Anti (insert subculture here) Clash

Another subculture clash is happening in Mexico right now. This time it's Emo vs. Punk and Metal. It began when those metalheads and punks started assaulting the Emo kids on the streets. Now the Emo kids are organizing to defend themselves. Another pointless subculture fight, like the Mods vs. Rockers and Hair Metal vs. Grunge decades before them. Why pointless? Because their victory is only subjective. Everybody wins, everybody lose, depending on perspective.

Speaking of Hair Metal and Grunge, I've found a fun article a few years ago entitled: Hair Metal vs. Grunge; Just Who Survived. I dug this up to show as an example that the victors in subculture clashing is subjective. I mean, take this hair metal-leaning writer for example. He said that:

"But we’re in 2005 now, and both decades have ended. And if you look around (and I mean look beyond the obvious), you’ll start noticing that Hair Metal is still there[...]everyone needs good upbeat songs all the time and this is why Hair Metal is still around and Grunge is not."
For him, hair metal is still around because he looks for it, beyond the obvious. If you ask some grunger, I think they'll say the same thing. To the emo kids, both genres are dead to them.


Online Shopping Neophyte

I reprove of online shopping, or at least I did. Now, however, I'm beginning to raid its outer sphere. Ever since we've relocated [to our new home] last January, I just don't have the time to go to retail stores anymore. Besides, gas prices are now soaring sky high. So driving a couple miles to the mall just to get a CD , a book, or a game seems unpractical and a waste of both time and gas money. So, the reason of my foray into online shopping -while I do like it also because I can find great deals- is really out of convenience.

A Journey Round My Skull and The Ten Cent Plague, fresh from Amazon.

I've already ordered and received some stuff from Amazon.com, and it's not as bad as I thought it was (online shopping, that is) . I just didn't want anything with it before because of (a) security concerns, (b) the anticipation of getting the package, and (c) the shipping fees. But I've already learned to allay my anxiousness (of waiting for my items) and avoid paying shipping fees (at the expense of slow delivery). My concerns for my financial and identity security are still there, however. But I'm willing to take risks, calculated risks.


Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 In-Earphones

Ultimate Ears have been founded by a Van Halen sound engineer and have been making customized ear monitors for bands such as U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers, for use in-studio and on-stage. Heck, they even make customized earphones for celebrities like Elijah Wood and Jessica Alba. Their impressive list of clientèle gives off a hint of what kind their product is. But, of course, customized earphones don't come cheap. So, fortunately, for the rest of us who have a tight budget, Ultimate Ears decided to commercialize and mass market their product. Hence, the Super.fi 3 Studio in-earphones.

The Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3, out of the box.

Right off the box, the Super.fi 3 is a uniquely designed earphone that includes some nice accessories. The earphone is cool-looking. It was designed to go deep, and sit comfortably, in your ear canals. Putting them on and finding a proper seal can be a hassle though. The earphone also has a feature that allows you to separate the monitor from the cable. So if your cable goes "kaput" you can just take them, toss them, and replace them with a new one. The earphone also comes with a metallic carrying case, a cleaner pick to remove whatever's stuck on your ear conductor, and four pieces of silicone ear tips that comes in various sizes. Finding the silicone tip that fits perfectly in your ear can also take up some time.

Once you find your desired seal and a perfect silicone tip, however, it just blocks out every sound in the world. Its sound isolation is just far more superior compared to my two other in-ears (Skull Candy Smokin' Buds and Philips SHE-9500). I tried snapping my fingers in front of my face, while wearing it without any music, and could barely hear it. Turn any music device it's attached into and it brings you to a whole new realm where all you hear is just music. The roar of the bus engine and the noise of bickering commuters are all but gone. So it's perfect when you're a commuter. I also had the need to cut my mp3 player's volume in half, dropping it down to 7 (it was on 14 during the time I was using my Philips SHE-9500).

As for the sound it produces, it maybe debatable because it depends on the type of music you're listening to. But every range, the hi, lo, and mid, are audible with it. The bass, however, is almost non-existent. I tried listening to different songs (on 256 kbps), with the EQ on default and bass turned on, using WMP 11, SanDisk Clip, and ZEN Vision:M. It sounds best with indie rock and jazz because the guitars sounded so clear that you can almost taste it. Metal and hard rock also sounds good but the with the weak bass, heavy guitars and drums have less viscosity. Rap, electronica, and other music rich with bass just lacks the thump, as evident with the songs of Nine Inch Nails and Gravity Kills.

