Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 276: Oh, Canada

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Ric Dube as we dissect a classic mid-1970s song from a Canadian music legend. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Recorded at More Lost Time world HQ
- Dissecting Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"
- Song's a total downer, no pun intended
- Based on a true life incident in 1975
- Sounds like Lightfoot put the Wikipedia entry to music
- Checking out the early '70s Canadian band Lighthouse
- Sounds like the Guess Who or Blood, Sweat and Tears
- Lightfoot's "Sundown" is a much better song
- Ric: A little like Velvet Underground's "Loaded"
- Frank Chacksfield, the king of elevator music
- Making slow '70s songs even slower
- Pat Boone and Paul Anka later made entire albums covering hard rock songs
- Anne Murray dominated Canadian radio in the '70s
- Canadian content rule meant a third of music on the radio had to be Canadian
- A random song from The Randoms to wash the MOR crap away
- Teenage Head was an Ontario punk band from the late '70s
- CanCon meant a lot of bands got on the radio that normally wouldn't have
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
Sloan - Everything You've Done Wrong

Stars - Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Sloan song is on the album One Chord to Another on Murderecords. Download the song for free at Noisetrade.
The Stars song is on the album The North on ATO Records. Download it for free at Epitonic.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

At Last

 Editor's note: This originally ran as the Cold As Ice column on Popblerd.

Nine years is a long time. We’ve seen a slew of revolutionary technological advancements since 2004: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the iPad, super-fast smartphones. My youngest daughter was born that March and is now 9. And next week, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play their first playoff game since May 4, 2004. For Leafs fans like me, nine years has felt like 90 (and fans up there are paying big bucks for playoff tickets).

The Leafs were a perennial playoff team at that point, finishing the regular season with 103 points, just one behind the Northeast Division winning Boston Bruins. Toronto had a veteran-laden squad, with captain Mats Sundin leading a team that featured the likes of Ed Belfour, Brian Leetch, Joe Nieuwendyk, Alex Mogilny and Gary Roberts. But they were knocked off in 6 games in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers. Nobody in Toronto figured the Leafs would be out of the playoffs for one more year, let alone nine. But the 2004-2005 season was wiped out by a lockout, and when the NHL returned, a salary cap was in place that took away the Leafs’ deep-pocketed ability to sign free agents to big contracts. The pricey veterans from their last playoff either retired or weren’t re-signed, and Toronto entered into an era of mediocrity that was all too familiar to longtime fans such as myself who had witnessed the team’s awful 1980s decade.

In recent years, the Leafs have suffered through the many missteps of a few different general managers, including the outspoken Brian Burke, who was hired in 2008 but wasn’t able to deliver on the big promises of toughness and contention for a Stanley Cup. Burke was fired just before this abbreviated 48-game season (due to yet another lockout), and he no doubt was shaking his head as he watched the team he assembled finally securing a playoff spot. Led by goalie James Reimer and much maligned captain Dion Phaneuf and sniper Phil Kessel, the Leafs clinched a playoff spot last Saturday with a win over Ottawa. Much credit should be given to coach Randy Carlyle, who was hired last season after his predecessor Ron Wilson saw the team get off to a decent start but collapse in February and March.

Carlyle, who won a Cup with Anaheim in 2007, is a defensive-minded coach who is a big believer in line-matching and the need to put goons on the ice to maintain a sense of team toughness. Leafs fans have puzzled over some of his lineup decisions this season, but there’s no denying the results. Sure, it’s a short season, but who cares? I’m just happy they’re in the postseason once again. I don’t have high hopes, but it’ll provide good experience for the Leafs’ young players and if they win a round, great.

It’s still unclear who Toronto will play in the first round, but I’m hoping it’s Montreal instead of Boston. The Leafs match up better against the smaller Canadiens as opposed to the Bruins, who seem to have their number. Not to mention a Toronto-Montreal matchup would be HUGE in my native land Canada, which hasn’t seen a Leafs-Habs matchup since 1979. Montreal was the dominant team in the NHL at that point, steamrolling their way that year to their third of four consecutive Cups. They swept the Leafs in four games rather easily. This year, I’d say the Leafs at least have a shot of beating Montreal, which is all I can ask for. It’d be great if they could take a round or two; I’m not so foolish to think the Leafs could go all the way (although I sure would love to be proven wrong). But their goalie, Reimer, has been heating up, so who knows? A hot goalie can make a big difference in the playoffs, when games are much tighter.

