Thursday, December 30, 2004

No Fight in Goodfight

So, I tried to bait the morons at Goodfight Ministries

Here is the letter I sent with the hopes that they would have sent me some goofy response about how my child's soul is in danger. Oh well. I post the letter just for fun, if I ever get a response, I'll post it. Who can I fight now, maybe these guys. Their article on Santa Claus is hilarious.

Dear Goodfight

I am a parent of two young boys. My oldest son has shown an interest in a rock band called Iron Maiden. While he claims they are immensely popular (and thus mainstream), I am unfamiliar with them. I did a cursory search on the Internet and found a lot of information (over 2,000,000 sites) and some ghastly images (some appeared to be demonic). However, in reading some of their lyrics from a recent record, I found nothing terribly offensive (compared to other popular music today).

However, I decided to do a little more research on demonically inspired music, and when I searched the Internet for “demonically inspired music” I found your site. While I was familiar with many of the artists on your site, and do not agree with all of your conclusions, your excerpt of “Kill Your Daughter” by Iron Maiden was troubling. Troubling enough for me to write you. You have obviously done your homework, so I was hoping for some advice.

First of all, how long have Iron Maiden been around (these guys look pretty old to be in rock and roll)? Are they dangerous? What should I tell my son?

I do not want to overreact because I am sure there are worse things for my children to be involved in, but I really don’t like what I have seen on your site. There are many Iron Maiden references on the web, but there is so much information (and mis-information) out there, that I don’t know what to do or whom to believe.

Any information or useful web link you could provide would helpful.

Thank you

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Festivus

I look forward to the airing of the grivences. I sent an e-mail to those holy rollers I referred to in yesterday's post. If I get a response I will post updates.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Slow Blogging

Things have been pretty slow. No good blogging to be done, so I think I'll pick a fight with someone. Good Fight Ministries has this web site where they claim rock and roll is satanic and stuff. They may be fun to play with, but I'm not sure how to approach them. I need to create another e-mail account and send them a letter. They seem to be attention whores so if I can give them anything interesting, they may fight back. Check back soon for an update.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I Hate Being Right All the Time

I was never a Pantera fan. Their first album was different and very heavy, but it never appealed to me. I guess I always had a respect for Pantera, though; it is hard to explain. I have a close friend who is a Pantera fan and I recently borrowed their first 2 CDs, Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display of Power. I liked them a little better 13 years after I heard them the first time, but I still really did not care for them. I never heard Damageplan.

So, why do I mourn (OK not mourn, but feel sad about) the death of Dimebag Darrel? A guitarist who I never really listened to or liked. My only connection to his music was an impression that it wasn’t crap like nu-metal, but still was not my thing, so again I ask why?

I have a theory, and it is a bit complex. Readers of this site (all three of you) will know that I recently had a run in with the metal community at some web site. My conclusion was that the metal community is a bunch of losers and worse. These people were curt, rude and showed no civility in any way shape or form. I had concluded that the metal community had become a horde of former geeks turned into obnoxious, rude and violent miscreants.

This shooting confirmed my fears.

It seems as if this may be the beginning of the end for the metal community as I knew it. The metal scene in the USA was horrible before this incident; now, it will only get worse. I can easily see many European bands deciding not to play in the USA because of our warped culture. It wasn’t always this way.

Our once friendly metal community of the 1980’s who, while enjoyed overturning cars in concert parking lots and setting them on fire from time to time, were, in general a decent bunch of guys. People at concerts were always friendly and personable to each other. I hate to sound corny, but those silly Judas Priest songs like United, Take on the World, and Defenders of the Faith had some element of truth to them, we really did all like each other. Serious violence was never even a fleeting thought.

Not anymore.

I fear that this ridiculous gun culture of rap and hip-hop may be affecting heavy metal, at least here in the United States. I hope I am wrong, but since the killer is dead, we will probably never know the motive. Until it happens again.

I saw some reaction to Dimebag’s death blaming the government, gun laws (or lack thereof), etc. Sorry, but that is a narrow vision. I am sure several gun laws were violated in this shooting. Tougher laws are not the answer and we all know guns have been around for a long time, and this is the first incident of gun violence at a metal show aimed at a performer. The blame is on our culture of violence, not on the weapons themselves or the politics of those in power.

Our culture of violence is too complex to discuss in a short blog, but let’s not be pissed at Smith and Wesson for Dimebag’s death. The sad truth is, we are all to blame for allowing society to erode to this point. The question is, how bad will it get before it gets better?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Now I Know Why They Are Called "Rivet Heads"

My last post here was a review I submitted to Encyclopedia Metallium. Well, the review was rejected and when I submitted the link to this blog on the message board, I got flamed.

Funny, but I think I discovered something interesting about the heavy metal community in general.

They are losers who have such low self-esteem and are so insecure that they need to bash someone else so that they will feel better about the loser lives they have carved out for themselves.

The review I submitted was not really a review of the CD I suppose, but more of a commentary on the CD and what type of person was apt to like it, and who may not. Furthermore, I realize I am no Dan Simmons, Sweetie Guy Hutchinson, or The writer formerly known as NJCRC, but the review was certainly as well written as some of the other drivel that passes for writing on that site.

There were numerous reviews of the CD already, and I wanted to try something different than the usual crap you see over there. Here is an example:

Song 1 – 4.5/5 – This song is good, it starts heavy and gets heavier. There is a cool bridge between the verse and the solo. The solo is really shreddin'!! Rockin’ out man. Etc.

