Sunday, October 19, 2014

Splitting the Ticket

Sadly, this post has nothing to do with politics, a great love of mine, but rather the costs associated with live entertainment. 

This year, I've attended 16 shows, which is 14 more than I went to last year and there are still two months, three Slackers shows and a Damned show to go.  Now, generally, I purchase tickets in advance.  The reason being, it serves to encourage me to go to events and on occasion, such as the Slackers boat show or Slackers secret show, gives me access to sold out events. 

When I went to purchase tickets to the Damned from Ticketmaster, it was going to cost just north of $100 to purchase two tickets from them for the Stone Pony.  Having business in Asbury Park a month ago, I purchased them directly from the Stone Pony, total cost, $55 for two tickets.  It was like getting a ticket for free by going to the box office.  Since it was Ticketmaster, I assumed it was an isolated event, since we are all used to overpaying on Ticketmaster fees.

However, today, I purchased a ticket to Skanksgiving at the Starland Ballroom.  I'm quite excited to see the Slackers for the 20th time, Westbound Train for the first time and the Pietasters for the sixth time.  Even though I live close to Sayreville, I've never been to the Starland Ballroom and sadly, just haven't found the time and motivation to drive to Sayreville to get a ticket ahead of time, since unlike Asbury Park, there is no reason anyone would want to go Sayreville for the day. 

So, I broke down and bought a ticket today.

The ticket itself was $15.95, which represents less than half the associated costs with going to the event.  On the other side, there is $1.05 for tax, an unavoidable reality.  A $7.50 charge to use, which feels more expensive than Ticketmaster, probably because it is just under 50% of the total ticket price.  But since I wanted a ticket, I needed to pay an additional $5.00 for a ticket to be mailed to me, which was actually cheaper than Will Call, which was $6.00.  Six dollars to write a name on a piece of paper.  That's law firm or consulting pricing, not real world pricing.  (Admittedly, in consulting pricing that would be a good deal.)  So, we are at $13.55 in fees on the ticket.  Which if there was reliable public transportation to the area (there isn't, since my train station is closest to the event, which they recommend a cab from), would be the end of it. 

Instead, there is now parking, which is either $7.00 to use their lot or if I was mentally challenged, $18.69 for Star Parking, which gives me a slightly closer parking spot and the ability to be first in line.  It's a six band ska show.  I have night terrors about sitting through six bands at my age.  Four, with Mephiskapheles, might be a bridge too far in terms of time.  But I don't need to be first for that. 

So, adding in parking, we are up to $20.55 in fees versus $15.95 in actual ticket price, which seems sadly absurd and likely has a strong, long term impact on live events, when more of the consumer's money goes to other fees, rather than artists.  Someday, when I'm very old, instead of regular old, I will complain more about how economy shifts money around to at best, create jobs, but more likely, unjustly enriches people who provide no value, aside from taking advantage of their monopolistic position, but in the interim, I'll go to the show and realize I paid $36.00 for a $15.95 ticket. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Parade Marches Between a Man and His Sandwich

I hate holidays.  More importantly, I hate holidays where I am at work, while other people are enjoying themselves or keeping me from important business, while I am stuck at work. Today was one of those holidays.

While some people like the celebration of the subjugation of indigenous people, other people want to be able to cross 5th Avenue to get a sandwich.  Having some time in my day for a decent lunch, I decided to make the trek across town to DiSuso's Sandwich Society.  I greatly wanted one of their fine Italian sandwiches and started the walk.  Passing 6th Avenue, I see there are barricades, but walking around in New York, you come to expect barricades randomly placed.  Sometimes, there is an obvious reason, sometimes, there is just a barricade across the road. 

One somewhat empty block passes, when I see it, a parade.  A Columbus Day parade.  The New York City Columbus Day parade.  Deciding that panic is over rated, I begin the walk downtown.  Going one block, I see what I think will be an opening.  There are people looking to join into the parade, which might mean one block to salvation and sandwiches.  Crossing in front of the parade people I get to the next barricade. 

At the barricade, I see it, floats, floats and groups of Italian men dancing and parading around in feathered hats as far as the eye can see.  In a false irony, an Italian American parade is preventing me from having an Italian American sandwich for lunch.  Crestfallen, I need to work my way back across town and eat something vaguely resembling a quesadilla from Cinnamon Snail, distraught that I would not be eating a fine Italian sandwich. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fixing My Record Player

The downside of starting a record collection is maintaining a record player.  In four months, I'm actually on my second record player.  I originally purchased a Crosley Cruiser my first day as a record owner.  The Cruiser lasted about a month, before I started to become paranoid.  Well, paranoid might be the wrong word, since my records started to skip or sound scratched.  With my tastes in records, this was quite the problem. 

So, I literally spent an entire evening researching what to buy and ended up purchasing an Audio Technica AT-LP-120-USB, after coming to the conclusion that A) I would probably struggle to find a good used record player that I trusted and B) would also need to get a receiver and cabinet, rather than just buying a record player, some speakers and setting up shop on my dining room table.  So, after some difficulties with UPS that I won't recount, but it is suffice to say, they are a carrier whom I hope to never do business with again, I was able to set up a real record player that Saturday. 

Of course, unlike the Crosley, the Audio Technica required some knowledge of setting up a tone arm and anti-skate, neither of which was really in my wheelhouse.  After some struggle, I was able to do so, getting the tone arm to balance correctly, neither grooving my records nor merrily skipping along and not playing.  This managed to work for the most part for two months. 

So, last night, I'm listening to my brand new live Anti-Nowhere League which I picked up, when I hear that sound.  The sound is the scratchy whine of the needle shooting all the way across my record and settling into the paper covering the center of the record.  A slight correction to the anti-skate knob made it better.  Then, two songs passed and it went straight to the paper again. 

Turning off the record player, I waited a day, since I had other issues to handle today and yesterday, I was just not getting it right.  Realizing this is not going to work, I sit down and start the process of fixing the record player.  First, I make sure the tone arm is balanced, which miraculously it is, since that always takes fifteen minutes, moving it forward, moving it back, bouncing it off the mat, watching it fly away across the record.

This meant it was record test and anti-skate time.  Fortunately, I bought a poor copy of Let There Be Rock by AC/DC for a dollar yesterday and began to play it.  The needle moved inward way too fast.  So, I made a small adjustment and it seems to be working, but not after spending 15 minutes not playing records, so I could play records.  There is a slight cruelness to the whole concept, as I all I want it to do is stay setup.

Knowing the way life works, tomorrow, the needle will be moving outward instead of inward, leading to odd sounds and more tinkering. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Scariest Store on Earth

After going to a record show today, I meandered up to my old haunts in Bergen County, primarily to get pizza from Angelo's in Maywood and ice cream from Bischoff's in Teaneck.  Despite spending over two hours sifting through what seemed like endless boxes of records, I thought, perhaps I could look at just a few more. 

Generally, New Jersey record stores can be sorted into two categories.  Category 1 is Vintage Vinyl and the Princeton Record Exchange, which are both excellent record stores with great selection and perfectly acceptable prices.  Category 2 is basically every other store I've been too, with stores usually marked by high prices and poor selection.  (I'll exclude the new Spina Records from this analysis, since they are both within walking distance of my apartment and actually have records I would willingly and have willingly purchased in the past.)

However, today, I met a store which defies categorization today.  Today was my first trip to EZ2Collect in Fair Lawn.  I didn't know much about the store before going there, though I did have some trouble finding it, first by being on the wrong side of Broadway in Fair Lawn, which is nigh uncrossable, then by having to walk around the entire lighting store to find the store is actually the basement of the building.  Not in the basement, mind you, but the entire basement. 

Not prepared for what terrors lurk within, I enter and see items everywhere.  Boxes and bins and stacks of records, CDs, cassettes and various video entertainment was piled everywhere.  I take a slow, measured walk into the space and decide to look in the first box I find, which is filled with represses of various records, primarily punk rock records at that.  Quite the find given the size of the store.  I leaf through the records and find nothing I want at a reasonable price, since most of the records on my list were definitely available for less than $29.99 elsewhere.  But new records are seldom the lifeblood of a record store, so I thought perhaps I would find better prices elsewhere in the store. 

So, as I move down the first row, the gentleman I presume to be the owner introduces himself and asks if I would like some assistance, which I politely decline, though he informs me there are another 100,000 records in the back.  I took a peak in the back and can confirm this seems like an accurate, if not small number, but continued searching the store.  I eventually found a small section of ska and reggae CDs in the way back of the store, but couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger on a Skatalites CD.  After passing a box of Christmas records, a box of country records and various boxes which I would define as rock, I make my way back to the front of the store and find some various rock records with an organizational system.  These were at least alphabetical by letter and I made it all the way through B, finding a copy of Master of Reality, which was high in price and was also not allowed to look at.  I poked around a bit more in these stacks, but really just began walking around the store, trying to look for things.

In reality, I was just overwhelmed by the amount of merchandise crammed into the store.  I bet there were some truly great items I would want hidden away in some nook, cranny or pile, but I lacked the insight to gleam where they might be, other than the fairly expensive copies of the Wrestling Album on display.  It was just too much chaos to even begin to formulate an effective plan and after about 30 minutes of not finding anything, I slowly worked my way out the back door, never more frightened of a store or the organizational system which kept it together. 

