Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Philosophy for Life

Springsteen has a song for every mood I've ever had. Sadness, joy, fear, anger...there is a tune in the catalog that speaks to me. That said there is one track that, the first time I ever heard it, lifted me up and spoke to me. It whispered in my ear. "you can be of worth, and still not give yourself up."

I often think...ah, hell...I know that I am a fake. I struggle to stand apart, and to put myself forward as a person of worth, a person of quality, a person of creative energy....

I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said, "Sit down," I stood u

Someone who can be counted upon, who will come through when the chips are down. Who would take the opportunites given to myself and run with them, yet...I haven't always.

I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said, "Come down," I threw up

But what this song reminds me of is that life is about finding the balance that gives you the room to reach, the space to dream, and the mind and soul to harness all that effectively.

In my mind it is his masterpiece, and this is the best recorded version of it, in my mind.


Growin' Up
by Bruce Springsteen

I stood stone-like at midnight, suspended in my masquerade
I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and come out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said, "Sit down," I stood up
Ooh... growin' up

The flag of piracy flew from my mast, my sails were set wing to wing
I had a jukebox graduate for first mate, she couldn't sail but she sure could sing
I pushed B-52 and bombed them with the blues with my gear set stubborn on standing
I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, never once gave thought to landing
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said, "Come down," I threw up
Ooh... growin' up

I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere, and you know it's really hard to hold your breath
I swear I lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid in full costume dress
Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, but I got me a nice little place in the stars
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the mother breast of the crowd, but when they said, "Pull down," I pulled up
Ooh... growin' up
Ooh... growin' up

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Song for Today - We Just Disagree

We Just Disagree
Written by Jim Krueger
Performed by Dave Mason
Been away, haven't seen you in a while.
How've you been? Have you changed your style?
And do you think that we've grown up differently?
Don't seem the same since you've lost your feel for me.

So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy,
There's only you and me and we just disagree.
Ooh-ooh-ooh, oh-oh-oh.

I'm going back to a place that's far away.
How 'bout you? Have you got a place to stay?
Why should I care when I'm just trying to get along?
We were friends, but now's the end of our love song.

So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy,
There's only you and me and we just disagree.
Ooh-ooh-ooh, oh-oh-oh.

So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy,
There's only you and me and we just disagree.
Ooh-ooh-ooh, oh-oh, oh-oh-oh.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stuck in My Head 11.25.2014 - The Promised Land


The Promised Land
by Bruce Springsteen

On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert
I pick up my money and head back into town
Driving cross the Waynesboro county line
I got the radio on and I'm just killing time
Working all day in my daddy's garage
Driving all night, chasing some mirage
Pretty soon little girl I'm gonna take charge.

The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand,
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man,
And I believe in a promised land.

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start

The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand,
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man,
And I believe in a promised land.

There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand,
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man,
And I believe in a promised land
I believe in a promised land...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top Ten Films So Far in 2014

We still have a good month and a half of award-bait films coming, but...I was sitting here thinking about what I've seen so far this year. I've grown weary of continual negativity. I feel as if no one wants to talk about what they loved, but only harp, over and over again, upon what they didn't like.

Here, in not particular order (except for Calvary, which is utterly brilliant, and I have no doubt will top my end-of-year list), are the ones that immediately jump to mind. The ones that moved me the most, that made me laugh the most, thrilled me the most, and made me think the most:





Calvary
Life Itself
Locke
The Trip to Italy
Birdman
Interstellar
Alan Partridge: Alpha Pappa
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Gone Girl

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Few Things That I Have to Say

I hate politics, and I hate dipping my toe into the political. I have things I believe are right, and things I believe are wrong, and I tend not to talk about them, because I have friends on both sides of the line. I feel like a moderate, and that seems to piss everyone off.

Which, to me, just points out how damaged our country is. How obtuse and unwavering, how ignorant of any experience outside our own.

But, this MotherJones article brought up a lot of feelings in me. Conflicted feelings.

This picture has nothing to actually do with MotherJones' story
My grandmother lived in Broken Bow.
Two of my grandmothers died there.
My father is from there.
My parents lived there for a while.
I have a brother who lives there.
I have a sister who lives there.
I have many friends from there.
I lived there for a few years.

I understand this town, this area, to some extent. When I see people sharing this article, and venting their outrage, I cannot help but have some of the same feelings that I have when some people from the deep south (or, yes, Nebraska) talk about the "evils" of homosexuality. In essence, it's people with no actual frame of reference passing judgement on each other. Which really shouldn't surprise me.

First off, let's makes this clear...

I think this was a wrong policy move by the school board. In the light of recent events, I feel like connecting firearms with school is....foolish. I find it kind of unbelievable that no one in the community or on the school board questioned this. In a world where kids are shooting each other in schools, can't you see how bad this would look to the world? Even five minutes of reflection, or one person playing devil's advocate, might've shed some light in the cracks of judgement here. Especially in light of recent events.

But, here's the thing, the MotherJones article is inflammatory, inaccurate, and has no interest in actually investigating what is going on here. Only in getting people who would already be outraged more outraged. There are lapses of basic reporting that make it clear that not a single person at MotherJones was interested in actual journalism.

First example, knowing that people would just look at the picture, and not really read the article, they find the most inflammatory, and offensive in context picture from Shutterstock - a stock image website. It is false, it is a lie designed to manipulate you. Couple that, with the "article" that consists of reading the World-Herald article (which, for accuracy's sake is NOT the "local paper." Omaha is 230 miles from Broken Bow, and a simple Mapquest search would've cleared that up), and copy and pasting the most damning quotes. Inae Oh has no earthly idea what she is writing about, only that she is OUTRAGED, and wants to make the hillbillies in Nebraska look like Militia nutballs.

Many people I know, good and decent people with very real and very rational fears and problems with firearms, share this article without going any deeper. Many more are just seeing the picture and drawing a conclusion. Which is exactly what they want. MotherJones, Ms. Oh, you are not making the world better, you are not offering solutions, you are political muckrakers, you are Drudge, you are O'Riley, you are Limbaugh, and your only goal is to increase strife, argument and discord. To block understanding and mediation....because it makes you money.

Let's take a look at the World-Herald article.

Oh, look an ACTUAL example of the pictures in question
I'm immediately struck by this: "Amanda Gailey, director of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, said that as long as the photographs are being taken off campus and the photo sessions are supervised, it’s not a big concern for the group." Why? Because here we have a gun-control advocate who can actually relate to the community, and has some understanding of what is going on.

Guns are NOT being brought to school. Photos are NOT being taken on campus with firearms. It's a decision to allow privately-purchased senior photos, which are being taken anyway, to be published in the yearbook. Hunters and sports shooters pose with the tools of their chosen hobby, much in the way a football or basketball player might pose with a jersey or ball, or how I posed with movie posters and piles of my comics. Senior photos are an expression of who you are, and for a lot of kids in Broken Bow, hunting and shooting are big parts of their life.

