Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve is Amateur Hour.

Happy New Year!
Every year, people go out to New Years Eve parties at bars, homes, etc. And every year, lots of people get to start the new year in a jail cell for DUI, or worse...They get into wrecks and die, or kill someone else.

There is a reason why New Years Eve is worse than other holidays like Halloween, or even Super Bowl Sunday. Its because New Years Eve is amateur hour. Many people who do not drink, or don't drink excessively go out on New Years Eve, and drink excessively because New Years Eve is even more of a drinking holiday than St Patricks Day, or Super Bowl Sunday. Drinking is the point of this holiday. So, all these non drinkers or mild drinkers go out and get schnockered, and they assume they can drive. It isn't the alcoholics who are the extremely dangerous people behind the wheel. It isn't right, and I'm not condoning it, but the alcoholics and heavy regular drinkers who do drink and drive probably do it all the time. They don't get caught because A) they can handle their alcohol and B) They are good at it. But when you get these people who don't drink regularly behind the wheel, and its the chase scene from The Blues Brothers.

Am I driving ok?

A good friend of mine, Christopher Long was in a band called 'Dead Serios' back in the day. They had a song that I remember well called 'Designated Driver.' Some of the lyrics are:
Boozing! Cruising! Racing through the parking lot!
Belly up to the bar, a nice cold beer would hit the spot.
I can see you getting loaded. Hope you don't plan to drive.
I'm like you, I'm out there too, and I want to make it home alive
If you've had a few too many and you're blowing .15
I'll be the designated driver!
My car ain't too pretty but you'll make it home alive
I'll be the designated driver
Don't be the proud guy, try thinking of the other guy
If you ever lost someone you love,
You wouldn't be asking why.
How many more lives we gonna lose?
Its up to me, its up to you,
Its a point we're gonna prove!
It is pointless and dumb to drink and drive, and on New Years Eve, it isn't even necessary. You can get home safe even if you spent all your money. AAA is offering FREE TOWING to anyone, whether you're a AAA member or not. So, unless you're just incredibly freaking stupid, there's no excuse for drinking and driving on New Years Eve, and if you do, and get a DUI or worse, then you are an idiot, who deserves everything that happens to you.

Write that number down!
But, unfortunately, there are alot of idiots out there. There will be DUIs and deaths tonight.

Still, even WITH a designated driver, or a free tow from AAA, you are not safe. Even a sober person can't control the driving of a drunk idiot amateur who decided to drive. Sadly, its usually not the drunk driver who gets killed or seriously injured. Its usually the person they hit who gets that honor.

Also, there are check points everywhere. Don't think that you will turn around if you see one. You do that, and you'll find out just how fast a cop can get into a car and right on you. What do you think those police cars parked on the side of the road are for?

Like I said, its pretty dumb to drink and drive, with the free rides and tows being offered by AAA. But if you are still determined to prove your manliness by drinking and driving, there is something else you can get for free. I'm not talking about the free bed and food in jail either. Anyone who has had a DUI will tell you that there's nothing free about that. No, I'm talking about a free coffin! In 2009, a funeral parlor in Georgia offered a free funeral to anyone who would come in, and sign a form stating that they planned to drink and drive on New Years Eve if they died that night. 

Free to a dead drunk!

 That was 2009, but I'm sure they would honor it if you called and asked. I think the victim should be the one who gets a free funeral though. Funerals can cost as much as a DUI, so how fair is it that the family of an innocent sober person who gets killed by a drunk driver not only loses a loved one, but gets stuck with a bill for thousands of dollars because of a drunk idiot?

That is precisely why I stay in on New Years Eve. I haven't been out on New Years Eve since 2004, with the exception of 2007. I lived close enough to a bar that I could walk there and back. So, stay in on New Years Eve. There is no reason to endanger yourself. No reason to endanger others, and no reason to risk starting the new year in the hospital, jail, or morgue. Leave Amateur Hour to the idiots.

And to conclude my little PSA, just remember one thing, whether you go out, stay in, or whatever you do...Use a condom. There is a reason why there are so many Virgos born each year. What's 9 months from Christmas and New Year? Late August and early September. People get hammered and get knocked up. The result? VIRGOS! Not that Virgos are a bad thing. We are awesome! The world could use more of us! But an unexpected pregnancy will make the cost of a DUI look like the cost of a beer at the bar over the course of the kid's life.

So, enough of my yacking. Have a happy and safe New Years, and I hope the next year will be good for you.    


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Album Review- Stryper: No More Hell to Pay

As I mentioned in my post about 2013 possibly being the beginning of a heavy metal renaissance, there were quite a few 'return to form' albums released. Stryper's No Hell To Pay is one of them.  It is really great to hear something that sounds like what we all loved growing up, but with a touch of modern styling to make it appeal to a younger crowd.

The band has stated in interviews that this album comes right after 'To Hell With The Devil' as far as where it should be placed in the discography. And, they're right. The songs on the album have the piercing twin axe attack that Oz Fox and Michael Sweet were known for not only in THWTD, but also in Soldiers Under Command, and even The Yellow and Black Attack. Arguably their three best albums. Sweet says they were shooting for a heavier sound. Mission accomplished. There was also several hints back to the Reborn album that I caught as I listened to it. Reborn and Against the Law were also great albums.
One thing that you can't help but notice is that Michael Sweet's vocal range is completely intact, but he also has worked aggression into his voice. That is something that fits in their music like a pair of spandex pants. Its tight, and it sounds great. I haven't heard the Second Coming album yet, where the band re recorded a bunch of their classic material, but after hearing NMHTP, I may have to pick it up. The idea of hearing Soldiers Under Command with the raw aggression that Michael Sweet has in his voice now is very tempting.