Perhaps someday, I will pack a lunch and a soda, and prepare to spend the entire day either attempting to find some records I want or to see a sailboat.  I suspect I might see the sailboat first, since I would have an idea of where to look.  However, if no fear lurks in your heart, you should definitely go to EZ2Collect and see what you can find, for you, as a braver soul than I, deserve whatever you find.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Old School Game Show: A Winner is You

Growing up, I watched more than my fair share of television, being part of the earliest generation of children raised mostly indoors.  One of my favorite television genres was always game shows, whether they be Sale of the Century, Card Sharks, Classic Concentration, Hot Potato, Joker's Wild, you name it, I watched it.  As a child, I used to envision myself being a contestant on one of these game shows, running roughshod over the competition.  However, not being especially telegenic and the rapid decline of game shows in the 1990s, the odds of my ever appearing on a game show were terribly slim, leaving this childhood dream left in the dustbin of time, incomplete.

However, I was visiting friends in Boston this weekend, where I was invited to go to the Old School Game Show, which blends participatory theater, sketch comedy, and dance routines, with a hefty dose of 70s through 90s nostalgia, game show and otherwise.  After the slightest of arm twisting about staying an extra day in Boston, I agreed to go, getting to live the game show studio audience experience from the comfort of an intimate downstairs theatre.  Not having an advanced ticket, I manage to navigate the twisty streets of Somerville to find the box office, purchase a day of ticket and return 20 minutes later with my friends, one of whom was very committed to the concept of participatory dress-up to the inclusion of a fake mustache, whereas I went with a natural beard.

We take seats on the right half of the stage in the second row, where I spend most of the night trying to not lose my name tag in the vain hope that I would be called up.  The stage was already set up, with a live band in the back of the stage, a central podium complete with buzzers and shag carpet in front of the band and two large panels, which held the teams Family Feud style with sidewalls of shag carpet and the words Old School emblazoned on the front in orange and blue, using what I believe to be old school Price is Right font.

Finally, the band takes their place at the back and opens with the Hawaii Five-O theme followed by the long version of the A-Team theme, which surprisingly neither my friends nor the stranger to my right knew by sound.  I mean, the A-Team theme is iconic and quite possibly one of the best parts of the show, so I would expect the audience to get it...but they didn't.  This is followed by an opening sequence which includes equal parts dance, including some incredibly 1980s legwarmers, girls dressed as 80s movie guerrillas, the host dressed as Rambo and a bloodpack.  All of which worked seamlessly together to provide both narrative structure and entertainment.

Finally, contestants were called upstage.  Like I did for most of the night, I strained to make sure I heard each name correctly, ready to leap up and run to the stage, yet my name was not called.  Teams of four were assembled and the first game was played, which was 33s played at 78 speed, requiring you to identify the action movie themed song.  Both teams were not very good at this game and one correct answer out of four questions was provided, but this was sufficient for their team to move. 

As the night progressed, the flow of events was skit, game show event, skit, game show event.  Most of the games were just the right mixture of quirky and old school game show as you would expect.  About halfway through the night, one of my friends was called up on stage, where he missed his opportunity to advance toward victory.

As the next to last round of the night started, I anxiously awaited to hear my name, but expected nothing.  I had a good time being a studio audience guest and that was good enough.  Of course, this being a great story, the second name called was my own.  Like a fat woman in a mu mu, I screamed, yelled, whooped, and hollered my way to the stage like no other contestant had, dropping my poor name tag on the way.

For this round, we had to guess the bad joke that followed the movie scene.  My team scored early as the guy in front of me won his question, leading me to put my hand on the shag carpeted buzzer stand.  The clip was from Eraser, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, a movie I had never seen.  Essentially, Arnold shoots an alligator.  I move to buzz in, but hesitate, allowing my opponent to choose in a while crocodile, which was wrong.  Steeling up my meager courage, I guess "You're Luggage." and get it right, giving our team a commanding two-nil lead.  When both my team and the other team failed to answer the next question, I was aware we had mathematically advanced to the finals...where we would face the same team again, murderer's row of alternate trivia, who stayed up forever.

Here, the goal was to eliminate people from the other team until there was one person left from each side.  We needed to guess the character's catch phrase.  The gentleman in front of me did his job and I squared off against the same person yet again.  When Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up as the Terminator on the screen, there was nary a hint of hesitation on my part and I beat my foe to the buzzer, screaming out, "I'll be back!" advancing further.  The next person on my team was eliminated and both people in the fourth spot on the team were eliminated for not knowing Bruce Willis's catch phrase from DieHard.  So, it came down to myself and the gentleman in front of me.  We both sadly blanked on Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, giving me a window of reprieve and a second shot at the finale.  This time, it was something that I knew, won the battle of the buzzer and answered with great joy, advancing to the finals.

Here, we were in the lightning round, something I've waited to do for my whole life, answering a series of questions in rapid fire display.  My opponent and I shook hands, with the winner receiving $100 and the loser, one of those fancy old-time video game systems that allows you to play NES and Sega games.  The prize was secondary to me, but winning, the pure, unadulterated joy of winning, was all that matter. 

My opponent went first, selecting a fine 80's record which revealed the category of artists for songs related to action movies.  I stared him down, because really that's what I do when I'm overflowing with tension and nerves, since social grace is not my forte.  He starts slow and tanks...he got three questions out of 12 right.  He failed Happiness is a Warm Gun.  He brought sadness to my heart, since I knew pretty much any category was going to be a slamdunk win if I only needed to guess four right in 30 seconds.

So, I scream out Miami Vice, which flipped over the category of action movie stars.  I was handed the stick microphone like game show hosts in the 70s held and braced myself, locking out all other distraction than my overwhelming desire to win and obtaining the right answers to the questions.  And I went gangbusters, hitting Jason Statham as the star of Crash right out of the gate, passing four with about 17 seconds to spare, finishing with a big victory total of eight. 

Admittedly, had I not won at this juncture, I would never have been able to live down the failure of losing and would be taunted by Sandra Bullock as the star of Speed as one of my guesses.  But I won.  Fist pumping, bloody jumpsuit guy hugging, giant novelty checking holding won.  I almost collapsed, but stayed afloat with my tremendous joy as one of my life's dreams came true.  I won a game show, while the final dance routing was completed around me.

If you live in Boston, go to Old School Game Show.  It's an amazing time on every level and led to one of the best days of my life, since for once, I was the big winner. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hub City Stompers: Three Times, Eight Days

In somewhat less than a two week period, I managed to find time to sneak in seven shows in the Northeast across three states.  The band I saw the most times was the Hub City Stompers, who I must admit I had never seen before, despite being a lifelong resident of New Jersey and having gone to more than my fair share of ska shows in New York City.  Actually, at the Big Apple Stomp was the first and only time I saw Inspecter 7.  By all rights, I should have been a fan earlier, either due to connections or access, but Radical Records never really hit me the way Moon Ska did and their track's position on Oi/Skampiliation Volume 1 did not lend itself to more review by me as it is between Ray Gun Sally by the Slackers and Rudy Don't Fear by the Insteps, which I always forwarded to, given how absolutely mindblowingly good the Insteps were. 

So, more armed with knowledge of their music, I planned to see them in Poughkeepsie, since they were opening for Pilfers, who I would definitely drive two hours for without question and then last Friday at Asbury Lanes.  The Friday before, I was sitting around my apartment with little to do and said, screw it, let's go to Dingbatz for their first show back.  Earlier in the day, I had familiarized myself with their sound with some of their music on Spotify.  I actually thought Dirty Jersey was a very good CD and when I arrived purchased the CD from the merchandise table, so I could listen to it in my car and without commercial interruption. 

As an aside, I am a big fan of the merchandise table.  It allows me, the consumer, an opportunity to provide direct, material support to the bands whose music I enjoy.  Generally, I spend less on a CD than I used to spend on lunch when I worked in Jersey City, unless it is the Slackers merchandise table, where I just buy everything I don't own.  But it allows me to make that direct impact, which is why I always go over the merchandise table and see if there is something I don't own or want.  Over the course of three shows, I purchased Dirty Jersey, Mass Appeal, Baa Baa Black Sheep and a Hub City Stompers T-Shirt, even though I don't actually wear T-Shirts outside of my apartment.  But again, that isn't the point.  If I want to be able to go to more Hub City Stompers or Slackers or Pilfers or Sammy Kay shows in the future, then I should buy merchandise for them, to make what they do financially viable for them to allow me to have fun.  As a random point, I was actually disappointed the Copacetics didn't have a CD in Rhode Island for me to buy, since I couldn't support them directly that night. 

As to the Hub City Stompers, they put on three great shows in eight days.  Each show was different, which is harder to do when you have a catalog of 30 songs instead of 150 songs like the Slackers.  Their sound is somewhat hard for me to describe.  There are definitely ska punk elements found in the music, but the not the lyrical sound of the band, which thanks to Rev Sinister takes on more of a toaster feel.  To draw an analogy, I have to move toward the Pilfers, but with a more fun, sarcastic take on their sound. 

To be polite, their lyrics definitely push boundaries and think if you don't have a good sense of humor, might be inadvertently construed as offensive.  But the lyrics are also exceptionally clever, which is very surprising from ska bands, who are notorious for thinking they are far more clever than they actually are.  But here, topics are pushed and pulled in ways you don't expect and usually in an enjoyable way.  Their horn work is very good as well, which is critical for a ska band.  It's not the subtle, intricate work of the Slackers, but it is a full on bombast designed to complement the punk and oi overtones of many of their songs. 

