Thursday, September 27, 2012

Random Things To Keep You Busy in My Absence

I'll be returning videotapes until John Lennon's birthday, so I will be unable to post anything during that time.  It would figuratively kill me (literally) if I were to leave you without anything to do during that time, so here are some links to enjoy. 

1.  First and foremost, in these pre-election times, it's important to let everyone know who you are and that you vote.  Go to And I Vote Stickers to buy any variety of bumper stickers (and a couple t-shirts) with ". . . and I vote" phrases, ranging from the mundane ("I'm a Republican and I vote") to the awesome ("I love metal and I vote") to the nonsensical ("I'm pro-histamine and I vote").

2.  While I am gone, I encourage you to take up knitting or kite surfing.  I do not, however, encourage you to take up butt chugging.  (Thanks, I guess, to Adam for the link).

3.  If you want to see how gullible and sheltered people can be, check out Literally Unbelievable, which posts interpretation of Onion articles from Facebook, Twitter, and media outlets.  The responses are hilarious.  It is literally unbelievable that people don't know The Onion is fake, especially when the stories are things like "Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle on Obama's Double-Homicide" or "Newborn Loses Faith in Humanity After Record 6 Days."  (Thanks to RDC for the link.)

4.  If you want to see what the most standoffish and disinterested quarterback in the National Football League would look like if he had cigarettes in his mouth, check out Smoking Jay Cutler.  (Thanks to Weez for the link.)

5.  Here's a good article from Grantland about The Darkness and Andrew W.K., both of whom I had the pleasure of seeing in concert this year.  Frankly, I never thought either has ever tried to be ironic in their music.  (Thanks to DBH for the link.)

6.  Mr. Belding is apparently now a professional wrestler, presumably named Beldo.  (Thanks to Allison for the link.)  I wonder if Nedick still needs someone his own size to pick on.

7.  Sketch comedy team Urlakis & Cusick is back this fall with another show at Stage 773 called Questionable Lullabies.  I saw their previous show last December, and it was hilarious.  As I mentioned then, I know Sean Cusick from Second City, and he is not only very funny, but really has a nose for good sketch comedy.  The show is at 8 p.m. on Fridays, October 12 through November 16, at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont in Chicago). Tickets are $15 and available online at or by calling 773-237-5252.  I will definitely be going at some point.

8.  An awesome article breaking down the second greatest music video of all-time, "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses (thanks to Weez for the link).  In case it wasn't obvious, "Take On Me" by a-ha is the greatest.

10.  Here is this week's Retro Video of the Week, "Back to the Hotel" by N2Deep, per the request of Tron.

11.  Here is next week's Retro Video of the Week, "Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge.  I implore you to dislike this song.  You cannot.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Book: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

A couple weeks ago, I finally finished reading Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales.  It was a bear of a book, at around 800 pages, but it was definitely an interesting read.  For the most part, it was a first-person, written oral history of ESPN, as told by the people who started ESPN and have worked there throughout the years, with the occasional third-person paragraph or page here and there to add context.  The book covers from when ESPN was started by a father and son who had a crazy idea for a 24-hour sports network in the late '70s to the present day (or at least until the book was written in 2010).  Just about everything you could imagine was covered, from contracts with leagues to the many on-air and web personalities to the many shows to the side networks (the Deuce, the Plus, the News, etc.) to radio to the magazine to the website.  I was happy to see that the book tackled some of the more controversial dust-ups that ESPN has had to deal with (sexual harassment issues, Rush Limbaugh, inflammatory on-air comments, the Erin Andrews peeping tom scandal, etc.).  It got slow in some parts, and there was more on some of the executives and contract negotiations than I really cared about, but overall, I would definitely recommend it for anyone who watches sports.

I have since started reading Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind, at the behest (or should I say behesst) of Hess, who recommended it to me a couple years ago, knowing my fascination with serial killers and hatred of perfume.  It's a novel about an 18th Century French serial killer who makes perfume out of his victims, or so I've been led to believe.  I haven't gotten that far yet.  By the way, I just now realized there are boobs on the front cover of the book.  This might explain why I have felt like people have been looking at the book longer than usual while I'm reading on the train.

