12.29.2010

Music Video of the Week: Belfegore

I had all but forgotten this song until downloading it from a file sharing blog a few days ago. O, how I loved it in the early 80s and yes, it holds it's own quite well even now. You can keep you Mission UKs and your Sisters of Mercy...give me Belfegore anyday.


"All That I Wanted"
Belfegore

12.24.2010

Woke up this morning and to my surprise my back teeth weren't hurting. I was foolish enough to point this out to my wife, so of course they started to throb just a few moments later. The worst of it was Wednesday...I can't even describe the agony they put me through that night. I kept it under control most of yesterday, with a well stocked supply of ibuprofen. Never got too serious, but there were a couple of instances when the pain came through, Right now it's not unbearable, but I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't already swallowed a few pills it would escalate into some hardcore hurting. God, I hate toothaches. But this time I have GOT to go to a dentist and have them take care of these particular teeth. Which hints at the reason I haven't already gone. I have a very strong suspicion, borne of the continual erosion of the enamel of my teeth, that any dentist I choose will insist that I have all of my teeth pulled. NO NO NO!!! I can't bear the thought of it. But then again, I don't know how long I can take this pain. I can't drink my Dr. Pepper because of the sugar, and I am addicted to that stuff. I kind of worry about eating spicy stuff, because it gets lodged between the teeth and before you know it the agony is back again in full force.

Well, the Christmas holiday is upon us, so that probably means there won't be an opportunity to visit a dentist until Monday. I guess I should commit to it, and not let it be contingent on whether or not the ache has eased up. I want to be optimistic, but it's hard. The Christmas season is no big deal to me, especially as it has turned into such a commercial holiday. Just last night the wife and I were discussing atheists and Christmas. She is of the opinion that there are atheists who "do" Christmas, and I held firm to my belief that you can't truly celebrate a holiday that's based on something you not only believe in, but deny. She says "They put up Xmas trees and give presents and visit relatives". Well, maybe I'm old fashioned, but you can do that any day of the year. So it's the rituals that are being observed and not Christmas itself. Christmas is just a good day for it, because it's convenient...you can always count of vittles and generosity. The Bible Thumpers will tell you "Jesus is the reason for the season", and as corny as that sounds, it must be admitted that were it not for the birth of Christ the 25th would be just another day. I know there are folks out there who would cry foul at that comment, rightfully pointing out that Christmas was a pagan ritual long before the Roman Catholic Church stole it and made it their own. At the risk of offending the Pagan community I must say that I think the Church was justified in doing this. From what I understand the Church had already established it's stronghold by the time it usurped these particular aspects of their rituals. I certainly don't think they did it FOR the pagans. I'm not so sure of how they treated the pagans at the time, if they expected them to hop on board the bandwagon and leave the rest behind. The more I think about it, though, the more I am convinced that, unfortunately, that's probably exactly what happened.

It's too late to fret about now, that's for sure. I'll zip it for now, seeing as how I'm not a scholar. I have my own reasons for being ambivalent about the holiday. Now this toothache will just be the icing on the cake this your.

Ho ho ho.

12.18.2010

Tried to post this as a response to Grey Calx' comment on the Ken's Pizza review a couple of posts down. Apparently there is a character limit for comments, so I will post it here and hope he gets a chance to see it.

*****************

Actually we boycotted Ken's for three years while as they continued to employ a manager who was rude and had no talent whatsoever for management, the result of which being lack of cleanliness and a general decline in overall service. We recently heard that she had either quit or been fired so we decided to give them another chance. The issues seemed to have been resolved, but after all that time I was reminded of just how bad the pizza is. You know, you get used to it as time goes by, but then you take a break and come back..whoo. It's not so bad that I won't eat it again, but when compared to practically any other pizza restaurant it comes out on the losing end every time.

The Ken's in Sapulpa is actually very good. I don't know who has the franchise there but it's not the guy from Prague. The have an evening buffet every night, whereas the Ken's in Prague only has them on Tuesday nights.

And since I wrote that review there have been two restaurants that most definitely qualify as the best in town, leaving Ken's in the dust. Cowpokes is a barbecue place (duh..with a name like Cowpokes what do you expect?). The food there is delicious, though I have had problems with the brisket not being quite warm enough for my tastes. The barbecue sauces are excellent. But the big deal in Prague is an authentic Mexican restaurant called Juana's. It's pricier than anything else in town, but the portions and especially the quality of the food set it far above anything else. It's good enough that I would recommend it to people who lived several miles away, that the trip would be worth it.

I've never eaten at a Simple Simons, but I feel safe in assuming that it HAS to be better than Ken's. Hell, those frozen Totino's pizzas are better than Ken's. And I'm not sure if Greer still charges a quarter for nasty tap water. Knowing him he's probably jacked up the price to 50 cents.

Shilling secrets

When I first saw "PostSecrets" on the Internet several years ago I was impressed. I felt like it was a profound examination of the deepest recesses of people's psyches. And I suppose it still is, even if it's increasing popularity has likely attracted more bogus "secrets" than sincere ones.

The concept of the blog is that people send anonymous postcards with their "deepest, darkest secrets" on the front, along with artwork, original or not, that fits with it. A lot of really disturbing stuff comes in. You can't help but feel better about your own issues when you see just how fucked up other's can be.

Then the owner of the blog, Frank Something-or-another decided to publish a book of these postcards. That bugged me, because it meant that he was profitting from material consisting of the work, thoughts, inspiration etc. of others who received no credit other than a cursory "thank you to all who participated", and certainly no royalties. If memory serves I think he said something about the funds generated from the sales of that first book would go primarily to a suicide prevention program or something along those lines. I don't know exactly how much he personally earned from that book, after publishing costs and the charity cut. But no matter. It's not cool to put that stuff out there under your own name, even if the idea was your own.

Well, now there are, count 'em, FIVE Post Secret books and Frankie has taken to his blog to sling them. He admits that he makes $1.50-$2.50 for every book sold. He says, "That doesn't sound like much"...HUH? Not much? These books sell like hotcakes, and there are five of 'em to sell. That's gotta be a LOT of money. He says it will help keep the site alive (must be a very expensive domain name he's buying). Pooh. He admits that the book royalties help him support his "very understanding family". Which no doubt means he doesn't have a day job, living off of book sales, and living quite well, mind you.

So what's wrong with that? It was the guy's idea, after all. I respect that. But there's something very creepy about taking these postcards, which were sent anonymously, presumably for the website alone, meaning without the thought of ever winding up in a series of books that sell millions of copies. That make money from the guy who solicited them. I'd been under the impression at the start that it was a not-for-profit project. Well, no more, no more.

Yes, it irks me. It irks me even more that he would ask his readers, on his blog, to "consider buying one or all five of the PostSecret books this holiday season for yourself or as gifts". Then he goes on to say "Of course the other way you can SUPPORT THE PROJECT is by mailing in your secrets." Uh, yeah. If the project you want to support is Frank Warren's $1.50-$2.50 per book sale lifestyle.

I'm sure there are many of Warren's supporters out there who could give me myriad reasons why it's proper and okay for him to publish these books. They sell, right? That should be proof enough, I suppose. It's only natural that a person be recognized for a brilliant idea and the wherewithall to set the wheels in motion to see it realized. But I had a sneaky supicion, even when I first kept up with the site all those years ago, that he was itching to compile a book and make some cash. I was disappointed when the first one came out. Now there are five and I'm disgusted.

