Etikettarkiv: The Simpsons

The web goes dark

It’s fantastic to see how the world wide web, which is by default a mass creation by literally billions of people, can get together for a cause.

Today many pages across the web, including (the English versions of) Google, Wikipedia, xkcd, WordPress, Torrentz, go dark to protest the SOPA and PIPA bills that if passed will basically destroy internet as we know it. The bills are designed to combat piracy, but it won’t even do that. In its way to try to sink this rubber ducky, it will make it possible for the US congress to take down any site that break any copyright laws. What is worse, they will be able to take down any site that even links to copyright infringement. This will actively force sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to go through all materials posted by all users to avoid that anyone posts, say, a link to a Simpsons clip, or shows a screenshot from Diablo III.

Even if you’re against piracy, this is not the solution. This is a moment when everyone who cares for the internet must come together and show their outrage. And the internet is more than funny YouTube clips and seeing when people eat lunch on Facebook. It’s about a mass democratic global community of all ages, sexes, races, ideologies and opinions, a community the world has never before seen. A community that is now threatened out of existence.

Join the good fight.

Fight SOPA.

Upphovsrättsintrång i vardagen – farligt eller harmlöst?

Idag var en speciell dag för mig – tillsammans med min fysikklass fick jag chansen att åka på studiebesök till kärnkraftverket i Oskarshamn. Det innebar att gå upp alldeles för tidigt (06:20!) och sitta i buss 2.5 timmar fram och 2.5 tillbaka. Den första sådana resa fick mig att tänka på hur olagliga upphovsrättsintrång är så otroligt vanligt överallt omkring oss. Vad som slog mig vidare var hur det inte är en dålig sak.

Jag tror det definitivt är någonting som slår de flesta yngre generationerna förr eller senare, men jag tror att det är en mycket främmande tanke för vissa människor, allra speciellt äldre (45 +) och de som helt enkelt inte är så inne på ny teknik. Jag fick idén att sammanföra alla mina upphovsrättsintrång för en dag, som dessutom var en speciellt ovanlig dag. Jag har också lagt in kommentarer om varför varje intrång är helt ofarlig eller till och med gynnande för upphovsrättsinnehavarna.

  • 01:00: Jag somnar tittandes på ett olagligt nedladdat avsnitt av TV-serien The Simpsons. Jag äger de första elva säsongerna av serien på DVD (helt lagligt), men jag föredrar att titta på de nedladdade versionerna i min dator eftersom det är enklare att gå från avsnitt till avsnitt utan att byta skiva hela tiden. Jag köper ändå DVD:erna för att jag tycker om att ha DVD:er och för att jag vill vissa min support till skaparna av en fantastisk serie.
  • 06:20: Jag vaknar och tittar till min dator och torrenterna jag seedar. Jag tar bort ett par torrenter som jag seedat så länge att jag delat flera gånger mer än jag själv laddat ned.
  • 07:15: Jag och min fysikklass har precis gett oss iväg med bussen från Linköping till Oskarshamn. Någon har med sig en DVD med komedifilmen My Best Friend’s Girl, och han sätter på den på TV-skärmen för alla 19 personer i bussen att se på. Detta är ej tillåtet, men vem ombord bryr sig? Logiken att alla 19 personer annars skulle ha köpt filmen är fullständigt ologisk – jag tror snarare mer på att fler skulle köpa en film om en kompis visade dem den först, precis som att många köper en film efter att först ha sett den på bio. I detta fall gick det nog erkännerligt åt motsatsen dock, eftersom filmen var så dålig att jag började läsa istället.
  • 07:36: För att släcka ut ljudet från filmen sätter jag på musik på min telefon, albumet Pale Folklore av black metal-bandet Agalloch. Det är en olagligt nedladdad kopia av flera anledningar: först och främst är jag väldigt ny med bandet, och som alltid väljer jag att köpa albumet bara efter att jag säkert vet att det är ett bra album. På detta vis stödjer jag bra artister men inte dåliga, precis som en marknadsekonomi ska fungera. För det andra skulle jag inte ha någon möjlighet att spela en skiva på min telefon, och resultatet skulle vara att jag inte lyssnade alls, någonting varken bandet eller jag skulle vinna på. (När jag kom hem senare spelade jag dessutom igenom albumet i Spotify, så lite royalty fick de i alla fall)
  • 16:35: Efter en riktigt häftig dag på kärnkraftverket sitter vi åter i bussen hem. Samma person som hade den förra filmen sätter i en andra dålig kärlekskomedi, On the Line.
  • 16:40: Även här ger jag nästan genast upp och sätter istället på mig hörlurarna, återigen med Agalloch men nu med deras senaste album Marrow of the Spirit. Det här albumet fick jag i CD-format av min flickvän i julklapp, men som jag sade förut kan jag ju inte spela CD på min telefon och jag har därför laddat ned den.

