Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Nameless One

My wife is into naming cars. Her first car was named Meridith; this is what Meridith looked like:

(Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company)

That's a 1993 Ford Escort. The color was black. Stick shift. Nice little car. I taught her how to drive it (she hadn't driven stick before) and she was great.

When we got married, we had the Escort and a 1998 Chevy Cavalier that looked like this:

Apparently she didn't like this car very much because she named it Donkey Ass. I assume she was just using two synonymns for the beast of burden. She couldn't possibly mean anything else.

Then, I got into a car wreck in Donkey Ass and it got totaled, so we went and bought a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which she named The Rugged Gentleman, obviously she liked this car much better.

The Rugged Gentleman
was a great drive. It handled really smoothly and was by far the best car I had ever owned. We decided that the payments were too much for us and that we wanted to get out of debt, so we sold it to my mom (she still drives it now).

With the money we got from the sale of The Rugged Gentleman, we purchased two vehicles.
One, a 2001 Mazda Tribute for my wife to drive; she named it The Lasso.

I don't think we ever took ours anywhere quite this nice looking. Ours didn't have a sun/moon roof either. I liked the Mazda. It had some pep to it, nice engine for a smallish SUV and it fit our needs for car seats at the time. We drove it until the air conditioning started going out (a sure sign of death in Arizona!). We traded it in for our current vehicle, which I will get to in a minute. She named it The Lasso after her brother sent her a picture of his facial hair, which was side burns that wrapped into a lasso on his cheek. As a fan of facial hair, I was intrigued and liked it. I'll try and find the picture to post here.

The other vehicle we purchased was for me to drive; a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer.

It's a stick (and definitely not as shiny as the one in the photo). I'm using it as a commuter car (~40 miles round trip per day, to and from work). One of the hubcaps is missing and the front left tire has some issue that I need to get looked at again (yes, I had it looked at a month or so ago).

I refuse to name this car. My wife may very well replace "Lancer" with "Judge Reinhold" or "Fritz McGovern" in her mind when we talk about the car. I just don't know. I don't know why I refuse to name my car, perhaps I just don't get attached to vehicles the way she does. I see a car as something to get me from point A to point B. As long as it has A/C (we do live in Arizona after all) I am ok with just about anything (except a New Beetle...don't like those).

Now, on to the car we got when the A/C started going out on The Lasso. It's a 2008 Honda Odyssey.
She named this one Dusty Miller; even my daughter calls it that. I really love this vehicle. It drives VERY well, the features are great (DVD, MP3, headphones for the screen, leather, back-up camera, etc). I even love the color of this car. It drives smooth...smoooooooth. It gets pretty good gas mileage, and fits our car seat space needs at this point. Lots more room for travel too.

I NEVER refer to these vehicles by the name that my has given them. I say "the van," "the Lancer," "the Mazda," "the Cavalier," etc. Again, I don't know what I have against it, perhaps if I were talking to a shrink they might suppose it's because I don't want to become too attached or something, but who knows. Maybe one day, I'll give in and name the Lancer, but I don't think so.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Senor Cardgage owns Norton Furniture

If you aren't familiar with who Senor Cardgage is, please see the following Homestarrunner Wiki entry

The voice of Mark (you can count on that being his name) reminds me so much of Senor Cardgage.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One Hit Wonders

I often find a song from a band that I really, really like. The problem is, I think to myself, "Gee, if I like this song, I will probably like more of their songs." Most of the time I am sadly disappointed.

Let's look at a few examples:

1. The Redwalls - Summer Romance

Sadly, this is the best video I could find on YouTube...doesn't do the song justice.

I can listen to this song over and over. To me, it sounds like something that The Beatles would have put together. The slow build, rowdy interlude and back to the slow melodic verses. I really, really like this song. So, again, I thought to myself, "I have to check out the rest of their stuff, it's probably just as awesome!" WRONG. I couldn't find another song by them that I liked. Perhaps I didn't give them enough of a shot; perhaps I was asking for too much out of them, and maybe I'll check them out again. I put them on my list of one hit wonders; bands that I can only find one song I like.

2. Avenged Sevenfold - Seize the Day

The first thing I have to mention about this is the part of the video where the guy starts into his guitar solo on top of the coffin. CLASSY. I want someone to do a guitar solo on top of my coffin when I die. That would be awesome. Back to the song.

