"His voice betrayed a craving for terrible things." -- Don DeLillo

"Shadows present, foreshadowing deeper shadows to come." -- Herman Melville

Send all adoration/vitriol to marc@shadowbloom.com

The Beginning -- 2006 Updates -- Part One

February 1, 2006

Welcome to the first post on the new www.shadowbloom.com! I've finally moved on from the clutches of Comcast and now have a nice new home here. This is just the beginning. Some cosmetic and organizational changes are also in the works and will hopefully be ready before too long. Content-wise, I just posted in the Journal my thoughts on James Frey-gate. My Academy Awards predictions will be coming shortly and by the end of the month, my Best of 2005 Awards will be ready (I'm still making my way through some of the movies/video games that came out at the very end of the year). Enjoy!

Songs of the Moment: "Nu Rock" and "Televisor" by Morningwood.
Another band I learned of thanks to Burnout Revenge (you'll read about the other one in the Best of 2005), Morningwood is a blast of pop-rock fun. Besides having a great band name (especially for a female-fronted band), they've got infectious hooks and sexiness to spare. They're not going to revolutionize rock music, but I'll settle for an RBI double instead of a home run.

February 10, 2006

Academy Awards 2006 Predictions are now up, so your enlightenment is now at hand.

Song of the Moment: "Blame" by BT.
Heard this last week on Drexel's awesome student-radio station WKDU, one of the few places to actually hear electronic/trance/weird/etc. music (too bad the signal doesn't even make it all the way to my apartment). BT's known more for his dancier tracks, but "Blame" shows he can write verse-chorus-verse rock with the best of them (tangent: one of the best concerts I've ever been to was BT with Hooverphonic opening).

March 30, 2006

Finally, at last, the Best of 2005 Awards are ready to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Took longer than I wanted to get them ready, but the damn thing keeps getting longer every year. Settle in and enjoy.

The Philadelphia Film Festival begins tonight and I'm hoping to keep updates coming steadily this year. Before that insanity begins, I wanted to toss out a few things that slipped through the cracks while I was working on the Awards.

From the Department of "You Should Have Seen This Coming"
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made a very comfortable living mocking just about every institution on the planet, but while most of it is business-as-usual, I think they reserve their most excoriating hatred towards two in particular: the MPAA and Scientology. So you knew that all this shit with Isaac Hayes was going to end very badly. So, if you were ever wondering what would happen if someone outright quit the show with no warning, trashed its "offensive" humor on the way out, and it was all because of Scientology, well, in the March 22nd season premiere, you got your answer. And it ain't pretty. The line has been drawn in the sand, Scientologists.

Palau Can Kiss My Ass
This won't mean anything to anyone (except my girlfriend, who gets just as pissed off about this, so a wink and nod to her), but it has to be said. You know when you're filling out your address on some online form, there's often a pull-down menu where you can choose your state. Living in Pennsylvania, I've become accustomed to just hitting "p" and right there is my lovely state. Except when some smartass decides that fucking Palau belongs on that list and pushes PA down a spot. C'mon now, how many people live in Palau? 15? 20? And how many of them are surfing the web regularly? Maybe 5? I don't think that qualifies them for the pull-down menu. When your "country" has more residents than some backwater town in North Dakota, maybe I'll listen to arguments, but until then, Palau is dead to me.

While I'm on the subject, since New Yorkers are generally arrogant and egotistical about every aspect of their little city and state, don't you think it must be driving some of them crazy that New York appears at the very bottom of the N's on these pull-downs. I mean, you have to scroll through Nebraska, New Hampshire, even (and this is the worst part) New Jersey before you get to New York. Makes my Palau problem look like nothing in comparison. I'm surprised no one in the state legislature has proposed a law that says that in all online pull-down menus, New York must be officially listed as something like "1 New York," "A1 New York," or "100% New York." Something like that. Not only would that blast New York past those loser N states, it would put them before the whole country and I'm sure they would be pleased with that. So when this happens in the next few years, remember, you heard it here first.

Blah blah blog...

Bill Gates mocks MIT's $100 laptop project
Boy, I wish I were a kajillionaire so I could openly mock programs that are attempting to bring PC and Internet access to thousands of poor children in third-world countries. Nice to know that philanthropy is only good when it comes from your own Foundation, not when some other assholes are trying to cut in on the action. I'm with Bill here, though. Man, those kids are greedy. Why don't they just get off their lazy asses, get jobs, and then maybe they'll be able to afford their own sparkling Windows-based computers instead of these Linux-based, crank-powered, government-cheese machines. Maybe we need Bush to go over there are shoot some democracy and capitalism all over their faces. Damn poor countries.