Again, quoting the World-Herald; "Hunting, skeet and trap are popular in the community and firearms are common, (Broken Bow Schools Superintendent Mark) Sievering said. Broken Bow’s annual Nebraska One Box Pheasant Hunt draws hunters and celebrities from all over the country, he said." Yes, one of the major cultural events in Broken Bow is the One-Box Pheasant Hunt, which has drawn celebrities, politicians, even a significant number of astronauts to this tiny town of 3,500 people.

You do not have to agree with those community standards, but you also probably don't live there. I would posit that 99% of kids who would want a picture like this treat their guns with extreme respect and care. They've taken safety training, they've grown up using them, and they understand their deadly implications as much as any gun control advocate.

I do not feel this was a particularly good policy decision, and I strongly hope it will be reconsidered. There are so many questions and incredibly valid concerns about the proliferation of firearms in our society, and those questions need to be grappled with. That said, I am fundamentally for the idea of some kind of understanding of the context  before one makes judgements. I have been in Broken Bow, I have walked its streets, I know people who live there, I know hunters, I have hunted (granted, very, very little), and I feel I personally understand the difference between the reality, which is a kid who hunts wanting a picture with his 30-06 hunting rifle, and the fantasy narrative that MotherJones is trying to write, of hillbilly gangbangers being welcomed into the school packing heat.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Stuck In My Head - 10.24.2014 - Tumbling Dice/Bitch

Always...hands down...my favorite Stones song.


Tumbling Dice
by The Rolling Stones

Women think I'm tasty, but they're always tryin' to waste me
And make me burn the candle right down,
But baby, baby, I don't need no jewels in my crown.
'Cause all you women is low down gamblers,
Cheatin' like I don't know how,
But baby, baby, there's fever in the funk house now. 

This low down bitchin' got my poor feet a itchin',
You know you know the duece is still wild.
 

Baby, I can't stay, you got to roll me
And call me the tumblin' dice.
 

Always in a hurry, I never stop to worry,
Don't you see the time flashin' by.
Honey, got no money,
I'm all sixes and sevens and nines.
Say now, baby, I'm the rank outsider,
You can be my partner in crime.
 

But baby, I can't stay,
You got to roll me and call me the tumblin',
Roll me and call me the tumblin' dice.
 

Oh, my, my, my, I'm the lone crap shooter,
Playin' the field ev'ry night.
 

Baby, can't stay,
You got to roll me and call me the tumblin' (dice),
Roll me and call me the tumblin' (Got to roll me.) dice.
Got to roll me. Got to roll me. 


But, I'll admit...this one is a very close second


Bitch
by The Rolling Stones

Feeling so tired, can't understand it
Just had a fortnight's sleep
I'm feeling so tired, Ow! so distracted
Ain't touched a thing all week
I'm feeling drunk, juiced up and sloppy
Ain't touched a drink all night
I'm feeling hungry, can't see the reason
Just ate a horse meat pie
Yeah when you call my name
I salivate like a Pavlov dog
Yeah when you lay me out
My heart is beating louder than a big bass drum, alright
Yeah, you got to mix it child
You got to fix it must be love
It's a bitch
You got to mix it child
You got to fix it but love
It's a bitch, alright
 

Sometimes I'm sexy, move like a stud
Kicking the stall all night
Sometimes I'm so shy, got to be worked on
Don't have no bark or bite, alright
Yeah when you call my name
I salivate like a Pavlov dog
Yeah when you lay me out
My heart is bumpin' louder than a big bass drum, alright
I said hey, yeah I feel alright now
Got to be a...
Hey, I feel alright now
Hey hey hey
Hey hey yeah...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marvel Films to Date

SO the first Avengers: Age of Ultron teaser trailer hit today. The unreasonable praise has started.

It is a good trailer. I want to see this movie. Of course, I wanted to see this movie 6 months ago.

It is not "a game changer," or "brilliant." It's an effective summer blockbuster trailer. Put this in perspective...I think the Secret Life of Walter Mitty trailer was brilliant, and felt like a game changer. The film was pretty much universally panned. That trailer was all kinds of "outside the box" thinking, and, unfortunately, the film couldn't support it. The Age of Ultron trailer is so far inside the box that some of it feels interchangeable with a dozen other trailers (the Hulkbuster armor will be cool to see, but, lets be rational, the introduction shot in this trailer looks like about 40 shots from the Transformers movies). Which is actually a good thing. I am not expecting a reinvention, just another episode.

I also refuse to name James Spader (who I like very much, and will readily admit has a voice that sounds very disturbing coming out of a robot) is "the greatest comic book villain, ever" based on less than two minutes of performance.

I do like the use of "got no strings." It's very creepy and atmospheric.


But it inspired a list:

The Best Marvel Films, to Date, In My Humble Opinion, from worst to best:

10 - Thor: The Dark World
9 - Iron Man 3
8 - Thor
7 - Iron Man 2
6 - The Incredible Hulk
5 - Guardians of the Galaxy
4 - The Avengers 
3 - Captain America: The First Avenger
2 - Iron Man

1 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Joe Walsh: Goddamn National Treasure

Rough times in my head these days.

Made some bad decisions (nothing dangerous, or anything, just...depressing), and I am in a pretty deep funk. Kind of thrashing around trying to find an way to chart a course that makes sense, in the face of being...well...stuck with something I am not happy about.

In. A. Funk.

It's at a time like this, I remember that Joe Walsh is still out there, making music.



Sometimes, people ask me why I like "old music."

It's pretty simple. These guys are real. Even if they cultivated a persona that was a false face at one point, or another, they have grown to a point where they realize there's no point to it anymore.

Usually, these same people are stroking themselves over the David Bowie exhibit at the MCA, too...so, take that as you will.


Hell, I think he sings that better than Henley.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Place on Thorndale Recommends - Grinder Blues

dUg Pinnick has a new side project. Which in and of itself isn't terribly big news, he seems to release a new side project every six months. I have liked most of these, but I really long for more King's X. Of course, with drummer Jerry Gaskill's current heath situation...that may be a long time coming.

Grinder Blues is Pinnick's latest jam, and I am quite impressed. As the title alludes, the emphasis in on blues forms, progressions, and lyrical tropes. Lest anybody think this is some sort of throwback, nostalgia trip, the project does re-evaluate the form through a hard rock, even metallic, lens. It's good stuff, and Pinnick has found good collaborators in drummer Scot Little Bihlman and guitarist Jabo Bihlman, a brother act known for TV work, as I understand it. The trio plays well together, and the spirit is loose, with a solid groove.

