Monday, July 25, 2011

Rock Stars and Death

I cannot help but notice the outpouring of emotion regarding the death of Amy Winehouse.  Not only can I not help but notice, but you cannot get away from it.  I only have one emotion regarding this.  Anger.  It pisses me off.  No, her death doesn't make me mad.  Any time someone kills themselves with drugs, I just don't get it how everyone sees it as tragic. 

Do you want to know what a real tragedy is to me?  A bus accident.  Having a bus roll over multiple times and come to a stop on top of a band member.  A shooting.  A gunman jumping on stage and shooting a guitar player several times in the head.  It it one thing to have a life taken and another thing to give it away.  Which is more tragic? 

When a musician makes the choice, when they would rather kill themselves then create and play music, the end is inevitable.  As fans, we have to see it coming, sooner or later.  I'm not saying the music they created wasn't good or even great but we should be mourning the music more then anything.  Where is the line between a great musician and a great person?  They are not always the same and we should not try to sugar coat someones life just because they pass away. 

I loved the music that Layne Staley made with Alice In Chains.  They were one of my favorite bands growing up.  Layne had a huge drug problem.  It was around that time I started to notice that many musicians can create great works of art and at the same time, slowly kill them selves while doing it.  You could see the progression.  They started to tour less and less.  He was not seen in public very much.  When he passed, they say they found his body after he had been dead for 2 weeks.  Drug overdose.  I was more hurt knowing that he would not be around with the band to create that great music any more than him passing away.  I miss the music more than the man. 

Kurt Cobain.  I liked Nirvana but I was never a huge fan.  I like several songs and bought the albums but I didn't think Kurt was the voice of my generation as I was told repeatedly.  I thought the music Nirvana made was very creative and different and it should have continued a lot longer.  Sure, I think they would have got to the point where it wasn't fun and they could have broken up, but we will never know.  When I hear a song from them on the radio I sometimes think of what might have been.  When I see the things that Dave Grohl has done with The Foo Fighters in the years since, what would Nirvana sound like today if he was leading the band creatively?  I don't feel bad that Kurt killed himself, I feel bad the band never reached it full potential. 

Dimebag Darrell.  I still get a little emotional when I think about the night he was killed.  Pantera fell apart.  Darrell and his brother Vinny Paul vowed to continue on with Damage Plan.  They were not going to let a few bad attitudes ruin their creative drive.  They were out there playing the small clubs with their new band and doing it for the fans.  It all came crashing to a halt.  A gunman jumped up on the stage right as the band took to the stage for their first song.  He went right to Darrell.  The gunman ended up killing more people and wounding several others before he was shot dead by a police officer.  Darrell had such a big heart and so much more music left in him.  He was always making time to talk with fans and sign an autograph if they asked.  He genuinely enjoyed life and wanted to celebrate it with everyone around him.  It hurt, and it still does.  I feel bad that his life was taken.  I miss the music AND the man.  That doesn't happen in the world of music very often. 

Cliff Burton.  He took the music of Metallica to new heights and helped shape the growing Thrash Metal movement of the early Eighties.  All I have ever heard about Cliff is that he was a genuine guy, he walked it like he talked it.  The Metallica that we know today would not exist if it was not for the early influence of Cliff.  The bus accident, after seeing the pictures, its hard to believe no one else was killed.  His influence is still felt by the band today.  You can see a glaring difference in the music that was made before and then after his death.  I was too young at the time of his death so I grew to love his music a few years later.  Reading the old interviews, watching the performance footage and listening to the music he created.  I grew to miss him.  Sure the music was great, but I feel even if he wasn't with the band anymore, just having him around and playing music would be a good feeling, knowing that someone out there was doing what they wanted and how they wanted to do it.  Cliff was taken from us.  It was not his choice.  I feel bad for his family and the rest of the band, they lost a brother that night.  I would love to have new music from Cliff and at the same time I would want him to have more time with his family and friends. 