Oh, and he gets money on the live speaking circuit, too. That would be quite a show to see. I'm sure I would walk out of that auditorium enlightened. What a creep.

12.16.2010

Sorry, once again I've been lax in posting a music video of the week. I think I'll give it a rest this week. Sorry fans. Instead here's a review of a local pizza eatery, Ken's Pizza, that I wrote about 5 years ago. My opinion of the place has changed since then (and not for the better), but most of it is still accurate. Then again, this particular piece was written BEFORE we found a dead fly on the bottom of a thin crust pizza we ordered out. No joke.

You take the good with the bad...: The GOOD: Ken's has a decent salad bar, and the Alpine Italian dressing has always been a favorite. Their Nachos El Grande is a very tasty change of pace, as is their mexican pizza. For the most part their thin crust pizzas are good (sometimes better than others). There are a couple of girls on the wait-staff who are just great and the service, in general, is decent.
Ken's Tuesday Night buffet and their all-you-can-eat lunch buffets are the best deals in town...most of the folks who are "Ken's Haters" have just eaten there so many times that they've burned themselves out on what Ken's has to offer.

The BAD: David Greer must be a real cheapskate to charge 25 cents for a glass of water. TAP WATER, at that.
The Tuesday night buffet, though it is a great value and good food, is just too popular for it's own good. The buffet turns into something that resembles a feed trough on a farm, with customers crowding around it and muscling in on each other to get that last slice of pepperoni.
Their deep pan pizza never seems to get cooked thoroughly, and has a doughy taste and consistency that is unpleasant to me.
It would be nice to have some music playing instead of the chatter of the two televisions. As far as I'm concerned, those Pentecostal Holiness folks are more than welcome to shut those suckers down for a while. If I wanted to watch TV while eating I would have ordered carry-out and dined at home.
It is also disquieting to see their new (Assistant?) Manager working in the kitchen with a full beard (as I saw last night 12-02-05). Isn't there some kind of health code that states that food service workers must be clean shaven? I've worked in food service and was required to shave my beard...what's up with this guy?
The shredded cheddar cheese on the sald bar...it's fake. That's right, they use imitation cheese on the salad bar. That's weak.

OVERALL: Okay, so it might look like I have more bad to say about Ken's than good, but really I think Ken's is the best place in Prague to eat (since Double Daves closed down there's really no reason to drive all the way to Shawnee for pizza when you've got Ken's).
Still, it's not as if I drink water with my meals to save money...I prefer it over sodas because it doesn't interfere with the taste of my food...but lemme tell ya, if they're gonna make me pay even a quarter for a glass of water I think I deserve some Evian or maybe even Perrier. If all I'm getting is Prague city water I could just fill up a canteen and bring it with me.


12.10.2010

hOME aLONE

This is a poem I posted to the HelloPoetry site a few months back. I'm surprised at how well it has been received. At this point it has been read 244 times and 11 people have tagged it as a favorite. By the way, my pen name at the site is J of the Fields, in case you want to see more. Or you could just go to my poetry blog, Bipolar Confessional, and see the ones at HP and many more.

"hOME aLONE"

It's too soon to live in memories
I try to convince myself
Years don't change everything
I try to convince myself
This is no prison I'm living in
I have the keys, the locks are not broken
I try to convince myself I have a reason
For not using them

Grab a pen and some paper
Some of these are important
I just know they are
These are the things that made me what I am
Aren't they?
The sum total of all my experiences, right?
I need to chronicle and catalog
Separate the wheat from the chaff
This will set me straight
Or maybe not...could be a waste of time

Time takes them away, one by one
Teases, bringing some back
Then snatching them away again
Despite my best efforts
To hoard them
Years don't change everything
The cruel workings of time
Are eternal

Of this I am convinced

I've sacrificed freedom
To live in a cage
To settle for memories
For fear that hurt would break in
And make itself comfortable
Quick to remind me of the memories
It helped make

I'm convinced I have no reason
To break these chains
An empty house, alone
Is better than such bad company

12.08.2010

12.02.2010

Music Video of the Week: Fugazi

Late again, but at least not by much. I'll try to get on the ball in the future.


"Waiting Room"
Fugazi

11.30.2010

Sorry, no Music Video of the Week last Wednesday. I don't know if I just forgot or if the omission had something to do with aching wrists or continual vision issues. I don't remember if I posted about our dog chewing up the lenses of my new glasses...I was almost a week using a back-up pair that is at least 4 years old. In fact, they are the last pair I had that were worth a shit. They still do okay when it comes to distance, but I can hardly read with them. Especially on the computer. So that may well be the reason I didn't post the video...and I know there are hundreds of people out there who wait with bated breath to see who will be featured in the weekly showcase. And though my dog seems to have chomped them yet again I can guarantee that I will not forget my duties tomorrow.

11.21.2010

Our dog chewed up the lenses in my glasses so I’m having to wear a much older pair until they get repaired. I’m actually surprised that I can see as well as I can through them. They don’t do well at very long distances and I can’t read anything, but at least I’m not falling around legally blind as I would be if I wore none at all. My only fear is that the good pair will take a little more “getting used to” after my eyes have adjusted back to these. If luck holds out I will have my regular pair back and good as new by early next week. The Thanksgiving holiday may prevent their delivery, though, and if that turns out to be the case I won’t have them even at this time next week. I do not relish that possibility. The dog has been forgiven, seeing as how he’s only a puppy and puppies do that kind of thing. He needs to learn that stuff on the table is not for his amusement.

I got a real “wake up call” Friday. Jeff asked me if I wanted to play a few songs for an Employees Recognition Day thing at the newspaper where his wife works. I was eager to do it, having not played in front of people in a long, long time (the same was true of Jeff). It was to be an informal jam kind of affair. I wasn’t sure about the level of professionalism they all expected, but lucky for us there weren’t all that many paying much attention. They were serving chili and I guess most of the employees were getting in on that action. Maybe 15 people in the place where we were set up, and of those there were probably 5 who were paying any attention at all.

I have to wonder what those 5 people thought. I couldn’t find the rhythm in any of the songs. The few songs I tried to sing sounded like shit. Jeff had trouble, too. I hate to think what our “audience” thought about our duet. The worst thing about it was not being able to think of the next song to play. This was to be a very low-key affair so we didn’t think it necessary to bring song lists. Big mistake. We found ourselves dragging out old shit that we promised ourselves never to play again. Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band. I felt we fared better on the original songs we pulled out, but you just can’t be sure anyone’s even listening if they don’t recognize the tune. Jeff did “Someone’s Been Lying Here”, which really is a fine number that might well have done something had an established country artist taken it. And I did “The Ladder”, which I’ve always thought highly of (my friends like it a lot, so that’s why). I don’t know what they thought of it, because they weren’t applauding, not for us or for the other two guys who were also playing for the jam. I have a hard time thinking of how to describe what they played. They did “I’ll Fly Away” twice, and made me wonder if that old gospel music was their stock in trade. Their line-up consisted of an acoustic guitarist (who had a badge pinned to his belt, so I assumed he was a lawman), and a very mild-mannered banjo picker. For the first few songs I was convinced that this banjo man was not too many steps above “beginner status”. But then he did “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and nailed that sucker flat. I guess he poured all his rehearsal time into getting that one down perfect. I’ll say this for them both: they were soft spoken and seemed extremely docile. I might not have noticed that had I not wondered how an officer of the law could act so much like a pussy. They did another song called “Prayed Up”, a not-so-clever play on words in which the term “paid up” is conjured to less than clever effect (IMO).

