Thursday, December 12, 2013

FEAR AND LOATHING


I've decided my new goal is to acquire an IBM Selectric typewriter like the great Hunter S. Thompson used.

I'll write the best letters on it. I promise.

Christmas is right around the corner, you know.

Monday, December 9, 2013

NINE INCH NAILS - TENSION 2013

Hi.

Remember how I've spent the last month or so talking about how excited I was to see Nine Inch Nails, then how much fun I had at the show and how amazing it was?

Now I can prove it to you. Last week Vevo released a high-definition video of the band's show in Los Angeles last month. I've watched it a couple of times already and I love everything about it. There's a full-length DVD in the works for next year, which I'm sure I'll buy because why the hell wouldn't I?

There's also a two-part behind the scenes video (part 1 and part 2) that shows Trent Reznor, Rob Sheridan and the rest of the crew putting everything together for the festival shows they did this past summer. Right when that was finished, and before they left for tour, Reznor decided that everything they'd put together was a "cop out" and they should do something different for the U.S. tour. A month before they left, he brought in a bass player and two back-up singers and had Sheridan re-imagine the entire design.

Reznor seems kind of hard to work for, but amazing to work for at the same time. He's constantly pushing everyone to make things better, and I bet it makes things incredibly difficult at times but immensely rewarding after it's all finished.

Like I wrote in my other piece, The Joint (where I saw the show), was basically a theater so there were limits to what they could do with the stage show. They couldn't raise and lower the huge LED screens that you see in the video, which is kind of disappointing, but again, I think I'd rather have seen them in a small theater than an arena. I don't know though. I'm still working through it in my head.

Either way, the video is embedded below. You should watch it. Better yet, you should pull it up on your giant HD flat screen and watch in your living room.

Now that this is finished, I'll probably stop talking about Nine Inch Nails for a while and we'll get back to random other things that make you love me.

 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

ROYALS

Many, many times on this site I've admitted to being way behind the curve when it comes to music.

I only heard about Lorde a couple of weeks ago, and I've been kind of obsessed with her ever since. It's one of the things I've been listening to a lot at work, and one of the times that I'm filled with terror whenever I remember that since Spotify is a social media-based site, other people can see what I'm listening to. I'm sure all the HC street cred I've accrued over the years flew out the window once people noticed the only music I've been listening to lately is Lorde, Queen, M.I.A., Hanni El Khatib, Nine Inch Nails and New Orleans big-band Jazz.

I'm also 100% okay with that.

Lorde's song "Royals" is by far her most popular. It's kind of a send-up of all the famous people that just want to be famous for the sake of being famous. Recently, she was giving an interview to VH1 in which she spoke about the inspiration for the song.
“I had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs," she said. “He was a baseball player and his shirt said, ‘Royals.’ Obviously I’ve had this fascination with aristocracy my whole life. Like, the kings and queens of 500 years ago... they’re like rock stars. If there was a TMZ 500 years ago, it would be about Henry VIII and Marie Antoinette and all those people.”
Who was she talking about? Why none other than Kansas City Royals legend (and probably the best Royals player of all time - behind Bo Jackson, of course) George Brett.

Good photo for inspiration, if I do say so myself.


Monday, December 2, 2013

VEGAS BABY!


"Timely" isn't something I'm great at - especially when it comes to this blog. I'm generally a little bit behind the times and when it comes to reviews, I'm way behind the times.
The plan was to do a review of the Nine Inch Nails show as soon as I got back last week. Then one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was waist deep in JFK conspiracy theories for a good 5 days straight. Writing a recap of the trip and the show wasn't nearly as important. Who wants to focus on writing about one of the best live shows you've ever seen when you can listen to 6 hours of podcasts about magic bullets, missing brains and LBJ ordering pants that don't feel like he's riding a wire fence?

Quick side note here: LBJ was sitting at the White House and decided that he needed to order pants, so he called Joe Haggar. When was the last time you think any acting President ordered his own custom pants, shirt and jacket?

Okay, back to the task at hand.

Casey and I left Salt Lake about 10 AM on Friday morning. We made pretty good time on the way down and, as usual, we stopped in Scipio at the petting zoo. Even ran into a friend of mine also on his way to the show. Got back on the road, pulled in to town and checked into The Plaza in old Las Vegas at about 3:30. We grabbed some lunch and wandered around the strip for a bit before meeting some friends for a late dinner.

Old Las Vegas is pretty great. It's far less crowded than the strip, but still full of weird stuff. When we got back to the hotel, we decided to walk across to Fremont Street, which is just weird. The Strip is full of tourists and mostly younger people looking for the "hottest" clubs. Fremont Street is full of older people that still want to get wild, but don't want to hang out with any of those other people.

About halfway down the street, we saw a huge crowd of people and heard a lot of shouting. We kept going and met the crowd just as there was a fight about to break out. There was an honest-to-goodness motorcycle club feuding with some street performers and drugged out hanger-ons. One the MC guys was in a shouting match with a guy in a wheelchair and the two of them kept moving in circles. Eventually, the MC guy got sick of it, got along side of the wheelchair and pushed it over. As he walked away, feeling triumphant, a guy in an Elmo costume took his head off, held it in his left hand, walked up behind the guy and threw a haymaker at the side of his head. That's when all hell broke loose. Pretty soon the place was swarming with cops and a guy in cut off sweat shorts and no shirt was screaming at everyone wearing an MC cut trying to fight all 15 of them. We stuck around hoping things would get really out of control, but the cops were able to keep it in check. We made our way back to the hotel listening to the sweet sounds of "Enter Sandman" coming from the Fremont Street house band.

The next day, we grabbed breakfast as Society Cafe in the Encore and did a little more wandering around. Casey wanted a sweatshirt, but after looking in about a half-dozen stores, he changed his mind and we hit up our usual Las Vegas snack spot, Twin Peaks. The food there is pretty terrible, but we went there as a joke last time, so we decided it was now a tradition. The best part of the whole meal was the table full of guys next to us. Twin Peaks is basically a knock-off Hooters with an outdoorsy theme. There's a climbing wall at one end of the restaurant, and for a certain price, you can challenge any of the girls that work there to a race to the top.

One guy chose the hostess and while the server went to get everything set up, they started talking about how good of a climber the guy was and how it would be a piece of cake. Casey and I watched them get geared up, then watched as the hostess climbed the entire wall before he could even get two moves finished - all while wearing Ugg boots. It was amazing. He didn't say much when he got back to the table. It was actually kind of great.

We headed over to the Hard Rock Hotel to check in, get our wristbands and wait in line. Since I signed up for the Nine Inch Nails fan club to get tickets early, we were let in before the rest of the crowd in a slightly disorganized fashion. While we were waiting in line, Casey spotted some actor that's on REVENGE and kept taking pictures and video to send to his wife. Then he spotted someone from GHOST HUNTERS. He was really excited about both of them. I had no idea who either of them were.

The Joint holds about 5,000 people and is more of a theater than the rest of the venues Nine Inch Nails were playing on tour, which was why I wanted to see the show there. The more intimate the venue, the more fun I have. When we got inside the venue, pretty much everyone rushed to the front, and camped out right in front of the stage. Casey and I stopped about 20 feet from the front, where the venue started to divide into tiers about 10 feet deep with railings and a small step separating each one. We camped out on stage left, leaned up against the railing and waited for the show to start.

Explosions in the Sky were the opening band, and while they're great musicians and I really like their stuff, I don't much care for watching them live. There was a guy standing behind Casey and I filming everything and he kept getting a little too close for comfort. Seriously, Casey and I were basically standing shoulder to shoulder with a few inches in between, and he had a camera right between our faces for the whole set. Just to piss him off, Casey and I started a conversation that lasted about 15 minutes. So if you ever find a shitty video of Explosions in the Sky in which the sound is compromised by some dudes talking about seeing Def Leppard play live, that's me.