Calif. Plane Crash Kills Ex-TV Host, Wife
Am I the only one sad about this? Peter Tomarken, host of game show classic Press Your Luck, died in a plane crash two weeks ago. According to news reports, he was piloting a small plane to San Diego to pick up a medical patient that needed to be transported to UCLA (he was volunteering for nonprofit Angel Flight West). For most, this news is a blip--especially in a Spring where the Hollywood Reaper has been busy, but it was a sad and unwelcome surprise to me. Tomarken was one of the mainstays of my game show geek youth, up there with the other luminaries Bob Barker, Chuck Woolery (sidebar: why the hell isn't Scrabble on GSN yet? There had better be some horrific rights issues at play here because there really is no excuse), Wink Martendale (gotta love High Rollers, also inexplicably missing from GSN), Ray Combs, Dick Clark, and Jim Perry (the only real host of Card Sharks), among others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Rest in peace.

You have to read this headline
The baseball season hasn't even started yet and the competition's already over. This is the funniest baseball headline of the year. I'm still laughing. Just click on the link above--I don't even want to spoil it.

Ryan vs. Dorkman
I don't remember where I first read about this, but any Star Wars fan must check it out immediately. It's a homemade lightsaber duel with surprising good effects and fantastic choreography. Further proof of now atrociously George Lucas dropped the ball with the the Prequels. I mean, these two guys took a camera and a copy of Adobe Premiere and made a battle that's just as good as any from the movies. Couldn't Lucas have spent just a little time to ensure his scripts were intelligent before hiding in his ILM headquarters making sure the lava looked nice and purty on Geonosis. I'm getting mad all over again.

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
Some quick and dirty predictions for the upcoming baseball season.

The Mets will be a disaster. With money to burn, they spent it on overpriced veterans with injury concerns (Wagner, Delgado), signed them to huge contracts that will absolutely be albatrosses sooner than later, and yet never solved the problems that haunted them last season (bullpen, second base). It's a win-now formula, but it's also an all-my-fingers-crossed formula. You know what other team tried this recently? Yeah, the Phillies. And we know how that worked out for them. The Phils are still shedding salary and contracts and are beginning to emerge from the fog thanks to young, valuable farm-grown players. David Wright is going to be an absolute superstar (I'd kill so many people to make him a Philly), but when Pedro and Wagner go down, so will the team. Stay away.

The Marlins will struggle this year, but once they sort everyone out and their new players begin reaching their peaks, they're coming back with a vengeance. I am not looking forward to that happening. The Braves are the Braves. Meaning I think yet again that they don't quite have all the pieces to run away with the division for the umpteenth year in a row, but also meaning that they will do their best to prove me very wrong.

Now that my fantasy drafts are over, here are some of the players I'm expecting big things from this year: Grady Sizemore (across-the-board great stats with lots of improvement still to come), Josh Willingham (especially since I could draft him at the very end when no one else cared), Bobby Crosby (as long as he stays healthy), Ryan Howard (those Spring Training homeruns are no mirage), Chase Utley (easily my favorite current player, he'll cement his status as best second baseman in the game), and my favorite pitching troika of Johan the Great, Rich Harden, and Jake Peavy (I put them together because they're all on my keeper league team and each will contend for the Cy Young).

Barry Bonds is done and won't play the whole season. As much as his immense pride will push him towards the home run records, there's just far too much on his back now (especially with word of an MLB investigation being launched) and I wouldn't be surprised if he up and retires very suddenly. Roger Clemens will claim he's done a few dozen more times, but will be back in uniform, making an obscene amount of money, and pushing for another playoff run by the All-Star Break.

Yes, I predict this every year, but the Phillies are going to finally turn the corner this season. New GM Pat Gillick knows what he's doing, manager Charlie Manuel will hopefully put his NL growing pains behind him, the offense is going to mash, the defense will be top-notch (especially thanks to new center fielder Aaron Rowand), and the pitching will be better than advertised (especially if the team wisely puts Ryan Franklin in the 'pen so homegrown Gavin Floyd and Ryan Madson can finally flourish in the rotation). I've been wrong many times before, but this is the year I get it right (please? with sugar and cherries on top?)

Song of the Moment: "Way Out" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Their new album just came out on Tuesday and will be my constant soundtrack for at least the next few weeks. Polished and refined, it's an album of serious growth for the band and it can all be found in this track, a pop blast that absolutely must be a single soon.