Books read in 2012:
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked by Darrell Hammond
The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman

The Last Testament:  A Memoir by God by David Javerbaum
Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

This song was in my head today. It is, to the best of my recollection, the only rap or hip hop song that I have ever karaoked. Good stuff (the original, not my karaoke version).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Ridiculousness Top Ten Supershow

I completely forgot to write a Tuesday Top Ten this week, but I was watching some DVR'd episodes of Ridiculousness and laughing my ass off, as I tend to do when watching Ridiculousness, and I was reminded that they just had what they deemed their Top 10 Supershow.  In it, Rob counts down his ten favorite categories of clips from the annals of Ridiculousness.  It's embedded below or you can click here to watch it on MTV's website.  Enjoy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shit I Hate: High-Waisted Pants

I understand fashion is cyclical.  Fashion designers are lazy and unoriginal, so they regurgitate trends from 20-30 years ago and then try to convince you that the trends are once again chic because some 100-pound cokehead who smokes two packs a day and doesn't smile wears them on a runway for 20 seconds.  The latest crime against humanity is the resurrection of one of the worst fashion trends from the '70s and '80s this side of shoulder pads:  high-waisted jeans, pants, skirts, and shorts for women.  You know the ones I'm talking about –- you've seen them anywhere from Dazed and Confused to Saved By The Bell.  They come up to the belly button in the front and, in back, they make even the smallest ass look like an aircraft carrier.  We used to call them "mom jeans."  Seriously, women, why?  Have you come to a point in your life where you're thinking, "I need to move these Spanx to the outside"?  I had always assumed you hated things that make it look like you have a FUPA.  I know I do.  I hate anything that makes Mischa Barton look like this.  So, please ladies, I beg you to stop pandering to New York (or wherever it is these horrible ideas come to fruition) and just wear some regular fucking pants.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" (live) by Bruce Springsteen

To continue the Springsteen love fest, here is the video of my favorite Springsteen song.  Technically, this falls outside of the parameters of the Retro Video of the Week (beginning of MTV until 2000), since it was filmed in 1978, but MTV showed it, so I think it counts.  The video captures the energy and bliss of a live Springsteen show.  I love women rushing the stage throughout the song, especially the several at the very end who rush the stage just to make out with Bruce.  Also, Clarence has an awesome red suit.  Not that there's such thing as a non-awesome red suit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Springsteen Songs

I'm still basking in the euphoria of the Bruce Springsteen show Saturday night.  If you've never seen him, seriously, you need to do it next time you get the chance.  It's worth whatever you're going to pay.  For some reason, I thought I had already done a Tuesday Top Ten of my favorite Springsteen songs, but I have scoured the annals of GMYH and could not find anything.  This list will be heavy on older stuff, not because I don't like his newer stuff, but because I don't own much of it, so I'm not as familiar with it as I am with his classic stuff.  Anyway, here are my ten favorite Bruce Springsteen songs:

Honorable mention:  "The Promised Land" (1978, Darkness on the Edge of Town); "I'm a Rocker" (1980, The River); "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" (1980, The River); "Darlington County" (1984, Born in the U.S.A.); "No Surrender" (1984, Born in the U.S.A.)

10.  "Jungleland" (1975, Born to Run)
When Daughter was a newborn (and still unable to move around), I used to put Jester's iPod Touch in the crib with her and play the Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town albums on shuffle for Daughter as white noise to help her go to sleep.  For some reason, "Jungleland" often seemed to be one of the first couple songs that would come on when I'd hit "shuffle," so I would listen to it while I was giving Daughter her pre-bed bottle.  I had always like the song before, but apparently hadn't really concentrated on it as much as I should have.  It's an epic, for sure.  That beginning piano part is great, and I love the second verse, particularly the lines "The midnight gangs assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night / They'll meet 'neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light."  Great imagery.  It's like a scene from The Outsiders.

9.  "Candy's Room" (1978, Darkness on the Edge of Town)
"Candy's Room" is a hidden gem on Darkness on the Edge of Town.  It's a fast-paced, relatively short (less than 3 minutes) song with a catchy repeating riff and lyrics about a misunderstood hot chick who can have anyone and anything she wants, but all she wants is the narrator.

8.  "Born in the U.S.A." (1984, Born in the U.S.A.)
This is the first Springsteen song I ever remember hearing.  Back in the mid '80s, there was a lot of patriotism with the Cold War and all that nonsense, so even if you didn't understand what the lyrics were about (looking your way, Reagan), this was still a pretty important and iconic song.

7.  "Born to Run" (1975, Born to Run)
What can you say about "Born to Run" that hasn't already been said?  It's one of the greatest songs in rock and roll history, from the Wall-of-Sound production to that iconic chorus to Clarence's sax solo to the lyrics about getting the fuck out of your current situation even though you have no idea what lies in the great beyond.  When he shouts out that "1-2-3-4" just after the 3-minute mark and kicks into "the highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive," it's one of the greatest moments ever in a rock song.  One day I hope to work up the courage and vocal ability to sing this at karaoke.  I'm not ready yet.

