Friday, December 29, 2006
As everyone knows, everything in Australia is the reverse of what it is in the rest of the world. Its fish breathe air, its men have boobs and its summer lasts from December to February. The author subtly illustrates these differences by detailing the kid's traveling attire:
"Dressed for the Australian summer in t-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday."
It's obvious to me where the editor's redlines fell, because that passage should have read:
"Dressed for the Australian summer in t-shirt, shorts, socks and sandals..."
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Oh, and also, Lodi is pronounced low-dye. Or load eye, if you prefer.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Our military has suffered nearly 3,000 deaths. On an intellectual level, I understand that dying is an occupational hazard one assumes upon choosing to be a soldier. But that doesn't make stories like the one above any less heartbreaking.
Of course, I want this heartbreak to weigh upon the men who started this war with the same totality as the families of every person killed in battle. And maybe it does. Maybe I'm just sad, angry and presumptuous. Maybe I'm making unfair assumptions about our leaders. After all, what do I know about sacrifice, railing at them from the safety of a suburban home? What do I know about the pressures and guilt of running a country in time of war? How dare I presume to know the heart of men who send others to give their lives for their country? Well, President Bush, I guess I have to give you a pass, because I can't read your mind or hear your heart. But God can. I hope you and He are cool about all this.
And what of that, anyway? Given Bush's public proclamations of faith, I wonder what it is that he and God are actually talking about every morning. I hope he isn't asking for wisdom, because if he is, God doesn't seem to be listening. When I started this post, I was filled with righteous indignation, excited at the prospect of declaring "fuck you, President Bush" in big, bolded, angry capital letters. Now I am just sad and even a little frightened. If the President, whose faith is apparently embedded in his character, can't get an open channel, what hope have we who have lapsed into cynicism and doubt?
Maybe he isn't asking God for wisdom. Maybe he's asking for, I dunno, catfish filets or a cure for hiccups or something. I kinda hope that's the case, because I still like to think that God is a pragmatic being. I expect to get denied when I pray for two aces on a split pair of tens. However, wisdom in times of crisis is a very reasonable request, and I don't think God should be silent when His children come looking for some. I can handle it if this disastrous war is a function of Bush's praying for the wrong things. I am ill at ease, however, if he is praying for an end and God is saying no.
Then again, maybe God is counciling President Bush on the direction of the war. If that's the case, then the universe is way more existential than I am comfortable with.
Sorry to bum anybody out. Appreciate the moments with your family and friends, for God doesn't have a rhyme or reason that makes any sense. Life may turn according to His plan, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Anyway, I got rid of the beard and the accompanying longish non-haircut (seen here in this file photo) in an effort to look a little more professional for work. I had recently been pegged as a doppelganger for the Burger King, and while I did receive all the accolades you would expect, I was a little embarrassed when I had to lead a meeting looking like a roadie for Molly Hatchet. Trust me, it wasn't nearly as cool as it sounds. So I cleaned up, or rather I at least cleaned up the hair and the beard. I still kept the mustache.
Now mustaches can be cool, and I think mine falls within the parameters of coolness. Plus, I drive a shitty van, which practically demands that I have one. This isn't my first mustache, but it's the longest time I've kept one, post-beard. I thought I could hack it until the new year, but I bailed, and it went down the sink this morning.
Since Wednesday, I have been in Lodi visiting my family for Christmas. My stay has been punctuated by two developments. The first was a giant, underground, pulsating zit on my cheek right next to my nose. It is so large and red that if I were to stand on a traffic island, I'm confident that cars would stop and wait for the zit to turn green. When one's face has such a captivating topographic feature, it doesn't really need anything else to draw attention to it. So I started thinking, hey, you're going to be seeing relatives later--maybe you should lose the molestache.
The other development that sealed the deal was a trip I made to the scale. Now I know I've put on some weight. I tried on some old suit pants recently; the button and hook were about as likely to hook up as Jerry Falwell and Harvey Fierstein. Last time I checked, I was in the low 180s, but this time, the scale showed 197. And that was after I had been to the toilet. So I started jogging. I figured I'm here for a week; I might as well be productive, especially since I'll be eating (figurative language alert) copious amounts of crap for the next few days.
So there I was, running around my parents subdivision, calves clenching, sweat streaming, lungs giving me dirty looks. I had a motivational iPod mix that went from warm-up speed (Tijuana Brass Band) to Run to the Hills. I was pumped. I was driven. I was even visualizing. As I puffed past the neighborhood park, there were, several middle-schoolers pretending to play on the swingset. And in a fantastic example of karmic retribution, the lead-twerp said, "Nice mustache, douche."
"The kids these days!" I said to myself, quickly realizing that not only did I look like an old man, but I that I thought like one, too. And of course, because my life isn't a movie, I didn't stop to deliver any of the clever remarks I made in the imaginary scenarios that unfolded in my head as I ran away. But here they are, anyway, and writing them out makes me feel twice as lame, if that is even possible.
"Nice mustache, douche!"
"Thanks! Good thing for you that I have one."
"Because if I shave it off, I'm overcome with an uncontrollable urge to kill kids."
"Nice mustache, douche!"
"Thanks! It looks great on your mom's vagina!"
"Nice mustache, douche!"
"What must--oh..... I must have just grown it."
"What do you mean just grown it?"
"Well, my mustache is sort of a warning. It immediately appears in the presence of kids who are going to grow up to be ballsucking queers."
"Nice mustache, douche!"
"Thanks. Say, you know how certain frogs are brightly colored to warn predators not to bother them, you know because they're poisonous?"
"Well, see, mustaches are like that because they're supposed to let you know that I like to slap the shit out of smartass little kids."
Woulda, coulda shoulda... and the mustache, no longer mighty in the sum of its parts, swirled about the porcelain basin, drowning in rusty hole of shame.
Guess I'll get started on the next one.
1. Enriched uranium
2. Dilithium crystals
3. Stradivarius violin (apparently you can get one here.)
5. Liver transplant
6. Cop when you need one
7. Chance to do college over
8. Wisecracking pet griffin
9. Eternal youth for Bob Barker
10. Grimace-hide cowboy boots
12. Wings that work
13. Bill Waterson's return
14. Dino DNA!
15. For mopey, one-handed whiner to join you and rule the galaxy as father and son
16. A way out of this crappy deal memo
17. A "yes" answer to your prayer
18. For uppity rock critic to like your band
19. Indiana Jones IV
20. For 2008 to roll around so you can retire to your Crawford ranch and finally build that potato gun.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In ten years, when VH1 decides it's time to reinvent I Love the '80s for the aughts, I predict that M'onique, Loni Love or another similarly unfunny comedian will go on and on about how gauchos were terrible. And while I probably won't laugh (unless they pick Wanda Sikes), I will agree with them. Seriously. These pants aren't doing anyone any favors. I've often said that I have about as much business telling a woman how to look as a woman has telling me how to drive, but gauchos are a fashion statement that manages to embarrass both the wearer and the observer. When I see them clinging ferociously to every topographic feature of a woman's ass, I feel shame for both of us. It's the same feeling I get when I get caught staring at a fat man with a toupee or a wiener dog in a sweater.
You could put gauchos on Adriana Lima, and they would still make her look ridiculous. If you look at the link here, you'll see what I'm talking about. Put that lady in anything else, and she'd be fighting off prom dates with a machete. The pants successfully make her lower half look like it belongs to an action figure. And then there's the flares. If I wore these pants, I'd feel obligated to swing from a mast with a knife in my mouth and bury some treasure. Why would a woman want to dress like a pirate? I like pirates and all, but not because the clothes are anything anyone should still be wearing.