NHL playoff hockey is the best thing going in professional sports, in my opinion. I love to watch the playoffs no matter who’s playing, but it’ll be great to see my team actually in the postseason for the first time in so damn long. And if Toronto actually experiences some success, so much the better. After so many years of disappointment, my expectations being kept low but my fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 275: Picking Up the Pieces

Part 2 of my conversation with guest James Gralian about the post-lockout NHL. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Recorded via Skype
- NHL surprises this season include talented teams struggling: Detroit, Philly, Nashville, Tampa
- Philadelphia's long stretch of bad goaltending
- Gotta love Ilya Bryzgalov
- Toronto-Detroit will be in Winter Classic next year
- Chicago's been the best team in the league by far
- The long, strange journey of Ray Emery
- Jay: Making the case for the Leafs
- Pittsburgh messes with success, keeps winning
- Realignment kicks in next season
- Playoff hockey is the best
- James picks a team to root for when the Avs don't make it
- Jay: Just happy to see Leafs in playoffs
- Players rarely stay on same team for entire career
- Rooting for dirty teams
- NHL has come back strong from lockout
- Fighting in hockey at most levels
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
The Hush Now - Marathon Monday

Guided By Voices - Flunky Minnows
Iceage - Morals
Game Theory - Erica's Word

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Hush Now song is available for free download at Clicky Clicky.
The Guided By Voices song is on the album English Little League on GBV Records. Download the song for free at Stereogum.
The Iceage song is on the album You're Nothing on Matador. Download the song for free at MatadorRecords.com.
The Game Theory song is on the album The Big Shot Chronicles. In memory of late Game Theory frontman Scott Miller, you can find all the now out-of-print Game Theory albums available for free download at LoudFamily.
The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Through the Past Dorkily: Too Young to Fall in Love

Editor's note: Through the Past Dorkily is a recurring feature that looks back at the embarrassingly dorky diary I kept as a 16-year-old in 1984. After a week-and-a-half of business and crazy shit going on in the world, I'm back with another mega-post. 

Monday, April 9, 1984

Song of the day: Adult Education - Hall and Oates

Top 5 at Five
1. So You Ran - Orion the Hunter
2. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
3. Killer - Pat Travers
4. Against All Odds - Phil Collins
5. Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly) - Icicle Works

Started weight training today. What a joke! I couldn't even bench 60 pounds! How embarrassing! Shit!

I got an 84 for my BiSci grade. On that quiz in Algebra, I got a 99! I got 96 on my final grade.

Mom called guitar instructor and now we have guitar lessons on Fridays from 5:30 to 6:30.

- The (weak) Barbarian

Tuesday, April 10, 1984

Song of the day: So You Ran - Orion the Hunter

Top 5 at Five
1. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
2. So You Ran - Orion the Hunter
3. Sister Christian - Night Ranger
4. Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
5. Against All Odds - Phil Collins

Oh, I'm wicked sore.  Today we were doing squats. All I know is that I'm sore all over!

We saw a film called "Dream Makers." It had rock music in it, like the one we saw at Hanford last year. Only thing was, you couldn't (hardly) see the screen because light was shining in the gym through a massive window.

Madame wasn't here today; yaah!

- The Barbarian

Wednesday, April 11, 1984

Song of the day: Big City Nights - Scorpions

Top 5 at Five
1. So You Ran - Orion the Hunter
2. Too Young to Fall in Love - Motley Crue
3. Heaven - Bryan Adams
4. Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
5. Magic - The Cars

I got a couple of grades today. In Civics, I got an 84 and in French I got an 80. Pretty bad, huh?

I miss school because of the French/Spanish trip to Boston tomorrow. Now the Algebra test is moved to Monday, and Civics and Geometry tests are on Friday now.

Prom tickets went on sale today. They cost $35 a couple. I don't know what's going on with me. Right now, it doesn't look like I'll be going to the prom. I'll just have to wait and see. The prom is exactly one month away. And counting...