March 30-April 11, 2006

With the Philadelphia Film Festival in full swing, I'm going to keep updating with reviews as regularly as I can. The first review is up now and just keep checking here for any updates.

4/3 update: Friday's reviews are now up.
4/4 update: And now Saturday's are as well...
4/6 update: Sunday's reviews are posted.
4/7 update: Now Monday is ready...
4/10 update: Tuesday is up.
4/11 update: Wednesday and Thursday were short days, so they're both up.
4/11 late update: Friday's now ready.
4/12 update: Saturday and the Closing Night are now posted.

And that'll do it for this year's festival! After my third straight year of 26 movies while working 9-5 the whole time, I'm exhausted. Send any thoughts to marc@shadowbloom.com, but now I just want a really long nap...

April 21, 2006

Journal Update
Exclusive coverage of last week's Bausch & Lomb ReNu press conference can now be found in the Journal. Soak in the corporate bullshit.

Arrrr, a pirate's life for me!
Monday saw the official debut of Tool's new single, "Vicarious." As expected since the band are staunch anti-piracy advocates, the song was kept under tight lock and key beforehand (according to toolshed.down.net, they even went as far as to keep the file on a secure server that only opened to distribute the song to radio stations on Monday morning (though, naturally, it was supposedly hacked into last Friday)). I jumped onto Tool's official site, excited to hear the new song. No luck, just a 30-second sound byte (which, of course, means nothing when you're talking about another seven-minute Tool opus). I decided it just hadn't gotten there yet, so I waited until Tuesday. Nope, still just a teaser clip. C'mon, it's 2006 now, is there really no way to hear the song besides edited, shitty-quality radio? Seriously, who the hell is still using the radio as their source of breaking music news? Fuck the radio. The last time I listened to a radio station all day to hear and record a new single was when "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" dropped, what, ten years ago now (but, boy, let me tell you, that was an awesome day in Pumpkins Land). Today, it ain't happening. When a long-awaited single finally is released to the public, I expect to be able to jump right on the official site and hear the damn thing (as I happily did for the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs single a month ago). Naturally, file-sharing programs are no help whatsoever since everyone and their brother thinks it's cool to put up fake versions and mislabeled songs to screw with us (hahaha, good one...and I wouldn't be shocked in the least to find out Maynard himself is responsible for half of them). So, pissed off, I gave up for the moment.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Convinced it must be out there somewhere, I started searching again late Tuesday night. In a surprisingly short time, I found, hidden away on a random message board, a link to a pristine, uncut MP3. I giddily downloaded it and finally got my taste of the new album. Considering the great pains the band went through to keep their song off the Internet, doesn't it strike you as at least mildly ironic that, entirely because of all of these efforts, I was driven to find a pirated MP3 when I would have been perfectly content to listen to a decent-quality stream of the song on their website instead. And, no, there was never any doubt I would buy the CD as soon as it hits stores on May 2nd. So, great job, Tool--in one fell swoop, you managed to piss off your core fanbase who are dying to hear the newest song and had no way to do so as well as the potential fans who maybe would buy the CD if only they were able to hear more than the tiniest morsel of a song beforehand. All in the name of preventing piracy that has still never really been quantified (what about people who download the MP3s and still buy the CD? or people who download the MP3s, but never would have bought the CD anyway--at least that's some increased exposure? or people who download the MP3s, don't buy the CD, but spend $50 on a concert ticket because they love the album?) Maybe these bands should think deeper into the ramifications before they hoard and hide all their material. Maybe instead they should find a way to strike a better deal with record companies that are only looking out for their own bottom line before spewing vitriol at a non-existent "problem." On second thought, nah, it's much easier to just stick our heads in the sand and pine for the status quo than actually deal with this new digital paradigm that's prepared to redefine the industry. And, yes, I'm rehashing arguments I made three years ago before my review of Matt Good's Avalanche and it's sad that the only "progress" we've made since then are stronger copy protection schemes that continue shredding up our rights to Fair Use. Lovely.

Song of the Moment: "Vicarious" by Tool.
As for the song itself? Thumbs up. I've been listening to Tool for a long time now, but I hated Lateralus. Self-indulgent, needlessly drawn-out, and punctuated by excruciating stretches of silence, it was a complete 180 from their brilliant Aenima. "Vicarious" only gives us a hint of what to expect from 10,000 Days, but I'm now cautiously optimistic. It runs over seven minutes, but the pounding guitars and drums take center stage the whole time with none of the grind-to-a-halt moments of Lateralus (it's much more akin to one of the longer tracks on Aenima). Maynard's vocals are pushed to the back of the mix, though if I want to hear his voice soar, I've got all the Perfect Circle albums for that. It's angry and driving (nothing better than Maynard growling "I need to watch things die") and could mark a return to form for the band (especially good since it takes them five or six years between albums).