I suppose my review was not to the formula that those hard-wired, narrow thinking, rivet heads at Encyclopedia Metallium like to see.

The really funny thing is these people over there think they are Mickey Spillane or something; when the writing on some of the reviews submitted is laughably bad (see above example).

Well, I am better off not being a part of that community, and I should have known better, as I had stopped posting on the Iron Maiden Board a year ago or so because of the rudeness and child-like attitudes over there (with few exceptions) too.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Opeth - Beauty, Brilliance, and Cookie Monster Too

The following is a CD review I submitted to Encyclopedia Metallium. A very interesting web site for metal information. Anyway, here is the review.

In order to review a CD for this site, I need to feel strongly about it. Also, I think I need to feel I have something to say that is a bit unique and from a different perspective than the typical review for that piece (see my Master of Reality review).

So – that brings me to talk about Blackwater Park. I’m not sure if what I have to say here is unique or different, but perhaps it is from a different perspective and could provide advice for anyone considering purchasing Blackwater Park.

First of all, I am truly amazed at the divide over this album. It’s like the whole red state blue state thing that the United Sates is going through.

As you can tell by the number [note: On the site I gave the CD a 94 out of 100], I love this CD. In fact, at first I could not believe some of the reviews for this CD, but I have come to understand the rationale behind them. I think this CD appeals to a relatively narrow segment of music fans. Because of the extremes it goes through, I can understand how numerous listeners can dislike it. Add to that the length of the tracks and you have a CD, while brilliant in my opinion, that cannot appeal to an overwhelming majority of music fans. Quite a risk, but a jackpot to those of us who love and appreciate it.

Please be aware that I am not bashing anyone’s opinion or taste, but it seems to me that the slower parts make the Pig Destroyer and Cephalic Carnage fans of the world cringe, while the death metal vocals make many Iron Maiden fans laugh and say, “How can you listen to Cookie Monster and call it music?”

Well, I can see their points, and agree that the Opeth of the 21st Century is not for them.

So, what does that leave you with? Not much of a prospective fan base, but certainly enough for Opeth to be reasonably successful and build a strong fan base; though the thought of a group like Opeth receiving mainstream success, especially in the USA, is laughable. Very few people are able to appreciate genius, and Blackwater Park is pure genius.

I will not review the album track by track, as I have always viewed Opeth CD’s as a single piece, as opposed to separate tracks. Although standout tracks like Bleak and the title track are great listens when you do not have time for the whole CD.

So, to conclude, if you are reading this and considering whether or not to delve into the fantastic, beautiful, mind-blowing music of Opeth, be warned. This CD is not for those with closed minds or musical taste that is not diverse. The listener needs to be aware that this CD contains music that is both slow and fast, peaceful and aggressive, and soothing and riling.

So my advice is put it on and marvel at the genius known as Opeth.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Americans are Behind

I recently read a piece online reviewing one of Iron Maiden’s shows from last year’s Dance of Death tour and found it fascinating. With the band announcing European dates for next summer, and no mention of US dates, it brings me to a question that has bothered me for a long time.

Why is Iron Maiden so immensely popular in Europe and South America, but so off the map here in the United States?

A review of the charts is depressing for anyone who believes in music. Eminem, Destiny’s Child, and Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz occupy the first three spots, and it gets worse from there. I don’t know where you would find an actual musician on this list.

For the American Iron Maiden fan, a review of the charts in September of 2003 tells the depressing story.

In Sweden, Iron Maiden’s Dance of Death entered the chart at number 1, where it stayed for three weeks, before falling to number 5 in week 4 and number 10 in week 5. It stayed in the top 60 for 3 months. Dance of Death was in the number 1 spot in six different countries.

In Germany, Dance of Death made its debut at number 2, falling to number 5 in week 2 and number 12 in week 3. It reached the number 2 spot in three other countries, including the UK.

In the USA, Dance of Death made its Billboard debut at number 18. From there it took a nosedive and was gone from the radar within 2 or 3 weeks. I can only imagine what was topping the US charts at that time.

So, those are the facts. The question is, why?

Now the easy answer is that US audiences are sheep that are fed the slop that the suits in the music industry and on Fox shove down our throats. Can this really be true? Can we be so stupid?

To be certain, we are that stupid. Any country that has Eminem, Destiny’s Child, and Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz at the top of the charts is completely devoid of taste and culture. Despite this fact, I am unsure if we can place the blame here, although in fairness, many of these acts are popular in Europe as well, so they are not as smart as they think they are. However, music with actual music is still popular in these countries.

A controversial answer is the hip-hop culture dominates the US. Even suburban white kids can be found blasting gangsta rap from their cars these days. It is certainly cooler to be black or latino than white, so maybe that is it. Iron Maiden is definitely white, that is for sure, and white is so uncool.

Another factor is that Maiden is seen as an 80’s thing. Their popularity here was kind of short lived, and as such they are seen as a nostalgia act as opposed to a hard working band that has had consistent global success with thirteen albums over 25 years. In the era of MTV, bands have a pretty short shelf life as we are always looking for something new.

Finally, Maiden has never fit the US stereotype for heavy metal. They just don’t sing about sex, drugs and rock n roll; and while the metal community in Europe has grown up, kids here really can’t get into a group who writes 9 minute songs about World War I battles that took place in a small village in Belgium. Most Americans can't even find Belgium on a map.