- The Barbarian

Thursday, April 12, 1984

Song of the day:  Between the Wheels - Rush

Top 5 at Five
1. So You Ran - Orion the Hunter
2. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
3. Leave It - Yes
4. Run Runaway - Slade
5. Violet and Blue - Stevie Nicks

WOW! What a day!!!!! When I got on the bus for Boston this morning, [a different cute girl than the one I had a crush on] sat in the seat in front of me. We started talking, and the subject drifted to the prom. Then I asked her to go with me! And she said yes! Yes! Yes!!! Zowie! We talked all the way to the show. She told a friend about us, and [friend's boyfriend] came up and congratulated me. [Other buddies] know, too. I told Jeremy before I got home. Tomorrow everybody will be talking about it. She invited me to go out for Chinese food with her and her parents tomorrow night, but I said no 'cause I had guitar lessons and I'd feel kinda uncomfortable about it. She understood! What a babe! About the 35 bucks, she offered to pay half, but I wouldn't let her. Later, I asked Mom and she said she'd give me the moolah. Awesome!

I also heard the new Rush song "Between the Wheels" today. It's excellent! Alex Lifeson cranks on it with a great solo, Geddy's vocals are great, his bass and keyboards are terrific and Neil Peart is excellent on drums! Mega song!

- The ecstatic Barbarian

(Oh yeah, the concert was alright.)

Friday, April 13, 1984

Song of the day: Distant Early Warning - Rush

Top 5 at Five
1. Between the Wheels - RUSH!!
2. So You Ran - Orion the Hunter
3. Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
4. Heaven - Bryan Adams
5. Heartbeat City - The Cars

Weird day, man. [Teacher] was at her mother's funeral, so we had [different teacher] in Civics. She laid down the law, and the class was surprisingly quiet! I got [prom date]'s phone number and I gave her mine. Then we went to Geometry, where [teacher] was gone. It musta been Teacher Skip Day! We just did some worksheets. In Bi Sci, we did some brain stuff. In Algebra, weird stuff went down. First I went to put my homework in the filing cabinet, which we never do. Then I got moved up two desks, right beside [prom date]! I'm gonna sit there from now on! At lunch, I sat with her and [my buddies] were raggin' on me. I don't care!

I got my report card after school, It was bad. I got an 88 in Geometry and 83 in Prep for College. No comment!

I called [prom date] after school. We talked for around 10 minutes and then Mom came home so I said I'd call her back tomorrow. God, she's awesome!

I drove at night today. I did alright.

[A buddy] asked [girl] to the prom. She said maybe. Ha!

I've been thinking about [prom date] all day. I think this could be it! Wow!

- The Barbarian

Saturday, April 14, 1984

Song of the day: Wild Horses - The Rolling Stones

RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S BIRTHDAY

Hmm. I watched the Rock Palace last night. They had Ozzy live for 3 songs, Sammy Hagar and Ratt. Pretty good. I didn't get to sleep until 2:30.

Woke up at 10 this morning. Went to the library to get that book for College Prep. They didn't have it but they ordered it for me.

After Mom went to work, I called [prom date]. We talked for around an hour. She is great! We would've kept on talking if her mom didn't tell her to get off the phone. Boy, I can't wait till Monday!! I'm thinkin' about her all the time. [Her ex] was stupid ever to break up with her! She's the best thing to happen to me since I can remember! Wow! 

- The (kicked in the butt by love) Barbarian

Sunday, April 15, 1984

Song of the day: Show Me - The Pretenders

Not much doing today. We went to church for Palm Sunday. Then I was busy washing the clothes all day.

[Prom date]. She's on my mind all day. I can't wait till tomorrow! I wish I could be with her all the time!

It was weird. Ever since me and [prom date] started going together, I've been hearing a wicked lot of Stones songs on the radio! This weekend I heard 2 album sides, 4 blocks, around 25 songs all together. Twilight Zone, eh?

Catch you later. Monday's almost here. Boy, is she something else or what?

- The (mesmerized) Barbarian

Monday, April 16, 1984

Song of the day: Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Stones

Top 5 at Five
1. Between the Wheels - Rush
2. Run Runaway - Slade
3. Strung Out - Steve Perry
4. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll - Judas Priest
5. Don't Leave Me This Way - The Ravyns

Man! First lemme get some stuff out of the way. I took a Geometry quiz and an Algebra test today, both of which I think I did good on.

I bought the prom tickets today. More importantly, I talked to [prom date] twice on the phone! First I called her at 5:30 and we talked about general stuff till 6. Then I didn't go to do lessons and I called her again at 8:30. This was the good one! We talked about going to see "Police Academy" this weekend. She told me that she started liking me that day that we had to retake an Algebra quiz. We walked to the store together that day. She said she really likes me a lot and so do her friends. I told her I was thinking about her all the time.

This looks like the beginning of a beautiful relationship!!!!

