Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten: Beatles Songs

Last week, I got a bunch of emails from friends (and several from enemies, oddly) with links to Rolling Stone's upcoming list of the Top 10 Beatles songs, which is a glimpse of a special Rolling Stone issue counting down what it perceives to be the Top 100 Beatles songs.

Here are Rolling Stone's Top 10:

10. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
9. "Come Together"
8. "Let It Be"
7. "Hey Jude"
6. "Something"
5. "In My Life"
4. "Yesterday"
3. "Strawberry Fields Forever"
2. "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
1. "A Day in the Life"

To me, there is no debate as to the greatest band in rock history because The Beatles are so far ahead of everyone else that any debate is pointless. What they did to rock and roll, transforming it from a fad to an art form, cannot be understated -- and they did it over a span of roughly seven years, which makes it even that much more impressive. Think about that. They released 13 studio albums in 7 years. By contrast, U2 has only released 12 studio albums in their 30 years of existence. The Beatles invaded America in February 1964 with "I Want to Hold Your Hand." A mere three years later they came out with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Three years after that, they had broken up. Anyone who doesn't own every single Beatles studio album is doing themselves a disservice. Everything since 1964 has been influenced in some way by The Beatles. (And yes, Jester, The Beatles are more important in the history of the world than Picasso.)

Admittedly, I discovered The Beatles late. Until about my junior or senior year of high school, all I had was the blue 1967-1970 greatest hits double album (which I had only obtained my sophomore year at the earliest). I bought Abbey Road at some point either junior or senior year, and I thought it was awesome. You may not know this, but IU has the top-ranked music school in the world. One of the perks for non-music majors is that the School of Music offers several rock and roll history classes. I took a few of them (and wish I had taken more), including Z202 second semester of my freshman year. That class focused on the '60s, and the first two weeks were devoted to The Beatles. How had I not discovered all of these songs before? Maybe I just assumed the songs on the greatest hits album were the best they had to offer. Boy was I wrong. Those two weeks transformed me from someone who liked The Beatles into someone who loved The Beatles. I bought as many albums as I could afford (used, of course), listening to them religiously while I studied, and even ended up taking The Beatles class my junior year. Yes, you read that correctly -- there is an entire class devoted to The Beatles. I would be hard-pressed to find a greater college course offered at any university in the history of the world.

Now, one of the many joys of fatherhood is that I am actually awake on Sunday mornings in time to hear most, if not all, of WXRT's "Breakfast With The Beatles" while I feed Daughter her breakfast and help her train for the crawl races and baby fights we enter her in each Sunday afternoon. Thus far, she has not indicated verbally which is her favorite Beatles song, but she has, on occasion, said what could be confused for "yeah yeah yeah."

Obviously Beatles songs (just like songs in general) impact everyone differently. For instance, my history of rock and roll professor, Dr. Glenn Gass -- who may be the biggest Beatles fan on the face of the earth and was my favorite teacher at any level -- told one of my classes (either Z202 or The Beatles class) that after John Lennon died, he was fine for a period of several days or maybe even weeks. Then he was sitting in Bear's Place, a restaurant in Bloomington across the street from the music school, eating lunch by himself when The Beatles' cover of "Please Mr. Postman" (which is sung by John) came over the jukebox. Hearing that set unleashed the emotions about John's death that he had been apparently suppressing broke free, and he just broke down and started crying. Now, every time I hear that song, I think of Professor Gass, and the meaning of the song for me has changed.

All of this is to say that my Top 10 Beatles songs differ from Rolling Stone's Top 10 Beatles songs (which I think is a pretty fair list, mind you, aside from "Come Together"), and they probably differ from your Top 10 Beatles songs.

It was a near impossible task to pick my Top 10 songs. Right off the bat, I came up with over 30. The top five were not hard, but many of the songs in the Honorable Mention category could very well be in the top ten. With that, here are my Top 10 Beatles songs. For everyone's convenience, I included the name of the album and year of release after each song (and obviously no Beatles songs are on Playlist.com, so I included links to songs where available):

