Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Retro Videos of the Week: "Balls to the Wall" by Accept and "Changes" by 2Pac

There are two significant events this week.  First, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Tupac Shakur's death (or alleged death, depending on whether you believe the lamestream media).  Second, Friday, I'm leaving on a jet plane to go to Denmark and Germany for a little over a week, culminating in my fourth trip to Oktoberfest.  With these two monumental events, I couldn't live with myself if I only gave you guys one Retro Video of the Week.  After all, this will likely be the last post until I return, presumably ten pounds heavier, severely bloated, and with a big smile on my face.

The first video is "Balls to the Wall" by German metal band Accept.  This song is appropriate not only because Accept is German, but also because "balls to the wall" is an accurate description of the drinking and fun that goes on at Oktoberfest.  "Balls to the Wall" is Accept's most-recognizable song, and the video is a pretty good early '80s metal video, with the guitarists sporting the twin Flying Vs and everyone looking the metal part with long hair and black leather.  And then there's lead singer Udo Dirkschneider, who looks like a blond, camouflaged, German version of Patton Oswalt, but with a better metal shriek.


The second video is 2Pac's "Changes."  It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since Tupac was murdered.  I was a freshman in college, and it seemed like 2Pac's All Eyez On Me and Me Against The World albums were standard issue.  If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that 84.6% of male dorm rooms at Indiana University during the 1996-1997 school year had at least one of those two albums.  

To this day, 2Pac remains one of my favorite hip hop artists.  Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. was one of the first five CDs I ever purchased.  There was something different about him and his music.  He was a unique talent, and it's a damn shame that he had to go and fake his own death so that he could live on a private island with Jim Morrison and Elvis, but then again, I would do that too if it meant never having to be in the same room as Suge Knight again.  Of course, the fake death rumors have only been fueled by the fact that more and more 2Pac music kept getting released after his death, and that some of his songs seemed to foreshadow, if not predict, his own demise.  

One of those songs was "Changes," a heartfelt, catchy, and brilliant song set to the backdrop of Bruce Hornsby & The Range's "The Way It Is."  While it was originally recorded in 1992, it wasn't released at the time, and it was later remixed and then released in 1998, when it became 2Pac's sixth Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts, reaching #32 over two years after his death.  When the song and accompanying video were released, 2Pac's death was still pretty fresh, and the song reminded everyone that behind all of the chest puffing, "thug life" tattoo, and "Hit 'Em Up," there was a compassionate and intelligent man who understood the struggles of black Americans and wasn't afraid to sing about them.  "Changes" touches on racism, police brutality, gangs, welfare, drugs, and poverty.  The first couple lines of the second verse -- "I see no changes / All I see are racist faces / Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races we under -- have always stuck with me as being particularly poignant.  In the end, though, I don't think the song is pessimistic, but rather a realistic depiction of the racial problems in America, with a plea for everyone to try to understand each other and work out differences and social issues peacefully.  Frankly, given the rhetoric in this country in recent years, the song is just as relevant today as it was when it was written and when it was released.  

And while I haven't done any research to back this up, I am relatively confident that this is the first blog post to feature both an Accept video and a 2Pac video, proving that we can all get along if we just try.  Prost and West Side 'Til I Die!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Oktoberfest/Märzen Beers

Since I am going to my fourth Oktoberfest next week, it seems appropriate that I post something about beer.  I came across this great article today entitled "55 Oktoberfest/Märzen Beers, Blind-Tasted and Ranked."  I won't ruin the article for you by telling you what is the best Oktoberfest beer they drank, but rest assured, it is German.  Prost! 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Hair Band Friday - 9/9/16

1.  "Let Freedom Rock" by Vinnie Vincent Invasion


2.  "Lay Your Hands On Me" by Bon Jovi


3.  "Dancing In The Street" by Van Halen


4.  "God Isn't Dead?" by Extreme


5.  "Wasted Generation" by Steel Dragon


6.  "Lick It Up" by Kiss


7.  "Higher And Higher" by Winger


8.  "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC


9.  "Blame It On My Youth" by Mr. Big


10.  "Hair of the Dog" by Britny Fox

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Egypt" by Mercyful Fate

Next week, I'll be heading to Denmark and Germany for some good-natured drinking and such.  So, this week, I figured I'd post a Retro Video of the Week by a Danish group.  And who better than early black metal rockers Mercyful Fate?  Fronted by King Diamond and his demonic face paint, Mercyful Fate was an influential metal band in the '80s and early '90s.  Here is the video for their 1993 song "Egypt."  It's appropriately creepy, and I assume this video is what Copenhagen will look like at night.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Big Ten Bowl Hopefuls

