Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Birthday

For those of you that don't know, it's my brother (and editor, and writing partner) Nik's birthday today.  
If you see him, give him a hug.  Don't say happy birthday or anything, just give him a hug, and walk away.  

You can consider that my birthday present as well.

The mother@#*&% of all album reviews!

                When I was young, there were four records (and I mean actual vinyl) that shaped my musical taste forever.  My parents had just received a stereo from my grandmother for Christmas (or some other present-giving holiday), complete with a record player.  This meant that all of the records that they had sitting in boxes in a closet were no longer useless.  Ergo, my listening experience was transformed from “whatever was on the radio” to full recordings, including all of the “album filler” that you never get to hear, all in their original form.  Those four, life altering  albums in no particular order were Led Zeppelin IV, Aerosmith’s Rocks, Alice Cooper’s School’s Out and Black Sabbath’s Paranoid

                I told you that to tell you this:  June 11, Black Sabbath makes their triumphant return with an all new studio album.  This is big news for a number of reasons. 

1.       It’s been rumored since they first got back together at Ozzfest way back in 1997.
2.       It’s the first new music as the original Black Sabbath since two tracks on the Reunion concert album (1998), and their first full album since 1978’s Never Say Die.
3.       It gets the band back together (almost).  Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne are back together with Bill Ward the only original member that did not take part. 
4.       After a few sub-standard solo albums from Ozzy, hopefully we can get some good music!
5.       It’s new Black Sabbath!

So, in honor of this momentous occasion, I will be dipping back into the vault and doing small reviews of Black Sabbath’s discography for the next five weeks.  Here is the schedule and the guidelines:

                Because the new release is the original Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, those are the only albums I will be reviewing.  I have nothing against the Dio years of Black Sabbath, in fact I love those three albums (plus the latest release when they changed their name to Heaven and Hell) and I may review them in the future, but this is a singular mission to pay tribute to one of the most influential bands of all time and its original iteration.

                I will not be reviewing “Greatest Hits” collections, only regular albums and two live albums (see list below). 

                All of this will be followed by a review of the new album 13 upon its release.

May 7, 2013 – Black Sabbath     
May 9, 2013 – Paranoid
May 14, 2013 – Master of Reality
            May 16, 2013 – Volume 4
May 21, 2013 – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
            May 23, 2013 – Sabotage
            May 28, 2013 – Technical Ecstasy
May 30, 2013 – Never Say Die
June 4, 2013 – Reunion (Live)
            June 6, 2013 – Past Lives (Live)
June 18, 2013 – 13

                I hope you join me on this look back and I would greatly appreciate any feedback or comments on your own Black Sabbath experience (either live or in album form).

Hell’s Kitchen Episode Seven: The Blue Team Blues

                We learned a lot about certain chefs in this episode.  Not enough to really determine who was better, per se, but enough to keep me busy mocking them.  This was a fairly plain and uneventful episode, where mistakes were made (the same mistakes we have seen many times before) and yet, to everyone’s surprise, a dinner service was completed.  Let’s jump right in.

                We start with the chefs having to wrangle a protein.  The protein was then placed into a cage that had a sign for a starch on top (potatoes, pasta, etc).  This is what the chef was tasked with cooking for that challenge.  This meant that not only did you have to try and usher your desired protein to the cage marked with your desired starch, but, as the chefs were only allowed in one at a time, you also had to hope that both your protein and starch weren’t taken by the chef ahead of you.  The blue team made quick work of getting their proteins caged and ready to go, while the red team got tripped up because apparently fat black girl is afraid of barnyard animals.  We are talking petting zoo quality animals here, pigs, goats, turkeys, chickens and ducks.  There wasn’t a large or vicious animal amongst the herd (though how awesome would that be if they had to wrangle a lion or something like that?  Hell, even a deer would have been interesting.  I would have loved to have seen a deer stand on its back legs and smack loud guy in the face with a hoof.)  I get it, some people are just irrationally scared of stuff that most people find “normal”, but that irrational fear can be rationally mocked by me if it makes you go apeshit when you watch Charlotte’s Web. 

                Despite fat black girl’s best efforts to screw everything up for her team, everyone gets their protein and heads back to the kitchen to start the cooking process.  Here, we learn that snooty stringbean two is good at giving everyone else “helpful suggestions” but apparently can’t cook goat.  Here’s one thing that I don’t understand: you are on a competition, trying to win a job based largely on your ability to cook, and yet you are cooking with ingredients you have never touched in your life?  How intelligent is that?  This is exactly what happens to snooty stringbean two, who freely admits that he has never prepared goat before, and this costs his team a victory In the challenge.  We also learn that loud guy is a total douche who thinks very highly of himself (okay, this wasn’t really news either).  The kicker in this challenge is that each team was only able to select one of each protein to go head to head.  This meant that it came down to snooty stringbean two’s goat dish against snooty stringbean one’s.  The blue team chose wrong apparently (something that snooty stringbean one had no problem reminding them of on multiple occasions). 

                So the blue team loses again, and their punishment this time is to take care of the animals in a petting zoo for the Hell’s Kitchen “family night” that will be taking place at the next dinner service.  The best part about this is that while Ramsay is telling the blue team about their punishment, he can’t keep a straight face.  It’s obviously as funny for him as it is for us.  He obviously knows that these guys are terrible and has no problem torturing them at every turn.  The blue team also takes this time to pick on snooty stringbean one a bit more.  I would almost feel sorry for the guy if it wasn’t for the fact that he is a giant douchey baby about everything.  The guy can cook, don’t get me wrong, but his attitude is just terrible, and that was even before he became the target of the blue team’s ire.

                As I mentioned, the dinner service consisted of a “family night” which meant some kid-themed entrees along with the standard fare.  The kicker tonight was that Ramsay’s family along with his assistant’s family (I’m going to call him ‘not Chef Scott’ because he is filling in for the absent chef this season) are in attendance, and are being served by the blue team (talk about rolling the dice, jeez).  The food for the kids is relatively easy stuff (burgers, pizza, etc.) it is just a matter of coordinating it so that that food comes out with the parent’s appetizers.  Both kitchens actually do a halfway decent job of this until old guy for the blue kitchen bites a big one and sends up a cold burger for (you guessed it) Ramsay’s kids.  This sends Ramsay off the deep end and I am surprised that old guy made it through the service.  While he was my favorite to win the whole thing a couple weeks ago, the fact that he can’t get through a dinner service without screwing something up makes me think that he won’t be around once the time comes to hand out the black jackets. 