Nine Inch Nails started just about 9 PM and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. I'd done some research to find out their set list so I knew what to expect and what they were probably leaving out, so I was ready to hear "Copy of A" and "1,000,000" right off the bat, but they tricked me. They played two shows in Las Vegas and played their regular set the night before, so they switched things up the second night. Good and bad came from that, since they cut out a couple of songs that I wanted to hear, but added a few, like "Reptile" that they hadn't really been playing.

Aside from all that, the performance itself was incredible. They had an amazing light show that was tailored to each song that was just awesome. They had to scale back on some of the bigger effects they'd been using because they wouldn't fit on the stage at The Joint, but I didn't mind. I liked seeing them in a smaller place.

Trent Reznor was interviewed about the setup and the show recently and the way he explained it made total sense.

“My goal is that — I can usually see the audience because I’m lit from behind a lot — is that I want to keep you from looking at your phone,” Reznor said. “I want to make you hold your pee because you don’t want to miss something. We’ve thought about all this stuff, and want to make this experience something that was worth your time.”

(*That link goes to a Buzzfeed article. It's there because I don't want to blatantly steal, but Buzzfeed is awful, so you don't have to click it unless you want to.*)


The whole month before I drove down, I'd wondered why I hadn't seen very many YouTube clips from Nine Inch Nails shows (granted, I hadn't been trying very hard), but the light show kind of explained it. They played for about two hours and worth every last penny I spent. One of the highlights of the show was when Reznor came back onstage for the encore and asked the crowd to help out.

He'd befriended a photojournalist named Andrew Youssef over the last year that was dying of cancer. Youssef was nearing the end of his battle and planned on making two more shows before he got too weak. He was able to hit the November 8 show in L.A. but had to cancel his trip to see the band that night in Vegas. Reznor found out he couldn't make it, so he called Youssef from the stage, chatted with him for a second then dedicated "In This Twilight" to him. It was pretty damn amazing and the perfect ending to the show.

The next day, we hit up the Mob Museum, which is in a renovated courthouse right near Fremont Street. The building itself is one of the last remaining historically significant places in the city. Everything else has been bulldozed and rebuilt, but the courthouse that held some of the Kefauver Committee hearings has been turned into a three-level archive of everything related to the mob.

There were a lot of great things, but since the mob is such a sprawling enterprise, there was almost too much going on. A lot of the exhibits were little snapshots that didn't go into too much detail. There was enough in there to spawn probably 20 great movies or TV shows (and probably 100 bad ones).

It was pretty great, but the mob is almost too expansive and has so many different aspects that it's hard to include everything. It ended up being more of a "greatest hits" type place, but it was still really, really interesting - though not as cool as the neon sign graveyard we saw last time we were in town.

By the time we were out of there, it was about 3 in the afternoon and time to head back to Salt Lake. We made pretty good time back and the soundtrack of Prince, Billy Joel, George Michael, Kenny Loggins and Ludacris. It was a short trip, but it was a lot of fun. Much like Los Angeles, every time I go to Vegas I like it a little bit more.

Oh, also on the ride down, Casey started talking about what he wants to have happen when he dies, so I recorded it for an irregular podcast-type feature that I'm calling "Riding in Cars with Dudes." Here's Episode 1 - Casey's Dying Wish.

NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

Another day, another story about how Greg Ginn just gets worse and worse.

The Black Flag saga has been going for about a year now, and I've been keeping up with it pretty much since the beginning. Go here and then here if you aren't aware of what's going on, but by now you probably know.

Quick rundown - two different versions of Black Flag have been touring this year. One, simply called Flag has Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski, Stephen Egerton and Bill Stevenson. The other, called Black Flag, has Greg Ginn and some other people. For a while, Ron Reyes was the singer of this new version. He was the vocalist of Black Flack for a hot minute between Keith Morris and Henry Rollins, but that was it.

Flag has been playing shows and getting good reviews because they're trying to play solid music. Black Flag is just trying to make money and show up Flag. They're not doing a very good job. In this open letter (which, by the way, I hate open letters but this is necessary) to Greg Ginn and the Ring-Ins, it seems pretty clear that Ginn's version isn't very good.

Ron Reyes agreed. Then Ron Reyes was fired in the middle of a set and replaced by Mike Vallely.

Reyes ranted about the situation through his Facebook, but then promptly deleted it. But, since this is the Internet, lots of people were smart enough to grab it while it was up. Nothing ever goes away once it's been on the Internet. You should know that by now.

Here's a little snippet:
“So many things went wrong from the start. I was into things like having a good drummer, rehearsing and spending time on things like beginnings and endings of songs, being a little less distracted with tour life and a little more on the ball. You know things that would make our efforts worthy of the name Black Flag… Yes it is my opinion that we fell very short indeed and the diminishing ticket sales and crowds are a testament to that.”
Like I said, it was deleted pretty quickly, but you can read the whole thing over at Consequence of Sound.

We may never know who will win this epic battle, but...

Actually. We probably do. And it's not Greg Ginn.


Monday, November 25, 2013

DAVE GROHL IN "FRESH POT!"

Them Crooked Vultures is pretty great and I love Dave Grohl. Here's a little something to break up your Monday afternoon monotony.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

MONEY

The Jazz are the team just keep on giving.

They're terrible, but somehow I've figured out a way to write about them three times over the past week.

Earlier this week in New Orleans, Gordon Hayward had a terrible game. He's usually pretty good, but that night, he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. It wasn't for lack of effort though. He shot 17 times. Only one of them went in. Hayward was 1 for 17 in 39 minutes and ended up with 6 points (four came from free throws). He did have 6 rebounds and 11 assists, but still, 1 for 17 is pretty bad.

Everyone has bad games and it's bound to happen over the course of a season.

The next day, former Jazz center and 3-point guru Mehmet Okur reached out to Hayward and offered him some encouragement. It was an amazing gesture and one that I'm sure Hayward appreciated.

Okur just picked the absolute worst Tweet to respond to. The wording he used didn't help a single bit, either.

The Jazz play in Dallas tonight. Yesterday, on their day off, Corbin took the team to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

Woops.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

WAR IN THE SUN

I’m a “glass half-empty” kinda guy. That’s just the way it is. I try to judge things by the finished product and not do the typical Internet thing where I hate a project before it’s even started, but sometimes I just can’t.

PREACHER is a project that I’ve hated pretty much since its live-action inception was announced almost a decade ago.

Let’s back up a bit. PREACHER is a comic written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon. It’s about a Texas preacher possessed by a supernatural creature named Genesis. Genesis is the product of the coupling of an angel and a demon, making it the most powerful thing in existence. Once this power is manifested in Jesse Custer, God quits ruling Heaven and goes into hiding. Custer goes looking for him. Along the way, he picks up his old girlfriend Tulip and brings along an alcoholic vampire named Cassidy. Oh yeah, he has to avoid the Saint of Killers, too. He’s basically the angel of death out to get rid of Genesis and whatever form it’s become.

It sounds ridiculous on paper and it’s a little ridiculous in the comic, too. But it’s also fantastic. I re-read the entire series last winter and it still holds up really well. There are a few filler stories to pad the run because Ennis wanted the final issue to be number 66, but overall it’s brilliant, crazy, sweet, heartbreaking and just flat out awesome.

But the chances of it being anything other than a great comic were slim to none. I’m a firm believer that anything that spends over a decade trying to get made doesn’t need to be made. There’s always a reason that it hasn’t worked and most likely won’t work at all, no matter how hard you try. See: GANGSTER SQUAD, RUM PUNCH, etc.

