Monday, July 18, 2011

Game of Thrones is Awesome!

This years must see TV miniseries at the Zartimus household (while we wait for the walking dead to start up again) was the 10 episode series Game of Thrones. How the hell did these books get by my reading list. That George R.R. Martin dude can really write a good yarn! It's like The Lord of the Rings meets The Sopranos (of course it helps to have the guy who played Boramir in LOTR actually have a lead part in this thing). Not only that, but if you find yourself getting attached to a character or two LOOK OUT because he'll kill them off faster than you can frickin' blink.

I LOVE THAT! It adds to the realism. Death is final and in this book/mini series if a bad person is in a position to screw you over for money, power or sex, they do! They stab you in the back, strip your clothes off before you're all the way dead and wipe the blood off on your clammy skin (because they already took your clothes remember?). It's loosely based on the War of the Roses and the 100 years war so you get a great feel for medieval times. There's magic in the series but it's not up-front. It really takes a back-seat and isn't used as a crutch ("A Wizard did it").

It has simply amazing characters and awesome subplots and layers and intrigue and mystery and gets you hooked even if you need a family tree book to keep everyone straight, who's related to who and why and how and whatnot. Even swords become major characters in this story. You catch on quick and pretty soon you know the Lannisters from the Starks. Every house has a sigil (the Starks have the Dire Wolf as theirs) and that helps keep them straight when they're about to clobber each other on the battlefield. When the series started I cracked open the book and I'll say that the adaptation is superb. It's faithful to the book but speeds the right things along for brevity. Nothing is missing that doesn't need to be there. The casting is excellent (although I saw the show first, read the book second so I'm already biased). One of my favorite characters is "The Imp", a high-born Dwarven lord. He really stirs up crap in this series (when your brother is the medieval Brad Pitt and your sister is a hot incestuous psychopath it tends to affect your personality).

In the novels the author titles each chapter after the name of a major character so you see the story through their eyes only for that whole chapter. The characters get scattered early so some very major plot points don't get spoon fed to you, they are picked up through hearsay or in passing from other characters. It's an awesome technique I've never seen used before and easily lends itself to film. If you haven't checked it out, do yourself a favor.

Another great touch is the intro credits sequence that depicts the Seven Kingdoms and other parts of the land, introducing them as a huge clockwork diorama. They seem to introduce the new lands as they are about to appear in the episodes of the show by adding them to the sequence. You see the Wall, Winterfell, Kings landing, etc.. A great touch.

Check it out!

Landslide - The Smashing Punpkins version guitar tab

My friend Bryce got married awhile ago, and he wanted this song for the father/daughter dance part. He had a twist though, he wanted to perform it and just needed a guitar bed track. I've always liked this song, the original Fleetwood Mac version, the one the Dixie Chicks did, and I'd heard the Smashing Pumpkins one at one time or another (check out this Brokeback Mountain video montage with it!). I've even performed it once or twice, accompanying a singer so I thought I knew how to play it. Sure Bryce, I can make you a guitar track with it!

Turns out I was wrong. The Billy Corrigan version differs quite a bit from what Lindsey Buckingham wrote. The original uses a Capo on the 3rd fret so I slapped it on, took a listen to the Smashing Pumpkins version and lo and behold.. That's not what's going on at all. It's in some sort of alternate tuning! WTF!

To save time I went to Ultimate Guitar Archive and tried the 3 or 4 versions they had there, and as usual. It was a BIG WASTE OF TIME! If the song is complicated or a cover that differs in any way from the standard way the tune is played you can bet the person who submitted the tab is an earless wonder Cro Mangon guitar player with no ability to differentiate notes and string types and intervals to speak of. You should see some of the absolute clueless shite people  slap up there. Surprise surprise, this thing had to be transcribed. So I set about slowing it down in some software and checking out the guts. The guy actually de-tunes the 1st and 2nd strings, 1 semitone down, 2nd a semitone up. I've never heard of a tune that does that. It's almost like Billy C didn't realize the Fleetwood Mac guy was using a capo when he started to lift the tune and just switched the tuning around to accommodate the mistake he made. 

But Ohhh what a great mistake. I now love this version more than the capoed travis picking original. The pull offs to the low open strings sound much better.  After awhile, I checked for live versions of them performing it on youtube and low and behold, Billy C has a capo on the 3rd fret. WTF? I listened to the notes, they are all wrong. He's playing the Fleetwood Mac version live on Yourtube.  Every vid I saw he has a capo and he's playing it the standard way, not his cool studio way.