Of course, as with most of Pinnick's side projects, I do hear more than a little King's X in it. However, I don't think it's quite as direct and obvious a comparison as from the KXM material earlier this year that paired him with George Lynch (Lynch Mob, ex-Dokken) and Ray Luzier (Korn). Yet, it's not as distinctive as the Pinnick Gales Prigden records with Eric Gales and Thomas Pridgen.

I think , however, that we can be clear that Pinnick enjoys the trio format.

as to if you will like it, the first single, Burn the Bridge  (see the video below), is pretty indicative of the project and the direction. Although my favorite track is probably the last on the album, TX to CA. I'm loving it with only a couple of plays, you might too.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Stuck In My Head - 10.10.2014 - Run Runaway

Run Runaway
by Slade

Hold on!
I like black and white
(Dreaming of black and white)
You like black and white
Run run away

See chameleon
(Lying there in the sun)
All things to everyone
Run run away

If you're in the swing
(Money ain't everything)
If you're in the swing
Run run away

See chameleon
(Lying there in the sun)
All things to everyone
Run run away

If you gotta crush
(Don't beat about the bush)
When I gotta crush
Run run away

See chameleon
(Lying there in the sun)
All things to everyone
Run run away

Oh now can't you wait
(Love don't come on a plate)
Oh now can't you wait
Run run away

See the chameleon
Lying there in the sun
All things to everyone
Run run away

Run run away
Run run away
Run run away

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's my Boss' Birthday




Happy Birthday Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen; born September 23, 1949

Monday, September 8, 2014

Electronics...AmIright?!?!

I think my guitar amplifier is not long for this world.

I was in the middle of re-recording rhythm tracks for "Burn" on Saturday, when it started acting crazy. The tuner wouldn't read, the tones I had stored all went to strange places, and the bottom fell out of the sound.

Suffice to say I was beside myself.

I fiddled and prodded, tried to login to Line 6's online tool for problems...didn't work. Finally, I did a factory rest on both the amp and the footboard. The thing reset, the tuner was working again, and it seemed to be OK.

Except I'd lost about 6-7 years of stored guitar tones. I'm also still not convinced that all is right with the amp. It feels like the distortion settings are "breaking up" (more than they are supposed to) in high-gain situations. It doesn't sound like guitar distortion, it sounds like...a possible malfunction.

I'm gonna work with it some more. Hopefully, what I'm hearing is just the preset tones, after years of my settings, and not a real problem. Even if it is, I have to push through. The Hayoth work is coming along, I don't want to kill my momentum, and I don't have the $$ for a new amp right now.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Comic Review - SOUTHERN BASTARDS

I have spoken to friends about this Image comic, Southern Bastards by writer Jason Aaron and artist Jason Latour.

I described it as an awesome Lee Marvin/Charles Bronson picture. Sort of like Walking Tall, if Burford Pusser was 60+ years old. It was a book that really hooked me with that sort of macho ass-kicking that ends with our hero ordering a plate of ribs.

Well, issue #4 came out this week, ending the first arc of the book, "There Was a Man."

You all need to go seek out the first 3 issues, read them in order, and DO NOT SKIP AHEAD. Seriously, DO NOT do it. (Apparently a trade paperback will be out later this month). If you wait for that, DO NOT read spoilers.

Because this book just took a turn that floored me, and moved it in a whole new direction that will make it, I daresay, totally unique in it's genre. Because I don't see any sign of the book changing, but the rest of the game is gonna play totally different.

All this would be useless, of course, if the writing and art weren't top-notch. They are. Four issues in, I have no complaints, no qualms, and no criticisms. Aaron and Latour are, no other way to put it, KILLING IT.

I have been a bit sad at losing my beloved Jonah Hex, as All-Star Western rides into the sunset. This book will make a nice replacement.

Holy crap, it's good. In ways I never, ever expected it to be.
 
 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stuck in My Head 9.4.2014 - Resist


Resist
by Rush

I can learn to resist
Anything but temptation
I can learn to coexist
With anything but pain

I can learn to compromise
Anything but my desires
I can learn to get along
With all the things I can't explain

I can learn to resist
Anything but frustration
I can learn to persist
With anything but aiming low

I can learn to close my eyes
To anything but injustice
I can learn to get along
With all the things I don't know

You can surrender
Without a prayer
But never really pray
Pray without surrender

You can fight
Without ever winning
But never ever win
Without a fight

I can learn to resist
Anything but temptation
I can learn to coexist
With anything but pain

I can learn to compromise
Anything but my desires
I can learn to get along
With all the things I can't explain

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Best Laid Plans....

So, I have converted my master WAV files for the two finished tracks, Burn and Warp, to MP3, and given them some listens....

They need to be re-mixed and mastered, at the very least.

I have found the tracks from ...And Getting Dollars Back ended up being quieter than I'd like in their finished versions. My intent was to try to rectify this by pumping the sound up, recording at a higher volume. What I've ended up with is a very brittle, harsh guitar sound.

Granted, both of these tracks have intentionally more treble-end guitar tone. Burn is, basically, a metal track, and I wanted the guitar to cut through. I think I just went too far. I need to tweak the EQ on the track, and definitely bring down the guitar in the mix. Maybe re-record the guitar part. I have to admit, I am somewhat regretting dumping the previous version.

Warp is much less of a problem, instrumentally. Everything sounds pretty good. I still think I went too far with the loudness. I do need to re-do the guitar solo...I don't even know what the fuck I was thinking. It's terrible.

I also...as is my eternal problem...need to fix the vocals. It's partially a mixing problem, but I could sing this stuff better. I still struggle with finding "my voice" for vocal work, and, frankly, I'd still love to find a real, and like-minded, vocalist to take a run at some of this stuff. Same with the drumming.

But we do what we can with what we have.

Fail/Safe rehearsals have started. I am very, very excited.

Great cast, fun people, and if we get half the technical whiz-bang that's been discussed, it's gonna be a super-cool looking show. Everybody's loose and ready to have fun, which is fairly essential, in my mind, with such heavy subject matter. We've only had two rehearsals, but I feel very welcome. A lot of openness to what I can bring to the table.

And, flat out, I love this character. It's not quite the level of my love for Milt Shanks, but Copperhead was something special. General Bogan is who I would hope I would be in this situation, and I feel like I carry a responsibility to the men an women who do this sort of work in how I play it. I think of that often as I go over lines, or work scenes, in a world where I feel like the baseline inclination is to demonize any sort of military or authority figure. I am often asked to play those roles. I am not blind to the weaknesses, but my job is to understand that life, that world.

I hope you all come and see it in September.




Stuck In My Head 8.20.2014 - A Box/Sometime


A Box
By King's X

Lonely days will come and go
Nothing new unless you're bold
Revolution no.19
Brand new wave of anger

Stain yourself with pumpkin pie
Liquid tattoo I got mine
Don't forget forgetfulness
Call it deconstruction

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside

Way down in the deep depress
Colder than the coldest yes
We know about loneliness
Others to another

Just a place to run and hide
Just a place to free your mind
Just a place to break the chains
And find whatever matters

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside

There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside
There is no room inside a box
There is no room inside



Sometime
by King's X

Sometime, I want to give
Sometime, I want to take
Sometime, I want to run
Sometime, I want to stay.
Sometime, sometime, sometime, sometime.