6.  "Night" (1975, Born to Run)
This is one of those songs that I can't understand why it's not bigger.  It's frantic and catchy –- a celebration of the power the night holds when you're working at a job you hate.  The line "you work nine to five and somehow you survive till the night" has always stuck out to me.  Even in your first full-time job, whether that was a summer job in high school or a real job post-college, you're just working to get done with the day so you can forget about work at night.

5.  "Badlands" (1978, Darkness on the Edge of Town)
What a great anthem.  I'm surprised this isn't a bigger song.  You don't hear it on the radio as much as you should.  Like many of his songs, it's about getting out from where you are and improving your life.  You can't stop until these Badlands start treating us good.

4.  "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" (1981)
Not only is this one of my favorite holiday songs, it's one of my favorite Springsteen songs.  It's a live recording from December 1975, but was not released until 1981 (on a compilation of children's songs by popular artists) and has become a staple of holiday radio.  The song captures the essence of what makes Springsteen a great performer.  Even back in 1975, he was working the crowds like a pro while having a blast at the same time.

3.  "Glory Days" (1984, Born in the U.S.A.)
"Glory Days" is a song I take for granted at this point, often forgetting how much I love it.  As I get older, it becomes even more relevant.  If I ever own a bar, I will name it The Well because of the lyrics in this song, and every Friday night we'll have a bladder bust, so you can truly say, "Think I'm going down the well tonight.  I'm gonna drink till I get my fill."

2.  "Thunder Road" (1975, Born to Run)
Has there ever been a better song about escape?  And is there a better Springsteen lyric than "you ain't a beauty, but hey you're all right"?  The first song off of Born to Run announced to the world that Bruce Springsteen was here to stay.  He packs so many great lyrics and so much imagery into five minutes, it's almost as if you can feel how bad he wanted that album to succeed.

1.  "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" (1973, The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle)
This is the perfect song for that time in Springsteen's career.  It is upbeat and full of that optimism and hope that makes Springsteen's songs grab you forever and make you think anything is possible.  His second album, The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle, was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, so he essentially needed to hit a home run with his next album (which he obviously did).  "Rosalita" is a prescient allegory for that rise to superstardom.  The narrator is an up-and-coming musician who is courting some chick named Rosalita, whose parents don't approve of the boy.  But the narrator won't give up because he's gonna make it big.  My favorite couple lines are during the bridge:  "But now you're sad your mama's mad / And your papa says he knows that I don't have any money / Well tell him this is last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance / Because a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance."  It's the ultimate "fuck you" to her parents, but knowing them, they probably still wouldn't let her go out with him because he's a rock and roller.  If there was a real Rosalita (which I haven't researched), I hope she cursed her parents to death or that they paid her several hundred million dollars.
Top Ten Favorite Springsteen Songs by GMYH on Grooveshark

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tramps Like Us

This has been a solid year for concerts, to say the least.  I've seen a lot of good bands, and had a few double weekends.  Before this past weekend, I already had four weekends with back-to-back concert nights:  the Weekend of Metal in February; Jim Gaffigan in Ft. Wayne one night and Andrew W.K. in Chicago the next night at the end of March; Scorpions and Tesla followed by The Hives in June; and Lollapalooza in August.  This weekend might have taken the cake (no pun intended, as Cake was in Chicago Thursday, although I did not see them). 

Friday night was Kiss and Mötley Crüe, both of whom I've seen before in separate arenas.  The show was at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, down in Tinley Park.  To remedy the long drive, the fine co-owner of Rocks (who is a giant Kiss fan) rented a limo bus to take us (him included) to and fro.  There were nine of us -- including Gregerson, Daniel, Chris, and Allison -- on a 29-seat bus, which was nice.  To make it better, there was a DVD player on the bus, so we watched Kissology on the way there and back.  There is simply no other way to live.
Both bands put on great shows.  Tommy Lee, who has a history of doing crazy shit with his drum kit, has his drums attached to a small rollercoaster loop that he used for a couple songs, playing while going sideways around the loop.  Presumably, he then banged a lot of chicks.  Kiss is, well, Kiss.  They have been putting on one of the best live rock and roll shows for over 35 years.  Pyrotechnics, spitting fire, spitting blood, levitating band members, confetti.  It was all there.  Sure, I would have liked them to play a full show, but that's what happens with a co-headlining tour.  Unfortunately, when I try to take pictures with my camera phone of shows with a lot of lights and such, it ends up looking like a giant fireball, so I didn't get any great pictures.  Here are a couple, though, including one of the available wireless networks, as well as a video of part of their famous intro and part of "Rock and Roll All Nite":