Mark Steven Johnson was the first guy tasked with taking it from a comic to TV. You remember Mark Steven Johnson, don’t you? He wrote classics like GRUMPY OLD MEN, GRUMPIER OLD MEN and directed great, legendary films like SIMON BIRCH, DAREDEVIL and GHOST RIDER. That was the guy that was supposed to bring PREACHER to life. No one held their breath and after a few years the project died. It kept bouncing around and everyone from James Marsden to Kevin Smith was attached at some point. Eventually it landed in the lap of Sam Mendes and while I didn’t get excited, I was a little bit hopeful. Mendes made AMERICAN BEAUTY, ROAD TO PERDITION and SKYFALL, so there was a little bit of promise. But he’s pretty committed to a couple more James Bond movies, so that fell apart.

Things were pretty quiet on the PREACHER front until a few days ago when AMC announced that they were taking the series to pilot. Just like that. No other information was provided.

When I saw that, I didn’t really know how to feel. AMC aired amazing shows like BREAKING BAD and MAD MEN, so that was a plus. But AMC executives are also fucking morons. They almost cancelled BREAKING BAD after the fourth season because they didn’t want to pay anyone. They panicked at the last minute when FX stepped in and said, “If AMC doesn’t want you, come over here. We’ll let you do whatever you want.”

They also don’t own either of those shows. Sony owned BREAKING BAD and Lionsgate owns MAD MEN. AMC is just the network it airs on, so they don’t really have much say in what happens within the show. The two shows they own outright are THE WALKING DEAD and LOW WINTER SUN. I still watch it, but for every good thing it does, THE WALKING DEAD does two or three other things that I absolutely hate. It’s just not very good, but has the potential to be great. All AMC cares about is the numbers it gets. They couldn’t care less about the actual quality. And LOW WINTER SUN got such bad reviews that I deleted it from my DVR without watching a single episode.

So if it was going to be a full-on AMC enterprise, I was preparing for the worst. Then more details started to come out and I started getting a little excited.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were the guys behind it. Sony is the studio producing it, AMC is just the network it’ll air on. I was already hopeful with two guys like Rogen and Goldberg (they wrote SUPERBAD, THIS IS THE END and THE GREEN HORNET) on board, but then I read that Sam Catlin was also on board. That’s when I got more excited.

Sam Catlin was one of the main writers and executive producers on BREAKING BAD. He wrote and directed the Season 5 episode “Rabid Dog” where Walt has to try to convince Skyler that he had a pump malfunction when Jesse tried to burn down their house. He wrote a bunch of other great episodes throughout the series, too.

With those three calling the shots, Sony picking up the tab and AMC relegated to simply airing the episodes, it might actually work.

Then again, there is the little question about how you market a show that boils down to one man’s quest to tell God to go fuck himself while talking to the ghost of John Wayne and being chased by a guy in a duster and cowboy hat that can’t be killed – even when a nuclear bomb is dropped on him. Also, let’s not forget the vampire, the inbred, mentally challenged child with the last pure bloodline of Jesus Christ and a guy that makes sex toys out of raw meat.

If they can get over those hurdles, anything is possible.

FELINA

BREAKING BAD ended a while back. It's been a rough couple of months without a TV show to get invested in. I always save BOARDWALK EMPIRE for full-season binge watching, so that's out.

I dove right in to season 6 of SONS OF ANARCHY, but the quality of the writing and storytelling and characters was so different and so much worse that  it was hard to watch. But then I spent 6 weeks watching the slightly entertaining but utterly horrible execution of everything that is THE WALKING DEAD. After that, SONS OF ANARCHY has been looking pretty god damn brilliant.

But it still makes me miss BREAKING BAD. They're rolling out the complete set on DVD pretty soon, so a few of the special features are starting to make their way around online. On one of them, a documentary crew filmed everyone for a huge documentary about the making of the last season. They had cameras in the room when Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul read the final episode for the first time.

They divided the parts between them and read it together in Cranston's living room. It's just great. These two lived with those characters for so long that it must be hard to let go. I can only imagine what it's like to finally get to the end of something that you work so hard on.

If you guys don't see me for about a month this winter, it's because I'm holed up in my apartment watching these 62 episodes all over again and pretending that some day I'll be able to write something so god damn awesome.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

NOVEMBER 18, 1985

On this day 28 years ago, Calvin set his tiger trap and Bill Watterson kicked off one of the best (and by far my favorite) comic strips of all time.


If you haven't picked it up, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is something that everyone should own. Seriously. Grab it. If you have kids, get them started on it and if you don't, skip out on Netflix for a night and read that instead.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

THE BALLAD OF FIRSTNAME LASTNAME

I broke down and watched the majority of the Jazz game last night (they won!) and they, surprisingly, looked half-decent.

Richard Jefferson had something of a breakout performance and gave the team a little lift late in the 3rd quarter. It seems that everyone was kind of surprised by it - even the crew in the production department. They made a little snafu when Bolerjack and Harpring (the home announcers) asked them to get the KFC Bucket Chart up so they could show how much better he was last night than in just about every other game so far this season.



I noticed the "FIRSTNAME LASTNAME" error, snapped a picture and sent a Tweet. I figured I'd get a few laughs and that would be that.

Wrong.

The replies blew up for about an hour while I cooked some delicious Top Ramen and I got a kick out of it. Definitely the most popular Tweet I've ever sent out - even more popular than those hilarious Twilight Concert ones.

Didn't think much about it today until my brother sent me a text that said, "Did you see your Twitpic is a top story on Yahoo!?"

Sure enough, it was. Must have been a really, really slow news day. But hey, at least they gave me credit.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

THE GOD VOICE HAS ITS WORK CUT OUT

The buzz for Tulip is getting louder.

We officially sold out of the first print about two weeks ago, but people are still talking about it.

Jay Meehan, a columnist for The Park Record, wrote a piece about Mike Farfel and his debut novel yesterday. It's great. I'm a little jealous that Mike got dropped in the same sentence as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett because those guys are a couple of my literary inspirations, but I'm also proud as hell.

Here's a little preview, but if you want to read the whole thing, head over to The Park Record and check it out for yourself.

We're working hard to get a second printing together and back in the shop and this thing kind of gave me that extra push. That's really the only thing that I regret about this piece - that he's giving press to a book that I don't have any more of at the moment. Total first world problem, I know, but it's still a problem.

Oh well. Soon. I promise.

The Park Record -- When I first met Mike Farfel, I heard a voice in my head telling me to focus, to pay attention, to remain in the moment. I was sporting the glazed look I usually wear to a Dylan show but I knew immediately there were some layers to this Wasatch High School freshman that might elude me if I spaced out in my normal fashion.

Although he didn't flaunt it at all, you had the sense that there was this intellectuality lounging just out of camera range awaiting its cue. His Dylan-IQ, of course, was off the charts but, no matter what the topic, he appeared to be well ahead of the curve. He was obviously on the lam from the ordinary.

Read the rest.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"THE AMPLITUDE OF THEIR INEPTITUDE"

The Jazz are a terrible basketball team. They haven't won a game yet and have lost 7 straight times (*update - 0-8) to start the season.

Everyone knew they were in for a tough year, but it's hard to say that anyone expected them to be as bad as they are.

Well, that's not true. I fully expected them to be terrible. I told people the Jazz would be lucky if they hit 20 wins this season. The best player on the team (Gordon Hayward) would be the 2nd or 3rd best player on any other team. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors might be pretty great players someday, but no time soon and I think Alec Burks is the second coming of C.J. Miles. Those are the guys we're going to war with. Those are the Core Four that Jazz Fans thought were going to set the NBA on fire and were happy to get rid of Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and every other professional basketball player on the roster to make room for.

Trey Burke, the injured starting point guard might help when he comes back, but unless as Spencer Checketts said "Trey Burke better be a solid combination of Chris Paul and Jesus," the Jazz are out of luck.

