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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Staff Trax

This week's edition is on Tim Kasher's solo record, The Game of Monogamy. Like the Good Life's Album of the Year, don't listen to this if you're really down in the dumps about relationships in general.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No candy

Not to a Halloween version of Scrooge, but this year, like the last two years, we will not be handing out candy for trick-or-treaters. When I live on another street someday in the near future, I definitely will pass candy out. But for as long as I live at this residence, it's not going to happen.

I hope that I am not bragging here, but I live on a very long street where 70 percent of the houses are worth a lot of money. As in, high six-figures. McMansions, if you like call them that. Where I live with Matt and Diana, along with five other residents, things are very affordable in our various apartment/duplexes. We don't have the kind of money to throw around like our neighbors down the street, including when it comes to shelling out for Halloween candy.

The last time that Jason and I gave out candy (along with our upstairs neighbors), we gave out almost twenty bags of candy in two hours. That is insane. When we gave out candy growing up, we still had plenty left over once all the kids came on by.

People from all sorts of neighborhoods come to our street simply to get Halloween candy. As I've stated many times before, the place turns into a Mardi Gras-like celebration for a few hours. Families park on our end of the street and head east towards the big houses (and hopefully better candy possibilities). And police set up barricades to accommodate the traffic flow.

In prior years, had we not stood out on our patio with candy, our place would have been passed over. This year, we're staying in and letting our neighbors splurge on those who want to come out. The Walking Dead series premiere is later that night and I don't want to miss it. I might work in a screening of Halloween or Trick-R-Treat as well.

But, sorry kids, keep moving past our house. There's plenty of other places to get your candy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scary as Hell

There's a movie that came out last weekend, and it's a sequel to a movie that really caught on this time last year. You know what movie I'm talking about if you follow what takes in the most at the box office. The line on its predecessor was that you had to see the movie in the theater. The line also pertains to the sequel.

Since these flicks can scare the crap out of you, there's something fun about experiencing them in a room full of strangers. Well, as much as it can be fun for others, I'm a little aware of how these movies can be foil for ridicule. And when the laughs come, that's pretty disruptive and annoying for me.

I opted out of seeing the first film -- which is set completely in a house -- in the theater and saw it on DVD at home. Not since I saw The Brood had I experienced such difficulty going to sleep that night. Nerves were rattled as I had difficulty distancing myself from what was CGI and what wasn't. I can handle horror movies that are shot on film, use actors, and apply make-up and CGI. Well, the idea of reality is trying to be accomplished here, and quite well I might add.

A few weeks ago, I heard from a couple friends of mine who found the first movie to be utterly hilarious. Add in the tendency movie audiences have where one group of people shriek in horror while another group laughs at them. And also tie in the fact that these movies are the epitome of yelling at the screen, "Don't go in there!" and "Get out of there!"

In similar ways, I have my reasons for why I choose to not go to costumed haunted houses. As much as I have a curiosity to experience, I prefer a comfortable distance. That's why I'm going to opt out and see the final Saw movie instead of rent the other movie when it comes out on DVD.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crimson Ghost

Something I'm really looking forward to this Halloween weekend (besides the parties and The Walking Dead series premiere) is carving a jack-o-lantern. I haven't carved one in a couple years, but I'm very much of the attitude to pick things up again.

Our friend Amy has hosted pumpkin carving parties before, but now that she lives in a place where there's no room for a party of that size, we're having it at our house. With those plans in order, I've thought about what I could carve.

The idea didn't hit me until earlier today as I looked online for designs. After numerous Octobers of listening to select tracks from the Misfits' box set, I figured it was time to at least try to do the Crimson Ghost logo. Yes, the design that has become bigger than the band itself, I want to spend my time on Saturday cutting and trimming that into a pumpkin.

In no fault of my mother's, the designs found on our front door step growing up were always the standard design. Triangle eyes and nose along with semi-sharp teeth. As the years passed the faces got more sinister. Then, college and post-college came in and I didn't get to really experience any sort of Halloween for a number of years.

I hesitate to say Halloween is my favorite "holiday," but I've always enjoyed it. I think spending a number of years away from it made me really put an effort into having fun with it. Thankfully, I have for the past six years.

