Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fede Alvarez and Ataque de Panico!

Man, I so love to see this kind of thing.

First, Neill Blomkamp with what was "Alive in Joburg" becoming District 9, then Timur Bekmambetov with "9" (which became, uh, 9), now another independent film maker, Federico "Fede" Alvarez -- who's been scrapping through at least 3 previous films since the turn of the century -- gets Hollywood attention for his short trailer, "Ataque de Panico!" (Panic Attack). And, in Hollywood, "attention" means "money".

So Alvarez is now getting recognition outside of his native Uruguay, $30 million, and -- probably most importantly -- a business relationship with caliber production studio Ghost House Pictures (Sam Raimi? Writer of Spiderman 3 (director of all 3)? Director for everything from Evil Dead to Darkman?)

Neat Cinderella story, and it’s so cool to see a guy who’s been working his tail off in film for at least the last 9 years pocket $30M – and better, build a business relationship with someone like Raimi.

Here's the music video version South American rock / punk band SNAKE, if that's more your thing.

And -- quick rant -- I hope I stop seeing Alvarez called an "unknown". Dude's been working hard for nearly a decade. He's unknown to some U.S. folks. But not for long.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On making decisions (video)

Life decisions. We all have 'em.

Here's a pseudo-animated rendition of a semi-dream my psyche tried to work through for a recent pair of my upcoming life decisions.

And it's available in HD. Because I found that funny.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free night with DAN FAUCI in Austin October 15th

So tomorrow (Thursday, October 15), Dan Fauci will be in Austin for a free evening, speaking on acting, creativity, and vision in your craft and career (followed by a Q&A).

Dan Fauci is a gift of a human being to the creative community. Besides being a past commercial, soap, theater, and film actor, he's the guy who started "The Mastery" acting intensive workshop, and created and teaches the successive "Leadership and Creativity" and "Into the Abyss" intensive weekend workshops, has his own production company(ies), and generally does whatever he can to help creatives get their work made.

It is seriously a friggin' big deal to get some time with Dan, so if you're in the creative space (in any form), I encourage you to go.

You can just show up at the event, but space is limited, so you may want to contact Van Brooks to assure yourself a spot. If you go because of this post, be sure to tell Van or Dan that.


When: Thursday, October 15th, 7:30-9:30 pm
Where: The Doubletree Inn, 6505 IH 35, exit 238A (Austin Room)
Other: Parking is free.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Networking is hard

Recent events have me reflecting on current skills.

One of them is networking - at which I'm wicked good. It's hard to talk endorsements for my skills in a blog post without it coming across as arrogant or self serving.

But suffice it to say that I regularly get comments and compliments about my networking and self-marketing when I show up at events, meet and greet, and explore joint opportunities, pay-it-forward moments, and poke at tipping-point(ish) shenanigans.

Easily one-half of those folks who follow up with me after these events (which is fractional compared to the number who should be following up -- with everyone, at every event) contain some version of, "Wow, you're really good at networking."

So, there are two points that I want to make.

First (to get it out of the way), I really try to make sure I'm not engaging in any sort of usury. I've written a lot in this space about "genuine networking", and my desire to build relationships, and not engage in the professional version of Pokémon (the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality of some network builders who don't realize they're an untrusted cartoon).

Second (and the message I really want to get out), is I work freaking hard at networking.

Seriously, I bust my hump so much on the networking front, that I'm surprised I have any sort of hump left to bust (hrm ...).

Anyway, there are people for whom networking comes easily. Some of these are good, amazing people, building relationships, connecting the dots, and making big things happen, regardless of whether they're involved. Others (while maybe also amazing), are less "good" -- the equivalent of used snake oil salesmen who may have a great memory and can capture names and minute details, but are using info to their own benefit, relationships be damned.

