Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ghost of Christmas Passed

The cousins and aunts and uncles having departed, the leftovers having been stowed, the gifts having been (largely) sorted, it looks a though another Christmas is behind us.  And us much as I enjoyed it, as grand as the company was, that's naught but a good thing from my perspective.

With Fenya entering Junior high this year, both girls doubling their rehearsals for choir and Irish dance, and me becoming chair of church council, 2010 carried the busiest fall I can ever recall.  Christmas seemed to swoop in from over my shoulder like a stooping hawk, on me before I really knew what was happening.  Work potlucks, helping to arrange cocoa for after the Christmas services and rehearsing for the pageant, getting the house ready for Audrey's sister and her family; I'm frankly stunned I remembered to get all my shopping done.

The relatives came Thursday night, and my sister and her beau and his son came over for Christmas Eve.  The Fitzpatrick side each opened one gift, as per the tradition (at least in my family; in Audrey's childhood, all the gifts were opened on Christmas Eve, since their church services were on Christmas morning).  We shared a table full of finger food before heading off to the 7:00 service together and although I had my concerns about the church pageant (with Audrey and I guest starring in addition Fenya's larger roles), but it all went fine in the end.

Audrey is in the choir and since she was singing in the 9:00 service, elected to say and serve the hot chocolate along with her sister Betty, which I thought was awfully decent of them.  By the time they returned, the younger children had been put to bed (although nowhere near asleep, obviously), and after helping us arrange Santa's cookies and milk as well the carrots in wooden shoes for his reindeer, the older kids toddled off as well.

The next morning went just the same as Christmas mornings always seemed to go in my childhood; full of anticipation and yet over before you knew it.  Everyone was grateful for what they received and gratified for what they gave.

After everything was opened and the holiday phone calls made, we were well behind schedule on starting dinner, which was to comprise of both a turkey AND a brobdignabian ham, and the things got even more complicated.  "I thought the ham was at least partially cooked," I confessed to Audrey.  "It's totally not, and at 20 min per pound, we are looking at serving him up around 8:00."  The irony of having listened to Stuart McLean read "Dave Cooks the Turkey" not 16 hours previously was not lost upon me, and I frantically scoured my brain for alternatives.  The turkey by itself would be woefully insufficient to feed 9 hungry people, and every other cut of meat in the house was frozen solid, whereas at least the ham was thawed.

"Let's switch 'em up," suggested Audrey.  "Cook the ham in the oven instead of the turkey, and we'll do the turkey in the barbecue.  If we cook them both in those Look bags, that should shave off some time, right?"  The bags she referred to have been our sole method of cooking turkey for years now, since we started cooking our own turkeys, and my mom's choice for as far back as I can remember.  It keeps steam around the bird to cook it faster and juicier, but allows enough radiant heat in to turn the skin nice and crisp, and I can't recommend it highly enough for that purpose.  However, we had never cooked a ham in one before, and Christmas day is hardly the ideal venue for experimentation on this scale.  After some quick and frankly dubious interweb research seemed to back up Audrey's position, we decided we had nothing to lose, and fired up the barbecue and got the bags ready.  I had a glaze ready for when the ham was finished, but the recipe I had read suggested that a cup of liquid was needed in the bag, such as fruit juice or wine.

"I've still got a bottle of McNally's Winter Spice Ale downstairs in the fridge," I told Audrey.  "It's got cloves, cinnamon and ginger in it as well as being 6% alcohol."  She nodded her assent and the libation was dutifully sacrificed.  Man, if this works, I thought to myself, I am gonna need to write this one down. 

Well, it did, and I am.  The ham turned out great, and the brown sugar and spiced rum glaze with black pepper capped it off nicely.  The turkey had a harder time of it, as our zeal to make up lost time had us overheat the barbecue and melt the Look bag completely, which looked horrific but was easily rectified.   It had cooked for almost an hour at that point, so removing the charred remnants of the mylar bag and replacing it with foil seemed to work just fine.