The red team, led by squeaky voiced girl on the meat station does a great job and actually finishes well ahead of the blue team.  They then go over to help the blue team because, to be frank, the blue team is terrible.  Between an inability to do their damn job, and snooty stringbean one delighting in each screwup everyone else makes (seriously, he looks like a kid on Christmas morning, it’s terrible) the guys can’t do anything right.  It’s no surprise they have won only one reward and one dinner service.  This is magnified by the fact that douchey haircut grand champion tried to serve raw chicken to ‘not Chef Scott’s’ pregnant wife.  I’m not going to go into how dumb it is to serve raw chicken (it feels like I have to have that exchange every damn week) but needless to say, Ramsay is not a happy camper yet again.
The red team wins (obviously) so the blue team is tasked with coming up with two members for elimination.  The first choice is easy, douchey haircut grand champion goes up for trying to serve raw chicken, and generally being a mess on the meat station all night long.  He’s actually a pretty competent chef overall, but this episode he took a severe nose-dive.  This is definitely one of the worst performances I have seen from a chef that didn’t result in his immediate expulsion from the kitchen.  The second chef up for elimination is snooty stringbean one.  He has a terrible attitude in general, didn’t do much to help his team with that day’s prep, and he burned a pizza for a kid (which was his only real culinary screw-up this episode, but coupled with everything else it was magnified).  Ramsay is a little surprised by this, probably thinking that they would put old guy up for sending out a cold burger, but after contemplating it for a bit, Ramsay agrees with the blue team that snooty stringbean one is a cancer and needs to be removed.  This is a bit of a surprise only because raw chicken is usually a one-way ticket home, but there was no way that snooty stringbean one was going to change his attitude enough to stick around, much less thrive in the kitchen. 

This week, douchey haircut grand champion goes crazy and shaves his head.  This is actually not a terrible course of action in order to get a fresh start, and hopefully it helps him regain the mental aspect he needs to actually survive, but right now, the guy looks like he is spiraling out of control.  Plus, someone loses a hair in the food (which is, of course, found by a patron).  Should be fun and educational (and only mildly stomach turning – make sure you don’t eat while watching)!

See you next week! 

Countdown, Day 2

Here's your reminder for today.  You're all coming, right?

Music Review – Queensryche: Frequency Unknown

I can't tell if the "FU" is in reference to the other members of Queensryche that Tate split from, or if it's to us fans that bought this thinking that we were going  to get a great album.

                Do you remember a couple weeks ago when I reviewed the new Sevendust album, and I stated how it just was not on par with the previous albums?  That was the case in spades in 2011 when Queensryche released Dedicated to Chaos.  They were never able to reclaim their sound from classic albums like Empire or Rage for Order, so they have spent much of the post-Empire years in a constant state of experimentation.  Let’s be frank, since Operation Mindcrime II in 2006, Queensryche has been slowly deteriorating from what they once were.  The covers album Take Cover in 2007 (typically a death knell for most bands) was subpar, American Soldier, in 2009 was okay, but not up to the standards Queensryche fans expected, and Dedicated to Chaos in 2011 was a disaster.  I am a big Queensryche fan and wanted to give it a chance out of a loyalty to the band, but even I could only listen to the whole thing once or twice.  Generally I’ll get about halfway through it and turn it off. 

                Given that huge misstep a few years ago, coupled with the fact that the band basically broke up (with singer Geoff Tate splitting from the rest of the band, yet they are both using the Queensryche name) my expectations were stunted to say the least.  I think the main thing to ask yourself before diving into this album is whether you are looking for a Queensryche album, a Geoff Tate album, or just something better than Dedicated to Chaos.  It’s fairly obvious right from the get-go that two of those above statements are true.  Even from the opening number I can tell that this album is far better than the band’s previous effort.  I can also tell that the album is much more akin to a Geoff Tate solo album than a Queensryche album. 

                Okay, so it’s not really a Queensryche album, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to suck, right?  Surprisingly, it’s not too bad.  The first ten songs (the actual new material for the album) have some great guitar work from the handful of guitar players that Tate recruited for the project.  Tate’s vocals on some of the tracks are decent as well.  It lacks the “flavor” of a traditional Queensryche release (and I really can’t describe it better than that, just listen to Empire, or Hear in the Now Frontier and tell me this is even in the same ballpark).  You can tell that the album is a Geoff Tate album though, because the vocals are turned up higher than everything else.  This is no more apparent than on the four re-recorded classic Queensryche tracks. 

                Now, I am all for re-recording music if it will improve the quality.  Case in point: KISS released Sonic Boom in 2009 with an additional disc of re-recorded KISS classics (basically a greatest hits album).  The thing is that the majority of these songs were originally recorded and released in the mid to late 1970s.  These songs could actually stand to be updated with a louder, cleaner sound, and the album was one of my favorite parts of Sonic Boom.

                By way of comparison, the four songs that were re-recorded for this Queensryche album (“Silent Lucidity”, “Jet City Woman” and “Empire” from Empire (1990) and “I Don’t Believe in Love” from Operation Mindcrime (1988)) were fine the way they were.  There was no need to re-record them and there was nothing that could have really been done to make them sound better.  Best case scenario, they would have sounded the same.  Of course, this is 2013 Queensryche, so there’s no such thing as a best case scenario.  The tracks are terrible.  They sound like amateur demo versions of the songs, with the vocals cranked way up and the instruments barely audible.  Tate’s vocals aren’t even up to the previous standard anymore, so attempting to re-create a classic track (or four) by redoing it exactly with just an adjustment of the instrument levels, is a bad decision.  Doing this exposed Tate as not only being not as good as he was in the past, but also as a bit of an egomaniac that thinks that if he re-records classic Queensryche tracks with a higher level of vocals that longtime fans will just accept this as the new standard.

                Well to that, sir, I am calling bullshit.

                The album itself is not bad if you take it for what it is, but it is hard to get past the nearly Kanye West-sezed ego that is on display here.  In fact, I think it may be time to call the band dead as we know it.  Queensryche is not Queensryche without Geoff Tate, but Geoff Tate alone is not Queensryche, and any release claiming to be is straight up lying to you. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Message Three

I kid you not, the actual attempt at coercing me into agreeing to a puppy was this direct.  
As a 21 year old kid back then...let's just say it had its desired effect.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Comic Review – Geek-Girl #0 and Mr. Mash-Up #0

                This past weekend I received an email from Sam Johnson, writer of the abovementioned comics, asking me to review them.  Mr. Mash-Up #0 is a newly released comic while Geek-Girl #0 (the precursor to Mr. Mash-Up) is a recently released variant edition, probably to capitalize on the initial appearance of Mr. Mash-Up.  Regardless, they are new to me.  I have not been paid to write this review and any opinion is mine and mine alone.  I appreciate Sam reaching out to me, but as per usual, I will not be pulling punches if I see something that doesn’t quite work for me.  I will review the issues one at a time, starting with Geek-Girl #0.

