Tuesday, September 30, 2008
People have often been known to argue about it, especially with Bill's and Good Records, competing in a city notorious for not just lacking support for local musicians, but of being often culturally void and fickle, but I've always felt CD World to be the best record store in this town. As a teenager I treasured my visits there, often unloading what at the time seemed to be an absurd sum of money on Mudhoney CDs, Nirvana t-shirts, and assorted vinyl, stickers, and buttons. It was conveniently located in East Dallas (as opposed to Good Records which didn't exist until I was a senior in High School, and Bill's which was in Richardson then), had bargain prices with $8 CDs, and an assortment of general crap which any music fan would love. And unlike Bill's, it was actually organized. And as I got older, the store just kept getting better as I did enjoy perusing the bargain bin of $3 CDs and for every Mariah Carey or Guns 'n Roses CD you'd come across a gem like a hard to find Seaweed or Stanford Prison Experiment record.
And while I may be responsible in some small part for it's demise, what with my complete and total embrace of on-line music piracy (with the exception of local bands), it doesn't mean I'm sad to see it go. In the height of my hypocrisy, there really is still something magical about the record store experience, and I really will miss CD World. As a parting gift though, I did get my ticket for Mudhoney there a few weeks back.
So as though that weren't enough of a bummer day, as the stars aligned also closing yesterday was the Meridian Room. Besides having a killer Guinness Steak Sandwich and half-price food on wednesdays, Meridian Room also provided me so, so many memories. For while I live walking distance from both Lower Greenville and Lakewood, I've always loved Expo Park. It's like Deep Ellum except without the douchebags, trendy bars, and cops. I have fond memories from high school of spending afternoons in what is now Amsterdam Bar (it was then New Amsterdam Coffee Haus) drinking coffee, reading, playing chess, watching 'Walker, Texas Ranger' filmed on the street in front, and buying cigarettes. But this isn't about Expo at large, or Amsterdam, it's about Meridian Room.
The Meridian Room, well, it was a one of a kind place. With Expo Park being right on the cusp of South Dallas, it was the farthest tip of civilization, and yet it was a great European style bar serving fantastic food and great beer (even if Blake is still bitter they got rid of Boddingtons on draft). Flanked by a dive bar (Bar of Soap, also now closed), a '50s style barber shop (Rob's Chop Shop), and what used to be a very strange antique store before becoming the short-lived Sloppyworld-Meridian Room joined Amsterdam Bar in bringing just a touch of drunken class to a chaotic and yet fantastic neighborhood. Whole inside you had so much fun you forgot about being propositioned by 6-month pregnant Mexican hookers as you entered the bar, or the crackheads that would wander over from South Dallas.
Beyond my normal patronage, every year I would meet my out of town friends there for drinks right around Christmas time, including the weirdest reunion ever last year of Elementary School people, which turned out to be a blast. And despite living in Denton, I spent a great many nights there with my now ex-girlfriend, with T-bone, with Trish, with Jordan, and with all manner of people. Maston made the strangest marriage proposal ever there, followed by Stacy's now ex-husband finding some great tacos. And while I do enjoy the Libertine, and it helps that it's 3 blocks from my house, I will always have a place in my heart and a little sadness regarding the closing of the Meridian Room.
So as the Meridian webpage says, Civilization Began With Distillation, and Cheers!
Monday, September 29, 2008
I mean, consider Pac-Man and his various scrapes with the law. I'm not excusing the guy, but if I were a millionaire celebrity I highly doubt my experience at strip clubs would be like it has been. But that's not the point. The real reason I bring that up is this;
Jackonsville Jaguars offensive tackle Richard Collier , shot while sitting
in a car outside an apartment complex earlier this month, is paralyzed below the
waist and his left leg was amputated, his doctor said Monday. Collier was on a
ventilator for about three weeks and has no memory of the shooting, said Dr.
Andy Kerwin, a surgeon for the University of Florida at Shands Jacksonville
"His overall condition has improved greatly," Kerwin said. "We expect him to be discharged soon."Kerwin said Collier suffered 14 bullet
wounds to the back, left groin, left legs and right buttock. In addition, a
bullet severed his spinal cord, causing the paralysis. The amputation was the
result of damage to his left leg and groin, where blood clots formed. Five
bullets alone were removed from his urinary bladder and the 26-year-old player
also had bouts of pneumonia, infections and renal failure.
I am sure there are other circumstances at play. I am sure there's a lot more to this story. But can you imagine being a 25 year old man playing in the NFL-in line for your millions-a physical specimen and a rare talent, and have it all taken away?