So when I see all the Facebook posts and Tweets about Amy Winehouse, I don't feel anything.  Was her music that good?  Did all those people really love her music?  I heard a few songs, they did nothing for me.  Her life was cut short because she wanted it to be.  Unless they reveal that, in fact, she was murdered, we all had to see this coming.  I get a little pissed off when people make such a big deal over people like her, the ones that can't handle life, the ones that take the easy way out.  The ones that need chemicals constantly in their system, just to get through the day.  Why do we not see the same reaction to the lives that are taken?  Some enjoy and celebrate life and when those people are TAKEN from us, its a quick blurb on the evening news then its never mentioned again.  Some willingly GIVE their life away and we have to hear about it for weeks. 

I will continue to support the music and legacy of those musicians that gave their all and were TAKEN from us.  Those that GAVE their lives away, I may listen to a few songs here and there, but not having them around, no big deal.  I can't feel any pity for them.  The love and respect given to those TAKEN from us will more then make up for that small void. 

And before anyone says anything, no, I do not know why Ozzy and Keith Richards are still alive. 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Nazis, John Wayne and September 11th

  I'm Going to start this one off with a quote:

     "Of course the people don't want war.  But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

HERMANN GORING - Nuremberg Trials

     It all sounds to easy.  But this has been going on for so long, they have it down to a science.  Of course the thing that should be on every ones mind's is September 11th.  The Germans had the Reichstag fire to rally the people and give Hitler "dictatorial powers".  We don't need to get into World War II right now, but keep that in mind.  So, what is the connection between the two?  What happened with our country right after September 11th?  Our President came out on the T.V. and talked like John Wayne, to rally the people to go to war.  Sound Familiar? 

     I remember how good it felt that we were going after the "terrorists" that did this to us.  But looking back, there are way too many questions that remain unanswered and most likely never will be.  We were all so in shock by what we were seeing on T.V. that day we never stopped to ask why did those steel buildings fell so fast?  Why did building 7 fall?  How did we know who was responsible the very next day?  Everything happened so fast.

     Not many people have heard of this, Project for the New American Century.  It was a think tank based in Washington D.C. , of which, Vice President Dick Cheney was a part of.  In this document, they called for many changes and rules for the future of the country.  And, in their own words, "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor".  These words came from their report Rebuilding America's Defenses that was published in September 2000.  I believe, the reason everything happened to fast, is they had a plan, they knew exactly what they were going to do and how they would do it. 

     I know a lot of people, if they are even still reading this, can turn a blind eye to anything that openly questions the government.  I used to think people that asked too many questions of any thing were just looking for an excuse to call someone a liar.  It took a long time before I realized that asking questions and talking about things are what clears the air.  Many people are not there yet, they have not reached that point when they will realize that not everything is out in the open.  For every 1 thing we are told, there are hundreds that we are not told.  Before, I never really thought about it, so it didn't bother me.  Now it does. 

     All I'm saying is that, we are not being told everything.  History is repeating itself.  We need to be asking more questions.  I'm sure I will come back to this subject again and I have to start somewhere.  Every time there is a major news story, just ask yourself who might be profiting from this?  Or who stands to gain the most from this situation?  I've grown to be very skeptical of the news and you should be too.  Look at the success rate for anything the government has been involved in, that should be more then enough to get people to question things more and more.  What are some things you are starting to question?


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Music Evolution?

Just a few things I've been noticing lately. 

The radio can be a great place and a horrible place to hear new music.  Listening to my favorite rock radio station here in Seattle, we get more then our fair share of big name local bands played all the time.  Some days, it seams like, every hour we get the same hand full of songs from the same bands.  Now, most of these are really good songs, but they tend to lose their impact when you hear them so much.  Then they throw in a few newer songs, mostly from newer bands, which is good.  But unless I already know that a band I like is coming out with a new album, it would take a while to hear something from the radio. 