I suggest to you, women who insist on wearing gauchos, that you go home and cut a bunch of holes in them so that you won't be tempted to wear them or give them to the Goodwill. I'd hate for a hipster or a hippy to pick them up and embarrass herself even further. Then, once you've cut them up, put them in the trash and set the trash on fire. When the fire goes out, cover the ashes with vomit, pack them in an urn and bury it in a haunted cemetery. Finally, find out who convinced you to buy gauchos in the first place and sit her/him down for a very serious discussion.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
|Sorry, Pauly, but for once, I'm siding with the redneck. That's what you get for getting Drama kicked out the the Mansion. |
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Prior to getting off my ass and starting, I read four books about Sequential Art (comics). Two were about writing, one by Denny O'Neil, who wrote and edited various DC titles for millions of years, and the other by Peter David, known to me for his lengthy stint on The Incredible Hulk. I'm partial to this last one because Peter David was mostly a Marvel guy and I'm kind of loyal to that pantheon. Anyway, those were helpful to me in terms of learning how to pace and work in subplots--if you've ever read a How-To-Write-a-Screenplay book, they're pretty similar.
The other two books, however, were a little more esoteric. Written by Scott McCloud, they deal more with the theory behind Sequential Art. While Making Comics focuses more on the craft and is therefore similar to the O'Neil and David books, Understanding Comics is a heady dissertation about what makes comics tick. What's really great is that McCloud writes them in comic-book form.
What I've found out, though, is that now I've almost over-educated to the point of uselessness (you'd think I'd learned my lesson about this already, but whatever). Back in 9th grade, I just told a story. I drew pictures, filled in balloons and channeled my imagination onto 8 1/2 X 11 sheets. It was a lot easier before I knew about things like pacing, decompressed stories and how not to ruin a climax with a talkative ending.
Frankly, it is fucking hard. I imagine this is what learning to walk on two prosthetic legs might be like. Well, that's probably waaaaay harder, but you know what I mean.
In On Writing, Stephen King reiterates that telling the story is the most imperative and important matter when you sit down to write; editing and tightening are what second and third drafts are for. So I try to keep this in mind. And in all fairness to my grownup self, nerdy 14 year old had the advantage of things like Legos and free room and board and actively using his brain on a daily basis. I guess I have to do my best to approximate that context.
Yeah, I know. First post in a week, and it's pretty boring. Well, my friend put together a longboard for me last week, and that's kind of exciting. I've been diligently practicing frontside turns over super-steep 7-degree angles in my apartment parking lot. Yes, I know that's wimpy--I'm old and inflexible, okay? If you're lucky, maybe I'll have pictures. Hopefully not of a trip to the hospital.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I wish I lived in Hawaii.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The tread ripped off a tire near Itasca. We changed it, and made it to Austin in time for Kerry to buy a Les Paul at a vintage shop. We ate Cuban food. We played at Headhunters. It was a good show. We went back to motel, and the next day, Kerry took the Grampus to get new tires. He found out it needs about $1100 worth of repairs. Then we drove home. Someone parked their truck in the space where the trailer goes. I wrote him a snooty note. He moved his car. The End.
Actually, that's the long of it. Here's how it went. We got a flat and fixed it. Kerry bought a guitar. The show was good.
But here's what I'd rather write about: all the scattered thoughts/songs/pictures that cycled through my head today.
"Zyclone B. Bathhouse"
This is a crappy NOFX song off 46 or 47 Songs That Weren't Good Enough for Our Other Albums. Though I'd like to, I can't actually listen to it, because it's on my broken iPod, and my computer here at work has a broken headphone jack. Thus, one single half-line continues to bounce around my head indefinitely.
"The Space Jockey"
This is the weird fossilized alien thing in the spaceship where Kane found the xenomorph eggs in Alien. It's gross and thinking about it gives me the willies. And I can't not ponder it. Why is it fused to that weird turntable/telescope thing?
"Busey and the Beach"
I watched this episode of Entourage last night. It's the one where Turtle knocks over this ridiculous sculpture of Gary Busey's. Then later, there's this party in Malibu thrown by that eel Josh Weinstien, and Busy later pours a bucket of water on Turtle's head. He also tells Ari, "you're a gut maggot, without any guts." Ari goes, "you're going to spin right off this planet, Gary." This episode has a lot of good lines in it, and Busey is so fucking weird, which makes it one of my favorites. Also, Monica Keena looks swollen.
This has to do with work. It's boring.
"So tell me, Luke... What's a Friday night like in Fantasy Land for you? Do you meet up with the Care Bears and cruise around in that cloud car?"
This is a line from the comic I'm working on. I don't think it works very well, but I like it and can't seem to part with it. It's just really cumbersome. But not "Cumbersome," because then it would be completely terrible and a relic from 1994.
This is a new Darth Vato song I've been working on this song for over a month. It's about being how pathetic and depressing life is when one just sits at home alone smoking pot. I'm having trouble with the second verse. Since I don't sing, my melodies always always sound half-baked. It's actually a pretty moronic song, which is par for the course of Darth Vato.
"How much I hate phones"
I hate them. A lot. Especially when they are ringing or other people are using them. This corresponds with how....
"I hope I get to be self-employed someday"
I have a really hard time tuning things out and focusing, and I feel like it makes my performance at work suffer. But why should I be the "special needs" employee? Just because I get bothered by other people's meetings and phone calls doesn't mean I should be allowed to separate myself. But I really do bristle whenever someone is on the phone longer than necessary. You become painfully aware of everyone's verbal tics when you hear them several times a day for extensive periods of times. I recently read this book about an austisic teenager called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In that book, he talks about how he becomes overwhelmed by everyone's voices, and I can totally relate to this.
Apparently, there is an asteroid that has a 1 in 50,000 chance of hitting the Earth in like 2029. That's a pretty good chance--better than winning the lottery or even that stupid Chili's Guest Satisfaction Survey. NASA is trying to come up with a plan, and not surprisingly, one of the plans involves landing an astronaut on the asteroid and somehow causing it to change its trajectory like three degrees or something. This is all based upon what Kerry told me; I tried to watch it on CNN.com, but what the idiot reporter lady wanted to talk about was how she imagined Bruce Willis might be interested or something. I don't know, because I quit watching. It really pissed me off. Here, I wanted some information, and all this fucking bitch could do was be a fucking moron. If I wanted this kind of fluff, I'd hit myself in the head with a brick and get my news from E! Online. All of this has made me consider that:
"CNN is fucking useless to me."
I don't want to watch a video that has a 20 second ad tacked to the front of it. It's part of why I like to read things. Thanks for not helping me out, CNN. Maybe you can get together with Apple and make more iPods that quit working.
"Would I rather be a dolphin or a dog?"
This is a tough call. Domesticated dogs have it pretty sweet. Everything is exciting for a dog, and nothing seems to rival dogs in experiencing pure joy. However, dolphins are highly intelligent. And I love being underwater. And they team up and beat the shit out of sharks. Still a toss up.
"Is 'Luke or Han?' an appropriate question for a dude to ask a girl on a first date?"
Probably not. But it should be.
"But anyway, what if he askes and she says, 'Luke'?"
Then you should never call her again. Any girl who would pick Luke over Han is probably prone to melodrama. And if you're a dude who hopes that she'll say Luke because you're a nice guy and Luke's a nice guy, well, we know how nice guys finish.
"I hope our show at Fitz's is good on Thursday."
Indeed. Darth Vato is playing at Fitzgerald's again on Thanksgiving night in the first slot. Hopefully this turns out well. Hopefully I have shit enough before hand so as not to feel bloated and tired.
"How'd I get so far into debt?"
"How'd I get this fat?"
Again. Pointless to ask. Beer, pretty much.
"Why does working out suck?"
Because I'm out of shape. And it's hard.
"Why does my brother like Avenged Sevenfold?"
"What if I had gotten good grades in college?"
Then I'd probably have the stress of a more successful job.
"Will I ever get my tattoo finished?"
Only time will tell. Gayest self-answer ever. Which really means, "probably never."
"Does my failure to anticipate the plot twists of the current Astonishing X-Men story arc mean that I am not as perceptive as I think I am?"