Furthermore, can you imagine that same incident taking not just the use of your legs, but also a leg proper? It's just a sad story.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So friday night arrives, I call up some other people, and we decided to make an evening out of it. Start there, watch the debate, and see where the night takes us. There's just one problem....the Landing? Well, they said no dice to watching the debate there. Seems someone forgot to, you know, ask the bar first. So there we are, all planning to meet up but with nowhere to go. At which point, we begin going down the list of alternate bars.
Amsterdam Bar? They usually show it, but they don't want the, ahem, less than enlightened folks attending the State Fair to stop in and create a less than pleasant situation. Besides, the State Fair is a block away and who wants to fight through that traffic? Which also rules out the Meridian Room. Having spent the weekend before (and too much money) at Cosmos, we rule it out and call The Tipp. No dice, they're not showing it. Likewise for the Libertine, and we even called a hail mary and called the Cock & Bull. You getting the theme here? What seemed like a simple task has become nearly impossible....we can't find a bar that will show the debate. Eventually we end up just going to the Dubliner and they graciously allow us to watch it. And serve a really lousy french dip sandwich.
And for my liver's sake the evening probably should have ended there. But it didn't, Nick and Austin talked me into going to the Old Monk which it turns out was having it's Oktoberfest. Which means high alcohol beer served in gigantic 1L glass mugs (which would make as good a weapon as a drinking receptacle, these things weighed like 10lbs). Funny thing about drinking beer in 1L servings, you don't realize how much you're drinking. And while I had a great time (somehow running into a co-worker and three people I hadn't seen in years), it completely ruined my weekend as I spent the entirety of Saturday lamenting my age and inability to drink like I once did.
Friday, September 26, 2008
But also factoring into the mix, is television. Over the past few weeks some of our favorite shows have returned, but this was the big week where everything returned and the new shows debuted. So needless to say, the Tivo has been working doubletime to record everything as needed and provide it to me commercial free during non-primetime hours.
Let me start off by saying do yourself a favor, get into Sons of Anarchy on FX. It's brilliant, it's great, and wildly entertaining. As I mentioned in this entry when I was previewing the Fall TV lineup, it reminds me a lot of Oz, without the carte blanche HBO had for violence, sex, and swearing. And while I wasn't sold on the first episode, after three episodes I'm totally on board. And it seems I'm not the only one. It's not too late, this wednesday is just episode four and FX re-runs everything into the ground. Get on board, it's freaking great.
Speaking of great, last night's season premiere of The Office was fucking hilarious. There has been the occasional dud of an episode, and last night was certainly not one of them. I wasn't positive they could make this hour long episode thing work, but they have. Those writers need to get a raise, because I haven't laughed that hard in ages. It was awesome. Jim and Pam finally got engaged, Angela's cheating on Toby with Dwight, and Michael in fatsuit doing that character is hilarious.
ER returned as well. I can't believe they killed off Dr. Pratt. I really liked that character, and while I've long been an ER fan I think even I am ready for the show to finally end. They've killed off so many good characters over the years, it just gets tiring. Couldn't they just keep killing off secondary characters like that Army reservist doctor (Dr. Gallant?) who died in Iraq and Dr. Romano instead of Dr. Green and Ray?
All that, and I've still got to get through this week's episodes of Fringe, My Name Is Earl, and Heroes. Life's rough, huh?
Monday, September 22, 2008
I would never claim to be an expert on MMORPGs (short for Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games, and shortened further to MMOs). As a lad I spent a fair amount of time playing the original Everquest until I got frustrated with having my Savant's Cap looted for the 14th time (yes, was a pvp server, you will see a theme). I played the original Neverwinter Nights on AOL, back when a 56k modem was the shit and you paid by the minute for internet access-and my parents almost killed me for it. Before EQ and after NWN I spent a fair amount of time playing text-based MUDs (short for multi-user dungeons) such as Gemstone III and Dragonrealms. After a few year break, my second year in college I got talked into Dark Age of Camelot, in which I spent over three years-and which is still my favorite MMO ever. During and since I've flirted with and/or had short stints with Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft (sold my account for $500 to buy my girlfriend at the time a Valentines gift), Lord Of The Rings Online, and finally a few months back spent about 5 weeks with Age of Conan before realizing it was fucking terrible.
The point of all this isn't to stroke my own ego, as though admitting that i've wasted chunks of my life on pointless MMOs is some sort of badge of honor (and let me assure you, it's not), but instead to give some credence when I claim that I do, in fact, have some experience with this genre. And while me and MMOs tend have a very bad relationship, ever since the death of Granarc and my soon-after departure from Dark Age Of Camelot (henceforth known as DAOC), I've been looking for the next one. The one that will finally grab my attention, will depart from the tired MMO formula and offer me something new.
