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Showing posts from November, 2005

Inspiration

Inspiration to pick up a musical instrument comes from a variety of places. I've heard many guys my age say seeing somebody like Kurt Cobain or Rivers Cuomo or Billie Joe Armstrong play guitar was their inspiration. Then I've heard of people say some guitar virtuoso like Jimmy Page or Steve Vai was their inspiration. For me, my inspiration to pick up a guitar came from a rather unlikely source: Dolores O'Riordan of the cranberries . It's summer of '94 and the video for the cranberries' "Zombie" is on MTV every day. I love the song (especially the drum part) and the mostly black and white video (complete with an on-camera performance by the band). One day, after seeing the video many times before, I noticed a shot of singer/guitarist O'Riordan playing a simple, descending guitar line on the high E string before one of the verses. Seeing how simple it looked to play, I thought I could emulate the same thing on my mother's acoustic guitar (which

Hooray for Blogs!

Inspired by a link posted on Large Hearted Boy , I think it's important to praise the presence of blogs, specifically MP3 blogs, on the Internet. Here's my favorite snippet in the "10 best ways to get the most out of the next musical revolution": 1. MP3 blogs: The Internet isn't just a great place to find amateur porn and clips of fat kids acting out scenes from "The Phantom Menace." It's actually an incredible resource for discovering new music and the best sites to do that at the moment are MP3 blogs such as The Hype Machine ( hype.non-standard.net ) and Largehearted Boy ( blog.largeheartedboy.com ), which offer daily, no-nonsense links to free music available online. Meanwhile, personal blogs such as Stereogum ( www.stereogum.com ), Sixeyes ( sixeyes.blogspot.com ) and Said the Gramophone ( www.saidthegramophone.com ) hand out iPod-friendly tunes along with smartly written previews. For those with a couple of hours, weeks or months to kill, a st

Criticism

I used to get all huffy and puffy when I would hear negative criticism. I still get a little up-in-arms on certain things (ie, Star Wars ), but in my older years, I think I've mellowed out. Negative criticism is going to come my way, just like how diarrhea will come my way (unexpected, unplanned and will eventually pass). Along with doing what I do, liking what I like and reading about people that just did their stuff (doubters and all), I've realized this: negative criticism doesn't stop creativity. In many cases, when people rip someone else's work apart, it tests the creator's confidence. I've never heard of somebody who stopped doing what he or she does just because of what critics say. Some people revel in negative reviews while some cry their eyes out. For me, I know what I'm into and what I want to do. The stuff I'm into isn't for everyone (is there really anything for everyone other than food, sleep and liquids?), so I don't aim that far

Black Friday

Today is what is now often dubbed as Black Friday because most retail outlets are "in the black" with sales. For those that work in retail, I give you a hand because I hope to never work in retail ever again because of a day like this. If you've never worked retail before, imagine the job you have now but add random strangers walking around and asking a wide variety of questions (some good, some stupid and some just plain annoying). The job is a huge juggling act and on a day like today, it's a relief when the doors close for the night. Slashed prices on items in the store are always a big incentive to come out. Some places are selling select DVDs for $3.99 a pop. You know, that would even make me go out and weather the crowds, but I'm in no rush to own stuff like The Cat in the Hat (the Mike Myers version), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey version) or A Beautiful Mind . I'd go out if they had a sale on stuff like the new Beavis and Butthead

"I'll be there in five minutes"

Some of my favorite parts in Sam Jones' documentary on Wilco, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart , involve Rolling Stone senior editor, David Fricke. In one particular clip, Fricke explains that we live in a culture where there are people standing out on a sidewalk talking on cell phones and the gist of their conversations are, "I'll be there in five minutes." Fricke's response to someone doing this is to quit standing around and "just be there in five minutes." Even though Fricke's statement was made on September 10th, 2001, his words still ring true in our post-9/11 world. I'll admit it; I'm guilty of being impatient with people by calling their cell phones if they're late. I don't want to be hung out like a clown so since the technology is handy, I give in from time to time. The deal is, you can be a little too impatient with the kind of technology cell phones allow. If someone is five minutes late, I wait it out. If he/she is thirt

Goblet of Fire redux

I braved the elements and saw it last night. It's a wonderful movie for various reasons and I highly recommend it to those that are curious. I won't give any of the plot details away, but I will say this, it's incredibly well-paced (from slow and intimate to fast, big and loud) as it covers all the important plot details that will be paid off in the next few movies. I couldn't believe how much from the book they put into the movie and how surprisingly it didn't feel rushed at all. Thinking about the other Harry Potter flicks along with certain other book/comic book-to-film adaptations that have come out in the last few years, I think it's safe to say that movie studios "get it" after decades of not getting it. What is 'it' you ask? 'It' means making the film as close to the book as possible but adding some different touches for a better effect. Case in point, The Goblet of Fire is the first extra-long Harry Potter book and a page-b

