Monday, July 31, 2006

The U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning

The following script is real and this is really how the whole U.N. Security Council thingy played out. For real. No inspiration taken from here.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Trouble at nuclear enrichment plant.
U.S. envoy: Oh no - what kind of trouble?
Ahmadinejad: Durka, durka, bak Allah.
U.S. envoy: Pardon?
Ahmadinejad: Durka, durka, sherpa. Mohammed jihad.
U.S. envoy: I don't understand what you're saying.
Ahmadinejad: [slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent] One of our plutonium enrichment sites is capable of producing weapons-grade nuclear materials.
U.S. envoy: Why on earth are you increasing the tensions in the world like that?
Ahmadinejad: I don't know - Allah just told me to come in here and say that we were again pursuing a nuclear program again - I didn't expect a kind of U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning.


[The door flies open and Hans Blix of the U.N. Security council enters, flanked by two junior security council members. The Chinese S.C. has goggles pushed over his forehead. The Russian S.C. is just the Russian S.C.]

Blix: EVERYBODY expects the U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning! Our chief weapon is expectation ... expectation and ineffectuality ...ineffectuality and expectation ... Our two weapons are ineffectuality and expectation ... and laughable inefficiency ... Our *three* weapons are ineffectuality, expectation, and laughable inefficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the socialism ... Our *four*... no ... *Amongst* our weapons ... Amongst our weaponry ... are such elements as ineffectuality, expectation ... I'll come in again.

[The U.N. Security Council exits]

Ahmadinejad: I didn't expect a kind of U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning.


[The Security Council members burst in]

Blix: Everybody expects the U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: ineffectuality, expectation, laughable inefficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to socialism, and nice money laundering schemes - Oh damn!
[To Chinese S.C.] I can't say it - you'll have to say it.
Chinese S.C.: What?
Blix: You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief weapons are ...'
Chinese S.C.: [rather horrified]: I couldn't do that...

[Blix bundles the Security Council members outside again]

Ahmadinejad: I didn't expect a kind of U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning.


[The Security Council members enter]

Chinese S.C.: Er....
Blix: Expects...
Chinese S.C.: Expects... Everybody expects U.N.
Blix: Security Council ...
Chinese S.C.: I know, I know! Everybody expects the U.N. Security Council Letter of Warning. In fact, those who do not expect -
Blix: Our chief weapons are...
Chinese S.C.: Our chief weapons
Blix: Expectation ...
Chinese S.C.: Expectation and --
Blix: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! ... our chief weapons are expectation...blah blah blah. Russia, read the charges.
Russia S.C.: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates – while pissing off the U.S. (which we consider to be a good thing) – did in fact make the rest of the world community drop a load in their collective pants. Furthermore …
Blix: That's enough.

[To Ahmadinejad] Now, how do you plead?

Ahmadinejad: We're innocent.
Blix: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Chinese S.C.: We'll soon change your mind about that!
Blix: Ineffectuality, expectation, and a most laughable -- [controls himself with a supreme effort] Ooooh! Now, China -- the mountain of aid paperwork!
[Chinese S.C. produces a single sheet of paper, single sided. Blix looks at it and clenches his teeth in an effort not to lose control. He hums heavily to cover his anger]
Blix: You....Right! Make him fill it out.
[The Russian and Chinese S.C. members make a pathetic attempt to make him fill it out]
Blix:Right! How do you plead?
Ahmadinejad: Innocent.
Blix: Ha! Right! China, give the sharpen the pencil.
[China S.C. stands their awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders at not having a pencil sharpener and that Ahmadinejad is using a pen]
China S.C.: I....
Blix: [gritting his teeth] I *know*, I know you can't. I didn't want to say anything. I just wanted to try and ignore your crass mistake.
China S.C.: I...
Blix: It makes it all seem so stupid.
China S.C.: Shall I...?
Blix: No, just pretend for God's sake. Ha! Ha! Ha!
[China S.C. turns an imaginary handle on the imaginary pencil sharpener]

[Cut to them torturing a a businessman who owns a bar that features midget tossing]

Blix: Now, old man -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action -- *four* counts. Do you confess?
Businessman: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Blix: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! China S.C.! Fetch...THE LETTER!


[China S.C. holds out a rather ordinary letter, with nice letterhead]
China S.C.: Here it is, lord.
Blix: Now, old man -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the Godly -- *two* last chances. And you shall be free -- *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Businessman: I don't know what you're talking about.
Blix: Right! If that's the way you want it -- China! Poke him with the letter!
[China S.C. carries out this rather pathetic torture]
Blix: Confess! Confess! Confess!
China S.C.: It doesn't seem to be hurting him, lord.
Blix: Have you got folded it with a sharp point?
China S.C.: Yes, lord.
Blix [angrily hurling away the cushions]: Hm! He is made of harder stuff! Russia! Fetch... DESK BLOTTER!


[Zoom into the Russian S.C.’s horrified face]

Russia S.C. [terrified]: The...Desk Blotter?

[China S.C. a desk blotter – a large one with a calendar with kittens on it]

Blix: So you think you are strong because you can survive the letter folded to have a sharp point. Well, we shall see. China! Wrap him in the Desk Blotter!
[They roughly wrap him in the desk blotter]
Blix [with a cruel leer]: Now -- you will stay in the Desk Blotter until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. [aside, to China] Is that really all it is?
China S.C.: Yes, lord.
Blix: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, man. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess
China S.C.: I confess!
Blix: Not you!