                Before I get started though, I need to print this:

Mr. Mash-Up #0, 28 pages, b&w, written by Sam Johnson, illustrated by Bruno Letizia, Eric Lamont & Meisha Mimotofu, and published by Actuality Press is available now in $3.99 Regular and $1.99 Digital/Kindle editions, along with Geek-Girl #0, at www.geekgirlcomics.com . Suggested for mature readers.

This review is going to take awhile, best to go and get yourself a beverage and settle in.

Ready?  Okay, here we go.

Geek-Girl #0

                The cover by interior artist Sally Stone-Thompson is not bad.  It has a very classic superhero element to it in terms of a flying character high in the air amongst birds and clouds.  The slight downshot doesn’t lend a whole lot of dynamism, but once you read the story you will realize that, at least at this stage of the game, dynamism isn’t really the point.  I like the fact that the clothesline is entangled on her foot a bit, almost as a tether to the real world and the fact that she wasn’t just born a superhero, she became one.  It grounds her in reality a bit.  I would have liked to have seen something behind her aside from clouds though.  We are clearly looking down ever so slightly, so there should be something on the ground to look at, especially since she obviously flew through someone’s backyard to get the clothesline tangled on her foot.  There are slight anatomy issues on the hands and feet of Geek-Girl, but it is not a deal breaker for me in any way.  The coloring is pretty good and the logo against the light background is effective and easy to read.   

6/10 – It’s a nice simple cover, perfect for a debut issue.

                The story by Sam Johnson is actually pretty good (and I’m not just saying that for Johnson’s benefit).  It is a nice origin story, which gives us a glimpse of how Geek-Girl got her powers while also leaving a little mystery for future issues.  There are a couple minor plot holes that come to mind, but nothing that really derails the story all that much, and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future they are addressed.  For example, the powers are acquired by a microchip in a pair of glasses.  This is obviously something that Trevor, the creator worked long and hard on in order to impress a girl, and if he really wanted to he could probably sell it to the government for big money…yet he just lets it go in a game of strip poker.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s an incredibly honorable thing to do, but it’s hard to imagine that he is willing to let the glasses go so easily. 

                I would also like to know why Ruby (Geek-Girl’s alter ego) wants them, or more importantly, why she utilizes them after she acquires them.  She states that she wants them because she knows how important they are to Trevor, which seems, to me at least, like a lame reason to want something, but that doesn’t really jive with why she puts them on and utilizes the powers that they grant her.  This also doesn’t paint Ruby in the best of lights as a person.  Is she an anti-hero?  Is she a bad person?  Cheating a drunk guy out of a multi-million dollar project at a game of strip poker is not necessarily the kind of origin you expect from a hero.  I have a feeling that Johnson will address this as the story unfolds in subsequent issues, but a little hint here or there in this issue would have helped.  I also assume we will find out how Ruby realizes the glasses can make her fly.  We see her flying on the cover, and in the beginning of the issue (before the flashback about how she got her powers) she is flying as well, yet there is no mention that the glasses grant that power.  In fact the only power that we are shown during the “origin” sequence is that of super strength.  Again, I assume that Johnson will clear this up eventually; it was just odd to see her flying multiple times in the beginning with no hint that that is one of the powers granted by the glasses. 

                Sam Johnson does write dialogue very convincingly, even in “super-human” situations.  The conversations are believable and something you would expect to overhear, which is a good sign.  The last couple pages feel a bit rushed, like he was trying to squeeze in a villain before he ran out of room, but it does add to the mystery and actually makes me curious about the next issue, so I have to give him a lot of credit for that.

6/10 – This is a good origin story and a very good setup for future issues.  There are a lot of questions yet to be answered about Geek-Girl, her powers, and everyone’s motivations, but Johnson seems like he has the answers, he’s just waiting to reveal them to us. 

                I will be the first to admit that the manga-style that Sally Stone-Thompson utilizes is not really my cup of tea.  I will also readily admit that it works very well here.  There is really not much in the way of epic superhero action in this issue and she handles the “talking head” scenes very well.  The people can be a bit stiff, and the acting is a bit wooden, but it’s not terrible by any means.  Stone-Thompson starts out exceptionally well in terms of the art, there are a few anatomy issues here and there, but up until the last three pages, the art is solid.  That goes away quickly when Geek-Girl steps outside.  The fact that it’s raining is not that big of a deal, it’s how Stone-Thompson renders the rain that makes it so distracting.  It literally looks like she took a Sharpie and drew lines all over the place.  I’m not sure if she was up against a deadline, burnt-out or both, but the stark dip in quality from the rest of the book makes it look as if this section was drawn by a different artist altogether. 

One of the main problems with Stone-Thompson’s artwork in general is that there is very little variation in terms of the shot selection.  If you look at a page from this comic, you will see that Geek Girl is generally the same size in each panel.  This isn’t too big of a deal when there are fewer panels on the page, but towards the end when the number of panels seems to increase for some reason, we could have definitely benefited from a long shot of the scene, just to establish where the characters are.  The fact that the first sequence where Ruby acquires the glasses is completely devoid of backgrounds, only to be followed by a scene that is rich in them is odd too. 

I love the amount of detail in these two panels.  They are minor in the grand scheme of things in terms of the story, but they do a great job of establishing the scene while providing something interesting to look at.  The curved railing is great!  Stone-Thompson could have easily gone for something more generic here but didn't and should be commended for that. 

In contrast, this is part of a three-page sequence that should be the high-point (the first time Ruby actually uses her powers to help someone) but because of the way the art looks it feels rushed and unimpressive.

6/10 – A solid beginning gives way to a convoluted and (what appears to be) hastily drawn final three pages.  With a little anatomy work and panel variation, Sally Stone-Thompson can be very good at this whole “comic book” thing.

Overall:  6/10 – There are elements here that I don’t care for, but overall, it is an interesting concept that, if fleshed out a bit more (or at least more of it revealed to us as the readers) could be very interesting.  I’m definitely interested to see where this story goes and I would absolutely recommend giving this book a shot.

