Friday, August 26, 2016

Hair Band Friday - 8/26/16

1.  "30 Days in the Hole" by Mr. Big

2.  "Two Steps Behind" (acoustic) by Def Leppard

3.  "You're No Good" by Van Halen

4.  "Barroom Boogie" (live) by Y&T

5.  "Fill You Up" by Nelson

6.  "Merry-Go-Round" (live) by Mötley Crüe

7.  "Flesh 'N' Blood" by Extreme

8.  "Mr. Brownstone" (live) by Guns N' Roses

9.  "Sleeping (In The Fire)" (live) by W.A.S.P.

10.  "Lay It Down" by Ratt

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Hang Fire" by The Rolling Stones

Thirty-five years ago today, The Rolling Stones released the Tattoo You album, which was an album comprised mostly of studio outtakes from the '70s, but also featuring a couple new songs.  It was the Stones' ninth studio album to hit #1 on the Billboard charts and eighth in a row, and of course, features the iconic album cover pictured herein.

I think this was the first Stones studio album I ever bought.  The album is pretty damn good and has some great songs, not all of which are very well-known.  "Start Me Up" has become an ubiquitous sports anthem.  I've always liked "Waiting On a Friend."  "Little T&A" is a wonderful Mick-sung gem about, well, T&A.  "Black Limousine" is a bluesy, barroom number.  "Neighbours" is a fast-paced rocker about Mick's penchant for getting evicted from apartments.

But I'd have to say my favorite song on the album is "Hang Fire," a song openly mocking England's economic woes and apparently ambivalent attitude of the English towards those woes.  It's an uptempo song that could almost be a punk song with some slight tweaks, and it got up to #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The band made a promotional video for the song, which I am presenting for your viewing and listening pleasure.  What's interesting to note is that, when this video was made, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were both basically the same age as I am now.  Apparently, being a rock star and treating your body like a rental car with the max insurance makes you look a bit older at 38 than being a mediocre lawyer.  Charlie Watts, on the other hand, looks pretty much the same now as he did then, but just with a better haircut now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Disgusting Facts About Ancient Roman Life

I was too busy today with work, eating, and going to my Incredible Hulk nightmare support group, as I do every Tuesday night.  Thus I didn't have time to come up with my own Tuesday Top Ten this week.  Thankfully, I happened across an article (if you can call it that) linked from Yahoo's homepage entitled "10 Truly Disgusting Facts About Ancient Roman Life."  Some of them aren't really "disgusting" -- such as the fact that there was erotic art in Pompeii -- while others really are quite disgusting, like the fact that some Romans used urine as mouthwash (it is sterile, after all), they liked to use dead gladiators' blood for its healing powers (makes sense), and they shared a shit sponge to wipe their asses (no defending this one).  

These are things to think about next time you really want to stick it to your jerk friend who is always talking about how awesome it would be to go back to ancient Rome.  "Yeah, good luck with the pubic lice, you ill-informed pagan."  That's what you would probably say.  And then he would be all, "Dude, I'd just take some pubic lice shampoo with me, so it wouldn't be a problem."  And then you'd be all, "Yeah, and totally change the course of history?!  Your egotism is only eclipsed by your short-sightedness.  Not me, though.  I'd go back to the Sunset Strip in the mid '80s and literally fuck every woman I saw.  Try and stop me, Maximus.  Yeah, that's what I thought."

Monday, August 22, 2016

An Incredible Night

On Friday, I had the pleasure of being on the field for the first pitch at the White Sox game. The circumstances as to why I was on the field are insignificant. What was very significant is who was throwing the main first pitch: Lou Ferrigno. 
My relationship with Lou Ferrigno is completely one-sided, in that he presumably has no idea who I am and was not terrified of me when he was a child. Aside from clowns and gypsies, the Incredible Hulk was thing I remember fearing. All it took was seeing Dr. David Banner getting angry once for me to swear off watching the Incredible Hulk forever. Nevermind that the Hulk was a good guy.

This paralyzing fear manifested itself in the first dream/nightmare I remember having. I was 3 or 4, and it is still probably the most vivid dream I've ever had. Here's how shit went down. 

I was mature for my age. Though I was a toddler and the house did not have an alarm system, my parents trusted me enough to leave alone for the evening while they went to dinner. After all, I was wearing a fedora and smoking a pipe. They left out of the front door, which I am now for the first time realizing was strange, since the garage was off of the back door. Maybe things would have turned out differently if I had gone to the front room to see what route they took.