- The (lovesick) Barbarian

Tuesday, April 17, 1984

Song of the day: Red Sector A - Rush

Top 5 at Five
Sorry, dude. I missed the mutha!

 Wow! What a day! I got a 97 on that Algebra test! Best in the class! [Girl] wasn't here, so I sat in her desk in Geometry, right up near [prom date/girlfriend]. I found out that her homeroom is right next door to mine, in [teacher]'s room. Zowie!

We talked 4 times on the phone today! I called her at 3 and we talked for 15 minutes, then for 30 minutes at 4, then 30 more at 5. That's why I missed the countdown. Then again at 8:30 for half an hour. I kept saying all this "romantical" stuff to her and she loved it! I meant every word of it. This is great!! She likes me a wicked lot! Things are going great!! I feel like I'm on Cloud Nine all the time!! Spring's here, and so is love! (Gimme a break, willya?)

- The (romantic) Barbarian

Wednesday, April 18, 1984

Song of the day: The Enemy Within - Rush

Top 5 at Five
1. So You Ran - Orion the Hunter
2. Don't Leave Me This Way - The Ravyns
3. Too Young to Fall in Love - Motley Crue
4. Sister Christian - Night Ranger
5. Murder - David Gilmour

Like WOW! Well, in school I got an 88 on that Geometry quiz and a 100 on a Civics quiz.

But more importantly, [girlfriend] invited me for either dinner or the movies on Saturday, we're not sure yet. And next Tuesday, she said I could go with her mom to pick her up from her grandmother's house. I said sure, but I said I had to ask Mom.

We talked twice on the phone, and the second time I told her that she was special. Man, is she ever!

[Girlfriend], you are awesome!

- The (head over heels) Barbarian

Thursday, April 19, 1984

Song of the day: Happy - The Rolling Stones

Top 5 at Five

1. Heaven - Bryan Adams
2. Too Young to Fall in Love - Motley Crue
3. Jump - Van Halen
4. Leave It - Yes
5. Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly) - Icicle Works

I got a 100 on the Geometry test today! Mom talked to [Bi Sci, Civics and French teachers] today. They all said I goofed off too much. No prob.

Well, it's dinner on Saturday night. And Dad said I could go then and on Tuesday, too!! [Girlfriend] said after we get back on Tuesday, we can play tennis with [another couple]. Sounds good to me!

I talked to her four times on the phone today. She's starting to compliment me as much as I compliment her! Wow! I have one hell of a girlfriend! Wow!!!

I can't wait until Saturday night!! Boy, I can't wait!!

- The (sore but still horny) Barbarian

Postscript: Well, holy crap. The young man's in love. Egad, I forgot how painfully dorky I was about this relationship, but I understand because she was literally my first girlfriend. That giddiness in a new relationship was always crack-like, but it burned too brightly to last (how's that for foreshadowing?).

Didn't remember that Ravyns song; had to look it up on YouTube. Pretty run of the mill AOR stuff :


 
No surprise that the Orion the Hunter song was big, because it featured some of the dudes from the band Boston, which by that point had gone about six years since its last album. And OTH sounded exactly like Boston, minus about 150 guitar tracks. The band's long forgotten now, though:



But here's a song that's still great. The Icicle Works were pretty much one-hit wonders, although they kept releasing music through the rest of the decade. I still dig it:

 

Straight to Hell

Needless to say, it's been a pretty messed up week in these parts.

Monday started off great, though. I headed to Wellesley with a group of fellow North Shore Striders to volunteer at the mile 12 water stop of the Boston Marathon. It was a blast. The day was beautiful, both for spectators and runners, with temps in the 50s and a mix of sun and clouds. I'd been on the other end of things, having run the race three times before and having watched it as a spectator, but this was a whole new vantage point for me. We got to mile 12 at 8 a.m. and set up our tables with Gatorade and water. I was at one of the last water tables on the left as runners made their way toward the halfway point.

We had fun with it, having a little competition with the table next to us to see who could hand out the most cups of water. We saw the wheelchair racers come through first, followed by the elite women and then a pack of elite men, who started at 10. Things got really busy around 11:30, when a steady stream of runners started coming through. We were very busy for the next 90 minutes, handing out cups. I started doing a carnival barker impression, yelling out water and cheering on runners who put their names or countries on their shirts. Most folks appreciated the shout-outs, and many runners thanked us for being out there. I was glad we weren't at the Gatorade table, because that stuff can get sticky. There was a lot of splash-back as runners grabbed cups on the run and occasionally spilled it on us. I never got totally soaked, though, and it wouldn't have been a big deal if I had.

