Wolter's Random Braindump, Vol 40

October 29, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

Some assorted thoughts on this fine Thursday:

Through a combination of extremely bad planning and wretched tiredness, I missed the World Series opener. However, I guessed the outcome solely by noticing the lack of psychotically pro-Yankee facebook status updates from friends of mine who have no business rooting for that team. Nobody's louder than a Yankees fan when they win, and nobody changes the subject faster than a Yankees fan when they lose. I'm hoping for a sweep.

On that note, while I think it's good for the Series to have a villain, there is nothing I want more than for the Cubs to have more 21st century WS wins than the Yankees. Anyone who wishes otherwise is insane at best, and at worst, a traitor to the human race.

I haven't done any sophisticated analysis on the TMS 2009 baseball predictions, but I believe this entry wins the award for Most Completely Correct Prediction in History.

"The 97 mph fastball was long gone, the aura and mystique had faded, and he was fighting to prove his ability to merely contribute. The former Cy Young ace was now a conjurer, a Merlin of the mound, hoping his knowledge, guile, and a little bit of smoke and mirrors was enough to make it back to the Show.

"Sadly, I don't think it was."

"The box score will say Pedro didn't do that badly, giving up one hit, hitting a batter, and striking out one. But great change-up aside, I'd say his tank is empty."

"... I wouldn't be surprised if Sunday was the last day of Pedro Martinez's brilliant baseball career."
This is the exact sort of predictive skill one would expect from a writer for a blog named after future Hall of Famer Matthew Henry Murton.

Sadly, it looks like I'm missing tonight's game due to a prior engagement, but I really hope Pedro sticks it to the Yankees all over again. It would be so very, very sweet.

Part of the bad planning mentioned above was an unscheduled trip to the Apple Store with my fiancee and her mother to help her with a PC-to-Mac switchover. This, in itself isn't hard. I've actually done it twice now. But the Best Buy employee that originally backed up her PC files did a number on it. Let me tell you this: I'm not a computer guy, so I love Macs. I love iPods. I really love my iPhone. But two-and-a-half hours in an Apple Store is a form of almost Lovecraftian horror. Nothing makes sense after about a half-hour, and by the 2nd hour sinister forces beyond your comprehension begin to reveal themselves to you. On the plus side, the wi-fi was free.

I have decided not to include pictures in this blog post. Why? Because I hate you, the reader.

Behind the scenes at TMS, we spend a lot of time deciding to whom we give support, and from whom we take it away. There have been some rumblings that we must no longer support Wanda Sykes (which surprised me, because I didn't even see her name on the TMS Support Whiteboard). Brant Brown has offered the following evidence for the prosecution:
"The promotional spots for her new Saturday night talk show on FOX have become a painful nuisance on our otherwise peaceful Sunday NFL and MLB viewing. What is really expected here? The Wanda Sykes Show will air at 11:00 p.m. Sure it will get a half-hour jump start on Saturday Night Live, but let's be serious: no one watches late night television on Saturdays anymore. Conan is struggling to regain his predecessor's ratings numbers on weeknights, and Leno is living his own Bad Idea Jeans commercial at a "gimme" 10:00 p.m. slot.

"Will people DVR her show and watch it later? C'mon, would you DVR it? Our DVRs as a nation are so backlogged with Top Chef and Ice Road Truckers episodes that we'll never get to Wanda.

"The bottom line is that there is no incentive to watch The Wanda Sykes Show. Don't get us wrong, she's not a hack like George Lopez. It's just that her style of comedy really works when it is untethered, but it will be difficult to translate to network television. While we applaud her good fortune, we can no longer support her entertainment endeavors.
Even playing Devil's Advocate, I can only come up with the following Lionel Hutzian defense:

"Well, she was funny in her segments on Dr. Katz"
Ok, I don't really hate you, the reader. I was just being cranky. I think I need a nap. And some cheap scotch.

Apparently, the Cubs are considering leaving their spring home in Mesa, Arizona if they are not granted new facilities. If so, they would move right near the tip of America's Dong, Florida. Naples, to be precise. While this sort of thing doesn't move me too deeply, it has long been my policy to support the destruction of Florida, and everything it stands for. Except for quality Death Metal and Space Mountain, everything Florida has given to this nation has disappointed me mightily. Wait. Even Space Mountain is kind of blah. Well, at least they have Atheist. I'd rant more about how much Florida sucks politically, but I usually leave our radical liberal agenda to resident TMS Communard, Arcturus.

On a final note: I will be celebrating Halloween this year, the same way I always do - sitting alone in the dark, drinking cheap scotch, and listening to the Misfits. Feel free to do the same.

Concertgoing For Dummies: The Indie Scene

October 27, 2009 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Hey, have you been to a music show lately? If you're a follower of this blog, there's no doubt that you've read about many o' indie bands. Christ, Chip Wesley gives you enough to listen to for the next five years in his Albums of the Year posts. Perhaps your interest has been piqued and you want to see some of these groups live. It's a tough world out there, folks. It's not like the good ol' days when you could just wear Levi's and a t-shirt to a Slowhand show while you danced at will. Nope. Sorry. Things have changed. Luckily for you, I learned my lesson last night about what the rules are for watching an indie band. My shame is now for your benefit. You're welcome.

The most important thing to remember is that the music is not paramount; you're actions and appearance are what matter most.


Goddamnit, this is important, so listen up. Floppy hair is best, and don't be afraid to use some light product, though take care to make it look a bit disheveled. Any and all hair should be combed in a consistent direction, with best results being the sideways style. If you must wear something on your head, a fedora or a 70's era tuque is acceptable, as is a hoodie (only worn with the hood up while inside).

Facial hair is acceptable and often encouraged. NEVER wear a goatee, but feel free to sport a beard, the more length, the better. If you must, an ironic moustache is passable, but never for back-to-back concerts. If you're unable to grow a beard, at least have the decency to have some sideburns, preferably flared at the bottom. There's a reason Dylan from 90210 is epic. Also acceptable: mutton chops.

If you wear glasses, you have one choice and one choice only: Rivers Cuomo

T-shirts are OK as long as they are promoting an obscure band, an indie record label, or a solid and uncommon color. However, this time of year calls for something long sleeved, even with the show being indoors. Tweed sportcoats and cardigans are the go-to getup. Bonus points if either have some sort of elbow patch.

If your pants aren't an indigo color, you might as well stay home. Levi's or Old Navy jeans are for Foo Fighters fans. It's enough to have you tried for war crimes, so don't even think about it. Sizing is just as important as color. Find out your "mainstream" size and then go with at least two sizes smaller.

Footwear lends you two non-negotiable choices. The first is the timeless indie classic, the low-cut Converse All-Stars. Your only other option is a lip-on dress shoe. Again, this is non-negotiable. Tennis shoes are for Pearl Jam fans.


Now that you're fit to go outside and be seen by other indie fans, you better learn how to act. Yeah, the music may be great, but knowing how to act is the key to avoid discriminating looks.

If the show is in an intimate setting, there is no standing. You shall stay seated and view the band with a discriminating eye. Feel free to eat some food, maybe even pack that in your napsack. By all means indulge in a beverage as long as it's a microbrew from at least two states away from your location, or an obscure European brew.

If your location demands that you stand, for the love of God, please DON'T DANCE. Try and find a wall that you can lean on. Once you're good and posted up, you can tap your foot to the bass beat of the drum and/or gently nod your head. Don't forget to give a simple and conservative applause after each song. Any more than that and you might as well get tickets to a Rolling Stones concert.