Honorable mention: "Anna (Go to Him)" (Please Please Me, 1963), "There's a Place" (Please Please Me, 1963), "Twist and Shout" (Please Please Me, 1963), "All I've Got to Do" (With the Beatles, 1963), "If I Fell" (A Hard Day's Night, 1964), "I'll Be Back" (A Hard Day's Night, 1964), "Nowhere Man" (Rubber Soul, 1965), "Wait" (Rubber Soul, 1965), "Day Tripper" (Past Masters Vol. 2, 1965), "We Can Work It Out" (Past Masters Vol. 2, 1965), "Rain" (Past Masters Vol. 2, 1966), "She Said She Said" (Revolver, 1966), "Lovely Rita" (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967), "Baby You're a Rich Man" (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967), "Revolution" (Past Masters Vol. 2, 1968), "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (The White Album, 1968), "I'm So Tired" (The White Album, 1968), "Hey Bulldog" (Yellow Submarine, 1969), The Abbey Road medley (Abbey Road, 1969), "Don't Let Me Down" (Past Masters Vol. 2, 1969)

10 (tie). "A Day in the Life" (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967) and "I've Just Seen a Face" (Help!, 1965)
I could choose between these two, so I included both of them. It's my list, so deal with it. "A Day in the Life" is an awesome song (as evidenced by the fact that it tops Rolling Stone's list) that melds a John song with a Paul song to come up with a the final fantastic product. If you crank it loud enough, you can hear the piano bench creak when someone moves during the sustained final piano chord. "I've Just Seen a Face" is a classic Paul song -- a well-crafted pop song about a lady. The verses are fast-paced, and the chorus is short but gratifying.

9. "Helter Skelter" (The White Album, 1968)
Like I said above, Beatles songs have different meanings for different people. For example, when I hear the lyrics "When I get to the bottom / I go back to the top of the slide / Where I stop and turn / And I go for a ride / Till I get to the bottom and I see you again," I understand "Helter Skelter" to be a kickass rock song about a spiral slide that caused Ringo to get blisters on his fingers. If you're Charles Manson, however, this served as a warning about an impending worldwide race war, prompting you to go on a killing spree. Time will tell which one of us is right, but I feel like Manson really missed the boat on this one.

8. "This Boy" (Past Masters Vol. 1, 1963)
This was an early B-side, with a definite doo-wop/bubblegum pop feel to it. One of the things I love about it is John's double-tracked vocals. There is something powerful about hearing two John's sing in unison, especially when he kicks in to "Ooohhh, and this boy, would be happy just to looooove you, but oh my my my-hi-hi-hi."

7. "I'm a Loser" (Beatles For Sale, 1964)
Who writes a song calling himself a loser? John Lennon, that's who. After discovering Bob Dylan, Lennon began to write more introspectively, and this is a great self-loathing song that hits home with anyone who has been in a failed relationship. "I'm a loser / And I'm not what I appear to be." In 1964, no one was writing lyrics like that.

6. "Sexy Sadie" (The White Album, 1968)
I once owned a black '89 Accord that I named Sexy Sadie. She met her fate when I hydroplaned off Indiana State Road 46 about ten miles west of Spencer and hit a tree going about 60 mph. The song that was playing when I hit the tree? "Sexy Sadie." I couldn't make that up. Well, I could. But I didn't.

5. "And Your Bird Can Sing" (Revolver, 1966)
This a short and sweet rocker, and it's my favorite song off of Revolver. I especially love the outtake version of this that is on the Anthology, when the group is cracking up throughout the entire song, sometimes to the point of not even being able to sing. I assume there were some herbal jazz cigarettes involved.

4 (tie). "I've Got a Feeling" and "Dig a Pony" (Let It Be, 1970)
During the second semester of my sophomore year of college, I didn't do so well with the ladies. Much of that stemmed from the fact that I had my heart broken right after New Years, so I was in a period of intense self-loathing and woman hating (and listening to a lot of Derek & The Dominos). Thus, what would often happen at 3 or 4 a.m. after a party is that I, along with "Crazy Legs" Hirst and "Mounty" Belanger (and, on occasion, others), would enjoy a nightcap or three whilst blaring the Let It Be album and singing along at the top of our lungs. It was a nice release of pent-up frustration (primal scream therapy, perhaps), and everyone loves to sing when they're hammered regardless. "I've Got a Feeling" and "Dig a Pony" were the songs from the album that I remember singing along to most often -- and I mean really belting them out. Needless to say, despite my horrific drought that semester, I have some extremely fond memories (hazy as they may be). Coincidentally, it was the only semester I got a 4.0, which means that women only brought my GPA down.