I finally stumbled on a newsgroup where there was a story that Billy C met Stevie Nicks at a party and she told him she loved the version they did of their song but that her guitar player complained that he was playing it all wrong. Billy C meets Lindsey Buckingham. The CAPO gets slapped on the 3rd fret, a guitar lesson ensues and now he plays it the standard way. Many years later, I am confused for an evening but in the end, here is a tab of what Billy C is doing. As far as I know, it's the only right one out there that I couldn't find, so I did it myself. Woohoo!

Landslide - The Smashing Punpkins version guitar tab

And for you aspiring Karaoke artists, here's the instrumental track. 

P.S. in the course of looking for live pumpkins video I ran across this guy, who has the right of it as well. We only differ in one or two places (and I have proofs for mine so it's right, har har har). Still it's a nice video tut. Check it out!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Godzilla is still cool!

Although my wife had a hand in contributing to our kids DNA, I'm pretty sure they got their love of Godzilla movies from my side of the double helix. We're doing some Godzilla movie marathons this summer combined with heavy doses of good old XBOX Godzilla - Save the Earth monster fights. If you check on YouTube they show guys making their own suits out of foam and poured latex... Hmmm. Be the coolest kid on your block! If I wasn't so busy with half a dozen other hobbies....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 01, 2011

Canada Day 2011 - out with a bang!

This year we got to avoid the extra large crowds on Parliament Hill because of the prince and princesses in attendance. Royal watchers can be as rough as soccer hooligans if you get in their way, understandable considering they haven't been able to go to the bathroom since 2:00am lest they lose their spot).We spent this Canada Day at "Da Hung Monkey", a backyard cabana bar in Riverside South created by friends of ours. The kids had a great time in and out of the pool, snatching hotdogs from this neat steamer device they had going (I think I ate 4 of them). There was a pizza cook-off between some of the guys but I wasn't able to vote because I forgot who made what. It was all good! I voted for the Hawaiian pizza (of which there was none).

I brought the bullwhips and spend some time edjmumacatin' the folks on how to toss them and apart from the odd strap mark, everyone managed to leave with their eyeballs and skin unflayed. The snowbirds screamed by overhead twice in perfect formation as always. Forget all that talk of those new billion dollar fighter jets, we need to get these guys some new planes! They've been using those ones for ages! The bar-owner had some sort of AOOGA horn connected to a stuffed monkey in the cabana that he pulls when he serves shooters. The neighbors must LOVE that!

We ended the eats of with a Canada Day cake from Costco. The only way to get more Canadian than that would be to slather the top of the cake with poutine (it's been done).

When it got dark we decked out the kids with glow sticks and lights and headed off to the nearby ball field to launch some fireworks. We dug in a series of holes to hold them at about 2nd base line in the infield and things were going well until we noticed another group of people setting up some fireworks at home plate. In hindsight, the fact that they had no flashlight and were using their BBQ lighter to read the instructions on the back of the firecrackers should have been a dead giveaway. They were a bit close but it should be ok. We set ours up with the fuses all pointing to the same side and lit them 3 at a time.

We were lighting the 2nd or 3rd series when a Roman candle whizzed right by my head from the direction of home plate. We looked over and one from the other group had fallen over and firebombing us. We all scattered, looking for our kids and I felt a THWACK! as the next firecracker hit me square in the back of the head. I was wearing a Tilly Hat with a headlamp attached to it and it saved my hair from catching on fire. I took it off and shook off the burning firecracker and put it back on and ducked the next 3 or 4 that came our way and it was after they stopped that my wife told me my hat was still on fire.

I thought it was my headlamp light but no, there was a burning firecracker ember smoking away happily in my prized Tilly Hat I've had since 1991. I was putting it out with gravel from the infield when the 2nd roman candle from the same group at home plate fell over and showered us with burning embers. That's when it became a good time to go introduce myself with who was trying to set us on fire. It was either someone clueless or a group of mean spirited idiots doing it on purpose. Turns out it was option #1. I came up on two 10 year old something kids who immediately apologized for letting the firecrackers get away from them and their parents appeared out of the dark with three more firecrackers ready to go!

Turns out they were new to Canada Day celebrations (maybe they don't shoot off firecrackers in India?) and just setting the Roman candles on the ground, balancing them upright and lighting them up, thinking that they would just stay put as they belched forth gobs of Pyrotechnic stars. It being Canada day and all the diplomatic solution turned out to be to go get our shovel, dig three small holes beside home plate, show them how to bury at least 3 to 4 inches of it into the ground pointing upright and shining my light for them as they lit them up.

BOOYA! No more potential accidents.

I was thinking of getting a new hat....