Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, December 31, 2012

12 New Year's Resolutions

  1. Be happier - Perhaps this is an odd resolution, but it's one I think everyone should make.
  2. Buy an HD TV - I've got Blu-rays and a Blu-Ray player, but my TV is freakin' heavy clunker. Yeah, it's a got a decent screen, but I'm afraid my dresser is going to collapse under the weight before too long. This TV is a beast. I want to get one of those neat slim ones like my brother and my parents have.
  3. Buy a Kindle - I know this is weird as I am a devout paper guy, but I want a Kindle now.
  4. Get out more often - I make this every year and it seems I never quite succeed. I'm a bit of a hermit so my friends don't see me that much. Of course, I'm so insanely awesome that my friends wish to see me more often and I understand their sentiment and appreciate it. I am indeed awesome. 
  5. Read More - I didn't read dick last year. I might have read five books. I've got to read more. I know work jerks me around on my schedule and I always been a routine kind of guy, but I certainly hope I can get a bit more reading done this year. 
  6. Continue to support anime - Yeah, this is a given. I'm going to keep flying the flag. 
  7. Find a new job - Fast food is an apt name because it gets old fast. I've been at Sonic for eight months and I'm hoping I can find something better on the horizon.
  8. Buy a new guitar amplifier - I really need one because mine is about seven years old and has severe limitations. I'm surprised the thing still works.
  9. Buy a Fender Strat - I've got an old Squire (Fender off-brand that just happens to looks like a Fender Strat) that doesn't hardly work much. The toggle switch is screwed up and if it's not in exactly the right position then the sound shuts off completely. The whammy bar has also been broken off for about six years. Hey, it happened when I was a newbie. Shut up. I've decided that I want a real Fender Strat after digging up my Squire and playing it again. 
  10. See a concert - I've never been to a concert. Ever. I want to go to a concert one day.
  11. Go to the beach - I am insanely pale-skinned and rarely go out. I can't swim, either. At least I don't think I can. You see, that's how often I get to swim. The last time I tried to swim I almost drowned, but the time before that I did fine. I just don't swim that often so I don't know. But I haven't felt sand between my toes in forever. Not since before my voice changed, I don't think. Of course, I normally won't be caught dead without a pair of jeans and a shirt on so that'll certainly be interesting.  
  12. Chop off Tony Iommi's remaining fingers and surgically attach them to my hand so I can play guitar better.  Play my guitar better. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Goodbye 2012

As of this moment I am employed to Sonic and making a paltry sum of money. That is a big change from 2011. I have my own car which I bought for the sum of $500 from my grandmother. That is also a big change from 2011. I have 22 anime titles in my collection when I used to just have one. Another change from 2011.

My father almost died in 2012 from liver failure and then miraculously got better in spite of how the hospitals treated him. I actually had to call 911 when he collapsed from a doctor's visit and that is something I never want to do again as long as I live. My brother fell into a manhole cover in Memphis and broke his knee. After too much time away from work, my brother was unceremoniously fired and I (with my father ill and my mother considered to be "untouchable" by prospective employers because of her own health condition) was left as the only person in my family making money. And that is only a pitiful $7.25 an hour with barely 38 hours a week.

This period in time sucked major balls and there were quite a few occasions where I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. A few times I probably did and just didn't really notice. During this time I didn't miss a single day of work, either. I couldn't. While my father was potentially on what could have been his deathbed I was making the moolah. Yup, 2012 can rot in hell.

But things got better toward the end of the year and I'm hoping 2013 is a vast improvement. My brother has landed a job interview, I believe, so that is good. Maybe I can find new employment, too. And my father is as healthy as an ox. We had a very merry Christmas and our inner-materialists are greatly satisfied.

I got From Dusk Till Dawn, Young Frankenstein, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Men in Black 3, and Spaceballs on Blu-ray for Christmas. I also got five Brando movies (Julius Caesar, Mutiny on the Bounty, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Teahouse of August Moon, and The Formula) and three John Wayne movies (The High and the Mighty, McLintock!, and Island in the Sky) on DVD.

