Feb 06

The Divisive Albums Podcast Episode 3: Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk

The third episode of The Divisive Albums Podcast, where I discuss the follow-up to one of the most successful albums in history: Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 double album, Tusk!

The episode comes with the following SHOW NOTES!

0:00: Intro and Theme Song
0:25: About me, and announcing I’ll be begging for money in about 20 minutes.
0:50: Introducing our band: Fleetwood Mac!
1:35: Fleetwood Mac’s lineup circa 1975 and their first wave of U.S. success in 1975-1976.
3:06: Then Fleetwood Mac blow everything up personally…
3:45: …while riding to unprecedented success with the album Rumours.
4:18: Some of the albums that sold comparatively to Rumours
4:47: Even more on how big Rumours was in 1977-1978
5:02: But how do you follow up a megahit?
5:32: With enough songs for TWO ALBUMS!!
5:38: You may be getting deja vu right about now.
6:00: Finally introducing the album: 1979’s Tusk!
6:17: Discussing how the album opens with Christine McVie’s “Over and Over”, which breaks with the formula from previous albums.
6:52: An excerpt from “Over and Over” and discussion on it.
7:40: An excerpt from and discussion of “The Ledge”, Lindsey Buckingham’s first contribution.
8:17: On what post-punk is, and more “The Ledge” discussion.
8:59: Another excerpt from “The Ledge”, highlighting some of the experimentation Fleetwood Mac did in the studio.
9:24: An excerpt from and discussion of “Save Me A Place”.
10:08: Discussion of “Sara”, the first Stevie Nicks song on the album.
10:33: On the album’s (Relatively short, for a double album anyway) length.
11:18: An excerpt from “Sara”.
11:45: On Stevie Nicks’s songs on this album, and how “typical” they are.
12:05: An excerpt from and discussion of “Sisters of the Moon”.
12:57: Discussing Christine McVie’s songs, including “Brown Eyes”.
13:15: An excerpt from “Brown Eyes”.
13:37: On whose album Tusk actually is, and the irony of its reputation versus what’s actually on it.
14:26: Introducing “That’s Enough For Me”, where Lindsey Buckingham goes to a country bar.
15:17: More on the ethos behind the album as a whole.
16:01: An excerpt from and brief discussion of “What Makes You Think You’re The One”.
16:38: Discussion of and an excerpt from “That’s All For Everyone”, where the band employ harmony in a new (For them) way.
17:25: Discussion of and an excerpt from “I Know I’m Not Wrong”, with its uncanny valley synth sound.
18:27: The album’s main event! Its title track, “Tusk”.
18:55: How about a drum solo with your title track?
19:33: AN UNPRECEDENTED DIVISIVE ALBUMS PODCAST EVENT! A THIRD excerpt from “Tusk”, this time featuring the USC Marching Band!
20:06: I love this song!
20:18: The song was a hit single!
20:45: The album’s closer, “Never Forget”, and discussion of it.
21:30: How well did Tusk sell? Featuring a digression into Atari 2600 sales figures.
22:29: Finally discussing the actual sales of Tusk.
23:09: Lindsey Buckingham’s defense of his musical baby.
24:43: A brief summary of what happened to Fleetwood Mac post-Tusk (They kept right on making hits, and are still around through some ups and downs!).
25:40: What do I think of Tusk as an album?
26:34: Outro, Social Media, and a brief explanation of Patreon. Twitter, Website, Discord, Patreon

Other Links:
An interview with Lindsey Buckingham from USC in 2015. Long, but fascinating, featuring several performances and covering Buckingham’s entire career. If you’re only interested in the Tusk-centric portion, they begin discussing it at about 41:30.

Embedded Podcast Listen:

Feb 06

The Divisive Albums Podcast Episode 2: Stabbing Westward’s Self-Titled Album

The second episode of The Divisive Albums Podcast, where I discuss an album by a band a lot of people forgot about: Stabbing Westward, and their 2001 self-titled album!

In the episode, I discuss the following. SHOW NOTES!

