Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You

I must apologize for getting this done later than I anticipated. You can see my reasoning in my last blog update that didn't involve a review or a song.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are the kind of band that only release about four albums in ten years. Linkin Park have released all four of their studio albums since 2000; Interpol have released all four of their studio albums since 2002; The Flaming Lips have released four albums since 1999, marking four albums in 2009 with Embryonic; and Red Hot Chili Peppers have probably had the scarcest amount of releases, with Californication in 1999, By the Way in 2002, Stadium Arcadium in 2006, and now I'm With You in 2011, actually making it 12 years with four albums. So what makes them release their albums so irregularly? Judging from the content on this album, it certainly isn't quality.

Review: Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

 I made allusions to this album in my Stadium Arcadium review, and as it turns out I happen to have a review of this one, too. It's an older review, made before I established a better formula, but still pretty decent. Also, I can't seem to turn italics off, so that's a nice little obstacle to overcome. I wanted to make a nice long playlist for a double album, but has only two of the songs I wanted, so I've resorted to YouTube. Sorry about that. Since I AM doing YouTube videos, I'm going to experiment with the way I put them in the post. Please give feedback on whether or not you like it.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is an alternative double album released in 1995 by Smashing Pumpkins. Let me just get this out of the way now and say that it is an incredible, fantastic, wonderful, (insert 100 more positive adjectives here) album. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I'm going to have to make a delay for my review of I'm With You. I need more time to think about what I'll say than I originally thought. Most professional reviewers for big magazines and publications get copies days or weeks in advance so they have time to compose a decently written review, and since I'm not a professional, I do not get my copies ahead of time. I'll have something written by the end of the week, I promise.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Conversation I Heard....

Well, today was kind of fun. It was my first day of college and everything went better than expected.

I got there and there were virtually no people in the parking lot I chose. Granted, I got there at 8:30 in the morning, but still, it was pretty nice not to have to drive around for half-an-hour trying to find a place to park. That might all change tomorrow, but this post is about today. My classes were easy to find, too, and not very difficult to get between. My 9:05 AM class is American Literature, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my Creative Writing teacher from last semester teaching (before she was listed as B. Joseph and here she was E. Joseph). I then had Music Appreciation, and as it turns out, my teacher for that class is not a stuck up, uptight old man, but a stout woman with a sense of music that is actually rather current, pulling up Celine Dion and Mariah Carrie for us to listen to (we never got around to it since we had so much to do first day).

On Promiscuity

I'm kind of irritated by all this assumption that gays are all completely promiscuous and anti-monogamous. But what really irritates me is that it seems to be true. So often I come across by-gay-for-gay websites that promote this idea that all its male patrons are bathhouse-going, ultra-horny-always, sexes-everyone people. I suppose it ends up being that way because, well, men will be men, but I guess it makes me mad because it goes against my views. It's kind of hard to concentrate my thoughts into something with structure right now, so I'm sorry if this seems like rambling.

Songs I'm Obsessed With: "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo

The first time I heard this song was during a commercial for a History Channel special on the American civil war. I remember thinking how unfitting it seemed to be for the subject material, but for the commercial itself it was quite good. I suppose it was interesting to see a modern twist for something about the past. I shazamed it to find the song was "Running Up That Hill" by Placebo. Oh, how useful Shazam is, even if I'm wi-fi locked.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

One of the most important things to consider before listening to an album for the first time is what you're about to listen to. You could do this by listening to the little previews in iTunes, finding the songs playing on a radio, or even listening to it on YouTube before you buy it. I prefer the iTunes preview method so I can be pleasantly surprised during the album. But I think this is the main reason why A Thousand Suns was so poorly received by hardcore Linkin Park fans, because it is obviously a drastic departure from their previous work and the fans couldn't reconcile with this fact before listening, thus giving it a bad review.

But let's be honest: compared to A Thousand Suns, everything else tastes of ass.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

One thing I need to make certain everyone knows...

There are read more buttons for just about every post I make here (except this one and the last info post). The problem is that for some it seems like you need to have twenty-twenty vision to see them. Sometimes they appear as grey against a black background, and sometimes they're black against a black background. The best thing for you to do, unless I can fix it, is to make sure to click on the page title and it'll take you to the full page. You can do that if it seems like the post is a little too short for the subject.

I hope no one has any big issues with this, and I'll see what I can do to fix it.

UPDATE: I changed the background color so the "read more" buttons contrast better against it. I'd still like to change the color of the buttons themselves, and I'm wondering how to do that. If anyone has any advise, please bring it forward.

Review: Linkin Park - Meteora

Another older review. I'm sort of counting down to my review of A Thousand Suns, which you'll see tomorrow (I don't have a review of Minutes to Midnight, as I haven't heard it).

