1.07.2009

It's been such a long time...

A lot has changed since my last post, some for the better, some not.

I have no idea if I will post to this blog again, as I consider this part of me to be all but dead. I just can't summon the rabid anger so easily anymore. Maybe I'm getting old, but I feel less like a raging rocker and more like Andy Rooney in a leather jacket these days.

I have another blog elsewhere, but I want it to be a clean start, so message me for the details.

---END OF LINE---

"I am sorry, but all questions must be submitted in writing."

8.16.2007

Harry Potter (or, The Media needs to back the fuck off, part I)

I have an idea for a new series of pieces about a big topic- The Media needs to back the fuck off.

No, not the so-called "Liberal Media" or the misnamed "Conservative Media," because let's face it- The Media is about money, pure and simple.  Nor is this restricted to the news media- this is everything.  The Media (I use it like a proper name to distinguish the large industry from those little indie film makers who dream about being the next Kevin Smith, or genuinely talented artists and musicians just trying to get a break) needs to back the fuck off.

This idea came when I was reading a private message board and responding to a topic about "What do we do now that there are no more Harry Potter books?"

My first response inside was "Um, be grateful that J.K. Rowling can afford to feed her kids now, and then some, and hope that they are grateful for their mom's labors?"

But that's not what I posted.

Here's my response, which quickly got off on a rant (to borrow a line from Dennis Miller: The Funny Years.  Come back to us, Dennis.  We miss the funny, insightful guy who skewered everyone regardless of political or media affiliation.  Your kids are 10,000 times more likely to die in a car accident than to ever be the victim of a terrorist attack, especially if they don't go to some hotbed country like Iraq or Israel).

Not me. Are [my girlfriend] and I the only people with geek tendencies that don't care about Harry Potter? I don't have a problem with anyone else liking it. The books just don't have that much appeal to me. I have a feeling I would like them a lot if I read them, but I think the runaway success and spikes of hype around the new book releases are what turned me off to the series. Of course, I don't play Madden on my videogame systems (and people who spend most of their gaming time playing Madden or a basketball game are not "hardcore gamers." I don't give a damn what they say- those assholes were the same ones calling us real old-school gamers "nerds" in school). I hate 99% of the crap that mainstream radio plays (I can think of maybe 3 new releases I have heard on the radio in the past year, from bands I didn't already know, that I actually like). Most TV is banal, retread dreck. Even a lot of the films coming out annoy me just from their existence- did we really need Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector? "So you like indie music?" is what I hear when I tell people I hate Top 40 radio. No, because instead of insulting my intelligence by repackaging old songs and overproducing the crap out of them, they insult my intelligence by creating such obtuse shit that no one has a clue whether it is serious or not, then mocking the people who don't "get it." No, I get it, Mr. Indie Guy- you suck, so you try too hard to be "eclectic" and pass off your lousy songs as too "complicated" to be understood by "philistines." People wonder why I like anime and cartoons- it's because animation is one of the few mediums where experimentation and daring concepts are actually encouraged. Even in those fields, there are still formulaic shows designed to sell merch (Dragonball Z, Inuyasha, and Naruto come to mind, even those Inuyasha is by the creator of Ranma 1/2, which is quite good.).
Sorry, Lar, I watch anime and cartoons.  Hope I haven't lost your respect- only about 1% of it is hentai (adult), and I don't think my girlfriend would like that, even if I was interested in ecchi.  Moving on....
Were the older days about "making money by creating art" as opposed to "creating art by making money," or were they just better at hiding it back then? I have become an art curmudgeon- I am so used to the entertainment business trying to shove garbage into my hands, eyes, ears, and even mouth (thank you fast food and tie-in cereals and sodas). Sorry to jack your thread. The short version is this: The Harry Potter books may very well be worth the hype, but I will at least have to wait until the mania has died down. When I can quietly pick up copies and read them without being harassed from all angles by precocious kids, obnoxious parents, idiot fanboys, and (most importantly) media hype, maybe then I will give them a shot. Then, free from people all around me attempting to influence my decision, I can judge the book on its own merits. If it is truly good writing, it deserves my full attention.
Keep in mind that the other members of this forum are net-friends and my girlfriend, so I didn't want to be too acidic.  And who knows, maybe these books are as good as everyone says and it's not just media hype.

I guess I'm going to try to reason it out here. I think it best to start with Part I (since only coders and comic books start with zero), and since a book inspired this, it should be about books.

