Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tackling Schwarzenegger

I'm putting together a fresh Top 5 for my good friends over at RVA Magazine, and this time I'll be sizing up Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies.  I'm truly surprised I haven't done this one before, and it promises to be difficult.  I know what the top two are, but I'm not sure about the order, and beyond that it's just going to be brutal.  I love Arnold and I've grown up watching his movies.  I'm super-stoked to see he and Sly join forces once again in The Expendables 3, a picture I'll also be reviewing for RVA Magazine when it opens in a couple of weeks.  Few things about the current state of cinema thrill me as much as seeing the big guns from my childhood working together like they have been as of late.  There are also some other Top 5s that may figure into this equation being discussed.  Maybe Mel, maybe tough-guy ensemble pictures.  Maybe both, who knows?  Anyway, I'll share links to the articles here and keep you posted.

In other words, . . . I'll be back.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I fell in love with Slayer in the 90s, so Seasons in the Abyss was my favorite album until God Hates Us All unleashed hell in 2001.  Anyway, I've always favored the newer stuff, and while I never disliked the older stuff, I didn't really spend an awful lot of time with it either.  Until recently.  I'm working on a new horror novel and I've been listening to a lot of Slayer while I work.  For whatever reason, it started with Hell Awaits, which I had never really listened to at all, leading to a greater appreciation of Reign in Blood.  Finally, it has brought me to South of Heaven, and I finally see what all the fuss is about.  I've always thought that South of Heaven was good, but I wasn't as keen on it as many of the band's fans are.  I'm still probably going to have to choose between Seasons in the Abyss and God Hates Us All when it's time to pick my favorite, but whereas I didn't fully grasp the South of Heaven camp's argument until recently, I totally get it it now. 

Parting shot: if you didn't already know this, when it comes to heavy metal there is Slayer and then there's everybody else.  That's just the way it is.  You don't have to like it, but it's indisputable.  Slayer is to metal what the Beatles were to classic rock.  True story.

O.K. by Paul West

I just finished O.K. by Paul West, labelled an account of "the corral, the Earps, and Doc Holliday," and in truth it is all of those things, though the emphasis here clearly rests upon the latter.  This is Doc's story, told from Doc's point of view, and it centers on a complex and vastly misunderstood man's efforts to define himself.  Is he a dentist, a gentleman, a gambler, a gunslinger, or an agent of the law?  Is he all of the above?  In West's unique take on the man, no one knows, least of all Doc--at least the Doc whose mind West attempts to crawl inside.  Of course, whether or not his take on the notorious figure is accurate or not is debatable, but there is a sense that the author may have latched onto something authentic.  I found his efforts to flesh out this iconic gunmen to be both moving and inspiring, and I applaud his work here.

The prose is poetic and roams throughout the book, carrying us through the details of Doc's life, savoring some of his most memorable moments while treating others like minor details (or essentially ignoring them) in lieu of further detailing Doc's raging eternal debate.  It's rich stuff; Doc questions religion, loyalty, integrity, sex, and death, all in great detail, and West is happy to take us into the furthest reaches of a quizzical killer's mind as these themes are explored. 

West has done his homework, yet there are inaccuracies here, and honestly I don't think that a wholly accurate representation of the man was nearly as intriguing to the author as a chance to unravel the mysteries of Holliday's mind.  At best, this endeavor largely consists of guesswork, and as such, those looking for a scholarly take on the material will not be pleased.  Additionally, the very approach will put many off.  I must confess that I loathed West's work initially, though his writing soon wormed its way into my heart.  In the end, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to those who can approach the tale with an open mind.  In the final two pages alone, I was inspired to laugh out loud before West nearly brought me to tears.

Bonus points: two of my favorite lines, both of which I decided to tweet, were contained within the same paragraph.

"I am climbing socially, I guess, downward.  From dentist to assassin.  Not bad."

"Ike Clanton was always looking for everybody until he found them, and then he lost interest."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Picking the Right Vodka

1) Go to the liquor store.  Moonshine can be purchased from random people on the street.  The same can not be said of Vodka.

2) I am not picky.  Buy some shit that costs as much as a camping trip if you like, I'm going to spend $20 or less.  More like $13, honestly.

3) The vodka needs to be either 100 proof or 80 proof.  Truthfully, 80 proof is like settling for a field goal.  70 proof is a punt, anything less than that is a turnover.