After 1 p.m., most runners had gone through and we started to clean up the thousands of cups strewn on the ground. It went quickly and we were done by 1:30 as the last straggled made their way toward Boston. It was a tremendously rewarding day and I left feeling pretty great about life and how to live it. I got back to Beverly a little after 2:30, stopped to get an iced tea and was listening to sports talk radio as I drove to my house when I heard that there were explosions at the finish line of the marathon. The rest of the day and night was spent watching TV coverage of the horrific events that followed. Oh, and answering the barrage of phone calls, emails, texts and other messages from friends and relatives checking to see that I was okay.

The rest of the week has been a roller coaster of emotions, watching and reading about the innocent bystanders who were killed or maimed, taking heart in the actions of the first responders and civilians who helped during the incident, shaking my head at the journalistic clusterfuck that's unfolded as the misinformation flowed and innocent people were identified as the culprits (looking at you, New York Post), and then waking up to the insane manhunt that took place overnight, resulting in the death of one of the bombing suspects as well as an MIT campus cop. As I type this, Boston is in lockdown as authorities try to round up the last suspect, a 19-year-old Chechen who lives in Cambridge. Streets are deserted, all modes of transportation are shut down, and people are being told to stay in their homes. Absolutely nuts.

Then of course in the rush to judgment, plenty of media outlets (The Post, CNN, definitely others) and non-media types (folks on Reddit, 4Chan, Twitter, etc.) were quick to point the finger at brown-skinned folks as the bombers. There's definitely been a 9/11 feel to all this, albeit on a smaller scale but with much more focus given all the social media shit flying around. Even last night, before the FBI actually named the Chechen brothers as the suspects, plenty of people thought one of the suspects in the photos released late yesterday was an Indian kid who's been missing from Brown University. I stopped by a convenience store this morning and had a quick aside with the Indian woman who worked there that I was glad the Indian kid wasn't one of the bombers and she agreed. Sure enough, the night of the bombings a Bangladeshi guy was beaten in NYC because he was "an Arab." Ugh.

So as we await the outcome of this insanity, I'm sure things will be a little on edge for a while. All we can do is keep going. And keep running. Oh, and whatever their motivations, the bombers can go fuck themselves.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 274: Business as Usual

Part 1 of my conversation with guest James Gralian about the post-lockout NHL. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").


Show notes:
- Recorded last weekend via Skype
- Last spoke in October before NHL lockout began
- Season relaunched in mid-January and is wrapping up in next few weeks
- Definitely some bitterness when the NHL came back
- James' many online efforts include The Avs Hockey Podcast and Jerseys and Hockey Love
- JG: Playing hockey has deepened my appreciation for the sport
- NHL teams sign plenty of undrafted college players
- Georges Vezina was known as the Chicoutimi Cucumber
- Jack Falla wrote some great hockey books
- JK: I was mad at both sides after the lockout
- Ended up getting satellite package and following the Leafs anyway
- Greed is a given in pro sports
- The Leafs fired their GM right before season started
- Now they're on the verge of making playoffs for first time in 9 years
- JK remembers the Leafs' 1993 playoff run
- JK: Not a fan of the shootout
- Rough year for James' favorite team, Colorado
- JG: The Avs need to clean house
- To be continued
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
Beck - Halo of Gold

Buffalo Tom - Mineral
Dinosaur Jr. - Freak Scene
Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus Forever

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Beck song is the B-side to the single "Tropicalia" from the album Mutations. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Buffalo Tom song is on the album Let Me Come Over on Beggars Banquet. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Dinosaur Jr. song is on the album Bug on SST. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Titus Andronicus song is on the album The Monitor on XL Recordings. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. 
Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian; check out his blog PodGeek.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Which Way to America?

Shortly after I arrived at the Paradise last Friday for the sold-out Living Colour show, I did a quick "check in" on Facebook and one of my friends lamented about how the mighty had fallen, since the band had opened for the Rolling Stones in football stadiums back in '89. I didn't argue the point then, but I will now: Literally hundreds of bands have opened for the Stones over the last 50 years, but that didn't make them mighty. I'd say Living Colour's peak in popularity was in that period of 1988-1991, when they were regularly on the radio and TV with their first two albums, but they were never a huge act. The band was unfairly pegged as a black hard rock band because of the massive success of "Cult of Personality" from their 1988 debut Vivid, but if you listen to any of their releases, you'd know that they never felt the need to confine themselves to one genre. You could find plenty of heavy rock and mind-blowing guitar solos, but they also were adept at working funk, hip hop, jazz, soul, reggae and anything else they damn well felt like into the mix.

