Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea #6

Last Minute Gift Idea #6:  Muppet Whatnot

Muppets are awesome.  I've loved the Muppet Show since I was a kid.  I continue to love the videos that the Muppet Studio continues to make, such as this which is fitting for the season:

So I was very excited a few years ago when I found out that FAO Schwarz was going to offer a custom Muppet creation lab.  You are not making copies of the existing Muppets.  The object is not to recreate Miss Piggy or Kermit.  You are creating your own personalized if it was an extra for the Muppet Show.  How cool is that?  What kid wouldn't want to create their own Muppet?  A kid who is destined to be a soulless serial killer.  Jeffrey Dahmer would not want to make his own Muppet.  But assuming that you are not a soulless serial killer, you want a Muppet.  You know you do.  I am lucky to already have a Muppet Whatnot, you may remember Vick Fyre.  He is awesome, and I am starting to think he might need a friend.  Making your own Muppet is easy.

1) Go to FAO

2) Pick your body style

3) Pick your eyes

4) Pick your nose (ha ha - I've been saying "pick" just for that joke, normally I would have typed "Choose")

5) Pick a hairstyle

6) Pick your clothing

7) Hit "Preview" to check out your Muppet and order if you want.

A couple quick examples:
Scientist / Doctor - using your whole fist doc?
Hippie Chick - damn dirty hippies
Balding but hairy elsewhere

Right now Muppet Whatnots are about $100, I've seen a little cheaper but usually they are about $120-$130...but really they are worth it.  They have high quality construction, and are just plain cool.  You might be thinking that you don't play with puppets - it is pretty rare for me too, but just seeing my own Muppet sitting there across the room fills my heart with joy (plus you always have it for those Muppet emergencies that do come up).

Everyone have a Great Holiday Season (or don't...I don't want to force it on you, do what makes you feel comfortable).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea #5

Gift Idea #6 : Star Wars: Frames

At $3000, this makes the Tim Burton/Danny Elfman music box set seem down right affordable.  Especially when you consider that he probably used film frames from the crappy re-mastered editions instead of the original trilogy.  And I don't think I really need to spend $3000 to look at 230 film frames from each movie that were personally picked by George Lucas.  Hasn't Lucas already proved with the prequels that he really doesn't understand why people liked Star Wars?  But damn, that wooden case is cool as shit.  I also hate how it is a limited edition of 1138...really?  I liked the movie THX 1138, but why does a Star Wars box set have to pay it tribute.  Just cheesy and dumb...I am really surprised they didn't choose 1977 editions, that at least would have made a tiny bit of sense.  I mean as long as we are tying in Lucas' movies that have nothing to do with Star Wars, why not have Howard the Duck laser etched on the box?

You can buy one for yourself (or me) here.  Can I just get the case for $50?  Or maybe just the Vader medallion for $10?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea #5

Last Minute Gift Ideas #5 - Gyrowheel

I am not the target audience for this - I know how to ride a bike, and I don't have kids who are learning to ride.  But man it is still cool and looks like fun to play with and see a kid use.  It is a wheel with a gyroscope inside.  You replace your child's front wheel and with the gyroscope turning their bike becomes incredibly stable.  They learn to ride without the aid of training wheels.  Just one of the many things that I wish existed when I was a kid.  I know, you will miss out on video taping all the fun crashes that your child will have and that you will be able to laugh at for years to come...but on the bright side, you probably won't have to make them wear a 'tard helmet for at least a couple years till they start the danger stunts.  Extra bonus - gets your kid out of the house for a while so that mommy and daddy can have grownup, super happy, fun time.  I can't believe they don't put that in the bullet point features...what are you supposed to watch your kid the WHOLE time?  They will have to learn that they are on their own in this world sometime - might as well start them young.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea #4

Last minute gift idea #4: The Boardgame Remix Kit.

You ever get a little bored with the games you have?  These guys took four of the most popular games -Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit and remixed, combined, and re-wrote them to make all new games, new ways to play, speed versions, and rule tweaks.  An exciting way to add new life to your old games.  Why sit around watching crappy reality TV when you can dust off your board games from when you were a kid.

Available in book, card, ebook, and iphone app.  Sounds like a lot of fun trying them all out...maybe some day there will be a Kackle Dackle remix.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea #3

I love games - like board games, trivia games, or even little kid games.  It is just a fun way to let loose.  I have to think Hedda for pointing this German game out to me.  Behold -

Kackel Dackel

Click here to check it out on Amazon Germany (not available in the US at this time).  So basically it is some kind of game where you feed a wiener dog play-doh and then it poops it out in dog turd form.  Brilliant.  What child wouldn't want this?  $42 shipped from right now.  I am so tempted...and watching this commercial only makes me more so.