Thanks to Bingley, whose Hans Brix post inspired this idea.

I'm back


What, did he go somewhere?

Dude. We didn't know you were gone.

Yeah, yeah. I was gone. The family and I made an impromptu trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to let the kids see some family one more time before school starts (in two freakin' days. Aug. 2 -- what's up with that?).

Aside from a little rain here and there, it was a very good trip.

The thing that struck me most is how far the coast has come in Hurricane Katrina clean up. The last time I was down there was around New Years, and most of the coast still looked like a war zone. While there are still some areas where the devastation is evident -- large structures demolished, beach-front homes in varying states of repair or demolition -- there's no more trash along the roads, and very little otherwise to tell you that a major hurricane dealt the area a harsh strike.

I still haven't been to New Orleans yet. But I hear about their woes through family, friends and the innerweb. Their situation is somewhat different, but while The Big Easy's having a hard time getting people to work in some of the minimum-wage areas, Biloxi, Gulfport and surrounding area economies are booming.

Well, that's enough for now. More later.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Maori like me ...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting... Which is to say, none. But you wish you had my Maori spirit.

Andrea Yates ...

... Found not guilty by reason of jury insanity.

I mean, really, what else can you say?

Gone fishin'

The Cosmic Conservative tells a tale of two buddies gone fishin'.

An excerpt:
“You caught that fish because you kept the better rod, line and bait, and loaned me inferior equipment.”

“What the heck are you talking about? I loaned you a perfectly good rod, line and bait because you didn’t bother to bring one. You’re lucky you have anything to fish with at all.”

“Well, all I know is that you kept that rod, line and reel, and you are catching fish.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sold out?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPitt has a post up where the comments are digressing into a "Did Dave Navarro sell out" debate. Which isn't what the post is about. So, I'll ask the question here, "Is Dave Navarro a sell out, an industry tool or just a guy?"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Muggy Monday Musings

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt's been an overcast, rainy, muggy, sweltering day in Southwest Georgia. I loved this stuff when I was younger. When I was a kid, I'd run around in the rain. It was the coolest. You didn't have to find a pool. You didn't have to turn on the sprinkler. You just ran around outside and got wet. No cares about getting struck by lightning. Just fun. When I was a teen/young adult, and more athletic, we'd play soccer and mud football.

Nowadays I just want to nap. I really need to get back into shape.

But this weather always makes me ponder.

- Is toast just a butter delivery system? I tend to think so.

- Did anyone catch the brain storm bit in my last post? I thought that was quite clever.

- Is oatmeal with pecans food of the gods or what?

- Tracey's hubby is looking for assistance with cake. Go help him.

- Emily's wondering randomly.

- Turtle finishes his story about going to Norway to see Turbonegro.

- Kali ponders to show or not to show.

It's just a musing kind of day.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday notes

A day spent doing laundry, watching TV, and hanging out with the kids.

A really cool documentary.I watched this really great documentary about the life and work of Frank Frazetta on the Independent Film Channel. It was fantastic. Frazetta's always been my favorite fantasy artist and I would consider him on the short list of my favorite artists of any genre.

Though I haven't had a subscription in a few years, I used to read Heavy Metal religiously. And you could easily say that every artist featured in that book was inspired in some way by Frazetta. The documentary featured some of the luminaries in the fantasy field -- Simon Bisley, Michael Kaluta, Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, John Buscema, and many others. I was held rapt. If you have the opportunity to watch it, I highly suggest it.

After the documentary, we tried to figure out things to do. We tried talking the kids into reading books, but no. We had convinced Daughter #1 to try and draw a comic strip (she's recently developed a like for comic strips/comics). She told me she was going to draw a comic strip about talking brains that rain from the sky -- a brain storm. My seven year old. I love my kids.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Metal Week Finale

As cool as heavy metal is -- heck, as cool as the following song is -- it's best to keep in mind that King Diamond is damn funny.

Hope you're having a great weekend folks.

Making the Metal: Supergroup -- The results

Well, I put it out there and you voted. Here's the results of a democratic Supergroup Poll:

Looking a bit like that Aussie dude from Midnight Oil here, Maynard.Vocals - Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle): Maynard was my pick for lead vocals when I did my first supergroup post. Here's what I posted then:

I believe that Maynard has the best hard rock/metal voice in the industry. He’s powerful, has good range, an amazing capacity to hold notes and can really get harsh when needed. He also writes great lyrics, though that’s not really what I had in mind. I just wanted a powerful, versatile singer. Interestingly, I actually got the idea for this post earlier today when an APC song came on the radio. I thought to myself, “You know, Maynard really does have the best voice in hard rock today. I wonder how much better a band he could get with …”
I still believe that.

And I'll play them with my feet.Lead Guitarist - Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy Osbourne): I have written a lot here about Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. In terms of heavy metal, BLS is one of the heaviest bands out there. I also like the fact that Zakk sings. He's not very good, but he brings a southern-fried sound to the music. Which, taking into consideration he's a born and raised New Jersey boy, is kinda funny.

There's no mistaking his chops though. Zakk is an accomplished metal and classical guitarist, one of the few guitarists around today that Ozzy still invites into the studio, and has what is probably the most distinctive sound in metal today.

