Monday, September 30, 2013


Chief is in reference to the silent giant in the book and film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" which is one of my all time favorites in either media.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shawshank Revisited

No Bettie Page here, but a slight homage to one of my favorite movies.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not so new comic review: Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #4

                When last we left the Guardians, they were blown out of the sky by the Stark mothership.  Of course, Strahawk, everyone’s favorite sketchy teammate got back just in time to see the damage done, but in no time to help.  What he did do (but failed to mention to his teammates at the time) was fly out to deep space and fire off a distress beacon to… you guessed it…Firelord.  If you have been with us for the last few weeks you will have seen that Firelord has made spot appearances in this book quite a few times, just without actually doing anything.  Apparently, that’s all been building up to this as he is here for the express purpose of kicking some Stark ass.  Before Firelord can blow up the Stark ship though, Starhawk stops him and tells him to go help the inhabitants of the planet below while Starhawk deals with the mothership himself. 

                We then head down to the surface of the planet and find…The Guardians of the Galaxy!  They have survived, teleporting down to the surface of the planet just in time (though not in time for their hostage to survive as the field leader for the Stark strike force that they captured in last issue is killed by shrapnel from the exploding ship (either that or she is killed by a convenient plot device as Valentino no longer needs her around, but I’ll let you decide).  The Guardians win pretty handily against the remaining Stark on the surface of the planet.  Of course, right on schedule is our good friend Taserface, showing up yet again to get his ass kicked by the Guardians.  He has been knocked out by one hit each of the last two issues.  Will he be the same one-punch chump this time around?  Not really!  He actually puts up a good fight, expending a lot of energy trying to take the Guardians down.  Of course, then Firelord shows up and kicks his ass.  This guy just can’t win.

                Now, we are whisked away and reintroduced to Force, the team of super-somethings that are also looking for the fabled shield of Captain America.  This time around, we actually get a little more of an insight into Force, who they are, what their powers are, etc.  While  the name of the super group is horrible (seriously, that’s the best we could do?) the individual members of said super group are actually well thought out characters with interesting powers.  Not-surprisingly, they are doing so much better in terms of finding Captain America’s shield than the Guardians are.  In fact, we catch up with Force right as they are finding the last clue as to the whereabouts of said artifact.

                That will have to wait until next time as the Guardians (and Firelord) have stripped The Stark of all of their technology and reduced them to just “normal” aliens.  The Guardians head off and board their new ship (the Stark ship that Starhawk apparently cleaned of all Stark inhabitants and repurposed for Guardians usage.  This shows why Starhawk didn’t want Firelord to blow up the ship, apparently being the “one who knows” does come with some perks after all.  As the Guardians and Firelord head up to the ship, we see two things develop.  One, is the fact that Taserface is STILL ALIVE!  This guy has taken quite a few lickings and kept right on ticking, so much so that he is vowing to have his revenge on the Guardians.  We also see Nikki, the Mercurian Guardian developing a bit of a crush on Firelord, even though the guy that she is either in a relationship or at least heavily flirting with, Charlie-27, is right there, witnessing the whole thing unfold.  Maybe girls from Mercury are just slutty, I don’t know.
                Apparently Nikki isn’t the only one with a crush on Firelord as Vance Astro offers him membership in the Guardians.  Firelord declines both Vance’s offer and that of Nikki, who states that she can make him “happy” (which I think we all know what she means).  He is now the protector of the galaxy, what with the Silver Surfer apparently hanging up his surfboard.  Firelord is going to wait for any Stark reinforcements and kick their ass, which begs the question, why would he even consider being on the team anyway?  He is way more powerful than anyone else on the Guardians (save maybe Starhawk, but he’s just a giant douche) so what, is Firelord the giant flaming “get out of jail free card” in case the other members get in over their head?  I have a feeling they’ll be calling on him quite a bit as they move forward.  We end this issue with Aleta (remember her, she hasn’t done anything this issue at all) naming their new ship the “Captain America II” in honor of Vance’s old ship the “Captain America” and the shield that they are looking for.  While that’s pretty lame, it’s still better than calling it “ship” (I’m looking at you 1980s X-Factor).