The band split up in '95 and reformed five years later, releasing two decent albums, but stayed pretty low-key until embarking on their current tour marking the 25th anniversary of Vivid. I caught them twice on the Time's Up tour in 1990 and then again in '93 at the Orpheum on the Stain tour, so I jumped on the chance to see them at a small venue like the 'Dise. The club was full of folks who were getting their early '90s rock fix, including the dude in an Elvis wig and shades hoping the band would play "Elvis is Dead" (they didn't).

Certainly the band's look was different this time around: If you remember frontman Corey Glover for the long dreads and Body Glove wetsuit he used to wear in the early days of the band, you wouldn't recognize him now, sporting a vest, tie over a dress shirt and a cap over short gray hair. (Late in the show, he remarked, "I know who we look like...Mumford and Sons," noting that guitarist Vernon Reid and bassist Doug Wimbish were similarly attired. Wimbish retorted: "More like Sanford and Son.") But if you closed your eyes, Glover hit every note he did back in the day, and Reid was still ripping lightning fast leads like it was nothing. Wimbish, the band's second bassist (Muzz Skillings played on the first two records), is a monster on the four-string and drummer Will Calhoun, who attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, still hits as hard as he ever did.


The band started off with a slow-burning cover of Robert Johnson's "Preachin' Blues" before launching into "Cult of Personality," their biggest song (which in recent years was introduced to a new generation of fans courtesy of the WWE's CM Punk, who uses it as his entrance song. As a matter, a few nights after this show, the band played the song live at Wrestlemania 29). Working their way through the rest of their debut, Living Colour showcased its diversity of sound: "I Want to Know" was a pure pop, "Middle Man" and "Desperate People" were heavy rockers (featuring some ridiculously awesome Reid solos), and Glover launched into a terrific take on "Amazing Grace" before going into the soulful, angry "Open Letter (to a Landlord)."

Flavor Flav and Chuck D weren't around to reprise their cameos on "Funny Vibe," but the song resonated nonetheless. The band's cover of Talking Heads' "Memories Can't Wait" was a scorcher, before the mellower vibe of "Broken Hearts" and the poppy "Glamour Boys." The set closed with the call-and-response of "What's Your Favorite Color? (Theme Song)" and "Which Way to America?" The band left the stage except for Calhoun, who used the intervening five minutes before the encore to play a drum solo.

For the second set, the band paid tribute to the 20th anniversary of its album Stain, which compared to its predecessors was darker and angrier sounding, with three songs: "Bi," "Ignorance is Bliss" and "Leave It Alone." (The album was lost amid the Seattle grungesplosion in '93, but it featured industrial sounds that were probably ahead of the curve a bit for its audience.) The night ended with two from 1990's Time's Up, the sardonic "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" and the thrashy title track, on which Reid and Wimbish galloped through breakneck time changes, before closing with a take on James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine."

Feeling the love from the audience, the band members spent about five minutes on stage, shaking hands and sharing thanks. Living Colour may be past its prime in terms of popularity, but there's no denying the band can still deliver the goods.


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 273: Hang On to Your Ego

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Matt Phillion about our narcissistic society. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").


Show notes:
- Anybody can have a show or self-publish a book
- Everybody's a photojournalist now
- Online commenters are the worst
- Talk radio callers are moving online
- Onion AV Club comment sections can be great
- Matt: Arguing on the Internet makes everyone dumber
- So easy to hit "send"
- Begging for RTs from celebs on Twitter is pathetic
- The ridiculousness of Google Glass
- How much information do you really need?
- Can you watch a movie or TV show without checking your phone?
- Staying off social media to avoid spoilers
- The need to live tweet TV shows
- The moviegoing experience sucks
- Matt can go entire days without dealing with a live human
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
Thee Oh Sees - Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster

Fidlar - Gimme Something
The Kills - Future Starts Slow
Drive Like Jehu - Caress

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Thee Oh Sees song is on the album Floating Coffin on Castle Face Records. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Fidlar song is on the band's self-titled album on Mom + Pop. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Kills song is on the album Blood Pressures on Domino Records. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Drive Like Jehu song is on the band's self-titled album on Cargo. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Through the Past Dorkily: Out of My Hands

Editor's note: Through the Past Dorkily is a recurring feature that looks back at the embarrassingly dorky diary I kept as a 16-year-old in 1984.


