Friday, May 31, 2013

Mayonnaise

Are you worried yet?  You probably should be, no one needs that much mayonnaise.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Comic Review: The Almighties #1

                Sam Johnson either really values my opinion or he’s a masochist.  You may remember Sam as the writer of Geek-Girl and Mr. Mash-up from the review I did a couple weeks ago.  While those comics were relatively well received, they were in no way pillars of creation, so I was a little surprised when I was contacted to review Johnson’s other book: The Almighties.  I am happy to give my feedback and to publicize his work in any way possible because there needs to be more people out there that are busting their ass to get noticed, and that aren’t afraid of a little constructive criticism to improve their craft.  That being said, let’s dive right in, but first, the official stuff:


The Almighties #1 is available in regular, Ltd. Variant, and Digital/Kindle editions at http://mikegagnon.wix.com/almighties


Cover:
                The cover, by Eleonora Kortsarz and Socrates Gucor is your pretty standard first issue team shot.  It shows the five man (well, three man, one woman, one werewolf) team posed like they are ready to go into battle, or at least ready in case a battle comes to them.  The quality of the illustration is fairly well done.  There could be a little more variation in the line weights to show depth and shadow, but all in all it’s not bad.  The characters all look different enough to be distinguished as different people (though the guy in the lower left has a decidedly “Liefeldian” mouth, which isn’t a great sign).  The helmet on the guy on the left looks like it was drawn on after figuring out what the rest of his head looked like, which is a great sign, and something you would think would be a standard practice (should be but isn’t always). 

I am not wild about how the werewolf is portrayed here.  The snout is so long that I thought it was initially a horse-type hybrid creature.  Once I knew what it was, I was a bit more accepting, but the design doesn’t scream werewolf to me.  Also, on the cover, the body hair is just represented as a series of lines.  While they are at least all going in logical directions, I would have rather seen less penwork here and instead have a nice solid outline of hair here, maybe utilizing the colorist more to provide the interior details of the body hair.  It’s just an idea, but one that would have been a bit less messy.  Right now, the hair looks almost like an afterthought which is a shame as the rest of the art on the cover is fairly well crafted.

                The one thing that perplexed me about the cover was what the guy on the lower left was holding.  We eventually learn that it’s a spit with gyro meat on it, but without knowing that going in, I had to try and guess (I never guessed spit with gyro meat).  Was it a bee-hive of some sort?  Mega Man’s arm cannon covered in feces?  I really wasn’t sure.  I realize that it’s an essential weapon of the character wielding it, but it just leads to confusion until we get a little backstory.  Something seems a bit off about the anatomy of the girl on the cover but she is covered up enough by other characters where anything that’s wrong is not readily apparent. 

7/10 – It’s a solid cover with decent coloring.  Some slight changes could have pushed it over the top but it definitely does the job of piquing my interest in the characters contained within.

Story:
                The story in Geek-Girl and Mr. Mash-up were the highlight of those books.  They were decently crafted tales that gave an idea that something larger was in the works without really spoonfeeding the reader the information.  Johnson and his co-writer (Mike Gagnon on the script) runs into trouble with this book though as he telegraphs a little too much and lacks any subtlety whatsoever.  I like the fact that he starts out in the “present” before travelling back in time to find out how we got there.  That’s a good technique and the fact that he uses it to show us the team assembled and in action before we travel back to learn who they are, while not entirely original, works incredibly well.  I was lost by the “Pimm’s” reference though, is that a brand of wine or something similar to Kool-Aid? 

                The inclusion of a drooling simpleton as the butler seemed a little ridiculous until the end, but even then it seemed unnecessary.  It feels like a lot of the book is full of unnecessary things and little tangents that feel like they didn’t need to be there.  This includes the revelation that Stefanos (the guy on the cover with the gyro meat) has to keep going to his restaurant to put the French fries on, even though “French fries” is apparently code for “meet with the president”.  Except it kind of doesn’t because then he says something to the president about his French fries burning.  My question is how does he get from outside his shop (where we see him dropped off) to the white house and back? 

We are not told the origin of everyone on the team in this issue, but we are given a peek into Ms. F and her life before superheroing, and it’s silly, almost as silly as her name which she says stands for “Ms. Free” or “Ms. Fun” because she’s a “swingin’ single” since her divorce from a controlling jerk husband.  This women’s empowerment that Johnson tries to force on us only goes as far as the first couple missions as she falls all over her teammate Maxi-Tron (which I can't read without thinking of a super-powered tampon), volunteering to help him check for testicular cancer.  Yup, that happened.  The whole exchange (which takes place over two missions) feels incredibly forced and if I was anyone else on that team I would have either quit or killed those two for talking like that.   

The fact that one of the groups that The Almighties are tracking down is called F.U.C.A.S. and they work with the television station that goes by the code name A.N.U.S. is just juvenile.  It feels like this comic is straddling the line between parody and legit superhero tale without taking the plunge to either side.  The Almighties need to go after the group F.U.C.A.S. (an animal rights group) because they blew up a building, killing an old man (who was apparently about to retire, which we learn in two of the most confusing panels in the comic).  We then cut back to the present and the action, which goes about a well as you would expect from a group of superheroes attacking a bunch of guys with ski-masks.  We also get our first mention of testicular cancer as Ms. F had a rabbit that died of testicular cancer.  The fact that this little nugget of information is divulged mid-punch is just silly. 

We are then transported immediately to their second assignment, a basement where apparently all of the aliens that have inhabited earth were gathering together for one night only to discuss their plans for world domination.  At this point, I was ready to call bullshit on the leader of this group.  It all seemed too dumb to be true and how these guys kept falling for it was sad.  What is even worse is the way Johnson tried to write the exchange between the black gangsters in the club.  I understand that he was trying to write a dialect, and probably make these guys seem like creeps so we didn’t mind if they got their asses kicked by the Almighties, but it seems unbelievable and honestly, a little offensive.  I don’t get offended easily, by anything, but these few pages had me feeling like I should apologize.  We do actually get to see The Almighties do some real fighting though, which is nice…until we get to the second exchange about testicular cancer where Maxi-tron turns to a puss because his grandfather had testicular cancer and Ms. F volunteers her services.  There had to have been a better way to manufacture a romance than this.  It seems cheap, creepy and wipes away any kid of girl-power good will that Johnson built up with his introduction of Ms. F. 

