Archive for June, 2008

Mini-Album Review: Protest the Hero, Fortress

Posted by matt on June 29, 2008

protest_the_hero_fortress.jpgArtist: Protest the Hero
Album: Fortress
Wikipedia Genre(s): Metalcore, Mathcore, Progressive metal
Matt’s Fav Tracks: Bloodmeat, Bone Marrow
# times listened:
Moderate (10 - 25 times)
Matt’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy CD: Amazon
Have a listen: Amazon Non-DRM MP3’s

Around 10-15 years ago, I listened to a lot of music that would classically fall into the category of “Heavy Metal” (Metallica, Anthrax, and later on, Helmet and the Deftones).  In the mid-late 90’s, I turned off this genre due to most of the “NüMetal” that was all the rage and the Limp Bizkit / Korn clones that sucked big-bime. If it’s done well, it still gets annoying, but when done poorly, I’d rather listen to whales mating.

Enter Protest the Hero, the best thing to come out of Canada since Pam Anderson and Strange Brew.  Upon first hearing  this album, I was blown away by the throw-back musicianship these guys posses.  Bands like the napster-killing-morons, Metallica wish they could play half this well.  These guys pound out rhythms at a blinding speed and easily switch between genres flawlessly.

While they have some of the stereotypical screaming that I get sick of,  they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.  Tackling subjects like Genghis Kahn’s ruling empire with lyrics like:

“Heads will roll, and throats will be slit, and blood will flow like springs of water, Heads will roll”

Very over-the-top, shockingly funny, but done well, so listenable.  A breath of fresh air and a little return to a time when metal covered cool subjects like rulings of ancient tyrants and history lessons.  Check them out if you’ve been missing metal.  4 out of 5 stars for me.

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted under music, reviews

Old travel pictures, new stock photos, cell phone snaps

Posted by matt on June 20, 2008

I posted some pictures from past trips we went on:

Plus a bunch of other trips are available here (still have more to put up)

Finally, I’ve been severely slacking doing stock photos in 2008… I have probably 200 or so candidates, but haven’t gotten around to working on them yet. To get back in the groove, I did shoot and post a couple to Shutterstock with something we all spend TOO much time doing in the summer:

Got a few sales on the left one so far.

Finally, I’ll be doing some quick shots from my (lousy) cellphone camera from time to time. You can see those on the right side of my website. Enjoy!

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted under photos

Photos from Packers “Green Machine” Basketball Game

Posted by matt on June 11, 2008

green_bay_packers_james_jones_basketball_dunk.jpgI had the privilege to photograph the Green Bay Packers “Green Machine” charity basketball game tonight in Madison, WI, and it was a ton of fun. I never shot basketball before–it’s tough! Dark gym, guys flying around everywhere (Jones actually ran over me twice!), but I had a great time and learned a lot. I actually shot the entire game with my 30mm fixed-width 1.4 Sigma as I needed the speed to keep up with the guys. Thanks to my friend Darren for hooking me up with the opportunity!

Check out some of my favorite pictures from the game!

Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted under photos

Mini-Album Review: Weezer, Weezer (Red Album)

Posted by matt on June 9, 2008

weezer_red_album.jpgArtist: Weezer
Album: Weezer (Red I guess)
Wikipedia Genre(s): Alternative rock, Geek rock, Power pop
Matt’s Fav Tracks: Pork and Beans, Troublemaker
# times listened: Not many (< 10 times)
Matt’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Buy CD: Amazon
Have a listen: Amazon Non-DRM MP3’s

I’m old-skool that when a band creates their ‘debut’ album, I like when it’s generally self-titled. Some folks decide that they do this later (i.e. Metallica with the “Black” album) and I’m cool with that. Weezer is having this go a little out of control though, as this is their THIRD self-titled album… Blue, Green and now Red.

This is easily Weezer’s weakest album. I wanted to dig it, but listening to all of their other albums, they have gotten progressively worse with each. I don’t know if it’s Cuomo’s wacky “cowboy crossed with Reno 911 cop mustache” look, or the fact that the songs try waaay too hard. Whatever the case, the album is trite beyond a couple songs. Weezer, unfortunately, hasn’t had a strong cover-to-cover album since the Green album. It’s sad, to have peaked almost 10 years ago… :(

The best thing about the new album has to be the video for Pork and Beans, with Internet meme goodness. Check it out if you haven’t seen it:

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted under music, reviews

Top 10 Hacker and Computer Geek Movies of All Time

Posted by matt on June 2, 2008

I’ve always talked about having a computer-geek-movie-marathon. The makeup of a good hacker movie has to have the technical parts right (sort of), and present mental imagery on par with that you got while reading William Gibson’s Neromancer. As is common, Hollywood often gets the style part figured out, but utterly fails on what is realistic or even remotely possible. Without further ado, my list of top 10 Hacker and Computer Geek movies.

