Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Your Band is Called What???

Think about all the great bands over the decades. The bands that are now legendary, and have had long careers, and are now icons in heavy metal. Bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Dio, Black Sabbath, and the list of legendary bands goes on and on. But, ask yourself, what do all those bands have in common other than longevity and amazing music? (minus a bad album or two..<St. Anger, Lulu> ) I'll tell you, but let me first ask you a question. How far would Iron Maiden have made it if they had called themselves 'Medieval Impaling Bridge Ornament?' They might have gotten as far as the bands in the book I read called 'Your Band is Called What? 101 Band Names I Never Thought I'd Type or Say' by Romeo Rodriguez, which is available for download on Amazon for 99 cents. The book is coming soon. So, the answer to my question is on top of great music, they also had great names.

Once you start reading this collection of the worst band names...REAL band names ever conceived, you won't be able to put it down. Author, Romeo Rodriguez does a great job of critiquing these band names, and you will be laughing hysterically most of the time. Some (very few) of the names are awesome, but most of them make me wonder exactly what kind of drugs these guys were on to think that they would ever attract a record label with a name like that.

I have been in a bunch of bands myself. The band name was something carefully chosen to represent our music and ourselves as the band. I would never dream of calling my band "Anal Vapor Ooze Queens on Acid." While I just made that one up, as far as I know, I'd bet that A: There is already a band with that name. Or, B: A grindcore death metal band will read this blog and swipe it. If you want this name, go ahead. Its yours. Please don't credit me with it. But rest assured, if you do swipe that name, Rodriguez will list you in a future volume of this book if he decides to write more volumes.

Another thing he touches on is the bands who have names that aren't necessarily bad, just super long. They are rare to attract the record labels as well. The only ones I can think of off the top of my head with long names who also made it big are The Red Hot Chili Peppers and They Might Be Giants. And, compared to some of the ones listed in the book, those two aren't very long at all. I'm not going to drop any of the names he listed because I want you to buy the book; But there are quite a few long ones that are actually pretty good, but just too long. However, one in particular having to do with a large moose was a very cool name, but the writeup that Rodriguez did for it had me bawling because I was laughing so hard.

Something else that happens frequently is that the author will talk about a name, and say that the band is very good. Most of the time, the bands are worse than the names, but there are a few where its a shame that they decided that picking a name that would shock, nauseate, or offend was more important to them than getting good gigs, record deals, or even a girlfriend. What decent girl would be proud to say her boyfriend was the bass player from 'Bleeding Herpes Discharge in your Breakfast Cereal?' None I would want to hook up with, that's for sure. Once again, I made this one up, but it could easily be in this book. If you like it, have at it, but I don't want credit.

So, do yourself a favor, and buy this book. You will enjoy it, and won't be able to put it down. Its also a book that your friends will want to read as well. But, don't let them borrow your copy. Just let them get on your computer, go to Amazon, and have them download their OWN copy. Like I said, its only 99 cents.

In closing, I can't think of much more to say about this book, other than I enjoyed it, and I recommend it. Right now, I am going to go look up some of these bands that Romeo Rodriguez says were good, and give them a listen. Who knows, we may have some of the good ones on the Will and Thunder Show <Ca-ching!> at some point.

What's this? I just got an email alert. Upcoming concert in my area...Lets see...It says at the Rusty Nail Pub, the Screaming Satanic Pythons with Aids and Gangrene are coming in concert with I Hate Carrying Pianos Upstairs With an Idiot, along with local opening act, The Vomit Finger! It also says the date is pending until the health department is able to complete their investigation of the bar.

I'm getting a tetanus shot, and I'm there.

Top 11 Best Metal Anthems of All Time!

I've gotten away from music a little too much this month, so to make it up to my readers, its time for the baddest and the loudest list you'll ever see, and you'll be cranking it, I promise. Grab a beer, and get ready to rock!

Now, I have a criteria. This is strictly metal anthems. There will be no death metal, and no nu metal or grunge. There will only be glam if the song or band is considered metal. For example, Slayer used to be glam, but they were always metal. There will also be no classic rock bands like Foreigner or Led Zeppelin. Its just METAL! Also, only one entry per band. Makes it more difficult, and more entertaining to list.

So, here we go with the top 11 (HAD to be 11, and you know why!) songs that make us want to break out the air guitar, and rip out some air solos, while throwing the horns, and just all out jamming!

So, crank it to 11, sit back, and get ready to head bang! Ready? Too bad! We're starting!!!

Number 11: Death to All but Metal by Steel Panther Sure, I've mentioned them before, but this song HAS to be included. You can't get much more metal than calling for the death of lame acts in a song with a brutally tough guitar lick, blistering solo and piercing screams. Say what you want, but Steel Panther is partially responsible for the resurgence that metal is seeing right now.

Number 10: Bang Your Head (Metal Health) by Quiet Riot You can't have a metal countdown without this song somewhere. The press hated this band, but they didn't care, and the fans loved them. Plus, it spawned 2 legends on guitar and bass. Of course, I'm talking about Randy Rhoads, and Rudy Sarzo.

Number 9: Caught in a Mosh by Anthrax This one brought the mosh pit into the spotlight, and made parents from coast to coast consider insuring their kids before they went to an Anthrax concert.

Number 8: Soldiers Under Command by Stryper
Some of you guys are going to give me grief on this one, I know it. But this song has it all. Twin axe attack, blistering high notes, powerful rhythm section, huge chorus, and one of the most legendary opening riffs there is. Funny...I never knew they made a video for this song.

