Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dreaming of Elephants

"They" say that it is a good idea to keep a notebook or pad of paper by your bed to write down your dreams when you wake up. I'm not opposed to the idea, but have never actually gone so far as to put it to practice. Over the course of my 33 years on the planet I have had some pretty bizarre dreams (as we all have), but for the most part I forget about them and move on. I did have one dream back in 2005 that was particularly bizarre and has been sitting in my Gmail drafts folder for over three years. I figured I would go ahead and post it here so that I don't have to keep it saved in my email drafts any longer:

I had a dream Sunday night (or Monday morning really) that I was in this huge desert where 192 elephants (yes, there was an exact number for some reason) that had been killed were all lined up. They (they being all these men in uniforms) were going to burn all of them to ash to dispose of the bodies. I was standing there looking at all of the bodies and was so sad and couldn't understand why they were all dead and thought that it was terrible that they were just going to burn all of them up. Then one of the elephants started to stand up and a bunch of guys ran over with rifles and started shooting it in the back of the head until it dropped again. Then another one started standing and they were shooting it and shooting it but it wouldn't die and it grabbed a guy with its trunk and was flinging him around in the air and another guy started shooting it with a machine gun but he was panicking and started spraying bullets everywhere and the bullets all started flying at me and I dove to the ground just in time but could feel the wind as the bullets just barely missed me. Then this African guy rode by on some crazy bicycle type thing that had blades for wheels and chopped up the guy that the elephant had thrown to the ground or so I thought, but then all of the sudden this little circular cage rolled by and the guy was in it in one piece. Then I woke up.

Freud may or may not have had a field day with this one....who knows. I have loved elephants since I was a little kid when my parents used to read me Babar books and I keep four little elephant "statues" or wood carvings in my apartment as personal good luck charms, so perhaps that is part of them being so prominent in the dream. Again, who knows. Maybe it was just a really weird dream with no real meaning to it. Sometimes things are just that simple.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chinese Democracy

I almost can't believe it, but I just heard three Guns N Roses songs from the new album Chinese Democracy....and they were actually good!

Maybe not 17 years in the making good (I don't count The Spaghetti Incident as their last studio album, so I'm counting from '91 when the excellent Use Your Illusion albums were released), but it appears Axl may not have totally stunk up the joint like a lot of us were speculating he would. Even if he does look like a really pale version of Ali G now.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The site antiquiet somehow procured nine songs from the new album and posted them here.
We all knew this album would get leaked eventually, so my hats off to these guys (and/or gals) for being the ones to release it to the public. Good work!

I was able to hear "Chinese Democracy", "IRS" and "The Blues" before they had to take the player down...I'd imagine they needed to make some adjustments before their server crashed. Hopefully they will be able to get it back up and I can hear the other six songs, but I'm sure enough legal action will be threatened that they will be forced to take it down completely. That was good stuff for those of us who got to hear it though. Axl's voice sounded great (the studio has always been kind to his vocals) and the band is solid. When I heard them play new songs live on the last tour, I wasn't wild about them, but these studio versions were definitely enjoyable. There has been a lot of talk about a more industrial sound to the new music, but I only heard some fancy keyboard sound effects and samples in "IRS"...otherwise it was straight ahead rock. I wish I could give you a more thorough and informed review, but I only got to hear the songs once and barely absorbed them...I just know that they didn't suck.

Wonder if this means an actual release date is looming in 2008? I hope so because I love Dr. Pepper and they'll owe me a free soda if this album hits shelves this year!
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Memory Lane

While I am relatively new to this whole blog thing, I did used to write the occasional one on Myspace. Remember Myspace? It was a place for friends, but then it became a place for creepy child molesters and spam gurus, so we all left and went to Facebook. Or so the kids tell me that is what happened. I just followed the herd on that one to be honest. Baaaahhhh. Anyway, I thought I would repost some of my blogs from Myspace here from time to time for my entertainment because I'm pretty sure I am the only one reading my inane babble. This one was written on April 18, 2005 and is about meeting strangers at a bar:

So, Friday night I am standing at the bar talking to my friend and this older blonde woman walks up and stands next to me. I just keep talking with my friend and minding my own business. She taps me on the shoulder and I turn and she pulls out a stool and tells me to sit down. I say no thanks, I’m fine standing. She starts insisting and this ridiculous back and forth goes on for what feels like an eternity before I finally say why don’t you just sit down, which she mercifully does. Now this woman was probably late 40s I’m guessing and was one of those 9 to 5 types (not that there is anything wrong with that) who had gone out with co-workers after work and gotten absolutely plastered and was cutting it up on the dance floor to a bad cover band doing bad Van Morrison covers. You’ve seen the type. Anyways, now that she is sitting I turn back around, but apparently she is determined to engage me in conversation, so I get the shoulder tap again. Now she slurs out something in what resembled the English language I am familiar with, but it was still pretty much foreign to my ears. I said excuse me and leaned in closer to try and hear better and she mumbles something and then licks and kisses my neck. I say oh really that’s cool. I grab my friend and introduce him to her in hopes that he can break this up, but he is having too much fun watching me squirm and goes outside for a cigarette. Now I’m left with this woman who keeps standing up and licking me and keeps trying to grab my hand and pull it towards her chest. I’m gripping the bar like I’m hanging on for dear life from a 20 story high ledge. She then informs me that, apparently, she used to be a burlesque dancer 30 years ago. Yeah I’m buying that. I’m plotting my escape when her friend (also absolutely smashed) comes up and demands that they leave. I felt like hugging her and telling her I loved her for getting her friend away from me. The friend walks out and my new dancer friend lingers for another minute, I would guess hoping that I might ask to leave with her. I don’t budge and she leaves. Phew. Now about 10 minutes goes by and I’m thinking man, how many cigarettes is my buddy smoking? He has been gone a while. He comes back in laughing his ass off. I say what the hell were you doing and he says that when my blonde friend came outside she went up to her friend that wanted to leave and they started throwing down! Apparently they were scrapping for a good 2 or 3 minutes before it finally got broken up. Then while they were making up, all of the sudden they started having at it again for another couple minutes before again being separated. You just have to love Manhattan night life.