I admit, I'm taking a little too much pleasure in how bad this team is. After they let every single one of their free agents walk, traded for Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush then signed John Lucas III in order to turn the team over to the young guys, I knew it would be terrible. Very few people believed me and I spent the summer listening to the accounting dorks on the other side of my divider at work talk about how good the Jazz were going to be this year and that they were going to surprise a lot of people.

They are surprising a lot of people - but not in the way they hoped. After a 115 - 91 loss on Saturday night (which the Raptors lead by as many as 38 points at one time), Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly wrote a pretty scathing column about how as bad as the Raptors are, the Jazz are worse.

Let's look at some quotes:
Coming in, we knew Utah was bad. They hadn’t won a game. They hadn’t scored more than 93 points since opening night. They have the worst defence* in the league.

In reality, we knew nothing. The awfulness of the Utah Jazz is a full-on sensory experience. To appreciate the amplitude of their ineptitude, it has to be suffered through in person. Like waterboarding.

After two hours of this dreck, I’m not sure what the Jazz play. It isn’t basketball. It’s a strange cross between Red Rover and inside-out dodgeball.

Halfway through the second, the usually invisible Quincy Acy was inserted. In the second quarter. Hopefully, the Jazz understand how shaming that should feel.
So we're in for a long, long season here in Utah. It's only a matter of time before Jazz fans start booing their own team. Hell, I'm surprised they haven't started yet.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Jazz fans are some of the worst people on the planet. I'm always happy when they get a nice reality check.

*I don't know if that's a typo or just a Canada thing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

RIDE WITH A TRICKSTER AND A JAVELIN MAN

I put it off as long as possible. I just couldn't commit to the kind of heartbreak I saw at the end. I knew I'd only be setting myself up for disappointment, but I did it anyway.

Afterwards, when it was all over and I was alone in my apartment, I just felt... sad. I wasn't angry at anyone, and there was no one to really blame, but I was still more than a little depressed. Of course, I knew going into it that it would happen, but I still went through with it. I'm glad I did. It was a learning experience, but it still hurt like hell.

Now I just really, really miss TERRIERS.


If you don't remember that show, you're not alone. It ran for one 13-episode season on FX back in 2010. It was about two private investigators (Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James) in San Diego who continuously bite off more than they can chew. The writing is great, the characters are fantastic and I loved literally everything about it from top to bottom. There's a larger story throughout the season, but there are also a few "case of the week" type stories that are just perfect for the kind of show that it was.

It was the perfect mix of detective-noir, comedy and drama. Logue and Raymond-James had amazing chemistry and everyone else on the show always gave it their best. Ted Griffin, who wrote the OCEAN'S 11 remake created it, and then teamed up with Shawn Ryan, creator of THE SHIELD to make it happen.

There was so much talent behind and in front of the camera that it should have been around forever. Sadly, no one watched it while it was actually on the air. Shortly after it was cancelled, John Landgraf - who is actually a really, really smart TV executive, which is incredibly rare - did an interview with the LA Times and laid out just why he made the decision to cancel it. Basically, it was the lowest-rated show FX had ever aired.

I'm chalking it up to two things: A terrible title and a horrible ad campaign.

I visited some friends in New York just before the show started airing that year and there were ads for it all over the subway and taxi's and busses and billboards so no one can say they didn't spend money on advertising. But the ads totally misrepresented what the show actually was.

The ads had no effect on me, but once it started airing, all the comic book writers that I admire started raving about it. By then, the season was half over and I didn't have a DVR or Netflix. I was kind of out of luck and not long after, it was cancelled. But it was always in my mind that I'd get to it someday and when I finally did, I just really wished it had gone longer.

Now that ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT has been brought back to life through Netflix, TERRIERS is the next show that everyone is hoping they'll revive at some point. I really hope that happens because I just want to hang out with Hank and Britt for a few more hours.

And in addition to everything I've just written about it, TERRIERS has one of the great TV theme songs and it gets stuck in my head for days on end. Seriously, listen to it then go home, fire up Netflix and binge through all 13 episodes. And call me when you do. I'll come over and watch them all again. I'll bring popcorn.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

THE F*CKING RESERVES


Remember all those times I've tried my hand at podcasting without much success?

Okay, the GCAcast went a whole 12 episodes, but that's as close to any type of longevity I've had - and even those 12 episodes took well over a year.

Well, I'm back at it.

I'm sitting in on a football/soccer podcast centered around Manchester United.  It's called The Fucking Reserves, or as far as iTunes is concerned, The Reserves Football Podcast. We had to tone down the title (which I'm pretty sure they took from this clip) so they'd accept us and let us be a part of their podcast listings.

I don't pay much attention to soccer. Even last year when I had Real Salt Lake season tickets, I didn't pay much attention beyond what nights the games were so I could plan accordingly. Why I was asked to be part of this podcast still isn't quite clear. But I'm doing it. I don't have a lot of other things going on at the moment. And I like teasing these dudes when they get all riled up and start referring to a team in another country as "we."

Actually, that's probably why they asked me. I provide a smidgen of comic relief and an outsiders look into the English Premiere League. Sometimes it gets a little bit esoteric, so I'm there to step in and ask for an explanation every now and then. Now with a few episodes under our belt, we've kind of figured it out. I have my own little segment at the end called "The Afterglow" which is basically me recapping what I learned as a non-soccer fan over the course of an hour.

If you're at all interested in soccer, Manchester United, Real Salt Lake (we probably won't have much RSL to talk about after tonight, but...) or if you just like hearing my voice occasionally but never get to (You can always call, you know. You never call anymore.) check it out.

It's pretty much all over the place:
iTunes
Podbean
Tumblr
and Twitter

We're having fun, even though sometimes I feel a lot like Scott in the clip below.


TENSION

I'm 9 days away from driving to Las Vegas and ten days away from checking one of the few remaining boxes off my "Bands I'd like to see while I still can" list.

I'm seeing Nine Inch Nails next weekend, and I couldn't be more excited.

They're on the list along with Bruce Springsteen... and that's pretty much it. I had to get realistic, and as much as I'd love to see Danzig-era Misfits, I know that's just impossible. Even if Danzig teamed up with Doyle and the rest of the guys for an all-Misfits set, I don't think I'd want to see it. That would just be depressing. That guy has kind of lost his mind. I've documented it a couple of times (like here and here) and he's done a few interviews lately that only reinforce that feeling. Look at this excerpt from his interview with The Village Voice last month:
Glenn also made some waves in the press when he commented to the L.A. Weekly about how he wouldn't have played Wolverine "as gay" as Hugh Jackman did in the X-Men movie. Then, of course, Danzig has revealed what may be interpreted as right wing leanings during his 2011 appearance on the Fox News program Red Eye as well as the "Democrats are fascists disguised as liberals" remark he made to Minneapolis City Pages earlier this year. Oh, and god forbid any journalist ask him about Tom Neely's Henry & Glenn Forever, which features Glenn in a non-explicit, PG-rated relationship with longtime friend Henry Rollins. It's this rigidity in his public persona that makes a photo of him grimacing while carrying kitty litter through a parking lot gain instant internet traction.

Any attempts to clarify his use of the term "gay" for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine performance or to discuss politics were met with outright hostility, a rant against political correctness and the paranoid accusation that the purpose of this interview was to smear his politics under the pretense of the paper's liberal agenda.

"FUCK YOU, FUCK YOUR SPIN, AND FUCK THE VILLAGE VOICE!" he yelled. 
That's a long-winded way of me letting you know that just about any band besides NIN or The Boss would probably be a massive disappointment.  Again, probably. I don't know for sure. Sometimes you take a chance on a reunion and it's great (i.e. The Descendents) and sometimes it's like watching old, out of shape guys trying to reclaim their glory days (i.e. Earth Crisis).

