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Saturday, July 31
 
Yesterday, Beth, her cousin Dorothea, and I went up to New York City. First, we went to Manhattan, and went shopping in a few places. First we went to Opane, which had a considerably different store arrangement from the time Beth and I went there with erin a few months ago. We wondered if it might have changed ownership. After that, we went to the Sanrio store in Times Square, where Beth and Dorothea bought a few things, and I got Beth a Chococat umbrella. I took special note of the music that they played there, and it didn't seem to be anything much different from what you'd hear on the radio. I remember they played Billy Joel, Moby, and some emo-esque crap.

Our next stop was Books of Wonder, which was kind of disappointing, but I was able to pick up a copy of L. Frank Baum's Animal Fairy Tales. I hadn't read it before, so expect a mini-review, or at least a few comments, in the near future. I wanted to get a copy of Sky Island, but they only had it in hardback, and I didn't want to spring for that. I'll probably eventually want to get hardback versions of all of the Oz and Baum books I have, but I'm not in any big hurry to do so, nor can I really afford to right now.

After spending some time in a pizza parlor and a Barnes & Noble, we took the F train to Brooklyn. It turned out that the train wasn't going to make the stop we wanted (15th Street at Prospect Park), and it was pretty much impossible to hear the announcement. We probably wouldn't have found out at all if it hadn't been for other people who were going to the park. They really need to make things like that more obvious. Stupid New York subway system. I hate Metrocards, too.

Anyway, we got to Prospect Park in time to see They Might Be Giants play for Celebrate Brooklyn. Actually, to be more accurate, we only HEARD TMBG play. We were too far back to really see anything. I caught a few glimpses of opener Corn Mo, and didn't see TMBG at all. They could have had a tape player that made appropriate pauses for applause, and I wouldn't have known the difference. The show itself was good, though. Corn Mo played most of the same stuff he did last time we saw him, but he had a guitar player and drummer on a few songs, and he didn't talk as much. He did his cover of "We Are The Champions," but didn't include his long, curse-filled rant about how he followed his dreams. He said something about not wanting to swear because of all the children there, so maybe he just played it safe by not talking much at all. I wouldn't say Corn Mo is a great musician or anything, but his enthusiasm and the fact that he can always get a reaction out of the audience make him hard to dislike. He might be my third favorite of the TMBG openers I've seen, after Muckafurgason and the Moldy Peaches. I guess that puts him above the Gravel Pit, Mike Doughty, Afroman (not that he didn't get a reaction out of the audience as well), and Spiraling.

Here's what TMBG played, with my own comments wherever relevant:

Celebrate Brooklyn--They've been doing unique opening songs for most of the venues they've played on the current tour. I think they should make these available somehow (in a way other than making you buy and download every single concert, that is).
Particle Man--John Linnell sang the last verse in some fake Eastern European style accent.
Spine
Memo To Human Resources
Experimental Film
Twisting
Bastard Wants To Hit Me
Stalk Of Wheat
John Lee Supertaster--With the spoken word introduction
Doctor Worm
Meet James Ensor
Fingertips--While this is still pretty cool, I kind of think they should stop playing it at every single show. Or at least cut out a few of the Fingertips so it won't be that long. I mean, the Fingertips are all supposed to work individually, right?
It's Kickin' In--I was glad to hear this one, as it's one of my favorite Spine tracks.
Clap Your Hands
I Palindrome I--The first time I'd heard this live
Wearing A Raincoat
Older--Okay, this was really cool when I first heard it, seven years ago. It doesn't hold up that well, though, yet they insist on playing it at pretty much every show. At least they make an effort to keep "Particle Man" interesting. This is the same every time (aside from the occasional lengthened intro and long pauses, which only serve to make the song even MORE tedious), and it's boring every time.
Damn Good Times--My favorite John Flansburgh song on The Spine, and the first time I'd heard it live. It included the ending guitar solo from Dan Miller.
James K. Polk--They said something in the intro to this song comparing Polk to George W. Bush, mentioning that they both started unprovoked wars. I'm sorry I couldn't hear it better. The song itself is getting a little old, though.
The Guitar
Birdhouse In Your Soul--I thought it was kind of odd that they waited until so late in the show to play this. It was the last song before the encores.
Robot Parade
Violin--I know other fans have complained about it, but I still like The Wave, including Flansburgh's overly long explanation. Give me a few more times and I'll probably be bored of it along with everybody else, though. TMBG has a knack for keeping gimmicks in the show past their prime.
The End Of The Tour--I'm glad I was able to hear this. I was hoping for "Stomp Box" as well, but you can't have it all.
New York City--They played the "you wrote me a letter" verse before the "we met in the springtime" one. Not to sound mean, but I was actually hoping they would cut the song short, as I'm getting kind of tired of it. TMBG seems to be unable to play shortened versions of songs, though. It's either all or nothing. While I don't really want to make one of those annoying "TMBG should be more like Band X!" statements that show up on the TMBG forums from time to time, Weird Al always does a medley of songs he doesn't want to play in their entirety, and Beth told me that Blur did much the same thing. I kind of wish TMBG would look into doing that, as it would be a good way for the songs they feel they have to play every time not to be quite as tedious, as well as to fit in more songs. I sometimes think TMBG is heading in the direction of playing as few songs as possible, while drawing out each one to a ridiculous length. Maybe someday a TMBG concert will consist of one song, with a thirty-minute solo from each member of the band. Which brings us to the final song of the night:
Istanbul--Miller's acoustic guitar intro seemed to be as long as the whole rest of the concert. Interesting that the final encore was made up of two songs that I kind of wish they'd give a rest. Not that I really mind "Istanbul" in and of itself. It's a fun song. But come on! It should be a quick novelty number, not a huge production.

This review probably sounded overly negative. I really didn't intend for it to come off that way. They did nine songs I hadn't heard live before, including some of my favorite new material. The Johns were in good form, in both the music and the between-songs banter. And, while I wouldn't mind not hearing "Particle Man" or "James K. Polk" at another concert, at least they're short, and as long as some people still enjoy them (and I'm sure they do), that's cool. It's mostly the unnecessarily expanded songs that bug me. That and the fact that I couldn't see, but that's hardly TMBG's fault, and is to be expected at a free show, unless you show up hours ahead of time. I understand that TMBG is supposed to be playing in Philadelphia in October, and I'm sure they'll play a lot of the same songs there, so I'll be able to SEE the band perform Spine songs, as well as hearing them.