3. "Let It Be" (Let It Be, 1970)
This is just a perfectly crafted pop song with a great message: when things get crazy, just calm down. Of course, it was written at a time when the band was self-destructing, which makes it even more poignant. I don't have anything else to say about it, other than it's clearly better than any song I've ever written.

2. "In My Life" (Rubber Soul, 1965)
The first time I remember hearing "In My Life" was in my Z202 history of rock and roll class the spring of my freshman year. After class, I immediately walked to the closest used CD store and bought Rubber Soul. What I love about "In My Life" is not only that it's a sweet and powerful love song, but it also has this element of sadness and nostalgia that I think makes the song transcendent. You could play this song at a wedding or a funeral, and it would be appropriate either way. Every time I hear the intro and "There are places I'll remember," I get goosebumps. If I was capable of crying, this song would make me cry.

1. "Happiness is a Warm Gun" (The White Album, 1968)
I don't know what it is about this song, but I've loved it since the first time I heard it. Junior and senior year of college (and in law school), I used to listen to it to psych myself up before flag football games. It's still on my running mix (were I to run). Legend has is John wrote the song after producer George Martin showed him the cover of a gun magazine with the title "Happiness is a warm gun." The song has three distinct parts. It's kind of eerie at the beginning with John singing "She's not a girl who misses much." You expect him to explain why, which he does, but it makes no sense, as the song kicks into this raunchy fuzzed-out guitar chord. The remainder of the lyrics in the first part are fascinating, mostly because they make no sense whatsoever and are apparently the result of an acid trip. Then the song switches to John repeating the phrase "Mother Superior jumped the gun" for 30 seconds or so while someone plays a tambourine. Then the song switches into kind of a neo-doo wop song, where John belts out the only lucid lyrics in the song -- sexually suggestive lyrics that are not actually about putting his finger on your trigger while the rest of the guys sing "bang bang shoot shoot" in the background. All the while, the song switches tempo and time at several points. In the hands of anyone else, what I have just described to you would be a catastrophe. In the hands of The Beatles, however, it is a masterpiece.

I'd like to say thank you on behalf of myself, and I hope I passed the audition. Thoughts, questions, concerns? What are your top 10?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Terrible High School Football Play

It's always fun to watch other people fail, especially emotionally fragile teenagers whose blunders are broadcast to the world. Check out this link to see what is accurately described as an "epic football fail." That's gonna be a tough one to ever live down. You would think after the first 25 lost yards, he would take a knee because, you know, that's better than complete and utter submission. There's also a clip from that Vermont high school game last year that ended in disaster, which, frankly, I think is worse. Good times.

New Book: Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert Ressler and Tom Shachtman

I recently finished When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris, and it was pretty funny. It was my first David Sedaris book, and I wasn't disappointed. Essentially, it's a collection of stories from his life, focusing on when he lived in France and when he quit smoking, with some random stories thrown in there. Sedaris tells a good story, and I found myself laughing out loud on the L multiple times.

As you may know, I'm fascinated by serial killers. I'm pretty sure I should have gone into forensic psychology instead of trapeze artistry, but then again, I should have done a lot of things differently. Anyway, per the recommendation of Ari, I started reading Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert Ressler and Tom Shachtman. Ressler is a former FBI profiler who coined the term "serial killer," and the book recounts his efforts to profile and track down serial killers. Thus far, it's pretty good.

Books read in 2010:
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Happy Hour is for Amateurs by The Philadelphia Lawyer
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
Open by Andre Agassi
Too Fat to Fish by Artie Lange
Graceland by Chris Abani
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wu-Tang Baby Nicknames

One of the most important aspects of naming a child is figuring out what, if any, nicknames are easily derived from potential names. A nickname can literally make or break a child, figuratively. For instance, when we came up with the name Daughter for our daughter, there were no bad nicknames associated with the name. But there was a completely awesome nickname: Ol' Daughter Bastard.

First, Chappelle's Show brought you Wu-Tang Financial. Now, since I'm weird, I bring you Wu-Tang Baby Nicknames -- nicknames based on Wu-Tang Clan members that you should think about if you want your kid to be a total badass.