It was okay by me, though, because it meant that we weren’t the only ones who sucked so bad. It meant that the whole affair was so off-the-cuff that it didn’t matter whether or not we were competent musicians. This was no professional gig. You can bet on that.

My son’s album is almost complete. We’ve been working on it since June, and I know that seems like a long time to be on one project, but you have to take into consideration that we only get to do it one day a week. We’ve missed two or three weeks as well, so when you take that into consideration I suppose we’re doing quite will. Had we done it five days a week I’m sure it would have taken less than a month to complete. As it is, though, it’s a toss-up over whether the record will be in the can by our projected release date. Now that I think about it, most likely we will NOT have it done when we hoped, calculating what still needs to be recorded and the mixing/mastering process. Will take a small miracle. Or I suppose we might have a chance if we do it a couple of extra days next week, since my boy will be on Thanksgiving break. But I somehow doubt that, because Jeff will probably doing something on that day as well. Will be lucky if we get to do our usual Sunday.

Anyhoo, I figured I’d better write something, what with all the inactivity here in the Listening Room. Does that make sense? “All the inactivity”? I don’t think it does.

11.15.2010

Cirque du Soleil: "Viva Elvis"

My latest record review was published yesterday on the Vintage Rock websites. I think it's probably the best one I've written so far, though there are plenty of grammatical gaffes. I probably should have done a little more re-writing, but I guess I was satisfied with what I came up with, because I would not turn something in that I thought wasn't good enough to go online. It was also somewhat difficult because I really didn't like the record. Normally I'm able to spin something flattering from just about anything I write about. But this disc was especially insulting to my memories of Elvis' music. I couldn't find too much to recommend it. Anyway, the review is what it is. I hope you enjoy it. 


When I was first told of a Cirque du Soleil tribute to Elvis Presley, I thought, Hey! That's not a bad idea! After all, Cirque du Soleil was responsible for the huge extravaganza that was The Beatles Love. It seemed only logical that the King of Rock would be a topic worthy of their talent and hard work. If not for the influence of Presley there is a good chance that the Beatles might never even have existed. At the very least their music would not have sounded anything like what it did.

Not only did he provide a muse for the Fab Four, by that time he'd already opened the ears of "the kids" to rock and roll music (a feat that earned him much scorn from parents of those same kids). Too many people in this day and age have ho idea why Elvis is "The King". A good part of it is because he was one of the first artists to successfully introduce black music to the white man. Sounds absurd, doesn't it? A relic from the days of segregation and, unpalatable as it certainly is to consider, that was the state of affairs in the 50s when Elvis first began recording. In light of that, it doesn't really matter how many records the man has sold (and/or still sells, post-mortem). It's what he has already DONE that counts. That's why he's afforded regal status.

Which is probably for the best...or WAS, I should say. Eventually even his own performances descended into mediocrity in his final years. His core audience had been reduced to vacationing housewives looking to re-live the "good old days". You can kind of see how his music lost a lot of its relevance. Is Viva Elvis an attempt to bring some of that relevance back? Or is it justanother nostalgic "Those were the Days" free-for-all geared at reaching the folks in Vegas who he catered to during his final years? A little bit of both, I say. With both successes and failures on both fronts.

If you go into Viva Elvis hoping for the same ingenious magic that was evident in The Beatles Love, you will be disappointed. I want to say “sorely disappointed.” but that tag would only apply if you were expecting a similar mash-up style implemented on the Love show. If you aren’t familiar with what a “mash-up” is, don’t worry. It’s not exactly a household word. A “mash-up” is a musical composition which incorporates at least two song elements that fit well together (hence, “mashed up”). Usually more than one band/artist is featured in any given mash-up, but this isn’t always the case. I’ve got one in my collection that mixes and matches the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” and “Ball of Confusion” by the Temptations. If you’d never heard the original songs individually you’d never know there were two instead of one (does that make sense, even?). Actually, Beatles mash-ups aren’t all too hard to find on the Internet. But Love kicked it up several notches by virtue of sound quality alone. That’s not even counting the fact that the sequencing is more creative and extensive than what you’ll ever download from a music blog. Love is one huge, marvelous mash-up with stellar production…which is what you WON’T be getting with Viva Elvis. No doubt part of this is because the man was a SINGER…his talents didn’t extend to writing the music he was singing to. Besides, that stuff’s so DATED, right? Apparently the Viva Elvis people thought so, because the most obvious thing about the album is how “fleshed out” the arrangements are. Not only is the overall SOUND ratcheted up, even whole chord structures are modified.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea. Somewhat jarring, though, when you’ve grown up with the actual Elvis songs. Still, Presley’s voice, given a digital polishing, sounds better than ever, even if it IS floating on top of music that was recorded in a studio 100 times more advanced than any he ever actually recorded in. Hearing all this gloss and sheen I found myself missing the barebones quality of the arcane Sun sessions. I couldn’t help but think that there was no way Viva Elvis could get to those of us who believe his career as a legitimate rock and roll star ended on the day he enlisted in the service. Perhaps it’s for the dying breed of “Elvis could do no wrong” fanatics who will snatch up any and everything even remotely associated with the man. Or maybe it’s meant to be a cool souvenir to help you relive an exciting evening spent with Cirque du Soleil. And it’s obvious that the label hopes to bring some younger listeners into the Presley fold. I mean, come on! They’ve even got DJ Pocket on board to scratch some vinyl. What’s that you say? Who the hell is DJ Pocket?

Bottom line for me, despite any intentions on the part of the label, I just don’t know. The thing is an enigma to me. The concept, I accept, is a clever one. But what it all boils down to is this: Viva Elvis is a novelty record. My tolerance for novelty records is pretty low and this one, though very well done, is just that. Without the accompanying visuals in the stage show it’s kind of hard to really get a feel for what is actually going on here. Some of the sequences and sampled voice clips are downright bizarre when excised from the visuals. A perfect example can be heard in the first two minutes of the record. It’s an introduction, of sorts, filled with the sound of rabid female Elvis fans loudly expressing their devotion, the majestic strains of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (also known is some parts of the south as “Elvis’ Theme Song”) and a host of other semi-related sound bytes. A heavy bossa nova beat descends into the maelstrom and competes with the Strauss piece for rhythmic domination. Not too sure which wins, but it didn’t sound like either was doing what it meant to be doing. The two wildly differing styles battle it out for almost two minutes. TWO MINUTES! Get on with it, brotha.

This all leads to a chopped up version of “Blue Suede Shoes.” You may actually find yourself wishing the intro was even longer when you hear this rendition. One of the coolest things about “Blue Suede Shoes” is in how the music breaks for the vocals with each line (similar to what he did with “Heartbreak Hotel,” which is also presented in mind boggling fashion on Viva Elvis). Well that’s all been re-arranged for this version. The pulsing bass and drums flow monotonously through the whole song. All of the music (save bass and drum) is practically stripped from the song and when guitars finally do come around they sound more like U2’s “Desire” than anything resembling the actual song.