I will probably end up having to research the New York Times' Best-Seller List at some point. Let's face it, what is one of the biggest accolades a book can get now? No, not all of those medals and awards from peers and industry experts, and not People's Choice awards, but getting on this best-seller list. Being able to put that on your book probably guarantees at least a second printing (unless the book was ridiculously overprinted to start), and it will likely make back the printing costs before it ends up at those half-price book stores that are popping up. Yes, I will have to research it and find out exactly why this list is the big one that guarantees more sales, like an Oscar, Emmy, or Grammy (though it isn't the only one- I will get to that later).

I don't feel like doing research right now. I just want to rant, even if it means being uninformed for the short run.

The reason I won't read the Harry Potter books ever, or at least, not for a while, is because of the ridiculous amount of coverage they are getting, and how stupid people can be when they latch onto something like a full-on fanboy remora, sucking out some semblance of meaning in their otherwise worthless lives. This is something I have been thinking about lately too- sure, I make enough money to pay all of my bills, and I am not in a ridiculous amount of debt, but my job is not that fulfilling. I have been thinking about trying to get a job at a non-profit. Even if it's not my dream job, knowing I am helping a good cause wouldn't hurt. Right now I work at a company that is reaping the benefits of our complicated, greedy, profit-driven medical industry. It's not a bad place to be, but is this really what I want to do with the rest of my life?

Back to the point. First off, as much of a freak as I am, I am nowhere near as bad as these hardcore fanboys, if for no other reason than my weirdness is spread out over several areas (how many video game junkie/beer nerd/anime geek/computer geek/metal freak/aspiring cheese snobs do you know?). Fanboys can sometimes be helpful- well, actually no, because people truly knowledgeable about a genre (as opposed to one series) are not really fanboys. Even if someone is, say, a science fiction geek, he/she will likely have read at least a dozen different authors' works. Fanboys only tend to read 4 or 5 at most in the book realm. Comic books are different because some are artist fanboys (who will buy anything drawn by their favorite artist), others are writer fanboys, and some are more loyal to individual characters or titles.

Anyway, fanboys will look you over if you're in the store and either eagerly attempt to sell you on the book in question, or scoff at you for just getting into it now. This is analagous to those idiot band fans who scoff at anyone just discovering their favorite band. There's a difference between this (using The Cult as an example):

"Yeah, you can start with Sonic Temple- it's pretty good, and easier to get into if you don't know a lot of the band's work, but you should also check out Love, Electric, and the self titled album, because those are even better."

and this:

"What, you're buying Ceremony? Are you an idiot or just a poseur? That's their worst album, and no real fan would buy it. Where have you been? I liked these guys back when they were the Southern Death Cult and, like, nobody in the States even knew who the fuck they were, man."

Which one is going to convince a potential new fan to stick around? In every instance outside the indie rock community, the former will work better. Sometimes I think the counterculture snobs in the indie rock scene do better with the second version. Because the scenesters are sheep, just like those who mindlessly follow pop music. The counterculture types are just a heartier breed of sheep- they have to be, because they have to work harder to know what bands their clique(s) approve and disapprove (instead of being led by Top 40 charts and radio rotation).

For the record, Ceremony may not be The Cult's greatest album, but it still has some good songs on it (and it is still better than a lot of the schlock released around that time).

So that's two factors that might sway a person's opinion- fanboys and best-seller lists. If the book is something the most powerful woman in media (hint: her name starts with "O") enjoys, and she says so in public, that pretty much guarantees at least 2 million sold, even if the book is utter tripe. Let's be honest, a publisher could take a Dick and Jane book, put a new cover on it, and have Oprah shill for it and they'd sell a million of them, easily. Double that if she says "it's a great book for the kids." Fuck, if she was willing to do it, she could make a racist book like Little Black Sambo into a best-seller if she talked it up for 5 minutes on her show. How much power is that?

Fuck the so-called pundits like O'Reilly, Hannity, that filthwhore Coulter, the wannabe filthwhore Michelle Malkin, Limbaugh, and Al Franken....who cares what they think? Get Oprah to like you and you've got something. If I ever write a book, all I need to do is make sure Oprah likes it, and I'll be rich. Then I can write the book I really want to write while a hired accountant counts my money.

As an aside, to any woman out there that is one of Oprah's gyno-soldiers, grow a spine. I'm not saying that you can't watch her, or even buy a couple of things she has endorsed, but find at least 5 things/people/places that she raves about and refuse to like them. Have you own fucking opinion for once. You can watch the woman and even like her show, but stop buying everything she gives the thumbs-up for once. Baaaaa.