Before we get into the meat of this review, I wanted to continue talking about this album and THWTD. The NMHTP cover looks similar to the limited edition cover that THWTD has. But, they also recreated the REAR cover of THWTD. In a side by side comparison of the two photos, it is obvious that Stryper did not waste themselves away with drugs like so many other bands did. They still look young, while some others look like extras on The Walking Dead.. (Not that I ever thought they were on drugs. In fact, I know they were not.)

I'm impressed they can still fit into those outfits..
Although, I STILL want to know what that contraption
on Oz's chest is.
And now, like I do for some of my reviews, a track by track look at the songs:

Track 1, Revelation: Starts off with a blazing harmony guitar intro that brings you into a very solid verse progression. Your head is bobbing back and forth right off the bat, and the chorus kind of reminds me of the vocal work on some of the Reborn songs. The guitar solo sounds like something off SUC and THWTD. I'm not talking about the solo itself. I'm talking about the sound of the guitar. Its like that on the entire album, which for whatever reason went away on the albums following THWTD.

Track 2, No More Hell to Pay: The opening licks of the song are all over the place....in a good way. They make me picture Oz Fox sitting there jamming with Glen Tipton of Judas Priest. Then, a lead over the intro sounding like the guitar in the opening lead licks of Soldiers Under Command. And the vocals? Remember when I said earlier that Michael Sweet's range was still intact? Yeah. I should also mention that they do not tune down to help the singer out like alot of bands do. The vocal harmonies are excellent too.

Track 3, Saved By Light: The aggression in Michael Sweet's voice I mentioned is boldly on display on this song. So is the range. Oz Fox's fingers are running full sprint the entire song, not only with a blistering solo, but with a very Maidenish opening riff.  The rhythm section is hitting with force as well. This song will punch you hard, and not apologize for it.

Track 4, Jesus Is Just Alright: Stryper is very good at doing covers. They released a whole album of them, and this Doobie Brothers cover is no exception. The backup vocals are vintage Stryper, while staying true to the original song. The music is also true to the original, although much heavier. Robert Sweet is abusing his drums, as hard as ever. The guitar solo? I'm just going to stop saying how great the solos are. They are great throughout the entire album.

Track 5, The One: This is the slowest song on the album, but it isn't a ballad in the sense of 'Honestly' or 'Together as One.' It has a little more of a beat, and relies more on guitar than those songs. There is keyboard, but it is a background instrument. I'd say that this is their heaviest ballad. The guitar solo with harmony and duel is beautifully done. (Ok, I may not be able to keep my promise about not talking about the guitar.)

Track 6, Legacy: Instant punch in the gut with guitars and a blistering vocal high note, and more of the aggression in Michael's voice. The guitar rhythm is very gritty and heavy, and this song is particularly heavy with the drums and bass. Tim Gaines gets a workout on this song too. This is definitely one of the heaviest songs on the album. This song (and entire album) will do wonders for Stryper's legacy.

Track 7, Marching Into Battle: This song has a Yellow and Black Attack feel to it. From the opening guitar licks to the vocals and solo. The chorus has a marching feel to it. The solo is a classic Sweet/Fox duel (or battle if you will) I could also here this song breaking in concert for a bass/drum solo.

Track 8, Te Amo: Have you heard Soldiers Under Command by Stryper? Of course you have. This song belongs on that album. I was amazed at how much it sounds like the style from the great songs on that album. Vocally and musically from the guitar, bass and drums. And, Soldiers is arguably the band's best album.

Track 9, Sticks and Stones: This one has more of a To Hell With The Devil feel to it, but with a more modern yet mature style. I particularly like the verse progressions. They go from smooth to crunchy, into a chorus that resembles 'Calling On You' in the way it flows. Its really amazing how Stryper is able to just channel these great albums with such ease.

Track 10, Water Into Wine: This song reminds me of the way a classic Van Halen song flows. Solid verse into big chorus with choppy guitar and a blistering solo, with loud drums and bass. It also reminds me of something else that I can't quite put my finger on. Its just a good song!

Track 11, Sympathy: Very gritty opening riff that makes me want to jump into my car, throw this CD into the CD player, and 'Head Out to the Highway.' I'm going to finish this and the last song, but I know I'm getting monotonous. Truth be told, there isn't a bad song on this album. This song's chorus is amazing with the vocal harmonies.

Track 12, Renewed: Another that would fit well on Soldiers. The opening/ verse riff is really tough. And, another great vocal performance from Michael Sweet. The chorus is choppy but still flows smoothly. I can't explain how, it just does. There's a breakdown in the song that slows down a little bit, then punches you with the opening riff, and throws you into into the guitar solo. Another duel, and probably my favorite solo on the album. It concludes with a blistering high note.