Upphovsrättsintrång av den typen som idag kan ge enorma böter är vanliga i de flesta människors vardag. Se dig omkring, och tänk. Ska det verkligen vara olagligt? Om du någonstans tycker det, tänk igen. Vem är offret?

Stratovarius – Elysium (2011)

Power metal pioneer Stratovarius’ twelth studio album Polaris basically shocked the fans in 2009, bringing forth a powerful line-up after the departure of long-time guitarist and composer Timo Tolkki, who left the band in a big feud in 2008. Polaris was a refreshing new album, stepping on new grounds of progressive metal and techno, and meanwhile continuing the twenty-year tradition that made band famous to begin with – technically challenging yet extremely melodic, uplifting songs with heart and emotion.

2011’s Elysium, the second album with the new line-up, is probably even better. The album highlights on melodic hits such as Darkest Hours and Event Horizon as well as the beautiful ballad Move the Mountain and the epic and emotional 18-minute title track as well as the beautiful Lifetime in a Moment. The album perfectly balances all that we have learned to expect from Stratovarius, and it even brings a bunch of new stuff to the table.

1. Darkest Hours (04:10)

Released in late November of 2010 alongside ”Infernal Maze”, Darkest Hours is another one of the many Stratovarius hits and singles that wouldn’t grow on me immediately, alongside especially the Polaris single ”Deep Unknown”. While growing on me eventually and becoming a pretty strong track, ”Darkest Hours” stays somewhat of a medicore track, though it is indeed a good listen.

2. Under Flaming Skies (03:51)

An interesting track with some unique riffs and melodies, even though I hoped for a return of the Arabic (?) theme in the intro. The solo is good but I can’t help but feel that the song would have worked better with a slower C-passage before the final chorus.

3. Infernal Maze (05:32)

Infernal Maze was perhaps a bad choice for a pre-album single release (alongside ”Darkest Hours”), because of its epic and extremely non-singley arrangement, but to me this is a golden song. It reminds me of many of Stratovarius classical epics, alongside the newer, progressive and neo-classical themes of Polaris, especially ”Emancipation Suite”. The song gets a grip on both an emotional and technical level, bringing up speed in perfect balance with slower tempos and excellent guitar and keyboard work. It grows a lot in just five and a half minute, and it does really impress me.

4. Fairness Justified (04:20)

The beginning of this semi-ballad sounds a bit off right after ”Infernal Maze”, but it works. The choir chorus works unexpectedly well, even though it feels a bit sudden and maybe even forced upon the listener. Alike ”Under Flaming Skies”, I think the chorus is better suited for a more epic track, where it can be built in additional two or three slower minutes before the first chorus.

5. The Game Never Ends (03:54)

The Game Never Ends sounds (at least on first listen) a little too much like old school HammerFall for my taste. Power metal is good and HammerFall is okay, but this kind of thing has been done. Hopefully it will grow on me on subsequent listens. The ending keyboard solo is pretty cool though.

6. Lifetime in a Moment (06:39)

The second longer track on the album (after ”Infernal Maze”) is less progressive and more of the traditional epic style, even though it does incorporate some nice new age reminiscent sounds and some techno work after the choruses. Starting out with an interesting choir introduction, it moves into a calmer piece and escalates perfectly as the chorus kicks in just before the three-minute mark. The guitar riffs in the chorus stick out like they seldom do in Stratovarius music, and it works. The guitar solo, alongside several solos on the album, is a bit disappointing and too generic for my taste, and so it also fails to bring the song up properly before the third and final chorus, but it is still okay. The song reminds me of ”King of Nothing”, one of my favorite tracks from Polaris, but I think I might start to prefer this.

7. Move the Mountain (05:34)

Move the Mountain is the first proper ballad on the album, seeing as even though both ”Fairness Justified” and ”Lifetime in a Moment” has ballad elements but I wouldn’t count either as a full and proper ballad. This is a good thing, really, and something I love in music with special arrangements (bands that come to mind include both Devil Doll and My Dying Bride) is how they seldom have real ballads, but they incorporate it well into the music making more songs have a whole new dimension. Kind of like the old-school episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama often ending on a heart-felt tone even though the episode overall is comedy.