Riff 'em all.Rhythm Guitar/Guitar #2 - James Hetfield (Metallica): I was a bit surprised by this answer. While I like old school Metallica, and think those early albums to be some of the most influential music in heavy metal, I don't consider James Hetfield to be a "supergroup" level guitarist. That is, he writes very catchy music and has been doing it for over 20 years. But nothing that makes me think, "Wow, that was amazingly complex," or, "How did he do that?"

However, he is a solid player, can hang with the fastest players out there and, again, has been doing this for over 20 years. You've got to give the man props for his career.

And, thinking about it, it would be really interesting to hear what he and Zakk would come up with. I think the two could come up with some really interesting combinations.

The Ace of Killed by Doctor Rock.Bassist - Lemmy (Motorhead): I doubt there's anything I could say about Lemmy that's not been said before. Again, here's another vote that goes to someone who is by no means a virtuoso. But Lemmy's a solid player. He knows how to make catchy music. He knows how to keep a thunderous bottom end going.

After getting kicked from Hawkwind, Lemmy formed Motorhead and pretty much redefined heavy metal for generations to come. Almost every band that came out of LA and New York in that early '80s era -- Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Sacred Reich, Onslaught -- list Motorhead as an influence. When you're reading those magazine or online articles about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Motorhead is what they're talking about.

Keyboards: We don't need no stinking keyboards in this band!

The original drumming man.Percussion - Tie - Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Neil Peart (Rush): It would be really cool to hear either of these guys in this band. Both have so much talent and ability. They're both considered all-time greats in the field of percussion and have really gone a long way toward advancing the listening public's expectations of what a drummer should do.

Neil Peart has been on the scene longer. A product of the "bloated, '70s progressive rock," Peart and Rush have always pushed the musical limits. Writing catchy music while at the same time performing complex rythms and time changes has always been part of Peart's repertoire.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPortnoy, entered the scene in the late '80s and took the drumming world by storm. He redefined what virtuoso drumming is. In modern music, Portony and Danny Carey are on the short list of elite drummers.

With kits that blow the mind and percussions patterns that follow, Portnoy regularly blows the minds of fans. His ability to play complex polyrythms while still laying down standard beats for his fellow musicians to follow is recognized by drummers worldwide.

SO, those are the picks, how do you think they'd sound?

Caption Death!

Winners for last week's caption contest are:

1. "Damn bifocals. Idiots ARE closer than they appear." - Shannon

2. "Yes, now that I look closely I see you are indeed a walking, talking rectum, Ms. Thomas." - Mr. Bingley

3. That was the last time anyone from the UN dared to challenge Captain Kangaroo. - Nightfly

Honorable mention because I was a big fan of the show:
"I'm crushing your head! I'm crushing your head! " - ricki

Thank you all for participating. In honor of heavy metal week, this week's captionable enty is:

Yes, mom. I did get into your makeup again.

So, there's your entry. Caption winners will be announced next Saturday.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Poll extension

I have been busy today. Between writing a paper for class tonight (thank you Kali) and regular work, I haven't really had the time to post anything. As evidenced by my lack of hundreds of comments on your blogs.

Anyway, I was thinking about doing this before I got busy, but my schedule just confirmed it for me. I'm extending the voting for the supergroup poll until tomorrow. I will collect the results and post the supergroup final post in the morning if I don't have class, in the afternoon if I do.

Additionally, I wanted to thank everyone for participating and leaving comments. This has been a very fun week for me and has me thinking that I'm probably going to start focusing far more on music posting. I mean, I lead a pretty boring life and it's far more interesting to talk about whether you should fret a power chord with a pinky or not. And tuning in fifths. Loves me some tuning in fifths.

So, keep voting. Keep trucking. And always, always, watch out for zombies.

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Randy Rhoads

No other guitarist had as much impact on heavy metal guitar as Randy Rhoads. Jimi Hendrix laid the foundation, for sure, and Eddie Van Halen was doing very similar things, but Rhodes did something that neither of them did. He died very early in his career. Earlier than Hendrix -- with only 3 active studio recording years.

If Hendrix is a rock and roll legend, Rhoads is a martyr. His neo-classic style influenced nearly every serious heavy metal band around him -- those that were already putting albums out and those that were just forming.

But don't take my word for it:

I was having problems with the video synch on these videos, but they're very worthwhile -- live performances of Mr. Crowley and Crazy Train.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Making the Metal: Supergroup

I am stealing an idea from myself. A couple of months ago, I had a post up about creating your own Supergroup. I had some fantastic responses and great ideas.

Being that this is Metal week here at the Pica and that I'm doing much polls, I've created the Heavy Metal Supergroup Poll! The following polls allow you to vote for your choice of singer, guitarist, bass player, drummer, etc. I'll let the poll go for a while and the winners in each category will be the members of the super group. What I do with that information ... I'm not sure yet. But I have some ideas.

On with the polls:
Who's gonna front the band?

Guitarist #1
Who would you pick to lead the shred?

Guitarist #2
Who would you pick to share the shred?

Who would you choose to pluck your bottom end?

Who would tickle your ivories?

Who's gonna keep the time?

The polls will run until about Noon EST tomorrow.

The Best Heavy Metal Album Ever

The one album to rule them all.This one wasn't close. There were votes for other albums, mostly out of respect or nostalgia I suppose. But this one dominated all others: Slayer's Reign in Blood.