Not to mention the classic rock songs that are in the mix as well.  I'm all for keeping those bands on the air, especially in a place like Seattle that has such a vast and rich music history.  But same as before, you hear the same songs all the time.  I live about a mile from the grave of Jimi Hendrix and I wouldn't mind having a break sometimes from his songs on the radio.  Nirvana is great, but should we have to hear a song from them every hour?  And Pearl Jam?  And Soundgarden?  The people that pick what songs go on the radio are probably doing a good job, but when you listen to the radio a lot you hear a lot of the same things over and over.  Is it like that in other cities in the country? 

What does it take to get a new band or album played on the radio?  Is it demand from fans?  Is it money for promotion?  Is is just the history that the band brings with them?  I noticed a few things about some of the bigger bands, like Metallica.  They can put out a new album and when they release a single, it will get radio air play for the first few weeks.  Then it kind of slowly just goes away.  Our rock station plays a lot of Metallica anyways, but they play songs from The Black Album like it just came out last month.  I was driving around Seattle on Friday and I heard, Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Fade to Black, Where Ever I May Roam and Sad But True.  Now, I heard these songs through out the day, but starting around 7AM until around 4PM, to hear all these songs, 4, from an album that came out 20 years ago, when they have a great album that came out just a couple of years ago just seams weird to me.  I'm sure opinions will greatly vary from fan to fan, but I really enjoyed Death Magnetic.  There are a few songs that I'm really surprised that they don't get played on the radio that much. 

And what keeps those old songs coming back?  Are the fans in Seattle ringing the radio station's phones off the hook with requests for Smells Like Teen Spirit every morning and afternoon?  I still like that song, but I'll only listen to it about every tenth time it comes on.  And I love Hendrix, but I'll listen to about half the song before I change it.  So, what do we change the station to?  When it comes to the radio, we don't pay anything for it.  So if there is a song that comes on that I kinda maybe sorta like, I'll listen.  It only costs me my time. 

I'm just now starting to be OK with admitting this.  I'm a sucker for a good song.  Whether it be rock, pop, country or rap or whatever.  I remember growing up there was almost a gang mentality with music genres.  If you liked rock you only listened to rock, if you liked rap you only listened to rap and so on.  But now days everything is so mixed, you can blink and miss out on so much by being closed off like that.  So I'm OK with turning the radio station over to the pop side for a few songs.  Now, granted, most of them I don't like.  But there are a lot of really talented singers there.  Most times the songs do match up with what they are capable of, but not every song can be like that.  Country is the same way.  There are a lot of really awesome country performers out there right now.  And a lot of not so good ones too, but that goes with anything too.  10 years ago, I wouldn't have turned on the country station, now its part of the rotation. 

How do you go from one type of song to the next?  What kind of play lists do you make for yourself?  Still talking about the radio here, it can very so much from song to song and factor in flipping through the stations from rock, pop and country and you get a wide range of emotions going on.  But do you do that when you make your own?  Every genre have their share of "party songs" and "good time" type songs, but do you group them all together?  So you space them out and mix in a few other songs with some different meanings?  When I listen to a song, I like to try and hear what they mean.  Where the emotion is coming from.  I think about, what might have happened in their life that made the song writer put those words together like that.  So I find it refreshing to go from a heavy emotional song over to a song that the only motivation is to party, then over to something that is really driven by the music (guitar work or something like that).  Maybe its just me, but I like keeping things fresh and changing.  When I hear a pop song, I'll listen to it, then I think, well that's a good song but can they keep it up for an entire album?  That's another point that will get brought up in another blog, (singles VS whole albums). 

But in this day and age, are other people listening to music like this?  Or is the attention span not holding on long enough?  Is a good pop song with a catchy beat and a good chorus, is it just out there  to sell the performer or the song?  It feels like it was easier to tell back when a pretty girl didn't really have a voice to back it up with and you could tell someone was just trying to make a buck.  Nowadays, you have really good songs, being written and performed by talented artists that can do more then just look good in front of the camera.  That is one glaring difference I have seen over the last several years.  The true talents are going strong.  The catchy songs with no substance, those are still around and always will be, but they come and go a lot faster then they used to.  When I was younger I used to get sucked into listening to a bad song just because the singer was hot.  Well, sometimes I still do, but there is that part of me now that will actually give the song a chance and see if it has any merit.  Is there anything that I can relate to?  Is there something coming across from this artist that is not obvious? I like looking for those things.  Its hard to explain and put into words. 

