January 29, 2006

Design Additions

For the first time ever, the Blowtorch has added additional information on the right hand side of your screen. There will be periodic updates to the catalogue. So now, whenever you want, you can enjoy the online goodness that I do.

January 27, 2006


Just the other night, Fusilli and I were watching Lost (or as you might know it, The Best Drama on TV) and a commercial comes on. Very strange commercial, lots of oranges and blues, no dialogue. Well eventually, they say that the product is the Gillette Fusion and it's coming 2/5/06. Needless to say, I've never seen a preview for a razor, nor has my boo.

Fast forward to last night. After helping the pretty move in to her suitably gorgeous house, I return home to a package on my counter. What is in this package you ask? Thats right. The Gillette Fusion. Now I don't understand why I would receive a promotional razor in the mail, but this isn't the first time. Back when I was 16ish I got a Mach 3 in the mail. When that happened I figured it was because I was starting to be a man, and some evidence supporting that theory has been reinforced with this latest mailing. For instance, not only had I recently seen, and been confused by, the Fusion commercial; I had already planned on shaving last night. Coincidence? I think not. Furthermore, I started my first full-time (not some-time) job this week. This is surely a sign of manliness, and obviously supports my theory that Gillette will mail you a free razor when they sense that you are becoming more manly. I expect to receive their newest model whenever I buy a house and things of that sort.

But back to the razor. The only way that I can describe it is by referencing an old Saturday Night Live skit that was on when the Mach 3 was first released. In this skit, the old SNLers are poking fun at the proliferation of blades that are appearing on razors. "HAHAHA look! 4 and/or 5 blades!" Pretty funny at the time, but I got news for you Jack -- the Fusion has 5 blades. On the front. And another on the back for trimming. Now I can't see why a face would need 5 blades, but here is my guess:

  • Blade 1 - the Point Man. First on the scene. Gets rid of the majority of the foliage on your face.
  • Blade 2 - the Clean-Up Man. Gets all the hairs that Blade 1 missed and leaves you smooth.
  • Blade 3 - the Icing on the Cake. Cleans up after the last two. And just makes sure everything is perfect.
  • Blade 4 - That Guy. "Hey. You guys shaving hairs off faces? I'll shave hairs off faces."
  • Blade 5 - the Mystery Friend. Not really sure how they got there, but there they are. Kind of just along for the ride.
Sure I was using personification1 above, but you get the idea. It seems that a face would be able to make due with 2 blades, or even just one if its done by a barber with that knifety thing. 3 seems just about ideal, and anything past that is just superfluous. Not to mention the little fellow on the back who just straightens you up and helps produces fine, well-manicured facial hair lines, a formerly surefire indicator of homo/metrosexuality. But now that perfectly coifed facial hair is as easy as a turn of the razor, you'll be seeing guys with perfect lines everywhere. Not too manly. Needless to say, I will be shunning this blade virtually always.

So that's the Gillette Fusion in a nutshell. I don't know why it's advertised. I don't know why I got a free one in the mail. I don't know why there are 3 "extra" blades. But it left my face pretty smooth so I can't complain.

Almost forgot. It has a terrible name. But thanks Gillette!

  1. A powerful literary device.

January 23, 2006

New Favorite Song

If you think Tom Cruise is creepy (and honestly, how could you not), then you will enjoy this link that I stole from Stereogum.

"Having My Alien Baby"

It's silly. Enjoy. And this will hopefully be the last post that is only a link. I'm busy.

January 21, 2006

April Can't Come Soon Enough

The week of April 2nd is shaping up to be pretty much the bomb awesome. First, on the 3rd (Monday) I will be seeing Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with my boo. I'll be buying those tickets in 2 hours and 44 minutes. And then on the 7th (Friday), the Strokes come to town. So basically, by the end of the week I will not be able to hear a thing and be very happy about that fact.

January 18, 2006

Bad Tattoos

This website compiles a ton of pictures of people with absolutely horrid tattoos. It's hilarious, so click on it and enjoy.