Wii games, conversation and Audrey's new 12 hour Christmas music playlist carried us late into the night, and when we dragged ourselves out of bed this morning, the Klooster family swung into high gear with their packing and van-loading.  I knew they had be in Rocky Mountain House that night since Betty was working early the next day, but I had really hoped for some more time with my nieces and nephew.  I needn't have worried; Betty had made an orderly preparation and departure a condition for going sledding prior to the trip home, so after a ham, egg and potato casserole from the crock pot (Sleeping in and having a hot breakfast? Sold!) we were off to Government House Park in the River Valley.

I've always thought of sledding as the poor man's ski trip, and it was a great day for it: very mild, with almost no wind to speak of, so everyone had a great time.

It also gave us a chance to test out the waterproof camcorder Santa had left in Audrey's stocking, with Glory operating the camera from my back as we plummeted downhill:

Clearly, the gap between Steadicam and Stevicam is fairly significant.  Far better results are obtained when operating as a witness rather than participant:

Parting was hard, but made better because we had shared some fresh air and inertia together, so everyone was all smiles when we left the hill.

But even though it was a lot of fun and I was genuinely sad to see them go, it feels good to be at a point of zero anticipation for what feels like the first time since September. Sure, we still have things to do and people to see, but at a much more reasonable pace.

I don't go back to work until January the 4th, the longest break at Christmastime I have had since Audrey and I got married.  What I am most looking forward to is doing a whole lot of nothing with my wife and daughters, and just seeing what happens.

All the best to you and yours over these holidays, and may the New Year bring you as many blessings as you are able to comfortably manage.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

1.8 Decades Later

I am finding this a hard post to write.  This blog is about things that are important to me, big and small, significant and trivial, personal and public.  I've written about my friends and my family, especially my two daughters, but I haven't written very much about my wife, Audrey, and that strikes me as an oversight that demands correction.

Not a day goes by that I don't realize exactly how lucky I am to have Audrey in my life, and to have shared my life with her for two decades now.  I've never been much of a salesman, but the best pitch I ever made in my life was back in university, when our relationship first took a turn towards the intimate and she was worried about damaging the friendship we had already forged.

"A lot of people like to use the term 'just friends' to describe a relationship with someone, especially a 'nice guy' that girls don't necessarily see 'that' way."  I told her.   "We've heard it so many times, my nice guy friends and I have abbreviated it 'JF' and call the little dance around it 'The Juliet Foxtrot'.  And there are two things that bug me about it: first, that it makes friendship out to be a consolation prize for a romantic relationship, and secondly, that it's dishonest."

"What do you mean?"  Audrey asked.

"I mean, it normally has very little to do with friendship, and everything to do with a lack of attraction, at least at that point in time.  You and I have been friends for a while, and that isn't going to change.  How can anyone expect to be in a relationship with someone without being friends first?  Isn't that why people break up, because they have passion but can't relate to each other without it?"

"Mmmaybe..." she agreed hesitantly.

"We already have the best foundation for a relationship because we are friends," I continued.  "We wouldn't do anything to intentionally hurt each other, so why wouldn't we explore things a little further, at our own pace?"

That was in November of 1990; two years later we were married.  In fact, it was 18 years ago today.  Fenya and Glory take up so much of our lives' bandwidth now that it is hard to imagine life without them, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, if you know my wife, you already know that she is awesome, but you may not know precisely why.  There are a lot of reasons, and I discover new ones from time to time, but an anniversary seems like a grand opportunity to document them for posterity.

London tube steak - September 2005

Helpful - I don't think of myself as a lazy person, per se, but I do when I compare myself to my wife.  She is truly the ant to my grasshopper, and in addition to managing most of our household on a daily basis, she is always one of the first to volunteer when there is something that needs doing at work, church, school or elsewhere.

Creative - Audrey thinks I am more creative than her just because my imagination is maybe more vivid (or perhaps just unrestrained), but she puts together things like a 'Spooky Spa' for Fenya's birthday that I wouldn't think of in a million years.  She is also a gifted gifter, picking thoughtful and insightful presents for family and acquaintances that make the recipients feel truly appreciated.

Humorous - Let's face it; with me as a husband, a sense of humor is not so much an option as it is a coping mechanism, but Audrey's appreciation for the absurd, funny turns of phrase, and the occasional bit of slapstick makes our house a happy one.  The girls seem to come by it naturally enough as well, for which I am very grateful.