Once the door closed, I grabbed the newspaper, plopped myself down on the floor in the living room, laid on my back and started reading the Chronicle. I soon heard a rustling noise. I lowered the paper to look around, and I didn't see anything, so I went back to the paper. 

That was a mistake. As soon as I started on Peanuts or Family Circus, dozens of Incredible Hulks of various sizes and colors pounced on top of me.  There were green ones, blue ones, orange ones, pink ones, yellow ones, all smothering me and probably ruining the paper. I couldn't tell for sure because I was being suffocated by my worst nightmare.

I will never forget the dream, and needless to say, there was a wave of emotions flowing through my body Friday night, as I stood less than ten feet from the man who helped me kick off a life of vivid, memorable dreams. I didn't know whether I wanted to thank him for making my first nightmare the worst one I ever had (so that nothing could possibly as bad after that) or berate him for no real reason other than the fact that he was painted green on a popular American television show nearly 40 years ago.

As urine uncontrollably streamed down my legs, I walked toward him to shake his hand and perhaps get some closure, or perhaps be crushed to death by his still-massive arms. But then he was escorted to the mound, where he threw a strike, and my chance at reconciliation -- and maybe redemption -- was gone. Perhaps in another 35 years, I'll sort things out with him. I certainly never got the chance with Bill Bixby.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New Book: Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar

Well over a month ago, I finished reading Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories by Chuck Palahniuk, which is a collection of nonfiction essays and stories on a diverse array of topics, including wrestling (real wrestling, not WWE), taking steroids for shits and giggles, people who build castles as their homes, and a combine demolition derby in Washington state.  There were also interviews that Palahniuk did with famous people, including Juliette Lewis, Marilyn Manson, and a guy who built his own rocket ship.  All in all, it was pretty interesting, and there were some pretty funny parts, like when he described getting an infection on his scalp right before he was supposed to go meet the producers of Fight Club.

After that, I read Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein.  Brownstein is a founding member of influential all-female band Sleater-Kinney (although, as I learned in book, she would probably not be happy with the fact that I just used the adjective "all-female" to describe the band), who has since shown her multi-talentedness (if that's a word) by co-creating and co-starring with Fred Armisen in the hilarious IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia.  The book focused on Brownstein's childhood and time with Sleater-Kinney.  Admittedly, I didn't know a ton about the band before reading the book, other than that they were associated with Olympia, Washington's riot grrrl movement (although they came along a little after the likes of Bikini Kill and Heavens to Betsy).  I enjoyed the book, even if it didn't touch on Portlandia.  Brownstein is as talented a writer as she is a guitarist and comedian.

My next book will be Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar.  I bought this almost a year ago, along with a slew (but certainly not a slough or slue) of other books, in order to give myself a year or so (or multiple years, given how slowly I read) of not needing to purchase books once I've finished one.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bigger fan of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen than the Van Hagar era (and certainly than the short-lived Gary Cherone era), but if I had to choose between hanging out with Roth and Hagar, I'd take Hagar hands down.  He always comes across as a pretty normal, down-to-earth guy, despite having had massive success in the music industry for the better part of 40 years.  And, of course, you know he would have some good tequila.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hair Band Friday - 8/19/16

1.  "Rock A Bye Bye" by Extreme

2.  "Broken Home" by White Lion

3.  "The Whole World's Gonna Know" by Mr. Big

4.  "Headed For a Heartbreak" by Winger

5.  "Dreams" by Van Halen

6.  "And On The 8th Day" by Kiss

7.  "Stick Your Guns" by Mötley Crüe

8.  "Monkey Business" by Danger Danger

9.  "Run Riot" by Def Leppard

10.  "Be A Man" by Tesla

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Middle-aged woman talking on cell phone in subway station: "I'm gonna cut your nuts out of you and serve 'em to you as meatballs."
(Young guys standing nearby chuckles)
Woman: "You weren't supposed to hear that."
--Chicago, State/Lake Red Line Station
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most successful hair band albums ever and one of the best-selling albums period of the 1980s:  Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet.  This is the album that vaulted Bon Jovi from a mid-level band to superstars.

Slippery When Wet topped the Billboard album charts for 8 weeks (and was in the Top 5 for an incredible 38 weeks), and was the #1 album on the year-end Billboard album charts for 1987.  It has gone platinum twelve times over in the U.S.  On top of that, it was the first hard rock album to feature three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100:  "Livin' On a Prayer" (#1), "You Give Love a Bad Name" (#1), and "Wanted Dead or Alive" (#7).

