29 September 2008

Dinosaur Jr / Built to Spill - Terminal 5 9/26/08

After a couple days of letting Friday night's big event simmer in my brain (read: procrastinate), I will now attempt to do justice to the awesomeness that Dinosaur Jr and Built to Spill. To begin, let's discuss the venue, Terminal 5. This is not a fun place to get to given its location in the middle of nowhere in Manhattan's far West 50s. Inside it's not necessarily a bad place, though I recommend heading up into the balconies for better sound. You can see alright from the floor, but your ears will not enjoy it. I'm not sure what this place was before it became Terminal 5, but I get the impression it was a run-of-the-mill club kinda place. Those places aren't so much designed for the acoustics as they are for listening to shit sounds on coke. Anyway, I digress...

Arriving late for the 7:30 kickoff, we missed probably 85% of Meatpuppets set, which kinda sucks 'cos for the last 3 songs they were bounding around the stage like the three old crazy people that they are. Then...

Falling into a twilight zone in which my 27yr old universe is suddenly transposed onto my 14yr old universe, J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Emmett Patrick Murphy appeared on stage, fiddled with their gear and turned the time machine's knob to 1987. "The Lung" was first up and for no particular reason thought it an interesting choice. They followed that by warping to the future with two tracks off Beyond and then zooming back for more early stuff. We really had no idea what their setlist rationale was going to be heading in; all early stuff from the first three records?..mostly new material from Beyond?..a smattering here and there of everything?

Well, it turns out it was the latter, as they played at least one track from every album except Hand It Over, and that was basically a J solo album anyhow so no real loss. I can't claim to remember everything they played, but they got in "Out There", "Feel the Pain", "Freak Scene", "Repulsion" (one of my personal favorites), "No Bones", "The Wagon" and one or two more (maybe "In A Jar"?). I'll admit I screwed my memory up by a) getting stoned before the show, and b) listening to the original three albums in a row on Saturday. Do I keep a notebook on me at all times? Yes. Did I write down what they were playing while they were playing it? Of course I did not. The important thing is that I finally got to see my favorite band (and guitar hero) live and kicking ass with a cheshire grin slapped on my mug. Oh, I should also mentioned they closed with two covers, "Just Like Heaven" and an early hardcore song that nobody could place at all. If anybody knows what they played, do let me know so that I can feel stupid when I read it and say to myself, "Why didn't I recognize that?"

While we tried to stretch our aging legs and keep too much blood from pooling in our feet, Built to Spill hit the stage in a six-man triangle formation: their usual quartet augmented by a cellist/keyboarder and a third tour guitarist. They played 1997's Perfect From Now On from start to finish; a spectacular, if subdued, performance marred only by Doug fiddling with a broken guitar strap during, ironically, "Stop the Show". Their decision to perform this particular one is curious given that though it's an amazingly lush, considerate piece in it's entirety, it doesn't really "rock" as hard as Keep It Like A Secret. I'll also admit that until fairly recently I wasn't as familiar with Perfect... as I was with Keep It... since the latter had come out just before I went to college. They did perform an "encore" of sorts with three tracks off that album, though, which got the crowd pumped up.

The grand finale occurred as BTS jammed out their set and J Mascis wandered on stage, jazzmaster in hand. Everyone was expecting him to start playing along, but then out of nowhere Kurt Kirkwood usurps the drum throne setting in motion a chain of events that included Chris Kirkwood impromptu "storytelling" then wrestling guitar-Brett from BTS and culminated in an awful jam session that pretty much everyone wanted to end, but none of the dudes on stage could really figure out how. An utterly glorious catastrophe to behold, though a proper encore would have been much preferable.

Overall a fantastic show simply because of what it was. Of course I would have maybe prefered to have been a teenager again with that sort of energy during Dinosaur's set, but hell, when I was a teenager the original lineup had long since disbanded. So I don't mind taking what I can get now and wallowng in its reinvigorated awesomeness.

I Was Hungover Today So Just Hold Your Horses

Tomorrow when I'm at work I'll write up a little thing about Friday's show, but for now you can just content yourself with this video I stumbled upon. Ever wonder what J and Uma Thurman talked about when they dated in high school? I do, though I'm sure Uma did most of the talking.

27 September 2008

Dinosaur Jr

Is the greatest. Actual show review to come later. I'm going to sleep.

26 September 2008

Katie Couric v. Sarah Palin

I don't watch the evening news on television, nor did I ever watch the Today show when Ms. Couric was on that, so my ability to compare interview styles and/or toughness are lacking here. But let's face it, no matter how Couric stands up, the real focus here is on Sarah Palin.

