2.16.2012

I've decided to give a shit

How long before a job becomes a career? Three years? Five years? Either way I've passed the mile marker. February 28 will be eight years of my being a sleep technologist and I think it's about time I give a shit about it. I don't mean that to sound like I haven't give a shit until now I just mean that until now I've been phoning it in to a degree and I think it's time that that stops.

I don't read trade papers or ongoing studies about sleep, I don't go to sleep medicine conferences (Yeah, that's a thing. Sounds exciting doesn't it?) and I don't go out of my way to find out about new methodologies and/or ways of thinking in the field. I just kind of go with the flow, altering my own methods only slightly according to what I'm told to do. I am the Bradley Cooper of sleep technologists: I do just enough to get by never anything more but I should be the Christian Bale of sleep technologists: super method and willing to scream at and belittle those I deem my lessors.

I work with at least one (but as many as three) other technologists who are worse at their jobs than I am and I'm tired of feeling like they give more of a shit about this whole thing than I do and that's not meant to make this sound like a competition, it's just a fact: there are techs in the field who have no business being in the field and I'm sick of them walking around with their bullshit credentials that make them look more legitimate than me just because I haven't felt the need to drop the coin on getting registered. (I still think the registry - ALL THREE registries - are complete shit. They're bullshit money-grabbing schemes and in reality serve no purpose outside of lining the AASM and BRPT physicians' pockets.)

Regardless of my feelings about the accrediting bodies, however, I have to face facts that their stupid, overpriced tests and their useless, pretentious post-nominal lettering are the way shit works around here and if I want to keep feeding my daughters with that sweet, sweet sleep techery coin I'll have to grab a bat and play ball. For now, at least. The minute the girls grow up and move out I'm out dis bitch.

12.03.2011

Skyrim is the last video game I will ever play

This may come as a surprise to some of you but I'm a grown-ass man: I have a job, two children and a wife, bills up to here and a household budget (that rarely gets followed to the T). Unlike some people I know (coughcough-David-coughcough) my responsibilities mean that I have little time for videogames anymore and while I knew that already, Skyrim is really hitting that point home.

As of this writing I am 30-some-odd hours into the game and am level 25 or so. Not too bad, right? The problem is that that was all achieved in the 20-60 minute bursts of gaming I could squeeze in between all the grown up shit I have to do throughout the week. Every time I sit down to play the damn thing there's a 5 minute session of "What the fuck was I doing before I stopped last time?" followed by a 2 minute session of "Remember what buttons do what." and finally I can start playing. But then I come across some dungeon/ruin/castle/cave and the bandits/zombies/monsters contained within hand me my ass on a whoop-ass flavored platter and I have to start the process all over again.

I started out, as I always do, with the game set on a harder-than-average difficulty because I like the game to require more thinking than 'smash the attack button(s) repeatedly'. (This, by the way, is why I found it difficult to give a shit about Dragon Age II, Fable III and Batman: Arkham Asylum.) Within the first 20 hours of gameplay, however, I found myself dropping the difficulty down to medium and just yesterday I seriously considered going down one more step. This would put me just a step above the "barely more than cinematics" setting. At that point I stopped playing and went to bed. I had gotten nothing accomplished i the game aside from dying several times.

I think it's time I face facts: I've gotten too old for videogames. I hate to say that because I used to state, rather emphatically, that that wasn't possible but it's becoming too obvious to deny. The gaming industry is moving in several directions I do not understand: I hate FPS games, online games and MMOs. That eliminates 75% of what gets released these days and the other 25% requires too much 'sit-and-focus' for me to muster anymore.

Fallout: New Vegas was my last great hurrah. I beat the game on hard with hardcore mode active. I got every last Xbox 360 achievement in the primary game as well as the 4 and a half DLCs. There is little chance that I will do the same with Skyrim. I definitely plan on playing it through (if for no other reason than that it is an amazing-looking game) but I am almost certain that this will be the last video game I ever play.

This isn't a 'bitching and moaning' post, by the way. I love my life and knew that I'd eventually have to grow up the rest of the way. I just wish it had happened post-Skyrim.

Ugh. Fuck you adulthood.