Having enjoyed Hybrid Theory, I decided to check out another Linkin Park album of which I have heard good things. What I found was several different things.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory

This is one of my older reviews. I didn't bother editing it, so enjoy it in its original state:

What happens when you combine rock, heavy metal, hip-hop and synthetic keyboards? Linkin Park's answer to this question is Hybrid Theory, their first full-length album. Another band that used a similar combination of music is earlier group Faith No More, and though Linkin Park isn't quite as "Epic," they still manage to make a unique and interesting meal from the same ingredients.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Essay: "An Open Letter to Rick Perry"

I wrote this during the fall semester of 2010. I was inspired to write it after I met my first boyfriend (future boyfriend at that time) and I was able to add my self to the essay when I came out. It's about why I think gay marriage should be legalized in the form of a letter to Rick Perry. I had originally planned to send it to him, but I understand he would be much to busy campaigning for presidency. Let me stress right now that I do not support Perry. I really, really hate him, especially now that he thinks he is "driven by God" to run for President. I really just said those things at the beginning to get his attention. It's the only part of the essay that lies. It won second place in the essay division with no tie, behind an essay about the educational system. I met the judge after the award ceremony, who told me how she "never thought of it that way." I think some of the arguments now are sort of weak, realizing now that I can't cite the Bible, or at least Leviticus. I plan on writing another essay of arguments that aren't helping (inspired by a Cracked article on five pro-marijuana arguments that aren't helping) as well as arguments that can and should help. I also wrote it back when I tried to fit the exact standard of many English teachers each time I wrote an essay. I realize now those rule can and are broken. Anyway, despite the somewhat weak arguments, please enjoy "An Open Letter to Rick Perry" by Zachary Armstrong.

Short Story: "Sam In Wonderland"

I wrote this back at the end of 2009 for a creative writing class taught by the mother of a friend of mine. She was a pretty decent teacher, but I was already a pretty decent writer. When I submitted this for the Eastfield writing competition's short story division, I had to do plenty of editing, namely changing the name from "The Forbidden Love." You get points if you understand the title. It ended up winning third place, so I guess someone liked it despite its silliness. Keep in mind that it tied for third place with another piece, which was better than mine (and certainly not as long). Anyway, I now present the "award-winning" piece "Sam In Wonderland" by Zachary Armstrong.

Well, I SUPPOSE it's legal to post these...

I've been thinking it should be a regular thing to do, as a writer, to post my work to my blog. The questionable legality of the next two posts is due to the fact that they have been published. They might hold the copyrights to the pieces, and they might sue me. But screw it! It's my art. They're mine to do with whatever I want.

These two have both one awards. The short story one third place in a competition, and the essay one second place in a different area of the same competition. The short story is a little silly, but I guess someone liked it enough to give it an award. The essay is much more serious, perhaps a little misguided but still good. Please note that I am not a supporter of Rick Perry. I really just said that to get his attention if he ever read it. He probably won't.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Songs I'm obsessed with: Sarah McLachlan - "When She Loved Me"

Do you remember seeing that famous ASPCA ad with all those cute, abused dogs and cats set to that heart-wrenching music? You know, the ad it was almost impossible not to cry watching? (unless you don't have a soul, of course). The music you hear in that ad is the song "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. The ad made the song famous twice over, already having been a hit when it came out in the 80's.

Do you remember seeing Toy Story 2? You know, the dark sequel to the original hit, first-feature-length animated film? (unless you don't have a soul, of course). The song you heard during Jessie's incredibly sad rejection montage is called "When She Loved Me," also by Sarah Mclachlan. Unfortunately, the song is much less famous than "Angel," but I suppose that's understandable, as many more people likely saw the ad than the movie, and the movie wasn't really as good as the original anyway (though still excellent).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: The Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic

The Flaming Lips have this amazing talent for merging lovable melodies with highly experimental sounds and instrumentals. From Zaireeka onward you can hear examples of this in songs like "A Spoonful Weights A Ton" and "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion." (which I've included in a separate playlist. "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" cannot be found on or YouTube, so you'll have to settle for a live version or iTunes).

But that's not the case with Clouds Taste Metallic. It's amazing for an entirely different reason.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland

UPDATE: is now working and I've added a more convenient playlist to the review. However, I thought the music video for "Crosstown Traffic" was so cool that I figured I should just leave it up anyway.