I think vocalist Timo Kotipelto brings in some amazing vocals in here, especially in the heart-felt verses. Keyboardist Jens Johansson – one of my all-time favorites – brings in the first really amazing solo on the album at 3:00 – 3:56 until he also brings some beautiful piano melodies when the song moves into a bridge. I was previously disappointed with some of the songs lacking a proper bridge (especially ”Lifetime in a Moment” which ended all too soon), but this kind of makes up for it.

8. Event Horizon (4:24)

Wow! This song kicks off wonderfully well with some strange noices and voices moving into a neo-classical keyboard section before the first verse. And you know what I said about the lack of good solos? I take it all back. This song is filled with great riffs and solos, even though the vocal sections (on first listen) don’t sound that extraordinary. This is definitely a live song, and I can’t wait to see this live in the future.

9. Elysium (18:14)

Basic summary: This song is pretty damn awesome. It is epic and emotional and everything one could want from an 18-minute track from a technical and wonderful band like Stratovarius. It contains three different choruses, all extremely good, and it has some wonderful riffing, solos, picking and vocal melodies, with all instrumentalists as well as vocalist Timo Kotipelto on the top of their trade. I wrote down my thoughts while listening to it the first time, and you can see them here below.

[00:00] The big album epic… I was really looking forward to this. Stratovarius generally bring great longer tracks (many bands do, the longer tracks works good for great composers who need longer time to fully achieve their dream), and I’m pretty sure this is their longest yet – popular bands in general don’t deliver tracks above the 12-minute mark or so, with a few exceptions.

[01:06] The track starts out promising with keyboards and some full band work before being joined by a choir. Nice and epic.

[04:00] The song works into a verse with Kotipelto’s agonised vocals, and then moves into a chorus, a cool mixture of guitar riffing, bass lines, keyboard picking and some guitar melody. Then comes a guitar / keyboard battle solo, and it’s a quite nice one. Why did they save all good solos for the final three songs?

[06:01] The chorus returns a second time, before the song falls into a strange mid-section with cool effects, slow drums and some guitar riffing, moving into a heavier section.

[07:48] Drums and bass lines are joined by Kotipelto’s vocals, and it moves into some new chorus before a guitar solo kicks off, and he repeats the verse.

[11:00] Another great guitar solo! The chorus really starts making an impression the second (or is it the third?) time around, and I realise how emotional the song is on a deeper level.

[13:32] The song moves into a section like its introduction, and it really sits well after the chorus. Kotipelto’s voice works extremely well in with the instruments, and its more varied and emotional than, dare I say, ever before.

[16:52] An instrumental, semi-techno section comes and brings the song up even further, before a choir kicks in and with it kicks some serious ass, followed by the solo. I’m somehow reminded by one of my absolute favorite Strato songs, ”Mother Gaia”, but I can’t tell why. The song then moves into repeated chorus originating in the acoustic section (see 13:32) and it works oh so well. As always, I don’t listen much to the lyrics on first listen, but as soon as I get the actual album and not the Spotify version in my hands I will surely listen through it again with the booklet in my hands.

[18:13] And it ends.

Yuletide greetings

Yuletide greetings from me! So far I got an Agalloch CD, a puzzle fr0m Alchemy Gothic, a Futurama / The Simpsons crossover comic book, coffee, a Firefly-shirt (or, I have been promised one that hasn’t arrived yet) and new headphones. And it’s only 11 in the morning! Though still, everyone know that deep within, the presents aren’t the core of Yuletide. Their monetary value is.

And in the midst of terribly cheesy Christmas / Yuletide music, remember that there’s always some of the great old classics, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and those super heavy mega cool heavy metal dudes.

Selected Googlings of late

”det blir svårt att köpa mjölk”
”sleep is an illusion”
dungeons n dragons vampire
”how old do diatoms get”
is a line of deathless kings about vampires
nosferatu
prince of persia sands of time tutorial
sad animation
simpsons strangulation
the vampyre
vampire
starcraft cd key

Why all the vampires?

Quote of the Day XV

”Hey, it’s destroying all the other toys! Why is it doing that?!”
”It must have been programmed to it?”
”What, you mean like Microsoft?”

