Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And in the same vein as my last post...

...I got a ticket in the mail yesterday for $50.00. It seems I ran a red light in Brooklyn a month ago and photo radar busted me. I don't remember doing it and try to drive responsibly, but the pictures don't lie, and they included the pictures with the ticket, which was quite kind of them.

So yeah, over the last two weeks.... almost $300 in window repairs, $45 for parking on the wrong side of the damn street and $50 for running a red light. Guess that quick trip to GA we were hoping to take at the end of the month is off, because after those expenses, various birthday gifts for wife, mother and son, and then Christas gifts... I'm plum out of money until January. I've got enough to make it all work, which I'm thankful for, as many don't, but yeah, the extra I was planning to use for the trip is now depleted.

There'll be other trips, and timing wise it's a horrible time at work for me to be away as we're in the middle of massive projects that I'm quite involved in, but it's still a bummer.

The good news is, the money I set aside for this weekend's commando run to the great white north is still intact. I'm looking forward to that, even if it'll be hectic and rushed and a lot of driving.

This last weekend we went and saw Toxic Avenger: The Musical in honor of Alison's birthday on Sat. and this is one of those cases where you can believe the hype - it's one of the funniest live theater productions I've ever seen and very much in the spirit of the movie that inspired it. We had a blast with that. The next night we went and saw the 4th Annual Twisted Sister Twisted Christmas on Broadway show, which despite starting two hours later than it was supposed to, was equally impressive and loads of fun.

That's about it for now.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sometimes I do unintelligent things.

On Tuesday I was sure that it was Wednesday, so I parked on the East side of the street. But it wasn't Wednesday, it was Tuesday, so I got a $45 parking ticket. When I saw the ticket, I paid it online immediately even though I had sixty days to do it. Because of that, without thinking, I put my checking account into overdraft and got hit with a $30 charge.

Last week I went into a Kosher pizza joint around the corner from my office and got confused when I asked for a slice of pepperoni and got glared at. A few days prior to that and I forgot my mother's birthday. Sort of. I got her a gift, but forgot to call her or send it to her. I blame last week's window breaking incident for distracting me but I still felt bad.

Yesterday instead of using the ramp at work to slide a box from the mezzanine level to the ground level in our warehouse I decided to carry it, forgetting that the stairs are narrow. I hit the wall with the box, my hand in between the two, and now have a nice pair of bloody and potentially scarred fingers to show for it.

On the bright side I have a glass of red wine and a Klaus Kinski movie going on right now. My wife kicks ass and despite my periodic scurmishes with stupidity, I like life. So it's not all bad, but yeah, this was kind of a week of odd little mental boners on my part.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You get the good with the bad....

Last weekend we went and saw the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Now, I'm not normally one for Christmas Spectaculars, but Alison's mom wanted to take us and I'd never been to Radio City before and thought that it was a very nice gesture of her to offer, so we all took the train into the city to check it out. The building was beautiful despite the blatant corporate sponsorship (Capital One, do you really need that many logos all over the place?). The show? I was able to enjoy it on a techincal level. The Rockettes, aside from being a bunch of well put together gals, perform with such amazing synchronicity that they're almost like robots. To have to wear those incredibly fake smiles plastered across your face for ninety minutes straight while kicking your legs over your head a few hundred times can't be easy. You've got to respect the training and coordination that goes into putting something like that on - it wasn't necessarily something I need to see again but I'm glad I went once to experience a bit of New York's history and tradition. And after that the mom-in-law took us out for delicious hamburgers, so it was a win in.

So after work last night I found that some kind soul had not only dumped a bag of dirtclods and rocks on the hood of my car, but they'd also had the good sense to toss a big block of wood through the rear panel window of my car while I was in the office. This rear panel of glass is curved and tinted and is also the most expensive piece of glass on the car. I had it fixed today for the princely sum of $277.22 after taxes. Bastard vandals. There was nothing in the car to take, someone just did it for the sake of doing it.

I made up for that last night by going to see the Pixies at the Hammersmith Ballroom in Manhattan. Gorgeous venue, great show, wonderful sound. I'd never seen them live before and watching them it was like having a wave of sound push you. It was almost surreal.

A few low quality camera phone pictures...

Aside from paying for broken cars and checking out overpriced 90s college rock bands (who played the entire Doolittle album from start to finish along with all of the b-sides before mixing it up with a bunch of other material for the two encores), not much else is new. Married life is still good. Tolch is coming this weekend to visit and we're going to have an early birthday party for Alison. The weekend after I'm taking her to the Twisted Sister Christmas show again, then the week after that we're heading back to Canada for a quick visit. The weekend after that we have the Street Dogs/Stigma/Roger Miret show. And then before you know it, it's Christmas. This'll be a busy month coming up for sure, but tonight I think I'm just going to eat Chinese food in my underwear and hang out with my wife and watch movies. There's something to be said for turning off your brain every once in a while.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gambling, Punk Rock, Stoner Rap... and marriage!

