Monday, January 25, 2016

The I Don't Cares: Wild Stab - A Review

Back in 2012, one of the signs of the impending apocalypse came to pass: The Replacements got back together. I remember seeing them break up on stage in 1993 at the WXRT concert in Chicago and figured that there was such animosity in the band that any attempt at a reunion would be futile. Turns out I was right, as The Replacements only managed to put out an EP of covers and mount a few half-assed tours before Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson discovered once again that they couldn't stand each other. In the wake of that collapse, Paul Westerberg pursued a project with Julianna Hatfield, which they dubbed The I Don't Cares. The resulting album "Wild Stab", came out last week. Often times, collaborations like this end up being a disappointment, but "Wild Stab" is filled with enough good music to make it worthwhile. Paul Westerberg sounds great. Not as great as he sounded in "14 Songs", but certainly better than he has sounded in recent years. And Juliana Hatfield's contributions are reminiscent of her work with Evan Dando and The Lemonheads. Their voices go well together. does, too; their ragged harmonies are sweet and living - reminding me a bit of Julie and Buddy Miller's - their voices belong together.

Peter Wolf, in a recent interview with Paul Westerberg, described the I Don't Cares album as being like a diamond: “It’s like a nice jewel, you just keep rubbing it, and it starts shining”. That's an apt description, mainly because "Wild Stab" rose up from Juliana Hatfield polishing off Paul Westerberg's old demos. Yet, Wolf's diamond analogy also works because, the more you listen to "Wild Stab", the more it grows on you. I've run through it about four times over the last week, and, for me, the stand out tracks are "Outta My System", "1/2 2P", "Wear Me Out Loud", "Born For Me" and "Back". It's not nearly as well produced as "14 Songs", which is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Paul Westerberg 's career, but that's part of the appeal. It sounds somewhat gritty and unpolished, yet it's layered and emotional.

I go with goosebumps and the ear,” Paul Westerberg told Peter Wolf. “When I feel it, then it’s done, it’s ready…. You do it with computers and shit — you can fix everything. And people do. Why compete with that? Everybody can make a perfect record in their basement, bedroom, on their phone. That’s not gonna serve anything. I don’t want to make a perfect record.” And he didn't. "Wild Stab" isn't perfect. But, it doesn't need to be. It sounds great as it is.

For more insight into The I Don't Cares and the current mindset of Paul Westerberg, check out the interview that Peter Wolf did with him recently.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fallout 4: My Coolest Kills Part 1

I've been putting some serious time into playing Fallout 4 and I've made a compilation video of my best kills so far. I've picked these specific ones for a variety of reasons, either they look cool, are somewhat funny to watch or feature epic combo kills with various companions available in Fallout 4. I'm particularly fond of the part where we're fighting the Forged and Cait picks up a flamer off of a dead Forged member, equips it, and attacks another member. He tries to go around her and attack her from behind, but Cait smacks him with the flamer while I dispatch him for good with the combat shot gun.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chisel Shave Club Review

In this increasingly connected world, there seems to be a diminishing amount of purely personal experiences to savor. One of the last bastions of experiences that a man can truly call his own is the ritual of the shave. Some men may see shaving as an annoying daily task. I would say that, if treated properly, shaving can hearken us back to our more primal forebears who ritualistically shaved before going into battle. Failing that, shaving can be an excellent way for man to cosset himself much like a woman may go to a manicurist in order to pamper herself. However one chooses to approach shaving, there's a certain level of awesomeness that cannot be achieved using disposable cartridges. Chisel Shave Club aims to bring back the ritual of the wet shave by helping you find your best shave.

What Chisel Shave Club offers is a monthly subscription plan dedicated to those of us who want to enjoy the ritual of an awesome shave. Chisel Shave Club has scoured the internet for the best wet shaving products and, each month, you'll get a box full of different products that have been put together to maximize your enjoyment of the wet shave. It all sounds pretty great in theory. But how does Chisel Shave Club actually hold up? 

Chisel Shave Club Review
Unboxing The Chisel Shave Club box
I got my box for this review about two weeks ago, and, first off, I need to say that Chisel Shave Club has knocked it out of the park with their presentation. The box is simply beautiful to look at. The contents included some facial cleanser, shaving soaps (one for shaving in the shower, one for in front of the mirror), after shave, a soap brush, a safety razor and two packs of blades. Chisel Shave Club has provided everything a man needs in order to get the most out of his wet shaving ritual. There's even a set of instructions on how to best use the products just in case you're totally new to the art of wet shaving. 

Normally, if I shave with a disposable blade cartridge in the morning, I've got a five o'clock shadow by about 3pm. I first used the contents of my Chisel Shave Club box on about 36 hours worth of stubble. I followed the instructions provided in the box and came out with a very close shave. Better yet, my five o'clock shadow ended up being two days late. As comfortable as the shave was, I wanted to see how the Chisel Shave Club system would fare on something a bit tougher. I let my beard grow out for a few days and then tackled it again. without changing the blade in the safety razor. My thicker hair proved to be no match for the blade and I ended up with yet another close shave with nary a tug or nick.  

Is Chisel Shave Club for you? Well, wet shaving isn't for everyone. It takes some deliberate time and care, If you do want to take the plunge, you'll be rewarded with a closer shave with less irritation. The Chisel Shave Club monthly plan is very affordable and, there's no commitment, so you can cancel at any time. Or, if you find that you're really enjoying the Chisel Shave Club experience, you can pre-pay for a few months and get a discount. Also, you can use my coupon code for Chisel Shave Club and get 10% off your first order. Just enter TOMMYM10 in the coupon code space upon checking out. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fallout 4: Clearing Out Hangman's Alley via Stealth

I'm a few hours into playing Fallout 4 and, so far, I'm enjoying it. After yet another "scout and clear out" mission given to me by Preston Garvey, I headed out with my follower, Strong, and set about the task of clearing Hangman's Alley of raiders. It's pretty well fortified, so I tried to take out as many Raiders as possible using stealth. I was going to pick the lock to the back entry, but since Strong dislikes lockpicking, I decided to perch above the alley and pick off the raiders one by one. The door into the alley was essential in lowering my detectability because it blocked the line-of-sight.

The weapon I'm using is an irradiated pipe pistol that I modified to use a longer barrel and to take .50 caliber bullets.


Monday, January 4, 2016

College Referrals Called Me

I got a robo call from College Referrals recently. The number they claimed to call from was 708-566-9614. The call began with a voice-interactive interface that sounded convincing enough that, just for a moment, I thought I was interacting with a real person. Once I got transferred to a live representative at College Referrals (or School Search, as he said), I accused the rep of working for people who replace folks with synthetic people. I came off as a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, convinced that the government is replacing people with robots. The rep smartly asked me how I knew that I wasn't a robot myself. I acted like this caused an existential crisis.