Number 7: Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth I know Megadeth has lots of better songs than this, but this one fits with the anthem format, since that's what we are going with here. Hangar 18 just doesn't have the chorus that you would want to sing along with. Sure, Peace Sells could be on here too, but I can only pick one, and everybody picks Peace Sells. We like to be different and not cliche. Wait..Wrong band. Anyway, CRANK IT UP!!!

Number 6: Master of Puppets by Metallica How could we not include this one? If this is #6, what could possibly be #1??? Be patient, my friends. This song defined a genre. This was the song that put thrash metal on the map, and blew everyone's doors off. I still remember being afraid of this album when I first heard it. Master of Puppets was my first thrash album.

Number 5: Mister Crowley by Ozzy Some of the finest guitar work ever done, and it is unmatched to this day. If I were to do an air guitar list, this song would likely be #1. I think this song also has some of Ozzy's best vocals too.

Number 4: Holy Diver by Dio Never before has there been a bigger voice from such a little guy. He is one of the 4 singers that when you hear their name, you think METAL. The other 3 are also on this list too. This song put Ronnie James Dio on the map as a solo artist. And by the way...He didn't die. He was killed by a dragon. I am convinced of this.

Number 3 Hallowed be thy Name by Iron Maiden So many to choose from Iron Maiden. I chose this one because of the guitar work, however its vocals are raw power, especially when the song kicks into full speed. Out of Iron Maiden's many masterpieces, I would rank this one definitely top 5. You can't go wrong here, and if my memory serves, this was the song that got me into Iron Maiden.

Number 2: Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath I had a very hard time choosing this one. It was between 4 songs. This, Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and NIB. I finally went with this because it would have required choosing between 3 Ozzy songs, and I couldn't do it. Plus, Heaven and Hell has that anthem sing along feel to it on top of the dark overtones. Plus, what would it hurt to have a second tribute to RJD?

Number 1: Painkiller by Judas Priest And, now here we are at number one. This song is so badass that it KNOWS it is #1 It even has its own drumroll to intro the song to the number one slot. Sure, Priest has lots of songs that are more anthem like than Painkiller like Metal Gods, Breaking The Law, Another Think Coming, Electric Eye, and the list goes on and on. But, this song is their most heavy hitting, and is the epitome of what a metal anthem should be. Plus, the number one song shouldn't be in my opinion a radio hit. So, get ready to blast it, and get the air guitars blazing because Painkiller is bad. Think there's a better song than Painkiller to be number one? Well, you got another think coming!

So, there you have it. The top 11 Metal Anthems of all time. I hope you enjoyed it. I sure as hell did. As always, I welcome comments. And as always, if its not METAL, TURN IT OFF!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Earth to Roger Goodell: It SNOWS in New York in February!!

Roger Goodell, are you an IDIOT? Don't answer that. The Super Bowl is February 2, 2014, in NEW JERSEY, at the Met Life Stadium. An OPEN AIR stadium. The chance of a blizzard in the beginning of February in New York/New Jersey? Better than the chance of rain in Miami.

So, can somebody PLEASE tell me what the hell Roger Goodell was thinking when they scheduled the Super Bowl in New York/New Jersey??? It seems that ol' Roger is surprised that they might have snow. There are plans to reschedule it to Saturday or even a weekday if it snows. Really? You're gonna piss off lots of fans, Rog. Especially if they have to miss the Super Bowl because its on a Monday during working hours.

I swear I had no idea it snowed in New York/New Jersey!
Lets recap, shall we? What Northern states have hosted Super Bowls? Has Chicago? No. Has Green Bay? No. Has New England? No. Has Pittsburgh? No. Has Philadelphia? No. Has Buffalo? Stop me if you've heard this, but No. What do all those stadiums have in common? Lets see...Open air stadiums, and a very good possibility of SNOW! Now, you may have noticed I left out Indianapolis, Minnesota and Detroit. Now, what do those 3 cities have in common? Lets see...DOMES!!!! Those cities have DOMES!

DOMES, as in buildings with roofs to keep the weather OUTSIDE so that people don't get too hot, too cold, wet, etc. I promise I'm not insulting your intelligence by spelling it out like this. I know that my readers are smart enough to know what I am getting at. But, apparently there are people in the upper echelons of the NFL who can't figure out the fact that there is a VERY good chance of snow in Northern New Jersey in February, so we have to spell it out, and talk very slowly. Its for the NFL suits benefit, not my readers.

Roger, this is a stadium with a retractable roof. Metlife
does not have one. That means that it is not shielded
from the weather.
Now, lets take a look at a total contradiction in reasoning from Roger Goodell. In the 2006/2007 Super Bowl in Miami between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, it rained for the
entire game. This was the first time that had ever happened. But, the people who paid for those ridiculously high priced tickets were complaining about it. (Bears fans were actually demanding their money back. BEARS fans who SHOULD be used to watching football in crappy weather.) Then, Roger Goodell ruled that Miami would not be able to host a Super Bowl again until they spent millions of dollars to put a roof on Sun Life Stadium. Its ridiculous, and it seemed more like a mafia style muscling considering that Tampa hosts Super Bowls frequently, and there is no roof on that
stadium, and nobody said they had to build one. (And there shouldn't be either.) Putting a roof on Sun Life Stadium would do two things. 1, It would rob Miami of their home field advantage. 2, Make fans want to vomit because the proposed designs are hideous.
This is hideous. And, what happens if a category
4 hurricane comes through? 

Basically, telling Miami that they (and not Tampa or Jacksonville) have to build a roof is nothing more than hypocritical. But, after doing that, giving New Jersey a Super Bowl was a slap in the face to Miami, and a blatant example of favoritism by Goodell and the league.

No roof in Tampa as it should be.

