Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Here Lies June 2010...

June was a crazy month.  There were shows, incredibly hot weather, and more complaints about Kansas City than you can shake a stick at, but that's not the point.  The month began with the party folks from North Carolina, otherwise known as Widow making their, what seems to be an annual tradition now, return engagement to Kansas City along with Las Vegas, Nevada's party folks known as Seventh Calling.  As you would expect, there was much drinking and much metal music.  This month also saw the old man hit the big 7-0, so a party was held at Smithville Lake with family, including a few that made the trip from New Mexico.  The next morning, I went with the relatives to New Mexico, which for the first time in a while, didn't feel like a thirteen hour drive.  Well, there was an extra three hours to Albuquerque, but that's not important.  What is important is that road trips are what you make of it.  As Widow says, "Road trips can be fun if you choose to make it that way."

The week in New Mexico was hot, but not oppressively so.  That week included the Museum of Natural History and Sciences, a minor-league baseball game, sampling the night life, the zoo, and of course, Iron Maiden.  This month ended just like it began: with a metal show, featuring Skelator, and even though I had to turn in early, since it was a week night and I needed to be up early, it was a good show overall, though I would like for people here in Kansas City to actually try and make it out to more shows.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Comic Book Violence

Folks, gather around the fire (or whatever it is that you prefer) and let your ol' Uncle George A. Romero tell you some stories.  Well, let Romero and Stephen King tell you some stories, since Romero made the Stephen King and Bernie Wrightson comic Creepshow into a real life movie.

Here's the five stories that are in the first installation:

Father's Day: A rather fucked up story about a man who wants his Father's Day cake, even if it means rising up from the dead and getting revenge on his family.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill: Stephen King touches a meteor and turns into a plant.

Something to Tide You Over: Lt. Frank Drebin buries Becker and the woman from Dawn of the Dead up to their necks in sand, only to have their corpses get revenge on him.

The Crate: A pissed off Chewbacca eats anyone that gets near his home, and a rather annoying Adrienne Barbeau.

They're Creeping Up On You: Think Joe's Apartment, only with more vindictive cockroaches.

If any of the above is absurd to you, then you are right.  Romero plays up this factor, combining both the actual and comic book effects to a tee.  Yes, it is horror, but it will also make you laugh.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flies and the Alps

Yesterday got me angry because the Portland Trailblazers are now looking for a new General Manager.  As you may know just by reading some of the ramblings on here, and even if you don't, if you actually talk to me, you know this, I am a Trailblazers fan.  Exactly why a team would fire a general manager that was doing a good job is beyond me, and barring the next guy coming in and doing just as good of a job, if not better, the owner will see some angry letters his way.

And tonight is the beginning of the NHL draft, for you folks interested in seeing how your team's future will look like in a few years.

Sports rants are out of the way, so on to something that I haven't done in a while: writing about horror movies.  I haven't been able to catch up on some of the movies that I had been meaning to get to, so here's one that I had seen more than once.  As you may also know just by reading this blog, I am into horror movies, especially Italian horror.  Today is another movie by Dario Argento, one of the more famous directors to come from the country shaped like a boot.  However, it isn't a classic, but rather, one of his worst efforts, though not for the lack of trying.

Phenomena was made in 1984 and was pretty much the beginning of the end in Argento's relationship with Daria Nicolodi, who is also in this movie.  The central plot of the movie is that a young girl (Jennifer Connelly) can communicate with insects.  This power is useful in trying to figure out who has been killing a few of the folks in Switzerland.  A few things to note about the movie: this was filmed in Switzerland, so everything you see in the movie is really what you would see in Switzerland in real life.  Second is the girl that gets killed in the beginning: that would be Fiore Argento, older daughter of Dario Argento and sister to Asia Argento.  Phenomena also had the distinction of being filmed with all the actors speaking in English, which proved to be a chore for the likes of Nicolodi.  The plot of the movie also had a few too many red herrings, meaning that things designed to throw you off were many to the point where one couldn't figure out what was relevant to the story.