After leaving New York, we ate at the Phily Diner in Runnemede. I wouldn't recommend that anyone else do so. Not only was the food not that good, but we were seated at a table next to a large group of possibly the loudest, most obnoxious kids (and I use the term "kids" loosely, since I think at least some of them were around 23) we've ever had the misfortune to encounter. The waitress moved us to another table, but even that didn't help that much. True, those kids aren't the diner's fault, although I kind of think that, if I had been the manager there, I would have had them warned and, if they didn't quiet down after that, thrown out. Sure, a lot of people means a lot of money (assuming they all bought something, and I'm not even sure that they did), but I think the amount of noise they were making could have constituted a disturbance of the peace.


Thursday, July 29
 
I just got back from the post office. There were only two people working at the counter, and I was stuck behind people mailing what must have been 10,000 items each. (That's what we call hyperbole. The actual truth was only about 5000.)

I'm wondering if I should reinstall The Sims on my computer. I've kind of had an urge to play it as of late, but maybe without all of the expansion packs, or my previously established Sims. Maybe just the game and the first expansion pack, although I'd probably also want Unleashed, so I could have pets. Some of the ones before that, like House Party and Vacation aren't really that great, so I guess I could skip them. If I ever get a new computer, I'm going to go ahead and install all of the expansion packs.

I keep thinking of things I'll have to do if I ever get another computer, but that's something I'm probably not going to do for some time. Like, when this piece of crap computer stops working entirely, THEN I'll get a new one. I'll probably have to go ahead and get a new mouse before that, though. Maybe I should try an optical one, like Beth has. Then I can save it for future computers.

This was a really boring entry, wasn't it?


Wednesday, July 28
 
My original thought was to do a humorous rant about phrases that are overused in music reviews and on band discussion forums. I figured an all-out rant might come across as stupid and not very funny, though, so here's a not-so-funny semi-rant about the subject.

So, without further ado, the Annoyingly Overused Phrases:

"You'll either love them or hate them."

Why is it that, when I hear this phrase used to describe a band or whatever, I often end up finding them to be average?

"This is too smart for you."

It's no secret that I listen to a lot of nerdy music, and I think a lot of fans of music like that will often propose that the reason it's not insanely popular is that it's just too darned smart for the unwashed masses. I agree to an extent, BUT I think the use of the word "smart" comes off as somewhat mean and elitist. I recently called someone on this on a Camper Van Beethoven discussion list, and said that perhaps a better word to use would be "intellectual." No one replied to my post, so I don't know whether anyone agreed with me. My general take, however, is that bands like CVB and They Might Be Giants aren't necessarily more intelligent than mainstream bands (I could get into the whole "definition of intelligence" thing here, but I think I'll save that for another day, if ever), but they're probably more likely to make songs that you have to think about before "getting" them. In summary, I guess I agree with the concept, but not with the word choice.

"This is music for [insert type of person here]."

You know, something like "Dave Matthews is music for lame white kids who wear Abercrombie & Fitch and Birkenstocks," or "Ani DiFranco is music for angry lesbians," or "TMBG is music for nerds" (okay, I guess I fit that last one {g}). This stereotyping is something I'll do myself from time to time, but I'm never entirely serious about it. There's usually some degree of truth to stereotypes, and they can be used for comic effect. To take a stereotype too seriously never really works, though. With any band, I'm sure you can find plenty of fans who DON'T fit the stereotypes. Of course, the young people who actually DO define themselves by their favorite genre of music (punk, emo, gangsta, etc.) don't help matters here. Lousy young people, with their foul mouths and baggy pants and backwards baseball caps! Back in my day...Wait, where was I?

"They're ahead of their time."

I've seen so many bands said to be unappreciated by the general public because they're so far ahead of their time. Hey, maybe it's true. It seems to be desperately overused, though.

"This is honest music."

Is this really something that matters? Some songs are based on reality, while others are just made up. I hardly think whether or not a song is true has any real effect on how good it is. As I think I've mentioned before, though, I think a lot of music critics associate honesty, emotion, and artistic merit, even when it's not really appropriate. A song can be emotionally powerful without being true, and a song can be good without being either of those things.

"Support the band!"

Something I see show up quite often on TMBG discussion groups, especially. I'm certainly not saying that you SHOULDN'T support bands you like, by, say, actually paying money for their albums whenever possible. The thing that annoys me is when people say you should buy releases you don't really want, because it supports the band. I mean, you can go ahead and do that if you want to, but I have to question the motivation. A band is not a charity. If you're that desperate to give them your money, why not just send a check to their management or something?


Tuesday, July 27
 
Yesterday, I got my first flat tire. I hit a street grate, and the tire was horribly and visibly deflated. Fortunately, Beth's uncle Harry put the spare on for me, and I was able to drive to a place to get a replacement tire. I hope that never happens again. Now I'm kind of scared that everything will puncture my tires.

Speaking of Harry, he got a new puppy! He (the puppy) is a red dachshund. He's cute, but kind of aloof.

In the afternoon, Beth, her Uncle John, and I went out to King of Prussia Mall. We did some shopping, and ate at Bennigan's. I bought a little discounted book on world mythology at B. Dalton. I want some more of the Nintendo shirts from Hot Topic, but I didn't buy any. Those shirts are probably the best way to lure in new customers that Hot Topic has ever come up with.

Was having Radiohead playing on the stereo at the Sanrio store supposed to be ironic or humorously incongruous? It was probably just that someone working there liked them, but it made for somewhat of an amusing contrast.

Anyway, after shopping and eating, we saw Spider-Man 2 on IMAX. I'd seen IMAX films before, but just science-museum-type stuff about beavers and penguins and such. It was cool to see a big Hollywood blockbuster using that technology. Not that I think most of the crap that comes out of Hollywood would work on IMAX, but Spider-Man 2 worked quite well.

Last night, I had some weird dreams. I can't remember most of them, but I do know there was one where the country radio station played a cover of They Might Be Giants' "Kiss Me, Son Of God." In my waking life, I think a country arrangement of that song would probably work, but most of the mainstream country singers they play on the radio would probably be too conservative to cover a song with such a potentially controversial title.


Sunday, July 25
 
Last night, I made some spaghetti. That was pretty tasty, but it must have influenced my weird and disgusting dream where I was trying to put spaghetti in a bowl, but it kept falling all over the place. It was annoying and gross. I also had a dream where I was working at some library (not that weird in and of itself, but there's more), which I think was in some vacation town where I was staying with my dad. I didn't know I was supposed to work that day, and I showed up at the library in a T-shirt. I think I had also put in an order for a Pizza Hut pizza. Anyway, I went back home to change my shirt, and then it seemed I had to use a boat to get back to the library. Weird. I guess there was some kind of Italian food (or Americanized Italian food, anyway) theme to my dreams.

