjoyment of the game without making you feel really weak without them.

It’s kind of odd that this is only a four player game.  After all, it has most of the trappings of the modern MMO, save for much endgame content.  What it really lacks is a better looting system.  You have to pick up ammo and money, which doesn’t make sense.  What’s the advantage of not picking up money or ammo?  Just do it for me.  This is made worse by the troublesome loot windows, which often appear partly offscreen.  Also, there’s no shared looting system, first person to grab something gets it.  To trade it, you have to drop it on the ground.  So make sure you play with people you trust.

Ultimately Borderlands delivers an addictive experience that we haven’t really seen before.  Yes, it has flaws.  But that’s what patches are for.  In the mean time, you’ll definitely get more than your money’s worth from this gem.

Set Phrazes to Stun

Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

How long must we wait for a new Strokes album? One was supposedly in the works earlier this year when all of a sudden things came to a halt. One rumor was that it was because Albert Hammond Jr. went to rehab but that was never clearly verified. Hopefully it’ll be out sometime next year which is already sounding awesome with new albums from; Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, MGMT, Spoon to name a few. 2009 appears to be slowing down but at least I have this synth excursion to muse on for a little bit

Yes it’s Julian Casablanca’s debut solo album, which makes him the second member to release a solo album after Albert Hammond Jr. (I guess he just gets all the attention these days). As Julian is the primary songwriter of the gang, I can only assume that these are tracks that he believed didn’t quite fully represent the New York quartet’s garage rock chic sound.

So he throws in a whole caboodle of synths and beat machines here and there but with that same ol’ crooner voice and robotic arrangements, this sounds more like a a collection of Strokes b-sides than anything else. There’s definitely some standout tracks such as the leadoff single “11th Dimension” with it’s infectious keyboard riff but there’s a handful of tracks that just fall flat. Jules’ melodies just don’t seem to go anywhere, so many of them have the most predictable chord progressions, like he’s just making it up as he goes along.

But I don’t want to sell this album short. Sure I have my problems with but it’s got it’s moments. The production by Jason Ladder with some help from Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes is just excellent. The sounds produced on this album are a real blast to the past. Guitars that sound like A Flock of Seagulls mixed with punchy 80s beats and synths that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Megaman game. It’s a real trip to try and pick out every single instrument and it’s complexity makes it an album worth returning to. You know the more I listen to it the more I warm up to it, maybe over time I’ll have a better appreciation but for now it’s just a fun little distraction.

Favorite Tracks: “11th Dimension”, “Glass”, “Left & Right in the Dark”

The Backwards Man

Hey gang, well I have to wake up excruciatingly early tomorrow but before I hit the hay, how about I post a link to a video project I did for school? For our first video in my video foundations class (thus far we’ve only done photography) we were supposed to do a video that we believe captures the spirit of silent filmmaker George Melies. Mainly were supposed to concentrate on his use of pioneering visual effects. So I decided to use a bunch of reverse effects due to the fact that it’s visually intriguing and humorous. I think my video kind of strayed from being anything similar to a Melies short but it’s good enough and it’s only about a million times better than anyone else’s video. I don’t want to be a jerk but that’s just the truth.

For a year or so I’ve been telling Sean that someday I’d make a video where I eat a sandwich in reverse and I guess this it. So here’s a link to my video “The Backwards Man.”

Sean’s Top Tens of 2006

I didn’t forget!  I just… you know, wanted to put it off until after Shocktober.  And then I wasn’t going to do it while I was busy with classes.  Anyway, this is the last of these, as I don’t want to revisit 2007 once again and what’s the point of doing 2008 again?  So enjoy the final part of my monthly retrospectives and start getting ready to work on your top tens of the decade, you know I am.

Top 10 Films of 2006

10. Bubble
An interesting little experiment by Steven Soderbergh about a tiny community of and a terrible incident.  It’s bleak and enigmatic and short and really good.  Bubble will get you thinking, that’s for sure.

9. Pan’s Labyrinth
I totally get why this is a good movie and a lot of critics latched onto it.  But it’s so dark and unexpectedly violent that I probably will not ever watch it again.  Drop it in the “one time is enough” can, along with A.I.

8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
OK, hear me out on this one.  Yes, Babel was a powerful film, but it had its flaws.  V for Vendetta was kind of interesting, but also kind of boring.  The Queen is for old people.  For Your Consideration kind of missed the mark, and then kind of was a little too on the mark.  The Pursuit of Happyness was sweet, but a little manipulative.  There, have I answered for all the potential movies that could have taken this spot?  No, I did not see The Last King of Scotland, United 93, Volver, The Science of Sleep or that other movie you’re thinking about.

7. Stranger Than Fiction
I wish Will Ferell did more movies like this.  He actually has to act, and he’s alright.  So are his A-list co-stars.  A fun little story with a nice soundtrack.  John knows what I’m talking about.

6. Thank You for Smoking
It’s rare to see a film so intelligently written and funny.  But I guess we should have expected that from the son of the director of Stripes and Ghost Busters.  Then again, he’s also the son of the guy who directed Junior and My Super Ex-Girlfriend…  Good going Jason.  Liked Juno and am looking forward to Up in the Air too.

5. Letters from Iwo Jima
Never got around to seeing this film’s companion, Flags of Our Fathers, and I never really worried about that either.  Eastwood is in top form with this unique look at the Japanese side of the bloodiest battle of the Pacific Theatre.