This of course opens a can of worms regarding how many Europeans stereotype Americans as ignorant of the world around them at best, and just plain stupid at worst. I am not going to get into this discussion here about our educational system, and who is to blame, but based on our music choices, they may have a point.

So, I really can’t give a definitive explanation as to Maiden’s lack of commercial success here. I have proposed a couple of theories, but I really can’t explain why for certain. One thing I can be sure of is that Iron Maiden is not for the feint of heart. They are for people that like heavy music and good musicianship, but also like history, science and culture. Here in the USA, that may be a tough niche, and for the corporate suits that live and die by focus groups, it is well below the radar.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lost my mind in 'nam

I realize that the title has nothing to do with the below blog, but consider it like Led Zeppelin's album Houses of the Holy.

Today’s top ten list:

The top ten puctuation marks of all time.

10 – The period. Suffers from over exposure, but think of where we would be without it.

9 – The hyphen. Using it often in this blog!!

8 – The exclamation point. Not really a favorite, but No list is complete without it.

7 – The ampersand. I think actually wrinting the word and is easier than writing this thing, but because it looks so cool, it makes this list. Oh, here it is &.

6 – The pound sign. # Before touch tone phones, this was sometimes used to abbreviate the word “number”. It is also used in music to denote a “sharp” note. A very versitile and fun symbol. In a pinch it can be used to play tic tac toe.

5 – The tilda. Some may claim it is not english and maybe it isint, but without our friend the ~, Cesar CedeƱo, would merely be Cesar Cedeno. The difference is clear.

4 – The section symbol. I wish this were on a keyboard. It would make my life so much easier. We need a § on every keyboard – NOW!!!

3 – The curly looking brackets. I have no idea what these are for other than mathematical order of operations. It is () first, then [], and finally {}. So if you see a math equation with {} in it, you are in big trouble.

2 – The at symbol. Before the internet the @ was a practical unknown. Now it is on everyone’s business card. You’ve come a long way baby!!

1 – The question mark. I know it is common, but the ? has always been a sentimental favorite. It reminds me of my college days. Really it does.

The story is that my fraternity was looking for a rush gimmick, and we could not find one. When the biff fratenity down the street decided to use a big !, as their sign, it was obvious that ours should be the ?

So perhaps a sentimental choice for number one all time, but hey it’s my list!! Feel free to make your own.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Finally - 9/11 Masterminds Caught Together

I can not believe this article is serious. The picture of the two masterminds together is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. Try to imagine the scene at their meeting. If I were as witty as Sweetie you would be in stitches by now. Maybe he could help me with the dialogue!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tell the World of Paschendale

I can’t imagine being a music reviewer. It is really impossible to properly judge a CD after one listen. I guess if you are reviewing canned pop music like you would find on the Top 40 chart, it is not too difficult, but for music that is created by musicians and not media conglomerates like Ashlee Simpson you cannot properly review a CD in the week of its release.

So that brings me to the purpose of this blog. I am going to write my review for Dance of Death by Iron Maiden. The CD came out in September of 2003, and now, finally a year later, I feel I am able to craft a proper review of the CD.

The opening track is one we first heard on their summer tour in 2003. Wildest Dreams. This song proves that in the case of Dance of Death, the total is greater than the sum of its parts. On its’ own, this track is a medium grade Maiden song. However, as the opener to Dance of Death, Wildest Dreams along with track 2 Rainmaker stir up the listener’s senses and prepare them for the greatness ahead.

Wildest Dreams and Rainmaker are a pair of songs that were meant for one another. I can’t believe that the band did not play them back-to-back on the tour. Wildest Dreams features Adrian Smith and Rainmaker features Dave Murray. It is a symbolic return to the glory days of the band (though Gers makes a positive contribution or two on Dance of Death, it is my opinion that he is outclassed by Smith and Murray on almost every level) where Murray and Smith would harmonize and solo like a single two-headed beast, always aware of the other.

The third track is No More Lies and is somewhat of a let down, but again, it fits in with the rest of the CD, it changes the mood a bit, and the introspective nature of the song and lyrics are great. No More Lies features a blazing solo by Smith, and here is where he sets himself apart from Gers and to a lesser extent even Dave Murray.

Montsegur is another fantastic history lesson by Maiden, and it is crunching and heavy, and really moves along quite nicely.

Now things really cook. The track Dance of Death is clearly Jannick Gers’ greatest contribution to Iron Maiden. The man has come so far in the last 13 years as both a player, but particularly as a songwriter. The complex and dynamic song moves along at a great pace and when it is over, the listener finds himself truly amazed at how great Iron Maiden have become.

With Gates of Tomorrow, I think Maiden mad the only true mistake on this CD. The song is weak, and I hate to say I might call it filler, but I don’t think Maiden purposely put in filler. I just think they misjudged the track and put it on, when it really should have been scrapped. In any case, even Maiden’s worst tends to be at least listenable, and there are some cool moments here, but overall, you could skip this track.

New Frontier gets things going in the right direction again. It has a great riff in the beginning, and moves along quite nicely. The soloing by Smith and Dickinson make this track a true classic, as the instrumental section on this song is among the best on the CD.