I'm not sure whether Beth and I should go to the They Might Be Giants show at Seaside Park on Thursday. It's farther away than I thought it was, and we're already going to Brooklyn the next day, so that's a lot of driving. Besides, we don't have tickets yet, and while we can probably get them at the door, I don't want to drive all the way there and discover that they're sold out.


Saturday, July 24
 
As I'm sure most of you are aware, I've never had very many friends. This isn't something I'm concerned about all that often, but I think about it occasionally. I'm not usually lonely, but it might be nice to have more people I can talk to. I have to wonder how much of it is my fault. I'm shy and antisocial, perhaps by nature, and I've rarely made any effort to make friends with someone. I hung around with people in college, but I didn't really make what I would consider to be lasting friendships. Perhaps if I had been more assertive in talking to people, rather than waiting for them to come to me, I would have had more luck in that area. I don't know.

I suppose part of the issue comes down to semantics. If you only see someone on special occasions, and they're friendly at that occasions, but you don't speak to each other the rest of the time, is that person your friend? I'd probably say they're an acquaintance, but others might disagree. I kind of think that, to be a friend, you have to be comfortable talking to that person at pretty much any time (barring special circumstances), and vice versa. Since I'm generally uncomfortable approaching people, and no one ever seems to approach me, it's hard for someone to fit that definition.

On a related note, I get somewhat annoyed with people who use "my friends" as a single entity, and are always saying things like, "My friends and I did so-and-so. I love my friends!" And I don't think this is jealousy so much as: 1) it's self-evident that you're going to like your friends, and 2) if they're really so cool, wouldn't it make more sense to call them by their individual names, rather than the collective "my friends"? I guess this kind of goes along with my distaste for people having "groups of friends." That's probably more of a young people's thing, though. I don't know that very many people my age see their friends as a group. Well, okay, I guess social clubs are just that, but I don't personally know any people who belong to the Moose Lodge or whatever. I detest cliquishness, and I'm in favor of individuality, so I suppose it makes sense that I don't see grouping people together as a good thing. Besides, that kind of thing often leads to the members of the group liking everyone the group likes, and not liking anyone they dislike. At least that's the impression I get. It's not something with which I've had much actual experience.


Friday, July 23
 
I have now finished reading Greg Hunters' Two Terrific Tales of Oz. The two tales mentioned in the title are "Betsy Bobbin of Oz" and "Unc Nunkie and the White King of Oz."

"Betsy Bobbin" provides such back story for the title character, whose past remains largely mysterious in the Oz books. We know she's from Oklahoma, but not much else about her. This story explains what happened to her parents, and introduces them as characters. They aren't really that developed, but maybe the author was planning on doing more with them later. They do make a minor appearance in Hunter's full-length Oz book, The Enchanted Gnome of Oz.

"Unc Nunkie" is the better of the two stories. It takes place shortly before the events of Ojo in Oz, and expands upon Unc's visit to the King of the White Mountains, which is mentioned near the beginning of Ojo. Oddly enough, the White Mountains in this story aren't located in the same place as those shown on the map that James E. Haff and Dick Martin made for the International Wizard of Oz Club. I wonder if Hunter was familiar with the map when he wrote the story. It's certainly possible that there's more than one range of White Mountains in the vicinity of Oz. Anyway, Unc Nunkie himself is written well, and it's nice to see significant roles for Dr. Pipt and the live phonograph Victor Columbia Edison. I have some ideas for a part Victor will play in one of my own upcoming Oz stories, but then, I always have plans for Oz stories that I never actually carry out. Don't plan on seeing this proposed story anytime soon. I haven't even worked on my almost-finished manuscript in a long time.

It's interesting that Hunter puts an accent on the last letter of the sorceress Gayelette's name. Lurline, the Fairy Queen who enchanted Oz, is called "Lurliné" in several books published by Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends and its predecessor, Buckethead Enterprises of Oz. And speaking of Buckethead, I don't think The Rubber Ostriches of Oz, the new Oz book promised in a footnote in "Unc Nunkie," has ever come to pass.

I'll try to come up with an entry that's actually interesting tomorrow. Okay, "interesting" might be stretching it, but at least it probably won't be about Oz.


Thursday, July 22
 
Last night, Beth and I went out bowling. We hadn't done this in some time, and it was our first time going with just the two of us. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to work the electronic scoreboard, in terms of putting in our names and such. A guy who worked there had to help me. There also seemed to be something wrong with its settings, because it kept saying we had gotten one point when we hadn't hit any pins at all. The bowling alley guy said that just happened sometimes in those particular lanes. I also accidentally erased a frame when Beth got a spare, because the lane wouldn't reset itself, and I didn't know what else to do. So I guess the moral is to always take someone who knows how to work the scoring machine when you go bowling. Other than that, though, it was fun. Afterwards, Beth played Gimme a Break in the arcade, and then we went to Denny's for an appetizer and dessert. I don't recommend Denny's carrot cake, by the way. It's not bad, but I've had MUCH better.

Today, I bought a used copy of Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes for $5. I guess I didn't really need it, since Beth owns a copy, but $5 isn't a bad price, and it was the only one of her albums I didn't have yet (aside from Y Kant Tori Read and Strange Little Girls, which don't really count as much, at least to my mind).


Wednesday, July 21
 
Okay, I guess there aren't any more new They Might Be Giants CDs to review. If they released something every day, it would make it a lot easier for me to come up with stuff to write about. {g} There really aren't any other albums that I'm looking forward to until Camper Van Beethoven puts theirs out in September or so. That'll be a pretty big event, since it'll be their first truly new album in fifteen years or so. Not that I was a fan fifteen years ago, but I got into them thinking that they were no longer a going concern, so it's cool that they're back together again and all that.

I switched with someone else at work, so I worked Monday, and I'm off today. I don't know what I'll be doing all day today, though. Probably nothing. Or maybe Beth and I will finally go bowling, like we had planned to do last week.

Last night, I went out with Beth and her cousins Dorothea and Alyssa to Friday's. That was pretty tasty.


Tuesday, July 20
 
Okay, as I promised, here's my review of the new They Might Be Giants EP. Before I get into the review proper, is it appropriate to put EP titles in italics (The Spine Surfs Alone) or quotation marks ("The Spine Surfs Alone")? Or is there no real rule? I guess it's not that important, is it?

The Spine Surfs Alone: This is pretty cool. Not one of the band's best songs or anything, but it's a good fast-paced rock song.

Now Is Strange: I like the lyrics to this one. Well, the ones I've been able to work out, anyway. Good overall sound, too. I don't really have that much else to say about it, though.