0:00: Intro and Theme Song
0:22: About me, and introducing our band: Stabbing Westward!
0:51: Announcing we’re trying something new this episode. Kind of.
1:18: Stabbing Westward’s beginning, and a clip from “Ungod”, the title track from their first album.
1:49: On the similarity between “Ungod” and Filter’s “Hey Man Nice Shot”.
2:39: Stabbing Westward’s breakthrough: “What Do I Have To Do?” from 1996’s Wither, Blister Burn & Peel.
3:30: Shoutouts to my Connecticon Karaoke friends, and DJ Stephanie Stardust!
3:57: Discussion of the band’s 1998’s Darkest Days album, and its biggest hit, “Save Yourself”
4:54: A brief digression that I use The RIAA Website
5:11: Disaster strikes Stabbing Westward, and they downgrade to an independent record label.
5:30: Noting this is my first “personal” Divisive Albums Podcast, since I actually remember the album coming out.
6:05: Finally introducing the album: Stabbing Westward’s self-titled fourth album!
6:22: An excerpt from and discussion of the song “So Far Away”, the album’s lead (And only) single.
7:06: An excerpt from and discussion of the song “Perfect”, which is…rather acoustic.
7:49: Comparing this album to another, more famous self-titled album: Metallica’s 1991 “Black Album”.
8:10: Delving into “Perfect”‘s lyrical similarities to “Desperate Now”, a Darkest Days track
8:38: The utter tease that is the start of “I Remember”.
9:19: Another excerpt from “I Remember”, and discussing how I actually remember this song from my only listen of this album many years ago.
10:07: Discussion of and an excerpt from “Wasted”, a song that’s a bit more traditionally Stabbing Westward.
10:53: Discussion of Stabbing Westward’s lyrical variety…or lack thereof.
11:44: An excerpt from and discussion of the album’s last track, “Television”, which I like.
12:44: An excerpt from “High”, another more “traditional” Stabbing Westward track.
13:16: Discussing “High”‘s lyrics and how they subtly differ from most of the band’s catalog.
13:44: On Stabbing Westward’s inability to come up with original song titles for this album.
14:22: An excerpt from the song “Happy”.
14:53: My thoughts on the song “Happy”.
15:19: What I think of the album as a whole (Well, it’s half good…).
15:55: And how the album did in the marketplace (It tanked basically everywhere).
16:07: On Stabbing Westward’s brief tour for the album, and eventual breakup.
16:36: But hey, the album did okay in Australia!
16:57: Discussion how one person at Koch Records wanted this to be Stabbing Westward’s Black Album, and what happened when that didn’t happen.
17:54: A digression into what SoundScan is, inspired by the bajillions of copies Metallica’s Black Album has sold.
18:48: Discussion of what Christopher Hall did post-Stabbing Westward.
18:56: Noting Stabbing Westward reunited and are back on tour!
19:08: Final thoughts on the album.
19:31: Outro and social media: Twitter, Website, Discord

Other links:
A 2008 interview with singer Christopher Hall
Another interview with Hall from October 2018
Stabbing Westward’s performance on The Jon Stewart Show from September 1994

Feb 06

The Divisive Albums Podcast Episode 1: Dream Theater’s Falling Into Infinity

The first “proper” episode of The Divisive Albums Podcast, where I discuss an album by a band who are inherently pretty divisive: Dream Theater, and their 1997 album Falling Into Infinity!

In the episode, I discuss the following. SHOW NOTES!