Springsteen is probably never coming to Salt Lake, so I'll have to make a real effort on that front and Vegas is the closest Nine Inch Nails is getting, but I'm not passing it up. From the pictures, videos and reviews I've been seeing it will be one thousand percent worth it.

Plus, it's Las Vegas so I'll get to hit up Ronald's for donuts, Society Cafe for Frosted Flake French Toast and Twin Peaks for comedy and the soul-crushing reminder that most dudes in Las Vegas are exactly what you think they are.

Add all those factors together and I'm really, really excited about it. If you want to check out more pictures of the current tour, go to the Nine Inch Nails Flickr or Tumblr sites. Totally worth it.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

...AND IT'S DONE


For the time being, anyway.

There hasn't been much going on in the universe of satellite provider copy writing, so I've had plenty of time to work on those "Until My Heart Stops" entries. I've kept a pretty good pace since late summer and I'm actually really excited about the fact that I finished it.

Sort of.

I've been working on these stories for about 8 years now (I wrote the first one in February of 2005) and I've probably matured as a writer a little bit over that time. At least I hope I have. If I haven't, then I'm going to run into some serious problems over the next little while.

This was a huge undertaking and now that the first draft is done, I can move on to the second. I know that I need to let it sit for a while before taking it back out, but that's hard to do. I want to treat this as a real thing and give each character (i.e. real person) an actual voice and make it so it reads not so much like a collection of things that happened, but an actual narrative story broken up into segments. I started out just aping Get In The Van, but now I'm trying to figure out ways to avoid that.

There are a bunch of things I want to accomplish with this and make it more of an autobiography of a ten-year stretch of my life. Those ten years weren't incredibly compelling, but they were a lot of fun and made for some great stories. I'm pretty excited to put it out into the world, but that's still a ways away.

There's rewrites, layouts, pictures and a better title in the future, but for now, it's done. It's a cool feeling to finish something this big, but it also feels a little strange. I kind of thought it would be one of those things I kept plugging away at but never actually got anywhere with.

Thank god for corporate desk jobs with downtime, right?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SIT DOWN, STAND UP

 I've gotten away from reviews of stuff I saw lately - and I'm not sure anyone minds - but I wanted to step back in and brag a little about a couple of things I got to see over the past month.

I saw Bill Cosby and Dave Chappelle. Not together, of course. But only a few weeks apart.

Anyone that knows me, knows I've always loved stand-up comedy and comedy in general. When I was a little kid, my parents would take my brother and I to their friends house every Friday night, and we'd hang out with their kids. Usually that would always lead to the kids putting on a show for the adults. My segment was always a stand-up comedy routine and it was always put together from bits I'd stolen from other comics. There was a stand-up show on late Friday or Saturday nights when I was somewhere between 8-12. I'd usually stay up and watch it, sitting right in front of the TV in the basement so I could keep the volume low. I'd always have a tape in and the VCR ready in case someone came on that I recognized. There are probably a few Louie Anderson specials still in the basement of my parent's house.

I love seeing comedians live and seeing both of those guys was incredible.

There's a chance that Chappelle wasn't as good as he once was, but that's debatable. From 2003 to 2006, the man was at the top of his game. That's when CHAPPELLE'S SHOW was on the air and he was at the height of his power. He got sick of fame and walked away from everything and he's been doing sporadic shows ever since.

My friend Brandon compared it to seeing Richard Pryor in his prime, and that may be so, but I'm not sure. We have the benefit of hindsight with these things and that's always a benefit. I'm curious if anyone that was in the theater for the Richard Pryor set that became LIVE AT THE SUNSET STRIP or seated in the audience when Eddie Murphy was going to tape RAW knew what they were going to be a part of. I don't feel like they did.

If you had told me in 2005 that sitting in the audience for a Dane Cook set would be legendary, I probably would have believed you. In 2013, looking back, I don't think anything Dane Cook has ever done could be considered legendary. Not even close. I didn't know that going in though and the first time I heard RETALIATION, I thought it was pretty great. I'm kind of embarrassed that I enjoyed it now.

Back to Chappelle.

Expectations were high and he met every single one of them. It was amazing to see his laid back, slacker style of comedy in person. I'm always in awe when someone can command attention and control an enormous crowd with something as simple as a look. Bill Cosby was able to do the same thing - and he did it sitting in a chair the entire time!

Chappelle riffed a bit from time to time, but he had a set, and bits he'd been working out and you could tell he was working to get back to the level he was once at. He'd still blow just about every other comedian working out of the water, but he was still working.

Cosby's set was more story-driven. He'd told these stories before, but he had the rhythm and beats clearly mapped out in his head and executed them perfectly.

They're both masterful performers and I'm incredibly lucky that I got to see both so close together.

Seeing Cosby was fantastic, but seeing Chappelle was nothing short of inspiring.

TULIP IS OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT


Back in January when I sat down with Mike to make his Top 5 video, the first thing he mentioned was how happy he was that he'd finished the book he'd been working on. The two of us got to talking and I resurrected Old News Records as a publishing company.

The book came out on August 9, 2013 and this past Sunday, November 3, we sold the last copy. The first print of Tulip is officially sold out.

That's pretty fucking amazing.

Mike and I want to thank every single person that bought or read a copy. It's a truly awesome feeling to have that kind of support. Mike is probably way happier than I am because that's his hard work and it paid off.

Not literally, of course. He's not rich or anything (yet).

We're working out the details on a second print and trying to figure out the best way to move forward, but I'm excited that we're already at that stage. I had low expectations going in. It's not that I didn't believe in the book, because I did and still do. It has more to do with the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing as a publisher and had no idea if anyone would buy a book by an unknown author. Granted, we had a lot of help from family and friends, but whatever. We still sold every last copy.

Again, pretty fucking amazing.

So, again, thanks to every last person that came by Craft Lake City, Salt Lake Comic Con or bought one through my shop. We're both incredibly grateful that you'd throw down your money to support a little book like this. Thanks again.

Now if I can only figure out a way to make Old News Records my day job instead of writing bullshit articles about 'No Contract Wireless Internet' my life would be complete. Baby steps though.

P.S. Mike did a quick little interview for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (where he works) website. You should check that out.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"OCD"

A lot of people like to say they've got "a little OCD" because they're particular about something. That's not what OCD is.

Everything in my apartment,  everything on my shelves and everything on my desk at work has a place. It lives where I put it and it bothers me when it's not in the right place. But in no way do I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I'll still be able to fall asleep if I'm too tired to get up and fix whatever Harley knocked over.

This guy has OCD and he fucking owns it. This is one of my favorite slam poetry pieces I've ever seen.

The guy's name is Neil Hilborn. You can find his blog here, though he doesn't post that much. Still, take a few minutes and watch the video. It's really, really great.

P.S. Yeah, I actually do like slam poetry. Bet you didn't know that, did you?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WAR OF THE WORLDS

75 years ago, on October 30, 1938, a 23-year-old Orson Welles terrified the nation. Kind of.

Inside the CBS building, from the studio on the 20th floor, Welles and his Mercury Theatre On Air team performed the infamous WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast for Sunday night radio listeners.

Welles used radio clips from Herbert Morrison's reporting on the Hindenburg Disaster to illustrate the tone he wanted for the broadcast and writers Howard Koch and Anne Froelick (both of whom became successful screenwriters until they were blacklisted for Communist sympathies) got to work.

Welles, Koch and Froelick structured the re-imagining as a news broadcast with Welles acting as the main narrator. Since it was a sustaining show, it ran without commercial breaks and the uninterrupted flow only heightened the realness of the broadcast.

In the years since the broadcast, the legend that Welles sent the nation into a panic has grown. Slate has a great article on the reality of the situation, which says that pretty much everyone knew it was radio program and wasn't actually happening.

