Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy St. Kratos Day

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day - and I couldn't be more excited about it. I've been counting down the days, as have a few of my friends.

While I will be enjoying my fair share of Guinness, that's simply a coincidence. More of a nod to the holiday (and the fact that Guinness is the best of all beers), really.

We won't be spending the day at an over-crowded pub, fighting for elbow room, and dodging the vomit in the Gents with the 'amateurs' that hijack the day. We'll be enjoying it in the comfort of my friend's house playing a video game.

Lame, you suggest? On the contrary.

The game is God of War II. The sequel to the best video game ever created, God of War.

I don't play a ton of video games. When I do play them, it's mostly sport games, notably hockey and golf. I've tried other adventure and war style games but I'm never really good (or patient) enough to get more than half way through them. They eventually become too difficult or I get distracted and don't play them for months... then have no burning desire to continue them.

God of War is the first game that hooked me so strongly that I was determined to finish the entire thing. Not only was it tremendously fun to play - the accompanying story line that goes along with it is so well developed, you're forced to finish the game to see how the story ends. It's that compelling.

I can't get into the whole thing in detail but it is based in Greek Mythology, with all its requisite creatures - Cyclops, Minotaurs, Hydras, and the like - and a heaping helping of Greek Gods - Zeus, Athena, and, of course Aries... the God of War, himself. He's the bastard you have to kill at the end to claim victory. And when you do that, you - Kratos - become the God of War, yourself.

This is where God of War II picks up. Kratos is the new God of War and I'm dying to find out what's in store for him. Can't wait to see what new creatures we'll have to destroy. Can't wait to find out what puzzles we'll need to solve. Can't wait to get sucked into the story. It's like playing a movie, is what it is. That's the best way to describe it. It's a movie that only continues when you progress through the game.

Yes, I know I'm thirty-six years old and that may seem a bit old to be playing video games. But I grew up playing them and it's still a great source of entertainment for me. Some may think thirty-six is a bit old to be playing video games... but, I suppose, it's probably too old to be out at a pub, surrounded by a bunch of drunk, annoying amateurs, too.

I'd rather be soaked in video game blood than some punk's vomit.

Our troubled hero, Kratos :

Our troubled hero, Kratos, kicking ass :

See you tomorrow, St. Kratos.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Man You Don't Meet Everyday

It is damn cold out!

Not kidding. The 'experts'* say it's a cool 24 (fahrenheit) but it 'feels like' 12 (f). Pissah. And tomorrow's supposed to be that much colder.

I love it. This is what winter is supposed to be.

Much too late, this year, for my liking but it's good to see the Old Man rear his head. It's good to be cold... for a few days at a time. Thank you, New England.

So, I don't know if it's the cold or that I have my new laptop plugged into my receiver, coming through my system. Maybe it's both. Could be, it's neither.

Something tells me it's that I've finally been able to connect my 'on-line' music to my 'old-school' listening medium - the stereo. Sounds stupid. I know. It's not.

I'm not in possession of the most state-of-the-art audio paraphenalia; a sturdy receiver and some good speakers work for me. And that's how I want to listen to these songs. Like bringing home those CDs, ten years ago, and popping them into the CD player. Earphones don't cut it. The sound has got to fill the room... this setup makes that happen. It's awesome.

(claiming this blog won't become entirely music-centric, here's a quick 'get-to-the-point' interjection)

I guess the entire point of this post was the song A Man You Don't Meet Everyday by The Pogues.

Obviously written with a male protagonist bent, Cáit O'Riordan takes this song and owns it. Her smoky, Irish voice is killer. Jack Stewart could ever be so lucky.

Oh my name is Jack Stewart
I'm a canny gun man
And a roving young fellow
I have been

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet

I have acres of land
I have men I command
I have always a shilling
To spare

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet

So come fill up your glasses
Of brandy and wine
Whatever it costs
I will pay

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet

I took out my dog
And him I did shoot
Oh, down in the County

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet

So come fill up your glasses
On brandy and wine
Whatever it costs
I will pay

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet

Your challenge, now, is... YES! You guessed it! Go find this fucking song and listen to it fourteen times.

I wouldn't have bothered to include the lyrics if it's not worth it. Believe me - it's worth it. As proven by my including the lyrics. That was pretty pointless. But you get the point.

I'm telling you. Track down and give a listen to : The Pogues - A Man You Don't Meet Everyday.

Thank me later.

*The 'experts' indicated here are the folks at The Weather Channel - In my opinion, a better option for accurate forecasting.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

You Don't Know What You Been a Missin'

Oh Boy !

It's not exactly clear how I stumbled upon this guy. I've known his name as long as I've been aware of music. Some of his 'Greatest Hits' are inavoidably recognizable - more than a few have been adopted as marketing regulars, only the words changed... to better convince you that this is the product for you.

Now I know why.

Buddy Holly.

Now. I am just beginning to understand the fuss.

Any time there's some article or television special on the 'History of Rock 'n Roll' - Buddy Holly is somehow involved. As he damn well should be.

I admit, I haven't listened to every song he's ever sung. My sample is fairly small and I'm not well informed on his history. But I gotta say... from the shit I've sampled? Buddy Holly is the real deal. It actually gets my proverbial goat that I haven't been listening to him sooner than now.

His voice is quintessentially unique. And his guitar sound is arguably in that same description. Together, the combination of those two elements, undeniably unstoppable.

I don't have enough insight at this point in my Buddy Holly experience to drench you in facts, persuasions, or lost classics - I just know that this music has managed to live on for fifty-whatever years... and remain relevant. Hell! It blows away most of the crap that's being forced through the radio today.

If you've got access to music download software, a few quick sample suggestions would be :

Down The Line
Not Fade Away
Blue Days, Black Nights
Oh Boy!
Crying, Waiting, Hoping
Rave On
Peggy Sue

And a few of those I'm sure we've all heard some version of :

That'll Be The Day
It's So Easy

(and if you don't have access to download, just check out some compilation CDs at your favourite record shop)

There are more but this is a good primer to get a nice audial glimpse of what this beast could do.

I can't claim that Buddy Holly is the best. I can, with absolute conviction, claim that he is one of the best. His unique style, undoubtedly, has influenced many a musician. Music lovers everywhere should be grateful.

All of my love
All of my kissin'
You don't know
What you been a missin'
Oh boy !