I was 12 when this album came out. This was the year of my boom box. I was still shaping my idea of what heavy metal was. But after the ass kicking and subsequently finding that friend who lived nearby, I was introduced to Metallica. Megadeth. And eventually - Slayer.

I didn't know what to think at first. I could handle Metallica and Megadeth. There were heavy and fast, but still maintained pretty conventional ideas of melody and harmony and song structure. Not Slayer. Not Reign in Blood. It blew the doors off convention. It challenged every other metal band to step up their A game. There was no more pussyfooting around. You either brought the stomp or the metal public was going to put you in the same class as Journey and Bad Company.

To be completely honest, it took me a couple of years before I appreciated Slayer. It was just to unconventional for me then. I had to cut my teeth on Megadeth, Metallica and other, less heavy, heavy metal first. I also, later that year, made a friend at school who was really into punk. So, while I'm discovering all this new metal, I'm learning about all these bands that have come before. But a couple of years worth of Misfits, the Pistols, the Kennydys, GBH, and all the metal I'd been listening to, I was ready for Slayer.

That's what they were to people who'd never heard them: overwhelming. And this album, 20 years later, is still overwhelming. There may be faster bands. There may be heavier bands. There may be "better" bands. But none of them have made an album that is so much better than the sum of its parts like Reign in Blood.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Later today, I will have another, different kind of poll. We're nearing the end of Metal week, so the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In the interest of the preservation of Heavy Metal and Hardcore ...

We should take the following as the straw that broke the damn camel's back:

The banjo must be destroyed!

The Heavy Metal* Spirit!

One bad dude.This is fantastic news:

"Spirit" comic comes to life on big screen

More than four decades after Will Eisner created him, "The Spirit" -- one of the most influential comics of all time -- is coming to the big screen.

The movie will be adapted and directed by Frank Miller ("Sin City"), who will be on hand for the public announcement Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Normally I'd approach this with some aprehension. I mean, they did make a movie about The Phantom and The Shadow and they were both weak.

But, the saving grace of this movie is that it's being directed by Frank Freakin' Miller.

Damn skippy.

*It's metal week, gotta tie this to Heavy Metal somehow.

The best years in metal

Two guys you really don't want to ever meet in an alley.Quite some time ago, I posted on what I thought was the best year for music, 1986.

And it's quite the year for Heavy Metal. Reign in Blood, Master of Puppets, and Peace Sells ... But Who's Buying? are three of the heaviest hitters in heavy metal. That year, metal was at its apex, maximum wax. Sure, there was plenty of other bands out there, but if you played guitar, you knew every song off of Master of Puppets within hours of picking it up.

There's another year that figures heavily into the "best of" category: 1992. Pantera leads the charge. Sure, metal is waning by this time, but it ain't going out without a fight. And these guys are our heavyweight champions of the era.

But there were also other bands, title contenders in their own right, who were in the mix. Faith No More released Angel Dust, Dream Theater hits the scene with Images and Words (not their debut, but it might as well have been), King's X released their s/t album, and Megadeth took a bit of a commercial turn with Countdown to Extinction.

What years would you suggest?

Voting is ongoing for the best metal album, but will close o/a 6:30 a.m. EST tomorrow.

The post to end all posts ... the one poll to unite them: The Best Heavy Metal Album Ever! vote

Here it is. Your choices for Best Heavy Metal Album Ever! Vote often. Vote lots.

The Best Metal Album Ever!

Vote Happy! Vote Heavy!

Best Metal Song Ever!

... and taxes, man.It was a close fight. It was a huge list with a lot of good contenders, but one song nudged ahead to stomp on the others while they were down. That song, chosen by you, is Pantera's Cemetery Gates, off their Cowboys From Hell album.

Though there were several choices that I would have been happy with if they had won, I cetainly think that this was a worthy choice. It's a great example of metal's ballad and hardcore side. It has great guitar work and good vocals.

I remember when this first came out. It really broke the mold that most popular metal bands were setting themselves in. Everyone coming out sounded like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax or Megadeth -- or a combination thereof. Pantera proved they could be melodic and different and hard at the same time.

We wannabe guitarists were drooling over Dimebag's riffs, wondering how he did that octive pitch duel thingy at the end of the song (he used an octoplex octive pitch shifter, if you're still wondering) and no one sang like Phil.

It was the dawn of Pantera. Some of us didn't realize just how big a thing this was until Vulgar Display ... hit the shelves. I was listening to Nuclear Assault a lot at the time, hoping for something that heavy but more listener-friendly and I got it.

So, crank up your radios/MP3 devices in honor of the Best Metal Song Ever! - Cemetery Gates.

And don't forget, the nomination thread for the Best Metal Album Ever! is still open, but closes today around noon EST.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nominate again: The Best Heavy Metal Album Ever

Voting is still going on for the Best Heavy Metal Song Ever, but now -- with your appetites whetted -- it's time to start nominating your selections for the Best Ever Heavy Metal Album.

Cliff 'Em Fucking All!I think this will be a little easier than the song nomination/voting process. Rather than trying to pick a single song that best identifies Heavy Metal, we're looking for an album that does the same. However, there is one rule I'm setting in place: No compilation albums (Sabbath's We Sold Our Souls for Rock and Roll, Megadeth's Hidden Treasures, or any of those Metal Blade compilation albums that came out in the '80s), but live albums are fine. Beyond that, everything's fair game.