Friday, March 30, 1984

Song of the day: Red Barchetta - Rush


Top 5 at Five
1. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
2. The Sultans of Swing (live) - Dire Straits
3. I'll Wait - Van Halen
4. Heaven - Bryan Adams
5. Violet and Blue - Stevie Nicks

I got up at 5:30 but we still had no power. I went back to bed. I got up again and it was so cold in the house that you could blow smoke! Then at 11:45 a.m., the power came on. I quickly took a shower and shave and I tried to get in touch with Jeremy about [his girlfriend's] place tonight. I couldn't get ahold of him.


Then Mom and me tried to go shopping and got stuck in a snow bank on our driveway. We had to take Dad's car and when we got back, the car was still stuck. Then me and Dad had to push the car back onto the driveway. Phew!


I called Jeremy about a zillion times but I couldn't get him. So it turns out I was stuck at home. I'm pissed! Maybe I can see [Jeremy's girlfriend's friend] tomorrow night. We'll see.


- The Barbarian


Saturday, March 31, 1984

Song of the day: I Think I'm Going Bald - Rush


Pretty uneventful day. Cathy decided to move our music lessons to Mondays, 4:30-5:30. She said she needed a day off. Hey, I can dig it.


After guitar lessons, I shoveled the top of the driveway so Mom won't get stuck anymore. I called Jeremy and got through. He said he tried to call me but he only got home at 9 last night. He said his girlfriend didn't want to get together on Friday. Her friend agreed to next weekend and so did I.


It was a nice day, weather-wise. I retaped "Caress of Steel" and "2112."


- The Barbarian


Monday, April 2, 1984

Song of the day: Violet and Blue - Stevie Nicks


Top 5 at Five
1. Against All Odds - Phil Collins
2. I'll Wait - Van Halen
3. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
4. Heaven - Bryan Adams
5. Killer - Pat Travers

Yer typical Monday. The day started off OK. On the Rock Report [on WAAF], Lippy said Rush's new album, "Grace Under Pressure" is so guitar-heavy that it's being called "Alex Lifeson's Revenge"!! Awesome! It's gonna kick butt!


Some lousy grades at school today: 58 on a Civics test, 80 on a Geometry quiz, 72 on that French thingie. I did get a 629 on a Verbal control test in College Prep.


At dog lessons, I met [a buddy] who had his dog there. [Classmate's] sister was there (she's a babe, too) and [a buddy's] mom was there.


Georgetown won the NCAA championship, 84-75 over Houston.


- The Barbarian


Tuesday, April 3, 1984

Song of the day: Too Young to Fall in Love - Motley Crue


Top 5 at Five
1. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
2. Heaven - Bryan Adams
3. Jump - Van Halen
4. Against All Odds - Phil Collins
5. Violet and Blue - Stevie Nicks

Today was a total bummer. I just woke up feeling bummed out. In College Prep, [teacher] nailed me [and two classmates] for copying homework. Ugh. And that asshole who keeps insulting me with racial slurs met in the can today. Stupid dick! That guy needs to get his butt kicked!

Just a total loser of a day. I feel lousy. And I don't even know why.

- The Barbarian

Wednesday, April 4, 1984

 Song of the day: Vital Signs - Rush

Top 5 at Five 
1. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
2. Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
3. Out of My Hands - Face to Face
4. Magic - The Cars
5. Murder - David Gilmour

Now that's more like it. A semi-normal day. It didn't start off that way, though. This morning  I didn't eat breakfast until 6:40 because I hadda take Sammy out. As a result, I was in a hurry and forgot my wallet, keys and lunch money. Good, huh?

At school we saw this Shakespearean actor named Duncan Inches (no lie). We had an assembly from 8-9 while he did Shakespeare stuff. He had these tights on that were a laugh and a half, but he was pretty good. Later on, he was talking to our Prep for College class and Media class. He started by asking us what we wanted to talk about and I said, "Sex!" That got some laughs! He was pretty cool.

