The Best Most Listened-To Albums of 2009 – Honourable Mentions

I can’t really say what the best music of the year is. I haven’t listened to every album that has come out, and I’m no music critic. What I can do is say which albums captured my ears enough to listen to over and over. Luckily, Last.fm keeps track of all the music I listen to, so it’s easy to see which albums those are. In a few days I will post my most listened-to albums of the year. But today, here are some albums that probably would have made that list, if they came out or I’d gotten them earlier in the year. This only includes albums that were released in 2009 in North America.

Aqua – Greatest Hits: It’s so disappointing that Aqua’s big comeback was just 3 new songs on a greatest hits album. Oh, but what songs they are. Back to the Eighties sounds just fresh enough to exist today, while keeping Aqua’s awkward, slightly out-of-touch-with-reality lyrics. Every night I pray that Aqua will release another full length album.

The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die: Another 90s band still kicking ass in the 00s, The Prodigy continues to make insanely high-energy dance music that’s useful for when you need that extra motivation at the gym, or you’re cutting an action movie trailer.
See also: The Crystal Method – Divided By Night; MSTRKRFT – Fist of God; You Say Party! We Say Die! – XXXX


Chris Cornell – Scream: Then there’s how not to make a comeback. Chris Cornell’s — yes, the same one who fronted Soundgarden and Audioslave — Timbaland-produced, guitar-free pop collection is a platypus of an album; so disjointed and ugly that it really shouldn’t even exist. But in my humble opinion, it goes so far into terrible territory that it ends up in awesome land.

What…the…fuck.

Lady GaGa – The Fame Monster: More WTF courtesy of Lady GaGa. The Fame Monster is a little 8-song blast of sugary pop with an edge to it. It’s like a tiny dessert that’s finished before you tire of its sweet-bitter richness.
See also: Lights – The Listening, Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma.

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Weezer – The 8-bit Album: A collection of Weezer songs done in the style of, or with the technology of, 8-bit video games. Weezer’s genius in crafting strong pop songs is highlighted by the fact that they’re still fun to listen to when stripped down to bleeps and bloobs.
See also: Weezer – Raditude, Jaydiohead – Jay-Z x Radiohead.

Gavin Castleton – Home: A concept album telling a story of love during a zombie apocalypse? YES PLEASE.
See also: other quirky independent pop: e.g.: The Fiery Furnaces – I’m Going Away, Islands – Vapours, Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career, Andrew Bird – Noble Beast.

Ramona Falls – Intuit: Raymi tossed a video from this album onto one of her posts, and I instantly fell in love with it. Such beautiful, dark, fresh, epic music. Even though I have no idea what they’re singing about most of the time.
See also: Placebo – Battle For the Sun.

Oh and this video is incredible:

I’ll be back in a few days with the albums I listened to most in 2008.

Play TV Canada Complaint: Global’s Response

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have, for some reason, been battling against crappy television.

I sent the following to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council a few weeks ago:

Hello. I have sent this concern to Global Television directly, but heard no response.

This “show” is a blatant scam, for several reasons. In sum, they make implicit promises (e.g., that it is possible to get through, or that the puzzles they present are solvable) that are not kept, which defrauds people of money. I do not believe that such an unethical practice should be encouraged by allowing it air time.

I have laid out many of the details of my concern in these blog posts:

Play TV Canada is a Scam
Play TV Canada Has No Legs

And I see that a CBSC decision has already been made about an identical scam: here (also here). But it it still on the air, so I’d like to lodge yet another complaint.

I hope there is something you can do about this. Thank you very much for your time.

My letter was forwarded to Canwest/Global (the company that airs, but does not produce, the program). I recently got a response. The letter can be viewed here.

I will compose a formal response soon. But a few things worth noting right away:
1) Staring at an unsolvable puzzle for 2 hours is not entertaining nor informative for any age, interest, or taste.
2) Having it be for ages 18+ is no excuse. It’s like, “but officer, the person I pickpocketed was 18! Should’ve known to be on the lookout for criminals.”
3) They did not address the implicit promises that are broken (e.g., the fake timer, the non-ringing phone, the random timing of getting on the air). Tiny text at the bottom does not excuse the lying host blabbering up top.
4) There is clearly not one and only one answer to each puzzle.

This last point is exemplified by last night’s “episode”:

Play TV Canada "Puzzle", December 19th 2009

The “correct” answer was 449.