-Rzosalyn (or Rzosalynn, depending on how you might spell it, or Rzosalie if you're a Thin Lizzy fan)
-Rzaef (I know a lot of you weren't thinking about Raef as a possible name for a boy, but this could change your mind)


Method Man
-Bethod Man (or the more formal Elizabethod Man, or even Mary Bethod Man)
-Method Dan
-Metheodore Man (or the less formal Metheo Man or Methted Man)

-Raekwon (or Norma Raekwon)

Inspectah Deck
-Inspectah Declan (this is my favorite)

Ol' Dirty Bastard
-Ol' Dirty Barry
-Olden Dirty Bastard (my shout-out to Olden Polynice)
-Olivia Dirty Bastard
-Orenthal Dirty Bastard
-Ol' Donny Bastard
-Ol' Dolly Bastard (This is particularly relevant where Dolly is born to unwed parents. Frankly, if you're having a kid and aren't married, you should probably steer clear of the name Dolly for this exact reason.)
-Of course, you can also go off on a tangent with some of his aliases. I suggest O.D. Bea, Dirt McGertrude (this is my second favorite overall), Big Baby Jesús, or simply Osirus.

Ghostface Killah
-Ghostface Kyle
-Ghostface Kyla
-Ghostface Klily (or the more formal Ghostface Klillian)


Masta Killa
-Marissta Killa
-Marcia Killa
-Chesta Killa (of course Chesta Killa is not the first nickname one thinks of for someone named Chester, so keep that in mind)
-Masta Kisabella
-Miasta Killa


I encourage you to post any suggestions you might have in the comments.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten: Movies from the 1990s

Ahh, the '90s -- where the biggest thing we had to worry about was whether our president got a BJ. Good times. Having gone from 12 to 22 during the '90s, it was obviously a pretty important decade for me, as I transformed from a cocksure pre-teen into a carefree college senior.

Being in junior high and high school for the first six years of the decade and then sitting on a couch a getting drunk for the last four years meant that I watched a ton of movies during the '90s. Some of my favorite movies came out in the '90s, and here are what I consider my top ten (plus a few). As you can see, I lean towards the comedy.

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): American Beauty (1999), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), Billy Madison (1995), Casino (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), Clerks. (1994), Dogma (1999), Fight Club (1999), Goodfellas (1990), Happy Gilmore (1996), Heat (1995), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Pulp Fiction (1994), Scream (1996), The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

10 (tie). Tommy Boy (1995)
HBO has recently been running Tommy Boy, and I forgot how great of a movie it is. There are so many lines from Tommy Boy that have become part of the common lexicon.

10 (tie). Rushmore (1999)
Wes Anderson's first mainstream success was just brilliant. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman both killed in this movie. It's so quirky and dry that a lot of people don't like it or don't get its humor. I call those people "idiots."

10 (tie). Boyz n the Hood (1991)
When this movie came out, no one had really made a movie about life in South Central LA before, and this was a masterpiece that countered gangsta rap's romanticized view of thug life. Cuba Gooding, Jr. made his big screen debut, as did Ice Cube. If you tell me you didn't shed a tear when Ricky gets shot – or when his mom soon after reads that he got a high enough SAT score to qualify for an athletic scholarship to USC – then you are a damn liar. Actually, I didn't shed a tear, but that's because I am incapable of outwardly exhibiting emotion.

10 (tie). Tombstone (1993)
This movie is simply awesome. Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday is probably the best work of his career (aside from maybe Real Genius). This is another one that has so many great lines. I don't know how many times I've referred to a woman as a "dusky-hued lady Satan."

9. Swingers (1996)
Jessie should hate this movie because it introduced me to scotch. I like scotch.

8. Office Space (1999)
If you've ever worked in an office, this movie is hilarious. Actually, even if you've never worked in an office, this movie is hilarious.

7. Beautiful Girls (1996)
This is a fantastic and underrated movie. I don't know why it's not more well-known. It does have a great ensemble cast, featuring Timothy Hutton, Michael Rappaport, Matt Dillon, Lauren Holly, Mira Sorvino, Rosie O'Donnell, Martha Plimpton, and, of course, a young Natalie Portman.

6. Dumb & Dumber (1994)
I saw this a couple weeks ago for the first time in years, and I was reminded why I laughed so hard I cried when I saw this in the theater.

5. Waiting for Guffman (1997)
Spinal Tap aside, this was the first of the Christopher Guest "mockumentary" films, about a play celebrating Blaine, Missouri's sesquicentennial put on by the townspeople and written and directed by a man named Corky St. Clair who collects My Dinner With Andre action figures. It's hilarious, and it's definitely one of those movies that gets funnier the more you watch it because there are so many little one-liners.