4) The vodka needs to be on sale.  I repeat: I am not picky.  Having said that, I prefer something in a glass bottle and there will be some nifty sales.  If there are no sales, you are in the wrong liquor store.  Recalculate.

5) Avoid anything with any kind of flavor.  If there are fruits and berries on the bottle, it is not really vodka.  Vodka isn't supposed to taste like raspberries.  If you are looking for something that tastes like raspberries, I recommend that you start with raspberries.  Also: do not put any of your raspberries in my vodka.

6) Purchase vodka.  Go home.  Mix screwdriver.  Screwdriver should be composed of 3 parts orange juice and 2 parts vodka.  If you are working with a different recipe, you are making a Screwdriver Lite.  If that's the way you're living, you might as well throw some raspberries in the cup.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I watched Sabotage last night and I enjoyed it as much as one can enjoy such a dark piece.  It wasn't your typical Schwarzenegger thrill ride, that's for sure.  This one was seriously grim at times; the good guys were seldom that good, though the bad guys were surely that bad.  It was fast-paced, complex, and it was centered by a solid performance from Arnold, who seemed to be summoning Clint Eastwood.  There was definitely a western vibe to the picture and there were enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing.  Sabotage is a difficult watch in many ways, but it was highly-entertaining, with a game cast and a dark heart to go along with an abundance of violence and profanity. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Raid 2

I finally got to sit down with The Raid 2 last night and I was totally floored.  I loved the first one, which was sort of a John Carpenter meets Bruce Lee extravaganza--lean, mean, and boosted by some of the best martial arts choreography I had ever seen.  I was looking for more of that from the sequel and that's what exactly I got, but I also got a whole lot more.  This movie had all the action and excitement I was hoping for, somehow upping the ante.  There were massive fights, stellar opponents, and a showstopping car chase that has to be seen to be believed.  Additionally, there was a storyline that seemed like The Departed by way of Tarantino.

Now, at 150 minutes, it is possible that the movie lingered a bit too long in certain spots.  I'm not really willing to say that there was anything extraneous inserted into the mix, because I loved the way the story unfolded and the style in which Gareth Evans presented all the intrigue and all the gory delights along the way.  I surely wouldn't want to trim those magnificent fight scenes, and yet I was a bit fatigued at times, so maybe there's such a thing as trying to squeeze too much awesome into a single movie. 

Having said that, if your biggest criticism of any movie is that the filmmakers may have inserted too much awesome into the proceedings, I guess that's not so bad after all.  Iko Uwais once again nailed it as Rama, proving that he has the skill and the charisma to be the next big martial arts star.  He may be light years away from the one and only Bruce Lee's physique and raw ability, but he is 100% badass and he doesn't play when it's time to throw down.  My father and I always marveled at the way Bruce would thoroughly dismantle his opposition--he had a mean streak in combat.  It was a stark contrast to other martial arts stars like Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan, who fought like, well, good guys.  When a villain came to blows with the master, he didn't just got knocked out, Bruce pulverized those bastards.  More so than anyone to hit the scene since, Uwais shares that mentality, physically dismantling his adversaries in gory fight scenes that are shot and choreographed to perfection.

Yet my favorite aspect of the picture may have been the return of Yayan Ruhian, the first Raid's villain, who was given an arc that made his character seem like a good guy of sorts in this sequel.  While his Prakoso and Rama never crossed paths this time out, he still delivered one of the picture's finest confrontations, and he was a joy to watch whenever he was on screen.  

I also have to call attention to Julie Estelle (Hammer Girl) and Veri Tru Yulisman (Baseball Man) for their unique roles and combat styles.  Their names make what they do self-explanatory, but they really do it with style.  They go toe-to-toe with Rama in one of the best fight scenes of all time, and the conclusion to this epic showdown is one of the most glorious and brutal things you'll ever see in an action movie.  Seriously, it's a home run.

The plot requires Rama to go undercover to bring down a criminal syndicate, and when I say dude goes undercover, I mean dude goes seriously, seriously undercover.  If your cover requires you to pull 2 years in the pen and break every law in the book once you get out, I think you're devoted to the cause and then some.  Rama is essentially off the grid as a policeman in The Raid 2, allowing him to do whatever is necessary to take down the bevy of crooked cops and various villains who are vying for power.  What really pulls all this together is the time that Evans devotes to the portions of the movie when someone isn't getting their ass kicked as well as the rich character development.  There are at least five bosses or underlings of some stature in the mix, to include those in charge and those like Arifin Putra (who has acting chops like Iko has karate chops) as Uco, for whom nothing matters save the bloodthirsty pursuit of power.  Evans is a gifted director, proving every bit as innovative and skilled at creating atmosphere and intrigue as the story unfolds as he is at showcasing brutality when the good guys and bad guys (or the bad guys and the other bad guys) square off. 