Sometime, I want to love
Sometime, I want to hate
Sometime, I want to build
Sometime, I want to break
Sometime, sometime, sometime, sometime.

Sometime, I want to live
Sometime, I want to die
Sometime, I want to believe
Sometime, I want to get high and fly.
Sometime, sometime, sometime, sometime.


Learn more about King's X at  http://kingsxrocks.com/
 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stuck In My Head - Smokestack Lightning - 8.15.2014


Smokestack Lightning
by Howlin' Wolf

Ah oh, smokestack lightnin'
Shinin' just like gold
Why don't ya hear me cryin'?
A whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whoo

Whoa oh tell me, baby
What's the matter with you?
Why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh tell me, baby
Where did ya, stay last night?
A-why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh, stop your train
Let her go for a ride
Why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh, fare ya well
Never see, a you no more
A-why don't ya hear me cryin'?
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo

Whoa oh, who been here baby since
I, I been gone, a little bitty boy?
Girl, be on
Whoo hoo, whoo hoo, whooo


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

May Need to Drop Back and Punt

Worked a bit on Predator Game last night. Trying to get a decent drum track.

I'm fighting against a couple of things.

For whatever reason, my monitor headphones, which I use pretty exclusively when recording to spare my neighbors as much as I can (Sometimes I end up working a chord progression dozens of times...I can't imagine how annoying that would be to someone who doesn't know why), kind of turn acoustic tracks into mush. On the monitors it sounds OK, not perfect, but I'm working with a track that is, in the main, just for me to play drums to. I find myself struggling to hear where I am in the song.

The other factor in that is inhearant in how I record. When I'm playing, it's not with anybody but myself on "tape." There are no visual cues to follow, as you would have playing with a band. Not impossible, but I didn't make it easy. I, in an attempt to break up the tempo a bit, added in some transitional stuff between sections. Nothing too fancy, but the beat I'm working with on the drums is a 2-bar cycle, and when I drop in a single bar of transition - that I'm having trouble hearing - it can get me off track pretty quickly.

So, at this point, I am weighing the pros and cons of changing the song. It's just transitional sections, so the main parts Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Lyrics/Melody should be unaffected. The other thing is that this number, witch is designed to be acoustic with an electric lead, may just sound better with a consistent beat. I may like music that jumps around a bit rhythmically, but I know it's jarring to many ears. While this is mainly a hobby, something I do for myself, I enjoy it when people actually like my stuff.

I'll be digging in to it soon. I feel on the cusp of solving the question/problem, and getting some forward momentum.

While on this subject, I want to sing the praises of some freeware I've been using, Power Tab Editor. For a self-taught musician like myself, who neither reads or writes notation, putting down what I'm playing so that it can be replicated has always been a challenge. On the off chance that I ever play live, I'd have to be able to show people (and myself) how to play my stuff. This software is flat-out terrific, and allows you to put together professional-looking tab sheets with notation. On top of all that, It's helped me tremendously with being able to visualize rhythm and time, and to begin to understand regular notation.  I'm actually doing a fair amount of writing with the software (you can assign parts, and "play" the track with a simple synthesizer). it's just terrific.

Now, I'm sitting here weighing the pros and cons of dropping "Game" from the title. Predator?

Too Schwarzenegger?

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Blog Name

The Blog name has changed, due to our being forced to leave our Damen Ave home of 9 years, and out beloved Ravenswood.

Welcome to the place on Thorndale.

Long Time No See

Hello faithful readers...

Hello? Hello? anybody left?

It's been a very, very long time since I've consistently written for this blog. I'm going to try to be better, but I sincerely doubt I will ever get back to the "every weekday" schedule I was trying to maintain for a good long while, there. I will, however, try to maintain some consistency.

In the last month or so, I've been a little down. I missed an even-year San Diego Comic-Con for the first time since 2006, and it made me more sad than I expected. Now, on the flipside, I am attending the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim next April. Disneyland and Jedi nerdishness with Mr. Sean H. and Ms. Leigh B. I'm expecting a good time, and hopefully I will finally score that Luke Skywalker green-blade FX series lightsaber I've been coveting.

So, there's that to look forward to.

Acting wise, I start rehearsals for Fail/Safe at Strawdog theatre on Sunday. I'm fairly excited about the show, and I think I have a very good part. That will run on off-nights (Sunday-Tuesday) from Sep 14 - Oct 14.






After that, I'm on my way back to City Lit for Father Ruffian: Shakespeare's Falstaff Story. Shakespeare...I'm doing Shakespeare again, playing a King again. Henry IV. That will run Jan 9th - to Feb 15th, 2015.

Y'know, it's funny, I spent so much time in undergrad working on style work, and Shakespeare, I really didn't overly care if I eve did it again. I've done a few shows here and there (All's Well That Ends Well, The Winter's Tale), but I've never really sought it out. I have to admit, it hold not the overriding excitement for me that I see in other theatre folk.

Just another play, just another playwright.

Musically, things are actually going really well. I was somewhat disappointed in the drum sound for the last Hayoth release, ...Getting Dollars Back. I mixed it too loud, with a lot of double-tracking, hoping to get a deep, booming drum track. What I ended up with was tinny, weak sounding drums that were really loud. They kind of overwhelmed the whole track. Which compounded the fact that I, bluntly, am not a drummer. As with most of my musical explorations, I am learning by doing.

I think that I've, at least, figured out how to mix the drums effectively. I think my playing is getting stronger, too, but that likely a matter of opinion. I have two tracks "finished," Burn and Warp. I have shared a preview of the earlier recording/mix of Burn




I have since junked this entire version, and started from scratch. I think it's better. I think the recording and mix is better.I'm hoping to get samples of both the new version of Burn and Warp up. Warp, in particular, has some interesting things...my first real stab at using keyboards.

A third track, Predator Game, is in progress. Which is a acoustic bed track with drums and electric lead. I managed to get a decent acoustic bed scratch track down over the weekend, and take a first few stabs at the drum track. I'm feeling good about it, and it seems like Uptown, as an album, is well on it's way. My goal is to have enough material to put it out by the end of the year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Feeling it Today - I'm One


I'm One
by The Who

Every year is the same
And I feel it again,
I'm a loser - no chance to win.
Leaves start falling,
Come down is calling,
Loneliness starts sinking in.

But I'm one.
I am one.
And I can see
That this is me,
And I will be,
You'll all see
I'm the one.

Where do you get
Those blue blue jeans?
Faded patched secret so tight.
Where do you get
That walk oh so lean?
Your shoes and your shirts
All just right.
But I'm one etc.