4. Braveheart (1995)
For most of the late '90s, my inner monologue was in a Scottish accent because of this movie. I still hate the English.

3. Mallrats (1995)
This is my favorite Kevin Smith movie. It's sophomoric and crude, while at the same time very witty. Jason Lee is so damn funny in this movie.

2. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Since the first time I saw this (when I was 16) it has been one of my favorite movies, and I don't foresee that ever changing. Jessie should also hate this movie because it made me want to get drunk.

1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
This might be one of the greatest movies of all-time. The story is great. The characters are phenomenal. The dialogue is second to none. Hell, it now has its own traveling fest. Mark it zero. Next frame.

Monday, August 23, 2010


As you may know, I have some pretty weird dreams. Last night, I had a pretty good one. The first thing of note is that I had gotten a huge tattoo of "TORONTO 4 LIFE" in connected block letters draped like a giant necklace around the top of my torso a few inches below where a t-shirt collar would be. Guys, I wish I could have somehow taken a picture of this thing. It was massive. The letters had to be about 4 inches tall. It was just an outline, probably because it would have cost several thousand dollars to fill in. Aside from the size of the tattoo, this is particularly astounding because, not only am I not Canadian, but I have never been to Toronto. Even in the dream, I was looking in the mirror and thinking, "Good God, this is huge. When the hell did I get this? Better yet, what prompted me to get this?" My in-dream reasoning? "It must have been because there are so many Canadian Second City alumni." Even in my dream, I wasn't satisfied with that answer.

But I had more important things to worry about than a giant tattoo proclaiming my undying devotion to a city I've never visited. You see, in the same dream, I was also friends with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. We were staying at the same hotel (Atlantis on Paradise Island, I believe), and he mentioned that he needed a running back. Looking past the fact that I had a dream in which I was staring at my bare chest while speaking to Pete Carroll, I was also conveniently good friends with Duce Staley -- yes, the very same Duce Staley who retired from the NFL after the 2006 season. I shot Duce a text to see if he wanted to give the NFL another shot, and I quickly got a text back that he would be interested in speaking with Carroll. It all made sense. Duce Staley is technically a free agent, and would likely be a pretty cheap option. And he had three 1,000-yard seasons during his career -- approximately two more than current Seahawks running backs Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, and Quinton Ganther combined. Carroll was intrigued, but not entirely sold on it.

Right around this time, the alarm went off. Usually Jessie showers at night and I shower in the morning, but this morning both of us had to shower (night sweats). After hitting snooze a few times, she volunteered to shower first. I immediately agreed because, in my half-asleep state, I was thinking to myself, "Perfect. That'll give me some more time to wrap up this Staley/Carroll deal." It didn't.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yet Another Reason Jay Mariotti is a Raging Asshole

As you've probably heard by now, ESPN personality and former Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti was arrested after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. This is a bit of shock, since Mariotti is a fag. But what disturbs me most about this is that there is actually someone in the world who allows Jay Mariotti stick his dick in her. Disgusting.

Happy Saturday

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Midwestern Eavesdropping - 8/19/10

Drunk guy to cabbie with broken hand: "Veins aren't important."
--Chicago, somewhere on Sheffield
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Bumper sticker: "LOST YOUR CAT? Try looking under my tires"
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Drunk Guy 1 (pointing to girl): "Wasn't that the girl you used to fuck?"
Drunk Guy 2: "No no no. She is much skinnier and much more attractive."
--Chicago, Rock Box, Lincoln & Sheffield
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Thirtysomething fifth grade teacher: "What the hell is a pork skin? Is it like a lamb skin?"
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, to crowd at Lollapalooza: "This song is about -- it's either about fighting a shark or fucking someone. I haven't decided yet."
--Chicago, Grant Park
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Twentysomething special ed teacher: "Nothing has been in my butthole that has ever been comfortable."
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Twentysomething fourth grade teacher: "Drinking is actually helping my vision."
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Thirtysomething female at Lollapalooza: "That's what I would call my band: Find a Hound Dog."
--Chicago, Grant Park
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Drunk midwestern hillbilly: "The Keystone is here to sober us up after the Jager."
-Hopedale, IL
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Twentysomething special ed teacher: "I haven't yacked from puking in a while."
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

As we do from time to time, here are some MWE-worthy photos:
The actual text:
Passenger side: "I love gay porn"
Windshield: (massive dong, ejaculating)
Driver side: "Little boys enter here, candy's in here"
--Columbus, OH, Irish pub parking lot
Eavesdropper: The Ulltimate Lactose Hater

And then there was this, which is from a newscast on Chicago's ABC affiliate:
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

As usual, thanks to all those who contributed. When you overhear (or see) something funny, email it to gmyhblog@yahoo.com for inclusion in the next exciting edition of Midwestern Eavesdropping.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Universal Truth

Hipsters ruin everything.