I am neither of these guys. I am a guy who has to work so ridiculously hard to go to networking events I know I need to go to find those people who may have my next gig (acting or toy job), even if I would rather be doing something else, like spending time with my family, going on a run, working on a screenplay, or any of million things for which there isn't time in the day or my life to do. (Saying "yes" to something is saying "no" to something else.)

I work to remember names and go say, "hi" again. I work to introduce people I've met to other people I meet where I think there could be a business or personal relationship connection. I work to make sure I don't spend "too much time" with people I know and like at these events, so I can make sure to meet new folks and explore new opportunities. I work to go talk to the person sitting in a corner who doesn't have the social or networking skills to get plugged into the current event (and believe me, some of these people are alone for a reason). I work to connect, because like my acting, for me it's about relationships, about personal and corporate growth, about getting to be more than what I am.

And I share how to do it for other people. Not because I think I'm God's gift to networkers. No, it's because it is so hard for me, but so important, and I know it's even harder for some folks (people who are introverts rather than extros, people who have self-confidence issues, people who are worried about coming across as ingenious, and so on).

How can I be so arrogant as to not share, try to help, and build relationships with these folks so we can mutually do big things together?

There are a couple of specific folks that attend our too-infrequent Triangle chapter IGDA meetings. These particular people hate crowds -- As in, "out-of-their-skin" hate. And, bravely, they're at these things, because they recognize the value of meeting other people. And we pull aside from the crowd, every time, and just chat, one-on-one. Fifteen minutes. Thirty. Forty-five. Who cares? If I was a PokeLinkedIn Master, the "disruption" of not meeting every new-to-me person at the event and collecting their business cards might be maddening.

But when it's relationship building, when it's checking in on another human being and both taking a breather from the chaos and work that is networking, it's a recharge, a reminder of why I do it. And of how they can.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Resume, voice, and industrial updates

I've posted a few updated gigs to my resume (HTML and PDF), and the related voice clips.

I did an industrial for AMD for their Computex show in Taipei this summer, and also updated the site with a couple of my recent video game credits -- Mangled Metal (based on the WARMACHINE property), and Forbidden Terror on Station Z! -- an on-rails zombie shooter.

There is another clip from Mangled Metal I'll upload soon, and I'll probably capture some video from the game for both clips, since the voiceover works a lot better in the context of the video.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Another new podcast (toy job)

Miss my voice?

Of course you do.

Anyway, there's a new podcast over at from me and a couple of my toy job co-workers. The three of us have a decent working relationship and good chemistry, and at Vince's spontaneous "let's do a podcast right now", we churned out a quick, breezy, non-shilly round table with our take on the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game event.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Birthday shenanigans

While not quite the "weekend o' selfishness" that was one of the high points of 2006, today's lazy B-Day was a good recharge, and recapping it is kind of interesting to me. While the activities don't define me as a person anywhere near in totality, there are some things for me to consider, and for me to look at down the road to see if I feel like the same guy.

Might have been more exciting if I took a whole 4-day weekend like I'd originally planned, but Friday is our planned company-wide celebration for our Gamebryo LightSpeed product launch, and given how much of my life that sucked in, I'm not going to miss that, and not going to miss celebrating the folks who made it happen.

Anyway, here's the B-Day blow-by-blow:

Got up late, after desperately trying to sleep in. "Late" being 9 o'clock, as after about 8ish I start feeling lazy and squishy.

Read a few comic books -- notably the Sub-Mariner and Captain America number 1s, part of the Marvel's 70-year celebration, and Captain America: Theater of War / Brothers in Arms. I'm a Captain America fan (if you don't know that, you haven't been paying attention), but anytime Paul Jenkins writes him, I grit my teeth. Jenkins has got poorly veiled political views, and while I think he's a phenomenal writer, at times he Chuck Austen's his biases inappropriately on a character. His last Cap book was phenomenal, and this one was pretty good, though his biases showed through a few times, which for me is irritating by itself, but it hurt the flow of the book, so there were creative impacts. Still a worthwhile read, and Jenkins does raise some important stuff. There are also some good panel layouts in the book.