                Next issue we finally get to see more of Force than just a couple pages, will the Guardians run screaming to Firelord to pull their asses out of the…ahem…fire?  We’ll see.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leave it to the Skull

Being different doesn't mean you're "crazy", remember that the next time you want to pick on someone for being extra quiet or enjoying their own world.  They are just like you but with different, sometimes more intense and exhilarating interests.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Masochist Music Review: Van Halen - Balance

                What can I say, I’m a masochist when it comes to music.  I like to have complete catalogs when it comes to my favorite musicians.  Sometimes this is a good thing (Alice Cooper, AC/DC) but oftentimes it’s not.  Not only that, but I used to fall into the trap of hearing one or two great songs and purchasing a whole album because of it, which sometimes produced a diamond, but usually only coal.  During this series, we will dwell on some of the albums I have in my collection that are downright terrible.  I will re-listen to them all and give you my impression of them.

Now this is only my opinion, so don’t take it as gospel.  If you like a particular album in this series, let me know, we’ll open up a discussion about it.  I’m always open to discussing the merits of any particular album, and if you have any suggestions (and especially if you have the album itself and are willing to share your views) then let me know and I’d be happy to add it to the list.

Album Name: Balance

Artist:  Van Halen

Release Date: 1995

Why you bought it:  I’m a completist, and the little that I’d heard from the album was okay.  It sounded like For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge but a tad lighter.  I wasn’t sold on the direction but I wanted to give it a try.

First impressions:  It started out well but deteriorated exponentially over the course of the album, to the point where I could almost hear how Van Halen III could be a natural progression in terms of musical direction. The songs were definitely lighter, more poppy than any of its predecessors, which weren’t terrible, at least on this album as it was on Van Halen III

Impressions upon listening to it recently:  Balance is still as poppy as I remember it.  I don’t remember there being so many instrumentals on it before, but there they are.  The only one that is even halfway decent is “Balucitherium”, but even that is no “Eruption”.  Other than that, it’s an ok album with not enough in the way of rock solid songs that you would expect from Van Halen.  Any sense of cohesion and fun between the band and Sammy Hagar just doesn’t seem to be there. 

Best Track:  “Balucitherium” is a decent instrumental.  “The Seventh Seal” and “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” are two popped up versions of Van Halen tracks.   “Take Me Back (Déjà vu)” feels like it could fit on the 5150 album.

Worst Track:  None of the songs are too terrible, but the album is full of a bunch of mediocre tracks that really don’t inspire like Van Halen’s previous albums did.

Any saving grace?:  It has some good moments.  Maybe they are good moments based on their compatriots on the track list, but they are good nonetheless.  This is in no way the seminal Van Halen record, but it is not as much of a black eye as I once thought it to be.

Was it worth the purchase?:  Yeah, it’s not great but it’s a decent album.  I don’t know if I would pay full price for this one, but I’m fine spending a couple bucks on it.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Hey kids, don't try this at home.

There's a reason that archaic practices in terms of psychological rehabilitation have been abandoned in the last half century.  This institution isn't entirely above board in terms of the residents it houses and the reason it houses them, so using something like this would naturally still be on their "to-do list".

Friday, September 20, 2013


I could go on a rant about made up mental illnesses and how everyone nowadays has to "have something" so that doctors can make their quota imposed by the drug companies (and this is coming from someone that went to school with the express purpose of diagnosis and treatment of said mental illnesses), but instead I'll leave it vague and we'll just call it a "retarded Hardy Boys mystery".

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not so new comic review – Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #3

                 When last we left our Galactic Globetrotters (how’s that for some Stan Lee-esqe alliteration?) Starhawk and Aleta had just been blasted by The Stark (that alien race that thinks Robert Downey Jr.-er-Tony Stark is a god) mid-transformation.  As last issue closed, we could distinctly see not one character but two amidst the blast.  Does that mean that Starhawk and Aleta are freed from the creepiest symbiotic relationship in history?  Apparently, yes, that’s exactly what that means.  As Aleta collapses from, I’m just assuming here, the multitude of laser blasts that have just hit her, Starhawk gets up and flies away.  This obviously pisses off Vance Astro, who, instead of actually doing anything productive in the battle, yells at Starhawk for leaving.

                Finally we catch up with Yondu as well, as he wakes up to still find the blade of a knife at his throat.  Does he go all crazy alien assassin on the universe’s slowest and most unsure murderer?  Nope, he just talks him down and actually makes the alien feel better that he hasn’t murdered Yondu.  It’s official, Yondu is zen as shit.  Something tells me that may not be the case in the upcoming movie as they cast Daryl Dixon’s brother from The Walking Dead to portray him onscreen.

