Monday, October 31, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #21: The Misfits

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  The Misfits
Where from:  USA (New Jersey)
Years active: 1977–1983, 1995–present
Number of studio albums:  7
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  The Devil's Rain (#70)

There might not be a more appropriate Halloween band than The Misfits.  By combining punk rock with horror film-inspired imagery and creepy stage costumes, The Misfits created the horror punk genre and, later the hardcore horror genre, as the band's sound drifted towards hardcore punk.  There is no doubt The Misfits have inspired legions of punk and metal bands since their beginnings in the late '70s and early '80s.

Lead singer Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only formed the band in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey.  They had several guitarists in their first few years, before Only's brother, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, joined the band in 1980 (at age 16).  That lineup stayed together until the band broke up in 1983.

Even if you don't know a single Misfits song, you probably know their look.  Early on, the band adopted the "devilock," a hairdo invented by Only, where the sides are short and the front is basically a vampire-like widow's peak that goes down between the eyes and past the chin.  It's almost like a reverse pony tail, except more punky.

But it's the band's logo –- the "Crimson Ghost" –- that people most associate with The Misfits, and has undoubtedly helped the band (or whoever controls their IP rights) to rake in a lot of merchandising money.  Inspired by a poster for a 1940s film serial of the same name, the Crimson Ghost is just your standard creepy skeleton in a reaper robe.  It was first used by the band for their 1979 singe "Horror Business."
The band released 2 studio albums, 3 EPs, and a few unattached singles between 1978 and 1983, when they broke up.  Danzig went on to form Samhain -- appropriately enough named after the Celtic pagan holiday that morphed into Halloween -- before forming the band Danzig (of "Mother" fame).  Only and Doyle briefly had a Christian metal band, before reforming The Misfits in 1995, after a legal battle with Danzig over royalties and use of the Crimson Ghost.  

The Misfits have since put out five more studio albums (although one of them, 1997's Static Age, was actually their first album (recorded in 1978), which had never been released as a stand-alone album), most recently The Devil's Rain in 2013.  Only has remained the only constant member of the band.  The "classic" lineup of Danzig, Only, and Doyle reunited this last September to play Riot Fest here in Chicago.  I was in Europe, so I didn't get a chance to see the show, which was unfortunate.

I didn't get into The Misfits until relatively recently.  There is definitely something different and interesting about their music, compared with their contemporaries.  It's tight, fast, and eerie.  Of course, being a guy who enjoys Halloween, I tend to listen to their music more during October than the rest of the year.  Even my kids have taking a liking to some Misfits songs -- particularly "Where Eagles Dare," because they say "I ain't no goddamned son of a bitch," which they think is hilarious.  I only play that one for them when mommy's not home.  

There are many Misfits songs that would be appropriate for today -- "Death Comes Ripping," "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?," "Bloodfeast," "Night Of The Living Dead," "Braineaters," and "Ghouls Night Out," to name a few.  However, when a band has a song named "Halloween," it's hard to pass that up.  Plus, it's a great song, with some creepy lyrics about dead cats (i.e., the best kind of cats), razor blades in apples, and bonfires.

With that, this year's Rocktober has come to an end.  Enjoy your trick-or-treating tonight, and stay tuned, as tomorrow, I'll be starting Glowvember, a daily look at history's funniest nuclear accidents.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist v. 4.0

Halloween is Monday.  Halloween parties will be happening this weekend.  Call me a necromancer who dabbles in ritual sacrifice and blood letting, but Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.  

Last year, I added 26 more songs to my Ultimaate Halloween Party Playlist, bringing the total to 111, in a blatant attempt to appease Countess Bathory.  I have since learned both conversation medieval Magyar and Latin, so I can finally understand what she is saying.  "Bring me the blood of a thousand children!" she yelled to me last night, from the depths of her castle, already covered head-to-toe in other people's blood.  "Bitch, I don't have access to a thousand children, and, even if I did, it would be really difficult to gather them all together and fly them to medieval Hungary.  I can only give you more spooky songs on a Halloween playlist," I yelled back in my sleep.  "Fine!" she replied, "Just post it on your blog, and I'll pull it up after I'm done swimming in the blood of the daughters of the lesser gentry."  Then so it shall be.

I have added 13 more songs to the list this year, compiling the best songs for you to use either at a Halloween party to set the mood right or in the background on Halloween night, when you're dressed like The Butcher from this years American Horror Story, passing out candy and pig fetuses to the neighborhood kids while speaking in a gruff 17th Century colonial dialect, rambling on and on about consecrating this land.

Halloween is the one time of year when it's okay to embrace evil.  At any Halloween party or during trick-or-treating, you want there to be a certain level of creepiness, as well as some campiness, because Halloween is supposed to be a mixture of paganism, macabre, and fun.  As a result, the playlist below includes songs that have dark and evil themes, talk about monsters or the devil or witches or the like, mention the word "Halloween," or are just plain creepy.  My mix has a lot of heavy metal, but that's kind of expected, since metal bands are more likely to embrace darker subject matter than, say, The Weeknd.  That said, it's all pretty palatable, even to those ears that might not be used to wailing guitars and double bass drums.  

As always, you don't want to go too dark, like, say, Norwegian black metal, because you're going to lose your party-goers, or the neighbors are going to think you're really into church burning.  And if you are into church burning, you're probably not going to want to tip the neighbors off by blaring Dimmu Borgir out your front door while handing their children those little two packs of Starburst, even if it should be obvious from the fact that you're wearing all black (other than the goat's blood covering your face), wielding a battle axe, and loudly proclaiming your allegiance to Satan in response to the call of "trick or treat."

