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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

YouTwitFace

Even though I never publicly stated this, I was very hesitant to get a Twitter account. Matter of fact, I told some friends I didn't want to get one. I just had several reasons to stay off of it. I have a Facebook page, and I don't have any character limits with its status updates. If I have a Twitter page, would I be happy being confined to 140 characters?

Unlike Fall Out Boy, I've never hated Twitter. But I've never been a fan of a status update on Facebook filled with Twitter language. There's something not so appealing about reading "RT @username Hahaha!! FTW" without hyperlinks or context. Besides, is that really language?

Anyway, since I'm not a fan of abbreviations (I rarely abbreviate anything in a text message, by the way), Twitter just didn't seem like the place for me.

The change of heart started when I saw how people like used Richard Kelly, Conan O'Brien, and Damon Lindelof used the page. No flowery puff pieces. No press releases that took hours to fight over verb use. Just random tidbits; some useful, some not. But that lack of a middleman was great. I was interested and started following a few more Twitter pages.

Couple this with my jobs involving some or a lot of Twitter usage and I considered making a page. Better to grab a username with my real name before somebody else takes it, right? Well, a big Van Halen fan named Eric Grubbs grabbed the ericgrubbs username, so I just went with Eric_Grubbs. If can help spread the word of my upcoming work through one more social networking site (along with some random muses), I see no problem with this.

So yes, now I'm on Twitter. And feel free and follow along.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Long live the car crash hearts

There was a time that I absolutely hated everything about Fall Out Boy. In the archives of this blog, you will find a few pointed rants about the alleged merits and allure of this band. But you will also find some nice words about the band's 2007 album, Infinity On High. Yes, as surprising as Seth Petruzelli's win over Kimbo Slice, I really liked what the Young FOB had come out with. Yet I thought this was a fluke and didn't further investigate their follow-up, Folie a Deux.

Well, last week's edition AV Club Q&A got me thinking about the kind of pop culture that makes me feel old. Right off the top of my head, it's "greatest hits" compilations from bands that I still think are young. Young in the sense that these artists have nothing guaranteed about their legacy other than selling a lot of records. Young in the sense that their record label is trying to get the most out of a band's short lifespan. And young in the sense that I still remember when their first few albums came out less than ten years before.

As I browsed the ever-dwindling CD selection at Best Buy last Friday night, I noticed the Believers Never Die compilation. I felt old, but I also thought this could be a decent compilation. Just the hits and some rarities and a bonus DVD with commentary from the band members? I was intrigued.

When I received an advance copy of Infinity On High and liked what I heard on it, I didn't handicap the album. I wasn't thinking about puff pieces that talked about Pete Wentz's hair or who Pete was dating. I wasn't thinking about the time I saw the band open for Taking Back Sunday and finding their set to be much more style without really any trace of substance. And I wasn't thinking about all the ugly things I had said about them, as well as people my age.

I've found that a lot of people my age hated and still hate this band. I respect that. As I wrote POST, I tried to put all this "Oh my gosh!! FOB fo-eva!!!" fandom in the background and really focus on bands and a time when this wasn't a mainstream identity. But I've always stood behind the notion that you should like what you should like when it comes to music. If you like a song, you shouldn't have to deal with the sociological implications. You can that way, but fessing up to this stuff usually comes with a defensive tone.

Some friends of mine who are a few years older than me have spoken up about their fandom as well. Sure, they received a lot of flak, but they stand by their opinions.

I'm not saying, "Hey, you know, Adolf Hitler was not that bad of a guy, and the Final Solution is still a great idea." I'm just saying that I've had a change of heart about the merits of a band's music.

That band just happens to be Fall Out Boy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Taking pics

The bug is back.

Over the weekend, I reviewed the Alkaline Trio show and I also got the chance to take some pictures during the first three songs. Thanks to the person at the label who set me up with a pass to the show, I also got a photo pass. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to at least try something I had not done in at least five years.

There was a time when I used to photograph a lot of bands. I'd get a disposable camera from Tom Thumb, take a bunch of pics at the show, process them, and then scan them into my computer. I don't know when or why I stopped doing this, but I think I just got tired of doing that whole process along the way. Film was going out of style, and digital seemed like a lake I wasn't so sure to jump into yet.

Back when I moved into the house I live in now, I blew up a picture I took of that life-changing Red Animal War show and framed it. (A portion of it is on the cover of POST.) The pic hangs in the hallway between my bedroom and Matt's bedroom, so I pass by it multiple times every single day. As proud as I was of that, I wasn't so sure as to when (or if) I'd ever photograph a band again.