And finally, I think I've found it.
Warhammer Online (henceforth known as WAR) isn't perfect. As someone that didn't participate in beta and did barely any research into it going in, I was extremely frustrated with it early on. The game does an absolutely abysmal job of explaining itself. When you start, short of some vague tooltips, you're on your own to figure out wtf you're supposed to do and how things work.
But while it's not perfect, it's damn good. For transparency's sake, I'm currently sitting pretty as a rank 13 (of 40) Goblin Shaman (see picture above) on Phoenix Throne server, so no I'm not at the end game and it could easily shit a brick for the last several levels after a promising start the way Age of Conan did. I'm just reviewing what I've seen.
In the classic Mythic way, leveling is slow. Over the first week I've got 24 hours /played and that's gotten me to level 13, and while there are only 40 levels I'd consider that a bit slow. That said, unlike classic Mythic levelling isn't a grind to end all grinds. If memory serves I was sitting somewhere around 50 days /played when I hit 50 on DAoC, and it was even worse for EQ, this isn't nearly that bad. More importantly though, levelling is a blast in WAR.
RvR (their twist on player versus player combat where its instead realm versus realm, as it was in DAOC) is a core element to leveling, you secure not only a very nice return of XP for your time through RVR, but you can do it starting at level 1. That's right, there's no carrot and stick where you have to grind PvE (player versus enemy, against the AI) to get to the fun stuff (PvP). From the get go there are scenarios (instanced RvR engagements, much like in World of Warcraft) set up for each set of 10ish levels in the game (insuring a relatively even battlefield) that will provide you with not only the XP to level, but also Renown Points, which are just as they sound-and are spendable for items as well as garnering ranks and titles.
So if you're a PvP junkie like me (needing the thrill of fighting others rather than a silly AI), you can queue up for a scenario at anytime, anywhere, and go about your PvE business-the game will alert you when a slot opens up, and you can enter it, and when it ends you're right back where you started. It's beautiful. Seriously.
The PvE is pretty straightforward. The game seems very soloable, although there is grouping to be done if that's your thing. There's a very nice mix of classes between the races, with lots of unique roles and abilities, and most importantly a fair amount of customization. No one likes being pigeonholed into a role, and you've got options.
And in the classic DAoC twist, beyond the PvE and instanced RvR, there is world RvR. Even at lvl 10, there are overlapping zones where you will run into your enemies and be forced to fight or flee. There are world objectives to be captured, and bonuses to be had as a result. It's the coup de grace that WoW never had-RvR not only matters, but isn't bottled up into instances.
If you're a DAoC fan, buy this game. If you're a soured WoW player, buy this game. If you made the mistake I did thinking AoC would be worth a damn, don't let it sour you and give WAR a try. If you're still playing CS, then don't bother.
Seriously, it's good....it's damn good. It's fun, lots of fun.
Friday, September 19, 2008
It's of Dallas Maverick's forward Josh Howard "disrespecting" the singing of the National Anthem by saying he's black and he "doesn't do that shit" before claiming the merits of Obama.
And while of course the video riled up so many peoples sensibilities, personally I couldn't give two shits what Josh Howard thinks about the the National Anthem or politics, just as I don't care that he smokes pot in the off-season. My concern with Josh Howard starts and stops with his performance on the basketball court. But of course, I'm in the minority, and a great many people are "outraged" at his disrespect for America (is there a point where blatant nationalism is going to run it's course?), of which many seem to be active military, military veterans, and racists. Also not surprising-everyone's got an agenda. I'm betting a bunch of San Antonio Spurs fans are all over it too.
What is interesting though, is how many of them wrote e-mails to Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. And what's even more fascinating, is that Cuban decided to publish many of them-names and e-mail address included-on his blog, Blog Maverick. The following are just a few excerpts, you can read all of them at the above link to Cuban's blog.
Author : Barack Obama (IP: 22.214.171.124 ,
E-mail : Nigga4life@coon.com
URL : http://Watermellon
HOWARD IS NOTHING BUT A DUMB COON NIGGER. SOMEONE NEEDS TO
TEACH HIS MONKEY
ASS SOME DAM RESPECT FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
Classy stuff, eh? And while that guy was smart enough (despite being an obvious idiot) to use a fake name and e-mail address, a lot of people were not so smart. We start with the very compelling and well thought-out "if you hate America then leave" argument from this guy;
From: “Billy Leto”
Date: 09/18/2008 09:20 AM
Subject: are you
Tell Howard that him and Hussein Obama can go to another
country and live if they don’t want to support our symbol of freedom.–
I don't think there's any question which way that guy is going to be voting in November. And man, with that sort of impeccable argument I just don't see how Josh Howard can do anything but move to China. Speaking of which;
From: George Bannon
Date: 09/18/2008 08:25 PM
Subject: MARK &
TEAM NEED TO MOVE TEAM AND YOU TO MOSCOW RUSSIA OR CUBA OR CHINA ETC.ETC.
