Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stupid Question

SQ: Would one piss "on" the sun or "in" the sun?

SA: This is not a question of grammar as it seems to be. This is a question of physics. I believe the piss would be vaporized before it had a chance to get "on" or "in" the sun. So whether it is "on" or "in" is immaterial. For the sake of argument, let's say you have magical piss, the non-vaporizing sort. Since the Sun is gaseous the piss would be engulfed into it, like liquid to a sponge. But we do not piss "in" sponges, unless we cut a hole in it and stick the source of micturition into it (I'm sure we are all familiar with this practice) (Forgive me, ladies, I have no idea how women do it. I guess they just sit on it and go? Please enlighten me.) Rather, we piss "on" sponges, even though the piss ends up "in" the sponge. So, if we look at it that way, I would say that "on" would be the correct preposition when the object of pissing is the sun. Then again, sponges are not gaseous, like the sun, so this analogy may have some holes in it.

However, since the sun is so gravitationally endowed, we would neither have to piss "in" nor "on" the sun to achieve the desired result. All we would have to do is piss "in the vicinity" of the sun, and its gravity would pull the piss into it, assuming we are not closer to another source of gravity that is stronger, whether it be by proximity or by mass or some combination of both [see Newton: Fg=G*m1m2/r2]. For example, you can't do it standing on the Earth, unless your piss velocity was greater than the escape velocity demanded by Earth's gravity, which is approximately 25,000 miles per hour (ignoring air friction, as we oft do). I measured my piss velocity, with a full bladder, and the muzzle velocity was negligible, but it did accelerate at 9.8 meters per second squared as it dripped to the floor. (Does Romco make a urinary tract de-clogger? I hope it works on metal shavings.) But wait, Moist, what if you got a running start, could you increase your piss velocity to exceed Earth's escape velocity? Or maybe have another beer to get more bladder pressure? Well, curious one, those are stupid questions for another day. But, I will tell you, from past experience, having another beer is usually a good idea, and peeing while running without wetting your trousers takes some talent to achieve. We'll assume that the human body is not capable of pissing faster than 25,000 miles per hour. If you know anybody that can surpass that speed, I'm sure NASA would like to meet that person.

Let us take what we have learned and apply it to the real world. Say you had a fight with the sun, or the sun burned your nipples too much, or maybe the sun heated your car and you fried your ass on your black, vinyl seats, or whatever, and you are holding a grudge against it. One day, you were speaking to a cohort and the subject of the sun came up, and you expressed your unfavorable feelings about it using a version of an appropriate jibe. Instead of saying, "I wouldn't piss on/in the sun even if it were on fire", you would say, "I wouldn't piss in the vicinity of the sun, assuming I wasn't closer to a relatively stronger source of gravity to which my piss velocity could not conquer its gravitational requirements, even if it were on fire."

As you can see, when answering a stupid question, other stupid questions emerge. What can humans do to increase their piss velocity? Can that piss velocity be increased enough to match Earth's escape velocity? How do women piss in sponges? Why are so many people pissing in sponges? Why isn't "gravitationous" a real word? Do you think Newton actually discovered gravity while trying to piss on the sun, but chose to promote his discovery with that apple story because it was more socially acceptable? Did he accept money from the apple growers lobby? Or was Newton pissing in a sponge? What kind of person holds a grudge against the sun? Is NASA looking for people with strong pissing velocities? How about drippers? Is the sun actually on fire, or is it of fire (as in a ball of fire)? There are countless others. The point is that all new knowledge brings about new questions, which leads me to believe that we have indeed answered this stupid question.

If you have a stupid question you would like Leper Pop to answer, please send that question to, attention Amanda Hugginkiss. Who knows, maybe it will become a recurring bit.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Breaking Wind

Da’ Bears season is pretty much over. I’m a fan, but it’s not like I’m going to commit hara-kiri when they lose. I might be a little sad for a few minutes, but I’ll put away the Swiss army knife and eat a chocolate chip cookie and be over it. By the way, thanks to Mrs. WCR for the rockin’ Christmas cookies – they didn’t even break in transit. She must have hired a packaging consultant or something. But I digress. I also don’t mind attending an NFL game now and then, but don’t like taking a home equity loan to buy tickets so I usually wait for free or discounted ones. Between da’ Bears being out of playoff contention and the crappy weather (16F and a wind chill of -12F) I thought I might find some cheap last-minute tickets for today’s game and the following conversation ensued:

Sid: I bet we could find some cheap tickets to the Bears game today.
Mrs. F’er: The wind chill is 12 below zero.
Sid: So you wear your windbreaker – you’ll be fine.
Mrs. F’er: I have a windbreaker – it’s called my apartment.

Needless to say, I’m watching the game from her windbreaker.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Next Great American Band - December 14

I see it there on the DVR - Next Great American Band (1 New) - Friday, December 14. But I'm not inspired to hit "select" on the remote. Maybe it's because Juliette and the Licks and Sufrajett were right in my face last month trying to kick in my teeth when I went to see them at a nondescript club down the street from a liquor store with metal bars on the windows. After that, watching a coached studio audience sway their arms to a condensed version of a Rod Stewart song by a band that is crying about missing their families just doesn't seem so rock and roll. Maybe it's because three chicks in a band called Broad Tosser made me pay attention to their set when I was just planning to chill out with bowl of Earle's Famous Chili at Quencher's Saloon two weeks ago. I felt like an ass for making fun of girl bands while they were "trying to figure out how to tune their guitars" after they plugged in and proved that they're more rock and roll than me and my Teena Marie posters will ever hope to be. After being schooled by those girls, what can I possibly learn from a "judge" whose music I can hear while waiting for my next teeth cleaning. Maybe it's because four guys from Texas called The Von Ehrics followed us home after a gig to crash on our living room floor in their sleeping bags before piling back into their van the next day with all their equipment for a show in Milwaukee. When you hear them perform Highway Junkie you know it has more meaning and credibility than anything a bunch of 14 year-olds are going to perform as soon as they finish their math homework.

