CDC's updated guidelines for living with the zombie apocalypse

From noted comedy zine The Washington Post:

Great news! The zombie war is over! You can come out of your bunkers now!

Did we win? No. We did something even better than winning: We suddenly became aware of the passage of time! Wars can end lots of ways -- by winning, by surrendering, by a negotiated settlement, by simply deciding in our minds that they are over with or without consulting the facts on the ground.

Why are there new guidelines if nothing has changed?

Look, it is hard, and everyone's trying! That's the takeaway here! We've all learned and grown, and it's time to move on!

But is the zombie war over?

Well, the fighting-zombies phase of the zombie war is over!

The way you phrased that made it sounds like the zombies are not ... gone.

Yes, technically, in the most literal sense, the zombies are still among us, but much as we would like to be living in a totally zombie-free world, that was never the goal, except for a brief time when we were way too optimistic about what people were capable of.

Look, some people decided that the effort of eradicating the zombies wasn't worth the inconvenience. Imagine having to bring a heavy, metal bat with you every time you go out! Imagine living like that! Well, because some people couldn't do that for a limited time, now other people will have the opportunity to do that forever.

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Cheese Heists, now with lowjack rinds

What was your cheese missing? How about Dunning-Krugerrands and the tangy flavor of mysterious heavy metals?

The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium says the amount of cheese fraud is almost as big as product sales: sales are around $2.44 billion while fraudulent cheese is a $2.08 billion market. [...]

For the past two decades, Parmigiano Reggiano wheels have already featured a unique alphanumeric tracking code, but now, the Consortium has tested embedding p-Chip micro transponders into the casein label. As the Consortium explains, "The innovation combines food-safe Casein labels with the p-Chip micro transponder -- a blockchain crypto-anchor that creates a digital 'twin' for physical items. This scannable new food tag is smaller than a grain of salt and highly durable, delivering next-generation visibility and traceability."

So the blorkchonk grift here, the big innovation is, "the serial number is easier to read."


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Tempest is 40 years old this month

Here's an interview with Dave Theurer, the creator:

Tempest hardware was always a bit problematic ... one time in the lab a monitor stopped working and we looked underneath it and it had gotten so hot that four or five components had actually desoldered themselves and had fallen out from the circuit board and were lying around.

To celebrate this anniversary, my Tempest at the club stopped working again. For the past several years, I'm not sure the thing has been functional for more than six weeks in a row.

At least this time it does not seem to be a monitor problem, but a power problem, probably the AR2. That's easier to deal with but I haven't gotten around to it yet. The monitors in both Tempest and Star Wars have been pretty stable since I retrofitted them with both an LV-2000 and an Alan-1. They actually run cool to the touch now! Highly recommended.

It's such a pain in the ass to work on these now that they're at the club, though, since I have no reasonable workspace there. That means that to give them any real attention, I need to scoop out the insides and schlep it all home, which means pulling not only the boards and the very heavy power supply, but also the wiring harness, which is like 20' long and screwed in to the cabinet at dozens of points. Those harnesses are custom for each game, and "spare Tempest wiring harness" is not something I've been able to find on eBay...

Pac-Man is also acting up. Sometimes it boots into Matrix crash mode again, and usually kicking it fixes it, but not always. There's this 4" square daughter board on it that seems to have a loose connection on its socket or something. I re-soldered it but that didn't help. What seemed to work was rolling up a lump of electrical tape and jamming it underneath it so that there's some pressure on the right side. And, of course that works about as well as you'd expect in the face of relentless subwoofers.

Oh yeah, and coin receptors remain a constant nightmare.

In summary, arcade games are a land of contrasts.

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First you get a Clown. Then you put your Dick in The Clown.

Security flaw left 'smart' chastity sex toy users at risk of permanent lock-in:

U.K.-based security firm Pen Test Partners said the flaw in the Qiui Cellmate internet-connected chastity lock, billed as the "world's first app controlled chastity device," could have allowed anyone to remotely and permanently lock in the user's penis. [...]

Because the chamber was designed to lock with a metal ring underneath the user's penis, the researchers said it may require the intervention of a heavy-duty bolt cutter or an angle grinder to free the user. [...]