The Goblet of Fire

Tonight I plan to go out and see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire , thus making this my second trip out to the movies this year. Yes, the yearly amount of times I go out to the movies is now about average with the yearly amount of times I go to a comic book store or a video game store. I'm still very satisfied with watching movies at home, but there are some movies that I can't wait for rental. The experience of seeing a movie on a screen 200 times larger than my TV is a cool spectacle. The sound effects are great and deafening at times (in a good way). So, I hope to have a good time tonight. Even my fidgety nature of being in a dark room full of strangers won't stop me from seeing this picture. I used to often go out to movie theaters, but that was when I had a student ID or was still considered a "child." As the cost of a ticket grows closer to the cost of owning the movie on DVD, I'm more than willing to wait a few months. I understand that in most pla

We're not that far off

Last week I wondered if we are close to a time when the pomp and posy excesses of '70s and '80s stadium rock are once again en vogue. Folks, we're even closer after I saw Dropsonic play Friday night and read an article on Avenged Sevenfold in Rolling Stone . You've been warned. Here's why: Dropsonic is a pretty tight trio from Atlanta, GA, with mathy and glammy leanings. I don't think I've ever seen a band combine the shifting rhythms found in math rock along with the kind of guitar solos and flamboyant vocals found in glam rock. I thought they put on an impressive set as they played on the bill with powerhouses Traindodge and Saboteur . Traindodge rocked hard with their mix of melodic, dropped-D post-hardcore and Saboteur blazed through their inspired, punk-fueled post-hardcore. Dropsonic fit very well on the bill, but one certain thing set them apart (for good and bad reasons) was the presence of guitar and drum solos. I'm not talking eight bars of

Black Market Music

Placebo was first recommended to me via Matt when the band's second album, Without You I'm Nothing , was first out in '98. I didn't care for the album's first single (and sole US hit), "Pure Morning," but he said I would really dig some of the faster, punkier album tracks like "You Don't Care About Us." As it turned out, my roommate at the time had Without You I'm Nothing and I gave it a listen. Matt was very right and I bought my roommate's copy because he only liked "Pure Morning." I couldn't really call myself a big fan of Placebo, but I really dug most of the tracks on Without You I'm Nothing . This claim was very much the case when the band's follow-up, Black Market Music , came out. The songs didn't perk my interests, so I moved on. Now that I live with a housemate who really likes Placebo and happens to have a DVD of all their videos, I decided to give Placebo some more attention by watching most o

Make Up the Breakdown

I'm not the biggest fan of Hot Hot Heat but I really enjoy their Make Up the Breakdown record and I've liked what I've heard off of their most recent record, Elevator . While their twisted, guitar-and-keyboards pop is cool, I find something rather odd when I read about why their guitarist Dante DeCaro left the band while recording Elevator . Thus is another tale of differing stories as to why band members really leave bands. In multiple interviews, HHH's current members often say that the reason why DeCaro left was because of touring. “Once someone has established that they don’t want to be on tour, it’s kind of like a disease,” frontman Steve Bays explained to Straight.com . “It spreads to everyone. And so if you’re at that point during the day where you’re just so burnt out, and you need someone to come up to you and say, ‘Remember, this is our dream,’ and instead that person comes up and goes, ‘You know what? Not only does this suck, but it really sucks,’ that re

Compact Discs

Rolling Stone has this article on how this fall's big CD releases didn't boost overall CD sales. Kanye West's Late Registration sold a ton, but titles by Ashlee Simpson and Destiny's Child didn't sell as much as expected. On the flipside, downloading is way up. How all this translates to me is this: CD sales will continue to decline but CDs themselves won't become extinct. I still buy plenty of CDs every year. New records by Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, My Morning Jacket, The Go! Team, Foo Fighters and others have been added to my library this year. I don't know if I buy as much or less, but I also buy a number of older releases, including reissues and albums that I never got around to buying. I like a wide variety of rock music and I doubt that I will buy fewer CDs in the upcoming years. Even with all my CDs, I have become a big advocate of iTunes too. I enjoy building up my digital library with my favorite songs so I can have them in one convenient spo

Are we not that far off?

