On Trains and Drum & Bass

Over the years, I have met many people who don't like electronic music. One sub-genre in particular I have noticed is especially hard for newcomers to appreciate is drum & bass. It's an extremely polarizing style of electronic music. You basically either love it or you can't stand it and there's not much middle ground.

One of the reasons I think that is so, is because it's just so overwhelming the first time you listen to it. You almost have to train yourself on what to actually listen for.

In that regard, I equate listening to drum and bass to riding on a train (or a car for those of you who don't ride the rails). If you look out of the train as your riding, or if you're riding shotgun staring out the passenger window of a car, you see the landscape whizzing by you very quickly. If you focus on the details in the foreground your eyes are going to be overwhelmed and your head is going to start to hurt, you might get nauseous and you're not going to enjoy the view. Same with the hyper fast signature beat of drum and bass.

Admittedly, not all drum & bass is created equal and when I speak of the genre which is rife with it's own deluge of sub-genres, I am generally speaking of what has become known as 'liquid' drum & bass, best exemplified by the music being put out on Hospital Records. Although, Tony Coleman and company over at Hospital would probably be dismayed to see me pigeonhole their music so, in the end, Hospital records is a brand and their distinctive sound acts as that brand's identity.

Anyway, back to the subject, the beats behind drum & bass which generally run in the 120 bpm range are typically the biggest hurdle for new listeners to clear. It can be overwhelming, overpowering and stifling. Of course, with some songs, that's the whole point, however with others, it's more of a backdrop.

As with a train ride, the beauty of the landscape is not found in the up-close details but rather out on the horizon. Rather than focusing on the foreground we let it whizz by unnoticed and focus on the bigger picture. With drum & bass, the principle is the same. Let the beat become a backdrop, a set pattern, and then focus on the minute variations in that pattern. That is the point at which the artistry of drum & bass becomes apparent. Many people believe that electronic music is devoid of such virtuosity, and they are entitled to their opinions, but it shows great skill for a DJ or producer to manipulate the layers of a track deftly enough to become evocative, energizing or contemplative.

Well that's enough philosophizing, how about some train videos?

None of these actually feature drum & bass music, but they're still good. The first two are mine (not my music though) and the third is a pretty awesome music video by Michael Gondry.


Working is for Losers

me: today was the wrong day to wear a black shirt

Brooke: i am wearing black too

me: hopefully you are not covered in dust

Brooke: i am sure someone there has a lint roller

me: it's no big deal. I will be down here for the rest of the day

no one will see my shame

Brooke: in your dungeon?

me: ye3s

Brooke: i am not ashamed of you, but your brother is

what are you doing now?

me: trying not to inhale

when do you start getting vacation time?

Brooke: i think in Jan

me: ok

that sucks

Brooke: why?

me: I want to run away!

working is for losers

Brooke: lal

you want to run away on vacation time?

me: as Pete and I used to say back in high school: Jobs are for sucks

yeah I figure at least then we could get away with it
and still be able to come back in 3 weeks to get more money

Brooke: so running away is not permanent

me: well it depends on how you look at it, I guess

Brooke: we could just become bank robbers

me: that would be cool

Brooke: like in point break

me: no way, I don't want to die

we gotta do it like the cat burglar dudes that never get caught

Brooke: ok, we won't die

or we could be like the couple in pulp fiction

me: yeah because they seemed to have such a high success rate

Brooke: and we are definitely smarter than they are

me: all it takes is one badass motherfucker and your day is ruined

Brooke: but i am the bamfer

me: no sam jackson is

Brooke: well, if he is not there, then i am

i called it 1st

me: fine

Brooke: cheer up

me: it's cool I'll be the suave sophisticated one

and I'll always dress better than you

Brooke: what?

you wish

me: yeah bad ass mother fuckers don't get to wear cute shoes

keep that in mind

Brooke: yes they do

uma thurman did in kill bill

me: dammit

good point

Brooke: i know

that is why i am the bamfer and get to do all the talkin

me: no the bamfer never talks

Brooke: you stand there and look intimidating

me: no that's your job

the bamfer is the intimidator

you gotta learn the rules

the suave sophisticated one does the talking

Brooke: maybe i'll just be both

me: fine

I'll wait in the car

Brooke: and be the driver?

me: no

Brooke: or will i do that too?

me: I'll just pick the best CDs

Brooke: ok sounds like a plan


Stolen: Swiggity

It appears that I am too late! Someone named Davidissimo has gone back in time four years and coined my new word right out from under me!