Roger Goodell is to the the NFL what Barack 0bama is to the United States. A joke, and a wrecking ball. If the NFL survives Goodell's regime without becoming flag football in domes, it will be a miracle. Do the football fans a favor, Roger and FIRE yourself!

Its football right? Don't be a wuss and play the game in whatever weather
there is on Feb 2, and deal with it. Then, don't be such an idiot when scheduling
the venue for the Super Bowl. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Late Movie Review Series #2 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Here is a second entry in my "Late Review Series." Although, I didn't wait for this one to be released on
Netflix and DVD. I went to a matinee showing today. I may actually start doing that because there's hardly nobody in the theater, and I could focus my attention well enough to be able to hear what was going on. That being said, lets get started!

I didn't review the first Hunger Games movie, but a friend of mine did. I am going to give my own brief review of the movie because its relevant in my feelings on this movie. First of all, my friend mentioned in his review that it was a glorified reality show with kids killing kids. He is right. That is what the show in the movie is all about. However, the underlying story is a government gone mad, that has to use fear of death to keep its subjects in line. The games are punishment to the oppressed people for trying to overthrow the tyrants in charge, who were literally starving them to death. Hence the term, The Hunger Games. Now, while I kept that in mind as I watched the first movie, I was still cringing, especially when an eight year old died.

The funny part about this movie as far as I was concerned was that I had no desire to see it at first until I was in a video store, and the cutie working there suggested it to me. I told her I wasn't interested because I had no desire to see another teen vampire movie. She laughed, and told me that it wasn't, which I made her swear on her job to. Once she swore, and gave me a brief synopsis of the film, I said "So, its Lord of the Flies meets The Running Man? She of course had no idea what I was talking about. I rented the movie, and enjoyed it for the most part. I quickly latched onto the story about the tyranny with its foot on the necks of the poor. I liked it, but it isn't something I would let a kid watch. If the movie were geared toward adults, I think my friend would have enjoyed it more. Actually, the movie for the most part WAS geared toward adults, but was marketed to kids. It didn't sink in as to just how much I liked the movie until a day or two later, when it hit me that the truthful words "In the not too distant future" could have easily kicked off the film at the rate humanity is going, which made me anxious to see the next chapter of the film.

Now, onto that next chapter. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The movie picks up right where the first film left off, with the heroine, Katniss Everdeen adjusting to becoming a celebrity. She and her co-winner, Peeta Mellark (who develops a backbone in this movie) are preparing to embark on the propaganda tour to spew programmed dribble about how great the government and the Hunger Games are.

What they are not expecting is a visit by the president (played by Donald Sutherland) who is waiting for them at the start of the tour. He is angry at how the two of them managed to survive the games, which seemed to be them giving the finger to the establishment. He is worried (as all dictators or wannabe dictators should be) about a spark igniting a revolution. He orders the pair to convince the masses on the tour that their 'love' was real, and that the pair were now part of the ruling class establishment. They reluctantly agree, and go on the tour reading scripts. But, the president isn't buying it. He orders a "wrinkle" in the games for the commemoration of the 75th games. Basically, the only people involved would be previous winners, who were supposed to have been free as a prize for winning. He wants to make sure that all the winners are wiped out, so that any potential spark that could ignite revolt are eliminated.
I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and
doggonit, people like me!

He hires a diabolical game programmer, Plutarch Heavensbee to make the deadliest arena to date. And he delivers, with spine tingling results.

The whole movie focuses on the catch phrase "Remember who the real enemy is." Its kind of hard to forget, because of the showing of brutal control tactics used by the government to instill fear, and also a hatred of Katniss, who is targeted because she is the one blamed for inciting the rebellion. (although her fame is a direct result of the government.)

This movie could have easily been just a remake of the first one, but it wasn't. The stories are drastically different, and the only similarities are the selection of the game contestants, and the festivities leading up to the games...Of course more lavish, but there are differences there that make it interesting as well.

Congrats on your win!
 Now, we want to kill you again!
I'm not going to reveal it, but there is a twist in this movie. I'm pretty good at picking out things like that, and even I didn't see this coming. It is a twist that will make you 'hungry' for the next chapter to come out. I know I am. Once again, this movie is not for kids, but don't let that keep you from seeing this story of the oppressed rising up against a tyrannical government. If you haven't seen the first film, do it. Then, see this one. Katniss is a very believable heroine. In fact all of the characters make you love them or hate them, which is something missing in movies these days, where you'd just as soon see an alien come and eat all the characters, good or bad.

I'd say that this was my most anticipated movie of the year, and it delivered as far as I was concerned, and after seeing this one, both will soon be added to my DVD collection. If you view this movie as I did, as a look into something that could be headed our way, especially considering how kids are being brainwashed and raised to believe that violence is okay and not to mention how they are sexualized, then you will enjoy it in the sense that it will scare you in a very real 'disturbance in the force' kind of way.

Hollywood may have inadvertently made a movie about how the things that they glorify will more than likely turn out if left to their devices. That, to me is funny.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Terrorism: Alive, Well, and Livin' in America!

The MAIN job of the president
I had just started a blog post a little while ago, but I lost my inspiration just as quickly as I gained it. Its been almost 2 weeks since I made a blog post, but I also did seven in the first nine days of January. But then, I saw this story. This story, combined with 2 others I've seen recently are enough to send a chill down down your spine.

I'm going to recap the 3 stories, but this post is about the reality and ramification of these stories, which I will get to one by one. The story I saw today was a Muslim man stuck in a water pipe at a New Jersey water facility. The next story is that al-Qaeda has retaken control of Fallujah, Iraq. And the third story is that 0bama is working to secure 30,000 Syrians amnesty in the US. 