The entire movie wasn't that great, as it was more of the normal horror movie than an Argento movie, and the soundtrack relied more on bands like Motorhead and Iron Maiden, which in some ways threw off the overall mood of the movie.  Bad, for sure, but it's still better than most of the movies released in the last decade or so.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts from Yesterday's NHL Awards

Can't you tell that I'm in hockey withdrawal when the thing I lead off with isn't the U.S. futbol team wins to make it into the knocout round?  Wait, I just did, but that's as far as I will go in this piece.  Last night was the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas, and like the years past, the NHL made sure to make a big deal out of it.  It doesn't drag out naming its winners well after the season is over like the MLB does (good thing), and it doesn't name its winners while the playoffs like the NFL and NBA do (bad thing), but the one thing that the NHL has going for itself is that it brings the glamour to the awards, even if most of the people have no idea how the awards got the names.

I'll try to keep this short, so here were the winners from last night, with my thoughts attached:

Calder Trophy (rookie of the year): Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres
I am not surprised at this selection, though I thought the voting would be a little closer.

Selke Trophy (defensive forward): Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Disappointed that Ryan Kesler didn't win, but there is a reason why Datsyuk has won this trophy for a few years running now.

Jack Adams (coach): Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes

No surprise here.  Having an uncertain ownership and team future in Phoenix and succeeding in making the playoffs is cause for a near unanimous vote.

Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player): Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

Any of the finalists (St. Louis, Datsyuk, Brad Richards) could have walked away with this trophy, but St. Louis' six penalties broke the tie, as they were the least number of penalties taken.

Vezina (goalie): Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

I thought the voting would be much closer than it was, as Ilya Bryzgalov certainly deserved this trophy as well.  The Olympic performance of Miller must have put him over the top.

Norris (defenseman): Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Right choice, although I wonder how Mike Green finished ahead of Drew Doughty.  Green has a bad habit of disappearing during the biggest games while Doughty shows up for the big games.

Hart (MVP): Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

This was the right choice.  Ovechkin finishing ahead of Crosby is a bit of a mystery, since Crosby put the Penguins on his back when Malkin had bouts of inconsistency.

Other award winners:

Masterton (perseverance): Jose Theodore, Washington Capitals
Mark Messier Leadership Award: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Art Ross (most points): Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Maurice "Rocket" Richard (most goals): Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
King Clancy (humanitarian): Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Ted Lindsay (MVP as voted by players): Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yesterday (Language warning)

Take a good look at the picture to your left because that will likely be the calmest this post gets.  There are two things that I would like to address: France getting bounced out of the World Cup and the Hockey Hall of Fame naming its new inductees.  Before I get into either one, I would like to also say that the NHL Awards ceremony is tonight, so that should be fun.  Friday is the NHL draft, which save for the top three picks, rarely ever sees players make the direct jump to the senior circuit.

Now, on to the subjects for today.  Before I begin, if you happen to dislike salty language, please stop reading now or skip to the second subject, as the first subject is full of it.  Still here?  Okay.  Fuck you, France!  You didn't deserve to be in the World Cup and you damn sure acted like you didn't want to be there.  The 2010 version is a fucking disgrace and puts Zinedine "headbutt" Zidane to shame.  How bad was it?  Well, if the president of your country is calling the national football team a disgrace, that should say everything you want to know.  Throw in the poor sportsmanship after the game against South Africa, the soap opera before that, and the fact that the team got shitty flying arrangements back home, and it is easy to see why there isn't enough expletives for France.  And I didn't even mention that they screwed Ireland out of a spot that they rightfully deserved.  France, this is justice for your shit and you should have known that karma is a bitch.  Now, you are going home with your tail between your legs and a lesson in respect, you arrogant pricks!

Second thing I'd like to talk about: the Hockey Hall of Fame naming its inductees.  I am not surprised that most of the names up for induction weren't named, as very few, if any, really stood out.  No Steve Yzerman, no Brett Hull, no Luc Robitaille, and no Grant Fuhr, which was last year's class.  This year, it was Dino Ciccarelli, Cammi Granato, and Angela James.  It says something about the induction class when the two easiest inductions are women, and don't think of me as being chauvanist because both Granato and James did a lot to put women's hockey on the map in both the United States and Canada, respectively.  However, the fact that Ciccarelli is in, after a few years, speaks of how little most of the nominees were thought of for this year.  And even Ciccarelli was pretty much a pity selection, as even with the 600-goal career, he never won a Stanley Cup, wasn't necessarily recognized as a spectacular player, and wasn't all that great off the ice, all of which explains his exclusion from the HHOF for a few years since he was eligible for induction.  I guess the only real surprise here was Joe Nieuwendyk not making it, as it would have seemed that he had enough on the resume to make it.  Not spectacular, mind you, but enough to be included this year.  Everyone else, you could make a good argument as to why they shouldn't be inducted this year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

No, it's not Monty Python that I will be talking about.  Instead, it is a more serious effort from Jackie Chan (Yes, that Jackie Chan) in the form of the Shinjuku Incident.  Most people might not have heard of this movie, as it saw a rather limited release in the United States.