We are then transported to the third assignment that involves infiltrating a coffee shop that is surrounded by barbed wire and a large fence.  Sure seems like an evil mastermind compound to me right?  Not really.  It’s actually a totally legit coffee shop run by a bunch of black guys in the middle of a KKK-esque all white neighborhood.  Talk about not knowing your clientele.  The Almighties beat the tar out of these reputable business owners until a blonde-haired white guy parachutes in and tells everyone to “chillax” (I wish I was kidding about that).  President Obama then gets on the phone with Stefanos and tells him that the team has been doing the dirty work of some radical black person-hating bigot (because black people picked on him on the playground at school).  This surprises everyone because apparently everything that has been said was taken at face value, and no one suspected that this guy was full of shit.  Apparently all of the groups that they targeted were legit (even though the animal rights guys did kill someone in the explosion as stated - which is completely glossed over by the government by the way, and the “aliens” were clearly gangsters). 

After fighting this “evil mastermind’s” henchmen, (which includes a robot that looks like Hitler and the special ed guy that is injected with a serum turning him into a werewolf), the team enacts revenge on him by letting all of the black people he captured have their way with him.    

2/10 – There are way too many coincidences and unlikable characters here to make this a good story.  Everything that happens feels like it was thrown in to be convenient with no real forethought put into the story.  The characters are barely fleshed out and much of what is developed is just plain silly.

Art:
                There are three artists on this issue, Eleonora Kortsarz handles pages one through eleven, Pablo Zambrano handles pages twelve through twenty-two and D.C. White along with Zambrano handle pages twenty-three through twenty-eight.  You can definitely tell when we switch artists as the styles are considerably different.  The fact that the interiors are fully colored is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily do much to save the artwork from being unimpressive.  None of the artists go crazy with outlandish page designs, which is a huge bonus in my book.  They stuck to the basics and I think the book is better because of it. 

                That’s the thing, there is nothing truly “wrong” with the art.  It does lack a sense of dynamism though, even during the fight scenes where you would expect at least some level of that.  T here is an overabundance of mid-range camera shots, but they are broken up a bit here and there and we even  get some down-shots thrown in there.  The coloring is inconsistent as well.  I know, it’s done by two different people but I would hope that an editor would be able to catch that and at least ask for touch-ups.  In the beginning it is well done and serviceable, but as the artists change, the quality of the colors do as well. 

The fact that there are three jump-cuts in three panels makes this page uber confusing.  It's hard to blow something up and have us recognize it if we've never actually seen it whole (and no, writing lab in big blue letters as if that's all that survived the explosion does not help) 



This occurs over three separate battles, and just highlights how horrible the relationship between these two characters is.  Who talks like that?  It sounds like a transcipt from a porno.


Yup, the whitest guy in the room just said "Prez" Obama and "Chillax".  


And that's a werewolf and a Hitler robot because...of course it is

5/10 – It’s not the worst I have ever seen, by far, but it is closer to a fan-comic than a professional book.

Overall:  4/10 – If you want an Actuality Pres comic, I would still suggest picking up Geek-GirlThe Almighties needs a lot of fine tuning before it is ready for public consumption in my opinion.  The fact that it came out before Geek-Girl does show me that Johnson has made significant strides as a writer and I am more interested in his new stuff.

Album Review: Black Sabbath – Never Say Die (1978)


Overview: 
                The wheels had finally come off the bus.  Between Ozzy quitting the band before recording the album (only to rejoin days before the recording process started, only to throw out all of the songs recorded with fill in vocalist Dave Walker) and rampant substance abuse that rendered the band ineffective for days on end, it’s a surprise that Never Say Die was actually created at all. 

Tracks you may know: 
“Never Say Die”:  The bass line is phenomenal, and the general musicianship is still as good as ever, but it’s in the same pop-infused mold that Technical Ecstasy adopted.  Iommi doesn’t sound as interested as he has in the past either, almost like he can see the writing on the wall and doesn’t want to put his best stuff in a sinking ship. 

Tracks you should know:
There are no tracks here that I would recommend.  I would be supremely disappointed if I was waiting at the record store in 1978 to buy this album and this is what I received.  

My personal favorite:
“Never Say Die”: And that’s only by virtue of a “best of the worst” kind of scoring system.

Album rating: 
                At this point, Ozzy leaving the band was the best for all parties involved as Dio came in to Black Sabbath and reenergized them, while Ozzy’s partnership with Randy Rhoades had the same effect.  This is not the best album in Sabbath’s catalog by a long shot.  Hell, it’s not even that good.  It does show where the band was at the time though, and how important it was for all parties involved to split up and try something different. 

2/10

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Big Plans for Visa

I have no idea what the end game was for Sluggy's previous two schemes, but his plans for Visa will be revealed shortly so stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hell’s Kitchen Episode Twelve: A True Villain Emerges


                It could be said that this season of Hell’s Kitchen is filled with villains, almost like a Survivor-esque stunt of some sort.  I wouldn’t necessarily debate that point too much (though squeaky voice and Mr. Mohawk have done a good job of playing the game the right way, much like old guy (pour one out!) did during his time in the kitchen).  This episode took a WWE-type turn that really drove home the fact that one of the contestants is a true “bad guy” (at least in terms of this show).  Who is that chef?  Like the producers of Hell’s Kitchen I will string you along for a bit before I tell you, unlike the producers of Hell’s Kitchen, I’ll actually tell you.

                We start off this episode with Ramsay telling the red team to take their heads out of their collective asses and come to a consensus as to who is going over to the blue kitchen.  No more of this “we picked a name out of a hat because we all wanted to be a hero” bullshit.  The red team comes to the consensus that they are exiling fat black girl to the island of misfit toys that is currently the blue team.  The blue team, obviously, can’t be happier that they are getting the queen of the hissy fit on their team.  Fat black girl does some bitching about not wanting to lose challenges, blah blah blah (at this point I have to tune her out or start sharpening my toothbrush for ear drum penetration).

                The next morning, the chefs are greeted with their next reward challenge.  They will be cooking an ethnic dish in a head-to-head style competition between the teams. Ramsay asks one of the chefs who they want to cook against, then they spin the “Wheel-O-Countries” and land on a type of food.  The four cuisines that are selected are Indian, Greek, Thai and Japanese.  Of course blonde girl has to say something stupid and end it with “konichiwa” like she’s in the back of a middle school history class.  She’s dumb, and I hate her probably more than anyone I have ever witnessed in this competition.  Sometimes being a chef means you have to be a bad person (well, you don’t have to but a lot of them are) but she takes the taco. 