"The app stopped working completely after three days and I am stuck!" said one user. Another said they "got already stuck twice when wearing it due to the unreliable app."

"It worked for about a month until I almost got stuck in it. Thankfully it unlocked itself randomly and I was able to get out of it. The device left a bad scar that took nearly a month of recovery," said another review.

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Recent Movies and TV

  • Invisible Man (2020) -- This movie was bullshit in 30 different ways. Let's start with hack filmmaking: a jump-scare sound effect is not what passes for suspense. The plot, such as it is: a woman's being stalked and gaslit by a jerk in a scramble-suit, who apparently has some mad commando skills and Jason Vorhees levels of stealth despite being Science Nerd. So if you want to see someone crying and not being believed while being smacked around for two hours, this is the movie for you. Maybe I'm late to this, but I have finally come to realize that anything with "Blumhouse" on it is garbage with a topping of vomit. Like, a Michael Bay level of both contempt for the audience, and misogyny.

  • Onward: This is just OK. It really didn't grab me at first, because it's so "family drama", but it got funnier towards the middle. I did enjoy the fact that, much like the merman in Cabin in the Woods, they keep mentioning gelatinous cubes, and so you know that you're gonna see one. And when you do, it delivers. I also liked the feral unicorns. More like raccoonicorns.

  • 24 Hour Party People: I hadn't watched this in years, and it really holds up. I liked it much more this time around. When I first saw it, I couldn't really get past the fact that I absolutely despise The Happy Mondays, but this time around I enjoyed hating them rather than just being annoyed by them. It's such a weird movie. How did this even get made? The licensing alone... I always want to recommend it but it comes with such a long list of footnotes. Like, if you don't already know all about these people, it's probably best to watch this movie with me sitting next to you on the couch, yelling.

  • Snatchers: This may be the greatest monster movie since Night of the Creeps. Excellent and snappy dialog, great comedic timing, hilarious gore. Chef kiss.

  • Underwater: Not bad. The claustrophobia of it makes it be more The Descent than The Abyss. Obvious plot is obvious, but the suspense and effects are good.

  • Vivarium: What if Cube but suburbia. A couple checks out a house and can't escape. Extremely nightmarish and well done.

  • She Never Died: A loose sequel to He Never Died. It's kind of the same movie again with a different cast, but it's enjoyable.

  • Tales from the Loop: This was absolutely fantastic. A series of interconnected stories based on the artwork and short stories by Simon Stålenhag, who is amazing. It's so different than almost any other scifi I've seen. It has a bit of a Twilight Zone feel, but mostly there aren't any villains, and the whole thing is just very calm. Calm and sad.

  • Beforeigners: I will make an exception to my ban on police procedurals when some of those police are time traveling vikings. Ok, fine. You got me. It's pretty good.

  • Siren: Season 1 was really fun, but season 2 went all relationships and babies and feeeeelings and I wasn't really there for it. But season 3 really picked up: they went full World War Mermaid.

  • Homecoming: Season 2 is a lot better than season 1! And season 1 was pretty good.

  • Motherland: Fort Salem: "What if the US Army was made up of pretty teen girls who are also witches" sounds like a completely idiotic plot for some Young Adult Paranormal Romance nonsense, but it's actually kind of ok. The worldbuilding and backstory really had me scratching my head, but they didn't dive deeply enough into it to lose me yet.

  • Charlie's Angels (2019) This was more entertaining than I expected. Much punchy, so fashion. It had kind of a Spice World feel to it, very 90s Girl Power.

  • Gretel & Hansel: It was fine, but I find that I've already forgotten it.

  • Jumanji: The Next Level: I laughed, but I've already forgotten it.

  • Penny Dreadful: City of Angels: This is absoutely fantastic. You may recall that Penny Dreadful season 1 was amazing, season 2 was OK, and season 3 was really pretty bad. Well fortunately, this show is not season 4 of Penny Dreadful: rather, it is season 3 of Carnivàle! And that's a really good choice.

  • Upload: This is kind of a sequel to "The Singularity Ruined by Lawers", and it's pretty funny. It strays into an unresolved murder mystery at some point, which is less interesting. The core achievement here is ridiculing social media trying to monetize your dreams.