And their stage show is great.  Rev Sinister and Jenny Whiskey have great stage presence and chemistry together, doing bits together in perfect time.  The rest of the band plays strong and has just enough personality to not be completely overshadowed by the front of the stage.  Admittedly, they are one of those bands I could see three times in eight days and would definitely want to see again.  If I still believed in regret for what I did or did not do with my life in the past, I would regret not getting into the Hub City Stompers sooner, but I can only atone for that by going to more shows while they are in the area. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Look, My Fantasy Premier League Team is Famous!

For the last four years, I've played Fantasy Premier League, after we were introduced to soccer through a former co-worker who was a big fan for many years during World Cup 2010.  He felt we needed to have a league where we would pick players and jaw at each other for 38 gameweeks to get us to watch soccer.  Well, it worked, because four years ago, I never watched soccer, but now it is by far my favorite sport and really the only sport I go out of my way to watch on television. 

Now, in our work league, I am the two-time defending champion after a bad run my first season while I got an understanding of the rules of Fantasy Premier League understood.  I'm also nursing a 35 point lead with eight gameweeks to go and am very excited to be the three-time defending champion in the league, because bragging rights beat everything else in life and lording over people you know in a meaningless competition is one of life's great joys. 

This year, I broke down and sprung the $15 to join the Fantasy Football Scout in order to maintain my edge and win three years in a row.  Sometimes, you just need some additional OPTA statistics, sortable tables and members only articles to enhance your experience.  One of the benefits of being a member was being able to join the Members Cup this year, as a member of the site. 

Well, last week, I strategically played my wild card in advance of a pending double gameweek, where certain teams will play twice, allowing me to get to 22 games played instead of 11.  Having drafted a new team without penalty, I posted an excellent score, which ranked me 12,100 out of over 3,500,000 teams.  In doing so, my team was listed in the Members Cup article this week, as my team was the joint highest scoring team in the league.  I shouldn't enjoy this small piece of insignificant fame as much as I do, but I really do enjoy seeing my team or more correctly my user name of Idiottax in lights...or at least bolded with a hyperlink. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Which That Hissing Sound Truly Was Fire Or How Not to Cook Your Corned Beef

Yesterday, the local supermarket, not requiring the effort of operating a motorized vehicle was out of corned beef, almost as an affront to the eight Irish residents in this town.  So, I was forced to wait to eat corned beef until after St. Patrick's Day, which admittedly is about the only non-racist part of the holiday. 

But today, the grocery store requiring motorized transport was full of corned beefs, mostly by virtue of not being in a specialized community.  So, I purchased a corned beef and headed over to the local liquor store to purchase a Guinness, because everyone who knows how to boil cow flesh in a pot knows you need pickling spice and Guinness to make it taste great. 

I arrive home, put the corned beef in the bottom of the pot, then reach into the blood filled bag to fish out the pickling spice, which was taped on the inside of the bag.  After a nice rinse for myself and the pickling spice, I coat the piece of beef with spice and add water to cover the meat.  After doing so, I then put 22 ounces of Guinness in the pot and put it on the stove for the boiling process.  I figured after 20 or so minutes, I could reduce the heat to simmer and cook until an hour after I get bored.

Pot on stove, I return to my couch to watch Chelsea and Galatasaray.  The volume on the television was not especially loud, since I have neighbors and am surprisingly not hearing impaired.  After about 15 or so minutes, I hear this hissing sound.  I look over at the heater and see nothing, but wisely decide to mute the television.  The hissing sound was fairly loud, so I walk into the kitchen and see a pot just about to be covered in flames.  Big, red, scary flames like you would paint on a car.

So, I casually walk over to the stove and turn off the gas.  Flames miraculously subside, decreasing the likelihood my apartment was about to burst into a fireball.  I put on some oven mitts and decide to move the corned beef from the stove.  Underneath was a pool of brownish liquid where the corned beef boiled over and was clearly made of previously burning Guinness and water.  So, I take some paper towels and slowly sop up all of the liquid.  Seeing the pot was dry from not springing a leak, I put it on the burners on the other side of the stove on a lower flame in the hope of finishing my dinner without starting a fire.

So, now my apartment smells like someone was burning a Guinness, which is surprisingly more pleasant than one would expect and I learned a valuable lesson, check your corned beef after ten minutes, since Guinness burns.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Slackers at 89 North: Not At All Like Chelsmford Prison

While I had high hopes for the show, I had low hopes for Long Island.  Aside from driving the endless highways reminiscent of Connecticut, 89 North might be the nicest place I ever see a ska show.  Patchogue is a town on the rise, full of antique stores, theatres and mediocre pizza, like many of the nicer towns I've encountered in New Jersey.  And the club was immaculate, with a huge stage, two bars, plenty of room to have a good crowd and great acoustics.  So, my hopes for Long Island, aside from paying $15 to enter Staten Island from the rest of New York, were well met. 

When I arrived at the show, the opening act was on stage.  I can neither tell you whether the band was good or not, because their style, with a white guy looking like a rapper and someone with samples prominently involved did little for me, but their keyboard player was very attractive, which is the nicest thing I can say about their work. 

With an early start, I was excited that I might get home by midnight after being out until 5 AM driving home from Rhode Island the night before.  With a big stage, I was once again able to get right to the front of the stage, by Vic's organ and prepared for a second set of the Slackers in a 24 hour period.  It was almost like going to a boat show, except I replaced my utter hatred of watercraft with 600 miles of driving...a fair trade in my book. 

I was also glad I went to see the Slackers in Rhode Island the night before.  As they always change sets, they did not have Sarah or And I Wonder? on the set list for the night.  But Married Girl was added for Sunday night's show and Married Girl never disappoints.  In fact, when the Slackers started off Married Girl, Vic decided he didn't want to play the song and took advantage of being in Long Island to play a few bars of Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, much to the chagrin of the rest of the band.  The band then segued right into Married Girl, which was excellent as always. 

The band also played a fair number of rarities.  I mean, they played Schooling the Youth, which is on The Slackers and Friends, which almost never gets anything off it played live, but that is the joy of tri-state area shows, you get a mix of songs you always want to hear, like Wasted Days, Have the Time and Runaway and you get deep, deep cuts, because there is a portion of the fan base that goes to more Slackers shows than my sixteen times.

During Runaway, Vic finished the lyrics to Scenes from an Italian Restaurant and I can say it is by far the best cover of a Billy Joel song I've ever heard.  However, during the encores, my request for What Went Wrong was shutdown by Glen Pine, but I assume that was solely due to my failing to provide my lyric from the audience the previous night, which is better than any other narrative I can cobble together.  They played Self-Medication instead, which I think I've heard once or twice before live, so I can live with that as well.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Slackers at Manchester 65: The Best Reason to Drive 200 Miles Each Way

The Slackers are my favorite band.  Last night, despite living in Central Jersey, I drove 200 miles, which took just over four and a half hours, thank you New York traffic, to see the Slackers at Manchester 65.  I nearly was unable to find the club, since I was not expecting Manchester 65 to be a formerly abandoned factory, surrounded by real abandoned factories, in a residential area.  I expect tonight's show at the 89 North in Patchogue to actually be located in the middle of Chelmsford, given some of the fine places I've been in the last few weeks.  Amazing, I arrived in time to see the first band and was struck by how much the place looks like someone shoved a bar and a stage in an abandoned factory.  Really, the opposite of the Chance in Poughkeepsie. 

But I made it in time to see the first band, Coronado, which might have been good, but sadly did not have the experience with getting the volumes right, but when you see people in a band half your age, you realize that is part of the learning curve.  The Ocean Roots were a very pleasant surprise, reminding me of the Pilfers, with a large trombone sound and a surprisingly non-offensive sample deck.  Finally, the Copacetics came on and were excellent, a nice slow down with more traditional sounds leading up to the Slackers.  Really, I was pleasantly surprised by all of the opening acts, which is always a plus. 

Finally, the Slackers were ready to play.  As I always try to do, I got right up in front on Vic's side of the stage.  I saw that Marcus passed out the setlist for the night.  Usually, I try to avoid looking at the list, in order to be surprised, but I couldn't help but look at the she right in front of me.  I also avoid looking, so I don't get that small pang of disappointment seeing that once again the Slackers are not playing Sarah or some song I really want to hear was not listed.  Of course, with a deep catalog of over 100 songs, almost all of which are excellent, the set is always fantastic.  However, I quickly noticed Sarah, which was part of the reason I drove 200 miles, since it seems they are more likely to play Sarah away from New York than near it. 

Then, my heart rose as I saw And I Wonder?, which is my second favorite Slackers song and contains my favorite line of all, "Counting all of the postcards I wrote but never sent", which sums my life up as neatly as any phrase ever will.  Despite 15 Slackers shows, I only heard it live once, way back in 1998 if memory serves me and seldom find it appearing on any of their live songs available anywhere, save the live Maxwell's show they released as part of their Big Tunes money raising reaching $30,000.  Of course, the show is uncut, so I don't have it as a track, but like all great Slackers shows, always worth a full listen. 

So, the hour arrives and the Slackers take the stage.  The show was, of course, magical.  I'm always impressed by the entire band and they delivered.  The set was full of songs from The Question, Better Late Than Never, and Wasted Days, three of the finest albums ever released.  Surprisingly, nothing from Close My Eyes, with nary an Old Dog to be heard for the first time in a forever for me and only one song from Redlight.  But this speaks to the depth of the Slackers catalog.  I think they could legitimately come up with 23 different songs for tonight and put on an equally amazing set.