The plot of the movie is that Steelhead (Chan) has come to Japan illegally from China in search of his fiancée.  He meets his "brother" and  sees his fiancée with another man, which leads him to try and become a  citizen of Japan legally.  One incident between the "brother" and a gang leader later, Steelhead decides to take revenge and in the process, saves a different gang leader, which leads to him finding out that the fiancée is married to the gang leader he saved and has a daughter.  Soon, he is head of a gang, but his ideals aren't going over well with the other immigrants that he travelled with, and a civil war breaks out.

Shinjuku Incident is a far cry from what people expect from a Jackie Chan movie, in that the action isn't nearly as abundant and the movie takes on a darker, more serious tone.  This is actually one of Chan's better efforts in recent memory, as people finally get to see him outside of the norm and do so admirably.  However, if you're in the U.S., you're likely going to get a badly dubbed version of this movie, so looking for the original version would be your best bet. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

The week that was...

The image you see above was taken as the sun was setting on Storrie Lake near Las Vegas, NM, which is about two hours north of Albuquerque.  Unofficially, that view was the beginning of my week in New Mexico, which included a stop in a town called Mora, where I have family and is actually one of the cooler spots in New Mexico.  I didn't make it to Albuquerque until 10 PM local time.  Monday was a trip to the Museum of Natural History and Sciences and the Old Town Plaza, which was followed by a walk through the Nob Hill neighborhood, which is across the street from the University of New Mexico campus.
Tuesday marked baseball night, as I went to see the Albuquerque Isotopes play the Omaha Royals.  If the Isotopes name sounds familiar to you Simpsons fans, it is because the baseball team on the show was called the Springfield Isotopes.  You may also recall that in one episode, Homer staged a hunger strike in order to keep the Isotopes from relocating to Albuquerque.  The home team lost, and rumors of Dancing Homer surfacing were unfounded.  Wednesday was Iron Maiden, which was good times.  The venue was practically out in the middle of nowhere with winds sometimes being really strong.  If you want to see how that show went, read "Iron Maiden Thoughts," which was written a few days ago.  Thursday was nothing of note, and Friday was getting a small sample of the nightlife in Albuquerque.  It could be better, but it's still better than Kansas City right now.  Saturday was a do nothing day, meaning a day to relax before heading back to the sauna that is Kansas City.

Now, to the stuff that happened while I was away:  First, because I didn't have cable where I was, I could not watch the World Cup.  Therefore, I had to check the scores online, and one of the things that caught my eye was the horrific officiating.  Now, before you jump on me, this isn't confined to the United States/Slovenia game.  Germany/Serbia had too many fouls called that probably shouldn't have been called, and Brazil/Ivory Coast had some missed calls.

Also while I was away, I read that the Montreal Canadiens traded Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for a couple of prospects.  Predictably, Canadiens fans are livid about the trade.  I don't blame them, as Halak proved himself in the playoffs.  The trade leaves Carey Price as the team's presumed number one goaltender, and given that Price hasn't shown that he can handle the pressure cooker that is Montreal, this is not good news.  So, why trade Halak, you may be asking?  Price was a former first round pick, which means more money is tied into him than Halak and since both are restricted free agents, someone was going to be moved. I personally think this move was stupid because Montreal is setting themselves and Price up for failure.  A change of scenery might have helped Price, as he hasn't been the same goaltender that burst onto the scene in 2008.  The only way this trade works out is if Halak is exposed as a fraud, the two prospects the Canadiens got in return pan out, and Price lives up to the first round status.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Iron Maiden thoughts

Wednesday night of the week in New Mexico brought the Iron Maiden/Dream Theater show and as one would expect, there was quite a crowd.  To your left is the gateway to the venue where the show was held: the Albuquerque Pavilion.  It's practically located in the middle of nowhere and going down University Blvd., there are a couple of snake statues that look like actual giant snakes pulling a Tremors like invasion.  Waiting to get into the venue was obviously a pain in the ass, as the sun was beating down in a way that only the Southwest can offer.  On this day however, it was also quite windy, which if I was twenty pounds lighter, I would be gone with the wind.