Over all, No More Hell To Pay is the best album since To Hell With The Devil, and would have made a great successor to that album. I certainly feel 'Renewed' after listening to it. Stryper's bold Christian message is there just as strong as it was in the early albums. I can see myself listening to this one over and over again, and I will definitely be seeing Stryper in concert for a fourth time when they come to my area. So, if you haven't done it yet, BUY THIS ALBUM!!! Michael Sweet and Oz Fox are one of metal's best guitar duos, and Michael is one of metal's best singers. And not only does the band get back to showing that level of skill, they did it on a simply great album.

Speaking of their concerts, the last time I saw Stryper was on the Reborn tour. There were LOTS of teenagers there. I went up to one, and I asked him why he was there, and how he knows Stryper. He told me that he was learning how to play guitar, and that his big brother talked about them all the time, and that he bought their albums, and he was there because he HAD to see Soldiers Under Command preformed live.

There is hope. If 2013 was a sign of things to come, there are great things coming for us 80's metalheads.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013: Beginning of a Heavy Metal Renaissance?

Metal, and I mean REAL good ol' heavy metal that dominated the 80's has been dead since the end of the 80's. It seems to have gone by the wayside, with the bands breaking up, and the ones that don't break up decided to change with the times and neuter their music. It was a shame. Metal fans from all over the globe wondered what the hell happened to their music and bands, and were demanding real bands back. But, the record companies had decided that metal was dead, and flannel was the new leather. Crappy 3 chord progressions with bad mixdowns, and a monotone whiners calling themselves singers replaced the incredible virtuoso guitarists, excellent vocals by guys who actually sang, and the recordings were produced by professionals.

But, hope was not lost. In 2008,  a group of visionaries came forth, and put together a band that would make people realize just how much of a good thing was gone. They were not afraid to once again don the leather, makeup, and mega talented song writing abilities. Steel Panther took the stage, and asked the important question:
Where is Def Leppard? Where is Mötley Crüe?Why do all my lyrics sound like Dr. Seuss?
Also, leading the battle cry against all things modern corporate music machine with a powerful incantation, they pierced the stratosphere, screaming 'DEATH TO ALL BUT METAL!!!!!'

At first, the band was labeled as a gimmick that wouldn't last long. But, as the crowds and venues they played got larger, combined with exposed boobies and cigarette lighters returning to concerts, people began realizing that REAL metal had been underground for far too long...And that it was time bring it back! Heavy Metal faithful rejoice!

Critics weren't the only people to recognize the truth. Slowly but surely, the metal bands of the 1980's began reforming and writing new 'return to form' types of albums. A handful of musicians grouped up to form supergroups. And it was a breath of fresh air to every metal fan who grew up in Metal's Golden Age. But, new fans were getting in on it too. Look at the ages of people on these bands Facebook pages...I've seen many teenagers on pages for bands like Queensryche or even Fates Warning saying that they were new fans, and they love that type of music. Its very refreshing. You can also see it at these bands concerts. Especially Steel Panther. Its not just 40+ year old women flashing their boobies. ;)
reforming and writing new 'return to form' types of albums. A handful of musicians grouped up to form supergroups. And it was a breath of fresh air to every metal fan who grew up in

In 2013, twenty four classic metal bands/ artists released new studio albums. Most of them were 'return to form' type albums, and they all have one thing in common...They are SELLING. I'm going to list my top 10 in no particular order here:

If you look up 'return to form album' in the dictionary, you will see this album. After many years of disappointing albums, Queensryche, along with Todd LaTorre on vocals released their self titled effort, which easily fits in the category of Queensryche's great albums along with Operation: Mindcrime, Rage for Order, and Promised Land. Its first month outsold BOTH of their previous albums in their first months combined.

Another 'Return to form' album, Stryper proudly releases 'No More Hell to Pay' which fits in between their greatest albums, Soldiers Under Command and To Hell With The Devil. Michael Sweet still has the range he did in the 80's. If anything, his voice is even more powerful.

In keeping with the 'return to form' model here, Skid Row released the album that should have come after Slave to the Grind, United World Rebellion: Part One. Seems like everyone still has 'GOT' it!

Fates Warning, after a long hiatus got back together, and released Darkness in a Different Light, and it
seemed like they never even went away in the first place.

Alice in Chains, is back with a new singer. They released The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, one of their best albums to date. I am not aware of any Alice in Chains albums that weren't good, so there's no surprise here. I know they came after the 80's, but they were really the only band that was worth a damn in the grunge era. That's because they weren't a grunge band. They were a metal band that happened to come from Seattle.

Megadeth and Super Collider. Need I say more? Dave Mustaine and Megadeth are one of the only 80's bands that never went through an 'album selling' phase by wearing makeup and making stripped down music to try to fit in with what was popular in the 90's. Their sound did change, but not in an effort to fit in. It was to do something a little different for a change. Say what you want about Megadeth. At least they never released an album with no guitar solos.

Another 'return to form' album, Black Sabbath returned to their deep, creepy, doom and gloom, apocalyptic sound that put them on the map in the first place with 13.  It was strange hearing 'Is God Dead?' being played on the radio right after some crappy band named after a position in football.

Motorhead and Aftershock. Nothing else necessary to say other than 'LEMMY!'

Got it? Good.

Pamela Moore's album, Resurrect Me is iconic. It is her first heavy metal album, and it is just as much of a heavy hitter as any of these others. In fact, most of the songs on this album make just about anything on rock radio stations these days seem like bubblegum...or maybe they are bubblegum? Who cares? This album kicks ass!

