Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jason's Special "Blogger's Wish"


Sometimes I think about throwing in the towel on this experiment that is THOUGHTS OF A LIMEMONKEY.

Among my other projects (read:bullshit), I'm trying to formulate ways of drumming up both traffic and interactivity. I realize that the first thing I need to do is create content people who don't know me will find interesting. The only problem: figuring out what that content could be.

I really enjoy writing my (now weekly) music column "Classic Albums Revisited." I enjoy it so much, that a few days ago I toyed with starting a new-all music blog. Then I nixed this idea. I did so because I don't think that a rock music blog would interest very few people.

So, basically I got nuttin.

Interactivity: I know SO MANY PEOPLE who are bored. I know SO MANY that sit online for hours. WHY NOT START A BLOG? Or, to those who have blogs--WHY NOT POST ON THEM MORE? I've made a few friends via the Interweb, you could too.

That's my special blogger wish.

P.S. Dear Lurkers--I know who you are...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Novel Progress

The work continues.

Yesterday was my most productive day yet. This time last week I'd cleaved off the last 100 or so pages (deeming them unfit for the direction I wanted to go). Well after Saturday's intermittent writing sessions, I'm happy to report that I'm not sitting comfortably at page 150. Most of this is old material that has been re-worked, however I am now at the point where all I'm doing now is writing new material.

I'm optimistic about finishing the manuscript, but worried about what happens when I'm done.

One Week of Marriage

Well it's been exactly one week since me and Leah got married.

I don't know what to say--I never imagined myself a married man, but I am now. It's just like I thought it would be...the same as it was. At least, it's the same for me--Leah is in the process of changing her last name, which is a pretty big deal.

We're saving money on our car insurance. That's good, right?

I'm not a big fan of institutions, like marriage...but I think that they're okay sometimes. It really does depend on the people involved. I can't imagine myself married (and still having a will to live) to anyone other than Leah.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P Paul Newman


Australian pop-rock band Dogs Die in Hot Cars have an awesome song called "Paul Newman's Eyes" in which the singer wails: "I wish I had Paul Newman's eyes/and everyday came as a surprise/That would be nice."

I never wanted Paul Newman's ice-blue eyes, until my High School Psychology teacher showed us COOL HAND LUKE (for some strange reason). That movie blew me away. Another one of my favorite flicks of all time is the western BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. I rented that one on a lark--if you've never seen it...go to Blockbuster and rent both! You will not be dissapointed.

Paul retired a few years back from acting, but he was still making movies until recently. The last good movie I saw him in was 2002's ROAD TO PERDITION (which my mother read, Mom--did you ever see the movie? It's not half-bad).

Anyway, Paul's in heaven now--cut down at 83 (a rip old age) by the "Big-C."

Leah's never seen COOL HAND LUKE, so I think tonight I'm going to hold her down and make her watch it.

Chips From the Chocolate Fireball

It's Saturday...time again for another long nerd-essay about a great album from the past!!! Last week, I took a look at Elvis Costello's MY AIM IS TRUE--this week I've decided to look a rather unusual, nearly-forgotten album from a band 99.99999% of my loyal LIMEMONKEY readers will have never heard of.

So sit back, relax, and float downstream...because this week
I'm talking about CHIPS FROM THE CHOCOLATE FIREBALL by The Dukes of Stratosphere. So sit back and enjoy another installment of Classic Albums Revisited:

Psychedelic. What does that word kick up in your mind? Drugs. Drugs that make you see bright, shiny, other-worldly colors. Back in 1960's, when LSD was "discovered" popular music was altered (for the better in my opinion) when artists began experimenting in the studio to create songs that recreated and enhanced the "trippy" effect LSD gave it's users. I have no interest in going on a real-life, honest-to-God psychedelic journey...but I'm always ready to dip my mind in the vibrant colors of psychedelic music. Back in 1972, near the end of the "Psychedelic Era," a dude named Jac Holzman at Elektra Records assembled one of the greatest collections of American and British Psych-rock/pop. The 2-LP was called NUGGETS: ORIGINAL ARTYFACTS FROM THE FIRST PSYCHEDELIC ERA 1965-1968. Anyone wishing to earn a million-bajillion brownie points with me can do so by tracking this thing down and buying it for me...

Anyway, NUGGETS didn't feature any bands that today are very well known...in fact, one of the reasons Holzman put NUGGETS out was to preserve these rare gems (or "nuggets") of great 60's music before they were lost to the ages. Despite being a bit random and obscure, this box-set influenced a shit-load of musicians (and critics).

One-hit-wonders have always fascinated me. I could, in fact, write a whole blog post about that strange musical phenomenon, but instead my focus is The Dukes of Stratosphere.

Flash forward from the 1960s, past 1972 and NUGGETS...all the way to 1980's. The eighties music scene did not look kindly on the 1960s. The era of excess, for the most part, rejected the idealism of 60s--and psychedelic music. Which is why British rockers XTC probably adopted the guise of "The Dukes of Stratosphere." Already heavily influenced by classic 60's English pop, XTC admitted to being fans of The Beatles in a time when The Clash were pissing on the Fab Four (and selling lots of records). Going against the grain, XTC released two EP's that hearkened back to an earlier, "trippier" time--1985's 25 O'CLOCK and 1987's PSONIC PSUNSPOT.

CHIPS FROM THE CHOCOLATE FIREBALL is a 1987 CD-only compilation that combines both shorter records into one larger package. Consisting of sixteen short, strange tracks, CHIPS is a great band both aping and embracing the music they grew up loving. Under the moniker of The Dukes, XTC imitate the styles of The Byrds, The Hollies, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, and yes...Iron Butterfly.

Lots and lots of Iron Butterfly. You know Iron Butterfly from their one (and only) great song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." That song featured a shit-ton of hypnotic organ playing. That's the sort of thing found of CHIPS FROM THE CHOCOLATE FIREBALL. Except it's not annoying. The record has a a lot of ALICE AND WONDERLAND-like spoken word bits in between tracks. It's all really freaky man. Really freaky.

25 O'CLOCK was released on April Fool's Day, so this stuff is not meant to be taken seriously--however it's hard to listen to the the Pink Floyd-eque "Bike Ride to the Moon" and not be impressed. Sure, it sounds like a Pink Floyd rip-off...but have you ever tried writing a Pink Floyd song? It's not easy. Hell, Pink Floyd can't even write Pink Floyd song anymore. I guess what I'm saying is, it would be wrong to dismiss this record on the basis that the songs are so derivative.

Consider, for example, The Hollies-influenced "Vanishing Girl." This song has all the trademarks of The Hollies...the distinctive vocal harmonies, the jangly 60's guitar flourishes, the intricate story-like lyrics. This song sounds like it was recorded in the 1960s. You could go back in time and play it on the radio, and not only would it sound of the era--it would have been a hit. Sure, it's unlikely that the song could exist without The Hollies...

This is the case for many of the albums more memorable songs. "Brainiac's Daughter" is a whimsical ode to the daughter of Superman's nemesis that's very similar to Paul McCartney's 1975 B-Side "Magneto and Titanium Man" (both songs are wacky with lyrics that reflect the songwriters rather shallow understanding of their comic book subject matter--Brainiac has no daughter). Though it's a bit too cute for it's own good, the song works for me only because it's so far "out there" with it's psuedo-vaudevillian sensibility. Like "When I'm 64" it's a throw-back to a throw-back.

While "Brainiac's Daughter" may very simple, repetitious lyrics, a particularly clever set of lyrics on "You're My Drug" (Byrds-style song) really showcase how versatile the Andy Partridge and company were at adapting differing styles of psychedelic music. Bouncing between American and British psych-rock can't be easy. Compare the frenetic, bouncy roller coaster that is "You're My Drug" to the Beach Boys-inspired "Pale and Precious" and it's hard to believe they were composed by the same band (let alone performed by the same men in the same time frame).