So the marriage certificate arrived the other day. Alison and I are officially husband and wife. It'll take a while to get used to the ring, but it feels good. It feels right. More real, I guess, more official. We'd always said we didn't need to get married and that it wouldn't change things, but it definitely has, and all for the better. Life just feels more solid right now and I know we've done the right thing. I couldn't be happier, really. Sure, life can still be complicated and yeah my back is sore from working in the warehouse today and okay, fine, my credit card bills could be lower than they are but these are minor things, things I can't really be bothered to fret over. Not to say I intend to shirk responsibility in these matters, only to say that money's only money and my back will be fine after a good night's sleep.

But yeah, the wedding was perfect in pretty much every way. I've talked about it elsewhere and don't know that I need to repeat myself at this point but it went off even better than I think either of us imagined. Noland did a really great job on the ceremony, treating it all with the right amount of respect but never coming across as stuff or dulll, while Mr. Miller's guitar playing was entirely appropriate and beautiful in its own goofy way. Alison looked stunningly beautiful and she continues to remind me daily how lucky I am to have her. I'd have liked to have seen more family there from my side, but not everyone can afford to travel and some of those who can afford it just can't do it. Period. So obviously there are no hard feelings there, even if there is a tinge of sadness about it.

So after the wedding she and I went to Atlantic City to see Social Distortion. This was my seventh time seeing them, having been a fan since I was twelve or thirteen, and it was the best show I'd seen in quite some time from them. Mike Ness seems content to play in a rock and roll band now rather than a punk band, and while the merch booth was expensive and far too extensive, at least they didn't play Antifashion and make hypocrites of themselves. Mike's not getting any younger and at this point in the game I can't begrudge him making some money off of the name so long as he keeps putting out good music and putting on good shows and so far he has. Which is good, cause tattoos don't come off all that easily.

The morning after we decided to gamble $20 each and at the first slot I played I left with $965.50, at which point I decided to call it quits for the day. We had a nice dinner and wandered around and under the boardwalk, saw some sights, encountered a weird guy drinking Busch light and watched idiotic surfers catch mediocre waves in really cold temperatures. AC was neat. It's like Coney Island and Vegas rolled in to one. Just be careful where you go, cause parts of it are obviously tough.

A few days after the wedding Teenage Bottlerocket came into town with The Cobra Skulls supporting. It was an early show, I got there just as the Cobra Skulls were going on. Alison, sadly, missed them. They were great. High enegry, agreeable left leaning political rants, great guitar riffs and just a really solid bounciness to them. I talked to the guitar player and the vocalist briefly after the show simply because I wanted to tell them how much I appreciated their music lately. I also felt really old, the only guy over thirty pogoing up front in a see of teenagers. But whatever. Teenage Bottlerocket came on next and we opted to sit at the bar and watch from afar not because it was a rough crowd but because we were tired. They put on a solid show too, and ignored my hollaring at them to 'PLAY A LILLINGTONS SONG!' They did do a cover of Poison's 'Talk Dirty To Me' that was pretty funny, so I guess that counts for something.

Last week I won tickets from a radio station webstite to the Cypress Hill show in Times Square. I still get a kick out of them even if I'm not into weed and their glory days are behind them. We're going to go check it out, cause why not, it's free. If we're bombared with second hand smoke or don't like the environment we can always leave and not have to worry about having wasted money. I think it'll be fun.

Other than that, Halloween is on Sat. and Jackson Heights always has a good Halloween parade where all the kids dress up and cruise up and down the ave. our apt. building is on. It was fun last year and it'll probably be fun this year too, even if it is supposed to rain.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Three weeks and counting...

...till we're gonna done get hitched. Yee-haw.

We got the license the other day (I braved the Queens county clerk's office with a nasty cold). We're working on the vows. We've got some music selected (Dictators and Pogues, of course) and we've got the deposit down on the cake. The money is in place more or less and this is actually shaping up to be a pretty kick ass shindig if I do say so myself.

Weddings are generally boring and stuffy. Ours is going to be fun. Why shouldn't it be? Shouldn't it be a celebration? To Hell with pomp and circumstance, ours is going to be a party.

On a completely unrelated note, see this movie:

Observe And Report

And the new Teenage Bottlerocket album is really good. Can't wait to see them play with the Cobra Skulls in Brooklyn on 10/23.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some recent additions to the collection...

Check it out, Alison got me this for my birthday a few months back. It's an original video release poster for the one and only Rock N Roll Nightmare, a movie which not only a personal favorite but kind of a notch in my belt in that I helped out on the DVD and after doing so got to meet Thor a few times, even getting to get on stage with him where he wrapped a mic stand around my neck. How cool is this?

Despite the fact that we have no wall space nor money for proper framing, Alison and I continue to acquire all manner of great, oddball, old movie posters. Some day, when we win the lottery or some wealthy distant relative leaves us enough money to buy a house and build a proper movie room we'll get all this stuff on display, until then, they sit in storage, seen only on the internet of all places. Kinda sad when you think about it, I'm of the belief that a lot of this stuff should be on display like a sort of trash film museum, but what can you do.

Without further ado... this arrived last week. A surprise gift from a girlfriend/fiance who continues to win at being awesome. Aside from the fact that it's folded, this guy, an original U.S. theatrical one sheet, is in pretty much perfect condition and it pleases me to no end that I own this.

Turning thirty four had its plus points, one of which was receiving this Japanese theatrical poster for the 80s 'teens vs. commie bastards' classic, Red Dawn. If you don't like this movie I don't want to know you.