Then it was breakfast with my incredible family. Great food, coffee, and mealtime silliness, followed by running around too soon after eating too much, and some focused Flintstones re-enactments.

I grabbed the Nintendo DS and plowed through another chapter of Dragon Ball Z: Origins, which I still like as a franchise fan, even if the game implementation still irritates me (the non-skippable start-up sucks, and keeps me from swapping carts in and out).

My foot fell asleep during this play session, which made me think about character acting and believable affectations, so I spent some time working on a limp, a la The Usual Suspects, and realize I need to get some focused character acting coaching help.

I went back to comics with one of my other favorite characters, Beta Ray Bill, in the BRB: Invasion Aftermath one-shot. Brit writer Kieron Gillen does an interesting job in what could have come across as a heavy-handed tolerance and redemption tale, and pulls it off. I think he would have done better if he wasn't so vocally dismissive of the genre. But he sets up the upcoming new Godhunter BRB limited series well. And I'm glad Bill is getting some Marvel Universe love.

Then I dug into the art book and behind the scenes DVD content for Gears 2. I like the game and the franchise it's becoming quite a bit, know several of the folks who made it happen, and enjoy looking at the art and craft of bringing it together.

Then it was responding to several too-kind birthday wishes and notes (many via Facebook, to which I've recently fallen), as well as several Biz communications that I don't want to lag, despite today being my "day off". I don't think I ever want to take off from the Biz, and my current self-induced slump in response to a series of larger life happenings has gotten untenable. I also downloaded a bunch of free music from Amazon at the same time, to expand my musical palate (and maybe palette; but not pallet, unless metaphorically).

Then, It was off for a quick 3-mile run, which could have gone better if I A) hadn't eaten so much at breakfast; B) hadn't been sedentary typing beforehand; and C) North Carolina humidity wasn't so stifling. Still, a good run, and got the blood and creativity flowing.

Got back and did a quick spin through the house to do some minor chores (set up shelves in the garage, replace light bulbs, filters, and the like, etc.).

Then back to some me-time to take product picts and unbox several toys with which I've been delinquent in doing something (I really need to figure out a shelving display system for my new office). I watched the episodes of Marvel Super Heroes: What The --?!, then sent a quick note to the folks I know over at Marvel involved with the gig to see if I can be part of it. Must ... be a part ... of ... it.

Then a fantastic dinner / dessert / presents, where I got a pair of Sennheiser HD-280 headphones for my voice and production work. Been looking to get some decent professional 'phones for some time. Not sure if I'll keep them or swap for the Sony Pro MDR-7506, but regardless, I'm sooo grateful for the giftage.

Then, a bunch of long phone calls with the fam (the important stuff), before cider, TV, and Sweetie quality time.

Then Wolverine comics (Switchback from a South America team) and the Xbox 360 game; after a re-do of my theater setup (which did not go as smoothly as I'd hoped, but it's all good).

So I'm blessed six ways to Sunday, and had my first genuine day off in I don't know how long.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Favorite comic book covers

As part of celebrating 70 years, Marvel is having a Favorite Covers Countdown.

I can only pick 5, which is nowhere near enough, so I'm listing my favorites here, instead. Oddly, they don't have every cover online, so I'm just listing the ones they do -- so you can look at them, and not realize how much of a geek I am digging into my collection (what, no Alien Legion? No Deathlok?).

