Archive for May, 2007

27
May
07

Fun With Fonts

It recently dawned on me that the font which I have chosen to use here may not be the font which some readers may be seeing. There’s the usual perfectly logical explanation for this. The default font for the WordPress theme I am using is Verdana, whereas most other themes use Lucida Sans Unicode. However, on the computer I normally use there is an identical font with a nearly identical name–Lucida Sans. That is the font I’ve been designating via html in my posts, since I prefer it over Verdana. On other computers, however, such as the one I am using at the moment, the body text shows up as Times New Roman, a font which doesn’t really fit the visual theme of the blog too well.

I’m using Lucida Sans Unicode in this post, so it should display properly on most computers. Of course, now I’m going to have to go back and change the font for each individual post. Such is the price you pay for trying to use a different font from the default designated by the theme’s CSS code, I suppose. The same problem occured with my LiveJournal, as I found out, but I have since managed to fix that relatively painlessly.

Kudos to those who have managed to read this far. Also, my apologies for the lack of interesting material this week (or indeed any material, for that matter). I’ll try to be better about that in the future.

Update: I just realized that the entries appear in Verdana when listed in categories (i.e. when you click on one of the categories on the list to the left). Unfortunately, I have no clue how to fix that, or if I can fix it at all. Damn you, WordPress…

20
May
07

Required Reading: Doom Wiki

Required Reading is a new column which I have instituted in order to make my blog more interesting and hopefully expose my readership, limited though it may be, to some good reading at the same time. Most featured items will be online, though every once in a while I may recommend a good old-fashioned book.

Doom, the definitive FPS by Id Software, has been a favorite game of mine ever since I first played the SNES version way back in the ancient days of 1996. Granted, this was a full three years after the game’s initial release for the PC back in 1993, but I’ve never been timely about that sort of thing. My interest in gaming, as I have previously mentioned, has been on-again-off-again, but over the years Doom and it’s aptly named sequel Doom II have been cornerstones of my video game career.

Given my status as a blatant Doom fanboy, it can hardly be a surprise that I have frittered away many hours reading one article after the next on the Doom Wiki. The Doom Wiki is a comprehensive guide to all things Doom-related, from details and specs of the original game engine to an exhaustive list of Doom source ports. As you might have guessed from the title, the Doom Wiki is identical in format to Wikipedia. Pick a topic and get reading–you just might learn something.

18
May
07

Mickey Mouse Jihad

About a month ago, Al Aqsa TV, a television network with alleged ties to Hamas, began airing segments in which an off-brand Mickey Mouse instructed the impressionable youth of Palestine in the ways of radical Islam. On the one hand it’s strangely amusing, if only for the surrealism of seeing Mickey Mouse denounce Zionism, but on the other hand the fact that this sort of thing is likely instrumental in the indoctrination of children is also somewhat disconcerting. In light of this, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if there were a VeggieTales episode which advocated the bombing of abortion clinics.

11
May
07

California is Burning

Well, maybe not California, but certainly Santa Catalina Island.

An orange inferno loomed behind the quaint crescent harbor, landmark 1929 Catalina Casino and homes, restaurants and tiny hotels clinging to slopes above the waterfront.

More information (and some damn good photos, to boot) at the New York Times.

09
May
07

The Ten Best Black Metal Songs

I am a Black Metal fiend; there’s no use in denying that. Recently I came up with the idea to compile a list of the ten best Black Metal songs around, and the results are what you see here. Before I get to the list, I should say that this, like any list of the “best” anything is really only my opinion; feel free to disagree with me. I hope you do, in fact. So without further ado, the list.

10) Nokturnal Mortum – Carpathian Mysteries

Sure, they’re a bunch of Neo-Nazi assholes. But that didn’t stop Nokturnal Mortum from making some good music. Carpathian Mysteries Appeared on the band’s Lunar Poetry demo way back in 1996, and the band has yet to write a better song. Carpathian Mysteries truly captures the feeling of a cold Ukrainian night in the dead of winter. It seems like the type of song the Don river Cossacks would have listened to (assuming they listened to metal, that is.)

9) Taake – Hordalands Doedskvad, pt. III

Norway! Land of mountains, fjords and (perhaps most importantly) fog. Such is the image that inexorably comes to mind when listening to the Doedskvad album. Part III, however, by virtue of its stirring and memorable central riff, brings that image to mind even more strongly than any other song on the album. This is the kind of song that makes me want to become fluent in Norwegian and move into a tiny shack on top of a mountain somewhere in Trondelag. Or maybe Hordaland, for that matter.

8 ) Immortal – Call Of The Wintermoon

Ah, Immortal. No other band has captured the aesthetic of running around the woods in silly outfits quite so perfectly as they have. Though the video the band made for the song is one of the most unintentionally (or, perhaps, intentionally) hilarious moments in the history of metal, Call of the Wintermoon is still one of the best black metal songs yet recorded. It’s one of those songs that I can’t help but be reminded of while walking around on clear winter’s night. More importantly, it also helped to establish Immortal as one of the leading black metal acts in Norway, and indeed the world.