                Oh, wait, there’s another page containing Firelord.  This is what they call a slow burn (get it, burn…Firelord…never mind.  Of course that leads right into the introduction of the other team of creatures that are trying to find Captain America’s shield (and are currently at least one step ahead of the Guardians).  Their name in Force, and no I didn’t just make that up.  Despite having a name that apparently took little-to-no thought to come up with, their lineup is highlighted by a beefy chick with a huge forehead, a lizard guy that looks like a Masters of the Universe reject, and a square headed leader with severe male-pattern baldness and six fingers.  Will they eventually give the Guardians a difficult time?  Of course they will, because this is comics.

                We now return to the real action, which revolves around Everyone’s favorite Stark psychopath,: Taserface!  At the end of last issue, he had grabbed Nikki and threatened to kill her if the Guardians didn’t surrender.  This issue opened with Martinex freezing both Taserface and Nikki in ice to prevent Taserface from acting on that threat, then all of the other crazy sidebars happened.  Now we are back to the original plot point and, surprise, surprise, Nikki, the girl from Mercury, is melting the ice surrounding her.  Martinex uses this to his advantage and begins to melt the rest of the ice slowly so that Vance can blast Taserface with his psychokinetic powers when Taserface’s head is exposed.  He does so, and Taserface falls, defeated.  This begs the question, why didn’t Vance do that from the get go?  You can’t tell me that he would have been unable to blast Taserface before he got a shot off, the bolt came from his mind!  Oh well, with that done, Nikki blasts him for good measure, and is immediately scolded by Martinex just to reinforce the fact that most of the male characters are buzzkills and Nikki is the cool rebel against authority, kind of like a flame-tressed Jubilee. 

                Having beaten Taserface, the Guardians must think that they have won, because they decide to hightail it out of their and back to their orbiting spaceship, leaving a whole host of The Stark on the planet to complete their mission of enslaving the inhabitants and mining the planet of all its natural resources.  They are actually a pretty crappy superteam at this point.  Except for Charlie-27, who has decided to stay on the planet until he can get to the tent that holds the leader of this raiding party.  Again, n mention is made of saving any of the inhabitants of this planet, just beating the crap out of The Stark and getting the hell out of there.

                Aboard the Stark mothership out in deep space, it is agreed upon that they would let the team currently on the planet live or die at the hands of the Guardians, however the fleet would go on yellow alert just in case (more on that in a second).  Back on the Guardians’ ship, Charlie-27 returns and he is carrying a hostage, that angry Stark commander that decided to sit in her tent while everyone else got slaughtered.  Aleta wakes up from getting knocked out at the end of last issue, and Vance proceeds to tell her what a douche Starhawk is while Martinex complains about Vance telling the truth.  Martinex is apparently Cyclops from the X-Men with Iceman’s body.  Valentino seems to be trying to make Vance into a Wlverine type of character and having his relationship with Martinex play out in that Cyclops-Wolverine mold, but at least in the first three issues, they both just sound whiny and unlikable.  And somehow, through all this, Aleta’s costume has stayed put and not strayed into “wardrobe malfunction” territory.  Of course while everyone is bickering and complaining Yondu notices that a giant ship has appeared right in front of them.  Apparently “yellow alert” for the Stark means “go blow up the guys that are messing with our scout team”. 

                It apparently means nothing to The Stark that a member of their own race is onboard as well, as they cut off all communication with Guardians after the attempt at a peaceful resolution fails.  At this point we finally see where Starhawk went when he bailed on his teammates…out to space.  That’s it.  He apparently flew out to space and threw up a distress beacon (though we don’t know for who, we’ll have to wait for next issue to figure that one out).  He then rushes to get back to the Guardians, stating how he is always late, and never gets back in time.  He is absolutely correct as he arrives just in time to see the Stark ship blow the Guardians’ ship out of the sky.  Is this the end of the Guardians, after only three issues?  We’ll have to wait until next issue to find out. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grade A

Don't ask me to explain how Shrimpy is playing chess with a skull on a hook, it can't be done.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Masochist Music Review: Metallica and Lou Reed - Lulu

What can I say, I’m a masochist when it comes to music.  I like to have complete catalogues when it comes to my favorite musicians.  Sometimes this is a good thing (Alice Cooper, AC/DC) but oftentimes it’s not.  Not only that, but I used to fall into the trap of hearing one or two great songs and purchasing a whole album because of it, which sometimes produced a diamond, but usually only coal.  During this series, we will dwell on some of the albums I have in my collection that are downright terrible.  I will re-listen to them all and give you my impression of them.

Now this is only my opinion, so don’t take it as gospel.  If you like a particular album in this series, let me know, we’ll open up a discussion about it.  I’m always open to discussing the merits of any particular album, and if you have any suggestions (and especially if you have the album itself and are willing to share your views) then let me know and I’d be happy to add it to the list.