This song has a certain raw quality to it that I really like. The lead singer's voice is both melodic and raw at the same time. The guitar solo in the middle has a great sound to it and I like the speed change in the middle. Again, I went looking for other songs by Avenged Sevenfold, didn't find a single one that I could even listen to more than one time.

3. M.I.A - Paper Planes

Paper Planes Video

I have a buddy who HATES this song, which might be part of the reason I like it so much. Actually, I really, really like the beat on this song, and I like the usage of the gunshots and cash register as percussive "instruments." The lyrics are pretty much nonsense to me, but they are ok. It's a good song to relax to, as the beat is nice and slow and doesn't require a lot of thought. I listened to some of M.I.A.'s other stuff and thought it was crap, pure and utter crap.

I don't know what it is that catches my fancy on some of these songs, they just inch their way into my head and I dig them. I wish I could find another band that I liked more than 3 or 4 of their songs (I like a majority of the Beatles), but I haven't found a band like that yet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Code looks terrible

Source code looks terrible on here...any tips to making it look nicer?

Update: adding a pre tag around the code makes it at least format somewhat correctly...

C++ is fun again!

Lately at work I've been playing around with C++ and the Boost libraries; specifically I have been using Boost.Any, Boost.Filesystem, Boost.Program_ptions, Boost.Python, and last but not least Boost smart pointers.

These libraries, in conjunction with some of my own macros and setup have made for a very nice transition back to C++ from C#. The awesome things about C# are the class libraries and the syntactic sugar (foreach, lambdas, anonymous methods). Similar things can be done with C++ and Boost (Boost.Foreach, etc).

I'm going to talk about the way I've setup my command line options parsing, to give you an idea as to how I am using Boost.

First off, I have a static class called OptionsParser which looks like this:

class OptionsParser 
  static bool isParsed(void);
  static void parseOptions(const std::vector<std::string>& options);
  static void registerOptions(const std::string& owner, const boost::program_options::options_description& options);
  static void printAllOptions(std::ostream& output);
  static const std::vector<std::string> getUnrecognizedOptions(void) const;

  template<class T>
  static T getValue(const std::string& option, T def)
    T result = def;
      throw std::exception("You must call parseOptions before trying to retrieve values");

      result = _variables_map[option].as<T>();

    return result;

  template<class T>
  static T getValue(const std::string& option)
    T result;
      throw std::exception("You must call parseOptions before trying to retrieve values");

      result = _variables_map[option].as<T>();

    return result;


  static boost::program_options::variables_map _variables_map;
  static bool _parsed;
  static std::vector<std::string> _unrecognized;
  static boost::program_options::options_description* _all_options;
The real meat of this class are the two methods registerOptions and parseOptions.

registerOptions is used from the constructor of some static class instances I have which setup the options when statics are initialized (before main).

The OptionsProvider class is what I use for this, along with some macros:

class OptionDefinition
  OptionDefinition(const std::string& option_string, boost::program_options::value_semantic* value, const std::string& description);

  const std::string& getOptionString(void) const;
  const boost::program_options::value_semantic* getValueSemantic(void) const;
  const std::string& getDescription(void) const;
  std::string _option_string;
  boost::program_options::value_semantic* _value_semantic;
  std::string _description;

class OptionsProvider
  OptionsProvider(const std::string& owner, const std::string& description, OptionDefinition* options[]);
  virtual ~OptionsProvider(void);

  const std::string& getOwner(void) const;
  const std::string& getDescription(void) const;
  const boost::program_options::options_description& getOptions(void) const;

  std::string _owner;
  std::string _description;
  boost::program_options::options_description _options;

#define BEGIN_OPTIONS_ARRAY(owner) static OptionDefinition* Options##owner[] = { 
#define DECLARE_OPTION(option_string, value_type, description) new OptionDefinition((option_string), \
new boost::program_options::typed_value<value_type>(NULL), \
#define DECLARE_BOOL_OPTION(option_string, description)   new OptionDefinition((option_string), \
(new boost::program_options::typed_value<bool>(NULL))->default_value(0)->zero_tokens(), \

#define DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION(option_string, value_type, def_value, description) new OptionDefinition((option_string), \
(new boost::program_options::typed_value<value_type>(NULL))->default_value(def_value), \
#define END_OPTIONS_ARRAY()  NULL };   // add terminator to the end of the list