Live music is better. You might need a cup of coffee the next morning. It might even ruin television for you. But trust me - that's not a bad thing. I've never regretted missing a night of television. I have regretted missing too many concerts.

Thank you to Juliette and the Licks, Suffrajett, Broad Tosser, and The Von Ehrics for reminding me of this.

Oh, and Simon Fuller and Mark Burnett - fucking bite me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Great American Next Band - Dec 7

Here is what happened. They moved the show back one hour. That threw me off. I had my entire weekend planned based on the show airing at 7:00 o’clock Central time. The time change set off a chain reaction of events from which I have just now composed myself. Hopefully, the gold lamé skin graft is not permanent.

Now that I’ve explained my inpromptitude for this blog posting, we can move on. Note to self, write a book consisting of lame excuses. Note to self, don’t steal Norm McDonald’s “note to self” bit.

This week, the potential great next bands decided, with the encouragement of the producers, to perform Queen songs. I reined in my potential agogness knowing the bands would not choose any of my favorite Queen songs, like Tie Your Mother Down, Liar, Sweet Lady and, let me not forget, Radio Ga Ga (How the hell did Queen degrade from Tie Your Mother Down to Radio Ga Ga? The damn 80’s ruined everything.). I was not disappointed, because, of course, I had already reined in my agogness. Let that be a lesson to you folks out there. The secret to happiness is a function of your agogness reining ability. Do not ever get too excited about the unknown. Fear the unknown and hide under the bed. God didn’t put you on this one and only planet that everything else revolves around to get noticed.

Speaking of not getting noticed, let’s get back to the show. The bands who made it out of the green room also played an original song. We’ve been given a wonderful gift. In ninety years, we’ll all be able to sit on the back porch with our grand children and tell them the story of the first time we ever heard the timeless mega-hits, A Matter of Time and Go On.

Dominic Bowden, manus extraordinaire, first set free The Clahk Brothers, who come from the land of trucks and dogs. Being in fast paced Los Angeles for so long, they’ve been feeling like a pickle in a fence post wrangling contest, according to their video expose’ snippet. Lucky for them, hardly any of the music business happens in LA, so once they win the show, they can get back to their sedentary lifestyle.

The Clahk Brothers took Dicko’s advice and hired a rhythm section. I cry foul. Or maybe fowl. Quack! It’s no fair bringing in other band members at this late stage. It changes the whole dynamic of who the band is. “Yeah, Dicko, we did what you said and brought in some extra help. I’d like to introduce to you Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Oh, my throat is a little sore, so I’ll just be lip syncing to Freddie Mercury vocals, if you don’t mind. The rest of the guys will just sit on the side of the stage and pray.” In my book, The Clahk Brothers are disqualified, especially since the two new guys aren’t even their brothers. But, Moist, what about the Doobie Brothers, they weren’t brothers either? Good point, I stand corrected.

They covered Queen’s These Are The Days Of Our Lives. What ever happened to Patch? I don’t like this song. It reminds me of the dying days of the AIDS ridden, skull headed Freddy Mercury. Now I’m sad. I didn’t choose to watch this show in order to be cast down to the sewers of depression. I go to work all week for that. I have no idea how well they performed the song because I couldn’t hear it over the sounds of my wailing. Goo thought they were amazing and liked the band member additions. E. said they were fantastic, and Dicko christened Ashley the Reluctant Rock Star. I thought David Lee Roth already earned that title.

The Clahk Brothers’ original was called Homestead. The beginning of the song reminded me of Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive, which is neither good nor bad, it just is. One of the lyrics derailed me, causing me to not be able to pay attention to the rest of the song. “Eating fried chicken with the girls in the yard.” Why don’t you invite the girls to come in and eat fried chicken with you? Why did you leave them in the yard? You are not the polite boys we thought you were.

They officially declared tonight that they did not want to win the competition. They can’t handle LA. They had to bring in extra help (which should have included a guy on the washboard and another one on the wash tub bass). And their original song laments missing the country life. All signs point to go back home. Goo thought they were great. E. loved the passion and conviction. Dicko took a crap rain on their parade.

Next, Dominic released the Light of Doom hoons just in the nick of time before Adam from Dot Dot Dot shared with them what happened to him when HE reached puberty. We learned from their video piece that Dillon’s mom looks like she’s lived some of her own hard driving rock and roll years. Way to pay it forward Mrs. Dillon’s mom. The walloping whippersnappers chose to perform We Will Rock You. This was a strategic career move so when they get eliminated from this show, they will have a demo tape to submit with their high school pep band application. They began the song, typically, with tribal drums, emulating the Bantu tribes of west Cameroon who perform this song while waiting in line for a bag of rice meal at the Peace Corps aid station. Soon they seamlessly (if you consider tripping over guitar cords, banging into the drum set and bonking their heads on microphones “seamless”) transitioned to an amped-up, generic version of the song, where the vocals tasted like rice meal and the guitar solo wreaked of rice meal powder with lumps in it. But, they are only thirteen and are better than most of the rest of us, so what can I say? I’ll tell you what I can do – not buy their album, that’s what. Now I sound like a beleaguered old man whose own rock and roll dreams were never realized. Well, I’m not. They WERE realized, only not by me. FERGIE IS LIVING MY ROCK AND ROLL DREAM AND I CAN’T BEAR IT!!!!!! Whew! That felt good. What a relief. Goo, E. and Dicko spanked Light of Doom for being uninspired, dumb and uncool. Light of Doom was ok with that as long as there were still juice boxes and cookies back stage. Goo agreed and told them to save some for him.