4. Half Nelson
You know, I don’t get why this movie is called “Half Nelson.”  It’s all about dianetics, sure, and that is really explicitly drilled into the viewer.  An inner-city inspiration teacher with a drug problem.  How real, how yin and yang, how “grey.”  Where does the wrestling come into the equation?

3. Brick
Ah yes, the grand high school film noir.  JGL is great, as is the dialogue throughout the movie.  This movie didn’t get around as much as it deserved, if you haven’t checked it out, please do so soon.  You’ll enjoy it.

2. Children of Men
I’m predisposed to like most sci fi, but Children of Men is remarkably good no matter what genre you assign it to.  On a pure cinematographic level, it’s quite a feast.  Remember all the long shots?  Those were so cool.  I wish there was more Chiwetel Ejiofor.

1. The Departed
Of course this is my number one.  Scorsese returns to crime drama and scores his belated best picture and director Oscars.  That’s no accident, this is a damn fine movie.  From the crazy tense scenes between DiCaprio and Damon to the hilarious ones with Wahlberg and Baldwin, this is just something that you can’t help but enjoy.  And, yes, Jack Nicholson is terrific.

Top 10 Albums of 2006

10. Kasabian – Empire
Honestly I could have gone either way between this and Keane’s Under the Iron Sea, but I find Kasabian less embarrassing to listen to in public.  I mean, you can’t really be blastin’ “A Bad Dream” with your windows down, know can you.  But “Shoot the Runner”?  You go boy.

9. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
Not as refined as the masterpiece Dear Science, TV on the Radio are nonetheless in tip top shape for these delightful 11 tracks.  “Wolf Like Me” is seriously one of my favorite songs ever.

8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones
It turns out I really like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  I knew I liked “Maps,” but this I’ve been on-and-off listening to their catalog for a few years now and I keep coming back for more.  At this point I doubt they’ll ever leave my iPod.

7. Phoenix – It’s Never Been Like That
Just a few months ago Colin turned me onto an amazing album called Wolfgang Amadeus Pheonix.  Then this summer he told me to check out its predecessor, claiming it was even better.  I don’t think it is, but it’s still quite good.  I like these Frenchmen.

6. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
This was some hot shit back in ’06.  Hell, it’s still pretty warm, even after all this time.  “Steady as She Goes” is probably the song I associate most with the year.

5. The Flaming Lips – At War with the Mystics
Why didn’t I like Embryonic more?  I liked this a lot.  What’s my problem?  Maybe it’s the lack of drugs and booze in my body.  Who knows?  Anyway, this is pretty good.

4. Band of Horses – Everything All the Time
It’s kind of like My Morning Jacket meets Death Cab for Cutie… Oh wait that exists as Monsters of Folk and is even better than Band of Horses.  But these guys are good too.  You guys don’t listen to my music recommendations anyway, but this is one of the most accessible of them.

3. Beck – The Information
I seriously enjoy each Beck release more than the last.  Well, that’s probably not true, but The Information is some tight shit.  That expression sounds really unpleasant.  Unlike this album.

2. Muse – Black Holes and Revelations
By a significant margin my favorite Muse album.  It’s just awesome.  The best part, as we all know, is the outstanding “Knights of Cydonia” music video.

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
OK, I know a lot of people totally hate that RHCP had pretty much been continuing on the Californication sound.  But you know what?  That’s a really good sound.  As a double album, there’s always a pretty high chance a lot of the tracks would be duds.  But they aren’t.  If only “Snow” was easier in Rock Band.

Top 10 Video Games of 2006 

10. Excite Truck
I really had no idea what game to put here.  I could have easily gone with Brain Age, since, you know, it got people excited about math, which is pretty cool.  Okami was pretty neat, but I barely played it for some reason.  It’s been sitting in my collection for years now.  So I’m going with Excite Truck, and why the hell not.  It’s simple fun.

9. Chromehounds
Um, build giant robots and fight.  How could I not like this game?

8. Elite Beat Agents
While the song selection is a lot lamer than its Japanese counterpart, for some reason I feel it would be shady to put Japanese games on these lists.  Like, then I’d have to do foreign movies too, and change when movies came out to their original countries instead of the U.S… It all gets too messy.  So this one’s here instead.

7. New Super Mario Bros.
“A new sidescrolling Super Mario Bros. game would be a good idea,” we said for years.  Nintendo agreed.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Oh Zelda, when did you get less fun?  The magic just wasn’t there for the series foray into the Wii.  It’s still fun, but with a distinct “been there, done that” feel.  Maybe next time.

5. Guitar Hero II
They finally really did it.  You maniacs!  You added bass in!  Ah, damn you!  God damn you all to Hell!

4. Dead Rising
Turns out this is pretty much Dawn of the Dead the game.  Also the first real next gen gaming experience for the 360.  So that’s good.

3. Half-Life 2: Episode One
The only game on this list to only last a few hours.  But those are some fine hours.  Fine hours indeed.

2. Wii Sports
This was astounding back in the day before we figured out how disappointing Wii technology and Wii games in general would turn out to be.  Oh well.

1. Gears of War
Pretty much the game that sold me on the Xbox 360.  It looked so good and played so well.  Nothing like giant dudes cutting up aliens with chainsaw bayonets.