In no particular order:
  • Alpha Flight #1 -- John Byrne sentimentality.
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 -- First appearance of Spider-Man.
  • Astonishing X-Men -- #3 (John Cassaday's leaping Wolverine, back in the yellows) and his #4 (return of Colossus).
  • Avengers #503 -- The "Avengers Disassembled" cover, with Captain America sitting on the floor amidst Ant Man's helmet, Mjolnir (Thor's Hammer), Hawkeye's bow and arrows, the Scarlet Witch's headband, Iron Man's helmet, and the visions cape. Sad and weighty.
  • Captain American -- #248, #250, #254 are John Byrne covers and Roger Stern arcs. Ish #248 was actually one of my first comics as a kid (and then I went back-catalog as an adult), #250 is the "Cap for President" cover that graces one of my favorite political Ts, and #254 is Baron Blood and Union Jack. Oh, and Mike Zeck's Annual #8, with Wolverine in his brown duds sparking off of Cap's shield.
  • Captain America (2004 series) -- There are sooo many good Steve Epting covers here. I'm particular fond of the gravitas of Captain America at the graveyard in #4, the powerful S.H.I.E.L.D. cover of #9, both the bloody jersey and newspaper Epting variants of #25, and the Alex Ross variant of the not-yet-release issue #600.
  • Daredevil -- #183, with Punisher unloading into Daredevil, shortly before Punisher crossovers became obnoxious. And there's David Mazzucchelli's excellent #228, which vividly shows Frank Miller's deconstruction of Matt Murdock, and his cover for #233, which is a powerful issue where Daredevil gets done with the Kingpin.
  • Devil Dinosaur #1 -- Another of my first comics as a kid, and Jack Kirby owned me.
  • Excalibur (first series) -- Wow, Alan Davis, Ron Lim, and Rick Leonard did some great, fun covers. I really dig Davis's #1 (team intro) and his wraparound #4 (first of the cross-time caper arc). Oh, and #23's riff on "Days of Future Past".
  • Giant-Size X-Men -- First of the new team, and the long-time core members many of us remember as "the" X-Men.
  • Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1 -- I can't remember who painted this cover, but it is gorgeous.
  • Howard the Duck #1 -- I think this is a Frank Brunner cover, and it's got Howard, Red Sonja, and Spider-Man. Yes it does.
  • Immortal Iron Fist #1 -- Dunno, but for me this David Aja cover just captures who Iron Fist is.
  • The Incredibly Hulk #340, #345 -- I dig both McFarlane's Wolverine cover, and his gray Hulk smashing through the logotype.
  • Iron Man -- For me, John Romita's cover of issue #126 is the Iron Man armor, and Bob Layton's gutsy alcoholic Tony Stark cover for issue #128 really sticks with me. I like Mark Bright's cover of #225, because even though I don't like the silver centurion armor, I'm oddly sentimental about those issues. Maybe because that was the height of my collecting before it went near-dormant for a few years (girls were prettier).
  • Mighty Avengers #2 -- It's a Frank Cho female Ultron.
  • New Avengers -- They're missing virtually all covers on, including some Frank Cho covers. Egregious.
  • New Mutants -- All of the Bill Sienkiewicz covers (18-25). I would add his Daredevil graphic novel cover, but it's not listed.
  • Secret Invasion #8 -- Can't remember the artist, but it's a great nod to New Avengers to Avengers proper.
  • Secret Wars #5 -- Spidey's black costume!
  • Spider-Man: Blue #2 and #3 -- Man, I love Tim Sale's 60s spy movie poster sexy vibe.
  • Spider-Woman #1 -- Another of my first comics, with a cover by Joe Sinnott, so sentimental as hell. I just realized this is the only comic from my initial collection I haven't re-purchased.
  • Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill -- I'm a ridiculous Beta Ray Bill fan, and while this series ultimately let me down, the covers of #1 and #2 -- by Andrea Vito and showcasing the raw majesty of this character -- certainly did not.
  • Thor (first series) -- Sooo many good covers, but none (none!) like Walt Simonson's #337 (intro of Beta Ray Bill) and #366 (Frog Thor). (I like the Olivier Coipel covers of the new series ok, too.)
  • Uncanny X-Men -- Long ride here, but I remember Dave Cockrum's #100 (Charles Xavier standing), #101 (Phoenix), #109 (intro of Alpha Flight), and #112 (why Wolverine should never fight Magneto). And John Byrne's "The Day the X-Men Died" cover and death of Jean Grey (#114 and #136) are alternately very sad, simple and powerful, angsty covers, as opposed to his very dynamically powerful "Days of Future Past" covers in #141 and #142. Paul Smith's cover for #167 (death of Professor X) is a solid nod back to #136. Alan Davis's cover for #213 is what I always think of as Wolverine versus Sabertooth. I so dig Jim Lee's cover to #268, which is a powerful portrait of Captain America, Wolverine, and Black Widow.
  • Web of Spider-Man -- The Mike Zeck covers for issues #31 and #32 of the "Kraven's Last Hunt" arc (some of my favorite writing from J. Dematties) really capture the essence of that twisted story.
  • Wolverine #1 -- Frank Miller's beckoning cover paints a portrait of the deadly, off-kilter canuck.
  • X-Men #1 -- I so like how this Jim Lee cover brought Magneto back as the terrifying force of nature he should be.
  • X-Men: Magneto Testament #5 -- This Marko Dhurdjevic cover is heartbreaking, and is for me the best in the series.