Then there's the 800-lb. gorilla in this whole mess (yes, even bigger in influence than Oprah). The advertising agencies, and more importantly, the money they get. When the last book was about to be released, I couldn't get away from Harry Potter short of a one-way flight to Chechnya. Everywhere I went with anything printed on dead trees, I saw a headline or tagline about Harry Potter. On TV, news stories about the potential for people to camp out waiting for midnight so they could buy the book (don't bookstores do preorders like video games or DVDs?). In the theater, trailers for the upcoming movie (based on the last book that every other child in America has already read). On the radio, drive-time DJs making snarky remarks about the "nerds" reading the book- wow, picking on geeks, how original. At least pick on why they can't just wait until the next day or the weekend for the book. Don't lump everyone who isn't a fratboy goon squad member like your listeners (not you- everyone knows you're a geek too, you fucking liar) into one group for your mockery.

There are plenty of sane, rational people who happen to like these books that don't dress in costumes or insist on waiting for hours and hours in line just to be the first to read the book.  Meanwhile, as the nerds wait in line, you and your buddies go drink and fecklessly try to get laid with some equally drunken skanks.  Because hey, that is so much cooler.

Unlike most nerds, some geeks and a few freaks, I stand a good chance of kicking your ass, so shut the fuck up if you can't come up with good material, you worthless shit-spewing monkeyfuck. I used to be a DJ part time, and most of them aren't exactly what you call healthy- the one DJ I knew who could definitely fuck me up was a Desert Storm vet, and he doesn't make fun of geeks because he has bigger, more obnoxious targets to flash-fry.

Then there was the stupid stunt where those assholes went around with a megaphone spoiling the book for all of the people in line. Hey guys, congrats on your 15 minutes, but I have news for you- the only thing lamer than people who stand in line waiting for midnight to buy the hot new book (or anything else, for that matter) are people who go out of their way just to make fun of them. These people are already either losers, incredibly bored, or without joy in their lives (or all of the above). Instead of taking up a challenge and mocking the mainstream cool kids for their ridiculous social standards of what is beautiful, popular, "cool," masculine, and feminine, you pick on easy targets. You're even worse than those drive-time DJs that suck balls, because no matter how lousy they are, at least they are getting paid for it.

So I basically had to turn everything off, and even then, just passing by a newspaper box would expose me to more insinuated sales pitches. I know about the series, OK? I am not going to give in to a flood of ads and buy the book from the sheer weight of the marketing juggernaut. As I have already mentioned (more or less), this turns me off to things like this. I tend to prefer ad campaigns that offer just enough info to make you curious.

Some stores even carried a book that claimed to have the most likely predictions of what the real book was going to be like. A fucking rumor mill in book form. For sale, not just on the Intermuhnets. I wonder how much those books cost now. More importantly, I wonder how many trees died to produce those wastes of paper. I'm not a hippie or anything, but the thought of thousands of trees being cut down to supply paper for something so worthless makes me want to cry right next to that Italian guy who wanted to be an American Indian in the famous anti-litter campaign from the late 70's. Even a tic-tac-toe strategy guide would have more merit in print than this thing.

There's a question for everyone- what happens to all of the stupid campaign t-shirts once the election is over? Nobody wears 'em after that, do they? For another time, I suppose.

Even just a trip to the grocery store yields Harry Potter greeting cards, paper plates/napkins/party supplies, candy, cereal, fruit snacks, and toys. I suspect that even a trip to the fucking park would end up with some stupid parents yammering on about Harry Potter this and that.

People wonder where backlash comes from- this is it. It just dogpiles, adding pound after bonecrushing pound, until you do one of two things:

1) You cave in. You buy the book, and some fruit snacks for the kids, and promise them a Harry Potter birthday party (which they might not even want by the time the birthday rolls around), get them all of the DVDs, and promise to take them to any and all of the movies. 2) In an act of desperation, you do the psychological equivalent of punching people in the nuts and clawing your way out from under the fat pile of oversell. In other words, you refuse to read it, immediately react in disgust, and look with contempt and even a bit of hatred at anyone who mentions....that name, that damnable name again.

So no, I have not read the Harry Potter books. No, I will probably not read them, at least not unless and until I have kids of my own and there's no more hype machine surrounding them. Even then, I am going to do my best to make sure they aren't exposed to the greedy junk surrounding what might be a good book, if these people are right.