She's had a couple weeks since that Charles Gibson interview to hunker down and cram on policy issues, though clearly whatever she studied for wasn't on this "test". Frankly, this is just embarrassing and she's gonna get her ass handed to her when she finally debates "Screamin' Joe" Biden. Four years of McCain/Palin is stacking up to be even worse than what we have going on now. Hear that? WORSE!

This interview is cringeworthy and anyone who seriously believes this woman is qualified to run anything needs their head examined. To paraphrase my man Dennis Kucinich: WAKE THE FUCK UP AMERICA!

24 September 2008

XXX @ Work? You Betcha!

Thanks to Tyler for sending this my way. I like eating corn, too.

Update: "Unforgiven III"

The intro to this song is one of the lamest things I've ever heard. I was going to say one of the "gayest" songs ever. But that's not fair at all and I don't want to start a firestorm over my use of incendiary and incredibly offensive language (see what I did there?).

Also, the rest of the song sucks.

Now, "All Nightmare Long" is a good song. Listen to that one again before your ears revolt.

Metallica - Death Magnetic

This work was a long time coming. People everywhere (that care) have been all up-in-arms saying, "Metallica is BACK!" and then making minor qualifying statements about certain elements of the album. I have to agree to an extent, this is far closer to pre-Black Album Metallica than anything they've released in the 20 years since ...And Justice For All. The guitars are thrashy, punchy, crunchily distorted with none of whatever garbage that Bob Rock threw into all of the mixes when they joined forces with him. Hetfield's "bark" is back, or as back as it could be since his long locks are long gone. The lyrics are adolescent, but that was predictable since they've never been that interesting to begin with. Kirk lays down some serious riffage and has brought back the "late '80s thrash solo" which merely means, "I'm solely going to play a ton 32nd and 64th notes right here so deal with it." And while there will never be another Cliff, Robert Trujillo is more than capable of making himself heard and seems to have been allowed a far greater role in writing than Jason Newsted ever was.

As far as any of the above go, it's really what most people have already written. Amazing, really, because the reviews have been so consistent to point out the exact same things while each review exclaims, "Yeah, Metallica is Back!" Well, here's the problem; as much as I agree with all of them that this is a little bit exciting and that this is way better than anything since '88...Lars is still the drummer. Let's face it Lars sucks. He's the shittiest drummer in any notable metal band and has been since Metallica charged out. He got away with his weaknesses for a while but by the time ...And Justice... dropped it was clear that he had no chops. It's unfortunate that at the same time that they lost Cliff they also had to try and cover up for the fact that their drummer had run out of ideas and had been holding them back. We'll never know what Metallica could really have become because of these two factors, but it's clear on this album that there was a ceiling and they hit it by '88. Some of Lars' drum parts are so juvenile and simplistic that anybody familiar with a drumkit has to acknowledge that he's just not a good drummer; there are some beats in here that are not there for any effect other than, "Shit, I can't actually do anything awesome here, so I'll just play this."

But whatever, in the final observation all that anybody cares about is that this is the first Metallica album in 20 years that's worth cranking. Somebody should have stoned Bob Rock to death long ago, but I guess none of us understood that he was the major issue in their album construction because of the several other glaring issues present. Rick Rubin has brought out the good old Metallica, so proper gratitude must be floated his way. Death Magnetic doesn't get super high marks, but it's definitely worth picking up...er, downloading. Definitely download it. Do it for Lars.

17 September 2008

Best Beards In Sports, Part II

Man, the more research I do on this, the more sites I'm finding dedicated to keeping track of all the awesome facial hair in sports. To stay relevant I'm going to find the overlooked treasures lurking in corners, the poetic statements on the irrelevancy of the razor, the glorification of shagginess in a world of metrosexuality (ed note: I don't just hate the Yankees because I'm a Masshole, I hate them because of their regressive facial hair policy). However, I think it's only fair to link up to those who have come before and made lists of their own, because there's no accounting for taste (clearly).

There are more basketball beards than I first realized and the NBA has even put together their own best beards in NBA history list. Their list was inspired by Baron Davis, who is leading the charge to bring back the glory days of the '70s. There are some magnificent face nests going on here, but personally, I think Bill Walton tops everyone. Le Basketbawl has a few quality photos and a bunch of links as well, go check those out.

