Friday, April 30, 2010

Lyrics Are Important (Part Five)

by Chris McGinty

So let’s get on to the lines of the poem, and how they relate to the situation I’ve described.

A moment with the text book
And an index card in the glossary

The text book is referring to a historical text book, and the index card is marking the place where Mary faded from my thoughts and the other woman became the center of them. “Pavlov’s Bell” makes three references to history at the end of the choruses:

History shows there’s not a chance in Hell

History shows, but rarely shows it well

History shows, so baby show and tell

If you think that I’m being too vague by not mentioning that the textbook is historical, then read on, and you will see the hints that it is.

All too much time in the bathroom
With a mirror, screaming Mary
I want you
I want you to take it all away

This is a phrase that refers to the urban legend of Bloody Mary, that if you speak her name into a mirror at midnight, her ghost will kill you. It’s a weird block that I have. I’m not superstitious by nature, but I have to consistently force myself not to be. I just make it a rule that I don’t forward texts or emails no matter what they say will happen, positive or negative. I ignore the ideas behind the number 13. I don’t worry about black cats.

Still I have a couple of hang ups. One is that I can’t say “Bloody Mary” into a mirror. The other is trying to draw on patterns and parallels as though they are predictors of things, and this is a whole poem about patterns and parallels that these two women share. So a phrase that almost seems out of place has a very relevant meaning.

And she never listens
Once the past is rewritten
She’ll never see the signs
Or how we all were smitten

This seems pretty straight forward. “How we all” may seem odd since it’s about me being smitten, but since I’m talking about two people and referring to them as one person, it seemed like a nice twist to put on the phrase. Note though the allusion to history being rewritten, and referencing patterns and parallels as signs. So what history exactly is being rewritten? Well the part where what I felt for Mary is now felt for someone else. Or history repeating itself.

This is what it’s like
To be in denial
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

Because the piece is about how I felt at the time I was listening to “Pavlov’s Bell.” And I was once again denying her the opportunity to know how I felt.

Took a moment with a password
And a list of favourite sites

Ok, this one has an obvious meaning, and a meaning that is too personal to be obvious to everyone. The obvious meaning is that it mirrors the opening lines. An index card in a glossary, and a list of favourite sites, are both bookmarks. The other is that long ago I would put the woman who I was dating in the seventh slot on my top friends list on My Space. Again, this is a superstition because as a child I was told people have “lucky numbers” and so I chose seven, because I already knew how to multiply by seven as my dad watched football. Mary was in my seventh slot for a while, but as a crush, because I figured someone needed to be there. I would have loved to have put the other woman there, but for two things. The first is that some people know this little tidbit of information, and I can’t exactly keep it a secret that I like someone if others know. Second, is that after my last girlfriend and I broke up in April of 2008, I retired the seven slot and put the JAKT My Space there.

All too much time in the kitchen
Cooking up something for Mary
And I want her
I want her to eat it all today

This is metaphorical. It mirrors the earlier phrase about the bathroom, but more importantly my computer is in the kitchen, and I do a lot of my writing in there. Cooking up something in this instance means writing my thoughts for Mary. I want her to eat it, or in this case read it, which would have been a very easy way to tell this woman what I felt by handing her copies of anything I’ve ever written about my infatuation with her. I’ve used her name in titles before remember.

And she never listens
Once the sentiment is written
She’ll never see the signs
Stupid little retarded kitten

Maybe something more elegant next time

“Stupid little retarded kitten” and “Maybe something more elegant next time” were both phrases I wrote long before I even experienced the feelings that led to this piece. I brainstorm before and after I write poetry, in most cases. I get thoughts down, and I sometimes use them, and I sometimes don’t. There never seemed an appropriate point to use the Aimee Mann/Michael Penn line, because of the introduction of Mary as a counterpoint in the poem. But I had written “Stupid little retarded kitten” as a way of saying, “You’re cute, but you just don’t get it.” Realizing that it was not a very elegant line I wrote the next line. It was always separated by the blank line, and when I was writing this I remembered the kitten line and it would not only fit the rhyme scheme, but the “you’re cute but you just don’t get it” concept as well. I don’t use rhyme in poetry a whole lot. There are times that I intentionally write something that could easily be plugged into a verse-chorus-verse song. Not only does it produce a different kind of writing to what I normally do, but it’s ready made lyrics. It fit really well here because this would be about the time that one might sing something as they started into the instrumental solo. It’s like Miguel said in that it’s a disparate phrase that had nothing to do with the rest of the poem, but when you use that kind of thought properly, it can actually not only fit the theme, but fit it perfectly as this did.

This is what it’s like
To feel a revival
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

This mirrors the other verse from before, and means basically the same thing.

A moment with the memo
And not a thought of what to say
All too much time in the bedroom
Dreaming of Mary
And I want to
I want to dream of you today

By this point this should be pretty obvious. It mirrors concepts and rhyme schemes from previous verses. The best tying thought I had about this was that an index card could be used to write a memo, and the whole poem is about not knowing what to say (or whether to say) to someone you’re infatuated with.

And she never listens
Once these responses have been written
She’ll never see the signs
Until the world has bitten

There was a long standing joke that I was stalking Mary, but that I was lazy about it. That in spite of her living a few short minutes from me, I never sat outside of her window watching her. The line works just fine on its own, but it refers to a text exchange we had long ago. Mary worked at a movie theater, and I would sometimes text her while she was at work. I took my teenage daughters to see "Twilight" when it came out, and I texted Mary during the movie saying that this Bella girl reminded me of her. The implication was because Edward is basically creating a case for a restraining order by watching her and following her. You know, stalking her like I was supposed to be doing with Mary. She simply responded with a thank you. Later I wrote her something like “I like to watch you sleep. This guy is good. I’m taking notes.” Mary responded, “It might have helped if you came to my theater to see the movie.” Bitten rhymed and made a strange reference to the vampire movie in question.

This is what it’s like
To become a rival
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

Again, mirroring previous verses, but more importantly it touches upon the line that I didn’t use about finding somebody so I can get over you again. When the woman I was infatuated with found somebody, or even when Mary had found somebody, I had the choice of competing or letting it go. I let it go, and/or denied that the feelings are there.

- Chris McGinty – 2-9-10 – 11:53 pm

That’s just my name and when I finished it.

The point of this exercise was to show that sometimes there is a lot more behind what you read or hear in song lyrics, particularly if the piece is well written. This is one of my better poems, so you’re not going to always get as good of an explanation about things that are written. In some cases the “throwaway lines” don’t fit quite so well, and the lines that are specific to the piece don’t sound as good.

This also shows what I said before that if you want a line by line explanation of a song you may be there for a while. Sometimes you just have to give the writer the benefit of the doubt that when they say this is a song about infatuation that it really is just that, and that line or verse or whatever that you don’t think has any meaning may have a lot of meaning to the author. The problem is that you’re taking broad concepts, and using what’s known as “word economy” to express them.

And on the topic of meaning, my last thought was to read through the poem, and find meaning in it that was not intended when I first wrote it. I put the laptop on the charger and did my patrol and thought about it. Since one of the last things I dealt with was the line “Until the world has bitten,” and I thought of the phrase “Once bitten, twice shy.” One could take the basics of what the song is about and say that the reference to being bitten references that idea, in that there was the infatuation who I told who didn’t respond, so the next time there is an infatuation I’m shy about saying anything lest I get bitten again. And a person not knowing that the line refers to a text message conversation about a half ass vampire movie might come to that conclusion. And were I to edit this work, this might be the change I made to it, “Once the world has bitten.” What I’m saying is that lyrics that are two narrow, like Miguel’s example of “Something to Believe In” by Poison, it can turn off some listeners. Less narrow lyrics give the listener a chance to find what the song means to them.

I’m not sure if this is everything that I have to say on the topic of song lyrics, but I think it at least touches upon Miguel’s complaints and observations. I’m on page 14 right now wondering if I’m going to end up doing this as a seven part article. My original thought was four parts, but sheesh I filled up the pages.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lyrics Are Important (Part Four)

by Chris McGinty

Yesterday Miguel did a wonderful job of starting to examine my poem, and then just kind of gave up the ghost. This is the guy who wants to convince you that because he can’t figure out what a line means that the whole thing must be random words thrown together in a random fashion and then made all random. I think what disappoints me is he started out pretty good, and then just kind of dismissed the rest of the poem as, “…fairly broad ideas, things being done and reacted to without knowing what precisely is being done or reacted to.” I had all fourteen pages of this five part article done on Sunday night and told him over the phone that he had until Tuesday night to go in the draft section of the blog and examine it, and he waited until the last minute. Oh well. So now onto my poem and the examination that I wrote over the weekend.

Let’s go somewhat line by line with this poem, starting with the title, “For Mary, Whoever She Is.” This one fits in with Miguel’s pet peeve that the title is never in the poem, although that’s only partially true in this case. The phrase “for Mary” does appear, but it’s still enough to kind of deal with what Miguel is on about.

The fact is that this poem was born of an Aimee Mann song called “Pavlov’s Bell.” Years ago I picked up a couple of Aimee Mann albums, and I’ve listened to them here and there. I think she’s brilliant, and I love her music, but it’s not the type of music that I listen to frequently.

In late November 2009, I was making a compilation CD, just a hodge podge of things I wanted to listen to with no intent on making the CD diverse or interesting. It was just something to listen to at work. I put three Aimee Mann songs on there: Pavlov’s Bell, Guys Like Me, and Invisible Ink. Each of these is from her “Lost In Space” album.

I don’t know what or who “Pavlov’s Bell” is about, but one of the lines struck me. At the time I was having an intellectual/emotional debate with myself about whether or not to talk to somebody about these infatuation feelings that I tend to have for her at times. The thing is that I felt the infatuation years ago, and then she started dating someone, so I let it go. Then she was single again, and it took a few months but the infatuation crept back up on me. I have notebooks, and a file on my computer that I write phrases into that can be used elsewhere. I had recently written the phrase:

Sometimes I wish you would find somebody again
So that I can get over you again

I used that in another poem, but the thought of just talking to her and clearing the air was weighing heavily on my mind. There are lines in “Pavlov’s Bell” that say:

But we can’t talk about it
So let’s just talk about it
I need to talk about it

These are lines that lead into the chorus:

Because nobody knows, that’s how I nearly fell
Trading clothes and ringing Pavlov’s bell

The chorus ends each of the three times with different phrases, and I’ll deal with those later in my examination. At first the only line that came from me associating “Pavlov’s Bell” with infatuation (which I’m not entirely sure it is) was a line I wrote down that simply said:

You can be my Aimee Mann
And I can be your Michael Penn

As of this writing, I have not used that in a poem yet, but we’re not really here to discuss what I haven’t written, so let me continue on about something else I didn’t write. I looked up the lyrics to “Pavlov’s Bell” at some point, and sang along with it often in my vehicle.

In the days of my first full band, JAKT, we were always on the look out for things to cover, and to this day I will hear things I’d suggest to do if we were still playing. “Pavlov’s Bell” is a song I would suggest if we were still playing. I used to also think of things to say between songs when were playing shows, and occasionally I would say them at practice to see how they sounded. Some of these phrases were one off phrases like the show we played after two of our members had dropped out. We were just three members then. I introduced our song “Ann Yung” which lyrically was about our drummer leaving for Korea and our band grinding to a halt, and here we were with the drummer back, but two members down, so I said, “Sometimes when we’re bored, we like to pretend we’re a five piece band. This is ‘Ann Yung.’” Those who were there who knew what was going on laughed at that. Some of these phrases were permanent. We opened every set with and instrumental called “Surf JAKT” and at the start of each set I would say, “We’re JAKT and this is our theme song.” We closed every set with a song called “W” and I would say, “This is our big show closer it’s called ‘W.’”

So it occurred to me while listening to the track, in spite of the fact that I realized it would probably never be covered by a band that I’m in and have control of the microphone between songs, that I couldn’t exactly dedicate the song to my infatuation, because it would put me on the radar if she somehow ever heard about me saying, “This is an Aimee Mann song called ‘Pavlov’s Bell.’ This is for…”

The fact is that in “Pavlov’s Bell” Mann uses the name Mario three times. One of the other lines that always struck me as it pertains to infatuation is:

Oh Mario, why if this is nothing
I’m finding it so hard to dismiss

It occurred to me that in the very unlikely what if scenario I could always say, “This is an Aimee Mann song called ‘Pavlov’s Bell.’ This is for Mario, whoever she is.”

Months later when I had finally been given my chance to get over her again, I was looking through my notes, and I saw the Aimee Mann/Michael Penn line. It occurred to me to write something about where I had been emotionally when I wrote that line. The first thing I had ever written about that woman was a poem that not only used her name in the title, but the names of two other people, and it’s always been odd to me that I have this piece that I can’t really show to people, because it uses her name, and her boyfriend’s name, and the name of this woman named Mary

Mary is completely separate from this situation, but she is someone I had a crush on for a year or so prior to developing this other crush. Mary was wrapped up with this guy who wasn’t really returning the love, at least not at the same level. The thing is I had been very straightforward with Mary that the infatuation was there, but she was still too hung up on this guy who wasn’t hung up on her. At the time I saw a parallel, albeit a thin one, between the infatuation who knew and the infatuation who didn’t knew… uh, who didn’t know. So I wrote that first piece, using all three names in the title, and just sort of left it at that.