This past weekend was not only a much-needed holiday weekend, but more importantly, it was the first weekend of college football.  Dubbed by ESPN's marketing machine as the "best opening weekend ever" (or something like that), there were marquee matchups throughout the weekend, with four games pitting ranked teams against each other, along with a bunch of other big-name games, like LSU playing Wisconsin in Lambeau Field, Clemson playing at Auburn, UCLA playing at Texas A&M, and Notre Dame playing at Texas.  And making things better, all of the games -- aside from Alabama's dismantling of USC -- were pretty close.  

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that my beloved Hoosiers -- behind two defensive touchdowns and the arm of JUCO transfer QB Richard Lagow (pronounced lego!) -- stormed into Miami Thursday night and took road win over Ron Turner's mighty FIU Panthers, 34-13.  This may not seem like a big deal to you, but a road win for the Hoosiers is always welcome, and now that the Big Ten season has gone from 8 games to 9 games, these non-conference games are even that much more important for IU's bowl chances.

Speaking of which, the Big Ten had a great first weekend, going 12-2, with the only losses being Northwestern's egg laying at home against Western Michigan and Rutgers's complete destruction by #14 Washington.  If things go well for Big Ten teams in the non-conference slate, we could match or top last year's total of ten bowl teams for the conference (including Michigan State's spot in the College Football Playoff and Iowa and Ohio State's New Year's Six Bowl berths).

Let's take a look at the bowl chances of each Big Ten team.  I'll list each team's current record and 2015 record (overall, conference, and bowl), and then I'll break down each team's (1) remaining games by likely wins, likely losses, and toss-ups, (2) toughest remaining game, (3) probable regular season win total, with a range of three wins (this will not include the Big Ten Championship game or any postseason games), and (4) what it will take to make a bowl, and what it will take not to make a bowl.  For sake of ease, I'm just going to go in alphabetical order.

1.  Illinois
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  5-7 (2-6)
Remaining likely wins:  Western Michigan (9/17), Purdue (10/8), at Rutgers (10/15)
Remaining likely losses:  North Carolina (9/10), at Nebraska (10/1), at Michigan (10/22), Michigan State (11/5), at Wisconsin (11/12), Iowa (11/19), at Northwestern (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  Minnesota (10/29)
Toughest game:  at Michigan (10/22)
Probable win total:  4-6
Will make a bowl if:  they can pull off a couple upsets in the Big Ten season, or Lovie Smith can get Urlacher to suit up.
Won't make a bowl if:  Urbana-Champaign's topography continues to be flat.

2.  Indiana
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  6-7 (2-6) (Pinstripe Bowl - L)
Remaining likely wins:  Ball State (9/10), Wake Forest (9/24), Maryland (10/29), at Rutgers (11/5), Purdue (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  Michigan State (10/1), at Ohio State (10/8), at Michigan (11/19)
Remaining toss-ups:  Nebraska (10/15), at Northwestern (10/22), Penn State (11/12)
Toughest game:  at Ohio State (10/8)
Probable win total:  6-8
Will make a bowl if:  they can avoid injuries, and the defense bends, but doesn't break.
Won't make a bowl if:  their defense both bends and breaks.

3.  Iowa
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  12-2 (8-0) (Rose Bowl - L)
Remaining likely wins:  Iowa State (9/10), North Dakota State (9/17), at Rutgers (9/24), Northwestern (10/1), at Minnesota (10/8), at Purdue (10/15), Wisconsin (10/22), at Illinois (11/19), Nebraska (11/25)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  at Penn State (11/5), Michigan (11/12)
Toughest game:  Michigan (11/12)
Probable win total:  10-12
Will make a bowl if:  they play at least six games.
Won't make a bowl if:  Nile Kinnick returns from the dead, starting the zombie apocalypse in Iowa City.