Indie events are a family friendly affair. Bring your kids and be sure to bring a large bag of toys. Even newborns are perfectly acceptable to bring along. Just be sure to bring ear protection for little ones under the age of 1. Don't worry if your rugrats wander during the show, your fellow indies will keep them entertained, all the while viewing you as "the cool parent they never had".

When it's all over, buy a sticker from one of the opening bands (not the headliner) and converse with others. Be positive, but keep it in check. You know that sound guy had the rhythm guitar WAY too loud.

Overrated/Underrated: Horror Movies

October 26, 2009 | Comments (1) | by Adam Blank

Here at the saloon, I'm known as the bartender most knowledgeable about horror movies. I'm sure this is unrelated to me being also known as: 1) the only bartender without a wife/girlfriend, 2) the bartender who has been unemployed the longest, and 3) the bartender with the most serious drinking problem. That being said, here are 10 Overrated/Underrated Horror movies to help you along with your Halloween horror movie viewing choices...


5) Night of the Demons: On the night of Halloween, 10 teens decide to go to a party at an abandoned funeral parlor. "Hull House", rumored to be built on an evil patch of land.
I'm always trying to pimp this movie. I won't lie, Night of the Demons isn't scary at all. But it's easily the most entertaining horror movie ever made. Sure the premise is has been done to death, but the outstanding direction makes the evil house feel like it really exists, the cartoonish internal logic stays consistent, the gore is used appropriately, and the pace is lightning-quick. Even though the characters are all stereotypes, every one of them is likeable in their own way. The special effects hold up much better that you'd expect for a 20+ year old low-budget horror movie. The dated dialogue is so absurd that it's quotable, and soundtrack is awesome even by today's standards. Most importantly, all the women show some skin! I'm not claiming that Night of the Demons broke the mold, but it deserves to have a larger fan base than it currently does.

4) Deranged: A rural farmer becomes a grave robber and murderer after the death of his possessive mother whom he keeps her corpse, among others, as his companions in his decaying farmhouse.
Based on the real-life Ed Gein story (like Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silence of the Lambs, etc.) this is one of the most accurate portrayals of the Wisconsin murderer on film. As such, the story itself isn't as gripping as similar movies that took innumerable liberties with the plot. But there's just something about the simple way this exploitation movie was shot that gives it documentary-like realism and makes the antagonist nearly likeable. The superb acting by relatively unknown actors, the gritty film stock, and the plausibility of the story elevate this film into the realm of essential viewing. And because Jesus loves you, it's on a double-feature DVD with Motel Hell, which means you get two awesome movies really cheap.

3) The Changeling: A man staying at a secluded historical mansion, finds his life being haunted by the presence of a spectre.
Ok, The Changeling sounds like every other ghost story ever made. I promise you, this one is different. It's both smart and scary. The build-up is slow & subtle, but George C. Scott makes it watchable as John Russell, the exact opposite of Patton. Although the plot can be a little convoluted at times, the genuine scares and the ending are worth sticking it out through the slow parts. In all seriousness, George C. Scott should have been nominated for an Academy Award for this movie. This is easily the best haunted house movie ever made, and it's criminally underrated.

2) Spider Baby: A caretaker devotes himself to three demented adults after their father's death.
That synopsis tells nothing about the insanity that is Spider Baby. It's like a cross between The Addams Family and Lolita. Horror icons Lon Chaney Jr. & Sid Haig are both brilliant; Chaney as a chauffer thrust into the role of head of an insane household; Haig as a demented but good-natured mute slowly devolving before the camera. The real stars are the characters of Elizabeth & Virginia; two sexy, barely-legal homicidal maniacs who have the mentality of 7 year old schoolgirls. Black humor abounds and it's easy to tell from the beginning that you're supposed to root for the maniacs. Aside from being completely amazing, Spider Baby is significant as one of African-American film pioneer, Mantan Moreland's, last acting gigs. It's also directed by Jack Hill, who went on to shoot the blaxploitation classics Coffy & Foxy Brown despite being a crusty old white guy.

1) Martin: A young man, who believes himself to be a vampire, goes to live with his elderly and hostile cousin in a small Pennsylvania town where he tries to redeem his blood-craving urges.
George A. Romero's best movie may be his little known vampire flick. Gritty yet believable, the viewer can't ever be certain if Martin is really a vampire or just an extremely troubled teen. The contrast of Martin's apparent naïvety with his monstrous bloodlust make him a compelling character. The old man determined to destroy Martin is either heroic or selfish depending on how you choose to view this movie; but you'll find both him & Martin to be sympathetic characters. Martin works on lots of different sociological levels, but even taken at face value, it's a great movie; albeit a little slow at times.


5) Dracula: The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.
Bela Lugosi is great as Dracula, and director Tod Browning does what he can with the material, but this much-loved Universal horror classic is just a bore. Even at 75 minutes, this movie is tedious. The protagonists are all uninteresting, the effects are awful, and Dracula dies a bland death off-screen. If you've never seen it, don't read that last sentence. And if you think I'm not cutting it enough slack because it was made in 1931, go watch Nosferatu from 1922; it's the same story, only: the vampire is scarier, the effects don't insult your intelligence, and the vampire dies on camera.

4) Hellraiser: An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover, who's being chased by demons after he escaped from their sado-masochistic Hell.
Hellraiser isn't a bad movie. It just isn't a very good movie and definitely undeserving of the "classic" stamp it so often receives. The effects are fine, the acting is decent, and the Cenobites look scary. Unfortunately, these multi-dimensional beings have the attention spans of gnats and are dissuaded from their goal of taking the rightful prisoner back to their hellish dimension by a 15 second speech so hackneyed that it might as well have been written by me. The editing is jarring (not in a good way) and the ending is unsatisfying. If Pinhead wasn't such a scary-looking motherfucker, this movie would have been forgotten long ago.

3) Dawn of the Dead: Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, a group of survivors seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
This movie has a lot to say about a variety of poignant subjects from good ol' human nature to American consumerism, but all that interesting subtext is hidden inside a really bland movie. The blue-faced zombies aren't convincing, the protagonists are all unlikable, and the scenes with the roving biker gang drag on forever. Let's all finally admit it: Dawn of the Dead earned it's reputation as a classic solely on the fact that we all really like the idea of hunkering down in a shopping mall while the world goes to shit around us.

2) Suspiria: A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the staff of the school are actually a coven of witches bent on chaos and destruction.
I might lose some friends over this one, but it must be said: Suspiria just isn't that great. I'm not saying it isn't enjoyable. Dario Argento helmed a fun movie with a couple brilliant visuals and an awesome soundtrack. However, the reverence that horror fans display toward this film is absurd and unwarranted. If Suspiria were made by an American director, we'd cite its use of colors, camera angles and weird dialogue as hallmarks of an outdated camp classic rather than a cinematic tour de force. Since it has a stylish European director's name attached to it, Suspiria now holds a special place in the hearts of cinematic hipsters everywhere.

1) John Carpenter's The Thing: Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.
Great effects and a frightening premise can't help this remake overcome it's greatest flaw; namely, that anyone at any time can be the Thing. Aside from Kurt Russell, the characters are fairly generic and unlikable, so when a character is revealed to be the monster, it doesn't matter because you never really give a damn about them. Also, there isn't any logical plotline to follow regarding the creature's agenda. Viewers don't know anything that the isolated crew doesn't know, and the crew doesn't know shit. Because the story advances mostly to showcase the special effects rather than to scare the viewer, characters are mostly killed and assimilated by the Thing off-screen so that we can see their transformation into the Thing onscreen when they're invariably discovered to be the current incarnation of the alien. Viewers learn early on that the entire cast is expendable, so there's never any real tension to be had when things go bad. The ending is often cited as being one of the best in horror history, but I find it unsatisfying and frustrating. Although terribly dated, the original is better in nearly every way.