  • Scoob: It's a "reboot" and it's 3D-modelled, so it's obviously inferior, but it does have some good gags. I laughed. I was enjoying it well enough until about 15 minutes from the end, when it seems like an entirely new writer took over, which is probably what happened. How do you fuck up the ending on Scooby Doo? By leaving out all of the jokes and filling it with saccharine nonsense and sequel-bait instead. Dude, we know there's going to be a sequel. This series is like a thousand years old. Also it just feels wrong to me that Shaggy isn't voiced by Matthew Lillard. (Greets to Cereal Killer!)

  • Blood Machines: Sooooo Carpenter Brut made a movie that's like.... Farscape fanfic or something? It's very pretty, but the plot, such as it is... it's straight out of an 80s issue of Heavy Metal, where all the men are creeps and all the women are naked, and that's pretty much the single defining characteristic of each. As a music video it would have been excellent, but there wasn't enough music and people kept talking.

  • Star Trek: Picard: This is... boring. How did they manage to make it so boring? I wish the show was about Picard doddering around the mansion with his Romulan housekeepers instead of whatever nonsense it was actually about. Which was mostly, "Data: is he a Real Boy??"


    Ok, first of all, why does Star Trek have synths at all? The only reason to build them is to have a slave caste, and A) you're a post-scarcity society, so why, and B) you've got a whole galaxy full of people with funny noses who can all inter-breed, so you've got options there too, if you're feelin' all slavey. So they spend dozens of episodes whinging over "BUT IS IT A PERSON" in a way they never do over Ferengi or Mexicans.

    There was a little movie called Blade Runner, it closed the book on this. Why do you keep reminding me of a better movie I could be watching instead?

    The way Peter Watts tore apart Humans is highly applicable here: "What a pleasant 101-level introduction to AI for anyone who's never thought about AI before, who's unlikely to think about AI again, and who doesn't like thinking very hard about much of anything."

    In the hundreds or thousands of episodes of the various Star Trek shows that exist, it's hard to pick a Most Irritating Character -- it's a target-rich environment -- but Data has always been the character I despised most. Not just because of the terrible, hackneyed "beep beep boop" writing, but because stories around him make no sense.

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Movie Yelling with jwz and Kingfish:

Just downloaded Aquaman. I want one scene with like a 30' turd dangling behind him, is that too much to ask? I had fish, I know how this works.
And then he stops mid sentence and casually eats it.
Is this your first time seeing it? Because it's not actually good. But it is fun, which is the most confusing, conflicting emotions.
It's super dumb, but Aqua-Bro is impossible to dislike, and basically any male child 13 and under probably considers this movie to be Casablanca
Yeah, haven't seen it before, I expect to fast forward a lot
I am literally 4 minutes in and ready to quit.
Oh mah gaaaaaaaahhhhhhddddd this is bad.
There is dumb there. Lots of dumb.
Ok so this is a movie where Aquaman can throw a guy into a wall hard enough to bend steel, and then the guy isn't pulped like when Robot Man did it.
That's precisely why I loved that scene in Doom so much
Just... splat
It's not right that Dafoe is Atlantan and also Green Goblin.
Yeah, but he's cool that way.
Can Aquaman fly? He doesn't seem to actually swim, he just sort of zips.
I think he can water spout around a little
Like Khan, Atlantis suffers from 2d thinking.
This is so dumb.
Nice little "master race" vibe, with royalty being the only ones who can breathe air.
Besides pooping I also have questions about metallurgy.
But, sharks with frikkin' laser beams
This movie is bad. It is very, very bad.
Dafoe is phoning it in.
An octopus tribal drummer? Really? Really?
I counter your octopus drummer with plush elephant dude keyboard player from Star Wars
You know... for kids!
I'm not going to defend Max Reebo, which I think might actually be his name
My Star Wars name, that I gave myself, is Farce Bambu.
Also in this dumbass timeline both the Atlantans and the Amazons just let - gestures wildly - all of this go!
It's like if the Eugenics Elves decided, "Hey let's just see what happens if we let 10 billion orcs run the place for a few thousand years"
Are we the baddies? Are we the orcs?
Oh yeah we are.
What Tolkein called "men" were probably Neanderthals, or Bigfoot.
But, you've seen the terrible effect living in our world has had on the elves.
Like maybe the air is too heavy for them, or there's too much refined iron everywhere
Also, by way of example, I literally just remembered there was that whole Mantis thing and a submarine or whatever. I completely forgot all of that.
So that was a pretty good origin story for Black Manta. His grandfather's nickname was Manta. So he's the black one.
Ok there was just a scene where Fake Julian Sands yelled and bubbles came out of his mouth -- which is basically if I yelled and vomited.
Haaaaaa fake Julian Sands
This movie is bad even in the context of: I just watched an episode of The Flash.
Did they really just look through the back of the Six Million Dollar Man doll's head?
I am appalled by your ignorance. Yes, and Pat had one.
I did too! They looked through a statue of Romulus holding a coke bottle to get the next quest waypoint!
Oh gotcha. See, i forgot that too!
This movie is a bad bad movie
I am pretty drunk but not drunk enough
And now there are velociraptors because of course there are.
Okay, real sleepies now. Signing out
....and Atlantans don't age but apparently neither do Scientologists so that's fair? Seriously how has Nicole Kidman been 27 for 30 years, she's older than me. Do you figure she did this movie because of a mortgage? Or leftover dues to CoS? Or some other kompromat?
Wait wait
Wake up
This is important
I just had a vision of this movie where Aquaman was played by Lux Interior, and I really think that would have been the way to go.