(I can't take credit for this one. I read it on a t-shirt at Lollapalooza. But it's true, universally.)

Tuesday Top Ten: Songs I Listened To Yesterday

Don't ever become a trapeze artist. Yesterday, I again worked straight through lunch. When I got home, my hands and the backs of my knees were too sore for me to think about writing. Then I watched the Sox lose in spectacular fashion. In sum, I forgot to do a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday, and I can't apologize enough.

Trapeze artistry also has a tendency to drain my creativity. This was the first list I came up with that I would be able to write in my limited available time. I listened to 110 songs while I was at work yesterday. Here are the top ten, in the order I heard them. Those songs available on Playlist.com are embedded below for your listening pleasure and the songs not available on Playlist.com have links to YouTube, so that you might have as awesome a day as I did.

10. "Fighting My Way Back" by Thin Lizzy
9. "Hard Luck Woman" by Kiss
8. "Taper Jean Girl" by Kings of Leon
7. "It's All Right" by The Impressions
6. "Texas Flood" by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
5. "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5
4. "Hey Bulldog" by The Beatles
3. "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" by The Hold Steady
2. "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe
1. "Steppin' Out" by Cream

Honorable mention: "No Surrender" by Bruce Springsteen; "The Difference" by The Wallflowers; "Submission" by Sex Pistols; "Out Ta Get Me" by Guns N' Roses; "Next Girl" by The Black Keys; "Player's Ball" by OutKast; "Hits From the Bong" by Cypress Hill; "Gypsy Eyes" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience; "Animal" by Def Leppard; "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Bar to Check Out

You know I'm a fan of Rocks. It's a perfect neighborhood bar: great food, good beer and whiskey selection, good prices, friendly staff, and good jukebox. Well, the guys from Rocks just opened up a third bar (their second is Rocks Lakeview), which is called The Pitch. It's at 2142 N. Clybourn in Lincoln Park, where Cagney's was most recently and, in the past, Jack Sullivan's and one of the Barleycorn locations. Apparently, joining the guys from Rocks is the technical director of the Chicago Fire -- the Major League Soccer team, not Mrs. O'Leary's cow. Hence, in addition to much of the standard Bears, Bulls, Hawks, Cubs, and Sox stuff, there is a bunch of Fire memorabilia. The space is pretty much the same -- tons of TVs, a huge open space with many hi-top tables and booths along the south wall.

Jester, Daughter, and I were out walking around, asking homeless people for money and taunting birds, when we walked past The Pitch and decided to stop in for a bite to eat. The menu has some of the same items as the two Rocks locations, but it has a lot of new stuff. We decided to try some of the new items. As expected, the food was great. For an appetizer, we got pulled pork sliders with gouda and some other kind of cheese. They were awesome. Unlike the two Rocks locations, The Pitch has pizza. We got a buffalo chicken pizza, which was also awesome. And our waitress was expectedly friendly. All in all, it was a pleasant experience, and I recommend you check it ou, especially if you want to go somewhere to watch a soccer game.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten: Shows I Saw at Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza was this past weekend in Grant Park. Once again, it was three surprisingly well-organized days of peace, love, music, and people dressed like every kind of idiot you could imagine. I mean, seriously, who wears black leggings or a button-up shirt and tie of a Green Man costume to an outdoor music festival in August in Chicago? Idiots, that's who.

Aside from having to walk to House of Blues to get a cab Sunday night – after waiting 25 minutes for a Brown Line that never came – the weekend was fantastic. They expanded the grounds this year (and added 20,000 tickets per day), which made it feel less crowded, offered more shade to relax in, and cut down on bathroom lines. On top of that, Friday and Saturday were under 90 degrees, which is unusual for Lolla and a welcome addition. Thanks, Perry!

They also had added beverage tents and had a ton of local food, including burgers from Kuma's Corner (I suggest the Iron Maiden) and lobster corn dogs from Graham Elliot, in addition to various pizzas, pulled pork, Mexican, Asian, and other options.