PS - it looks like the toy really makes those noises too.  Awesome

Kackel Dackel is by far my favorite dog shitting themed game.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea #2

I like this t-shirt a lot:

If you don't know what this means, do yourself a favor and read about the alots here.  This article changed my life and made me to be a happier person.

Thanks alot!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Idea

Just in case you had an extra $500 laying around and were wondering what I would like - I would point you to this:  The Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversay Music Box

The music, and often unreleased score from all 13 movies that Danny Elfman & Tm Burton have collaborated on: Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman (1990), Edward Scissorshands, Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, and Alice in Wonderland...just to name a few.

I think that it is awesome that they are releasing all of this music but I also have some big problems with this boxset.

First of all, $500!  Yikes.  Sure it's 16 CDs worth of music...but that means each CD would cost $30+ each.  Now some of them I would probably pay that for Pee Wee, Nightmare...but Batman Returns, Mars Attacks, and Big Fish would probably not be on that list.  If DVDs of all the movies were actually included also, I could see how this would be worth $500...but just the soundtracks is not too me (which just goes to show how much I have reined in my fanboy ways).

Secondly, I have already spent tons of money on most of these movies.  I've seen most in the theater (at least once).  I currently have many on DVD.  I have had several on more than one format besides DVD - like VHS and Laserdisc...that Nightmare boxset laserdisc was not cheap!  I already own several of the soundtracks and musical scores on CD as well as the Music for a Darkened Theater collection CDs.  I have t-shirts, posters, toys from these movies.  I have literally already spent thousands of dollars on these movies over the years.  Do I really need to spend another $500?  I am a repeat customer, can't I get a 10% discount of something for my loyalty?

Thirdly, this is one of the things that pisses me off the most about the entertainment industry and leads to piracy.  I hate when music companies only release certain tracks through huge expensive box sets or re-releases.  There is only so many times that I will buy an album...but yet, you keep making changes and re-releasing it with new tracks.  Of course I want the new tracks but it's an album that I already have purchased the album on vinyl, cassette, you want me to pay for it all again for 2 extra tracks?  Why can't I just get the 2 tracks (PS - thank you itunes for helping with this)?  Once again, why can't I get a discount for having already purchased this.  Or even worse, only put the music on a super expensive or limited edition box set that few can afford.  I don't support piracy, I believe in paying people for a job done...but in these situations, how can I not think that piracy is the best option?  I seriously hope that someone takes the fancy little flash drive that this comes with this set and uploads it the day that it comes out.

Finally, that thing is huge!  Where the heck would I put it.  Looks to be over a cubic foot of packaging.  Do I really need the box to be a zoetrope?  No, no I don't.  I would much rather just have everything in a nice and tight little fact, I would be happy just to be able to get the flash drive and save all the expense of the box, the zoetrope, the CDs, etc...  This is just way too bulky to be sitting around my house collecting dust.

A very cool idea...but I wish I could just get them music.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Ummm...that doesn't really help.

I buy things on eBay.  Not a lot, but probably more than many people.  I have seen all kinds of stupidity throughout the 12+ years that I have frequented eBay, but I am still always surprised by some people's idiocy.  Today I am annoyed by people who list auctions for "pickup only" but they don't list their exact location.

I have an automatic notice set up for listed pinball machines in the state of Iowa....but I kept getting notices of auctions that listed a locations for such things as "Iowa" or "Hawkeye Country" or something similarly stupid.  I understand that selling a "pickup only" pinball machine is probably not their normal items...but seriously it is annoying when you don't list your city.  Iowas is about 56,000 square miles...yes, for the right machine and the right price I would drive to nearly any corner of the state, but you are pretty much automatically making me skip your auction due to the fact you don't list where I am going to have to go.  You could be 10 miles away or you could be 300 miles.  I don't know and chances are that I am not going to go through the trouble of finding out.  I figure that if you aren't comfortable listing your city on eBay, you are probably some sketchy idiot and the auction is going to be nothing but a headache for me.  Admittedly, I am a lazy consumer...but one with a fair amount of walking around money - you as the seller are the one that loses out in this situation.  Seriously, just list your city when you have a pickup auction.  You don't even have to change your profile, just throw your zip code in the item description.  It is SO easy, much easier than having me email and wait for you to get back to me.