Historical - Audrey shares my appreciation for what has gone before, from historical events to the ways in which people lived in other times.  When the movie 'Alexander' came out to almost universally bad reviews, her response was "Critics, schmitics; I just want to go for the elephants."

My 40th birthday - May 2007
Practical - I try to run my plans past Audrey before I commit to them,n because she can usually be counted on to point out some combination of tasks or an order of execution which is sure to save me some time.  She even brings this attitude when we are watching movies: when a character strikes out from a crashed plane or some such, she will be the one shaking her head and saying "They're going to regret not filling those little liquor bottles with water."

Tough - This extends to both the physical and emotional definitions of this word.  Following an accident on the family farm, she and her sister Vera had to look for two of the severed fingers of a hired man, and after finding them, Vera drove while Audrey held them on her lap, wrapped in a bag of frozen peas.  This is not a woman who shies away from stuff just because it has an ick factor.

Banff - August 2010
Compassionate - Audrey works as a Special Needs Teaching Assistant at a K-9 school with a lot of issues. An economically depressed area, under-educated parents, new Canadians from Asia and Africa with challenges both cultural and meteorological ("What do you mean you don't own any boots?"), and kids who have to deal with single parent homes, gangs, crime, drug use or violence in their homes, or just the knowledge that if their parents were not legally obliged to care for them, they probably wouldn't. It is a cold, hard, natural fact that if it was not for the love that Audrey brings the children she encounters on a daily basis, many of these kids would go without. And not just love, but responsibility, expectation, firmness and accountability. I hope she is able to stay at this school for a while, and not just for her own sake.

In a life full of many blessings, Audrey is the greatest one of all.  I am honoured to be her husband, and proud to have her as my wife for these 18 years.  Happy anniversary, baby.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Third-Hand Information

In the novel "The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, we are introduced to an alien race with three arms.  In the sequel, some people explain alternate perspectives or choices with the familiar adage, "on the other hand," but often continue with a third option, saying, "on the gripping hand, however...".  This just about sums up my feelings on WikiLeaks.

I'm a strong believer in confidentiality as well as freedom of information, at least generally.  On the one hand, I believe that those who work in sensitive areas like security or diplomacy should be able to speak openly with their colleagues, especially when that colleague has signed a non-disclosure agreement or taken an oath to respect that confidence.

On the other hand, there are whistles that need to be blown, and the people blowing them should be entitled to protection from reprisal.   Unscrupulous types cannot be allowed to abuse confidentiality in order to do something illegal, immoral, or contrary to stated policy.

On the gripping hand , however, is the murky question of motivation.  Am I wrong to feel that someone who exposes classified diplomatic communiques solely to embarrass their superiors should not be entitled to the same protection as the individual who exposes something widely regarded as a war crime?  And what if they are the same person?

The city of Berkeley, California, is considering a motion that would proclaim WikiLeaker Pfc. Bradley Manning a hero.  Berkeley is probably the most overtly and proudly liberal community in North America, and their opposition to most military ventures is a matter of public record (they recently tried to ban recruiters for the U.S. Marine Corps as "unwanted intruders"), so their support of a soldier exposing a cover-up of a Reuters photographer being shot along with 10 others by an Apache helicopter is both predictable and laudable.  But Pfc. Manning did a lot more than this; he uploaded more than 260,000 diplomatic cables and 90,000 intelligence reports on the war in Afghanistan.

Manning's rationale appears to portray someone more interested in spite than altruism; he says the leaks explain "how “how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective,”  and expresses how he wanted to change things.  However, he also writes:

“Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public.”

“Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format. It’s beautiful and horrifying.”
To be fair, it's easy to be sympathetic to this guy; being gay could make for a brutal adolescence in rural Oklahoma, and the army's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding sexual orientation is certainly no picnic either, but his personal situation doesn't preclude him from the consequences of his actions.  Exposing covered-up deaths with a leaked video is one thing, and even without taking WikiLeaks into consideration, he should be protected from reprisals for pursuing justice, but what was the purpose behind leaking the diplomatic material, other than creating chaos and embarrassment for his own government, as well as those of other countries?  Frustration? Idealism? Vanity?