The material from 25 O'CLOCK sounds nothing like XTC or 80's music. This cannot be said of all the songs from PSONIC PSUNSPOT. "Have You Seen Jackie?" and "Little Lighthouse" sound a bit too polished, a bit too modern...here The Dukes drop their false beards and XTC shine though--not that it's a bad thing but some of the magic is lost towards the end of the record. I would say about 85% of this record is perfect, and totally captures the spirit of the 60's track they're mean to emulate/pay homage to.

Many critics regard CHIPS FROM THE CHOCOLATE FIREBALL to be the best work from the musicians in XTC. The argument made is that by using another name (The Dukes...) the band felt free to experiment more and were generally more relaxed. I disagree with this partially. XTC is a great band, whose last two records were an amazing capstone to a storied career. That said, The Dukes of Stratosphere recordings were an astonishing feat of musicianship. The attention to detail and history that went into these songs are top notch.

I'm not the only one that feels this way. In August of 2005 Rhino Records released a four disc box-set titled CHILDREN OF NUGGETS: ORIGINAL ARTYFACTS FROM THE SECOND PSYCHEDELIC ERA 1976-1995. Among the many artists in the psychedelic/garage rock world included on this new compilation, were The Dukes of Stratosphere. In fact, "Vanishing Girl" is the first song on the first disc.

This inclusion on the "second generation" of NUGGETS is a fitting tribute to such an interesting band/project.

Friday, September 26, 2008

ASK and Ye Shall RECEIVE!!!

Oh, boy!!!

So a few months back, I think it was July, me and Leah went to Florida (Tampa exactly) to visit relatives. While down there we sampled an awesome beverage at the local supermarket. It was Canada Dry Ginger Ale mixed with Green Tea. It was basically a really bubbly, sweet green tea. Very smooth and refreshing.

Thinking this was just a new product, and not a regional one, we came home and looked for it in the stores around St. Louis.

No luck.

So a few weeks after we'd been home, Leah gave up and went to the Customer Service Counter at our local Dierbergs and asked for it. Turns out grocery stores have little forms you can fill out and request specific products (who knew!?).

Well tonight, while out shopping we happened to be at Dierbergs--and like we always do, we decided to check the soda aisle. And guess what? It was there! Two 12-packs sitting among the other ginger ales! We were so happy we grabbed them both!

So I guess it never does hurt to ask. And should be lucky enough to happen upon this stuff, try it!!! It's so good!!!

Bored at work

Hey, it's nearly 5:00pm on Friday...and I'm waiting for my boss-in-law to show up so I can go home. There's no one here, and nothing to do.

I'm just sitting here, preparing this week's CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED post for tomorrow. I have a real unusual/never heard of choice for tomorrow...but I was wondering if there were any suggestions floating around out there in the wider Inter-Webs. So, any suggestions???

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank You Becky

Becky Hug Proof

Solid gold...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Within My Grasp

Well now that the "wedding thing" is over, I'm back at work on my novel. Last week was a reading/paring down week. I discovered a huge 40+ page sub-plot that derailed EVERYTHING. Last night I plotting the second half of the book, and tonight I started a new document and cut-and-pasted my novel into it (I never delete anything). From there I chopped the offending stuff out and pieced what didn't need to go with what was good in the first 100 pages. That took longer than I thought.

Still, my goal for tonight was to do some honest-to-God actual writing...and I did. I only got about 900 words out, but it was a start. Tomorrow I continue the journey.

My goal is 1rst draft done by November 1, 2008. Then November will be a month of editing, with a "read-to-read" manuscript prepped for December. My first group of readers should get it in time for the holidays.

Ho-ho-ho.

*fingers crossed*

Monday, September 22, 2008

We Did It (oh, and we got married...too)

In the coming days/weeks/months(?) I'll be posting more pictures of the "big day," but for right now I don't have very much (see below).

The wedding was actually not as scary as I thought it would be. There were no family arguments and no drunken brawls (we saved $$$ by not having anything beyond a champagne toast). I was a wreck just before the ceremony. I was so nervous.

Though we'd rehearsed the day before, I forgot everything and was basically in "what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do" mode. It was great. Then the ceremony started, and as soon as I saw Leah I started tearing up. I made it without crying, until the vows.

Apparently me and my sister Amber are the only people who have hearts not made of stone--because we're the only ones who cried.

Whatever.

My Flickr Photostream will probably explode from all the pictures I have (both from the "big day" and the days leading up to it) but for now this is all I have:

IMG_0891

IMG_0946

IMG_0976

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

I am freaking out

I am freaking out.

The only person who could help me right now, I can't see.

Can't wait for today to be OVER.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Aim Is True

Time for another long nerd-essay about a great album from the past!!! Last week, I took a look at The Who’s IT’S HARD--this week I've decided to look at a fantastic debut album, from an artist a little neglected by critics (in my opinion).

This week I'm talking about MY AIM IS TRUE by Elvis Costello. So sit back and enjoy another installment of Classic Albums Revisited:

Elvis Costello is one of those guys whose rep has suffered a bit as he's aged. Kids today only know his as the "dude with the funny glasses." Many more equate him to Phil Collins or Eric Clapton--a boring "adult-contemporary" singer-songwriter (Clapton's last decade and a half of output as a bluesman has murdered his rock GOD status...what a shame). But in the beginning, before the duets with Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello was punk.
Punk!?

Not really the word many would us to describe Mr. Costello, but after re-listening to his first three (mega-classic) albums, that's the word that kept springing into my head. Oh sure, there's a lot of organ...but the attitude, snide delivery, and sheer velocity of the songs on MY AIM IS TRUE is pretty damn punk.

Prior to MY AIM IS TRUE, Elvis Costello was Declean MacManus. He worked a lame office job (for the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden no less!) and he dreamed of being a rock star. No one was buying Costello as a rock star. He was this thin, pasty, awkward looking Englishman. His voice was...unusual. But he could write a good tune, so in 1976 Stiff Records hired him as a songwriter. They wanted him to write songs for their prima-donna Dave Edmonds. Edmonds, however, had to be convinced that he needed to record Costello's songs. So, the label had Costello record his songs, with backing band Clover, in order to give Edmonds an idea of how the songs would sound.

The backing band went onto become The News (of Huey Lewis and The News fame) and Elvis Costello's career was launched. The songs turned out so well, that the label decided to release them with Elvis as the star.

Recorded over a stretch of 1976, in about twenty-four hours, MY AIM IS TRUE is a breezy, blast of English pop. And I mean "blast": most of these songs clock in around 2 minutes. That said, even though these songs are short, they've all well-constructed. Prime example, the doo-wop backing vocals and sharp hand claps on "Welcome to the Working Week." The song is literally over in the time it takes for most songs to reach the first chorus. And yet this is a whole, complete thought. Amazing.

There's a surprising amount of Biblical references on the record. "Miracle Man," "Blame it On Cain" (where Costello blames his problems on Cain, even though it's not really his fault), and "Waiting for the End of the World." The first time I heard this record my mind just sorta glossed over all these allusions, but they're there.

Love and it's opposite emotion, anger also pop up frequently on MY AIM IS TRUE. The chilling "I'm Not Angry" encompasses both. My favorite track, "(The Angels Want to Wear My) Red Shoes," which is both bleak and strangely comforting (and features some of my favorite Costello lyrics). It's so snarky, it's downright magical. This song features one of the most brutally honest/realistic depictions of the relationship between man and woman:

"Oh, I said "I'm so happy, I could die."
She said "Drop dead", then left with another guy.
That's what you get if you go chasing after vengeance.
Ever since you got me punctured this has been my sentence."

What guy hasn't had that happen to him. Who hasn't been so utterly rejected? Costello distills this experience, and makes it rock 'n roll. Fucking brilliant.

"Less Than Zero" is another great snarky track, and marks one of the earliest manifestations of Costello's (understandable) fear of Nazism/Fascism (which pops up again and again in Costello's early work).

You want punk? Nothing's more punk than:

"Turn up the TV, no one listening will suspect
Even your mother won't detect it, so your father won't know
They think that I've got no respect but
Everything is less than zero."

or how about:

"A pistol was still smoking, a man lay on the floor
Mr. Oswald said he had an understanding with the law
He said he heard about a couple living in the USA
He said they traded in their baby for a Chevrolet"

Of course, not discussion of MY AIM IS TRUE is complete without talking about "Alison." Next to "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?," "Alison" is his most famous songs. It's a quiet, love song (of sorts) about a lost love who's gotten married to someone else. It's sad and soulful.