9.07.2011

Nostalgia (for better or worse)

I'm in love with Spotify. For a paltry $4.99 per month I can listen to whatever the hell I want without commercials. I own a shit-ton of music so this usually means I end up digging up random shit I haven't heard in ages. This also means I end up stumbling upon things I had long forgotten about. Is that a good thing? Sometimes but mostly not so much. Turns out a lot of music I love 'back in the day' is pretty terrible by my ears standards today.
So of course I made a playlist. Here's the link but I wanted to go into more detail about each song because it gives me a chance to wax nostalgic while writing. That's a win-win in my book.
1. Nirvana – Something in the Way
Quite possibly the most obvious band on this list given my age but I had to because like so many other late-twentysomethings Nirvana really was that important to my musical development. Plus, my first concert was Nirvana (and Blind Melon) in Lakeland, FL in January 1994 and the first CD I ever bought was Nevermind. (The first CDs I ever owned were ...And Justice For All, Paranoid & No More Tears but those were given to me by a friend of my old man's.)
2. Rage Against The Machine – Killing in the Name
Also terribly obvious but just as important.
3. The Ramones – I Don't Want to Grow Up
Given that I started getting into music in 1993-1994 this was my introduction to The Ramones. I later dug into the back catalog but Adios Amigos was the starting point. This track is especially important because it also lead me to Tom Waits later who remains my favorite musician.
4. Bad Religion – Better Off Dead
I found Stranger Than Fiction in a parking lot, silver side up. It was scratched to hell but I took it home and anyway and tried putting it on. None of the tracks played through without skipping but what I heard I loved so I took it to Sound Exchange and had the counter guy identify the album and I bought it. Still love it. Nine out of fifteen tracks are five-starred in iTunes.
5. Soundgarden – The Day I Tried to Live
6. Archers of Loaf – Last Word
I bought these two albums back-to-back. I initially set out to buy Vee Vee but they didn't have a copy at Sound Exchange so I settled on the older album. These two CDs were played back to back so often that I can't think about Superunknown without thinking about Icky Mettle too.
7. Stabbing Westward – Slipping Away
We all went through that shitty little adolescent depression, right? Well, Stabbing Westward's Wither Blister Burn and Peel was the soundtrack to mine.
8. Foo Fighters – Walking After You
I was am impetuous 11 year-old when Kurt Cobain died and rather than admit that he killed himself I blamed Dave Grohl and Courtney Love. As a result I refused to have anything to do with the first Foo Fighters album but when this song came out I had to admit that it was good. I also had to admit that Cobain probably had killed himself. I still don't have to like Courtney Love though...
9. White Zombie – Electric Head, Pt 2: The Ecstasy
10. Stone Temple Pilots – Dead & Bloated
11. Korn – Twist
12. Alice Cooper – Poison
In eighth grade I volunteered to help out with the morning show (mostly to get out of homeroom but partially because I actually wanted to). I asked to never be in front of the camera and instead focused on the technical stuff. I was subsequently allowed to pick the music that played prior to the actual show. I tried to start a "Guess the Song" thing and Alice Cooper's "Poison" was the first (and only) mystery song. No one guessed and the following week I was barred from picking music when a kid's parent complained about my playing White Zombie's "Electric Head Pt. 2" because of the "Up yours baby." part at the beginning.
13. Bush – Mouth
14. Silverchair – Pure Massacre
15. Rancid – Roots Radical
16. The Offspring – Bad Habit
All obvious ones. My friend Justin and I used to listen to "Bad Habit" at his house and just before the "stupid, dumbshit goddamn motherfucker" part one (or both) of us would dive across the room and turn the volume down to 0 so that his parents wouldn't hear it.
17. David Bowie – I'm Afraid of Americans
I'm sure I knew who David Bowie was before this song came out but Earthling was the first album of his that I owned and it was because of this song.
18. Nine Inch Nails – Heresy
I loved Nine Inch Nails for a long time. I still love them but at one point they were practically all I listened to.
19. The Prodigy – Funky Shit
I've never really been into techno/electronica/whatever but Fat of the Land was different. Everyone fucking owned that album. It was my generation's Frampton Comes Alive. This track will always remind me of Event Horizon (it played over the credits).
20. Pitchshifter – Genius
Similar things as above. I liked this despite the electronica-ness of the whole thing and it will forever remind me of the first Gran Turismo.
21. Clawfinger – The Biggest and the Best
22. Scissorfight – Quantrill's Raiders
23. Ultraspank – 5
24. Spineshank – Strictly Diesel
25. Dope – Die Motherfucker Die