End Hate

Monday, December 6, 2010

...No Service

I ran across this at Target a few months ago...

Yep, Twilight Barbies.  I wasn't really surprised, I suppose many young girls would like to recreate the domestic abuse type relationships, low self-esteem, and pedophilia that the books and movies seem to advocate.  I guess if I was going for cool doll gifts, I would probably go with the Monster High Dolls...they are at least slightly (very slightly) more original.

I was however, disturbed by the Jake doll.  He comes with shorts and shoes.  I heard he doesn't wear his shirt too much in the newest movie and that they want to show off his wash-board abs...but couldn't they at least throw a shirt in the box?  Everyone else has a shirt AND a jacket.  Does he always have to walk around Barbie land half clothed?  He can't go out to eat with the other Barbies, he can't go to the store.  Poor Jake, always left out for want of a shirt.

One great thing I did find was the selling points on for Jake:

Product Features

  • Based on the #1 New York Times Best Selling book series Twilight
  • Inspired by the character from the New Twilight film, New Moon
  • Jacob Black as a werewolf
  • Girls won't wait to get their hands on Jacob
  • For the adult collector

Not only is it funny, but wouldn't you want to use "can't" instead of "won't".  It just sounds strange.

But maybe Mattel was actually trying to prove a point about how U.S. policies over the past 150 years have left the majority of native Americans well below the poverty level.  It is not that Jake doesn't want a shirt...but he can't afford one.  He is stuck on the reservation, jobless and penniless.  OK, maybe not.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanks For Your Caution

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the driver today who decided to switch lanes without signalling or apparently looking.  I really did want to drive on the shoulder and the grass instead of in the lane that I had been comfortably driving for the past few miles.  Thank you for providing me this opportunity!  My fault really, I must have sneaked into your blind spot when you started passing me about two blocks earlier.  Sorry for only driving the speed limit and forcing you to go around me, I know you really needed back into the right hand lane for that right turn you were about take in a short two and a half miles down the road.

No - not me.

I must admit that I really did like the sign similar to this hanging in your back window.  Is it 1988 again?  My mock-up doesn't really do justice to the one that you had!  I mean it just screamed every other driver must be an idiot.  You know those signs were originally meant to signal police and rescue workers in the event of an accident, not meant to inform all other drivers to be cautious, right?  I mean, do you think people are sitting in traffic thinking that they are going to ram you but then back off because there is a baby inside?  Might I suggest that you take you sign and stick it to the windshield so that you can have a reminder to drive cautiously yourself? You were obviously the worst driver out there this morning.  Hope your kid pays better attention in Driver's Ed in 15 years.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Surprised He's a Douche Again (not really)

Anyone else see the Kanye West interview on the Today Show this morning?  The one where Kanye talks about being regretful about calling Bush a racist because he was later called a racist when he interrupted Taylor Swift during the Mtv Video Music Awards.

I'm gonna let you finish...but I am gonna be a douche right now.

Anyhow, Matt Lauer was describing it and Kanye starts to respond and the news crews starts to play the clip from the VMAs while he is talking and Kanye gets pissed!  "Yo...How am I supposed to talk when you are trying to run this thing in the middle while I am talking?"  Clearly upset. "Please don't let that happen's ridiculous."

You can see the video here...about 5:50 is when the VMA part starts.

Kanye, I hope you now realize how much it sucks to be interrupted by Kanye West.  I know Taylor forgave you but it was still a douche move.  Hopefully someday, you realize that you just need to shut up.

I thought it was HILARIOUS that you got agree at being interrupted by yourself.  Heck, you even asked people offset to be quiet.  Man, you really don't like to be intruded upon, but yet you still did it much worse to Taylor Swift than anyone has ever done to you.   And that shit was cool to play while you were speaking about Bush because it was relevant to what you were talking about at the moment...stop being a whiner in your Tweets.  Douche, maybe you should learn some respect before expecting it from others.


Hey, Peter man, check out channel 9
I know I've mentioned it before but I really hate when TV shows are canceled before their time...I hate being left hanging.  This is all more poignant to me after having just finished the DVD set of Defying favorite new show of last fall and highly recommended.  Yes, it only has 13 episodes but each episode is great and packs a lot of intelligence and emotion into each episode.  I was pissed when ABC canceled this show after showing only half the episodes.  ABC ordered 13 episodes, so I assume they paid for 13 episodes...why not throw the last ones on the air at 2am?  Wouldn't that be better than doing nothing?  I don't know, I am not a TV exec.  Anyhow, watching the DVDs reminded me at how sad it was to have this show canceled.