That's the list for now. Too many covers aren't listed on Marvel for the vote, so I'm bummed to not be talking about some of my other favs.

But this is a good nod to people who have inspired be over the years.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009)

AUDIO: Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009)

Here's the to-brief obituary, but please listen to the audio.

My dad-in-law, Victor Wallace Tirabassi (1946-2009) 63, went to be with Jesus April 2, 2009. He was surrounded by all of his kids, his wife, and his sister.
Born in Lynn, Mass., he was the son of Irene Tirabassi and the late Frederick Tirabassi.
Victor shined Christ, and was a model of generosity, hard work, holiness, and good humor. He was a U.S. Marine Corporal Vietnam Veteran, and 20-year Nucor Steel employee.
Victor is survived by his wife, Elaine Tirabassi (Johnson); his children and their spouses Dan & Kate Tirabassi, Joanne & Adam Creighton, & Anthony Tirabassi; his four lovely grandchildren Kiera, Gianna, Isabella & Carina; his siblings and their spouses Frederick & Pat Tirabassi, Maria & Steve Segars; and his mother, Irene Tirabassi.
His Funeral Service will be held on Monday at 11 a.m. in the Nardolillo Funeral Home in Cranston, RI, followed by Military Honors in RI Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking donations be made to:
Hope for the Hungry
In support of Randy Sperger
PO Box 786 Belton, TX 76513
Vic wasn't my father-in-law -- he was my second Dad.
He said he'll greet us at heaven's gates.
Now, you have to do something.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Battle o' the Songz (Round 3)

If you're not up to speed with "Battle o' the Songz", go here, then here, first.

Due to the craziness surround GDC prep, this round actually took two weeks before we called it a wrap. And in honor of GDC, we're making our next battle video-game-themed -- which makes both chaining and theming required for the first time.

You ready to rock?

'Cause here's round 3 play-by-play!