I got a Gibson
Without a case
But I can't get that even tanned look on my face.
Ill fitting clothes
I blend in the crowd,
Fingers so clumsy
Voice too loud.

But I'm one. 

I have a friend who finds this song depressing, and I suppose I can see that...

But, for me, it's always been a statement of defining oneself in a crowd where you always feel a bit out of step. I've never felt like part of any group, really. My iconoclastic and individualistic streak is simply far too strong, and my beliefs far too ingrained, to allow myself to "blend in."

I'm sure a lot of people hate me for it, or at least dread it when I open my mouth. I, however, tend to see that as indicative of how mired we've become, as a society, in the idea of wanting to be validated. Politics, culture, the internet, whathaveyou...it seems to me it's all about making damn sure that we're never the person who's not in on the joke, or who thinks a little different.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Stuck In My Head 6.16.2014 - I've Had Enough


I've Had Enough
by The Who

You were under the impression
That when you were walking forward
You'd end up further onward
But things ain't quite that simple.

You got altered information
You were told to not take chances
You missed out on new dances
Now you're losing all your dimples.

My jacket's gonna be cut and slim and checked,
Maybe a touch of seersucker, with an open neck.
I ride a G.S. scooter with my hair cut neat,
Wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet.

Love Reign O'er Me.
Love Reign O'er Me.
Love.

I've had enough of living
I've had enough of dying
I've had enough of smiling
I've had enough of crying
I've taken all the high roads
I've squandered and I've saved
I've had enough of childhood
I've had enough of graves...

Get a job and fight to keep it,
Strike out to reach a mountain.
Be so nice on the outside
But inside keep ambition

Don't cry because you hunt them
Hurt them first they'll love you
There's a millionaire above you
And you're under his suspicion.

My jacket's gonna be cut and slim and checked,
Maybe a touch of seersucker, with an open neck.
I ride a G.S. scooter with my hair cut neat,
Wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet.

Love Reign O'er Me.
Love Reign O'er Me.
Love.

I've had enough of living
I've had enough of dying
I've had enough of smiling
I've had enough of crying
I've taken all the high roads
I've squandered and I've saved
I've had enough of childhood
I've had enough of graves...

I've had enough of dancehalls
I've had enough of pills
I've had enough of streetfights
I've seen my share of kills
I'm finished with the fashions
And acting like I'm tough
I'm bored with hate and passion
I've had enough of trying to love.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stuck In My Head 6.9.2014 - I've Known No War



I've Known No War 
by The Who

I've known no war
And if I ever do I won't know for sure
Who'll be fighting whom
For the soldiers lonely tomb
Now opens as soon as the referee's gun starts to roar
I'll know no war

Galbraith took his pen
To break down the men
Of the German army defeated
On the nineteenth day
Of a spring day in May
Albert Speer was deleted
And as soon as the battle was over
I was born in victorious clover
And I've never been shot at or gassed
Never tortured or stabbed
And I'm sure - I'll never know war

I know I'll never know war
And if I ever do
The glimpse will be short
Fireball in the sky
No front line battle cries
Can be heard as the button is pushed
By a soul that's been bought
I'll know no war

In an out of reach loft
The medals are lost
They belong to a lone broken sailor
His provinces now
Are the bars of the town
His songs and his poems of failure
For his grandchildren can't see the glory
And his own kids are bored with the story
But for him they'd have burned behind netting
From the brink they were grabbed
And I'm sure
I'll never know war

I've known no war
And if I ever do I won't know for sure
Who'll be fighting whom
For the soldier's lonely tomb
Now opens as soon as the referee's gun starts to roar
I'll know no war

War - I've known no war
I'll never know war
And if I ever know it
The glimpse will be short
Fireball in the sky
No front line battles cries
Can be heard as the button is pushed by a soul that's been bought
And the armies remaining will judge without people or courts
And there's no point pretending that knowing will help us abort
I'll know no war

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spoilers ahead.

There's been a lot of consternation about this film on line. It seems people are very upset about it.

Now, I hardly find these Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield-led Spider-Man films to be without flaw, you can find my review of the original film here. That being said, my initial reaction upon leaving the theatre after seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was that it was my personal favorite of all the Spider-Man films that have been made.

Strong words? Possibly, and perhaps repeat viewing may change my mind. However, this film FELT like the Spider-Man I have enjoyed in the comics, and the changes made from the comic all made sense and felt OK, to me.

Now, am I overjoyed that the Sinister Six are all, apparently, Oscorp-based, and tied directly to
Richard Parker's research, and therefore, Peter Parker directly? No, not really, but it also wasn't such an egregious breach of storytelling that it made me upset.  As I have always said about "cannon" and "retcons," if they open storytelling doors, I am fundamentally in favor of them.

And, here's the deal, I am interested in what they will do with this Sinister Six movie, and what will happen with the team that Harry Osborne is building. Do I think it's the best idea in the world? A film (apparently) totally about villains? Maybe not, but I'm willing to concede that it could result in an interesting film. Also that where The Amazing Spider-Man 2 leaves that storyline makes me more interested.

OK, so why did I love this film so much? Because for a specific reason that a lot of people have chosen to criticize it. This being Gwen Stacy's death and how Peter, and the film chooses to deal with it. I've heard a lot of criticism that the film "let's Peter off the hook" for Gwen's death.

Well, yes, but I'd argue that's the whole point.

See, as opposed to the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man trilogy, Webb and his team have embraced "with great power comes great responsibility." Whereas Raimi (with star Toby Maguire) presented a Peter Parker who was CONSTANTLY wallowing in, and almost solely motivated by guilt, Webb and Garfield have crafted a Parker that, even in the face of his greatest losses, embraces a responsibility to something other than himself and his martyr complex. The film is about moving past fear and pain.

When Peter returns to the suit and faces down The Rhino in the closing minutes, it is a statement about heroism that Raimi simply never made. The added bonus of the small child who tries to be the replacement for the missing Spider-Man only reinforces the point. Spider-Man is a hero because he does what he can, what only he can to do, because it is right. That sacrifices will be made, and forced on him, but that is HIS choice. Just as it was Gwen's choice to put herself in harm's way. And those sacrifices, they're part of living life to the fullest. Standing by a doing nothing? Not trying? THAT is true failure.

On top of all that, even in the comics, Gwen's death was NEVER Peter's fault. He may have failed to save her, but The Green Goblin killed her, period.

Not to mention that this film, more than any other Spider-Man film, FEELS like Spider-Man. The character is spot-on. The situations are solid superhero fare (is the Electro storyline somewhat reminiscent of The Riddler in Batman Forever? Sure. There are no new stories). The direction is flat-out stunning, and the action set pieces are pure, unfiltered Spider-Man.

It's just a fucking fun movie to watch, and it got me truly emotional at least twice. You really can't expect much more than that.