On the other hand, I can't blame a single housemother who has had it rough in the past wanting to make a ton of money. It's not like Lucasfilm was with the prequel trilogy. Lucas and company were already filthy rich; it's as though they blow tons of money on the movies just to have an excuse for all the merchandised product. It's certainly hard to make money off ticket sales alone when the budget is ridiculously huge. I think even Harry Potter managed to avoid having his name put on potato chips and sodas.

At least it encourages literacy.  That can't be all bad.

Part II will come....sometime. Don't know which medium I will skewer next, though I kinda touched on all of them here, didn't I?

---END OF LINE---

"I am sorry, but all questions must be submitted in writing."

6.28.2007

Surprise, You're Dead.

I need to issue a thank you letter to someone who will likely never answer me.

  • Thank you, for cutting three lives short, including your own.
  • Thank you, for taking what was once a great legacy, a career to be proud of, and pissing all over it.
  • Thank you, for taking the dreams of all those young kids who idolized you and wanted to follow in your footsteps, and crushing them under your heel.
  • Thank you, for tainting what was until recently a stellar career, and tainting the careers of anyone who has worked with you by association.
  • Thank you for dividing your fans into apologists and inquisitors.
  • Thank you for not having the decency to retire early, if your business life was too much of a strain, and instead choosing to take it out on two other people and yourself.
  • Thank you again for betraying your family, friends, the memory and legacy of your mentor, and your fans.
  • Thank you for proving that anyone who has enough spotlight is not suitable as a role model, no matter how things may appear on the surface.
  • And lastly, thank you for proving me and my cynical worldview right. Again. Here I was, thinking that in a business full of snakes and slimebags with massive egos, that you were a light in the darkness, someone that put aside office politics and masturbating one's ego to just go out there and do what he does best to the best of his ability. You were above all that crap, or so I thought. You were the one the fans could rely on to put in 110% every time, no matter what. Looks like you fooled us all.

For all these things, I say, with a tanker truck full of venom, bile, and sarcasm, thank you, Chris Benoit. Perhaps you can answer me when I see you in hell.

---END OF LINE---

"I am sorry, but all questions must be submitted in writing."

5.03.2007

CD mixin'

I participated in a CD-mix project recently. OK, so I wasn't fully participating, but I did send a couple of people a mix CD. I wrote liner notes that I think turned out halfway decent. Post-mail-um notes are in red

The Contents of this CD:

  1. Prong - Another Worldly Device
  2. Anthrax - Nobody Knows Anything
  3. Ministry - N.W.O.
  4. White Zombie - Super-Charger Heaven
  5. Motorhead - Nothing Up My Sleeve
  6. The Wildhearts - Suckerpunch
  7. COC - In the Arms of God
  8. Queensryche - The Whisper
  9. The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
  10. Buckcherry - Dead Again
  11. Skin Yard - Undertow
  12. Nudeswirl - F-Sharp
  13. Alice In Chains - We Die Young
  14. Pride & Glory - Troubled Wine
  15. Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
  16. Front Line Assembly - Mindphaser
  17. Infectious Grooves - Monster Skank
  18. The Katies - Noggin' Poundin'
  19. Cake - Satan Is My Motor
Welcome to my first (and who knows, maybe not my last) Rock Primer. This is definitely a "taste disc" from the standpoint of being songs I happen to like. There is not a hard-and-fast, cohesive genre, and of course there are many tracks that I ended up leaving out.

(yes, I know at least one, if not a couple of songs don't really qualify as "rock." They are good anyway. Bite me.)

One thing these songs have in common is that they all convinced me that the artist was either worth checking out, or if I already knew them, worth more than a cassette single purchase (these kids and their iTunes and band websites...they don't know how lucky they have it- but I digress...).

A brief track-by-track rundown:

1) "Another Worldly Device" is one of the best opening tracks in the history of hard rock, period. This would be an awesome entrance theme for a wrestler or something. I use it as such in a wrestling game, actually. Now if we can only get a rasslin' game for the 360 that is neither horribly incomplete (Rumble Roses XX), cancelled indefinitely and not released outside of Japan (Wrestle Kingdom), nor a gimmick-laden PS2 game with better graphics and a stripped-down create-a-wrestler mode (Smackdown vs. Raw 2007)...

2) This is a track from Anthrax's 2004 release We've Come For You All. The drums are insane here. This album is proof that the band still has plenty of fuel in the tank. (And fuck anyone who says otherwise. Maybe John Bush does make them sound more like Armored Saint, but you could do a lot worse than that.)