Each solo and song feels intentionally picked out.  I never go away anything less than blown away by one of Dave Hillyard's incredibly long solos or watching him play the solo from the Fool with just one hand.  And the way Agent Jay just plays a tremendous solo which fits the song, even if it wasn't in the original.  Of course, I can never say enough good things about Vic and the way he leads so many of the songs and plays the organ. 

In addition to the amazing musicianship, the stage show was excellent.  The banter was always witty and fresh.  Vic managed to get the entire crowd to scream out the bass part to Wasted Days after destroying a beer on stage to open the encore, followed by some very funny shotgunning.  Glen was really great getting the crowd involved, though when I had the microphone shoved in my face, my mind went blank on the chorus of Attitude, which shames me to no end and in my youth would have led me to not going to tonight's show or at least hanging back, instead of jamming myself on the stage. 

I remain excited to see them again, which will be my 16th Slackers show and hold out the dream tonight is the night I am there when they play Stars live.  Though I'd easily settle for hearing This is the Night or really, whatever they want to play, it's all amazing and completely worth the 400 miles and 8 hours I spent in the car yesterday and the 200 miles and 5 hours I'll spend in the car today. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pilfers, Hub City Stompers and The Chance in Poughkeepsie

Saturday night, I made my first ever trip to Poughkeepsie.  There is something irresistible about a Pilfers show where there is hope that Vinny Nobile is back with the band.  Worried about a sellout, I pre-purchased my ticket a few days ahead of time and leave to arrive by 7 PM for the doors opening.  Amazingly, I avoid getting lost, even at the end and make the trip in two hours flat.  Arriving at a parking lot, I see another couple clearly heading to the show, given their ska fan appearance and some small amounts of checkerboard. 

Arriving, I see Rev Sinister from the Hub City Stompers standing outside, which is always a good sign the show is going on, but learn two things.  One, the club is not opening until 7:30 PM and two, Mephiskapheles and Rude Boy George pulled out of the show.  The first ended up being the far worse news, since I refuse to wear a jacket to a show unless required by long walks, but the second meant that I would see the bands I would enjoy the most from the original lineup only.

So, I brave the mean streets of Poughkeepsie and head over to the Family Dollar, which looked like the most inviting place to spend fifteen or so minutes.  Aside from the panhandler who hit me up for money, the trip was uneventful, but I would say the urban decay would not encourage me to ever go to Poughkeepsie without great reason.  Walking back, we only have to wait another 15 minutes in the cold for the door, which was fine, since it was about 40 out and I was wearing a short-sleeve soccer jersey.  And I'm immune to the cold. 

Going inside, I see this amazing concert venue, which could only exist in a blighted area.  The Chance is a 1920s theatre with two levels, a pit area, tables, and a sizable bar.  It speaks to you if you like antiquity and history in your life, which I certainly do.  The bathrooms are in a deep cellar, which I did not care for at all, but you cannot have everything in an old building.  The acoustics are also excellent, which is not surprising, considering it is two stories and designed as a theatre back when people cared about aesthetics.  As a venue, you could only ask for a better location, but I would not call the area unsafe, unless you are not aware of your surroundings. 

There was also a merchandise area, which I am a sucker for, if for no other reason than I like supporting what I enjoy.  I saw that Coolie Ranx, the front man for the Pilfers was manning his own table, with whom I suspect was his wife.  I decide that after seven Pilfers shows, I need a Pilfers shirt and ask him about the blue and orange Pilfers shirt.  When he didn't have it in the arena, he was nice enough to go out to his car and get another bag of merchandise in order to find the shirt in my size.  I purchase the shirt and thank him for his efforts and the great shows over the years.  We even talked for a moment about the record release party for Chawalaleng back in 1999, which was a crazy and amazing show in a super no vacancy Wetlands.  I also picked up another Hub City Stompers CD, because I greatly enjoyed Dirty Jersey, purchased at the prior night's show. 

The Hub City Stompers came on and I managed to score a good standing area at eye level near the bar under an awning.  As with the night before, they put on a really great show, with some very clever, but admittedly non-PC lyrics.  Also, for a band putting on their first two shows in over a year, they have great chemistry and stage presence, to go along with some really great Oi-infused ska.  I enjoyed myself so much, I'm going to see them again, this Friday, at Asbury Lanes

Finally, I saw the Pilfers set up and was super excited.  I knew Vinny Nobile played with the Pilfers in mid-January, which was the reason I decided to drive two hours to see them, but was slowly crushed by the presence of an organ, which Vinny does not play.  I knew this meant the other trombone player who performed with them at the Big Apple Stomp would be performing this night.  Now, back in May 2013, he was what I would charitably call, not very good, then shown up by Vinny Nobile playing a few songs with his trademark style and sound.  In retrospect, the biggest issue was trying to play the trombone into a standing microphone like most people, unlike Vinny, who puts a wireless mic at the front of his trombone.  Well, I noticed that Ben was doing the same thing...and I drove all the way there...and Coolie was super nice to me, so I was willing to give it a chance. 

And I was not disappointed in the least.  They opened with the Intro and Dr. Kevorkian from their debut album and Coolie was great and the rest of the sound was there.  It wasn't quite as good as Vinny Nobile playing with the Pilfers, but then again, I don't think anyone plays the trombone as well as he does in this context.  For most of the night. though Yakuza and Show No Fear were a little off (but played back to back, like I do in my car), but not to ruin the experience, the horn parts sounded roughly similar, with the right level of sound, critical to get that real Pilfers sound.  And the rest of the band were great as always.  Coolie puts on a great show and even put the microphone to me in the audience to yell into, which never happened at any of the other 100 or so shows I've been to in the past. 

Given that, I went back, bought the first Pilfers album on LP to eventually hang on my wall, realized that I was hoarse from singing for the last hour fifteen, like Coolie wanted us to be, then headed home, knowing that I would pretty much go see any Pilfers show within a reasonable distance, which is probably shorter than Rhode Island, but further than Delaware.  In essence, the Pilfers are still one of the best live experiences you will ever see from a ska band and definitely something you should never miss unless required by work, law or unreasonable travel. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dave Hillyard & the Rocksteady 7: 15 Years in the Waiting

In full disclosure, I purchased Playtime by David Hillyard & the Rocksteady 7 on its release day about 15 years ago, give or take six months.  And somehow for the next fifteen years, despite never living more than a public transportation trip from New Jersey, I always managed to avoid going to one of their shows.  Most of my excuses fall into either I was unaware they were playing or Brooklyn is about as friendly a place to go by public transportation as a wolverine's den, especially if you need to stay late.  Last weekend, they played in Brooklyn, which I convinced myself to skip under the modified version of public transportation to Brooklyn, which was driving to Brooklyn and having nowhere to park the car on the snow covered streets when I get there.  Really, just a life of excuses. 

So, on short notice, the Crazy Baldhead appearance in New York scheduled for last night was changed to a Dave Hillyard & the Rocksteady 7 appearance, in Manhattan, on a Sunday night starting at 10:30 PM.  Dave also promised to play three songs from Dave Hillyard Presents California, which in my estimation is the best album to come out in at least five years and probably a good deal longer.  In my youth, I would have used the time as an excuse not to go or something else.  And even yesterday, I was close to not going, sitting in my apartment by myself, with nothing pressing lined up for today.  It would be my third show of the weekend, which I never accomplished in my youth and going to NYC is always a pain.  Excuses mounted in the corner, ready to leave me to watch the True Detective finale live.  But rather than just sit around, I committed to going, remembering something important I learned recently, there is never a time I went to a show and regretted it. 

I make the epic 10 minute walk to the train station and arrive in plenty of time to see the set at the Drom.  The Drom was an especially posh bar for its location, located downstairs and downtown on Avenue A.  A little early, I head inside and order what turns out to be a nine dollar Heineken Light, which in my estimation was a good deal for the location.  Hoping for once in my life that a show would start on time, my dream was dashed as 10 PM rolled past.  Instead, prior to going on the DJ was playing a great selection of Skatalites songs, which is oxymoronic, given how few, if any, Skatalites songs are anything other than great.  Still, considering it is one of those bands I never found the right CDs to purchase, it was an enjoyable setup.

The show started and was a great experience I should have availed myself of earlier in my life. All of the songs were full of life.  A tremendous and by tremendous, I mean best, version of I Can See Clearly Now was played by the band.  They played Won't Back Down, Guilty and Green Dolphin Street from California live, with Guilty being my favorite song of the night, mostly because I might have been the only person in the crowd who knew every word in the song by heart due to listening to the song 150 or so times over the last nine months.  The rest of the nearly hour and a half set was filled with tremendous ska, reggae and rocksteady sounds, lots of tremendous horn work and even a special appearance by Buford O'Sullivan, who I hadn't seen on stage since he was with the Toasters back in 2001 at the Wetlands. 