What I'm really looking for here are strong albums, albums that work together to become greater than the sum of its parts. There are several good metal albums out there that have one or two good songs on them. There are very few Slayer - Reign In Blood albums out there.

I've already given my first nomination there: Reign in Blood. My second should be pretty obvious also: Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power. Those are mine, what have you got for me?

So, friends new and old, put your thinking caps on and let's get to nominating! I will close nominations and open voting on or about Noon EST.

The Best Metal Song Ever VOTE!

The nominations are in. Let the voting begin! Voting will run until about 6:30 a.m. EST tomorrow.

There are 128 nominations to choose from! Thanks everyone for your submissions.

ADMIN NOTE: You only get one vote per user (sorry, stupid Sparklit not giving that crap for free). Vote wisely.

UPDATE: I changed the security on the poll. Technically, you're still only supposed to be able to vote once, but if you clear your cache and cookies, you should be able to submit another vote. Sorry for the hassle.

UPDATE MkII, New and improved, seriously: Thanks to Michelle, I've the multiple vote thing licked. You'll have to input a code every time you vote, just like at FTTW, but you can now vote 'til your heart's content.

The Best Metal Song Ever!

Choose wisely

Later today nominations will open up for the Best Heavy Metal Album Ever!

Poll ... Pot. Poll ... Pot. (sorry, couldn't help myself).

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Best Metal Song Ever! Nomination thread

Good morning Metal-ites. Today I start the reader-assisted portion of Heavy Metal Theme Week. This poll is for the Best Heavy Metal Song Ever. The song you think of whenever you think of heavy metal. When some dude flashes you the devil horn hand symbol, you think of this song. When there's a guy with a Jackson guitar and a Marshal half stack, this is the song you secretly wish he'd play.

I am going to leave nominations open at least a day, maybe longer depending on the response I get. So, get your nominations in here quickly!

The following is a short list of songs I thought of, in no particular order:

Pantera - Cemetery Gates
Pantera - Walk
Pantera - This Love
Slayer - Raining in Blood
Slayer - Epidemic
Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss
Black Sabbath - War Pigs
Black Sabbath - Children of the Grave
Black Sabbath - Sweat Leaf
Anthrax - I Am the Law
Anthrax - Caught in a Mosh
Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
Ozzy Osbourne - Mr. Crowley

And many, many more ... but you tell me.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The heaviest heavy metal

Walk on home, boy.If you had asked me a decade ago who the heaviest band in metal was, I would have unequivocally said Pantera. Even today, there is no other music that came before or after that translates as physically as Pantera.

There have been bands with badass rhythm sections. Bands that could crush you with their guitar playing. Bands where the singer was smashing you about the face with his vocals. But no other band put all this together the way Pantera did with Cowboys from Hell, and it only lasted two more albums. Vulgar Display of Power is, in my mind, the ultimate heavy heavy metal album. There is no respite. There are moments when the tempo slows, the assault lessens, but that's only so the next boot to your stomach hurts that much more. Far Beyond Driven has the same energy as Vulgar ... but the songs just aren't as catchy. By the time The Great Southern Trendkill came out, you could tell that the guys weren't gelling together like they used to. The energy wasn't there. The power and precision was gone.

I guess that's the fate of any highly volatile substance. You can only keep that stuff stable and focused for so long. After a while, it loses its stability and can explode or implode. Or lose its potency. And, over time, all those things happened to Pantera.

No single member lost their individual potency. It could be argued that Phil's drug problems caused him to lose focus, but we see ample evidence that he was able to put out good tunes with bands like Down. And the rest of the crew were still musically viable, putting out good stuff under the banner of Damageplan. The problem is that the ingredients just didn't work well together anymore.

But there was a short time -- a short six years -- where the heaviest band ever made the heaviest metal ever. Go crank up Vulgar Display of Power now and put it on the yardstick against any other metal band out there. You tell me I'm wrong. You try and tell me of a band that had the energy, the pain, the pride and the shame that Pantera had. The truth is that you can't. They don't exist.

Forever roaring on, the wars we rage unknown.However, in the last decade another band has come out that I consider awfully close to being the heaviest band in metal. For some of the same reasons as Pantera but with a completely different feel, Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society is right up there as another crushingly heavy band.

The thing with BLS is that instrumentally, all the magic is there. Zakk Wylde is certainly in the same class of guitarist as Dimebag Darrell was and Wylde has surrounded himself with other musicians who are pushing the same dose of liquid fire he is. The issue is that Zakk is no Phil Anselmo on the vox. This isn't a bad thing, but where Phil melded with the music, pushed it, was pulled by it and made us feel his pain and anguish through it, Zakk just tells us his stories.

Zakk's vox are window dressings for the music, not an integral part of it. With Phil, you can't imagine another singer doing what he did with Pantera. It wouldn't be the same. With BLS, you can imagine any number of guys fronting the band and doing as good, if not a better job.

And then there's the feeling the music gives you. Where Pantera translates into a boot to the head, Black Label translates into an alcohol-fueled joyride into the unknown. Remember all those times as a teen you got drunk and got into fights, or jumped into the mosh pit, or did some kind of stupid thing in the back or your friend's truck while you were driving down the interstate? These things you'd never do sober. Well, that BLS. It's fun as hell. It removes our inhibitions and takes us on a six-string led ride into our drunken youth.