As for the show itself, Dream Theater played a 45 minute set, which was rather surprising, given that the band has been around for twenty-five years.  Iron Maiden played a near two hour set, with most of the songs being from Brave New World forward.  The new single from the upcoming album The Final Frontier "El Dorado" was also played.  Old school fans weren't left out, as "Fear of the Dark" was played, and the encore was all older songs that many in the crowd were familiar with, though "Run to the Hills," "Aces High," and "Powerslave" were all left off, which was just as well, since Maiden's set list was due for a change.  When it comes to comparing seeing bands live to religious experiences, for me, Agalloch and Iron Maiden are right up there, and now, I have seen them both live.

And here's a visual that made the evening all worth it, Maiden on a side screen with a beautiful sunset in the background:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More random hockey thoughts

A week after the Stanley Cup Finals ended, there is still some fall out from the season that was the 2009-2010 NHL season.  For instance, the Hockey Hall of Fame will announce the new inductees next week, and odds are that the players inducted this year will be the most debated inductees.  Joe Nieuwendyk?  Surest bet as an inductee (member of the 500 goals club, three Stanley Cups with Calgary, Dallas, and New Jersey).  Pavel Bure?  Injuries robbed him of a 500 goal career, as he was a surefire bet for 50 goals when healthy, with three 50 goal seasons and two 60 goal seasons.  Eric Lindros?  Dominant early on, but concussions and an undistinguished career after 2000 damage his chances.  The off the ice drama with Flyers management also hurts his chances.  Those are the three players that are among the most talked about when it comes to this year's Hall of Fame class.

Also next week will be the Awards ceremony, where the best of the regular season are recognized.  And even though it doesn't hold the same hype as the NFL and NBA drafts, the NHL Draft is equally important in that if you screw up, it could set you back a few years.  July 1 is the first day of free agency, and the biggest prize this year is Ilya Kovalchuk.  He will definitely be a boost to anyone's offense, but having a good overall defensive team would be a must, as he hasn't been known as an average defensive player.  The goaltending crop is rather weak this year, and defensively, the prize is a stay at home defenseman in Anton Volchenkov.  The list of 50 free agents, as according to Yahoo:;_ylt=AuktULGuslmirRgbF5jlJrx7vLYF?slug=sm-freeagents0616

Update: The Red Wings resigned Todd Bertuzzi for two years.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"I'd like to put a bounty on Tim McCracken, coach and chief punk of the Syracuse team."

As I prepare for tonight's Iron Maiden show, I am reminded of just how empty I feel right now, given that hockey season is over until October.  Never more was that evident than the 1977 cult classic Slap Shot.  While the movie stars Paul Newman (You may have heard of him), the real stars of the movie are the Hanson Brothers.

The plot:  The movie focuses on a fictional team called the Charlestown Chiefs, who are members of the fictional Federal League. The team, a perennial loser and in financial trouble due to mill closings in the town, is due to be folded at season's end. Reggie Dunlop, the veteran player-coach by Newman, has no idea who the owner of the team is.  The team acquires the Hanson Brothers, who are introduced by kicking a soda machine that takes their quarter.  It is there that the hilarity ensues, as we find out that they also bring their toy cars along for the trip and wrap their fists with tin foil.  And it wouldn't be the Hanson Brothers without the famous thick-rimmed glasses.  But the Chiefs aren't just the Hansons and Dunlop; there are other interesting characters on the team as well, such as Ned Braden (goal scorer who refuses to drop the gloves), Denis Lemieux (flaky French Canadian goaltender, which sounds a lot like me, except for the French Canadian part), Dave "Killer" Carlson (scrapper who believes in New Age theories), and Morris Wanchuk (says the word "snatch" a lot).  Eventually, the fortunes of the Chiefs take a turn for the better as they begin to employ "goon tactics" and the winning ways attract a crowd, good (if you're the Chiefs) and bad (towns like Hyannisport and Syracuse).  A conflict arises when the Chiefs are about to fold after Charlestown's mill closes in all of this.