At some point I started trying to dig up more obscure music. This was before music blogs and the only music magazines I was aware of were Rolling Stones, Hit Parader & Metal Edge. You can figure out I'm sure where I found all of these. I also would've included Stormtroopers of Death ("Free Dirty Needles") and Therapy? ("He's Not That Kind of Girl") in here but Spotify didn't have the right albums from either. [Side note: Speeding around Lake Wales in my 1989 Subaru Justy (with an amplifier and extra speakers) blasting "Die Motherfucker Die". I was an idiot.]
26. Bile – In League
27. Krztoff – Nightmare Before Krztoff
These fall into the same category as above but required elaboration. Bile was incredibly difficult to find and because of that I became strangely obsessed with finding their damn music. I special ordered the album Sex Reflex from Record Town (probably defunct now) and paid out the fucking nose for it because of the special order and because I was buying it in a mall (rookie mistake, I know). Later I read some Hit Parader blurb about the lead singer's solo album and set out with the same rabidness but kept coming up empty. Eventually I found it listed as another Bile record and bought it.
28. Slipknot – Only One
Speaking of which. Believe it or not there was a time when Slipknow were not the massive fucking thing that they are now. Once upon a time there was a little (I mean tiny) blurb in Metal Edge about a weird, masked Iowan band. It was maybe 2" by 2" and all it was was a paragraph about them banging on barrels and shit and had a picture of the clown and Corey. That was it. My friend Jason and I dug around at every possible music store until we found the only goddamn copies of this random goddamn thing. I owned the first version of the album (in a jewel case, not a digi-pak, with Frail Limb Nursery and Purity still in there). A week later they were bigger than the fucking Beatles with angsty high schoolers and Jason and I were officially music snobs because " we knew about them before they were mainstream."
29. Coal Chamber – Bradley
30. Static-X – December
31. Type O Negative – We Hate Everyone
32. Danzig – Not of This World
Yeah I'm not too proud of any of these. Static-X's Wisconsin Death Trip has held up all right but the rest of these? Yeesh.
33. Ugly Kid Joe – Everything About You
34. Beck – Loser
Who remembers 120 Minutes? Loved that shit. When I remembered to stay awake for it I'd watch with a pen and paper, writing down everything I liked. Both of these songs, both of these videos, are burnt into my brain forever as a result.
35. Ministry – Burning Inside
I still listen to Ministry on occasion. Not nearly as much as back in the day, mind you, but they're in my iTunes library and sometimes pop up on shuffle.
36. Powerman 5000 – Nobody's Real
37. Amen – Coma America
38. (hed) p.e. – Tired Of Sleep (T.O.S.)
More shit that hasn't aged well. (hed) p.e. is particularly terrible looking back.
39. American Head Charge – A Violent Reaction
40. Otep – My Confession
41. Hatebreed – Burn The Lies
I've never been much for concerts. Not because I'm a cheapskate or because I don't like live music - I love live music. I've never been one for concerts because I hate people. So logically I went to Ozzfest, right? Most of it was shit (Disturbed, Papa Roach) but there were gems on the smaller stages. I fell in love with American Head Charge and Otep in particular. When I'm feel like listening to angry metal shit I still put on The War of Art and Sevas Tra. Hatebreed, on the other hand, hasn't really held up for me but at the time I loved it. [Side note: during American Head Charge's set my friend John got knocked over in the mosh pit and I ran into my friends Chris & Chip from a previous high school (I moved a lot) that I hadn't seen in more than a year.]
42. Biohazard – Switchback
When I was in tenth grade for the second time I was living with my father and my brother, David, was living with our mother. He came over to visit and we along with my friend Carl walked from the trailer park I was living in to the Brandon Town Center (6.3 miles according to Google Maps) just for shits and giggles. On the way home we were stopped by a cop because apparently a goth (David), a metalhead with green hair (me) and a guy in wife beater (Carl) hanging out together looked a wee bit odd to him. David proceeded to stuff all of his chains in his pockets only to have the cop frisk us and call the chains a weapon. The only thing he found on me was the copy of Biohazard's New World Disorder that I got (cough, cough) at the mall. He begrudgingly let us go.
43. Snapcase – Zombie Prescription
44. Prong – Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck
45. The Presidents of the United States of America – Naked and Famous
46. Cake – Race Car Ya-Yas
47. Fun Lovin' Criminals – Scooby Snacks
48. Nada Surf – Zen Brain
49. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song
50. Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo
No specific stories attached to these, just things that occurred to me. Cake has held up, as have the Femmes but that's about it.
51. Ophelia Rising with Abominable ID – The Speed of Pain
Now this one is esoteric as fuck. I don't remember how came into possession of this tribute album but this track was just so fucking weird that I loved it. I've never heard another thing by this person/band/group but this one track has stuck with me. Re-listening to it for this playlist? Not so enamored anymore.