As I try to figure out how he was able to construct a time machine able to read my thoughts and then travel back to the year 2003 and post them on the Internet, I will go ahead and post the word here, anyway.

(Actually, I was already aware that this word has been around for a while, I can't really remember when I first started saying it, probably somewhere around 2003 or 2004 when I was a senior in college. So I take no credit for its invention, but I love it nonetheless.)

Coined: Swiggity
usage: adjective or interjection.

Slang or abbreviation for "sweet". As Davidissimo points out, it can be used by itself or in conjunction with the word sweet.

Dude #1: "Hey did you see that Sony is thinking about cutting the price of the PS3?"
Dude #2: "Oh, that would be swiggity sweet!"

Dude #1 (upon finding a 5 dollar bill in the couch cushions): "Swiggity."


Blog Like It's the End of the World!

Well, it looks like June 13th - National 'Blog Like It's The End of the World' day was a huge success.

I have to admit I had no idea about this phenomenon until yesterday morning. It took me by surprise and I just got caught up in the act. I judging by comments on My Elves Are Different, that happened to a lot of people. I think it's kind of funny how blogging about a false zombie attack swept the internet and 'infected' people just like a zombie plague. Albeit, a plague that only seemed to effect geeks and English majors (I got my degree in Journalism, thank you very much ;).

If you missed out on the fun, be sure to stay tuned next year. It sounds like we will be trying for June 13th again. It should be awesome because June 13th is a Friday!


R.I.P. Mr. Wizard

You can read Mr. Wizard's final interview here.

At least the zombies didn't get him, I guess.

I made it

By the power of grayskull. I made it. Obviously, since you're reading this. I freakin' made it!

It was seriously messed up though. I was about to leave when I figured I'd try to take a look out the window. See if the coast was clear. Stupid, I know. I saw 28 Weeks Later and it went down just like that first scene. I pulled back the blinds just a little bit, but it was already, like, right there. Hand came through the window, catching on the broken glass, punching through my screen just a bloody claw. It scared me so bad I jumped back, tripped and landed on the couch. Just sitting there, mortified, like I was watching TV. Watching the hand recede scraping off flesh from its arm and make a mess of my favorite lamp which was situated under the window.

I just sat there for another moment. It was outside moving around, trying to find another way in. I got that feeling like when you see a spider. It scares you at first, but then you just get pissed. You realize that you're better than it is and you know you can take it out, but you just don't want to.

Luckily, I have a back entrance. I still have to sneak around back and go past the zombie, but it might not see me.

Quietly (or at least as quiet as I can be with heavy boots and a backpack full of crap) I open the back door, and head out. For some reason, I locked it behind me. I guess I thought that if this whole thing blows over it'd be nice to come back for some of my things.

I came out into the alley behind my building and crouched behind my dumpster. It smelled awful, but I'm sure compared to zombies I was getting off light.

I spotted two at the end of the alley across the street. Dammit. I decided to cut back around to the front of my building and take my chances with the single zombie that may still be outside my window.

Just as I came around the corner it lunged at me. Tried to grab me by the shoulders and bite my neck. It was shorter than me. I pushed back and it fell on its' ass. I was about to take off running, but I stopped and looked back. It was my upstairs neighbor's kid.

He was a senior in high school, just graduated. Good kid. Something came over me. I don't know why, but I turned back. Hammer in hand, he was on his feet again. I got closer and he lunged at me, I stepped to the side and brought the hammer down right on the back of his head. Poor kid. His body convulsed a little bit on the ground.

I took a look around to see if any others had spotted me.

I didn't want to run if I didn't have to. Too much noise, and I'm not fast enough. I got low and tried to take a look around. In the middle of the circle was the Early Childhood Center. Little kids. We're talking preschoolers. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn't see any, but the idea of zombie toddlers was far worse than zombie adults.