Destined to Fail: Coach McGwire

October 25, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Word on the street (aka. the sexy, swinging offices of ESPN) is that Tony LaRussa will indeed return as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010. The catch? Hal McRae, Cardinals hitting coach, has been fired. Replacing him? None other than Mr. Andro himself, Mark McGwire. I mean, when a team wants to hire a hitting coach, they naturally want someone who 1) was a one-dimensional hitter with a .263 career batting average; 2) who had only 30 more career hits than strikeouts, and; 3) who has lived the greater part of the last decade in relative seclusion, away from the game and the rigors of the road. In an incredible stroke of luck, McGwire just so happens to fit all three criteria.

McGwire quotes that will be heard on the first day of Spring Training:
  • "Have I watched video of your swing? No. I'm not here to talk about the past".
  • "What you want to do here is take a tablespoon of this and put it in your water bottle. Trust me".
  • "Singles and doubles? No, we're not going to do that".
  • "Jab this in your butt. If you're queasy, we re-signed Khalil Greene to take care of it for you".
  • "Tony, I thought you said I could do this job from my super secret compound in Southern California".
Rudy Jaramillo v. Mark McGwire. Early advantage: Cubs

Hervé Villechaize Named New Cubs Hitting Coach

October 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

He're an image I bet you didn't expect. You're welcome.Well, yesterday was Wednesday, so that can mean only one thing: time for the Cubs to hire a new hitting coach.

We could see it coming. Anemic bats and a lackluster offense piss a fan base off to no end, so Jim Hendry did the one thing a good GM does to revive flagging run production: through a series of intelligent trades and smart free agent signings, he picked up some patient hitters with good power to...even I can't finish this sentence.

No, he did what Jim Hendry does: he changed coaches. Again. And this time, he did it in a spectaculary Hendrian way: a long term contract.

At first I was stunned that Hendry chose Hervé Villechaize for such a demanding position. I mean the man's main claim to fame is playing the lovable Tattoo from television's Fantasy Island, a show I'm pretty sure I watched as a very small child, but have no concrete memories of other than it gave Khan a chance to dress like Sonny Crockett. Of course, I mainly remember him as Nick Nack from the exquisitely awful Roger Moore Bond flick, The Man With the Golden Gun.

And while I'm aware that the entertainment industry has a long tradition of casting little people in major motion pictures (including such luminaries as Billy Bardy, Verne Troyer, Peter Dinklage, and Tom Cruise), baseball hasn't really followed suit (with the notable exceptions of Eddie Gaedel and Mike Fontenot).

I'm sure some think this signing is a tip of the cap to the late, great Bill Veeck, and a belated acknowledgement that the Cubs haven't really been a worthwhile franchise since a Veeck ran the show on the North Side. But I beg to differ.

First, the Cubs aren't so completely awful and low-attended that the fans need distractions to come to the ballpark. Yet. And Villechaize is a native Frenchman. Baseball has long had problems with Francophonic peoples, culminating in the near-30-year flirtation with Montreal baseball, an affair that ended in such an ugly manner than the team ended up moving to Washington, a city whose reputation for baseball suckitude was so widespread that even musical theatre types know it.

No. I know what this move is.

Pure Dada.

The Cubs have tried making coherent plans to win a World Series in the past. Clearly, they aren't good at that. At all.

No, they're shaking things up by challenging the notions of narrative and sense in public discourse. They're tapping into the unconscious, anti-reasoning dark side of human nature and making a comment to the sporting world that chaos and irrationality are the only solution to a rationalistic world that has led to global wars, corporate greed, and the continued existence of Aaron Miles.

And I, for one, salute this new avante-garde team. For too long have Cubs fans tried to make sense of the myriad asinine moves made by assorted front offices. Why not push it all the way, defying all sequential thought and causality? Why not sign a bitter, angry alcoholic, French midget to teach a team of multimillionaire atheletes how to hit?

Whoa. It turns out Villechaize has been dead for 16 years. GENIUS!

My cap is doffed to you, Hendr--what? Hold on a sec.

Oh. My mistake.

Career MINOR league stats: .258 BA/.299 OBP/.341 SLG/.640 OPS. 'Do as I SAY, not as I DO!'
The Cubs actually signed former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

I guess that makes a lot more sense. He's had a hell of a lot more baseball experience. Assuming that the Cubs are planning on moving in the outfield walls, juicing like a Tropicana factory, and swinging for the stars, I support this move wholeheartedly.

So yeah...sorry about wasting your time. I really shouldn't have tried to do cogent analysis when I stopped following baseball in July. Next week, I'll write about Iron Maiden or post-punk or the hilarious results of teen pregnancy.

P.S. - God, I still hate Aaron Miles so much.

Stuff White People Shouldn't Do

October 21, 2009 | Comments (2) | by Ginger Russ

This is list is inspired by a couple things, some of which will be discussed below. The main reason for this list though is the blog, Stuff White People Like. If you haven't read this blog yet, I highly suggest you take 5 minutes of your break, pour yourself a cup of coffee or wine, get cozy in your sweater and shorts with your vegan sandwich that you bought at Whole Foods and take a gander, it's the funniest thing you'll read all week, besides of course Marmaduke in the Sunday New York Times (seriously though, just click on one of those links).

Bald Guy/Dreadlocks
While the two are the complete opposite hairstyles, one that is no hair whatsoever and the other that is WAY too much hair, neither of these "dos" should ever grace the dome of a white guy. Why not, you may be asking me? Well, let's just look at the reasons for your choices, sir.

First off, bald guy, why are you shaving your head? It's probably because you are going bald and one day decided, hey, I'm going bald and am going to do something about it. So instead of going out and getting Rogaine or joining the Hair Club for Men, you decided to take the slacker way out and just shave your head. And don't give me that, "It's cheaper and my chick digs it" bullshit. If you add up the amount of money you are going to spend on shaving cream and razors it's going to more than just getting implants or some topical medication. And no, chicks do not dig bald guys. It's like when guys say it's okay that their girl has a flat chest. Sure it makes for a better personality, but deep down inside we wish your bosoms were ample enough to motorboat when we come home drunk from Friday's happy hour.

On the other end of the hair spectrum, if you have dreadlocks and are white we know exactly what type of person you are - a dirty, foul smelling hippy. As white people we all go through our Bob Marley or Grateful Dead stage, but unlike you we didn't smoke enough pot to drop out of high school and become deadbeats. This isn't the 60's anymore, fuck-face. Your mixture of the hippy culture and Rastafarianism isn't fooling us. Your parents are jewish/catholic. You were lucky enough to celebrate christmas and hanukkah. I can smell your dirty dreadlocks from down the street. What is that, a bird nesting in your hair? You know what's even worse than the white guy with dreadlocks, mon? The braided hair. Just look at how stupid Axl Rose looked with that.

So white people, I hate to say it, but leave the bald guy/dreadlocks to black people. Who is the most famous white people that you know with these types of hair styles anyways? Kojak? The "cool" kid you buy your weed from? You're not fooling anybody. You're not Michael Jordan or Bob Marley. You're pathetic.

Ever saying "my nigga", the "n word" or any variation of the "n word"
Listening to the local FM morning show on the way to work, a caller had a story about something he didn't understand. A co-worker who was black and his friend would show up at his desk everyday and call him his nigga in regular conversation. One day the white dude said it back. The black guy didn't care so much, but another co-worker, an elderly white women told HR and the white guy found himself being suspended. It probably took this guy a while to get balls enough to call his co-worker that back, and thinking he was being "cool" just ended him up with a week's worth of docked pay and probably put on probation.