Last night was spent eating dinner, walking Juliet and watching Coheed and Cambria's Live at the Starland Ballroom DVD. While I was watching it, I got to thinking: if emo, cheesmo and screamo are becoming passe with a younger audience these days, is something like what Coheed and Cambria does that far off too or about to become even bigger? For those that don't know, Coheed and Cambria is a four-piece with three records out: The Second Stage Turbine Blade , In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 and Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness . (Yes, those are the full titles) Previously, I had only heard a little of In Keeping Secrets but after reading interviews with them and seeing their video for "The Suffering," I had to find out more. Why? Because I think we're only a few steps away from having a rebirth of pompous virtuoso rock, last seen in the 1970s. I will credit C&C this: they have great energy and so

Dallas vs. Fort Worth

Growing up in Houston, I always loved coming to Dallas. Once the city’s skyline was in view, I got excited. I don’t exactly know what I was excited about other than cooler weather and seeing my relatives, but it was always a welcome change. When I lived in Fort Worth, I liked the town, but if I wanted to go to the good record stores and venues, I’d have to make the 40-50 minute drive to Dallas. Now that I live in Dallas, I rarely go anywhere else because everything is in Dallas. However, something that keeps coming to my attention is the fact that people in Dallas don’t like going to Fort Worth and vice versa. Here’s my question: Why? I’ll admit it: since moving to Dallas in 2002, I’ve never wanted to move back to Fort Worth. I still enjoy going to Fort Worth from time to time for various things (like the Good Show or a show at the Ridglea Theater or Wreck Room), but I usually stay within the Dallas city limits. I like it here because it’s so spread out and there is no shortage of fu

Baby Pictures

I don't know if this is because of tradition or impulse, but I've always wondered why parents take so many pictures of their children as newborns. I'm not saying this is a bad thing that is ripe for Seinfeld-like mockery, but looking through old family photo albums, I noticed that there are plenty of pictures of me and my sister as newborns/toddlers, but there are fewer pictures of us growing up. There are plenty of pictures of me in my crib, in the arms of friends and family and crawling around our house. There are also quite a few pictures of Susan and I growing up after that, but there aren't quite as many as when we were newborns/toddlers. I am not a father and I am not an uncle, so I have no real first-hand experience with childbirth and all the things that come after it. I'm not opposed to having children myself, but I'm in no rush to have them. I love seeing pictures of newborns, but as I said, why are there so many in this opening stage? Is it because a

Tom Waits

I don't remember exactly when I was first introduced to Tom Waits, but I've heard about him since high school. As far as actually hearing his material, that's still a new thing for me. Come to think of it, I probably know him better as an actor than a musician. I've seen Down By Law , Short Cuts and Coffee and Cigarettes but I've never sat down and listened to Rain Dogs , Swordfishtrombones or Closing Time . I still can't wrap my head around his stark, jazzy and percussive musings with squirmy vocals. As sacrilegious as it sounds but some of the stuff I've heard is some of most cacophonic stuff I've ever heard. Because of hearing bits and pieces over the years, I always pegged him as doing only that kind of music. Well, this changed after I heard Bob cover Waits' beautiful, "Take It With Me." "Take It With Me" is a tender piano ballad featured towards the end of Mule Variations . Bob transposed it to guitar and it was as stri

Young Turks

As much as I groan at the sights and sounds of most young bands somewhere on the emo and hardcore radars, I actually do like a few of them. I dig Taking Back Sunday (especially Where You Want to Be ), Atreyu, Thursday and Thrice to name a few. Then there are songs by bands that I enjoy but I wouldn’t consider myself a fan, like Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” and the Used’s “The Taste of Ink.” Where I go from there usually induces eye rolling and the saying of phrases like, “Oh brother.” Right now, lots of people are apparently really excited about Fall Out Boy. Their songs are on TRL and the radio and girls like to scream at the sight of them, especially bassist Pete Wentz. Fall Out Boy’s music is an amalgam of pop-punk, emo and hardcore-lite; in other words, this is right up the alley of people into bands like Taking Back Sunday. For me, when I hear their music, I can’t get into it. Simply put, I don’t get a strong reaction from their music or frontman Patrick Stump’s voice. Hawthorne

