Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Players Tried For A Forward Pass

I recently blogged about deciding to severely limit my television consumption. Scottish Conan Guy and nothing else, etc. Well, I may have made that decision too hastily.

It's almost football season. I'll be watching the Steelers, too.

I also need to see if that American Pickers episode with the Lionel State Set is available on demand. I wanted to see that so bad.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Get Yourself An Egg And Beat It

As the joke is typically set up, the only two words in the English language that end in -gry are hungry and angry.

I am certain that this is not a coincidence.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tick Tick Tick Tick Time You Take It

It occurs to me that some of the music I listen to is... extreme. Here is a tiptoe through that minefield of what I like to call 'Yikes' along with some warnings as to the details.

Rebel Girl - Bikini Kill
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Non-traditional Romance
Xtreem Attitude

Illegal Tender - Louis XIV
WARNING: This song contains
Severe Sleaze
Extreme Innuendo
Morally Problematic Amusement

Hang Wire - The Pixies
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Kinda Dark Lyrics
Kinda Dark Everything Else

Tick - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Orgasmic Rendition (or, they don't call her Karen O for nothing)
The Word 'Shit'
Caffeine Overdose

Abra Cadaver - The Hives
WARNING: This song contains
Really Fast Punk Music
Occasional Shoutiness
Alice Cooper Addiction
Other People's Tobacco Use

 Last Caress - The Misfits
WARNING: This song contains
Alice Cooper Addiction
Such Violence!
Unwarranted Self-Importance
Fun With Death

Bandages - Hot Hot Heat
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Uncontrolled Exuberance
Caffeine Overdose

Springing Leaks - Algernon Cadwallader
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Unintelligible Meanness

Hot Freaks - Guided By Voices
WARNING: This song contains
Extreme Innuendo
Occasional Shoutiness
Robert Pollard

One Way Ticket - The Darkness
WARNING: This song contains
Nasal Snowblinding
80's Hair

So, yeah. Wow. I mean, dang. Yeegh.

Monday, August 20, 2012

We've Got An Off-Schedule Train Coming Two Miles Out

So we're up at my grandfather's having dinner. Meatloaf, as I recall. I ask for the salt and pepper. I'm looking at this pepper shaker, and something stands out.

I'm into trains, right? You see the stylized letter 'P' in the above photo? This resembles something to me.

Courtesy George Elwood's Fallen Flags

Is it just me, or is there a resemblance between the stylized letter on the shaker and the 'P' in the Penn Central logo as adorns U25B 2568 in the above photo? Railfans are everywhere, and I am very intrigued by the possibility that the pepper shaker was designed by someone with more than a passing interest in trains.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If You Wanna Run Cool, You've Got To Run On Heavy Heavy Fuel

Ugh. Tried to create the 'Narrow-gauge Boilermaker' at Sam's party last night, using High Life and Kahlua. Now I understand why the narrow gauge lines disappeared as quickly as they were built.

What a hangover. No more liquor for me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'd Dive On The Bottom, Baby I'd Never Come Up

I like beer:
Miller High Life, Iron City, and Pabst Blue Ribbon are my cheap favorites, while Yuengling and Duquesne are medium-color local favorites of mine. Straub has met with approval. If I'm drinking Mexican beer, I'll get Sol. Corona is okay. Dos Equis is good, Negra Modelo is better (still waiting to try Tecate, but I hear it's like PBR en espanol). Pale lagers I'ven't had in a while but like include Yuengling Premium and Penn Gold. Anything from Penn Brewery or Erie Brewing Company is good by me.

I also like hard liquor, but not so much:
I'll take a shot of Maker's Mark with a beer every now and again, and Bailey's is okay by me. Peppermint schnapps and Hershey's syrup make an interesting pair, too. But that's about it. The reason I'm not a big drinker of spirits is the time I overdid it on said spirits.Only time I ever threw up while drinking, I'm simultaneously proud and ashamed to say.