The most impressive part of the show was of course, Dave Hillyard.  With my 15th Slackers show set for Sunday, I've seen Dave play many times over the last sixteen years, though admittedly, I almost always end up on Vic Ruggiero's side of the stage, since he does most of the banter and interaction, along with Glen Pine.  While Dave Hillyard is by far my favorite saxophone and really any brass instrument player, he doesn't need to be the personality tour de force for the Slackers in addition to being one of their musical tour de forces.  But tonight, as the star of the show, he had tremendous stage presence as well, which I usually don't get to see.  He comfortably told some great stories and anecdotes and genuinely seemed to be happy doing what he does best, which is play the saxophone.  For the last song of the night, he let everyone else go first, then said something to the effect of needing to come up with his solo and put together an absolutely awesome and inspired two, two and a half minute solo.  It was another show which reminded me why I love going to shows and why I would definitely go out of my way to see Dave Hillyard play with the Rocksteady 7 again.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hardcore at 35

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I would be at a show at age 35, where hardcore was prominently featured.  Yet, last night, as I was sitting around my apartment, I decided what the heck and headed off to the Hub City Stompers show at Dingbatz, even though I'm going to see them open for the Pilfers tonight in Poughkeepsie. 

Opening for the Hub City Stompers were both Mental Abuse and Social Decay.  I caught the tail end of Decrepit Youth, but really got there to see Mental Abuse hit the stage.  My understanding is they were something of a thing in the 1980s, which was readily apparent from seeing them on stage.  The average age of the band members had to be 55, which leads me to believe there is an emerging market for old man hardcore.  The lead singer was a balding fellow who looks like the neighbor from hell, as he sung to the left and right of the stage, but never straight ahead.  Now, when I watch a hardcore band, I expect a burlier singer, at least that was the trend 15 to 20 years ago, when I actually went to hardcore shows of my own volition.  The rest of the band all wore hats and might have been confused as a Grateful Dead cover band if you were deaf.  The music though was appropriately raucous, as you would expect from a hardcore band.  But I just stood there and could not get past the fact our heroes and other people's heroes get old and grey.

Social Decay was actually a far better band.  They managed to get that old fashioned, wall of sound that hardcore is notorious for going throughout the club, which had low ceilings and painfully loud acoustics.  They also looked like a hardcore band, with a stocky guy wearing a hardcore shirt with a bastardized Hartford Whalers logo on the front of the shirt.  Even though, all hardcore lyrics are indecipherable and there was limited breaks between songs, making it hard to know when the shifts were coming, they put on a good set.  I also enjoyed their set went on late, because the drummer needed to go to a Daddy/Daughter dance, which was both touching and ridiculous as we all clutch at the fading remains of our youth.  Not a good enough to get me to listen to hardcore on its own, but good enough to enjoy in the moment.

One non-hardcore aside, King Django has an interesting idea for a horn section.  Usually, you mix and match different horns to get variation in sound.  However, with his regular saxophone player in tow and two members of the Hub City Stompers on hand who play the saxophone, he went for the three saxophone lineup, which mostly consisted of Django's regular saxophone player doing most of the heavy lifting, while everyone else did a lot of standing around, since about 1/3 of the way through, everyone realized three saxophones is not better than one.  Bonus points, the Hub City Stompers trombone player, not on stage.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

QPW: Well Worth the Wait Review

If you don't already own Quintessential Pro Wrestling's (QPW) Well Worth the Wait, go buy it now.  Seldom is there a new wrestling promotion which puts out a great, must own product, but QPW is the exception to this rule.  Their first two shows are available on YouTube, but this show was the first you can own and support the company from anywhere in the world. 

Even though this show took place the day after PWG's DDT4 2014, this show made it from taping to doorstep in under 14 days, while I impatiently wait for tomorrow's DDT4 ship date and early next week's arrival date. The DVD arrived about two weeks ago, I was finally able to get some time to sit and devote to watching the DVD, rather than leaving it on the background while I do something else like I do with most other wrestling DVDs. 

To be honest, there is a lot to be excited for on this card.  The first Kevin Steen/Chris Hero match since Hero's return from the WWE and the only time I've seen a wrestler change gear middle of the match, Joey Ryan wrestling Cheerleader Melissa, Willie Mack!, Brian Cage!!!, Candice LaRae and Christina Von Eerie in an intergender tag match against PPRay, a mat classic between Kyle O'Reilly and Brian Kendrick and Drake Younger against Adam Thornstowe, who I've heard a lot about and was excited to see.

Outside of PWG, there is almost never a card where I am excited to watch all of the matches.  Even Ring of Honor will have a few matches where I'm like, oh boy Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer, there's a match I don't need to see.  But this is an amazing card which delivers. 

Before discussing some of the matches in further detail, the rest of the disc is very good.  Having Excalibur and Nigel McGuinness as the commentators was an excellent choice.  Even though they started off trying to work this as a family show, once they found their groove and watched Joey Ryan wrestle Cheerleader Melissa, the commentary became a bit more risque, but you do realize that Excalibur relies are far more than just his great storytelling and knowledge of adult topics, as he excels at telling the story of a wrestling match.  Nigel is a good compliment to Excalibur, more from the school of people who want you to believe in the physics of wrestling, which is a nice change of pace. 

The camera work is good as well.  I thought the hard cam was a little far away from the ring, but that is likely due to the nature of the building.  However, the lighting is correct (go watch a ROH DVD from before 2010 to see how hard that is to get right) and the camerawork from the floor was good as well, capturing the action from a different angle.  I actually expected this to be the hardest part to get right, but fortunately for us, they are far ahead of most promotions out of the gate.

As always, the Joey Ryan as the evolutionary Andy Kaufman was excellent, with just the right amount of sleaze to tell the story and Cheerleader Melissa, aside from some weak strikes, was excellent in carrying most of the offense in the match.  Melissa's strikes were made worse by Candice LaRae and especially Christina Von Eerie's strikes in their match with PPRay, which in something of a surprise was one of the best matches of the night. 

The real disappointment of the night was the Chris Hero/Kevin Steen match.  The action and story telling was good, but I wanted it to go significantly longer, even though Kevin Steen went from regular Steen to Young Bucks Steen during the middle of the match, though I suspect I will see this match again in the next few months in some promotion.  The same could also be said of the O'Reilly/Kendrick match, which I think could have went another three to five minutes as well, but as with Steen and Hero, the work in the ring was excellent. 

The main event was very good.  I think Thornstowe has a bright future in wrestling, but needs some additional polish.  Though admittedly, I have a soft spot for anyone who can get away with wearing And Out Come The Wolves trunks.  With a more unique finisher than the frog splash, something more high impact given his size, I think he can definitely be a regular in PWG and might even be the local guy who moves to the top of their cards.

As for Drake Younger, he was excellent as always.  He mixes in the right amount of technical wrestling and brawling and introduced just enough weapons to make the match interesting.  Drake also showed tremendous personality, including a spot which appeared on Kevin Steen's Weekend Escapades and going on commentary with Excalibur and Nigel during the match.  Really, I can watch Drake wrestle just about anyone and really enjoy it, so the fact this was a good main event with a true big match feel was no surprise. 

Anyway, go order the DVD.  It is a great product and gives you a chance to support a growing, local company. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock at Asbury Lanes

There is nothing more punk rock than going to a five hour show on a Tuesday night in the middle of nowhere.  Now, those of you who live in South Jersey might disagree with my sentiment toward Asbury Park, but having lived in New Jersey for over thirty years, I have only gone to Asbury Park for some kind of show and admittedly, Asbury Park is a far cry better than most of South Jersey, especially after the last decade of improvements. 

I was fencish about going to see the Sex Dolls at Asbury Lanes, since Asbury Park is not the easiest place to get to after leaving the Parkway and I'm not really a New York Dolls fan.  But when I heard Vic Ruggiero was joining Sammy Kay to open the show, I was priced in, as I have a hard time saying no to seeing Vic Ruggiero do anything. 

So, I arrive at Asbury Lanes in a timely fashion and was able to park my car just in front of the place, which was a little worrying.  Admittedly, the crowd for the night would best be described as intimate, but when you put on an acoustic punk rock show in New Jersey on a Tuesday night, that is always a risk. 

Sammy Kay opens the show, accompanied by Vic Ruggiero and one of the members of the Fast Four.  I previously saw Sammy Kay with the Fast Four at Skalapalooza in 2012 and was not left impressed, though admittedly, that was a very long show for a Sunday and I was there to see Edna's Goldfish and the Pilfers.  In the interim, I heard a few of his other tracks and liked the sound, so I figured it was worth seeing him again.  Admittedly, even if I hated his work in the interim, knowing Vic Ruggiero would be there was enough to get me to attend.  This time, Sammy Kay was much better.  I would say the set was the second best of the entire night, as the music was far slower, more stripped down and traditional.  Vic mostly played the harmonica and sang on a few tracks, but that was more than sufficient to get me to pay $17 for a night of live music.

They were followed by Dez Cardona and Penny Farthings.  I can tell you they played a Velvet Underground cover, there was a bit where Dez played the guitar riff from Third Stone from the Sun by Jimi Hendrix, but otherwise, it was an interchangeable band, since I am not a Black Flag fan, which I suspect was most of the allure.

Finally, as 11 PM hit, Sylvain Sylvain hit the stage.  Not being a New York Dolls fan, I was not expecting much, but admittedly was blown away by Sylvain.  He had a stage presence which was undeniable.  Working the small room, he played a lot of fan service songs from his New York Dolls era, which ended up being quite good stripped down and told stories.  He told stories and spoke to the crowd a lot like your dirty old uncle, who can captivate a room, which is exactly what Sylvain did.  With each song, I enjoyed his work more, because he knew how to make it personal to the audience.  Without hesitation, I would recommend seeing the Sex Dolls tour, just to see Sylvain Sylvain unless you absolutely hate the New York Dolls. 