The sheer incompetence of the 0bama administration is staggering, and the fact that the media, knowing EVERYTHING that is going on, continues to bury stories, and report that everything is great as long as the great ruler, King 0bama is on the job. Stories like these three I just linked.

This is to keep you safe. GO RED SOX!
I have one more story to share with you. Seems that in May of 2013, in Boston, a month after the Boston SEVEN Muslims were found trespassing at a Boston water supply...and were not charged with anything other than trespassing. Seems to do so would cause a dangerous ripple effect into Muslim relations.
Marathon bombings,

Let me tell you what this means for you in the Northeast, since the media and government won't. You are under attack. And, while 0bama beats his chest, swearing that al-Qaeda is not a threat, more and more dry runs are happening in the US, and they are doing nothing about it. The Boston Marathon bombing happened, and they pinned it on 2 people, and that was it...meanwhile, locking down an entire city at gunpoint...Talk about a dry run.

Welcome to the Super Bowl! We're here to keep YOU safe!
I'm just a blogger, but I can tell that the Northeast is more and more a target every day. They just found this guy messing with the water in New Jersey. Anybody know what is happening in New Jersey in about 2 weeks? The Super Bowl. You can bet that the Super Bowl will be a testing ground for everything the NSA wants to get away with in the future. A former NSA top official has said that the US has become a police state. Just wait for the stories to come out after the Super Bowl. Stories that will be on blogs and social media because the media won't dare report on them. Stories about illegal search and seizure, and likely even detainment with no charges being filed. You think I'm crazy, but you just watch. They are coming.

I find it funny that the left in this country were all up in arms talking about what could happen as a result of the Patriot Act and our rights. Now, everything they were afraid of IS happening, and worse than they could imagine, and it is being ordered by Barack Hussein 0bama himself. THEY are the ones saying "Well, if you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about." For the record, I was against the Patriot Act when it was passed, and I am against it AND the NSA now.

Mission Accomplished!
I am not a huge fan of George W Bush, but I would take him in a heartbeat over 0bama or Hilary. I find it VERY funny that the same people who were trashing Bush over the Mission Accomplished sign (Which was a ceremony for the completion of THAT PARTICULAR SHIP's mission) are silent over 0bama's speech where he said that al-Qaeda is on the run. Since then, we've had the Boston bombing, Benghazi, al-Qaeda taking Fallujah (which those of us with a brain knew would happen if we left Iraq) Where are you people now? Oh. You're out there justifying everything this idiot is doing, and throwing your backs out bending over to come up with excuses for him.

Now, I brought up the Muslims doing dry runs in the Northeast. Here's the connection. The 0bama administration will act on them, but they will act in a way to punish the American people by stripping more and more rights away. This administration doesn't see Muslim terrorism as a threat. They see it as an opportunity to seize even more power. THAT is why he is considering moving all those Syrians into the country. Sure, alot of them are peace loving people who just want to be left alone (like me) but there is also enough of them to be able to set up cells in the US. Does 0bama want Americans killed? No. But, he will live with it if it means more power to him. And it is guaranteed to happen. These people won't be screened. And, even if they are, to quote Hilary Clinton, What difference does it make??? Somebody screened the Boston bombers, and they were still allowed in the country. Ask yourself this question...Why would someone who cares about the Americans and their families bring in an even larger chunk of people at taxpayer expense in a time where 1 in 3 Americans are unemployed? He doesn't want us dead, because we pay taxes. But if he gave a damn about us, he would not be bringing in more people who will need jobs, and will ultimately wind up on welfare, food stamps, etc.

Rahm Emanuel: Former 0bama cabinet member,
current mayor of Chicago
The end game of this president is takeover. Anyone who is paying attention, and knows history knows that he is getting people used to being controlled, and being ok with the idea. It all revolves around crisis. With each new crisis, expect a new set of regulations, and less freedom. And, expect more and more new crisis to come up. 0bama doesn't have to worry about reelection now. He can and will do whatever he wants, to the cheers of the dumb masses.

So, get ready people. The consequences of electing Barack Hussein 0bama president are closer than ever before. More terrorism, more unemployment, more taxes, less freedom. And, all of you who voted for him are responsible. You were all warned, and you called everyone who warned you racist morons, and blamed Bush. Keep watching reality shows and posting pictures of food and puppies on Facebook. We'll keep fighting for YOUR rights to call us idiots. And, we don't expect any thanks from you. We're not doing this for you drones. We're doing it for our country, ourselves, and our families.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

21st Century Fugitives: Bean Town's Prodigy

When I first looked these guys over, I thought to myself  "Ok, a high school punk band. How good can it be?" After I listened, I thought to myself "These guys blow your high school efforts out of the water. And even some of your adult efforts." I was humbled. I admit it. They have the talent and skill that some signed 'national bands'  lack. So, here I am, reviewing them.

21st Century Fugitives hail from Boston Massachusetts.

The Lineup Is: 

                                        John Lucas/ Vocals
                                        Jimmy Bezreh/ Guitar
                                        Jaden Mendola/ Bass
                                        Jackson Kehoe/ Keyboards
                                        Gavin Burke/ Drummer

These guys (Out of genuine respect for this band's talent, I am not going to call them kids.) are all very
talented musicians, and will go far. Even this 40 year old metalhead knows talent when he sees it. In fact, if guitarist Jimmy Bezreh sticks with it, he could have the title 'Guitar God' attached to him by the time he is 25.

Their upcoming EP called Regret Nothing, available on Itunes, is positively nothing to regret, that's for sure.