Not to be melodramatic about it, but there's something very intimidating about having a point-and-click camera while a number of your friends have fancy schmantzy cameras that are worth a few thousand. The kind of pics they get are just stellar, and I just wasn't so sure there was much of an inbetween.

The small digital camera I have is great for taking pictures of my dog playing around the house, but not for shooting a band. So Diana was kind enough to let me borrow her camera for the Trio show and I got a handful of good shots. As I stood upfront singing along to "This Addiction" and "Armageddon," I enjoyed trying to get as much action into one frame.

What you see in my write-up is just an idea of how much fun the show was. And hopefully you'll be seeing more of my camera handiwork in the future.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Staff Trax and the Trio

Speaking of The Box, a song used in it is my pick for this week's edition of Staff Trax. Also, I did an interview with Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba in regards to this weekend's show in Dallas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Right or Wrong

I had Stephen King's Storm of the Century miniseries checked out from Netflix for almost a full month. I finally got around to watching it over a couple of nights a few weeks ago, and overall, I enjoyed its four hours. While I found some of the acting very hammy and the music just reeking of silly 1990s TV scores ("Hey, keyboards are awesome and you don't need live musicians! It sounds just like the real thing!"), I was quite taken with the final twenty minutes of it.

Without spoiling anything, let's just say the final quarter deals with the decision the town makes in dealing with the evil stranger that has come to town. There are plenty of reasons as to why they should have made their decision, while there are plenty of valid reasons to have done something else.

This kind of ambiguity of what the "right" thing to do is all over King's work. Frankly, I like reading books and watching movies that don't present the "right" thing to do as such a clear-cut thing. A decision has to be made, and there will be consequences. And more often than not, these consequences do not yield a perfect sunny ending.

I don't enjoy reading this stuff all the time (I'll take Back to the Future or A New Hope over the The Mist if I'm in the mood for something fun), but I do like it when writers and filmmakers present this. They don't want to just serve the masses with everything tied up in a neat bow.

Yet, based on the reactions of some people I know, it seems like if you like stuff like this, you might as well be into child molestation or bestiality. To be very blunt, that kind of condescending, snap judgment is just way off the mark. I don't know what the "right" decision should have been made in pivotal scenes in Storm of the Century, The Mist, and The Box. But the decisions that were made forced me to think about why they were made.

As I've said before, I'm not one to always watch movies or read books with down endings. But as somebody who sees movies and books as more than entertainment, I like it when there is something more than just something you turn your brain off for a few hours. Is that so wrong? I don't think so. And for those that just want to judge a complete piece of work based on a plot point should not think the whole thing is garbage. And they should not think the people that find merit in this stuff as horrible, threatening heathens.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PA

After six months of wanting (and waiting) to see Paranormal Activity, it finally arrived in my mailbox from Netflix. Ever since its late December release, the availability of a Blu-ray copy has been listed as a "long wait" until last week. And I didn't want to buy it instead of waiting since it's very, very thin on extras. And frankly, the asking price on DVD was just out of the question.

Plus, I wasn't sure I wanted to own this flick on DVD. Remember, once the marketing is finished for a film, it's all in the hands of those who speak up about a flick, be it very positive or very negative. I wasn't sure which end of critical spectrum I'd be. So I used caution and waited.

Overall, I was pleased with the film, but I didn't love it. I was not very sympathetic to the boyfriend and girlfriend in the leads. Their handling of the situation, especially on the guy's end, was just something I couldn't dig into. But I was genuinely creeped out by the scares, especially towards the end.

I didn't watch and completely distance myself between the plausible and the not. Since I wasn't so sure how the filmmakers created a lot of spook shots, I had to tell myself this was just a movie. Funny how that kind of self-talk didn't help me fall asleep gently.

What I found utterly odd about my experience watching the film (at my home two hours before I went to bed, no less) was how I shed a lot of tears while watching it. These were not tears of joy or immense sadness. No, they were like tears of fears, like sweat coming from my eyes and nose. Maybe I was thinking too much about the dynamics between the couple and how they bickered so much. I'm still not sure exactly why.

I can't say I'd suggest horror fans to own this film on DVD, but it's definitely worth seeing at least once. And as much fun as it might be to see it in a theater, seeing it in the comforts of your home is a genuinely different experience. Any bump or noise you hear, whether it's the neighbors or a pipe, will probably make you jump for a few nights.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Esc

My review of the Dillinger Escape Plan's Dallas show is now online. After the show was over, it was snowing and extremely windy. So, the Equal and I did the logical thing: went to a bar in Fair Park and had a drink. Just a wonderful night.