As I thought about writing a “years later follow up” to that first piece I remembered the phrase, “This is for Mario, whoever she is.” Realizing that Mary wasn’t too different from Mario, I changed the title a little bit and started writing.

A quick note to Miguel: This, by the way, is why songwriters just say, “It can mean something different to everyone.” It took me two pages just to explain the title.

While I admit that I could just say, “It about a woman I was infatuated with,” it’s still a cop out answer, because a lot of songs are about love and infatuation. And it’s kind of obvious that this is one of those. If an interviewer asked me about the meaning and I said that, I would get a “No shit, Sherlock,” kind of response.

And then the Miguels of the world would come along and go, “If it’s about infatuation then what does this line mean? I think he was like, ‘I have an infatuation so I’ll use her name and then just write something that sounds cool that may or may not have anything to do with infatuation.’” The problem is of course that I didn’t use the name of the infatuation, and the lines fit very well if you know more information. And for the ever increasingly impatient interviewer who now thinks that I’m not a pretentious artist who says “I don’t like talking about meanings of my work,” but rather a pretentious artist who likes to talk about myself just to hear myself talk; there is four more pages of explanation to sit through which I will post up tomorrow. And like I said, this is one possible reason lyricists don’t explain themselves.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mary, Mary, Why You Buggin'?

I was going in a particular direction with my response to Chris' response to my lyric rant, but Chris' little bitch ass HAD to have my analysis of his poem RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!! No wonder Spambot 2000 is pissed at him.

For Mary, Whoever She Is

A moment with the text book
And an index card in the glossary
All too much time in the bathroom
With a mirror, screaming Mary
I want you
I want you to take it all away

The first thing that came to mind was the Bloody Mary legend. If you look at a mirror and chant "Bloody Mary" repeatedly an apparition will appear and kill you. Perhaps this is the meaning of "take it all away." "Bloody Mary please come and kill me." As for how the text book relates to this, funny thing that word "text book." Technically, almost all books contain some text, but that particular term usually means a book used in school. If Mary and the mirror refers to Bloody Mary, what's the relationship to the book? Maybe it's a history book with a reference to Mary I the Queen of England who earned that name after her work killing Protestants. Reading this reminds the speaker of the legend who decides to give it a whirl.

And she never listens
Once the past is rewritten
She’ll never see the signs
Or how we all were smitten

The first line of the next verse fits in with the Bloody Mary idea because no matter how much you chant it, it will not actually happen. Hence, she never listens. The notion that is is referring to Bloody Mary breaks down after that however. The rest is fairly broad ideas, things being done and reacted to without knowing what precisely is being done or reacted to. Signs of what?

This is what it’s like
To be in denial
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

One can be in denial about a lot of things. Usually when one is said to be in denial they are trying to pretend that something is true that isn't true which is adverse to them (i.e. their own mortality, the death of a loved one, sinking fortunes, etc.). But it's unclear what the speaker is in denial about.

Took a moment with a password
And a list of favourite sites

In this day and age, a site is more likely to spring to mind a website than a physical location (i.e. the site where an event occurred, where a building sits, etc.). In conjunction with a password that seems more likely.

All too much time in the kitchen
Cooking up something for Mary
And I want her
I want her to eat it all today

What is being cooked, I don't know. The title seems to indicate that he doesn't actually know Mary, but he's cooking something for her. Is this a literal act? Is Chris working at Papa Hut making a pizza for a customer named Mary?

My ultimate conclusion is that there is a unifying concept underlying this piece even if it's unclear exactly what it all really means. I base this solely on the fact that Mary and her personal pronoun make an appearance throughout. Who she is and what Chis is on about, (shrugs).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lyrics Are Important (Part Three)

by Chris McGinty

At some point Miguel starts examining lyrics, and we discover a very neat trick to discredit lyrics. It’s called “take poetic symbolism and discuss it literally.” It will make just about any song lyric seem stupid.

Many of us have heard the phrase, “Be careful how you treat people on the way up because you’ll meet them again on the way down.” We have likely heard stories of rising to fame or wealth, and then falling to poverty and infamy. And after all, “The bigger they are the harder they fall.” These folks have taken the Flight of Icarus, flying as high as the sun, only to have their wings melt and send them crashing to the ground. Yet for some reason Miguel can only see the phrase “Park Avenue leads to Skid Row” as a description of a road map. Nevermind that it could be a new way of saying everything I said before in this paragraph, and nevermind that it could simply mean that the same corruption of morality that exists in poverty also exists in the upper echelon of society through the same sort of fear and greed, and that the worlds of Park Avenue and Skid Row are not so different after all.

The truth is that I don’t know much about “Youth Gone Wild” and there are other phrases that Miguel could have attacked and I might not have so much as blinked. Then he got around to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The truth is that I probably have a lot better information than Miguel does about the song and Kurdt Cobain’s writing style than Miguel does, because I read, and listen to, a lot about music as well as listen to music. Miguel says something about: “…lyrics [that] were largely stream of conscious writing pulling together disparate phrases and snatches of thoughts without any regard for whether they cohere into something meaningful.”

This is interesting because as I understand it Cobain kept notebooks of just that kind of thing some of which would become lyrics to his songs. And so do I now that you mention it. Hmmm. Maybe this is why I related to Kurdt Cobain so much, because he and I were the only two people who kept these, oh what can we call them? Notes! Let’s call them notes. And we can keep them in something called, oh I don’t know… a notebook! Wait. Maybe we weren’t the only two to write like this. Go figure.

The fact is that compared to narrative prose, song lyrics tend to be a lot more like an abstract painting than its realism counterpart. For someone who is literal minded, this would make translation more difficult. Still I wonder how it is that Miguel missed something simple like “She’s overboard and self-assured, oh no, I know a dirty word” as a roundabout, and more melodic way of saying “She’s a bitch.”

So as far as the actual meaning of the song, Kurdt Cobain said in an interview that, “Here we are. Now entertain us,” was something he said to the host of a party in his high school days. Hmmm. That word “Teen” in the title may have a little more relevance than Miguel thinks.

There are times that music videos have little or nothing to do with the song, but a video set in a high school gymnasium seems to support a little bit of what I’m saying. Miguel attributes the lyric to Cobain’s affiliation with a punk band, and probably therefore attributes the lyric, “Our little group has always been and always will until the end,” to referencing the band as well.

When they finally issued the lyrics to the “Nevermind” album in the CD single for “Lithium” you opened it up to find the lyric, “Our little tribe has always been, and always will until the end.” Group. Tribe. High school clique. I mean, the line does sound like something you would find in a yearbook. And some of us may have even felt that those people we were so cool with in high school would still be around years later.

Am I right about all of this? I don’t know. But I think that by looking at all of the thoughts, with an idea of what the unifying theme might be, gives me a little better explanation of what the song might be about.

It almost seems that as Miguel listens to a lyrical piece, if there are any lines that he doesn’t immediately understand, then he presumes the lyricist is just throwing crap into the mix that has nothing to do with it.

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to publish one of my poems here. It’s one that I think is pretty good. It also hits quite a few of Miguel’s points. I’m going to ask Miguel to examine the piece and then write a quick synopsis of what it’s about. I guess he can take it and give one of his everything is so literal explanations, but I would be curious to know if his take of what the piece is about would fall apart under his scrutiny, and what lines he thinks have “nothing to do” with the rest of the poem.

For Mary, Whoever She Is

A moment with the text book
And an index card in the glossary
All too much time in the bathroom
With a mirror, screaming Mary
I want you
I want you to take it all away

And she never listens
Once the past is rewritten
She’ll never see the signs
Or how we all were smitten

This is what it’s like
To be in denial
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

Took a moment with a password
And a list of favourite sites
All too much time in the kitchen
Cooking up something for Mary
And I want her
I want her to eat it all today

And she never listens
Once the sentiment is written
She’ll never see the signs
Stupid little retarded kitten

Maybe something more elegant next time

This is what it’s like
To feel a revival
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

A moment with the memo
And not a thought of what to say
All too much time in the bedroom
Dreaming of Mary
And I want to
I want to dream of you today

And she never listens
Once these responses have been written
She’ll never see the signs
Until the world has bitten

This is what it’s like
To become a rival
This is how it feels
To be in denial once more

- Chris McGinty – 2-9-10 – 11:53 pm

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lyrics Are Important (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty

As Miguel goes on with his article he starts to pull from such great sources as late 80’s hair bands and modern pop to show that, “How can lyrics be important when the words that go into songs are all dumb?”

There are a few issues with this. The first is that Miguel listens to almost no music that has good lyrics, and therefore has a skewed view as to how well lyrics contribute to an overall song when well written.

Let’s first deal with what the voice is when used in music. It is simply another instrument. If all instruments were equal then folks would love Tejano and Industrial Dance as much as they liked Pop and Rock. The accordion and the piano would be equally moving, and that electronic bullshit would be as authentic as an electric guitar. Miguel acknowledges that there is a psychological need to hear a human voice in pop music, and that lyrical words are imperative to convey meaning because notes and melody without language is too abstract. What Miguel doesn’t acknowledge is that the human voice is a unique instrument, and at times it is the only instrument that will fill the spot properly.

Let us also consider the instruments that are used most frequently in music. They tend to be instruments that are more versatile. The human voice is very versatile, and especially because of its ability to use language while singing. If vocals were entirely limited to the syllables Do Re Mi Fa So La and Ti, then I bet it wouldn’t be used quite as much. But the fact is that if I wanted to sing this entire article to you I could.

This is where lyrics come along. It gives the singer a focal point for the melody. As the Miguels of the world would have it, that would be all that was necessary is just some words. And what does it matter what those words say, because lyrics aren’t important. But lyrics at their core are poems. And poetry is not really considered to be good unless it conveys a mood or concept, usually at a tightly metered pace with inflections on certain syllables, and often times rhyme to finish off the different lines of verse. If critics would be so quick to dismiss poetry as poorly written then there is only so much you can get away with in song lyrics, right? But song lyrics can be forgiving because as Miguel pointed out, if Sebastian Bach can make you believe that what he’s saying is important, then it comes across as important.

It seems to me that Miguel’s criticism of the songs only proves why it is that crafting good lyrics is important, because people see through the bad ones eventually. I remember Miguel being turned off to the song “You” by Candlebox, because he used the words “I would die for you.” This is one phrase in the overall scheme of the song’s lyrics, and it was too glaringly cliché to a guy who claims not to care about lyrics. And this points to why it is that every song can’t just use the same lyrics as just about every other song, but sing it differently. People would just eventually lose interest. One line and Miguel was happy to dismiss the song altogether.

Miguel and I read something once, either written by Aimee Mann or said by her in an interview, in which she discussed over used clichés such as: I would die for you, rolling the dice, the ace of spades, queen of hearts, crying in the rain, and she said that if one more person prays for rain that she was going to scream. This was a heavy influence to me to try to avoid overused phrases, choosing instead to pay tribute in less obvious ways.

Frank Black discussed the importance of using your voice in unique ways while singing, and how the use of lyrics can help you attain a unique performance. And this calls to mind for me a book I partially read that suggested that your name could be used in the same way that your Chinese and Zodiac astrological signs can be used to predict your personality. I don’t lend much credibility to these studies, but what the book claimed is that certain sounds, and certain combinations of sounds in the spoken language, register in the brain in different ways creating a situation in which the phrasing of a sentence might be as important to your attraction to what it says as the shape of someone’s face and distance between their eyes might be to your attraction to that person. If there is any credibility to this then not only are lyrics important, but they may be a make or break point.

In Part Three I will deal with a couple of examples that Miguel uses And in Part Four and Part Five, I’ll give you a very rare look into the process by which I write poetry, which then hangs out in notebooks or word processor files as potential lyrics depending on the quality of the piece and how well it fits a musical selection that needs lyrics, or how well it suggests a mood that I might try to touch upon instrumentally.

I say this is rare because I’m one of these irritating artists that Miguel mentions in his piece: “Some artists get real coy about the ‘meaning’ of their lyrics. When asked, ‘What's it mean,’ they give cop out answers like, ‘I don't want to ruin it for anybody. So I choose to let the listener decide for themselves what it means.’

That’s me. I like a little mystery in what I’m saying. The last thing I need is a cipher that will tell everybody what I’m talking about or who I’m talking about. Sometimes these things are clear enough, but other times they just don’t need to be.

But before I go this time, I’d like to deal with one last thing Miguel said: “‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was part of a trend in which the title is never actually mentioned in the song itself. I hesitate to say that it started the trend because I don't really know.”

Well Miguel, I’m willing to bet that the trend started with those instrumentals you miss so much. The strange thing is that never once does someone say “Ride of the Valkyries” in Wagner’s hit song. But like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” it gives you a nice little hint as to what the song is supposed to be about. More on that in Part Three.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lyrics Are Important (Part One)

by Chris McGinty

Dear lyric writers everywhere, and their kitchen sinks,

I am writing to openly apologize for my former friend Miguel’s recent hateful articles concerning lyrics and his point of view that they are utterly unimportant in the musical process. He’s a fool. A fool I tell ya!