I'm All You Can Think About: The best song on the EP. It's traditional TMBG in a way, with a sound that's kind of creepy, but with a heavy dose of humor. Lyrically, it sounds like it could be the other point of view on "Spy." Sonically, I like John Linnell's goofy faux-British accent, the piano, and the horns. The "ba ba ba ba" part seems so ridiculously inappropriate, yet it still fits somehow. There's an animated Flash video for this song, which will play if you put the CD into a computer. Speaking of the video, does the pair of glasses that the singer dons at one point remind anyone else of those worn by Professor Farnsworth from Futurama?

Fun Assassin: There's a kind of old-fashioned sound to this one. While not one of my favorites at the moment, I could definitely see it growing on me.

Skullivan: I think the title might be better than the song. Kind of like "Prevenge" and "Bastard Wants To Hit Me" in that respect, I suppose, but both of those songs are considerably better than this one. Very experimental, with a lot of nearly unintelligible babbling/yelling from John Flansburgh. Not that that's necessarily bad, but I don't think this song works so well.

The Other Side Of The World: A short, bell-heavy instrumental. I like it, but it's really not much.

Canada Haunts Me: A song that the band did for the audio book version of Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Okay, but not great. Maybe it works better in context. If anyone has the audio book, how are the songs worked into it? Are they played before the essays they're about, or what? I tend to think it's only here because the word "haunts" is in the title.

When I first heard that this EP had seven tracks, I was hoping for more than about twelve minutes of music. There's a definite theme running through the CD, and I can respect that. It just seems like TMBG has done other songs that would have worked better here than "The Other Side Of The World" or "Canada Haunts Me." (While I don't like "Skullivan" much, I can't argue that it fits the theme.) For instance, I think the EP would have been an excellent place for "Hell Hotel," the only song on the band's 1985 demo tape that has yet to see a proper release. Some of the songs from the Battle of the Bands project, especially "Chaos By Design" and "Headless" might have also worked. Speaking of which, I wonder if TMBG is totally done with the Battle of the Bands thing. I was really hoping for an album, or at least an EP, based on that project.


Monday, July 19
 
Yesterday, I went with Beth and her Uncle John to her cousin Christopher's birthday party.  After that, Beth and I went to Borders and IHOP.  I had meant to bring a coupon that I had for Borders, but I forgot it.  I'm not sure I'm EVER going to actually use one of those things.  At IHOP, I tried the new banana split pancakes, which were really good.  Oddly enough, though, I preferred the strawberry topping to the blueberry, even though I usually like blueberries better than strawberries.  Maybe it had something to do with how the toppings were prepared.  Regardless, though, I liked the pancakes, so it's not like it matters that much.
 
In other news, I've FINALLY gotten to hear The Spine, and I wasn't at all disappointed by it.  Overall, it seems to be a return to when They Might Be Giants songs were short and catchy; the longest one is only three minutes and ten seconds long.  Fans who thought the band had lost their way with their recent albums will probably be glad to discover that these songs are ones that are easy to get into.  On the other hand, fans of longer, somewhat more epic songs like "Sleeping In The Flowers," "The End Of The Tour," "Spiraling Shape," and "Hopeless Bleak Despair" might be a bit disappointed to find out that there isn't anything comparable here.  Still, I doubt they'll be disappointed for long, since the vast majority of what IS here is done very well, and that's saying a lot for the album.  It could probably have used a few more songs, though.  I understand that a short but cohesive album can sometimes sound better than a long, rambling one, but I tend to have a particular fondness for albums that pack in as many songs as possible.  Call it my completist tendencies, I guess.
 
I like the art in the liner notes.  They're definitely in the style of an old-fashioned cartoon, and I like the inverted writing.  I didn't think so much of it when I first saw the front cover, but I think the whole thing works quite well.
 
The album is identified as "They Might Be Giants' Tenth Album."  I know they considered Factory Showroom to be their sixth, since it says so right in the liner notes, continuing the tradition that they had established in the first five.  None of the albums in between Factory Showroom and The Spine are numbered, however, which leaves the true identity of the seventh through ninth albums up in the air.  Mink Car and No! almost definitely count, and I'd probably say Long Tall Weekend should be considered the seventh, but a case could also be made for Severe Tire Damage, and possibly even They Got Lost.
 
Anyway, here's a song-by-song review.  I'm not sure why I generally only do these for TMBG albums these days, but it just seems appropriate.
 
Experimental Film: Pretty catchy little song, and a good way to get things started.  I don't know that it was the best choice for a single, though.  As I said before, it seems kind of "safe," giving off a vibe of TMBG trying to sound like they did in their older singles, but not quite succeeding.  Sort of like "Bangs," although I like it better than "Bangs," and it works better as an opener.  Still a good song, but there are quite a few others I like better.
 
Spine: Not one of the best tracks on the album, but, really, could you expect that from a 33-second song?  I like these short themed tracks, and this one has an amusing vocal performance by John Linnell.  (Beth says it reminds her of XTC's Andy Partridge, and I guess I can kind of see that.  It reminds me of something else, though, and I'm not sure what.)  It's also a good introduction to the next song.
 
Memo To Human Resources: I already talked about this track when I reviewed the Indestructible Object EP, and it's the same recording.  As other people have said, this really does seem like one of TMBG's more "mature" tracks.  Not to say that they were IMmature in the past, but this seems like a song that they really couldn't have done (or at least done so well) on one of their early albums.
 
Wearing A Raincoat: Although there's always been some psychedelic rock influence to TMBG' music (especially in the lyrics), this is perhaps their most blatant foray into that genre since "The Day."  There's an interesting structure to the lyrics, with each verse providing an unusual and messed-up transition to the next.  ("Turning to drugs to help you sleep will only lead to sleep, and sleeping is a gateway drug to being awake again.  Being awake is swimming around in a lake of the undead, and the undead are like a bunch of friends that demand constant attention.")
 
Prevenge: Excellent title.  I wonder if anyone has ever come up with concept of "prevenge" before.  It seems like an obvious bit of wordplay, but I don't think I've come across it before.  The lyrics aren't really what I would have expected from the title.  They're good, but I kind of expected more wordplay and/or an explanation of the title concept.  I'd say this is the weakest of the album's three "John Flansburgh rocking out" tracks, but it's still quite catchy, and it's already starting to grow on me.
 
Thunderbird: This song was premiered in the live show in 1999, around the same time as such Mink Car tracks as "Cyclops Rock," "Man, It's So Loud In Here," and "She Thinks She's Edith Head."  For some reason, though, it was largely ignored by the band, left the live setlists quickly, and didn't show up on Mink.  That's unfortunate, since I think it would have been one of the better tracks on that album, while it gets lost in the shuffle here.  Others have commented on how this recording doesn't rock quite as much as it did live, and how leaving out certain lyrics ("They devised a plan, they would melt a man, and they called it Thunderbird") wasn't such a good idea.  I guess I'd agree, but maybe I'm just not as thrilled by the song itself as I used to be.
 