So, yes, I really enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I'm sure I'll take heat for that opinion among my friends whom I think were more interested in stoking a personal rage over a Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci scripted film than anything else. For me, it's about how I felt watching the film, and this certainly did not have the third-act trainwreck of Star Trek Into Darkness, for example.

I'm recommending it. I had a great time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cold Sweat: Stuck in My Head 5.14.14


Cold Sweat
By Thin Lizzy

I put my money in the suitcase
And headed for the big race
I felt a chill on my backbone
As I hung up the telephone

Stone cold sober and stone cold sweat
Running down the back of my neck
To lose means trouble, to win pays double
And I got me a heavy bet

Cold, cold sweat

They say chances on the outside
Are looking pretty slim
I've been so lucky on the inside
I feel I'm going to win

Stone cold sober and stone cold sweat
Running down the back of my neck
Take a little money, there's nothing left to lose
And I got me a heavy bet

Cold, cold sweat

I've got me a whole month's wages
I haven't seen that much in ages
I might spend it in stages
And move out to Las Vegas

Stone cold sober and stone cold sweat
Running down the back of my neck
To lose means trouble, to win means double
And I got me a heavy bet

Cold, cold sweat

I put my money in a suitcase
They say chances on the outside
I got a whole months wages

Stone cold sober and stone cold sweat
Stone cold crazy
Place another bet

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Sad Tale of Bill Finger Continues

Check out this article at Bleeding Cool. 

 The relevant section, a statement from Athena Finger, Bill Finger's Granddaughter:
75 years of Batman! No one could have predicted the longevity and the continued relevance of this comic book hero that has become a cultural icon when my grandfather, Bill Finger, collaborated with Bob Kane back in 1939. My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now. It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent. Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.

I'm sure this will lead to another round of "oh, look at how evil DC Comics is!" With our kneejerk vilification of any corporate entity.

This issue isn't about DC - it's about Bob Kane and his estate.

DC has been sending, admittedly modest in relation to the value of Batman as a property, checks to the Finger heirs for years. There's even an interesting story of how a lover of Finger's now-deceased son was receiving checks from DC, instead of Kane's granddaughter, the rightful heir. When Finger biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman brought this to DC's attention, they rectified the situation quickly. At his San Diego Comic-Con presentation in 2012, Nobleman specifically pointed out that DC were not the bad guys in this story.

Finger is denied his rightful credit because of the contracts that Bob Kane, and his estate, have with DC Comics. Aside from the quote in his "autobiography" (Kane didn't really even draw 90%, and that's being generous, of what's credited to him, I doubt he wrote a book), Kane NEVER admitted Finger's central role (likely greater than Kane's) in the creation of the Batman mythos. During the 60's he even wrote personal responses, lashing out at anyone who suggested Finger's contribution.

I am almost certain that if the powers that be at DC could legally name Bill Finger Batman's co-creator, even just to set the record straight, leaving aside the money (which again, is really about Kane's contract - not DC welching), I honestly believe they would. Every creator, editor, etc, etc, I've ever heard speak on this issue knows EXACTLY what happened and how Kane, via his contact with National/DC, secured for himself sole credit, and the financial benefits thereof, for perpetuity. That doesn't mean they can speak openly about it, as legal matters often go.

Kane clearly benefited from coming after Siegel and Schuster, and seeing the vast monies that Superman was bringing in. He, or his father, was smart enough to secure a legally binding agreement with National/DC that paid off for him handsomely. Would that Siegel and Schuster had gotten such advice.

This also allowed Bob to keep Finger, and the multiple other "ghost" writers and artists he employed, from sharing that windfall. It may seem Machiavellian to our modern eyes, but that was the way cartooning worked in those days. Comic strips were often written and drawn by underlings in the paid employ of the person who's name actually graced the newsprint page. All the greats, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, had "studios" to accomplish the massive amounts of work they would undertake in order to make actual money. The difference, really, is that Bob Kane, reportedly, rarely drew or wrote anything himself.

In 2006, at the San Diego Comic-Con, I had the good fortune to witness a "Golden Age Batman" panel that brought a lot of these creators together. Their differing responses to working for Kane were illuminating, Shelly Moldoff, for instance, was very upfront about who Kane was, what he did, or didn't, actually do, but also felt that Bob had lived up to the agreements they had. This seemed to upset Jerry Robinson, who had long felt Kane had kept him from proper recognition as, at least, the co-creator of characters like Robin and The Joker. It was a lovely panel to attend, but it did leave me with one overriding impression...

Bob Kane was mainly interested in Bob Kane, and making sure that Bob Kane got as much money, attention and fame as he could. Bob Kane made a great deal for himself, and he enjoyed the fruits of his legal foresight. He also guarded his position jealously. You really can't deny it, and I see fewer and fewer Kane apologists as time goes on.

Let's take another look at Kane's quote about Finger from Batman and Me:
Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero…. I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I’d like to say, ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.
Yes, he does, and perhaps Kane's widow, Elizabeth Sanders, might remember those times (if they actually happened, frankly) and extend this courtesy to the memory and heirs of Bill Finger. She's the one who can do it, not DC Comics. So, while we can celebrate the legacy that Bill Finger left us, and bemoan the injustice of his lack of credit, let us not forget that DC Comics has already gone beyond the compensation they were legally required to provide (which was nothing). What they cannot legally give, and it's probably the most important, the most meaningful, gesture, is credit. Only Bob Kane's estate can do that...

...And they don't seem to want to.


*I would've provided more pictures of Bill Finger, but very few actually seem to exist.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Vs. Kiss

Let's start with a couple of things I believe...

One:

I believe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is absolutely justified and correct in reaching beyond the narrow confines that many vocal fans (and artists) have about what "Rock and Roll" is. It's important to include outlying genres, because they strengthen and influence the direction that the form moves in. Make no mistake, the reason we're still taking about Rock and Roll is because it, as a from, evolves. Rhythm and Blues is a stone in the foundation of Rock, which begat Elvis Pressley's Hound Dog, and Cuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode, but also begat Chic's Le Freak, and Snoop Dogg's Gin & Juice.

It's absolutely silly to dismiss music that's designed for dancing. When Little Richard blasted into Tutti Frutti, his goal was to git those teenagers in 1956 on the dance floor. Likewise, you cannot dismiss the clear influence of folk artists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie on undeniable Rock artists like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. I, personally, see "Rock" as a rainbow of styles and genres with Robert Johnson sitting at the end like the proverbial pot o' gold.

What the critics miss, and it's kind of unforgivable, is that the Hall of Fame is not just about honoring artists for record sales or fame, but providing education about the history of the form. One of my favorite exhibits in the museum (which is separated from the Hall of Fame, proper), are kiosks where you can search for your favorite artists, and explore a graphic diagram of their influences, and then explore their influence's influences. Using this display, you can see how interconnected the tapestry of Rock is. This sort of education is something these vocal opponents might benefit from.