Plugging in the same assumptions as the last bus/cat/leg puzzle does not get to the “correct” answer (even after accounting for, say, one girl having a leg off the bus, or one basket off the bus, etc.) The scam is in including assumptions that cannot possibly be uniquely derived from the question. Can anyone use their psychic powers to divine what arbitrary assumptions could lead to 449?

P.S. I found it rather funny when the host slipped up last night and said “euros” instead of dollars. It highlights that this cheaply produced crap is pumped in from halfway across the world just so Global can make a few bucks.

P.P.S. Here are some videos you might enjoy. 🙂

Play TV Canada Has No Legs

As a follow-up to my post Play TV Canada is a Scam, I watched it again last night. Once again, I couldn’t turn away; it’s like a train wreck. A train wreck with the conductor begging you for money while he wades through the victims.

One such victim was brave enough to speak up last night. What sounded like an older gentlemen said, through beeped out swearing, something like “you people sure are takin’ advantage of a lot of people, and I oughta-” before he got cut off. Good for you, angry old man. You’re fighting the good fight.

Here is one of last night’s “puzzles”:

I’ll write it out:

  • 4 girls are travelling on a bus
  • each of them have 3 baskets
  • in each basket there are 4 cats
  • each cat has 3 little kittens

HOW MANY LEGS ARE IN THE BUS?

Plastered on the bumper of the picture of the bus, for some reason, it says “1 cat 4 feet.”

The host constantly emphasized that this is a simple logic puzzle. And indeed, it does seem to be a straightforward math problem. Hey, let’s figure it out!

All we need to do is figure out how many cats there are, and how many humans there are, then count their legs. Let’s do cats first. There are 4 girls, with 3 baskets each, so there are 4*3 = 12 baskets. In each basket there are 4 cats, and each of them has 3 kittens, so each basket has 4*3 = 12 cats. With 12 baskets and 12 cats in each one, there are 12*12 = 144 cats.
[Edit: whoops… Heather on Facebook pointed out that I forgot to count the 4 cats in each basket. It should be 16 cats/kittens per basket.]

How about humans? Well, the question only said there are 4 girls travelling on the bus, so 4.

Each cat has 4 legs. 144 cats times 4 legs = 576 cat legs.
Each person has 2 legs. 4 people times 2 legs = 8 human legs.

Which brings us to a grand total of 584.

Someone called in with this answer. “No, I’m sorry, that’s not it,” said the host.

What? Well, we must have missed something. Hmm, ok they’re going by bus, maybe it’s reasonable to assume that there is a driver, even though the question doesn’t say that. He or she has two more legs, so that brings the total to 586.

Someone called this in. “Nooo, sorry.”

Maybe they’re counting the “legs” of each seat, and we’re supposed to use our psychic powers to determine how many seats this fictional bus has, then get some answer larger than 586. In any case, I couldn’t stand that crap any longer, so I shut it off.

Then, in the comments to my last post about this, Kathy (who actually managed to win some money from these people, but still doesn’t recommend calling), managed to wait until the end: “Well, of course no-one got the ‘right’ answer of 222 legs.”

what? Even if you add other ridiculous assumptions, the answer can’t be less than 586.

They don’t reveal how the answer was arrived at, so there is no way of verifying their solution. Even if there was (e.g., “lol, we meant kitten fetuses without fully developed legs”), it’s not the straightforward solution that they explicitly claim it is. PlayTV is a despicable scam. It’s not impossible to win, but the conditions of winning that they describe are completely different than the actual conditions of winning.

If you want to get involved in shutting Play TV (a.k.a. CallTV) down:

P.S. Please, debate and dispute my math. I’d love to see how anyone can get 222 out of that.

UPDATE: Gavin on Facebook made the suggestion that maybe the kittens aren’t actually in the bus (i.e., the cats “have” kittens in the sense that a person can “have kids” even if they’re not present at the time).

So ignoring the kittens:

4*3*4 cats * 4 legs = 192 cat legs.
4 girls + 1 driver * 2 legs = 10 human legs.
5 seats to sit in * 4 legs = 20 chair legs.

= 222 legs.

Which is the “right” answer. I guess that almost makes sense, except none of the weird assumptions are actually in the question, and what kind of bus only has 5 seats?

That’s right, the short bus. Which is probably what whoever wrote this quiz was riding.