Mishel Ali Khan
can't be called just another metal band; instead it shows all the
tendencies of having deep meanings to their songs and the ability
to perform excellent accoustic music. Although the distortions are
never rare on Staind albums, it is the lyrics that stand out, with
some songs reflecting Aaron Lewis's (lead singer) troubled past and
some that really make the band stand up from the rest.
story began in the New England area when vocalist Aaron Lewis and
guitarist Mike Mushok met at a Christmas party in 1993. Mushok was
able to bring drummer Jon Wysocki into the fold, and Lewis' connection
with a bass player (now no longer with the band) completed the early
lineup. However establishing themselves took time, but if it weren't
for Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit, Lead Singer) they probably wouldn't have
made it to the bit stage.
23, 1997 was when it all paid off for the band with a show in Hartford,
Connecticut. Staind was all set to open for Limp Bizkit when Bizkit
singer Fred Durst raised a stink over cover art on Staind's self-released
CD. After a heated conversation over whether or not Staind were Satan
worshippers, Durst forcefully returned the disc to the band, and walked
away. 45 minutes later Durst was back, not to further the argument,
but to make sure he kept in contact with Staind. Blown away by their
live show, Durst exchanged phone numbers, and Staind were now on their
way. All they had to do was wait.
big break came after the band gave a tape of demo material they had
been working on, to Fred Durst. Durst loved it and after reworking
the new material and a successful live show, Durst contacted the head
of Flip Records, and arranged a meeting for Staind with the label.
This is where they hit the big stage and they began work on their
first album, Dysfunction. The album was produced by Terry Date (Deftones,
Pantera, Soundgarden), and was released April '99 marking the start
of the journey for Staind.
Lewis, writing about what's real is a lesson in full emotional disclosure.
Dysfunction, doesn't paint a much brighter picture, though it finds
Lewis pointing his poisoned rage at the causes of his anguish: "I
guess my mother never loved my dad/ And now I wear it on my sleeve,"
he sings in "Me," and the hidden track "Excess Baggage"
sharpens the blame to a point: "I can't seem to erase all the
scars I have lived with."
anchored by Lewis' emotionally dark lyrics, Break the Cycle, which
debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart could be construed
as the third chapter of Staind's self-help discography. Where Tormented
(their first self-released album which never took off) exposes the
symptoms plaguing the singer's unstable inner health and Dysfunction
pinpoints their sources, Break the Cycle provides a diagnosis and
a path toward recovery.
more of a glimmer of hope on this record than there was in Dysfunction
and especially Tormented," Mushok states. And indeed Break the
Cycle was different- with tracks such as 'Its been a while' and 'Outside',
the album displays the bands talent to the fullest. With somber tunes
from these two songs, it was a big change from the nu-metal flag waver
style of the other songs. They brought in a new dimension to their
music and this is what brought them more success. Mushok had a six-year
relationship with the acoustic guitar before even owning an electric
one, and Lewis always writes acoustically, removing Staind from the
crop of rock bands whose mainstream success comes on the heels of
an uncharacteristic ballad.
is modestly curt when it comes to talking about his songwriting, ironic
considering he bares warts and all in song. His voice descends to
a bashful mumble when pressed to elaborate on his talent, and an awkward
silence usually follows. He directs most queries to what's evident
from the songs themselves: Staind resonates with anguished adolescents
because Lewis speaks from experience.
mellower songs on the records are normally brought in by lead singer
Lewis. Lewis writes on acoustic and that's how he's always written
songs. Mike is normally the heavy riff-master and brings the metal
side of it to Staind.
not to say that Break the Cycle is all airy strumming and sensitive
crooning. "Suffer" is a good old metal stomp cut with a
melodic bridge, and "Pressure" swells with chunky tension
before melting into a chorus of cascading noise.
much-anticipated new album 14 Shades Of Grey, was also a success but
not as wide a hit as Break the Cycle. 14 Shades Of Grey was produced
by Josh Abraham and mixed by Andy Wallace, both of whom did the same
honors for Break The Cycle. The album shows that the band still has
a lot to offer to the music scene and makes us all wonder when the
next album's going to be out.
chart-topping international success, more than eight million in album
sales and critical accolades, Staind singer Aaron Lewis, guitarist
Mike Mushok, bassist Johnny April and drummer Jon Wysocki--are leaving
an indelible mark on the contemporary music scene.
how to propose to a girl by saying the lines top a dog can only get
you a face full of dog breath. Well, that's exactly what happens in
this movie where Jerry (Cuba Gooding) is going through his lines before
"The Moment". Jerry takes Felicia (Vivica A. Fox) up on
a hot air balloon to create a setting for "the Moment".