Wine and other:
Woodchuck and Strongbow hard ciders are good too, but I like Woodchuck better. I'm not much into wine. Fuck non-alcoholic stuff. And I'm not a fan of mixed drinks of any kind, but my pal Matt swears by margaritas and one of these days I might just not be driving to the bar...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Snortin' Whiskey And Drinkin' Cocaine

Dave Edmunds - I Hear You Knockin'
British artist Dave Edmunds is best remembered today as a 70's rocker very interested in 50's rock and roll and blues. His main claim to fame is his solo single 'I Hear You Knockin', a cover of a Smiley Lewis blues tune. After a chain of production credits for notable pub-rock artists Brinsley Schwarz and Ducks Deluxe, Edmunds subsequently formed the band Rockpile (commonly credited as 'Dave Edmunds and Rockpile) with Nick Lowe in 1976. 

Up - Just Like An Aborigine

After the departure of the MC5 from the Ann Arbor, Michigan commune of John Sinclair, the protopunk band Up became the frontspiece for Sinclair's White Panther Party and its radical politics. With a stripped-down, hard-edged and aggressive sound, the band went unnoticed as the like-minded MC5 and Stooges were signed to Elektra and Up was not. Frustratingly, Up was the opening act at a show double-billed to the Stooges and the MC5, which was the performance that convinced Elektra to sign the two pioneering punk bands. The band split in 1973.

Bob Welch - Ebony Eyes

Bob Welch first rose to fame as rhythm guitarist for Fleetwood Mac for four albums during the years 1970-1975. Upon leaving after difficult tours and legal struggles, he turned to a solo career, releasing 'Ebony Eyes' in 1977 along with its album, French Kiss. Later solo albums in the 80's met with decreasing success, and sadly, in June of 2012 Welch committed suicide after an ineffectual back surgery.

Pat Travers Band - Snortin' Whiskey

Another Canadian, Pat Travers caught the attention of fellow Canuck and rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins, who invited him to play with Hawkins' outfit. After an appearance on German television by an early incarnation of Travers' own group, the band released one each studio and live albums, and opened for Rush on their A Farewell To Kings tour. In 1980, Crash And Burn debuted and the single 'Snortin' Whiskey' made the band a notable name in the hard rock scene of the very early 80's. 

In 1981, Travers' group disbanded and Travers dived into new projects which found only minor successes. However, since then Travers and a new lineup for the Pat Travers Band have toured briefly in the 90's and more extensively in the 2000's.

Henry Paul Band - Grey Ghost

Henry Paul formed the Siennas in 1971, and shortly thereafter the Siennas turned into The Outlaws. Paul left the band in 1977 and formed his own Henry Paul Band. The Henry Paul Band disbanded in 1983, and Paul returned to The Outlaws for three more years before forming the band BlackHawk. Paul still plays with the Outlaws on more recent tours.

I remember thinking that this was The Outlaws when the song would play on Channel 97 as a kid. So did my dad, but when I looked it up and figured it out, Dad had the little lightbulb come on, remembering that Henry Paul was one of The Outlaws' guitarists.

Red Rider - Lunatic Fringe

Canadian hard rock band Red Rider formed in 1978, and released their first album in 1980. Their second release, As Far As Siam, spawned the AOR hit single 'Lunatic Fringe'. In 1989, rhythm guitarist Tom Cochrane began to see success from his solo career, and as a consequence, Red Rider broke up. Since 2002, Cochrane has reunited with some of his old bandmates to tour as Tom Cochrane And Red Rider.

Sniff 'n' The Tears

British band Sniff 'N' The Tears released 'Driver's Seat' in 1978, after five years of touring and searching for a record deal. The song was a minor hit, and remained an AOR staple for years in England and the US. After three more albums, the group split, but reformed in 1992 and has released a couple of albums since.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And The Way She's Steaming, Buddy, You Better Not Get In Her Way

Went out to the Ohio Valley to do some railfanning. Big steam in Pittsburgh this weekend. Norfolk Southern ran some employee appreciation specials with Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 Berkshire, number 765, out of Conway Yard. 