January 15, 2006

Links Fest

Here is a list:

  1. "Ize of the World" is my favorite song off of First Impressions of Earth. Lyrically, it is the most philosophical thing that Casablancas has written, which is certainly a departure. And musically it is the best signifier of where the Strokes are at right now. There are experimental bits (the noise freak-outs at beginning and end), Strokesy parts (the verses and Casablancas screaming), a guitar solo that includes that synth-like effect, and more complex song structures. It's a microcosm of what they tried to accomplish with First Impressions of Earth, a blending of experimentalism and traditionalism.
  2. I think that my pinky fingers are set low. When I put my hands in to gloves, all my fingers reach the tips of the gloves except for my pinkies. They seem to be about a 1/4th of an inch shorter than I would assume they would be.
  3. Killing Bono, by Neil McCormick is a surprisingly good book. It's the author's true story of trying to make it in the music business after having gone to school with Bono and the rest of U2. The writing is like that of a less talented Klosterman and succeeds in humanizing Bono, which I thought was impossible since he seems to be a world saving, AIDS curing, nuclear bomb dismantling robotron.
  4. The Blowtorch is the #1 Google search result for "you know how i know youre gay you listen to coldplay." And I couldn't be happier.
  5. Da Bears play their first playoff game today. They're going to win. Just like the Denver Broncos.
  6. Their is a lot of good music coming to the area in the near future. Arctic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Ladytron just to name a few.
  7. I won't be going to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's show because it is on my mom's birthday, which is more important.
  8. I got a digital camera for Christmas, and after I enjoyed it for all of one day I left it at my Grandma's. I haven't seen it for three weeks. I am an "idiot."
  9. If you aren't already reading Questionable Content, you should be. It should also be noted that they sell t-shirts that rocker chicks tend to like.
  10. Speaking of selling t-shirts, head on over to Threadless. Lots of cool stuff, and if you use that link I get the hook up.
  11. This list is a blatant rip-off of the Soulseeking feature over at Stylus Magazine.
  12. I just got my goblin feet on the original Arcade Fire demos. They're quite different from Funeral. There is more of a Neil Young influence to the music, not just in Win's voice. You can also sense a bit of Radiohead in some of the songs (like the superb "My Mind is a Freeway"). These were made before Regine joined the band, so the orchestral instrumentation isn't there, and 2 of the songs have a different singer who is no longer in the band. If you see these around on the Internet give them a listen.
  13. Here is a short list of blogs that have influenced (read: been ripped off by) me and the postings on the Blowtorch:

January 10, 2006

More First Impressions

Here is a set of reviews of the 3 Strokes albums, courtesy of Tiny Mix Tapes. I think they're spot on, except that I like "Razorblade" and the reviewer thinks it is filler. Agree to disagree.

January 7, 2006

Frankenberry, improving racial relations since 1971

In hindsight, this is a very bizarre story. I remembered it on my way to work this morning:

My freshman year of college (2001), I, like many freshman living in the dorms, would often enjoy breakfast at the oft-maligned Krasa Center. While the Kras has quite the array of choices for both lunch and dinner, their breakfast selection is very sparse and always repetitive. With that knowledge I sent my mom on a mission. To improve my breakfasts, I had her get me a box of Frankenberry.

If you're not familiar with Frankenberry, I feel a little bit sorry for you. Essentially, Frankenberry is the strawberry flavored cousin of Count Chocula. Rather than a chocolate flavored morsel, Frankenberry's is pink and stawberry and the marshmallows follow the same design. It is my favorite cereal and can be easily combined with Count Chocula to form a delicious hybrid that I like to call Dr. Chocoberry. But I digress.

After my mother delivered the coveted Frankenberry I soon began singing it's praises. This lead to an all to familiar "Prove It" challenge. Since there was rarely milk in my dorm fridge, my box of Frankenberry would often accompany me to the Kras for breakfast. While this in and of itself may sound strange, the story takes an even more bizarre twist.

One day while enjoying my Frankenberry, an older black student named Levar (or possibly Lamar, my memory fails me here) saw me eating the hard-to-find cereal.

"Is that Frankenberry? I love that stuff! Where do you find that [expletive]? I can't find that [expletive] anywhere!"

I explained to him that for some unbeknownst reason, tiny Plano, Illinois' Super Walmart often stocked Frankenberry, and even occassionally BooBerry. He was immediately jealous and shocked. I had no idea what to expect next.

"I'll give you money to have your mom get me a box."

I didn't know what to say. But after a little coaxing, Levar(Lamar) convinced me that he was good for the money. I also rationalized that even if he never got his Frankenberry, then I would have two boxes which isn't so bad. It was a while before my mom could deliver the goods to me at school, but Levar(Lamar) never forgot about their delivery. Consistent questioning of "When are those Frankenberries coming?" and "You got that Frankenberry yet?" only served as a reminder to me of how bizarre the situation truly was.

Eventually my mom delivered both my box and Levar(Lamar)'s. He couldn't have been happier the day that I handed over that delightful fuschia box and he immediately paid me the money that he had promised. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would become the Frankenberry supplier to Benedictine University, but it sure did feel good to spread the strawberry cheer.