Love and kisses (and the occasional rhyme),


Eh, I guess I should elaborate, or Miguel will just think I’m talking smack that I can’t back up. Consider the rest of this one hell of a post-script.

Miguel starts out with a link to an NPR program. I have downloaded this program and will listen to it at work tonight. If there is anything relevant I’ll fit it in here somewhere, and probably write it backward just to confuse you.

I really am not writing an argumentative piece as I do when Miguel writes something stupid. This is a subject that really has very little to do with being right or wrong, because really there probably is no “most important” part of music. Nonetheless, I will counter a couple of his arguments, because I think he misses a couple of important points.

First of all my position: I don’t really believe there is a “most important” part of music. If this was the case then all music would have absolutely one thing in common. You could say notes, or rhythmic time, or maybe key (even if the key changes throughout the song) but if all music uses these factors then they would all have to be the most important. And this doesn’t even account for experimental noise used as music. I do think lyrics are important though, and clearly I believe they are more important than Miguel believes. But don’t take my word for it, we can simply attack Miguel and take his word for it and prove him wrong.

Miguel brings up a quote on You Tube. The author of the quote was perplexed that people only cared whether the song rocked or not, but were unconcerned with the message. Taken with the lyrics as a positive this could mean that there are some amazing lyrics out there and you’re missing it. Taken with the lyrics as a negative this could mean that you’re listening to a song that may sound cool, but is about things that are socially irresponsible (like glam rock’s presumed objectifying of women) and by listening to it you’re promoting that irresponsible attitude. Allow me to illustrate this in two ways, both that stress lyrical importance.

My dad told me the other day that he didn’t like rap. He conceded that he liked Run DMC and other rap from that era. It was just at the point that lyrics started discussing “killing people” and cussing all the time that he got turned off. I did ask him what is the difference between discussing it in song and discussing it in books and movies. He said there was no difference, but nonetheless there is a whole genre of music that he doesn’t really like because of the lyrics.

I saw Gene Simmons interviewed on The Henry Rollins Show. He discussed why it is that rap is the most popular music now. In his opinion, rock ‘n’ roll lost much of its audience when it stopped discussing scoring sexually and making lots of money. He said that rock and roll stopped, and rap started, and that’s the kind of thing that appeals to audiences. I don’t know if he’s right or not, but it does give you a reason to stop and consider what he’s saying.

As a counterpoint to the comment on You Tube, my old friend Mike Ratliff who appeared in Sniffles (sniff) Episode One as the guitar playing native, felt that Smashing Pumpkins became a lesser band when Billy Corgan started concentrating more on being a lyricist than being an instrumental song writer. Another way of putting it may be that the songwriting became a little more straightforward and that the sprawling musical interludes were less and less prevalent.

Not surprisingly, I’m sitting somewhere in the middle of all this mess. I love well composed lyrics. I love straight forward verse – chorus – verse music. I also love songs that stretch out to eight, ten, twenty minutes, you know whatever, that have amazing and lush musical fills that go all over the place.

Funny enough I played “Blame Hoffman/Rosetta Stoned” by Tool for Miguel, and he was like, “Tool has this problem where they start playing, and then realize they’ve misplaced the ending of the song, and it takes them a half an hour to find it.” This is possibly my favourite song that Tool has ever written, and for me it’s a combination of its flawless instrumental execution and some of the best lyrics I’ve ever had the joy of looking up to figure out what the hell he’s saying.

In paragraph two of Miguel’s Part One… oh boy. Yeah, I’m probably going to have to do this in parts. To be fair though, as I go on there will be less points to make paragraph to paragraph, because some of what I say will be general and I won’t have to go over it again. Miguel brings up the classical music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and others. It’s his way of saying, “See how can lyrics be the most important thing in music when these timeless classical peeps is all kickin’ it instrumental?” What Miguel fails to do, because it’s counter to his particular point (mind you he is right) is to look at the other side of the equation while he’s at it (mind you I’m right with what I’m about to say too.)

The fact is that long ago song was used as a way to pass down stories, it was called oral tradition or something like that (see I’m so researchical.) Whereas lyrics are counterproductive to instrumental music, in these old traditions, lyrics were crucial.

I think the actual point of Miguel’s articles is that he doesn’t appreciate lyrics as an art form as much as some folks out there. He uses the lyrics of popular music to show that lyrics that are sometimes lazy, unimaginative, uninspired, and sometimes even lacking consistent theme, can be sung as though they are all of these things and more. In part two (or three or four or twelve) I’ll examine some of his examples, and make some points concerning lyric writing.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Importance of Lyrics in Music Part 2: Smells Like Complete Bullshit

by Miguel Cruz

In The Importance of Lyrics in Music, I gave a brief analysis of how current tastes demand vocals in popular music to the complete exclusion of instrumental music. It doesn't matter if the lyrics actually make sense or not. By the late 80s artists began pushing the bounds of credibility in the "stories" they were telling in their words. But in 1991 there was a shift generally thought to have begun with the near-Messianic arrival of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I say near-Messianic because for a time that's how their success was largely viewed. A lot of the stories in the rock press would talk about how much music had sucked prior to their arrival (it did). Nirvana completely saved rock music for all time at least until the late 90s when the record companies figured out how to make music suck again.

Nirvana didn't just bring about a different musical sensibility, they opened the door for other artists whose lyrics were largely stream of conscious writing pulling together disparate phrases and snatches of thoughts without any regard for whether they cohere into something meaningful. The last song I ever liked Jimmy Eat World's "Bleed American" is completely impenetrable. The first two lines of the song

I'm not alone 'cause the TV's on yeah
I'm not crazy 'cause I take the right pills everyday

resonate with me in particular because I'm a firm believer in the use of television as sonic wallpaper. When I'm alone in my house with no other people and just my thoughts, it's a truly socially deprived experience. But when I have Oprah on looking at me, telling me what books to read, I feel more socially connected than without it. I don't have to even be watching it. Most of the time I'm not. The television provides the equivalent of sitting in a cafe while I do other things. The second line means something to me because for a time, I took Zoloft and Welbutrin to stave off panic attacks.

And rest, clean your conscious,
clear your thoughts with Speyside with your grain

I had to look up Speyside. It's a whiskey made in the area near the Spey River in Scotland. Easy enough to understand. Drink alcohol to make you forget. The chorus makes very little sense however.

Salt, sweat, sugar on the asphalt.
Our hearts littering the topsoil.
Tune in and we can get the last call.
Our lives our coal.

My belief is that they were words that popped into the writer's mind that best fit the melody which is pretty much the same as the guitar riff. The first line is a very specific image that one can only wonder what it's referring to. Did the writer witness some incident where a Morton's truck collided with an Imperial truck causing the contents to spill out all over the roadway? And since it was a particularly hot day, the clean up crew dripped a lot of perspiration into the mix as well? Whatever the case it's a reference that only means something to the writer and is undecipherable by the average person.

"Our hearts littering the topsoil" is some kind of metaphor. It could be a specific image of several human hearts piled up on a piece of land somewhere, but that's unlikely since the writer's heart is in the mix too. Heart usually is a metaphor for a person's love, devotion, or passion for something or someone. But here the heart is littering the topsoil. Does the writer have a passion for farming? For wheat in particular?

More importantly what the hell does any of this have to do with the title of the song "Bleed American"? One presumes that the lyrical content is brought together and unified by the title. The title provides a context with which to decipher the words and the words serve to illuminate the meaning of the title. But much like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that is not the case.

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" was part of a trend in which the title is never actually mentioned in the song itself. I hesitate to say that it started the trend because I don't really know. I'm sure there was some alt-rock from before 1991 that did this, but it doesn't count because alt-rock sucked before 1991. The Stone Temple Pilots followed that up with such songs like "Sex Type Thing" and "Plush". The content of "Sex Type Thing" makes sense with the title, but not so much with "Plush".

Load up on guns and bring your friends.

A very strong opening line. It's issuing a command, not necessarily to the audience, but to a someone or a group of someones within the universe of the song. This is interesting. Why does the one person want the other(s) to do this. Are they going on a hunting trip? Are they gangbangers about to do a drive-by? Are they a wild-west posse? I can't wait to find out.

It's fun to lose and to pretend.

What does "fun to lose" mean? Does it relate to the fun of pretending? To lose yourself in a fantasy? To lose at some competition? To lose all your assets when the stock market goes belly up? How does this relate to loading up on guns?

She's overboard and self-assured.

I'm guessing overboard doesn't mean overboard as in falling off a boat, but in taking something beyond the bounds of good taste. But overboard about what? What happened to the guns again?

Oh no I know a dirty word.

Is it one of the seven dirty words? Shit, piss, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker, and asshole. Did this unnamed "she" tell him the dirty word? Had he seriously never heard this word prior to this encounter? When are we getting back to what you're planning to do with those guns?

Hello, hello, hello

Hello there, yourself. But no need to start the introductions now. You've pretty well broken the ice.

How low?

Hmmm? What is it that you want to know is how low?

With the lights out it's less dangerous.

That's a new one on me. Usually, decreased visibility is more dangerous. You can't see where you're going. You can't see what might be coming at you.

Here we are now. Entertain us.

Who me? You're the musician. We paid you. Entertain us with the story of what you're going to do with your guns.

I feel stupid...

You and me both. At least you know what the fuck you're talking about.

...and contagious

With an actual disease? Figuratively with the power of your nonsensical ideas?

A mullato, An albino, a mosquito, my libido

Is this the setup of a joke? A mullato, an albino, a mosquito, and my libido walked into a bar...Are these the friends loading up on guns?

I'm worse at what I do best

What's that? Writing lyrics that make sense?

And for this gift I feel blessed

With ten million in sales for this album, I would too.

Our little group has always been
And always will until the end

Been what? Blessed. Are you talking about Nirvana or your hypothetical posse who loaded up on guns?

And I forget just why I taste

I don't know. Maybe it's because you have taste buds on your tongue.

Oh, yeah, I guess it makes me smile

Kids, this is what happens when you take heroin. You start associating false causes for biological functions. I forget why I take a shit. Oh, yeah, I guess I get to read a book.

I found it hard, it's hard to find

What's hard to find?

Oh well, whatever, nevermind

Ummm okay. Nevermind to the message you were trying to convey in the body of the song or whatever it is that's hard to find?

Dave Grohl is quoted in Michael Azzerad's Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana as saying, "Just seeing Kurt write the lyrics to a song five minutes before he first sings them, you just kind of find it a little bit hard to believe that the song has a lot to say about something. You need syllables to fill up this space or you need something that rhymes." Cobain's philosophy was that music comes first, lyrics come second. I can dig that. At least someone's upfront about it.

Some artists get real coy about the "meaning" of their lyrics. When asked, "What's it mean," they give cop out answers like, "I don't want to ruin it for anybody. So I choose to let the listener decide for themselves what it means." I wish they would say it like Dave Grohl said it. Granted he wasn't talking about his own process with the Foo Fighters*, but I think we can do a little math on that. This is how lyric writing works.

In part 1, I lied. I said that I was only going to refer to old songs. I'll close with a selection from Miley Cyrus' "Party In The USA" which according to an episode of This American Life has become a frat house anthem.

Nodding my head like yeah
Moving my hips like yeah

The meaning of this song is pretty clear, but it's a failure at devising metaphors. "Miley, just how did you move your hips? Did you move them like a swan gliding through a moonlit lake?"
"Ummm no."
"Did you move them like a hawk swooping down from a great height to catch a mouse in a field?"
"No not quite."
"Did you move them like Andrew Jackson moved the Choctaw to Oklahoma so they could set up casinos 200 years later?"
"No not really.
"Okay how did you move them, Miley?"
"I moved them like yeah."

Fear of a Black Hat's got Miley's Back on this one. I don't know if the embed feature's working though.

*There was a time when I used to be able to make a joke when looking at a picture of Nirvana, "Hey! That's the guy from the Foo Fighters." But I'm thinking nowadays Dave Grohl is probably better known for that. It doesn't quite work as well as, "Did you know that Paul McCartney was in some other band before Wings."

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Importance of Lyrics in Music

by Miguel Cruz

I was listening to a segment on an NPR program that discussed the disappearance of the instrumental rock song from radio airplay. It got me to thinking about a not-really-all-that contentious subject of debate that has floated among me and Chris for the last 20 years. I don't really know Chris' position, but he has reported to me on others who have the opinion that lyrics are the most important part of the song writing process. They say that it is the very first thing you start with. Some time ago I read a comment from a YouTube user, posting on a Faith No More video, criticizing those who only care about the music and whether the song rocks. They're not getting the all important messages in the lyrics. (I tried finding the exact comment so I could quote it, but it looks like that version of the video was since been removed.)

I take the opposite position. I'm generally only interested in the music. Perhaps this is because of my time studying, practicing, and otherwise getting nowhere with the guitar, but if I don't feel it in the tones and the rhythms, whatever message you're trying to convey is going to fall on deaf ears. If lyrics are the driving force behind music, then what the hell were Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Wagner, and Prokofiev doing?