Toyboy gave this to Alison as just a sort of random gift for no apparant reason. I've never seen it and don't know if it's ever actually even received an English friendly video release and obviously never caught it during its theatrical run as it was made before I was born. Regardless, it's signed by Jess Franco and Lina Romay, which instantly makes it awesome. I love the artwork and the fact that the three people in that painting look nothing like Lina Romay, Robert Foster or Eva Palmer. I like the pseudo-classy art deco style used here. It's not in great shape, but matted and framed I bet it would look really good.

We picked up this European beauty at the recent Fangoria show in NYC held back in June. Jess Franco's Barbed Wire Dolls, one of my bride-to-be's personal favorites, which makes her an awesome choice for a wife above and beyond her more obvious qualities. It's looking like a Spanish piece to me, givne that it uses the Spanish title, but who knows. Either way, it's in very nice shape and it's a tough one to find, especially in this sort of condition.

The fact that for whatever eason this blog likes to crop the pictures annoys me. But I don't feel like reuploading thing. Sorry.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Poor Rusty, Neglected Blog.

I've been busy. It's a busy time right now, so yeah. But man, I haven't written anything in a while.

Wedding plans are going along really nicely. We've got the venue selected for the reception and the deposit put down on it. I think it's going to be the right spot. It's nice enough to work, but not in the least bit highbrow or pretentious. It's a bit of a pain in the ass to get to from Coney Island, but we'll figure that out. There should be enough cars there that it won't be a problem. If not, if people split cab fare it shouldn't be a big deal. We've also scored Social Distortion tickets for that night, meaning after the reception we're hoping in the Honda and driving to Atlantic City for the night to see one of our favorite bands play. It's definitely a cool coincidence that they're playing there that night!

So yeah, invites have gone out, RSVP's are coming in, and it's all coming up faster than I think either of us realized, but that's not a bad thing at all. It'll be nice to have it all taken care of.

In none wedding news, the Street Dogs are coming back and the opening acts are Vinnie Stigma followed by Roger Miret And The Disasters, so it's almost like seeing the SD's with Agnostic Front. Almost. Hopefully they'll team up and do a few AF classics. I'm sure the crowd would appreciate it. We took the train into Manhattan to get tickets at the box office rather than pay Live Nation's $9 rape fee. A $9 surcharge on a $16 ticket is insane. So we made a day out of the trip into Manhattan last weekend. Wandered around the village, hit a record store and got the new Cobra Skulls album, and snagged a copy of the new 2-disc special edition of Stunt Rock at Kim's a week early. These are important things to take care of. Then we feasted on frozen boozy treats and chicken wings before hitting the Fat Black Pussycat for a pint and heading back to the realitive coolness of our apartment. The heat wave has been kicking this city's ass for two weeks straight now. Hopefully the impending hurricance that's supposed to batter the east coast on Sat. breaks some of the humidity. I'd be grateful for the rain if it did that.

Alison's new job seems to be off to a really good start. She seems to like it there and I get the impression that this school will treat her better than the last one. She deserves it as she works really hard and actually cares about her job. You can't say that about a lot of teachers, at least not from my jaded educational experience, so on a personal level I think it's important to take care of the ones that do. The fact that she was let go from her last position based solely on the fact that she made more than other teachers (and had the qualifications to back that up, mind you) was a bit of a middle finger to her. Seeing her land a better paying position with more opportunity and in what looks to be a better and more professional environment makes me happy. Perfect timing too, as she started last week.

Other than that, I'm looking into hopefully heading back to Canada first weekend in October for my step brothers wedding. We'll have to see if the money is there as I'd need to fly to make it happen but it looks like it'll probably happen. It's both awesome and confusing that he and I are getting married so close to one another, but it's not like we planned it this way. Next weekend my mother and sister descend upon our pad for a night for Alison's wedding shower. Sandra's never been to NYC before and while it's a quick 'arrive Sat. and leave Sun' trip, I'm hopeful that Sat. night at least we'll be able to show her around a bit.

Oh, and the other day all the shelves fell off of the walls in my office. This is what I came into work and saw...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hooray for pubs!

So last weekend after driving all over Queens and Brooklyn I think we found the right spot for the wedding reception. It'll require driving from the wedding spot but car pooling is a very realistic option right now so that's not that big a deal. The price is right (hey, we're funding this ourselves!) but more importantly the atmosphere is pretty much exactly what we're looking for. On top of that, they have good food and good beer. Two very important criteria if you ask me.

So yeah, wedding plans are going pretty smoothly. Everything is falling into place on schedule and kinda-sorta-close-enough on budget as well. Life is good.

We spent Sat. hanging out with Horace as kind of a belated birthday celebration for me. He let me raid a stash of old heavy metal CDs and DVDs he was getting rid of so I'm now the proud owner of the Japanese import versions of Manowar's Warriors of the World album (it's got a bonus track and nicer packaging) and Motley Crue's Too Fast For Love (it was an important part of my youth) among a ton of other stuff. From his place we went to the village for some DVD shopping and BBQ. Good times and the perfect weather for strolling around the lower part of Manhattan.

Aside from that, we had a good trip back to Canada earlier this month. It was great to see everyone as always and we found an alternate route that shaved a good hour off of the trip due to traffic flow. Hooray for that.