If a city like Detroit can look somewhere for inspiration, Slap Shot would be a great movie to look at.  Comedy?  This movie has it.  Hockey? Absolutely.  Quotes?  There are quite a few to choose from.  Ironically, the movie has had a far reaching effect on the sport, as there have been a few teams that have adopted the Chiefs moniker, and the real life team that the Charlestown Chiefs were based on was in the midst of its own troubles.  That team recently folded and moved, though not to Florida.

The Hanson Brothers in action:

Hilarious scene from Slap Shot:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Away in the Desert Lands

I am in Albuquerque as you read this, so trying put in new pieces for this which you read (and even if you don't, your viewing of this blog is enough for me) will be spotty at best, like Bette Midler on the rag.

And enjoy the World Cup!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hotel to Hell

Mention the name Lucio Fulci and one of the very first things that someone will say is The Beyond.  Along with Zombi 2, this is one of Fulci's most famous movies.

The plot of the movie?  I did the lazy thing and looked it up on IMDB:

"The New Yorker Liza Merril inherits an old hotel in Louisiana, and invests her savings to reopen the place. While repairing the building, many people die, and local Dr. John McCabe feels close to Liza and tries to help her to solve the mystery of the hotel. Meanwhile, Emily, a blind woman, advises Liza to leave the place as soon as possible. Later they realize that the place is one gate of hell and has been opened, permitting the dead walk on Earth."

The real fun in the movie isn't just the ways in which the people die, but also the scare factor.  This is definitely not a movie that you would want to try acid on (not that I do that kind of thing) because the movie is pretty weird even without someone trying drugs.  While not nearly as gory as Zombi 2, The Beyond more than holds its own in that regard and has one of the most ambiguous endings that you will see.  In other words, it's up for open interpretation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cleaning up the Hockey Season That Was...

Last night marked the end of a journey.  Around 10:20 Central time, Patrick Kane ended the hockey season with a goal that gave the Chicago Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup in almost 50 years.  That goal put an emphatic, yet odd end to a season that saw some peaks (the Olympics) and valleys (the Patrice Cormier incident in the junior leagues), so perhaps the delayed celebration was appropriate after all.

Now, for the pain in the ass part (besides not having hockey for three months): trying to figure out what each team should do in order to raise Lord Stanley's Cup in 2011.  Needless to say, this will be as big of a pain in the ass as trying to move Dustin Byfuglien from in front of your team's goaltender.  This will take a while, so if you happen to see many parts like this, there's nothing I can do except do the research.

Naturally, the first two teams that I should talk about are the Blackhawks and Flyers.  First, the newly crowned champion Blackhawks:  They have a potentially bad situation as far as the cap goes.  Obviously, if they did their homework on the players in the lower levels, then there's no reason why they can't keep this run going for years.  The biggest question is what to do with the huge contract of Cristobal Huet.  It's clear that Antii Niemi is the number one goaltender in Chicago now, yet Huet is being payed like a number one goaltender.  If Huet gets moved, then it could help ease some of the cap pressure for the Blackhawks.

The Flyers:  It looks like Michael Leighton is the team's number one goaltender, but as the team proved, you can never have enough good goaltending.  Remember, the Flyers began the season with Ray Emery, who went down early, and then it was Brian Boucher, who was injured and had bouts of inconsistency, and then Leighton, a waiver claim who played very well before going down to injury.  Ironically, it was the inconsistent Boucher that saved the Flyers' season.  Depth is a concern, as that was exposed in the Finals, and for that matter, nearly exposed in the Bruins series.  And don't forget about Chris Pronger, who despite being a money player, has moved around three times since the last lockout.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Penguins Third Jersey: take one

As some of you may know, 1996 was the first year that third jerseys were introduced into the NHL landscape.  It also brought out some of the most horrific designs ever such as the "Wild Wing" and the "Burger King" jerseys.  And no, the Islanders' media disaster that they unleashed doesn't count, as that was a complete makeover, albeit, a disastrous one.  Well, there was one jersey that actually had moderate success, to the point that it became the team's road jersey.