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recent movies

Per recent trend, it's been more than a year since my last movie microreview post.

This isn't everything. I've omitted the many things I watched that were so bad that I don't even have anything funny to say about them. Also, when I checked my list, I found that there were some on there that I don't actually remember at all. There were a few. Ok, a lot.

In maybe something close to chronological order but not really:

Guns For Hire: A very low budget "what actually happened" action/mystery. Not bad.

Addicted to Fresno: Absolutely hilarious Slacker Idiot Caper movie.

Morgan: They keep making this movie -- the genetically engineered "born sexy yesterday" killing machine -- but this is a decent entry in the genre.

The Girl With All The Gifts: A zombie movie worth watching even if you're sick to death of zombie movies. I loved the book, and the movie does it justice.

Doctor Strange: Ok either you've already seen this or we can't be friends.

Crazyhead: This series is Buffy with more swearing and awkwardness. Starts off very strong, sort of loses it by the end.

The Man in the High Castle: Season 2 wasn't bad. You can pretty much entirely skip season 1, in which nothing happens.

Travellers: Time travel show basically from the perspective of the Terminators. It's not bad but suffers in characterization since by design, the characters have no backstory. We only get their cover identities.

Falling Water: This is an odd show about walking into other peoples' dreams. What I liked most about it is that it was really good for watching while falling asleep, because like dreams, it makes no god damned sense. It's like a 42 minute screen saver. When they finally started explaining things I felt, "nooo, don't spoil it".

Passengers: The trailer tells the entire story, because there's not much story, and the plot is even more monstrous than the script says it is. It's pretty, though. And I liked the bartender robot.

The Love Witch: This is a glorious tribute to the Hammer Horror movies. If you have any love for those, this is fantastic.

Person of Interest: When this show started, I gave up after a couple episodes because it was just another stupid police procedural. But people kept saying, "no, if you suffer through Season 1, it gets really good and turns into an actual science fiction show". Well, yeah, it does turn into a science fiction show, and it's not bad, but it suffers so heavily from plotblocking: In five seasons, there's about ¾ of a season's worth of the "AI" plot that I actually cared about. The rest of it is procedural victim-of-the-week nonsense.

The Sin of Harold Diddlebock: I thought I had seen all of the Preston Sturges movies, but somehow I missed this one! And it's fantastic!

Legion: SO GREAT. It turns out that what mutant stories were missing was hallucinatory unreliable narrators in asylums! And Aubrey Plaza. You may have heard that the is nominally connected to the X Men franchise, but it feels like it has nothing to do with that world, so don't let that scare you away.

Timeless: This is a really fun time travel show, and I don't often say those words. It hits many of the tropes, ok all of the tropes, but it comports itself well.

Midnight Special: It's a precocious mutant kid movie that seems to be based on the various M83 videos, and is possibly set in the same universe as Tomorrowland. I mock, but actually it's pretty good.