Still I understand the basic psychology of hearing a human voice on a pop song. Music all by itself is one of the more abstract art forms. Visual and written media at the very least can convey some kind of information. A painting of a cottage by a waterfall shows you just that. That last sentence also conveys basic concepts to the reader, provided you understand the language in which it was written. Music can do no such thing. No matter what notes I play, in what sequence, and how fast, it will not ever tell you "house" and "waterfall". A singer inserts information into the musical equation.

As it turns out, it apparently doesn't matter whether this information is pure nonsense. Despite whatever meanings the listener gleans from most song lyrics, the meaning depends heavily upon what they bring to it themselves. Some songs are more explicit in its imagery. Take this segment from Poison's "Something to Believe In".

My best friend died a lonely man
in some palm springs hotel room
I got the call last christmas eve
And they told me the news

I tried all night not to break down and cry
As the tears rolled down my face

The lyrics present a fairly clear portrait of several melancholy characters: the suicidal Vietnam Vet, a greedy tele-evangelist, and some homeless people. No one should come away from this song wondering what it's really about. Unfortunately, it's one of the gayest songs ever recorded. I don't mean gay in the guy-sucking-another-guy's-dick kind of gay. I don't mean any offense to the gays out there (Chris, Nathan). But you know. Gay as in stupid. It's stupid because liking other dudes is stupid. Hence stupid stuff is called gay. No offense.

By the way, kids, all the examples I'm about to use are before your time. I haven't bought an album since around 1995. I have no clue what the #1 song in the country is right now. I haven't known what that was since before the turn of the millennium. I'm sure there's someone out there blogging about the deeper meanings of the lyrical stylings of Lady Gaga and the Jonas Brothers (I know where they live), but that ain't happening here. There's a line from Skid Row's "Youth Gone Wild" that has fascinated me lately.

Boss screamin' in my ear about who I'm supposed to be
Get a three-piece Wall Street smile. Son, you'll look just like me
I said, "Hey man, there's something that you oughta know.
I tell ya Park Avenue leads to Skid Row.

If I read this right, this is an actual account of a conversation Sebastian Bach had while working at the Burger King drive-thru just prior to Skid Row's getting a record contract. It has been pointed out to me that I'm incorrect in my ascribing the words to Bach, that Rachel Bolan in fact wrote the lyrics to the songs. First, I don't care who wrote the words. Sebastian Bach sings them. Therefore they are his thoughts. Second, if Rachel Bolan wants them to be her thoughts, she should start her own band and sing them herself. Perhaps she and Alice Cooper can get together to form an all-girl band.

So anyway back to the lyric in question; at some point the store manager has just had enough of Mr. Bach's failure to adopt a "Three-piece Wall Street smile". Mr. Bach had been smiling like it was casual Friday on Commerce Street in some other city. That's not good enough for store #7138. You gotta smile like you're trading Piggly Wiggly stocks on the floor of the New York Stock Exchage. And Mr. Bach's boss was really ripping into Bach over this particular issue, raising his voice, and even going so far as to scream directly in to Bach's ear.

But Sebastian Bach was the clever one. He might not have his boss's sense of style, but he has a strong counter-argument. It is simply this: Park Avenue leads to Skid Row. According to Wikipedia, which according to some other source I'm not going to bother looking up, Park Avenue is the most expensive street in New York City. For those of us who live in and near Fort Worth, Camp Bowie is the most expensive street.

Bach's counter-argument can mean two things. Park Avenue runs directly into some run down part of New York City where there's a lot of homeless people (aka bums). I don't know the layout of NYC so I can't speak to this. Or maybe it means that if you conduct business on Park Avenue (or live there if that's possible) eventually you will find yourself homeless. I wonder if that's backed up by any data. I suspect it's an all around faulty premise. Does having the money to live on Park Avenue really mean that eventually you will be homeless with a bottle of Jim Beam by your side?

But boy Sebastian Bach belts it out as though he had the last word in that exchange. He's bolstered by his bandmates who yell it with him in unison. And the kids who bought this tape in 1989-90 all came away thinking they just received some powerful insight from an insightful artist.

Part 2: Smells Like Complete Bullshit

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shooting the Wedding

by Nathan Stout

This is an account of the job Miguel and I took to film the wedding of a coworker.

In February I got an email from a coworker asking me if I filmed weddings. He was given my name from our marketing/web guy. I told him I do film them, and I sent him my web page with the different services I offered and their prices.

After a little haggling on price, I took the job. The wedding of his daughter was to take place in mid April in Denton with the reception far North of Decatur.

I called up Miguel and offered him some money to help me. Miguel had shot a couple of weddings, and with his degree in film from UNT I thought he would be a real help (as well a good teacher in the matter).

Before the wedding we got together to try to get our cameras 'looking' the same. Setting the iris, white balance, and other settings so the two different cameras looked similar when the footage was edited together. The plan was to use both my camera and Miguel's camera (and if possible a third camera).

The Friday in mid-April arrived and we went to the church in Denton (Denton Bible) for the rehearsal. Although not a part of the agreed wedding video package, Miguel wanted to shoot some 'behind the scenes' stuff. This also gave us the chance to set up shots and figure out logistics. The rehearsal lasted for only about an hour at the most, and we decided on our locations. Miguel would operate my camera that was on the stage where the ceremony was to take place. He was kind of awkward up there with all that was going on, but it was the only place to get good shots. I was to be at the back of the auditorium filming various people and parts. I did get to borrow my boss' camera so we did have a third, but lower quality, camera. I would use this at various points to go along side the crowd and get some reaction shots.

Saturday arrived and we showed up several hours early to get more 'behind the scenes' shots including the photo session and 'just married' truck decorating. Miguel also did a little interview bit with the bride and groom to edit into the presentation. Once the ceremony started it was all go, and we just caught as much as possible. The final positions of the bride, groom, and pastor was such that Miguel had a really hard time getting good shots. Before the bride and groom were officially done they had to walk to the corner of the stage (right near Miguel) and light a unity candle. I am guessing this is some sort of newer thing in weddings (since I have seen it more often in recent weddings). Well, they walked up to the candles, and were utterly confused. During the rehearsal no one told them what to do when it came to the candle. The look on the groom's face is priceless. He just looked at the array of candles (one that the bride's family lit and one the groom's family lit) and had this 'what the hell do we do' expression. They finally figured it out and moved on. Since their backs were to the audience, no one really saw the confusion ,so I am sure it will be a highlight of the video. I did what I could from the back and hoped Miguel got what he needed.

I feel Miguel needs to keep my camera for a while and shoot some stuff with it. He is always somewhat confused where all the controls are on it, and it would help if he were more familiar with it. He did his best though and we got as much as we could.

After the service I took off to the reception (since it was like thirty minutes away) and Miguel was going to stick behind to get the couple leaving (there wasn't any rice throwing or anything like that). I got to the house where the reception was, and started taking some random shots. Miguel got lost and was late with the second camera. I got the couple and the wedding company being presented at the reception, and then Miguel got there. We both split up and got more footage of people being happy, talking, drinking, eating...

The house where the reception was held was really nice. Miguel joked that we didn't know anyone in that tax bracket. The party was outside but the cake cutting was inside, and we got to move about a little bit in there. It was very nice. It would be a great place to shoot a movie.
We also filmed the speeches and the dancing. I was shooting the long shots, and Miguel was in close on the couples dancing. I had to be careful because I would be shooting this nice dancing couple, and here comes Miguel all guerrilla style shooting up close to them.

At the end of the night we filmed the cake cutting (in a very crowded room). We exchanged information with the photographers (two chicks who were new to all this too). We wanted to get some of the photos to integrate into the video. After that, I took off and Miguel stayed around a few more minutes (prolly to hit on the photo chicks).

In the end we will deliver much more than the agreed package. We figure if we can make a really good video, and be able to use it for promotional purposes, it would be well worth the effort.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shooting Episode 1 (Season 3)

by Nathan Stout

Chris is like 'ok, we need to shoot three minutes of footage each Thursday if we are going to get Episode 1 of Season 3 done and posted by the end of the 10 weeks.'

Nathan is like 'I don't want to.'

Fast forward to the next Thursday... we got down to work.

The first scene is Chris walking up to Nathan's house. He just stands there. Then scratches his ass, takes a deep breath, and walks to the door.

This was easy enough. We actually already shot this bit back in 2006, so it was like having a living storyboard.

We then went inside and started doing a lot of story additions. Instead of Nathan sitting, reading something (like he was in the original footage) he was feeding his fish. They are really big fish and there is this fish shaped pillow, so we decided to have one of the fish jump out of the tank and fight with Nathan while Chris walks up to the house.

Chris had me take the fake fish and stagger around, acting as if I was fighting it. I took a roll off the back of the couch and rolled around on the carpet a bit. Chris liked the stunt and I had to roll off the back of the couch several times. I then took the fish and smashed it against the wall and Chris liked that too. He wanted me to smash the fish into the camera lens so we could cut between the wide shot and the POV of the wall. After some more fighting, I got the fish back into the tank. All the while Chris is outside peering in through windows and calling my cell phone, trying to see what the hold up is. We shot these bits before and after the fish fight.

This was the point where I was supposed to notice the knocking at the front door. We decided to add an additional bit where Nathan runs all the way around the house to get on the elliptical machine (which acts like some sort of transportation vehicle) and ride it to the front door (which was only like seven feet away). Chris moved the camera to suggest the movement of the elliptical machine. We also slid it on the floor so I could have something to cut to between scenes.

I answer the door and we are back to the original script. Chris comes in and sets his stolen Census bag down and begins unloading it. This is an addition too. The 2010 Census is going on and we had this bag left on our mailbox. We decided to use it and include a joke that had Chris stalking Nathan for quite some time. Nathan figures this out because Chris' things are in a census bag with Nathan's town's name on it.

The next scene was complex because Chris wanted it to appear to be in the style of '24'. This meant a a lot of cuts and camera movement. I added a joke about Chris producing a can of Dr. Pepper out of his shoe (just cause it was silly and funny) and we had the scene.

I am assuming we were well beyond the six minute mark (that we needed this particular Thursday but we kept going). I shot Chris preparing to shave in the bathroom. It is basically a 'lite' version of a scene we had shot for season 2 just a few weeks earlier (the Secret Agent Man scene). This time however Chris hears something in the bathtub (which will be added in post) and he dramatically opens the curtain. There were several slow zoom in shots of Chris' face and hands, but the camera kept going out of focus so I fudged it by zooming out (which didn't create the focus issue) and then I reversed the footage in Premier.

Next Chris shot me sitting at the couch and vegging out to Miguel on the TV (to be added in post). I jump up and run into the restroom and talk to Chris for a bit and we both come back out to watch television. After some lengthy conversation, and a dream sequence involving a poster board and Information Society, I get up to go get something to eat. For some reason we forgot to shoot me deciding to go get something to eat. All we have is me walking to the cupboard. I get to it and open the doors. Chris is balancing the notebook with the season 2 script above me. It falls and hits me on the head. The problem is that the book did hit me on the head (the bridge of my nose actually) and hurt quite a bit. We used it anyway (see I suffer for my art). I collapse and Chris comes over and slaps me awake. We put the camera facing upwards, and Chris looked down into the lens and slapped it a few times. I removed the plastic-slapping sound and added a real slapping sound.

The next scene had me on the couch and Chris explaining that season 2 fell on me (probably because it wants to get done). Chris turns back and I am gone. We then introduce our newest creation, Stout Man! I put on a cape, a mask, and a t-shirt with SM on it. Chris shot me with a fan on, and a bubble machine blowing bubbles all over the place. I said a few lines then we turned the machines off and I said them again (for dubbing purposes). The fan wasn't blowing my cape heroically enough so Chris got behind me and flapped it around. If you don't look too hard, you won't see his hands flapping the cape.

The next scene we basically ad libbed about fighting crime around the world and Stout Man and his sidekick set off out the kitchen door to stop the evils of prank callers.

That's where we ended the second day of shooting. For our next evening of filming, we will wrap up the episode, and I can finish editing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chris McGinty’s Math-a-Plenty: Nathan is Just Mean

by Chris McGinty

INT – METH LAB – DAY: Chris is looking at the camera sporting a lab coat. He looks like a deer in a headlight, and speaks as though reading from a teleprompter.

CHRIS: Hi. I’m Chris and welcome to my meth lab. Today we will… It’s “math lab”.

NATHAN (from behind camera): Don’t you know how to improvise?

CHRIS: Well…

NATHAN: Nevermind. I remember your bits on the “Whose Line” rip off we did. Oh, and speak up. I can’t hear you over the cat licking herself.

CHRIS: Well speaking of rip offs. Welcome to Chris McGinty’s Math-a-Plenty, our blatant rip off of “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

(Crazy techno music cues up.)

NATHAN (sounding very surfer/valley dude): Math ruuuuulez. Chris! Chris! Chris! Chris!

CHRIS: Today on the show, we’re going to deal with Nathan’s comment that when Chris recently did reviews of the first 100 blog posts that he gave himself better reviews than he gave Nathan.