That pounding you hear. Man, you won't have to worry about that until the morning. For now, just enjoy the ride.

And that's how we kick off Heavy Metal Week, baby. Try and touch the heavy ... Ooh, was it too hot, too hard, too heavy? Ooh, more tomorrow.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Theme week

Heavy Metal Theme Week will rule you!Starting tomorrow, I'm going to run a Heavy Metal Theme Week, here at the Pica.

Inspired by the series of fantastic punk polls at Faster Than The World, I will be having at least two, maybe three reader-assisted polls. The two polls I know I'm going to run are: Best Metal Song Ever and Best Metal Album Ever. I might run a best band, or best year for metal poll or something, but I'm not sure yet.

So, get your thinking caps on, my headbanging elite. Nomination threads will be posted Monday and Tuesday.

This boat is about to caption!

Okay, that was a lame header. Sue me.

Winners of the July 8 caption contest are:

1. Raja of the Lost Ark - Mr. Bingley

2. Though many technological advances have made their way to New Jersey, roofing isn't one of them. - Rob

3. Seeking more of an income from gambling Donald Trump sends signals to another world. - Pogue.

This week's entry:

He's a bad mother ... Shut your mouth. What? I'm just talking about Bolton.
Original Cutline:
John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations listens to reporters' questions after a Security Council meeting regarding North Korea's missile tests at UN headquarters in New York, Thursday, July 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Osamu Honda)

There must be better cutlines out there. Captions winners will be announces July 22.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Because I’m All About the Guitar: A Quality Note

If the devil's in the details, Gibson's in Hell.I have been told that anyone can play the guitar. I have known musicians who play 12 different instruments say that they could teach a monkey to play the guitar.

I have heard musicians that only play the guitar – masters of the craft – say they learn new things every day.

There was a time I wasn’t too bad at playing the guitar. But something happened. Something made me put the instrument down. Something …

… Well, me I guess. I started over-thinking the thing. How close to the fret is close enough? When are strings too old? What thickness pick is right? How hard do I hit the strings? How light is too light? And what about the whole finger-picking thing – how the hell do I do that?

It got frustrating.

But now I approach things from a far different perspective. I just play. There’s a lot of my old skill that’s missing, but I just play.

However, there’s something about getting that elusive, quality note. The one that sings, ring-a-ding ding. You can find it.

The first thing you gotta do, is get yourself into a music store. Musician’s Friend and Music 1-2-3 are great, but caveat emptor man. You’re not going to know what you’re getting unless you play it. And you’re not going to get that until you put the six-string in your own hands.

Once you’re at the store, find your beast. It really doesn’t matter what kind of shape you like. Just pick one. Every kind of body shape out there has quality instruments. Pick and play. And, even though they may be the same model, one guitar will sound different from another. One Fender Strat doesn’t necessarily equal the other.

Get your hands on the thing and play it. Don’t plug it in, just play. See, that’s where music stores play you. You pick up that shiny $800-$1,000 guitar and you plug it into that Randall half stack they have warmed up and ready. And you hit the chord and start ripping everything you got. And you will rip everything you got because there’s other people in the store and you have to show yourself as alpha as possible. Even if it sucks. Doesn’t matter. Smash through it. Be butch. Fuck posers. Hector stomp!

Oh … anyway, play acoustic. Preferably somewhere quiet. A quiet place, playing your pick o’ guitar quietly, is the only way you’re really going to tell if that thing can sing. Pluck note individually. Play chords. Let them resonate. Play slow. Listen close. Don’t hurry … you’re just getting to know the thing, you gotta get some of the basics out of the way first. You’re putting your hands all over it for the first time. Show due respect.

Now you can tell. Does it sing on every fret? Are there any dead spots? How does it sound when you chord it? If something’s wrong, is it due to the setup? Answer these questions and you’ll narrow down your choices for your guitar (next or new).

But there’s something beyond this you have to realize. Beyond your choice of your guitar – and that has a lot to do with who you are as a guitarist – much of what will characterize you as a player is where you choose to play your notes and chords.

That is, on any guitar, with the exception of the first five notes on the lowest string and the top five notes on the highest (low E and high E on a normally tuned, six-string guitar), there are multiple places to play any note. Your A string is the same as the fifth fret on your low E. Even though they’re the same note, you’ll notice that the two don’t sound the same. That’s because of the tone.

Stringed instruments that you fret are fairly unique in that you have multiple choices about where to fret a note or a chord. Where you decide to fret it makes a world of difference in your sound. It’ll color your repertoire.

I could talk about this difference on and on, but I can think of no better object lesson than from the Stevie Ray Vaughan video below:

At around 1 minute into the video, he describes the difference between Freddie King and Eric Clapton’s versions of Hideaway. You can tell the difference in tone. Vaughan calls it a small difference, but I maintain that it’s larger than that. That’s one of the ways you tell the difference between guitarists – their choice of fretting. You also tell by where they chord and if they place their notes closer to the top or bottom of the beat.

It’s easy to over-think something you’re interested in being good at. But, with guitar, there’s no such thing as perfect. But there’s plenty of quality. Just play, man.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The doctor

No, not that Doctor, rather an orthopedic doctor.

After I went to the chiropracter, I was referred to this guy. This is the earliest appointment I could get. Two freaking weeks after seeing the chiropracter. Glad I wasn't in any serious pain.

I feel similar to Kraut about doctors: I'm glad they exist, but I hate going to see them.