As a white person, I get it, you have black friends. Or at least you say you do to make yourself not look racist. And even if you don't, that's okay too. But even if all of your friends are black, you are never, NEVER, NEVER allowed to use the "n word" (unless somehow THIS happens to you). I don't care if you're friends use it all the time. I don't care if they call you that. Sure, you're friends might be cool with it. But just wait until that one time when you're out in public and someone overhears you say it. Yeah, it's not going to be so cool anymore. You are going to get your ass beat.

This isn't a discussion of whether black people should be able to use the "n word" or not. You are white, therefore you are NOT allowed to say it. End of story. Look, I won't even write in this post because I'm white.

Pimping Your Shit
There are many cool things about the hip hop culture. 20" rims, getting crunk, gold teeth just to name a few. But they don't belong to you. Stop trying to pimp out your ride. If you are listening to the latest P Diddy joint in your car, take after Michael Bolton in Office Space and turn that shit down before rolling up to a stop.

No, not that Michael Bolton.

Unless you are heavily Italian, you don't need to be wearing gold chains. And yes, girl, you're ass is flat. You are white, it's supposed to be like that. Those push-up pants or underwear or whatever you're doing back there ain't fooling me. Stick to the things that are "white people safe". Maybe a pair of pre-ripped jeans, or an Ed Hardy t-shirt. Sure an earring is okay (really it isn't), but why not try out that lip or eyebrow piercing instead. Want to pimp your ride? How about a spoiler or some flames? That shouldn't make you look like a douche-bag, but honestly, it probably will.

Naming your baby something "original"
There has been a growing trend, especially among the celebrity culture, of naming your newborn something creative. Fucking stop it! 90% of white people come from an Anglo-Saxon Christian background. Stick with the biblical names, or at least the regular white people names. You want your daughter to grow up and be a stripper, go ahead and name her Destiny, at least she won't have to change her name when she applies for the job. In fact, there are tons of sites that have names on what NOT to name your baby. Here is one for instance. Butch? India? Lennon? Talullah? GFY!

So white people, please stop trying too hard. Stick to things that we like. For instance, living by the water, irony, co-ed sports and dinner parties.

You Make the Call: Kyle Orton

October 20, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

You make the call...

Kyle Orton........................................or...........................Kyle Orton

I am an exceptional thief quarterback!

This Week in Anger: Bears, Balloons & Belligerence

October 19, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

The Bears lost to the Falcons last night. I'm still trying to come to terms with this. Since each football team only plays 16 games in the regular season, my quick math skills tell me I should feel roughly 10x angrier at a Bears loss than a Cubs loss. Judging from the nausea I felt after the Bears didn't convert on that final 4th & 6, that equation seems adequate. With concentrated rage still festering inside me, I have decided to unleash my fury at anything and everything that has pissed me off this past week...

The Balloon Boy: I'll admit it. I thought the whole thing was hilarious even before he was found safely "hiding in the attic." But looking back on this hoax perpetrated by fame-crazed nut jobs, this entire thing seems so desperate and ugly. Now I understand how my ex's feel...

Anyway, fuck you, six-year-old Balloon Boy. You were the first Falcon to piss me off this week, but not the last.

Other People Buying Me Clothes: I know I dress poorly. Most of my t-shirts have unexplainable bleach stains on them. Of the 3 pairs of jeans I own, two were purchased at the flea market. If I lose a button on a shirt, I have been known to sew on a new one of a different size & color, and then paint them all black with a Sharpie so they'll match. I get it; I suck at dressing myself.

Still, anyone assuming they know enough about me to buy me clothing is both instantaneously creepy and arrogant. Would these people feel secure enough in their presumed knowledge of my tastes & preferences to buy pornography for me?

"Here, I saw this in the store and thought of you..."

Hell no they wouldn't. Because it's weird & wrong. Besides, just like pornography, there's an overwhelming probability that their clothing purchase will be kept hidden like a dirty little secret that I don't want my friends to find out about.

Anybody Who Says the Word "Delish": This one is for the ladies...If I had enough testosterone to grow hairs on the back of my neck, they'd be standing every single time I hear one of you use this word. Thanks to Facebook, whenever some female I know cooks something remotely edible, they post a status update to tell the world that their Lentil & Blue Cheese Muffins were "delish." And while seeing it written is upsetting enough, hearing it spoken is beyond infuriating. Ladies, what happened to the ending? Did your uterus contract when you try to add the "-ious" part, somehow causing this malformed word to leave your lips as a kind of linguistic abortion? I don't know how that shit works. If that's not the case, for fuck's sake, use the entire word! Or at least abbreviate "scrumptious," because if you shorten it to "scrumpt," it sounds like you made something vaguely filthy and sexual. And that's way more fun to ponder while I mindlessly block out your narration of a boring cooking story.

Telling Non-Transferable Work Stories: Speaking of boring stories, here's something that everybody has been guilty of at some point in time. You come home from a frustrating day of work. You really don't want to talk to anyone, but your significant other cozies up to you and asks you how your day was. Rather than just sighing "fine...", for some reason you decide to give a lengthy recount of your day; describing the co-workers, policies and corporate culture that nobody could possibly understand if they haven't been working alongside you for the past five years. My friend, you have just told a non-transferable work story.

The poor bastard hearing your saga tuned-out the moment you used the word "productivity" and they're giving you feedback based solely on your inflection and facial cues while thinking of limbs they'd be willing to part with in exchange for you shutting the fuck up. Deep down inside, you're well aware that nobody can empathize with your position & work environment, but you plod along with your boring story of idiot co-workers and dreary paperwork anyway.

People Who Insist on Describing Their Dreams: And while we're on the subject of shit people should shut up about, let's get dreams out of the way. In the past week, I've had no fewer than 3 dreams recounted for me. Why do people feel the need to do this? Dreaming is an uncontrolled function of the brain. As such, it is an involuntary biological function. And while I usually find humor in a well-timed fart, you can keep any other biological functions to yourself; especially ones as boring as dreams. The real kicker is that the person recounting their dreams always seems so fucking impressed with themselves for interpreting the random firing of synapses into a vaguely coherent story. Yet they still manage to pat themselves on the back for being able to recognize the obvious illogical nature of the plot. Wake up and smell the coffee, dreamers; Nobody else cares about your wacky nonlinear story that didn't actually happen anyway!

People Pestering Me To Watch A Certain T.V. Show:
I don't think most people fully understand the severity of this infraction. Being unemployed, I watch a lot of T.V. Mostly sports, late-night reruns of 80's sitcoms, and Girls Gone Wild infomercials. In actuality, I watch very little current programming. The few contemporary shows I do watch mean a lot to me. While I personally believe that television has reached a Golden Age in terms of the amount of quality programming available, I don't have the time or patience to follow everybody's ridiculous suggestions. Nowadays, even bad sitcoms have linear plots that would require days of unending DVD viewing to catch up on their backstories. With the fall television season beginning, I'm overwhelmed with people giving me tips on how to waste more of my life in front of the television. On my newly minted "Pain in the Ass" scale, suggesting that I begin watching a new television show falls somewhere between learning Urdu in my spare time and adopting a club foot baby. Come on, people! Go read a book. It's much easier to dismiss your poor taste that way.

Bears Week 6 Preview: Falcons

October 16, 2009 | Comments (0) | by White Chili

There's a saying that a bye week always seems to come around when your team needs it the most. For the Bears, I couldn't agree more. Week five might seem like it's early but don't forget that these guys have been hitting since the middle of August. With injuries starting to pile up, this could not have come at a better time. It looks like we'll be getting everyone back including Hester, Knox, Hillenmeyer, and Tinoisamoa.