In closing, The Raid was a kickass action movie of the highest order.  The sequel delivers the goods on that front, and despite a lengthy running time that may wear you out, it also boasts a riveting storyline.  It is enhanced by a number of remarkable performances to go along with all the bone-crunching fight scenes and gruesome demises.  The Raid 2 is as gory as any horror movie, as exciting as any good kung-fu flick, and as gripping as any worthwhile crime story.  That's a tall order, and even if it does threaten to overstay its welcome, I have to say that this follow-up is a smashing success.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Just Another Day in the Life . . .

Sat up until 3:00 a.m. working on my new book and editing an old video project that I'm finally committed to bringing to life--it's a long story.  Anyway, I had a nice workflow going: I would tweak my video as needed and while I waited for the adjustments to render I would bring up Word and type like a madman.  I had a blast with it; I love editing, which I've always considered phase two of directing, and I'm really enjoying the new book that I'm working on.  Last night I wrote the first big bloody horror scene of the book, and those segments are always a lot of fun to work with. 

Then I got up this morning and made pancakes for the fam, and now it's time to do it all over again.  I think an artist is at their best when they're truly enjoying what they're doing.  I hope that's the case, anyway, because I had a great time yesterday and I'm looking forward to another day in the life today.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seahawks Fever

Last night, my beloved Seahawks brought home two well-deserved ESPYs: one for the fiery Richard Sherman and one for the team itself.  Sherman taking home the Breakthrough Athlete award seemed like a no-brainer.  This dude has gone from being a guy scouts regarded as a potential back-up to a Super Bowl Champion who nabbed the cover of the upcoming edition of Madden.  His stellar play and his brash antics have made him a household name, hated by many and loved by the rest.  The club itself scoring Best Team honors was more of a surprise, though they did clobber an offense labelled the best of all time by many in the Super Bowl.  Also: it was a fan vote.  As you already know, the 12th Man is loud and proud.

It was nice to see these honors bestowed upon Seattle, a franchise that has labored in obscurity in the Pacific Northwest for much of its existence.  Upon catapulting themselves to the top of the charts with an epic beatdown of the Broncos in the Super Bowl, the hate has been overwhelming.  Look for any positive article about the team online and the comments sections will be overflowing with animosity directed toward #25 and the bandwagon fans. 

Yes, Sherm can be obnoxious, but I think the same thing every time I see some numbskull making a passionate case for why he's not the best cornerback in the league: if you're a professional athlete and there are multitudes of people expending lots of time and energy talking about why you're NOT the best at what you do, well, you're probably the best at what you do.  That's how it works.  His stats speak for themselves and he has been doing it for a few years now.  Quarterbacks have started to shy away from him, but his video game production has remained consistent.  The same could be said for his chippy demeanor and his bravado.

The bandwagon thing is equally silly; yes, every championship team in this day and age garners bandwagon fans, but people want to act like Seattle has never been known for having a rabid fanbase.  Wind the clock back 30 years and the Kingdome was known as one of the loudest stadiums in professional sports, and that's back when the team could only manage to occasionally flirt with anything other than mediocrity.  There were some downright painful years, to include wasting the immortal Cortez Kennedy on a team saddled with one of the most pathetic offenses ever to take the field.  Yet the fans were there, and there wer people like me cheering them on from the other side of the country.  Take the bandwagon noise and shove it.

Things have changed.  The fanbase was always there, but aside from Steve Largent and his glorious hands, there was little to celebrate.  Now Big Tez and Walter Jones have joined Steve in the Hall of Fame and the Super Bowl champions reside in the Pacific Northwest.  Last night, the champs ruled over the ESPYs and the stage is set for another run at greatness in 2014.  The team has a young roster filled with budding stars, many of whom have been inked to long-term deals.  We have a quarterback on the cusp of greatness, a beast at running back, a receiving corp that is anything but pedestrian, and a defense that made Peyton Manning look totally inept in the biggest game of his career.  It's a great time to be a 12 and it should remain that way for a while.