1ST STRIKE - YOU HAD THE ANTI-AMERICAN CANADIAN PIG VOMIT ON YOUR
2ND STRIKE - YOU FUNDED ANTI-AMERICAN/TROOPS MOVIE
3RD STRIKE - “I DONT DO THIS SHIT’ DURING MY NATIONAL ANTHEM
- THIS NATION MADE YOU PIG VOMITS RICH BEYOND MY DREAMS AND THIS IS HOW
YOU REPAY US. THREE STRIKES YOUR OUT! TELL PIG VOMIT HE IS FREE TO MOVE OUT OF
MY COUNTRY ANYTIME HE WANTS. TRY CHINA,THEY HAVE FREE SPEACH -
Apparently he's so angry he couldn't be bothered to turn off the capslock. You know, or make any sort of rational argument or point....or anything that's remotely even readable.
And while the bulk of them were just eye-rolling diatribes about how he disrespected American and they won't watch basketball anymore or go to Mavs games or blah, blah, blah, sadly a great many of them were of course, racial in nature.
From: “stephen rogers”
Date: 09/17/2008 09:34 PM
Just saw your nigger Josh Howard disresepct the national anthem
because he is black. According to the news you say he is a really great guy. Of
course he is because he makes you lots of money you greedy bastard.
You would rather sell out your own country that my dead father fought
for in WW II than than lose a buck by firing this black bastard.
You are nothing more than a nigger slave owner milking him for all his
black ass can get you.
YOU, SIR IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY. YOU AND
THAT NIGGER YOU CALL NICE.
There’s lots of black dick on that team, get busy. White power is
coming back because of race traitors like you.
Know what you get when you cross a nigger and a white nigger lover ?
a WHIGGER. THAT IS YOU !!!!
Mark WHIGGER Cuban.
A White storm is brewing Mr. Cuban, you and those niggers like you better
show details 9:29 AM (14 hours ago)
“I don’t even celebrate that shit. I’m black.”
You & Howard…two peas in a pod.Don’t think we’ve forgotten about
that Brian De Palma anti-military propaganda film, “Redacted”, that you
produced, CubanYa might tell Howard the next time you talk to him, that if
not for America, he’d probably be throwing spears in Africa
someplace instead of free-throws.
That's just a nice sample of the great display of American idiocy being put on display for all the world to see at Blog Maverick. If you've got a few minutes read through it, seriously-it will blow your mind. I mean we all knew that these people existed, but to see them put on display without internet anonymity is a great thing.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
And so just like that, it's finally time to take the rest of my vacation for the year. What with my employer forbidding vacation in October, November, December, and most of January that leaves a pretty small window to get it in. And having three days left, I'll be damned if I wasn't going to take it.
This will be the first time in a while I've taken a vacation and not traveled (Shreveport, Las Vegas, Portland, etc.) but the weather is fantastic. So, I will spend most of the next few days outdoors. Fishing tomorrow followed by a little golf, then golf on thursday, and golf on saturday followed by beer drinking and watching college football, both in Denton.
I tell you all this just to say hey, if you're in Dallas thursday and want to play some golf, or in Denton on saturday and want to play...lemme know....we could use some more. And further to say, I don't have shit to do for the next few days, so if you've got something going on gimme a shout.
Or else they just spend every morning doing a google or icerocket search regarding their product. Regardless, with Newcastle last week's selection for Booze Of The Week, I got this today;
I work with Newcastle Brown Ale and we’re glad you chose NBA as your blog’s “Booze of the Week.” Although we do love it year-round we agree that it’s a great fall weather beer. Since you also write about music we thought you might be interested in NBA’s latest news: Newcastle Brown Ale is offering music fans the chance to go to the Glastonbury Music Festival in England – free! I’ve included the official announcement below. I hope you’ll include this in an upcoming article or round-up. If you’d like more info, please let me know.
Cheers, Kat Kirsch
I won't waste your time with the press release they attached, the gist of it being that they're doing a contest to win an all expenses paid trip to the Glastonbury Music Festival, with the 10 runner ups getting a pretty bad-ass guitar which would probably be much more impressive if I actually played guitar. Anyway you enter by mailing in an entry form found at grocery stores.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
It's starting to cool down outside, so it's time to jettison those watery Pilsners which make for a decent hot weather drink but can easily be substituted with something darker as the weather gets cooler. Which isn't to say it's cold yet, so while it might be a little early in the year for a nice dark Porter, it's perfect for a nice Ale. Especially if you're in Texas getting pelted with rain and wind right now. And so, Newcastle Brown Ale is this week's selection for Booze Of The Week.