  • The first train filmed partially got by us. We had just decided on the filming location when headlights appeared westbound and I didn't have enough time to catch the head end.
  • Next is a local train. Our buddy Dangerous Dan tagged along and brought the banner for the model railroad club we belong to. We got a curious look and an extra honk of the horn from this engineer!
  • A few minutes before the second 765, an eastbound trailer train passed by at track speed, about 60 mph. The vortex knocked my camera over. Also, my batteries died just before the same shot, and I had to borrow some from another railfan. Thanks, dude.
  • The bridge shots are from Big Rock Park in New Brighton, on the Beaver River. Norfolk Southern reserved Track #1 for the excursions, and as a result, I got skunked on her return from Homewood Junction. She stayed on the far side of the bridge. 
  • In the shot of the merchandiser that crossed the bridge after 765 passed, you can see the CSX train from the next shot appearing in the lower right-hand corner as the tail end of the NS train passes. 
  • The second CSX train is interesting for two reasons: Union Pacific run-through power, and a load of 32 wind turbine blades.
  • The next shot of 765 was taken in the industrial park at Leetsdale, on an ancient iron bridge that the railfans overtook. We had to wave the cars through, there were so many of us.
  • The concluding shot almost didn't happen! I should have stuck by the camera, but was chatting with my friends and some other railfans by the red pickup at the end of the shot. When the train came around the corner I had to dash to the camera.
  • The unusual pan in the final shot is inspired by similar camera techniques observed in the films of noted and prolific railfan photographer and filmographer Emery Gulash. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some Dumb Haircut From 1960

Q: How did the hipster burn his mouth?
A: He ate his pizza before it was cool.

Q: Why don't hipsters like the ocean?
A: It's too current.

Q: Why did the hipster cross the road?
A: To get to the side you've never heard of.

Q: Why did the hipster wear a scarf in the summer?
A: He was cold before it was cool.

Q: How many hipsters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: We prefer organic, locally made candles. 

A hipster walks into a bar you've never heard of.

Two hipsters walk into a bar. The first one did it before it was cool, and the second one did it ironically.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, will a hipster have it on vinyl the next day?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Well You Ain't Never Caught A Rabbit

If I ever get cancer and need chemotherapy, and my hair disappears as a result, don't bother getting an expensive custom-made wig that recerates how my hair normally looks. Just pop down to the Halloween store and get me an Elvis wig.
What, you think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Can You Live This Fantasy Life?

As of late I've been searching for some lost classic rock songs I remember from my youth, and some of them I have found. Enough of this stuff, and some more recent discoveries, are in the pipeline that I will need two posts to get it all in. Part one as follows:

Aldo Nova - Fantasy

First up is Canadian rocker Aldo Nova, with the modest hit single 'Fantasy'. Interesting way of breaking that door down in the video. The song comes from Aldo Nova's self-titled debut album, released in 1980. The band would not see success bigger than that which accompanied this song.

I remember hearing 'Fantasy' on Channel 97, WRRK Braddock-Pittsburgh, when I was a kid. Early in their existence (which was also early in my existence) Channel 97 was the modern rock station, but by the time I really got into new music they had become a classic rock station with a massive library on account of getting all the new releases. Once a year, later in their existence, they would haul out this entire friggin' library of about 7,000 songs, if i remember correctly, and play the whole thing in alphabetical order. It damn near took them a month to do it, but it was epic. Most of the stuff in this list is either from the A To Z Playback, or got airplay on Channel 97 at some point.

The Hooters - And We Danced

Another Channel 97 memory, 'And We Danced' ended up in the early stages of an A To Z after Donnie Iris. Nervous Night was the album that gave us this gem, and Hooters, who hail from Philadelphia, had a long career, if mostly under the radar domestically, or more popularly in Europe.

Coney Hatch - Monkey Bars

If you ever wanted to know what Van Halen would be like if they were from Canada, this band, Coney Hatch, comes very close. Of Toronto, Ontario, and named for a mental asylum in nearby London, this hard rock quartet issued three albums over their career, with most attention going to this song, 'Monkey Bars'. 

I actually put in a request to Channel 97 for this song once, while I was under the impression that the band's name (or solo artist as it sounded) was Cody Hatch. Eh, I was ten or so.

Gamma - Thunder And Lightning

Previously discussed on this blog, Gamma was a late '70s AOR hard rock band fronted by the prolific, if largely under the radar, Ronnie Montrose.  I did not get a sleeve with my copy; it came free from a local record store, disc only. That is one whacked-out piece of cover art. Whacked. Out.