For parties, you'll probably want to mix these songs in with your regular party mix.  After all, who doesn't want to hear "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)" after "The Hills"?  For trick or treating, you're probably going to want to just go straight spooky, which probably means a heavy dose of Ghost, Pentagram, Misfits, and Black Sabbath.  Just make sure the songs you choose for trick or treating don't have any swears in them.  Parents can be real assholes about that.

With that, here are my recommendations for your Halloween playlist, in alphabetical order by artist, with comments where I felt it was necessary.  For your sake and the safety of your offspring, I suggest you add at least some of these to your Halloween party playlist, lest you'll become the Countess's dinner.

1-4.  "Highway to Hell," "Hells Bells," "Night Prowler," and "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" by AC/DC
"Highway to Hell" is an obvious choice and a crowd pleaser.  "Hells Bells" has those instantly recognizable bells -- hells bells, if you will.  "Night Prowler" is a slower, creepy song that, several years later, serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka, "the Night Stalker") claimed inspired him, or something like that.  "If You Want Blood" was added solely to appease the Countess.

5.  "Demon Eyes" by The Answer

6.  "Helter Skelter" by The Beatles
This should be played just before or after "Look At Your Game, Girl" by Charles Manson.

7.  "Howling for You" by The Black Keys

8-11.  "Black Sabbath," "War Pigs," "The Wizard," and "Heaven and Hell" by Black Sabbath
"Black Sabbath" was inspired by a vision Geezer Butler had one night after reading a book about witchcraft that Ozzy Osbourne gave to him.  He woke up in the middle of the night, and a black figure was standing at the foot of his bed.  The figure disappeared, and when Butler went to get the book, it too was gone.  "War Pigs" is about war, death, and bodies burning.  "The Wizard" is about a wizard.  "Heaven and Hell" is the title track from the first Sabbath album with Ronnie James Dio as the lead singer, and it is awesome.

12.  "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
But do fear people who would actually vote for Donald Trump.

13.  "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow

14.  "Howl" by JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

15.  "Halloween Theme" by John Carpenter
Instantly recognizable as one of the more creepy horror movie themes.

16.  "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash

17.  "The Night Time is the Right Time" by Ray Charles

18.  "Spooky" by The Classics IV

19.  "I Love The Dead" by Alice Cooper

20.  "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by The Cramps
I wasn't.

21.  "Am I Demon" by Danzig
No, no I'm not.

22.  "One Way Ticket" by The Darkness
You see, it's a one way ticket to hell.  And back.

23.  "Am I Evil?" by Diamond Head
"Yes I am."

24.  "A Nightmare on My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
This is a classic late '80s rap song, playing off of the popularity of Freddy Krueger, who, for many of us growing up in the '80s, was the most terrifying of all the horror movie villains.  I should also note that I did, in fact, perform this with a friend for our elementary school talent show in fifth grade.  I was Freddy.  It was pretty awesome.

25.  "Dream Warriors" by Dokken
Speaking of Freddy, this was the title track to Nightmare on Elm Street 3:  Dream Warriors.

26.  "Season of the Witch" by Donovan

27-28.  "The End" and "People Are Strange" by The Doors
"The End" is one of the creepier Doors songs, which says a lot.

29.  "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran

30.  "Murder On the Dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
In case you're spiking your Milky Ways with molly.

31.  "Trick or Treat" by Fastway
'80s metal band Fastway played the soundtrack to the 1986 the metal-themed horror film Trick or Treat.  This is the title song.

32.  "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford

33.  "Close My Eyes Forever" by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

34.  "Evil and a Heathen" by Franz Ferdinand

35-40.  "Monstrance Clock," "Year Zero," "If You Have Ghosts," "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen," "Cirice," and "Nocturnal Me" by Ghost
"Monstrance Clock" is about conceiving "Lucifer's son," and "Year Zero" is about Satan in general and has a nice gothic feel to it.  "If You Have Ghosts" is a Roky Erickson cover about having ghosts.  "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen" is about Ghuleh and a zombie queen.  "Cirice" is a sold song about souls merging.  "Nocturnal Me" is a new one about you, assuming you're noctural.  To be honest, I would suggest just including all songs from Ghost's three albums and two EPs -- Opus Eponymous, Infestissumam, If You Have Ghost, Meloria, and Popestar -- especially if you're looking for trick-or-treating background music.  They are demonic in a polite Swedish way.

41.  "Maneater" by Hall & Oates

42.  "Hallow's Eve" by Hallows Eve

43-44.  "Halloween" and "Mr. Torture" by Helloween
German power metal band Helloween obviously has the right name for a Halloween mix, and their song "Halloween" is included for obvious reasons.  I also chose to go with "Mr. Torture" because I like the song.  So there.

45.  "Friendly Ghost" by Harlem
This one's a little more light-hearted, to offset the vast majority of this list.

46.  "I Put a Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
I prefer the original to CCR's cover (which is still very good) because Hawkins adds a level of voodoo campiness that CCR just couldn't have matched.