We took the bus back to Rocks, where we sang some karaoke (I may have performed an version of "Strutter" that has since been called both impassioned and poignant) and debated what constitutes a power ballad.  My friends, "Beth" is a ballad, not a power ballad.  Here is a shot of George, Chris, and I after getting back to Rocks, just before we started spitting blood on everyone in the bar.  Everyone.
It would take a lot to top Friday night, but a man from New Jersey whose younger sister was Angela "The Angel of Death" Baker in Sleepaway Camp 2 and 3 was up to the task.  Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band played two sold-out shows at Wrigley Field, Friday and Saturday, bringing his message of hope and unlimited promise to a stadium synonymous with despair and unmitigated failure.  I have never seen Springsteen before, and obviously, his live shows are legendary for being long and full of energy.  The Boss did not disappoint.

Joining me was Jester, Chandler, Lisa, and Daniel.  We had seats in the first section of the stands, so we were just above field level, which was nice.

For a man who is nearly 63, Springsteen plays like he's still 23.  The show was phenomenal.  The comfort with which he plays in front of 40,000 people is amazing.  Sure, he's been playing to crowds that large for almost 40 years, but as soon as he steps on stage, you get the feeling that he has never just gone through the motions.  He played for over three hours, playing a great mix of old and new.  (Here is the set list.)  Tom Morello came out and played five songs with the band (with his "Arm the Homeless" guitar).  Eddie Vedder came out to sing "My Hometown" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town" with Springsteen.  Pretty sweet.
During "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," he brought a little girl who was probably 8 or 9 onstage to sing with him, which is both good and bad.  Good because the kid got to be onstage with Bruce Springsteen and sing before 40,000 people.  Bad because she will never top that experience.

About two hours into the show, it started to rain (and continued to rain for the rest fo the show).  Not missing a beat, as soon as the rain started, the band left the stage and Springsteen sang a solo acoustic version of CCR's "Who'll Stop the Rain?"  The answer was "no one," but that didn't stop anyone from having a good time.  The band and Morello came back out, powering through "Ghost of Tom Joad," "Badlands," and "Thunder Road" to finish out the first set.  Here's a shot of the stage after the rain started coming down, as well as rain-soaked shots of Lisa and Jester (who, for some reason, was wearing a hijab) and the three dudes:
For the encore, the house lights came up, and the place went ballistic.  The rain only made everyone stronger and more excited.  There were men in their sixties taking their shirts off.  "Born to Run" sent the place into an expected frenzy, followed by my favorite Springsteen song, "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," which I was excited to hear.  Here are some clips of each.  Unfortunately, the storage on my phone is almost full, so I couldn't tape the whole songs, but you get the point:

During "Dancing in the Dark," Springsteen brought a woman up on the stage, just like in the now-classic music video.  Courtney Cox, she was not, however.  She didn't know how to do Cox's dance from the video, and was quickly escorted back to the crowd, where she would have undoubtedly been burned to death had it not been raining.  You can't start a fire without a spark, people.

In perhaps the highlight of the show, during "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," Springsteen was out in the crowd on a little side stage.  After the line "When the change was made uptown / And the big man joined the band," he looked back towards the main stage, the band went silent, and there was a video montage tribute to Clarence Clemons, who died last year after suffering a stroke.  For those who don't know, Clemons was the E Street Band's longtime tenor saxophonist and one of Springsteen's best friends.  "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" is about how Springsteen and Clemons ("the big man") met.  He's the guy Bruce is leaning up against on the iconic Born to Run album cover.  It was a nice moment.

Finally, the band, plus Vedder and Morello, ended the show with "American Land," and everyone's religious experience ended shortly after the eleven o'clock noise ordinance curfew kicked in.  Springsteen presumably packed his guitar into his old, beat-up Chevy van and drove back to his two-bedroom home in Jersey, getting back just in time for first shift at the mill Sunday morning.

We headed down Sheffield to Dark Horse, which was relatively empty when we got there and slammed within fifteen minutes.  Jester and I lost several team members there, but were not daunted, so we headed to the Burwood Tap, where I played only awesome music on the jukebox.  Because that's what I do.  A trip to Bamba's was necessary for some of the members of our party, but I somehow managed to refrain.  The Boss and several gallons of beer filled me up enough.