But I don't go to Lolla every year to eat food and piss with ease. With over 140 bands playing over three days, there were plenty of musical options to fuel my soul. What I particularly liked about this year is that there weren't a lot of smaller bands that I knew very well, which left me more room to explore bands I wasn't familiar with. Plus, with the way the stages were set up, there were many times where I could see half of one band, then catch the second half of another band playing at the same time.

I saw (or only heard, depending on how tall the people in front of me were) at least 15 minutes of the following bands:

Los Amigos Invisibles
The Walkmen
American Bang
My Dear Disco
Drive-By Truckers
Cymbals Eat Guitars
New Pornographers
F**k Buttons
The Black Keys
Jimmy Cliff
The Strokes

Wild Beasts
Blues Traveler
The xx
Royal Bangs
Social Distortion
Slightly Stoopid
Green Day

Company of Thieves
Band of Heathens
The Ike Reilly Assassination
Mumford & Sons
Violent Soho
Frightened Rabbit
Cypress Hill
Arcade Fire

Of those, here are my top ten:

10. Los Amigos Invisibles
I saw only a few of their songs when I arrived early Friday afternoon. They are a Venezuelan band, who came highly recommended, oddly enough, by my Venezuelan friend Daniel. They are described as "smooth-groovin' space-funk acid jazz," which somehow makes sense. I would describe their sound as a kind of Latin Jamiroquai. The show was pure energy, and exactly the kind of band I was happy to see as soon as I arrived for the weekend.

9. The Black Keys
I've seen them many times, both at festivals and in proper music venues, and they never disappoint. Dan Auerbach howls and makes his guitar sound all fuzzy, while Patrick Carney punishes his drums for all their misgivings. Apparently since the release of their new album, Brothers, they have been touring with a bassist and keyboardist, but they only came out when the band played three or four songs from Brothers. My only gripe is that I didn't get to hear "10 a.m. Automatic." C'mon!

8. Hockey
I recently bought their album, Mind Chaos, after hearing a couple songs here and there on the radio and thinking they were pretty catchy. It's definitely an '80s-inspired, new wave-type sound. They put on an energetic show. The lead singer has a better voice than fashion sense, but I suppose that could be said for anyone wearing skinny shorts and a tank top. I'm mad I missed "Song Away," which I assume was one of the first couple songs, which I missed.

7. Wolfmother
Last time I saw them was several years ago at Lolla, and they have gone through a line-up change and put out another album since then. I was really far from the stage last time I saw them, so I got up pretty close this time, and enjoyed their brand of Zeppelin and Sabbath-inspired hard rock. Gibson SGs and soaring vocals are always a good thing.

6. Harlem
This is another band I'd never heard of or heard before they stepped on stage. I'm just gonna put it out there that I love it when band members switch instruments throughout a show. It's just cool. These guys did that. Aside from their multitalentedness (and assuming that's a word), these guys played great music. I would describe their sound catchy punky garage rock, inspired by The Ramones, surf rock, and '60s garage rock. They seem like a band that would be on Little Steven's Underground Garage, which is always good thing.

5. Frightened Rabbit
This is yet another band I'd never seen or heard of before I saw them. These guys are from Scotland, so they pretty much just could have talked for an hour and I would have been mesmerized. But they didn't, and I was impressed nonetheless. They played Sunday afternoon, which was hot as hell, and they kept the crowd pumped up. Plus, their most recent album is called The Winter of Mixed Drinks.

4. Company of Thieves
I had only heard one song from this Chicago-based band before Sunday. Jester has "Oscar Wilde" on her iPod, and it's an infectious little song, so I didn't put up a fight when she said she wanted to see them. They put on a great set, and they had a pretty good crowd, considering it was 1 p.m. on Sunday and raining. I would describe the lead singer as a sprite, and I'm pretty sure she was wearing a figure skating outfit with an octopus on it (or, as I called it "squid tits").

3. The Strokes
I have been wanting to see The Strokes for a long time, so I went with them over Lady Gaga (who was apparently more interested in ranting than singing). The decision was a good one, even if The Strokes did end 15 minutes early. They mostly played stuff from their first two albums, which I liked (not that I dislike their third album).