47.  "Magic Man" by Heart

48.  "I Ain't Superstitious" by Howlin' Wolf

49.  "Devil Inside" by INXS

50-52.  "Killers," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden
It was tough figuring out just one Iron Maiden song to include, so I went with three.  The first two are from 1981's Killers album:  "Killers," which is essentially about someone being stalked and murdered, and "Murders in the Rue Morgue," which is not only my favorite Iron Maiden song, but is also based on short story by Edgar Allen Poe of the same name.  The third, "Number of the Beast," is a metal classic off of the 1982 album of the same name.  Because of this song, my children know that 666 is the number of the beast.

53.  "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
This is a no-brainer and should be played at every Halloween party for eternity.

54.  "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
This is especially good if your partygoers are all on LSD.

55.  "Devil's Child" by Judas Priest

56.  "Hotter Than Hell" by KISS

57.  "Pretend We're Dead" by L7

58.  "Heeby-Jeebies" by Little Richard

59.  "Look at Your Game, Girl" by Charles Manson
Recorded when Manson was still trying to break into the LA music scene and before he started ordering his minions to murder movie stars and grocery store owners, this song comes across as an innocent folky acoustic song.  Then you realize it's sung by Charles Manson, and it becomes super creepy.

60.  "Evil Love" by Meat Puppets

61-62.  "Fade to Black" and "Creeping Death" by Metallica

63-66.  "Halloween," "Death Comes Ripping," "Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight," and "Bloodfeast" by The Misfits

67.  "Shout at the Devil" by Mötley Crüe

68-69.  "Dead Men Tell No Tales" and "I'm Your Witch Doctor" by Motörhead

70.  "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt

71.  "Running Scared" by Roy Orbison

72.  "O Fortuna" by Carl Orff

73.  "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne

74.  "Dracula's Wedding" by Outkast

75.  "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.

76.  "Satan's Bed" by Pearl Jam

77.  "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)" by Pentagram
Doom metal pioneers Pentagram have a good number of hard-rocking creepy songs, but this one is probably the most relevant to Halloween.

78.  "Zombie Zoo" by Tom Petty

79.  "The Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt Kickers
This is a classic Halloween song that should be played at least once at every Halloween party.

80-81.  "Fallen Angel" and "Flesh and Blood (Sacrifice)" by Poison

82.  "Halloween" by Matt Pond PA

83.  "Going to Hell" by The Pretty Reckless

84.  "Gates of Babylon" by Rainbow
The song is about sleeping with the devil.  And then paying for sleeping with the devil.  Probably because the devil gave you the clap.

85.  "Diablo Rojo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela

86-88.  "Sympathy for the Devil," "Dead Flowers," and "Paint It, Black" by The Rolling Stones

89-91.  "Soul Sacrifice," "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways" by Santana

92.  "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs

93.  "Witchcraft" by Frank Sinatra

94.  "Angel of Death" by Slayer
While I would generally recommend steering clear of Slayer at parties, there is no more appropriate time to let it loose than Halloween.  And you can always use it as a way to clear people out.

95.  "Bullet With Butterfly Wing" by Smashing Pumpkins
It just wouldn't seem right to have a Halloween playlist without a Smashing Pumpkins song on it.  I went with this one, not only because it starts by exclaiming -– wrongly, mind you -– that "the world is a vampire," but also because it's an awesome song.

96.  "Serial Killa" by Snoop Doggy Dogg

97-98.  "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" and "The Witch" by The Sonics
Halloween has room for garage rock, too.

99.  "Fell On Black Days" by Soundgarden

100.  "Wicked Garden" by Stone Temple Pilots

101.  "To Hell With the Devil" by Stryper
In case you are concerned that your playlist might be a little too devil-heavy, you can balance it out with this '80s Christian hair band classic.

102.  "Santeria" by Sublime

103.  "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads
"You're crazy!"  
"That's what they said about Son of Sam."

104.  "Devil's Daughter" by Tax the Heat

105.  "Here Comes the Night" by Them

106.  "Killer On the Loose" by Thin Lizzy

107.  "Sinister Minister" by Township

108-109.  "Running With the Devil" and "D.O.A." by Van Halen

110.  "The Black Angel's Death Song" by The Velvet Underground
I have never done acid, but I assume this song is what a bad acid trip would have sounded like in Victorian England.

111.  "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)" by W.A.S.P.

112.  "Burning the Witches" by Warlock

113.  "Got My Mojo Working" by Muddy Waters

114.  "If My Mind is Evil" by White Lion

115-118.  "Death Letter," "Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground," "Little Ghost," and "Walking With a Ghost" by The White Stripes

119.  "Boris The Spider" by The Who

120.  "Friends of Hell" by Witchfinder General

121.  "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder

122.  "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
"I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's / And his hair was perfect."  Great line.

123-124.  "Dragula" and "Living Dead Girl" by Rob Zombie

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #20: Blue Murder

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Blue Murder
Where from:  UK/USA
Years active: 1988-1994
Number of studio albums:  2
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  Blue Murder (#69)

The final Hair Band Friday Deep Cut Artist is Blue Murder, a supergroup of sorts, formed by English guitarist John Sykes in 1988.  Sykes was a veteran hard rocker, coming up with NWOBHM band Tygers of Pan Tang.  After auditioning to be Dio's guitarist, but losing out to future Whitesnake/Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, Sykes joined Thin Lizzy for the band's final album, Thunder and Lightning.  After Thin Lizzy broke up, Sykes moved onto Whitesnake, where he co-wrote nearly all of the songs on the band's 1987 megahit self-titled album.  Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale then fired all of the band, and, in 1988, Sykes decided to put together his own group, Blue Murder.