NATHAN: But first you have viewer mail.

(Chris barely has a chance to start asking what Nathan is on about when he is hit in the face by a heavy bag of mail. It’s ok though, he comes to pretty quickly, and Nathan starts recording again.)

CHRIS: As heavy as that bag is we’ll be here all day answering mail.

(Chris reaches into the bag and finds two letters.)

CHRIS: Two letters? Why is this so heavy?

(Chris reaches into the bag again and pulls out the shooting script for Season Two.)

CHRIS: Nathan, are you trying to kill me?

NATHAN: Turnabout is fair play.

CHRIS: Thanks. Well let me read the first letter. It’s actually a quote from one of Nathan’s recent posts. “Am I the only one around here that seems to be posting topics about 'making of' and such???”

(Chris folds the letter and throws it away. We hear the same cat sound from the Anti-Splish news story.)

CHRIS: In answer to your question Nathan, I personally wrote a making of post after the last night we were making of. In further comment on your post, it’s kind of crazy that we almost have a whole episode done already. Be sure to show me at our next meeting, and we can discuss how to end the episode. We can leave a minute or whatever open for the next episode teaser, which you can create after next ten-weeks when we’ve completed Episode Two.

(Chris opens the second letter.)

CHRIS: This one is the comment that Nathan left on Miguel’s rebuttal to the birthers debate they’re having. “I was expecting something great from Miguel, but after reading this I felt it was rather lacking (argument wise). You might want to check some of your facts.”

(Chris folds the letter and throws it away. It bounces off Nathan’s copy of Valley of the Pharaohs game, which tips and goes crashing to the ground. As it falls we hear, “Chuuuuuunk!”)

CHRIS: This has always seemed like a non-issue to me. My answer to the question is where are the documents that prove that Obama was born in Kenya? It seems weird to me that the entire theory is predicated on the idea that all the proof of citizenship is forged, and yet there is no proof of his alleged “real” citizenship. Oh well, let’s get onto some math.

NATHAN: Michael Moore lover!

(Chris pegs Nathan in the head with his copy of “Let Freedom Ring.”)

CHRIS: Let’s get to some math why don’t we? We can go about our statistics in a number of ways. Let’s start by defining them:

(The screen switches to show an animated Chris running around with animated numbers.)

CHRIS (voice over): Mean: This is the average of all the numbers in the sequence divided by how many separate numbers there are. In the case of Miguel’s two posts the mean is 5. Add 5+5 to equal 10, and then divide 10 by 2 to reach a mean of 5. In the case of Wade’s two posts we add 5+3 to equal 8, and then divide by 2 to reach a mean of 4.

(We see non-animated Chris again.)

NATHAN: Well, Miguel deserves 1-star for his birthers rebuttal.

CHRIS: Miguel’s mom deserves 1-star.

(Chris’s phone rings. It’s Miguel. Chris answers it, listens, and then finally responds.)

CHRIS: It was a general mom joke, idiot, not meant about your actual mom. Don’t get your “Hillary for President” t-shirt in a wad.

(Chris signals a screen change and we see the animations again.)

CHRIS (voice over): Median: This is where you line up the data from lowest to highest and then find the number right in the middle. For instance: 4, 7, 9, 9, 1439. The median would be 9 while the mean would be much higher (293.6). In the case of Miguel you would line up 5, 5. Since it’s an even number of data in the sequence the median falls between the two middle numbers making Miguel’s median 5. In the case of Wade you would line up 3, 5. In this instance the median and the mean are the same at 4. This will always be the case if you only have two pieces of data.

(We come out of the animation to see Chris with that deer caught in the headlight look again.)

CHRIS: Umm? Teleprompter!

NATHAN: There is no teleprompter! I’m writing on paperboard with a fat marker. And my hand hurts, so give me a minute.

(Chris calls up the animation again.)

CHRIS (voice over): Mode: I so want to link to the “Just Can’t Get Enough” segment on the word mode, but alas it’s not done yet. The mode is the number that appears the most times in a sequence. For Miguel the mode is 5, because the sequence is two long and both numbers are 5. For Wade the mode is both 3 and 5. A sequence can have more than one mode if they both appear the most. Wade has a 3 which appears once and a 5 which appears once, making his mode both 3 and 5.

(The screen switches and we see Nathan walking on with two plates, and a tub of butter holding two knives.)

NATHAN: I made bread products.

CHRIS: Yummy.

(Chris walks toward the camera, reaches toward it, and the picture cuts out.)

(The picture resumes, and we find Chris standing there again chewing something, and a glob of butter on his chin. Nathan runs out with a napkin and cleans him up, and then runs back behind the camera. Chris signals the animation.)

CHRIS (voice over): Range: The range is simply the lowest number subtracted from the highest. The “for instance” in the median description would have a range of 1,435. Miguel has a range of zero, and Wade has a range of 2. Obviously, the higher the range, the less likely that the mean and the median will account for the actual data. In the “for instance,” 80% of the numbers are less than 10 yet the mean is 293.6. This is how CEO salary skews the average earnings of men compared to women, because there are more male CEOs. Now I may be over simplifying that, because as I understand it the figures of men vs. women salary wise actually stretch across different job types and industries. Also I don’t feel like researching that right now so I’m just going to presume that the figures are right, even though it doesn’t speak to my own personal experience.

(The animation stops again, and we see Chris sniffing Nathan’s marker.)

CHRIS: It does not smell like cherry. That’s awful.

(Nathan grabs the marker, and starts writing off screen.)

CHRIS: So you can see how these sorts of statistical data are achieved and somewhat what they mean. With that in mind let’s examine the ratings given to Chris and Nathan’s posts.

NATHAN: Oh, this ought to be good.

CHRIS: Why? The suspense? Since I don’t even know what the outcome will look like?

NATHAN: No, because what you present will probably be as faked as the birthers claim Obama’s citizenship is.

CHRIS: Umm. Ok. Let’s go through the breakdown of the scores Chris assigned to each of the posts. The following is the ratings in order as they appear in the blog post.

(We see a set of lists that read as follows:)

Nathan: 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5, 3, 4, 4, 5, 3, 4, 5, 4, 4, 5, 4, 3, 3, 3

51 Posts.

Chris: 3, 4, 3, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 5, 5, 4, 5, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 2, 3, 4, 4

43 Posts

CHRIS: This translates to the following tally.

(We see the following lists:)

Nathan: 5-stars: 7
4- stars: 21
3- stars: 18
2-stars: 5

Chris: 5-stars: 7
4-stars: 24
3-stars : 10
2-stars: 1
1-star: 1

CHRIS: As you can see each of them have rating in all the levels except that Chris has a 1-star rating where Nathan does not. This means that Nathan’s range is 3 and Chris’s range is 4. This is almost an irrelevant fact in this examination. We also see that the most common rating given was 4-stars, and for both Chris and Nathan the mode is 4. The second most common rating is 3-stars for both of them. The third most common rating was 5-stars for both of them and they each had 7. Now if you look at the following chart you see the median highlighted with an asterisk.

(We see the following chart:)

Nathan: 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4*, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2

Chris: 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4*, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 1

(The screen switches to show the figures from each section above to get a complete total and are divided by the number of posts each wrote.)

35 + 84 + 54 + 10 = 183

183/51 = 3.588235

35 + 96 + 30 + 2 + 1 = 164

164/43 = 3.813953

CHRIS: So the mean comparative is as such:

Nathan 3.588235

Chris: 3.813953

CHRIS: So you see, Nathan, it seems that Chris was very fair in his role as a critic. Your main problem was that early on you wrote some short, throwaway pieces that were low on the reread level and you got five 2-star ratings. If you removed those from the equation your average rating would be 3.76087. Neither this number nor the number above are a significant difference even if they are lower.

NATHAN: You’re right, Bill Ginty the Sci-math Gimpy. How could I ever have doubted a self proclaimed fence sitter and non-bullshitter like Chris? Clearly I just took a couple of my lower ratings personally, and some of Chris’s higher ratings personally, possibly while not agreeing with the explanations.

CHRIS: Clearly, whatever it was you just said. Thank you for joining us today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Episode 1 editing (Season 3)

by Nathan Stout

Am I the only one around here that seems to be posting topics about 'making of' and such???

Episode 1 of Season 3 of According to Whim is eighty percent done.

We only shot for two nights and we have twenty minutes of screen footage. That's good.

For our '10 week goals' this time around, Chris wanted episode 1 of season 3 shot and posted. I am still not done with season 2 but I agreed. The plan was to shoot three minutes of the script each Thursday. With this and that we were forced to combine a couple of days and we had to shoot six minutes each of those days. We did that twice. We should have only had twelve minutes of footage but we came out with twenty. I think it might actually be twenty three but who is counting?

We took the approach of heavy ad libbing on scenes (not necessarily ad libbing acting, but adding to scenes with stuff that wasn't on the script). For instance there is a scene where Chris walks up to the front door and knocks. I come to the door and open it for him. While we were shooting this I decided that my character should be doing something interesting while Chris approaches the house. It was decided that I should be having a fight with one of my overgrown fish (ala a fish shaped pillow). We shot the whole thing, and a scene that should have been thirty seconds is now two minutes. Additions like that (that are entertaining and not just to soak up screen time) are what we are pushing for.

A few days back I encoded the footage and started editing. We seem to have the same fare we usually have no matter how hard we try to do it better each time. We have enough angles but there are always inconsistencies, bad camera positioning etc (aka we needed a camera man).

It all still looks good. It will do just fine. Chris was wanting the flow of some of the scenes to be similar to the look of the show '24'. That required a lot of camera cuts and movement. It works well enough but no one is going to confuse us with that show.

In one scene I am talking over a fan (running on high) and a bubble machine. We needed to cut that audio and dub over my voice with normal room volume levels. It was a little tricky but it works well enough. There are also a few special effects shots of Miguel on the television that I will have to aftereffects-in but that's about all.

There is a lot of audio editing to do as well. I need a lot of music to place over certain scenes too. Then I will need to make credits and 'next time' bits and we will be done.

On a side note I did finish posting episode 2 of season 2 to the website today. I have basically cut out scenes we have yet to film. I will put those back in later so we can have complete television edits of the show ready to go to public access.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Birthers ARE Nuts

by Miguel Cruz

Me being Colmes to Nathan's Hannity, I needed to chime in, in response to Nathan's defense of the birthers. All I can figure is that when you get all your news from The Rush O'Hannity-Beck Report, you are very likely to come away completely misinformed.

"Obama HAS to be a US citizen to be president (14th Amendment of the Constitution)."

It's true. Obama has to be a citizen to be president, but that appeared in the constitution nearly 80 years prior to the ratification of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment clarifies who gets to be a citizen: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

"No one has yet to lay eyes on the birth certificate"

No one except the director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, some guys from who photographed themselves handling the document, and the millions of people who saw the scan issued by the Obama campaign on their website. Other than that no one has seen it.

"Hawaii 'sealed' the birth certificate stating it was a privacy issue (so only the family could obtain a copy)."

Weeeellll...they just don't give a copy to anyone who comes off the street asking for one. Hawaii state law bars the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest in it. As an experiment go to Dallas County and get a copy of my daughter's birth certificate. Oh that's right. You can't. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services website:

"For births that occurred within the past 75 years, copies can be requested only by the immediate family of the person whose name is on the birth certificate. If you are not an immediate family member, you must provide legal documentation, such as court order establishing guardianship, that documents a direct and tangible interest in the birth certificate."

Maybe you will have better luck getting my Illinois birth certificate. Oh yeah you can't get that either unless you're me or are my parent or legal guardian. Maybe I'll have better luck getting Chris' birth certificate from Delaware or wherever he was born. Hmmm the application is asking how I'm related to him. Something tells me this isn't unique to just Hawaii. Or maybe there is some vast conspiracy from state to state where they all uniformly changed their rules regarding access to birth certificates so as to make Hawaii's refusal to give out Barrack's birth certificate a lot less suspect.

"Many people question this."

Which they wouldn't if they actually looked into getting a birth certificate that is not their own or of a close relative.

"Or they can't find it (and that's why they released the live birth certificate)"

Live birth meaning that the doctor and hospital are certifying that a living baby was born in that hospital on that date at that time rather than a dead baby. Some jurisdictions issue certificates for babies who are stillborn. The fact that it says "live birth" doesn't mean that it's a different document than some other birth certificate. All the birth certificates that you are likely ever to have seen are not the original source documents, the ones that were prepared by the hospital and filed with the county. The ones you have seen are copies of that document or some official attestation that such a document exists.

"There is a birth announcement two weeks after his birth in the local Hawaii paper: but (strangely there is no hospital or doctor stated in the announcement)."

It was actually posted in two separate papers. In both, his announcement is nested among a couple dozen other birth announcements. None of them list the hospital or doctor either. Each list has announcements dating back to late in the previous month. I guess Hawaii must be the stop over point for Kenyan immigrants trying to make it look like their babies were born in the U.S. in the event that they ever decide to run for president.

"What if he was born in Kenya (which was a British colony at the time) and then brought into the US (so he could have citizenship and all it implies)? Does it happen, I bet you it happens quite a lot (what with Mexico being so close and all the goodies you get if you are a US citizen). It could happen..."