This probably will leave most people scratching their heads. I include this because I often question my own perceived intelligence, especially when I miss the hints to major plot revelations in movies and books. For instance, in hindsight, the end of the Sixth Sense was totally obvious, yet I was among the many who was totally surprised. I did pick up on Amanda's impending doom in Saw III, but the clues weren't exactly subtle. As for the comic mentioned above, understanding it required a lot of research on preceding backstory. Basically, this malevolent psychic entity called Cassandra Nova has caused a bunch of illusions, in the process incapacitating the X-Men one by one. Her goal is to use one of them to transfer her essence from this blob into--you know what? Who fucking cares? I read this title because Joss Whedon's dialogue is the best, not because the plots make any sense..
"Maybe I should work on my comic book."
But when would I drink and sleep? I guess during work.
"Zyclone B. Bathhouse."
See? Still there.
"What's the difference between Monet and Manet?"
You'd think I'd have learned this in college, but the fact is, I really didn't learn much of anything in college.
"Flights are expensive."
"I hate the Dallas Cowboys."
"I hate that Dallas Cowboy fans quote Larry the Cable Guy."
"I hate 1310 The Ticket."
"I hate the Colts for losing to the Cowboys."
"I hate that I ever think about football, even for two seconds."
"Having a band that can't tour constantly is kind a of a bummer."
I've been thinking about this one for three years. Oh sure, we go out of town a couple times a month on average, but never for more than a weekend. If you want to make music your life, your biggest obstacle will be debt. It's amazing how cheaply one can live if one does not have to pay on student loans, credit cards or vehicle notes. When I worked at Chili's, I made around $10/hr, which basically worked out to $1600 a month. My current rent and utilities, in the most expensive and nicest apartment I've lived in, are under $700 per month. When I examine the choices I have made over the years, the only ones I regret are the ones that were the most expensive. Dumb dumb dumb. And what's funny is that I have never used my degrees for anything.
"This one Garfield strip."
I know. It's not cool to like Garfield, and I'm not really a fan anymore, but there is one strip where Garfield leaps at Jon's cheeseburger, and Jon says "Stop right there." And Garfield is left suspended in mid-air, his mouth crossed in an X of perplexion. Jon says, "Sometimes that's all a cat ever understands." This always killed me when I was a kid, and it still makes me smile. I like it because it shows how every cartoon, even a hack-job like Garfield, indulges in absurdities that don't translate nearly as well in other media. And there's also the implication that a cat understands anything. Or rather, obeys anything. I love cats, but c'mon, it's their world. We just live in it. They are the embodiment of aloofness.
No One Wants to Play Sega with Harrison Ford
Brandon Bird is one of my favorite artists, and this is one of my favorite paintings. Though it's easy to get burned out on pop culture tweaks, his are always surreal, wry, and spot-on.
Though this is probably also the name of a porno, it's also the name of a Hot Wheels car I had as a kid. It was maroonish, with an orange laser cannon on the roof.
"Transformers, as a concept, is kind of stupid. The level of belief suspension is not for the faint of heart."
But I guess that's why it's a cartoon, right? I hate what adulthood can do to one's imagination.
"Heroes is awesome."
Next to Entourage, this is my favorite show. Though I'm relieved as to how Monday's episode ended, I'm now frustrated for a bunch of new reasons.
I could go on. I love to backtrack through thought patterns, and looking back at this list is interesting when I consider the intangible threads between each item. As I sit here excited at the prospect of my work week ending on Today, I hope that someday, I'll make my living doing this sort of thing. Not because I'm lazy (okay, maybe a little bit), but because it's a lot easier for me to be passionate about thinking and writing than it is anything else. For those of you who are able to do this, (Heather Armstrong, I'm looking at you), I am totally jealous. God bless you, and may your ad revenue continue to roll in until the internet collapses or that asteroids collides with the Earth.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
*That guys is my friend, Walker. He writes songs and hangs around the bar I work at, and is an all-around nice guy.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
A couple of comments:
A 36 year old Kilgore, TX resident had an accident several weeks ago and totaled
her car. She was traveling between Gladewater and Kilgore. It was raining,
though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydro-plane and literally
flew through the air. She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the
When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened he told her something that every driver should know - NEVER DRIVE IN THE RAIN WITH YOUR CRUISE CONTROL ON.
She thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe, consistent speed in the rain, but the highway patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on and your car begins to hydro-plane (what happens when your tires lose contact with the pavement), it will accelerate to a higher rate of speed and you will take off like an airplane. She told the patrolman that was exactly what had occurred.
The patrolman said this warning should be listed, on the driver's seat
sun-visor - NEVER USE THE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN THE PAVEMENT IS WET OR ICY.
1. Where the hell is Gladewater? I know where Kilgore is, but I thought Gladewater was
that place in Florida where magazine subscriptions and vacation scams came from.
2. State cops who travel Texas freeways pulling people over and blocking off traffic are not
called Highway Patrolmen. They are called State Troopers, or, in East Texas, REDNECK
3. I don’t want to tempt fate, but I suspect this is a hoax. In order for something to take flight,
it must have some physical structure that creates lift. Unless her car had wings, I doubt she
4. Flying car = totally awesome.
Now, I acknowledge that unlike DFW and West Texas, East Texas does have some topographic features other than general flatness. So it's possible that she hydroplaned across the top of a hill, which I suppose is technically flying (in a Dukes of Hazzard sort of way). Disregarding this possibility, I think a car taking flight from level ground is impossible.*
*Or is it?
Monday, November 13, 2006
Escape from Fort Worth. Except that I just went to work. Which is in Fort Worth. My old title was way better. Just read it, okay?
I live about eleven miles away from my office. There are basically three different routes which I may use, and they all take about twenty minutes. The one with the least congestion is the most out of the way. The one that is a little shorter is rife with cops, stoplights and the occassional horse trailer convoy. The most direct one has the thickest traffic and biggest stretches of construction. It is this combination that shrouds my day in gloomy frustration.
I'm sure that every moderately large city is plagued with bad traffic, but in Fort Worth, unfinished road maintenance is such a salient feature that it might as well be mentioned in the city's tourist literature. It's probably not as bad as I make it out to be, but it is for me because the areas which I normally frequent end up squeezing cars into one lane. As if this weren't annoying enough, these areas have the country's (allegedly) most poorly-timed stoplights at every block. As far as I'm concerned, Fort Worth traffic is an ordeal on par with flying standby at Christmas.
Today, however, was especially bad. I don't know if it was because I went to work earlier (what a nice reward for trying to get a head start, right?), but the lines of non-moving cars made me want to yank my eyelashes out. So I went a different way. In the process, I became the idiot that you yell at for pulling out at the wrong time and almost t-boning you. Know why? Because I pulled out at the wrong time and almost t-boned this guy in an Acura. As he will probably be telling it for the rest of the week, I was that "idiot in this shitty white-trash van" who continued into a four-way intersection that only had two stop signs. And of course, because I wore flip flops today, I got hung up on the gas pedal and nearly missed stopping in time. And then, when I slammed on the brakes, a hail of change spilled out of the overhead sun visor and onto my head. It's what I imagine hanging a leprechaun upside and shaking it would be like. Or, every day for Super Mario.
Between the excitement of my near miss and roadblocks the traffic and orange cones, I half-expected Lee Van Cleef waiting for me at the office. "We'd make a great team, Steve," he'd say.
I'd light a cigar, give him an icy stare and hiss,
"Call me Plissken."
I have no idea what leading a meeting entails. It might as well have read, "Steve will be planning the next space shuttle mission" or "Steve will be demonstrating how to turn pickles into chickens."
On the plus side, this looks like a job for....
STEVE'S MEETING PANTS!!!
Friday, November 10, 2006
Not surprisingly, the two guys filed an anonymous lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, alleging that they were basically tricked, and that they have suffered a bunch of the usual nebulous damages (emotional, physical, loss of income, humiliation) because of their appearance in the film.