If all goes well, this doctor won't be too condescending when he says to lose weight and exercise more.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

OK, so we're not hell, but we're damn sure a rung on the way there

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That whole "Feels like 98 degrees" bit. BS. Feels like 102, easy. Damn sticky heat.

And you'd think that whole "mostly cloudy" thing would be of some relief. Nope, it's just messing with your head. Like the clouds are saying: "Ha! You think the shade will help you? Noooooooo ... you will melt just as easy here."

We're gonna rock down to a military neighborhood, and then we'll get our ass kicked

I got my first real boom box when in 1986. I was psyched. Previously, I had been listening to music on a crappy clock radio and crappier single-speaker tape deck. Sometimes, when both my parents were gone, I could use my dad's stereo and listen to music the way it was meant to be listened. But I finally had my own deck. My 12-year-old self was in heaven.

The problem was that I didn't have much music to listen to. I'd record songs off the classic rock radio station. I joined that damn monkey-on-the-back Columbia music 12 tapes for the price of one, bend over here it comes program. But 12 tapes only kept you going for so long. 12 tapes from Columbia house. 12 tapes from their crappy collection. I did get AC/DC's Who Made Who. And I got the Beastie Boy's Licensed to Ill. Funny that I can't remember what any of the others were.

But I was proud of the music I had. I would take my box, loaded up with what had to be 20 D-size batteries, and crank up my AC/DC while walking around my quaint little military subdivision.

And I learned a hard lesson. In an age where people who carried around boom boxes were cranking out stuff by Run DMC and the Beastie Boys (which I owned and probably should have carried also), walking around blasting "Who made who, who made you ..." was not exactly healthy.

It took only one incident for me to reconsider my new pastime. Walking to the small park in our subdivision, cranking out my normal stuff, I was approached by some guys who were obviously not pleased with what I was playing. They decided that it would be best to mess with me a little.

I was a naive kid. And being naive, I thought that if someone messed with you, you could mess back. And, further, that if it escalated and you got into a fight, you'd only fight one person, or one person at a time at least.

At least they only hit me and not my boom box.

Fortunately isn't wasn't long after that that I met a guy who lived just down the street from me. We shared a lot of musical interests and through him I discovered Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden and many others. Through him I met other guys who introduced me to The Misfits and The Sex Pistols and the punk music that became my passion.

We didn't have the resources that kids in California and New York had. We didn't have the internet. We didn't have clubs. Discovering new music took meeting somebody who already knew about it.

Thank God, 'cause after that ass kicking I might have gone country.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I have nothing

Busy day. Much stuff to do. So I'm posting lightly.

I've posted this before, but it bears repeating: This is super cool. Visit the island of guitar.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A taste of my Monday

I edit a newspaper. Poorly. But still.

It's a weekly and not hard. I don't stress too much. Except Mondays and Tuesdays. Mondays and Tuesdays I do all the work needed for the paper. On Mondays I have to edit stories. Which means I have to deal with submissions from our contributors.

Submitters send us stories with sentences like this:

Procrastination should not be wrongfully added to a safety minded approach to engaging a tough decision.

What the hell does that even mean? Why, oh why, when people start writing for "publication" do they think they have to attempt to prove they know a bunch of $1.50 words, which actually winds up proving they can't write?

If that's not enough for you, here's the next line:

Life makes the living of it hard at times, yet we must proceed.

I have no comment for this. Except that the author obviously copied it from a poorly translated book of Mexican philosophy.

Then there's this:

If I am seriously facing a life and death scenario, patience may be needed on all fronts. If I am making a leadership decision that will impact more than cronies and overpaid minions, waiting is the order of the day.

Quick, it's a life or death situation! Round up the patience! It's needed up front!

All this from a chaplain. What are our colleges teaching?

Hope you enjoyed the taste of my Monday.

At someone else's whim

I started my last class of the summer Friday evening. For those of you who don't know, I'm finishing my degree and am enrolled in an excellerated program. During normal semesters, each class is six weeks long; over the summer, they are three weeks long.

Most instructors take into consideration the extra excelleration that a summer class brings. This new instructor does not.

So, while I'm doing my best to make the projects fun, I have a lot to do.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Caption this!

Caption winners from July 1:

1. While Koizumi prepares for White House karaoke night and his Elvis imitation, President Bush wonders if Tony Blair and the boys will be doing their Beatles set. - KG from Cagey Mind.

2. Don't masquerade on a blithe Kincaid, oh no! - Nightfly

3. My future's so bright I gotta wear shades. - Ken from It Comes in Pints?

Thank you for your entries, folks. Remember, the more captions I get, the fewer get picked.

This week's entry:

Somebody. Somebody put something in my drink.

Original cutline: The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

Now, I KNOW there's a better cutline out there than that.

Winners will be announced next Saturday, July 15.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Because I'm All About the Guitar: 7/7 We Remember Edition

Thank you for all you've given us, Britain. We love you guys.

And for the rest of us Yanks, remember that some of the best guitarists of the past 40 years have come out of Britain.

Eric Clapton (and Mark Knopfler)

Mark Knopfler

John McLaughlin

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Thank you Great Britain.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the present, Mr. Cullen

Finally. FINALLY.

I have DVR. I can pause live TV. I can rewind. I can record and watch at my leisure. I can skip commercials.

Sounds trite, no?