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe: I was worried this was going to be "zombie movie with boobs", but it's actually a pretty great locked-room ghost story. Very well done.

Modesty Blaise: You gotta watch this movie for the wallpaper alone.

The Void: Start with The Thing, turn left at Hellraiser, sprinkle lightly with Beyond The Black Rainbow.

The Scribbler: Good looking movie, shame about the plot.

After Death: Some people wake up on a beach, pretty quickly realize they died and are in Hell. It's not bad, but don't watch the trailer, it spoils the whole thing.

Rogue One: I was very pleasantly surprised by The Force Awakens, but this was even better. It held up on a second viewing, too.

Get Out: This is as great as everyone says it is. It's funnier and less of a horror movie than I expected.

Before I Fall: What if Groundhog Day was Mean Girls? Actually that works our pretty well.

The Neon Demon: This movie takes a really long time to get around to its actual plot -- which begins about 10 minutes from the end. It's vacuous and very pretty, and I might have enjoyed it more if I had known from the beginning that it was actually REDACTED.

Jawbreaker: Speaking of Mean Girls, I remembered this movie being a piece of shit, but I was talking to a friend who remembered it fondly, so I watched it again. I was right, it's a complete piece of shit.

The Devil's Candy: A really nice haunted house / possession movie. Much more on the suspense side than the spring-loaded-cat side.

Trainspotting 2: I did not expect this is be any good, but WOW, it's really good! It really felt like these jackasses have just been fucking around for twenty years and we're checking in on them again.

American Gods: I read the book and it really bored me -- all I remember of it is that it's a road trip with a whiny viewpoint protagonist who has absolutely everything exposited to him. But the show is so much better! Probably because it's actually about Dead Wife and Giant Leprechaun instead of the nominal lead characters. This is very much a Bryan Fuller story, not a Neil Gaiman story: it has much more to do with Fuller's Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me than with Gaiman's pastiches of late-period Douglas Adams.

The Handmaid's Tale: It's pretty great. But do shows with female leads always have to be about babies? Is there some kind of Bechdel test corollary that goes, "...and the women didn't talk about babies at all"?

Glow: Words cannot express how little interest or nostalgia I have for wrestling, but this was pretty funny. But again with the babies.

Wynonna Earp: , Supernatural has been kind of losing my interest lately, and this show was bringing the kind of stupid monster-of-the-week pulp schlock that I was missing. Season two has been slow so far, though. Also, now with babies.

I Am Not A Serial Killer: This is a pretty weird monster movie. It's hard to say more without spoilers. Not bad.

The Tenth Victim: Did you know that they made The Hunger Games in 1965? This may well be the first recorded appearance of a bra that shoots bullets from the nipples. This movie is not good, but it is better than The Hunger Games.

He Never Died: Rollins is immortal, and very very grumpy. I strongly recommend this as a double bill with The Man From Earth.

Blood Drive: This show is way funnier than it has any right to be.

>Freaks of Nature: What if zombies, vampires and humans all went to high school together, and then aliens invaded. Yeah, ok, I'm in.

Motivational Growth: Jeffrey Combs plays a manipulative pile of talking bathroom mold. It's kind of amazing.

Arrival: I loved this movie, and I was already a fan of the story it was based on. Calling it Contact done right isn't out of line.

Absentia: The day after her husband is declared "presumed dead", he comes back, and then gets taken by a monster again. It's pretty well done.

God Help The Girl and Sing Street: If you are looking for a double bill of twee indie-rock musicals, these are totally where you should go for that.

Wonder Woman: After suffering through what felt like a thousand stultifyingly shitty live-action DC movies, they finally got one right! I enjoyed this a lot. (When I saw the trailer for Dunkirk I said, "Wow, this Wonder Woman movie is way darker than I expected it to be.") I still think the Justice League movie looks like it's going to be a piece of shit, though. How is it that the DC animated stuff is (mostly) so good, but their live action outings are complete garbage? Except this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Hands up anybody who saw the first one and thought, "Boy, I hope the whole second movie is about Starlord's sad manbaby daddy issues!" Nobody? That's what I thought.

Colossal: Come for the kaiju, stay for the abusive relationships! I loved this.

Heavy Metal and Heavy Metal 2000: I was feeling nostalgic, so I'm here to remind you that these movies are absolutely dreadful. They're even worse than I remembered. They're shit.