"Alison"
Oh it's so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl.
And with the way you look I understand
that you were not impressed.
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
take off your party dress.
I'm not going to get too sentimental
like those other sticky valentines,
'cause I don't know if you are loving some body.
I only know it isn't mine.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.

Well I see you've got a husband now.
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying
in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand.
Bet he took all he could take.
Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say.
I think somebody better put out the big light,
'cause I can't stand to see you this way.

Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.
My aim is true.

This song stands out like a sore thumb on MY AIM IS TRUE. Every time I listen to it, all the way through, it feels too much like a single. I can understand why, even to this day, people love it...but compared to the wit and irony of the rest of the record, "Alison" comes like a splash of cold water to the face. It's refreshingly different, but also a little startling. This guy sings, kinda ironically--almost like he's winking at you...then BAM! smack dab in the middle of MY AIM IS TRUE there's this moment where his defenses lower a bit, and you're kinda embarrassed--for him, because you know you're seeing something unguarded, that you're not supposed to be seeing. So, even though it's an okay song by itself, "Alison" is one of the greatest songs (in my opinion) in the context of the album as a whole.

Go dust off MY AIM IS TRUE, it'll surprise you how modern it still sounds.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stamp

Leah bought this stamp making kit (for the weddin') and I used it to make a big obnoxious "Limemonkey" stamp.

Here, see:


LimemonkeySTAMP

Back @ UMSL

So after work today I met my buddy Paul over at UMSL. We met up in the "quad" like in the old days, and had a smoke. It was strange being back at school. There were all these kids...a guy on a moped...it was kinda lame.

I guess it's true what they say--you really can't go back.

After that we went down to the Loop for dinner and some beers. It was great. Kinda wish Katie could have been there, to complete the English Major Trifecta...but alas, today is Thursday (even though I have the day off tomorrow...most people, shockingly, have to go to work).

I'm sweating (literally) right now, and drinking Coconut juice (NOT VitaCoca, the "Official Coconut Beverage of THOUGHTS OF A LIMEMONKEY."). I want to play ROCK BAND 2, but my living room is a bit crowded right now...Brenda is staying with us (hi Brenda!).

That's about it. Tomorrow is the bachelor party!!!

Limemonkey Life Update

So the wedding is Sunday.

I'm trying hard to NOT freak out...but it's hard. Really, really hard. But deep down, I know that like my High School graduation (and college?) nothing is really going to be different. Oh sure, I get a minor tax break...and Leah will have my last name...but really, will anything have changed?

No.

Anyway, it's not the "marriage" part that worries me. It's the "party/pageant" aspect of getting married. I always said I wanted a chick that'd be fine with running away to Vegas...and right now Vegas sounds pretty sweet. We have people that must be babied. People who must be convinced and begged to show up. People who call over and over wanting the name of the hotel. There have been social "boo-boos." People invited to the rehearsal dinner that shouldn't have been.

Ugh. And don't even get me started on the bachelor party situation (seriously).

What else is going on?

Well, this week I hunkered down and read my novel (what I have written). I'm trying to finish that bastard, but first I had to see where I left off. I have 196 pages written. The first 100 or so are gold. The rest is crap. I literally wrote a novella inside my novel--40+ boring pages of back story for a minor character. Yikes.

So once I axe that, and totally change the direction of the book...I'll be well on my way to finishing her up. Which I MUST do before November...because that's when NaNoWriMo starts all over again. And I really would like to have LAST YEARS novel attempt completed (at least the first draft) so I can compete again this year. Overall (talking about those first 100 pages), I'm impressed with how funny it is. When I was writing it, I didn't set out to "make it funny" but my humor comes across quite well. I also noticed that all of the characters seem to be shards of my own psyche. Which makes sense because the only person I really know is myself...so anyone I invent would be based (loosely) on myself. I like it how I've unconcsiously given my charcaters some of my odd habits (reading in the tub).

And finally:

The thing I'm most excited about is seeing my friend Paul tomorrow. We've decided to meet up at UMSL after work. We're going to go and hang out, just like we used to all those countless semesters. Now that he's out too, we both like to reminisce about the "good old days." Ah, getting old sucks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Single Greatest Motivational Speech...EVER!

Saw this clip from GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS on YouTube a few months back...and it's haunted me. Whenever I feel like throwing in the towel, it's this monologue by Alec Baldwin (of all people) that I think of.



That's what my inner critic sounds like. Pisses me off. Today this critic reared his ugly head again, and unlike Jack Lemmon and Ed Harris--I did something about. I'm halfway through my manuscript. Gonna finish that damn book.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Merch Table

I was listening to a podcast, GOOD CLEAN FUN, and I started thinking about merch. The show is done by Michael Butler (of the ROCK 'N ROLL GEEK SHOW) and Jasper from the PLAN 9 ROCK podcast. It's a great/awful show where they sit and talk about stuff (and are generally shitty dudes).

Anyway, Jasper makes merch (stickers, hats, t-shirts) and it got me thinking about merchandise. Now I don't want to get your hopes up (or give anyone any good ideas) but I'm thinking about making some custom THOUGHTS OF A LIMEMONKEY merch. I'm thinking t-shirts.

I realize that I have like 3 readers, and none of them would plunker down any money for a t-shirt proclaiming the awesomeness of my blog...but what I'm thinking of is giving these away (possibly as X-mas gifts). Thoughts on this subject?

Potential (very rough) artwork:

Journey-less Journey Concert

Last night me and Leah headed out to Riverport (I refuse to call any venue "Verizon Wireless Amphitheater" because there are 10,000 of them all over the USA) for the final concert of the week. This was a crazy week for me, three shows in one week. This was the "biggest" show, and nothing drove this home more like the crowd. The line of cars on I-70 East was crazy. For some reason we decided to go a little later than I normally like to go, this was a mistake.

By the time we got to the front gates, the sky was black and scary. Leah brought her superman blanket (I foolishly bought lawn tickets) and I brought my big black umbrella. Well, when we got to the gates, security wouldn't let me bring my umbrella inside. They said it was too big. So, with fifteen minutes till Cheap Trick were supposed to take the stage, I opted to THROW MY UMBRELLA away...rather than waste twenty-minutes walking all the way back to put it in my car. The crowd was huge (it was sold out). By the time we got to the lawn area, it was jam packed. We found a small plot of grass, that wasn't too wet, and sat down. A few minutes later Cheap Trick started their set.

Cheap Trick. I love this band and was very excited to see them live...they sounded great--but man were they old. I mean, scary old. I know this not because I could actually SEE them from the stage, but rather from the numerous giant monitors. The close-ups were not kind. Another sign your band should think about hanging it up: everyone is wearing hats. Why, oh why are you guys all wearing hats??? Is it because you're all going/are bald??? Yes.

Guitarist Rick Nielson had a bunch of really cool guitars (all Gibson), they were all shiny. One had this great picture of The Beatles on it. It became kind of a joke because every song he had a new (outrageous looking) guitar. For the most part, the band played all their hits. They played "Hello There," "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me," "If You Want My Love," "Dream Police," and yes..."The Flame." I was really hoping they'd skip "The Flame" but they didn't. Yikes that is a lame song. But the old people in the crow liked it, so whatever.

Overall, I enjoyed Cheap Trick, but I was a bit disappointed...I guess I'd have enjoyed them more if it was 20 years ago.

Anyway, after Cheap Trick was Heart. I wasn't expecting much from Heart. I'm not sure why, they're a pretty rockin' band. Maybe I was just being sexist...you know, they're a "girl" band. Heart blew my frickin' mind. Seriously.