Pfc. Manning has been quoted as saying "“Information should be free … It belongs in the public domain.”  Clearly not all of it does, but exactly where the line gets drawn is subject to much debate and discourse.  I think we can all agree that operational information that could jeopardize the lives of those in the field, whether they are soldiers or undercover police officers, is better off being held close to the vest, but even that demarcation is subjective, especially to the U.S. armed forces.

Look at it through the lens of another sci-fi concept: telepathy.  It's easy to assume that the ability to read the minds of others would be the cat's pyjamas, and in old comic books and children's stories, it often is.  But more mature perspectives talk about the horror of facing the unfiltered thoughts and emotions of others, or how there can be no privacy when your thoughts are not your own.  I know I wouldn't want my thought bubbles being read by people who ask me, "Which parent do you love more?" , or "What do you think of the boss's new plan?" or even, "Do these pants make me look fat?"  Living in a glass house while wearing the Emperor's new clothes is a bad combination for all but the most forthright and confident individuals, and besides, you can play poker with everyone's cards face-up on the table, but it isn't much of a game, is it?

WikiLeaks has released quite a bit of 'sensitive' diplomatic information over the past few weeks, and the net effect appears to be a global epidemic of noses being put out of joint.  Regardless of the validity or source of this information, what greater purpose does it serve?  Are we really better off knowing how this leader personally feels about this diplomat or that head of state?  If they made those statements in confidence, shouldn't that confidence be upheld unless there is compelling reason to do otherwise?  Don't people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace, even if they are politicians and diplomats?

 The sad truth of the matter is this: no matter what the promises are of anonymity or protection, whistleblowers need to consider the very real possibility that they may end up called to account for their actions, and that their motivations will affect how their actions are perceived.  Judgment is going to come into play at several junctures, beginning with the decision of the leaker to forward the information, and then again for the broadcaster.  With a traditional news outlet like a newspaper or television station, we might ask an editor, "what makes it newsworthy?', but in the case of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange appears to be the one making that call, and a lot of what is being released is pretty much gossip.

I am not ready to call the founder of WikiLeaks a devil; we owe him too much but I am not ready to call him a folk hero either, and the same goes for the troubled Pfc. Manning, who now faces a court martial and the possibility of up to 52 years in jail.  So, on the one hand, more information can be a good thing.  On the other hand, too much of any good thing is usually a bad thing.  And on the gripping hand, I hope the people making these decisions regarding confidential information that they have the power to disseminate, are taking their own motivations and goals into consideration.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Here Comes the Cavalry

Despite painting tanks for the past few months,  cavalry has been much on my mind of late. I have found the strong WWII Russian theme of my Valhallan 40K army to have been a real inspiration and motivator in terms of actually getting my painting done, and suggested to my comrade Island Mike that he should find a similar theme for his side of our mighty Imperial Guard army.

In the first episode of AMC's zombie series "The Walking Dead", the main character awakens from a coma in a hospital, and after making his way outdoors, climbs a small berm to see precisely how the world has gone to serious hell. He views a post-apocalyptic tableau of shattered buildings, burned out cars and tanks, sandbagged emplacements, and a helicopter. The helicopter's nose bears the crossed sabres emblematic of the U.S. Cavalry and adopted by various 'air-cavalry' regiments, and also appropriated by Alberta musician Corb Lund to promote his album "Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!"  I think this is the first time I have seen them on a non-Vietnam era helicopter.

I know Mike to be fan of both Corb Lund and the logo, as he bought the t-shirt shortly after I introduced him to the album. He had also talked a couple of times about making his force airmobile using the new Valkyrie Assault Carrier model, so I e-mailed him and suggested he consider doing an Air Cav themed army. Using Catachan Jungle Fighters for troops and decorating his vehicles with those crossed sabres (or perhaps crossed chainswords would be more fitting for 40K). He thought the idea had merit, and I look forward to seeing the results once he claws some time back from his various responsibilities.