Light of Doom then played their original, A Matter of Time. It sounded like a YouTube cover of Iron Maiden’s Two Minutes to Midnight where the lyrics were “It’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, Don’t you know it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, it’s a matter of time, etc.” (note: the "etc." is actually one of the lyrics) Goo spanked them again because the song had no hook (reiteration is not a hook) and told them to go to their room and think about not being their influences. E. told them that Bon Scot said it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. Dicko had reined in his agogness before they played so he would not be disappointed, and thusly was not.

Sixwire, like The Clahk Brothers, does not want to win this competition, either. Their behind the band video told us they miss their kids, they have families and mortgages and are ready to go home. We can all sympathize with them because most of us are in a similar situation. Coincidentally, most of us aren’t on the road in a band. That comparison is as parallel as the six wires on a guitar, if you ask me.

Queen songs pose many challenges for other bands to cover, mostly because of Freddy Mercury’s vocal landscape. I don’t know what a vocal landscape is, but I’m sure Freddy’s is a difficult one to mow. In the face of such a formidable undertaking, Sixwire rolled up their sleeves, tucked in their boots, set a fresh chaw in their mouth, loaded their shotguns and cowered by choosing Queen’s most renowned country song – Fat Bottomed Girls. Way to test your limits S'wire. The only thing I discovered from their version of this song is that their lead singer should grow the Chester Arthur mutton chop, mustache combo on his face. That’s the kind of hook Goo would like to see. The judges loved them, even without the Chester Arthur influence.

Their original song was named Go On. If you like insipid televangical hopeful songs of gloriousness, this is the song for you. I expected to see Tammy Faye Bakker crying on a couch behind the fiddle player during the song. Since she has found her salvation, and is no longer with us, they had to settle for Kirk Cameron. I wanted the song to go on. Go on and never come back! HA! Good one, Moist. Goo thought the song was a hit, as good as anything he listens to on the radio, which is why I never drive anywhere with him. E. and Dicko both liked the song. I’m not going to drive anywhere with them either.

Which of the remaining two bands would live to “rock?” another day – Denver and the High Orchestra or Dot Dot Dot? We were all hoping Dominic had locked the green room door so neither band could escape. This show is all about disappointment. Denver and his mates snuck out through the ceiling tiles. Dot Dot Dot was no more.

Before I move on to Denver and the Omelettes, I’d like to say one positive thing about Dot Dot Dot. Hooray, now Catfight can re-band! But they probably won't.

Like the other bands, besides Light of Doom, who don’t know any better, Denver and the High Orchestra do not feel they fit in well in LA. They miss back home, it’s been heartbreaking and then they said something about church, so I turned the channel to TBN to see if Kirk Cameron was having a cage match with satan. He wasn’t, so I switched back to hear Denver announce themselves as DMHO. Ninety-third rule of rock and roll, if you are going to refer to your band as an acronym, then name your band the acronym and forget about the long version of the name. Isn’t that right, Alternating Current/Direct Current? DMHO sounds just as dorky as Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. Besides, you left out the “a” and the “t” for “and” and “the”. It should have been DATMHO. Datmho actually sounds pretty cool for a band name. Stick with that.

They Queened us with Sleeping On The Sidewalk. I’ve never heard this song before. They chose it to fool the listeners into thinking they had successfully Datmhoed the song into their own style without offending the original. Well, it worked, because nobody else knows how the song should sound, either. Goo offered some forgetful comments to them. E. suggested Denver take ball room dancing lessons with his trumpet. Dicko liked the song choice but told Denver to hook up with Carrot Top for some fashion advice.

Finally, Datmho finished us off with Big White House, another song I’ve never heard before. They enhanced the song by choreographing the horn section into a circle jerk on stage. The saxophone solo sounded like a goose with a tracheotomy performed with a pen by a construction worker in the street. Otherwise, the song wasn’t bad. Goo wanted to put grease on their song and pretend it was his bass player Robby Takac. E. thought it was powerful and energetic with no hook, kind of like the large pointy metal rod attached to a car battery she used to use to keep Joe Piscopo away from her drums back in the eighties (a decade that ruined everything, by the way). Dicko believed the song would make a good album track, but not a hit. Good point, toots.

The truth is I wouldn’t mind seeing these guys in a club one night, in the background while I’m waiting for hot chicks to hit on me. The ladies love when I tap my foot almost in time with the beat. But, Brian Setzer is currently holding the one musical position reserved for big band music in the pop world. Unless he switches genres to Hungarian Folk Death Samba, there is just no room for Datmho, which pretty much prevents them from becoming a Great American Next Band.