Unfortunately we have to play Atlanta, who didn't seem to flinch in the face of a very good defense last week. They managed to put up 45 points against San Francisco, which infuriated coach Singeltary and undoubtably led to more locker room de-pantsings than the horrible wrath of the Cortesi brothers' illustrious campaign my sophomore year of high school. We have been able to put some pressure on the quarterback, but Matt Ryan is notoriously good at avoiding sacks, only giving up two so far this season. The Bears should be able to contain Burner Turner but after Roddy White posted 210 yards and two touchdowns last week, our secondary should be more concerned than my father on prom night. Wait, I meant A father on prom night........God Dammit....

And let's not forget last years little episode. I, along with about ten friends (including the best man), were "in the bathroom" watching the end of the game in a hotel bar during a wedding. The game was well in-hand after a late fourth quarter drive led by merkin chin to put the Bears up 20-19 with only ELEVEN SECONDS on the clock. Celebration! High fives and shots for everyone!

The Bears chose to pooch the ensuing kickoff (for some reason) and Atlanta brought the ball back to their 44 yard line. They then completed a 26-yard pass to let Elam kick the game winning FG with one second left. Sadness and shots for everyone.

Let's hope that Lovie has been showing that film to the guys for the past two weeks so they can remember how that feeling tasted.

Frankly, I think this is going to be a shootout. Here's hoping for a Bears victory and some vengeance.

White Chili prediction: Bears 35, Falcons 28

The War on Errorism

October 15, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Ginger Russ

Last night a friend and I were having a nice dinner before going to see a Yo La Tengo show (excellent performance btw, check them out on You Tube if you get a chance). Discussing how our days went, she had brought up that she was having a business lunch with one of her clients and a couple co-workers. They were talking about their industry and how it was a "perfect storm" that the economy had fallen apart so quickly along with a downturn in their industry's performance. One of her co-workers, who has obviously never been in an actual business/social situation, brought up an interesting email that she had just read about the President and the brewing of another "perfect storm". The email alluded to the election of President Obama on the basis of "change" and then went on to compare the current state of the United States to Germany in the 30's. It concluded with many similar correlations between Obama and Hitler.

Notwithstanding the obvious faux-paw of my friend's co-worker of mixing politics with social situations, let alone business ones, combined with the fact that my friend is half-Jewish, it amazed me that this person would actually not only repeat this, but present this as fact without a little fact checking. So I did my own. The article she was referring to was actually an email from a Harvard professor entitled History Unfolding. He obviously has his credentials and knows what he is talking about:

David Kaiser is a respected historian whose published works have covered a broad range of topics, from European Warfare to American League Baseball. Born in 1947, the son of a diplomat, Kaiser spent his childhood in three capital cities: Washington D.C., Albany, New York, and Dakar, Senegal. He attended Harvard University, graduating there in 1969 with a B.A. in history. He then spent several years more at Harvard, gaining a PhD in history, which he obtained in 1976. He served in the Army Reserve from 1970 to 1976. He is a professor in the Strategy and Policy Department of the United States Naval War College and has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon, Williams College and Harvard University. Kaiser’s latest book, The Road to Dallas, about the Kennedy assassination, was just published by Harvard University Press.

And here is an excerpt of the correlation between Obama and Hitler:
As a serious student of history, I thought I would never come to experience what the ordinary, moral German must have felt in the mid-1930s In those times, the “savior” was a former smooth-talking rabble-rouser from the streets, about whom the average German knew next to nothing. What they should have known was that he was associated with groups that shouted, shoved, and pushed around people with whom they disagreed; he edged his way onto the political stage through great oratory. Conservative “losers” read it right now.

Seems pretty consistent, right? Except for the fact that the "email" was a fraud and was debunked by the author himself shortly afterward. On his blog of the same name as the email, Dr. Kaiser (it was incorrectly stated that he is not a doctor, but his comment proved my lack of research, so much for the post!?!) informs us:

The first two sentences, beginning, "For the past thirty years," were of course written by me; the rest of the email was not written by me. Its views are in many ways the opposite of my own. It is apparently some sort of conservative disinformation campaign, quite possibly the work of a single individual, designed to muddy the political waters by falsely attributing views to others. I obviously regret the deception.

OMG! Something fake on the internet! Alert the internet police. Seriously though, if you've made it this far into this post you have probably already heard or read this story. The comparing of Obama to Hitler is nothing new.

Websites like Obama Is Literally Hitler make radical comparisons all the time, ranging from the subtle: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Castro being nominated for a Nobel Peace prize (none of them won, and if you do your research, basically anyone can nominate someone for the prize), to the absurd: Hitler also had a white Mother.

But this is not my beef. Of course the internet is riddled with opinions and false truths. This is nothing new to most of us, except when it comes to a reader finding something that supports their extremist views, be it right or left. It's amazing when someone finds something that is questionably fake that they will totally ignore researching the source or facts within and start mass-mailing everyone to share in the "great reveal" that they have just discovered. The greatest fail is that most of these people are actually well educated. But in their spree to "teach" others, they forget the basic principals of their higher education.

Even as an art major I had to write multiple research papers for my art history classes, and having one of the most respected Art Historians in the country as my professor, he didn't just put up with turning in any old fluff and bullshit. Many nights were spent in the library, scouring through articles and books, checking my facts to support my arguments. So when I hear that someone is spreading the "truth" of something they found on the internet it astounds me. It took me all of 10 seconds to not only find the email that my friend's co-worker was talking about, but also that it was fake.

So please, do not take this post as support or decent against our President. It is not about right or left wing hypocrisy. I'll leave that to people like Rush Limbaugh, who thought that he was not being talked about enough in the mainstream media so he popped his fat melon into the world of the NFL and once showed us that, yes, it is all about you Rush. For the same reasons that Rush will not be an owner of a pro football team, you should research and educate yourself on something before you start spewing opinion as fact. Learn from people like my friend's co-worker and don't make yourself into a self-righteous, uninformed asshole.

Now if you excuse me, I have to write an a post about how Jimmy Clausen is the new Joe Montana.

The 1979 Files, Volume 3

October 15, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

Has it really been over three weeks since I last spoke on that most glorious of music years, 1979? A quick look at the calendar says yes. But a quick look into my heart says I never really left.1

And so, as promised back in the mythical era of late September, I now return to the Promised Land to bring back a slab of near perfect wax. And as promised, I present to you the Finest Hour from The Only Band That Matters. I present:

The Clash - The Cost of Living E.P.

Perfect. Simply perfect.(A disclaimer: I like the Clash. A lot. A whole lot. As in, I "have a tattoo of Joe Strummer on my right arm" like the Clash. So I have some very strong opinions about them. Some of them are irrational. Deal with it. )

Okay, I'm sure several people probably already assumed the best Clash release came out in 1979. And they assumed it was London Calling. I'm not here to find fault with London Calling. I love that album more than most people love their children. But anything that has a song where Joe Strummer sings about tantric sex (shudder) will never be a perfect album.

But the Cost of Living is.

This is four songs that basically define what made the Clash a great rock band. Their seminal debut is a classic of the time, but the razorwire production and inconsistent songwriting knock it down a peg. The criminally underrated Give 'Em Enough Rope is a classic in the heavy 70s glam guitar tradition (and is not a Heavy Metal album, despite what the lazy music press accuses it of being), but the vocals are too far down in the mix, and side two dips in quality compared to the amazing 1-2-3 punch it opens with. London Calling is a deep and rich album, and gives CoL a run for the money, but falls just short. Sandinista! is a sprawling,2 insane mess. Combat Rock is filler-heavy, and is clearly the sound of a band breaking up. And Cut the Crap? Clearly the work of a madman.