                We also get the standard “I’ve never cooked that kind of dish before” from at least half of the chefs.  I’ll admit, I’ve never cooked any of those kinds of dishes before either, but I’m also not on a show where I’m expected to know what I’m doing.  I’ll give you a quick run-down of how the challenge goes, leaving out the point where blonde girl is perplexed by the rice cooker and squeaky voice burns her rice for her Indian dish.  Mr. Mohawk beats squeaky voice on the Indian dish, and I’m not sure if the rice would have saved her as the judges (Ramsay and a big cheese at the Rachel Ray magazine) really liked Mr. Mohawk’s dish. From there, it’s all downhill for the blue team.  Mixed up Cyndi beats guy that doesn’t get a petname in the Greek challenge (not by much, and he’s clearly the second best chef on the blue team), fat black girl gets trounced by skinny black girl when it comes to Thai food (mainly because fat black girl’s dish doesn’t taste like Thai food and the big cheese from the Rachel Ray magazine nearly had an orgasm while eating the dish from skinny black girl), and loud guy gets beat by blonde girl on Japanese cuisine.  The best part is that when she picked him for the head-to-head, he got all butt-hurt and couldn’t believe that she would do so, that apparently it was surely going to be a loss for her.  Granted, this was before they knew that they were cooking Japanese food, and way before he decided to place overdone, dry chicken in his dish (how often do you see chicken in Japanese cooking? (not often).  His dish was terrible and the red team rightfully won this round.  It sucks because Mr. Mohawk seems like the strongest chef in the competition at this point (followed very closely by squeaky voice) but he’s stuck with the single worst team in the history of this show.  I feel bad for him, but at the same time, he signed up to be on Hell’s Kitchen, so I don’t feel too bad for him.

                The red team gets a $500.00 shopping spree ($2000.00 total split four ways) which Ramsay just takes out of his pocket and hands over.  This fucking guy.  I bet he gets off on moments like this – that and calling people donkey.  The blue team gets to prep both kitchens for dinner service that night, while also polishing the stemware and moving in many, many cases of wine.  It’s not the worst punishment, but it doesn’t make it any easier that fat black girl just doesn’t want to help.  The guys move all the wine in by themselves and when they sit down to clean the stemware they are accosted by her bitching about their kitchen and their cooking practices, with that being the reason they keep losing.  She’s talking like her dish was perfect and everyone else let her down.  Someone needs to just hit her.  Please. 

                The red team comes back and gets dressed for the dinner service.  As Hell’s Kitchen is about to open, fat black girl has still not finished prepping her station.  To top it off, she won’t let anyone else help her, and once the cooking starts she continues to try and go it alone, refusing help from anyone else, regardless of the fact that she’s sinking like a stone.  She’s not doing well at all, and I’d like to say that the other members of her team pick up the slack and are able to finish dinner service successfully, but they never get the chance.  Ramsay kicks them all out before they can even send out all of the appetizers.

                Over in the red kitchen it’s not much better.  This is where our true villain emerges.  Blonde girl does what she always does and just goes about her business, expecting other people to play catch-up, and letting them take the fall when stuff goes wrong.  This week’s recipient of that is skinny black girl.  She is on the fish station which means that she needs to send up the scallops to coincide with the rest of the appetizers (a station being manned by blonde girl).  Of course, this is when blonde girl pulls her shit and doesn’t tell skinny black girl that her food is almost ready to go, which means that skinny black girl has to drop her scallops and rush them.  Instead of facing the wrath of Ramsay for not coming up together, and then being able to turn that around on blonde girl and her poor leadership, skinny black girl decides that the best course of action is to only cook the scallops on one side and…hope that Ramsay doesn’t see it?  Really?  That’s your endgame here?  Hoping that the chef with the highest standards of any I have ever seen doesn’t perform the simple task of flipping over the scallops?  I get it, it’s a spur of the moment decision and it’s one thing to be able to watch it play out in front of you on the television and a completely different thing to actually be there when it’s happening.  That being said, it was still a stupid move, though one that was predicated by blonde girl being a horrible person.  To top it off, blonde girl gets in the “confessional” and talks even more about how it’s not her job to help anyone along.  I can’t wait until Ramsay exposes her for the fraud she really is.

                Somehow, someway, the appetizers leave the kitchen which I guess just proves that being a horrible person and a terrible leader doesn’t mean you can’t cook.  When entrees start coming out, Ramsay loses it though.  The fish is raw.  This also falls on skinny black girl, and it is actually all her fault this time.  At this point, Ramsay has already banished the blue team, so his tolerance level is at a low point.  You can see him start to crack before he just kicks the red team out.  It’s almost like watching Roger Rabbit drink alcohol.

                The best part of this episode is watching the chef on each team that is the absolute worst (blonde girl and fat black girl) try and explain that they aren’t.  It’s a little easier for blonde girl because she makes other people fuck up while fat black girl just does it all herself, but still.  Trying to say that she is a better all-around chef than skinny black girl?  Come on.  Luckily the red team puts her up for elimination anyway.  Fat black girl goes absolutely bananas when the possibility of being put up for elimination comes up.  It apparently doesn’t matter that the dinner service didn’t even make it past her station.  She keeps saying that loud guy was sabotaging her (which he denies and we are not shown any evidence to support her claim).  She screams and storms off, saying that she will not be put up for elimination, which is silly because she is obviously outvoted.  We get to elimination and blonde girl doesn’t understand why she is being put up (Ramsay doesn’t either but he also hasn’t seen the tape of how truly horrible she is) and when Mr. Mohawk replies that fat black girl is being put up for elimination she responds with “no”.  As if that will save her.  She’s acting like a fucking child and it’s such a relief when she gets sent home.  No more bitching and complaining, no more talk about her hoo-ha, as one of the blue team exclaims after being dismissed “ding dong the witch is dead”. 

                Next episode claims that one of the chefs does something truly horrible and blah blah blah, you can’t trust the promos for this show, so instead just watch it to see Ramsay lose his mind.

Album Review: Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy (1976)



Overview: 
                According to pretty much everyone, Sabotage was the last “great” Black Sabbath album, as tension within the band and substance abuse had a hand in derailing one of the most successful bands of the era.  The entire album is much lighter in nature, not nearly as gloomy as past albums were.  Hell, it even included a piano-led song that would sound more appropriate on a Beatles record than a Sabbath one.  The band still show they are experts on their respective instruments, but the cohesion as a band is not as evident as it used to be, with many of the songs almost feeling like they are going through the motions and not be nearly as mentally involved as they were in the past.

Tracks you may know: 
“It’s Alright”:  I like the song, just not as a Sabbath song.  It would make a great Beatles tune and you can see their influence here.  Bill Ward does a great job both on the drums and singing here, but it just feels like the least Black Sabbath in an album full of non-Black Sabbath tracks. 

“Dirty Women”:  A staple of the live set, this track is one of the most “Sabbathy” sounding ones on the record (probably why it has passed the test of time.

Tracks you should know:
“All Moving Parts (Stand Still)”:  It has a nice, bass-led groove to it and Ozzy doesn’t oversell the vocals.  This is a good song, and might be a highlight on anyone else’s album. 

“She’s Gone”:  It honestly feels more like Ozzy’s solo stuff (especially his stuff from Blizzard of Oz) than it does a Sabbath track.  It’s sad and gloomy, just not with the same weight that you would find in an earlier Sabbath release.