I also got an Eli Manning jersey, a Giants hat, and a shirt that looks similar to an Eli Manning jersey but the fabric is like a regular shirt. Whereas the jersey would be a special occasion thing to wear the shirt could be more of a daily basis type of thing. I got a Pantera "Fucking Hostile" shirt, a Metallica "Ride the Lightning" shirt, a Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt, a Grateful Dead shirt, and two new pairs of pajamas. I also got cologne (something I've never used before) and a beard trimmer (something I've also never used before).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I love Christmas. I think holiday shopping is a lot like scavenger hunting and the goal is to find that one item that no one could even think of getting. And I admit, my inner ten year old comes out this time of year and I don't think I'll ever quite shake the anticipation of opening the gifts. But now I take as much joy in watching my mom, dad, or brother opening their swag as I do in opening mine.

Our tree is full this year. I've heard that the real reason for the season is not commercialism and I don't oppose that view, but it sucks ass having nothing under that tree. I've been there and got the t-shirt. There's no joy in that.

"Gee, what am I getting for Christmas?"

It's kind of like watching your team miss the playoffs or a bad case of the blue balls.

So allow me a chance to gloat and post a picture of all the shit under/around/near our tree:

Tomorrow morning it will all be demolished and we'll see what surprises lurk behind the wrapping.

Friday, December 21, 2012

AC/DC Goes Great With Trigun

Don't you just love a good music video? Trigun is one of my favorite TV shows. So I naturally wrote a story about it. You can read it here. The story continues on the TV show and includes a character featured prominently in this story.

Anyway, I love it when people take the time to combine music they love with shows they love. I know it's very time-consuming, but people still do it and I appreciate it. AC/DC goes great with Trigun.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Overlooked Albums Vol. 2

Pantera/ The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) - Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, and Far Beyond Driven are undoubtedly the heavies from the Pantera catalog. And Reinventing the Steel is pretty damn good, too. But The Great Southern Trendkill gets a little lost in the shuffle. The album features the most down-tuned guitars of any Pantera album, the fastest songs of any Pantera album, and Phil Anselmo's most brutal vocal performances. It's a bruising album and undoubtedly the least accessible of Pantera's albums in terms commercial appeal, but it is far from a bad album. Drag the Waters is the song that most people are probably familiar with because of its place on the official greatest hits release, but it's be criminal to overlook Floods or 10's. 10's is actually featured in the Funimation dub of the Dragonball Z: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan movie and Floods contains what could very well be the finest guitar solo of Dimebag's career.

Now if you are familiar with Pantera then you probably know that this was their eighth album. If not, then now you do. Their first four albums are called Metal Magic, Projects in the Jungle, I Am the Night, and Power Metal. These albums could be called overlooked, but I don't particularly care for them. They make for a nice novelty listen every now and then just to hear what Pantera was like before they really became the Pantera we all know and love, but they are worthy of mentioning, I suppose. The first three albums feature a guy named Terry Glaze on vocals and not Phil Anselmo. Power Metal is the first album to feature Phil Anselmo, but he and the rest of the band are still hanging onto the glam thing. It's all pretty jarring if you only know songs like Mouth for War or Five Minutes Alone and Anselmo certainly hits more high notes than he did on Cowboy from Hell

Rebel Meets Rebel/ Rebel Meets Rebel  (2006) - Metallica and Lou Reed might not exactly have been a winning combination, but Pantera and David Allan Coe certainly was. Largely worked on from the late 90's to the demise of Pantera in 2003, Rebel Meets Rebel was ultimately released in 2006, two years after Dimebag Darrell's murder on December 8th. Exit Phil Anselmo and enter David Allan Coe as vocalist and you have this album. The songwriting still maintains the edge of Pantera, but it has a more "cowboy" feel which is more or less the whole point of this album. Hank Williams III sings guest vocals on Get Outta My Life, Dimebag (in a rare singing role) and David exchange lyrics in the title track (with fiddle-accompaniment), and the the cherry on top is the thrash-like opener Nothin' to Lose. This is country metal and I wouldn't mind a few more albums like this. Unfortunately, this was a one-time project and not many marquee metal musicians or country singers have the stones for a fusion of this type.