0:00: Intro and About Me
0:26: Introducing our band: Dream Theater!
0:30: Who are Dream Theater, and what do they sound like?
1:31: Who are some bands you’d very broadly compare to Dream Theater?
1:54: How did Dream Theater first come into the public eye?
2:38: A digression on the technical definition of a “hit song” in the US.
3:27: On why I digressed, and how Dream Theater’s newfound fame affected them.
4:14: Discussion of the immediate followup, 1994’s Awake, and how the label rushed Dream Theater to release it.
4:35: Briefly discussing 1995’s “EP”, A Change of Seasons
4:50: Introducing the album: Falling Into Infinity! Also discussing the immediate circumstances around the album’s creation.
5:20: “New Millennium” excerpt #1.
6:08: “New Millennium” excerpt #2 and a lesson on time signatures.
7:04: Discussing the length of the album and its songs.
8:20: More song/album length discussion, and how the length compares to typical Dream Theater output (And answering why “EP” from earlier in the notes is in quotes).
8:55: Introducing the record company’s “ringer” to help Dream Theater get a hit: 80s and 90s hitmaker Desmond Child!
9:25: Excerpt from “You Not Me”, a song Child has co-writing credit on.
9:47: “You Not Me” excerpt #2, and discussing drummer Mike Portnoy’s pathological need to demonstrate his drumming prowess whenever he can.
10:50: My opinion of the song, and wondering why this wasn’t the lead single from the album.
11:36: Discussion of “Burning My Soul”, comparing it to “Pull Me Under”, and an excerpt from it.
12:40: Introducing an excerpt from the actual lead single: “Hollow Years”.
13:10: Thoughts on “Hollow Years”
14:02: An excerpt from and discussion of “Lines in the Sand”, one of the more prog songs on the album.
14:33: How Dream Theater could have made “Lines in the Sand” work as a single.
15:02: Discussing some of the record company shenanigans pulled with Falling Into Infinity.
15:35: Introducing and playing an excerpt from “Just Let Me Breathe”, or “Dream Theater Throw A Temper Tantrum At Their Record Label”
16:05: Elaborating a bit on what I mean by “Dream Theater Throw A Temper Tantrum At Their Record Label”.
16:35: How the album did sales-wise.
17:04: And what I think of the contemporary opinion of the album.
17:40: Acknowledging that Dream Theater probably shouldn’t have gone in the direction they did, even if I like most of the result.
18:11: What happened next for Dream Theater?
18:41: How I first discovered Dream Theater.
19:18: How Dream Theater are doing now.
19:51: Final thoughts on Falling Into Infinity.
20:15: Outro and social media: Twitter, Website, Discord

Feb 06

The Divisive Albums Podcast Episode -1: Def Leppard’s Slang

The “pre-pilot” episode of the Divisive Albums Podcast, which I did mainly to test out a few things. The first was whether the concept would hold my interest long enough to warrant my wanting to do future episodes. The second was whether I was good enough and entertaining enough that people would actually want to listen.

In the episode, I discuss the following. SHOW NOTES!

0:00: Intro and what the podcast is about
0:41: About me and my musical tastes, which will influence what’s selected for future episodes
1:17: Introducing our band: Def Leppard!
1:22: Who are Def Leppard, and how big are/were they? (Answer: Absolutely HUGE in the 80s)
2:55: What were the circumstances around Def Leppard’s divisive album? (Answer: Def Leppard were really REALLY uncool by the mid-90s. They were also sick of “being Def Leppard” recording-wise)
4:25: We finally name the album: 1996’s Slang!
4:55: A brief discussion of Def Leppard’s pre-megafame albums, and what I expected out of this album.
5:25: “Truth?” excerpt and thoughts
6:03: “Slang” introduction, excerpt, and thoughts
7:01: Discussing the lyrics on the album as a whole, which are “darker” than typical Def Leppard
7:20: Excerpts from “Gift of Flesh” and “Pearl of Euphoria”, showing some more of the 90s industrial influence
8:20: Discussing the sound of the album as a whole and how Def Leppard put what they’re influenced by in their songs.
8:59: Excerpts from the “Life Is a Highway”-esque “Work It Out” and the 90s R&B imitation “Breathe a Sigh”
9:55: Discussion about how the album sounds like Def Leppard playing at being Everything But Def Leppard for an album
10:20: The album’s chart performance (It was not good relative to previous Def Leppard albums in the US, though it did better overseas)
10:40: So how IS this album (Answer: Actually pretty good, though also different enough from their established sound that it likely would’ve derailed them even if grunge/alternative rock hadn’t rendered them persona non grata in the mid-90s)
11:08: Where to buy the album, and discussion on bonus tracks in the Deluxe Edition of the album
11:54: Outro and social media: Twitter, Website, Discord

Aug 14

Podcasteye

Boy I jump from project to project, don’t I?