So after my long ramble, how do you listen to music?  Do you listen to the same songs over and over?  Do you catch yourself hearing something new in those old songs?  Do they remind you of the good old days?  Do they inspire you in anyway?  Does anyone "hate" a certain genre of music anymore?  Maybe I'm more patient.  Maybe I'm just getting older.  I'm sure that's it. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Comic Book Movies

I think a lot of people don't "get it" when it comes to movies that are based on comic books.  Maybe I just hold them a little too close because I used to read them a lot.  But either way, the last few years have been really exciting.  I should back up a little bit to explain why. 

I first started reading comic books right around JR High.  I was never really into the Superman and Batman type DC stuff.  I was into Marvel from the get go.  I gravitated towards the X-Men and Wolverine, Spiderman and once the Image company started I followed most of the first characters(Spawn, Wild Cats).  Seams weird to say but these types of characters felt more "real", a lot of the problems they faced were real life, mixed in with the super villains of course.  There was a time when the supposed villains had heroic traits, creating a few characters that became known as "anti-heros".  Or heroes that had major flaws in their character. 

I don't think anyone would have known the type of reaction the first few movies would have brought.  There have been a couple of hits on the radar a few years ago, like, Blade, but once the big boys hit with X-Men and Spiderman, the flood gates opened up.  Many of them following a predictable formula of the first movie starting with the origin and a "classic" villain before moving into a lot of action with the second movie.  There have been a lot of really good movies and a lot of almost as good movies, but nothing has really failed until recently with the release of DC's Green Lantern.  But with so many characters and stories, there would have to be a few bombs sooner or later.  Hopefully the filmmakers will focus more on story and characters rather then trying to sell the latest CGI graphics and 3-D gimmicks. 

There is a weird line drawn when it comes to certain characters and movie studios that not a lot of people know about.  Marvel Comics created characters like Spiderman, X-Men and The Fantastic Four but they do not own the movie rights to these characters.  Once Marvel started making their own movies, there was a sense of really bringing the comic books to life rather then just having a story very loosely based on it.  Compare The Fantastic Four movie with Ironman.  Most people like Ironman better and mostly because it was the better made movie.  This was Marvel taking care of their character and their story.  Not a movie studio not caring what they cut of change to get a movie made. 

Don't get me wrong, some of those movies created by other movie studios have been great.  But I feel Marvel would have done a better job over all, especially when the sequels started adding up.  Can you imagine Spiderman 3 and X-Men 3 being as bland if Marvel was doing them?  Those were OK movies, but they had potential to be great.  Tell a bigger story and flesh out the characters more, rather then putting together a pale clone with often very little in common with their comic book counterpart.  Take the last scene in X-men origins Wolverine.  Why create a whole new and different character instead of bringing to life the character that everyone knows should have been there?  Was it money?  Was it the costume? Was it they thought we needed to be amazed at something new and different but went against what we all knew? 

Spiderman 1 and 2, along with the first 2 X-Men movies were some of the best, but when number 3 hit, they both took a step backwards.  I can totally understand taking liberties with certain characters and story lines so to an extent I'm OK with it.  What I don't understand is when they take a well known character and totally change them so they are almost unrecognizable.  Do they so this just so they can say, "Hey look, I've put So and So in my new movie, come see it." 

One of the best characters to come along in the last 20 years or so got treated like a second rate cameo.  Granted, in order to do the character justice they would have had to make the story a whole separate movie, which they should have done, instead they quickly put together a story with totally different origins, gave him about 7 minutes total screen time in a 2 and a half hour movie and they (spoiler alert) killed him at the end.  Just like that, in this movie universe, that character is done with.  Of course, we all know that most characters never stay dead, but still, it makes it harder to come up with a reason why he came back from the dead later on. 