I decided I wanted to do Electric Ladyland pretty much as soon as I started it, despite my earlier post saying I might not. Even as "...And The Gods Made Love" began, I knew I had a lot of things to say about this album.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Final Fantasy Adventures: Final Fantasy

What I've decided to do is play through each and every numbered Final Fantasy game, starting with the first and ending with XIII, excluding XI and XIV because they don't count. So really it'll only be twelve games. Twelve games that average 30 hours each. This is the first installment, where I talk about the first game in the series.

Review: Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Let me start out by saying this: How could I possibly have ever fallen in love with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank compared to this album? Clearly some mistake has been made: a mistake that replaced the idea that I wanted that album first instead of this one. Then again, I guess I should have gotten We Were Dead first, then I wouldn't have been disappointed by it. I knew this album was better as soon as I got to the end of "The World At Large," when I wanted to listen to it transition to "Float On" over and over again (I had been listening to "Float On" for a much longer time beforehand, and I had always wondered what the meaning of that opening tone was).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Regarding the reviews...

I don't want to make the impression that I will be doing these every day, despite my daily habit of listening to new music. I've recently had a backlog of albums that I've taken a while to get to, and I've been trying to get through them recently. I usually do reviews for the albums I listen to, unless there are odd circumstances, like when I went on vacation recently and I didn't have time to write up whole reviews for albums, or unless I feel I shouldn't review the album for whatever reason, like if too many people like it and, should I have to say something bad about it, I'll get a few nasty comments and emails. Then again, I'm only pretending I have readers, aren't I?

What I want to do is try to have at least one review a week, with more if I want to or less if I have to. Right now I only have seven albums in my backlog: Remain in Light, Electric Ladyland, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, Clouds Taste Metallic, A Thousand Suns, Ready To Die, and Imagine. I might not do Electric Ladyland, simply because it's a timeless classic and it's kind of hard to put my word to it. I also probably won't do Imagine for the same reason. If for whatever reason I can't get at least one new review on the site, I have a backlog of reviews from which I can draw, and I can also review one of the many albums in my collection that I haven't put any words to.

Review: Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

What am I doing with a Wu-Tang Clan album? Aren't I the one who once spoke out against rap like this? It's not drugs and women this time, though, it's guns and crime, the very music parents all across the country fear. But also, I am the one who speaks out in favor of open-mindedness, and I try not to hate things I haven't even heard before. Now that I've heard this group, I'm free to hate them as much as I want. ...Or not?

All of a Sudden...

I want a Jay-Z album. The Black Album, it's called. Remember "99 Problems"? Yeah, that's on there.

I remember stumbling through the Internet one day when I came upon a list of the top ten albums of the last decade. This list had not one, but two Dream Theater albums on it (Octavarium and Train of Thought), which I found astonishing. That someone would actually consider Dream Theater for any top ten list, much less albums of the decade. I guess my impression was that no one actually liked them enough to include them in a list counting down good things. It's not that I dislike Dream Theater, I used to love them (and still do), just that I've moved on to bigger and better things.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Progress Report

I call myself a writer-in-training because I haven't really put that much out yet. I have been published, actually. I entered four pieces of writing into a writing competition: two poems, an essay and a short story to the poetry, essay and short story divisions respectively. The essay won second place in its area and the short story won third in its. As a result, they were published along with the other winners in the school's honor society's publication, The Eclectic. I also published a poem in the school's literary magazine The Alternative. These are all achievements I hold in high regard, because I never had anything published before. I intend to enter next year too, and maybe I'll place a little higher and win some money.

Review: Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers

One of the problems I sometimes have with popular music today is the lack of consideration for the whole album. The digital revolution brings about benefits, but the biggest problem is the emphasis on the single instead of the album, so when the album turns into just a collection of singles, often attention is paid just to three or four "radio-friendly" songs and the rest is practically garbage. The funny thing about double albums is that once one considers making it, one considers the album entirely. The irony sets in when you realize that you've created a larger degree of songs that are really quite well-made, instead of just three or four songs worthy of radio play. That degree seems to expand even more when the case of a double album is considered. I'm not really sure what it is about double albums, but when I listen to one, there are so many more great songs, like one for every two instead of one for every four. Take, for instance, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by Smashing Pumpkins. That album contains 28 songs and well over half are incredible, where the others, though not as good, are still very enjoyable. Also consider Embryonic by the Flaming Lips. If you can get past the extremely avant-garde noise, you'll find about half the songs are excellent.

Songs I'm Obsessed With: The Count of Tuscany by Dream Theater

Please, if you have a spare twenty minutes, I implore you to press the play button at the bottom of the post and listen to this song as you read.

This is something I'm hoping to get into doing on a weekly basis: posting about a song I've recently taken a liking to. If you want to suggest something, comment or email. Just remember that I have to not only like the song, but I have to pretty much get hooked on it to the point that I have to listen over and over again.