I'm sorry (wait, no I'm not), but I really can't feel too badly for these two fucks. Too bad you guys were too stupid to keep your racist bullshit under wraps in the presence of a camera. And really? Loss of reputation? What reputation were two redneck frat guys from South Carolina cultivating before? Presumably, if their attorneys can prove that they were essentially tricked into signing waivers after getting hammered (I think there is a precedent set by some regretful Girls Gone Wild stars), they have a leg to stand on, but hopefully, it will not keep them getting their asses whipped by someone big, black and justifiably angry.
I'm just saying is all.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Celebrity redneck and baby-factory Britney Spears filed for divorce from white-trash husband Kevin Federline, citing the ever-popular irreconciable differences.
In the case of this marital dissolution, I think irreconcilable differences means "I'd like my abs and career back, please."
Kevin Federline, of course, will likely wait dejectedly for the shortbus to pick him up and take him back to the resource room.
Entertainment Weekly, after giving him the silly backpage last week, gave his album an F in this week's issue. If you read this, Kevin, the F is not for your last name.
Monday, November 06, 2006
An Evening with The Me-Thinks
If you drive east on Belknap, you’ll end up in Haltom City. You’ll know because the background scenery turns into a loop of pawnshops, used-car lots and shade-tree mechanics. It’s a little like being in a cartoon, if said cartoon were directed by T.S. Elliot. Sometimes the scenery is broken up by a Vietnamese or Mexican restaurant, but mostly it looks about as industrial as a suburb can be. It’s not bad; it’s just, you know, Haltom City.
This is where The Me-Thinks are from. When you hear them, it makes perfect sense.
Ever year, The Me-Thinks win the Weekly’s Best Hard Rock award. If you had to describe them in two words, I suppose Hard Rock would work, but it does no justice to the poetic inebriation that makes them my favorite band in town. Instead of Hard Rock, try these:
The Me-Thinks are the sound of smog, collected and sculpted into grinning, slaphappy gargoyles.
They are the sonic manifestation of the bong rip you took right before puking.
They are an ’82 Monte Carlo, painted by Earl Scheib and driven by Rat Fink.
They are talented burnouts.
They are perpetual adolescents who have extended their glory days instead of merely longing for them.
They’re funny, they’re loud, and they bask in self-deprecating wit, while remaining untainted by precious, cutesy hipster-irony.
And also, they bring their own fog machine.
The band used to be a three piece, but now it’s a quartet. Ray sings and plays bass. He’s also Fort Worth’s answer to Coop, as his subversive takes on pop art have advertised pretty much every rad show in town for the past three years. Marlin is lead shredder; he also operates the fog machine. When he plays, he looks like a statue of Bacchus, if Bacchus hung out with the Norse pantheon. Will used to play drums, but now he trades leads with Marlin. His other forte is biting wit. In any other band, dual guitarists would merit coordinated rock poses, but that sounds like a lot of effort for these guys. The latest addition is Trucker John, who has filled Will’s vacant drum throne. He’s in a billion other bands, most of which are some permutation of hardcore. They are buds since junior high, and they make their own fun. Whether it involves booze, pharmaceuticals or vintage amps, they still manage a good time.
For the past 800 years or so (by my estimate, anyway), they’ve been chronicling their good time on an upcoming album. It’s called Make Mine a Double, so named, because it’s actually a double-E.P. If making a double E.P. rather than a single album strikes you as a cleverly moronic thing to do, you’re absolutely right. It’s reason #108 why they are the coolest band in town. But now the record is finally in the can, and it’s awesome. I’m biased, but I defy anyone to find a better blend of stoner-garage-punk around. It’s like Motorhead playing Circle Jerks songs, or the Stooges fronted by Fat Mike. Songs like “Burnout Timeline” and “Permanent Krokus” perfectly encapsulate life in the HC in its entire gritty splendor. If there is a need for a soundtrack to a house party gone off-the-tracks (and I posit that there is), that soundtrack is Make Mine a Double.
People tell me that my band, Darth Vato, plays party music, and I always respond with, “you should listen to the Me-Thinks instead.” Our partying is bush-league compared to theirs. I don’t mean to sell Darth Vato short, but I’m okay with being second-string. We’re in illustrious company, after all. To be fair, I think some of the best nights I’ve had have been playing with the Me-Thinks at the Wreck Room. When the “Best Of” issue of the Weekly comes out every year, I am genuinely puzzled that “Darth Vato and the Me-Thinks, Any Time They’ve Played at the Wreck Room” is not a nominee. I realize that we were nominated this year for our shows at the Moon, but I think our shows with the Me-Thinks are way better. This is not to say that the Moon shows suck; I just prefer watching the Me-Thinks churn out Turbonegro covers while drinking enough to forget my own songs. But whatever. Opinions, assholes, etcetera.
So I love the Me-Thinks. Even though they claim to be “Fort Worth’s shittiest band,” everyone knows different. Sure they get ripped, but they also shred, and they usually do both at the same time. They have a funny rule, though. They don’t headline. I know because I asked. Darth Vato is playing with them on December 15th. Since I think they’re pretty much kings, I suggested they take the midnight slot. Ray said, “Nah, because we’re only functional drunks past eleven. By twelve, we’re totally useless.”
Last week, I found out that this is really only a half-truth. I took them out for drinks in honor of their double-E.P. release on Saturday. Predictably, their capacity for functional booze absorption is a lot greater than they let on. What follows is foggy record of my attempt to hang with them and their crew.
* * * * *
I guess I got the memo wrong, because I show up at Fred’s at 7:30. We’re starting early, but not that early. I kill my time with a Maker’s-and-Seven at 7th Haven. So really it’s more like two Maker’s, but whatever. I reason that with these guys, plus or minus a drink isn’t going to change the evening’s outcome too dramatically.
Eight o’clock rolls around, and I roll back to Fred’s. Ray, Will and Trucker John have arrived simultaneously, and a couple schooners go the way of the dodo as we await burgers. Will and Trucker John will later be mocked for sharing an order of fries between them.
We’re on our third beers when the burgers arrive. Between bites, I get a bit of Haltom City Punk Rock History from Ray and Will. I ask them about Hasslehorse, an old band of Ray and Marlin’s in which Marlin actually played keys. Hasslehorse’s history is given cursory treatment, because it quickly gives way to a more enthusiastic discussion of life in the early to mid-‘90s. This thread leads me to believe that those years were little more than a series of keggers rumbling between the HC and Riverside Drive. The stories are populated by heshers and whippets and a trio of pilled-out scenesters, three chicks who would barrel into every party like Andy Capp tussling with his wife. Nowadays, the radius of the party zone is a little narrower. For the Me-Thinks, the epicenter is now their rehearsal space, a non-climate controlled tin shack, where they claim nothing ever gets done, except for a lot of drinking and the occasional screening of a Vivid Video.
It’s now 9:00, and we’ve put away three or four rounds. I should probably keep better track of this, but whatever. We make plans to hit 7th Haven before calling it a night. I know this will likely never happen given the pace we’re at, but it’s good to have goals, I guess, the road to hell being paved as it is. The next stop, anyway, is the Shamrock. Prior to this, we sit in my van listening fIREHOSE. Weed may have been involved. I don’t really know; at this point things are already hazy. Marlin never made it, and his absence prompts Will to deride his bandmate’s affinity for cock-rock such as Poison and Cinderella. Ray defends him, as much as is possible, on the grounds that Marlin just really likes hot licks. This, I think, is a dubious argument, but I say nothing, since it’s now 9:15 and there are still drinks to be had. We amble to the Shamrock.
The Asian Media Crew is waiting for us in the parking lot. They are as much a component of the band as Marlin or Trucker John.
The Asian Media Crew is a two-man operation whose ostensible function is to accompany the band everywhere and record any ensuing hilarity. There is a video camera, and I’ve seen them use it before, but tonight it will be employed intermittently. The Asians are Rat and Calvin, and they wear matching jumpsuits. Mostly they just drink and crack jokes. This past summer, I asked Ray if he was coming to the FW Weekly music awards. “Maybe,” he said. “Depending on hangovers, we might just send The Asians.” Sure enough, Rat and Calvin were the only ones present to accept the Me-Thinks Best Hard Rock Band award. I asked Rat where the band was, and he said, “I dunno. Probably at home being lame or something.” I can think of no other local band that makes public appearances by proxy, and this is yet another reason why the Me-Thinks are my favorite crew in town.