They bill themselves as an alternative band with the driving energy of punk. That is accurate, but it sells them short. Their music is definitely rock, and songs like Hurricane have a groove reminiscent of the arena rock bands of the 80's. I can see this band with the ability to rule a crowd with the energy of their songs. The songs are catchy and have great melodies. Their song, Epic Fail has some incredible guitar work that brings back memories of Guns N Roses in their heyday. Its all mind blowing how good this music is, considering how young the band is. The song Down has a very deep sounding metal groove to it.

I mentioned that the term 'alternative punk' while accurate is selling them short. The reason is that most bands that fit that description just use 4 chord progressions. An intro that is the chorus progression, into the verse, into the chorus, etc. Very basic stuff. 21st Century Fugitives music is anything but basic. Even the songs that have a definitive punk groove like 'Let Me Go' and Spy Master are are not even basic. Advanced is more like it. The music is that of seasoned musicians. I can't stop saying this, but I'm blown away.

I said 'High School band' but looking through their photos on their Facebook page, there are some that show them playing at a middle school. I keep telling myself that these guys are light years ahead of where I was in high school when my crappy band decided to play our first show, and thought we were rock stars.

This photo of Jimmy Bezreh (Future
Guitar God) is SO epic.
Photo by Leah Astore
Definitely, go check them out. My favorites are Epic Fail and Down. They have a Reverbnation page, a Soundcloud page , and make sure you follow them on Twitter.  But most importantly, buy their album!!!

Record companies, take notice. Bands this young, and this good don't come around very often. And, a word of advice to the band...When the record labels come, and they will come, go with the smaller labels like Century Media, Rat Pak, or something like that. You want a label that wants you for YOUR music, the way YOU wrote it. The large record labels with all the pop crap on the radio will sign you, make you sound like every other crappy band on the radio, then toss you aside once they have milked every last penny they can from you. The smaller labels are where you want to be.

Very cool!
One last thing, guys..You're doing great. Keep it up, and don't let all the praise and accolades you're getting go to your heads. You're going to go far. Now, get in there and practice ya little punks!!!

Seriously, 21st Century Fugitives have gained a new fan, and you'll become one too. And, be looking for them to be touring soon! As good as they are, I'm sure they will be the easiest 'Fugitives' to find.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Album Review: The Winery Dogs

Elevate me take me higher
I dont want to be wasted
I've got nothing left to lose...

This happens alot to me. I'm late to the party on getting an album. Bands, movies, etc don't feel bad. I'm late on everything. I was the last person on the planet to get a CD player, the last to get a DVD player, the last to get a PC, and the last to get an MP3 player. Its just how I am, I guess. 

Anyway, on to The Winery Dogs. I'd heard all about Them from every musician friend that I know. I was very interested in hearing them. I listed them as an honorable mention on my Top 10 Releases of 2013 post because I had only heard 2 tracks off the album at that time, and I thought if I didn't mention them, my friends might lynch me in the middle of the night. If I had heard the album at the time, they would most definitely be on the list, rather than an honorable mention. 

The Winery Dogs are:

 Richie Kotzen is the guitarist who briefly replaced CC Deville in Poison. I was expecting Mr Big meets Dream Theater with kind of a glam feel. I was wondering why they went with Kotzen. Since he has really been out of the loop for a long time as far as I knew, and his only credit (that I knew of) was being in Poison, I was really skeptical about him. 

Mike Portnoy of course is the original drummer/founder of Dream Theater. One of the best around. Honestly, since being replaced in Dream Theater, he seems really happy based on the interviews and appearances I've seen him in. He has a damn good reason to be happy now, for sure. He has a great band, with a great debut album. Ask me to choose between seeing Dream Theater and The Winery Dogs in concert, and its The Winery Dogs, without even a second thought. 

And the third piece, of course is Billy Sheehan. Bass guitar virtuoso, who played with great guitarists like Steve Vai with David Lee Roth, and Paul Gilbert with Mr. Big. I think that Sheehan was a great guitarist as a kid, but because he grew into such a tall guy, he had to switch to bass because he was more comfortable with it. (That was a lame joke) Seriously, he can do on a bass what lots of guitarists wish they could do on guitar. 

I Underestimated Kotzen. Many people did. What I got was a pleasant surprise. On top of its classic feel, it  has a much more modern feel, balancing influences from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Also, Richie Kotzen is a phenomenal guitarist, who was either holding back in Poison, or he did lots of practicing since then. The man duels with Sheehan, and some of the solos and song arrangements are nothing short of spectacular. Something you would expect from the virtuoso type guitarists. I listen to this, and I realize that Richie Kotzen is an extremely underrated guitarist. He's a pretty damn good singer too. And of course, Sheehan and Portnoy form one hell of a brutal rhythm section.

I think that the most amazing thing about this album is the fact that 11 of 13 songs were written by Kotzen, Sheehan, and Portnoy collectively. It shows. The other 2 songs; Damaged and Regret were written by Kotzen.

The first song on the album, Elevate has a very uplifting feel and message. It’s a fun song that would make time pass on a long road trip. It is a very good opener for the album because the entire album is that way. The video for Elevate is just the three band members playing, but we see something about Kotzen that sets him apart from lots of other guitarists. He does not use a pic. He uses his fingers like Mark Knoppler. This means that he is fingerpicking or tapping those fast leads that he does throughout the album. And to do that intricate picking while singing is impressive. Time Machine has a kind of dark Deep Purpleesque feel to it. But the solo at the end of the song makes my head explode considering Kotzen is finger picking on it.

While it does have a modern rock/metal feel to it, it also has the feel of metal that has been AWOL since the late 80’s to early 90’s. For example, Damaged is a power ballad, that has roots and influence in 80’s metal, and even a Soundgarden feel, but flows like a ballad that you might hear on the radio today. Not to mention Kotzen’s beautiful guitar solo.