Oh and I chopped off all my hair. It was getting too hot so I took the clippers to it.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Random Rock Reportings

The new Rancid album came out. These guys have been at it a while now and despite some odd diversions into ska a la The Clash in their later years, have stayed pretty true to their roots though with vocalist Tim Armstrong's Operation Ivy past, maybe he's staying true to his roots too. This new album is good, but what really impressed me is the packaging. For $11.99 I got the CD, a second CD including a surprisingly good acoustic version of many of the songs off of the album, and a DVD packaged inside a nice slipcase with a poster and some goofy collectible guitar picks. Maybe illegal downloads are a good thing after all in that at least they inspire the record companies to give those of us who do still buy records more bang for our buck.

I also picked up the remastered History of Melodie Nelson album from the man himself, Serge Gainsbourg. My Gainsbourg obsession has been growing at a pretty rapid pace over the years as I start to make the (some would say obvious) connections between his stuff and artists I hold near and dear like Pulp, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and the like. The remastering job is fantastic. The production really shines through and you really get a chance to hear how layered this recording is. The liner's translate the lyrics into English from their native French and the saucy cover art featuring a topless Jane Birkin cuddling a big teddy bear is still inspiring. And I mean that in the literal sense, not at all in the 'hey a naked lady' kinda way, though it is remarkable that Gainsbourg got with her and with Bardot within the span of a couple of years. Just goes to show that 'cool' trumps 'handsome' any day of the week.

A co-worker loaned me some of the Neil Young Archives discs, Live At Massey Hall and Live At The Filmore. Both sound great, it's amazing that old live recordings like this can have such clarity decades later. I've been a Neil Young fan since early highschool (as a kid my dad had a copy of Harvest on vinyl when I was a kid that I couldn't get into until early 90s - better late than never) and while I'll admit his voice, like Dylan's or Springsteen's, is an acquired taste, he is in my opinion one of Canada's greatest living songwriters. He's still got a potency to his work that makes him more than just another aging hippy and like Cash in his later years and Kristofferson in his current phase, his music still means something to those of us willing to pay attention to the lyrics. His last two albums haven't wowed me the way his earlier stuff does, but they've got their merits and Living With War makes some good points in the same way that Cash's Heavenly Minded did. I also find that the older and greyer I get, the more I look like him, which is kind of weird.

Tomorrow night we're going to see Hank III play in Brooklyn. I haven't been to a live show in, wow, almost seven months so it's high time I got get my rock on, or in this case, my honky tonk on. There's some good shows coming up, too many in a sense: Agnostic Front, Jarvis Cocker, Naked Raygun, Motorhead with Rev. Horton Heat, Scott Biram, among others. I'd love to go to them all and really take advantage of the music scene here - but it's a matter of time and money and right now we've got a wedding to pay for - obviously that takes priority but I am going to see if we can scrounge together $20 for Scott because he delivers one of the best live shows around right now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Look, ma, I'm on TV!

Well, sort of.

If you go here and watch the video I pop up for a quick second. This is a promo piece for Ratline, a movie made by our friends over at Wicked Pixel Cinema, St. Louis' finest group o' gorehounds and some of the nicest and most talented people you could hope to meet in the indy cinema scene. I'm in this promo video for about as long as I'm probably going to be in the finished movie - about two seconds - but it's kinda fun to see me giggling with a big fake bloody wound in my head.

So what else is new? Well the wedding plans are off to a kick ass start. We've got the contracts inked for just about the coolest venue we could possibly find for the ceremony and its even paid for up front. The bands arrived not too long ago and look even better in person than I figured they would. Things are falling into place nicely and while it's a bit of stress on the old pocket book, we'll find the money to pull it off.

Last weekend we had some friends - Matt, Todd and Paul - show up for the weekend. While Alison was battling the worst case of food poisoning I've ever seen anyone ever get (a night in the hospital hanging out with the IV drip did do her a world of good, thankfully) but was still gracious enough to let boys be boys even though I wish she could have been there for some of the stupidity. I was a karaoke superstar on my birthday night, spent at King Yum (a fun tioki joint not at all unlike The Alibi in Portland) - the old ladies love it when you bust out the Neil Diamond. Saturday we just went pub crawling and record shopping in the lower part of Manhattan but it was a good time drinking good beer and eating good food with good friends. Sunday we hit up the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors show where we got the stinkeye from Tom Savini for heckling Dario Argento, met some of the members of Gwar, and where I got freaked out seeing David Hess hug my fiance. David's a nice enough guy in person, but still, he's Krug, and Krug is a creep. Sometimes it's hard to seperate the art from the artist, you know? Alison actually knows David so it's not like he was just being weird, he was hugging a friend so it's all good... but still... he's Krug.... eek!

We had to leave early to get various people back to the airport but a friend was kind enough to stand in line and get Argento's signature on my Anchor Bay boxed set which is pretty neat. We also picked up a sweet one sheet for Barbed Wire Dolls. Speaking of one-sheets, I don't have any spare wall space but I'm going to find some for the Rock N Roll Nightmare art that Alison found for me. I've never actually seen a Rock N Roll Nightmare poster before, except for some jpegs online, so it's awesome to finally own it, especially considering how important that slice of classic Canadian cinema is to me.