As Russell Wilson says at the end of every press conference or interview he participates in, "Go Hawks!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Melinda Ain't Playing

The fam enjoyed BBQ sandwiches for dinner tonight and I spiced mine up with a new hot sauce: Melinda's XXXXtra Reserve, a Habanero pepper sauce.  The verdict: it's a nice hot sauce.  It didn't blow my head off by any means, but it definitely brought a bit of heat to the table.  Most importantly, it had a really nice flavor to it.  I dig the hot and spicy stuff, but I'm always interested in a nice blend of heat and flavor.  This might be one of the better balancing acts that I've encountered.  For those who are also looking to liven a dish up without needlessly setting their taste buds on fire, I'm going to recommend this one. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thor is a Woman and the Comic Industry's Love for Publicity Stunts

If you haven't heard yet, Thor is set to become a woman.  No, he's not getting a sex-change, though I imagine it's only a matter of time before Marvel or DC does something like that with one of their signature characters.  Someone else (someone with a vagina) is going to take the hammer and replace the Thor many of us know and love.  I suppose this makes perfect sense; the character has only thrilled millions upon millions of readers (and cinema patrons) since 1962.  This comes after recent reports that we're also going to see a new Captain America shortly, with the odds-on favorite to wear the shield being Falcon.  A female Thor is a definite, a black Captain America is likely.


Look, I don't care what color a comic book character is, nor do I care about the character's gender.  Yet as a Spider-Man fan, I can assure those of you who aren't keen on comics that shit like this is the medium's biggest flaw.  Spider-Man and Batman have probably suffered more than most in this regard, though Superman has also been a frequent victim of the industry's love affair with publicity stunts.  Sometimes it's just about shaking things up dramatically and sometimes I think they really do things just to piss fans off, knowing the ensuing uproar will make enough noise to translate into sales to curious parties who just want to know what all the fuss is about.  Give me another logical explanation for the the Clone Saga, perhaps the most wretched of all these affairs, or that "One More Day" nonsense--which seemed to be engineered solely for the purpose of taking a shot at doing something fans would loathe more than the Clone Saga.

Look, it sells, and I get that, and when you're as big as Marvel or DC, there will always be new readers--so who cares if you turn the old readers off?  Yet comic fans are loyal, spending entirely too much money on their hobby.  Believe me, I know what I'm talking about here.  We are passionate about comics and we have absurd hypothetical discussions about them on a regular basis.  If you don't believe me, ask a Batman fan how the caped crusader would fare in a fight against another comic book character.  Hell, ask them how he would fare in throwdown with God himself and they're going to tell you that with enough planning and the right strategy and equipment Bats would win.

I guess that's why I hate the publicity stunt nonsense so much.  It sells, it's good for business in that sense, and the effects are usually only temporary, but it's like a thumb in the eye to the fans who pay the company's bills.  Dude with a thousand Thor comics and a tattoo of Odin's favorite son on his bicep doesn't want his boy to get replaced by a girl.  Batman's biggest fan doesn't want to read about Bats getting his back snapped like a twig by some second-tier villain dressed like a luchador.  Superman fans don't want to attend his funeral after he gets killed by The Thing's cousin, and Spider-Man fans don't want to learn that the webhead is a clone or see everything they love about the character erased in a deal with the devil.  I'm sure it would be the same if it was the other way around.  Luke Cage passing on his powers to a white accountant named Stanley wouldn't go over all that well with Power Man fanboys, and I doubt She-Hulk readers want to see her replaced by yet another male Hulk.  Maybe a purple one this time.

Think about it: Stephen King could make a fortune if he announced that he was going to write a book where Roland, his beloved gunslinger, died in a car accident.  The publicity would be staggering and the outcry from the fans would only add fuel to the fire.  It would make money, but he wouldn't do that, not in a million years, not unless it happened organically while he was writing a book.  CBS isn't going to replace Pat Sajak with a black guy tomorrow just to get a bump in ratings.  Your favorite sports team isn't going to trade your favorite player tomorrow just to get a little buzz.  The View isn't going to swap Whoopi Goldberg out for Chris Rock next week for a few headlines.  Why?  That isn't how you treat your fanbase, that's why.  Yes, there's money to be made and publicity to be gained, at least in the short term, but there's something to be said for delivering a consistent product to your fanbase--a product that they support and encourage, no less.