Mr. Mash-Up #0

                I’m not really sure I “get” the cover by Mike Bunt.  It looks like the creepiest Valentine’s Day card ever, and that doesn’t really make any sense based on who Mr. Mash-Up is or what the comic is about.  The illustration itself is nice enough, and the bright white of Mr. Mash-Up in stark contrast to the rest of the cover is effective in drawing your eye to him.  The biggest problem, and where this cover fails exponentially, is with the logo.  I’m not too keen on the logo itself as it is not easily readable in its own right but what makes matters worse is that it is virtually unintelligible on the burgundy backdrop of the cover.  The only thing that even clues me in to the fact that there is text there at all is the white of the gradient running through the letters. 

1/10 – I like the face but the fact that the logo is completely lost amidst the background really hurts this cover. 

                There are actually three separate stories here.  Sam Johnson is the writer of all three with a different group of artists handling the visuals on each.  The first story, “Voodoo Trespass” focuses on Cabra Cini: Voodoo Junkie Hitwoman.  It’s kind of like a female version of the Punisher with a little occult magic thrown in.  This is probably the most complete story and despite the dimension hopping that she does (read it and that last part will make sense) it is still remarkably easy to follow.  Johnson does a good job of feeding us more information on Cabra Cini before she became involved in Voodoo, while also showing us why she started to dabble in dark magic through the course of the story and not making it just a big information drop at the beginning.  Mr. Mash-Up makes an appearance at the end, but his significance aside from being there to get in Cabra Cini’s way is not entirely clear.

                The second story, “Return of the Prodigal #!%*” takes place shortly after the first story ends (and that’s one thing Johnson excels at – making the three stories feel sequential and cohesive).  “Return” features a large battle and is therefore a bit confusing at times.  Whether this is on purpose or just a happy accident, I have no idea.  The story itself does give more of a nuance to the character of Mr. Mash-Up and is the first time we have seen him in a “starring” role. 

                The final story, “Gold Town: ‘A Whole Other Thing’” goes back to being about those around Mr. Mash-Up and not about him specifically.  I didn’t care for this story as much, probably more due to the fact that the main character in this issue “Pete the Pimp” is just an unlikable S.O.B. than anything else. 

5/10 – At the conclusion of this issue, I found myself wondering where this was going.  Unlike Geek-Girl, this doesn’t really lay much of a framework for a future issue.  Sure, you can create more stories with the characters, but they aren’t begging for another issue like Geek Girl was.  I really wanted to see where that was going next, with this one…not as much.  If it was part of a back-up story though I would read it.

I love this page!  You would think that so much going on in the panel borders would make everything kind of confusing, but it doesn't because of how heavily the art is shaded.  I also have to give  Letizia credit for having the cajones to do it.  I'm sure this page alone took a long time to complete.

“Voodoo Trespass” – Bruno Letizia
                The art was decent, had a very “underground comics” kind of feel to it.  Letizia does a good job of acting and storytelling (finally, some variations in the shots!) but the anatomy could use a little work and the shadows feel a little forced at times, like they are there to spot blacks without any other kind of purpose.

It's just hard to tell what's going on.  I though Mash-Up was getting stabbed in the second panel, but he's not.  Color or shading or something to help separate the characters would help, but it really all boils down to storytelling.

“Return of the Prodigal #!%*” - Eric Lamont and Mike Bunt
                Anatomy is an issue again here, and we are back to a bunch of medium shots broken up by a medium-close shot every now and then.  There is a lot of dynamic action which unfortunately gets lost because of the open nature of the art.  By that, I mean that there is very little shading, be it hatching, cross-hatching or just splotches of black which makes it hard to discern who is who and what is what.  Add to that the fact that everything looks like it was inked by a sharpie, with very little line delineation and what could have been is usurped by what is.  This art would have been better served if it was in a colored comic where the colorist could work hand in hand with the other artists to create more space and dimension between all of the elements in the panels.  

I don't even care that the girl's legs are too long in the second panel, the amount of detail and acting here is great, though the way Pete moves in panel five would indicate that the window is on the opposite wall to where it actually is based on panels two and seven.  

Any time you can give me a downshot of a populated bar, I'm game.  I don't know why, I just find them interesting.

If any sequence was calling out for pulling back so we can see the action a bit better, it would be this one.  The slanted panels add some dynamism and is a good stylistic choice, but I had to go back and try and interpret what was going on (it took me a bit to realize that panel two is the back window of the car), and that's not something you want in an action sequence.

“Gold Town: ‘A Whole Other Thing’“ – Meísha Mimotofu and Eddy O’Bomsawin
                The detail is great and the acting of the characters is very well done.  The closing sequence is a little confusing because of the shots that Mimotofu decided to use, but overall the artwork is nice.  The lettering, in particular the choice of font that was used for Pete’s exposition is hard to read. 

6/10 – Mimotofu outshines everyone else here, and O’Bomsawn does a great job inking and keeping everything clear.  I was less impressed with “Return”, but “Voodoo” had some decent artistic moments.

Overall:  5/10:  I like it, not as much as Geek Girl, but it was definitely better than some of the garbage that is being published.  I am interested in seeing what Johnson has in store for these characters, as the concept itself is interesting enough, it’s just some of the execution that is lacking.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Message Two

Yup, this one happened as well.  I was at work at the time that they all came in, but they were waiting for me when my shift ended just the same.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hell’s Kitchen Episode Six: The teaser is just a tease.

                When last we left Hell’s Kitchen, there were four individuals on the chopping block, and all had been instructed to remove their jackets with Ramsay saying he was going to do something that he had never done before.  Naturally at this point you would expect to see the entire group sent home, or at least a vast majority right?  He has done the switch teams thing before, so that can’t be it.  What do we get when this episode begins? 


                Or at least the closest to nothing you can really get.  Ramsay is keeping the jackets of the four contestants and will reward them at a certain point after they earn them back.  Lame.  At least make the chefs have to be part of the winning tea, in the reward challenge to save themselves.  This was the first big tease from last episode (the second is coming up later). 

                The next reward challenge requires the contestants to make Chinese food.  I can’t really say much about this because there was really no drama here.  The chefs cooked, some were good, some were merely okay.  One of the guys had never cooked Chinese food before, something that he continues to reiterate, either to gain sympathy from us when he fails miserably, or surprise when he succeeds (it’s the second one by the way).  It just so happens that he is the last dish up and his win gets the blue team a reward challenge victory. 