antitrust2.jpg10. Antitrust - Though Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies, I don’t think Tim Robbins is that great in this movie. While there are some interesting concepts in here, Ryan Phillipe is not a believable hacker. Also, all the ideas about the art matching the viewer are totally ripped off from Bill Gate’s The Road Ahead. Hmm.. how did this movie even make my list??

the_net.jpg9. The Net - The mid 1990’s was a very popular time for hacker movies. Sandra Bullock made every computer nerd scour the brand-new interwebs for the PI symbol so you could hold <ctrl><Shift> and then click your way into hacker heaven. Hollywood magic again, as people had instant info on everyone from their car, which in 1995 was laughable. For some reason, girls seem to like this movie more than others on the list, and guys think all girl-geeks must look like Sandra Bullock.

johnny_mnemonic.jpg8. Johnny Mnemonic - This is a smart William Gibson Short-story, which he turned into a pretty lousy movie. Why is it on this list? It has too many things going for it, like Ice-T and Henry Rollins! Somehow, Keanu got the role in Matrix even though he bumbled his way through this movie. It must have given him some type of Sci-Fi cred or something. There is one part where he sits down and says “I want Room Service”. Horrible writing and acting. The opening scene is sweet though. “I can hold 80 Gig of data in my head”. In 1995, the biggest drive was about 1 gig, this was HUGE! I’m a little disappointed that now you can have over 10X that amount for less than $200. Does that mean that your brain is only worth about $20 if it were to be used for storage??

hackers.jpg7. Hackers - Hack the Planet! Can this movie get any cheesier? There are some definite dumbass parts to this, but we were introduced to Angelina Jolie in this as well as that goofy bastard Eli Stone (I much prefer Jonny in Trainspotting). The very quick bluebox scene as well as some of the hacking of the TV programs is cool, but then Hollywood must have VISUAL ‘hacking’ and VISUAL DELETING OF HIDDEN FILES…things just get too lame for any geek to appreciate.

matrix.jpg6. Matrix - On other Sci-fi lists, this movie would be higher, but since the hacking isn’t a central part of the movie, it can’t get higher than 6th. Everyone and their brother has seen this, and hopefully you skipped the last one because it’s definitely a sequel ruiner. The tone and mood of this movie is what everyone hopes what it would be like if they were a hacker. A great story and a mind-blowing concept. “Bullet Time” was invented here for cripes sake.

swordfish.jpg5. Swordfish - Ah Hollywood. Travolta and Wolverine are effective in their roles, but there are only a couple of reasons guys re-watch this movie (I won’t bother linking, you know what I’m talking about). It’s too bad the movie can’t keep up with hot opening sequence which is one of the best from any geek movie. The ‘hacking’ is pretty out-there, but you have to appreciate them pushing the envelope. The soundtrack to this movie is also really good–Paul Oakenfold does the whole thing.

lawnmower_man.jpg4. Lawnmower Man - Remember Virtual Reality? When this movie came out, it had a mystique about it that was undeniable. While visiting Frankfurt, Germany in 1996, I vividly remember paying 8 deutschmarks to don a headset and gloves to play this shoot-em-up virtual reality game. It lasted 5 minutes, and was quite lame, unfortunately. For LOST fans, Season 4 helicopter pilot, Jeff Fahey is the star in this flick who gives a great performance along with Pierce Brosnan who plays a believable scientist. I remember when he is doing his audio diary, all I could think about was “wow, how big is his hard drive? It must be like 100 Megabytes!”. Ah, hard drives in the 1990’s.

pirates-of-silicon-valley.jpg3. Pirates of Silicon Valley - If you have any interest in Microsoft or Apple, this is a must. Rusty is well cast as the nerdy Bill Gates, and Noah Wyle plays psychedelically drugged out Steve Jobs. There’s only one real Steve Balhmer, but he helps to narrate Bill’s side with Woz narrating Steve’s side. No special effects in this flick, just a focus on what happened at a very interesting point in computing history.

wargames.jpg2. Wargames - Do you want to play a game? During prime-time of the cold-war, this awesome hacker movie introduced us to Ferris Bueller and some legit hacking techniques (i.e. war dialing) that the world had never seen at the time. Even though it’s over 25 years old, it holds up remarkably well. I’m sure this got many kids thinking: could you really change your grades at school?

sneakers.jpg1. Sneakers - Take a star-studded cast loosely based on some actual characters and you get an excellent hacker movie that is deservedly at the top of the list. While the focus is on the techniques, getting the back stories and information on all the characters is what makes this such a classic. Redford is great in a light comedic role, and the movie holds together well (despite being a little preachy). My favorite hacker / geek movie!

Honorable Mentions: Takedown - It would have made my list had I not read the book or known the Mitnick story… it’s not even close to being right, but still a good tale. Was I more ignorant, I would have liked it more. Tron - I still haven’t seen the entire thing, so I can’t get it on my list yet…

That’s my list–so, what’s on your list that I’m missing?

Popularity: 28% [?]

Posted under movies, reviews, top 10 lists