After a couple lineup changes, Blue Murder settled on its members:  Sykes on guitar and lead vocals; veteran, do-it-all drummer Carmine Appice (of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, and Rod Stewart's backing band fame); and Tony Franklin on bass (fresh off of his gig with The Firm).  The band played hard rock, combining glam metal, straightforward hard rock, and blues-based rock.  They released two albums.  First was their 1989 self-titled debut (which got up to #69 on the Billboard album charts), which was dedicated to Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott, who died in 1986.  Next, in 1993, they released Nothin' But Trouble, which didn't chart.  After that, the band released a live album (also dedicated to Lynott), before going their separate ways.  Sykes has released multiple solo albums (and reunited with some of the remaining Thin Lizzy members for a while).  Appice has continued drumming for a variety of acts.  Franklin has played bass for dozens of artists and continues to make music.

I was going to go with "Blue Murder," off of the Blue Murder album.  It is one of those rare moments in rock history where a self-titled song is off of a self-titled album, although it seems to happen in the hard rock/metal world more often than in other genres (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Bad Company, to name a few).  However, I like "Black-Hearted Woman" better, and both songs fit the Halloween week mold, so there you go.

Hair Band Friday - 10/28/16

1.  "Five Years Dead" by Mötley Crüe

2.  "99 In The Shade" by Bon Jovi

3.  "Love Walks In" by Van Halen

4.  "Nothin' At All" by Heart

5.  "Don't Blame It On Love" by Danger Danger

6.  "Little Dolls" by Ozzy Osbourne

7.  "Cries In The Night" by W.A.S.P.

8.  "Too Late For Love" by Def Leppard

9.  "Let's Get Crazy" by White Lion

10.  "Red Neck Punk" by Jackyl

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #19: Ghost

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Ghost (also briefly known as Ghost B.C. in the U.S.)
Where from:  Sweden
Years active: 2008–present
Number of studio albums:  3
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  Infestissumam (#28)

Today's Deep Cut Artist is Ghost, one of my favorite groups to emerge in the last few years.  They have made my top ten list of favorite concerts in 2014 and 2015, and they were number one on my list of bands that I saw this year at Lollapalooza.

If you haven't heard of Ghost (or Ghost B.C., as they were known in the U.S. for about a year), they are a Swedish metal band whose members remain anonymous.  The lead singer is known as Papa Emeritus III, and he dresses in kind of a demonic skeleton pope get-up.  As his name implies, he is the third Papa Emeritus.  For each new studio album, a new lead singer is chosen.  The other members of the band are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls, and they wear the same creepy black robes and masks.  The identities of the band members are not publicly known, which I think is pretty cool in this day and age.  Here's a picture of the band.
Together, the Nameless Ghouls and whichever Papa Emeritus happens to be leading the band at the time make great music. The band's music is generally described as heavy metal, and I think that is accurate for the most part.  There are elements of psychedelic rock and pop, doom metal, traditional metal, hard rock, and power metal in their songs.  Also, most of their songs are about Satan, demons, evil, zombies, mummies, etc.  I think is funny, especially in when I've seen them concert, where Papa Emeritus (II or III) has always been a very polite Swedish man ("Are you well?").  The bottom line, though, is that, no matter how you categorize it, their music is good.  The Nameless Ghouls are great musicians, and frankly, I have no idea how they can see their instruments through their masks, especially in dark concert halls.

Ghost released its first album, Opus Eponymous, in 2010.  I heard about when it was recommended by one of the hosts of That Metal Show (I can't remember if it was Jim or Don).  I checked it out, and liked what I heard, so I bought it.  Then, the band played Lollapalooza in 2013 (as Ghost B.C.), supporting their sophomore album, 2013's Infestissumam.  I don't think I realized that they dressed up when I saw them, and I was blown away.  It was Kiss meets The Misfits meets Anton LaVey.

After that, in late 2013, the band released an EP of covers called If You Have Ghost, followed by the exit of Papa Emeritus II, before the band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015 (with Papa Emeritus III at the helm).  Last month, they released another EP, Popestar.  They have also embarked on a tour in support of Popestar, which unfortunately does not stop in Chicago, probably because the band played at Lolla in August.

The band has had pretty good success in their home country, as both Infestissumam and Meliora hit #1 on the Swedish album charts, and Popestar hit #3.  In the U.S., Infestissumam is their only full-length album to make it on the Billboard 200 album charts (peaking at #28), although both EPs have charted as well, with If You Have Ghost hitting #87 and Popestar hitting #16.  I think the U.S. may contain too many god-fearing people -- who may think that listening to songs about Satan (no matter how campy or tongue-in-cheek) means they will go to hell -- for Ghost to truly make it big here.  But that's fine with me because it means I get to see them in venues like The Vic and The Riv.

The Ghost song I'm going with is "Cirice," off of Meliora.  This song won Best Metal Performance at this year's Grammy Awards, and it was the song that the band played on their first appearance on American television –- a performance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, appropriately enough on Halloween last year.  The video is a good one, featuring a school talent show, in which some kids dress up as Ghost.  The lead singer focuses his energy on a girl in the crowd, presumably named Cirice, who reciprocates the attention by using telekinesis to control all the squares in the audience.  I can't wait until Son is in grade school, so he can dress up as a demonic anti-Pope for the school talent show.  Now, I just have to make sure he has friends who can play instruments really well in masks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vote For October Scorpio

I try to keep my posts on GMYH non-political, so as to be inclusive of people of all political backgrounds, but, as an October Scorpio, I think it's important to weigh in on this year's presidential election.  Today is Hillary Clinton's 69th birthday, which means she, too, is an October Scorpio.  Donald Trump, on the other hand, was born June 14, 1946, making him a June Gemini.