Album Name:  LuLu

Artist:  Metallica and Lou Reed

Release Date: November, 2011

Why you bought it:  It was new Metallica (presumably).  I hadn’t heard any singles off the record, nor was I too familiar with Lou Reed going into it, but I figured after the backlash from St. Anger, Metallica wouldn’t do anything to damage their reputation any further (especially after reclaiming some of that reputation with 2008’s Death Magnetic). 

First impressions:  I’m not going to lie, this is the first time I’ve listened to the whole album.  I remember listening to disc one and part of disc two and shutting it off in disgust.  I gave it a shot, but it did not work for me at all.  The musical arrangements by Metallica were okay, not great, and tended to drone on much like those in St. Anger did.  What really threw me off though are the vocals.  Lou Reed sounds like he’s struggling to get the words out at times.  The spoken word delivery was just unsettling, not that he would have been able to sing any better, but the fact that the vocals and the music very rarely synched up to the point where one wasn’t distracting from the other.  Even the backing vocals, which James Hetfield sings, are just additional noise to this cacophony of suck.

Impressions upon listening to it recently:  It just goes on way too long.  It’s not a good concept much less good execution, but if it was the standard length of a Green Day album it would have been okay (because Green Day sucks too, but they suck in smaller doses).  Much like the smell of Indian food, this album lingers to the point of being incredibly uncomfortable.  Even the music, which was the highlight when I first listened to it, feels equal parts unfinished and not thought out, like Metallica was just jamming and Lou Reed came in and threw some lyrics from the back of a napkin (still stained from the alcohol-induced vomit he had wiped away from his mouth) over the top of it.  The fact that this went through and Metallica felt comfortable enough to not only have their name attached, but to actually stand behind the material when the critics lambasted it upon its release, shows how delusional they must be at this stage of their careers, and does not bode well for future releases from the band (if there are any).

Any saving grace?:  Nope, even the mighty Metallica can’t save this from the scrap bin.

Was it worth the purchase?:  Oh hell no, this is the epitome of a masochistic music review.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What are you in for?

Not that the whole "freedom of speech" thing wouldn't have protected the Insult-a-Skull, but it's pretty obvious that the inhabitants of this asylum are there under sketchy circumstances.

Friday, September 13, 2013


The Insult-a-Skull was a character that I created years and years ago that doesn't really have a function save to be a cranky, miserable character that hurls insults.  It's probably just an excuse for me to write insults.  Of course the Insult-a-Skull was created before The Slugomatic became the cranky individual that you now see.  Also, don't ask me how the Insult-a-Skull speaks without a lower jaw...yay comics!
They can't all be gems, okay.
This seemed like as good a time as any to introduce a few of the characters that don't really have much of a form or function outside of a small gimmick.  Enjoy it people!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Not so new comic review: Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #2

                In our continuing look at the saga of the true Guardians of the Galaxy (the one without the talking tree or Bradley Cooper) we bring you issue two of the Jim Valentino series in which shit just got real.  Instead of giving a breakdown of the cover, story and art (because it’s not like that will really influence your decision to purchase a comic nearly twenty-five years old anyway) I’ll provide more of a synopsis of the story that will include quips about the story and art in it as well from here on out.

                Taserface, while being a stupid name and sporting a silly-designed costume, does seem to be a badass character, on the cover at least.  In the interior though, he is pretty much incapacitated after getting his ass kicked in the last issue.  What we do get to see is a good number of The Stark amassing upon the Guardians of the Galaxy, attempting to return the favor.  The Stark seem to be doing a decent job of it as well (and if you haven’t read issue one yet, within the first few pages Valentino will catch you up on all you need to know) as they take out both Vance Astro and Yondu (who is then left at the mercy of the local populace, who is none too friendly.  Astro’s suit is damaged which exposes his thousand year old skin to the elements, where it starts to age immediately (kind of like credit card interest after a special promotional period ends).  This is halted by Martinex who puts a sheath of ice over the wound, encasing it and preventing it from being exposed to the air. 

It's just a 1000 year old flesh wound.

                Before we can see what happens to these team members, we are hurtled into space and come across Firelord.  Remember him?  Herald of Galactus?  Don’t worry if you don’t he’s only seen for two panels and looks to be there to move us from the action on the planet to the introduction of everyone’s favorite peeping tom: Uatu, The Watcher.  The one good thing about Uatu is that he is a treasure trove of knowledge and a go-to explanation of previous events.  Because this comic takes place in the 31st century, Uatu plays a very important part in giving us the entire history of The Stark.  Valentino actually makes this work incredibly well and instead of some contrived flashback sequence, we get  Uatu telling us a story. 