That and the fact that they are not a great American band, like the rest of the bands on the show.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Next Great American Band - Dec 7

Before I start I just wanted to say that I went out this week to see some real live music in a real live bar with real live music fans. Even though I had to drive through the snow and came home smelling like smoke and only got two hours sleep before having to get up for work… it was totally worth it and beat any possible night of watching television. I suggest you do the same. (By the way, two thumbs way up for Broad Tosser and The Von Ehrics for rocking the house that night.)

But since I started this show, let’s keep going. Winners never quit and quitters don’t get stuck watching crap television. We’re down to like, what, five bands and they’re still dragging this out to an hour? I hope they do it by adding commercials since I watch this on DVR. Now I find out it’s Queen week. I like Queen, which means this is going to piss me off. I like a nice steak, but I know better than to order one at Denny’s. Hmmm… I made a steak reference in an earlier post this week – maybe I need a good filet.

The Clark Brothers took on two new band members so they were called in from the green room to take on Those Were The Days Of Our Lives, Queen’s tribute to daytime television. I still like these guys and I can see that they reluctantly added the new members to appease the judges and stay on the show, but for me it took away some of what made them unique. I wanted to say it just made them a less cheesy version of Six Wire, but I didn’t want to insult the Clark Brothers like that. Let’s just say it was like asking for A1 at a nice steakhouse. Wow, another steak reference. Somebody get me a cow, stat.

America kicked me square in the nuts again and voted Light of Doom back to the stage to perform We Will Rock You. Our miniature wannabe rock lords this week started their song demonstrating their Japanese taiko drumming skills, so that in case the whole metal thing doesn’t work out they can don some hachimaki and apply as entertainment at their local hibachi restaurant. Crap, another steakhouse reference. But I digress. The song lent itself to some good guitar riffs, but the singer took all emotion and melody out of the vocals and the lead guitarist substituted a generic metal solo in place of anything even close to the original, classic guitar solo. Fortunately, all three judges placed an ice pack on my sore nether region by agreeing with me this week and almost making the boys and their fans cry.

Six Wire re-elevated my pain when they were called out to perform Fat-Bottomed Girls. Even though I don’t care for these guys, I usually give them their props as talented musicians, but this just sounded flatter than the earth before 1492. Maybe it just points out how great a group Queen was. I distracted myself from their music by trying not to believe that the Burden Brothers broke up because that was really Vaden Todd Lewis on guitar duty for Six Wire. That would make them even more despised. At least they didn’t inspire any steak references.

Two bands left in the green room, one band leaves. I’d rather have Denver and the Invesco Field Orchestra and Dot Dot Dot fight it out with chain saws, but the producers went with the standard, but boring, let America vote option. I’ll give Dot Dot Dot credit for making it to the top five, but there’s just something a little bit more humiliating by having to to go home after losing a head to head faceoff against a swing band. And America gave us Denver and Company to perform Sleeping On The Sidewalk. Way to go, Denver, you get a catalog like Queen’s to choose from and a band big enough to do any of it and you pick an obscure deep side-two cut that very few people know. Surprisingly, it sounded like a Denver and the Ivesco Field Orchestra song. Pretty good but not exactly groundbreaking stuff here.

Okay that moved fairly quickly…oh, wait, my DVR shows we have 26 minutes left. I’m hoping for a 26 minute infomercial for the ab-rocker, but I don’t think I’ll be so lucky. Ah, the remaining bands get to do an original, too.

Clark Brothers – Homestead
Cool tune even though the lyrics were a little Six Wire-ish (that’s not a compliment), but I’d rather see them back as a threesome. Even Charlie didn’t add any Angels when he made the transition from television to the big screen. Nope, Charlie had conviction. With the drums and bass, it seems like they’re destined to be a more interesting opener for a cheesy hit making band like Six Wire.

Light of Doom – A Matter Of Time
The band actually sounded decent here even though the song was as distinctive as a bowl of mashed potatoes. And by band, I mean the music, as any song sung by anyone under the age of 17 sounds like it belongs in a school pageant instead of on the radio or my iPod.

Six Wire – Go On
It’s too bad they made the decision to sell their souls to Simon Fuller and the American Idol franchise – with a little more patience they probably could have gotten a record deal since breaking into the safety deposit box that holds the secret formula to cheesy Nashville success.

Denver & IFO – Big White House
The actual song was pretty good, but not as performed by them. I might have voted for them had they dropped Denver and hired a woman with some soul to bring it on home. Like Eleanor Roosevelt.

And like Eleanor Roosevelt used to do on those long cold nights in the big White House, I’m calling it a night and curling up with a bottle of cheap scotch and a dog-eared copy of the Kama Sutra.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Lick It Up

I’m totally lame.

Crystal Bernard? Serious? Of course she was irresistible on Happy Days. But I stuck with her in the 80’s during her Love Boat days until she served up the cuteness on It’s A Living. I watched her work the lunch counter at the Nantucket Airport on Wings. I listened to her music and pretended there was nothing wrong with pairing up with Peter Cetera. That should have been the first warning sign. I even downloaded one of her tunes just because I saw her singing it on a Stairmaster during a commercial for a now defunct health club. I suppose my crush should also have been defunct by then, but she had grown as comfortable as an old sweater that’s no longer in style. But I wore that sweater out in public – carrying her music on my iPod, sleeping on my Crystal pillowcase and even using valuable blog space promoting her movies sight unseen. Where was the intervention from my so-called friends? Huh? I’m talking to you guys.

But on October 14, 2006 there appeared the first sign of weakness in the Bernard levee.