We're at a real crossroads here.  Out of our 44 Presidents, 6 have been born in October, more than in any other month.  Only one has been born in June, the hapless senior Bush –- a man who declared his love of broccoli and once vomited in Japan.  Just as important, there have been five Scorpio Presidents, tied with Aquarius for the lead, while there have been only two Gemini Presidents –- the aforementioned George H.W. Bush and John F. Kennedy, a philanderer who couldn't make it as President for even three years. 

Set aside all the political mumbo jumbo, like the fact that Hillary is one of the more qualified presidential candidates in recent memory and Trump is a sociopath who only cares about himself and grabs women's genitals with his unusually small hands without even asking.  Vote based on the facts.  Scorpios are fiercely loyal, intuitive, and passionate.  Geminis puke and die.  For this reason, I think you all know what you need to do this November 8 (which falls within Scorpio, by the way):  vote for Hillary Clinton.

Here is a breakdown of all of our presidential births, both by birth month and by zodiac sign, in chronological order by birth month and/or zodiac sign.  For the zodiac signs, I understand the dates can fluctuate by a day or two depending on the year, but I'm going to go with the dates on this astrology website as by guide.

Birth Months
January - 4
Millard Fillmore – Jan. 7, 1800
Richard Nixon – Jan. 9, 1913
William McKinley – Jan. 29, 1843
Franklin Roosevelt – Jan. 30, 1882

February - 4
Ronald Reagan – Feb. 6, 1911
William Henry Harrison – Feb. 9, 1773
Abraham Lincoln – Feb. 12, 1809
George Washington – Feb. 22, 1732

March - 4
Andrew Jackson – Mar. 15, 1767
James Madison – Mar. 16, 1751
Grover Cleveland – Mar. 18, 1837
John Tyler – Mar. 29, 1790

April - 4
Thomas Jefferson – Apr. 13, 1743 
James Buchanan – Apr. 23, 1791
Ulysses S. Grant – Apr. 27, 1822
James Monroe – Apr. 28, 1758

May - 2
Harry S. Truman – May 8, 1884
John F. Kennedy – May 29, 1917

June - 1
George H.W. Bush – June 12, 1924

July - 4
Calvin Coolidge – July 4, 1872
George W. Bush – July 6, 1946
John Quincy Adams – July 11, 1767
Gerald Ford – July 14, 1913

August - 5
Barack Obama – Aug. 4, 1961
Herbert Hoover – Aug. 10, 1874
Bill Clinton – Aug. 19, 1946
Benjamin Harrison – Aug. 20, 1833
Lyndon B. Johnson – Aug. 27, 1908

September - 1
William Howard Taft – Sep. 15, 1857

October - 6
Jimmy Carter – Oct. 1, 1924
Rutherford B. Hayes – Oct. 4, 1822
Chester Arthur – Oct. 5, 1829
Dwight Eisenhower – Oct. 14, 1890
Theodore Roosevelt – Oct. 27, 1858
John Adams – Oct. 30, 1735

November - 5
James K. Polk – Nov. 2, 1795
Warren G. Harding – Nov. 2, 1865
James A. Garfield – Nov. 19, 1831
Franklin Pierce – Nov. 23, 1804
Zachary Taylor – Nov. 24, 1784

December - 3
Martin Van Buren - Dec. 5, 1782
Woodrow Wilson – Dec. 28, 1856
Andrew Johnson – Dec. 29, 1808

Zodiac signs
Aquarius (Jan. 20 to Feb. 18) - 5
William McKinley – Jan. 29, 1843
Franklin Roosevelt – Jan. 30, 1882
Ronald Reagan – Feb. 6, 1911
William Henry Harrison – Feb. 9, 1773
Abraham Lincoln – Feb. 12, 1809

Pisces (Feb. 19 to Mar. 20) - 4
George Washington – Feb. 22, 1732
Andrew Jackson – Mar. 15, 1767
James Madison – Mar. 16, 1751
Grover Cleveland – Mar. 18, 1837

Aries (Mar. 21 to Apr. 19) - 2
John Tyler – Mar. 29, 1790
Thomas Jefferson – Apr. 13, 1743 

Taurus (Apr. 20 to May 20) - 4
James Buchanan – Apr. 23, 1791
Ulysses S. Grant – Apr. 27, 1822
James Monroe – Apr. 28, 1758
Harry S. Truman – May 8, 1884

Gemini (May 21 to June 20) - 2
John F. Kennedy – May 29, 1917
George H.W. Bush – June 12, 1924

Cancer (June 21 to July 22) - 4
Calvin Coolidge – July 4, 1872
George W. Bush – July 6, 1946
John Quincy Adams – July 11, 1767
Gerald Ford – July 14, 1913

Leo (July 23 to Aug. 22) - 4
Barack Obama – Aug. 4, 1961
Herbert Hoover – Aug. 10, 1874
Bill Clinton – Aug. 19, 1946
Benjamin Harrison – Aug. 20, 1833

Virgo (Aug. 23 to Sep. 22) - 2
Lyndon B. Johnson – Aug. 27, 1908
William Howard Taft – Sep. 15, 1857