Opening Round 3 strongly with Joey Scarbury's "Believe it or Not". Yeah, Real American Hero fare.
Office mate Dan firing back with "Midlife Crisis" (Faith No More), and I counter with Blink-182's "What's My Age Again?", which is countered with Winger's "Seventeen". He loses points because the answer is "23".
I answer with "Foolish Beat" from Debbie Gibson, who at 17 wrote, produced, & performed a Billboard Hot 100 number 1 hit.
Chaining the title, Dan sends me the Go-Go's "We Got the Beat", and I bring the hammer down with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" from Wham!. I am all that.
In an anemic response, Dan sends me Finger Eleven's "Awake and Dreaming", but I give Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver". Classics have weight (Even before Wayne's World).
Got "Mad World" from Gary Jules as a response to Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver". "Gary" and "dream" linkage - Not bad.
Responding to "Mad World" from Gary Jules with "Mad Mad World" from Tom Cochrane. His world is more mad than Gary's. (It was that or Shaggy.)
In one of our few highbrow response's, Dan uses the "Adjective Song" from the Connells in trade for "Mad Mad World". Extra points.
I send back The Idoru's "Behind Words", which has weirdly similar lyrics to the Connells "Adjective Song".
Getting The Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" in response to my "Behind Words" (The Idoru'); All Tomorrow's Parties is the sequel to William Gibson's "Idoru". Erm.
Returning U2's "Party Girl" for Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties". And then Dan bad-mouths U2. Yeah, he's a hater. And he loses points.
Receiving Dan's "Solitary Man" Johnny Cash cover for U2's "Party Girl". Kind of the "anti-link", and I'm giving him extra Johnny points. (Heh. I said "Johnny points".)
Sending Neil Diamond's "I Am ... I Said", another loneliness song from the guy who wrote the Johnny Cash covered "Solitary Man".
Getting Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" back for "I Am ... I Said". This is tenuous at best, and I would have given more points if the link was "Neil Diamond is too sexy".
I return Hannah Montana's "Who Said" for Right Said Fred. Feeling dirty. Dan fires back Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart" in response to my Hannah Montana play. Wait, Hannah Montana's secret identity is Miley Cyrus?
Thinking I'd already gone to the dark side, I volley Hillary Duff's "Break My Heart" to Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart". She's a contemporary of Hannah Montana, there's a title link, and it hs the same lyric line. Boo-ya.
Dan "Control+Zs" my attempt to "Break My Heart" with Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart". Brilliant!
I end this round with Riddlin' Kids "Pick up the Pieces" (they're there to pick up the pieces from the floor of Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart"; they're helpful like that).
(Now, on to video-game greatness.)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Battle o' the Songz (redux)

Not satisfied to call it quits after our latest high-brow culture battle, co-worker Dan and I continued our song battle at a reduced rate.

To recap: We trade song volleys back and forth, and they have to be linked by artist, lyrics, themes, or other meta-context. The greater the link, the more “points”.

Here's the round #2 blow-by-blow.

Dan opens and wows me with the Transformers theme remix from Vince DiCola. I keep my cool and fire back the safe-but-appropriate G.I. Joe animated movie theme song from Ford Kinder. Dan responds with Joe Satriani's "House Full of Bullets" (because "G.I. Joe's fire bullets"). And it is on.
Finding the previous volley too easy, I fire off the Jimmy Hendrix riff "Red House" covered by Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson. It's a sharp retort, but it softballs my office mate a bunch of options for response. He answers with The Streets's "Get Out of My House".
I answer with U2's "Where the Streets have No Name", and he answers with Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" (because his street has a name). Not bad.
I answer with Amy Grant's "Big Yellow Taxi" (boo-ya!), appropriately making it hard for Dan to respond. After taking a day to recover, he fires back with Vince Gill ("What the Cowgirls Do") in response to yesterday's Amy Grant song. (They're married.)
I retaliate with Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" ('cause he's a cowboy, and -- let's face it -- in his heyday he looked like a girl; keep your hate mail to yourself). Dan sends back Stone Temple Pilot's "Dead and Bloated".
Seeing my opp to get Weird Al Yankovic in the mix, I lob over "Happy Birthday". Dan is appropriately non-plussed, and lobs back barely linked "Gangsta's Paradise" from Coolio. I fire back with LL Cool J's (the Original West Coast Gangster) "Mama Said Knock You Out. And I'm in high school again.
In perhaps the best volley so far, Dan (springboarding off of "Ladies Love") plays "Laid" from James, and I blast back with the Rebecca St. James abstinence song, "Wait for Me" -- the I'm - not - getting - laid (yet) song. Poetry.