April 26, 2006

Journal Update
Today in the Journal, it's current reality TV villains as filtered through an old George Carlin sketch. Don't forget to play along at home.

May 5, 2006

Journal Update
New feature in the Journal today. Introducing The Calendar, a scattershot list of important events coming up this year, including E3 next week and the release of Clerks 2 in August. It should be updated periodically as the year goes on. Of course, any suggestions for entries are always appreciated (marc@shadowbloom.com).

"It looked like that was going to be good."
(Broken record warning) Seriously, everyone needs to be watching The Office. Anyone who isn't is missing out on the best comedy on TV. No other show out there (including Lost) generates in me the amount of pure giddiness and joy this one does. John Krasinski's masterful performance of silent storytelling in the "Drug Testing" episode last week should be preserved in amber for the ages, not to mention FedEx'ed directly to the Emmy committee. Its second season draws to a close this Thursday (and it feels like the Pam/Jim sexual tension is reaching a boiling point), but it should be out on DVD this summer and there will be plenty of reruns in the meantime to catch up on (it's also readily available on iTunes). Watch this show.

Songs of the Moment: "Rosetta Stoned" and "The Pot" by Tool.
Very happy with the new Tool album. The wank-off running-in-place sections of Lateralus have been cut, the "segues" are, for the first time, not just there to skip over and actually keep the album flowing gracefully, and the songs feel like they need to be 8, 9, 10 minutes long to get everything out, not that they were artificially stretched out. From the fragile, melodic opening to "The Pot" to the machine-gun spoken-word of "Stoned," there's a refreshing ebb and flow that makes the album's 76 minutes seem half as long. I simply can't stop listening to this album.

May 18, 2006

Journal Update
With E3 already in our rear-view mirror, it's time for my ramblings on Nintendo's show. God, I love video games...

May 23, 2006

Journal Update
In light of George Lucas's latest slap in the face to his fans, today in the Journal, The Star Wars Redemption, my radical plan to restore the integrity of the great series. All that's missing is a time machine...

Songs of the Moment: "Faithless," "Bullet" and "I, IV, V" by Injected.
For a few week period in the Spring of 2002, if you watched any MTV2, you saw the "Faithless" video. I got hooked quickly and ended up buying Injected's debut album. It's been a few years, but I randomly broke out the CD again over the weekend and was blown away. It's your basic alt-rock and won't win any creativity awards, but the chunky riffs and choruses put it high above its Puddle of Mudd and Trapt ilk. Check it out.

June 9, 2006

Calendar Update
Quick update today: this Sunday, June 11th, has been added to The Calendar as the debut of the third season of Entourage and the premiere of Louis C.K.'s new sitcom, Lucky Louie. Nice to have some good nights of TV ahead while waiting for Lost and The Office to come back...

Songs of the Moment: "Only Hurts Awhile" and "Used Up" by Injected.
Yes, I'm still listening to the Injected album (pretty much a lock for a Belated Best Of Award at this point), but I've moved on to these two songs which have been camped out in my head for the last couple weeks. Well worth a listen. "Falling faster towards the ground / you are..."

June 27, 2006

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
It's been pent up in me for a while, but it's time for the The Phillies Requiem (2006 Edition), my rant about the state of the Phils and what can be done to salvage my beloved team. Check it out in the Journal.

Song of the Moment: "Bullet Charm" by Pretty Girls Make Graves.
Love that opening guitar riff and drum line. "We're running through alleys / And kissing in doorways."

June 28, 2006

Movies Update
This year's film festival's a few months behind us now, but some of the movies from the fest are now starting their theatrical runs, so this is a good chance to catch some of the ones I couldn't fit into my schedule in April. First up, my review of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

Song of the Moment: "Alsatian" by White Rose Movement.
Much love to Entourage for introducing me to this one. Some songs just have that ineffable something that wins you over--"Alsatian" played during the closing credits of this past Sunday's episode. Two minutes after the show ended, I was online finding out the name on HBO's website and I bought the CD the next day (it's only out in the UK, so a nod of appreciation to Tower for having it for surprisingly cheap for an import). Something like Duran Duran if they had been writing gloomy metal songs, I'll be giving this album a lot of attention. Check out the video here and give it a listen.