Libra (Sep. 23 to Oct. 22) - 4
Jimmy Carter – Oct. 1, 1924
Rutherford B. Hayes – Oct. 4, 1822
Chester Arthur – Oct. 5, 1829
Dwight Eisenhower – Oct. 14, 1890

Scorpio (Oct. 23 to Nov. 21) - 5
Theodore Roosevelt – Oct. 27, 1858
John Adams – Oct. 30, 1735
James K. Polk – Nov. 2, 1795
Warren G. Harding – Nov. 2, 1865
James A. Garfield – Nov. 19, 1831

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 to Dec. 21) - 3
Franklin Pierce – Nov. 23, 1804
Zachary Taylor – Nov. 24, 1784
Martin Van Buren – Dec. 5, 1782

Capricorn (Dec. 22 to Jan. 19) - 4
Woodrow Wilson – Dec. 28, 1856
Andrew Johnson – Dec. 29, 1808
Millard Fillmore – Jan. 7, 1800
Richard Nixon – Jan. 9, 1913

New Book: Night Shift by Stephen King

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar, which, in case you're sense or something, is Sammy Hagar's autobiography.  I thought it was really good.  I didn't know much about Hagar's life, other than his time with Van Halen and the fact that he likes tequila.  Turns out, he overcame a rough childhood, with an abusive, alcoholic father, and basically just worked his ass off to make it big, first in the '70s as the lead singer of Montrose, then as a solo artist, then as the lead singer of Van Halen, and then again as a solo artist, before making a few albums with the supergroup Chickenfoot.  What I found most interesting was his non-musical successes.  He got in early on the mountain bike craze, and had a really successful bike shop in Sausalito in the late '80s/early '90s.  Then, he started going to Cabo San Lucas when it was still pretty unknown, and he fell in love with it and opened Cabo Wabo Cantina, thereafter making his own successful brand of craft tequila, Cabo Wabo (which is really good), which he sold for $91 million.  He also has a restaurant chain called Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill, the profits from which he donates to charities.  Hagar has always seemed like a guy I'd like to sit down and have a beer (or tequila) with, and this book just confirmed that.

Since then, it being October and all, I started reading Night Shift by Stephen King, King's first collection of short stories, published in 1978.  I'm a big Stephen King fan and have been for almost 30 years, yet I've never read any of his short story collections.  I think people are generally familiar with King's novels and the film or TV adaptations of them -- like Carrie, The Shining, It, Misery, and The Green Mile, to name a few -- but maybe not as cognizant of the fact that so many of King's short stories or novellas have been adapted for film or TV, like Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, and Apt Pupil.  There are at least six major motion pictures based on short stories in Night Shift alone -- 1984's Children of the Corn (not to mention its various sequels), 1985's Cat's Eye, 1986's Maximum Overdrive, 1990's Graveyard Shift, 1992's The Lawnmower Man, and 1995's The Manger -- along with four made-for-TV movies, including 1991's Sometimes They Come Back, which I definitely remember watching and being terrified of.  So far, Night Shift has been a good read for this Halloween season.

Books read in 2016:

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #18: Witchfinder General

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Witchfinder General
Where from:  England
Years active:  1979-1984, 2006-2008
Number of studio albums:  3
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  N/A

Today's Deep Cut Artist is Witchfinder General, who hailed from the glass-making capital Stourbridge, in England's West Midlands.  Named after a 1968 Vincent Price horror film of the same name, Witchfinder General were part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and like yesterday's Deep Cut Artist, Pentagram, considered pioneers of the doom metal genre.

The band released two albums in the early '80s, 1982's Death Penalty and 1983's Friends of Hell, both of which are both great metal albums.  I put them more in the category of Sabbath-inspired NWOBHM than doom metal, but genres are pliable, I suppose, and what is doom metal if not Sabbath-inspired metal?  Both of their first two album covers feature the band members on church grounds, surrounding scantily clad and/or topless women.  The cover for Death Penalty was taken in a church cemetery, with model Joanne Latham, topless, with a constable of some sort holding a knife to her throat and a soldier, a priest, and a deacon surrounding her.  It appears to be some sort of exorcism or sacrifice, as presumably she is a witch.  The cover of Friends of Hell also features Latham and some other scantily clad ladies -– again, presumably witches –- in front of a church, being held at bay by a soldier and some priests.

But I digress.  The band broke up in 1984, and their influence spread amongst the metal community.  In 2006, the band reunited and released a third album, the appropriately titled Resurrected, in 2008.  No funbags on the cover of that one, though.

With a name like Witchfinder General, it seems appropriate to use them as a Deep Cut Artist during Halloween week.  Like other NWOBHM bands, such as Angel Witch, Diamond Head, Cloven Hoof, Grim Reaper, Witchfynde, and Venom, Witchfinder General mixed wicked guitars and driving beats with dark imagery and lyrics about sorcery, evil, and the like.  The song I'm going with is the title track off of Friends of Hell.  It's a good representation of their sound, and it's about a human sacrifice to, wait for it, Satan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Big Ten Bowl Hopefuls After Week 8

This past Saturday, for reasons unknown to me, I spent money to watch IU lose to Northwestern in person.  For the second week in a row, the Hoosiers spotted their opponent 14+ points in the first quarter, and then were unable to overcome the hole they put themselves in.  Of course, the bigger news is that Penn State upset #2 Ohio State in Happy Valley, giving the Nittany Lions their first true signature victory in the post-Paterno post-child-rape-cover-up era.