It was the original 70's lineup of Heart, and for the most part, they all looked pretty good. Nancy Wilson is smokin hot (still). Ann Wilson is a "big girl" now, but she still looked pretty good, too. We'd heard on the radio on the way over to the show, that the band almost didn't make it because of Ann's throat issues. I was worried, fearing they would suck. But they didn't suck, they were AWESOME. Ann sounded fantastic, which for a band like Heart (who has just a virtuosic singer) is key. Like Cheap Trick, they did the Greatest Hits show...with a few surprises. "Magic Man," "Straight On," "Never," and "Barracuda" were no-brainers--but then near the end they threw in an awesome, phenomenal, knock-your-socks-off cover of The Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me."

Despite being the second band, Heart actually came back for an encore! They played "Crazy On You" and another really awesome cover--Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." After seeing them, I'd say that Heart is probably one of the best bands I've seen live. I'd seen them again in a heart beat (pun intended).

At this point, it hadn't really rained on us yet...but we'd felt a few sprinkles. This, compounded by a large, drunken crowd WITH our crappy seats made me make an executive decision: I decided to skip Journey. I wasn't feeling very well (I'm fighting a cold) so we bailed. On the way out we stopped by the main gates and I got my umbrella back!!! We found it in a giant pile/heap of confiscated umbrellas.

So, that's the story how I went to a Journey concert and skipped Journey.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Hard

Time for another long nerd-essay about a great album from the past!!! Last week, I took a look at AC/DC's DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRTY CHEAP--this week I've decided to look at a more obscure (but fantastic) album.

This week I'm talking about IT'S HARD by The Who. So sit back and enjoy another installment of Classic Albums Revisited:


The second Who album following the death of drummer Keith Moon, and the last until 2006's ENDLESS WIRE--IT'S HARD isn't as highly regarded as the group's late 60's and 70's output. Released in 1982, the band wasn't considered "relevant" anymore by most mainstream rock critics. Radio stations and casual music fans agreed with this sentiment and the album languished at #11 in the UK and #8 in the US.

That last sentence was ironic by the way. Sure, it didn't do so hot in England, but most bands would kill for a #8 in America (today and then). But because it was the legendary Who (or what remained of them) people expected more.

Like a lot of records from the 80's, the album is draped in Mr. Robert Moog's (in) famous invention: the synthesizer. I'm sure at the time; this wasn't as big an issue as it is now. Like black and white film, the sound of a synthesizer really turns a lot of young people off. To be fair to The Who, IT'S HARD makes good use of the synthesizer (see the spellbinding opening of "Eminence Front"). Still, I think it's the reason this record takes such a hit compared to the early (bulk) of the Who's recordings in many eyes.

I also read a review somewhere that said the album was full of complex songs with meandering structures that, for the large part have no strong melodies. I agree with some of that. The songs do have long, almost prog-rock like structures, but this enhances the album and is a detraction. I will admit that the hooky lyrics and melodies of the early Who albums aren't as strong here. But what the album lacks in "hooks" and choruses you can instantly sing along with, the album makes up in passion.

IT'S HARD is an extremely passionate record. Roger Daltry is no slouch when it comes to conveying emotion through his legendary rock-howl...but on IT'S HARD his voice is downright visceral.

The album's two singles--the before mentioned "Eminence Front" and "Athena," aren't really very reflective of the album as a whole. Whenever this happens (a band's single not representing the bulk of an album's content), that artist is nearly always in trouble. Perhaps the main record-buying public balked at IT'S HARD because of "Athena" and it's bubbly, adult-contemporary-ness. Serious Who fans who were floored by the groovy white-guy soul (that only Brits can pull off) of "Eminence Front" were probably turned off by the rather non-groovy white-guy soul of the rest of the album. Both groups are hard to please, but with the passage of time and absolutely no expectations I walked into this album complete and utterly shocked. And amazed.

As stated earlier, this is a record dripping with passion--and passion and politics go hand-in-hand. No stranger’s to politics, The Who once again dabble in fiery protest rock with "I've Known No War." Equal parts anti-war/pacifist, this song chillingly points out that even if a person doesn't want to fight in the great war it won't matter...because the next great war will be fought by two people with there fingers on "the button."

Also political, is "Why Did I Fall For That?" which seems to directly answer the band's earlier "Won't Get Fooled Again." Listening to this song reminds me some of my relatives who voted for the current president...then voted for him the second time. The song reminds us that history will hold ALL of us accountable for falling for the same old line time and time again. In other words, twenty years later, it STILL touches a nerve. That, my friends, is awesome.

The album's title track is fucking amazing. It's completely 100% classic Who. It has the nice, rollicking guitar. It has the pounding drums. It has the classic Who-background vocal-chant. The lyrics, while a little cumbersome at times are still pretty good. Who (not the band) after a particularly bad day hasn't asked the heavens above to be dealt a better hand? The Who (band) have:

"Anyone can do anything if they hold the right card
So I'm thinking about my life now
I'm thinking very hard
Deal me another hand Lord, this one's very hard
Deal me another hand Lord, this one's very hard"

The guitar work on this record, while a little more restrained (compared to previous Who records) is still very good. Musically my only complaint is the ridiculous Rocky-Theme-sounding horns at the beginning of "One At a Time." These horns were never cool, not even in 1982. Crappy horns (they're seriously only there for like 5 seconds) aside, "One At a Time" is actually a pretty good song, in the same vein as "Squeeze Box" and "You Better You Bet."

Despite a lackluster public and critical reception, IT'S HARD is actually pretty fucking amazing now that I think about it. Next time you find yourself about to listen to WHO'S NEXT, TOMMY, or (if you're really cool) QUADROPHENIA--go pop in IT'S HARD instead. This album demands a second (or third, fourth, etc.) listen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Look what WE got today...

Our Marriage License

Week and one day remaining.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Living Through Another Cuba" PRT. 2

Though my military expert (Murph) seems unfazed by the recent Russian/South American activity...I thought I'd pass on this interesting (and scary) bit of news.

Seems the Ruskies have some sort of bomber parked over in Venezuela (a bomber that's capable of carrying nukes). I realize this will come to nothing, and that they are trying to intimidate us...and it worked (no me at least).

"September Calling" Revisited

Today is 9/11, and it's been 7 years that began meaning anything to anyone. I'm not sure what to say about it anymore...or what to think. We all know that it was terrible, I guess we can all agree on that...

Anyway, here is a re-posting of an essay-ish thing I wrote a few years ago on the eve of 9-11 back in 2006:


The eleventh day of September, 2001 began just like the day before. I woke up in the late morning; the sun was streaming through the blinds onto the gray carpet. I remember the zebra stripped pattern it made as I slowly returned to the conscious world. My alarm clock radio was going off. I had it set to a religious AM station (in order to pull me that much faster out of bed to shut it off). Unlike the usual fiery sermons and sobbing testimonials, however, today’s program was much more subdued. Apparently, there had been an “accident” in New York. A plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers.

I rushed upstairs and yelled at my mother to turn on CNN. As the television winked to life we put it on channel 44. There were two nearly identical pillars of steel and glass. One was fine, and one was spewing fire and plumes of smoke. Before we could comprehend what we were seeing, a second aircraft suddenly materialized as if by magic. I remember the amazingly slow crash. It was horrific. It was like a bad disaster flick. It was unreal. It was happening, live from New York…

I remember my mother shaking her head, her eyes watering, “This isn’t an accident…somebody is doing this on purpose…” She yelled up to my baby sister, telling her to stay upstairs where she couldn’t see the TV. If that was all that happened, if two planes hitting a New York landmark was all there was…maybe 9/11 wouldn’t be so traumatic. After all, planes crash every now and then. But there was more, much more. As my mother and I sat hypnotized, CNN reported that a rescue effort was underway. NYPD and NYFD were going in; the buildings were going to be evacuated. Order creeping back amidst chaos.

Then the first tower collapsed into a billowing cloud of smoke and death. I’ve never seen a more terrible thing in my life. To know that there were people dying live on TV was bad, but watching their would-be rescuers die too was too much. How many heroic people died that day? How many acts of heroism occurred on September 11, 2001? Maybe as many as there are stars in the night sky. Maybe more. Public servants and first responders always say things like “I’m just doing my job” or something similar. The brave heroes of New York had a job to do.