The Cost of Living, however? Perfect. It's a distillation of the Clash in their purest form. And as it's only 4 songs, I can actually do a song-by-song review without spending the rest of my life writing this:

"I Fought the Law" - Opening up the first side with a galloping, unforgettable drum beat courtesy of Topper Headon, wailing guitar, and perfectly spat-out vocals, this track is, without a doubt, the definitive version of the Sonny Curtis classic. Sure, the Bobby Fuller Four version still gets airplay, but everyone who has ever covered it since is basically covering the Clash version. Simply stunning song, absolutely flawless cover, and a great way to start the album. In fact, I would go so far to say this is the single greatest cover of any song in rock history.

"Groovy Times" - The fact that this is the weakest track on the E.P. should show how strong an album this is. A scathing indictment of the depressing state of late 70s Britain, this is an epic track, with a surprisingly deft, understated guitar and harmonica courtesy of "Bob"(actually guitarist Mick) Jones. Bitter lines like "They discovered one black Saturday/the mobs don't march, they run" and a subtle swipe at Elvis Costello (so subtle it was nearly 10 years until I became aware of it) dance across the elegiac music. Again: the weakest song.

"Gates of the West" - Mind-rapingly awesome power pop with a Mick Jones vocal about the band on the brink of actually breaking America, an achievement that 95% of British bands claim not to care about while desperately attempting to do so. Proof that the Clash could have gone down the Cheap Trick/Raspberries/Knack path and still been legendary. When I started collecting Clash bootlegs, I was gutted to learn this was never played live.

"Capital Radio Two" - Holy. Shit. This song smokes more than Dan Ackroyd does in Ghostbusters. The original "Capital Radio," a scathing assault on the government sponsored radio station, was released on a promotional flexi-disc from the NME, which was so sought-after that copies were going for over 40 pounds within a year of realease. To rectify this, the Clash re-recorded it...louder...and with a different arrangement. Beginning with a simple, soft intro, the song kicks into overtime about 30 seconds in, as the entire band smashes into the song like a brick of compressed radness slamming you in the face. And after about a minute and a half of pummeling your senses with Les Pauls and Telecasters, Joe Strummer calls the bands attention and tells them they'll never get on the radio like that. So, "on the count of four...FOUR!" the band breaks into a hilarious parody of disco music, including a lyrical swipe at the Grease soundtrack and screeching falsettos leading to fadeout.

Thus ends the most perfect release in Clash history.3

The Cost of Living is a little tricky to get your hands on in a hard copy these days. If you want to pony up the money for the Singles Box Set, you can have a replica sleeve, but it's pretty much only for hardcore fans. "I Fought the Law" is on the American reissue of the debut, and pretty much every Best of... complilation the Clash have ever released. The remaining songs can all be found on Super Black Market Clash (where I originally heard them in 1993), a compilation that I highly recommend for showing all of the strengths and all of the weaknesses of the Clash on a single disc.

Thanks to iTunes, I rather imagine you could download all of the tracks separately and make your own, though. You really should.

Tune in next time as I somehow use the weakest album from one of my favorite bands to glorify 1979.

1. This is entirely metaphorical. A quick look into my actual heart actually reveals decades of McRib-related arterial plaque.
2. It is mandated that all reviews that reference
use the term "sprawling."
3. Okay, the original vinyl release, and the Japanese version of the recent Singles box set include the "Cost of Living Advert" track, but that isn't really a song, so much as Joe Strummer talking in a really bad Jamaican accent over music. But you'd have to go out of your way to hear it in that version, so I discount it.

Why the Bears Should Go After Terrell Owens

October 15, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

Over the past few days, Bears fans have been buzzing about the possibility of acquiring Terrell Owens from the Bills before the NFL's October 20th trade deadline. For the most part, this has been nothing more than fan speculation. These rumors should have died already, but for some reason, "legitimate" media outlets have kept this gossip alive by adding their own two cents.

Aside from adding to the hype, nothing they're saying is new. "Terrell Owens is great, but he's an asshole. He's the Milton Bradley of football. He's a cancer in the locker room. He'll badmouth the quarterback and the coaching staff. He's not getting any younger. The Bears don't need him."

And while I won't dispute any of these things, I'm convinced that the Bears should still go for it. Let me explain....

Yes, he's an asshole. By now we're all aware that Terrell Owens thinks of himself first and the team second. However, Owens has the ability to back up his tough-talk on the field. As much as I hate him as a person, he's indisputably one of the best receivers of all-time. We all know he's a cocky, self-centered jerk. But why is this viewed as the worst offense in sports? Let's look at some other names...

Ray Lewis got away with murder, only to become the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV.

Michael Vick financed and operated a dog-fighting ring. He served time in prison and now he's back in the NFL with the support of millions of fans and the NAACP (even though he wasn't all that great to begin with).

Donte Stallworth ran over a man after a night of drinking. The man died. Stallworth will be back in the NFL next year.

Let's not forget our homegrown asshole, Tank Johnson. We condemned him when he was facing charges for possessing illegal assault rifles. We couldn't believe anybody would be so stupid as to be involved in a nightclub altercation (that left his friend dead) a mere two nights later. Yet, when he was placed under house arrest, we elevated him to Nelson Mandela-like status because we needed him to play in the Super Bowl, which he was eventually allowed to do.

Sports fans can overlook any indiscretion if it means their team has a better chance at winning. So why draw the line at Terrell Owens, whose greatest crimes are cockiness, trash-talking and attempted suicide?

Many in the Chicago sports world have noted the similarities between Terrell Owens & Milton Bradley. Both are obnoxious fuckwads that have caused their teams much grief in the past. Neither look like they're going to be repenting for their sins anytime soon. But so what? If the Cubs could have signed Milton Bradley for only $6.5 million and one season (instead of $30 million and 3 years) wouldn't they have been better off? Owens signed a 1-year deal with Buffalo. That means if the Bears traded for him and he was a bust, we could simply move on next year. By that time, the organization would have made up their money with Terrell Owens jersey sales and the fines he'll incur for talking smack about the team. Which leads into the next common argument against Owens...

Owens doesn't support his quarterbacks. He's talked trash about every QB in every town he's played for. You know who else doesn't support their quarterbacks? Bears fans.

After the first week of the season, Bears fans were readying their pitchforks & torches to drive Jay Cutler out of town. Not surprisingly, this talk has calmed down since the Bears have gone on a winning-streak. Over the past few years, conversations with other Bears fans generally went like this: "Grossman sucks, they need to put in Griese." "Griese sucks, they need to put in Orton." "Orton sucks, they need to put in Grossman." It turns out that Orton wasn't that bad, but we all celebrated when we traded him for Cutler. Then we wanted Cutler's head when he threw 4 interceptions in the season opener, because we all thought our season was over. Maybe, just maybe, Chicago is the right town for a wide receiver who talks as much smack about the quarterback as the fans do.

Terrell Owens is 35 years old. By NFL standards, he's ancient. But, as mentioned, if the Bears were to trade for Owens, they'd only have him for the remainder of this season. In 194 career games, he's scored 140 receiving touchdowns. That makes him the #3 WR in touchdowns scored in NFL history behind Jerry Rice & Randy Moss. That's pretty impressive. It also means that there's roughly a 72% chance that he'll score a touchdown in a given game. Before the Week 4 blowout of Detroit, the first three Bears games were each decided by 6 points or less.

Even though the Bills & Trent Edwards are pathetic (last week, Cleveland's QB threw 2 completions for 23 yards and the Bills still managed to lose), Terrell Owens leads the Bills in receiving yards. That includes Week 3, when Terrell Owens failed to catch a pass for the first time in 185 consecutive games.