Take a good look at the jersey in the picture.  Most Penguins fans will hate the logo because it looks too "corporate," but on this particular jersey, the logo is the centerpiece of the design, and it shows.  From the odd striping to the middle of the jersey playing off of the logo, this was far and away, the best design of all the jerseys that came out in 1996.  The jersey ultimately died out as the Penguins began to transition back to their original logo of a skating penguin.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Soundtrack to Your Reanimation

Today's piece is slightly different, in that it is a soundtrack from a movie rather than the movie itself (with apologies to Aesop at Cosmic Hearse).  If you have been following this blog from the beginning, or know who I am, I am sure you recognize the movie above.  Yes, it is the "unreleased incidental music" from Dawn of the Dead.  I was fortunate enough to find this sitting in a record store in the first of my Portland travels.  This is a must have for Romero fans and fans of the movie in general, as it is one of the harder to find soundtracks out there.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Lifting From Books

Because I have no idea as to what to fill this space with, here is something that I did as one of the notes on Facebook.  Today's piece is Tenebre, another classic in the Dario Argento filmography.

Tenebre (1982)
Directed by Dario Argento

For this edition of Doc Reviews the Classics, I will be going to the movies. That's right, this edition will be taking a look at one of my favorite movies, and what better place to start than with a Dario Argento film. While you may think I will be taking a look at Deep Red or Suspiria, those are good choices, but I will be looking at one of his more underrated films, Tenebre.

The basic plot of Tenebre is that there is a killer that patterns his killings after a book written by the main character Peter Neal titled Tenebre. The movie begins with Neal heading to the airport to take a flight to Rome. While he is in flight, the first act of murder happens in Rome, when a woman is made to eat the pages of the book she stole a few minutes earlier before the killer slashes her throat with an open razor. Neal arrives at the Rome airport and gets to the hotel with his publicist Bullmer, personal assistant Anne, a young man named Gianni. It is when he gets to his room that he finds Detectives Germani and Altieri, who want to question him about the murder. Since the murder happened to be similar in the manner described in the book he wrote, along with a note addressed to him, the detectives ask for his assistance in the event that it happens again. Soon, a couple more women are killed in a different manner that is also described in the book and another letter is addressed to him. Eventually, another woman accidentally stumbles into the murderer's lair, but is discovered and tries to run away from the murderer, only to get hacked with an ax. The series of murders continues when Christiano Berti, a person that Peter Neal had been interviewed by a few days earlier, gets killed with an axe to the head. Eventually, the killer is discovered, but not before more murders are committed. Yes, the English doesn't match the movement of the actors' lips, but given that there were going to be multiple translations of the movie, this was to be expected. The murders themselves are set up nicely with a slick stalker element and the murders themselves are spectacular. For instance, the murder of the two women in their appartment has one woman's shirt being slashed by the open razor that shows her face as she is being killed. Another great scene happens after Neal's ex gets her hand cut off, with a stream of blood painting the walls that is followed by a repeated axe hacking. The ending will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. As is the case in every Dario Argento, the murders happen with the killer's hands being the only thing that is seen, thus keeping the identity of the killer secret until it is time to reveal him or her. Music is provided by three fourths of Goblin, who go by their last names for this movie, and add a more modern feel to the movie.

While it is argued that Deep Red is the best movie Dario Argento made, Tenebre isn't that far behind. The things that are most commonly associated with Argento are there, but are done so to incorporate new things. A murder mystery in the truest sense, the twists and turns will keep you riveted until the end, with an ending that you won't see coming.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Heavy Metal Night

I know this is a little late, as it happened Friday night, but nonetheless, here is a recap of Friday night's festivites, hereby dubbed Heavy Metal Night.  Most of this piece will be related to the show, so if you want to ask me what happened outside of the show, sorry about your damn luck.  You should have been there.

The show itself happened at the Riot Room, which is a small venue in Kansas City that holds about 250 people.  Of the bands that were listed on the flyer, only three showed up: Seventh Calling, Widow, and Ravisher.  The attendance was rather sparse, which if you've followed the metal scene in Kansas City for a while, isn't much to write home about, as it seems to be a regular occurrence.  For those that were at the show, it was less of an actual show and more of a backyard party where everyone knows one another.  Before the show, the Widow band members decided to get something to eat along with a few other people, including me.  At one point, there were ten people, but once the table was decided upon, two got squeezed out and a short time later, two more people exited, leaving three of the Widow members, me, and a couple of the locals.

As for the show itself, the opening act Ravisher from Topeka put on a fairly decent set, but could use some stage presence.  That will sort itself out, as it appears that the band is relatively inexperienced when it comes to live shows.  Widow was next, and those who were there were treated to a great show.  Playing songs from all three of their albums, as well as a song from the forthcoming album, the band also had a little fun with the audience.  Seventh Calling ended the evening with their brand of power metal.  Like Widow, Seventh Calling is no stranger to Kansas City, and their music went over well with the people that were there.