                Thanks Uatu, you’re a peach.

                Once we learn the story of The Stark (which is basically a cautionary tale of over-industrialization) we are taken back to the action where we learn that in the society of The Stark, women rule, which is why the warriors fighting the Guardians are taking it easy on Nikki apparently.  Charlie-27, the bruiser of the group then calls out to Starhawk (the “one-who-knows” who apparently didn’t know this tidbit of info) to change into Aleta, his wife that shares his body (don’t ask, I don’t remember the explanation).  Starhawk immediately changes because, well, the guy with the fists and low center of gravity told him to.  That would be akin to The Thing telling Mr. Fantastic how to get to the Negative Zone, right?  Okay, I’ll suspend that logic for a bit.  It does work though as Aleta starts to beat on the flying Stark until she accidentally kills one.  She is so bent out of shape over this that it’s quite possible that the whole superhero gig is not really the thing for her.  Seriously, I know a huge part of superhero comics is to avoid senseless killing (at least it used to be, thanks Mark Millar) but to have someone so bent out of shape that someone she hit died shows a character flaw that should probably remove her from the superhero game. 

                At this point, we see that Taserface has been stripped of his moniker for falling in battle.  How is this not a good thing?  With a name like Taserface, I’d let my opponents win more than this year’s Houston Astros.  Apparently the only way for Taserface to reclaim his name is to kill Aleta for killing one of the Stark.  At this point the creepy Stark leader makes it a point to mention that Aleta would “join my sister-Stark in Hades”.  Little did we know that Iron Man’s armor also came with a full collection of Greek Mythology.  Who knew Tony Stark was so well-read. 

                We are then given quick updates on Vance Astro (he’s fine, just can’t move his right arm) and Yondu (still lying on the ground under the knife of the universe’s slowest assassin) before Taserface grabs Nikki and threatens to Nikki unless the Guardians surrender.  No wonder Taserface is so lowly regarded in the Stark community, he can’t even grab the right girl.  Then we are treated to the obligatory ‘everyone stand with your mouth hanging open’ shot.  At this point Aleta decides to change back to Starhawk because her powers are pretty lame in comparison, and as she is doing that she is shot by all of the lasers in the Stark arsenal. 

                We’ll have to wait until next time to find out what happens, because not only is there one, but two cliffhangers to this issue (remember Yondu, he’s not dead yet).  Valentino does a great job with the story, moving it along while filling it full of details to fully flesh it out, while the art is still very good, even though the designs of the Stark are fairly primitive and the overuse of shots of half of a character’s face become more of a distraction
than they should be.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not a time for your GPA

How much confidence do you have that Shrimpy, who sucks in math, is running his own restaurant?  
Oh, he's got other things to worry about at the moment?  
Good point.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kid Rock Packs the house at SPAC and has no problem telling you how much you paid for your ticket.

                I will readily admit, I purchased tickets to the Kid Rock show for the express purpose of seeing ZZ Top.  Seriously, how could you go wrong with a $25 ticket to see the boys from Texas up here in New York?  I have heard that Kid Rock puts on a good show, and I had no problem going to see him, however the main driving force was definitely seeing ZZ Top live.

                The funny thing is that I almost didn’t make it.  I was pretty sick that entire day (from eating shrimp most likely, and if you don’t see the irony in that I can’t help you), and more than once I thought about saying to hell with it and not going.  I was on vacation all of last week (if you can count moving and getting settled as much of a vacation) and part of me didn’t want to break that up with a long trip to Saratoga.  My girlfriend is not the staunchest Kid Rock supporter either, so I knew she wouldn’t be too upset over missing out on the show.  However, a package of crackers and Gatorade from the gas station settled my stomach enough to make the trip.  The drive was nice enough (and it should have been considering the New York State Thruway is a toll road), but as we got to the park, I could tell that the place was packed.  We waited in line in our car for a good forty minutes to get to a parking lot that was full, and we were then directed to drive and turn around, parking in a lot across the street.  This is something that we could have done, literally, forty minutes before if we knew that the lot was full with the help of a sign or something besides the archaic system of “sit in line and have someone walk up to your car and tell you after forty minutes of stop and go traffic”.  This was bad form by SPAC and not the last time they will have dropped the ball before the evening is done.