Ok, so he's good. But the Bears don't need him, right? Well, maybe we do. The Bears' top receiver is Earl Bennett, followed closely by Johnny Knox. Devin Hester is doing ok, but he's apparently made of porcelain. Matt Forte can't get anything done on the ground this season, so we're going to have to win through the air. And even with his abysmal 2009 stats, Terrell Owens still has more receiving yards than the leading Bears' receiver.

So here's the tricky part: What would the Bears give up? I honestly have no idea. We've already promised Denver our draft picks and first born sons for what feels like the next decade. Would it be worth trading our young talent for one last grasp at glory? I say it is. Do you really think Johnny Knox is going to lead us to the Super Bowl five years down the line? Do you think this 2009 Bears team, as it currently stands, can overcome the juggernaut that is the Minnesota Vikings? Fuck it. Let's go for broke. We're doing great without the #3 All-Time WR touchdown leader, let's see how we do with him.

Blackhawks Are the Anti-Cubs As They Actually Pull Off Comeback WIn

October 14, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

In case you missed it, (and judging from the general apathy towards hockey in this country, you probably did) the Blackhawks tied an NHL record for biggest comeback when they beat the Calgary Flames in overtime on Monday. Calgary scored 5 goals before the first period was barely past the halfway mark, chasing starting goalie Christobal Huet after he surrendered the first 3 goals. Rookie Antti Niemi replaced Huet and promptly gave up 2 goals of his own. The Hawks managed to score once in the first, on a goal from John Madden and headed for the first intermission down 5 to 1. Game over, right?

Wrong. The Blackhawk offense came out strong in the second period and simply dominated the Flames. Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, and Davey Bolland scored a goal apiece to bring the Blackhawks within one. It was almost like a different team came out to play in the second period. The Hawks were all around shitty in period one, looking flat-footed and sloppy. The unit that came out in the second used their speed to skate rings around their opponents. They were aggressive and kept the puck in the Calgary end for most of the period.

The third period was more evenly matched, as the Hawks came down to earth a little bit. At the 4:32 mark, Patrick Sharp put the tying goal past Miikka Kiprusoff. After the two goals he allowed in the first period, Niemi settled down and blocked the other 13 shots the Flames sent his way. The game went into overtime, but Brent Seabrook only needed 26 seconds to end the game with his winning goal.

This was one of the best hockey games I've ever seen, especially considering that the Hawks were complete shit for the first 20 minutes. It would have been so easy for these guys to just have rolled over and quit for the final two periods. I think this game was further proof that these kids are the real deal and hopefully are going to be a presence in the league for seasons to come. The only issue I see going forward is at goalie. Christobal Huet does not seem like the guy the Blackhawks can rely upon to take them deep into the post-season again. Niemi may be a rookie, but aside from his shaky first period Monday night, he's looked like the stronger goalie. Before it's all over, the Blackhawk front office may regret not resigning the Bulin Wall, who has looked solid in his outings with Edmonton so far this season. I guess we'll have to wait and see how long a leash Joel Quenneville gives Huet in the weeks to come.

It Might Get Loud

October 13, 2009 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Put three influential axemen in a room and see what happens. Perhaps that is the seed that first entered Davis Guggenheim and the production team's minds when they decided to make It Might Get Loud. Guggenheim, who is perhaps best known for directing An Inconvenient Truth, makes an interesting choice in the three guitarists he chooses to profile. In the days of Guitar Hero video games, the term 'rock God' gets thrown around quite a bit, and in this movie it takes an interesting direction. More than anything, the movie profiles Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White.

Does Jimmy Page even need any introduction? The soft spoken and reserved guitarist and song writer for Led Zeppelin, Page has penned some of hard rock's most recognizable guitar riffs and has long been known to be as equally immersed in creepy black magic as he is at guitar. The Edge comes to us by way of Ireland, being the guitar man for U2. He's a curious choice, as you'd guess that a documentary about guitar playing wouldn't feature a rhythm guitar player. Perhaps Page put it's best when he describes The Edge as a "sound architect", using multiple guitar effects pedals to get U2's signature sound. Jack White, known to most for his work in The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, is the up-and-comer that's already been able to forge a signature sound. Much more so than any of the others, White has more of an outward and aggressive demeanor.

Much of the movie goes into character study. We get the whole background of Jimmy Page growing up in England and how he's introduced to the guitar: his family moved into a new house when he was a boy, and the previous homeowners left an acoustic guitar there. From there we see a teenage Page playing in a kind of English rockabilly band and from there moving on to become an accomplished session player before moving on to The Yardbirds and ultimately Led Zeppelin. Page boasts a friggin' huge record collection, and he plays many of his favorite cuts, most notably an old 45 of "Rumble", where Page says he really got the itch to play with a more thick, heavy sound. The filmmakers even follow him to a countryside mansion where Zeppelin recorded IV, and he shows us where Bonham laid down the drum tracks in the front foyer.

The Edge comes from a working class section of Dublin during a time of economic hardship. We find that U2 is the only band he's ever been in, and it all started by way of a post-it note on his school's bulletin board. He freely admits that for the longest time he was not technically adept at playing the guitar, but he had a sound in mind that he wanted to achieve. The Edge even shows us how he plays typical guitar chords in a different fashion which gives it more of the U2 ringing sound. The biggest nugget we get, though, is how he uses guitar effects. If you've ever listened to U2 from The Joshua Tree and on, you know much of U2's sound is driven by echo effects on the guitars. We get to see that he has an entire board of guitar effects that all run through a giant computer. The Edge even plays the main hook to "Elevation" both with and without the effects. Without the effects, it's simply two chords.

Jack White definitely likes to give off the throw-back vibe. We see him driving an old car in Tennessee, making a one string guitar on his porch with a coke bottle and some wire, and he's always seen in his signature porkpie hat. Oddly, much of the film has Jack White being followed by a "young Jack" White, a 9 year old boy dressed like White, presumably supposed to be him in his formative years. We also travel to Detroit, where White grew up and worked as an upholster and found a musical partner in his boss (they even formed a band called The Upholsters). White talks at length of how he likes things stripped down and pure, frequently mentioning his favorite record, an old Son House piece from way back. White even tells us that he likes to struggle with his guitars, and that his White Stripes "number one" is a red plastic guitar from a department store.

The entire movie, naturally, has great music playing in the background. Mostly interspersed over old footage, we see all three of the musicians in past and present day footage. Page almost seems apprehensive to let people into his mind or his technique, though we do get some boner-inducing shots of his playing some Zeppelin classics for the other two. The Edge opens up a but more, even pulling out some old demo cassette tapes where we got to hear some Joshua Tree Era stuff. White leaves nothing left to the imagination. As I said, he was bay far the most open of three, even recording some stuff on an old reel-to-reel. And he seemed hungry to impress the others ("I want to trick these guys into showing me their tricks), showing how he came up with an idea to incorporate a vocal mic into a guitar, allowing him to get that distorted vocal sound that's evident to those familiar with White's work.

The whole movie builds towards the end, where all three will be in the same room, culminating in an epic jam. This is where the movie falls short. There is little to no chemistry between the three with only White seeming to want something big to happen. After a few awkward jams where The Edge clearly was uncomfortable trying to play some lead lines, we were treated to the movie's gem - a jam on The Band's big hit, "The Weight". The Edge and White handle the vocals when Page makes it clear that he doesn't/can't sing.