Now we come to the highpoint, the climax, the finest moments in Maiden history almost. Paschendale. Really there are no words that can accurately describe this track. This is the point where you realize how truly gifted and brilliant Adrian Smith is. I am not sure how much of this track was written by Steve Harris and how much by Smith, but I can assure you, Steve Harris while brilliant, has never written anything this epic, this grandiose, this mind blowing in his career. Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Alexander the Great are both staggering achievements, but it they pale in comparison to Paschendale. About 5 minutes into the song the guitar solos start and as usual Smith and Murray are astounding, then a 20 second vocal “bridge” that is the highlight of the song. Even Jannick’s choppy, garbled solo cannot ruin this brilliant track.

Face in the Sand follows and it somehow manages to keep the level of Paschendale up. This song is the most underrated in the band’s history and it is a shame they could not play it live. The entire album, Bruce sings with a passion and vigor that I have not heard since Powerslave, and nowhere on this CD is it more evident than in his performance in Face in the Sand. Again, we see an Adrian Smith composition that shines far and above those of his band mates.

Age of Innocence is another valley, but considering its location, after Paschendale and Face in the Sand and before the best closer since Mariano Rivera, it is really unfair and impossible to give any king of objective opinion on this song, so I will not.

Journeyman closes the album. What a closer it is. I am so glad Maiden had the ball to close this album with this acoustic masterpiece. As with other parts on this album, it leaves me speechless. Dickinson’s performance here is again one of the best in his career, and the music and tempo (again due to Adrian Smith) is indescribable.

So, looking back on this review, the reader may think I’m Jannick bashing, but that is not my intent. The whole album is great, and in this 23-year Maiden fan’s opinion, it may be their best ever, and without Jannick’s contributions, particularly on the title track, it would not be the same. I suppose one of the things I do take from Dance of Death is confirmation of the suspicion I have held since I first heard Back in the Village in 1984, that Adrian Smith is by far the most superior musician and songwriter the band had ever had.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Random Thoughts

I have not posted in a while, I was away in West Virginia (what a beautiful place) for a few days, and I have a lot on my mind so here it is:

1. As I stated above, I spent a couple of days in West Virginia and what a nice place; however, the poverty there is unreal. Why do we cram ugly states like New Jersey and Lower New York with people and not choose more attractive locations to place our cities and jobs?

2. This presidential election is a joke. I have never seen two people less qualified or deserving to be President that these two boobs. God help us.

3. The Yankees really choked. I think it proves some things I have always known about baseball. (Pitching is everything, Tom Gordon is not a reliable pitcher and Joe Torre is not that great a manager - remember Buck Showalter was fired for loosing three in a row in Seattle, what will Torre's punishment be?)

4. My profession sucks - I would rather have been a gay porn star (not that there's anything wrong with it)

That's about it for now.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Let's Go to the Videotape

This Presidential Election is a tough call. I think both candidates are inadequate, but I think the bottom line is that Bush is a stooge.

Kerry looked pretty good in the debate last night, and if I actually believed what he said, I would support him in a minute. However, it is no secret that when democrats are on the campaign trail, they become fiscal conservatives. Once in office, they spend like a drunken sailor on leave (kind of like George Bush - the most un-Republican Republican ever)

So, I have decided to support Kerry - I think. Although this video makes me think I could support Bush. But that guy no longer exists, he was loose, natural, unstoogelike. Unfortunately, the real GWBush can be seen here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Naked Lady Tees

Well, Rodney's dead. Rodney Dangerfield was a great comic and his humor will always crack me up. Caddyshack is probably the funniest movie of all time. We will miss Rodney, no one else will be able to say "I tell ya, my wife, she keeps me in matter how many guys are in front of me". Visit Rodney's web site for some other great one liners.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Finally on DVD

No, unfortunately it is not the Odd Couple TV series (not the New Odd Couple with Ron Glass and Demond Big Dummy Wilson) but almost as good.

The film Circle of Iron has been released on DVD. I have not gone out to buy it yet but I plan to get it soon.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the film is (in my opinion) a kung-fu move for people who don't like kung-fu movies. David Carradine plays almost every major part in the film other than Cord, and he is very entertaining. He is witty and clever and he kicks some ass too.

From what I recall, the scenery is great and the entire mood of the film is enjoyable. Small parts by Eli Wallach, Roddy McDowell and Christopher Lee give the movie some star power, and while the ending is a bit geigh, the complete package is greater than the sum of its parts.

I am looking forward to buying and watching this DVD, I should get to it sometime before 2015 or so.

Finally, where is the "collector's edition" of The Warriors with the deleted scenes and bonus footage.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Where is the Outrage?

I just saw one of the beheadings that have been going on lately. I am somewhat in shock right now. Have President Bush or that other stooge John Kerry seen this yet? When are we going to stop the politically correct bullshit and fight this enemy to the fullest extent of our capabilities?

These are Americans being murdered. Where is the outrage? Where is the protection that The Constitution provides?

Why do we spend all this money on the military if we are afraid to use it?

Here is the solution:

Drop a daisy cutter on the cities of Falluja and Najaf. After that we demand the surrender of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. If he does not surrender, then drop another daisy cutter. Then another. And another. Maybe that stooge Bush and his corrupt minions (Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) are worried about oil profits for their cronies.

President Bush is a panderer and wimp. Unfortunately Snow Miser Kerry will be the same. I really wonder if Reagan would have taken this crap. I doubt it.