After regrouping, Dan sends REO Speedwagon's "I Can't Fight this Feeling", and while losing points for moving away from the sexual motif, he gets points for it being REO Speedwagon.
I try to bring us closer to the gutter by firing back Blink 182's "Feeling This". Dan plays into it and answers with the Divinyls "I Touch Myself".
I pole vault over the line with Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta". Look, he went there. I just followed. And escalated.
We call a mutual truce on the self-pleasuring theme, and after getting Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", I counter with the Alanis Morissette cover of Seal's "Crazy". That's meta-funny. "Insane in the Brain" (Cypress Hill) is the response. I'll take that.
I backhand with Public Enemy's "Get The F --- Outta Dodge" (read the lyrics of both if you don't get the link). Dan comes back with a solid "My Own Worst Enemy" from Lit (with a private enemy making a good comeback to a Public Enemy).
I send back Something Corporate's "I Kissed a Drunk Girl" (they're Lit, for pete's sake; plus I think the girls in both songs are the same kind of person).
Dan finishes with "Santana DVX" from The Lonely Island -- and we mutually call it a fitting enough response to "I Kissed a Drunk Girl" to close this song volley round.

(Oh, and you people who think this is "stupid"? Please stop Emailing me to tell me. You're obviously reading. You're stupid.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Battle o' the Songz

Alright, in the midst of a company-wide working weekend, a coworker (Dan) and I were having a “Battle o’ the Songz”.

Basically, we traded song volleys back and forth, and they had to be linked by artist, lyrics, themes, or other meta-context. The greater the link, the more “points”.

We set up speakers, blasted songs at each other, and gave rough weightings to each volley.

If it feels a bit like an ad hoc game from Where I Met Your Mother .. I'm honored.

Anyway, below is the summary. It's arguably a bit of a aural Rorschach (or MMPI) test, so let me know what you think it says about me.

I counter the opening volley of Dana Dane ("Rollin’ wit’ Dane") with The Soup Dragons ("I'm Free"). Granted, it's a bit of a tenuous comeback, but I linked it by (A) “Free” and the “whatever I want” message in Dana Dane, and (B) DD says “lyrics” like 13 times, and The Soup Dragons song, uh, has lyrics.

Piggy backing off of "Freedom" (and partying), my office mate lobs back DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince ("Parents Just Don't Understand"), with gives me an easy way to answer with Roxette ("Joyride"), because DJ and the Fresh Prince go on a joyride in their parents’ Porsche. He takes the driving theme to Sammy Hagar ("I Can't Drive 55")
I blast back with the Rolling Stones version of "Route 66", one of the most covered driving songs ever (it was that or Depeche Mode's cover), and thereby chain the 3 previous car and joyride themes (you get points for continued chaining), "Route 66" also winds up in Cali, and I get the additional double digits link ("55" / "66"). Dan answers with Chicago "Saturday in the Park"), because the Hagar and Stones entries start in Chicago, and he wanted to break from the driving theme.

I counter with Soundgarden's "4th of July", with a lyrical link from Chicago's "You'd think it was the Fourth of July" to Soundgarden's "I thought it was the 4th of July".
Heating things up (sorry), Dan volley's back wtih DJ AL-B's mashup of Audioslave Vs. Busta Rhymes ("Woo Haa I Got The Gasoline"), with Chris Cornell (in both Audioslave and Soundgarden) as the link.

Temple of the Dog seemed like an obvious retort, but I responded instead with my college thesis theme song from Mc 900 Ft. Jesus: "The City Sleeps", and definitely felt like I was winning the Battle (“Gasoline” in the title of theprevious song dovetail with the lyrics in the pyro song: “clutching the tools of my trade in my hand / an old box of matches and a gasoline can”).
In response, I get Guster ("Jesus on the Radio"),which links “Jesus” and has the nice meta link of Mc 900 Ft. Jesus (kind of) playing on my "radio" (it was an MP3, but whatever; he gets style points).
In a bit of a lackluster return, I spin up eighties darling Dead or Alive's "Spin Me Round", since the Guster tune says “go around” several times.