Elvis Presley Enterprises signed off on this whole mess. I have to wonder what Elvis himself would have thought of how this song has been butchered? I won’t presume to speak for the dead, but were it my opinion being solicited I’d have to say that the first order of business at the next board meeting would be all about filling the empty seats left vacant, unwillingly, as a direct result of letting this tune get trampled on so hard.

Okay, so that’s pretty harsh. I admit there are a couple of nice sections scattered throughout the CD’s 42- minute duration. “Burning Love,” for instance, lends itself particularly well to a modern re-make. It at least has that going for it. Yet it’s barely enough to save the tune from the reconstructed chord changes. This chord mangling is pervasive in all of the songs presented here. It’s almost as if the people responsible for Viva Elvis just didn’t like the original chords and decided it would be better to throw in a few of their own.

More strangeness ensues. Can you imagine “That’s All Right” set to a musical hybrid of David Gray and Jet? As far as I’m concerned the end result sounds tailor made for an annoying television commercial.

The pre-release publicity for this album seemed to place no small amount of significance on the fact that Brendan O’Brien produced three of the 12 tracks on the record. “That’s All Right” was the first of that trio. I’m not gonna knock O’Brien. He’s done very well for Pearl Jam. So what if I was disappointed in the two albums he cut with Bruce Springsteen? None of that makes a hill-of-beans as far as Viva Elvis is concerned. Fact is that the songs he worked on here are quite indiscernible from those the other producers did. BIG names like Serban Ghenea, Robert Meunier and Erich van Tourneau. I guess they’re big names, I don’t know. Just because I’ve never heard of them certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t big names.

“Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” are both done up as duets with Dea Norberg and Sherry St. Germain, respectively. More big names. Both of these ladies could probably hold their own with the American Idol set, but they’ll never be mistaken for Aretha Franklin. The third of the Brenden O’Brien tracks, and the finale to the disc, is “Suspicious Minds.” It starts out quite promising. I guess it HAS to, since this one could well be considered the peak of Elvis Presley’s recording career. It’s a well-loved song. It’s a great song, no other way to put it. It’s hard to screw up such a classic song. Good thing O’Brien’s on top of things. Sounds awesome the first couple of minutes, like I’d hoped the whole album would. Elvis’ voice is powerful enough to raise some goose bumps and for once the instrumental music seems perfectly fitted to the part. An almost haunting sound that merges with a heavily processed guitar. You might even mistake it for the signature style of U2’s axe man The Edge. It’s a sound he has honed and milked over the course of 25+ years. It’s wisely pulled back on “Suspicious Minds” to make way, one would assume, for Presley’s priceless voice. Everything moves along smoothly, even beautifully. It does, that is, until the 1:35 time marker comes around, at which point the mood is totally destroyed by the entrance of the garage band who practice down the street from where you live. With only a brief respite the rockers come back and don’t leave until the song is over. Makes me want to drag out the original and listen to it just to get the bad taste out of my ears.

I’ve raked this record over the coals, I realize. And to be honest, that kind of bugs me. I want SO MUCH to like “Viva Elvis” - or perhaps I mean “what I thought it could have been.” It teases just enough to make you think, “Wait a minute!
This ain’t so bad after all!” But then something comes along so wretched that you wonder how you came to the conclusion that it could possibly be redeemed in the first place.

Of course, I’m looking at it (listening to it) as if it were a typical CD release, not even thinking about the Cirque du Soleil aspect. That’s an important facet, too, because the one thing I can tell you with certainty is that Viva Elvis is, at its core, a SOUNDTRACK album. I don’t see it as being considered as much more than that. That’s how it comes across. Were I to experience the Cirque du Soleil event, I would no doubt buy a copy at the merchandise stand. But the only reason for purchasing it would be to remember the show itself. I’d probably never listen to it again. If times really got tough it would be one of the first discs in my collection to be sacrificed to the weird dude behind the counter at the used CD store.

11.13.2010


Henryk Gorecki, Rest in Peace

Henryk Gorecki
December 6, 1933 - November 12, 2010

Today I mourn the passing of one of the most significant composers in contemporary orchestral music. His 3rd Symphony has long been my favorite work in that genre. The arrangement he completed of the choral work "Totuus Tuus" is nothing short of stunning. You would do well to find out for yourself what a talented, gifted individual he was, and here are a couple of links to Amazon for you to purchase his these two works. If you enjoy classical music even a little bit you will no doubt enjoy these records.







11.03.2010

Music Video of the Week: James Taylor

Over 2,000,000 hits on YouTube, I can't believe it's taken me so long to find this video. My all-time favorite James Taylor song (actually I'm not too fond of Taylor, but this one is definitely the exception to that rule). Enjoy.


"You Can Close Your Eyes"
James Taylor (w/Carly Simon)

10.31.2010

You're only as OLD as you feel...

I'm not old. I know I'm not. 48 years is NOT old, despite how much my son wants to tease me about graygrey hair or the way younger people, in their twenties and even thirties, seem to think it probably is. When I had my first bout with chest pains the doctor told me I was "still a young man" and that I was "reasonably healthy". Does this not count for something? Of course, as I stretched out on that observation table in the emergency room I could not help but be a bit apprehensive when the nurse asked me if I'd made a will yet and, if not, if I were aware of the advantages of a "living will". I even had to sign off on an official looking document that stated I was aware of the option and declined. I figured I'd think on it after the ordeal was over. I sure as hell didn't want to think about it at the time.

Well, that's been several months gone by...considering I'd never had anything like this happen to me before you'd think that I could remember not only the month and the day, but even the exact time. But it's been a spell up the road since then. Suffice to say that I have not given further consideration to a living will. I don't think about it. More importantly, I don't WANT to think about it. I live in denial of a lot of things, but that one is pretty close to the front of the line. Besides, what have I got to bequeath anyway? My massive collection of 3,000 CDs? This crappy Vaio I'm typing this on, with the DVD Drive shot and the headphone input on the fritz? Maybe all the books I've picked up at garage sales and library book fairs? The lot would fill a large closet, and set me back probably a total of ten bucks over the course of the last 30 years. Living will? I don't need no stinking living will. What I'll need is someone who is LIVING and is WILLING to throw it all out the curb.

But not really. I'm sure my son will enjoy the CDs. I know I will regret, and regret even now, that my legacy won't benefit him financially as he deserves. Not to mention my wife, who is entitled to a sum of money roughly equivalent to the national deficit for all she's put up with and all she's done for me. The Salvation Army will appreciate the return of many books sold for a quarter. Pure recycling and 100% profit for the bell ringers.

Still, 48...this ain't the 17th century...human life spans are considerably longer than they were even 50 years ago. Surely that's got to play into my situation? Vitamin enriched cereals, fluoride in the tap water, the ability to book time in the emergency room is as simple as going to the hospital website and clicking a few buttons. The comforts of home, central heating and air, the marvels of electricity and health advice dispensed by doctors whose show airs immediately after Oprah's. Everything seems to be going in my favor, right? Then why do I feel like I'm 10 years older than the man in the mirror?

The weight of experience. That's it.