The Winery Dogs basically have all the talent of Dream Theater, but the album much easier to listen to for non musician fans. Yes, this is a 'supergroup,' but one thing I like about this over other recent 'supergroup' outings is that while the songs are brilliant in musical composition, they are easy to listen to. They aren't just each individual member showcasing themselves. All the songs sound different, yet they all have the feel that the same band wrote them. That’s one thing that makes this ‘supergroup’ more appealing to me than others. The Winery Dogs have a chemistry that makes them sound like they have been together as a band for a decade, and I hope they are. I'm waiting for them to come to my area in concert, and I'm already anxiously awaiting their next album. So, if you haven't yet, go pick this one up. You will wear it out.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Super Bowl Party Menu: Ideas From Chef Telltale

There are traditional holidays, where good, down home cooking is to be expected, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, I love those two holidays, but as far as food goes, my favorite holiday is Super Bowl Sunday. Most times, I will either host a Super Bowl party, or I'll go to one. I am NOT just sitting at home watching it like it was just another Sunday watching the Dolphins lose. You gotta do the Super Bowl parties, and rule number one of cooking for a party is very simple: Don't be lame.

Now THAT is an appetizer tray!!!

But you already knew that, of course.

Super Bowl parties are great because not only are you there with friends, you're cooking. You're trying new ideas, or making signature dishes. You are the chef and the kitchen is your kingdom. And, you have a deadline. If you aren't finished cooking by the time your guests arrive, you are missing out on the fun. Any cooking done after the guests arrive should be along the lines of dropping more chicken wings into the fryer, or getting more hot dogs ready. If you need more burgers, they should already be pattied out, and ready to go on the grill.

Now, here are my rules for when I host a Super Bowl party.

  1. Nothing is to be frozen. Not the wings, the hot dogs, the burgers, or anything. Fresh only in my kitchen! (The exception is if you made something fresh the day before and froze it so you can fry it.) 
  2. Hot dogs are not to be boiled. They are to be fried. Try it. You'll love it. Grilled tastes great, but they take too long to cook. Frying them only takes about 2 minutes.
  3. We will NOT run out of beer, although guests are encouraged to bring their own alcohol.
  4. Do not ask me for BBQ sauce for hot wings. Frank's Original Red Hot, or my own Red Death sauce only. If you want BBQ sauce, bring your own, and I will give you some non sauced wings.
  5. Wings are only to be fried. Large quantities of wings can be cooked outside in a turkey fryer. I have done this many times at tailgates, and it works great.
  6. Cold cut sammiches are best bought from a deli. Its much easier, and in the long run will cost about the same as making it yourself. 
Now that we have those rules out of the way, we can get down to business. Need menu ideas? Here ya go. Some ideas to tweak the basics:

I always try to base what my menu is on the teams that are playing...or more specifically, the team I want to win. For example, when the Saints and Colts played in the Super Bowl, I had Cajun Surf and Turf, because I wanted the Saints to win. That was an easy one. My daughter had just been born a week earlier, so I didn't have a party that year, and I was only cooking for my wife and me. Simply coat a ribeye steak lightly with olive oil, then with Cajun seasoning, and grill it. (I like to make my own Cajun seasoning, but it isn't necessary.) Take as much shrimp as you want, and cook it in lemon juice. Pour the lemon juice out, and dump the shrimp into a bowl, pour a mixture of Frank's Red Hot, butter, and Cajun seasoning over them, and shake them just like you would with hot wings. Serve with potato and garlic bread. A meal fit for a king. Saint.


Now, you could serve steaks at your party. Simply have everyone who wants to eat steak show up early and bring their own. You cook it for them with whatever marinade or rub you decide to serve. I've done that before. Potatoes are easy if you don't want to get french fries. Simply get a bag of potatoes, and wrap as many of them in foil as you will need. Then, bake them all together at 400 degrees for about an hour or so.

Now, I mentioned hot wings. Everyone loves hot wings, and everybody thinks they make great wings. They don't. First of all, if you are baking or grilling your wings, you aren't doing them right. They should be deep fried only. Second, you don't have to have a 'secret hot sauce.' People like to take hot sauce, and add all sorts of crap to it. Its overkill, and it doesn't taste good. All you need is Frank's Original Red Hot. OR, their Buffalo Wing Sauce. Its good too, but I prefer the original. Fry em, shake em, serve em. The people you served them to will swear that you bought them from a sports bar, even though they saw you cooking them.

Hamburgers: Whether you cook them on a pan or grill, here are a couple tips that will work on either. First, when you patty them out, flatten them out then while the beef is still raw. Don't smash them while they are cooking. You'll squeeze all the juice out of them, and you lose taste when you do that. Also, throw out the Worcestershire Sauce, garlic and all that other stuff that people put on burgers. Its overkill. Try this: Salt and pepper only, and when the patty is done, pull it off, set it on a plate, and melt butter over the top and under the burger. Make sure there is a little bit of yellowish white tint on the entire burger. TRUST me. Also, see if you can find a ground beef/pork blend. That is EXTREMELY good, and it costs less than whole beef.

Dip! Now, I'm not going to bore you with telling you to get potato chips, or anything like that. Yes, you'll need lots of appetizers, chips, dips, etc. But, here's a twist on spinach dip. First of all, making spinach dip is super easy. Mix spinach with ranch dressing, and cook it. But did you ever try it with some type of meat? I tried it with fish once. A pound of tilapia, and cooked it all until the fish was done. (I suggest swai because its cheap. You wouldn't want to use mahi mahi with this.) That's so easy. All you have to do is not burn it. The fish will fall apart when it's done. Its best served hot though. Dip away! You can also use chicken. Dice up chicken breast and cook it with the dip.