With its reputation for gallantry and guarantee of arriving in time to save the day in countless western movies, the cavalry have always been an evocative branch of the military, from the original horse soldiers, through the helicopter troops in Vietnam, to Edmonton's own Lord Strathcona's Light Horse tank regiment.

The U.S. Cavalry's distinctive yellow scarf often reminds me of Robert Duvall's character Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now and his "Charlie don't surf!" bravado, but I'll always have a soft spot for the men in John Ford's great 'Cavalry Trilogy' of Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande. Even though I count myself a fan of John Wayne, I can't really call him a great actor, but no one got better stuff out of Duke than John Ford, even when he is really playing second fiddle to Henry Fonda and character actor Victor McLaglen in this scene from Fort Apache:

It guts me that they cut this scene just before McLaglen, having been ordered to get rid of the whiskey, finds two more cups, hands them to the other sergeants and says, "It's a man's work ahead of us lads, and no mistake," but it's still wonderful stuff, and 'pour me some scripture' is definitely going into my lexicon. Fonda's Colonel Thursday epitomizes both the best and the worst of the cavalry of this period: forthright, responsible and brave, but also inflexible, closed-minded and bigoted. John Wayne's Capt.York, with his appreciation for the skill and courage of the Apache, makes a great counterpoint to his commanding officer.

Ward Bond (the village priest from The Quiet Man, another Ford classic), also gets some great material, as this dialogue reveals:

Lt. Col. Thursday: This Lt. O'Rourke - are you by chance related?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: Not by chance, sir, by blood. He's my son.
Lt. Col. Thursday: I see. How did he happen to get into West Point?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: It happened by presidential appointment, sir
Lt. Col. Thursday: Are you a former officer, O'Rourke?
RSM Michael O'Rourke: During the war, I was a major in the 69th New York regiment... The Irish Brigade, sir.
Lt. Col. Thursday: Still, it's been my impression that presidential appointments were restricted to sons of holders of the Medal of Honor.
RSM Michael O'Rourke: That is my impression, too, sir. Will that be all, sir?

It's one thing to ride in a helicopter or to crew a tank, but not everyone who does so gets to call themselves cavalry. Cavalry units carry a connotation of speed both tactical and strategic, as well as tremendous striking power; being 'fastest with the mostest' as Nathan Bedford Forrest put it. Thousands of years have passed since mounted soldiers first appeared, (possibly creating the legend of centaurs as they rode against infantry and chariots), and the word cavalry still holds allure, and is protected by those who bear it. Cavalry never rests, never secures, never defends; cavalry charges, with or without bugles.

I hope Mike gets an opportunity to putty some yellow scarves on his Ogryn squad if he gets the chance, and I am trying trying to figure out how to fake up a 28mm stetson like Col. Kilgore's for his platoon commander. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm jealous of Mike's theme, even if it does have cooler modeling potential, but, yeah, I wanna be in the cavalry...who doesn't?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Test your Metal

After having encountered Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" on Rock Band, both my girls had asked on a number of occasions, "why don't we own this song?"  A reasonable question, really, and as I did not have a reasonable answer, I took it upon myself to pick up their 'best of' album, Somewhere Back In Time the next time I was at HMV and found it in the 2 for $20 rack.

Strangely, I never gave much thought to Iron Maiden in high school when their breakout album Number of the Beast came out.  It was years afterwards that someone pointed out the dubious logic of judging a band by the quality of the people in high school who wore their t-shirts, something you thought I would have learned after Led Zeppelin, but there you go.  Island Mike pointed out that not only did lead singer Bruce Dickinson bring some seriously operatic vocal chops to the scene, but not a lot of dummies or sell outs would record a thirteen minute musical adaptation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner".  The album also opens with bits of Churchill's speech about the Battle of Britain as a lead in to "Aces High", which certainly appeals to me as a history buff.

Maiden has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years due largely to their reputation for epic live shows, but is also gaining a new generation of younger fans through their concert DVDs like Rock In Rio or the more recent Flight 666.  With much of their back catalogue unavailable, they put together Somewhere Back in Time as a sort of primer of the band's older material, including both live and studio material, and placing it in the order you could expect to see them in at a concert.  It's pretty savvy, and a great collection with all the lyrics to the songs and some good liner notes to boot; I highly recommend it.

