September 22, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Wiki

Today I entered a Wikipedia contest to redesign the State Flag of Indiana.

I thought I did a damn good job, but it turned out that the contest was only in my imagination. Oh well. Paul Hadley is stealing all my credit!

The Wikipedia Police take their US & A purdy seriously, so my contributions were reverted immediately. You have to admit that my flag is way cooler than their old boring one. Indiana Jerks!

September 17, 2009

Welcome to Verizon/Canada

Today I learned some interesting things about Verizon's billing policy for US customers traveling to Canada. I didn't understand the policy before my recent trip to Montreal, and the Verizon website didn't help much. Searching on the web yielded more confusing and often conflicting anecdotal evidence, so I decided to learn by using the crappiest method of evidence collecting--do the damage then wait for the bill to arrive.

[Just so you know, my monthly plan is currently the NATIONWIDE BASIC 450. I also have unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls, V Cast with unlimited data transfer, and a 250 text/picture/video message package.]

Interpreting my bill with the assistance of a Verizon billing rep (who wasn't completely sure about their policy either), I've gleaned this information:
  • In Canada, you are considered roaming.
  • Free unlimited nights and weekends does not apply while roaming. My calls were charged $.69 a minute, regardless of what time or day I placed them.
  • Free unlimited mobile-to-mobile does not apply while roaming. One of my calls was to another US Verizon mobile customer, and the other was to my own number for the purpose of checking voicemail messages. Fortunately, I only made those two quick calls.
  • Free unlimited data transfer does not apply while roaming. You can argue until you're blue in the face that it's the World Wide Web, but according to Verizon, it's just the National Wide Web. In Canada, it will cost you $.002 per KB, which can add up quickly when you're looking up maps and menus on the go. I racked up almost $15 in 5 days. Not terrible, but in other countries such as Israel, India, and the Dominican Republic, the rate is 10 times as high.
So far everything has been pretty straightforward--"No" across the board. The peculiar exception to the rule is text messaging. I assured the Verizon representative that I sent quite a few text messages while in Canada, but neither of us could not find any charges associated with them. She assumed that they simply had not been assessed yet, as there can often be delays with roaming network charges. Since the trip was over a month ago, she acknowledged that it may be something else, and dug deeper. After being on hold for a few minutes, she told me this:
  • In Canada, a text message sent to a US customer by another US customer is still considered "domestic" and is only subject to "domestic" rates.
How bizarre, how bizarre. This was good news, of course, but isn't it sort of borderline hypocritical? Why shouldn't I be able to domestically abuse my Voice and Data features like I can with SMS? What is the explanation for this inconsistency? Did someone just spill coffee on the coverage map in Verizon's Text Messaging Department?

(Does Pulitzer give a Prize for awesome blog graphics?)

I'm sure there's a technical reason for this practice, but wouldn't it behooVe 'rizon to just go one way or the other for all services in order to clear up confusion with their customers?

What do I know, eh?

September 14, 2009


I clearly reneged on the promise of an MTV VMA Live Blogcast Extravaganza last night. The RoBeastress and I were too busy playing Tetris Party on the Wii. Yes, I have priorities in my life.

Eventually I turned on the show just in time to catch the Kanye West debacle. The sentiment seems to be pretty unanimous on the internets--he is a completely tacky and classless douchebag. His backhanded tribute to Beyonce was about as heartfelt as the shots David Hinckley fired off for Jodie Foster. I don't really care for Taylor Swift's teenybopper music, but I sincerely felt horrible for her last night. Had she not been an innocent seventeen year old, she may have played it off more casually, but seeing her completely paralyzed with confusion and disappointment made me even more angry at that narcissistic hack.

I know this is supposed to be the hippest pop culture event of the year where "OMG ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN" (and after translating Kanye's blog response to incident, I think he tried to invoke that excuse) but timing and context is something that has to be taken into consideration before pulling shit like this.

I recall that back in '94 when one of the Beastie Boys stormed the stage, it wasn't such a horrible thing. The difference was:
  1. Adam Yauch went up in costume as his alter-ego Nathanial Hörnblowér, which was visually funny.
  2. He was directly connected to the award category in question (and "Sabotage" was truly an awesome video).
  3. His obviously tongue-in-cheek protest probably didn't hurt R.E.M.'s feelings.
As far as I remember, that was the first time anyone had ever done that, and its irreverence was worth a chuckle back in the "alternative" days. Kanye's interruption did not pay tribute to that moment. It didn't reference it or build on its humor, and it certainly didn't one-up it. Kanye's bomb had no zazz, so he was well deserving of the chorus of boos. Dude just doesn't understand Time and Place.

Remember when Tim Commerford from Rage Against the Machine drunkenly climbed up on stage to heckle Limp Bizkit? I was a Rage fan back in the day, and I certainly hated Fred Durst, but the whole moment was just awkward and uncomfortable. It was the furthest thing from funny, and when he was thrown out and arrested, he deserved it--especially because it made Durst look like the classy one. If Kanye would've climbed a catwalk dressed as the Phantom of the Opera during Lady Gaga's performance, maybe I would have given him some credit. The truth is, Adam Yauch's disruptive blitz was quick and lo-fi, but still maximized its effectiveness. It would be difficult for anyone to top it with such efficiency. That's not a challenge, just a request for attention whores and sore losers to find an original way to express themselves in the future.

All right, enough about Kanye. Let's talk about other vaginas. What do you think was more visibly swollen--Madonna's cheekbones or Katy Perry's labia? Tough call, I know.