This is a movie that will appeal to fans of the musicians involved and those who are big into guitar playing. It's a wholly enjoyable movie, but one that could have been much more. Instead of an in-depth look at the guitar, it's more of an overview of the men themselves, almost a Greatest Hits look instead of what really makes them tick. We do get some interesting back stories, but they're ones that could easily be read on the artist's Wikipedia pages. That being said, the music and the cinematography make it an overall positive experience. Unfortunately, I can't stop from wondering what might have been.

Thunder Matt Review: 7 stars out of 10

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

October 12, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Jim Hendry. His name alone fills me with mixed feelings, not to mention a craving for Krispey Kremes. One could argue that the Cubs have enjoyed one of their most successful runs during the Hendry years. One could also argue that some of Hendry's moves have hamstrung the team as well. If you were Tom Ricketts, would you keep Jim Hendry or look to bring in another GM to take his place? Let's examine some of the transactions Hendry has made over the past several seasons.

The Good:

Before the 2003 season, the Cubs were saddled with Todd Hundley. In a flash of brilliance, Hendry traded Hundley to the Dodgers for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros. Grudz and Karros would both be big pieces on the 2003 Central Division winning Cubs that year while Hundley continued to suck out loud.

Hee-Seop Choi for Derrek Lee. Before the 2004 season, Hendry made this little beauty of a trade. As one of the three people who believed that Choi was the first baseman of the future, I was happy that I turned out to be completely wrong. Derrek Lee is now one of the keystone players on the Cubs and Hee Seop Choi is selling Kias back in his homeland.

Jim Edmonds. I personally thought Jim Edmonds was done and that this was a terrible signing. I had to eat my words, as Edmonds came back from the dead and gave the Cubs some solid baseball.

One of Hendry's best free agent signings was the four year deal he gave Ted Lilly. If I remember right, he was criticized for making this deal, but Lilly has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the NL over the course of his contract.

The ultimate Hendry trade is the mid-season deal he made in 2003, trading Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez to Pittsburgh for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez. At the time, most of the excitement was around acquiring Lofton to replace the injured Corey Patterson (who actually had been playing pretty good in '03), but I had had a man-crush on the Rammer even when he was with the Pirates. Lofton is long gone, but Ramirez is the best hitter on the Cubs and one of the best third baseman in the game. As for Bobby Hill, that boy ain't right. Never was.

The Bad:

Juan Pierre. After missing out on signing Raphael Furcal, Hendry decided he must have a leadoff hitter at all cost and dealt prospects Ricky Nolasco, Renyel Pinto, and pitcher Sergio Mitre to the Marlins for baby-headed Pierre. While Pierre did have 204 hits in his one season with the Cubs, giving up three pitchers for one year of Pierre was an awful trade. The trade was almost as bad as watching Pierre in the outfield. How do you know you're a sucky outfielder? When Jacque Jones has a better throwing arm than you do. I remember there were games where Pierre would flip the ball to one of his corner outfielders to make the throw back in to the infield. Little peanut-headed, limp-wristed so and so. Nolasco is now a solid part of the Marlins' rotation and Pinto has been decent out of the 'pen. Mitre is now a Yankee. And the Dodgers have Pierre. so lose-lose all around for the Cubs in this deal. Except for the fact that I no longer have to watch Pierre play.

The jury is still out on whether or not the Mark DeRosa trade was a good move or not. The Cubs will have to wait and see what they get from the pitching prospects the Indians sent them. However, the fallout from the DeRosa trade led Hendry to the Aaron Miles signing. Epic fail there. The DeRo trade was also supposed to be a buildup to trading for Jake Peavy, which never happened. When Ramirez went down with his shoulder injury, the Cubs had no viable major league substitute for him and Jake Peavy is now pitching for the White Sox because Hendry didn't pull the trigger on a deal for him in the offseason. Plus DeRosa eventually found his way to division rival St. Louis. He didn't do squat for the Cardinals, but it's still annoying that one of Hendry's moves inadvertently helped St. Louis. And not having DeRosa on the Cubs meant that for some inconceivable reason, Mike Fontenot played a bunch of games at third base. The memory of that still fills me with with a rage hotter than a million suns.

Alfonso Soriano. I'm not going to dispute the idea that Soriano was the best free agent available that offseason, but Hendry didn't even seem to negotiate, just basically threw a big pile of money at Fonzie. Really, it's not so much the money involved here as the number of years he gave Soriano. I can't understand why you would give a 30 year old guy an 8 year deal. Apparently, Hendry learned nothing from the Sosa debacle. So Soriano will be holding right field hostage for the next five years, while his legs get creakier and creakier. Not good. And there's no way in hell Hendry will find a trade partner willing to take on that kind of obligation.

Kosuke Fukudome. I really like Kosuke. He's a solid defender and I think he's a great #2 hitter. I do think he will continue to improve. You don't win batting titles in Japan by being a shitty hitter. The reason that this deal is starting to look bad is that Hendry again gave out too many years. A four year deal for a guy who'd never played in the majors was somewhat foolish. Also, it seemed like Hendry thought maybe Fukudome would flash a little more power and drive in more runs. If he had signed Kosuke to be a #2 hitter, OBP guy, this is a great move. But I don't think that's what Hendry expected Fukudome to do when he signed him.

Jason Marquis. Hendry overpaid for three years of Marquis. For two years, the best thing you could say about Marquis was that he ate innings and he could swing the bat a little bit. Then Hendry traded him for Luis Vizcaino, whom the Cubs promptly released. Marquis proceeded to have a career year for the Rockies, with his salary paid for by the Cubs. Now I'm not saying he would have had the same year for the Cubs, but the Cubs got absolutely nothing for trading him.

How about Jason Dubois for Jody Gerut, who Hendry then traded for an ineffectual Matt Lawton? A garbage trade twofer. For some reason, Jason Dubois is back in our minor league system, stealing playing time from some kid who's actually good.

The Ugly:

Milton Bradley. It's been discussed before, but this is the worst signing Hendry has ever made. No other GM in baseball was willing to give this walking cock a multi-year deal. Only Jim Hendry let himself get suckered by Milton's 'I've Changed' sales pitch. In addition to being a gigantic asshole, Bradley has never played a full season in the majors without hurting himself or his fragile ego. To give a guy with a history of injury and malcontentism a contract longer than a year is just ludicrous. I'm no GM, but I knew and most fans who follow the sport knew that Bradley was a cancer. And here again, it seems like Hendry learned nothing from the bad atmosphere surrounding Sammy Sosa. Now, much like the 2004 offseason, Hendry is handcuffed until he can rid himself of a jerk-off right-fielder wearing #21.

And just for fun, here are two guys that Jim Hendry has coveted over the years that he wasn't able to sign or trade for:

1. Termel Sledge
2. Austin Kearns

I think that tells you all you need to know about Jim Hendry's talent evaluation skills.

Another of my issues with Hendry is that he tends to get tunnel vision and focus on landing one type of player. Look at the Juan Pierre trade. Hendry was deadset on acquiring a leadoff hitter and had set his sights on Rafael Furcal. When Furcal spurned the Cubs at the last moment, Hendry panicked and overpaid (in prospect terms) to acquire Pierre. In order to land Soriano, he went well above a reasonable offer, just so the Cubs wouldn't lose Soriano as they had Furcal. Last offseason, he ignored guys like Raul Ibanez and Bobby Abreu to focus on Milton Bradley.

So does the good outweigh the bad over the course of Hendry's tenure with the Cubs? Personally, I think Hendry should be let go for the Bradley fiasco alone. There was plenty of evidence to suggest that Bradley was a headcase, yet Hendry offered him a long term deal regardless. That one misstep is going to cost the Cubs the bulk of what is owed to Bradley. Not exactly the best way to endear yourself to a brand new owner.