Note: if you're looking for some videos of the event, look in the youtube channel pucksandrocks.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wrestlemania 2: the Cliff Notes version

Ever since I began this blog, I have written about almost everything that I happen to like.  Today, since the Stanley Cup Finals won't end until Sunday at the earliest, and the World Cup isn't until next week, I figure that there has been one thing I haven't talked about yet: pro wrestling.  I am sure that those who follow or read this will undoubtedly roll their eyes at the thought of me talking about two grown men "acting" in what amounts to a softcore porn.  Before I get to today's subject Wrestlemania 2, I would like to say that it wasn't always that way, but if you need someone to point the finger at for pro wrestling acting gay, point it at one Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

That rant out of the way, on to Wrestlemania 2, perhaps the worst Wrestlemania of them all, although the last two could challenge for that distinction.  So, here's the rundown of the card for this Wrestlemania, as held in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, with some "witty remarks":

"Magnificent" Don Muraco vs. "Mr. Wonderful"  Paul Orndorff: pretty decent match on paper, bullshit in practice, as this ended in a count out.

George "The Animal" Steele vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (Intercontinental Championship match): One of the better matches on the card, which isn't saying much.

George Wells vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Squash match, with a pre-fighting the demons Roberts winning and Wells spewing something white out of his mouth after having Roberts' snake Damien put on him.

Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper: Boxing match that was pointless.  No idiots in cars, though.

Velvet McIntyre vs. Fabulous Moolah (Women's Championship match): Shortest match most notable for a wardrobe malfunction on McIntyre's part.

Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner (Flag match): Nothing of note here.

20 man battle royal: Wrestlers and NFL stars of that time, won by Andre the Giant.

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. the British Bulldogs (Tag Team Championship match): Decent match, won by the Bulldogs.

Hercules Hernandez vs. Ricky Steamboat: Nothing to really see here, Steamboat won.

"Adorable" Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer: Worst match on the card, I want my ten minutes back.

The Funks (Terry and Hoss) vs. Tito Martel and Junkyard Dog: No, that's not a typo, I really did write "Tito Martel" and I don't remember who won.

King Kong Bundy vs. Hulk Hogan (Steel cage WWF Championship match): Better known as the Baby Blue Jungle Gym match between Shamu and the Orange Goblin, with the Goblin refusing to job, as usual.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another piece bites the dust

Yesterday's news of Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement brought back some memories of a time where even through what is now a stained era in which the homerun ball was popular, Griffey was the total package. Yes, the numbers speak for themselves, as his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy (.284 AVG, 630 HR, 1836 RBI, 184 SB, 10 Gold Gloves), but it was the manner in which he played and the class that he carried himself with off the field that many will remember. Me personally, I will remember a consistent performer that would give the team 100%, a characteristic that would ironically catch up to him in his later years, as injuries robbed him of possibly being the one to hold the homerun record. Let us not remember Griffey for what he could have done, but for what he did. He was one of the few people that could make wearing a hat backwards cool, had a smile that could light up a room, and most of all for Seattle fans, Safeco Field is the "House that Griffey built."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Alestorm interview from 2008

The following is the Alestorm interview originally posted on Living For Metal in January 2008. Obviously, there has been some changes from the band's lineup since then, and people's opinions on the band are polarizing. Answering the questions is the vocalist/keyboardist Christopher Bowes.