My personal favorite:
“Dirty Women”:  This is the only song that really feels like it could be transplanted onto any of Sabbath’s later records (anything post Master of Reality).  It has the right tempo, not upbeat or poppy like “Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor” or straight up out of character like “It’s Alright”, to be a classic Sabbath song. 

Album rating: 
                It’s not the worst album I have ever heard, but it’s not up to the high bar Sabbath set for itself in the earlier stages.  I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of drugs or band in-fighting for the poor musical direction that this album took.  As other bands were popping up that were going heavier as a result of Sabbath’s influence, they mellowed out considerably.  Unfortunately Technical Ecstasy is more filler than hit.
4/10

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Problem with Wiener Dogs

It's true, they pee on everything.  If you own a wiener dog and haven't been peed on yet, buy a poncho because the monsoon is coming.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The hunter...hunts


I shit you not, this is a true story:
My girlfriend and I were unable to care for our dog Cash (who Visa is modeled after) in the way that he should have been cared for.  Because of this, he went to live with my parents who had other dogs and lots of land for Cash to run around on.  Cash was outside chasing the other dogs, just playing around and having a good time, when the other dogs led him off into the woods.  The other dogs came running back out a short time later and left him alone out there.  I'm not sure if it was a dog-based frat prank or what, but it worked.  Cash was lost out in the woods for  quite awhile as both of my parents searched for him.  I don't remember if it was one of my parents, or the neighbor that found him, but the story plays out pretty much like  you see it above.  The little wiener dog was found chasing a full grown deer.
Dog will hunt.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Comic Review - The Sixth Gun #31


                I’ve heard good things about The Sixth Gun from Oni Press.  Why I’ve waited this long to review it I have no idea, but here we go.


Cover:
                The cover gimmick, using the title to separate two different, but related, images is a great effect.  I don’t remember seeing it utilized quite in that way.  In fact the closest I can think of is some of the more recent (and by recent I mean in the last two years or so) Invincible covers where Ryan Ottley would draw the primary image on the cover and leave a square for Cory Walker to draw a separate image pertaining to the part of the story that he was drawing (or vice versa).  That was part of the plan though as they each drew a separate story within that universe, Ottley drawing the adventures of the titular hero while Walker drew (if I remember correctly) a story involving Robot and Monster Girl in a different dimension.

                What I am trying to say is that I have seen the cover gimmick used in a fashion but not quite in this way, and I really like it.  Artist Brian Hurtt and colorist Bill Crabtree do an excellent job of setting a mood for the comic while also telling a story on the cover at the same time.  It’s not readily apparent whether the evil characters of the top panel are chasing the female figure in the bottom, but you can kind of assume that they will be.  The fact that the movement in each panel is going from left to right helps (and I shouldn’t have to say that but there are some covers/panels that get that wrong.  Hurtt situated everything perfectly so that no pertinent information is lost by the large logo (which I am quite fond of) and nothing is obscured.  Of course, he’s been doing this for 31 issues so far, I would assume that he’s got this down to a science by now. 

                While the cover tells a story, it leaves quite a bit of mystery as well.  Who are the evil characters in the top panel?  For that matter, who is the girl in the bottom panel?  I assume that it’s the main character, but you never know. Also, what is the shadow in the cave?  So much mystery and honestly, more story than you find in some comic books contained right on the cover. 

                The art itself is top notch.  I love the framing using the silhouetted trees in the bottom panel, and hiding half of the girl in the shadows, as if she’s emerging into a clearing to go to the ominous red cave (why would anyone willingly go into the red cave?)  I will get into this more when I talk about the interior art, but Hurtt has a certain quality about his work that reminds me of Jeff Smith.  Maybe it’s the locale brings to mind the setting of Bone, but from the first few pages I was hooked.  The only complaint I have (and it’s minimal) is that the blue of the logo is a little too similar to the purple of the rock.  Where the top panel separates itself from the logo, the bottom panel tends to blend in a little too much.

9/10 – Hurtt can teach a class on mood, storytelling and composition based on the cover work alone.  Crabtree (as always) delivers a well-colored, expressive piece.

Story:
                This is issue two of the “Ghost Dance” storyline.  That being said, I had a bit of dread in the back of my mind when I picked it up.  Being thrown into the middle of a story usually means that the reader is lost in terms of the characters and the story.  Compound this with the fact that the we are on issue thirty-one, and it was double dread.  Hey look, there’s a recap page that also has a handy character guide.  Cullen Bunn, you’ve thought of everything, haven’t you?  Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s see how the rest of the book stacks up, as a good comic is not made from just a solid recap-page. 

                The first thing I noticed (in terms of the writing at least) is how old-school this felt.  Things were explained, character’s names were thrown about freely, introducing everyone organically within the flow of the story, but definitely introducing them nonetheless.  There were even narration boxes!  This is like seeing a tiger in the wild.  You hear that they are out there but until you see one yourself it’s all speculation.  Bunn also creates a decent balance as in the beginning, when exposition is needed, it is given in spades.  When the action starts toward the middle of the book, the writing starts to fizzle out, to give way to the action.  It’s almost as if Bunn and Hurtt had an agreement where each got half the book to showcase their talents.  You can definitely see the two creators working in harmony, each with a respect for the other’s individual talents.

                I was a little confused as to the inclusion of dragons on the last page as (main character) Becky is journeying through the spirit world, but I have absolute faith that this will be explained next issue.  Bunn has done a stellar job of building a world and giving it weight and consequence.
9/10 – I’m already kind of a sucker for westerns, so the score was probably going to be inflated a bit because of that.  I honestly enjoyed the comic though.  It did one thing that many comics nowadays fail to do which is pull a new reader in in the middle of a storyline by providing a solid issue that doesn’t take an intimate knowledge of the characters to understand and appreciate.

Art:
                As I stated above, Hurtt’s artwork has a very Jeff Smith quality to it in terms of the pacing and the storytelling.  The artistic style itself is reminiscent of the Bone and Rasl creator and I have a feeling if the color was removed it would feel even closer to that.  The characters all have their own personalities; no one is a throwaway, cookie-cutter type and you can see that in the way that they are illustrated.  Each individual is just that, from their height to their facial features and expressions, you can see that time was spent in crafting these characters instead of just giving one a black hat and one a brown hat. 

                Hurtt handles both the text heavy first half and the more action oriented second half with equal amounts of ease and professionalism.  With some artists you can tell that they either do the action sequences first because it’s more fun, or they just put more effort into them because they know that those pages will sell better (and for more) as original art than a bunch of talking heads would.  I don’t get that vibe from Hurtt (at least on this issue) as he treats each panel and each page as if it is the most important one in the series, much less the book itself.  This is how it should be, obviously, and the fact that Hurtt is not only an incredible talent, but obviously a professional about his artwork puts him well above many of the other artists out there that probably have much higher-profile jobs. 