This was initially a post for The Divisive Albums Podcast. I’ve moved that here, so go check it out.

Also, join The Empty Nest Discord!

May 06

Artistic-Eye

About a month ago, I bought a Wacom tablet to use with the Humble Bob Ross Bundle from mid-March. I’ve been enjoying it, and have been trying to use it to, well, draw stuff each day. This will be a repository for that art. You can click on any of the links below to see the picture itself.

18-001: Shoutout to Twitch Chat
18-002: A Walk at Night
18-003: Bowling Time! (You may not want to view this one at work, though it’s not pornographic by any means)
18-004: A Clash of Seasons
18-005: Island on the Rocks
18-006: Magic Lesson
18-007: Petrified Forest
18-008: Water Water Everywhere

-EE

Mar 28

A Time of Transition

I began writing this on March 27, 2018 at about 8 PM.

My previous laptop sounded like a swarm of bees toward the end of its life. I tried fixing it, and the end result was a laptop that sounded like a swarm of bees and would sometimes blue screen and fail to boot up when it restarted. Needless to say, this isn’t good. So I’m currently writing this on my previous/”chat” laptop from my streaming days, while watching a Twitch stream on my Kindle and using Discord on my cell phone. It’s an interesting existence.

As I sit in transition between two laptops, it seems like a good time to take stock of my leisure activities/passions, and see where I want to go with them from here.

A sort of open question in my head is “Do I want to resume streaming sometime? If so, streaming what, and where?” The last part of the second question isn’t as obvious as it seems. Despite my affiliate status on Twitch, I’d basically be starting over at this point, and from the outside, the way Twitch has been run of late has me considering alternatives to it. Mixer appears to be the main potential competitor at the moment, what with hitbox getting bought out and turned into Smashcast. The big thing now for that would be finding the time, as well as the motivation to basically re-build everything.

If I decide to do so, the other question is “What kind of stream would I want it to be?” Someone on Twitter mentioned doing a parody account called “Dr. Respect”, and I actually like that idea on some level. My spin on it, though, would basically be me playing games while reciting some of the self-help stuff I found most useful (I’m partial to Jim Rohn if I had to pick just one “self-help guru”, even if I think he places a little too much faith in capitalism as a meritocracy), and seeing if it helps other people too. I’m not exactly sure what I would play, if I would resume doing a variety of RPGs or try something else (Presumably, I’ll be able to play/stream PC games that are a bit more modern than, I don’t know, Diablo II).

And the time issue is especially a concern since I’ve been continuing to slowly chip away at various self-help books, and working two jobs. I recently finished The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and am working my way through Tribe of Mentors and Extreme Ownership simultaneously. I’m enjoying both, though I think I prefer Tools of Titans to Tribe of Mentors thus far. As for Extreme Ownership, I’m already taking some nice pointers and sayings from it, despite only being about 20% through it.

Another thing I’m trying to do in my spare time is learn Spanish. I figure this is a skill that’s only going to get more useful as time goes on, both in-person and online. Something interesting I learned recently is that “Spanish Youtube” is absolutely huge. Plus, with the Internet being the global entity it is, the more people I can communicate with online, the better.

Lastly, I’ve still been going to the gym, and I’m within about two pounds of my goal weight this time around, which is awesome. It’ll be difficult to hold that over the next couple weeks–I’m a bit under the weather, and I’ll be going to visit some friends next weekend–but I’m hopeful I don’t fall off the wagon too much in that timeframe.

In all, the next little while will be interesting, depending on what I decide to put my energy into.