– Bart and Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons)

The Twilight Zone

I have heard a lot of the original ”The Twilight Zone” series, running from 1959 – 1964, and I finally downloaded it entirely (24,1 GB, gah) yesterday and watched the first episode (”Where is Everybody”), and it was great.

The Twilight Zone

 The Twilight Zone was a series of  free-standing episodes of horror, fantasy and science-fiction, and lots of the episodes are afterwards copied by film directors, authors etcetera, and are referenced for example by The Simpsons (where I actually heard of the show at first).What I love about my family is how I’ve been raised with all these classic films, shows, comics, etcetera; my mother has renewed on a monthly Donald Duck comic since the late 1960’s and still renews on it (although at first it was in her father’s name while she lived there, and now it’s in her name while she lives here), and she’s learned me to love the Monty Python gang, and movies from the 1970’s and 1980’s, such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Back to the Future etcetera. Thus, I’m surprised my mother hasn’t even mentioned The Twilight Zone earlier. However, when I first told her that I had downloaded and watched it, her respons was that she was happy for me, since it’s among the greatest series ever, that she followed when she was younger (even though it ended a year before her birth it started airing in Sweden several years later).Anyway, a great show, recommended to EVERYONE! Watch it! 

 * * * * * * *seven stars

Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007)

”Ah! A bomb!””Stop screaming! That’s exactly what the bomb wants us to do!” 

Bender’s Big ScoreEver since I first saw the Futurama animated TV series as they aired on Swedish TV in the first half of the 00’s, I’ve loved the shows. As Matt Groening more or less created a new genre of animated sitcoms for adults with The Simpsons, no-one believed that other shows could follow without plagiarizing, and shows like Family Guy and American Dad was the perfect example of this. But then Futurama came, from the pen of Matt Groening himself, and it managed to follow in this great genre without any trace of plagiarizing. I’ve watched each Futurama episode at least three times, and I own seasons 3-4 on DVD. And every day I have cursed Fox for shutting the show down after its fourth season. So when they decided to produce a brand new direct-to-DVD-film and released it in November 2007, there was no question whether to buy it.The main story of the film is simple, and could easily just have been a normal episode (about 23 minutes) instead of a feature film at 1:25 hours, but as the story folds out and goes back to seemingly all the previous episodes, including for example the famous pilot, the Globe Trotters episode (The Time Keeps Slipping), and the one in which Fry tries cloning his 1000 years old pet (Jurassic Bark). The Planet Express crew as well as entire Earth falls for Internet spam by nudists of a nude beach planet, and gives away all their belongings, including Bender as he while downloading porn happens to download a virus making him their eternal slave. While having to work for the nudists, they realise that Fry has a tattoe of Bender on his butt, including a code that makes it possible to travel back in time – something the nudists starts to use to steal all famous objects until they own the entire universe.Meanwhile, Leela starts seeing Carl, a handsome man who she realises is the love of her life. They are to be married, but after he leaves her by the altar (after the decapitation of Hermes), the story starts unfolding with a surprising twist and sad story when Fry travels back in time as he can’t find happiness in the future.

Futurama

A really complicated story, but everything folds out perfect and most of it actually makes sense. Even though some things are quite hard to understand, and some things are quite cheap; for example Bender has to leave a place for a time, and to create this situation the writers have put in that he had to go to the bathroom. As Bender is a robot, they put in the line ”damn, for the first time ever I have to go to the bathroom!”.It’s quite cool to see how Futurama always – ALWAYS – manages to create so many original jokes, smarter and bigger ones as well as the minor texts they put in the background and so on. For example, on a phonebook Bender reads in the 21th century the cover says ”now with 20 % more Josés!”, and while flipping through the book there are lots of names ending with José. Such things are so simple yet wonderful for the die hard fans watching the show over and over again – such details help making Futurama one of the best shows ever.The film also included unusually many ”dirty” jokes (sex, naked, etcetera), especially cheap but still great ones such as ”I’ve wiped Fry’s butt clean.” / ”We’ll see about that!” and ”Hm, okay, you’re clean. I meant that metaphorically!”. I would presume it was easier to put in dirtier jokes in a direct-to-video than in a TV series on Fox.And as always, Futurama has a great choice of music, especially in the part when Fry goes back to the 21th century. But I really hate the music in the scenes where they try their best to say ”this is a film, not a TV series”. It destroys all the feelings in the film.And cartoon characters really should stop saying ”things can’t any worse now”

 ******six stars