                I also want to mention Bill Crabtree on the colors.  I’ve known about Crabtree for quite some time as he was the colorist of Invincible for a long time, and he has always been great at his job.  The Sixth Gun seems to offer even more for him to play with in terms of creating a mood using color (especially in this issue).  Between switching between the two worlds as well as using more “traditional” light sources such as fire and natural light, it creates a different, weightier aesthetic than his traditional superhero work did.  I haven’t been witness to Crabtree’s entire career arc, but I would venture a guess that this is some of the best work of his career.


Is it just me or does that look like a zombie George Washington?



This is probably my favorite beat of the whole comic, and what really reminded me of Bone



Just look at the characters represented here and tell me that Hurtt doesn't have a knack for unique character design.


This is a great page.  It doesn't require dialogue to tell the story because Hurtt does an incredible job of showing us who Becky is and her true character.

10/10 – Absolutely superb.  In the hands of a less-capable couple of artists, this would be a hard book to like, but Hurtt and Crabtree do an astounding job of not only telling the story, but showcasing their talent at the same time. 

Overall:  9/10 – Go buy this book.  In fact, go buy issues one through thirty as well.  I have a feeling I will be doing so very soon.  


Album Review: Black Sabbath – Sabotage (1975)




Overview: 
                Regardless of the critical acclaim that came with the experimentation involved in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Black Sabbath decided to go back to their roots and make a rock record.  That is exactly what they got, filling the record with some of the heaviest tracks of their career.  This was the first Sabbath album I owned on my own (primarily because no one else I knew had it so I couldn’t listen to it any other way).  Between this and my mother’s copy of Paranoid, I was completely hooked.

Tracks you may know: 
“Symptom of the Universe”:  This song has crunchy, grunge-like guitars before anyone knew what grunge was.  Again, Bill Ward excels on the drums.  The way the song gallops along, you can almost hear where Iron Maiden (who formed the year Sabotage was released) would get their sound from.

“Hole in the Sky”:  The opening track on the album hits you hard right away.  This is not going to be another Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.  One of the most straightforward rockers in Sabbath’s catalog.

Tracks you should know:
“Thrill of it All”:  The opening guitar lick is worth the price of admission, but the entire song is a hidden gem.  It does sound like the guitar was cranked way up on the track though, as the drum and bass guitar parts are not as easy to hear as in other Sabbath songs.  

“The Writ”:  Ozzy stretches a bit on the vocals, but the way he uses the guitar as a backdrop and sings over it is a departure for Ozzy as a musician, and makes for a more interesting song as a whole.

My personal favorite:
“Hole in the Sky”:  There’s something to be said for hitting the audience with your best stuff from the get-go and Sabbath does just that with this track.  It’s heavy, it’s loud, and it does the job of washing the taste of synthesizers out of your mouth.

Album rating: 
                Going back to basics was not a hindrance at all as Sabbath again received critical acclaim for Sabotage.  The instrumental tracks on this album are not nearly as good as the ones in the past, but the high points are just as high, if not higher than their past releases.  This is not to the overall caliber of the first three albums, but it is definitely more consistent than Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
7/10

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hell’s Kitchen Episodes Ten and Eleven: Mass Exodus


                If you’re a fan of Hell’s Kitchen, last week was a treat.  A double dose of love, Gordon Ramsay style.  If you like watching good chefs cook and genuine, good people in front of the TV camera, last week was excruciating.  This recap may be a bit longer because of the inclusion of both episodes, but bear with me, it’s a fun time had by all (except for Ramsay…naturally).

                When last we left off, Ramsay was “not done” in terms of sending people home.  He made good on his promise this week as douchey hair grand champion was sent packing.  This is tantamount to a mercy killing in my book though as that poor bastard was just floundering for the last few weeks.  I believe it all got to be too much for him and with a fresh start, in a place without the kind of intense pressure/scrutiny of a Gordon Ramsay operation, douchey hair grand champion will thrive.  I give him a lot of credit for trying to turn things around, for taking a drastic step like shaving off something that had been his trademark, just to kickstart his abilities.  It didn’t work and he got sent home…c’est la vie.

                The reward challenge this episode included making a dish that is not only delicious, but visually appealing as well.  To judge the dish, Ramsay invited back a big cheese from People Magazine.  The winning team would be featured in the magazine and the best overall dish from the winning team would also find its way into the magazine along with a spotlight on the chef who made it.  The catch here is that Ramsay was only going to choose the three best looking dishes from each team (out of five) to evaluate their taste.  The dishes all look visually appealing, except for old guy’s stuffed lobster.  I have to agree with Ramsay here, it looked like an alien, like it was going to jump up off the plate and attach to your face.  I understand what he was trying to do, and maybe that looks good in Boston, but everywhere else, it’s just silly.  In my opinion, if it’s not edible, something that large should not be on the plate.  It’s one thing to have a lobster tail with the meat attached, it’s another to serve a lobster dish in the hollowed out lobster carcass.  You’re better than that old guy; get your head in the game.

                Surprise, surprise, the girls win again.  It’s not even the guys shooting themselves in the foot this time, they straight up got out-cooked.  The only one that didn’t was Mr. Mohawk, who had the highest rated dish of the entire competition, but didn’t make it into the magazine because his team lost.  Mr. Mohawk is setting himself up as a frontrunner right now.  No one else, in either kitchen, seems to be as consistent as he is, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the last guy standing on a team full of girls.  The ultimate winner is squeaky voice as her dish is deemed the best of the three that gets put up.  She is also someone that I can see making it to the end, and if the final showdown is between her and Mr. Mohawk, I would be okay with that.  The girls head off to their reward while the guys get the “pleasure” of doing the annual dorm cleanup.  This is one of the worst punishments, and at this point I have a feeling that the chefs on this show just do stupid shit in the dorms in the hopes that their team doesn’t get stuck with the cleanup punishment.

                Speaking of that, when the guys were stripping the beds of their linens, they found half eaten cookies in one of the beds.  I’ll give you three guesses as to which of the women sleep eats…yup, you guessed it right on the first try!  They even showed a video of fat black girl doing it.  She is just everything that is wrong with humanity.  The guys finish their dirty job, and the girls come back, all made up from their photo shoot.  They look good and you can tell that the guys are paying a bit more attention to them than they normally would.  Everyone settles in to a relaxing night out of the kitchen when they get a phone call from Ramsay, telling them to come to his office as he has an announcement to make.  While Hell’s Kitchen is closed in terms of regular dinner service that night, Ramsay is opening it up for a special dinner for two tables of twelve.  They are honoring returning members of the Army and their families.  Should be easy, right?  One table of twelve for each kitchen, five total courses, with each chef taking the reins on a course.  What could go wrong?