                Because it took us so long to get parked and to our seats, we completely missed Uncle Kracker (which brought a tear to the eye of absolutely no one).  We sat down after passing the ten dollar grilled cheese stand and the twelve dollar beer vendors (thanks for keeping everything so inexpensive Kid Rock!).  The minute these concert tickets went on sale a few months ago (March or April I believe) I purchased my tickets.  They were all the same price so I didn’t even have to choose a seat, and despite the fact that I purchased them at 10am as soon as they were available, we were pretty much as far away as we could be in the seated portion of the venue.  The seats were not terrible, and the fact that we didn’t have to stand amongst the masses was a godsend, but it makes me wonder how those people with the better seats were able to obtain those even though I logged in as soon as the tickets went online.  Something was fishy but as long as the show was good it would be alright.

                We missed Uncle Kracker and luckily for us, about ten to fifteen minutes after we sat down, ZZ Top made their way to the stage.  I’m not really sure what I was expecting from a couple guys in their 60s, but they were pretty bland.  I had one hope in terms of music, that they played “Waitin’ for the bus” from the Tres Hombres album.  They accomplished that by the second song of their forty minute set and filled the rest of the time with their standard hits collection.  I was impressed to hear “Pincushion” from their 1994 album Antenna but beyond that it was the standard fare.  It wasn’t bad, mind you, I was just not as blown away by the band as I wanted to be.  If there was more time, it’s possible that they may have gotten into their catalog a bit more, and been a bit more engaging with the crowd, but the short set really hindered them in that regard.

                ZZ Top finished their short set and Kid Rock was up next.  What we got was an ingenious invention that I have never seen utilized at a concert before, a countdown clock.  It notified the crowd exactly how much time they had left before Kid Rock was going to take the stage.  I have been to a lot of concerts in my time and this is the first time that I have been informed of an act’s upcoming performance down to the minute.  Sure, nowadays I can probably find out an approximate time when a band is going to take the stage, but to be at the venue and have them say that Kid Rock will be arriving in “fifteen minutes” is a new and welcome addition. 

                While I understand why it was done, having Jim Beam and Harley Davidson as sponsors of the concert (in order to keep the ticket prices low – a point that Kid Rock had no problem reiterating throughout the night) included blatant product placement and even a commercial between what I would assume was the initial set and the encore, seemed a bit strange.   I have a feeling this seemed so out of place because I have never been to a show that was that blatantly commercial, but if it will keep other concerts at a more manageable price in the future, I would be more than happy to sit through any and all advertisements they want to throw my way.

                Kid Rock’s set itself delivered on all of the hype that I had previously heard about it.  It was a high-energy show that kept everyone up and dancing along throughout the set.  One thing that really surprised me was the amount of time Kid Rock spent on all of his older, more rap-influenced work.  As someone that has his old CDs but prefers his newer stuff, it was a bit disappointing that he decided to stay so attached to his first three albums.  He did mix it up a bit with a selection off of each one of his other records, but really stuck to the rap-influence for the majority of the performance, and even the later work that he chose to showcase in the live set tended to be the heavier stuff in the same vein as his Devil Without a Cause album. 

                A few songs in, Kid Rock mentioned that he was in the middle of fighting the flu so he asked our forgiveness if the performance suffered (it didn’t) and made mention of the fact that when he was charging as little as he was for the tour, he was assuming all of the risk associated with the show (this was the first of many mentions of the ticket price).  He may have tried to reach a bit with his voice at times, overcompensating for the illness, but it wasn’t really anything that hurt the performance a great deal.  If he stumbled at all, it wasn’t apparent, and he was backed up by the Twisted Brown Trucker Band that may be one of the best backing bands I have ever seen.  The setup of the stage itself was very “American Bandstand”-esqe and had an old-school feel to it that I enjoyed.  The actual musical ability of the band was great as well.  They didn’t miss a beat from the heavier stuff to the random break of “Celebrate” or “Born Free” with a more country/southern rock feel, easily transitioning between the two and being, in my opinion, the standout of the show. 

                Some negatives:

                The people, and the way they were handled.  It’s pretty apparent that SPAC is ill-equipped to handle the size crowd that Kid Rock generated on Wednesday night.  The best way (and possibly the only way) to exit the venue is over a bridge (and not a very wide one, mind you), which meant that the thousands of people in attendance all descended upon that exit at once.  All it would have taken was a fire or other kind of disaster for mass chaos to ensue. 

                The DJ Kid Rock jam session.  I could have really done without that.  It’s not my kind of music at all and I don’t find the appeal of it. 