Snowball Fights in Hell and Pigs on the Runway

I usually never agree with politicall writer Ted Rall. He is about as revolutionary as anyone, and his comics are poorly drawn. However, this article is one I agree with 100%.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

...And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

Well, the Alternate History thing proved to be too hard. I read up on some of the details of the Reagan administration, but in order to write it properly, it would take too much time and research, and as the ESPN commercial used to say “Not now Chris…I’m a busy man”

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Great Article

I found this through the IMBB - great column.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Reagan Assassinated - Intro (Sort Of)

I'm not sure how far I am going to take this, but here it goes.

The first questions are - who would George HW Bush appoint as VP. There were several in Reagan's cabinet who would have been possible. Alexander Haig is an interesting choice.

Also, I think any timeline I would author would go under the premise that Bush was a spineless stooge who would have caved to the Democrat majority in Congress, so many of Reagan's successful policies may never have come to fruition.

Some items include:

The economic recovery that led to Reagan's landslide victory in 1984.
The Grenada Invasion
Tax Reform
The Cold War

Going further into this time line it is worth exploring the election of 1984. Would Mondale still have been the nominee. If so he certainly would not have chosen Ferraro as a running mate.

Hopefully, I will provide more insight at a later time.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Alternate History or What if Harry Turtledove wasn't such a hack

Recently the topic of alternate history has captured my fancy. One timeline I find particularly interesting is what would have happened if John Hinckley was successful. Not in getting in Jodie Foster's pants, but in killing Ronald Reagan.

Many in the AH community scoff at this topic simply because they a typically liberal politically and can't tell the difference between Reagan and the Bushies. Well, to those of us who know better, I think this is a quite scary scenario that almost happened.

Perhaps in the days and weeks to come I will ponder this a bit further and present what could have happened.

Suffice it to say, I am of the opinion that it would have been disastrous.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Annoying

There is a web site out there where you can vote on whether or not something or someone is annoying. I like the site and in tribute to that I present the top 10 annoying people in the world:

10. Ted Efau - I am not sure if I spelled it right. I probably have not heard the guy in years, but I hated the way he said "The Republicans" who were always at fault for everything. This guy was a proven no talent as he was confined to a New Brunswick radio station, and because of his lack of exposure he is not as annoying as....

9. Rush Limbaugh. I tend to agree with his politics 65% of the time, but this guy is the most pompous windbag to ever hit the airwaves. His voice is annoying. I will admit he’s an easy target, but truth is truth

8. The "I didn't know there was a line" guy from my last trip to the DMV. I was early, and before it opened there were two other people waiting. As such, I knew I was third in line, even though a formal line had not formed. This jack-off who was like sixth tries to get in front of me and when I pointed out how rude and obnoxious he was his retort was the above quotation. I hate that guy wherever he is.

7. Gary Cohen. This rube announces the Mets games on the radio. His "ITS OUTTA HERE" is the most annoying thing in the history of sports with the exception of....

6. Nolan Ryan fans. My opinion has been well documented here, so no need to further elaborate on the most overrated player ever.

5. The laugh track on TV shows – what is that, who ever thought that was a good idea?

4. Protesters. I guess this is timely with the RNC in New York and all, but get a f**kin job and leave everyone alone.

3. TV Commercials, especially car commercials. Why must ad execs dig up old songs to sell new cars?

2. Taco Bell. Thanks to two bloggers who shall remain nameless, my addiction to the Bell is stronger than ever. My colon hates you.

1. That dumb Vietnam movie with Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox where they kidnap and rape that girl from the village. One interesting note here. I am sure Quentin Tarantino saw this before he cast Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace. Rhames give a speech in this move at one point where I could have sworn the next line for his mouth was going to be “GI’s don’t have an old timers day”.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

T-Bone takes ten from NJCRC's Book

Thanks to this blog I have decided that in order to post regularly, I have decided to post top ten lists.  Quite lame, but it makes for easy bloggin'

OK, today's list - The Top Ten sitcoms in TV history:

10. Gilligan's Island - Seriously!!

9.  The Jeffersons - Mr. Bentley rules!!

8. Two and a half men - New sit com on CBS this year.  Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer are great and the show keeps me in stitches.  Really good stuff.

7. Cheers - I think this show was overrated and went on for way too long.  Woody Harrelson and Kirste Alley were not adequate replacements for Coach and Diane, and the show suffered in its last few seasons.  Although the Jeopardy episode is a classic.

6. Seinfeld - You may think this one should get a better rating, but for some reason, here is where it landed.  I suppose the last couple of seasons were too silly, but even so, there were some great moments.  Really what more can you say about this show.

5. Taxi - Sometimes this show took itself too seriously and I really hate when sitcoms do that.  That is why All in the Family and MASH don't make this top ten.  Taxi never went too far with it (ie MASH Dreams episode) and the funny moments (ie Iggy biting into the hash brownie) are gold.

4. The Simpsons - Some may say this is too low a rating, but it has got stale the last few years.  Still seasons 2-7 are among the best stuff I have ever seen.

3. Sanford and Son - While sometimes Cheesy 70's humor creeps in here (The black and white cops) Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson are hilarious.

2. The Honeymooners - I know it is an easy pick, but the original 39 episodes are really funny.  Have a marshmallow

1. The Odd Couple - There are so many great lines from this show, even after watching since I was five, I still crack up thinking about them.  It is a crime that these are not on DVD.  The rapport between Klugman and Randall is unbeatable.  They worked great together; actually Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen are the closest to come to Osc and Feel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Iron What?