2. American Bang
As you may know, I like the rock and roll, particularly good old-fashioned, shit-kicking rock. That's what American Bang plays -- the kind of rock that makes you want to drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes. I had never heard of these guys before I saw them Friday afternoon. I'm glad Chandler and I wandered over to the stage they were playing on because they kicked ass. The sample song on the Lolla website sounds a little Kings of Leon-eqsue (which isn't a bad thing, but not as hard as their other songs), but like I said, they play straight-up hard rock with a little bit of a Southern twang (as they are from Nashville), and better yet, they look like rockers and put on a rocking, energetic show. If you like The Answer or Township, then definitely check these guys out if they roll through your burg.

1. Green Day
I had never seen Green Day before, and they headlined Saturday night. Not that I wasn't expecting a good show, but they were awesome. They're set was what I think is a Lollapalooza record of 2 hours and 15 minutes, and they kept it high-energy the whole time, from pyrotechnics to bringing fans on stage (including one lucky guy who got to sing "Longview"). They also played a mini-medley of "Iron Man," "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," "Sweet Child O' Mine," and "Highway to Hell," which was pretty sweet.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Hiding on the Backstreets

Sorry for the mini-hiatus. I've been watching minstrels perform in the park for the past several days. There will be a related update tomorrow. In the meantime, check out this awesome Springstreets map, which is, as the word combination implies, a map involving characters and places from Bruce Springsteen songs (thanks to Hess for the link).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

First Annual Chicago Big Ten Charity Bar Crawl

For all of you Big Ten alumni and friends in Chicago, if you don't already know about this, on Saturday August 28th will be the first annual Big Ten Charity Bar Crawl. If you're looking to do some day drinking for a good cause, this is your event.

Here are the details:
When: Saturday, August 28 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Chicago's River North neighborhood
Who: Big Ten alumni and friends
How much: $15 in advance; $20 day of. Until August 8, you can get discounted tickets by using the singular form of your mascot as a discount code (i.e., "hoosier" for the IU people and "skidmark" for the Purdue people).
Buy tickets here: http://www.ChicagoBIGTEN.org/

Here is a paraphased description of the event from the website:
Each school will call a River North bar home for the day. There will be 11 bars, each representing a different Big Ten school, with special campus-themed specials at each bar, in addition to $3 Budweisers and $5 Absolut at every stop. In addition to the drink specials, throughout the day, alumni will square off in rivalry contests and vie for prizes like a trip to Vegas at River North mainstays like Rockit, English, Bull and Bear, Social 25, and District.

The goal is to raise $25,000 for charity, with 100% of proceeds benefiting Alumni for Public Schools, a not-for-profit organization that promotes and supports volunteer partnerships between Chicago chapters of university alumni associates and individual Chicago public schools. The goal is to enhance student learning and increase students' awareness of and readiness for post-secondary options. Here is the charity's website: http://www.APS-Chicago.org/.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten: Things You Should Do With Your Life

10. Just start kidnapping people and don't even think twice about it.
9. Become a Viking.
8. Sing, god dammit.
7. Capture pigeons, paint them white, and sell them to magicians.
6. Start your own brewery. Better yet, start your own religion at your own brewery. Call it Breligion and don't even think twice about it.
5. Porn
4. Become an Airhead – that is, someone who follows Air Supply on tour.
3. Counsel clowns who have been raped by other clowns.
2. Along with your friend Lloyd, finally open that pet store you've always been talking about, I Got Worms.
1. Never go to law school and don't even think twice about it.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Universal Truth

Unless you were alive during the Eisenhower Administration, you should probably take off that fucking fedora.

New Book - When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

I finished Graceland by Chris Abani, and it was yet another stark reminder that I am glad I lived in Spring, Texas in 1983 and not a shanty town in Lagos, Nigeria. The story was about an Elvis impersonator, oddly enough named Elvis, who can't seem to find a steady gig, and whose mom is dead and dad is a drunk. Elvis gets himself into some pretty sticky situations, and the book gets pretty graphic in some spots, but I thought it was a good read.

After reading books about tennis players who hate playing tennis, suicidal heroin-addicted comedians, and living in squalor in constant fear of the military, I need something a little more lighthearted. Thus, I started reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. Having never read anything by Sedaris and having heard nothing but good things, I'm looking forward to it.

Books read in 2010:
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Happy Hour is for Amateurs by The Philadelphia Lawyer
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
Open by Andre Agassi
Too Fat to Fish by Artie Lange
Graceland by Chris Abani