Beavis and Butthead

Today sees the release of a 3-DVD set of MTV's classic animated show, Beavis and Butthead . Ah, memories of middle school and high school filled with phrases like "Uh huh huh huh," "Yeah yeah!" and "Come to Butthead." Those were good times and I'm happy to see that this DVD set has (I believe for the first time on DVD) the segments where Beavis and Butthead watch music videos and critique them. This, in my opinion, was the best part of the show. Sometimes they'd agree ("Yeah! This rules!" "Hell yes!"), sometimes they'd wince ("Oh no!" "Oh brother . . . ") and sometimes they'd really disagree ("Metallica sucks" "Shut up Butthead!") at a video's first sight, but almost always it was hilarious. The videos were usually holdovers from MTV's Sunday night speciality show, 120 Minutes , but sometimes they'd pull one out of the vaults (like Grim Reaper's "See You

Fiddler's Green

Over the weekend, I watched two summer blockbusters that I skipped out on in the theaters for sake of eventual DVD rental: Batman Begins and Land of the Dead . While I still stick behind my reasons for not seeing them in the theater (annoying audience members, endless commercials and trailers, ticket cost being half the price of the movie on DVD, etc.), I'm glad I finally saw them in some form or another. I had reservations about Batman Begins because in my mind, I had already seen a dark Batman movie: Tim Burton's Batman . Well, I realized after watching Batman Begins that you can go much darker than that. Without giving the movie away, Batman Begins focuses on the pathos and the drive of a young Bruce Wayne as he becomes Batman. This attention is more fleshed-out than anything I've ever seen or read on the character before. In the case of Land of the Dead , class and administration are put under the microscope as more zombies keep looking for human flesh. Yes, there

Punk: Attitude

I recently watched the acclaimed Don Letts documentary, Punk: Attitude , on DVD. It's a pretty right-on look at how punk rock came into being from the late '60s to present day. You get your standard spotlights on the Velvet Underground, Stooges, MC5, New York Dolls, Ramones, Clash and others but Punk: Attitude actually gives a little more light as to what went on in the 1980s, something no other documentary on punk has. While that's great and all, there's this major gripe I have about most documentaries and books on punk - we always hear about how it started in the '60s and '70s, but rarely do we hear about what happened in the '80s and '90s. There are some great books about what happened in the '80s (like Our Band Could Be Your Life and Dance of Days ) but there is barely any information about what happened in the '90s. The story goes that author Michael Azerrad was watching the multi-part documentary, The History of Rock & Roll , on TV a

Degrassi Jr. High

For years, a certain conversation in Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy has always made me curious about Degrassi Jr. High : Holden : So, uh, what do you wanna do tonight? Banky Edwards : I dunno. Get a pizza, watch Degrassi Jr. High . Holden : You got a weird thing for Canadian melodrama. Banky Edwards : I got a weird thing for girls who say, "Aboot." I never saw Degrassi on PBS while I was growing up. For me, PBS was Sesame Street , 3, 2, 1 Contact and stuffy programs about stuffy news and art. So when Jason picked up the first season of the show on DVD last night, I felt compelled to watch a few episodes. I must say, after viewing only two episodes, I think this is good, quality stuff. It's funny, melodramatic and closer to what middle school was really like compared to something like Boy Meets World or Full House . It deals with issues like homosexuality, divorce and peer pressure on a level that isn't sappy or preachy. This definitely wasn't primetime sugar

"Most rock journalism . . ."

In the last few months, I've come across a certain quote from Frank Zappa in two separate spots - Kyle's clips page and Mat Callahan's The Trouble With Music. The quote goes like this: "Most rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read." I don't know when Zappa made this statement, but it doesn't matter that much to me because I find this claim still relevant today. As a curious music fan, I'm constantly reading about bands or artists that I like or might like. When I was younger and hadn't done interviews myself, I ate up whatever I read about a band. It didn't matter how large or how small the article/interview was; I was all eyes and ears. Now that I'm older and have done a number of interviews myself, I'm a little pickier as to what I believe and don't believe in print. Facts can get exaggerated, large assumptions can be made and truth can be compacted all

October Leaves

Halloween was a great time this year - chilly, safe and relatively calm. Yes, we passed out a lot of candy (about nine bags worth in two hours) but we still have a few pounds of various Snickers, Reese's and Tootsie Rolls left. I'm sure all of these leftovers will surely be gone by the end of this month given our sweet teeth. I'll admit it - I was a little choosy with how I distributed the candy. I held off on giving out my favorite kinds of Reese's away until I saw someone who had a costume that I really liked (Spider-Man, Scream Ghost, demon). I couldn't be so picky during the busier times but when the slow times came (and they frequently happened), I was extremely picky. Whatever - the kids got their candy and they were happy. I saw plenty of unique ways to collect candy. From pillowcases to shopping bags to beanies to bare hands, I saw it all. I wondered how far a kid could go with only bare hands collecting (probably pretty far if he/she ate it between the h