However, let's not start with basketball. Instead, let's take a look at a sport that lately has been overrun with metrosexualism: football (soccer). Like basketball, football had a grand tradition of facial hair that's mostly fallen by the wayside. Irish legend George Best is probably the most notable proponent of beardism, followed by 1982 Brazilian World Cup star Socrates. Former captain of my beloved Newcastle Brian Kilcline was signed by King Kev his first time around (back when they were good) and Spurs have had a couple beardos in Steve Archibald and Ricky Villa. Germany not only dominates in the World Beard & Moustache Championships, but they also seem to consistently produce footballers like Paul Breitner & Manfred Kaltz who display an intimidating face. These days very few footballers are countering the Cristiano Ronaldo-ization of the game, but here are a few notables:

I was disappointed when Olof Mellberg left Villa for Juve, because there is a dearth of great beards in the EPL, but he was inconsistent anyway. Keep the viking look, Olof!

With Mellberg gone it's been perennial oddball Djibril Cissé holding down the beard fort. He returned to the EPL from Marseille to join Roy Keane's Mackems and the bleached what-have-you came along for the ride.

West Ham defender Matthew Upson is also holding down, but with a rather weak beard that I could probably grow in 2 days. No joke. At least he's got something, I guess.

Germany & Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder takes a lot of flak for not being that good, but at least he's got a sweet beard, something severely lacking in the Primera Liga.

I'll finish off with one last, and fairly spectacular, facial feature: that of former American defender Alexei Lalas. Before he tried to salvage a horrendous LA Galaxy side by signing David Beckham, Lalas was well known for his awesome scraggle. I'm certain any positive mojo he had disappeared when he finally shaved. Oh, he also signed that frequent offender of terrible facial hair: Abel Xavier.

Best Beards In Sports

Being a bearded man, I'm always appreciative of those upstanding gentlemen who invest quality time in making their faces look like a grizzly's ass. Too many sports stars these days are so concerned with dating some model that they forget they're supposed to look badass and intimidating. I should have thought of doing this long ago, but I didn't and GreatestHockeyLegends.com beat me to the punch. But they only covered best hockey moustaches. Then I started my own search and found a site with the best baseball beards, but not much of anything else. So I'm going to be putting together my own list of best beards in other sports like soccer and basketball. In the meantime, go check out those beards; I'll be back shortly...

09 September 2008

Good Morning Viet...Iran!

Hey, what's up recent Iranian visitor! I'm glad my worthless site has managed to make it past your theocratic regime's internet censors. Hey, I've got a deal for you: you send your warmongering, nuclear-posturing, religious nutbag government packing and we'll do the same here in the Ol' Great Satan. Sound like a plan to you, too? Excellent, go in peace, friend.

Worcester, Pull Your Head Out Of Your Ass

Thanks to my severe poverty and marginal laziness, I don't spend too much time outside Brooklyn (other than for work in Manhattan). Generally, this is fine as I've really come to love living here and I consider it my home. Occasionally I travel back to my birth home in Massachusetts to visit my family for a weekend. Hometowns being hometowns, I spend the whole time within the confines of the 1/4 acre yard I grew up in, thus avoiding any sort of social interaction with people I may accidentally run into if I left said yard.

This weekend was different and confirmed for me nearly every reason why I moved to New York to begin with. Sometimes expats need such reminders of why they've chosen to settle in places that don't have beautiful fall foliage or funny names for everyday items (see: "bubbler, the" and "elastics") or that do happen to be full of Yankees fans. Yes, this weekend more college friends got married so that their degenerate single friends had a legitimate reason to duel with their livers. I won't get into the particulars of the wedding itself, but there was an open bar, so...that covers the important topics there.

Why, then, did I return to NYC with a renewed sense of appreciation? Here's a few reasons:

1) Things stay open. Worcester had one open diner Sunday morning (morning=12:30pm) and it had 4 booths that were all full. There were 4 closed diners that we found. 4. Four. If you choose to close your diner on a Sunday fucking morning, I hope it's because you love losing money that drunks want to spend on eggs. Die. Oh yeah, and to "blue laws" in general? Get rid of them, Puritanism should remain a part of history, we don't have to keep it around to annoy visitors and there's nothing "quaint" about holding on to pointless traditions that should have been scrapped ages ago. People don't go to church anymore, open your damn store.

2) Pizza. Massachusetts is probably third behind New York and New Jersey for a high population of Italians (I should know, I'm part one), so why did they never learn how to make pizza properly? An equally acceptable answer here is "Bagels".

3) Attractive women. I always cringe at jokes about the desert of beauty that is the Greater Boston Area, but in my heart I know it's terribly true. Any of the actually attractive females migrate to places like, oh, say, New York City. Which brings me to my next point...