Newspapers were the ones yelling the loudest, but as Slate claims, it was mostly because they were angry that they'd been losing advertising to radio shows and wanted to portray radio newscasts as unreliable. So when they were able to grab hold of something like Welles' WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast, blow it out of proportion and sensationalize it to their benefit, they did.

Neither Welles nor CBS faced any kind of consequences for the program, and the only thing that came of it was that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) determined that "news flashes" were not to be used during fictional programming any longer. One woman did try to sue the network for $50,000 saying the broadcast caused "nervous shock" but that claim was dismissed almost immediately.

CBS still regularly celebrates Welles' WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast and it's been the subject of many stories, articles, TV specials, movies and documentaries. Even though the impact it may have had on that fall night was minimal, it's still regarded as one of the greatest stunts in entertainment history. The facts may have gotten skewered and reactions may have been a bit inflated, but it was still a defining moment that launched the great career of Orson Welles and the rest of the Mercury Theatre group.

Besides, as we all learned from THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE:

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

RIP JERSEY GUY

You remember when I used to talk about Jersey Guy all the time? Well, unfortunately he moved to the other building and I had to abandon my spreadsheet.

At least when we were in the same building, I could use the break room next to his desk as a reason to keep checking. Now that he's in a whole different building that I don't know very well and have absolutely no reason to go in to each day, it's impossible.

So, in my eyes, Jersey Guy is Dead As Fuck. It's pretty sad, but it's time to move on.

Here's the final tally:

Jordan - 9
Lakers - 8
Most Impressive - Michael Jordan 1996 All-Star Jersey
Personal Favorite - Powder Blue, Bo Jackson Kansas City Royals Jersey

It was fun while it lasted Jersey Guy. R.I.P.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MONSTERS INCORPORATED


Not everything needs a shared universe, but since one company has basically been printing money by doing just that, everyone wants in on the action.

Let’s call it “The Marvel Syndrome.”

That’s not a knock against Marvel by any means, because I love that company. It’s the only publisher I read superhero books from on a regular basis – which, even as low as three or four titles, is still more than the competition. I don’t buy a single monthly DC title.

The Marvel movies have a plan that the studio laid out and is sticking to. Phase 1 started with IRON MAN, then THE INCREDIBLE HULK, IRON MAN 2, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and they all built towards THE AVENGERS.

The studio is currently in the middle of Phase 2 which started with IRON MAN 3, then moves on with THOR: THE DARK WORLD, then CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. All of those lead to THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, which comes out in May of 2015.

The studio built a long-term plan and now they have a shared cinematic universe. It feels very real and the studio, writers, directors and actors have worked very hard to make it feel that way. Every actor that signs on for a Marvel Studios movie, signs a contract that has something like 10 appearances. That basically covers three stand-alone character films, three AVENGERS movies and a handful of appearances for them to pop up in other Marvel movies. It makes it feel real and it’s a nice little surprise when one of the other characters appears on screen – even if it’s only for a second.

DC is haphazardly throwing together their own shared movie universe, but they’re not doing a very good job with it. Ben Affleck (who I actually think will be great in this role) is the new BATMAN, and he’s going head to head with SUPERMAN pretty soon. Of course that means that everything that happened in BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS never happened. Probably anyway. I’m not really sure how that will work. I am certain than in the eyes of Warner Brothers and the SUPERMAN VS. BATMAN movie, everyone is probably just pretending that GREEN LANTERN never happened. It’s kind of a mess over there and probably won’t be straightened out for a while.

Since Marvel has been successful with it, and since Warner Brothers/DC is trying to get it together, every other studio in town is trying to build their own shared universe.

The latest studio to throw out such an idea is Universal, and I kind of hate what they want to do.

Universal wants to resurrect all the classic monsters – The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, and the Bride of Frankenstein – and give them their own AVENGERS-style universe.

I love all the classic monsters and those characters are some of my favorite creations of all time. But they would be terrible now. The guy that is tasked with coming up with a plan for all of them is Roberto Orci and his writing partner Alex Kurtzman – two guys I have very, very little faith in. Let’s take a look at their recent track record:

THE LEGEND OF ZORRO
THE ISLAND
TRANSFORMERS/TRANSFORMERS 2
COWBOYS & ALIENS
STAR TREK/INTO DARKNESS

As much as I liked the first STAR TREK reboot (and thought INTO DARKNESS was pretty good, save for the whole Khan thing), I don’t like what they do with the movies they write. They try too hard to make them bleak and serious, and it just becomes too much. The tone they use for every project is the same and I don’t get excited about anything they're involved with.

The lone bright spot on their resume is FRINGE, which I only saw the first season of. It was pretty good, but not good enough for me to keep going.

Devin Faraci wrote a good piece on this the other day and I encourage you to read it. Essentially, he says that what makes these monsters so special is the make-up, effects and the actors that inhabited them back when they first popped out. There’s no way Universal Studios, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman or any director (save for a few) would let those designs pass today. They’d have to be much scarier and pushed much, much farther.

By doing that, you kind of take away the soul of the characters. He also says that at this point in time, pretty much all of those characters are public domain. I could make a movie with Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster if I wanted to (and now I kinda do).

I’m all for new stories and new movies with those characters – they’re all-time classics that I would be happy to see again. I just don’t want Orci or Kurtzman anywhere near them. But if they do, if they absolutely have to be the guys to make this happen, I’d much rather they focus on trying to tell a good story with one character than worry too much about working them all in.

There’s a small chance that this plan could be great, but I won’t hold my breath.

After all there’s no way in hell that it could be better than the last time we saw all these monsters together in one place. No chance whatsoever.

Never forget.

Friday, October 11, 2013

JEALOUS AGAIN


Back in January, I wrote a little thing about the two different versions of Black Flag that were gearing up to go to battle. Then in May, I updated the story after Greg Ginn's Black Flag posted a new song and the Keith Morris version, just called Flag, posted a video of one of their shows.

Well, after a long hot summer, there's another update to fill you in on.

In August, Greg Ginn - who was already losing the battle because Keith Morris' group had all the cool people in in - decided to file a lawsuit. He was basically trying to bar Morris from using the Black Flag logo, make it hard for his group to tour and play the Black Flag songs and named Henry Rollins in the suit claiming that he and Morris went behind his back to try and copyright the logo or something. Things were said, papers were served and everyone's been fighting behind the scenes ever since.

Yesterday, it ended. For a while, at least.

A U.S. District Court judge in California determined that Ginn's lawsuit was bullshit, that people could tell the difference between the two bands and that Ginn couldn't prove that he alone owned the Black Flag name and/or logo. Bootleg merch had been on the market since 2008 and in 2009 a Japanese company registered the band name. Morris and his lawyers argued that since neither of those things prompted any legal action from Ginn or his label, SST, both had fallen into "generic use."

The judge also stated that no one could clearly determine who the last remaining member of Black Flag actually was and that since they'd filed taxes under the title "Black Flag Partnership," Morris and Rollins had every right to try and trademark the name and logo under that banner.

That last part stemmed from this little gem: "the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;"

The judge basically ruled that Rollins never quit the band, so he was still technically allowed to do whatever he wanted with the name and logo - even if he's not actually in either of the new incarnations.

Here's the rest of the judge's ruling that I got from SPIN.com, who obtained it through Keith Morris' camp.

(1) the court found that SST had no rights in the trademarks;
(2) Ginn seemed to have no individual rights in the Black Flag trademarks;
(3) even if either had had any rights in those marks, they had abandoned those rights through a failure to police the mark for nearly 30 years;
(4) the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;
(5) that even if the plaintiffs had some trademark claim in the marks, there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Black Flag and Flag given the ample press coverage over the dispute; and
(6) the trademark application and registration that Henry and Keith made was done in good faith (e.g. not fraudulently) – and is thus not necessarily subject to cancellation – given that they understood their actions to have been done on the part of the Black Flag partnership (see No. 4, above).