                While the men celebrate their victory (and old guy along with snooty stringbean one celebrate getting their jackets back), the women have to not only make dumplings for that evening’s dim sum appetizer during dinner service, but they also have to eat a balut egg (one of those eggs that you usually see on Fear Factor).  They choke down the eggs, before they come right back up which makes the guys’ fish-head soup punishment look tame in comparison. 

                Dinner service actually doesn’t go that poorly, at least they complete it without getting kicked out.  Maybe my expectations have been lowered by watching them muddle about all season long, but not getting kicked out equals a “win” in my book.  The dim sum appetizer I mentioned before is prepared tableside, which is no problem for the red team, but Ramsay put old guy in charge of it in the blue kitchen and he takes forever to prepare and serve them, to the point where he is actually holding up a relatively smoothly operating kitchen at that point.  The red team fares better as they have no problem with the dim sum appetizer and squeaky voice and fat black girl cook risotto well enough to get their jackets back (that’s all they had to do Ramsay, really?)  Entrees are where everything falls apart for both sides.  We can start with their general ineptitude to complete simple tasks in a timely fashion, but compound that with the fact that there are VIPs at the chef’s tables and everything is magnified. 

                We’ll start with the red team.  It all comes down to communication and the same blonde dumbass from last episode that still has trouble telling anyone and everyone the cooking times on her food.  This episode she was on the meat station.  Considering the fact that meat, by rule, takes longer to cook than just about anything else that would be served at the restaurant, you would think that she would be in constant communication with her team members about how long she has left to cook so that everyone can get the food up to the pass at the same time.   Instead, we get her walking around, lost in her own little world and leaving everyone else to guess.  Even direct questions concerning the length of cook time remaining go unanswered.  She even has the audacity to complain to the camera, explaining that it is not her job to call out times and keep thing s running smoothly.  The fuck it isn’t!  That is exactly your job!  She is either purposefully sabotaging her team mates or she is too stupid to realize that a successful kitchen is based on constant communication.  This royally screws the girl on the fish station, who doesn’t seem to have it all together anyway and just gets thrown way off her game because she is forced to guess the appropriate time to drop her fish.  This all comes to a head when the silent dumbass drops the rack of lamb for the chef’s table.  Right on the ground, just falls right out of the pan.  At this point, the rest of the ticket is ready to go and because she has to cook a whole new lamb entrée (which, considering its thickness is probably tied with the Wellington for longest cook-times in the kitchen) everything else needs to be restarted.  Good job, dummy.

                As a quick aside, the view of the VIP leaving that was shown in this episode’s promos apparently never happens, or I blinked and missed it.  If it did happen, Ramsay would have canned someone right then and there though, so I have a feeling that it was all another tease.  Damn you Hell’s Kitchen, you’re like a prom queen with a promise ring!

                The blue kitchen is going along generally well until the VIP table’s entrée comes up.  Both the individuals at the VIP table order fish, which if you ask the douchey haircut grand champion (who is on the fish station tonight), is his forte.  Not so fast, buddy.  He struggles mightily on the fish station, sending up raw shrimp which Ramsay quickly sends back.  I’ve cooked shrimp before, it’s harder to make sure that they are not overdone than it is to undercook them unless you space out completely.  That’s really it though.  Snooty stringbean one (who acts like a major tool the whole time) does an excellent job on the meat station, and both sides complete their dinner service.

                Ramsay is still not happy though.  Due to the errors with the chef’s tables, he deems this service a loss for both teams.  They are both tasked with nominating two people for elimination.  The red team has it fairly easy, between the silent dumbass and compatriot on the fish station, they have their sacrificial lambs, ha! lamb, get it?  The blue team has a harder time.  Sure the fact that old guy was too slow with the dim sum made him an easy target while the blue team decides to go with snooty stringbean one as their second choice instead of the obvious choice, douchey haircut grand champion.  This perplexes Ramsay as snooty stringbean one had a good service, but he’s just a terrible person so Ramsay allows him to step forward. 

                In kind of a surprise considering the fact that many of her errors were due to silent dumbass, fish station girl is sent home.  Still no sign of a hug or even a handshake by Ramsay.  He, like the rest of us, probably hate these people and is most likely envisioning next season’s competition taking place with robots as contestants.  At least they didn’t leave us hanging with a well-placed “to be continued” like the last couple weeks.

                Next week, snooty stringbean one has a meltdown, says something offensive to Ramsay and walks out.  Is snooty stringbean one gone for good?  Is any of this real?  Does anyone really care?  Tune in tonight and then meet me back here next week!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Message One

Just as a side note, each of these messages actually ended up on my phone back in 2003 (and that phone looks quite a bit like my cell phone from back in that time as well).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Comic Review: Bodie Troll #1

                I went into my comic shop yesterday with the full intent of reviewing the new He-Man series from DC.  Due to the fact that I needed one more comic to make my quota in order to use a coupon (hooray for coupons!) I chose a comic that looked appealing on the shelf but I was ready to pass over in the interest of saving money.  I am glad I didn’t, and my son shares that opinion.

                The cover accurately represents the basic premise of the story while showcasing the exceptional artistic talents of creator Jay Fosgitt.  As I mentioned above, the cover grabbed me from the get-go.  I have long been looking for a comic that I could share with my son that we could read together.  He loves Transformers but those books are full of a lot more adult themes (just thematically, not robot sex you dirty perv) than he needs to be exposed to.  Those are the kinds of books that he can and will grow into.  The perfect “right now” comic for him comes in the form of Bodie Troll.

8/10 – A great illustration, encapsulating the entire premise of the book is coupled with a nice title design.  My only complaint would be how monochromatic the color is.

Bodie is a normal troll with one distinct difference.  He is cuter than any troll you have ever seen.  Even though he tries to do normal “troll things” like scaring goats (see the hilarious opening sequence for evidence of this) he is unable to be more than a cute pest as opposed to scary, domineering force.  You won’t see him eating Hobbits or terrorizing townsfolk.  The book itself focuses on who Bodie is along with his various relationships within the town and how the townsfolk perceive him.  If you had a really cute stray dog that could also talk and provide for himself, that would be Bodie and the way he fits in to the town.  His “boss” is a fairy godmother bar owner (and by boss I mean the person that provides him with dirty roots – his favorite food – in exchange for menial labor) and his friend is the barmaid.  This issue has him tasked with fetching a giant egg for the fairy godmother to cook.  It turns out that the egg is no normal egg as it hatches into a monster similar to the sand worms from Beetlejuice or Tremors.  It wreaks havoc, heading straight for the fairy godmother’s bar.  When Bodie tries to stop it, it eats him!  We are then treated to the one weakness of these creatures: troll pee!  As Bodie mentions, “Have you ever been swallowed by a monster?  Let’s see you try not to tinkle!”  Whether this will play out in a larger story or not I have no idea, but as a standalone issue it works really well. 