As the name suggests, Newcastle is a Brown Ale, and in many regards it's as generic a brown ale as you're going to get. Not heavily aromatic, not overly hoppy, and most certainly not overly complex. It's a simple beer with a slightly nutty and caramel taste as a result of the roasting of the malt (which is what gives it it's color). Some people claim to taste notes of peach with it, something I don't get at all-but that's half the fun right? It's a great introduction to brown ales, and more importantly perfect for sipping in the cool fall weather.
In Newcastle, the beer is often called simply "dog," with the name being a euphemism of "I'm going to go walk the dog" or "I've got to see a man about a dog" which means you're going to the pub. It has been brewed in Tyne & Wear, England since 1927.
So grab yourself a pint or a six pack, have a few drinks, and of course let me know what you think. Cheers.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Every time I promise myself that I will work on controlling my temper, I always end up making a scene.
This time, it wasn’t my fault. All I wanted was a bagel. A bagel, a cup of coffee, and perhaps a spot near a window where I could idly watch the traffic go by as I browsed through the newspaper and licked cream cheese from my fingers. But apparently the Gods were not on my side.
Today I got in line behind a middle aged woman in a fur coat who was barking orders at the poor bagel girl like she was a dumb misbehaving dog. Fur Coat was ordering multiple bagel sandwiches from a list, but instead of ordering them in such a way that would make sense, she was attempting to order them all at the same time. The Bagel Girl was obviously confused and you could tell by her shaking hands that Fur Coat’s harsh tone was intimidating her. Finally, Fur Coat snapped, “I said light butter on that bagel! Light butter! Jesus!”
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I cut in, “You don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”
Fur Coat glared daggers at me and stated, “I’m not.”
“Well, I beg to differ.”
With a disgusted ‘Hrmph,’ Fur Coat went back to her overly complicated order, but she did so quietly and even managed to begrudge the poor girl a ‘Thank you’ after she was finished.
I have a theory about asshole customers: I think they only act that way because no one ever calls them on their bullshit. The poor kids behind the counter can’t stand up for themselves lest they lose their jobs and other patrons look the other way claiming ‘it’s none of my business.’
Fuck that. When I see some self important asshole verbally degrading a teenaged kid with dead eyes behind a counter, it ruins my day. So, I say some shit. Besides, I feel that if I stay silent, I am almost giving an abuser permission to act like a raging asshole. Ignoring their behavior suggests to them on some sick level that what they’re doing is Ok.
It’s not OK.
The phrase ‘The Customer is Always Right’ is the single worst philosophy that has ever been adopted by American culture. It gave an entire generation of people the green light to be as impolite, unreasonable, and demanding as their little hearts desired because they were always going to be considered right. It destroyed the entire concept of courtesy and rendered manners obsolete. People began to treat their peers in the service industry like incompetent morons, lacking in feelings or human dignity, who deserved to be browbeaten and abused for no other reason than they had the audacity to run out of a particular brand of coffee.
Furthermore, instead of suffering negative repercussions for their appallingly disrespectful behavior, they are awarded with free coupons and plenty of ass kissing. In reality, they should be shunned and humiliated for behaving like such self absorbed little children.
Speaking of respect, another idea that has ruined American culture is the one that states, ‘I don’t give respect freely. You have to earn my respect.’ This one is most often uttered by punk kids with bad attitudes and black fingernail polish.
Fucking gag me.
I mean, how egotistical does one have to be to automatically assume that their respect is so fucking important that one must jump through multiples hoops in order to earn it? How about we give people respect because they are humans with lives and feelings just as important as our own? Why not give people a default level of respect and more or less can either be won or lost based on the behavior of the individual? The loss of respect is something that should be based on actions. The idea that that one must win basic respect in the first place is incredibly belittling. How narcissistic can you be to embrace that ideology?
A few Sundays ago, my husband and I went out to breakfast. If anyone has ever attempted to go out to breakfast on a Sunday morning, they know that restaurants are usually packed around then. We were finally seated and our server was not only very busy, but also a new employee according to her ‘Hi! I’m new!’ nametag.
I’d like to say that everyone in her section was very understanding. The place was a madhouse and she was obviously out of her element. I wish I could say that the patrons in that restaurant were mannerly and polite and treated her with even an ounce of dignity and consideration. But, if I did, I’d be fucking lying.