Want to serve meatballs? Want an extremely easy way to cook them and make them tasty? This is how I make mine. I simply roll meatballs, and put them in marinara sauce. (the beef/pork blend works just fine for meatballs too) Put them in a pot on the stove and cook on medium/low. Gently stir every now and then. They will be the absolute easiest thing that you'll make all night. And the beauty of it is that they will be seasoned when they are done. No need to add anything, unless you want to spice up the sauce. Use alot of sauce so the meatballs are covered, and when you put them out, have a pair of tongs so that people can get the meatballs. Also have some Swiss, Provolone, or Mozzarella cheese slices nearby so people can dip them in the sauce. 2 appetizers in one! Personally, I make my own marinara sauce from scratch, but it isn't necessary.

So easy a ___ can do it!

Love pork sammiches? This also is much easier than you think. You don't have to be a BBQ guru to make awesome pulled pork sammiches. First thing when you get up in the morning, put a piece of pork in the slow cooker on high...or the night before set it on low and let it cook overnight. It is done when the pieces easily
pull off. (pulled pork) Put it in a bowl, douse it with BBQ sauce, and stir it up. Then, plop it in a bun, and you're done! Unless your guests come from a BBQ family like I do, your they won't know the difference between your slow cooked pulled pork and slow roasted pulled pork.

Pepper Poppers: First thing to remember about poppers. You will need to make them the day before and freeze them. These are usually done with jalapeno peppers, but I don't particularly like jalapenos. I use the same recipe, but with habaneros. Cut the stem off each pepper, and using a toothpick, gently scrape out the seeds and pulp. Carefully put bits of cheddar cheese inside the pepper skin. Put as much as you can in it without damaging the shell of the pepper. You can also mix cheddar with a little bit of cream cheese. Now, take the seeds, and mix them with a batter. All purpose flour, milk, egg, salt, garlic. Dip the stuffed peppers into the batter, then bread them with flour with bread crumbs, salt, and garlic added. Then, once they are breaded, put them on a cookie sheet and freeze them overnight. Deep fry them the next day. For  mozzarella sticks, use the same technique, except just dip mozzarella cheese sticks into the batter and breading, minus the pepper seeds. Serve them with marinara sauce.

And, ONE more entree: Oven Roasted Beef Brisket. Its easier than you might think to make an
awesome brisket. What takes the most time is making the rub. Get a 4 or 5 pound piece of brisket beef. Then, rub it completely with olive oil. Not too much, not too little. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then, cover it with your rub, put it in a pan with a wire rack at the bottom, and bake it for one hour. Then, cover the bottom of the pan about a 1/2 inch with beef broth, cover tightly with foil, lower the temperature to 300 degrees, and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours. Use a meat thermometer after 2.5 hours to determine how rare vs done you want it. The rub can contain whatever you want in it. You can use BBQ sauce, but I don't recommend it. A basic rub would be for a 4 to 5 pound piece of meat, 2 tablespoons of salt, 1.5 tablespoons of chili powder, half a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a crushed bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of ground mustard. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare, then forget about it for a couple hours.

These are just a few items you can cook for your Super Bowl party that are sure to leave you with the distinction of Super Bowl Chef. Try them out, and let me know how it worked for you either here or on Google+. But for now, consider some of these, and good luck with your Super Bowl party! My goal is to make you LEGENDARY!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

FIRE EVERYBODY!!! State of the Dolphins and Their Fans

Fire everyone! Time to move on! The quarterback sucks! Fire Wallace! Fire Tannehill! Fire Jeff Ireland! Sell the team to Chuck Norris! Fire Coach Philbin! Fire Mike Sherman! Get rid of Wake and Wallace for some cap room! The logo sucks!

(I'm not going to bring up the logo again. This post is not about the logo. I only added that comment about the logo to show that some fans still can't get over it. Want to gripe about the logo? Read this post, and gripe there.)

All of those were comments I've seen on the Miami Dolphins Facebook page. I have never seen such a group of uninformed wannabe team owners in my life. Let's revisit some Dolphins history shall we?

Since the last time they were in the AFC Championship, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers have both become teams, and both have been to the conference championships TWICE. Carolina has even been to a Super Bowl, and currently, they are the number 2 seed in the NFC. The Houston Texans have become a team, and have been to the AFC Championship.

Also since the last time the Dolphins were in the AFC Championship, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints (2 long time bottom feeder teams) have both won Super Bowls. The San Francisco 49ers have won a Super Bowl, lost the players on that team, went through a stagnant phase, rebuilt, and have been to another Super Bowl, and are looking to go again. The Seattle Seahawks (another long time bottom feeder) have been to a Super Bowl, and are a favorite to be in the next one, and are well on their way, being the current #1 seed in the NFC.. The Rams were in 2 Super Bowls. Won one, lost one. Not to mention the Patriots becoming the latest dynasty. The Baltimore Ravens, formerly the Cleveland Browns go from decades of being horrible to winning 2 Super Bowl championships. Even the Arizona Freaking Cardinals made it to a Super Bowl, and almost won it!

Believe it or not, there are fans of other teams who have had it worse. MUCH worse than Dolphins fans.

By the way, the last time the Dolphins were in the AFC Championship was 1993.

Yep. Yous guys did SO well once
ya got ridda me.
Don Shula retired in in 1996. Since then, Miami has had Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt, Nick (Prick)
Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, and now Joe Philbin. Plus, 2 interim coaches who stepped in when Dave Wannstedt and Tony Sparano ran for the hills. For those of you scoring at home, that's 6 coaches (8 if you count the interim coaches) in 17 years. That's horrible.