Rock and Rule: In comparison to Heavy Metal, this lousy movie looks pretty great I guess?

Akira: This, however, really stands up. Every frame of this movie is gorgeous.

Ghost in the Shell, 1995: This too. It's absolutely as great as I remembered. One of the things that struck me about it this time is that it's slow not just because it's just a talky movie, but because they are showing off the absolutely obsessive environmental detail. This movie loves its skylines and neon-lit tunnels as much as Blade Runner did, and is just as willing to linger on them.

Ghost in the Shell, 2017: I put off watching this for a long time because A) remakes are stupid and B) whitewashing is stupid. And yeah, the whitewashing is weird and lame. But I gotta say, if you can get past that, they did a great job on this movie. It is absolutely gorgeous -- the exteriors, especially, which look like live-action Wipeout -- and the characterization and themes do justice to the original. The plot is different than, and much simpler than the original movie, but the various movies and TV shows were never much for continuity anyway. (Do the first and second movie even take place in the same universe? I can't remember. I'm pretty sure at least some of the TV shows disregarded the others.)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: For the first hour or so, I thought this movie was fantastic -- very much The Fifth Element done right. It kind of lost it toward the end, though. Like most movies, it probably should have ended 20 minutes earlier. Still, it was gorgeous and a lot of fun. (I have since read the comics, and I can say with assurance that the movie is way better. The comics are shit. Though the movie and the comics do share one important point: both of them would have been better if the male lead wasn't in them.)

Update: I tried to watch this movie again, and I completely retract what I said about it above. I don't know what I was thinking. Or possibly drinking. This movie is shit. There are some cool alien races, but everything else is awful. The comedy rarely rises above the level of "Hurr durr, women are terrible drivers!" Seriously, they make that joke like five times.

Atomic Blonde: THIS IS SO GREAT! From the opening titles where I thought, "You are already referencing To Live and Die in LA and I am all in," every moment of this movie is fantastic. The fight choreography is great. The use of music is great. Where they chose not to use music is great. It's all great.


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Seeking electric motor for serious relationship


I need a better motor for my curtain automation. I've tried several models, and they all only last two or three months before they strip their internal gears. So my current procedure is, "buy a new motor every two months." This is not a good system.

I figured the motors would just stall out before stripping gears. They are straining, but never reach the point where they actually stop turning. But no, eventually something cracks.

I'm driving the motors with with this board, which is 12vdc and has a 1.2a max stall current, so I've tried these motors, and stripped the internal metal gears on all of them, multiple times:

I'm kind of puzzled by this, because except for the 227:1 1.1A, they are not stalling out! They strain a bit at the end, but they keep turning. I expected that the failure mode I would be repeatedly experiencing would be that the motor is fine and the driver board melts. But somehow, even without the motor ever getting stuck, it's just shattering internally. (Applying power directly results in the shaft not rotating at all, or rotating only partially then getting stuck, so it's definitely that the gearbox has committed internal suicide.)

I need to find a quiet, fast motor with like, 350+ oz-in torque. Bidirectional, constant speed. And if it has more than a 1.1A stall, or if it needs more than 12vdc, I need to find a driver board to run it with. I don't even really know where to look. You'd think lots of people would want to move heavy things with a small box.


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2015 music wrap-up, and mixtape 161

In only approximate order of favoriteness -- and for the thirteenth year in a row -- here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2015, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2015.

This year I acquired around 80% as much new music as last year: roughly 60 new releases, almost all released within the last 3 years, more than half released in 2015. That's down 50% from 2013.

Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 15.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 5.
Go Team. Both of those numbers are down too.

So I am officially in a rut.

I haven't commented on all of these because I still find it really hard. Don't hold it against them. Listen to the mixtape!

I like these things. You should like them too. Here's your shopping list:

  • Veruca Salt - "Ghost Notes"

    This album sounds like they could have made it in 1998 -- which is totally fine by me. It's really, really great: Triage and The Museum of Broken Relationships are as good as anything they've ever done. In case you haven't heard, this is the band's original lineup, producer and all. They broke up in 1998, and Louise released two and a half albums on her own, but now everybody's happy so they can get back to writing angry songs about miserable relationships!

