The Highways and Byways of the Stratosphere

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Sunday, December 5
As I had previously indicated, last night was the Pixies concert at the Tweeter Center in Camden. Prior to the show, I bought a T-shirt and a pack of stickers and buttons, and then Beth and I went to find our seats. There were two opening acts, the Bennies and the Datsuns, neither of which were all that impressive. I mean, they weren't bad, but they weren't really anything that interested me, either. I'd actually seen the Bennies before, opening for Frank Black when he played in Philadelphia with the Catholics, but I didn't remember any of their songs or anything, so it wasn't one of those cases where it was like, "Well, these songs aren't that great, but at least they're familiar!" All I really remember about the Datsuns was that the drums for one of their songs reminded me of the Donkey Kong Country theme. I'm sure I would have liked the band a lot better if they actually HAD played the DKC theme. {g} They also left really abruptly, without even announcing that they were playing their last song, or that the Pixies were next, or any of the usual things that opening bands say when they're getting close to the end of their time. Anyway, I'm not sure why so many shows seem to have two openers nowadays. I'm glad we had seats, since standing up through multiple openers and breaks between them usually makes me really worn out by the time the main band starts playing. I did stand up for the Pixies' set.

Our seats weren't that great, but they weren't that bad, either. I really think the Tweeter Center should have a screen, so those people sitting in the far seats wouldn't have to strain to see the stage. Oddly enough, considering that most of the Pixies' songs are pretty loud, it wasn't that hard on the ears. I'm not sure if this was because I was farther from the stage than I am at smaller concerts, or that they took more care with the sound system than is typical.

The Pixies opened with "Velouria," which is my favorite song of theirs, and would probably rank among my favorite songs by ANY band. I guess you could say having the band open with your favorite means it's all downhill from there, but I didn't see it that way, fortunately.

The rest of the setlist was as follows:

Wave Of Mutilation
Planet Of Sound
Ed Is Dead
Gouge Away
Bone Machine
Something Against You--It was during this song that something went wrong with Frank's guitar, leading to some down time and amusing stage banter, which I'll describe in more detail later on.
In Heaven--With Kim Deal singing. I'd heard that she had been doing this on the reunion tour, but I didn't know what it would sound like. It was pretty cool, but she didn't get progressively louder, like Frank does when he sings this one.
Wave Of Mutilation--Yes, again. This time, it was the slow UK Surf version.
Holiday Song
Where Is My Mind?
Vamos--During the solo, Joey Santiago was hitting his guitar with one of David Lovering's drumsticks.
Nimrod's Son--The second half of the song was played and sung a lot more slowly than the first.
Mr. Grieves
Crackity Jones
Isla De Encanta
No. 13 Baby
Broken Face
I Bleed
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Tame--I think this song works quite a bit better live than on the album.
Gigantic--This was the encore.

Okay, so, as I said before, something went wrong with Frank's guitar during "Something Against You." He finished the song without it, and then, while a roadie attended to the guitar, David Lovering told a joke, the setup for which was "Why did the bestialitist cross the road?" Frank then told Joey to speak, because no one knew what he sounded like (or something like that). Joey said something so quietly that I couldn't hear him, and Frank commented that Joey was too quiet, while he was too loud. During this banter, someone behind us was yelling something along the lines of, "Play some music!" I've commented before about how annoyed I am by hecklers like that, but it was even stupider than usual this time, since they actually COULDN'T play a song. If there hadn't been technical difficulties, they probably would have just played without stopping to talk. I know Frank has commented before about how he prefers to just play one song after another in concert. Personally, I'm a big fan of stage banter, and I don't agree with this philosophy, but that's his decision. I am glad we got to hear the band talk, though.

Overall, it was a great show. The biggest complaint I have is that they didn't play much of anything from their last two albums, but then, that's the complaint that EVERYBODY has about this tour, and I wasn't expecting them to suddenly change the mostly-early-stuff policy for this show. I will say that, if I had to choose only two songs from Trompe Le Monde for them to play, I wouldn't have chosen "U-Mass," and I DEFINITELY wouldn't have chosen "Planet Of Sound," which was one of the songs that turned me off Trompe the first few times I listened to the album. Too abrasive, or something. I've since gotten to like it better, but it's still not one of my favorites. My top two choices from that album would have been "Motorway To Roswell" and "Alec Eiffel," but there are plenty of other songs I would have preferred to the two they did play. Oh, well. At least the one song they did from Bossanova happened to be my favorite. I can't really think of anything else from Come On Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa, or Doolittle that I really wanted them to play and they didn't. "Here Comes Your Man" would have been nice, but I've heard Frank isn't all that fond of that one. "Levitate Me" would also have been cool, I suppose, but not really necessary or anything.