-EE

Mar 18

Book Review- What Your Boss Really Wants From You by Steve Arneson

What Your Boss Really Wants From You: 15 Insights to Improve Your Relationship sounds like a bit of a “magic formula” book from the title. On the other hand, who doesn’t want a better relationship with their boss?

I’ve read a small number of the Win at Work Bundle books now–this one is my fourth–as well as Tools of Titans. I’ve also listened to a number of speeches/seminars from Tony Robbins, the late Jim Rohn, Les Brown, and some others. And one common theme in a lot of this self-help material is that “self-help” starts with “self”. The idea is that you don’t control a lot of your circumstances, but neither are you a victim of them–you can control your response to them.

What Your Boss Really Wants From You is no different. One of its central points is “Look, don’t expect your boss to change. Instead, change your style to maximize your relationship with him or her.” (The book, to its credit, takes a unique path in making the “boss” male in the first part, female in the second part, and alternating genders in the third part)

In terms of the actual content, the book asks you to ask yourself fifteen questions regarding your boss, and try to figure out the answers. Part one deals with the first set of questions, which revolve around your boss themselves–how do they manage? What are they worried about? Where’s their sphere of influence? These are just some of the questions the book asks you to figure out the answers to. And if you’ve never thought about them before, they’re a solid starting point–to have a good relationship with your boss, it helps to consider them within the context of the company as a whole. The second part involves thinking about how your boss views you–your strengths and weaknesses, and their history with you. The third part gets back to the previous paragraph, and can basically be summed up as “Change your attitude to change your relationship with your boss”.

The good news is that the book provides example to show that taking responsibility for the relationship really can work. Almost every chapter includes a story or two that Arneson relates to whatever is being discussed, and the end of each chapter comes with a recap and insights to take away from it.

The other good news about the book is that it’s short. This sounds more like a slam than I intend it to be–the content isn’t bad by any means, although it may not be for you if your goal is to change your boss without having to do any work to change yourself. But the book is under 100 pages in PDF form–you can read it on a night off, or certainly within a weekend. It’s good that the book doesn’t wear out its welcome or endlessly repeat two or three key points for hundreds of pages.

The downside to this is that, while the content is good, and I don’t mind the occasional short book among the twenty I bought in the humble Win at Work Bundle, I’m not sure it’s worth $10 on its own. The content-per-dollar-spent ratio just isn’t very high, especially as compared with something like Tools of Titans.

-EE

Feb 25

Book Review- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Tools of Titans is the fourth book by Tim Ferriss. More accurately, though, while Ferriss authors some interludes about various aspects of life that are sprinkled throughout the book, his main role here is as a collector and curator of the “greatest hits” from various interviews he’s conducted, some of which were episodes of his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show (Which I recommend listening to, incidentally).

The book’s full title is “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers”, and Ferriss interviewed over 110 hugely successful people from all walks of life in it. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Who also wrote the foreword, which you can read here), Peter Thiel, Alexis Ohanian, Tony Robbins, Amanda Palmer, and Scott Adams are just some of the people whose insights Ferriss mined for Tools of Titans. His purpose in doing this was to, in his words, “tease out” various nuggets of wisdom, routines, unusual habits, etc. that these world-class performers use–essentially, to find out what makes them tick.

Ferriss notes in the Intro (Also available for free) that the book is set up like a buffet of sorts, where you can read the interviews and sections you’re interested in, and skip what doesn’t appeal to you (He does recommend going back and at least glancing over what you skipped, and asking yourself why you did so). I actually elected to read the book cover-to-cover, and learned a few things in the process. First, there’s no one magic path to world-class performance. Some of the interview subjects contradict one another, and Ferriss noted in the intro that, in giving feedback for the book, the parts some people felt were essential to keep were the parts other people would have cut. Secondly, though, there were some common patterns that emerged. A number of the interviewees mentioned meditation as an essential component of their day, for instance.