However, I am finding it hard to feel the same way about Syfy (that still makes me want to puke) cancelling Caprica a couple of weeks ago.

A little personal history - I didn't watch the Battlestar Galatica redux series until after it was completed.  Mainly because I thought my DVR was missed episodes when it first started showing.  This ended up being a miscommunication since the first few episodes were combined into the pilot movie.  In my error, I couldn't stand watching a show like BSG where I missed a couple episodes.  Each episode seemed too important, too amazing to miss.  So finally, I deleted the episodes off my DVR and didn't watch more than a random half episode here or there before the series was over.  I am actually surprised that I made it without anyone having spoiled the show or the ending for me.

I didn't start watching BSG, until the entire series was over and released on DVD.  Once I started watching it, I could not stop.  The first thing that pulled me in was the situational stress - a tiny remnant of humanity, forced into aging and ships, fleeing with no supplies.  In addition to the danger of the Cylons finding them, there was always the pressure of fuel, food, and vacuum of space.  Add to that possible traitors, hidden spies, factions among the remaining humans and every episode was tense.  Even if the episode didn't seem that tense, there was always this backdrop of danger.  BSG had much more than that though, the characters were well written and had a great depth.  There were heroes and villains, and everything else in between - military, civilians, people thrown out of their league, people struggling to live and overcome their adversity.  It is a special show where heroes can develop into villains and villains into heroes.  It is an odd show where many different opinions exist about every character and they are all right.  I think the misunderstanding for people who didn't watch Battlestar Galatica was that they thought it was an action series.  It did have plenty of action in the form of spaceship dog fights and the occasional shootout with cylons but it really was a small part of the series after the first couple episodes.  More important were characters and their interactions, myth, and destiny.  It was truly an epic saga and probably one of the best series that has ever been on TV.

Watching six seasons of BSG within a month and a half instead of 5 years had it's advantages.  It was nice not having to wait between seasons and I probably noticed some details that other might have missed between episodes.  But there was one major disadvantage, everyone else I knew had already watched it.  This meant that we couldn't talk about this week's episode or discuss theories.  It had already happened for all of my friends and I didn't want to risk ruining my viewing of my next DVD.  I missed all the social aspect of the series and that makes me a little sad (same thing happened with Lost).

I thought this photo captured the depth and intricacies
of the characters perfectly.
So when Caprica was announced I was excited to be able to watch the show as it aired and have the social experience of discussing it with others in a timely manner.  Unfortunately, the first episode aired and it was pretty meh.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't really gripping either.  I could see promise though and hoped it would develop into something wonderful and surprising.  I'm sure my expectations were a little higher than they should have been because I knew it was going to be a different kind of show than BSG.  The creators and producers had announced that very early on and I was OK with that.

The actors were good, the special effects were decent, but for me it was the story and characters that I had issues with.  It's not that the stories and characters were bad, it just seemed to be unraveling the parts of BSG that I liked.  Well not unraveling, so much as destroying.

Destroyed Myth #1:  Monotheism was a robot invention.  In Battlestar Galatica, the humans were polytheistic.  They basically worshiped versions of our Greek gods...but the cylons, the robots were monotheistic.  One god, similar in form to Christianity/Judaism/Islam.  Did their super computer brains deduce there was only one god, was it a corruption in their programming?  It was never explained but I always found it very compelling to have it scripted this way.  Caprica has human monotheistic cults, and one of them just happens to have their memory loaded into the first cylon prototype...the cylon that will be copied for all future cylons, so the "one god" idea was a human idea.  For me, cylons lost some of their danger...they weren't thinking as radically different from humans as I thought.
Destroyed Myth #2:  Cylons evolved artificial intelligence.  Again, I thought that man created the cylons and overtime corruption or deduction led to cylon artificial intelligence.  Nope, their intelligence is due to the brain scan loaded into the first cylon...without this the cylons were useless.
Destroyed Myth #3:  Cylons were created to benefit society.  I don't know if it was ever specifically mentioned, but for some reason I thought the cylons were created to be helpful to the human race.  Yes, they would provide labor and the workforce, allowing humans to be more creative and enjoy themselves.  I thought that later they cylons were co-opted for military purposes or maybe only because violent when they rebelled.  Not so.  According to Caprica, their first purpose was military purposes.  Of course if you create something evil it will turn on you, I found it much more compelling when I thought something created in a good spirit became bitter and turned on their creators.