Nearly everyone yelled at her or condescended to her like she was a stupid little child. One guy ordered a side of ‘home fries’ and reamed her ass when she brought him French fries. Had he looked at the menu a little closer, he would have seen that ‘home fries’ weren’t listed. This particular restaurant only served French fries or hash browns. Her mistake was understandable and he was basically yelling at her because she didn’t read his mind accurately enough.
But let’s all forget about that for just a moment. Instead, I want to point out that there are a multitude of things that can go wrong in one’s life. Death, illness, and poverty just to name a few. Yet, here I was watching a grown man lose his fucking shit because he was going to have to wait 5 minutes for a side of hash browns. Suddenly, I lost my appetite.
At this point, the angry little man demanded to speak to a manager and a kowtowing corporate whore scuttled over with free coupons and many apologies. The angry man furiously demanded that his waitress be fired right that instant. Over hash browns.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I leaned over and interrupted, “When you’re finished talking to this man, I’d like to speak to you. I have the same server.”
The angry man smiled smugly, no doubt convinced that I was going to back him up on his quest to get a new girl fired because he had to wait 5 fucking minutes.
The manager finished with him and moped over to my table ready for his second tongue lashing of the day. I surprised him by loudly saying, “I just want you to know that our server is doing the best that she can. She’s been trying very hard and has been very sweet to us even though that asshole has treated her so poorly.”
The manager suddenly looked panicked and started shooting terrified looks at the table that just finished reaming him out. “I know,” he whispered fearfully, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to fire her.”
And while I was pleased to learn that this particular manager wasn’t going to fire the new girl based on the whim of some fat ass piece of trailer trash, I was disappointed that he rewarded said trash’s temper tantrum with free food. I long for the day a manager walks up to a table and says, “How dare you treat my employee this way. Get out now.”
I’m sure they want to, but that ridiculous policy ‘The Customer is Always Right’ silences them. So until we banish that phrase from American culture forever, I suggest we quit looking the other way when people behave like scumbags.
After all, technicalities may suggest that they are always right, but that doesn’t make them any less an asshole.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
But with the return of these staples, always comes the debut of new series' like this year's redux of Beverly Hills: 90210. Most of these series will end up being complete and total failures (see: Cavemen), but occasionally you will get something of quality. Think of it as the networks wielding one giant shotgun and firing blindly and just praying something hits the target.
After football on Sunday I watched one of Fox's new offerings, Hole In The Wall. It's a spin-off from an Australian gameshow that was originally ripped off from a Japanese gameshow. The premise is that theres this wall coming at contestants and they have to contort themselves to get through the wall lest they get pushed into water. Or for more television gold, if they're really fat they'll just fall through the wall. Yes folks, this is primetime television. And yes, it's as stupid and mindless as it sounds.
Will it survive? Probably, atleast for a little while. I'd imagine the slapstick spectacle humor will fade with time and the show will fade with it (think: Man Getting Hit In Crotch With Football from that episode of The Simpsons), but in a country that's given Jeff Foxworthy multiple fifteen minute sets of fame and is somehow enamored with Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? when American Idol is off-season, well let's just say I'm not convinced the American public won't suck up just about any show. If you want my take on the shows, it's this: if you're really, really fucked up-I'm talking absolutely hammered-and don't have any friends who will talk to you and your internet isn't working, well then by all means give it 30m of your time. Now that's a ringing endorsement.
Which isn't to say that all the television this fall will be terrible. Heroes returns in a couple weeks, House returns next tuesday, and we've got two more weeks of the very, very under-rated Burn Notice on USA. And I guess I should mention Lost for those of you into that (I personally just can't get into it). And there are a couple new shows that I've got interest in.
The pilot episode of Sons Of Anarchy on FX showed a lot of promise, I'm interested in seeing the second episode this week. It's a show about a California biker gang (think: Hell's Angels but smaller) and the ebb and flow of the criminal landscape, where the black gangs, Mexican gangs, white gangs, and the smaller players all compete for a piece of the pie running guns, selling drugs, etc. It's like Oz on motorcycles and not in prison. And without the anal rape. Knowing FX they're running that pilot into the ground, so give it a shot if you've got a spare evening.
And finally, there's Fringe which debuted tonite on Fox. It seems to be the most critically hyped show of this fall season, with most critics comparing it favorably to the X-Files. As far as I can tell the only real similarity it has to the X-Files is that both deal with the paranormal and/or strange government experiments to mimic the paranormal. Fringe doesn't have the acting of the X-Files or the great duo that was Mulder & Scully. It also appears that it will delve far into the character's personal lives (and sadly, love stories) and be much more morally black and white whereas the X-Files usually dealt in shades of grey. Then again, they could surprise me and take the show in another direction-the plot twist at the end of the pilot episode was enough to atleast get me back in front of my TV to watch next week's episode (along with the fact that House immediately follows it, hehe). It's not bad, I don't want to make it sound that way-it's just that it's not the X-Files as they are trying to make you believe, atleast not yet. The pilot episode ran just over 90m with very limited commercials and will be re-airing Sunday night after football if you're interested in giving it a try.