Two:

I believe Kiss deserves induction into the Hall of Fame. They fulfill the requirements I would personally have for such an honor. They were influential, they inspired other musicians, they have a legacy that deserves respect.

But, really, is their legacy about music?

I mean ABSOLUTELY no disrespect with that statement. There are plenty of truly amazing Rock artists who are important, and it has nothing to do with musical skill, originality, or creativity The Punk movement, honestly, was important because they didn't have any of those qualities, as an example. Kiss wasn't doing anything revolutionary, on a musical level. They wrote good, catchy songs that were aimed to be just that, not compositional achievements. I think any members, current or former, of that band would agree.

That should not be taken as me saying the music is bad. I quite like a lot of the early Kiss material, and it is "classic" for a reason. The wrote songs that people liked, and a big reason was because they weren't overly challenging. A lot of artists did the same thing.

The Original Kiss
What Kiss had that was different was, frankly, image. The reason the band became a phenomenon was because of their make-up, the stage show, the tricks and stagecraft. They brilliantly came up with the make-up, costumes and personas that made it possible to immediately "get" what each guy in the band was about - regardless of music. Paul "Starchild" Stanley was the preening frontman. Gene "Demon" Simmons was the dark creature holding down the bass. "Space" Ace Frehley was the lead guitarist, with out of this world leads. Peter "Catman" Criss was the drummer, away and above it all.

When I was in elementary school, EVERYBODY loved Kiss, but I'd actually lay money that the vast majority of the kids I knew had never heard a single song. The music was, in the end, irrelevant to the image and marketing. They had built a marketing machine that led kids into the fold with four-color superhero imagery, toys, games, model kits, and kept them as they reached their teen years with suggestive lyrics and a general naughty vibe. Kiss owned the world from 1976-1978, and I would, again, with respect, say that had very little to do with music.

This is why I totally understand why the Hall of Fame, firstly, seemed to drag their feet on inducting the band, and, now that they will be inducted, are only inducting the original four members. While Eric Carr (who replaced Criss, officially, in 1980), Vinnie Vincent (replacing Frehley, officially, in 1982), Mark St. John (who had a brief tenure as lead guitarist in 1984 - cut short by illness), Bruce Kulick (lead guitar 1984 - 1996), and Eric Singer (Replaced Carr after he succumbed to Cancer in 1991) are all talented and did good work for the band, they existed in a time when Kiss didn't feel like a truly distinctive group. They, speaking bluntly, felt like a lot of other 80's hair metal bands inspired by Kiss. Especially after they removed their make-up in 1983. They were in a good band, but not a Hall of Fame band.

Then, of course, there's the issue of the return to make-up. Which began when the original lineup reunited in 1996, and toured until their "Farewell Tour" of 2001. Criss left the group again, during this "Farewell Tour," and Frehley departed afterward. After that, money was still there to be made, and Eric Singer returned as drummer, with Tommy Thayer taking the lead guitar spot. The difficult choice the band made was that Singer and Thayer are now touring with the group as "The Catman" and "The Spaceman," and wearing the make-up and costumes that Criss and Frehley made famous.

(For the record, Eric Carr performed with the band in make-up, but with his own persona, "The Fox," as did Vinnie Vincent as the Egyptian-themed "The Wiz." Since you're probably never heard of these characters, or know what they looked like, you can probably guess that it wasn't the most successful idea.)

So, you have six other musicians who have played on Kiss albums (seven if you could Anton Fig, who ghosted for Criss), and are technically eligible for induction. Yet the Hall of Fame has decided they will not be inducted. I think this is the correct choice. I think Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation CEO Joel Peresman does a good job of addressing the issue over at Billboard

The heyday of Kiss, the point where they were truly a band who's accomplishments made them worthy of induction, really ended when the four original members simultaneously released solo albums on September 18th, 1978. When the TV-Movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park aired on October 28th, 1978, the cracks had begun to show. Kiss began to become a caricature of itself, which is deadly for a band that was conceived as a bit of a caricature. Then the make-up came off, and they just became fairly generic.

Again, not BAD, but they just seemed to become interchangeable with acts like Ratt. Los Angeles sleaze-rock, and with the whimsical quality of the make-up gone, the sleaze could be overwhelming.

Current Kiss lineup
Then after Criss and Frehley left again, and different musicians were asked to  wear their costumes and make-up, he whole thing just felt like it was edging toward a sham. The shows may still be impressive, technically better than with Frehley and Criss, but I think Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley know EXACTLY what they created in the 70's. The personas are the band members to anyone who's not a hard core fan, and the general audience just wants to see a Kiss show, and it doesn't particularly matter if Frehley or Thayer is under the Spaceman make-up. Gene, especially, has even hinted at a point where the band could continue without ANY of the original members, with paid stand-ins doing the work while "the organization" (controlled by Simmons and Stanley) takes it's cut.

The fallout has been that when Kiss is inducted to the Hall of Fame on April 10th, apparently no version of the band will perform. The HOF was pushing for a reunion of the original members, Frehley and Criss appeared to be open to it, but it was apparently nixed by Simmons and Stanley. Simmons and Stanley have also been pounding this idea that's it unfair that the other members are not being inducted.

I call bullshit, and I'll tell you why.

Aside from what I said above, most of these guys didn't play in a Kiss that was a Hall of Fame-worthy band, this comes down to what Kiss has always been about - marketing. This is about the Kiss marketing machine. The machine that has moved more and more strongly toward a model where the band members are personas, not people. Who's the lead guitarist of Kiss? The Spaceman. Not "Ace Frehley," not "Tommy Thayer," but "The Spaceman." Then the band can put anybody up there who can play the tunes, and no one need know the difference.

Long gone are the days when Bruce Kulick could stand on stage as "Bruce Kulick," a member of the band Kiss. Long gone are the days when Eric Carr would be tasked to attempt to figure out a new costumed persona for the band. This is gone in favor of a Kiss "concert" that resembles a play with music. New performers portraying your favorite characters.

By singling out Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley the Hall of fame has made a distinction between the people who created those characters, who defined and lived them, and any replacements the Kiss organization may hire to tour in the future. When the day comes, and it will, that "Kiss" is made up of four guys who have no connection to the original four members, other than the signature on their paychecks...is that really Kiss? To Gene Simmons it is, because he'll be getting paid.