                The dinner service is actually pretty well done, with the main issues being the fact that loud guy and old guy do not work well together, to the point that loud guy actually purposefully sabotages old guy with cold lobster for his lobster spaghetti.  That is the only real problem all night in the blue kitchen.  Over in the red kitchen however, the night starts out poorly when fat black girl decides to add more water to her pasta pot.  That’s okay in theory, but she adds cold water to the pot and then places the pasta in.  Anyone that knows anything about cooking knows that that just doesn’t work.  Not only does cold water not cook anything, but leaving pasta in there as it heats up is not good for the pasta either.  The red kitchen is falling behind (both tables of twelve need to be served together, prompting the two kitchens to need to talk to each other) and Ramsay actually has to step in and show the girls how to boil water quickly (tightly wrapping the top of the pot in aluminum foil) just so they can get the dish out on time.  Of course the fact that loud guy is a moron and is doing more harm than good to old guy’s pasta dish helps the red kitchen get their dishes out slightly ahead of the blue kitchen.  And, of course, one of the plates in the blue kitchen comes back with way underdone spaghetti.  Old guy gets on it quickly, but then loud guy sabotages him, which means that the remaining lobster spaghetti exits the kitchen around three courses too late (it does exit though, small victory!)

                The other courses go up without incident, which is nice to see, for once.  The final course is steak, which if you’ve been paying attention is no slam dunk for these chefs.  The blue kitchen handles the steak just fine, but the red kitchen, led by blonde dumbass on the steak entrĂ©e, is having even more trouble.  She needs more time, asking the blue kitchen for an additional seven minutes of time, which the blue kitchen grants her.  She then realizes the steak still won’t be done and asks the blue kitchen for five more minutes, something the guys can’t do without sending up overdone meat.  Ramsay lays into her with the usual “get your head out of your ass” speak and she eventually gets her steak out.

                Ramsay is not happy with the service though (even though by these chefs’ standards this was a success) and so each team has to nominate one person to go up.  The red team chooses fat black girl because asking for more time on steak is not nearly as rookie of a mistake as trying to boil pasta in cold water.  The best part is, fat black girl gets all upset about being put up, like she didn’t do anything wrong!  This girl is delusional, and how she is even still in the competition I don’t know.  The guys choose to put old guy up, though it was really close between him and loud guy.  Of course when loud guy hears his name come up as a possibility he flies off the handle.  I fucking hate that guy.  At elimination, when Ramsay hears of loud guy’s sabotage, he invites him up with old guy and fat black girl.  Ramsay then sends old guy home.  This sucks, and you can see that Ramsay respects old guy because we see our first handshake of the season upon elimination.  Old guy was not the best chef there, and just about every dinner service he made at least one mistake, but he was not the worst, and better yet, aside from that one blow up a couple weeks ago, he played the game with integrity and class.  You will be missed, old guy.  Please join me in pouring one out for him.  May he come back and kick ass when it’s time for the final two to choose their brigades.

                Wait, I’m at over 1400 words and that’s just the first hour?  Christ.  I told you this would take awhile.  Strap in for hour two!

                The remaining chefs head back up to the dorms to get some sleep after the elimination of old guy (pour one out!) and are rudely awoke at around 430am by Ramsay’s two assistants blaring air horns and banging on pots.  It’s fun to see people aroused from their slumber in the meanest way possible.  The only thing that was missing was having a large bucket of ice water dumped on them…maybe next week.  Everyone is summoned downstairs because it is time for the annual tradition of having the teams create their own menus.  They have a short amount of time to actually come up with the ideas for four appetizers, four entrees and two desserts, then they need to utilize all the prep time to not only prep all of the ingredients for the dishes but make samples for Ramsay to taste and judge.   This goes great for the blue team as their menu is incredibly well received by Ramsay (to the point of being a surprise to everyone).  The red team just does a piss-poor job of devising a diverse and appetizing menu.  It doesn’t help that fat black girl decided to devote all of her time to her gumbo dish and didn’t help out her teammates, but still, the blue team put together a good menu with four people, the red team should be able to as well.  Ramsay asks them to alter their dishes a bit, to make them more appealing in the short time before dinner service (he doesn’t really ask so much as demand, but to him that’s kind of like asking). 

                Because the menus are their own, there is a heightened sense of responsibility, that they should be able to get the work done quickly and up to Ramsay’s standards because they aren’t cooking someone else’s dishes this time.  Each kitchen has minor issues to deal with during service, issues that should be corrected by now but aren’t like raw food going up, cold sauces, etc.  The blue team fails miserably though.  Their entire service is fraught with raw food.  Loud guy sends up raw pork, snooty stringbean two sends up raw fish, it’s sad, and contributes to Ramsay labeling them the losing team.  It should also be noted that snooty stringbean two, after failing on multiple attempts to correctly cook fish, is sent on a timeout at the bar.  An actual timeout, with a timer and everything!  This begs the question, why have they not tried to shoehorn Ramsay’s talents into a show about a struggling daycare?  I would watch the shit out of Ramsay calling a four year old a “fucking donkey”.  The blue team is tasked with coming to a consensus as to the one person that should be going home.  While they are deliberating this, the red team is called into Ramsay’s office and is given the assignment of finding one person to switch to the blue team (as that team will be down to three members as opposed to the five on the red). 

                Everyone on the red team wants to look like a leader, so they all volunteer for this assignment.  After drawing names out of a hat it’s mixed up Cyndi that gets the boot over to the sinking blue ship.  Of course when Ramsay asks the red team if they came to a consensus, something that he required for this decision, they say no and explain that they drew a name out of a hat.  Just say yes!  Damn.  Don’t make things harder on yourself by everyone trying to look like the hero.  This pisses Ramsay off to no end because it’s clear that they cannot take direction.  This is even worse because right before that, the blue team proved that they were also incapable of the simple task of coming to a consensus.  The votes were split down the middle, two for loud guy because he is a terrible person and two for snooty stringbean two because he kept sending up crap fish.  Ramsay is pissed at this turn of events, and sends snooty stringbean two home.  At this point it is incredibly apparent that loud guy is being kept around because he is an instigator.  He is the Elise for this season (the mouthy bitch that loved to cause trouble a few years ago that somehow stayed around until nearly the end). That is the only way that he can be put up for elimination three straight times, be reviled by his teammates, lie to Ramsay about all the dishes on the menu being his idea, and still come out unscathed.  That’s not even counting the stupid alter ego he came up with for himself (which I do not care enough to remember, to tell you the truth).  Loud guy is like a cockroach, he just won’t die. 