                Kid Rock’s DJ.  I don’t think it was Uncle Kracker, but even if it was, he was still horrible.  The fact that anytime something even remotely vulgar appeared in the song it was his duty to sing it, not Kid Rock’s made for just an obscenity-laced rant for him.  It was as if Kid Rock’s DJ had tourettes.   

                All in all, it was a decent concert, and for the price it was well worth it.  A better handling overall by the concert venue, coupled with a longer, more comprehensive set by ZZ Top would have put it over the top.  However, the whole thing was good enough that my girlfriend, an admitted denouncer of Kid Rock, was getting into it by the end of his set.  I’m not sure if I would make a repeat viewing of Kid Rock’s live show the kind of required destination that I do for bands like KISS or Alice Cooper, but for $25 I would absolutely be inclined to partake once more, just not at SPAC.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rorschach What?

When in this position, the fourth answer is never the correct one.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rorschach Who?

Never underestimate the smart-ass power of a shrimp in lockdown.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Not so new comic review: Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) #1

                Hey, did you hear, there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming from Marvel?  Did you know that those Guardians of the Galaxy are not the originals, that they are from a comic book series from a few years ago and not the original lineup?  You didn’t?  Well you’re in luck because for the next few months, we’re going to delve deeper into the real Guardians of the Galaxy from their 90s comic book series, started by Jim Valentino.  The Guardians were originally created in 1969, but considering the fact that I have the entire run of the 90s comic, and that comic just builds upon the existing history, we’re going to use that as our basis for this team. 

Issue 1:  But Are they Ready for…Taserface

                This is a classic 90s Marvel cover.  A heroic pose of the team, everyone exhibiting their powers (usually shooting something out of their hands) except for the bruiser, and you know he’s the bruiser because he has his teeth gritted.  This is a perfect “first issue” cover because its generic nature gives us as much information as we need to know in order to determine our favorite character.  For most people, in a comic like X-Men, they would choose Wolverine because he looks the most like a badass on every comic in the 90s.  Here, the clear favorite has to be Yondu, the blue skinned archer with the red sail/Mohawk thing.  Maybe that or Nikki, the girl with the fire hair.  Every other character design is fairly generic, so those two stand out even more. 

                Back to the cover itself. The art is good.  It does a great job of leading your eye around, highlighting the faces of every member of the Guardians, while moving in a circle around the cover.  There are so many characters that there is hardly any room for a background, but Valentino has at least thrown a few planets on a black background to show us that this does in fact take place in outer space, as if the word “Galaxy” in their name wasn’t a good enough clue.

                What I like the most is the coloring though.  Even though the coloring on Nikki is inconsistent from her color pattern in the interiors, I love the watercolor look that the cover has.  This is so much different than the flat, bright colors of many comic books of this time period, but not nearly as muddy as the digital coloring we see today.  I’m not sure if Valentino colored this as well but whoever did did an exceptional job of working with the line art to create a whole picture and not just layer colors on top.  This cover has the weight and feel of a real painting and definitely draws the eye to its presence on a shelf.  The logo itself is a school in how to do logos the right way.  It’s simple, relatively easy to ready (with the exception of the miniscule “of the”” in between “guardians” and “galaxy”) and the colors contrast perfectly not only with one another, but with the background as well.

                This issue picks up right in the middle of a battle.  You would think that would be confusing, as many people probably have not seen these characters before, or if they did it was so sparingly that they may not remember much about them.  This is where older comics really thrive.  Jim Valentino, instead of wasting two or three issues leading up to this showing us the characters and who they are/what they did, completed all of this in six panels spread over two pages.  At that point, we know all of the pertinent information to get us into the comic. 

                Further on in the comic we are introduced to the origin of the Guardians in case we haven’t been keeping up with the continuity to that point.  Not only that, but we are also given a written history of the Guardians by Jim Valentino in the back of the first few issues as well as told what issues to go pick up to read the full story.  This is how you promote your book within the book itself.  Valentino does a phenomenal job of not only progressing the story itself (though it’s a pretty basic one at this point) but also weaving the Guardians’ backstory into the framework of the existing story and making it work.

                Now, this comic isn’t perfect by any means.  Most of the problems have to do with the pacing: it’s kind of boring, even with the flashbacks thrown in, and the fight sequences aren’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.  The other issues have to deal with the characters, and only a few in particular.  The whole Starhawk/Aleta sharing the same body/used to be (still?) married is just weird.  It’s the wrong kind of soap opera that doesn’t really have much of a place in the comic and really just adds an odd element to the whole thing.  Also, while I like the addition of The Stark as the villains of this issue and the fact that the villains in the future are co-opting the technology and identities of the present really ties everything together, even more than the search for Captain America’s shield does, Taserface is just a cheesy, uber-90s villain.