Of course throwing up on the girl just as you are about to pop the
question is not the best way to start thanks to Jerry's motion sickness.
A girl in love may have been able to overlook the stench and gooey
mess to accept the marriage proposal but this girl is interested in
someone else. She finds the guy who works on her BMW to be more of
a turn on.
we cue to several months later where Jerry is still mooning over his
lost, rejected love. Jerry's best friend Nick (Horatio Sanz) Suggests
they go on a singles boat cruise so they can meet other women. Everything
would have gone smoothly except Nick insults a guy in a parking lot
who just happens to be their travel agent. Hence they are all set
for a romantic cruise on the ocean on a gay cruise. Revenge can be
and nick get on a boat where all they notice are lots of guys walking
around. Could it be that the women are in the cabins busy unpacking?
It's only after the boat sets off that they realize what predicament
they have fallen into. Basically the straight men have to fit in with
the gay men. Desperately Nick notices a helicopter at night and shoots
a flare to signal that he needs to be rescued. Unfortunately or rather
fortunately the flare manages to shoot down the helicopter which is
full of Norwegian beauties travelling for a tanning contest. Is there
any such thing? Nick is happy applying lotion on the girls except
for the irritating Norwegian "tanning" coach. Jerry on the
other hand meets Gabriella (Roselyn Sanche), a dance instructor who
is on the boat because she is tired of having gone through a series
of jerk boyfriends.
likes Jerry because he is not a typical guy who she feels will simply
want to get her into bed. So Jerry has to pretend to be gay. Its a
bit of a twist like in the movies where the guy has to pretend to
be a female to be close to the girl that he likes. In the meantime
the ex-girlfriend finds out that her BMW mechanic is more in love
with the car than her. So Felicia is out looking for Jerry. Al this
leads to a showdown amidst a lot of gay jokes and situation comedies.
movie is very predictable at times. You can see some of the jokes
and gags coming your way. Despite that it is still somewhat enjoyable.
It does not offer anything new to the comedy genre but it comes up
with a few laughs. Problem is most of the times you know what will
happen even before the scene comes up.
The Political Machine
A fun, thinking person's game,
if you have a taste for politics. Who wouldn't want to pit Arnold
Schwarzenegger against Hilary Clinton?
the US and the rest of the world are keenly watching the Election
Warfare in the US, things are getting more and more exciting. This
excitement must have some enticing aspects because Ubisoft, sensing
a good market, has developed and released and game (in only 77 days)
that lets you take the matters in your own hands.
The Political Machine lets gamers
who are so inclined become a king or queen maker. Developer Stardock
has put together a game that lets you be the campaign manager for
either a Democratic or Republican candidate for the American Presidency.
You are on the front lines of political
warfare. Believe me, warfare is exactly what you have to engage in
to win. You have to decide how your candidate will deal with controversial
topics like the war in Iraq, the war on terror, tax cuts, off-shore
oil drilling, job creation, abortion and more.
Should your candidate do well, he
or she will enjoy a boost in popularity. Obviously, if your candidate
gives wacko responses to questions they'll suffer the opposite fate.
It's important, then, to know your candidate and spoon-feed them rock
solid answers that fit their attitude and agenda.
In a particularly tough campaign --
and all of your campaigns will be tough, unless you're playing in
the cakewalk mode -- you will find it helpful in key states to hire
political operatives. There are several types of political operatives,
including some that do good things for your candidate, and some that
do naughty things to your opponent: consultants, smear merchants,
spin doctors, webmasters, PR men, intimidators and fixers. The latter
is akin to having your own personal hit man. If placed into a state
where the opposing candidate has multiple operatives, the fixer will
randomly select one and eliminate him.