Here are this past Saturday's results, as well as this coming week's slate of games (rankings are AP):

Week 8 results:
Minnesota 34 Rutgers 32
#10 Wisconsin 17 Iowa 9
Northwestern 24 Indiana 14
#3 Michigan 41 Illinois 8
#8 Nebraska 27 Purdue 14
Maryland 28 Michigan State 17
Penn State 24 #2 Ohio State 21

Week 9 schedule (all games are October 29; times listed are Eastern)
Minnesota at Illinois (12 p.m.; BTN)
#2 Michigan at Michigan State (12 p.m.; ESPN)
#24 Penn State at Purdue (12 p.m.; ABC)
Northwestern at #6 Ohio State (3:30 p.m.; ESPN)
Maryland at Indiana (3:30 p.m.; ESPNU)
#7 Nebraska at #11 Wisconsin (7 p.m.; ESPN)
Byes:  Iowa, Rutgers

Let's take a look at the bowl chances of each Big Ten team.  I'll list each team's current record (overall and conference), 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), (4) analysis of the team, (5) how many more games they need to win to become bowl-eligible, (6) what it will take to make a bowl, and (7) for those teams that have clinched a bowl, the realistic best and worst case bowl scenarios.  For sake of ease, I'm just going to go in alphabetical order.

1.  Illinois
Record:  2-5 (1-3)
Remaining likely wins:  none
Remaining likely losses:  Michigan State (11/5), Iowa (11/19), at Northwestern (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  Minnesota (10/29)
Toughest remaining game:  at Wisconsin (11/12)
Probable win total:  2-4
Analysis:  The Illini were destroyed by Michigan, 41-8, but hey, they beat the spread, so at least they made some people happy.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  4
Will make a bowl if:  they only, cough, lose one more game.

2.  Indiana
Record:  3-4 (1-3)
Remaining likely wins:  Maryland (10/29), at Rutgers (11/5), Purdue (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  at Michigan (11/19)
Remaining toss-ups:  Penn State (11/12)
Toughest remaining game:  at Michigan (11/19)
Probable win total:  6-8
Analysis:  The Hoosiers' defense has been playing really well after the first quarter.  The issue is that they're giving up early points, and the offense has not been firing on all cylinders.  QB Richard Lagow has been sailing balls over receivers' hands, and RB Devine Redding hasn't rushed for 100+ yards since the Hoosiers upset Michigan State on October 1.  This Saturday's game against Maryland is basically a must-win if IU wants to go to a bowl.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  3
Will make a bowl if:  their defense can avoid giving up double digits in the first quarter.

3.  Iowa
Record:  5-3 (3-2)
Remaining likely wins:  at Illinois (11/19), Nebraska (11/25)
Remaining likely losses:  at Penn State (11/5), Michigan (11/12)
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest remaining game:  Michigan (11/12)
Probable win total:  7-9
Analysis:  The Hawkeyes lost a tough game at home to #10 Wisconsin, 17-9.  That said, they still only need one more win to become bowl-eligible, and they have a bye this week before heading to Happy Valley next weekend.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1
Will make a bowl if:  they beat Illinois on November 19.

4.  Maryland
2016 record:  5-2 (2-2)
Remaining likely wins:  Rutgers (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  at Indiana (10/29), at Michigan (11/5), Ohio State (11/12), at Nebraska (11/19)
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest remaining game:  at Michigan (11/5)
Probable win total:  5-7
Analysis:  With their win over Michigan State Saturday, the Terps have put themselves in solid position to go to a bowl.  Given their schedule, though, that sixth win may not come until their final game against Rutgers on November 26.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1
Will make a bowl if:  they beat Rutgers.

5.  Michigan
2016 record:  7-0 (4-0)
Remaining likely wins:  at Michigan State (10/29), Maryland (11/5), at Iowa (11/12), Indiana (11/19)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  at Ohio State (11/26)
Toughest remaining game:  at Ohio State (11/26)
Probable win total:  10-12
Analysis:  After beating up on Illinois, the Wolverines had to be happy to watch Penn State knock off Ohio State.  Michigan's schedule leading up to that showdown in Columbus at the end of November isn't necessarily a cake walk, but then again, what the fuck is a cake walk anyway?
Best case bowl scenario:  College Football Playoff
Worst case bowl scenario:  Outback Bowl

6.  Michigan State
2016 record:  2-5 (0-4)
Remaining likely wins:  at Illinois (11/5), Rutgers (11/12) 
Remaining likely losses:  Michigan (10/29), Ohio State (11/19), at Penn State (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:   none
Toughest remaining game:  Ohio State (11/19)
Probable win total:  4-6
Analysis:  Things are not going well in Sparta.  After winning the Big Ten title last year and going to the College Football Playoff, Michigan State has lost five in a row after winning their first two games this season.  A trip to Ann Arbor this Saturday isn't going to help, although strange things seem to happen when Michigan and Michigan State play each other, so not all hope is lost just yet.  That said, things aren't looking good for the Spartans to go to a bowl this year.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  4
Will make a bowl if:  they upset a ranked team.

7.  Minnesota
2016 record:  5-2 (2-2)
Remaining likely wins:  at Illinois (10/29), Purdue (11/5)
Remaining likely losses:  at Nebraska (11/12), at Wisconsin (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  Northwestern (11/19)
Toughest remaining game:  at Wisconsin (11/26)
Probable win total:  6-8
Analysis:  The Gophers almost laid an egg against Rutgers at home, needing to score late to win 34-32.  But a W is a W, and that makes five of them for Minnesota, which they have to be happy about.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1
Will make a bowl if:  they can win one out of their next two games against Illinois and Purdue.