Honestly, Dan's response metaphorically jump-kicks me (Kosheen / "Damage" -- from the Dead or Alive video f****** movie!). It's brilliant, becasue “Dead or Alive” the band links to “Dead or Alive” the movie, which is a VIDEO GAME movie, and Dan's real (and my toy) job is in video games.
Gathering myself, I see an opportunity (and a willingness to stay stuck in the 80s) and lash back with Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"
Link #1: DOA (The Movie) → "Damage" / Kosheen (lyrics “I know I hurt you" / I didn't mean to”) → "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" (title from Culture Club).

Link #2: DOA (The Game) → Crying Game (The movie) → Boy George (the artist, who was in ...) → Culture Club, the band, who sung) / Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

(There's seriously still a flow chart in my office.)
(We ended the day calling it a draw. Grudgingly, but a draw.)

(Starting Sunday.)

My opening volley was Johnny Cash's cover of "Personal Jesus" from Depeche Mode (Since it was Sunday.), and Dan followed up with exactly what I would have -- Nine Inch Nails "Hurt" (which Johnny Cash also later covered).

I follow up with the band - unknown - to - Dan - but - blasted - on -a - regular - basis - at - several - guys - I - accused - of - stealing - my - girls tune, "Under" from Filter, because it was another drug song, and from a band made up of sometime NIN touring and album members (oh, and the song I usually blasted was "Hey Man Nice Shot").
He was less impressed that I was with my response, and volleyed with Huey Lewis and the News ("I Want a New Drug"), which both maintained the chain, and lifted us (a bit) out of the somber.

I had been waiting for two days to aurally assault Dan with some NKotB, and Huey let me leverage New Kids on the Block ("I Wanna Be Loved By You") via “New(s)” / “New”, the same insecure love vibe, and I’m sure Jordan did drugs.
Not missing a beat, Dan spun out Marky Mark's "Good Vibrations" for the Wahlberg-to-Wahlberg equal assault. At least he's a good actor. (Really good, IMHO.)

I bounced back with Bob Marley ("Positive Vibration"). Duh -- “positive”; “vibration”; dancing; drugs; and I loves me some Marley. This also felt like the first legitimate volley return of the day.

Sliding deeper into the drugs connection, Dan sends over Sublime's "Smoke Two Joints" (Marley / Rastafari / Marijuana).
This let me fire back another entry I wasn't sure I was going to get to leverage -- the odd LazyBoy "Underwear Goes Inside The Pants", partly because I wanted to see if I could get a quirky response into our battle, and partly to softball 6-8 launching points so we could get away from drugs.
I'm sure just to screw with me, Dan hits me with Electric Six (which I like) and "Down at McDonaldz" (which I don't, but at least it links LazyBoy's “I’m pretty sure even McDonalds has a ‘underwear goes inside the pants’ policy”).
I end the day with Phantom Planet's "Leader", linking the two songs via cult leadership vibe (dude in “Down at McDonaldz” sounds like a cultee). I almost went with a song about Marilyn Manson, or from the Marilyn Manson Band, which would have been creepy clever. And cults are better than drugs (??).

We kind of fizzled at this point (late on a Sunday night on a working weekend), and Dan said he didn't buy the cult angle, but if he did, he would have responded with Guster's "Red Oyster Cult".
(So ends the day. And the initial battle.)
And now we've turned this "Battle o' the Songz" into an ongoing thing. As part of keeping our heads clear (and improving company morale and culture by creating a lighthearted betting pool rivalry), once or twice a day (we figure we couldn't keep up the previous pace and still justify our paychecks) we crank the speakers and fire off tunes at each other.
Where are we now? Obcure 80s cartoon themes (Vince DiCola and Frank Kinder, you are masterful).
Rock on.