As corny as it sounds, my mother and I had jobs to do too. Had the terrorist attacks occurred on September 12, 2001 the eleventh would still have been a historic moment (at least for me personally). You see, I was a freshman in college and 9/11 was the day of my first college exam. I went to my American History class, where Dr. Moore looked at us and told us, “I understand if some of you don’t want to take the test today, light of today’s events…however I think it would be best if you all took the test now while the material is still fresh in your minds…”

Dr. Moore passed out the tests after most of us agreed to stay and take the exam. The catastrophe was still on-going at this point, and information was still sketchy at best on a lot of what was actually happening. To alleviate our curiosity (and his) Dr. Moore told us he’d monitor the news and keep us up to date on any breaking reports. This meant that our teacher was out of the room for most of the test as he shuffled back and forth between our classroom and the teachers lounge.

Now, if my own little slice of 9/11 was a Hollywood movie, this would be the scene where everyone bravely takes their tests. Tears streaking down our cheeks, maybe even a few tears dripping down onto our test books. Cue the inspirational music. The truth, the actual history of my first college exam is about as ugly as everything else that happened that brutal day. As soon our professor was out of the room, so too went many of my peer’s ethics. Cheating erupted like wildfire. Approximately 75% of the class was engaged in academic dishonesty. People too lazy to study and read were suddenly benefiting from the New York tragedy. I was horrified for the second time that day. People were laughing and joking. I couldn’t believe people were actually taking advantage of the most horrific thing I’d ever seen. I was in for a rude awakening, because the day wasn’t even half over yet.

I finished up my test and went to my car and listened to the radio. All of the stations were playing essentially the same thing: 9/11 the radio show. Disembodied voices talking endlessly about the need for order and calm. Flights grounded, Presidents safe and secure, bunkers, war, F-18’s over Washington, the Pentagon in flames. Terrorism. I tried munching on a green apple, but the fruit was too sour for me to choke down. I went and bought a cheap, fast food hamburger. I went home briefly and called my then-girlfriend who was at another school, in another part of the state. Her voice was cold and distant. No, she hadn’t seen the second plane, the towers fall, the ash, the fire. Her roommate had told her. Not Ted Koppel or the people at the Today Show…just some random co-ed. I ended the call as quickly as I’d instigated it. There was a disconnection between our thoughts and perceptions. To her it was a bit of news, for me it seemed as if the sky was falling.

I went back to school and finished up my day in classes that I don’t remember attending. Things had calmed back down in my world, at least that’s what I thought. Everyone seemed to be looking over there shoulders, holding there breath, and faking a smile all at the same time. If civilization had collapsed before dinnertime I wouldn’t have been surprised, in fact I was sort of expecting it. We all were. I got in my red Chevy and started to head home for the second time that day. Something was wrong. The intersection less than five minutes from my house was in gridlock. Lines and lines of cars, thirty? Fifty? A hundred? They were all waiting in an endless sea of cars, choking up the roadways, creating chaos thousands of miles from ground zero and Bin Laden (whom I still didn’t know about), because of price gouging. I went home and all was revealed to me by my father.
“I heard on the radio that gas is already ________ dollars a gallon in Kansas.” We had to hurry, before the prices crossed state lines and made there way into Missouri. At least, that’s what my father said. He told me to go back to that parking lot I’d barely managed to crawl through and wait in line for gas…before it was $16 a gallon. Children cheat on tests; adults cheat each other out of money. Ah, capitalism. Once again I was appalled at how people were acting. I refused to go. I refused to take part. My father angrily took my car keys and went himself to buy gas for my car. He returned quicker than I thought him capable of…like everyone that day, he wasn’t sure if gas was going to be $16 a gallon or not…but he’d soon too much earlier in the day to take any chances. He’d seen too much to rule anything out of the realm of the possible.

Before I went to work I went and got the mail, in the stack of envelopes and junk mail was a simple white postcard from the government—it was my draft card. Not a good sign. It seemed as though the country, perhaps the world, was about to erupt in massive conflict. I went to work that night at the drugstore I worked at. There was a cheap little black and white TV perched next to my register. For five hours I got to watch the planes hit the buildings over and over. The towers rose and fell, rose and fell…like a diabolic sea lapping away at the beach of my soul. By the end of the night I was ready to revolt, ready to grab a pitch fork and join an angry mob. This is how human beings are like dominos. Knock one of us over and watch us all scramble to knock each other over.

I don’t recall going to bed that night, but I know I did. Eventually, everything went back to normal. They cleared the debris out from where the Twin Towers stood…and moved it to Afghanistan. Someone squealed to Dr. Moore about the rampant cheating. He came to the next class enraged and nearly in tears. How dare we take advantage of a tragic day and his good nature! I wish I’d been the one to tattle, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t as brave then as I am now. All the gas stations that overcharged and committed the sometimes-sin of price gouging (which is different from supply and demand…how?) were fined heavily and forced to give full refunds back to the masses. The hysteria was far from over, but the “healing” (or “forgetting”) process was underway.

War followed. Then another war followed. Gas didn’t shoot up overnight, instead it’s been steadily rising every since (because that’s legal…doing it overnight isn’t after all). Bruce Springsteen has released two albums (only one about 9/11). Movies are being made/have been made about what happened. Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum now have a new blanket to wrap up there lies in: 9/11. Oh, I almost forgot about the flags! Everyone bought flags. American flags made in China. That’ll keep the terrorists from winning.

I wish I could say we as a people all changed. The government got more powers (The Patriot Act). Iraq got rid of Saddam. But Americans are still diluted. I still don’t know why 9/11 happened. You don’t either. No one does, because if someone did know they’d be trying to fix the situation. Not with bullets but with brains. All we have is gangsters, high stakes gang bangers…one gang does a drive-by….so to retaliate the other does a drive-by….it’s an endless cycle of violence. The thugs in Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer in power—the thugs in America still are. Prior to 9/11 I considered myself a Democrat. Post-9/11 I dabbled in Conservatism. Now, today I’m twice as jaded as I used to be. I don’t even want to be associated with either party. I say I’m independent. On surveys I write “other” for political views. Like the Kennedy assassinations, 9/11 has eroded whatever trust and good will most of mainstream America had for its government.

I went to a Blockbuster a few months back, and I heard the strangest conversation. Two of the employees were talking about flight 93. One of the kids was talking about how the plane didn’t really crash in Pennsylvania. The passengers were really being used in an elaborate propaganda campaign—they were really tucked away somewhere at some secret army base. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This is what passes for intellectual conversation about 9/11 in America today. Already 9/11 is a trivia question, a faded bumper sticker, a movie of the week. Did it even really happen? Maybe it’s like the Holocaust, slavery, and the slaughter of the Indians…maybe 9/11 has been blown out of proportion. Maybe there is a secret base where all those fire fighters, police, and innocent people are just…just…tucked away.

The reality is, tomorrow September 11, 2006 is really just another day. In all probability, I will get up, go to school, come home and go to bed without anything too bad happening. My outlook on life will remain frivolous and unchanged. September 11, 2006 will be a non-event with no cultural significance whatsoever. September 11, 2001 however, is a different, more complicated matter. On that terrible day of confusion—chaos, fear, and greed ruled the day. Five years removed from that fateful day, I wonder what this day really means. Should 9/11 be a holiday? (It is) or should 9/11 be a day of stoic celebration (a kind of 4th of July part two?). I think that 9/11 should be a day of reflection—one for us as citizens of a country and citizens of a planet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

For Mom and Lindsey...



@ The Pageant X2


Show#1:

Where the hell were you last night? I waited and waited for you at The Pageant last night...but you never showed up. I was all alone at the Motorhead show. It was awesome. ASG and Valient Thorr were there. It was awesome. I saved you a seat, but you were a no-show.

Oh well, there were pleanty of other people there. Bat-shit crazy metal-heads. I'd never been to a metal show before, and I have to say...it didn't dissapoint. Though it wasn't as "rough" as I thought it would be. For one thing, I learned that a modern metal show is one of the safest places on earth. Seriously. For ever one fan they had two security guards. But a good time was still had. Eastern rockers ASG were pretty good...but the crowd was pretty pissed.