                This week fat black girl loses her cool and someone from the past may be let back in the competition.  I don’t know what’s going on, all I do know is that reaction shots of the current chefs show them all with wide eyes, so this has to be good…right?  Please? 

                See you next week!

*Edit - If you are following along at home, please note that Hell's Kitchen looks to have moved to Thursdays at 8pm on Fox for at least the next two weeks.  I'll still update on Tuesdays just in case it moves back, but if you want to watch it yourself, please note the time change.

Album Review: Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)



Overview: 
                This album was a bit more “complicated” than its predecessors.  By that, I mean that where the other albums were straightforward metal, Sabbath introduced synthesizers and string arrangements here that altered their sound a bit.  This is not the same Black Sabbath that you were used to hearing on the previous albums.  This was a more ambitious record, one that was actually well received by music critics (a first for Sabbath back then!) and was not as “doom and gloom” as the first four records.

Tracks you may know: 
“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”:  That opening guitar lick, followed by Ozzy’s wail.  Good lord.  This is probably the closest that the entire album gets to its predecessors, and is the purest “Sabbath-Sound” on the record. 

“Sabbra Cadabra”:  Opens with great, fast, kind of bluesy riffing, just faster than you would expect.  This is Sabbath at its best.  Between the slow, methodical title track and the speedier “Sabbra Cadabra” it runs the gamut of Sabbath’s past.  The synthesizer break isn’t anything write home about, and the inclusion of the keyboard is not entirely necessary, but when it rocks, it rocks hard and fast, as it should.

Tracks you should know:
“Spiral Architect”:  This is a song that utilizes more than just the traditional bass-drums-guitar formula of previous Sabbath songs, and does so in a grand way.  It’s an epic song and feels like one of the most genuinely uplifting tracks of the entire Sabbath catalog.  It’s a departure from the band’s tradition and may not be for everyone, but it is an interesting bit of experimentation. 

My personal favorite:
“Sabbra Cadabra”:  It’s light and fun while also being fast and heavy.  Each musician is on top of their game on this track (even Ozzy doesn’t sound like he’s reaching too far beyond his vocal comfort zone like he does on much of the album) and it just creates a great track.

Album rating: 
                This is not as complete of an album of the first three as a couple of the songs fall into more of a “filler” category.  It is a generally enjoyable album though and yields an instant classic in “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.
6/10

Monday, May 20, 2013

Crash Helmet

That's one thing that always used to happen with our wiener dog, Cash.  He loved to jump but he could rarely reach his destination without assistance.  That being said, owners of wiener dogs, be wary of this because of the wear and tear on their back.  Poor Cash wound up in a wheelchair in part because of his constant jumping on and off furniture.  If it wasn't for a miraculous recovery he would still be in his wheelchair today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Crockpot

This is in no way a suggestion to try shoving your own dog in a crockpot, not that the Humane Society reads Eat @ Shrimpy's or anything but crazier things have happened (big shout out to all those looking for midget porn that found this site instead!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comic Review - He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #2


                First of all, do not confuse this with the earlier review I did for He-Man comics from DC.  That was a limited series that apparently sold so well (it’s hard to imagine why) that it was turned into a regular series, now on its second issue.  Let’s see if this one is any better than the previous one (with pretty much the same creative team).


Cover:
                While I’m not a huge fan of the character redesigns, I like the cover itself.  This whole grim and gritty thing just doesn’t work for me on this particular title, and the character designs are a big part of that.  The cover by Howard Porter works very well as the villains definitely look imposing as they are crushing the titular hero.  However, the characters that are crushing the hero are Skeletor’s minions…that are nowhere to be found in the issue at all, so that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in terms of relating to the interiors. They are partnered with Adora, who is part of the Horde (Hordak’s gang) so that makes even less sense as to why this pairing would happen.  I kind of understand that the rest of the Horde has yet to be revealed and you may not want to do that on a cover, but stranger things have happened.   That being said, with what Porter is given , he does a great job of making it dynamic as well as highlighting Adora, who is the villain but will probably become the star of the book when she switches to She-Ra.  How does he do this you ask?  Look at the strategic placement of the swords held by He-Man, Adora and Tri-Clops.  I didn’t catch it at first but it is absolutely there.  The coloring is a little too muted, and doesn’t do much to pop, but it’s definitely better than many I have seen. 

6/10 – Good, not great but faaaaar better than the cover for the previous issue two.  I would like to see this as a print as I have a feeling that once the logos and corporate bullshit is removed and we can see all of the characters it will be even more impressive.

Story:
                 I have not been a fan of Keith Giffen’s treatment of these characters from the get-go.  The story in the limited series was creative and interesting enough to at least cause me to consider (along with my loyalty to the character) picking up this series.  However he seems to be repeating that story here, just with a different villain and showing us more of the setup.  Heroes are outmanned and outmuscled by their opponents and after getting beaten down, they must fight back.  That’s it.  The only difference between the two is that he had to give the characters amnesia in the limited series so that he could find a reason to reintroduce them all.  He doesn’t have to do that here so instead we get to see the conflict from the beginning.  Let me guess the next story arc, villains attack and overtake the heroes who in turn have to band together to mount a resistance.  Nailed it.

                Not only do we get a recycled plot, we are subjected to characters that are not themselves.  If Giffen was to write Superman and he didn’t sound like Superman, DC would throw a fit (especially with the movie coming out), but he can write Teela as a dumbass bitch and it’s okay?  She has always been written as a strong-willed take no prisoners kind of character, which is what always put her at odds with Adam who when he wasn’t He-Man was a slack-ass act before you think kind of guy.  When she goes on a tirade in this issue about how she wishes that anyone but Mekaneck would have escaped the city massacre because his powers aren’t “useful” it reeks of either Giffen not understanding the characters or he is using Teela as a mouthpiece to make fun of the property itself (something he also does when He-Man says that Hordak and people from another dimension are silly, to which King Randor states that a lot of things on Eternia are silly too).  I understand what he could be doing in both instances, Teela could be knocking Mekaneck down so that he can swoop in and save the day later in the arc, and Randor could be telling the audience that just because things seem silly doesn’t make them not real.  The problem is that the delivery is way off, particularly with the fact that the “old” Teela would be thinking of ways to utilize Mekaneck, not belittle him; plus Giffen has done so much to bastardize this property up to this point that it’s hard to take this as anything but a mocking tone. 

1/10 – The story would be fine if I didn’t just see the same damn thing in the last mini-series.  The voices of the characters are all wrong as well.  They deserve so much better than that.