And finally, the Max Payne movie starring Mark Wahlberg is set for an October 17 release and looks as though it's going to live up to the film noir with John Woo style action of it's namesake. Yes I'm a sucker for video game spin-off movies, especially for games I like (see: Hitman), but this looks really good. As does Burn After Reading.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
With all due apology to those of you that live outside of Texas and/or don't have access to a Whole Foods, Shiner 99 is this week's Booze Of The Week. If you can't get it, well, that sucks for you. For what better beverage to mark the beginning of football season and the total waste of a day that becomes Saturday and Sunday, than ice cold beer. And no, just any beer will not do, no sir, we want something to mark the importance that is this weekend, and this is probably the best new beer outside of Portland I've tried in the past few years.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
1) About the time I encountered Slipknot. It was Ozzfest, I think 2001 but I could be off a year in either direction, in Dallas. Anyway I was working for Drowning Pool at the time and was backstage with T-bone as we're moving around some equipment and just taking in the sights. This shitty nu-metal band called Slipknot had broken that summer, they were the next big thing. They were also playing before Drowning Pool. So as their set ends, they leave the stage and walk by me. I give the little silent nod meant to signify, "hey man, nice set" that you give to any band. To which one of the masked members shouts, quite loudly, "hey! we're not signing autographs!" as the band literally pushes it's way past me. I couldn't have picked the members of this band out of a lineup, and they had the self-importance to think that I had any interest in all in their autograph. It spoke volumes about them.
2) How do people fall for their act? I mean their entire act is about image. They join the long line of metal bands since KISS that's increasingly pushed the envelope to try and portray an "evil" image to sell records. Which then leads me to the broader idea of image in rock music, something I've pondered quite a bit over the years and thought I'd write about here.
You see, every artist has an image. As my homeboy Mr. Advertising, or any business student would tell you, creating an image is part of creating a brand. And creating a brand is paramount to successfully selling anything. Be it an automobile, toothpaste, or music the people in the suits strive to create a brand for their product, helping to ensure it's longevity and profitability. Perfecting this technique is what allows them to give the world the New Kids On The Block, Spice Girls, Brittany Spears, and more recently the Jonas Brothers. Those are the extreme example, as they're musicians (and I use that term loosely) put together with the sole intent of creating an image they can parlay into a brand and into millions of dollars. But you see while every artist has an image, what I always wonder is how often that image is authentic and how often it's been contrived by the men in the suits.
I think a great case in point for this, is the Sex Pistols. When they formed in 1975 as a part of the UK punk scene, what were their intentions? Were they really punks, decrying the establishment...were they sincere to their image, and to that of '70s punk? Did they really believe it? Or was their formation and subsequent fame nothing but a means to a paycheck. Maybe they were originally true to their image and the spectre of fame and fortune just proved to be too much? Regardless, 30 years later when they refuse to attend their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because it's a "piss stain," it's really hard to give them any credibility whatsoever when they've whored themselves out to do five reunion tours so they can pay the bills. The punk ethos has always been opposed to success, and while apparently Rancid has been able to navigate the dichotomy between the two (being punk and somewhat popular), Green Day was never so lucky. When Green Day hit it big, the punk community turned their collective backs on them.
That said, Green Day hasn't abandoned their image. With American Idiot and their subsequent political records and songs, Green Day has maintained a punk image, albeit in the mainstream. What I always wonder, is how much of that is being created and encourage by agents, labels, and A&R reps and how much of it is organic.
The one that always gets me, is Nirvana. It's not secret to anyone that's known me for a while that I was a huge Nirvana fan in my youth, and still am to some degree. Much like most of the early '90s bands, their image was as uncaring, as being about the music. It's an off-shoot of the punk ethos, just without the political bent, and it's the antithesis of the '80s glam rock image which was about not caring and doing things to excess while at the same time caring about your hair, makeup, and making the show a spectacle. Throughout their career, in interviews and in press releases, Nirvana was marketed as just that-a grunge band that didn't care about anything but the music, there was no elaborate shows, no high fashion, no over-production. With slight twists, most of the early '90s grunge bands fall into that image. Sure Pearl Jam had a little more of a political aspect to them (see: the Ticketmaster Anti-Trust Lawsuit) and Soundgarden a little bit of an arena-rock feel, but as a whole the group shared a similar image.
