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My Mavericks have started out the season with 2 wins and 0 losses. We're #1, at least for the moment. Finley and Nowitzki have come up big so far. Nash has been busting it funky style as well. This is a damn good team. Go Mavs! Oh, Michael Jordan is back and scoring 31 points per game. And how about those miracle Yankees? Wow!

What's up with this? Mini-meatball Prego spaghetti sauce, Cherry Cheesecake Yoplait Yogurt, Sausage Red Baron Pizza, and Lipton Chicken & Broccoli noodle mix... all these are my favorite varieties, and all four have ceased to be available in the store! Why?? Why my stuff? The other varieties of Prego spaghetti sauce, Yoplait yogurt, RB microwave pizza, and Lipton noodles are plentiful. Grrr...

If you want a heavy-handed diary post, read my abortion rant.

Trivia show is on!! Wahaw! I've now been listening to Charles Moses Jones for over 5 years.

Bugatti has a new car coming out called the Veyron. Costs about $800,000. 8 liter W-16 engine (16 cylinder), 80 valves, 4 turbochargers, all-wheel drive, over 1000 horsepower, 7 speed Formula One-style electronic paddle shifting, unbelievable electronics. Pictures here and here. Top Speed is 252 mph, and it goes 0 to 186.5 (300 kp/h) in only 13.8 seconds! That is astonishingly quick for a production road car. It would take a very fast racecar or racebike or a turbocharged superbike to beat that.

Alright, I have a list of music I need to pick up or order. Amazon has a new service (kind of like ebay) to let users buy and sell used CDs to each other using credit cards. Anyway, my list goes something like: the last Loud Family, the Autumns latest, Sheila Divine's second, Daisies from the Eels, one of the Built to Spill albums I missed, XIV from Home, the latest GBV, Wilco's Summerteeth, a few things by They Might Be Giants (including 'Then' if I can find it cheap), a couple by Three Mile Pilot (now that 'Songs From an Old Town We Once Knew' has been pared down to a single CD and rereleased), Pulp's 'This is Hardcore', 'Retrospective' from the Red House Painters, something from a local band called Pleasant Grove, Unbelievable Truth, Muse, Catatonia, Luna, Wheat, some Elvis, Sloan's 'Between the Bridges', the previous Self record, the last Madder Rose, maybe the two Radiohead works that I've ignored, another local band called Sparklehorse, the last Zumpano album, and, well, several others.

The Autumns' album is one I actually have on MP3 but I HAVE to have the CD. How about that? Mathematically precise dream pop with upfront vocals, clean, simple guitars, and a startling collection of melodies. It's the closest thing to a rock interpretation of the Secret of Mana soundtrack. The first Sheila Divine album is so poignant and mature while simultaneously being an amazingly stout rock album. When I listen to it, it brings me right back to cruising the backroads in my RX-7 in the Summer of 2000. I'm hoping the new one will continue where 'Automatic Buffalo' left off. I've heard good things about 'Attractive Nuisance' (Loud Family). Their last, 'Days for Days', had some excellent songs, but was uneven in places. The new one is supposed to be a return to the spectacular form cast by 'Plants' and 'Interbabe Concern'. Zumpano created possibly the best pop album of the '90s, and I'd love to pick it up.

Anyway, I'll be looking for those sometime in the next year. Now as for the Sloan album, 'Pretty Together', here is my song by song review.A '1' is a crap song, a '2' is not offensive, but just 'blah', a '3' is pretty good stuff, a '4' is a standout tune, and a '5' is an all-time great song.

1. If It Feels Good Do It -- somebody set out to write the opening track (Patrick). Vintage Sloan 'mock-rock'. Guitars are strong but tasteful. 3
2. In the Movies -- an Andrew song. Check out that intro and vocal delay. This is a strong song with nice dynamics and a great rhythm. The production is slick and clean and the tune(s) may be derivative of 'the '70s', but the image I get from listening is 'right now' with full awareness of the century in which it is being presented. 4
3. The Other Man -- Chris' first song. I don't know about the subject matter here. Chris seems sort of an asshole. Not one of the best songs, but not terrible (see later on). 3
4. Dreaming of You -- Jay comes through once again. I've definitely found myself reciting this tune in my head over the past couple weeks. Love the smashingly clear and bright vocals!! Damn good song. 4
5. Pick It Up and Dial It -- This is truly unfortunate. This song is total crap, from the incredilame lyrics to the vocals to the lack of melody to the annoying production. Geez, what was Chris thinking? This is filler that should have been the 'second' b-side on a single. Skip at all costs, because it will not grow on you. 1
6. The Great Wall -- Andrew arrives to try and rescue the album after its crash-landing. The line leading to the chorus and the sing-along chorus itself is worth listening to. Not bad. 3
7. The Life of a Working Girl -- Something different from Chris. It's a little too clever, but pleasant. The song is a lamenting portrait of a woman [happily] married to her career done on a finger-picked guitar. 3
8. Never Seeing the Ground For the Sky -- Woah. Giant guitar by Andrew. This doesn't suck as bad as #5 by any means, but it's not like you'll be humming this tune while getting ready for work. Don't skip it--if you're listening to the whole album straight through as I often do, it has its 'place' in the collage, but it's not a good tune by itself. 2
9. It's in Your Eyes -- Patrick again. This is probably the album's underdog. The chorus does get a little much at the end and the song goes on a tad too long, but this is a darn good tune. 4
10. Who You Talkin' To? -- Jay brings a 'sweet pop confection' to the table again. Halfway through Chris (right?) barges in with a soaring bridge vocal that smacks you in the head. Marvelous pop tune. It gets in, it rots your teeth, and it gets out. There are strings, a tambourine, and great harmonies used with restraint. 4
11. I Love a Long Goodbye -- By far Chris' best song on this album. You know, about a week ago I had this tune stuck in my head and it was killing me trying to remember where it was from. Looked through my MP3 collection, glanced at a bunch of CDs trying to jog my memory. Couldn't figure it out. So I put on the Sloan album and when #11 rolled along, I was surprised to hear the tune I had been searching for. Love Chris' 'low' voice. I'm sorry, that chorus just kicks ass. If I ever see Sloan, I'll be dissappointed if I don't hear this one from the boys. 4
12. Are You Giving Me Back My Love? -- The most 'obvious' song on the record. Lots of synth strings. Wonder who Johnny and Noelle are. This doesn't sound like a Sloan song. But is that a bad thing? What I hear are three gorgeous sections tied together with Jay's delicate, androgynous vocals into a sweet 3 minute ballad that makes no apologies for being earnest, catchy, and fragile. 4
13. Your Dreams Have Come True -- somebody set out to write the closing track (Patrick). As a closing track it's perfect. You can almost see the closing credits scrolling up the screen. What a good-natured optimistic way to end the album! I love the way it fits in with what the rest of the record does. 4