So yeah, life is good. I got a solid raise at work to the point where, while I'm not rich, I'm at least able to survive off of what I make now and more importantly, I really enjoy what I'm doing and like the people I work for. It's a nice change after my last gig, which wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be when I took the position. Live and learn I guess.

Hank III is swinging through NYC in two weeks or so and we've got tickets for that and this weekend is the Austism Walk down at the seaport in Manhattan. Lots going on and not nearly enough time to rest, but I'll sleep when I'm dead. Right now I'm happy just being happy and loving life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

One of the best things about living in this city...

...is heading down into the subway and seeing this:

...which, in case you can't tell from the crappy low-res cell phone picture, is a picture of a midget Michael Jackson impersonator moonwalking through the Times Square subway station. It warms me right down to the cockles of my heart to know that midget Michael Jackson impersonators will moonwalk through the one of the busiest subway stations in the city without even a need for musical accompaniment.
Truly awesome.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two more super cool one-sheets...

I snagged these cheap on eBay last week, because, you know, I've got tons of wall space to display them on.


I love this movie and I especially love this poster because it's a complete misrepresentation of the movie. It's also funny how Kris Kristofferson is top billed, even though he's only in the movie for 5 mintues and he plays a rapist. This poster is so over the top it's kinda brilliant.


Quite possibly the finest film Enzo Castellari ever made, this is my favorite euro-crime movie out of the countless titles I've seen. The fact that Blue Underground quoted me on the cover of the North American DVD release is a nice bonus too.

Both of these beauties are Turkish. I've no idea what AZRAIL translates to in English, but you can see 'Il Grande Racket' at the bottom, which isn't hard to translate at all.

Movie posters are cool. Especially crazy Turkish ones.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So as of Saturday afternoon, a week prior to our official 2 year anniversary, Alison and I are officially engaged. We went out to Montauk for the day and I popped the question on a pretty rocky beach that is, technically, the eastern most point in the state. More importantly, it's pretty and it has a neat light house and this early in the year it isn't completely swamped with tourists.

We haven't set a date yet, and we've got some creative budgeting to do to make it happen as we'll be fronting the bill for this ourselves, but that's okay. It'll come together at some point. All we know at this point is that we want to do it in Coney Island because it's kind of 'our spot' even if it is becoming yuppified in the worst sort of way.

After beach combing for a bit we did some shopping. I picked up the newly remastered 2 disc release of the Beastie Boys' Check Your Head, DVDs of One Armed Swordsman, My Young Auntie, and Poor Pretty Eddie and the Blu-ray release of Hellraiser. Nothing says romance like Jewish hip-hop, kung fu and Clive Barker but this is my way and Alison not only accepts my quirks but compliments them somehow. It's the fact that we can find this kick ass mix of sweet and romantic and culturally rad and interesting that makes our relationship strong, even during tougher times, of which we've thankfully only had a few (and none of which were direct results of either one of us - so there!).

We spent the night in Riverhead, a nice enought town that I now know has an aquarium - next time we're going to visit. We had a nice dinner and a couple of drinks at a decent Irish pub/grub joint on Main St. called Digger O'Dells that's definitely worth checking out if you make it to the area before retiring to the room to watch TV and zonk out. I attempted to have a nice relaxing swim but this plan was thwarted by the most obnoxious group of pre-teen screaming girls you've ever met in your life. Apparantly, according to the 'parent' who was chapheroning, it's ok to jump in the pool six inches from a complete stranger if you're on vacation, and if that stranger gets irrate, he's being a jerk. I'm comfortable in that role and I hope those brats drown, or at least wake up with water in their ears.

Getting back on topic, so yeah, we're engaged and it feels good. It feels right, too, both in terms of timing and logistics as well as solidity and true love. I really can't think of anything to complain about right now. Not anything that matters at least. Life is really good, and that's a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

And the winner of the 'Best Anniversary Gift Ever' goes to....

...Alison. Cause not only did she get me this, but she gave it to me early.

We also got this little beauty a whole ago too, it's pretty rad.

I need more wall space and more money for frames.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hooray for the Zoo!

I was going to write about the roller derby, but it's been too long now and the time has past. Let it suffice to say that the roller derby is fun. If the idea of girls zipping around in a circle smacking one another around sounds appealing to you, check it out. It's also ridiculously competitve and a lot of fun to watch not only for the skaters (some of whom don't look so good in spandex, but who am I to talk) but for the sport of it all.

At any rate, the zoo! I've wanted to go to the Bronx Zoo since I moved here over a year ago and the other day I got the chance. It's a pretty big place and apparantly I only saw about a third of it, but what I saw, I dug. It's as much a big giant park as it is anything else, it's really nicely kept and has some pretty interesting examples of quirky old architecture in and among the monkeys and lions and tigers. I took my camera and managed to snap a few decent shots, my favorite being the picture of the toad. I'm not sure why I like it so much, but I do. He just looks refreshingly grumpy.

In other news, I started a new job last week. The commute sucks and the pay could be better but the people are very nice and treat me with respect, which goes a long way in the long run. It's actually a fairly fun place to work. I'm doing office and logistics work for them, meaning that I deal with Chinese factories and customs companies and fun things like that. My direct supervisor, the owner's son, is about the nicest guy you could meet with a good sense of humor who is into Van Damme movies, so we get along just fine. I think I'll stick with it for a while. Even if I'm not getting rich, I'm getting by and we all know there's a lot more to happiness than money.