The battle rages on.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CAME BACK HAUNTED



Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about spending my birthday with a bunch of high school kids? It was pretty fun and turned out to be a pretty good read. That was in the middle of my visiting a bunch of haunted houses for City Weekly's Halloween Issue.

That hit the stands yesterday with articles from a bunch of other, far more talented writers than myself. But I may have gotten the most space, so technically I win. Right?

Either way. If you're out and about this weekend, pick up a copy. It'll feel nice to hold a physical copy of something while you read and it won't look like you're just buried in your phone. Or you can click the link below and read it online. I don't really care how these words travel through your eyes and to your brain, but just make sure they do. I had fun writing this piece, so share it with your friends.

City Weekly -- October in Utah brings all the makings of a perfect fall—cooler weather, leaves changing color, the undead roaming parking lots with chainsaws. The state has many horror houses to choose from; here are some of your best options for a haunted night on the town.

Continue reading Haunted Utah at CityWeekly.net

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

MAIN STREET - SALT LAKE CITY

I love pictures of old Utah. I'm pretty sure this is Main Street around 200 South. No idea how long ago this was taken though.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

UNTIL MY HEART STOPS - UPDATE

I seriously doubt anyone still looks at my other blog (Until My Heart Stops), but in the off chance that someone does, I'm making a little update.

This project is still very much alive, it's just not alive in real time. The method used to be that I'd write a piece and post it immediately, but I stopped doing that a long, long time ago. Like 4 years ago. Ooops.

I transferred everything that's on this site to a Google Doc and added every other out of town date that I've played with Cherem, Tamerlane and Aftermath of a Trainwreck. I made little bullet points of things I remembered about each show and have been slowly plugging away at it ever since.

Earlier this year, I got a boring desk job that comes with A LOT of downtime. In some of that downtime, I've been pecking away at these stories and fleshing them out. The last entry that I published (July 19, 2005 - Redlands, CA) is pages 49-50 of that document. I just hit page 116 this morning. Things are moving along nicely.

My goal is to have the whole thing finished by the end of the year. I'll let it sit for a month or so then dive back in for rewrites. I want to make the tone consistent throughout and hit all the little things that I missed along the way - anecdotes, side stories, new recollections, etc.

The plan is to put it together with some fliers, photos, set lists, news articles and things like that and make a nice, limited edition book. Mostly it would be just for the dudes in the band, but depending on how it turns out and how much it costs to manufacture, I might make a few extra available in the off chance that other people want one.

We'll see. I'm determined to get this finished. Whether or not anyone actually sees it is another story all together.

Either way, I'm pretty proud of the progress, so I thought I'd throw it out there. It's kind of like taking a selfie at the gym - if there's no real time record of you doing it, then you didn't really do it in the first place. I didn't make the rules, but that's what they are.

Back to work.




Monday, September 30, 2013

LONG LIVE SLOAN - BACK IN STOCK

Wanted to give everyone a heads up that the LONG LIVE SLOAN shirt is back in stock.

Just in time for basketball season and just in time to show your support for the legend - especially now that he's back in the Jazz organization in some capacity.

Head over to my shop and pick one up.


Monday, September 23, 2013

HOW I SPENT MY 33RD BIRTHDAY TAGGING ALONG TO A HIGH SCHOOL DANCE ACTIVITY


We’re only a single sentence into this thing and I’m already lying to you. Technically, anyway.

All of this happened on Saturday night and my birthday was actually Sunday. I’ve lived in Utah long enough to know that if a holiday falls on a Sunday, you’re legally obligated to celebrate it the day before. Or something like that. Plus, if girls can celebrate their birthday for an entire week (or more), I can pretend that Saturday was my birthday. Besides, I had to wait tables all day Sunday and BREAKING BAD was on at night. I was kind of tied up that day.

Anyway.

It’s Halloween season, which means it’s also Haunted House season. City Weekly does a piece on as many as possible each year for one of the A&E features. I always try to get it, and for the last three years, I’ve been able to. Basically, I just go through as many as will let me in and then write a piece on what they’re like. It’s fun to write and even more fun to see them. And I don’t have to bring a can of food or wait in line. Usually.

On Friday, I went to two of the three I was supposed to hit. I had company for those and they were both a lot of fun. Unfortunately, my date had to work the next night, so she wouldn’t be able to accompany me to any more. I knew this beforehand, so on Friday morning I started calling around and making inquiries to find a replacement for Saturday. A whole bunch of people were already out of town – which I knew – but there were even more gone than I thought. It was brutal.

“I’ll be gone. Sorry.”

“I have to go up to Ogden for family stuff.”

My options were running low, but then I remembered Dan and Kristin. They’d just moved back from NYC and both love Halloween. They also live in Park City, so I never see them, which makes it easy for me to forget they like fun. They had to be into this, right?

“We have no plans and LOVE haunted houses.”

Perfect. I usually hate tagging along with a married couple (or couples in general), but Dan and Kristin are different. I’ve known them both for so long that it doesn’t feel like tagging along. They were the perfect choice.

At four o’clock on Saturday, my phone goes off. It’s a text from Kristin.

“Hey, Dan can’t make it but I’m going to take a nap and then I’ll call you.”

That should have been all the info I needed and a sure-fire sign to start making phone calls. Any time a girl says she’s going to take a nap before she meets up with you – married or not, and especially not – she has absolutely no intention of hanging out. She’s just laying the groundwork for ditching you. Either she wakes up too late and doesn’t feel like getting ready, or most likely, she’s off doing something else entirely, but has an alibi already set.

This may or may not have happened to me a few times. Maybe. I’ve already put too much thought into this, haven’t I?

I held out hope that she’d wake up in time and want to actually drive down from Park City, but in the back of my mind I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Still, I didn’t make any contingency plans. I could have. There were plenty of people I could have called, but I just didn’t make the calls when I should have. I waited around, watched a bit of football, went grocery shopping and sent Kristin a text at a little after 9.

“I just woke up. I don’t think I’m going to make it.”

Not saying that Kristin ditched me on purpose, because I don’t think she would, but still. I should have made arrangements. This is mostly on me.

The worst part was that I still had to go. The deadline for the write-up was the following Thursday and none of the Haunted Houses are open during the week yet. Saturday was my last chance. I had to go and it looked more and more like I was going alone. I made one last effort by stopping at a coffee shop hoping to run into someone with even less to do than me on a Saturday night, but nothing came of it. I grabbed a coffee and headed West.

A true journalist at work. The Hunter S. Thompson of Salt Lake City haunted houses. Surely they’re just as dangerous as tagging along with the Hell’s Angels or taking a bunch of drugs in Las Vegas. In the name of the story, I was on my way.

Whatever I needed to tell myself.

Take a minute to think about what happens in mid-to-late September. Any ideas? Homecoming. There are A LOT of high schools in Salt Lake and the surrounding cities and Saturday night was homecoming for a whole bunch of different ones. When I showed up to the haunted house, the line was full of teenagers dressed up in shirts, ties, dresses and corsages. It was a good 1 : 1 ratio of regular people and kids visiting a haunted house for their dance activity.

I found the production manager, told her who I was and who I was writing for and told her that I was forced to roll solo. She felt kind of bad and chatted with me for a minute before she had to go off to do actual work. Before that, she gave me a wristband and sent me to the front of the VIP line. There was not a single other person in that line. The regular line was full and stretched out the door.

The lines converged and I was moved to the inside waiting area – stuck between two different groups of high school kids. The group ahead of me was ushered into the haunt itself and I was left at the front of the line. I turned around to the group of 16-year-olds with scene hair and raccoon makeup and just put it out there.

“So, how many do you guys have with you?”

“Just the four of us.”

“Cool. You guys mind if I tag along with you?”

“Uh, sure.”