There are many more ideas that I had which Caprica just destroyed but those are some of the main tenets in my mind.  The show had more problems than that though.  The main thing that really turned me off were that all characters were pretty morally corrupt.  There just wasn't a character that I could relate too (being such a bastion of virtue that I am).  I found it hard to watch and felt that I didn't have anyone to root for.  Do you root for the business man that will do anything to make money, the members of the mob, or the religious cult with terrorist intentions?  I couldn't relate to any of them.  It was not like BSG where semi-normal people were thrown into a situation where they were forced to make the best of all bad choices...the Caprica characters were just kind of evil from the beginning.

I also was hoping for more of the other eleven planets of the twelve colonies in Battlestar Galactica.  Yes, it was named obviously most of the story will take place there but I hoped to see more of the other planets.  And when they did show the other planets?  All indoor shots.  It was disappointing.  To have a solar system to use but yet to focus on only one location.  I was also disappointed in the views of Caprica City.  I think they were trying to show it as a society at it's peak, were everything starts to become corrupt...but even so, it just didn't feel quite right.  BSG takes place less than 60 years later and it is a beautiful and idyllic place. From the corruption and dirtiness of Caprica to the peacefulness of BSG in 60 years...including a 10+ year war in-between?  It just didn't see right.
Caprica's Cylon
But and image I couldn't get out of my brain was the cylon itself.  At first glance, I was like that is pretty bad ass.  Of course, it is bulkier and not as refined as the cylons of the future but it is pretty good.  But the more I saw it, the more it disturbed me.  It was several episodes in before I decided what it was...and my perception is totally affected by my knowing that Zoe's (the creators daughter) personality is loaded inside.  I think those are ammo magazines encircling its waist but combine that with the two silver ol' timey microphone looking things on it's chest and this is what I see every single time (color enhanced for your pleasure).  I really wish I didn't.

What I wish I didn't see

That all being said, Caprica wasn't horrible.  I did keep coming back and watching week after week...but it was usually the show on my DVR that I would watch last.  The show I would watch when I had run out of other stuff to watch.  I did find some of it interesting, I just didn't find it nearly as engrossing as Battlestar Galactica had been.  I am slightly disappointed to see it go, because I think that maybe it would have evolved into something better.  However, it's cancellation supposedly has allowed Syfy (ack) to change the planned webisode series Blood and Chrome into a regular television series.  Blood and Chrome is purported to be centered around the first Cylon war...the war where the robots rebelled.  It sounds like it will be closer in feeling to BSG than to Caprica.  I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's People!

I love breakfast cereal.  Whenever I get a box, I will usually have one bowl or cereal with milk and then eat the rest straight out of the box over then next day or two.  I am a firm believer in the Chuck Biscuits' theory of cerealogy - "All breakfast cereal, ALL breakfast cereal should have sugar...and lots of it."  If a cereal doesn't have sugar, sugar must be added.  A few spoonfuls of sugar can make even the grossest cereal tasty and then you have the delicious milk syrup afterwards.

However, Chuck and I disagree with his taste preferences because I have never been one for marshmallows in my cereal.  Cereal marshmallows are gross, although admittedly fun to squish against the top of your mouth.  Breakfast cereals have a distinct hierarchy in my house.

  1. Fruity Pebbles
  2. Cookie Crisp
  3. Cocoa Krispies
  4. Cap'n Crunch Berries (but not the all Crunch Berry variety)
  5. Frosted Flakes
  6. Cinnamon Life
  7. Apple Jacks
  8. Cracklin' Oat Bran
  9. Raisin Bran
  10. Everything Else
  11. Kix (worst of the worst)

There has been something that has disturbed me ever since I was a kid about Fruity Pebbles.  I understand they are supposed to be little fruity rocks, and who better to advertise little fruity rocks than the boys from Bedrock - Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.  Genius, right?  Until you start thinking that Fred's daughter was named Pebbles.  How did the marketing guys not think about this?  I always get this picture in my head (especially after seeing The Wall in the mid-80's).  Whenever I grab a bowl, this thought always goes through my mind "Fruity's people!" ala Soylent Green.

Even if it is people, it is still delicious.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #1

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

1. Urge Overkill, Iowa City early 2004

When talking to people, it seems that most people only know Urge Overkill from their cover of Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon on the Pulp Fiction Soundtrack.  I guess it is better than them not knowing Urge Overkill at all but  it was always a little disappointing because UO had so much great original music.  You have probably heard other Urge Overkill songs like Sister Havana and Positive Bleeding, but just didn't realize it was UO.