Is this shocking? It really doesn't
matter. It's rough out there, the stakes are high, and to win against
a tough opponent you may have to adopt a "take no prisoners"
You select a candidate from a lengthy
list of possibilities, some with their real names, and others with
names that are similar to real public figures. Each presidential and
vice presidential candidate has a unique set of personal strengths
and weaknesses sorted into thirteen common categories such as physical
attractiveness, religiosity, fundraising ability, appeal to minorities,
intelligence, military experience, etc.
It's important to know your candidate's
characteristics in order to best position him or her for victory.
For example, a candidate with weak fund-raising ability might have
to spend more time and money trying to do this than a candidate who
is strong in this area.
By now you've figured out that The
Political Machine is a strategy game. In fact, it's a sort of turn-based
strategy game (except in multiplayer). Most of the game play occurs
on a big map of the United States. Using the mouse, you can click
on any state in the country to learn key information including the
number of winnable electoral votes in that state.
then send your candidate around the country, state-by-state, and have
them give speeches on a variety of key topics, place political ads
to boost their case, or blast your opponent in the newspaper, radio
or TV, or conduct fundraising. You can decide to build campaign headquarters
in a state or build "political capital," which is used to
secure endorsements from key national organizations or hire political
The campaign simulates 41 weeks. One
week passes after both candidates take a turn. In each turn you have
a certain amount of stamina and money. Everything you and your candidate
undertake during a turn depletes both assets. You need a minimum amount
of both to fly your presidential or vice presidential candidate to
another state. Run out of the minimum required amount near the end
of the campaign and you can find your candidate stuck in Alaska, literally,
for a few weeks.
During the campaign, miscellaneous
political events take place that can help your candidate sink or swim.
You have to watch out for them and, if possible, use them to your
advantage. The negative political events can drain your candidate's
stamina points, so be careful.
For example, appearing unexpectedly
in a state your candidate is in or will visit are scandal mongerers,
Hollywood friends, hecklers, money men, war heroes, cheerleaders and
even jaded ex-consultants who go on TV and hurt your candidate badly
by criticizing his or her every move. There are also various kooks,
media darlings and even move producers.
The bottom line is keep your head
up, eyes open and ears cocked for bumps in the road. I still haven't
figured out how to handle most of these problems effectively.
In real life and in The Political
Machine, winning the presidency requires the accumulation of at least
270 electoral votes (out of 538). Each state is allocated a number
of electoral votes or "electors" equal to the number of
its U.S. Senators plus the number of its U.S. Representatives. While
every state has exactly two U.S. Senators, the greater a state's population
the more U.S. Representatives it will have. California, then, has
more electoral votes than Kansas.
The candidate who wins a state's popular
vote normally receives all of that state's electoral votes. This system
will, however, on occasion produce odd results, as it did in 2000
when the real George W. Bush won the presidency via the Electoral
College despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore by a half-million
people. The same weird outcome can be achieved in the game. I won
one election with my candidate, Bill Clinton, despite losing the popular
vote by a whopping four million people!
wise campaign manager, then, will focus his or her candidate on winning
electoral votes and not worry about winning the most states. You must
know or quickly acquire an understanding of which states tend to swing
toward your party. For example, California is typically a must-win
state for Democrats. For Republicans, Texas is usually a must-win
state. You can win without taking those states but it will be more
difficult. So be careful how and where you spend money. Don't waste
The Political Machine plays for the
most part very realistically. Win the endorsement of the gun lobby
and your candidate will experience a boost in popularity in Southern
and Midwestern states because they tend to be pro-gun ownership. Of
course such an endorsement could have the opposite effect on voters
in places like California and New York. But if your party isn't well
regarded in those states then perhaps you don't care.
This game will probably not be all
that interesting to gamers enthralled by Doom 3. That's only a guess,
but I'm sticking with it. Political junkies, especially political
junkies who happen to be gamers, should love The Political Machine.
If you have no interest in politics American style, you'll probably
want to take a pass, but you'll miss an often exciting game play experience.
The Political Machine will not be
every gamer's cup of tea. I'm something of a political junkie, so
I find it fascinating to manage a simulated campaign for the U.S.
presidency and do so in a game environment that is fairly realistic
and fun. The big unknown, however, is this: Will it still be fun after