Except for the part where they are able to have a birth certificate filed with county/state in which you're wanting their kids to have been born. It's possible to have a forged document in your possession, but getting that placed into official records is another matter entirely.

"Now on the other hand why all the fuss in the first place?"

Because the birthers have made a fuss over an issue they themselves manufactured out of whole cloth.

"This whole group could be shut up at once if they would just show it."

This is precisely why this whole group is being derided as being nuts. In spite of the fact that the certificate HAS been shown, they still cling to their nonsense. Facts are not important to them.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Hundred and Counting

by Chris McGinty

There will be people who totally get what I’m doing, and what I’m ripping off and/or paying homage (see Season 1 Episode 1 for pronunciation) to, with this article. You will also know that this kind of article only comes up once about every two years with a weekly column, but would come up three to four times a years with a daily blog.

So what am I doing? I’m going to go back and read the first 100 posts to this blog, and give a short synopsis and/or review (pronunciation is pretty straightforward on this one folks) of each. Because of the nature of what it is, it will be longer than the average blog we post up to the daily. I will also use the same 5-star rating system; tweaked just a slight bit. It works as follows:

***** (5 stars) – Whimtastic! If you want to read some of the older posts, but only the best of the best, then go straight to any blog assigned this rating.

**** (4 stars) – Amazing to Whim. Probably not a life changing post, but you might still be hard pressed to skip it. I always say I’m my harshest critic, and this might apply to my peers as well. These might be more worth reading than I’m letting on.

*** (3 stars) – Whimable. I’m suggesting with the descriptive that this post is passable. It’s either indifferent, slightly better than indifferent, or slightly worse than indifferent. Worth reading, maybe.

** (2 stars) – F, Marry, Whim. More than likely to be your least favourite in just about any match up between three posts. Nothing special here. Still not as bad as it could be.

* (1 star) – Whimtrocious. Just shitty. If I wrote it I’m embarrassed. If someone else wrote it, I’m still embarrassed.

NOTE: I’m not going to be judging based on technical merits, though I will take this opportunity to do some editing where needed. What I’m mainly looking at here is how compelling the subject matter is, and how entertaining it reads. If anyone else involved in this blog goes back and reviews any of these I will place their score at the end of the review.

Post #1 (July 27, 2009) – “Rock N Roll Church” by Nathan Stout (****)

This one feels like Nathan was still writing his Skipping Blog Frog. Not a bad thing. Many of the early posts have that feel. We later wrote about the show more. This review might be as long as the post, but for a couple of inside jokes, it makes me laugh.

Post #2 (July 29, 2009) – “Hollywood is so full of a-holes” by Nathan Stout (***)

Just a quick commentary on someone’s left leaning opinion. The last line makes me laugh.

Post #3 (July 29, 2009) – “The turd that is 'The Happening'” by Nathan Stout (***)

Almost want to give this one 4-stars, because there is a little bit of insight included in an otherwise straight forward movie review, but in the end I went with 3-stars.

Post #4 (July 30, 2009) – “ChrisMcG-I-NTY-5's First Blog.'” by Chris McGinty (***)

This starts out pretty strong with a pretty funny bit about conservatism, but sort of tapers off from there. It’s good information wise, but not entirely compelling unless you’re looking for something to watch or read.

Post #5 (July 31, 2009) – “Disney promotes Tron Legacy...” by Nathan Stout (***)

This probably would get 2-stars for it’s brevity, except that the links make it worth looking at if you’re a Tron fan.

Post #6 (July 31, 2009) – “Grinning Evilly He Started to Type” by Chris McGinty (****)

This post started a shit storm to come, and I want to give it 5-stars because it’s pretty good, and doesn’t meander too much, which I tend to do sometimes. I think that if I had thrown in a couple of funny quips, as I do in a couple of the later parts of this debate, then it would be worthy of 5-stars. I do wonder if “shit storm” should be one word like snowstorm or rainstorm. Maybe hyphenated.

Post #7 (August 2, 2009) - “Just got screwed over by the credit card companies” by Nathan Stout (****)

While I was very unsympathetic to Nathan’s issues with the credit companies, I felt that his telling of his side of the story was entertaining, if not a little frustrating at points. This might have gotten 3-stars but for the conversational bits, and the overall format of compartmentalizing facts and dates, which makes it an easy read that is clear and concise. I could learn a little from Nathan here about how to write an essay

Post #8 (August 4, 2009) - “Why haven't you watched American Movie yet?” by Nathan Stout (**)

About as good as the Tron blog without the links to back it up. Not poorly written by any means, but short and limited. Informational at best.

Post #9 (August 5, 2009) – “A Quick One Before I Head Off to Work” by Chris McGinty (***)

A little bit of a hodge podge of thoughts. I want to give this one 4-stars because there are only five paragraphs, one and three are quite funny, and two four and five can be read through quick enough that they don’t drag down the piece. It still deserves 3-stars, but if you said you weren’t going to read anything below 4-stars, may I suggest an exception to your rule with this one?

Post #10 (August 6, 2009) – “Chris and Lewis Cannon” by Nathan Stout (**)

Without the link this would probably get 1-star. It wins a point or two for being brief and to the point, but loses them for being sofa king short.

Post #11 (August 6, 2009) - “Money Advice from an (not an) Economist” by Chris McGinty (*****)

This is probably some of the best writing on this blog. I already know this isn’t the only one I’m giving 5-stars to. I have one of Nathan’s in mind too, but we’ll get to that much later. The only drawback to this post is that if you’re not into economics, you’re not going to care, but I’m being consistent with saying that if you like Tron, or whatever. The fact is the construction of the blog is smooth, the humour is well used, and the discussion is compelling. There are good points made, even if you don’t fully agree. I don’t give myself this kind of praise too often, so enjoy it.

Post #12 (August 10, 2009) – “Credit Crunch America... The Result” by Nathan Stout (**)

Seems very disjointed and hardly makes a point. The problem with this one is that it’s more or less and epilogue to another post, but rather than kicking it up just a little, it just feels forced and rushed.

Post #13 (August 11, 2009) - “Let Me Slip Into Something a Little Less Mainstream” by Chris McGinty (****)

I’m leaning towards 3-stars here, but the fact is that it’s a decent read that barely squeaks by, in my mind, into 4-star zone. Perhaps without the playlist I included I would have gone 3. Thems is some greatly music they is.

Post #14 (August 12, 2009) – “Credit Crunch Nathan… The Denial” - by Chris McGinty (****)

More economic self sufficiency banter. This was a little more pointed at Nathan who comments about how I suck. Don’t worry about reading Nathan’s comment, cos I use it in the Quotes Blog. What lacks here is the smoothness of the one I gave 5-stars to three posts back. And while humour isn’t necessary, it might have helped.

Post #15 (August 15, 2009) - “Quotes – Nathan and Miguel, Read This Anyway” by Chris McGinty (***)

Being mostly quotes, this could have easily scored lower, but the quotes are somewhat engaging. Further, there are a few paragraphs that are original that make it closer to a real blog post. Nothing special here.

Post #16 (August 20, 2009) - “Every little bit helps?” by Nathan Stout (**)

Not incredibly interesting, and I may be biased against the subject matter…

Post #17 (August 21, 2009) - “This is interesting...” by Nathan Stout (**)

Again not so interesting, contradicting the title, and very short. I should clarify that this kind of blog can be interesting from an informational standpoint, and I’m not trying to discourage it. I’m just attempting to judge based on my interest when rereading them. This one might have been pushed up to 3-stars if when Nathan put the app up on our site anything cool had happened. Then the link to the homepage would take you to the app, and you’d get to see and hear the wonders. But it didn’t happen.

Post #18 (August 25, 2009) - “Happy days are here again...” by Nathan Stout (***)

Don’t want to give Nathan too many 2-stars in a row. Besides, this one says a little bit more than “Hey link” or “Hey app” or “Hey quotes.” Four months later Nathan should have written a sequel to this one discussing how I quit my job again, finally reducing my employment to zero. Later I write about getting this particular job back. Much later.

Post #19 (August 30, 2009) - “Things I wish existed #1” by Wade Childs (*****)

At risk of seeming like I’m just giving everybody a 5-star rating, I really liked this post. To be fair it’s leaning toward a 4-star rating, but I could see this one stirring up discussion if we had a larger readership. But it’s funny, which helps. My one thought about it (aside from agreeing wholeheartedly about late night trips to Wal-Mart) is that Wade makes a point about indie films, and I’d like to expand on it to say that a theatre could probably at the very least make a little revenue from showings of that nature overnight. I think what keeps this from happening are those wee hours between 6 am and noon when no one would ever want to be at a movie.

Post #20 (September 2, 2009) – “Walmart People” by Nathan Stout (***)

Gets an extra star because while it’s another short, mildly informational post, if you haven’t been to the website it promotes yet, you’re in for a treat.

Post #21 (September 10, 2009) – “Why I don't want Obama's Universal healthcare) by Nathan Stout (***)

This one gets counted off for factual errors. It’s not a poorly written piece, but it suffers from not being well thought out. I get where Nathan is coming from, and I do agree with Nathan on some things, I just think he was in a conservative radio stupor when he wrote this. Factual problem #1, which he pointed out in a later post, is that he discovered that you cannot use time worked for charity as a tax deduction. Factual problem #2 is that when put up to reason and scrutiny he says, “I’ve never had an insurance company drop me because of a medical condition leaving me unable to get new insurance because of a pre-existing condition, but if it ever happens I’ll just get new insurance.” Factual problem #3 is something I think I dealt with in one of my posts, which is that he skews his view, and therefore the reader’s, of government efficiency by pointing to the worst of the worst of government programs and ignoring those that have worked well. This is a strange post because I simultaneously want to give it 2-stars for poor execution and 4-stars for compelling subject matter. I think it’s that division in my mind that makes it such a tough read.

Post #22 (September 14, 2009) – “A bedtime story” by Wade Childs (***)

Mildly amusing, more for the bits before the story than the story itself. I sort of counted off because while he was retelling the ending, 50% of this post was unoriginal. You’ll note that I said the same about my quotes post.

Post #23 (September 16, 2009) – “Walking and Chewing Gum – and – Typing and Thinking” by Chris McGinty (*****)

Reading back through this, it was better than I remember. It lacks the humourous tone that I normally write with, but I remember I was sort of in a foul mood back then and didn’t think a whole lot was funny. In retrospect, I also think I was a bit personal with my attacks. This is a flaw of mine. When a simple “Nathan I feel you didn’t do good research” would have sufficed, I’m all like “This is the dumbest shit ever!” I almost want to count off for that, but it is a well written post.

Post #24 (September 17, 2009) – “Help Obiwan-Bush-obi youre my only hope.” by Nathan Stout (****)

Not a bad response to my previous post, but what it does suffer from is being a really long post that repeatedly says, “I don’t care about the information you presented to me, because I don’t care.” Who knows maybe Nathan’s rebuttal wouldn’t have been so angry if mine hadn’t been so personal to begin with.

Post #25 (September 18, 2009) – “I'll Make Everyone Happy and STFU” by Chris McGinty (****)

The best part of this blog is probably the theme: Liberals presume I’m conservative, conservatives presume I’m liberal; not because what I’m saying fits into those categories, but because what I’m saying disagrees with what they believe. This one suffers from almost the same thing as Nathan’s last post except that mine just says, “If you don’t care, I don’t care.” Nathan more or less apologizes in the comments, but I was rather frustrated, so I just let it go.

Post #26 (September 18, 2009) – “According To Whim... The Legend” by Nathan Stout (***)

Informational about the show. Good not great. A quick update: we did finish the Chris at work scene, and the club scene is not fully edited at the time of this writing.

Post #27 (November 13, 2009) – “Update” by Nathan Stout (***)

After a couple of months, this blog had sort of died. Nathan posted up this update, and it is again just informational. He mentioned some things that could have been linked to, but as of right now aren’t.

Post #28 (February 4, 2010) – “A Conversation with Chris and Nathan” by Chris McGinty and Nathan Stout (*****)

Very entertaining, as seems to be the case when we work together, which I guess is why we do. It’s mostly silliness, but that makes it fun. As a quick side note, it is the first post of 2010, three months after the last post of 2009. It is also the first post after making the decision to go daily. I guess we get to find out now if the quality has improved since we started posting each day, or if this move was executed as a shark came up out of the water trying to bite our feet off.

Post # 29 (February 5, 2010) – “The Professor of Dirt - Episode 442 by Nathan Stout (****)

This is a good one. Kind of what our blog should be about, the making of the show and stuff. I am actually leaning toward 5-stars on this one, and if Nathan had posted up the original footage as a supplement to what he wrote, I might have gone that high.

Post #30 (February 6, 2010) – “ATW: where all are accepted and none are rejected.” by Nathan Stout (****)

Again a pretty good one. The video of the other public access show makes this one worth looking at.

Post #31 (February 7, 2010) – “Germany hates us, YouTube loves us.” by Nathan Stout (*****)

Maybe I’m overreaching this one with a 5-star rating, but I like this article. It has a marginally compelling story, which Nathan does a great job of telling.