Bastard Wants To Hit Me: I have to wonder if this title was a reaction to all of the children's songs the band had written recently.  Kind of similar to "Man, It's So Loud In Here" in that it uses an equalizer (or whatever it's called) and is sung by a paranoid (unreliable?) narrator.  It's not as good as that song, though, although the production seems a bit better.  Perhaps that's just because I preferred "So Loud" without the dance beats, though.  Kind of forgettable overall (although the title is hard to forget), this might be the weakest of the album's more-than-a-minute-long tracks.
 
The World Before Later On: This song seems unfinished to me.  The idea behind it, that we still don't have a lot of the Jetsons-style conveniences that we were supposed to have this century, is an interesting one, but it really seems like a lot more could have been done with it than two brief verses.
 
Museum Of Idiots: I first heard this song at a show at Propsect Park in Brooklyn back in August 2000.  Back then, they were doing recordings with a full brass band, and there was talk of a brass band album.  I was apprehensive about that, as it struck me as suggesting that there wouldn't be as much variety as on the typical TMBG album, so I'm glad they eventually decided to use this song on an album where it stands out, rather than where it sounds like every other track.  The horns work really well here, the lyrics are excellent, and the song is probably my favorite Linnell-penned track on the album.
 
It's Kickin' In: Like "The World Before Later On," this might have benefitted from being a little longer.  Not because it isn't complete the way it is, but because a slightly longer version might have made a better single than "Experimental Film."  It's equally catchy (if not more so), but it rocks harder than the rather low-key "Film," and the kids still like the rock music, right?  I guess it could still be the second single, if they have one, but I'm inclined to think that they'd probably go with the similar but weaker and longer "Prevenge" over this one (not that they'd necessarily pick either one, just that I think "Prevenge" has a better chance of being a single than "It's Kickin' In" does).  Musically, this kind of reminds me of the Severe Tire Damage version of "First Kiss," only better.

Spines: A not-as-good complement to "Spine."

Au Contraire: Another song that was on Indestructible Object, and it's basically the same, although they replaced the flute solo with a guitar solo.  The end of the flute solo is still there, though, which strikes me as uncharacteristically sloppy editing for this album.  I've heard rumors that there are some copies of the album where this flute bit actually IS edited out, which would be odd if it's indeed true.  The song itself is classic Linnell, using the same basic structure (three unrelated verses with a common theme that comes out in the chorus) as "Turn Around," "Certain People I Could Name," and the unfortunately still unreleased "No Answer" (and, for that matter, "Weird Al" Yankovic's TMBG style parody, "Everything You Know Is Wrong").

Damn Good Times: Excellent segue from the last song into this one.  That kind of automatic progression from one song to another has worked so well on albums by other bands (particularly XTC's Skylarking), and TMBG hasn't really used it before.  I had downloaded this song from tmbg.com, and it was an early favorite of mine, with its relentlessly catchy, fast-paced nature.  The guitar solo at the end reminds me quite a bit of Camper Van Beethoven's "Tania," although that song used a violin instead of a guitar.  I liked the CVB solo better, but TMBG's version still works.

Broke In Two: I think this song hasn't quite clicked with me yet.  I like it overall, and the guitar line is cool, but it just isn't a favorite of mine.  I have a feeling I'll get to appreciate it better after a few more listens, though.

Stalk Of Wheat: Like "Damn Good Times," I heard and loved this some time before the album came out.  An insanely catchy (yes, I've been saying "catchy" a lot in this review, but damned if it isn't appropriate for almost every track) song with nonsense lyrics, kind of like "Shoehorn With Teeth," or something of the sort.  Nice rhyme scheme, too.

I Can't Hide From My Mind: A pretty nice little slow song.  The lyrics are especially good here, with a lot of skewed logic.  I don't know that this is the best way to end the album, though.  It leaves me wanting more.  Okay, I guess pretty much every TMBG song does that, but this song doesn't provide much resolution.  It's sort of like "Working Undercover For The Man" in that respect.  Both good songs individually, but they sort of end their respective albums not with a bang but a whimper, as T.S. Eliot might have said.

I'll probably review the companion EP, "The Spine Surfs Alone," tomorrow, after I've had a chance to listen to it a few times.



Saturday, July 17
 
I sometimes wish I could just put all of my CDs on my hard drive and play the songs randomly, but I really don't have enough disk space for that.  I guess that's why I need to get an iPod.
Anyway, I watched the Pixies DVD today.  It was pretty cool.  It's made up of a concert from 1988, all of the band's music videos, an "On the Road" segment, and the Gouge documentary.
Probably the weirdest thing about that early concert was seeing Frank Black (or, more accurately, Black Francis) with hair.  I also noticed that Joey Santiago seems to shake fairly often.
The videos are mostly minimalistic, and usually not that great.  I guess I prefer videos where there's a lot of stuff happening, and that certainly wasn't the case with the ones the Pixies did.  For instance, the "Velouria" video is just the band running on a rocky landscape in slow motion, without even acknowledging the music that it's accompanying.  My favorite was probably "Alec Eiffel," which had the band playing the song in a wind tunnel, with stuff that looked like pages from a physics textbook occasionally showing up on the screen.  I liked the look of the "Here Comes Your Man" video (the only one I've ever seen on actual TV), with the brightly-colored clothes and the flowers, but the gimmick of Frank and Kim Deal just holding their mouths open instead of lip-synching got old pretty fast.
The "On the Road" segment was interesting, although the bad sound quality was kind of annoying.  I guess that really couldn't have been avoided, since it seemed to be largely made up of home-movie-style footage, but it was often kind of hard to hear what people were saying.  There was a lot of Kim in that segment, but she wasn't interviewed at all for the Gouge documentary.  I've heard that was because she was busy when they were making it.  Frank was driving during most of his interview clips, which strikes me as a pretty accurate representation of the man, or at least of how he presents himself.  I thought they covered some interesting topics in the documentary, although I was kind of annoyed at the anti-last-two-albums stance that it seemed to take.  So many of the people interviewed weren't that fond of Bossanova and Trompe Le MondeBossanova is actually my favorite Pixies album, and, while I'm not sure Trompe is my second favorite, it's really good.  I mean, how can it not be, with songs like "Alec Eiffel" and "Motorway To Roswell"?  The whole DVD struck me as being somewhat biased toward the Pixies' earlier work.  The concert was pretty much all pre-Doolittle songs, aside from "Hey."  It might have been nice if they had included clips from later concerts, but maybe they didn't have the footage, or didn't have permission to use it.  I don't know.