Now to see if the Crimson Ghost will look good and creepy instead of cartoony

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Staff Trax

This week, it's a short little blurb about A Sunny Day in Glasgow; a group not from Scotland, but from Philly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tomorrowland

Sunday night, Matt and I stayed up a little later than normal to watch the Mad Men season finale. Matt has seen all of the episodes the show as produced. I, as I've previously mentioned, only started watching the show this season.

I don't have anything against the show's previous three seasons. I really wanted to watch something with Matt where I was the newcomer to the show. The same applies to watching Alias with Diana. I've been the LOST and Fringe geek telling people about various tidbits and story arcs. I like reversing the roles; it helps me understand how to tell somebody about a show beyond the "You just have to watch this from the beginning" excuse.

With what happens in "Tomorrowland," I was expecting some bomb of a cliffhanger. Instead, it was a point of pause. I'm not so sure this is a show that needs to have a character get shot by a mysterious person or a major forward of time in the last few minutes of the episode. No, if there's some desire for "real life" in television, well, there are some shows that go closer to that route.

Yes, the show is great to look at, with its design and look. The acting is fine and the scripts are pretty well done. I plan to watch future seasons. Alas, my desire to actually devote many hours of catching up on a show is lacking for now. Maybe it's the desire to work on two more books and read more books than ever before.

All I can say now, is that I've come a long way from watching Behind the Music and Real World marathons and wondering where the time went.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Digital

I'm still going through my CD library and ripping as much music as possible into my iTunes. Lots of great songs that I've never heard before randomly come up and play. That makes for all the hours I've spent loading CDs to be ripped.

Of course, this gets me to thinking about the true effects of music more in a digital setting instead of a physical setting.

I can recall where I got almost all of my CDs. When, where, how -- I have some kind of story. With MP3s, I have less stories, but what matters more is that I still like the music.

It's nice knowing that I don't have to wait in long lines, ask people to set aside a copy for me to buy later in the day, or stay up until midnight to purchase an album. Those days are done and saved for stories to tell to younger generations that get into music. Stories that I hope don't sound like crotchety tales of "When I was your age," but rather friendly, by-the-way mentions.

Something I'm very happy to see gone is the lack of final album tracks. You know, fifteen minutes of silence so you could hear some blow-off of a hidden track? If I ever play DJ to friends or family and somebody really wants to hear Ash's "Darkside Lightside," I don't plan on playing it the whole way through to hear the members of Ash puking their guts up. The same goes for the final track of Mastodon's Blood Mountain. Sorry guys, I'm not waiting all twenty-five minutes to hear a joke with effects pedals and vocals.

I enjoy having all my music available at the click of a button, but I'd prefer to remain the archivist who keeps physical copies around just in case. You never know when a CD you ripped didn't rip correctly. And boy would it suck if you realized that when you sold all your CDs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Staff Trax

This week's edition finds me roping back around to Fake Problems. Definitely a fine young band that doesn't sound like a bunch of teenagers making ugly noise.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the bass

What happens when you lose a bassist in a band, but know of somebody who wants to learn to play the instrument? Well, you do your best to get that person a bass and you better know how to play the thing.

That's what has happened in my current band project. Mike from the Pull Tabs politely decided to leave the current project Ryan and I have had going since the Pull Tabs played for the (possibly) final time a few months ago. The music is pretty different and the approach is different, but I'm still enjoying it. And we're doing it from the luxury of my house.

A while back, an idea floated around with forming a doom metal side project with Diana on bass. She had the interest and the desire to learn, so with Mike out of the picture on bass, we decided to teach her the bass first and foremost. Whether or not we actually will play doom metal is moot at this point; we want to play what we want to play.

The thing with bass is that neither Ryan nor I are proficient on bass. I think it's safe to say we could wing it through a band situation that played punk or grunge, but we are definitely no John Myung or James Jamerson. Not even by a mile. When Collective Soul, Bush, and Silverchair were my entry points with how a guitar and bass can play in a rock band, the basics are going to be very basic.

Luckily, Diana, being the pro that she is with everything she wants to do, has taken quite well to the bass. Borrowing a bass and amp from a friend, we have begun to teach a few things about how to play. She understands basic rhythm and has a desire to learn more about the bass and bass lines themselves. Score!

Previously, I had unfortunate luck playing with people on bass before who weren't bass players. Whether the person just sang or just played guitar before, usually there was an element of begging simply to have the low end represented in a band situation.