What a good way to round out the list than with Dream Theater. They have yet another self titled effort, and its my favorite since their first two albums, Images and Words, and Awake. 

Honorable mention to The Winery Dogs for their self titled release. Consisting of Billy Sheehan, Ritchie Kotzen, and Mike Portnoy, they have released one of the best 'supergroup' albums ever done.

Check out the other 14 classics who have all released great albums this year:

Jason Newsted's 'Newsted' and 'Heavy Metal Music'
Helloween: Straight out of Hell
Saxon: Sacrifice
Krokus: Dirty Dynamite
Anthrax: Anthems
Warlord: the Holy Empire
Suicidal Tendencies: 13
Deep Purple: Now What?
Vicious Rumors: Electric Punishment
Kingdom come: Outlier
UDO: Steelhammer
Anvil: Hope in Hell
GWAR: Battle Maximus

I'm sure I missed a few. There were also several bands like Judas Priest and Manowar who released live albums.

Honestly, can you think of a better year for metal albums than 2013 in the past 20 years or so? I can't. And, I'm hoping that 2014 will be even better with more 'return to form' albums, and overall great albums. These releases are better than any of the current 'modern' metal bands on their BEST days. There are several exceptions. Bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, etc are great bands, but we aren't talking about modern bands now, are we?

So, go out and buy these albums! Support the bands when they come in concert, bug the crap out of your local rock radio stations, and maybe...Just maybe Heavy Metal will return to its glory years in a spandex and leather Metal Renaissance!

Check Please: Stories of Abandoned Dates

We all have them...Stories from dates in the past. Good stories, bad stories, funny stories, or just plain old interesting stories. Here are a few of mine from my single days. Nights where I walked out on my date for various reasons. Hopefully you find these as interesting as I do.

We'll start with 2 dates that I bailed on. Yep. A guy who actually walked out on a date. I was working as a photographer in Hilton Head, SC. I had a gig where I would take boarding photos of people for a dinner cruise with the lighthouse in the background of the photo. I would go get the photos printed, and sell them when the cruise got back. There is a bar close by where I was a regular. I adored one of the waitresses there, and had been flirting with her for about a week, and the other waiters and bar tenders were telling her that I was cool and to calm down and go out with me. One day, she was working a day shift, and I showed up for some food before I went to take my pictures. There was a concert that same night that she was going to closeby. I asked her if she wanted to go out after I got done. She said she was going to the concert, but would meet me at this bar after the show, about 10:00 and we would go out. I got done with my photos, and went to the bar to wait for her. The bartender told me that she was excited about going out with me. Well, the show ended, and she came over to the bar, but she was 3 sheets to the wind, sloppy, staggering drunk. We went to a different bar, and the whole time, she was blurting out things like "HEEEE LIIIIKES MEEEE!!! AND I LIIIIKE HIMMMMMM! She also started beating on my back for some reason. Then, she fell on her ass. I asked the bartender if anybody there knew her. The bartender said he knew her, and would call her roommate and have her come pick her up. I thanked him, and left. I saw her the next day when I worked. She was embarrassed, and apologized. I told her it was ok, and we stayed friends, but neither of us asked the other out again.
Frank, I's gonna tell you somethin I've
 NEEVER told a guy
before...I REALLY love horsies!

I get that everybody has gotten schnockered, and made fools out of themselves. I have on more than one occasion. But, I've never done it on a first date. I've been told by guys after telling this story that I was an idiot for turning down a sure thing as far as getting laid that night. Seriously? Since my early 20's, I have never been so desperate for sex that I would put up with someone acting like a moron and embarrassing me.

Another quick story before I continue that I just reminded myself of...I was at a bar one night, and there was a woman who was blitzed, and didn't realize that she was about to get her ass kicked by another woman. She got kicked out of the bar, but started screaming that she didn't have a ride. The bartender said she was about to call the police. I was ready to go to another bar to meet some people, and I told her to come with me before she got arrested. She did. The whole ride there, she was talking about suing the bar. I was going to get her some coffee, and if she calmed down, maybe try for a little company for the night. (she was really hot.) I met up with my friends, and got her some coffee. She then blew up on me, calling me names, while telling me that I was going to testify at her hearing when she sued the other bar. I tried to get her to calm down, and finally, I had enough. I simply told her to go away. Once she realized I was serious, she got real quiet and sat down at the bar alone, while my friends laughed hysterically. 

Once again, Not going to take being screamed at by some chick just to get a little action.

The next story started the same way most do. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks girl out, girl says yes...but the rest rarely happens, as the reaction from friends proves. People just can't believe that a guy would walk out on a date with a pretty girl. Anyway, we decided to go out for drinks the next night. We were sitting at the bar, talking when she saw some friends. She said she would be right back. She came back, when her drink was empty. This went on for about 30 minutes. I had enough, and went to the table, and said that I had to get something from my car, and I would be right back. She had left a bag in the car. I grabbed it, came back in, and gave it to her, and told her I was gone. She was puzzled, saying she was just about to come back . The 2 guys she was sitting with were intimidated. I'm 6'4" and 230 lbs. One said "Hey man, I didn't know she was with you, and I don't want any problems." I told him that I had no problems with him, and I just wanted to give her back her bag, and they could have her. I walked out, and she followed, trying to talk to me but I kept walking. I got into my car and drove away. I ran into her a few days later, and she tried to apologize. I asked her if she had gotten home safely, and walked away again.