Friday, July 16
 
Okay, so now Blogger isn't letting me cut and paste.  How odd and frustrating.


 
Weekends sure are boring sometimes.  Today, I spent most of the day volunteering at Longwood Gardens and then shopping.  I had lunch at Chick-fil-A, and it was tasty.  Chick-fil-A is really cool, aside from the whole not-being-open-on-Sundays thing.
 
Actually, I guess my problem isn't always boredom as such, so much as feeling that there's something else I COULD or SHOULD be doing.  I guess cleaning up and applying for jobs are the two big things I should be doing, but I really dread them.  Not that cleaning up is necessarily that bad, but it is when you don't have any idea where to put things.  When I have work, I usually have a valid excuse (or an excuse that's valid to me, anyway) to avoid annoying tasks like those.
 
It's been a long time since I've burned a mix CD.  It's something I'd like to do again, but I don't have anyone to make them for, and making them for myself is okay, but not the same.  I probably will make myself a new They Might Be Giants mix after I get my copy of The Spine and "The Spine Surfs Alone," though.  I've made a few TMBG mixes already, but they tend to be pretty fun to do, especially now that there are new songs to include.  I was kind of wondering if "Museum Of Idiots" might sound good following "On The Drag," since they both use horns, but in different ways.  I probably won't include "Experimental Film" on the mix, even though it's the first single and all.  I'm sure I'll get into this some more when I actually hear and review the album, but that song seems kind of (as the American Idol judges might say) "safe."  I mean, it's a good song, but it kind of seems like the Johns thought, "Okay, this is pretty catchy, and sounds kind of like a lot of our other songs, so we'll make it a single."


Thursday, July 15
 
I found out what happened with E-ZPass. It was my stupid mistake, and I managed to fix it without calling them, which is good. I hate having to be on hold and all that.

My copy of The Spine (the new They Might Be Giants album, for the benefit of those who didn't read any of my last several posts {g}) apparently came in the mail today, but it came to Beth's house (to save on shipping), so I can't listen to it yet. That sucks. :(

I got my car inspected this morning. It passed. It bugs me when people mess with the driver's seat, though, because I can never quite remember how it was adjusted before.


Wednesday, July 14
 
There was a lot of flooding in the area where I worked yesterday, and a few roads were closed. I heard on the radio that some houses and businesses in the area were flooded. With our current level of technology, doesn't it seem like we should be able to do more to prevent natural disasters like floods and tornadoes? Maybe it would interfere with the delicate balance of nature or something. I don't really know that much about that kind of stuff. It just seems like we (the human race, that is) have changed so much of nature to fit our own needs, yet we've made no effort to stop the parts of nature that don't seem to have any beneficial effects.

Speaking of not having any beneficial effects, I heard that the attempted Constitutional gay marriage ban was defeated in the Senate. Certain Republicans want to keep trying to get one, though. I'm sure I've said this before, but the whole anti-gay-marriage thing baffles me. Most of the wacky right-wing proposals at least benefit somebody (in most cases the right-wing wackos themselves), but how is banning gay marriage going to help ANYBODY? I just don't get it. It just strikes me as pure unmotivated meanness. Someone can feel free to explain it to me if they want, but I doubt very many homophobes read this journal.

I wish you could get a bigger house in Animal Crossing.


Tuesday, July 13
 
1. Today is the official American release date for The Spine. I don't have it yet, though, since tmbg.com decided to wait until today to even SHIP the thing. At least I'm not alone in having to wait, though. I mean, is there anyone who's actually interested in buying the album and DIDN'T take advantage of the pre-order package deal? (I mean, I'm sure a lot of people weren't aware of it, but most online They Might Be Giants fans presumably were.)

2. Has anyone else heard about Bush wanting to delay the elections? It sounds awfully suspicious to me. The reason provided (possible terrorist attacks) probably does hold some water, but what good would delaying the elections do, in that case? The terrorists could probably postpone their attacks as well. Beth suggested that, if they didn't want to hold the elections on the normal date, they could always have them EARLIER. Encouraging the use of absentee ballots (which I'll probably have to use anyway) might also be a good idea. The Bush administration has a history of using fears of terrorism to their advantage, however. I don't really mind if I have to wait another week or two to vote, but the precedent a delay would set would be quite dangerous. I mean, how much longer would it be before Bush decided to delay the elections indefinitely (the terrorist threat will never be completely eliminated, after all), and have himself delcared Dictator For Life?

3. In lighter news, I finished reading Mother Goose in Prose yesterday. I was kind of fond of "How the Beggars Came to Town," which touched on a few economic issues. It did so in a very simple way, but it was still nice to see. L. Frank Baum apparently would have opposed the Flat Tax.


Monday, July 12
 
Does it bother anyone else (aside from Beth, who pointed this out to me) that the Religious Right seems to have usurped the term "family"?

How about that reviewers are likely to automatically consider a depressing song more personal and introspective than a happy and/or funny one?

Anyway, I've started reading Mother Goose in Prose. It's not one of L. Frank Baum's best works, which isn't surprising, since I think it was his first attempt (or pretty close to his first attempt, anyway) at writing children's fiction. Some of the stories, like "The Cat and the Fiddle," are basically just attempts at explaining a nursery rhyme, and making it more realistic. I think the better stories tend to be the ones where Baum adds in a lot of back story that isn't strictly relevant to the original rhyme. "Old King Cole" seems, in many ways, to be a predecessor to his later book Queen Zixi of Ix. Both stories have a king being chosen in an odd way, and both have said king ruling in an unorthodox but effective manner. King Cole is a carefree old man, while Bud from Zixi is an orphan boy, but there are some clear similarities between them.

While the writing in the book is dull in spots, there are also some clear signs of Baum's sense of humor, and his enjoyable talking-to-the-reader style. Here's one passage from "The Man in the Moon" that I found particularly amusing:

"'Thank you,' said the Man in the Moon.--But stop! I must not call him the Man in the Moon any longer, for of course he was now out of the moon; so I'll simply call him the Man, and you'll know by that which man I mean.

"Well, the Man in the--I mean the Man (but I nearly forgot what I have just said)..."

Maybe no one else will agree, but I think there's a definite humorous charm to this self-correcting style of writing.