I love comics.  The medium has a lot to offer and I treasure the way it requires such collaboration and puts so many different talents on display.  I just can't stand the industry's addiction to constantly shaking shit up just to shake shit up and sell a few more copies in the now.  99% of the time, that's all this boils down to.  Superman rose from the grave, Batman healed, Spider-Man isn't a clone*,and I bet we'll have both the Thor and the Captain America we know and love back shortly.  The issues that caused so much fuss when these sweeping changes were made will become dollar bin fodder and the casual readers who tuned in to see why the long-term fans weren't following their favorite characters anymore will have moved on to something else. 

Like I said before: Yawn.  Call me when it's over.  Also: I'll pass on the special debut issues for these developments, even if they have foil covers or come with 72 amazing variants.  Sometimes the variants are mere sketches.  Sometimes they are blank covers.  True story.  You know what?  I think we're pretty much finished here.

*I don't think he is, anyway.  The more Marvel tried to erase the Clone Saga, the more confusing it got.  I challenge anyone to explain it in a coherent paragraph.  Wikipedia has a whole page on it (see link above) and it reads like something someone suffering from severe head trauma jotted down after waking up from a weird dream.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Whole Letting Your Toddler Wear Whatever They Want Debacle

Yeah, I'm going there.  Look, I'm old school in many ways; I was raised in an era where parents were more interested in guiding and leading their children through life than being held captive by their children's whims.  I keep seeing articles about people letting their toddlers wear whatever they want (generally in reference to boys wearing dresses or pink) and these articles are applauded by the internet community.  Look, I'm not trying to oppress anyone, and I don't give a shit who's gay and who isn't.  I'm also not about to let my children have final say over what they wear and I find the notion that toddlers are advanced enough to make these decisions as though they are more aware of who they are than their parents to be more than a little bit naive.

Your son wants to wear pink, so you buy him a pink dress and parade him around town.  Okay.  What if he wanted to wear his Halloween costume every day of the year?  What if he wanted to use the towel or a sheet as a toga or something the next time the fam goes out to eat?  What if he sees his dad using Duck Tape and just wants to be wrapped up in that shit the next time there's a trip to the playground?  What if he really (like 100% sincerely) doesn't want to wear anything aside from his underpants and a pair of rain boots on the next trip to the Wal-Mart?  Maybe underpants, rain boots, and a cape.  I could go on and on.  What if some little boy wants to go straight Drag Queen with a prom dress, a potent application of make-up, a blonde wig, and toddler heels?  Might as well let them be who they truly are, right?

Nope, I don't think so.  Suddenly, I think some of these parents might object because, well, these are children after all, and golly gee, sometimes their decision-making process is a bit mystical.  Sometimes they need an adult to guide them, and that doesn't mean the adult is denying them the opportunity to be who they are.  If Asher (my son, who is 3) wants to wear jeans and a tee-shirt tomorrow, I'm going to dress him in jeans and a tee-shirt.  If Asher wants to wear one of his sister's ballerina outfits tomorrow, I'm going to dress him in jeans and a tee-shirt.  When he's an adult, if he wants to wear a ballerina outfit, he's free to wear the damn thing.  The difference isn't that I'm refusing him the right to an identity, the difference is that as an adult he will have a firm understanding of who he is and what he wants to wear.

Here's another thought: there are a few things I did in this life that I seriously question, to include various styles and haircuts.  There were a few things I wanted to do along the way that were shot down by my parents, but they were fairly open-minded.  I do look back as an adult and wonder why in the hell they allowed me to do some of these things.  My rat tail (about 6 years after the rat tail craze was a distant memory) is a stellar example.  Anyway, I strongly believe that many of these children whose parents are so liberal and understanding are going to look back at pictures one day and say, "What the fuck was wrong with you guys?  I was 3, for Pete's sake.  Who cares what I wanted--or thought that I wanted--weren't you guys supposed to be dressing me?"

Asher's favorite toys are his wrestlers and his super heroes.  He also likes his sister's My Little Pony toys and he is free to play with them.  His sisters have dressed him up in dresses and their ballerina outfits while playing around the house on occasion, and while some would condemn this kind of stuff, I believe that type of play can be helpful and informative.  Besides, I'm pretty sure it happens to every little boy with three sisters, particularly when two of them are older sisters.  Yet when we head out into the world at large, it's up to me and my wife to decide what he wears.  He can play however he wants, those are decisions I think he's fully capable of making.  Total authority over his wardrobe is another matter altogether, and I'm truly surprised that some people don't understand that.  Frequently, I'm pretty sure that most of these people I'm referring to throughout this blog actually fully understand, but man, that internet applause must really do something for them.  Hell, there may even be headlines . . .