Urge Overkill wrote killer rock songs.  It was just a great blend of guitar riffs, catchy vocals, and an awesome dynamic.  UO had two lead singers in the band and they switched off on the various songs.  Nato Kash seemed to be the singer of most of the songs that got released as singles, but King Roeser could definitely hold his own, it was just a little different style.  I enjoyed both.  In my mind these guys were the atypical understated rock gods - talented and cool as hell but still under the radar of most people.

I was disappointed that I had never got to see Urge Overkill live when they broke up in 1997.  I don't remember how we heard about the show but all of a sudden UO was scheduled to play in Iowa City sometime in 2004.  We were both very excited for the show and I spent the next couple weeks listening to all my UO albums preparing.  The show was at a newer bar called Iowa City Yacht Club.  We hadn't heard of ICYC but it seemed like the owners were really into two things - good music and barbecue.  Day of the show Kelly and I decided to head to Iowa City quite a bit earlier than we normally would have for a concert to check the place out and get some ribs.

We arrived at the ICYC around 5pm, the show started around 8pm.  The place is pretty dead when we arrive and we order some ribs.  While sitting there waiting for our food, we were like "Huh, I think that is the band at the bar."  It was.  Most of the band looked like they had a few drinks and went about other business.  Not Nato Kash.  Nato looked to be hitting (unsuccessfully) on young girls and continued drinking.  We wait quite a while for our food but it is pretty good once it finally does arrive.  We finish eating about 2 hours after we first arrive and Nato is still drinking at the bar.  Eventually, the opening band Lost Vegas takes the stage.  Lost Vegas was a really good rock band, reminding me somewhat of Junkyard.  This Lost Vegas is not to be confused with Last Vegas or any of several Lost Vegas tribute bands.  These guys were out and out rock and it was a great set.  They seem to have disappeared in the years since.  Unfortunately, that was the peak of the night.  Sometime during Lost Vegas' set, Nato finally left the bar.

Lost Vegas played their set and then it was time to wait.  Lost Vegas did exactly what a good opening band is supposed to do.  The crowd was primed and pumped up and ready to rock out with Urge Overkill.  But we wait.  Roadies switch over all the equipment and do the sound check.  We wait, and wait, and wait.  In my opinion, switchover and breaks between bands should be 15 minutes...half hour tops.  We waited for about an hour and a where near GNR, but way too long.  By the time most of Urge Overkill starts populating the stage, my excitement had flagged noticeably and I just wanted to get the show started.  One Nato Kash.  After about another 15-20 minutes, Nato finally shows up.  He is being helped down the stairs (this club is in the basement of a building) by the manager/roadie.  OK, he wasn't being helped, he was basically being carried.  You could see his feet not working and he couldn't make the coordinated effort to conquer the steps.

Updated for accuracy

Kelly and I both look at each other and think that this doesn't bode well.  Finally, Nato arrives on stage and despite being very drunk is able to hold his guitar and stand up with only moderate stumbling.  At one point he sort of rests his forehead against the microphone like the coolness of it is awesome.  I thought he was going to vomit.  Urge Overkill starts to play...and it is not good.  Nato is unable to play and unable to sing.  The band seems to try to stick with songs fronted by King, but Nato's guitar playing and background vocals are terrible.  The roadie/guitar tech tries turning down Nato's guitar amp in the sound mixer, but Nato keeps jacking up the knob on his cabinet and when it is shut off completely he gets pissed so his levels are brought back up.  You know when your own sound guy is trying to cut you out of the mix that something is really amiss.  It really doesn't sound good...but the first few songs are all songs that they crowd seems to be unfamiliar with (I'm guessing most people had only heard the couple songs played on the radio).  Everyone is cheering except for Kelly and I, who are booing.  It is THAT bad.  I don't think I have every booed anything before or since, but it was the only response.  No one else seemed to notice the awfulness the first couple songs but that was because Nato was playing a minor role.  Unfortunately, the third song featured Nato more notably.  His guitar riffs were a total mess, but his singing was a real train wreck.  Wrong lyrics, slurred, off time and tone.  Finally, a couple others in the crowd start to notice and after our booing after the song, someone else joins in with "Yeah that was pretty assy."  Nato started molesting the next song and Kelly and I are no longer only booing between songs.  It is awful, it is not right what is happening with this music.  We are now booing Nato whenever he tries to sing.  Once again their sound guy tries to stop Nato's musical rape by turning off his microphone but Nato wouldn't take it and grabs the microphone from King.

