reality is weirder than you think

Month: December 2017 (page 1 of 4)

A very personal review of EXO’s Universe

After so many amuse bouche posts about k-pop teasers and comebacks, I’m finally going to serve up a main course by telling you my thoughts on an entire album.

This is largely because EXO’s latest winter album, Universe, actually sounds like an album.

One of my biggest problems with k-pop is that it the industry focuses almost exclusively on singles. (American pop does this too, so I shouldn’t complain too much.) But as someone who appreciates the musical journey that a well-crafted album can provide, I miss that in k-pop. At its best, you get a 4-minute chunk of a pure emotion-bubble. No story, no journey, no connection.

So when the songs on this summer’s The War feel like they belong together, like they could all be found on the same menu in the same restaurant, I was ecstatic. Some of the songs are quite good, too.

I’m pleased to say that the musical cohesiveness has continued into the winter album. All the songs sound related, in roughly the same color palette–even though they have different emotional hooks.

Universe is just beautiful. A sweeping rock ballad with a generous dash of “longing” and and an English hook of “I’ll search the universe” with the unspoken FOR YOU that hooks all of us womenfolk.

The b-side that I’ve heard the most chatter about is Been Through. This might be because the songwriters are good at promoting themselves on Twitter. Part of me wants to love it; it’s a beautifully-orchestrated, sparse pop song. It’s not often that you hear pizzicato in pop strings, and the effect contrasts well with EXO’s lush vocals. What I don’t love is how the chorus sounds like American pop music. The rhyming “You shine like the stars / you light up my heart” takes me immediately to the arena of overly saccharine indie pop which spoils the mood somewhat.

A contender for my favorite is Stay. The piano and the semi-flat analog sound of the recording are a refreshing change of pace from the normal bright and clean acoustics. This song showcase’s EXO’s vocal ability well, with a repeating motif of thirds (I think–my music theory is a bit rusty) that weaves subtly through the different verses. Honestly I’ve never been much of a fan of Suho’s vocals but he’s winning me over in this song. His verse with Kai–who tries so hard–is charming.

My nominees for “most forgettable” on this album are Fall and  Good Night. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that they’re not as good as they other songs. Fall is a pretty standard R&B ballad, nothing too special. The guitar line is nice. As far as Good Night, I want to hate the synth sound for being so jarring with the acoustic (or fake acoustic) sounds of the other songs, but if I take a step back it’s a nice palate cleanser.

Finally, we have Lights Out, which has a beautiful moving bass line under the piano line and melody. The use of voice-as-instrument reminds me of Enya’s Shepherd Moons album–absolutely stunning. Sung by our vocal line (Chen, Baekhyun, DO, Suho), this is the song I would most love to see performed live with a piano and an upright bass.


Anyway, if the vocals on Universe have not already inspired you to wish for a Chen solo album, Lights Out will. [Edit: it appears that Chen wrote this song as well, so I will upgrade this wish to a Chen singer/songwriter solo album.]

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album. I have two overall criticisms. Though I’ve praised this album for sounding cohesive, sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t sound too much of the same. The fact that I can skip 2 songs out of 6 without changing the “feeling” of the album says a lot for the repetition in tone and in instrumentation.

Universe delves into melancholy territory that EXO has never tackled. It’s nice to hear some songs predominantly in minor key (not just for effect or contrast), but the overall effect is downer rather than upper. One of the things that I like the most about K-pop in general is that it’s optimistic and happy without being overbearing about it. Even when EXO’s previous winter title tracks have been sad, they never dwelt on it (musically at least–I can’t speak to the lyrics). This album leaves me feeling hollow in a way that K-pop never has. I appreciate that, but I’m not sure I like it.

Moving forward, I hope that the members and SM’s music team can capitalize on this year of excellent music and keep up this level of quality. The Japan album looks to be great. I’m hoping for another “Forever” in our future.


“A Very Personal Review” means that I’m no expert, this is merely my subjective opinion that I’m writing because I like this album and want to share it with the world. I don’t listen widely to (Western) pop or to K-pop, so I can’t situate this group or this album in a wider context, nor can I give a good music theory perspective on it.

Public goals

They say that the best way to build credibility is to make predictions in public, stand by them, and wait for them to come true.

Of course, that’s contingent upon one’s ability to ~~predict the future.

The next best way is to say you’re going to do something, and then do it.

It’s like predicting the future, but you get near-complete control over that future.

Instead of, say, trying to predict the stock market.

So it would make sense that I could list a bunch of New Year’s resolutions here, and then track my progress as I achieve them.

Truth be told, I am too chickenshit to throw my specific goals out for public consumption–or accountability.


Vaguely, my goals involve:

  • Using writing to develop a secondary source of income
  • Taking steps to further bolster my health and beauty

I’m sure I’ll chronicle some of my endeavors here.