At any rate, here's some random pictures of some of the Bronx Zoo's coolest inhabitants, and a goofy duck who for some random reason was hanging out a bit removed from the lake on top of a rotting log just doing his own thing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Scott H. Biram stuff!

His new alubm, Something's Wrong/Lost Forever comes out May 19th, on Bloodshot again.

You can check out an acoustic version of one of the lead tracks here. A fair bit more relaxed than some of his rowdier numbers but I like it.

Off to a job interview in Brooklyn. I need to write about the roller derby we went to last weekend once I get a bit more free time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rock Report! The Swingin' Utters & The Street Dogs!

So despite the fact that I'm trying to be frugal, I decided that there was no way we were going to miss the Swingin' Utters playing with The Street Dogs out in Long Island last night. The cover was $17.00 a head and for that you got give bands. We opted to skip out on the first two, well not so much opted as got stuck in traffic and missed them, but we caught the last half of a four piece from Chicago called Shot Baker. I'd never heard them before but for some reason the named sounded really familiar. I'm still not sure why that is. Regardless, they were decent enough, if a bit on the generic side.

After about 10 minutes of their set, they were done and the Swingin' Utters came on next. I saw them open for Naked Raygun back in Portland a few years ago and they were fantastic. They were a little more subdued this time (by the end of the PDX show the singer was soaked in the beer that the audience had thrown at the stage and he was bleeding all over the place from a shot he took in the nose) but they sounded great. They played a lot of earlier tracks, though I was hoping they'd do some of the Filthy Thieving Bastards material, the more Pogues-ish sort of celt/punk/trad side project that they're all involved in. It wasn't that kind of night, however, and they delivered a pretty blistering 45 minute set, with frontman Johnny 'Peebucks' Bonnell pacing back and forth across the stage like a man possessed.

A few pictures...

One thing they said to the crowed before they went off stage was how appreciative they were of 'a new band starting to get big like the Street Dogs taking an old band like us on the road with them.' It's true. The Swingin' Utters have been around a long time, over twenty-years at this point, and they've never really gotten the recognition that they deserved for influencing the whole street punk scene that labels like Hellcat Records are really pushing right now. It's also cool to note that despite the 'mainstream' success of Me First And The Gimmes Gimmes that Spike Slawson is still playing with them.
The Street Dogs were up next, the evenings headliner. I expected them to be good but figured The Swingin' Utters would be the best band of the night. I was wrong. The Utters were great but The Street Dogs were amazing and it was cool to hear Mike McColgan mention that without The Swingin' Utters there really would be no Street Dogs to speak of. CJ Ramone was in the audience, I probably wouldn't have recognized him if he hadn't been called out from the stage, as he was just standing near the men's room in the dark wearing a baseball cap and a green jacket, not the black leather jacket/ripped jeans uniform of the band he took his last name from. It was cool to see some of the old guard out to support the younger guys.
At any rate, The Street Dogs were, as I said, fantastic. McColgan has such a sincerity and honesty to his singing and the lyrics are pretty inspiring even when the songs are a little on the sad side (Final Transmission, about a young man killed in the Iraq War, makes me tear up a bit and further question the futility of it all... but I digress). He had the crowd all riled up by the end, with pretty much every person in the audience singing along at one point or another. I'm too old to bother with mosh pits and other nonsense but I did go up front a few times (it was funny to see the 'pit' of teenagers get out of the way right quickly - they were all really, really tiny for some reason. Must be something in the water out in Long Island) to pump my fist and sing along. He's a pretty fearless frontman, standing on the barricade and letting the audience hold on to him for balance with the mic extended all the way out as far as his arms could reach into the crowd. You can tell these guys love their audience and they absolutely gave 110%. There was so much positive energy on the stage that it was hard not to get swept up in it just a bit.

I was hoping we might get Bar Room Hero or Skinhead on the MBTA for the encore but I can't blame him for wanting to distance himself from the Dropkick Murphy's a bit. Not only are the Street Dogs a very different band than the DM's are, but they're also not as good at this point. Regardless, they played for just over an hour and covered Black Flag's Rise Above for the encore - amazingly enough, I think they played it faster than Black Flag ever did.
All in all it was a great show. It's reassuring to know that there are still bands out there who appreciate their fans and don't try to rip them off. The cover charge was reasonble, T-Shirts were $12 - $15 which is a very fair price, and the CDs were $10 which is cheaper than the record stores. I had all the Swingin' Utters and Street Dogs albums already but I picked up a shirt from each band to show support. The tour is still going for a few more weeks now, and you really won't find a better deal on the road right now. Just a great night of solid working class punk rock. No condescension, no BS, just raw, well played and refreshingly sincere music.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy This Week.

So while the news is all doom and gloom and 'we're all poor blah blah blah blah blah,' I figured I would accentuate the positive and (hopefully) eliminate the negative.