Kelly and I were then asked to leave by a bouncer.  He even kind of threatened Kelly when he started to argue.  This is the only time that I have ever been kicked out of any place.  2 hours driving to get there, $50 in tickets, $40 in ribs, 4 hours of waiting...and we get kicked out after 4 songs.  What are you supposed to do in such a situation?  As a fan at a show your only recourse is your voice.  Our booing wasn't nearly as bad as what was happening on stage.  I have to think when Urge Overkill started playing their more popular songs that other people in the crowd would notice how awful it really was.  Although I am not a person who usually boos, this concert compelled me to.  I emailed the Iowa City Yacht Club (ICYC) the next day about the bullshit of kicking us out and they said that UO's management apologized to the club and promised that somehow they would make up for the terrible obviously ICYC complained too, they just had someone to talk to directly.  Of course, ICYC didn't apologize to us.  Claimed we were "disturbing other fans."  I have been to many shows were other people have booed.  It never bothered me one bit, its just one of those things that happens.  Most the time, I never even notice because I am caught up in the music.  Oh well.  I haven't been back to the Iowa City Yacht Club or listened to an Urge Overkill CD since...and I don't have any desire to.  Both are pretty much dead to me.

So what makes this the worst show?  Both a combination of a terrible show with horrible treatment from the club...the funny thing is that we would have probably left in a couple songs anyways (it was that bad) but the fact that the club took the time to actually kick us out just confirmed the fact that everything about this show sucked ass.  Nato, I can't even tell you how pathetic the whole thing was...and it could have been so great, but you wanted to be a drunk.  Fuck you.  I see you are just now coming out with new music, I probably would have been the first in line but now I have no respect for you and no desire to listen to your music.  Just remember a great show can make fans but a show where you show up as a drunken asshole can alienate your biggest fans.

That's it.  My top ten.  I am glad it's actually took a lot more out of me writing these posts that I would have guessed.  Instead of Two Minutes Hate, each post was like an hour of hate and I was always tired afterwards.  Reliving these shows stirred up all the bad memories and they still make me angry.  These posts are actually much more articulate than I often feel because otherwise today's post would have basically been "Urge Overkill, you suck, you drunk, fucking asshole. Fuck you, you fucking, fucker."  Although that feels right, it really doesn't explain much.  I want these posts to help people understand what makes a show horrible, because I still see many of these mistakes repeated over and over by both large and small bands.

I might do a "Worst Shows - Honorable Mentions" post in the next couple weeks but it won't deal with each show as in depth.  I also plan to do a Top Ten Greatest Shows Ever series, but I really need a little break from writing about shows and music.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #2

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

2. Saigon Kick - Third Street Live/Big Dogs, Cedar Rapids February 12, 2000

This might have been an OK concert if my expectations hadn't been set so high by a previous concert 4 or 5 years earlier.

Although I knew of Saigon Kick in the early 90's, they had gotten pigeon-holed in my brain due to their one huge hit Love is On the Way.  I think the same thing happened for most people.  Even though I kind of liked the song, the video was played so often that anytime I heard Saigon Kick, all I could think of was Matt (the lead singer) trying to act all sexy and sensitive with the microphone.  Not really a picture that I wanted stuck in my was even worse than Jason's (the guitarist) poodle hair.  I know a friend had played the full album of The Lizard for me a couple of times but I was never able to get into it.  At the time I was very metal and full of angst, so all I wanted to listen to was Megadeth or similar.

This was a mistake on my part.  Saigon Kick would be lost to me for several years.  A few years later while rooming with my good friend db and working for my college's student radio station KGRK (now KULT), I heard that they were playing a gig in Cedar Rapids.  Even though not a huge fan, I was intrigued and cocnerts were my main way to let of steam.  I was reintroduced to Saigon Kick and this time it clicked.  These guys were talented, wrote great songs, and had awesome harmonization.  db played their older albums and I grabbed the new release from the radio station...unfortunately, I didn't have too long to get into the music the concert was only a week or 10 days away and it was the end of the semester which meant papers and projects were due.  I went into the concert only vaguely familiar with SK's music.  I wasn't sure what to expect...I knew they had lost their singer and their guitarist had taken over singing duties.  With as much harmonization that the band had, I wondered if all the talent had walked and these guy's were still trying to ride the coattails.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  Jason (guitarist turned singer/guitarist) seemed to be the talented one and I quickly went from being weary to enjoying one of the best shows I have seen (except for the ballerina chick hitting on/dancing for my brother Kelly throughout the show - that was just weird).