No, that's not it. Everyone has their own personal &%#* they have to deal with. I'm no exception to that rule. It just seems like most folks hold up better than I have. I don't think that makes me a weak man. I've just been dealt a crappy hand that lowers my tolerance for the beatings that time dishes out. This particular crappy hand is called bipolar disorder and I'd just as soon not talk about it. Too many misconceptions floating around out there. It's like every time you hear about some wacky homicidal maniac emptying a gun on innocent bystanders, saving up that last round for his own noggin, he/she is said to "suffer from bipolar disorder". Which, I guess, is as good an excuse as any, but I'm not about to play Grim Reaper in the Shawnee Mall. I would just as soon not be subjected to the stigma...and anyone who says that our society has progressed enough to where people with mental health issues are treated with the same respect and dignity as well adjusted individuals is only fooling themselves. This is not my paranoia talking, it's just reality. "He must be bipolar" is the 21st century version of "He must be crazy". I'm not rallying for change here. Frankly, I don't see change coming anytime soon. People are people. Some things make them uncomfortable. I feel the same way about incestuous lesbians on the Jerry Springer show. But I'm no killer.

I digress. The original topic was how old I often feel. And it's not that I'm wanting to lay it all on bipolar disorder, but it most assuredly has worn me out. Maybe it's my efforts to keep myself pulled together that has made me tired. Not sure I can blame it for neglecting my health, but I guarantee that if you gave me a couple of hours I could make a good case for it.

You want to know how old I feel? I find myself enjoying the local "oldies" station increasingly more since the playlist progressed into the decade of the seventies. I'm liking songs I actually hated back then just because they remind of how crappy a lot of radio was at the time. I turn on the Sirius XM "70s on 7" channel, lay back and pretend I'm still a teenager listening to the radio in my room, head covered under sheets hoping my dad won't catch me awake after bedtime. No matter that my motto at the time was "Disco Sucks"...these days I have a developed appreciation and fluid knowledge of disco. I'll turn the radio down low when it's bedtime - can barely hear the music, but I recognize it instantly and the comfort it brings will help me fall asleep...with the help of Ambien, of course, but still, it's not as if the pill dissolves into the blood stream instantly. I've got to keep my wandering mind occupied until it comes to the end of the road and knocks me out. What I REALLY like is when they play a song I can just barely remember, a tune that maybe was a minor hit and only received minimum airplay in it's day. I may have only heard it once in 1975, but by God I'll recognize it in 2010. Hey, what do you know, my memory still has a little life left.

Unfortunately all that great (and not-so-great) music has to be processed through some significantly nerve damaged eardrums and the constant static, ringing and white noise associated with tinitus. I was a damned fool to think that volume was the desired result in the music I've played the last quarter century (live and on record/8-Track/cassette/CD/mp3 files). I'd warn the young 'uns, but I was a young 'un once and I know they won't listen or care: loudness is addictive. I fear that I will not be able to tolerate the total absence of silence for who knows how much longer. I cannot ignore it, but I do have a method I use that sometimes helps: I imagine that I'm listening to an 8-Track tape, with all the hiss and the music on the other tracks bleeding through. It didn't bother me all that much when I was a kid, so if I can find a way to put my mind in the same place I do alright. Then again, I wasn't listening to classical music at the time. I somehow doubt I could have tolerated the Adagio from Mahler's 5th Symphony through the tinny speakers of my Lear deck.

I won't bother complaining about the other 4 senses and the manner in which each has disintegrated into the performance ability they currently display. I could rant about the 2 years spent looking through a pair of eyeglasses that weren't the proper prescription, but I suppose I'd have to share too much responsibility for not realizing, after a few months, that it wasn't just a case of "getting used to them". I don't know how much damage was done. I've got a prescription now that I think are done right. But you just don't know. There is, of course, still the matter of "getting used to them", so who knows how much better they will work once that's accomplished. Maybe my eyes have adjusted to the point where they are as good as I'm gonna get. If such is the case I suppose I'll have no choice but to get used to them. It won't be easy, but at least I can see halfway decently already with them.

Here's the deal, though, and this is what keeps me feelin' like a spring chicken: I don't need Viagra. Never had to call my physician after 4 hours...never had to ask my doctor if I was healthy enough for sexual activity (I don't think I'd want to know the answer to that one)...To me, ED stands for "Extremely Delicious" and is used in reference to the prime rib at Chili's. I don't mean to insult anyone who requires treatment for impotency, notr do I mean to suggest that such impotency is always apparent in the elderly. I'm only trying to prove the more important point, that I am not an impotent man. Now you know.

When my boy says the hair on my head is now a 50/50 split between brown and gray, it does not hurt my feelings. At least I'm not bald, right? Then he points out that I am balding on the back top of my head. No big deal. I just politely remind him that "balding" does not mean "bald", and until it does there's nothing for me to be concerned with. When, while dining out, he complains about having to wait for me to finish a meal, seeing as how he took his last bite 30 minutes ago, I just tell him what my old man told me: "Chew slower and you'll enjoy it more". I don't chew slower deliberately. I chew slower because I want to make some good memories about what it's like to chew. It won't be too much longer...

"Age ain't nuthin' but a number", right? I guess that's real easy to say when you're 25. Yet, in the Grand Scheme of Things, it is true enough. They also say "You aren't getting older, you're just getting better", and I have a pretty good idea that's not typical. At least not on this side of the fence. If that ER doc says I'm "reasonably healthy" and "still a young man", who am I to dismiss him? I'll get through and get to it, with a little adapting and suspension of disbelief. To be honest I am kind of ready to revisit the past some and not worry so much about "the next big thing". That will be for my son to find. Time has come for me to rest in what I've found. One can only hope that it will be sufficient. I've searched hard enough. Time to dig out the treasure chest and see what we can find. 

10.30.2010

I've seen a lot of bizarre films and movies, but this one tops them all. If your mind isn't boggled halfway through the video then you aren't paying attention.


10.13.2010

Music Video of the Week: Flat Duo Jets

I used to have this clip on VHS, recorded from what was, at the time, one of my favorite shows, MTV's "The Cutting Edge". I thought Dexter Romweber was one mighty cool S.O.B.


"Think It Over"
Flat Duo Jets

10.12.2010

Stare at this nifty image for 30 seconds, then look away. Amazingly the objects around you will begin to warp almost as if you were in the initial stages of an acid trip. Unfortunately the effect only lasts for a few seconds, but hey, it's free. I promise it is NOT one of those silly things you stare at for a long time until you're relaxed and then some demon comes out screaming, ostensibly scaring you shitless.


10.11.2010

Ron Wood: "I Feel Like Playing"

Sent in this review today to vintagerock.com. I don't know that it's my best one, but I think I enjoyed writing it more than the others. I'm hoping I might get the opportunity to write the review for Springsteen's upcoming box. Now THAT one will be a blast to listen to, watch and write. This Ron Wood review should, hopefully if they like it, go live in the next few days.

Ron Wood - "I Feel Like Playing"

Ron Wood's got a day job. We all know that. As Keith Richards' sidekick he helped steer the Stones back to the rock and blues roots they seemed to be veering away from on the last couple of albums they released before he came on board. Almost as if they'd lost the spark after the classic double shot of "Sticky Fingers" and (the legendary) "Exile on Main Street". As fine a guitarist as Mick Taylor most definitely was, something just stopped working and it was glaringly evident throughout "Goat's Head Soup". It's a record that has it's strengths, but bogged down with even more weaknesses. Not the least of which, I might add, being how some songs didn't even sound like the Stones at all ("Comin' Down Again" and "Angie" are good examples). The follow-up, "It's Only Rock and Roll" continued the trend...and don't get me wrong here, folks, I LIKE both of these records. Maybe for sentimental reasons, but I do think there are some great songs..."Winter", "Fingerprint File", "Time Waits For No One"...but there's still a sense of "something's missing here" with these two albums.