4.  Maryland
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  3-9 (1-7)
Remaining likely wins:  Purdue (10/1), Rutgers (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  at Penn State (10/8), Michigan State (10/22), at Indiana (10/29), at Michigan (11/5), Ohio State (11/12), at Nebraska (11/19)
Remaining toss-ups:  at FIU (9/9), at UCF (9/17), Minnesota (10/15)
Toughest game:  at Michigan (11/5)
Probable win total:  4-6
Will make a bowl if:  they win their remaining non-conference games and manage to steal a win or two in the Big Ten from better teams.
Won't make a bowl if:  they lose either of their remaining non-conference games in Florida.

5.  Michigan
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  10-3 (6-2) (Citrus Bowl - W)
Remaining likely wins:  UCF (9/10), Colorado (9/17), Penn State (9/24), Wisconsin (10/1), at Rutgers (10/8), Illinois (10/22), Maryland (11/5), Indiana (11/19)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  at Michigan State (10/29), at Iowa (11/12), at Ohio State (11/26)
Toughest game:  at Ohio State (11/26)
Probable win total:  10-12
Will make a bowl if:  their helmets are winged.
Won't make a bowl if:  Maurice Taylor comes back to give the Wolverines football team rides around campus.

6.  Michigan State
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  12-2 (7-1) (CFP Semifinal - L)
Remaining likely wins:  Wisconsin (9/24), at Indiana (10/1), BYU (10/8), Northwestern (10/15), at Maryland (10/22), at Illinois (11/5), Rutgers (11/12), at Penn State (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  at Notre Dame (9/17), Michigan (10/29), Ohio State (11/19)
Toughest game:  Ohio State (11/19)
Probable win total:  10-12
Will make a bowl if:  half the stadium chants "go white" after the other half chants "go green."
Won't make a bowl if:  John L. Smith makes his triumphant return to East Lansing.

7.  Minnesota
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  6-7 (2-6) (Quick Lane Bowl - W)
Remaining likely wins:  Indiana State (9/10), Colorado State (9/24), Rutgers (10/22), Purdue (11/5)
Remaining likely losses:  at Penn State (10/1), Iowa (10/8), at Nebraska (11/12), at Wisconsin (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  at Maryland (10/15), at Illinois (10/29), Northwestern (11/19)
Toughest game:  at Wisconsin (11/26)
Probable win total:  5-7
Will make a bowl if:  they beat either Maryland or Illinois on the road.
Won't make a bowl if:  they lose to both Maryland or Illinois on the road.

8.  Nebraska
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  6-7 (3-5) (Foster Farms Bowl - W)
Remaining likely wins:  Wyoming (9/10), Illinois (10/1), Purdue (10/22), Minnesota (11/12), Maryland (11/19)
Remaining likely losses:  at Wisconsin (10/29), at Ohio State (11/5), at Iowa (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  Oregon (9/17), at Northwestern (9/24), at Indiana (10/15)
Toughest game:  at Ohio State (11/5)
Probable win total:  6-8
Will make a bowl if:  they don't completely shit the bed at home.
Won't make a bowl if:  Lawrence Phillips starts showing up in players' dreams.

9.  Northwestern
2016 record:  0-1
2015 record:  10-3 (6-2) (Outback Bowl - L)
Remaining likely wins:  Illinois State (9/10), Duke (9/17), Purdue (11/12), Illinois (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  at Iowa (10/1), at Michigan State (10/15), at Ohio State (10/29)
Remaining toss-ups:  Nebraska (9/24), Indiana (10/22), Wisconsin (11/5), at Minnesota (11/19)
Toughest game:  at Ohio State (10/29)
Probable win total:  7-9
Will make a bowl if:  they can stop fumbling on the goal line.
Won't make a bowl if:  they lose to Duke in what should be an annual game called "The Battle of the Brains."

10.  Ohio State
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  12-1 (7-1) (Fiesta Bowl - W)
Remaining likely wins:  Tulsa (9/10), Rutgers (10/1), Indiana (10/8), at Penn State (10/22), Northwesten (10/29), Nebraska (11/5), at Maryland (11/12)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  at Oklahoma (9/17), at Wisconsin (10/15), at Michigan State (11/19), Michigan (11/26)
Toughest game:  at Michigan State (11/19)
Probable win total:  10-12
Will make a bowl if:  Urban Meyer is still alive in November.
Won't make a bowl if:  God finally smites Ohio.