I didn’t clarify a single thing. I just asked if I could tag along, they said yes and just like that, we were off. My new friends and I ventured into the throes.

I’d spent so much time trying to avoid going to this thing with a couple that I knew that I shot myself in the foot. I ended up spending an hour and a half on Saturday night with two high school couples leading them through the darkness of a haunted house in Taylorsville.

I wouldn’t say that we were friends by the end, but we were all cracking jokes and hanging out before we went our separate ways – me back home to watch the end of the BYU/Utah football game and them to wherever high school couples go after a dance. Maybe Village Inn or Denny’s. I don’t know.

The drive home is when I realized that I gave them absolutely no context of why I was there. I didn’t tell any of them my name and I didn’t ask for any of theirs. I didn’t tell them that I was writing a piece for City Weekly or that my friends had bailed at the last second. They knew nothing about any of that.

All they know is that some dude showed up alone to a haunted house at 10 PM on a Saturday night and tagged along with their group, leading the way as they did the West Valley Walk behind. As far as they’re concerned, I’m just a guy that loves haunted houses so much that he goes to them alone, latching on to dance activity groups to make new friends for a little bit while watching drama students jump out from behind the wall scaring everyone.

My only regret is that I didn’t have someone get a group picture of us.

Are there any homecoming dances next week?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE FLIGHT FROM DALLAS


I've always been pretty fascinated with the JFK assassination and, really, the U.S. as a whole during the 1950's and 60's.

James Ellroy wrote a couple of books about that era that I count as some of my favorites (L.A. Confidential, American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, etc.). Lately there have been a few really good long-form articles popping up that become a bit of an obsession for a few days.

Earlier this year, The Memphis Commercial Appeal published a story called Six : 01 - The Last 32 Hours of Martin Luther King, Jr. and it was just fantastic. It was the 45th anniversary of his assassination and it's just a really well written, well-researched article.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Chris Jones - a writer that I've always admired and loved - has a great story in this month's Esquire. It's about the 6 hours inside Air Force One from the time the shooting happened to when the plane touched down in Washington, D.C. with Lyndon B. Johnson as the new President.

I hadn't really paid much attention to LBJ, so I didn't really understand how much the Kennedy inner circle disliked him. It's pretty much consumed my entire morning. I'm beginning to understand how there are so many people still obsessed with this story 50 years later. There was a lot going on back then and a lot of it seemed pretty shady.

But those are the things that make a great story, which is why it's still a prime candidate for use across all different forms of media.

Anyway, Chris Jones does a great job connecting a lot of what's been collected before into a single narrative. I didn't know that Jackie refused to change her clothes or clean herself up because she wanted the world "to see what they did" and no idea how desperate LBJ was to be sworn in before he left Dallas so that no one could change their mind about how it should go.

Also, LBJ was so powerless in the Kennedy administration that he and his wife lived in a house that only had a commercial phone line. That was replaced with something more secure as the plane was in the air bound for Washington. Johnson didn't want to sleep in the White House that night because it would seem disrespectful.

You should read it. It's online now, but Esquire sometimes only makes things available to look at for a certain amount of time before they put it behind a pay wall. Read it online now, or pick up the new issue when it hits stands.

Here's a little snippet:

2:34 P.M.

Marie Fehmer palms the typewritten oath to Judge Hughes. But they still need a Bible. Larry O'Brien, excusing himself to Jackie, finds a Catholic missal in the bedroom's nightstand drawer. It is in a small box, still wrapped in cellophane. It is possibly a gift, something that somebody, somewhere, had thrust into Kennedy's hands, perhaps even on this last trip to Texas. Now O'Brien tears open the box and hands the book to Judge Hughes.

Ken O'Donnell follows O'Brien into the stateroom. Johnson sees him: "Would you ask Mrs. Kennedy to come stand here?" He wants her to stand beside him.

"You can't do that!" O'Donnell shouts. "The poor little kid has had enough for one day, to sit here and hear that oath that she heard a few years ago! You just can't do that, Mr. President!"

"Well," Johnson says, "she said she wanted to do it."

"I just don't believe that," O'Donnell says, even as he heads toward the bedroom. He paces in the hallway, his hands on his head—hysterical is the word he later uses to describe himself. Finally he walks into the bedroom. Jackie is combing her hair.

"Do you want to go out there?" O'Donnell asks.

"Yes," Jackie says. "I think I ought to. At least I owe that much to the country."

2:37 P.M.

Jackie Kennedy comes out of the bedroom. The room falls silent. She has taken off her single bloody glove, but she has not changed her clothes or made use of the blue towels.

Read the rest at Esquire.com

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

FILLER (ISSUE 2)

Last year, right after Craft Lake City ended, I decided that the zine I made was going to come out every 4 months. August, December and April of every year would see a new issue. I started planning out the second issue pretty much while I was standing at my table and got really excited about it.

Then when December came around, and I had nowhere to really sell the thing other than my website, I dropped it down to twice a year. It would come out in February and August. That didn’t happen either and in May, when I got accepted to CLC again, I figured I should get the ball rolling and start putting things together. I cast a pretty wide net recruiting friends to write things. I recruited a ton of people figuring that a lot of them would flake out. None of them did and I ended up having twice as much material for the second issue.

There was so much time spent recruiting writers for content that I pretty much forgot to figure out what to do about visuals. Three days before I had to start laying it out I came up with a little cartoon to use a few times just to break up the huge chunks of text. It turned out really good, I think, and I’m proud that everything came together.

The whole concept of Filler is really nothing more than “I have cool friends, let me tell you about them.” I told everyone that I didn’t really care what they wanted to write about or talk about, just as long as it wasn’t already on the Internet or going up on the Internet. I wanted Filler to have exclusive stuff that they could only find in the zine and people were happy to oblige.

I’ve got a few copies left and they’re up for sale in the ONR store if you want to snag one. Here’s a few of the people that contributed to this issue and where you can find them.

Mike Farfel – A good friend of mine and the author of the first ONR publication, Tulip. You can find him on Twitter (@onebillionmikes), Instagram (@ohbeem) and his blog, Stay Asleep (http://wakeupmike.blogspot.com/).

John Dilley – I met John through the company I work for and he hit the ground running pretty good with Twitter (@john_dilley) and his blog (http://johndilley.wordpress.com/), but he got a new job and he’s been pretty busy with that. Hopefully he gets back to it on a regular basis. He’s got some great stories.

Daniel Maland – I met this guy when he was booking shows and doing sound for me at New Song Underground. We reconnected at my boring office job, and he’s since moved on to doing sound full-time. He’s got a great site dedicated to that (www.smallvenuesurvivalist.com) and he acts out on Twitter (@dmaland0) occasionally.

Makenna Walsh – He was the first guy to send me anything and it’s a hilarious and sad read all at once. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram (@holeinthehand) and occasionally he Tumbles (www.idlepopulation.tumblr.com).

Danielle Mariott – The only lady to break through the boy’s club wall this year (mainly because I see her every day at work, so she couldn’t forget about it). She gave me a couple of great poems that really gave the zine a little bit of diversity. You can find her sharing music and pictures via Instagram and Twitter (@pretty_okay) and her own Internet home (www.daniellemariott.com). She’s also got a great band called Light Black that you should listen to with my Craft Lake City neighbor Carrie Wakefield (Metalhead Jewelry).

Casey aka The Big Dogg – I’ve been writing down the ridiculous things that Casey says since 2001 and decided it was finally time to do something with them. I recruited Clark Snyder to draw a quick newspaper comic strip version of Casey so I could add a word balloon with a quote and it turned out great. Watch Casey act out on Instagram (@xperrograndex) and get tattooed by Clark (@clarksnyder) at Cathedral Tattoo.

Thanks to everyone that picked up a copy. Issue three will be along at some point. It’s a surprise. I like to keep you on your toes.