Every couple years I find a new artist that knocks the boxers right off my ass. The kind that makes you stop what you’re doing the first time you hear them and immediately put clothes on and go buy their entire back catalogue so you can catch up on everything they’ve done. It was that date I first discovered and listened to a new record called Four on the Floor. It was raw but tight, high energy and hook-laden, and rocked from start to finish under the guidance of the imperfect yet befitting female vocals. Unfortunately, some personal issues took precedence over iTunes about the same time and I didn’t get to rock out as much as I would have liked, so Juliette and the Licks lamentingly gathered a little dust in the mp3 bin of my hard drive for a few months.

Fast forward a year and I’ve returned to my regularly scheduled life, which includes perusing the weekly escort ads music calendar in the newspaper. I squealed like a little girl when I saw that Juliette and the Licks were coming to town – not because I was excited, but because a mouse had scurried across the floor at the same time. I can’t stand mice. I guess I should stop reading the newspaper in pet stores. Or start traveling with a hungry snake. But I digress. I rustled up a couple friends and even ordered tickets in advance so that there would be no chance to skip out last minute. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night would keep us from Reggie’s that day – we would be all over that place like Jack Nicholson on the Staples Center.

I spent most of the week leading up to the show reacquainting myself with the Licks’ two records nearly non-stop. The energy spewing forth from the speakers even allowed me to give up my meth habit, and I can once again use my bathtub for its rightful purpose – making homemade wine coolers. Again, I digress.

On the night of the show, we were all to meet up early at Reggie’s since they have a bar and grill right next to the venue and I can only get people to go out with me if I promise to buy them beers and stuffed jalapenos. I also noted there was a signing at the record store upstairs before the show, but I wasn’t planning on going since I always feel like a dork when I meet somebody famous. I mean, I always feel like a dork, but even more so around people that rock the Richter scale of cool. Juliette fits that bill for me. In case you don’t know or haven’t figured it out by now, the Juliette of whom I speak is also the Oscar nominated actress Juliette Lewis.

I always liked the quirky or twisted roles and movies she chose as an actress – Cape Fear, Kalifornia, Natural Born Killers, Titanic, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Old School – but I was too busy with that other woman Crystal to pursue any further stalking activities. However, as Juliette hit the circuit to promote the latest record I noticed she was way cooler than Crystal Bernard and Peter Cetera put together. Can you believe it? So when Moist Rub said he might go to the signing, I didn’t hesitate to jump on the bandwagon. After all, how often do you get to meet a bitchin’ Oscar nominee rock star without having to pretend to be a lost home healthcare worker and accidentally showing up at their door? Oh, and I was joking about Titanic - just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Me and the Mrs. got to Reggie’s right on time and checked out the store – that alone was worth the visit. The Licks weren’t there yet – fashionably late, of course – but it gave us the opportunity to frolic amongst the homemade bins of CD’s and LP’s from every genre. It brought back memories of skipping class with Moist Rub to go to Record Swap to pick up vinyl gems like Lydia Lunch’s The Agony is the Ecstasy and the self-titled debut from German metal masters Underdog (Shut Up You Dudes). But I digress. There were about 20 people in line for the signing when the light through yonder window broke and the band showed up. I didn’t have anything for them to sign except for my bony ass so I continued to peruse the store’s offerings while watching the band through a hole I cut in a newspaper to remain inconspicuous. Some observations from my Nancy Drew notebook:

You could have substituted random Republican presidential candidates for the Licks and not many people would have noticed. Most were there to see Juliette and ignored the other Licks like chicken breasts in a steakhouse. I kind of felt bad for them until I realized that they don’t have to wake up every morning at 6 a.m. to work on spreadsheets all day.

The douchebag memorabilia dealers who lined up with their binders of photos for her to sign seemed just one step above paparazzi. You know how when you buy a new car and you finally negotiate your deal with the sales guy and you think you’re done and then they sic the finance guy on you? So after the paparazzi get their pictures, then the memorabilia jags sic themselves on celebs during appearances and try to ruin it for everyone else. However, she appeared accommodating without showing too many obvious signs of displeasure. Just like most of my ex-girlfriends.

“This is so old… why do you even have this?” (I’ve heard that before…)

She was super cool to the real fans there to meet her and took the time to talk, pose for pictures, and personalize the signings.

JL (to a fan presenting a CD insert): Do you want me to personalize it?
Nervous Fan: Yes.
longer than expected pause…
JL (very politely): Okay, can you tell me who you want it made out to?

The line was dwindling down and Moist Rub wasn’t around so I decided to jump in to get a picture. The chick in front of me had something signed then handed me her camera to take a picture of her and Juliette. I, of course, like most people in that situation, turned into a blithering idiot caveman that had never seen a camera before.

“Ack! What is this strange device?? How do I work it?”
“You press the button the top right just like every other camera that’s been manufactured since the invention of photography by George Eastman in 1888, dumbass.”
“But of course! Smile and say ‘Bite me!’”