A Beginner's Guide To Thrash Metal

I love metal of all genres, but thrash metal holds a special place in my heart. I used to own so many Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer, Testament and Anthrax t-shirts as a teenager that I think I could have clothed every homeless person in the state of Florida. I love going on Amazon and sites of that nature and reading the "starter kit" or "must have" lists for various music genres. I've never seen a beginner's guide to thrash metal that I 100% agree with, so I figured I'd go ahead and post my own. Each band I have listed has multiple albums that are essential to the thrash movement, so I've listed albums that I think are the best starting points for each. Here are my ten picks for a proper introduction to the wonderful world of thrash metal (in no particular order):

1. Metallica - Master Of Puppets
I think anyone who has ever said the word "metal" in reference to music could figure out that a Metallica record would be on this list.

2. Slayer - Reign In Blood
I personally like South Of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss more, but this record really was one of the craziest things people had heard at the time of its release.

3. Megadeth - Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?
I can never decide if I like this record or Rust In Peace more, but at the time of this writing I am listing Peace Sells because I heard "Devil's Island" off of it on my iPod earlier today and it got me fired up.

4. Exodus - Fabulous Disaster
Most metal fiends would probably say Bonded By Blood and not Fabulous Disaster, but I always liked Steve Souza's vocals better than Paul Baloff's (not to take anything away from Baloff's vocals at all) and they have a killer cover of "Overdose" by AC/DC on this album.

5. Pantera - Vulgar Display Of Power
I still get the same chills running up and down my spine when I listen to this record today that I got 16 years ago when this album first came out. There was nothing like it at the time and nobody has really topped it...including Pantera themselves. A timeless classic and the album that launched a million metal and hardcore bands. R.I.P. Dimebag

6. Sepultura - Chaos A.D.
I have similar feelings about this record that I do to Vulgar Display Of Power. It is so raw and angry, yet the music and lyrics made you feel inspired and empowered...which actually seems very appropriate for four guys who rose up from the slums of Rio. Great, great band.

7. Death Angel - Act III
I think most people wouldn't include Death Angel on their lists, but I love this band and this album especially. They were incredibly young when they put out their first album (I think the drummer was 13 or something like that), but they matured by this their third album and put out a thrash classic. I remember taking the song "Room With A View" in to my guitar teacher so he could teach me how to play it. I can't play guitar, but I can still actually play the intro to that song.

8. Anthrax - Among The Living
Anthrax rules.

9. Overkill - The Years Of Decay
Blitz's vocals are an acquired taste, but I always liked them. This album isn't even their best in my opinion (that honor goes to Horrorscope), but it is a fantastic representation of what the East Coast was contributing to the thrash metal movement of the '80s.

10. Testament - Practice What You Preach
I don't think Testament has actually ever put out a bad record per se, but rather some are just better than others. I own and enjoy all of them, but this was the first one I ever bought by them and it is a great example of what talented players they are.

Honorable Mentions:
Machine Head - Burn My Eyes
Corrosion of Conformity - Blind
Nuclear Assault - Handle With Care
Metal Church - Blessing In Disguise
Flotsam and Jetsam - No Place For Disgrace

Top Chef Season 4

I'm not much for reality television, but I decided to watch the third season of Top Chef last year and was instantly hooked. The fourth season is going to wrap up next week and I think it will be a good battle between Richard and Stephanie to be named Top Chef. I didn't forget that Lisa is competing as well...I just don't possibly see how she could be a threat at all. That being said, I swear on a stack of holy bibles that I will not watch the fifth season if Lisa wins. I understand that the editors of reality shows use creative editing to portray certain people as the "bad guy", but I get the distinct impression that Lisa is actually a genuinely annoying person. You can see it in the other contestants' faces when they have to deal with her. I actually yell at the television when they have her mini-interviews where she is complaining about something...seriously, I yell at the TV like I am watching my beloved Washington Redskins throw an interception to the Giants or Cowboys. But more importantly for a show like this, none of her food has looked exceptionally good.

My prediction for next week's winner is Stephanie.