Post # 32 (February 8, 2010) – “George Thorogood makes good” by Nathan Stout (****)

An amusing tale. Only thing I have to add to this is that at one point, and I believe it was on that excursion, I won on a split with 8’s I think, which they say you’re always supposed to split, and then in the same hand I split another set of 8’s won the whole hand cos dealer busted. The only screwed up thing is that I had to pull money from my pocket (a no-no) to cover the split, and even after winning such a glorious hand, I was still down by about $60.

Post #33 (February 9, 2010) – “Planning Season 3” by Nathan Stout (***)

Just sort of an update. Not a bad read by any means, just feels kind of so-so, so I went a little lower on my rating.

Post #34 (February 10, 2010) – “YouTube - Uploading Tutorial” by Nathan Stout (****)

Informative without being just informational. It’s funny because if this was as short as it should have been, I would have probably complained about its brevity. The saving grace is that even as a shorter piece it would be meant for a certain kind of reader and that kind of reader will probably enjoy the whole post.

Post #35 (February 11, 2010) – “Chris Participates in the Daily Blog; Film at Eleven” by Chris McGinty (****)

Some mildly humourous bits make this a worthwhile read beyond the show related information.

Post #36 (February 11, 2010) – “Unhealthy TV watching” by Nathan Stout (*****)

Nathan originally set a few of his drafts to auto post not expecting me to post anytime soon. Then when I did it threw off his whole system. He tried fixing the time signatures on the post made around this time, but somehow we have two for February 11 and none for February 12. This is one of Nathan’s best posts. I’ve never watched MASH as much as he has, but he speaks of history (both actual history and his own) in compelling way that gets you to thinking. I guess there are those who might argue that his observations aren’t the deepest ever written, but those people probably suck. Nanny nanny boo boo, yo.

Post #37 (February 13, 2010) – “Proposed Season Three Format” by Chris McGinty (****)

I’m sort of torn on how to rate this one. It’s as good as my last one as show related information goes, but it’s sort of rehash. It’s also not quite as humourous. Nonetheless, it does speak of what will likely be a big part of ATW history. Eh, I’ll err on the side of a higher rating this time.

Post #38 (February 14, 2010) – “I Can't Believe It's Not Yahtzee” by Nathan Stout (****)

Going with 4-stars on this one because if you play the game, you will likely enjoy it. This is one where it gets a little more rating because of what it offers beyond the post. As of this writing Nathan or I need to go in and clean up the rules a little bit, like for instance add the point total for a straight, which is 1,500.

Post #39 (February 15, 2010) – “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Sunday” by Chris McGinty (***)

Amusing in its own way, but it just doesn’t really say anything. Well it alludes to what I was talking about earlier with the two posts on the 11th and none on the 12th.

Post #40 (February 16, 2010) – “Robotech Fanzine: Protoculture Addicts” by Nathan Stout (****)

Almost 5-stars for this one. It’s funny that not using half stars can push you to give out ratings that might go a bit higher or a bit lower. When I’m doing my edit, I might change some of the ratings. In the end I decided this was more nostalgia than information, and went with 4-stars.

Post # 41 (February 17, 2010) – “BluRay Review: Watchmen Motion Comic” by Nathan Stout (****)

This is a good review. I’m not saying so because Nathan had a favourable opinion of the subject matter, but because it’s helpful. If I saw that this DVD existed, and wanted to know what a fan thought, reading Nathan’s review would tell me more than enough to decide whether or not to buy it. My choice would be to buy it by the way. Of course, I don’t actually have to, because I can borrow it from Nathan.

Post #42 (February 18, 2010) – “Tonight’s Meeting” by Chris McGinty (***)

I said that I would tell you if one of my posts wasn’t very good which is why I’m giving this post 5-stars! Nay! 177-stars! Ok, this isn’t a horrible post, but it’s kind of bland. Very take it or leave it. But nonetheless 1,298,734-stars!

Post #43 (February 19, 2010) – “According To Whim: The Audio Show” by Nathan Stout (****)

Nathan was sort of on a roll early on in the daily blog process. While many of the 2009 blogs were almost sound bite in quality, he seemed to have found better subject matter in 2010. And this one has a few laughs in it.

Post #44 (February 20, 2010) – “Chris's Poem: Photo Affects” by Chris McGinty (*****)

This is just a very good work. I write a lot of poetry, and some of it is really good while some of it is crap. If I used the 5-star rating system on my poetry you would fine a lot of 1-star ratings. Still given that I decided to write a poem that day for the blog with only a basic idea of what it would be about, I think this turned out well, even rereading. It’s a rarity for me to use rhyme by the way, and that’s about as close to metered as I get. I just think it portrays some interesting images, and speaks unexpectedly at times.

Post #45 (February 21, 2010) – “A Windy Day for Season Two” by Chris McGinty (*****)

Yeah, I’m being generous to myself now, but this one not only tells a good show production story, but it does so well. What more could you want from a blog that is largely about the show?

Post #46 (February 22, 2010) – “Sunday, Rainy Sunday” by Chris McGinty (****)

Gets points for being kind of funny, and for linking to the first of two Farmville articles I’ve done at the time of this writing. I’ve explained to a few people that just because the articles have Farmville in the title that you don’t actually have to play the game to enjoy them. Not the way I write. The articles are that good, that an extra star bonus was gifted by one of my neighbours for use on this blog rating.

Post #47 (February 23, 2010) – “The Thing About Doing A Project...” by Nathan Stout (***)

I’ll be honest, I walked away from this post with the feeling that Nathan had forgotten to take his martyr medicine that day. The reason I’ve dubbed Season Two “The Nathan Show” is because he more or less took over the whole thing in a micro-managing kind of way. He gives a list of things he did, but fails to mention how much of it was self-imposed. He didn’t inform me that he was writing the whole of Season Two. He dropped it down on me to trump an idea I had. If we were simply getting together once a week for four hours the scheduling would have been less demanding. The issue was simply that he had to figure out everything that needed to be done in one of six days that we had to shoot it. We all were actors. We all were directors to an extent and if he felt he was more of a director then it’s because he didn’t step back enough to let the rest of us help. We all ran camera. Encoding the footage is the one thing he can claim, but as we were using his camera that was to be expected. And finally with the editing he was all like “Hey Miguel! (not Chris, not Miguel and Chris) I’m gonna give you some of this footage. I want you to help me edit. If he had so much trouble getting Miguel to show up for the shoot, I’m not sure why he even tried to get Miguel to help with the editing. Even when I offered to help with the editing he ignored me. You know what? This gets 2-stars. I’m going to give the extra one to one of my bad posts.

Post #48 (February 24, 2010) – “Idea Generation” by Chris McGinty (*****)

I was remembering this as a 4-star article, but you know what, it’s good. Good enough for a fifth star? You know, I’m thinking so. It has sound, though unoriginal, writing advice, and it relates some experiences and discusses a part of writing that I think gets largely ignored.

Post #49 (February 25, 2010) – “Man, Why You Uh, Uh, Uh” by Chris McGinty (***)

Amusing in its way, but it was typed really fast because neither Nathan nor I had the foresight to post something before the meeting.

Post #50 (February 26, 2010) – “Editing... not as easy as you think.” by Nathan Stout (***)

This one sort of feels like part two in the Nathan is a martyr series. It’s not as bad as the one where he said “I had to do everything because I never learned to delegate”. As this goes, there is an actual point in the article, but he neglected to make it. Why do we do this? When you see the people on the You Tube they probably didn’t take quite as long doing their videos because they have a static camera angle, and their biggest problem is probably flubbing the lines. And since you’re mentioning it, sometimes that doesn’t stop them. The thing is that there are shows and videos out there that are as funny, or funnier, than our stuff, but the sad truth is that they could make it look a little bit better by putting just a tad more effort into it. The reason for everything Nathan writes here is because we care enough for just a tad more effort.

Post #51 (February 27, 2010) – “Some tips this time” by Nathan Stout (***)

This blog is probably useful, and it’s not a bad read, but I think it’s just not quite enough that I would put it on the recommended list. Nathan seemed worried that it was about painting his house and not something show related. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal really. If it could be a subject for the audio show, it can be a subject for the daily blog.

Post #52 (February 28, 2010) – “Movies Recently Watched” by Chris McGinty (****)

This is good for a review blog. I’m not sure if it would be “helpful” the way Nathan’s review of The Watchmen Motion Comic was. Still it gives reasonable opinions about the movies and seems mildly entertaining about it.

Post #53 (March 1, 2010) – “What is this Ten-Weeks Goals You Mentioned?” by Chris McGinty (****)

This one is important just because we talk about the ten-weeks goals so much. I would give it 5-stars if we were talking about strictly importance. It’s a good read, but not fantastic. Has a little humour in it.

Post #54 (March 2, 2010) – “According To Whim Live” by Nathan Stout (***)

A good read, but kind of irrelevant at the time of this writing. We did two shows using the technology and then stopped. I’m not even too sure why. I would say it’s my unpredictability of what time I show up at Nathan’s each week (i.e.: 4:30 pm, 6:30 pm, the following Thursday) but we’ve never scheduled a show, so it hardly matters. Who knows, maybe soon.

Post #55 (March 3, 2010) – “Thursby Meading” by Chris McGinty (****)

The funny thing about this one is that it probably gets 4-stars for a couple of inside jokes that the average person wouldn’t get. The thing that I realized though is that anyone who listened to our shows enough (and certain specific episodes) would get it. So I’m blaming the audience for this one, and going with 4-stars.

Post #56 (March 4, 2010) – “Chroma Key” by Nathan Stout (****)

Want to give this 5-stars, but I’m only partially sure how helpful it is, though it seems very helpful.

Post #57 (March 5, 2010) – “Vomit” by Nathan Stout (****)

If I stole a star from Nathan’s last post, I gave it back here. It’s very short, but it apparently amused Miguel, and we did actually get a lot of mileage from my misfortune. He should have linked to the uStream show, but he still can.

Post #58 (March 6, 2010) – “Today’s Symptom: Dizziness” by Chris McGinty (****)

Hmmm. I was about to drop this down to 3-stars, because it’s not particularly engaging, until I got to the dream at the end. Given that I’m actually at a guard post assigned by said job, I find it sort of interesting. The only other thought I had on this matter is that a friend of mine from one of the other local bands remembered that I liked Smokey Robinson and thought he had sent me a message on My Space (and he may have, but I didn’t get it) offering to pay my way to go see Smokey. Not because of some holiday or birthday obligation, but because he’s a good guy who thought of another good guy. If someone had bought me a ticket, I would have either insisted on Nathan taking me, or braved driving while dizzy. It’s too bad I didn’t get the message.

Post #59 (March 7, 2010) – “The Academy Awards is crap” by Nathan Stout (****)

This is a weird case in which I think I enjoyed reading this more than it is actually good. This is also a weird case in which someone else finds out something I’ve known for years. I’m not sure I feel the same disenchantment that Nathan does, but I can totally get where that disenchantment might come from. The only thing I can really say is that if you were to get any group of X amount of people together and ask them to pick the best movie of the year, the results would sometimes be markedly the same and the results would sometimes be drastically different. Miguel and I know not one, but two, people who believe Grease 2 to be the best movie ever. Just saying.

Post #60 (March 8, 2010) – “Why Nathan is crazy for Rosa's” by Nathan Stout (*****)

This one also fits into the “some of the best writing on the blog” category. This is a very good post. Even without the links I would give it 5-stars, but they do add to the overall experience. Fact is, Nathan tells a good story here in an engaged and entertaining way. Somehow though, I’m willing to bet that if he entered it into a writing contest, it would just get honorable mention. There is something else to say about this, but I’ll get to it in a little bit.

Post #61 (March 9, 2010) – “Why EB is the best game in town” by Nathan Stout (****)

Also really good. In a strange way, the issue with the rules he ran into with this contest was more devastating in it’s clarity of why the winning video shouldn’t have won, but from a story telling standpoint the rules confusion present in the Rosa’s contest was a tiny bit more compelling, cos your head is spinning trying to figure out why they did it that way.

Post #62 (March 10, 2010) – “DFW is the heart of North Texas” by Nathan Stout (*****)

This post can keep you busy for almost an hour with all the videos linked to. While I realize that that’s not ideal for the low attention span, it is a great read for those willing to take a bit of time with it. As you may be able to tell by now, Nathan went through and wrote up his experiences with video contests, and by some sort of luck posted them all in a row starting on Monday. This gave me the idea to do a theme week. I quickly brainstormed how we could fill in the next four days and set about writing the next day’s post which responds to Nathan’s posts.

Post #63 (March 11, 2010) – “Why Nathan Is Just Crazy” by Chris McGinty (*****)

While this only adds a little detail here and there about my involvement (or lack of involvement (or attempted lack of involvement)) I do so with great wit. I’m not tooting my horn so much here. There is some funny stuff in this article. There have been plenty of these posts where I’ve read what I wrote and thought myself dry and uninteresting, so give me my moment. Oh, and look forward to my post on being philosophically one sighted (as of this writing unwritten, but all the clues are here as to what I’ll write it about.)