Then Taylor leaves the band and the whole ballgame changes. It's "put-up or shut-up" for the Glimmer Twins and their partners. Enter Woodie. Like no one else he fit the mold so perfectly you have to wonder how they made it during all those years before he came on board. That's not to denigrate Brian Jones or Mick Taylor...not a bit...but Ron Wood was BORN to be a Rolling Stone. It was just a matter of fate catching up with the wild ride, or I suppose it was the other way around...regardless of who/what got there first, Ron Wood came along and a little bit of the raunch returned. If anyone needed proof that Mick & the boys had been rejuvenated it took only one listen to "Some Girls" and the point was understood

A lot of people think that "Some Girls" was, to a certain degree, the Stones' reaction to the blossoming punk/new wave movement of the time. No doubt it is that. But the one thing, in my opinion, that gave that album it's vigor, attitude and rawness was the new guy on the job. While Mick Taylor's incredible fluid guitar style was well-suited to the band's sound, providing a counterpoint to Keef's rhythm, Ron Wood turned the whole "rhythm guitar/lead guitar" dynamic on it's head. The two of them trade licks and lock in on a groove with such finely tuned rapport that one is hard pressed to discern which is which and who is who. Most likely their brand of ragged guitar slinging would not work with any other band, but for the Rolling Stones it was a lifeline to relevance. Just as there would be no Rolling Stones without Jagger, Richards & Watts, original members and all, the loss of Ron Wood, at this point in the band's reign, would be just as devastating. Not just because he's been with the band longer than Taylor and/or Brian Jones...For an enormous number of people (a couple of generations, even) Woodie might as well have been with them from the start. Visually he is the perfect counterpart to Keith Richards' staggering "barely able to hold on to his guitar" stage persona. He seems to share anothe quality with Keith: he looks like he can't be bothered with Mick Jagger's exaggerated dance moves and over-inflated ego. In fact, he sometimes comes off as if he thinks it's all a joke. Which it is, but it's still cool to know that most of the band are in on it...watch Charlie sometimes and you'll see exactly what I mean...his air of "I'd-rather-be-anywhere-but-here" is impossible to miss.

Who knows how long the Rolling Stones will keep on truckin'? I admit I thought their touring days were over at least 10 years ago. Maybe they should have been, but we're talking about "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World" here. It's one of those things where people feel like they have to see the Stones at least once before they die (not the band, mind you...Too old to rock and roll? Well, records like "Voodoo Lounge" and "Bridges to Babylon" would argue for the postition that, yes, there comes a time when you should walk away. But from what I've seen of some of their later tours...admittedly only on DVDs...they just keep getting better when it comes to live performance. Yes, I chalk that up to Ron Wood's contribution to the band.

"What?" you ask incredulously. "Not Mick?" No. Mick looks like a fool primping and preening all over the stage like a male stripper from a nursing home. That's something to behold, I admit. How many of you have 70 year old grandfathers who can bust a move like Mick? But take this into consideration: How many of would want to WATCH your 70 year old grandfather busting that same move? Not many, I'd venture to say. And Jagger's voice has not held up well over the course of the years. For most vocalists that would spell the end of a career. Fortunately Mick was never all that much of a singer in the first place. He has a unique voice that is every bit as rock and roll as Sun Records and Muscle Shoals. We like it. I like it. I can't imagine ANYONE ELSE doing "Sway" (my favorite Stones tune). "Wild Horses" would be a lame duck without Mick's fragile, broken voice. No one does Lucifer like Mick Jagger, and so "Sympathy For the Devil" would not be half as menacing if not for him. For all that, though, years will take their toll. That endearing voice has turned into a croak.

"Okay, but surely Keith is the key to their success." A much better case can be made for this argument. I mean, if there's one thing in the world you can count on, it's how COOL Keith Richards is. Yes, if I'm going to a Rolling Stones concert, I'm going to see Keith. Keith doesn't NEED anyone. Jones at his side, Taylor at his side, even Wood at his side, he doesn't NEED 'em. Then again, a couple of solo albums proved that he DOES need the context that the Stones provide. The bulk of that context comes from his interaction with Ronnie Wood. Hell, for all I know, were it not for Woodie Keith might not even bother going on the road. I would wager that were it not for the return to rock that Wood brought to the table Keef very likely would have long ago retired from the Stones, consequently ending that band's remarkable tenure.

"Charlie?" you ask, desperately. Well, yeah, Charlie's an awesome drummer, not simply for the talent he displays but also for the tasteful, restrained style that allows the other musicians to shine. He knows what a drummer is there for. As a timepiece, a clock, a rock solid anchor for the band. I believe that his departure would put an end to the Stones every bit as quickly as the abdication of Jagger, Richards and Wood. Some people may disagree with me, but I don't care. They're wrong. They would relent if they ever had a chance to hear a Watt-less version of the band. What all this says about Bill Wyman is beyond me. Although I will say that his absence in the over-all sound is, to me, quite noticeable, I don't think it would be out of line to suggest that he may well have been expendable.

So, you see, it's Ron who is the glue that holds the band together. Content to stay, relatively, to the side and let the original members shine, he takes on a much greater burden than most people know. He does it well. Yeah, he had a real good gig going in the old days with Rod and Ian and the Faces. But his destiny was to stand beside Keith Richards, trading guitar licks and running through a battery of "wasted rock star" moves. Not, by any stretch of the imagination, an easy job.

But it is HIS job, and it's secure, and it pays for art supplies, and a stint in rehab and now he's used up some of his income to record a solo album. All that rot I wrote earlier about Ronnie being the engine that keeps the Stones viable as a live act? You can dismiss it as the foolish opinion of another man if you wanna. I'm not necessarily that man. I'm certainly not saying it's a theory that I, personally, subscribe to. Only that it is a logical one that no doubt can be defended successfully by anyone who actually agrees with it.

But today, Ron Wood has the day off. Not only that, he's not in the mood to break out the canvas and brushes. He's been home for a reasonable bit of time spent at one of those Betty Ford rehab places, so the temptation to return to hard drugs has not become strong enough for him to feel like spending the day on another planet. Nope, despite picking up the guitar and rocking practically non-stop all year long, Woody-O'-Boy feels like playing. That's right...he wants to sling that Tele 'round his shoulder, turn up the volume and let 'er wail without having to pick up the slack from the pirate to his right. A chance to hear the sound of his own voice instead of that lascivious, lecherous snarl from that skinny man who usually stands in front of him. The guy with the botox-overdosed lips. He's sick and tired of not even being asked by Jagger or Richards for his opinion of their lyrics. Which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't hate so many of them. He would have given some of those songs the red-light-thumbs-down get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge veto. But no, do you think they care about his opinions?

That treatment gets a man down. As well it should. But what are you going to do? I once had occasion to ask a very enlightened being that same question. And this is a guru whose opinions and advice are to be trusted. He's on a different wave-length, a pipeline to the Big Guy's chambers. So I asked this guy a question.