Anyway, we bounce into the Shamrock, where Marlin has been patiently waiting for the past hour. Apparently he didn’t get the memo either. Marlin is soft-spoken and considerate, and like the rest of them, enjoys a lot of beer. It’s 9:30ish. Round one (or round five or six, if you’re counting), is a flight of Sierra Nevada that everyone quickly polishes off. By 9:45, we have emptied round two, and One-Fingered Will (front man for hardcore outfit One Fingered Fist) brings over a bunch of Patron shots. When my stomach gets wind of this development, it knots up in anger. Its relationship with tequila is at best stormy; most of the time it is one of pure hatred. But down the hatch anyway, stomach be damned. I notice that Ray, Will and Marlin toss these down without blinking. Same with the Asians. I hope no one catches my grimace.
I didn’t walk into the bar clearheaded, but now my view of the Shamrock looks like a Monet painting. The joint is kind of empty; in my current state, it looks positively cavernous. Like Bat Cave cavernous. For all I know, Batman and Alfred are picking the songs on the jukebox. Evidently, they like Black Sabbath.
I don’t know what time it is by this point. My phone is on the floor, probably because I am unable to make a convincing fist. Still drinking, Ray and Will are discussing the Pogues. There is one rule about this particular topic: you can never talk about the Pogues’ music, but only about Shane McGowan’s gnarly teeth. Like an idiot, I break this rule by saying something about how Flogging Molly sounds like the Pogues. Will graciously steers things back where they belong, in the realm of Irish punk band orthodontics. Someone buys some Jager shots. After these go down, Marlin says they can call me a cab later if I want. I don’t know when later is, because it feels like 3 AM. Though I’ve drank with these guys at a number of shows, I forget that I am a rank amateur. It’s like being proud of getting your orange belt and then sparring with Chuck Norris.
My phone says it’s 10:42. I think it’s a fucking liar.
At this point, Rat is animatedly talking about grilling fish. He’s so excited that I think he has won the lottery. It turns out that he just really likes fish. He schools me on where to eat pho in the HC. I go to Tu Hai, which he says is good, but I’m supposed to go someplace else, which is better. I’m not sure, but I think Calvin is taping this exchange. He’s cracking up, regardless. But the whole table confirms, that yes, whatever this other place is called, it’s where you go for pho.
It’s 11:05. I’m trying to ease the booze-throttle back a bit, not that it matters a whole lot now. Will says he has to check out around midnight, but that doesn’t seem to slow him down. Same for Ray. While some more beers arrive, he tells me a story about being sixteen and sneaking backstage at a G.B.H. show in Dallas. I think this is about the coolest thing in the world, until he tells me about being a kid and showing up to skate a pool only to be overrun by the Zorlac Skateboard guys. Marlin gives me a burned copy of a Peaches album. I unsuccessfully try to stuff this in my shirt pocket. The three of them duck in and out of encyclopedic music debates, gently giving me crap for being a relative lightweight and giving each other crap over Rolling Stones songs. I wonder if it is midnight yet. It’s only 11:15.
The next time I check my phone, it’s almost midnight. I think the Asians have just left. Something about work the next day. Marlin has taken tomorrow off so his booze-cruise is still merrily afloat. Will and Ray are comfortable with loping into work beneath clouds of staggering hangovers, though Will leaves shortly after this proclamation. Something about driving home before he gets too gone. Eventually, Ray and I remain. When he leaves, I follow. I will nap in my van. My fortune is such that I have to make 9:00 flight the next day. I’m pretty sure I won’t notice any of it. I figure I won’t remember too much of the night anyway. Hopefully someone will, and I think this is pretty much par for the Me-Thinks course. It makes me wish I had my own Asian Media Crew. Too bad I didn’t grow up in Haltom City.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Anyway, in case anyone who lives outside of California is interested in who Ben Stein supports for Governor, it's Schwarzeneggar. I just answered my parents phone, and he told me so. I'm a big fan of Ben Stein, not only because his game show was one of my all time favorites, but also because he is Jewish AND politically conservative. That juxtaposition fascinates me in the same way that a black dude fronting a hardcore band does, or a cat nursing a litter of abandoned puppies.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Regardless of what George Bush does or doesn't know about foreign capitals, it's obvious that his public articulation is laughably confused at best. Yesterday, he he told this lady on CNBC that he "occasionally" uses "the Google." Reread Lauren's first comment, and then say "the Google" in a generic foreign accent out loud; it will further prove her point. I used to know a kid from the Czech Republic whose favorite Nintendo game ever was "the Excited Bike." He probably uses "the Google," too.
But really, I'm just belaboring a point. Making fun of George Bush's elocution is an easy and tired target. Everyone has a slip of the tongue now and then, and some more often than others. Usually, though, those in the latter category don't fumble and backpedal their way into the Oval Office. In my previous post, I cited plenty of instances in which our disarmingly befuddled president has had dubious reign over the words plopping out of his mouth, but today I have video. I know it's not like Bush is the first President to sound confused, but at least Ronald Reagan* had an excuse, given that he was developing Alzheimer's. For Bush, what might have once been folksy charm has long since degenerated into country bumpkinism. In light of "the Google," I maintain that it's probably safe to assume that upon first hearing the word "Tbilisi," George Bush probably thought it was something he would be eating for dinner that night.
And I see your most recent comment, Oh really?, but I maintain that he's still an idiot. If you read any of the articles I linked to, you'd find that he doesn't appear to think through what he says before making it public record. For a guy who has a teleprompter in front of him half the time, he makes a lot of mistakes, and that's pretty telling. And furthermore, I voted for him the first time around. I haven't been this disappointed in something I believed in since I found out Santa Claus was really my parents. I could forgive his public ineptitude if it wasn't constantly utilized to spin half-truths and outright lies.
*Plus, Ronald Reagan was a fantastically compelling speaker. Even Jim Wright, who hated the man, will acknowledge this if asked. And so you know, I did.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Said President Bush, "The characterization of, you know, 'it's stay the course' is about a quarter right. 'Stay the course' means keep doing what your doing. My attitude is: Don't do what you're doing if it's not working -- change. 'Stay the course' also means don't leave before the job is done."
I had no idea that "stay the course" was such a mutable phrase. Bush makes its meaning as maleable as the word "smurf."
"Laura, hon, would you stay the course with the ketchup?"
"Oh man, after all them Dr. Peppers, I have to stay the course big time!"
"If we stay the course about these Al Queda ties, they'll have to go along with the invasion."
Sure, it's probably just semantics, but underneath it all, I think the President's usage of the phrase belies one ultimate truth:
"This is way harder than Dick and Karl made it out to be. I have no idea what I'm doing."
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Go to Greasenotgas.com and read about it.
Monday, October 23, 2006
"I got no time to player hate--
I'm the type to crash your party with Teddy Ruxpin and a Slayer tape."
Probably the coolest line I'll hear all month.
This band is tight, like Bob Cratchet's Christmas budget. For those of us in DFW, they're coming to Will Rogers Auditorium on 11/21, opening for the crappy All-American Rejects. Between this show and The Sword on the 5th, November is looking to be pretty rad.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Pepper, No Shame
There’s this scene in Blue Crush where surfer girl Anne-Marie Chadwick goes to rescue her lil’ sis Penny from a party at the Volcom house on Oahu’s North Shore. And in the movie, Penny is understandably pissed, because her big sister is ripping her out of what appears to be a pretty cool party, abundant with kegs, hot chicks and gnarly locals ripping on a half-pipe. The whole movie paints Hawaiian surf culture as a constant pursuit of leisure, a breezy drink-till-it’s-time-to-check-the lineup sort of lifestyle. Kona Town, the second record by Kona, Hawaii’s Pepper, encapsulated that vibe with its blend of reggaefied rock and boozy aloha spirit--the record is equal parts double-vision party and hangover hindsight. In short, it felt real.