I'll have to come back to this subject later.  There is a lot that can be said.  I would like some input from readers if there are any!  What do you feel about all these movies coming out?


Monday, July 4, 2011


Went and watched the new Transformers movie today.  I have to say that I liked it.  I've liked all of them so far.  I have heard so many complaints about all of them, enough that it kind of bugs me a little.  I've heard or read complaints ranging from poor character development to weak story lines.  Maybe there is one thing that those people seam to forget when they watch these movies.  They are based on a cartoon from the early '80's and the sole purpose of that cartoon was to sell the toys.  No matter how much money they throw at the screen for us to take in, no matter how many sequels or what dimension we see it in.  Its based on a toy. 

Now, I grew up watching those cartoons and yes, I had many of those toys (that I would LOVE to have today).  It was fun.  It was classic Good Guys VS Bad Guys but with giant robots.  What was there for a kid not to like?  Poor character development? HA!  When the first Tramsformers movie was released, a lot of old school fans immediately complained that the movie robots looked nothing like the original cartoons.  Seriously?  Do people realize how goofy and in some cases, down right stupid some things would look if they were translated directly to the big screen?  Looking back on those cartoons, yeah, there are a few things I would like to see on the big screen.  But once in a while, when the Good Guys would win, the robots would celebrate and dance.  NOW, would those same people that were complaining about the looks be happy with dancing robots at the end? 

The whole 3-D fad may come and go, but I believe it works best for movies like this.  The Summer Blockbuster.  Some have said movies like this are a, "check your brain at the door" type.  How can you go into a movie about giant robots fighting and expect an Oscar winner?  Not to say you should have no expectations, but c'mon, you paid to see a movie about giant robots and you want to complain about how believable it is? 

I remember back when the very first Transformers movie came out, the animated one.  It was great.  We got the video and watched I probably 3 times in one night.  I do realize they started that movie where the cartoon left off, which I was watching all the time anyways, so they could jump right into the action without having to come up with some kind of origin story for the masses to except.  But in less then an hour and a half, they were able to cram in a ton of action, a cool story and one of the greatest bad guys ever.  That is one story I would love to see translated to the big screen.  Unicron.  Cmon, do it!

Now that they have 3 movies about fighting on Earth, I think its time to take this fight to space.  Do something on the Transformers home planet of Cybertron.  Plus they have killed Megatron twice, the next logical step would be to have him go through the transformation into Galvatron.  Optimus Prime, while I have enjoyed watching him kick butt for 3 movies now, I think its time to introduce Hot Rod and eventually Rodimus Prime.  Maybe the Dinobots too?  and while we are at it, give Sam one of those cool transforming suits.  This was the best Sam to date and seeing him grow and fight along the Autobots would be cool.  Most of the other humans are interchangeable, Bay swapped out Megan Fox for some Victoria's Secret model and not much was really different but the hair color. 

I know I may be asking for a lot for a live action movie so I propose they make a 2 part story and film both movies back to back, like the Lord of the Rings movies where.  They are spending HUGE amounts of money on the budgets for these movies now and half of the movie is CGI anyways, whats a few more million in the bucket?  Michael Bay says he is done with the Transformers after this 3rd one.  OK.  Lets get someone else, someone that knows these characters and how to handle them.  Get us Steven Spielberg.  Or his highest paid Mexican equivalent, Steven Spielbergo (you get extra points if you know where I got that).  

This new movie will probably gross a billion dollars and the next movie will probably have a new cast and director and everything so the movie studio will probably call it a "reboot" and want to retell the origin again,  so my hopes and dreams will probably have to wait a few more decades.  But how awesome would it be to have a giant planet munching robot taking on all the Autobots and Deceptacons at once?  A guy can dream can't he?