Post #64 (March 12, 2010) – “Summer Project 199Hate” by Chris McGinty (****)

If I could attach Miguel’s telling of the making of Summer Project ’94 to my rating, this would easily be a 5-star rating. Sadly, when Miguel was writing the history of the show he did a great job of it. Otherwise, this article is sort of limited in what it could do without retelling. I think there is a good point made about unified sense of purpose, which I revisit in a written but as yet unpublished piece. But I may still get that in before post #100 (yeah this one) so it’s ok.

Post #65 (March 13, 2010) – “Sony Contest Part Dupe” by Chris McGinty (****)

Again, if you go and read Miguel’s account of Summer Project ’95 you’ll be far more entertained. And again I make a good point about self media. Basically, about as good as the last one.

Post #66 (March 14, 2010) – “The Whimmy” by Nathan Stout (***)

This is a dry piece (that I admittedly told Nathan to write to round out the theme week) that is only made less relevant by the fact that we haven’t done anything with the concept yet. If I could get internet out at this post, I could search all night for Whimmy content, but it ain’t happening.

Post #67 (March 15, 2010) – “Spring Break” by Chris McGinty (***)

A dry report about what was going on that week ATW wise.

Post #68 (March 16, 2010) – “The big gig that never was” by Nathan Stout (****)

This was a good one. The only thing I remember about this other than it being an enjoyable read was that Nathan jumped back and forth between past and present tense so much that I went over to his house and looked for the time machine. I know, I said I wasn’t going to count off for technical issues, and I didn’t. It’s just an observation. At our weekly meeting that week I went through and did some editing to clean it up a bit. Even reading the edit, I still missed some.

Post #69 (March 17, 2010) – “NetRunner: The Collectible Card Game” by Nathan Stout (****)

I’m trying to think what I was doing on St. Patrick’s Day this year. I bet I was wearing purple clothing though, because Nathan was certainly wearing Runner green! I know that sometimes I don’t make sense to you, but it’s ok. The thing is I somehow missed this post, which is sort of amazing cos I read all the posts, and Net Runner is my favourite game. I note that on Thursday we did a joint post, so I never had a reason to sign in that day and see that I missed a post. There is a heavy tone of comparison of prices when Nathan bought his collection and today, but mostly this is a good read.

Post #70 (March 18, 2010) – “Oh my blog... what's this?!” by Chris McGinty & Nathan Stout (****)

Not as good as the first joint blog, but a few good parts. It’s sort of interesting because we wrote this together where one of us typed and then the other. It flows pretty well with only a little bit of manipulation of what we say.

Post #71 (March 19, 2010) – “My Weekend Alone - Day One: Dealing with Setbacks” by Chris McGinty (***)

I’m leaning towards 4-stars on this one because it has a couple of good jokes at the start, but one of them would only be understood by a handful of people. What I can say about this one, and articles that are similar, is that having even the slightest format to play with can improve your writing. In this case, it was to write a post for each of the three days my roommates were gone.

Post #72 (March 20, 2010) – “My Weekend Alone – Day Two: Setting Aside Time” by Chris McGinty (***)

Not really that entertaining. Maybe format backfires sometimes.

Post #73 (March 21, 2010) – “My Weekend Alone – Day Three: The Snowstorm I Created” by Chris McGinty (****)

The best of the three. It tells an otherwise boring tale pretty well. One paragraph sort of even rewards those who have read all the blogs, though the jokes aren’t so funny that you need to change your approach to what you’re reading.

Post #74 (March 22, 2010) – “Exaggeration and Limitation” by Chris McGinty (****)

This is pretty good. It examines idea generation again but in a slightly different way. The only real problem is I felt directionless when I wrote it, and it shows.

Post #75 (March 23, 2010) – “Knowing your place” by Nathan Stout (*****)

Nathan jokes at the end of the article about how good it is, but the truth of the matter is that I think this may be Nathan’s Finest Hour, and if not that it’s at least Nice. Kidding and semi-obscure references aside, upon reading this a second time, I do realize that it is a very well written piece and that I wasn’t merely swept up in temporary fascination when I first read it. Strongly recommended.

Post #76 (March 24, 2010) – “Not Burying the Past so Peeps Don’t Have to Waste Time Digging it Up” by Chris McGinty (****)

A response to Nathan’s previous post. It’s pretty amusing, but it’s a bit sporadic, or I might have ridden Nathan’s coattails on the 5-star train.

Post #77 (March 25, 2010) – “News Story: Wife Wins $9 Million From Mistress” by Miguel Cruz (*****)

Yeah, you read that right, Miguel snuck in under the wire to have inclusion in this review. The odd thing is that unless he posts something up really soon that is just not that good, he will have a 100% 5-star record. I’m not going to tell him this, because while now he probably won’t post because he’s lazy, if I told him he wouldn’t post claiming it was to keep this record in tact. Also, I may still give his other post 4-stars. I’ll deal with it when I get there. I plan to write a rebuttal to this one day, maybe before this review to trap Miguel into wanting to be argumentative. (NOTE: I did and it made Miguel argumentative, but he was too lazy to post it.)

Post #78 (March 26, 2010) – “Season 3 - Like Gone with the Wind...” by Nathan Stout (***)

This one feels like how my writing would feel if I wrote it on a day when I had nothing to write about, so I presume Nathan wrote it on day when he had nothing to write about.

Post #79 (March 27, 2010) – “Accidentally Becoming Employed” by Chris McGinty (****)

I sort of want to give this one 5-stars, but again I don’t think it’s focused enough. By the time I get to the good points I make you sift through a lot of meaningless detail. What prompted this writing was I was somehow told twice in less than 48 hours that I shouldn’t be smug about a previous employer, impressed by my work ethic (his words), calling me and handing me a job when others were struggling to find a job. This article is simply why I have every right to be proud of myself for being able to find work. And as an added bonus, I since picked up some self-employed work hanging fliers door to door. If you read the post you’ll understand why I feel a bit “smug” about that too.

Post #80 (March 28, 2010) – “Old Man Defends His Wife's Honor” by Miguel Cruz (*****)

Miguel starts his second entry by discussing that if this blog still exists he will know that this situation transpired on March 27, 2010. All I can say is he doesn’t truly understand redundant backups. Here’s the thing about this. I would probably give it 4-stars for the fact that like my discussion of employment it meanders a while to get to the good stuff. Placing these two separate stories in the same piece only really works for journal writing. I give him the benefit of the doubt that this more or less was, and he just happened to post it up here as well. Also, what he wrote about his family conflicts was amusing enough. Finally, Nathan seemed to have loved this one. And I’m thinking that since Nathan might put it in the best of the best category for this blog, then so will I.

Post #81 (March 29, 2010) – “Review: Valley of the Pharaohs” by Nathan Stout (****)

As I said in the Watchman Motion Comic review, Nathan does a good job here of giving a helpful review. If I was considering buying the game, I think I would have enough information after reading this review to make my decision.

Post #82 (March 30, 2010) – “Alpha Player” by Nathan Stout (*****)

I know you’re thinking this is a post about Scott macking on Marlene, but it’s not. It’s a half story, half review of Nathan becoming an Alpha-tester on one of his favourite game franchises. I think the enthusiasm is infections. A quick note: I agree with Nathan’s belief about 2D as opposed to 3D on simulation games, but not on open-world style games (GTA 3 and beyond). He refers to The Sims but he is really referring to The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. The Sims was 2D.

Post #83 (March 31, 2010) – “About to Go to Work” by Chris McGinty (*)

Yeah. 1-star. Go read what 1-star means. Nuff said.

Post #84 (April 1, 2010) – “Saving the Daily (Don’t Put Off ‘til Tomorrow What You Can Do Todaily)” by Chris McGinty (****)

A few funny bits sort of save this. I actually mention this review in there. It’s April 8, 2010 as of this writing, so I’ve been reading all these and writing my thoughts on them for a little over a week now. I did immediately get a couple of standbys uploaded to the blog, one of which is pretty good, so I need to get two more up there to push one out of the dugout, and out of the warm up box, and let it get it’s turn at bat.

Post #85 (April 2, 2010) – “Christopher McGinty - Heir Apparent” by Nathan Stout (****)

All I can say about this is, “Awwwww, how sweet!”

Post #86 (April 3, 2010) – “Stoutkiller's Card of the Day: Death from Above” by Chris McGinty (****)

I think this is a fun read, even if it’s just about a Thursday meeting. I’d like to note that Nathan is saying he’s sick and not likely to get together for this week’s meeting. I’m willing to bet the editing isn’t done either. (NOTE: As of finishing the edit to post this in about two and a half hours, Nathan has begun work on the editing.)

Post #87 (April 4, 2010) – “Sound is important” by Nathan Stout (****)

Nathan discusses audio issues after picking a very noisy public park to shoot in. I guess this does make me wonder about “Chris and Miguel: A Hate Story.” I discussed in one of my posts about how I thought we had a decent video that was being treated like it sucked. If audio is really 50% of the experience then maybe that’s what happened with our video. Miguel and I did shoot in the same very noisy public park after all.

Post #88 (April 5, 2010) – “Herbie the Love Doodad” by Nathan Stout (*****)

An enjoyable piece, and somewhat informative to start with. I had wanted Nathan to do a documentary when he had the first Beetle showing the rebuilding of the car, but he never really worked on the car. Unfortunately, there is really no documentary to be had with the second one since it was running and someone else is doing the work on it. Although I may have to brush up on my KITT voice for our next standalone sketch Stout Rider: A lone figure in a shadowy world and a man who doesn’t exist with a car that talks. I’m thinking KITT will be disgruntled from being put into a German car, when the sleek black design was nice enough.

Post #89 (April 6, 2010) – “Herbie the Love Doodad Jr.” by Chris McGinty (****)

I literally state that I wrote this post because I had more to say about Nathan’s post than should go in the comments section. Even still it is a pretty entertaining read.

Post #90 (April 7, 2010) – “Script writing” by Nathan Stout (****)

To me this one doesn’t seem as informative as it is since I already know most of what Nathan has to say. I guess I wonder how useful someone who is just starting down the road of movie and TV scripts would find it.

Post #91 (April 8, 2010) – “Tips for Door to Door Fliers” by Chris McGinty (*****)

While I don’t deal with how to find clients, which may have been useful information too, this is a pretty useful tool for someone getting into the business. I thought of a lot of it while I was out doing a job, so I was able to be pretty detailed.

Post #92 (April 9, 2010) – “List Five Things You Want” by Chris McGinty (****)

A prompt exercise gone… right! Compartmentalizing the different reasons I have for doing the show allowed me to make good points that I hadn’t realized I even needed to find words for. I can only hope that in going through my other prompt exercises I find material as good to work with.

Post #93 (April 10, 2010) – “A Rebuttal: Why I Shouldn’t Be Trying to Get on Your Wife’s Buttal” by Chris McGinty (****)

As the title states this is a rebuttal. No trick meanings there. It’s really a rebuttal. What makes this good is more the points made than the execution. While my argument is clearly better reasoned (I’m not kidding) Miguel’s initial writing is more entertaining.

Post #94 (April 11, 2010) – “Halfway Point and a Prompt Exercise” by Chris McGinty (**)

Not very good. Just trying to fill the screen at that point, and to dump a limited prompt exercise that I didn’t think I could expand much on.

Post #95 (April 12, 2010) – “Acting is for fools” by Nathan Stout (***)

Sort of a weird plea for others to join us in our misery (read: good times and mega fun.) Short. Yeah, short.

Post #96 (April 13, 2010) – “Lesser Talk about a Laptop” by Chris McGinty (***)

This one isn’t a total loss, I guess. I did get a battery, and it’s working fine.

Post #97 (April 14, 2010) – “I am not a robot!” by Nathan Stout (***)

This is pretty much Nathan’s Manifesto. I’m a conservative not a Republican, Washington is messed up, and politicians suck. I agree with much of what he has to say, but there is something missing in the execution. I can’t really put my finger on what to be honest.

Post #98 (April 15, 2010) – “I Am Robot, Hear Me Whirr” by Chris McGinty (****)

This is pretty good. I feel sometimes like I’m not writing clearly, and I’m happy when I read over something and find out it was clear. The title popped into my head in a couple of stages, and it made me laugh.

Post #99 (April 16, 2010) – “Are 'birthers' so crazy or do they just scare you?” by Nathan Stout (***)

I’m not sure if it’s fair to give Nathan 3-stars on this one. I don’t know a whole lot about the issue, maybe because it’s probably not an issue. I’m also sort of coming in under a deadline here, so you know. I might research this topic and write a response. If I change my mind about the rating, I’ll drop it in there. If I don’t write it… my opinion didn’t change.

Post # 100 (April 17, 2010) – “One Hundred and Counting” by Chris McGinty (****)

I think this turned out alright. I’m simply hoping it fits on Blogspot. I don’t know if they have a limit. I’m also hoping that the links remain in tact. I copied them from the blog, and it copied the link too. Anyway, this is 18 pages of pure reviewedness. Sometimes it is interesting, and sometimes not, but it is informative, and I enjoyed reading through everything and writing this.