January 2, 2006

The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth

After my stint as the music critic for Benedictine University's own Candor, I have become a well-respected member of the press. What else could explain the fact that I got the newest Strokes album, First Impressions of Earth, early?1 Needless to say, I was both ecstatic and surprised that I obtained this highly anticipated released three days prior to its scheduled release date. Though I have had the album for about 3 weeks due to leaks, I still was glad to have the actual casing and high quality versions of the songs. And my first impression (pun intended) is that this album will get horrific reviews from the alternative music press, such as Pitchfork. But I think that this is unneeded and a little unfair. Room On Fire was maligned for sounding too similar to Is This It and now that FIOE is such a departure from the typical Strokes sound I have a feeling that it will get blasted in reviews. Nonetheless, here is a track by track review of the new album:

  1. "You Only Live Once" - a typically Strokesy song that sounds a lot like Blondie as my boo has mentioned. This is probably the most expected sounding song on the album, and would be a good choice for a single.
  2. "Juicebox" - the first single with a bassline that totally rips off the Peter Gunn theme. Julian has called this an "ugly song," and I understand that. It seems to be one of those love it or hate it songs, and it appears there is about a 50/50 break. I think it sounds very similar to "Planet of Sound" by the Pixies and I like it.
  3. "Heart In a Cage" - there is some serious wailing on this track. This is the first album that has a real lead guitarist distinction for Nick Valensi, and he performs throughout the songs.
  4. "Razorblade" - my favorite song on the album even if it is a total Barry Manilow ripoff. Once again there is a big Valensi guitar solo, and it's once again it is really good.
  5. "On the Other Side" - if you like the Julian Casablancas croon, you'll probably like this song. He goes nearly Johnny Cash low on the chorus, which is pretty cool.
  6. "Vision of Division" - this sounds like a pretty typical song until the 1:50 mark where there is an almost System of A Downish solo break thing that comes pretty out of nowhere. This song, along with "Heart In a Cage" show the Strokes stretching their legs the most.
  7. "Ask Me Anything" - the closest relative to this song off the top of my head is "Eleanor Rigby" by some band called the Beatles2. This is the first Strokes song that does not have any guitars or drums in it, and they are replaced by the always creepy Melotron (written and played by Nick Valensi). The chorus is "I've got nothing to say," and the rest of the lyrics pretty much attest to that.
  8. "Electricityscape" - the intro riff on this song is the darkest one that I've ever heard from this band, but the chorus is typically light and hooky. I'm a little disappointed that the chorus' drums actually resort to the disco pattern that has been all over the radio for the past year, but I guess they work.
  9. "Killing Lies" - Nikolai Fraiture helped write this song, which is a rare occurence to wrest a song away from the perfectionist Casablancas. On a whole, this sounds like a song Interpol would do if they weren't totally into gloominess.
  10. "Fear of Sleep" - the answer is 24, and the question is how many times is the phrase "fear of sleep" uttered in this song. This is an old Lou Reed trick, and everyone knows how much these guys love VU so it's really not surprising to hear. Then again, a lot of the songs are about New York just like you know who.
  11. "15 Minutes" - have you ever wondered what the Walkmen would sound like if they did an Irish drinking song with a lounge singer as the frontman? Me neither, but at least the song isn't terrible for the last 2 minutes. Definitely not as good as a fame-is-hard song as "Take, Take, Take" by the White Stripes.
  12. "Ize of the World" - I forget how much I like this song every time I listen to it, but it sounds very Room On Firey. Also, this has a bunch of Julian yelling which is always pleasant and desirable. And for the first time on record, Fab doesn't sound entirely like a drum machine while he's playing. Real abrupt ending here, a la "She's So Heavy" by those Beatles guys.
  13. "Evening Sun" - this is a very relaxed song, and that's about all I have to say about it. Oh yeah, it was cowritten by Fab, so there you go.
  14. "Red Light" - the drum intro is ripped off from "Rock-n-Roll pt. 2," and that's not bad. Plus you get that weird guitar effect from "12:51" on not one, but two guitars. Very danceable song, so I like it.
This album is a big break from what is expected, and though I think that will result in some needlessly bad reviews it's nice to see them trying out a few new things. The musician in me really likes the complicated guitar parts and differing song structures. I think that most of the experiments are successful, and a couple of them fall flat on their face (I hope to never hear anything like "15 Minutes" again). It's pretty widely known that these guys are equally big fans of Pearl Jam and the Velvet Underground, but this is the first time that there is a very grungey influence to the music. It's shown throughout with the soft-loud songs and the wealth of solos. And though this is clearly not as strong as Is This It or Room On Fire it's still better than most of the music being released nowadays.

My score: 7.9
Predicted Pitchfork score: 6.2

  1. Full disclosure: A small independent record store somehow got their copies early and stocked them. But I am a big deal. Trust me.
  2. But not even close to nearly as good.