Last year ended up being “year of macro,” in which I made some major changes in my life.

This year is “year of micro,” and I’m intending to focus a lot more on my individual actions. How the little actions accumulate over time.

That is the non-stressful way to get to goals. Don’t focus a lot on the decision, but focus more on the doing of it.

And, the volume of “doings” is convenient in letting one document extensively along the way.

Which feeds in to the credibility cycle.


Image of the Week: Speaking of vaporwave in k-pop edition

I’m a bad publicist. EXO just released their winter album, so I should be shilling for that.

Instead, here’s a photo from the teaser from their Japan debut, which was released a month ago and scheduled for a month from now.

Please note: vaporwave.

Twice and EXO looking to have a Japan vaporwave showdown.

I’m here for that.


Happy last Friday of 2018, y’all.

Gosh, you guys

Christmas was the first time I drank any alcohol since going full carnivore back in May. I had one bourbon. It seemed to metabolize perfectly, to disappear without a trace.

Tonight, I had another in a night out with some friends. Not the same reaction at all. I can’t think, can’t concentrate, can’t string two words or thoughts together. I’ve started two different posts but neither of them are coming together, and the more tired I become by staying up, the more my brain is shutting down.

Since I now regret that I did not write today’s post before I went out, I will write one of those “random updates” posts.

  • I was correct in thinking that I can’t really handle alcohol on this way of eating. (But who am I kidding, I shouldn’t have drank much on any way of eating.)
  • Decided to learn Korean, because I’m not embarrassed enough at my torrid love affair with Korean entertainment.
  • Working on quite a few review posts that I’m hoping to get posted before the end of the year.
  • All the furniture I bought for really cheap is still sitting in a trailer in a different town. Fat lot of good that does me.
  • Still using shampoo on my hair. It’s working out okay.
  • Yesterday’s post got the most views out of all the posts I’ve made so far, probably because I tagged all those people on twitter.
  • Confession: I claim to like reading and books but I don’t do much reading.
  • Confession II: there are 19 tabs open in my browser right now. It’s a problem.

Life is lots of these little moments, and I intend to stack so many of these on top of each other during 2018 that I rip a few holes in the universe.

Good holes, tho. No airlock catastrophes.

Top five posts of 2017

It’s the end of the year, when it’s instinctive (or is merely traditional?) to look back and tally how we’ve been doing.

Even though this blog has only been in existence for about six months, I’ve always been curious about what the top posts are. A handful of title always pop up in my “Site Stats” area.

Let’s see if we can learn any lessons.

1. N=many is go!

While I very much regret to say that I didn’t finish the initial 90-day carnivore cohort over at N Equals Many, I was really excited to help out at first. I’m still definitely a carnivore, but I stopped tracking around 30 days in at the end of September. This is mostly because the “roller coaster” portion of my year kicked in and I prioritized keeping my sanity amidst getting a new job and moving, instead of trying to track everything. If you’re interested in carnivory, join us during World Carnivore Month in January 2018.

Anyway, I linked to NEqualsMany from that post, and I get traffic from the pingback.


2. A metric: the Creative Achievement Questionnaire 

This one surprises me, as it was born on a day that I had no idea what to write. I was looking around for a “quiz” or fillable question set to use as a template, and since Jordan B Peterson was on my mind, I found this questionnaire. It’s an interesting metric to check creative achievement against. I appreciate how it encompasses all different types of creativity, including scientific and architectural achievement. I question if someone can be truly well-rounded in this modern era of fine-tuned achievements, but it’s still a fun way to measure. Since posting this, I haven’t moved earned any new points, but I’m building a plan to do so in the next six months.

There’s no pingback on the post that I linked to, so people must find it from search.


3. Photo of the week: I hate dating edition

Ah, when I was new in town and spending a lot of time on Tinder and had just launched a series called “photo of the week.” Dating still sucks, and I try to avoid being in those positions.

I linked to this one on Twitter and tagged the person who took the photos, so it makes sense that this post gets traffic.


4. A very personal review of The Promethean by Owen Stanley

My very first fiction review! It’s not a great review, objectively, because my book reviews are very green at this point in my writing career. My thoughts are numerous, but I am not yet disciplined at corralling them into strings of paragraphs that make sense. I always want to tell the truth, but sometimes it’s difficult to write the truth of what I think about something with the thought in mind that the author could read it. The double-edge sword of the internet, I suppose.

I suspect that this post gets hits because I doubt there are very many reviews of it out there, especially outside of Amazon.


5. People who naturally write in passive voice

This is an old post. “Old.” Back at the beginning of this blog, I challenged myself to come up with a longer piece each week, like a weekly column. This was the first establishment (of two), and it gave me an excuse to delve into a people and writing problem that had been bothering me.

No idea where there traffic on this one comes from, which is kinda cool. Looks like I should write more of these long, introspective (extrospective?) posts.