Sunday, July 11
 
Yesterday, for our fourth anniversary, Beth and I exchanged gifts. She gave me:

  • A copy of Mother Goose in Prose, a children's book that L. Frank Baum wrote prior to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • The recently released Pixies DVD
  • One of those Hot Topic Mario shirts, which featured enemies introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3 (Boos, Munchers, and Paragoombas)

After that, we went out to eat at the Olive Garden. I had wanted to try the parmesan-crusted shrimp, but it's already been taken off the menu. I sometimes have trouble understanding the whole limited-time offer thing. If a menu item requires unusual ingredients or preparation, I can see not wanting to offer it for a long time, but I tend to doubt parmesan-crusted shrimp would fall into either of those categories. I ended up having shimp and crab ravioli, which was very good. The portion was smaller than I'm used to getting at the Olive Garden, but seafood is more expensive than noodles and cheese, so it makes sense.

We didn't go bowling last night, but we might do that at some point during the week. Possibly Monday evening, but I don't know for sure.


Saturday, July 10
 
So, as I mentioned yesterday, today is the fourth anniversary of when I started going out with Beth. Last night, we went to Atlantic City, which was fun. We played the cheap slot machines, and I think I ended up with a net gain of about $3.50. Not much, certainly, but you have to bet a lot to have the chance of winning a lot, and I just can't afford that.

We were going to go to a nearby flea market really early this morning, but it turned out they wouldn't open for another hour and a half or so, so we ended up leaving without doing anything there. Later, I got my oil changed. We should be going out to eat, and possibly bowling, in the near future.

I love you, Beth! I hope we stay together for many more anniversaries.


Friday, July 9
 
I had to get up early to go to work today. Fortunately (and unfortunately, in a way), I only work for four hours.

I had a dream last night that I was spending Christmas with Beth, but I was really grumpy and depressed for some reason, and she got mad at me. Another one of my dreams involved the Beatles' white album, while yet another featured an Oz story about Dorothy, Toto, and Eureka.

Tomorrow, Beth and I will have been dating for four years. (Hey, I used the future perfect tense!)


Thursday, July 8
 
According to this, a Congressman from Georgia opposed medical marijuana because it was "simply the first step in a scheme to overturn all the substance abuse laws." I wouldn't be too surprised to find out he's one of the same people who thinks that allowing gay marriage will open the door to people marrying their pets.

AT&T Wireless apparently never got my service contracts, which I mailed almost a month ago. It's not a big deal, since I could agree to them on the phone, but stuff getting lost in the mail is never good.

I wonder if certain antivirus programs are contributing to my problems with starting my computer. I had to uninstall McAfee last night, and the computer seemed to be able to start up just fine after that. I installed some other antivirus program this morning, and now it's having trouble starting again. Could there be any connection, or is this just coincidence?


Wednesday, July 7
 
As I indicated in my last post, I did indeed see Spider-Man 2 yesterday, with Beth and her Uncle John. That makes the third movie I've seen at a theater within the month, which is probably some kind of record for me. (Okay, maybe not, but I really don't go to that many movies.)

Spider-Man 2 was definitely a worthy successor to the original movie. I can't imagine anyone having liked the first one and not enjoying the sequel. I did think the villain creation sequence was a little derivative, in that both films featured a scientist who turned evil and gained super powers after an experiment went wrong. I've never read the original comic books, so I don't know how the villains' origins were originally dealt with; maybe the writers wanted to remain close to the earlier stories. I don't know. I thought Dr. Octopus was both more threatening and more interesting than the Green Goblin, though. I also liked the fact that he eventually sabotaged his own project and sacrificed himself, because he didn't want to "die a monster."

I don't think it was entirely clear why Spider-Man kept losing his powers. I mean, I guess they explained it in that he couldn't focus and didn't know what he wanted out of life, but I think it could have been dealt with a little more clearly.

I noticed they left it ambiguous as to whether Harry would become a villain like his father had been. I do have to wonder why the machine that turned his dad into the Green Goblin was still there, though. Wouldn't it have been discovered and dealt with at some point during the two years that passed between the two movies? Oh, well.

Oh, and the last of the boss villains in Dragon Warrior Monsters was Esturk (spelled "Esterk" in DWM), which means there weren't any Dragon Quest V boss monsters to fight. I was able to defeat all of the bosses, but had no luck at all in going up against the Master Monster Tamer at a tournament.

Why do I keep writing things like this? It's not like anyone is interested, I'm sure.


Monday, July 5
 
So, yesterday evening, Beth and I went to see fireworks at a nearby high school, because, really, what's the Fourth of July without a lot of colorful exploding things? The traffic was REALLY bad getting out of there, but I guess that's usual for Independence Day. While in the car, we heard Hudson Shad on NPR. In case you don't recognize the name, they're the ones who sang the They Might Be Giants song "O, Do Not Forsake Me." I'd never heard anything else by them, so that was pretty cool.

After we got back to Beth's house, she made us watch Jack, that god-awful Robin Williams movie where he ages at four times the normal rate. What a ridiculous and pseudo-sentimental piece of garbage THAT was (not that I wasn't expecting that ahead of time). It was all "Feel sorry for poor Robin Williams, with his totally unrealistic affliction! He can't help it! He just wants to fit in!" What you might not have known (I didn't) is that both Bill Cosby and J-Lo are in it. Anyway, I think a better ending would have been for a wizard to have reduced Jack's aging to a normal rate. Wouldn't THAT have been heartwarming?

In a few hours, Beth and I should be going to see Spider-Man 2. Hopefully that should be enough to get the bad taste of Jack out of my proverbial mouth. {g}


Sunday, July 4
 
Happy Fourth of July to everyone reading this! Even if you're not American, you can still have a happy Fourth of July, right?

Anyway, I managed to reach two more bosses in Dragon Warrior Monsters yesterday, and they turned out to be Baramos and Zoma, both from Dragon Warrior III. I wasn't able to reach the last one, but I'm guessing it's probably the main villain from Dragon Quest V, but might also be Malroth/Sidoh or Esturk.

Today, Beth and watched Fahrenheit 9/11. It was the second time Beth had seen it, but only the first for me. This was the first Michael Moore movie I'd seen. We had wanted to watch Bowling for Columbine, and I seem to recall my mom planning on renting Roger & Me at one point, but I never actually saw either of them. Like pretty much everyone else who's seen it has said, there were quite a few scary, disturbing parts to the movie, as well as some funny and amusing ones. I had already been opposed to the Patriot Act, Bush stealing the 2000 election, and other attempts by our present government to undermine the Constitution, but the film made me think more about them than I had before. That no one in Congress even READ the Patriot Act before passing it is very disturbing, but certainly believable. The weapons of mass destruction angle has been covered so many times before, but I suppose it bore repeating. Personally, I guess I wouldn't be horribly shocked if they found that Iraq really DID have such weapons, but really, isn't that the kind of thing that should be proven BEFORE going to war? It just strikes me as Bush's own personal vendetta, and it's terrible that he's letting his own citizens die for that. Really, I have a hard time believing Bush still has so much support. I mean, he was unopposed in the Republican primary! I'll admit I'm biased in the other direction, but I don't see how even Republicans could support a lot of Bush's policies.