7) Emperor – Cosmic Keys to my Creation and Times

“Haunting” and “strangely beautiful” are not adjectives one commonly uses to describe black metal songs, but in this case they are oddly appropriate. The synthesized choral melody lies at the heart of this, the most memorable of Emperor’s songs, which despite its furious blastbeats and tortured, howling vocals, is still very much beautiful in its own mysterious way. Emperor is perhaps the most renowned of the melodic Black metal bands, and songs like this (and Thus Spake the Night Spirit, which nearly made the list,) help to validate that reputation.

6) Bathory – Woman Of Dark Desires

A tribute to Elizabeth Bathroy, the namesake of Bathory, black metal pioneer Quorthon’s band. This song, like much of Bathory’s early work, clearly illustrates the thrash origins of black metal. Woman of Dark Desires is one of the most memorable songs from Bathory’s early days, before Quorthon decided he’d had enough of the Satan business and went on to pioneer viking metal. Now that’s ingenuity for you.

5) Burzum – Dunkelheit

Dunkelheit was the first track on Filosofem, the last Burzum album before Varg Vikernes was shipped off to prison for the murder of Euronymus. Varg always pursued a more atmospheric brand of black metal than most bands of the day, or indeed most bands that have appeared since. Dunkelheit, with its hypnotic central riff, is perhaps the apogee of Burzum’s style of black metal.

4) Darkthrone – In the Shadow of the Horns

Darkthrone is among the most prolific bands in black metal history, with a dozen full-length albums to their credit. Their style has changed over the years, true enough, and though I rather enjoy Darkthrone’s newer sound, it’s classic Darkthrone that truly formed the archetype for many black metal acts to follow. A minimalistic sound–mid-tempo blastbeats alternating with more typical rock drum patterns, and simple guitar riffs–with shoestring-budget production to match. Evidently, it’s been a formula for success for Nocturno Culto and Fenriz. In the Shadow of the Horns, from A Blaze in the Northern Sky, may be the most memorable song from Darkthrone’s early days.

3) Dissection – Thorns of Crimson Death

A lone dark horseman–Death himself, in the flesh–riding through the frozen wastes. Such is the image which adorns the cover of Dissection’s Storm of the Light’s Bane. Thorns of Crimson Death captures perfectly the essence of that image. Beyond that, it is one of the most masterfully-crafted songs in all of black metal.

2) Satyricon – Mother North

A seminal fan favorite, and not without damn good reason. Mother North shows off both Frost’s uncanny skill as a drummer, and also Satyr’s talent for constructing mesmerizing guitar riffs. Like Emperor’s Cosmic Keys, Satyricon’s Mother North manages to be as eerily beautiful as a black metal song can be. There is also a good deal of variety in the song, as it effortlessly drifts between furious blastbeats and oddly-danceable mid-tempo variations. Satyricon has also changed its sound in recent years, but Mother North will remain their masterpiece.

1) Mayhem – Freezing Moon

You probably saw this one coming if you know anything about black metal. Mayhem, with their sordid history of suicide and murder, is the quintessential black metal band, and Freezing Moon is the quintessential Mayhem song. Mayhaps this seems a bit of a cop out, but few songs have achieved as legendary a status as has Freezing Moon. Penned by the late Per Yngve Ohlin (a.k.a. Dead,) Freezing Moon is at first glance a run-of-the-mill song about death and whatnot. But what is great about Freezing Moon is that there is a real feeling of passion; the listener gets a sense that the band actually believes in what they’re playing. And few people have ever believed in death as much as did Per Yngve Ohlin, who committed suicide in a rather gruesome fashion some sixteen years ago. The legend, they say, lives forever, and Freezing Moon is an extricable part of that Legend.

02
May
07

A Bacon Martini?

Bacon, much like a hot dog from a street vendor, is one of those foods that I can enjoy, so long as I don’t think about it too much. The mere thought of bacon grease is enough to make me lose my appetite; the smell of bacon grease is enough to make my stomach turn; the sight of bacon grease, once it has congealed into a mass of solid fat, is enough to bring me to the verge of regurgitation. But as though all that were not revolting enough, I now have the additional thought of drinking bacon to condend with.

Some damn fool has gone and concocted a bacon martini. This may be the single most disgusting beverage of which I have ever heard. Any liquid that requires you to skim the fat off its surface should not be considered potable by anyone. If ever there were a candidate for pure liquid death, this surely must be it.

There is one plus to this, however–if I should ever have the desire to snack late at night, all I need to do is think of the bacontini and my appetite will shrivel and die, much like the arteries of anyone foolish enough to drink this god awful witch’s brew of a beverage.