The Zombie Season

My aunt recently sent me a column called, "Rules to live by for a lifetime." It was a lengthy list with many great observations on life written by someone who had lived a very long life. Some of the rules were, "However good or bad a situation is, it will change" and "Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does."

I agree with many of these "rules," but one of the ones I really took was this one: "Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'" I completely agree with that one, but I take that many steps further: if we had a zombie apocalypse, will this matter?

Before I start sounding like Winnie the Pooh's friend Eeyore tripping on LSD, I completely agree with the original statement. Too often, I can't seem to recall what I was mad about in the past, but I can remember being mad about something or scared of a potential crisis. And I'm talking about stuff that happened weeks ago. What happened five years ago? Jeez, I remember very little about the cause(s) of crises and potential disasters.

But back to the zombie apocalypse: would it really matter that my Internet connection was sporadically going in and out for a good month after I got my new computer? Would a bunch of gray clouds and windy weather scare me to stay inside? And would it really matter that it hurt to have a couple of stitches on my right hand for two weeks after mole removal surgery?

The answer is, of course, absolutely not. If we were trying to survive random attacks by blood-thirsty, brain-munching zombies, a lot of our everyday lives would not be that important. That's not to say that there aren't important things in a world that isn't overrun by zombies. I just like to remind people that there are much bigger things in life and much more memorable things to think about. Much more than how crazy this one boss was or how a friend took a Facebook status update way too personally.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Staff Trax

This week's edition of Staff Trax credits Pete in the byline as of this writing, but I'm still the dude who collects the entries and edits them. Pete still has a say in the final edit and he posts the final product.

This week, I fess up to not hearing a lot of classic KISS when I was younger.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Black-Eyed

Ever since I got a black eye in 8th grade on St. Patrick's Day, I've always had a superstition about not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day.

If you're looking for some dramatic story where I valiantly stood up to a bully, you will be let down. The real story is that a backpack, thrown by a friend of mine, accidentally fell onto my face. While that might sound like a domestic violence incident covered up a by a fall down the stairs, this is the whole truth. I can't remember why I was lying on the floor or why the backpack was flung in my direction, but I do remember the shiner I had to show to show to my relatives in Selma, Alabama during Spring Break.

Coupled with some moments of physical pain on other St. Patrick's Days where I forgot to wear green, I've always remembered to wear green on this particular day. That is, until this morning.

When I wake up at 4am (yes, 4am) Monday through Friday, I have a pattern. I must first turn off my clock radio, turn off my cell phone (so the back-up ringer doesn't go off), get dressed, have breakfast, pack a lunch, and walk Victory. And I leave my house before 4:30.

Sometimes, but not always, my brain is not fully functioning with all this movement. Unless I had laid out a green shirt to wear, I most likely would have not remembered to wear something green.

Maybe this is a sign of me letting go from more things from my past. But I must admit I plan on taking Victory out for a run, shower, and go out with Matt for a drink, and I plan to wear a green shirt. Green's my favorite color, anyway.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hell is . . . (Cover Band Version)

Last Sunday morning, after going to sleep around 4:30 am, our house was awoken at 9am by the sounds of a band playing next door. No, this wasn't some band playing in a garage. It was a band set up on a stage at the corner of a major intersection, and they were a part of a so-called "rock 'n' roll marathon."

As runners ran a half-marathon through the M streets and the Lakewood area, they were serenaded by the sounds of what a general audience considers "rock 'n' roll." As a resident on one of the streets that was closed off for the event, I'd hardly call this a serenade of rock music.

Maybe this was payback for all the years I drummed in my house in Kingwood at full volume, but I never played that early in the day, even on a Sunday morning. And what didn't help was that this band played blues/funk renditions of songs you've heard enough of over the years.

If hell is repetition, then hearing blues bass lines over and over for three hours straight is pretty close.

Thanks to earplugs, I was able to fall back asleep, but my girlfriend and my housemate could not do it. Even with earplugs in, the throttling bass tones made a lot of things shake, including stomachs.

All I can say is, I'd really like to be warned about this marathon (if or) when this marathon happens again. It's one thing to block off our street, but it's a whole other to have moronically loud cover bands make us want to leave our house for the morning. I'd also add that I'm very thankful that I don't play in a band that plays blues/funk cover songs.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Platinum memories

As of noon last Friday, Platinum 96.7 is no longer on the DFW airwaves. I, being completely honest and not having a tongue anywhere near my cheek, will miss this station. Even though a friend of mine in the industry jokingly called their format "wrist-cutting music," I was quite partial to the format.