People have actually told me that I was rude, and in the wrong here. I want to know why. Sure, I made a scene, but the scene was "Do NOT Screw with me." If I had walked up to her and asked her to please stop ignoring me, I would have been a laughing stock for the two guys she was sitting with. Instead, they were both scared of me. So, seriously, who was in the wrong here? Her or me?

Seriously though, let me analyze the two for you. There are differences in what both women did. For example, the second one, we didn't know each other. I literally met her the first day, and asked her out on the spot. I didn't know her from anyone. So, when I ditched her, I had no history with her whatsoever. I wasn't mad at her after the fact, but I also didn't want to waste my time with her. In my opinion, her trying to apologize to me days later meant to me that she wanted to try again. I did not, so I was rude to her because I didn't feel like explaining it. She knew what she did, so wasting my time by letting her apologize could have given her the wrong idea about my intentions, which is why I walked away. 

The first one, I had a friendship more or less before we went out. I had known her for about a month and a half, but I started flirting with her about a week before formally asking her out. She got drunk, and made an ass out of herself. It happens. I've been on the opposite side of this coin as well. So, I wasn't mad at her when that happened, but I also didn't want to be in a relationship with someone who went that crazy with the booze. 

Next, here's a story where I got walked out on... I was 18 or 19. I had just broken up with a girl. She was crazy, and I do mean crazy. Follow you like a lost puppy crazy...Collect the hair out of your hairbrush crazy...Together less than a month, and talking about marriage and children crazy...Wants to completely isolate you from the world crazy...You get the picture. 

Anyway, she of course was devastated, and couldn't live without me. She was constantly trying to get me to take her back.  One day, I got a phone call. It was one of her friends who asked me out to dinner. I was not into this friend at all, and I suspected something was up. The first half of the dinner, she was talking about the girl I had broken up with. I was right. It was a setup to try to get me to feel nostalgic and take my ex back. 

Finally, I put the brakes on it by saying that I didn't want to talk about my ex anymore. I wanted to talk about the two of us. I started to get close to her, put my arm around her, and tried to kiss her. She kept trying to talk about how I should go back to the ex, so I grabbed her in a gentle but firm way, and kissed her on the mouth. That did it. She slapped me, and left and called someone to pick her up. My plan worked, my ex's plan backfired, and I never heard from either of them again.

What kind of friend sends another friend to do that? I tell you, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the two of them talked next.

And now, the finale. I saved the best for last. This wasn't a date in the typical sense. I was married to my first wife at the time, and I went to a friend's bar by myself to hang out with my buddy, who was working that night. We were talking, when all of a sudden, a rather attractive woman sat down next to me, and started talking to me. The bar started getting busy, and my friend had to get to work making drinks. This woman started buying me drink after drink, and I noticed her look at my wedding band several times. I continued to talk to her, and every so often, she would lean in and try to kiss me. I stopped her every time, saying that I didn't like to make out in public. She laughed and called me a tease. Finally, the night started drawing to a close. I was starting to wonder how I was going to get out of this. (I never cheat.) Then, an opportunity presented itself. She said she needed to use the restroom, but she assumed we were going back to her place together. I said yes, and winked at her. She got up, and I looked at my friend and said "Later bud!" He laughed, and shook his head. The next time I went to that bar, my friend told me that when she came out of the bathroom and realized that I had left, she was furious.

So, there you guys go. To all of you who have spent an entire evening at a bar, buying drinks for a woman you just met, only to have her ditch you at the end of the night, I did that for YOU! Its happened to me, and I'm sure its happened to the rest of you. So, raise your drinks, and toast! I toast the brotherhood of men. I have avenged all of you! And, it was SO worth it. Once again, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

One last thing, guys...You owe me a beer for doing that for you. You're welcome! 

I hope you all enjoyed these stories. I sure had fun reliving them as I told them. Let's hear yours in the replies!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kill All Fire Ants...And Flog the Fire Ant Huggers!

Unless you don't have internet access, you have seen the viral YouTube video of the guy pouring molten aluminum into an ant bed. (And if you don't have internet access, how are you reading this?)

Anyway, here's the video. If you haven't seen it, check it out. Its really cool. And, check out his website for detailed photos of the sculpture.

Before we get into the actual meat of this post, let me first say that if you know how to acquire molten aluminum, please let me know. I want one of those awesome sculptures, and I want to make them and sell them as well. You can too, I guess. Just make sure I get some credit for giving you the idea. Checks can be made out to...Nevermind. Just leave me a thank you

Anyway, the fun police jumped all over this story. The guy who posted this video also posted this:
“I disabled comments because I’m sick of your bickering, Also, I couldn't get YouTube to stop sending me an email every time someone posted ‘What if I poured aluminum in your house’ for the 100th time.”

Geez, people. They are FIRE ANTS. They are in absolutely NO danger of becoming endangered, and they will probably be on the planet almost as long as cockroaches. And, if you try to pour aluminum in my house, just remember that I support the second amendment.