Ever since I got my mp3 player, I've been on a quest to find the best earphones under $80. People always say I'm crazy just because I'm willing to shell out more than $20 for a headphone. I'm no audiophile, I just want the best out of my digitized music and movie library. So, almost a after a year of searching (and two earphones), I think Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 is the perfect earphone for me. Being able to listen to music without hearing the roaring bus engine, or being able to hear all of the song's layers and ranges, is just priceless.


Flashy Flash Drives

A couple weeks ago, I suggested to my boss that we should keep back up files of our pre-made checklists and charts and store it in a USB flash drive. So, last night, I got an a memo of approval from my boss and started looking for one that we can use. Well, my search kinda lead me to two websites that sells pretty cool flash drives, ZaNa Designs and Mimobot.

ZaNa Designs sells a pretty chic wood USB flash drives. You can even have customized carvings on your drive. It also has a cap with a string on it so you can wear the drive like an accessory necklace and nobody would know you're wearing a flash drive.

This Star Wars series of USB flash drives are from Mimibot. This is the ultimate geek's and Star Wars fan's USB drive. It's quite ingenious that some of the characters cap (Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader) also doubles as a removable helmet.

This drives are quite expensive though. Even for just 1 GB of memory it costs $60 for Zana and $50 for Star Wars Mimibot. That's like $30 - $20 more as compared to the cheapest drive out there. Nevertheless, if you have the money, this things are pretty cool to own.


Album Reivew: In Rainbows

Radiohead - In Rainbows
9.0 of 10

Just when I thought alternative died with Cobain, Radiohead resuscitated their music with electronica. Thusly, creating brilliant albums -from OK Computer to Hail to the Thief- and a never ending progression of their music. But artists will always see mountains and valleys throughout their career, more so valleys as Young once said to Vedder. So I thought In Rainbows, with its colorful album title, was going to be the valley for Radiohead. Once again, I was proven wrong. Because it [In Rainbows] is a paragon of the saying "simple is beautiful". A modest bit of electronica, some light drumwork, clean sounding guitar riffs, and a slice of Yorke's heavenly voice, as evident in songs "Reckoner" and "Nude", are all it took to make the album a pleasant listen (even though the lyrics are a bit morbid). So if you're a big fan of Radiohead, or couldn't get into them because of the electronica, I highly recommend In Rainbows.


Paint It Gray...Panzer Gray

The weather is gloomy and depressing today but it's finally warm enough for me to paint. So I took my scale model out the garage, opened the door, put some mask on and sprayed away. Also cut out the small parts with different colors and painted them as well. All of this should be dry by Wednesday, just in time for my off, and I'd be able to start assembling some of the parts.


Rediscover Youth

10 (+ something) years ago, I remember watching Alternative Nation on MTV and cringe every time I see Sonic Youth. I just can't dig into their type of noise. Plus, none of their songs have good guitar solos, and a wicked guitar solo was all I needed back then to appreciate a song. But this morning, however, I saw and bought the deluxe edition of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and Dirty.

My action earlier still baffles me until now. I don't know what prompted me to buy those albums. Was it too early and that I didn't had caffeine in my system? Was it because Sonic Youth's version of "Superstar" have been recurringly playing in my head since I saw Juno? Or did I just suffered from another "impulse purchase" attack? Honestly, I think, it's the latter. Because coffee wouldn't made any difference, and if I have been craving for Sonic Youth I could've downloaded some of their songs (legally, of course, for previewing purposes).

Nevertheless, and to my surprise, I find both albums (especially Daydream Nation) to be quite enjoyable and pleasing. Their noise is still noise. But now I can hear its genius amidst the cacophony, while back then it was only an annoying feedback. Listening to the album also made me realize that a lot of newer bands - the ones that I've been listening to - had Sonic Youth's influence. This was very unexpected, I never thought I'd like Sonic Youth. But I guess, like they say with wine and late bloomers, it gets better with age.


Lost by Carrier

I was really pissed last Monday because I didn't receive my package of Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 earbuds (which I ordered from Amazon) on schedule. Moreover, when I used tracking feature over at Amazon's website the status of my package were "Incorrect Address" and then "Lost by Carrier". So I really thought that my money ($70 plus the shipping fee) went down the drain.

Fortunately, UPS called and told me that they couldn't locate my house. Which is understandable since my address isn't on the map yet. So after I gave them directions, I got the package the next day. Which is all the better for me because Amazon will reimburse my shipping fee due to the late delivery.