Sunday, Jester and I picked up the girls (who my mom and aunt had been watching Saturday, so that Jester and I could celebrate Springsteen without children) and headed to a friend's house for a party for the Bears/Colts game.  The Bears' 41-21 victory was particularly vindicating, given that a certain good friend of mine who is a big Colts fan and shall remain nameless declared in the preseason that the Colts have a more NFL-ready quarterback than the Bears.  Not quite.

After returning home, I spent the remainder of the day watching my free day of NFL Red Zone on DirecTV, immersing myself in the joys of fantasy football, and cursing people I've never met.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Retro Video of the Week: "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones

In honor of the start of the NFL season.  And grown men wearing purple v-neck leotard shirts who dance like bisexual roosters.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten: Things I'm Looking Forward To This NFL Season

This could be the best week ever.  Holiday on Monday.  Kiss/Mötley Crüe on Friday.  College football, Flugtag, and Springsteen on Saturday.  And, perhaps most importantly, the 2012-2013 NFL season kicks off (pun intended) tomorrow night, as the Cowboys visit the defending Super Bowl champion Giants.  I may not be as giddy for the NFL as I am for college football, but that doesn't mean I'm not giddy for the NFL.  Here are the ten things I'm most looking forward to this NFL season, in no particular order.

10.  Finding the next fantasy free agent sleeper
Last year it was Rob Gronkowski (I didn't have him, but he killed me several times), the 49ers defense, and Eric Decker (who I did have, but who also ended up killing me with zero points in my championship game).  None were drafted (at least not in my leagues), and all ended up being fantasy studs.  Hopefully I can pick up some similar free agents before anyone else figures out they're any good.

Season 4 of FX's hilarious fantasy-football-based sitcom debuts October 11.  Watch it.  Love it.

8.  Thursday Night Football every week
Aside from this week (where the first game is on Wednesday instead of Thursday) and the last week of the season (where all games are on Sunday), there will be a Thursday night NFL game every week.  That is awesome, even if it means the Bears have a short week to prepare for the Packers next week.

7.  The Jets' inevitable implosion
The Jets' solution to their anemic offense was to add a fullback as their backup quarterback.  The Sanchez/Tebow competition and debate will be weird and enthralling.  Frankly, I don't think either of them are NFL-caliber quarterbacks.  So, at this time next year, Rex Ryan may not be the head coach.  Then again, maybe their defense is good enough to keep them afloat.

6.  The Packers not making the playoffs
It has to happen.  Because I hate them.  Although I hope Jermichael Finley has 100 yards and a TD in every one of their 16 losses this year (aside from when they are shut out twice by the Bears).  Because he is my fantasy tight end.

5.  Figuring out whether the Eagles are for real
Last season, the Eagles were preseason Super Bowl favorites after they loaded up on big-name free agents.  Then they finished 8-8, winning their last four games to get to .500.  Needless to say, it was a huge disappointment for the Eagles and their fans.  To make matters worse, the rival Giants won the Super Bowl.  With all the talent the Eagles have, I think they need to make the playoffs to save Andy Reid's job.

4.  How the Saints respond to "Bountygate"
The Saints will be without certain players, coaches, and executives for all or part of the season, depending on who it is.  Drew Brees and the offense have even more pressure on them as a result (and pressure from me, as well, since Brees is my fantasy QB), not that following up the highest single-season passing yardage total wasn't going to be hard enough.

3.  Peyton being better than Eli (again)
I don't know about you, but I'm kind of sick of Eli Manning, and I find it a little disconcerting that he has won two Super Bowl rings, when Peyton is clearly the better quarterback.  Not that I'm a huge Peyton fan or anything, but I am excited to see him back and healthy, since he is one of the best QBs ever.  With him at the helm, I think the Broncos are the AFC West favorite.

2.  Luck and RG3
It has been a long time since two rookie quarterbacks have been this hyped, so it will be interesting to see whether Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III can live up to it.  I don't think anyone was expecting Cam Newton to have the kind of year he had last year, and he might have actually done Luck and Griffin a disservice because they have a pretty high standard to which they will be compared.

1.  The Bears being healthy (*crossed fingers*)
It seems like the Bears have had major injuries at inopportune times the last couple seasons, making what could have been a Super Bowl appearance followed by another deep playoff run into an NFC championship game loss followed by an 8-8 record after a 7-3 start.  The NFL North (even after all these years, I still initially typed NFC Central) is probably the toughest division in the NFL this year, with the Bears, Packers, and Lions all being legitimate playoff hopefuls.  I think the addition of Brandon Marshall adds what will hopefully be the final piece in the Bears' puzzle.  If the Bears can avoid major injuries, I am expecting big things.  And by "big things," I mean at least 10 wins and no third-string wide receivers getting busted for running major drug rings.