I know, I'm a caveman, but that's my opinion on the whole letting your toddler wear whatever they want debacle.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Salem/Under the Dome

I love Salem.  If you're a fan of horror and you aren't watching it, you're missing out.  It's kinky, it's dark, it's gruesome, it boasts a fantastic cast, and the soundtrack is equally impressive.  I really don't want to say much about the plot.  It's about witches, of course, but it's really fresh and exciting.  I think this is definitely one of those cases where the less you know going in, the more you're going to enjoy yourself.  The show's creators may have felt the same way; the previews were intriguing but didn't really give a lot away, and I've been surprised and delighted by the program from the very beginning. 

Bonus points: In addition to stealing the show as Cotton Mather, Seth Gabel has a killer beard.  I've never seen this dude in anything before, and while the show is brimming with quality performances, he's been a bit of a revelation.  He's good, really, really good.

Under the Dome is a different story.  I really enjoyed the way the first season started.  This is when the series was being a bit more faithful to the book, but King intrigued me with all his talk about taking the show in a different direction and presenting a different conclusion.  Early in the second season, I think it's become obvious that this approach was a dreadful mistake.  Hey, if you like it, you're free to watch it, but I think a very promising series has devolved into garbage.  I don't think I'm going to keep watching it; Season 2 has been downright painful.  Whereas the book (a top-notch affair with a somewhat lackluster ending) focused on the people and the human conflict playing out under the dome to great effect, the show has become more of a mediocre CGI and bizarre plot twist showcase.

It's depressing, particularly when you look at the cast and think about what could have been.  The talent is still working hard to make it work, but plot holes, massive gaps in logic, and poor effects have ruined a program I was really enjoying early on. 

Anyway, if you're not watching Salem, join the party--it's a wicked good time.  And if you're still sailing with Under the Dome, well, may God have mercy on your soul.

Friday, July 11, 2014

LeBron and the NBA Off-Season

I'm not a LeBron fan.  I'm a Kobe fan, so there's that, and there was The Decision, and mostly there's the fact that when you're the best baller in the world you can't moonlight as a flopper.  I don't like flopping, but some guys can get away with it.  If you don't have the best toolkit on your team and your ability to get the ref to whistle when there's no foul earns you playing time, well, it's hard for me to fault you for that.  Yet if you're the best there is at what you do, you can't be flopping around out there, and that's that.  Anyway, I'm no fan, but I applaud LeBron for going back to the Cavs.  Hell, career-wise a return to Cleveland is somewhat akin to taking a bullet for your hometown.

However, as much as people want to discuss LeBron and his big decision today--and it's big news, don't get me wrong--I think the bigger story is the way the NBA has been grabbing headlines of late.  Even when The Decision ruffled so many feathers once upon a when I don't remember there being so much discussion about the NBA's free agency period.  I know Melo's out there too, but off-season headline dominance has typically been a staple of the NFL, and to a certain extent the MLB.  I don't ever remember dealing with so much hype in regards to the NBA off-season.

Whether people like LeBron or hate him, and whether they like his return to Cleveland or not, this is a win for the NBA.  People are talking about LeBron and Melo.  They're talking about the alien known as Chris Bosh and there have been headlines coming out of Toronto--Toronto!!!  Yes, people are still talking about Donald Sterling and his adventures in insanity as well, but all this attention has to be seen as a major boost for a league that hasn't been this hot since MJ was tearing it up or Magic was going toe to toe with Larry.

The NBA is back, folks, and all this off-season noise could be setting the stage for a huge year on the hardwood.  Of course, if you're a Lakers fan like me, it's hard to relish all this enthusiasm, but it's there and Adam Silver has to be loving it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


My four children are wonderful blessings.  I treasure them and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  I adore them and each one is so incredibly unique.  They are my reason for being and everything worthwhile in my life can be tied directly to my love for my wife and my little ones.  Yes, I'm one of those people who truly believes that those who don't have a family to share their lives with are truly missing out, and every day I find a new reason to be thankful for all these wacky Waylands.

Having said that, there are certainly moments when the voice in my head sounds a lot like this:

Some Kind of Monster/Lars Sucks

I have no idea why, but I'm currently stuck on the song "Some Kind of Monster" c/o Metallica, a band I've always been lukewarm on despite my love for heavy metal.  Anyway, I really dig this track, particularly the lyrics and Hetfield's performance, both of which seem to represent some of his better work.  And then there's Lars.  I like this song and I'm listening to it a lot, but Lars (a mediocre talent if ever there was one) really sucks it up on this one.  At times, his work on "Some Kind of Monster" is simply awful.