I also tried out Crystal Chronicles yesterday. It turned out to be more action-oriented than I expected, what with the real-time battles. When I hear "Final Fantasy" or even simply "RPG," I tend to think in terms of a turn-based battle system, which is easier for me, since my reflexes and eye-hand coordination are pretty lousy. I guess Final Fantasy Adventure was action-based, but that wasn't originally an FF game anyway. I believe it was called Seiken Denetsu in Japan, and the English-language versions of all the sequels have been called "[Something] of Mana." Anyway, the game will probably take some practice for me, and I'm not sure I'll really concentrate on it until after I've finished Mario and Luigi, but it seems pretty fun.

And, since I haven't received any objections (or any comments whatsoever, for that matter) since I made my post last week about making my posts livejournal-exclusive, I'm going to go ahead and stop cross-posting, at least for the time being. Go here if you want to read any of my later entries.

Thursday, December 2
I had a dream last night that it was Christmas morning, and I hadn't bought presents for anyone. I then made Beth come with me to a Wal-Mart, which had two floors and a large book department. Maybe I really SHOULD get everyone books for Christmas. I mean, everybody likes books, right? Regardless, I should start Christmas shopping soon, so that dream doesn't come true.

I'm trying to level Mario and Luigi up somewhat before trying Teehee Valley again. You have to travel through there with the Princess, but Gritty Goombas and Spiky Snifits keep trying to kidnap her, and those enemies can do a significant amount of damage. Learning to dodge their attacks is probably the best way to get past them, but having more power and hit points certainly wouldn't hurt.

Hmm, I still have an Amazon gift certificate to spend. I wonder what I should buy with it. Any suggestions?

Finally, here's a personality quiz result. I think I took something along these lines before, but oh well. This is actually pretty accurate.

Big Five Word Test Results
Extroversion (41%) moderately low which suggests you are reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and secretive.
Friendliness (52%) medium which suggests you are moderately kind natured, trusting, and helpful while still maintaining your own interests.
Orderliness (47%) medium which suggests you are moderately organized, structured, and self controlled while still remaining flexible, varied, and fun.
Emotional Stability (12%) very low which suggests you are extremely worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.
Openmindedness (58%) moderately high which suggests you are intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.
Take Free Big Five Word Choice Test
personality tests by

Wednesday, December 1
I first got a blog back in September 2000, shortly before starting graduate school. I'm not sure if LiveJournal even existed at that point. I know I chose Blogger over Diaryland (Anyone else remember Diaryland? {g}) because I preferred seeing multiple entries on one page. When LiveJournal came around, they struck me as awfully elitist. You either had to pay for an account, or know someone who was. The whole "you have to have money or know somebody" thing comes up so often in life, and I was not at all pleased to see it spread to the Internet. There was something on their main page about how anybody who wanted an account had to contribute something, which I guess kind of makes sense, but it still struck me as kind of a ridiculous attitude to take when there were other online journal services that you could use without contributing anything. The livejournal "community" was fairly insular at that point. An outsider couldn't comment on another person's journal unless they did it anonymously, and some users didn't even allow that. So I was pretty down on LJ at that point. Since they decided to allow people to get free accounts without knowing anybody, though, I guess I've become a convert. The comment system is a lot more convenient than any of the comment services you can use with Blogger. I like the fact that you can receive e-mails to alert you when you've received a comment. Honestly, I think the system should go farther. If you leave a comment on someone else's journal, it will tell you if someone replies to that comment, but not if someone replies to that reply. I think it should notify you of any comments in the same thread. But I digress. The "non-LJ-users have to comment anonymously" thing still exists, but, since it's free to get a journal, there's no reason why you should have to be anonymous. A good commenting system is important to me, since I love getting attention. I have a fear of being ignored or seen as boring, and, if people are commenting, I know that they're at least somewhat interested in what I have to say. Besides, I like a good dialogue, which is difficult to do with Blogger. I'm not really as interested in keeping a journal per se as I am with sharing my thoughts with the world, and LJ strikes me as more of an open forum. Along those lines, I also like the friends page, communities, and the fact that it's easier to stumble across other people's journals. It seems to be more open than Blogger. I know some people prefer Blogger because you can do more template customization and graphic design stuff, but I know nothing about design, and I find changing templates to be rather frustrating. Therefore, that's not a factor for me.

Of course, the main reason I'm considering switching over is because I actually get comments on LJ. If I constantly got comments on my blog and none of my LJ, then I'd probably make my blog my main posting place. The other factors are secondary, but I thought they were worth mentioning anyway.

In non-journal-related news, Beth and I went out to eat at Denny's last night, and found that her cousins Dorothea and Alyssa were already there. That was pretty cool. Less cool was that they had discontinued the Breakfast Dagwood, which is what I usually get there. I guess I'll just stick with the Moons Over My Hammy from now on, even though that's not as filling.

I believe today will mark the fortieth anniversary broadcast of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I'll be at work when they're actually showing it, but Beth does have Rudolph on tape, so I suppose I can watch it later.