For those that aren't from the DFW area, Platinum was a soft rock station. Playing stuff like America's "I Need You" to James Taylor's "Handy Man" to Carole King's "It's Too Late" to Elton John's "Daniel," this was the kind of format that I listened to as a kid while riding with my mother in our Cadillac. There was Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and some Motown throw in as well as many one/two-hit wonders from the 1970s.

The station featured some radio talent I had worked with in my time in the area. Some of them I've kept up with thanks to the wonders of Facebook. So it wasn't fun to hear about them losing their gigs on Friday. Since they've gone through format switches and what-all before, they will land on their feet somewhere else.

But still, I'm really getting the sense that the soft rock format is going the way of the dinosaur. I know, I know, there are target demographics that pay the bills, and the demos are usually younger, but I don't even know if HD radio or satellite radio has such formats. As much as I've loved what I've heard on HD and satellite radios, I'm still quite hesitant to jump in with either.

Like the lite rock format and the smooth jazz, the soft rock format is pleasant to have on while you work. It's not too soft but it's not too loud. Even though I jam out to the Dillinger Escape Plan in my car, I can't really work my gig with it on.

So, aside from my extreme personal bias, I wouldn't be against the soft rock format popping up somewhere else in the area.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NX35

I covered a couple of NX35 shows this past weekend: here is my review of Fergus and Geronimo, and here is my review of the Black Angels. Both were at Hailey's, and one just blew my head off.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Staff Trax

This week in Staff Trax includes two tributes to Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, while I mention the greatness that is the Jackie Brown soundtrack. Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Double blast beat workout

I like having regular routines, especially when it comes to exercising. But in the last few weeks, having any kind of routine has been problematic. The weather has been the main culprit, but there are others.

You see, when I run with Victory, it's not just a simple run of three miles; it's a turbocharged race.

As much as I love my dog, her hunting instincts can make her want to fly. Be it a cat, squirrel, or dog, if she senses one of them, she wants to see what's up. She doesn't want to throw down, but she does want to be seen on the radar. And that makes running/jogging into a thirty-minute test to keep up with her.

I do plenty of stretching beforehand, but I have some tightness in my shins from time to time. Couple that with weak knees the following day while I'm at work. With the weather being rainy and cold one day and sunny and warm a few days later, I've had to schedule a few things around the non-sunny days.

Now that band practice is back in session, I'm curious if playing intensely for two hours straight is considered a workout. I'm playing with my whole body, and I'm sweating up a storm as wood debris falls to our rehearsal room floor.

I'm not trying to get out of exercising here. I just want to have some more variety in my attempts to stave off obesity and laziness.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

On the mend

The stitches came off yesterday afternoon, hence why there was no blog post. Unfortunately, I don't have complete control of my right hand just yet.

I got a call last week from the dermatologist telling me that all three of the moles removed were benign. No further surgery was required, and I just had to let these heal. Well, the one on my left leg is taking a little longer to heal, so I'm taking an oral medicine to help. Yes, healing moles through pills is possible.

I must admit that I can be a crabby bitch when it comes to medical procedures. Since I really don't know much about why certain procedures must be done (like stitches for one mole removed), I get as fussy as one of my three-year-old nieces get when it's bedtime and she doesn't want to go to bed. I don't scream bloody murder, but I do squirm and panic a little. That's natural, right? Well, I don't think it is for someone who lists himself as an adult on tax returns.

Until Friday, I have to have a light, but tight bandage over my right hand's scar. That's made some of my hand's flexibility difficult. I can make a fist again and I look forward to playing drums, but I'm still in the dark as to why I had to go through all of this in the first place.

Maybe if I stopped living one week at a time that this bitchiness will ease.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Staff Trax

This week's edition is available here. My pick this week was a happy accident on the way to finding Lifetime's self-titled record.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gimme Stitches

One week ago, I couldn't use my right hand for twenty-four hours. As of this writing, I still don't have full control over my right hand. But I should be back to normal by next week. And I should be able to play drums again by then as well.

So, what happened? I got a mole removed from the back of my hand. Yes, one mole has sidelined me for almost two whole weeks.

I've gone through mole removal before, but I never had to get sutures for them to heal. Since this certain mole required a deep removal, these were needed to fully heal. Just thinking about stitches makes me squirm and makes me feel panicky about having to deal with them. But I wanted to address why I would agree to go through such a frustrating and slightly physically-painful, but incredibly mentally-painful procedure.