Here's why

Line-up when I bought the tickets: Airbourne, The Misfits, Valient Thorr, and Motorhead.

Line-up that acutally played that night: ASG, Valient Thorr, and Motorhead.

Looks a little different, don't it? Looks a little shorter, don't it? Looks like it doesn't have The Misfits on it, don't it? I actually wasn't there to see The Misfits (I wanted to see Airbourne, they're a fucking great band). But judging by the t-shirts in the crowd, about 40% of the people there wanted to see The Misfits. I have no idea why they were a no-show, but people were pissed. The lead singer(screamer) in Valient Thorr got a little sick of it and said something like, "Yeah I know, The Misfits aren't here...but if they were I could kick their ass...see, I'm wearing my wresting boots" *points at blue wrestling boots*

Motorhead was amazing. Seriously. There's a scene in the movie AIRHEADS, with Adam Sandler and Steve Buscemi, where Buscemi is testing this guy who might be a cop. He asks the guy, "Who would win in a fight, Lemmy or God?" The undercover hesitates, then says "Lemmy." Buscemi shakes his head, "Wrong! Trick question dick-head...Lemmy is God!" I can't say that I'd argue too much about Lemmy's divinity. Motorhead was really good. Blew my mind. Blew everyone's mind. Drummer Mikkey Dee was freakin' hilarious (he being a floppy-haired swedish meatball), banging the hell out of those drums (ten minute drum solo on "In the Name of Tragedy"). The solos were fast and wicked, with all of the hits represented from the band's career. Really though, I only wanted to hear three songs: "Ace of Spades" (naturally), "Overkill," and "Stay Clean." Heard it, heard it, heard it. Like most older bands they new better than to play very much new stuff (though the one thing they played off the new record MOTORIZER wasn't half bad, though it's main riff was very similar to "Ace of Spades").

I was a little surprised at how political the whole show was. Valient Thorr dedicated a song to the men and women fighting in Iraq (it was pretty anti-war). Motohead also brought up politics when Lemmy reminded all of us to vote before playing "Just 'Cos You Got the Power." It was interesting seeing people as goofy/strange as these metal freaks get so serious (about something other than rockin').

Anyway, I proclaim it to be the BEST show this WEEK, MONTH, and YEAR! And you missed it...what a shame.


Show# 2 was tonight (again at The Pageant). This time Leah went with me. We saw Vampire Weekend, and the worst band EVER called White Williams. Seriously, screw you White Williams you are a terrible, terrible band. When your lead singer "plays" a laptop/synthesizer you are a lame, lame band. When you drummer STANDS THE ENTIRE SET...you are a lame, lame, lame band. No one clapped when they finished their crappy "rave" style "grooves" or whatever. I booed them once (drunkenly). Leah stood with her back to them. They were awful.

Vampire Weekend was much better. They sounded exactly like they do on the album, which is always a nice surprise (especially in this day and age of ProTools and what-not). They're a great, tight little band, and I enjoyed watching them play. BUT, like The Strokes when I saw them, they only have one album's worth of material.

One album+concert=short @$$ show. They did come back out and play one last song...but if we'd held a gun to their heads and demanded a second they'd be dead. They had nothing. They played everything off of their debut record, which was cool because we got to hear all the songs we love...but it made for a short evening. We were done by 10:05. The show started at 8:00. White Williams killed (literally) an hour prior to them taking the stage, so they played their whole first-and-only record plus two or three new songs (all good) in about an hour.

Say it with me: short ass show.

And they didn't do what I thought they'd do and play "A-Punk," their most popular song, last (which is what Motorhead did with "Ace of Spades"). The last song they did was "Walcott" ("Get out of Cape Cod/Outta Cape Cod TONIGHT!!!"). I was surprised to see people react as strongly as they did to "Oxford Comma" (my personal favorite song on of theirs). And I was enlightened to learn that "M79" is about a bus.

It was a good, tame...tame...tame show (compared to the Metal Maddness of last night). Tame is good though, especially when I have Leah with me. I mention the tame-ness of this show only becuase the whole time I was there I was a little sad. You see, my Mom and little sister love Vampire Weekend. I burned the album for them, and they listen to it in the car. When the tickets went on sale, I told them to check and see if they were playing in KC. They were (tomorrow night). My Mom bought tickets, but they ended up giving them up, partly I believe bceause my Dad was worried about them going alone.

It was a good show, and it makes me sad they couldn't go.

Anyway, it's been a busy concert-going week for me. I have another show on Saturday, but I'm worried because it's outside (I have lawn tickets...yuk) and it's supposed to rain cats and dogs all weekend out here. It's a shame too, because I really want to see Heart and Cheap Trick (the fake Journey that's headlining I can take or leave, to be honest). We'll see if that show gets postponed or not. God knows I'll go, even if it's raining...I've done it before.

Living Through Another Cuba...

I was born in 1983, the tail-end of the "Cold War." Because of my youth, I grew up in a Soviet-free world. A world where the United States of America is the top-dog with few enemies of equal size and power. As I grow older, I see my country deteriorating. It's sad, but I'm confident that by the time I'm dead (hopefully at a ripe old age)--this country will no longer be number one.

Maybe number two if we're lucky. But definitely in the top three "most powerful" nations. Call me an optimist.

They say that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it--well guess what, we're all fucking morons because it's happening again. The "Cold War" is starting up all over again. Last month our old frienemies, the Russians, invaded Georgia. I'm not sure you follow international news/politics, but I try to keep up with the goings on in the world as best I can. Putin has been a scary guy for years, ironically enough he's scarier now that he's no longer running Russia. That guy is still pulling the strings, and he's has one goal: return Russia to it's former glory. It's former Soviet glory.

I'm not sure if we're going to see Communism return to Russia (I dobut it), but I do know that the "good old days" of Red/White/Blue vs. Red are returning. I just read an article on Reuters about Venezuela hosting the Russian Navy in some naval exercises...in the Caribbean later this year. What does that remind you of???

*cough* Cuban Missle Crisis *cough*

I'm not saying it's THAT bad...but I see the writing on the wall. The days where America only had to fear camel-riding fundamentalists are pretty much over. Now we have China to deal with (who I bet will be the number one, most powerful nation on Earth when I sadly pass away a few decades from now). We have Russia to worry about.

I grew up without the fear of the "Reds." Until 9/11 (which I'll talk about later this week), I lived without the fear of some horrible, vicious attack hanging over my head.

It was nice.

Sadly, I don't think this is going to be the case for my children. Or my children's children.

An excerpt from XTC's song, "Living Through Another Cuba":

Living through another Cuba
it's 1961 again and we are piggy in the middle
while war is polishing his drum and peace plays second fiddle
Russia and America are at each other's throats
but don't you cry
just on your knees and pray, and while you're
down there, kiss your arse goodbye

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Don't Ask...

Found this fork in the backseat of my car today...



I forgot all about it being back there. There is a really lame story behind this fork, but I'm afraid I can't really remember it.



Little help here???

Monday, September 08, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

Yesterday, while at the mall, I picked up the latest issue of Rolling Stone. This month was the "comedy" issue--all about how great comedy is becoming again. Never mind that SNL still sucks, for some reason the good folks at Rolling Stone thinks that things are getting BETTER in the comedy world.

Whatever.

Anyway, on page 43 they have an article about whether or not the "joke" is dead. I have no idea, maybe it is...in fact, after seeing the last few episodes of every sit-com for the past 7 years...YES, the fucking joke is dead.

This article about the joke (possibly) being dead made the argument that the "joke" as we know it is dead, and it's been replaced by irony and awkward/uncomfortable humor. One of the things they site is a website called "Garfield Minus Garfield." I'd never heard of it, but apparently there is a dude who digitally removes Garfield from the popular, long-running strip. Why is this funny? Because it makes John look fucking insane.