9/10 – The story has the perfect setting and pace for young readers while also offering enough interesting characters for the adults that read it to them.  It takes what cartoons like Shrek did and leaves out the pop-culture references, focusing instead on the stories and the character interactions.

                Take Mike Kunkel’s Herobear and the Kid and mix in a bit of Lilo & Stitch and you will have the art style behind Bodie Troll.  It’s Saturday morning cartoon cute, but packs so much rich detail that it is just a delight to look at.  Jay Fosgitt takes a page out of the Jeff Smith storytelling book with his pacing and it works wonderfully.  With so many interesting creatures, you would think that the actual humans would get lost in the mix, but Fosgitt gives each of them a look and personality all their own as well.  Every panel, every page of this book screams “pet project” and you can see how much work he has put into this.  Need I also mention that the coloring and lettering is handled by Fosgitt as well?  He does it all, and he doesn’t sacrifice any one part in favor of another.  Everything works in perfect conjunction and as a whole is one of the best top to bottom comics I have seen this year.

This is what happens when he tries to eat goats...classic!

There are no "cookie cutter" people here.  Everyone has a design and a personality.

More characters including the hand puppet that acts as a "town crier" of sorts.

Yay for storytelling!

10/10 – If Fosgitt doesn’t win some kind of award for his work here than the right people just aren’t paying attention. 

Overall: 9/10 – If you have a kid, this is the perfect pick up for you to introduce them to the magic of comic books.  If you just want a fun story with incredible artwork, pick it up for yourself, you won’t be disappointed, and if you are you are just no fun.

Clutch at the Westcott Theater: Your beard must be this long to ride this ride.

            Clutch was in town on Monday night and I had yet to see them live, so I took my brother and we headed over to the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY.  This is another repurposed old theater (much like the Palace Theater from my review of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd show.  The main difference between t he two venues is that this theater has no seats and is less “classy”.  It feels perfect for a metal show!  There was room for the obligatory mosh pit and plenty of overpriced alcoholic beverages for everyone over the age of twenty-one.  It’s a great local venue and really right up my alley as I have been searching for a venue that replicates the experience of Sayerville, New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom since I moved back up her to central New York six years ago. 

            Okay, on to the show itself.  I will touch briefly on the three (three!) opening bands before I talk about Clutch.  First, though, just from looking around the room, it looked like a ZZ Top cosplay convention.  Just about everyone there had a beard, most of the big and bushy variety.  It was odd seeing that many people sporting a similar look all gathered together in one place.  When you look at the four bands that were playing though, you can almost understand why.

This is what I think happened.  It’s just speculation at this point, but I’m pretty sure this is how we got here.

            Brandon and I arrived a little late, so we only got to hear the very end of Scorpion Child.  We should have arrived later and missed out on them completely, they were bad.  The musicians were fine, but the vocalist was trying to be Robert Plant with a voice like Geddy Lee on his worst day.  The antics and the dress (brown leather vest for the win!) were ridiculous as well.  At one point before their last song (or during, I couldn’t bother to keep track) he went over to a big, gallon water jug, took a drink, then proceeded to spray what I can only assume is a breath freshener into his mouth.  Why?  I have no idea, nor do I really care.  They left (after tearing down their own instruments, obviously the roadie budget for this tour is very slim) and were replaced by Lionize.

            At first glance, you would not assume Lionize would be that great.  They are the second band of four, they set up all of their own equipment, and following a pretty crappy band like Scorpion Child, my expectations were at an all-time low.  I was wrong.  Holy shit was I wrong.  They were great!  Think of a bluesy Black Crowes sound but heavier, with some crazy bass-work in there (the bassist was nuts).  The overall sound was very groove-oriented and went over incredibly well with the crowd (only Clutch got a louder ovation in my estimation).  In my opinion, Lionize didn’t play long enough.  I would have thoroughly enjoyed another half hour of their music as the straight-up opener for Clutch.

            Alas it was not to be, as there was one more band between me and the band I came to see.  Orange Goblin, from the UK apparently.  I have heard them compared to Black Sabbath, but I think they are a little closer to Motorhead, with a little Pantera thrown in for good measure.  They were good, not great.  I will say they are great though because their lead singer is an eight foot tall behemoth. 

This is him.

You may now commence having shitloads of nightmares for weeks to come.  

However, Brandon made a valid point, he kind of looks like Sweetums from the Muppets.  What do you think?

Still scary?

I’m not nearly as into the really heavy, mosh pit inducing music as I used to be, and it says a lot that the best track I heard all night was when they actually slowed it down a bit and played something that was a bit mellower.  I will say that the musicianship in this band was great as well.  The guitar player was fast and precise while the bass player was good as well.  The drummer looked like he was exerting no effort at all, which is not a knock against him, all of his motions were fluid and deliberate, nothing extra to get in the way of the music itself.  This is good, because anything extra was provided by the lead singer (who at first glance looks like he just came from the casting couch at a Rob Zombie movie) who had charisma to spare.  This was Orange Goblin’s first trip to Syracuse, and if the warm reception was any indication, they will be back.

            After an extended break, where the stage (fully set up and ready to go) sat in darkness for a good 15-20 minutes, Clutch took the stage.  Right out of the gate they had the audience on their side.  I was skeptical coming into the show because I have one of their live albums (Full Fathom Five) as well as a DVD of a short set of their songs, and I wasn’t incredibly impressed with either.  I know better than to judge a band based on its concert album when I can see them in person though.  Between old and new favorites, the band had people singing along and dancing to the music.  This was most apparent on their song “Cypress Grove” which singer Neil Fallon dedicated to “all the ladies”.  The entire venue was singing, dancing and moving as one and it was quite the sight to see.  The band itself was not very mobile on the stage itself, but they made up for that with their ability to play the shit out of their instruments.  Neil Fallon made up for the fact that the rest of the band didn’t move though.  He was all over the stage, looking a little bit like what I would assume Dave Matthews would look like if he let himself go.  This is not a knock against Fallon at all; in fact it’s quite remarkable that that huge voice comes out of him, especially after seeing someone with a large voice but also huge frame mere minutes before.  Neil Fallon has one of the most unique voices in all of music, not just rock music and being able to see him perform live and not miss a beat was a pleasure. 

