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February 1, 2003

Apple Venus (Volume One) - XTC

I don't know how to review music, so bear with me, here.

I don't care for music. This is strange in someone like myself, who thinks in music. I can usually tell someone I know from their voice far before I recognize their face or name. (This always amuses the kids when comparing voice actors from various cartoons.) I'm just not into music. On the other hand, I end up getting really opinionated about it at times.

Just ask my girlfriend. On second thought, don't. I'd like to keep some of my reputation intact.

So, XTC. You've probably heard one or two of their songs. You probably haven't seen them in concert. Spinner calls them, the great lost pop band. No, their name isn't in reference to methylenedioxy-n-methylamphetamine. Now you know about as much as I knew about them when I started coveting my ex-boyfriend's Skylarking CD. (He eventually broke down and got me a copy on the cheap. He was such a sweetie.) I own a handful of the albums, including an extra copy (luckily: one seems to have wandered away) of Oranges and Lemons. The whole family knows not to mess with my XTC cds.

I am really hesitant buying new music, but some kind blogging soul whom I cannot remember offered the mp3 of "Green Man" off this album, and I was hooked. I mean, totally. I didn't even agree with the lyrics, but it was fairly addictive. (By the way, record executives: Nyah. I don't know who you're talking to, but I absolutely buy music because I've gotten a free sample.)

So I bought a copy off of Amazon. I always feel so naughty just up and buying something for myself... I mean, I don't mind buying gifts I'll end up sharing (like 4th Edition Talislanta) but something for ME?

I think my husband, in the short time I've had this CD, knows it by heart. Which isn't a bad thing, especially because the songs are so different that you CAN listen to them several times in a row. I happen to have a preferred playlist, of course, skipping over a few that I like a little less, but... there isn't anything on here that I just dislike.

The orchestra makes a difference: it makes it sound more mature. The lyrics are still relating literally to the human condition. (I also buy Seal albums for the same reason. Well, and because I have him confused with the angel Eli from In Nomine, but that's another story altogether.) It's almost always a disappointment to hear where the lyrics come from, because listening to the music gives the brain such an epic view of the meaning. That's why I like music more than, say, poetry, given that each person finds their own meaning. Poetry seems personal, music seems shared.

"See the Greenman blow his kiss from high church wall
And unknowing church will amplify his call..."

Then just two songs later...

"And when I say I can't own her
I don't mean to buy her
It's nothing at all to do with money
I simply want her in my arms forever more.
Is that an odd request?
Is that something so funny?"

Tempered with love lost, levity maintained, and sanity gained by the tending of fruit, this wouldn't be a bad album to start your XTC collection.

Posted by Meera at 2:05 AM | Comments (1)

Pokemon Battle Stadium 2 for Nintendo 64

When we started, I knew who Pikachu was. I had seen a couple episodes of the Johto Journey.

When we ended, I wanted my own Misdreavous. Maybe a Crobat. Heck, I would have settled for a Houndoom. I can do the Jynx wiggle.

The Pokemon craze is basically over, which is kind of a relief. After all, now I don't have the Barbarian and Chatterbox running around on the floor pretending to be different kinds of Pokemon in the House Habitat. On the other hand, the days of my chanting, "Office Coordinator, Office Coordinator" are also done. Now I have to stick to "Pervert," which probably evolves to "DirtyOldManoman." Or something of the sort.

We rented the Pokemon Battle Stadium (2) because it allowed four players, and we were getting tired of Smash Bros. We didn't have any expansion packs or memory, so I don't know how any evolving or special expansion-only abilities work. On the other hand, even if you can't battle your own Pokemon to a ridiculously high level, you can "rent" basic Pokemon for battles.

The major attraction, of course, are the battles. There are a variety of types, different because of choices of creature levels, players, style of tournament, and stadium choices. You can play against friends or the computer. There's also a battle collection where you play a number of preprepared battles against the computer, attempting to win to the "next level."

You also have a variety of "mini-games" involving various Pokemon at their everyday tasks.

See, you remember the old AD&D world, where you actually had a creature evolve to look like an executioner's hood in order to feed on people? Not to mention the whole dungeon ecology question? The Pokemon world is that taken to a serious level.

Big bug creatures with razor-sharp claws and horns cut trees. Birds with powers deriving from the element of fire can help in the forges. Of course, most people only have one Pokemon (the advantage to trying to become a "Master" being access to your own menagerie.)

There is a wonderful set of "lessons" on Pokemon strategy included, which teaches a great deal about the Pokemon world as well as how to work the choosing of Pokemon in your fights to your advantage. You have to use the lessons in battles, but after having done so, I won more battles against my better-informed little sister opponents.

We easily wasted the better part of a week on the game. That's a recommendation. While you can defeat the preplanned theme battles and minigames fairly easily, great fun can be had afterwards just fighting your friends. (We liked to make our own themes. "Tiny creatures" versus "huge creatures." "Creatures beginning with the letter 'S'." "Only psychic Pokemon.")

When I can find it for sale, it's a definite buy.

Posted by Meera at 12:29 AM | Comments (2)