With Sylvain departing after a 40 minute set, Glen Matlock hit the stage.  I felt bad for Glen, as he looked out to a mostly empty room, following someone who knew how to play the fans for what they were worth.  Glen is a fine musician, in fact, for someone who was the bassist for the most infamous of punk rock bands, he is a perfectly find guitarist.  Sadly, for Glen, he doesn't have the same way with the crowd that Sylvain does.  Also, Glen was very insistent on playing a lot of songs from his own album, which probably one person in the room heard before last night.  Towards the middle of the set, he engaged us with an acoustic version of God Save the Queen which was technically good and exciting, but it also reminded you the signature sound of the Sex Pistols is Johnny Rotten's sneering vocals.  Actually, this is also the reason there are no good covers of Sex Pistols songs, because the sound is not in the notes, but the voice.  We meandered along for another 20 minutes, with Stepping Stone by the Monkees popping up for the fans in the audience.  Glen closed with Pretty Vacant, which was actually better than God Save the Queen and really got the fans going for their joint encore. 

The encore was Bang a Gong by T-Rex and Personality Crisis by the New York Dolls.  They invited all of the women in the front area up on stage and the four of them still in the club and at the front gamely joined them.  It closed the show strong and really showcased the personality gap between Sylvain, who was once again phenomenal and Glen, who admittedly is just a bloke like the rest of us, just with the fortune to be part of one of the most famous musical acts of all time. 

In all, it was a good show and would recommend the tour.  Sylvain is a real professional who understands audiences and deserved to be playing before a bigger house than was at Asbury Lanes last night. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Amazon: Sunday Shipping and Add On Shipping

For some reason, I am in my second year of Amazon Prime Membership.  I thought it was a good idea the first year and perhaps I would cancel my Netflix subscription, but aside from Absolutely Fabulous, I cannot remember anything I watched with regularity on Amazon Prime.  But there was also the free shipping, which was nice every so often when I wanted a book, but I doubt I really got my money's worth out of the product.

Having missed my window for cancelling, I began year two, actually using the service less than year one.  That being said, last week, I ran out of cage wipes for my guinea pig.  The wipes are essentially animal safe Clorox wipes without the bleach.  But they are really good at cleaning the bottom of a cage or carrier and I've developed a dependency on them, even though the independent pet store refuses to carry the wipes I so desperately need. 

Knowing I could not buy them at the regular pet store, I quickly searched for them online and found them at Amazon, where they were half the price I pay in the store.  Realizing I might get some mileage out of my Amazon Prime membership after all, I go to put them in my cart, when I come to the realization they are an add-on item.  Now, if I pay you $80 to ship me items throughout the year, I expect you to basically ship me any item in your store.  I shouldn't be forced to find $25 worth of other items to pad my order, when all I really needed was cage wipes.  However, I really needed those wipes, so I went and bought 120 liters of bedding, which is a significantly heavier item, but always ships free and was sufficient to meet the limit to get me my two containers of cage wipes.

Angered, I place my order on a Friday afternoon and see that both items have different ship dates.  The bedding will arrive on Tuesday and as of this time is only in transit, but the cage wipes, the Add-On item, are being shipped separately and were scheduled to arrive on Sunday...

Now, perhaps you might feel differently, but if you tell me that I need to order additional items to get shipping, I expect everything to ship together and I don't expect to get specialized Sunday shipping on the Add-On item, yet Sunday came and the cage wipes were waiting for me when I got home from the grocery store, so Sunday delivery works, but at the same time, I cannot help but think I could have just ordered the cage wipes in these circumstances.  But I was denied the rational option and look forward to having another 120 liters of bedding tomorrow.  Needless to say, the chances of being an Amazon Prime member for a third year are very slim. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Station Agent

In what I would call my youth, but were really my law school years, I was very into independent film.  I suspect this all stems from being New Jersey and watching Clerks the week it came out on video as an impressionable 15 years old, but for the last 20 years, I've generally preferred films, with a story, a limited cast and a small budget.  I suspect I probably like theater, but have actually only seen one play in the last 15 or so years, which was an Arthur Miller play where I was a stand in for my mother.  I even used to frequent the Angelika in my youth, which only had their movie selection going for them. 

In my law school years, I purchased more DVDs than I would care to admit to.  Seeing as I had a limited social life and had already amassed a large collection of CDs, DVDs were a natural extension, though you can listen to a CD repeatedly, while most movies and television shows require one viewing at most.  Of course, this is why I own five seasons of Stargate SG-1 for the last ten or so years, but whatever.  I also frequented the local video store, which I think officially went extinct in 2004, unless your primary clientele were ladies and gentlemen who preferred adult videos, at which point you made it to 2009. 

For some reason, I was repeatedly drawn to The Station Agent, but always found something else I wanted to see just a little more, including the time I rented Chinatown, which was just dreadful.  But I never picked up The Station Agent.  I mean, I've bought more $5 DVDs from Blockbuster when they were going out of business then I care to admit as well, but somehow The Station Agent always eluded my grasp. 

So, today I was checking out Instant Watcher, because I lack the will to figure out what is new on Netflix when someone does the heavy lifting for me, when I saw The Station Agent was available.  After 11 years of delays, I decided I could wait no more and cleared 90 minutes from my schedule to watch it. 

The wait was correct.  I think, seeing it in 2003, the movie would not have resonated with me in the same fashion.  You need to experience loss and need friendship before you can appreciate the art of doing it right.  As a film, it worked.  The ending was not too sweet, but felt achievable for all of the characters and gave their struggle depth.  The acting was amazing, but considering basically the entire cast ended up in cable prestige dramas, that is not surprising.  And the story worked because it acknowledges that Peter Dinklage is a dwarf, without letting it be consuming to the point where you cannot identify with him, which is why Life's Too Short didn't succeed.

So, I can cross another movie I needed to see of my list, not that I repopulate it that regularly. 

The Downside of Giving Up Caffeine

As it is after 4 AM, I am learning a valuable lesson in giving up caffeine.  About six weeks ago, I gave up caffeine, which was fairly hard for about three days, but otherwise, long term beneficial.  My caffeine delivery system of choice for the last 30 or so years was soda, usually a brown liquid capable of killing anything, but Sunkist has caffeine as well and if you are truly interested in caffeine, then you should know all of the ways to ingest it. 

Despite having made a clean break, I have an exception, which is the one soda a week rule.  Sometimes, you are out somewhere and it is difficult to either just have a water or find another available beverage that you are capable of drinking.  Think a bar, which might have juice, but without the alcohol, Tang is not acceptable for anything. 

So, the last few weeks, I had one and it was OK.  But tonight, I was having a moment and used my one soda at Target, where I had a Coke around 9:30 PM.  Well, the Coke certainly took the edge off how I was feeling, but at the same time, it left me wide awake.  So, I saw 1 AM and 2 AM and 3 AM and even 4 AM.  Sitting here, I'm not quite tired, but not quite awake and have that feeling that the stimulant factor is all that is stopping me from enjoying a few hours of sleep before the snow hits. 

But the stimulant is coursing through my veins.  Back in the day, I could have a Coke, then go straight to sleep.  Now admittedly, I slept poorly, but even after giving up caffeine, I wouldn't declare myself a good sleeper and still suffer from nightmares in the dark and waking up about every 90 minutes, just around the edges of REM sleep.  It's really terrible.  Of course, being full of caffeine, which used to be table stakes for existence, stimulates your mind and keeps you wide awake.  Horribly so, requiring me to write meaningless journal entries about my empty life at a time where the vast majority of the people in my time zone are dead to the world.

Lessons learned, I will work on not having that one soda per week so late, especially if I am just heading home to do nothing. On the other hand, I did learn that I can fit into my old pants today, so I can stave off finding new pants to purchase for another few months, so it was not an entirely bad trip into the day.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kevin Steen: Hell Rising Review

Shoot interviews are a hard sell for me.  I think the reason my eyes tend to glaze over when I hear shoot interview is that most wrestlers are not necessarily interesting enough to carry off talking for an entire hour or longer.  Yet, at the same time, Legends of Wrestling, which consists of Gene Okerlund leading four legends like Dusty Rhodes, Michael Hayes, Pat Patterson and Mick Foley talking about the business is one of the greatest television shows I have ever watched.  I realize that Legends of Wrestling is superior to the shoot interview in that the men sitting on the panel are both some of the most knowledgeable and best talkers in the history of the industry and they get to play off one another.

However, at the ROH show last week, I persuaded myself to purchase Kevin Steen: Hell Rising.  This particular shoot interview is produced by ROH and is best known for being pulled off the market, as Kevin Steen tries not to, but absolutely destroys Jim Cornette, which likely led to those same Louisville lawyers portrayed on the DVD to ask for an injunction on selling the product. 

As the price skyrocketed, I assumed I would never break down and purchase it, which is kind of the same way I feel about Playboy Gary Hart: My Life in Wrestling.  Both Steen and Hart are two of my favorite talkers in wrestling history and while the Kevin Steen shoot was reasonably priced, I just couldn't spend $125 on a book.  But $20 at a ROH show is a much easier price to pay.  Plus, it contains 12 Kevin Steen matches, 11 of which I've never seen before.

Somewhere around Kevin Steen being removed ROH, I lost interest in the product.  I was busier with life and Kevin Steen is one of the biggest draws for me in wrestling.  Heck, I own at least three Kevin Steen T-Shirts, including one in the wrong size, because that's what Kevin had with him that day and I wanted to show my appreciation for his hard work and willingness to drive to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, to work Sami Callihan in a building entirely lit by generators.  Even with Kevin back, ROH is still a hard sell for me, because it isn't the local product I learned to love, but something different.