In conclusion, there’s not much similarity between the five posts. The breadth represents most of the topics that I write about, except for fashion and k-pop.

It’s fascinating to me that only two of the posts had easily-identifiable pingback links. Perhaps I can extrapolate new blog ideas to explore from the organic traffic-attracting posts–like doing more looking into “creative achievement.”

It’s also obviously worth writing about my life as a carnivore, and writing book reviews.

But I’m still going to write what I want. That’s how I made it this far, and how I’ll make it another six months.

Twice so vaporwave

I thought that the vaporwave trend would be wrapping up soon, but judging from the amount of K-pop groups who are using vaporwave stylistic influences to promote in Korea and Japan, I’m not so sure. EXO was the last that I noticed using vaporwave, especially in their upcoming promotion in Japan (but also in the “Power” video).

Twice is the latest group to go full vaporwave.

Glitchy video: check.

Pink and/or purple color scheme, heavy on the gradients: check.

Gratuitous backlighting and neon: check.

Random unrelated geometric shapes: also check.

Google and wiki tell me that vaporwave was born of the online indie music scene in the early 2010’s, which means in internet year’s it has probably outspent its welcome.

But if K-pop is pulling vaporwave influences–and more than one entertainment company, Twice is with JYP and EXO is with SM–and other groups pull influence from K-pop (citation needed), it stands to reason that eventually vaporwave will show back up in the “traditionally” produced media. About 8 years too late. Whatever “late” means these days.

Please note: I know that I am late to the vaporwave party.

I’m just interested to see how much Korean pop music is going to influence everything else, especially now that it’s “officially” out of the bubble. (Thanks, BTS. I think.)

Merry First Christmas

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Merry Christmas, y’all. I hope you have a day of joy and wonder and delicious food.

May God bless us this year even more than He blessed us in 2016.

St. Nick the badass

Urban legend or no, good ol’ Saint Nicholas certainly made the Council of Nicaea a more exciting place to be:

It happened that saint Nicholas, now an old man, was present at the Council of Nicaea,  and out of jealousy of faith struck a certain Arian in the jaw, on account of which it is recorded that he was deprived of his mitre and pallium; on account of which he is often depicted without a mitre.

Gotta love a guy who will follow in the footsteps of the Christ flipped tables in the temple.

In this age that conflates Christianity and pacifism, it’s refreshing to come across examples of Christians in history who were not hesitant to stand up for their faith, including a kiss with a fist.

It also occurs to me that saints are basically memes. In the link above, the evolution of the Nicholas story reminds me a lot of the evolution of a meme, and how they tend to get to become a taller and taller of a tale over time. I always dismissed the iconography of saints out of hand, being the headstrong protestant that I am, but this deserves further thought.

Stay tuned, and Merry Christmas Eve.

If you’re gonna eat meat, make sure to eat the fat

Today I discovered that the butcher near my parents house clocks their “lean” ground beef at 88/12. That’s 88% muscle, 12% fat.

Their “extra lean” is even beyond that.

Considering that most supermarket lean ground beef is 80/20, this was a surprise. Supermarket extra lean (or “diet” as I’ve seen recently) clocks in at 85/15.

The butcher’s version of “lean” is leaner than the supermarket’s version of “extra lean.”

Funny, that.

But why does it matter?

It explains why I feel less healthy when I visit my parents.

Not enough fat.

Since I’m a strict(ish) carnivore, I get all of my nutrition and energy from meat and fat. Most of the meat I eat these days is ground beef or pork (easier on the gut than steak) without much added fat–usually it doesn’t need it.

No fat, no energy.

I’m working on a plan to supplement this shortfall until I can get my hands on some fattier cuts of meat.

Right now, that plan is butter.

Butter fixes everything.


This has been a public service announcement brought to you by people who don’t think fat is going to kill you.

Image of the Week: “you can do it” edition

Originally, I was going to post that photo of Nikki Haley in the UN. It sufficiently summed up the week in politics. But it doesn’t jive with my personal experience for the week, so I’m not posting it.

This week has been long.

I’m growing tired of so much change in my life, and yet this week just piled on more: new boundaries to my conception of time thanks to the writing of Elliott Jaques, more layers to my understanding of the globalist cabal, the death by suicide of Kim Jong-Hyun of SM Entertainment (also YouTube’s algorithm keeps recommending me SHINee videos and it’s killing me) and changes at my workplace that will render me effectively isolated. I haven’t slept well. I’m tired.

But there’s good news. Reading between the lines of WordPress’ inflated pageview stats, a few real people have checked out Batfort this week. (Hi, people!)

Though I’m tired, I’m motivated.

So with that in mind, this is a photo of Jeff Bezos’ office when he was just starting out, in 1999.

I’m no Jeff Bezos, but we all have to start somewhere.

Older posts

© 2018 Batfort

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