A while back, I wrote a blog about today’s metal acts, the lousy concept albums they occasionally churn out, and how bad they are (i.e. Evergrey’s new album). Well, there is one exception that I can think of:

Iron Savior.

This band was formed about 10 years ago or so as a side project for some of the members of Gamma Ray, Helloween and bands of that ilk. Anyway, the entire band is based on a cheesy sci-fi concept. Now I am not all that familiar with the story, but they just released their fifth full-length album and they continue the same story.

The funny thing is that they are really good. They play traditional Euro-Speed Metal. While they may not be terribly innovative or ground braking, they are good. The guitars are proficient and the vocals are strong. In other words, they rock.

They are definitely not for everyone, and they have absolutely no chance of any commercial success in the United States, but fans of the genre will certainly appreciate them.

Iron Savior’s Battering Ram is so far the best or second best release of 2004, along with Into Eternity’s Buried in Oblivion.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Vacation - Says Who?

Well, it's been a while, so I thought I would just throw some nonsense up here so the 2 or 3 readers of this blog know I am still alive.

I was on vacation last week, and those of us in the business world know that a one week vacations costs you three weeks of normal life because the week before and the week after at work are horrendous.

So - I am back. My vacation sucked, but that's life.

So, now to the blog.

Technology has made our lives more difficult, with Fed Ex, fax and e-mail, there is nothing that can wait until tomorrow. I am so sick of this rat race world we live in.

As my favorite role model Homer Simpson would say - "Lousy Democrats"

Or is it Republicans - I don't care - I hate them both.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

I'm glad I read this today. Now I feel a bit more comfortable avoiding Ozzfest. Geezer Butler (probably the Sabbath member with the most skill and integrity) admitted the band would play for 60 minutes. One hour. Two episodes of Seinfeld. Yup, 3,600 seconds. He wasn't even apologetic. It's like, "Yeah, one whole hour, it'll be hard work, but we'll get through it".

The author of the article doesn't even think that it is strange that a headlining act of a major music festival is playing for one hour. Ninety minutes is barely acceptable, but one hour? There is something wrong here.

Figuring that they have to play Iron Man, Paranoid, Children of the Grave, War Pigs and Black Sabbath, that leaves time for like 2 more songs, and whatever they are, I’m sure they will not be something that would be different and interesting.

I don’t know what the response has been, but with the lame set Priest is playing and an hour Sabbath set, I feel much better about saying “no thanks” to the money machine known as Sheezy (that was Sharon Osbourne’s nickname before she became a mega star).

As for good shows, I will be seeing Rush on their 30th anniversary tour this year. I can expect three hours (no Gilligan’s Island jokes please) of solid entertainment from REAL musicians instead of that side show known as Ozzfest.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Bush v. Kerry (aka Dumb and Dumbererer)

I am not a political guy. I actually hate politics. But in the wake of the recent death of President Reagan, I thought I would offer some political observations. Reagan these days is becoming less about politics and more about history. During Reagan’s presidency I was growing up. I was 12 when he came in and 20 when he left. I was never old enough to vote for him or against him. So it is difficult for me to comment of the politics of Reagan and his administration.

Reagan has been praised in public lately and that is a good thing. I think his accomplishments as president certainly outweigh his shortcomings. For a scathing column on Reagan you can read Ted Rall’s column. As a side note I think Rall is an extremist who lives in a fantasy world and has no true understanding of how the world works. I have deliberately not posted a link because Rall is such a scumbag, if anyone is interested you can go to Google and type in “prick”.

Anyway, I digress.

Reagan was a politician that we had faith in. Maybe the last one. We trusted him. I think he honestly did what he thought was right for the United States. The “scandals” of his presidency involved international affairs (i.e. Iran Contra) and perhaps he circumvented the law, but he was doing what he thought was right. No president since then has had that kind of integrity. I think everyone knows the President should not receive a hummer from a fat intern.

That brings me to today and the 2004 election. These two boobs running for president make the choices in 1996 (which I thought horrendous at the time) look good. President Bush is a bumbling stooge. John Kerry is no better (besides he looks like the Snow Miser).

Many conservative pundits praise President Bush. I really do not know why. He has given tax breaks to the super wealthy while giving little to no relief to the upper middle class on down. He has done nothing to curtail government spending, and has been unable to comfort the country in times of war and terrorism. In short – he is not a good president.

John Kerry would probably be worse, as an increase in taxes and increased government spending would be disastrous. Furthermore, I cannot imagine he and his fellow Democrats taking a tough stand on terrorism, so that situation would probably worsen as well.

Will we ever see a politician like Reagan again? Probably not.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Supernaut? - NOT!!

In the news this week, original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward has agreed to join the band in their summer tour headlining Ozzfest. I saw the original Black Sabbath a few years ago on their last final tour and I wish I hadn’t.

I grew up a Black Sabbath fan starting at the age of 12. At this time Ozzy had recently left the band and started his famous solo career. All through my youth I had dreamed of seeing the original Sabs in concert. I had imagined them playing many great songs from their 8 album catalogue. When this dream was finally realized a few summers back, it fell short of my expectations. They played for all of 80 minutes, and played nothing from the latter half of their catalog, basically only sticking to the first three albums.