Here are things that have made me happy in the last week:

-Today I had a really good job interview. Even if it doesn't land me a position, it's still a really good job interview, the kind where (gasp!) you actually enjoy talking to the people you could be potentially working for. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

-The love of a good woman. Alison has been a complete rock for me during this strange transitional phase I'm going through. Her love and support means the world to me and the fact that she not only puts up with my odd infatuations and eccentricities but somehow manages to encourage them says to me that I've found the right gal. Also, she's really pretty. And a good cook.

-Call of Duty 3: When you don't have a job, the most productive thing you can probably do with your time is travel back to the 1940s and shoot Nazi's in hopes of helping out the French. At one point, you fight with some mighty Canadian soldiers, and that makes me happy.... even if the game isn't nearly as VIOLENT as I'd hoped it would be. Could be that I'm just insane, however...

-The French Connection is on Blu-ray. We watched it the other night and while Friedkin has made some changes to the coloring in the film, it's otherwise a great package. I forgot how much I loved this movie. Hackman and Scheider are great in it and it remains as tense and exciting as it ever was. Some great footage of NYC in the early 70s caps it all off nicely.

If only I could get Bridgeport IPA served on tap in this neck of the woods....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Job Interview A-Go-Go

So last week I had an interview, then a different phone interview and then a second different phone interview. Monday I have to go to Brooklyn for an in person interview, then Tuesday to Manhattan for a seperate in person interview (for a job I actually really, really want and am really, really qualified for - keep your fingers crossed).

We'll see how it goes. This week I just more or less hung out, wrote, and played video games. Call of Duty 3 is pretty good.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Anyone wanting to see a couple of pictures from my soon to be starmaking appearance in Wicked Pixel Cinema's RATLINE can click here for a set report I wrote this morning. I've got other pictures I can post later, but for now that's it, the WP guys are being fairly tight lipped about things until the movie is done and distribution is locked and I can't say I blame them.

In other news, Valentine's Day was good fun. We went with some friends to see the Friday The 13th remake, which was one of the ugliest movies (in terms of cinematography) I've seen in some time. I didn't care for it very much, and generally all I need to be happy with a movie is boobs and blood and this one had them in spades. Maybe I'm getting picky in my old age. After the movie we went for BBQ. So seeing as we didn't get any alone time on V-day itself, I'm taking Alison out for dinner tonight. Outback here we come!

Wanna know what she got me? Check it out...

Ten discs of musical history all lovingly packaged in a great hardbound case with a big fat full color book detailing Hank's life and work. Great, great stuff. There's a reason this collection won two Grammy awards. Generally the Grammy's are a bit of a joke but this time they were spot on in their choice for best retrospective collection. It's a fantastic set and an amazing Valentines Day gift. I'm stoked!

What else is new... oh, as of today I am gainfully unemployed and genuinely pretty happy about that. The last position just wasn't working out though I was able to leave on very good terms thankfully. The economy sucks right now but there are other jobs out there and I'm confident that I'll find one that suits me better than the last one soon enough. My spirits are high, my resume is polished and I'm even trying to remain clean shaven for interviews (ok, maybe that last part is a lie). In the interim, as I look, I can get caught up on some reading, more writing, and a few other side projects I haven't had time for yet. Oh, and I can finally practice on that bass I got for Christmas.

Life is good. Really, really good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lux Interior Has Left Us.

Known to those who 'didn't get it' as Erick Lee Purkhiser and born 10/21/46, the man we all know (or at least those of us who 'do get it' know) as Lux Interior passed away this morning from a pre-existing heart condition.

It's probably a miracle he lasted as long as he did but that doesn't numb the sting. Those who know me well know well my dedication to The Cramps. I've almost gotten into fist fights defending their merits and would gladly take a punch or two even now that I'm into my 30s should someone trash talk the titans of trash (there's some irony there, you figure it out). They were one of those few bands that spoke to me, and if that's a black spot on my record, so be it, I really don't care.

Anyone who had the privelage, and I use that term literally, knows that Lux was THE best front man to have ever walked the face of the earth. Whether he wore a leather cat suit, a mini skirt, a funeral suit or nothing at all (his natural hair color was not black) the man had presence and a voice that could rock your ass into the ground and leave it there for dead. The one two punch of his sleazy, swampy vocals and the fuzzed out guitar sludge of his wife, one Poison Ivy, taught this boy at the age of 20 what real rock and roll was all about one cold and substance abused night in Toronto, first year of college. Later that night Jim Zubkavich would get his ass kicked by security, Mark Tolch would let Lux wipe his groin sweat off with his mesh shirt (long story) and I'd sing a duet with Lux to their cover of Hasil Adkins (RIP) SHE SAID. A moment I will NEVER forget. What did she say, Lux? No one ever did answer my question.

I saw them three more times after that. Once more in Toronto and then twice in Portland (once on my birthday where I got into a fight with a dirty hippy... and won). And now I have to content myself with the fact that I got to see them four times and won't get a fifth. This hits me hard. Some people are supposed to be immortal, untouchable if you will. Lux was one of them. And now he's gone, victim to a heart condition, not even something as 'rock n roll' as choking on your own vomit or OD'ing. Not that that would have made him more impressive - the man did what he did better than anyone - but c'mon.... he was tough. A heart condition?

I prefer to think he got killed by a trio of tough talking race car driving big busted women, or maybe a chef bent on paying cannibalistic tribute to his Egytian gods, or better yet, he simply wandered into a swamp somewhere and sunk to the bottom. Any of those would be more appropriate than a f*cking heart condition.