"What, O exalted Swami," I said. "What are you going to do?" His answer surprised even me (and I am not easily surprised). "Oh, Grasshopper," he said with a slight bow, "You are so inquisitive. 'What are you going to do?' you ask. Let me tell you, and be not surprised if you find yourself rubbing the back of your head, saying 'Why didn't I think of this?' when I have finished speaking. You didn't think of it because you aren't a fraction as smart as you think you are. But here's the deal: If you feel like playing, play. Play as long as you want, until you feel like doing something else. Then go do it. You've got the day off, you know. Best enjoy it."

Had Ron Wood been in my shoes, he would have embraced the wisdom of Maharashi and shouted "Damn right! I FEEL LIKE PLAYING!" So he did. Furthermore, he didn't just feel like playing, he also felt like recording the results, perhaps to listen to on the plane between Rolling Stones shows when he wants to remind himself of the music he's capable of making on his own instead of the same old re-treads his employers expect from him. Bowing to the fickle whims of Jagger often makes it difficult to remember that there was a time, not so long ago, when he shut it all out, called up some friends, took 'em all out for cocktails and weenies, then laid down some tracks of his own, if you get where I'm coming from, emphasis on "HIS OWN".

Pretty high profile friends he's got, too. That's to be expected, what with his notoriety as the man behind the Stones. But Woody counts as close companions, not one, but TWO potential back-up band members who opt to use "one-word names". No, not the ones you're thinking: Madonna and Cher. Both of whom would have added much to be lauded on "I Feel Like Playing" (...okay, maybe not really). These guys don't even use their OWN names (I assume...heh heh). Ronnie's gonna pair up with that Slash dude. You know, the one with the hunchback, always wears a nasty, dirty top hat, cigarette super-glued to his upper lip. He's been doing a lot of session work these days, and I'm sure it pays, but I would hope that the opportunity to jam with a legend of Woodie's stature would be all it took to talk him into that gig. I can't say that I'm a Guns-n-Roses fan. Oh, I suppose I could say that, but I would be lying. Even so, I do think that this Slash feller has some legitimate talent.

Then there's that Flea gentleman from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He, too, has done so much side work you'd be excused for thinking his main squeeze band had broken up. Flea is an odd duck, that's for sure. He's dyed his hair practically every color of the rainbow. He refuses to wear shirts or long-legged pants. He kind of has this look about him of general slovenliness and uncleanliness. It's not hard to put two and two together and get a good idea of how he got his name. But one thing that must be said about him, he can play a rock and/or funk bass like it's nobody's business. He may indeed have one of those "love-'em-or-hate-'em" personalities (of which I definitely veer towards the latter), but when it comes to workin' the ol' four-banger he is the man to call.

So Ronnie called him. Slash got an invite, too. Heavy hitters, right? Well check this out...BILLY GIBBONS! Yes, the beard swingin' axe man for Barbecue Cookout boogie rock monsters ZZ Top. For some reason I just can't get my mind around the idea of Gibbons and Wood collaborating. But hey. There you go. What are you gonna do, Zen Master? Much easier to conceive of Ron calling in a favor from former Faces cohort Ian McLagen. Or hooking up with Bobbie Womack, offering up a slot as a backing vocalist...who but a Rolling Stone could talk a talent like Womack into relegating his duties to BACKGROUND VOCALS??? But there you are. It's the same reason studio legends are drawn to him. People like Jim Keltner and Waddy Wachtel, who you probably have never heard of unless you read the liner notes to about 25% or every record ever released (not saying that as an exact number, even if it may well be close, but only to suggest how prevalent these guys are, and long have been, as prominent studio musicians).

And that's how it happened, no doubt. Or something a lot like it. Or maybe not, they might have just been sending tracks through cyberspace to work on in the privacy of their own homes. There may have been no bacchanal for Slash and Ronnie to fall off of the wagon in. There may have been no grand orgy break out before the sessions, Flea all dripping with mud as sweat pours down his body. No big party to inspire all the players to get on the same page and let Ron crack the whip. I don't know, I wasn't there, but I imagine it takes more than is humanly possible to get all these hot shots in the same room together. The easy money says it was finished in bits and pieces. Which, I don't suppose is such a bad thing, but it definitely lacks a certain raunchy nuance that seems limited to a group of like minded (or not) musicians playing TOGETHER, staring down each other, just waiting for the chance to impress one of the others.

"I Feel Like Playing", even though it may not be, often sounds like one of those "e-mail me the tracks and I'll do a few then we'll send it to the next guy" affairs. There's a certain "rawness" I guess I've come to expect from Ron Wood, having only heard him with the Stones. Though there are rough edges, there aren't enough, IMO. Keith Richards was able to transfuse this rawness to his solo albums and it's practically what saved them from banality. Wood lacks that quality, but "I Feel Like Playing" doesn't sink to quite that level, maybe because most of us DON'T really know what to expect in a solo record from him.

What we get is a collection of 12 songs that are basically solid throughout. Neither Slash nor Flea get a chance to show off too much. If you were to listen to the album until you were sick of it, and no one told you that these guys were backing Wood, you would never know. There would never come a time you would suddenly realize, "Hey! That sounds like Flea on that song!" or "Gee, that is definitely a Slash signature guitar riff, what the hell is HE doing on this record?" "Billy Gibbons? No way, you're just messing with my head!" All of which is a good thing, IMO. This is Wood's show, after all. They play very well. Excellent, even, for what the songs demand. But the last thing Ron Wood NEEDS is an all-star supporting cast. None of them are truly in his league...nope, not even Billy Gibbons.

As to be expected, Ronnie's strengths on the album are his writing and playing. The songs are engaging with a lot of potential. Unfortunately some of them aren't fleshed out to the extent that they reach it. I'm not so much referring to the songs themselves as I am the production and arrangement). Wood's not a bad vocalist. In my mind, though, he's become inseperable with Keith Richards so for some reason I expect him to sound a little like him, too. For the most part, he doesn't. For me this took a little getting used to. When I did, however, it was plain that Ron has his own voice, apart from anything I might have expected. And it is a very good rock and roll voice, even if there's nothing remarkable about it. I can live without that...but it's not as easy to let sub-standard lyrics pass me by. "Sub-standard" is a bit harsh, I guess. But I won't lie. You'll never get them confused with Bob Dylan's...but you may confuse Ronnie's VOCALS with Dylan's, on the opener, "Why You Wanna Go and Do a Thing Like That For" (a title which is alternately competing with many, many others as "Most Cumbersome Title of All Time" as well as "Title You Would Only Expect to Find On a Smooth Jazz Album"). RW, on this song and in other places on the album, sounds exactly like later period Dylan to my ears. I bet the similarity will not go unnoticed by anyone else who, shall we say, "knows their stuff".

Despite it's moniker, "WYWGADATLTF" is a highlight on "I Feel Like Playing". The only cover song on the album, a great and unique rendition of Dixon's "Spoonful", is another exceptional moment. Yes, yet another "Spoonful". But this one really is worth hearing. "Lucky Man", too, is a good opportunity to hear what Wood is capable of, as a songwriter, when he isn't tied and shackled to the Glimmer Twins. Despite bearing no revelations of Ronnie Wood's genius, nevertheless, "I Feel Like Playing" entertains and will remind you of why he was good enough to be a Stone in the first place.

9.24.2010


I'm not sure who drew this, but whoever it was had a lot of talent and imagination.