Example:



Here is the site's strange mission-statement:

Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

When I was a kid, I liked Garfield. I'm not proud of that, but damn it...I'll admit it. But then puberty hit and I saw Garfield for what it is: a lame, over-commercialized piece of pop culture shit. Garfield is trash compared to The Far Side. It's trash compared to Calvin & Hobbs.

But not Garfield Minus Garfield. It's pure genius. Go take a look, I promise--you will laugh.

One more for the road:

Sunday, September 07, 2008

OMG, I want this for X-Mas--Monkey Picked Tea

Please Santa, this is what I want for X-Mas:

Me and Leah like to listen to pseudo-indie director Kevin Smith's podcast (which is awesome). Anyway, this podcast is sponsored by ThinkGeek.com which is this awesome nerd/geek website--they have a shirt that glows according to the strength of the wi-fi signal in the room you're in (awesome).

Anyway they also have this monkey-picked tea. I like tea. I like monkeys. I must have this product.

In fact, without having even tasted this tea, I'm going to go on record and say that this awesome, monkey-picked tea is the "official tea of choice for Thoughts of a Limemonkey."

I showed this to Leah and she was like "Eww...that's dirty." Which is weird because she's the real big animal person, not me. I expected her to be all over this. Oh well, that just means that there will be more monkey-picked tea for me to drink and enjoy!!!

A million hugs to the first person who buys this for me...please.

Everyone's "blogging" About It & My Busy Concert-going Week

Well I've had an interesting couple of days. This past weekend has been a lot fun. As I mentioned earlier in the week, I planned on hanging out with my old college buddies Paul and Katie. Well Leah went out the night before, and it made me sad. So, rather than do the same thing to her--I included her in our reindeer games.

Much fun was had. Rather than write about it though, I'd just recommend you read Katie's most recent blog post--where you can get a synopsis of all the relevant stuff that went down.

Speaking of other people's blogs (I try to mention other people as much as possible, because I get a kick whenever I'm mentioned on another blog), Leah has a really thought-provoking blog about changing her name. You should go check it out.

Can you believe that I'm going to be married in like two weeks? Yikes. Me neither. Anyway, I'd never really thought too much about her changing her name, but her post really made me think.

What else is going on? Oh. Last night me and Leah went and saw THE DARK CRYSTAL down at the Tivoli. I'd never seen it before (Leah had, she was real excited). It's this strange 80's Jim Henson/Frank Oz fantasy movie. Lots of crazy puppets. To be honest, I didn't think the story was all that great (a bit derivative, like most fantasy--I'm sorry to say) but the production values were amazing. Henson and company did a fantastic job creating a living-breathing world with their puppets. Critters great and small scurry, crawl, and ooze all over the place. It was truly amazing considering it blew away 99.99% of similar fantasy/sci-fi flicks made in the past few years WITH CGI.

That's about it. I'm working on my writing, I'd say more but I only dissapoint everyone when I say too much about that (how is that book going???). This, my last full week before the wedding (and more importantly ROCK BAND 2 drop) is jam-packed with awesomeness. Tuesday I'm going to see heavy-metal icons Motorhead. Wednesday I'm going with Leah to see Vampire Weekend (great new band, those lads). Friday night I want to see GRINDHOUSE at the midnight Tivoli movie. And Saturday I'm attending yet another concert: Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick.

Exciting stuff. Hopefully my head won't explode. Anyone wishing to see GRINDHOUSE should contact me, as I think it would be fun to go with a bunch of people to see that.

That is all.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Welcome to the first post in what I hope to be a regular feature here at THOUGHTS OF A LIMEMONKEY. I love old music and reviewing new releases...so I've decided to combine these into Classic Albums Revisited. But then I thought, "Wait a second, why not do a little more?" So I've decided on a format that's more essay than ROLLING STONE review. Every picture tells a thousand words, and behind every great record is an ever greater story--so I'm going to throw in some history and my own personal experiences.

Most people that know me would probably expect SGT. PEPPER or REVOLVER or *insert-other-Beatles-record-here* to be my first choice for Classic Albums Revisited (CAR). Well we LIMEMONKEY's like to throw a curve-ball every now and then. So, without further ado...let's talk about DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP.

The second album that Australian rockers AC/DC recorded, DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP has an unusual release history. In this modern age of iTUNES and instantaneous/simultaneous global releases it sometimes shocks people to learn just how fucked up some band's catalogs are. The best examples are The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. For whatever reason, there a huge differences in album art, album titles, track listing, etc. on much of the these band's output. This issue often creates a problem for international fans who invariably ask "which is the official or canonical for this band?" Oddly enough the Beatles and Stones are (like in most cases) polar opposites. For The Beatles, the British releases are considered the "true" or "real" catalog. Thus, in the 1980's when their records were converted over to CD the American public was...confused when the British LP's were released on CD. Meanwhile, The Rolling Stones choose to have the American release act as their "official" cannon.

Whatever.

What does any of this have to do with AC/DC? Well, if you live in Australia or Europe DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP was the band's second album, and it came out in 1979. If you lived in America it came out in 1981 after the massively successful BACK IN BLACK record. This might seem like a little detail, but if you're living in America and AC/DC puts out BACK IN BLACK as a tribute to their fallen lead singer, Bon Scott, with new vocalist Brian Johnson and a year later Scott returns on a "new" record...you might wonder what the hell is going on.

The delay in the album's release in America is all about taste. The good folks over at Atlantic records didn't get, probably couldn't get, songs like "Squealer" or "Big Balls." What they could 'get' was the piles of money the band made after Johnson's death when BACK IN BLACK hit #4 on the US record charts. What's amazing, however, is the success of DIRTY DEEDS. It went on to reach #3 here in the US, making it the highest charting AC/DC album.

This of course just goes to show you that the suits at the top have no idea what the hell they are doing.

I first heard AC/DC growing up listening to classic rock radio with my parents. I never really noticed a difference between Brian Johnson and Bon Scott. As an older, more critical listener I can separate the two (Scott having a slightly higher register than Johnson). Many consider Johnson to be an imitation of Scott, but I don't think that's very fair. However, as a music geek/nerd I have to love the original line-up more.

Growing up, I only knew one person in the whole world that liked AC/DC, a kid named Josh that lived over on the next street. I remember him showing me his CD collection before class in 8th grade. Our teacher was one of the younger teachers at our school, she happened to be walking by when he was showing me his collection:

"Oh, AC/DC...they were popular when I was in High School. I can't believe people still listen to them."

She had a nasty, slightly disgusted look on her face. Like we were looking at a Playboy instead of a stack of shiny plastic discs. I can't really say I blame her, there is something inherently...dirty about AC/DC. Oh sure, they sing about the usual sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll...but that's not quite what makes them seem so...'brown bag.' For me, and I suspect lots of people, AC/DC is a bit of 'brown bag' bag. You know, the sort of thing you buy looking down at your shoes. The sort of thing you stuff under your mattress.

The album's title track, "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is one of the most cinematic rock songs I've ever heard. Every time I hear this song, a roaring advertisement for a dubious, back-alley problem solving service, I can see the vicious High School principal. I can see the cheating boyfriend who needs his ass kicked. The bitchy woman that needs to be put in her place. All of these people harass us throughout our lives-- how often have we wished for a tough-talking wise guy to appear and magically "solve" these walking-problems by kicking some ass? The only thing better is: this service is surprisingly affordable (dirt cheap).

"Big Balls." I'm sure there are a few of you reading this that have never heard this song. And I bet just by reading the title you have a pretty good idea what this song sounds like. Right??? Wrong. Oh sure, AC/DC could have gone all low-brow and written a song about how big their balls are. They could have, but they didn't. Instead, these (seemingly) dunder-headed rockers form Down Under have crafted a shockingly up-scale double entendre. A song that's both rockin' and 10X funnier than any Weird Al song.