There were a few songs that I wish I had heard live (“DC Sound Attack” from the Earth Rocker album  “Willie Nelson” from Slow Hole to China and “Subtle Hustle” from Blast Tyrant) but I can’t really complain about the songs that they did include.  There were many times throughout the performance where it made me forget that it was nearly midnight on a Monday and I had to get up for work the following morning, or the fact that I am getting way too old to go to a show where I have to stand for five hours straight, and that’s what good music is supposed to do, right?  It’s supposed to transport you to a different mindset, make you forget about your troubles and trials for a couple hours.  Well, Clutch did that in spades.  It was a great show from top to bottom (if you take out Scorpion Child and give a little more time to Lionize and Clutch it would have been better) and I will definitely be seeing them again.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hello Kitty

Now that you know that, you will never be able to sleep soundly ever again.

I'd say "you're welcome" but I'm the one that comes up with this shit, so you can only imagine my sleeping patterns.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sketch-a-thon finalized!

I can't tell you how frustrating it was getting to this point, but here we are.  Finally, after months of back and forth, the sketch-a-thon has been confirmed and the specific spot within Destiny USA granted.  The table will be set up on the first level in the Atrium (which is near the elevators).  Stores that are close by include Aeropostale, Body by Pagoda, CCS and Ruum.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  Please remember, I will be there all day and the uber-talented Scott Hermann has agreed to spend some time sketching with me.  If you are an artist and want to come out for an hour as well, please let me know and I will sign you up.  It is not too late to donate originals or prints of your work if you would rather contribute that way.  For those coming by to check out the event, get a sketch and learn about this disorder, the later you come the less of a chance of encountering a crowded table, and don't be discouraged if you see a crowd, you're in a mall, go get some frozen yogurt and relax and come on back when it quiets down.

I look forward to seeing you all there!


I don't know anyone personally that live in Boston, or were directly effected by the bombings that took place yesterday at the end of the Boston Marathon.  I don't think that really matters anymore though.  In the past, one could look at events that were happening in other countries, or every once in a while in the United States, and while they could feel sad about those events, we still felt relatively safe and secure in our own little place in the world.  Sure, there was threats of nuclear war or some other terror on a global scale, but in terms of things that hit close to home, that list was fairly short.

That's all different now as terrorism, whether it's home-grown or from a foreign source is now more of a way of life.  Yes, it is not nearly as prevalent as it is in the Middle East, but our country, our region, doesn't really have a history of strife and terror on our own soil.  Hell, you get out of the colonial times and all we really have to show for an extended time of internal strife is the Civil War.  That's not bad.  That was an isolated incident that had a starting point as well as a general stopping point.  Sure, tension was still around, but it was not a constant fear that the Civil War would restart (at least after a few years had passed).

What I'm trying to get at here is that we have been a relatively secure nation for much of our history.  We are not dealing with car bombs and terrorism of any form on a daily basis.  We are not hardened to it like some other countries are.  We also are not as conditioned as other countries to deal with those attacks on a human level.  Yes, every law enforcement agency, especially those located in large metropolitan areas are better equipped now ever since the wake up call that was 9/11.  I am talking on a human level.  A level that allows you or I to process this information.

What we as a country lack in experience, we seem to make up for in human spirit.

How else can you explain people, just regular people not first responders, running toward the blast site, not thinking of their own safety as much as of helping those that are injured.  This is clearly a tragedy, but it shines a light on the triumph of the human spirit that those individuals possessed.  Their fight or flight response was clearly tuned to "fight" mode and regardless of who is responsible for this tragedy, one thing cannot be denied: we as a country, we the people if you will, refuse to let any kind of terrorists, foreign or domestic, scare us or shake our spirit.  We will fight, we will assist and we will survive.  Nothing you do will change that.

For those in Boston and those directly effected by the events in Boston, stay strong and don't be afraid to ask for help.  You can get through this, and you will get through this.  For everyone else, hug your kids, call your mom, do something for or with someone you love today and everyday.  Be grateful for the time you have and don't waste the moments, for moments are all we have.

Hell’s Kitchen Episode 5: In Flames

            I was right!  (I don’t get to say this often, so let me gloat), I was right!  Chubby guy was sent packing at the start of this episode.  Whether it was because he couldn’t cut it, or because Ramsay viewed him as a liability when it came to employing a stroke in waiting (which sounds dirtier than it is) I don’t know for sure, but it was probably a combination of the two.  While everyone was surprised that someone from the winning team was going home, no one was really sad to see him go, especially those on his own team.

            To compound all of this madness, there is no actual reward challenge this time around, just a dinner service later in the day.  Before they start prepping, everyone heads up to the dorms to relax and come down from the high-stress morning they just had.  The boys give squeaky voiced girl a hard time, picking on her a little bit, but it seems to be just good natured fun, especially since they start by praising her for sticking up for herself in the face of getting put up for elimination.  She takes this completely the wrong way and goes off whining to the rest of the red team about it, to which fat black girl gets incredibly butt-hurt.  I can understand and appreciate the act of sticking up for one’s teammate, but fat black girl nearly starts a rumble in the dorms because of squeaky voiced girl being a little oversensitive.  It’s just more unnecessary drama that you didn’t see as much of in earlier seasons, especially since this goes absolutely nowhere in terms of an actual plot development.

            Everyone starts to prep for the dinner service in a couple hours and we get our next bit of drama: squeaky voiced girl might be pregnant.  She’s very late and all kinds of worried about it.  Then she takes a test and finds out that she is not.  That’s it.  Drama over.  Seriously, I understand that this makes for good television in theory, but the entire thing, aside from the actual test result was basically shown last week in the promotional spot for this week’s episode.  It feels like the producers know that they have a weak crop of chefs this time around and are trying to manufacture drama to retain viewers because what hooked people in seasons past (chefs cooking and showing their skills in the kitchen) just can’t carry the episodes this year. 

            Dinner service is terrible for both sides.  Not only are they a man down because one individual needs to act as waiter/waitress this evening, the remaining chefs just can’t get their heads out of their collective asses.  The waiter for the guy’s team is douchey sideburn guy that I discussed last week.  He complains upon hearing that he has been chosen to be the waiter because he has to do his hair now (put it up into the spiky Mohawk from the first episode) and it takes a half hour to complete the process.  I’m sorry, but if your hair takes a half hour to prepare, then something is wrong with you and it might be time to choose a different hairstyle.  Tickets are late getting to the kitchen because both members of the wait staff find it difficult to write legibly.  Douchey hair grand champion states that he will have to “write like a bitch” which I guess is supposed to mean write like a girl, which would imply that just because he has a penis (solely an assumption at this point) that he can make illegible marks on a piece of paper and pass it off as writing. 