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band - On The Dark Side

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band could have easily been mistaken for Bruce and the E Street Band by those not familiar with either. Somehow, in creating the music for the movie Eddie & The Cruisers, Cafferty wrote and, along with his band, performed with a Boss-like sound - for a movie set in 1963. 'On The Dark Side' hit number one after the release of the movie in 1983, but that was as far as the group would go, despite getting a track on the Rocky IV soundtrack.

Spring - Hendre Mews

In 1971, an early progressive rock band released a single album, which did little, and broke up before completing a second effort. This was the band called Spring, who came to the attention of producer Kingsley Ward, owner of Rockfield Studios, when their van broke down in the village of Rockfield.

One of the main sound features of the record was rumored to be three Mellotrons, which the band apparently had available, but three of the pioneering keyboards never appear together on any of the tracks. After the breakup, drummer Pick Withers would go on to play with Dire Straits for the first four albums.

UFO - Too Hot To Handle
UFO were a British hard rock and heavy metal band that found better fame in Germany and Japan than their native Britain or the US. The 1977 album Lights Out contributes the gem 'Too Hot To Handle' to our roundup today. Lineup on this track has Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Raymond on keyboards, Pete Way on bass, Andy Parker on drums, and Michael Schenker on lead guitar. Schenker, being the younger brother of Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker and himself a brief member of the Scorpions early on, would leave for a solo career with his own group in 1980.

Neil Young (Stray Gators) - L.A.

So why did I include Neil Young on a list of favorite obscure rockers? The reason is that the album in question is obscure in Neil's catalog. Time Fades Away was recorded live over the course of a '73 tour Neil did that turned into a disaster. Neil broke up Crazy Horse after the heroin overdose death of guitarist Danny Whitten; formed a new band made up of session musicians not all of whom had even been on the road before or worked with Neil; sprung brand new, dark, semi-autobiographical songs on his unsuspecting audiences; and recorded the whole affair with a severely problematic digital mixer that bypassed the typical 2-track master tape stage. 

The whole album's 16-track configuration would have to be reassembled with extreme difficulty in order to remaster it for reissue; however, copies on vinyl and a preview of a cancelled HDCD issue are both circulating. That said, it's likely that TFA will not be officially re-released because of how disastrous the tour was and how many bad memories Neil still has of the experience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Circle Shows In A Ghostly Glow Of Earthly Luminescence

Just had an epic evening on the South Side with my friend Matt. In between chatting with random strangers about the 2010 Skynyrd concert at the Pavilion, jukebox terrorism (Aldo Nova, Tom Waits and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were on the front lines) and other random discussion items (needlessly expensive bars, romantic prospects, music, other friends, apartments we should be living in, etc.) we noted that tonight was a full moon, and we had the best time out down there that either of us have had in a long time. I've actually seen it before; a really awesome night out drinking on the South Side happens when there's a full moon.

Coincidence? I daresay I wonder. It's just consistent enough that I'm sure it's not by chance. I do wonder if it's not the case that, instead of us being aligned with the full moon, it's actually the South Side that exists in harmony with the glowing nighttime orb. What sun sign is Pittsburgh, anyway?

Also, we hit up Jack's, on Carson and 12th; and St. James Place, on South 18th, almost to the Slopes. Matt hadn't been to Jack's before, and I hadn't been there in about a couple months, so it was a good thing we stopped in. Got to talk to the bartenders who know me as a longtime regular (until recently); and Matt likes the place too now, so that's a plus. And St James' is the only bar I've heard of that has Duquesne on tap. Incidentally, Jack's is the only place I know that has Woodchuck hard cider on tap, now that I think about it. Those of you with wheat gluten allergies, I'm looking (figuratively) at you. 

Last but not least, I'm hoping to get a group together to go down the week after my birthday. I'll be spreading the word more officially soon, I hope, but we've got two birthdays to go first.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I've Been Drinking Bourbon Whiskey, Scotch, And Gin

Three interludes on the South Side.

The scene: Jack's Bar. A Monday night about two months ago. Free peanuts, quarter hot dogs, and dollar cans (in descending order of appeal, to me at least). So I get my first beer and go to the jukebox, cash in hand and sipping increasingly merrily all the while. I'm picking out my songs, which is my usual hipster mix of crazy stuff that no other person who has entered through that big green damn door would ever think about playing in Jack's. White Stripes, Mooney Suzuki, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, new Neil Young, MGMT, The Black Keys (especially the songs that haven't yet gotten radio play, as far as I know), obscure 70's hard rock bands, you name it.