Alice Cooper: "Black Juju" live 1971

I can't believe I found this vintage clip of Alice Cooper performing "Black Juju" way back in 1971. Excellent sound and video quality, even if the band's overall mix was a bit sketchy. I made the comment on facebook that people compare him to Marilyn Manson, and it's always about who is the most shocking of the two. I will admit that Manson is shocking. That's just about all he is. But where Manson shocks, Cooper DISTURBS, and this is abuntantly evident in this clip. Enjoy nine minutes of pure, dark genius.




AWESOME!


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After posting this I went to YouTube to scour for old Coop videos. I was surprised by how many I found, so what the hell...









9.23.2010

This kind of thing may only be of interest to me, but here you go:

NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE COVERS

Oh, and here's the first National Lampoon I ever bought. June 1974. I had just turned 12. And people wonder why my sense of humor is so messed up.


9.22.2010

Sorry for the lack of activity lately. I haven't gone this long without posting in a long time. When I last apologized I said it was because I had a lot of thinking to do. I still do, I guess, but most of it is already done. It's nothing I'd want to share on this blog, though. At least not at this time. The main reasons I haven't posted lately are:

1. The dog we adopted a few weeks ago demands a lot of attention.
2. I've been doing a lot of writing at the Hello Poetry website, where I am currently at Number Four in the list of Favorite Poets. Not bad for only being there for only being there for about a week. Yesterday I wrote what may well be the best poem I've ever composed. It's called "Rain" and it's at the Bipolar Confessional as well. It's based on a cool idea I came up with earlier that morning...an idea I think would make for an really good movie.
3. With all that poetry writing my wrists have been KILLING me. I'd taken control of the situation fairly well for quite some time, but it's turned bad on me again. I have been under the impression that weather, and changes in the weather, were partly to blame. That may well be so...but it's been fairly stable the last several days, so I just don't know.

That's about it. Hopefully the pain will subside, I will find something to write and/or post about, and we can get this ball rolling again. In the meantime, enjoy the Music Video of the Week below. "The Cisco Kid" by War...BADASS!

Music Video of the Week: War


"The Cisco Kid"
War

9.13.2010

Sireeno, our dog



He just loves my feet. Audio/Video sync is off. Sorry. Someone donate a new video camera to me and it won't happen again.

One of my favorite issues from one of the best magazines ever published. It's been at least 40 years since I bought my first copy of Famous Monsters and even now I miss it.

9.11.2010



Nine years down the road...it's still hard to believe something like 9/11 could have happened. All of the thoughts, all of the memorials...it all boils down to one thing. The world we live in today is only 9 years old.

8.31.2010

I've got a lot of things I need to think over right now, so I doubt the posting here is going to be as regular as it has been. I'll try to at least post the Music Video of the Week every Wednesday, but I can't guarantee too much more. Thanks.

8.27.2010

This is from a comment I posted on facebook today...the original topic was the whether or not it is possible for gays to "change" their sexual orientation, and become heterosexual (or, I suppose, celibate). As is wont to happen, the conversation drifted to religion, and so this is what my post was about:

I'm glad this gargantuan thread is not dead yet, because I really, really want to know the answer to the question I posed last night. Mark, WHY do you think our culture seeks to deny Christianity? For what purpose?

Also, a hypothetical question: if a man showed up in your hometown tomorrow and did every single one of the miracles that Christ did, if he was killed in the same manner that Christ was, and, most importantly if he rose from the grave, over 2,000 years after the resurrection of Jesus, then told you he was Krishna, incarnated once again to put and end to this age of Kali, would you abandon Christianity as it is practiced in the myriad denominations? If so, would you abandon it in order to follow Krishna or because of the revelation that Jesus Christ is not the only "Son of God"?

And don't think it couldn't happen. It happened once before, didn't it? Never say never. God will manifest himself whenever the %#(* hits the fan to the most extreme level. That's kind of what Revelation teaches, so the concept is not new, even if the particulars of my hypothetical situation don't exactly line up. What would you do? How would you handle that situation? Would it strengthen your belief in God? Would you still embrace Christianity, even though it had become obvious that God apparently works in mysterious, unpredictable ways that mortal man cannot fathom and which are not confined to the teachings of Christianity?

How does this tie in to our culture denying Christianity? Perhaps the RELIGION of Christianity NEEDS to be denied to make room for the possibility of new revelation. When there are so many people who think that the "true God" can only be found in the pages of a book when all signs point to His blessings of the majority of mankind, Christian and heathen alike, are on display for the whole universe to see, don't you think it's time for a change? If this book, which is so dated as to suggest that women should know their place and keep their mouths shut in church, and offers instructions on how to treat your slaves, if this book is so incomprehensible to so many people, why is it revered like a holy grail? Maybe it's okay to question the absolute divine inspiration of the scriptures. To put it all into perspective. Why can't people see it for what it is: a treasure trove of wisdom and an excellent introduction to the ALL via a good bunch of very interesting characters.

Perhaps this is what you meant when you referred to my earlier comments as "anti-Christian", and though I defended myself, the more I think about it, maybe I AM an adamant anti-Christian. The splintering of the original church seems an obvious sign that Jesus' teachings of love, brotherhood and forgiveness have been universally ignored. So hey, looks to me like this religion his fallible followers created just didn't work and isn't working today. That's not Jesus' fault. And it's not really the church fathers who are to blame, either. You can't even blame Satan, unless your definition of "Satan" is man's inborn stubbornness and inability to deal with the facts of life in a dualistic world.

Just as a One World religion would probably end up disasterour, so a One Religion world is a recipe for trouble. Then again, a One World religion has a much greater chance for success than a One Religion world. New denominations spring up on such a regular basis that you have to wonder just how many things there are in the bible for people to interpret differently to the point where they feel like migrating, leaving behind the heresy. A One Religion world would fragment so completely that religion itself would go the way of the dinosaurs and people would look back with longing nostalgia at the days when the world enjoyed religious freedom and several religions with which to exercise that freedom.

What does that have to do with Christianity? I think it's obvious. Christianity seeks to bring ALL souls "into the fold". It's ultimate purpose is the realization of that One Religion world I spoke of. Never mind that it admits that the goal can never be reached, by virtue of "the stubbornness of man" and the "influence of Satan". The fact that it champions this One Religion world is cause enough, IMO, for the culture to deny it. Perhaps? It's not a denial of Jesus Christ, of the things He taught and stood for. Is it a denial of his resurrection? Maybe, maybe not, but I have come to the conclusion that a lot of Christians see that event mainly as "a good reason to pay attention to what the Guy said before we crucified Him." Or that, "since it's never happened before, I guess he really was the Son of God, like he said he was." But how do we know Jesus was the only human to ever rise from the grave? Thousands and thousands and untold thousands of years of history, unwritten and unknown. So, what the culture thinks about the resurrection is not all that relevant, IMO.

Culture is nothing but a mirror of society. It society is ready for a change, or to use a more appropriate word, NEEDING a change, this is going to shine through in the art, politics, humanities, etc. of our culture. Christianity is such an insular institution anyway that I don't know why it bothers them to be denied...it's not as if they weren't warned that this would happen.

Once again, sorry so long. I just had a lot on my mind, as the conversation here has inspired me to really dig down deep to examine the place I've come to on the journey. Thanks for your patience and don't forget that question about why the culture persecutes Christianity (your opinion, that is, because I think I've come to an answer on my own while writing this).

Oh, wait...I do have two more pressing questions...
1.) Why is Katy Perry so hot???
2.) Why in God's name is she hooked up with Russell Brandt?