Now, to be fair, I'm a diehard fan of Slayer, a band that has somehow been blessed with both Dave Lombardo and Paul Bostaph in their efforts to rock us all over the years.  That sets the bar pretty damn high, but it still doesn't totally account for my disdain for Lars and his meager effort on an otherwise noteworthy song.  Dude is dreadful, and if being in a rock band was like most jobs, I'm pretty sure he would have been fired during the recording session. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Say "So Long" to Solos

Disclaimer:  The following story was birthed from an informal interview with an unknown source reputed to be an actual representative from an alleged band that wished to remain anonymous.  No real names, dates, or places are mentioned, and the author cannot be considered financially responsible for any insult or injury that may occur to any individuals, fictional or non-fictional, resembling those represented in this depiction of a band reported to be quite famous.  No one was harmed in the writing of this story and rest assured, reading it will not harm you. 

Proceed with caution.

Montana found himself in the final stages of what had surely been an awful performance.  His sweat stank of cheap liquor and his heart was threatening to burst.  The crowd was giving him the benefit of the doubt, but that had never mattered for him.  It was shit, absolute shit, and he knew it.

He looked to Bernie and saw disgust registering on the lanky guitarist’s typically stoic face.  Bernie was a good chap and you could always count on him for a truthful response.  

Mickey was another story altogether.  Montana was hung over, and he had smoked at least six joints and snorted half as many lines of coke in the four hours he had been awake prior to the rise of the curtain, but he was good, really good to be honest, feeling just damn great actually.  His drummer was wasted.  Montana would bet every dollar in his bank account that Mickey had no idea where they were playing tonight—not even so much as the state.  Nothing mattered to Mick the Hick but his next ride, and he was never coming down.

Montana turned back to face the hungry crowd, uncertain of how to proceed.  Should they stick to the script and continue to fuck it up, or try something else completely and take the risk of fucking that up far worse?  It was his call, . . . his and his alone.

“Excuse me,” he spoke into the microphone, trying to find his stride.  “I’m looking for some people who want to tear this fucking place down.  I'm serious.  I want this fucking place to burn.”

A ripple seemed to spread throughout the crowd, which was suddenly gaining energy and enthusiasm.  The head security guard gave Montana a stern glare, but the vocalist ignored it.  He needed some magic and he was going to take a stab at shooting the moon.  Singers always bluff when there’s money on the table.

“That's right, motherfuckers.  I mean you people understand that we only live once, right?  At least in this incarnation, that is if you believe in such things, but the point remains the same.”

Bernie was looking at him like he had flipped his lid.  Maybe he had. 

But maybe, just maybe, he was primed to explode one last time.

Once.  That’s a hefty fucking word as far as I’m concerned.”

The people were getting into it.  They were moving.  They were getting loud.  Next they would get rowdy.

The security chief was still looking at Montana, but he seemed uncertain now.  Maybe he was thinking about splitting.

“So why don’t we join together, . . . right here, . . . right now, . . . tonight, and make this fucking moment burn.”

What followed was the finest moment in the band’s infamous history.  Only the bizarre notion of telepathy can account for the incident that forever defined them as rock icons and tragic heroes.  

Montana and Bernie exchanged a prolonged stare, their minds melding into one.  As the crowd writhed and chanted, their frenzied intensity blossoming into full-blown mayhem, the singer and the guitarist turned to regard the trashed drummer.  Mickey met their gaze and nodded his head, vowing to go the distance.  “Fuckin’ A,” he slurred, raising his sticks high overhead before screaming and simultaneously striking his cymbals.  

Magic was the word of the day as the band launched into one of their heaviest songs, an unheralded gem from their second album that wasn’t on the setlist.  Truth be told, prior to that glorious night of debauchery, the band hadn’t played “Sewer Bitch” in so much as a practice session within months of the show.  Maybe years.  It was an awful song, but awful times call for awful measures.

As the musicians gave way to the primal power that controlled them, the music brought out all of the passion and angst of those in attendance.  There was chaos, bouncing bodies churning in a sea of violent emotion.

There was rock, there was love, and there was glory.  Oh sweet glory.

And then some asshole accidentally burned the whole place down.