Unfortunately, after this tour Saigon Kick kind of drops off the planet for a while...once again I am late to the party.  SK released a Live/Greatest Hits and then their final CD Bastards was only released in Japan...but for all intents and purposes the band no longer existed in the United States.  I had heard that the band had broken up.  Around 2000-2001 I heard that Saigon Kick was touring again and were once again stopping in Cedar Rapids at Big Dogs...the same location as the last concert.  I was excited...the last show had been so killer that I couldn't wait for this one, plus I was infinitely more familiar with their music so I would be able to sing along, request songs, etc...  By this time, Saigon Kick had become one of my favorite bands.

I was on pins and needles due to anticipation for a couple months but disturbing details began to emerge.  Jason (who had impressed me so much) had indeed left the band and formed Super TransAtlantic and Saigon Kick was touring as "The Original Lineup" even though I was pretty sure Jason was in the original lineup.  I convinced myself that A) Matt couldn't be that bad as he sang on the first couple records which were very good, and B) the rest of the band totally kicked ass just five years ago, not that much could have changed with them right?

Wrong.  Saigon Kick (The Original Lineup, AKA:TOL) came out with a bored and uninterested air that lasted throughout the show.  It wasn't terrible when taken by itself...but when compared to the earlier show it was a night and day difference.  No intensity, no energy...this was really the show that I was kind of expecting 5 years ago.  You know when you go to a live show and it just envelops you but then you get home and listen to the record and it just sounds flat?  That was how these two concerts compared...the Original Lineup just sounded flat and drab.

Here are a few things that I found especially lame about the show.
1) Ego Attack - With Matt back in the back band, Saigon Kick (TOL) only played music from their first two albums.  Although I understand Matt not wanting to play music from when he wasn't in the band, it is forcing the other members to abandon 2-3 albums worth of material that they worked hard on...and it is great material.  Matt could have swallowed some ego and admitted that the band didn't revolve just around him.  I've seen this happen with other bands too but it always seems like a dick move.  Matt, you are playing a concert for 50 people are no longer a rock star.  Bite the bullet and play some of the great music even though it wasn't your it was your material was getting stretched really thin by the end of the show.

2) Heroin break - OK, I guess I don't know that it was heroin but I am sure something was ingested.  After a couple songs, Matt walks off stage.  Matt looked normal.  Everyone stood around for about 10-15 minutes waiting for him to return.  It was like an encore break two songs in!  It was lame.  Matt does come back but looks pretty fucking far from normal.  His skin was now flushed a bright red...not a healthy pink color, he was red (Hellboy red).  The veins in his neck now looked like rope overlaid his skin.  And of course, he now had to wear sunglasses for a couple songs.  Never having done drugs, I don't really understand the appeal but this definitely didn't look pleasant, I thought the guys was going to stroke out on stage.  He did finish the show without dying though, I'll give him that.

3) Muffin top - Some of the band members.  Specifically the guitarist and the bassist decided to wear a either no shirt or a fishnet shirt and tight leather pants.  They wore the exact same outfit 5 years earlier and looked decent.  Now however, they were about 20 pounds heavier and no longer had the chiseled muscles.  They would have looked alright in jeans and a t-shirt, but these outfits were too revealing for their new body types.  Yep, complete muffin top spilling over the tops of there parts.  It pretty much summed up "has-been" in my mind at the time.

4) No Harmony - Saigon Kick's vocals have always seemed to be built around harmonization, much like Alice in Chains was.  Originally, I thought Matt was the key, but after seeing the previous concert I realized that Jason was the master harmonizer.  Matt can sing, but he could not harmonize with the band.  Jason was great at doing both.  Without the harmonization the vocals just seemed flat and you were only getting one side of a stereo recording.  The depth and emotion was completely missing.

Here is a video from the concert that someone posted on youtube.  I am sure you can see the back of Kelly & I's heads a few times.  Listening to it again, I once again think that it was an OK show but expectations were probably too high due to the previous incredible show.  Even with Jason it still might have been disappointing...but with Matt it probably never stood a chance.

Even though this was a disappointing show, I would still go see Saigon Kick any time they come through on tour...and with recently minted website and facebook account, who knows?  I really wish Jason would be part of it too.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.