Put the remote in your hand. Feel the power surge. You are the master of the entertainment console, nay, a ... god of entertainment. Those silly channels have no power over you now. You don't like what they're saying, but still want to watch the show? Pause, skip. Commericials can sell you nothing now!


Hmm. Okay, I get carried away.

So, the guy comes to hook up my dish. I have had satellite in the past and have hooked them up myself, but I wasn't going to turn down free installation. He was three hours late getting to me. Let's analyze three hours late. The delivery time from the get go isn't a set time, but rather a block of time. "Oh, the intaller will be there sometime between noon and 5 p.m."

Noon and 5 p.m. That's a hunk of time. And then the dude doesn't show up until 8 p.m. Now, I did finally get a call at 5 p.m. telling me that he wasn't going to be here until 6 p.m., and that was nice. And then I got a call from the installer himself telling me it was going to be another hour on top of that. Where the other hour came from I can only assume is some bizzare and Lovecraftian trick of time where installers warp the very fabric of reality, adding precious minutes to their travels.

Had the dude looked like Nyarlathotep, I probably wouldn't have held a grudge.

I did find my new favorite channel though. The Documentary Channel. Lucky for me that last night, just as I was getting ready to call it a night, they aired a documentary on the electric guitar.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Independence Day revisited

Newspaper of awesomeRevisiting my photo post the other day, this is what the photos look like in the context of the newspaper page.

I've always been a decent photographer and a pretty good newspaper writer, but my real skill is layout and design. I don't plan things out like a lot of editors. Rather, I prioritize right before I lay out. Some might call this foolish, but I've met very few folks who could put together a newspaper as quickly as I can.

Happy birthday, Mr. President

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting(No, I'm not going to dress up like Marilyn. Not that you'd want me to.)

Happy 60th, President Bush.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


So ... yeah. Not much going on here.

The most exciting thing that has happened here is that the pool right behind my apartment finally opened. Oh happy day.

Our complex has two pools. One has been open for about two months. But this one is square behind my apartment. I can walk out my back door and be in the pool in 30 seconds. It's like having our own pool. Nice.

Next up on the ol' excitement roster would be us breaking down and ordering Dish Network. While having the extra channels is somewhat enticing, the real selling point was DVR. Finally want to join the rest of the 21st century and be able to record some programs while watching something else.

So, come on, you guys have got to be doing something more interesting.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Photoblogging, Independence style

On Friday, the base here held our annual Independence Day celebration. Allowing Marines, Base Employees, etc. to take time off for the holidays. Marines got the time off, we civilian employees had to take leave if we wanted today off. Obviously I did not.

Anyway, I took photos Friday since the family wanted to go. Here are some of my favorite (non-family) shots:

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis is probably my favorite of the batch. I love how the Marine in the forground is standing there explaining stuff while the action is going on in the background. You can tell what's happening: the NCO is explaining how military working dogs do their business, but you could attribute a lot of different things to this photo -- "Marine in foreground oblivious as dog attacks innocent civilian" ... or something like that. But no, just a military working dog demonstration, but I can think of a couple of people I'd like to see on the receiving end of that demo.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHow awesome is this? This little girl (6 years old) climbed higher than three-quarters of all the other participants. She really showed everyone else how to do it. She went up a good two more "rocks" after I took this shot.

The funny thing, she's so small and light that when she was done, she wasn't heavy enough for the automatic resistance to let her down gradually. She just hung there. One of the attendants had to climb up and grab her foot.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingShot of our band playing. At 8:45 p.m.ish. 1/15th of a second shutter. Handheld. Master of awesome.

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Okay, that whole "master of awesome thing" from the last photo, not so much on this one. I've never really taken shots of fireworks before and this was highly experimental on my part. I mean, for a half-hour show, you don't have a lot of time to play. You can't really check what you're doing (the freakin' LCD isn't very accurate you know). What I wanted, was a good shot of a firework in the sky with a shot of the family that was sitting in front of me. I kinda got it in this shot, but not to my satisfaction. I had pulled back my flash some earlier 'cause I was shooting my family up close. I forgot to reset it and it wasn't firing as powerfully as it should have. Oh well. The shot on the left is unmodified, the one on the right is "auto leveled" through Photoshop.

Well, that's it for me. Taking the afternoon off. Hope you guys have a great day and a fantastic Fourth!

Buckets full of awesome

My little boy turns one year old in 12 days. His favorite music right now is Motorhead, the Ramones and anything by Elmo.

I defy you to tell me anything more awesome than that.

Updated tune-age

Uzz has updated his Uzztunes. Make sure to stop by, check 'em out, and leave your own list or comment. His theme this go 'round is love songs.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Caption Away

Contest winners from 6-27:

1. In order to protect against Global Warming environmentalists recommend a natural coating of SPF-50. - DirtCrashr

2. Al Gore and the Environauts take the gold in kickball at the first-ever Swampalympics. - Nightfly

3. Say what you will, but at least they could beat Ghana. - KG

Congratulations guys. Thanks for the entries. Here's this week's photo:

Koizumi, man or legend?

The original caption:
President Bush smiles in the background as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi puts on a pair of sunglasses after taking a tour of Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., on Friday. Koizumi is a lifelong fan of the late rock and roll legend Elvis Presley. Photo by The Associated Press

Surely there's a King-o-riffic cutline out there.

Winners will be announced next Saturday (7-8).