4) Style. Here's where I really start to get depressed. I hate fashion. It's possibly the least important of any high art form. I'd rather see the dentist than go clothes shopping. That's not a stretch at all. But then I go to a city like Worcester, home to several colleges and roughly 160,000 people and nobody seems to know how to dress themselves. Guys, your white hats and weaved belts have made you the butt of jokes nationwide, maybe even worldwide. Give it up already. Oh, and put your collar back down. As for you, ladies, I can tell you're not a natural blond and a Brazilian transsexual would be embarrassed to don such horrid pancake makeup. Is the "HC" on your sweatshirt supposed to make me think you go to Holy Cross or for "Holy Crap, I've been drinking for 8 hours now and you still look like a Moldavian gangster's girlfriend". Get the hell out of the mall for pete's sake!

Why is that realization depressing? Because it forces me to acknowledge that I actually know something about style and self-presentation despite any of my multiple and constant utterances to the contrary. I may as well host Project Runway.

5) Is it worth a number 5, do I need to write more? Probably, but it's 2:30am and there are other reasons I can't sleep. I can't go on, I'll go on. That I even had to write this in the first place is worth a place on this list, so that's #5. Worcester (and by extension all of Metro-Boston and generally suburban New England—except Vermont because you're so quaint and adorable), I implore you to get your act together. Consider this your occasionally sentimental expats asking politely.

04 September 2008

Look At All The Crazy White People!

Um, I'm sitting here watching the John McCain speech and wondering where the fuck all these rednecks got suits. Did all the billionaire splurge for formal attire and razors? I haven't been privvy to such jingoism since the Nuremburg rallies. For pete's sake, quit it with the "USA, USA, USA" chants you ignorant apes! And yes, you are apes, you are descended from a common ancestor along with chimps and bonobos.

To be fair, I didn't watch the DNC, and I'm sure it was chalk full of hope and more hope, but at least it wasn't this horseshit parade.

I'm still considering voting for a joint ticket of Jimmy Carter and Dennis Kucinich. You know, as soon as I remember to register to vote.

Update: This morning when I got to work I was discussing last night's speech with my manager. He informed me that even the Dems burst into impromptu "USA!" chants, which made him wretch. So fuck them as well. Cut the shit with the "USA!" bullshit, people. We're not that great and this isn't Nazi Germany. Wait, what's that you say?...

01 September 2008

Let's Prevent A White House Shotgun Wedding

In case anybody hasn't heard, McCain VP Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant. Bristol, a 17 year old, was knocked up by her boyfriend (no word on his age and possible statutory-rape status) who she now plans to marry. Good for them and hooray for government-funded abstinence-only sex-ed. Her mother supports that, by the way, and is also anti-abortion.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the McCain campaign said they knew about the pregnancy (which is now in its fifth month. "Fif, I plead the Fif...F-I-F...FIF!"). Palin has 5 children, the youngest of which, Trig, is only a few months old (and has Down's Syndrome). Apparently the talk of the town this weekend was that Trig was actually Bristol's kid, as she had disappeared with Mono for months and Mom Palin never looked pregnant. Whatever, we don't need more rednecks hanging around the White House.

Oh, also, on the whole family names thing...Bristol and Trig are joined by eldest brother, Track (on his way to Iraq) and sisters Willow and Piper. So...yeah, they all have stupid names.

You're Not Reading This Because You're At The Beach

And I'm stuck here at work. I hadn't much considered that I would be working Labor Day since I almost always end up working holidays for the 1.5x pay. So when folks were all, "Hey, we're going to the beach wanna come?" or "Let's get blotto Sunday night cos nobody's gotta work tomorrow!" My response was, "Nah, gotta work as usual, but I should be getting time and a half."


To my chagrin I learned upon arriving at work that I would not be getting time and a half pay today. Why is that, you ask? Federal guidelines make no provision regarding private sector employees and according to NY Labor Law it is up to individual employers to decide if employees shall receive holiday pay (Although I'm not clear if the following is for unworked holidays or not). My employers, being cheap bastards, only pay overtime for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's the law regarding holidays:

Q: Must an employer pay employees for holidays, sick time and/or vacations?

A: Under the New York State Labor Law, payment for holidays, sick time or vacation -- i.e. payment for time not actually worked - is not required unless the employer has established a policy to grant such pay. When an employer does decide to create a benefit policy, that employer is free to impose any conditions they choose.

Bunch of horseshit as far as I'm concerned. So enjoy your beautiful day out at the beach, or bbq or white-clothes-wearing parties and think of me as I fester indoors, beyond the reach of our sun's glorious, life-affirming radiation.