A little later in the week, I had this album in the CD player along with Led Zeppelin and Dragonforce, and mentioned to the girls that these groups were all considered to be heavy metal bands, even though they didn't sound very much alike.  I don't suppose that metal is any different any other form of musical categorization: Louis Armstong, Miles Davis, and Michael Buble are all jazz musicians; Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Jack White are all regarded to be rock musicians.  At the end of the day, these labels shouldn't be proscriptive, they are just a handy form of shorthand, to help lead you to similar sounds from different players.  With heavy metal now believed to encompass over a dozen different sub-genres (including power metal, speed metal, black metal and death metal), two people can call themselves metal fans and not enjoy the same music.  They aren't too unlike Christians in that regard, I suppose, eh?

I'm too big a fan of old-timey musical concepts like harmony and melody to be a supporter of  the darker end of the metal spectrum.  My tastes lean more toward power metal bands like Rhapsody of Fire, and their symphonic and folky sound, but the technical virtuosity of Herman Li and Sam Totman in Dragonforce has a lot of appeal to me as well.  The fact that they both use talented vocalists as opposed to screamers and populate their lyrics with fantasy themes is just icing on the cake.

At the Dragonforce show I attended two years ago, Pete and I both took note of a number of people wearing t-shirts of a band called Sonata Arctica, and both commented on the coolness of their logo.  I didn't give them much more thought until about a week ago when their album Reckoning Night showed up in the 'check it out' bin at the library.  Since I did indeed want to check them out, I, uh... checked it out.

On the first listen, I have to say nothing really leapt out at me, and I said as much to Fenya.  On the second and third go-around, a couple of tracks began to distinguish themselves on the chorus, and after that there were definitely discernible head motions of a rhythmic nature going on.

Sonata Arctica is five piece band: drums, bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards.  I love the peanut butter counterpoint between crunchy guitars and creamy keyboard, so this is a good fit for me.  Overall, I would describe their sound as the bastard offspring of Dragonforce and Trans Siberian Orchestra as raised by vikings, but if you enjoy Iron Maiden, the Scorpions or even Queen or Rush, I figure the odds of you liking Sonata Arctica are at least 50/50.

Having enjoyed Reckoning Night as much as I did, the next step was to get another couple of albums from the library to see if the first taste was a fluke or an aberration.  One of these, For the Sake of Revenge, is a 2006 live album and DVD recorded in Tokyo, with a good sampling of music from their first four albums.

Make no mistake, these guys are not Muse or Iron Maiden; they are a 'working class' metal band from Finland and do not bring a lot of extreme production values to the table.  Their patter is also a little stilted, but hey, they are a bunch of Finns speaking English in Japan, so kudos just for being understood, I say.  It is certainly evident that they are well-loved in the land of the Rising Sun; hands stay up for most of the concert, and the crowd sings along for a good part of the show.  We've played the concert all the way through twice now, and it is really good stuff.  Sonata Arctica lack the commitment to fantasy of Rhapsody of Fire and are nowhere near as proficient as Dragonforce, but lead singer Tony Kakko has a tremendous range, and his voice is clear and powerful.  He is also casual and friendly between songs, while keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg comes off as little creepy and pretentious, but no less talented.  Some of my favourite tracks are the slower but still powerful ones like "Shamandalie" and "White Pearl, Black Oceans", which feature prominent synthesizer or piano parts.

And yeah, if I am going to sing along with your chorus, it's nice if it has a sentiment I share, even if it isn't too deep, like my current favourite, "Don't Say a Word":

Mother always said "my son, do the noble thing..."
You have to finish what you started, no matter what,
Now, sit, watch and learn...
"It's not how long you live, but what your morals say"
Cannot keep your part of the deal
So don't say a word... don't say a word
Fenya and Glory have already made me promise to take them to see the band if they return to Edmonton at an all ages venue; they were last here in 2009, so I hope they don't wait too long to return.  In the meantime, I'm hoping a few of their tracks turn up for Rock Band; I think they would be a lot of fun to play.