Now, they are set to take the stage again. Will I be suckered in? I may, it depends if I can convince anyone to go with me. Funny, considering I like 3 other bands on the Ozzfest bill it seems like a natural. As a side note, I saw the Judas Priest set list for their reunion tour (they will be playing right before Sabbath at Ozzfest) and it was a bore. Very safe, very predictable, very vanilla. Certainly tailored for the casual Priest fan and not the aficionado. I fear Sabbath will be the same and I will leave the show disappointed yet again.

So who can I convince, maybe this guy would go. If so, then BD guy may tag along as well, but he has issues with some of the other acts on the bill. There are always my brothers in law; though one of them warned me to stay at the concession stand during Slayer since anyone not moshing may get someone’s left arm in their ear.

The question is: How many times will I let Black Sabbath let me down. As this man once said, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”

So Geezer, what’s it gonna be?

Friday, May 28, 2004

Sticker Shock

Sometimes, I find things so annoying and frustrating that I can’t even put it into words. And the strange thing is, in this case, the matter is so stupid and insignificant, yet it enrages me.

The topic is baseball cards. That’s right, baseball cards. Let me explain.

A couple of years ago, this company had an idea. They decided they would get collectors to mail them their baseball cards, the company would put the cards in a plastic case, put a sticker on top, and grade the card on a scale of 1 to 10. And of course charge $10 a pop. That's right, they pay $10 for a little sticker that says "MINT" or "VG" and has a number.


Why didn’t I think of that? $10 for a sticker and a plastic case. Probably because I never would have thought people were stupid enough to fall for this malarkey. Well, I was wrong and graded baseball cards are selling like hot cakes (damn that breakfast lobby!)

It is so infuriating that the entire baseball card community has swallowed this fish, hook, line and sinker. I mean do I really need someone to put my baseball card in a plastic case and tell me it is in near mint condition? I can just look at it myself and tell what condition a card is in. I mean do you have to go to some advanced school and spend years training to detect a gum stain on a 40-year-old piece of cardboard?

And the prices people are willing to pay for these graded cards are unreal. If you go on eBay, it is astounding the difference in price between a graded card and a “raw” card.

For example, a 1965 Mickey Mantle graded 8 out of 10 by PSA recently sold on eBay for $916.03. The “raw” card in the same condition sold for $77. Idiots!!

I really cannot understand how this happened, seemingly overnight. But I guess I have really never understood the hobby since it became a business.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

What a Concept?!?

I hate concept albums. They are usually self-serving, self-indulgent drivel from an artist who thinks he is more insightful and intelligent than he really is. Rarely, and I mean rarely, is a concept album better than its predecessor.

I think the problem is when a band decides to do a concept album, they are limiting themselves creatively. They have forced themselves into this little box, and if a brilliant idea comes up that is outside the box, then it is either scrapped or shelved. Either way, it is lost. I will never understand why artists would pigeonhole themselves like that. I guess the one exception is Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime. Let’s look at some other examples however.

Savatage was coming into their own in the late 80s. 1987’s Hall of the Mountain King and 1989’s Gutter Ballet were arguably the best consecutive albums from an American metal band at the time. Then, they thought they were too good for a regular album and released Streets: A Rock Opera. This piece of crap is so campy, so trite, and so just plain stoo-pid, that it is a joke.

How about Fates Warning? I thought Inside Out was their best album to date when it came out in 1994; the two before it (Parallels and Perfect Symmetry) were also great. Then comes the concept album, A Pleasant Shade of Grey. Yaaaaaaaawwwwwn.

Even the great Iron Maiden tried the concept album with Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. While I certainly like it, it is clear to me that this is the worst album the band has ever released with Adrian Smith in the lineup.

I’m sure there are other examples of crappy concept albums from otherwise good bands that you can find in your CD collection as well.

This brings me to the point of this post. I recently picked up Evergrey’s new album, The Inner Circle. This is their fifth album and until this point, the band has improved with each release. Their fourth album, Recreation Day, was really an outstanding effort, and I was even considering trying to see them next time they came around. With a wife and two little kids, I rarely go to shows, so I don’t go to shows on a whim anymore.

Well, not to worry, I will not need to plan an evening out. The Inner Circle is yet another concept album, from yet another band whose sense of self-importance and self-righteousness has become more important than making a good metal album. So it seems, Evergrey’s nice run is over.

Now Into Eternity is a different story, for now.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Know What I Mean - Vern?

My first three blogs were basically bitching sessions, so I thought I would write in praise of something. Now, before you get excited, it is not a commentary of the joys of the Internal Revenue Code, nor is it something as exciting as the deliciousness of lemonade (that cool refreshing drink).

The topic is Vern Stephens.

Stephens was a shortstop for the St. Louis Browns and Boston Red Sox from 1942 to 1951 (he played another few years, but he was not productive).

He was an 8 time all star, and more telling of his greatness, he finished in the top 7 in AL MVP voting 5 times. Contemporaries of Stephens who are in the Hall of Fame (and coincidently, more famous) are Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese. (Note: I am of the opinion that anyone named Pee Wee has no business in any Hall of Fame other than the dweeb hall of fame)

Just using the two indicators, all star selection and top 7 MVP voting, we see Rizzuto and Reese fall short (no pun intended) of Stephens. Rizzuto was a 5 time all star and finished in the top 7 MVP voting three times. Reese, although a 10 time all star, only finished in the top 7 in MVP voting 3 times.