#define DECLARE_OPTIONS_PROVIDER(owner, description) static OptionsProvider OptionsProvider##owner(#owner, description, Options##owner);

#define OPTIONS_PROVIDER(owner) OptionsProvider##owner
Now, here is an example usage of these macros:

DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION("testid", unsigned long, 0L, "Step ID from automation")
DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION("timeout", int, -1, "Number of seconds before stopping a\ntest with a timeout result")
DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION("board-path", fs::path, fs::path("boards"), "Path to directory containing board libraries")
DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION("test-config", fs::path, fs::path(""), "Path to file containing the test configuration")
DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION("manager-path", fs::path, fs::path("managers"), "Path to directory container manager libraries")
DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION("output-dir", fs::path, fs::path("output"), "Path to output directory")

DECLARE_OPTIONS_PROVIDER(TestManager, "TestManager options")
This sets up the array and then creates a static OptionsProvider instance which will register the options with the OptionParser static class. Then I can just call OptionsParser::parseOptions(vector_created_from_argv) and it will parse all the options into the boost::program_options::variables_map.

If I have a plug-in class that is loaded later, I just do something like this after it's options have been registered:

I could probably just have an overload of parseOptions with no parameter and have it automatically use the unrecognized options, but I haven't decided on that yet.

Then in my classes I can do stuff like this to get option values:

_testid = OptionsParser::getValue<int>("test-id");
to retrieve the value. If I used DECLARE_DEFAULT_OPTION, it automatically sets up the default value since the boost library sets that up. If I don't, then I'd probably call the getValue overload that takes a default value.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I won't prepare you for this photograph except to say: this is one of the greatest photographs ever taken.


A couple people that I have reconnected with on Facebook have asked for some pictures of my kids. So, since I think my kids are pretty much the cutest (and what self respecting father doesn't?! the only difference in this case is that I am right...buahahahahah!)

This is one of my favorite pictures of my daughter. She looks so completely innocent that it makes me smile. Then you add the puppy face makeup on top of it, and there just isn't anything more I can say. She got this face paint do-up at the open house we had when the market didn't suck as much as it does now (it still sucked then too though). We had a couple people come look at the house, but I think this picture might be the highlight for me...oh...and the AWESOME florescent green with gold faux overcoat paint job in our bedroom. I didn't sleep well for several weeks.
This is the Girl in all her Joy School Graduation glory. She was smiling to humor me I'm sure, as she would have much rather been outside playing with her school mates. She did great during her program, she kept an eye on the boy who was rubbing his eyes the ENTIRE time during singing. Afterwards, she asked "Why was so-and-so rubbing his eyes during all the songs?" I didn't have a good answer, but at least she made sure he was ok and didn't let the singing interrupt her watching him.

No, my boy is not staring at the wall. What you can't see is the television that is in the little alcove not 2 feet in front of him (ok, more like three or four). His favorite spot for television is one of two places: as close as he can get physically to the television, or tucked nicely in next to me on the sofa. I prefer that latter.
Slide-o-Wife made this outfit for my boy from a button up shirt she found at the DI. I've been trying to convince her she should sell them based on the number of comments I've gotten at church from various mothers as to how they wished they had one. I haven't had success yet. The wheelbarrow in the background sat in that position for roughly 8 months after my wonderful wife went out and did some weeding for the first time ever in her life (j/k). I piled more weeds on it about a month after this picture was taken and then finally disposed of it all when half of it blew around the yard during a storm. Sweet.

So, there are my kids. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Don't Read My Blog

I'm trying some reverse psychology on the lot of you...

Chili con Family

My family has been out of town for nearly a week (Tuesday). When my family is out of town that usually means I stay up REALLY late writing code, browsing the web and general geekery. This time has been completely different. I've stayed up REALLY REALLY late writing code, browsing the web and general geekery.

I miss my family quite a bit. It's the small things that really get to me and make me into a sappy dork (which I don't mind). I miss when my wife wakes up just a little bit when I am leaving and says "I love you" in her sleepy voice, and then falling right back to sleep like it never happened. I miss my daughter wanting to type her name on my computer. I miss my son getting so excited when I get home that he shakes a little bit. My wife is the noticer and rememberer in the family (she can remember outfits she wore when she was three, I have a hard time remembering what I wore yesterday without looking in the dirty clothes hamper), and it's not until I don't have something that I realize how much I notice and how much comfort it brings me.