11.04.2010

...on gaming and griping

I'd like to think of myself as something of a futurist, a technophile when the mood strikes me but when it comes to videogames I feel like I am adrift, failing to move forward. Sure, the current drags me along and I eventually get where everyone else is going but by the time I get there the bulk of the party has moved on to the next archipelago.

Fuck it, I'm starting to lose the analogy.

I hate online gaming. Hate it. To me gaming always has been and will likely always be a solipsist activity. Maybe it goes back to my dislike of shooter games and sports games but the idea of other people being involved in my gaming does nothing for me.

See? This is what I mean. We're on, what, the fifth Halo game? And how many dozen Tom Clancy games? Still, I don't give a fuck. Eventually though I'll drift ashore on Shootthefuckerinthehead Island but by that point the gaming community will have moved on. Hell, they already have moved on to Mmorpg Island with their World of Warcrafts, Warhammer something-somethings and, in due course, Star Wars: The Old Republic which will undoubtedly test my resolve to avoid online gaming.

But the idea of getting my ass handed to me by a fucking teenager who doesn't have any responsibilities outside of achievement whoring and loot whoring doesn't appeal to me. I like my enemies computer-generated thankyouverymuch.

And the next monstrosity will be this fucking thing:

I know that at its core it's just Microsoft's version of the Wii but since my console-of-choice is the Xbox I'm going to be stuck with this bullshit coming up on Live every time I turn on my console screaming at me in bright colors to buy family-friendly bullshit like Kinectimals or Dance Dance Biggest Loser or whatever. The Wii didn't affect me because I never bought it.

(That another one: fuck dance games, Rockband, Guitar Hero & that Tony Hawk game with the fucking board you have to stand on. Fucking props? Really? What is this, a fucking Carrot Top show?)

Sure, Milo kinda looks interesting but I'm probably not going to bother with it for the same reason I gave up on Shenmue, Animal Crossing & Seaman - boredom (with the marked exception of Leonard Nimoy's voiceovering in Seaman). Fucking hell I loved the Dreamcast though.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a hypocrite. I hate Apple's business practices but own a MacBook Pro, two iPhones, an iPod and an AirPort Extreme. I hate Windows but out of laziness run Windows 7 on my desktop most of the time instead of my beloved Linux. I'm passionate about politics but rarely give enough of a shit to actually wake up and vote. The point is: I'll end up buying this retarded thing. If for no other reason than my daughters will want to play it.

What was the point of all that?

10.16.2010

Technology makes me angry...

So if I want to buy an mp3 player with more than 100GB of storage my options are the iPod Classic, an Archos or a used Zune. I hate every one of these fucking options.

The iPod Classic hasn't had a fucking hardware update in years and has become something of an afterthought for Apple. During the most recent iPod unveiling thing I don't even remember Jobs mentioning the goddamn thing much less pointing out the banal changes made since the last go-round. No storage increase, no additional colors, nothing. Why do they even fucking bother?

Archos. Fuck Archos. I annoyed my wife into letting me buy the 500GB Archos 5 and up until the little beasty was in my hands I was all but pissing my pants in anticipation. Then I got the fucker and realized it was a completely useless piece of shit. The Android OS crashed constantly and the Marketplace was, for some reason, all but crippled by the Archos-specific version on the device (I know, I know - there are hacks to get around this but how's about a fucking device that fucking works the minute I fucking get it!?). I hated the fuck out of it and sent right the fuck back to Amazon. Again: FUCK ARCHOS.

Then there's the nuclear option: a used 120GB Zune. I loved my Zune. Sure, it was shoddy hardware and I had to swap it out at Best Buy a few times but, hey, it's Microsoft - we expect these things. Then Microsoft went and fucked everything right the fuck up and discontinued the hard drive version in favor of the flash-based ZuneHD. Sure, Apple may be neglectful of it's paragon device but at least THEY STILL FUCKING MAKE IT. They dumped the smaller flash devices and the hard drive ones leaving your options as follows: a 16GB ZuneHD, a 32GB ZuneHD or a 64GB FuckYouHD. Seriously. What the fuck happened here?