Finally it was my turn and I froze like Cindy Brady on Quiz the Kids. Not really. I told her I didn’t have anything to sign (I decided to keep my bony ass rightfully in my Wranglers) but asked if I could just get a picture. She turned and got right in my face, stared directly in my eyes and said, “You look really familiar…” I told her that she looked familiar, too, but she ignored my witty reply and kept staring. It felt like 10 minutes, but it was probably just a few seconds. After she convinced herself that I didn’t look familiar in a bad way, like an ex-boyfriend or a stalker or a multi-level marketer, she obviously became quite smitten with me. [“True, I talk of dream/Which are the children of an idle brain/Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.”] The Mrs. had coincidentally heard her do a radio interview earlier that day and fed me some good information, including a couple of her favorite words of the moment. I had her at “wild antics”. Before I knew it, she was posing for the picture with her arm around me and suddenly I was no longer lame. The Crystal curse was lifted and I was filled with Lick love and enlightenment. I thanked her and told the band I was looking forward to a muscular show, another adjective she had touted on the radio earlier that day.

As we walked off and looked at the picture, it was awesome – she totally rocked it, Elmer Fudd hat and all. However, I had decided to close my eyes when the shutter snapped. Son of a bitch. Fortunately there were only a couple people in line behind us so I hopped back in the queue and was up again a few minutes later to resolve our first star-crossed meeting.

“If I look familiar this time it’s because I just got a picture a few minutes ago but I had my eyes closed so do you mind doing it again?”

Without hesitation she again popped up next to me, struck another totally different but rockin’ pose and we nailed it. We would become American Gothic for the next generation. I thanked her again, told the band that the new record totally rocks (although one of them looked suspiciously like Mitt Romney), and then I made a hasty retreat before she had the opportunity to ask me back to the bus for tea. My wife had been accommodating, even encouraging, up to this point so I didn’t want to push my luck.

After dinner back at the bar and grill with Moist Rub and Stiv, which was probably just as good as tea with Juliette, we made our way to the music club. We missed Scissors For Lefty, but I found their name annoying so didn’t feel too bad about missing them. Suffrajett was just getting ready to start – the sound was reminiscent of the dirty, fuzzy germ-ridden teddy bear that your kid just won’t let go of. I loved the show, but it didn’t leave me with a burning desire to weigh down my iPod with any of their tunes. But I’d see them live again and a couple tunes I’ve been listening to online are starting to grow on me. A lot.

Mrs. F’er (to Suffrajett’s singer at the merch booth): You rock, man!
Simi from Suffrajett: No, you rock!

The Licks finally came out and delivered, but you can’t get the sound from a story in a magazine or a blog post. But I’ll try. Take some riffs from KISS in the 70’s and throw in some female vocals and energy from The Gits in the early 90’s, and then add a costume or two from Zayra Alvarez and you’d be pretty close. The live show is muscular, just as she promises, and the band is solid all around.

Just like basketball players want to be rappers, and rappers want to be basketball players, it seems that actors want to be rock stars. In most cases, it results in tragedies like Mandy Moore, Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Keanu Reeves and Russell Crowe. But don’t discount Juliette – just consider her a rock star that did some acting to cover the bills before hitting the road. It paid better than waiting tables so don’t hold it against her. Instead, go buy a CD. Check out a show. You’ll be way cooler for doing so.

How fares my Juliette? That I ask again;
For nothing can be ill, if she be well.

Sorry, Crystal, there’s a new Indian Princess in town.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Juliette and the Ass Dimples

Here’s one thing I noticed about getting older. I don’t get overly excited about new bands or new albums very often anymore. I assume the cause of this is associated with the hardening of the retina as a person ages. The retina is located pretty close to the ear which is right next to the brain which is where the emotional goo happens, so there has to be some kind of connection there when it comes to the affects of music on the affects. This is not a medical report, so I will not delve further into the specifics of this phenomenon.

The last album I got ga-ga over was probably Green Day’s American Idiot. Of course, like the repressed teenager that I am, I played it over and over and over until the very mention of St. Jimmy caused me to become violently ill. Maybe I shouldn’t have been listening to it during those Clockwork Orange procedures my family interventioned me with. Although, when I was finally good and broken down, we all had a good cry together, which was comforting.

I can’t remember the last time a band threw me into a fanatic tail spin. Maybe The Pixies. Or the Lovehammers. Possibly Light of Doom. I don’t know. I remember the feeling, but never the memory (note, if you are writing a song, please feel free to use that as a lyric). Recently, however, a band came my way that almost shifted my revvers into gung-ho spastic flamboyance.

Sid F’er had sent me some CD’s he may or may not have copied illegally. I’m kidding. They were all store bought from Target. Sid loves shopping at Target. The only thing he loves more than shopping at Target is buying CD’s for me at Target, so leave him alone, coppers. One of those CD’s was Juliette and the Licks’ Four on the Floor. When I received the shipment, I did not notice the Licks CD because I was so excited about the other ones, especially the Guy and Ralna compilation from the Lawrence Welk years (don’t bother getting any of their recordings after 1982 – it’s a clump of heroin laced caterwauling). A few weeks later, after I sated my Guy and Ralna jones and listened to the other CD’s, I found the Juliette and the Licks CD peddling around in my underwear drawer. Just like I do to my dogs as punishment for peddling around in my underwear drawer, I jammed the CD into my CD player to give it a few spins. Instead of hearing irritated yelps and seeing looks of confusion on dog faces, as is the experience with my dogs and the CD player, the Licks CD produced glorious sounds of punk based rock and roll. I was enticed.