My wife would insert a comment on how sappy I am...I miss the way she makes fun of me... :-)

This coming week I am committing myself to running again. I used to run 6 miles a day (3 in the morning and 3 at night) and I actually really enjoyed it. It's hard to start back up again after 3 years of not doing it though. I can often find rationalizations for not going out, but once I'm out and hit my stride, I do like it.

The intervals program I did a couple weeks ago was pretty good as well. It is supposed to increase the amount of oxygen your body can process, and increase your speed over all. I liked the results (and the workout I got from it) when I did it and need to get back doing it.

Dirty Little Secret 6

Macy Gray - I Try

What the crap am I thinking?

Let's tally up the things against her (and this song):
  1. Her voice is scratchy and annoying
  2. The guy in the video is more feminine than she is
  3. All her songs seem to be about someone leaving, beating or betraying her...sucky for her
  4. the hair...I
  5. she's not Serj Tankian
  6. the video is about as exciting as watching dirt

You can see below two videos that relate to this song. The first is the actual music video from this pile of crap that I can't stop myself from listening to over and over. Why, oh why do I love crap?! I guess I can't really call it crap since I like it, but I should think its crap.

I think it's the chorus of this song that really gets to me. I like the progression during the chorus and later in the song, the raw sound that she has in her voice. It also has the infamous step up that I once heard is what makes a lot of songs popular and mainstream, people like that change in key.

Here's the video and then a parody following it by the Wayan's Brothers.

Friday, July 18, 2008


We have been using an open source library called ExcelPackage at work for generating spreadsheets based on some data from a database. I really like the library, the API is nice and easy and allows for some powerful stuff. There are some things that I would like added (and some other people have things they want added), but the developer seems to have disappeared.

I decided to fork the project and so have created the ExML project on CodePlex. I was originally thinking of calling it ButterCover (I was tired when I came up with it), but changed to ExML later.

Please put requests in the discussions are on the project and I'll try and implement them as quickly as I can.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Schmuck...That's Right! Frank Schmuck

Photo: Brant Clinard, Ahwatukee Foothills News

While driving to work one day, my brother (who I carpool with) pointed out a sign that read.

"Vote Schmuck...That's Right! Frank Schmuck".

I laughed out loud for several minutes and made several jokes with my brother ("They let any schmuck run for office these days", "Boy, another schmuck in office...what's so new about that?" and so on and so forth). Then I began to realize how genius the ad campaign is. How many more people will remember a sign for a guy with the last name Schmuck?! It seems to me that if you have a last name like Schmuck, you've got to use it to your advantage.

On, Mr. Schmuck's website there is a note about the origin of the name Schmuck (German for jewel or jewelry...which makes me wonder how it got the negative conotation it has in the US). This lead me to wikipedia, where I found the following article explaining how schmuck came into the English language from Yiddish. (Yiddish is a cool word by the way).

Anyway, I don't know much about Mr. Schmuck in terms of his positions on issues, nor do I live in his voting district, but he has my support purely on the merits of his ingenious play on his last name.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dirty Little Secret 5

This is another really really shameful song that I like. I just looked up the video for the first time today and it made me like this song even more. There are just those songs that you wonder what the crap makes you like them and this is one of them. I can seriously listen to this song over and over, much to the chagrin of my wife I am sure.

I don't know that there is anything I can say to redeem myself from this song, so I leave it up to you, the reader to find one thing you like about this song. Just one little thing!

Sadly...I can find many...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Poop Freeze

I really hope the people who came up with this product make a lot of money off of it. I'm not saying that because I would ever buy some, nor would I ever probably use it. We don't generally take my dog on walks where he drops a load (nor are his loads that bad to deal with since he weighs a whole 4 pounds).

The sales pitch by the inventor must have gone something like this...

Inventor: "So, I have this product that will make it easier for dog owners to retrieve the dog waste while they are out on a walk. It will completely revolutionize taking your dog for a walk!"

Company: "Some sort of pole that you can carry to make it so you don't have to bend over? Maybe some sort of device to instantly desinigrate the feces so you don't have to deal with it at all?"

Inventor: "No, even better! It's a spray can that you spray the feces with to freeze it!"