Watching Hell Rising made me think of all of these things.  It also made me think about Kevin Steen.  It was almost painful to watch him talk about not being involved in Ring of Honor.  You could hear the hurt in his voice and the sadness in his face.  His comments to Jim Cornette, which to his credit, he did continually try to temper with praise about what Cornette could bring to a promotion, seemed to have been born from a place of hurt, rather than anger. 

There were large sections of soul searching, where he seemed to be asking why Cornette couldn't appreciate him or his talents, which I always thought was ridiculous, as a man who thought the Dirty White Boy could draw money would certainly see that Steen had the talent to main event anything he was involved with.  But like all of us, Cornette had his favorites and they were more like Richards, Strong and Hero, who aside from Hero being the new king of skinnyfat, look nothing like Kevin Steen. 

What I enjoyed most about the interview was Steen's passion.  He makes you believe he is always speaking from his heart and that he cares about the industry.  Watching someone live their dream and tell us that story is almost always going to be great.  Steen's matches are cut from the same cloth.  He leaves everything in the ring and tells his stories from the heart, which gives him a psychology that is different from most wrestlers and makes him a credible storyteller. 

With the rumors that Steen is getting a WWE tryout becoming live today, it makes me wonder whether he will make it.  He has the talent to work the microphone with any crowd and tremendous charisma.  But I worry his bullying style of offense might not work in the WWE.  I mean, the Great Khali is not taking a sleeper suplex, mostly because I have grave doubts about his ability to jump, but I want to see him get the chance.  I mean, watching Kevin Steen perform his craft in front of small crowds, living by his own rules, wrestling matches the way he wants to are great for a fan like myself, but unselfishly, I want to see someone who has entertained me for the last seven years, nearly decapitated me with a ladder in Philadelphia (true story, Steen was running out for his match with Jay Briscoe at Death Before Dishonor V Night 2, nearly hit flush in the head with a ladder, because I was sitting on the entrance ramp.  Not his fault, but mine.), really get his shot to live his dream and be forever captured on the WWE Network, where I don't always have to dig out a DVD to watch one of the best workers in the business today.

So, if you like shoot interviews or Kevin Steen, you should buy this set before it goes away again.  If not, it is really your loss. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Busying yourself with projects is never easy.  Trying to fill these countable hours with things to do is harder than I remember.  I read a few books, but find my mind is often distracted after an hour or so.   I still have a fairly large back catalog of DVDs to watch, but I seldom find one that I actually want to watch.  The same goes for my video games.  Even the books, I'm fairly certain I could find a minimum of 100 books in my one bedroom apartment which I've either never started or started and cast aside.  I never really developed any other hobbies as it were.  There isn't something that I do with people on a regular basis which gives my life meaning and interaction.  Beyond this, if I own one CD, I own 600, since in my youth that was my collection du jour.  I even collected baseball cards for a while, as my blog roll will attest. 

Looking around my apartment, surrounded by my choices, my decisions, my accumulation, it makes me wonder if I lived my life right.  Were I a different person, I would have cultivated different interest, moved away from accumulating objects and instead accumulated memories and friendships.  I think knowing my life is in such a different phase than everyone else I know makes it harder.  Most people I know are locked into security, stability and family, while I drift toward freedom, which is a fairly antithetical way to move freedom as a core value in your life, but I'm finding it is possible.

And there are good days, but even those are empty and somewhat hollow.  Being ill at ease with new people and groups of strangers, I can go to an event, sit or stand amidst a sea of humanity I have something in common with, but no connection, enjoy the event and go home.  There is a part of me which is alright with this, but the remainder of me wonders if I have set myself up to spend the rest of my days, surrounded only by my accumulated possessions and just building a set of memories, alone, apart from everyone else. 

For a long period of my life, I would have assumed it would all shake out that way, but then life changed and I moved in a different direction.  But the price of being the caged bird was one I could no longer bear or was able to pay, so I sit here, in my apartment surrounded by my choices, which ended up being an accumulation of items which seldom, if ever, bring me the happiness I always thought they would. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

True Detective

I was very keen on watching True Detective when it was first announced.  However, knowing it was on demand, I made a slow start, taking a couple of times to watch the first episode, then taking a detour to read about half of the King in Yellow, before finally settling down the last day or two in order to catch up. 

Finishing up the six episodes, I was not surprised by how great Woody Harrelson was in the show.  In fact, it was to be expected, since Woody Harrelson is a tremendous actor.  However, I was completely surprised by how much Matthew McConaughey.  I mean he is Wooderson from Dazed and Confused, which is a great role in a great movie, but I've always associated him with fluff movies and without going to IMDB, I don't think I could name another movie he was in other than Magic Mike.  But here he is, stealing scenes, especially dark scenes at that and really is the center of a truly great show.

It seems I missed the boat on realizing he could act, but life has often taught me that I will miss the boat on these things, since I tend to be not hooked into popular culture.  But I remain surprised, pleasantly so and hate to say cannot wait to see how this whole series ends. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Christmas Morning Or the WWE Network Release

Since I knew the date, I anxiously awaited the release of the WWE Network for us regular consumers.  Providing me with over 1,000 hours of wrestling content to start and with the knowledge of the libraries they have purchased over the years, the WWE Network is the best possible on demand network for a wrestling junkie.  Plus, you get every pay per view going forward, which I would seldom order for $60, but would definitely pay $10 per month if I was able to watch Chi-Town Rumble '89 or a random episode of World Class Championship Wrestling from 1983, I can.  Heck, I used to pay that for 40 random hours of WWE content on WWE Classics on Demand.

So, I woke up this morning and managed to just beat the rush at 9 AM and sign up ahead of most people.  Once logged in, I managed to watch half an episode WCCW this morning, which included the Fabulous Freebirds and Bugsy McGraw, but sadly, I've yet to finish after 10 hours, since it basically played the Bugsy McGraw match in stop motion, due to the lag.  I also gave the Bunkhouse Brawl from 1988 a shot this afternoon, but received the stop-start nature of the programming.

With the on-demand not working well, I watched the live network programming stream, which worked very well, with only some small hitches where the program would replay the last three seconds again on occasion.  I was able to watch the best of NXT, including the Cesaro/Zayn match for a second time and Wrestlemania 1, which was not as good as you remember it.  I also saw an awesome promo from 1990 involving Playboy Buddy Rose, a once fit, but eventually fat wrestler,  pouring Blow-Away fat melting powder on himself, going from 270 pounds to 217 pounds while just pouring this powder on himself and having a fan blow it away. 

The impressive strength of the network, aside from the breadth of content is the picture quality.  I suspect some of the problem with the network today was streaming so much hi-definition content.  Even older matches looked sharp, probably sharper than they did 30 years ago when they were originally shown, since the digitization was excellent on the content I was able to watch.  Considering it is the first day of the first internet and on-demand network, this really has to be considered a success, even though I wasn't able to watch all of the 1989 WCW pay-per-views like I wanted to all day, but life is what it is and accepting realistic parameters is important. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

All Ages: The Toasters at 35

Last night, I saw the Toasters live in concert for the first time since the weekend before 9/11, when they played the Wetlands with the Scofflaws.  For someone who enjoys ska as much as I do and thinks the Toasters are a better live than studio band, it is quite surprising that I hadn't seen them in nearly 12 and a half years. 

Fortunately, the Toasters still tour and last night performed at the Stanhope House with a bunch of local ska bands.  In my youth, I would show up to every show when the music started, even if I had no desire to see all of the bands.  It was the principle of getting my money's worth.  Fortunately, as I've aged, I learned that time is more valuable than money and left at 7 PM for a 7 PM start time, knowing I had an hour drive ahead of me.  Of course, the Stanhope House is not the easiest place to find, as it is along the only road off 183 without a stoplight, leading me to drive past the street a conservative six or so times.  I finally arrived at 8:30, bought a ticket and walked inside.

This is where it hit me.  I'm at an all ages show and unlike in my youth where I loved all ages shows, there is a certain moment where as an adult, an all ages show, where I feel somewhat out of place.  The center of the room is dominated by the pit, filled with people half my age and I did have the darnedest time finding the bar, which was through the pit.  Also, the ceilings at the Stanhope House are eight feet tall, which is fairly low for an arena for watching shows, but a good band can project beyond this issue.  However, I was more committed to seeing the Toasters and living life, so this awkwardness passed in about five seconds. 

There was a local band on stage, who can best be described as a generic ska band, complete with the fat kid playing some kind of horn wearing a Real Big Fish shirt.  In fact, all of the opening acts can be summed up as the generic local ska bands.  They are all influenced by Real Big Fish or Less Than Jake, they play a set full of covers, which last night included a Real Big Fish cover, Astro Zombies by the Mistfits and a Less Than Jake cover.  It could've been a New Jersey ska show from 15 years ago without changing a thing.  Which is always the problem with ska, it's pretty easy to get a few friends together from high school band, but for ever opening act I've seen at a show like this which was great, (Tri-State Conspiracy, who sadly broke up last year), I've seen a hundred bands that were interchangeable. 