So, I have a question. What has the revolving door of coaches gotten the Dolphins since 1996? SEVEN LOSING SEASONS SINCE 2002. Dave Wannstedt had only ONE losing season in 5 years. 11-5 twice and 10-6 once, and fans (including me) were demanding his head. Looking back, I wonder why we were giving him so much grief when the last time the Dolphins were in the Super Bowl was 1984! I would much rather see those numbers than the pathetic seasons Miami has had since Wanny was run out of town.

A QB with the last name 'Lemon'
probably wasn't a good idea.
And let's look at quarterbacks shall we? Since Dan Marino retired in 1999, SEVENTEEN quarterbacks have started for the Dolphins. Damon Huard, Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, AJ Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Moore, and Ryan Tannehill.

So, are we noticing a pattern here? Basically, inconsistency=LOSING! So, to all the fans who are suggesting yet another turnover, let me just ask one question...What do you think that will accomplish? It will accomplish NOTHING, other than putting the Dolphins back in loserville for another 5 years. And what happens if the Dolphins hire Bill Cowher, or one of the other retread retired legends of years past, and they can't do it either? Jimmy Johnson ring a bell? I'll tell you what will happen. Lets say the
You fans DID demand this guy, and
you all know it.
7-8-1 in his first year,
7-9 in his second year???
Dolphins hire Cowher, and he goes 6-10 in his first season. Some of the fans will be demanding his head right then. Others will wait until they go 7-9 the following season, then most will be on the 'Fire Bill Cowher' bandwagon. And 90% of the people calling for his head will be the people clamoring for Cowher in the first place. How do I know? Because that is EXACTLY what is happening now with Philbin. Lots of you were clamoring for Jeff Fisher. Well, in his first season with the Rams, he went 7-8-1, and 7-9 in his second. Should the Rams fire him? If not, then why not? Why does he get a pass but Philbin doesn't? Philbin at least has a winning season under his belt.  And, these same people are the first to throw owner Stephen Ross under the bus. Don't you remember how everyone was demanding Wayne Huizenga hire an offensive minded head coach? He went out and got the one who was considered the best available. Cam Cameron. Sure, he was a dud, but those same fans who were demanding Cameron were ready to crucify Huizenga for hiring him after they went 1-15. Should Cameron have been fired? Absolutely, but you can't blast Huizenga for hiring him when you were demanding that he be hired in the first place. You can't have it both ways, people.

Damn dude, your offensive line REALLY sucks!
They didn't even TRY to block me!
Now, the Dolphins do have problems that need to be addressed, and I'm going to get into those right now.
Coach Philbin, sit down. You aren't going anywhere. That's right. Philbin is the best coach we have had in a long time. In fact all of the coaches need to stay except offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, and offensive line coach, Jim Turner. The offensive plays this year were reminiscent of the conservative and predictable play calling by Tony Sparano. And the offensive line? Ryan Tannehill was sacked almost 60 times this year. So, bring in another offensive coordinator, and another offensive line coach.

The other problems Miami has are the deep ball, and running game. Both in my opinion would be corrected if Tannehill had faith in his offensive line. He and Mike Wallace did find some chemistry later in the season. The running game showed signs of life too. But, did you notice something? The offensive tightened up in the later part of the season. Not enough for Sherman and Turner to keep their jobs, but enough to show that the talent is there.

The main whipping boy for these fans is GM, Jeff Ireland. He is another person who is being unfairly thrown under the bus. Honestly, did ANY of you think that all those free agents he brought in would click and gel
overnight? I remember alot of you saying that you didn't have the highest of expectations for this season, but the expectations were for the 2014 season. So, what changed? Nothing changed. Only the direction that the wind was blowing in your heads. So why not give Ireland the time you so graciously allowed him during the 2013 offseason? If next season doesn't end with a playoff berth, then it will be time for Ireland to pack his bags.

The bottom line here is that the Dolphins have the best team they have had in a very long time. Ryan Tannehill is going to be a top NFL QB for a long time. Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace are going to be the best WR tandem since Duper and Clayton. Want to free up some cap space? Don't resign Dustin Keller at tight end. We don't need him. Charles Clay has emerged to be the best tight end the Phins have had in a very long time. The defense is set, although they could use some depth in the secondary.

No, ref..YOU are wrong. 8 of 9 on challenges confirms that I
am RIGHT. (Not part of the post, but I had to add it because
I am sure the refs hate Philbin because of that record.)
It isn't all gloom and doom, fellow Dolfans. The problems Miami has are so manageable it isn't even funny. New offensive coordinator, new offensive line coach, some new offensive linemen, and MAYBE a runningback. We are the closest we've been to a championship in a very VERY long time, and we will get there, but hitting the reset button yet again is NOT the way to do it. Like I said...The deep ball and the running game would fix themselves with a better offensive line. Other than that, the only other problem I see is finishing games. They need to not be afraid to run the score up on an opponent. They need to put their opponent away, and not let up on them. How many blown leads did Miami have this year? Do you see Peyton Manning and the Broncos easing up once they are up 10 points? No. And the reason why is because you don't win games that way. You need to put your foot on your opponent's throat, and keep it there until the clock reads all zeros.

Have faith, Dolfan Faithful. We are almost there! We are closer than we were in 2002-2003 when only a crappy backup QB ruined it for us. Keep your chin up, and we will get there. Once we do, there will be a dynasty in South Florida!

Here's some food for thought...Wouldn't you like to see an all Florida Super Bowl between the Bucs and Dolphins? It could happen.

One last thing before I end this...At least we aren't Jaguars fans. 
And Russell Wilson thanks you from the bottom of his heart.