At any rate, I have to go to work in the morning. This has hit me harder than it should have. Alison is asleep while I'm sitting here, drinking (what else?) red wine straight out of the bottle and watching the Cramps play a show in NYC from 1981. I'll sleep when I'm tired. Right now I'm paying tribute to the man whose music introduced me to the films of Russ Meyer, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Marilyn Chambers (I still wanna know what's behind the green door, Lux!) and how made me realize just what a treasure bikini girls with machine guns really are.

R.I.P., Lux. You really were the hottest thing from the north to come out of the south and there are definitely some of us who will always remember you.

I haven't been hit this hard by a 'celebrity' passing since Johnny died.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hot Sauce, Blossom, and 3-D Sex Comedies.

Wanna know what I was up to this weekend? Sure you do. I put together a blog post containing Ian Miller's fantastic interview with the stars of 90s sitcom Blossom. I know you wanna hear it. So go here and do just that. It's way more fun than it ever should have been. Kudos to you, Evil Ian.

I also went to the Fed Ex depot (which is situated besides a crazy creepy massive old Jewish cemetery in the southern part of Queens) and picked up some packages. I got Being There with Peter Sellers on Blu-ray and the Shout! Factory release of the awesome The Stewardesses In 3-D. Hard to believe this classic drive-in sex comedy is celebrating its 40th anniversary but it is. It's older than I am. That said, it's a fun movei that proves to be even more enjoyable in 3-D for reasons of a primarily anatomical nature. Zoom!

I cooked dinner for Alison and I tonight. Nothing fancy, just some corn, some fries, and some grilled ham steaks. A friend of ours, Mr. Chuck Hell, makes his own hot sauce and when he was in NYC last year visiting he gave us some. I cautiously put some on my ham tonight, figuring it would burn like the Dickens but was relieved to find out that it was time to slather it on there. Yeah, it makes you sweat, but the sauce complimented the smokey grilled ham perfectly - so much so in fact that I was tempted to go get more ham to cook up. Yum. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

Aside from that, it was a nice mellow weekend of movie watching and Strongbow. I took in Super Soul Brother, Death Promise and rewatched both Singapore Sling and Juon because Alison had never seen them. They both hold up well for different reasons. King Kong on Blu-ray is a nice treat as well. Stunning transfer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Take this job and shove it!

That's what I said last week. Well, not in so many words, but I resigned from my current position. It wasn't working out and while they wanted me to stay on and tried to talk me out of it, I'd made up my mind. The pros were not outweighing the cons by any stretch at all and I simply couldn't travel like they wanted me to.

So soon, I'll possibly be unemployed during the nastiest recession to hit the country in half a century or more. A scary prospect. That said, I've had two phone interviews with a company that said they want to bring me in for a third interview. That could shape into something and is promising, at least. I can't put all my eggs in that one basket though, so until something is firm, I keep applying.

We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wanted Man In Oregon...

So despite the fact that I have proof that I paid the state of Oregon the $71 I owed them for the 2007 tax year in Feb. of 2008, long before it was due, they've served me with a warrant. Over $71. And they've sent me paperwork saying they're going to garnish my US Bank checking account - which has been closed for over a year.

You know, I miss my friends back there dearly, and I miss the delicious beer and the record stores and all that rad stuff, I can't help feeling that the state, on a governmental level at least, has really got its head up its own ass.

At least I can tell people that I'm on the run from the law now. If nothing else, it makes for a good story.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Lamenting The Demise Of The Local Record Store

So a few recent trips back to Canada really hammered home for me the fact that, at least in the Niagara region, virtually all of the local record stores that I shopped at as a kid are gone. Not moved, but gone. Not just the independant stores like the late, great Poptones on Queen St. in Niagara Falls or the awesome, if snobby, Station To Station which was just off of St. Paul St. in St. Catharines but even most of the 'chain' stores like Sunrise and Sam The Record Man are gone. Sam's hurt a lot, as when Alison and I went to Toronto, the big building with the neon spinning records was still there but it was empty, gutted, and the neon had long since stopped brightening up the Young St. strip.

NYC's still got some indy stores in the East Village and the two Virgin Megastores, but rumors abound that the Virgin locations will be closing up shop this year and who knows how long the indy joints will last, what with the Village becoming a playground for the rich much like the rest of Manhattan.

While hanging out with my friend Mark in Canada, I'd hoped to find the new Hanson Brothers. In fact, I took Alison all over Toronto looking for it prior. Neither trip did the trick, I wound up having to get it online. And that's fine, I got it for half of what I would have paid for it at a brick and mortar store, but it really does take a lot of the fun out of it.

Music junkies know that half the enjoyment comes from the thrill of the hunt or from finding who-knows-what in a used bin in some dingy, stinky dirty store. Online is too easy. I held off on buying that record online until I was sure I wasn't going to find it locally. I had fun looking for it and picked up some other odd titles while zipping around Southwestern Ontario, Toronto, Hamilton, and NYC in search of the disc. But it's sad that I never actually found it, and instead, found that so many record stores were just gone. Living in Portland, I was sheltered from that. That city was, at least when I moved away last year, a veritble MECCA for record shopping - but that city is the exception and not the rule.