Peter: For those who are just knowing about the band, could you tell about the band's origins?
Christopher Bowes: We formed back in 2004, in a swamp somewhere in the highlands of Scotland. Gavin was playing an awesome guitar solo on top of a mountain, and I was shredding heroically on the keytar at the bottom of Loch Ness. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning came forth from my keytar, and Gavin's guitar started shooting laser beams into the sky. Where they overlapped, the image of a pirate appeared, and it said "Ye shall formeth a bandeth, and it shall be called Alestorm. eth." Then we found a bassist and a drummer trapped in the swamp, and recruited them to be in our band. And the rest, as they say in the movies, is history. That's mostly true, apart from the bit with the swamp. And the mountain. And the magical pirate in the sky.
Peter: What are some of your influences, musically or otherwise?
CB: Musically, i'm influenced by epic metal bands, like Bal-Sagoth, Turisas, and Yog-Sothoth. Bands who aren't afraid to do silly things with keyboards. Fuck knows what the rest of the band likes, I bet they're all Children of Bodom fanboys or something. Non-musically, we're influenced by booze, computer games, and the cookery of Heston Blumenthal.
Peter: How did the deal with Napalm Records come about?
CB: We're a bunch of lazy bastards, and were looking for a record label. We couldn't be arsed making a press pack or whatever the fuck it is that most labels look for. Then we saw that Napalm Records likes myspace pages. So we sent them a link to ours, and within a couple of days, they wanted to sign us. Which was nice.
Peter: This month, the debut full-length Captain Morgan's Revenge will released. Is there a back story behind the album title and if so, would you please explain?
CB: Captain Morgan's Revenge is what happens the morning after you drink too much rum!
Peter: On to the technical details, first, the recording process. How did you decide on the studio where the album was recorded and on the producer?
CB: Our guitarist Gavin knew the producer Lasse Lammert from some forums on the internet, and knew that he was an awesome producer. So we went over to Germany to record in his newly built studio, which was good fun. A solid month of nothing but sausages and cheap beer! It's definitely a better experience working with someone you know, instead of some random boring producer guy who's only doing it for the paycheck.
Peter: The artwork and band photography further the point of what Alestorm is about. What factored into the decisions of hiring Ingo Roemling and Steve Brown for the artwork and photography, respectively?
CB: Was nothing to do with us, like! Ingo does the artwork for a lot of bands on Napalm Records, so they got him to do it. We didn't really have much of a say into what the artwork looks like, but the guy did a fantastic job, and we all love it. As for the photographs, the label are desperate for us to be the next Turisas clone, so their photographer was hired. Again though, he was a great guy to work with, we had loads of good craic with him during the photoshoot.
Peter: The album itself is full of songs that are destined to be pub favorites. What songs do you think best exemplify the Alestorm sound?
CB: Oh man, tough one that. We've all got different favourite songs, so it's not like there's one standout amazing song on the album and a bunch of shitty filler numbers. I guess 'Over the Seas' is very typical of our sound, it ticks all the boxes: Epic brass-section fanfares, cheesy accordions, ripping solo duels, and a good lump of piratey singalong goodness. The perfect song to start an album with, really.
Peter: One of the more curious songs on the album is the closing song Flower of Scotland. Is there any meaning behind the song?
CB: Well, it's the Scottish national anthem, innit? Everyone in the country knows it, so we thought it'd be a good song to finish the album with. Plus it sounds epic as fuck with galloping guitars and stuff. Fantastic one to play to a home crowd as well.
Peter: Are there going to be any tours in the near future in support of Captain Morgan's Revenge?
CB: Aye, we've got a UK tour lined up with Turisas & Norther in March, which will be good exposure and a truly epic quest. Also a handful of festivals throughout europe in the summer, including the mighty Metal Camp in Slovenia, which we just confirmed this week. Really looking forward to that one.
Peter: Any words of wisdom you want to leave for the fans?
CB: Aye! Ye cannae shove yer granny off a bus, cos she's yer mammie's mammy! Cheers, ye bunch of choochters!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bastards and Sharks

For all of the talk about George A. Romero and the "Dead" trilogy, which includes Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, all three of those combined aren't nearly as cheese filled as the signature film of Lucio Fulci. If you have never seen Zombi 2 (this is how I will refer to the movie in this piece, as that was the Italian name, since Dawn of the Dead was titled, inexplicably, Zombi), then turn in your zombie movie card now.

The plot to Zombi 2 is paper thin, like most zombie movies, as a reporter and a woman team up to find out about the whereabouts of the woman's father. Parts of the movie were shot in an exotic location, as well as New York, where the first signs of a zombie infestation occur on an abandoned boat. Here's all you need to know about Zombi 2: there's a shark vs. zombie battle, a woman gets her eye impaled by a wooden spike, the wonderful creature you see in the picture above rises out of the ground to feast on a woman's throat, and the director forgot to close off the bridge at the end of the movie. Sounds simple enough, really, but that's only the beginning. There is a lot more to that, and Fulci offers cheese and zombies in abundance. All of this adds up to one of the top three zombie movies ever made.