July 13, 2006

Movies Update
More reviews. Today it's Guy Pearce feel-bad Western The Proposition and girls' basketball documentary The Heart of the Game.

Et cetera...
A quick edit to The Calendar. Clerks 2 has been moved up to next Friday, the 21st, so its entry has been changed accordingly.

So, considering how awful summer TV has been (according to IMDb News, "Never in television history have the four major television networks drawn fewer viewers than they did last week"), you've got to cherish the few gems out there. The new season of Project Runway began last night and everyone should watch it. Just trust me. In a rarity for reality TV, the contestants are intelligent, well-spoken, creative, idiosyncratic, and a few billion times more interesting to watch than all the other drama queens and self-absorbed meathead assholes out there in the reality TV universe. I know less than nothing about the fashion world, but I'm absolutely addicted to this show. Bravo will repeat it ad nauseum so you'll have no trouble catching up on last night's premiere (check out the Pre-Season 3 Casting Special first if you can as well). Just watch it.

Song of the Moment: "The Eraser" by Thom Yorke.
I had no idea this album existed until my friend Jason told me a few weeks ago, so I guess that shows how out of the Radiohead loop I've been over the last couple years. Anyway, the album hit stores this past Tuesday and is worth a purchase for you true blue Radiohead fans out there. It's exactly what you'd expect: lots of blips and bloops, drum loops, Thom's trademark moans (though refreshingly clean of production wizardry), and a disappointing (though not unexpected) lack of guitar. The title track's my favorite right now. "The more you try to erase me / The more that I appear..."

July 26, 2006

Movies Update
Today's review is of the long-awaited Clerks II. To show where I'm coming from, it also includes quick reviews of the rest of Kevin Smith's filmography. Snoogans.

Et cetera...
My review of A Scanner Darkly is next up. I'm also going to be doing some behind-the-scenes maintenance BS I've been meaning to do for a while. Mostly cleaning up HTML code, style sheets, and the like. Good times.

Song of the Moment: "Because of Me" by Seether.
The recipe for your generic alt-rock song is simple and reliable, which is why we've heard it so many times. Chunky guitar riffs, catchy, singable choruses...toss in a breakdown/solo leading to the final propulsive repeats of the chorus and you've got yourself an alt-rock hit! This one's just like all the others, but man, did I get hooked on it. If you turn your nose up at this stuff, walk away, but otherwise you'll be singing along before your first listen ends.

July 28, 2006

Phew. I spent the last couple days cleaning up HTML code, which meant going through every single page making edits here and there. Yikes. Very little of it is actually readily noticeable on the site, though. The biggest change is that, finally, the entire site is now printable in Firefox and Internet Explorer. Thanks to a spiffy new print stylesheet, when you print a page, it crops off the menu on the left and just streams the page down with black text on a white background--much better than the various quirks that would arise before. That means that Shadowbloom is now officially available to take with you on the go! (audience applause) Cue Kevin Spacey in American Beauty: "I rule!"

Journal Update
So, I get a good number of magazines in the mail every month and, shocker I know, quite a few are video game magazines (when you can subscribe for a year for the cover cost of maybe three issues, there's just no way to justify not doing so). That leads to a glorious couple of days every month where I get three magazines in the span of usually two days. Glory of glories. Computer Gaming World comes in a little later and isn't on my radar as much, but made a splash in a big way this month. I actually made an audible gasp when I took it out of my mailbox and saw on the cover none other than Sam & Max, Freelance Police. Now, I knew that this game was in development, but after two previous attempts to make it both ended in cancellation, I wasn't exactly brimming with hope. But, now that CGW's scored an exclusive preview and it sounds on track for release this October, I'm officially excited. And, you know what, fuck this, Sam and Max have earned a spot on The Calendar. Check it out.

[Late Friday Night Update]
Just watched the first episode of Life on Mars, a new show that premiered earlier this week on BBC America and I had to jump on here to urge everyone to give it a shot. Manchester detective Sam Tyler is struck by a car and wakes to find himself in 1973. Confused over whether he's losing his mind, hallucinating in a coma, or actually time-traveling, he tries to acclimatize to a world where police brutality is an accepted interrogation method, pints are downed at lunch, and CSI is a long, long ways away. Made with the same grittiness that marked last year's Bodies, it's a tremendous opening hour and I can't wait to see where the story goes. It airs Monday nights, but the first episode will be shown again on Sunday night, so you have a chance to get caught up right away. Definitely a welcome bright spot in an awful summer of TV.


NEXT: The Beginning -- 2006 Updates -- Part Two

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2006 Part One
2005
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2004 Part One
2003