3) Ahh, Ministry....industrial for metalheads. If not for this track, I would not have checked them out much. They did do "Every Day Is Halloween," after all (which has a spot waiting in my 80's collection, but that's another story). (Industrial purists who say Ministry sucks can also fuck off, by the way. I am not into Skinny Puppy- deal with it.)

4) Rob Zombie has a knack for writing bad-ass car songs. This is his best, edging out "Black Sunshine" by a nose because this one makes me want to drive faster. An evil grin creeps across my face and I grip the wheel a little bit tighter when I hear this one starting up. (I will agree with anyone who prefers White Zombie to Rob's solo work. C'mon, Rob, even if you don't do any more new material, would it kill you to do one reunion tour? Just one? Oh, and Sean Yseult can make me her bitch anytime.)

5) I think anyone who likes it loud should at least be familiar with a couple of Motorhead songs. They play raw, barely-polished rock that goes back and forth from proto-thrash to just plain bawdy rawk 'n' roll. I don't tend to trust anyone who says they are "metal" that doesn't know at least like ("like?" What the fuck, am I 12 years old again?) one Motorhead song. (If you don't even know "Ace of Spades," then you aren't metal for sure. If you don't know any other songs, then there's still a good chance you are a poseur.)

6) The Wildhearts are one of the most criminally overlooked groups in recent history. A fistful of punk attitude, tempered by bubblegum-y, pop anthem group vocals, catchy choruses, and wailing guitar solos. A fan on Amazon described them as "the Beatles meet the Sex Pistols." I heartily agree. These guys were doing pop-metal-punk fusion before it was cool....plus they are better than Green Day. (Even the most upbeat, poppy Wildhearts tune kicks more ass than what passes for "punk" on the radio these days, if not all current punk period.)

7) Corrosion of Conformity lost a chunk of fans when they ditched their somewhat unoriginal thrash sound for a sludgy, stomp-rock-from-the-pits-of-hell approach. Sucks to be them. This one is off their 2005 release of the same name. If you like loud, politically charged, gloom and doom- ah forget it. Just check the CD out. If you don't like it at least a little, then you probably don't like Sabbath, either. And if you don't like Sabbath, then you probably aren't metal. (What can I say? COC is badass. There's a new Down album coming out soon, too- if you don't know them, they are like a sludge metal all-star band, featuring Pepper Keenan of COC, Phil Anselmo of Pantera aka the only man in music that might be angrier than Glenn Danzig, and, of course, the Dude from Crowbar. I know his name is Kirk or something, but I like to think "Dude from Crowbar" sounds more iconic.)

8) Shifting gears to prog rock. Stop laughing- Queensryche is still damn good, even with the cheese-keys. They actually manage to not abuse them (a feat only rarely duplicated, like with Van Halen's 1984). The twin guitars that open this are amazing live. (I regret missing the Mindcrime/Mindcrime II back-to-back tour, because it will likely never happen again. Mindcrime II is not the classic that the first one was, but it is a damn fine album anyway.)

9) And now we get to a band that goths and I might have in common....if they don't suck. The Cult is not just "Fire Woman." They are ever shifting back and forth between the melancholy of the Cure and the raucousness of Bon Scott-era AC/DC, never quite crossing over either line. (Where the hell are these guys when we need them? Can someone please teach these emo and screamo brats that you can be moody and still rock?)

10) Buckcherry is fronted by a guy named Josh Todd, whom Sleazegrinder.com bills as "Axl Rose's Understudy." Imagine a band with the raw passion of Guns & Roses, but without Axl's bitchy attitude and a tighter sense of camaraderie. This is one of my favorites from the first album, which is a lost treasure. (I missed these guys with Black Stone Cherry recently. One band I have been wanting to see for 8 years, and the other is one of the few new bands to interest me in a long time.)

11) I know this band from the singer's next project, Gruntruck. Oddly enough, I discovered them thanks to Beavis and Butt-Head (and access to the record libe for my radio show in college). They are considered contemporaries of Soundgarden and Green River, which means they are on the more kick-ass side of grunge. People dog on grunge too much. There's still plenty of good stuff among the floor-watching junk. (There are plenty of hard rock and metal bands that donned oversize sweaters and stocking caps and passed themselves off as grunge. Lucky for us, because there was a lot of alternative from that era that sucked.)

12) ...which brings us to Nudeswirl. Released one album, about half of the songs are decent, and the other half are great. "F-Sharp" is proof that stoner rock can be experimental without being slow or boring. (These dudes have reunited a couple of times in recent years, but they never leave Boston or wherever the hell they are from.)