Mountain/ Nantucket Sleighride (1971) - In 1820, Owen Coffin was a seaman aboard a Nantucket whaleship when it was rammed and ultimately sunk by a sperm whale. After the wreck his shipmates shot and ate him. This is what the title song is named for. The title also refers to the ride that whale ships would take when being pulled through the water by a whale they had harpooned. Leslie West, the guitarist for this criminally overlooked band didn't even know what a "Nantucket Sleighride" was when bassist Felix Pappalardi brought the song in. The title song is complicated and has a very progressive feel to it. It's almost a shame that Mississippi Queen (from Climbing!) is the only song most people know from them. And it's probably worth mentioning that Pappalardi was the producer of Cream and Mountain certainly has a Cream quality to it. (Leslie West actually formed a band with Jack Bruce at one point, by the way. ) The majority of these songs are written by Pappalardi and his wife Gail Collins. It's kind of ironic that a song written by a guy who was shot and killed was also written by a guy who would also be shot and killed (albeit under different circumstances). Pappalardi was killed by his wife in Gail in 1983. His legacy is undoubtedly forever attached to Cream and Mississippi Queen, but this album should be mentioned, too. In fact, so should Climbing! Listen to them both. They are fantastic albums.

A version of Mountain still tours with Leslie West (who actually started Mountain out as a solo band) and they still rock, but there's something extra special about the four years that Pappalardi was in Mountain.

Leslie West recently released a solo album entitled Unusual Suspects and I highly recommend it.

P.S. - The band Leslie West formed with Jack Bruce was called West, Bruce, & Laing. They released two studio albums (Why Don'tcha and Whatever Turns You On) and one live album (Live 'n' Kickin'). You could do worse than to look them up.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The 2012 SEC Championship Game

It doesn't normally happen like this. In fact, it almost never does. The SEC is full of hard-hitting no-nonsense defenses that don't like it when teams get score-happy. The SEC was the first conference to introduce as championship game in 1992 and it has since had little to add in the way of excitement. Before today only four games had been decided by less than 10 points. Four. The games in 1992 (Alabama/Florida - 28/21), 1994 (Alabama/Florida - 23/24), 1997 (Tennessee/Auburn - 30/29), and 2007 (LSU/Tennessee - 21/14) were the only ones that could make this boast before today.

The previous four years have brought us such ass-whippings as LSU's throttling of Georgia 42-10 in 2011, Alabama losing to Teblow in 2008 to the tune of 31-20, and Alabama making ole Teblow cry the next year in a 32-13 beatdown. Let us not forget the 56-17 ass-whipping Auburn delivered to South Carolina, either.

If you are a fan of close football games and slug-fests then you could do better elsewhere. 

But every now and then we catch lightning in a bottle. 

I certainly knew the game would be close. Of course, Georgia got whipped by South Carolina during the regular season, but after watching Alabama struggle with LSU and Texas A&M earlier this season I was understandably nervous. Earlier in the year the talk was that Alabama could at least make a show against an NFL team, but cracks began showing and the Tide seemed to become a bit more disorganized. 

And we found ourselves on the outside looking in for the second year in a row. When Oregon and Kansas State fell, many of us knew that we were blessed again and it was time to kick ass again all the way to the National Championship game. 

Nothing Georgia had done during the year suggested that we'd get what we got. And while Alabama had already been in two tussles earlier in the season with LSU and A&M, there was nothing to suggest they'd have the same problem with Georgia. 

But Georgia showed up in a way they obviously didn't against South Carolina. This was one for the ages and I can practically hear all of the Georgia fans crying and the Notre Dame fans cursing their luck. 

We watched two teams give their best when it really counted. It wasn't perfect for either team, but each team had a shot and only five yards and five seconds proved to be the difference in the game. SEC fan or not, if you didn't appreciate this game then something is severely wrong with you. 

The first half was a typical defensive battle and the second half was a score-fest. 

This was everything a fan could hope for. Naturally, all of the Alabama fans wish that the game had been a beatdown, but we are all impressed by Georgia. They knew what was on the line and they played accordingly. Undoubtedly, they remembered being embarrassed last year by LSU and that added extra fire. 

No matter who won the SEC would win because it gets a representative in the SEC, but that winner turned out to be Bama and its their first conference title since the revenge against Teblow in 2009. They have a shot to make a dynasty and to keep the BCS National Championship in the state for the fourth straight year. 

It was a helluva game. 

Now there is one more to go and it is only fitting that the game would be against Notre Dame. This match-up might turn out to be a bit one-sided so appreciate the National "semi-final" you just witnessed. 

Roll Tide.