8.  Nebraska
2016 record:  7-0 (4-0)
Remaining likely wins:  Minnesota (11/12), Maryland (11/19)
Remaining likely losses:  at Wisconsin (10/29), at Ohio State (11/5), at Iowa (11/25)
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest remaining game:  at Ohio State (11/5)
Probable win total:  9-11
Analysis:  The Huskers beat Purdue at home, although it wasn't a blowout (27-14).  It's still not clear to many of us if Nebraska is for real, but they can prove they are this Saturday nights, as they make the trip to Camp Randall to take on Wisconsin under the lights.  At least, I assume the lights will be on.  It's late fall, after all.
Best case bowl scenario:  At-large bid to BCS bowl
Worst case bowl scenario:  Music City Bowl

9.  Northwestern
2016 record:  4-3 (2-1)
Remaining likely wins:  Purdue (11/12), Illinois (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  at Ohio State (10/29), Wisconsin (11/5)
Remaining toss-ups:  at Minnesota (11/19)
Toughest remaining game:  at Ohio State (10/29)
Probable win total:  6-8
Analysis:  The Wildcats' win over Indiana last Saturday -- their third in a row -- went a long way towards sending them to a bowl.  With four wins and remaining games against Purdue and Illinois, things look good for Northwestern after a brutal start that included home losses to Western Michigan (who, admittedly, is still undefeated and ranked) and FCS opponent Illinois State.  Unfortunately, they will have to play Ohio State in the Horseshoe this Saturday, and Ohio State is likely going to be pissed after that loss to Penn State.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  2
Will make a bowl if:  they keep playing like they have the last three games.

10.  Ohio State
2016 record:  6-1 (3-1)
Remaining likely wins:  Northwestern (10/29), Nebraska (11/5), at Maryland (11/12), at Michigan State (11/19)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  Michigan (11/26)
Toughest remaining game:  Michigan (11/26)
Probable win total:  10-12
Analysis:  Calm down, Buckeyes fans.  The world has not ended, despite Ohio State's loss to Penn State this past Saturday.  I still think the Buckeyes can make the College Football Playoff if they win out in the regular season and win the Big Ten title game.  Of course, one more loss would likely mean that Ohio State would be relegated to a BCS bowl or, gulp, a non-BCS New Years Day bowl.
Best case bowl scenario:  College Football Playoff
Worst case bowl scenario:  Citrus Bowl

11.  Penn State
2016 record:  5-2 (3-1)
Remaining likely wins:  at Purdue (10/29), at Rutgers (11/19), Michigan State (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  Iowa (11/5), at Indiana (11/12)
Toughest remaining game:  Iowa (11/5)
Probable win total:  8-10
Analysis:  The Nittany Lions' huge upset of Ohio State put them one win away from bowl eligibility and, given their remaining schedule, it's not inconceivable that Penn State could go to the Big Ten title game if they win out.  If they win out, Ohio State wins out, and Michigan either loses to Ohio State or loses twice, then there would either be a two-way or three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten East.  If it's a tie between OSU and PSU, PSU would have the tiebreaker because of their win over OSU.  If it's a three-way tie between Michigan, OSU, and PSU, it would come down to other tiebreakers, and maybe even a random draw.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1
Will make a bowl if:  they play Purdue this Saturday.

12.  Purdue
2016 record:  3-4 (1-3)
Remaining likely wins:  none
Remaining likely losses:  Penn State (10/29), at Minnesota (11/5), Northwestern (11/12), Wisconsin (11/19), at Indiana (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest remaining game:  Wisconsin (11/19)
Probable win total:  3-4
Analysis:  Even with a new coach, Purdue sucks.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  3
Will make a bowl if:  Gene Keady won a national title when he was the head coach of anything.

13.  Rutgers
2016 record:  2-6 (0-5)
Remaining likely wins:  none
Remaining likely losses:  Indiana (11/5), at Michigan State (11/12), Penn State (11/19), at Maryland (11/26)
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest remaining game:  at Michigan State (11/12)
Probable win total:  2-3
Analysis:  The Scarlet Knights unleashed on Minnesota, scoring 32 points and almost pulling off the upset, before ceding a field goal with 10 seconds left to stay winless in the Big Ten.  Their 32 points were 18 more than they had scored in the previous four games combined. With one more loss, Rutgers will be eliminated from bowl contention and will be removed from this list.  They do have a bye this week, so that they can enjoy New Jersey this weekend without the prospect of losing.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  4
Will make a bowl if:  the Nets move back to Newark tomorrow.

14.  Wisconsin
2016 record:  5-2 (2-2)
Remaining likely wins:  Nebraska (10/29), at Northwestern (11/5), Illinois (11/12), at Purdue (11/19), Minnesota (11/26)
Remaining likely losses:  none
Remaining toss-ups:  none
Toughest remaining game:  Nebraska (10/29)
Probable win total:  8-10
Analysis:  The Badgers took care of business in Iowa City this past Saturday, 17-9, in a typical Big Ten game.  They are now only one game away from bowl eligibility, which is basically a foregone conclusion.  That said, they have a tough game this weekend, with Nebraska coming to town.  After that, it should be smooth sailing for the Badgers.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1
Will make a bowl if:  Halloween is on a Monday this year.