Company: *blank stare*

Inventor: "Frozen feces will be much easier for people to get a handle on and the feeling is much better, no one likes picking up the warm feces from the ground."

Company: *blank stare*

Inventor: "The best part is the name I came up with, are you ready for this?! 'Poop Freeze'!"

Company: *blank stare*

If you, or anyone you know has ever used 'Poop Freeze,' please leave a comment with your experience.

Also, here is the website and commercial.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dirty Little Secret 4

This one is a whopper. I should prepare you for this one. This is probably the one I am most ashamed of liking. The sheer crap factor that this band has is roughly a 10 on a scale of 1 to 5. They are horrible, and yet I love this song.

The first time I heard this song, I thought it was a remix of a Jackson 5 song, which ups the respectability of the song (a little) because it would have originally been done under the Motown label. Come on, Motown people!

Later I found out who really sings the song (after I had downloaded it and listened to it for a while) and I was floored. I had heard of the band, and participated with my friends in making fun of them.

My wife even has a story about them where a friend mentioned that he didn't like their music but the one chick was hot. Note, there are no chicks in the band.

So, for the big reveal I'm going to leave it to you to go to the YouTube link below and see the stinker of a song that I can listen to over and over and over and not get tired of it. I must have sinned in my childhood to like this song.


This one is not embedded because the people over at Universal wanted to keep this gem all to themselves.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dirty Little Secret 3

Donna Lewis - I Love You Always Forever

My wife recently asked me why most of my dirty little secret songs are sung by women. It made me pause and consider for a moment, until I realized it was pretty simple. Women don't generally sing the kind of music that is in my normal genre areas (rock varieties such as alternative, hard, etc). Also, much of the other music I listen to is mostly instrumental (jazz, classical, etc) so, this leaves little room for women singers to be in my main genres. They fill up my dirty little secrets rather well though.

This dirty little secret is and older song, 12 years old in fact. I was 15 years old 12 years ago. This is a song that I don't really know why I like it so much. Her voice is soft and sweet and the rhythm is nice, but that's not usually enough to get me hooked. Perhaps its the "girl next door" nature of Donna Lewis. She sounds like a nice girl that lives down the street.

Anyway, the video is below. Her hair and clothes are awesome 90's clothes. Good times.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

I'll be honest at the get go on this one. I never heard this song until I saw the awesome 8-bit music video from below. The video was what originally drew me into my enjoyment of this song. The full 8-bit glory of Rivercity Ransom and various other video games is great. It took my back to my childhood, back to those glory days of summer playing Zelda or Tetris for 9 hours and stuffing my face full of snacks. I wonder if that has anything to do with me being overweight...nah.

This song is one I enjoy outside the confines of the 8-bit music video these days. I don't know if this song would be characterized as techno or not (which I normally don't like very much techno...very little in fact), but the mix is great. This is one of the songs I really enjoy for working out. The tempo is good for a jog or for getting pumped up on the free weights.

Dirty Little Secret 2

Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel

Let me start this post out by saying how much I really dislike country music in general. I don't like twangy, country drawl music. The most amusing thing about my liking this song is how twangy it is and how much they sing with a country drawl. Everything I despise about country music is epitomized in this song.

The redeeming part of this song is the harmony. I love really good harmonies in songs.

My favorite part is the third chorus:

Walkin' to the south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly
Had a nice long toke
But he's a headed west from the Cumberland Gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee
And I gotta get a move on fit for the sun
I hear my baby callin' my name
And I know that she's the only one
And if I die in Raleigh
At least I will die free

This part has good harmonies with the backup singers in a'capella.

As much as I dislike country music, I can listen to this song over and over and over. Just ask slide-o-lovie.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


My friend Cauley took this test and challenged me to it.

88 words


This was on my home keyboard which I don't type on a lot. I'll try on my work keyboard later.

Dirty Little Secret 1

To start of my "Dirty Little Secret" series of music blogs, I'll start out with a real kicker.

Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone

Oh, why, oh why do I like this song?! Many times my dirty little secret songs are not clear to me why I like them. This song is no different. It combines several things that I normally do not like.