As for the film being biased and skewed, well, it pretty obviously leaned in a certain direction, and I'm sure there are counterarguments for some of the points presented. I don't believe it really told people how to think, though. It was more that it encouraged people TO think, and not just accept what's going on. While Moore has admitted that he wants the film to help the Democrats win the election this year, I don't really think it came out specifically pro-Democrat and anti-Republican as much as just against the current administration. It presented the Bush administration as bad, but didn't specifically push a particular alternate candidate or agenda.

So, all in all, I would recommend that anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet should go ahead and do so.


Saturday, July 3
 
Having to keep restarting my computer is starting to get REALLY annoying. Okay, it was really annoying in the first place, but it's been getting even MORE annoying.

I wonder why I never thought to attach headphones to the computer speakers before. It's convenient when there are other people making noise in the vicinity, and I think the sound quality is actually better. The downside is that my ears start to hurt after wearing headphones for too long. It's the same way with the phone, really.

I tried to buy They Might Be Giants tickets at a different Ticketmaster outlet yesterday, but they said NO TMBG shows were listed in their database. Apparently there are some shows where you can buy tickets online, but not at Ticketmaster outlets. Of course, they're more expensive online, so it's yet another way for Ticketmaster to rip people off.

It turns out that there ARE other bosses from previous Dragon Warrior/Quest (the series is "Dragon Quest" in Japan, but they had to change it to "Dragon Warrior" for the American version, because of copyright issues with TSR, I believe) in Dragon Warrior Monsters. The other day, I fought Hargon (from Dragon Warrior II) and Pizzaro (apparently the Japanese name for Necrosaro in Dragon Warrior IV; I guess they thought misspelling the name of the conqueror of Machu Picchu would make a good name for the Ruler of Evil, and I can't say I have much argument there), but I couldn't defeat either of them. I DID beat the Axe Knight (or Mad Knight) from the first Dragon Warrior game, though. There are only three bosses I haven't seen yet. Since the hero of DW Monsters is a younger version of the hero of Dragon Quest VI, I have to wonder whether the boss from DQ6 will appear. It wouldn't seem to make much sense, but then I haven't played DQ6, so I guess I wouldn't know for sure. There actually is a part in DWM where you have to fight your older self, so I'm not sure I'd put anything past the makers of the game.

I'll bet no one is at all interested in the Dragon Warrior stuff. Has anyone who reads this even PLAYED any of those games?


Friday, July 2
 
As you may recall, I signed up for an AT&T Wireless account in June, fully expecting to add a new line in July. At the time, it cost $10 to add an extra line, and I thought that was their normal rate. When I heard rumors that it was a limited time deal, I called customer service, and the lady I spoke to told me that the promotions were subject to change at any time, but that that one would PROBABLY still be good in July. This led me into a false sense of security, and instead of adding the new line right away (which I'm sure I would have done if she had impressed a sense of urgency upon me), I waited. Now they've raised the rates, and I really can't afford to add another line at the new rate ($20). Today, I talked to people in customer service and the add-a-line department (including a supervisor in that department), emphasizing that I found what I was told earlier to be misleading. They said there was nothing they could do, and that she DID say "probably." To me, though, "probably" implies a positive. I think having constantly changing promotions with no ending dates is bad business anyway, but when I'm lured into thinking that it a particular promotion WON'T expire before I need to use it, that's inexcusable. I would adivse anyone who reads this to stay away from AT&T Wireless. I doubt this will do any good, not only because it's unlikely that anyone in the market for a new cell phone plan will read this, but also because I would imagine that most other cellular companies do the same kind of thing. I want to do what I can to get the word out, though. If anyone knows anything else I can do, please let me know. I'm considering reporting them to the Better Business Bureau, but I don't think anyone even listens to them in this day and age.

While I'm on the subject, I could point out the stupidity of people who act like a cell phone is a necessity in our society, when the prices are too high for many of us. I suppose that's the American way, though.


Thursday, July 1
 
In my continuing tradition of acknowledging holidays I don't celebrate, happy Canada Day!

Today was Beth's last day of her summer class. While I was waiting for her to finish her exam, I played some more of Dragon Warrior Monsters. You might recall that I already won the Starry Night Tournament, but there's more to the game after that. Today, I fought my first boss in this part of the game, who turned out to be none other than the DracoLord (AKA Dragonlord), the main villain in the first Dragon Warrior game. He even said pretty much the same thing he did in the original game. This time, however, he put up much more of a fight in his human form than as a dragon. I wonder if some other classic villains from the series will appear in the game.

After Beth's class, she bought lunch for both of us at Denny's. That was very sweet of her. I had the Breakfast Dagwood (as usual), and, since I still have part of it left, I'll probably eat it on my lunch break.

Okay, so that was the good part of this post. Most of the rest of the entry is made up of complaints about stuff.

While Beth was at school, I went to Strawbridge's (whatever happened to Clothier, anyway?) to buy tickets for a They Might Be Giants concert later this month. I didn't get them, though, since the lady said the Ticketmaster system was down. I guess that isn't the store's fault, but I've had problems at that counter before, like when they refused to sell me tickets because I was five minutes late or something. I also remember hearing from Beth that they told her cousin Mark that they were out of tickets for the entire Warped Tour, which I'm pretty sure wasn't true.

Speaking of Ticketmaster, their extra charges are annoying enough without giving them a stupid name like "service charges." What service is this money going toward? It's pretty much the same way with places that charge "shipping and handling" rates that are much higher than shipping a package could ever be (within the country, anyway). Why not just call these extra charges "because-we-can fees"? I still wouldn't LIKE them, but at least they'd be a lot more honest.

And speaking of TMBG, I have to say that I'm not too fond of their newly-formed Street Team, for two reasons:

1. The Johns have mentioned before how they're scared of their fans. While I'm sure they won't actually be interacting with any members of their Street Team, why would they want to make the crazy people semi-official spokespeople for the band, and give them free stuff?
2. Is TMBG really at the level where they NEED to rely on fan promotion? It's not like they're some tiny, unknown band. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate for them to have formed a Street Team back in the early eighties, when they were playing small clubs in New York City?

Mind you, I'm aware of the importance of word of mouth in promoting ANY band. But, really, which is more effective? A friend or acquaintance playing someone a few songs, or maybe making a mixtape for them; or some random guy on the street handing out flyers that he made himself?

This has gotten to be a pretty long entry. I doubt anyone will be at all interested in it, though.