One of the things I do best is to illustrate how irrational and ridiculous people can be, and by the time you are finished reading this, if you were undecided, you will agree with 2 things. One, Fire ants are devil spawn and deserve to DIE! And two, the people who are rushing to the aid of fire ants...or fire ant huggers...need to have their heads examined.

First of all, fire ants are invasive creatures. Invasive means that they are INVADERS!!! Fire ants are native to South America, and were transported to the United States much the same way the bubonic plague was spread...BOATS! The RIFA (red imported fire ant) was accidentally introduced into the United States aboard a South American cargo ship that docked at the port of Mobile, Alabama, in the 1930s, and came to infest the majority of the Southern and Southwestern United StatesAll it takes is a very small number of them to create a new colony. And, the way the colonies multiply is so fast that the old saying 'breed like rabbits' should be changed to 'breed like fire ants.'

Read this from the Wikipedia page:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates more than $5 billion is spent annually on medical treatment, damage, and control in RIFA-infested areas. Further, the ants cause approximately $750 million in damage to agricultural assets, including veterinary bills and livestock loss, as well as crop loss.
Cows, horses, sheep, etc have to live
in fields that look like this. Think of how
many sculptures you could get!

So, why do groups like PETA and nuts like them care about fire ants? Have they ever been bitten by fire ants? I fell into a fire ant bed when I was a little kid. Three years old maybe? I don't remember much from that far back, but I sure as hell remember that. As a result, I have gotten very creative with ways to kill them. This way would be REALLY cool, and you could proudly display the war trophy. So to  all you fire ant huggers, before you leave me all those comments saying how a fire ant's life is more valuable than mine, just take a look at this pic to the left and remember it.

So, we already covered fire ants being invaders. But, I'm sure that somebody who left that guy a message about how cruel killing the ants was knew that. I wonder if those same people had the same view about the Burmese Pythons that are destroying the Everglades in Florida? Go read about  Python Challenge. The pythons are eating alligators, not to mention EVERYTHING else, and completely destroying the ecosystem there. Do these fire ant huggers feel the same way about the pythons and the hunters going down there specifically to kill them? I doubt it. That's because the fire ant huggers are probably afraid of their own shadow, so of course they would be ok with killing a big scary snake.

Ok to kill invasive snakes but not invasive ants??

First of all, they will never go extinct like I said earlier, but even if they did, there are plenty of other insects and animals out there that will clean the ecosystem. How do you think North America did it before those demonic pestilence were unleashed on the continent?

Also, if you are or know a fire ant hugger who is pissed off about this guy making the aluminum sculptures, just invite them to go stick their hand in a fire ant bed, while they  explain to the ants that they have got the ant's backs. They will show you how appreciative they are.

So much fun those fire ants, huh?

Another thing, I want to know where these dumb people who are screaming about this guy killing the fire ants are when it comes to the exterminator. Are they out protesting? Are they holding signs at the local Terminex, blocking the driveways so their trucks can't get out, chanting "Go to work? No you can't! We must protect the fire ants!"

They are out there. I would love to see a video of an actual protest at an exterminator's business. That would make for some great entertainment. But since that isn't likely at the moment, I'll just leave you with this gem of a commercial:

This blog post is NOT brought to you by Ortho. I just think the commercial kicks ass!

The only good fire ant is a DEAD fire ant.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Top 5 Fictional Rock Band Movies

And now, back to the countdown!

Here is my listing of the top 10 fictional rock band movies of all time. Let me give you the criteria. It has to be a movie about being in a band, and it has to be realistic. Also, I have to have seen the film. For example, Pink Floyd's The Wall won't be on the list because as great as it is, it isn't about a day in the life of a fictitious band. Its about the mental destruction of a rock star. Also, Rock of Ages won't be on this list either because while its a fun movie, it is simply a little too far fetched. Its supposed to be based on the scene in the 80's along the strip in LA in the 80's, and the Whiskey a Go Go. Instead, we get the notion that pipe dreams do come true, and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, that ain't reality. The reality is that being in a band from the local level up is dirty, time consuming, and often, not very rewarding. The movies on this list show that. Oh, and by the way...Rock Star will not be on the list. Rock Star was supposed to be the story of Ripper Owens and Judas Priest, until Hollywood wanted to turn it into a chick flick. Also, Almost Famous won't be on the list. While it is a great movie, the story is about the kid, not the band.

So, here we go:

#5 The Rocker A teenager's band loses their drummer. However, the nerdy keyboard player's uncle is the original drummer from a now legendary hair metal band. He was screwed out of the band when the they got signed. He never recovered. The keyboard player asks him to join his band. He does, and through an accidental gimmick that gets posted online, the band gets signed. They go on tour, and the drummer tries to live the decadent 80's metal band touring stereotype, but finds out he is just too old and his body can't take that kind of a pounding anymore. The band gets selected to open for none other than the drummer's first band, and winds up upstaging them.

There are lots of real moments in this movie. Particularly when the drummer gets screwed when the band gets signed. That happens more often than you might think. The record company doesn't like one band member in particular, and wants him replaced. That's what happened with Pete Best and The Beatles. In fact, Pete makes a cameo in the movie as himself. Everything in the movie either does happen, or could happen...except for an emo/alternative band being selected to open for a metal band, then upstaging them. That would never happen, but a new metal band could and has upstaged a veteran band. Happens alot in fact. It needs to be said that if this movie had featured a metal band instead of the alternative band, it would be number 2. But the fact that it is still in the list despite the glaring bit of non reality says alot about this movie.