So now that I got my earbuds, all I can say about them is that they're excellent. I'll probably write a more detailed review of buds sometime next week.


The Guild

I just watched 7 episodes of The Guild over at YouTube. If you don't know anything about it, The Guild is an independent comedy webisode that features the different stereotypes of online gamers. As a gamer myself, and a recently drafted World of Warcraft subscriber, I had a lot of fun watching the sitcom. The webisode also shows the dangers of online gaming which is addiction, and all the complications that comes from it. The main character suffers from depression while some of her guild mates becomes a neglectful mother or an obsessed stalker. I don't know if that's really true but the possibility is highly likely.

Watching the webisode also made me realize that, even though I play a substantial amount of games and that I don't have a budding social life, I'm not a hardcore gamer (as I thought I was) and that I still have a life (not that much, but still). Well, maybe that's only because I'm busy with work and have a lot of hobbies that disrupts my gaming time.


Silicone Augmentation

Last Sunday, I placed an order at Amazon for a Koo Silicone Case for my ZEN Vision: M. It's because my current DLO leather case has just become too bulky, with its belt clip, for me to carry around. I never liked it in the first place, I just didn't had options when I bought my mp3 player. But now that my order had been delivered, I'm pretty happy with my new case.

The new silicone case (left) and the old leather case (right).

The silicone case didn't really made that much of a difference from my old case in terms of bulkiness. But it fits in the pocket of my pants more loosely than before, with its lack of belt clip and the flip cover. My ZEN Vision:M looks much prettier with it too. Because the case covers the whole mp3 player, it conceals the horrendous white battery/hard drive back.

Well there it is. It's very pretty and cheap too. Thus, I'm happy. Now, I feel like shopping for some new earbuds.


Death of a Pioneer

I just found out last week that a 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons will be coming out this summer. Of course, that got me thinking and excited about the numerous PC RPGs that'll be utilizing the new rule set. So last night, at work, I started to browse around for some information in regards to the newest edition. But, sadly, all of my search results are about the death of Gary Gygax, co-creator/developer of D&D.

I don't know anything about the guy except that he created D&D back in 1974. Though that, I think, is all you need to know about him. Without him, there might not have been a Revenge of the Nerds, E.T. might have ended differently, and all computer games that we're playing today would only be Madden or NBA Live. But most importantly, gaming wouldn't exist in my life (and there'll only be 138 posts in my blog), making me a half of a person that I am now (which is really sad because I'm not that much).

So with that said. Rest in peace, Gary Gygax. You're legacy continues and is without no end.


The Art of Warcraft

I bought the World of Warcraft: Battle Chest last Friday. It's a pretty hefty package that includes the original game and the expansion. Plus two -almost- useless strategy guides, three guest passes, and a brochure of Blizzard's product lineup for 2008. What's best though is that I got it for free. My Reward Zone points (for Best Buy) covered its cost.

Though I didn't had the time to play with it until today. But I've been playing the game for 14 hours now, non-stop (just stopped to blog about it). I started with a Human Paladin (you can check out his Armory profile here) on the Silver Hand realm, and I'm turning him into a shield expert, modeled after Captain America, of some sort. That's probably because I still got Cap in my system (after reading his omnibus).

Hopefully, I'd reach level 40, with my current character, by the end of the month. But in order to reach that, because of my work schedule, I may have to start eating here in my room. I may also need a urinal or, better yet, a catheter to eliminate the need for a washroom.


March "To-Do" List

Here's my "To Do" list for this month:

  • Write at least one music review.
  • Learn how to play at least one song.
  • Reach level 40 with my main character in World of Warcraft.
  • Reach level 20 with my support characters in World of Warcraft.
  • Lower my brain age to 30 (my current brain age is 50).
  • Start working on my scale model.
  • Start reading a book.
  • Continue practicing alternate picking/string skipping until I can cleanly play at 150 bps.
Last month's to do list:
  • Write a game review for "The Witcher". (Half way done but decided to write a review for the enhanced version)
  • Write at least one music review. (Done. The Mars Volta and Protest The Hero)
  • Play and finish a game. (Done. The Elder Scrolls III: Oblivion)
  • Read and finish a book. (None. Graphic Novels don't count)
  • Start working on my scale model. (None. Can't start painting due to low temperatures)
  • Continue practicing alternate picking/string skipping until I can cleanly play at 150 bps. (None. But can play cleanly at 140 bps)