In between the interviews, Ferriss intersperses short articles on topics ranging from The Slow-Carb Diet, to Fear-Setting, to “Productivity” tricks (His quotes, not mine). Some of the sections are more directly applicable to “the average Joe” than others–I’m not about to use the Slow-Carb Diet chapter, for instance, but I did enjoy the “Testing the Impossible: 17 Questions That Changed My Life” one–but the breadth of what’s covered is such that you’re likely to get something out of one of the interludes.

Even the interviews with people who come from fields utterly irrelevant to me were pretty fascinating, in particular one with Martin Polanco and Dan Engle on the use of iboga/ibogaine (A psychedelic drug) to treat opiate addictions. Martin and Dan both reserve its use for addicts so far gone that they’re likely to die from either their addiction or drug-related violence soon. Why? Because iboga can be fatal in itself for roughly 1 out of 300 people.

As with most “self-improvement” books, I went into this looking for one concept or quote I could apply to my life. And I got one, from retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. The quote was “If you want to be tougher, then be tougher!” It’s a reminder that you control a lot more than you think you do, and sometimes it’s your own fault if things aren’t going the way you think they should.

In all, I’d highly recommend Tools of Titans. Besides picking up some concepts and tricks to try in my own daily life, I was also entertained by all the interviews and anecdotes. Even if you’re not into self-improvement, you’ll probably find something to enjoy story-wise or anecdote-wise that will make the book worth it.

-EE

Feb 15

State of the Emptyeye- February 2018

It’s been about two months since my last personal update about trying to improve myself. How have I done since then? Here we go!

Physical Fitness: After a bit of fluctuation, I’m down another three pounds, to 150 even as of the last time I weighed myself (Monday morning). I struggled with this a bit, with New England weather combining with my work schedule to knock me off the gym train for a bit (The New Year’s Resolution Crush making it so I could barely find parking at the gym after work didn’t help either). But I’m back to 4 times a week now, and indeed, got back from the gym about an hour ago as I’m writing this. I’ll put some pictures at the bottom of this. I’m not sure you can really see the progress from them, but trust me, I’m slimmer and feel better than four months ago.

The drinking-less-soda thing…has not gone well of late, though I’m doing a bit better with it the last couple weeks. Since I started tracking my diet soda consumption, I’m at about 9 per week overall (Worse than two months ago, though still an improvement from when my doctor first told me to stop drinking so much), with an even 10.5 per week over the last month (1.5 cans/day). Part of this was due to work stuff, which I’ll get into in the next section. But suffice to say that it was stressful for awhile, which caused me to not care so much what I was drinking. I’ve taken to drinking a lot more decaf coffee over the last couple months, but I want to rein that in as well.

General Betterment: This is actually going quite well. For one, I’ve stepped up a bit at my primary job, which hasn’t gone unnoticed. I’m trying to keep that up by volunteering to take over supporting some applications, and indeed, I was forced into quickly becoming an expert on one particular application thanks to a vendor change that shouldn’t have gone into production but did. Everyone seems to agree that I did pretty well in handling that, though I’m not sure that I actually did.

In addition, I’ve continued reading various self-improvement books, and have also been listening to stuff from Youtube while I work (Primarily Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn–the latter in particular has a grandfather-like quality to his voice that’s simultaneously relaxing and motivating). It sounds weird, but it really is helping, and I’ve started trying various tricks and techniques to be more productive around the condo and away from work as well.

Weaning Myself Off of Twitch: Well, considering I’m listening to Lord BBH as I write this… Related to the previous paragraph, though, one thing I’m finding is that I can step away from my computer post-work a bit more easily, thanks in part to basically tricking myself into doing so. Essentially, if I have something productive I need to do around the condo, I set an alarm on my phone to force myself to get up and do it for an hour or so. It’s weird, maybe a little childish…but it works, and I find I even start on the task before the alarm actually goes off (In part because it’s better than “dreading” the alarm going off).

General Creative Stuff: I’ve made more posts here of late. That counts for something, right? OoB Glitchless is something I do want to get back to, so I wonder if I can use my “force myself to be productive” trick toward that end. I’ll have to try it sometime.

-EE