#4 Airheads Proof that a good gimmick will get you anywhere. A local LA rock band can't get any airplay, or noticed by any record company, so using fake guns, they hijack a radio station. But the reason they can't get noticed is because they really aren't that good. After a standoff with the police that becomes national news, they finally surrender, but while they are in prison, they preform and release a live album that becomes a super hit.

The radio station's DJ is excellent in this movie. This has never happened before, but if it were to happen, the band would likely get signed just because of the stunt. It should be noted that the program director in this movie who is about as un metal as you can get is also the star of our number one movie. (no skipping ahead if you don't know!)

#3 Eddie and the Cruisers and sequel, Eddie Lives The first one tells the story of a band who tore up the charts with their first album, but when they wanted to release their second album, the singer wanted to go in a completely different direction with a strange concept album. It shows it from the perspective of a reporter who picks up the story after the singer disappears. It shows the story as told by the surviving band members, who don't know what happened to Eddie, or where the studio recordings of the
second album are.

Eddie Lives is about a construction worker who decides to join a band as a singer. They work their way through the clubs, and wind up opening a large festival, where the singer reveals that he is in fact Eddie Wilson.

Both movies are VERY good, and do a very good job of showing the internal relationships of a band. These movies may very well be the most 'real' movies on the list.

#2 Get Him To the Greek A very funny movie, yet pretty damn accurate. A struggling record company do
boy gets assigned to pick up a washed up British rock legend, who the record company wants to play a show at the Greek Theater in LA to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of his iconic performance there. What could go wrong?

Alot. This washed up British rock legend still has a very active drug habit, and this trip from London to New York to LA winds up taking lots of detours, and hilarity ensues. The writers of this movie (and frankly all of the movies on the list) have inside knowledge of just how crazy it can be when you're on the road with a rich, spoiled, selfish rock star. It even created its own buzz word and phrase. (When life slips you a Jeffery, you stroke the furry wall)

And, the Number 1 Fictional Rock Band Movie is:

Drummers are an endangered species in this movie.

You got it. This Is Spinal Tap!!!

The movie that coined the phrase 'Rockumentary.' The movie that launched MANY buzz words that turned out to be timeless like 'Turn it up to 11' and 'HELLO Cleveland!' Their all black album cover even inspired Metallica to do the same. Not to mention when any rock/metal band local or pro has a show or incident where something crazy happens, it is always referred to as a 'Spinal Tap Moment.'

This is the story of a British metal band at the ends of their career, and they decide to do one final tour in the US to go out with a bang...Although, it didn't happen that way. Instead, we see a hilarious and super realistic depiction of a band trying desperately to keep momentum going for the tour, but they can't stay out of their own way.

Every rock/metal musician has seen this movie many times. The movie is a classic, and its even finding its way into the Blu Ray players and online streams of a new generation of musicians. This movie will still be talked about and shown long after the stars of the movie are dead and gone. This is why it is the number one, and it will never be topped. Any rock band related film that comes out now is measured against Spinal Tap and they all come up short.

Look at the number dials from this major pizza chain's 'Hair Metal Tracker.'
They go up to 11!

But this is more than just a movie. They have recorded albums and toured. They were not lip synching on the live shots of the movie. Those performances were recorded live. Plus, they toured in the 90s, and yours truly was one of the lucky ones who got to see them in concert. To this day, its one of the best concerts I've ever been to. A friend who was also there said being at that show was just as big as it would be to see the original lineup of Led Zeppelin in concert. I agree.

So, there you have it! This is my top 5. Did I miss a movie? Do you disagree with any? Should I have made this a top 10 list instead? Or maybe a top 11? Let me know!

Thanks for reading! I love you all! GOOD NIGHT!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Did It! I'm a Nonsmoker!

In July, I smoked my last cigarette. I smoked for 25 years, and it was getting to the point that it hurt just to breathe. Not to mention if I had to run, or climb a flight of stairs. So, in July, I decided that the pack I had would be my last. I had already found a brand of Ecigs that worked for me, so I was ready to go. I remember the last cigarette on the pack, as I was smoking it, I got disgusted with myself, and threw it out less than halfway through it.

I had tried to quit smoking cold turkey once before. In 2007, I made it through the first week. The physical cravings and sleepless nights were over, as well as the coughing fits that go hand in hand with the first week of quitting. I was halfway through the first two weeks, which are the hardest. But, then, some friends came and dragged me to a bar. I figured I would be ok without cigarettes. OOPS! Bummer, dude! I bought a pack about an hour after drinking my first drink, and it was like I had never tried to quit.

Now, as I mentioned, in July I smoked my last cigarette, and switched to Ecigs. I had tried several different brands with little or no success until I found the Mistic brand. The reason for that brand's success vs other brands failure is the nicotine content. Mistic has 2.4% nicotine. The other brands I tried have 1.6 to 1.8% nicotine, and they did nothing for me. They did not help me when I first woke up, or after a meal. The ultimate test of an Ecig is whether or not you can get through a night of drinking without needing a smoke. The other brands? Not even close. Mistic? YEP! They worked for me through every 'test.' So, when I smoked my last cigarette, I was able to switch immediately to Mistics.