And it's the fact that they shared it, and just how it was the opposite of the '80s Glam Metal thing, that's always had me wondering-was it organic or was it something contrived by the suits? The music is good, so I guess on one hand it's pretty irrelevant, but it's still something I wonder. It's the same way I wonder who was the first gangster rapper and how many of the subsequent ones were organic and how many were failing rappers that realized if they jumped on the bandwagon and adopted the gangster image they could sell records and make a nice living, much the same way Pantera went from glam to metal and Diamond Darrel became Dimebag Darrell.
A part of me wants to believe that all artists (excluding the NKOTB's and Spice Girls of the world) are organically who they were when they start, and that when and if they reach fame and fortune they will continue to be who they were before. I think we all want to believe that. But then I think about the Marilyn Mansons and Slipknots of the world, and realize that it's just not the case. Nobody puts on "scary" masks and decides to adopt generic faux-metal/hardcore as their sound because they're true to the music, they do it to make a buck. If disco had been the counter-culture trend, I imagine Slipknot would be a disco act with a less threatening name. And I guess in the end that's ok, so long as we all realize it, the sad part is all the naive high school kids that buy it hook, line, and sinker and really believe that these guys care about the music. And then I think back to Rage Against The Machine, and how much I loved them in high school, and wonder if I'm just that naive kid having grown up a bit.
Why do I have a feeling that we're going to be the statistical outlier to the American majority that's watching the crap on the major networks. Other than House and Law & Order, I don't think there's a single program on the major four networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox) I watch even rarely (excluding of course Sports). T-bone watches the Mid-day news, and I think that about covers it for this household.
USA, TNT, History, Discovery, Cartoon, CNN, FNC, and Comedy make up the bulk of our television consumption, and while nationally I am most certainly in the minority I like to thing that among college-educated people between ages 20 and 35 this would be atleast a little less of a minority.
Regardless, this being a Nielsen home is nothing but good news for Burn Notice (damn you and your 3 week break before finishing the season), NCAA Football, the NFL, and Dick Wolf (creator of the Law & Order Franchise).
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
So, here I am watching the Fred Thompson speech. It was a good speech, a great speech. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to comment on a few of the points he made.
-First off, the biggest applauses of the night came when he made pro-life statements. It never ceases to amaze me, but I really think that most of the people that go to the RNC-and to most of the party's base-that really is the biggest issue. That's it. They don't care about taxes, defense, whatever-all they really care about is abortion. Which isn't to say liberals aren't generally passionate about being pro-choice, it's just that doesn't seem to be the only issue that really matters.
-I really have a hard time finding a Republican denouncing bureaucracy credible. George W. Bush has got to have overseen the largest growth in American bureaucracy since LBJ, if not Franklin Roosevelt. I understand anti-bureaucracy was once a Republican platform, but I think that ship has sailed.
-Likewise, I really have a hard time finding a Republican denouncing rampant spending after the past eight years. Again, I know on paper it's a Republican platform-but come on, you can't pretend that the debt hasn't ballooned.
-I love, I really do, that McCain has continued to be so against pork barrel spending and congressional earmarks. In fact, to me, that was the best point Thompson made about him. If John McCain would really eliminate pork barrel spending, well then he would be a fantastic President. The thing is, does anyone really believe he will do it?
-Ok, not to be petty, but how is it Democrats are so, so much better looking on average than Republicans? If you compare the audience of the two conventions, it's just night and day. On the same note, the RNC has far fewer visual pleasantries than the DNC did. The arena is bland and other than the projector behind the dais the RNC appears oblivious to 21st century technology. Other than being broadcast in HD, it looks like the 1984 RNC. I know it's not really relevant, just saying....
-I'm a little surprised that the GOP is still pushing the inexperience angle against McCain, I really thought they'd abandon that after making Palin the VP nominee. I really think that could backfire if they keep pushing it.
-Ok, small note on the Lieberman speech. The applause Lieberman expected when he mentioned that John McCain was going to do something about global warming? Well, let's just say it never happened. Funny stuff, as Lieberman is definately using the Democratic buzzwords to talk up McCain. Oh Jesus, now he's praising Clinton? What the fuck is Lieberman thinking? And that applause was even smaller.
-I wish they were televising Ron Paul's quasi-convention from tonight. I'd actually like to watch that.
-Tee hee, you can tell it's a network with a possible liberal slant (ABC at the moment) when they break away from the Lieberman speech to show footage of the police tear gassing protestors outside the RNC.
-Ok, seriously, we get it.....McCain was a POW. He's a veteran. We get it.
Now, time for some TF2. Cheers.