  1. Kelly Clarkson

  2. Kelly Clarkson

  3. Teeny Bop Music Kelly Clarkson

As you can tell, I am not a fan of Kelly Clarkson at all. I don't like American Idol (shock!) and anyone to come from American Idol is a marketing ploy at best. Which is why it shames me to say that I love this song. One redeeming quality of this song is that it was written by Avril Lavigne who is a somewhat better musician than Kelly Clarkson.

I can't tell you why I like this song; it does shame me to say I do.

Embedding was disabled on this one, so you'll have to click here to see the video.

Please leave comments on why I should be ashamed for liking this song, or about songs you have that are your dirty little secrets. I'll continue with another winner next time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

dirty little secrets

I'm going to be taking my music exploration into a little different direction. I know everyone has these, they don't want to tell their friends, their significant other, their family, or even their dog; they love those songs that they "shouldn't". These are what I call my dirty little secrets. Songs that I love and can listen to over and over, but have no depth, sometimes very little musicality and sometimes are so cheesy you could make nachos. Over the next couple of posts, I will be introducing you to a few of my dirty little secrets; putting them out there for the mockery and shame that should be mine for liking them. You be the judge, shame me, mock me, do whatever you like, but I will always hold these dirty little secrets in high regard. If you're brave enough, maybe you'll comment with some of your dirty little secrets too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


System of a Down - B.Y.O.B

I really like System of a Down (mainly because of Serj). I like the lyrical nature of their songs, that they mix in with heavy, heart pounding, head banging rock and roll. I think that's what I like most about them; the contrast they have in their music. Serj tends to be more lyrical, as is shown in his solo efforts (while the other guys from SoaD tend to be the heavier influence). I still like Serj's solor stuff, but not much of the other guys' stuff.

The particular reasons I like this song are as follows:

  • The driving rock at the beginning would make any older person roll up their window quickly if I pulled up next to them while blasting the song in my car (I really like doing that for some reason).

  • The "la la la la la la la la la" part is a great little ditty that sticks in my head for a long time. I normally don't like that, but with this song, it works for me.

  • I really like the guitar part in the bridge before the "la la la la la" part. It is a cool little syncopated rhythm.

  • This song is just fun to listen to. I am a software developer by trade and this song is a good one to program to.

  • Make up your own reason why I like this song, do I have to spoon feed you people?!

Here's the Lego version of the music video.

And here is the real version. I really like how Serj looks like an evil Weird Al Yankovic.

Chop Suey!

System of a Down - Chop Suey!

Another one in the System of a Down series.

I just really dig a lot of System of a Down stuff. I dig the harmonies, the different guitar sounds in the same song (hard and soft riffs), and I dig some of the subject matter.

Why I like this song:

  • The guitar riff at the beginning has the sound of a good Spanish-in-your-face dance number, then grows with the drums into a driving force of pure joy.

  • I once played this song for a co-worker who is 20 years older, he asked me when it came to the heaviest sections "What's the point?!" Referring to what he thought was the lack of musicality or lyric nature of those parts. My take on them is that they provide a distinct antithesis to the lyrical parts of the song. When he then goes into the "trust in my self righteous suicide" portion, the distinction is rather clear between that and the driving parts.

  • As with most System of a Down songs, I really enjoy the harmonies on this song. They fit well with the background and kind of pump me up.

I found this really cool Lego version of the music video on YouTube and couldn't resist. Enjoy!

Lonely Day

System of a Down - Lonely Day

Lonely Day was one of those songs that I heard on the radio that I thought to myself, "That song is awesome, I wonder who it is." I had listened to a lot of SOAD by that time, but this one sounded a little different at first. I figured out later that is was mainly because Serj was not the main singer on the track. I do like Serj quite a bit (see this post), but the other main singer Daron has the perfect voice for this song. SOAD is great on their songs because, like the Beatles, they choose the singer based on the song, they don't try and force every single song to one singer.

Why I like this song:

  • It contains soft, medium and hard elements. I love music that can fit into many categories.

  • The harmonies, as with most SOAD songs I like, are great. The mix of Serj and Daron's voices is perfect, especially on this one where Serj doesn't dominate as in many other SOAD songs.

  • The guitar riff at the beginning is simple and leads well into the opening vocals "Such a lonely day...and it's mine"

  • The poor grammar of "the most loneliest day of my life" is a perfect fit for the message of the song.

  • I'm a software engineer and this song is great to code to. Perfect mix as I mentioned above.

See the video after the jump.