Unfortunately, Pepper seems to have lost their way home. They moved to San Diego in ‘99. They’ve been on the road for five or six years. They made a fan-alienating record with Ron St. Germaine. On No Shame, their fourth outing and first on a major label, there are glimmers of Kona Town, as well as some interesting forays into new horizons (check the single-minded bounce of “No Control”), but a lot of the time, the songs sound alternately forced and distracted. It’s not a bad record, but the band’s talents seem a little misappropriated.
Pepper normally gets knocked around for ripping off Sublime, but this isn’t entirely fair. While dual frontmen Kaleo Wasserman (guitar) and Brett Bolinger (bass) both sing in the same breathy tenor as Bradley Nowell, Bollinger’s voice has the lecherous richness that Nowell sometimes lacked. Besides—it’s far more obvious that they’ve been stealing from the Police.
Predictably, the tracks on No Shame that sound like a Police song are the best ones. Once you skip the annoying intro skit (and there are two more of these, which is never a good sign), the album kicks off with “Bring Me Along,” a sunny reggae shuffle that grabs its licks from “Every Breath You Take” and its heritage from island acts such as Po’ Hana. The guitars echo for miles, the bass flows like mercury and after the next song is finished, you’re fooled into thinking that Pepper wised up and made another Hawaiian record. “Lost in America,” a hooky ode to life on the road perpetuates the ruse, but when the hang-loose varnish starts to crack, a disingenuous grab for radio airplay becomes apparent. It’s disingenuous, because the track is bookended by another stupid skit, the only purpose of which is to distract the listener from the jarring shift of “Your Face,” a gaudy slab of overproduced pop. After you’ve settled into the stripped-down space of a couple clean guitars, bass and drums, getting slammed with a bunch of tacky overdubs and keyboards is pretty annoying.
From there, the album repeatedly shoots for the mainstream, but for the most part, it doesn’t even hit the backboard. “Like Your Style” is a corny attempt at a club hit. “Point and Shoot” is marred by unnecessary raunch. Plus, the last third is broken up with another unfunny skit. Apart from the plaintive low-key rocker of “Zicky’s Song,” the rest of the record tries too hard. It’s shameful that No Shame makes you sit through a bunch of phony grins to find the groove of a real feeling.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Last night, Darth Vato played at UT Dallas at the Pub, which is located within the student union building. Though it did resemble a pub, it served no alcohol. I could blather on with a lengthy discussion of form, function and purpose, but this is already a pretty boring post. Rather, I'd like to present my first impression of the students at UT Dallas. I always assumed that it was a commuter school, but there was a decent crowd, and the show itself was fun. We played like crap, though. I think this had something to do with sobriety, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, in pulling up to the load-in spot, we had passed three students talking on phones and to their friends. A fourth student walked past our van, talking on her phone. Kerry looked at me and said,
"I haven't heard any English yet."
Thursday, October 12, 2006
From the article comes the following quote, which may be one of the funniest paragraphs I have ever read:
"One photograph shows two giant erect penises flailing above the water as twoI think it's safe to assume that the mental image of swordfighting gay whales* was the furthest thing from your mind when you got out of bed today.
male right whales rub together. Another shows a male giraffe mounting another
for sex, another describes homosexuality among beetles."
In any case, the next time you see a chimpanzee on rollerblades, you'll know that he's not just doing a bit.
*or gayles, if you prefer.
Monday, October 09, 2006
I'm not talking about Hollywood dickheads who spend twenty bucks to have a pack of cigarettes delivered to them. These people are as far-removed from my reality as the characters they play, and therefore, they hardly exist in three-dimensional space. I will never meet or know them because for all practical purposes, they don't exist outside a writer's imagination. In other words, there is no real Eva Longoria. When I see her on TV, graciously smiling and waving from within the safety of velvet ropes and red carpets, she is no more real to me than Homer Simpson.
Ac-TORS, however, have been flitting in and out of my life since high school. These people don't make it to Hollywood, though some of them move there. They do theater. And I fucking hate theater. It drives me nuts, what with all the over-acting, and the panting, and the rouge, and the delusions, and the drama that bleeds over from the production into real life.
In high school, I had a good friend who said frequently and with grave determination, "I'm going to be an actor." As if by making such definitive statements, one could make it so. "I'm going to acquire the hope diamond." POOF! Cursed blue diamond, right in my pocket. "I'm going to drive a German half-track." POOF! German half-track, right in my pocket. Same thing in college. I was friends with a few theater people, and a couple of them frequently said the same thing, usually with a nonchalance that suggested they were a little surprised that it hadn't happened already. And then one time, my friend Bryan, who WILLFULLY lived with three other theater dudes threw a party, and the TCU theater department showed up, and when I and my roommate arrived, I overheard one girl say to her friend, "who are those guys?" and her friend replied, "I don't know, but they're definitely not THEATER PEOPLE."
Geez, girls, how did you know? Was it because my pockets weren't rattling with bottles of anti-depressants?
So I find theater people universally annoying. Perhaps you are wondering, however, why I would bring this up. Well, this weekend, Darth Vato played in Galveston, which is a city south of Houston on the gulf. We normally have good shows there, but this one was sort of screwed up in that the opening band cancelled, we had to play for an extra hour (which means playing more covers, which I hate), and we had to compete with terrible metal bands in the adjacent room. But it wasn't a big deal for us, because we have electric instruments that can drown out other electric instruments. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the one-act play that went on before us.
You might think that I am using one-act play as a metaphor or a euphamism for a crappy band, but I'm not. Prior to us, two people, in costume, paced around each other spouting unfunny, circuitous dialogue in some play about a woman who thought she was a superhero. It was dumb and it was irritating, but ultimately, I just felt bad for them.
See, they got started around 9:00, shortly before the first metal band started sound checking in the other room, and it was as awkward as getting a boner in church. The situation sort of went like this:
DELUSIONAL ACTOR 1: So you're saying you're NOT Mrs. Barbara Stanwick of 1572 Lakeshore Drive....
DELUSIONAL ACTOR 2: No, I am Superwoman, and I am here to defeat the League of EEE-ville.
TERRIBLE HIGH SCHOOL METALCORE BAND IN ADJACENT ROOM: JUGGAJUNNNNN!!!!!!
DA 1: But our files say that you ARE Mrs. Barbara Stanwick of 1572 Lakeshore Drive, married to Mike, mother of Jack, 7, and Mary, 5, and they say nothing about any "league of evil."
DA 2: Then your files, Doctor, are CLEARLY erroneous, and have probably been fabricated by the League of EEE-ville themselves!
THSMBIAR: JUGGEDAJUGGEDAJUGGAJUNNNNN!!!!! How you guys tonight? We're called A Dying Death of Dying...
And so on. It was uncomfortable, and it pretty much made the night a total gong show. The cellphones rang. The bar's phone rang. Detuned power chords rang. I finally bailed and went to the other room to watch teenagers with hair in their faces growl and chug away on crappy amps. But this was just as uncomfortable as the shitty play, as their crowd was as many moms as it was friends. The friends were politely standing, but the moms were doing the over-the-head-Michael-McDonald-concert-type claps. To tuneless, rhythmless hardcore.
The nice thing was that we still had some people come watch us, and we made more money than we were supposed to. Eric made us get up at eight the next morning and leave shortly thereafter so he could be back in time for the Cowboys/Eagles kickoff. This made me grouchy, but he really, really likes the Cowboys, so it wasn't like I had much of a choice. He says that the Cowboy's performance affects how the rest of the his week goes, and this makes very little sense to me, but whatever.
At least we weren't leaving early so he could make it to a one-act play.
I saw The Departed. Holy fucking shit. Just go see it, all right?