As Mr. Peresman said, and I think it's fair:
"Sometimes there's an entire body of work up until (the artists) are inducted, other times it's a specific period of time that established the band as who they are. With Kiss there wasn't one person here who didn't agree that the reason Kiss was nominated and is being inducted was because of what was established in the 70s with Ace (Frehley), with Peter (Criss), with Paul and Gene (Simmons). That's what put them on that map...(Kiss) is a unique situation where you have artists who wear makeup as part of what the band's about...(later members) are fine musicians who...basically have the same makeup and are the same characters that Ace and Peter started. It's not like they created these other characters with different makeup and playing different songs. They took the persona of characters that were created by Ace and Peter."
Beatlemania, or Rain, are fine, entertaining shows, but no one's trying to sell you on the idea that you're ACTUALLY seeing the Beatles. Likewise, the fan-based Kiss Tribute Bands, aren't saying they ARE Kiss. It's just damn creepy, to me, that the Kiss Organization continues in this direction.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Something That Just Occured to Me

I was doing do flittering around the britannica.com website, and came upon a picture of John Ford in his later years....


And made a connection to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, as they were broadcast:


And, man....George, I love it. That was sneaky, and awesome. Especially since Indy met John Ford during the show.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Been a Couple Months...Let's Talk Hayoth Again

The very early stages of work on the next set of Hayoth songs has begun.

Nothing terribly developed, at this point. I've got a whole bunch of lyrics on paper, a couple of song titles, and about 6-7 riffs I'm working on. Everything is in flux, of course, but I've been feeling a lot of creative energy in the realm of music. Listening to a lot of The Sword, King's X and (as always) Springsteen.

My goal is to try to find a nice place for Hayoth to sit, sound wise. I tend to have a wide range of influences, and rather than trying to capture some other band's sound, I'm hoping to forge something that's my own. The first Hayoth disk was very much me trying to sound like a 70's blues-based hard rock band - a less talented Led Zeppelin, if you will - and I still like that element. The first disk, if nothing else, proved I could get it done all by myself. That said, I'm hoping to take some of the confessional, storytelling lyrical content of Springsteen and merge it with hard rock, and even metal instrumentation.

Not final artwork (HA!)
The tentative title is Uptown, with a title track called Uptown (Moody's Blues), which, as you might expect takes imagery from Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, and mixes it with some narrative related to my character in Golden Boy. I like the lyrics I've come up with or this one, and the chord progression I've been playing around with. It's a slower, more meditative, yet still electric number. I'm going for a touch of urban jazz/blues. Fitting, since Uptown is home to The Green Mill.

At this point, I have a couple other ideas starting to coalese into songs, specifically a tune called Ashes, and another called Burn. Neither is as developed as Uptown on the lyric front, but I have a basic guitar track for Burn recorded. It's probably the most "metal" track I've done in a long, long time, and certainly the fastest, at about 145 BPM (I know, not really all that fast). It'll be interesting to see how I handle a drum track at that tempo. I'll figure it out, however, as part of the fun of this work, as I told my friend Matt K, is asking yourself to do things just outside your abilities.

I'm hoping to further work on my drumming for this new stuff. I'm well aware it was the weakest part of ...And Getting Dollars Back, but I am happy that it's live, and not a drum machine. That, to me, makes that record the best thing I've ever done, even if it was a "work in progress" as far as learning how to be a drummer, and learning how to mix drums well. I am confident the next disk will only show improvement.

I'll leave you with another link to the soundcloud Page for ...And Getting Dollars Back. The tracks are all still free to download, and this is the proper sequence for the album, as I'm told that downloading will not keep them in the proper order. Enjoy, and I'm always open to comments and criticism.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Sword at the Double Door March 5th, 2014

I'm gonna start by saying that I, personally, have never seen the Double Door as packed as it was Wednesday night. The whole thing was almost ridiculous, and then went right over the edge when the mosh pit started.

This was the second time that I'd seen the Austin foursome in the venerable Wicker Park venue, and in neither case was it as fun as their 2010 show at the Metro. Simply for the sheer fact that I could not move, and I was surrounded by a fair number of douchey assholes, in with the decent folks. Perhaps this is a result of the band's growing popularity, or more likely the difference between a venue with a capacity of 500 versus 1150.

I cannot fathom why metal bands, after they reach a certain level of popularity, immediately become a magnet for ballcapped frat assholes. I suppose it can be traced to male power fantasies, but, whatever. The whole thing gets worse when compounded with entitlement syndrome....

You know what I'm talking about, the moment when some fireplug-shaped jagbag with a shaved head and a goatee decides he has to get to the front RIGHT NOW, and plows through everyone on the floor. Doing so in the absolutely most discourteous and, flatly, dangerous way possible.

See, back in my days of mosh pit madness, there was a code. There was an understood level of respect and concern for the people around you. If someone went down, you stopped and blocked until they could get on their feet, you could get them on their feet, or security could get them out. It was a brotherhood of violent physical release, not a competition. Not a contest to see who could force themselves furthest up front. Some idiot on Wednesday even tried to crowd surf.

Idiot.

Let's come to an understanding here....when the club is packed like sardines, you don't deserve to get to the front. Especially when you arrive late.

In short. Fuck you.

O'Brother
Anyway, aside from all that. Fantastic show.

The openers were impressive, moreso than usual. I was particularly taken with O'Brother out of Atlanta. They were heavy enough to be appropriate, melodic enough to be interesting, and their vocalist, Tanner Merritt, has a hell of a set of pipes. This despite a lot of modulation on the vocals (which was a theme for the night). The songs were catchy, which is always of primary importance with me. Definitely a band, I'll be picking up at least one disk from.

Big Business
Also on the bill was Big Business, which includes a couple of guys who play with The Melvins. I was totally unaware of this, as usual. Good band, a hard-hitting band, and Coady Willis is simply a monster drummer. Powerful and all over the kit. Thrilling to watch, although he kind of looks like an accountant (a super-cool accountant, but nevertheless...). Also with Jared Warren on bass and truly distinctive vocals. I really enjoyed the set, but, I have to admit, just base don comparing the two openers, I didn't find Big Business' songs as compelling as the performance. I might download some tracks, or an album, but I have a feeling that without the live energy, I might not be too jazzed.

The Sword was, as usual, great.  I simply love this band, so my "review" may leave a lot to be desired. I love the songs, I love the style, and I, personally, love J.D. Cronise's voice. Although, again, clearly a lot of processing on his vocal tracks.

The Sword
The sound was vastly better than the last time I saw the band at the Double Door, the vocals were pretty much inaudible at the show, and it annoyed me. Wednesday night there was no such problem. The band is rather static on stage, but that's generally fine with me. Aside from my beloved Springsteen, I'd rather bands stand still and play well (not that Springsteen doesn't play well - quite the opposite). I've had enough of the half-assed musicianship in the service of "putting on a show."

I do admit to a true joy in watching bassist Bryan Richie play. It's so unlike most metal musicians, who tend to the violent thrash. Headbanging and the like. It reflects his playing, a flow, rather than an attack. It's probably part of why I love this band so much, a true sense of groove.

The Sword stands, and delivers. In fact, the only complaint I could level would be that Night City didn't make the setlist.