Juliette, of course, is Juliette Lewis, quirky movie star extraordinaire. Movie star. What a silly term. Anyway, I was surprised to hear such unabashed fury coming from the voice of this actress who I thought was retarded. The only movie I had ever seen her in (that I remembered) was The Other Sister, where she played a mentally challenged young woman who single handedly overthrows China’s communist regime. From that performance, I thought she was really mentally challenged, like Chris Burke who has Down Syndrome and played Corky on the TV show, Life Goes On (ABC 1989 – 1993) or that DiCaprio kid who played the retard in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. There was also a very talented actress in that movie who played Johnny Depp’s love interest, but I forgot her name. Darlene Cates, maybe? Nevermind. As it turns out, Ms. Lewis is a very fine actor.

OK, I’ll fess up. I knew Juliette Lewis wasn’t retarded. I merely concocted that entire paragraph so I could call Leonardo DiCaprio a retard just because his life is so much better than mine. I never said I wasn’t a shallow, vitriolic cur. Nonetheless, Juliette sings with lovely unabashed fury. I didn’t make that up, and I even threw in the “lovely” just so you know how serious I am about it, but she does sing lovelyingly.

The Licks enfronted by Juliette began to grow on me the more I listened, almost to the point of ga-ga, but not quite. I’m so mature now. Or do you say dilapidated? When Sid told me about their show in Chicago, I just about hit the roof (I had been cleaning my chimney when he called - luckily, I missed the roof and hit the patio). By this time, I had grown quite sweet on Ms. Lewis’s ability to rock out (this is even before I discovered her ass dimples – more on that later). The show was scheduled for the day before my birthday. I thought for sure, at midnight, she would call me on stage and give me a rock and roll birthday kiss full on the lips. I told Sid I was in.

Between then and the concert, I continued to listen to their CD, or as I refer to it, studying for the show. I also viewed some of their videos on the Internet. From what I saw, Juliette seemed like a bonafide rocker. This surprised me, because, with the exception of Ed Asner, no other acclaimed actor that I know of has ever transformed xeself into an authentic rock and roller. I grew suspicious. After studying the antics of the actor, Juliette Lewis, by renting all of her movies and watching them over and over and over and over, looking for clues, I determined that the dude is only ACTING like a rocker. I’m speaking of the Licks’ bass player. But if he’s acting, what’s to say that Juliette isn’t acting as well? We all know what a great actress she is. How do I know she isn’t just playing another role? She made me believe she was retarded. She made me believe she was a cold blooded murderer. Good gilbert grape nuts, she even made me believe she was the daughter of Chevy Chase. Even Meryl Streep couldn’t do that!

Luckily for my investigation, Juliette and the Licks had scheduled a record signing before the show. I planned to get there early, cut in line, confront this hoity-toity Hollywoodlander and pelt her with some very rude accusations of disgracing that which I love about the soul of rock and roll – guitar solos. And, the other thing about playing a rocker role.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a parking spot. By the time I got to the record store, the Licks were packing up and leaving. But, as I circled the building eighty-seven times searching for a parking spot, I shook my fist with disdain out the window at the record store. Surely, like the Princess and the Pea, she felt the lump made by my fist in the pile of mattresses that is our atmosphere.

I met Sid and Ms. F’er and StivOO in the bar and grill section of the Reggie’s rock experience facility (which also included the record store and the rock club where the band was to perform). We ordered some libations and some food. Ms. F’er had a mushroom on a bun, Sid opted for the chicken quesadilla, StivOO, who was late getting there because he was eating stuffed pizza with his family, took it easy and went with the half pound cheeseburger (which he finished and then ate most of my hot wings – the man is a pig) and I ordered the Reggie’s sampler platter, which included hot wings, onion rings, cheese sticks and a gallon of Rhine wine. Ms. F’er ate most of my onion rings and made me order some more for her. My rage for Juliette cooled off after a few beers. I was ready to give Ms. Lewis a chance to prove me wrong.

And prove me wrong she did (for those who don’t know me, it’s no grand feat to do that, just ask people who do know me). But before I get to that, I’d like to say a few words about the opening band, Sufrajett. Electric violin and lead singer’s voice and hair – good. Bulging leotards on lead singer, not so good – made me think I was watching a Richard Simmon’s workout video.

Juliette and her Licks took the stage. We waited around for about fifteen minutes when they finally brought it back and began their show. They had had it waxed. I watched with jaundiced eye, probably from too many beers at dinner. She sounded and acted authentic, but I wasn’t buying it. She was the master thespian and was merely acting. Although, her voice did sound very good and the band was rockin’ like an unstapled pig on a rodeo clown. Eventually, my foot started tapping. Then my head started bouncing with the beat. Finally, my right hand started doin’ a little air strummin’. This is full rock out mode for me, in case you didn’t know. I tend to rock out on the inside, where it hurts. She was winning me over. But I wasn’t sold yet. I felt the crowd quaking around me. She had riled them up, too. She couldn’t be that good of an actor, could she? She couldn’t fool that many people (around three hundred or so, I would say.) Remember when Foghat was at the peak of their popularity and the sold out stadiums (stadia) to which they would perform? That many people couldn’t be wrong.

Or, maybe that many people could be wrong.

Well, the Foghat fans weren’t wrong about them, and neither are the Juliette fans. She was making me feel it. And I was feeling it. And feel it I did. I felt like the Tin Man right after he received the baboon’s heart. I began to think about our potential birthday kiss, but was distracted by some superfan asswipe with pointy hair who stood by the stage and kept trying to draw her attention. She eventually announced him as Pointy Haired Asswipe and gave him a high five. He licked his hand. Apparently, he is their one groupie following them around the country. Hey, pointy bird, leave some of her for the rest of us!