So as you can see there are no 'all-time great songs' here, but I have to give the album itself, as a whole package, assuming that #5 was a last-minute computer error or something and disregarding it, a 4. Several tunes have lodged themselves in my brain. I love the feeling of putting on an album in which every song is something to look forward to and just being wisked away to its world of melodies and sentiment and glorious sounds. Pretty Together does that for me, more so than even 'One Chord to Another' (but not so strongly as 'Twice Removed'). The packaging is good, printed lyrics are more often than not quite appreciated, and the production is great.

Speedvision/FoxSports has sent out an email to everyone assuring us that they will still cover all the race series they're known for, including:

Formula One
CART
IRL coverage
Le Mans series
ALMS
MotoGP
GP250/125
AMA Superbike
World Superbike
AMA Formula Xtreme
AMA 600 Supersport
Speedvision World Challenge
NASCAR regional series events
Trans-Am
Motorola Cup
Grand-Am
World Rally
Hooters Pro Cup
Touring Car
SCCA events
limited drag racing events
weekly motorsports news programs and features

That sounds good and everything, but they've said similar things before and seemed to go back on their word, so no one really believes this latest bit.

Okay, I also bought an EGM magazine and have been browsing IGN and Gamespot for screens, reviews, and movies. Got a movie for that Kinetica on PS2 I mentioned earlier which looks excellent. Got one of Extreme G racing also, very nice. It's odd to see Sonic games coming out on the new Nintendo machine. I don't know that I'm going to be buying any game system any time soon. A couple years ago I came close to buying an N64 with Donkey Kong Country 64 (I liked Banjo-Kazooie alot when I played it at my brother's). I know I'm missing out on a fantastic new world of gameplay. But can they really compare to the online UT community? Doubtful. Even if I wanted to buy a console, all I have is an ugly little RCA TV made in the '80s. I mean, the X-Box does progressive-scanning in very high resolution with six audio channels of output, so it would be like going to the movie theater to watch a movie on a 27 inch TV. Or fitting your new Ferrari with all-season minivan tires. I'd think a 20 inch WEGA with S-Video and my current two-speaker stereo with subwoofer would be just about the minimum. A better system would be a progressive-scan 32 inch with composite inputs and a 5+1 surround system.

But anyway, about the games. There's finally a new Metroid (actually a couple if you count the GBC and GBA versions). There's a new Panzer Dragoon for the X. There's the above mentioned Kinetica along with MotoGP, GT3, and some other amazing-looking racing games. There's Unreal Championship for the X. There's a new Dead or Alive which is frighteningly beautiful. All 3 systems (more if ya count PC and the handhelds) are getting drop-dead gorgeous games, no doubt. I could go on and on.

It's sad I don't even know which system I would choose. X-Box seems to have the power and great potential. Nintendo has... Nintendo software. PS2 improves old PS1 games and has a larger library of PS2 software than the other systems. PC... heh. Price comes into play there, but even if the consoles go fully online with broadband capability at some point, Unreal2 and the vast community that will be supporting it will require a powerful PC. I plan to develop a winning U2 clan at some point. The PC has other games, and a LOT of other uses, but let's face it, I'll be spending a thousand dollars or more for basically ONE game, albeit a game I may get 4000 hours of enjoyment out of. There's just no comparison at all. UT is a leviathan; console games, even long-lasting ones, are just skittish little rodents by comparison.

I really like the fact that almost any new or upcoming game you look at these days looks 'good', in that there aren't gigantic pixels, or warped textures, or perspective problems, or terrible pop-ups, or boxy figures, or fuzzy screens, or lo-res pixel-shimmers. I LOVE the look of a hi-res, high-polygon, well-textured game. Man, even Soul Calibur on DC still impresses the hell out of me! Alot of times during 32 bit, I felt the graphics just needed a little something extra, that they were detracting from the immersion. That wasn't a problem with 2D games, but 32 bit 3D wasn't quite where it needed to be. Now we're there. If they'll just remember they're still making games and not simulations of real life.

But how can I think about buying a new system when there are so many great games on Playstation and N64 I never even got around to? And can I even enjoy a single-player offline game now that the greatness of UT has spoiled me? Sure I can! Will I buy a system? Ah, I have scarce resources and unlimited wants. I don't know if I will. Other things like a motorcycle (and all the gear, repairs, etc. that goes along with that), music, a new computer, DSL, cable TV, PC games, movies, books, the news, the net, whatever take time and money and may leave me with nothing left. So much to do, so little time and money. I guess that's better than living in Afghanistan!

"I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you, I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you, how the fuck am I funny?"