- The Barbarian

Thursday, April 5, 1984

Song of the day: Poor Tom - Led Zeppelin

Top 5 at Five
1. Oh Sherri - Steve Perry
2. Magic - The Cars
3. Heaven - Bryan Adams
4. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll - Judas Priest
5. Up the Creek - Cheap Trick

Today was alright. The weather sucked (it rained all day), though. [Teacher] wasn't there so that alone made my day. On the Geometry quiz, I did wicked good. All in all, a pretty good day.

Jeremy said [girlfriend's friend] wanted to talk to me but only if he and [girlfriend] were there. You explain it to me. Anyhoo, he said he'd try and see if she wanted to go to the movies this weekend. Hope she says yes.

- The Barbarian

Friday, April 6, 1984

Song of the day: Communication Breakdown - Led Zeppelin

Today was bearable. I got a 100 on that Geometry quiz, like I thought. The Algebra quiz was easy, too. I start Weight Training on Monday.

[Jeremy's girlfriend's friend] couldn't go to the movies tonight. Damn!

I went to Jeremy's house after school and watched part of "Trading Places." I had to go home at 4 because I decided to go with JP and his bozo friends to see "Splash." "Splash" was awesome! John Candy was hilarious! All around a great movie!

Those kids are driving me nuts! JP is ultra-hyper and he's got a voice like a friggin' bullhorn!

- The Barbarian

Saturday, April 7, 1984

Song of the day: Dirty Movies - Van Halen

Today wasn't so hot. I fell asleep during "Friday Night Videos" and woke up at 5 this morning with my TV still on! I went back to sleep and got up around 10. Mom got me a money order for $10.48 for Guitar magazine. We went to the dump, then Salem and got back around 2. I think Jeremy called while I was gone. I called him when I got back, but he wasn't home (as usual).

The Bruins got eliminated by Montreal tonight. So did Buffalo, Philly and Winnipeg.

- The Barbarian

Postscript: Lots of stuff to comment on here. Let's get the racism thing on the table right off the bat. This guy was a senior, a pretty big dude who for some reason right off the bat when I arrived at this school decided he would pick on me by calling me a "nigger." Of course, he only did it when we were the only ones around, like in the bathroom in this instance. The funniest part was the moron couldn't even get his racial slurs straight. I was a tiny pipsqueak so I just never said anything back because I didn't want to get my ass kicked. But he was the only kid who ever said anything like that to me pretty much the entire time I've lived in the U.S. Well, to my face, anyway.

This whole thing with Jeremy's girlfriend's friend was simultaneously tantalizing and annoying. It didn't help that we went to different schools so I never actually saw her on a regular basis. And apparently I didn't think to get her phone number. So all communication took place with go-betweens.

The Shakespearean actor is still making those types of appearances. I'll give him credit for helping foster my interest in Shakespeare. I've always dug those plays.

I used to watch "Friday Night Videos," which took the Friday night spot on NBC after the network bumped SCTV in 1983. We still didn't get MTV in our town at this point, so this was one way to see music videos. Of course, it was on at 12:30 a.m., so often I fell asleep in the middle of the 90-minute show. I remember having a fever dream about weird dwarves and people dancing and then realized it was Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" video, which I was watching while drifting in and out of sleep. I never realized that the show continued until 2002; I probably stopped watching it when I went to college. And then we got MTV, which to me made this show irrelevant.

 
 
 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 272: I Me Mine

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Matt Phillion about our narcissistic society. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Narcissism is on the rise
- Recent study looks at the Internet "narcissism epidemic"
- We are part of the problem
- We're more likely to take photos of injustice than actually help out
- Matt works from home, posts on Facebook to get social interaction
- Some people need to post status updates of their every move
- Gay marriage debate has been ubiquitous on social media
- Linked In endorsements: What's the point?
- Matt's creepy clown photo
- Creating a false impression through upbeat self-promotion
- Selfies are everywhere
- People will do anything to get on TV
- Reality TV has never been more popular
- MySpace was a mess
- Googling yourself is a common activity
- Matt's IMDB page
- To be continued
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
JEFF the Brotherhood - Shredder

Le Butcherettes - Henry Don't Got Love
Sleater-Kinney - Jumpers
Ty Segall - You're the Doctor

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The JEFF the Brotherhood song is on the album We Are the Champions on Infinity Cat Recordings/Warner Music. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Le Butcherettes song is on the album Sin Sin Sin on Rodriguez Lopez Productions. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Sleater-Kinney song is on the album The Woods on Sub Pop. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The Ty Segall song is on the album Twins on Drag City. Download the song for free at Epitonic.
The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.