You know, I really should bill them for this.
As I used Mistics, I noticed several things...I felt better, I had more energy and stamina...I could run up a flight of stairs without feeling like I was dying. The pain in breathing went away rather quickly, which led me to believe that it isn't the nicotine in cigarettes that is so harmful. It is all the other garbage that kills you. And, you know what? You are addicted to all that other garbage as well. When I tried to quit smoking in 2007, it was excruciatingly painful, yet the first week or two with only Ecigs, it was mildly uncomfortable as the toxins were expelled from my body. After that, I was fine.

It should be noted that one Ecig is equal to a pack and a half to two packs of cigarettes. One single use Mistic is about $6.00. That right there is about $2.00 less than a pack of cigarettes these days. More than that, depending on where you are in the country. A 5 pack of refill cartridges which is essentially a carton of cigarettes costs between $13 and $16. A carton of real cigarettes costs anywhere from $45 to $60 these days. You can also get a 10 pack of Mistic cartridges for $20..TWO cartons of cigarettes for $20. Do the math. Imagine how much money you'll save, just by switching to Ecigs. Even more than by switching your car insurance to that Gecko brand.

Now, lets fast forward to about 4 weeks ago, the end of October. I decided it was time to abandon the Ecigs and save money, and be done with nicotine for good.  Like I did with cigarettes, I smoked my last one, and was done with it. The first week was kind of rough, and the second week started a little bit worse, but got better toward the middle part of the second week. By the end of the second week, I was fine, and ready to do the ultimate test...which as I mentioned before is a night of drinking. I went out to a bar last weekend, and drank, and was around smokers. Did I WANT a cigarette or Ecig as I drank? You bet. But, I never got the craving and withdrawal pains for it. I am likely going to WANT one for a long time. But, that is alot different than NEEDING one. I WANT a man cave decked out with an 80" TV, beer tap and frige, bar, dart board, pool table, and Karen Gillan as a bartender, but I don't NEED all that.

Would you like a beer?
So, in a nutshell, this is how you quit smoking. Step one, find an Ecig brand that works for you. Step 2, switch completely to the Ecigs for a few months. Step 3, Quit the Ecigs. If it worked for this 25 year smoker who did not want to quit until he started noticing bad physical things as a result, it can work for you too. And, the good news is that after 10  to 15 years or so, your lungs will completely rejuvenate themselves.

Now, we've established the good of Ecigs, I have something else I have to address. I found a story saying that Philip Morris has decided to start selling Ecigs. You read the story, and once you get to the comments, you'll see the usual suspects crying out for the government to regulate Ecigs. They are the Fun Police. These people are the same people crying out for gun control, and bans on soda, and on anything that tastes good or is fun. These people believe that the citizens are nothing but subjects of the government. Because they are so squeaky clean, I would bet that these idiots never smoked a day in their lives. They are saying that Ecigs are just as bad for you as cigarettes. They are also saying that I don't exist. They say that nobody ever quit smoking after using Ecigs. They are also saying that people who switch to Ecigs are doing even more damage to their lungs. If you read my testimony, how can you assume that my lungs were getting further damage?

These people need to be stopped. These people want EVERYTHING regulated. They want the tobacco companies to be tried, convicted as murderers and executed for falsely claiming that cigarettes aren't harmful. EVERYBODY who smokes knows its harmful. Tobacco companies have as much of a right to be here as any other company. Nobody forces anyone to smoke. Yet, name another industry that is forced by law to tell people NOT to buy their product?

The truth of the matter is that nicotine by itself is no more harmful than caffeine. Caffeine is not regulated, nor should it be. But, you can bet that if these morons get Ecigs regulated, they will go after caffeine next.

And, before I wrap this up, let me ask you this one question...When something like tobacco or alcohol is regulated, where does all that tax money go to? It goes RIGHT into the government's hands, and if you think they donate it to doctors to come up with lung cancer or addiction treatments, then I have a lake house on the moon I'd like to sell you. So, the people screaming for regulations are either ignorant pawns of the government or the government itself...Or both. You decide.

The bottom line here is that Ecigs are harmless to everyone. Harmless to the smoker using them, and harmless to those around them. If you want to quit smoking, take my story and give it a shot. Don't listen to these anti everything nitwits who have never smoked, but just want to control everyone's lives. They don't know what they are talking about. I do because I experienced it.

So, good luck...And while you are on Ecigs do yourself a favor and walk into a Starbucks while puffing on one. THAT is some real entertainment. And, by the way...All you nonsmokers who think you are above smokers, and think it is appropriate to come up and hack at smokers who are outside...Get a life. Whenever one of these goody two shoes did that to me, I would take a HUGE drag, and blow the smoke in their face. And, another thing..And this is the most important thing. I did not quit smoking so that I could be in the good graces of these holier than thou nonsmokers. I did it for ME, and I would rather be in a room full of smokers than to be around even ONE of those jerks. Now, I'm not talking about all nonsmokers. Just the ones who think that their purpose in life is to make smokers miserable. I like nonsmokers, as I am one now. But, you will NEVER see me be rude to a smoker.

Translation: We don't want 30% of
our customers anymore.
Now, as I climb down off my soap box, let me just say once again, Good luck in quitting smoking. If I can do it, anyone can!