Now, it is clear that, Reese and Rizzuto were better defensive shortstops and their teams were perennial winners, but despite his average defense, Stephens was an outstanding offensive shortstop. Baseball geeks point to a statistic called Adjusted OPS+. Without boring the reader further, suffice it to say that the top 5 players in career Adjusted OPS+ are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig, and Rogers Hornsby. So take it from me, it is a legit stat. It is essentially the player’s on base average plus his slugging average.

For his career, and that includes some poor years at the end of his career, Stephens career OPS was 19% better than that of his contemporaries. Rizzuto and Reese both finished their career with OPS below the average of their contemporaries.

So, while I have no intention of arguing that Reese and Rizzuto do not belong in the HOF, it is clear to me that if they are, then Stephens belongs as well.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Why Don Corleone, and Every Other Decent Italian, Hates Tony Soprano

I have had this argument more times than I care to remember. My brother-in-law still cannot believe I hate the Sopranos. After all, I’m Italian, and I love the Godfather, so The Sopranos seems like a natural.

How can you like The Godfather and hate the Sopranos? Well, let me tell you all, I hate the Sopranos, and so would Don Corleone.

Before I continue, I am not on of these Italian Americans that say mafia movies ruin the reputation of Italians. I live in New Jersey; I know plenty of Italian Americans who do a good enough job on their own without Hollywood’s help.

So, why does Don Corleone hate Tony Soprano? There are plenty of reasons. Let’s take some quotes. When Johnny Fontaine is crying in the don’s office at Connie’s wedding, Vito asks Johnny, “Do you spend time with your family”. Johnny replies, “Sure I do.” Then the don says:

“Good, any man who doesn’t spend time with his family could never be a real man.”

Not very Tony Soprano, who spends half his time at a nudie bar.

Next, at the meeting with The Turk, Sonny makes a costly error by “speaking when he should listen”. The Don blames this foolishness on Sonny’s infidelity with “that girl” Lucy. Again, this is something Tony Soprano would never say to his child. Tony Soprano would certainly approve of Santino’s behavior.

I think it is pretty clear how the don would feel about Tony Soprano. Pretty much the same way I feel about him, that he has no honor, no courage and the he is definitely, not a real man.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Master of Reality - A Mediocre EP

I wrote a similar review for this album on some metal site, but I think this is an appropriate forum for this information as well.

Master of Reality is hailed by many Sabbath fans as their greatest work. What??? I think Technical Ecstasy is far better (and that includes Bill Ward’s horrendous – Told you once about your friends and neighbors…PUKE) sorry for the tangent there.

Anyway back to Master of Reality. Let’s break it down. At first glance you have 8 tracks. Take away the 2 pointless and silly instrumentals Embryo and Orchid and you have 6. Solitude is a joke; it is almost as bad as – Told you once about your friends and neighbors…PUKE again.

So, we are left with 5. That’s right, a supposedly full-length album with 5 real songs on it. Now of those 5, included is After Forever, the original Christian Rock song. (Would you like to see the pope on the end of a rope?) What was Iommi smoking when he wrote this one?

Into the Void goes on and on and goes nowhere. A good friend of mine once called this song a compilation killer. He put it on a mix tape (yes it was years ago) and then had to fast forward over it every time he played the tape, until I threw it out of his car window. It’s too long, and just plain dull.

Lord of this World, Sweet Leaf and Children of the Grave are all legitimate Sabbath classics, but three songs does not a classic album make, as Yoda may have said.

Finally, lest I forget, Master of Reality will be forever marred by that geigh outro in Children of the Grave. What was that? Whispering? Were they serious?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Ryan Express – Train of Fools

You may remember sometime back, Major League Baseball pulled a promotional stunt called “The All Century Team”. This was basically, the fans voting on who they thought were the best players of all time at each position. Well, the results showed how much the average fan knows and well, they know little. The most telling item of their folly was Nolan Ryan being voted as the best pitcher of all time.


Now the case against Ryan is strong. His walk totals, failures in the post season, never won a Cy Young award, etc. The case for him is like Swiss cheese (it has holes in it and it stinks). The strikeouts are impressive, but does the fact that he is the all time leader in strikeouts (and walks) really make him the best pitcher of all time? Would you call Bert Blyleven the 5th best pitcher of all time? He threw 7 no hitters. Impressive, but even Dick Bosman threw a no hitter. I would say Ryan belongs in the vicinity of number 40, somewhere near Bert Blyleven and Don Sutton, on the “All Century Team”.

So instead of quoting the facts of Ryan’s mediocrity (only 2 20 win seasons, all time leader in walks, 3rd all time in losses, etc.) ad nauseam, I will recollect one game in which he showed his true colors.

The date is October 12, 1980. The place is the Astrodome. In the final game of the National League Championship Series, where the winner wins the NL flag and the loser goes home, Ryan showed his true colors.

The score was 2-2. In the bottom of the seventh, Ryan’s Astros plated 3 runs giving them a 5-2 lead and the NL Championship in their sights. All they needed were six outs. The top of the eighth opens with the fans choice for greatest pitcher of all time on the hill, and the rest is history…..

Ryan gave up three hits and a walk to the only four batters he faced that inning. All 4 runners scored and the Phillies went on to win the World Series.


Why am I doing this, I don't know - someone sent me a link. So, I know I have a lot to say about numerous subjects, but who really cares, I mean why am I wasting my time doing this? Well I do not know, but I know I have something to say about something so soon I'll say it.

Gripping aren't I?