My favorite part:

"Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they're held for pleasure
They're the balls that I like best
"

The Chuck Berry-esque "Rocker" is an awesome, breathless song that clocks in at only 2:52 but manages to perfectly encapsulate everything about rock music. That this track is so perfect (and yep almost haphazardly dashed-off) is surprising...but not as surprising as "Ride On." Think about AC/DC and what do you think of? Loud. Balls-to-the-walls rock, right? "Ride On" is a quiet, introspective cowboy song. It's my favorite track because of the vulnerability in Bon Scott's voice, the regret and yes...heartache in his soul. At five minutes, it's too long for radio-play (and was thus, never released as a single) but in my book ranks as one of the greatest rock ballads of all time. The guitar solo starts at 3:40 and goes all the way to 4:47. It's not a complex or blistering solo, but like great bluesman of the past, Angus Young astounds by somehow conveying real human emotion through thin steel stings.

It's an amazing, beautiful moment and it's on an AC/DC record.

The original Australian Artwork:



A classic album, by a great band, DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRTY CHEAP is awesome.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hurrican Leftovers, Nicotine, Novel Reading/Writing, etc.

Today the remnants of hurricane Gustav blew through STL-land, making my morning wet and dreary. It's always a bad sign when you're wetter from the walk to your car than you are from your morning shower. We had to break down at work and buy the dock workers ponchos, lest they bitch and complain too much. The ceiling was a little leaky, but thankfully the roof held out over all our computer equipment (this time).

Now, if I could only locate the source of that "dead animal" smell...

What else? I had a MAJOR fucking nicotine fit today. I think it's the stress, I dunno. I was literally on my way to buy a pack of cigarettes when Leah called me and told me she was home. Leah went out with her friends...drinking and what-not. It kinda pissed me off because we haven't really seen each other in...oh, a week. I thought she'd be home earlier than she eventually got back, and I must admit, I hate sitting around waiting for people.

Oh well, I probably wouldn't have done anything tonight anyway. I'm really pissed at myself about all the time I waste. I get off of work and the first thing I do is eat (I don't eat at work). Then I do NOTHING. I'm sick of that. I feel like I'm wasting my life. Work, dinner, bed. That's about all I do. I was supposed to work on some writing stuff, but instead I hung out with my friend Jake down at the Loop (where he works in a hat store, hence the new hat).

I'm reading a really good book, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY by Michael Chabon. That's about it. Looking forward to seeing my friends Paul and Katie tomorrow night (which is ironic, because I was PO'd about Leah leaving me home alone tonight...what can I say, I'm a hypocrite). Such a fucking hypocrite.

*sigh*

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Yep.

BABY

That Lucky Old Sun



One of the ultimate "boys of summer," Brian Wilson has released a new album in the waning days of Summer 2008.

I know...I couldn't believe it either.

THAT LUCKY OLD SUN is a a loving tribute to sun, surf, sand, and of course California. Lots and lots of California. The album is a song-cycle that seems to tell the sun's perspective of a (not so) typical day in California. To say that this record isn't super-sickly sweet would be a lie. If you have a black heart, this ain't for you. But if like me, you sometimes find yourself missing the Beach Boys then you need to check THAT LUCKY OLD SUN.

A concept album. Shiny, shimmering pop. A spoken word/story. THAT LUCKY OLD SUN is all of these things. Backed up once again by The Wondermints, an aging Brian Wilson (still every bit a "Boy") proves that youth truly is a state of mind. Though his voice is a bit quivery on some of the spoken-word interludes, Wilson's voice is strong and clear when he sings. Lyrically the album is exactly what you'd expect--a mixture of playful (dare I say, simple?) rhyme/alleteration and deeply profound poetry.

Favorite part of the record: Wilson re-ignites the legendary Beach Boys/Beatles war on "Live Let Live" where he argues (naturally) the poplar opposite of Macca's classic James Bond-theme "Live and Let Die." I also liked "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl" where Wilson anwsers his younger self ("Sufer Girl") and confirms that, yes you never really do forget your first love (no matter how old you get).

There's lush, complex harmonies (just like you'd expect). There's a lot of pretty piano (just like you'd expect). I honestly was not expecting to like this record. I bought it for $5.00 on impulse...and yet, like the true master that he was/is--Wilson's still got it.

THAT LUCKY OLD SUN is an epic masterpiece--a gorgeous ode to youth, love, the sun...and California. The only thing that dissapointed me were the bonus tracks. There's three extra tracks that are duets with Carole King and they're pretty underwhealming. Of the three, "I'm Into Something Good" is the one worthy of being on the disc. That said, they're "extras" so I guess I can't really nit-pick them too much.

Jason gives THAT LUCKY OLD SUN an "A+"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What a shitty day...

Ugh. I made a BIG mistake today...I woke up.

Everything after that was crap. I have no one else to blame. It's all my fault. Me, myself, I...Jason. The long weekend didn't help. Three days off, away from all the crap I'm usually percolating in, and I made the mistake of feeling human again. Silly me, I'm not a person...I'm a fucking shit-catcher. I catch-shit. That's why God put me here.

*Grumble*

I fucking hate that people actually read this...I'd like to go on a rant about a few things, but even this blog (a place where I am supposed to be able to vent/express myself) has been hijacked. It's all a bit too much for me. Sometimes I fantasize about running away from it all.

A few weeks ago, I had an amazing dream. It was one of those dreams where all kinds of crazy time passes (even though it's just one night). Have you ever had one of those? It was great. I ran away (we won't go into the nitty-gritty details). But here's the rub: I actually got away!!! The bulk of the dream wasn't the act of running away, but the alternative to my current situation that I FLED to. It was great. My boss wasn't a relative. No one had any expectations of me (too high or too low). I didn't have to deal with psychos trying to run me over. I didn't have any money, but I wasn't pressured to have any...so it was cool.

No parents/wife to disappoint. No sisters to piss-off.

It was fucking great. Then I woke up. At first, I didn't know where I was. I started to freak out...what the hell happened??? Where is my paradise??? Oh. It was all a dream. Great.

*grumble*

How the fuck did I let everything get so out of hand? I don't know. God I want a cigarette. I'm not going to give into that impulse, though. It'll just cause me to catch more shit (which I sure as hell don't need). Plus I had one last week, and all it did was make me feel sick/worse.

I'm supposed to be working on my writing, but instead I'm drinking a Fosters and trying to figure out what the hell happened to my life. When did it turn to shit? I think my biggest mistake was my current job. Never should have taken it. Beyond that...who can say? I think the second biggest mistake I made was picking English as a major. Followed by graduating college. Followed by having the pathetic dream of writing. Followed by this blog. Followed by breaking up with my first girlfriend Sheri in like third grade. Followed by sneaking a peek at that NES my parents bought me back in 1989. From there, my memory is fuzzy...but let it be known: there were mistakes made.

Now, Leah's going to read this and be pissed. Mom and Dad are going to read this and be pissed. Brenda's going to read this and be pissed. Amber's going to hear about this from my Mom (she don't read this) and be pissed. Godzilla is going to read this and be pissed.

Fine.

Be pissed. I'm pissed. What the fuck people?! I catch SHIT all day. What am I supposed to do? Smile and like it? I don't even know why I'm here, catching all this shit, and yet I keep doing it. Day after day. I mean, I know this rant is starting to get "out of hand" but it's true. I have painted myself into a nice, neat little corner and now I'm freaking out.

My Dad bitching about 2012/End of the World. My little sister has boobs. BOOBS!

I'm freaking out. I'm freaking out man...FREAKING OUT!!!

There's a black dude, a woman, and a geriatric running for the White House. Freak out!!!

Gas is killing me. Freak out!!!

The economy. Freak out!!!

Jobs. Freak out!!!

The. Freak out!!!

A. Freak out!!!

What the hell was this blog post about anyway? I can't even remember anymore. Oh yeah, all the catching of shit that is going on (by me). What more can I say people? I'm at my wits end. I'm running out of ideas, steam, cash, time, etc.

Life is good.


UPDATE: You know, the more I think about it...the more I think the above might seem a bit whiny. It might also seem like I'm blaming everyone else for my problems. Let me just say: I realize that ALL of my complaints/problems are 100% my own fault. The only person to blame is me.

That's probably the REAL reason I'm so pissed. I'm mad at myself.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back in STL, and very tired

After a long holiday weekend, I'm back home in St. Louis.



I am so tired. Too tired to blog.