There was no begging with Diana, and we're going to take our time learning to play together and play something we like. I like the pace and I'm happy to still be playing with people. Playing by yourself can only go so far, you know?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Golf!

Six years ago, I started blogging about the progress of my first book as well as reposting links of stories I found interesting. Today, I'm writing about my foray into golf.

Yes, golf -- that sport that involves men in ugly pants walking. That one.

Since my housemate Matt enjoys playing the sport (and I hope to get some of my own golf clubs soon), I've received some helpful starting points from a few visits to a local driving range. Though my last two trips resulted in pulled back muscles that hurt for days, I still want to stay on the proverbial course and get better.

I've been on a golf course before, way back when I (along with other Boy Scouts) volunteered to carry score signs at a local golf tournament. But as far as playing the sport, Putt-Putt was my ceiling until a few months ago.

I know there is a stigma to the sport, being something rich white dads with plenty of time to kill and no artistic drive do. For me, there is an exercise element that is a good alternative to my usual running for miles at a time. I'm not replacing running with golf; it's more of something else to do.

I must say I enjoy doing this even more and more every time I go out. There's always room to improve and I'm willing to keep up with it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Gaslight Anthem

I saw the Gaslight Anthem play with Rival Schools and Fake Problems. My review is up over at DC9.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Staff Trax

Not to be super-cryptic, but I've enjoyed contributing to the Staff Trax column as well as help edit it together. I wrote a quick little blurb about Disfear this week.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Can I Say

From time to time, I like to update things I covered in POST but had no way of updating since the book came out two years ago.

This little item came from John Davis, formerly of Hoover, Corm, and Q and Not U. He was someone I had to pleasure of getting his perspective on growing up around Dischord in the eighties and nineties. Since I keep in touch with many of the people I interviewed these days via Facebook, I noticed this link today on John's page.

After years of availability as a bootleg, Shawn Brown's very brief tenure with Dag Nasty is finally getting a proper release. Back then, the band was set to release a 7-inch with Dischord, but Shawn left the band and the band got Dave Smalley to sing on what became Can I Say. Since guitarist Brian Baker wrote most of the lyrics in the band, what Shawn sang was almost exactly what Dave sang on the record.

For the collectors and hardcore folks, this is a great snapshot of a band in its infancy. Although Dave's tenure with the band wasn't very long either, the power of Can I Say is still greatly felt. Hearing the anger and frustration in the lyrics and the singing, along with the band's intensity, is something I keep coming back to, whether I'm happy or not.

This new release might be redundant for people who are accustomed to Dave's time with the band, but I'm glad relics from the past have found a release.

Monday, October 04, 2010

At the foot of my rival

When it comes to football rivalries, I am definitely not an expert. How or why they start, I usually have no clue. And why there is a rivalry still in effect, once again, I have no clue.

The big UT/OU game was on Saturday and Dallas was again the midway neutral territory area. Plenty of out-of-towners came and pumped piles of money into the local economy, including some of my favorite bars in Fair Park. (That is a great thing.)

While coming back from dinner with Diana, Ryan, and Matt, an SUV filled with dejected (and drunk) UT fans moaned, "OU sucks." After politely telling these people that everybody in my car did not go to OU (there was one TCU alum, two from UNT, and one from Southern Illinois), they kept moaning how much OU sucked.

The idea of rivalry at TCU is really a joke. As far as what I saw in my four years there, the tension between SMU was more or less about which school was snobbier. Yup, that's it. No spraypainting each other's property. No fistfights over taunts or anything like that.

I was once mistaken for an SMU fan while walking around campus the day of a TCU/SMU game. A dude-bro said "TCU, baby!" and I kept walking in my neutral-colored black and white jacket. Not happy that I didn't respond to him, he called me a "little bitch" as we walked in separate directions.

There are certain universities in Texas that essentially brainwash their students to give a lot to the football program. Whether it's buying season tickets, wearing school colors, or chanting chants, it's part of the curriculum. And that pride is supposed to remain well after graduation.

Maybe because I wasn't forced into the world of TCU football is why I'm a little in the dark about how intense a rivalry can become. I mean, I have only watched one bowl game TCU was in, and that was last year. When it comes to bowl time, I'm hanging out with friends and family and preparing for New Year's; not determining how many games I will watch.