Trying to regain my composure. The Beastie Boys started going through my head. Slow & Low that is the tempo... I looked down at my hammer and saw a chunk of scalp in the claw. I almost dropped it. I shook it a bit and rubbed it on the bushes to get it off. I couldn't remember the rules. Touch be blood and your infected? Is it the plague thing? Better play it safe.

I kept down moving from cover to cover. I flashed back to my childhood playing 'Guns' in the backyard. Made it to the street. Do I cross or take the long way around.

I heard a train! There's no way I can get to platform in time to see if its actually being operated by humans (besides it was headed toward the city and I'm sure that was a real fun-house right about now), but the noise would cover up my movements as I cut straight through to the library.

I ran.

I think the last time I ran that hard, was fifth grade. Trying to get the best mile time for the Presidential Fitness Award.

Looking over I could see a zombie-mom. She had been slumped against her SUV, now she was following. The two zombies I had seen at the end of the alley had spotted me and were moving in my direction. Were these fast-zombies? I couldn't tell yet. I had been looking around so much that I hadn't been watching were I was going and across the street a little girl was running toward me.

I started to run toward her, figuring I could scoop her up and keep running. She looked to be 5 or 6 years old, wearing a little yellow sun dress. Closer. She was a zombie. I tried to turn away from her, but she was running... why the fuck was she running? Romero, Boyle make up your minds! Fast or slow!?

She was almost on me. I kicked. The way you do when you're shooting a goal in soccer. Full body, leg up behind me, step, BAM. I swear to god she flew, like, 15 feet. She hit a parked car. That did not just happen.

I kept running. It had hardly broken my stride. Looking back she was up. Something broken, she was following but not running anymore.

I looked forward, the fire station was ahead. The doors were open, the fire engines were parked. I saw a head poke out from behind one of the engines. Fuck me sideways. Goddamn zombie firefighters. This is not happening.

The front doors of the library won't open with my electronic key fobb. I need to get to the back door. Fastest way is between the fire station and the library. I'm not going that way.

I take the long way around. More zombie firefighters are coming out to see what all the commotion is. The train is gone now. I'm making a lot of noise.

Running the long way 'round the library, I see a few more of them around the other side of the circle. Across the street though, dozens. All by the train stop. I slow down to get a better look. Looks like some people had run to the train stop to flag down the passing train, I see one guy get taken down by 3 of them. I stand there watching with morbid fascination. Seems safe from 70 yards away.

The windows of the parked car I'm standing next to explode outward. Glass shards everywhere, it knocks me to my knees, but I'm up again trying to figure out what just happened. The apartment complex next to the library has balconies. Looks like one of them was up there. Saw me. Fell over the railing landed on the car.

Time to leave.

The firefighters are coming around the corner now. I gotta head towards them to get to the door. I run full blast, almost to the door but the zombie is closer. It worked on the little girl, I'll try it again. I put my foot into his chest. I feel his rib cage give before he's flung backward knocking down the others. I veer right, unlock the door, slam it closed and press my back up against it.

Alarm is going off. What a great way to compliment my day, I think to myself as I try to remember the pass code. Takes me a couple tries, but I finally get it off. Or should I leave it on? No. Off. Definitely off.

It dawns on me that I'm safe. If the alarm was on that means no one came into work yet. The motion detectors would have triggered the alarm too if anyone had broken in.

I take a couple deep breaths. Think about throwing up a little bit. I haven't eaten anything today except coffee.

I can hear the firefighters outside. Time to leave.

Up on the roof I've got some food from the staff fridge. A laptop, Internet is still working for now (obviously). I even found a foldy lounge chair. Awesome. I pull out my cellphone. I think it's finally safe to start calling some people.

I call my girlfriend.

"Hey baby, how are you?" she answers.
"I'm pretty good. Are you surprised to hear from me?"
"Yeah, I took you for a goner. I'm not gonna lie."
"Great, thanks. I can see you were real broken up about it too." I said
"Where are you?"
"I'm on the roof of the library."
"Ooooh, nice. How was the trip over?"
"Uh... it was intersting"
"Did you kill any of them? Have you been bitten?" A mixture of concern and disappointment in her voice.

"No, not a scratch. I'm good. I killed like 2 and a half." I said.
"What? What's this half shit? You either kill them or you don't."
"Yeah well, how many did you kill?"
"More like how many haven't I killed? I've been preparing for this since... hold on."