Juliette began the show wearing a red leather jacket that she soon stripped off. Since she was in Chicago, she made sure to wear layers, because a cold snap could hit at any time. As she heated up during the show, she removed more and more clothing. Eventually, her most beloved asset was revealed – darling little ass dimples right above her butt cheeks. She had me and there was no turning back. I loaded up the Chapstick and took a Bianca blast mouth bath.

Then I noticed she was hanging on the rhythm guitar player much more than she was interacting with the rest of the band. “What’s going on here?” I asked. The woman standing next to me said, “What?” The music was very loud so she couldn’t understand what I said. So I repeated it louder, “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?” She replied, “Your breath smells lovely.”

Look, don’t go authentically rocking out, showing your adorable ass dimples, making all the fellas swoon over you and then start playing body footsie on stage with the rhythm guitar player. First of all, he’s the RHYTHM guitar player. Don’t waste your time with him. He gets the roadies' leftovers. Second, even if there is some hanky panky going on between them, save it for the dressing room. We in the audience with rock and roll boners don’t need to see that, and it certainly isn’t going to help any repeat sales of concert tickets. Third, now, when I go on stage to get my birthday kiss, I’m gonna hafta kick that dude’s ass, and he looks like he works out more than I do (so does Homer Simpson, for that matter). And finally, I want those ass dimples all to myself.

Being the professional that Juliette Lewis is, she sensed the impending argy bargy between me and the guitarist, so she ended the show twenty minutes short of midnight. I would not receive a birthday kiss from her this year. I was sad, yet relieved that I was not beat up on stage.

In spite of my inner turmoil soap opera with Juliette and her ability to rock righteous-like, and the whole thing with the pointy-headed freak and that jerk guitar player and the luscious ass dimples, the show was flagrantly fantastic. At the end, the whole band played a drum solo and then switched instruments. I haven’t seen something like that since that episode of ER when they all got drunk before the brain transplant and switched positions in the operating room. Oooo, that poor character played by Doris Roberts. She would have enjoyed the Licks show. Too bad her brain is now attached to her arm pit.

Before I left the venue, I talked to the pointy-haired, superfan asswipe and gave him my number so he can call me when he finds out where Juliette will be playing next year on my birthday. She owes me a kiss and maybe she’ll let me massage her ass dimples. Unless my retina is too hard by then to effectively endure their music.

Below is a snapshot I took of Juliette during the show while she was singing Paper Roses.

p.s. just in case I forgot to mention it, I really enjoyed seeing Juliette's ass dimples during the show.

Slippin' Away

So walking home tonight I slipped on some ice and went down hard. Like hit by Scott Stevens hard. To quote Greg Giraldo, you know you're old when people's first reaction when you fall is concern instead of laughter. Fortunately nobody was around to confirm I'm an old man, and I managed to make it home without any assistance or wisecracks. Upon arrival, I informed the Mrs. that I had a bruised knee, fractured elbow and cracked rib with a possible collapsed lung. After 1-1/2 years of medical school and further examination, she felt qualified to inform me that I had a healthy knee, a sore elbow, a possible bruised rib, and a knack for exaggeration.

F'er needs a new pair of shoes.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Next Great American Band - Nov 30

I just realized the irony of an Aussie hosting The Next Great American Band. That would be like America determining Middle East political policy. I also realized that although there are some good bands here, I don’t see any of them being great. But, what the hell, I’ve started this thing so let’s keep going. Although the songs of Rod Stewart aren’t going to do much to keep me around. Nothing against the guy, but I’m just feeling ornery right now. So be forewarned.

Dot Dot Dot. Damn, damn, damn, they get to continue and take on Young Turks. Man, the vocals here were all wrong for me, and the arrangement didn’t help much. You wouldn’t hire Rosie Perez for the audiobook reading of Catcher in the Rye.

Denver and the Ivesco Field Orchestra somehow got a ticket out of the green room again to do Baby Jane. Guess what… it sounded just like every other performance of theirs. Sure they’re consistent, but so is McDonald’s. And I’m not lovin’ it.

Six Wire. I feel the life just getting sucked out of me right about now, but stuck it out to hear Hot Legs. They’re definitely talented musicians but cheesier than Shania Twain in a bathtub of Cheez Whiz processed cheese sauce. And I’m not in the mood for gettin’ crazy with the Cheez Whiz.

Finally the Clark Brothers got the call and took on You’re In My Heart. And when I really needed them, they slowly poisoned me by taking a mellow song to begin with and stopping it down even further such that it would put the Lawrence Welk crowd to sleep. The judges called it moving, overwhelming, and magical, but I didn’t get it. I’m still on the bandwagon, but to me it’s one of those songs you endure by your favorite artists to get to the good stuff. If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!

Crunch time… two bands remaining in the green room and only one band leaves – Tres Bien or Light of Doom. The only way that the night can be salvaged is if the Twerps of Doom get sent packing. Unfortunately, it was one of those days where not only do you oversleep, but you get kicked in the nuts by your grandma. Tres Bien got the boot, but were consoled by Johnny Goo Goo telling them they had a career touring the country in a beat up van and playing crappy clubs and Sheila telling them they have a future as a Saturday morning cartoon. Thanks, guys.

So Light of Doom came out and dedicated Infatuation to Light of Doom. Weird. Can Rod Stewart sue LoD for doing that to his song? I’d award Rod whatever he wanted and also consider a class action suit in favor of anyone that had to witness that massacre.

I’m exhausted. Like check in to the hospital exhausted.