Lady Gaga's vagina actually played piano during her performance of "Paparazzi." I can't say that I like all of her songs, I will say that I get what she's doing. I think she's entertaining even if most of the time I'm scratching my head. I think she's underachieving musically (at least what I've heard of her album compared to her live sets) in order to focus her image, which I hope changes in the future. Performing in a white dress covered in blood still isn't going to make me forget that the chorus of "Paparazzi" borrows liberally from Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." Top Gun was just finishing up on AMC at the same time Gaga took the stage. Holy synchronicity, Batman!

Muse has always been dogged for sounding like a Queen/Radiohead crossbreed, but this "Uprising" song of theirs is like a jock rock version of Battles' "Atlas" (The RoBeast Song of the Year, 2007). I can deal with arena rock dynamics in extreme moderation, but the lyrics here are more bland than "We Are the Champions." Don't get me wrong, I like Muse (The Absolution album is good stuff), but them and Green Day and My Chemical Romance and Foo Fighters need to settle the fuck down with the theatrics and start pretending that there's only one person listening to their song at a time. Coldplay can keep doing it though. I don't give a shit about them.

What else happened? To be honest, I spent most of the time either reading people's reactions to Kanye or thinking about Tetris, so forgive me. I guess I wasn't looking up at the screen enough. I remember not recognizing 95% of the presenters. I remember not understanding 95% of what Russell Brand was saying. I remember Jay-Z performing the first song ever written about New York City (95% of which was censored). Michael Jackson showed up, but Britney Spears didn't. Was Shakira there? I wanted to hear her say "A-WOOOOO!" It's ferocious!

Well, I'm not a 50-year old pop star that grew up in the Midwest with 8 brothers and sisters, so I'll stop talking now. Here are some suggested topics for your classroom discussion:
  • Does Soy Bomb have a place in a post-Dimebag world?
  • Does Kanye West care about white people?
  • Should the guy in worn-out jeans date the Cheer Captain or the girl on the bleachers?
  • Can we stop talking about the Beatles now for a little while?

September 10, 2009

Cascada - "Evacuate the Dancefloor"

Cascada's "Evacuate the Dancefloor" is poised to be the anthem for impending Swine Flu pandemic:
My body's aching/System overload/Temperature's rising/I'm about to explode... Evacuate the dance floor/I'm infected by the swine/Stop, this flu is killing me...
Is it just dumb luck that they have created the soundtrack to worldwide doom? That's what they'll have you believe. They're also dodging all Lady Gaga comparisons by saying they wrote the song at least a year ago. I'm not going to deny that the first time I heard this track, I insisted that it was Lady Gaga. Besides the obvious "dance" theme, some synthesizer sounds and vocal lines are very similar to parts of Gaga's "Just Dance." The pre-chorus of "Evacuate..." evidently features the most evident pieces of evidence. That, and the sections of the song where random dudes take over lead vocals. This occurs at nearly identical points of both songs (2:04 Gaga, 2:09 Cascada). Either their songwriting is so unoriginal that they've accidentally stumbled on the exact same formula, or something is rotten in Denmark's Southern neighbor Germany, home country of recording artists Cascada.

Or maybe it's a complete coincidence, I don't know. Cascada's random dude actually gets an extended nasal mediocre rap which serves to break up what was almost FIVE FUCKING CHORUSES IN A ROW. Gaga's track actually breaks down even further and nearly loses sight of itself order to hide its own FIVE FUCKING CHORUSES IN A ROW. Hey Jude, write some more lyrics!

The biggest problem I have with "Evacuate the Dancefloor" is that I can't effectively mock the chorus. I want it to be "Evacuate on the Dancefloor" or "Ejaculate on the Dancefloor" but the phrasing doesn't exactly fit. Another nitpick is that my spellcheck insists ""dancefloor is not one word. (It also insists "spellcheck" is not one word, but that's another story). At least Cascada is consistent--their last big hit, "Everytime We Touch" should have been four words. I can't wait for their greatest hits package, "Everytime We Touch Eachother Alot on the Dancefloor is Alright!"

Not that anyone is asking me to choose, but when it comes down to it, I prefer the Gaga tune. Cascada just sounds too happy and upbeat for me. The beat is not even slightly killing her and she clearly doesn't want Mr. DJ to stop, so why be coy? I get the impression that Lady Gaga was drugged at some point in the song and is Just Dance-ing for her life. Personally, I prefer the darker, more subtle chorus as opposed to one with in-your-face keyboards that mimic the lyrics (a lazy trend I despise these days).

Fortunately for the Cascadians, Gagamania is not running wild these days. "Just Dance" and "Poker Face" have run their course, and "Lovegame" and "Paparazzi" sound like complete gagortions, so Cascada should have no problem filling the void with this tune. But what the hell do I know? I'm just an old fart who doesn't dance but listens to Top 40 radio thinking that I'll be able to bring a refreshing perspective on it to his blog audience that doesn't listen to Top 40. So yeah, get used to this for a while.

Speaking of gagortions, watch this:

September 9, 2009

Haywire the Puppy

Unless teh_Beauty decides to post pictures of her little one, this could potentially be the most adorable BatR entry ever. I know it's been quiet here lately, but I had a minor flash of inspiration during a corporate town hall meeting in our building late last week. After setting up the A/V for the meeting, I didn't have much to do other than sit there and monitor levels. I took the opportunity to do a little bored-gami with two wire ties and came up with something that resembled a black puppy. When the room finally emptied, I busted out Macro Mode and took some snapshots of my new micro-canine friend.

Haywire the Puppy

Standing Up Against Coffee Culture

Phono Tug o' War

The Consequences of Roughhousing

Caught Green-Handed

Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence

Winding Down for Nap Time

That's all I've got for now, but Haywire will be back again someday. I've got a lot of music-related posts in the works. Maybe an MTV Awards liveblog/tweet on Sunday?