    I think it's kind of weird that most of the reviews I've read of it have pretty much pretended that Louise's "solo" Veruca Salt albums don't even exist. I think Resolver is very nearly as good an album as Eight Arms To Hold You was -- I love every track. And the later releases were also pretty good: maybe not up to that standard as whole albums, but they contained some great stuff: Damage Done, Officially Dead, Closer, Save You...

  • Meg Myers - "Sorry"

    More angry songs about terrible relationships! Yay!

  • Chvrches - "Every Open Eye"

    I'd say that overall the tracks on this album are consistently better than on The Bones of What You Believe, but that one had some better stand-out tracks. By the way, if you haven't heard their covers of I Would Die 4 V and Bela Lugosi's Dead, you really should.

  • Health - "Death Magic"

    This album has a very unusual style: the music is heavy as fuck, sometimes sounding a bit metal, sometimes a bit industrial, but just so heavy, and then the vocals come in and he's singing in this airy synthpoppy style. It sounds like that would be a complete mess, but it's not! Also this was probably the second best show I saw all year -- and they only came in second to Lydia Lunch, and she's hard to top.

  • Metric - "Pagans in Vegas"

    This is a really good album, but I keep wanting them to release Fantasies again... and it's not quite Fantasies. But, I felt the same way about Synthetica too, and that grew on me eventually.

  • Vanbot - "Perfect Storm"

    This album makes me feel sad, and cold, and sad. Ok, I'm really cold right now. But that's not why.

  • The Chemical Brothers - "Born in The Echoes"

    Better than Further, definitely, but they are kind of repeating themselves. Go is probably the best track, and its awesome, but it's basically the same as Galvanize (which to me I will always hear as the Galvanize the Empire mash-up, dammit). Taste of Honey could be a Recoil song.

  • Shriekback - "Without Real String or Fish"

    The first Shriekback album in five years! Three quarters of the original lineup. It's definitely a return to their 80s form, much more in the Oil and Gold vein than Sacred City or Naked Apes. Of the recent albums, I would still rate Glory Bumps slightly above this, but it's very good. I got the special edition that came with a 3d-printed fish and little bits of string. Their merch game is very strong.

  • Happy Fangs - "Capricorn"

    "Excuse me Sir, do you have a minute to talk about rock and roll?" They are awesome, and I'm glad we have booked them as often as we have. Though it has been a while.

  • Fight Like Apes - "Fight Like Apes"

    Even though it's self-titled, it's their third or fourth album, depending on how you count. It's great, though not as funny as previous releases. But it's hard to top song titles like Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues, Come On Let's Talk About Our Feelings, Pull Off Your Arms and Let's Play In Your Blood (from "The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner").

  • Five Knives - "Savages"

    Like I said when reviewing their first album, this band is what Shiny Toy Guns should have been but weren't. Their lyrics are like, the brattiest stuff I've ever heard.

  • Wolf Alice - "My Love Is Cool"

    A little shoegazey, a little grungey. Bellly meets L7?

  • Public Service Broadcasting - "The Race For Space"

    All of their albums are built around newsreels and old radio broadcasts. This one is about the space race, obviously. The songs are not as gimicky as that sounds.

  • Meet Me In Orbit - "Traveller"

    Synthy, mostly instrumental, and possibly from the 19A0s.

  • Jesika von Rabbit - "Journey Mitchell"

    A more electronic album by the singer of Gram Rabbit, a longtime favorite. It's goofy. She's a wonderful goofball.

  • Speedy Ortiz - "Foil Deer"

    This sounds so much like if Liz Phair made records that I actually like! Wait, that didn't come out quite right. No, actually, it did. The Phair is strong in this one, but better. "Sorry I made out with your friends. I'm not that sorry, I'm never that sorry."

  • Barry Andrews - "Haunted Box of Switches, Vol. 2"

    The singer of Shriekback does his "crooning with a piano" bit. Volume 1 was superior, but this makes a good counterpoint to that copy of "Without Real String or Fish" you were gonna pick up.

  • Say Hi - "Bleeder's Digest"

    More sad songs about vampires! That's right, it's the sequel to Impeccable Blahs.