I found some awesome new videos to use on YouTube. They aren't the official music video from the band, but I think you'll enjoy them. Starting next post.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Empty Walls

Serj Tankian - Empty Walls

I really like System of a Down. The harmonies they use are awesome and the driving beat is cool too. They have a pretty wide variety of styles that they play, although heavier is definitely their style.

Serj Tankian is the lead singer of System of a Down. The band to a hiatus from making albums and Serj came out with a solo album. The first time I heard this song, I thought it was SOAD, but when I looked it up, it was Serj. You can tell who has a lot of artistic involvement in SOAD's songs.

Why I like this song:

  • There are several different styles: soft melodic, hard driving, crazy sounding lyrics and more!

  • Serj's voice is perfect for the type of music he sings. He has some hard edges, but underneath is a good set of pipes.

  • The harmonies in this song are great. The background singers seem to take the place of the second singer in SOAD pretty well, although nothing can really replace the harmonies he and Serj sing in Lonely Day

  • This song is great to code to, it doesn't take a lot of thought to listen to in enjoyment mode (deep thought mode works with this song too, the message from this song, and the video is quite clear, something SOAD has lacked a little in their most recent popular songs).

To Build a Home

Cinematic Orchestra - To Build a Home

I don't remember where I first heard this song. I think it was linked on some music blog, but I thought it was one of the greatest songs I had ever heard. It reminded me of Coldplay before their second album (which I don't like by the way). The melody is fantastic and the lead singer's voice is perfect for this song. The simple piano under the voice, just emphasizes the simplicity of the first part of the song. I think I played this song so much that Wife doesn't like it much anymore, but I normally do that with any song that I really start liking. This is one of those songs that I can listen to over and over, and have done so on several occasions.

Why I like it:

  • Starts out very simple, and builds to an awesome climax. The simplicity of the piano at the beginning, and then the addition of the strings as it goes along is awesome.

  • I am a sucker for piano and strings in rock/pop music.

  • The lyrics are not overdone. They are simple, to the point, yet deep. There are some good metaphors for life and stuff.

  • My favorite line in the whole song is "I climbed a tree to see the world." I don't know why it is my favorite, but it is.

This is not an official video from the song, but I thought it was pretty good.

Next post will be about something harder.

Friday, January 18, 2008

You're Beautiful

This post is about James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"

My wife turned me on to this song. She hears things on the radio, or on TV and asks me to find them for her. At first, I really didn't like this song, but as with many songs that I don't like at first, as I listened to it more I found things that I really liked about it.

  • The clean guitar that starts it all out is fantastic. I love the riff and how it melds in with the background stuff that is going on.

  • I love how parts of this song almost feel like they don't fit, but then they do. Near the end when he sings "There must be angel with a smile on her face, when she thought up that I should be with you" it almost doesn't fit with the rest of the song. It's saving grace to me is the rhythm he sings the second part in

  • This song fits into my guilty pleasure arena with it's "cheesy" nature, but it seems to do it with a lot of depth. It's the same old story of someone seeing someone and falling in love but knowing they will never be with that person, but in this case I think it's done a bit more classy than the 80's butt rock that used this theme very often.

Apparently, as you can see in this next video. James Blunt likes to be alone in weird places, doing weird things. In "You're Beautiful" he is alone and taking off his clothes in a very cold place. In this one he is alone in a weird room sitting in a chair singing to no one and running through the woods by himself. An odd man.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hocus Pocus

In the coming weeks I will be highlighting some of the songs that I think are really cool, especially live. This week, we'll be looking at a Dutch group from the early seventies called Focus. I haven't heard anything else by them, ever. This is the only song that I have ever heard and I have to say, I even like this version better than the album version. The great things about this video are:

  1. The lead "singer's" (I put it in quotes because he mainly just yodels, I don't if that is officially singing in my book) facial expressions are great in comparison to the lackadaisical looks on the faces of the rest of the band.

  2. This seems to be about 125% of the speed of the normal album cut, and yet, again the lackadaisical looks on the faces of the band members.

  3. Overall, this song is just a great mix of different stuff. It's got some Jethro Tull type stuff in there (obvious one with the flute), but it also has some stuff that reminds me of Deep Purple, and some other bands.

Take a listen (and watch it too, for pure entertainment value) and let me know what you think with a comment.