11.  Penn State
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  7-6 (4-4) (TaxSlayer Bowl - L)
Remaining likely wins:  Temple (9/17), Minnesota (10/1), Maryland (10/8), at Purdue (10/29), at Rutgers (11/19)
Remaining likely losses:  at Michigan (9/24), Ohio State (10/22), Michigan State (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  at Pitt (9/10), Iowa (11/5), at Indiana (11/12)
Toughest game:  at Michigan (9/24)
Probable win total:  6-8
Will make a bowl if:  they continue to sweep years and years of rampant child molestation under the rug, all in the sake of lionizing a man who knew about it and didn't say anything.
Won't make a bowl if:  they manage to lose to Purdue and/or Rutgers on the road.

12.  Purdue
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  2-10 (1-7)
Remaining likely wins:  none
Remaining likely losses:  at Maryland (10/1), at Illinois (10/8), Iowa (10/15), at Nebraska (10/22), Penn State (10/29), at Minnesota (11/5), Northwestern (11/12), Wisconsin (11/19), at Indiana (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  Cincinnati (9/10), Nevada (9/24)
Toughest game:  Wisconsin (11/19)
Probable win total:  1-3
Will make a bowl if:  every Big Ten team they play comes down with dysentery on game day.
Won't make a bowl if:  they play football.

13.  Rutgers
2016 record:  0-1
2015 record:  4-8 (1-7)
Remaining likely wins:  Howard (9/10), New Mexico (9/17)
Remaining likely losses:  Iowa (9/24), at Ohio State (10/1), Michigan (10/8), Illinois (10/15), at Minnesota (10/22), Indiana (11/5), at Michigan State (11/12), Penn State (11/19), at Maryland (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest game:  at Ohio State (10/1)
Probable win total:  1-3
Will make a bowl if:  they move to the Sun Belt this season.
Won't make a bowl if:  Bruce Springsteen is also still from New Jersey.

14.  Wisconsin
2016 record:  1-0
2015 record:  10-3 (6-2) (Holiday Bowl - W)
Remaining likely wins:  Akron (9/10), Georgia State (9/17), Nebraska (10/29), Illinois (11/12), at Purdue (11/19), Minnesota (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  at Michigan State (9/24), at Michigan (10/1), at Iowa (10/22)
Remaining toss-ups:  Ohio State (10/15), at Northwestern (11/5)
Toughest game:  at Michigan (10/1)
Probable win total:  8-10
Will make a bowl if:  the student section decides to drink a beer or two before each home game.
Won't make a bowl if:  they start a strict diet of only fried cheese curds.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Thirtysomething male to his mother, who is walking to the car to go to church: "Say hi to Jesus for me."
Four-year-old girl: "Jesus?!  I thought he was dead already."
--LaGrange, IL
Eavesdropper: Jesterio the Magnificent

Friday, September 02, 2016

Hair Band Friday - 9/2/16

1.  "The Final Countdown" by Europe


2.  "Tragic Comic" by Extreme


3.  "Hello America" by Def Leppard


4.  "She Wants More" by Slaughter


5.  "City to City" by Ratt


6.  "Fits Like a Glove" by Kiss


7.  "Living In Sin" by Bon Jovi


8.  "Mama, I'm Coming Home" by Ozzy Osbourne


9.  "Heartless Heart" by Dokken


10.  "Locomotive (Complicity)" by Guns N' Roses

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Summer Girls" by LFO

I've been insanely busy lately, rewatching all of the Olympics reverse-chronologically.  Hence, I didn't have time to post a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  But I hope to make it up to you by posting a fun and exciting Retro Video of the Week.  Last week marked the 17th anniversary of the day I met Jester.  It was at a fraternity party, and we hit it off quite well.  Among the songs that played in the background while we talked about Otis Redding, travelling, and all the kids we were going to eventually have together was LFO's ridiculous hit "Summer Girls."  It's basically just a stream of consciousness recitation of people, places, and things that are in no way related, but hey, they rhyme sometimes.  The song hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same month I met my future wife (and I'm pretty sure she was wearing at least one article of clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch), so it will forever have a place in my heart.

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.