  • Sleep Thieves - "You Want The Night"

  • Priest - "Priest"

  • Ume - "Too Big World"

  • Vela Eyes - "Sparks"

  • 2:54 - "The Other I"

  • Voltaire Twins - "Milky Waves"

  • Sleater-Kinney - "No Cities To Love"

    If you were looking for an album that sounds exactly like a Sleater-Kinney album, this is that.

  • Chromatics - "Running From The Sun"

    If you were looking for an album that sounds exactly like a Chromatics album...

  • Purity Ring - "Another Eternity"

    If you were...

And finally, here's mixtape 161, which includes one track by each of the above artists.

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Current Music: as noted


How is this koo-koo krazypants getting a cover story?

I mean, I love apocalyptic illuminati conspiracy fiction as much as the next guy -- ok, a lot more than the next guy, because that guy's a sheeple -- but come on.

Slow news week? Ran out of Dirt Rave stories already?

We should be so lucky as to have a vast, faceless meta-governmental conspiracy that was competent enough to pull this off. It would mean that adults were in charge. Or Gods.

A thumbnail sketch of the science behind chemtrails is difficult because there are competing theories about what that science entails. But most activists, including Roddie, agree that curbing global warming seems to be the purpose. In layman's terms, chemtrails are believed to be an aerosol that contains aluminum (which deflects sunlight), as well as a cocktail of other toxic elements such as barium and strontium. According to Roddie, this aerosol has insidious side effects, including Alzheimer's, autism, asthma, respiratory failure, pulmonary failure, and stroke.

Another major side effect: California's historic drought. [...]

Hall says she protects herself as best she can, but as a gardener, she works outside every day and is vulnerable. She no longer drives with her windows down, she says, and she bought a water filter to sift out impurities. Occasionally, she detoxes from the heavy metals in her blood by taking supplements such as chlorella, zeolite powder, and bentonite clay. She also eats as much cilantro as she can, which assuages metallic contamination, she claims.

Rumors of sickness and bodily mutation run rampant through the chemtrails community. Hall mentions a fellow activist who tested her dog's blood for heavy metals and discovered thorium, a radioactive element that has been used as nuclear fuel.

She also mentions Morgellons, a controversial condition -- classified by most physicians as a delusional parasitosis -- in which people develop sores they believe to be caused by parasites, insects, or invasive synthetic fibers. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated Morgellons among patients in Northern California, a hotbed of self-reported Morgellons diagnoses, and concluded there was "no infectious cause and no evidence of an environmental link."

Hall is unconvinced. "All of us have fibers in us because they spray them in the sky, and they're all over the ground, and they're in the soil, and they're in the water," she says. "These fibers are self-replicating nanotechnology. To me, those are the scariest words I've ever heard in my life."

Marsha Dawson, a North Bay activist who works with Roddie and Hall, agrees that chemtrails exact a disastrous human toll. She says she experiences "memory problems" and lung pain because of her exposure. Dawson drinks Fiji and Volvic water constantly because both contain silica that, she claims, loosens the aluminum particles in her body. She also finds relief in black cherry bark syrup from Whole Foods. [...]

The scope of the program Herndon envisions is mind-boggling. According to him, the fly ash is transported on railways that connect coal plants to military and civilian airports across the country. The ash is loaded onto a fleet of 1,000 or more planes, he estimates, all of which fly off-the-radar, often at night, without transponders or flight plans. These ghost planes, Herndon says, have poisoned the country and induced California's drought. He alleges that certain leafy plants in the Golden State now exhibit high concentrations of thallium -- Saddam Hussein's favorite poison for political assassinations. [...]

"Pretty much one hundred percent of people who believe in chemtrails will believe that 9/11 was an inside job and the World Trade Center was pre-rigged with explosives," West says. (In fact, prior to becoming a chemtrails activist, Roddie was involved in We Are Change, a "nonpartisan, independent media organization" that promotes the idea of a 9/11 cover-up.) [...]

As West points out, the scope of the program that Herndon suggests would implicate every meteorologist, airline pilot, and climate scientist in the world, plus a significant chunk of the Pentagon, Congress, Cabinet, and White House -- and numerous other governments and industries worldwide.

At least chemtrails are vegan. Better drink Pepsi-branded bottled water, though, just to be safe. STAY VIGILANT.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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