13) Most people over the age of about 16 or so know who Alice in Chains is. They were a stealth metal band. Listen to this song and tell me they belong with the mopey "alt-rock" cavalcade of the 90's. I dare ya. (The only grunge connection is the heroin references, which were a bit prophetic since an overdose killed Layne Staley.)

14) Pride and Glory was Zakk Wylde's first side project. He wanted to do something a bit different, something that paid homage to his influences that also kept his distinct guitar style. The band only lasted one album, and Zakk says he has no plans to record with the other two guys again because Black Label Society keeps him plenty busy. It's a shame, but they did leave us one good album (and there's plenty of P&G influence in BLS). Good foot-stompin', blues-tinged swamp rock. (If you are a Zakk Wylde fan- even if you just like the Ozzy albums he's been on, track this down already, damn it.)

15) Another abrupt gear change. Faith No More were the not-so-merry pranksters of the hard rock world. This was the song that proved to me they were more than just "Epic." Angel Dust is a better album than The Real Thing, too. Amazing how grim sounding bass, keys, and vocals can be. (I admit, I am an idiot for not checking out Mr. Bungle more, especially since I am a big fan of Mike Patton's vocals.)

16) And again, changing up. Front Line Assembly started as a purist industrial group. No real instruments- everything was synthed/sampled. The nerd in me thought that was kinda cool, so I borrowed an album from a hacker friend. This song is the one that sold me on them. This is a good group if you need to stay sinister but need a break from in-your-face metal. (A college buddy of mine hated the fact that they added guitars later on- I didn't think it was bad, and he did. Of course, he is an industrial purist and I am not, so there ya go.)

17) The Infectious Grooves were the Funkadelic to Suicidal Tendencies' Parliament. The Grooves were more rock-tinged funk, and Suicidal was funk-tinged post-punk. I knew who the hell Robert Trujillo was long before he joined Metallica. (As long as he is playing for Metallica, we probably won't see any new stuff from either the Grooves or Suicidal. It is sad to know that some kids out there playing Guitar Hero II still don't get the sarcasm in the song "Institutionalized." Stupid-ass kids...)

18) I have a soft spot for power pop....sometimes. Matthew Sweet, the Wildhearts' more mellow tunes, and these cats from Murfreesboro (about half an hour from Nashville). The Katies were a damn institution in the mid-90's, and they are back together now. Considering how a lot of bubblegum-y schlock bands are making big bucks, it's criminal that their one major label release didn't do much. (But hey, people are stupid. Proof of this is in the fact that people are buying this wanna-be teenybopper pop schlock Gwen Stefani's putting out. Kids, I'm almost 31 and she is at least 3 years older than me. She ain't no kid. I hate this new sell-out-my-band Gwen Stefani. What the hell happened to the pink-haired, angsty, just-about-to-get-really-pissed Gwen from the Return of Saturn days? I actually kinda liked where they went with that. Even the sappy ballad "Simple Kind of Life" had something real behind it. Then she decided to regress into early teenhood, but I digress. My dream Nashville 1991 rock card would be bill of The Katies, Valentine Saloon, and Royal Court of China. Power pop and sleaze rock, Nashville style. Fuck yeah. If you like power pop, you owe yourself this album.)

19) OK, this isn't metal, it's not hard rock, it's not even power pop. The guitar and bass have zero crunch and distortion on them. And the vocalist meanders like he's doing jazz improv on every song. But it does have "Satan" in the title, right? Cake is one of the few bands those perpetually ball-capped frat boy pricks (who are somehow luckier with the girls despite being total dumbasses) and I have in common. Jerry Garcia died years ago, Phish was never worth the time, Widespread Panic bores me...what the hell is with all the damned sucktastic hippie music anyway? At least the Dead were at the forefront of the thing and not borrowing from someone else. Sometimes I get in a very, very silly mood, but not so much that I want to listen to super-cheese from the 80's. Cake fills that gap nicely. Fun, distinct, and chicks seem to dig it at parties. (Cake are rock pranksters to be sure. Not as wink-wink-nudge-nudge as the Barenaked Ladies, and not as "wait, are they actually joking or not?" as that new Finger Eleven single. I love 'em. They make their songs the way they want, and you can tell they are having a good time playing them. They manage to capture a sense of "live" even in their studio work. Everyone needs to mellow out every once in a while.)

I hope you enjoy the disc. Don't forget to form the Ward of the Evil Eye (better known as "devil horns") while listening.

---END OF LINE---

"I am sorry, but all questions must be submitted in writing."