            On to the cooking!  One of the younger blondes was tasked by Ramsay to “take charge of the kitchen” as she was on the app station and she dictated the movement and the pace from the outset.  Of course, being on the risotto, it was her job to tell lip ring girl when she needed the scallops cooked to complete the dish.  This she failed to do time after time, and even went so far as to say that it wasn’t her job to tell lip ring girl when to drop the scallops.  Uh, yes, yes it is.  Not only because you’re part of the dish has to be started before hers, but because you are tasked with taking charge of the kitchen, which would mean that you have to ensure that everything comes out together.  How are you going to run a kitchen that is larger than this if you can’t even manage to tell one person that your risotto is three minutes out?  Sometimes I just wish for a big grease fire.

            The guys’ kitchen fared no better as old guy was having a bit of trouble with his scallops.  The main problem came from one order of three halibut for an entrée however.  The guy on the meat station that was cooking the Wellingtons for that same table kept sending up perfect food after perfect food, while old guy and his partner snooty stringbean one kept messing up the fish.  First it was the fact that he cooked bass instead of halibut.  Okay, a miscommunication, not your finest hour but if you bounce back it will work out.  Does he bounce back?  Hell no!  Old guy sends up fish two more times, once overdone, once underdone (if memory serves me correctly, regardless they were wrong both times).  Ramsay has had enough at this point and just kicks everyone out.  Now, to be fair, old guy was primarily responsible for the fish station while snooty stringbean one was in a support role, but he did keep getting in the way instead of really making himself useful, so a lot of the blame has to (and did) fall on old guy for the failure.  The best part is, when everything was unraveling, you cut to loud guy in the “confessional” or whatever it is you call the spot where they talk directly to the camera, and he says “We’re going down in flames, the Titanic ain’t got nothing on us.”  Seriously.  First of all, he shouts it at the camera, like he does with everything else, and I guarantee that if you turn your back and play a clip of him and then a clip of Tennielle from two or three seasons ago, you would not be able to tell the difference.  Second, loud guy clearly makes a Titanic and a Hindenburg reference in the same sentence.  He either doesn’t know that the Titanic was a ship that crashed into an iceberg and sunk, is not aware of the Hindenburg at all , or was fed a couple lines by the producers and instead of choosing one, put them both together.  Either way, he comes off looking like a dumbass.

            Over in the ladies’ kitchen, things are going relatively fine (and I say relatively because in the guys’ kitchen it’s apparently the Titanic-burg boat-blimp massacre) until squeaky voiced girl tries to cook porkchops.  Pork, is another meat that needs to be done to be edible.  There’s an extremely hard line between done and not done with chicken, with pork it’s a little less so.  I actually read an article a couple months ago that said that pork, while not as safe as cow when undercooked, is not nearly as dangerous as chicken because of advances in agriculture and chemical additives.  That’s all well and good, but squeaky voiced girl’s porkchops, when cut open, looked like they had just fled from the Big Bad Wolf.  These things were raw!  Not only that but they were raw more than once.  Ramsay is not known for his tolerance, but generally if you make a mistake and then fix it with the refire you are ok, it’s when you continue to make the same (or similar) mistakes that he goes bananas.  After seeing the second set of raw pork (which comes after the colossal failure in the boys’ kitchen by the way), he kicks everyone out of the kitchen.

Minutes later he calls everyone back down to the kitchen.  Before they get there though, he stops them in the stairwell and tells them that he and the other chefs are still cooking but that each team needs to go back to the dorms and nominate two people to go home.  This brings up a couple interesting thoughts in my mind. 

1.                            Ramsay must be incredibly pissed at this point because I have never seen him actually call the teams back and have such an impromptu meeting like that before.  Stopping them in a stairwell?  That is the actions of a guy running hot on emotions. 

2.                            I never realized that when the teams are kicked out that he and the chefs actually finish out the dinner service.  I mean, it makes sense, these people pay good money to come here, and while a lot of it may be just to catch a glimpse of themselves on TV, they also come for a high quality meal and don’t want to leave empty-handed.  No wonder Ramsay gets so pissed when he has to kick people out. 

The girls nominate fat black girl and squeaky voiced girl (who were both involved in Raw Pork-gate) with very little trouble, to everyone’s surprise I’m sure.  The guys on the other hand are just a mess.  Old guy and snooty stringbean one get into an altercation because old guy is calling him out (and keeps calling him a bitch, as if that’s the only insult he can come up with) and snooty stringbean one isn’t going to take that from an old guy that wouldn’t let him help.  I can understand old guy being mad because he’s responsible for the great boat-blimp crash of 2013, and I can also understand snooty stringbean one not wanting to be lumped in with old guy because he didn’t have total control of his own destiny.  That being said, don’t be dumbasses about it.  If you can’t get control of your emotions enough to not start a physical confrontation, you will not be able to run a kitchen.  Surprise, surprise, both old guy and snooty stringbean one were nominated from the guys’ team.  Ramsay then calls all four nominees up one by one and asks them to all take off their jackets.  He says that he is going to do something that he has never done before and then…to be continued.

Now, I have seen him send home multiple people at once, but never four people.  While the producers screwed up again and showed old guy in the promos (so we know he is safe if no one else) the others may be destined for expulsion.  Here’s a couple reasons why Ramsay might go off-model and start tossing two/three/even four people at a time (starting with at least three people here):

1.       I have rarely seen him this angry, and I’ve been watching Hell’s Kitchen for years.  He has never stopped a group in the stairwell to tell them to nominate someone.  It feels like he just wants to get this done and over with, that he doesn’t want to deal with these people one minute more than he has to. 

2.      It is well documented that this season of Hell’s Kitchen had more chefs at the outset than ever before.  I don’t think that it has any more episodes ordered than previous seasons, which would mean that if he was going to stick to the same formula of weeding it down to a final two, he would need to start shedding dead weight more frequently, or in groups.  This would be the perfect time to start.

3.      Each of these offenders is not new to criticism from Ramsay and have done anything but fly under his radar up to this point, so none would really be a surprise to see go home individually.

4.      This would be a great way to send a message to everyone else to quit fucking around and start doing your job.  Nothing says get your heads in the game like extreme terror of being fired at any second.

This week we get to learn who is sent packing and we get more VIPs that come to the restaurant and sit in the always entertaining chef’s tables.  One of them actually walks out on his meal as well, which, if that’s not a death knell for someone you haven’t been paying attention.

See you next week!