I've had moles all over my body for most of my life. There have been times that one will scab and fall off, but that's been the extent of things. I've thankfully never had one that grew out of control and turned all sorts of ugly colors. Yet this one on my right hand made me concerned for a few years. Seeing a dermatologist about this, he suggested removing this would be good, but not absolutely mandatory at this point in my life. Better to take care of this now rather than try to take care of this too late.

I was all onboard with getting some more moles removed (one on my back, as well as one on my left leg) until my doctor said "stitches" just for the one on the right hand. I panicked, and I still panic at the thought of stitches. Stitches leave life-long scars and I'm not one who likes to have scars anywhere on my body.

Probably the only way I talked myself into this was because I lost two great friends to cancer last year. One of them died a very, very tragic death at a relatively young age due to skin cancer. He was a wonderful man, and I was very upset to see him die that way. Since I want to stick around as long as possible, whatever I can do to help prolong my life, I'll do.

But I think this whole treatment has uncovered something I should work on: I don't really see beyond next week. I don't imagine myself dead at an early age, or anything like that. I just don't usually make many long-term plans or goals. Ever since I got laid off nearly five years ago, I've been hesitant to make such plans.

So when I tend to think only in the short term, of course the recovery period of a small procedure will seem like a big deal. Bigger than a possible, larger procedure.

As much as I hate the question of, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" it's good to at least imagine something in five years. I've imagined some things, but I don't want to feel let down if they don't come to fruition. That's just how I see things. And that's what getting stitches has done to my brain.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Thank you, crap

I'm not one to gloat and I'm very hesitant to quote a certain cheesy pop country song, but I thought it would be fun to do share a little dating stuff after I read this article. Since the article looks at seven types of guys girls date, I wanted to describe some of the girls that I dated before I dated the lady I'm currently (very, very happily) with.

The Whiner
Hey, I seem like a confident person on the outside, but inside, I whine a lot. I also sigh a lot. Especially when it comes to talking about how hard my job is. No one will ever understand how hard my job is and how unfair people treat me there. And on top of that, any offers of getting feedback or receiving consolation will be made light of because you don't work at my job. I also think getting excited about an airing of the Blade Runner theatrical cut on cable TV is soooo lame.

The Partygoer
I want you to meet this guy; he's one of my best friends. And this guy too. He's really, really cool. We're best friends too. I might get drunk and make out with one of them, but we're friends. We're like brother and sister. You want to go get a drink?

The I'm Not Interested
I smile a lot when I see you and I really enjoy talking with you, but asking me out on a date is just out of the question. My facial expression will turn from smile to sheer puzzlement when you ask such. I'll say I'm not interested and we shall part, and maybe we'll run into each other via mutual friends. Have a nice life.

I don't begin to pretend that I've been a saint or that engaging of a person over the years, but I really had to be open to things to understand what is out there. I had to get a better understanding of who I am and what I'm about before I could find anybody else. If I get excited about the theatrical cut of Blade Runner airing on SciFi Channel, then I shouldn't feel ashamed if my girlfriend thinks that's stupid. If I can't help tapping along to a song I like, or even air-drumming, I should not feel like a moron for doing that.

All I can say is that I'm very thankful for all the crap I had to deal with over the years before I got to this point. It's made me realize what's treasure and what's garbage.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Such Great Heights?

I don't know if this a blessing or a curse, but years of listening to music and trying to play the notes on a guitar have led to something rather interesting. I do not claim to have Perfect Pitch, but it can be easy to pick out an open G chord by hearing it strummed on a guitar. But I can also claim to hear the opening note of a song when I hear a pitch coming from a non-musical instrument.

For example, I recently heard a fart that sounded like the opening note of Iron & Wine's version of "Such Great Heights" and the song got stuck in my head. Yes, it's come to that: a single fart can cue up a song in my brain's jukebox.

Recently, while at band practice, I was playing a few rolls on my snare drum as we prepared to rehearse a song. Somehow, hearing this certain roll made me think of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." I still don't know the "proper" way to tune a snare drum sound, other than trying to avoid the snare sound John Stanier had on the first four Helmet records (not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just been copied way too many times). So I choose to not have my snare head on too tight.

I guess I dialed up the Bun E. Carlos sound by accident, thus contributing to my ever-growing love for Cheap Trick. But I must admit that I still have yet to really get into Iron & Wine's material, beyond the "Such Great Heights" cover. Maybe more farts will lead me to that.