I understand (not really): everyone wants their mp3 players either small enough to swallow accidentally or embedded into their phones but there are a few of us out here who still wants mp3 players that are just mp3 players and there are those of us who are not content to pare our music selections down to a paltry 16-64GB. I know it may sound like I'm nitpicking but I have, at last check, 244GB of music plus a subscription to Rhapsody & Last.fm. I LIKE MUSIC MOTHERFUCKER and occasionally I want to take a metric fuck-tonne of it with me on the road.

8.29.2010

the evil face that twists my mind and brings me to despair

'Cause in my dreams it's always there:
the evil face that twists my mind and brings me to despair.


Zwan - The Number Of The Beast
Found at skreemr.org

For too long I have chocked my Misanthropy up to my Writer's Block but I think it may go further than that. I am beginning to think that the Misanthropy was spawned of even older, darker problems and the Writer's Block is simply the most recent symptom of an as-yet undiagnosed disease.

Residing somewhere deep within my subconscious, clawing for the surface, is a darkness without name, a disconcertingly widespread yearning that I cannot pinpoint and I fear that once it has name, has shape, it will be too late to appease it.

So how then do I avoid disaster? How do I prevent this unnamed, this internal darkness, from ruining my surface world?

Some would seek to name the monster Depression and medicate it into Oblivion but that would be a fool's errand. Medication subdues the beast to be sure but what of the smaller creatures it has in it's belly? For this monster, this nameless villain, has devoured many things on its journey to the surface world. My old friend Creativity - now seemingly lost to me - is likely amongst the unfortunate as well as Motivation, Intellect & Curiosity.

So then, what happens to the belly when you slay the beast? No, I must find a way to invert the creature, force it to spill forth the contents of its innards. My friends must be saved or else I will be lost.

NOTE: The embedded version of Number of the Beast is actually performed by The Djali Zwan, not Zwan the Billy Corgan band. I don't know anything about them aside from this track. It's from the Spun soundtrack.

7.04.2010

Bloodsuckers & Lyncathropes

Am I the only one who doesn't really give a shit about vampires and/or werewolves?

Since I'm not a middle-aged housewife who likes Danielle Steele, a 45 year-old gay man or a 13 year-old girl I'm sure it'll come as absolutely no surprise to find out that I hate Twlight. Everything about it makes me fucking angry: sparkly vampires, brooding douchebags and that animated mannequin Taylor Lautner (I'm happy to say I had to look up his name).

I'm not  talking about just Twlight here. Granted, Twilight is by far the most ubiquitous example out there right now but there are hundreds of others floating around out there. Last week's Free Friday selection at Barnes & Noble: "Cry Sanctuary" is more of this pseudo-occult semi-porn bullshit.

From B&N's synopsis: "Abigail and Keith, both feral shape shifters, separately seek out the peace that Red Rock, Montana offers , but when their paths cross, souls (and teeth!) will be bared in an epic battle for survival."

Seriously!? Is that supposed to make me want to read this shit? (I'm willing to bet that given to source material Paul Hochman did the best he could at trying to make it sound non-retarded.)

Now it would be easy to lay blame at the feet of Stephanie Meyers because it's obviously her fault that this shit has had a resurgence but let's call a spade a spade: this is all Anne Rice's doing. Everything that goddamn woman wrote was pseudo-porn for repressed housewives and fat goth girls. Meyers and her cadre of like-minded, faux-occultists (I'm looking at you Laurell K. Hamilton,Chloe Neill & Alexandra Ivy) are pandering to the same crowd and raking in the cash without having to actually strain themselves into writing anything intellectually valid. (Seriously, look at this shit. Barnes & Noble has a "Paranormal & Fantastic Romance" section and it has 2,742 fucking books!)

Do you think in 200 years anyone will be dissecting the philosophical underpinnings of Edward & Bella's courtship? No. They'll be dissecting and discussing Dostoevsky, Faulkner, Gogol, Kafka & Nietzsche while absentmindedly wondering why every thought-provoking novel written between 1990 and 2010 came from the same two people: McCarthy & Wallace.