Art:
                The art by Pop Mahn is actually pretty good (and is a huge step up from where it was at the beginning of the limited series.  I think the fact that the hair is not inked but is just colored with an outline that is the same color as the hair (it’s hard to describe, but take a look at it and you’ll see what I mean) is silly.  I’m not sure what it really brings to the table and if it is just a “style” thing, then it’s a style I find unimpressive.  The female characters look a little too skinny, unnaturally so and it doesn’t make sense how they can generate much power with such slight frames.  The sequence where Teela is grabbed and hurled off the roof is so unbelievable that I’m surprised it made it past the editor (ok, not really surprised) as it looks like Adora flicks her wrist and sends Teela hurtling off the rooftop.  


This sequence.  Also a great example of silly hair.

Was this poor storytelling on the part of the writer or the artist?  I have no idea, but it was probably the same guy that decided to have He-Man falling off a roof and then not show him landing, just already landed and picking himself up.  


Seriously, he goes from diving off a rooftop...to this.

An opportunity was missed to create an impact panel that could really show off He-Man’s power as he hurtled into the villains below, but what do I know, people actually pay you guys to create this stuff.


Oh hey, there's Battle Cat, not that He-Man notices.


It sounds like Randor may have thought his crown was a helmet, and upon testing that theory became a little brain damaged.  I can't say enough about how poorly these characters are written.

7/10 – More good but not great work.  Every piece of art I see pertaining to He-Man now just makes me miss Emiliano Santalucia’s work even more.

Overall:  4/10 – It could be good if they treated the title with the reverence that it deserved instead of as another cash grab.  Hey DC, leave licensed comics to the people that care about them.  


Album Review: Black Sabbath – Vol. 4 (1972)



Overview: 
                I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t actually own Vol. 4 until a couple weeks ago.  I had heard it back when I was in high school, and it was always on my “to do” list in terms of albums to get, but I just hadn’t, and honestly if it wasn’t for this series, I may have gone longer without it.  This would have been a huge mistake though, as Vol. 4 is the last truly great Black Sabbath album, and is quickly becoming one of my favorites in the catalog. 

Tracks you may know: 
“Snowblind”:  This is the track that you always hear live or that many people associate with this album and the band because cocaine was pretty prevalent in their lives around the time this was written.  This is a great song and fits in really well with the rest of the album in terms of the overall tempo and the way it has sped everything up while staying gloomy.

“Changes”:  Ozzy and a piano, who knew?  This is a well known track probably more because of its break from the norm than anything else.  It’s “Mama I’m Coming Home” before Sharon was around to write for.  Regardless of the fact that it’s not a track you commonly associate with Sabbath, it’s one of their best.

Tracks you should know:
“Wheels of Confusion-The Straighteneer”:  The opening track to the album is like visiting an old friend.  It’s a speedy little song that is prototypical Sabbath.  It’s a quality tune and sets the stage for an album that serves as a great follow-up to Master of Reality.

“Laguna Sunrise”: No vocals, no problem!  This is just an exercise in the master guitar player that Tony Iommi is.  It’s soothing and actually quite interesting.  It feels like the kind of song you would put on in your convertible while driving around Southern California in 1972.

My personal favorite:
“Supernaut”:  There are so many to choose from on this album, but “Supernaut” is just a prototypical Sabbath tune that is hard to find any fault with.  A killer riff combined with a guitar solo (and a mid-song drum solo) that make this one of the standouts of the album.

Album rating: 
Not too much filler here (except for maybe “FX”).  Sabbath is still at their creative peak and it shows.  Unfortunately that peak doesn’t last too much longer.
8/10

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Special of the Day

What happens when they run out of the one entree because there is only one dog?  Damned if I know and obviously The Wormy Guy wasn't planning ahead.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Album Review: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality (1971)



Overview: 
Master of Reality combines the pace of Black Sabbath, with the heaviness of Paranoid.  It is absolutely the best of both worlds and is a fine ending to the first “act” of Sabbath’s career.  These first three albums were recorded in rapid succession, with Master of Reality coming out only about six months after Paranoid in the United States.  Sabbath took a bit of a break after this album to recharge their batteries as the extensive tour-record-tour regimen was starting to take its toll on them.

Tracks you may know: 
“Sweet Leaf”:  Starting out with Ozzy coughing into the microphone, “Sweet Leaf” takes a heavy, plodding approach, much like Black Sabbath or War Pigs before it. 

“Children of the Grave”:  A staple of the live set, this is one of Sabbath’s heaviest tracks, taking on war and politics and providing a galloping beat under Ozzy’s haunting lyrics.  Bill Ward’s drums here are exceptional as they follow and then build off the original beat.  Then, of course, we get Tony Iommi’s guitar solo followed by a crescendo that is perfect to close out a concert 

Tracks you should know:
“Lord of This World”:  Exceptional drumming from Bill Ward (are you seeing a pattern yet?) combined with a bluesy beat make this one of the standout tracks that you may be unaware of.  The way that Geezer Butler weaves his bass guitar around and through Iommi’s guitar is incredible.  There is never a plain, boring bass line (and this is even more evident when you see Sabbath live) as Geezer makes sure that his instrument is not lost in the shuffle.

“After Forever”:  Yet another reason for Christians to be pissed at the boys from Birmingham.  This was definitely a song that provided a different point of view in terms of organized religion (especially Christianity) and obviously failed to make the band any friends in the religious sector (which was a lot bigger back then than it seems to be now).  Kids ate this stuff up though as it was an anti-establishment, anti-authority song that asked you to question your beliefs and why you believe.

My personal favorite:
“Children of the Grave”:  See above; just as heavy and powerful when I first heard it in the late nineties as it was back in 1971. 

Album rating: 
This is a fitting finale to Sabbath’s first act.  Each album feels like there is growth and development from its predecessor.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that each of these albums is a “10” as they, in my opinion, are the pinnacle of Sabbath’s career. 
10/10

Monday, May 13, 2013

Introducing: Son of Sketch-A-Thon!

So, you missed the Sketch-A-Thon on May 4, 2013 because you were "busy" (and by busy I mean getting drunk with some guy dressed like a Jawa for Star Wars Day).  Do you have trouble looking in the mirror in the morning because of your guilt over missing the greatest fundraiser in the history of people drawing at folding tables at a mall (and because of what the Jawa did to you - but we won't get into that)?  You are in luck my slightly sad, slightly violated friends!  I bring you Son of Sketch-A-Thon!

This Sunday, May 19, 2013 is the Walk for Autism at Longbranch Park in Liverpool, NY.  The event goes from 9am-12pm and will include not only the walk, but also other individuals like myself who will be on hand to provide entertainment for the walkers as well as those that stop by to help out and donate.  

If you couldn't make it to the Sketch-A-Thon, or you just want to come out for more sketch-tastic fundraiser goodness, stop on down!

Below are the color sketch cards that are left.  They can be yours, all yours! 


If you have any questions, please contact me and I will get you the information you seek.

You can also go here for more information.

Hope to see you all there!