I am going with "Wanted Dead or Alive" for this week's Retro Video of the Week because, while I love all three of the aforementioned songs, the video for "Wanted Dead or Alive" has always been one of my favorites.  It's one of the classic "on-the-road" videos, featuring shots of the band playing live shows and otherwise hanging out while traveling to and from shows.  My favorite part is at about the 3:25 mark, just as the line "I've seen a million faces / and I've rocked them all" is sung, and they show the shot of the house lights being brought up on the crowd, with Jon Bon Jovi thrusting the mic in the air.  Ahh, to be a concert goer in the '80s.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Summer Olympic Events

I've been hellishly busy as of late, thanks to work, travel, and spending every other non-sleeping minute of the day watching the Olympics.  This happens every Olympics, summer or winter, and it's just that much easier to become obsessed when the games are played within a couple times zones of me, so that I can watch a lot of things live.  Hell, I'm watching Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross lose their battle Agatha and Barbara as we speak.

There isn't an event that I won't watch, but here are my ten favorite Summer Olympic events (in no particular order):

1.  Track and field - men's 100m
This was one of my favorite Olympic events because, even as a kid, the idea of "the fastest man in the world" was so compelling.  The first Olympics I remember was the 1984 Los Angeles games, where Carl Lewis won the 100m (and grabbed three other golds while at it).  This is still compelling for me because it really is just pure speed, and as many a coach has said, you can't teach speed.  Watching Usain Bolt is literally awesome.

2.  Team fencing
I hadn't watched much fencing until this Olympics, and I always thought it was cool.  I mean, it's sword fighting.  But this time around, I actually figured out some of the rules, and that it's more than just who touches the other person first.  And then, I watched some team events, where they rotate fencers over nine rounds, and the first to 45 points wins.  Good stuff.

3.  Gymnastics vault
Whether it's the men or the women, the vault is awesome.  People chucking themselves into the air is always cool, but then when they can stick a landing after running full speed, doing a cartwheel off of a springboard, and then three twisting flips in the air, it almost defies physics.  And, of course, this even provides us with the most spectacular crashes in gymnastics.

4.  Women's beach volleyball
It's always a party atmosphere during beach volleyball, and I like the two-on-two format better than the six-on-six indoor volleyball format.  And, of course, let's not kid ourselves, any straight man who says he doesn't enjoy watching bikini-clad women in extremely good shape is lying.

5.  Platform diving
They are diving from over thirty feet in the air and somehow (for the most part) not belly flopping.  You remember that first time you ever went off the high dive as a kid, and it seemed like it took forever for you to hit the water.  They are three times as high as that, and they are doing flips and going into the pool head first.

6.  Swimming - any IM or medley relay
The IM events are crazy to me because you have to be really good at all four swimming strokes.  I don't think I would be able to properly do the breaststroke or butterfly if I practiced for a year.  And the medley relays are cool because it's the best of the best in each stroke.

7.  Archery
The TV coverage never really does archery justice because all you see is the archer release the arrow and then a close-up of the target to show where the arrow hits.  What you don't get a fell for is that they are shooting from 70 meters away, and the ten-point circle is as big as a CD.

8.  Track and field - 400m hurdles
Because someone thought, "Hey, you know what the hardest track event needs?  Hurdles."

9.  Rubgy Sevens
I realize this is a new event, but it's pretty sweet.  In case you don't know, rugby sevens differs from regular rugby in that it's only seven minutes a half (instead of 40), and there are only seven players on each team (instead of 15).  Basically, what that means is that it's like the flag football version of rugby, but without flags and still with all the action of rugby.  Definitely a good addition to the games.

10.  Table tennis
It's just insane how good Olympic table tennis players are.  They are playing about ten feet behind the table, and just killing the ball, but with precision and crazy spin.  It's almost disheartening, since you're thinking that ping pong is a fun, relatively easy game.  I tell you this:  these people would eat you alive.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Rio" by Duran Duran

Many apologies for not posting a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  I have been battling Olympic Fever all week, and the only cure is more Olympics.  Did you know that today is Duran Duran Appreciation Day?  Neither did I, until a local disc jockey told me so this morning.  My health problems and the day's festivities have come to a glorious intersection, as Duran Duran has perhaps the most perfect song for these Olympic Games.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Rio."