Friday, October 06, 2006
Anyway, we get paid to play in Denton at this bar, and usually it's fun. Last night the crowd dwindled to tumbleweeds, and frankly, I would have rather stayed at home playing video games. I don't know why that show sucked. Kerry had to be in a meeting early this morning, so I got stuck settling money, and after receiving the check, I headed out. This was around 2;15.
Before I continue to the part where I'm exhausted because I'm an idiot, I need to explain how easily I get lost. You may have noticed that my blog alias implies an interest in pirates, and this might lead you to believe that I have a similar enthusiasm for maps. I do, in fact, love maps. But I get turned around really easily. One time, it took me four hours to get from San Francisco to Lodi, a trip that normally only takes about 90 minutes. Bottom line, I'm terrible with directions, and as such, I departed Denton on the wrong fork of I-35.
Now I-35E intersects I-30, which would have taken me home, but it intersects it at Dallas, which is around 30 miles from Fort Worth. Realizing that the ETA to my bed would now be 30 minutes later, I sought a way to cross over to I-35W. For no reason at all, I chose to drive through Lewisville, a suburb which I have never visited. In fact, there are only two things I know about Lewisville: a person who works at my company lives there and so do firemen who date TCU girls. And really, this latter fact is merely an assumption based upon a girl I knew 8 years ago. So really, I know nothing about Lewisville, least of all its relationship to I-35W, which, it turns out, is completely estranged.
Eventually, I ended up on the North of end of state highway 121. During the day, 121 is the parking lot that threads through a post-apocalyptic wasteland of chain restaurants and mega-car lots, but at 3 am, it's not too bad.
Around 4, I rolled into my apartment. You'd think that this ordeal would have compelled me to go to bed and forget the whole thing, but you'd be wrong. Recall first that I am an idiot. If the gallumphing narrative above does not adequately prove my assertion, then consider the following piece of information: when my ass dragged into my apartment this morning, I did not go directly to bed. Instead, I plopped into my couch,and played Xbox for another hour and fifteen minutes. So, rather than ardently chasing every minute of sleep between my arrival and my alarm's strident beeping, I chose instead to stay up even later making potions.
Now do you believe me?
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Foley later told reporters that his forced exit from politics was "a blessing in disguise," and that he planned to write a "reflective memoir," of his time spent on Capitol Hill, retiring to an as-yet undetermined location. "But probably Thailand or Viet Nam--wherever that Gary Glitter guy went," he said.
Monday, October 02, 2006
For Darth Vato, it's more like six.
On Friday, we left the Fort at six o'clock to play a midnight slot at a place called Headhunters. We stopped for Whataburgers in Waco, probably for twenty-five minutes. We should have been able to cruise into our motel, pounds some beers, and roll into the club for a longer-than-normal show.
Of course, the Texas Department of Transportation had other plans. It seems that between a place called Temple (which, based upon prior experience is not in Texas but the Twilight Zone) and Killeen, TXDOT decided to resurface I-35 and completely close it. As if that weren't enough, it also closed the frontage road at around the same point, shunting FOUR LANES of traffic into a four-way intersection. If anyone knows a chimp who is looking for work, I hear this office is hiring.
Thus, as a result of someone's terrible idea, traffic backed up for about twenty miles. Traversing this expanse took THREE FUCKING HOURS. You know that part in Independence Day when everyone's trying to leave D.C. because UFOs have blown the White House all to shit? Well that's sort of what this was like. Quoth Kerry, "There'd better be something up ahead that's pretty amazing. Like a bunch of dinosaurs. Having a picnic. Or breakdancing."
As the three of us typically manifest the maturity of an 8th grade health class, you can imagine that the boredom and frustration of such a hassle yielded predictably immature results.
We took pictures of me, sitting on the front of the Grampus, pretending to be a hood ornament.*
We took pictures of Eric and Kerry hanging, Singing in the Rain style, from the door-latch of the semi's trailer in front of us.
We took pictures of Ernie and Vanilla Jesus on said trailer.
We fashioned a urinal out of a plastic gallon jug, a cut-up Dasani bottle, gum and clear packing tape. Eric and I both used it, and Eric got pee on his leg. I blame it on the tape. The reason why packing tape is so named is because it is not good for anything else.
Darth Vato gleaned a few lessons from all of this. The first was that we, as a band, can never adequately prepare for anything. You'd think that allotting double the amount of time to arrive at a gig would be sufficient, but this is obviously not the case.
The second lesson learned was that you shouldn't fuck with semis. Especially when open containers are involved.
The final lesson is a matter of engineering. Regardless of what you've seen on television, chewing gum is not a viable sealant. I would expect that it isn't good for piecing together bombs, dikes, or crumbling marriages either, which are all lies perpetuated by the glass tit.
Miraculously, we made it to Austin by 12:45. Apparently, the soundguy or whatever role "Kenny" fulfilled pushed the bands back a bit, so we still got to play a set to a small, but enthusiastic crowd. From the jaws of defeat, ad nauseum.
After the show, we headed to Motel 6, where I'm pretty sure we witnessed the pre-production stages of a gang-bang movie, as we saw four shady dudes affectionately escorting a single female into an upstairs "suite." Kerry checked us in. "We're in room 213," he said. The tone in his voice suggested that Room 213 housed some ominous connotation; I truly don't pay attention to too many details in life, because apparently, 213 was the number of the apartment inhabited by Jeffrey Dahmer.
This really didn't bother me until Kerry turned on the TV, which was tuned to some channel running a documentary about modern cannibals. And of course, he had turned it on during the Jeffrey Dahmer segment.
I didn't really listen to the show, though if you judged that statement by the doodles I made on our beer cooler, you'd think I'd watched with rapt attention. The truth is, I always doodle creepy shit like that. It's what happens when you spend middle school learning to draw from comic books and then later discovering White Zombie album liners.
Anyway, that was Austin. It turned out pretty good, despite all of I-35's attempts to spoil our evening.
Houston was an easier trip. We took 290 to Kerry's dad's house, as he lives five minutes away from Fitzgerald's. It was a pretty drive, though we did run into some more construction. In Killing Yourself to Live, Chuck Klosterman makes this comment about how there will always be road construction and how this fact depresses him. I pretty much feel the same way.
The show at Fitzgerald's could have been a hassle, but it wasn't. Los Skarnales (the headliner upstairs) cancelled, which meant that five bands were crammed onto our downstairs bill. We had to go on 15 minutes earlier, but a bunch of our friends showed up in time, and we had a decent crowd. Better yet, the club asked us back, which makes the whole trip worthwhile. Later, Eric and I some friends went to Onion Creek, which is a bar that serves beer and Frito Pie. I ate half of Eric's, and then ordered my own. Needless to say, the pyrotechnics in my pants exceeded those of Cinco de Mayo and The Fourth of July combined. Later, I had to share a bed with Kerry (which is sort of like bunking with the San Andreas fault, since he causes the bed to quake by continuously jiggling his legs). He claims to have been awakened by the smell of one of my farts, but I think he's a just big fucking baby.
This coming weekend is Galveston. It's already starting out as a gong show, because the opening band cancelled and the Drew, the promoter asked me to find another one. I suggested The Burning Hotels, some friends from Fort Worth with whom I like to drink and talk shit.
"What do they sound like?" he said.
"Oh you know, kinda like the Strokes, you know like indie rock kind of," I said.
"Yeah...." he said. "I'm not really feeling that indie rock, bro."
In other words, the next time the proverbial emperor announces he has new clothes, I'm going to ask Drew if can see them or not. I probably don't need to tell you what his answer will be.
*Except that hood ornaments aren't sweaty, usually.