                Valentino (with Steve Montano on inks) does a great job building the world through images while also being exceptionally clear in his execution.  I realize that it’s a little easier to do this in a foreign world where he can build architecture to look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book and not a New York City skyline, however he adds details where he needs to and the lack of detail and imagination in that design do not reflect an epidemic in his art as the rest of the designs are well thought out and very well executed.

                Valentino also uses other traditional comic book art tricks with great success.  His utilization of the fire as panel borders around the flashback sequences is inspired considering that that is how the flashbacks are presented to Yondu and Martinex.  The way that he draws (and Evelyn Stein then colors) the sequence where Nikki performs an acrobatic maneuver in her fight with Taserface is the right way to draw comics. Unlike many of his other image co-founders, Valentino is just a technically superior artist.  Everything from the perspective to the anatomy is spot on with none of it feeling forced or “stylized”.  The designs for both the Guardians and The Stark are pretty lame, but where Valentino lacks in his design sense, he makes up for it in his technical execution.

This would have taken Brian Bendis six issues plus an annual.

It's like Dr. Seuss and M.C. Escher had a baby on acid.  Not the most inspired design.

Can you explain to me why someone that wears a containment suit feels the need to wear a t-shirt?

It's like a creepy iron dominatrix convention.

Overall:  Seeing how well this series started out, and some fond memories that it kicks up in me just by looking at it (and those awesome 90s ads for Nintendo games, etc) this is a series of articles I can’t wait to delve deeper into.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Masochist Music Review: Megadeth - Risk

What can I say, I’m a masochist when it comes to music.  I like to have complete catalogs when it comes to my favorite musicians.  Sometimes this is a good thing (Alice Cooper, AC/DC) but oftentimes it’s not.  Not only that, but I used to fall into the trap of hearing one or two great songs and purchasing a whole album because of it, which sometimes produced a diamond, but usually only coal.  During this series, we will dwell on some of the albums I have in my collection that are downright terrible.  I will re-listen to them all and give you my impression of them.

Now this is only my opinion, so don’t take it as gospel.  If you like a particular album in this series, let me know, we’ll open up a discussion about it.  I’m always open to discussing the merits of any particular album, and if you have any suggestions (and especially if you have the album itself and are willing to share your views) then let me know and I’d be happy to add it to the list.

Album Name: Risk

Artist:  Megadeth

Release Date: August, 1999

Why you bought it:  This was actually my first Megadeth album.  I think I bought it in 2001 after I saw the Megadeth “Behind the Music” on Vh1.  I think it was the only Megadeth album in the store at the time or something, so it was my first by default.  I liked the music that was included on the “Behind the Music” show and went in search of it. 

First impressions:  While I didn’t find any of the classic Megadeth tracks on this album, I didn’t mind what I did find.  Honestly, at this point I didn’t know any better as I didn’t have anything to compare it to aside from a few snippets of the band’s music on the Vh1 special.  I remember listening to it quite a bit during the spring of my senior year as I drove to and from work. 

Impressions upon listening to it recently:  If you listen to all of the Megadeth albums released before this one, and then all of the ones released since this one, it’s easy to wonder where this musical direction came from.  For awhile, the band seemed to be getting more and more of a “mainstream” sound to it, yet they still had that edge.  This album erased that edge completely.  For someone that had never sat down and listened to Rust in Peace or Killing is my Business... this was fine.  Now, I know better.  While I don’t get filled with venom over the direction of the record like many of the hardcore Megadeth fans did upon its release in 1999, I rarely seek out this album when I am looking to listen to some Megadeth. 

Any saving grace?:    The best part about this record is that it was such a colossal bomb that Dave Mustaine basically took the band back over.  Instead of collaborating with producers on the album, he has been the sole creative force ever since.  This has returned Megadeth to their previous form and created memorable albums since then.  The fact that practically every album in Megadeth’s catalogue is represented in their live set except for this one is a good representation of how Risk is viewed.  

Was it worth the purchase?: At the time it opened my eyes to a new band that I have grown very fond of.  In that respect it was well worth the purchase.  I wouldn’t (and didn’t) pay full price for it though, so think of that what you will.

Monday, September 2, 2013


At least he knows Freakman won't interrupt him, right?