"Sorry, one of the people I am with got bitten earlier and didn't tell anybody. I just took care of it." She said.
"Wow, I'm surprised you're with people. I thought you said when the zombie invasion starts it's everyone for themselves?"
"Baby, don't say the 'Z' word. It's totally scary!"

"My bad. I think I'm going to let you go though for now. I need to call my family and see how they're doing. If they're alive maybe I could steal a car and we could drive out to their house in the country?"
"So this is what it's finally going to take to get you to drive a car?"
"Whatev." I said. "I'll talk to you later."
"Okay, I love you."
"I love you too. Stay safe."
"I will."

So that's been pretty much everything up until now. It's a nice day to be up on a roof. Kinda hot. Wish I had packed shorts. I guess the zombies won't object if I walk around in my boxers. But I see "_blank">Obvious has commented on my last entry and it seems that there is some hope.

Sweet. Looks like I'll just hang out here. Wish I had some beers.


It's happening outside Chicago too

Just outside Chicago in Elmwood park.

I woke up this morning like every other morning. Alarms blaring, hitting snooze over and over again until 7:30 rolls around. I stumbled out of bed like a zombie, made the coffee opened the blinds, turned on my computer for e-mails and feeds.

In retrospect, I can't believe I made it through the morning. I live in a basement apartment, so I can see people's legs when they walk by my building. I noticed more people than normal out and about around my building this morning, but I really didn't think that much of it.

I never noticed anything out of the ordinary until I sat down and checked my feeds. Sifting through stuff about Apple's keynote and 'summer-movie' round-ups I ran into a post from Geeks of Doom about a zombie outbreak.

I figured it was about a movie and actually skipped right past it, but my girlfriend loves zombie movies so I figured I read it and forward it to her.

I thought it was just some great fan fiction when I read it until I clicked on some links to others in San Francisco and around the world. I checked CNN and there was a splash page up, like they had when 9-11 occurred. Zombies.

I got that cold chill of realization and it finally dawned on me how quiet it was outside. All I could hear was the birds. I hadn't heard a train horn all morning. I could still hear jets taking off from O'Hare though.

It's about 9am now. I've been sitting in my apartment for too long. It's a basement apartment so I'm not safe here. One window pops and a zombie needs only fall in here and I'm screwed.

Like I said, I can't believe I made it through the morning. I ran the coffee grinder, for chrissakes.

So now, there's no time for a shower. I need to get out of here. I work at the Library just around the circle shaped drive, I have to get there. If the electricity is still on, I can get through the electronic locks, I can get on the roof. I don't know what time the library opened but if this shit went down while the doors were still closed there should be nobody in there.

The only problem is I have to get around the circle and the circle is the hub of Elmwood Park. I'm bound to see at least 20 of them. I have no weapons, save for some kitchen knives and a hammer.

I close the blinds to my windows. I don't want any of them to see me moving inside. I'm trying to stay calm and think rationally. I grab my biggest backpack. Load it with a change of clothes, my camera, cell phone... ARGH, what am I doing I can get all this stuff at the library! We have digital cameras, laptops, food it's all there, I don't need to bring it with me, it will just slow me down.


Fuck. I never read the zombie survival guide. I don't know how to deal with this shit. That was my girlfriend's thing!

Ok. So I think what she would do. But I have no idea. I'm wasting time.

I rummage through my closet and grab my tent. I may have to camp out on the roof? I don't know, it seems like a good idea.

I grab my winter coat. I have a sturdy pair of boots too. Jeans, extra socks. I'm remembering some of the war books I read in high school.

A few minutes go by and I think I might have everything. Wait... sunglasses. Yes.

Outside, I can hear a lawnmower. I peek out the window and see the mower go by under it's own power. Just gliding over the lawn and sidewalk until it's out of view again.

Knives. Screw the knives. I don't know how to stab anything. I opt for the hammer. I'm a big guy I should be able to club a zombie pretty well, but I don't know. I haven't been in a fight since grade school.

I've got my gear. I think I'm ready. Wait. Take one more look around. I may never see this place again.

I grab some stupid personal mementos.

Time to go. If you're reading this, I'll try to post again when I get there. If the power's on and the Internet is working.

Who am I kidding. No one ever reads my blog anyway.