Friday, September 29, 2006
In any case, I think Against the Grain is their best record, and it's the one I've been listening to the most. Bad Religion are usually credited with extending L.A. punk rock long past its expiration date, and Against the Grain is a prime example of why. I bought it my junior year in high school ('94-'95), and I credit it for steering me away from bands like Bush. It's arguably the pinnacle of their career (bummer, since it came out sixteen years ago), not only because it features most of the original lineup (admittedly this is a dumb reason to like a record), but because the songs are universally good. Graffin's harmonies sound like a punk rock barber shop quartet. Mr. Bret's solos stick in your head like metastisized brain tumors.* The songs attack with the speed and precision of a team of ninja. It's intelligent, introspective and anthemic, without resorting to the chumpy bro-hymns of Pennywise.**
Following this album, the band signed with Atlantic. I listened to the first two of these albums while in college, and I didn't care for them at all. I missed out on the next two completely, and even when they went back to Epitaph, I've only had a casual interest in their most recent offerings. Though it's remarkable that they continue to churn out albums, I think there's little point in checking them out beyond this one. Okay--Generator is worth a listen, too, but for my money, I remain Against the Grain.
*and I challenge everyone to find a more unpleasant simile.
**Imagine a bunch of Orange County frat guys yelling OHHHHHHH/OHHHH OHHHH OHHHHHHHHHH/OHHHHHHH OHHHH OHH OHH OHHHHHHHHHH along with this guy. That's a chumpy bro-hymn.+
+For the record, I love Pennywise.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
You guys are in so much trouble next summer.
2. Right under her nose.
5. The Oval Office.
6. Wherever you want.
8. The video arcade around closing time
9. Your favorite bar.
10. The scene of the crime.
This was Nerdingle P. Nerdlinger's idea.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Blood Mountain by Mastodon
Fucking intense. A concept album about ascending some perilous mountain. A bunch of scary songs about monsters. And even crazier drumming than on Leviathan. Remember the shiver you got the first time you heard "The Thing That Should Not Be" off of Master of Puppets? Here, those goosebumps are named "Circle of the Cysquatch" and "Bladecatcher." I'd like to buy the new Mars Volta album and see how the two stack up, as the musicianship is probably equal between both bands, but I have a feeling that the ideas here are a lot more interesting. I hear Amputechture is just a bunch of noodling. With the exception of Black Flag, there is no other band more aptly named than Mastodon. Even if you don't like anything heavy, you should give this a listen. And if you get it on iTunes, you get a video with it.
No Shame by Pepper
Fucking blows. It's hard to be worse than the last one, but you guys did it. Maybe you should stop working with 311. Or if you didn't then maybe just start copying them, as even that would be an improvement on these tunes. The first track fools you into thinking that you're getting some saccharine Hawaiian reggae tunes, but then the record turns into radio-sychophantic Chili Peppers posturing minus the chops. I read an interview with Kaleo, the guitarist, and he said that on this one, they were heading back to the Police-by-way-of-Po Hana fusion found on Kona Town, but that turned into a bit of a fib. Pepper used to know what a hook is; for all the Clear Channel courting going on here, you'd think they'd have at least recycled one or two. The best song here is "Lost in America" which traipses through the speakers in the same flip flops LBDA blew out in "DJs" and "Life Goes On." It's not great, but relative to the rest, it might as well have been off of Pet Sounds. Did I mention there are annoying skits? Well, there are. I hate skits, and on No Shame, there are three of them.
I like Pepper. I really do. They are great live. I love Kona Town, and I can even find nice things to say about In With the Old. This new one, thoug--it's a bit of a steaming pile.
Monday, September 25, 2006
I never imagined hassles such as expensive amp tubes, weirdo soundguys, amnesiac promoters or press kits. Now most of those things don’t bother me that much, but I will never, ever enjoy compiling press kits. They are easily the most odious band chore, and this includes carrying speaker cabs up multiple flights of stairs.
I hate them for several reasons, and if you’ve ever been in a band, you’ll probably agree. The first is that I firmly believe that everything included in a press kit (photo, bio, clippings, occasional promotional item, oh and music sampler) except the CD gets thrown in the trash.*
I hate having to mail all that crap to someone, because it costs money, and it usually amounts to nothing. There is more value in giving money to a homeless guy than producing and mailing a press kit, because at least giving money to a homeless guy means that someone will get drunk later. Paying to make and mail press kits is tantamount to wiping my ass with five dollar bills.
Press kits also lie. Since they are basically a band resume, they are rife with exaggerations (DV's is no exception to this), and I presume that they are universally similar for every local band. For example, at some point in their career, a local band that is any good will get to open for a national band, providing them for a possible half-truth to include in their bio or press clippings. I know of a band around here that gets to play the Ernie Ball stage at the Warped Tour every year because they have a well-connected manager. Their bio alleges that they have shared the stage with bands such as Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid and all the other mainstage headliners. This is a white lie, but it's a lie nevertheless. They are playing the same event, but the Ernie Ball stage is pretty far away from where the headliners are. They weren’t sharing the stage with anyone other than the same people they’ve shared the stage with in Flower Mound, Addison or various roller rinks.
Then there’s the universal press kit fib about packing all the local clubs. Sometimes this is technically true, but it's almost always subjective. We packed Headhunters in Austin. This is totally true. But it was the patio, which is tiny. Not that I'm complaining about this; I thought it was pretty rad, and I think the club did too. But I hate having to gently fabricate the size of out of town crowds for the sake of maybe (read: probably not) opening for Pepper or Slightly Stoopid. I feel like it's for a good cause, and if it's fudging just a little, I guess it's okay, but it would be great if I could just tell the truth: “yes we have big crowds at home. Yes we have big crowds in a couple other places. Give us a chance to make a big crowd at your club. It will probably take a few shows though, just so you know.”
As if their potential for disposal, wasteful cost and inherent stretching of the truth weren’t enough to make them a total beating, unwritten press kit law states that you are supposed to include a band photo. Why a photo is important is beyond me, but I know this booking guy around here who passed me the following insider tip:
“You can say you played with whoever, but that doesn’t mean anything. It’s much more valuable to
have a professional, 8X10 black-and-white.”
You’d think that a CD would be a better indication of what a band might do for your club, but nope, apparently it’s a headshot.
Our press picture is three years old anyway, so last Friday, we took some new pictures. We used a professional photographer (our friend Kerrie, friendship thereby making her affordable) and took them at our friend Ira’s house, because he has a rad backyard with two homemade bars. This seemed like the most natural setting for us, but it really doesn’t matter how they turn out, because they will still be an opportunity for mockery. See, this website called Rock and Roll Confidential has a section called The Hall of Douchebags,” which is a huge archive full of the terrible press photos of presumably awful local bands. RaRC merely points out the obvious, that local band press photos are intrinsically hilarious. As such, press kit photos are pretty much a landmine that you, as a band, willingly bury, arm and step on. If you go to that site (be prepared to waste a good hour or so), you’ll find that the person who rips on all these pics is generally right on the money. Press kit photos all look pretty tired. Their settings are usually some laughably stereotypical locale (brick wall, alley formed by brick walls, chain-link fences, train tracks, or a combination of all of these), and when they aren’t, their situation is totally removed from anything that has to do with the band, or for that matter, anything that has to do with reality. This is why Kerrie shot us standing on top of the Grampus, because standing up there was actively ridiculous. We have no reason whatsoever to be on top of the van. We would never play a show from atop the van, nor would we ever just hang out up there. But we did it anyway, at my behest. Anyway, I was drunk. It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Unless a band is comprised of strippers or aliens, no one should really give a flying crippled crap what it looks like. Well, unless it’s a rockabilly band, I suppose. Image seems to be pretty important to rockabilly people. But it’s not like you’d use our mugs to sell tickets anyway. We’re a fat guy, a slightly less fat guy and a short guy. If anything, our press kit photo might be detrimental to getting out of town shows. And as proof to this point, some of the bands on the Hall of Douchebags might be worth listening to (this is completely for the sake of argument), but you can bet I’d never book them. If we show up there (and you can bet I’ll submit our picture), I’ll be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, we will put these things together, stick them in the mailbox and hope for the best. It can’t be any worse than wishing for winning lottery tickets.
Or giving money to the homeless.
*if you’re lucky.
This is my favorite one.
And for those from Fort Worth, here's Pimpadelic, being terrible.