But that's the reality of a ska show, most of the youth were happy, since they likely knew someone in one of the bands and there was a fairly decent crowd of 250 people at the show.  It was nice to see Bucket working his merchandise table.  I ended up buying Live at CBGB's and the two-disc  European version of Live in London, which Bucket pointed out with great importance comes with a poster that my twenty-year old self would have enjoyed.  Being 35, I was just happy to get Decision at Midnight live on a new CD, but it is important to support the acts you want to see again. 

The Toasters put on a great performance.  They started with a song I wasn't familiar with, but quickly moving into Shocker and I'm Running Right Through the World got the crowd going.  What's interesting is the Toasters as a band is basically Bucket and a revolving cast of musicians.  In fact, last night, he was probably performing with a different band than he played with on Friday night.  But the songs remained timeless and the circle pit was filled with people skanking. 

I won't lie, when they played Weekend in LA, my arm was propelling my fist toward the ceiling on the double chorus of LA like most of the crowd, which is one of those life-affirming things you do at the show.  I did skip the circle pit, which I swore off after almost getting knocked down by a cyclone of humanity seeing Pennywise at the Warped Tour a forever ago. 

I hope to see the Toasters again this year, as I attempt to see 10 shows in a year, which would be the most for me since my college days, but with one down, I'm super excited to keep going to shows, since they really are full of energy and passion, which are often missing from most events in our lives. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ROH 12th Anniversary Show Review

Last night, I drove to Philadelphia for my second anniversary independent wrestling show of the month.  This time, I drove to the Ring of Honor 12th Anniversary show for my thirty-seventh Ring of Honor live show.  At one point in my life, I was a huge Ring of Honor fan starting with the Battle of the Icons back in 2007, but over the years my interest in the product waned, starting with the removal of Gabe Sapolsky as the booker and with the move from a local to national promotion.  Oh, and Killer Instinct in 2012 actually swore me off going to a Ring of Honor show ever again after serving up a 35 minute, no contest between Kevin Steen and Jay Lethal, where the live audience did not know what was happening or if there was a finish, which followed a lackluster show.  It took the knowledge that Adam Cole, Kevin Steen and Michael Elgin were going to be wrestling three matches in one night to get me to go back and watch anything ROH. 

But with Adam Cole defending the title against Chris Hero and having seen their match in PWG from two months ago, I convinced myself to give a live Ring of Honor show another go.  Arriving at the Armory in Philadelphia, I was surprised by the turnout, as there was no parking left at 7:40, requiring those who arrived timely to find their own place to park outside the safety of the arena.  I don't think anyone thought it would be a super no vacancy house of 1,200, but AJ Styles return tour is putting fans in the seats. 

I finally get to the building, where ROH COO Joe Koff was handling the will call window and hands me my ticket.  Having worked in a small business, I always appreciate the wearing of many hats and the need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty for the sake of the job, regardless of your job title and power.  Arriving just ahead of the dark match, I saw Amasis in ROH for the second time, since the Osirian Portal wrestled Steen and Generico in 2008, which I was there for.  Amasis was good, but Caprice Coleman did little for me in this match.

The first half of the main show was, to be polite, rough.  I thought the Tomasso Ciampa and Hanson match was very good, with Hanson showing the potential to be a star with a great mix of surprising athleticism, a good look and some real wrestling hoss skills.  Other highlights include the Decade of Roderick Strong, Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer using jazz hands as their team signal and Silas Young's mustache and 80s vibe, though I don't get why everyone loves Generic Indy Guy 2, Matt Taven or why anyone thinks Jimmy Jacobs should throw an effective spear against anyone larger than a toddler.  Sadly, Matt Hardy didn't make the show, forcing Michael Elgin to "wrestle" Raymond Rowe, who was clearly not ready for such a match, looking green and almost fighting Elgin to entertain.  Elgin did cut a really good old school promo trying to get Rowe over before the match and was surprised to find myself excited before watching Rowe sandbag without intent for about 10 minutes. 

With intermission, I went over to the lackluster ROH merchandise table.  CZW does it right with a selection of vendors, but ROH has their own table, which consisted of a selection of mediocre T-Shirts (number of Michael Bennett shirts in the audience: 2, number of Decade shirts in the audience: 1) and a limited selection of DVDs.  Amazingly, I only made one purchase, which is the Hell Rising Kevin Steen shoot, where I cannot wait to watch him tear apart Jim Cornette for 45 minutes, though I plan to pass on the Jay Lethal match from Killer Instinct. 

After intermission, the show really picked up with three great matches and an enjoyable squash of Cliff Compton by Kevin Steen, though the match did take about 18 minutes and was the shortest match of the second half.  Honestly, the biggest weakness in almost any ROH show is the length.  The Anniversary show went about 4 hours and would not be surprised if you timed the matches and found there were at least 5 and possibly 6 twenty minute matches.  Ring of Honor has a hard time giving us a great 12 minute match, for the thought we were missing something.  In fact, most of the matches, aside from Cole/Hero and Styles/Lethal could have stood to be a little shorter. 

The tag team match between ReDragon and Adrenaline Rush was very good.  Watching it, I thought, if ACH learns to strike better, he could be a star.  Kyle O'Reilly has grown on me over the years, but I'm still not a fan of his MMA striking based offense.  Otherwise, it was a good, not great tag team match. 

Having seen and hated AJ Styles two weeks ago and not thinking much of Jay Lethal's work on the whole, I was a little surprised by how well their match worked.  It was a slow affair, but Jay Lethal understood how to work with AJ Styles to put on a Southern-style wrestling match.  The spots were much crisper than with Gulak two weeks beforehand and both wrestlers used the pace to their advantage, especially Styles whose offense was far more convincing in the match.  The finish was rushed, but for the first time I understand why Lethal/Styles would have been a great main event in 2004. 

Finally, there was the Chris Hero and Adam Cole main event ROH Title match, which was my primary motivation for going to the show.  I saw their clash in at PWG's All-Star Weekend X, Night 1 and thought the match was excellent, but a little short.  Their match tonight was actually better.   Here, they played the roles of Hero as the returning conqueror and Cole as the cowardly heel to perfection.  With Hero being in my book, the best storyteller in the ring working today, the match flowed.  Cole's work was excellent as well, making the small mannerisms work, rolling out of the ring as a heel with great gusto and to loud applause.  Both men worked the crowd well and closed with a ref bump finish, allowing Hero to get Cole to tap out without a ref, but allowing Cole to retain the title after three straight jacket German Suplexes.

In sum, the second half of the show was worth the price of admission, with Cole and Hero being my match of the night.  It didn't reignite my love affair with Ring of Honor, but will at least force me to look at their cards when in the area to see if there is a match I want to see in person. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Pleasant Surprise

When I came home from the Ring of Honor show in Philadelphia tonight, I was greeted by a pleasant surprise in my mailbox, the first QPW DVD, Well Worth the Wait.  While I am far too tired to sit an enjoy watching this DVD, I was more surprised that it arrived today.

Earlier today, I checked the status of the order and the USPS let me know it was somewhere in transit, but not out for delivery.  So, I expected to come home, find nothing of interest in my mailbox and head back into my apartment.  But opening the metal box, I saw a grey, rectangular package which could only be the QPW DVD I was so excited about arriving.  So, here I am, all bleary eyed looking at the package, trying to convince myself not to start watching, since I will fall asleep during the first match, requiring a further rewatching, which I would likely do anyway, but with something you want to enjoy, sometimes you just have to wait, even as you hold it in your hand. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I remember talking about Spotify at work before it even hit the American shores.  This guy I worked for was very excited it was coming to America and talked about it for a week straight before it hit.  Now, he had a beta invite and i wasn't that interested, because I have 600 CDs and was living during one of my sad, music-free times in my life. 

Admittedly, the reason I own 600 or so CDs (and would guess I am short changing the number, rather than inflating it) is there were many years from 15 to 28, where I always played my stereo.  It's taken a long time for me to accept silence is alright, but admittedly, alright is not the same as preferred.  In the day, I was obsessed with the Sony All-in-One systems which could hold 50 CDs at a time, so I would not need to get up and look for a new CD every 45 minutes.  Some CDs would take up places of honor and would need to go back into the right spot when I brought my stereo back and forth to college.  I mean, how could I live in a world where Better Late than Never was not Number 26.  For many years, I actually couldn't.

Even when I moved out on my own, my stereo was a constant companion for the first few months, though I eventually broke down and ordered cable television, which meant the constant sound of music would be replaced by the constant sound of the television.  I actually set up my living room so you could watch television from the couch or computer desk, since I spent the vast majority of time at my desk when I was home.

However, life changed and I stopped listening to music on a regular basis.  My CDs sat unused in binders or the remaining spinning rack from the days where they were my treasured possession, gathering dust.  I kept some in the car, but spent little time in the car, especially when I needed to commute by public transportation five days a week.

But in 2011, I downloaded Spotify for those rare moments I still wanted to listen to music.  At first, I mostly used it instead of iTunes to listen to all of the MP3s I created for my computer.  But recently, with music becoming part of my life again, I started really taking advantage.  It's funny, there are certain songs you like, usually an artist will have just one and in the past, I was left with the dilemma of either buying an album for one song, which is why I have a copy of Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik which cost $1 or doing without, such as being unable to purchase a Grateful Dead album just to hear Touch of Grey.

So, I just started making myself lists of songs, songs which make no sense in any context, save the entirety of my life, while my CD collection sits on a shelf in my dining room, seldom touched by human hands, unless I really need something different for the car.  But how often do you really need to find a Skoidats or Johnny Too Bad and the Strikeouts album, seldom at all.