Jack's e-jukebox has a feature where you exchange money for credits, and if you want to hear a song ahead of the rest of the queue, you pay a couple extra credits and create your own uber-queue. So I jam ten bucks in, put a bunch of my favorite bands in and am JUST about to finish up when SUDDENLY!

Let me pause briefly here and admit that I have never been, or at least noticed being, of much interest to attractive women. Don't ask me why, I couldn't tell you. Mostly because in order to find out, I'd need attractive women to pay attention to me. Twenty-two caught. But anyway, I'm suddenly beset upon by this fairly cute blonde who's all panicked over me playing my stuff ahead of her and her friends' selections. I mean, she was pleading for me to take her home and ravish her like a stop playing my music ahead of her  and her friends (which, since nothing else was in the uber-queue, shifted into my music gear almost immediately) because they were waiting for the Backstreet Boys (or possibly the Beastie Boys, I neither remember nor care) ALL NIGHT. I bet.

I swear, I could barely get a word in edgewise. I might have gotten in that I was almost done if I were more of an asshole,but I just couldn't get through to her. Better yet, she seemed to be pretty sober yet, or else a damn good actress. So I just said ok, that's cool, and went back to my barstool.

A couple minutes later, as the alcohol created its intended effect, I unexpectedly feel an arm slide across my shoulders. It even more unexpectedly turns out to be attached to another girl. Dang, I think to myself, forgetting what happened last time I was approached by a lady. (What do they put in that hard cider, anyway?) She mentions that I still had two songs' worth of credits on the box when I walked away.

Oh. Uh...yunz guys go ahead and use them, it's cool. (Not that they wanted to make out with me after that. Oh well. Two down, 3.5 billion to go.)


The scene: Dee's Cafe. A Wednesday night, a couple weeks later. I saunter in and order up. Shot-and-a-beer, just for the hell of it. And then a beer, and then a beer, ad nauseum (not literally).

Sometime later, as the haze is at its peak, these chicks walk in. Yes, they really did come in. Shut up. Anyway, the tall one in lace leggings goes to the back to meet someone she knows. The other two come up to the bar and order. As they're waiting for their drinks, they're discussing something. I catch a bit that goes something like this:

"...don't like long sideburns on a guy."

I reach up and feel in front of my ears. My sideburns, while not Union-general awesome, nonetheless make a beeline for the line of my chin from the top of my ear. I would've (and should've) asked if they meant me, but I'm afraid the answer might have been 'yes'. (What, like THESE sideburns!?)


The scene: Also Dee's Cafe. Another Wednesday night, another couple of weeks later still. Shot-and-a-beer, and halfway through the beer, I hit up the jukebox. One nice thing about Dee's jukebox is that it has a lot more music on it. Especially obscure stuff that Jack's just doesn't have, no matter how much I wish it were so. (Does that mean Dee's has more/better indie cred? Hmmmm....)

So I'm committing my usual jukebox terrorism, and these three girls traipse right on in and take a table. The tall one sits and waits for some dude, while the other two get in line for the jukebox behind me. This is starting to sound familiar...

I tell myself that that's just the shot and beer talking and proceed to slap some Guided By Voices, Pixies, more Black Keys, Ratatat, etc on the 'box. I then also proceed to sit my ass back down. The girls behind me do likewise.

I'm about four songs out from leaving, by my inebriated count, and, to put it gently, I really need to pee. On my way back to the restroom, I pass by the three girls' booth. One of them interrupts me. "Is your music going to be over anytime soon?"


I tell them it should only be about three or four songs to go. Then I shoot for the bathroom and return. I'm chilling, and realize that it's been four songs and my stuff is still playing. Fortunately, after a few moments of worry at how off-count I am, I realize that indeed, this is the last song. Nevertheless, I feel certain that I'm no longer on these girls' Christmas card lists. The moment the last song is over, down goes the tip, a wave to their table that I'm not even sure they saw and out the door I go.


And don't even get me started on the chick that started punching me in the ribs.